Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Phightins do it up!

The Phillies just won their 10th game in a row (for the first time since 1991) and have a winning record at home (for the first time this season which is more than half over) and go 10 games ahead of the Mets by beating the Cubs in 13 innings by a Jayson Werth walk-off three-run homer. Pretty nice ending to a hectic-as-usual day. Also, it would be great if...

Jeff: think we can swing Halladay??
Sent at 10:51 PM on Tuesday
me: if, so, we would be Ha Ha Ha Hamazing
Jeff: haha
me: exactly
Sent at 10:54 PM on Tuesday

Actually I call it the HaHaHaMyMoy:

Halladay, Hamels, Happ?...Myers and Moyer? Ok fine and Blanton too.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Shenandoah 4th of July #1

Up until a week before, plans for the 4th seemed all too ordinary. Not that New York City doesn't have enough to offer, I mean, there would most definitely be a plethora of events and gatherings and obviously great fireworks, but that's every year. And when I reluctantly stayed late at work until 9pm on Friday June 26th to supervise elevator and escalator maintenance, I was granted a surprise gift, Friday the 3rd of July off. Shortly afterwards I called my friend Oliver, who had been organizing a Virginia camping trip for months. I wanted in, and finally I had a way to escape the harsh and relentless city that had been wearing me down since...last summer.

Thursday night I boarded the 7pm Vamoose (at 6:59) to join Andy and Cassie for a 4+ hour direct bus ride to Bethesda, MD. Even though our ride consisted of an exhilarating Travel Scrabble game (won by Cassie on the last turn), some people enjoyed the ride even more...

We walked to Oliver's place meeting his recent Birthright trip friends Sarah and Melissa. The next morning Takk and Anthony joined us, and with two packed cars we drove the hour and a half to the Shenandoah valley. Melissa called a friend to ask for camping advice on the guaranteed busy weekend, and was instead offered a place for her and all 8 of us to stay, on Andrea's private land. We all happily accepted the offer and after winding down some country roads, we were there. It was a several acre property, a couple miles from the National Park, nestled right on the Shenandoah River. It was beautiful.

Friday we got settled, hung out a bit, fished, canoed, threw horseshoes, went for a small hike with Andrea and the dogs, ate insane portions of ribs, chicken, crabs and steaks, then hung out all night by the campfire with her and her colorful husband Jim. It was an amazing feeling to just be away.

On Saturday, we went for a long hike in the park. We drove 40 some miles to the Whiteoak Canyon area. A wandering bear cub on the side of the road gave us a taste of adventure to come.

But multiple potential trail head destinations and a swift unexpected loss of cell communication led to our car parties to split in two. After a half hour wait at our respective parking lots, each party decided to journey on separated, down two difference trails. The routes would end up overlapping for several miles, but not simultaneously. Each group hiked approximately 9 miles.

My group, consisting of Oliver, Sarah and Melissa ventured down the Cedar Run trail to see several falls before hitting the bottom of Whiteoak Canyon to hike back up past 6 more. The hike down begged the idea of an imminent hike up, but we were soon distracted by a nice 15 and 20 foot rock jump into a nice cool pool at the base of a waterfall. We ate lunch, jumped, then continued on.

The rest of the hike offered continuing spectacular views, challenging paths, and a few surprises.

After descending down Cedar Run and ascending up Whiteoak, we finally found the Fire Road, which was a 2 mile walk back to the car. As we lethargically pulled our bodies up the wide open trail, we were jolted to attention by a dear sprinting straight across the trail, about fifty feet ahead. At this, Melissa strangely commented "I want to see a bear eat a deer." It wasn't more than 5 seconds after we each gave her peculiar glances that a black bear came barreling out of the woods with the same exact trajectory, right after the deer. We all froze in our tracks, stunned. We didn't know whether to be more scared at the coincidence or the fact that we just witnessed the deadliest beast of the park within both visual, audible and smelling range. We were all a little frozen for a good 30 seconds, then slowly started walking again. Every sound we heard from then on gave us a small jolt...even the leaves rustling from these far off wild turkeys.

We made it back to the car uneaten and drove back to the Number One tunes of a nearly departed Michael Jackson. Upon arriving back at the campsite, we discovered our 4 person counterparty had recently returned, and indeed had a wonderful hike as well. We also returned in time for some fresh meat from the neighbors' 120lb pig that had been slow roasting all day. Another relaxing and carefree campfire evening segued into a great evening's rest.

Sunday afternoon we reluctantly packed up and left, saying goodbye to new and old friends and the beautiful Shenandoah. Takk and I got dropped off at his parents' house for a wonderful and amazingly satisfying Japanese dinner prepared by his mother, then we Vamoosed back to NYC.

Work resumed on Monday.