Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Wrapping' It Up...Puttin' a Bow On It

I am going to shamelessly pick up where I left off last Thursday. I say shamelessly because this whole little Ally and Neal Go West series was supposed to wrap up on Friday. But then someone popped the cork on the champagne and the weekend kicked off and suddenly I found myself at Target buying the crystal lamps I've always wanted (which, in turn, lead to a full-blown spring cleaning and lamp shade buying mission. It can never just be "I'm going to buy a lamp" around here. It always leads to a double-digit to-do list). But Tuesday is the new Friday AND it's Neal's birthday! He joins the many of you who are celebrating birthdays this month and the several of you who were born in 1960-something. So, Happy Birthday Boo-Bear (no, we don't actually call each other that, but I figure it's a nice time to start. And it's much better than Precious Prick, yes?).

Friday morning, over breakfast, we (and by "we" I mean "I" because I get my most inspired and ludicrous (and I can no longer spell ludicrous without spell-check. Thanks a kilo, Ludacris) ideas over an all-meat omelette) decided to hike to the summit of Camelback Mountain. If we finished breakfast by 8 and were on the trail by 8:30, we would easily be done by 10 and showered and checked out by 1:00. Our flight back to Kentuckarctica was not until 3:00. And? It's only 1.2 miles to the summit. Easy cheasy. We do that all the time in the Gorge. Neal was raised near the Gorge. He practically rappelled out of his mama's womb. We might even get back in time to have a second omelette.

Except that it's 1.2 miles up. Yes, yes, it's a summit...what did I expect? A ski lift to meet me at the end of the plateau? No, not really. But I did not expect to be bouldering...up...for a half a mile. So, let me set the scene...we're both wearing our tennis shoes, I'm in a white, cotton, eyelet shirt and he's carrying his Starbucks mug of hotel coffee. We had tourist written across our foreheads and our asses. I hate it when I do that.

The views of Phoenix and Scottsdale were astronomical. And the mountain was crowded with athletes of all kinds who obvi rise with the roosters and run the mountain everyday. We passed one group of guys coming down and then going back up. That's a special kind of crazy that usually results in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (look, Mama Virgo! I am using that degree!). I'll climb this beast once and call it a day, thankyouverymuch. The pictures don't really do it justice, but I'm happy to give it the ole college try:

See that little building in the bottom of the picture? We didn't even get that far on Day 1...just to give you some perspective (because I'm an artist, yo, and I believe in perspective).

The fence, I get...although I'm not sure it's so much to keep people from falling off the cliff as it is to keep people from climbing the hill in their backyard and hiking around at night (also...crazy. There are wolves and desert creatures). But the railing? Really? Oh. Yes, really. Going up is not so bad since you just kind of lean in and put your glutes into it. But coming down, you either lower yourself down using whatever upper body strength you've gained from carrying the milk and 4 bags of canned goods up 3 flights of stairs or you tuck and roll. All. The. Way. Down. What? It doesn't look far? In 3D, it's far. Allow me to demonstrate:

Yep, that's how you do it. With a sweater thrown over your shoulder and a thermos of water stuck down the back of your pants...not in a pocket, but actually stuck between flesh and your VS. In the end, it was all worth it. Like this kind of worth it:

What? Cotton and wool are the undiscovered wicking material of Olympic athletes' uniforms. Note to self: always pack more than one bra. Always.
Not sure if Camelback Mountain is for you? Perhaps this will inspire:

This is Gino. His owner is a Gabrielle Reese-look-alike who apparently hikes Camelback every morning before she heads off to her job as a Nike model/Denise Austin body double. She informed us that Gino has done Camelback Mountain well over 100 times, usually on his own. But he was recovering from some sort of doggy malaria, so she carried him part of the way on Friday. What I hear when I look at Gino is the Taco Bell dog harassing me with, "You had to stop? To what? Look at the view? This is the view. Stopping is for pussies. But then, you are wearing cotton." Yeah, that's what I hear. Gabrielle calls him her little mountain motivator...I call him more of a man than half of my high school boyfriends. Print this out, tack it to your corkboard. If Gino can do it...

And if you need a visual, this is pretty indicative of the trail, plus a couple of railings (yes, there was more than one. I would say the second one is what separates the girls in Old Navy flip flops from the women in Merrell boots).

There's not so much a trail as there is a path of least resistance. As in life, everyone chooses their own path. I chose the flattest path possible. I'm sure that speaks volumes about my appetite for ambition in this life.

We did not make it back in time for a second omelette. We made it back just in time to shower, eat leftover non-$250 brisket and get to the airport. I couldn't really walk very well for 2 days, but it was well worth the burn and ache. We climbed a mountain. *Cue Diana Ross*

In other news...
Today is Neal's birthday!!! He's at work today because for some reason, birthdays, for him, are synonymous with any day ending in "y"...unlike his wife who celebrates birthday month. This picture was from about 3 years ago, when I decorated his office while he was whisked away to lunch. I have failed miserably in doing anything extreme this year. His wish list was so chock-full of functional items that it just sapped the creative spirit right out of me. But he gets a dinner tonight. And he can drink his white wine from the red wine fish bowls we have, if he so desires. But tomorrow is another day so all festivities will be wrapped up by 9:30. It's a bitch to be born in 1960-something...


  1. Holy man, look at those views!

    And a huge happy birthday to Neal! Even though he's working, hehe. I'm with you, I totally have a birth month too.

  2. Happy Birthday Neal!!!

    Oh and I'm appalled that you only packed one bra. I mean who wears the same bra for an entire WEEK! Gross!! I know I NEVER would *insert sarcasm here*

    We should do lunch again soon :)

  3. This reminds me of the time when my Mom and Dad made my sister and I hike up to the top of the New River Gorge Bridge in WV and by hike I mean climb one million stairs. And Mom kept saying, "it's worth it. It'll be worth it." So we have a picture of us at the top titled "The Worth It" because that's what we called the view. :)

    That dog has more energy than me.

    Wait -- It's *not* birthday month? Happy Birthday Neal! You don't know me but I know you! Creepy! Have a lovely day!

  4. Man, that description of Camelback TOTALLY SCARES THE CRAP OUTTA ME. I'm a weenie and seriously don't know if I could do it. Which totally makes me feel like a puss since 5 lb. Gino did it and all. So thanks for that, GINO, you butthole. Just kidding. You are quite adorable and remind me of my own babies who are definitely not buttholes.


    Happy Birthday to (shaquil o') NEAL!! Man, born in the 60s?? That's older than me... which means OLD. Cheers! And thanks for giving me a reason to drink tonight. ;)

  5. Happy Birthday Neal!!!

    You go girl....and get more bras for yourself!! Think of 'em as boobie lampshades if that's what it takes!!

    I slay myself..........

  6. That path was a wicked incline but the scenery...holy cow!!!!

    Happy Birthday to your hubs!!!!

  7. happppy birthday to neal!!

    and for real, if gino can do it... geez, go little dog go.

  8. Happy Birthday to your hubs!!

    I absolutely dispise the climb down on hikes, but usually is worth the view. A hike that requires a railing though? I'm not sure how I feel about that.


    How exciting! And those pictures are just beautiful. I miss that part of the world so much. I'm strangely jealous of that chihuahua who gets to enjoy it all the time. :)

  10. Rappelled out of his mother's womb? I'm still laughing. . .

  11. Oy - that looks far more like "work" than a "vacation". Kudos to you-dos for doing it though!

  12. You all are so cute. That birthday picture has me smiling!

    And those other pictures! A-mazing!


    p.s. YES, I get sick of picking up their, ahem, messes.

  13. OH MY GOD, that is some serious climbing. I need to go and get myself a coffee and cigarette now after all that eye straining from your strenuous, LUDICROUS activities.

    Happy birthday to your man, I am sure he is only working in case you make him climb again ;)

  14. This is why I feel a little shy of talking about my mountains with anyone west of the Mississippi. What I call "hiking to the edge of extinction," they call a walk in the park. Exhibit A: Gino. I will now cringe and think of Gino whenever I am ready to wuss out.

    Oh, and Happy Birthday, Neal! :)

  15. Happy Birthday Neal!!!

    And wow is Gino making me feel lazy right now. I feel like I should be hiking up something. I walked to the bank yesterday at lunch and I got so tired after that I wanted to take a nap. That was 6 very flat blocks.

  16. Happy Birthday to Neal!!!

    I have to know... that sign? In the back? It says "Soft Shoulders Stiff..." WHAT? I can't see the next word and I simply HAVE to know. Because it sound dirty and I need a laugh.

    Also... GO YOU for climbing a mountain in a week old bra with a sweater on. Jay-sus Ally! You make me feel like a lazy lump! And those views... I would totally be blowing that up and framing it in a motivation style poster for my (imaginary) at-home gym. Gorgeous.

  17. That hike looks amazing. I always get to the middle of those sorts of things, wonder why I'm such a masochist, and swear I'll never do it again.

    And then I get to the end and decide that, clearly, I am awesome and can do anything in my godlike awesomeness.

    And then the cycle begins again.

  18. A day late Happy Birthday greeting to your husband Neal! Hearing that you hiked that mountain is inspiring. Seems like a regular person would need to train first to tackle that. And the Taco Bell dog impresses me even more!

  19. We just got back from Phoenix last night. Hiked Camelback on Monday (Cholla Trail). I thought I was going to DIE. Seriously, my legs were shaking, I was sweating like crazy and my heart was pounding out of my chest. Had we not been with my brother-in-law and his wife (who are super fit), I would have turned around about half way up. BUT I made it to the top and enjoyed the gorgeous view before I scooted on my butt back down the mountain. Thankfully I did pack an extra bra :)

  20. Beautiful pictures! What an amazing experience this must have been!

    ...There's an award for you over at "my place"...=)http://mandypmommyof4.blogspot.com/2010/03/omganother-one.html

  21. I'm exhausted just from reading about that hike.

    Don't they have steps tucked away somewhere?

    Happy Birthday Neal!

  22. holy moly that's a lot of climbing. i never would've made it. and you even took pics while climbing (beautiful ones at that). i would have been crawling on hands and knees...

    Happy Birthday to Neal!

  23. HAPPY BELATED BDAY NEAL - just have him read this next year ;)

    WOW - what. a. climb! Seriously I'd die. That dog is too cute and I laughed my ass off at the whole Taco Bell bit!!! :)

  24. again, i don't know how i missed this post. I may or may not be slow.

    Dude that hike looks AMAZING. No fear. I take the path least steep too. But I'm not all time ambitious.

    I read the taco bell part outloud for effect. and It made me laugh harder.

    Neal- happy happy belated birthday. hope you got as much nookie and everything else functional that you asked for.


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