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Fourth Of July Fireworks!
Posted - Jul 8th, 2013 10:01pm
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To whatever deity, pyromaniac philanthropist, or cosmic mishap that was responsible for making fireworks legal in Gilbert a few years ago - I am forever in your debt.

No longer do I have to drive around aimlessly seeking an acceptable dirt lot to gaze at fireworks from the air-conditioned biosphere that is my car in July.  Instead, I can make my own seat - up front and center at a show of my own creation, and I can enjoy that show with my neighbors, my friends, and any number of crazy rednecks that randomly show up with a beer in one hand and a roman candle in the other.

Had so much fun this year - both making a bunch of new displays(thank you cannonfuse.com) and setting them off in front of an appreciative crowd just down the street in a community cul-de-sac.  If it weren't for the likelihood of sacrificing one or more digits to the firework gods I'd say this would be fun to do for a living.

Thanks to everyone who came down for the show and huge thanks to my wife for not minding that I spent an inappropriate portion of our income on things with fuses attached.
A shot of some of these displays setup in the garage A closer shot of the noisemaker A simple mortar board Sadly - I didnt even get to set these off :( This was outside my neigbors house int he morning - its like someone got drunk on fireworks and then threw up.
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Fishing Lake Bartlett June 2013
Posted - Jul 8th, 2013 9:53pm
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It had been far too long since my dad and I went fishing.  So even though it was screamin hot, we decided to head out to lake Bartlett to try and catch a giant flathead or two.

Bartlett is looking pretty good this year.  The lake is full unlike the last few times we've been there and its full of shad, minnows and other bait fish.  We went on a Thursday so we didn't have to deal with other boaters either - pretty much the perfect conditions.

We started off the afternoon by catching bluegill around the docks.  No clue why flathead like the spiny little monsters but the bigger the better and after an hour or two we were all set.  We then traveled up towards the north/river end, found a cove to anchor in and set out the underwater light.

The cycle is always the same - first the plankton show up right on the light.  Next come the minnows that start circling round.  The shad come by a little later and dart in and out of the light.  Then if your lucky the big fish start showing up to chase the shad.  I know that doesn't sound that exciting but its always fascinating to watch and is one of the reasons (along with the absence of sunlight) that night fishing is so fun.

It took a little while, but the bigger fish did eventually show.  Around 9pm we picked up our first crappie - one of the largest I've ever seen.  Then it was one here, one there, until we boated our 30th around 2am and called it a night.  We did put out some bluegill for flathead but it was a half-hearted effort after such a good night and I think we were both just happy to crash out under a starry sky.

We tried bass fishing for a little while in the morning and did catch a couple of small ones but it was crazy hot so we cleaned the fish, packed it in, and called it a day.

I'm kind of ashamed it had been so long since my dad and I had been fishing.  I hardly ever meet anyone who goes in my line of work and its even rarer to find someone who will fish all night then get up and start again at 5am.  Thanks dad for takings me fishing.
This is from my dads last trip to Bartlett - its the kind of flathead we were hoping to catch.... mabye next time Flat, sunny, and hot - a perfect Bartlett afternoon. Rushin up the lake at sunset My dad testing the early morning topwater bite. The first and only bass of the trip Fortunately the crappy fishing was a whole lot better :) Its a crummy picture - but a fantastic fish.  That dial reads 2.5 lbs! The stringer was so heavy this is the best my dad could do to lift it!
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Saguaro Man 2013
Posted - May 29th, 2013 12:50am
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A while back I made my second sojourn to Snowflake Arizona and the strange amalgamation of humanity that makes up Saguaro Man.  I think I needed a break to both appreciate the experience and to rest up enough to write about it without just complaining about exhausted I was.

Looking back I'm glad I went.  Sure - I was wiped out from the wedding/honeymoon/idiotarod/voodoo doll/etc, but I also have really fond memories of flying kites in the middle of the day, dancing in the frozen night air in a lizard costume, and once again meeting some of the most interesting people on the planet.  I'd give shout outs to them but their names are long since lost.  Not that it would really matter.  In addition to taking on "burner" names, folks seem to find a side of themselves that only exists out there, and this side tends to be strangely disassociated from who they are amongst the cubes and freeways that make up our everyday life.

My wife Tara and her brother once again braved the trip with me, as did Denny, Stephanie, Hunter, Laura, Kevin, Kellie and McCoy.  We fit in about as well as we do anywhere.  Not quite funky enough for the hippie crowd, not quite stoned enough to be wanderers, not quite intense enough to be artists.  Instead, we did as we have done in the past.  Take joy in our own company, befriend those who drop by our camp, and wander about taking in the sites and sounds.

McCoy was the real star in our little troupe.  Apparently the one thing that all desert fester's can agree on is their love of free massages.  He set out his table and tent the first day, and there was waiting list every moment thereafter.  Maybe like Descartes, I can divine all the answers we seek from that single indisputable fact.  Though I fear my own conclusions far too much to do this.

In retrospect, it seems like it went by all too fast.  I'm slowly learning that it takes me a couple days to detach from my routines and live by my own whims(when such things are possible).  I guess there is a part of me that has to accept that its ok to have tequila at 3pm or hungrily down grilled cheese at 3am.  Its the same side that secretly likes the predictability of my drive to work or the simplicity of a corporate job.

Ever since we left I have been wondering if we will be back.  I guess we'll see - there's so much that Tara and I want to do this year.  Then again there's only so many places you can go bicycle jousting, down a lifetime supply of free margaritas and then earnestly debate the feasibility of artificial intelligence around a campfire.
After setting up camp for 5 hours - I was toast. The yurt looked pretty good though! No camp of mine shall ever be complete again without a giant voodoo doll. McCoy puts out the word  Everthing a massage therapist needs to get down to business.  And the people arrive!  This was one of our neighbors.  Nicest person ever.  Fashion is whatever you make it in the desert. But like all places, owners eventually begin looking like their pets.  I believe there was dancing... or maybe just vogue-ing?  There was definitely partying.  Laura and Kevin are natural born burners. 'Your tripping balls aren't you' Kellie did her best to be serious.  I did my best to be silly Tara did her best to be an art installation.  Some of the art there is fascinating.  and some of it just creeps you out. of course some of it defies categorization.  Most of it is beautiful though. After dark theres a whole new set of things to check out. Even a camp can become art.  Or it can be built as art. I found this flame thrower both artistic and handy! Of course the big art pieces must meet their fiery demise. The temple this year was subtle but very cool. I like this photo - it does a wonderful job of describing what its like to watch this stuff burn in the middle of the night. This makes me smile every time I look at it. Till next time... hopefully it won't be too long.
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The Voodoo Doll Project
Posted - May 29th, 2013 12:47am
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I'm not much of an artist when it comes to the classic mediums - but give me a home depot and I can build you just about anything.  Thus I think I've known ever since I went to Burning Man a few years back that I wanted to build something for one of these desert festivals which are all about artwork made from random urban materials

I finally got my chance earlier this month when I volunteered to build a giant Voodoo doll for this years Saguaro Man.  The theme of this years local burn was "Superstition", and our camp decided to go with a voodoo theme to go along with that.

From the moment it was mentioned, I had a picture in my head of what I wanted to build.  Not the dark device found in the back alley of a new orleans bar, but a giant silly stuffed animalesque critter with a giant heart and a big ol head.  Something to make people smile and something to make my neighbors wonder what I'm doing this time.

The following pics should lay out pretty well what I came up with and how.  Hope you enjoy it and if you ever need to build one yourself maybe it will come in handy.
I searched through a lot of voodoo doll drawings before settling on this design.  As you can see - the technical drawings were very detailed. Joan's supplied the right style/color of burlap.  The ever helpful folks at home-depot suggested the cardboard pouring tubes as well as the redwood (for its weight).  I tried to keep the duct-tape use to a minimum but a little bit couldn't be helped.  Testing the burlap wrapping.  Even this little bit took a few hundred staples.  Some more boards and some more cardboard tubing helped the body take shape.  The boards go all the way to the end to give the burlap/staples something solid to go on.  Some chicken wire across the front gave it a nice smooth shape.  Obviously the burlap was going to take a lot of work to tidy up. About 50 hours in its really starting to take shape.  The arms and head needed to be removable to fit in the trailer.  These brackets and a few bolts were the solution. I realized once I got the arms on that my original design of smaller legs looked terrible.  I rebuilt them with larger concrete tubes over the next few days.  One of the arms completed and ready to go.  Notice the 4 holes at the top for the bolts. Just eyeballing the head here with some cardbard balanced on an oil pan.  Very professional stuff here.  I wanted a little shape to the face so I built it in three parts making the middle panel slightly larger.  Super happy with how the heart came out.  Thanks to my wunderbar wife for drwaing and cutting that out (my attempts were less than stellar).  I added some stitching and a darker tone of burlap to the hands/feet. This was the first time I assembled all the pieces.  So happy with the result. I sewed on a few buttons I made from leftover wood and stitched on a quirky smile to finish the look.   The pins were a last minute addition.  Just some aluminum tubes and spray painted spongeballs.
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Idiotarod 2013
Posted - Feb 1st, 2013 5:18pm
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I think the Idiotarod is my favorite yearly activity.  Its become a season in my life kind of like spring or fall... neither of which really exist here in phoenix.

I've actually taken part in it the last 2 years although I haven't posted about it.  Both because I've been a bit busy and because the band wasn't quite together either time.  Last year I was out of town for race-day and the year before our prime passenger Amy had to be replaced by 2nd Amy due to a severe case of pregnancy.

This year though the whole crew was present once again, and we got started a little earlier on the construction side (aka more than a weekend before).  I think the result was our best cart yet.  We managed to take a beleaguered shopping cart from the depraved ditches of Gilbert and turn her into a Hollywood style X-Wing that would make George Lucas digitally edit it into his last grocery store trip.

Before I get to how the actual race went, let me rehash the basics for those who haven't been reading this site for 2 years (shame on you whoever you are).  The Idiotarod is a race held in downtown Phoenix each year. 4 people push 1 passenger in a shopping cart from secret destination to secret destination until you reach the finish line somewhere between 2 and 3 miles away.  There's a challenge at each destination that usually involves drinking some sort of terrible alcoholic beverage (aka a jar full of vodka and habanero soaked tampons).  Completing the challenge gets you the location of the next stop.  The shopping carts are decorated/turned into art pieces and the teams dress up to match.  Awards are given out for best cart/costume and occasionally the team that wins the race... though often that is hard to determine.  Sabotage is encouraged - as is throwing various forms of filth at other teams (pudding, saw dust, brownie mix etc..).  Its kind of the greatest thing ever.

As for our performance this year - we had a little trouble and actually finished towards the back of the pack.  In fact, we got stuck so long at one event that we staged a revolt and overran the judges.  It was basically my proudest moment ever.  We also got stuck along with about half of the other teams at a parking garage.  There were supposed to be 2 people on the top floor handing out the next location, but they didn't show up.  This left 20 teams pushing shopping carts up and down the parking garage ramps looking for them until one team cheated their way to the location of the next stop.  The other thing that was nuts this year was the length - I'm pretty sure we pushed that cart nearly 5 miles before it was all said and done.  A feat I'm proud of all on its own.

Like always though we had an amazing time.  There's few joys in this life like turning a pile of junk and a shopping cart into an urban dogsled/art piece and there's nothing better than actually finding and crossing the finish line of the idiotarod with your friends covered head to toe in filth.  Thanks McCoy, Cupp, Jon, and Amy for being the best damn psychopaths in the business.
It always begins with the trusty target cart - these things are indestructible. we went high tech this year and employed lightweight insulation board for the wings. A little PVC, some ducting cut in half, a pound of nuts and bolts and viola - a wing is born... now we just have to make 4 more. McCoy in the background duct taping like a madman. That pipe in front was our internal battering ram support - very important for a sturdy assault cart. We learned from previous years that  a big styrofoam nosecone is a wonderful thing. We also learned from previous years that you need storage.  Check and Check! We decided to skip the paint job and just cover the entire thing with duct-tape Heres the final result - an x-wing fit for a bunch of mal-adjusted post adolescent drunkards.  Definitely our best work to date. We added a little decoration on race-day Wrong color makeup make McCoy angry! A little adjustment and.... thats more like it Jedi Mind F*ck assemble! As always - the other teams pulled out all the stops as well. This southpark cart was so good it hurt... and hurt more when they ran over you in their bus. These guys pushed around a whole nacho bar all day. These guys were apparently from some movie. Their princess leia was.... slightly more accurate The Despicable Us team was trully despicable The flash gordon cart really stole the show though. They had a huge turnout. The race got off to a crazy start. There was dancing There was mayhem Things got weird Really weird at some points Theres nothing like having a beer with your friends though. Course theres nothing like good friends to begin with. And most importantly... the cart survived to race another day.
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Fall in Sedona
Posted - Dec 1st, 2012 8:24pm
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I don't remember how I ended up in Sedona the day after thanksgiving.  I'm sure at some point it seemed like a fun getaway after the holiday chaos... or maybe it was just a way to take advantage of a 3 day weekend.  Regardless it was about time that I visited this strange little town - after all - I had lived in this state for nearly 30 years but somehow never been there.

I'm not sure what I expected Sedona to be.  I've been to more podunk highway towns in this state than I can count and never really had much love for most of them.  There's lots of beautiful country here - but this state is hard on small towns in general.  I had heard the term "Red Rock" thrown around and I had seen some fun kitschy places to stay on the net though so I was excited to see what was there.

Tara and I stated at a little B&B called Sedona Views.  Its a fantastic little place on the east side of town.  Definitely a quiet getaway in what turned out to be a surprisingly chaotic little town.  For a small place in the middle of nowhere Sedona had us fighting hard for parking spots and dinner reservations.  Talking to the the lodge owner and some other folks this is apparently the norm... whew knew!? Those things aside it turned out to be an amazingly beautiful place.  I can see why so many people escape there.  The red rocks truly are red and as you can see in the pictures contrast to the point of hurting your eyes with a sky devoid of clouds.  The weather was beautiful, but we put hiking on hold this trip as Tara was giving her hiking shoes a vacation of their own.  Instead we knocked around Tlaquepaque - some sort of trading post turned upscale outdoor mall.  We visited the Church of the Holy Cross which was actually pretty amazing (just avoid the gift shop as it kind of cheapens the place).  We also spent some time just driving around and checking out the views of the valley that makes up most of the town of Sedona.

About the only thing we didn't do is use the private hot-tub on the balcony of our room - something we'll have to remedy in our next trip up there which I think we'll do as soon as its off season.
Sedona Views - lame name - amazing little B&B Our room - simple and classy - just how I like my... rooms The view from our porch - so unbelievably peaceful. Pronounce it - I dare you! There's a lot if really cool stuff just scattered around Tlaquepaque Even the parking lots are picturesqe Tara wanted to reenact our first date A small church is tucked into 1 corner of Tlaquepaque - I snapped this pic through a gate.  I think they had it locked off to prevent people from praying for sale items. I just couldn't stop taking pictures of that place! The tiny town of Sedona from an outlook by the airport. A random pic we took wile driving around.  I made Tara crazy as I kept hanging the camera out the window while driving.  It was just such a breathtaking place. This exact picture is in every playbill at Gammage It's a quirky town with rather strange hours More beautiful scenery on our way to church of the holy cross I didn't know why everyone was visiting a church until I saw this I didn't know how poor I was until I saw this (re-rendered in minature to make me feel better) It was a captivating little place - it's what I think old churches in England must be like. This statue bared and uncanny resemblance to link from the legend of zelda This backdrop that would ease the pain of any sermon Thank you Tara for showing me another little piece of this amazing state
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Halloween 2012!
Posted - Oct 25th, 2012 12:47am
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So where were we?  Oh yes - Halloween.

For whatever reason - I really wanted this years party to be special.  I had a great time last year, but wanted something over the top... something that got back to the original reason I started putting on a Halloween party in the first place.  So I took a week off, scheduled the shindig a week early so that people wouldn't have to double book, and poured my heart into it.

First up, I did some serious grounds-keeping and took over 800lbs of my yard to the dump.  Next, I hired Jessica's troupe (Morning Fyre) to perform for us.  Everyone (including myself) was so blown away by her fire dancing a few years ago that I couldn't imagine another party without that.  I was nearly out of fireworks so Kellie accompanied me on a trip to Mom and Pops Pyro Shop.  Tara helped me improve my party food repertoire, and I began work on something new - a zombie shootout using airsoft guns and zombie targets that ooze when you shoot them!

Long story short - it all came out wonderfully.  Even though it was a week early, people still managed some amazing costumes.  We finally had proper party food.  The fire dancers were fantastic.  My fireworks skills continue to improve, and most importantly - the zombie shootout was a huge hit.  Folks burned though almost 6000 rounds in just a few hours reducing the targets to a mass of pink ooze and I think its something they will remember for a quite a while.

I have no clue what we'll do next year to top this, but thanks to everyone who came and made it such a great night and to my fiance for helping me make it all happen.

It wouldnt be a costume party w/o prizes.  That beer in the center was for best costume this year.  2nd prize was a 7lb steak :) Our new piano became part of the halloween decor. The spread before the wolves got to it. Tara made a mountain of guac just so we could do this :) The guests arrive! (Kellie, Amy, and Stephanie) Amy and John came as first time parents. Tara and her brother Billy Amy and her sister as Gem McCoy won first place with his cloud costume Veronica as a very convincing jellyfish Taras friends Rocco, Brittany, Kristin, and Nate all came dressed for the occasion. Tony Stark showed up Mike came all the way from canada for this picture Daniel #1 went retro Daniel #2 went futuristic Brandon and Nicole went as test subjects... er pilots We found Waldo And I played ringmaster as best I could without a whip and a chair. My favorite photo of the night. My 2nd favorite photo of the night :) There was some Gangam dancing There was some fire dancing There was also some fire breathing! This was insanely impressive You cant go wrong with spinning fireworks And of course - there was the zombie shooting area The fog chiller from last year came in handy This is what a few thousand rounds of airsoft do to one of these things. See you next year!
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The Triathalon Project
Posted - Sep 15th, 2012 8:23pm
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If you asked me a few years ago if I would ever even consider participating in a triathalon - I probably would have thought you were nuts.... rubber room, arguing with coffee grinds kinda nuts.  But my friends McCoy and Nemo have been slowly etching away at my sanity.  So, when Nemo said he would be doing a triathalon this year as training for his "final" Iron Man.  I said I'd support and join him.  Of course, the very next words out of my mouth were: "So whats a triathalon?"

I can now answer that question - intimately.  Its a 3 month long training period which culminates at 5am on a Saturday morning when you and two of your best friends chat nervously at the starting line and watch the sunrise before swimming, biking and running your heart out for somewhere between 2 and 4 hours depending on your level of fitness, your ability to grit your teeth, and the amount of cartilage in your knees.

More specifically - the race we participated in was what they call an Olympic Triathalon.  This starts off with a 1500 meter swim, followed by a 40k bike ride, and then a 10k run.  There are shorter and longer versions, but if you want to know what its all about - the olympic version is what your interested in.

When someone says they did a race like this - what they really mean is that their friends and family put up with them for several months while they woke up early to go biking, fell asleep snoring on the couch at 8pm every night, ate every single bite of food in the house, spent 6 hours every Saturday exercising followed by 6 hours every Sunday complaining about their legs, and then unceremoniously asked them to get up at 5am and wait around for 5 hours on race day so that they could cheer them on for 30 seconds as they cross the finish line.  As the one racing - I think I had the easy job.

Like a lot of experiences, this one is hard to describe.  Its... emotional, and physical in the absurd.  Things like swimming with 200 other people look good from a distance but up close its all noses and elbows.  You have to worry about mechanical failure during the biking portion, and while I could have pounded out a 10k in my sleep before raceday - after 2 hours of biking and swimming, running is just about the last thing your body wants to do.  Movements that seem so natural on their own become awkward and forced as you get off of the bike.

I did... ok.  Here are my times:
Swim: 36 min
Bike: 1hr 26min
Run: 1hr 15min

I was about mid pack when I exited the water - just behind McCoy.  Biking though didn't go so well and then the sun came out and things got hot.  An hour and fifteen may seem horrible for a 10k but that day it wasn't so bad.  I managed to catch up with McCoy and finished somewhere near the end of my group.  When I did cross the finish line Tara and her family were there.  Seeing them and stumbling though the timing gate was an insane experience.  One minute I couldn't stop smiling, the next I was ready to break down and cry.  There were hugs, tears, about 20 gallons of gatorade and oh yeah - Tara's cousin won second place in the sprint!

I'm not sure its an experience that I'll repeat, but its something I'm infinitely glad I did.  Thank you Nemo for instigating this idiocy - thank you Tara for being my support crew and thank you McCoy for joining me in yet another adventure.
My cheering squad Tara snapped this as I was riding by the first loop of the bike course. The finish line awaits! Good friends will help you move.  Great friends will help you move a body.  Only truly epic friends will do this madness with you. Victorious!   (Steven much more so than I) McCoy learns that we were both beaten by nearly every senior citizen in the race
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Pigeon Forge Tennessee
Posted - Jul 25th, 2012 1:43am
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Beyond the novelty of saying I've visited every state - I have never really considered going to Tennessee, much less Pigeon Forge Tennessee.  However, after going there with Tara for a family reunion of sorts, I now see the error of my ways.

To put it simply, Pigeon Forge is like Las Vegas for middle America only w/o the casinos... and more go karts... ok maybe that's not so simple.  It really comes down to a 15 mile strip of road that kind of centers around Dollywood and contains a whole slew of uniquely American entertainment.  There's the Fireworks store, the 2 story year round Christmas boutique, an upside down house that doubles as a Ripley's museum, a replica of the titanic, helicopter tours, hillbilly musicals, 150 knife and gun shops, and enough mini golf and go kart tracks to satisfy anyone.  You can explore caves, jump into a giant hamsterball, hike, swim, browse the worlds largest collection of tie-dye t-shirts, ride a gondola, eat homemade fudge till it comes out your ears or just get a wicked sunburn and loose a pint of blood to the hawk like mosquitoes that patrol the area.  Its simply THE biggest wallet sucking tourist trap I've ever seen - and it was truly a glorious place to get to meet and spend some time with my fiance's extended family.

The whole week was put on by and for Tara's grandmother's 80th birthday.  We stayed in an an incredible cabin in the Oak Haven Resort.  As if all the things in town weren't enough to keep us occupied - this place had its own ping pong table, pool table, arcade cabinet and a half dozen tv's.  Three stories tall with 4 or 5 bedrooms - it was our own little hotel and the perfect air conditioned getaway from the swampy summer air that suffocates the Smokey Mountains during the summer.

Beyond taking part in some if not all of the activities I mentioned above - we spent the week hiking, eating, visiting, and just generally having a good time.  Tara's relatives were so welcoming and really made me feel like part of the family.  They were also down for just about any of my shennanigans - even trying the Zorb with me.  A special thank you to Tara's Grandma Hariet and can't wait to see all you guys in March at the wedding!
Our cabin in the woods. Basement pool table - check! Leather couches and a flat screen - check! Ping Pong Table - check! 5 star kitchen - check! Mile long series of rocking chairs on the porch - also check! Taras extended family - taken our first morning there. Driving around Pigeon Forge you see a lot of interesting things.  Live sharks anyone? Next time I go back the Lumberjack Fued is top on my todo list. Of course if one fued isnt enought for you.... Oh yes - the comedy barn is an actual comedy... er barn. I have no explanation for this... but its rad I always wondered what Ron Howard did with his giant gobs of money. What town wouldn't be complete without replica of the titanic right along Main street? Or an upside down museum for that matter. They dont call em the Smokey Mountains for nuthin. Lots of cool places to hike up there.  You can even follow the original Apalachian Trail (which now has really nice parking lots) Even just driving around there can be breathtaking. Im pretty sure that ziplining is the official sport of Tennessee - so of course we had to participate. The whole group joined in - bunch a hams :) You can still hear the echos of tara screaming/laughing in the canyons of the Smokey Mountains to this day. If ziplining isnt your thing - theres always the Zorb! Zorbing is where the drive you up a hill in a truck. Stick you in a giant squishy plastic golf ball with a bit of water. Then push you down the hill in it.... kind of my favorite thing ever. The next day we visited Gattlinburg Booze is illegal there - so we visited the moonshine factory. We stopped for lunch at Dicks Last Resort where they give you awesome headgear. And again celebrated our sobriety with Beer-Ritas Being well sobered up, go-karting seemed like a good idea. As did hitting the alpine slide. We also did a little shopping... I dont really know how to use this but I think its dangerous Tara and I made dinner that night. And threw a surprise party for Taras Grandma Harriet There were a few candles. There were shennanigans There was dancing. There was Monopoly! Though admittedly we were a few pieces short. Pigeon Forge Tennesee - for all your flying banjo needs - accept no substitutes.
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Escape to Coronado
Posted - Jun 5th, 2012 8:22pm
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I lived in San Diego for about 5 years give or take.  In that time I spent a lot of time driving north, but for some reason I didn't spend hardly any time in Coronado.  In fact... I'm not sure I did much more than cross the bridge once and return?  Not really sure why given that we had such an amazing time there.

If you haven't been, Coronado is a small psuedo-island that lives in the middle of San Diego Bay/Harbor.  About half of it is a military base, but about a square mile of it is a pretty quaint little vacation town that moves a lot slower than the rest of San Diego.

The big place to stay is the Hotel Del.  Its an amazing old hotel built in the late 1800's and I highly suggest checking it out.  I also highly suggest not staying there.  Its overpriced, busy, noisy, and its walking distance from the 1906 Lodge.  The 1906 is an amazing little bed and breakfast about a 1/4 mile from the beach just on the other side of the road from the Hotel Del.  Its where we stayed for this trip, and its where I hope we get to stay next time.

This little hotel set the tone for our whole trip.  It was a lazy weekend spent meandering down the beach, drinking wine, driving around San Diego and in general breathing in as much of the cool ocean air as my lungs could handle.  We also spent one afternoon touring through the USS Midway - an aircraft carrier turned museum that was pretty unreal.  Its the most complicated thing I've ever seen - definitely worth checking out.

In the end the trip was over all too fast.  We finished the trip by driving up to the cliffs at Torrey Pines and then it was off to the airport.  A pretty wonderful way to spend your 37th birthday if I do say so myself.
My new favorite place in San Diego Walking up to our room. All the rooms are themed - ours was... uh something involving creaky old wooden furniture. The porch where we suffered through breakfast every morning. We made a quick pit-stop for these on our way to the beach. I could stare at this for hours... and kinda did. This guy spent all day recreating Hogwarts - saw him finish about 8pm under some lights. A look back at the Hotel Del Being there feels like being old school Hollywood royalty. Vacation photo! Queen Tara presiding. Tara and I investigating the halls of the Hotel Del. We went back that night to take some photos with less people around. Its actually kinda spooky when no one is there. Its also pretty awesome We met our friends Chris and Amy and their newest addition Kiirana for kayaking followed by Thai food. The place we ate dinner had the best bathroom sign ever. The midway is simply the biggest thing Ive ever seen made out of metal. An A-4 on deck. I cant look at an F-14 without wanting to watch Top Gun. The next accessory I want for my truck I tried to tell her not to feed the jets. Being an electrician on this boat would have been utter madness. But being a plumber would have been obsessive compulsive bliss. In all seriousness - its a pretty powerful place. And in all seriousness - its freaking awesome to know that even figher pilots can be huge nerds. We ended the trip back in my old stomping grounds near Torrey Pines Beach. Its hard to capture just how beautiful it is up there - Tara came pretty close with this pic though. I had nearly forgotten that the trains ran right by there. So long San Diego - till next time.
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