This is my 150th post. Yay me! As we just cooked s'mores over a tiny little fire outside our new (well, sort of new- it's in the process of being built and we just got the roof and ceiling in) milking parlor/chicken house, I consider myself as having celebrated this milestone. Do I get a tiny little cyber award or something?
GAH, I cannot BELIEVE school starts Wednesday!!! It's like, where did the summer go??? It has me in near panic-mode trying to work on my stories. The bad thing about my stories is that they are by now so complex and involved and intertwined and I have so many back-up files explaining them and stuff in my worlds that when I change one thing I have to go digging through a dozen other files to change it everywhere. Not the most entertaining of tasks. However, it concerns my stories and so I do not care. No one minds work when it concerns what they care about, right?
If you really want to know, I was streamlining my nomenclature. I was also pondering the philosophical underpinnings of my world (yes, I actually try to ensure that my world makes philosophical sense. I'm just that sad) and considering deep questions such as what my centaurs (yes, my world has centaurs) have in common with the centaurs of various mythologies and modern fantasies, including Rick Riordan's Party Ponies and C. S. Lewis's centaurs. (We watched Prince Caspian last night. I don't agree with plenty of Narnia stuff [LOTR is just so much better!] but if there is one thing C. S. Lewis excelled at, and which the movies picked up on, is that his centaurs are truly awe-inspiring. However, as far as nomenclature goes, C. S. Lewis fell far short of Tolkien's brilliance. Some of Lewis's names were good, some were so-so, plenty stinked, but only three made me go, "Wow." They were: Tarva, Sulva, and Lurga. Interestingly, two were names of planets and one of a star. Bonus points if you know which ones.)
My search for English names for my creatures has also led me to looking up obsolete English terminology for changelings and to Google the names of supposed swamp beasts in Louisiana. You just never know with me...
This week we were on vacation! I supposed I could have blogged while we were there. However, the Wi-Fi hated me and it refused to work for several days, so... meh. I waited. And now I have tons of stuff to talk about! Oh, dear. This post is probably going to be quite long.
Saturday was mostly driving. Not much to talk about there, save that Peter and Samuel sat in the back of the car and read a steady diet of comic books, mostly Garfield and Calvin & Hobbes. Peter and Samuel have started to take Garfield, Calvin, and the Three Stooges for role models, I am sad to say. This is obviously not a good thing for the rest of the household, us poor unfortunate souls, who have to endure endless recitations of every single Three Stooges episode ever.
I drove pretty much all the way to Scottsboro, Elaine took over until almost Chattanooga, and dad drove the rest. We went to the Smokies, by the way.
Sunday, we hiked to Laurel Falls. It was not a bad hike; the slope was gentle and it was paved all the way up. People were actually pushing strollers and wheelchairs up the incline. Wow. There were signs posted warning people about the slick rocks and telling them to keep off the waterfall, but of course no one listens.
Monday we went to Dollywood! Peter and I had vowed to ride all the upside-down roller coasters, and we stuck true to our promise!!! The first thing we did was ride the wooden roller coaster, Thunderhead. In retrospect that was not a great idea because it was (1) a wooden roller coaster, which meant that although it did not go upside down it jerked you around a lot and (2) it's a pretty intense one, seeing as how it won Best Wooden Roller Coaster or something like that in 2005 and 2006. I loved it, after I got over the first initial, "Oh, my," moment when we got to the top of the lift hill (the tall, initial hill with the chains that provides the momentum for the rest of the track) and I had the split-second thought, "Where did the rest of the track go?" Cue massive drop.
Anyway, mom and Elaine came away queasy and with headaches, so they ended up staying behind on benches and taking pictures from safe distances for the next hour or so. Peter and I, undaunted, rode Thunderhead AGAIN. Most of the roller coasters now have cameras and when you get off you can see your picture (and buy it for an exorbitant $15). Elaine's eyes were closed. She admitted that she doesn't look the whole time. Peter had a hilariously terrified expression the first go around, while my mouth was open since every time he squealed with fear I just laughed harder.
Next we went to the Mystery Mine. Cliche name, I know. Peter and I decided to call it, "the Mines of Moria," instead. It was the one I did NOT go on the last time we were at Dollywood and which I regretted. So it (and the Wild Eagle, but I'm getting there) was the ride I had NOT been on before. There were seven cars, not hooked up together in a train but by themselves, each with two rows of four seats each. The attendants were separating people into groups in the line and loading them on in a hurry, trying to keep the ride going. Dad, Peter, and I and some lady got in one car. There was an initial drop just to give you a taste of what was coming, and then it shot up, went around the curve in the dark (80% of the ride was indoors) with glowing red lights to imply evil bats watching us, and then the car tilted up and stopped. We were faced with a vertical hill going straight up to a waterwheell under the sky. I had NOT expected straight up and down! We got up to the top and went straight down, whirled through the darkness some more, and briefly shot out of the building, twisted, and went back in. Some of the decor in the queue line stated that miners consider birds bad luck. Naturally, there were stuffed ravens/crows (couldn't tell the different) scattered strategically throughout the ride, and there was an animatronic talking vulture outside the ride building. Anyway, as our car emerged from the building the first time, a really stupid pigeon flew across right in front of us. That would have been REALLY nasty if we had hit it. Fortunately, we did not. So we shot back in the building, whirled around some more, and came to another stop at the bottom of ANOTHER straight incline. There was a TV screen at the top of this one, showing a stormy sky with lightning and a wooden structure crashing down on us. Yikes! We cranked up to the top of the incline, stopped, and were greeted by real flamethrowers. REAL FLAMETHROWERS. We could feel the heat. I actually yelled, "I wasn't expecting real pyrotechnics!" as we zipped straight down. (Yes, I am so nerdy I used the word pyrotechnics while being jerked about by a scary roller coaster.) We emerged from the building again, UPSIDE DOWN, and remained that way for several seconds until we righted and zoomed back to the station.
It was fun, though.
After that we went on the new ride at Dollywood, the Wild Eagle. It is America's first wing coaster. No, Dollywood does not pay me to advertise their rides; I'm gushing of my own free will. No monetary compensation or kickback of any sort. Anyway, the deal with wing coasters is that there is NOTHING under you. The main part of the car is over the track, and it has limbs that stretch out on either side, to which the chairs and harnesses are attached, so that you are DANGLING over nothing. The cars were shaped like eagles, and the wings were the limbs holding the chairs. It had a VERY impressive lift hill and proceeded to drop 13 stories at 61 mph, zooming through four inversions and a couple of near-misses with nearby pine trees. It was a long track, but at those speeds one train is back at the station before the other takes off. (Oh, I'm so punny.) I LOVED it. The ride was so smooth, no jerking at all. The first time I rode it, I just couldn't make any noise. It was that amazing. It was like one of the dreams I sometimes have about being able to fly (admit it, everyone has those dreams) had come to life. I just gaped in pure awe and enjoyed the feeling of wheeling through the sky. It was that wonderful. I was so happy that later as we were leaving the park we came back by that way again and rode it again. I proceeded to get a T-shirt with the ride on it. Yes, I rode the Wild Eagle and all I got was a lousy T-shirt. Haha, no, the shirt is actually great. Peter got one as well, a different one that has an eagle with its claws and it reads, "Go Ahead And SCREAM." Mine is black with an eagle and an outline of the ride. -- Oh, and at the entrance to the ride there is a four-ton eagle sculpture. We got a picture next to it. Whenever mom uploads the camera pictures to the computer, I'll have to get a hold of some of the pictures and post them to my blog. I haven't put any new pictures on here in forever and I could use a few more. Also, at the beginning of the queue was a wooden sign that read, "THEY SHALL SOAR ON WINGS LIKE EAGLES," and even listed the source of the quote: Isaiah 40:31. (I think.) EPIC WIN!
Yeah, yeah, yeah, and later we went on the Tennesse Tornado, which goes 70 mph but is jerkier. After the Wild Eagle, it just wasn't the same.
You could tell the Wild Eagle was a new ride. There were lights on the cars to indicate things about its mechanisms and if the restraints were properly fastened, etc. I am pretty sure the ride had its own COMPUTER ROOM. Hey, it worked- the ride was amazing, the decor was beautiful, the music that played in the queue line was awe-inspiring... and the view was great.
We also went on all the typical park rides, like the swings, the sky ride, the scrambler, the frisbee of doom (as we called it). The Frisbee of Doom, actually the Dizzy Disk but I prefer my name for it, consisted of a spinning saucer that went up and down, while spinning mind you, on a semicircular track. Elaine of course refused to go on it again so Dad, Peter, Samuel (I think) and me went on it. Before us there was this Asian kid who got on. He was listening to his iPod the ENTIRE TIME and was waving his arms and nodding his head and generally jamming to his music while being spun around and around and up and down on the Frisbee of Doom. He was quite entertaining.
Enough about Dollywood. On Tuesday it was rainy, so mom and dad went out to the outlet stores looking, as mom always does, for kitchen stuff. We went to Mass for the vigil of the Assumption that night at Holy Cross in Pigeon Forge. We went there several years ago and my impression had been that it really did look like the former Protestant church it was. My impression this time was much more favorable, aided, no doubt, by the gigantic gorgeous crucifix hanging over the tabernacle. Gigantic gorgeous crucifixes always improve my opinion of a church (Our Lady of the Valley in Birmingham also went up in my books on gaining a similar crucifix).
The music was... okay; it was just really fast, confusing, and a lot more contemporary-sounding than St. Michael's very traditional liturgical melodies. And whoever was singing had no idea how to count. I'm sorry, but really. A whole note has 4 beats, a half note 2, and a quarter note 1, at least in 4/4 time. Is it that HARD?
Oh, and the other thing that bothered me... there were two women acting as altar servers. Not so terrible in and of itself. THEY WERE WEARING SURPLICES. That's a big no-no. Women and girls do NOT wear surplices. They can wear albs. Here at St. Michael's the altar servers wear albs, which is right and good. They used to wear surplices when it was just boys doing all the altar serving. The only time we see a surplice out here now is when David Locker assists at important Masses (think Holy Week) and directs all the altar serves and everthing. A surplice, for those of you less well liturgically informed, consists of a long black garment with a shorter white garment, usually edged with lace or something like that, over it. Women are not supposed to wear it and those two were. Grr.
The priest was foreign so it was kind of hard to understand him, but his theology appeared to be orthodox. I'll forgive his occasional wordings that seemed slightly less orthodox since I highly doubt English is his native language.
Wednesday... groan... Wednesday we went hiking again. Not a bad thing in and of itself. We packed drinks and sandwiches. Dad had heard about this driving loop with trails you could hike branching off it from either Regan Ragland or Donna Peters (I'm not sure... mom wasn't either). It sounded promising. We decided to hike to Rainbow Falls, come back to the car, eat lunch, and hit another trail. Well... it didn't turn out that way. The sign said: RAINBOW FALLS 2.7 MI. Everyone assumed it meant 2.7 miles round trip. Except me. But I didn't say anything. This happens a lot. I have private reservations about something or am silently questioning a decision on someone's part, but I keep my mouth shut since I don't want to cause trouble or I assume that the person knows what they are doing. Then they realize that something's gone wrong and I say, "Well, I wondered..." Mom usually replies, "Why didn't you tell me?" I then say, "Well, I thought you knew what you were doing." Mom: "Haven't you learned that I never know what I am doing?"
Anyway, I still haven't managed to break this habit since I never actually THINK of actually saying anything! Double grr! (Oh, yes, and mom wanted to see a bear. Knowing how much bodily harm bears are capable of, I was less enthusiastic. To my relief, the bears did not show.)
So we had been going for nearly an hour and dad asked some hikers coming down if we were halfway there. One laughed and said, "Keep dreaming." Cue revelation that it was actually 5.4 miles roundtrip, and consequent grumpiness from me. (In most of the pictures we took that day, I do NOT look happy. I have my arms folded or I am giving the camera one of my, "See what I have to put up with?" looks. I hate doing forced smiles for the camera since they turn out so bad, so I end up usually having a longsuffering expression due to the goofiness of Peter and Samuel around me. I also usually have my eyes shut in pictures. This adds up to there being few good pictures of me. I will probably regret that fact when I am older, but as for now I don't care much.) Actually, I was probably more annoyed at myself for not saying anything than otherwise, but I'm not good at conveying such feelings. I also have the tendency of stating things inadvertently in such a manner that it sounds like complaining. Not good. I am also not the best about saying what I do like, so... Hey, you should know by now that I am not good with feelings!
It took us pretty much nearly three hours to get to Rainbow Falls. It wasn't much water, but it was a very impressive drop... I'm no good with distances... maybe forty or more feet? Dunno. Dad would know. He can estimate distances and stuff like that. There were more signs posted telling hikers not to climb on the waterfall. We all did it anyway. Noting the slippery rocks, I was not willing to do so but mom and dad wanted a picture, so...
Oh, and as we left the falls to hike back down, IT STARTED RAINING! Oh, joy! Actually, that part was kind of fun. Samuel and I pretty much ran down the muddy, rocky path in the rain, a stupid thing to do in retrospect (actually, I was semi-aware at the time of the stupidness of it) but still kind of fun. It took us an hour or so to get down. Samuel and I beat everyone to the parking lot, took advantage of the primitive restrooms (translate: holes in ground with potty seats over them) and informed every passerby that no, the restrooms were not occupied or that yes, the restrooms were occupied for the next 15 minutes waiting for the rest to show up. Seriously, we were just sitting there on rocks nearby and every person going to the bathroom felt compelled to ask us about their current occupancy. I guess they figured that we would know and I didn't really mind answering... it's just curious that every single person asked.
We spent the rest of Wednesday recovering.
On Thursday we came home. 5.4 mile hike coupled with six or more hours of sitting in a car = extreme stiffness. When we got out of Arby's I could barely walk. Elaine couldn't move much either. Cue amusement from mom and dad when we informed them of this today (I am not stiff now, thank you very much), since they thought they had been the only sore ones. Dad told me I was getting old. I was not amused. My birthday is in less than 10 days. Eek! I'm not sensitive about my age yet but it's like, SHEESH, WHERE DID THE TIME GO?
Cue, "The Days Go By," music by Keith Urban.
In other news, I am officially displeased with the UNA Bookstore. How hard is it to get the list of people with bookstore scholarships? It happens every year. They should be prepared for this. You'd think with today being the day upperclassmen move in (freshmen was yesterday) they would have the list in so people could get their books early. NO. They weren't even sure they'd have the entire list by Wendesday. WHAT? Seriously, what??? Do they think no one gets their books before the second week of class? Some classes actually do more than read the syllabus the first day, you know. In Cal 1 we did a review worksheet. Anyway. I am displeased with the Bookstore. Although I saw a copy of Thor there and was tempted to get it. A million thank-yous to the wonderful Amy for introducing me to the Marvel cinematic universe!!! I want to get Thor myself and inflict it upon my family. I have been informing Elaine of all the funny parts ever since then.
Wow, long post. I should probably stop ranting by now...
In Pace Christi,