April 26, 2007 10:19 PM As I haven't had Internet access since Oslo, I bulk-posted four entries.
Scroll down, read, scroll up, rinse, repeat.
Birthplace Of Golf
April 26, 2007 10:15 PM
Rob and I made it to St. Andrews around 9:00 or 9:30 Wednesday night. Almost everything here in Scotland (for food) closes relatively early. We finally managed to find the only restaurant in town that was open. It was an Indian/Bangledeshi restaurant and Rob and I took full advantage. We feasted on some very good appetizers and curries.
Once we were dutifully satisfied, we managed to find the only bar that was open as well. St. Andrews is actually a pretty big college town, so we went where all of them were. We ended up getting pretty plastered over some beer, malts, and of course, Tanqueray & tonic. Yum.
I woke up the next morning with a mild hangover, but Rob and I decided to walk it off. St. Andrews is actually a hidden gem of old history, architecture and ruins. There's an old castle as well as a massive cathedral that's been all but destroyed, but it still incredibly impressive. I think one of my favorite parts of St. Andrews is actually all that stuff. You won't see anything like that in the States, and to know that people were building things like that almost 800 years ago is amazing. I took several pictures that you can check out in the album link on the left.
We grabbed some lunch at the restaurant in the hotel we stayed in, then literally just walked across the street to the starter's shack of the Old Course. The day was turning out to be a Scottish anomaly and a virtual repeat of the afternoon before. Temperatures were into the 60s with barely a cloud in the sky, and by Scotland standards, a very light wind. The Old Course would lose it's most valuable protection as Mother Nature seemed to be on a lunch break.
After settling up at the starter's shack and studying the first hole in the yardage book, it was 1:50. Nist two ball has the tee.
A 3 wood down the left hand side of the first fairway followed by a pitching wedge and a 2-putt for par would open my round on the Old Course at St. Andrews.
I'm not going to get into the hole-by-hole detail like I did at Carnoustie. I'm not even going to get into what the course is like that much. I will say this. Playing the Old Course is like playing on the moon. It's like no other course you've ever played, and you may not even recognize parts of it as an actual golf course. But all of that doesn't matter. It's the Old Course. The footsteps that Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, and all the other legends of the sport have shared over the 18th hole bridge are now shared with me too.
After posting a 97 yesterday, the golf gods smiled down on me. I went out (downwind) in 41, and came home (into the wind) in 40. 81 total. Nothing much else to say except that I shot absolutely lights-out.
After finishing all 18 and shaking hands with Rob, I had a moment to myself. I sat on the steps just behind the 18th green and the 1st tee with the sudden realization of something powerful. A mere dream of mine for a while wasn't only tangible, it was accomplished.
I did it. I played The Old Course.
It's a powerful thing to know that dreams are attainable. Regardless of how lackluster the actual Old Course may be, it's what it now represents that's important.
Walking those holes of golf isn't about golf, but an out-and-back layout of what's possible if you keep dreaming. Sometimes, you wake up to find that reality is in fact better than you could have imagined.
I did it. I dreamt.
What's The First Thing I Told You?
April 26, 2007 10:25 PM
I played a loop on the Championship Course at Carnoustie Golf Links, host to the 2007 Open Championship (British Open) in July.
It all started with the drive. Rob decided we should take "the scenic route" to avoid traffic in Glasgow, which is horrible. The drive was very scenic, taking us North of Glasgow before making our way East across the whole of Scotland bound for Carnoustie. From the minute we got in the car it was an absolute deluge of rain. Non-stop. Think of it like a midwest thunderstorm, only without the thunder and lightning. Just tons and tons of rain. After yesterday's soaking at Hilton Park, we started to become a little concerned. I made a comment to Rob that it might just be the speed effect of rain on the windshield of the car. We stopped a little more than halfway to Carnoustie for lunch, and when we got out of the car, it definitely wasn't the speed effect. Ugh.
A very strange thing happened while we were eating lunch at a very quaint roadside cafe. In Scotland, in April, the rain stopped, and we bathed in nothing but blue skies and bright sun. A cloud wouldn't obscure that bright ball of fire in the sky for the rest of the day. April. Scotland. Yeah, I know.
Arriving at Carnoustie, Rob and I walked around a bit and took in a really neat little golf shop across the street from the course. I picked up a logo ball and a hat to commemorate my visit. Our tee time rolled around and we made our way to the starter. The first thing he said was some advice on the first hole. "Don't hit left because out-of-bounds is over there." He also told us that since they would be hosting the open, any ball in the fairway would have to be placed on a small mat you carried and hit from the mat to avoid divots. The first shot I would hit on the host of the 2007 Open Championship was a lazer drive, boring straight into a 20+ mph headwind. Dead. Left. "What's the first thing I told you?" was the last thing the starter would say before we walked off the first tee, having started our tour of Carnoustie.
For some reason, I can remember almost every shot of my last round of golf. I have for a long time. Carnoustie was no exception. Here's a hole-by-hole recap of my round:
5 Drive out to the left, just shy of O.B. but still in a hazard. Dropped and cracked a 4 iron to 12ft, pin high. 2-putted for bogey
5 Drive out to the left atop a hill, fat shot short and left of the green, PW chip on and a 2-putt for another bogey
5 Drive to the right with a 3 iron off the tee, left a PW short, LW chip off the mat over a bunker, 2-putt bogey
5 Drive long and left, approach with a 5 iron was short and right. Chipped on and 2-putted
5 Drive down the middle, bladed a shot off the shitty mat right, chipped up over a bunker with another 2-putt bogey
5 Drive down the middle, 3W off the mat short and right, PW chip to a pin on the back of the green, 2-putt for par
10 Drive O.B. to the left. Re-teed and shot another left into a hazzard. Approach shot landed in the bunker. Bladed a SW O.B., chipped on, 2-putted for a 10. Fuck.
4 8 iron bounced pin high and shot over the green, putted up and on, 2-putted for bogey
7 Drive O.B. to the left, re-teed and destroyed a ball 321 yards down the center. Approach went long and right, chipped on and 2-putted
6 Drive into burne on adjacent hole to the left, dropped and hit a 4 iron short left, chunked the chip, chipped again on, 2-putted for double
4 3W off the tee long and left, 7 iron approach into the wind bounced pin-high and off the back. putted on, and sank the par putt
4 Took my jacket off because it was so nice. Drive down the middle, 6 iron off the mat to 20 ft. 2-putt par
3 PW downwind punch shot off the tee bounced 3 feet from the pin, ran 20 feet by. 2-putted for par
5 3W into the middle, 5W off the mat landed short right, chipped over a bunker and 2-putted for bogey
6 Drive O.B., re-tee went right. 5 iron downwind stopped on the back edge, 2-putted for double bogey
3 5W went right but pin-high. Chipped a LW off a sidehill lie to within 1 foot. Tapped in for par
9 3 iron tee shot went short right. Worm-burned 2nd, 3rd ended up short and right. Chipped into bunker and took 3 shots to get out, 2-putted for 9
6 Long drive downwind to the left, approach went long left. Chunked first chip, putted on, two putted for double
Final score: A very difficult 97. Not good, but it's a hard course. Every page on the yardage book claims "Most challenging golf course in the World." OK, maybe 97 wasn't so bad after all...
After our round we chatted in the parking lot briefly with the foursome in front of us and decided to all have some beers together in the bar. While that sounded good to me, something else was higher up on my priority list. The ballot at St. Andrews.
You cannot make a tee time to play the Old Course at St. Andrews. It's all done by luck. You apply to play the day before via a ballot. They draw the lottery for tee times the next day at 4 p.m.. Any ballot in before 2 p.m. gets into the lottery. It's pure chance and luck that you end up getting out the next day.
I asked the woman at the front desk of the Carnoustie Hotel if she could look up the ballot for me and get me a print-out of it. She was very nice and did so in about five minutes. As Rob was sitting down with our new Scottish friends, I took the print out and sat by myself on the far side of the bar, combing through the times to find our names. After going through a couple pages, I couldn't see Nist or Bell on the ballot. I started to get very worried. As I made it to the next page and scanned down through the times, there it was.
13.50: NIST, R BELL, R EAGLE VALLEY GC
At 1:50 p.m. Rob and I would tee off on the Old Course as a Two Ball. It was done. The suspense was over. I would be walking across 600 years of history about 18 hours later.
I had rejoined the group of fellas on the other side of the bar, gave Rob the good news, and then continued with my ear-to-ear grin for the rest of the night.
The Glasgow Handshake
April 26, 2007 7:58 PM After leaving Hell's Asshole, better known as London/Heathrow Airport after a two hour delay, which included another tarmac walk/bus ride out to a replacement plane, I finally made it to Scotland. Rob was waiting patiently as he didn't get the phone message I left for him regarding the status of my flight.
My now-checked bag came down the baggage reclaim (yes, reclaim. Strange brits) and Rob and I were off to his parent's house where he's staying. About five minutes into the car ride however, we made an executive decision. Despite the rain, we were going to play 18 holes of golf.
At his parent's house, the only thing I did was lay my suitcase down, grab my golf clubs which Rob's wife Pat had brought directly to Scotland, and out the door we went. It had been pouring all day, but that wasn't about to stop us. We first tried a private course nearby that allowed vistors on, but they had a mini-tournament going on. A recommendation from a member in the pro shop sent us to a course named Hilton Park. Good Recommendation.
Hilton park is a parkland course, which here means two things. Unlike a links course, it isn't flat, but very hilly, and there's a lot of trees. The guy in the pro shop let us out (Hilton is another private course that allows visitors) because it was soaking wet outside. He warned us, and I repeatedly shrugged it off. I've played golf in some serious slop before and it generally hasn't bothered me. The day Rod and I played Eagle Valley a few weeks ago, it was 49 degrees with some damp air when we teed off on number one. When we walked off the 18th green, it was 36 degrees in 30 mph winds with sideways rain. Yeah, I'm a mudder. Despite my slop-bravado, I really should have listened. This course was wet. Wet. WET. Under every step, water would seep out of the ground because the soil was so saturated it had nowhere else to go. By the time we finished, my pants were soaked halfway up to my knees. By far it was the wettest course I've ever played.
The views atop the hills made it worth it however. In one direction your could see cliffs and hills and estates that were hundreds of years old. Sheep were grazing around fields tucked between old stone walls. In the other direction you could look down the valley and see the entire city of Glasgow spread out. We didn't play that fast because we kept stopping and just soaking in the scenery. I have yet to play a course in the United States that has that. Sure Giant's Ridge is a gorgeous course, but it's in the middle of a forest. The sweeping panoramic views just aren't there. Darkness would fall well before we would tap in our final putts. By then, the only thing you could see was the city of Glasgow as it was lit up for the night.
A little mini-story I almost forgot about! And it's good, too. While we were playing, my golf shoe on my left foot really started to hurt my ankle. It was rubbing directly against my ankle bone and by the 11th hole, it got so bad, I almost couldn't walk. The pain was severe. I stopped at a little shack off the 11th tee which was the only place to sit down that we saw on the entire course. I stopped in, took my spike off and tried to figure out how to make this pain go away. I needed to get my foot just a little higher in my shoe. I suddenly recalled that I kept orthodics in my golf bag. Perfect! A small problem with that. I switched golf bags to a new one that I received in a tournament last summer. My orthodics are still sitting in my old bag in my house in Minneapolis. Sonofabitch. I dug through my bag to see if I could find anything that I could form into a makeshift orthodic. I could only find one thing: A stocking cap I brought in case of cold weather. I folded up the hat, jammed it in the bottom of the shoe under my heel, and laced up tight. Sweet relief! It was immediate. ZERO pain. The distance on my irons came back too as when it was painful my subconcious wouldn't let me transfer weight to my left side when going through the ball. So, if y'all end up in a jam like that, use a winter cap. Glorious!
After we finished our round of golf, we changed into dry clothes and found our way to Ashton Lane on the recommendation of Melissa's fiance, Aaron who lived in Glasgow for a year during college. Oh yeah, Melissa's engaged. FYI. Congrats Mary Moe! Anyhoo, Aaron, if you read this, be jealous. We ate Indian food and drank plenty of beer down there. Fantastic!
We eventually went back to Rob's parent's house and tucked in for the night (after a small night cap of course.)
Tomorrow, Carnoustie looms.
Last Day In Oslo; Two Words For Heathrow
April 26, 2007 9:30 PM Yesterday was my last day in Oslo. Both Geir and Aase had committments throughout the day, so I was left to my own facilities. Aase drove me down to Geir's office at the Nobel Peace Institute which is across the street from the Royal Palace. After a brief tour there (where the Nobel Peace Prize was given up to 1990 before moving to City Hall) he walked me down to his "work child", the Nobel Peace Center. It is a museum dedicated to Nobel laureates through the years as well as those who are helping to advance the cause of world peace. The feature exhibit was an Iranian photographer who has traveled the world trying to show the similarities between the "Sons of Abraham", the three religions that follow the Old Testament: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
After that tour, Geir pointed out a few things to see, then left my camera and me to find our way. It was nice having an entire day to myself as I've been surrounded by other people's schedules this entire trip. I walked and walked and walked. I must have logged at least six or seven miles on my legs throughout the day. I saw the Oslo Fortress which was super cool and overlooked the Oslo Fjord. Then I toured the harbor area which has become a very nice shopping and eating area. In fact, I had lunch there on the only nice day of weather where I found myself outside on my entire trip. I sat down by myself and had a slow, leisurely lunch on the patio of a restaurant right on the harbor. It was quite nice.
After my lunch, I hiked up to Parliment, made my way throughout downtown Oslo, and then took in the Royal Palace grounds. eveyrthing is very nice and I enjoyed it very much. I took lots of pictures, but haven't had a chance to download and process them. It's funny...Almost all my Stockholm pics were with my 1969 50mm f/1.4 prime, while almost all my Oslo ones were with my 70-300mm f/4 telephoto. Hm.
After Aase picked me up, her and I went to a famous park near their house. It's a sculpture park by an artist named Frogner. There must be 200 or so of his sculptures there, all of the human form. The only downside was that the battery in my camera died. Oh well. Aase and I sat in the park for an hour and a half or so, talked for a while, read a little bit, and just soaked in the good weather and good company. I enjoyed it, and I hope she did too.
After Geir returned home, I took them both out to dinner for being so gracious to me while I was there. They are magnificent hosts, and I'm sure I still owe them. Their son Erik will be living in Chicago next year, and I'll pay-it-forward should erik ever want or need to stay with me. Most definitely. After dinner we all crashed. The next morning, I would face living hell.
OK, so first hellish thing. I am NOT a morning person. I was in a taxi at 5:45 in the morning. UGH. The cab driver was nice and much like Stockholm, Oslo has an express train directly to the airport from the central train station. The train is much faster and significantly less expensive than taking a cab all the way to the airport.
Oslo airport is pretty straight forward, and I found my way easily to my gate. The women at the security check point are god damn supermodels too. Wow. I would not have minded my future horror in the least had it happened in Norway. Keep Reading. I did have to clear Norwiegan immigration, which didn't understand why an American would not have arrived by air, rather by train, let alone from Stockholm. I guess since I was leaving their country they didn't care too much, because all my answers seemed satisfactory.. A smooth flight into London/Heathrow was delayed slightly due to heavy fog in Oslo. The delay departing Oslo would cause problems arriving into Heathrow, something which my aviation knowledge has taught me.
Heathrow is one of the world's largest and busiest airports, but it's also what's known as a slot controlled airport. That means that each airline has very specific arrival and departure slots, and only has that many. These slots have become big business as airlines often sell their slots to others for millions of dollars. The other well-known airport that is slot controlled is Tokyo-Narita, another one of the world's busiest.
The fog in Oslo made us miss our slot, so we had to re-queue into the arrivals traffic causing us to fly a few circles around greater London for half an hour or so. I didn't mind as taking in the city below was a great view. it's a huge city, sprawling, yet every building is jammed next to every other. My own troubles wouldn't start until I hit the ground. Previous exploits with the United States of America State Department would punch me in the mind.
My first concern was the tightness of my connection. It was a little under two hours, which by Heathrow standards is very tight. Living near one of the world's most efficient airports (Minneapolis/St. Paul International) I had trouble understanding this, but I'd soon learn. Hell, I made a 23 minute connection in Memphis once. After arriving in Heathrow, in a matter of slightly over an hour and a half, I would:
Arrive with no gates available, requiring the "tarmac walk" from plane to terminal
Switch terminals on the opposite side of one of the world's largest airports
Almost get in a fist-fight with a Norwiegan woman who thought she was more important that 150 of her closest flight companion friends (I invented a word: Americanlish when telling her exactly what kind of language I spoke, comprised mostly of four-letter words
Removed from security once
Processed by security three times
Be denied entry to the United Kingdom
Threatened with deportation to the U.S.
Threatened with deportation to Norway
Get "champagne room" treatment by UK Immigration
Two words for Heathrow: Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck youuuuuuuuuuuu!!!!!!!!
I will never fly through this airport again. Northwest, PLEASE, the slots are not worth it. I'm sure London/Gatwick is better!
All of this trouble stemmed from three things: First, I had two bags, when flights departing from the UK to any destination, even other UK cities, can only carry-on one. British Airways should really update their site as they say any UK-to-UK flight can carry one bag + briefcase. Second, all my proof-of-itinerary was on my laptop, electronically. They wanted printed hard copies. Lastly of course, this all backtracks to a story which I'll have to tell later involving me, my passport, and the terrorist watch list. Yeah, it's a good story.
I don't want to get into too much detail, but I'll just say that after my "interview" and demonstrating my itinerary and the fact that Rob was a real person, things were fine. I've had to leave and re-enter two terminals and take off my shoes and belt more times than I'd like to count. I've been next to (or through) and X-ray machine so many times since I got to London I'm pretty sure I've developed cancer. Oh, another FYI...Commenting about that wand thing they use tickling is apparently NOT amusing to security. Write that down. And I did actually have to LEAVE the airport terminal and set foot outside in London Proper, so chalk up another stamp in the passport.
I will say this: Having a uniformed passport control agent as well as two guys in suits take you into a private room to discuss why you're in their country is flat-out nerve racking. I was alone, scared, and had no way out. I took some advice I got from work: Stick to the facts. I told them everything I could, provided all the proof on my laptop, and hoped for the best. It all worked out in the end, but definitely one of the more stressful moments of my life.
So I just got to my gate now, and with a delay, the plane leaves in about 20 minutes (how the hell did I get through all that in 90 minutes, JESUS). I'm solving this problem by adopting a quote from Homer Simpson. "Alcohol. The cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems." So I'm getting shit-faced on Stella Artois right now. And holy hell is it good to see a real pint glass again. Working on number three and I've been sitting here for about 20 minutes. Not bad, eh? This is SO not the right solution to my problems right now, but damn it feels good. I figure I better get the liver up to snuff for Rob anyways. "Macho Stout" in Scotland isn't that wussy beer in Sweden. It's got twigs and leaves and shit in it.
So, to all of you, my journey continues, albeit strangely. I'm looking forward to seeing my friend Rob, shaking his hand, and playing some golf.
And to Heathrow, go eat a bag of hair you fucking douchebag airport.
Flight delayed again. Stella #4 where are you! FUCK YOU HEATHROW! To quote Johnny Five from Short Circuit, "YOUR MOTHER WAS A SNOWBLOWER!"
Update 90 minutes later:
Son of a motherless goat!!!!! Aircraft is term'ed out of service. Waiting for a replacement A319. Oh, this is gonna be a looooooong wait. Rob and I are supposed to play golf today.
My hatred for Heathrow runs deeper...
Country Number Three
April 22, 2007 6:37 PM
Well, considering I never actually left Schipol Airport in Amsterdam, one could probably argue that this is actually only country number two. However, the stamps in my passport would disagree with that logic, as I have one from the Netherlands and Sweden. So there.
As the train to Oslo crossed the border into Norway, the only English announcement on the train that was given was that we were now in Norwiegan territory. I took a picture out the window of the train immediately after the announcement. A few seconds later the train would pass by the first sign of Norwiegan civilization, rolling past a small farmhouse with a huge flag, flying the colors of Norway. I wonder if they were trying to make a statement to the Swedes a few hundred feet across the border. Ha.
After I arrived at the main train station in Oslo, I was quickly met by Geir, a family friend that has known my father for something like 40 years. I shook his hand and we made our way to his car. He took me on a very brief tour of Oslo before taking me to his place, where I am staying now with him and his wife Aase. They are wonderful hosts, and I've always liked the both of them. It's an honor to be able to be a guest in their house.
Walking into their house is an interesting experience. You see, while I joke about being kind of a big deal, Geir in fact is a big deal. The living room walls in their house are covered with pictures of Geir and Aase with the most powerful people in the world. Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan, Mikael Gorbachev, and several others all hang from these walls. It's a bit intimidating, especially if you start up a political conversation with the guy. He's worked as director of the Nobel Peace Institute for quite sometime, and dedicated his life to making the world a more peaceful place for all of us. I think I've held my own however, even watching an Inconvienent Truth the other night with him.
Shortly after I arrived, both of their sons did too. I've met their youngest son Helge several times but never met their older son Erik. Erik is a philosopher, so he and I had a few interesting conversations. He and his girlfriend Camilla tagged along with Geir and I during a site-seeing visit to the Oslo fjord. After returning from the sight-seeing, Helge and his wife Eline joined the rest of us for dinner which was very enjoyable. They all speak flawless English and were kind enough to me to speak English the entire night. My crash course in Norwiegan would come the next day.
Helge and Eline recently had a son. As is tradition in Norway, the naming party for their son, Jergen Hellmer, was today. Generally it is held in a church, but both of them preferred to have a more private ceremony involving family and friends. It was held here at Geir and Aase's place and involved about 16 people. It was interesting to meet so many different personalities from this country, but I definitely need to brush up on my Norwiegan.
After the party and after everybody left, which was around 7:00 p.m., Aase, Geir and I sat down in the kitchen and had a drink and nibbled on some snacks. Geir and I talked politics and soccer (the guy is the world's most rabbid sports fan. I even had to use "a guy I know" to let him see his first-ever Timberwolves game while in St. Paul appearing on TPT television) for a bit, then the conversation moved to more general topics, but it was very nice to finally have a quiet moment. After that I used the power of the new-found wireless Internet access somewhere nearby to call my Mom via the Internet to give her a chance to talk with Geir and Aase. A few other family calls later and I find myself getting ready to tuck in for some sleep.
Tomorrow is a work day for both of them, so I'll find myself wandering the town alone. It should be fun and give me my first chance in over a week to have some time for photos by myself. It's hard to be creative with others tagging along, however kudos to Tom for actually enjoying me stopping every 50 feet to snap a picture in Stockholm. Except for one where I was being threatened with death by the horn of a car while I stood in the middle of an intersection refusing to move for "the shot."
Hopefully tomorrow's update includes some pictures of Oslo as it is a beautiful city. Then Tuesday morning it's the early flight out of Oslo on British Airways over to Scotland for golf!
Skol! (which is actually spelt with a letter my keyboard is not capable of representing. Three extra letters in Norwiegan ya know.)
Off To Oslo, Norway
April 21, 2007 7:32 PM
First off, I've posted a photo album of Stockholm. I forgot to install the software for my camera, but I'm a scrappy guy, and figured out how to use a different RAW image processing software to do the same job. In fact, I think I like it better. You'll also notice I added a new section of photos for travel. I also have an album from San Francisco and Napa posted. As it was my honeymoon, some of the pictures were very difficult for me to look through, but I've wanted to post them for a long time. Nobody, not even my family, has seen any pictures from San Fran and Napa because of how quickly afterwords she was tossed out. Look for more cities as this journey, and those yet ahead of me, continue.
This morning I bid myself farewell to Stockholm. Tom and I took last advantage of the hotel breakfast which we had enjoyed the entire week with the rest of the employees of our company that were staying in the same hotel. This morning it was just Tom and myself as everyone else left on Friday, departing for various parts of the world.
After breakfast, Tom walked with me over to the train station which was literally right next door to the hotel. Earlier he had gone for a morning walk and found the platform my train was to depart from. In the lobby of Centralenstation, I shook Tom's hand and wished him well on his journey to Newcastle and then back home to Minneapolis. He's traveled the world several times over and was great to have along this week. It definitely made the week easier for me, and I appreciated it very much.
When the train to Oslo pulled up, I realized I had a severe problem: I couldn't read anything on the ticket. A very lucky guess managed to get me in the right car, and then a wonderful woman helped me understand which seat was mine. After settling in to my seat, the train slowly pulled away from the station and rolled gently through downtown Stockholm. A week of constant clouds and rain has given way to clear blue skies and a brilliant sun. After a few minutes through the suburbs, the city would give way to tree covered hills and open fields.
Right now I find myself stopped momentarily at Vingaker station, 155 kilometers outside of Stockholm, breaking from our rumble through the Swedish countryside. The first class ticket is worth its weight in gold as I not only have a very comfortable seat and a window, I also have power for my laptop. I thought about flying simply to save time (this train ride is over six and a half hours) but Tom talked me out of it, and I'm so very glad he did. It's comfortable inside, beautiful outside, and is a travel memory I'll now have with me for the rest of my life.
This train ride reminds me of an adventure my parents took my brother and I on back in Utah when heading out to Lake Powell (I think that's where we were headed, but it might have been Heber, I dunno.) We rode Amtrak from Provo with my Dad while my Mom drove to the station at the other end to meet us. The train lumbered its way up the hills and down the valleys of the mountains with spectacular views in every direction. The slight rocking of the train and the smoothness of the ride was very comfortable and being able to look in every direction was great. It was an experience I will remember for a long time.
I've now left Vingaker and the train is winding itself through forests, lakes, and farmland. It looks a lot like out-state Minnesota which makes it easy to understand why the Scandanavians settled there. There is something different about it though. The pristine-ness of parts seems to be untouched and the towns maintain an old-world charm. Every town I roll through has a massive church at its center, and the houses are all packed tightly together. Red houses with white trim, much like the home my very Swedish grandmother lives in seems to be immensely popular too.
Something I realized shortly after I got on the train is that I'm the only American on it. While I've been out of the United States for almost a week, I've been surrounded by my American counterparts. Even though Tom is from the United Kingdom, he's an American citizen.
I'm having a repeat of my Shawshank Moment from the other day, again sitting with my eyes out the window, and a smile ear-to-ear.
At this moment, for the first time in my life, I am alone as a stranger in a foreign land.
You're Welcome Stockholm
April 20, 2007 4:23 PM
If you don't get the joke in the title, go see Blades of Glory.
I just got back to my hotel room from my last day here in not so sunny Stockholm. I can check a week's worth of incredibly productive work off my list as well as one of Europe's magnificent cities.
Today was chalked full of meetings, but we did have time to go out to lunch with most of the Marketing department here in Stockholm. Most of them have been to St. Paul so I know most of them fairly well. Hell, I dragged a few of them to downtown Minneapolis after I refused to allow them to go to the Mall of America for a second day in a row a few summers ago. Took them out to Brit's and we drank beer out on the patio. Good times. Anyhoo, we walked about 10 minutes away to a little Japanese restaurant that was OK at best, but still a million times better than eating at the campus cafeteria. It's almost like high school eating there with tables that seat 20 or so people. You end up just working over lunch because that's the only thing you all have in common.
Getting out of the office for lunch is something I cherish, and today was no exception. The food was OK, but we didn't talk one minute about work, instead exchanging stories about our travels, life in the US vs. Sweden, and other things that had abosolutely nothing to do with work.
After a 3:30 meeting, Tom and I decided to check out of the office a bit early. Our last pair of subway tickets was joyfully used as getting out of that office in the middle of nowhere was very much enjoyed.
Downtown is nuts on a Friday, but Tom and I set out to explore more of the town. We probably walked about two or three miles before we gave up and decided to get some food. Another hole-in-the-wall restaurant presented itself and we were able to get a table right away. About 10 or 15 minutes after we sat down, the entire restaurant was packed. Good timing, eh?
I ended up drinking a beer they nickname the "macho stout" here. The sad part is that it's a NOTHING beer. I almost went into the bar to challenge the biggest guy there to a drinking contest on the stuff because I'm positive I could have mopped the floor with any of these sissy Swedish drinkers. No problemo.
I've managed to figure out the last of my travel worries, scoring a first class train ticket to Oslo for next to nothing. It's a six hour train ride, but I'll have the luxury of wireless Internet on the train as well as a nice, big, comfy seat. It should be perfect to watch the Swedish and Norwiegan countryside roll by.
So as far as my blog is concerned, I shall bid Stockholm farewell. It's a great city to introduce any American to Europe as everybody speaks fluent English. It's also got plenty of history and great things to see. Do yourself a favor though and don't come for work. It eats up a lot of your day. :-)
You're welcome Stockholm.
April 20, 2007 4:40 AM I made one pre-trip mistake: My old laptop from work died and I received a replacement about a month ago, and forgot to install the camera software for my Canon digital SLR before I left. So I won't be able to actually grab any of the images off my camera until I get home. Oh well...Y'all can wait.
I took the advice of Rob's wife and took an Ambien to knock me out and get my body on Stockholm time which worked surprisingly well on Wednesday. I still managed to shrug off most of knockout effect of the drugs (which has been going on for some time now) but still managed to get about three hours of sleep, which about as much as I've gotten any night for the past while.
Tom and I ended up working a long day on Wednesday. We were in the office before 8:00 a.m. and didn't walk out of here until close to 8:30 that night. We didn't manage to head out of the hotel for dinner until well after 9:00 p.m.
My VP and my director decided to join Tom and I for dinner, and after a long walk across downtown Stockholm we found a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant that was spectacular. The food was good, and a few beers and glasses of wine definitely made for a good evening. The one thing I really appreciate about my management is that when you're outside the office, there isn't much of a pecking order. We were just four Americans in downtown Stockholm having dinner together.
A chilly walk back to the hotel was followed by a relatively sleepless night. Jet lag is an interesting bitch. Your body gets so out of wack, it doesn't know when it wants to be awake or asleep. Tom has been telling me he's been waking up around 4:00 in the morning, while I seem to crash until about midnight, stay up all night, then knock out another hour before the morning wake up call rings. Either way, it sucks.
Yesterday was another fast-and-furious work day out in the suburbs of Stockholm. After our 12+ hour day on Wednesday, Tom and I vowed to get out of the office at a decent hour. After lunch, the fatigue of travel started to kick in again and Tom and I were just flat and dead. We got through a few afternoon meetings and then made a dash for the door while the gettin' was good.
The one thing that does help a lot is just being outside. After a quick turnaround at the hotel, Tom and I headed out towards Old Town Stockholm which he and I had briefly walked through a few days ago. It's a beautiful part of town and the one place I've been here that makes you feel like you are actually in a different country. It was also the first time my camera saw the light of day.
Old Town Stockholm is on one of the smaller islands (Stockholm itself is about 14 islands) that's almost dead-center in the middle of the rest of them. It's a small part of town and is just a series of very narrow pedestrian streets and tiny, tucked away alleys. The buildings are hundreds of years old, and every where you look it just feels different than the United States.
The Royal Palace is also located in Old Town. Tom and I got lucky and managed to show up for the evening changing of the guard. Just something else cool to see.
After a good dinner at a hole-in-an-alley restaurant, we headed back to the hotel. It did get surprisingly cold last night and the light rain did change over briefly to light snow. Once I hit the hotel, I fired up the laptop and exchanged some emails with a friends and co-workers just getting back from their lunch breaks in Minneapolis. After that, I popped a Benadryl and crashed.
For the first time in almost eight weeks, I slept the entire night.
Welcome To Stockholm
April 19, 2007 3:21 AM Jet lag. What a bitch.
First off, I'm seven hours ahead of my usual central time, so the time stamp you see above is blatantly incorrect. Combine the time change with the fact this server sucks at keeping time, and you'll end up roughly nine hours off. It's actually almost 1:00 a.m. in Stockholm right now.
Tom and I arrived yesterday afternoon, both absolutely whipped from the travel. It's a LONG way over here, and not sleeping the night before in a rush to pack and finish laundry didn't help. We went straight from the airport to the office and was there for about an hour just dealing with the logistics so that we'd hit the ground running today. We caught a train back downtown where we are staying and walked around town for a bit, grabbed a bite to eat, and cashed out around 8:00 in the evening.
I still didn't sleep much, but loaded up on Benadryl overnight to fight off being wide awake, trading that for tossing and turning. I woke up tired, but felt a hundred times better than yesterday. A breakfast at the hotel later and we were on the subway back to the office. After a nice 10 minute walk through pouring rain, we settled in and got a TON of work done in a day. I feel completely reinforced about why we came because in a matter of hours we overcame months worth of email exchanges.
Outside of work, I've learned a few things about Sweden:
You have to wear tight pants. This includes guys. Not that I'm complaining about most of the women (of which there are many) but seriously, MANel toe is not something I need to see regularly.
I know why the Swedes settled Minnesota. It looks exactly the same. 'Nuff said.
Diet Coke, which is actually Coca-Cola Light, uses a different sweetener and tastes like shit.
The Swedish work ethic is absolute crap. They all stand around coffee machines all day and have no clue how to actually get shit done.
Everyone rides bicycles. For real.
Every third sign ends in the word "fart", which I assume is some sort of caution. It's funny at first, but quickly loses it's appeal.
I know this is a sucky first day report, but I'm DEAD tired, and I'm going to crash. I'll report back tomorrow hopefully.
Dear Skim (et al,)
April 18, 2007 11:20 AM Dear Skim (et al,)
I not-so-unfortunately have to use you for this post. It's a response to an email you wrote me around Christmas time offering your support for what happened last fall. The last line you wrote in your email was "I'll keep the hope alive and you can have it back when you're ready."
The pity party is over. When you get a chance, stop by and drop hope off. I'm ready for it again.
I've slowly been returning to form the last two months or so. It's been like a car that just doesn't want to start. At first the engine just didn't want to turn over. Once it finally did, it just kept idling rough. This past Sunday morning, all the kinks managed to work themselves out, and I'm running like my old Porsche after a visit to Hans at Carousel Auto - Purring like a kitten.
Saturday was a morning blitzkrieg. Due to the unfortunate events that happened a week or so ago in Japan, I had to reschedule my trip to Tokyo for the holidays. It was a tough decision to make, but my brother and his wife Aya need the time to grief and deal with everything that is going on. My heart is there with them, but it's best my extremely needy American ass not be.
While on the phone with my brother going over some details of him changing jobs in all of this, I was exchanging emails with my backup travel plan: The Links Trust at St. Andrews. Yep, that's right. The Old Course. The birthplace of it all. Golf as it was literally meant to be played. A tentative booking I made with a wonderful woman named Linzi in St. Andrews at a hotel 112 steps from the first tee was trumped by another reservation agent there. She sent me the bad news that she would be unable to accomodate myself and my scottish friend/co-worker Rob. Mere minutes after replying to her, I would hear back from her that the trumping reservation was cancelled, and we could still have the room if we wanted it. Google Talk with Japan 5,902 miles West in one ear, the phone and St. Andrews 4,155 miles East in the other.
How rough is life that when rescheduling a trip to Japan, I was able to change my work ticket to Sweden to open-jaw out of Glasgow, Scotland and play golf on the most famous courses in the world. Carnoustie, host of the 2007 Open Championship, and St. Andrews, the most famous of them all. The cost for a one-way ticket from Oslo (yep, cramming a weekend to Norway inbetween Stockholm and Scotland) was $77.00 USD.
Finishing up the planning for this very "Bob" trip was more of a relief than anything. After that I had to run a bunch of errands before my first KICKBALL practice of the year. We met at the ball fields about two blocks from my house and played for about an hour. I was amazed at how much a simple practice (which was more of an excuse to drink beer than anything) helped out. I'm excited about our chances for the city championship this year. Really am.
After kickball I had the team and a bunch of other friends over for beer and barbeque. The weather could not have been better with sun and 60 degree temps. We all sat out on my wonderful deck and just soaked in the day. It was also the first time since late last summer that all of us got together. Seeing them all and having "that" back was fuel for my tank. Good beer, good food, and great friends on a blissfully gorgeous Saturday should make anybody feel good.
This past Sunday we threw a party to celebrate my sister's birthday, as well as her husband's, which is in a week or so. It was another stunning day, with the sun shining bright and warmth in the air. After what was already one of the greatest weekends ever, I had even more. After a delicious brunch that my Mom made, the boys hit the golf course. I paid for Kent's round as his birthday gift, and we went up to a course that my dad is a member at. The first thing I did when we hit the first tee was shut my cell phone off. Something I haven't done on a golf course in three years. The great weather continued and outside of two horrible holes, I shot a very good round. With handicap applied, a 3-under 69. 86 without. :-)
The only down in this entire weekend was Sunday night and into Monday morning. Since I was out all day, I didn't get any packing or laundry done. When I got home that night, I was just too exhausted to start throwing loads in the wash. I tossed and turned on the couch attempting to sleep until about 4:30 in the morning when the nervousness of my two week adventure and everything I had to do that day caught up with me. I started packing and doing laundry like a madman. Then I managed to get my golf bag cleaned out and packed as well. Around 7:30 in the morning, I'd have to move on to the next thing. I actually had to work.
Sunday morning, when driving up to my Mom's it hit me like a freight train. My internal car found it's "tune." I don't think I've had sheer joy just come at me like that before but in an instant I knew.
I'm free again.
It's all over. The pain is over.
I threw on the sunglasses, popped open the sunroof, blasted up Sirius satellite radio, and spent half an hour in my car with an ear-to-ear grin on my face because life and I made peace in that instant.
So now I circle back to you Skim...
Shawshank redemption is one of my favorite movies of all time. It's a movie about one simple thing: Hope.
At the end of the movie after his best friend Andy has successfully escaped prison, Red (played by Morgan Freeman) is paroled. After struggling on the outside world, he decides to find his friend Andy. The last two lines in the movie are two of the most powerful. Morgan Freeman is giving a narration as he breaks his parole and heads to Mexico to meet his friend. The camera shows him sitting in a bus with the window open and his arm bent out of it, smiling like he has never known pain. As the bus goes by, his narration ends with this:
Hope is a good thing, maybe even the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.
I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend, and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams.
I'm sitting in my own bus right now. An Airbus A330-300 crossing the southern tip of Hudson Bay at 37,000 feet on it's way across Canada before going feet-wet over the North Atlantic enroute to Amsterdam. Much like Red, I sit here against the window with a smile across my face, knowing no pain. I carry with me the excitement of a free man at the start of a journey whose conclusion is uncertain.
Hope is a good thing, maybe even the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.
So The Funniest Thing Happened The Other Day...
April 11, 2007 8:48 PM
Last night I went to the Science Museum of Minnesota to see the Omni Theater showing of Hurricane on the Bayou. The movie was originally supposed to be about the destruction of the Mississippi River Delta near the Gulf Coast, but while the film crew was making that movie, Hurricane Katrina hit. The focus of the movie was still about the wetlands and marsh preservation but used the hurricane as an example of how important the river delta really is. I highly recommend seeing it to y'all. Plus, the Omni Theater is really cool to begin with.
But that wasn't the funny part...
As we were leaving, I stopped in the restroom. As I was walking down the hallway towards it, a six or seven year old kid started shouting "HI" behind me. After the second or third time, I finally acknowledged his existence with a "Hey buddy." He was one of these kids with that rocket-scientist-from-the-Simpsons voice, and he would not shut up.
So he pulls up to a urinal to void himself, and he has to stand on his tip-toes just to make sure his fledgling man-gear doesn't make contact with the lip of the urinal. Smart kid for that at least.
This is pretty much what he says the entire time he's unloading. I'm sure I've left some things out, because he seriously did not shut up.
"The hurricane movie was supposed to be the most popular of Omnifest '07, but it didn't seem that busy tonight. I really think one of them was busier. I've seen them all. I saw them all in Omnifest '06 too. The one about the Nile River was supposed to be the popular one that year, but it turned out that the one about the beavers was. I have all of them from last year on DVD, and the beaver one was my favorite too."
For the girls, the next part may not make sense, but every guy will laugh...
The urinals were equiped with automatic flushers, which for most adult males is about chest-high above the urinal and detects when a person is there, and when they leave, it flushes it. Well, this kid's head wasn't even near as high as it needed to be. His solution? Begin jumping up and down constantly until the thing will flush. It never did, but that's not the REALLY funny part...
As he began jumping, and even though he was done voiding himself, he never actually did pack things back up, if you know what I mean.
So there's a six or seven year old kid, rambling endlessly about Omnifest '06 and '07 (which is hilarious enough) jumping up and down in front of a men's urinal (again, more of the funny) hanging on to his junk which is still sticking out of his pants as he does it (the marachino cherry on this funny sundae.)
The only thing I said to the kid was "OK little guy...Maybe you should just pack up the goods, wash the hands and call it a day. I really don't think it's going to flush for ya."
This is one of those Mastercard "priceless" commercials in hiding, I just know it.
We Can Stick Around And See This Night Through
April 9, 2007 1:43 AM
For the first time in a not-so-long time, I was called out. Several times in fact.
Friday, after celebrating Tartan Day (sidebar: How many of you actually know what Tartan is?) with several people in the first floor bar in our building, I went out to Minneapolis with a wonderful date. Running late actually turned into a benefit, as we abandoned our original dinner plan and ended up over at Azia Restaurant which was much closer to where she lives. We split a couple of appetizers and Thom Pham (as always) turned out some wonderful grub and service was quick, which we definitely needed as we were headed to a show that evening.
The show was over at the Brave New Workshop and was nothing short of hilarious. I highly recommend that everybody go catch a show there. Pay attention though, they sneak in a lot of pop-culture references. I found myself as the only guy who "got" a few jokes. One of which was a skit that ended up being the complete lyrics to Total Eclipse of the Heart. Gold Jerry! Gold!
The next stop was to the best sweet stop in town. Sebastian Joe's Ice Cream. She ran in to several friends there (for some odd reason) that she hadn't seen since college, and given our somewhat hurried dinner, it was nice to get something else to eat.
She had never been to Brit's Pub, so of course, I had to introduce her to it. In addition, I managed to talk her into an authentic Scottish beer (Tennants...yum) as well. After all, it was Tartan Day. ;-P I imagine it will be on her must-go-again list.
After that, we headed over to the Shouthouse where a large group of her friends was having a good time. She was honestly afraid about dragging a guy in an Italian-stitched suit into that group, but I fared plenty well and they all seemed like great people.
So after a five-stop date, we finally called it a night and I took her home. All-in-all, an extremely hard to beat evening.
So how did I get called out? At each and every "intermission" in the evening, we both seemed to have that "Now what?" look. Every time I was ready to suggest giving up, the night continued. I had to pull up my socks a bit and tough it out. Who cares that I was at work early for a conference call with Sweden, it was Friday night!
As I was driving home tonight after spending Easter Sunday with family, I caught a great song on The Current. It's called Young Folks by Peter Bjorn and John. It's a catchy tune, but I like what it has to say. I was soaking in the entire weekend and found it earily strange when I was thinking about how much fun I had on Friday that this song popped on.
We were having such a good time together, neither of us wanted to check out. It was a night much like the song says:
all we care 'bout is talking talking only me and you we can stick around and see this night through
Hell, just listen to the opening few lines. If that doesn't align with my current universe, I'm not sure what does.
Anyhoo, the song is above, and my blog's first attempt at embedded YouTube content.
Two days ago I received some rather unfortunate news from Japan. Aya's father, Yanase-san, was rushed to the hospital after losing consciousness while at work. Despite the hospital's best efforts, several hours later he would pass on.
The one similarity between Japanese funerals and Western funerals is that black should be worn. While I cannot be in Japan today, I'm still showing my respect for Yanase-san by wearing a black suit and black tie.
So if any of you are reading this with your headphones on, please, for a minute, take them off and give Yanase-san a moment of silence.
April 1, 2007 3:09 PM Almost every person and organization on the planet uses some measure of time to mark important dates or milestones. Most of us use a gregorian calendar to mark the days, months and years. People celebrate their birthday every year. We all celebrate various holidays. Most companies break the year down in to fiscal quarters. Either way, there is a consistent measure of time.
Mine is 102 days.
My marriage to Nina legally lasted a whopping 102 days. Throughout that period of time, we were actually separated longer than we were together. I'll spare the details of the first 102 days, as you can read most of it here.
Today marks the passing of 102 days since the notice of judgement for our divorce was entered. Trust me, the irony of this day falling on April Fool's Day is not lost on me. I could barely stand to leave the house after the first 102 days, so how are things today? While I've been actively keeping my blog going, I haven't touched much on Nina in a long time. So here goes.
In my first 102 days post, I made a comment that the pain doesn't actually get better with time, that it gets worse. That's partially true. When the emotional rollercoaster decides to hit a dip, it's pain thats all-consuming and unimaginable. It's something I wouldn't wish on anyone.
The last really difficult holiday I had to deal with was Christmas Day. The entire day was just an extended string of painful things, one after another. New Years Eve was like a compressed version of my rollercoaster. The day started out really hard as it was the one year anniversary of my proposal to Nina. That evening however I was surrounded by so many good friends, it completely changed my mood for the better.
Nina's birthday was on January 10th. It also probably marked the moment where I may have actually started to turn a corner. It wasn't until late that night that I truly realized what day it was. I had a date that evening, and remarkably I didn't have a lot about Nina to think about.
Valentine's Day was something I wasn't looking forward to either. For the first Valentine's Day Nina and I spent together, I surprised her with a trip to Hawaii. This Valentine's Day I woke up feeling great, and had a great evening with a wonderful date.
Since then, there hasn't been a lot to force Nina into my head, and I've done pretty well to put her behind me. The difficulties of my trip to San Diego inevitably forced her onto my mind, so for a few weeks after returning home, I slowly started a crawl back into despair.
For the last few weeks however, I've managed to crawl right back out. I've been tremendously busy the last few weeks and have also managed to keep one helluva social calendar going. Keeping myself occupied helps a ton, so I've been trying to stay as busy as I can.
I've also been forcing myself to do three things that I grossly neglected to do while Nina and I were together.
As an ethics major, live a reasonable, just, and most importantly good life.
Never sell myself short.
Treat my friends and family with the same amount of caring and respect they've given me pre, during, and post Nina.
What do I mean by those? I'll use a couple of examples.
Nina always wanted to get involved for charitable events, but it had nothing to do with charity. What she wanted was to get all glammed up and go to black tie dinners and things like that. In my opinion, that's definitely not a good reason.
In the last few months, I've made it a point to be a better human being. I donated a bunch of stuff to a woman whose belongs were stolen. I've driven several coworkers who have missed a bus a ride home. I've tried to spend more time with my family. All small things that individually might not be much, but they are small things that can happen every day that require a little sacrifice on my part, but it's for the right reasons.
The second example is sporting one. every year I lived out in Woodbury, either as a renter or home owner, I always played golf the first day the course opened in the spring. I would either play alone, or play with friends. In an average summer, I would log somewhere between four and five rounds of golf every week.
The minute Nina came around, all that changed. Last summer, even though Nina and I were in the middle of planning a wedding, there was still plenty of time for recreation. Not my recreation though. Last summer, from the day the courses opened until the day they closed, I play five rounds of golf. That's right, five. All summer. Her parent's golf tourney, two rounds with my old man, my company's annual golf tourney, and one round with a couple guys from work. That's it. While I can't blame Nina directly for keeping me off the course as it was my own decision not to play (even though she would call crying several times to make me feel guilty) it still emphasizes how much of my life I gave up for hers.
Never again will I sacrafice things in my life that I truly enjoy. The "right" woman out there should understand that and support it, instead of try to crush it.
The third example is simply the fact that I was a major asshole to a ton of people for three years. The entire time I was with Nina.
When a friend of mine named Curt was going to get married, we sort of had to plan a shotgun bachelor party for him. We ended up out on a Monday night taking Curt from bar to bar until he could barely walk. I organized everyone and I know Curt had a great time.
But I can't say that I know he had a great time, I can only speculate.
While I did organize it, I received a "you never pay attention to me" phone call at about 9:00 that night. I would leave for Nina, and miss out on the party that I organized. This is just one of many examples of brushing promises and commitments to my friends aside. To this day, there's still some skepticism in my friends. Last night I ended up out with Jason and his wife, but was about 45 minutes late due to a state trooper taking interest in me and following me for 20+ miles. When I finally got to his door, the first thing he said was "I didn't even bother calling because I figured you were just standing me up again."
I could give you all a day-by-day of my mental state over the last 102 days, but I doubt any of you have the patience for that.
To sum up the last 102 days, I guess I can say that things are getting better, just much slower than I would imagine. It's all mental though, because if I think about the last 102 days, I really have nothing to complain about.
It turns out dropping a few pounds and shaving a bit more regularly is something that the women have taken notice in, especially as word spreads that I'm a bachelor again. It's still a bit strange going out on dates though because there are unavoidable comparisons to Nina. Probably the most interesting thing though is that all of them are unique in their own right, and I have yet to go out with a woman who isn't amazing in some way. Even a blind date that was arranged by a friend I hadn't seen in probably a year turned out to be a lot of fun. She was my psuedo-date for our domination of the trivia last week, and her and I went out again on Friday.
The list of names and numbers in my phone has just about doubled in the last 102 days. Meeting a bunch of new people as well as reconnecting with several old friends has been a lot of fun.
I even made it a point to personally see almost everyone who was invited to our wedding. I even took them Christmas presents. I even saw Nina's family. I couldn't make it to several of out-state friends and family however, but Federal Express took care of those. In fact, the only people I have not seen or heard from would be Nina's parents. It bothered me for a while they never responded to a letter I wrote them, but as each day goes by, it matters to me less and less.
I've also realized that by not having to pay for two people to travel, one of which was a very fussy traveler, I really have nothing to stop me from going anywhere. While I don't think I ever told Nina, I do keep a list of about 30 cities around the world that I dream of seeing. I knew with her it would be next to impossible, so it stayed as nothing more than a dream.
A few months ago I was reading something about Montreal, which was on my list of places to see. It was an article that called it the Paris of North America. I ended up hopping on a last-minute flight and spent four days there. Despite being cold, it was a wonderful city and being surrounded by french speaking people so close to home was fun.
Since then I've been to San Diego, which despite my trip sucking, it is a great city. In the next month, I will literally fly around the world to Europe and Asia, and then in a little more than 6 months I'll be going to South America and then out to Los Angeles.
In a matter of months, I'll be crossing off four of those cities which before were nothing more than a dream. I feel almost like a bird that's been released from it's cage. Since I'm knocking four continents off the list this year, I may see if there's a slick way to knock off the other two, Australia and Africa. How cool would it be to say I hit every continent in a year?
While I have so much more to say, I have to cut this off. I really would like to add more but I made a promise to a friend today and there's no way in hell I'm not keeping it.
Eagle Valley Golf Club opened and Rod and I have a 2:32 p.m. tee time. And Rod, I promise I'll be there.
How's this for an analogy to the last 102 days:
I'm back out on the course with promises to my friends. The swing is a little bit rusty and the course management isn't all there, but the important thing is that my spikes are laced up and I'm out there swinging.
This is the word barf of a guy named Bob (Ethics major turned Software Engineer) who lives in Minneapolis.
Email me. Buy some photo gallery prints. Do whatever.