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Archive for July, 2008

Chicago to Myself (Day 7)

I woke up at 4am this morning, on purpose to get some shots in the city before all the tourists were out. I left for the subway station at 5, and got down to Millienum park just at it hit 5:43am central time (official sunrise time in Chicago today).

They were SOO worth it. I met a retired guy who was taking pictures. 3 of his photos have been in National Geographic, and I got some good hints :-) Now I just need to practice, and read up more.

Off to get my oil changed and alignment adjusted at 2pm, then hopefully making it up for a Handstand in Milwaukee, WI and then on to Oshkosh. Jeff Dunam is suppose to be performing at 9pm tonight… So I hope I can make that :-)


A View of Chicago

Check out all the pics I took this morning here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssaammee/sets/72157606451132674/


Hop on the CTA Blue Line


Out in Chicago (Day 6)

I studied the map, devised a plan of attack, and then hit the city.

Double Decker Bus tour…

Then I walked down through the city towards the express bus to the Museum of Science and Industry and got a handstand on the way…

The museum was pretty cool. Definitely tailored for younger kids but I enjoyed the “coal mine” tour.

..and my last handstand (camera was balanced on my backpack and I used a timer)…

Tuesday felt pretty lonely for the first time. I know it was just a temporary thing though. I’m posting this on Wednesday and today was much better, just running on no sleep and that’s why this post is so bland! Also, pictures from a tour bus aren’t that great, so I decided to spare you from them. Check out my Day 7 pictures which I like much more :-)


Sleeping in Chi-Town (Day 5)

If you haven’t read the “locked out” post from earlier today, please do if you wish to laugh hysterically.

After FINALLY leaving Peoria at 4:15pm I headed out for Chicago. I still was a little paranoid about having been locked out but talked a while to Kristen and then to the family which helped level me out.

This…

goes here. And that about sums up Illinois for the most part. Well, even the midwest. You can add in soy too, lots of that!

From a distance, Chicago was hazy (and up close) but maybe it’s just the day? Once I got closer I smelled that industrial/urine smell you smell in the elevators for the Metro in DC?

Anyways, it’s HUGE. I’ve never been here and I’m sure (as long as I’m kind of dry) tomorrow should be lots of fun :-)

I arrived in Chicago at Dieter’s fancy little pad. It’s a brick building, but real nice inside. I think the oven hasn’t been used recently, cause the first time I tried to cook a pizza, it didn’t quite work, but 2nd time was the charm. Go figure?

Thanks to GuysEatingStuff for the shoutout. I’m going to see what I can find to eat in Chicago tomorrow…. hmmm… mmmm….


Locked Out in Underwear!

You expected stories from my trip, and here is #1. Oh dear.

Sooo, funny story. Was getting ready to head out of Will’s place, and was doing laundry/cleaning and missed throwing a can into the recycling bin in the garage. I didn’t want to let the dog out, so I closed the door going into the garage behind me (cause it was unlocked all weekend, and I just figured that was the case). So I turn around to go back in and… door is locked… Shit! This sucks.

To make things worse, I was about to go get some laundry out of the dryer inside so I was currently in only my underwear… and I was now locked in the garage… GREAT.

Luckily, I found Will’s motorcycle pants lying around and a dirty t-shirt. Better than just underwear if I was to go outside? I figured the best. So I opened the garage, and walked around the house, tried all the doors… no luck. I came back in and figured I could pick the lock? I looked around for something and then saw a droor that said “picks”. Whoa, awesome! Unfortunately I have no idea how to use one, so I tried for a quick minute, and then accepted my failure. I didn’t want to break a lock in this whole embarassing process. Now, when I was fiddiling with the lock, of course someone is walking their dog by, and I say “hi”. Akward… anyways, I give up.

It’s 11:30am… Will comes home around 5? I only have to wait 5+ hours, and I avoid public embarassment, and don’t cause any damage. I lay around for an hour, soak up some sun… this isn’t working. I came up with a good idea, I could call him… IF i knew his number… and IF I could actually make a call. I heard the man across the street talking and decided to go over and introduce myself and explain the situation. He realized I was the guy who had the Virginia car this weekend and luckily believed my story. I then went in and had a little conversation while he booted up a OLD Windows 98 computer and used dial up. I even saw a blue screen of death… but… this is my only option.

So, I am pleasant with him, he’s very kind to allow me to use his computer and I find an email from Will with his cell phone number. I call him and he tells me how I can get in! Yay! Saved! So nearly 2 hours after I am locked out, I get back in. So, now it’s 4pm and I’m heading off the the grocery store than Chicago. CRAZY!


What is going on? Day 4

I fudged the dates with blogger so that the days will stay in order. The following two post are both brand new as well! (Within the last 12 hours)

Not too much to report for day 4, and not even any pictures, except for being hungover, helping Will’s friend Emily pack her moving truck, A delicious Dairy Queen Oreo Blizzard, A delicious home cooked meal from Will and Elizabeth, and the viewing of a great movie!

I’m not a movie buff, but Dark Knight was pretty amazing. Heath Ledger was outstanding, and it was just well put together. Oh yeah, and has ANYONE ever seen a movie staring Morgan Freeman that wasn’t good? He’s one of my favorite actors just because he never lets you down.

So it turns out that 3/4 of the way through the movie, the movie theatre was struck by lightning and power went out. Mildly annoying, but wasn’t too bad. I was really just totally amazed by the quality of the projection (being the geek that I am). I don’t see movies much, and certainly not at decent theatres (ones in “rural” Virginia), but this was really good quality, and used some sort of DLP projector. I will definitely have to get myself an HDTV at some point to just zone out and watch pretty things on a screen :-)

Today I am headed off to Chicago after laundry is finished and a few errands! Thanks “Dieter” for letting me stay at your place!


Day Three

It’s getting late and this whole “blogging” thing takes a lot of time! I will have to write up day two and four tomorrow! Here is day three though, enjoy!

Sleeping in is always a refreshing way to start the day. Woke up around 11am and went over to an Italian place right up the street for lunch. After this we went over to the open house at the airport to check just check it out. It was within 2 minutes of Will’s house and was a nice, small airport. The coolest things we saw were:

  • The two helicopters for the children’s hosiptal
  • Pimped out 70′s style “jets” with cigarette lighters, and wood paneling.
  • Ultralight fan powered looking aircraft

Following the airport tour, we stopped back by the house to grab the camera and set off to check out UFS and get some cool handstand pictures.

UFS was basically a big lots, but for everything. It was a walmart on crack mixed with stuff that fell off a pickup truck and add in a cheap liqour store. Our main purchase was a bottle of wine to bring to the theatre (see below), but I also ended up picking up some soda so I’d quit paying convience store prices for it on the road.

Peoria Handstand Pictures…

The Giant Chicken

Caterpillar Headquarters (Elizabeth on Left, Will on Right) You guys rock! They were amazing hosts! Thanks :-)

Riverfront, Downtown Peoria

We came back and showered off our handstand filth (it’s a dirty job), and then dressed up to go to “the barn”. It was a good show/dinner/wine extravaganza. There were about 8 of us there and it was the celebration of 3 years at CATerpillar for some of the people there. There was even a ceremony where they all got pushpins because they won’t get a real pin from Caterpillar until they get 5 or 10 years. Crazy crazy kids.

So the dinner was delicious. Highlights were the shrimp pasta and the peanut butter pie dessert. We had picked up some wine from UFS earlier and had that with dinner. The show was called “It runs in the family” and was basically about a doctor who had had an affair with a nurse 18 years and nine months earlier, and it just was one GIGANTIC, RICULOUS lie after another covering it up and was quite hilarious.

We headed “out” after this to downtown and went to an Irish bar. It was good because they had a favorite, Smithwicks. Then the night gets a little blurry and went to some other club/bar. Bars in Peoria stay open til 4am. Ridiculous, and mildy painful the next morning. The ride home was from an unofficial taxi. Emily (who will be my chicago host) knew a guy who did basically worked as a taxi and we used that. I still don’t get it. All i remember was a newer minivan, and the guy had a laptop between his seat and the passenger seat, and had a facebook page open. That about wraps up day three, wee!

An extra note. If you are looking for an Overnight Adventure in Peoria, I’ve got you hooked up… here ya go!


Day Two

Stepping back to Friday…

After relaxing a little in the morning, I went and met Jamie for lunch at the Dayton Children’s hospital. It was nice to catch up because I hadn’t seen her since high school. I took a picture of us and totally somehow deleted it, ahh! Oh well, it was a pleasure! Jamie called up her grandma who always seemed to like me and STILL asks about me, and I spoke to her. She was tickled pink and I thought it was too cute. What a nice lady.

Anyways, off to the Air Force Museum next.

It was huge and had planes outside…

…and inside (SR71).

It even had rockets inside…

…and the same plane? or at least same model that dropped the a-bomb over in Hirosima, Japan. It was kind of ridiculous to think about how much that changed the world…

…with such a little bomb (that looked just like this)…

…and these are the huge props of the airplane that took them there. A lot of the planes are cool, but unless you can put them into some sort of story or context, you just don’t understand or appreciate it (i feel at least). This was one of the biggest things I’ll remember because I can really tie it to a story, rather than just seeing a big shiny plane.

This plane was cool too.

A side note: I took these next two pictures for Cecil (my flying instructor). This is a link trainer which is what he used for training (if i remember correctly). It is linked to controls that an instructor has and allows the student to simulate flying.

I figured this was about right too. Cecil is yelling at me after running the plane into the ground and busting the prop. haha

Anyways… cool airplanes, everywhere…

Three hangars worth… even an airship…

So I liked the museum. I was told I needed all day, and in order to appreciate it I would have, but I did a walk around in about 2 hours, and decided it was time to hit the road for Illinois so I’d get there at 7:30pm as promised. (I’d actually be getting there at 8:30pm but I tried time travel and it worked right around the indiana/illinois border, go figure!?)

On the way out of Dayton, I saw the needs of their citizens…

and said goodbye to Ohio…

and hello to Indiana.

Having gotten a little turned around in Indianapolis and wanting to make sure Indiana was handstanded. I stopped in the little town of Crawfordsville and got this pic.

I arrived at Will’s house right on time. It was great to see him and his girl Elizabeth. We stopped and I got some taco bell and headed over to Taylor’s to see Batman Begins (in order to prepare for sunday when we would see Dark Knight).


Day One Complete!

Packing your car for 3 months (and you only get one shot to get it right) took longer than expected. I hit the road yesterday at 1230 and arrived in Dayton, OH at 1030.

I didn’t do a very good job of documenting Maryland, but I wasn’t too impressed for the most part until I got into the mountains, especially because traffic is not the greatest. I thought Cumberland was a very pretty looking town in a valley however. I didn’t take this picture, it’s stolen from their website :-P

I think after living in Blacksburg for the past 7 years, I am partial to the mountians. I enjoyed driving into West Virginia because of them, and the 70mph speed limit :-)

So once into West Virginia…

I decided to stop in Morgantown to see West Virginia University (WVU). It was a “large” town for the area and a pretty nice college town. When I think of WVU I usually thing of burning furniture, and moonshine, but I guess when you see the town in the daylight, you miss that sorta thing.

Anyways, as a VT alumni, I must show the following three pictures, the first which is self explanitory.

The second which celebrates the ultimate in classiness; KHROME (as you see in the corner where I blew it up)

And last but not least, my best impersonation of Ashton Kutcher, “WVU, You just got Handstanded!!” haha. Go Hokies!

After leaving West Virginia, it was on to Pennsylvania for the southwestern corner of the state before I was somehow back in West Virginia again, but instead of taking a picture of that sign, I was greeted by horrible traffic and a slamming of the brakes. This traffic had me backed up for a good 30-45 minutes.

Finally, onto Ohio, I felt almost at home at this point.

Columbus suprised me, with it’s size as I drove through. And it did make for a pretty sunset picture. (minus the whole interstate thing)

and within 15 miles of my destination, there was roadwork on I-70 on both lanes. We drove on the shoulder straddling the rumble strips when traffic moved at all, and this slowed me up by a good 45 minutes or so.

Finally, at 1030pm arrived in Dayton, OH and was greeted by my lovely hosts Sherry and Mike. I got offered beer, steak, rice and veggies, and a bed. How could you go wrong? It was great getting to meet them, and hear some neat stories. Thanks guys! Here is your handstand that we took in their yard this morning :-P

That wraps up a jam packed day one, and I am pumped. No real obligations for 3 months, this is going to be a blast! Today I am going to meet an old friend Jamie from high school because she lives in town here, check out the Wright Patterson Air Force Museum, and then on to Peoria, IL where I will join up with Will at a cookout, and hang out for the weekend!


Go!

Car is packed, for the most part, a little left to do.

Leaving about 11am, kinda crazy!

Today I plan to at least do a handstand in Morgantown, WV maybe? We’ll have to see how good of time I am making. Off to Dayton I go, and I have been told “not to eat” so I am ready for dinner :-) That’s what I call hospitality.

Thanks to Mom, Dad, Dan, Kristen, Paul and Cecil for the good luck wishes as I leave!


Vacation, Engage!

No more work! (For a whole 3 months) I finally finished working after a marathon of report writing over the past few days.

Tomorrow (well, today now) will consist of cleaning/packing and organize, and on Thursday I will hit the road.

News: It looks like Chicago is going to happen! I have gotten in contact with Will’s awesome friend Emily and hopefully will figure out the details for staying in the windy city!


Blog Mashup 3.0

Handstands Across America + Guys Eating Stuff =

Dual Handstands!

A mini-carrot snack.


I have a place to sleep, and friends to meet!

My flight instructor graciously called his family in Dayton, OH and asked if I could stay on Thursday evening (to break up my trip to Illinois). They have said yes, and require a handstand at the house in return!

The first leg is:
486 mi – about 7 hours 56 mins (according to google maps)

T-Minus ~72 hours!


Exercise, finally!

I’ve been feeling really constrained since being home (the past like 36 hours, haha). Think it’s a combination of needing to do stuff for work, not being organized to the slightest (car not even unpacked) and I nothing is “normal” as far as work goes and schedule of events. Basically everything is new, and it’s kinda confusing. Today I tried to cure that by getting some exercise and I think that, plus a good nights sleep tonight will be the cure.
The 19.34 mile ‘Loop’:

View Larger Map
Last night I was able to barge in on “deadliest catch night” over at Mary Claire’s and got to see Richard as well. It was good to see old friends, and catch up. Richard and I had a conversation about Ayn Rand, well… mostly him, but I chimed in with what I know. Basically Ayn Rand’s Objectivism is really “Subjectivism” and something about Truism. My goal is to finish Atlas Shrugged which I started reading two years ago during my trip, so that when I get back, I can have a real conversation about this, haha.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention… I BIKED the ‘Loop’ haha, in like ~90 minutes or so.


Ahh, life is good.

So, my last day in Blacksburg was yesterday and it was a good day. Busy with a teleconference at work and such, and then saying my “goodbyes” to people. My favorite response to me heading out for this trip was “Dammnnnn” and was appopriately by Chris E, as well as “Don’t get eaten by grizzlies!” from others. It was nice getting good luck wishes (thank you for them!), to chat with people for a few before leaving town, and to reflect on all the friendships I’ve made in Blacksburg.

On the drive back I started reflecting some about life in general. In my mind I pictured the path I was driving on the road as like one of those measuring tapes that retract themselves. (I know, my mind is strange) I was getting pulled closer and closer to home, and farther from my 7 years of Blacksburg college/working life. I looked out the window and saw a pretty sunset, and was just thinking about how thankful I am for life being as good as it is.

I am:

  • Healthy
  • Finacially stable (til near the end of my trip) but then I will be working again for the same great company when I get back!
  • Got a great family
  • Got a great girl
  • Leaving for one of those trips that people always say they’ll do, but only few follow through with in 8 days
  • Got my pilots license in the past two weeks
  • A camping trip with TONS of friends this weekend
  • The mindset to keep looking forward and up

Just to show off how awesome my momma is… she sent me an e-card today and the note said:

“When you were little you said that homeless people should
just bum a quarter and call their families to come get them
and take them home. I hope your entire life stays cozy.”

I thought that was mighty cute, and it’s nice to know you can bring up a kid to be soo innocent. In any case, life is good and I want to thank everyone who is a part of it and say thanks for all the birthday wishes.

Cheers!

ADDED: Special thanks to Becky and the “Guys Eating Stuff” craze for featuring my attempt to eat my dream sized M&M!


South Cackalacky

Went down to South Cackalacky (SC) to move in Kristen this weekend w/the MIGHTY POWERS OF THE MINIVAN and it was a complete success. So much so that she said the weekend was “uneventful”. I like to think that scrounging around and finding tons of awesome (well not perfect, but still good) furniture, cleaning supplies and random things, and helping move it in helps that a little. Her place is looking great, and I think she’ll love it. The only problem I see is with her and the little beetles, haha.

In any case, on the way back, I was super impressed with myself. I filled up for a whopping…Much better than the 4.09 I saw in Statesville, NC off of I-77 near Broad Street.


Homeless

So in just under 9 hours I will be this man. My lease ends today and I will officially be a homeless computer programmer. A lovely world it is! He is completely burden free of “cleaning” and “making the bed”. Ahh, what a wonderful life, sleeping on the streets!

Well, not too far from the truth. Graciously crashing with Jared, Kristen, Family and then off on my Handstands Across America adventure I go starting July 24th!

I am looking forward to helping out Kristen with all of her new found furniture and then hopefully will be wrapping up my 7 year stint in Blacksburg. I told myself I had to leave Blacksburg by the time I was 25 so I wouldn’t be a townie for life. I will be leaving on the night of July 14th… and considering my birthday is the 15th, I’d say that is one closely met goal!

Onward to my new home! (your couch and the great outdoors!)


Campsite Reserved

We officially have sites 61A and 61B in Camp III!

http://www.covecampground.com/covemap.pdf

Can’t wait, it’s gonna be CRAZY!


Give it away, give it away, give it away now

Getting rid of stuff….

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssaammee/sets/72157606064092515/


Get Your Move On

The past two weeks have been CRAZY, and the next two will not let up.

Next Two Weeks…

Thursday(3rd):
-Packed my car this morning (soo full)
-Driving up to Arlington after work
-Unpacking/Cleaning Current room at home

Friday(4th):
-Community Parade in the AM with family
-Going to Stafford to hang out with my Cousin April
-Going to Woodbridge(ish) to Jason’s house for the 4th

Saturday(5th):
-Going to Arlington to Drop off my speakers, mixing board, and Kristen’s car.
-Going out in Baltimore to hang out with Shulsky, Martha and Brett

Sunday(6th):
-Going back to Arlington for Afternoon/Dinner
-Driving back to Blacksburg

Monday(7th):
-Full Day of Work
-Pack up final things and move to Jared’s house for storage
-List things on craigslist or email equivalent

Tuesday(8th):
-Full Day of Work
-Maybe some flying??
-Get rid of said “craiglist” items or dump them

Wednesday(9th):
-Full Day of Work
-Dentist Appointment (Cavities filled)
-Clean out trash and final things from the house
-Super Scrubbing of the house

Thursday(10th):
-Lease ends
-Turn in Keys
-Final cleaning?
-Pack Kristen’s stuff into my car
-Softball Game (tourney begins)
-Sleep at Jared’s

Friday(11th):
-Full Day of Work
-Drive to Greenville, SC to visit Kristen/Help move her in

Saturday(12th):
-Go to her storage unit, load all the stuff into her new place
-Get her place somewhat situated

Sunday(13th):
-Drive Back to Blacksburg
-Pack up my stuff that I left at Jared’s into my car
-Crash at Jared’s

Monday(14th):
-LAST DAY IN BLACKSBURG!! (This trip is really happening!)
-Teleconference/Webex presentation
-Drive to Arlington
-Unpack

Tuesday(15th):
-Full day of work (from Arlington)
-IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!

That weekend… Camping in celebration of 1/4 century of Sam :-)

phew.


Checkride, Check.

I am DONE! Finally, I am a Private Pilot. So relieved! w00t!