Pennsylvania Avenue   1 comment

Have you ever stepped foot inside the Oval Office?  Well, I just did…more on that later.

More importantly, last weekend the wife was set to run in the 39th Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C., with a set goal of finishing in under 4 hours.  She ran the NYC marathon a couple years ago in 4:19.  So under four hours this time would be a lofty,but achievable, goal.  She has been training very hard.

Here she comes now to the start of the race…

No wait, here she is at the start….

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We needed her to finish pretty much in under 4 hours anyway, lofty goal or otherwise, cuz we had a date at the White House very soon after her 4 hour finish time.  Thankfully our hotel was right across the street…

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Things looked good as I tracked her progress online…here she goes with less than a mile to go…

As you can see below…or even if you can’t see, she finished in 3:43…that’s three hours and forty three minutes…a little bit faster than four hours.   🙂

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So her race was finished…and the Marine Corps Band played on…

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We took this picture, showcasing her “FLAVOR FLAV” finishers medal, then hustled to a cab so we could race back to our hotel a few miles away.

There are, to my knowledge, two types of tours at the White House.  The general tour, open to the public, that shows you the East Wing, that includes the East Room, the Blue Room, the China Room, and the State Dining Room.  Then there is the West Wing tour, that is not open to the public.  You need to know a White House staffer willing to take you on the tour of the West Wing themselves, on their time off.  This tour includes the Cabinet Room, the Roosevelt Room, the Mess Hall, the Rose Garden, the Press Room, and of course, the Oval Office.

For future reference, I do not plan on being the one asking the questions…I plan on being the one answering them.

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The above is the White House Press Briefing Room, she looks pretty good for having just finished her fastest marathon EVER…and below is the entrance to the West Wing.

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There are no pictures allowed in or near the Oval Office…and although I appreciate a good risqué shot here or there, I was not about to risk my freedom or my life for such a picture.  You will just have to trust me that the room is indeed oval in shape, that’s not just a rumor, and it is bright and beautiful.

We then took a trip to the top of the Washington Monument…and on our way there we came across this guy…

Then while at the top, took this shot…can you make out the face in the dirt?  Some artist took it upon himself to draw a face in the biggest sandbox I’ve ever seen…

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And because the President knows how much of a chocoholic I am…I got these two parting gifts from our tour of the West Wing…can’t buy these at Shoprite…

mms

Posted November 2, 2014 by mayday76 in Uncategorized

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Leaf Peeping   1 comment

This weekend I was invited to an annual dinner of a fraternal organization I was a member of for many years.  We all volunteered our lives for our fellow neighbors together.  I had not been to one of these annual dinners in many years.  I had moved out of town, and was not active with this organization in some time.  So seeing some of these brothers in arms for the first time in years was going to be fun for me.

I wasn’t at the event for more than 5 minutes before the shocked reactions of some of my long time compatriots started rolling in.  I say shock because my appearance has changed a little over the years since I’d moved away.  I’d like to think for the better.  I was paid two compliments a few minutes apart.  Let me know if these two phrases are compliments or not: “Holy Shit (enter my name here)! What do you weigh, ten pounds?!?”  Next: “Holy Shit (enter my name here)! I thought you would have died of liver cancer years ago!?!”

I laughed at both.  And took both as a compliment, as I indeed am trying to get my weight down (not to ten pounds, but close), and am trying to avoid liver cancer altogether.

The night was great for me.  Not a lot has changed with this group.  I could easily move back, rejoin my crew, and not much would be different.  One difference however, I was not invited as a former member of the organization, but as a “Dignitary’s Aide,” whatever that is.  It more or less meant I am moving up in the world, or so I like to think.

Anyway, back to my neighbor’s barking dogs.  I am at a crossroads.  I am trying to get myself on a ballot in 2015.  If I raise too much noise over her dogs, it could backfire, or at least impede, on my attempt at garnering votes from these fine folks I call neighbors.  I was a dog owner here, and my dog barked.  I like to think she barked a lot.  And she had a nice big loud deep bark, like the kind of bark you hear, and think to yourself, I hope that dog is chained up or behind a big wall…

So I guess I should cut my neighbor some slack…maybe she will vote for me.  Doubtful though, we have already voiced our differences to each other over the years, let’s just say we don’t invite one another over for tea, ever.

So I just got back from a 40 mile bike ride where I almost got left behind because I don’t weigh ten pounds like all the other riders do.  One can hope.

Posted October 12, 2014 by mayday76 in Uncategorized

Paris…a City to Love   Leave a comment

Okay, so I ripped that line from a movie…sorta (more on that later).  But here’s the deal.  My butt is killing me, I’m home alone, I’m super fidgety, and I’m home alone.  I already said that.  I woke up this morning at 5:30 to drive 2 hours into the sticks of Connecticut to race my bike 44 miles, and in those 44 miles, climb 4000 feet.  Not 40, or 400.  Four thousand feet of climbing.  To be honest…I have climbed 13,000 feet in one ride…that was Italy two years ago, and I was young and, well, young then.  Italy was also not a race…at least not for me…some of the 7000 other riders were racing, I was just happy to finish.  But back to today’s event.  Last time I raced was last year, and it was an 80 mile race.  6000 feet of climbing.  I got to mile 72 before someone crashed in front of me at 30MPH, and I had nowhere to go but onto the pavement.  This year I was so nervous about crashing that I almost didn’t go this morning.  I was all nerves.  I stayed in the front of the race for most of the time.  Me and 50 other guys.  We got to the last 2 miles of the race….all up hill, and steep.  That is why my butt is killing me.  I cramped, and did not finish well.  But all the adrenaline of racing is why I am typing now.  There was a crash, I saw it…two guys went down.  I managed to avoid it.  I hope they are okay.  There were times on the downhill sections we were going 50MPH…I hoped for the best, because at that speed you have zero ability to avoid a crash if it happens.

Did I tell you I was hit by a truck last month?  Or rather, in June.  I was riding in my weekly group ride with about 20 other riders, and an angry truck driver (aren’t they all angry?) came by too close to us, and I got hit by his trailer.  I was okay, bruises and whatnot.  But my bike was wrecked.  His insurance is supposed to replace it, soon I hope.

Soon after I got mauled by a truck, the wife and I went to Paris.  Never been to France.  But wow.  We even got lie flat seats for the trip across the pond.  Wow again.  We have never spent so much on food ever, but it was worth every yo-yo…or is it euro?  We enjoyed many amuse bouche’s.  Another thing happened while we were there, The Tour de France was coming through town…or rather, it was finishing in Paris while we were going to be there.  So much fun.  I know it seems like here is where I would write all about our trip, but I am still in pain from today’s race and cannot think straight.  I will leave you with a picture of the car I drove in Paris…

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Posted August 10, 2014 by mayday76 in Uncategorized

Sunday not so funday.   1 comment

It’s been way too long.  I guess I just haven’t felt there was much to say.  Or I am too lazy to sign onto this website and type.  I think it’s a bit of both.  I know for me, I always feel better after writing, and so I guess that’s why I am posting now, cuz I feel like I need to feel a bit better.

Today I was part of an event in my adopted City.  It’s called a bicycle race.  I race bikes, I win bike races, I crash bikes, I’ve done it all.  But right now, I quite literally can’t walk.  I’ve been on my feet for 18 hours today, helping to put on a race of over 400 cyclists in a very short span.  Set-up, breakdown, and everything in between.  The race was a charity event, all proceeds going to a very worthy cause, the NCADD.  You can google it if you don’t know.

So I was lying in bed while the wife works on a Sunday, which is total BS to begin with, but the fringe benefits are okay (glances at his horse bit loafers, smiles).  Anyway, my hamstring muscle had just cramped for the umpteenth time, and I was in such pain, I had to get up out of bed, and hobble to the den, put my weary legs up, and turn on one of my favorite movies that my wife hates, and I can only watch while she is not here…National Treasure!

I am sitting here also waiting for the 10 O’clock local news to come on, as I have been emailing the news anchor the footage of today’s race, and she promised to air it tonight.  She better spell my name right.

But I am still down.  Even after helping to raise thousands of dollars today, and raising awareness for a good cause, and bringing local politicians and news outlets to the city, I was and am still not feeling okay.    I have a friend, a dear friend, who just lost her father.  Her mother is already in heaven, with my mom (whose Birthday was yesterday – Go Geminis!), and now her father joins them.  It’s terribly sad.  On so many levels.  There is so little friends can do for one another when we lose our parents.  I can pray for her and her family, of course, and I have,  and continue to do so.  I can pay my respects, which I plan to do as well.  But beyond that, I just wish there was more I could do.

This happens to be at a time while my own father sits in a hospital bed in NYC.  He had hip replacement surgery early this week, it was successful, but he is not well.  I am certainly in no condition to see him tonight.  I also wish he were in better health.  I spoke with him earlier today.  He knew who I was, but didn’t know where he was.  He thought he was home.  I need to appreciate what I have more than I do.  I am sure I am not alone in this feeling, we could probably all appreciate more.  But I have a blog where I can say things like this…do you?  🙂

So, in another 15 minutes, I better see my race on the news, and if not…well…let’s hope we don’t have to go there.

To my friend, my thoughts and prayers are what I offer you now, and a hug, soon.

 

Posted June 8, 2014 by mayday76 in Uncategorized

Snow Birds   Leave a comment

You may or may not know, but here it is anyway: I am afraid of flying.  There, I said it.  So when we boarded our plane two weeks ago for warmer parts of the world, and we were all seated and the doors were “armed,” and we didn’t go anywhere, I assumed the worst.  Finally, my fears were confirmed: over the PA we were told there was a “mechanical issue.”  Further explanation was to follow, and it wasn’t pleasing.  There was a “dent” found on the “horizontal stabilizer” and it was currently being “examined.”  So with that announcement, I took to google to find out what a horizontal stabilizer was…I mean, was it a little itty bitty part, or was it something more substantial.  Let’s just say you don’t want any dents in your horizontal stabilizer.  It’s less a horizontal stabilizer and more of a TAIL WING.  The pilot man came back to the PA system and reported that the dent was “small” and that he had bigger “dents” in his car…his words, not mine.  So then he said he had no problem taking this plane to St. Thomas.  Well I’m glad for him not having a problem flying a potential death tube with dents but maybe this guy has a death wish, what about the rest of us back here?  Should we poll the audience?  With that, we took off.

We landed just fine, quite smoothly in fact. Then it was time for a few days of relaxation.

Driving on the wrong side of the road has never been a dream of mine, though I will admit I’ve driven on the wrong side of the road in the past…but those days are way, way over for me. So I had to learn how to drive on the wrong side of the road all over again, sober and legally this time. Saint Thomas folk drive on the left.  Take note how we listen to the local island music while driving.

We visited many sights, saw lots of fishes and creatures under the sea.  I have 70+ video clips with my super go pro.  Here’s one now:

Between you and me, I was taking the Wife to multiple snorkel locations…sure, to enjoy snorkeling, but I had other motives.  One location in particular on St. John was known to have Nurse and Reef sharks frequent the area…I was hopeful.  I also did not share this info with her.  She is not with me right now to preview my post here, and will therefore be learning this info along with all of you, let’s see how happy that makes her.  The sharks in question are harmless, at least from what I read.  After a couple hours, there were no shark sightings at this one particular reef, but I did see this guy:

We took another day trip off St. Thomas via high speed ferry to visit Tortola, pronounced Tor-Toe-La.  Here is Tortola:

So being part of a British colony and not part of a country that has an embargo against all things Cuba, I was able to peruse some cigars on Tortola, purportedly made in Cuba, and considering the price, better have been made in Cuba.  The wife was not keen on my being detained in a foreign land over tobacco products.  But with my powers of persuasion, and puppy dog eyes, I was able to make my purchases with her tacit approval, and stuff them into my cargo shorts, worn specifically for the task of smuggling contraband.  On the way back to the ferry, we had to go through Tortola’s version of Customs, where I perjured myself on paper, then tip-toed through a metal detector that I am not entirely sure was working, as I wore my metal wrist watch while walking through, pockets stuffed to the gills with Cohibas, Partagas, and Punch, and not a peep was made by this “metal” detector.  What was that machine there for then anyway?  A prop?

So, with part one, of a three part adventure in smuggling completed, we got back to St Thomas proper, a U.S. territory, and disembarked the ferry, for part two.  This time it wasn’t Tortola’s version of Customs, it was U.S. Homeland Security.  Bag scanners, trained examiners, and some serious looking folks, asking why we just spent 5 hours in a foreign country…um, sightseeing??  Riiiighhht.

At this point, I was slightly more concerned about my near future.  I was all smiles with the first Homeland Security man, who looked at the passports and asked us about the weather in NY, and then sent us on our way.  But then there was the bag scanner.  See, after Tortola, I thought I should move my stash from my cargo shorts pockets to my backpack.  But not everything, I evenly split my booty between my shorts and the backpack.  But now I was asked to put my bag on the conveyer belt…I held my breath, made another NY weather joke with the next Homeland security agent, and waited.  Nothing. All clear.  We exited the building, home free…until the airport in a few more days.

It was then off to movie night on Water Island.  Every Monday night, locals and tourists in the “know” board a tiny boat for the 5 minute trip to this barely inhabited Island right next door to St Thomas.  People from all walks go to this, young and old alike, carrying puppies, coolers, arriving in golf carts (the only form of vehicle on the island).  Tonights feature, projected onto a sheet strung between two coconut trees, was Last Vegas.  A crowd of about 75 filled the plastic chairs and beach towels on the sand.

We got front row.  There was a snack cart, serving $4 Coronas, and $5 cheeseburgers, along with popcorn and water.  They played an episode of Tom and Jerry to get the crowd in the mood shortly after sunset.

And here is a shot of the sunset.

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We went one night to a restaurant that came highly recommended…it also came with a recommendation for reservations well in advance, but who has that kind of time?  We didn’t.  So when we arrived with no reservation, we were whisked into the wine bar and told to sit still and wait…with this guy:

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His name is Morris…and he has been waiting there for 12 years.  Do you turn into a cat if you wait for a table for 12 years?  We weren’t about to find out.  So we left.  Hungry.

We managed to eat dinner back at our hotel, where our waiters, who doubled as front desk staff during the day, regaled us with their personal stories of how they ended up on this beautiful island.  “Well, I just graduated college, and had nothing better to do.  I mean, I could have gone into finance like a lot of my friends back in D.C., but I thought I would live a little first, I mean, I am only 24.”  Indeed.

When it was time to say goodbye, I had more dread than when it was time to say hello, as not only am I now worrying whether our plane out of here has any new “dents” in the tail wing, I am also beginning to think of the real deal security at a real airport with real TSA people all over.  I perjured myself on paper one last time…made it through US Customs A.O.K.  This time, I went with packing ALL of my cuban product, including Cuban Coffee, into one backpack, along with a few other small items.   I went through the metal detector as my carry on bags went through the bag scanner.  As I was putting my shoes back on, I heard it.  “Bag Check.”  I stood up to look at the conveyer belt, and the TSA agent had stopped the conveyer belt and pulled my backpack aside.  The look on the Wife’s face, who was standing next to me, probably matched the look on mine.  Horror.  A supervisor was called over.  I was asked if the backpack was mine, I had to say yes.  The two of them looked at the screen for a bit.  All the while, I was told to stop in my tracks.  Do not move.  No one was going anywhere in the now large line behind me.  The two TSA agents then walked me over to a seperate table, where the ubiquitous “detection” wand was brought out, a clean swab attached, and my backpack thouroughly rubbed inside and out for any troubling chemical residue.  At least I knew I would pass THAT test.  Then I got the TSA speech, do I have your permission to open this bag?  Are there any sharp objects or items that could cause injury?  When I take an item out, you are NOT to reach for it.  These statements went on for a bit.  I was like, just open the damn bag, and take my cigars, will you already?  The very first item she removed was a ziplock bag, containing about 6 Cuban cigars, worth over $150.  Goodbye Cubans, nice knowing you.  But wait, what’s this?  She simply removed the ziplock, and just like the first, removed the other 3 ziplocks, nary a question about the contents.  I was befuddled.  What then was she looking for?  She next pulled out my toiletry kit, where I smartly packed my cigar cutter…fine, have it lady.  Nope, not that either.  Finally, she pulled out one last ziplock, containing my powdered Gatorade (never leave home without it).  The look on HER face at this point was pretty classic.  She had no idea what this was.  I had a little plastic scooper inside the ziplock to boot, just to throw her off a bit.  She asked, I answered: powdered Gatorade ma’am.  Not to be believed, she then called over another agent, and they reviewed the scanner images again, consulted with eachother, and then she re-packed my bag, cigars and all, and I was on my way, with my Gatorade.

I tell ya, it does not pay to smuggle.

Posted February 23, 2014 by mayday76 in Uncategorized

If you build it…   Leave a comment

Could you believe I came across a real live petting zoo right there on Mamaroneck Ave yesterday?  There I was minding my own business, cycling along just trying to wrap up a year’s worth of cycling and hitting my 5,000 mile mark for 2013 (mission accomplished), when all of a sudden I see a van parked in front of a flower shop.  This was no ordinary sketchy white windowless van you warn your kids to stay away from…this van held precious, Noah’s Ark-esque cargo…in fact, the name on the van was Two-By-Two Party rentals, meaning, the animals, two by two, just like the ark.

I am cursing myself for not snapping action shots of the minimum wage high school age employees unloading this precious cargo from the rear of the 2×2 van, but there were snakes, two tiny midget goats, a hamster/rat, an alligator, a tortoise, an overfed bunny rabbit, and….drum roll….a Wallaby.  It was cute, hip hopping around like a circus clown.

So my fortuitous bike ride was more than just a jaunt on an unusually warm winter day, it was to reach my goal of riding 5,000 miles this year, and on top of that, and certainly more importantly, to celebrate my sixth (6th) wedding anniversary.  Now some of you may remember last week’s post about my anniversary of meeting my then-elusive wife, but that was just an anniversary of meeting her, now we have this whole day of our wedding anniversary…and those of you that know us even a little bit, may know that we have another anniversary in September, cuz we did this whole thing twice.  BTW, my wife is convinced we have not known each other for nine years.  She is just in denial.  It will pass.

Posted December 23, 2013 by mayday76 in Uncategorized

Sherwood’s   3 comments

Well, it was nine years ago today when a girl walked into a bar at 2am and found me standing behind it.  Mind you, I was not “the bartender”, that person, my brother, was sitting on the receiving end of the bar, an otherwise empty local haunt.  It was late on a Saturday night, or early on a Sunday morning, however you look at it.  I can’t recall why I was alone that night, or at that hour…maybe I can recall, and just don’t want to share exactly why.  My mom and dad taught us from a young age that nothing good happens after midnight…well, this time, and maybe the only time, they were wrong.

Three girls came looking for a good time, a crowded bar, and found their way to Sherwood’s instead.  My brother, upon seeing them enter, told me in a not so hushed voice, “tell these nannys they get one round, then we are closed.”  Welcome to Sherwood’s, what’ll it be?  Oh, and this is your last drink you nannys.  It was not every night in this one horse town you see three very attractive (one, particularly good looking), apparently single girls out at 2am, no less at Sherwood’s, so the assumption was they were lost, or nannys, or both.  Speak English?  No?  Even better.

After fumbling with money and not knowing where the Bud Lights were kept in which cooler, the jig was up, and it was clear I wasn’t the bartender…or I was, and just forgot how to use the register all of a sudden.  Anyway, my brother kept his word, it was one round for everyone, and then time to leave.  But not before I shared a little secret with my new nanny friends (none of them were nannies, they all had real jobs, which was more than I could say for myself at the time).  The secret I was going to share was that I knew a “late night” place we could go, where the bartender would surely serve us more than one round before kicking us out.  Enter the “Cellar Bar.”

Maybe it was a mistake, maybe it was meant to be.  But taking 3 first timers to the Cellar Bar is risky…you never know who you might see there…or what might happen.  That can be a good thing too though.  I have, at various times, not been allowed into the Cellar…for short “time outs.”  This week, however, I was good to go.  After parking our cars, (driving to/from Cellar Bar is not endorsed on this blog), we all went in for a few.  The one girl I had my eye on was playing hard to get.  Meaning, she wouldn’t really talk to me.  I had to talk to her friend, who would then talk to her.  It was an involved process.

Before the night drew to an end, I was determined to get this girls digits.  However, she was equally determined not to give them to me.  So, I did what any gentleman would do, I got her other friend to give me her number.  Voila.  I promised to call the next day, so we could go on a “proper” date…a movie.  What movie?  Why, Spanglish, of course.  At least the horrible movie was not an indicator of our future together…right?

Alas, nine years ago, I met a girl who would make me who I am today.  Someone who has stuck by me, good times and bad.  Quite literally.  I love her today, and everyday.

Posted December 18, 2013 by mayday76 in Uncategorized