Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Thursday, July 31, 2008

All Blogged Out

I think I've *almost* covered my whole trip. Only took me 3 weeks, huh? LOL If you're new here, really my blog is mostly about issues related to raising a child who has Down Syndrome, but I'm also a biker, and a wife, and mom to a couple other kids so that stuff gets included too!

On the right side of my page are links to various topics. If you're looking for DS related stuff, click on "Angela", or "Down Syndrome", or "Independence" (LOL).

If you're looking for stuff about my biker life, click on things like "red" or "biker chick" or "independence". LOL


I've been tagged by Christina over at Kwisteena's KWasiness. (Sorry this has taken me so long Christina!) I am supposed to define my life in six words. Hmmm....

In no particular order:

1. Interesting
2. Blessed
3. Humorous
4. Busy
5. Sometimes Chaotic
6. Diverse
Now I'm supposed to tag five more people...(the rules are to describe your life in 6 words and tag 5 more people, leaving them a comment on their blogs so they'll know they've been tagged).

I now tag

Tom over at Narrow Ridge
Kathy at Adventures in Homemakerland
Amy over at Larkin's Place
Michelle at Rhett's Journey
Alyssa at What's Happening at the Hoovers

Contradictions, Lies and Whining

There are very few people in the world who I don't have sympathy for. They are the ones who constantly lie. It's funny in the world of internet forums that some people just can't put time lines together. When they lie (or tell 1/2 truths) one day then post something in addition, or in contradiction to it just days later makes the 500+ other people reading them shake their heads in disbelief.

But, on some forums you're not allowed to call someone out on it either. It's called "not being nice". Sometimes it'll just get a post deleted, but if you're REALLY not nice it can get you booted from a forum.

Several people have asked me about a post of mine that was recently deleted in response to such a thread. I'm a little irked that it was pulled, to be honest. If a person is going to publicly lie and contradict themselves then they should be prepared to be called on the carpet for it, especially when they're now whining because life isn't going as they planned and things are tough. Yeah, finances are tough for everyone right now. I don't know one person that hasn't been affected. Most of us are just suffering no matter what we do, while others just plain do stupid stuff to make it worse for themselves. When you play grown up games, and make grown up decisions, you have to suffer the grown up consequences. Pull up your big kid underwear and deal with it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Butt Bling and Blogging

So, my very good friend Tink, who I joined in her Epic Journey, is learning to blog. She's started by telling the tale of her trip.

A very strange thing happened between Tink and I within our first 24 hours together on the journey. We realized we were twins, separated at birth who look nothing alike. I can honestly say this is the strangest thing I've ever had happen with another person. Poor Bev and Scharlett...there were many times Tink and I were bent over in hyperventilating laughter but neither of them knew why. Really, Tink and I probably didn't either. But you see, we didn't always have to talk to know what we were laughing about because we have the same thought patterns, we just KNEW! Then there was the fact we have the same hand gestures and would often accidentally smack each other as we were doing them at the same time.

So today Tink posted on her blog about meeting me for the first time. Her description is so accurate. Just the memories of what she describes...while they may not seem funny to you the reader... bring to me visions that cause me to laugh in my office chair.

Go have a read. Oh, you'll also find out how I got my new biker name. LOL

Oh, about the Butt Bling. Tink has done an amazing job on her bike, having bedazzled it with Swarovski crystals that make it twinkly in the sunlight. She's turned this into a business, and the stuff she's doing makes me drool and want to do it to my bike. (only I'm not positive I'll be keeping this bike so I'm hesitant to do that much cusomizing.) I like to call it "Butt Bling".

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Marathon

Just the thought of this day makes me feel cold.

We started the morning in our tiny hotel room in Grand Marais. It was cool, foggy and damp when we were getting ready to leave. Chaps were definitely in order! If you're not a rider, chaps are WORK do get on! Not only that, but when I started wearing chaps I also discovered that, like a lot of people, my dominant leg (right) which makes my chaps tighter on that leg, which feels funny and bothers me.

We loaded up the bikes and headed into town for breakfast at a nice little cafe, and asked the local fisherman what then knew of the day's weather report. No better people to ask than fisherman!

We were headed to Marathon, Ontario, Canada. We only had a 245 mile ride ahead of us, but we knew it just might possibly get chilly. What we didn't know is it would be the longest 245 miles we'd ever ridden! We stopped at a store in town so Bev could buy some better (read warmer) gloves and some neck thingies, mailed all the post cards that needed mailing, and donned the riding gear we thought most appropriate for the day ahead. We waved goodbye to Sven and Ole's, and hit the road.

We passed through Grand Portage and visited the Witch Tree, and arrived at the border. That's where we learned that "Pepper Spray" needs to be labeled as "Animal Repellant" and Canadian vending machines don't take American coins. Go figure!

It had warmed up a bit, so after taking a break at the visitor center (and an FYI for you bikers crossing the border, there is a helmet law in Canada.) we were able to shed a couple layers, and switch to lighter weight loves. However, over the course of the morning it became apparent that Ontario is a lot like Minnesota, in that the weather can change very quickly. Well some of it has to do with the lake effect. Remember, we're on the shores of Lake Superior.

We stopped for lunch in a tiny little town who's name escapes me, and had lunch at a little diner where the waitress/cook/cashier looked to be about 14 years old, AND you paid extra for each item you ordered. Example: I ordered a burger w/fries. The fries were extra. The mayo was extra. The lettuce and tomato were extra. Tink asked if I had to pay for the plate and the ketchup too.

Shortly after leaving that town we hit the first road construction we'd seen. They were ripping up the pavement so the road had those really nasty grooves in it. In a car, they're not a big deal. On a bike, it makes you wobble all over and feel like you're going to either be pulled into the oncoming traffic on your left, or over the cliff on your right. The way to ride this stuff is to just let the bike go which way it needs to go and not fight it. It's a constant mind game between you, the road, and the bike...10 miles of the mind game. I can ride on gravel and it doesn't bother me. I can ride in the rain, and I'm only slightly annoyed, but give me these grooves and I'm white knuckling it! Unfortunately we hit this several times during the day for a total of about 75 miles of grooves.

During the day it was drizzling off/on, but never enough to actually need our rain gear, just enough to be a nuisance. And as we climbed higher into the mountains the temperature was dropping.

There's also this funny thing about the metric system there. Speed limits are all listed metrically. Now, I have metric numbers on my speedometer, but Tink, who was always very careful to have us following the speed limits, DID NOT! When it says 70 kmh, that's like doing 45 mph...only Tink was doing more like 60 mph and we were following her. LOL

Finally, with 50 miles left to go, Tink stopped to change to warmer gloves yet again. I asked her, "Do you know how fast you were going through those towns, and do you know what the speed limits were?" She'd had no idea she was doing somtimes 25 mph over the limit! I can't believe we never got pulled over. Anyway, Tink changed gloves. I decided, "Ach! Another 50 miles, I'm fine in what I have on."

10 miles down the road the temperature started dropping dramatically, and it started drizzling. And then the fog rolled in. We kept seeing signs like, "Marathon 60 km". I could look down at my speedometer and figure out how many miles that was, giving me an idea how much torture time we'd had left.

The drizzle got heaver, and turned to 'almost rain", and at one point I swear it was snowing. "Marathon 30 km". OMG...I wished I'd put my warmer gloves on back there!

The highway happened to be a great ride, nice long turns around the mountain's rock walls, and if I wasn't getting so flipping cold I would've been able to really enjoy them!

"Marathon 25 km". Here comes the fog, and more moose crossing signs. I'm starting to have visions of us meeting one of these guys as we come around every corner.

"Marathon 10 km". Oh thank God we we're getting closer! I can't really feel my fingers anymore, and my toes are starting to hurt. I feel dry though. Yes...I do feel dry. My ass is killing me, and I'm shivering, but I am dry. We see a sign that says, "Welcome to Marathon."

"Marathon 5 km". Good grief, will they stop teasing me with those signs? Thank God I brought my full-face helmet. I'd have had to stop 20 times by now to warm up my ears. The air temperature is probably about 40 degrees, which makes it about 30 degrees in the wind on the bike. My teeth are starting to chatter. I swear there was a "Welcome to Marathon" sign back there. Where the HELL is the flipping town already????

FINALLY Tink turns on her right turn signal, and I see we're pulling into a hotel parking lot. I want to kiss the ground, but I have to stop my bike first now, don't I? Tink, in the lead, pulls into a parking spot. As I pull into the lot, I realize I can't feel my brake lever as my fingers are too numb. I downshift to slow down, and my feet hit the pavement, dragging...all the way to through the lot. As I pull into my spot, I'm sort of 1/2 laying over the tank, and I see Tink is laying BACKWARDS over her bags. I see there is a curb ahead of me, and my bike bump against it to stop.

By this point in my delirium I'm laughing hysterically. Tink is flopped own way, and I am flopped another. I look at her and said, "Who's *#@$ idea was this trip, anyway?" She can hardly speak as she says, "Don't you have BRAKES? All I hear coming behind me is cccccrrrrrrrrrrr" and I'm thinking I'm loosing parts or something. (I know this isn't funny reading, guess it was one of those "had to be there" moments."

I had parked in a way that Bev, who was behind me, can pull into the same spot, but instead she parks in the NEXT spot over. Four bikes taking up four parking places is a bit silly. We should be able to get all four bikes into 2 spots. (remember one is a trike) Bev takes one look at me and says, "Are you kidding me? Park next to you??? Who can't even STOP? I don't want you tipping over on my trike!"

Here's where we parked the four bikes (w'e already unloaded them by this time.) If you look really close, you'll notice Scharlett's bike on the far right has a flat tire, but that's another post. ;-)

We dismount, and stretch our very stiff, very cold bodies. Then we went inside and met Andy.

(To Be Continued)

Friday, July 25, 2008


Ok, a funny story that could have killed me I think.

So the other day I had Angela out for a ride in the sidecar. We came home, and, knowing I would be running errands later,(or at least another pleasure ride in the cool of the early evening) I left the bike parked in the driveway. Fast forward several hours, and I had to make a quick milk run to the story. Hop on the bike and leave.

I pull out onto the highway which is 55 mph of sorta windy road until it hits the city street where it drops down to 40. I had just slowed down to said 40 mph when it came to my attention there is a bee in my shirt. I know this, because it's stinging me.

I swatted, and thought I'd gotten rid of it, but instead it hadn't dropped it's stinger and has now crawled around to the back of my shirt and is stinging me again.

As I'm frantically pulling at my shirt, I'm also trying to pull onto a side street so I can rid myself of the *^$#*er. As I make a quick right turn, while flailing at my shirt AND managing brake with my right hand and clutch with my left, it comes to
my attention that I forgot to put my ballast back into the sidecar. I know this because the sidecar is off the ground I'm now starting to the left. This is called "Flying the tub".

Now, I've never been taught how to fly the sidecar. I'm sure there is a technique to it, and I have the feeling it has something to do with counterbalancing. Unfortunately my INSTINCT is to pop my left foot out to keep the bike up right. As I did so, it came to my attention I was going to snap my ankle off. The sidecar went back down, but since I was still turning it promptly popped back up. Lovely.

I'm sure the guy who was turning behind me had quite a laugh.

If you're wondering, "flying the sidecar" is something that happens on right turns if you A) turn too sharp while b) going to fast. It's a physics thing. I was shown at which point my sidecar would fly, and have carefully avoided doing so until one of my friendly sidecar guy friends shows me how to do it safely. (lots of these guys do it on purpose, kind of along the lines of popping a wheelie. ) However, because this was sort of an urgent situation, I wasn't thinking about my turn as much as I was getting the bee to stop stinging me, thus it flew when I wasn't prepared for it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Name that household item!

Have you ever seen the show, "Who's Line is it Anyway"? They have a segment where they bring out strange items and the comedians have to come up with ways to use them.

Well, here is our version of that show. We were in the little motel in Grand Marais (if you're in a corner room you're good to go, if you're not...well...SQUEEZE!) and it just might be possible we'd had a little bit to drink.

Tink came out of the bathroom carrying this thing. Give something like this to a bunch of drunk women, and all kinds of things happen! We ASSUME it's some kind of toilet plunger, but you know what they say about the word "ASSUME"!


Here we are, in Grand Marais, resting as we watch the traffic go by on the highway. 3o seconds after taking this picture I was snoring in my chair. Getting this picture was a major undertaking, as it involved teaching Tink how to use the timer on her camera. What you can't see is the camera is sitting on the cover of the sewer drain. (click on the picture to make it bigger.)

Then we headed for dinner at Sven and Ole's Pizza.

For some reason, whenever the four of us walked into an establishment we attracted a lot of attention. It could have been the fact that four biker chicks just walked in, in full biker gear (including helmet hair.) and these small towns had never seen anything like that before. Or, it could have been that we tended to be loud and giggly and nearly hyperventilating with laughter. We'd like to think it was our great humor, but more than likely it was because we were annoying people. At Sven and Ole's one man came to sit right next to us even though there were 20 empty tables, just so he could watch the show.

It was here that we met Sandy/Crystal. No...really, she told us, "My name is Sandy, unless I'm in Arizona, then it's Crystal." Yeah, our eyebrows went up on that one! Sandy/Crystal is in her mid 60's..maybe 70. Like people often would, Sandy/Crystal came over to our table to say hello. I sooo wish I had a video, because this was the "Fargo" movie at it's finest! Sandy could be a call in to a radio show and get paid because she speaks true Minnesotan!

Anyway, Sandy/Crystal told us about a group of 4 wheel'in women in town who have quite a reputation, and "Oh how much fun they have together. I wish I could join them donchya know." We encouraged her to step out of her comfort zone, just like we had to come on this trip, and join their group. That we were sure she'd be welcomed with open arms. Honestly, Sandy/Crystal appears to be a very active lady, so I'm sure she'd be able to keep up. We told her about our tattoos, and she promptly showed us ALL OF HERS! One of us took a picture of Sandy/Crystal, that I'm trying to track down. You'll just die when you see her. I swear, her white permed hair had a blue hint to it!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Ok, here in the Midwest we have lots of "Deer Crossing" signs. Just a yellow sign with a picture of dear taking a lovely leap, presumably over a road.

In Canada they have "MOOSE CROSSING" signs, only they have them like every 1/2 mile! Not only do they have these signs all over, but they're not just pictures of a lazy moose moving across the road. No, instead they have a picture of a RAMPAGING moose, who you just know, when you come around the next foggy bend in the road, will be standing in the middle of it just waiting for you to crash your motorcycle into it!

12 year olds in a hotel

Well, you would have THOUGHT there were 12 year olds in the hotel, but I'm going to say it's all Tink's fault. If she hadn't told us that Scharlett snores like a mouse, things would've been just fine!

We were at an impromptu stay at a very cool lodge in Wawa Ontario. We had originally stopped in town for coffee and donuts, but when we came out of the shop the weather had worsened. We began another event that Tink dubbed "triathalons" (more on that later). As we zipped up the last of our rain gear, and donned our warmest gloves, a guy in the drive-through lane asked in pure Canadian, "Where ya headed eh?"
I told him we were headed south to Sault Ste. Marie. "Really eh? You might just want to hang out here a bit eh. The weather is worse to the south. I just came through there."

We looked at each other, not knowing weather to laugh or cry. The laughter would be because of insanity, and the tears would be because of the weather report. One of us made the executive decision that we'd be getting a room and staying put. It was only 2:00 pm, but if things were slow going on the highway due to weather it would make us tired (and possibly crabby) and with poor reaction time should we meet up with any wildlife or other "think quick" situations. (sounds like a good reason to throw in the towel for the day, doesn't it?)

We looked around us, and a few hundred yards away saw a giant goose. Not a real one, a big statue one. It belongs to the Wawa Motor Inn. If you're even in Wawa, this is an AWESOME place to stay, and VERY reasonably priced! If there is a group of you, you can get a FANTASTIC two bedroom chalet for $175/night, that includes a full kitchen, fireplace, two bedrooms (each with two double beds and it's own sink) and a large bathroom. For us, split four ways this was a great deal. They also have a regular hotel with your typical hotel room, at reasonable rates. gAnd, across the road is a very cool Trading Post where you can spend your hard earned cash! No, really, there is some way cool stuff in there! Here's a video of the chalet we stayed in.

Oh, yeah...the 12 year olds.

We were grateful for the fact God had found a way, on our very last night together as a group, to put us all in the same room in such a nice place. We were supposed to be scattered between different rooms in a totally different town. Instead, here we were. As we sat around a crackling fire, we had a deep discussion about what we'd be bringing home from this trip. It was clear that none of us were going home the same person we had left.

Somewhere during our deep discussion, Scharlett fell asleep, which prompted Tink to tell us about Scharlett the snoring mouse. Soon Scharlett headed to bed, with Bev not far behind her. Tink and I continued our chat, unwilling to let our last night together end. After a few minutes I heard a noise. Tink squealed "That's Scharlett! That's her SNORING!" We giggled at each cute little snore. But, being the 12 year old adults that we are, we couldn't leave it at just that. No, we had to drag out the camera. What happened is that the video turned out different than we expected. Sure, the sound of Scharlett snoring is cute, but what is funnier is US in the background. Every time you see the camera jiggle it's because we're giggling so bad we have to cross our legs to avoid leaving a puddle on the floor. It's possible this video won't be funny to you the reader, but for get the picture.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Witch Tree

While we were in Grand Marais, we ran into a stand with with a bunch stumbled upon a post card with a silhouette of a twisted old tree on it. It's called The Witch Tree. (but also goes by the name "Little Spirit Cedar Tree". ) The Witch Tree, located in Grand Portage, MN is sacred among the Chippewa tribe. The earliest documentation of the tree dates back to the year 1731. It is a small, gnarled and twisted tree growing out of a rock, sitting alone on a small cliff above the water's edge. Tribal members would visit the tree to have their fishing and hunting expeditions on the lake blessed with safety. They would offer tobacco to the four winds.

Nobody knows for sure what type of tree this is, or exactly how old it is, as they don't want to damage it by taking bore samples. Several years ago the land around the tree was purchased for the tribe, and walking within 20 feet of the tree was prohibited.

And so we continued on our way up to Grand Portage. Scharlett felt that, given our previous day that included falling down and a couple other minor events, AND that we were in the Chippewa nation, AND the entire area just feels wouldn't be a bad idea to have the rest of our trip blessed by the tree. When we got to the old fort, Scharlett and Bev went into the visitor center to find out how to get to the Witch Tree.

While she was doing that, Tink and I went look'in around. (we're not much for standing around asking questions. We're more the "Lets go find it!" type. LOL) As we'd been riding up to the fort, you could see this WEIRD fog moving in off the lake. Well, it probably isn't weird to those that live there, but to me, it was almost eerie. I tried to get a video of it, but it just doesn't capture how it felt OR how the fog was moving. I went and stood on this v-e-r-y long dock and shot video.

At the very end of the video, what you don't see when I come back around to the shoreline is that Tink is there and scared the crap out of me. LOL

Then we went inside the old fort and saw...well...old fort stuff. It was very interesting, and the people were dressed in period clothes and "living the part".

Some of the tents, just outside the fort. I didn't get to ask who stayed in them, but I think mostly traders and stuff.

There is an Indian woman sitting inside this lean to, cooking fish on the fire.

She didn't actually HAVE a baby with her, but here's a papoose thingy that a baby would be carried in. The Chippewa have a specific name, but I don't remember what she said it was.

The guy on the right is getting ready to leave in his birch bark canoe. He's a trader, and has just brought in all of his furs to trade for staples and more pine tar which is used to waterproof the canoes. (the woman on the left is a tourist.)

I stuck my head inside a teepee, but it was so bright outside, and so dark inside that I couldn't see a thing. So, I stuck my camera in and this is the picture it snapped. There is a sleeping mat in back, a red blanket to the left of it, and some firewood to the right.

I wanted to ask more questions, but Tink was thinking we needed to get back to Scharlett.

When we were coming to the end of the trail, there was Scharlett, flagging us down. She was so excited, and in SUCH a hurry! Here's what she told us:

I went inside and asked the woman behind the counter how to get to the Witch Tree. She said, "Nobody goes to the Witch Tree. It's a sacred place, and only those who've been approved by the Tribal Council are allowed to go there. " I explained to her WHY we wanted to go there, but I understood why we couldn't. I'm sure my disappointment showed, so she said, "We do have pictures of it over there, if that helps." I told her thanks, thinking the picture just wasn't the same thing. Oh well... And then a young woman came to the desk and asked, "You wanted to see the Witch Tree?" I told her yes, and why. She said, "I'll be right back" and disappeared. She came back a few minutes later and said, "I'll take you there. We'll have to go by car so you'll need to follow me." It seems her mother's land adjoins the tree, and after hearing WHY we wanted to visit the tree, she made a phone call and got our visit approved.

And so we made a run for our bikes so we could follow Terri to the tree. The ride out there was SURREAL! It's a couple mile drive, and as we neared the area where the tree stands (only we didn't know how close we were) this fog swept over us. Almost sucking us in. The moisture from it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It was almost as if the Indian Spirits were guiding us in...welcoming us...that's the only way I know how to explain it. We drove down what felt like a deserted road, with the lake to our right and dense woods to our left, then pulled into what looked like an small gravel rest area that hadn't been used in years. We dismounted our bikes, and headed down the trail.

we stopped to read this sign:

Then continued on...

Terri had brought along tobacco (I was really tempted to ask what KIND of tobacco it was, but figured that would be kinda rude. LOL) As Tink was blowing her tobacco to the four winds, she became very emotional. As a little girl she and her dad would sail along the north shore, and would stop here so her dad could visit the tree while she played on the shoreline. As a child she never understood the significance of the tree. But now, as a grown woman, making her own journey, the image of her dad leaning on the tree (because you could do that 40 years ago) was a very moving experience for her.

Here's the picture I got of the Witch Tree, which doesn't do it justice at all.

Here is Terri, our guide. What a lovely young lady she is.

And Terri took this, which is one of only a couple pictures of all four of us together. Notice the Witch Tree is right in the middle of us! (and don't we look lovely with all our gear and helmet hair! LOL)

When we'd walked back to our bikes, and said goodbye to Terri, we all agreed this was a sidetrack well made. Next stop: Marathon, Ontario Canada!

Help bring Raina home!

Meet Raina, (scroll down a bit to find her name) a Bulgarian orphan who disparately needs a home, and FAST! Not only does she have Down Syndrome, but she also has clubbed feet. Without a family to bring her home and fix her feet, she is destined to spend her life in a crib, which could possibly be a death sentence for her.

My friend Shelley is raffling off her Blackberry Curve, with all proceeds being placed into the grant fund to help bring Raina home. Please consider entering, it's only $5 or you can enter as many times as you like!

Thursday, July 17, 2008


I don't know if it's still true, but for many decades Lake Superior was the best place in the country to search for agates. The beaches are all picked over now, but you can still find small ones here and there. My ex husband used to spend a lot of time on the shores of Lake Superior picking rocks, then would bring them home and put them in a rock polisher for like a month, turning them into beautiful stones.

So, Scharlett had never seen an agate before (at least not to her knowledge) so we got her on the shore and started teaching her. (Ok, Tink taught her while I orbited around on my own search.)

First, it's necessary to remove your shoes and socks for the full experience. Tink removed hers, but it was like a bazillion degrees out and I was wearing my motorcycle boots, and felt like if I took them off I'd never get them back on again. Besides, it would mean bending over...too much work.

Then Tink went searching...and searching....
And when she found what she was looking for, she drew a circle in the rocks and told Scharlett, it's right here...right in this area.
No, really's right there in front of you!
While they were doing that, I was busy looking "reflective". This is me, looking "reflective".

From there we went to see the Glensheen mansion. I'll post about that later, right now it's lightning outside so I have to shut down!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Split Rock Sisters (or "Falling Down")

We left Duluth on Monday, July 8th, and headed north. Tink and I, who are familiar with the area, thought it was important for Scharlett (who is not) to see the Split Rock Lighthouse. If you're not familiar with the area, this is only about a 20 minute ride outside of Duluth, and is on the road that runs along the north shore of Lake Superior.

We arrive in the parking lot, but nobody seemed to know exactly where to park although there were lots of empty spaces. This is called "female confusion" when faced with a new situation AND your decision is based on the decision of the person in front of you who may or may not have trouble making a decision. I'm not sure exactly what was going on since I was in back, but I finally pulled myself into a spot and got off my bike, with Triker Bev pulling in along side me. Tink and Scharlett pulled around to the other side of the lot, which was nearly empty.

We all walked up to the door of the gift shop/office place and discovered we really didn't want to pay $8.00 to see a lighthouse, so we headed back to our bikes. I got mine started, and pulled around to where Tink and Scharlett were parked. I watched them get their gear situated before they mounted, and waited for Bev to come around. I don't know what I was looking at, but all of a sudden Scharlett yelled, "It's going over!" and....clunk....went her bike. Apparently, because of the slope, she really had to hoist it to get it upright, but...because of the slope, it went too far and over the other side. I ran over, and the three of us grunted the 900lb bike back on two wheels, and insisted the Scharlett take a moment to regain her wits.

That's when I announced, "Hey! We need a falling down pin!"

This was met with blank stares.

"Every group that goes on a big ride, or rides together regularly needs to have a falling down pin. When someone's bike falls down, they have to wear the pin AND BE NICE TO IT until the next person falls down, at which time it is then pinned on the new fallee."

*Note* "Falling down" is not the same as "going down". "Falling down happens when the bike tips over for silly reasons. For example, you get gas and you forget to put your kickstand down and try to walk away from your bike. "Going down" is a bad thing and something no rider wants to talk about because it happens when you get hit by something or you hit something while moving down the road, and usually requires an ambulance trip and sometimes helicopters.

Tink, Bev and I all agreed this was a fantastic idea. Scharlett kind of groaned but went along with it. We marched ourselves back to the gift shop and searched every shelf for just the right pin. Finally we found it, a pin with the Split Rock Lighthouse on it. Tink paid for the pin and we had a ceremony right there in the middle of the store. As a crowd gathered to watch our ceremony, much to the disgrace of Scharlett, we used our formal words to describe the purpose of the pin for the spectators. What you have to imagine though, is Tink and I laughing hysterically as we did it! LOL

With Scharlett pinned, we went back to the lot, mounted our bikes, and headed north. We were only about 30 miles down the road when I had reason to move out of my position of bringing up the rear, and pass Scharlett. Not knowing how much group riding experience Scharlett had, I thought about this for several miles before doing so. I didn't want her to panic when I went past her. Finally, with no oncoming traffic, I moved over to the other lane and went past. What I didn't count on was TINK (who was leading) seeing me in her mirror, freaking out that there was something wrong and SUDDENLY pulling over...on the road with really no shoulder. Everyone pulled up behind her (because they had time to do so) but I came to a stop just ahead of her. In my mirror I saw her get off her bike, and when I looked back...she and her bike were gone.

Because they were on the ground.

Ok, here's how it went. Tink stopped..on the road with not much of a shoulder...and when she put her feet down, there was no pavement under her right foot. Instead there was a 2 inch drop to gravel. Being the short-legged person that she is, this put her way off balance. Her bike SPIT her off, and....are you ready for it? She rolled head over heels down the embankment! She stood up and hollered, "Give me that *&#@ pin!!!!" You have to remember that she'd just rolled in all her gear and helmet down about a 5 foot drop, which makes one very top heavy, AND makes you look quite silly climbing back up!

We picked up our second bike for the day, and pinned Tink right there on the side of the road. Poor Tink! But, if you were following my twitter, you know that I could hardly text fast enough to tell about this! LOL

Later that same day we were in Grand Marais. We had done some shopping downtown and were headed back to our hotel when we came to an intersection that was uphill AND we had to make a right turn at the light. My bike has been having trouble going into first gear lately, but I didn't know I was still in second. I was at the head of the group when I went to make the turn, and killed the bike mid-turn. This is every bikers nightmare as this heavy piece of machinery suddenly STOPS mid-lean! This is where on would fall down, only I didn't. I could, however, FEEL Tink behind me WILLING me to fall down so she could get rid of that damn pin! When I turned to look, she could hardly stay upright because she was laughing too hard about the fact that yes, indeed, she'd been doing just that!

We went on to call ourselves the Split Rock Sisters, and there was much joking about "Pulling a Split Rock" and stuff like that. I spent the entire trip being so hyper-aware of everything I did getting on/off my bike! The best part though, is I never did get that pin!

How to commemorate and epic event

*Disclaimer* Reading this particular post with small children on your lap, or impressionable 12 year olds hanging over your shoulder would not be a good idea.

When you do something in your life that is of Epic proportions, you need to find a way to commemorate it.

Saturday July 7th I arrived in downtown Duluth, MN to meet these crazy women I was going to be spending the next week with. Only I didn't know they were crazy, but I had a hunch.

I hadn't slept well the night before, nor had I eaten anything that day because I was just too excited and nervous. I pulled into the hotel parking lot and Tink came out to greet me with a huge hug. I got to drool over her BEAUTIFUL bike (she'd glued swarovski crstyals all over it and it's stunning!) We sat down on the varanda as a group to figure out what to do next. First stop, FOOD! They'd gotten in earlier in the afternoon but had waited for me. What I didn't know is the plans they'd been trying to make!

We sit down in a sandwich shop, exchanging some small stories, trying to get the feel of who each other really is, when Tink says to me, "So...uummm...last night we were trying to figure out how we could commemorate our trip. We wanted it to be something big, but..umm...well Bev mentioned how about we all get a tatoo? I told them I doubted you'd go for it, but since I really don't know you, I have no idea."

"A tattoo? I've been wanting one for a long time! Where do I sign up."

"Well...ummm...actually....we have an appointment at 8:00 tonight (it was now about 5:00) with a guy named Jeffie. Really, you don't have to do it if you don't want to. We think we're going to all get the same thing, but we want to go look at the guy's work."

And so it was decided. Keep in mind that I'm a tatoo virgin. There isn't a drop of ink on my body, but the other girls each have one or two...or 5.

Meet Jeffie. He is an artist at Dominic's Dowtown in Duluth. Doesn't he look just like a tattoo artist? The funny thing is, his name is really JESSIE but Scharlett misunderstood on the phone. And so, as would soon become a habit for us, we renamed him.

Jeffie was very patient with us. We told him the purpose of this trip...a freeing experience, and one to bond with our fellow biker sisters. An expression of independence and a celebration of life. We wanted it simple (aka not expensive!) and we all wanted the same thing. Jeffie disappeared into his studio to draw something up. About 15 minutes later he came back with a couple different designs which we tweaked a bit, each of us adding a small item to make it our own, yet the same as the others.

First there was much discussion about WHERE we would put our new artwork
And naturally we had to sign our life away!

Then more discussion about who was going to be first. Tink volunteered, and I was allowed to go watch and take pictures, which was a lot like watching Miami Ink on T.V. except different. My pictures didn't turn out the greatest, because my camera didn't like the lighting. Also Tink was trying very hard to put on a good face for me since I was still a virgin, and it's just possible my nerves were showing a little bit.

While she was getting done, this man was in the next chair. His name is Mike, and he's having a guardian angel put on his back. I don't know his whole story, but this angel holds great meaning for him, and he has survived tragedy. His spirit was very sad, and I hope getting this tattoo is a step to healing for him. From an artistic side, the shading and detail in this tat is fantastic!
Next up was Bev. She couldn't get hers in the same spot as the rest of us, because she already has one there. Bev's daughter Pam died shortly after giving birth from an embolism several years ago. On her chest, Pam had a tat of an angel blowing stardust. Bev's tattoo is very similar, only the face resembles Pam, and inside the stardust are the letters to spell out PAM.

I was next. I was very nervous by this point, but Jeffie handled me well. ;-) First he applied the stencil.
And then the work began! OUCH! I don't know how in the world that Mike guy could stand to get his whole back done, or for that matter anyone else who I know with large tats!
Getting right up close and personal!

Scharlett was next. She made the mistake of not wearing the right shirt so she had to take it off in order to get her tattoo. Poor Scharlett.
And, the picture you've all been waiting for....the finished product! Notice the slight swelling. I am such a wimp. LOL

Some of you know I've been trying to design a tattoo about my kids for some time. After looking through the books in the shop, and talking with Jeffie I've finally gotten it figured out! I know where I'll be going to get it done.

Coming soon, "Split Rock Sisters"

Where do I start?

I have no idea where to start blogging about my trip. Seriously, I have about a month's worth of blog fodder!

I have to say that while I have enjoyed many friendships over the years, and gone on some amazing trips, this one takes the cake! First of all, never in all my life have I laughed so hard, so many consecutive moments, over the course of so many days. I'm talking "hold yourself so you don't wet your pants and oh my god I can't breathe!" type of laughter! I suppose most of it was "you had to be there" kind of stuff, but I will do my best to get you there too!

And of course, there are the friendships made. There were four of us on this trip, all from different walks of life. Let me introduce them to you.

First there is Tink from New Jersey. Tink is a Type A personality with ADD, which makes for an interesting combination, let me tell ya! Anyway, this started out as really being her ride, and the rest of us were kind of tagging along. She just turned 50 and this was her "Epic Journey". Not only a celebration of her birthday, but of her life. Her sister died at 50, and Tink has been very moved by the fact that it could have been her. It was also a celebration of HER, and she made the trip because she COULD. (see my reasons for the trip and you'll know what I'm talking about.) I met up with the group in Duluth, MN which is Tink's birthplace. Much of our time there was spent visiting old memories with her, and was a lot of fun. More on that later.

There is Scarlett, only I have trouble calling her that and kept saying Charlett by mistake. Eventually I forgot her real name and she became Scharlett to me. LOL Scharlett and Tink are good friends, and together formed the NJ chapter of Sisters In Spirit. Naturally she was the first one who Tink asked to come along on the journey. Scharlett is a Type A personality but is very polite about it! No, took me awhile to figure this out! I think it was the day we were sitting in our hotel room, and she had a stack of envelopes in front of her. Each envelope had the name and address of each hotel they stayed at along the way. (remember they'd been on the road for a week before I joined them!) I kind of teased her, saying, "What, are you sending thank you notes to each one?" (cuz remember, she's very polite.) She said, "No, each one has a map and and the hotel information." aaahhh...see, Type A organization! Compare this to the scrap of paper that was floating around in one of my saddle bags, where I'd scribbled my hotel info just in case I needed it.

And now meet Bev. aka Foxy. She is from a little town in central Wisconsin. Last year she purchased her dream TRIKE, and was anxious to step out of her comfort zone and make a long trip all alone. ("alone" meaning without her husband.) She has only had her trike for about a year, so I have no doubt she learned a lot of skills on this trip!

Here's a picture of the other 3 ladies, the day I met them.
Bev, Scharlett, and Tink

Saturday, July 05, 2008

One last post before I go...SEE YA!!!!

By the way, this picture was difficult to take by MYSELF!

Friday, July 04, 2008

What does this pic say to you?


Scattering makes me nervous

My family is scattering this week, and it makes me very nervous. Dean is on a fishing trip with his brother and entire extended family. He's having blast, and I'm so glad!

Angela just left for a week with her dad. You may remember that just one year ago was the horrible crash that she and her dad were in when the suicide driver aimed for their truck. (actually, it happened August 18th) I'm VERY nervous about her going again, and almost said no. But there are things more important than my worry. Her brother Bryon leaves for Afghanistan next week, and she needs to say good bye to him. I just sent her off, and as she walked down the driveway with her dad I could hear her saying, "I'm so excited! I see Bryon and Robbie and the kids!" (she hasn't seen her brother Robbie since last August.), I said a prayer for her safety and tried not to be a tearful mother. Just as I was reaching up to wipe ONE tear, she turned and waved, "Bye mom! Love you! Have a great trip!"

Which brings me to my next point of anxiety. I am leaving on my first motorcycle trip alone. My "Epic Journey". Well...I'll be alone for the first 200 miles which isn't a big deal. I've been on many a motorcycle trip in my life, but I've always been either on the back of my mom's bike, or now Deans. But this one is just me....on my family along. I'm hooking up with a group of women riders I've never met before. And...can you believe...I'm sharing a hotel with one of them for the week? (and yes, I question my own sanity) Something I never would have considered doing 10 years ago! LOL I'll be riding up to Duluth MN and meeting them, and from there we'll be riding north east through Canada, and all the way around Lake Superior, down through Sault Ste. Marie, and from there I'll be riding home alone which is about 500 miles.

Tyler is just going to be hanging out here, supervising the ins and outs of the dogs and working.

This trip, because I'm on a motorcycle, makes me feel quite vulnerable, especially since everyone else in my family is going different directions as well. In each city we're staying in over the week, the forecast calls for rain. It's very possible I will melt. I get a little freaked out when it rains and I'm on my bike. I even considered keeping the sidecar on, as it's much more stable on wet roads, but it also changes the ride considerably...more than I want to give up. Our pediatrician recently put together a new "condensed health care plan" for all of her patients that is to be used in emergencies. It includes the names of all Angela's specialists, hospital chart numbers, medications and dosages, immunization dates, and prioritizes her medical issues in order of most critical to minor. I sent a copy with Angela's dad, and have one hanging on the fridge....just in case....

Please say a quick prayer for my family this week. That all are safe and happy. This week will bring many memories for all of us, they'll just be disconnected from each other.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Blood work is back

I don't think I posted that Angela had a bunch of blood draws done last week. Some of them she was due for, and others we were trying to rule out stuff. For the purposes of saving my fingers, you'll need to know these abreviations:

Ped: Pediatrician

Dev. Ped: A Developmental Pediatrician- physician who addresses special needs or special care issues for children with special needs.

Ped. Endo: Pediatric Endochrinologist - physician who deals with children who have disorders of the endochrine system including diabetes, growth disorders, and thyroid disorders, just to name a few.

GI: Pediatric Gastroenterolgoist - physicial who deals with disorders of the digestive system, specializing in working with children.

ENT: Ear Nose and Throat doctor

GAH! The ped called and started off with, "I got the blood work back, and I've put a call into the dev. ped. to get her opinion before I decide what to do."

Would that make you worry if they said that?

Ok, I'm not so smart about the thyroid stuff, and I was talking to the ped while trying to say goodbye to people who were here, so I need to have her email me the numbers so I'm clear on everything, but here's the gist of it.

The T4 was just a couple decimal points below the low end of normal, but the TSH, while on the high end of normal, was still within normal limits. (I think I have those in the right order. LOL) So she wanted the dev. ped. and ped. endo. to decide which direction we should go with this.

The MN allergy panel came back normal except for ONE slight reaction to a tree that to my knowledge we don't even have around here. And, thankfully, there was no dog reaction, which was a big worry for us! Her nose is still running, but she doesn't have a sinus infection anymore. Just a clear runny nose. I did put her on claratin last week to see if it would make a difference. I think it has, as her eyes are no longer red and itchy.

Then there is this horrid cough that she's had for a month now. It's VERY phlegmy sounding, and SOUNDS very deep, yet the ped doesn't think it's in her lungs. She *is* wheezy though, and we've been nebbing every 4 hours for a couple of weeks now. But she's not crackly, just squeeky. (I know, all these technical terms. LOL)

The theory? That her esophagus is deteriorating further and she's aspirating. That she's able to clear her lungs with with a cough, but she's keeping gunk at the level of her trachea. The ped wants us to go back to the GI, who has some tests he wants us to do, along with that 3D CT that nobody realized he ordered 18 months ago! Apparently there was a consultation with the cardiologist who suggested doing this scan to see if her heart could be compressing her esophagus. Once that's done, we'll be down at Mayo to talk to the specialists there who deal with Achalasia. We've talked to them in the past, but the ped. thinks it's time to do some real serious looking right now. Also, she said the testing that was done 18 months ago will probably all need to be re-done (sleep study w/ph probe, esophageal manometry, and another endoscopy. We'll probably throw in a bronch at the same time as the endoscopy as well.) The fix for achalasia isn't a pretty one, so I'm praying that's not the direction we're headed. Angela has HUGE PROBLEMS with wound healing after ANY surgery. From the reading I've done, if she did need surgery for this, because she's had a nissen and LOTS of abdominal scarring from having the incision opened numerous times, it's unlikely they could do a laproscopic procedure.

I hate this....I hate that things just never go well for her. I hate that when things DO settle down, they start going bad again.

I also hate that she's probably never had a comfortable day in her life. It's very likely she's always had pain somewhere at all times, (most likely in her chest) and we wonder why she gets crabby and aggressive, and yet it's not acceptable to be this way. She's probably never known what it's like to be pain-free.

Why can't she have something that will eventually go away, or that she'll outgrow?

I'm sorry, I'm having a bit of a pity party for my kid tonight. After watching Kennedy's day, and then getting this news, I'm just feeling like some of our kids need to catch a break already!