It was a cold and drizzling afternoon back in April along Broadway in downtown Saratoga Springs, NY. My wife and I were in town overnight for a film festival as we darted in an out of the local shops. My wife can never pass up a bookstore and rightfully so. We came upon the Northshire bookstore and immediately went in, spending about an hour browsing. I’ve never been a really big book reader but the older I get I find myself enjoying it more. I’m very selective in what I read but that is part of the enjoyment. Anyway I came across this book “The VW Camper Van” a biography by Mike Harding. It was $7.98 so I figured what the heck. As a car guy I had always been fascinated by the camper van. As a matter of fact I stopped to look at one for sale along route 4 in Woodstock, VT last summer. In all honestly I think it would be neat to have one a trek across the States with it. In 2022 Volkswagen will be releasing a brand new all electric van. Hopefully my 2007 Ford will hold on until then??????
What I loved most about this book was the history and how the Volkswagen Bus all started in the bombed and burned out ruins of postwar Europe. How the camper van culture evolved and is still evolving. I did not realize how popular they still are across the pond. One downside to this book was that I felt the middle portion of this book dragged on a bit and the author was just trying to fill pages. I had to set it down for a bit and read another book in the interim. However the fun soon enough returned and I thoroughly enjoyed the read. Some of the English words made me chuckle as well. You don’t hear the words Bloke or Lorry often here in the United States. It was a fun read and I recommend it if you happen to see it or can get it at your local library.
I’m not sure if any of you know this but I am a postcard junkie. I have a major addiction to postcards both new and old with the later being my favorite. There is just something about sending and receiving postcards that I truly enjoy. Maybe it’s that mystique of what I might find in my mailbox or that surprise in yours. Whatever it might be I truly enjoy it.
Some of you who are reading this may have been a recipient of one of my postcards from when I/we travel, a friendly hello or just a simple thank you. Yes I know what you are thinking I have to buy stamps and find a Post Office or mailbox when “I can just post a picture on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever is the new fad today”. I’ll be honest, I love your pictures, however I love even more when you take the time to send me something tan·gi·ble “That may be touched, real actual; evident.” Something that years from now I can look back on and re-visit your life, journey, event or day.
One of my favorite stories is of recent, about a woman from our running community, a friend who lives a good distance from our area. While on social media prior to the Christmas holiday I was raving about the local coffee shop and their “Christmas Blend” coffee roast. Katie chimed in with “We are serious coffee drinkers ” asking if I might ship her some, so I did. After a week went by and I heard nothing of her receiving my package. I sent her a message asking if it had arrived and her response to me was “I sent you an old fashioned thank you card in the mail”. It was a handmade card, I was elated!
Lately I have been recieving postcards from all around the globe. Have you ever heard of the Postcrossing project? I have been a member now for just over two years and I love it. I get to send postcards around the world and even better I receive them from around the world as well. Furthermore I have the added benefit of all different types of stamps from across the globe. Exciting, yes I know!
My friends I hope that you have a happy 2015 and who knows maybe one of my postcards will make it to your mailbox.
A little information about the “Postcrossing Project” in hopes it might peak your interest. http://www.postcrossing.com
The goal of this project is to allow people to receive postcards from all over the world, for free. Well, almost free! The main idea is that: if you send a postcard, you will receive one back from a random Postcrosser from somewhere in the world.
Why? Because, like the founder, there are lots of people who like to receive real mail.
The element of surprise of receiving postcards from different places in the world (many of which you probably have never heard of) can turn your mailbox into a box of surprises – and who wouldn’t like that?
How does it work?
First, the short version:
request an address from the website
mail the postcard to the address
wait to receive a postcard
register the received postcard in the system
The first step is to request to send a postcard. The website will display (and send you an email) with the address of another member and a Postcard ID (e.g.: US-786). You then mail a postcard to that member.
The member receives the postcard and registers it using the Postcard ID that is on the postcard. At this point, you are eligible to receive a postcard from another user. You are now in line for the next person that requests to send a postcard. Where the postcard comes from is a surprise!
You can have up to 5 postcards traveling at any single time. Every time one of the postcards you send is registered, you can request another address. The number of postcards allowed to travel at any single time goes up the more postcards you send!
This afternoons weather in Central New York was cloudy, windy and a bit chilly. This however did not put a damper on Michael’s track meet at Susquehanna Valley. Michael’s school Maine Endwell competed along with Susquehanna Valley, Union Endicott and Norwich in a modified track meet. Michael ran in the one and two hundred meter dash and took part in the long jump. He put in an impressive performance in the dashes but I’ll be honest I couldn’t see the long jump. But if you ask him how he did I get “I did fine Dad”…. Thursday we will do it again.
Flipping through my mental rolodex to the afternoon of February 24th 2012 standing on a scale in my doctors office watching in horror while the nurse continue to slide the weight on the scale higher and higher. The weight kept climbing like the thermometer on a summer afternoon. Two hundred pounds, two hundred and fifty, finally the mercury stopped at three hundred and eight pounds. I was mortified!
Later that afternoon sitting on our couch depressed I made a life altering decision, I was not only going to lose weight but I would get myself into shape at age forty. The very next day I made a drastic change to my diet. I began to walk six miles a day five days a week and slowly things began to change for me. My body started feeling better. The digestive issues I had been having were suddenly gone. I began to have more energy and my walking began to speed up.
Fast forward to an afternoon in late April as I returned from the local store where I had bought some fertilizer for our lawn. After lifting these extremely heavy bags from the car I happened to notice each bag weighed forty five pounds. Stepping back for a moment and standing there in amazement realizing I had lost forty five pounds at this point and lifting those bags of fertilizer really put what had happened to me in perspective.
A week later several friends had begun to push me to run a 5K race. Now I had not run since playing high school lacrosse twenty two years prior. I was resisting all I could but my curiosity would eventually get to me. However we signed up as a family and had planned to walk it. Race day finally arrived and as we got there the half marathoners had begun to come in. The atmosphere was electrifying. I was so excited to be a part of what was going on but really having no clue what was going on. All I knew is that it felt good. As we stood waiting for the gun my wife looks at me and says “You know you want to run”. I politely replied no I’m going to walk, BANG, the gun goes off and the tightly packed crowd of runners begin to take off. My wife looks at me and says again “You know you want to run” and I looked back with a huge smile and I was off. About a mile into it I am feeling great as a gentle pat on my back gets my attention and woooosh, my thirteen year old son goes flying on by. With the finish line in sight and my adrenaline pumping I noticed all those half marathoners clapping and cheering as we crossed the finish line. Wow, what a sense of community I thought. Runners of all skill levels cheering and supporting one another. I was hooked! My first ever 5K race was now complete, finishing in 35:19.
Immediately the next month I signed up for another 5K road race in my former hometown of Kings Park, New York. I finished in 26:38, I was stoked! I shaved over eight minutes off my time from the previous month.
The trend would continue over the next several months. Along the way my healthy diet and continued exercise would lead me to lose a total of one hundred and fifteen pounds by Christmas and launch me into the maintaining phase. I have run several races this year so far but my favorite was this past Sunday. I took part in the Seneca 7. The Seneca 7 is a 77.7 mile relay race around Seneca Lake in New York’s Finger Lakes Region. Consisting of seven person teams with each member running three legs each totaling eleven miles. My first leg (3.2 miles) I happened to PR with a 21:16 time at hand off. I have to tell you I was shocked because the last five tenths of this leg had an elevation gain of one hundred and twenty feet. I was ecstatic to say the least.