Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Little More from World's End...

The Haystacks

Sacagawea, as played by Little Fish

Me, after hauling the sleeping baby up the mountain

Sunday, July 22, 2007

It's the End of the World as We Know It...

Little Fish and I went to World's End State Park with the neighbors. Mrs. Fish stayed home. Mrs. Fish does not camp. It's a nicer campground than some, and everything was pretty much set up when I got there (one of the bonuses of having to work until closing on Friday). We hiked and the girls put on a "play".

The first hike was up to the top of the lookout, which was a pretty steep climb in places. One of the neighbors had a baby backpack for his little, and we took turns carrying her up and down the slopes. Little Fish played Sacajawea and helped me negotiate the treacherous terrain.

We also found some cool fauna, including this millipede which emits a kind of cyanide as its defense. Wash your hands IF you touch it. This is one reason Mrs. Fish does not camp.

The highlight of the hike is the lookout from the top, which the whites who settled there declared must be the end of the world...hence the name.

We also went swimming at a place called the Haystacks, which was a lot of fun. It has huge rocks in the middle of the Loyalsock Creek, and you can slide through different swimming holes. My neighbor Bob was swimming in one of the holes toward a big boulder when he got a bit of a scare: there was a snake's head poking up underneath it! I think the snake was "fishing' but we didn't stop to ask it. I like snakes, and it was cool to watch him from afar, but I couldn't identify what he was, so I gave him some extra room. This is another reason Mrs. Fish does not camp.

I ate too many s'mores. Mmmmmmmm...campfire s'mores are the best. My buddy Joe also made mountain pies, which are sandwiches with pie filling in them, placed in a cast iron bread holder and baked in the coals of the fire. I had too many of those, too.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Latest Cycling Injury...

I was out riding and rode past....errr, through some poison ivy that was sticking out into the road from a farm plot (welcome to South Central PA). It hit right at the sock, and I thought I might be okay.

I thought wrong. I guess all the sweat made it easier for the poison to get to my leg, and then seal it in. My leg has been itching like crazy. I'd understand if I were a mountain biker, how does one rationalize getting poison ivy as a road rider?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Good Cannondale Rider

Jesus said, "A certain man was going for a bicycle ride on his Trek, around the Enola, Mechanicsburg and the Camp Hill area, and he almost fell when his bike blew out a tire. He tried to fix the tire, but upon filling his only spare inner tube, he ripped the stem off of it when he tried to remove the pump, leaving his bicycle half dead.

By chance a certain Chevy driver was going down that way. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Lexus driver also, when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a certain Cannondale rider, as he traveled, came to where he was. When he saw him, he was moved with compassion, came to him, and offered him the last of his own inner tubes, and tarried with him to ensure the tire worked and the man would be able to get home to his family.

On the same day, after he departed, and 38 miles into a 50 mile training ride, he got a flat tire himself and had to call his wife who stopped her shopping at Kohl's to come and get the Cannondale rider, laughing at him when she heard the tale. Now which of these three do you think seemed to be a neighbor to the Trek rider?" He said, "He who showed mercy on him, and gave him his last inner tube, even though he was going for a looooong training ride, knowing in his heart of hearts he was going to pay for it." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Georgia on My Mind

There were a lot of highlights from the trip. We had dinner with old friends from the neighborhood who had moved down a couple years ago. It was good to see them, and you forget how quickly kids can grow in the time.

We went to Stone Mountain in Georgia, and they had a laser show at the end of the evening. Stone Mountain is this huge rock that is carved with the heroes of the Confederacy: Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis.

There is also a sky lift that takes people to the top of the mountain. Little Fish is afraid of heights, but she decided it was going to be her week of facing things that made her afraid.

She was a little freaked out going up, but within 10 minutes of being at the top she pretty much PWNED it.

Princess of the World...

The laser show was interesting. It's easy to forget that the War of Northern Aggression (you might call it the Civil War) is still being fought in some areas of the world, but not Stone Mountain Georgia. It was a fireworks display and laser-lights presentation of all-things-Southern in general, and Georgia in particular: fast cars, Charlie Daniels Band, the South will rise again(!), Midnight Train to Georgia, the Yellow Jackets and Bulldogs, and Georgia on My Mind. I was starting to get a little worried when people started "hootin' and hollerin'" as the three figures on the face of the mountain were lit up and animated. But then they closed with an Americana piece and that drew the largest response, so I figured we'd be safe...

We also saw Margaret Mitchell's house, and did the Gone With the Wind scene.

Little Fish had her first Shirley Temple.

We adopted a new family member: ZIPS!

A great time was had by all...

The best thing I came away with is that kids who stutter grow up fine, sometimes even better because of it. The teenagers I met had been through the ringer, but had found support, made friendships, and gained understanding of themselves and others. As a parent, you just want the best for your kids. I wanted some assurances that stuttering was not going to hold Little Fish back, because it hasn't so far. I got that at the conference.

NSA in the ATL

We arrived at the Sheraton where the National Stuttering Association conference was being held. It's a beautiful hotel with a really nice pool and comfy beds with a nice bounce-factor for jumping on them with one's daughter...if one were so inclined to do such a thing.

We also registered for the conference, with young women who stuttered. It was then that it occurred to me that the only person I have really heard who stutters is my daughter. I know it's why we went to the conference, but it was pretty amazing to be in the presence of so many people that were just like Little Fish.

Mrs. Fish signed us up for some cool activities, and the first night was going to a Braves game. When we got to Turner Field, the Nationals were taking batting practice, so Little Fish and I went down to the fence. While we were there, this young teen came up and started talking to us, stuttering. He explained he was at the conference from New Orleans, and had been coming for several years. I really enjoyed speaking with him, and we talked about his city, the conference and lots of other things. I admired his poise and the ease with which he spoke to me, not from a stuttering point of view, but for his confidence.

Little Fish and I live charmed lives. We both realize it, but I don't think she realizes that it's not necessarily supposed to be that way. When we are going someplace crowded, I almost invarably get a parking spot really close. When we stayed in a hotel in Philadelphia they sent a cheese and fruit platter up to the room. So imagine her diasappointment when we didn't get a ball in BP. Furthermore, one Nationals player was teasing the home crowd by tossing the balls up but not clearing the fence. Very funny.

Like any ballpark, there are activities between innings. Around the fourth inning there was a t-shirt cannon. The Braves Girls walked around and shot t-shirts into the stands...and I CAUGHT ONE! Little Fish accepted this as a gift of cosmic kharma and as simply her lot in charmed life.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

We had a great time talking to conference goers, taking in the sites at the ball park (including one of my favorites, Jonny Bravo) and just being together at the ballpark, though the hot dogs were not very good. How do you have a ballpark with bad hotdogs?
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Oh yeah. The home team drubbed the Nationals 13-0. Who's laughing now?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Fishers Went Down to Georgia

My daughter stutters. It's a strange thing, because there is not a lot known about it, what causes it, why some people just lose the stutter, and why some have a much harder time with it. It's harder for Little Fish, I think, becasue she is the only kid in her school who stutters, adn the kids she has met who stutter are all boys. That makes a difference for a nine year old.

So when we found out the National Stuttering Association was having it's annual conference in Atlanta, we asked Little Fish if she wanted to go. Road Trip? Hotel stays? Swimming pools? AND girls who stutter? She pushed the chips forward and declared she was "All in."

The primary message of the NSA is this: If you stutter, you are not alone. It's a powwerful message because I think a lot of people who stutter think they are alone...like my kid.

Road Trip!
My family loves road trips, my daughter perhaps the most. So we loaded up the Fishmobile and headed south. Along the way we passed Blacksburg Virginia, home of the Virginia Tech Hokies, where my brother went to school. It was a little wierd, after everything that happened, and I said a prayer for the people there.

We planned a stop around halfway, which for us was Concord, North Carolina. We got to the hotel and it was completely decked out in NASCAR gear, which was donated by Hendrick Racing, one of the biggest names in the sport. I'm not a racing fan, so it was just so-so (think: meh) for me, but the hotel was very nice, spacious and comfrtable. Little Fish and I had to do the check...we have a tradition of testing the beds by jumping on them, a tradition which we have follwoed in every single hotel we have ever visited. My wife just sadly shakes her head...but she still snaps the pictures.

Little Fish and I also availed ourselves of the hottub, which was awesome. Since the crash, I find that I get stiff after about two hours in the car, so I have to get out and stretch. Seven hours in the car has greater effect, so the hottub was just what the doctor ordered. Little Fish just likes the bubbles.

We had a good night's stay, I woke up and worked out, then we went down to a HUGE complimentary breakfast spread. An observation: The service in the South is quite a bit slower, but people are so nice I don't mind spending extra time with them. Then it was time to get on the road.

One of the things I love about road trips is the strange things you see in the landscape. Towering dinosaurs, cows on the tops of buildings, huge mexicans with enormous sombreros come to mind from previous trips. This trip's highlight(?) was the Giant Peach-butt.

And then we finally reached the ATL, that magical land where I could say "YES!" when my daughter asked, "Are we there yet?"