Camping with the boys

Isaac has become quite a good shot. I had to move the shooting position back from where Michael had been, and he still shattered all the little bits of clay pigeon Michael had left on the backstop.  Several cans suffered the same fate, but with the 22 pistol instead.
Michael hasn’t shoot much before, and didn’t really groove on it when he did (that probably had more to do with the chaos of shooting with a bunch of crazy cousins and uncles who are going Rambo all around him). This time he got all the time he wanted without a lot of distraction and had fun watching as clay pigeons shattered and jumped around on the backstop.
Dinner was a plate of rice and beanless chili. I only ever make this concoction when I’m camping — it’s become something of a tradition now.
Isaac snapped this while I was supervising Michael destroying a bunch of clay pigeons with the 22
We hiked up this mesa in the morning. The boys found several arrowheads and flakes left from people making arrowheads.

Isaac was preparing for a campout with the young men from church a couple of weeks ago when Michael asked when I could take him camping.  The weather has been mostly cooperating, so I told him we’d go in two weeks if the weather cooperated.  Two weeks went by and the weather was fine, so we packed up the truck and headed to an area just outside the Ojito wilderness.

We found a place just off the road and made a fine camp for the night.  After setting up camp, the boys and the dog explored a deep arroyo nearby while I made dinner and gathered firewood.  We spent the evening watching the fire and just hanging out until bed.

When we woke up the water was frozen solid, and Michael was none too happy about the cold.   However, a campfire, some hot chocolate, and a pancake breakfast make everything better… Even the cold of an early spring morning in the high desert.  I love the high desert in the morning.

After the sun came up, we put out the fire and hiked up a nearby mesa to explore.  Thornton had a blast sniffing around, and even managed to flush out a rabbit, but I don’t think he’d make a good coyote…  The rabbit got away with a large margin of safety.  Along the way, the boys each found several partially complete arrowheads along with a bunch of other interesting rocks.   After the hike, we set up targets and the boys spent about an hour shooting at clay pigeons they had found the day before.

One downside of BLM land is that there are always people who don’t seem to care what condition they leave it in.  The area we were camped in was littered with spent cases, beer cans, and all kinds of other trash.  Before we left, the boys and I policed up the area — filling a large (55ga) trashbag in the process (I take huge bags with me just for this reason).  I hope my boys understand how important it is to take good care of what God has given us.  I was proud of them for not complaining that the mess wasn’t theirs.  The area looked much better when we left.

A good weekend, all in all.

Check your id

Several years ago, I was at a three month professional development course that included intramural sports.  As we went through the first day orientation, the school director took a moment and asked each of us to pull out our IDs.  He then instructed is to look at the birthday printed on the card and ponder our age.  He then told us to repeat this exercise every time we entered the gym and keep that in mind as we competed with each other.  Apparently, students there had a track record of pushing too hard and getting hurt.  This was good advice, but advice that was rarely implemented.

I was reminded of this vignette when I was getting ready to go out on the gym floor with Isaac this last Tuesday.  Several of the other parents were commenting on the fact that I work out with the kids, and I mentioned this experience in passing as a way to laugh off the fact that I’m a whole lot older than anyone else who trains there.  That’s when karma struck.

After a brief warmup, I got ready to throw the first flip of the night.  However, the foam pit had a mat covering the foam.  I was doing well with many different flips, so I decided to just go for it.  Being over confident, I got a good run at it and launched into a side flip.  Now… I’ve had trouble getting enough vertical elevation of side flips, so I tend to stay in a tuck almost to the end.  But, this time, I got plenty of air and way over rotated.  I landed hard on my ankle, and was immediately aware that things weren’t normal.  The burning pain was all I needed to know that my night of training flips and flyaways was over.

It turned out to just be a sprain, but as I hobbled into work Wednesday morning on crutches my co-workers got no end of pleasure out of asking me how I got hurt.  A few only asked if I was with Isaac then laughed and walked away smirking knowingly.  Almost everyone knew the crux of the matter before they asked.  My track record of injuries resulting from me acting like a kid at the gym is almost a running joke.

Oh well… Another few days and I can start working my way back into training with Isaac.  It’ll be hard not to get hurt again given my tendency to recognize that something is risky and then promptly jump right in.   I guess I need to get better at following my own advice. Maybe this time will be different…  Or… Maybe not… But I’ll have fun either way.

Learning backflips

This year, I crossed the threshold of 40.  I understand that transition to be fairly traumatic for many people, but I must be in denial.  I don’t feel like 40 is much of a big deal.   I do, however, distinctly remember when 16 looked mature, 20 was fully fledged adult, 30 looked middle aged, and 40 was near death.  There didn’t seem to me much space for development between 40 and death.   Life and experience have taught me how warped my perspective was back then.

One thing I have loved about getting older is having kids who are old enough to have interests and hobbies I can share with them.  There is something pretty cool about having philosophical discussions about great books, or talking about some of the more interesting experiments from psychology with Sydney.  It’s a lot more rewarding than taking about fairies or random other “little girl” things I’ve never really understood or wanted to be a part of.  Those moments were precious, but I have to admit I like the more mature discussions better.

Lately, Isaac has started to cross that threshold where his interests and hobbies are more interesting and engaging for me.  For a little more than the last year, Isaac has been deliberately and diligently training in Par Kour (sp?).  True to form, I got tired of just watching, and for the last few months I’ve been training too.  Once a week Liz and I attend a class taught by Isaac’s trainer where we learn to do things like vault over obstacles, run up walls, and jump off of high things without hurting ourselves.  About half the class (Liz and I included) are parents of the kids who are in Isaac’s advanced class, so it’s almost comical watching a bunch of middle aged parents act like kids on a playground, but all of us old farts in the class LOVE acting like kids — even if we can’t jump as high or move as fast as the kids do.

One day several weeks ago as I was watching Isaac and his cohorts doing their weekly flips and areal training at a gymnastics gym, I got bored and asked Isaac if he would mind if I trained with them.  His smile said it all.  I informed him he was my coach for the night, and we walked out to the gym floor together.  Within a few minutes, he had me doing flips on the trampoline and into the foam pit.  By the time the night was over, I had tried my first backflip over solid (ish) ground.

Three weeks on, and I’m still working on consistently landing backflips.  They’re getting better, but it’ll be a while before I try one over concrete.  My body is old and broken enough that training sessions with Isaac or his coach sometimes get cut short.  But even when it hurts a little, it’s fun to see the look in Isaac’s eyes when I jump in and participate in something that he really enjoys.  He smiled as big as I did when I pulled off a flyaway (doing a backflip swinging off of an elevated bar) last Tuesday.

I have to say that I’m grateful I have the energy and strength to jump in and do these things.  I get a few odd looks from the younger crowd at the gym sometimes — I probably look like a dinosaur to them — but I’m well past the point where that will change my mind.  About the only thing that slows me down is when my neck, shoulders, or back get particularly angry about the renewed assaults on already worn out body parts.  For the most part, though, I’m amazed at the things I can do.  I’m also pretty stoked that my aggressiveness and stupidity haven’t made my broken body worse.  It helps to have a coach who learned how to do things right and do them without getting hurt.

I can’t say that I would have ever tried to do a backflip or vault a six foot wall had Isaac not started it all, but I wouldn’t trade the opportunity to spend time doing things with my kids for any of my self-motivated hobbies.  I only hope I’m still fit for enough to do the same with Michael – whatever hobbies he decides to get into.