Friday, October 31, 2003

National Park Statistics
In case you were wondering, the 2002 visitation statistics for U.S. National Parks are now available.

The Top 10 Across All Parks (Park, Historic Site, Monument, etc...) are:
1. Blue Ridge Parkway
2. Golden Gate National Recreation Area
3. Gream Smoky Mountains National Park
4. Gateway NRA
5. Lake Mead NRA
6. George Washington Memorial Parkway
7. Natchez Trace Parkway
8. Delaware Water Gap NRA
9. Gulf Islands National Seashore
10. Cape Code NS

Of the 10 on that list, I have been to 4, although not necessarily in 2002.

Strictly by National Park, the Top 10 were:
1. Great Smoky Mountains
2. Grand Canyon
3. Olympic
4. Yosemite
5. Cuyahoga Valley
6. Rocky Mountain
7. Yellowstone
8. Grand Teton
9. Zion
10. Acadia

I've been to 3 of these, although when I visited Cuyahoga Valley, it was still designated as a National Recreation Area.
A Story for Halloween

During a brief conversation with my mom the other day, I found out the house my sister is renting has a story surrounding it. The reason it was available to rent is that the person living there recently died - in the house. The owner asked my sister if she had a problem with that and she asked, "Well, he wasn't murdered, was he?" The answer was no, so she didn't think much else about it. But now they're moved in and have met a few of the neighbors and she asked one of them how the guy died. Turns out he hanged himself in the basement! The basement is unfinished and on one wall is a big "I Love You" in spraypaint, which my sister thinks might have been his suicide note. So now she's totally creeped out whenever she has to do laundry. Doncha think the owner could have atleast painted over the "I Love You" before someone else moved in?

Monday, October 27, 2003

Weekend Update

Mark and I both took off from work on Friday and the three of us had a fall lovely weekend away. We rented a cabin in Luray, Virginia near Shenandoah National Park and the George Washington National Forest. We had gone there back in May, just the two of us, and it rained the entire time we were there. This time we decided to take Hayley with us - she must have been our good luck charm.

We stayed in a different cabin this time and it was very nice. It was a newer cabin with beautiful views of the river and fall leaves, but no hot tub like last time. We hiked three different trails in the National Forest, a hidden gem that's often forgotten in the shadow of Shenandoah and Skyline Drive. The forest is free (!) and the three trails were handicap accessible (re: stroller accessible), which was convenient and easy. Especially since the only handicap-accessible trail in Shenandoah is closed because of tree damage from the hurricane last month.

The Storybook Trail is a short trail that takes you to a breathtaking overview of the valley, the river and the Blue Ridge in the distance. Other than a cold I'm fighting off, it was a fun and relaxing weekend. Pictures will be forthcoming, of course (digital camera forgotten in the hub-bub of leaving).
Hayley was great for the whole trip. It's about a 4-hour drive and she wasa fine in the car, sleeping most of the way home on Sunday. She was also good in every restaurant we went to, entertaining those sitting around us instead of eating. And she even slept well, even though she was in a strange place. However, the time change has her all screwed up - it's probably going to be another sleep-deprived week. She woke up at 5am today after going to bed very early last night. I'm hoping our regular routine of work/sitter gets her back on schedule in a day or two.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

TV Blogging

I just checked the NBC website to see if The West Wing is new or a repeat tonight and here is the summary of tonight's episode (which is new).

The only TV or movie reference they could think of for Gary Cole is "Office Space?" Really? How about his turn as Mike Brady in both of the Brady Bunch movies? Maybe enough people don't remember "Midnight Caller," the TV show that put him on the map? Or my personal favorite, the role of Jeffrey MacDonald in the mini-series "Fatal Vision."

Incidentally, I saw Gary Cole in a commercial for an upcoming episode of "Karen Sisco," (which I'm not going to link to because I don't watch it) and thought, "But he was just cast as the new vice president on The West Wing." It seems like quite a few characters on WW do double-duty on other shows, most notably John Amos, who always seems to have a couple of TV shows going on at the same time. He's had quite a career, if you ask me.

PS - For those of you looking for info about Siegfried and Roy Halloween costumes, you won't find it here. I had two separate entries, one about the Roy incident, and another linking to cool 70s & 80s Halloween costumes, but the two are not related. I can't tell you how many referrals I've had from Google for people searching on those two key words. I can't help you out, but you're free to stay and look around!

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Morning Report

I don't think this sounds like a "Suicide and Falling Fatality," do you? I'm thinking more murder/suicide. I'm going to search around to see if the local/area newspaper has more facts, because I definitely don't think this is the whole story.

This also reminds me that I never linked to a fascinating article on the suicide rate from the Golden Gate Bridge (via Nancy Nall). As a frequent reader of the NPS Morning Report, it immediately made me think of the same allure that our national parks have for people who want to take their own lives. I don't know if there have been any articles written about it, but there should be.

From the NPS Morning Report, October 21, 2003
Canyon De Chelly National Monument (AZ)
Suicide and Falling Fatality at Face Rock Overlook

Ranger Chris Blacksheep came upon a parked vehicle at Face Rock overlook on Spider Rock Road on the morning of Sunday, October 12th. He found the body of a woman in the passenger seat and a note with instructions to notify her daughter. The Navajo Nation Police Department and Apache County Sheriff’s Department were contacted; officers from the latter took the lead in the investigation. When the woman’s daughter was contacted, officers found that she had left her home in Maryland with her husband. A search was begun the next day in the area below the overlook, which is at the edge of a sheer, thousand-foot sandstone cliff. On Tuesday morning, the woman’s husband was found about 400 feet below the rim at the top of a talus stone. A state police helicopter arrived, but could not land in the canyon due to turbulence. The body was subsequently recovered and brought out by vehicle later that afternoon.
[Submitted by Chief Ranger's Office]

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Pumpkin Patch

We took Hayley to the Pumpkin Patch for the first time today - she was too little last year. She got a kick out of riding in the wheelbarrow. It was nice and sunny out, but a little windy. It's so much fun doing these things when you have a little baby.

The not-so-fun thing is the continued sleepless nights. She was up from 2:30-4:00am last night. She slept pretty good Friday night, but woke up very early Saturday morning. In addition to her cold, she's definitely going through some major teething. One molar came in on the bottom and another is breaking through on the top, both on her right side. I assume this means the ones on the left side will soon follow, so this could go on for awhile!

Friday, October 17, 2003


I finally got a good night's sleep last night! I read recently that when learning to walk, babies' sleep cycles are often disrupted. Hayley has certainly been living up to that, combined with the cough she's had for the past week or so. Everyone at daycare has been sick, but so far she's only had the cough - no runny nose, no fever (knock on wood). Wednesday night, she woke up at 2:30am and was wide awake for over an hour until she finally settled down and went back to sleep. For the last two weeks, she's barely been sleeping through the night, waking up frequently when she can't find the pacifier or just having the coughing wake her up. Love those new "Simply" medicines from Tylenol. She's been taking "Simply Cough" at night without any extra medicine in it since she hasn't had a fever. And last night she fussed around 11:30pm (and I was tempted to turn the TV back on to check on the baseball game. Little did I know what I missed - Boston was winning when we went to bed) and that was it. Slept like a baby the rest of the night!

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Classic Halloween Costumes

I haven't seen anything this funny in a long time! I was laughing out loud at my desk at work! (Courtesy of Throwing Things.)

I actually went as a Rubik's Cube for Halloween in the 6th grade, but my costume was much better than a store-bought costume. It was a large box and I cut out arm holes and a hole for my head to go through, then I decorated the outside of the box with colored squares. I was a scrambled cube, not a solved cube. The only downside was that the box was so big, it was hard to hold my treat bag open with two hands. Definitely the most awkward Halloween costume I've ever had!
Weekend Update

Sorry I've been so bad about posting lately. With everything going on around me, you'd think I'd have something interesting to post, but as soon as I get in front of the computer, I'm at a loss.

We spent the weekend enjoying the beautiful Indian summer we're having here. Hayley went to her first big craft show on Sunday - The National Apple Harvest Festival in Arendtsville, PA. It's my favorite craft show of the year and I missed not going last year (since Hayley was only three weeks old and I hadn't even left the house yet.). It was super-crowded since the weather was so perfect for an outdoor event, but we enjoyed it. Hayley did great being in the stroller for such a long time and even took a nap for about an hour.

On the sister front, they have found a place to rent not too far from their old house, so it's still close to work. And it's a rowhouse instead of an apartment, so there's a yard for the dogs. They get the keys tomorrow and will probably move what's left of their stuff this weekend. They've starting looking at both house plans and pre-fab modulars as options for rebuilding.

I could have some news to post this afternoon. I try not to talk about work, but there's supposed to be some big announcements coming at a meeting after lunch, so if it's anything worthwhile, I'll let you know.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Siegfried & Roy

I'm glad Mark isn't the only one who gets Siegfried & Roy confused with Penn & Teller.

Saturday morning, after I had been up since 6am with Hayley and Mark woke up just before 8am:

Me: Roy from Siegfried & Roy was attacked by one of his tigers during a show last night.

Mark: Which one is he? Is he the small one?

Me: I don't know, I think they're both about the same size. He has the darker hair. They'll probably show a clip coming up on the 8 o'clock news.


Mark: That's not who I was thinking of. Who was I thinking of?

Then it finally hit me what he meant by "the smaller one" earlier.
Me: Penn & Teller [plus hysterical laughter].

Mark: What do they do?

Me: They just do magic. They don't work with tigers.

Fascinating conversation at 8am on a Saturday!

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Some Good News, Finally

Well, my sister and brother-in-law made it back from their trip last Monday night and went to see the house first thing Tuesday morning. I talked to her last night and she seems to be handling everything pretty well, considering. They actually found some more of her jewelry, which we had been searching for on Sunday, so that was a spark of hope.

Today, the insurance adjuster came and everything is starting to move forward. He had a copy of the official police report and it was ruled an accident, which is a huge relief. He gave them a small check to get started with to buy food and groceries and such, and when they find an apartment, they can fax him the lease and the insurance company will send a check for the security deposit right away.

What a relief! I'm so glad things seem to be working out and they can start to put all this behind them and rebuild. I'll probably go back down there this weekend to help go through the rest of their stuff. They want to get whatever's left out as soon as possible so they can demolish and start rebuilding. They're anticipating it will take almost a year to complete everything because with close to 4000 houses in Maryland destroyed by the storm, all the contractors will have more work than they ever imagined, so I'm sure every step will require a waiting period. But atleast this is a small step forward.