Thinking Out Loud

Today, I find myself thinking out loud, rambling thoughts, missing my love, and just thinking about being with her again. So here is a glimpse into my soul. This one goes out to my girl, Carolyn.

A few weeks ago, Carolyn and I celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary and we actually had a plan to sneak away into the Rockies but all our planning with the planes never got off the ground. Who could have possibly predicted a meltdown of a computer system that grounded all flights and kept us home. Disappointed but we scrambled and just had to visit a few local breweries since we had planned a brewery tour in Boulder, CO but Scottsdale was all we could do.

I’ve had some comments about still being married after all these years and even though I’m no expert, I have plenty to say but not all of it tonight.

Something sappy? Can I say it has been nothing but a fun ride? Oh what a piece of cake? The truth is, you can’t stay married for 32 years and have it just be some joyous ride. Marriage doesn’t work that way. Perseverance and the desire to stay married has probably worked for us more then anything.

When Carolyn and I got married back in the day, I’m guessing that there are many who probably would have bet against us still being married some 32 years later. It easily could have turned out differently but Carolyn and I have continued to keep moving forward. I would be lying to you if I said it was easy. It wasn’t and isn’t. We have gone through the valleys–the lowest lows but we kept climbing back up the mountain. We never quit even though we may have felt like quitting. Somehow moving beyond the present to look into the future has served us well. There is something about wanting to spend your golden years with the same person you fell in love with so many years ago. So tonight a little video on my Thinking Out Loud.

When your legs don’t work like they used to before
And I can’t sweep you off of your feet
Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love?
Will your eyes still smile from your cheeks?

And darling I will be loving you ’til we’re 70
And baby my heart could still fall as hard at 23
And I’m thinking ’bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe just the touch of a hand
Well, me I fall in love with you every single day
And I just wanna tell you I am
So honey now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart
I’m thinking out loud
That maybe we found love right where we are………..

Cause honey your soul can never grow old, it’s evergreen
Baby your smile’s forever in my mind and memory

I’m thinking ’bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe it’s all part of a plan
I’ll just keep on making the same mistakes
Hoping that you’ll understand

by Sheeran and Wedge

These lyrics have added meaning to me as my legs sure aren’t working like they used to. I would have never thunk that I would be considering a hip replacement. As I close in on a sixth decade of life, my focus sure has changed. So Carolyn even though we can’t be together tonight, I just want to let you know I fall in love with you every single day.

You all got to know I will have more to say, and it might just be sweet like Sugar.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

If Dirt Were Dollars

I haven’t written in ages as I have struggled with what is going on and trying to put down in words what hangs out in my brain. In my own life, I find so much meaning by listening and dissecting music. So the other day, I found myself heading to Phoenix and I decided I haven’t listened to Don Henley in a long while. So I fired up my iPhone and I just so happened to have several Henley albums on my iTunes. Wow, I was overcome with how relevant his lyrics are in many of his songs but one song beat them all: “If Dirt Were Dollars”. The song is from his End of The Innocence album released in 1989.

As I was driving, it occurred to me that Henley has a gift of being able to articulate what many overlook. When the album was released, homelessness had become a major social issue. Henley starts out “If Dirt Were Dollars” writing about an interaction with a homeless man. It’s classic. I get this but I’ll let Don tell the story.

Walkin’ like a millionaire
Smilin’ like a king
He leaned his shopping cart against the wall
He said, “I been a lot of places
And I seen a lot of things
But, sonny, I seen one thing that beats ’em all
I was flyin’ back from Lubbock
I saw Jesus on the plane…or maybe it was Elvis
You know, they kinda look the same
Hey, look out, Junior, you’re steppin’ on my bed”
I said, “I don’t see nothin”
He just glared at me and said,
If dirt were dollars
I wouldn’t worry anymore

Now think about this. This song is from ’89 and somethings just haven’t changed and in fact maybe they have gotten worse. When you look at the underemployed employment rate and you realize that in Arizona, it is one of the toughest places to find a 40 hour a week full-time job according to the latest reports from the Department of Labor.

Driving through Phoenix is almost driving an obstacle course with the large number of people living out on the street and at one time they only visible on freeway entrance ways but now they are literally at every major street corner and some are fighting for space on those corners. In my way of thinking there is a major disconnect with how well the economy is allegedly doing and what is reality.

Henley wasn’t done exposing the hypocrisy of what what was going on. He closes the song with a bitter worldly view of the press and politics. He nails its and 27 years later it still rings true and is as fresh sounding today as it was in ’89.

We got the bully pulpit
And the poisoned pen
We got a press no better
Than the public men
This brave new world
Gone bad again
God’s finest little creatures
Looking brave and strong
Whistling past the graveyard
Nothing can go wrong
Quoting from the scriptures
With patriotic tears
We got the same old men
With the same old fears
Standing at attention
Wrapped in stars and stripes
They hear the phantom drummers
And the nonexistent pipes
These days the buck stops nowhere
No one takes the blame
But evil is still evil In anybody’s name

I just love the bitterness in Don’s word. How many do you know that are quoting from the scriptures with patriotic tears, yeh they are the same old men (women) who are spreading their fears. Yep these days the buck stops nowhere and no one takes the blame, but evil is still evil in anybody’s name. That is so, so true. We have got to remember that evil is still evil.

If you haven’t ever heard the song, it’s a good one.

Fastforward to 2016 and those lyrics are as meaningful today as they were in 1989 and I would argue even more descriptive of what’s happening right now.

Just some thoughts from a crazy man as I find sanity in the simplest of places, music. Today it was a dark one in my own world view and seriously Henley’s lyrics are screaming at me. Tomorrow might just be the end of the innocence but really if dirt were dollars, I wouldn’t worry anymore.

 

Posted in Financial Security, Political Unrest, Politics, President, Presidential Election, Road Trip, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Shot Through The Heart: Who’s To Blame? Game Day Adventures

It is game day. The New York Giants vs New England Patriots. Sunday has arrived and I’m ready for another great adventure in the land of the giants. Up and out, Starbucks is on my radar. It’s NYC but there is a Starbucks everywhere.

IMG_3689

My favorite NYC Starbucks Baristas

Carolyn and I head off with Jordyn to the closest Starbucks to the Roosevelt Hotel. I don’t know what street but literally a two minute walk. Just a window shop type of place. The city has this reputation of being cold and unfriendly. Well these two young ladies aka baristas made my morning. They were friendly and outgoing as I enjoyed talking with them. They have this tip jar out in front and they explained to me how this lady comes in and steals money out of the jar. It’s an elaborate scheme how she uses a napkin to place over the money and then snatch it while they are distracted. Ordering a hot water and then a money grab, out the door, and toss the cup of hot water on the street. It’s a great story and I listened intently. Just look at those faces. Fabulous young people.

We head back to the hotel. Jordyn leaves with Bryan and Caitlin to find the perfect bagel. Carolyn and I get ready for our train trip to the Meadowlands. The city can be intimidating when you are unfamiliar and it is worse for me as my sense of direction has disappeared. We have received great instructions and directions from Laurayne on getting to Penn Central Station and we head off for an early start. Along the way, we head into the original Macys and it is quite amazing. IMG_3693Seriously, there is like an entire floor of women’s handbags. This country boy, aint never seen anything like that. Something like 11 stories of retail. So we go in. I’m hoping that Carolyn doesn’t leave me because I’m not certain I could find my way out of the place. We get Carolyn the NY Giant hat after all we are fans for the day!

We are lost but not lost, finding Penn Central is sort of overwhelming and after a couple of false subway entries, we finally connect, get our tickets and on the train to the Meadowlands we go. IMG_3694I love riding the trains. You get all sorts of folks, from Patriots and Giants fans to some with big personalities. Train once again is under the ground but we exit the ground in Jersey. Switch trains, Dunkin Donuts call and on to the stadium. The ride is short but for me I’m loving the ride as the stadium comes into view. The Meadowlands sits out by itself and is appropriately named. In some ways it reminds me of the Arizona Cardinals stadium since they both sit away from the urban centers. Meadowlands, MetLife Stadium, has advantage of the train. What a convenient way to get to games.

Next stop is Kevin and Laurayne’s tailgate center. IMG_3700It is sunny, cold and blustery, but Kevin is grilling up some masterpieces. He has made some “onion” burger sliders and they are a touchdown! So good in fact, I eat like three of them. And of course they have brought some of those Coney Island Mermaid Pilsners. Just perfect. Bryan, Caitlin, and Jordyn have arrived to join the fun. While there, it is evident that Kevin knows a lot of folks that have a long time relationship with the Giants organization. We even meet Joe Morris, a former Giant running back, currently working with the NFL as part of their uniform police team. Very nice man. Great food, great time with the Crokes.

Kevin has secured three extra field passes for the game. So we head into the stadium down into the tunnel and on to the field. First trip through, Kevin takes Bryan, Caitlin, and Jordyn. Carolyn, Laurayne, and I stand over on the Patriot sideline area and watch the warmups and I’m pinching myself to see if I’m dreaming. After awhile, Kevin reappears and it is now our time to go. Caitlin and Jordyn discuss seeing Jon Bon Jovi. I know I’m in trouble because Carolyn is now all perky. Really, she’s saying seriously, Jon Bon Jovi is over there?MPM_8972

Football sight seeing has now gone to another level. As we enter the Giants sideline area, Kevin is just casually talking with some pretty big shot type of people. Once again I get to meet a former Giant, Harry Carson, a great Hall of Fame linebacker from back in the day. He tells us he has just returned from the Phoenix area and a conference on concussions. What a nice man. Kevin says “hey, you remember Plaxico Burress? Yep. Well your standing next to him.” You might remember him more for accidentally shooting himself in the leg at a nightclub while carrying a concealed weapon illegally in NYC. I thought about saying something but chose to remain silent. You see, I can use good judgment at times.

IMG_3712

Bon Jovi, Goodell, Steve Tisch photobomb

We see Roger Goodell like 10 feet from us.IMG_3707 He has security watching intently. I’m guessing this is his first Patriot game since the judge threw out his suspension of Tom Brady in the deflate gate fiasco. Then Kevin points out Jon Bon Jovi. Carolyn immediately begins hyperventilating. She starts breaking out in song with “Lay Your Hands On Me.” I’m like really? Am I chopped liver? As she faints and collapses on the field, and I’m trying to revive her, I’m singing to her as she lays on the ground “shot through the heart, and your to blame, you give love a bad name.” Kevin replies, “Tim, Keep The Faith.” I’m like, “Kevin, it must be Bad Medicine”.

Ok, maybe a bit embellished but after all, it is my story and I’m sticking to it. (All puns intended.)  It was fun.

IMG_3722

Kevin Cerar with Caitlin and Jordyn

We enjoy a great game after returning to our seats and NY Giants should have won. We say our goodbyes to our most gracious hosts, Kevin and Laurayne. Carolyn and I have sure enjoyed our time hanging out with them and the goodbyes do not come easy. We board the train back to the city. After multiple stops, we arrive and enjoy more New York pizza, head back to the hotel, and meet up with cousin Officer Kevin Cerar IMG_3725who is working. That is a very cool time as we get to spend some time with him. As he heads back off to work we head into the Roosevelt for another Old Fashioned, and finally we crash knowing that this adventure ends and back to reality we go on Monday morning.

We have been blessed beyond belief, from rehearsal dinner, a fantastic wedding, a great gathering at the Crokes, a night in NYC, field passes to the NY Giants vs Patriots game with those fun-loving Crokes, and a stay at the Roosevelt with some Mad Men.

Our time was short but we have made the most of it. Carolyn and I cannot wait to return and hang out with her cousins. I am most appreciative of the time we had and can hardly wait until we meet up again. But I was still shot through the heart. So here is Jon back in the day when he had blondish hair.

Posted in Craft Breweries, Family, Fatherhood, Football, Music, National Football League, Road Trip, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Uptown Funk: Living it Up In The City

Come on, dance
Jump on it
If you sexy then flaunt it
Well it’s Saturday night and we in the spot
Don’t believe me just watch come on!

Mark Ronson w Bruno Mars

The Friday late night wedding partying has now turned into Saturday morning. Uncle John and Aunt Tina are hosting a breakfast buffet. After the last couple nights, I need no food but, I did it anyway. After all they had bacon so I had bacon and then I had more bacon. I’m the baconator. Fun time at the buffet, but it wasn’t quite as lively as Friday night. I’m not saying anybody was hungover but many seemed a bit slow. Goodbyes are said and it has been a fantastic couple of days. The opportunity to come to John and Theresa’s wedding has been memorable in all ways. An event that was not to be missed and we will miss them.

Checkout time has arrived and we are headed off to Kevin and Laurayne Croke’s apartment in Jersey City. I am excited. I have seen the views and can’t wait to see the place. As an added bonus, I’m riding with Laurie in her Audi 5 sports car. Zoom and more Zoom (and that is just in the parking lot) as we are leading a caravan to the apartment. Laurayne and I have lost her mother, Emilie and my mother in law, Carol somewhere in the parking lot and our worry meter has skyrocketed. Put those two sisters together and you never know where they might go. So after a tour around the parking lot they are no where to be found but we have Frank, Lorraine, Robert and Janet behind us so off we go. It is a grand drive for me, seeing the sites along the way. I love the drive but thankful I ain’t driving. We make a myriad of turns and somehow we have now lost Frank and Lorraine. As we pull into park, here comes Frank and Lorraine and Aunt Emilie has reappeared right behind Frank and Lorraine. We are totally mystified but glad that everybody has arrived safely. It probably best we don’t know how they ended up at the right place right behind us.

This apartment thing rocks. From the Crokes’s apartment you can see across the Hudson River into NYC and the Freedom Tower looms straight ahead. It is a phenomenal setting. Sort of breathtaking. Standing on the porch, you can evenIMG_3666 see the Statue of Liberty. It is simply fantastic. Kevin has broke out a Mermaid Pilsner from Coney Island Brewery for me to drink and it is simply the best pilsner I have ever had. It really is light and refreshing. Just my thoughts but it gets a great recommendation from me.We have chips and cheeses just what I needed–more food.mermaid_bundle (2)

We head off from the Croke’s pad for a walk along the river. It is a cool, sunny, but blustery day. A beautiful walk towards Ellis Island. The whole gang heads out our journey minus LorrIMG_3663aine’s mother who we leave back in the apartment guarding (ok, maybe drinking) the wine. I’m blown away as today really has extra meaning with the Paris attackIMG_3664s from yesterday. Here to one side we view the Freedom Tower and to the other side we see the gift from France–The Statue of LibertyLiberty State Park in New Jersey is awesome. Bike paths everywhere and folks are running and biking along the Hudson. Frank points out the old railroad station where the immigrants from Europe were dispersed by train. It is part of the park and in disrepair yet historical and meaningful. I’m thinking it needs to be restored as it is very significant in American history.IMG_3668

After a nice hike and boat ride, we head back to the Crokes and time for Bryan, Caitlin, Jordyn, Carolyn and I to pack up all our suitcases and Uber into NYC. This time our Uber XL is a beat up old Chrysler van but we manage to get all of our stuff in and away we go. Kevin Croke has arranged for us to stay at the famous Roosevelt Hotel. He is the Marketing Director for the Roosevelt and has arranged our reservations. Down through the Lincoln Tunnel we go. I am anxious being under a river and not certain I could get used to that. Claustrophobic!  We are out and on our way.

We arrive at the Roosevelt Hotel, and I am pumped up. Caitlin had suggested that Carolyn and I should watch Mad Men on Netflix. The Roosevelt Hotel is featured in Mad Men as part of the Madison Avenue scenes. I’m getting a Mad Men groove. If you haven’t seen it well it’s a gritty business drama that takes place in NYC in the 1960’s. We settle in to our suite and it is sweet. Kevin has delivered the goods and to top it off, up comes a wine, cheese and fruit platter. Wow. I’m living it up in the city. Jordyn has her own room and bathroom. I’m thinking this is grand. We settle in and head off into the night for some sight seeing. Time to change so I’m Stylin’, whilen, livin’ it up in the city Got Chucks on with Saint Laurent Got kiss myself, I’m so pretty

IMG_3677

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Uncle Paul’s pizza, Maloney’s Bar or something like that since they all have Irish namesIMG_3674, Heartland Breweryand of course we walk around the city at night–Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Empire State Building, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It is fantastic. To make it all more meaningful to me, I was notified a week earlier that I had won a signed copy of Nelson DeMille’s rereleased book Cathedral. The book was originally written in 1981 and is one of my favorite DeMille stories. Cathedral is about a hostage situation involving the Irish Republic Army that takes place in St. Patrick’s Cathedral on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s as relevant of a story today as it was back in 1981. On a side note, DeMille is one of Alison Cerar’s favorite authors and he lives close to her mother. Alison has met him a few times. I’m just a bit jealous.

Law enforcement is out in force with added security everywhere. It is a people watcher’s dream. You just about see everything imaginable. This is my first evening in NYC so I’m playing  tourist.

It is time for a trip back to the hotel and to the famous Roosevelt Hotel Bar. Why? It is a Mad Men thing and I am determined to have a world famous Old Fashioned. That Uptown Funk is rolling through my head. Stop, wait a minute Fill my cup, put some liquor in it Take a sip, sign a check

IMG_3678Bryan and I enjoy the ambiance of the Madison Club Lounge. Our bartender, Tony is right out of the movies. He’s classic and I feel like I’m in a movie scene or at least a Mad Men scene. He makes the very best Old Fashioned I have ever had. He tells us some good stories and is just what we imagined as our NYC bartender. We enjoy our time. IMG_3681We get to talk with Tony, and he is a bartender right out of the movies. Classic place for a libation.

Time to hit the room as tomorrow is bound to be an incredible day with another grand adventure.
Yes indeed I’ve been having an Uptown Funk evening.

Posted in Craft Breweries, Family, Relationships, Retirement, Road Trip, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jump On It: Wedding Time Trip To Jersey

IMG_3621Tonto, (Tim) jump on it, jump on it, jump on it…
Kemosabi, (Uncle Bob) jump on it, jump on it, jump on it…
Custer, (Uncle Frank) jump on it, jump on it, jump on it…
Apache, (The Cerars) jump on it, jump on it,

Sugarhill Gang

So Thursday morning me and my girls plus Grandma Carol jumped on it and headed out to New Jersey for Cousin John Cerar’s wedding. Of course our day would start with an over an hour plane delay on American Airlines, so we jumped on it and headed over for a Bloody Maria. Why? I have no clue, we were on vacation So with a long plane delay why not? We had to leave Bryan behind due to him working on obtaining his Certificate to become a flight instructor. That meant he was “auditioning” the entire day in Tucson. He would join us on Friday morning.

After getting in Newark, we managed to catch a Uber XL and rode for an hour in rush hour traffic in a nice Black Escalade. That only cost me a hundred and twenty bucks but we arrived in style at the Marriott in Saddle Brook, NJ. We rapidly changed and grabbed another Uber XL (this time a Honda Pilot) and off to the rehearsal dinner hosted by Uncle John and Aunt Tina Cerar. Was it ever good. The food never ended. Hot appetizer, then Pasta, the a salad, then a choice of entrée, then desert. By the time this little dinner was over, I couldn’t even button my pants and I still had a wedding to go to on Friday. We got to hang out with Carolyn’s cousins and OMG, they are beyond fun to hang out with. Kevin and Alison Cerar, Kevin and Laurayne Croke, Jeff and Amy Cerar, and of course the soon to be husband and wife John and Theresa. It was great time but we have more to do. Included in the evening was our Aunt Emilie Cerar. She is always fun to hang with.

So we jump back on it and head back to the hotel bar. The Jets were playing the Bills on Thursday Night Football and Cousin John is a big Bills fan while his brother Jeff and their father Uncle John are Jets fan. It was a rocking time and we sure livened the place up. And Cousin John gets the win. While hanging out, Caitlin gets a call from Bryan that he has passed his multiple flying tests and instructing tests and he is now officially a Certified Flight Instructor. This is big and joyous news, so we have multiple reasons to celebrate. Bryan has a red eye to catch so he can join us in the morning.

Friday the 13th has arrived. I didn’t sleep so well but I’m not letting that stop me. I take off with Jeff on a “buy some beverages” run. It is a fun trip and I get to talk with Jeffrey who is a high school math teacher and a football coach. He’s doing well and teachers are near and dear to my heart so it is a great time on the road. Once we return I go to Dunkin Donuts to get some much needed coffee. Carolyn returns from a run/walk with her mother and Aunt Em. Carolyn convinces me to go out for a run with her. She’s already run but she only ran 3.5 miles so she wants to do the run again and I jump on itIMG_3624IMG_3625. Beautiful park run along a creek that has bike/walk, run paths that go for over six miles. One would never know you are in a city. The leaves are colorful and it is a nice crisp day. I’m thinking it isn’t going to make up for all the calories I’ve absorbed and am about to absorb.

Carolyn’s cousin Karyn has now arrived with Anthony. Uncle Frank and Aunt Lorraine Cerar and their cousins Bob and Janet Colbert have found their way to the hotel. I don’t know what that makes Bob and Janet to me but they are sure fun to be around. So we added in more cousins and aunts and uncles and I tell you that this is going to be a fun evening.

As we get dressed to head to John and Theresa’s wedding, the news of the bombings in Paris has started to circulate. Here we go to celebrate while at the same time mourning for those in Paris. There are buses to take us to the The Venetian and we arrive in time. The room is packed and the wedding goes off without a hitch. Cousin John has married his beautiful bride, Theresa. She looks spectacular and full of life. She is a warrior.

I eat so much during the cocktail hour that I am stuffed. For the 225+ guests, there is a sushi bar, an entire roasted pig, prime rib, seafood–clams, oysters, Mexican food bar, fresh veggies, and on and on and of course an open bar. I thought for sure that this must be the dinner but it isn’t. We move on to the next grand ballroom.

The time for wedding party introductions has come and then it is time to move on to dancing and so Carolyn and I “jump on it”. The highlight in all of this is Jeff toasting his brother. One funny story after another. It is absolutely hilarious.

Carolyn and I are sitting with Bob and Janet. I’m not certain what is but Bob and I always seem to have a riotous time. I eat for the umpteenth time and my waist continues to expand right before my eyes. Bob and I have our theme, Jump On It and of course we get to circle around and do our best Jump On It moves. The guests dance the night way. Jordyn gets a sample of “tonights going to be a good night” fun. Watch for Bryan, as he moves to avoid the camera. Don’t Believe Me, Just Watch.

IMG_3656IMG_3655Our party bus heads back to the hotel. The mood is light since we are all celebrating John and Theresa’s wedding but there is talk of Paris in close conversations. All of us have been keeping tabs on the events.

As we are about to leave, we have the beautiful bride “jump on it” for the ride to the hotel. It is quite the trip. Jordyn is in the front seat arguing with the bus driver over the radio stations. We find out the driver keeps rotating the stations adding for a static filled ride, driving all a bit wacky. When you look at the pictures, note that Uncle John is on the right and Uncle Bob is on the left. Now you know who is who and it was a “Jump On It” ride to the hotel.

After-hour parties continue and we finally hit the rooms around 2:00 EST. We have had a great wedding and a great celebration with family. Just around the corner a Saturday Uptown Funk is awaiting. Saturday night and we in the spot — Don’t believe me just watch.

Jump On It

Posted in Family, Fatherhood, Relationships, Road Trip, Running, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Have I Got a Long Way to Run: Ragnar 2015

Are these times contagious
I’ve never been this bored before
Is this the prize I’ve waited for
Now as the hours passing
There’s nothing left here to ensure
I long to find the messenger

Have I got a long way to run
Have I got a long way to run
Yeah, I run
Yeah I run

Is there a cure among us
From this processed sanity
I weaken with each voice that sings
In this world of purchase
I’m going to buy back memories
To awaken some old qualities

Have I got a long way to run
Have I got a long way to run
Have I got a long way to run
Have I got a long way to run
Yeah, I run
Yeah, I run
……….

by Ed Roland, Collective Soul

Run by Collective Soul

Do I ever have a long way to run! In fact, 15+ miles lie ahead.

A short week and back at it for another weekend adventure. I still haven’t unpacked from Denver and now I’m packing for the Ragnar Trail Run at McDowell Mountain Park. It’s Friday morning and not unusual for me the ADD guy, I wait until the last minute to pack and of course it causes problems. This time though, I only had to return one time for forgetting something and I recalled that I had left my pillow as we were driving down the Longhorn Road. What prompted my recall? Carolyn asked me if I had everything. Only delayed us about five minutes. Of course I later recalled that I had forgotten my nasal spray but it was too far down the road to return. We did manage to leave the house by 7:10 which is about 20 minutes earlier then I had anticipated.

It is a cold morning as we arrive in Fountain Hills and stop by Starbucks. This is one of my favorite ones since it is a cool place to hang out and drink coffee. Carolyn and I get the opportunity to sit and relax and nibble on their pre-prepared breakfast sandwiches. By the way, I could care less if the cups don’t say Merry Christmas. I love their sandwiches and their coffee, so all is good. We head to Safeway and meet up with Nicole from Dr. Winterholler’s office and I get my bargain shopping on and there are some great buys. A can of refried beans with lime, a coconut water, some body wash, and even some AAA batteries are all marked 50% off and the cost is even less since the items are on sale. I always take time to find a bargain.

Nicole piles her stuff in with ours and it appears that we are preparing for Armageddon. All I can do is shake my head and figure that on this running event, I will probably gain about 10 lbs. We head to McDowell Mountain and it is already packed with camping runners. We IMG_3607drop our stuff off at our team camp that Lynn Waters, our captain, has set up the previous day. It’s quite the camp with air mattresses, sleeping bags, grills, chairs, blankets, ice chests, food, and more food. Lynn is the queen of camping.  Home away from home.  We are the Beauties and the Beasts. I’m clearly no beauty and I sure wouldn’t qualify as a beast but it is what it is. Last year we finished #261 out of 360+ teams. Will we improve?

The run has started for our team at 9:30. Lynn is volunteering at the start line. She has had to put a lot of work into this event and she is still working. Just crazy. Now that is what I call a Captain. Lanie is out on the course. She will be followed by Michael, Nichole, Karen, me, Carolyn, and Lynn. The day is warming up nicely and there appears to be a couple thousand participants milling around.

MapThere are three loops one must run and you do them in order. First runner of the day has the green loop “easy” one at 4.1 miles, second runner must do the yellow loop 4.7 miles, and the third runner starts with the red loop of 6.6 miles. You run with a number and a timing chip that is embedded in the number and you hand this off to the next runner. The cycle repeats itself and each runner ends up running all three loops. Approximately 15.4 miles over the next 24+ hours.

Sometime in the early afternoon I take off on my first loop which just so happens to be the “red” loop. It is a beautiful day, the sun is shining brightly, and I’m on the trail. After 3/4 of a mile the trail starts heading up a long  hill. I have cruised along just fine at a nice pace and that all goes awry. I pass folks on the run IMG_3608and knew I was in trouble as I pass this fit woman throwing up somewhere between mile one and two. I’m like OMG, she still has about five miles to complete. No headphones for me as I enjoy the solitude of the run. Tough and tiring. The hill crests and as I run on the vista, I am at peace still wondering what am I doing running on a trail in the middle of the IMG_3609afternoon. I spend a lot of time looking at the ground to make sure that I’m not stepping in holes or on rocky points, cactus, etc. I do finish and hand off the racing belt to Carolyn around 2:00. I’m beat but I feel pretty good. I have got the long one done in a 11:00 minute mile pace. Considering all things I’m happy. Nicole’s boyfriend Max has arrived and with his arrival he has brought me a gift. A bottle of Bulleit Rye Whiskey. Life is looking up and I am overjoyed that I have something to look forward to sipping at home. I tell Nicole, this guy is a keeper. Anybody that appreciates a good whiskey has to be a good person. (my opinion)

Misery is on the horizon. I eat the pasta dinner and go rest in the tent. My next run starts after dark and it is the “yellow” course.  I am dreading the thought of running this course and to run it at night has me worried. The temperature has dropped rapidly to where I’m freezing.  It’s after 9:00 as I receive the timing belt from Dan. There is no moon, just a bunch of bobbing headlamps out there on the trail. This trail is a rough one. Constant up hills and down hills, my headlamp is shooting out low lumens as the batteries are weak. I’m scared of falling, getting hurt, since I can’t see very well. It is a miserable time for me and I finally get in at a 13 minute pace. It’s almost 11:00 when I hand off the belt to Carolyn. I head back to camp, defeated and tired, and crawl into my sleeping bag. No sleep but I do rest. These camps are noisy and fairly wild. The porta potties are nonstop with doors banging and it is quite an experience. Carolyn gets back from her “red” run and she has nailed it in less then an hour. She keeps track of all those she passes and she swoops by some 30+ runners in the dark at better then a 10 minute pace. She is exhilarated, I’m ready to quit. Somewhere in the night, I manage to sleep, I only know this because I do dream. I dream of things not related to running in the dark. In reality, Carolyn says I must have been asleep because I was snoring. (remember I forgot my prescription nasal spray) While I am sleeping, we do have one running casualty. Karen falls and somehow manages to finish the red loop but she is done. Captain Lynn is going to pick up the 4.7 yellow loop. That’s the tough one.

Morning has broken and it is cool start but the sun is warming up fast. Lanie has left camp to go help with the Girls On the Run event in Payson. That is some dedication as she has left immediately after her run and will return for our picture. Not only that, I think that is quite commendable that she is donating her time to get young girls interested in running.

I am ready to run. (not really) I head out on the green loop which is supposedly the “easy” loop. Easy to some, hard to me. You have a gradual climb but I manage to get to the halfway point and headed back towards the finish line. I pass a young lady and say hello only to hit a rock and immediately crash and burn. She asks me if I’m ok and I tell her I think so but I’m a bit bloodied and she does remind me that I have fallen not on a hill but on the straight path. Just a bit sore and of course embarrassed I go on ending my last run, ready for the end. My ankles, knees, hips, back, and shoulder all hurt and now my pride has been hurt as well.

Our team finishes out and we are done sometime around 11:00. We have finished in 25:51.  That is an improvement of about five minutes. I find that funny. We cross the finish line together and pick up our bling (medal) that serves as a bottle opener, a cutting tool, can opener, IMG_3618 IMG_3619and definitely could do some damage if used as a weapon. We get our pictures taken and time to pack up and head for home. As Carolyn was finishing her last leg, I had taken the liberty to get our stuff organized and ready to go. I know surprising. But I did. After Lynn has completed the run and our campsite tent and all has been broken down, I decide to go get my vehicle so we can load up our stuff. Nicole and Max decide to go as well and we all pile in a van. Life is strange. Totally unpredictable. We start moving forward a12122887_10205651666673333_1993798347863299691_nnd this guy comes out and wants to know if he can catch a ride on the shuttle. We have room so I slide over and he gets on gingerly, whining and complaining about his aches and pains. I tease him a bit about being a wimp in a friendly way and a way to lighten the mood on the van. He stops and looks over at me and well, I will let him explain from his Facebook post:

So I do this crazy Ragnar stuff and at the end of an arduous 24 plus hour event, I squeeze onto a shuttle that takes us back and forth to our cars parked a few miles from base camp. There’s some happier-then-he-should-be fellow sitting next to me. My brain has to access a 30 plus yr old “database” to see that I’m sitting next to one of my High School coach and teacher, Mr. Tim Fruth. Just can’t get any more cool than than that!!! Boom! 

It is my Facebook friend Kenny Hughes, who I have not seen since he graduated some 30 years ago. Wow. Crazy. We bring the van to laughter as we reminisce about Payson High School. As I would say, just epic. Something I will never, ever forget. W12115644_10208136473274330_9153679869208524389_ne take a selfie and get photo bombed. Thousands of runners, multiple shuttle vans, and somehow we end up next to each other. It makes my day and my week complete. Pure joy.

What’s left is the picture event and that goes without a hitch. It is now past noon so hunger has crept in even though I have snacked all night long. Max, Nicole, Carolyn and I decide to stop and get some food i.e. a craft beer. We come across the All American Sports Grill. Nice setting, slow service, food was ok, and overall it was enjoyable relaxing on the patio. Nice downtown area.  something I only dream about in Payson. It is beautiful looking out towards the Four Peaks.

Finally headed for home and some relaxation with Mad Men on Netflix. Life is good on the run but our next adventure is just around the corner–NYC wedding day. I’m Living the Dream while running against the wind.

Posted in Family, Ragnar, Relationships, Retirement, Road Trip, Running, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Waiting All Day for Sunday Night: Game Day

Ah, Game Day has arrived in Denver. Breakfast is served and I sneak into the Homewood Suites side of the hotel for my free breakfast since it looked a little better then the Hampton side this morning. It is a bit overcast to start and Carolyn decides that we need to run after eating so away we head down the street, across the river, along the river, and towarIMG_3547ds Sports Authority Stadium. A quick pic and we head back on our run this time stopping in at a world class REI. It is like a IMG_3548warehouse looking building with a Starbucks inside so Carolyn goes a shopping and me a hanging out with some coffee. I must admit, this REI is spectacular in every way. Climbing walls, lofts, Starbucks, huge camping sections, it is something you have to see to believe. Knowing that we were going to stop, I brought along a card because I just knew Carolyn would find something to buy and we did. A Denver Starbucks coffee cup and a clearance North Face sweatshirt for (can you guess who?) wrong not me but the other half. We make a deal between us and the transaction is complete. IMG_3559Now to get back to the hotel. You guessed it, off for thIMG_3550e finish of the run with Carolyn packing the goods like she is running with a football or maybe like she is running from the cops. It sort of looked that way as we run down the road. The run finally ends and it is time to get ready for some Sunday Night Football. Woo hoo, time to pull out the Aaron Rodgers jersey and go green. I’m all about going green.

After cleaning up, we head down town for some pregame activities and watch some Sunday afternoon football and I get to see the Bengals beat the Steelers so that is a plus. Caitlin and Bryan are all decked out in their Bronco gear and as we walk around we see a whole bunch of green and yellow right alongside the Bronco faithful. IMG_3565 IMG_3564Very cool downtown scene has unfolded. One of the places we stop on 16th is Henry’s Tavern. Fun place and packed with fans from the Packers and Broncos. So we get pepped up and ready for some football. Us vs Them. What a great Sunday afternoon, warm and welcoming. We talk about taking the light rail system to the game but in the end we once again go with Uber. Nice guy and he rolls us over to the stadium and it is time to tail gate with whoever wants to feed us and provide us withIMG_3600 something to drink.

So of course we head into the parking lot and to the Packer faithful. One can argue but without a doubt the Packer fans travel better then any other fans and they are arguably the friendliest fans in the NFL. Sure enough we get hooked up with Coors Lights if we want them and burgers and a whole smorgasbord of foods. I jump right in the middle of tIMG_3603IMG_3604he fun. We meet some young fans from Green Bay who are a laugh a minute and one of them tells us all kinds of cool things about his family and Green Bay and back in the days when they played some games in Milwaukee. He tells Carolyn and I that he can hook us for some tickets in Green Bay next year. I get his phone number and who knows it might be worth the effort. Another trip to Green Bay? I’m down with that.

Carolyn and Caitlin are the hits of the tailgate parties as Bryan and I carouse through the area. Lots of laughter and good times are to be had. It is very rare when you see fans from opposing teams get along so well. Lots of interesting and well represented vehicles out in the tailgate areas. One guy fromIMG_3602 Wisconsin drives this 1966 RV to one away game a year. It is all Packers insiIMG_3569de and outside. The gentleman tells me the story, welcomes me into his Packermobile and gives me his Packer history. All the games, all the memories, it is quite fascinating. Of course there are some very cool Broncomobiles as well. This is like an adventure just being in the tailgate section. IMG_3601I think it is safe to say “we are having a good time!” (This Sunday Night Football clip was from the Spanish broadcast but only one I could find with a Packer/Bronco part in it.)

Bryan and I head into the stadium and our women head to a sports bar, Brooklyn’s, located next to the stadium. Sounds like trouble but I’m certain they are going to be quite popular “over there.”

As I probably stated, Bryan is a season ticket holder so I am a most thankful beneficiary of his generosity as two unbeatens are about to wage a football war. We head to the seats and the stadium is a rocking. Chants of “Go Pack Go” are echoing through the stadium due to the Green and Yellow almost everywhere. Of course the Broncos outnumber the opposition but I think it is safe to say, many of the Bronco faithful sold their tickets to out of towners.

The game unfolds and I am living the dream being on the road to see such an event. We all know that the Packers end up getting orange crushed by the Broncos but that doesn’t take away from the fun I’m having. As we leave, I’m still walking in the clouds and will not be heartbroken over a football game.

We gather up our giddy women and decide to walk the two miles or so back to the hotel. Caitlin and Carolyn have all kinds of adventure stories to tell us about their barroom experience at Brooklyn’s and Carolyn has been injured by a massive Packer fan that gave her a crushing hug. How many can say they probably got bruised ribs from being hugged? Well at least they had a blast and survived. They are most entertaining on the walk back to the downtown. We end up at Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery because it is open and lucky for us, late night happy hour food specials! Our timing is impeccable. (We had to wait about 10 minutes to order to get that pricing but that’s the way Bryan and I get it done.)

The morning plane ride back to Phoenix awaits and I am disappointed only in the fact that the Packers saved their worst game for me. My favorite, Aaron has his worst game of his career and I’m there to see it. Boo hoo life goes on and I’m just saying even with a crushing loss, this has been the weekend of a lifetime. Carolyn and I had the best of times with Bryan and Caitlin. We will be forever thankful that they suggested the trip and invited us to go. Our live like we are dying moments are things that we will always relish. Living the Dream marches on.

Posted in Craft Breweries, Family, Fatherhood, Football, Green Bay Packers, National Football League, Relationships, Retirement, Road Trip, Running | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment