Our original intent for this blog makeover was to have it double as a sort of travelogue for our various adventures, but things haven’t quite worked out that way yet. I imagine we will try to address that shortcoming soon, perhaps as a potential New Year’s Resolution (which, at the rate of our posting, could very well be the next entry after this), but the result of our laxity is there are now a lot of things I want to write about. This tends to be an early indication of a blog-disaster for me, because of my tendency to be a bit bombastic.
For example, not long ago I set out to post a few thoughts and opinions following the conclusion of the 2008 Summer Olympics. I started by outlining my 20 favorite things about the games, followed by my 10 least favorite. Then, I made a third section of events which I would like to see more in the future, followed by those I felt were over-indulged.
I didn’t think the project was overly ambitious in the beginning, but I began to reconsider after I found myself 5,000 words into it and only halfway through the first outlined section. I could have pressed on and finished it, but who would ever take the time to read something like that? It sits in my files waiting for further enlightenment, which will almost certainly never come.
Anyway, I do want to present some token information about the past few months for The Wandering Moose and me, without running to Ludicrous Speed proportions. This will hopefully also give us the boost we need to become regulars on our own blog again. One can only hope. Now, on to the update:
Sasha the Swedish Vallhund
Our most recent post before this was about the unfortunate knee injury our dog had sustained while running in our backyard. The diagnosis was a torn anterior cruciate ligament, which required surgery to repair if we wanted her to ever walk on all four legs again. Our veterinarian recommended the procedure, and not just because he was building onto his house again. Sasha is six years old, and has become a genuine part of our peculiar little family. She will be with us for many years yet, and should not be relegated to tripod jokes for the rest of her life just so we can save a few dollars. Besides, she already had the same surgery on her driver’s-side rear leg not long ago (this time was passenger’s-side rear), so she would have a matching set.
As I write this, Sasha is stretched out in her favorite IKEA dog bed near my feet, happily snoozing the evening away. She walks without any limp whatsoever, and if not for the amusing slow-growth bare patch on her rump, a casual observer would not know she had been injured. It took a year for her fur to completely grow back last time, so I am not worried about it, but T.W. Moose is nervous. My actual concern is with winter knocking at the door she will be meandering around our snow-covered yard several times a day to conduct her business without fur to keep her surgically repaired knee warm. It would seem I’m in for another year of shoveling paths in the snow for her, which I don’t mind doing, but it’s a practice that draws scorn and ridicule from my dad.
In somewhat more recent news, a few weeks after her surgery, Sasha developed a bladder infection that was causing her to “leak” all over her various beds and our kitchen floor. She didn’t seem to be in physical pain, aside from putting her ears back at the cursing and empty threats that came from me every time I had to clean up one of her unpleasant warm puddles. Worse still, it happened just before we were supposed to leave on a two-week vacation, and she was scheduled to split time between my parents and my brother and sister-in-law. Lucky for us, her medicine kicked in quickly, and my family was all good sports, so we were free to go on our extravaganza vacation to points south.
Sasha seems to be in the clear now, although she has decided to start barking to go outside at 4:30 in the morning, which is definitely not cool with night owls like me and T.W. Moose. Sasha is 10 for 10 in early-morning barking during the last week and a half. Honestly, I wonder sometimes why we put up with that dog. Well, not really – I know why we put up with her. It’s because we are goofy, overly attached dog “parents” who love our fuzzy little princess. Which is probably every bit as ridiculous as it sounds, but we’re happy with it.
Tenth Anniversary Southern California Extravaganza
T.W. Moose and I left Kearns, Utah on Sunday, September 21st; travelled to Las Vegas, Nevada for a single-night stop; continued on to San Diego, California until Friday, September 26th; and then finished our trip in Anaheim, California for the remaining eight days. We drove home in one long day on Saturday, October 4th.
We intend on creating a full day-by-day recreation of our vacation, as nothing less would be adequate for our questionable purposes. But, until that mythical day arrives and we make good on our threat, I would like to share the first few impressions that come to mind:
Las Vegas is Disgusting Outside, Interesting Inside. I’m trying to not sound like a prude, but is it possible to stroll down the Las Vegas Strip (as we did our first night of vacation) without feeling like you have undertaken the visual equivalent of licking a gas station bathroom floor? I personally struggle enough in avoiding that sort of thing anyway, without it being plastered all over every available surface. I know Vegas is supposed to be a pleasure-seekers’ paradise, and people are welcome to enjoy themselves however they choose, but between the billboards, the posters, and the people handing out cards, the Vegas Strip is repulsive at street-level.
On the other hand, there is no other experience quite like walking into a big-time Las Vegas casino. Even if you are only there for sightseeing, there is a discernable buzz that you can sense even just walking through one of those Temples of Excess. Some of the newest casinos are moving away from the era of theatrical design, but nearly all of the big, famous ones (Caesar’s Palace, Treasure Island, The Luxor, The Mirage, etc.) have a central theme. In one visit to Las Vegas, you can also immerse yourself in a cultural appreciation (used loosely) of Paris, Venice, Ancient Rome, Pirate Ships, the South Seas, Medieval Castles, Egypt, and so on. The attention to detail in some of these places is noteworthy, and on occasion even reaches “Disneyan” standards.
T.W. Moose and I are big fans of Disney Theme Parks, as most people who know us are aware, so such a comparison rates highly in my book. In fact, the so-called “theming” of Disney properties is one of the things we most enjoy about our vacations. There is an exceptional attention to detail in everything, from the blatantly obvious to the very subtle. I acknowledge that some people may not get a kick out of such things (or, at least, get a kick out of a cartoon mouse being central to the designer’s palate), but we do. It’s one of the many things that keep us coming back.
Anyway, as we were wandering through a few casinos our first evening and observing the surroundings, I wondered how many adults in the Vegas party crowd would sneer (yes, sneer) at the idea of having fun in a theme-saturated place like Disneyland, but think nothing of sitting down in front of a Julius Caesar slot machine, in the middle of a reproduction of Roman Architecture, with statues to Roman gods and goddesses around, and surrounded by employees of the facility dressed in quasi-period costumes? I was not passing judgment on either point-of-view, just intrigued by the striking similarities.
San Diego is Awesome. San Diego was the site of our honeymoon in 1998, and the idea of a sentimental return for our tenth anniversary seemed perfect. The self-proclaimed “America’s Finest City” seems to always suffer a bit in comparisons to its large neighbor to the north, but taken as a whole, I would much rather spend a vacation in the San Diego Area than the Los Angeles Area. In fact, removing the Disneyland Resort and a few other minor attractions (Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner being one) from the equation, I would be okay with the idea of not visiting Los Angeles altogether.
T.W. Moose and I took in the whales at Sea World and the pandas at the Zoo, enjoying every moment of it. We also spent time in La Jolla with the surf and sea lions, and watching the sunset paint the sky. I have always loved the stately blending of color as the sun dips behind the Oquirrh Mountains here in Salt Lake City, but there is nothing quite as sublime as sunset over the ocean.
My paternal grandparents met in San Diego. She was a hard-working recent transplant from Oklahoma living with her sister, and he was a Marine preparing for the Pacific Theater of World War II. He once told me that she refused his marriage proposal twice before finally accepting the third. Another story, as I have been told, is that when he shipped out he gave her a train ticket back to his home in Salt Lake City and told her to find his family; that they would take care of her. When the young, anxious, and naturally self-conscious girl arrived at my great-grandparents’ home, they met her with open arms. They had never met her, but she became a part of their family from the first embrace.
I am certain there are many similar stories from that great and terrible era of world history, but that one has always helped me understand, in a very small way, the sacrifices of those generations who fought for the very fragile liberties I often take for granted. Standing with my sweetheart in the same places they stood, I tried to imagine their hope and faith, as they embarked on a new life, together and yet not together. I like to think that I possess enough courage to have fought aboard an aircraft carrier or in the jungles of Guadalcanal, but I don’t know. I also like to think that I am brave enough to board a train to an unfamiliar place, leaving behind everything I know, for an uncertain future; but again, I cannot tell. I do know that I will be forever grateful for two people who were brave enough and courageous enough; and that love and admiration, more than anything, is how I feel when I think of my grandparents in San Diego.
I Could Live at Disneyland. Eight straight days at Disneyland may sound like a Herculean feat to some, but it was just a good beginning for me and T.W. Moose. I completely understand that The Happiest Place on Earth is not for everyone, and I actually promote that idea. Because the lines are long enough as it is.
I am not a parent, so I don’t know how endearing (or difficult to ignore) the pleas of children can be, but I always feel a bit melancholy to see irritated parents hauling their kids around Disneyland out of a sense of obligation. These are the people who spend their time in the park in an exasperated huff because they think it’s too expensive, or because the lines are too long, or because in their very refined opinion, it’s stupid for adults to be there. Again I disclaim having direct parental experience, but why not just spend your vacation time and money somewhere else? It seems to me that a day full of complaining about Disneyland with your children in earshot won’t help anyone enjoy their time there.
I witnessed this phenomenon several times during our many hours in the park, and it was unfortunate each time. The parents detested every moment and the kids weren’t having fun, because, in a sense, they didn’t have permission to. Who can genuinely enjoy themselves with a guilty conscience? If someone is being told, in essence, that the whole family is only here at this STUPID place for YOU, even though I want to be home watching the NASCAR race, so you had better have FUN spending MY MONEY because what I want clearly doesn’t MATTER in this family… well… that’s quite a burden for a little spirit. I watched these families shamble by with a small twinge of sadness.
But just a small twinge – I was in Disneyland, after all.
Well, this update is already running long, as I feared, so I think I am going to end it here. There were a few more items on my outline, including notes about our family deer hunting trip, and something I had already tentatively titled: “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (For Sports).” It’s safe to say that a few bullets have been dodged today.