Monday, June 30, 2008

No Wind

Tonight, instead of a host of various chores I could be doing, and partly to burn off all of the silly things* I've been eating while Linzy is out of town, I managed my first weekday bike ride of the season. Which is pretty crazy when you think about the fact that tomorrow is already July.

Technically I rode on Memorial day, but since I didn't work that day it was basically a weekend day. There are numerous reasons why I haven't been able to find the time to go on Tuesdays and Thursdays like previous years, but they all fall into the two usual categories: Time and Bad Weather.

Time-wise, I was out of town basically for three weeks straight in June and work has been particularly busy lately so I haven't been getting home until very late most nights. Then throw in some rain and/or ridiculously windy days, and I end up not doing any biking during the week.

Tonight however, it was gorgeous outside, a very pleasant temperature and virtually no wind. Even though I got home even later then normal, the sun doesn't set until 9:00 so I was able to get a ride in. It was really pleasant to ride without the stiff 15 mph winds (or worse) that we've had lately. Plus on the way home on 160th I got a good view of the setting sun.

It was great.

[ And by 'silly things' I mean that Chris and I were using Fritos Scoops to eat Allison's queso at the party last weekend. That might be the perfect storm of completely horrible-for-you foods that taste oh-so-good. ]


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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Summer Party

Last night I went up to Brenden's godparent's mansion for his and Allison's summer party. They had a good turnout considering that it was planned less then a week in advance. I guess the opportunity to spend an evening hanging out in a beautiful mansion on Lake Minnetonka helps motivate people. Unfortunately Linzy was out of town this weekend so she wasn't able to go.

The party was a good time, and everyone seemed to have fun.

On the invitation reply I had jokingly said that I would be there, but expecting Flaming Dr. Pepper shots. Since, where better to do anything involving dangerous flames then someone else's multi-million dollar home? Well Allison went all out and bought the components to make homemade Flaming shots and they were a big hit. Brenden even showed his inner daredevil when he spilled 151 (liquid flame) all over his hands while dunking a shot.

Interestingly, while I was talking with people at the party I was asked by three different people (and also once on behalf of someone's friend) whether I could get them jobs at my company. That was pretty strange, but I suppose it says something about the current job market.

All in all it was an entertaining time, and it was nice of Brenden and Allison to provide food and drinks (and a mansion!) for everyone.

[ Linzy had the point-and-shoot camera with her, so I didn't have a camera with. So no pictures other then the blurry mobile shots of the flaming shots. ]


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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Flaming Dr Pepper

Allison made the party Flaming Dr. Pepper shots. No giant fireballs required.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Laziness

My house happens to have a large deck. Technically it is so large that if you are a county tax assessor you would charge me for two large decks. It wraps around the side of the house which is nice because one side or the other is usually non-windy and not in the direct sun, making it pleasant to sit on. So I like the deck a lot. Except every other year when I have to stain it.

I've power washed and stained it three times since we moved in. Once by myself, once with Linzy's assistance and once with Shawn's assistance. In no case was it fun, enjoyable, or even remotely satisfying to complete.

I hated every minute of it. In fact, power washing the deck in preparation for staining contributed to making my 25th birthday one of the worst ever (I was very bitter about having the day off work and instead of having fun, power washing the deck in the rain).

Anyways this year, with my June travel schedule and my lack of interest in doing anything related to staining the deck I decided to give in to my inner lazy impulses. I (mostly Linzy) hired a company to stain the deck for me.

It went against every 'I can just do it myself' cheap feeling in my body, but man was it nice. I came home one day and they had carried everything off the deck and power washed it. Then a couple days later I came home and the whole thing was stained.

They even did a better job then I was expecting. It still bugs me that I paid someone to do something I am perfectly capable of doing myself, but I was pretty happy to have it done and not hanging over my head all summer as something I need to do.


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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Free Lunch

It is fairly well known that I bring lunch to work just about every day, excepting once every other week when I go out to lunch with Paul. There are many reasons that I bring my own lunch every day, saving money, saving time, and the fact that all I really want for lunch is a sandwich. [ My sister will likely now remind you that the lunch I bring happens to be exactly the same every day. Strange, perhaps, but that is what I like. ]

Once a month at work there is a lunch meeting that I attend. It's usually a reasonably interesting meeting, and the free lunch (which tends to be good) makes it that much better. The trouble is, though, since it is only once a month I inevitably forget about it until I arrive at work, toting my brown bag.

So then I have to try to remember the next day not to bring a lunch. And even if I do remember not to bring one, the previous days lunch has since gotten dried out and tasteless.

Today I was proud that I remembered that we had the lunch meeting. I remembered to reschedule lunch with Paul yesterday, rather then last minute after I got to work and discovered it on my calendar. I also remembered this morning not to bring a lunch, and was all set for whatever catering was brought in. I even ate a smaller breakfast knowing that I would likely over-eat at lunch.

Only to have the meeting canceled at the last minute. Leaving me with no catered lunch, no lunch with a friend, no homemade lunch, and an empty tummy. That's what too much planning will get you, I guess.


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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tourists, Who Needs Em

Sedona-53After leaving the Grand Canyon last week, Linzy and I headed south to Sedona. On the way we stopped in Flagstaff, only to discover nothing of much interest there. We tried to visit the Lowell Observatory (it was one of two marked attractions in town) but that turned out to be a $20 per-person sun telescope on an overcast day. We also tried walking around downtown a bit, but that was only appeared to encompass a block or two, so we eventually gave up and continued our trip.

Sedona was an interesting town. It is what was originally more-or-less a hippie town nestled in a little valley halfway between Phoenix and the Grand Canyon. The town is nestled in rolling hills and surrounded by massive red cliffs. Eventually it was 'discovered' by the rest of the world, all the rich people moved in and now the median home price is 600k.

Of course all those people who own million dollar houses don't like the heathen tourists tromping all over their little city, so despite being incredibly scenic it is not really particularly tourist friendly. There are very few signs for anything, half the roads outside of town aren't paved and there are not many convenient places to stop and view the scenery.

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The big thing with Sedona is the Vortexes, supposedly centers of new age power. We tried twice to find the original Vortex in one of the canyons and failed twice. The complete lack of any sort of signs directing you to where the Vortex is defeated us both times.

We did manage to brave the primitive roads and went to the Palatki Ruins, which were quite cool. The cliff houses have mostly fallen down, but enough remained to make it an interesting thing to see. They were not quite as elaborate as Montezuma's Castle (which we saw later in the trip) but you could actually climb up and explore the ruins which made it a little more engaging.

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On the second afternoon in Sedona (when it was ridiculously hot) we decided to head outside of town up into the town of Jerome which was the home to the first mine in Arizona and then became a ghost town by the 1970s. Now it has been 'revitalized' with 500 residents preying on tourists.

Through miscommunication between Linzy and I we ended up going to the Ghost City mine when neither of us wanted to. It turned out to basically be an old mine that some scary people purchased and now have turned into a giant junkyard. Imagine if you bought every broken down old car you ever saw, hauled all of them up onto a mountain top and parked them all over the place and then just let them sit there for years. That's pretty much the Ghost City Mine.

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Regardless of our issues with Jerome, or the unpaved roads and lack of signage in Sedona, it was still interesting to see and we had a good time. Oak Creek Canyon was particularly picturesque and actually had a nice scenic view stop at the top of the canyon. Plus due to all those people with million dollar homes, Sedona had many nice restaurants, so even if we couldn't find any vortexes, we could at least find a good meal.

[ The rest of the pictures from Sedona are here ]

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon-22I spent a while tonight going through the insane amount of pictures we took at the Grand Canyon, trying to pick out a reasonable number to upload. The frustrating thing was the knowledge that the none of the pictures really do it justice.

I was pleasantly surprised at just how much I enjoyed the Grand Canyon. I was kind of expecting to walk up to it and go "Wow, that's a big canyon, cool" and then be a little bored after a bit. But it turned out to be pretty amazing, and lots of fun to explore.

The canyon is roughly 10 miles wide at the south rim (I think) and about a mile or a 1.5 miles deep. We spent basically a little over a day going around to all of the viewpoints on the south rim, most of which are within a mile or two stretch, and the view seemed different from each. Some had better views east or west, from some you got a good view down bright angel canyon, and others had better views of the Colorado River.

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We weren't able to arrange a mule trip down to the river, and didn't do much hiking down the trails (they are steep, narrow, and generally dangerous looking), but it was fun just to go around the rim and take in the views.

The trouble with the Grand Canyon is that it isn't particularly easy to get to. You are basically looking at a 4.5 hour trip from Vegas (what we did) or a 3.5 hour trip from Phoenix. But it was well worth the trip, in my opinion.

All of the rest of the Grand Canyon pictures are in this set.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Back Home

Bellagio-29On Friday Linzy and I got back from our trip to the Southwest safe and sound, if a little tired and sick of the heat.

I spent four days in Las Vegas for work, then we spent two days at the Grand Canyon, two days in Sedona, two days in Scottsdale, and then one final day in Las Vegas before flying back. It was a whirlwind trip, but we got to see a lot of cool things and were very rarely without something interesting to do.

The worst thing about the trip was the heat in Arizona, which was hot even by Arizona standards and ridiculous compared to normal Minnesota temperatures. The Grand Canyon was actually reasonably pleasant due to its elevation (7,000 feet I think), but Sedona was really hot and Phoenix was virtually too hot to do anything other then lay in a cabana by the pool.

Still we had a lot of fun. The Grand Canyon was awesome. We also had fun staying at the fancy Firesky Resort and Spa in Scottsdale and the Bellagio in Vegas, and seeing the Cirque De Soleil show 'O' on our final night of vacation.

I'm still working on sorting through the photos, but the end of the trip from Sedona through the Bellagio are posted.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

In Search of Food

While we were busy sizzling in the sun at the Phoenix Desert Botanical Gardens a few days ago, the birds were out and about searching for food.










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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Firesky

The Firesky Resort & Spa is quite the hotel, certainly among the fanciest I've ever stayed at. It is a Kimpton hotel, just like the Marlowe (where I stay in Cambridge), but since it is a resort has a more complete entertainment experience (i.e. has multiple pools with waterfalls, a spa, etc).

In addition to the hotel being disturbingly nice, they [rpvoded Linzy and I up with chocolate chip cookies and a balloon for my birthday, and champagne for our anniversary. Oh, and provided Mimo to keep us company in the room.

I was also amused to see that they kept the animal print robes, despite the fact that animal print isn't part of the color scheme (like it is at the Marlowe). It was a nicer cotton blend then they have in Cambridge, though.



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Bellagio View

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Good Plan

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Metal chairs - 110F no shade

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sedona, AZ

It may be ridiculously hot here, but it sure is scenic.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Hot Enough For You?

Ambient Temperature - 119F



We actually saw a 122F reading on the guage at one point today, but it dropped down shortly afterwards. Either way, it is hot. You might hear that it is a dry heat, but when it is over 120 degrees in the sun, it doesn't really matter.

[ Update 10:00pm Pacific - The sun has been down for three hours, and it is still 101F in Scottsdale (where we are headed tomorrow). ]

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Water Optional







[ The purple-pink cactus flowers were at the Grand Canyon. The yellow flowers were growing randomly at the side of the road near a scenic overlook. ]

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

All Along the Watchtower








[ The watchtower is the little bump on top of the hill on the far right ]

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Grand Canyon at Sunset



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Friday, June 13, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Monday, June 09, 2008

Traveling

Just a reminder that I will be traveling the next two weeks, for work initially and then vacation. So at best (worst?) all you'll get is blurry mobile pictures posted as I walk between bars. Or silence, which I hear is golden.


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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Dive Bar

When I was in Austin last week, on Wednesday night the plan had been to go to the Hills Cafe for dinner and a free Corey Morrow concert. Unfortunately we were way late leaving the office, so by the time we got there the place was packed.

The streams of people walking down the street while we were still blocks away was the first sign. When we got close to the cafe, we talked with the lady running the parking lot and found out that it was indeed completely full. She said "The safest place to park around here is probably the Pawn Shop lot". That makes you feel safe, huh?

Anyways, we decided to skip the concert and instead went down to sixth street and had dinner at the Casino El Camino. It was recommended by a co-worker as serving the best burgers he had ever had, while also being the darkest bar he had ever been in. It lived up to both aspects.

The bar was indeed ridiculously dark. The only source of light, other then 30 watt red lamps placed sporadically around was one grimy window over the door. But the burgers were unbelievably good. Another co-worker from Minneapolis and I split a 3/4 pound Amarillo burger which was far spicier then anything you would ever get in Minnesota, but oh so tasty.

The bar looks like it was decorated by a combination of Coop and Rob Zombie, while still retaining that dive bar feel. Although they do bow to the beer-snob by having a double-door fridge filled with bottles of higher-end beer. A true dive bar serves pitchers of Old Style (I'm looking at you Anchor Bar in Superior).

It was still an interesting place to go to, and the burgers were well worth the 25 minute wait.


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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Austin Trip

I made it back from Austin, TX on Thursday night. The trip was a definite success from a work aspect, even if it was ridiculously busy.

The flights down and back sucked immensely. They were direct, but on a Mesabe regional jet that had hands-down the most uncomfortable seats ever. On top of that, our flight coming home was delayed for about an hour prior to take-off and then spent an extra hour flying around western Minnesota waiting for the thunderstorms to clear out of the airport. Still I made it back safely, so I guess that is something.

In addition to normal work stuff, we went and ate barbeque one night, and met up with co-workers the other two nights. The Austin team is very hospitable. Instead of just advising us to go check something out, they always insisted on coming with.

The first night we ate dinner with a co-worker at B.B. Rovers, where they served Nachos topped with Beef Brisket. That was unique and very tasty. Then we met another co-worker on the other side of town. The second night a bigger group of us went out to various bars on sixth street until far, far too late considering we had to work the next day.

All in all it was a very productive trip, but I was glad to get home. Even if it is only three days before I leave again.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Monday, June 02, 2008

Barbeque

Tonight for dinner my two co-workers and I, all of whom are from the Twin Cities, decided to try some Texas Barbeque for dinner. After consulting the front-desk people, we ended up hitting the County Line BBQ outside of Austin.

After debating the merits of brisket versus beef ribs versus pork ribs, and how to get some of their bread with our meal, we ended up just going all out and ordering the all-you-can-eat Cadillac meal. Which comes, as you might expect, with some of everything. Sausage, peppered turkey, pork ribs, beef ribs, ham, chicken, and two kinds of beef brisket. Oh, and of course, bread, coleslaw, beans and potato salad.

The barbeque was pretty tasty, and the variety made things fun because you got to try a little of everything instead of just ribs. Plus beef ribs are so rare, I always enjoy an opportunity to try them out.

Anyways after all of that my favorite part of the meal, hands down, was the homemade vanilla bean ice cream that we got as part of the meal for desert. Maybe it was just the contrast to all the BBQ sauce, but it was amazing. So good I seriously considered getting a second cup.

In the end that seemed excessive, but I did think about it.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Grand Old Day

This afternoon Linzy and I decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and went over to St. Paul for Grand Old Day.

Many, many other people had the same idea, so the festival was packed. I was actually surprised at the amount of people, even just on Grand Avenue. If you wanted to buy a wristband and get in to see a band play, it was even more crowded.

Linzy and I didn't buy a wristband to get into the bands, we just wandered around for a while, looking at the shops, listened to the bands play from the street, and people watched. Oh, and bought overpriced food and pop (though my Grand Old Creamery ice cream cone was pretty good).

What I couldn't figure out was why some of the shops were closed. There were thousands of people milling about on the road with nothing better to do then either drink or shop, possibly both. It seemed like an obvious time for the shops to be open and doing a brisk business. The ones that were open certainly seemed to be doing well.

Eventually the sun got to be a bit much, and we had had our fill of people watching. But overall we both had a good time.

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