Vacation

Virginia Quickie

Posted on May 15, 2017 in Vacation | 0 comments

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While it was a quick Friday to Tuesday trip, and the Race for Hope the primary objective, I managed to bounce around and accomplish quite a bit. <pats self on back>

The hardest thing of having moved across the country aside from being so far from family has been being so far from my closest friends. They’re all pretty much married now and popping out kids, and I struggle to even keep up with the names of all the little ones.

When I put out a feeler for a place to stay for the weekend, I was very grateful to receive a number of offers and went with the one that was easiest to accommodate. While I had met my college roommate’s oldest daughter many years ago, she was a shy peaut and we didn’t really connect. In the meantime, a pair of twin girls came along and she opened up a bit. It was an absolute blast being playing jungle gym for the weekend and catching up.

Following the race, I boarded a plane down to Norfolk to meet up with my littlest new friend in Virginia Beach, a three week old little dude. It was a short, sweet, and appropriately long visit. For being so fresh to parenting, my friends are absolutely killing it; we went out to dinner twice (once without him!), a brewery, and even a three mile walk to brunch. He stayed cool as a cucumber, and while I’m not sure he’s even capable of it yet, I swear he threw me a smile.

Good times. Virginia, I miss you don’t miss you.

Some weekdays in Boulder

Posted on Apr 24, 2017 in General, Vacation | 0 comments

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Dating back to before my time at the company, there was a tradition to eat at Ted’s Montana Grill following the departure of a coworker (I was there ten years – long standing tradition). When the final bunch of development was laid off last month including the last of the founders, we were not about to let the tradition die so the planning began in earnest. What was not tradition was that the parting soul attends their own wake, but it has been known to occur and besides, was Brian going to go eat a burger by himself?

Fortunately for us, the Ted’s we used to go to in Arlington had closed. Fortunate because only one of the four who were attending lived in Virginia anymore and that place was awful so we broadened our search. My vote was for Bozeman since “Montana” Grill, but that proved more costly than folks wanted so we settled on Boulder. We’d be traveling from the four sides of the US – Virginia, Minnesota, Texas, and Oregon.

The trip involved a burger that was surprisingly better than expected, beers at Mountain Sun (great place – good beer and outstanding service), beers at Avery, ice cream at Sweet Cow MULTIPLE TIMES over a roughly one day trip, random fried and heavy food, a new board game to add to my collection, shouting matches over a ridiculous mobile party game, and a pretty outstanding hike. A great couple of days.

I’m glad I finally got a chance to see Boulder, the 4th place finisher in my “Where Should I Move?” contest. It was a nice place with lots of outside to offer, but it felt very small town, too white, very ticky tacky suburban, and, well, not a place I’d really want to live. I know there are great jobs there and more are flocking, but that also means housing prices are astronomical. No thanks.

RIP to the company and hurray for the friendships and experience to cherish forever.

Note: Brian still has a job. When he goes, we’re doing Bozeman and we will be renting mountain bikes.

Paso Robles / San Fran wine getaway

Posted on Apr 5, 2017 in Vacation | 0 comments

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I just spent the past few days in warm and sunny Central Coast California and have the tan to prove it. The trip was a collection of a friend’s friends (#mollysfriends) and as seems to be typical of such trips, everyone got along great and had a blast.

For the first few days we stayed in an idyllic doublewide (yes, they exist) just south of Paso Robles in Templeton, CA. Horseshoes, corn hole, a little bit of drinking, a touch of eating, wine tastings at a couple of places (Justin – bleh, Oso Libre – yay!), and some running (I’m exercising 365 days this year so I had to dust the shoes off – the dog pictured, AJ, met me at the end of our driveway and proceeded to do my entire run with me).

Following our stay in wine country we spent a long afternoon in San Luis Obispo. The weather was as perfect as weather gets and the town was quaint as all get out.

From San Luis Obispo we made our way back up the highway to two evenings and a day in San Fran. More running, ferries, Sausalito, even more food and drink, and a night spent dancing. So much fun. Too much fun. I desperately need to be making my way down there more than the once a year I’m currently averaging.

This ends my roughly four weekends in a row away from home. It’s been fun, but I’m looking forward to some laziness, time to myself, loads of biking, perhaps some home/yard modification, getting to know my cat again, and job searching.

Adventure Time

Posted on May 29, 2016 in Vacation | 0 comments

Every year I head to DC to run in the Race for Hope to benefit brain cancer. This was our second year running in memory rather than celebration. It was a rainy day and a lot of folks had conflicts, but we were still out in force and will continue to be so. On the running front, I’d injured myself on my bike a month or so prior and was walking with a limp – no sub-19 (the usual goal) this year – was a nice walk, though.

Prior to the race, Dad informed me that he’d like to get rid of Mom’s car. He was no longer using it, but couldn’t bring himself to sell it. As my first cross-country trip was a bit abbreviated due to weather and park closures (NPS strike), I was eager to cross the country again. We only had a single car and I sometimes disappear for weekends for biking things. While I drive maybe once a week, it couldn’t hurt to have a second vehicle so I committed to taking it.

The nature of my work allows me to be just about anywhere in the world as long as I have a laptop, a handful of devices, and internet. The original goal was to camp the whole way to save a few bucks and work in coffee shops. Due to the work and traveling necessary, and camping rates, that didn’t really work out too well. I’d get to campsites by dark, which is no fun – part of the camping experience is to enjoy the place. Setting up in the dark, eating in the dark, etc., and then waking up to work and figure out your day… It was less than ideal. Besides, campsites in the western half of the country are mostly still closed for the season. It simply wasn’t meant to be. Instead, with hotels.com I was able to find enclosed spaces with internet everywhere I wanted to be for roughly $55/night. Versus the $20-$40 to tent camp? It was a no-brainer.

Before leaving, I made a rough plan of where I wanted to go. That gave me a route, which I built on roadtrippers.com. I followed that for the most part, but the real planning was done day by day as I figured out how tired I was, how much work I had, when that work had to be completed by, what there was to see, and what I could realistically drive without killing myself. The site was super awesome, works on computers and mobile, and integrates with Waze. I couldn’t have asked for much more from a free service.

I won’t bore you with the details of each stop, but you’re welcome to browse the daily schedules.

Day 1 – DC to Baltimore – Race for Hope, spending night w/ Dad and Sis on business trip.
Day 2 – Baltimore to Pittsburgh – Breakfast w/ Dad and Sis, Washington Monument (MD), Giant Quarter, Log Church, Fort Ligonier, Keystone State Park.
Day 3 – Pittsburgh to Cleveland – Primanti Brothers and Heinz History Museum.
Day 4 – Cleveland to Detroit – Cuyahoga Valley National Park, A Christmas Story House, Lake View Cemetery, and Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.
Day 5 – Detroit to “Chicago” – Heidelberg Project, Belle Isle, Elmwood Cemetery, Eastern Market, Shinola, Indiana Dunes.
Day 6 – “Chicago” to Minneapolis – Michael Jackson Home, Robie House, Cloud Gate, Lakefront Trail, The Old Fashioned, WI Capitol, Babcock Hall Dairy, Pink Elephant, Orange Moose.
Day 7 – Minneapolis (rest day) – Grand Rounds Trail, Minnehaha Falls.
Day 8 – Minneapolis to Badlands – Jolly Green Giant, Sioux Falls, Corn Palace, Al’s Oasis.
Day 9 – Badlands to Custer – Minuteman Visitor Center, Badlands National Park, Minuteman Missile Silo, Wall Drug, Chapel in the Hills, Mount Rushmore.
Day 10 – Custer to Greybull – Black Hills National Forest, Devil’s Tower, Bighorn National Forest.
Day 11 – Greybull to West Yellowstone – Buffalo Bill Dam, Yellowstone National Park.
Day 12 – West Yellowstone to Portland – USS Hawkbill, Craters of the Moon, Mural of Pennies.

The car itself was a trooper. It didn’t drink any fluids, did pop on O2 sensor around 1/3 of the way (can be ignored, but since fixed), the oil looks perfectly clean, and I got about 22mpg. I was expecting better, but I did have luggage, a bike on the roof (I did bike a lot of places), the O2 sensor could have hurt efficiency a bit, and let’s face it, the car had 135k miles.

It was an awesome trip, I’m so thankful that I was able to do it, and I can’t wait to do more.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • Maryland is the worst. East coast mentality is so east coast. Seems to altogether disappear once you hit Western PA.
  • Pittsburgh is a pretty cool place. Lots of history, a tough demeanor, but everyone was really pleasant. Was surprised to see how much was invented there and how responsible the city was for the growth of our nation.
  • Cleveland had nothing going for it. It was cheap so that was cool. Had lunch and a pretty serious bike repair done for a combined $8.50.
  • Detroit is a very cool town. I know we all joked about buying blocks back when they were for sale for nothing, but we really should have. It’s still mostly a ghost town, but the infrastructure is there, those blocks are now all gone, the people were super friendly (folks in “the hood” would say hello to me from their stoops as I passed, clad in spandex). Young people are flocking. I’m not sure the jobs are there yet, but for someone who telecommutes it’s got a lot of draw if they could do something about those winters.
  • Indiana could go away. My second time passing through it and it’s really got nothing going on.
  • Chicago is always a nice stop. I think I’ve seen the Cloud Gate a half dozen times now. Never gets old. And that lake shore… So nice.
  • There might not be a more friendly place than Wisconsin. It’s almost painful. Mmm cheese and ice cream.
  • I’d been to Minneapolis before, but this was my first time actually seeing it. It’s got a lot going for it. No wonder it ranks really high on all those internet lists, but similar to Detroit – that winter.
  • Not much to say about South Dakota. The woman were all oddly attractive. Young and old.
  • Wyoming is cold. Unexpected. Apparently it’s the second highest state so that makes sense. I’m talking 20 degrees at night. I stayed in a super cool historic hotel in Greybull. Basically had a full apartment for like $50.
  • Idaho is amazingly beautiful no matter where you cross it, but so darned empty. I didn’t know they had volcanic fields there and didn’t expect to see the backside of the Tetons.
  • Oregon is home so I blasted through it in the dark. I’ve got plenty of time to see all it offers.
  • You can make it from Yellowstone to Portland in a day.
  • REI is the bomb. Apparently they used a faulty glue on my 10 year old tent for a totally unimportant piece. I took it in to see if they could reglue it, but instead they gave me a brand new tent. Not what I was looking for, but that’s their policy and why they deserve all your camping business.
  • This country is large. There’s so damned much to see. I’ve now crossed it twice. One of the more difficult things in planning is making those choices that eliminate other possibilities. You simply can’t hit it all. I could easily see needing maybe another six crossings to see all I’d want to see. Time to get planning!
  • I’ve now seen where Trump supporters live.

Adventure Time Planning

Posted on Apr 26, 2016 in Vacation | 7 comments

This time next week I’ll be heading home from DC. I’m inheriting my mother’s car (early 2000s Toyota RAV4) and rather than pay to ship it, why not use it as a chance to see the US again?  Heck, it’s been almost three years since I made the 3000 mile trek; I’m totally due.

My father will be delivering the car to the annual 5k we run (I’ll be walking this year – injuries… bummer) in my mom’s honor/in support of brain cancer. He’ll be bringing it packed with the road bike I had purchased for his place following my mother’s passing (I need to sell it and the Portland Craigslist will do a much better job). I’ll combine the car and bike with a bunch of stuff that I’m bringing and be ready to spend a week or two on the road – camping, working, riding, driving.

Camping

This bit worries me the most. Will I find camping along the way? Will it be warm enough if I take the route I had originally planned (northern through the Yellowstone)? Is camping a dumb idea I should bail on and instead stick to cheap motels? Should I go for a more southern route?

Working

Free wifi has got to be pretty abundant across America. If I plan my days appropriately this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Mobile hotspot + libraries are always a good fallback. I’ve scheduled some vacation anyway just in case I need it, but I’m hopeful I won’t. I have pretty regular meetings three days a week so those days my schedule will be pretty fixed to traditional hours and I’ll need a reliable connection so motels are looking good there. Other than that, anything goes – my work can be done pretty much at any time of the day.

Riding

Thanks to the internet I should be able to find some pretty solid rides everywhere I go. If nothing is published for wherever I may find myself, a quick look at a map should give me an idea of what’s possible. I picked up a Garmin Varia for a little added safety since I’m sure to be on roads that are less cycling friendly than I’m used to (hopefully lower traffic though).

Driving

I’m not sure how I’ll combine the above with managing to drive across the country, but that’ll be part of the fun. Every day will be an adventure. Ride now? Drive now? Work now? Drive to where? Where will I sleep? Where can I get a shower? Do I need a shower? Where will I work? Laundry day? I theoretically have until June 1st to get home, but I certainly don’t want to live on the road that long and if it proves to not be as fun as expected I can always hightail it back. My estimate is 10ish days.

Tips? Advice? Comments? Things I must see? Things I must avoid?

Catching our breath

Posted on Sep 8, 2015 in General, Vacation | 1 comment

Fin.

With our arrival home at 11pm last night, Heather and I completed an absolutely insane final three months of summer. We still have another visitor spending a week with us at the end of the month, but for all intents and purposes, we’re finally able to kick back and relax.

June – Tour de June. Enough said.

July 4 – Annual block party in front of our house. People came from blocks around us, Voodoo parked out front, and the Huangs dropped by from Beaverton.

July 6-7 – Friend from VA spends a couple of nights with us en route to hiking Mt. Rainier.

July 17-19 – Whirlwind tour of Disneyland. We saw absolutely everything. In such a short amount of time, it was absolutely grueling. I’d need the entire week to recover. Pics.

July 25 – Warren came to town for breakfast and shopping.

July 27 – Won my first bicycle race. Mountain biking no less.

August 4-12 – Dad came to town. Many a donut were consumed and we paid a visit to the northern side of Mt. St. Helens.

August 15-24 – Vacation in Hawaii (Big Island). Lots of fun, lots of sun. Volcanos and beaches. Pics.

August 25 – After 11 years, I left QA behind. I’m now a product manager for the software I’ve been testing the past few years. I’m busy as hell, but it’s fun and refreshing.

August 28-30 – Hood to Coast. 198 mile running relay. Ran 17 miles in sub-7 pace. For my non-running self, that was tough. We placed 9th in the Open Mens division despite nearly being Coed (one female away). Heather volunteered and got stuck standing in gale force winds and rain for five hours. She’s amazing. Made a bunch of new friends. Pics.

September 3 – Tuna fishing! Awesome day. Came home with ~50lbs of tuna. Pic. Review.

September 4-7 – Quick trip to VA Beach for Morgan and Kelly’s wedding. Was able to see Linden and crew as well.

We’re both sick now, our cats barely know us, and we’re way behind on all our home projects. It’ll be really good to finally get some rest and get back in our routines. We’re both very much looking forward to it.

Cycling side note: To top it all off, I’ve an additional pounds to twelve show for two months of not really riding. With cyclocross having started this past weekend, the timing is pretty bad. I think I’m going to forego the first race series in an attempt to get my legs back and my belly under control. Can I shock myself back into shape in a month? We’ll find out October 10.