Postcards

When I first started traveling to places outside my usual locale my best friend Pat asked me several times to send him post cards from those destinations. So occasionally I would get as far as purchasing a post card at that destination but then forgetting to send it out until I returned to DC and sometimes I’d pack it in a bag and bring it to him when I’d go to WI. He said that was missing the whole point of post cards as they need to be sent from the origination point of the vacation.

Galesville WI - "Home"

"Home"

I’ve gotten a lot better at it over the years and added quite a few people to the recipient list for post cards. I think on average I sent out sixteen cards to folks all over the US (and sometimes Canada) per trip.

San Diego Card

San Diego Card

When I first began I’d usually make it home before the card reached my roommate, which I found disappointing. Its taught me to find post cards and mail them out on the same day and then they can arrive before I am done with my vacation.

Winnipeg

Sometimes if I will be at a fabulous destination, like Maui or Winnipeg? , and I know I’ll be sending out about 30 cards I’ll even print mailing labels to save my hands writing that many addresses.

My friends and family tell me they love receiving the cards and I do try to find cards that are a little unique for them to enjoy. It’s really hard to find post cards in some small towns – Galesville, WI for example where I think I got lucky the small pharmacy had a few. Every once in a while I’ll get a post card from one of them and discover they too have been to a far away place and that place might even appeal to me.

The post cards I’ve added to this post are from ones I’ve sent to my roommate in the last few years – I’ve destroyed the ones from trips to San Antonio for various reasons. This last one is one of my favorites from a recent trip back to Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Porn Industry Thriving

Winnipeg – No Really

In the bowels of Undercity Noq stood behind a cauldron of eldritch energy, and arcane vapors stirring a concoction that he’d been sold by a wiry goblin who made wild claims about it being able to accomplish the impossible – teleport him to a far off land called Winn e Peg. Noq’s friends (Grokus, Salthair, Kerrig, Gopello, Spanky and yes, even the retched Paladin Galahad) had been stranded in this desolate section of Northrend for a month now and he might be the only one who could save them. He began to chant the ancient words and felt his robe start to billow around him  and the northern energies start to boil in his veins. 

“Winn e Peg, Eh Winn e Peg, Eh?” he repeated over and over until a flash of blue light and then he screamed the final words “Blue Bombers, Eh?” and he mystically appeared in a strange land where he knew his friends were being held. 

To be honest I had planned to visit Winnipeg last fall but life got in the way so it was postponed, almost indefinitely. Thankfully I found a time that worked with the bosses schedule and got me there when both Grokus (Nathan) and Salty (Dale) didn’t have to work.

I flew out Thursday morning from DCA to MSP an uneventful trip that allowed me to watch two episodes of Breaking Bad. My ticket for the second leg of the trip said my little commuter plane was boarding right after we landed so I rushed to the other side of the airport only to find that we didn’t board for another 20 minutes or so – sigh, that’s a short flight anyway, about an hour I think.

When I arrived at the customs desk in Canada it went like this:

Customs Agent: What brings you to Canada?

Me (that’s what I call myself Me): I’m here to meet friends I’ve never met.

Customs Agent: What? How is that again? How did you become friends if you’ve never met?

Me (that’s what I sing if I’m doing scales do ra meeeeeeeee): We play video games together and have been good friends for about 6 years now and I decided to come visit them.

Customs Agent: You’ll have to talk to my supervisor.

Me (ME is for Maine, another place I should visit): uh, what?

Customs Agent: Just step into that room sir.

So trying to explain to someone that you have real friendships with people that you’ve never met is odder then you might think. In the end the customs agent let me enter Canada and I jetted off to my hotel – after I converted some money $60 US = $50 Canadian and a handful of change. I’m not entirely sure if there is a Canadian $1 bill, if there is I never saw one, I always had a pocket of change that included $1 coins and $2 – the “Toonie”, which despite it’s name didn’t have any cartoon characters on it at all, but looked like one coin inset another coin.

I arrived at the Fairmont Winnipeg via taxi, nice hotel staff, nice room and a Client hotel. I got a decent rate that included breakfast and it wasn’t too far from my friends. Grokus (his real name is Nathan, but seriously he’s been Grokus for six years and that’s what I call him – he calls me Noq) arrived and it was surreal, it didn’t feel awkward or strange to be meeting this person who didn’t at all look like the avatar he played in the game it felt good to finally be meeting my friend. Then Salty (his character’s name is Salthair and his real name is Dale) arrived in a McDonald’s truck and we went off to dinner – not at McDonald’s but at a nice italian restaurant. The three of us had a great dinner with stimulating conversation about all kinds of things, but not really the game. We talked politics, jobs, families and trips. We ate, some of us more sparingly than others, and drank sodas, and I genuinely had a nice time. Then they drove me around a little bit and showed me some sites near the hotel that I might be interested in looking at the next day before dropping me off and they headed home.

That night I hooked up the Macbook and entered World of Warcraft to do a couple dungeons with the guild, yes, I honestly flew up to Canada so I could play video games in a hotel – NO! But I had the computer with me and the guild wanted a couple achievements so I said ok.

Up to this point no one had said “Eh” but I’m not sure if they spend hours each day practicing not saying it, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

No Strangers Here, Only Friends I haven't met.

Friday morning woke up, had breakfast and then headed out to try to find the Winnipeg Central Office – Their AA Office, where a meeting was going to be at noon. I was given an address but it was a confusing address to me and about three different people that I asked, but I did eventually find it. While trying to find it I got to explore Winnipeg Square, a little downtown underground mall that goes on quite a ways and eventually leads to a skyway that connects to something else that connects to something else that leads to a mall – it’s really smart for Canadian Winters I figure to have the ability to get all those places without having to go outside. Also sent out my postcards.

It was at the meeting where I was bombarded with people saying “Eh” no other place over the whole weekend did I hear it, but amongst friends of Bill and Bob it was rampant – I’m not sure what that says about members of AA, but I’m sure it means something. Maybe we’ve all watched Strange Brew too many times.

The meeting was Tradition 8 and most of the folks who shared shared about the tradition and kept there share brief. Even I got to share and I shared my experience with contacting that very Central Office and talking to their professional secretary who answers the phones and emails for members traveling into the city.

Friday night Salty picked me up at the hotel with one of his boys (Nicholas) and his girlfriend and we went to grab Grokus before heading to the Salthair family home with groceries for the back yard bar-b-cue. At Salty’s I met his lovely wife and two more boys Peter (Gopello – holy crap is he tall) and Ben (Spanky). Kerrig (Ron), who I don’t think is any relation, but I could be wrong, soon showed up as well. We ate lots of burgers and dogs and there was even a good salad before we went down to the man cave to watch the movie “Super“. I will say that I’m not a big fan of Rainn Wilson, but I absolutely enjoyed this movie. I returned to the hotel after one, I think around 1:30… that was a long day.

Saturday I knew Grokus and Salty were going to be doing there usual stuff before we met up for an afternoon movie, so I turned on Grindr and my other men tracking utilities and found a guy and had a nice morning… 😉

Grokus came by around 2:30 and we headed to the mall to search for tshirts for me before the movie. We opted to see Fright Night (we did see it in 3D but it was a total waste of money to do so – three instances where I can remember the 3D tech was used well – and one of those three instances was ashes floating around… sigh. Side note: Dear Hollywood, 3D sucks.) with Collin Ferrel who makes a hot vampire, ok, he’d make a hot anything. It was a good movie that all three of us enjoyed.

The three of us then went to dinner … oh first we stopped to buy pastries at a local bakery, one of which we later discovered had mold growing on it – eewwww … at a burger joint where we met up with Galahad (I think his name is Chris). Salty ate most of my fries because I wasn’t eating them. The four of us headed back to Salty’s to play the board game “Game of Thrones” which I somehow won – no idea how that happened.

Here’s the rub – wow it was really great to meet everyone, I feel like I’ve already met them just based on the hours we’ve spent playing games online together. Everyone was just like I’d imagined they would be, and that’s likely because they’re such good people and Canadian which is just like being a Wisconsinite but colder. I started playing WoW with local people here in DC that soon after quit playing and fortunately for me I met these guys and became friends. I’ve spent countless hours in a world of fantasy with these guys battling dragons, beating up Alliance scum or attending weddings but I think the best time I’ve spent with them probably has to be this weekend – nah, it’s probably the times we spent leveling up in vanilla wow via pvp battles… but this weekend was a close second! 🙂

Grokus, Noq and Salthair

Hobbling Around

I made a decision to try to get back to the gym. I hate the gym, really not a fan at all, but I was giving it a shot anyway. I enrolled at Vida and the membership started August 1.

Monday I started my new routine by going to Spinning Class which was hard, but it was day one and I know it gets better with practice and routine. I still managed to strain my right knee and for the rest of the day and half of Tuesday I was kind of limping around.

Wednesday morning I thought I would try Step class as I really don’t mind that or spinning so much. The class attendance was small – just three of us, I guess maybe people don’t like Step anymore or like other things more. We had just gotten started, I stepped up and down numerous times and had my knee up a repetitively here and there.

As I stepped down from a step to the left I knew I had stepped wrong and I heard/felt a “pop/snap” and knew that was going to hurt. I tried to stretch it out but I couldn’t and hobbled my way home. At home I called in sick, iced and raised my leg and just sat there mostly. It’s hard to do much of anything hopping around on one leg.

Thursday came and it was still pretty painful to walk on it, but I took a cab to work anyway. At the office the boss and other folks convinced me to see a doctor – I’m stubborn and hate going to the doc. I saw a doctor at around 3:30 and he said I’d likely strained my gastrocnemius muscle. Yes, it sounds like a stomach thing but it’s really a leg thing.

From Wiki:

In humans, the gastrocnemius (pronounced /ˌɡæstrɒkˈniːmiəs/ or /ˌɡæstrəˈniːmiəs/) muscle, meaning ‘stomach of leg’ (modernLatin, from Greekγαστήρ (gaster) ‘stomach’ and knēmē ‘leg’, referring to the bulging shape of the calf), is a very powerful superficial pennate muscle that is in the back part of the lower leg. It runs from its two heads just above the knee to the heel, and is involved in standing, walking, running and jumping. Along with the soleus muscle it forms the calf muscle. Its function is plantar flexing the foot at the ankle joint and flexing the leg at the knee joint. In a 1967 EMG study, Herman and Bragin concluded that its most important role was plantar flexing in large contractions and in rapid development of tension.

The gastrocnemius is located with the soleus in the posterior (back) compartment of the leg. The Lateral Head originates from the Lateral Condyle of the femur, while the Medial Head originates from the Medial Condyle of the femur. Its other end forms a common tendon with the soleus muscle; this tendon is known as the calcaneal tendon or Achilles Tendon and inserts onto the posterior surface of the calcaneus, or mountain bone.

Deep to the gastrocnemius (farther from the skin) is the soleus muscle. Some anatomists consider both to be a single muscle, thetriceps surae. The plantaris muscle and a portion of its tendon run between the two muscles, which is involved in “locking” the knee from the standing and posterior tibial vein and the tibial nerve. Since the anterior compartment of the leg is lateral to the tibia, the bulge of muscle medial to the tibia on the anterior side is actually the posterior compartment. The soleus is superficial midshaft of the tibia. Frequently there is a sesamoid bone called the “fabella” in the lateral head of gastrocnemius muscle.

So they gave me crutches and I was wheeled out in a wheelchair to the taxi stand where I took one of those home.

Friday I had a pre-scheduled eye exam as I had broken my glasses during a recent trip to Wisconsin. Gary was kind enough to drive me there and after my appointment I was wheeled to the Metro. I applaud Kaiser for having people available to wheel the mobility challenged to and from public transportation.

What I found once I got on the Metro to work was that Metro didn’t plan ahead for people who are mobility challenged. The accessible entrance (elevator) for Union Station was at the very end of the platform and the one at Takoma was in the middle of the platform. As I thought about the different stations that I usually use I can recall some that are at the complete opposite end and some staggered along. This makes hobbling along on crutches or rolling along in your wheelchair harder than it has to be. Fortunately for me I wont have to go to the office on until Thursday and can avoid the pitfalls of Metro’s broken escalators, elevators and long distances between elevators.

I also thought about my meetings and the long staircases that I would have to climb to go to my regular meetings and I just don’t see it happening. I’m going to pop in a few AA speaker CD’s and soak in what I can and make other arrangements with my sponsee so I can avoid his stairway too.

Anyway, I should only be hobbling around for a week or so and I hope to be traversing DC’s sidewalks like the streetwalker I am before you know it. 😉

Too Long Gone

God I really think I spent too much time in WI recently, Mouse (the cat) would agree with that statement. It’s just really nice to be home in my own bed, with my own shower. *contented sigh*

Even though I had been in WI only three days before (for a funeral) on Friday I found myself flying back again for my summer trip. Let me tell you the cat was not happy when I pulled out the suitcase again so early after I had put it away – I was scowled at the whole time I packed.

Big Dreams

Charlie ready for races

I had a rather uneventful flight to Minneapolis on Delta followed by a 2 hour van ride to Eau Claire where Pat and Brenda picked me up and drove me to the Eau Claire airport to pick up a rental car… yes, I know that seems silly. I immediately drove to the local Taco John’s and had three soft shell tacos then called Ma and told her I was on my way to Galesville – she let me know supper would be ready about the time I got there… ooops. I arrived home and everyone was there already: Ma, Rhonda, Ken, Uncle Rick, Sheila, Michael, Cory, Danielle and of course my grand nephew Charlie.

I had a nice weekend at Ma’s that included seeing two old friends from the area that I hadn’t seen in person in over twenty years. I also spent good quality time with everyone at the Trempealeau County Fair Demolition Derby where Michael ran two vehicles in two heats and Cory was there in his capacity of volunteer fireman. Luckily it had cooled off for the demos as it had been pretty hot during the day Saturday.

Here are a couple videos from the Demolition Derbys:

The above is from the Lawn Mower Demos – which was too funny

The above is my nephew Michael in the 85 truck at the Demos

My Nephew Cory

My Nephew Cory the Fireman

As redneck and hick as it seems, I actually enjoyed myself at the demos… don’t tell anyone.

Tuesday I left Ma’s and spent most of the day with Dawn, Ryan and Amy at Amy’s house. We ate, played games, reminisced and generally had a good time. That night I drove Ryan to Eau Claire before checking into my hotel for the night.

Wednesday the highlight of the day was seeing Captain America with Pat. We both really liked it especially after the credits. I think it was the best superhero movie of the year even though it was the least appealing to me in the previews.

Thursday included a Big Book meeting thankfully… I needed that.

Friday was the first day of the Chippewa Valley Roundup and we heard a good speaker from Anchorage Alaska who kept us entertained while he shared his experience strength and hope. It was also great to see all the Eau Claire Pacific Group folks that I don’t usually get to see too often.

Saturday I spent the morning with my friend Tina at the spa, each of us received wonderful treatments and then we went off to lunch. Spending time with Tina is always nice, she helps me keep things in perspective. That night we were off to the Round Up again for another speaker and more fellowship. We were also shown a skit before the speaker that was based on CSI that had a few of my friends in it – rather funny stuff.

Sunday was there before you knew it and we (Pat, Brenda and I) had breakfast with Sammantha before they drove me to the airport and bid me adieu. I arrived there so early that I managed to get a pedicure in the new mini spa that opened up there… that was nice.

Arriving home on Sunday night was nice…. Home, really happy to be there.