Friday, March 03, 2006

Escape to Green Mountain, Day 1: The Official Version

Continuing with the chronicles of my recent Colorado road trip with the Book Monkeys. Out of all of the days on the trip, I think that first day was by far the most jam-packed with entertainment and activities. It was also the day I stuffed myself with so much food I could hardly move; I loves me some chili

But I digress.

While 6 AM did indeed come early, the four of us got up and around pretty well. The biggest challenge before heading out was getting the car carrier secured, since the hooks on its straps weren't really compatible with the frame of the Matrix; the straps were eventually tied around the "Oh [Expletive Deleted}" handles, which appeared to be pretty secure.

Appearances can be deceiving.

We stopped at a gas station before leaving town, at which point Rebel Monkey made an interesting purchase; a multicolored frog that lit up when squeezed. As we pulled out of town, Rebel Monkey said we needed to give the frog a name; we proffered a few semi-joking options when suddenly Rose Hips started to clap her hands together, crying out "Ooo, ooo, I've got it! We have to call it Elizabeth!" There was a brief pause before I remarked "Well, it's hard to argue with that much enthusiasm." Rose Hips then explained her reasoning, which I like to think I would have picked up on myself if my Mountain Dew had had time to kick in first.

You see, when sending out a mass email to the group, The Mag accidentally sent an email to Buster's cousin Elizabeth, who replied to the group that she was jealous that we were going to the cabin and not her. Rose Hips replied back that if she wanted, we could print off a picture of her and she could be with us in spirit; the multicolored glowing frog served as her surrogate instead. About halfway there we decided we needed a surrogate for Tin Man as well, but none of our gas station pit stops provided us with anything as worthy as Elizabeth's surrogate.

About an hour into the trip I was distracted from the Amy Tan novel I was reading by a loud flapping noise from the roof. I glanced up and noticed that the strap above Rebel Monkey's head was starting to unwind from the handle. I grabbed for it and suggested that Rose Hips pull over as soon as possible. Rebel Monkey held it in place until we could stop and get it retied; there was no more slippage after that, and after further tightening at our next stop the noise above lessened greatly.

We took a small detour to Optima Lake, a man-made lake near Guymon that never managed to fill up. By turning at the lovely intersection of Mile 46 and Road W, we were able to see the scenic marvel Rebel Monkey dubbed Random Rock; an abandoned restroom which Rebel Monkey felt compelled to explore, only to exit quickly saying that she feared it was going to suck out her soul; and the oh-so-effective boat ramp which lead straight down to desiccated land. Honestly, a more desolate landscape I doubt I've ever seen.

A few of the other trip highlights:

  • The ability of The Mag to determine what food items had been opened in the back seat from smell alone, which earned her the nickname Sniffmeister J.
  • Our strange fascination with the rows and rows of ginormous windmills
  • The Mag accusing Rebel Monkey of digging through the trash to discover candy wrappers, followed by Rebel Monkey’s denial, which led to Rose Hips saying that in the Official Version, Rebel Monkey did indeed dig through the trash; debates about what items would make it into the Official Version would continue throughout the trip.
  • Discovering that Sniffmeister J’s powers were possibly tied to her seat, as Rebel Monkey displayed similar abilities when we rotated positions later.
  • Rebel Monkey, dressed in monkey shirt and monkey pants, put on monkey gloves and made them do the monkey dance; the monkey dance had the unfortunate side effect of serving as a Trigger for “The Safety Dance.”

On the whole, the drive up to Colorado went by surprisingly quickly for me; we were in view of mountains before I knew it. Rebel Monkey was the first to spot them, but The Mag quickly pointed out a mountain on the opposite side of the car; actually, she became quite possessive of it, referring to it as "her" mountain. Since it kept peeking in and out from behind the intervening scenery, I dubbed it Mt. Bashful. Once Mt. Bashful was in sight, The Mag started periodically asking Rose Hips what the temperature was outside; for an uncannily long time, it was stable at 66 degrees. After the temperature rose following a quip at Rose's expense, I cried "She's a weather witch! Stop antagonizing her!" You might think that's a bit of a stretch, but all I can say is this: after stopping at McDonalds to get Rose Hips an ice cream cone, the temperature almost immediately began to fall. Coincidence? You be the judge.

Now, although the trip had gone by pretty quickly, we still had been cooped up in the car for many, many hours, and had subsequently gotten a bit loopy; when Rebel Monkey made a comment about seeing chipmunks the last time she was up there, The Mag broke into her impression of the Chipmunks' version of "Love Shack." I opined that we were all giddy because the air was thinner; Rebel Monkey responded that her patience was thinner as well.

It wasn’t much longer after that when we finally arrived at The Berry Patch. Bunny and Buster had gotten there the night before, and had spent the day skiing; although The Mag, Rose Hips, and I had all talked about skiing as well, we all decided against it. For my part, I knew that I’d only have two days of non-travel time, and I didn’t want to spend one of those trying to learn how to ski; if I’d had at least one more day of possible relaxation, I might have gone ahead, but it’s a moot point now. Anyway, by the time we got to the cabin, a very very tasty batch of chili (derived from Fellow Book Monkey and Blogger Bubblegum Tate’s recipe) was waiting for us. Also waiting for us was Buster’s brother, sister-in-law, and nieces from Denver; one of the highlights of the trip for me was watching Buster play hide-and-go-seek with the older of his nieces. At one point he sat in a recliner and covered himself in a blanket; his niece ran past him about ten times, totally oblivious, while the rest of us were dying laughing, with her mom lamenting “Oh, honey, you suck at this game.”

We watched some of the Olympics; it was the evening of the ice skating champs’ special performances, which struck most of as borderline ice porn. After Buster’s brother and family headed off to the neighboring little cabin with the kids for the night, the rest of us played a game of Shadows Over Camelot; once again, the forces of good prevailed. Then The Mag set up the PS2 to demonstrate the workout game. The camera had a hard time discerning movement in one particular corner, but was more than able to pick up Buster lounging on the couch behind The Mag; after realizing his movements were destroying targets, he started kicking furiously at the left side of the screen while The Mag cleared the right, still telling Claudia Black to shut up the whole time. While Buster was taking his turn playing on his own, Bunny, Rebel Monkey, and I started a round of a card game which was a mainstay in the Parker days, and which I have known by many names, including Egyptian War and Rapture, but which the cabin crew called E.R.S. If you’re not familiar with the game, I’ll just say this: it’s kind of like War, only there’s lots of slapping involved. In fact, before our first game was over, I had to switch slapping hands because I had bruised my thumb so badly from hitting the table. I won the first game, even with Buster coming over and slapping himself in, but when we started a second game using two decks of cards, Bunny suddenly unveiled her super-psychic E.R.S. powers; she collected so many cards so quickly we started referring to her as Big Deck. Nice bit of synchronicity: just as we were all cursing Bunny’s domination, the CD player segued into Erasure’s “I Love to Hate You.”

The game of E.R.S. (which lasted until about 2 in the morning) is one of those things that I can’t adequately put into words; maybe it was the lack of sleep, maybe it was the hours trapped in a car, maybe it was the thin air, or maybe it was just the fact that I was hanging out with friends I hadn’t seen in almost a year; whatever the reason, I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard for so long. In a way, I think that game served as a sort of mental release for me; I’ve been pretty stressed out recently due to some non-bloggable issues, and really needed a way to unwind. That first day enabled me to blow off steam, get into full-on vacation mode, so I could truly enjoy the next couple of days of lounging around the cabin.

That’s the Official Version, anyway


Cap'n Cluck said...

Monkey Dance!