Cornfield Meet

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Road Trip photos: June 22 – Sea World San Diego

Click to see the whole set.

We spent most of Tuesday, June 22 at Sea World San Diego for the opening ceremonies of the 2010 YMCA Gymnastics Nationals.

I’ll admit that I’m conflicted sometimes about zoos and aquarium parks: On the one hand, they really are fascinating and educational and offer a chance to see and touch amazing creatures up close that most people never would. On the other, yes, there’s often something sad that sneaks up on me when I stay too long at one habitat or another and watch the animals in their enclosure.

Sea World also strikes childhood happychords because we used to have one within an hour of my house. (Yes, here in OHIO. I was always amazed, living in Florida, at people who said, “Really? But that’s so WEIRD – there’s no SEA in Ohio!” To which I responded, “No kidding – that’s why we needed SEA WORLD.” Having a Sea World within a day’s drive of the ocean itself is what I thought was bizarre.)

So Jenn and Kelsey and Mom and Jeff and I had a good day hanging out and watching a couple shows and just enjoying being in southern California together, and then sharing the later parts of the afternoon with Kelsey’s teammates and their parents after the opening ceremonies.

It was the kind of day where the important moments didn’t necessarily lend themselves to photography – our fun family ride on Atlantis; Kels and her friends gathered poolside to pet stingrays; watching my mom and daughter and a bunch of other North Canton visitors take on the whitewater attraction.

Still, it was a gorgeous, sunny day, and there were some photogenic penguins and polar bears – and you can visit them all here.

Not a ton of photos, but you can click and see 'em all!

November 1, 2010 Posted by | geek, Ohio, photos, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Road Trip photos: June 19-21

Somehow, I let almost three months pass since I last uploaded and organized a batch of my cross-country road trip photos, so this weekend I went through and processed some more.

There are three days’ worth of pictures here, although Saturday and Sunday June 19 and 20 are underrepresented photo-wise: It was a weekend just packed with greatness, hanging out with friends and just enjoying the west coast and the experience of being someplace totally new to me, but so much of that joy was just in the company and the moments, and not the sort of thing that gets captured through a camera lens. So the few images from those days almost serve as memory-triggers more than anything else.

Take this one, for instance:

The Donut Man

You see The Donut Man on Rt. 66 in Glendora, California.

I get thrown back to a day that began with a gorgeous drive up the coast from San Diego; several hours group-geeking at Frank and Son, where I found a flashback-inducing Imperious Leader action figure; a late lunch at Q Noodle House and a drive to The Donut Man for some fresh-strawberry-filled donuts. (Our original plans had called for introducing me to shaved snow at Class 302, but of course the day’s first batch was gone when we got there.)  A spontaneous trip to a nearby comic shop, and then an evening of more hanging out and visiting new friends and nerding out.

I left for the drive back to San Diego late the next morning, and after a brief nap, I spent the afternoon and evening swimming with my host friends and having an absolutely fantastic dinner and some wine out on their front patio as night fell. Again, it was just a terrific, warm-the-soul sort of day, and yet the only pictures you’ll find are the ones I snapped just after supper – the last sunset of spring:

Last sunset of spring 2010.

On Monday, June 21, Jenn and Kelsey made their own (much quicker) trip across the U.S.A., and after they caught up on a bit of sleep, the three of us spent several hours in the afternoon at Balboa Park and a few that evening at Seaport Village. The whole day’s worth of photos is here.

Here’s the moon over the Coronado Bridge:

October 24, 2010 Posted by | Food and Drink, geek, photos, Travel, Weblogs, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Legend of Five-Medal Booth

I’m just crazy proud of this kid. I mean, I would’ve been anyway, but seriously: That’s a set of FIVE FREAKING MEDALS from the YMCA Gymnastics National Championships. That’s placing on every event and in all-around in her division. And it is awfully throat-lump enjoyable to see Kelsey with that smile, and here’s what makes it extra-special:

Just a couple months ago, back in April, she and her team competed at the big regional zone meet in Toledo. Now, she’s coming off a season in which she worked hard to improve in the areas where she came up short last year, and all season long, it had paid off in scores and higher finishes and her first All-Around Champion award at a regular meet. She won the balance beam at the district meet, too, and went into Zones super-psyched.

And she had a rough, rough time of things at the University of Toledo that spring day. No terrible falls or missteps, but just enough little things that added up to keep her out of the placings entirely. It’s a high level of competition at that meet, to be sure, but to come up entirely empty at the end of such a fun season really hit her hard.

This morning, we watched two pre-competition video clips. The first was because Kels mentioned she was nervous, what with this being Nationals and all. So I looked up this spot from Hoosiers:

(Jenn & I thought it would be fun to adopt the “Hickory!” cry during the meet, just because it would be kind of obscure and odd.)

Then, of course, I went to Old Faithful:

Chills. Every. Time.

The uneven bars have never been an easy event for Kels, but she put together a nice solid routine and scored an 8.375 to start things off. (It’s out of 10, but at this level, the 9.0 really marks the gold standard, just for a little perspective.)

Balance beam came next, and though you’d think I’d be used to it by now, it remains the most nerve-wracking for me to watch, even though my kid manages to look ridiculously composed up there. True to form, she kept her footing and scored an 8.6, and just like that, the two tougher events were behind her.

She earned an 8.4 with her floor exercise and finished her competition with another 8.6 on the vault for an all-around score of 33.975.

Now it was time to wait. (“I hate waiting.” – Inigo Montoya) With so many girls in this division, there’s really no way to keep accurate track of everyone’s scores, so it’s hard to even guess whether or not a certain score is worth a medal until they actually start handing them out.

I don’t remember which event they announced first, but as soon as they handed out the 10th place medal (again, for perspective, these divisions have dozens of competitors in them) and it went to a gymnast with a score lower than Kelsey’s, Jenn & I just started beaming at each other, because Kels was coming home with a medal.

And then it happened Four. More. Times. Seventh place on vault and beam, tenth place on floor, and she stood on the podium with a fifth-place bars finish. All-Around: Eighth place.

Now, Kels is normally pretty reserved in many ways, especially in public and around strangers, but watching her stand up there, unable to keep her own eyes from getting watery and unable to stop grinning and hugging her teammates and with this strange sort of mixed look of disbelief and joy – well, remembering the drive out of Toledo in April, damn if I didn’t get something in my eye, too.

June 24, 2010 Posted by | Ohio, Sports, Travel | , , | 5 Comments

Road Trip Level 1 – complete!

…and my princesses are no longer in another castle: I picked up Jenn & Kelsey this morning at the San Diego International Airport, and we’re all together again for the YMCA Gymnastics Nationals, which kick off tomorrow.

My 25 hours in the Los Angeles area (Saturday to Sunday morning) were insanely fun, and I wish I could have stayed a little longer amidst such excellent and generous friends, soaking up their humor and creativity and kindness and inspiration and all the other things that make them just generally wonderful people to be around. (And yes, this even applies to those I just met for the first time. All of you rock, and you made my brief stay in L.A. Just Freaking Awesome.)

I mean, really, can you say enough nice things about the kind of people who treat you to, among other things, a visit to The Donut Man for fresh strawberry gut-busting goodness?

But back south I had to go, and a sunny drive and an afternoon nap and some backyard pool time and a scrumptious dinner and wine with some more great people made for the perfect end to a week on the road.

Here’s the view from our hotel, where my wife and daughter are currently enjoying a post-lunch doze, having left Ohio at oh-dark-thirty this morning:

I can hardly believe a week’s worth of this road trip has gone by, and Phase II is under way. We’ll spend the next four days here – my mom and her husband arrive tonight – enjoying San Diego and the gymnastics competition together – and then begin our separate journeys back home on Friday morning.

Life is good.

June 21, 2010 Posted by | geek, Ohio, Travel, writing | , , , , , , | 8 Comments

2010: My Geek Odyssey

Over the course of this YMCA gymnastics season, Kelsey qualified for this month’s Nationals in San Diego. (In fantastic fashion, I might add: She came so close to making the cut last year, but missed it by thatmuch a couple times. Then, even though they lowered the necessary qualification score this year, she surpassed last year’s threshold at all but the first two meets of the year. By this year’s standards, she achieved qualifying scores in all 10 meets. \m/ )

So we’re headed to San Diego, and it will be the first visit to California – in fact, the first trip west of Denver – for all of us, and we’ve been excited for months.

As soon as Kelsey qualified, I knew I was going to want to take advantage of the West Coast trip to visit some friends out there, but Jenn’s vacation limitations meant she only had room to take in the four-day Nationals.

And so the Road Trip was born. While my wife and daughter and my parents will (most sanely) fly to and from San Diego for the competition, I’ll be crossing the country by highway, stopping and staying with generous friends there and back and spending the extra Southern California nights in similar company.

It’s easily the longest drive I’ve ever planned, far outreaching the Ohio-to-Breckenridge, Colorado overland trek the three of us made in August 2000, but I’ve broken it up so none of the stretches come remotely close to the 16-to-19-hour Canton-to-Orlando nonstops that I’ve gotten used to over the past 17 years.

I’ve always wanted to do the cross-country drive, and you know, the chance may not come again: I’m in a place right now where work is flexible and I’ve still got the desire to make it happen, and I’m still so unhappy with so many things about air travel that if I can avoid it with any degree of practicality – and clearly, this trip indicates that I do mean just about any degree – I will.

This week is utterly packed with deadline work in addition to the trip prep, and various corners of my desk and my office are starting to gather piles of notes and supplies and just, you know stuff that I’m going to want and need.

Geekery will play a significant role in the trip, too, from the two GeekDad families I’ll be visiting to at least three other like-minded friends I’ll get a chance to hang out with, to a brief Star Wars sidetrek to the books I’m packing and the audio entertainment to my plans to try and document as much of the trip as possible thanks to my trusty Droid and possibly a tethered laptop if the silicon gods are in a good mood.

Now, anybody got a Mr. Fusion?

June 6, 2010 Posted by | geek, Travel, Web/Tech, writing | , , , | 4 Comments


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