Jack has been potty training for the past couple of months, or more specifically, Jack is potty trained but he is still in that phase where he needs a reminder every once and awhile that he needs to make a trip to the bathroom. As an incentive to get through the day without any accidents I started telling him first thing in the morning that if he went all day without any accidents I would take him out for ice cream. This has resulted in me coming home every day and running in to the house excitedly asking, “Jack, did you have any accidents today?” I’m kidding of course, sort of. As I walk in the door each day, Jack now runs to greet me yelling, “I didn’t have any accidents today! Can we go get ice cream now?” “Yes son, yes we can.” Some of you fathers are now kicking yourselves for not coming up with this idea. Well, you are welcome.
Speaking of ice cream, it would appear that I have become a minor local celebrity. Leslie and I went and had dinner at a restaurant called Friendly’s the other night. I had a burger and she had chicken tenders; afterwards we decided to order ice cream. Leslie’s meal came with a free sundae so that is what she ordered; I eventually settled on the ‘Crowd Pleaser,’ six scoops of ice cream with six toppings. When I initially ordered it the waitress just stared at me and then eventually asked, “You’re going to eat all of that by yourself.” “Well… no, I thought I would throw it against the wall and see if it stuck. Of course I am going to eat all of it.” The waitress took our order back to the kitchen and it was only a few minutes later that I noticed members of the kitchen staff keep peeking their head out of the double doors and looking in my direction.
When she finally brought out our ice cream she was trailed by three or four other members of the wait staff, I can only presume it was so that they could witness the kind of man who would so casually dare to consume an entire ‘Crowd Pleaser’ by himself. When she dropped off our dishes she asked if I was certain I did not want a second spoon to share, I looked her in the eye and said, “Do I look like an amateur? I know what I’m doing.” Upon clearing my bowl, I was greeted with cheers and applause, the hostess even went in to the back and retrieved a balloon for me to commemorate the moment with. As I walked out the door several members of the kitchen staff engaged me in conversation, mostly wishing their congratulations. One guy told me that he had watched tables of 4-5 people who were unable to finish the dish. Of course, it was at this point that I felt obligated to bring up the fact that at one point in time I held the record on two different cruise lines for the number of ice cream cones consumed in a single cruise. Next time I may have to skip dinner and just order two of them to really blow their minds.
A couple of weeks ago we had a neighborhood block party at our church and our pastor asked if they could borrow my grill to cook hotdogs. I obliged and brought my grill to the church that morning when I showed up to help set up. This in and of itself was not noteworthy accomplishment, rather, the warning that I had to give with the grill is what made the moment so memorable. “Guys, whoever starts this grill has to be really careful when lighting it. The original regulator on the grill broke and so I replaced it with one I had sitting around the garage, unfortunately the only one I had belonged to a turkey fryer, so take it easy, ok?” It’s times like this that I truly enjoy being an engineer.
This afternoon after the kids went down for a nap I was feeling pretty restless so I drove out to one of the local nature preserves and went for a hike. Being alone I decided to take a more challenging trail, actually I decided to leave the trail entirely. I followed the trail to the waterfall and then ignoring all the signs about steep slopes, unstable ground, and cautions to stay on the marked trails, I began making my way to the base of the waterfall. I got to the bottom and decided to follow the river a little bit further. I ended up hiking about a mile down river and scaling down two more waterfalls in the process. It was shortly after the third waterfall that I began to consider the difficulty of the terrain I had traversed and the remoteness of the location I had now found myself in. I had not seen any sign of a trail or any kind of human traces since shortly after leaving the trail. Just when I had decided to turn around and begin making my way back I saw something in the distance that caught my eye; uncertain of what it was I decided to hike to it and then turn back.
As it turned out it was a massive landslide and as I gazed at the incredible site I considered that I was probably only one of a few people currently alive who had ever taken in this particular landscape. It was at this point that I caught a hint of motion even further downstream. As I watched the bushes about a hundred yards away, I was stunned to see two people walk out into the stream bed. Curious I hiked over to where they had come out of the woods and there I discovered the trail I had left a mile prior. Disappointed that I was not nearly as far off trail as I suspected I set off back towards the car but the opposite direction from the trail that had just rediscovered. The trip back was considerably more strenuous as I was now working my way uphill and over rougher terrain. I began to get very winded as I traversed up and down steep slopes keeping the river consistently on my left. I was approximately half way back when I once again spied movement in the distance, this time along the ridge about 15 yards higher than where I was currently hiking. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that my own path had paralleled the official trail I had so carefully attempted to avoid. Don’t get me wrong, I was in this for the challenge, but I wanted to blaze a new trail, not walk a more difficult route that was located 45 feet away from an officially sanctioned trail. Maybe next time I’ll just stick to the trail.