Monday, September 29, 2008

Supplemental pic post

OK, 1st of all I've decided that the K1 & K2 thing isn't working for me. From here on, it's Mr. K and the Bean. I'm sure you'll catch on quickly, whoever you are reading this.

So here are selected pics from the activities mentioned in the prior NYC post.

The morning Friday started with Toys R' Us. We had to take my parents along to ride the giant ferris wheel in the middle of the store. I wasn't able to get any decent pics of everybody while they were riding, but they got in a Nickelodeon car w/ Spongebob clinging to the outside, which was appreciated I think.
The we explored the store. This is my mom and the Bean leaving Jurassic Park.
Here's what the Bean was worried about. She wasn't quite sure what to think of it, showing some concern that it might break out of it's animatronically limited range of motion and try to get a bite of little girl meat. Luckily Mr. K was there to protect her.
From Toys R' Us we trekked home through Times Square with Tim & Erin.
And my lovely wife of course.
The it was off to Governor's Island. This is on the way to the ferry, after everybody had met my sister for the 1st time.
Governor's Island was fun, and photogenic.

And then there was the ferry back to Manhattan. It was photogenic as well.
So there you have it. The pics to go with the prior post. More to come! I'll finish blogging this trip eventually.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Light the Night

*I have to take a break from NYC are uploaded, but I have something else to talk about at the moment*

Tonight was the Light the Night walk for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. (At least this was the Boulder iteration. There are others coming up in the Denver area.) We went, because it would seem bad karma to not support a group that supports people just like you staying alive. K1 was with dad, so it was Steph, K2, and I walking with a few hundred other people around the CU campus.

I was surprised at how emotional it was for me. Most days it's easy to forget that 3 months ago Steph was fighting for her life. Tonight she had the special blue "SURVIVOR" shirt, with the special survivor-specific white balloon. K2 and I had the red everybody-else balloons, and scattered throughout the crowd were gold balloons, representing people who had died from leukemia or lymphoma. I got hit upside the head with the realization that, had things gone differently, I could have shown up there and been forced to pick up the gold balloon. Instead I had my wife, with her blue t-shirt and white balloon.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

This salsa was made in New York City!

Last weekend my sister got married again. This is #2 for her. I only mention that because, growing up, it was always assumed that I would be 1st to get married. Instead, by the time I got engaged my little brother was on his 2nd engagement and my older sister had been married, divorced, and was engaged again. Fast forward a year and Tim & Erin have passed their 1st anniversary, Steph & I are almost to ours, and Meg & Matt are newlyweds. The end result though is that all 3 of us have found wonderful partners that suit us well. What more could you ask?

So Thursday we flew out. Delta was the airline chosen, due to flight times which they then modified to be not-as-convenient-as-hoped. We were set to arrive at 4:30, but our plane landed at 4:00 somehow. That was great, except that we spent about 45 min. sitting on the runway waiting to get to a gate. K2 had been somewhat fussy throughout the trip (really, really unusual for her...she's usually a much better traveler...) and sitting on the ground for an extra 45 minutes was not fun. After she finished her 3-year-old meltdown, we got off the plane, hopped in cabs, and headed to Manhattan to our hotel. We met up w/ Meg and my dad, then wandered down to Times Square for dinner on Mars.

The restaurant was Mars 2112, a theme place with pretty decent food and no traffic at all on a Thursday evening. There was no wait for our spaceship, a jiggly-simulation-type ride that took us through space and through a wormhole to land on mars, where we disembarked and ate in a very space-esque atmosphere. It was a perfect choice of place after the plane ride. The kids wandered around with my sister and explored, K2 talked to a woman dressed as an alien (as opposed to the ACTUAL alien who, the alien-costumed-woman confided in K2, was kind of scary...mostly he just danced and posed a lot) and there was even a DDR machine for post-dinner entertainment. Then it was off to the M&M store and a walk back to the hotel.

Friday started at Toys R' 'Spensive. K1 got his Nintendo DS for his bday and Steph got Halloween costume shopping done. Then it was subway time and we headed out to Governor's Island to explore, play very-mini golf, fly kites, and see civil war-era forts (a highlight for K1). The evening was spent at the "rehearsal dinner," which was drinks and finger foods in a swank place where they weren't used to small children or peanut allergies. K1 locked herself in the bathroom at one point and I got to talk her down through a door until she was able to unlock it. So that was fun. We left after the manager snapped at us.

More tomorrow. Bed now. I need to find my camera too...there are pics of some of this!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

History successfully witnessed

This post has been kicking around in my head for awhile now, but life's been busy.

On August 28, I got to take my stepson along to witness history being made. What's odd is that we knew it. This wasn't a spontaneous event on the streets, it wasn't a tragedy out of our control like flipping on the news the morning of 9/11, it was a conscious decision that "Hey, we're going to go witness a piece of history that will be talked about for years. Let's go!" That doesn't happen often. But we were lucky, thanks to the Perlmutter office who gave me 2 "community credentials" to get in the door.

The first time I saw Obama in person, he flew out in 2006 to do an event for Perlmutter, when he was fighting in what looked like a close election. This was the scene then:

That's Ed Perlmutter, Barack Obama, Sen. Ken Salazar, now-governor Bill Ritter, and soon-to-be-Senator Mark Udall. I was a volunteer for that event, and still have the badge that says so. The turnout was large, for what it was, especially considering we had made the decision to open it to the public just the previous afternoon. This is the crowd (notice the snipers on the roof, even back then):

I only mention this to give perspective on the difference 2 years makes.


I picked up K1 at school at 1:00. He had worn his Barack Obama shirt to school that day, and had been telling his classmates that he got to go see Obama that night. He says many were jealous. At 1:00 he practically bounced to the office and we headed to parking. According to the official parking guide, all parking at Mile High was closed, so shuttles were running from Coors Field (only from 11-2 to encourage/force early arrival) and returning folks conveniently to their cars afterward. (Can you sense foreboding?) We got there at 1:45ish, hopped on a repurposed school bus, and rode to the stadium. Rather, we rode to the line, taking a circuitous route around the actual stadium, since reports of extremely long lines made this seem wise to the bus operators. They were not wrong. This is K1 after about 30 min in line (looking back toward the line behind us):
Behind the picture, the line wrapped up a hill to the right and stretched for about 1/4 mile that we could see. In front of us at that point stood about a mile of line, 2 security checkpoints, x-ray machines, and metal detectors. And we were in the short line. The one coming in from the north was about twice as long when we finally saw it from the stadium ramps. This is about 45 minutes after the last picture, with the stadium actually in sight!

Notice...he's still smiling! A pretty incredible task really. We spent about 2 hours in that line and he didn't complain once. Well, there was once, when he was getting thirsty. Luckily the Coca-Cola corporation had thoughtfully set up stands w/ free Dasani water along the line so we didn't die. Considerate, since all water bottles were specifically prohibited, so nobody had brought any. Mostly though K1 was so excited to go see Obama that nothing else really mattered. He made a game of finding fallen political buttons on the ground and hung out better than many of the adults who kept sneaking past people in the line.

Around 4:30 we made it to our seats. Hooray! We had a great view of the stage from the nosebleed seats. (This is zoomed a bit. And that's Ed Perlmutter again speechifying!)
And here we are, enjoying the afternoon.

The afternoon was spent enjoying speeches and scouring the concession stands for food. We got stuck in 1 line when Gore was on, but saw pretty much everybody else the whole afternoon. K1 hung in like a champ, and only spent about 20 min total playing the Gameboy he'd brought along in case of boredom. Of course people-watching in a crowd of 84,000 is always fun.

Finally after 4 hours of listening to music and speeches it was time for the big event. Flags had been distributed, placards passed around, and the excitement was palpable.

The speech itself...well, you can see that in a million other places. Hopefully it will come to represent an actual turning point in our country's history and K1 will be able to tell his grandchildren someday that he was there for the speech they're talking about in school. It was historic, and I was just honored that I got to be there for it. (I did have to watch it again online...something about 84,000 cheering people kind of drowned out the actual content at times. That's a price I was more than willing to pay though.) K1 got really into it, jumping up on his seat when everybody stood to applaud, waving his flag when it seemed appropriate, and taking it all in about as much as he could have. This is the view he'll be remembering:

Eventually it all ended and it was time to go home. We grabbed all of our souvenirs and headed out with everybody else. Now, remember that thing about the shuttles? When we had left the bus I had asked where to meet the shuttle and had been told 5th & Walnut. "Leave the stadium, go under the overpass, then follow the massive crowd." Great! We left the stadium [check], flocked under the overpass [check], followed the massive crowd [check]. Except at some point it became clear that the massive crowd was being led by someone who also didn't know where they were going. Or had been redirected...the way I thought we should maybe go, based on a hasty glance at the map, was blocked by several security personnel saying "Nope, can't go this way, keep it moving people!" So we walked. And walked. And walked.

Eventually the crowd started to thin out, with groups breaking off to go different directions. When we finally got to a map on the bike path we'd been following it became quite clear that we were nowhere close to the shuttle pickup. We were actually about 2/3 of the way back to our car by then. So we hoofed it, with K1 dragging at this point and me carrying him about 1/2 the way. Google maps puts the distance somewhere between 2.5-3.5 miles, and we certainly didn't take the most direct route.

After leaving the stadium at 9:30, we got to our car at 11:00. We had passed/walked with many others who had also missed the shuttle stop. We certainly weren't alone in that. K1 was asleep before we left the parking lot. I can't blame him. 10 hours of logistics and politics is a long day! But we went, and he was insanely glad he got to go. I am too.