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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Three Passions...

Looks like it's my turn to blog. As the title states, I have three passions in life. Passion #1- my wife, Anna. She makes everything possible and worthwhile and gives me an energy from within that even she could never realize. I could go on and on and write a book about Anna, but even that wouldn't be enough to explain why she tops the "passion list".

Passion #2- surfing. It's an indescribable feeling that can't be explained. Riding down the long line of a nice-sized, glassy wave is euphoric. I'm still nursing a tweaked back from about 2-months ago. I gave surfing a shot last night for the 1st time in a good while (due to my back problems) and made it through OK for a fun little 45-minute session. Anna and I are going to Costa Rica for a wedding in a couple of weeks, and I'm doing all I can to be ready to surf there (one of the best spots in the world for good surf). I hope my back holds out.

That leaves us with passion #3- cars and bikes. I have my dad and brother to thank for that. As a kid, Dad and I spent many a weekend traveling from dealer to dealer, place to place, in search of good vehicles for good deals. For Dad, it didn't really matter what kind of car, truck, or bike he might find on any given day. All that mattered was if he could find something he could talk the owner into selling him for WAY below wholesale value. If a great deal was to be had, he was sure to find it. That didn't always mean what he brought home would be approved by the family. Some we liked, others we didn't. Especially that blue Pontiac Catalina. That was one of those cars you ducked your head so your friends wouldn't see you in. Whether we liked 'em or not, Dad still brought 'em home. I got bit by the "cool car" bug from my brother, Talan. From his first car, a classic '71 Monte Carlo, that went from one of the ugliest shades of gold/yellow to (I believe, candy apple red for a day or two?) to a cool shade of light/electric blue. Just like a mullet, little wheels/tires (business) in the front, big 'ole tires/wheels (party) in the back. Dad wasn't very happy with Talan's wheel/tire set-up on that one, especially after the drive shaft constantly fell out from the air shocks being jacked up too high. But man, that was quite a treat for me, as a 10-year old kid cruisin' with my bro and his friends. Especially when we went to the laundromat (not to wash clothes) which served as our local arcade... Pacman and Galaga galore. We all hung out there many a night. My favorite all-time ride of my brother's was definitely his '83 RX-7. That car was beyond incredible back then. I was driving a Camaro or Fiero at the time. Both were fun cars for that time period, but neither compared to the RX-7, which Talan occasionally let me borrow. Of course there were other factors and inspirations as a kid that lured me to the automotive world (my cousin Gene's '69 Chevelle, and cousin Tim's late '70's Vette, to name a couple more), but nothing could replace those experiences I had with Dad and Talan. My last ride with Dad before he passed was taking him to Father's Day dinner in my 35oZ Roadster. Even that car purchase was slightly inspired by Dad. Sometime after Nissan introduced the 350Z in 2003, Dad saw one on the highway somewhere during one of his many journeys and told me how much he liked it. I agreed, and ended up buying one a year or two later.

So, if you're still reading up on all this nostalgia, you're probably either my wife or one of my immediate family members. If you're somebody else, thanks for hanging in there. As Anna posted a week or two ago, we picked up the latest in my obsession of automotive bliss... a Lotus Elise. I've been a big Lotus fan since the movie Pretty Woman way back when. If you remember, the first part of the movie shows Julia Roberts character zipping through town in a silver 1990 Lotus Esprit. I told myself then I'd own a Lotus someday. Since then, I've test-driven three Esprits. My first drive in one was pretty exciting. I was only about 23, and for some crazy reason, the dealer let me take it all by myself? I don't know what he was thinking, but I guess I had him fooled pretty good into thinking I was serious about buying it. My only intention was to drive the thing as there was no way on earth I could have afforded it at the time. So he hands me the keys, and zoom I was off. I remember thinking how cramped and hard it was to drive through Rt. 40 traffic in Baltimore, then jumping on 83 North and realizing how quick it got to 100 mph. All the while I'm thinking, "Did he really just let me take this out by myself, and does he know I'm going about 100 mph up 83? Eh, probably not." Anyway, I concluded the test drive by negotiating the price down about $12,000 from what he was asking when I first got there. I told him I'd think about it and get back to him. I hope he's still not waiting. My last test-drive in an Esprit left me wanting more (I was actually thinking about buying this one). I decided visibility from the driver's seat was too much of a pain, plus, I didn't own a house at the time, so figured I'd better work on that first. Then, in 2005, Lotus introduced the Elise to the US market, and my interest in Lotus climbed once again. I followed the car's debut in the US for a little while, but realized the timing wasn't right for me to have one. Fast forward to a month or so ago during spring break. Shortly prior to that, I had an itch for another one of my all-time favorite cars, a 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder replica. If you've been reading our blog, you would have seen one Anna and I got to drive a couple months ago. Why a replica? Because Porsche only made about 90 originals. As I stated in an earlier blog, if you can find one, an original '55 Spyder sells for about $1 million. Uhhhh, I think we'd have to settle for the $20K-$25K replica. Well, that little joy ride was fun (If you're STILL with me at this point and reading all of this, you're: a- my wife, b- just maybe, my immediate family, c- REALLY slow at work and have nothing better to do, or d- intoxicated. If any of these apply, go back to the blog about the Spyder and read some more about cars. You know you want to.) However, despite the little joy ride being fun, I walked away realizing a 550 Spyder replica wasn't the ticket right now. The car just didn't feel right to me. About a week after this, Anna and I had some friends (Darlene and Dave C.) down from Ocean Pines, MD. When Dave heard I was interested in another car, before knowing what it was (the 550 Spyder) he told me he figured it was a Lotus I was after. He and I had many conversations about cars during all those years spent on the beach in Ocean City, MD, so he knew I was a big Lotus fan. After hearing him say the word "Lotus", and knowing the 550 Spyder thing wasn't going to work out, I got online that night and started researching the Elise once again. After realizing this was the ticket, my search began for a red car with black interior, and both the hard and soft top. The search ended in Erie, PA, of all places. I found it online and negotiated the deal before seeing it. Anna and I drove 13 hours each way for a total trip of 1,500 miles to get it back home. About a week after getting it, I had it up on jack stands in the garage modifying the engine a tad and changing things up a bit. I'm almost done with it, but here it is now. Thanks, Anna, for being supportive in the "Lotus effort". And thanks, Dad and Talan, for all the inspiration and giving me one of my passions in life. Oh yeah, and thanks Dave C. for saying the word "Lotus" when you all were down visiting. If it wasn't for you saying that, I'd probably be surfing right now instead of writing this book. Hey, but maybe that would've been a good thing, as surfing is passion #2 and cars is #3. Ahhh, now I'm confused. I'll just go surfing tomorrow...

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

alligator

A teacher that lives around the block from us found this friend hanging out in her yard. YIKES!










Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hearts' Stories



This school year is slowly coming to a close. I can't believe my first year of teaching first grade is almost over. I didn't know what to expect teaching such young children... but I loved it! We just recently had our end-of-the-year party and I thought I'd share some photos and videos. Some of the first grade teachers this year used Hearts' Stories (http://www.heartsstories.org/) as part of our writing curriculum and so the theme of our party was Hearts' Stories. Read up on the program- it's wonderful and I would recommend it to any teacher anywhere! Jenny Abbott Edwards, the creator, is actually from North Canton!

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Road Trip...

TA DA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Our new car....




We drove to PA with our luggage in this big space...


And drove to MD and back to SC with our luggage
in this not so big space...


I even had to put my legs on top of my 2nd bag and purse.



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As you can see from this video, he's already having fun with it. The night we brought the car home, he already bought something online for the front of it. We just started our hunt for a Jeep Wrangler for myself. Once everything is said and done- we'll have the Lotus, my Honda (from college), a Jeep Wrangler, and the golf cart. It's fun to play around with new vehicles!

more memories

Kirby and I just spent the last 2 weekends with our family visiting from Ohio. Of course it was another great time, filled with laughing, crying, and lots of stories! I was finally able to meet my Aunt Jenny and Uncle Jon too. We were able to take a long walk on the beach together that morning before we all headed back home.





Of course a visit to the King's home wouldn't be complete without a game of MadGab!

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They got me addicted to puzzles now. I bought myself one as soon as we got home!





Beautiful day-





What a great group of people! :)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

GO NAT!

She had her holey jeans picked out months ahead of time...and she wasn't scared a bit! Until....she got on!

Natalie has been working hard for this incentive! She told Mr. King that she wanted to ride on his motorcycle a few months ago. Mom said if Natalie was good at school and helped out at home, she could ride with Mr. King on his motorcycle.

She did it!! ...and here she is!

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She wants to ride the golfcart next.
I'm sure she's already working hard for that!