Sunday, June 24, 2012
I drove 1.5 hours to Wheat Ridge, CO yesterday afternoon to take the PLACE test for Gifted/Talented. I hate driving to/through Denver for lots of reasons. Especially on my own. Just gives me anxiety. The drive up was pretty pleasant until I got there... My little red Jeep overheated about four blocks from the testing site. I was stressed ALREADY...didn't need that. I managed to get to the testing site, park under a tree, and go inside to worry about my hot car and how the hell I was going to get home.
When I got inside the HS, I realized what a huge thing this is. When I've tested at UCCS here in town there are maybe 50 people, at most 100. There were over 1000 people there...in the foyer...with no AC. Sardine life must really suck... We weren't allowed to go to our assigned testing rooms until we had a "meeting." (Really...a meeting..this is the one thing teachers hate most--those meetings that we don't know much about but are mandatory and impact our ability to do what we need to do...).
Meeting done (stupid really...check your cell phones at the table, pee before you test, and good luck.) we went like cattle (I'm not kidding.) to our testing rooms, got situated, and finally got started--40 minutes after we were supposed to start. They allowed 4.5 hours for the test. It was 100 questions. I know some people take longer than others to complete tests like this, but I cannot imagine taking 4.5 hours to take a 100 question multiple guess test. If it were ESSAY? yeah...4.5 hours wouldn't be unreasonable...but this was multiple choice.
The whole time I'm testing, I'm worried about how I will get home. Will the Jeep make it? Can I find a garage to look at it? Should I just try to fill it with coolant myself? Where the hell does one get coolant? I tried so hard to focus...and then my nose started to run.
I sniffled ONCE and the woman to the right of me had a FIT... (others had been sniffling the whole time...I guess mine was just the tipping point for her) My hand was already up to be dismissed so I could go blow my nose in privacy and not bug anyone else with it. She asked to test in the hallway because the noise in our room was just "deafening..." as I was dismissed to go to the bathroom. I wanted to say, "Look lady, I have THREE QUESTIONS LEFT...suck it." But I refrained.
I finished the test in about an hour and a half...I think I did ok. It wasn't what I thought it would be. I anticipated lots of "According to X, gifted students... and then a list of possible responses... Or more about research. It was more scenario based which I didn't anticipate....questions like "Joey is a gifted sixth grader. He ... Which programming (I hate that word for the record...especially when it comes to educating children.) option would be the most appropriate? and then four choices.
So I got back into the car, wished I had peed while I was in the bathroom blowing my nose, found a gas station, and longed for the day when you could stop into one and there was an attendant who knew something about cars and checked all your fluids FOR you... I got some coolant...probably screwed up putting it in, but at least I know it went in the right container under the hood... And then started praying.
I opened a window and started down the road to go home back through Denver. 65 miles an hour in 104 degree heat with a window open in a jeep is not the same as air conditioning. I didn't want to risk the air for fear that I would overheat again and I'd be stuck on the side of I-25 alone...in the middle of Denver. I was so hot. I should have lost about 15 pounds in just sweat from the drive home.
Jeeps have a funny quirk. There's this thing called the "Jeep Death Wobble." (google it...there's video out there somewhere) Basically what it is is that something causes the Jeep to wobble at a certain speed...it doesn't do it every time...but it is scary and you think that you have either lost a tire, busted a tire, or the whole jeep is going to disintegrate in the middle of the freeway (Which is why I never drive in the far left lane...you never know.). My Jeep hasn't done it in a long time. I'd had it looked at and they said it was fixed when they were done with it. Now, I go 75 down I25 every day, twice a day, and it hasn't happened in a LONG time. Yesterday the Jeep decided was a good day to give it a go. On I25. Far from home. As I'm worried about overheating too. First, it did it just outside Denver near Castle Pines. Then again in Castle Rock. And then again, just before Monument. Each time, you pull over, cry, breathe, and get back on the road. All the time gripping the wheel with every ounce of strength you have hoping to be able to feel it start before it gets going so you can pull over faster.
Needless to say, I will be taking the Jeep to the mechanic this week.
As I'm driving into the Springs, I look over to the right and notice an awful lot of smoke. Now, we have fires...a bunch of them. And an arsonist in Woodland Park setting some of his own. I didn't think I could see the one that's been going on near Elevenmile from here...not this clearly. You know those flashing signs that tell you about icy conditions and stuff on the highway? Ours said "FIRE IN WALDO CANYON DO NOT CALL 911" *sigh* One of my favorite places to hike is on fire. My mountains are on fire. My state is on fire.
They've now evacuated Green Mountain Falls, Cascade, Chipeta Park, Manitou Springs (which is 15 minutes from my house), Mountain Shadows (which is about 5 miles from my house), and parts of Pleasant Valley (which is where I want to move) as well as lots of other little neighborhoods in the area. They've closed all of the tourist attractions in the area (Pikes Peak, North Pole, Cave of the Winds, Rampart Range, you name it.) Waldo Canyon fire is growing by a quarter to half an acre an hour. And it's hot...with no chance of rain...and enough wind to make things very difficult for firefighters.