December 19, 2011

Back At It

It's definitely time to get back at it.  I'm not sure why I constantly procrastinate about writing, but I've always been that way. It's the same feeling that I get when I know I've spent too much money during the month; I know that I need to log into my bank account to check my balance, I just don't want to.  It's not as if money will magically appear and replace the cushion that I just pissed away, but it always seems like something that will be easier tomorrow.  And so it is with writing.  Nothing looks worse than a big gap in a journal, but the idea of "fixing it tomorrow" only widens the gap.

So here I am to close the gap. I've noticed that it's either times of joy or times of frustration that tend to motivate me the most to write, and today it's probably a little of both.  I'm frustrated by the fact that too often in our lives our efforts and driving force are misunderstood. Not because our motives are unclear or because we're attempting to hide something, but because it's so much easier for people to take a snapshot of what you're doing and apply their own interpretation of your reasons and motives for doing it.  Rather than question, they condemn. Rather than ask, they accuse. Granted, I've been in both sets of shoes and will likely fill both sets again in the future, but wouldn't our interpersonal relationships be so much better if we simply started at Square One?

The fact that this bothers me so much is a pretty good indicator of my own personal guilt in the matter.  This serves as a nice little wake-up call (New Year's Resolution, perhaps?) that it's time to make some positive changes in the way I work in the world.  Seeing something "wrong" and approaching the person suspected of wrongdoing is often the hardest step to take.  The easier route, and more frequently traveled, is to take that view back to the safety of your clique and allow them to reaffirm that your thoughts are (of course) correct.  More often than not, however, information comes to light which crumbles your initial opinion and, if you're like me, makes you feel like an idiot in the end.  Instead of spreading untruths and causing people undue stress maybe we could all just start at the first rung of the ladder and climb from there. Chances are, the explanation that you receive at that first rung will be enough to make you let go of the ladder and walk away.

But enough bitching and moaning about people whose actions I can't control! Christmastime is here, and I couldn't be happier about it!  The last few years have been a little anticlimactic for me at Christmas, but this year has been so much more rewarding already.  There is true joy and excitement from my kids this year for the big day.  My grandparents will be here in two days, and I'm so glad that they'll get to spend lots of time with the girls. My only downer for the season is that I'm working both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, which is something I haven't done since the long ago bachelor days. 

So once again, I hope the entries keep coming.  It's hard to believe that only 12 days remain in 2011 because it seems like it just started.  Didn't we JUST drive to Phoenix?  In 10 days we'll be flying to Southern California for our third Oregon bowl game in as many years.  How fortunate I am to be able to make these trips with my wife! I am especially thankful around this time of year for all that I have. A loving wife, healthy, thriving children, a fantastic career, and a supportive family.  Life is rarely boring, and all too often flying by in a blur.

January 14, 2011

Wrap It Up

We pulled the ol' Suburban into the driveway last night around 6pm.  After 11 days, 3 states, and over 2,700 miles this was the biggest trip that we've ever taken as an entire family.  Looking back, it all went so well that I know I'd do it all over again.  We learned that our girls are just spectacular travelers; there wasn't one breakdown or crying fit to be had on the road, and as soon as we hit a destination they were just so happy to play and have fun together.  It really makes me look forward to the next road trip, where ever that may be.
Morning drinks...why not?!?

OK, so let's get down the the big game!  What an EXPERIENCE!  It was like the Rose Bowl atmosphere magnified by 50.  There is just no way to describe the feeling of being in a plaza with 16,000 Duck fans during the pep rally, or tailgating in the parking lot of the National Championship game!  Just amazing...

Tailgate Time.  Whiskey shots?  Really?!?

So on game day we headed out early to the stadium to meet up with our group of friends.  We left at 10:30 and were having the first beer of the morning at the Saddleback Ranch Chop House by 11:00am.  After breakfast there we walked by the designated ticket scalping area to get a feel of prices.  Upper level seats were going for $2,000 to $3,000 per ticket, so we moseyed into the parking lot and began to tailgate and meet lots of other Duck fans from Oregon and abroad. Even cam newton couldn't afford THOSE prices!

We partied it up until about 90 minutes before game time and then went back to the scalpers area.  I was really expecting prices to dive as kickoff approached, but not this time.  As we waited and watched, NO ONE was buying and the scalpers were still asking $1,800 a ticket for uppers.  As we reached 10 minutes before kickoff, we decided to head into the Westgate plaza area to watch the game on their HUGE HDTV.  This thing must have been a 50 foot screen that is normally a billboard but became the viewing screen for the game.  It was all we needed...there were fans of both teams everywhere and it was just like standing in the stadium.

My Aunt & Uncle live on Cameron Street. 
Our "seats" for the game.
Afterwards, most AU fans were pretty gracious, but we were in no mood to stick around.  We headed back to Phoenix and called it a night.  Tuesday morning we woke up and headed back to Rancho to pick up the kids.  After a quick night out with the family for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory we were back to bed to head to Windsor in the morning.  All day on the road Wednesday led us to Windsor and an improvised home cooked meal.  A quick breakfast on Thursday and it was a LONG drive home in the rain on Thursday. 

Happy to be on the road! Amazing!
Leaving Southern California.
So while I would have loved to have come home with the big trophy, it was a fantastic trip nonetheless!  A great time with family, friends, and fellow Ducks!  Can't wait to do it again!

January 9, 2011

Ducks Land In Phoenix...This Duck Gets Older

Well, after a 5 hour drive from Rancho Cucamonga we pulled into Phoenix a little tired and road-weary, but we were quickly brought back to life by the house full of Oregon fans that we're staying with!  Many thanks to Shawn and Karen Gourley, and Shawn's parents, for putting us up in their spare room for the weekend.  The hospitality is awesome!

So we rolled directly to downtown Scottsdale after a quick pit stop at the busiest sports bar I've ever seen!  Scottsdale is party central for Oregon and Auburn fans, and we spent the entire night and much of the morning at Dos Gringos, the official Duck bar for the game.  The place was amazing, and I'll load last nights pictures onto Facebook to check out. 

Our group at the Bud Light Fiesta party site.

The first beers of many at Dos Gringos Cantina.

Dos Gringos

Aaron, Kenny Wheaton, and me.

Shawn Gourley and I with the Middleton boys, who we used to coach MANY years ago.

Kelsey and Karen Gourley.
We are already running into lots of Lebanon fans here, and I know that many more are arriving today so we're sure to be surrounded by some great Oregonians for the rest of our trip.  Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes as I turn 36  Hopefully I'll get my present tomorrow!  Today we're heading out to the Stadium to check out the activities there, and then at 5pm we'll be back in Scottsdale for the official Oregon Pep Rally and then another night on the town!  This trip has been awesome so far, and should only get better!

January 7, 2011

A Day Of Disney

We loaded up the car yesterday and headed to Disneyland for a day with the girls and my cousin Marc and his family.  It's been a while since I've been to the happiest place on earth, and man, how it's changed.  Gone are the days of pulling into the parking lot (for free; now it's $15) and parking in front of the gate.  Now, after peeling off the first of many $20's of the day, you park in a massive garage and take a tram to the entrance.  Much of Disneyland is the same, which is great because it takes me back to the days at the park with my grandparetns every summer for my yearly trip, but then there's a lot of new stuff for the kids and the parents.

Once we got inside, we hit all of the staples with the kids: The carousel, Dumbo, Storybook Land, Small World, Toon Town, etc.  After s small meltdown on the carousel, the girls slowly warmed up to the Disney experience and really started to love it.  It was just awesome to see the excitement and joy in their eyes!  They really loved the Jungle Cruise, and the highlight of the day had to be the Winnie the Pooh ride and the meet and greet with the characters afterward.  The kids were in heaven!

We cruised over to California Adventure afterward and it was OK, but not as great as Disneyland.  You definitely have to check out the Soarin' ride if you're there, which "flies" you over all of California's landmarks...very cool.

After we were all Disneyed out we headed over with the whole group to ESPN Zone for dinner and then hit the road.  The kids pulled it out again, staying up the whole day without a nap and not having any big meltdowns and not getting to bed until after 9pm, pretty late for them.  Why they couldn't decide to sleep in this morning though...who knows? 

So it was another fantastic day on vacation!  Thanks to Marc and Heather (and Dave!) for the opportunity and for getting the girls a pair of ears!  What a great day with the family! 

Today is a family get together at my Aunt and Uncle's house, and on Saturday we're headed to Phoenix!  Gameday is only 3 days away!
Waiting to get onto our first ride.

Lauren, Cameron, and Samantha.

The end of the day at California Adventure.

Cameron staying loose at ESPN Zone.

Leaving for the night.

Heading back to the car.

Not a fan.

The exhausted parents!

Minnie's House.

Dumbo's ride.
Small World.

Hugs all around.

Toon Town Fire Department

Meeting Mickey.

Tigger was a big hit too.

Lauren passed out before we left the parking lot.
Disneyed out!

January 5, 2011

Welcome to SoCal...Someone turn up the heat!

Another uneventful day on the road on Tuesday ended up with us pulling into Rancho Cucamonga around 5pm.  As we drove down on Monday, I was really struck with the subtle beauty of Northern California; the rolling hills, the pastureland, the livestock, etc.  Yesterday, driving through Central California, I remembered how it's the opposite situation.  What a boring drive. 

On a side note, Californians might just eek out a win over Washington for shittiest drivers on the West Coast. Hey lady, when you're doing 60 in the fast lane when the speed limit's 70, and I come and put my nose in your ass doing 85, that means MOVE THE FUCK OVER!  A dozen times yesterday, I swear...Then, just outside of the grapevine, a nice young lady thought it was a perfect time to attempt to put a red racing stripe on the side of her car and just dove into our lane.  Luckily, I avoided her, but I almost misspelled a word in the text I was sending. Just kidding.

Finally taking a nap.

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First In-N-Out experience.

Breakfast in Windsor; home of Charles Shulz.

Waiting for breakfast.

Snow capped mountains in Rancho Cucamonga. The ol' Suburban needs a rest!