Sunday, October 2, 2011

4 Eventful Weekends In A Row

Travel is a big part of my commuter-marriage life. At the beginning of September, I flew to DC to see Mom (and enjoyed her world's best crabcakes®). Then I drove down to Charlottesville (we have a rental empire there, which is for another post ...), stayed with my old friend Chris Loomis, and caught up my PhD advisor Professor Zunz and Christine. Jeanine's mom and step-dad kindly came over from Williamsburg, my best man Cedar came over from Richmond, and we all went to the Chinese restaurant in C'ville with the amazing but nomadic chef featured in the New Yorker:
Then Cedar, Chris and I clubbed it at Court Square, my favorite bar circa 2001 to 2005. It was fantastic. For most of this (Saturday) night we had the place to ourselves, and the bartender admitted that the place is a tax write-off. And best of all, the place is exactly the same hovel it always was, despite being closed for close to two years because of a fire (thankfully it may be just a smidge darker now).

The next weekend I spent in Utah, and I paced my friend Jason in the Wasatch 100 race from about mile 52 to mile 75 (Lamb's Canyon to Brighton for those in the Utah know). Pacing Jason was incredible. Maybe not for him — I don't think I was tough enough on him (it's hard to be a drill sergeant when someone looks like they're about to collapse), and we fell behind his goal time (eventually he finished in 27 hours versus the goal of 24, which is still amazing) — but I had a fantastic experience. Something about the nighttime hiking and the whole vibe of the race was magical, especially as it was in fact pretty physically easy to pace for the third quarter of the race (there wasn't a ton of running, except for the downhills; the key to feeling in shape is to pace someone beginning 52 miles into a 100-mile run). Plus, it's pretty much an all-you-can-eat buffet along the way. Well ok, the one downside came after I was done. We pulled into my last aid station, Brighton, at 11 pm, and then I had to bum a ride to the Homestead Resort (Kristin and Jason have a cabin in Midway). The first person I asked said "sure, my husband is about to take off again on the course and I'll be leaving soon." Well, turns out that this guy, despite having run the race 10 times, was hurting and stayed in the Brighton lodge until 12:30, so I'm sitting there the whole time excruciatingly annoyed and exhausted and unable to be placated even by the unlimited McDonald's-style square hashbrowns, thinking how I'm losing sleep every minute and mad I let Jeanine off the hook for picking me up (just kidding J), but obviously unable to complain. And no other ride materialized. I got to sleep around 2, and then we had a 6 am wake-up to go see Jason finish at the Homestead (not complaining; it was worth it to see him come through the line). Here we are at Lamb's with our crew chief, Will Berry:

Weekend #3 was a road trip from Manhattan to Mankato, MN, to see the Jawhawks play at the world famous Mankato Riverfront Park. Those who know me pretty well know that the Jayhawks occupy a pretty big part of my tendency toward anticipatory nostalgia (as Cedar brilliantly coined it), so I won't bore you with too much detail. Sure this was a long way to drive to see a show, especially as I also learned this weekend that smart phones are smart enough to know when a road is closed — but not smart enough to suggest alternate routes or not to detour you onto the country road just to try to send you back to said closed road. But I promised I would do something stupid like this after the summer from work hell, and plus I got to see my friends Pete and Jess in Lincoln on the way, I picked up some Minnesota Honeycrisp apples I'd been craving, and, finally, the Gear Daddies opened, which pretty much made the trip mandatory (call them Martin Zellar and the Hardaways all you want, but if Billy's on base, it's the Gear Daddies). The show was great — I'll post the play list when I think of it — even though I wish they hadn't played so much from Tomorrow the Green Grass at the cost of nothing from Sound of Lies and Smile (and very little from Rainy Day Music). I see, by the way, that their new album, Mockingbird Time, debuted at #38 on the Billboard album chart. Hmm, I think this may indicate which demographic actually still buys CDs ...

Reality set in when my tenure materials were due the day after I got back, but whatever. Then last weekend Chris Nichols, a friend since grad school, came from Philadelphia/Ithaca. In addition to a culinary tour of all the finest establishments in Manhattan, Chris gave a talk at K-State on his new book:

Support an author today and buy his book in paper.

After a quiet weekend, highlighted by tailgating with Sam before KSU beat Baylor, I can't wait for Jeanine to come for her annual visit to KS. Maybe she can guest blog next week. 

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