Monday, May 28, 2018

Lucerne - Getting There

March 28/29, 2018

It's not easy to get to Lucerne, Switzerland from Atlanta, Georgia.  Of course, in the history of the world, it is actually very easy to get there now as compared to before airplanes!

We decided to take Marta (Atlanta's subway) to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.  Upon arrival we were very pleased to discover that our tickets had "TSA Pre" on them.  I had no idea why but it did not matter.  We breezed through the line and headed to Concourse F, the international concourse, with plenty of time to spare.

The flight was packed, very crowded.  About nine hours later we landed at Autohuur Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.  Although it was an overnight flight, neither of us got much sleep.  We had about 90 minutes to make our connecting KLM flight to Zurich.  I had read online that 90 minutes would be sufficient to make to the connecting flight.  However, it was not as easy as I presumed.  We quickly found that all we had to do was to get to gate D66.  What I did not anticipate was having to go through a passport check to get there.  Anyway, arrived at gate D66 with about 10 minutes to spare.

Flight to Zurich was uneventful.  Between jet lag and very little sleep, we were exhausted.  We made our way to baggage claim and watched everyone else claim their bags.  Our bags were not there.  Sigh.  Found KLM's missing luggage desk and filled out the necessary forms.  Tired, jet lagged, and no luggage.  Double sigh.

Next we heard out name being paged.  It was for the Viking limousine service.  That was comforting.  Unlike every other trip I've been on, on this trip, I booked all transportation, which included transfers, through Viking.  Glad we did that as it made it very easy and I did not have to work through all of the logistics of transfers.  Our driver was great.  We relaxed for the hour long ride to Lucerne.

Thoughts of what to do, in light of not having luggage, started to swirl around in our heads.  We had booked an excursion "Pearls of Switzerland" for the next day.  The first part of this excursion would take us into the Swiss Alps.  Out hats, gloves, scarfs, hiking shoes, and such, were in our lost luggage.

We booked a two day pre-excursion in Lucerne which included a two night stay at the Radisson Blu Hotel.  Upon arrival our driver brought us directly to the Viking reps stationed at the Radisson Blu.  They, Denise and Katerina, were fabulous!  Denise took a picture of our KLM lost luggage information and told us she would continue to follow up on it for us.  They were great!

We desperately needed a nap at this point.  So up to the room and hour nap with the agreement we'd meet up with them at about 3:30 for a introductory walking tour around Lucerne.

So after a few zzz's headed back downstairs to 'officially' begin our Viking pre-excursion.  We voiced our concern regarding Pearls of Switzerland and not having proper clothes, shoes, hats, etc.  Denise and Katerina both assured us we'd be fine.  Of course the skeptic in me thought otherwise.  During our introductory walking tour they made sure to get us to some stores so we could get a few items (hooded sweatshirt, gloves, warmer sox,...) for going up into the Alps the next day.

It was a pleasant walking tour, even though it was raining.  Denise and Katerina pointed out a number of restaurants.  We opted for Restaurant Rossini (and pizzeria).

Ristorante ROSSINI Pizzeria

We had a very delicious pizza!  From what we read and discovered, Lucerne is quite an expensive place to dine.  The prices were not outrageous at Rossini but definitely more than what we are used to paying.  Also, they did have Eichhof on tap, a Swiss lager with the brewery right there in Lucerne.  It's a good beer, I'd get it again.

Off to bed - extremely exhausted by this point!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Number 74 - The 2018 Great Saunter

Earlier this month, for number 74, did the Great Saunter.  The Great Saunter is a 32 mile walk around the island of Manhattan.  This is an annual event hosted by an organization known as Shorewalkers .

This was the fourth time doing the Great Saunter and also it was the second time doing it with my daughter.  We had good weather, and oh boy does that make a difference!  No rain :)

Since we were pre-registered, my sister and brother-in-law dropped us off at Fraunces Tavern early in the morning and we were on our way.  Fraunces Tavern is on the Lower Eastside of Manhattan and it is where the Great Saunter stated and finished.

Since both of us were "veteran Great Saunterers", we knew where bathrooms were, and where other important things, like a place to grab a coffee, were.  So we both looked forward to getting about four miles into the GS and we'd grab a coffee, to go of course.  It was part of our routine :)  However,  at mile four we discovered that the coffee shop was no longer there!  This was not good.  The coffee was definitely part of our GS experience and very anticipated.  So as we continued, the ONLY thing on my mind was where can we get a coffee!  Long story short, at mile 7.29 we found an Espresso Bar ant got two large lattes, to go of course :)

Okay, now we could resume enjoying the GS.  And we did.  It really is a great walk and a wonderful way to see New York City.

Favorite pic of the day...

George Washington Bridge

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Number 73 - 2018 Georgia Half Marathon

For number 73, did the 2018 Georgia Half Marathon.  It's been two years since I did a half - after doing this one, I remember why it's been so long.  They're hard.

I've been battling a knee problem for a few years now and even a few days before this race, I was still on the fence for switching to the 5K instead.  Two things helped me decide on doing the half:  a new knee brace and an absolute promise to myself that I would do no running during this race.

For once, I was true on the promise - I did no running in the race.  It worked.  The knee did not bother me outside of the 'normal' pain of doing these distance races.  The new knee brace was great! I was very pleased with it.

The best part about the race, pretzels and ice cold chocolate milk at the finish line:

Typically do not snack on these two things together, but after the race, the combination of the salty, sweet, and cold, really hit the spot!

 It was so good!!! 

Time: 3:01:33
Minutes/mile: 13:52

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Number 72 - Epiphany Lutheran 5K

For race number 72 I decided to do the Epiphany Lutheran 5K.  I always prefer participating in races that benefit a cause instead of the profits going to some corporation.

Epiphany Lutheran Church will be hosting a 5K Run on March 3rd to raise money for our youth trip to Houston this summer. Every three years, the Lutheran Church hosts a National Youth Gathering that attracts 30,000 high school age participants from around the country. This year, participants will be aiding in recovery efforts for the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey. All race profits will go toward alleviating the cost of this trip for families of our youth.

I did not pre-register for the race so I needed to sign up when I got there.   Gave them the money, got my t-shirt, and the woman said "the next race number is 238" and started to hand it to me.  My brain quickly wondered if race bib 239 was available so I asked.  She said "yes it is, would you like that one instead?"

I'm sure she wondered why, but didn't ask, and handed me race bib 239.  For my sisters and me, there probably is no other number, in all the numbers, that has as much meaning as this one.  Our dad passed away in 2007 and the number 239 immediately brings back fun, warm memories of him.  Dad had a joke, that he told many, many times, typically in a BBQ restaurant or anytime baked beans were being served.  He would say "you can only eat 239 of them".  Which would always warrant the response "why".  He would then get a gigantic grin on his face and say "because the next one is too farty"!    

As usual, did a combination of walking and running in this race, always aware of heart rate.  For me, no need to stay in the max heart rate range.  It was a good race, well except for the uphill parts.

I ended up placing 1st in the Male 60-69 category for the race.  However, there was only one person in that category!  :)

Sunday, February 18, 2018

It All Started With Downton Abbey

It seems that the first thing I saw each time I watched an episode of Downton Abbey was a commercial for Viking River Cruises.  I suppose advertising does work.  

As we approach this thing called 'retirement', more thoughts of travel have come to mind. Although we're not big fans of cruising on the ships with 2000+ passengers, the Viking Longship, with capacity of about 200 passengers, seemed like something we might like.  The Viking Lonsgships do not have casinos, spas, gyms, art auctions, and such.  They're basically transportation to get you to your next destination.  It's more about the destinations, getting to know the people on board, and of course, the food!

We decided on Viking's Rhine Getaway.

Rhine Getaway

Day 1 - Basel, Switzerland
Day 2 - Breisach, Germany
Day 3 - Strasbourg, France
Day 4 - Heidelberg & Rudesheim, Germany
Day 5 - Koblenz, Germany
Day 6 - Cologne, Germany
Day 7 - Kinderdijk, The Netherlands
Day 8 - Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Looking forward to this!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Number 71 - Ordination Rock 5K

July 4th, 2017 --  Ordination Rock 5K  --  Tamworth, NH

If there was such a thing as Most Unique 5K Name Award, this race might have a shot at winning it.  Ordination Rock, as explained to me by my grandson, is a glacial erratic - a gigantic rock resting in an area where it just does not belong, apparently deposited there by a glacier (a very long time ago) and just left there after the glacier melted.

Anyway, this glacial erratic is where the start line was for the 5K.

Start: Ordination Rock outside Tamworth Village up Cleveland Hill Road Finish: K.A. Brett School
Course: A scenic run through quaint Tamworth Village including the Remick Country Doctor Museum & Farm (Binsack Trail), Captain Enoch Remick House, The Tamworth Historical Society, The Barnstormers Theatre, & Cook Memorial Library; winding over the Swift River, turning by Tamworth Veterans’ Memorial and a long straight final run down Rte 113 to the K.A. Brett School.

This was a wonderful, small town, local, fund raiser for the library race.  There were 143 participants.  One of the things that caught my attention in the first mile, while going through the Remick Country Doctor Museum & Farm were some unique spectators!

The race ended at the school and they had my most favorite after race refreshment - watermelon!  For me, on a hot summer day after race, there is nothing better than watermelon - the best!

After the race, the day's activities included a few more fun 4th of July events:

The first was a parade through the downtown area of Tamworth, the kids loved it as they were throwing candy off of each float!   But when the firetrucks came by, with their sirens blaring...

Towards the end of the parade, the Tamworth Union Hall float came by with two of my grandsons and son-in-law...

Union Hall Pig Roast!

Back at the house, the day before...

~18 hours and they'll be ready

No need to mention where we ended up later on the 4th...  :)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Terror Off the Nature Trail - The Trial

(continued from: Witness for the State)

Why was I nervous?

Woke up normal time on the day of the trial.  Coffee.  Bagel.  Shower.  Shave.  But I was off, could feel it.  Why was I actually trying to figure out what to wear?  I never really try to figure out what to wear, I typically just grab anything that sort of matches, maybe.  I suppose just a general feeling of uneasiness totally consumed me.  I don’t know, it was just weird like no other day before.  But then again I never testified against anyone in court before.

Drove up to the county courthouse and true to form, was early.  Grabbed another coffee and just hung around the courthouse and observed everything that was going on.  Again, I had never been down this road before.  It was surreal.

I finally made my way to the ADA’s office and signed in.  The ADA was not at his desk so the receptionist told me to have a seat and he’d be back shortly.  Thoughts began racing through my mind of how this trial was going to unfold.  The truth, I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen.  Sure, just like virtually everyone else in America, I’d seen many courtroom trials on TV.  But in reality, none of that seemed to fit with what I was experiencing at that moment.

The ADA showed up, dressed sharp, maybe a better description would be, dressed slick.  Thoughts of used car salesman came to my mind, not sure why.  This was just another day for him, no big deal.   

He took me into his office and started to explain how things were going to happen.  Although I really did want to know all of this, my mind for some reason was not ready to receive it.  It was similar to when the teacher spoke on a Peanuts cartoon.  Wa-wa wa,wa,wa wa-wa-wa.  This was just strange.  He kept going on and eventually I did zone in to what he was saying.  The biggest thing that stood out was, I could not stay for the trial after I testify.  What?  Why not?  Well apparently it’s the law or at least how it works.   Once I was finished testifying, I would be dismissed from the court.  But I wanted to watch how all of this played out.  Oh well, that was not what was going to happen.

Next he started what seemed to be like “coaching”.  My brain quickly started wondering is this how it’s suppose to work?  Is this allowed?  What if the defense attorney asks me if I was coached?   What will I say?   Stop already!  Just stop, over thinking all of this.

After he was through “coaching” me I asked him about the defense attorney.  His answers led me to believe that these guys face each all the time in court and it is a competition, more or less, between them.  I sort of got the feeling that it was feasible that these guys would actually go out for beers from time to time and each brag about their wins.  

The trial started, a little time went by and I was called to the stand.

There I stood just like the movies, “do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…”.

Does anyone ever answer “no” to this question?

First up was the prosecuting attorney, that was a piece of cake.  Heck, I was his witness.  Kid glove questions, just the facts, he lead me through exactly what he wanted me to say.  And that part was over.

Next up, the defense attorney.  That was a totally different story.

With his first question, I was so confused.  This was nothing like I envisioned it.

“How old are you?”

His words were direct like a sharp shooting arrow.  My brain immediately went I’m not sure where, but it definitely was not what I expected.

So I answered “49”.

Next he asked “what do you do for a living?”

Okay, okay, he was just getting preliminary info out of the way, I thought.

I answered, “I’m a college instructor”.

“What do you teach?”

I replied “Business Information Systems”.

Next he goes into his first line of defense but starts it with “so old professor Scott, how long were running on that incredibly hot August morning at the park?”

“Old professor Scott”, what is that all about I thought?  And what was the question about how long I was running about?  I still could not wrap my brain around where he was going and what he was trying to do.  So I answered him honestly and said “I was only out for a 45 minute run, maybe about 30 minutes into it”.  

He said, “do you run much?”

My reply was “I’m training for a half marathon, so I run a fair amount”.

His facial expression changed.  In hindsight, especially because my hair was mostly gray (looked old) and I was running in the summertime Atlanta heat, after 30-45 minutes of running, how that heck could I process anything accurately, especially a shooting, was where he was going with this.  Old, exhausted, profusely sweating was the picture I think he was trying to paint for the jury to discredit my testimony.  But when I told him I was training for a half marathon, that was a surprise to him and it totally changed his game plan.  It was at that point where he dropped this and moved on to another angle.

Next he started asking questions about how I taught my classes at the college.  He did ask numerous questions.  

I was very confused at that point.  He was not asking anything about what I witnessed that day in the park.  Where was he going with this?  Why was he not asking about the park?  My brain was swimming.

The question that stood out the most was a leading question that went like this, “so old professor Scott, isn’t it true that before you give a test to your class, you have to cover all of the material that would be on that test”?

What is this guy doing?   That was a stupid question.  It’s like asking if water is wet.  So I answered the question “yes”.

I do not recall the exact amount of time his questioning took.  Time froze and time went on forever.  It was surreal.  Time did not exist.  

When he concluded, I was dismissed from the court.  The problem was, I was wired, wired like I’d never been before.  I wanted to stay and see how this whole process was going to play out.  But I was not allowed.

Wired.  What to do, what to do?  It was only about 10:00 AM, really could not go to bar and have them line up shots for me (not that I’ve ever done that, but the thought did cross my mind) so that wasn’t really an option.  Instead I went to a Starbucks and knocked down shots of espresso.

No other day of my life was like this one.

Back home hours later, late in the day, I called the ADA.  Actually I was hoping he’d call me, but he didn’t.  I said “what happened?”

The ADA simply said, “he was found guilty”.

This really was not a surprise given what had happened.  I asked the ADA what was up with the defense attorney’s questioning of me especially the question about teaching all the material before giving a test.  

He laughed and said “he quoted you in his summation”.  

What?  How?   But I was a witness for the prosecution.  

He basically said “just like old professor Scott told us, you have cover all the material before you give a test, just like in this case you have to have all the facts and ladies and gentlemen, we do not have all the facts”.

My brain went bonkers!   Now I did need to those shots!   On some level I actually felt violated.  How could this SOB use my words to support his case?  Wow!  

Then the ADA went on to say, "but that’s not all".  After he was found guilty, there was some stipulation that allowed sentencing to take place after a short recess.  Well during that recess, the accused, who had a heart condition and took nitroglycerin pills for it, decided to consume an entire bottle of nitroglycerin pills in an attempt to commit suicide.   

They rushed him to the hospital, they pumped his stomach, he did not die.  In the end, he did end up going to jail.

Justice was served.

As I said in the very beginning of this, I cannot go by this area without hearing that gunshot in my mind.