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.

Naked Prussian – Marathon

On Saturday, April 1st, I ran the inaugural Naked Prussian Marathon at Blue Marsh Lake outside of Reading, PA.  It was essentially the same course as the Naked Bavarian with an extra 6 mile lollipop and an extra bit in the beginning as well.  Full disclosure,  I ran the 40 miler on March 4, 2017 and basically stopped running for a month.  We went to France and got back and I may have ran 15 miles total in between the 40 miler and the marathon.  This race sneaked up on me #ultrarunnerproblems much?!?  I thought I had another week or two before the race.  Either way I was signed up and with the generous time cut-offs I knew I could run at least 20 and hike the rest.

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At the start – it was just the right amount of chill in the air!

It was refreshing to have a race without any pressure.  No one knew I was running a marathon besides my husband.  It was purely for fun and that’s what I did, I had fun!  I started the racing running with my friend Keilynn who has been training like crazy and I knew I could keep up with her in the beginning but figured she would forge ahead at some point which I was perfectly happy with.  So we started off.  I hadn’t seen her since the Naked Bavarian and we really didn’t get a chance to catch up after that race so we were chatting so much that miles 1-13 really flew by.  Yup a whole half marathon just flew by, I was running faster than last time with less paralyzing fear of getting hurt.  It was interesting because the course was so muddy and slippery but I was being less cautious than the last time I was on the course.  Don’t get me wrong I wasn’t being reckless, I just wasn’t being a wimp about the downhills and the mud.  I felt like a kid again running through the forest with a friend.  It felt GREAT.

At about mile 12 there was another aid station and we were headed back to the route I was familiar with from the Naked Bavarian except we were doing it backwards so the easy part was first and the hills were second.  I still had some kick left in me so I kicked it into high gear and got moving.  At certain points, Keilynn was having a hard time keeping up with me but I knew she had time goals and I knew this was the best part of the course to makeup time.  I also knew that I was going to pay for running too fast at this point of the race later but I didn’t really care and it felt great not to give a shit.  I wanted to feel the burn in my legs and man did it burn.

At the next aid station at about mile 17, we stocked up and headed for the hills.  Now I was pooped and Keilynn’s been training like a beast on hills so around this point I lost her.  I was pretty damn proud I had stayed with her for that long but my lower back started hurting and I just couldn’t keep up with the hills.  Before Keilynn went on her way we were perpetually chasing the Pope.  There was a guy running the race dressed as the pope (well it was a bishop costume or something but I like saying Pope!)  It was hilarious and he was actually very nice and a great source of entertainment.

After the climbs and the downhills my legs were toast and the last 6 miles were a bit challenging.  I played some music and talked to myself a bunch but overall the race was a success.  I was great with nutrition and hydration and my mental game was strong.  I think it really helped to know the course and not to have to repeat it 🙂 and to have the memory of the lows at the Naked Bavarian so fresh in my mind.

In the last mile or so I finally caught up to the Pope and we chatted about our families. He snapped this great pic of my family and I was able to finish the race with my toddler. It’s really awesome that my husband comes to support me at these events.  I love looking forward to seeing them at the end, it’s truly the best part of my run.

It was a great race and we ended the day by going to this insane asylum for the kiddos:

Happy Hump Day!

-G

France

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.

Family

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!

-G