My Winter Break Excitement

Ah, finally back in Columbus after a very relaxing Christmas break in the South Dakota.

For the 2nd time, I decided to drive instead of fly home for Christmas break.  I certainly question my career choice at times because it seems I turn more into an armchair meteorologist than anything.  It astounds me how much I hawk The Weather Channel making sure I don’t get caught in some crazy winter storm that always seems to try to ruin the last few days of the year.  As mentioned in my previous blog, last Christmas was mucho frio — as in -30 degrees Fahrenheit plus factor in wind chills of -40 to -50.  Needless to say, I did not want a repeat performance of that this year.  As for this winter break, I got more than I bargained for…again.

Here are some highlights of my break:

1.  The drive from Ohio to SoDak was wonderful!  Great weather – All sun and NO snow, just how I like it!  I got to do a little bit of shopping in Omaha, NE, before making my way north to Sioux Falls, SD.  But, as I journeyed north to Sioux Falls, SD, the temperature dropped 25 degs from 28 degs to 3 degs.  Only one word to describe that:  dumb.

2.  I tried to get up at 2am in the morning to see the Lunar Eclipse.  Unfortunately, it was too cloudy but I didn’t miss much – my uncle took some sweet pictures with his camera and showed me during our family xmas!

3.  I ate at my two favorite restaurants ever:  Johnny Carino’s and Tokyo.  I would have to say Carino’s has thee best Italian food I’ve ate in my life.  I recommend the Lemon Rosemary Chicken or Bowtie Festival.  Second, I miss good sushi!  Tokyo has an amazing California Roll and Fried Salmon Crab Potstick roll.  Miss the maki rolls!

4.  Got to spend CHRISTMAS with my family!!!  Lots of food, lots of fun!

5.  I managed to get 3 super cold, snowy days of pheasant hunting in during my break.  I shot a lot and I missed a lot.  No pheasants for me this year – which is a first.

6.  Played a lot of DDR with my niece.  I swear I heard Lady Gaga and Jordan Sparks at least ten thousand times…not because the dance sequence was cool, but because my niece is in love with those songs!  I was regretting that purchase for her until I saw Vanilla Ice and NKOTB songs were on it – YES!  Nothing like jumping on a plastic mat to Ice Ice Baby!

and lastly…

7.  This is my favorite.  Well, not really.  To make a really long story short, for the past 6.5 years I’ve intermittently battled kidney stones.  For some odd reason, after my tour of duty in Iraq, I occasionally have a random flair-up episode.  To my surprise, my last minor brush with the stones was last xmas break.  Well, as luck would have it, I got them again.  And this time, it was bad enough that I had to go to the hospital.  I’ve been told by many doctors who have administered me pain meds for my kidney stones that passing a stone is like giving birth.  For me, I can’t say either way, but if that is true, then I’ve had about 7 children so far.  My only regret about the whole kidney stone thing is this:  I feel like I’ve been a dead-beat dad because I haven’t named any my “children of the stone.”   Check the picture at the end of the blog…I managed a ‘Go Bucks’ thumbs-up.

Takeaway from Winter Break:  No Blizzard (which I dodged by less than 12 hours)!!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful winter break!  Now its time to rev up for Winter Quarter 2011!


It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas … advice if you’re driving home for winter break

I have certainly been enjoying the “Indian Summer” we all have been experiencing this fall season.  Its definitely been nice not having to bundle up like an Eskimo around mid-October like I did every year of my life living in South Dakota.  As much I miss SoDak, I don’t miss the 2 seasons (summer and winter), the sub-zero temperatures or the too-early snow storms.   Now, when I got out of bed this morning, I noticed some snow.  And surprisingly enough, I was excited!  As much as I enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather throughout fall, I was really hoping to see snow soon – and I got my wish this morning.  With Christmas fast approaching, I feel seeing snow helps me get into the Christmas spirit.  Now I can officially say Frank Sinatra style, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere I go”.

Last year, I traveled to SoDak to spend Christmas with my family.  Knowing that I was going to drive home, I knew I had to keep a watchful eye on the weather.  For me, getting stranded on a highway is not the way I would want to spend the holidays.  But, as luck would have it, I got to experience not one – but two – blizzards during my two week Christmas break.  I survived the first blizzard by driving for 4.5 hours through 3 states (Ohio, Indiana & Illinois).  Thankfully I am accustom to driving in lot of snow or I think I would’ve ended up in the ditch like countless others on I-70W.  The second blizzard I experienced a week later immobilized me.  I got stuck for 3 days at my parents house with temperatures plummeting to a record low of -30 degrees.  For those of you who are curious, I attached a pictures at the end of this blog to prove it.

Stupidly, I find myself in a similar situation…again.  I have officially decided to drive home for the holidays.  I wanted to fly, but my desire to go hunting clouded my judgment.  I’m hoping (fingers-crossed) that I don’t have to go through what I did last year.

So, for those who may be traveling over the holidays, I wanted to provide a few fun holiday traveling tips.  Here it goes!

1. Make sure you have a winter survival kit in your car (i.e. blanket, candles, non-perishable food items, a change of clothes, magazines, books, etc). It will save your life, people.

2. If you are driving, make sure you stop at one random exit/pit stop along the way.  For example, the world famous “Wall Drug” and “Free Ice Water” signs in SoDak attract 1 million people every year – and its only because of curiosity.  I’m sure wherever you are going, there has to be a “largest ball of string”,  “grandpa’s cheese barn” or “world’s largest gopher/jackalope farm” along the way to stop at.  Trust me, it will probably be worth it.

3. Take plenty of potty breaks.  No more explanation needed.

4. Don’t forget to bring your iPods (and a car charger too).  I’d go crazy without it.  Plus, make sure to bring plenty of Christmas music on a CD or iPod.  I prefer Frank Sinatra myself.

5. If your iPod’s battery runs low because you didn’t bring a car charger, tune to any AM talk radio show and call in.  Even if they are talking about balancing our nation’s budget, I’m sure you’ll be one of three listeners that call call in and add absolutely NO VALUE to the discussion.  Plus, it’s funny.

6. Stop at a sketchy gas station and while you are filling up, decide to eat some of that crazy gas station food that is always ‘conveniently’ sitting on the front counter when you pay.  Try a rotisserie brat, some heat-lamp warmed pizza or the popcorn left out for everybody.  But if you really want to be daring, I suggest the random stuff like turkey gizzards, chicken necks/feet, 3 foot beef jerky sticks, salted nut rolls (my favorite) or…wait for it…the “country” homemade canning jars that contain pickled eggs or something.  If you find one of those, you hit the J-A-C-K-P-O-T.

7. If all else fails, just sing in the car.  Heaven knows we’ve all seen plenty of wackos having a Britney Spears  moment on the interstate.  Why not let it be you…in some random state…driving??  Just sayin’.

And, now, the ‘coup de grace’ (ha, maybe there is a pun intended here…)

The moment I cross the SoDak border, I will be lock and loaded.  My Remington 870 will be ready to shoot any unassuming pheasant I cross paths with.  Look out birds.  I’m coming.