Archive for September, 2011

Winefest 2011 @ Valenzano

Posted in Daily Pictures, Friends and Family, Good Times with tags , , on September 30, 2011 by Verge

wow, I have been amazingly busy the last few months.  Working extremely hard on remodeling my house, which is coming along tremendously, albeit slowly.  I’m doing a ton of work mostly by myself, and mostly in the few hours after work before I have dinner and go to bed.  The weekends are usually filled with my part time job, and when I get a chance to breathe for a day, I have as much fun as I can.

Which brings me to Winefest 2011!  The third year in a row I’ve been able to attend, I highly recommend this event for wine lovers anywhere near South Jersey.  This year they even had 6 or so other wineries on board, which made for a tasting of nearly 100 different wines!

we finally got our own tent this year, which is the way to go! you get reserved seating, and 6 free bottles of wine, guaranteed tickets and parking, express check in, and it only costs a few dollars more than regular admission. We'll be back for sure.

we brought a pretty large contingency, with Kreg and Kat, Wendy and Jason with my niece and nephew, Molly and her friend...

...of course, my awesome parents, even my dad who off roaded his scooter through some vineyards to get to the all-you-can-sample wines...

...and me, trying my hardest to sport a scruffy Autumn beard, with Monika.

last year, we really wanted to check out the helicopter, but it was sold out. This year, we splurged and went for it!

so here we go. I've been in a helicopter before, but Monika hasn't. I can't say that flying over the Pine Barrens was even remotely as beautiful as flying over the waterfalls of Hawaii, but it's still like a roller coaster without a track.

I've studied maps of this area for a long time. Modern and historical. Pretty extensively. Even though the pilot points out Philadelphia and Atlantic City, I can pinpoint Atsion, Apple Pie Hill, the old rail lines, old saw mills, and other forgotten remnants of a once booming South Jersey industrial area reclaimed by nature.

surprisingly, there's still a lot of privately owned farmland in the area. One day it will be all condominiums, for sure.

we were in a much smaller aircraft than I've ever flown in, except I guess the hot air balloon we rode for my dad's birthday one year. The copter only held the three of us, and there were no doors and it was basically a big glass ball with a tail. I wondered what good a fire extinguisher would do us if we caught fire in this flying milk crate one thousand feet in the sky.

Monika smiles as she confirms it was worth the price to take a five minute chopper ride over the festival, kamikaze style.

this is the parking lot as we came back in for a landing. there's some grapes growing in there somewhere.

I know there are better pictures out there, but hey, this is all I've got time to document. After Winefest, we went to Kelly's to hang out and wind down. It was a hell of a day, to be quite honest. great times, for the third year in a row!

The Fifteenth of September, Two Thousand and Eleven

Posted in Daily Pictures, Friends and Family, Good Times with tags , on September 16, 2011 by Verge

stopped by Bed, Bath and Beyond. As weird as that is, when I used the restroom, I was surprised to see it has been dubbed the "Tornado Shelter." Oddly enough, it would have been better to have an earthquake and hurricane shelter lately.

stopped by Canal's and found a new flavor of Three Olives..."Cake." This is bordering on insanity. If they end up making Three Olives "Sour Patch Kids," I'm in BIG trouble.

Got on a late night train to Philly. I really love the fact that Philadelphia is only half an hour away.

I met Monika at Woodcrest, and headed to Triumph where Elysa was waiting for us. She was in town for a week or so, bouncing around between friends and family at what I'm sure was a dizzying pace. We met for a cocktail the night before her and Sarah headed to NYC for a wedding. The music drove us out of Triumph and across the street to Eulogy, which is where I wanted to end up anyway.

three hours wasn't enough with Elyse, but the three of us had a great time sharing stories. I think Monika is ready to move to L.A. and surely wants to visit. Like Sam and Tuk in Ohio, I guess now it's our turn to visit the West Coast to hang with Elyse next time.

Bonus Hospital Pictures

Posted in Daily Pictures on September 15, 2011 by Verge

So, I was going through my phone and found a few hilarious hospital pictures.

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And, the claims came in.  I was at Virtua for less than 24 hours.  Saw about 6 different doctors, was x-rayed, stress test and ECG, had three meals and watched some tv.  All for just under $14,000.  Of course, my insurance only paid $2900 and called it even, but that’s a rant for another day.

The Fourteenth of September, Two Thousand and Eleven

Posted in Daily Pictures with tags , on September 15, 2011 by Verge

Kreg has been helping me paint my doors. there are no doors on the first floor of my house currently.

my boss found a never opened walkman bought in 1983 in his house. pristine condition with manual. It was bought at Clover. anyone remeber that place? Came with batteries, too.

finally got my bike fixed. couldn't afford a new carbon fiber fork, so I opted for good old steel. remember how it got broken in the first place? What an adventure that was. the old broken fork is what's sitting on the seat there.

painting molding in my driveway for the front room. Got it installed with Kreg's expertise, but it's still not finished. getting closer, though. Solo cups...hundreds of uses!

Appalachian Backpacking Trip

Posted in Daily Pictures, Good Times with tags on September 12, 2011 by Verge

We’ve wanted to go on an overnight backpacking trip for over a year and a half.  Last year, we had one planned and booked.  Overnight with some friends from Atsion to Batsto out in Wharton State Forest.

The, just a few days before hand, Kreg’s shop caught fire, and we bailed on the whole trip  because he had to take care of his business and I didn’t want to go without him.  This year, I renewed the idea, but Cory had bigger plans for us.  We headed a little further north for a Delaware Water Gap to High Point State Park Appalachian Trail adventure.

Kat and Erica couldn't go, so Kreg, Monika and I stopped by Cory's hosue in the morning to get on the road with our two Elements and 4 backpacks.

headed two hours north on mostly back roads. Not a bad drive at all. We were headed to a rest stop to meet Matt and Gisela.

Cory, Matt and I took two cars to the end of the trail 35 miles north to leave a drop car for the end. This was a one way hike. Meanwhile, Gisela, Kreg and Monika waited for us and did shots of whiskey!

after a short diversion down a trail that wasn't the correct one (see map), we found the trail head and ventured in and up.

We had what we all thought was a reasonable amount of provisions and a reasonable pack weight. Nevertheless, we were unprepared for the ruggedness and steepness of this portion of the trail. We weren't really sure what exactly to expect. We knew it wasn't going to be a walk in the park, but just how bad could it be?

This is the first real break we took, at Sunfish Pond. That's about 5 miles up the trail, although we had to hike 6 to get there thanks to our little diversion.

This is a great shot. It shows the terrain that we had to navigate for probably 80% of the two day hike. Most of the time it was large, sharp rocks that simply could not be quickly traversed. You had to keep your head in the game the entire time or risk twisting an ankle (which Kreg did).

there were some great shots when we had the opportunity to stop and actually look around. But the trail was more difficult than we all expected, and we were traveling at a much slower than needed pace. It was at this point that Gisela and Matt decided they would set up camp and hike back in the morning. It was too difficult and they were worried the two day trip would turn into three. We helped them set up camp and went onward without them, determined to conquer the trail.

For the first 6 miles there were plenty of other people. Some were backpacking, but a lot of them were just day hikers. Here, we ran into a goup of others atop one of the nicer summits. As we hiked further away from the starting point, we saw less and less people. Sometimes we would walk 5 or 6 miles and not see a single person.

This is still day one. We managed to pick up the pace and make up some lost ground, but it was going to be near impossible to reach the 15 mile mark we needed to hit for day one.

i still got a hug once in a while even though we were all covered in sweat and dust at this point.

occasionally, the hike got very challenging. In addition to parts like this where you had to slowly navigate large boulders, there were also some absolutely grueling uphill climbs that just kicked your ass. And, there was even a straight up 30 foot wall that we had to climb. Would have been fun on a normal day. But, hiking 10 miles, and then doing it with 35 pounds on your back is a very different story.

there's no way you can carry enough water with you on a hike like this. Instead, we filled our water bottles from streams and ponds. Whenever we found water, we all topped off our bottles after running it through this filter.

Eventually, at almost 12 miles, we had to find a site to set up camp. It was getting too dark to be able to navigate, and we still needed time to set up our tents. We found a decent spot with enough space for three tents and not too many rocks.

After setting up camp we had some dinner.  Monika and I had packed a bunch of TVP which is super light weight and very filling because it expands in your stomach. Great lean protein source.  Also, we had some obligatory trail mix, and  some sandwiches.

We followed up dinner with some well-deserved Maker’s Mark and a few cigars.  Packed up all our food and hung it in the trees away from our camp and eventually went to sleep.  We slept reasonably well (as good as usual for me, which is not very good at all, but normal) and we slept for a long time.

This is our first day’s trek.  We started at the bottom left and walked northwest.

We packed up our camp and were back on the trail by 9 after some breakfast. We weren't exactly sure how far we had to go since we could only estimate the distance as the crow flies. We underestimated...by a lot.

Nevertheless, we were all still determined. We tried to keep a steady pace despite Monika's blisters and Kreg's swollen ankle. When we came across a well pump, we broke for lunch.

around this time, we had hiked about 13 miles over very rough terrain. We were tired, our arms were sore as were our weathered feet, and we were burning 600 calories an hour, and only consuming maybe 150. And...we still had 7 miles to go.

we had to bail on a side trip to Buttermilk falls because it was 2 miles off the trail. We just didn't have the time to get there and back and actually swim, which would have felt amazing. So, there's always next time, I guess.

Monika started to break down the last half mile because here blisters had begun to pop inside her shoes, which is very painful. Cory lent a walking stick and I my shoulder to get us all out of there, but we made it. Almost 21 miles. 10 1/2 hours of hiking. This sign was where we ended. It points towards Space Farms, a place I remember from my childhood. I grew up 10 minutes from where we ended up.

This is the day 2 hike…almost:

about a mile and a half from the end, my phone was dangerously low on power, so I saved the map so I wouldn’t risk losing all the data.  But, it made it all the way to the end.

Here is the last little bit:

We had to drive back to the start to get the other cars, and we were pretty beat up by this point.  Monika could barely walk, and all our shoulders were just spent.  Didn’t stop us from going to the nearest bar and having a celebration round before heading home to a nice shower.  We’d do it again, but maybe take on a little less.  I loved the challenge, but we missed out on some relaxation time and it would have been nice to take it a little slower.  Good times, none the less, and we were all really proud of what we accomplished.

 

Check out all the pix over here on Facebook.

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