Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Today I had recess and nap time. Who says you have to grow up?

Soooo much fun today that I am definitely going to feel tomorrow.

I dragged my husband out to Pursuit OCR where I've wanted to go for ages.  Picture kids at a playground -- climbing on things, swinging from monkey bars, etc.   Now remember being that kid.  Then realize, this one place, you can be that kid as an adult.

I'm not even kidding.

So this...  gym?  Obstacle course?  Playground?   Is adults only and alcohol free (as it's promoting fitness).   Their basic goal is just to get adults moving, and having fun while they're doing so.  Fitness level?  We saw a wide variety.   I'm at the least fit I've been in years *sigh* and had a blast.  While realizing it would've been even more fun if I'd been a *little* stronger.  Conversely, we saw some people who were seriously built, and some who may never have been in a traditional gym.  But mostly, we saw a ton of people having fun and cheering each other on.  Complete strangers helping others through the various obstacles and no impatience from those waiting a turn.   Was a very positive environment.  At least today ;)

Side note -- I left my phone in the car, so no pics from me :(.  Google however...

When you first go in there's one of those walls people run straight up.   Well, some people.

Ummmm maybe later.    (All pics shamelessly stolen from their website or Google)
But also at the entrance is the start of the course which involves going over or through a small block, climb up some blocks and away we go.

All obstacles were optional.  This was the start -- over, under, or through :)
So the first thing we are upon was a "the floor is lava" challenge (of which there were a few).   This one those with significant upper body strength could swing from the ceiling, for the rest of us, it was easy to navigate along the side -- giggling all the way.

The floor is lava!
This was immediately followed by another floor is lava game -- one of jumping from side to side across a tunnel, or using ropes to swing.  I used the ropes and had a blast!   Also not a ton of strength required.

After succeeding through that we were faced with a trampoline leading to a series of very far spaced monkey bars.   After a few tentative bounces on the trampoline that didn't get me anywhere near the first bar, I opted out of this one and made a mad dash across the bouncy mat.   Chris, however, not only got to the first bar, but on only the second attempt made the flying leap across all three bars.  Very cool!

A little hazy on details here -- lots of giggling and fun, but the items may be out of order or incomplete as it's now a nap and several hours later ;).  Also, that nap was very required.

So pretty sure the leap of faith between the bars was followed by a rock wall (which I've always loved) and then the laser course!   Lol this was done with black light and bungee cords -- just as well, as we would've failed lasers horribly!   The guys all seemed to belly crawl their way through, most of the girls seemed to be trying to pick their way through.  I did that till the very end when I got stuck and gave in to the belly crawl.  Faster for sure, but not nearly as much fun ;)

Don't touch the lasers!
We climbed up a level to be greeted to a rope mesh bridge to be navigated.   This bridge was over the bike course that wraps around under parts of the course.  Chris ran across this with only one tragic mishap that ended w/ him all kinds of tangled.   The first time I was not up to that and walked along the side -- a navigation challenge in itself, but a different one.   However later when I was waiting a turn for something else with no-one behind us, I went back and did it properly.  Lol I think this ended up actually being my favourite one.  I wanted to go back at the very end and do it once more, but by then the place was crowded and I didn't know a shortcut to get there so left it for another day.

Then we had a foam pit with two bars over top.   I didn't even look at the bars, just took a flying leap into the foam pit.  So much fun.  Chris navigated properly, getting hold of the bar and then kicking his feet up and over so he could move along it.   I did give that an effort, but not quite enough strong enough to get my feet up.   Next time ;).  I've deemed this round was the baseline one.  Now go away, improve my fitness, or at least strength, then try again...

After that was the rings, also over a foam pit.  I didn't expect to get past the first one, but I got three and fell on four.  Which of the other people we watched matched the best of the women.   A couple of the men made it through.  Chris made all but the very last, by taking a diagonal route instead of straight through, so there's definitely strategy involved as well as strength.   Seriously though, dropping into the foam pit is arguably as much or more fun than actually completing the challenge.

This was followed by some climbing through a tunnel and then down a slide.  Wheeee.   And the slide led... to a ball pit!!!   I'm not even kidding.   I took a flying leap and promptly sunk.   Lol. This is the adult version, once I got my feet under me and managed to stand, the balls were well over my elbows.  I had expected the balls to be harder and was a little concerned that jumping in might be a bad idea, but no, all good.   What I *didn't* expect was how challenging it would be to navigate the pit!  I now understand why kids sleep so well after being in those things.  It took more effort  for me to get through the pit than any other obstacle we did...  There was a rope attached at the far end that you could pull yourself out.  Or better yet -- other people could pull you out ;).  Chris and random stranger may have helped me and another woman with that.   I would've made it on my own no problem, just a longer wait for Chris.  But the other woman was definitely struggling and after she got a tow out, I decided to take advantage of the same offer :)  Fun. So much fun.  But wow.

We were coming toward where this photo was taken.
And that ended the course part of things, but underneath the course was a bike track.  Or rather, a trike track ;).  Yup, adult-sized tricycles and a "drift track" so as you went around if you hit the turns right you could spin your bike out.   Honestly, while I wanted to try it, I wasn't expecting much from this.  But it was So Much Fun.  WAY more than I'd ever anticipated.   The first round I did a little tentatively, but after that it was full on.  lol.  Line of the day went to Chris who described it as "It's like Mario Cart, but they're tricking you into exercising."

After that, I gave the wall a try.  Yeah - this is where you run flat out at a sloping ramp that quickly goes vertical.   Brilliant idea.   Lol failed horribly ;-P.  Not surprising that since I don't run well on the ground, it didn't work terribly well to run straight up, but hey ;).  I tell you, it's quite the mental challenge to convince yourself to run with any speed directly at a wall.  Self-preservation hold.

This was my first effort; I didn't know it was being filmed ;)

Lol I tried a couple more times, did something else for a while, then tried some more.   After the first one I managed to stay on my feet for the trip back down (although have to admit the slide was a lot of fun and less terrifying than running straight down).  My goal was to just tap the top, knowing fully well that even if I could reach it I didn't have the strength to pull myself up (esp at the *end* of the adventure!).  This is still a goal on the "for next time" list ;).  Although not sure how one practices for this without, in fact, having a wall to run up *g*.   So no, I didn't make it to the top.  Chris says I got within a foot, so we're going with that :).   

On the smaller wall (from the Over, Under or Through pic with the yellow cheverons) I could get up and wrap my hand around the bar, but still didn't have the strength left to pull myself up.   That one I actually found more intimidating as there was no slope up so you're literally jumping up the wall, not just running up a very steep slope.

So yeah, a super fun day that I will definitely be feeling tomorrow; actually, am feeling right now *sigh*.  I was hoping it might inspire a return to fitness -- we'll see ;).  But yeah, anybody who wants to go, just give me a shout. I'm definitely in.

FridayFlash #72: Daughter of Nightmares and Smoke

Kara came up with the title through one of those Facebook generators.  I decided I'd write it ;).   First flash in a very long time.  Yeah vacation day :) 

As always, comments very welcome.   Enjoy!


Once considered peaceful, the dragons came one night and scorched the villages.   For days nothing could be seen but smoke.  The people would try to rebuild, but every few months the dragons would return.  It was a time of terror.  Hunting parties were sent to get revenge; no one returned.  

And then one day, the skys were empty.  No longer did the occasional shadow drift over the village.  No more did children cower from the giant creatures from the sky.  Nobody knew why they attacked or where they went, but over time, that became unimportant. Things were quiet, and people rebuilt out of their grief.  And as the children who had seen their villages destroyed grew up and gave birth to children of their own, memories faded.  By the time their grandchildren had grandchildren, understanding of dragons had changed.  From peaceful and harmless, to horrifyingly vicious, to nothing more than a wisp of a myth. A story to scare young children into behaving.

But time is a tricky thing, and to the dragons, it moves differently.  Only one generation had passed since The Great Betrayal, and memory of it was clear.  After all, she did live with them.  Tall and graceful, Alesha laughed as she skipped between the caves, easily avoiding the dragon chasing her.  She whipped around a boulder, turning at the last second and ducking under the dragon who almost had her.  She poked his belly as he flew over top, “Gotcha Tren!” she laughed, his roar made the rock she was standing on shake, but didn’t phase her in the slightest.   They were siblings.  Friends.  And she had very definitely won.  Again.

It’s time to come home, the thought from their mother was as clear in her head as if it had been spoken.  Tren, having received the same message turned and headed toward her.  With a running leap, Alesha hopped on for the flight home.

She knew she was different, of course.  Small and fragile, but nimble and creative.  She couldn’t breathe fire, but she could build it.  She couldn’t fly, but she could access spaces the dragons would never be able to.  Her dragon family accepted things as they are, as they’ve always been, while Alesha questioned everything.  They complemented each other.  The smarter ones appreciated that and considered her family; the lesser ones treated her as little more than a pet.  A curiosity.  A spoil of war.

When they returned to the roost, Alesha and Tren were surprised to discover the elder dragons had gathered.  Tren aborted his landing and circled, hoping to avoid interrupting the council, but Tasque, the head of the council, noticed him and with a thought compelled him to join them.

Alesha slid off Tren as soon as he landed, preferring to face whatever was coming standing.  But while she stood calmly and confidently, her hand quivered gently where it rested against Tren’s shoulder.  

What’s going on? she asked.

The time has come for you to fulfil your destiny.  The voice in her mind was powerful, and not one who had ever deigned to speak to her before.   She met Tasque’s stare head on and held it for a moment.  She could feel a wave a pride wash over her – the dragon who had adopted her so long ago was pleased.

What do you need me to do?  Her heart beat faster and she had to consciously stop herself from fidgeting.  So long she had wondered why the dragons had adopted and raised her.  It was the one question nobody would ever answer.  

You remember, of course, The Great Betrayal?   How could she forget?   Her heart sank as she was reminded yet again of the time the dragons had attempted to aid humans, only to have five of their eggs stolen.   The dragons had found four – three of which had been destroyed; the fourth hatched and grew up to be Tren.  But the fifth egg, even after months of searching, remained hidden.  And with the humans getting closer to their nest, they had to call off the search and moved the entire flight to their current home.  But when they did that, they brought one thing that was not theirs.  They brought an infant girl.  Her.

We have located the last egg.   It will not hatch until it is returned to us, but we cannot retrieve it.  You and Tren will go together, get the egg, and bring it home.

Her eyes widened and she glanced at Tren.  She was going to go to the human’s world?   Before her thoughts could start spinning too quickly, her mother’s familiar voice interrupted.  

Alesha, you’ll need to remember all we’ve taught you about humans.  Tren will help you get there, but he must not be seen, so you will be on your own.  Several of their generations have passed since we adopted you – with us you’re still so young, but there you will age quickly.  We believe we’ve found which castle the egg is locked in, but that’s all we know.  You’ll need to find a way to get in, rescue the egg, and get out quickly.  You can navigate in the dark nearly as well as we can; most humans cannot – use that to your advantage.  You must speak of us to no one.  Dragons to them are creations of nightmares and smoke.  And you are our daughter.  Never forget it.

Do you understand? The leader’s voice interrupted.

I do.

Will you undertake this task asked of you by the dragon council?

I will.

Then it be done. We will watch for your return with each new moon.  May the stars guide your way.

Alesha bowed her head as she’d be taught, then gracefully vaulted on to Tren’s back so he could take them out of the council.  Tren tried to talk to her, but her thoughts were flowing too quickly for her to hear him.  She was going home.  A home she’d never known, true, but one where there were people like her.  And maybe, just maybe, once she’d rescued the egg, she could find a way to bridge the worlds.

The daughter of nightmares and smoke yes, but also of dreams and starlight.

A different work day

So today instead of going to work, I had the opportunity to volunteer with my team at the CP24 Chum Christmas Wish.   This is the same charity we used to collect toys for when I had GRS, and it was definitely a fun deviation from my usual day.

I was volunteering in the warehouse.  There were rows of boxes that were all labeled by age and gender (boys 3-5, girls 14-18, etc), with a few other misc areas (stuffed toys, board games, sport equipment, stocking stuffers, and summer).   While I definitely have some issues with the separating of toys by gender (does this STEM kit belong in boys or girls?  hmmmm) I do understand why they're doing it, as esp with the younger kids there is distinct branding targeting one or the other.

So the first job was to put philosophical moral objections aside and sort the presents.   So a truck had recently been unloaded and we got to take the toys and find them the appropriate bucket.  I found this far more entertaining than you might imagine because of the sheer variety of things.

Then we went "shopping" -- in that we (in pairs) would be given a group to collect toys for (eg,  8 boys, age 7) and go pick one thing for each of those 8 boys.  Since we know nothing about the recipients other than gender and age, it's impossible to make an informed decision.  At first it was really easy - find something that's Just. Plain. Cool. and pick that.   They had some things to keep in mind -- like most of the recipients won't have cell phones or computers, so if you come across something that requires one of those, it went in a different area.   And if you picked a board game, pick something else that can be enjoyed individually because not everybody has someone to play games with.  It definitely helps draw attention to all the things so many of us take for granted.

Michalina and I did one amazing bag for a group of I think about 14yo boys that had just all the good stuff (including a ball hockey stick and ball).   But as we got more into it, it became increasingly challenging because the boxes became sorely depleted :(.   I had one go for 14yo girls, and they have a rule for no makeup under the age of 16.  By then the 9-13 box was empty and the 14-18 box was all makeup.  It was a real challenge that Nicole and I put a whole lot of effort into solving.   Some of our team have done this multiple years, and there were a lot comments about how depleted the supply was comparatively :(.  So that was sad to see.  Conversely, some of the gifts were amazing.  There were some great things in there of really good quality and creativity.

So yeah, overall it was a great experience and I'd certainly do it again.