The Winter Blues

On Christmas morning my running world came to a screeching halt. I went out early with my friend Ken to do a 5 miler while our families were still asleep. The pain in my right knee was so bad by the time I got home I could barely walk. I couldn’t climb the stairs in our house for several hours until some of the pain subsided. On New Year’s Eve I finally got into see the doctor and he was concerned about my pain and its location so he ordered an MRI. My MRI lit up like a Christmas tree showing I had what the doctor called a severe bone bruise (Almost a fracture) and a torn meniscus. He was perplexed more about the severity of the bruise than my meniscus. As I sat in his office with my wife you could see I wanted to cry. It was immediately clear to me that I would not be able to run the Parade Day Mile with my son nor with my team in this years Seneca 7 race, I was devastated!

I could not imagine where the bruise had come from as I had not fallen or anything recently. Flipping through the pages in my mind I did recall falling back in early October and banging my knee pretty hard. It hurt for a few days and then went away. I continued my running routine and sometime in late November I would get twinges in my knee while running, kind of like it wanted to give out. In typical fashion of me being me and my high tolerance for pain I kept running on it thinking it would just go away. I was wrong and it gradually got worse, with some days better than others.

I have not run or done anything too strenuous since the holidays. The doctor wanted to wait at least 4-6 weeks to see if my bone healed before doing meniscus surgery otherwise I would need two surgeries. The good news is my bone has healed and I will be having surgery on March 1st. Recovery in theory will be another 4-6 weeks before I can think about running again.

As I mentioned earlier I won’t be able to run with my team this year at the annual Seneca 7 relay race. However I will be there that weekend in April with my friends cheering and celebrating.

Cheers!!

The Winter Blues…..
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Review: Überleben Stöker Flatpack Stove

It is no secret that I love gear, so when I came across this Uberleben Stoker flatpack stove I knew I had to give it a try. I already own a Solostove Lite which I love. In my opinion you can’t have too many twig stoves.

This afternoon I headed to my local State Park to get it’s fire burning and have some food. Conditions out on the trail aren’t always perfect and today’s weather I feel was a good representative of that. The temperature a balmy 38 degrees in addition to 15-17MPH winds and snow flurries thrown in for good measure. It has been very damp and wet here lately so in order to get the fire going I decided to bring some dryer lint and two small pieces of fat wood and in no time the belly of this beast had come alive.

I filled my pot with 12 ounces of cold water and placed it on top. I continued to feed the fire a steady diet of leaves, twigs and sticks. The one thing I have noticed with these twigs stoves is they are constantly hungry. In these conditions it took 15 minutes for the 12 ounces of water to boil which I felt was reasonable. On a warm day with light wind I’m confident boiling time would be around 8-9 minutes.

I poured the water into a Goodto-Go single serve dehydrated meal (Chicken Gumbo) stirred and sealed and let rehydrate for 15 minutes. I put another 12 ounces of water back into my pot in order to boil for coffee.

The Stove: A little on the heavy side (14.5 ounces with canvas sleeve), this extremely compact and simple 5 panel stove assembles in about a minute or so. The first time I put it together it felt a little clumsy to me and I was skeptical that it would be as sturdy as I have read. All the pieces fit snug together giving it a solid base. This stove is made from heavy duty 304 grade stainless steel which is anti-corrosive.  After I had it assembled I truly liked its feel, solid as a tank. You will have no issue what so ever placing a heavy cast iron skillet or pot on this stove. Another great feature about this product was the large opening to feed the fire and the nicely placed holes for consistent airflow.

What I Liked:

Ease of assembly, compact, large opening to feed the fire, Sturdiness, airflow and lastly the price.

What I Didn’t Like:

A little heavier than I would like and extremely sooty during disassembly.

I believe that the positives outweigh the negatives and highly recommend this compact, affordable twig stove. I hope this review of the Uberleben Stoker Flatpack Stove was helpful and if you have a product that you would like me to review please feel free to contact me.

Cheers!

Compact & flat the Überleben Stöker Flatpack Stove comes in this nice canvas sleeve. ©Joe Geronimo
All the parts of the very compact easy to assemble Überleben Stöker Flatpack Stove. © Joe Geronimo
Completely assembled the Überleben Stöker Flatpack Stove is extremely sturdy. ©Joe Geronimo

 

The belly of the Überleben Stöker Flatpack Stove is alive with fire. ©Joe Geronimo

 

12 ounces of water working itself to a boil atop of the Überleben Stöker Flatpack Stove. ©Joe Geronimo

 

15 minutes later we have boiling water atop of the Überleben Stöker Flatpack Stove. ©Joe Geronimo

 

Goodto-Go chicken gumbo and a hot cup of coffee on cold and windy winter afternoon. ©Joe Geronimo

St. Pete’s Beach Florida

Michael had talked with us about taking a cruise as kind of a high school graduation present. To be honest I had no desire to take a cruise and I still don’t. However Julie being the voice of reason she usually is promptly stated how inexpensive it would be to feed Michael on a cruise as to a traditional vacation, she now had my attention.

Our trip to Florida began back on November 24th 2017 “Black Friday” as I booked our cruise online with Carnival Cruise Lines. We would fly into Tampa Bay the day before, relax at our resort by the pool with drinks and set sail to Cozumel Mexico the next day.

Fast forward to February 2018 as I received an email from Carnival stating that they had changed our port from Cozumel to Havana Cuba  I re-read the email a dozen times to make sure I was reading it properly and each time I became more upset. I approached Julie about it and she was equally annoyed. We stewed on it for a few days and came to the conclusion that it might not be all that bad. So chatted with the boys and they seemed on board as well. Heck if there are palm trees Michael is all set.

Several days later Julie being the researcher she is began diving into the specifics of traveling to Cuba. First our enhanced drivers license would not work and we would need passports. There is an additional $500. Next she discovered due to the relationship with the United States, Cuba would require us to purchase additional visa’s to even get off the boat, another $300. Then once off the ship we would not be permitted to roam freely and would have to be with a tour group. Even with the tour group you couldn’t breakaway. For example if Tourist A wanted to visit a certain shop or restaurant everyone would have to visit the same place, another $600 for the tour.

So on top of the flights, Cruise, hotel cost we would add another $1,400 to our trip. We were not happy to say the least. So we talked about it and decided to cancel the cruise. We had put a $600 deposit down the day of booking and the remaining was due by June. I contacted Carnival and they returned $400 of the $600 and we decided to just visit Florida instead since we already had the flights paid for and at least the first nights hotel.

I’ve never personally used Air BnB, VRBO or Home Away so I jumped online and began to search places near Tampa to stay. Long story short I found a great condo in St. Pete’s Beach only a 5 minute walk to the beach, two bedrooms, two full baths, kitchen, living room and a back patio. I contacted the owner and our dates were available since it would be August. Let me just say the the cost of the condo for 4 nights and a car rental was just under a $1,000. I didn’t know what to expected when we arrived at the condo since I only saw pictures of it online. We opened the door and the place was awesome, clean and comfortable. Definitely felt like a home away from home.

The goal for this vacation was to have fun and just relax and and not try to cram 4,000 pounds of shit into a 5 pound bag running around here and there. This actually felt like a vacation. We visited the Tampa Aquarium, took a guided kayak tour of Florida’s Shell Key Preserve, enjoyed a lot of food, beer & ice cream, went to a Waterpark with my cousin whom I have not seen in several years and relaxed a bit on the beach. I even read two books. Heck I barely took any photos.

Julie the boys and I had a great time and Michael has expressed possible interest in living in St. Pete’s during next summer.

Cheers!

Along the Gulf of Mexico in Florida’s Shell Key Preserve August 10th 2018, © Joe Geronimo
Exploring the Mangrove tunnels in Florida’s Shell Key Preserve August 10th 2018, © Joe Geronimo
The placid waters of Florida’s Shell Key Preserve before the wind kicked up August 10th 2018, © Joe Geronimo
Julie relaxing on treasure Island Beach St. Pete’s Beach, FL. © Joe Geronimo
Lagoon jellyfish at the Tampa Aquarium, © Joe Geronimo
Getting ready to board our plane in Tampa, FL to return home, © Joe Geronimo

A Beacon of Light

This past weekend Julie, the boys and I made a quick overnight trip to Long Island to visit family. Every time I visit which isn’t all that much I am quickly reminded as to why I left, the traffic is disgusting. However there is one bright beacon of light we do enjoy, Fire Island Lighthouse and National Seashore.

Cruising the Ocean Parkway is another favorite of ours. It is several miles out of our way but surely makes up for it in beauty and lack of heavy traffic. Pulling into parking field #5 before arriving at my sister’s home we found it surprisingly uncrowded for a Saturday. It was quite windy along the shore making it feel as if we were in a sand blaster. Undeterred we hiked around for about an hour or so taking in the sights, sounds and smell of the ocean, we had a wonderful time. Next visit we hope to alot more time in order to hike to Kismet, Saltaire and Fair Harbor.

Cheers!

Julie & I at Fire Island Light and National Seashore July 21st 2018. © Joe Geronimo
A beacon of light, Fire Island Light stands proud along the Atlantic Ocean July 21st 2018. © Joe Geronimo

Time Flies

I can remember like it was yesterday! The last of our family had just driven away and Julie and I stood there starring at this infant sound asleep. We looked at each other and said “Now what do we do”. I was scared to death because Michael did not come with an owners manual.

Today nineteen years later Michael will graduate high school. He has been in the BOCES program the past two years working in video production and will continue this fall at Broome Community College.

To say I’m proud of him would be an understatement. As parents our goal has always been to raise our children to be kind, compassionate, thoughtful, respectful, hard working and most importantly good human beings. I’ve always said to the boys that mom and dad are guides in life and can take you only so far while you will have to do the rest. I think we are doing a good job.

So congratulations to you Michael, mom and dad are very proud of you!!!

One of my favorite pictures of Michael is in October 2000 and he is helping dad with the yard work. He loved his bubble lawn mower.
Michael & I June 19th 2018.

Weekend Re-Cap

Saturday September 23rd 2017: Zipping up my wetsuit into a new adventure, open water swimming. Several years ago I had purchased a wetsuit with the intent on using it, things never panned out that way. Our swim was to take place on Quaker lake in Silver Lake Township Pennsylvania not too far south of the New York border.

Saturday morning the fog quickly burned off, the air temperature perfect and the lake  like glass. I’m guessing the water was somewhere between 66-68 degrees. The three of us (Chris, Bob & Myself) plunged into the lake at 0840, beginning our swim. I’ll admit I had been nervous all week leading up to this. I purchased a 15 liter New Wave Swim Buoy as a safety precaution. I was extremely happy with it and you wouldn’t even know it was there. Chris would swim 2 miles skirting the perimeter of the lake. Myself and Bob would swim 1.5 miles down and back the length of the lake. I stopped a few times briefly to adjust my goggles and take a quick break. On our way back up the lake I began to feel a little more confident with some endurance, my nerves had finally settled. Exiting the lake and sitting on the dock I glanced down the lake taking notice of my accomplishment, turning to my watch I covered the distance in 1:27:00. I really enjoyed the experience of open water swimming and look forward to more of it in the future. Recently I have been using swimming as a cross training tool, a low impact workout to supplement my running.

Later that day Julie and I would head back down to Pennsylvania to our families lake house to visit my cousin, his wife Dawn and friends who were staying the weekend. Some great food, company, kayaking, campfire and a game of Cards Against Humanity and all was right with the world.

Quaker Lake Silver Lake Township, PA. © Joe Geronimo. Note: This image was taken in October 2007.

Sunday September 24th 2017: Lacing up my running shoes I would run my first race in five months, the Dick’s Sporting Goods Greater Binghamton Marathon. Myself, Chris, Chuck and Ken would run the marathon relay as team “Sunday Bloody Sunday”. It was another beautiful day in the Southern Tier but extremely warm. Chuck would be our first runner, followed by Chris, Ken and lastly I would be runner #4. I do feel the need to pick on Ken for his little snafu during the race, just because it adds to the memories of a really fun day. Prior to Ken’s turn running he was getting in a few extra miles. Chris arrived to the exchange earlier than anticipated and Ken wasn’t around. I panicked and quickly jumped in and began to run. A few minutes later Ken exchanged with Chris and the guys came and pulled me off the course just over a mile in. Even though we lost some time Ken ran strong showing up to exchange with me pretty much as predicted. My leg of the course would be 4.2 miles mostly along the rail trail. It was HOT and I struggled a bit. I almost never hit the water stops on a race course but today I did twice. I ran an average of 7:26 pace for the race and honestly I could not be happier finishing my run in 30:58. This was huge for me because I had no pain in my hip flexors at all. I’ve finally have gotten my bigger muscles to start doing the work and I have really been enjoying the rebuilding process. Approaching the finish I was very excited to see my wife cheering me on as it its always brightens my day to see her smile. Our official finishing time was 3:15:25.

Post race refreshments and entertainment were provided by Ommegang Brewing of Cooperstown, NY and Local band Wreckless Marci. Later in the afternoon the week had finally caught up with me and I found myself unexpectedly napping on the couch.

Cheers to a super fun weekend!

Dick’s Sporting Goods Greater Binghamton Marathon relay team “Sunday Bloody Sunday”. L-R: Joe Geronimo, Chuck Hein, Chris Pilotti and Ken Burt.