Saturday, December 27, 2008

On the way to Missouri

Actually, we're in Missouri now. Icy roads as we approached Chicago kept us from stopping to see Paul on the way through, so we just continued on to St. Louis last night.

Dinner at the Morgan Street Brewery. Before I got back to the table, Carly was already working on her first beer. Root beer, that is. Fisk, made here in St. Louis. Meanwhile, I settled for one of Morgan Street's Red Lagers. Nice.

After dinner we drove a few more miles and checked into a Drury Inn. When we got to the room, Carly went to the window. "We've got a great view! Steak and Shake, Bob Evans, Taco Bell..."

Christmas day was nice. Christmas eve with Francine's family--tons of kids, grand kids....

Christmas morning. Francine got me a great coffee maker that grinds the beans and then brews the coffee. It makes really great coffee. :-) At 8:00 we ran with the Grand Rapids Running Club, and then went to Marge's Donut Den. A great start to the day. When we got home I thought about a nap, but found the movie, The Bucket List, on On-Demand. I've been wanting to see it for a long time, and I wasn't disappointed. Go see it if you get a chance.

I cooked a small turkey and a gigantic squash and called Chris to invite him for supper. A nice, low-key holiday.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Stuff from Misc Notes I Should Have Recorded Already (yet again)

22 November - Five years ago tomorrow I ran a marathon in my 50th state. It was my 87th marathon. It was a very special day that I shared with a very special woman.

Five years later--my whole life is different. Different house. Different wife. Different business. Better? Big time!


Marathons, Mountains, and Microbrews--where it all began:

Marathons--15 October, 1995 in Chicago

Mountains--1993 in Tasmania, I hiked up a mountain with Robert, Adrian Moll, and Steve Pullen near Hobart. Great day. More recently, probably inspired by Knox White while on a trip to Antarctica in 1997. About a year later I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Microbrews--Sometime around 1999, hanging out with Shawn Sweet at Founders Alehouse. Yes! There's more to life than Bud Lite!


Monday, December 22, 2008

Great weekend - but no running.

Snowbound! The weekend was a little longer than I had planned on--with all the snow Friday I spent quite a bit of time shoveling out. In fact, living on a street that's low-priority for the snow plows, I'm thinking it might be a long winter.

Friend Don showed up and helped push my car into some other tire tracks so that I could at least get back into my driveway. THANK YOU!!!

On dry roads, my tires would have been good for another 10000 or so. With the current conditions, it was time for some new tires. So after a few phone calls, I ended up at Belle Tire Friday afternoon for some new rubber. Much better!

Saturday morning--It was Santa Claus Girls delivery day. Over 13000 kids got presents Saturday as a result of their efforts. AMAZING. Our YMCA Service Club helps plan the routes and organize packages for them. We also help by directing traffic in the parking lot and by carrying packages to cars. Each delivery route has 14 stops, and we had around 350 routes! Very inspiring!!

I got home to find Francine shoveling. The road trucks had finally been down our street and piled about three feet of it into a wall in front of our driveway. I hate to think how many cubic feet of snow we had to move just to get our mailbox accessible again, as well as to get our cars in and out of the drive. After a bunch of shoveling, our neighbor DJ came over. "Can I help?" He went home and got his lawn tractor--with a blade on the back and a scoop on the front! WOW! It's amazing what you can do with the right equipment. THANKS!!

My girls came over Saturday afternoon. Ashley had to be in a wedding the next day--she's 7, and was the flower girl. Amber, 4, and Alexis, born Wednesday of Labor Day week, spent the night. Amber and Carly get along famously, so there was lots playing and dancing and singing going on. Lex is smiling all the time and sticking her tongue out, and has learned to burp without puking on me, which is a vast improvement since Thanksgiving weekend, when I went through quite a few shirts!

The big event was Sunday. My son-in-law Shawn along with the National Guard 125 Charlie Company returned from Iraq. We went to the ceremony at the Delta Plex to welcome them home. In spite of the nasty weather, extra plows were deployed at the airport and along the route to make sure our boys came home. Katie heads the Family Resource Group for the National Guard here, and so was key in planning the event. So I had lots of cause to be VERY PROUD of both of them.

We stopped and picked up a couple presents that Francine had ordered for her bosses, and then took Carly to the Mexican Telephone Company for lunch. (Taco Bell) Then came home and enjoyed a nice nap, snuggled on a sheepskin in front of the fireplace with the lovely Francine.

Not bad for a cold, wintry weekend in Michigan. Today, however--I'm buying a snowblower.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Interesting Quote

In light of the present financial crisis, it's interesting to read what Thomas Jefferson said in 1802 :

'I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.'

Friday, December 05, 2008

Car Companies

OK, I'm going to say something about the car company bailouts.

First, I'm disgusted with the car companies in general. Probably with most publicly traded companies, in fact. No one seems to look at the long term. If the Big 3 AND the unions had looked ahead, they may have realized that sooner or later we need to develop alternate fuel vehicles, concentrate on economy, and maybe not commit to continuing to pay people from current revenue streams long after they're retired and not contributing anything to the company any more.

Now, with so much debt that it can never be serviced, they're asking for $34 billion worth of LOANS (more debt) to get them out of the current situation. How exactly is that going to help in the long term? My opinion is that it won't. It'll just prolong the problems for a while.

We have some pretty good bankruptcy laws in this country that would allow GM to restructure, get rid of a lot of debt, etc. Would it hurt? Sure. The shareholders would lose all their money. But they've lost most of it already, so that's just going to finish it off.

Meanwhile, our governor is busy lobbying for the bailout. Of course she is. She's governor of a state that hosts the automotive industry. She keeps asking who would buy a car from a company that's in bankruptcy? Remember United Airlines? Who would fly on an airline that's going bankrupt? Silly question, right? United went through the process, the shareholders got wiped out, but the company is still in business and moving in good directions.

I expect the Congress will bail out the car companies. Oh well. I hope it works if they do.

Meanwhile, let me talk about something cool the car companies do. They all have agreed on how far apart to space the holes so that we can screw our license plates to them. Then all the states agreed to make license plates with holes the same corresponding distance. Pretty good, eh? The whole freakin' country agrees on something. How often does that happen?

Imagine a state like Wyoming deciding to make their license plates with holes a different distance apart. That could be an effective way to keep people from moving there.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Stuff from Misc Notes I Should Have Recorded Already

I went to Aunt Erna's funeral about a month ago. She's my mom's aunt, the wife of my Grandpa Lloyd's brother Lawrence. Last summer we went to her 90th birthday party.

Everyone had nice things to say about her, like at everyone's funeral. No one ever says bad things about the dead at their funerals. In her case, I doubt that there IS anything bad to say. She was one of the nicest people in the world. You can tell that if you meet any of her kids (my mom's first cousins) or grandkids. They're ALL nice.

The funeral was almost joyous. Her suffering was over. Whatever would happen to her next would be better. What a nice person.

I hope people will have nice things to say about me like that. I also hope it isn't for about 50 years or so.

(I really don't like the song, "How Great Thou Art." Might be because I've heard so many people slaughter it in my lifetime.)
Regarding the Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon, of which I'm the race director:
"If you aren't having the best marathon experience ever, we aren't doing something right."

I need to do a "viral video" that catches on all over the country because it's clever, funny, or just plain wierd.

Jacques Cousteau said this: When one man, for whatever reason, has the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself.

When I was at Ben Burk's place in Rapid City, I had a pint of Brown Cow Ale at the Firehouse Brewing Company. Then I had a pint of Firehouse Red.

Elections, Races, and other random thoughts

Granted, it's not until January 20th that President Obama takes office, but it still looks like he's moving in good directions. At least I hope so.

Of course, there's the usual racist BS going on. I hate that. Yeah, we elected a Black guy president. I think that's good. Not because he's Black. Because the American people took that out of their decision making process.

I know--some people say he's only half-Black. So what. He looks Black. That's cool. I like that we have a whole bunch of races in this country. It makes life more interesting. Richer. Me? I'm just a plain White guy. Mostly WASP. But then, one of my great-great grandmothers was an American Indian. Another one was Dutch. I think there were a few Germans in there somewhere.

I don't like the term "Native American" when it's used to refer to American Indians. I have to go back five generations before I can even find one ancestor who wasn't born in this country. I figure that makes me as "native" as anybody. I also don't especially like any Hyphenated-American designations. I'm not suggesting giving up our ancestors, but once we're Americans maybe we should keep our eyes on making the future better. (Call yourself whatever you want though.)

After travelling to about 30 countries, I'm always thankful for the richness that the world has to offer. Every country, every race, every sub-culture has something interesting to add to the mix. Even travelling to other parts of the U.S. we find a whole lot of differences. Driving through the "Bible Belt" a couple weeks ago, I cruised the radio stations and was able to find either religious music or country music. Rarely a rock and roll station to be found. The waitresses around there all call me "Honey" or "Sugar" even though they just met me. It's a friendly part of the country.

Coming home from a trip to all seven continents for marathons last year, I was connecting through an airport in Tokyo and for the first time in about a month I heard some Americans talking. It reminded me of how much I missed home. Good old American Black and White people, talking in accents I could understand. It was nice. Made me homesick.

I like that our government is moving in directions where people are no longer "tokens." It's getting so that people are chosen more for their abilities and merits and less because they belong to a particular race or gender.

Our country is getting better. I'm not blind to the faults we might still have, but comparing 2008 to the 1960s it's amazingly different. We're moving in good directions. Let's keep moving.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Marathons, Mountains, and Microbrews

Yes, you know those are my three "hobbies" by this time. So now, all I need is a marathon to make the month complete.

It would happen on November 23 in a park in the southwest corner of Nashville. The Flying Monkey Marathon! It was just a little affair--only a couple hundred runners allowed, and a race director who (believe it or not) may just be crazier than I am. I had to contact RD Trent Rosenbloom to get in, since registration had closed a long time before, but he welcomed me.

Also, I ran into old friends GW and Linda from Colorado--my former shipmates aboard the Ioffe in last year's first trip to Antarctica.

Race morning was COLD -- around 27 degrees. But a nice day and not too windy, so after the race started it was comfortable. The course--ALL HILLS for 26.2 miles. There's an 11.2 mile loop that we ran both forward and backward, with a little more thrown in along the way. Since I wasn't familiar with the area, I never really knew which direction we were going. It was only up and down.

Somewhere around 12 miles I caught up with a guy named Max, and we spent the rest of the race getting to know each other and solving the world's problems. Finally, with only two people still behind us, we finished around 6 hours 37 minutes.

Slow day. Yes. However, only 4 weeks earlier, I had my second knee surgery of the year. And, in spite of that, I kept my marathon-a-month streak alive at 69 months in a row. Now I'm working on getting back up to speed, strengthening my legs, and getting my marathon times back to around 4:30 before another six months goes by.

So there you go. Month of November held seven state high points, about 9 or 10 breweries, and a marathon. Not bad.

And next November? I'm thinking of going back and giving the Monkey another try.

and the adventure continues....

Route 66

The final leg of the journey would start the afternoon of November 18th as we headed south to Amarillo and then to Route 66.

After stopping in Tulsa for the night, we hit the road fairly early, with the intention to get back home before the day was done. LOTS OF DRIVING. We got off the freeway again as we approached Kansas, and went back onto the two-lane version of the old Route 66. There are only 13.2 miles of it, cutting across the southeast corner of the state, so I wanted to travel the whole thing.

It was also a scouting mission, of sorts. Perhaps at sometime we could do a marathon, starting in Missouri, following Route 66 through Kansas, turning around at the Oklahoma boarder and heading back for just-slightly-long marathon. I think it would work well.

Back to the freeway and across Missouri, and I was getting tired of travelling and determined to be home for the night. Our only stops were at an outlet store along the freeway near Lebanon, MO, and then in St. Louis, where we had lunch at the Morgan Street Brewery along with a pint of their seasonal Pumpkin Ale. The brewery is practically in the shadow of the St. Louis Arch, so I got to see that as well.

Around 8:00 Chicago time I dropped Mike off at his place in Skokie, and headed for home as fast as I could get away with. Well, actually I didn't quite get away with it, but the Indiana state cop let me off with a warning.

Did I say that the final high point was a couple days earlier? Well, probably the best high point of the whole trip was the welcome home I got from the lovely Francine. But, that's a whole 'nother story. :-)

and the adventure continues....

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Final High Point

After a not-all-that-comfortable sleep, we got up and headed back to Black Mesa, elevation 4973. While it was about a 4.2 mile hike up, the climbing portion was real short. Being on a mesa (table top) we followed a nearly flat trail for about two miles before starting up. Then about 20 minutes of decent up-hill to another flat for a couple miles. At the highest point, we had now done six high points in the last 5 days. The stone obilisk at the top had on its sides what was in each direction. On the west, it said New Mexico is only 1299 feet away. We looked to the west and realized that we'd still be on top of the mesa at that point, so we walked to New Mexico.

We headed down and went into Kenton to The Mercantile to get something to eat. We asked for a menu, but they nearly laughed at us. The menu is basically either a hamburger or a cheeseburger. Hmm.... Since Mike keeps kosher, it's pretty hard to eat there. We picked up some ice cream bars instead. They gave us a certificate for climbing Black Mesa.

The next leg of our journey would be travelling Route 66 back to Chicago. We headed to Amarillo to pick it up there.

Route 66--America's Mainstreet, stretches from Chicago to Los Angeles. I always thought it would be great to travel it. Now-days a lot of it doesn't exist in its old form. We did pick up the old road a little after leaving Amarillo, and traveled the two-lane old road pretty much alongside the freeway for the rest of Texas. In Oklahoma, as it got darker, we reverted to the highway. We stopped in Oklahoma City at Bricktown Brewery for a beer and some dinner, and then continued to Tulsa to spend the night.

Back to the trip -- Nebraska and Kansas

Sunday night with Brent was nice, but Monday morning was back on the road. Fortunately, the price of gas is pretty consistently under two bucks now!

About an hour after leaving Brent's, we arrived at a little box where we could put three bucks apiece and then head down a drive to Panorama Point, elevation 5424. Even though we were over a mile high, it isn't what you'd call a mountain. It's just the highest thing they have in Nebraska. The best part of this one was the field of buffalos we had to drive through to get there. MASSIVE animals. Beautiful. Back to the road and we headed south via Colorado to Mount Sunflower in Kansas.

Mount Sunflower is another nice little drive-up highpoint. At 4039 feet, also not a mountain. Very nice little display of iron-art at the high point and very welcoming signage by the property owners. One more to go.

The trip into Oklahoma was perhaps the biggest adventure of the trip. After hours on the road, we wondered how it would take us as long to get there as my GPS said it was going to. We found out. About 20 miles or so from the Oklahoma boarder while still in Colorado, we turned onto gravel roads. We drove and drove until the road started curving around. The road narrowed. And narrowed. And narrowed. Before we knew it, we were on a two-track with grass growing up in the middle of it. So we're 800 miles from home, in the dark in the middle of nowhere with NO lights in the distance in any direction. We drove for about 10 minutes on the two-track before crossing the unmarked boarder into Oklahoma. A house appeared. The road turned back to gravel. And soon we were on paved roads again. We saw three HUGE raccoons on the road in front of us and stopped to watch them until they got bored with us and wandered off.

And five minutes later we were at the trailhead to Black Mesa, the highest point in Oklahoma. Now we just needed a place to spend the night.

We drove into the small town of Kenton, about 5 miles away. Small town. It was around 9:30 pm, but the streets had been rolled up a couple hours earlier. The next nearest towns were 30-40 miles away, so we drove around and found a state park with an open bathroom and camped in the van for the night.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Personal Record

This month I set a personal for number of states visited in any month--
1 Michigan
2 Ohio
3 Florida
4 Alabama
5 Tennessee
6 Kentucky
7 Indiana
8 Illinois
9 Wisconsin
10 Minnesota
11 North Dakota
12 South Dakota
13 Wyoming
14 Nebraska
15 Colorado
16 Kansas
17 Oklahoma
18 New Mexico
19 Texas
20 Missouri
Still to follow--3 more high points!

Monday, November 17, 2008

South Dakota

The extra rest after an early evening was nice--we've done a lot of mile so far. This morning the high point is only about 10 miles away.

We arrived at Sylvan Lake for our climb up Harney Peak, elev 7242. The conditions were perfect, temperatures in the high 30s, partly cloudy, not much wind. Officially, the park didn't open until 8:00, but at 7:30 we were ready to go. Mike's "nervous energy" had kept him talking non-stop (even more than usual) as he bundled up in 5 layers. He reminded me of Calvin bundled up to go outside. We stopped about 200 yards in and I took off my jacket and Mike took off his top 3 layers. The hiking weather was actually pretty comfortable.

Snow! We were in 5 or 6 inches of it much of the way, but the trail was never hard to find, and several people had summited on Saturday so we always had footprints to follow. The hike up is a little over 3 1/2 miles, and in a little under two hours we reached the lookout tower on the summit. We were the first to the top for the day.

The view from the top is an amazing panorama of the Black Hills. We hung out for a few minutes, ate a few Oreos, and headed back down.

On the way down we ran into a couple guys from New Jersey who were doing the climb on the spur-of-the-moment. They asked if we had any water bottles they could buy. We gave them the two full bottles we had left. As we approached the parking lot, we found a cell phone on the ground which was probably theirs (there were only 4 of us on the mountain so far) so I set it on the hood of their car.

That's 26 state high points.

Next stop was Mt. Rushmore. As we pulled up to the gate, a herd of mountain goats was guarding the entrance. Mt. Rushmore is one of the most inspirational places I've been--the vastness of the artwork, and the symbolism of the images really makes me proud to be American.

I noticed that the Nebraska high point is only about a half-hour from Cheyenne, Wyoming. I called Brent Weigner, my bi-polar friend. Brent and I met on a trip to the South Pole, and we've been to the North Pole together as well. We arrived at Brent's and he took us out to CB & Potts brewery for a meal. Butt-Face Amber and Disorder Porter were the beers of the night. We spent awhile catching up on the latest adventures, and then headed back to his place for some rest.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

North Dakota

It was a nice, easy day. We slept in a bit after getting in pretty late last night, then headed from Bismarck to a spot near the little town of Amidon, ND.

Neat stuff along the way--The Enchanted Highway near Regent, ND. Gigantic sculptures of birds in flight, deer crossing the road, and I found later, a few others that we could have seen if we had travelled a few more miles. Check 'em out at

The trail for the high point is down about six miles of gravel road before turning down a two-track lane for .8 miles to the trail head. Unfortunately, with the snow they got in ND last week (about 4 feet worth) we could only get about 2/3 of the way down it, and that was with a little jog over into the field to avoid getting stuck in the snowbanks. Still a little icy and as it warmed up, a little muddy underneath.

So, our hike was a little longer than the guide book said. At first, the trail was hard to find, but since we could see where we were ultimately going we just improvised for a bit. As we got farther up the mountain, it was more and more obvious where the trail was. Actually, it looks like everyone made up their own trail, as we kept finding new ones.

Anyway, after about 30 minutes, we reached the top of North Dakota, White Butte, elevation 3507 feet. We signed the summit registry, took a few shots, and headed back down. Mike has now bagged two state high points. It's number 25 for me.

We were fortunate to find a farm along the way where they raise buffalos (bison) so Mike was able to see his first ever buffalos.

Next peak is Harney Peak near Custer, SD. It's only 40 miles or so from my friend Ben's place in Rapids City. I called him. He's in Kalamazoo. Guess we won't sleep at his place tonight. We stopped at the Firehouse Brewing Company on Main Street and I had a pint of Smoke Jumper Stout. Nice.

Tonight would be an early one. Nice and relaxing for a change. We checked into the Bavarian Inn in Custer, only about a 10 minute drive from tomorrow morning's trailhead. Had dinner at the Sage Creek Grill. Very nice salmon, washed down with a bottle of one of my favorites--Moose Drool, from the Big Sky Brewing in Missoula, MT.

Life is good. I should have a better connection tomorrow and post some pictures.

and the adventure continues....

The Journey Continues

It's been a wierd week. I can't seem to remember what day it is.

Thursday, after a short night's sleep following my Floriday trip, I worked for 5 hours getting some computers set up at Michigan Chief Sales, and then headed for Chicago to pick up Mike.

Of course, I was running late enough to hit Chicago way too close to rush hour. It wasn't bad though. Everyone there is intent on one thing--getting out of town. It was really pretty orderly.

We headed north toward our first high point, Timms Hill, near Ogema, Wisconsin, with the intent of getting fairly close so we could do it first thing in the morning. We got as far as Appleton before we stopped. (Appleton is the site of the Fox Cities Marathon, which I've done a couple of times.) We stopped for a quick beer at Fratello's. Their brewery, however, is in another of their locations, but I did have a pint of their local brew. We stopped for the night a few minutes later.

Friday morning. North to Timms Hill. Driving north through Wisconsin it gets pretty desolate after a while. For a city-boy like Mike it was a bit of an eye-opener. Little hunting cabins alongside the road here and there, lots of nice wilderness. We got to the park that's around the high point and found that the gate was closed. Guess we might have to walk in. The map showed the road going out the other side, so we drove a mile or so to check it out. It was open--but the road was one way, one lane, and coming at us. Oh well. I drove in anyway.

We were the only people at the park, so no traffic incidents were to be had. We parked the car and proceed to hike a couple hundred yards up a well-trodden path to the summit. Mike's first high point, Timms Hill, elevation 1951. The sign actually says 1951.5. Guess they wanted an extra six inches. (I'm not going anywhere with that one.) There's an observation tower to climb that took us above the treetops for a great panoramic view of the surrounding area.

Next summit is in the west end of North Dakota. This will be our biggest driving day.

It's Wisconsin. We found a cheese shop and bought some cheese. Then before leaving the state, we stopped at Das Bierhaus in Menomonie for a snack and a pint of Marzen. Alas, no beer glasses for sale again. Back in the car for the trip across Minnesota.

It was looking like Fargo would be a great place to stop for dinner. Cheese in Wisconsin, so I figured buffalo in North Dakota was the thing to eat. A buffalo burger and a pint of Broad Ax Stout at the Granite City Brewing Company was nice.

We figured getting to Bismarck would be a good jumping off spot for the night. And that's where this entry ends. Heading west this morning.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Epic Journey

Or whatever. It started with my old college buddy, Mike Schwartz. He said, I need to have an adventure or something. Spend about a thousand bucks. Hmmm... "Maybe you're talking to the right person. I have a thought."

I'm collecting state high points (see for info) I noticed a few years ago that the high points of ND, SD, NE, KS, and OK are pretty much in a line running north to south.

Here's the plan. I pick Mike up on Chicago. We hit the state high point of Wisconsin on the way, then head west across North Dakota, and start working our way south. After climbing in Oklahoma, we go south to Amarillo and head back to Chicago on old Route 66, just for fun. We left last night and spent the night in Appleton, Wisconson. We'll see how it goes.

Francine needed another car. Clint's mom had a really nice minivan which he was going to bring up from Florida to sell. The transport was going to cost him $300. I needed a break from the action for a couple days, and I also needed to check off Brinton Hill, the high point of Florida. So instead of waiting for Clint to get the van moved in December, I hopped on a plane for Tampa and proceeded on the world's longest test-drive.

Clint's dad met me at the airport about 2:00 pm. I headed for Brinton Hill at Lakewood Park, FL.

Brinton Hill is located far west in the Pan Handle, approximately straight south from Montgomery, AL. The trip took me through Talahasee for the first time, and then still farther west. Finally, at about 9:55 pm, I pulled into a little park close to the Alabama border, where I checked off the lowest-of-the-high points. At only 345 feet, it's not much of a climb. Just park your car and walk about 75 feet to a stone marker.

Back in the car and head north. The trip home was long, but nice. I listened to the various radio stations. Throught the south, while scanning for radio stations, it's either religious stations or country stations. The people on those stations don't have eyes. They have ahs.

I caught a couple naps along the way, driving until I was drowsy and then pulling off for a couple hours. Stopped at a Waffle House for breakfast at around 5:30. By the time I near Birmingham, I wanted a cup of good coffee, so I got off the freeway and found a Starbucks.

Nostalgia. I pulled around the corner by the Starbucks, and across the street was the hotel I stayed in nearly two years ago, when I made my first seven-continents marathon trip. "Hey! I know where I am! Cool!"

I had met some pretty nice people down there. Justin, the race director. Jill at trackshack dot com. A good friend from Kalamazoo, Brian Molrony, introduced himself to me down there and we spent a while searching (unsuccessfully) for a microbrewery in Birmingham. I ran a fun marathon there.

On northward. In Nashville, I stopped at the Blackstone Brewery for lunch. Shepherd's Pie and a pint of Nut Brown Ale. Nice.

North through Louisville, and a bit more nostalgia. I ran a marathon in a rainstorm there. Slept the night before in the back of my Aztek and watched fireworks over the river. Talked a janitor into giving me a big plastic bag for the soaking-wet-and-cold walk back to my car. Taking my post-race shower in a downpour.

Gas in Indiana for only $1.82. That's less than half of what we paid a month ago. Yet another nostalgic moment--I remember back when gas used to be under two bucks...

As I got close to Fort Wayne, I pulled off for gas again. This spot looked familiar too. Huntington, the site of the HUFF--the Huntington Ultra Frigid Fifty. The longest distance I've ever done, through lots of trails and lots of mud. The 50K there is actually too long. More like 32 miles. Huntington is also the home of former VP Dan Quayle. And they have a massive display of Christmas stuff in this little sunken park in the middle of town that's fun to walk around in.

It was my last stop before home. Finally around 10:30 I got home to the lovely Francine. A beautiful end to a long trip.

and the adventure continues....

Monday, November 10, 2008

Was Paul Simon a Great Prophet?

No, I wasn't crazy about either candidate, however--

Isn't it cool that FINALLY we've been able to put away the past (at least for a bit) and actually elect a Black guy for President!

I'm feeling pretty proud of my fellow countrymen right now. I hope our new president is up to the task.

Was Paul Simon one of the great prophets? Somewhere around 1975, he sang:

"And if I was president
The minute congress call my name
Id say who do,
Who do you think youre fooling?
Ive got the presidential seal
I'm up on the presidential podium
My mama loves me
She loves me
She get down on her knees and hug me
Like she loves me like Barock"

What? You think I misinterpret? Go back and listen to the song again. And, what kind of colors do you think he might have been talking about in the song Kodachrome?

(You see what I have to deal with--this kind of stuff goes on in my head all the time!)

Best of luck, Mr. President-Elect!!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

And now...I really am going to try and start writing again.

It's been a great year. And a bad one. Only bad because I haven't been running and working out as much as normal. But great in all other aspects.

A couple weeks ago I had my SECOND knee done. Arthroscopic surgery. This time, instead of going in and fixing something specific, it was more of a "search and destroy" mission. He went in and cleaned out a whole bunch of stuff that was floating around in there. Anyway, it was MUCH more painful than the first one. It's healing nicely though.

The lovely Francine finished another marathon today. Elyria, Ohio. A nice out-and-back course on bike trails. Significant, because she now has reached 51 marathons before she turns 51 in January. Also significant because she's now done 21 months in a row.

Meanwhile, Carly and I went out while TLF was running and found four different geocaches ( if you're curious). It was a nice morning with a great kid.

Carly and I are getting to be closer as we go along. It's great having another kid--my other ones are getting OLD.

Life is good. More soon.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Quote from Jacques Cousteau

"When one man, for whatever reason, has the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it for himself."

Guess I need to start writing more, eh?

Friday, July 18, 2008

25 June 2008 - Mt. Marcy, Lake Placid, and other stuff

On the 13th, the lovely Francine and I spent about 9 hours hiking up and down Mt. Marcy, the highest mountain in New York. 14.8 miles up and down over some really rough trails.

On the 14th, we ran the Lake Placid Marathon. With my knee not feeling bad unless I pushed it, I decided to take it really easy. Meanwhile, Francine ran a really good marathon, taking away an age group award.

After I got back, I decided to go see Terence for some more physical therapy. The following is exerpted from my newsletter:

OK, I told you my knee was goofy lately. Well, Terence has all the ligiments and stuff around it feeling pretty good now, but when he was twisting it around the other day I was feeling some pretty interesting pain. He smiled at me and said, "Let's get Ed in here and schedule an MRI."

So, it's looking like next Wednesday morning at 2:30 I'll be getting my knee scanned. And if it needs fixing, I'm going to get it fixed.

I watched an arena football game on TV once. About the only thing that impressed me about it was that one of the players had arthroscopic surgery on his knee on Wednesday, and on Saturday he was playing football. I was encouraged by that, though it was pointed out to me that no one is going to pay me many thousands of dollars to be back out running marathons the next weekend, regardless of how well it turns out.

Of course, worrying about it would be premature. The MRI might just tell me that I need to heal for a couple more weeks and quit being such a wimp. I hope that's the case.

I'm still planning on running in Carrollton, MI the end of July. Maybe it will be an early-start walk instead. My marathon streak is at 64 months in a row now. I'd hate to have to start over again.

I Threw My Brooks Shoes Away in Lake Placid
Not because I didn't like them, however. They were great shoes. You know that Brooks makes the great race shirts that have become a tradition at our marathon. You may also notice that everyone on our staff is wearing Brooks shoes as well.

The shoes I was wearing were my Brooks Adrenalines. They're the same shoes I was wearing at the FINISH LINE last October when I was shaking hands and hugging a lot of you as you crossed the line.

Then, in November and December, I wore them for seven marathons across seven continents. Starting in Beirut, Lebanon; then to Atlanta; Florence, Italy; Port Elizabeth, South Africa; Wanganui, New Zealand; Vina del Mar, Chile; and finally in the Patriot Hills in Antarctica. The shoes had a LOT of miles on them, traveling all the way around the world.

I wore them at Disney World in January for Goofy's Challenge, completing both a half and a full marathon the same weekend. And for five more marathons since then.

Last weekend in Lake Placid, the lovely Francine and I spent nine hours on Saturday hiking up and down Mt. Marcy, the highest point in New York. I was wearing my Adrenalines. Then on Sunday, my old friends were with me for their final marathon, as we ran a beautiful course in Lake Placid.

Muddy, well-worn, with a dozen or so marathons under their laces, they found their final resting place somewhere in New York.

But don't worry--I'll be wearing a new pair when I greet you at the FINISH LINE in October.

11 June 2008 Crap! Another necktie!

Yeah, your dad will never say it out loud, but he's probably thinking it. I know, probably your dad doesn't even wear ties any more. Wouldn't it be cool though, if this Father's Day, you got him something he could really ENJOY?!?! Like maybe an entry to the Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon. (How was that--not too subtle, I hope. The bold print is an attempt at subliminal advertising.)

My knee hurts. Some tendon thing going on which has caused me a lot of aggravation this year so far. Finally I decided to go visit some of my friends at Metro Health Sports Medicine for a bit of physical therapy.

Ever go to a doctor and only to be told that you shouldn't run anymore? Most runners react to that by finding another doctor. Anyway, Dr. Ed knows better--the guys at Metro are all about getting you back in the game. So I'm doing a couple PT sessions, icing, stretching, massage, and all that other great stuff.

And when I told him that the lovely Francine and I are heading out to do the Lake Placid Marathon this week, he didn't even raise an eyebrow. Hmmm...guess he's been around a bunch of us.

We'll also be climbing Mt. Marcy on Saturday. It's the highest point in New York, and Francine hasn't been up it before. Should be fun.

Happy Father's Day everybody. And stay away from the tie rack!

4 June 2008 Medical Marijuana and other thoughts

Medicinal Marijuana, and Other Thoughts

A few years ago I ran the Hogeye Marathon in Fayetteville, Arkansas on a very rainy day. I didn't have a flight home until the next day, so I talked to some of the locals to find out where the party was after the marathon. We ended up at a guy's house, where the party was going well until everything had to stop to watch an epsode of The Simpsons. It was about medicinal marijuana. At one time Homer said, "I hear it's a gateway drug."

Last night I was keying in an entry and the guy put in the comments, "I had so much fun running the half-marathon last year, that I have to run the full this year now."

So maybe the half-marathon is a "gateway drug." It's good, just not quite enough. Gotta go back for a bigger thrill--run the whole enchilada, do the full 26.2.

You can probably figure that I don't have anything else real interesting to say this week, or I wouldn't be talking about Homer Simpson. And I should probably put in a disclaimer too--I DO NOT advocate using marijuana. I DO, however, advocate running half-marathons, full marathons, and other similarly wonderful things. I'm one of the guys who can't figure out why people needs drugs--life it constantly keeping me high anyway.

28 May 2008 - Bayshore Marathon

Yesterday was my 52nd birthday. While doing some hill work, I think I goofed my knee up again. This time I'm going to go to a doctor or something. This is pissing me off.

Saturday turned out to be a BEAUTIFUL day at the Bayshore Marathon. I ran my best marathon of the year so far (which isn't saying much--I've had my brain and body somewhere besides in training mode lately). The lovely Francine ("I'll probably never qualify for Boston again.") ran a Boston Qualifying 4:05:44, beating her time needed by fifteen seconds. Dr. Rick finished fourth Masters in personal record time of 2:50! Cathy Fenton, one of our pacers, did a personal record 3:24 and took second masters. Robert Jarrin, another of our pacers, won his age group after leaving Rick in the dust in 2:49:19. Other staff members Lynne Oosterhouse and Sara Maher were there for the half-marathon as well.

Party in the parking lot afterwards with a few of the GR crowd, cheering on the people who where still coming in. People of all shapes and sizes, but all enjoying the accomplishment of finishing a marathon. Every time I see people coming in at 5+ hours and see the look on their faces, I'm reminded of why I enjoy this so much. The accomplishment of doing something BIGGER than most people will EVER do just inspires the heck out of me.

Yesterday I bought my first furniture for my new house. If you call it furniture. It was 10 of those plastic lawn chairs. Figured I'd need them sooner or later, and we had our first regular staff meeting of the year and I needed somewhere for people to sit.

21 May 2008 - From my newsletter.

I started a newsletter for the marathon. That's the big news this week. Now it's July, and I'm going to catch up on my blog a bit. A lot of this entry was in the newsletter.

At the end of April, Francine and I closed on a new house! Nice quiet street in Forest Hills. Grand Rapids address and just a couple blocks inside Ada Township. I really like it here.

Exerpted from the newsletter:

So, what's happening around here? Last week nearly everyone I know was running the River Bank Run. Now, a lot of people are suffering what I call "Post Partum Depression." (Yes, I know it's nothing like having a baby, but I can't think of a better term for it.) They trained for a long race (if you call 25K "long") and now it's over. Never fear! You can beat that depression by picking a Fall marathon and starting right back into your training! Do I have a biased opinion on WHICH Fall marathon you should enter? Duh!

So, in the process of moving, I'm trying to consume (with the help of my friends) some of the beer that was given to me last year at the marathon. (See day.aspx for details on where the beer came from.)

One of the bottles I got was labeled "Masters IPA - T" and was brewed by Tom Townsend and Scott Oberlin. Now, normally, IPA is a bit hoppy for my taste, but this stuff was GOOD! Nice finish, left a real good taste in my mouth. Keep up the good works, Tom & Scott.

This weekend is the Bayshore Marathon in Traverse City. The lovely Francine and I are heading up there, along with other staff members Dr. Rick (who's gunning to get his Master's title back this year), Lynne Oosterhouse to do the half-marathon, and I'm probably missing a few others. Rick's been training like a madman this Spring, just won the Clydesdale A class at the River Bank, and is shooting for sub 2:50 Saturday. Which means he'll be showered and kicking back with a cigar and a beer by the time I get done. Oh well.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Starting Over

In case you haven't already heard, I just bought a house. Or, I should say, WE (the lovely Francine and I) just bought a house.

It's a great time for reflection for me. The first time I bought a house, I was 21 years old, just starting out, figuring out who I am. Now, it's like the same feeling. Starting fresh. I've been closing old accounts on past business ventures, shredding old records from the early 90s and before, just basically cleaning my life up. Now I'm getting ready to move into a new place with a beautiful woman. I've got fun things to do, including organizing the Grand Rapids Marathon. I've got a lot more experience now. It's pretty amazing.

Don't know where life goes from here, but I'm optimistic and excited about it. "Starting over" at 51. Pretty cool.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Dick's Sporting Goods

So, we're heading into Dick's Sporting Goods last week, and Carly is in the back seat, remembering another trip we did to the other Dick's Sporting Goods in the Rivertown Crossings mall a while back--you know, the really big two story one.

"Mom, you know how some Dick's are bigger than others..." is the way her story started out.

We don't know what she said after that, because we were way too busy trying to keep from cracking up in the front seat.

I thought this was interesting - from my email

Read it all!!
Our Tax System Described With Beer Analogy
This is brilliant: Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:
The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. "Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20."

Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings)
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 ( 22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

"I only got a dollar out of the $20,"declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man," but he got $10!"
"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than I!"

"That's true!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics
University of Georgia

For those who understand, no explanation is needed. For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Running Last Weekend

Finally--February sucked! I pulled a calf muscle and only managed about 52 miles that month. Half of that was on one day. I did manage to log a marathon for the month, extending my streak to 60 months in a row. Then I caught that nasty crap that was going around, and the fact that I couldn't breathe well enough to run at least gave my leg enough time to finish healing.

So last week, I ran the Irish Jig, probably my worst 5K time ever. But at least it didn't hurt.

Sunday got better. Our little group (about a dozen of us) started at John Ball Park, ran downtown, then north through Riverside Park, onto the White Pine Trail. We went north to Fifth Third Ballpark and ran around it. The lovely Francine suggested that we hop the fence and run the bases. Hmm.... Only 4 of us did that, but it was kinda fun. (Note, I'm not saying WHICH 4, in case someone has a problem with tresspassing. In which case I officially disavow all knowledge.)

Then we ran back to John Ball Park, a total of nearly 17 miles.

The next day was St. Patricks Day. Now, the YMCA runners had a tradition at one time of running to the Triangle Bar, drinking a beer, and then running back to the Y on St. Patricks Day. We talked about it at a party on Saturday night, and decided that would be the plan. Now, here's the dumb part:

I knew of a triangle just north of Richmond Street, at the point of which is a bar. I pointed it out on the map on my iPhone, and someone even agreed that that's where we were going. Pretty easy route, exactly 2 miles from the Y.

So, five of us set out from the Y Monday at noon, and because I'm kind of a map guy, they had me lead the way, figuring I knew where I was going. We ran Broadway all the way to Richmond and I pointed the way north from there. "No, that's not right, it's over on Stocking." Guess what. The bar I was thinking of is called The Point.

OK, now I did ask where it was and showed someone on the map, you remember. Come to find out, EVERYONE I was running with had been to the Triangle before. Which had me wondering, "Why the hell were you all following me then?" Anyway, we ran to the Triangle, but were a little later than we had planned so a couple people just headed back to the Y. Kent, Brad and I had a pitcher of beer before returning. So our 4 mile run ended up being a little more than 5, but that's cool.

P.S. They also had corned beef and cabbage and some other stuff for free at the Triangle. Not good food in the middle of the run, but after showering, I went back up for an inexpensive beer and a free St. Patrick's Day lunch. Yummy.

P.P.S. Next time you guys decide to elect me leader, make sure I know where the hell I'm going, would you please?

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Old Stuff

Found when cleaning out my old documents:

Did you know?
The word gullible isn’t in the dictionary.

Dear Don,
Gullible is too in the dictionary. I went and looked it up.

Dear Reader,
You can make $50,000 in the next 30 days. Send me $49.95 and I’ll tell you how.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

My Little Girl - Part 2

So, just a little more than a week after Shawn was deployed, Katie called me. "Guess what, Daddy? I'm pregnant."

So, sometime in late summer or early fall, another baby will enter the picture. Should be fun!

My Little Girl

OK, she's not so little any more. In fact, she just turned 30 in December, and this month her husband Shawn's National Guard unit got sent on a 400 day deployment which will leave them in Iraq in a couple of months.

Katie is the president of the Family Resource Group for the local National Guard armory. She was the primary person in charge of planning the send-off for the unit. So on Monday a couple weeks ago, I walked into the Armory to see an amazing show. All the local media was there, flags everywhere, lots of refreshments and lots of ceremony. All planned by my daughter and a host of other people.

When thank-yous were handed out later in the evening, she was mentioned by name by one of the big-shot military guys.

Her dad, meanwhile, had tears in his eyes from being so proud of her. And from being proud of my son-in-law, as well.

I Gotta Write Something

Digging out! That's what I've been doing for the past month since returning from my seven-continents marathon tour. Man, am I behind on stories. So, I'll give you a few.

The lovely Francine and I went to Florida to do the Goofy Challenge - The Disney Half-marathon on Saturday, the Disney World Marathon on Sunday - and spend a day before that with my Mom and Dad in Eustis. The following event took place in that small, Florida town....

I sat motionless in the chair, totally still. The man beside me had sharp implements in his hands. One slip and I would hate to imagine what might happen.

The guy in the next chair, however, had lost control. He was squirming, crying, resisting, as a man nearly four times his size was holding him down. Try as he might, he couldn't get away, the big man pinning his arms at his side as the cutting was finished. He would leave that day a little lighter than when he came in.

And all the while, a woman took pictures of the procedure, preserving the event. She took a lock of the victim's hair and put it in a envelope. The procedure completed, the big man took out his wallet.

"It's on the house," the barber said, and presented the proud mom and dad with a Certificate of First Haircut. Maybe if I had cried or something, they would have given me my haircut for free. Or not.