sherron0: (prozac)



From Face Book:
Am doing unpacking, and laundry, and mail sorting, and phone calling, and re-packing, and other just downright productive, if boring, getting-ready stuff.

<a friend> comments: 
yeah, never the fun part of travel, that's for sure. I use to do all of the work, get the pets ready for the sitter, get the kids ready, pack my stuff and their stuff. Then husband would run in, throw in a pair of shorts, a few shirts in the suitcase. Then he always wondered why I was so stressed at the beginning of the trip.

I reply:

--for most of our trips, your scenario was mine. But since it's a rope/rappelling/camping related trip, and Mark is the designated "Camping Chair" he has to get all that stuff r...eady. And "the kids" are now just Thomas, who will be staying at home and pet/house sitting. Not having to worry about the kids, the pets, and the house while we're gone relieves a TON of stress!

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From a recent letter to a friend:

Two weeks from yesterday we drive to Nashville and get on the plane to Sacramento, on our way to Yosemite so Mark can rappel and climb El Capitan. Quite the adventure for a man about to turn 50.  Our total travel time is two weeks.  We have a day or so on each end for flying, and sleeping and showering in real hotels.  Rental car (SUVish) from Sacto to the park. But 8–10 days in tents and going  down to Curry Village to shower and eating camp food and fast food.  I really do love him beyond the point of reasonableness, I'm telling you.

I will NOT be rappelling in Yosemite.  This one, rightfully so, requires experience and qualifying rappels that I do not have.  That and the fact that the hike from the "high" camp (Yosemite Creek Camp if you know anything about the park, it's accessed from the Tioga pass road) where we will be, to "top" camp from where they will rappel, is a grueling nine hour, 9-10 mile, carrying rigging and gear backwoods trek. That usually takes all day, then you are exhausted and sleep up top and rappel the next day.  I'd rather be martyred.

There's 32 people total, I think, and not everybody will rappel every day of course.  I think Mark plans two rappels and one climb up rope.  Rappels are about 45 minutes, and I think climbs vary between 3-6 hours on a rope.  People climb in pairs.  I will be "on belay" at the bottom the first day Mark rappels.  There's a whole, complicated, excel spreadsheet of where everyone is supposed to be and when.

Judge if you want.  We're all going to die.  I intend to deserve it.

ETA details
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My beloved was so good as to write up a trip report for out North Carolina adventure on Whitesides Mountain, so I thought I'd just steal it and add a few comments.  The long and short of it was I rapelled 650'ft off a cliff!

Sherron and I had quite the adventure this past weekend, and I thought I would relate.  We drove over to Highlands, NC again for more rappelling off the big cliff.  The main reason was supposed to be for me to get a 'weighted rope' rappel in, in preparation for the big rappel in Yosemite.  The second reason was so Sherron could get a long rappel, as she is supposed to get two Whitesides rappels in to qualify for the Bridge Day rappel in October.

The weather did not cooperate.  Sherron and I left town at a useless hour on Friday — not early enough to get up on the cliff when we got there, and early enough to have a lot of time on our hands before turning in.  So, feeling groggy from the long drive, we just ate Chinese food 'in town' and stared out the window.  It was cloudy, and after a bit, the sky opened up and the bottom dropped out.  "Wow," we thought.  "Glad we're not up on the mountain after all,"  Hah.  When the rains ended, we drove down off the plateau to find the campsite and set up camp.  It cleared off and all was well.

Saturday dawned sunny and we were excited at the prospects.  Sherron started the day off with a headache/migraine and got off to a slow start, but was a trooper.  Enough of the right kind of drugs allowed her to put a game face on
(Meaning I got the headache down from 8 to 4 on a 10 scale), and we drove over to the trailhead.  Sherron and I, along with TinY and Nikky, were the last ones up the trail.  TinY forced us to stop often, which allowed everyone to get up the hill without being dead on our feet.

One rope had been rigged the previous day (Yes, folks had been up on the mountain in that rain) and two more needed to be rigged.


(The following is details, interesting to a few, the important part for later is to note that there are three ropes) The task of rigging one of them fell to me and Kevin Mulligan.  It was a spot I had been over several times before and I was fairly comfortable with that.  In spite of that, it was still a lot of pressure and we had a few stops and starts.  The rigging point was a cluster of bolts 50 feet down a bare 45-degree granite slope from the trail at the top.  There was a nice big ledge with places to stand and work.  To get to it, you get on rope at the fence up top and back down the slope with your rappel rack keeping you in control.  From the rig point, we tied in the main 750' line, and two shorter ropes.  One of the short ropes was to have something to tie rope pads to, and the other was the 'edge attendant' line.  From the bolts, the slope continued at 45 degrees for maybe 25', then steepened to 60 degrees for 15' then steepened again for a few feet before encountering the last little ledge that was the actual lip.  I got two spots padded.  We thought we getting ready to go, when the weather came up over the mountain on us.


We had watched the clouds build, and listened to thunder off in the distance.  When the lightning finally started cracking above us, we were all called back topside and huddled under the rain tarp.  We were warned to be ready for rain, so we all had our rain gear and put it on, and we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  It rained.  It thundered.  It hailed.  We huddled together some to keep warm.  There were 20 of us, I think.  At one point, I was sitting on the ground under the tarp when a particularly close strike hit.  Some folks said they heard a weird noise like a click, maybe.  I don't remember the noise, because my right foot jumped from a large electrical shock.  Other folks got a jolt in the butt, and we were going, "Did you feel that?"  It was spooky.  After a few more hours, there was a lull in the storm.  It was mid-afternoon, but some of the folks were ready to pack it in.  Sherron was among those who decided to head down, so I figured that I wouldn't see her again until nightfall.

The rains came back, and more huddling under the tarp ensued.  But it wasn't as bad, and it seemed like the sky was lightening.  During another lull, I decided that I would go down to 'my' rig point and hang out, just getting some rope time, even if it might be to no end.  Mike Mirov came down to join me, and as I was looking back upslope at him, I happened to see a bolt of lightning practically silhouetting him.  So it was back up to the top and under the tarp again!  But it was a short spell, and we were back out, with the sky lightening and the sun peeking out in places.  So all of a sudden, we were go!  Of the people left on the mountain, the only ones that got gear on were me, TinY, Perry, Mike and Robert.  Perry needed a weighted rope rappel to qualify for El Cap, and there was one more spot on 'my' rope that needed padding, and it fell to me to go down first, pad the spot and continue down to the bottom to belay and be the weight on the rope.  That meant I didn't get a weighted rappel that day, but I agreed to it.  Team first.

The last spot to be padded was about 80' below the lip, where the cliff face came back out to touch the rope line.  I had to stop, tie off, reach out and tie the pad to the bolt without dropping it, then continue on down.  On the bottom, I called off rope and Mike called on.  Robert had gotten on the second rope to follow TinY on down, leaving Perry behind at the top.  Perry was worried about getting his rappel in, but finally got to come down after Mike.

By that time, Sherron had gotten back up to the top, along with Perry's wife Sharon.  She had met Bruce White down in the parking lot, and when it was clearing off, Bruce insisted Sherron go back up and get her rappel in.  He even carried her gear for her.  That was great of him!  So I'm down at the bottom when I hear Sherron on the radio, "Mark Ostrander, Where are you?"  "I'm at the bottom."  "Well, I'm at the top."  So I thought that was great - she was going to get her rappel in after all.  After a few radio calls, I realized that she was 'on approach' to the lip and didn't have anyone with her!  I'm down below having kittens at that point.  When Sherron made a radio call asking which of the
three ropes was the main line, I about had a stroke.  My blood pressure went up, I could feel my lips tingling, and I told Mike I could use a Valium at that point.  TinY was monitoring this all, but said he could tell from Sherron's tone of voice that she was managing it well.  After a period of time, I could see Sherron silhouetted against the sky - on the right rope - and I felt better.  But she still had to get past the Velcro rope pad I had placed on the way down.  I wasn't sure that she had ever done that task before.  I needn't have worried.  Sherron did great, and I watched her smoothly descend the rope.  She had a great ride (650'!) down the rope and was justifiably thrilled when she got down.  The first time I did that rappel, I had TinY right there with me at the lip on an edge line, coaching me and keeping me calm.  And Sherron managed it on her own!  I'm amazed and proud. 

Sherron decided that she would prefer the hike around the cliff and back up in preference to climbing all that ways on the rope,
(This is not true.  I would have preferred to go back up the rope.  I’d been told how bad the hike was.  But it was really late, and the conditions were bad, and I didn’t want people having to wait up at the top for me.) and I agreed to hike with her.  Mike was going to climb with Perry, but decided he wasn't quite up to frogging all that ways, and he hiked with us.  Both TinY and Nikky tell people that climbing the rope is preferable to the awful hike, but you have to experience it once to know.  The hike about killed Sherron after the rope didn't.  It's a lot of scrambling up and down, with a long, very steep pitch at the end.  She managed it without throwing up, but it was close.  It took us about an hour and a half to get back down to the cars, (“normal” hike time is about an hour) but we made it.  We made it back down shortly after the crowd from the top.

If we hurried, we could get back into town before the pizza place closed, so off we all went.  The food was great and Nikky had arranged for a pair of birthday cakes for TinY, so we had a surprise party too.  It was fun.  Then back to the campsite for the obligatory huge bonfire.  It had been raining again, but they managed to get the fire going, with the help of considerable accelerants.  Sherron was pooped and crashed in the tent, while the rest of us had a few beers and enjoyed the fire. 

We had left the cliff rigged with the understanding that we'd go up Sunday morning and clean it and bring it all down.  Tiny had been left with the task of de-rigging solo on an outing last Fall, and I told him I'd be around to help this time.  So we got up in the morning, packed up and headed into town for real coffee and on to the trailhead again.  Our camping gear was supposed to go on the trailer and be carried out to Yosemite, but it was all damp, so Sherron agreed to stay down at the parking lot and dry stuff out: both ours and the Manke's. 

(Then there's several paragraphs about Mark's day at the top of the hill.  I spent the day reading, spreading things out to dry, moving them around, etc.)

I was hoping that the day would have gone quickly and Sherron and I could be back on the road home, but it ended up being something like 3:30 before we got down to the parking lot.  Oh well.  Everyone trickled in and we sat around and pooled what food and beverages we had, and had a brief picnic, but then the rains came.  Everyone scattered to their cars and, one by one, drove off.  I had to get our camping gear back in the duffel and loaded onto the El Cap trailer, I and stood out under the back hatch on the Vue and got that ready with out getting the gear too wet.  A brief lull allowed me to back our car over to the trailer and I threw it aboard, and finally we were done.  A honk and  wave to the Mankes and the Hrizuks and we were gone at about 4:30.  It was a long, but almost uneventful drive (coming into Huntsville, I was tired and mis-judged my closing speed and almost ran over a slow car) and it was about 6 and a half hours later that we pulled in the driveway at home.  Thomas was glad to see us, as were the dogs, and we were glad to be home to real food and a dry bed! 

It was a good outing, but really draining.  Sherron could hardly move yesterday. As in, I slept all the way through Monday!

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I'm in a hotel lobby using the WIFI while Mark's in a meeting in Chattanooga. He's in an SCCI (Southeastern Cave Conservancy) meeting. Tonight we go over to the Sewannee Mountain Grotto monthly meeting and potluck, and we're spendingthe night with friends (Ann & Blaine), and Sunday I'm going to a planning meeting about a big Cave Event and Mark's going caving with Tina (his cave wife) and her kids. And that night we're eating dinner with that family.
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 I found Blackberries in a field on the way to the cave (long story, will post later) and I just made the guys stand there in the sun while I got all scratched up and my hair tangled in the branches, and I picked and ate as many as I could. 

I don't really 'bond' with raspberries, since they didn't grow wild for the picking where I grew up. 

But Blackberries! Ummm.  And you know, those things in the stores are as far removed from blackberries as store tomatoes are from the real thing.  I'd been thinking that my tastes had just changed over the years, and I just didn't like them anymore.  Nope.  I just hadn't had the real thing in years.  And now I won't even try to eat store bought blackberries.
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Turned out to just be mostly long and boring.  (Should have made Min pick me up on her way to DragonCon. *g*) 

Mark left Friday morning for "Pupfest" --a caving/camping outing every Labor Day instituted by a caver named, you guessed it, "Pup".  It's a big thing, peole come from 3 or 4 states, and one flew in from Canada. And he didn't get back until late Monday, and I just missed him horribly.   More than I anticipated.  We're usually just fine for a few days apart (remember I spent a good deal of the summer in TN), but this time, even tho Thomas was here, I just felt lonely.  Maybe it was the last straw for too many days spent apart this summer.  Appearantly, he missed me too, because the highlight of the holiday was Monday night, just the two of us.

And I didn't just sit around all weekend.  I was busy doing "fun" stuff, it just wasn't distracting enough.

On Saturday, Thomas got me up fairly early for a Saturday.  I'd mumbled something the day before about bookstore.... So we spent the day doing the "girlfriend" thing (if your girlfriend is a geek).  Best Buy, Hobby Lobby, Barnes & Noble, The Fret Shop (they sell violins, etc.). 

And in the middle somewhere, we ate out at a little restaurant called the "Wild Flour Bistro" which was not what I was expecting, and way more expensive than I was expecting, but what the heck.  I thought it would be a little specialty cafe, maybe feature bread products, or not, sort of like The Atlanta Bread Company, but not a chain.  But it was very fancy, real table cloths, hovering waiters, and entrees like 'Rack of Lamb.'  We both had Prime Rib au jus (the special) and desserts. He had Keylime cheesecake, and I had a hot fudge and Grand Marnier sundae with pecans, real whipped cream, and a cherry.  I had both the house red wine (forgot the name) with dinner, and coffee with dessert.  Both were excellent.  you can tell oodles about a restaurant by the coffee.  And the bathroom was spotless.  I may get Mark to dress up and go with me sometimes.  

Thomas was embarrassed about being under-dressed, but I assured him that the restaurant experience just wasn't what it used to be, and most people would be causally dressed. And it was very early, so we were one of the first 2 parties there.  (I was "business casual" but he was just khakis and a Tee.) Not long after a group of four walked in with their shorts and tees, looking like they'd come straight from the yardwork.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not as much of a snob as that sounds.  I just come from a time when going to a restaurant was a treat, a special occasion, worth getting cleaned up for, not just something that happened 4 days a week because no on has time to cook.  And if you were going to (knowingly) pay those kinds of prices, dressing for the occasion makes it just that much more special, and worth the money.

And Sunday my older son graced us with his presence because he needed me to go to the phone store with him to get a replacement for the phone he'd broken.  I was glad to see him, and find out about classes this fall, etc.  I just wish he came for more reasons than need.  We all miss him.  And Rhiannon manages to find time to visit with her family.  It's difficult to watch him struggle with things that I could show him the easy way for, if he'd just ask.  And yes, I have to wait until he asks.  Remember how well you listened to all that unsolicited advice your parents gave you?  No matter how many times or how I say it, I can't convince him that independent does not mean the same thing as alone.  Far from it.  Knowing when and how to ask for help is a key part of achieving maturity. 

Mat spent a good amount of time complaining about money, and lack there of.   Which I'm NOT helping him with, since he's in financial straits because made a series of bad decisions that he'd been warned were not going to turn out well, and still insisted on. Ever since he was able to talk, my method of discipline was "natural consequences" because, turns out, that's Life's main teaching tool, as well.  I'm not going to just throw him to the wolves, and he knows that.  He knows that if it gets THAT bad, he can come to me.  Or he could come to me now with a reasoned arguement or proposal for loan or raise in allowance.  But I am not going to offer that.  And he knows that he created his mess, and that his parents, like the future "Real World," expect him to figure it out as best as he can.

Anyway, since he was talking budget shortfalls and all, Thomas says, "Oh mom! We need to help him save money by taking him out to a restaurant for dinner tonight."  That Thomas, he'll do Anything for a meal out.  I gave him the eye, because Mat and I both knew that Thomas cared nothing about Mat's money problem, except that it would be useful to help him get to go out the second night in a row.  I really didn't care, so I told Mat to ask Rhiannon and come up with a restaurant, since she has dietary restrictions (gluten free) and they're both vegetarian.  We ended up at Applebee's.  It was good, and fun.  And if you're there and don't know what to get, Applebee's makes an excellent onion soup.

But the highlight was Mark coming home.  As I was not falling asleep Saturday night, I actually considered going with him next year.  Yes, I'm actually contemplating camping.  I must love him more than I thought.  But I am NEVER repeat NEVER going into a cave without being sedated to the point of unconsciousness.  I will NEVER love Anyone that much!

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Well I started the day feeling completely unmotivated. Partially because my beloved, who apparently does not see the irony, is up near Chattanooga cleaning and clearing things from someone else's land in preparation for next week's camp-out of cavers. Not that he complains about the state of our yard and flowerbeds more than once every 3 days or anything.

And I found Blaze (the mama finch) dead in the bottom of the cage. No marks no warning, and everyone else seems fine.

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One of the weekends in this blur I call a life we drove up to Monte Sano and watched how to "bounce a pit."  It was a nice afternoon.  I didn't have to get in the cave, I just took photos.

Check it out:   Cave Man Goes Down
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Mark gave me some sort of virus last week, and I was really bad last Friday.  I thought I was getting better, but today I woke up with it back almost full force.  I have been just "wiped" all day today.  And I couldn't rest, because I had to go out to PT, and then a mammogram and ultrasound (my breasts are really lumpy with cysts, and that plus the reduction surgery make me really hard to read) then I had to meet Thomas out at a friend homeschooler's house for Archery.  At least Mark was home and could take Thomas out to C's house so I didn't have to drag him to the MMG, or worry about rushing so we wouldn't be late, or how I would fit food for him into that schedule.  I stayed out at C's for a while after talking (she's a new homeschooler, and that's part of my "mission" I guess you'd call it, being on the school board and a 10 year veteran,  to be there and answer questions and offer support). And it was a pleasant day, perfect for being outside and watching kids shoot arrows.  Slightly cloudy, but not raining, so a little cooler than usual.  Still, by the time I did all that, I was truly not lucid.  I came home and ate and passed out on the couch.  And I never take naps.  And it didn't really work.  I'm still just icky.  Probably go to bed early. 

And Thomas and I are all on our own this weekend.  Mark is in TN, just outside Chattanooga for the annual Fall TAG Cave-in.  It's a big camp out and cave thing organized by an Atlanta Grotto (TAG is TN, AL, GA).  He'll have a great time.  I'd rather have a root canal.  And it's not a weekend Mat is supposed to come home. 


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July 2011

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