Tuesday, November 24, 2009

End of an Era

Bill Clinton becomes president.

A powerful bomb explodes in an underground parking garage beneath the World Trade Center, killing six and injuring over 1,000.

Cheers ends its 11-year run and Catastrophe Cathy buys a 1991 Nissan Pickup truck.

What do all these things have in common? They all occurred in 1993. It’s hard to believe but 1993 was the last time I purchased an automobile…until now!

I can’t really say why I waited so long. I guess since my truck kept running there was no pressing need to get a new one. I’ve called my truck a ‘disposable’ pickup for over 5 years. I kept thinking something major would break and I’d be forced to get something newer. But it never happened so I just kept on truckin’. I also liked saving money and not having to worry about something new getting dented or even washed for that matter. Is it wrong to only wash your automobile biannually??? Not if it’s a beat up old truck! .

But finally my boyfriend, father, mother and total strangers on the street convinced me I needed something newer and safer. So after many many hours and much analysis (I am an engineer after all) I narrowed down the numerous options to a small range of years for one make/model. Then I had to wait to find it at a price I could live with. This was no easy task and took over six months of hard work with Edmunds, Kelly Blue Book and Carfax quickly becoming my best friends.

In this supposedly bad economy it seemed surprisingly hard to get what I considered a reasonable deal and I was about to give up. But I got it! A pretty blue 2002 Mercedes SLK hardtop convertible!

When you only do something once every 17 years it’s a big deal and you need to celebrate. I’ve done a few celebratory chest bumps with my boyfriend and a cute little ‘I’ve got a new automobile’ dance. I’m thinking of putting a bow on it for Christmas and of course I will be singing some of the many Mercedes songs. Also, if I’m feeling down I just say ‘hey I have a new Mercedes convertible’ and my world is happy again.

Life is good! I know the car is just a small part of it but I’m thankful for a cute, fun new car that is also safer. I know there are tradeoffs since I spent a lot of money and I will have to wash it more often but it will be fun to cruise with the top down singing for all to hear. Anyone want to buy a well used but well loved Nissan pickup?

Cat “Got my hard top down so my hair can blow” Cathy

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

D-U-M-B-O and Dumbo is the Name Oh!

Yet another day in the big apple with much left on our ‘must do’ list. So we woke up early and took off on our bikes exploring. We biked into a street market just by accident. I always find it exciting to find something you were not expecting so we walked through the market which went on for several blocks and provided some tasty food and fun shopping.

Our first planned stop on our bikes was the Empire state building. It is a ‘must do’ as a first trip to NYC but now that I’ve done it I doubt I would ever do it again. The lines and the wait were just too much and I’ve been in many high buildings before. But it was cool at the top when we tried to call our parents but had no signal. I can only imagine we were too high above the cell towers or it was some security measure. The fencing on the observation deck is wide enough in spots to stick your head through…which of course I did. It was a bit scary to not have my vision blocked at all but also very invigorating.

Our next stop was the Museum of Sex. It sounded interesting in an educational kind of way but ended up being just a few crappy displays and a public porn watching session really. My advice is just skip this and rent a movie at home if that is what you are in to.

Since we were in the downtown area we did some biking on the main streets with the taxis zooming buy us. Although not an official tourist activity it was a blast and much cheaper and more enjoyable than the Museum of Sex or Empire State Building.

Next we biked to the Brooklyn Bridge. It was easy enough to see the bridge from the bike trail on the river but when we got to it we realized we had to cut into the city to actually get on the bridge. It took a bit of work to find the entrance believe it or not. But once we did we were shocked by the crowd. It was packed solid on the walking side. It was a pretty weekend day and I guess everyone was out to enjoy it. Luckily there is a bike only side which we used with a much smaller crowd. Even with the crowd it was a blast biking up and enjoying the view. We stopped at the top and sat on a structure that made us higher than anything but the towers and suspension. The cars were directly below us which was a bit unnerving and yet exciting too.

After a pleasant stay at the top we went down the other side of the bridge to a place called DUMBO – Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. Here we purchased some tasty food to go and ate it in a park while we watched the sun set over the city. We met a couple that was seeing if they could spin around several times and then walk straight. They both did it and then I tried. Somewhere around spin number 8 I fell down and never made the walk. This was something I hadn’t tried since I was a kid and was so much fun!

After sunset we bought some hot chocolate and went back to the top of the Brooklyn Bridge to enjoy it and the view. I felt like queen of the world!

From there we biked back to the hotel to end our long fun day. I find it amazing how the simple and mostly free activities of the day were what I enjoyed the most. In this difficult economic time it is good to have reminders like this. A beautiful sunset, acting like a kid and spending time with the one you love are all fabulous and free!

Cat “truly a dizzy blonde” Cathy

Thursday, November 12, 2009

St. Cathy’s River

My boyfriend and I were trying to decide about what to do on a mid October Saturday morning in Florida and I suggested mountain biking seeing as it should be cool out. Unfortunately the weather man didn’t realize this and scorching hot weather was forecasted for the entire weekend. So a last minute plan of jet skiing the St John’s River was decided.

We took his two sit down jet skis. As a 21 year veteran of stand up jet skis I’m almost a little embarrassed to say I rode a sit down and even took pictures of it thereby providing damning evidence. I’ve always said I wouldn’t use a sit down until I was 65 years old. But it was colder water and was supposed to just be a chill day so what the heck…sit downs here I come.

The St. John’s River was so empty I renamed it the St. Cathy’s River…I guess other Floridians had planned for colder weather activities too. With few people around we saw lots of wildlife including manatees and birds and gators…oh my. We ate lunch at what qualifies as an ‘upscale’ restaurant on the river. I think that just means flip flops are preferred over bare feet. We rode over 70 miles and hardly got wet thanks to the comfy sit down jet skis and finished the ride with a beautiful sunset on the river! It was a nice ‘local’ adventure and a great way to spend the day.

So if you ever have the chance, rent a pontoon and cruise the St. Cathy’s (John’s) River. But you might want to wait until summer since it is finally starting to get cold now.

Cat “Gator Bait” Cathy

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Kite Runner

Ever see a really good movie that just sticks with you? You think about it for days afterwards and end up doing a Google search to get more facts. I love when this happens but it just doesn’t seem to happen often enough. Maybe I’m just getting older and no longer the ‘target audience’ but I’m tired of movies that are just explosions and T&A. I want more from a movie than that and I found it recently when a coworker loaned me The Kite Runner. I was talking about my horrible attempts to learn kite boarding so he loaned me this movie. Even though the movie has ‘kite’ in the title, I soon found out that it has nothing to do with kite boarding. So even though it didn’t help me improve my kite boarding skills I am still glad he loaned me this movie.

The Kite Runner is about two boys in Afghanistan. It is cute at parts but mostly a little sad and even disturbing. But it makes you think, gives you some insight into another culture and some insight into recent history that until now just seemed like something that happened really far away and not for me to worry about. The movie made me cry and made me wish for a better world.

I won’t give away much of the plot but if you want a slower moving and more intellectual movie then give it a try. It’s on video and even free at your local library. I don’t want to scare you away but I have to let you know you will have to read subtitles unless you understand ‘Afghaneese’ or whatever language they were speaking.

Cat ‘Two Thumbs Up ‘Cathy