Saturday, April 21, 2007

YMCA - 383

Our family has a YMCA membership so we don't have to raise the waterline. The membership costs 70 dollars a month. The great part of our membership is that we always have access to a pool that has a great slide for the kids, a hot tub, a track, a room full of exercise equipment and weights of all sizes. The worst part of our membership is that we always have access to a pool that has a great slide for the kids, a hot tub, a track, a room full of exercise equipment and weights of all sizes. With a membership at the Y, you never have any reason to not exercise – even when you have three inches of snow on the ground mid-April.
The first trial of a visit to the David D. Hunting YMCA is the stairs. You get past the gatekeeper at the door who beeps your card through with a smile. Before you is the staircase. If you want to use the exercise equipment you must take the stairs. They make you ask if you need to use the elevator. I wouldn't use the elevator. Even if I didn't have to ask I still wouldn't use it Next people would expect me to ask for directions when I am lost and then, well then I would probably spontaneously com bust. Anyway, the stairs are built in such a way that it would be difficult to take two at a time. They are also strategically created so that they only move you up about half the distance you are normally accustomed to moving up when you take a step. This means that you have to take twice as many steps to get up.
Lets do the math. I usually take two steps at a time. The stairs will not let me do this because of how wide they are. The stairs also only go up half the distance a normal stair would take me. So instead of two steps at a time I get one that takes me half the distance I would like to go. End result, using my world renowned math skills, is that it takes me four times as long as normal to get up a flight of stairs. And the exercise equipment and track is two stories of stairs up. Now normally this would not bother me being all winded because of stairs designed to work against me, except for the gazelles. You see, I am a Clydesdale. Not exactly built for speed, more like built for moving things – like cars. The stairs were not built for Clydesdales. The stairs were built for gazelles. The gazelles – twenty something gymnasts, usually female- bound right up the stairs with a sort of graceful gate. They go boing, boing boing. I go clop clop clop. They like passing me on the stairs, I can tell. I can tell because they keep doing it on the track.
The track is a thing of beauty. After I recover from the stairs by taking a towel and looking busy by my locker, I tackle the track. I first put my ear damaging MP3 player in so that I can deafen out the sounds. The sounds of senior citizens who are painfully and obviously two or three times my age passing me. They like passing me to, I can tell. I can tell because they keep doing it when I share a lane with them in the pool. The guy next to me in the pool has an unfair advantage even though he may be twice my age. He wears these gloves that give him webbed fingers. It is the webbed fingers I tell you. Besides, Clydesdale were not meant to swim.
So the Y you see was not built for me. It was built for people of another animal. I try to tell myself this and so I come up with reasons not to use our membership. The problem though, is Clydesdale's grow quickly in girth if you don't do something with them, something strenuous. Like stairs.

Monday, April 16, 2007

V2 - Day 389

About the time my stomach had found an unnatural affinity for my spleen the whole thing reversed and my stomach was looking for my left big toe. The g forces I was experiencing were not related to the sea state. My Catalina 27 was nicely nestled in a safe harbor. What I was experiencing is called Vertical Velocity , or V2. V2 is one of the most punishing roller coasters that I have ever been on. V2 was the reason we had set sail the day before.
Sailing is often a destination in and of itself. My family is the happiest when we are more than 30 miles from shore. It is here that the noise of civilization ceases, the shoreline is gone and we can all relax. V2 is the polar opposite of that feeling. V2 is a roller coaster that has more in common with a Fermi Lab's particle accelerator than a roller coaster. It uses a magnetic drive powerful enough to move a Japanese super train a half mile long. You go from 0-70 in four seconds – backwards. Twisting.
Every year we make at least one trek from our home berth in Port Sheldon, Michigan to Port Washington, WI. The Westward jump across the pond of lake Michigan is usually against the prevailing wind, a 90 mile slog lasting 12 hours with 12-15 knots of wind and 2-4 foot waves on the nose. This is just preparation. Tying up to the beautiful Marina we take a half mile walk to the bus station and motor to the teeming masses of Six Flags Great America. If you can't take a 12 hour slog to windward to get here, than believe me you will never survive the day.
First, it is always fifteen degrees warmer in the park than by the lake. Second, every person in Chicago visits the park on the day you arrive. Third, you are constantly assaulted by every known sensory input you knew possible, and some you didn't. I am deliberately seeking out the crowds and the noise, and plunge ourselves into what is by comparison to relaxing at sea, mass hysteria.
The roller coasters allow you to climb to the sky real slow – clinka, clink, clinka, clink. Soon I can see Lake Michigan from my perch of death. The lake looks so calm, so cool, so relaxing. As the coaster crests it's steel wave and plunges, I ask myself what possessed me to allow someone to drag me up there. Screaming for the longest 30 seconds of my life, I escape by running with my kids to the next ride. The logic of doing this is that there is no logic of doing this. The best part of the morning running around trying to catch all the max coasters is that you have all the water slides to tackle yet. A water slide is much like sailing, except you forgot the boat. Remember the logic.
Ten hours later you have a bus to catch. You are sunburned, dizzy, sore, and your wallet is empty. Just like a good sail on the boat. The journey home is a downwind run with the sun sinking behind you. Thirty miles out you are at peace with the world. The kids (who should be too exhausted to talk) cry out, “Can we do it again tomorrow?”