Sunday, December 30, 2012

Across Tennessee: Elvis, Pandas, and The Creepiest Motel 6 on the Planet

After we left Gatlinburg, we were definitely on our way home.  However, we had a few days left and a few new places to see.

We didn't spend much time in Nashville, and it rained the whole time we WERE there, but we did manage to walk around Broadway, aka Honky Tonk Row.  I had read about Hatch Show Print and really wanted to see it.  It's this old print shop on Broadway that still screen-prints posters for all sorts of events.  It was old and funky and really cool to visit:
I kept my eyes peeled for a glimpse of Keith Urban (he and Nicole DO live in Nashville, after all) but the closest I came was a ginormous handbag covered in photos of him.  It was a bit much, so I passed, but I DID buy a guitar-shaped spatula that I now refer to as my Keith Urban Memorial Spatula.

Our hotel messed up our reservations (which was fine, because it was a pretty skeevy place) so we decided to drive on and see how far we got.  We made it all the way to Memphis, ready to find someplace cheap to sleep for a few hours.  Mission accomplished!  We managed to find the creepiest Motel 6 east of the Mississippi.  (I think they had a plaque.)  As if the rent-a-cop guarding the property weren't enough, our "non-smoking" room reeked of smoke and had an ashtray on the dresser, for our convenience.  You know you are scraping the bottom of the barrel when you are just grateful there is no hair in the sink.

However, after we woke up and got out of that room as fast as we possibly could, things could only get better, and they did.  After treating ourselves to breakfast at Cracker Barrel (pancakes, finally!) we headed on over to the Memphis Zoo:
 (We're walking like Egyptians, can't you tell?)  Now, you know I am a fan of zoos, and I can generally find something good to say about any zoo, but believe me when I say that THIS zoo is truly spectacular, one of the best I have ever been to.  I am sure it helped that the weather was cloudy and blissfully not hot, but weather aside, this is just a beautiful zoo with a terrific variety of animal exhibits and interaction programs.  The top priority for me at this zoo was the pandas, Ya Ya and Le Le:
I fell in love with the pandas!  They are one of only four pairs in the whole United States--the others are in San Diego, Washington DC, and Atlanta.  We got to watch them eat their bamboo, have a drink of water, and do a lot of sleeping.  They were enchanting.

We also got to feed a giraffe named Kenya, which was a hoot:
We also fed budgies:
All of the animals at the Knoxville Zoo were either asleep or hiding (or both) and while all the animals at the Chattanooga Zoo were awake, there were only 3 or 4 of them, so it wasn't really the ultimate zoo experience.  But Memphis Zoo, oh, Memphis Zoo was definitely worth the price of admission.

After the zoo we went downtown and rode the vintage streetcar to Beale Street, where we ate lunch and browsed through all manner of Elvis souvenirs.  Then, on our way out of town, we drove past Graceland:
With two tired kids in tow, Graceland would definitely NOT have been worth the price of admission.  (FYI, it's really expensive.)  So no Jungle Room or gold Cadillac, just the gates.

And then we were on our way home!  After one last motel, where all the crickets in Texas go to die (but at least there was no smoke OR hair in the sink), we made it home:
The Wheats made us a fab banner, which as soooo nice.  I took a picture of our trip odometer just to prove how far we had gone:
Hoo-boy!  What a trip.  I am so glad we went.

Great Smoky Mountains: Birthdays, Bears, and Waterfalls

I had long wanted to see Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  It's the most-visited National Park in the nation and contains some of the oldest ecosystems on the planet.  The Appalachian Trail passes through it, and the park is chock-full of waterfalls.  What's not to love?

Gatlinburg TN bumps right up to the park border and is composed mostly of hotels, so I decided that would be the most convenient place to stay.  After two days of driving the Blue Ridge Parkway nearly all by our lonesome we entered the park in the dark of night.  (The Parkway ends at the North Carolina entrance to the park.) Peaceful Parkway gave way to dark Park, and it took us about and hour to drive through to the other side.  The MOMENT we left the park and entered Gatlinburg, our senses were assaulted by flashing lights, traffic, multiple Ripley's attractions of dubious interest, hotels and motels, fudge shops (?), and a ridiculous number of pancake houses.  It was horrifying.  Greg called it Hillbilly Holiday Heaven.  I didn't even have the desire to buy a postcard there, and I LOVE postcards!

Our motel, Carr's Northside Cottages, was a good deal, spacious and clean.  It was a two-bedroom apartment and was decorated in a style I can only describe as Early BYU Dorm, but it worked.  Natalie turned four years old while we were there:
(Note the lovely curtains.)  We found My Little Pony cupcakes at a supermarket in Asheville NC, and she was VERY excited about them:
We spent a couple days in the Park, hiking to every waterfall within a reasonable distance:
We bought Natalie her very own walking stick in hopes that it would make her a more enthusiastic hiker. (Nice try.)  It rained quite a bit while we were there, which is apparently par for the course in the Smokies, but we still managed to do and see quite a bit.  Greg took a nice run that covered part of the AT, and one morning I got up really early and rode the Cades Cove Loop:
It was stunningly beautiful, and chock-full of wildlife.  I saw deer and wild turkeys, and yes, a black bear!  I turned a corner and met a group of riders standing stock-still on the trail, staring off across a meadow.  There at the edge was a black bear, trundling towards the trees.  It was one of the highlights of my trip.

All the rain caused the waterfalls to swell considerably, and the last one we hiked to, Laurel Falls, was so full that it was surging right over the bridge.  Of COURSE we had to go stand IN the waterfall:
The water was freezing cold and really powerful.  Natalie loved it, but it made Ella cry.  (We made her stand there for a picture anyway.  Such good parenting!)  I've got to say, it was really cool.

We did not visit any Ripley's "attractions" (although I hear the aquarium is actually pretty amazing), nor did we indulge ourselves in any of the abundant dinner theater options (the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud, for example, or the Lumberjack Feud, and no, I am not kidding), nor the 10+ go-cart establishments lining the highway through Pigeon Forge (proud home of Dollywood).  We didn't even eat any pancakes, or fudge!  So, it can probably be said that we did not have the quintessential Gatlinburg experience, more's the pity.  The park, though, was a great time.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Blue Ridge Parkway: The Top of the World

It took most of two days, but we drove all 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway, starting west of Charlottesville, VA and ending at the south entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina.  It was the most amazing drive.  It follows the ridge line of the mountains and many times as we drove there were breathtaking views both to the left and right of the road.  The turn-outs were plentiful, the rest stops clean and well marked.  We ate dinner one night in Mount Airy, NC, where Andy Griffith was born--there was a vintage black-and-white police car a la Mayberry in front of every other business.  We took a detour to visit Mast General Store in Valle Crucis, NC--the oldest general store in the country.  It was all sloping floorboards and creaky stairs--loved it!  We would have gone to the top of Mount Mitchell, the highest point on the Parkway, but by the time we got there the mountain was experiencing a very localized and rather fierce rainstorm, so we took a picture out of the car window and moved on. We spent two days on top of the world with very few other cars or people.  It was so, so beautiful.

Charlottesville: TJ, Canoeing, and Sketch

About a year ago I got it in my head that I HAD to see the Schills.  If you read my last post, you know that I met the Schill family 15 years ago when I was a missionary in Seattle, Washington.  They invited me into their home and their family, and I fell in love.  I got to see them several times after my mission, but then they moved to Virginia and I was in Texas having kids, and suddenly it had been 8 years since we had been together.  Their oldest daughter, Annilyn, returned home from her mission in Siberia (seriously, Siberia--and she TOTALLY wanted to got there) in December, and daughter #2, Erin, would be leaving on her mission over the summer, so I decided that Summer 2012 would be one last chance to see most, if not all, of the family together.  It turned out that Lynnie stayed in Utah for the summer, so I didn't get to see her, but everyone else was home.  And we had SO MUCH FUN!

The day before we were to drive from Knoxville to Crozet, VA (where the Schills live in an honest-to-goodness holler) I got a phone call from Mary Ann saying that due to a huge storm, they had no power and were not likely to get power for several days.  Well, too bad, we were coming anyway.  I did NOT drive all that way to NOT see the Schills--they were the whole reason for the trip!  Luckily they were completely fine having guests in a no-power situation as long as were okay with it, and we were.  It was hot for a few days, but Texas is worse.  We had hats and deodorant--we were good.

Mike Schill is a professor at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, so our first stop was The Lawn.  We were told that Thomas Jefferson (aka TJ) is alive and well in Charlottesville--he is referred to in present tense, and his wishes are consulted in all city and university planning.  He did found, plan, and build the university, after all.  Here we are standing in front of TJ's Rotunda: Erin, Emily, Mary Ann, Stuart, Mike, Katie, Greg, Ella, Aimee, and Natalie down front.

After a tour of the campus (we saw the room Edgar Allen Poe lived in, and also Katie Couric's room) and a yummy lunch at Bodo's Bagels we returned to the holler.  (I kid not--they live on Sugar Hollow Road.)  We were not a little hot and grimy, so we drove up the holler to the swimming hole.  As we drove, Erin, Stuart, Emily, and Aimee tutored us on what, exactly, defines "sketch".  It was something they talked about a lot, and we were intrigued.  The word itself paints a pretty good picture, and it is applied to all things pertaining to redneck mountain culture--drinking, swearing, guns, you get the picture.  Stuart said you have to be careful with the swimming holes closest to the road because, and I quote, "Sketch doesn't hike."  When we reached the swimming hole the kids surveyed the area and declared it safe--there was only one car, and it appeared to be a family-type vehicle.  We walked down to the water and Erin turned to me in half horror and half hilarity--there was a gun sitting on a rock right by the water.  We cracked up and discussed, in hushed tones, what its purpose might be--to shoot fish, perhaps?  Shooting fish is definitely sketch.  We had a fine time at the hole, though, and nobody even got shot, though we were at one point visited by a sketchy old mountain man, wearing only swimming trunks and nursing a beer.  Here are Ella, Natalie, and Aimee, searching for tadpoles:

One day we went for pulled pork sandwiches at Blue Ridge Pig, right at the top of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We're making piggy faces, see?

We picked peaches at an orchard near the Schills' house and they were soooo delicious:

That night for dessert we had fresh peach ice cream:

We spent a whole day canoeing/kayaking down the James River, which was AMAZING.  The water was warm and so clear that you could see the fish swimming by (I saw a gar) and the beer cans on the bottom (sketch).  The Schills' boats are named Perrier, Frommage, and Baguette--Mike and Mary Ann both served French-speaking missions.  We paddled upstream for a bit until we reached a nice rapid, which we went down a couple times in our life vests before taking the boats down.  ON the first run, Ella somehow ended up being the first one through, and it was a wild ride.  I came through to see her fighting tears, it was so scary for her.  Then Natalie came down with Greg and immediately said, "I want to do that again!"  So we did it one more time--even Ella!  She was really brave.  Then we paddled downriver to a big rock, perfect for jumping.  It was a really, really great day.

We were all so sad to leave the Schills--we had SO much fun!  I got to catch up with my dear friends, Greg got to really understand why I love them so much, and my daughters made some new heroes.  (The Schill girls played ENDLESS games of  "The Little Mermaid" with Natalie.  Heaven!)  It was well worth the drive.  In fact, I am already planning another one in a couple years.  Greg makes fun of me mercilessly, saying that this time we'll go by way of Seattle and return by way of the Florida keys.  Very funny.  Although, some of the country's best wooden roller coasters are ONLY in Indiana, which is basically on the way to Virginia...

We love you, Schills!  Thank you SO MUCH for everything!

Monday, September 10, 2012

I Love the Schills!

Before I continue posting about our trip, I need to pause to pay homage to the Schill family, as they are the reason I planned the trip to Virginia and back in the first place.  As way of introduction, here are some actual journal entries from my actual mission journals, interspersed with photos that don't necessarily correspond, but it's the best I could do, okay?

Tuesday September 9, 1997
            "Sister Schill paid me such a huge compliment the other night when we were at their house for dinner.  We had waffles.  It was so fun!  I love their girls (Annilyn, Erin, and Emily).  I read them Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle one night when we stopped by.  Sister Schill said that Brother Schill had been saying that he looks at me and sees his own girls on missions.  Could they pay me a higher compliment?"
 Tuesday September 23, 1997
            "We visited Sister Schill and I don’t remember how we led into this, but she said that Brother Schill had said a couple days ago that Hna Childs and I are two of the best sisters he’s ever worked with, almost up there with sister so-and-so who apparently is the epitome of missionary work.  That made my day!  That’s an excellent compliment in and of itself, but coming from the Schills it means even that much more."
 Monday September 29, 1997
            "I got to read yet another bedtime story to the Schill girls tonight.  They are so cool.  We caught up with them as they were on an “adventure hike” in search of the Liahona (ie the pictures of the apostles in the high council room).  Emily was clumping along on plastic high heels.  She cracks me up."
 Wednesday January 7, 1998
            "It has been fun to surprise everyone.  The first people we visited were the Schills.  Brother Schill is off interviewing and having a hectic life, while Sister Schill is home with the girls, having a hectic life.  It was nice to be back there, talking to her.  She said I remind her of a companion of hers who was always sent to the armpits of the mission but was the best sister in the mission.  The Schills have a way of catching me off guard with the most sincere compliments."
Sunday February 22, 1998
            "The highlight of the fireside occurred after it was over, while standing and talking with the Schills and the Bakers.  All of a sudden we looked down to see Emily with her diaper down around one knee.  Sister Schill looked down and instead of being embarrassed, exclaimed, “Well, MIKE, this must be YOUR child taking off her diaper!”  I was laughing so hard.  Brother Schill removed the offending diaper and discreetly hid it in his coat, then picked Emily up and tried to keep her bum covered."

The Schills were my family while I was on my mission.  They took care of me, fed me, made me the most fabulous Washington birthday cake (see above), taught me how to play The Great Dalmuti, lifted me up when I was down, let me be a part of their family, and loved me.  After my mission, they introduced me to the wonderful world of Harry Potter, danced at my wedding, let me come visit multiple times, and even drove across the country to see me.  I am having a hard time writing this without crying, I love them so much.  Since I met them, I have aspired to be them when I grow up.  I have always wanted my family to be just like theirs, and have adopted (okay, blatantly stolen) many of their family traditions.  Now their oldest daughter, Anniliyn, has returned from her mission in Russia and their second daughter, Erin, is just starting her mission on Temple Square in Salt Lake City.  It blows me away that they are now where I once was, and my fondest wish is that my own girls will someday be where the Schill girls are now.  I love you, Schills!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Chattanooga: Aquarium, Fireworks, and Choo-Choo

We attended church outside of New Orleans and then embarked on another big day of driving.  We were in five states in one day: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee.  And may I state for the record that it is absolutely amazingly dull that stretch of I-59 is?  As far as I could tell from the freeway, Mississippi and Alabama are largely unpopulated.  (And may I also say that when we drove through Baton Rouge a few days earlier I pulled out the Garth Brooks?  Oh, yeah!)  Here is Natalie in her road trip tent:
Super cozy!  She refuses to nap at home anymore, but she did a lot of napping in her car tent, for which we were all grateful.

Chattanooga was lots of fun.  I chose it as a place to stop for a few days on our route because there were lots of fun things to do there with kids.  Our first stop was the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway:
 The website says: "Known as “America’s Most Amazing Mile,” The Incline’s trolley-style cars climb through the natural beauty surrounding historic Lookout Mountain at a breathtaking 72.7% grade – straight up!"  It was a really fun ride.  When we sat down in the car at the bottom, we were reclined.  By the time we got to the top we were sliding out of our seats! Here is a look at the tracks--you can see the station at the top:
The view from the top of Lookout Mountain was fantastic.  We walked to Point Park, site of a key Civil War battle.  The mountain is so steep that the soldiers had a hard time loading the cannons--the cannon balls kept rolling back out!  Here we are at Point Park, the Tennessee River below us:
Next we visited the Tennessee Aquarium, possibly the best I have ever been to.  There are two separate buildings, the Ocean Experience and the River Experience, and in each one you rode an escalator to the top floor and worked your way down.  The exhibits were beautiful and interactive, lots of fun for kids.  I was sure I would prefer the Ocean Experience, but the River Experience was even better.  Our favorite part was a touch tank where we could pet sturgeon--we'd never done that before!  Here we are touching stingrays on the top floor of the Ocean Experience.  One guy whom we named Flappy passed us over and over again so we could touch his slimy back.  Natalie could have stayed there all day:
 Ella and Nat got up close and personal with some huge lobsters:
The next day we had an unexpected extra day in Chattanooga due to massive power outtages in Virgina, where we were headed (more on that to come) so Greg ran the trails up to the top of Lookout Mountain (and acquired a tick, which he discovered on his leg while we were driving the next day--I'll spare you that picture) while the girls and I got very lost following a faulty map to the Chattanooga Zoo, which we did eventually find.  (Oh, did we giggle as we drove around in hopeless circles.)  The zoo pamphlet propaganda made me laugh:

"Imagine a zoo that's specially designed to bring the animals up close to you.  Imagine a zoo where you have time to notice the subtleties of animal behavior, instead of being pushed along by an impatient crowd.  Imagine an exciting and diverse zoo that's still easy to navigate with strollers...or little legs.  That's the new Chattanooga Zoo!"

Translation: "This is the tiniest zoo you have ever been to."

Still, it was nice.  We especially like the peacocks that were kind enough to strut their stuff for us:

For some reason Chattanooga celebrated The 4th of July on the 3rd (this seems to be all the rage these days--last year Centerville, Utah celebrated on the 2nd.) so we got to take part.  We had yummy Greek food downtown, then walked across the 122-year-old Walnut Street pedestrian bridge to Coolidge Park.  Here we are on the bridge, crossing the Tennessee River:
On the river's edge at Coolidge Park we rode a beautiful vintage carousel and played in an interactive fountain, then settled down on the grass to enjoy live music, eat sno-cones, and watch the fireworks.  It was a relaxed, family-friendly event on a beautiful night, and it is now the 4th that all future 4ths will have to live up to.  I loved being together as a family, celebrating our love for our country.  Here are Ella and Nat on the grass, celebrating in style:

New Orleans: Streetcars, Mansions, and Beignets

At the end June, as soon as swim team was over, we packed the minivan (food, Play-Doh, craft supplies, and many, many movies) and headed out on a 16-day epic road trip to Virginia and back.  I had been looking forward to and planning this trip for months--it was our reward for making it through the first year of teaching Seminary, and I had so much fun choosing routes, researching hotels, deciding which zoos to visit, etc.  It was a great trip.  I had been yearning to take a family road trip for years, to see parts of our country that we had never seen, but our kids weren't ready yet.  And while Natalie is still on the small side (After listening to her whine nonstop as we walked around New Orleans, I bought a cheap umbrella stroller at K-Mart for her to ride in.  Best $17 we spent the whole trip.) both girls did really well.  I absolutely loved having two weeks of adventures together.

So, on a Friday morning we drove almost 10 hours from San Antonio to...

New Orleans!  Oh, my.  I love New Orleans.  I had wanted to go there for many, many years, but was intimidated by the city's rather risque reputation.  I wasn't sure it would be a good place to take our kids, but after reading a great online article about things to do with kids in The Big Easy, I decided we should go.  I am SO glad we did!  I loved that it looked exactly like I had imagined it, and like no other place I had ever been.  The French Quarter was fantastic, but wait--I'm getting ahead of myself.  First we took a walk around the Garden District, where the houses look like this:
Amazing!  Mansion after mansion, with the lush hanging plants and the wrought iron balconies.  I loved it.  Natalie and Ella liked the hitching posts:
Our hotel (chosen because the room had a loft with two twin beds reached by a spiral staircase) was two blocks from the streetcar, and we rode the St. Charles Avenue streetcar from end to end, marveling at the elaborate mansions all along the way.  The drivers were shockingly surly, but we loved riding the clanky old streetcars:
Okay, NOW we can talk about the French Quarter.  The beignets at Cafe du Monde were soooo good.  The cafe was jammed with people, so we waited in the take-out line for our tasty treats.  All they serve is coffee and beignets, which are basically square donuts dredged in powdered sugar, hot and crunchy and chewy and sweet.  Eating beignets at Cafe du Monde was the quintessential New Orleans experience, and we loved it:
Right next to Cafe du Monde were stairs that led to the top of the levee.  This was the view from the top:
I could have stared at that view of the St. Louis Cathedral all day, because it is so famous and I was right there!  Behind us was the Mississippi River, wide and green.  Jackson Square is the open area in front of the church, and it is full of vendors selling their "art", street performers, and fortune tellers--it was really amusing to walk by and hear someone having their fortune read.  I'm talking crystal balls, the whole nine yards.  Natalie decided at one point to take a rest on the Square:
And here we are in the French Quarter.  We avoided Bourbon Street, which really is rather unsavory, full of XXX and bars, but there is SO much more to the French Quarter than Bourbon Street.  It is definitely old and crumbly in places, and you have to watch your step because the sidewalks are wonky, but it is jam-packed with charm.  Keep in mind that we were there mostly during the day, but I never felt unsafe, and everything was pretty clean.  Old, but clean.  And oh my goodness, so hot, but I loved it:

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Ella Turns 9

Ella is really into Legos, so she had a Lego birthday party.  Here's the invitation:
All the Lego party ideas that I found online were for boys' parties, so I adapted some ideas and made others up on my own.  I did copy this garland from someone else:
Then I left it up for several weeks because I wanted to enjoy it a little longer.  (And because I am lazy, I admit it.)  We played games--guess how many Legos in the jar, memory with matching Legos hidden under cups, and that game where you bring out a tray of stuff, study itm take it away, and try to remember everything that was on it.  I made cupcakes instead of a cake because, well, I love cupcakes, and also because all the homemade Lego cakes I saw online were horrible.

I also made Lego minifigure pudding pops using the super cool popsicle mold Jake and Lora brought us from Legoland.  Good times.  Happy Birthday, Ella!


WARNING: This post contains graphic photos of a naked foot.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

So I have been in bed forever.  I am surprised that my Netflix account doesn't sigh and say, "You AGAIN, Katie Willden?" every time I log on.  I've read a few books.  Meh.  I have gotten quite a bit of Seminary prep done, which is good considering I had been putting it off all summer knowing I was going to be bedridden in August, anyway.  I caught up on several months worth of Cake Wrecks posts--that was pretty fun, actually.  I could use some more Olympics action, but unfortunately that's all over.  (What was your favorite London moment?  Discuss.)  So I figure since I am stuck in bed and Netflix and I are on a break, maybe I should catch up the blog before school starts in a week and it becomes all New Testament, all the time.  So here goes.

We took an excellent vacation in July (more on that to come).  So much fun.  Upon arriving home I immediately got back into the biking to the pool and swimming laps routine I had been enjoying all summer, and in a moment of virtuous good-for-me energy I decided to add on some resistance training in order to counteract all of the vacation calories.  One morning as I was doing step-ups at the bottom of our stairs, I came down on my right foot very badly, heard something pop, and collapsed on the floor.  I spent a couple of minutes rolling around in agony, then when I could talk I called Greg and gasped out something like, "Hurt foot.  On floor.  Come home now."  He came home, eased off my shoe, and assessed the situation.  When he said I should probably try to stand on it, I started to cry because it hurt so much just laying there.  Went to the foot doctor (lately I see him more often than I do most of my family members), x-rays were inconclusive, but an MRI later showed that the foot was not broken but badly sprained.  Here's the first gross foot shot:
The writing on the foot is where the foot doctor poked me and made me cry.  I cried a lot that day.  The irony of the whole situation is that when I sprained the foot, I already had an appointment to have surgery on the same foot three weeks later.  I had already been planning on being out of commission, but I was planning on having three more weeks of biking, swimming, and, you know, walking around without pain.  I was bummed.

BUT...  The good news is that my mom got here a few days before the surgery to stay for three whole weeks, to take care of Ella and Nat so I could convalesce.  Yay!  The morning after she arrived, I was downstairs enjoying my Frosted Mini Wheats when I heard a thump, some crying, and my mom saying, "Go put some Neosporin on it." (Incidentally, that's what she probably would have told me to do about my foot as I was rolling around on the floor--she's very big on the healing properties of Neosporin.)  So Ella came downstairs and I inspected what I assumed was a trifling injury.  She had turned around and run into the edge of a door, and she was a bit bloody around the eyebrow.  I was wondering where the Neosporin was when she rubbed her eyes and the wound gaped open.  Oh!  Suddenly I was very calmly calling all the nurses I know, one of whom said to just take her to urgent care, which I did.  Three stitches later, here we were:
(Actually, I took that picture yesterday.  For a couple of days after the injury she had a pretty nice shiner.)

And two days later I had surgery!  Fun for all.  I had a chevron bunionectomy, which was almost as fun as it sounds.  Actually, the surgery itself was fine.  The conversations between the nurses and the anesthesiologist were like a comedy routine, and the drugs worked like a dream.  It was all unbelievably easy until an hour after I got home, when I became horribly sick.  Dang those drugs, lulling me into a sense of health and happiness.  I got over it, only to have a horrible psychedelic nightmare that made me think that maybe the narcotics (Codeine) I had been taking for pain weren't such a good idea.

Since then, I have been taking it easy.  The foot generally doesn't feel too bad unless I walk on it, which I try not to do.  When the bandages were removed at my post-op appointment, this is what was revealed:
I'm kind of in awe of how gross it looks, but it also does not look like I have a bunion anymore, which is good.  And I'll be back in the pool in a couple weeks, so look out Missy Franklin!  (Not really.  I am almost a foot shorter than her, probably many pounds heavier, and literally old enough to be her mother.  But boy, can she backstroke!)