Nicole
July 15 - Par-tay. Of course, we bought too much food, the guy came up wearing sombreros, we killed Rico the piñata, had waterfights via tiny squirtguns, drank plenty of booze, and in short, got my dad utterly wasted to the point that he was in bad shape the next morning. I didn't get wasted because we ran out of margarita goodness...that and I was running around as the cook and burned my hand on the oven sober so drunk would have been a bad thing. It was freakin' hot too.

July 16-19 - Mom and dad head off the Penn State to check things out. I am left here with Ashley and we go shopping, see Pirates of the Caribbean (yeah, that's right, I saw it again, bitches), and in general laze around. I exchanged my Angels & Demons book while we were out too, so now I can finish that. We also got the soundtrack to Pirates (which I highly recommend, but then again, I'm a soundtrack freak); worth every penny.

July 20-present - That morning it was raining. I don't know how it was in other parts of the state, but here it was just basically the sky vomiting down on everything. I woke up thinking, "We shouldn't go today...we shouldn't go west. This is a bad omen. This isn't right." Of course, I convince myself that once I get out there everthing will be okay, blah blah blah.

Boy am I an idiot. Why do I never listen to myself? But hey, I wanted to go to Colorado dammit.

The plan was to leave that day around 6am and get to Gothenburg, Nebraska that evening. Uh huh. Sure. The Penn State thing threw a wrench into just about everything. Dad's already sick of driving, and he's uber tired, and we still have to pack the car, he has to get his junk together, though I put as much as possible together the day before. We didn't leave until about 4:30pm. Not the best time to leave. We drive until around 1am and find a place at 1:30 to stay. We head out the next day, still far from our destination, which we eventually reach around 5ish. It's a Friday, and for some reason this year, the place is packed with people coming out like us, or people from Colorado just out for a weekend of camping. There is nowhere to camp. Literally - all the campsites are full, tents, trailers, RVs, everything everywhere. It's bonkers. All the hotels are full, "No Vacancy" signs everywhere you look. We head out to another town about 12 miles away. "No Vacancy." More. Finally we find a place for $108 and drop it. Our plan; to go out early the next morning and snatch the first open tent site we see.

8am and we're tooling around Timber Creek in circles, looking for anyone who might be packing up. Eventually we vulture around a Missouri couple and stake our claim there. Dad is in not so great shape. Headaches galore. We amuse ourselves for the few days until the 24th when we are to head out again into the mountains, packs on our back, etc. So far, aside from simply being in Colorado, the highlight of the trip for me has been happily petting a forest ranger's horse. As agitated as he was, he seemed to enjoy my company.

Ready to go, we hike up 3 miles to a site called Twinberry and put up the tent. Dad made the mistake of asking for rain the day before, because as we're hanging the food (gotta hang it from a snagged tree in a spot where bears can't climb up and get it), it starts to rain. Then it gets harder. I notice the clouds and can tell that if we just hide out under the trees long enough, it will break for a period of time long enough for us to go get our rain gear and not get wet in doing so. Dad is impatient, so I run and get it. Sure enough, the rain soon stops, but it's too late, we're already wet, but at least we've got our gear so when it starts up again we won't get more wet. It's cloudy the rest of the day, breaks long enough for stuff to dry out, us to have dinner, and then for me to play around while dad hangs around in the tent, trying to cool off and wish his headache away.

The next day we wake up around 6ish to the pitter-patter of rain. I recall the day before when it did the same thing and then cleared up. Dad is in bad shape. I ask if he wants to go down today. "Yes." So we pack up when the rain stops. The weather wasn't the issue, because it was clear of rain (though still cloudy) all the way down the path. It was the altitude. Dad can't handle 10,000 feet anymore. He's always been able to sense it. I'm sure some of you would too, but for some reason I never notice it. Sure, I can breathe in and tell the air is thinner, but other than the annoyance of ear poppage, I don't notice any difference between this patch of land in Illinois and that patch of Colorado 2 miles above sea level.

The mosquitos are thick this year for some reason and are chewing me up, but I doubt they'd be around in our other tentsite, since it's much higher up, but I'll never know. Skipping ahead, we get to the car, pack our junk up, and head out of Colorado back to lower altitudes. I'm trying not to be all mopey, but it was really hard not to. I didn't blame dad at all, I mean, a person can't help it if the altitude doesn't agree with them. There aren't any pills for that. The only cure is to go down, and if you don't, you really could get into big trouble, or die. I was just irritated that after all that nonsense, we were going home already. There was no backup plan, the Penn State screwed up the timing, dad, and other things. I wasn't even really all that mad at that. I was mostly bummed that I was leaving Colorado so soon. God knows when I'll get to go back. For a while dad was trying to be nice and make it up to me in various ways, and I was giving him all I could in the ways of peppiness, but I was really to the point where you think, "Please, just stop trying to cheer me up because it's really not working and just making me more irritated. Leave me in my despair for a while - I'll come out of it on my own."

I was better listening to music you listen to when you're totally pissed off, driving through a storm with a decent helping of lightening, and later on when we found a place to stay (by then my head felt like it had something unpleasant trying to escape from it...go figure) with an indoor pool. I swam around for a while, exhausting myself and working off pent up energy that was meant for the hike and frustration that had built up from being unable to use it.

We drove all the way from North Platte, Nebraska to Rantoul yesterday. I really wish there was some kind of cancellation button (or maybe a "Fuck This" button) you could press in those types of situations and just *poof!* be back here again without the hassel of the downhike and drive back. So now I'm sitting here after checking my hundreds of email messages in my pjs still and wondering what to do next (after the next blog entry).

At the very least, I got a lot of writing done...

The Kraken!