A surprise picnic. The weather wasn’t great. We didn’t even really know the area. The option to hike it in would have been too much to carry.
A friend scouted a park with a pavilion. We wandered in tandem with the vague directions we had, then finally stumbled on the spot.
The coolers, tucked in the back of the jeep for hours, and boxes and bags were ported out. Then the spoiling began.
A white tablecloth was the foundation. Topped by a fall-themed tablecloth with muted hues. Draped with care over the metal picnic table. Then, fancy bamboo plates and utensils. Yellow napkins folded at each place. Then, the finishing touches…jewel-colored velvet pumpkins that later doubled as party favors / remembrances for each of the women there. A fall candle bought brand new for the occasion, glowing and sharing a hint of apple scent. A table worthy of special guests. Even out in the middle of the soccer fields and playgrounds. Then, a build-your-own lunch spread courtesy of Trader Joe’s. Nothing too fussy. Just nibbles to try.
In recent years, I have grown to love surprising people…not in the sense of surprise parties, but more about delighting people with over-the-top unique details. Whether it be decorations, unexpected custom cookies that match their party theme, party favors that make people giggle, artist-created invitations, or a meal fit for a queen, it feeds my soul to make people feel special and make occasions memorable. People are worth celebrating.
This also extends to presents I may drop on porches on a random Tuesday. Life is a challenge for many. Why not make people smile?
I hope when they pull out that pumpkin each fall they smile and remember a great day, and someone who cared about them enough to plan something special. Spoil people a little sometimes. They are worth it.
Just a 24 hour pit stop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 1 full day is what I had but I planned to see and do a ton.
The first stop was to feed my belly of course. A quick stop for cheese steak at the famous corner in Philadelphia where you will find Geno’s and Pat’s. Which would I choose? I opted for Pat’s. I had to learn how to order which was harder than it needed to be. Then off to find a seat to enjoy the foodie treat. My belly was full. Steak, provolone cheese, onions, and peppers were loaded to the max on big hoagie bun. Maybe not my favorite meal of my trip but overall I can said I had a Philly cheese steak from one of favorite local hot spots.
Time for the sweet tooth spot. Insomnia cookies for the win. A sampling of sugar, snickerdoodle, macadamia nut, double chocolate, blueberry and chocolate chip cookies went In the box. Nobody needed the cookies, but we all opted to spurge and get the cookies. We all nibbled at each. Sugar was my favorite. Surely we were going to have a sugar overload at any moment after this stop.
On to the city we went, twisting and turning on a million one way streets. Looking up at the magnificent buildings and their architecture on the way to the hotel. Parking in the parking garage was an experience. Super low ceiling, limited turning radius, and very narrow pathways. The next adventure after parking was exploring the area by foot and stopping in on the shops that were open late. An Italian dinner in the city streets. Interesting setups by each restaurant to accommodate outdoor seating. An interesting sight to see including the various designs and creativity involved. This was a side of the pandemic I had not yet experienced. I observed the financial cost to set up power outside for lights. Shelter to be built. Weather proofing elements. And one can’t forget the curbside appeal to make people want to stop. Some had fancy chairs while others had old ones that I’d assume wouldn’t matter if they got weathered or stolen. Interesting walk to say the least.
A good night’s sleep nestled high in the sky on the 16th floor was a great experience. The view was amazing and the location was perfect. Early rise to walk to the Liberty Bell. Photo op one was in the books. A walk in the other direction took us to Love park for a photo op. This was slightly disappointing but also sad. Many homeless people were nestled in this park in the morning as they rose. From young to old. Made me wonder about their stories.
A shift down the road with all the worldly flags was a beautiful sight. It led to the Rocky steps and statue. The one and only Rocky Balboa steps. Of course I ran them multiple times. I took photos. I FaceTimed those who couldn’t be there with me. We even had a virtual run. That was a first for me. But so much fun. We toured ourselves but ran into the walking tour many times thus we felt we did a good job planning our stops.
A little further down the road was boat house row. A picturesque water side view of the row of boat houses and their boats. I enjoyed the waterside view more than the street view but it was a new experience nonetheless. This area was a great place to run, walk or ride a bike. The weather was perfect on this day to tackle a nice flat surface for some light exercise.
As we circled back many miles and hours later we hit the Reading Market. An interesting place full of vendors. Mostly food options. I grabbed a coffee and some sweets. Not a smart choice of fuel for the body but more a celebration of the city’s offerings. We nibbled on:
A colossal cinnamon bun
A chunky slice of white cake
A creamy pumpkin roll slice
An enormous crumb cake
All were full on sugar rushes! All were amazingly good. None of them were finished. All of them were tasted. We tried not to be wasteful but we did opt not to finish our plates. Time to load and go. Off to the airport. One last stop we shall have.
In the last of the 24 hours we hit Chickie’s & Pete’s, a local spot near the airport close to the sporting venue. A massive dining space. An interesting menu. For me it was the lobster roll for my meal. An overstuffed bun toasted to perfection. Slivers of celery, onions and just the right amount of seasoning. A nice treat for the end of a whirlwind 24 hours.
My belly is full as I sit on my flight writing. My heart swells from the memories made. My smile is big daydreaming of my next 24 hours of adventures. Where will I go? What will I see? Who will I meet? Who will I travel with? It’s all a mystery for now. Maybe a story will follow. Maybe it won’t.
I hope you enjoyed my 24 hour summary of Philadelphia. Maybe you will get there one day and choose the same route or travel new route. For now this city is off my list of tourist stops.
Country music isn’t necessarily my favorite, but I listen to it pretty often since my youngest daughter is a fan. I have a handful of artists I admire. Miranda, Maren, Dolly, and then there’s Brad. Brad Paisley. He may not have the most soaring lyrical voice, but his lyrics are witty, smart, and insightful.
Just a few weeks ago, my youngest daughter, the country girl, started her farewell tour, her victory lap, her senior year of high school. Tomorrow we will leave on a 10-day road trip bookended by two lacrosse tournaments, sandwiched around reunions with family, roller coasters, beautiful scenery and other adventures. Time with friends, time with each other, time doing new things, time doing what she loves.
It’s her last hurrah of youth. Last summer playing travel lacrosse. It won’t be long until senior year begins with all its fanfare and festivities. College choices will be made. Dreams will turn to plans.
And so begins a season of lasts. Here’s where Brad comes in with Last Time for Everything. It’s a song that plays over and over in my head. Last time hitting the road to the northeast. Last time taking the field. Last Spring Break. Last, last, last…
Some I will see coming. Some will catch me off guard. Some I will be prepared for. Many I won’t even notice until they are gone and done.
Sure, she will always be my baby. Just like the older two, she will always come home and open the refrigerator and look for her favorites. Bring her laundry and her dog. Get some advice on how to fix her car or choose insurance or ask questions about saving money. Maybe she’ll even curl up and take a nap while someone is cooking in the kitchen like I did at my parents’ house. Even after I was long gone, it was a safe place to just relax and be taken care of for a bit.
So I will enjoy each moment with her as she prepares to take a step out on her own. I will try not to overthink it and get ahead of myself, but instead just be in the moment, relishing this last trip around her childhood sun, all her hard work, ups and downs, accomplishments, and celebrations.
May I treasure this sweet season of lasts while it lasts.
I was in the woods with my dog just checking things out. Its was a dreary day after a lot of rain which led me to the wooded area by my home for a stroll. I opted for the less traveled path on this day. Not sure why, but I’m glad I did.
The pine straw covered ground seemed a little less muddy than the grass. It seems to have had shelter from the rain due the trees above that created a natural canopy. The smell of rain was in the air and the dog was curious about the the surroundings which intrigued me and maybe sparked my curiosity.
Sniff, sniff. A slight tug on the leash to guide me to a structure. Hidden in the trees, I stumbled across this old shelter that appears to be a dog house or shelter for some type of critter. I wondered what time period this was from? What was the history behind such a creation? So many questions that I will never know the answer to. It was still cool to think about the history.
Just beyond this structure were a couple of dilapidated barns or outbuildings. Again I was curious on their history. Who lived there? When were they built? What were they used for? I took a couple of pictures and used different filters to see how they might have looked some time ago with old photo technology.
Just beyond the trees were some over grown weeds that gave these photos a little mysterious look. I enjoy taking pictures and writing about them. It’s a great opportunity to drift off from today and imagine what was before and how things have changed.
Barns in my suburban area are not so popular which means these are a piece of history. Maybe momentous to somebody. How long will they endure? Will a contractor tear them down? Will somebody want to reclaim the wood for a home project? So many questions.
My normal walk took a little turn. Some might not think a walk in the woods is exciting enough to write about but somedays you stumble across and object or a place that inspires you to share your moment. Your snapshot in time.
My moment today was all about the walk. The stroll in the woods. Listening to the bird chirp. Hearing the drips of rain drops sliding off the tree leaves. The crunching sound of pine straw crackling at your feet. Tree branches snapping back and forth as squirrels jump around which also makes the dog bark.
Some days it’s about the climb. Some days it’s about the falls. Other days it could be about ignorance. You just never know what’s coming next on this blog. That’s the beauty of writing. It’s an artistic expression that we share with the world now and then. Variety is our spice of life. You get a sampling not an exclusive view. A tidbit of sorts. As our readership grows we know you hear our voices. This inspires us to spread our wings and write for depth.
The time is here. The Battle of the Ages CrossFit comp is happening. I have been wanting to attempt this for a few years but it never worked out on the calendar and then corona hit. There was one last shot as we were rebounding from corona.
March 6, 2021. Cartersville, GA. 2 males and 2 females is the division but we are rolling in with 3 females and 1 male. A disadvantage in any weight lifting events due to the mixed requirements favoring a male team with 2 men vs an extra female. It’s okay. We knew we were up for a challenge when we signed up. This competition is more about the memories, milestones and working in a team made up of family members in multiple generations.
The players were Nick, Tasha, Karen and Lexi. A familiar grouping. Each has crossovers and for me 2 are related. This is one of the coolest parts of the comp for me. I am competing with my teen, my 20-something and my normal comp partner rolling in mid-30s with me on the caboose at 49. 49 and feeling fine, fit and fabulous. Feeling fine doesn’t equate to moving as fast as the younger generations, just saying!
It will take teamwork, skill, strength, cheering and so much more to endure the grueling workouts. 7 teams competing in our bracket. 3 podium spots. It’s unlikely we we will make the podium however we will all put in our max efforts.
Workout one: push/pull event. This was the event I was most looking forward to. It was deceiving, though. Shoes slipped on the boards. Rope was taxing on your hands and there was no break. Exhausting!
Workout two: conditioning with a twist. A lot of biking, a little rope climbing and a lot of thrusters. This was a one and done for me. Somehow I did extra thrusters while my team was rope climbing leading me to lose my rest period. I was a mess in this workout.
Workout three (picture above): lifting heavy and holding in a high position while your partners are doing a bunch of other movements. This was a mess. Holding 245 pounds while your team does burpee box jumps is nerve wracking. If you drop the weight you let your team down. Talk about stress. My one job was hold that weight. Hold that weight. Had to find a focal point and just stare away. My grip strength weakened by the second.
Workout four: max lift on cleans as a team when we are all plum wore out. Cleaning is one of my least favorite lifts as my wrist mobility is not the best. Nonetheless I pushed through and got a personal record. However my kiddo had a personal best as well and it was a big progress step for her. 125 pounds is not only a personal best but a major learning opportunity. She believed she could and she did.
Makes for a fun day. Makes for a tiring day. Makes for a day of making memories. Makes for a great challenge for oneself.
Just as I dust off the boo boos and ego blow from this competition I shift my mind back to preparation level. Next comp is a few weeks away. Another road trip on the horizon to compete. This time with the ladies. A trio of three taking on the beach venue in the masters division. An unlikely competition team but we are out for fun on this one. Stay tuned for more details.