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Vacation Diatribe

Saturday, July 02, 2011

My God, is it true....I really haven't blogged in a week! Good golly, Miss Molly, that's how it starts....the slow, insidious process of veering off track.

But fear not intrepid readers, I've been on Spark People every day, logging food, aerobic points, strength training, updating my status, "Liking" your various feeds....I believe what I did is called "lurking".

I haven't been active, and being active on Spark People is the fun part. "But why haven't you been active?" you may rightly ask. "Surely you have been busy in the past? Those never-ending road trips that take you hither and thither across this great land, but still you blogged and logged, encouraged and shared? Why stop now?"

And you'd be absolutely right Spark friends! The reason I have not spent time on the boards is because I have been driving myself crazy. All sorts of crazy about what should be the simplest of things....a family vacation.

You see I lead a pretty large organization, make tons of decisions all day and all week on everything from finances to security to testing, blah, blah, blah, but planning a vacation for a family of 3....well it's been eating my lunch.

A few weeks ago, I had conducted a minor coup and blogged about how I got SWMBO and #2 son to agree to go on an Alaska cruise (
). Well soon they started a low-level insurgency and before I knew it, mounted a counter-revolution and toppled my weakened Alaskan regime. She wants to go to Oklahoma (her mom is there) and he wants to go to Six Flags in Atlanta.

"STOP!" I shouted. "You lumpen proletariat masses don't know what's good for you! You need strong central leadership. This people's revolution is doomed to failure unless we have a firm plan."

I gained some breathing room as I divided their forces, exposing the contradictions in their vacation could we possibly go to Oklahoma AND Atlanta?

"Dear wife, I love you passionately, but Oklahoma in August? Really? It's 100+ degrees of sun and winds that come roaring down the plains. Young son, Six Flags in Atlanta is it? Humidity, crowded parks, screaming this your dream vacation?"

I worked fast and furious to keep up the momentum as I strove for the union of analysis and synthesis.

“OK, so you’re worried about the cruise. Small room, heavy price tag (this late in the season, they had limited good deals and I was paying out the nose for a 300 ft/sq cabin with a balcony), might be too cold in August, I get it. But open your eyes people, there’s so much to do and see in this great land….just give me a few days”

They put down their pitchforks and torches, turning back to plow their peasant fields while I adjusted our new 5-year plan. I had a few more days before they stormed the Bastille again.

So every night this week, after work, the gym, and dinner, normally my time to get caught up on SparkPeople, I’ve been surfing the USA, literally, looking up vacation spots; National Parks, Mountain Lodges, Spa Resorts, Cross-Country train rides from Puget Sound to Nova Scotia, Buddhist Retreats (OK, I’m joking about that last one...but maybe I just need to renounce this world and go meditate alone somewhere).

You see we live on the beach, I mean right on the water here in Ft. Walton, so we don’t need a sea-side vacation. The only thing I want is some cool, dry weather. And here’s the kicker….everywhere I looked, I demanded that they have a high quality gym! What a concept…all due to good Spark living!

So by Wednesday, I was going totally bonkers, just not coming up with anything, so I asked my secretary, who takes 2 big vacations a year (Trans-Atlantic, cruising down the Rhine Valley type vacations) to hook me up with a good travel agent. She did and I spent a good 45 minutes talking to her about what we needed and what we were looking for. She did pretty good, but somehow, nothing was clicking for me (A resort in Scottsdale, AZ….too hot; a Mountain Lodge in Telluride, CO…too isolated), Finally, I told her thanks, but let me have you plan next year’s vacation and took matters back into my own hands and picked….Santa Fe, NM!

It turns out I have enough accumulated airline miles that I can fly the three of us out there and get a hotel for a week for nothing, so I pulled the trigger on the airline tickets today, rented us a nice big 1000 ft/sq one-bedroom place we can sprawl out in, then surfed all morning till I found a local “boutique” travel agent/concierge in Santa Fe and told her I needed some serious trip & itinerary planning, with a few historic tours, some good New Mexican restaurants, a spa or 2 for SWMBO, a jeep tour of some scenic spots, and maybe even a Balloon ride or helicopter tour (this will be a surprise and may still spark a peasant revolt, but with the money I saved on the plane & hotel, I’m willing to splurge). We talked for about an hour and turns out she and I are pretty simpatico on what I’m looking for and what she can provide, so this will be a first where I actually pay for some professional tour help. But hey, like any good dictator, I’m willing to spend money to keep the bourgeoisie happy when they harbor counter-revolutionary sympathies.

Well too long a blog about “stuff”, but that’s what’s been going on with me….not an excuse, just me getting caught back up with good friends…in the future, I’ll be shorter and more frequent, you don’t need to hear a dissertation on Marxian dialectical materialism!

Sic semper tyrannis!

Good night Spark Friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BRADOS 7/2/2011 11:24PM

    yes, strong leadership is what is needed for the masses :)

best of luck with the planning


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JUNEBUG1944 7/2/2011 9:32PM

    When I came over to your page earlier today, I was feeling bad that I hadn't read your blog for a week (life does get in the way sometimes!) so, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw that you haven't blogged for a week...I thought I was on the wrong Getstrongrrr's page...but then, after I looked it over, I knew I was in the right place!

So, your Kingship got overturned, eh? Too Alaskan cruise would be fun, but you'd probably be bored because you are always moving and I'm sure you won't sit still for a minute!

I worked in a hotel in Orange Beach and we didn't have an exercise room, but had a deal with a local gym and could send guests over for a nominal fee so that's always an option if you don't like your hotel's gym!

Keep us posted on all the fun things you find to do! My neighbor is going to NM in August, also...they wanted some cool, dry weather also!

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Long live the people! Down with the tyrants!

Oh, wait...that's you isn't it? In that case the masses obviously don't know what's good for them! Stomp out that revolution!

Santa Fe sounds pretty cool. I can't wait to read your blogs about it in a few months.

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Tape measure victory!

Friday, June 24, 2011

So I was at the gym early this morning, and while I was there, I cruised by the admin office and on a whim asked them to measure me up some.

I was pretty flabbergasted to tape in at 35" on the waist measurement! Pretty darn cool I tell you. In December, I was 38"

My goal is 34" (actually 32 would be uber-cool). So while my weight is on a slow but steady decline (186+ this AM) I am quite a bit happier with the tape-measure than the scale-measure. As a matter of fact, if the scale stayed the same, but the the tape measure keeps constricting, I would be just damn fine with that!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

REBECCATKD 6/28/2011 10:12PM

    Excellent! Your pants have got to be pretty loose.
emoticon emoticon

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LOSER05 6/26/2011 9:12AM

    emoticon emoticon

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JUNEBUG1944 6/25/2011 6:09PM

    Woohoo! That's great. All that hard work and eating right sure works! Way to go!

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FANGFACEKITTY 6/25/2011 10:00AM

    emoticon Most awesome victory!

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BRADOS 6/25/2011 12:02AM

    nice job

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Blogging during a healthy lunch-time break...what a concept!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

So it has come to this....I scamper off during my one-hour lunch break to wolf down a healthy lunch salad (details below....I know you can't wait) and to blog about the experience on Sparkpeople.

Truly, I am a sick man!

As usual, a fairly busy schedule while I'm on the road. Days start around 7:00 AM getting ready for meetings, a full schedule all day and we get over around 6:00 PM. Today I hightail it to the airport when we're done so I can catch a 7:30 flight back home.

I'll admit I haven't worked out this trip. Last night, after getting changed back at the hotel and checking in with SWMBO, I said screw it and went to go see Super 8 in IMAX (very nice flick btw).

But I have eaten well. Stocked up on a few things for the room fridge so I could eat healthy at night (bags o' salad, Makoto ginger dressing, fruit, microwave veggies, yogurt.) This morning I noticed I still had 2 bags o' salad, some dressing, and fruit. Should I throw it all away (I had to check out of the hotel in the AM)? Well, I am philosophically opposed to waste (normally a good thing, but this also causes me to clean off full plates of food, and, in the past, eat leftover food from the kids' plates....but no more!), so I chucked it all in the hotel's plastic laundry bag, stuck it in a fridge by the conference room I'm in all day, and voila, instant lunch during my break while everyone else goes out for pizza.

So the sick part is that I can think of no better way to spend my lunchbreak than digging into this salad, logging my nutrition points, and blogging about the experience, while simultaneously being extra careful to not spill dressing on this public computer's keyboard. Very odd really, I couldn't explain this to any of the people I'm here with.

But that's OK, 'cause while they're all coming back 800-1000 calories heavier, I, even with a generous 4 tablespoons of Makoto, will come back refreshed and recharged with less than 200 calories of leafy greens and ginger dressing.

That's worth blogging about!

Talk to you tomorrow Spark friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

REBECCATKD 6/22/2011 10:56PM

You're right; non-Sparkers just don't understand our need to get moving, eat healthy, and connect with other Sparkers. It's a shame, really. They're missing out on so much.

Time to recruit!

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BRADOS 6/22/2011 1:47PM

    sounds like a great lunch - for me, add a Kindle and a nice place outside to read and it would be perfect

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FANGFACEKITTY 6/22/2011 1:30PM

    There really is no better way to spend lunch! So if you are sick, a lot of us are right there with you.

I just finished trying wilted greens with tomato & mushrooms with mustard greens and various herbs fresh picked from the garden. Added some onions and my habanero salsa, a little cumin & lemon pepper...and I have a new favorite side dish.

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MUSTANG_SALLY2 6/22/2011 12:41PM

    Wow! Great job! And just think, they'll be sleepy later and you'll be good to go. I recommend you have the nappers do some exercises to wake up! LOL


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Cruising to Alaska!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Well this was a very nice Father's Day. At times relaxing, at times busy, good family time (even though I had to spend an hour on the phone for work), then a nice dinner on the patio, and the inklings of an idea that got my creative planning juices going which could make this one hell of a nice summer.

That's right, I'm talking about a cruise....a cruise to Alaska! But first, a recap of the weekend.

After 20-something guy showed me a pretty neat 12-mile bike loop on Friday, I decided to try it out on my own Saturday. However, just as I pedaled out the driveway yesterday AM, my new neighbor across the street (40-something guy) was out there in his neon-yellow cycling gear about to brave it alone. So we circled each other cautiously on our carbon-framed cycling machines, exchanged pleasantries while sizing up each others' gear and regalia, then simultaneously said, "let's do it!"

It was actually a very nice ride. He took me on a route near our neighborhood where the sheriff had planted some mobile radar trailers. So, like kids, we'd speed up to see how fast we could get it to flash (23 MPH was the record on a straightaway). It was a pretty decent ride, enough to have me drinking water like crazy the rest of the day.

Last night, another of the neighbors had a deck party (this is turning into a very social neighborhood), where we ate pretty light (SWMBO had made a big vat of tabbouleh, laced with parsley, garlic, and lemon....we left half of it home for today). Ate light that is until the cute, chubby hostess brought out her home-made peanut butter ice cream, laced with hunks of dark chocolate! Good thing we did speed work on the bikes!

But that was yesterday. This morning I got out for a nice leisurely ride alone. I enjoy the solitude of riding, so this was good. I like company, that feeds my competitive side and contributes to a good hard workout. For Father's Day though, it was just me, so I rode slower and went a little longer.

Came home, showered up & shaved, had a nice big bowl of leftover tabbouleh and finished hanging some of the larger pictures in the living and dining rooms. As SWMBO and I went over calendars for this week (I'm on the road back to Norfolk, VA tomorrow) I told her that the earliest I could take any vacation this summer was the first week of Aug. She said, "well hell, we live right on the beach with white sands and emerald green water, what should we do?" Of course, #2 son chimed in and said, "Why don't we go back to Hawaii?" (we spent Christmas of 2009 on Oahu)

"No, we should see some more of this great land," I said in my best Atticus Finch voice gazing down upon him.

SWMBO and #2 son got worried looks on their faces and clamored in unison, "Like where?"

"Well scouts, I'm thinking somewhere cool & dry. Montana perhaps, Yellowstone park, or maybe Nova Scotia....wait a minute.....what about....Alaska!"


They looked at each other, then at their shoes. #2 son asked, "what's wrong with Hawaii? It's pretty cool there."

You see, Spark friends, your friendly blogger has wanted to go on a cruise for years. We came real close in 2005. I finally talked the family into it (#1 son was still at home then. You wouldn't believe how they resisted me on this...that's for another blog though.) We planned it, researched the ships, sat down with a travel agent, and in Aug 2005, booked 2 very nice side-by-side rooms for a XMAS cruise down to South America.

2 weeks later, the travel agent called me and said, "Sir, all ocean going vessels have been commandeered by Military Sealift Command to aid in the Katrina relief efforts. Your ship is one of them, so we'll have to refund your tickets" Arrggghhh! (even 6 years later, I feel Katrina's pain)

So today, Father's Day, was the perfect opening to resurrect this long forgotten dream. What, they're going to tell me "No" on Father's Day? I think not!

So I had a blast this afternoon, looking up ships, reading reviews, planning the dates (it could be tight with my work schedule). I sent out a few e-mails to some recommended travel agents (of course they're all closed on Sunday). I think I'm going to need the help. I don't have the time to plan this in detail and if we get a dud cruise ship or cruise line, I'm a dead man with the family, so it HAS TO BE GOOD!

More to follow...this is going to be a fast moving train.

Good night Spark friends....and Happy Father's Day to all Dads out there!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JUNEBUG1944 6/25/2011 6:13PM

    Can I come? My sister went on an Alaskan cruise a few years ago and loved it. I've been on many cruises (but not to Alaska) and loved every one of them. Ate too much, didn't exercise enough, but I loved much to do, so much to see! Keep us posted on your plans!

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MOM23JS 6/20/2011 12:54AM

    Boy am I jealous!! If you want to adopt me I am willing :)

Have a wonderful time and as always I enjoy reading your blog!

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KATYBUG48 6/19/2011 10:18PM

  I just got back from an Alaxka Cruise myself. Awesome time

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BRADOS 6/19/2011 10:16PM

    Happy Fathers Day to you

An Alaska Cruise sounds awesome - of course, I crave fresh salmon

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"Wind Always Blows in Your Face"

Friday, June 17, 2011

Quite the busy day today. Tons of meetings in the AM, a lunchtime bike ride, more meetings in the afternoon, post-work gym time for ST, then a dinner down the street for some friends moving away.

I did it all, minus the gym time. My 90 minute afternoon meeting went for almost 3 hours, so I had to cancel trainer guy at the last minute....we had too many important decisions to follow up on to stop at 90 minutes.

Which is why I was glad I got the bike ride in early. It was hot, wicked Florida hot and muggy. And windy. Legend has it that Juan Ponce de Leon, in his quest for the Fountain of Youth, discovered and named this area "Florida" for all its native flowers. I think that's bull! After today, I'm pretty sure that Florida is some native Seminole term for "wind always blows in your face"

Whether I was going east or west, uphill or down, I had the wind blowing right smack at me. So moving from Destin to Ft. Walton Beach, barely 15 miles, has made a huge difference. When I rode my back there, I went down tree-lined streets, the Spanish Moss dangling lazily in the humid air blocking any sea breeze.

This close to the water though and we are chock full of winds and eddies, swirls and gusts, each one making me wish I could taper down into an aerodynamically low-drag machine.

But people in hell want ice water, so I had to make due. 20-something office guy had a nice 12-mile loop planned. My goal was to do it in 40 minutes, and it took 45….just goes to show you that those Lifecycles in the gym can replicate real life only so far….not much wind resistance indoors.

It was a pretty decent ride, but at high noon, it was 98 degrees, and 90+ humidity. I was one dehydrated dude the rest of the day. I could not drink enough water all afternoon.

Luckily I kept drinking water at the going away party. 4 huge vats of quite nicely cooked Manicotti along with some home-made Focaccia was served up on the patio. SWMBO and I shared a plate, and steered clear of the desert piles (brownies, blondies, and other deadly sins)

So I’m pretty beat, but glad the day went so well

Good night Spark friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BRADOS 6/19/2011 5:36PM

    Oh man, your area of the country sounds beautiful and while I always thought I wanted to stay in the Midwest forever, I don't doubt that another year of reading your blogs is going to make me change my mind - have a great week GETSTRONGRRR

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LOSER05 6/19/2011 9:17AM


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JODIE_A 6/18/2011 7:43AM

    ha! "wind always blows in your face" could be a metaphore for life in general I think :o)) good blog!

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