My Hiking Princess

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J hiked two miles into a canyon.

This is one of my favorite things that happened while we were at Bandolier National Monument. Over the last few years, I have taken J on longer walks and hikes before. Once when she was recovering from being sick and out of day care because she’d had a fever the day before, I took her to Palo Duro Canyon. We hiked and ate lunch out there, but I ended up feeling terrible – her fever came back the next day.

But not this time, this was full on threenager exploration mode. Our little 3 year old hitting the trail with the group and doing her best to keep up with adult legs.

I’m blow away by what she can do.

She wasn’t wearing tennis shoes, hiking boots, or even closed toed shoes. She wasn’t wearing jeans and a t-shirt or some technical pants that rustles and wicked moisture away.

Nope. None of those things.

She wore her dress and sandals.

We were hiking in a group. She would run in her little sandals to catch up to the group whenever she got behind and only had to stop because it got to steep for daddy to let her keep running.

It was pretty amazing. She is one tough girl that J-girl.

I’m looking forward to taking her on some more hikes as soon as I can. She loved it.

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Pocari Sweat… Best Name for a Sports Drink!

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Ok, I normally closet off the nerdy parts of myself so I can fit in to polite society. My deep confession is this: I want to go to Japan… Pretty much all of Japan.

So, I watch Travel Vlogs like “Texan in Tokyo” and “Rachel and Jun” – both are cute couples. Texan in Tokyo is definitely my favorite of the two. They just seem like people I would like to meet.

Anyways, apparently when you’re sick in Japan you don’t get gatorade, powerade, or pedialyte. Nope… None of the normal U.S. drinks. Instead you get the sports beverage with the best possible name of all time – “Pocari Sweat”.

Who doesn’t want to try something with sweat in the name?

I definitely did.

After reading a few reviews people seem to like it better than gatorade or powerade regardless of flavor or dilution or concentration. Pocari Sweat was describe as having a little salty flavor.

Now I had to try it.

So, I did the normal thing, headed out to Amazon and bought some drink mix to make my own. It took two days to ship, and then it was there.

How did it taste?

In a word, it was as good as the reviewers said, better than gatorade and powerade. The cloudiness of the liquid sort of looked like the frost flavored gatorade or powerade. The flavor was sweet. There was no salty flavor to speak of or salty after taste. I think the reviewers ran into a lack of vocabulary to describe the after taste, it wasn’t at all unpleasant. I just don’t have words to describe it.

I do know it is getting added to the drink mix … mix. Right now I use Skratch Labs, Gatorade, and Pocari Sweat. Which brings me to the one problem.

The box contains 5 packets that each make 1 L a piece. That’s 5 L for $11.49 – unless amazon comes down in price. If I do some math, I discover that’s around $2.30 a L, which is honestly what you pay for a 32 oz gatorade that isn’t on sale. However, a $20 thing of gatorade makes 24 quarts.

Now I just have one request – sell this stuff in a tub that makes 24 quarts and charge me a little more than gatorade please!

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Annoying Pool Rules

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This short rant brought to you by the Amarillo Town Club – a place to work out, and not the pool in the above picture. For whatever reason I don’t actually have a picture of the ATC pool.

Normally, this place gets rave reviews. The pool manages to not hit my biggest pet peeves about pools: they get the temperature for training right! Not only that, they have a little training pool for old people and children that’s kept at the right temperature for them.

That in my opinion is extraordinary praise.

They even get the hours right. 5 am till 9 pm.

Seriously, that is pretty awesome as well. It’s a pool that is kept in the right condition and with the right times for people to actually train swimming well.

Most pools don’t do that. They keep the pool at 84 which is near the cut off for having a Master’s Swimming Open Water event – a temperature set because of the risk of heat stroke. The ATC doesn’t do that.

Unfortunately, I now have a complaint that is founded on several problems that are probably more about me than about the pool. These are the foundations of my grievance: 1) They offer no lessons for children under the age of 5; 2) There is not a swim team in town that allows kids under the age of 7; 3) They do not host swim meets; 4) The offer no masters swimming.

All of these would be nothing except they will not let me use the starting blocks for training or for teaching unless I am an employee. They wont even let me use the training blocks for training if I am an employee.

And the head guy Mr. Doug’s response: “Well surely with your experience you don’t need to practice your dive anymore.” Or something like that.

Unfortunately, there’s no where else to go. There are no other training pools in this region – Pampa (45 minutes away), Canyon (40 minutes away), Dumas (1 hour 10 minutes away) all keep there pools too hot. While I can uses the long course pool owned by the city it closes early in the fall and the staff absolutely refuses to leave lane lines in for lap swimmers.

I don’t mind splash or waves, but I don’t want to run into a kid while I’m swimming.

So, for now, I can neither work and teach my daughter how to dive off blocks, nor can I get lessons for her, nor can I practice my dives. Seriously, it’s just a dive off the blocks, why is it such a problem for them to let me use the pool. I have been way too spoiled by the teams which I have been on in which the sort of “anything not idiotic goes” is the norm.

ATC, you have one unfriendly rule to people who want to train competitively. Please change it.

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Bandolier National Monument

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Mesa Verde really steals Bandelier National Monument’s thunder. Mesa Verde has a little more wow factor and a little bit grander buildings, but there’s a lot to offer in this little canyon an hour outside of Santa Fe. We came expecting to see indian ruins and hike in the hot hot days.

But this place had it’s own grandeur and majesty. The views of the calderas and the canyon itself were worth exploring. What made it the most special of all was going with a good group of friends and watching J and L (our little girls) go crazy for camping.

A few months earlier we were talking with a couple of friends about places they needed to see in the southwest, and we mentioned Mesa Verde – because who wouldn’t, but I had second thoughts. The ladders and climbs out there are a little much for Toddlers in my book, and I wanted the kids to have fun. So, we chose to go to the ruins at Bandelier instead.

At the time I had never heard of this place, but the pictures looked good so why not. It’s good having friends from Albuquerque to set you on the right path.

We loaded up for our second camping trip of the summer – I had just finished back packing for a week, but the family had camped in Cimarron, NM just two weeks earlier for one night to go pick up supplies from Philmont. This would be our youngest’s first multi-night camping trip.

Juniper Campground would be our home away from home, and this was probably the first surprise of the trip – there was ample shade at quite a few of the campgrounds. We saw a bobcat the first night, and the full moon on the second night brought lots of howling coyotes out. But nothing got near us, and the girls didn’t get scared.  10952539_657257694213_946615675773301901_n

On our first night we meandered out into the trails right around the campsite, but we didn’t go to far. L was in heaven exploring at top speed and falling all over herself on the uneven ground, but she was so busy exploring that it didn’t even slow her down.

We ended up hiking down into the canyon all the way to the ruins instead of taking the shuttle bus. It’s about 1.7 miles or so down to the ruins, and in our first round we took a right at the tour trail which was a mistake. Take a left if you go. IMG_1223

The more spectacular ruins lie in that direction, although there’s a fair case to head to the creek crossing to the right. J and the rest of us dipped our toes into the small stream, shucking our shoes to enjoy the sand and water.

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Not to far from there on the way back up the loop was a great rock for jumping off, and J has been taking gymnastics all summer long.

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By this time in the day it had reached a nearly unbearable level of heat, and so we took the tour bus back to the campsite. That air conditioning felt good, and we decided to take the kids swimming in Los Alamos about 15 minutes away.

The pool there is the highest 50 m pool in the world, and in addition they also have a very warm pool for little kids. But I’ll give a good review of that pool later.

As we came out, the temperature had dropped and it was pouring down rain – so we grabbed dinner at a local place that was ok to eat at and headed back to our tents. The rain didn’t last too long but the girls had passed out in the tent. The adults got together and visited waiting for the last members of our party to get there from Amarillo.

The next morning we decided to go the same route we had before with a turn to the left rather than the right. Our new party members were enjoying the scenery, but the most exciting part of this hike was that J (our 3 year old) hiked the whole 2 miles down into the canyon and back to the ruins herself!

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She ran on the flat parts, but needed a little help on the steeper portions of the climb. This little girl made it all the way down in her sandals. She was a ‘hiking princess’ in her little dress and ‘princess’ shoes.

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We stopped for views here and there, and she pretended to have a camera to take pictures. Well I guess she pretended to have a phone to take pictures.

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The rain came again that afternoon and kept the temperatures down where it was manageable – i.e. mid to upper 70s – and made it a much more pleasant experience at the campground.

I’ll admit, I was ready for a bed after a week backpacking and three nights out here, but I was not uncomfortable – far from it.

Bandolier has a lot to offer anyone who wants to hike or camp. The trails go down to waterfalls in the eastern half and back up along canyon rims. If I had been in the running shape I had been in last year, I would have wanted to run the trails up and down the canyons for a while. They were really well kept, and while a bit rocking in places, the running would have been superb.

As it was, I enjoyed hiking with my little girls, and watching J and L hike so well and just gush over the out doors. The climbed up the ladders into the ruins themselves, and were as happy as can be. I can’t wait to take them camping again, and I would definitely head back to bandolier when I get a chance.

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Anti-Christ’s in John’s First Epistle

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Children, it is the last hour! As you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. From this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But by going out they made it plain that none of them belongs to us.
– 1 John 2:18-19

When someone tosses out the word antichrist all sorts of images pop into our heads. Most of these ideas are completely worthless.

I can’t dismiss all of the ideas, but from what I have seen and heard they usually are either spectacularly overdramatized or used specifically to target one group or another to demonize them. In the first sense, picture the image from some Holywood reproduction of Satan with a madness in their eyes, bat wings, and horns. In the second sense, consider the use of this idea of antichrist within the political arena.

In the most simple terms an antichrist is exactly that, someone who is against Christ.

The members of the Sanhedrin or Pharisees that plotted against Jesus would be a prime example. Paul considers those espousing circumcision as a prerequisite for church membership in the same category. These are genuine and well meaning people who Paul nonetheless characterizes as being enemies of the gospel for their misunderstanding.

These circumcisers are not alone, the church’s history is littered with people that fall into the same “well meaning but dangerous category”.

Let’s not be fooled by the simplicity of the phrase “against Christ”. Someone who is against Christ can be so in a number of ways, and it’s easy to multiply the ways in which people can be against Christ. Anyone who sins might be lumped into that category, including repentant preachers and church goers who having been delivered from slavery to sin and death still struggle with the desires of the flesh.

We could go crazy and lump any non-Christian into this group or any Christian who does something differently than we would. Atheists and people who desire a different carpet in the sanctuary might not need this lump.

So, what specifically is John talking about in this passage?

The context is our best bet for deciphering. John’s letter sets up as it’s priority the necessity of the cohesion within the body of Christ. Cohesion testifies to God’s love for us through our love for one another. Disunity or falling apart – that breaks the image of Love God has called for us to evangelize and build between one another.

Antichrists are the people that seek to break unity.

It’s as simple as that. But what that challenges those that remain to do is to continue to love one another from within the community of the saved. This is not an abstract challenge to those who have gone out from the community, it is a direct challenge to those who remain within the community.

The ugly side is this – this passage gets used as a weapon or an egg to slam in someone’s face. This passage where John explicitly calls us to community interdependence is used as a way to call for schism. For John breaking fellowship over petty disagreements seems to be the worst of sins, a blatant declaration of un-love. Yet, people use this little conversation about antichrists to talk down everything from politicians to movie stars.

It’s always a temptation to set our eyes outward in judgement instead of setting our eyes inward with love and mutual support. The former is a little easier than the later. It is likely that what John conceives of as anti-Christ, against Christ, is casting judgement on inside and outside alike.

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Channel 10 News in Claude

Channel 10 Amarillo filmed in Claude, Tx last night.

As part of this the town put on a town festival, and we had a blast doing it. It was hot and sweaty and a lot of fun. Corn eating, buffalo chip tossing, and free food.

It went pretty late and I’m wiped out, but it was a pretty great way to promote both Channel 10 and more importantly for us – the town and businesses of Claude, Tx.

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Wifey Swimming

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The last time she swam was in this pool before yesterday.

Let’s put that in perspective. She hasn’t swam or done laps since we were in Santa Fe at the Genoveva Chavez Center sometime back in March.

March.

I can’t even remember the dates. It was sometime just after her first trail run and before I got sick, our first full day in Santa Fe. Sometime around four months ago, she got in the water and did laps with me.

Before that, I have no idea, but I think it was back in Missouri some three life times and half a decade ago.

She doesn’t lap swim that often.

But I’m always glad when she does! She has this grin on her face like she’s laughing at herself, and every positive thing I highlight she laughs off because “I can’t possibly be good at swimming”.

And by all rights, she shouldn’t be.

But she has great stroke and decent speed. If she was swimming next to the triathletes or the fitness swimmers, she would be lapping the latter and keeping up with the former (except for a few very exceptional triathletes). Her form is by far more text book than most triathletes or fitness swimmers.

Sure, there are tweaks to be made, but they’re the sort of tweaks you make to competitive swimmers getting ready for a season.

Her only limiting factor is her lack of cardiovascular endurance, and even in this she’s enviable. For whatever reason she’s still able to cross the pool or even do a 50 or 100 yard swim at the drop of a hat and months or even years apart form the last time she swam.

And she’s never trained. Ever.

I just don’t get it. Maybe someday she’ll train up with me on some masters team, and we’ll go compete together. It’d be fun. Swimming with someone with that big of a smile on their face is always fun!

Did I mention that she’s really adorable in a swim cap and goggles? She is…

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