Thursday, April 20, 2017

Towpath Trail 1/2 Marathon

4-9-17 – Cleveland, OH

As I move thru 2017 I keep reminding myself that it is supposed to be a big year for me; with the turning 40 and all.  I need to keep proving to myself that 40 is the new 30…or something like that.  That sounded really great back in January as I had two excellent travel adventures in front of me.  Once booked all I had to do was hang on for the ride.  But unfortunately, vacation time is scarce and free time seems to be equally scarce these days, so it has been harder to come up with things to do that prove my not feeling like 40 or at least prove that I can do what I did at 30 now that I’m 40.
In a moment of perhaps misjudged exuberance for my new year as a 30.. I mean 40 year old; I decided to run a ½ marathon.  Why not?  I’ve done a couple before in my life.  I’ve knocked down 7 miles on a whim and I actually do run with some regularity.  How hard can this be?  It’s not like I’m going to win.  I just need to make it. 

I started increasing my miles little by little on the sly, knowing that this type of training commitment would go over poorly with our already ever busy schedule.  At some point it was like being pregnant.  I just couldn’t hide it any longer.  So I put my maternity pants on and signed up for the Towpath Trail Half Marathon to show my commitment.  I also figured it was on the “towpath” as it is know in Northern Ohio.  This is a dirt path, but it is the path the mules/donkeys/general pack animals used to use to pull canal boats on the Erie Canal back in the day.  In other words it was basically as flat as it could get, but it was on a “trail” so it would be extra badass. 

It turns out training for a ½ marathon, or really doing anything that takes any real amount of time more than 20 min at a time, with two little kids is challenging.  There really isn’t any extra time to be had, so you end up doing it before they wake up.  In my case that is at 4:45 in the morning.  E was gracious and as my weekend long runs got longer she helped work them into the day.  Unlike my past ½ marathon traing where I’d come home from a 10, 11 or 12 miler and crash for the day complaining about being tired; this time I mostly came home and immediately began kid time for the rest of the day.  There is no sympathy for being self-imposed tired with kids or wives who have been dealing with kids.   There is also the kid no sleep, wake up for no reason in the middle of the night factor I had to work into my training.  The already short nights could be cut short to the point of not being able to get enough sleep to run and then go to work all day, so I would postpone my run until a later date.  All factors that had not been a part of previous attempts. 

I made it!  Time for obligatory post race beer.

Somehow I made it thru the training, and even ran the race.  The term race being used pretty loosely.  All but a select few were really there to collect our “participant” medals.  Not to downplay the accomplishment, that’s the nature of these “races” but for the vast majority of us it is more about completing it rather than actually winning it.  Which I did in good time I might add.  1:47…only 6 minutes longer than my ½ marathon in Oakland this same month 6 years ago.  In that run I had trained hard up to 6 days a week at 5000 foot elevation in Reno, before running the race at sea level in Oakland, CA.  And there were no child obstacles either.  I figure if I factor in the child and general life factors into my time, the adjusted time would be very similar, if not better, than my previous attempts.  They are higher level calculations, that I don’t have time to explain here, just trust me.  The “trail” ended up being paved by the way.  This unfortunately reduced my badassedness factor.   The medals are super cool which is hard to find these days, Nice job on that race organizer folks!  E met me at the end, having shed the children for 2 hours, with a little pink Nalgene bottle of chocolate milk.  A present from Sydney who knows I love chocolate milk.  I guess 4:45 isn’t that early.

Me and the kiddos having Cheetos post race

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Banderas Bay Revisited - with Kids

2-10-17  Nuevo Vallarta - Banderas Bay - Mexico

Almost exactly four years ago we left the Banderas Bay area and headed North.  Two mid thirties kids, on our little sailboat out in the big Pacific Ocean. Headed North to the Sea of Cortez for yet more fun in the sun.  No fears, no jobs, no time frame, no house and yep, no kids.  I guess it would be somewhat of an understatement to say that things have changed since then.  Four years later, two kids, a house, two full time jobs, and not so much vacation time; made it back. 

It was the first flight for our children and we had some apprehension about it.  In the end they did great.  No problems with the flying itself.  Maybe a little trouble with the "keeping myself occupied for 3.5 hours" for our 17 moth old son; but what can you expect.  We had hoped for a lot of sleep, but got almost none. Sydney was an excellent little traveler who seemed to enjoy the whole adventure.


Ready to go at CLE

Happy times for mom and dad on the first flight

Happy times #2
 Cleveland to Dallas to Puerto Vallarta.  Get a cab and to the Hotel.  Everything went smooth.  Lots of time at the airports and a nice layover helps the situation with kids. I guess I forgot to mention the "shark tank" as they call it in PV airport to Elizabeth.  It's basically a room that they force you to walk thru where you are promised the best and cheapest of all things from cab rides to whale watching trips to tequila tasting.  Lets just say the truth in advertising laws may not apply to Mexico.  You are supposed to hold your breath and just run thru this room, but I found myself holding Sydney with Ben in the backpack, pulling luggage with my mom following behind trying to convince Elizabeth that this really wasn't the BEST deal ever for a cab or any other thing in the Banderas Bay area.  My fault I should have discussed this situation before hand.  Note for others reading: just keep moving and don't make eye contact with anyone.  Trust me, there will be other opportunities to get a cab or find an excursion during your time here.

And we paid for a seat.  Silly us.

Syd gets a "big girl glass" at dinner at La Isla Restaurant

Swimming.  Lots of time spent here. Syd even braved the Crocodile slide
a few times

Little Benjamin having a good time

Evening swimming / Poolside dinner night
We made it to La Cruz for the Sunday market we used to love.  It has become much more popular than when we were there.  Read: way too many people to comfortably have fun. We did escape to the marina where no one seemed to venture since it was 200 yards away, where we indulged in one of the greatest parts of Mexican culture.  The purchase of ice cold single beers from the convenience store and then drinking them in the shade as you relax just outside the door.  E and me spent a lot of time at the La Cruz marina doing just that when we sailed there 4 years ago, so this was an activity that made us feel right at home.  Sydney kept asking us where Autumn Wind was?  I guess we may have talked about our trip a little to much over the years, or maybe not?

Syd at La Cruz Marina.  We spent some time on this bench in the past

La Cruz Marina
After a long day at the La Cruz Sunday Market

Sunset from the balcony.  
Sydney is infatuated with the "little baby turtles"
Ben doesn't quit get the "turtle" thing
Grammy and Syd say goodbye to the baby turtles
The walk back from turtle releasing.  Not to shabby.

Another sunset from the patio
We had the classic of all Mexican experiences on our trip to Puerto Vallarta.  In order to get out on the water at least a little, we took the water taxi from Nuevo Vallarta to the Los Muertos Pier in Puerto Vallarta.  The water taxi was really just a nice Panga with a steering wheel and a canopy overhead.  We knew that and that's what made it fun.  When we arrived at the boat ramp at Paradise Village in the morning, a fellow with absolutely no indication that he had anything to do with he water taxi approached us as asked if we were the ones taking the water taxi. "yes" we said.  "Ok, just give me the remainder of the payment and wait over there".  huh? Who are you I asked.  Why I'm capt' Tony your panga drive he said pointing to the sign with his picture on in it.  I guess he somehow knew that we were the white pasty family that scheduled the water taxi the day before, not the other dozen families that were milling about the area.  Anyway, we saw a whale up close as a bonus on the trip to PV.  The genuine experience was actually in the getting picked up.  Our captain Tony (Not sure if it's a crazy coincidence or he really likes Jimmy Buffett) was scheduled to pick us up at 1:00 PM.  We sat on the pier with all the other people, fisher men, tourists going to Yelapa, gasoline getting wheeled down the pier etc...  1:00 came and went.  No surprise.  A few minutes later our 17 month old son reminded us why we were usually punctual and no longer patient people.  We called Captain Tony.  He only had one stop before us at the marina in PV and then he would be there in 15 min.  Well the whole trip only took 20 min so I pretty much figured this was his alarm to get moving from Nuevo Vallarta.  It also told me I had plenty of time to go scout out an OXXO for one of the cold beers I previously referred to.   25 min or so later he arrived,waving to us as he come to the pier.  We pushed past the people waiting for other rides and jumped onto our personal panga for the ride back.  Just to male it a genuine experience, the tide had gone down a bunch and getting onto the panga was not an adventure for the mobility impaired.  I mostly grabbed a child and jumped to the floor before the panga moved to much, repeat for kid two and then help mom on.  No need to tie up the panga or get a ladder.  This lead to the thought that maybe Capt. Tony wasn't really supposed to be using the pier for his personal taxi service.  It was a great experience that makes you remember to trust the system, even if it feels a little out of your comfort zone.  Tony knew who we were, somehow, found us a whale as a bonus and saw us sitting on the pier from 1/2 a mile out as if we were the only people there.  It's a different world then we are used to, but somehow it all comes together.

Captain Tony, our ride to Puerto Vallarta on a Nice Panga
Walking the streets of Puerto Vallarta

Took this same picture (without 2 kids) 4 years ago.

Just cute
La Cruz Marina on the way home.
Little did we know it would be 13 hours until he fell asleep.
I miss the Mexico experience, the smells of food; of burning stuff; and the sort of dingy feeling the areas have, but in that very used sort of way, not the I don't care sort of way.  The way everyone is helpful and nice and they love children.  The way that you need to just know how stuff works, but that it all really does work.  Everything and everyone has its place and role to play here.  Sometimes it takes a little trial and error to figure it out.   Hasta Luego Mexico!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

YOB - Whistler, BC

Whistler-Blackcomb, BC    1-5-2017

Mid span of the Peak 2 Peak Gondola.  The consummate Whistler Vista 
I turn 40 this year.  So I announced to Elizabeth the other day that it would be "the year of Brian".  She mostly laughed and roller her eyes; but secretly I have vowed to make it my year.  I figure this is my chance to spend money frivolously on unnecessary things to make myself feel young.  As if a 3 year old and a 17 month old don't make me feel young enough.   

To start the year of Brian (YOB) off in grand fashion, E graciously agreed to 5 days solo with the children so I could go to Whistler/Blackcomb, British Columbia to do some much needed skiing.  Mind you it has been since 2011/2012 since I last skied. So this operation could end up badly.   

1st Refreshment at SFO en route
My flight departed CLE super early, so by the time I hit SFO it was noon my time which seems to be the unspoken rule of ok beer time.  (it was only 9:00AM in San Franciso so I got some weird looks, but its an airport so it seemed to be ok)

I met up with an old Reno ski friend who I used to rip it up with and some of his friends and their friends.  Everyone turned out to be great to hang out with.  It was a interesting group and everyone added their own dynamic that worked great.  I will say for all the complications that some of the people had with luggage, flights, work etc... I think I learned a little bit about just going with it and enjoying the adventure no matter what happens.  I'm not sure I would have been that good.  Thanks guys for being so good with the world when things seemed to turn crappy.

Happy to be skiing!  How can you have a bad day here?

1st day selfie at the top of 7th Heaven lift

Lets just say day one was not warm.  At least the temps were positive numbers (in Fahrenheit at least)

2nd day was a lot nicer.  The scenery was perfect.  Top of the Blackcomb Gondola

Day two made up for any crappy weather we had on day one.

Whats skiing without Apres Skiing?
I'm happy to say it's like riding a bike.  I got right back into it and ripped it up again.  Or at least my legs felt like I did.   60,000 vertical feet and three days later I was headed back to the flatlands of Ohio.  My ski karma was recharged and ready for the next time.

Dallas on the way out on my final flight back to CLE

Not a bad start to the Year of Brian!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Missing our Camper

12-21-16  Brecksville, OH

saying good by to TT Listo 

That's our little guy in the middle. It's been a while since we have seen him and on this shortest day of the year, it's hard not to think of lazy days hanging out at Firefly Beach with TT Listo (That's our campers name)
Sydney taking it easy one summer morning
Hopefully he's doing ok up on the shores of Lake Erie.

We'll see you soon...sort of, it will actually be a few months.  But we think of you often.  

Have a Merry Christmas and a fun holiday season everyone!

Monday, May 18, 2015

New York City With a 16 Month old

5-15-15 – New York City, NY

When I tell people we went to New York City for a vacation I get a variety of responses; most of which are not “sounds great”   Response 1. Why?  Response 2.  Who did Sydney stay with?  Response 3.  Why?  Response 4. Did you get mugged/ was it dirty / scarry.  Did you brave the subway?  You get the idea.  It seems to be one of those places you either want to see or really do not want anything to do with.  How you can want nothing to do with it, while still never having seen it, is a little  beyond me but to each their own.  It also seems to be a place, very similar to Mexico, that has not been able to shake it’s negative reputations.  Also like Mexico, I’m sure you could find a way to get into some sketchy situations if you tried, or were generally clueless.
So yes we went to NYC just because we have never been there.  E always wanted to go and I held out firmly while living in Nevada, but it seemed a reasonable request now that we are in Ohio.  It is a place that we will probably not have an opportunity to get back to for a while (more on that later!)  We like wandering around new places and it just seemed like an adventure.  Even if it was only for 6 days.  And yes we took Sydney, she loved it and learned a lot.
Playground in Central Park

I’ll spare you an account of seeing the standard stuff.  The Statue of Liberty is smaller than you think, 1 World Trade Center is bigger, you’re not an American if the 9/11 memorial doesn’t make you pause and think about that day and how it would have felt to be there that day, Times Square is, well, Times Square.  Central Park is impressive, there are people everywhere and tere are about three trillion places to eat most of which looked good.  Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is worth doing.  To that account, be prepared to walk.  We did 13 miles one day.
FAO Schwartz was Sydney's favorite.  Yes we now
own that monkey!

1 World Trade Center from St. Paul's Chapel

What's so interesting about this anyway

Looking back at the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan 

There are two places on the bull that are shiny because everyone touches
them.  The Nose and the .... E chose the nose to rub.

We even took Syd with us.  Why not, I’m not much of a Broadway show kind of guy, museums are boring and who wants to go out to dinner in New York City.  So that last one was a bit of a bummer, but we did get some great food, just fast and a lot of it was eaten in Central Park or one of the many other parks around town.  I mean we did spend $50 on takout one night for me and E.  So that was pretty fancy. 

Hints. Parking sucks.  We ditched the car immediately where it was stacked up 5 cars high for the week and brought back down when we left.  At $30/Day that seemed ok, remember its NewYork.  The subway is awesome, cheap and pretty easy to use especially if you read and speak English.  Even syd made friends on it.  It may be underground, but don’t be scared just take your time and figure out what train to catch.  No one waits for the cross walk to turn green.  J walking is an art form and if you aren’t doing it, you are obviously a tourist.
Family selfie on the subway.

I could go on forever about the quirky nuances of the city.  But in the end you just need to check it out.  That was one adventure, now on to the next.  See Final Picture for Details!! 

Coming soon, our next adventure!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

It's Cold!

2-26-15 - Home

I don't mind the snow! (Hat before Sydney "removed" the puff ball)

It’s cold around here.  This year there hasn’t been any talk of a “Polar Vortex” but that doesn’t change the fact that I saw a -20⁰ on the car temp. gauge the other day.  I guess they just expect us to get used to it, so the seriously cold doesn’t get its own name anymore.  We joke that it’s warmed in many parts of Alaska on any given day.  And to think it’s colder in many Northern parts of the U.S. and then there is Canada…I can only imagine.  What can you do about it?  Just deal with it.  Push the dirty snow aside and carry on.  Try to keep the driveway clear so that when the next snow comes you aren’t totally buried.  Listen to the furnace hum all night and the house make crazy popping noises as it gets colder and colder.  But now that I’m a Clevelander I am not allowed to complain about this stuff, they make you sign away your rights to complain about the weather when you move here.  The cold, gritty, dirty snow, grey skies this stuff doesn’t bother us attitude it what defines Cleveland and its people.  Needless to say, they all still complain about the weather, it’s actually the official past time of residents here.  

The sun came out one day and we went sled riding.  Might as well use that cold white stuff for something.
Day on the slopes

The sun didn’t come out and it snowed, so we went to the rainforest.  That’s a good place for a toddler to roam freely for a while.  Bonus you feel like a good parent because it’s sort of educational.

It looks tropical in here.
Crazy jungle monkeys.  Don't they know it's freezing out there.
The sun didn’t come out and we went to a book store.  Do you know how many things are at eye level for a 1 year old in a bookstore!

Sydney and cute hat after she removed the puff ball

Now it’s time to get on with it and plan our trips for the summer.  Weekends are filling up and we are looking forward to good times!