picking up the pieces

It’s been a little slow around here, but hopefully I will have some time to return with a few photo posts soon……Wishing everyone a happy New Year!

xoxo

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The Balance Beam

Shan loves to do hand stands, it’s one of the many tricks left over from her youth as a competitive gymnast.  It’s been many years since she’d done her old beam routine but without any hesitation she jumped right up on the Venice Beach balance beam and got to it!  Me and many bystanders on the beach were very impressed with her skills.  She got some applause and an elderly man called it “just beautiful,” I agreed.

Of course there was just a bit of rust,

But don’t worry everybody, if you look closely she’s actually smiling during the fall.  After we dusted the sand off, she was good to go.

Costa Rica | Vol. 4 | The Wedding Finale!

Andy and Katie’s wedding at ‘Casa de Capitan’ was an incredible event and the finale of our trip. We had looked forward to the wedding day the whole week and we were happy to see that the event would be set in absolutely perfect weather. As the sun began to set we gathered on the beach and watched Katie, the gorgeous bride, come the down the aisle.

Sarah, Katrin, Vivian, Alexandra and Shan

Charlie and Me

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Anthony & Alex, Sarah and Brian

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The newly engaged.

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For the reception dinner, Shan and I were assigned to the “pantera” table.

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After the ceremony, the group enjoyed drinks and appetizers on the beach.  There could not have been a better setting.

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Fitz played a few a songs.

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The ceremony amongst the palms, the circular arrangement brought everybody close the action.

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The groom, very happy obviously.

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Mr. and (very soon to be) Mrs,

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And they’re married!

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First steps of many in a life together!

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Brian, Sarah, Katrin and Sten

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Shan, Kim, and Suzi

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The Father-Daughter dance was all time, a full, intense swing dance to Free Bird.  An instant classic.

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The Punta Coco clan, those who live together, party together and eat ‘Gallo Pinto’ together:

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This is scene looking towards the beach from the house and swimming pool, Marty, myself and Kevin.

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Flor de Cana a local rum,

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Dinner was first class, also first class were the “Shot-skis,” here the Curtis’s give a lesson in teamwork.

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Andy’s brother Erik, delivered a great speech.

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Some ‘Shot-ski’ races.

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The happy newlyweds.

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At midnight, Katie surprised Andy (and all of us) with a firework show! We were blown away!

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I really like the shot on the right here, it’s the Grand Finale on 20 second exposure hand held.  What you’re seeing on the bottom is the tent illuminated by the fireworks and framed by palm trees on both sides, quite an experience!

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Congratulations to the new Mr. and Mrs. Curtis!!!

Costa Rica | Vol. 3 | Santa Teresa

The ride from Manuel Antonio to Santa Teresa is a long one but very pretty and hugs the coastline the whole way.  We passed some very pretty towns including Jaco which stands out a bit in Costa Rica due to its few high rise buildings.  One ugly town we had to pass through was Puntareraus, the town where the ferry departed from.  We made our way through Puntareraus as quickly as we could and without incident that is until our last turn before boarding the ferry.  Standing in the middle of the road with his hand up was a weird looking dude and we had nowhere to go so we had to stop.  With the guy now standing on the running board right next to me, I gassed it a bit and he jumped off.  It was kind of a crazy experience and none of us were sure what he was after, we think he wanted to help us find the ferry and get a tip.  We knew the direction so he was just a hindrance.

With that passed us, we boarded the ferry for the first time.  The whole process stumped us initially, the tickets are sold out of store across the street. We boarded the ferry and were on our way. The boat had a full snack bar and even karaoke!! One Costa Rican sang the whole time and nobody had a problem with it because he pretty much killed it.  The four of us ate a churro, a taquito, and a beer.  About an hour later, we arrived in Paquera.

Once on the other side of the peninsula, we started our drive towards Playa Santa Teresa.  We heard the roads were bad, but we had NO idea.  The procession of cars that left ferry left me in the middle of the pack so I had to tackle the road at the same speed as the locals who had memorized the pattern of potholes.  This left me at a serious disadvantage.  Their line swerved on the left side of the road and included the shoulders on both the right and left side of the road. Flying down a road that was 40% pothole at 40-60kms per hours was definitely an experience.  It was nuts!

Finally, we arrived in Santa Teresa to find a big group of our friends having lunner at Burger Rancho.  Everybody literally jumped on our Mitsu’s running boards and bumpers as we drove a short distance down the road to where we’d spend the next week, Punta Coco.

“Punta Coco” was a gathering of jungle casitas (jung-alows) in the midst of dense trees, right on the beach.  The property came with a native family of caretakers who protected us and cooked us “Gallo Pinto” breakfast.

Here is the sign that marked our entrance, it was doubly important.  The sign was a marker for tourists as well as for “Rocko” one of the property’s dogs who would hang at the local bars into the early morning hours.

Looking north-west-ish from under the Punta Coco sign. “Super Ronny” is pictured, this is where we picked up water, beer and other snacks on a daily basis. This dirt road is the only road through town, so you can imagine how dusty it can get during peak hours!

Katrin, Kim and Alexandra hanging in our second story room during our first night in the jungalows.

Chris and Shannon enjoying a drink before we went out for a family dinner at “El Pulpo”.  El Pulpo served some of the best pizza we’ve had anywhere.  Shan has even vowed to learn to make pizza as good as El Pulpo’s because she liked it so much!  The chef/owner was European (and he had a really sweet sheep dog too).

Poosman and Toneman

From right to left, me, AC, Sten, Chris and Jaime (led the Costa Rican Pacific league with 17 goals in the summer of ’09, and great guy, we gave him a Laker’s shirt and even though he didn’t speak a word of English he fit right in).

Aside from surfing and lounging on the deserted beaches, Santa Teresa offers many opportunities for adventure.  On one of the days, about a dozen of us rented quads and headed south east-ish towards Montezuma to see one of the many waterfalls.  Quads are the way to do this as it provides a chance to ride on the back-country roads through beautiful farmland with several fun water crossings.

We sped along on this dirt road until we hit our first hold up.

Costa Rican road block!

These bulls were not happy!  The black one was scrubbing his front feet just like the cartoons so we held off and let them pass.  Fortunately no one got horned. Thanks to Fitz the photog for getting this picture of me and Shan participating in a stare down with “el torro negro”.

Soon after this bull encounter, I saw something move and before I had a chance to stop I ran over about a 4-5 ft snake.  It was red and after we hit it, it scurried very quickly into the green. I’m glad we didn’t kill it. The road paid off with this great waterfall.  We swam in the pool and did some jumps.  Fitz grabbed these shots with our Canon (underwater camera), kudos for the timing the second one.

Shan grabbed these great shots as the sun set on Punta Coco while I was out surfing.  Her first attempts with our ND filter and I’d say she did an ok job!  The fog is actually waves moving water while the shutter remains open. Nice job Shan!

Kim and Chris enjoying the view from Andy and Katie’s rehearsal dinner at Brisas Del Mar.  Incredible food and an even better view! Everybody was happy that the taxi driver didn’t kill us on the way up.  It was a close call as the driveway feels like 45 degree hill and at the very top he pitched his ten passenger van sideways and way off camber.

Early morning from Punta Coco, a few hundred yards down the way was where we surfed each day.

Alex and AC were newly engaged just before the trip so it added to the fun of traveling with them.

Really fun waves the whole week, Stenner.

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Katrin was getting great waves the whole week, here is one.

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Kim at our pool, where we hung out each day.

Here is one of my favorite shots of the week, Shan grabbed this after one of our afternoon sessions.

Andy and Katie’s wedding day came on a gorgeous day.  Everybody was ready to go and the cab was waiting but Sten wasn’t ready yet so it gave Shan and I some time to mess around and take some shots of each other.  I’m a lucky guy!

Shannon getting in touch with her inner-self.

The last sunset before the wedding from our pool at Punta Coco.

Stay tuned for wedding shots and more!

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Costa Rica | Vol. 2 | Manuel Antonio

[Ryan’s thoughts are in italics]

After a couple of nights in Arenal, we awoke early and packed up the car for our long trek to Manuel Antonio. We followed our trusty GPS route and passed through several small towns – all of which were extraordinarily bustling due to election day.  It was the red and white party versus the green and white party and the towns people proudly flew flags and wore their respective colors.  It was VERY cool to wear your parties flag attached to the hood (think Dukes of Hazzard – but on the hood not the roof).  Some towns were comfortable with good roads, some towns were very uncomfortable with terrible winding roads.  With surfboards on the roof, maps out, cameras and sunglasses, we screamed “TOURISTS!! RIGHT HERE IN THIS CAR”.  After passing through San Ramon (about 100 km or 2 hours from Arenal), we headed through the windiest mountain roads for another hour, we passed a big road block (not really considering why would a road block be right there) and right then the road turned into a glorious well paved wide and straight HIGHWAY! A highway! Yes! We pinned our diesel and were flying!

For only about four minutes, then we saw this (below).  A massive mudslide that covered the road with about 30ft of dirt and rocks and went on for hundreds of yards.  The road that we had just spent an hour on working our way through the mountains was now closed!  The boys went to check to see if we could just drive over it (there was no way in hell but we checked it out anyway) as the girls stayed in the car and consulted the maps.  Just out of the picture beyond the dirt we a saw a lone guy doing something weird which sealed the deal, we hopped in the car and turned around.  We had to find another way. Thankfully, the girls found that we only needed to back-track 10kms and we could catch Highway 3.

Even with three savvy navigators and a courageous driver, we were still unsure of our chosen direction.  That is until  we saw a tour bus with “Manuel Antonio” on the back. As we passed the bus, we joked, “See ya later Fitz & Kristin” knowing they were going to be in Manuel Anontio via bus that day as well.  Later on that night we found out that Fitz & Kristin were in fact actually on the bus!  Feeling at ease, we turned back on the iPhone music (we forgot the AUX cord, so all music was played through the iPhone speakers!) and cruised through Jaco (below) and arrived at Manuel Antonio many many hours after we left Arenal.

After arriving at The Suu Hotel, we flipped a coin for rooms and headed to the pool.

The newly engaged bride-to-be catching up on the latest wedding trends!

That night, Charlie, Vivian, Kristin, and Fitz came over for drinks and some good ol’ fun!  We all weighed in on Costa Rican politics and wondered who had won the day’s election.

Ryan and I brought just about every charger, cord, back-up cord you could think of, except for the AUX cord to play our iPod through the stereo. We even brought the old school tape adapter in case the car had a tape player.

Ryan, being the genius MacGyver, decided that if we sacrificed a pair of headphones and the tape adapter, he could splice the cords together and make an AUX cord. After 30 minutes into this process, he realized that the headphone cord and tape adapter had different configurations and this wasn’t going to work (did you know that inside ipod headphones there are four cords wrapped into one? Now you do!). Fast-forward to our evening dance party (with music coming out of an iPhone), I realized that our stereo had a tape player and that tape adapter Ryan demolished 3 hours prior would have worked PERFECTLY!

Once I relayed this information about the tape adapter, Ryan began his new quest — to repair the once working tape adapter!  Let’s just say he succeeded and we had music coming of real speakers for the first time!  (Stay tuned for the video which we will post in the coming days, aaaarrrrgggh)

After a fun night, we woke up early and headed to Costa Verde Hotel to meet up with Charlie, Vivian, Fitz, and Kristin for breakfast.  This is the view of the north facing side Manuel Antonio National Park from the Costa Verde Hotel.

Here is Ryan’s first order of ‘Gallo Pinto’ – the traditional Costa Rican breakfast. Little did we know that we would be eating this for the next 7 straight days.

While at breakfast, someone spotted this sloth about 10 feet away in the trees! I was creeped out at first, but I guess they are kind of cute, in a creepy-cute kind of way.  Ryan took both these pictures of this guy, while I was busy videoing!  This sloth’s name was Geoff which many tourists mess up by pronouncing “J-eff”, but it is in fact pronounced “Gee-off”.   A sloth never needs a back scratcher.

While we were all staring at the sloth, this Central American Squirrel Monkey, the smallest of the Costa Rican monkey species, made an appearance.

After the breakfast jungle adventure, we headed back to our room for a complimentary balcony massage courtesy of Melissa at Tropical Sun Villas!!!!

I love this picture Ryan took using our Tokina 12-24mm with our new polarizer!

Even Ryan got convinced on the massages!  Above is Cynthia working it out, she is an angel sent from god and this is what heaven probably looks like.

We originally planned to go to Manuel Antonio National Park on Monday, but we learned that the park is closed on Mondays.  Since Tuesday was our last day in Manuel Antonio, we decided to get up early, quickly check out the park before heading to Puntarenas to catch the ferry.  In Costa Rica as a sign of masculinity, men wear purses and stand looking toward the sky with their hands on their hips.   Below is a picture of AC and I demonstrating.

The beach was definitely one of the best things about the park.  It is completely isolated and offers beautiful views.  This crab was only one of hundreds we saw on the beach!

These White-headed Capuchin monkeys were causing a ruckus as they scoured through the trash cans in the park – specifically the trash cans that had monkey pictures on them.  I’m sure saying to put your trash in the can so the monkeys don’t eat it!  Guess those didn’t work too well!

Here is a picture of the Costa Rican trash cans. These metal containers are planted at the end of driveways and people put their trash bags in here for pick-up! Something a little different than here in America.

After two-nights and countless wildlife spottings in Manuel Antonio it was off to Santa Teresa next!

Costa Rica | Vol. 1 | Arenal

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We arrived at San Jose Airport on Friday and picked up our rental car from Dollar and headed towards Arenal.  We missed our first two exits even though we had GPS and three co-drivers.  One reason why it took three hours to to only go ~100kms.  We drove through a lot of countrysides and a few cities including San Ramon which had a pretty impressive church. Once we gained some elevation the roads became more and more twisty, we went from sun to clouds.  I was shocked by the size of the trucks that drove these narrow roads including the one way bridges.  On the road towards La Fortuna  we saw a bunch of waterfalls and fast moving rivers.

We grabbed lunch in La Fortuna at Las Brisitas and were pumped to try the local cuisine.  The ‘mexican’ food here was good, nothing out of the ordinary other than nacho cheese was substituted.  The highlight of lunch was finally reaching our destination and of course a cold Imperial beer.

We paid for lunch and headed about fifteen minutes up the road to our hotel where we’d spend the next couple of nights.  At Tabacon resort we were greeted with a glass of delicious fruit juice and were pumped to see our room had a great view of the volcano. This place was NICE!  Alex and AC came over for a cocktail and we caught a shuttle across the road to the hot springs.

My expectations for the hot springs were not too high, I was expecting jacuzzi size pools and lots of crowds with a sulfur stench.  Well I was wrong, Tabacon has hot springs of a whole other kind. It is an adult paradise.  Rivers of jacuzzi water flow through the jungle and land in lava sand bottomed pools where steam rises into the romantic light. Above the steam and exotic trees we enjoyed a star filled sky.  Sitting in the jungle, while hot water rushed around me with a cold beer was a new experience.  It was only night one, we were HAPPY campers!

The next morning was early and we headed up the hill towards our next adventure, zip-lining with SkyTrek tours.  A couple of kilometers past Tabacon, we left the paved road and headed into the tropical forest.  The plan worked out and we were the first up and got to do the tour with only us four.  This afforded us time to take in each view and mess around with our video cameras, Gustavo and Andres (our tour guides) had lots to share about the wildlife and the parasitic jungle where vines, trees and all other plants fight for sunlight.

Finally, it was time to zip!

We all howled with excitement on each line and for good reason, some of them were hundreds of feet above the jungle over half a mile long and you travel over 50mph!  Such a blast!

To refuel for the hot springs, we had dinner at Que Rico in La Fortuna and shared great pizza and a couple of beers.  Then it was on the main course, another night in the hot springs!  To top it off, we ran into Brent and Suzi and relaxed till they finally kicked us out.  Hours melt away in the hot springs at Tabacon.

We weren’t ready to leave, but next up was Manual Antonio.  Please stay tuned.

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Let the Good Times Roll! Happy Birthday Charlie!

It has been a big month for our buddy Charlie, awesome new job, big move to San Diego, his super beautiful girlfriend said “YES” and is going to marry him!…

and…

…to top it off…

…she and his cousin threw him an awesome SURPRISE PARTY!  He is on a roll! Shan and I are so happy for both Vivian and Chuck, they couldn’t be better people…Congratulations!!!

Kudos to Annie, Vivian and Cafe Bugaloo for putting together a great night!

To view a small slide show click here.

Captured sunbather – Coolest picture I’ve seen all day

PHOTO BY: Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times

June 22, 1978: Marine Reservists during a training amphibious landing at Coronado capture one spectator — a Navy specialist getting some rays after planting dummy explosives.
More than 700 Leatherneck Reservists from eight states from came ashore during their annual two-week training. They spent a full week in amphibious training before the simulated landing.
Five Marine landing photos by Los Angeles Times staff photographer Robert Lachman were published the next day. Four photos were used on an inside page and the other on Page One.

1st Anniversary Road Trip – Day 1 – Havasupai Point, Grand Canyon AZ

To celebrate our first anniversary Shan and I decided to visit the Grand Canyon and Utah over Labor day weekend.  From Los Angeles we planned to go straight to Havasupai Point, as rather shockingly, neither of us had ever been to the Grand Canyon.   The long drive went by quickly because we were blown away by the areas beauty.

Off highway 180 before entering the Grand Canyon national park, we left the highway at FS road 328.  It was smooth sailing till we got to the closed gate  marking Havasupai reservation land.  The guard shack was pretty creepy, burned out mattresses, empty bottles, cattle skulls, lots of trash and an atv on blocks with no wheels.  Fortunately nobody was there to take our $25 so we continued on, the road entered a  beautiful meadow and we saw cattle and even a wild horse.  We made a right on Prairie wash road the landscape changed to forest and the road narrowed a bit.

At this point we hadn’t gotten a glimpse of the Grand Canyon and we were getting antsy.  I didn’t plan for the dirt roads to last 2 hours.  Our  patience paid off big time, we reached Havasupai Point and the view of the Grand Canyon was spectacular! Wow, what a place! To my surprise we had the whole place to ourselves, in fact we didn’t see anybody else the whole road in, the whole time we were there or the road out!

We snapped some pictures of the sunset and Shan whipped up some tasty jambalaya.  This place seemed incredibly quiet, I remember how loud the airplanes were thousands of feet above, before the crickets started it was the only audible sound.  Dusk, quickly became a black night lit by countless stars which were equally impressive when compared to the views from the cliff.  Neither one of us were used to the remote and isolated feeling of this place so it was a bit creepy.  We awoke just before 6am for the sunrise, snapped some pics, packed up with the intent of stopping by the Grand Canyon NP and heading to Toroweap.  Although, night 1 was a bit more adventure than we bargained for it was a great start to the trip!

Surprise Dodger Date Night!

My wife is awesome!

She recently surprised me with Dodger tickets for no other reason than being nice.  Being married definitely has it’s perks!

The Dodgers beat the Mets 2-0 behind a Matt Kemp home run in an exciting game (keep in mind, this was a few weeks back before they gave away all hopes of making the playoffs).

To top things off, Shan got her first foul ball in a manner I’m not sure ever will be duplicated.  The ball came in at  a trajectory to our left and the crowd all moved that direction, at the last second it deflected off the 2nd deck and shot directly down into her beer! Which was in the cup holder! The most amazing part is that beer splashed everybody around, except for Shan! Amazing!  Great night on the town and a souvenir, I’m a lucky guy!

Shan & the Dandelion

Shan and I hadn’t been to Santa Barbara since our engagement so we were excited to visit. This time we had a great reason to celebrate! One of our best buds, Mike found out he passed the Bar exam so we rushed up the 101 to congratulate him personally.   We had a dinner on State Street and stayed out late enjoying our old favorite bars, I love that place.  Huge dinner, lots of a drinks, a few bars and a slice of pizza after last call it was a great night!  During a walk around town and I was able to get this shot of Shan in a moment of observance, a split second before the inevitable.

Brooks & Dunn at Club Nokia

Last night Shan and I saw what was without a doubt the  best concert I’ve ever seen!

Brooks & Dunn played in what may have been their last performance ever in California.  They sung a full set of songs and sounded incredible from start to finish.  Close quarters, small headcount and their contagious energy made for an encapsulating atmosphere.  Brooks & Dunn’s set mixed their upbeat songs with their emotional ones and they involved the crowd the whole time.  The emotional highlight of the night was during “Only in America” when three uniformed soldiers marched out and stood facing the crowd at the front edge of stage.  For the duration of the song they stood still and tall saluting the crowd and then during the last  chorus, red, white and blue streamers exploded and covered all the onlookers.

The event was hosted by Toyota and held at Club Nokia at LA Live in Los Angeles as an add on to their farewell tour. The venue only seats about 2,000 people was an intimate place to see such a renowned band.  Toyota gave free tickets to owners who responded back to an email, and provided free food and drinks to all.  My 4runner has been perfect so this was gravy, thanks Toyota! Click here for a slideshow.

We were lucky enough to get a bunch great pictures, to view them bigger and better please click here.

Where the rubber hits the road

In eighth grade I discovered blue Kryptonic skateboard wheels and I’ve been happily rolling around on them ever since.  I remember buying my first set from E.T. Surfboards in Hermosa Beach, CA.  To be honest, I don’t think I’ve been loyal to any one product for longer. Soft, but not too soft, big, but too big and just the right grippiness for my mix of carving and powerslides.

Whether I’m doing hill section runs, bouncing around UCSB’s campus or schlepping myself from my parking garage to my downtown LA highrise, these wheels have never let me down.  

Every now and then throughout history…

…a genius creates something that is timeless.

Something that is so indisputably timeless and cool that anybody who has ever experienced [said timeless item] has a story of hilarious and gleeful admiration. And the story follows this pattern.

{enthusiastic & loud voice} “No No No….MY [said timeless item]…was terrible it had [insert long list of faults] and it couldn’t [insert long list of limitations] but it had more personality in its [insert small component] than my [insert said timeless item’s replacement] whole being. Every single time it would [story detailing one of the faults that is both unbelievable and hilarious.]

{somber & much quieter voice} One of the biggest mistakes I ever made was [selling said timeless item]. If I could do it all over it again, I would have saved [said timeless item], perhaps restored it. I would have cherished it to this day, man was I stupid for getting rid of [said timeless and genius item].

So here is my story of my timeless and genius possession:

No No No….MY tan ’72 Volkswagen Squareback was terrible it had a starter that wouldn’t work for months, a passenger window that wouldn’t roll down and no CD player. It couldn’t even ride at freeway speeds because the brakes required pumping to stop at any speeds over 40 mph and the wheel bearings were shot so if my speed ever broke 50 mph the “wobble of death” would scare me and my passengers “to death.” That car had more personality in its soft leather shift knob than my 4runner’s whole being. Every single time I had to turn left into oncoming traffic I had to use a hand signal because the front blinker was gone. That’s right, just a hole in the body where the blinker once was…it was cool though, that’s where I stashed my keys when I went surfing.

One of the biggest mistakes I ever made was selling that car for $600 bucks. Even though I didn’t need a car to attend UCSB, if I could do it all over it again, I would have saved my squareback and fixed it’s ailments and maybe even restored it. I would have cherished it to this day, man was I stupid for getting rid of VW.

I know this isn’t a Squareback, but equally cool, the Bug that reminded of my timeless and genius car.

Marco Polo Softball

Shan and I play co-ed softball once a week on a team with our closest friends, it’s something that I look forward to every week.  Between the mens league and the coed I am basically playing all year round.  This years team in a mix of newcomers and veterans and it’s a blast.  Each week we get better and better.  Last game we lost a tough one coming back from a nine deficit only to lose by two runs…and get this…we had the bases loaded and two out when the game ended.  (The pictures below are from last week’s loss.)

Coming off such a tough loss tonight we came out with great energy and had one of the best all-around games in Marco history.  We won handily and everybody contributed with all around strong defense and timely hitting.  Highlights of the game included strong outfield play by Andy, nice defense by Katie and 3 timely RBIs by our girl batters. As manager, I was proud. –Can’t wait for next week MARCO!

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Sushi Night!

As a newly married couple we do adult things like go out with other married folks and couples.  Last Friday was a good example, we started the night over at Chris & Kim’s where they hosted a ridiculous spread of hors d’oeuvres, wine and beer.

Friends, great food and the HBO Larry Bird and Magic Johnson special made it near impossible to make our 9pm sushi reservation (we were 30 minutes late).   Did you know that Magic and Larry played on the USA national team before they became NBA stars?  I also didn’t realize what Larry Bird dealt with in terms of back pain, what a warrior!

Unfortunately, it’s almost never that we get to hang with our besties from Santa Barbara, and enjoy a night out. We indulged on two sushi super boats, each with about 100 pieces of sushi.  The night ended where it started, with an adult sleepover.  We all like fun.

5 dangerous things all kids should do!!

I stumbled across this speech and it’s great!

Kids today seem to be WAY to sheltered and it’s too their own detriment.  How could a man ever be able to work on a car, do a home project, start a campfire if they aren’t allowed to work with tools as a boy?  The answer is simple, they won’t be able too.

I thank my parents for exposing me to four of the five (as yes, I type this with ten fingers and see the screen with two eyes).   I’ll have to talk to them about the fifth.

The Ericson Wedding in Austria!

I had the honor of being a groomsman in Sten and Katrin’s wedding.  To add to the excitement, the event took place in Going, Austria, in January!

Unfortunately, Shan and I had used up most (ok, all) of our vacation time on our own wedding and honeymoon which meant we couldn’t plan a proper European vacation.  This caused the trip to be a total whirlwind for me, one day traveling from LAX to Munich and one day back, and in between three and of half days of action.  It was quite a way to visit Europe for the first time!

It took about 20 hours of flights, delays and layovers to get to Munich, from there it was an hour an forty five minute train ride and forty minute taxi ride to get to the town of Going.  My taxi driver didn’t know the address and didn’t speak English so we were lost.  We turned down and unmarked alley and what did we see?! My friends! A group of Californians walking to the local market in Austria! Got to love the town of Going, for too many reasons to list actually but the small town feel was incredible.

This was the view looking off the back balcony upon my arrival.

A quick chat with Ligget and a beer later, it was time for Sten and Katrin’s rehearsal dinner.  It was hosted in an incredible chateu-like hotel, I really dug all the unfinished wood. I was blown away by the talents of local carpenters.  The included drinks and the best beef I’ve ever eaten, the speeches were heartfelt and memorable.  Catching up with friends was a blast.

The next day we took a snow hike and saw some of the best views of my life.  The path was covered in fresh snow so the whole hike we didn’t see any footprints.  It was the best!

Then came the big day! It was time to get ready with groomsman.  It was just a few months prior that the roles were reversed and Sten was one of my groomsman in my wedding so I knew exactly what was going through his mind.  We shared a few stories and threw on the coats and ties (the less manly groomsman also wore long underwear as it was ~zero degrees that day).

Sten and a particularly special groomsman, his father.

The wedding was incredible, unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me.  It was at town of Going’s church right in the middle of the city.  The pictures below are from the town of Kitzbuhel were the reception was held in a very posh hotel.  Congratulations to the Ericson’s, your wedding was awesome!!

I now have the desire to go back, there was so much I didn’t see and do, and this time Shan is coming with me!

New Years Eve 2010 – Big Bear

We had the pleasure of spending New Years with SEVERAL of our closest friends in Big Bear, CA.  Alexandra, Anthony, Chuck, Vivian, Chris, Kim and an awesome group of Alexandra’s bros friends contributed to a great weekend.  Snowboarding, eating pizza, playing Balderdash, jacuzziing, drinking, singing and dancing were a perfect way to bring in 2010! Lots of great pictures can be seen here, below are just a few of my favorites.

New Years eve isn’t right without a proper sparkler burning, pot banging exhibition.

Christmas Fireworks!

One of our favorite festivities is the Manhattan Beach Christmas fireworks, in fact it was our first real dates way back in 2003!  This year, we started the night out at a Christmas party with my sister, Taylor and Alana at their strand house.  From their we walked a bit closer to the pier and had a great time watching with a bunch of friends.  It was a great show, Merry Christmas!

Manhattan Beach Pier

31/365 - Fireworks

Us ball

Check out our sideshow here, and if you want to download a particular shot, try here.

A better time…

I love checking out pictures of the southbay in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, I wish I had a chance to experience this place before it became so populated and developed.  Life magazine has a huge photo library that is search able, there are endless interesting pictures to look at.

Here are a couple that I found today, “Belly-sliding” is something I’ve never seen or heard of.

The Belly Slide Photo

I’m a big a fan of the head-first slide, so rest assured, I’m bringing it back.