Monday, March 2, 2015
February: We supported BlazeSports. Their goal is to help others gain confidence and independence through adaptive sports. We've witnessed their direct impact on the lives of a family we know. We will be donating $125 plus a matching gift to BlazeSports through their online link at www.blazesports.org.
A friend of ours in the D.C. area suggested we choose Stillbrave for our monthly project. She has volunteered at several of their events and had nothing but good things to say out their work and their founder, Tattoo Tom.
From their website: Stillbrave’s mission is to provide non-medical, supportive care to children with cancer, and their families. They are committed to helping the families of children battling cancer in any way we can. So while they are fighting the toughest war of their lives, Stillbrave will fight their lesser battles, so they don't have to. Stillbrave not only here to support children with cancer; we are here to help ease the burden of the family and the caregivers who are fighting battles of their own.
Stillbrave has several projects underway, one of which is preparing backpacks for children to help make their chemo sessions more comfortable and less scary. Tom will be running a 200 mile ultra-marathon in September; dedicating each mile to a child whom is undergoing treatment, or whom has lost their battle. There is a video on their website documenting his 100 mile ultra last year. His commitment to these children really comes through in the video.
Check out their Facebook page for more stories.
Use the yellow button below to go to Stillbrave's donation page and be sure to watch the moving short documentary about Tom's first 100 Mile Ultra posted below.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
The morning was spent with Holly and Stan running the New Orleans Marathon while Dave and Pam Race Chased. Afterwards, we went back to our Bourbon Street Hotel and prepared for some food and fun in The Quarter.
We really didn't do too much walking the rest of the day, but we did hit seven establishments. Our first concern was getting some food. We walked a few doors over to Bayou Burger. The downstairs dining room had a clean, modern sports bar feel. Since the temperature wasn't too bad out we asked to sit outdoors on their Bourbon Street balcony. Lots of fun to have this vantage point of all the fun passing by. Their burgers were great and included some interesting builds. The beer on tap was varied and included many southern options.
Our next stop was Beer Fest for some more draft beer sampling. They had quite a bit on tap, but there were a few things about the location we did not enjoy. First, there was someone smoking inside, which we really did not encounter too much, and someone in our party thought they saw a mouse or a rat in the back of house area. Drink up!
We were in search of some live music this afternoon and there is plenty to find around Bourbon Street. The sounds of the accordion drew us into Bourbon Heat. A guy was doing a one-man show with accordion, guitar, and drum-machine. We were lured in by his zydeco songs and accordion skills, but after just a couple of songs he took out the guitar and kicked off that set with "Smooth" by Santana. Check please. Since we sat by the door we really didn't take-in all that Bourbon Heat may have had to offer.
It was time to introduce Stan to one of our New Orleans favorites: a Shark Attack from Tropical Isle. This is a cocktail filled with theatrics. The base drink of vodka and (Sprite maybe) is first mixed up and a small toy animal or person is placed on top. Then the bartender fills grenadine into a plastic shark, plunges it in your drink, all while blowing a whistle and yelling warnings of a shark attack. Fun!
Now that we've moved onto liquor, it was time to go to Pat O'Brein's. Instead of hitting the patio again we decided to go to the piano bar. Since it was early we did not have to wait on a line to get in. We were shown to a table up front so we had an excellent view of the dueling piano action. All the performers were great, especially the lady would could do "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" at 3x speed. Since we had such good seats we decided it was a perfect time to just relax and enjoy the show while having a few hurricanes.
After Pat's we wanted to find some jazz. Our Tropical Isle bartender suggested we either go a few doors down to Fritzel's or hoof it passed the French Market to an area just outside The Quarter known for jazz bars. We chose to stay on Bourbon and hit Fritzel's. When we told a local about our choice the next day he looked at us with such disappointment for hitting a tourist place. Guess what? WE ARE TOURISTS! For our purposes it was great.
Fritzel's setup was not like a regular bar or restaurant. There were several rows of benches arranged to focus you attention to the small stage in the corner of the room. It felt like we were going to watch a show in Spanky's barn, but with booze. We could not enter the bar until the band went on break. We were once again given the front row. While waiting we decided we were hungry and inquired about food. We were told we could get a pizza cone in the back alley. Dave went out into the dank back alleyway where there was a tiny kitchen that only made these pizza things. Tasty! The jazz band was good and this proved to be a fun stop for us all.
Fatigue from a full day of racing/chasing was starting to set in. Fortunately, we had enough steam for one more stop. We made the short walk to Maison Bourbon where another jazz band was playing. We were shown to another front table. Within 5 minutes or so the band took a break. After about twenty minutes they came back and played a nice set. As tempting as another set and round would be, none of us had the stamina for it. Off to bed. We still have a full day left in the city as a group, and Dave and Holly had most of Tuesday left to go as well.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
|Really poor selfie attempt|
After breakfast we walked back to the hotel so we could drive to the Race Expo at the Convention Center. The drive took us through the business district and it was actually nicer than we pictured. We scored cheap street parking next to the Convention Center, but unfortunately it was on the wrong end of the large complex. This day was supposed to be a light walking day...... It took at least ten minutes to traverse the Convention Center to get to the Expo auditorium. Once we finished at the Expo we hoofed it back to the car and went back to our hotel.
Time to find some lunch. We were looking for plain food not too far from the hotel. Thanks to Yelp! we came across Yo Mama's across the street from Pat O'Briens. The place was a two-floor basic bar with some interesting wall hangings here-and-there. Overall pretty dank. The food was good - we had burgers and chicken sandwiches. The bartender was friendly and enjoyed discovering we were all Disney fans.
Louisiana Pizza Kitchen.
very popular, so it was a good thing we reserved a spot with Open Table. We chose pizza and pasta entrees. Dave went with the Jerk Shrimp pizza. Overall this was a pretty good choice.
Unfortunately that was the end of the evening since some of us were here to run a marathon. Don't worry....we made up for it on Sunday.
Here's a short and minimally produced video from our Streetcar ride.
Friday, February 13, 2015
Four Points Sheraton French Quarter, which was on the corner of Bourbon and Toulouse (aka Party Central). Upon arrival we realized we were the oldest guests by decades and likely the only guests with less than 7 people sharing a room. We imagined revelers would be disturbing our sleep before marathon morning. Surprisingly the rooms were very quiet (we booked courtyard view vs. street view rooms). Fun fact: The hotel was the first opera house ever in America, built in 1859. The Four Points had a restaurant and a bar with cheap drink prices. The location worked out very well for us and we'd stay there again.
The French Market Restaurant. The location has been an eating establishment since way before the Jackson Administration and specialized in oysters and seafood boils. We had some excellent food including shrimp and grits, gumbo, and pasta jambalaya. Dave had his first new beer of the trip: Andy Gator from Abita.
Margaritaville since we were so close. We walked into the bar section that had a country guitarist playing to one patron. Bicycle Jones was playing a heavy set of Garth Brooks (thanks Stan for cluing us in) that was actually very pleasant. We enjoyed his voice and his between-song banter. Drinks were cheap for nighttime happy hour so we stayed for two rounds and enjoyed the quality entertainment.
Pat O'Briens. It's the famous bar that serves many hurricanes. The line for the piano bar was out the door (and out the door to the street) so we opted for the chilly patio. We switched tables a few times during the evening to try to keep warm via heat lamps. We all got Hurricanes and spent the rest of the evening talking, catching up, and trying to keep warm.
Just a comment on the temperature: All four of us live in Illinois. If we were at home the 45 degrees would not be a big deal. However, low temperatures in the south always chill us. We hypothesize it's the moister air.
We left Pat O'Brien's late (for us) and took the short walk back to the hotel.
Friday, February 6, 2015
Race morning started with me meeting Stan in the lobby and him telling me he wasn’t feeling well. Uh oh. This could be interesting. We walked over to the start from our French Quarter hotel and barely dodged the Bourbon Street bleach cleaning crew on the way. They don’t stop for nothing! The start area was crowded but thankfully they had plenty of port-o-potties. We eventually started about 25 minutes after the official start by the time our corral made it to the start line.
Snacks consisted of apples, Kind Bars, and chips we bought at Walgreen's.
We'll recap all the non-race fun in future posts. Here's the video:
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
December and January: For the last two months we sponsored Heifer International to help others get supplies they need to start their own small farm business. We will be donating $250 plus a matching gift to Heifer by picking out some animals through their online catalog. You can still donate by following this link.
This organization made our radar because of our friend, and Team AllEars teammate, Alex. He has two boys in BlazeSports programs. For the last two years we've seen photos of his boys winning basketball tournaments, skiing, playing baseball. We've met all three of Alex's sons and they are some of the most genuine, confident, and outgoing individuals we have come across in a long time.
spina bifida. Yet they're high academic performers in gifted/AP classes, they're both athletes who love to compete in many sports, and they have sky-high self confidence that makes them believe they can do anything! This is due in part to our years of involvement with BlazeSports America and the many people, both on the court and in the office, who pour themselves into my boys and others. My wife and I are fond of those who care for our boys. For all those who have invested in our boys in the past, and presently, I am indebted to you, and am committed to you. THANK YOU!"
|Team wins at the NWBA North Carolina Winter Classic regional tournament during November of 2014. Samuel (left) plays on the Atlanta Jr. Wheelchair Hawks - Varsity team. Zachary (right) plays on the Prep team. Both teams won their divisions.|
Jessica into skipping Disney as well and we registered for Mississippi.
We got into Jackson Friday afternoon and met up with Jessica and her adorable daughter Harper we had a great lunch at The Iron Horse Grill then hit the small expo. It didn’t take long to get our bibs and really nice running vest included in the registration. We met up again later for a great Italian dinner at Bravo! where we got to meet Jessica’s Dad again. Back to the hotel and in bed early to get ready for the race the next day.
It really could not have been an easier course to navigate. Other than the first four miles there weren't any road closures. The ones that were closed, the police still let you drive on them. There were friendly volunteers everywhere directing traffic and letting cars cross the course.
I originally wasn't to jazzed about going to Mississippi from a craft beer standpoint because of Facebook ranking articles like this one:
Food: Iron Horse was excellent at lunch. Everything was char grilled and that took beef tenderloin fajitas up a notch. At Pig & Pint we had killer ribs - my first real southern BBQ experience. We had great appetizers at Parlor Market - one of the only nice places right in downtown. Of course, what trip to the south is complete without Waffle House.
Check out the race video below:
Sorry for the first minute of poor audio. The pocket camera records the audio and video but for some reason no longer downloads the audio. Sound plays through the camera speaker so I put our awful Skye microphone by it and tried my best.