Day at the Office

Day at the Office
All Terrain Vehicle
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. - Phillppians 3:14

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Team Elliott Realistic Christmas Letter 2013

Well Well….here we are again friends…I say friends because if you got one of these…then you are one the friends list…it’s kinda like being on the A list at the Oscar after Party….just saying.  And now I have been asked by the Hott Wife to write this stinking Christmas letter…make that realistic Christmas Letter.

Big time for Team Elliott this year…BIG BIG TIME…and with that I have to start with the lovely Mrs. Elliott…she turned the BIG  40 this year…and so we celebrate…BIG…and I put her on cruise ship with 5 of her wonderful friends…these peeps have been tight since high school…and all turning 40…SO LET’S GO BIG…like fire in the engine room big after being at sea for 2 whole days…that’s right…the lovely Mrs. Elliott was on the Carnival Triumph…adrift at sea for an additional 6 days…with no power, a 10 degree list to the port side…and no toilets, eating onion sandwiches…pooping in red bags….no showers…no power...helicoptering more supplies…like onions for the aforementioned sandwhiches….this all for the girl who considers staying at a Holiday Inn as really roughing it….the girl who ask the front desk before booking a hotel room if the thread count of the sheets is over 500.  But the fun didn’t stop there…oh no…in June the Lovely Mrs. Elliott started having acute pains in the pancreas area…off to the ER to determine that she was suffering from pancreatitis.  Another ER trip about 2 weeks later and a gall bladder removal….and she seems to be a good as new.  Too bad OBAMACARE hadn’t kicked in…because I bet if it had, it would have probably had healed the pancreatitis all by itself. (sarcasm font)  Bren is doing well now…being the most incredible mom and wife...we are thankful for her health and safety.  

Let’s move on to the eldest…Luke…now in the 7th grade…active in Scouts…about become a Star Scout and working on his trail to Eagle.  He still plays the trumpet in the band….and tolerating school with good grades…but he is about to be 13 and I may put him in a barrel with a hole in it…and when he turns 16…cover up the hole.  The surprise for the year comes with Luke…last year he barely knew what a football looked like…and this year he stated that because he couldn’t think of the being in PE, he decided to go out for the football team.  He has never watched a football game little lone play a game.  He suits up….started the season as B Team first string wide receiver and defensive end…his first game had 15 tackles and 6 sacks…and halfway through the season got moved to the A team and started as outside linebacker.  His last game he intercepted a ball and returned it 70 yards for a pick 6!  The team went undefeated in Plano ISD.  He loved it…absolutely loved it…plans on track this spring…and coach indicated that he would be their huddler.

Macy…the old soul…a 30 year old in a 10 year old body…who is now in 5th grade and serves on the student council…a library aid, is a mentor for younger students….and is in the PACE program.   She plays catcher for her softball team and this year was voted by her teammates to be on the All Star Team.  It was an awesome experience.  She is active in Girl Scouts right now…and working toward her Gold Award….I wonder if she is my kid because she is an over achiever BIG TIME.  The highlight of her year…OMGOMGOMG….she went to the Taylor Swift Concert in Cowboy Stadium with her mom and a friend…OMGOMGOMG….I heard it was so AWESOME!!!

Hope…Hope…we all need Hope…Cooking with Gas in the 2nd Grade.  She started playing softball this year…loved it…bats 3rd and usually plays 1st base and pitcher.  Her team won first place this past fall season.  Because of all the cart wheels, round offs, splits and back bends…we have now put her in gymnastics.  She is in Girl Scouts also….and this year we put her in the AWANA program in church.  It’s class for children with HEAVY emphasis on memorizing scripture.   This was her first year…and quickly learned that most of the kids had been already doing this for 2 years….she was behind by 2 books.  That didn’t sit well with her…so she started memorizing like crazy….and before the Christmas break has knocked out the first 2 books and now caught up with everyone else in class.  I wonder where she gets that competitive spirit.  

That brings us to Kyle…age 2…in Mother’s Day Out 2 days a week where the teachers call him “Their Sunshine.”  I know one thing…he can’t talk yet…at least very much…but he keeps us laughing and knows that he is funny.  His brother and sisters adore him…and he can’t stand it when they go off to school….he will go in and out of their rooms looking for them during the week.  He has spent a relative large amount of his life watching a ball game…of a sister and brother…so it is yet to see what kind of sport he gravitates to…number 4 is such a big blessing.

Now there’s me…and every year it’s the same thing….I sound like a broken record….still a straight commission salesman for Timberlake & Dickson…still performs magic….still coach…softball now…still run crazy long…and bicycle even longer…one small change….more time in the weight room and have come to really enjoy that.  

As a family, we went to Pine Cove family camp again this year…the kids absolutely LOVE IT….and so do Mom and Dad…and it’s already been paid for next year too.  Bren and I did take a 5 day trip to Chicago…ventured into Milwaukee one night…saw a Brewers game…then back to Chicago for a Cubs game…sight seeing…and just plain acting like kids again since we didn’t have to be a good example to anyone. 

We want to close again this year…wishing all a Merry Christmas….praying that the Lord blesses you and your family….and that you have a great 2014.

Friday, September 6, 2013

My Two Passions...

These past two weeks have been crazy.  School has started, and all that entails….football and Boy Scouts for Luke, Softball and Girl Scouts for Hope and Macy.  Bren has been recovering from the gall bladder removal in late August…and me…I have been sitting on the couch eating bacon and ice cream.   Ok….maybe not.
 Left to right: Me, Amber, John

 August 24, marked my 4th straight time to ride the Hotter N Hell 100 mile bike ride.  So at 4:00AM that morning you would have found Amber, John and I loaded up and being driven by Don the Sherpa to Wichita Falls.  About 16,000 cyclists descend on the nondescript Texas town…and about 4,500 of those will go the full 100 miles.  The synopsis, we all rode extremely well.  I remember Amber telling me last year after we rode it in 5hr 30min that she wanted to ride it in under 5 hours this year…at which time I looked at her and told her she needed to find a new partner.  Amber saw more potential in me than I saw in myself.  This past year, we trained like on a mission…the leg days in the weight room left me feeling like little Baby Bambi on ice.  We got in and out of some great pelotons…knocking out chunks of miles at 23-26 mph.  In the end…Amber rode it in 4hr 54min (4th in her age group).  I rode it in 5 hr (32 in my age group) and John rode his FIRST century in 5hr 11min…totally EPIC!!!  I have the absolute best teammates…the BEST…and Amber has become that coveted workout partner where communication sometimes is just a look…because we know what the other is thinking.

For recovery, I ran a little 5 mile trail run on Sunday…and then climbed back on the bike 3 more times that week.  Working out with really no purpose for the next couple of weeks…then on to the next endeavor…stay tuned.
Then…the first week of school behind Team Elliott…on to Labor Day weekend…and on to one of the year’s highlights for me, The Texas Association of Magicians convention.
Yes…it’s a passion….and although being a dad, coach, assistance scoutmaster, and husband keep me from performing like I use to…I am perfectly content.  I still practice… I still create magic, write scripts for magic...I still read magic…and yes…I still love magic.  I have been going to this convention since 1997…and 2003 competed and won the “Best in Close up.”
But some things have changed.  I use to go after purchasing and learning the new latest trick…never missing a lecture.  The latest new awesome trick wasn’t the paramount goal this year.  In fact I didn’t see anything that I absolutely had to learn...and perform.
Early Saturday morning I had decided to get in a quick 40 miles on the bike with John, Michael, Desiree and Amber.  I wanted to get back for the 10:30 am lecture on magician, Doug Henning, and had to make a decision to peel off early from the ride.  Amber knew where my heart was and made sure that I would get back in time.  Am I so glad I did!  Chip Romero has a large number of Doug Henning’s illusions and props….and his hour long lecture was a true highlight of the weekend.  Doug was the one who sparked my passion as a boy when he performed for his TV specials.  It was wonderful…and things came full circle.
Doug Henning's illusions including backdrop
That Saturday evening show was my next big event I anxiously awaited. The line up on paper was epic...Tom Mullica as MC…Vegas Headliner, Fielding West,  the “Godfather of Magic” Johnny and Pam Thompson…Rob Zabrecky…the Hollywood Magic Castle Stage Magician of the year for 2011 and 2012.  Rob had a successful career as the front man for the Indie Band “Possum Dixon.”  Only recently has Rob become a name in magic outside the LA scene when he was on the cover of Genii, a magazine for magicians.  I heard he was intriguing, unique and polished. 
The show did not disappoint.  When Rob Zabrecky took the stage, you laughed, you where tense…you relaxed…you couldn’t take your eyes off him…he was dark…he was funny….he was a complete professional performer.  The set was tight…and let us peak into Zabrecky’s world.  He got a standing ovation and I loved it.  After the evening show, Harry Anderson…yes that Harry who  played Harry Stone on “Night Court…said, “Watching Rob was like watching Edgar Allen Poe look for Sudafed.” 
Rob Zabrecky after he received a standing ovation
Sunday was another incredible day.  I met with friends. I watched the professionally close up show.  I got to watch a friend laugh till they cried…and then that evening I went by myself across the street to get something to eat at FREEBIRDS World Famous Burrito.  I had just gotten my order, when Rob Zabrecky got in line.  We acknowledged each other and then he asked if he could join me.  I responded of course…in my mind I said, “ABSOLUTELY YOU CAN JOIN ME…YOU GOT A STANDING OVATION LAST NIGHT…YOU ARE THE STAGE MAGICIAN OF THE YEAR….FOR 2 YEARS IN A ROW!” For an hour we talked about the creative process, about script writing…we talked about our lives and learned that even though we came from vastly different backgrounds, we were a lot alike.  Two guys talking magic…and performing…the angst in the creative process…and how we are never content on where we are in that process.  

There was a wonderful Sunday evening show with all Texas Magicians….and then I retired to the lobby with some old friends.  I have known Mark and Sue Holstein for about 3 years.  Mark is an incredible magician in his own right.  Back when he and Sue lived in Chicago, they had become dear friends with Marshall Brodien and his wife Mary Doyle.  Marshall is an icon in the magic community.  He was a mainstay as Wizzo the Wizard on the WGN-TV's Bozo's Circus from 1968-1994.  He helped create over 200 magic sets and probably had a peripheral impact on the majority of American magicians.  Those four wonderful people asked me to hang out for a bit in the waning hours of a Labor Day Sunday.

I was describing, the other day, these years of my life to a friend as the “Dog Days of my Career.”  Don’t get me wrong.  I love what I do.  But recently these days seem to be a grind at times.  I am too young to retire…and too far along in my career to make an exotic change.  It’s not always extreme excitement “white knuckle ride” and at times like this it can be difficult for me to be content.

Marshall Brodien signing biography my John Morhing
 Those couple of hours with those four people where priceless.  I see the most kind and generous man in the twilight of his career.  I see the grace of a wife and friend who gets her strength from a source greater than herself.  I see a loyal friend and his wonderful wife…unselfish caretakers of others.  I see real magic.  I sit there and think to myself…how blessed I am to get just a few moments with these people.  They are all outstanding in their endeavors…and even more incredible as people…and there I resolved to be content on where I am on the road of life.  Just be content….unless you are racing on a bike…then it’s time to turn up the heat.  Press ON!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Obessive Complusive Disorder...and I wasn't laughing....

Demons…they would swirl around my 7 year old mind…to only exorcise them from me…to live…a normal life…to not have to count….to wash my hands 7 times…because if I didn’t then the germs would attack…and maybe death…not only to me but for the whole family.  Turning the light switch on…off..on…off….onoffonoffonoffonoff…..till the number seemed right….disabilitating …getting dressed was the most awful chore…the numbers, the counting…the redoing something because maybe it just “didn’t seem right” and if I didn’t do…over again….then maybe something bad would someone in my family.

Yes…I suffered from OCD….I had no clue what it was called when I was a kid….I didn’t tell anyone either…. Because they would really think I was crazy.  It really hit me half way through first grade….and I can’t even tell you why…but I know that it started taking me so much longer to finish my work…just coloring a work sheet was an act of being in the throes of hell.
Off and on….for 5 years….it seemed to begin to wane…..till the 6th grade…and then with all its evilness….it  hit…unlocking my combination lock to my locker was a ritual…seven times I must rotate the tumbler…and if I didn’t feel like it was perfect….then start over….I would count….I would not step on a crack…and even if I didn’t ….what if I accidently did….I would have to go back….oh wait…did I lock my lock…I had just pulled on the combination lock seven times….but no…I have to go back…to check…climbing stairs...up and down...updown....updown...till it felt "right."
There have been shows like ‘Monk’ that make it part of the comedy of the show….my life wasn’t a comedy…it wasn’t a joke….then as soon as OCD came on in the first grade…it left the summer before my 7th grade year.  I couldn’t tell you why….was it that I had had enough?…that by works we are not saved?…I don’t know…maybe bio chemical?…I really have no clue.
I don’t struggle now…although nearly every morning I circle back around to check to see if I closed the garage door….but that is about it…maybe this might explain that why I am all in with what I do…..I am  in sales…obsess about it….I want to get in shape…go run an ultra….you want to learn some magic…go compete and win...maybe that’s why?…I don’t have those answers either.
And then today I see this 2 minute video of a guy reciting a poem…about having OCD……..EXACTLY….and until now…I have told no one except my wife what I went through as a kid with OCD…not even my brother…my parents…or my friends.
I now I blogged about it…maybe I need to go wash my hands….seven times…..

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Small World...or How I became Friends with Childhood Idols

There I stood on the porch…I was 12, maybe 13…and the west Texas horizon goes on forever.   If you gaze long enough across the red dirt and cotton fields; you may actually imagine the curvature of the blue marble where we all live.  The world seemed so big…and yet…our little part so insignificant.  My cousin will say that I always said that I wouldn’t live out “here” when I grow up.  I don’t actually remember saying those words…but I remember feeling so isolated from the rest of the big huge awesome world….and I despised that feeling.  Growing up in West Texas does that to some people…the red dirt seems to sand blasts the feeling of being part of something bigger into the oblivious.  Allow me to clarify with a particular incident….or maybe a couple of them….of how the HUGE WORLD BECAME SO SMALL…and that things sometimes come around full circle….Even for a small town west Texas boy.

I loved magic…sleight of hand…illusions.  I remember watching Doug Henning on TV Specials in the 70’s…or maybe the occasional David Copperfield Specials.  I remember going to the library and scouring for any manuscripts that would allow me on the inside of the art of legerdemain.   I found one little children’s paperback book…and I remember practicing the tricks….some worked great….and others…not so well.  But in the mid 70’s there was no internet…no mass data storage of the magical secrets….I didn’t know any magicians personally….and believe it or not….Levelland Texas was not a hotbed of practitioners of the magical arts.  And so the interest begins to dry up like a draught stricken cotton field…so isolated…if only I lived in a big city…if…
When you live on the outskirts of the universe….Television was a way to at least peer into the looking glass.  “That’s Incredible,” a hour long show aired weekly spotlighting people or events that seemed beyond mortal comprehensions.  I remember vividly at about age 12…the feature on the show was a man…I didn’t remember his name…but he was a card sharp…a cheat….a pasteboard manipulator deemed the best in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD…beyond comprehension…practicing hours a day…and he was legally blind…he could deal perfect poker hands after someone shuffled…he could deal seconds….he could do things I never imagined.  I was amazed…and thinking to myself in my 12 year old mind…to meet someone like that…someone with such skill…maybe he could teach me...”But Hey Dave, you live in Levelland”…so it was only a passing thought. 

That's Incredible Episode with Richard Turner

A couple of years later…at our Sunday evening youth services, we were watching videos that were talking about fraudulent claims of psychics  and the paranormal…it was hosted and written by a magician…I remembered his name…Danny Korem….a world class magicians…showing how people are deceived….and how to keep being deceived. Danny got James  Hydrick to confess that he was a fraud in the telekinetic realm on national TV.  I remember sitting there and thinking how cool it would be to be able to do the sleight of hand Danny was doing.
Fast forward about 8 years…at Texas A&M ,  I found a guy who actually performed magic…and after wearing his poor soul down, I finally convince him to teach me.  Like everything I do…It was all in…obsessive…practicing sometimes 8 and 9 hours a day.  I learned where I could buy books.  I began the journey into the depths of the magical arts.  I began to attend some conventions where other conjurers would gather.  I made friends…became a member of the Dallas Magic Club and Society of American Magicians.   I competed in competitions.  I won the best in close up magic at the 2003 TAOM Conventions.   Along the way, I came to find out that the “Blind Gentleman” that I saw on “That’s Incredible” was Richard Turner.  I attended a lecture of his at Texas Association of Magicians in 1998.  But after witnessing firsthand what Richard could do with a deck of cards, I couldn’t even bring myself to meet him.  I wasn’t worthy.
Somewhere around 2001, my buddy Diamond Jim hosted a  magic lecture.  I couldn’t believe it…it was Danny Korem.   After the lecture we struck up a conversation…we emailed back and forth...and before you knew it…we became friends.  A guy I watched and envied when I was 13…was now a friend.  We would meet and discuss magic…laugh a lot…I would listen to stories…and Danny became a mentor.
Dan Korem and yours truely

About a year later, I get a call from a buddy Mark Jenson.  “Hey Dave, Richard Turner is staying at my house.  We are meeting with some of the guys tonight….why don’t you come over…and see if Danny wants to come over too.”  I call Danny…”Hey Boss, there is a card guy named Richard Turner…He’s blind…and what he does with at deck of cards is off the hook!  See ya at Jenson’s tonight.”
A quick glimpse into the dark dens of the underworld...That Famous Session - left Mark Jenson, in the back left to right Danny Korem, John Kline, Brian...Richard Turner in the white shirt.

That evening I sat to the left of Richard Turner…for about 5 hours…we shuffled…we listened…we watched…we learned…and we sat there in the presence of greatness.  I think there were about 6 of us…and Danny and I were there…mesmerized. 
Richard Turner Dealing Cards
Let me cut to the chase…for some reason I still can’t explain…the world’s greatest card mechanic I saw about 25 years earlier on “That’s Incredible” and I became close friends.  I really don’t know how it all happened.  Since that time, I have been invited into his home in San Antonio….we talk frequently….he trusted me to look at a very very preliminary  manuscript being written about his life.  (it will later be forged into a literary epic by John Racherbaumer to be released.) We will sit together and he will ask me how my second deal is coming along…he will take his fingers and feel how I am gripping the deck…seeing in his mind’s eye what the tactile sensation of his fingers are saying.  It’s like having Louis Armstrong sitting with my son and teaching him how to play the trumpet.  I felt mildly responsible for the introduction between Danny and Richard.   Danny had Richard, I and our wives over for dinner….and there I sat….thinking, “Holy Cow!  If you told me I would be sitting and having dinner with these two guys when I first knew about them in that tiny place called Levelland Texas….I would say you are crazy!”

It took me moving to Dallas where I have lived most of my adult life….to learn that the world is just a little more smaller than I thought when I spent my youth in a tiny corner of that small world.  This week I learned that Luke Korem, Danny’s son, is producing and filming a documentary on Richard’s life…and the providence of a small town boy being on the very peripheral of that ….well…what do I say….I am a blessed guy…

You can learn more about Richard and Danny at their respective websites:

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Taking my turn on the front

Leave Nothing…empty the tank out…bring everything you have…monitor all systems…and in the end…you will know that there was nothing else to give.  That’s kind  of how I race…how I train…how I live…and sometimes it bites you in the butt.  Just ask Jackie Henson or Jim Craig…my first Hotter N Hell 100 miler…where I went out so fast that that I suffered like an animal the last 40 miles…and it cost me so much time…just to finish.  There is that balance…and knowing how much is left…and how far you have to go…and now as the older I get…the level in the tank seems to change…

 Last year was the first year we rode Beauty and Beast…67 miles of rolling hills in East Texas…then at mile 62…the BEAST…a hill that literally takes something special…and Last year, I rode hard…but rode fairly conservatively…finished well…just over the 4 hour mark…and rather pain free.  But this year I had a goal…3hrs 45min.  So at 9:00 AM, Michael, Amber, and I toe the line. We had trained hard…Had worked on leg strength…lots of heavy weights with lots of reps…I had gotten my cardio up well…hours on top of hours of the trainer…my last outside ride was last Sunday with Legacy…and cooking off 25 miles…most around 23 mph…and I felt great.  Saturday East Texas weather was far from perfect…temps at start were 50 degrees…with rain and chance of thunderstorms…and the wind…well, the wind had picked up too.  I mentioned that I tend to start out fast…too fast.  Amber and I had talked…she was to hold me back…for the first 10 miles…let her do the work…tuck in behind…get in the rhythm.  Michael’s intention was to finish as last year he was in a big crash at mile 2.  He was to ride his race.

Pre Race...
As to plan…for the first 10 miles…hill after hill…Amber and I hammer it out…then at mile 10…on a climb…I get with 6 other guys….we were off…into a pace line…up and down…climbing well…each taking a turn on the front…on the few intermittent flats…we are cruising 21-23 mph…my heart rate is in check…onward…hill after hill…and as we go on…I notice that the pace line is getting shorter…at mile 20 we were down to 5…mile 25…down to 4…mile 30…well…only 2 of us left…a guy named Todd…and me…there wasn’t enough fat on Todd to make gravy…and he could climb...he was a stronger rider…and at mile 40…he was on his own…I couldn’t stay up.  

Five in a Pace turn in the back

And then there were 3...Climbing...Me, Todd to the right...unknown in black
Don "The Sherpa" …a friend of ours was in his car…monitoring Amber’s and my progress…at mile 54 rest stop… he pulls up and says you are riding like crazy…keep it up.  I asked if he knew of Michael and Amber…he replied he didn’t know about Michael but Amber is about 18 minutes behind.  I knew I was flirting with that ragged edge…I was feeling cramping in my quads, sartorius, abductors, and the hamstrings…all the muscles crucial in powering a bicycle.  I hadn’t stayed on top of my electorolytes…with the cool temps I probably hadn’t hydrated like I should although I was monitoring water intake…I really probably should have supplemented with S! Caps…but I hadn’t…and now I was taking in potassium in banana form…but every endurance guy will tell you…when it gets to this point…it’s too late.  I was just hoping to hang on for another 13 miles…that’s all…30 to 45 minutes…and I was about 7 minutes ahead of goal....just hang on…hang on…will the body.

The brain fires a signal to the neurons for the muscle to contract…to work…The action potential propagates by activating voltage-gated sodium channels along the axon toward the neuromuscular junction. When it reaches the junction, it causes a calcium ion influx through voltage-gated calcium channels. Calcium, Sodium and Potassium ions begin the reaction…through a biochemical process the muscle fiber membrane becomes less negative…triggering an action potential on the cellular level. If those ions get dangerously low…if there is not electrical potential between the muscle fibers...then the muscles will not work…regardless of how many times the brain demands that they function. 

Michael...before the suffering
At mile 57…on a small climb…I am out of the saddle…if I sit…my hamstrings go into a cramp…if I stand…my quads contract…and now the cramping was to the point where the legs literally seized up…the pain is excruciating…I am off the bike…sitting …legs out straight…the quads SCREAM…I bend my leg slightly for relief on the quad…and the hamstring locks…then the abductors…the sartorius…I am helpless…I have been watching my time…10 miles left…if I can just get back on the bike…I can still push and make the goal…the athletes mind is clouded…the reasoning unreal…and after ten minutes…I get back on the bike…things seem slightly better…

Funny Pic of Amber - failure to control speed, taken and captioned by Don "the Sherpa"
I am back…proceeding with caution…and still pushing like demons are close at hand…at mile 61.5…right before you climb the beast…there is a small steep hill…I am climbing…preparing mentally for what is at hand…and the legs seize…the pain is unreal…my mind tells…no demands that the legs operate…there are no sodium ions left…nothing…I fall off my bike…on the side of the road…and I try to get relief…there is none.  An older gentleman had seen both of my cramping incidents…and he responds, “you are done…you have nothing left.”  I refuse…but I can’t even get off the ground…for 5 minutes…I try to will myself to even get up with out the cramping.  I have cramped before…during long brutal races…on the bike…on the run…but this had taken the cake.  I am laying on the ground…I see Don pull up in his black VW…I see Amber riding…her red jacket…she gets off the bike…Don starts to run…and then a pick up truck pulls up.  Mentally I am telling myself only 5 miles left, but I can’t even get up.  For 3 hours 20 minutes I had ridden like the Devil’s Own was in pursuit of my soul.  Amber and Don pick me up…I mutter about give me a minute…let me get back on the road…and Amber whispers, “no…it’s over.”  They get me in the truck…somebody puts my bike in the back…I have no idea who this is.  The man had been following a couple of friends in the race.  He looks over and says, “I have been seeing you all day…I reckon you were in the top ten.” (Top ten…of the non elites) “And that gal that stopped…she can ride too…I bet she may be the top female.”  This gives no comfort…top ten doesn’t count unless you finish.

I get back to the start…Don helps me rack my bike…I can hardly walk with cramping…I start the recovery process…salt…water…salt.  Amber makes it in…incredible ride…around 4 hours….in rain…wind…cold.  We eat…converse...and wait…Michael finishes his race.  Amber looks over at me…and knows what is going on in my head…”Dave…you rode incredible… just have a few hydration/electrolyte issues of figure out.”  She knows this will eat at me FOREVER….to ride that well…only to have one mistake take you out.  I used to have this dialed in…but it seems that it has changed a bit.

It eats at me…the only solace I take…is that I LEFT NOTHING…absolutely NOTHING!

p.s.  The most amazing thing I saw all day…is Michael, who self mandates the most strict diet, actually celebrated his race finish with a hot dog.  I myself…not only had a hot dog…but a bowl of ice cream when I got home.

(all pics save the last one courtesy of Don "The Sherpa")

Monday, February 18, 2013

I Survived the Triumph and all I got was this Lousy T Shirt

And the piano, it sounds like a carnival
And the microphone smells like a beer
And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar
And say, "Man, what are you doin' here?"

Sing us a song you're the piano man
sing us a song tonight
well we're all in the mood for a melody
and you got us all feeling alright.
All six of us sitting around the “Piano Man” Singing laughing, celebrating…the past 48 hours had been a time to laugh till we cried, tell stories from times past, and celebrate the life we were blessed with…for we were all turning 40…yes….these dear friends from high school had known my highs and lows for the past 30 years...and now all of singing as the Piano Man played well known hits…as he geared up for our last song…we reveled the memories of the day…feet in the sand on a Cozumel beach…me in a hammock…reading….and not one of my four beloved children requesting one thing.  The piano started ringing out the familiar notes of Christopher Cross’s “Sailing”

Well, it's not far down to paradise, at least it's not for me
And if the wind is right you can sail away and find tranquility
Oh, the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see.
Believe me

Sailing takes me away to where I've always heard it could be
Just a dream and the wind to carry me
And soon I will be free

And so after a long day…we retire to our cabins…great memories made…great friends to cherish…and a fire in the engine room.

Yep….at 0530 on Sunday Morning they come on the loud speaker and tell us that there is a fire in engine room…but not to worry…it was under control…everybody was safe…and we may experience issues with power….we were told that we didn’t need to form up at the muster know....the place you had to get in a life boat, but you had to wonder.  At the required "muster drill" when you first got on the boat, the crew mentioned that the absolute worse thing was if there was a fire on board.  My thoughts….it’s usually not good to go from a big boat to a tiny boat when you can’t see land and any direction....and WE JUST HAD A FIRE ON BOARD!

Things seemed under control at the time…I didn’t realize how massive the fire was till I got home and saw pictures.  All six began to gather on the deck...still in jovial moods…not really knowing what all this entailed…or the ordeal that lay ahead.
What now needs to be noted…if you don’t already know…I HATE CAMPING…mainly for the reasons that there is no electricity, no running water with a bathroom right next to my bed…and there is no bed…or more specifically…I never can sleep well in a tent and air mattress.

The rest of that day had more questions than answers…like Why is this boat listing so far to the port side…what do you mean I have to do my “business” in a red bio hazard bag…and pee in the shower because we can't flush…are you kidding me…this sounds a lot like camping.  That evening another Carnival cruise ship pulled up next to the Triumph to off load supplies…food and such.  We all could get a cell phone signal from the near by vessel so I call Dave and told him what was going on.  He had gotten a recorded message from Carnival with the vague details that there was a fire but nobody was hurt. 

Dave had been holding down the home front since Thursday morning.  His mom had come into help with the baby so he could get some work done and still get the others to school and their activities. 

That first night with no power was a long night…there was no air conditioning…and the stale air, now pungent with the putrid odor of humid waste, just hung there…suspended in the cabin to be endured.  As the days would go on the ammonia from the urine would sear the lungs.  

Monday morning…still lots of unanswered questions…we knew that the boat was dead in the water…that tugs were on there way…and that the Coast Guard was present.  At the time, the plan was for the tugs to pull us to Progreso Mexico when they arrived.  We where told that we were about 150 miles from the Mexican town.  We began to break the day down into 4 hour increments of survival.  Food was being distributed but not rationed properly as some began hoarding.  Things you saw reported about raw sewage running down the walls was true….the carpets were soaked with urine running out of the toilets.  At one time we were dipping urine out of the toilets with cups and pouring in the shower…to prevent it from running into our room.

By late Monday the tugs had shown up…but at this point we were told we had drifted 90 miles towards the US and would be towed into Mobile Alabama.

Hours begin to run together…the fabric of the ordeal begins to blend into a single hue.  Waiting hours in lines for food…waiting to charge phone in case there is a vessel with service that drifts within range.  A group of us would begin to hold nightly Bible studies Monday evening…we were reminded  "Have not I commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9.  That the God that created the Heavens and the Earth…that separated the day into night and the water from the land…still was at the helm as we peered in the dark abyss of the night….total darkness…to be renewed by the light in the morning…and with the light the hope of a new day…and thoughts begin to wander…”How is Dave doing with the kids…did he remember I was the homeroom mom for Macy’s Valentine Party…and Luke has church on Wednesday night…and all the responsibility of the Girl Scout Cookie mom that were due this week.”  The answer would soon come.  He didn’t miss a beat…he called all the right people…squared it all away…and still  got some work done.

You learn what your limits are…I can walk through urine…and not bath for 5 days…I can eat onion sandwiches…but I had to shave my legs every other day…just something I had to do. 

The six of us didn’t sign up for this…but the bond that we now share…the conversations that will stay on that boat about red bags and peeing in shower…the laughs…the tears…the good and the bad…I know one thing…we may all 6 be at a party with other friends we have…and we can look across the room and know we were there.  My husband talks about the bond he has with some of his Marine buds…forged in the fire of adversity...I now understand first hand exactly what he means.

The ship begins the arduous journey up the Mobile channel…with no room for error.  On Friday about midnight…we were off that stinking boat…and on a bus to Galveston…and then on to Dallas…Home.  I went straight to the Doctor to get blood work and hepatitis shot.  Dave picked me up there and took me home.  My kids to hug…a hot shower to take…a hot meal to eat…a warm bed for which to sleep…and wait…there is no odor to endure…and so I count my blessing…give thanks to the Lord…there is the decrescendo of the tune “Piano Man”…to be replaced with crescendo of the famous Hymn…”It is Well With My Soul” 
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

and as my husband always says…WE SHALL PRESS ON!

Written by Dave Elliott
Edited by Bren Elliott