Monday, August 28, 2017

2 weeks in paradise. A trip to end all trips.

My last blog post was a year ago. Wow, blogging is as hot as ever..........

Two weeks ago we embarked on our annual Assategue Md. camping trip. Sunday to the following Monday. Its always, always a terrific time. This year was no exception there.

Hooking up and towing the Silver Nugget to Big Blue has made the trip to Md. so smooth and simple that its not worth mentioning much.

The ferry itself was different this time because we had some new travelers with us this time. The dogs came with us! i hope they enjoyed it because they ain't coming again. More on that later.

Ferry lands in Delaware and we cruise on over to Assateague. Its such a nice, casual hour and 15 minute drive from the ferry to the campsite. We have so many fun little local markers on the way.
One of the earliest ones is the Copps Seafood stand that HAD a big top hatted shrimp on the side of the road. Sadly that Shrimp is now gone. RIP giant top hatted shrimp.

Weird little gas stations, A chicken processing plant, a camp ground, golf course, The Grog Shoppe, and JD Shuckers are part of the roadside list.

Anyway we get to our campsite earlier than usual because as the kids get older its easier to get them up and moving, and theres a lot less to pack.

I have been going to Assateague almost every year since 1993 and I love every second of it, every time. This year is no different yet there was some new situations going on that but a wrinkle in the stay.

The whole point of camping at Assateague is the beach. We love the beach there. Its big and quiet, you're basically on your own. Lucia likes wearing the blow up arm swimmies. I know they don't do much but they make her feel better. Apparently they are no longer allowed. A life guard drove up on a quad and explained that they are no longer allowed because they are not coast guard approved. I said OK, blowing him off basically and he sped away. The dude came by 2 more times to mention the swimmies. Here's the thing about each time, Lucia was not in the water at any time. She puts them on and keeps them on all day even when she was playing in the sand. The second time he came by i was in the bathroom. The third time though I was there, and I finally had enough and stormed over to the little shit.

His last visit we were packing up to go shower. Breaking down the shade tent, folding everything up etc. etc. He goes by on the quad, sees Lucia and turns around. He pulls up next to us and begins to be really condescending "You know i've been here a few times already about........" I had enough, I dropped what I was doing and stormed over to him. I looked at him and asked why he was  bothering us when were clearly packing up and that she, Lucia, who at this point was upset that she was going to get in trouble wasn't anywhere near the water so what is the actual problem. I finally got him to clearly explain the situation, and he even said " I'm not trying to make a big deal out of this." I then stopped him yet again showed him that we are leaving and that he's been by 3 times! He then left, as did we for the night. I didn't see that kid the rest of the stay.

The sun was out, the water was warm, the waves were a lot of fun! That explains just about every day this trip. Gorgeous as far as I can remember. Theres always a lot of people watching and this year was  pretty good. One guy stands out. He parked his RV at the spot next to the beach entrance yet I never saw him on the beach once, but the reason he stood out was that he looked like Ben Franklin. A Ben Franklin who wore jeans and no shirt and sat by his camper all week.

Whoa Horses! Horses are a famous tenant at Assateague. They roam the lands as they please. this year they were very quiet. We had one very impressive appearance though. Since we had the dogs we had dog food. The food was in a container. This container

As you can see you have to unscrew the lid to get the food. These dog gone horses figured it out! Impressive.

Speaking of the dogs they hated the beach. Thunder hated every second of it and poor Happy since he's blind did not like the crashing of the waves. So that was a one and done type thing.

Usually when we are at the beach all i think about is the beach. I use it as a time to decompress, and plan for the rest of the year. This year though there was a surprise.

Sunday arrived as it does and usually its our last beach day. This year though we got the girls up, told them we have to leave today and as they were protesting we made them close their eyes as we put shirts on them and gave them something to hold. Thira being the wily 10 year old knew something was up. Lucia was a still somewhat confused 7 year old. Eyes open and boom secret Disney trip is revealed! The girls are confused, and very excited.

Now we pack everything up, quickly, with haste, and all possible dispatch. We have some stops before we drive to WDW. 1st stop we go to another campground to drop the Airstream off for a week.  Once we check in we take the camper to a lot drop it off and schedule them to deliver it to a spot we will stay over the following Saturday night. Second stop is the kennel. The dogs were in and out of the kennel al week so they knew where to go. They would also be picked up the following Saturday.

Now we were off to Disney. The plan was 9 hours of driving Sunday and then the final 4 Monday morning.

On the road again............on the road again..........

Man to avoid I95 near DC means you travel 13/113 in Virginia. Its an old highway that flows and moves but has lights and intersections so you don't get to flow through. The cool part was the Chesapeake bay Bridge/Tunnel a modern marvel of engineering. We power our way back onto 95 and head into North Carolina. I like North Cacalaka a lot but I saw a ton of Confederate flags flyin that day and a lot of Confederate flags purposefully flown higher than the American flag.

South Carolina! South of the Border! What a dump. A fun dump but a dump none the less. It was very hot and the entire place is like a giant parking lot with shitty gimmicks to but. We walked around for a bit then refueled and moved on. The people may move slow in the south but they drive fast. 70 mph is the speed limit down there but  75 is the true minimum. We flew through the rest of S.C.  and into Georgia. I really like 95 in S.C. and Georgia. The roads are overall flat, smooth, and nearly empty. The scenery is fun to watch especially the Spanish moss on the trees in Georgia. Fun Fact. Ray Charles' "Georgia on my Mind" came on the radio as we were about 30 miles outside of the state line.

Savannah GA. our stop for the night. We ate at a Cracker Barrel. People love Cracker Barrel, I find them adequate. Never a bad meal but nothing super exciting in my opinion.

We head to the Marriott to get a room and uh oh no rooms! Why you ask? The stupid eclipse was the next day and parts of South Carolina and Georgia were ground zero for it so most of the hotels were full. We found a room at a Best Western that was the definition of average. We get in, get washed up, and crash out. The next morning Danielle and I found ourselves in the middle of a sink hole. The bed we were in was as soft as a slice of Wonder Bread what a hunk of garbage. We got up, got out went to an IHOP which again people like but I think is below average and then drove our asses to Walt Disney World!

Man the south is hot during the summer. if you plan on visiting WDW at any time in the future try going in the late fall through the spring.

We did this trip on a whim, as a secret so it was planned on the cheap. We stayed at the Pop Century resort one of the lower level hotels at Disney. It's still very nice, clean, Disneyfied al that jazz.

We checked in online so all we did was activate our stuff and head to Animal Kingdom!!!!!
Did I mention it was hot there. Good god it was brutal. A wet, hot heat that beat us up but good.
We headed to our first fast pass the Khali River rapids.

How on earth do you ride a water ride and barely get wet. We were hoping to get soaked and help cool us off, nada, nothing, zip, zilch. Magic Kingdom has my favorite coaster at Disney Expedition Everest we rode that next. Usually Animal Kingdom is kinda quiet but since the addition  of Pandora the place is mobbed. Speaking of the movie Avatar sucked in my opinion but Panora world is amazing. and its a different place in the day and at night. We did the slow boat tour ride. Fun, the animatronics were so good i was blown away by them. The other ride had a 2 hour wait so we skipped it.

DAY 2!!!!!!! Epcot.

Meh, in order of my favorite parks its M.K. 1, A.K and H.S. 2, and Epcot last.
Yes you can drink in the park whoop dee doo. Again with the heat and the park is so damn big getting from the weird sci-fi place to the worlds takes forever, but you can drink there! shut up.
Spaceship earth is a ridiculous idea in the big ball but tis air conditioned so we did it a lot. Soarin is a ride i never got to do until this trip. Such a great ride! The Frozen ride that replaced the horrid maelstrom is another air conditioned ride so i loved it. It has a nice little story and the girls who work there are from Norway so they are all blond and beautiful.

We ate a sushi dinner at he restaurant in japan and stayed for the fireworks show Illuminations. It was about something, I have no idea.

Day 3 MAGIC KINGDOM!!!!!!!

I love the Magic Kingdom Main st. USA is so much fun to walk down. So it was another bright, sunny, hot day, shocking I know but they had their halloween stuff up already. Weird to see fall colors with such heat.
I love every single second, and thing in the magic kingdom, EXCEPT Tomorrow Land. That shit looked dated when it was first built. Now that Disney owns Disney Tomorrow Land really looks sad. Space Mountain though was a blast. We fast passed it and it was crowded so we were led to a track I don't remember riding before. It was a ton of fun. What was the most fun at M.K. this trip though Splash Mountain. Danielle hates the big drop on water flumes, as does Lucia which makes sense since she's 7. Thira and I LOVE IT! Fast passed it and had a great time.

The Haunted mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean are classics that we love to ride as much as possible. We stayed at the Magic Kingdom for about 12 hours and loved every second of it. We ate at a restaurant that was themed after the great Jungle Cruise ride. The food was terrific as was every dining experience at WDW.

Classic must do rides at Magic Kingdom are Haunted Mansion, and Pirates as already stated. The enchanted Tiki room is a must do as well. Splash, and Space Mountain were top notch this trip. We all got our pictures taken so that we transform into ghosts and ghouls like a Haunted mansion specter.

Day 4! Hollywood Studios, or as it should be called Star Wars land. Star Wars has taken over 75% of the place which I get and don't mind. I do love the old Hollywood skits they do. They used to do more now its pulled back some but we did watch some very cool Star Wars skits up and done the park. Speaking of Star Wars, Star Tours is a must do and didn't disappoint.

The park itself is only half its normal size as they are building the new Star Wars land and the new Toy Story land so in a year or so it'll be amazing.

We let Thira ride the Tower of Terror. She rode solo because Danielle and I hate it so much.

We stuck around until 9pm for the Star Wars themed fireworks. So damn incredible. Tons of video projections, lasers, fireworks, pyro, etc. etc, Very well done.

We headed back to the hotel nice and early to prepare for our final day.

DAY 5! Last day

I was tossing and turning a lot because I did not want to drive back home Friday afternoon. SO I woke up and had a brainstorm AUTOTRAIN! We booked a one way passage from Florida back to Virginia, close to where the dogs and camper are waiting for us. With this resolved we headed back to the Magic Kingdom for a quick bonus round.

We did 4 rides, Big Thunder, Haunted, Pirates, and of course Splash MT. got a ton of snacks and headed back to the car in less than 2 hours quite a feat.

A few notes about where we stayed. POP Century was very nice but since it was one of the "cheaper" hotels some of our neighbors were a little....colorful.

One nice couple in their 50s got on the elevator with us, The fella has a suitcase with him. His best gal had her travel mug in one hand and a half empty gallon bottle of Gallo white wine in the other.

Wed. morning I ran to the truck to look for something and I passed a women sitting outside her room smoking a joint. Now i'm no prude, and I think weed should be legal everywhere but her whole scene was just dirty. We pulled in Thursday night to a couple on Rascal Scooters huddled in a dark corner in the parking lot smoking ciggy butts. A weird thing to come upon.

Next up AUTOTRAIN and one more night on the beach!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The funniest thing that happened after donating my kidney.

I cant believe that I forgot this event when I wrote up the kidney recap.

Thursday morning I get the go ahead to check out. I'm not feeling that great, mainly nauseous from the "breakfast" that they gave me but as I stated in the recap if I take anti nausea meds they wouldn't clear me to go. So I suck it up, and call Danielle and begin to gather my things.

As i'm gathering my personals a nurse comes in that I never saw before. I had 2 nurses. The night nurse, a man named Sebastian, who looked a bit like John Kilcullen, and a cute red head who i H ad stick a suppository up my bum for 2 reasons. 1, I've never done it to myself, and 2, mainly I figured we might as well get a little more intimate. This new nurse I think was the discharge nurse. Very nice either way.

Remember now,  I'm just in my robe, no undies, no nothing. Right where I want to be. As I begin to legitimately struggle to get changed she comes in to have me sign something, I have no idea what.  She sees that I am having hard time because of the surgery but mainly because i'm bloated and nauseous.

To set the stage my clothes are on the window ledge, which looks south upon the FDR drive. So there  I am hunched over amazingly in font of said window ass hanging out for all of the east side of Manhattan to see, on purpose you may ask. Yes, obviously. She sees me struggling, and without realizing it exposing my tushie and very nicely tries to help by moving me over while simultaneously trying to close the curtain which she couldn't do because of all of my stuff in the way.

So here we are, me hunched over, back in front of the window, and as she tries to spin me around to help I keep going the wrong way so the whole show is now exposed.She is now frantically trying to help me put on my underwear but for some reason its not going well my ass is still sticking out the robe, yet again in front of the window no matter how gently she tries to persuade me away I keep ending up hunched over in front of the window I keep turning around and my robe keeps riding up allowing my private to not so privately swing around in front of the window and everyone which then makes her move even faster to help me get dressed but, somehow, my robe keeps flopping around.  At this point my childish game gives me way to much joy but that only helps to further  irritate my upset tummy more but it was worth it. She finally helps me hike my undies up and give me a look like don't be embarrassed . I thank her as she leaves. I was really feeling like crap that morning so my childish excursion really helped, for a bit that is.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Do you want to build a kidney man

I awoke today with an upset tum tum because last night I celebrated with friends and even though I only had 2.5 drinks my body was not happy when I got home. In fact it was down right annoyed with me.

Why was it annoyed you ask. Thanks for asking btw. because 2.5 weeks ago I donated a kidney and my body is still healing so throwing some delicious booze into it doesn't help matters much.

How did I get here? This is not my beautiful wife, etc. etc. Talking Heads songs etc.

Lets try this again. How did I end up donating one of my kidneys. Well lets go into the way back machine and figure this out.

Earlier this year (2016) A friend, who I will call "George" to hide his identity put out a distress call. "George" had a problem, his kidneys were failing him and he needed a transplant or else he would be resigned to a life of dialysis. Not a great prognosis for a young, active guy so I read it, Danielle read it we were saddened for him, and wanted to help. So I reached out to him asking what the steps were.

Danielle and I, along with some others that I know of began the process of seeing if we were able to donate. At first it was a simple email questionnaire. I passed it, Danielle failed, she was out.

Next step was some blood work to check some things. Blood type, what's in my blood, how does our blood react together etc. etc.

So I show up, give about 174 vials of blood meet with some people and away i go.

About a 2 weeks later I get a call saying your a potential match. We'd like it if you came in for the real test to see if you'd make an acceptable donor.

At this point I start thinking "Holy Shit! I just filled out an online form because I thought It was a good thing to do but I didn't think i'd keep getting called back!"

At this point "George" said there was others ahead of me in the testing phase so I was confident that I was not going to donate, what are the chances.........idiot.

I set up the appt. for the big test and I was instructed to collect my pee the day before the big test, and keep it cold the entire time. That was fun.....

The big test day has arrived.

I was told to arrive at nine am and expect to be there all day. Okay, I arrive at nine and begin the day.
First, i'm checked in then I get my blood pressure checked. It is a little high so I am ordered a 24 hour blood pressure monitor to wear and I'm sent on my way to another room. In room 2 a lot of blood, A LOT OF BLOOD is drawn. My blood pressure is checked again this time its back down to regular numbers.

Next room! I meet with my coordinator. The donor coordinator was my advocate throughout this process, she didn't know George at all, not a bit about his case.Her entire job is to focus on the donor.This was all done with my safety, and rights in mind. A very interesting process.

Next room! The social worker. This was where things started to get heavy. We had a nice conversation and then she very smoothly started getting into more serious questions, basically checking my mental state.

Some of the questions were about how I would do if the kidney is rejected, if "George" doesn't take care of my kidney, what if I get sick due to donating. I answered everything correctly I guess since we ended our conversation and I moved on to the physical tests.

I got x-rayed, CT scanned, EKG you name it and I went through it. The CT scan was odd. I was injected with this white liquid that went into my arm and I felt this hot liquid crawl into the back of my throat, right down my spine through my taint and then faded away.

I go home. It took about 5 hours so almost a full day. I went home thinking "Okay, lets see what's next."

Next step was the 24 hour blood pressure monitor. What a pain in the ass that was. I did it, sent to back and waited. While I waited the hospital called. I had to redo the blood and urine test they didn't like one result.So I got a little more blood drawn and start thinking that this is probably where I will get disqualified. Or the blood pressure. Either way I figured something will disqualify me.

A week after I retake the blood test and sent back the monitor I get a call from the hospital. Surprise, surprise they cleared me! The blood test came back fine, as was my blood pressure. I was told to take at least a week, talk it over with my family and decide if i want to do this. I have to say that the hospital throughout this process was fantastic, at no time did they ever pressure me into anything. They made it perfectly clear  that this was my choice and I could say no at any time. They are amazing people.

I  took a week, talked to my brain trust, my family. In my head I was trying to find a way to not donate simply because I didn't want to do it.

After a week of really deep contemplation I couldn't justify saying no. I talked to everyone one last time and told them that I will be donating, then I text "George". Actually it was through Facebook messenger that I told him the good news. That was an awesome conversation, telling him yes was exciting, and a bit of a relief since I now knew what was coming. I hate when things are up in the air, even if the upcoming event isn't pleasant, like major surgery I'm better mentally knowing what to prepare for than not.

Lets just skip up to the weekend before the surgery. July 4th weekend to be exact and it was weird. We hung out with "George" and his family and it was a terrific day but with the surgery looming I felt a bit anxious. Monday, July 4th I usually go to a very nice picnic but not this time. I was home alone drinking a drink that was supposed to let it all out. I drank it and waited, and waited, and waited. nothing really happened. At least not like everyone said it would so I went bed knowing the next day would be intense.

Tuesday, July 5th. Danielle and I get up, the girls spent the week at my parents which helped a lot. I pack an overnight bag and away we go. The easiest way to get to the upper east side for us is the ferry to the subway. it was a great ferry ride, the subway was fine and we walked the rest of the way to the hospital having somewhat odd conversation but overall we are both calm. Checking in felt odd, the day actually arrived, surgery day.

This fucking day is actually here. I have agreed to let a surgeon cut me open,  remove one of my organs that is working perfectly fine btw. and then patch me up. Now, that organ is going to save a life its not like its going to be chucked on the ground but still this is a big, insane, surreal experience.

After check in, I'm put on scrubs, Danielle is with "George's" wife we will call "Marcy" to protect her identity. I go get Danielle and we hang in a little room. "George, Marcy, and George's sister" are in another room.

I see the surgeon one more time, I met him a week ago to discuss the surgery and what I should expect. He's a dreamboat, tall, in shape, amazing hair, and most of all a confidence level that if   harnessed could power Manhattan.

I get the call to head to the O.R. I say good bye to Danielle, "George, and Marcy" and head off. Now it gets really, really intense. Its just me and a nurse walking down a long hallway as she explains to me whats going to happen. Im half listening as my head is swirling a bit. She hands me off to the O.R. staff they ask me more questions and then bring me into the O.R.

The O.R. room freaked me out!!!! It was a stark, uninviting room. Fluorescent lights, bare white walls, just not a room id like to be in if I didn't have to be. The staff though was warm, and comforting. They put that clear plastic mask over my mouth i remember talking to them and then I was being awoken, in another room, very confused, extremely thirsty, not knowing where I am, what happened. Not a fun feeling.

Some time passes. I have no idea how long and I'm wheeled into an elevator to my room.
In the recovery room I had an Iv with morphine, awesome. I felt no pain. They had to unhook it as I'm wheeled to my room by the time I got there I was feeling the pain so the Percocet train began to roll in. Choo choo!!!!

From Tuesday late afternoon until Thursday midday I was in my room. Tuesday night was rough but I made it through. I was looked into every 4 hours by the staff, unfortunately they were about an hour apart so it was more like every 3 hours that someone came to check on me. NOT VERY RESTFUL!

Tuesday night I was told that I would walk tomorrow. I said "ok" but in my head I was like there's no fucking way I will be able to walk tomorrow. No fucking way.

Wednesday morning I'm up at 5:30am, why? because someone came in to look at my sutures, or check a pulse, or something. I have no idea actually all i know is that I was up at 5:30 am.

At 6am the nurses aide comes in and asks me if I want to walk. Surprisingly I felt like I could so I got ready. I adjusted the bed, no biggie. Turned my body so my legs could touch the floor, that hurt. Finally I grabbed my little IV stand and got up. Very shaky legs, remember I still haven't had real food since Monday afternoon but i began shuffling up and down the hallway.

The aide was very excited "You're walking!" I looked at her like no shit, but now I can see how important it was for me to do that.

My next important job was to fart. the sooner I fart the sooner I can eat and go home. Percocet binds you up, plus my guts were all blown up with gas from the procedure and if the gas wasn't in my intestines then it traveled up my diaphragm into my shoulders. Did you ever have a white hot ball of steel rammed into your shoulder blades, if so the you know how that feels if not then good for you.

The more I walk, the more I move gasses around the sooner I fart so I was up a lot, I wanted out of there. Don't get me wrong the place was great its just not a restful place.

When I was wheeled into my room on Tuesday I had the IV in one hand and a back up in the other, a catheter in place, and these inflatable booties on my legs that would randomly inflate so i didn't get blood clots.

By Wednesday afternoon the booties came off since I was walking and the catheter came out, not the best feeling but not as bad as expected, the meant that I now had to get up to pee in the toilet and reality began to set in about how weak I was, and how much my abdomen hurt. it hurt a lot. Coughing was not fun. I was given this plastic doo hicky that I had to inhale through. I had to do this a few times an hour to reduce the chances of Pneumonia.

A few hours later

Hey Hey I passed gas!!! Wednesday afternoon, a little toot. It was like heaven. All morning I could feel the gas burbling around but it had no where to go. Finally though the damn broke and sweet relief. This meant I could eat food, no more jello, or chicken broth but actual food!

Boy that jello wasn't so bad compared to what I was given......Actually the dinner was ok, I ate some but i didn't want to overeat and get sick. Thursday morning's breakfast was a different story. I woke up a tad nauseous and when i looked at the "eggs" I almost puked. I steadied myself and had a bite. I was wrong they weren't bad, they were hideous, atrocious whatever word you want to use. I asked the nurse for something to quell my nausea and once I calmed down I ate cheerios, delicious cheerios.

Post surgery I had 2 jobs. Get up and walk, and fart. Since I did both I could go home. I was still queasy but I wasn't going to stay another night there.

On my way out I went to say goodbye to "George". I was feeling pretty beat up so it was a quick visit. "George" had some family visiting and when he told them who i was there wanted to grab mer and squeeze me put I put my hands up right away to stop them. A hug would have been the last thing I wanted at the moment. I told everyone that once were all healed up we would have a great big party.

Ah driving in New York City. On a perfect day its annoying on this day it was horrible, Still nauseous,  extremely weak, and sensitive to every crack in the road I did not enjoy heading home.

Thursday afternoon I'm home, less than 48 hours and i'm not feeling great. Still nauseous, and now sweating I'm afraid that I might have to call the hospital but before I do I have Danielle get me some Alka Seltzer and wouldn't you know it ol' "plop plop fizz fizz Oh what a relief it is" did the trick and within 30 minutes I was starving.

Since I got back home each day has been better than the last. I still get exhausted after simply walking but each day I am stronger, and my energy level increases. I am now almost three weeks past the  surgery and I'm close to feeling 100% like my old self. In another 2 weeks i'lll be cleared to resume my life as if nothing happened.

This has been quite a ride. It took me a while to wrap my head around what I did mainly because I went into a room, was put to sleep, then I was awoken a couple of hours later in pain. So even though I was there, I wasn't present to see my kidney leave, or go to into "George" but I know its gone, and I know he has it.

I don't know exactly what to say to people about this, They are all overwhelmed when they hear about it and keep saying how amazing it is. Now I just agree. I don't really know what to say.

Would I do it all again? Yes, without a doubt.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Ridin' that train, high on cocaine.

Not really, cocaine is a horrible drug that should be avoided at all costs.

Everbody is talking about our trip to WDW on the Amtrak Auto Train so I decided to write a blog about it.

Okay, the Auto Train has two stops Lorton Va., and Sanford FLA.. Lorton is just south of D.C. and Sanford is about 45 minutes from WDW.

Btw. WDW means Walt Disney World.

The train leaves around 4pm al little earlier if possible, it depends on the load in. The cars are to checked in by 2:30 at the latest! Not 2:31, and if you miss it there is no other train that day, and they probably isn't room the next day so DO NOT BE LATE.

We left our house at 8am, knowing that it is a 4 hour drive to the train station. But Darren, that would get you there at noon what are you going to do with all that extra time you might say. We relaxed, and got lunch, and with the rainy weather on the way down we checked in at 1:45pm.

When you check in you leave your car and everything you do not need on the train. You have no access to your car on the train so prepare your overnight bag.

Checking in is wonderful. You walk in, check in, then you relax and wait. Around 2:30 they start boarding the train, at 3pm the cars are loaded onto the train cars and they begin attaching those cars to the passenger cars. When you board you meet the person who will be your attendant. Basically, they check you in, show you your room, or seat, more on this later. In the room is one outlet, temperature controls, and seats that turn into your beds. The attendant will turn down your room for you to sleep besides that you're on your own. You are free to walk to the lounge car, get an adult beverage, and watch the sights go by. Dinner, and a continental breakfast was included in our package.

Sleeper car, vs seats. We decided to get the sleeper car it was a few hundred dollars each way but in my opinion well worth the money. You have your own room and access to 3 restrooms, and a very nice shower on your car, on the same floor even. There was never a time when all the restrooms were occupied, nor was the shower. If you just get a seat you get a very large, very roomy, comfortable seat but no privacy at all. If you want to, or need to save the money skip the room. If we take the train again, and we probably will we will definitely get a room again.

Dinner. Dinner was okay, it wasn't horrendous but it wasn't memorable. There are 3 diner slots, 5pm, 7pm, and 9pm. 7pm was full  by the time we got there so we chose 9pm. I'm glad we did, it was quiet and relaxed. when we returned from diner our room turned down. We chilled a bit but it wasn't long until we were all sawing logs, as the trains swaying rocked us to sleep. That is until the trains wild turns, and bumps woke we me up a lot on our way to Florida. The girls slept right through but i felt every turn, and heavy clunk as we ride over where the tracks cross.

Waking up the next morning was nice, aside from being a little tired from the interrupted sleep. We were in Florida, and we watched all these little towns, and weird neighborhoods slide by. A lot of swampy land some of it swallowing up abandoned houses, a lot of miscellaneous junk piled at the back of the yards close to the tracks created the image of crude temples left to decay.

A nice continental breakfast is served and then you just wait in your room for the train to pull into the  station. Your room was returned to normal while you eat.

There is WIFI on the train. We skyped with Danielle's mother in California, and my parents, who were visiting Todd and Julie in Texas while we headed to Florida. That we pretty cool.

When you arrive the next morning the auto cars are detached and moved while you hang out. This happens really quickly, its pretty amazing actually. We are then asked to disembark and wait for the car. We decided against priority service which would have gotten our car off first so we had to wait 30 minutes, No big deal really except we really wanted to get to WDW so it felt like forever. Once your car is called you just throw your overnight bag in the back, hop in, and go. So easy.

On our return trip we left WDW a little late so we didn't get to the train station until 2:23pm, remember they will not take cars after 2:30pm so we were sweating it a bit as we were driving. So, if you do decide to take the Auto Train LEAVE EARLY like we did on our way down.

Danielle and I both slept much better on our return trip, probably because we knew what to expect.

On both trips the staff was polite, friendly, and very professional. They did a super job.

The majority of the passengers on the trip are pretty up there in age, really up there, which helps make it a very quiet experience.

So, how much does this all cost?

$1,500.00 round trip was the bill. This was for a sleeper car that had 4 beds, dinner and breakfast is included. car is obviously loaded, and unloaded so you have that with you.

I believe Danielle said that it was a few hundred dollars more than plane tickets were when we got our train tickets which was July 2015, but we would have rented a car, or taken a lot of taxis while in WDW and it is basically hassle free unlike an airport so the extra cost is well  worth it in my book.

That's it. feel free to shoot my any questions if you got them

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

High Bridge 5k a review like you've never read before.

Lets shake the dust off of this blog, bog, log, hog and talk about venturing into money making Manhattan for a trail race.

First off, yes you read that right in Manhattan, the Big Apple there was a 5k trail race that had some of the most intricate single track i've ever run.

Let me start form the beginning.

I picked up El Presidente Mark Vogt, and Lady Diane Sassone and we drove into jersey, over the GWB into upper Manhattan. We drove around for a few minutes and found a spot around 178th st. off of Amsterdam Ave. Hold on, I want to make sure you saw that it was 178th st.  not 78 stone the Upper East Side, no this is another 100 blocks up. Way Way north of Staten Island, and the Greenbelt but we ventured out for the adventure.

We got there, signed in and then we went for a little warm up run ie. scout out the course run. Right away I noticed that the locals, who were already setting up for their picnics in the park full grills, warming trays, etc. etc. looked at us like we were insane running through their park. Not in a bad way just in a " what are these people doing here?" kinda way.
We shuffled our way back to the start and waited for the race to officially start. As we lined up to start we learned that half the course was on paved path, and the other half would be trail.

And were off! the race begins, we bound down the paved path, through the cooks preparing their feasts and past two guys who were a derelict Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. They stood there, leaning on each other in their ragged attire with looks of disbelief on their very worn faces. As we continued down the course we turned into the woods.  These trails are tight, twisty, and incredibly fun. I bounded through the best I could thankful for my new Salomon SpeedCross 3s that tore into the course. I watched a lot of other runners slow down, and slip out in the switchbacks while i dug in and pushed ahead. As we ran through this part of the course our friends Tweedle Dee, and Tweedle Dum had taken their own footpath into the wood and again stood there in stupefied wonder as we yet again ran past them. I assume they were headed into the woods to do something illegal, but they could have been in their to remove invasive species, or something else beneficial........Probably not. Out of the woods and back onto pavement, but only for a short while as we were directed back into the woods for a second go round. this time we really had a lot of fun. The trails were steeper, with sharper switchbacks and more natural obstacles such as roots, rocks, and fallen tree limbs. The path got really tight and twisty and I saw a backlog of runners ahead of me. I saw why, instead of running we were now climbing up a steep rock wall to get back onto the paved path. I started out slow but eventually picked up a nice pace on the paved path since it was nice and flat. Past the water table was the famed High Bridge. Recently restored and looking amazing it was a quick run down to one end and back and the race is over. NO! NO, it isn't. Once you finish the bridge there is one little, teensy, thing left to do. 97 steep steps to the finish. Running a tough 5k is not a new thing but finishing the race by running up 97 steep steps is not a standard way to finish and that's kinda expected in when Matt and George put on an event.

To sum up I will list pros, and cons

This race was amazing, a mixture of fast paved paths, and very intricate trails.
Outstanding views
unique finish
Overall this race was a smashing success

This gripe has nothing to do with the race directors, or the NYC parks dept.
the course had a lot of broken glass, due to Tweedle dee, and Tweddle Dum, and their band of Merry men.
I know there was a concerted effort to clean up the trails and i'm sure they did all they could.

Who knows maybe this race will create a renewed interest in hiking the trails of High Bridge Park and Tweedle Dee, and Tweedle Dum will have to either clean up or move on.

We shall see how things look next year when we do it again!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Muddy Marathon, High Rock Challenge, Big Mud races whats better..... a taste test like the Pepsi Challenge.

On April 11, 2015 13 runners from Staten Island participated in the Muddy Marathon, an amazing experience that was a 6.2 mile race for most of us and an attempt at a marathon distance for one.

After the event it was an almost universally accepted opinion that the day was an success. The one nay vote was from an idiot who fell upside down into a drainage ditch so its her fault really.

The discussion lead to how the Muddy Marathon was way better than Big Mud events. I agreed for numerous reasons which i will detail below.

The cost, Big Mud races are really expensive. The Muddy marathon was reasonably priced.

The amount of people, Big Mud races are very crowded, which is great for them but can be annoying for the participant. the Muddy Marathon was a small field which made it feel like a special event but not a lot of cash for the race director.

The course itself, Big Mud courses are a lot of fun, running obstacles, etc. etc. etc.
The Muddy Marathon was course that had zero man made obstacles yet was tougher than the B.M.R. Why? well the running led to a lot of climbing up very steep rocky terrain and then there was a lot of bushwacking through the woods that were expertly marked but there was no trail to run on so it slowed you down.

Post race, After a B.M.R. you gat a beer ticket and some swag and a general feeling that you accomplished something amazing which is true. After the Muddy Marathon you get free beer some swag and the same feeling that you accomplished something amazing, because you did.

In conclusion, if you like doing B.M.R. you should keep doing them because in the end I don't care what you do. but if you do like B.M.R. than I would suggest you try the Muddy Marathon because in my opinion it is a strong test of your running, and overall fitness level. Try it you'll like it.

Oh yeah, the High Rock Challenge.

This is an event that I hold dear, It has such a tradition of excellence, since it is a mix of running, obstacles, and it incorporates other activities such as kayaks, and mental challenges things that the other events do not have. Making the high Rock Challenge a true Adventure race. It's a big event but still feels like a local race not overwhelming like a B.M.R. can feel like. Technically it is a local race with 1,000  people it is a big local event.

You finish the High Rock Challenge with a big smile just like the B.M.R., and the Muddy Marathon.
The difference is when you around Staten Island you will see High Rock Challenge shirts through out the year from past and current participants and there is a sense of camaraderie. I see people wearing B.M.R. shirts but since there are B.M.R. races all over the world the sense of camaraderie isn't as strong.

I personally stopped doing the B.M.R. a few years ago for all the reasons I stated above, and I will continue to run events like the Muddy Marathon, and the High Rock Challenge because of the reasons posted above.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Is the fastest runner the best runner?

Thanks to SIAC Master of ceremonies Josh Pesin for linking individual members blogs to the SIAC website.  Doing so has prompted me to update the old girl. i will say that I am actually quite active on this blog. i am working on a long term project that is none of your business at this time.

Now, on to this blog and the controversial title.

Today I was doing a little speed on the Nature Center trail.... hold on a second I was doing speed work not speed, who do yo think I am some biker selling Meth to scabby faced junkies. No I did a quick speed workout session to loosen up the old running sticks before tomorrow's Wolfe's Pond 5k.

As I was running I started thinking about runners, and various styles of running. Sprinters, distance, fast runners, slow plodders, runners who might not be the fastest but have been running for a long time and I started thinking what is the best runner?

I think this is an interesting question.

Someone who is extremely fast but prone to injury vs. the slow and steady runner who doesn't really improve as a runner or health wise which might have been the reason they started running in the first place. These are two realistic examples of the extreme ends of the running spectrum, so is it the mushy middl that wins?

A runner who is not the fastest but strives to improve, yet doesn't obsess. A runner who sees the big picture but also has their sights on short term goals. Running smart to avoid injury as much as possible, and will be proactive when a weird twinge shows up instead of bulling through it?

Just a random thought that shot through my head as I was shuffling down the nature trail back to the Nature Center.