Friday, October 14, 2011

Alonzo Stagg Hike 5.0

I did the 50 mile Alonzo Stagg Hike again... for the 5th time. I don't know too many people crazy enough to try it once, let alone 5 times.

As a recap, the Alonzo Stagg Hike is held every year in October along the C&O Canal. It starts at 9pm Friday night and you hike all through the night into the day Saturday. No breaks, no sleeping, no wimps. You have 18 hours to finish all 50 miles and if you do, you get a small medal and a lot of pain. You also feel a huge sense of accomplishment and earn a lot of respect from those who know. I've seen it provide certain teens with a confidence building ego boost when they most desperately need it at that difficult age. There are checkpoints setup along the hike every 3 or 4 miles (like the picture above) where you top up on fluids and food and where you can drop out if you don't make the full 50.

I hadn't done the hike since 2008. The bad weather forced the hike to be cancelled in 2009, and in 2010 I was training for the Marine Corps Marathon and didn't want to jeopardize that effort. The weather this year was absolutely perfect. The night was cool, the moon almost full, and no rain in sight.

I hiked by myself this year for the first time and listened to my iPod during the whole thing to keep myself somewhat entertained. I also brought a camera for the first time and stopped throughout the night to get some pictures in the dark. Click through the main picture above to see the rest of them. It really is beautiful walking under moon light. Your eyes get so adjusted to the night that I could see the ground light up from the blinking lights on airplane wings flying overhead. The conditions were so perfect this year that I didn't have to use my flashlight once for the entire hike.

There was a field of about 70 hikers at the start and as far as I know only 5 finished. Quite the dropout rate! I was first to finish this year which is kind of cool, but doesn't mean anything other than I got to go home earlier than the rest. I finished it in 15.5 hours which isn't my best time but anytime you finish is good enough (which means I hiked from 9pm Friday till 12:30pm Saturday...yikes.) I was wiped out the rest of the weekend but at this point I know what that feels like and how to deal with it as best as possible. I have to thank Tiffany for 1) letting me go in the first place, and 2) for dealing with me being a cripple for a couple days afterwards. Who knows if I'll do it again, but if you're crazy too, I'm always looking for more suckers to bring along with me next year!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Spontaneous "Lucky" Duet

We finally bought a new camera and were experimenting with the HD video when I recorded this gem. I never thought any of what I was recording would see the light of day so we were just acting a bit goofy. It's a bit embarrassing, but Tiffany gets such a kick out of watching us sing "our" song that I'm posting it for her. Here's to you babe!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Old Rag Hike

I went with the boy scouts on a hike up Old Rag Mountain, which I've heard so much about but have never had the chance to hike before. It was both more difficult than I expected and more beautiful than I expected. The views really were incredible at the top and the rock crawl section was quite challenging in a few spots. I can see why it is such a popular hike.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Jason Mraz Concert

Jason Mraz is one of Tiffany's favorite musicians so I surprised her with a pair of tickets to his concert at Merriweather. Opening up for Jason Mraz was Colbie Caillat and her bubbly songs. Tiffany has deemed the song "Lucky" with both Mraz and Caillat as 'our' song, so how could I not take her? We had a great time out together.

The Twinstar Flies Again

I have hardly flown my rc airplanes since we moved out of my parents house in April 2007. I haven't flown this particular plane at all since then. We were up at my parents' house this weekend and I decided to get out my gear, charge up the batteries, and go flying again. I hadn't thought about it, but Gavin has never seen me fly my airplanes. When he saw me getting the plane ready he couldn't have been more excited. As the battery was charging, he was sitting in front of the airplane trying his best not to touch it. He was in awe as he watched the plane flying in the air. It was really cool to see his reaction. I'll have to get my planes in the air more often.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Apple Picking

I've been meaning to take the family apple picking for the longest time, but for some reason we never got around to it. It took an invitation from a coworker to get us out in the orchard. We quickly realized that the kids want to pick way more apples than Tiffany and I know what to do with. They filled their bags and then left it up to dad to carry the heavy bags back to the checkout area. With all the apples we made 7 pies and some apple bread. I've been eating apple pie for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and I'm such a pie lover that I'm not sick of it yet.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Charity Hockey Classic Game

Logan, Samara, and I went to the Charity Hockey Classic between two local teams to help raise money for Inova Blood services. The game was held at the Washington Capitals practice facility and featured two Capitals players as team coaches. Logan and Samara had such a good time. We sat in the front row right next to the ice and they were both so full of excitement they couldn't sit still. They both picked a team to cheer for and actually paid attention to what was going on in the game. Neither of them wanted to go initially, but they were both so glad they did afterwards.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

First Day of School 2011

Our little girl Samara is now a kindergartener and not so little anymore. Both her and Logan have been looking forward to school starting. It's such a relief when your kids love school. Logan has had great teachers so far at this school and we're pretty such this year's teachers will be even better. There is a tradition is Tiffany's family that the kids model their new school clothes each year. Click on the main picture to see more pics of Samara and Logan modeling their clothes.
On a side note, the house is sooo much quieter when the two older kids are in school. Tiffany is loving it!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Baltimore Grand Prix

Baltimore hosted its first annual Baltimore Grand Prix this year and what a cool place for a race track. Indy cars as well as American Le Mans cars both tore up the streets this weekend. All the boys in the family from grandpa on down to all the grandsons walked many miles around the Inner Harbor watching the cars fly around the bumpy track. Unfortunately, Logan fell sick during the day and his cousin Bradley had to limp around due to a severe poison ivy infection on his leg. I had to take them both home a little early but the overall experience in Baltimore was fantastic. Best of all, the race is coming back next year. You can bet I'll be there again.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Potomac Nationals

The Potomac Nationals are a class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals. We bought cheap tickets on Groupon and went out for our first minor league baseball game and had so much fun! The stadium is small so any seat is right next to the field. It wasn't crowded at all so the kids could run around and not bother anyone. There were lots of families with young kids doing the exact same thing as us. We really had a good time. Logan got a foul ball tossed to him, Samara met the mascot, the sprinklers mysteriously turned on in the middle of the game, need I say more?

The real star of the show ended up being Samara and her dance moves. In between each batter and inning the stadium would pipe music through the speakers and Samara would boogie! She didn't care if everyone in the stands saw her, she let it fly.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

O.A.R. Concert

Tiffany and I had such a good time at the O.A.R. concert last year that we decided to go again this year. This time I lucked out and got floor tickets, which are awesome! I was worried about Tiffany standing the whole time because she just had her C-section 5 weeks ago. She was fine though. Go Tiff!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mirror Art

I often use dry erase markers on the bathroom mirror to write little reminders to myself. This is what happens when Samara gets the markers and a little free time. Pretty cute I'd say.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Baby Landon

We welcomed our 4th little blonde monkey to our family a few days ago after nine long months in the womb. He was born at 9:19am July 8th in the Reston Hospital, weighing a healthy 9 lbs 5 oz. and 21.25 inches tall. He has been absolutely peaceful and hardly cries at all. The nurses wanted him to cry more right after the birth to help clear his lungs, but even after they unwrapped him and poked and prodded him he still only cried a little. The doctor even said he didn't cry during his little boy operation which she hadn't ever seen before. So far he only cries when he's hungry and stops as soon as we feed him. Lets hope this lasts!

Tiffany is a pro at this now and the birth went great. Overall our experience at the hospital was good as well. We had one of the smallest rooms, but we were at the end of the hallway with no other occupied rooms nearby. It was nice and quite and Tiffany was able to sleep a lot. My parents took in our kids for several days which was awesome as I could stay at the hospital with Tiffany to keep boredom at bay. Having a laptop, wifi connection, and Netflix was a great way to pass the time together between feedings and naps. Plus the hospital food wasn't all that terrible honestly.

Landon was a good little brother and made sure to bring his 3 older siblings gifts to smooth over his arrival. Logan and Gavin received light sabers and promptly commenced slashing each other and anyone else in sight. Samara received a tea set and a new blankie, after her old blankie lost a battle to a pair of scissors during a serious discipline lesson. As we expected though, Gavin was very reserved and jealous. We captured great video of his reaction to Landon which almost perfectly mirrors videos of Samara being jealous when Gavin was born.

It was a painful nine months for Tiffany. She had intense, long lasting pregnancy sickness as usual and when you add 3 other children at home it made the 9 months seem much, much longer. Despite all that we're super grateful of course for Landon's arrival. We feel so blessed to be able to have such wonderful children.

Monday, July 4, 2011

July 4th 2011

We celebrated the 4th of July this year at our house with some good friends by grilling, playing outside, and of course lighting fireworks. Good times were had by all... especially pyro Bruce.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Cub Scout Day Camp

Logan started Cub Scouts this year and went to his first summer day camp. They had a lot of fun doing all sorts of cool things during the week like, shooting bows and arrows, playing human chess, making wooden swords, and watching a full sized trebuchet launch watermelons. The watermelons were launched so high that when they finally hit the ground the essentially vaporized. Logan absolutely loved every minute of it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cafe Rio

The best fast food establishment in the world has finally opened up a store on the East coast and it's right in my parents' backyard in Olney, Maryland. Cafe Rio is well known throughout the Utah Valley but they never ventured far from there until now. Tiffany and I made a detour coming back from my parents' house and relished in some good food that we hadn't eaten in four years. Our kids even said it was the best food they've ever eaten!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

F1 Grand Prix of Canada

My father, brothers, and I went on an awesome road trip up to Montreal, Canada to see the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Canada. I went with my father to one other Formula 1 race in Indianapolis back in 2006 and loved it. My dad got the idea to invite all his boys this time... no women aloud! Our youngest brother, Shawn, even flew out from Utah for the occasion.

We started out by leaving Thursday night and driving 10 hours through the night to get to Montreal by 10am Friday for the first practice session at the racetrack. My driving stint was through Northern New York past Lake Champlain and into Canada. The mountains and lakes of Northern New York were a beautiful surprise to me.

None of us had experience visiting the french parts of Canada so it was really surprising to see just how french everything truly was. I was expecting the public signage to be in both English and French, but that wasn't the case at all. It was ALL French. It both looked and felt like little Europe which was pretty cool. Fortunately, almost all the natives speak English well, so communicating wasn't too difficult.

Having said that, we hardly spent anytime sightseeing. Almost all of our time was spent at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve racetrack. The racetrack is built on a narrow man-made island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River and was built up with the excavated dirt from the underground Montreal subway system.

Friday and Saturday were perfect days with bright sunshine and cool weather. We wandered around the track as much as we could and watched the cars practice and set qualifying laps. Unfortunately, the weather turned during the race and we got rained on for hours on end. The race started eventually and they completed a few dozen laps but the rain started coming down even harder and they had to stop the race to possibly be restarted later. Meanwhile, we were standing in the rain getting drenched and cold. The rain kept coming down for a couple hours and we decided that we'd had enough and left to track to start the drive home. Turns out, not too long after we left the rained cleared and they actually restarted the race. So we got to listen to the conclusion of the race on the ride home and watched it on Tivo later. Unfortunately we missed a fantastic race where Jenson Button went from dead last at one point to taking the lead on the final lap of the race.

Even with the rain ruining our last day, we had a awesome trip. My brothers and dad all love the technical marvel that these race cars are but it was even more fun spending time together again. And no rain can spoil that.

The video clip below is a little bit of what it was like to be race side with these cars zooming by. One of the most amazing and surprising things about these cars is the sound they make. No handheld camera or even TV production camera can capture and convey the body shaking low frequencies and ear shattering high pitch whines these cars put off. As fast as these cars are at accelerating from a dead stop, they are even faster coming to a stop. Watching them go from 180mph down to 30mph in about a second is crazy to watch. If you've read this far you deserve a medal.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Logan Baseball

Logan opted for baseball this year instead of soccer. I had forgotten how much more of a commitment baseball is. He had two games a week with a practice thrown in as well, and the season seemed to go on forever. Like most boys his age, he had a hard time paying attention while in the field. Several balls rolled by him while he was spinning his arms around like a helicopter. Despite that, he was pretty good at bat. He was the most consistent hitter through the season, getting on base almost every game. His coach even invited him to the league All Star game (which we couldn't make it to unfortunately.) In his league they used a machine to pitch the ball and the players all rotated positions each inning. Early on Logan asked the coach if he could be a catcher which he really enjoyed the first couple of games. He soon became weary of that stressful position but his team needed him so he stuck it out and played catcher for at least one inning each game for the rest of the season.

Samara Soccer

We've been excited for Samara to finally start playing soccer after seeing her kick the ball around with her older brother. She showed a lot of enthusiasm and athleticism while playing in the backyard, but she got a little shy on the actual soccer field. Nevertheless, she still had a lot of fun and really enjoyed playing with all her teammates.

Friday, June 3, 2011


I have been lamenting not going fishing regularly since we moved to Virginia, which was 4 years ago. I decided to get back into it so I bought some new gear and checked out Google Maps to find some local ponds. I found one a half mile from our house, nestled nicely in the middle of a housing development. I've heard that sometimes the little ponds where you'd least expect big fish are exactly where the big fish are. That is certainly true for this pond. Logan and I have both caught some really nice bass there and we've seen some gigantic carp swimming on the surface (I swear I saw one that was 4 foot long.) Logan is itching to catch one of these carps but I don't think my fishing gear can handle such a large fish!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Samara's 5th Birthday

Samara celebrated her birthday with friends by having a Rapunzel and cupcake party. She got a Rapunzel dress and loves it so much she sits in front of a mirror and stares at herself repeating "I'm so pretty". We're in trouble.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter 2011

We combined 3 birthdays (Samara's, Megan's, and Grandpa's) and Easter all in one fun filled weekend at the grandparents' house. We spent a lot of time outside in the beautiful weather playing baseball and of course having a fantastic Easter egg hunt.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Logan's Baptism

The climax of the birthday weekend was Logan's baptism. All the cousins came up from Richmond and we enjoyed a fantastic celebration together. It is amazing to think our first child is already 8 years old. I got a little misty eyed after the baptism thinking about how happy I was with the choices he has made in life and how quickly he is growing up. I'm super proud of you Logan, you are the best son a father could ever hope for and a great example for your younger siblings.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Logan's 8th Birthday

Logan celebrated his 8th birthday with an awesome spy birthday party, complete with spy outfits and fake IDs. He chose donuts with licorice "bomb fuses" instead of the usual birthday cake.