Mi Carrito – My Car

I’ve had my car since I was 23. So for the last 13 years I have driven the same car. For me, that doesn’t seem that weird and it wouldn’t be if my car had been brand new when I got it.  But it wasn’t.  It was already 14 years old.  I drive a 1990 Toyota Corolla and I call her Carrito (little car). She was born in September of 1989 in Canada. I imagine she was a shiny white with a glistening black bumper.  She only had one previous owner before me who took great care of her. When she came to me at the ripe age of 14 she had close to 70,000 miles on her odometer, now she’s up to 137,000.  She’s been lightly used for short commutes to train stations and mostly garage living which has helped her maintain her youthfulness.

To say that she is reliable is an understatement.  She has never stranded me anywhere at least not without letting me know something was wrong like the battery was dying or I left the lights on.  She is a bit quirky and since I love lists here are her quirks:

  1. The locks were getting harder and harder to unlock so about 5 years ago, I stopped locking her.
  2. The trunk only opens with a key and it’s tricky – my hubby can’t do it.
  3. The gas cover also only opens with a key and its a separate key from the ignition/trunk key, its also tricky but since I get gas 12 times a year (last year it was 11) it’s not the worst.
  4. She doesn’t have power anything, except for steering.  Yup I have to roll the window down old school.
  5. She’s zippy around town but getting on the highway is a bit of a challenge.  0-60 in five minutes flat.
  6. Also once you’re on the highway 60 mph is good but she starts to shake a bit at 70 mph , did I mention I have a 10 minute commute that doesn’t involve highways?
  7. She gets inspected every year and typically she costs me about $300-$400 a year but that’s usually all I spend in a year.
  8. I change her oil about twice a year and no, I don’t refill her oil regularly either.
  9. The heat and air conditioning both work and she still gets quite cold with the a/c but only on full blast.  The lower settings stopped working about two years ago.

Overall she is easily the best $2,000 ever spent.  She costs me about $2,000 a year including: gas, insurance and maintenance.  Not too shabby huh?  I think for the most part, most people are flabbergasted that I drive such an old car.  But why would I get rid of something that has been so good to me?

I do fear the day to say goodbye is near, but I love the shit out of this car and drive her proudly everyday.


France was once again good to us.  We didn’t meet a rude person in France until we were on the plane leaving but more on that later.  We arrived early on Sunday and I was exhausted.  I slept two hours during our overnight flight.  Protip # 1 Overnight flights are great with kids except if you have a lap infant.  Don’t expect to get any sleep with a small child on you.  Also on British airways they require parents to wear a special seat belt that attaches to your seat belt and around the baby.  They also check said seat belt anytime the seat belt sign is on.  Which happened a lot on our flight.  Lady – Don’t wake me up to check if my seat belt is on.  If am in my seat – it’s on and so is the baby’s-  please let me sleep.  Either way we made it, got our rental car and headed to our awesome Airbnb.  Our little house was perfect except it didn’t have WIFI.  Initially I was disappointed but then it felt great to disconnect especially when it came to politics!

Our first day was spent doing what we went there to do –  CLIMBING!  We spent the day on the rock and it was a beautiful day.  We were still tired and a bit out of it but we survived and climbed some fantastic boulders

My Aunt from Florida arrived on the second day so we spent the morning and afternoon climbing but then headed to the airport to pick her up.  Protip# 2 Don’t assume you’ll have service when traveling check that shit before you go.  We assumed my Aunt would have service in France because she texted us when she connected in Spain but she didn’t so we wasted an hour and a half waiting for her.  In addition, I got us lost on the way home and we ended up in Paris so instead of fighting the rush hour we went and had dinner in the city.  It was quite lovely and we got our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower.

Tia Rock climbing

We headed out to the forest again on Day Three except this time we had my Aunt in tow.  My family isn’t exactly a rock climbing family while we like to go outside and do active things, rock climbing and walking around barefoot isn’t exactly how I grew up.  So it was a bit of culture shock for my Aunt but also for the climbers.  Some climbers are too cool for school types.  They’re all about a certain look with just the right gear and god forbid you say the wrong thing. Well my Aunt tore those walls down immediately.  As soon as we walked up to a climbing spot she announced herself to the world and said hello to everyone.  I knew she would and I kind of reveled in it.   It was culture shock all around and I was just smiling my way through the day.  It was fun to see my worlds collide like that.

On Thursday we had plans to meet up with our good friends, Erin and Veasna, who were traveling from Denver.  They had planned to go to Reims for a day so we decided to meet them there.  Reims is the unofficial capital of the Champagne growing region.  We took a tour of Taittinger followed by lunch and a hunt for more Champagne Protip #3 All Champagne is French.  Don’t say French Champagne it’s redundant.  We trekked through the city and finally found a spot to enjoy a couple of tastings.  My aunt was tired so she volunteered to stay in the car with the kids and we enjoyed a couple of glasses of champagne while they napped in the car. It worked out brilliantly.

On Friday, I wanted to get into Paris before the weekend and my husband, although itching to climb more, agreed to join us which I was ever so grateful for.  We started at the Eiffel Tower and headed all along the Seine via a water taxi, Batobus.  Protip #4 If you want to see the major sites in Paris get this water taxi you’ll be able to hop on and off all day and see most of the major sites in France.  It was a bit chillier that day so we warmed up with French Onion soup and more Champagne (are you getting the theme here?) and met up again with our friends V and Erin.  It was a great day exploring the city and seeing my Aunt’s reaction to the city was priceless.  I know visiting Paris was a lifelong dream of hers and it was cool to help her make it happen.

Unfortunately on Saturday it rained, so climbing was out of the picture but we did make it to Fountainbleau and had a tour of the Chateau de Fountainbleau.  Tours of enormous and extravagant castles are not really my cup of tea but it was beautiful and we went back to our favorite restaurant from our last visit. Protip #5 If you ever find yourself in Fountainbleau, France eat here: Le Grande Café, it may be a bit expensive but it’s worth every Euro. It helped that my toddler slept through the whole meal and we got some much needed peace and quiet.

Finally on Sunday and Monday we were back to climbing and all was better in my husband’s world.  Our final day we spent  in Disneyland Paris and although it started off rainy and cold it cleared up and ended up being a great day.

The flight back was an afternoon flight arriving in Newark in the early evening.  I knew it would be challenging to keep the boys entertained for 7 hours on a plane ride but what I didn’t bargain for was the unbelievably rude women who sat in front of my husband and son.  My son was sitting in his car seat because although he didn’t have to, having a 5 point harness keeping his little body in check instead of a seat belt (that he would quickly learn how to unbuckle) seemed like the better option for us. That was until the woman in front of my son found her seat.  He started kicking and pushing her chair with his feet which we immediately corrected his behavior.  But not before she immediately began to scream “No!” at my son.  Yeah this Latina doesn’t play that.  Leave it to me to correct my child woman or we are going to have problems.  My husband calmly suggested they ask the flight attendants if there were other seats on the plane but there was only one seat available.  Which she responded, “Why don’t you move your kid?”  Yes lady we are going to move a two year old to sit next to a stranger.  She didn’t take the seat, so for the next 7 hours we were on him like white on rice, anytime he kicked we corrected him and explained to him that he was hurting her.  But he’s 2 and also very active being in a plane for 7 hours is not exactly his favorite.  It got pretty ugly between us and our not to friendly neighbors but we did the best we could in a terribly uncomfortable position.  In my son’s defense, her seat was basically on top of him because the seats were so close together (on the way there we had bulkhead) Protip# 6 – Always get bulkhead seating if you’re traveling with children.  To top it off as she was leaving the plane she said, “Control your fucking kids.”  Thanks lady that’s helpful.  It was easily the longest flight of my life and that counts both round trip flights to Thailand.  It made us feel a lot better when other passengers came up to us to let us know we were doing great with the kids and they were as behaved as you could ask of a 10 month old and 2 year old.


Other than the flight home we had a great time.  It wasn’t a typical vacation because
traveling with two kids is HARD but it was awesome to spend some much needed quality time with my boys, my Aunt and friends.



Up next is Niagara Falls!  Can’t wait!


Naked Bavarian – 40 miler

On March 4, 2017, the last day of my 35th year, I successfully finished the Naked Bavarian 40 miler.  Honestly when I woke up in the morning I wasn’t sure I was going to make it.  I am nine and half months postpartum, some days my hips hurt for no reason.  I couldn’t help but think “I don’t belong here.” I had gotten it into my own head that I probably wasn’t going to finish.  Like I have said before, this year was about big goals and this was a BIG goal.

Keilynn and I trying to stay warm before the race.

It was a 20 mile loop so I had to go out run 20 miles turn around at the finish/start and do it all over again, except this time I knew what I was in for and 2,000 feet of elevation is no fun when everything hurts.  Plus I had to stop to breastfeed.  I was hurting badly when I was finishing the first loop.  Actually as I was approaching my husband with my kids and my brother, sister in law and my nephews I had already convinced myself to quit.  Quitting meant I could enjoy the rest of the day with my family.  I didn’t want to go back. I wanted to give up.  My friend, Keilynn, ran the first half with me and as she was leaving to go back out and I was sitting down to breastfeed she said “Don’t quit, You got this!”  She knew where I was.  I was hurting bad.  So I fed the baby changed my shirt into a dry one because I was officially cold again, grabbed my headlamp and a GU and started off again, reluctantly.

Breastfeeding the baby

The first six miles back on the trail (miles 21-25), were my worst miles.  I had depleted everything I had remaining with breastfeeding and hadn’t properly fueled during the first half so my energy was low and all of my muscles were cramping.  As I was continued on, barely running, I just started crying and I called my husband.  My right knee was killing me and I just wanted him to tell me to quit.  I also recognized this and told him I knew I was putting him in a difficult spot.   He knew I could run 20 miles and it didn’t make sense that I was hurting so soon so he told me to keep going, eat something and take some Advil.

As I was heading down yet another huge hill my right knee was throbbing making it almost impossible to continue moving down hill so I stopped and finally took some Advil.  Then continued hobbling down the mountain while eating a GU filled with caffeine.  I am sure I was a sad sight.  There were plenty of 40 mile runners heading back to the finish and I am sure they thought there was NO way I was finishing.  I hobbled on and contemplated stopping at a nearby beach taking a selfie and announcing my quitting on social media.  But then I thought, I am not even running right now, I should at least try.  As I looked at my watch I knew I would be really close to the cutoff so I continued on. When I got there, past the cutoff time by a couple of minutes, I didn’t mention it, grabbed a bunch of food and kept going.  Now, I was really starting to feel the GU and my heart was pounding so the thought of getting picked up by my husband with my heart racing felt worse than just continuing to run.  So I kept at it and made it to the 26.5 mile aid station and I was feeling GREAT!! So I filled my pockets with Goldfish drank some Gatorade and took off again.  I quickly called my husband just to let him know I was much better, texted Keilynn to let her know I was still going as well and I started off again.

Now this section was very difficult so I knew I had to run when I could and get to the big hills as soon as possible.  As I headed up the hardest part of the whole race, the sweepers (the people that clean up the trail at the end of the race) were catching up to me so I just put my head down and focused on putting one foot in front of the other.  As I was getting to the top of the climb my birthday gift awaited, there was someone else on the mountain, ANOTHER RUNNER!  I thought I was the last one by a long shot but there she was plugging away.  I think she was as excited to see me as I was her.  So we started chatting and became fast friends, I was so grateful for the company.  We reached the 30 mile aid station and the sweepers caught up to us.  I again filled my pockets with goldfish and peanut M&M’s and kept eating as much as possible.

So we setoff knowing the easiest part of the course was ahead of us and that we could make up some time before the next aid station.  We chatted the entire time and the miles flew by. We reached the next aid station with 10 minutes to spare and were ecstatic.  By this point I was in distances I had never done.  32.75 was the most I had ever done but I felt great and mentally it was as if the previous miles didn’t happen.  The thoughts of focusing on every ache and pain were gone and we were just plugging away and getting the miles done.  We got to the last aid station with 15 minutes to spare and 3.5 miles left but the second hardest part of the course awaited us with lots of rocks and hills but it felt great to have that time cushion.  We grabbed our headlamps, called our family and headed out.

The last 3.5 miles were hard but there was nothing stopping us now.  We were slower on the hills but we kept running when we could.  With about a quarter of a mile to go I found my brother waiting on the side of the trail we were on a bit of hill so we were walking.  He walked most of the rest of the way and once we hit the cement back to the finish we were running again.

Julie and I at the finish – 10 hours and 52 minutes

Once we were in view of the finish area the cheers from my family and friends were AMAZING! My fabulous running group, the Uptown Gentlefriends were waiting for me regardless that most of them finished hours earlier.  In dramatic fashion we crossed the finish line in pitch black with 8 minutes to spare.  I couldn’t believe it and I think I am still in shock. I ran 40 miles and officially completed my second goal of the year!  Boom.