Sunday, October 17, 2010

Zipper Virgins

     Ah, fall has finally arrived. As Mother Nature eases mankind into this beautiful season Ruby J and I are packing our bags for a Wimberley, Texas ziplining trip. I know you are thinking, WHAT? What are two middle-aged women (who believe they are still 17) thinking? Are the insurance policies up-to-date? Do they have a death wish? Ziplining, really? Well, it’s on our list of things we want to do, so after months of research and locating the perfect spot (that promises lots of shopping opportunities also) we make our reservations.

     The planning stage is where the thrill begins. We watch videos of ziplining locations across the country looking for the perfect spot. The Wimberley Zipline Tours caption screams, “Prepare for high flying fun as you glide through the air on the most exciting Ziplines in Texas.” Excitement mixed with adrenalin causes me to pause for a moment of silence seeing my life pass before me before I hit the “send” button. Ah, it’s done. We are really going to do this crazy thing. Just as I relax and start visualizing the freedom of zipping through the air, flying over canyons, passing streams and gorges, breathing fresh mountain air, Ruby J starts sending me “death” ziplining horror videos. GREAT, just great!

     Hum, something tells me she may not be totally committed to this venture. However, if she were truly “out” I know she would say something, but come on, she has walked all over a flea market with me wearing an umbrella hat. As the days get nearer, we text each other back and forth counting down until it’s finally here. Bags packed (trunk and back seat full) we put the top down on Hepburn and head south on IH35. We made plans to stop in Hillsboro to have lunch at Mimi and Papa’s. These are old friends, near and dear to our hearts. There is nothing better than a good meal, talking about old times and getting hugs from people who feel more like family than friends. Until we meet again, Mimi offers an old saying making me smile as we jump in the car and continue on our dare devil girl trip.
     Cursing down IH35 even the wind whipping past us doesn’t cause us to miss a beat in conversation. We have our hair tucked up in our trusty 9-1-1 baseball caps (in case we get pulled over), sunglasses and ice tea. Before you know it we are in Round Rock and pull in to shop for unfound treasures. We strike big at the shops and realize we will be hitting Austin at rush hour traffic. No fear….WE ARE ON VACATION!!!! Turning off the highway in San Marcos we make a pit stop then jump on the two lane country roads, following Hepburn as she guides us all the way to the front door of our country abode. “You have arrived,” she says confidently.

     Unpacked, we can’t believe how beautiful the place is; we have all the comforts of home and don’t even have to share a bed….yeah! It’s late, there is a cool breeze drifting through the windows and we have a nice spread of cheese, olives, crackers, fruit and pastry cream horns stuffed with icing. Life is good. Tomorrow is a shopping day and we have mapped out every shop in town. For now, we need our beauty rest to withstand the temptations of items that will surely want to go home with us.

     We hit the shops early and after shopping we decided we literally walked 8 hours today. This will help me with my fitness pal entries, because I did not stick to my diet. Let’s see 8 hours times a zillion equals hum, I can eat all I want for two years and never gain a pound. Cool. See, shopping is healthy. One of the best places we found today was a little shop called Climb On. It was like a candy store of natural beauty products. Heaven! They had me at “pure”. I think we bought one of everything in the store then made sure we were on their email list, phone list, FaceBook and Twitter. We could not wait to get back to the casa and try the purest of pure. I could tell Ruby J looked 15 years younger just standing in the store holding the stuff.

     With our dogs barking, it was nice to kick off those flip flops and get in our PJ’s. Dinner tonight is a smorgasbord of goat cheeses, crab, sauces and avocado; by the way, did I say we had fresh baked pie from the Wimberley Pie Company? Still that didn’t help our nerves as we talk about tomorrow – D- day. With the lights off I start to sink into slumber when I hear Ruby J praying:

Oh Lord, won't you bring me some lightening and rain?
My friend wants to go ziplining, she must be insane.
Worked hard all my lifetime, now broken bones are my pain,
So Lord, won't you bring me some lightening and rain?

Oh Lord, won't you give me a helping hand?
My friends mid life crazy her heads in the sand.
I wait for a sign each day Lord as dementia sets in.
So oh Lord, won't you give me a helping hand?

Oh Lord, won't you buy me some silver jewelry?
I'm counting on you, Lord, please don't let me down.
Prove that you love me and buy the next round,
Oh Lord, won't you buy me some silver jewelry?



     Morning comes with the most beautiful sun rise, clear skies and crisp air. We watch a small herd of deer outside our window as we enjoy coffee and cream horns. Dressing quietly we gather our gear then head out early not realizing we are only about 10 minutes away from the site. I use the excuse I didn't want to get caught in the Wimberley morning rush hour traffic….it’s 9:30 and there’s not a car on the road. Parked, we slowly get out, recheck our gear and walk to the welcome center. We do the usual meet and greet as our guides help us put on harnesses, helmets and gloves. There are 10 of us dare devils. Two sets of old friends and three couples celebrating their anniversaries. The guides start giving us the do/do not speech. “Fingers cut off,” got my attention real quick. Taking in all the instructions we are admitted to flight school. Of course, we passed with flying colors. I mean it was only two feet off the ground. I’d have felt bad if we failed. Giddy we talk back and forth as our nerves get the best of us, when the guide hollers for us to load up in the back of the truck. We all scrunch in as the driver begins to climb the mountain and I notice I’m griping the rail with an iron claw.

     At the first plateau, we gather as a group (yes we had to hike up Mount Everest). The guides talk about the history of the land and terrain. Then it’s up another mountain as we reach our first zip line. It’s called the Bunny Run. Ruby J is third in line and I’m directly behind her. Fear quickly diminished after we zipped like pro’s and made it to the bottom without even a scratch. WooHoo, let’s do it again! Fashionesta zippers! Ruby points out how good we look in harnesses and helmets. We could have blended in with construction workers or well diggers easily. I might get Ruby J a construction belt for Christmas this year. Pink of course. I could always glue a tiara on the helmet to add a touch of bling.

     Zip one, zip two, zip three….let me go first, zip four, zip five….love it, love it…zip six, zip seven, and sadly zip eight. No, we want more; give us more, can we work here? Let’s do it again. How can it be over, we just got here? If we walk very slowly maybe they will think we are with that next group and we can go again. Ah, I don’t wanna go (foot stomping).

     Super psyched on adrenalin we say our goodbyes and realize we are starving. A late lunch at Lucy and Ethel’s was just the right fit for the day. Still energized we drive to Dripping Springs, just to see if treasures there might be trying to find us, but no, we were already spoiled by Wimberley’s gracious hospitality so we head back to town. But wait, oh my, we see a store we missed yesterday and must stop in. We find the perfect gift for our dwelling host, buy some local wine then are ready to have dinner and turn in for the day. Our last eatery is Milagros Hill County Tex Mex. It’s a good thing we got their early, because when we left, the line was out the door. As our energy winds down, we know this is our last night before we pack up and head home. We spend what’s left of the day reminiscing about how we overcame our fears of ziplining and start planning our next adventure.

     We wake early and on the 10 hour drive home we never stop talking about our adventure, past adventures, future adventures and as always about old friends and times gone by. Another goal marked off our list and another story to remember always.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Lake Murray or No Room to Breath

Remember when 100 people would pile in a Volkswagen Beetle and all you saw were faces, feet, hands and butts smashed up against the windows? That’s how Ruby J, Raquel, Loretta and I looked piled in Loretta’s mustang with enough luggage, food and makeup to sustain a small country of high maintenance divas for a month. Food aside, we really do need to look good when we get to our cabin at Lake Murray, Oklahoma. As we cuss and discuss what has to go, we weigh our options. First, we really need clothes, and yes clothes are highly overrated when you have the body of a Roman Goddess! However, it is the chilly season, and even a Roman Goddess gets goose pumps-not pretty. Second, as beautiful as we are (breath-taking in fact) not even I want to see this face without "Mary Kay" doing her magic all over the place. So, food it is, after all we can always find a grocery store in Oklahoma. WooHoo, we have overcome our first obstacle, food is out, and necessities are in.

The grocery bag of food is left at Loretta's house and in its place is Ruby J's makeup Caboodle. Ruby and I offer to take the back seat and make room for the Caboodle between us, leaving only 10 inches on each side for us to sit. Moving the passenger seat forward as far as it will go, it takes both of us to lift it to the back seat and place it on the hump. Holding it in place we each slide into the sardine can seat, our knees plastered up against the front seats while our head supports the pillows stuffed against the back windshield. I say a prayer, "Please don't need to pee as we make our 100 mile drive to the cabin, amen."

The drive went fast, with several conversations going on at once. Ruby and I might be talking then interject into Loretta's and Raquel's conversation, or we might all be talking at the same time about several different topics. None the less, good conversation and company made a fast trip to Lake Murray State Park. Turning off IH35 towards the lake we get a renewed surge of energy, knowing we are there. At the marina, Loretta picks up our keys and we are off to search for our weekend hide-away cabin. There is it, a quaint adobe structure. Looking at it from the outside I wonder how they put a living room, bedroom, bath and kitchen in a 12x12 space with a fireplace no less. Beautiful, gorgeous, wish you were here!

Unloading the car would be easier if we could actually get out of it. Sitting for so long without being able to move or readjust can be quite painful. Neighboring vacationers begin to stare as we make animal moans and cries (non sexual in nature) in an attempt to unravel the pretzel we've become. Inching out of the car my body looks like an old woman, bent, crippled, hunched, as my spine protests and I wonder if I’ll ever stand straight again. "Stop whining," Loretta hollers, “grab a bag; we’ve gotta get food!" Unloading our valuables we each find our place in the hovel. Ruby J and I take the sofa bed and search for the sheets and blankets we brought. The cabin is bare bones; you bring your bling, which includes all linens, kitchen stuff and toiletries. There is no television, clocks, phones or radios. It does however, have water and electricity. So this is what they mean when they say we are roughing it.

With a plethora of food items and drink, we watch the sunset and share a meal. Raquel tells us stories about her trips up north to a "spirit house" she visits often and psychic phenomenon’s she’s experienced. We sit in awe for hours listening as the hair on the back of our necks refuses to lie down. Raquel talks about her guardian angel and how spirits follow her around. Sometimes they are so loud she has to tell them to be quite. She said with an excited expression, “There are here with us on this trip, wanting to be a part of our adventure.” "Ah, no! I don't remember extending the invitation to anyone but the four of us," I said. As Raquel continues to tell stories, Ruby motions me to the kitchen. As soon as we squeeze into the closet size room, the air begins to get thicker and thicker. Ruby totally forgets why she summoned me there. Our eyes meet and it's as if we can't talk but know what each other is thinking. Our bodies feel like we are moving in slow motion as we try to get back to the living room miles away. As soon as we make it through the door (simultaneously) the air clears. We jump on the couch and Raquel asks if we heard them. "Heard who," Loretta asks? "The spirits in the kitchen, they were all around the two of you jabbering unintelligible messages to Ruby, they called you in there. That’s why you went, right," questioned Raquel?

Ruby pulled her feet up on the couch and with a quivering voice says, "I, we, kitchen, couldn't breathe, thick, felt trapped, hard to move (breath, breath, breath), oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, that was them, spirits, I think one touched me, (rabid breathing) are they here now, what was that, did you feel that? Raquel grabs her hand, and motions to the kitchen, "Ruby, there are several here, right now they are in the kitchen, they wanted you to know they are here and want to talk to you, but you must relax to communicate with them." Ruby blurted, "I didn't invite them, why do they want to talk to me, are they gonna be here all night?" I'm just sitting in the corner of the couch frozen, wishing I was in the sardine can backseat with the doors locked headed south on IH35. Raquel tells us her guardian angel and spirit friends talk to her all the time. Understanding them is the key. They speak so very fast you have to relax your hearing so much so, that you slow them down, then and only then will you be able to communicate with them. "Hum, yeah, no I don't think there will be any spirit communicating for me," Ruby say adamantly. "Oh, believe me, there are time's I have to tell them to leave, sometimes the room is so full with their presence I can hardly breath,” expressed Rachel. Ruby J looks over at me and we both have goose bumps.

Loretta suggests we take a break and build a fire, so we stock the fireplace and gather around. It's a hollowed out Aztec adobe style fireplace and other than not being able to find the flue we were set. Loretta and I try to look up through the stack, but can't find the lever so we figure it must not have one. At first the fire appeared to be cooperating, a little flame was taking off and gradually getting bigger. Ruby J noticed a little smoke in the air but thought we stacked it with too much wood. She walked outside to see if it was billowing out the chimney stack and runs in when she sees nothing. By this time the whole cabin is filled with smoke and we are running back and forth to the kitchen getting water to douse the flames. That is everyone except Ruby J; she isn’t stepping foot back in that kitchen. The windows (2) won't open so Raquel has the door open fanning the smoke out. Ruby J, Loretta and I take turns helping for what seemed like hours until we could breathe through the haze and return to our abode. Raquel exclaims, "Time for another bottle of wine ladies, we battled the fire and the spirits have left." Spirits or no spirits, Ruby J never entered the kitchen again.

As we prepare for bed, Raquel tells us she brought her "past life regressions" techniques book with her if we wanted to try it. Of course, Ruby and I were like hell yes...what’s that? Raquel explains how she would place us in a meditative type trance then she asks us questions such as, look at your feet. This gives her a reference of the time period and terrain, are you wearing shoes, if so, what do they look like, what color are your feet, how big are your feet, etc. From there she asks your name and can you find a calendar or maybe a newspaper, are you in school, what grade, what does your home look like. She asks questions to determine who you are, the year or century, location, surroundings and your age. She progresses forward in increments of 2-5 years. If she moves five years forward and you don't respond or say you see black, she moves back a year. The goal is to find out how long you lived in the time period.

I lie on our sofa bed as Raquel takes me down, slowly transcending into a meditative state. She begins by asking me if I can see my feet, I respond with "yes". The questions begin: Are you wearing shoes? "No, I answer." What color are your feet? "Black." Do you live in a house? "It's like a shack, dirt floors, bed." Can you find a calendar and read me the date? "No, I can't read." Are you poor? "Yes, very poor." Do you live with your parents? "Mother, don't know my father." Does your mother work? "Yes, very hard in the fields."

Raquel continues: I want you to move forward five years, what do you see? "Black." I want you to move backward a year, what do you see? "I'm running again, they are chasing me, they have guns, dogs, but I have to get away. I'm tired, getting weaker, can't run anymore, they've found me, stop beating me." I want you to move forward 4 1/2 years what do you see? "Black." I will count to five backwards, when I get to one, you will awaken, feeling refreshed, safe, unafraid, 5-4-3-2-1.

As I awaken, I remember the whole experience. Raquel refers to her book and translates what she believes to be the scene. She relayed, I was a slave child possibly in the early 1800's whose mother was bought and owned by a plantation Master. She worked in the fields. I sounded like a rebellious child who had tried to escape several time. The last attempt ended in death at about 14 years of age.

I'm listening, but wondering, did she really pull that from me or did I make it up. I would like to think if I made it up I would have been a princess in a tall castle saved by a handsome prince who slew dragons and brought me precious jewels (and shoes). I would like to recall living a fairytale life instead of a slave child killed by the master. How depressing. Ruby's like, “I think I'll pass, we'd probably find out I was the town drunk who got run over by a train or something like that. “

The whole experience has exhausted Raquel and she excuses herself to bed, Loretta soon follows and Ruby J and I quietly crawl into our sofa bed. For a few minutes we are quite, then Ruby says, "If you get up to go to the bathroom, I'm going with you, (pause) promise you won't leave me here by myself." "It's a promise girlfriend, it's a promise, wanna go sleep in the car?" "No, but if one of those spirits touches me I'm walking home." "I'm with you all the way!"