Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Moving on up

Well, once again I apologize for my extended absence and the resulting lack of new blog entries.

This is a hard time of year for me. The deficiency of Fall sunlight and the cooling temperatures each contribute in their own way to my somber, lethargic frame of mind. I have to keep reminding myself that snowboarding season is just around the corner.

To be fair, I have been in the process of moving and as a result I have been overwhelmingly busy for the last few weeks. I sold what I could and threw out most of what I could not. It's absolutely incredible the amount of "stuff" you can accumulate in the course of just a few years. The rest of my possessions deemed "worthy of keeping" are now neatly packed into a 5x5 climate controlled storage locker.

What once served the purpose of being my primary residence is now a rental property and long term investment. About the only good thing that has come out of the current state of the housing market is that the renters market is in a frenzy since people are cautious about buying.

I am going to use the next few months to save cash for some exciting vacation plans that I have in Spring.

Friday, October 3, 2008

28 Days to Make or Break a Habit

Since I have not been actively participating in any outlandish excursions as of late, I figured I would digress a bit from the traditional theme of this blog.

Recently, I decided to abstain from drinking for 28 days, and to quit smoking indefinitely as part of an annual birthday time get healthy initiative.

Here I am and proud to say that after a long and sometime stressful 28 days, I still remain alcohol and nicotine free. A major feat for myself.

Even though I smoked cigarettes primarily after drinking, I began to find that they became mutually complimentary of each other. It was hard to have a smoke without a beer in my hand or to have a beer without lighting up a smoke.

So 28 days later; goal accomplished; I stand at the decisive decision to either take the chance and test the waters or maintain my abstinence. On one hand, I feel like I can handle alcohol while still making the conscious decision not to light up. However, on the other hand it's become a personal challenge to me to see how long I can go without alcohol.

Will let you know.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Natures Warning

A mild, balmy breeze nips through the outer layer of polyester protection, propelling itself deep into my skin. A tingling shiver abruptly runs the length of my spine inciting goosebumps throughout my upper cavity.

I step from the cool and temperate shadows of the trees and into the overwhelming radiance of the brilliant sun. And as I do, a crisp dew glistens in the morning sunlight just before it silently permeates my leather boots.

Snaps, crackles, and thrashes reverberate throughout the forest. I am reminded that the time is ripe for all kingdom and species to diligently assemble provisions for the impending threat of winter.

Today is the the third day of autumn.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fun and Mishaps on the Shenandoah

So a few friends and I took a brief weekend trip out to the rural Shenandoah Valley for a much needed end of summer weekend getaway.

Saturday morning Sal, Sancho and I crammed all of our outdoor equipment into the back of my truck with not an inch to spare and set out on Route 66 westbound.

We ended up getting to our destination (the Down River Canoe Company) well before the rest of our crew so we took the initiative to set up our tents and camping equipment at our campsite nearby.

I had brought most of my extra gear for Bryan and his wife who are novice campers.

A couple of hours later we were loaded into a bright yellow school bus and driven the three miles upstream by an older butch looking woman.

Our goal was to float down and into our campsites. The river was seasonably low and moving at a snails pace. In a couple locations we were forced to get off of our inner tubes and push ourselves over rocks. "That's ok", I thought. "It's all about the relaxation."

At one point the river picked up and we managed to find a pretty decent sized swimming hole. Not too long after that I hopped off my raft to "relieve myself" of all the beer I had consumed. While I was attempting to leap back onto the raft, my foot slipped off a flat rock and managed to impale itself on a very sharp rock adjacent to the flat one. Blood immediately began gushing down my foot. I was concerned because as beautiful as the Shenandoah is, I knew of its reputation as a make shift sewer system for dairy cattle.

Retrospectively, I should have gotten medical attention immediately. But so it goes. After a long day of being in the open sun and rafting we finally made it to the Low Water Bridge.

Shortly thereafter with overwhelming appetites we started up the grill and threw on some hot dogs and burgers that would end up taking over 4 hours to cook.

We ended up getting a blazing campfire going and cooking our dogs over it. Even though I've sworn off eating pork, I was so hungry that I chose to disregard my moral principles and chow down on a dog or two.

The next morning the aching in my foot was starting to get the better of me. After the hour and a half drive back to DC, I hobbled over to Matilda's house to show her my battle wounds. She insisted that I go to Urgent Care and get stitches immediately. After thinking about it for a minute and remembering that the open sore on my foot had been marinating in the foul water of Shenandoah river for quite a while I decided it might be a good idea to get it looked at.

Three hours later I found myself face down on a doctors bed and a crusty doctor injecting my foot with Novocaine. Talk about excruciating pain! The needles hurt more than the abrasion. The doctor said that I had punctured my foot pretty deep and that it was at risk for an infection.

I am still taking my antibiotics and can not put pressure on the back of my foot.

All injuries aside, it still turned out to be a beautiful weekend.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cape Follow Up

So, I've been extremely bad about updating my blog lately. Chalk it up to two parts "lack of energy", a teaspoon of "loss of ambition" with a smidgen of "scarcity of time"? ... or just call me a lazy stooge.

After a three year hiatus from the outer extremities of Massachusetts's, my plane touched down tenderly at Logan International airport slightly ahead of schedule. Imagine that! Just a few minutes later I found myself nervously awaiting on my large backpack that happened to be meticulously packed with a weeks worth of provisions. After a few anxious minutes, I grabbed my pack and hopped aboard a small water taxi in search of the high speed ferry.

The sixty mile ride across Cape Cod Bay aboard The Provincetown III would prove itself to be more of a gay cruise than a means of transportation for the overwhelming majority of the people on the boat. Public displays of affection were indiscreet and in no short supply, not that I'm complaining. In fact, beyond seeing a whale breach, it was one of the more amusing happenings on the ninety minute ride.

The ferry gingerly pulled in to the Provincetown pier around 1:30 pm. A close friend of my parents was kind enough to volunteer to pick me up.

Thanks to brother Rick my entire tent was already set up. This was already looking to be a great vacation.

The next day was even better. The weather was perfect and we went down to Head of the Meadow beach for our first beach day. Had I known that this would be one of our only beach days, I would have stayed longer. In any case, it was great to see my brother Tim in the ocean for the first time in 17 years. He was the first one in the ocean and the last out, none of my nieces or nephews had the stamina to stay in longer.

After a couple of days of rain in the campground, our spirits were becoming slightly frazzled. Tim and I took the liberty to buy about five pounds of Mussels and two dozen clams. Since my stomach was slightly queasy from all the Miller Lite swilled the night before, Tim was on his own. About an hour later, an empty twelve pack of Budweiser and a full garbage can of what was just previously five pounds of mussels stood before Tim.

During the nights we managed to commandeer someone else's beach fire almost every night. Rick, Tim, Jim and I sat by the ocean drinking beer, smoking cigars and taking it all in.

The following day I bought some sand eels at the bait store and threw in a line to see what was biting. Apparently crabs have a fondness for sand eels because I was constantly re-baiting my hook. I also tried to do some snorkeling and ended up entangled in some guys fishing line. I didn't see a damn thing. I'm convinced Cape Cod is now devoid of sea life (except crabs).

The last few days were somewhat stressful. Powerful wind storms had picked up. Everyone was in the mood to get on home. The next morning everyone took off except for my mother, Kevin, his family and myself. It was odd not having everyone around and I was looking forward to getting home myself as well.

The following day Kevin dropped me off in P-town and I hopped on board the ferry back to Boston. On the way back I noticed many of the same people from the ride over. However, instead of a loud festive atmosphere, most people were passed out, sprawled across seats or drinking bottled water. I laughed to myself. "It must be hard being gay".

Oh and on a final note, while sitting in the Boston airport waiting for my plane to come in from Washington I heard someone say "Thanks John", I looked up and who else would it have been? None other than John Kerry!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cape Cod... Drink or Destination?

Cape Cod

Pour 1oz. Vodka
Mix Cranberry Juice
add Lime Wedge


Spend seven days languishing in a lounge chair on the tip of the outer Cape with your entire immediate family minus 1 brother and 2 nieces, 525 miles from the politically charged, manic chaos that has come to define Washington, DC.

"I'll take the latter, extra heavy on the family please."

One to two weeks out of the summer in Cape Cod while growing up was a staple of my childhood. While I've finally come of age to appreciate it, this opportunity will be more than cherished. This will be the first time for many, many years that my entire family will all be vacationing there together.

Next week, you may be able to find me combing the local sea shore in a dire attempt to fetch the perfect sand dollar, carelessly strolling through Provincetown watching the hedonistic circus atmosphere take place, or sipping a Bloody Mary and gazing off into the horizon.

Cape Cod... one of the few places where an "anything goes" mindset is not just the norm, it's a constitutional requirement precedented by decades of overtly liberal, entertaining and outlandish folk.

Whether you go to the Cape to relax, body surf, fish, or engage in sexual libidinous behavior on the beach as identified in this article, it's a great place to be.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Everything is NOT All Good

Not too far beyond the precipice of the "mid-summer", an unwanted anxiety slowly begins to find its way into my well being.

Flashbacks to 30 degree temperatures, impending snow storm warnings, and complete incarceration for four months bring out my gag reflex.

Slowly but methodically, one day at a time, the later the summer gets the more my seasonal anxiety begins to strengthen its grip on my conscious.

That being said, last winter I made a pact to myself that I would get out and into the wild in order to spend as much time as I could attending festivals, hiking and camping. I'm confident that if some sort of audit was conducted at this very moment my progress report would reflect a modest B-. Had I not gone to Alaska and done some pretty arduous hiking and fishing I think I'd coast by with a simple C.

Which brings me to why everything is not All Good...

All Good festival - Martins Mountain Top, Masontown, WV the apex of all that summarizes my summers objectives and goals. Held annually, All Good festival brings about 30,000 jamsters from all over the states, as well as top notch talent consisting of the likes of Dark Star Orchestra, Perpetual Groove, Phil Lesh, etc... the list goes on.

Unfortunately for me, this year I've decided not to attend. It's not the three and half hour drive out to West Virginia, it's not the $150 ticket price, ok... well that may have something to do with it. It's the cost of everything god damn it! (230 miles x 2 = 460 total miles), assuming 20 miles per gallon in my truck comes out to approximately 23 gallons of fuel burned. 23 x $4.09 gass = ~$100.

Now take into account food and beverage (of which are also completely inflated) and you end up with a $400 dollar-2 day weekend. Good times or not, I just can't bring myself to do it. I can think of many other "good times" to be had that come in the shape of a 4o ounce cold dark bottle, a good book and a poolside lounge chair.

So, suffice it to say, with my spirits slightly dampened and my summer report card floundering, I'm going to try to make the best of my weekend out on the river again! My show must go on.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Moo Moo's First Swim

Meet Miss Emma, allegedly the fastest, strongest, most talented brindled pit bull terrier to ever traverse the volatile, treacherous and sometimes deadly waters of the upper Occoquan Reservoir.

Local legend has it that Miss Emma once pulled three burly sailors to safety after the vessel they were in had stumbled upon an iceberg and capsized.

Yup... I know what you're thinking, "Icebergs in the Occoquan?", "A 30 pound mongrel Pit Bull mixed breed mutt pulling men to safety?".

What can I say? I heard about it from a friends cousin's sister's boyfriends brother in-law! He said it happened to his best friend and that his wife's uncle saw it all happen.

Anyways, here she is with her doggy vest on all jazzed up to swim in the Occoquan. We took her out there Saturday.

What a stunningly gorgeous day. The optimal temperature, moderately sunny, and a private cove just a stones throw from my house made it feel like a sliver of our own paradise for a day.

Believe it or not, for as small a dog as she is, she kicked ass! I'm so proud of little muttsy. I didn't even have to coax her into the water at first. She chased a few sticks up to her shoulders.
Then after a few confidence boosters I dragged her about 100 ft out into the water and watched her swim back to shore. I thought I might have even seen a few tail wags in there.

At one point, like a receiver showing off by spiking a football, she grabbed a piece of floating Styrofoam and brought it into shore.

Not only do I have the best swimming pit bull this side of the Mississippi, I've also got a dog that is more environmentally conscious than myself.

My dog is green. How about yours?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

It's Good to be King

This by far is indisputably my most favorite picture that I took throughout my brief travel to Alaska.

Proudly perched on the top of his own self declared throne, located somewhere in the vicinity of 90 miles out in the Prince William Sound of southern Alaska, it was more than obvious that "King" owned this jagged, inhospitable rock sculpture as well as the two accompanying islands found near by.

While his harem of female sea lions engrossed themselves in barking in a primal attempt to protect their fertile breading grounds (at Kings behest of course) King barely exerted enough energy to pretend to care.

While female sea lions would fight tooth to flipper in order to defend the smallest nook of serrated, jagged, sharp rock, comparatively speaking, Kings domain consisted of a wide swath of flat welcoming rock exclusively reserved for the upper echelon of seal kingdom.

With his insatiable mass and domineering presence, not one junior sea lion in the local vicinity dared to challenge him.

We circled around this random rock formation in a twenty two foot aluminum fishing boat, gawking at this unreal environment. While we exchanged fleeting glances amongst each other, I felt that we were all thinking the same thing and discretely wondering if we were really in the United States proper.

Later on in the afternoon we witnessed two humpback whales performing their mating rituals while we circled around several gregarious porpoises swimming curiously around the boat.

Although fishing was a bit slow that day, I did manage to convince a small halibut to bite my hook. Please excuse the red faced look of utter constipation on my face as I had just gaffed a fish half the size of my body in a proud moment.

Later on, we decided to stop by one of the many islands in the Prince William Sound. These islands had the inviting look of paradise (as seen on TV). But after stepping off the boat with our waiters on, the bone chilling coldness of the salty water penetrated right through the neoprene protection and rested itself directly into my inner core . It was a startling realization that this environment played well on the eyes but was inhabitable. In any case, it was absolutely surreal.

This was undeniably the best part of my trip! I hope everyone in their life time gets to see something this amazing!!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Rushing Russian

We averaged somewhere in the nature of four to five hours of sleep per night. After climbing snow saturated mountains, fording rivers, all the while subsisting on a steady diet of granola, beef jerky and silt tainted glacier water it was time to relax.

Relaxation came in the form of fishing for salmon in the Russian River.

"The Russian" as the locals call it is one of the most heavily fished sockeye salmon streams in Alaska. Fortunately or unfortunately for us, the salmon that coaxed us into coming to the Russian that day were running a few weeks behind their migratory schedule. Reaping the benefits of this irregular cycle, the four of us owned the pristine waters of the Russian River for a day.

Hip waiters pulled snuggly around our chests, fishing poles in hand, the crew and I struck out to catch our limit of natures bounty. Within ten minutes K-man had landed a decent sized trout.

As envious as I was, I snapped this picture and started walking upstream more than eager to stake out my own ground. I couldn't help but notice how absolutely gorgeous it was out there. The temperature peaked around 65 degrees, the sun was luminously shining and the air smelled of crisp mountain dew.

Besides K-man catching what appeared to be the same trout over again, as time went on fishing became something less than a fruitful effort.

Fruitless or not, it was still a very surreal and peaceful time. As I stood there in the stream listening to the water trickle by, I thought to myself how far I was from home.

As we were wrapping up and walking back to the car, Sal suddenly stopped and anxiously pointed across the stream.

A few seconds later a brown grizzly bear came lumbering through the brush. Indiscreetly trudging through the thicket and rooting around for salmon scraps this bear had no shame. Hell, we were in his backyard. This was our first bear sighting and it happened to be a grizzly.

It took a few seconds for the novelty to wear off and for me to realize that this primal beast was foraging around for it's next meal not more than 50 feet across a shallow stream from us.

While most of the typical Alaskan wildlife eluded us on our hiking excursion, this was definitely a convenient moment for us to get a taste of our first bear sighting. We were standing fairly close to the stairs up to the parking lot.

There was another fisherman standing just out of frame on the same side as the bear. Moments after seeing this grizzly the four of us started screaming... "GRIZZLY, GRIZZLY, GRIZZLY!!!".

I wish I was able to capture the look on this poor souls face. It was absolutely priceless.

Instinctualy, the man darted across that stream with little to no concern for the potential of drowning. Mind you that this was the same part of the stream I managed to get half way across earlier in the day and decided to turn around because it was a little too forceful for my tastes.

Even though I did not even catch a snag it was a great day.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Crossing Part II

In my mind there were two distinct parts to this hike. I have categorized them as before the crossing, and after the crossing.

So allow me to explain. There were at least two or three snow crossings before this one. These slippery, snow filled crossings were as I've alluded to in my previous posts "manageable".

Manageable in the sense that serious bodily harm and/or death was not an imminent factor. As we approached the last crossing it initially seemed that it would be more or less similar to the others.

After painstakingly walking heel to toe for about 15 feet onto this crossing, I realized that it felt different. This embankment seemed to be pitched at a much steeper grade than previous passes. When I looked ahead to try to make out the end of the crossing it also appeared to be a lot lengthier as well.

It wasn't until I was approximately 1/4 of the way across before I gained up enough courage to look down. What I saw didn't immediately resonate in my brain. A long, snow filled, icy slope complete with a 3500 foot fall off of the mountain winked back at me. I was in complete disbelief. "What the fuck am I doing?", "I'm a calculated risk taker", "This is bullshit".

It is important to understand that the angle of this particular crossing was on par with any black diamond ski slope that I have ever skied on.

Lacking an ice ax or spiked shoes, if I had slipped, it is a forgone conclusion that I would have slid right off of the side of that mountain into the abyss. It was revealed to me a few minutes after completing this crossing that someone had recently died at the very same spot a week before.

Gathering what senses I had left, I managed to concentrate and continue on. At a couple of points I could feel my legs trembling from a variety of factors. The stress of walking heel to toe, shouldering a 40 pound bag slumped over my back, and lets not forget sheer terror. I remember at one point about half way through where I momentarily went into full panic attack mode. Somehow I was able to coach my nervous system out of it.

About three quarters of the way across the snow became noticeably harder which subsequently made it more difficult to gain any sort of reliable footing. Inch by inch, I walked slowly until I had reached the end of the crossing.

Sitting on this rock shortly after completing the crossing, I was actually angry at myself for doing this. I still have mixed feelings about this and whether I should have done it or not.

The Crossing Part I

We began our Alaskan adventure in the Chugach National Forest. Tasked with completing the Crow Pass Trail in two days, I confess, I was on edge from the get go. What about bears? Would seven granola bars suffice if we had to stay an extra day? How am I going to carry a 40lb backpack 27 miles?

Fiddling through my backpack and anxiously awaiting our destination, I knew my fate was sealed for me right around the the time we began navigating a remote, unforgiving, narrow dirt road one mile from the Crow Pass trail head. There was no turning back.

Around ten o'clock a.m we met up with the other two hikers and began assembling the last of our 40 pound backpacks. A few group photo's were taken, a couple "don't get eaten by a bear" jokes were cracked, and shortly there after we started our ascent to a higher elevation.

The initial climb was undeniably intense. Straight uphill, one of the more "in shape" members of our party confessed that he was already winded. As a result we took a brief rest. Shortly after recovering our winded lungs we came upon a section of the trail with several inches of snow.

One of the more distinct memory's that I have of the initial part of this hike was a cave that was carved out of snow by a bear that Sal had pointed out.

Here it was mid June and I was laboriously trudging through several inches of snow admiring bear caves. Where the hell was I, this is so foreign?

After several hundred more feet, aching legs complimented by sore backs we reached the three mile marker ..."the cabin".

From here it was less of a climb per say and more of an endurance of will power, nerves, and shear energy.

I honestly do not remember much from this point until we reached the first snow crossing (perhaps 2-3 more miles?). The first few crossings were hairy to say the least but in retrospect absolutely manageable.

Equipped with all the latest REI gear that a DC suburbanite hiker can get his hands on, one thing became apparent, I was completely unprepared for and lacked equipment for anything beyond these easy snow crossings.

Contintued in next blog...

Alaska - "The Last Frontier"

"Foreign, beautiful, immense, picturesque, vast, rugged, and dangerous".

These are just some of the adjectives that come to mind when someone asks me about my experiences in Alaska.

If one were to take notice, the phrase "Alaska the last frontier", is emboldened onto the states official license plate.

I found this phrase resonating throughout my head as we maneuvered over the many twists and turns of the Alaskan-Canadian highway in our rented four door, all wheel drive, Ford Escape.

Through tunnels, around snow capped mountains, and over scenic bridges we drove. The images of surrounding beauty were hard to reconcile with my protective conscious and knowing that the closest grocery store, car mechanic, or god forbid a hospital were hours away.

While thinking about "The Last Frontier" phrase, it became apparent that the large industrial complexes, corporate strip malls, incandescent billboards and fast food enterprises that have become synonymous with driving in much of the lower 48 states ceased to exist in this part of the state.

On one level, I found the tranquility to be a very novel concept to me. On the other, a host for many potentially horrifying scenarios. For instance, a typical Alaskan road side scenic pull off featured unfathomable views complimented with steep drop offs complete with sharp, unforgiving, rocky crags below.

I can only assume that building a protective barrier to protect aggressive tourists from plummeting to certain death and disfigurement must have been beyond the scope of Alaskan Tourist Association's budget. It made me wonder how many tourists a year stumble over cliffs or off of trails in an ill fated attempt to capture that "closer shot".

Concerning the people of Alaska, there were several things I admired about the people that lived in this environment. Here are a couple observations that are more notable. After several interactions with Alaskan residents and natives, not a single person mentioned anything considered "less desirable" about living there. Even after setting out bait such as "how do you feel about the 22 hours of darkness during the winter?". "That's ok, it just makes me appreciate summer that much more." Came the replies.

I also appreciated their social interactions. A comment about outdoor recreation often served as a great ice breaker. "I heard the Kings are running two weeks late in the Russian this season", is an example of one I heard. Whether it be hunting bears, angling for salmon, or trapping small game, activities took more social precedence than the standard "what do you do for a living" so commonly heard around Washington, DC.

In conclusion, twelve hundred miles later, a crust of dust, mud, and tar served as the outer coating on our previously sparkling white Ford Escape. After twelve hundred miles, several impromptu fishing trips, multiple cities covered, I felt dignified that we had covered such a substantial distance in Alaska. It wasn't until later when I looked on a map and realized that we barely put a dent into the Kenai Peninsula!

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Well, I'm back from Aleyaska <-- purposely spelled that way! And all I can say is wow, I'm completely drained of thoughts. I need a few days to "decompress"... if you will. Initial thoughts are just too overwhelming to even consider at this point. I hope you read on because I will be putting some serious thought and effort into this over the next couple of weeks!

Monday, June 9, 2008

ANC Bound By Way Of ROC

In approximately 48 hours from the time this blog is assumed to be published, I will be flying high in the open sky on my way to the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Alaska is not a truck. It's not something that you just dump something on. It's a series of tubes!!!

So here is my tentative schedule.

4:00 pm: I strut my Xanax contaminated, jet lagged, and discombobulated body off the plane and make an effort to assimilate to my new surroundings.
~5:00 pm: I wander around Anchorage trying to find the hostel (mm... hrrmmm... that's "hostel" and not "hotel") that I've made reservations at.

$25 a night for a bunk style bed isn't so bad. And hell, I can finally check this off of my list of things to do before I die.

12:00 pm: I catch a cab and head back towards the airport to anxiously await my three friends arrivals.

7:00 am: We leave Wasilla, stop to pick up some last minute provisions and then it's off to the Crow Pass Trail head.
~1:00 pm: I run from an aggressive bear as fast as I can with a 45 pound internal frame Kelty back-pack strapped to me.
~7:00 pm: We set up camp and I mend my left arm back onto my torso with the stitches in my first aid kit.

Finish 27 mile hike and get on the road back to Wasilla to get rest.

It's off to Denali for some sight seeing and fishing.

Clean up, drag a razor across my face, pop some Xanax and hop a seaplane for our next excursion... Bald Mountain Air Service.

~8:00 am: Brings us to our Halibut fishing trip. (This event is definitely a contender for my most eagerly anticipated experience).
~8:00 pm: Go out to catch some nightlife in Anchorage. This is going to be somewhat difficult for me since I've recently put a moratorium on my alcohol consumption.

Two friends depart.
~8:00 pm: More nightlife???

I cruise back to Rochester in a Boeing 757, Xanax coursing through my bloodstream, exhausted, all the while trying to restore what's left of the pieces to my shattered sleep/eat/work cycle.

Stay tuned... there will be a lot more to come very soon...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Weekend Paradise Under Water

On a self reflective note, I just want to say that this blog has become borderline therapeutic for me. I've never kept a blog before as I'm a bit of a private person but there are stories that need to be told.

As I've learned from other peoples blogs, namelessness is an important pillar of blogging, so I've changed all names for the sake of friendship liabilities.

On a whim, Sal and I drove out to Assateague Island on Marylands Eastern Shore. With the self imposed promise of a good time, a weekend of camping, crabbing, fishing, and relaxation awaited the both of us.

Less than 24 hours later, we found ourselves scrambling to get off of Assateague Island in a frenzied, frantic mess that could be characterized by soaking wet clothes, water damaged cell phones, and a demoralizing sense of failure (at least on my part).

Things change quickly. The stock market fluctuates on a moments notice, the political climate changes on a day to day basis, life seems to change on more of a granular path. However, old Mother Nature abides exclusively to her own schedule.

After a long day of drinking beer, crabbing, fishing, and camping, Mother Nature decided to test our wills and make us earn our keep of crabs, mussels and potential fun times to be had.

What seemed like the end to a great day turned into havoc as a woman I met on the beach warned me about an impending tornado on the island.

After discussing it with our camping family, we decided we needed to act sooner rather than later and start packing up our gear. Not five minutes later, a mass of dark clouds rolled over our campsite. Soaking us with rain... lighting and thunder began to illuminate the sky. People began scrambling to pack their gear and get the hell off of that island as soon as possible.

As the winds picked up, panic ensued... fellow campers began ditching tents, chairs and camping supplies into the trees in a chaotic rush to get off of the island.

Car horns began beeping. Screams, shouts, and crying children could be heard. It was every man, woman and child for themselves. It was at this moment I decided I would become a pussy for the time being, but good ole Sal had his own agenda. In times of crisis people look to others for guidance. People that keep their composure and think logically typically emerge as born leaders. Thank god for Sal cause I had lost it.

A long story short, after packing up tents, food, coolers, and supplies we made it off the island in about 45 minutes. Drenched in rain water, swamped clothes and an accelerated pulse, after a few stops we found ourselves back home in DC. Safe and sound.

Thank you Sal for your level head and being the voice of reason! You have a natural talent.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Hotlanta? O RLY?

After the wet weekend in Aiken, SC... duty called in Atlanta, GA for the week. The software I work on was under evaluation by the U.S. Army at Fort Gillem just outside of Atlanta.

I left Aiken early Sunday morning with quit a hangover and a vow to myself not to drink for a few days. Two hours later, I found myself sitting at a Ruby Tuesdays reading the newspaper with a frosty mug of IPA in my hand. "My name is Tom and I'm an alcoholic." "Hello Tom."

The weather was horrible. From what I understand, stricken by months of drought and less than a 90-day supply of water, I was able to single handily liberate the city of its' drought conditions with my presence alone. Swirling gusts of winds, incessant rain, fog, drizzle, painted an ominous picture of what my week ahead would look like.

Anyways, after a couple contentious days of software testing, I managed to fit in an opportunity to drive to the city limits and hit a couple of bars. A work colleague of mine and I went out one night in the Highland area. It seemed to me like an overtly cosmopolitan/posh neighborhood. Maybe a touch of Clarendon with the mentality of Woodbridge?

The bars were enthusiastically decorated with pictures of Jimmy Carter everywhere. Ian and I hit an Oyster bar/restaurant called Fontaines Oyster House. Tuesday speical: $5.00 - Dozen Raw Gulf Oysters. I felt like my ship had come in (full of oysters of course). After guzzling a few local brews, talking business, and hounding oysters all night, we found our way back to the hotel.

Bare with me. Mind you, this is one long blog post to compensate for an entire weeks time...

Our hotel was bustling, located a stones throw from the airport it was full of new hires for Delta. The Marriott was full of chain-smoking flight attendants practicing landing procedures, memorizing airport codes, and sipping on whatever was on special at the time.

Here's a tip I learned that scares the begeeeeezuz out of me. During times of high turbulence in an airplane, I always look at the flight attendants face to try to gauge their reaction. Well, after talking to a "flight attendant in training", I learned that they are taught under those circumstances to always keep a smile on their face. I guess it's back to popping Xanax for me.

I'm going to stop here and publish now, under the realization that I've got some more recent and crazy things to blog about. I'll touch back on this post when I get the time. Keep reading it's going to get good!