Saturday, August 30, 2008

Wheelchairs Rock

So I am at Target yesterday with Sommer and realize that I can't "crutch" it around stores due to the intense pain in my arms/hands from the process. I then realize it might be a great excuse to finally try out one of those motorized wheelchairs the stores provide for their customers in "need."

Sommer was a bit leery of my decision (especially when I backed up and the contraption started beeping extremely loud to warn others) but in the end we had a great time zooming around Target...okay they don't really zoom...rather putz at top speeds of 2 mph. She did try to pretend I wasn't her mom a couple of times when she saw some of her friends but quickly had to claim me when I drove up to them with a big wave...I was lovin' this.

Today at Costco, Garth insisted I get another one so he could have a good laugh (I actually do "need" one since the crutches are way too painful for shopping trips). We went all around getting lots of looks (of admiration I think or sympathy) doing our birthday shopping for Ashton's big 4th birthday on Monday. We asked him what he wanted and he has told us two things: M&Ms and Starburst.

Later that day we had a quick stop at Walmart. Instead of taking one of the "slow" motorized wheelchairs, Garth thought it might be even more fun to just use a plain old wheel chair that he would push. He immediately started moving wildly through the store...packed with shoppers I might add. But admittedly, it was much more fun than the battery operated ones. He drove me into a few aisles of merchandise (on purpose? maybe...) but all in all, it was a thumbs up mode of transportation.

Since I can now drive with my left foot...check...and can get around stores with a wheelchair/basket...check...and I am getting a handicapped parking sticker Tuesday...things aren't looking so bad.

I just need to find a way to carry dishes to the sink, pick up, vacuum, etc while using crutches.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Casting a New Light

I have a cast. It is hard to use crutches. They hurt my hands. They hurt my pits. I am slow. It is difficult to clean. Messes are popping up everywhere. I can't carry things and use crutches at the same time. I can't drive (yet). Going down the stairs is a long and scary process. No weight bearing on foot for 3 weeks. No running, biking, swimming...nothing for 3 weeks, at least. I have a cast. Humbled, thankful, hopeful, insightful, empathetic...and free from housework.

I can't wait until I can run again though...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

In Closing...

In the closing of our Alaska trip, I would like to thank the following people for making it a huge success! First Mom and Dad Novakovich for opening their home, giving me a car, golfing and making the best pancakes ever!

Matt and Tiffanie, thank you for your kids (cause mine had so much fun playing with yours...and meeting cousins!), hiking (and other strenuous activities), eating, playing hide-and-go-seek, and bike racing (I preferred watching both of you!).
I can't wait to eat here, was that some awesome food!
I miss you all!

Now I can't end without thanking Garth and Sommer for allowing us to leave for 2 weeks! We know how hard you both worked to make it happen. Thanks to the Virginia Grandparents, The Gairs for taking the kids while Garth was out of town. And to those friends that took the kids every now and then...THANKS!!

Bears and Moose...of the friendly variety

We had to hit the gift shop before we left. And it was there we met up with these friendly animals.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Alaska is Beautiful

Alaska State Fair Baby!

It all started with the BMX bike stunt show. My boys loved this so much, they asked to see it twice! The riders were available for autographs after the show, and both Calvin and Ethan got a poster and hat signed by these national ranked X game bikers.

A fair isn't a fair without the expensive, totally unsafe, thrill rides. Here we can see a perfect example of how fair rides drain your pockets...

The funniest show (and my favorite...thanks Maleen for the suggestion), was the lumberjack show! They made hiliarious wisecracks, raced up these tall polls, logged rolled themselves into the water and carved a rabbit in a log with a chainsaw.

We spent the entire day looking for free stuff (you all know how I feel about that) and felt we came away with plenty of junk. I think this was one of our best days yet!

Cousin Josh, Cousin Liz and Cousin Gnome

Josh turned 8 yesterday! Happy Birthday Josh!

He received many super presents. One of his favorites was another ramp.
Here is the cutest cousin of all...Tally. I think she looks a bit like the Travelocity Gnome...but much cuter.

Self Induced Suffering

Here is how the bike race went down (or should I say up?):

Matt is behind me giving me encouragement up the last final incline...ugg.
I mean up this final incline...double ugg.
And the final incline...triple ugg.

My goals were to not finish last and to not fall over on my brother's wife's $6000 bike. That was accomplished but didn't come easy.

Moments before the race, the director warned of a mother bear and two cubs on the road ahead. I am thinking, "great, I will most likely be in the rear and get eaten." My brother had gone to the front (he has the course record, and needed to make sure he kept it). It was about then that I looked down at my handle barsand front tire and realized they were not aligned. I quickly turned them to straighten them. It was then I began to be a bit freaked out with worry this might indeed cause a problem. They started the race. My brother rode back to me to give me his final "good luck." I told him about my handle bars. He say, "Oh crap, I forgot to tighten them. Quick. Stop here at Tiffanie's car (his wife) and see if she has an allen wrench." I wished him well (and told him to not let anyone beat him or his record) and off he went. Tiffanie didn't have a wrench but luckily a car behind her did. They tightened the bar and I was off, losing exactly 2:25 from the pack plus any drafting I might have gotten.

I was alone for the first 10 minutes before I saw my the first rider (luckily, I didn't see any hungry bears). I slowly began my attempt at closing in. I finally did...whew! Tiffanie kept giving me splits of the riders ahead...2 girls; one 1 minute and the other 2 minutes ahead. 30 mintues in, I finally caught girl number 1. We were climbing at 20% grade and I just wanted to stop and take a breather. My heart rate was in the high 180's. But I wasn't sure I could start moving again with that type of incline. I pumped passed the girl (at top speeds of 5 mph) and pressed on.

I could not believe this climb and more crazy was the fact I was actually continueing to move forward rather than sliding back down the mountain.

My brother (after winning the race), came and rode the final 5 minutes with me (pain and suffering). On the final moments he told me that "Novakovich's (my maiden name) can take pain." I was they can't. And then I thought of Jamie's (one of my running/biking buddies in VA) great advice, "Heather, remember that cast will be on your foot next week and you won't be doing anything for 6 weeks." I kicked it into high gear (now going 6 mph...ha) and my brother then said, "Heather, you do you realize you have some more gears you can use?" What?! He then pushed my back so I could get my gear in proper placement and I finished...barely.

You can see in the final two pictures that I actually came to a complete stop like two feet from the finish...I couldn't go any further! Take a look at that blasted mountain we had to ride a bike up...I suffered but at least did it with a nice view.
Stats: 2225 elevation climb
Total miles: 9:30
Total time: 56 minutes (Matt finished around 36)
Average speed: 9.9 mph
Max speed: 30.8
Avg Heart rate: 172
Max Heart rate: 192

I placed fourth from last....I have now been told that this is the hardest climb race they have here...thanks a lot!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Boys See Moose

Today while the boys were out riding bikes, they had their first encounter with a moose. As they approached the large creature (dumb idea), they began to chant, "Here Moosey, Moosey (also dumb)." Luckily, the local kids (and smarter) were just getting out of school and they told my ignorant boys, to stop doing that.

So today the boys discovered "the Clubhouse." In my parents neighborhood they have a center with indoor pool, weight room, etc. But what it has that thrills all children, is a huge glass counter filled to the rim with candy for sale. Yes. It is true. As a child, I frequented the candy store at the clubhouse. The boys have been back and forth all day...getting money for candy. How can I deny them?

Strikin' it Rich

Ethan, Josh and I headed for the hills yesterday to pan for gold. We had a great time meeting the family owned and operated mine, Indian Valley Mine, that was discovered by Peter Strong in 1909. He built a small cabin, forged his own tools and mined gold until WWII. You can see the small mine shaft where he would go searching...

The boys wanted to know if this was a real nugget...not a gold one or a chicken.
Here is Arlene asking the boys to "shake hands" becoming partners as they split a mystery bucket of dirt and rock.
The panning begins. They are both taught the ways of the gold miner. Gold is 18 times heavier than rock, so it hangs out on the bottom of their pans. Each boy filled a little vile with not only a few small nuggets, but amethist, garnets, granite, and jade.
Josh and I had a bit more patience than Ethan. The large flies and mosquitos were quite disturbing for him...But Josh and I panned until there was no more than a few ugly rocks remaining.
They both left happy miners. Every place we go, we are delighted to have amazing views. Love Alaska!

Faces in Places

Here is a random sampler of pictures from various days, various ways...

The boys have had an obsession with rocks on our vacation. Throwing any size, any place...
Here are the cute grandparents...(my mother broke her arm a month ago).
Here is Matt and I on one of our rigerous and might I add crazy workouts. At this point we have just hopped off a treadmill set at 25 incline (didn't even know they went that steep) at a full sprint to this contraption. We strapped on a belt and then self propelled the treadmill with weight to a full sprint. Matt looked good. I looked stupid.

Matt and Tiffanie getting ready to protect me and my family in the woods. It was a few mintues later we saw the bears. Matt so wanted the bear to come at us so he could shoot.
Captain Grandpa on the river...
Little Tally loving Calvin.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

And the Animal(s) of the day are...

Today we floated down the Portage River in Grandpa's raft. The water was glacieriffic silty and freezing (meaning it was a grey muddy color and you understand the freezing part, right?!). We saw a bald eagle, a huge beaver, dall sheep (amazingly close on the ledges of the mountain side) and of course fish...and lots of mosquitos...

No moose have been sighted yet (come on, we usually see these on a daily basis walking around the neighborhood), but I will of course keep you posted.

We watched Uncle Matt in another race tonight...this time a mountain bike race. He came in first by a long shot. That boy knows everyone and man do they love and respect him. I love being introduced as his sistah. I might even give the mountain bike race a go on Friday night...

Monday, August 18, 2008


One beautiful place. A little hike through the woods along a tiny dirt path that follows along the top of a ridge of gorgeous glacier waters. It leads to a cable/rope bridge that crosses that gorge. Ethan, Josh and Liz couldn't wait to have their turn. I stood far from the edge wishing they were already done. I did take a turn at the end after seeing Liz, the five year old, cross. I went half way across and called it a day.