Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Christmas Everyone!

In the spirit of the holidays, here are some pictures of the snow in our part of the world earlier in 2006. Scarlet loved licking/eating the snow. :)

A vineyard near the Pinnacles:

A view of the Carmel Mountains from our neighborhood, about three blocks from our house:

Highway 146 on the way out to the Pinnacles (about 10 miles from our house):

Scarlet exploring the snow:

And yes, Brian did throw snowballs at her and she did end up with snow all over herself ;) LOL
We hope everyone has a safe, happy holiday!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The last trip of the year - Panama City Beach Florida

It wasn't as warm as I thought it would be. In fact, it wasn't really warm at all - I ended up wearing pants and a sweater 95% of the time we were there! We had a relatively smooth flight back to Florida and managed to get there on time, with everything and NOT lost! To say that the airport in Panama City Beach is small is an understatement. We knew it was a municipal airport, but holy cow! We landed, went down the stairs on our puddle jumper (it literally had propellers on the wings) and walked straight into the airport. The airport is so tiny it has four gates, one terminal, one check-in counter, one restaurant, one waiting area, one baggage claim, one rental counter, one security check and you could walk from the gate to the baggage claim in about 45 seconds! It also had this really cool sea green and coral colored tile walls - that's right - tile walls - inside and out. Like we stepped back in time to the 1950s.

We drove the hour out to our time share in Destin (near Pensacola) and we ended up with a nice big condo - three bedrooms, two baths, living room, dining room, kitchen, laundry and screened patio overlooking the beach. It was way more than we needed, but nice nonetheless!

We spent the majority of the weekend lazing around our room, shopping and driving back & forth between the time share and the race location in Panama City. As for Brian's race on Saturday, November 4, 2006 - the Florida Ironman - it was a tough one. Lots of competition - I was astounded at the mass start - over 2,000+ people went into the ocean, all at the same time!

It was exciting to watch Brian hit his target times on the swim and the bike, but I could see the exhaustion in him as he finished his bike ride. It worried me, but I hoped he could rough out the marathon. He ended up coming back from his first loop of the marathon walking and decided to end his race there. It was disappointing, but a good learning experience for timing the distance between his races for what he is able to do. Here are a few pics from the race:

In the end, Brian decided to return to the same race next year and focus more time training & less time racing in 2007 - I guess we'll see about that! Despite the outcome of this race, we had an enjoyable weekend in Florida and look forward to returning next year. Hopefully, we'll get better weather next time! :)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Sometimes you just have to get right back on and ride again....

Brian said that as we sat in the airport on Saturday, September 30, 2006. We had to connect through Chicago on our way to Atlanta and both of us were a little wary of going through any ordeals at O'Hare again. Turned out that saying also applied quite well to Brian's race too.

We started off our first day with all of our flights running pretty much on time. There was a small thunderstorm delay in Chicago on our way to Atlanta, which ended up delaying two of our suitcases. Amazingly though, the bike and the smallest suitcase made it. Murphy's law for you I guess! It was really funny in Chicago because we happened to see Brian's bike come off our plane from San Jose and the baggage guy grabbed it by the tag they put on it, which, of course, ripped off the barcode and identifying info. So Brian asks for the camera and proceeds to take pictures. It was hilarious and borderline humiliating all at the same time! He wanted photographic proof to nail the incompetant baggage handlers if it became necessary. Fair enough right?!

The delay in my suitcase meant I had no clothes, so the nice agent at the Avis counter gave me directions to the nearby Target and we went off in search of it. We finally arrived at our timeshare condo after dark and were very pleasantly surprised to find that it was in a beautiful community located on Lake Tara between Villa Rica and Carrolltown, Georgia, about 45 minutes from downtown Atlanta to the south west.

On Sunday we went to Six Flags over Georgia. We rode the best and worst of the US's rollercoasters and had a great time! The best was the Goliath, which we had seen on the Travel Channel being designed and built. It truly is amazing and lots of fun!

The worst was this horrible old wood rollercoaster - thought we were seriously going to be injured on it. I think we're both done with wood roller coasters for good now!

We enjoyed a nice quiet dinner for our anniversary that night.

Monday we headed over to Kennesaw National Park near Marietta, Georgia.

There was an extensive civil war museum, which was very interesting and the park was beautiful. What surprised us was that the landscape still shows the scars of the battles - trees damaged by cannons and gunfire, trenches left in tact. The trenches were amazing - you could easily see all the trenches from the back and sides, but if you went around to the direction the opposing side would be coming at you, the trenches were completely undectible.

We did take a little time to wander around downtown Marietta's antique shops. Loved the townsquare - it was really nice.

Brian treated me to breakfast Tuesday morning at the Flying Biscuit, which I had seen on $40 a day. It lived up to the recommendation and we both enjoyed our meals! We went the Atlanta Botantical Gardens in Piedmont Park, which we really enjoyed.

We took some of our best pictures there.

Here's Brian's best:

Here's mine:

We followed up by going to the World of Coca-Cola Musuem - Brian wanted to drink himself into a caffiene induced stupor :) The musuem was cool - a floor of memorabilia with a old fashioned soda counter, complete with soda jerk. There was also a theater which endlessly looped all the commercials, in order, that Coke has ever had. Needless to say, we skipped that, however, we did recognize the jingle instantly when we walked past the theater! The best (and arguably) worst part was the two taste testing rooms...

Can you tell he's drinking too much caffiene yet?! :) LOL

One room had sodas from the US, the other had sodas from around the world. The bottom line is mixing sodas is not such a good idea. Makes your stomach a little upset ;) Brian was taking full dixie cups of each. I only had my favorites and tried very few of the international. We had done this before at Epcot in Disney World in 2002, but I guess with time we forgot. Well, we won't forget again! The worst was "Bitter Apertif", an Italian soda. Had to drink a gallon of Sprite just to get the taste out of my mouth and I only had a sip - Brian had a whole shot of that stuff! :)

Next up was the Atlanta Zoo. Honestly, it wasn't as good as San Francisco's or even Sacramento's, but we still enjoyed it. There weren't many people, so it was easy to see the animals. The zoo has a brand new baby panda and some really cute baby gorillas, so it was worth the look.

On Wednesday, we went to Stone Mountain, which was really cool.

It is over 1,000 feet tall, with a 5 mile circumference and the exposed granite actually goes about 8 miles underground. The carving in the face of the mountain is actually bigger than Mount Rushmore, if I understood the guide right! :) The carving is of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson (I think). We took the gondola up to the top and visited the Antebellum Plantation on the grounds of the park. The plantation was really cool - they moved many of the buildings there from all over the state of Georgia. The most interesting thing we saw was a toe toaster. It was an iron contraption that toasted bread - when one side was done, they would tap one edge with their toes and it would rotate the bread to the other side - very clever!

We met up with Brian's Aunt Norma and Uncle Buster for lunch, which was a lot of fun. Then we went decided to go race go karts and play mini golf. It was a lot of fun :)

Thursday we checked out of our timeshare and went to the Margaret Mitchell House. It is a really cool museum centered around her life, the writing of Gone with the Wind and the making of the film. The actual house is where she lived with her second husband and wrote Gone with the Wind.

We spent the rest of Thursday and Friday getting ready for Brian's race and visiting with Norma, Buster, Mary (Norma's Mom), Tim, Lynn, Precious and Pumpkin (have to mention the two adorable dogs too!). Chuck, Brian's bike mechanic, arrived on Friday evening and we were ready for the race!

Brian did well (see his story about in the blog) and won his age group! :) He's officially, the 2006 World Solo Champion for the 30 to 34 Age Group. Pretty cool! :)

The support crew for this race....
Me, of course (my attendance is mandatory!)

Chuck, the mechanic

Tim & Lynn - Lynn ended up being Brian's doctor in the middle of the night when his wrists went bad on him from the bumpy, dry track:

Mary & Norma (we didn't get a picture of Norma! I don't know what happened there!)

All in all, we wish we could have stayed a few more days to visit more with our family, but we had a great time! :) In the airport the morning we left, Brian curled up and took a nap behind a pillar - it was quite the spectacle ;)

We had nice flights and naps on our way back and we hope to return to Atlanta visit again sometime soon! :)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

If this is a bad dream can somebody PLEASE just wake me up?!

I was going to post an expanded version, but I think this is just right and the expanded version can live in our photoalbums. ~ Amanda :)


Ahhhh.....the infamous trip to Wisconsin, America's Dairyland. I keep putting off posting this because it makes me think about that trip, something I'd rather not remember! Regardless, here is the post, with a few pictures... and although some of you have already heard some of this in bits n' pieces, here it is nonetheless. To say the least it was an adventure, however, I think that's putting it awfully nicely....

Number of days of trip: 5
Percentage of time spent in airports: 20%
Cancelled flights: 1 (Chicago to Green Bay due to severe weather in both areas)
Missed flights: 1 (flight home by 15 minutes)
# of times running from one end of Chicago O'Hare airport to the other: 1, distance approximately 3/4 of a mile to 1 mile - remember the beginning of the movie Home Alone? Same airport, same running, further distance than actually shown in me.
Delayed baggage: 5 out of 7 bags/bikes/boxes (both UPS and United Airlines on the way to Wisconsin)
# of tornado warnings: 2
# of electrical storms (thunder + lightening): 6+
# of massive meltdowns: 3 (one per traveler - mechanic over 2nd tornado warning, mine over my breakfast being consumed on the last day by someone other than myself and Brian's in O'Hare the 2nd time we got stuck there on our way back)
# of cornfields/cows: too many to count
Pro football players we met: 1 - Cory Rodgers, a rookie wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers
Miles driven: approx. 900
# of times we got lost driving: approx. 20
Places seen aside from race: 2 (1st = Lake Michigan for 5 minutes, until Brian started being eaten alive by biting flies & 2nd = downtown Chicago as I raced to a UPS store to ship our stuff home, aka the reason we missed our flight home)
# of Competitors in Brian's race division (24 Hour Men's Solo National Championship): 26
Place Brian was in at time race was cancelled due to severe weather: 9th
Place Brian would have been in if race had been completed: approx. 4th or 5th
# of 14 mile laps completed: 16.5 - official result count as of 19.5 hour cutoff is 15
# of 14 mile laps he would have completed: approx. 19 or 20
Pro mountain bikers we met: 2 - Nat Ross (super nice guy - really enjoyed talking with him - he took 2nd) and Mark Henderson (really nice guy too - he took 3rd)
# of times Brian ran into a tree in the forest: 2
# of times Brian crashed: 0
# of bananas Brian consumed: approx. 20 in 24 hours
# of gross bagels with mashed potatoes Brian consumed: approx. 8 (byproduct of hotel situation - long story, amazingly disgusting results!)
# of trips to Walmart Supercenters: 3
# of times we saw a nasty meat and/or cheese concoction being prepared and/or consumed: 20+
Interesting related fact: one of the top 10 cardiac centers in the US was 10 miles from the race. Coincidence? Not in my opinion!
# of Cheesehead(s) purchased: 0 :(
Average temperatures: 75 at night, 95 during day with 97% humidity
Items ruined by weather: 1 pair jeans, 1 pair running shoes, 1 corned beef sandwich
# of nice people we met: approx 12 (Cory Rodgers - see above, 1 we gave a ride to on the way up to Green Bay, numerous people at the race, 2 guys on the flight home, one that each of us sat next to - yay for flying stand by!)
Most unusual event: I made a french dip sandwich at a Days Inn using a toaster and coffee maker. Go figure.
Funniest moment: Comment from my brother when we were driving home Monday - there was an accident on Highway 101 South in between the airport and home. We got off the freeway and took side roads, however, Tom described the accident as big rig vs. blue volvo - celery spilled on North and South bound lanes. Tom's comment? "Produce clean up on Aisle 101!" HAHAHA - I paraphrase, but it was a funny end to a very long trip :)

A special thanks to my coworker Anita for being our travel agent and securing a rental car from O'Hare, to my coworker Kaye for her words of support and suggestions on several occasions, to my brother Tom for helping us out of our travel jams on several occasions and to our parents and my sister Katie for all the phone calls/dog sitting/etc this weekend!

Mishicot, Wisconsin

The "bike store" in Green Bay...

Lake Michigan
The Start of the race

Our campsite, before the storm:

Our campsite once the storm really started:

One of the few good pictures from our trip...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Yay for summer!

So we've been otherwise occupied with watching the Tour de France this month...getting ready for our trip...spending quality time with family and friends....watching big brother now that its back on! It has hardly given me a moment's rest, but it's nice to be busy and have things running smoothly. Well smoothly if you don't count the madness at work, the mandatory pre-A race rest and all the other craziness of life this month!

Next week is the big trip to Wisconsin, which we are both excited for! Should be a new adventure! I'm looking forward to checking the place out and cheering on Brian! Wish us luck! I'll be back in about two weeks with my own version of a race report/vacation report!! :)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

My New Obsession

Okay, so I've decided that I LOVE these drinks. I find myself looking for them everywhere:

I first stumbled upon them at Whole Foods in Monterey a few months ago with Brian. Shortly after that I saw them featured in a magazine article (not sure which one), but I'm hooked. Wishing they were easier to find, though I am relieved that Safeway now carries them! Anyway, there's my shameless advertisement for IZZE Sparkling Juices. Just don't blame me if you get addicted too!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Good Eats

Okay, so I'll admit it - I have an unnatural addiction to watching the Food Network. Last night, Brian and I were watching Good Eats with Alton Brown, who is hilarious by the way, and he was dissecting nutritional treats in this episode. Needless to say, we were a captive audience! It was actually kind of funny because we've made "power bars" before and lately, Brian has been experimenting with alternative ways of making rice krispy treats. We're both a little eager to try these three recipes out now and I, personally, was very happy to see Alton Brown explaining to the masses why certain oils and high fructose corn syrup are bad for them! I just made me think of how unaware most people are. I look back and think of how I thought I was doing good, but realize now that most people really, really do not realize the extent of the problem.

Brian and I have this conspiracy theory that the way that our economy is structured contributes to the problem. Think about it, all the big companies like Nabisco or General Mills, their goal is to keep their costs down to get the most for their buck, to keep the shelf life of food long to minimize loss & maximize profits and to keep up the marketing of the products to appeal to the masses. Good example of this is Cheerios. Surely they are healthy right? WRONG. One of the primary ingredients is high fructose corn syrup and they add all kinds of chemicals which are passed off as "vitamins and minerals." Same for Rice Krispies. It's scary really.

Even I'm becoming more astonished at the lengths these companies are willing to go to. Take McDonald's - they were the subject of Morgan Spurlock's movie Super Size Me. Shortly after that movie hit the masses, McDonalds added apple slices and fruit parfaits to the menu and salads - *shocking*, I know - and now they are catering their advertising toward the healthier choices that can be found. On a whim, I used their Bag-a-McMeal interactive tool to determine the nutritional content of something that should be a healthy choice. I chose the Cobb Salad with Grilled Chicken, which should be okay for you, but I'm curious so I also add the Newman's Own Cobb Dressing which, although it's a little high in salt, meets with our higher standards. I also add a small sized ice tea, don't add any sugar, figuring this is the most healthy choice of beverage aside from water for my imaginary lunch. I then hit that little button to get the nutritional content. All I have to say is Holy COW. I should not be surprised yet, I am. The entire meal packs 410 Calories, which is okay, but it contains 20 grams of fat, 31% of the recommended daily value ("RDV"), 11 grams of which are attributed to the salad, 5 grams of which is saturated fats. 150mg of Cholesterol (52% of RDV) *wow* and 1570mg of sodium, 65% of the RDV, 1120 of which is attributed to the salad alone, with no dressing on it. At this point all I'm thinking is: "WHAT?!?!" I notice a little plus sign next to the salad, so I click on it and it reveals an ingredient list for the salad: grilled chicken, salad mix, grape tomatoes, blue cheese crumbles, diced egg, bacon bits and liquid margarine. Liquid Margarine?!?!? Scary part? Nothing but zeros next to that liquid margarine. WOW. I'm guessing that the chicken is grilled and the bacon is cooked with the liquid margarine, but who knows. I, of course, take the moment to click on more details and FINALLY get an ingredient list. Of course, the liquid margarine is TRANSFAT and they've managed to pass that along to you in a salad, not to mention all the preservatives the chicken has in it. Needless to say, the rest of the ingredients seem fine, since it really is hard to make lettuce or tomatoes worse for you. The blue cheese, which naturally has some sodium, is even okay in moderation, however, buyer beware that the Newman's Own dressing has High Fructose Corn Syrup as a main ingredient. But this salad is part of the high salt, high cholesterol problem that fast food restaurants are creating for our country.

Just think, the average person eats out several to multiple times per week on this high salt, high fat, high cholesterol diet. Over time, they slowly gain weight, probably even if they bother to get cardiovascular exercise. Now, think about this, they get sick from time to time, they develop high blood pressure or high cholestorol and require medication for it. Who's paying for that? The answer? We are all paying for it. With our health insurance premiums, our Social Security contributions, our state, local and federal taxes, our donations to the American Heart Association for research. All I have to say is DUH. The answer starts and ends with our mentality that everything needs to be quick, convenient and, most of all, cheap. We are a nation of people who are slowly eating ourselves to death and, slowly, bringing the rest of the world down with us! I'm beginning to wonder if this will be our legacy in world history - Britain and France were the super powers known for colonization and I think we're going to be known as the super power that fed everyone to death.

People, including family members, think Brian and I are fanatic. We are - we're fanatic about filling our body with real food. You'd be amazed at how much better you feel and look. I haven't been sick in the last two years I changed my diet and I have yet to even go to a doctor for a non-routine checkup this year. That speaks volumes in my humble opinion.

Okay, stepping off the soap box for now, but I recommend giving the matter some thought or, at the very least, tuning in to the Food Network to drool over REAL food. We make everything from scratch now - mmmmmm......and we're loving every minute of it!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The sloooooowwwww burn....out.

Okay, so its starting to seem like we're both hitting our mid-year lag right about now. All kinds of parties, weddings, graduations, races, nice weather, longer tired. I know personally that I don't even really feel like I sleep anymore because I wake up and feel like I just closed my eyes! Brian seems to be pretty tired too. Two burned out people = lots of interesting discussions, arguments and more time together than usual! No complaints from me really, but I've developed a new term I think I should trademark - "PRS" instead of "PMS". PRS shall be defined as the months, weeks or days leading up to the next race for my husband. I was joking with Brian today that he had PRS - he's moody, crabby, tired and generally a pain in the _____. But now that I read that statement in black and white, I think that this is a usual state of existence for him. I'm just finding myself trying really hard not to laugh at him mid-meltdown or, some days, I'm fighting the urge not to kick his bike over in the garage! :) So that's my story for the moment...I'm too tired to think anymore for today. I think I'll go lay down and close my eyes and let another day to begin....

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

24 and no, I'm not talking about that TV show

Okay, so 24 Hours has come and passed. The race that is. And granted, it is only the first 24 Hour race of the year, but it has come and gone. Survived it, yes. Happy with results? Not at all. Brian had a tough time this year. There are several hard spots in an endurance event like this and they seem to make or break you for the race. After several weeks of strategizing and figuring out a new game plan for these types of events, Brian decided to test our theories at the 12 Hours of Weaverville event last Saturday.

First and foremost, I must say that Weaverville was beautiful. Reminded me a lot of my hometown Placerville, before it became a suburb of Sacramento. I was most impressed by the local grocery store, Top's Super Foods, which surprisingly catered to our healthy, organic eating lifestyle that is on par with Whole Foods. Go figure right? 300+ miles from the closest airport, an hour from a large city and here you find a haven for healthy lifestyles. I think my problem is going to be convincing Brian not to pack up and move there!

For me, the race was nice, though at times, I found it to be a little cold for my liking. Scarlet fared well and was, as usual, an attention getter. She seemed to like playing in the muddy grass best and took to running up to rather large dogs in hopes that they would play with her. All in all, the people were really nice and I was happy I got to read an entire book, two magazines and I learned how to clean & grease Brian's chain for him. It was relaxing and I'd happily return to any races that Brian wants to go to there. Here are some pictures of our day:

The race ended up quite well for Brian - he finished the race strong, well nourished and ready to train the next day! He received first place in his category of Expert, finishing ten laps in 12 hours and he was second overall by mere minutes to a two-man team with the same number of laps. Quite impressive to me, especially considering he's training hard, he didn't taper and he's never been riding in that area before!

Now that he's redeemed himself and gotten down his endurance race strategy, I feel more confident that he'll see some success in his remaining two 24 Hour events this year in Wisconsin and Georgia. I am definitely looking forward to more racing, more reading and more travel!

Before I depart this time, I would like to tell our funny story from the weekend. Usually, you put the two of us in a car together for a long time and something entertaining happens. Well this weekend was no exception. For the first time since we met, Brian got pulled over by the Highway Patrol. This time, even I didn't see him coming! We were rushing through Weaverville looking for Trinity High School the night before the race, trying to pick up his race packet. Well, of course, we were going 45 in a 30 mph zone. Oops. Brian was apologetic and was fortunate to get a nice officer who let him go with a warning. My two cents? I think the cute little puppy wagging her tail was what got him off! ;) We laughed about it and let out a collective sigh of relief. Of course, Brian promptly sped all the way back home from the race! I'm convinced that he's lucky - maybe I should get him to buy some lottery tickets........


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