30 Miles + a Coyote = Typical Saturday

Good news!  Despite the injuries and being sick all week, I can still bang out 30 miles.  Bad news…I have to find 20 more in six weeks.  Yikes!!  North Face.

I had somewhat planned out my day….park in Tennessee Valley and do a loop towards Rodeo Valley and then a loop in Pirates Cove and some junk miles in TV before, during, and after.  And of course, hit my car as an aid station each time I passed.  I will say, Slimer makes a great aid station.

I started with a loop out and back to the beach, pretty uneventful, but probably should have put on the ankle braces.  Oh well…gotta get stronger somehow.  I returned to my aid station to restock before heading up Marincello.  And to the lady who felt the need to stalk me for my parking spot.  First, I gave zero indication I was leaving….Second, you can always ask….and Third, try the one in front of me..or behind me…or on the other side of the road.  There’s plenty, I promise.  But, I do hope you enjoyed watching me get ready to run.    
Anyway….so I headed up Marincello, took that over to SCA, past the steps I tripped down, down Coastal, and out to Bunker Dr.  I really like Coastal….nice, gentle, down hill, very little to trip on.  Then I spent about a mile trying to get on Rodeo….due to trail construction, all the entrances had changed.  I never found the right way to get on the trail, but I did find the trail blazed by all of those before me who must have gotten annoyed trying to figure out the routing.  One jump around a fence and I was on my way.  Going up Rodeo was tougher than I remember, but not too bad.  I was well within the pace I’d like to main for the race, even though today was all about getting the miles in.  
Once I got to the top of Rodeo, I decided to explore a bit….kind of tough now since I know the headlands pretty well.  But, regardless, I decided to take Oakwood…or maybe it was Oak Valley, back down to TV.  I didn’t think I had been on that trail before, but quickly learned that I had.  Except, I had climbed up it, rather than run down.  The first part of it wasn’t too bad – nice, easy jog down.  Similar to running down Coastal.  Then I got to the rocks and the steep and the gravel.  Good times….well….not really.  I went down once and then gave up and crab walked down the next part.  I’m done taking chances.  
Got down, got back to slimer…..mile 16.  More than halfway.  Re-stocked, refueled, swapped the sweaty tank for a dry t-shirt, and I was off to Pirates Cove.  
Now, Pirates Cove was more treacherous than I remember it.  Maybe it never recovered from North Face last year, maybe I’m just afraid of falling.  I’m pretty sure I was crawling through parts where Kenya and I used to jog last year….somehow, I will have to find a way to get over this trail fear.  As I made my way down to the scary stairs, I did have to stop and pause, and admire the beauty of where I was running.  I was also really looking forward to getting on the far less steep single track you can see in the distance.  
I followed the single track past the bridge I crashed out on during this run, and noticed the edge where my foot slipped had been patched.  The single track leads up a bit and then out to a fire road and down into Muir Beach.  The descent into Muir Beach wasn’t as bad as I remember (now if I could just get over my fear of every other descent….), though I did have to navigate around a group of four and a dog that managed to somehow take up the entire fire road.  Really, people?!
I got down into Muir Beach and could smell people grilling….mmmm….grilling.  At mile 22ish, I was really wishing I was coming up on the BBQ and beer that was at the finish line last weekend.  But, no such luck.  I stopped at the picnic table to grab a snack – afraid for a minute all I had to eat was the Margherita Pizza Cliff/food/whatever it is, but found a cookie and some GU I didn’t realize I had.  The Margherita Pizza thing will live to save me another day…..
After a brief snack break, I headed up Middle Green Gulch – North Face goes all the way up Coyote Ridge, which is steeper, but Middle Green Gulch is longer, and I was really looking for the miles.  Going up that was….a challenge.  I was tired, but I guess I’m supposed to be at mile 24, 25, etc.  It was long, but looking back on it, not that long and soon I was at Coyote Ridge.  Just had to clear the top part of that, and I’d be in for a nice descent into Tennessee Valley.  
The last push up Coyote Ridge wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be, so I guess that’s a good thing.  The descent is another story.  The first part was fine, easy fire roads….but Miwok cut-off, that I used to love, terrified me for some reason.  Again, I used to run down most of this….why am I so afraid??  I’ve really only taken two noteworthy falls, despite running out there how many times?
On the up side, the sun was starting to set, making for some really nice colors in the sky.  On the downside, I turned off my watch and forgot to turn it back on.  Ooops.  Definitely ran more than 30 miles….

I briefly contemplated stopping at my car after getting back down from Coyote Ridge, but decided against it.  I had just about four miles to go…silly to stop now.  And I knew I didn’t really need to take off my super cool ankle braces.  So, I continued down Rhubarb Trail and back for an additional mile and then headed on a three mile out and back to the beach.  I was surprised at how much I was able to run.  It was flat, but still….

And, just when I thought I’d been on the most uninteresting, uneventful run, I met mile 28.5.  I was on my way back to my car from a three mile out and back to the beach.  Really junk miles, but at that point, who’s counting.  Anyway, I decided I should jog a bit, because, well, I felt like I could, so why not?  So, I’m jogging along, excited I’m only a mile and a half from the car and what do I see down the trail…Mr. Coyote.  He’s hard to see in the photo, but if you look down the trail on the left, he’s there.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the phone to magnify and take the photo before he started RUNNING AT ME.  Yes, your typically skittish coyote decided to run at me, rather than in the bushes.  I was caught somewhere between….’I am at mile 28.5 of a 30 mile run and you are between me and the finish line’ and ‘holy crap, what do I do if he gets to me.  I don’t have it in me to fight a coyote at mile 28.5’.  Luckily, after charging a few feet down the trail, he jumped off into the surrounding brush.  

 After my coyote sighting, the rest of my run was uneventful.  I passed by a man I had passed on my way out, and he said, ‘you did it’….I looked at him and said, ’30 miles…damn right, I did’.  I’m sure he thought I had just run out to the beach and back (4 miles) or something.  The look on his face was priceless.  He was like, really??  You ran 30 miles today?  Yup…yup, I did.

Now to find those other 20……

Coyote Ridge – Take Two

It’s my one-year anniversary with Coastal Trails….sort of.  This weekend is the Coyote Ridge race – the first race I did with Coastal last year (read all about it here!).  It was so much fun, I never left.  This year, I spent Saturday marking a good chunk of the course and Sunday working the race and sweeping the course.

Since I’m pretending I’m going to train for the North Face 50, I wanted to get a run in prior to marking.  I made sure to check on sweeping for Sunday before deciding on the additional mileage – I didn’t need a forty plus mile work out over two days….well, I do, but unfortunately I’m not ready for that.  Glad I checked, since the plan was for me to sweep the nearly 15-mile pink loop.  That meant a four mile pre-run, rather than a fourteen mile pre-run.

I got to Tennessee Valley in plenty of time to get in a four miler, but you never know, so I took off up Marincello as quickly as I could.  My trip up Marincello was pretty good…it had been a long time since I’d been up it, so it was like reuniting with an old friend.  I did notice there were random colored ribbons tied to wooden stakes throughout the trail….trail maintenance of some sort, I think.  Nothing I could do about it, but something that I thought could cause confusion, so I took a picture and made a mental note to let Wendell know when I met him a few hours later.

Before I knew it, I was at the top.  Sort of.  I planned to do Marincello – Miwok – Old Springs, coincidentally the yellow loop for the race tomorrow.  And, the top of Marincello, is the top of that hill, but there’s still a little more up before you hit the airport surveillance thing-a-ma-bob and head down to Miwok to Old Springs.  Since I was at the top, I was definitely in the fog or rain or whatever had started.  Luckily, I only tried to fall twice on the way down.  Thankfully, I decided I was going to be the cool girl on the trail with two ankle braces, so I didn’t hurt anything.

Once I hit Miwok, I jogged down until I got to the nastily steep part….and it was wet….lucky me.  After almost slipping a second time, I decided to gently walk down the hill.  Ugh…when did I become so chicken on these hills.

I’m a big fan of Old Springs, so once I hit that trail, I was definitely up for a jog.  It felt great….a little scary, but great.  Again, why am I so chicken….ugh.  I jogged down Old Springs and then wanted to get in four miles, so did a little bit on Rhubarb trail until I hit my four and then walked back to slimer.  At that point, the rain had started (or the fog descended into the valley….never can tell here), so I moved him into the main parking lot (rain starts and everyone takes off, haha – my day had just begun) to wait for Wendell and Lynnard.  As I was hiding from the elements, I made the decision to completely change into my long sleeved shirt – I was wet, sweaty, and cold.  Not a good recipe for marking in the rain.  I decided to risk the heat later on.

Wendell arrived and showed me what I’d be doing….not only marking from Tennessee Valley to Point Bonita, but also taking a second trip to the airport surveillance thing-a-ma-bob and Old Springs to mark the yellow only portion of the course.  And then back up the crazy descent.  What a good time I was in for…..well, I definitely needed the miles.  I let him know about the random markings due to the construction and I was off.

Heading up Marincello a second time was nearly as painless as the first.  For some reason, it’s the one hill in the headlands I can walk up like I own it.  Every time.  It was also nice to be headed uphill in the cold, wet weather that had developed.  It was pretty windy at the top, so I was worried about my pink ‘go straight’ sign and my yellow ‘go right’ signs.  By the time I had finished placing the yellow, the pink one had blown away…..so, I tied it to the tree branches instead.  A little sooner than I wanted it, but at least it would be there for the runners.

Off I was to mark the yellow, knowing both the trip down and the trip up would be an adventure.  Down because, well, I’m afraid of everything and it was wet.  And up because, well, it’s steep.  I only briefly questioned myself….not sure why…I know these trails and I’ve been up there tons of times.  Around the airport thing I went (different than I went before!), and down to Old Springs.  And then back up…..on my way up, I ran into a couple hiking that asked me if I was taking all the signs down.  Nope…putting them up.  The race is tomorrow.

Getting back to Marincello, I realized that my yellow ‘right’ and yellow ‘straight’ signs had blown over.  So, I had to be creative and find bushes to tie them to.  Not ideal, but at least they’d be there for the runners.  Once that I was done, I buried the yellow ribbons in my bag and headed off to mark the pink to Point Bonita.

Then, the rain stopped…and once it did…the beauty of the headlands came out….nothing like fall in the bay area.

Overall, the pink loop was uneventful…..I mean, it passed through the place on SCA where I busted my good ankle a few weeks ago and the place where I ran out of ribbon while marking Golden Gate, of course, not to be outdone by the turn I missed when I ran Coyote Ridge last year…..but, all that considered, pretty uneventful.  I blew up the turn I missed last year….hopefully no one misses it this year, headed up the road towards Point Bonita, passed the place I ran out of ribbons this summer, and spotted Slimer in the distance.  I made it.  Haha…..11.5 miles later, 15.5 on the day, and I was heading home.  Ready for a shower and some food…..But, I did capture this photo before I headed out….the beauty of a golden gate sunset is second to none…

Since I’ve been dealing with one injury after another (and then my foot turning blue), I’ve been good and followed Dr. Hal’s orders over the past few weeks and run on the flat, predictable trails of Woodside.  I’ve been home for about an hour and a half and I’m definitely feeling the hills from today.  Oh, the cramping that’s threatening.  I hate being out of shape….ugh.  I feel like I ran 30 miles, not 15.  And to think I actually felt fine after 17 miles of flat…..

Sunday brought an early morning – we were up and at Muir Beach before the sun.  Thank God for headlamps, haha.  The day started with me trying, and failing, to open the gate to the parking lot.  Luckily, Brian was with me and knew how to open it…or was strong enough to open it…or something like that.

I helped unload and then set up and worked registration – there were a decent amount of people registering day of, which kept us busy.  Lots of questions about bag checks and parking too.  

After a short stint at the start/finish helping with registration, I headed out to the Point Bonita aid station – of course it would be the one I never made it to…haha.  I got there, and wow….the view was amazing.  It pretty much put the views from Saturday to shame….the city behind the bridge, as the sun came up.  Always gorgeous….always breathtaking….no matter how many times I see it, or from what vantage point.  I mean, really, the picture doesn’t even do it justice.

We were the second aid station and runners were only hitting us once, so my time at the aid station was pretty short lived and passed quickly.  The runners were all in good spirits and many stopped to say hello and let us know how their run was going.  I spent a few minutes talking to one guy about the Umstead 100, a race he had run before and I hope to run someday.  A couple of them had questions about the course, and it was nice to being familiar with the trails and able to answer them.

Once we had wrapped at the aid station, I packed it up in the Xterra and headed out to sweep – the journey of nearly 12 miles begins with a single step.  Haha….I thought the first section would be new to me, as it was the part I missed the year before when I got lost and I don’t really run much on that side of Tennessee Valley.  But, I realized two things….first, I have been on those trails and second, I picked the right part of the course to lose (give me a walk up Miwok any day).  Oh the hills….it goes up and up forever….past the battery….and then up some more.  I vaguely remember running down the same trail during my first 50k….I think going down was just as brutal, with the added threat of falling and busting myself.  To keep the hike entertaining, I stopped to take a photo of a couple with their dog and to smile at a group of hikers who were impressed with how quickly I was hiking up the hill.

Going down the other side of the trail was pretty steep, but really nothing I should have had a problem with – if I wasn’t so afraid of the trails.  Stupid injuries.  But, I survived the descent and made it back to the Miwok junction, right where I found the course when I ran the race last year.  I’m pretty sure there was a moment where I threw my arms over my head, and exclaimed, ‘it’s the course!’.  I’m pretty sure anyone that saw me would have thought I was crazy.

This year I saw two rental mountain bikers looking at an upside-down map (oh Blazing Saddles…).  I stopped and asked where they were headed.  They were trying to find Tennessee Valley Road…at least it was something I could help them find.  And there were two other bikers that came up on us and offered to play tour guide.  I love the nice people I meet on the trails.

After that, I made my way up the steep part of Miwok for the second or third time that weekend.  At that point, I’d lost count.  I paused to cheer on some of the 50k runners who were on their way down.  Somewhere between there and Point Bonita, probably along Coastal, I ran into another rental mountain biker looking for directions….what was with them on Sunday?  But, I’ve been a tourist plenty of times and am happy to try to help.

I came up on the sharp left, the one I missed last year, and was happy to see that my gerry-rigged ‘wrong way’ sign held up.  Because of the wind on Saturday, and the importance of the sign, I created a tripod for it as opposed to the two we usually use.  Unfortunately, I found out later that one of the runners had missed it.  I grabbed all that stuff, headed up the hill, and on to the road.    

After being on the road for a bit, I wasn’t sure I’d ever been so thankful to see our car….well, I feel like I say that ever time I get tired and just want to be done.  But, regardless, I was thrilled to see our car – I was done!  I sent Brian a text to let him know I was on my way and took off.  I should have paused to take off my super cool ankle braces, but I just wanted to get back.  Ouch….bad decision.  As much as the braces had saved my ankles for the past twelve miles, my ankles were done with the braces.  But, I really just wanted to get back down to the finish….I knew I was late and they probably needed help, and selfishly, I was hoping there was a dry race shirt I could put on.  If I had thought I was cold before, I was definitely cold now.

After briefly following someone who felt the need to drive down to Muir Beach at 5 MPH (thankfully they pulled over quickly), I got back to the start/finish to find it mostly cleaned up.  And, yay there were extra shirts.  Hooray for a dry shirt….went a long way with feeling warm in the wind at Muir Beach.  We finished loading up pretty quickly….joked about my ability to load a tent without breaking my leg….and my text about running out of ribbons (just kidding this time ;)).

Ok….after two days on the trails, I am exhausted.  Until next time….

Slimer’s Back!

So, best email ever today…..’your car will be ready after 3pm’.  YAY!  That only took six weeks.  Poor car, but at least I have it back now.  And it’s clean and washed and kind of smells like ammonia, but at least I know it’s clean.  haha.

As much of a pain as this whole thing was in the beginning – getting the car into a shop, dealing with the deductible, dealing with the cost of the rental, dealing with the insurance, etc., etc.  Once it was all worked out, it really was fairly easy to deal with (despite feeling like it was much, much longer than six weeks).  The insurance waived the deductible and eventually decided they would pick up the cost of the rental (rather than continuing to encourage me to pursue the other guy legally)….I’m guessing it probably had something to do with both me and the other driver having the same insurance, so in essence I’d have been going after them.  With his license, business card, and his voice on my original call to the insurance company.  Yeah…probably better to pick up the cost of the rental than fight an airtight case….haha.

It was perfect timing too, since the satellite radio subscription ran out while I was driving home last night….way to renew, enterprise.  When I got to Enterprise this afternoon, I literally parked the car in the middle of the driveway….I wasn’t sure where else to go with it in the garage….gotta love downtown San Francisco.  The people at Enterprise were great….the same guy that rented the car helped me turn it back in.  He gave me a bottle of water and helped load my stuff into the van that would take me around the block to German Motors.  Though, I will admit, I’m a little sad that the guy with the full gold grille wasn’t my shuttle driver today.

I got to German Motors and was welcomed by the receptionist.  She grabbed my file and let me know they were still bringing the car around.  However, she did ask me for the deductible.  I let her know that it was being waived, and got ready to pull out the slew of emails and voicemails stating that was the case.  She went to check with Rachel, the person I had been dealing with over the past month and a half.  I waited and held off on signing anything.  She came back out and told me I could sign it, the deductible was something else, and Rachel would be right out.

While all of this was going on, some other guy came up looking for a pair of glasses or something that had been left in his car.  It sounded like his car was totaled (not fun…for a bit, I thought that might be the case with mine), as he was getting a new one.  The receptionist gave him his glasses and was working on a plan to get him into his car to get whatever else he needed when Rachel came out of her office.  It was great to see her, they were waiving the deductible, and she went to make sure my car was being pulled around.

The receptionist came back and asked what happened with the deductible and I told her it was being waived.  Glasses dude decided at this moment to mutter, ‘must be nice’, under his breath….REALLY?!  Ok, I don’t know why you’re here….you don’t know why I’m here….you don’t know what I’ve been through, so keep your mouth shut.  Luckily, Rachel came back at that moment and walked me out to  slimer, all green and shinny as the day I bought him.  Yay!  It’s my car.  She told me she’d miss it being in the shop…it was always the brightest one there, so she always knew where it was.  haha.

A quick check of the trunk and walk around, and I was off.  Big thanks to Rachel and German Motors for keeping me updated and getting Slimer up and running again.  Later than I thought, but Mr. Passat and I had a good time commuting.  I’ll miss the carefree commute….I could get in anywhere…everyone cares more about their Tesla, Audi, Mercedes, than I did about my RENTAL CAR.  Oh commute adventures….but that is another story….

And Slimer is back!  And we have an adventure to go on tomorrow :).

Fixed the ankle….got the car back…life is moving in the right direction.  Here’s to the rest of the month and coming out stronger than I went in.  And really, as crazy as the past month has been….looking back today and realizing how much I’ve learned.  That’s what’s really crazy.

Until next time, over and out…..

Escape from San Francisco

This past weekend, Brian and I escaped from San Francisco (and Fleet Week) to Susanville, home of Lassen National Forest and the famed Bizz Johnson Trail.  I was heading up to work the Coastal Trails races on Saturday and Sunday, and Brian was going to help on Saturday and run the 50k on Sunday.  Our Anniversary was Monday, so an adventure, a race, and some trails seemed like the perfect thing for us to do.

In an attempt to miss traffic, we headed out early Friday afternoon.  After sitting in traffic getting out of the city and enjoying some delicious fast food at Carl’s Junior, we made it to Red Bluff – pretty much the last large town before heading into Lassen.

The first part of the park/Rt. 36 was a trip through volcanic rock.  It was pretty cool and the sun was just starting to set, which resulted in some picturesque views.  I was able to catch the below just as the sun was setting……the photo doesn’t really do the view justice.

The winding roads took us through several little towns and villages that seemed to be ghost towns now, but I’m sure were booming railroad towns years ago.  Then the sun set and it seemed like the deer took that as their cue to come out and play….or try to get hit by cars….or both.  Too many close calls.  And, as Brian said – no one wins if we hit a deer….it dies and we have another busted up car.  Luckily, we made it into town safely.  
I had booked us at the only hotel available in town….Budget Frontier Inn, or something like that.  Based on the name, I had some idea as to what I was in for, and I had fun taunting Brian with ideas around what it might be on the last leg of our trip.  When we got there, I was definitely not disappointed.  The outside looked as I imagined and on my attempt to check in, I found the door to the lobby locked and pressed the doorbell multiple times before someone came to let me in.  Luckily, someone did eventually come and let me check in.  
On the walk to our room, we noticed at least one door that looked like someone had tried to kick it in…luckily, ours was in tact…or so we thought (we did find out later that side paneling left something to be desired).  We did have a door to an adjoining room that didn’t lock…awesome.  Luckily, during our years of traveling to cheerleading competitions and staying in sketchy hotels, my mother taught me well.  I just took the table and pushed it against the door – at least it would slow them down.   
Amongst other things, we also didn’t have a remote….where is there a TV without a remote?  Brian tried to find it and then I took a shot at it.  No dice….but I did find this guy.  Any ideas on what it is?  Creepy Sponge Bob?  Sponge Bob on drugs?  

But, despite the neighbors busting into their room at two am and waking us up with the noise, it ended up being fine.  We survived our three nights there and it wasn’t nearly as bad as the place in Rohnert Park a few years ago.  I mean, it didn’t smell like smoke to the point that we couldn’t stay there and there weren’t drug dealers waiting for rooms when we left.

Saturday morning started bright and early with check-in for the Express Half Marathon.  Even earlier for us since we didn’t really know where we were and needed to get coffee/tea before getting where we needed to be (the awesome hotel also didn’t have a coffee maker….what hotel doesn’t have a coffee maker??).  We had to be at the train depot at 6:15….so naturally we left the hotel at 5:15.  We were five minutes away….from both the depot and the Starbucks.  Only us…..

But, we got our coffee and tea and made it to the depot in plenty of time.  Again, narrowly missing some deer, but I digress….We worked check-in for awhile before Brian headed off to an aid station and I headed off to the finish line.

It was pretty cool to be near and see signs for a trail I’d read so much about.  When you run marathons for nearly ten years, it’s impossible to not hear about the Bizz Johnson trail.  Yes, I am a runner geek…deal with it :).  

I learned how to pull results – and managed to do so all day without causing any craziness on the computer….haha.  So, I spent the race pulling results, posting them, and reading out age group winners.  Since the only thing worse than the sound of my own voice is the sound of my own voice on a megaphone, I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy making announcements…..However, it was actually a lot of fun.  People are usually excited when they win awards, more so when they aren’t expecting it.  It took me back to getting my third place finish from this race in the mail.  Totally unexpected, but so fun.

Once the Express Half had finished (and I’d had my fill of BBQ), I headed back up to the depot to run check-in for the rest of the day.  I was surprised at how many people showed up to check in a day early – definitely helped with things the next morning.  There was also some sort of chili baking competition….and festival…and I don’t know what else going on in the parking lot.  What I do know is that there was a very loud band (playing good music, but still very loud…probably because they were right outside the door), and people really don’t know how to close a door.  The amount of times we shut the door to keep the noise down (and what little AC there was inside), people just kept coming in and leaving it open….come on, were you raised in a barn?!

Saturday night was pretty low key.  We tried to find an Italian restaurant, and thought we had, but unfortunately, it was closed.  So we ended up at some random pizza factory or something.  And recognized just about everyone in the restaurant.  We’d either checked them in for the race the next day or saw them at the race that morning.  I remember one lady saying, ‘hi, expo people’….haha.  Food wasn’t the best – the Round Table pizza from the night before was better, but, oh well.  Win some, lose some.  And really, I was ready for bed.

Sunday morning started off similar to Saturday, but with a later trip to Starbucks – thank god.  haha.  We started with check-in, until Brian departed for his race, then he headed out and I stayed at the depot to continue check-in for the shorter distances, until those were ready to start.

Once the races had started, I packed up everything from check-in and the depot and headed to the finish line.  First, I was glad I had the x-terra – not that my car was ever an option, but that’s a whole different story.  Second, I was glad I had loaded the Coastal van so many times….loading the x-terra was like a mini loading of the van….haha.  But, I got it all to fit.  We bid farewell to the lady at the depot, and we were off.

I spent most of my time at the finish line on Sunday like I spent Saturday….pulling results and announcing age group awards.  Again, it was a lot of fun….people were in disbelief that they had placed, so it was fun being able to make their day.  Brian had a great race – PR in his 50k and first in his age group.  It was fun to announce his name and give him his first place medal.

I also got to take Brian on a trip in the Coastal van….always a good time.  Thankfully, he’s good with directions and was able to prevent me getting us lost.  We did pass a car that had just hit a deer….really glad that wasn’t me.  We picked up all the aid station stuff at one main gathering place – I thought I was being slick and got the tables in…thinking we wouldn’t have to unload them again.  Of course, I forgot about the timing mats.  Not that slick….apparently I haven’t loaded the van enough times…haha.  Once that was done, we headed back to the finish line, broke down, loaded up, and were off…until the next race.

We celebrated Brian’s good run with some more Round Table pizza (what else do you eat in Susanville?), some wine, and an early bedtime.  We were really excited to sleep in the next morning, but disappointed our time away had come to an end.  Such a great weekend getaway…..

Overall thoughts – great trip, great race – highly recommend.  I’d pick a different hotel though…or as Brian said, maybe next time we can see if we can find a worse hotel to stay at…haha….

Until then, over and out….

Tahoe Getaway

Great friends + the great outdoors = an amazing weekend.  Despite Tahoe being so close to San Francisco, Brian and I haven’t been there in years….I think the last time we were there was for the Tahoe Marathon/Half Marathon.  The one where I don’t remember the last two miles….I mean, there are photos of me looking pretty green near the end, so I got there somehow.  Anyway, I digress….

Brian and I haven’t been to Tahoe in years, so we were really excited when our friends Sean and Chiara invited us on a weekend away.  I was a little worried about getting out of work to get up there in any sort of reasonable time, but it actually wasn’t as big of an issue as I thought it might be.  Traffic was….bay area traffic, but wasn’t as terrible as I thought it might be.  After grabbing a bite at one of the sketchiest, slowest Wendy’s I’ve ever been to and a dark drive down some winding roads, we arrived at about 11:30.  Enjoyed some celebratory beers before settling into some bunkbeds.  So tired…..

I got up Saturday morning to a group of friends preparing breakfast (I knew better than to jump in and touch anything ;))….it was as if we’d all known each other for years, rather than just met the night before.  And the food was delicious…..no one was going to go hungry on this trip.

After breakfast, I decided I needed to explore – busted foot and all.  Brian went out on a run, I swapped the ankle brace from my left foot to my right, and off I went.  It started out simple enough…planned on two miles out and two miles back….staying in a simple straight path – out and back.  Of course, I wasn’t planning on finding a trail.  Cause when I find a trail….I wonder where it goes.  And I have to find out.  I mean, I have Strava, and it will route me back, right?

The trail was great….pretty flat, through some gorgeous trees, I even found some trail race markers….and then it ended.  So, I ended up on the road….which was fine, I had a fine time exploring the nearby neighborhood.  Other than not really knowing where I was….typical me….haha.  Thankfully, I had Strava going and was able to route myself back.

Once I got un-lost and got back from my walk, we headed out to Camp Richardson to meet the rest of the group.  If you go to Camp Richardson, make sure you bring cash for parking….or stop at the general store once you get there, but before you pull in.  I think we had $4 on us…oops.  Luckily, it was an easily solvable problem and I was able to pick up some snacks at the store too.  No keep Tahoe blue sticker though.

The plan for the day was to rent kayaks and head over to Emerald Bay.  Since Sean and Chiara had decided to go for a double kayak, I decided Brian and I would do the same (he was parking the car)….I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend the day in a kayak with me.  haha.  Our new friend Anna took a single kayak and the rest of the group went the stand-up paddle board route.

And, what a great day….good friends….cold beer….an adventure on the water…on a beautiful day.  Of course, I ended up with a new running pants tan line and flip flop tan line, because, well, why wouldn’t I….haha.  

Saturday night, we hung out at the house and made good use of the BBQ, the hot tub, and the sauna.  We all brought our own food, but shared everything, so dinner was a buffet of all sorts of meat and veggies and cocktails and wine.  I’m not sure I ever had flank steak, but wow…it was delicious.  As was the lamb and the rest of the steak I tried.  Such a fun night with old friends and new friends.

I decided I need to sleep on the top bunk of the bunk beds that night.  Not sure why that was a good idea….maybe it was the wine.  Or that I hadn’t been on bunk beds since Sarah and I went to London in 2004.  Anyway, I survived the top bunk experience and even remembered I was up there the next morning.  haha…..

We kicked off Sunday with yoga on the porch….what a great way to stretch out after a day of paddling on Saturday.  It was a great start to a warm and gorgeous day….even if I’m less than stellar at yoga….haha.  Anna was a great instructor too :).

After yoga on the porch, we decided to have a relaxing day at the beach and headed over to Falling Leaf Lake.  It’s another lake near lake Tahoe, but a little further up the road.  And, well, we all know how good I am at relaxing.  I was considering wrapping up the busted foot and shoving it in a hiking boot so I could go explore the trails around Falling Leaf Lake, but instead decided to have a second go at stand-up paddle boarding with Nathalie and Chiara.  June and I had a blast when we went a couple summers ago, so I figured this would be fun too (and far less taxing on my ankle).  And it was amazing.  Well, once I remembered how to do it…haha.

We paddled over to a private beach, then over past some Stanford cottages, relaxing and hanging out along the way.  The cold water felt great on my foot too.  Sadly, our hour was over far too soon and it was time to head back.  After paddling against the wind to get back to the protected beach, we just stopped and coasted in….we didnt want it to end.  I had visions of riding in like a surfer, but apparently that’s a bad idea…..luckily, Nathalie let me know and I scrambled to my knees just in time.  

But, like all good things, our trip had to come to an end…and we had quite the drive in front of us.  So, we said farewell to our new friends and jumped in the car with Sean and Chiara to head home.  

Of course, despite leaving at a reasonable time, there was an accident on 50 impacting all four lanes of traffic.  So we sat….and sat…and sat some more….two hours and less than two miles later, we got through it.  Annoying, but not the longest trip back from Tahoe I’ve heard of and a small price to pay for a fabulous weekend adventuring with friends.

Until next time….over and out…

Open Letter to Viansa

Wow…three posts in three days – if I have any blog followers, I’m sure you’re loving this…anyway, the point of writing, we went to Sonoma, we were expecting certain things and they failed.  Big time.  So, my first open letter. 
To long/didn’t read (TLDR): Corner 103 is amazing. Go there.  Avoid Viansa.

Viansa is the second winery off the 121/Arnold Drive.  It’s on several wine bus/wine tours.  Its been fabulous.  I won’t lie…it’s been a huge part of my life, but recently, and not so recently, its been different.  I thought it might get back to ‘the good old days’, but, I realized today that wasn’t the case.  I’ll forever be thankful for the friends I’ve made there, but, as I’ve learned in the recent past, sometimes knowing when to let go is just as important as knowing how long to hold on….     

Below is the email I sent to Viansa – our home away from home for several years…where we met some great friends, and more than that, where we re-discovered ‘us’.  It’s a great email, but a sad email where I canceled my wine club membership after 8+ years….   

Hello!

I updated my information this afternoon, but would actually like to cancel my membership.  Like most of America, I’m a busy person, but feel compelled to tell you why.   

My husband and I have been members for nearly ten years and for the most part, we’ve enjoyed every minute.  Between us spending time at Viansa to work on our marriage to a surprise 30th birthday party – you’ve been a big part in our lives.

We loved the staff, they always made us feel at home. When Lloyd owned the place, we never felt like anything less than one of his own. Kelly was always amazing…coming to see her was like seeing an old friend. It never mattered if it had been a week or a month, she always treated us as if it was only yesterday.   

Today, I arrived at the winery for the members party and it felt cold and corporate – the very thing I try to escape on the weekends. I entered the tasting room and recognized no one. I asked someone about Kelly, and was told, ‘she don’t work here no more’.  Quoted. Not even proper grammar. 

I don’t fault the employee, it’s not her fault. But, I do fault the winery. It’s become the corporation I wish to escape on the weekends, and while I can’t bring back the old days, I can take my money there.

I’ll look back fondly on my Viansa days, and at the same time realize that we all move on. We’ll move on as well – we’re loyal to Lloyd, Kelly, and the  rest of that crew, but we’re done with Viansa. 

Please let me know if you need additional information from me in order to cancel my membership immediately.

Thank you,
Kim

It’s All Fun and Games ’til You Fall Down the Stairs….

Two posts in two days, this must be some sort of new record….

But, you know, there’s never a dull moment and since I’m confined to the couch for awhile (again), I thought I might as well write about it.

The day started out normal enough….enjoyed sleeping in, confirmed that I could keep the rental car while they take a mont to repair Slimer (still waiting to find out who pays for that one…), made plans with a friend to go run…typical Saturday.

Brian and I headed over to the parking lot on the other side of the bridge to meet our friend Ann and run the ninja loop.  I’d heard plenty about the ninja loop, but had never actually run it (this will be important later).  As soon as we got there, we realized there were a lot of people heading up the trail….apparently we chose the same day as the Headlands 100 (and 50 and 75 and marathon).  Go figure, I never run from over there.  We decided to share the trails, everyone was pretty spread out, and we’d be turning off their course shortly.

So, up the hill we went.  I ran into one of the guys I see a lot at the Coastal races – (running the 100 mile, of course!).  I wished him luck and continued along my way up the hill.  I’d forgotten how long that hill actually was.  And then I came to a ‘T’…..hmmmm…..wish I knew the trails that made up the ninja loop.  I’m slow, so of course Brian and Ann were ahead of me.  haha.  I remembered when we were chatting about the trails, someone mentioned SCA.  The sign said SCA was to the right, so I took a guess and off I went.

Of course, I quickly realized I either made a wrong decision or was way behind.  I figured it was the former, and luckily had cell service, so sent off a quick text to let Brian and Ann know I’d see them back at the car in a few hours.  I continued to follow along the race course, getting asked direction at some point.  Really?  You’re going to ask me?  haha….I did have the course map on my phone, but another runner came along that knew the course, so they were all set.

At that point, I googled a map of the ninja loop and realized I was pretty much doing a reverse ninja loop.  I decided to eliminate the portion that drops in to Tennessee Valley so I could make it back to the car before everyone left.  I stayed high and then took Miwok down into Rodeo Valley….from there, I headed over to Rodeo Valley trail and eventually back up to SCA trail (one of my favorites!). SCA would eventually take me back over to the parking lot and back to the car.

And I love running on SCA….it’s not really uphill, it’s not really downhill….very rolling.  And the views, the views are spectacular.  It was everything I had missed about running and more.  I was also back on the race course, so was having fun cheering on the runners as they passed….of course a good number of them told me what a good job I was doing too….haha.  I, of course, didn’t have a bib, but didn’t have time to explain, so smiled, waved, wished them luck, and went with it.

I ran a lot of SCA….so great!!  And then came to some stairs pretty close to where SCA would meet the trail to go back to the bridge.  I’ve marked this area twice, run it far more than that….I KNOW to watch my footing.  I usually walk it…because, well, falling down the stairs would suck.  A LOT.  Today, I ran them.  Maybe because I could…maybe because I want to get over my fear of the technical terrain.  I don’t know.  I remember thinking it would really suck to fall here and I should be careful.  And then….

Trip…SNAP.

Oh…well….ouch.  That wasn’t supposed to happen.  I guess luckily there were ropes on the stairs that I could grab on to, so I didn’t completely bust my ass.  But, something snapped.  My good ankle….awesome.  I mean, I had the bad one in a brace.  Barring anything super crazy, that one wasn’t going anywhere.  I just stopped for a minute….held on to the ropes in my little crouched position as I had fallen….and similar to this day, I bounced my foot up and down to make sure it still worked.  Thankfully, it did.  As I got up, I overheard a group of hikers talking….one of them said….’oh look…one fell….’  Yup, yup, I did.  Thanks for noticing.  And I’m good….thanks for asking.  For those who are wondering, yes, I did get up and pass them.

I sent another text to Brian and Ann….’one mile out….fell….walking in’.  And that’s what I did.  Passed multiple hikers (really guys, the busted foot girl is passing you??).  And received a lot of encouragement from passing racers.  You guys rock…and I hope you all have a fabulous race!  I only hope I was half as encouraging to you – especially since you may still be running now, as I sit on my couch with my foot up, enjoying some wine.

I met Brian and Ann at the parking lot and we headed for home.  I mean, it all makes sense….last year, I bust my foot the weekend before we leave for Nepal….this year, I bust my foot the weekend before Tahoe.  Good times…..

At this point, I don’t think there’s anything seriously wrong.  However, I have sprained the other ankle multiple times and this feels…different.  It’s not crazy swollen, but the actual ankle (malleolus) is really sore to the touch and starting to bruise.  It also doesn’t really hurt unless I stand on it, move it, or touch it, which I remember the sprains just throbbing.  Again, it’s just different.  I’m not sure if that means good or bad different, but I have a doctor’s appointment on Monday, so will just add this to the list.

Like I said….never a dull moment….and I really just need to live in that bubble Erica suggested last weekend.  But, it was a pretty amazing run before I tanked.  Ugh…stupid stairs.

Thought of the day – I should have just stayed home and drank beer.

Until next time, over and out….

Who Ya Gonna Call…..

So, don’t ever have anyone hit your car….it’s a pain.  Figuratively and literally…..anyway, poor Slimer.

After much back and forth (and a little bit of yelling at the right people), I was able to take Slimer to a shop in the city on Tuesday.  Somehow, I managed to get out of work at the last minute to drop off the car, which was good since it was either that or the week of the 20th.  Which, as I told multiple people at Progressive, was unacceptable.  No, I didn’t know if the car was drivable.  Yes, it did run….however, no, I wasn’t sure that it SHOULD run.

When I got to German Motor Cars, the Progressive Rep met me at the entrance, and I was reminded why I love Progressive.  She was comforting and checked to make sure I was ok, and we walked the car together…..she helped me figure out a rental, the deductible, the other driver – basically all the things I’d been wondering.  She called in a rental while I waited for the German Motor Cars rep.  For the first time in several days, I actually felt ok about the whole thing.

The German Motor Cars rep was fabulous as well.  She checked the car, explained the process, and let me know when I could expect to hear from her.  Then the guy from the rental car place came to get me….it was right around the corner, and I totally could have walked, but I had four different bags and it had to be 85 in the city, which is unheard of.  haha….and he had a full gold mouth grille.  Of course he did…why wouldn’t he.  Keep it classy San Francisco….

I get my rental and I’m on my way.  Great.  Since then, its been radio silence – they told me it might take until Thursday at the latest.  Of course, Thursday I get two messages – one from the mechanic saying I’ll get an email with the repair estimate by the end of the day, and a second from the German Motor Cars rep stating that Progressive is still working on it.  Now, what good is going to come from that??  Ugh…..

Luckily, I heard from them today and they’re able to fix it.  It’s only going to take a month.  REALLY??  Hopefully I can keep the rental that long….or become really good at walking to Redwood City……

In the midst of all this, I headed out on my first work trip – 24 hours in Vegas.  It was….an experience.  On so many levels.  Apparently the conference has changed over the years, and this year was…..a new low?  I don’t know….according to the people who had been before, it was one or two trade show booths that were worth visiting and a bunch of cellphone accessory booths.  Yeah…..I have no words. Or maybe lots of them.  I don’t know.  Again, it was an experience.  It was good to get to know my coworkers a little better, great to attend a meeting with some of them, and also nice to see the dinner we’d been working on come to life.

The best part of it all?  I had a few minutes to go back to my room and get ready for dinner…..I only had the one outfit – a black business dress and a jacket (remember this for a few seconds), so it was pretty much adding some jewelry, re-curling my hair, and touching up my make-up.  So, I do that and head out for the restaurant.  I checked the map of the casino before I left the room so I’d have a fighting chance of getting where I was going (let’s remember how good I am at direction….), and I was in good shape.  Literally, I got off the elevator, stepped into the casino, and had some random dude ask me if I ‘worked’ there.  It took me a minute to understand exactly what was going on, but then…really?  REALLY??  I’m in a business outfit…..god knows I’ve been in Vegas in far more ‘appropriate’ attire, but this is when I’m going to get propositioned….seriously??  Although, if I need to pay for a month of a car rental, I know where I can find a third job….ha!

In better news, Dr. Hal (highly recommend Chiro Medical), taped up what was my good knee and adjusted/cracked everything from my hips up to my shoulders.  Ahhh….best feeling ever.  I’m so excited to get back out on the trails tomorrow.  He thinks he can have me up and running in time for North Face, which is fabulous….so tomorrow, I’m planning to get back out on to those trails for the first time in a long time.  I’ve enjoyed learning about other trails and parks all summer, but the headlands will always be home.  Its been too long since I’ve planned running routes while drinking wine on a Friday…haha….

Ok…until next time….over and out…..

Its Always an Adventure

Every time I think about updating this thing, I come back in and realize its been a month….sometimes more.  And then I realize that it feels like the longest month ever…or the shortest…and that everything and nothing seems to be going on simultaneously.  And I begin to wonder exactly where it is I’m headed and when I’m going to get there….then I remember that if I just keep moving, I’ll eventually be moving forward and get where I’m going.  That New Year’s update I promised, it might end up being a happy 2016 post – its been a hell of a year, friends.

Now that I’m a bit more up and running (literally and figuratively), and having adventures again (or maybe just feel like writing about them), hopefully I’ll be better about blogging.  I do have a 50-miler to start training for, that’s bound to be good for an adventure or two….haha….

Anyway, the past couple weeks have been great personally – seeing friends, getting cleared to run, working races, plans to join the gym, planning the future with Brian….I was so excited for a three day weekend.  I definitely needed it!  Friday, we got lucky and were told to leave the office early (ah-maz-ing).  I had scheduled a nail appointment later in the evening – I finally had to breakdown and find a place in Redwood City since I never back it back to San Francisco before 7 (in time to go to my usual place).  So, I decided to use the extra time to fill up the car for the race the next day and join the gym…and then use the rest of the time to walk and get some miles in.

But, fate had other plans.  I drove down and checked out the gym….and had second thoughts…like maybe I’d check out the other one in Redwood City.  So, I decided to go to the gas station and google the address of the second one while the car was filling.  Unfortunately, the second gym was across town and not convenient from the office at all.  So, I decide to suck it up and join the first one…it’s only a month, anyway.  I finish filling the car and get on the road back to the gym….I’m hanging out at  the stoplight, waiting for the light to change.  There were at least two lanes, maybe three….one was a left turn only lane – this one had its own light.  The arrow for the left turn only lane turned green and BAM!

I’m not really sure what was worse, feeling the impact or hearing the crunching sound.  Unlike when Brian and I got hit at the Bay Bridge Toll Plaza, this was not like bumper cars.  It was like a fight…that slimer obviously lost.  I heard the crunching and for a minute, wasn’t really sure what to do next.  First, I pulled over on the corner, and then decided I should probably just pull back into the gas station.  So I did – met the other driver and called the insurance from there.  Somehow, I kept it together while waiting to lose it, but that never happened.  The ‘other guy’ was a giant pick-up truck with what’s apparently called a kangaroo bumper.  Unfortunately, as I thought, slimer was no match for him, but, the driver was nice as we sorted everything out.  The insurance company was great – yay Progressive, and at least that bit was sorted pretty quickly.

Then, then I wasn’t sure what to do.  Brian was I work, so I sent him a text and a few photos….then called my mom.  Cause, well, what else do you do.  After chatting with my parents for a bit, I decided to go to about my business as planned – headed back to the gym to sign up and then to my nail appointment.  I was either going to have a scary drive home now or an hour and a half from now, right?  And with the adrenaline running strong, I didn’t really feel all that sore.

So, with my nails a pretty color, a plan in place to get to the race in the morning, and a double check that my bumper wasn’t going to fall off on the 101, I headed home.  It wasn’t as scary as I thought it might be, though I did have someone run a stop sign in Noe Valley and try to take me out…cause that’s exactly what I needed…..What I did need was to be home, with some wine, and a couch…and a massage – now that the adrenaline was wearing off, I was definitely feeling the soreness.

I woke up the next morning, but not nearly as sore as I thought I might be.  After spending the night
between being terrified that I was going to wake up in a world of hurt and feeling like I was going to
be sick (but in retrospect was probably due to soreness from my abs), I was really afraid for what I might feel like, but other than a few creaks and groans, it wasn’t too bad.

I spent Saturday in the same fashion I’ve spent the past few weekends – adventuring on the trails; as a course marker, sweeper, race photographer, aid station worker, shuttle driver, and everything in between.  Its been so much fun….and, as I said last Sunday, always an adventure.  And really, with as crazy as life has been, Coastal Trails has been my constant and for that, I will be forever grateful. Thankfully, this weekend was a shorter race and there wasn’t any marking or sweeping involved.  Typically, I love marking and sweeping, but it was almost like I’d gotten hit by a truck or something.  Nothing a couple of Advil couldn’t fix, and I think walking around actually helped me loosen up a bit.  And, as always, working the race was a ton of fun….I’m kind of sad that I can’t go back until October.

Yesterday, I decided to officially get back into running and headed over to Mt. Tam with Brian and his friend Ann.  I got in an eight mile summit run and then two miles on some flat ground, because what else would you do when you’ve been cleared to run for a week and you were in a car accident two days prior.  Well, my idea of taking it easy was always different than everyone else’s…anyway, I had so much fun running, and maybe if I add two or five or so miles each week, I’ll be ready for north face…..haha. God help me.

Monday, we hit the gym and then had a BBQ with our friends Sean and Chiara.  Delicious Mac and cheese and steak, and fun drinks and games. Great way to spend Labor Day – can’t wait to head to Tahoe in a couple of weeks.  A mini vacation is going to be amazing.

Other than that, I’m looking forward to sorting out the car nightmare – both the insurance and the actual car.  And its affect on me…I’m not sure I’ve ever looked forward to a visit to the chiropractor more.

Until next time…

Impromptu Chicago Vacation

So today started out as a normal travel day.  Early morning, easy pass through security, lots of seats at the gate.  And then the flight computer was broken….but they started boarding….then they stopped boarding.  We’re checking connecting flights, they said.  Unless you’re going to Reno, don’t worry, they said.  If we leave by 11:30, all connections will be fine, they said.  We were ready to leave by 11:35….

Then something else broke.  Don’t worry, they said – connections are fine.  Here are all the gates for connecting flights…..if we didn’t read your gate, you don’t have a problem, they said.  I never heard Oakland….of course, my first thought was that I mis-calculated the time in flight and the time difference and actually had an hour.  They wouldn’t just forget me, right??  I decided I must have screwed something up, and continued swapping airline horror stories with the couple from Portland that was seated next to me.  Small world – she was from Redwood City (where I just took a job), visiting family in Buffalo.

Once we landed, I knew something was off.  My phone confirmed the time – 12:21….my flight was planned to leave at 12:15.  No email or text stating it was delayed….but, they were holding the Portland and Reno flights….so, maybe I was going to get lucky?  Maybe they just forgot to mention it?

I made a beeline for the flight monitors as soon as I was off the plane: Nashville…Omaha…Orlando….Oakland?  Anybody going to Oakland?  Does my flight exist?  I went to the first gate I saw and asked for help.  Yup, they confirmed that my flight left.  Awesome.  So….what now?  She’s messing with the computer to see when they can get me out….tomorrow 6:20pm.  uhhh….ok.  So, where’s my hotel voucher.  Oh wait, there’s nothing in her email about my flight delay being mechanical, so no voucher for me.  But she gave me a card and I can call the number on the card and they should be able to help me out (never mind there’s no phone number on the card)….she sends me along to the next gate over where there’s a plane headed to San Francisco that I can maybe be standby on.  Great…..

After my somewhat disappointing interaction at the first gate and feeling abandoned by Southwest, I headed over to the San Francisco gate.  No one was there and the jet way door was closed, neither of which was a good sign, so I waited in line at the desk there.  Coincidentally, I get behind another lady trying to get to the bay area.  The guy tells her the same thing the other lady told me, but somehow she got on a flight to San Jose…and I think they’re paying for her cab to Oakland or San Francisco or where ever she’s going.  I also watched them give another guy a food voucher.  Finally, it’s my turn.  I asked the lady if there was a customer service desk at the airport, and once she told me it was her, I handed her the card the previous desk had given me, and explained the situation.  Of course, she tells me the card isn’t going to get me anywhere.  However, her boss (who was helping the other Bay Area passenger) told her if I was on the Buffalo flight to give me the hotel voucher.  So I got that, then asked about food….so she gave me one meal voucher.  Ok, not trying to be difficult, but I have at least five meals (vs. the one I was planning on) between now and 6:20pm tomorrow, which is the next time you can get me out.  She tells me customer service should be able to help me sort that out…based on previous experiences, they are pretty helpful, so I thanked her for her help and went on my way.

Since my food voucher was going to expire today (and I was pretty hungry), I decided to grab a bite before leaving the airport.  Went to Harry Carey’s for a delicious lunch of Chianti and Fettuccine…yum.  Especially yummy since I didn’t know what or when I would be eating next.  

After lunch, I found my way out of the airport – pretty quick when you don’t have any bags – and found the sign for the Midway Hotel Shuttles.  I waited for a few minutes, along with a few others standing in a the general vicinity, but then had a fleeting thought that maybe I needed to call the hotel so they would send the shuttle to come get me.  Did a quick google on the phone and called the Midway Hampton.  Yes, in fact, you do need to call.  The little red bus showed up less than five minutes later (as the lady told me it would) and just about everyone there jumped on it.  Was I the only one who thought to call for it?  How long had these people been waiting before I got there?

Checking into the hotel was pretty painless.  Got a room easily and there’s even free breakfast, though I’m pretty sure I’m going to miss that tomorrow.  The nice lady at the desk even gave me a toothbrush and found a phone charger in the lost and found for me to borrow.

After getting to my room and figuring out exactly how the key works…of course it’s all it has on it is a picture of kids in a wagon and the caption, ‘backseat driver’, no arrow or anything to indicate how to use it in the door.  I call Southwest to figure out how to get reimbursed for the additional meals and to check and see if there’s another flight they could get me on.  The good news, I can get out at 6am tomorrow….ugh for the earliness, but yay I’ll get home and can take care of the pets.  Of course, they can’t check me in until tomorrow morning, so I’m sure I’ll be at the back of the C’s….goodbye B8….The maybe good news, only customer service at HQ can deal with any meal reimbursements and they aren’t open until Monday.  Ok, I’ll call them tomorrow, last time I called the HQ service people, they were super helpful, but really??  No one else is empowered to do anything in this situation?  Wouldn’t it be easier for the people at the airport to be able to handle it and be done?

Once I was off the phone with the airlines, I took off for Walmart…..the only thing I really needed was a bottle of contact solution.  I mean, I wanted wine and deodorant would be a nice courtesy to the people on the plane tomorrow, but being able to see was the main driver.  So, I headed off to what I believe is the same Walmart Brian and I went to a few summers ago when we were sure we were going to star on the next episode of The First 48.  It looked like it was going to pour (of course, I’d get my storm now…) and at some point, raindrops did start falling.  At that point I started jogging, thank you knee for holding up during that one, but the rain held off.  It even held off for me to get back to the hotel, despite the people in front of me having the poor cashier price check all 30 of their items.  All in all, a successful trip….contact solution, wine, and deodorant.  And there was a Subway in the Walmart, so I have a sandwich for later.  

Shortly after returning to my room, I realize that while I have procured a bottle of wine, I have no way to open it.  So, being the tech savvy person I am, I look on google for ways to open a bottle of wine without an opener.  Use a knife….yup, definitely don’t have that.  Put it in a shoe and bang it against a wall…hmmm, probably not the best idea in a hotel.  Use a key….ahhh, yes, I have a few of those I don’t use.  I’ve been looking for a use for that old desk key anyway….So I try that.  And break the key.  And possibly my shoulder.  So I try another key.  Not getting very far.  I briefly consider asking the front desk, but I’m pretty sure they don’t have a wine opener and have already lent me a phone charger.  So, I decide to head out on another adventure to find a wine opener, there has to be a convenience store nearby that’s closer and less sketchy of walk than Walmart, right?

So, I head out.  Somehow, the rain has held off or blown over or is probably waiting to either disturb my sleep or impede on my travel tomorrow morning.  I decide to head the opposite way of Walmart, since it looks like there are signs of life down that way as well and what looks like a liquor store on the next block.  Liquor store – sweet – they have to have a wine opener, right?  Sure, they probably did….back in 1990 before they closed.  As I get closer, I realize it’s nothing more than an abandoned building with nothing left but the awning.  A block further, there’s a Continental Sales – Lots for Less – Food, Household Goods, and More, on the corner.  That sounds promising.  A bit sketch, but promising.  And oh what a place that was….kind of like if a grocery store and a TJMaxx had a baby, this place would be it.  But, they did have a $.75 wine opener.  Score.  And, it works pretty well, I’m a little sad I have to leave it, but am pretty sure it’s not allowed on the plane.  haha.

Alright, it’s time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the fact that I’m at a hotel instead of the airport and for less than $10 have food and beverages for the evening….I mean, who doesn’t love wine in a paper cup and a sandwich from a Walmart Subway?  And Southwest, well, at the end of this you’re either going to be the prime example of customer service or the bain of my existence….only time will tell.

Until next time (hopefully from home)….over and out.