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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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Still Waiting For Sunday Night: Day 2 Fort Collins

Sleep does not come easy for me as I’m still anxious about getting to see the Pack play against the Broncos. Our Sunday Night Football bus is still there. IMG_3546Breakfast is served in the hotel and it is good for a mass produced free breakfast. Bryan and Caitlin join us on this beautiful Halloween morning. Skies are clear as the sun is shining brightly. Bryan maps out an area that Carolyn and I can run and we set off into Denver.

We run towards the state capital building and figure why not get a picture. I’m about to try and snap a selfie and this gentlemen comes strolling up and asks us if we would like him to take our picture. I’m amazed at how friendly people are and he simply says, anything I can do for a fellow Packer fan. IMG_3537You see I’m still wearing my colors out on the run.   We really enjoy running through the side streets and down towards Cherry Creek and Carolyn pushes me into my best mile average time in months. While out out on the run, Bryan is texting me about us all going to Fort Collins and up to the New Belgium Brewery and to the Odell Brewing Company. New Belgium has no room on their tours but Odell is wide open. Sounds like a plan.

My son-in-law is a master at the good deals. He secures a brand new Chrysler mini van with leather for the sum of $17 bucks and it is located across the street at the Hyatt. What a smoking deal. We head off around 12:30 and as we drive down the highway we pass the buses transporting the Packers into Denver. They have police escorts and that just adds to my excitement of waiting for Sunday night. I waved to Aaron but I’m thinking he didn’t notice. On the trip, we pass two Costco’s. You don’t how bad I wanted to go into one of them but I was overruled 3 to 1. Next time.

First stop is Odell Brewing Company. What an epic setting. Beautiful day, beautiful patio, beautiful brewery, and a good tour with a few free tastings. IMG_3539Odell brews my favorite winter time strong stout Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout. Only brewed and bottled in December through February. The beer is named after a local farmer that buys the spent grains used to make the beer and feeds them to the cows. Very intriguing story. We enjoyed sitting out on the patio with the temperature in the 70’s. If you get to Fort Collins, CO you must stop in. The place is packed and great information given. Outside of CO, AZ is the next biggest seller of their brews. Quite interesting to note that they are now in 11 states. Learned a whole bunch about beer on this tour. For example the session in a beer means less then 5% alcohol. Never knew that. Even old guys like me can still learn new things. We also order from the food truck and get some awesome fries with cheese curds and brown gravy on top. Delicious!

Time to move on. Next stop is right down the road and that is New Belgium. IMG_3541They are the fourth largest brewer of craft beers and the eighth largest brewery in the U.S. The place is expanding and is a must see. The tour spots are all taken but we get on the waiting list and I stand by and they go through all these names that are not right there and they finally get to us and we get to take the tour. This tour is a must. You learn everything about their history and it is a great history of guy and his passion for brewing beers in his basement in Fort Collins. You learn all sorts of things. Their flagship beer, Fat Tire, makes up about 51% of all their sales. They started out sort of mimicking the Belgium beers and have gone from there. In fact their brewmaster didn’t even want to do an IPA until they basically made him and of course Ranger was born and it is right up there with the best IPAs out there. I even learned what IPA means and why and how it got its hoppy taste. The tour takes about an hour and a half and well worth it (its free). We getting various tastings and we even see the bottling process and get Fat Tire and Ranger right off of the line. Best beer tour ever.

We learn about company culture and why people want to work there. Don’t believe me? Check out these corporate benefits at New Belgium. Little known fact is I actually own one of their bikes. It is a 2013 model and I know you will be jealous. Did I mention, free beer at various points on the tour? Yes, this company works hard to reduce their use of resources and prides itself in sustainability. Very cool company.

Time to head back to Denver. Bryan has had to make a tremendous sacrifice as our driver and we greatly appreciate his sacrifices. He’s a good man and we continue to discuss the upcoming football game. I let him know that I am most concerned with the Packer receiving corp. They have been decimated and I’m not certain they can continue to win on a quick passing game to rookies. What a trip, but it’s not over. Bryan and Caitlin, decide to take us to this burger joint, The Cherry Cricket. It is one of those hometown classics and the burgers are great. Bryan and I get some half pound burger of the week special with fries and our burger is loaded with jalapeño slices, bacon, onion rings, special sauce, and pepper jack. I just know it rocks!

As we head back to our hotel, we see all kinds of costumes since it is Saturday night. I’m just in hog heaven. This Denver trip is going well. Bryan and Caitlin are such great hosts and Carolyn and I are really having fun with them. You know it is sort of tough keeping up with young people but us golden oldies are doing our best. Day two is in the books the dream continues, but, I’m still waiting for Sunday night.

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Waiting All Day For Sunday Night: The Journey to Denver Begins

IMG_3530 Alright Sunday night where are you? Waiting for the game that leads red,white and blue.You want some football? We want it too. Hey Jack, it’s a fact, the show’s back in town. Stadium’s rockin’, time to crank up the sound. NFL’s best have come to play. Coast to coast, there’s just one thing left to sayyayayayayy,: Iv’e Been Waiting All Day for Sunday Night. Get on your feet for a star-spangled fight. more than a game, its every fan’s right. That’s why were waitin’ all day for Sunday night. 

When the NFL schedules came out last spring, I received a call from my daughter asking if Carolyn and I would be interested  in going to Denver to see the Broncos play the Packers on the first Sunday in November with her and her soon to be husband Bryan. She tells me that her and mom will hang out and Bryan and I can go to the game. Did I have to think about this opportunity? Yeh right. I’m all excited.

Bryan is a forever Bronco fan and me a Packer cheesehead so I’m like are you kidding? Bryan happens to hold two season tickets and so the trip was planned. We got flights arranged, hotel rooms booked, and was I ever excited about the opportunity to spend a weekend with Caitlin and Bryan. I’m all in on this one.

Really, another bucket list trip to some great breweries and a Packers vs Broncos football game? It’s like, pinch me, am I dreaming? Carolyn and I are going to continue to live like we were dying and hit the road for another life adventure.

Travel day is rapidly approaching and Carolyn and I decide to spend Thursday night in the valley so we don’t have to get up and drive come Friday morning. Of course on my ADD plan, I actually get the reservation for our room Thursday morning and it comes out ok considering that Oregon is in town to play ASU and rooms were at a premium. Carolyn and I head to the Tempe area where our room has been acquired at the Sleep Inn on 47th St. south of the Airport since you can park and fly at a very reasonable price and the place is always clean. Great alternative for us out of town people. Carolyn has some things to do so I’m dropped off at Philly’s Sports Bar and Grill on Priest. Very nice place that I had never been to and the place has the Thursday night game on and it is packed. Great little Happy Hour food and prices.

We head out to eat at Boulders in Tempe, and being the savvy shopper that I am, I buy a Groupon for Boulders and present it to our server only to find out that it is for the Boulders on Southern in Mesa. As I told Carolyn, I think we will have to find the Boulders in Mesa before January since I now have a Groupon for it. Sometimes cheap don’t pay off especially when you don’t read it.

Friday morning arrives and we get to the airport way early and enjoy breakfast at Paradise Bakery and we just are sitting around and forget about the time. All of a sudden we realize that we better get going and sure enough there is line through security that stretches forever. By the time we get through security we are at the back of the loading line. with only 15 minutes to spare. As we board, low and behold, there is Caitlin and Bryan sitting in row one with these big grins on their face, like look at me, we are first class. It was priceless seeing their expressions. Ha, all I can do is shake by head and smile as I make my way back to the coach section. They got me on that one.

NoIMG_3562w I’ve been to Denver but I’ve never really been to Denver so this is something I’ve been anticipating for a very long time. I get in some valued reading time on the plane with a Grisham novel Sycamore Row which is tough to put down. Arrival and I am on a mission for some Caribou Coffee. Not including the restroom, it is my first stop upon landing. It is something I always look forward to seeing in areas where they are located. An Uber ride awaits and off we head to Denver.

First stop is the Hampton Inn. Yes the Sunday Night Football bus is parked right there. I’m already getting goose bumps. This just might be the nicest Hampton anywhere. We get our welcome bags that include special welcoming bottles of water. Who can’t help but like a place when they give you bottles with your name on them. Nothing but the best. Packer fans are everywhere. We are all wearing our colors. Oh what fun for an NFL road trip. We unload and first stop is for some small cool downtown eatery that has a good selection of some Colorado craft brews. Freshcraft. One of the servers comes by and lets me know that she is from Wisconsin and a big Packer fan. Her husbands job as a pilot for Southwest has brought them to Denver. I’m liking this Denver place.

We pack it up and next stop is a downtown brewery that has great reviews and one that was on our targeted list of places to go: Great Divide Brewing Company. The place is filled with folks and they all happen to be Packer fans. What fun. Hanging out with these midwestern people who are friendly and just so happen to be passionate about their football. Just an awesome fun place to hang out and enjoy some fine craft brews.

IMG_3533Bryan’s friend, Austin, has joined our group and I suggest that we check out this brewery up the road that I have found on Groupon called Zephyr Brewing Company and I mention this to  my new found Packer friends and they decide that they’re going as well. So we head down the road with a group of green and yellow Packer fans and we probably were quite a sight for sore eyes. We roll by some group of homeless and they were quite entertaining as a couple guys started doing the discount double-check and to us and it was funny. If you don’t know the Aaron Rodgers Discount Double-Check well you just have to look it up. IMG_3534We arrive at Zephyr’s and literally take the place over since there was only two people besides the taproom bartender before we arrived. Yes the Groupon works to perfection. Two pints, and a sampler for 11 bucks. It’s a deal and of course that son-in-law Bryan is not to be outdone, he gets the Groupon as well. The bartender was great and he explains that the son of the owner of the Denver Broncos and the owner of Zephyrs are friends and how maybe they will get their beer into the stadium in the near future. Very nice young man and knew his football. It was a fun little place.

Now for the walk back to the hotel room. It has been a long and eventful day but we still have to eat. After a quick stop, Bryan and Caitlin suggest that we head to Sam’s No. 3 a Denver favorite that has been featured on the Food Network program Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Just a short walk and we are there. Caitlin and Bryan’s first choice was for this high rated pizza joint but the wait was too long so that is how we ended up at Sam’s. We all eat breakfast related food and it was fabulous plus as an added bonus we actually got to use our Entertainment Card for money off on our meals. Got to love getting to use discounts on a road trip. We are all too tired to do anything else so it is in for the evening. As I head off to bed, i’m reading texts from Jordyn as she appears to be having the time of her life at a Third Day concert in LA. Things are looking good.

Day One in Denver is in the books and it has been a great one. Bryan and Caitlin have been great hosts and great tour guides for us Denver rookies. Carolyn and I are feeling blessed. I love this place. I can only imagine what tomorrow will bring. The Living the Dream tour continues.

Posted in Community, Craft Breweries, Family, Football, Green Bay Packers, National Football League, Retirement, Road Trip, Third Day, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Live Like You Were Dying: Grand Canyon Adventure, Part 2: The Climb

The struggles I’m facing
The chances I’m taking
Sometimes might knock me down
But no, I’m not breaking

I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I’m gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep going

And I, I got to be strong
Just keep pushing on

‘Cause there’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose

Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb, yeah!

Songwriters
JESSI ALEXANDER, JON MABE

You guessed it, a Miley Cyrus song.

So I last left you at the bottom of the Canyon, laying on picnic table with visions of bacon rolling through my head. Soon those visions turn to smells as Phantom Ranch comes alive with cooking odors. Five o’clock rolls around and it is time for the breakfast I’ve been waiting for. It does not disappoint. Scrambled eggs, pancakes, orange juice, peaches, coffee, and some thick cut bacon that is out of this world. We sit with a whole bIMG_2909unch of people who have been staying at the cabins and conversation always comes around to that poignant point, “you hiked last night, just to come and eat breakfast?” Of course, that’s what we do and proud to be able to do it. We close the place down as everybody trickles out and I’m still stuffing my face aIMG_2916nd soon my pockets since I figure bacon is the perfect trail snack as we will soon be climbing out. Plus I hate being wasteful anyhow so what’s another five pieces of bacon in the pockets?

Six o’clock has arrived and we are blessed to be able to use almost real facilities, pack up, fill up, get those backpacks on and begin our march out of there. It is a beautiful morning for a hike. What started at 11:00 p.m. is hopefully going to end at 11:00 a.m. Away we go, this time we will pass many on the trail since morning has arrived and Bright Angel is alive.IMG_2919

The colors in the Canyon are incredible. We have some clouds and our early start keeps the sun off of us. The Colorado River is like a Chocolate flow since the Monsoon rains and runoff have turned it to brown.IMG_2921 Jordyn does her poses and snaps numerous photos but who knows where they all are. We arrive in Indian Gardens and this time there are quit a few signs of life. We have passed many people that have left the Phantom Ranch campgrounds as we are on a mission and that breakfast is fueling our drive up. The last couple miles of the Canyon are tough. It feels like you are climbing straight up. As we climb it always amazes us that so many hike without water and in some crazy shoes. I’m not certain how they do it but it is always a topic of discussion for us.

We get to the top of the Canyon at 10:50 and we are feeling giddy from the adrenaline rush as we have conquered the climb in a very good time which included many stops for pictures and rest. So 4:30 going down and 4:50 coming up. Incredible for us anIMG_2935d we did the normal Fruth thing, we had a craft beer to celebrate. I know, shocking but Carolyn had packed us a craft beer from three different Arizona breweries to celebrate. Here goes, Jordyn with a Scottsdale Blonde from Huss Brewing, Carolyn with a WatDCIM100GOPROG0561404.ermelon Wheat from Mudshark Brewery, and me with a Amber Ale from Prescott Brewing company. We figured we would give AZ Breweries some love.

What next, over to El Tovar for some relaxation with a Grand Canyon Pilsner. Sitting out on the patio, taking it all it and I feel great joy that we have made it and are healthy, elated, tired, but alive and well. Watching the tourists go by, IMG_2942as we look out on the Canyon and there is a real sense of accomplishment. We have made another trek that most have never done and most never will do. We have lived the dream another day.

We head to our hotel room, shower, nap, and revive, jump on a bus and head over to some place in Tusayan to watch ASU play. That didn’t go so well and we head back to crash for the evening.

Sleep comes quickly and us tired folk sleep for a long time. Sunday morning has arrived and time has come for us to get going. But first, breakfast at the El Tovar with a great view of the Canyon. Life really is good and this weekend has confirmed again that family adventures really do rock.IMG_2947

As we pack up and go, we stop in Flagstaff and check out the Mother Road Brewing Company since none of us had been there. It is packed, has a great outdoor patio, and fun time to sit and reminisce about our adventures. IMG_1772Five Guys for dinner, a coffee from Dunkin Donuts and we are soon headed home. Another adventure has come to an end but there will be more ahead. Jordyn made us a little GoPro Video. Enjoy her creativity with my camera I don’t know how to use. The song Renegade. It turned out pretty awesome.

We are on to living like we are dying and can only anticipate what lies ahead. The Climb really is significant as we approach the many trials we face and obstacles we must overcome. That is what the Canyon climb means to me. It signifies that I can overcome and do what I once considered undoable. I have conquered the Climb.

I leave you with the lyrics and the song.

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