Final Harvest

Today’s harvest will probably be the last until we get early summer tomatoes ( if any). It was probably the best year yet. I wish I know what I did different this year; but I don’t. The great weather and mild winter probably had something to do with it.

Spring is also bringing us herb blooms. 

I am also liking how healthy this lime bush looks. Perhaps I won’t kill all the citrus?


Next up is to see if the blueberry bushes will bring us anything this year. We will see.
For now here is a cat picture….



Gaudí is Good

If you are not familiar with architect Antoni Gaudí then you are missing out. His work under the Modernisme is some of the most unique that you will ever see. The city of Barcelona is a showcase for his work.

Lampposts around Barcelona

Casa Batlló

La Pedrera (Casa Mila)
We were able to tour the inside of La Pedrera or Casa Mila, an apartment building in Barcelona.

One of the most impressive examples of Gaudi’s work is the still unfinished  la Sagrada Família. There really is nothing else like it in the world. Unfortunately the only day we were able to see it, it was closed for some special event. One day I will return to see the inside and maybe it will be complete then.

We both got sick at the end of the trip (nasty stomach virus) so we never made it to Park Güell. I have many reasons to return to Barcelona sometime in the future.

Crossing the running threshold

This past week I believe I have crossed a threshold as a runner. Up until this point every race had been a challenge, including most of the 5ks. Every race I have entered required a good amount of training preparation.  My last big race was the wine and dine in November. I trained pretty hard for that and was still disappointed that I didn’t beat my time. However for the first time I was able to enjoy food and alcoholic beverages post race without getting a massive headache.
Since that race my training has been sporadic. Some weeks I had no runs at all; others only 1-2 times a week. I even had a long break of no running while we were traveling through India. I needed motivation, I needed a race on the schedule.
One distance race that I like to do was coming up soon. I haven’t trained seriously for it but I really wanted to sign up. I decided one cool Florida morning the week before that if I could complete 6 miles (run/walk) that I would sign up for the Winter Park Road Race Distance Dare (10K plus 2 miles). I went about on my run and even finished it with a sprint at the end to beat someone running on the trail with a heavy backpack (I always feel bad when old people or people with heavy packs pass me). Because I completed this long run, I decided to sign up and I did.
Race week I did one short training run, played volleyball, and rode my bike one day. I didn’t want to overdo it pre-race but I also wanted to keep up my fitness level.
Race day I felt ok. I sort of regretted signing up since my training was so sparse. I started the 2 mile race. Pushed myself hard so I could complete in time for the next race to start.
Race 1 was done so I immediately traveled up to the start line again. I ran into my friends who were getting ready to start the 10k. They were smart enough to only sign up for one race for the day.
The race started and I tried jogging with some of my friends for a bit but I let them go since I could never maintain their pace.
Later in the first mile another two friends caught up to me. I chatted with them a bit but then they decided to hold back a bit so I carried on by myself. The first 5K was good. I felt mostly ok during the 3 miles. It was after the 5K mark that I started to lose my wind and did much more walking breaks.
This was another race where I had to pee the entire race but luckily I ran into a row of porta potties near a lake around mile 4.5. After a quick bathroom break I was on to the finish.
I finished and picked up my two metals. I attempted to fully hydrate afterwards. I thought I was hydrated and decided to try a free post race beer (New Belgium Brewing!!!) – that proved to be a big mistake since I had terrible tension headache/migraine the rest of the day. I should have learned my lesson by now – I am not one of those people who gets to partake in alcohol post race.
The part of the story I wanted to note is how I have crossed a threshold as a runner. My body now has muscle memory. I can complete (albeit slowly) distance races with very little training now. I never thought I would get to this point. I now have hope that I can speed up some day. With time and training I will eventually see improvement; I just need to put in the work.

Pre-race salmon

Two medals

Really nice wine glass as gift

Delos

Close by to the party island of Mykonos is the spiritual island of Delos. We were able to take a day trip there.
Delos is famous for being the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. It was for a long time important for both being a religious center and for commerce (in part because of slave trade). Now it just serves as good reminder of a part of Greek history.

Stairway to highest point on Island.

It is customary to stack stones at the top.

New Orleans Wedding

New Orleans is a wonderful city. I used to get my fix almost yearly when I would visit for Jazz Fest. Now it seems hard to fit in a Jazz Fest trip with all my other travel plans. My last visits have been limited to visiting my friend who lives close by the city and to attend a New Orleans wedding.

After a romantic proposal in the city, my friends S1 and S2 decided to get married there. It was a dream of S2 to get married in the beautiful Saint Louis Cathedral. Luckily there were both Catholic and able to do so.

We started the trip with some fun on the town. We hung out on Bourbon Street. Somehow I always seem to end up there even though those bars are not my favorite and I really want to make it down to Frenchman Street someday.
The night is started at Pat O’Briens and hurricanes must be had with good friends.

We then headed down to a couple dance clubs. One of which a couple in the group got to ride a mechanical bull (sorry no good pictures of this). The other was with this dude who hit on everything and would not leave anyone alone.

We got to do some of the normal tourist things on this trip. A walk around the French quarter exposed many talented street musicians.

We were also there close to the superbowl the year New Orleans Saints made it for the first time. There was a wonderful street parade to commemorate it. I have pictures from that in a separate post.

The main event was the wedding at Saint Louis Cathedral. The ceremony was beautiful. It was charming to have an old school Catholic priest to tell them that good Catholics should have many children.

The surprise for all the quests to participate in a Second Line immediately following the ceremony.

It was a cold January day so the second line was cut short and brought indoors to continue the party.

Following the second line party, we continued into the ballroom in the Bourbon Orleans Hotel to finish the reception.

So much fun the reception was that I forgot to take some good pictures. But trust me it was a blast.

The next day we once more visited our new favorite breakfast place The Old Coffee Pot.

Of course I do not make a trip to New Orleans without partaking in a bloody mary. This beautiful one was from Stanley Restaurant in Jackson square. New Orleans is one of the few places that utilizes the green bean as part of the bloody mary. Garnishes really make the mary.

Some other sightseeing goodies….

Also on the trip Carlos and I did a voodoo and cemetery tour, but I will save that for another post later.

Love New Orleans!!!

Foz Iguazu

During our trip to Brazil we made a stop to the amazing Iguazú Falls. The water from the falls flows into the Iguazu river which at some point touches Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay in the same place.

We stayed at the economical and clean Paudimar Hostel that had private rooms. The hostel was able to arrange a tour for us that included a raft ride into the river to get a great view of the falls. Additionally we got to view the falls from both the Argentinian and Brazilian sides.

While viewing the falls we met up with a cool group of fellow travelers and spent most of the day viewing with our new friends.

 
The falls are contained within a park and we were able to view some local wildlife as well.
 

 

And some very brave butterflies.

The best part is when the sun hit the falls just right and produced some beautiful rainbows.

The falls were a sight to remember. If you get a chance, you must visit.