Category Archives: In the works

Another Trip. Another Beer. Another Stamp. Part 1

Just what the title of this post implies, Kit and I went on our 9th trip so far this year. The destinations this time? The beautiful and lush landscapes of Cleveland, Ohio and Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. Maybe Cleveland wasn’t as beautiful or as lush as Bora Bora, but maybe just as interesting.

I didn’t actually accomplish any list items during the trip per se. What I did do though is work closer to my goals of filling up my passport and having a beer in every state. And both places are interesting enough to merit their own postings. So, here is part 1. My travel guide to Cleveland.

Cleveland ROCKS!!!!… Kinda.


Driving through Pennsylvania on a major highway is a test of one’s ability to cope with an insane amount of utter boredom. The scenery, rest stops and almost endless amounts of exits defy all that is great about road trips. Go ahead and picture yourself and your closest friends out on the open road, listening to great music, the wind in your hair. Picture the endless fun you and your friends are having on this road trip.

I can almost guarantee interstate 80 was not part of your idea about what a fun road trip is. But it’s not interstate 80’s fault. It’s not even the good people of Pennsylvania’s fault. It’s not even your fault. I blame the monotonous drive on truckers. Maybe not truckers so much, but the corporations that need trucks and roads to get products quickly to other places.

Kit and I spent the entire trip out to Ohio looking for the worlds’ largest ball of twine, or the worlds’ largest ham sandwich. Or any other horrible roadside tourist trap. But, they don’t exist on I-80. Nothing but Pilot truck stops or nothingness that is rural Pennsylvania. Our dreams of experiencing the wonder that is a piece of toast with the image of Jesus next to the petrified forest will have to wait til the next road trip.

Arriving in Ohio was nothing short of exhilarating compared to Pennsylvania. A whole new world, a new fantastic point of view. Even though at first glance it looks remarkably similar to Pennsylvania’s landscape, Ohio has a 65 mph speed limit and encourages slower traffic to get the hell out-of-the-way of faster and more manly speeding cars.

After 11 hours of driving and a few close calls of running out of gas trying to find a rural towns one and only gas station (BTW Newton Falls, Ohio is a nice town. Build another gas station please. One that is not 13 miles away from the highway. Thank you, Danny.) we arrived safely and exhausted in Cleveland’s downtown district only to find out the Cleveland Indians had just finished a game and had told all of their fans in attendance to leave at the same time as we were driving down Prospect street. Thank you very much members of the tribe! That’s why Jack Parkman was happy when he was traded to the White Sox.*

I know many of you are wondering what exactly is there to do in The Cleve. Well, according to tripadvisor.com, aside from visiting a museum or taking a small tour around the city not much. Well, not much compared to other big city like Sandusky, or Kalamazoo. But, a glimmer of hope is found when you learn that the same house that was used in the filming of  “A Christmas Story” still exist and is in fact a museum in present day Cleveland. So, that’s what we did. We went on a tour of the Christmas Story house.

And by pure luck, we visited the same time Ian Petrella was on hand to answer all of our Christmas story questions. (I know, I had no idea who Ian Petrella was either. He played Randy in the film. I would have much rather have met Ralphie, but an out of work actor gotta eat right? The highlight of the tour for me was about half way through “Randy’s” speech about working on the set of A Christmas story an elderly women stood up said,”ok, that’s enough” and walked away. The look on “Randy’s ” face was priceless, the look on the rest of tour groups face was even better and the look of embarrassment on the faces of the family members she was with was über-priceless.

The tour is definitely worth it. It’s cheaper than the Rock and Roll Hall of fame, which is a rip-off and visiting the house in the morning and then spending your afternoon in the Great Lakes science center is a fun-filled day for the entire family.

What I wanted to know about Cleveland was what’s the drinking scene like? Is it boring? Is it awesome? Will I meet some celebrity? What will the discoteca be like? Creepy? sleazy? Babe-o-licious?

Yes.

The drinking scene in The Cleve is a lot like the drinking scene around most of the country and maybe the world. It is what you make it out to be. If you like your drinks served in a dark neighborhood bar where no one is going to bother you, The Map room is the place for you. If you are a 20 something year old Romanian club rat and enjoy getting hit on by men 3 times your age wearing 6 times more perfume than yourself, The Velvet Dog is your oasis.

Kit and I partook in both scene. It’s worth it to step out of your own comfort zone every once and awhile even if it’s for some quick people watching in the latter bar.

This was my attempt at recreating a school portrait shot.

Highlights of the trip:

Christmas story house.

Meeting Greg Proops (Very nice guy, even after me badgering him for 20 minutes to admit/agree that Drew Carey ruined “Who’s Line is it Anyway”)**

Watching no less than 15 guys take turns hitting on the same 2 girls seated next to us in The velvet dog.

Meeting a few new friends out on the road. (Ola we promise we will send you the pictures of yourself and Greg. Luke I promise I will mail you the rugby shirt I stole.)

So, Cleveland might not rock as hard as some may thing, and the heart of rock and roll might not be beating as strongly as Huey Lewis might like you to think, but for all its worth, Cleveland is a chill city with some down to earth party people. Worth the trip.

*It’s a Major league 2 reference. Sadly that movie and all its baseball players are all I can tell you about a Cleveland sports team.

** Greg is too nice of a guy to even admit Wayne Brady sucks.

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A certain percentage completed! (Math is hard)

I feel pretty accomplished so far this year. I completed 7 items and I am well on my way to complete about 4 more by the end of the year.

Open a champagne bottle with a knife: Only a matter of buying a champagne bottle and renting a tuxedo and throwing a little back yard formal. (Kit won’t let me saber the bottle in the house, I don’t know why?)

Go to Wing Nite every night for a week: Just trying to line up a wing nite every night. Got a spot for most of the week. This should be really easy once college football starts again. Also, I’m looking for Wingmen. Jon, my buddy from “Run A 5k” agreed to help me with this. But, I’m concerned that his wife, after the first two night of him coming home bloated and beyond gas-sy, will bench him for the sake of their marriage.

Skydive: All I need to do is book it (read: all I need to do is get the BALLS to book it.) If I do happen to get this done this year, it would probably make 2010 the most adventurous/dangerous year I have ever had in my life.

Drink Kava: Kit’s Mother was kind enough to bring back some of this potent depressant from Hawaii a few months back for me. You can read all about Kava here.

As with anything in life I think it is just a matter of getting off your ass and getting it done. There will be more completed this year, I promise that.

Just to make it harder though, A few more things I need to add to the list. For the full list click here.

Drive the Rubicon Trail

Take a Wilderness Survival Class

Visit Buxton, Maine and find the Stone wall (A prize to you, if you get the reference)

Go to Zihuatanejo, MX

Complete my Spy training and attend an Urban Survival and Evasion Class

Drive the Road to Hana (Must be in a Jeep)

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Bodies In the sand…

Visit all the places mentioned in the Beach Boy’s “Kokomo” 4 of 8

Aruba

The latest trip found Kit, Duck and myself on two of the three ABC islands. Aruba and Curaçao. Curaçao will be getting its own post shortly since visiting it was a stand-alone item on the list. I’m actually having a hard time writing about Aruba, not for lack of trying or for not enjoying myself while I was on the island, It’s just, I’m not sure what to write about. The perfect weather? Iguanas stealing food? Swimming in the crystal clear waters? The egyptian cotton like sand? I guess I just wrote about it all.

One thing I could write about Aruba is how accessible the island and the culture is. Which in my opinion is a double edge sword for the people of Aruba and it’s culture. Let me explain.

When one is looking for a vacation destination that is completely non-commercialized, non-americanized or remote. Aruba is not your place. If however, if one seeks after a 5 hour flight to find the same McDonald’s next to the same Senor frogs across from one of a dozen well-known resorts, then yes, Aruba might be your place.

Don’t get me wrong I love a good ol’ sloppy Big mac and a yard stick filled with a tropical drink like any other American tourist… sometimes. I get disappointed when I see an American chain on island after island that we visit. On one hand, tourism being the major income on the island, appeasing the masses might sound like the smart thing to do. But, when does it become detrimental to the island’s culture? After the 2nd or 10th hotel chain?

Nonetheless, you can’t  discount how transparently blue the water is, or how incredibly soft the sand on the beaches feel, or how orange the sunset becomes and lets not forget how good the constant cooling winds are. You can’t take any of that from Aruba. No matter how many Senor Frogs get erected up instead of real local restaurants.

Enough of my preaching, here are some of the pictures. I only have 4 more places to visit before I can complete this list item. Regardless of my feelings towards commercialism, I am having a wonderful time completing this item.

Mr. Starfish hanging out at Eagle Beach.

Fun Fact: Aruba is a desert Island, with on average 16 inches of rain a year. Next time someone asks  if you would like to be stranded on a desert island, You should probably opt for a Tropical/Rainforest-y type island instead.

Trekking to one of the “beaches” on the remote North coast of Aruba.

The natural Pool.

Stacking rocks is a way of saying “We were here” without using graffiti.

No caption needed.

Defying gravity at the natural Bridge.

You can’t say “Life sucks”, when this is your view.

And if you forgot how the song goes, or you need a little inspiration as you sit at work…

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Whoa, it’s been awhile…

I haven’t realized how long it’s been and how much has happened since the last time I posted. Quick update, I have two more items completed and they will be posted shortly. I have three items that will be completed in the next two weeks when we go away. That will be another post entirely. For now here are a few items that were added to the list…

Live above a bar.

Own a Jeep Wrangler.

Own a mug in a bar, or stool.

Run from an explosion and then jump out-of-the-way at the last possible moment.

Spend an entire week eating all you can eat wings and beer at a bar.

The last one is special so you need to click Here to see it.


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Red Wine and Death

Sometimes when someone dies and they have red wine in their stomachs, when their heart stops, they are likely to vomit. When the red wine comes up it looks like a dark strawberry smoothie complete with fruit chunks and a very distinct smell.

Last night my fire company got an ambulance call for an unconscious male. When we arrived we found a 75-year-old man laying in bed in cardiac arrest. When I attempted to intubate him, his body decided to unleash the slurry of red wine from his stomach.

With the amount of red wine coming from this man stomach, it was impossible for me to intubate him. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital after continued unsuccessful attempts to resuscitate him.

The last thing he did before he died was drink some red wine with dinner and go to bed. I know nothing else about him. I don’t know what he did for a living, how many children he had or if he was a fan of baseball. All I know is that he had drunk some red wine.

I hope he was a happy man.  Or, at least I hope he tried to live a happy life. A life filled with great memories of things he has done. I hope he was able to do the things he really wanted to in life.

Those are the same thoughts I had when my father died. I hoped he had lived a happy life, and he was able to do everything he wanted to with his life. Unfortunately, I know that a lot of his dreams were left unfulfilled.

My father always wanted to be a doctor, he was a very good mechanic instead. A doctor for cars I guess, but not exactly the same thing. I know that there were a lot of other things that he wanted to do also but the responsibility of earning a living and providing for family got in the way.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely appreciate all the sacrifices my father made for me and my family, but I still can’t help but feel guilty for all the excuses he made for not pursuing his life’s dreams. What would he have done if he lived longer than a day after his 50th birthday? Would he have studied medicine at night before he went to bed to earn his MD? Most likely not. He would have kept going to work well past his retirement age, at a job he didn’t necessarily hate, but one he did not love. He would have still been quoting his favorite expression, “life sucks.” Even if he had lived till the age of 200, knowing him, he wouldn’t have even tried to make his life into what he truly wanted. I do believe he was happy to have a family that loved him, and that he was very happy with how his family had turned out thanks to his parenting, but I knew deep down there was more that he wanted.

I would love to think that maybe eventually he would followed his dreams, maybe not become a doctor but some other dream. But, I know he wouldn’t have. His family came first, making sure we had a roof over our heads and food in our stomachs was his number 1 responsibility. Even after we all moved on with our own lives that would still be his top priority. But, what if he would have pursued his dreams? Would he have been happier when he died?

A few months back I had a pretty cool experience at work. I was able to save an elderly woman’s life when she choked on her lunch. All the training and the great work of my crew came together at that moment and we were able to give that woman a second shot at life. Too bad, she was well in her 90s, lived alone at a disgusting nursing home and was in advance stages of Dementia. If I had been given the choice who would I rather have saved, her, or the 2-year-old I wasn’t able to bring back, I would have chosen the child be given the second chance. But, we don’t get those choices.

A week later I got called to the same nursing home. When I walked into the room, the elderly women was sitting in her favorite chair smiling at me. I know she was not smiling at me because she remembers me as the man who saved her life, she was just smiling because at that moment she was happy. And some times you just have to be happy with those small victories. Maybe, she was smiling cause she can remember being younger and living her life to the fullest possible extent?

All the bad memories of lives I couldn’t help made pursuing my list more important to me. I want to be able to look back on my life and with all honesty say that yes, I am happy with how it all turned out. I want to be able to say, I did all those things, rather than recite all the excuses I made for not at least trying the things  I wanted to do. It’s a lot easier to make excuses, I want to make memories.

What will you be able to say? Will you look back and say, “Life sucks?” Did you take full advantage of all the opportunities life gave you to be happy? Did you just make excuses? I can’t stress enough, you only get one chance at this life, make it a life worth living. Dance, love, make yourself uncomfortable some times. Whatever it is that makes you happy just go for it.

And, when your number does get called up, just take it easy on the red wine, your medics will thank you.

Thank you Papi.

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You Choose my Call Sign!

Here is the poll

I will keep it open until I go for my first lesson. Most votes win, you can also suggest one that’s not on the list…


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I need a call sign…

It’s official, I am starting my pilot lessons at the end of April. Thanks to a fellow firefighter in my house, my lessons are going to start when he comes back from work.

First thing first, is getting myself a call sign. I need ideas… leave them in the comments.

Also, Kit has finally started Duck’s blog

Click the link to be directed to the site, make sure you subscribe also, Duck has been on tons of adventures and he has a lot of travel planned for the next year.

travelingduck.wordpress.com

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