2020 Airstream Trip – Part 1: Yellowstone

Despite the global pandemic, we were determined to do something with the kids this summer and get them out of the house. We had a great long weekend with the Lees over 4th of July to test the waters at a resort. Carneros was ideal because each unit is a separate cottage and most everything is outdoors.

Early on during COVID-19, I could foresee our future of travel and I immediately started lobbying to purchase an Airstream. I figured we could live and work in it, travel, see my parents, etc. I picked the one I wanted (27′ Globetrotter), found some pre-owned models for sale (I almost never buy anything new), and even researched storage options (fearing this could be the money in money pit). In the end, I got a hard no from Grace.

During this time, I was also looking to rent during August from the same place where I’ve rented the last three Airstream trips. The business is now on its third owner and I was having a hard time pinning down dates and the model I wanted. Once I made the reservation (for the same exact unit we took to Utah last time), there was a switcheroo, but it was going to be in my favor. Another client couldn’t tow anything longer than 25′ and the owner told me he was buying a brand new 27′ Globetrotter. This was going to be the perfect test drive. Grace’s hard no was actually a “can we really survive two weeks in this thing?”

About a week before the trip, it turned out the Globetrotter had an issue with the power awning, so we got switched again to a barely used 2020 27′ Flying Cloud. Honestly, I was a little disappointed, but the bonus was that this particular model had the rear hatch option, which is rare and novel. I was just glad we were still going to be on our way.

Which way, in Grace’s mind, was still up for debate. I had made the itinerary and all the reservations a month in advance. “Maybe we should just stay in California? Maybe we should stay close to home?” This was my hard no. I had a plan (basically) and we were sticking to it.

Our first stop was going to be Yellowstone National Park. Pickup is late in the afternoon and I wanted to make as much progress as possible, so I booked a stop in Elko, Nevada, just to sleep. We got a late start and didn’t pull into the RV park until about 1am. I didn’t even hook anything up except for electricity as we had a full tank of water, which in retrospect probably wasn’t great for handling or MPG. The latter was at times 3-5 MPG. For a long stretch of Nevada the speed limit was 80 MPH, so I went 80 (I know, that limit might not have applied to us). The problem with 80 MPH is that gas mileage was abysmal and could barely hit 10 MPG as we ascended into Idaho and Montana. This was my first time to both of those states as well as Wyoming, which was just inside the park.

We stayed at Grizzly RV in West Yellowstone. The first night we got some groceries and some take out. I ran out to get breakfast the next morning from Running Bear Pancake House. Due to our late planning, I couldn’t reserve a spot for the entire stay, so I had to check out after one night and check in again to move spots. Grace made ramen for lunch and we didn’t enter Yellowstone until 2pm.

Thanks to the suggestion (among many) of my friend, Annika, we downloaded the Gaper Guide to North and South Yellowstone, which was the perfect in-car audio guide and told us what to see along the way. As we were entering the area, it finally clicked with Lucas that we were in Yellowstone and he recalled that it was a super volcano, which could erupt at any time. I thought he might be on edge the entire time, but the prospect of being blown off the planet at any instant wasn’t in the forefront of anyone’s mind.

That first afternoon, we saw most of North Yellowstone, including Beryl Spring, Gibbon Falls, Norris Geyser Basin, and Mammoth Hot Springs, where we had a late afternoon snack. We also saw our first wildlife there, as Elk were wandering around, up-close and personal. We walked around the lower terrace and drove the upper terrace before calling it a day.

Day 2 started with Cup Noodle (a Lucas favorite). Just as we’re not first chair skiers, we’re also not first into the park. We didn’t enter until around noon. This day was for South Yellowstone and we started in Canyon Village, where we had lunch and gathered supplies (snacks). Our first stop was to see The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, which was spectacular from every vantage. We stopped at multiple points along the Lower and Upper Falls and then crossed to the other side to see it from Artist Point, which is an amazing vista of the falls. We ended this area with a short hike to the Upper Falls and along the river.

The kids were particularly interested in seeing wildlife, especially Olivia. We finally stumbled upon a few Bison, so pulled over to get a look. There were only a few and they were far away. It was exciting for all. We ended the day at Yellowstone Lake and the West Thumb Geyser Basin, which was beautiful. Pretty much every geothermal feature we saw during the first two days was unique and otherworldly.

On Day 3, we didn’t have much left to see except Old Faithful, which is ironically the park’s biggest attraction. We got there just after it had gone off, so we had about 40 minutes to wait. By the time it finally erupted, there were hundreds of people waiting. Honestly, it wasn’t the most impressive display to see in the park, but I’m glad we saw it. After that, we went to the Grand Prismatic Spring in the Midway Geyser Basin, which was one of my favorite attractions.

Lucas and Grace had ramen for dinner and Olivia and I went to the taco truck that was suggested by my friend, Narayan. After dinner, I went back into the park myself to photograph the sunset. I had to just pick a spot, so I went back to the Grand Prismatic Spring. I shot what I could and called it a night.

Yellowstone exceeded my expectation and was one of the most impressive places I’ve visited. Three days was perfect for us to see most of the park at our pace. We probably drove around 300 miles just around the park. I don’t know if we’ll be back again as a family, but I hope the kids will visit again to explore it on their own.

2018 Vegas Trip

Jen, Ed and I met up in Vegas for our annual trip. Grace and Prem both came in for one night, which is plenty of time for trouble. We missed Jea, who was at Nationals with her tennis team (woo hoo).

Ed and I played Paiute two days (Wolf and Sun Mountain). The weather was beautiful and we had a great time. We tried some new places to eat (Mastro’s was a bust) as well as visited our tried and true. I might have stayed 3 hours (or 3 days) too long.

Until next time…

Week in Tahoe with the Moons

We’ve had many Tahoe adventures with the Moons over the years. Now that their home is finally ready, we were honored to be the first guests to break in the house (figuratively and literally). I guess the real honor goes to Ed’s bachelor party, but there wasn’t a speck of glitter anywhere, so it’s like it never happened.

We arrived on Monday and had lunch at the family barn, which is just a short walk from their home. It wasn’t hard to keep busy for a week with so much to do. The kids got started on a fort, which kept them busy throughout the week. Olivia is really wanting a dog, so spending time with Thando was good practice.

On Tuesday, Elin, Mike and I took the kids to the ropes course, which was challenging and a lot of fun for everyone. It’s a little bit Truman Show to be able to either fish or go bowling only 100 yards apart, but those were our options in the afternoon. Elin took Nico and Lucas bowling while Alex, Olivia and I went fishing. We heard they’re getting smarter and they did prove hard to catch. I got lucky and snagged a 10-12″ trout. Eventually the others found us and both Nico and Olivia hooked a fish but both fell off before landing them.

On July 4th, Mike wanted to go on a hike/adventure he had heard about at Crystal Peak. Apparently, the Crystal Mine trail ends on a mountain of quartz, which is there for the taking (one bucket-full per car per day). We had no real idea where we were going and there was a dispute between Google Maps, Waze and the internet. We also ended up off-roading for miles and had read that the last part of the trail required 4-wheel drive and clearance. I think we looked a bit out of place with all of the 4-wheel dune buggies whizzing by, but we made it all the way up. The kids thought it was fun.

There was no real objective when looking at a huge pile of rocks, so we told them to start digging up a huge crystal embedded in the mountain. That kept them busy for an hour or so (not even close to dislodging it). Eventually they started to search for and collect clear crystals, which were also hard to come by. After a couple hours, we decided to head out and went out a different way, which we were hoping was a little easier on the car. It wasn’t. The rugged terrain lulled everyone to sleep for what turned out to be a 65-mile drive deep into Nevada and back to Tahoe.

Grace brought a lot of food, which included a colorful 4th of July BBQ featuring Fred Steaks. We finished early enough to head down to Tahoe City to catch the fireworks. Things didn’t get underway until well past 9:30pm when it got truly dark out. Of the 600+ photos I took on the trip, it’s possible that 300+ were of fireworks. I posted one, which still looks terrible. I think the iPhone has those nailed.

Thursday, we wanted to go to the beach on Lake Tahoe. Thando was joining us, so it had to be dog-friendly, which ruled out our usual Sand Harbor. Mike determined that Chimney Beach was the place to go, but it has limited parking so we got a very early start and were one of the first people there. Elin and I were trying to guess the water temperature in both Celsius and Fahrenheit. Either way, it was super cold, but the kids and Elin braved it (well, Lucas was less brave). We stopped at the Lone Eagle restaurant in Incline Village for lunch, which was well deserved after the big hike back to the cars. Clara, Mike, Grace and I had one adults-only dinner out at Plumpjack Cafe at Squaw Valley.

Friday, we played putt-putt, which wasn’t the hit it through the windmill type, but rather real greens meandering through the neighborhood. There was a lot of slope to the greens, which resulted in some big scores. Some of the group stopped after 9 holes, but Elin, Nico, Lucas and I pressed on to finish 18. There was a great family festival going on, which kept the kids busy for a while. Mike, Grace and I left early to play real golf. The Martis Camp course is so beautiful and is in amazing condition (until we came along). Mike got some advice to stay out of the bunkers, which was sage. It didn’t help.

On Saturday, we had one last meal together and prepared to head home to the real world. The kids were excited to show us their fort, which was a legit lean-to. We were sad to leave after such a fun-filled week with our gracious hosts. Thank you, Moons, for another amazing vacation together.

Work Hiatus Golf in San Francisco and Las Vegas

For the first time ever, I took off a little time between jobs. By first time, I mean the first time when I voluntarily changed jobs vs. being laid off or unemployed. Somehow, I found myself quite busy during this time, as Grace gave me a big punch list of things to do around the house and for the family. Honestly, I didn’t knock it all out, but I did my best and made some progress. It also helped that I didn’t have a car to fix.

First, big shout out to my buddy Albert who took off several stealth days from work, including the first and last days of official time off to golf with me. We got in a round at Half Moon Bay on day 1 (Erich also joined that day) as well as a couple rounds at Harding Park in San Francisco. I also got in one solo round of contemplation during week one.

For the last hurrah, Eddie met me in Las Vegas for 5 days. I can’t tell you how relaxing it was relative to our normal itinerary, which usually involves break-of-dawn golf, pool with the kids, dinners, etc. (i.e., too tired to gamble). Aside from our morning tee times, we had no agenda. We got in four rounds of golf at Bear’s Best, Royal Links, Paiute Wolf and Coyote Springs. The weather was perfect for golf in the desert.

Each day we had lunch when we were done and dinner whenever we were hungry. We had great meals in the Encore/Wynn where we stayed and also ventured off the property to Carnevino (best lamb chops ever) and a romantic dinner outdoors at Mon Ami Gabi. We had some fun in between, but truthfully, we were in bed by 10pm on day one and got crushed on day three, also resulting in an early night. Although we see each other once and sometimes twice a year, we gathered that we haven’t traveled alone together in over two decades when he was single and still in medical school. It was QT with my ride or die.

Although I technically rolled right into a family vacation for Thanksgiving, my hiatus is all but over. I’m already having dreams about work. I’m very thankful for this time off, for the big pass Grace gave me, and for the time friends made for me.

I may never play golf again… (until ski season is over, that is).

3rd Annual End of Summer Airstream Trip: Utah and Malibu

Our Airstream adventures have been the highlight of our last couple summers, so it has been my intention to make it a ritual. I declared myself Captain of the trip, but the Admiral tried to take the RV trip off the summer agenda. The kids and I had a secret vote to reinstate it. Everything was still up in the air in the weeks leading up to the trip as the Admiral requested for the trip to be moved up because of work travel, which only allowed one day between our Michigan and RV trips. Right up until departure, Grace was suggesting Yosemite, Crater Lake, Tahoe again, not Vegas, not Utah, etc.

It. Is. Exhausting.

Eventually, everyone got on board, both literally and figuratively. This summer, I was determined to venture beyond our Northern California backyard as there’s so much of our country to see. My goal was to visit some national parks in southern Utah.

Our trip happened to coincide with the great eclipse of 2017, so the entire fleet of Airstreams was booked. I emailed Brian earlier this summer and he let me know the 25′ was available and that they had rebranded their company to “Go Silver.” We enjoyed the 27′ we rented last year, but we found out it wasn’t available because Elaine and Brian were living in it! We figured after the 20′ and 27′, perhaps the 25′ would be just right. It was a 2015 model and the biggest upgrades were the power awning and ducted HVAC, which was much quieter.

After returning from Michigan, it was a tight turn of laundry and packing, but we had the car loaded up on Wednesday on schedule to pick up the RV at 10am. The pick up time was what was actually limiting us on how far we could get on day one. Trying to get all the way to Utah would have meant not only a long day, but also a late arrival. All routes pointed to a stop in Las Vegas.

We made good time toward Las Vegas, but one thing I hadn’t measured in the past was our gas mileage. Our longest drives were to and from Tahoe and we always made it on one tank of gas. Not only was this our longest haul ever, but we were on the open road and moving quickly. I experienced first hand the exponential nature of the force of air resistance and could barely get 250 miles on a tank at cruising speed. With one quick stop for lunch and gas and another as we got closer to Vegas, we pulled into Las Vegas Oasis RV Resort right at dusk. The gilded lobby was a little over the top, but it was clean, had many amenities, was lined with palm trees, and was less than $24/day!

We spent only a few minutes getting hooked up before setting straight out for dinner at Allegro at the Wynn hotel. By the time we got back, the kids were ready for bed. The next morning, we only had time for brunch, which was back at the Wynn. It didn’t take us long to get underway for our short haul (2 1/2 hours) to Utah.

We stayed about 13 miles from the entrance to Zion National Park at the Zion River Resort. It was the nicest park at which we’ve stayed and we had a great corner lot that backed up to the river. After settling in, we went straight into town to rent gear for our first hike, which was through The Narrows. We each rented boots, neoprene socks and a walking stick. We had our first dinner in the RV and the kids enjoyed the pool before ending the night with a campfire and s’mores.

The key to hiking the narrows aside from having the right gear is to get an early start. The first shuttle is at 6:00am. We were not that aggressive, but we were waiting on one by about 7:20am. The advantages of an early start are to beat the crowds and also the heat. It’s always 10-15 degrees cooler in the narrows, so layers are necessary. After a 40 minute ride to the last stop on the shuttle, we were on the Riverside Walk trail, which is about a mile to the gateway to the Narrows. From there, it’s another mile and a half to Wall Street. We took several breaks and when we finally made it to Wall Street, we had lunch there before turning around. I was proud of the crew for making it that far without too much complaint (aside from being cold, which was understandable). It was much warmer as we emerged from The Narrows. Hopefully the kids will go back one day and go farther beyond Wall Street.

We had some down time that afternoon and earned a nice dinner out in town. The kids enjoyed Spiderman Homecoming earlier this month, so I thought it was time to get them caught up on the Avengers universe. There’s some different views on the order in which to watch the movies, but I downloaded about 10 movies for this trip, starting with “Captain America: The First Avenger.” We watched parts in the evenings and during breaks. Everyone was pretty wiped out after this first day of hiking.

The second day we had an even more ambitious day of hiking planned. Even though it didn’t require as much planning or equipment, I still wanted to get an early start to beat the heat. I read about the Angel’s Landing hike and saw some YouTube videos of the last half mile. I’m a pretty risk-loving person, but the prospects of death seemed a little too high to complete the hike. Scout Lookout is about 2 miles up the same trail and ascends 1,100 feet. That seemed like plenty for our crew, especially Lucas. It started out cool, but it quickly got hot, especially in the sun. Olivia was just cruising along, but Lucas did struggle a bit, so we took breaks often to rest and hydrate. It was a tough slog and Olivia and I went ahead for a bit and finally got the last steep ascent up “Walter’s Wiggles,” which are a series of switchbacks up to the landing. We waited for Lucas and Grace and when we saw them coming up, we went to the top where we waited for them there. Everyone had a snack and a rest before we took some photos. In general, the descent was easier, but Lucas was running out of gas, we were running out of water, and I was anxious to get to a cold beverage. I gave him a little assist on the way down, for which he was especially appreciative. Olivia and Lucas ended the hike with a short wade into the river to cool off.

We had a late checkout from the RV park, so we had lunch in town before heading back to pack up and start heading to our next destination, which was Bryce Canyon. It was only about a 2-hour drive to Bryce from Zion, which went through the park. We had dinner again in the RV and rested again after our big day of hiking.

During our only full day in Bryce Canyon, we took the shuttle from Ruby’s Inn RV Park to a few stops within the park. The kids were pretty hiked out at this point, so we got around by bus to the major view points. The rain (and light hail) seemed to follow us, so our visit was a little rushed. We had lunch at the lodge and once it started to really thunder and rain, we headed back for a leisurely afternoon. The only other thing I had planned was an ATV ride, which will have to wait until next time. I think we watched 2 1/2 Avengers movies that day. We had a nice dinner at Stone Hearth Grille before calling it a night.

The following morning, we were up early to head to our last destination: Malibu. It was about 9 hours total driving time, but took 11.5 with stops including lunch in Las Vegas at … you guessed it, the Wynn. This time, we pulled up to valet parking with the Airstream in tow and the valets had a chuckle. They were prepared for visitors like us and a runner took me to the “flat lot” and gave me a ride back to the hotel. We had lunch at Grace’s favorite, Wazuzu, which is on the Encore side where we usually stay. After a quick gelato stop, we were back on our way.

I’m not usually a big podcast guy, but I listened to Serial on one road trip to LA. On this trip, Malcolm Gladwell’s “Revisionist History” helped pass the time. Most of it was really interesting and the kids even listened here and there. It finished just as we got into California, so it was Spotify until we pulled into Malibu Beach RV Park around dusk. After a long day of travel, we had a really nice dinner at The Sunset Restaurant on Zuma Beach.

Tuesday morning, Grace’s parents drove out to Malibu to visit us and have breakfast together. They got a kick out of the Airstream and enjoyed the view. Despite living in LA for over a couple decades, they rarely made it to Malibu. We traded last year’s Marin Country Mart for the Malibu Country Mart this year and had a nice brunch at Marmalade Cafe. Afterwards, we tried to go to the beach across from the RV park, but playing frogger across PCH seemed deathly, so we drove back to Zuma Beach instead. The Sunset Restaurant was right there, so we enjoyed a light late lunch there. Back at the RV, the kids made up a game of interpretive dance where the themes were Disney and Star Wars. I won one round before fading into a coma. After some rest (i.e., more Avengers movies), we had a late dinner at Mastro’s Ocean Club, which was down on the PCH.

I’m glad I got up at sunrise on Tuesday to take some pictures because the marine layer was thick on Wednesday before we left. We went back to Marin Country Mart for a quick breakfast before packing up everything for good and heading north to return the Airstream in San Jose.

I say this often, but this was one of our best trips ever. We covered a lot of ground (pretty painlessly), visited a couple of our most beautiful national parks, and enjoyed a quiet part of LA on the ocean. Most importantly, we were all together, enjoying each other’s company (mostly) in very close quarters. I’m so glad Grace stayed the entire trip with us (she had planned to leave in the middle). I didn’t miss staying in a hotel at all and love how easy it is to visit spectacular places with the Airstream. I hope we continue our adventures for as long as the kids are interested. Next year, we’re going north, way north! Let me know if you’re ready to caravan.

Caution: 8 days on the road visiting national parks and the California coast results in over 200 photos.

Fall Vegas Trip

It’s been a while since our last Vegas trip (i.e., since last year), so the gang met up a couple weeks ago. Now that Ray is back on the team, we finally got to meet his awesome wife, Rakhee. My vote was for adults only, but then realized I don’t have a vote. Lucas has actually been asking when we were coming to Vegas, so I might have been taken down a notch if we left him at home.

I don’t recall coming this late in the Fall before. The whole point of Vegas for the kids is to hang out at the pool. However, it was barely warm in the sun and cold in the shade, so swimming was more of an endurance event than a leisure activity. I stayed out of the pool, bundled in layers. We basically had the whole thing to ourselves whenever we were out there. Lesson 1: November is too late.

I also don’t recall being so tired all the time in Vegas. I booked early golf with Ed so that we could be back in time for lunch and pool in the afternoon. Given the above, this wasn’t really necessary. Getting up at 5-something two mornings in a row is the last thing you want to do in Vegas unless you’re heading to Drai’s. I used to be able to do this no problem. Now, it’s a problem and I was in a bit of pain at dinner both nights. On Sunday, I went to bed at 10:45pm with the kids. Lesson 2: I’m too old to do it all and need to schedule an afternoon nap.

I also don’t recall not gambling at all in Vegas. I think Ed played for an hour on the trip and he tried to text me on Sunday when he got his second wind, but I was already sawing logs. Lesson 3: If we’re going on a family vacation to swim, it needs to be somewhere warm and a time of year when the sun sets after 4:30pm. Lucas and Olivia will not be returning to Las Vegas until they can: 1. golf and 2. gamble. Or, next year, because Grace says so. Also, Grace was sick and tired on this trip and got lots of R&R, so lessons 1, 2 and 3 did not apply to her.

Palm Springs, anyone?

Annual Las Vegas Trip

This past weekend we had our annual fall gathering in Las Vegas. There are always a lot of schedules to coorindate. Bobby, Eddie and I had been trying to schedule a guys golf trip all year. Bobby happened to be coming to California for work, so we tried to schedule around that. Fearing that we might not be able to do golf and Vegas, we decided to combine them into one trip. I told Grace I preferred adults only.

When we were leaving Michigan back in August, I told Jen I’d see her in a few weeks. Olivia picked up on this and said, “wait, what?”  I said we had an “adults only meeting.”  Lucas ironically has been saying he wanted to go to Las Vegas for a while (it had been almost 2 years afterall). When Grace finally told Olivia our “meeting” was in Las Vegas, she was upset.

Even after booking our flights, I sensed a lot of disappointment from all interested parties that the kids were not coming (including Aunt Jen). I caved and we changed all of the travel arrangements to accomodate them.

This happened to be a huge fight weekend and room rates reflected this at our usual Encore/Wynn. We decided to try the SLS, which just opened a few weeks ago. After the opening, however, Jen found terrible reviews online so we made a game-time call to switch back to the Encore anyway. It was the right decision.

The team this year included Ray, who was part of our original Vegas crew back in the early 2000s. He hadn’t been with us since 2003 and it was awesome to have him join us. Next time he’ll have to bring the whole family.

On Friday, we just hung out by the pool in the afternoon. The kids can play in the water forever. We had dinner at Society, which is casual and in the hotel. Grace has been raving about some ribeye she had there for years. I don’t know how it could have lived up to the hype, but she was pleased with it again.

On Saturday, Bobby, Eddie and I met at 6am to play golf at Paiute. It was our first time playing there. They have three courses and we played Wolf, which is the signature course. It was very challenging and beautiful. A member joined us, which was helpful for some local knowledge.

The rest of the gang hung out at an Encore cabana for the day and we joined them in the afternoon. Saturday night, all nine of us piled into the rental truck to head over to our usual Mon Ami Gabi. For the first time, we sat virtually outside with a great view of the Bellagio fountain show. Lucas was very excited.

On Sunday, the boys golfed at our usual Bear’s Best. It was another beautiful (but hot) day. Grace got a cabana on the Wynn side and everyone unanimously agreed the pool and the cabanas are much better over there. There’s a canal that connects two large pools, which was the perfect depth and width for the kids to play. Sunday evening we celebrated Eddie’s birthday early at Carnevino.

For the first time, everyone flew out on Monday morning, which gave us a full weekend together. It was a little brutal to get up at 4am, but we were doing our best to get the kids to school and adults to work. Everyone got a little more rest on our short flight home.

It was another great trip that is all too familiar from the hotel, restaurants, golf courses, dealers and pit bosses. That said, it never gets old. In the end, I’m glad the kids joined us because we all had a great time with them and they wore out Uncle Ray and Uncle Bobby. They better not get too used to the cabana lifestyle.

Fall Vegas Trip

The weekend of November 2nd, Jea, Eddie, Jen, Grace and I met up in Vegas for our (semi-?) annual meeting. We were so busy having fun, I didn’t take many pictures. Jea and Grace only stayed one night, but Jen, Ed and I powered through until Tuesday. Ed and I got in a couple of rounds of golf and Eddie had the round of his year at Royal Links. He was on fire.

Until next time!

Jon’s Bachelor Party

On Friday, September 13th, thirteen guys met up in Vegas for Jon’s bachelor party. Nelson had a friend at MGM who hooked us up at Mandalay Bay. He and Conway did a great job organizing all of the events and logistics throughout the weekend. Friday night, we had dinner at Kumi, where Chef Simon prepared an amazing omakase meal for our group.

On Saturday, we planned to have lunch together at the buffet. Nelson’s in-laws live in Henderson and came over to say hello. We ended up eating at Raffles, but didn’t expect Lourdes and Kevin to pick up the tab. That was very generous of them.

Our activity in the afternoon was paintball. I hadn’t played in about 20 years, but it turned out to be a ton of fun. I think everyone was surprised by the level of pain this “game” could inflict. It definitely instilled enough excitement and anxiety to keep you engaged. I’m pretty sure everyone, including myself, had various battle wounds.

Saturday dinner was at Fogo de Chao, where you could eat just about anything, as long as it was meat, meat, or meat. I did not eat a single vegetable. After dinner, I’m not sure exactly what everyone did, but Ky and I gave up at the tables around 4:30am and returned to the room, where he, Vaden and I discussed the relative merits of the Finnish educational system.

There were a great group of guys to celebrate with Jon, many of whom I had not met before. Thankfully, no one went too bananas…

Looking forward to seeing everyone on Esther and Jon’s big day.