Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ice Bucket Challenge

I was challenged to the ALS ice bucket challenge. I chose the option to donate rather than pour ice on my head. However, I'm a rule breaker, and chose to donate to the American Diabetes Association rather than to ALS. Diabetes is a disease that has affected myself as well as several people that I'm close to.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I'm Not Handy

Most of you probably know that we own a rental property in Orem.  Over the past year we've been doing some renovations in the basement.  When I say, "we've been doing some renovations"  what I really mean is, "we've been paying some people to do some renovations."

Here's the thing.  I'm not handy.  Not at all.

I can perform basic maintenance.  I can change a light bulb.  (But don't expect me to go to the store and buy new light bulbs if we run out.  That's much too difficult.)  I can mow the lawn.  I'm pretty good with electronics, so I can deal with problems that come up with computers or other devices.

But let's not kid ourselves.  I'm not handy.  Renovating a basement and making it cute is something beyond my abilities.  (We had several people say the finished product was cute when we showed it to potential renters.  Please note: all of the people who said that were female.)

We hired my friend Cameron to do most of the heavy work.  He repaired some shelves.  He added sound proofing to the ceiling.  He painted.  He installed a new sink.  He put a fancy back splash in the kitchen.  He performed various other miracles which I can't currently think of.

The one thing he said that he didn't do was install flooring.  He did rip out the old carpets for us, but that left us to do the flooring ourselves.  We had a temporary delusion.  We thought to ourselves, "We're totally handy!  We can totally do this!"  If you ever hear us saying something like that again, please remind us that it is a lie.

The first step was to tear up the existing linoleum.  The good news is that I am handy enough to destroy stuff.

Robyn also rocks at destroying stuff.
After we tore up the linoleum, that's when the hard part came.  (By hard part, I mean the part where you have to do stuff without destroying anything.)  We bought some vinyl that looks like hard wood, and totally began installing it.

Robyn's brother came over and gave us some training on installing flooring.  He even helped us for a few hours.  He's kind of a saint.

Look how cute Robyn is, laying the first couple tiles.

After he left, we worked on it for several more hours on our own.   After we had put a good 20-25 man hours into the project, we realized we were not even done with the first room.  There was still a hallway and a bedroom to go.

That's when I knew in my heart that we needed to give up.  I'm pretty sure the 20 hours we collectively spent doing half of a room saved the contractor like an hour.  So that pretty much means that we were saving ourselves about 2 dollars an hour by doing the work on our own.  It just didn't make sense for us to do it.

So we called a contractor who came to do it for us.

When he walked in he asked me who had started it, and why didn't they finish?  I told him that we had started and then came to the reality that we were not handy.  He said our work looked good.  So I guess that's the good news.  We take forever to do it, but what we accomplish is quality work.

He knocked it out in a couple days.  Now I can officially take credit for all the work that we paid to have done.

The family room with the snazzy new flooring

The hallway and stairs

The kitchen with the cool new back splash and new appliances.

One of the bedrooms, freshly painted with new flooring.

Another bedroom, freshly painted, shelves fixed, new flooring.
As you can see, my money was hard at work making it awesome.

Do you want to know the best part?  Now someone lives there and they are slowly paying back all the money we spent.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Teacher Husband Duties

I'm married to a teacher.

Being married to her is pretty fabulous.  Of course, I think that's because she's fabulous, and not necessarily because she's a teacher.

However, I certainly do not mind being married to a teacher.  Even though it does come with its own share of duties.

I will admit that there are not very many teacher husband duties.  One is simple.  She gives the kids folders every year to keep all of their stuff in.  The folders are laminated, and I cut them out of the giant strip of laminated plastic.  That's a fairly easy duty.

This is an action shot of me cutting out the folders.  Don't you feel like you're there?

Another duty is that once a year I come meet the kids.  On the day that I come, Robyn tells the kids that if they're really good they get to meet Mr. Stockett.  (I'm still offended that they call me Mister.  I don't feel old enough to be a Mister.)  The kids are super quiet and super obedient that day.  Then when I come in, a hush falls over the room and a few of them give each other awed whispers, "It's Mr. Stockett."  "It's really him."  My presence is such a treat for them that it provides great motivation.  That's a fairly easy duty.

When they're good, she writes a letter.  When they're bad, she erases one.  When it spells "Mr. Stockett", then they receive the greatest treat of their lives.

There's one duty I really don't like.  I get sick at the end of August every year.  Robyn goes to school at the beginning of the year and each year there is a whole new assortment of diseases.  She brings them all home, and I select one or two that I will internalize that year.  I hate that duty.

"Look what followed me home from school today."

This year, on the morning of the first day of school, I woke up with a sore throat.  Robyn claims that I can't blame this one on her because her students haven't started school yet.

However, I still feel it is her fault.  Here are my counter arguments.

1.  She's been going to the school for over a week to get her classroom all set up.  Clearly the school is a place filled with disease.

2.  She's already met several of her students.  They may not have attended class, but they've come to meet their teacher and introduce her to some biological warfare that they brewed up over the summer.

Some of you are going to say that getting sick at the same time every year may actually be allergies.  I have 2 arguments to address that.

1.  I didn't have an annual illness before I was married.  However, I have gotten sick at the beginning of every school year without fail since marrying Robyn.  I recognize that it's possible to develop allergies later in life, but that just seems a bit of a coincidence doesn't it?

2.  My annual illness doesn't have consistent symptoms.  This year, I have a runny nose and sore throat.  This year's symptoms could possibly be allergies.  However, other years have included throwing up and other even less palatable symptoms that are typically not associated with allergies.

As you can see, my case is solid.  Clearly, I still blame the students.  Nothing will deter me.

It's totally their fault.  Right?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Silver Lake

Remember back in April, when I took Robyn on an adventure where she had to hike in several feet of snow?

Our original destination at that time was Silver Lake.  We didn't make it because the road was closed and the snow was much too treacherous anyway.  On that occasion we hiked to the trail head for the Silver Lake hike, but we had a picnic in the parking lot, on the top of a picnic table that was barely peeking above the snow.

On Saturday, we decided to do the Silver Lake hike, and actually get there.

I'm not gonna lie.  I felt safer on the dirt road when we were hiking through a foot of snow.  The number of stupid drivers that came zipping around blind corners, trying to push our car off the edge of a cliff was just a little too high for me.

Nonetheless, our trusty Subaru got us to the trail head safely.

The hike is 2 miles up, and climbs about 1700 feet.  There were some pretty steep spots, but we powered through and made it.  I love doing stuff like that, and realizing how impossible it would have been just a year and a half ago.

Here are a few pictures from our little adventure.

Selfies are an important part of hiking.  This is a selfie with the view looking down on where we had hiked.

The same view, without my face blocking it.

Look at that cute little hiker!

It was a really pretty lake.
We had a great experience, although I will say it was more serene when we were the only ones in the wilderness during the winter.  Oh well, I suppose we can share beautiful nature with other people.  We saw a lot of hikers on the trail. But when we got to the lake, there were only like 10 other people there so sharing a lake with 10 people certainly isn't the end of the world.  (Perhaps I should learn to get better at sharing.)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Pondering Depression

You'll have to forgive me.  This post is a bit of rambling, but I was just thinking about some things and needed to write them down.

There's been a lot of talk about Robin Williams and suicide over the past few days.  There's been a lot of talk about depression and mental illness.

I will be the first to say that I don't comprehend mental illness.  I've had plenty of problems in my life, but one thing I've been blessed with is the ability to control my thoughts, my demeanor and my mood.  It's hard for me to understand a problem that exists in your mind but that can't be fixed by your mind.

I think that's what makes the suicide of Robin Williams so troubling.  He had all of the things that we traditionally think of as bringing happiness.  He had a family that loved him.  He was surrounded by people that adored him.  He had a sense of humor, and the ability to bring laughter and joy to those around him.

He even had plenty of the things that we all like to say don't bring happiness but most of us seek for anyway.  He had wealth.  He had financial security.  He had life experiences.  He had seen many different parts of the world.  He had met thousands of people, fraternizing with the wealthy and the influential.

In short, he had everything.  But he couldn't stop the hurting.

When I look at my life, I feel like I am very blessed.  I have an amazing wife that I adore.  I have a family that loves me.  I have a beautiful home.  I have the ability to travel, and have amazing life experiences.  I'm in the best health of my life.  I'm financially secure.  I have awesome friends.

But do those things make me happy?

I guess I'm just pondering what it is that makes me happy.  I try to look at my life and show gratitude to my Heavenly Father for all the blessings He's given me.  But I don't think I've ever stopped to thank Him for the ability to be happy.  I haven't thanked Him for the ability to chase out the demons that haunt my own head.

The past couple years have had some rough spots for me.  Between being diagnosed with diabetes, and finding out that we couldn't have children, I definitely shed a few tears.  But I've always had the ability to see a ray of hope, to see the silver lining, to feel joy despite my circumstances.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm grateful for that ability.  I'm grateful for joy.  I'm grateful for happiness.

I'm sorry for those who hurt, and can't figure out why.  I'm sorry for those who can't see a way out.  If you're hurting, I send you my love.  I can't fix it.  But know that if I could heal the hurt I would.  If I could give you a cup of my joy, I would.

I don't have anything helpful to say.  But there are plenty of people smarter than me who can say the helpful things.  I just want to say that I hurt for you if you have any form of depression.  I care about you, and I'm sorry that you hurt.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Hugo Award Voting 2014

Have I mentioned that I love science fiction?  If I haven't, then that's extremely embarrassing, because I love it.  I decided last year to participate in the voting process for the Hugo awards (an award given to science fiction and fantasy where most categories deal with literature, but there are movies and a few other categories as well.)  I had so much fun last year that I decided to do it again this year.  It took a lot of reading to familiarize myself with all of the nominees, but it was totally worth it.

With the Hugo, you don't just vote for your favorite, you rank them in order.  There is some really fancy software that runs to tally the votes based on the rankings given.  I think it's a way better system than just voting for one.  I think the United States could learn from this system so that third party candidates wouldn't end up hurting the candidate they are most similar too.  But that's a totally different issue.

Here are my votes in each category.  Starting with the most important which is the novel category.

Edit:  Since they have now announced the winners, I went back and bolded the winners.  My votes still remain unchanged.

Best Novel
I really, really, really liked Parasite.  It's a zombie novel, it's a medical thriller, but mostly it's just a good sci-fi read.  It was the easy choice for first for me.

I have to admit that I didn't read any of The Wheel of Time.  I voted it last because I just didn't feel like it fit in this category.  They should have a series category that gives out an award once a decade or something, but it just doesn't make sense to have a fifteen book series in the novel category.

1 Parasite by Mira Grant
Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia
Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Best Novella

This one was between The Chaplain's Legacy and Equoid.  I liked them both so much.  The Chaplain's Legacy dealt with spirituality among aliens, with the balance between war and peace, and what it means to be civilized.  Equoid was funny and it had really cool monsters.  They're so different, yet I liked them both so much.  Ultimately, The Chaplain's Legacy won out for me.

The Chaplain's Legacy by Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jul-Aug 2013)
Equoid by Charles Stross (, 09-2013)
The Butcher of Khardov by Dan Wells (Privateer Press)
Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean Press)
Wakulla Springs by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (, 10-2013)

Best Novelette

I liked all of the stories in this category, but The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling really stood out among the others.  It was a story about a cool new technology and how it disrupts society, but it was also a story that shows about the difference between facts and feelings, and that feelings are just as valid and true as facts, even if they distort our view of the facts.

The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling by Ted Chiang (Subterranean, Fall 2013)
The Waiting Stars by Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky, Candlemark & Gleam)
The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal ( /, 09-2013)
The Exchange Officers by Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jan-Feb 2013)
Opera Vita Aeterna by Vox Day (The Last Witchking, Marcher Lord Hinterlands)

Best Short Story

Normally, for a short story, I would include the cover art of the magazine it was printed in.  But it's a story about the author's husband turning into a dinosaur, so it just made sense to include a picture of me being a dinosaur.

This story was so fantastic.  It was like my constant day dream as an 8 year old.  But, on top of being a story about the transformation of man to dinosaur, it actually turned out to be emotional and powerful in the end.  Soooo good!

If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love by Rachel Swirsky (Apex Magazine, Mar-2013)
The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu (, 02-2013)
Selkie Stories Are for Losers by Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons, Jan-2013)
The Ink Readers of Doi Saket by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (, 04-2013)

Best Related Work

This book is super interesting.  It's all about writing, but it is filled with fun illustrations, interesting anecdotes and various other things to make it a very exciting look at the writing process.

Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer, with Jeremy Zerfoss (Abrams Image)
Speculative Fiction 2012: The Best Online Reviews, Essays and Commentary by Justin Landon & Jared Shurin (Jurassic London)
Writing Excuses Season 8 by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Jordan Sanderson ()
We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative by Kameron Hurley (A Dribble of Ink)
Queers Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the LGBTQ Fans Who Love It Edited by Sigrid Ellis & Michael Damian Thomas (Mad Norwegian Press)

Best Graphic Story

Okay, I'll be the first to admit that I'm not that into comics.  I considered not voting in this category, since it is the category that I'm least familiar with, and I have not read any of these works in their entirety.  However, The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who is super fun, and it gets my vote.

The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who written by Paul Cornell, illustrated by Jimmy Broxton (Doctor Who Special 2013, IDW)
Girl Genius, Volume 13: Agatha Heterodyne & The Sleeping City written by Phil and Kaja Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
Time by Randall Munroe (XKCD)
Saga, Volume 2 written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
The Meathouse Man adapted from the story by George R.R. Martin and illustrated by Raya Golden (Jet City Comics)

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)

I thoroughly enjoyed every entry in this category.  You know when I put an Iron Man movie in last place, that this was a solid category.  However, I absolutely loved Gravity.  My wife walked in while I was watching it and said, "This movie seems so boring."  But, in my mind there is nothing more terrifying than the idea of being lost in space, and Sandra Bullock did an excellent job of playing that terrifying role.

1 Gravity
2 The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
3 Pacific Rim
4  Frozen
5  Iron Man 3

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)
Episodes don't have cover art, so you get a picture of my wife and I coming out of the Tardis.

The Day of the Doctor was SUCH A GOOD EPISODE!  I wish I could vote it in all of the first 3 categories or something.  It is so far above the other contenders.  Unfortunately, the only way to really differentiate how far ahead it is would be to vote the others under no award, and that wouldn't be fair, because they are still worthy contenders.  Nevertheless, I really hope The Day of the Doctor wins.

1 Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor
2 Doctor Who: The Name of the Doctor
3 The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot
4 An Adventure in Space and Time
5 Orphan Black: Variations under Domestication
6 Game of Thrones: The Rains of Castamere

Best Editor (Short Form)

This category is normally the "best magazine" category, because the editors are usually magazine editors.  Since Asimov's and Clarkesworld are 2 of my favorite magazines, you'd think one of them would be a shoe in to win.  But The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination is such a great collection that I couldn't not vote for John Joseph Adams in first place.

I've taken the liberty of putting a publication that I'm familiar with in parentheses so that you can see at least one thing that I judged them on.

1 John Joseph Adams (The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination)
2 Sheila Williams (Asimov's)
3 Neil Clarke (Clarkesworld)
4 Ellen Datlow (All the Snake Handlers I Know are Dead)
5 Jonathan Strahan (Edge of Infinity)

Best Editor (Long Form)
There are loads of books that Toni Weisskopf has edited that I have enjoyed.  I just happened to pick the one that was nominated for the Hugo this year to illustrate why I voted for her.  But I could have picked half a dozen others.  I went ahead and linked books that I was familiar with to Goodreads.  Unfortunately, the last 2 were people that I couldn't find a book I had read to judge them by, so I just judged them by my familiarity with the companies they work for.

1 Toni Weisskopf (Warbound by Larry Correia)
2 Ginjer Buchanan (Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross)
3 Lee Harris (The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu)
4 Liz Gorinsky (Tor)
5 Sheila Gilbert (DAW)


Best Professional Artist

I wish I was more familiar with the artists, but as with last year, I judged them completely by what was included in the voter's packet.  How can you not love a robot that looks like he's singing in the rain?

1 John Picacio
2 Julie Dillon
3 Daniel Dos Santos
4 Galen Dara
5 John Harris
6 Fiona Staples


Best Semiprozine

The semiprozine category is another category where I'm not super familiar with the nominees.  However, I did look over what was included in the voter packet and I enjoyed Interzone the most.

1 Interzone
2 Lightspeed Magazine
3 Strange Horizons
4 Apex Magazine
5 Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Best Fanzine
You'll notice that the two fanzines I put in the first 2 places are book review blogs.  What can I say?  I really like books.  The fact that I got to briefly meet the guy who runs Elitist Book Reviews at a convention last year might have just pushed that one over the top for me.

Elitist Book Reviews
The Book Smugglers
Journey Planet
A Dribble of Ink

Best Fan Artist

As with the professional artist above, I judged this one mainly from the voter's packet.  This picture is just too fun to not get my vote.

1 Brad W. Foster
2 Sarah Webb
3 Spring Schoenhuth
4 Steve Stiles
5 Mandie Manzano

The John W. Campbell Award

I didn't actually vote in this category.  I hadn't read enough of the nominees by the time voting closed, so I didn't cast a vote.  However, I have since made myself much more familiar with them, and this is how I would have voted, had I had the time to finish these works.  The Lives of Tao was just so much fun.  Don't you just want an alien inside your brain that teaches you the wisdom of the ancients as well as how to be a secret agent?

There aren't specific works nominated, since this is a category for best new author.  But I went ahead and showed you a work that I had read of theirs that I used to judge them by.

1  Wesley Chu (The Lives of Tao)
2  Ramez Naam (Nexus)
3  Max Gladstone (Three Parts Dead)
4 Sofia Samatar (Selkie Stories Are For Losers)
5 Benjanun Sriduangkaew (The Bees Her Heart, The Hive Her Belly)

Friday, August 8, 2014

Biking with Bugs

I may or may not have mentioned that I'm into biking now.  Have you heard me say something along those lines?  Well, if not, I'll just clear the air right now.  I'm a biker.  I bike.

I love riding to work in the mornings.  My favorite part of the ride is the 2 mile stretch where I ride along the shore of Utah Lake.  I see all sorts of birds, I've seen deer.  I've seen raccoons.  The wildlife is quite abundant.  However, there is one form of life that hangs out next to the lake that you might say I enjoy slightly less.

There are huge swarms of bugs that hang out right next to the lake.  The good news is that they're not mosquitoes.  The bad news is that they're still bugs, and they swarm in incredible numbers.

I'm always riding along, enjoying the scenery, when I notice a swarm in front of me.  Of course I ride through the swarm because there's no other option.  At first it's kind of cool.  It's as if I'm the star ship Enterprise flying through the galaxy with the stars blowing past me.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, here is a visual representation.
However, the analogy to being a star ship only goes so far.  Obviously there are minor differences such as the fact that I'm not in space.  But the major difference that I've noticed is that stars never hit the Enterprise in the face.  They always have little ensigns as the ones driving the ship, but apparently they are better pilots than me, because I get a face full of bugs.

In addition to being a bad pilot, it turns out I'm a bad strategist as well.  My strategy thus far has been to duck my head down as I plunge into the swarm.  This does well in keeping the bugs out of the various orifices in my face, including eyes, mouth and nose, (I really wanted to say eyes, ears, mouth and nose so that you would think of the children's song, but I've never had a problem with them getting in my ears so I felt that would be dishonest.) but it causes something else quite horrible.

You see, my helmet has lots of holes in it that allow air to flow and make me a happy boy most of the time.  But those very same holes make it so that my helmet also serves quite well as a bug trap.  As I ride through the swarm, the holes funnel all the bugs into my head.  Then the bugs are unable to escape and I can feel them crawling all over my scalp.  I usually don't have a huge problem with bugs, but the swarm hanging out on my head really creeps me out.

I snapped a pic of this guy on the inside of my helmet when I took it off.
So that's the story of the way bugs ruined my dream of being a star ship.  It doesn't really have any sort of a moral to the story, except that I think I'm hardcore and that I've endured great hardship.  So if you could, go ahead and think I'm hardcore for enduring bugs to the face and to the scalp.  Thanks.  It's much appreciated.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Yellowstone 2014

This past weekend we had the opportunity to head up to West Yellowstone, Montana.

The primary purpose of this trip was to visit my little brother, Justin.  He is in the cast at the Playmill theater there.  The theater has 3 different productions that they are doing this year.  They are doing Les Miserables, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Beauty and the Beast.  There were very few weekends where we could go and see all 3 shows on 3 consecutive nights, but last week was one of the weeks where that would work out.  So we headed up on Thursday, and saw his shows Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Of course, the secondary purpose of the trip was to see some beautiful nature in Yellowstone National Park.  We spent some good time exploring nature while we were there.  Here are a few of the things we experienced while there.

You can't go to Yellowstone without seeing Old Faithful.  It was both old and faithful.
Mom was standing next to the sign and said, "They should have a sign that says when it will erupt next."  We may have mocked her at that point.  Here Justin is showing us the sign that they should have.

Justin doesn't have a spouse, so he is cuddling with the sign.  But aren't we all so precious?

It's important to smoke the geyser.
In Yellowstone, the women's bathroom is primarily for robots who have one wheel instead of legs.

Justin likes to photobomb precious river selfies.

We found some waterfalls.

The shady side of this rock was nice and cool, so it was important to cuddle with it.

Quake lake is a lake created when an earthquake broke the dam.  It is filled with creepy dead trees.

Clearly I needed a selfie at quake lake.

"Selfies with wolves" sounds like a good movie title.
I even played patty cake with a bear.

Don't worry, we didn't forget to see Justin perform.  Look how precious he is!
They don't allow pictures during the show, but he was singing while people were coming in to be seated, and no one told me I couldn't get a picture of that.

During intermission he was selling concessions.  He even gave me free popcorn.

Of course, we didn't spend the whole time playing in nature and watching great drama.  Mom made sure to put us to work.  Since the cast of the Playmill is super busy running the theater, Mom thought it would be really neat to feed them all lunch on Saturday, in between shows.  It was a super neat idea, but it was also very ambitious.  She made five lasagnas, a giant salad, and a billion cookies.

She put us to work frosting all the homemade oreo cookies.

The finished product was a mighty pile of cookies.

At the theater, we all formed an assembly line to put together plates and plates and plates of food, for over 30 people.
Since we were there serving and feeding everyone, we got the chance to explore some of the backstage.  That was kind of a fun experience as well.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip.  Justin's performances were great, and mother nature's performances were just as awesome.  It was also great to spend time with family staying in a condo together.  The trip was a smashing success, but it was sure nice to sleep in my own bed last night.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Escaping Havasupai

We had a fabulous time in Havasupai.  Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.  That meant that we had to make a decision as to how we were going to get home.  I knew how we were going to do the 11 hour drive, it was going to happen in our car that was still parked in the parking lot.  The decision we had to make was how to get to the parking lot ten miles away.

One thing I knew for sure was that I wasn't going to carry my backpack for ten miles back up the canyon.  The first option I considered was to hire some mules to carry our packs and we could hike out only carrying our own body weight.  (Believe you me, I have plenty of body weight, so that would have still been a workout.)

However, Robyn was starting to get some blisters, and though we probably would have been fine, we realized that we weren't going to be able to change our minds five miles in, so we decided to play it safe and take an easier option.  We elected to charter a helicopter and fly out.  (Can we all just agree that flying is more awesome than walking?)

We woke up extremely early on our last day.  Those of us in our group that were hiking wanted to get an early start so that they could avoid hiking in the heat of the day.  We wanted to get an early start so we could be first in line for the helicopter.  So we woke up at about 3 AM.  But let's be honest, I was a cranky boy when I had to get out of that tent at that hour.

Since others in our group were hiking ten miles, I agreed to carry some of their stuff.  It made my pack heavier, but theirs could be lighter for their long hike.  I had no way of weighing the pack, but I would guess it weighed somewhere in the 50-60 pounds range.  The helicopter is in the village of Supai, which is 2 miles from the campground, and it's a pretty good climb to get there, so it was some hard work to carry that pack for those 2 miles.

Robyn commented that with the heavy pack I probably weighed about what I used to before I lost all the weight.  It turns out I was sweating about like I used to when I was 300 pounds.  I would stop and bend over to rest.  The headlamp I was wearing had sweat just dripping off of it.  It's gross, but that's the sort of realism you've come to expect from this blog.

We finally made it to where we could book the helicopter.
Robyn snapped this pic of me as I set down my giant pack.  I was a tired boy.

When I talk about the helicopter, you're picturing a well run charter company that has things like schedules that make sense.  STOP IT!  Stop imagining that right now.  It's not real.

If you're going to imagine things that aren't real, perhaps you should picture something like me frolicking in a meadow filled with fairies and unicorns.  Or maybe me riding on a dragon as it spews forth a pillar of fire.  Or maybe an animal that can produce multiple delicious foods such as ham, bacon and pork ribs.

What did you say?  That last one was real?  Wow!  Miracles never cease.

Anyway, the point is that a well run, well scheduled charter company in Supai is a fantasy.  Also, bacon is delicious.

This thing was not well run at all.  When we signed the paper to get in line, we asked when the helicopter would come.  They had no idea.  It was going to get there when the pilot felt like it.

So we waited.

I had plenty of time to take selfies with the horses eating their breakfast on the helicopter pad.
We had no idea how long our wait would be, so we just hung out.  I laid down and took a nap.  I listened to people around us argue about things they did while they were drunk.  It was good times.

Eventually, a big dude came and started spraying the dirt road where all our packs were sitting.  We quickly scurried to get them out of the way, so naturally he kept chasing us further and further away.  I guess it was so that the helicopter wouldn't kick up the dust, but he didn't bother to explain what was going on, he just yelled "PACKS!" as he started spraying our packs.

Then, after chasing us far, far away, he started yelling, "First six get ready!"  We had about 30 seconds to gather all of our stuff together and get on the helicopter as it landed.

We jumped on and like any helicopter company would, they just piled our packs on top of us.  It was a really high quality service we were paying for.

Despite the fact that I was not impressed with how the service was run, the view from the helicopter was beautiful.

The trail that we totally weren't on.

The helicopter dropped us in the parking lot, just a few hundred feet from our car.  A few hundred feet is a way better distance than the 8 miles we would have done.

It's important to get a selfie with the helicopter.
When it landed, I got out of the chopper and turned to help get the packs off of the people that were still inside.  A big native dude told me to stop and step aside.  Like a good kid, I got out of the way assuming that he would help them, and that I would just get in the way.

Remember what I said about the fantasy of the well run company?  Well, that fantasy included logical things like him helping the girl with the nasty burn on her leg to get the heavy pack off of her and helping her out of the chopper, so clearly it didn't happen.  He pushed me out of the way so that I could watch them fend for themselves.

Oh well.  Everyone lived, and we have a great story to tell.  Next time I ride a helicopter, I think I'll do it in Hawaii with a more legit company.  Nonetheless, I had a great time.

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