Leavin’ on a Jet Plane!

Some know my love for flying. Even as a child, I wanted to fly. Off the staircase. Even now, as a mostly functioning adult, the airport is a happy place. People trying to get somewhere fast, the focus of being on time – it just amazes me. Some are fearful of flying and I respect that, but it isn’t me! Fly me to the moon!

Mini recently had her first opportunity to fly. I’m slightly disappointed her first flight wasn’t with me, but it is what it is. Fun fact: I’ve only ever flown alone. She did pepper me with questions until the day; I think I did a great job alleviating any fears because she seemed to enjoy it! The ‘to’ trip was a success in her book and she was able to complete post-flight checks with the Captain. I hope she asked all the hard questions.

Credit: Southwest Airlines

Her Tennessean spring break was eventful, to hear her tell it. She enjoyed an outdoor dance platform, visited a space museum in her loathed state of Amabama (story for another day), and most likely ate all the Panda Express (Panda Bear, in her terms) she could hold. Alas, she did have to return to school at some point. It felt like both the shortest and longest week for me.

In true Mini fashion, she made a friend on the return flight home. A young girl – same age as mini – was experiencing her very first flight and on her own. Of course there was a whole story to go with this situation, but it’s not my story to tell. However, mini (now an expert flyer) was the girl’s seatmate and happily showed her the ropes…ehh, wings. Her brave, new friend made it back to Love Field and now each has a story! (Note: I did meet the young friend’s family. I’m amazed at the teamwork that came together to get this little lady home and the support system they have. It was not by accident my mini and her friend were able to sit together. Praise God!)

And then she arrived!

Needless to say, the reunion filled my soul. I love how mini has had so many opportunities to do things some people never experience. She takes it all in stride. As a mom, it’s tough to watch your children get older and more independent; however, mini’s independence is much a part of her as it is a part of me. She is a very blessed girl who has never met a stranger and happily befriends those she meets, young and old alike.

Yes, spring break has come to an end but mini’s adventures are lifelong. She is already looking forward to flying again. And now we have new friends in the DFW area. This child is forcing me to be overly social. Bring on the coffee!

______________________________

I ask you –

At what age did you first fly?

Have you never flown and wish to? Or are you intentionally never flying?

Tell me your thoughts on flying alone vs with others! I’m not opposed; the opportunity has never presented itself.

Do You…?

Meditation is my thing. But I’m not going to lie: sometimes I go into my closet and lock the door so no one can find me.

Gwen Stefani

Part One

Even before mini started school, I had wondered what parts of it would mimic my own school experience. Because things can change in —- ohhhhhhh —- nearly 20 years. I wondered about cafeteria food, her first book, and loads of other variables. Including the book fair! I’m pleased to report, indeed, there is still a yearly book fair, even for children as young as 5! However, it wasn’t the overflowing library of carts covered in books I remember from years gone by. Instead the book fair was only a small rendition; a miniscule scale of the elaborate week it once was. Mini enjoyed it though. She has no other comparison. Blessed be the innocent.

Part Two

Dan (the one and only) sent me this article: How to Use the Two-Week Rule to Become Remarkably Successful (and Optimize Your Bucket List)

Quotes like “I can do hard things” by Des Linden are prime motivators for really anything you encounter in life. But what if someone told you that in two weeks you’d know exactly how reachable your goal is…would you believe it? Probably not. I met interesting people during the course of 15 physical therapy sessions. Some I’d like to have coffee with; others I could do without ever speaking to again. Get back to the point, Kel. In particular, I met a previous runner now cyclist who was dealing with some knee issues. She stated she kept their business in business. As we discussed various running distances and the local, famous cycling event, she said she had completed 2 marathons and encouraged me to at least once in my life complete one, as well. When I raised my eyebrows as if to say ‘look lady, I’m here because I can’t manage a long run much less 26.2 miles’, she reiterated the word run. Not race. Run. Her words were ‘walk if you have to, run when you can; your goal is to cross the finish line standing up’. And in that moment I saw it all. Start with two weeks, then think about the next two weeks, and so on.

On the topic of bucket lists (and knowing I’ve shared much of this before), a marathon is included. As is a trip to Mexico and/or Las Vegas. Mainly because many of my friends have taken a trip lately and I’m feeling left out. Other to-do’s are to restore an old truck, then outfit a van into a camper and travel from state to state. I also want to complete a Ragnar. I’d love to see the northern lights. For now, I think I’ve got a good start on a list.

Now What?

I have no idea *massive shoulder shrug* When I wrote this post and decided to combine book fair with motivational statements, it didn’t work then either. I make the rules! You’re welcome.

____________________________

I ask you –

Can you do anything for two weeks?

What’s on your bucket list?

Name something from your childhood you fear (or know for sure) has changed. Definitely school lunch.

 

A Day in History

During our recent trip to OKC, on the itinerary was a trip to the Oklahoma City Memorial. If you’ll recall, I once wrote an extensive graduate paper on terrorism. My field of study. The paper was submitted electronically and earned me a lot of attention. By attention I mean it was embargoed by the federal government and multiple three-letter agencies, never returned to either my professor or self, and I was investigated. On the bright side, I got an A before my professor ever received it and the joke is it ended up on (then) President Obama’s desk. Anyway… I’ve always wanted to visit.

Not only is it a uniquely designed memorial, but also a touching testimony to survivors and the families of those lost. No matter what damage was done that day, people all over the world have an opportunity to pay their respects. Photos online do not begin to compare to the solemn reverence of this memorial. Mini was intrigued by the chairs – big for adults, small for children.

I wasn’t prepared for the emotions to overwhelm me. I really had no reason to not be able to speak around my tears – at the time, we lived hundreds of miles away. Yet watching it on television in 1995 (I was 9 yrs old) is an engraved photo in my mind, but it does nothing to prep your heart for the magnitude of 168 lives needlessly lost. 168. Many other tragedies since easily surpass that number. But it’s people. And no number of people killed due to acts of terrorism is acceptable.

unrelated: the bldg in the background is where I was sworn in to the US Navy

Again, the photos here do no justice to the emotional journey of looking at mementos left on the fence once used to guard the damaged building after it was bombed. Or how it feels to touch the granite wall of children’s hand prints created by children from multiple states in response to hearing of the children whom would never come home. My collegiate career focused on the acts themselves, the mindset of the guilty, the way it has played into future events; my publications didn’t address the emotions or the very real loss. Interestingly, this is common in people who study subjects considered unempathetic, like child abuse, law enforcement, or terrorism. There’s a switch that must be deactivated. I can’t imagine what it must be like to visit the 9/11 Memorial.

All this being said, hug your kids tighter, say a few extra I love you’s, and visit places you’ve always wanted to see. As I get older, I’m appreciating history more and more. Probably because I know one day we all will be history ourselves.

_____________________________________

I ask you –

Have you been to the OKC Memorial or 9/11 Memorial?

What’s the chance this very post will be flagged before publication? Listen, I don’t have time to plead my case.

Name a place you’d like to visit.

Reunion Tour!

It doesn’t happen as often as we’d like but occasionally I get to catch up with one of my very best friends, Sam. She and I were inseparable for several years, especially during the formidable early-Navy days. In fact, it was a running joke how if you saw one you would see the other; even around people we’d never met before, our easy banter and knowledge of the other’s life led them to believe we’d been friends since childhood. The military has a way of helping you get to know someone really quickly. Because if you’re going to trust your life with someone, you best know a few things first. Anyway, Sam and I were thick as thieves. No word yet on any actual thievery but admittedly we did a lot of shady stuff. Don’t ask about the 4am inspection. We learned together how to navigate some really tough situations and live to tell about it. Sam was always my go-to for great advice. Even now, our conversations pick back up right where we left them. Those are the friendships I value the most. Can’t forget the Joker. We have countless inside jokes, memories of late nights and even later coffee dates, too many tears, and laughter that can be heard miles away. No matter our distance, a best friend like her is hard to come by. She hails from the great state of Illinois now; however…

Further good news is Sam may be visiting Texas in the upcoming months for some military required training and you know what that means! Batman and Robin Reunited!

Reminiscing about the Navy is like taking a manic car ride down a crowded street in Mexico. Let me improve your image. A clown car overfilled with good idea fairies on a dirt road between overgrown buildings surrounded by pedal carts. A hell bus, if you will. Different story for a different day. Being in the military is like living another life, like having a separate personality, like being one person in a skewed reality. At times, it’s lonely while simultaneously so loud you can’t hear yourself think. There’s no outlet. A constant circus meets board room. So if debilitating anxiety is for you, I’ve found the place!

Unrelated but on an equally uplifting note – Jamaica has a bobsled team for the 1st time in over 20 years!! Check out the full story here.

Everyone knows one of my all-time favorite movies is “Cool Runnings”; which, by the way, is more than 30 years old. Geez, I’m old. You can guarantee I’ll be tuning in to watch Jamaica hurl themselves and their light-as-a-feather bobsled down a sharp concrete chute in February. “It’s bobsled time!!”

_______________________________

I ask you –

What’s your oldest friendship?

Will you be watching the winter Olympics?

Tell me a nickname your friends called you! Clearly, I’m Batman.

Race Ideas

Brainstorming future race ideas led me to this one: the inaugural Rock n Roll Atlantic City event!

I’ve only ever seen New Jersey as I raced through it on the way to Connecticut, though I do vaguely remember vast toll areas. Perhaps that was a different state, like Oklahoma. Nonetheless, I’d like to enjoy a proper visit and run a little race!

Credit: #myfavoriterun via Instagram

I’m also very interested in the Blue Bell runs in Brenham, TX. Held annually in April, the finish line party includes Blue Bell ice cream, which is my most favorite ice cream of all time. Pecan Pralines ‘n Cream anyone? I want to explore more 10k distances so why not start there?!

Credit: #bluebellfunrun via Instagram

I’m about over this training plan stuff. 15-16 week plans are just too long for me. Week 8 is about my cutoff. Maybe 10 if I’m feeling generous. Never before have I ever given a moment’s thought to running a virtual half marathon just so I can say I did the run and be done with it. A few weeks back – I hit that point. And I know that particular week was kind of a struggle, but I don’t feel like my fitness has increased much since. If I didn’t know that Morgan from Oregon was traversing the plains to attend, I probably would have called it quits awhile back. Alas, she has been training so I’m self-motivating to make it to the start line. My Garmin goal meter says it’s very confident I will reach it. My internal doubter has serious reservations. All I can do is run the race laid out before me knowing I’ve put in work to the best of my abilities.

break in an emergency

Now, with all that said, I just want it to be over. Thankfully start line emotions are a very real phenomenon and 10 mins after I’m done I’ll be kissing strangers and hugging babies. Jokes, lots of jokes. To keep myself on track I’ve been brainstorming things I want to do post-race. For example…

Short Term –

  • Take a long nap
  • Eat copious amounts of Mexican food, specifically tortilla chips
  • Lay on the ground contemplating my life choices
  • Call everyone I know with the great news I have a shiny new PR

Long Term –

  • January run streak?
  • Train for a March/April half marathon
  • Train for a March/April 10k unrelated to the above half marathon
  • Resume keto
  • Survive the winter months
  • Fantasize about vacation

Surely I’m missing many additions to my listing endeavors. I’ll keep thinking and update you all soon.

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving – filled with turkey and ham and as many rolls as you can stuff in your mouth at one time. And pie!!!

___________

I ask you –

Anyone have an upcoming race or race potential near northern Texas?

How often do you make lists?

Please share some thing(s) on your short/long term list!

Running on Fumes – Musings from the Mess Deck

Introducing my newest special feature: Running on Fumes – Musings from the Mess Deck. For those not familiar with Navy lingo…a) a mess deck is a place aboard a Naval vessel where military personnel eat, socialize, and essentially live their lives and b) you may find tons of other Naval terminology in this previous post. Hope you enjoy!

My time in the Navy + my time on the East coast + my everything else = meeting some really incredible (and well-traveled) people. One of those people, Dan, I met while working for BAE in Norfolk, VA. We began working there within the same time period and often found ourselves working on/near the same projects which usually involved lots of walking and the occasional grumbling. More my part than his. Dan has a great sense of humor, often times rueful, but nonetheless fitting for any situation. Thankfully we’ve kept in touch. Below is a recent correspondence. I realize this post is much longer than probably any other on Running on Fumes – but I promise it’s worth it! I travel vicariously through others’ stories. Enjoy!

Hi – Good to hear from you. I follow along with your blog, and it’s always fun for me to try and connect the dots between the different installments, and from what I gather, you seem to be having fun out on the Texas prairie.

As you can see, this one goes on a bit. I don’t get to talk to people much anymore (work from the house), and I feel the need to reach out to someone who has some shared common experiences.

And, I sense that maybe you might be a bit at loose ends? Tired of the whole “Work. Rinse. Repeat” schtic? Ready for an adventure? I know what you mean. I’m a bit at loose ends myself and I also have a bit of wanderlust.

And so I’ve been thinking about the places I’ve been, and the ones I’d like to visit again. It’s a long list, and I seem to have eaten my way across the globe, but I do so believe the best way to get to know people is to share a meal with them. Here are some highlights:

* Haifa, Israel. I was there Easter, 1996. Full moon on Easter Day too. I visited what was reputed to be the oldest continuing operating mosque in the world, said to be over 1100 years old. Met the Iman there who was very cool, and toured the city of Acre where remnants of the Third Crusade are easily visible. Bedouin rules of hospitality pre-date Mohammed and are in full force everywhere. I was fed all afternoon by two Israeli Arab cops, and then taken home for dinner. Oh, my.

* The south of France, including Toulon, Cannes, St. Tropez, Aix-en-Provence (and just about anywhere in the French Department of Provence, incidentally. Rented a bicycle and rode for 2 days through the country side. Drank jugs of the local red, and ate fresh loaves of bread in tiny towns. Amazing. Toured a castle there that has been in the same family for over 1000 years, and whose founders are Roman Catholic Saints.

* Sardinia. A Roman rock garden masquerading as an island. I stayed in a hotel where Caesar would have felt at home. Ate the local sausage one morning that had been walking around the barnyard earlier that same morning. I don’t remember the name of the local firewater because it erased a number of other memories. Like so many places in Europe, it’s an interesting mix of the very old and the very new. Think of a donkey cart parked next to an ATM.

* Rome. C’mon. It’s Rome. Entire academic careers have been dedicated to this one city. Home of the World’s Most Expensive Breakfast Not In an Airport. I double-dog dare you to get bored. Spend an afternoon at an outdoor cafe drinking wine, eating delicious bits of everything, and soaking up the Roman sunshine while speaking with the locals. Exquisite.

* Sicily. Hiker’s paradise once you get out of Palermo, although the Palermo Cathedral is worth a visit. It’s the burial site of Odo of Bayeux who was William the Conqueror’s brother, although the good Brothers there at the church are not really sure where he might actually be. Mt. Etna. Tours and day trips to Roman (and far earlier) ruins can be found everywhere as can excellent, excellent wine. A small-town Sicilian restaurant with outdoor seating and fresh goodies is very difficult to beat.

* Trieste, Italy. Another Roman city. Amazing architecture. Found a Country and Western bar there that was blaring Dan Seals and Marie Osmond, and despite that semi-promising start, contained not one soul that spoke English. Award winner for Crudest Public Bathroom You Might Actually Have to Use. Trieste is where East meets West a la Constantinople, and it’s fun to look around and see where the two worlds come together.

* Skiathos, Greece. Big island, lots to see and lots to do. If you go down to where all the yachts are parked you’ll see men and women so beautiful you’ll swear a magazine ad for French perfume has come to life. Normal people can be found everywhere else. Great beaches, especially if modesty is not your thing, but the Mediterranean sun is. Tiny 4- and 5-room hotels can be found without too much effort, and you’ll eat so well you’ll be convinced that you’re being prepared for slaughter.

* Cartagena, Columbia. Old, old city. Pirates still hang out there as they have for 400 years. They are decidedly not like Disney pirates. Ate entire fish dinner there (At the “Casa del Pescado” Really.) that was so huge (about a 40 lb. grouper!) I invited 3 other tables to join me. We ate, drank, and sang for hours and the whole thing cost me about $20.00. This city is the scene for my best-ever sea story called “Hookers, Coca-Cola, and Machine Guns” in which the CNO of the Columbian Navy makes an appearance. And it’s all true.

* The entire Pacific coast of Chile, from Coquimbo south to Tierra del Fuego. Chile is an absolutely amazing country and well worth the effort to get there. A cabin on the extended southern coast can be rented for about $9.00/night if you time it well and don’t treat the locals like idiots. Food is extra so take an extra 10 bucks. The coast of Chile is tourist agency picture perfect. Valparaiso has a world-class museum filled with Incan pieces or you can go to Machu Picchu on your own. Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire) is misnamed, for it is possibly the coldest place I’ve ever been. But if your luck holds, you can meet there real-live adventurers in the mold of Robert Scott and Ernest Shackleton, buy them drinks, and hear their astounding stories.

* Bahia Blanca, Argentina. The single-most European city in all of South America. Town squares can be found about every four blocks that are so picturesque they’d be travel destinations anywhere else in the world. Luscious steaks from the Argentinian Pampas, “tortas fritas” (a local kind of flatbread) served next to schnitzel. The people can be a bit distant at first, but warm quickly. An Argentinian friend is fiercely your friend for life. The “Policia Nacionel” there do not screw around, and trouble with them is trouble indeed. But, I was one night able to talk a pair of them out of arresting my buddies by pretending to speak passable Spanish. I later concluded that by doing so, I had clearly used up whatever luck I had been allocated for that trip.

* Montevideo, Uruguay. Montevideo is under the radar for most people, but it is simultaneously both very modern and very colonial. There is an open air market most days that stretches eight or nine blocks on each side, and filled with literally anything for sale that you can imagine. I saw a peddler’s stand that was selling Michael J. Fox pool cues next to NAPA oil filters for an old Ford. Yes, that’s weird. I have a great adventure story about the city of Punta del Esta, which is a few miles to the east of Montevideo. And we all lived.

* Guadalupe, in the French Lesser Antilles. If you can’t find fun there, check your pulse.

* St. Maarten, in the British East Indies. A bit touristy now, but still a great place to visit. The Dutch side of the island is mostly on island time, mon. Doan be getiin’ up in no hurry, mon. E’re ting gwarn bee iree. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnBupO_Kjto

There are 50 states, of course, and I believe I have visited every one. They all have similarities (crappy chain motels, crappy chain restaurants), but with just the most minimum of effort from a curious traveler they all have rewarding experiences to find and enjoy. I prefer to travel by car (I’d like to one day take a motorcycle tour of the Midwest), but I like to get away from “Interstate World” and visit those roads less traveled. We Americans are a friendly, gregarious lot and it’s an important reminder from visiting our neighbors all around the country that we have ten, even a hundred times more things in common with each other than those that separate us.

* Go the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. You can make lifetime friends in an afternoon. Ditto the Georgia State Fair in Hampton. The farmers in Rutland, Vermont will dare you (with a knowing wink) to not enjoy their butter, cheese, and other goodies at their own fair.

* Take the train across the country. I just did, from Chicago to Seattle. I literally saw deer and antelope playing on the northern prairie along with a couple of herds of bison. How cool is that? On the same trip, I wandered around Chicago and just had a ball. In addition to revisiting places from my Navy past 30-odd years ago, I ate a stunningly satisfying steak dinner at a good old-fashioned Illinois supper club, and an equally amazing sushi dinner so good I nearly wept. And a couple of Chicago dogs out on the street? Check.

* And you’ll never know who you’ll run into. I met a guy in a bar near St. Louis one night who had been an Air Force F-86 Sabre pilot in the Korean War. I asked him if he knew of CAPT. Joe McConnell, a boyhood hero who shot down 16 enemy aircraft in that conflict. Know him? Hell, son, I flew with him back in 1953. Great Un-Revised North American Jesus Christ! We talked into the wee hours, and though he was 35 years older than I, he stood up and steadily walked out of the place in that way the Blue Suiters have despite the bottle of scotch he and I had shared. What a memory. You just never know.

* Had a Greek dinner in San Ysidro, probably 200 meters from the Mexican border. Nice little cultural cross-rip. Just up the road, of course, is San Diego and my favorite place on the West Coast, Coronado. Try the bar at the Hotel Del Coronado, and wait for the ghosts of Sammy, Marilyn, and Frank.

* There is so much I have left out. Cathedrals in England. The Louvre in Paris. But you get the idea. There is just too much to see and do out there, so go and see and do. For specific recommendations? For the contemplative, meditative trip plan a campout at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. For a 3-day girls’ night out, try the Music Row section of Nashville and visit all the clubs and music venues up and down Division St and Broadway.

So that’s my two cents and then some. I hope you’ve had a great week, and that you enjoy your weekend. I miss spending time with you as well, and I look forward to the time we can yell at the salad waitress again. Take care of yourself,

Dan

Note: yelling at the salad waitress is a story for another day. Safe to say, there will be more stories! And, we didn’t yell at her in a derogatory, downgrading way. She simply couldn’t hear us, though no fault of her own. More to come!

Things I Want to Do

My co-worker who hails from the great state of Oregon (according to her it’s a dumpster fire, but I’m trying to be positive) told me about the Multnomah Falls which is conveniently located less than 2 hours from Portland which is conveniently where my childhood best friend (you remember, Morgan from Oregon) lives. Anyway, she said it was gorgeous and I should visit. After perusing the photos online, I agree. Time to travel!

Also, there’s a diamond-mining quarry in Arkansas called the Crater of Diamonds State Park which is conveniently located less than an hour from where we usually do the great parent switcharoo. I know nothing about mining but think it could be fun! Especially if I discovered a huge gem! This isn’t really….well, not at all…a summertime activity. Maybe mid-winter instead.

Forgot to mention before these amazing cookies I found at Walmart of all places. I’ve never had good luck when purchasing cookies. My streak has ended!

They were so good I forgot to take photos until after I’d eaten 3 in about 2 minutes. If that. The coconut with the oats and pecans and chocolate chips, oh my gosh. And they were soft – I was very surprised because usually pre-packaged cookies are crunchy and I don’t love it.

Funny story: when I worked in Oklahoma at Anytime Fitness, my members knew my love for cookies and would bring them to me when they came to workout. I’d go through boxes a day. It’s all I ate. Surely it wasn’t the best image of a gym manager, but the joke was if I continued to politely offer them to members, then it was job security.

My self-discipline is the only real dumpster fire here.

__________________________

I ask you –

What other amazing places should be added to my travel list?

Have you been to either of the two I mentioned here?

Preference: chocolate chip cookies or peanut butter cookies?