Friday, February 22, 2008

well, that wasn't so bad

the spaceneedl winter vacation is over.

in its place is a passel of memories that can only be characterized as memorable.

let's start with the weather. it was warm. very warm. and sunny. the only way rain was falling from that sky was if somebody turned on the fire hoses.

which, apparently someone did.

a couple weeks before our visit, there was a fire in the condo building where we were staying. it didn't seem to amount to much, from what we could see, except that all the amenities were closed. the pool. the hot tub. the game room. you know, the places to send the children so we could drink in peace.

all shut down.


prior to the trip, our large transport vehicle went out of commission. the alternate little car, while a very comfortable ride, is little. it hauls very little gear. so we were obliged to rent an expensive car-top carrier for all our stuff.

insult to injury update: it took 4 hours to get the rack installed.

the drive up to canada was long, made longer still by the backup at the border. the new gps device gave us bad advice, so instead of taking the truck crossing, we queued up with the rest of the sheep at the peace arch crossing. mrs. spaceneedl expressed her dissatisfaction with gps technology several times.

finally...finally, we rolled into whistler village, picked up our keys to the condo, and, bleary-eyed, read the "sorry for the inconvenience" sign posted in the elevator.

we spent the rest of our first night on the phone, insisting on new accommodations.

the next day mrs. spaceneedl and i snowboarded while the children skied circles around us. in truth, we approximated some snowboard-like motions, punctuated by intense, painful falling-like motions. the children simply left us behind for the entire day. occasionally they would wave and laugh at us from the chairlift.

afterward, we looked forward to an idyllic evening of a horse-drawn sleigh ride over the snow-covered hills of the chateau whistler golf course, followed by a fun and tasty fondue dinner.

halfway into the ride, mrs. spaceneedl suffered an asthma attack.

once a bona fide horse person, she now is at risk of a pulmonary event if she even thinks about horses. okay, that may be a slight exaggeration. still, on this night, the proximity to a team of beautiful draught horses, combined with the cold air, put the missus into an asthmatic fit.

and her inhaler, which she should never be without if she's even thinking about visualizing the word "horse"? back at the condo.

which, thankfully, was only a half-mile run away.

by the time i got back, she looked as if she had been visited by the angel of death herself. she was surrounded by restaurant staff, all yammering on about their experiences with asthma and their sure-fire cures.

after due consideration, we decided to go with the inhaler. eventually it did its job, and eventually we enjoyed a caloriffic meal. with alcohol.

we returned to the condo and retrieved a message that our plea for new quarters had been granted. we were physically and emotionally exhausted, but figured we had raised too much of a fuss not to move to the new place. which turned out to be a big upgrade. a huge hot tub, a heated pool, a game room with a big-screen tv.

the rooms, where we collapsed, were nice, too.

the next day we got up and did it all over again. the kids laughed and waved. mrs. spaceneedl, tired of being mocked, ditched the snowboard in favor of skis. apres-ski, there was an off-course injury incident at the tube park, but by blind luck, it didn't involve either of the little needls.

later, we ate. later still, we slept. the next day, the sun shone again.

on the way home, we ignored the advice from the gps, and took the truck crossing route. the device seemed genuinely disappointed each time we bypassed a recommended turn. "recalculating," she said, inconsolably. we shaved a good hour off our trip.

in the end, no one got hurt, some fun was had, and i progressed significantly, snowboarding-wise. despite numerous falls (which were painful way out of proportion to speed and slope), i'm ready to go back and try again.

next year. maybe.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

you know how to whistle, don't you?

february in canada is supposed to be cold. and snowy. followed by more cold.

conducive to the kind of winter activities picture postcards and fond family memories are made of.

that's why months ago the spaceneedl family booked a fabulous vacation at whistler, one of the top-rated winter resort towns on the planet.

strangely, nothing on the fabulous whistler web site said anything about rain.

the ski forecast for this week, of all weeks, calls for highs near 50, lows in the upper 30s. with rainshowers. does this sound like a winter wonderland? or does it sound more like a big bowl of slush?

now, maybe slush is easier on the body when falling off a snowboard. then again, we may not find out, because rain and boarding don't seem like an ideal combination.

mrs. spaceneedl and i have been to whistler several times over the years, in winter and summer. it was always a great place, regardless of the season, because there was lots to do. ski, skate, golf, roller blade. shop. eat. drink. etcetera. not necessarily in that order.

the key difference between now and then, of course, is the addition of the little spaceneedls. back in the day there was no one saying, "i'm bored!" or, "i don't wanna eat at this restaurant." or, "i wanna go swimming for the fourth time today."

back then we were free to do anything, or nothing, as we saw fit. now we're obliged to be resourceful. which we're capable a point. if the skiing and snowboarding and horse-drawn sleigh rides are off the table, we're going to have lots of hours to fill. if the rain does come, across the three days they're predicting, the tenor of the trip will veer into the nearest slushbank.

the whistler website lists an assortment of traditional winter activities, along with bungee jumping, heli tours, and a zipline thingy. it's highly likely that mrs. spaceneedl would veto any and all of these. probably for good reason.

on the summer page we find "flightseeing," bear viewing, atv tours and the like. count those as a big oh-for on the mrs-meter.

if the run-off from the mountain is horrific enough, maybe we can do some white water rafting on our snowboards. that'd be some good family fun, wouldn't it?

unexpected automotive update: the spaceneedl family truckster went into the shop yesterday for routine maintenance, and was diagnosed with some unexpectedly serious deficiencies. so we'll be driving to canada in the civic. where will we stow the bungee-jumping gear?

upside update: the sun is shining today. in the PNW, that's a vacation in itself.

Saturday, February 09, 2008


for ten years, the spaceneedls languished in a dark political purgatory, surrounded by soulless social conservatives.

then we moved to the pacific northwest, and into the light.

today was caucus saturday in washington state, and the spaceneedl family walked to the polls amongst a horde of like-minded liberals. it was glorious.

the crowd converging on our elementary school was astonishing. boisterous. celebratory. democratic turnout across the state overwhelmed nearly every caucus, surpassing previous records by double and more.

they ran out of sign-in forms, then chairs, then standing room. people packed into every nook and cranny, while children wove in between.

before the vote, everyone agreed that democrats were lucky to have two strong presidential candidates to choose from.

then nearly everyone went for obama.

it wasn't even close.

just the day before, obama supporters packed key arena past capacity, while 3,000 more looked on from outside. it was the largest political rally in state history.

governor chris gregoire officially endorsed the illinois senator earlier in the day, adding her voice to the obama chorus.

today, some clinton supporters played the gender card, saying it was time for a woman, this woman, to be president. what about hillary's, uh, electability problem? nope, doesn't exist, they insisted.

i disagreed, agreeably, but vowed to support hillary, should she get the nomination.

then, to a younger woman wearing a barack button, i said, "but i hope it's him."

it's time to move into the light. all are welcome.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

ow ow ow ow ow

there's never a chiropractor around when you need one.

like now, fer instance.

i traveled to san diego earlier this week, and stayed in a very cool downtown hotel. the sign said courtyard by marriott, but it was completely unlike the sterile, cookie-cutter courtyard by marriott you'd expect. lovingly poured into an old bank building, it was one of the most unhotel-like hotels i've ever seen.

soaring ceilings, original teller windows, huge vault doors, marble was like walking into a time warp, back when banks projected an air of authority and respectability and responsibility instead of fabric panels and laminated teller mats and subprime loans.

here's a meeting room set up in the former safe deposit box vault. it's memorable all by itself, never mind if the door triggered shut automatically and locked everybody in until morning. which it didn't. i'm just saying, is all.

this is all irrelevant preamble to the fact that the pillows in the bed in the unhotel screwed up my neck something awful. i don't know how, i don't know why, but sometime late monday night slash early tuesday morning, my neck and shoulders got in a twist and have stayed there ever since.

i'm too busy at work to get up and go to any kind of appointment. and sitting at a desk in front of a computer all day does not help the situation in the slightest. but do chiropractors have saturday hours? they do not.

someone told me recently that chiropractors are charlatans, or cannibals, or some such perjorative. i understand the ambivalence, as not everyone has a positive experience or outcome with chiropractic. it's worked for me in the past, however, so i'm prepared to grant the practice more latitude than some. i'd rather have my neck cranked around than, say, take pain killers and muscle relaxants that don't come in a bottle filled with fermented grape juice. if you see what i mean, and i think you do.

in the meantime, i'm going to call and set up a massage appointment somewhere. it couldn't hurt.(then again, maybe it could. and maybe that would be a good thing.) this place sounds promising: "the relaxing swedish deep-tissue day spa." the web site features smiling swedish masseuses showing off ms. olympia physiques, and smiling swedish administrative assistants filling out insurance forms and waiving deductibles. everyone goes home happy.

the very thought of it has me feeling better already.