Go dog go...

Los Angeles from the Santa Monica Mountains as the sun sets behind me...

Okay, it's no secret that I am hopelessly hooked on trail running. The long runs satisfy the endurance bug that woke up within me during the course of the Appalachian Trail thru-hike. Proof is in my exciting story about...socks. Yes socks. I won a pair of Drymax trail running socks from the author of Fixing Your Feet, John Vonhof. I've put about 30 miles on the socks and really enjoy them. There is almost too much cushion for my liking, but they seem to be a great addition to my gear arsenel.

I thought I would share this picture from one of my training trails. The path spilts left and right, you make the choice. The "too steep" is indeed quite steep (speaking from adrenaline boosting personal experience).

My mom spent a great week here and left a couple days ago. we ate some great food and hung out with fun people. Now she is back where the current weather is 9F. Wow. I remember that, but don't miss it.

Well 2009 is creeping in soon. It's been another great year. Lots of changes and lots to be thankful for. Anyone out there make resolutions? Do share. I plan to stay the course. Love my wife, family, and friends. Live a healthy lifestyle, and well that probably covers it.


Salty Dog

Dave's Mom was in town visiting for the Holidays and we went down to the beach with my Uncle Scott, our friend Arturo and all the dogs (Benton, Roxy and Zoe) to watch the sun set the other night. It was so pretty and quiet down there. My Uncle Scott brought the best potato soup to eat as we slowly watched the sun dip into the ocean. I hope everybody is having a wonderful holiday season full of love and peace.


What Milt Did...

Many of my weekend trail runs take place on the Backbone Trail. Thank you Milt McAuley.


Track closed 12/9/08-1/9/09

Booooo. I say boo. The 400 meter track up the street is closed until next month. There is some sort of construction going on and everything is fenced off. The problem is that it gets dark out so early that my options for running are somewhat limited after work. A great solution I found was the pleasant monotany of running laps at the track. It's easy to keep tabs of how far you have gone, and there are no cars to worry about. For the time being I'll be restricted to running the neighborhood streets. Not so bad...but even more so I'd rather be on the trails.

Oh, the worst part about running at that time of the evening? Being so hungry. I run by all these houses where everyone is preparing dinner. It smells SO good. Maybe one day I'll pick a house at random and just invite myself in for a bite to eat. I'm sure that will go over well.

Attention lovers of the backpacking and all things outdoors. Ray Jardine has published a new book. It is a very updated version of his classic "Beyond Backpacking", I can't wait to get my hands on this book. Beyond Backpacking was very influential and helpful in my preparation for the Appalachian Trail last year. I'll let you know how "Trail Life" stacks up. I have high hopes.

Oh, one last boo! shout goes to Time Warner cable for their inconsistant to non-existant service over the past couple of days at home AND at work.

That is all.


The Six Strings...

Seis Cuerdas. Awesome musicians. Check out their site and listen to some of their music. These brothers are regular performers on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. Nicole and I like to go down and check them out a few times a month. So good.

And then there is this photo. I promise there is an explanation.

The other night we finally checked out a little Greek restaurant around the corner we have been meaning to get to. Apparently the cast of Full House gives it lots of big and little thumbs up, because this was hanging on the wall. Well, fortunately we enjoyed it as well and will be back to enjoy the fresh and delicious food...soon. I've been looking for a good and cheap Greek restaurant since moving from Buffalo and leaving behind "Falafel Bar". Man, that place was awesome. Anywho, I am happy to find a more than ample replacement.

Happy eating.


Hey, thanks.

The Thanksgiving sunset was incredible. It didn't hurt that we were in the mountains of southern California with family.

Left to right, Aaron, Anna, Richard, Lisa, and Andrew hosted annual "get together with family and eat lots of food day". It was a great time filled with deliciousness and games from basketball to Chinese checkers.

The Pacific crew. Nicole's brothers Jason and Jeremy stayed with us for the week and shared in the Thanksgiving festivities. We hit Venice beach, the 3rd Street Promenade, hiked in the Santa Monica Mountains, and ate tons of great food. Great food including a day after Thanksgiving feast with Nicole's uncle Scott.

Tomorrow it's back to work for me, and final projects for the semester are due for Nicole this week. That's the good word.

What did you do for Thanksgiving?


Run for the hills...

Pictured above...the three finishers. Nicole, Alright, and I enjoyed a beautiful day running in the mountains off the coast of Malibu this past Sunday. Nicole fell in love with her first trail run and has made a public statement to the effect that she will run again.

The race was well organized and a blast to run.

Alright and I decided since the drive home was along the Pacific Coast Highway it would be a good idea to pull off to the side of the road and go for an "ice bath" in the ocean.

This act of lunacy helped relax our sore muscles enough to convince us that a hike in the mountains the next day was an excellent idea. Nicole's brother Jason (in town for work and pleasure) joined Alright and I for a nice 5 mile hike and Subway subs in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Today I went back to work and another of Nicole's brothers (Jeremy) flew in to spend the holiday with us. It promises to be another great week full of fun and food.

This concludes Trail Days SoCal 2008.


Trail Days SoCal...

Fellow 2007 AT thru-hiker "Alright" is visiting from Ithaca, NY. We are going to run a 30K in the mountains tomorrow. Nicole is running the 9K. More news on that topic after the run.

Last night we met up at Souplantation with two other '07 thru-hikers, Figgy and Stitch. Not pictured, the photographer (Nicole). It was awesome to catch up and swap trail stories.

Today Alright and I headed down to Venice beach. We strolled up and down the boardwalk before going up to Main St. for some Mexican food. Among the street performers today were two guys who did all kinds of crazy stuff related to juggling...like one standing on the others head...with one foot...while juggling...knives.

Tonight we'll probably all lay low and maybe hit third street after dinner. Then an early night and early rise for tomorrow's run.

Until next time...


Up in smoke...

These are some of the 10,000 people that evacuated their Southern California homes in the midst of the most recent wildfires ripping through the mountains. There are three major fires currently burning strong.

The stats...

Homes/Mansions/Businesses Destroyed: 170
Mobile Homes Destroyed: 500
Acres Burned: 14,000
People Evacuated: 10,000
Amount Contained as of Sunday: 20%
Highest Wind Gust: 80 mph

The 500 mobile homes that burned reportedly went like a a pile of dry tinder. We are in no real danger, but it did rain ash for a couple of days and the smell of smoke was heavy in the air.

Below...multi-million dollar homes go up in smoke.

In other excitement, we watched "A Scanner Darkly" last night. Good and bizarre...which helped make it good. Tonight we went out for Thai food, most of which was delicious, all of which was eaten.

And that's the news.



Little houses.

Nicole and I first saw these a couple years ago. They are a frugal and amazing use of space. I think it would be an amazing getaway home, but we would need a little more room to stretch out than the smallest models...

She thinks about these things. Do you?


On Holiday...

Yesterday I made the hour or so drive up to Angeles National Forest for an overnight backpacking trip. I camped about 6 miles in from where I parked, the last 3 miles I hiked in the dark. I actually enjoy hiking, and the challenge of setting up camp, in the dark.

I over packed for the trip and still weighed in with a base weight (weight of pack and gear without food and water) of just over 8 lbs. The night turned out to be pretty chilly, so I was glad to have the extra clothes.

A highlight of some of the gear taken, and links, in case there are other gear nerds reading this:
Gatewood Cape tarp
down sleeping quilt
GoLite Jam2 pack
thermarest short pad
Patagonia micropuff pullover
REI Sahara convertible pants
Gossamer Gear trekking poles
Inov-8 Roclite 315 trail runners
Tilley hat
Tikka XP headlamp
capilene shirt and compression shorts
UL waterproof silnylon stuff sacks

As I look through this list I appreciate how nice it is having a select arsenal of quality, lightweight gear. Much of it was used for the AT thru-hike last year. Also, I think everything on the list was bought on sale or gifted by generous friends and family.

And the food that I ate on this trip? A gourmet selection.
-a variety of cliff bars
-spicey ramen noodles rehydrated with cold water in a zip lock freezer bag
-instant potatoes made the same way with tuna fish mixed in
-a chunk of cheddar cheese
-a huge snickers bar
-2 milky way bars

That is what I call fine dining. For most shorter trips like this I have found that I enjoy the convenience and freedom of not carrying a cookset. Mind you my entire "kitchen" on the AT (stove, fuel, utensils, cookpot) weighed in at under 8 oz.

Anywho. That is my idea of fun. The parting shot below is of my camp site...bye now.


Let there be art...

Tonight Nicole and I went to the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art for a show put on by their Art and Sales Gallery. Several talented artists were showing their work, including our friend Paul Guillemette. Check out Paul's site here. The piece in the photo below is a "work on loan" hanging in our house. The current work he is doing consists of found objects, mostly wood. All I can say is pictures don't do them justice.

After taking in the art and the wonderful night air we headed down to Main Street in Santa Monica for some Pinkberry with yogurt chips, mango, and kiwi. Oh yum yum.

I'm off to enjoy a nice three day weekend...which will consist of an overnight backpacking trip Sunday through Monday at an undisclosed and undecided location. More on that upon my return...


Yes we did...

Nicole and I walked a few blocks over to a garage last night to vote in our first CA election. Above is a picture of the garage that was our polling place. Earlier in the day the line was over an hour long, but we were able to sail in and out with no wait.

Apologies for the delay between posts. Nicole has been busy with school and infinite projects and I have been busy at work and training for the 30K I'm running with my AT friend "Alright" in a couple weeks. Excuses, yes. But that's what I've got.

In the meantime...things have been going well. We are enjoying our new library in town, and the bizarre weather. By bizarre I mean are we ever going to have to close our windows or does winter here mean mid 70's by day and never freezing at night?

More frequent posts to follow. Stick with us.



The world wide web...

The link below is a pretty cool visual representation of Web 2.0 in less than 5 minutes.

The Machine is Us/ing Us


One and a half tons...

The other day our moving cubes arrived. It was a bit like playing tetris getting everything we own into two of these cubes. In the end, everything fit, and we feel good about what we are bringing west with us.

After looking at this picture, my fun fact is this: The weight limit for each cube is 1500 lbs. That means the total capacity for two cubes is 3000 lbs or 1.5 tons (even packed tight we are nowhere near the weight limit). In the foreground of the photo is a 2175 sticker from the Appalachian Trail. When I hiked the trail last year my pack weight was down to 8.5 lbs. Weird contrast.

Anywho, we fly out Sunday morning. The puppies go tomorrow. Speaking of which, here is a current picture of Benton. 11 months and 70 lbs. He and Roxy have been thoroughly freaked out by all of the action at the house the past couple of days...including the absence of furniture!


The left coast...

325 days of sunshine a year. Reason enough to move to Santa Monica, California.

Next week Nicole, Roxy, Benton, and I will wake up in a different time zone on the other side of the country. Long story short, Nicole was accepted into an amazing graduate program. More details as they unravel.



I loved playing with paperdolls when I was little, and I think these are the coolest ones yet! I'm dying to see what their other "outfits" are....the description says that it comes with "casual and formal outfits." There wives are included! Maybe I'm crazy but I think I'd rather dress up Senator Obama, his wife, and cute little girls. He seems a lot more fun.



Isn't this a great picture? I'm getting really pumped for the elections coming up. I'm not sure if I'm still living in a dream world, but I hope and pray that whoever is elected makes some great CHANGES (hint, hint)!


Dragon Burn 2008...

That's right, the pictures of the annual Drag n' Burn celebration are up for your viewing pleasure. In short, Nicole and I had a wonderful trip "up north". It was great to see everyone and to relax down at the Land (which is celebrating it's 15th year!).

Thank you to everyone who made the trip a pleasure and apologies to those we weren't able to see due to time and schedule.



"I love living. I have some problems with my life, but living is the best thing they've come up with so far." - Neil Simon

Do you ever have those days where you wake up, and you know that although you are having some struggles you can still see the bigger picture and all the love that surrounds you? I know I sound like a big hippie, but I'm ok with that. I'm so grateful that I have a wonderful, amazing husband, the best parents in the world who are also my friends, 3 awesome brothers, 1 beautiful sister-in-law, and a happy little guy that reminds us all to see the joy in life (see picture above). Life is good.


Walk, run, eat...

Andrew Skurka
. Put him on the list. The list of people whose accomplishments you look at and say "why would anyone ever do that?" or you say, "wow, that is so amazing it's beyond inspiration". I am the latter of the two. Nicole and I had the pleasure of meeting Andrew a few months back when he held a presentation for National Geographic in DC. It is partly his fault that I am so interested in a doing a 50K trail run in the mountains this fall. We'll see how the training goes...I may have to trim down to the 30K if I don't feel prepared.

Anywho, my wonderful wife and I enjoyed a BBQ/birthday party at a neighbors house tonight. Lots of food and stories as well as gossip floating around everywhere. Ah good times. Looks like mixed T-storms tonight (Chopsticks calls them T-storms). Seems like that has been the weather all month. What's with this part of the country?


The Reel Mower

We are trying out best to be more green and we thought a fun way to do this would be to get a push mower. Little did we know that they are a hot commodity on Criag's List! After trying for weeks we finally scored a deal and drove into NW DC to pick up our $20 mower this weekend. We were so excited that when we got home we took it out of the back of the car and immediately started taking turns pushing it across the lawn. Dave ended up finishing the job while I snapped a few pictures of him :) I recommend the mower, it works really well and makes the neighbors wonder if we are weird, which is always fun to do.


The first rule of fight club...

Ed Norton has been in a lot of movies. A lot of good movies. I always go back to Fight Club when I think of him. It's hard to believe that was in 1999. Anywho, today Nicole and I checked out The Incredible Hulk followed by delicious Thai dinner and Coldstone ice cream with our friends Chris and Melissa.

We both really enjoyed the movie. The directions to the theater were another story. Mapquest and Google Maps (I had two sets of directions just in case) each took us different ways but ended in the middle of a subdivision and said "okay, here is your movie theatre". Really? So do we knock on the door of the closest house, invite ourselves in and ask what the 3:45 movie is today? Booo maps. Booo. We did however make it to the real theater in time to catch the last of the previews and the entire feature film. In conclusion. It was a good day.

Who is your favorite actor/actress?



Guys may not know of this game, but I know the girls might (I know we played this in YW)! I do have a feeling I made my poor little brother Jared play it though. This was a favorite of mine in elementary school, and when I got really desperate in my 20's! Just kidding.

Check out my results after playing the online version, not too shabby! I entered Dave as all of my crushes, cause lets face it, I scored big time marrying that guy and I'm not about to change it. So it appears it's going to be Dave and I in an apartment in Amherst, MA. I'm a professor and we have 2 kids and are zooming around in a red Prius. PERFECT, I knew I loved this game. Play yourself, and tell me your results.


Lightning crashes...

For about the two zillionth time over the past year of living in this house the power went out. Yesterday evening an intense storm went through the area complete with sideways downpour and a huge light show. A few hours later the power had not come back on, but the sky cleared up and the rest of the evening was clear and cool outside.

On our way to meet a friend and get the dogs out once it had cleared up, Nicole and I decided to stop at the library. No dice. They were also without power and therefore closed.

Today is a new day, complete with cloudy skies and downed branches...oh and power is back. We are supposed to get another big storm tomorrow, so we'll see what that brings!

Joshy and I went through a solid week with no electricity a few winters back when a crazy ice storm hit in Buffalo. What's the longest you have been "involuntarily" without power?


The Girl Effect

Powerful and well done. Take a look at the site after you watch the movie.


Drag and Burn...

Ah, the annual drag and burn celebration. It's simple. The wonderful Papa Huber, aka Prairie Dawg, owns some property in NY fondly known as "the land". (warning, run on sentence ahead - proceed with caution) For the past I don't know how many years now his son, my best man, Joshy, has invited friends from far and wide to come spend a special summer weekend at the land. The goal...drag as many dead trees, branches, and other brush into a huge pile or piles and burn them. Thus the name, drag and burn. Yeah see, makes sense now!

Each year a different area of the land is designated for the dragging and this ultimately helps with the health of the woods. So basically do some manual labor to help out a place that you enjoy though out the summer, and in exchange you get to hang out with good people and enjoy in the celebration at night. Oh and did I mention that Joshy treats you like kings and queens when it comes to food and drink for the whole event? True, it is customary to bring a dish to pass, but a big pat on the back to Josh for organizing the event every year and going over the top with food and refreshments. Nicole and I are looking forward to seeing everyone and pitching in next month for this years Drag and Burn.

Ladies and gentlemen, your host.


On the Beach

Today in Washington DC it is 95, although weather.com says it "feels like" 100. YUCK. So I thought I would share photos and a link from this wonderful exhibit at DC's very own National Gallery of Art that I want to check out this weekend of American photographer Richard Misrach. Take a look yourself.

Since 2001, he has made a series of large scale (six by ten feet), lushly colored photographs of swimmers and sunbathers in Hawaii.

Makes me want to run out of the office and get to a beach ASAP! Guess I'll have to settle for the air conditioned National Gallery of Art instead. Enjoy!


Going the distance...

Ever since I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail last year I have needed a new physical and mental challenge. I have never been a distance runner, so I decided a marathon would be a great mark to reach for. Joining me for the run last month were the other two members of the "Hey Man Crew", Chopsticks (right side in photo) and Alright (center). We had a blast getting together and reminiscing about trail experiences as well as celebrating Nicole's birthday.

The marathon itself was also a success, with all three of us finishing. Chopsticks is already talking about running again in the fall and was very close to qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I am hooked as well. There is something about 3+ hour training runs that is crazy and satisfying at the same time. I would like to run a couple more marathons at the standard distance of 26.2 miles and from there set my sights on ultramarathons. Triathlons are another possibility, but for now I'm thinking about ultras.

Lastly, thanks to those of you who have already subscribed to the RSS feed and posted comments.

Cesar's Way

We had a fun weekend house sitting for our friends the Boyle's. They have a Rhodesian Ridgeback named Lucy, and are also fostering a Great Dane named Cesar. Cesar weighs 180 lbs, is 36 inches at the withers and is a nice mellow guy. It was funny because he made Roxy (68 lbs) and Benton (65 lbs and growing) look like little Chihuahuas. Our favorite things Cesar did was sit on the couch like a human, and drink water directly out of the kitchen sink!

I think Dave is worried because I told him I want a Great Dane as one of our next dogs.....


This is the beginning...

This is us. I am Dave, she is Nicole. We are the Chans.

Welcome to our blog.

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