Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mother-Daughter Adventure at Valleyfair

When I was younger (middle school, high school), my mom would take a week-day off work every summer and we would drive the 1 hour to Valleyfair to have a mother/daughter adventure day! Enjoy the water park, check out some rides, and eat funnel cake! Yummy!!!!

It was always a really enjoyable day and it was fun to be outside and hang out. Lot's of chances to talk while standing in line for rides.

But, we haven't done this since (I think) I was at Uni. Last week, randomly, I emailed her and said "how about we go to Valleyfair on Friday?" And ... we did!


We met at about 10am as the sun was getting nice and warm. First thing we did was head over to Wild Thing and do that. Now, it is not my favorite. I like everything BUT that first drop - just a bit too much!

Then we went over to the waterpark, our favorite part of Valleyfair by FAR! Loved all of that! We ended up staying there for like 4 hours getting sun, wating in line, and doing the rides. Forgot how fun they are! Espeically the one with the big innertube that fits 4 people. Love that one!!!!!

After the waterpark we went back to our cars and got dried off, changed, and had a picnic in the parking lot! Yummy! The back out for rollercoasters and more fun! After about 6 rides, we were both kind of done! I was actually feeling rather motion sick - had to sit down on a bench for a good 15 minutes before I felt confident walking back to our cars!

It was an awesome day and a lot of fun to hang out with my mom and feel like a kid again! I would do it again!



P.S. Aren't our little VWs cute? They spent the day chatting ... in German of course!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

It's Not About The Bike (or the USADA) | My Love Affair With Cycling





Lots of news coming out about Lance Armstrong on Friday and the ruling by the United States Anti-Doping Agency. They have effectively found him guilty of doping and drug-trafficing. He is therefore, according to them, stripped of all his titles and awards (including his record breaking 7 consecutive Tour de France wins) and is no longer allowed to participate in any (any) professional sporting event the USADA oversees. This includes, for example, the NYC marathon.

All of this news has stirred up many old memories for me. Like many, I was riveted with Lance Armstrong and what he did for cycling popularity in the States with his seven wins from 1999-2005. That was high school (+ a few summers on either side). I was obsessed. Obsessed. July was Tour month. That is all. No distractions. Nothing else existed on TV. I would watch OLN every single day during the live broadcast, and then of course the highlights at night. And of course, this was high school and summer, so I had no where else to be. I would teach swim lessons in the morning at the YMCA, then get on my own little bike and ride for 15 miles and then head home to watch OLN ... while sometimes also riding the stationary bike in my parents basement.

I remember one time during a time trial where I was proud of myself for putting in the same distance on that station bike that day as the time trial distance. Boo-ya! Let's not talk about my time though ...

Anyway, I loved cycling. I remember getting so excited about the race and being such a fan of these incredible athletes. And they are incredible, no matter what anyone says. 21 days in the saddle, in the heat, up and down mountains, through rain and win. 21 days of incredible sportsmanship. 

And I was fortunate enough to see some incredible races myself:
  • 2004 - Tour de France stage on July 18th in Carcassonne
  • 2005 - Vuelta al Pais Vasco - first stage 
  • 2006 - Vuelta de Espana - final stage in Madrid
2004 Tour de France
2005 Vuelta al Pais Vasco.
Not hugging the Discovery truck ... this time.
2006 Vuelta de Espana. Yes, I am indeed hugging the Team Discovery truck. No judgement. 
Those were some great experiences and memories that I will forever cherish. In 2005 I was visiting the Basque region on a trip. Not only did I get to see the opening stage of the race and the team announcements, BUT a few of the teams were actually staying at our hotel! How cool is that!?!?! In the mornings, I would go down for breakfast and some of the teams would be down there. You know ... eating breakfast. OMG! 

Then in 2006 I was studying abroad in Barcelona and got to go to Madrid for the final stage of the Vuelta de Espana. So. Much. Fun. I got to the area really early that morning. Like the Tour de France, the final stage includes multiple laps around the same street area. So you get the chance to see the cycllists come by multiple times. So I got myself right out to the Paseo del Prado (right by one of my favorite museums in the world) first thing in the morning. The organizers recognized a fan (obviously) and I got invited to the VIP area right by the finish line. Awesome!!! Got to see the cyclists come by multiple times. Got to see Alexander Vinokourov win it all. And even got to spill out into the street and be right there as they were giving away awards and taking photos. I also got Vinokourov's autograph. Yay!!!

And I've read Armstrong's books ... a few times.

So, I love cycling.

2005 Vuelta al Pais Vasco.
And ... we're off!
Sorry about the trip down memory lanes.

Which makes all this recent news really disappointing for me. It completely taints something that I have always remembered as being honorable, respectable, and powerful. I am not going to get into my personal opinions of the politics behind the testing and the regulations. It has been 7 years since his last win. 14 years since his first. And if he is being retested, what about the guy who came in second ... or third ... or 20th. Are they being retested? Just asking ...

So, I'm disappointed. Disappointed that something important from my youth is marred in scandal. Disappointed that Armstrong is essentially giving up. Disappointed that the USADA cannot leave things alone. Disappointed that sports and athletes in general - people who we look up to and respect - are tainted left and right by drug use. Disappointed.



2006 Vuleta de Espana. Final stage in Madrid. 
2006 Vuleta de Espana. Final stage in Madrid. 
2006 Vuleta de Espana. Final stage in Madrid. 
2006 Vuleta de Espana. Final stage in Madrid. 
2006 Vuleta de Espana. Final stage in Madrid. 
2006 Vuleta de Espana. Final stage in Madrid.  
2006 Vuleta de Espana. Final stage in Madrid. 
2006 Vuleta de Espana. Final stage in Madrid.  
2006 Vuleta de Espana. Final stage in Madrid.
And the yellow jersey goes to ... Alexander Vinokourov. 
2006 Vuleta de Espana. Final stage in Madrid.
And the yellow jersey goes to ... Alexander Vinokourov.
2006 Vuleta de Espana. Final stage in Madrid.
And the yellow jersey goes to ... Alexander Vinokourov. 
2006 Vuleta de Espana. Final stage in Madrid.
And the yellow jersey goes to ... Alexander Vinokourov.
2006 Vuleta de Espana. Final stage in Madrid.
And the yellow jersey goes to ... Alexander Vinokourov. 
2006 Vuleta de Espana. Final stage in Madrid.
Team Discovery!
2006 Vuleta de Espana. Final stage in Madrid.
Team Discovery!
2006 Vuleta de Espana. Final stage in Madrid.
Alexander Vinokourov ... right after providing his samples for testing.
2005 Vuelta al Pais Vasco.
The T-Mobile team. They were staying at our hotel in San Sebastian. True story. 
Vuelta al Pais Vasco
2005 Vuelta al Pais Vasco.
Pre-race. Love all the team colors! 
2005 Vuelta al Pais Vasco.
2005 Vuelta al Pais Vasco.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Great State Park Adventure: Part 1

The Great State Parks Adventures
Part 1
Fort Snelling State Park
~11 Miles
2 Hours 15 Minutes


Pike Island


I like to be outside. 

Really. I do.

Some would find that hard to believe as I am not exactly the outdoorsy type. I love the city. I like my luxuries. And I don't like going "up north". But I do like to be outside. I ilke mountains and lakes and the ocean and seas. I like glaciers. I like hiking and walking. I like spectacular views and fresh air. I like all these things. Basically, I like Switzerland, the Alps, NZ, Iceland, etc. Unfortunately, Minnesota is relatively flat. No mountains. No glaciers. 

So I take to the treadmill. And I take to the Lake Calhoun/Lake of the Isles. But that is about it. This weekend though I wanted something more. I am getting a bit bored and needed some variety. I felt like getting out of the city and getting lost on some paths ... preferably with some incline.

Thankfully Minneapolis has some great State Parks right in the city, and lots of trails. Honestly though, I have never take advantage. Not until today at least. Today was my first adventure in a local State Park. All in all, it was nice. Only 10 minutes from home and 2 minutes from the airport and it felt like I was defiantly out of the city. Nice paths and lots of quite. Very few people. A bit flat for my taste, but it was nice to just walk and walk and walk on whatever path came next.

All in all, I walked about 11 miles over the course of over 2 hours. Not bad. Felt good to move my legs and have a different view .

I want to do more of this. There are good parks nearby, and even more that are good for a day trip. So, I bought a year long path. Honestly, a day pass was $5, a year was $25. I only need to go 4 more times to make up my money. Should be easy enough.

I think I will maybe go up to the Duluth area for a day over Labor weekend. Then of course the Interstate Park by Taylor's Falls when the colors start changing this fall.

My year long State Park pass. Gotta be sure to use it!
Fort Snelling.





Bambi!
State Park #1 --- DONE!
Ha! Just because I went outdoorsy today doesn't mean I gave up on my city gal self. Started the day with a run on the treadmill followed by a delicious brunch at French Meadow, complete with my little mini chocolate cupcake. Yum!!!!






Saturday, August 18, 2012

Colorful August: Roman Holiday at the Guthrie

August is shaping up to be busy and full of activities. Uptown Art Fair. Food Truck Fair. Lots of outdoors activities. Theater (Chicago). Cleaning and organizing. Shopping. And lots and lots of working out as I am back on the diet-and-exercise-wagon. And the list goes on. 

And this weekend fits in just perfectly. 

Friday was busy with a great outdoor workout followed by some very fruitful shopping. Then 4 hours of cleaning. I. Was. Exhausted. 

Saturday I met up with my parents for brunch and Roman Holiday at the Guthrie. One of my favorite classic films by far! But this was the musical with music by Cole Porter. I had never seen this version and really enjoyed the songs and the the incredible production. All the actors were spectacular, especially the countess. She was simply incredible!!! All the singing was great! And the scenery and sets were spectacular!


As I am working hard to get in shape again and excited about wearing my cute clothes, I pulled out lots of color for the occasion. It started with my purple skirt and moved onto my most colorful shoes, and I filled in color all over the place! Since I am such a clothes/accessories kinda gal, I had to post some pics of the day's outfit!









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