Friday, July 27, 2007

Peppers, A Gringo, and Baby Snails

Added July 23, 2008:

Yes, I had baby snails living in my back for a week. I think it's gross too.

Apparently, this photo is my fifteen minutes of fame. It's ok. I think it's funny. I just noticed today that the picture of the baby snails living in my back is the number one Google image result when people search for snails or baby snails. If you're here because you're curious about that, read on. Basically, I went swimming in a gross camp pond and got snails in my back. It's called swimmer's itch. They cleared up in a few weeks, and all is better now. But if you want feel free to read on. If you're just looking for pictures of snails, check this out. Or, you can feel free to use the picture I took of a snail while we were in Bryson City. (Below) There are actually some other pretty pictures on that post. Go here if you want to check them out. Feel free to buzz around my blog while you're here if you want to. Of course, I won't be offended if you don't. But I will hunt you down and vomit baby snails into your back fat.

Right. On to the original post:

Ok, so we are leaving for Byrson City, NC for a week with Babs and Carrie. I wanted to leave you with a few things to ruminate on while we are gone.

1. We found an Indian Grocery store here in Wheeling. It's run by a man named Hari (Pronounced hah-DEE). He offers Indian cooking classes which we'll be participating in sometime soon. In those classes I am almost guaranteed how to make something that is Indian Super Yum.

2. Damian bought me some Dosa mix from the Indian Grocery for my birthday this year. I have been making these Dosas and I love them. They are pretty much, Super Yum. I like to serve them with potato curry, and rice. (I put carrots and green beans in with the potato curry to make that super yum.)

3. I like to serve those Dosas with a bit of Hot Pepper paste made from these incredibly hot peppers that I buy at the Indian Grocery. They are freaking hot, and Super Yum.

4. I turned those hot peppers into a lovely super-friggin-hot-sauce that I pretty much put on everything now. It's good, and... you guessed it... Super Yum.

5. Remember this?

Yeah. Turns out, there were tiny snails in that water. One of those tiny snails bit my back and vomited eggs into my back. Those eggs then hatched and tiny snail larvae swam in my back. They died (because the tiny baby snails can't live in people blood. They can only live in duck blood.) and now my body is having a mild allergic reaction to those baby snails that is very similar to a poison ivy outbreak. The rash is constrained to this small area, but it gets pretty annoying. The rash will disappear in a few days without any medical treatment, and I don't have to do anything and it's not threatening at all. Just a fun story about baby snails living in my back. Apparently all that Indian food has made me super yum.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

It's a Girl!!!

We found out just before we left for camping, so Chronologically this should be under the camping post, but I wanted it to be the first thing people see when they come by. We went in for our sonogram and found out that we'll be having a GIRL!!!!!

That's right... a baby Girl! And just so you know, Rachel likes the color purple, I like green and orange.

Her name will be Norah, and I think she's beautiful. So... without further ado... here she is!

During the sonogram, we saw Norah stick her tongue out at us. Not even kidding. The technician even printed off the picture of it for us with an arrow by her tongue. It was so cool, we saw her sitting there, and then her mouth opened and we saw her tongue move out.

Hi Norah!

Camping at Cooper's Rock

Damian, Rachel, Norah and I all went camping this weekend at Pine Ridge Camp near Cooper's Rock in West Virginia. (That's a long sentence.) It was a ton of fun. Here are the highlights.

The drive down to the camp site was about an hour and a half. We packed just about everything we could into our Saturn, so it was a bit crowded on the way down. But we had fun.

When we got there, we set up camp. We had a very large campsite available to us. It was pretty far back in the woods so there weren't any campers near by. That meant lots of wildlife... read on, you'll see what I mean.

The first fire...

Here's the tent we stayed in. All three of us slept on the queen-sized air mattress that Damian brought. (Though I don't know Rachel can say she was sleeping if she was up every fourteen minutes to pee. Poor pregnant lady...)

The three of us just after setting up camp. I think we had corn on the cob in that pot.


This collapsable table was under the canopy that I put up. We borrowed the tarp and the table from our new friend Jennifer. She's super nice. Thanks Jennifer.

I was very proud of myself for setting up the canopy, and when it started to rain, it was a very pleasant place to sit. We had some wine, and Damian played the guitar while I played the drum and Rachel sang. (No. Not really.) It only rained for about an hour or so, and we ended up the evening next to the fire.

Ooohhh... fire... again...

That night, we had a couple visitors stop by. I awoke at four in the morning to the sound of raccoons fighting a few yards away. I shined the flashlight out at our cooler to it was wide open. I jumped out of the air mattress and walked out to the site in my underwear trying not to swear. Those persnickety little raccoons came by and must have laughed themselves fat while they gorged on our hamburger meat, hot dogs, and a whole package of homemade pancakes that I had frozen. Grrr.....

Oh well.

We cleaned up the mess and stoked up the fire a little bit. Damian and I then stayed up until the sun came up because I knew those little black-masked crooks would be back for more. When the sun came up, we found four or five half frozen, half eaten hamburger patties strewn about the ferns. We also found some corn on the cob, and a bunch of empty bags. Wildlife really shouldn't litter as much as they do.

After the clean up, we made a light breakfast.

After Breakfast, Damian and Rachel took a nap while I built a little oven next to the camp fire that was all the rage for the rest of the meals. Right on the other side of this little stone window were some stones that you could set the pan on. Between those stones were the coals from the fire. It worked great. Oh, and our old PA plates? That was the fan for stoking up the fire. That was a little charm as well. I'm bringing it with me every time I go camping now.

Damian and Rachel got up at about ten. Then, we took heated showers (sweet!) on the camp grounds, and then we drove out to Cooper's Rock. It's a beautiful overlook nearby that provides one of the most beautiful views I think I've ever seen. After a brief stay at the rock, Damian and I walked down to Haystack Rock. This boulder used to have a few popular climbing routes on it, but a few years ago erosion caused it to slide out of the ground and sometime soon, it will suck right out of the mud and go crashing down the mountain. On the other side of Haystack rock there is a sharp drop and from there the mountain just spills down. I definitely would not want to be on that rock when it goes... but it sure is pretty to look at. (Needless to say climbing is banned on Haystack rock and rightly so... it's an incredibly dangerous boulder to be on.)

The view from Cooper's rock. It's high enough to make me feel like I'm going to fall over. Scary and cool all at the same time.

This gives you a little better feel for how high the outlook is.

I tried to do a Timesque panoramic. It's harder than it sounds...

Here is Haystack Rock. It's HUGE! See Damian and I in the shadows over there on the left? Between us and the rock is a gap in the ground, that's where the rock was a few years ago. It's since slipped out creating that little gap. Yeah, I wish I could be there to watch this thing fall down the mountain. It's just a matter of time.

Here you can see me standing at the base of Haystack Rock. The dip that I'm in is where the rock used to be. That little gap between the ground and the face of the rock is about eight feet deep.

Damian snapped this pretty picture of Haystack Rock and part of the view on the other side... can you imagine climbing on the other side of that rock? You would feel like you were hundreds of feet off the ground.

After lunch, we went to the pond and went swimming in water that we probably should not have been swimming in. Then two out of shape young men played Boccie in the yard. (We ended up utilizing the slide a few times.)

Da dum, Da dum, Da dum...

Baaaa!!!!!! GOTCHA!!!!

This was our most creative round of Boccie. And no, we're not naked. After Boccie, Damian taught me to play paddle ball. It's a fun game that I think I'll try to teach my family for the next time we all go camping. (If there ever is a next time.) After that, we basically just hung out by the fire all night.


Rachel. Cold, bundled, and sleeping. Oh yeah, it's nine o'clock.

Around ten o'clock or so, while Damian and I sat at the fire, we could hear snapping twigs in the woods around us. I shined the flashlight out into the ferns and a raccoon stuck his little masked face up and stared right at me. He seemed confused at how bright it had become so quickly, so I threw a rock at him. The rock barely scared him and he lunked back off into the woods.

We burned logs and threw rocks at coons for a few hours before heading off to bed. The next morning we made breakfast and closed up camp. It was a very nice weekend all around.

For breakfast we had potatoes with onions and sausage, scrambled eggs, and roasted pineapple. You can see everything resting neatly on the little oven...

Oh, we had some home made jelly and sour dough bread as well. This was easily the best camping food I've ever had.

Breakfast the first day out. Potatoes, onions, corn and bagels.

I forgot to mention, I also made Damian burn his pot holders because they were gross. But I felt bad about it later, and now I think I'm a jerk for making him do that...

This was my first Jiffy Pop experience! So COOL!

Oh yeah, and I forgot, we found this little guy when we got there hiding under some rocks by the fire ring. I don't know what kind it was, but I think it's just a black rat snake. Anyway, he crawled under the rocks by the fire and we never saw him again. I hope he didn't melt in there or anything.

Friday, July 06, 2007


Well, Rachel pretty much hated that last header and footer that I made. (For those of you using an RSS Feed, I change my header and footer pretty much every time I post. Go ahead, check er out!)

So, I'm making a brand new post! This post is going to be about Fire.

Here's the thing. I woke up this morning, thinking about a camp fire. (I don't know why.) And I realized, I don't know what fire is. Think about it! It's not something that you can bottle up and keep, it's interesting. What IS fire?

So, I checked out Wiki. Here's what I learned:

The flame itself occurs within a region of gas where intense exothermic reactions are taking place. An exothermic reaction is a chemical reaction that takes place within a substance whereby heat and energy are released as the substance changes to a simpler chemical form. As chemical reactions occur within the fuel being burned, light is usually emitted as photons are released by the oxidation of the fuel. Depending upon the specific chemical and physical change taking place within the fuel the flame may or may not emit light.

That was a bit complicated, so I've drawn a picture to help you understand it a little better.

What is Fire? Fire is this:

There, that should pretty much sum it up for you. If you have any questions, feel free to consult a text book. Because I still don't really know what fire is.

The end.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Top Ten Fears

Today, I digress. Here are the top ten things I'm afraid of.

1. Aliens.
Seriously. I know it's stupid, but it's true. When I was young, I used to believe in Aliens and thought they were stalking me and doing experiments on me. I'm pretty sure they were trying to find out why I was so small.

2. Getting eaten by a shark.
I wouldn't go wind surfing during our Honeymoon because I was afraid of being eaten by a shark, and when I was young, part of me thought that I would be attacked while I was swimming in Lake Erie. In case you don't know, there are no sharks in Lake Erie.

3. Heights.
I like to Rock climb, but being up high makes me sick sick sick sick sick.

4. Ghosts.
When I was young I also used to think that our house was haunted. This fear was further exacerbated by stories told by my brothers about how they woke up cross legged in the basement. Believe it or not, these fears were NOT alleviated when I found a pentagram carved into a brick in basement fireplace.

5. Hook worms.
Just think about it. A worm. A hook? C'mon. Sheesh...

6. Demons.
I was 20 years old when I watched the exorcist by myself in a very nasty scary house on 17th street in Canton. After watching the movie, I couldn't sleep so I walked down the dark alleys back to my dorm room. Now, every time I move into a new place, I find myself exorcising the place by blessing each room. Of course, I do this when I'm home alone.

7. Helgramites.
If you're not an angler, you're probably not familiar with these baby Dobsonflies. Believe me, they are easily the most frightening animals alive. I will never EVER touch one with my bare hands if I have anything to say about it. I'll wrestle a starving bear before I go near one of these mad puppies.

8. The guy on the other side of the highway deciding to end it all by driving head on into my car.
It's totally possible, and frankly, I wonder why more people don't worry about it.

9. Finding out that Jesus is a lie.
I honestly wonder about it. But if I found out that Jesus really wasn't the Christ, it would pull every rug out from under me. And, well, what if?

10. Finding out I'm really just a brain in a petrie dish in Nebraska.
Who knows, maybe my brain is being plucked and prodded by some evil scientist who turns the right toothpick to make me think I'm blogging on the internet and none of this is really real.