CU Boulder campus tour #1

c17 is starting 11th grade this coming fall – that seems impossible – and it’s fairly likely we won’t be back in the states before he graduates high school. so we figured now was as good as any to get in a few college tours. we started with the university of colorado boulder (CU). a good friend of ours attended school there and was more than happy to show us around. he also – very generously – drove us all up there. this required both of his cars and for him and his lovely wife to drive.

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CU has the prettiest campus i’ve ever seen. nestled right into the rockie mountains with lovely open spaces and beautiful buidings. and the 80 degree weather at the end of june is certainly nothing to sneeze at.

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we told him that it’s not likely we’ll see a prettier campus this summer. and he wasn’t really sure what he thought about it – since he’s not really in college mode just yet and this is the first campus he’s seen. we’ve got plans for 4 or possibly 5 more campus visits. we’re hoping that that will give him something to think about. and just in case he does decide on CU and i decide i need to go with him – i scouted out a few houses i could stand to live in.

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more than holidays come once a year

a little while ago i posted about how we were experiencing our second easter in thailand and then we had our second songkran and how very impressed i was that we were doing things that happen annually for the second time.  and lately i’ve been thinking about how we’re going into our second summer and how exciting this one’s going to be.  and i guess i was so distracted about the fun things that i let the responsible things slip.  you know like the tags for our car – which expired round about the same time as our car insurance (another thing that sort of slipped by me – oops.)  but luckily in thailand they have a great reminder system.  it’s actually the same system they have elsewhere, but it’s done just a tad bit different here.  instead of police in cars with sirens and such they have police standing on corners very politely waving you over.  i honestly had no idea why the police man wanted me to pull over – i’d even heard that they sort of just let the fàràng (caucasians) go by – partly because of the language thing i’m sure.  but the kind police man who waved me over spoke excellent english and was able to clearly explain to me what the problem was.  where i needed to go to pay the ticket and retrieve my license (since he was gonna keep it) and how much it should cost.

luckily, where i needed to go was the same place i went the last – and only – time i got a ticket.  (ooh, it’s another thing i’m doing for the second time).  and i must say that after i handed my ticket over to the police man at the desk and then had a seat i  was pretty sure i’d be there for the afternoon.  because this was a low tech operation.  not one computer could i see in the whole place.  what i did see were two officers sitting behind a desk copying the information from the ticket onto two seperate forms.  and in duplicate – they did have carbon paper.  after you were done at this desk you were sent to another window to reclaim your driver’s license.  which is kept in one of several large piles that are coiled up and held together with a rubber band.  it took him maybe 30 seconds to find it.  i was in and out in 15 minutes.  and there were maybe 8 people in front of me.  maybe computers are overrated.

and my fine – baht 200.  which is less than $6.00 US.

flight of the gibbons

we saw no gibbons.  not one.  but if we had, i don’t think they could possibly have flown as well as we did.  we were awesome.

started out bright and early.  we met the bus at 6:30am for our one hour drive up really steep and really windy and really bumpy roads.  we sat in the very, very, very back of the bus.  and bounced and winded and rocked and swayed until a12 said, “i think i’m going to be sick.”  and she was.  and maybe two milliseconds later the driver said,  “we’re here.”  and we were.

first job – signing waivers.  then we were off to get harnessed up.

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then a quick trip by van (a few of us started turning green at the mention of getting back in the van) and we were ready to go.

we had an introductory talk/safety lecture from one of the spotters.  the only one who’s name i cannot remember.

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one of the things he explained to us was the brake system for zip lines.  it’s very, um, low tech.  but it did seem to work, when we could actually remember to use it.

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bamboo brakes.

and then we were ready for our first zip line.  i have to do a little bragging on my kids here – they deserve it.  we’d spent quite a bit of time talking to and at the kids about how expensive this little outing is and how very, very nice it was of grandad and nanny to pay for it and how once we signed up and paid the money there would be no. backing. out.  and i fully expected to have to push at least one kid off a platform.  maybe all the platforms.  but other than a few nervous jitters and the initial “i don’t want to go first, you do it, so we can see if you survive” moment they were totally psyched and all systems go!  not one time did anyone mention being scared or not wanting to go or even needing a few moments to gather their strength.  nope, they were amazing!

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as we progressed through the ziplines they held onto their harnesses much, much looser and their smiles became much, much broader.

after the first zip line s9 became adamant that he go first.  always.  he finally acquiesced to letting the spotter go ahead of him.  but he really did not want to.

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next was the first sky bridge.  i’ve got no problem admitting it was a little bit unsettling.  i might have been the only one who felt that way, but i didn’t let it show!

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then we really started flying – the confidence was building so the whole gripping the harness thing became unnecessary.

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a few times we were lowered from one platform to another so we could continue our journey.

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and we even zipped in tandem once.  but since there are 5 of us, one had to go it alone.

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a12 & s9 applying their brakes.  c15 & i almost mastered the brakes, almost.

it ended well before we wanted it to be over, but we were ready to get out of those harnesses.  two hours is along time to be so bound up.

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thanks nanny and grandad!

we took many, many more pictures.  if you want to see them head on over to my flickr page.

making a list, checking it twice…

i’m getting serious about the whirlwhind north american tour thing. c15 and i have our travel booked for india and now we’re just waiting for finalization of travel dates for america.  i’m constantly making lists of people we need to see, places to go, where might we stay, etc… and until now, i’ve never bothered to put a number to it all.  and by number i mean money.  us dollars, not thai baht.  it’s kind of put a damper on things.

it looks like the biggest expense is going to be car rental and there’s sort of no getting around without a car.  plus, we’d intended to fly between texas and colorado, but we only have enough points for 4 tickets and it’s cheaper to rent a car and drive it than buy one ticket.  but, if we drive it frees up some airline miles for visiting other people (and that means a side trip for me, alone, possibly to a beach.  i can’t really complain about that.)  we’ve also got stocking up to do.  undergarments are in high demand as are shoes, especially for me (thanks dad for the big feet).  and, of course, there are foods we won’t have had in 18 months that we just can’t live without.  but before we even get out of thailand the expenses are piling up.  there’s rent to be paid, our house help will need to be paid ahead of time for the entire time we’re gone, the dog will need to be put up somewhere – unless we can find someone to housesit.  and souveniers to bring back with us.  and i know there’s plenty more that i’m not thinking of, but it will come to me, i know it will.

the money isn’t a huge issue – we’ll most likely have 3 years to recover.  (that’s how long it’s likely to be before our next visit back to the states.)  and it’s possible we’ll find cars to borrow and, thankfully, it looks like we have plenty of offers of places to stay – so no hotel bills.

and besides that, as the mastercard commercial goes…

visiting family and friends…  priceless.

i could share some culture, but…

i still have a post brewing about loy krathong and i haven’t told you anything about the 3 day ban on entertainment.  it was kingdom wide.  but right now i have something else.  something that doesn’t involve quite as much any culture.

c14′s got a nasty ingrown toenail.  and because he refuses to let me take a picture of it i’m looking out for you guys i am not going to post a picture of it.  but it really is nasty.  swollen and pussy and oozy and gross.  who knows how long he’s had it.  he showed it to me saturday night – and it looks like it’s really taken root.  it made me cringe.  so today we headed to the doctor.  a doctor we have never seen before.  an american doctor.  yes, an american doctor who jumped through all kinds of hoops so he can practice here.  and it was lovely.  he talked to c14 while i just observed.  a new thing for us.  usually it’s me filling in all the blanks.  we have another appointment next week to remove part of the toenail.  and the best part of this?  yes, there is a best part.

today’s appointment cost us 100 baht.  and when you convert that to US funds we’re talking about $2.85.  yep, that says two dollars and eighty-five cents.  oh, and the antibiotic that the doctor prescribed?  $4.29 in US dollars.  can’t wait to submit those to insurance!

acid rain

today, while michael and i were out running some errands, it acid rained all over our windshield. kind of freaky, huh? michael was quick to point out it wasn’t acid rain. it was antifreeze. which it seems isn’t supposed to spray all over your windshield. so we called the mechanic. who sent out his speak thai only mechanic helpers. he let michael know they were on their way and might be calling us if they get lost. which he realized might be a problem – seeing as how we don’t speak thai all that well. they made it all on their own and popped the hood and sure enough, no suprise, the radiators all wonky. well, really worse than wonky. it’s broke. busted. sick. i expected them to try to get the car to their shop, somehow, in some special thai way. i was even looking forward to that. but, instead, they did a different special thai thing. they removed our radiator – right there in our driveway.

the busted radiator

our radiator’s better side

and they took it with them. leaving us with a promise to return tomorrow with a repaired, or new, or some kind of alternate radiator. so in our driveway sits our car.

with a radiator size hole under the hood.

and being the pet lover that i am, i washed down the driveway. doing my best to get rid of any and all signs of deadly radiator fluid.