Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Before You Die

My aunt gave my family this book for Christmas. I started flipping through hoping I would find I could have written the book instead. Unfortunately, it is organized into regional sections and starts in the East then ends in the Northwest very last. For the first 100 pages, I couldn't find one place I'd been. I think it was organized like this for humility's sake. Turns out if I had written it, it would have still been 1,182 pages long but been titled, "13 Places to See Before You Die, and 987 places that will deserve an honorable mention if you have a good imagination and like to people watch."

As proof those 13 places would have still been in the book...

1. Boston's Freedom Trail, MA. Unfortunately there is no tangible proof I've been here because it was just my dad and me. He doesn't take pictures, and he hates to be in pictures unless he is holding antlers or hides. However, on the plane ride back home, he and I got to laughing pretty hard looking at the Sky Mall magazine. Our favorites and the ones that pulled an audible snort out of me and made him cry were these two impressive products. Maybe they were only funny because neither one of us like house animals, so why would we give them stairs to assist them with getting on the bed. Plus, if they are too weak to jump up, then maybe they need to spend some time outside to "toughen up." Also, our yard is 4 acres. It takes 4+ hours to mow it. Using shoes and yourself to aerate it was... amusing.
2. Princeton, NJ. My whole family went here to watch my brother play Sprint Football (aka little guy football). We walked around the campus on a Saturday in the Fall. Every time my family eats pizza together someone brings up the chicken alfredo pizza we had there. Nothing tangible can every compete with that pizza memory, therefore mention of THAT pizza is banned until everyone has finished eating.3. West Point (The United States Military Academy), NY. Since Abe goes to school here, I've been able to visit a couple of times. The first trip was traumatic. It was Abe's reception day. We stood in line all morning (as my dad says, "God made lines, the army perfected them."), then we all went into a huge auditorium. The officers and cadets there gave everyone a small speech, then told us all, "you have 90 seconds to say your goodbyes." After the 90 seconds all the cadets filed out of the auditorium and as soon as they hit the door, we all heard the yelling. In-processing had begun. All of the trips since have been amazing. Ande and I think it is a modern miracle so many squirrels survive where so many guns are kept. Proof our military is very disciplined.4. The Smithsonians, D.C. This actually takes care of 4 of the 1,000. But, since I only have 13... they are getting lumped together. I just barely saw this for the first time in November. However, ever since I found out that Dorothy's ruby slippers and the stuffed man-eating lions from Africa were kept there, I've known I would eventually make it. It was a perk to find that Mr. Roger's sweater, the Apollo Lunar Module, and VanGogh's self portrait were also there. I didn't spend as much time in the Native American Smithsonian because I live in the West, where a museum is not a museum without Indian bead work and an arrowhead. I thought it was funny they were having troubles with scissors being smuggled into museums.

5. Sandpoint, ID. We are all the way to Idaho, because I've never set foot in Dixie, unfortunately. I found out that Sandpoint's claim to fame, besides being beautiful, is being home to Lighthouse salad dressing and Coldwater Creek clothing. I only spent a day there, and I didn't get to go swimming in the lake, so I'm thinking it shouldn't count. On the other hand, we went over there to attend our neighbor's son's wedding. It was a hippy wedding with peace pipes, incense, a circle of love, and a strange period when most of the friends of the bride and groom disappeared and came back smelling like... pot. So, I'm rethinking that maybe I experienced Sandpoint to a finer degree than the author of the book. Being at the wedding made me strangely nostalgic for Hawaii and all the hippies there.

6. Little Bighorn Battlefield, MT. This was a really haunting place. I thought it was done really well, because I came away feeling sad for both the Calvary men and the Indians and not one more than the other. Luckily, my mom, my sister, and I could answer all my dad's trivia about people, places, and events, because we too had all the Johnny Horton songs memorized.7. Glacier National Park, MT. I was thinking I could mark this one off, but now that I try and remember the trip (I was 8) all I remember was riding in the back of the Baker's orange van, that didn't have seats (just lawn chairs) playing cards and eating Costco poppy seed and chocolate/chocolate chip muffins. That is a GREAT memory, but unfortunately I can't be sure we even did make it to Glacier. We did go on a road with lots of turns, though, because our lawn chairs kept tipping over.

8. Yellowstone & the Bill Cody Museum, WY. This trip taught me two BIG life lessons. While in Yellowstone my family met Martin and Isolwe from Germany. They had locked their keys out of their rental car, and were totally confused on how Americans solved this problem. We stayed and helped them. Unfortunately my dad's hanger trick didn't work on their new car, as it always did on our old Suburban. So, my Dad took Martin back to the nearest town while we all sat in the dark with Isolwe and ate our Doritos. Life Lesson: help people. The second Life Lesson: Do not take your dad to a museum that specializes in their gun collection... unless you KNOW you will spend all day looking at guns.

9. Pike's Peak, CO. I still haven't done this, but the plan is fully developed. The year Ty graduates from school there in Colorado Springs, we will climb Pike's Peak. We planned to do it this last May, but it snowed the day before I flew in, so instead we just rock climbed all over. I found out that when we climb Pike's Peak, I will have to be the person in charge, because Ty is desensitized to the importance of me staying alive. When we were rock climbing, I had to remind him that when he belays ME... he WILL NOT eat his lunch or cookies at the same time. I want BOTH of his hands on the rope. I only made this point mean something by swearing (while hugging the cliff face for dear life) that as soon as I got back down on the ground, he better run because I MEAN IT!

10. Hoover Dam, NV. I remember when we went down into the dam on the tour and being perplexed on how putting water through a turban created electricity. I thought the guide was, for sure, tricking me. I still don't understand how it really works, so maybe I need to go back. I do remember my Grandpa swearing to me that there were thousands of people and horses buried in the cement from when they poured it. Now that I think about it, he was probably the one tricking.

11. Temple Square, UT. Phewwww, I know I've done that one to the FULL extent. The book calls it the "Mormon Mecca." One pillar down four more to go.

12. Disneyland, CA. My mom really does think this is the happiest place on Earth. I mean she REALLY believes it. Nothing beats the trip where I got to see their Tarzan. Luckily my Aunt Rachel had warned me, "no body suit, his muscles are real and remember he only wears a loin cloth." That was also the trip that Splash Mountain was closed for remodeling. However, they opened it early our last night there and didn't inform anyone. So, instead of going to the parade, we just rode it over and over and over with no lines. For protocol's sake, they made us get out of our log at the end, jump the rope barrier, then get back in our same log. Since "Song of the South" was never released onto video/DVD, that ride made it possible for me to answer a whole section of questions on Jeopardy (to myself).

13. Pike's Place Market, WA. I've been there a couple of times, but this last time we went, it was in the Spring... when the tulips were still blooming. Nothing beats the market when it is full of tulips. NOTHING! I also got to see the penny loafer man. He sang me "The Milk Cow Blues," and he really was singing it to me... and my sister Ande... and my niece Nikki, but that was it. He was doing it all to entertain us.


Neighbor Jane Payne said...

Now this is a CLASSIC line "Ande and I think it is a modern miracle so many squirrels survive where so many guns are kept. Proof our military is very disciplined"!

I love your view of the world, you make me laugh.

melanie said...

So exciting to have you blogging. I lost count at how many times I laughed during this post. My favorite was Ty and both hands on the rope. I for sure would have lost my voice from yelling at him (most of it not so nice!).

The orange van and lawn chairs are making me car sick just reading about it. Glad you survived!

Little Rachel said...

I just have to let you know. One of my many experienced social work teachers told us that while Disney Land is the happiest place on earth, it is also the scarriest. He said many of his visits with clients in Orange County(prostitutes and substance abusers) occurred in all those cheap hotels surrounding Disney Land. We've all spent time with our families in those hotels. Think about that next time you go visit. :)

P.S. I love your blog but it is seriously hindering my studying.