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My vacation countdown has officially entered the single digits, so my brain–usually bouncing off the wall with blogging ideas–is stuck in WORK.PACK.PANIC mode. I don’t know about anyone else, but the final days before vacation are so tense for me; it’s not until I’m at the airport–through security with boarding pass in hand–that I realize this is supposed to be fun. (And I don’t want to think that far ahead, but this article discusses how there really is no such thing as post-vacation bliss; most of the happiness of a vacation comes before and during the trip. Then we just all snap back to baseline. Wah.)
But at least we don’t have any hurricane clean-up to worry about before we leave. As it turns out, Irene was ever-so-kind to our little South Jersey community: Our trees stayed intact, we never lost power, and thanks to some last-minute gutter work courtesy of my husband, our basement remained water free. So for us, thankfully, “Splash Mountain” turned off the water canons and graced us instead with a gentle misting spray. There was a lot of damage elsewhere, though, and plenty of people are still walking around the Magic Kingdom in their squishy socks and shoes and soaked-through shorts and T-shirts. (OK, Disney analogy ends…now.)
So, aside from doing all the normal hurricane prep work like digging out our flashlights (and accidentally getting battery acid all over your hand), turning down the refrigerator/freezer temperatures (wow, that made for some solid-as-a-rock frogurt the next day), and buying the essential nonperishable food items (seems like everyone turned into carb-loading ultramarathoners overnight), Bryan and I added a few unique tasks to the list:
Environmentally friendly water storage. Which is what happens when every store is out of bottled water and you need to get creative.
Sleeping on the living room floor instead of upstairs, to stay as clear as possible from the roof. This picture makes an impromptu living room sleepover look fun; it was not. No much how much bedding you use, the floor is still hard (and sleeping on the couch is just awkward). I don’t know how we did it back then in our elementary school days.
After being holed up in the house for about 24 hours, I was going so stir-crazy. The worst of the storm was over by Sunday morning, but it was still too dangerously windy outside for me to consider taking a stroll down my ancient-tree-lined neighborhood. I did some yoga–that calmed me down for a while–but later in the afternoon I was desperate. I picked up my 6-pound medicine ball and told Bryan to play “catch” with me in the living room.
I know a lot of people come to this blog after searching for “medicine ball exercises,” so if you’re looking for some rainy-day fitness fun, here are some ideas, to be done with a partner:
• Underhand toss, with squat. Stand with legs a little wider than hip-distance apart. Keeping head, neck, and spine aligned, squat down as though sitting in a chair with ball held low between the legs. From this low position, toss ball to partner with an underhand throw, using biceps and inside forearm as the active muscles. Person catching the ball can do a quick grab and lower into this starting position on the catch.
• Overhand toss, with or without squat. Hold ball to upper chest with palms facing outward. Toss ball to partner with a “pushing” kind of motion (kind of like taking a foul shot in basketball). You’ll feel this in the triceps. Partner catches the ball with hands in same position. Adding a small squat (with legs hip-distance apart) intensifies the move.
• One-hand underhand toss. If you are like me and have hypermobile joints, I do not recommended this with a 6-pound ball (my shoulders were aching the next day–an “ouch” ache, not a “good workout” ache). Basically, we were mimicking a bowling kind of motion, stepping out with the one leg and tossing the ball underhand with the opposite arm, as though rolling a bowling ball down the alley. Partner catches the ball in standard catch fashion. I think I would have been fine with 4 pounds or so, but those 6 pounds made my rotator cuff so wonky.
• On the other hand, 6 pounds was too light for the back-to-back ball exchange, in which you stand back to back with your partner, holding the ball with two hands. Turn to right and pass ball to partner (his left). Partner swivels around to other side as you swivel around to meet him on your left side, grabbing ball from him and swiveling to your right, so on and so forth. Do a few repetitions in one direction and then switch sides. This was ridiculously easy with 6 pounds and we gave up after a few rounds. Would have been much more effective with at least 12 pounds.
We kept at it for about 10 minutes, and I worked up a pretty decent sweat! It was a great way to combine keeping conversation with my husband, having fun, and beating the hurricane-day fidgets.
Fortunately the winds died down right before the sun set, so we were able to go on a pleasant walk around town at dusk. Post-hurricane weather is wacko–it was absolutely gorgeous outside! Blue skies, beautiful clouds, chirping birds…all very strange juxtaposed next to severed tree limbs and saturated leaves plastered all over the roads.
How did you beat the rainy-day, Hurricane Irene weekend blues?
Splash Mountain is one of the coolest rides at Walt Disney World. There’s a catchy soundtrack, the audio-animatronics inside are delightful, and the foreboding ascent and steep drop down Chick-a-Pin Hill give the attraction its “E-Ticket” status. However, there’s a risk one must take before accepting to embark on this ride of a lifetime:
You May Get Wet.
Despite the attraction’s name, the numerous warnings posted throughout the queue, and the fact that water canons visibly shoot jets of the wet stuff on the descending log boats, there are always people who exit the ride mad that their pants are soaked through and their shoes and socks a bit squishy. So many people, in fact, that Disney recently made some changes to the ride which eliminated the excess blasts of water.
Unfortunately, the next big attraction headed our way cannot be calmed by a few mechanical adjustments and an extra verse of “Zip-A-Dee-Do-Da”:
Welcome to Hurricane Irene. You may get wet.
When I started writing this post yesterday, Irene was predicted to hit New Jersey as a Category 2 hurricane, something I’ve never experienced in my lifetime (it’s since been downgraded to a Category 1, but still–it’s a hurricane! They’re closing the New York City subway for crying out loud!!). The last major hurricane I remember coming our way was Floyd, in 1999. I was a sophomore in college then, living in youthful ignorance on the university campus. The storm was fun; it was something to get excited about. A bunch of students stood out in the torrential rain, mud-diving into the slosh pit that had formed by a small creek. However, now I’m a homeowner in my 30s. I live in a house surrounded by huge trees. My husband and I have two cars sitting in the driveway under said trees. We have a refrigerator and freezer full of expensive foods from Wegmans and Whole Foods. Our precious sump-pump, which has always saved us from any basement flooding, is at the mercy of working electricity.
I was filled with anxiety yesterday morning, not sure what “to do” about the impending storm. We had a once-in-a-hundred-years earthquake just days ago; it was frightening at the time, but it was completely unexpected and caught everyone by surprise. There was nothing “to do” beforehand. With this hurricane, though, there is the gift/curse of foresight, and being able to watch that churning mass of weather off the Atlantic coast made me feel like I had “to do” something. Mostly, worry.
Just like the dozens of “You may get wet” signs posted along the Splash Mountain queue, the news stations are posting all kinds of warnings and precautions.
On Splash Mountain, yes, even though you may get wet, there are plenty of things you can do to protect yourself from the threat of the water jet. You can tuck your camera and phone into a plastic bag. Remove your watch so it doesn’t get damaged. Perhaps change into sandals before embarking instead of wearing socks and shoes that could turn into mush. Some people don ponchos throughout the whole ride.
Here in New Jersey, we’ve taken similar precautions for Hurricane Irene. We stocked up on nonperishable foods; we have plenty of flashlights scattered all over the house. Our basement floor is cleared of anything that could be damaged by water. My husband cleaned the gutters yesterday and adjusted the downspouts. We’ll be charging our laptops and phones and iPods one last time tonight, cranking the refrigerator temperature down to its coldest setting. I’ve already decided we’re sleeping downstairs tonight so we’re as far away as possible from the tree limbs that hang near our bedroom windows.
We have no choice; we’re riding the ride now, so we just have to follow the rules and prepare for splash-down. Of course I am still worried, but I am trying to let go of the things I cannot control. I don’t particularly like getting drenched on Splash Mountain, but that doesn’t mean I skip the ride entirely or spend the first 6 minutes of the ride whimpering, oblivious of the animated storyline unfolding around me. With Irene, even all the worrying in the world can’t stop electricity from going out or tree branches falling–we’ve put on our metaphorical ponchos and just have to enjoy the ride, I suppose.