Archive for February, 2007

Chuck E. Cheese….Again

Just last week, I created a photo set in Flickr for “Chuck E. Cheese Trip 2007“.  I didn’t expect to go there again in 2007.  Instead, I went there twice in one month!

I went up to Northern Virginia for the weekend, planning for a visit trifecta.  I would visit Carolyn (who just had surgery), my brother (who is returning to Hawaii March 5th) and my grandmother (whose health is struggling).  It turns out, my brother had his own plans that weekend– he was visiting Asheville, NC.  So while I was heading northbound on I-81, he would be heading southbound. 

The Plan 
We devised a plan– we would both leave our respective homes at 3 PM and meet in Harrisonburg, Virginia for supper.

“I’m not sure how it’ll work out,” I told Derek as I was preparing to leave for the day, “He’s like me– unorganized and late.”

Sure enough, our Sawyer blood affected us both.  I was still packing when the planned depature time arrived.  I called my brother at three and was relieved to find he too was running late.  We settled on a revised depature of 4 PM.

At 4 PM, I was able to hit the road.  I made great time and the trip went fast as I listened to They Might Be Giants, K-os and NOFX.  When I arrived in Harrisonburg, I called my brother and lo and behold– he has a stronger concentration of Sawyer blood than I.  He was still at the house! 🙂  No biggie, I told him to call me when he got to 66 and we’d pick a new venue.  At this point, my poor brother had Friday rush hour to contend with.  I ended up beating him to 66! 

When my brother finally made it to 66, he got stuck in dense traffic and promptly got off at the very same exit and called me.

“Get off exit 47,” he said, “I’m chuck-e-cheesing it.”

I’m embarassed to say this, but I needed him to explain the phrase “chuck-e-cheesing it”. 

In 17 minutes, I reached exit 47 and quickly found the Chuck E. Cheese.  I could not, however, find an isolated parking spot.  So, I parked in between two minivans and hoped that neither owner would return before me and have to face the barking dogs locked in my vehicle.  I grabbed all edible items (another stipulation of leaving the dogs in the car) and headed into Chuck E. Cheese.

Recognition of Loved Ones
When Ann and I were at Chuck E. Cheese a few weeks ago, we arrived very early on a Sunday morning.  Chuck E. Cheese on a Sunday morning is a lot different than Chuck E. Cheese on a Friday night.  On Sunday morning, it was deserted (except for a token thief and an angry mother).  On Friday night, it was pretty much a display of confined chaos.  I walked through the entire facility and did not spot my brother.  Finally, I called him on the phone.

“Hey where are you?” I asked.

“I’m inside,” he said.

“*I’m* inside,” I said.

Suddenly I noticed the man standing right next to me was also on a cell phone.  I took a closer look and it was my brother.  I didn’t even recognize my own brother at first!  In my defense, I’m very used to seeing him bald or with very little hair.  Currently, he has a beard and curly hair. 

Curly-haired Jay and Jacqueline at Chuck E. Cheese

Jay the Pedophile
Jay, his girlfriend, and I played some Skeeball, ate some cheese pizza, and visited.  At the end of our supper, we decided to be generous and bestow our accrued tickets onto well deserving kids.  Jacqueline spotted a nice candidate, and like a good fairy godmother, she got up, walked over to the child and turned over the surprise tickets.  Now it was Jay’s turn.  He was a little more picky about his recipient.

“How about that one?” I asked.

“Nah,” Jay replied, “Looks too happy.”

Jay finally found a worthy kid, but apparently the kid was not quite worthy enough for my brother to exert the extra energy needed to stand up.  Jay remained seated at our booth and called out, “Hey Kid!  Kid!”

When the kid would not approach, Jay took the spare tickets, leaned over and dangled the tickets as bait.  To me it looked amusing, but to others I imagine it looked fairly suspicious.  My brother might as well have said, “Hey there little kid, do you want to see my puppy?  It’s, uh, in this nice van over here.”

A Joy of Owning Dogs 
When we finally disposed of the tickets, it was time for us to head our seperate ways.  We went out into the parking lot and shared some hugs.  Then in horror, I heard my dogs making a ruckus from across the parking lot.  I rushed their way and in further horror, I saw a young mother and her extremely young daughter fearfully struggling to get in their minivan.  Meanwhile both dogs were barking and Jimmie and trying to “dig” through the window to get to the intruders.  Both dogs, even the wussy beagle, appeared to be vicious, blood-thirsty beasts.

Unlike the mother I encountered at my other Chuck E. Cheese visit, this one was extremely nice.  She readily accepted my apologies and was able laugh about the situation. 

Still….next time I go to Chuck E. Cheese in 2007, the dogs are definitely staying home.

February 20, 2007 at 5:11 pm 3 comments

Vicky’s First Motorcycle Ride

My father’s aspiration to ride the Appalachian Trail on his Harley isn’t the only motorcycle judgement of his I find questionable. 

In October of 2003, my father took me out on his ride on his new motorcycle.  As I sat behind him and tightened a tricky helmet, I thought about how I was about to embark on my very first motorcycle ride.  Or so I thought.

“Is this the first time you’ve been on a motorcycle since 1977?” my father asked.

“1977?” I said – it would not have been surprising if he got years confused.

“Yeah,” he said, “I took you out for a ride.”

“You did?!?  In 1977?”

At this point he was starting to get irritated.  “Yes!  1977!”

“But…. I was two!”

Apparently, my statement didn’t strike him as odd.  He didn’t respond.  So I had to inquire further, “How could I ride that young?” 

“Well, I told you to hold on and you did!”  My father was fully irritated now.  He started the engine and barked, “Hold On!”

And just like 1977, I did. 

My friend, Ann, reports that she also rode a motorcycle at a very young age and also during 1977.  I know about disco, pet rocks, mood rings and bell bottoms.  Was totting toddlers around on motorcycles just another fad of the 70s?  🙂

February 20, 2007 at 3:58 pm 1 comment

Spring Plans – Skiing

I do more in the Spring than just Lent and a birthday hike (FYI cheese fast commences tomorrow).  Yesterday, I finalized my travel arrangements for a trip to Vail at the end of March (3/24 – 3/31).  My partners in crime are Stacy and Kipp.  I’m very excited about this trip.  If you are going to be in the area and want to join us for a day of skiing or would like to meet up for a meal, let me know.

This will be my first time skiing outside of the east coast.  I’m told once I experience skiing in the west, I’ll hate skiing in the east.  Sounds valid.  Though, people did tell me the same thing about hiking. 

“Once you see the Rockies,” someone told me before my July Colorado trip, “You’ll realize our mountains are shit.” 

I did not find that to be the case at all.  Granted I only have a sample size of one Rocky Mountain hike.  It was an awesome hike and I absolutely loved my time there, but it’s the Appalachians that are still home to my heart.  The Rockies are grand in size–  but we have such diversity here in regards to vegetation, canopy and topography.  And when I’m on the Appalachians, I feel much more connected with the history and spirit of the mountains. 

Of course with skiing, the point isn’t the vegetation.  The point is long, beautiful, white slopes.  So with skiing, the east coast mountains are certainly going to be hard pressed to beat the Vail experience.  Actually, they probably don’t stand chance. 

I’ll find out for myself next month!

February 20, 2007 at 3:29 pm 1 comment

High School Photography Class

Today I ran across my notebook from a black and white photography class I took in high school during the spring of 1993.  It’s a shame so many schools are cutting back on the arts.  I found these photographs to be much more interesting than the sterile similiarity provided by yearbook photos.  Some observations:

Things That I Love
I’m sure I was on some kind of assignment regarding light and composition or the like, but the subjects of the photos often reflected items I loved:

My Sister

My Brother (left)

My Cat


I Had Laid Back Friends
I had some very agreeable friends back then.  For some of the pictures, I tried to imagine myself approaching my contemporary social circle with a similiar request.  I expect I would have very little luck.  For example, here is Chad Day at a playground near my house.

Chad (aka Bill) on the jungle gym

I can’t even convince Sean to smile for a picture on the U.S.S. Constitution…or at my company picnic.  Can you imagine his face if I approached him with, “Say I have an idea!  Climb up on that jungle gym and hang upside down.” 

A Secret Fetish?
I also learned a few little lessons about myself looking at these pictures.  I seemed to like people, particularly my sister, staring off in space.  I had a lot of close-ups.  And….apparently I really liked guys laying on the ground with theirs arms behind their heads.  I had THREE of those: 

Kevin Pick

Todd Eidam (aka Skylar Youngblood)

John Harding (aka Wishy)

All my pictures that I scanned from my high school photography class are available on my Flickr site.

February 16, 2007 at 1:11 am 7 comments

From Love to Hate on Valentine’s Day

My brother-in-law, Clint, and I both come from families that have a heritage of healthy tempers.  So it isn’t surprising in the 15 years we’ve shared a common love for my sister that we’ve had our disagreements.  Last week marked Carolyn and Clint’s 15 year anniversary.  That means sometime in the coming year, Clint and I will celebrate the 15 anniversary of our first fight!  It was over Oreo cookies of all things!  🙂

Anyway, the sensation of moving from loving Clint to… being less than pleased… with Clint isn’t a new one to me.  But, this evening, I may have set a new speed record!  Here’s a conversation between me and Carolyn while I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for supper.

[24 Voice]
The following takes place between 7:03:19 PM and 7:05:06 PM
[/24 Voice]

Vicky: I love Clint
Vicky: He just put a hilarious comment on my blog.
Carolyn: he did?
Carolyn: which one?
Vicky: to AntiBush
Vicky: ugh
Vicky: no[w] clint’s humour is not that funny
Vicky: I just got jelly on my keyboard
Vicky: (i[f] he didn’t make me laugh, I wouldn’t have messaged you and I would not have gotten jelly on the keyboard)
Vicky: I hate Clint

Never fear though!  The jelly was easily cleaned and my love for brother-in-law is as strong as ever.  Oh and I was never really mad begin with (my next statement was a smiley).  Which is a good thing.  Clint would have amazingly strong grounds to claim he was not, in fact, responsible for the jelly transfer, seeing as he is 250 miles away.  He would have kicked my ass on that one.

I still think I was right about Oreo cookies, however. 😉

February 14, 2007 at 9:38 pm 1 comment

Penn Gwyn Blog

My favorite five year old boy, Penn, and his younger sister, Gwyn, now have a blog:

It looks like I’ll no longer have a monopoly on reporting their antics and adventures!  🙂

February 13, 2007 at 12:35 am Leave a comment

Driving the Appalachian Trail

When I first told my father about the Appalachian Trail, his response took me offguard.

“Boy, I sure would like to ride my motorcycle on that.”

Once I got over that shock, I explained to him that it was a footpath and that it was very rocky and not designed with motorcycles in mind and, in fact, motorcycles were prohibited.

That didn’t bother my father.  He countered by telling me how when he was young, he used to ride his motorcycle everyday through the woods in Rock Creek Park as a shortcut for his D.C. commute (Apparently that particular habit came to an abrupt end one day when my father was driving through the woods and found an authority there waiting for him).

I think my father has dropped the matter– I haven’t heard him say anything on the subject for years.  If the aspiration should resurface, however, perhaps he can follow in the footsteps of this particular enthusiast.  Here’s a 2001 article from the Washington Post where Peter Mandel talks about his unique AT adventure.  He followed the nearby roads and visited the trail crossings…in his Geo Prizm!

Driving the Appalachian Trail

February 13, 2007 at 12:25 am 3 comments

Previous Post Updates

Today I have two updates to previous posts:

Sentimental Text Messages
Dang, I had good timing with this post.  Last night my phone died.  The display would only display white.  I could still place calls and hear the other party, but I could not receive calls or do anything that required the display– which includes my beloved text messaging.  Luckily, I was eligible for my two year phone upgrade so I went ahead and got an LG enV.  Although Verizon was able to transfer my contacts, my saved messages and my pictures were lost.  No big loss– my favorites were already documented on my blog.  🙂

Thank Goodness I’m With the Puparazzi
After nearly four months, Kipp uploaded his pictures from our Smoky Mountain National Park trip.  And looky here, guess what shirt I’m wearing!

Vicky in Great Smoky Mountain National Park (with old cell phone!)

But, of course–  The Rocky Mountain National Park shirt, I wear everywhere else!  I remember thinking I was ever so clever packing a Rocky Mountain National Park shirt to wear in an entirely different National Park.   Anyway, all of Kipp’s Smokies pictures are available on his Flickr site.

P.S.  I just realized that I’m wearing that same shirt right now!  I think it is pretty safe at this point to declare it as one of my favorites.

February 13, 2007 at 12:00 am 1 comment

Spring Plans – Lent and Birthday Hike

Each year as spring approaches, I have two key decisions to make– what to give up for Lent and where I want to go on my annual birthday hike.  I still have time for both decisions, but here are my thoughts so far.

Lent 2007
This year, I’ve been throwing around a few ideas.  I would really like to tackle “Eating Out” with an exception for travel.  I actually pitched that idea a few years back.  My co-worker and frequent lunch buddy, Deanna, objected.

“Vicky, noooo!” she said, “That hurts the ones you love!”

She’s actually right.  Let’s focus on one loved one in particular.  I’ve spoken about Unsung Sean before and his support for my hobbies and beliefs he does not subscribe to.  Lent is another thing he has consistently demonstrated a lot of patience for.  He tolerates seafood and vegetable dishes on Fridays.  During a year I gave up TV, he would turn off the TV or turn it to news coverage on the newly commenced Iraq war (the only exception I set for myself ahead of time) so we could eat together.  Last year, he worked around meals with beef.  But, eliminating eating out for all meals…. that is probably pushing it a bit too far.

So…. I’m thinking 2007’s fate will be “Desserts and Cheese.”  Desserts after all these years is going to be child’s play.  Cheese, on the other hand, is going to be a formidable challenge.  I love cheese and I do ingest way too much of it.  I am particularly gluttonous when it comes to the cheese dip at the local Mexican restaurants.  🙂

As far as losing calcium intake, I’m not putting myself at a risk.  I eat plenty of calcium rich vegetables (brocolli, asparagus, snap peas, spinach) and I take a vitamin supplement.  Plus I’ll still have yogurt, milk and soy milk at my disposal.  So all I’ll really be losing is the fatty, salty, gooey goodness.

Birthday Hike!
I have completed all of the Appalachian Trail maintained by the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club.  However, that isn’t one long continuous stretch of the AT.  It’s two sections that are seperated by a 20 mile stretch of trail that is maintained by Virginia Tech. 

This year for my birthday (Sunday March 18th), I would like to work towards connecting the two sections by doing at least some of that 20 mile stretch (from New River to Pine Swamp Shelter).  I’ll have to keep a close eye on the weather conditions as March comes around to determine whether I want to attempt an day hike (ambitious at my pace for the shortened days of late winter), do a backpacking trip with my new tent or just do a more managable dayhike using the Groundhog Trail to split the mileage.  Remembering all the snow on Sugar Run Gap during my 30th Birthday Hike, the Groundhog Trail option looks the most promising at the moment.  We’ll see. 

If, even after all this indecisiveness, you are in interested in joining me, let me know.  I’m sure Unsung Sean won’t mind sleeping in that day instead of helping set up cars.  Plus, I suspect I would rather enjoy the company!

February 12, 2007 at 9:13 pm 1 comment

Early Birthday Cake

This past weekend, Sean’s parents (Barbara and Ted) visited.  Barbara surprised me by presenting Sean and I with a homemade co-birthday cake.  If I thought about it, I would have expected a cake for Sean.  His birthday was in January.  But I would never have expected cake honors for me– my birthday is still over a month away! 

Happy Birthdays, Sean & Vicky

Turns out, Barbara’s gesture was even more thoughtful than it appeared! 

“I checked the calendar and Lent hadn’t started yet,” she said.

Smart lady.  I may not attend Mass every Sunday (or…ahem…every month), but one thing I am religious about is Lent.  I won’t eat meat on Fridays and each year I pick something to give up.  I’m actually quite fond of the exercise.  Quote from an email to Ryan Somma during last year’s Lent:

…I get the opportunity for a similar affirmation each year. It’s called Lent. I used it to test my resilience to my own addictions—most notably TV and desserts. I appreciate the trials I give myself and find pride in my successes. Truth be told, I look forward to Lent and discovering will power I didn’t even know I had.

The most common item I give up is desserts.  As a non-smoker and a pretty rare drinker (wine during football games is about it), my biggest weakness is desserts.  Even when I give up something else, desserts usually earn a spot on the list as well.  For example last year, I gave up beef and desserts.  One year I gave up desserts… and credit cards. 😉 

Anyway, since my birthday always falls during Lent, I haven’t had a birthday cake for quite some time.***  I don’t even remember the last time I ate a birthday cake for me.  So it was a very nice and thoughtful treat Barbara provided me!

***This isn’t to say I don’t get special birthday treats.  I am very lucky to have supportive (and creative!) friends.  Last year, Meredith Webber threw me a birthday dinner.  The dinner fell on a Friday so she made a vegetarian lasagna.  Instead of a dessert, Tony Airaghi provided some freshly sliced mangos.  They were just as fulfilling as any cake!  And each year for my birthday, Ana Sanchez makes me a batch of her divine taco salad (it is DELICIOUS!!!).  Last year, she thoughtfully made her recipe with ground turkey to accomodate my beef restriction.  With friends like this, who needs cake?

February 12, 2007 at 7:38 pm 3 comments

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