Tag Archives: travel

The Luckiest Unluckiest Day Ever

It wasn’t until later that I realized he was born on Friday the 13th.

Unluckiest of unlucky days in Western culture, Friday the 13th is a triskaidekaphobics worst nightmare. It rarely comes about, but when it does, it’s usually wielding a machete and wearing a hockey goalie mask.

But not this month. On June 13, Casa de Dude celebrates! We kick up our heels and dance and sing (although not as much these days for reasons that should become apparent in only a few moments) and just generally enjoy life because June 13, this year falling on a Friday, is the day our family became complete.

Friday the 13th of June is Hyper Lad’s birthday. This is the year he’s turning 15, which means he’s already got his grubby little paws held out and ready to take the car keys and go for a little spin. The fact that he has no learner’s permit because his driver education teacher still hasn’t gotten around to him yet. . . Well, that means little.

He’s fifteen. He’s ready to drive. At least in his mind.

I say our family became complete because Hyper Lad is the youngest of our three young dudes. He’s six years younger than our oldest and five years younger than our middle son. In fact, we weren’t supposed to have Hyper Lad at all.

My wife, known to me as She Who Must Be Getting Her Way, and I thought we were finished procreating (although not practicing) after Zippy the Travelin’ Boy. Eventually, though, she began to yearn for another female in the house. Once she said that, it became apparent that I really needed a daughter as well since I look darn good on the dance floor wearing a tux at a wedding.

Instead, we got lucky and didn’t get our wish. Instead of a girl, we got a Hyper Lad and we couldn’t be happier.

Our oldest son, Sarcasmo, had to suffer through first-child paranoia as his mom and I freaked out about anything and everything related to our darling. Our middle son, Zippy the Travelin’ Boy, stayed sheltered in the harbor of our good graces and had vigilant parents every on guard. Relaxed, but on guard.

By the time Hyper Lad came along, we were pretty much okay with him doing just about anything short of juggling the razor-sharp blades we kept in the open, unlocked drawers in the kitchen. And even that, provided he had a good reason for it.

Having older brothers, Hyper Lad has benefited from being around (slightly) more mature age cohorts for most of his life. He’s probably more emotionally mature at 15 than his brothers were when they were his age.

Since he was smaller than everyone around whom he wanted to hang, he had to develop a quick left and an even quicker wit to survive. And he has.

His teachers see the same things that we do: one of the sharpest minds, with one of the most wicked senses of humor to have come around in a long while. He’ll frequently make an offhand joke about current affairs we happen to be discussing that’s amazingly quick, amazingly on-target and blisteringly funny.

His mom and I will just turn and look at each other — once the laughter finally dies down — and trade astonished gazes.

While Hyper Lad lives up to his name (and his blog name here), he’s not constantly rushing around and ignoring everyone else. The young dude is consistently polite (to non-dad people) in almost every situation and looks for ways to help everyone he can.

Not to say he’s perfect, of course. I mean, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve come thiiiiiiisssssss close to popping an aneurysm in my brain from the crap he will drop — literally drop — wherever it is he happens to be done with it. If that means he’s finished with a band-aid wrapper six inches from a trashcan. . . Then he drops the wrapper to the floor six inches from the trashcan.

And, being a teenager, he’s now discovered the joys of sleeping in until the sun warms up. . . say, sometime around 3 pm.

So, yeah, he’s got a lot of things to work on. But, here’s the deal about that: We’re just so glad we get a chance to watch as he does. It’s going to be an interesting experience.

Here’s to you, Hyper Lad! Have a happy birthday and know we love you. And we dearly want to live through you learning to drive, so please work on that.


We also take a moment to remember Hyper Lad’s Great Grandmother, my Grandmother, Irene Jones. A wonderful woman, my grandmother died three years ago. She and Hyper Lad were both born on June 13 and called each other Birthday Buddies. So here’s to you as well, Mama. You’re missed and loved.

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The Weirdest Places On Earth

Other than your basement, I mean.

What? Come on, it was a joke, dude. Just a joke.

Okay, fine. I take it back.

What I’m not taking back, though, is that the Sierra Club has gone and collected up some of the most astonishing, strangest, oddest, weirdest places on Earth. And then went and took pictures of them.

Most of these places I’ve never even heard of. Now I’m afraid my life won’t be complete without going to see some of these and wandering around for a while.

Seriously, how could you not see a picture of this and not want to go there?slide1

Answer: You couldn’t not. Er. Um, what I mean to say is that of course you want to go.

That’s Fly Geyser, which sits about 10 miles away from the site of the annual Burning Man festival. Burning Man is a countercultural arts festival held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. The Fly Geyser was accidentally formed in 1916 when folks were drilling for water. They found it. Scalding hot water about 200 degrees F. They plugged the hole and tried to forget about it. Until someone tried to drill again and again found scalding water.This time, the water wouldn’t be blocked. It started coming to the surface, bringing along with it lots of minerals, which started accreting.

This one, though, is less manmade and more just man-nificent. Sorry about that pun. Couldn’t help myself. Anyway, slide2this is Blood Falls, which is in Antarctica. As you might have guessed, the deal here is that there’s a trickle of highly iron-rich water headed down Taylor Glacier into West Bonney Lake. On exposure to the oxygen in our atmosphere, the iron gets oxidized (rusted) and turns red.

See what I mean?

This stuff is just plain awesome. I would love to head out to Blood Falls, if only to soak in the ambiance to make the story even better. Blood of giants, long dead, staining the very ground upon which they once trod. Yeah, that’s the good stuff.

And all I have to do to get there is head to Antarctica. No worries there, dudes. No worries.

Before I head out, I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t give you dudes a picture of this. It’s Mono Lake in California, but I like to think of it as the Drip Castle of the Gods.

It also has an interesting history, weird in and of itself.

At first glance, California’s Mono Lake seems eerily barren. Twisting limestone pinnacles, called tufa towers, line slide3its shores, some reaching heights of over 30 feet. Tufa towers grow only underwater, but Los Angeles’ diversion of Mono Lake’s tributary streams beginning in 1941 exposed the gnarled formations. Mono Lake, which is at least 760,000 years old, has no outlet to the ocean, causing salt to accumulate and create harsh alkaline conditions. Yet, oddly enough, Mono Lake hosts a flourishing ecosystem based on tiny brine shrimp, which feed the more than 2 million migratory birds that nest there each year.

In 2010, NASA astrobiologist Felisa Wolfe-Simon reported discovering bacteria in Mono Lake’s arsenic sediments that could incorporate the toxic element into their DNA instead of phosphorous, normally a key building block of the double helix. For the most part, the new species’ weirdness survived the scrutiny of two 2012 studies that debunked Wolfe-Simon’s findings. Their conclusion? Mono Lake’s “alien” bacteria do need phosphorous, but at surprisingly low amounts.

You dudes should pop on over to the Sierra Club’s site and check out the rest of the photos. Then get on the horn to your travel agent and start booking.

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Happy Mother’s Day

by Richard

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.

For a couple of reasons. 1) Everybody else does and I love very few things more than going against the herd. 2) I prefer continuous small changes as opposed to one large change. I think it’s easier to achieve your goals that way.

However, today, Mother’s Day 2012, I make one resolution.

I resolve to stop crying and getting all weepy and waily when I think of my mom, Catherine Stedman Jones, who passed away a little over a year ago from a bizarre fight with meningitis and multiple sclerosis.

Don’t get me wrong. I still miss the dickens out of her. I still find myself halfway through punching in her phone number, all ready and excited to tell her about some silly thing or other that would have tickled her funny bone. To me, she was the indestructible woman, who kept getting dinged, but kept going.

She had a trick, you see. When something got her down, whether it be her breast cancer, the multiple sclerosis that held her back from doing some things she wanted (but which I think she secretly put up with because it gave her something to fight), or any of the other things that tried so hard to drag her down. . . When she started getting weepy and waily, she’d say something along the lines of, “I’m going to give myself another day to feel all weepy, but then I’m done.”

And, you now what? She pretty much was.

She didn’t believe in self pity. She didn’t believe in being selfish that way. Sure, something might be sad, but that was no reason for her to keep focusing on herself when there was so much else she could be doing.

So I’m going to honor her by imitating her.

I figure fifteen months is enough with the grieving. It’s time to start thinking about the good things, about the smiles and the laughs and the way she’d snicker when she told a dirty joke. (And, dude, she told some bad ones. I still can’t decide whether to be embarrassed or just deny I ever knew her when those get brought up.)

It’s time to get out into the world and do something good for someone else.

It’s time to start looking for the good in people, even those people I can’t stand.

It’s time to smile more.

It’s time to tell my young dudes I love them and will support them no matter what.

It’s time to get on with living my life.

And that’s the best gift any mother could give to her child. She taught me how to go on.

Now it’s time to celebrate the living mothers out there. To Tia, who’s raising a wonderful niece and nephew, while still housebreaking a stubborn brother-in-law. To Grandma, who’s still got time for travel and the dispensation of advice while planning her wedding. To Susan, who’s never too busy running a huge blended family to take a bit of time to enjoy the sunset.

But, mostly, to She Who Must Be Obeyed, for living and learning and loving, loudly.

Happy Mother’s Day to you all! And to all a good night!

Oops. Sorry. Wrong holiday!

Although, you know. . . Mothers. . . Nights. . . Reflecting on how they became mothers. . . Maybe wishing them a good night isn’t such a bad idea, after all.

Enjoy the day, ladies. And the night.

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