Monday, August 29, 2005

More Boulder Stuff

The picture to the left is me out in Andrea and Todd's backyard in Boulder. As indicated, they live right inbetween the mountains and the scenery is just jaw-droppingly beautiful.

On Tuesday, with overcast skies above, we hiked again during the late afternoon and then the whole gang ended up going for Mexican food. I ended up getting upset at the girlfriend for not getting the cheque for me, as she was too busy playing with her nephew. I guess I should have leaped across the table and grabbed it - I wanted to pay for every meal on the vacation since our hosts were kind enough to let us stay at their place the whole week. I thought it was the least we could do. Oh well, it was a pretty inexpensive dinner anyway. Todd had met us at the restaurant in his own car so they said we could stick around the downtown area and have some 'alone time' for the rest of the night. We ended up spending an hour and a half in the Boulder Bookstore - an amazing place by the way. I picked up Bill Clinton's autobiography "My Life", as I've always been fascinated by the man. I also purchased a cool book by Joseph Trento entitled "The Secret History of the CIA". I haven't cracked that one yet but I've always been a big fan of spy stories and movies so I thought this was a natural for me!

The weather continued to stink on Wednesday. Boulder gets over 300 days of sunshine a year so the cloudy, dreary weather is extremely uncommon. Jacky accompanied her sister to her ultrasound during the day so I basically slept in and then relaxed the rest of the day. Jacky and I hit an Italian restaurant that night and I had a fantastic veal parm dinner. We hit my new favourite ice cream place again (Cold Stone Creamery) and just walked around the town. Peaceful!

On Thursday night, Todd, Andrea, Jacky and I ended up going to a fancy French restaurant called Brasserie Ten-Ten. I had an amazing Coq au Vin...just incredible! The picture on the left is of Jacky and I before dinner on Todd and Andrea's deck. Ahhhh.

Friday was a crazy, hectic day. Jacky and I took Cole out for the afternoon so that mom and dad could clean the house in preparation for Andrea's birthday party later that night. We first ventured to this cool, kid-friendly car wash to get the new Audi all cleaned up for Andrea and Todd's friends. We bought Cole this beautiful antique car that he had his eye on for sometime as per mom. We then went to this little amusement park where they had mini-golf, go-carts and video games. We were doing great until the video games portion of the day. The place had these games where if you do well, you get tickets that can be used to buy various toys. Of course, the better toys demanded that you have a LOT of tickets. Oh yeah, money meant nothing there either - you HAD to use the tickets! There was also this EVIL game that got Cole upset: basically, there was a machine with a bunch of dolls in it - you put your fifty cents in and use this joystick to maneuver a set of claws within the machine and then push a button to get those claws to grab the doll. This thing was IMPOSSIBLE! By some miracle, I was able to get a toy on the third try, a cute little squirrel. I proudly presented this to Cole only to have him say he didn't want it - "I want that one!". He points to a doll that is completely burried and you could only see the animal's feet. Exasperated, I went back to the machine and put over five bucks into the damn thing, getting nothing out of every attempt. Jacky made things worse by telling him that the man behind the counter might be able to help. "Sorry maam, I don't have the key to the machine." Crying ensues. He finally came around but have I ever learned that kids are tough to please!!!

The party that night was tremendous. 12 couples came over for a night of chatting, martinis, music and laughs. The party was catered by another nice Mexican place; excellent food. Most of the guests were neighbors of Todd and Andrea - one of the chaps I talked to works on fibre optics for NASA. Wowza! Anyway, everyone was extremely friendly and I had a great time throughout the night.

Unfortunately, every vacation has to end eventually. We went for some breakfast down on Pearl Street on a cool Saturday morning and after some walking around, took off with Andrea for the airport. Andrea, Todd and Cole were fantastic company and I had an absolutely great time in Boulder. Just a great vacation!

EDIT: For a reason I'm too lazy to investigate, my photos aren't displaying properly here anymore so please visit my photo site here to see the two pictures.

A Couple More Blogs To Recommend

I want to pimp the blog of one of my readers. Dave hasn't updated Less Stuff in awhile (what's happening Dave?!) but check it out.

I also found a blog called
The Reluctant Jam Boy through Dave's site, a blog by a Virginia-based golf caddy. Really entertaining stuff.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

I've Been Neglecting Everyone!

Sorry about the extended absence. My buddy Toast says I'm letting my readers down...

Where did I leave off? Ah yes, the Boulder vacation!

Sunday morning, Jacky and I accompanied Todd, Andrea and Cole to the town of Nederland. It's a mountain town 8233' above sea level and incredible 3000' higher than the city of Boulder. We had breakfast at a place called the Sundance Lodge and Cafe and then all went hiking on the Switzerland Trail for an hour or so after. Just gorgeous scenery.

Monday saw Jacky and I go hiking with Hudson, the family's german sheppard. I wish I remembered the name of the trail; memory is fuzzy after a couple weeks back at work I guess! I spent the afternoon wading around in the pool and getting a lovely sunburn in the fierce Colorado sun. Around 5pm, we get a call from Todd, saying he has the car and he'll be coming home soon. He wants Jacky and I to keep Andrea occupied around 6:00 so she doesn't see him arrive. So 6pm hits and of course, Andrea is staring out the window saying "Where the hell is Todd? He's never this late!" I silently motion to Jacky to get her sister away from the window and of course my everything but subtle girlfriend SCREAMS at her sister: ANDREA!!!!!!! "My god Jacky, what's the matter!", is the reply. "Umm, do you have any Pepto Bismol?", Jacky squeaks.

Do you have any Pepto Bismol!? Oh man. Poor Jacky just isn't good at this stuff! While her sister shakes her head and moves toward the medicine cabinet, I shake my head while the girlfriend says "what was I supposed to do?".

Somehow, Andrea didn't see Todd pull in. He walks in the door and presents a little gift bag to his wife, saying it's an early birthday present. Of course, three year old Cole wants to open the bag for his mom and proceeds to start pulling the wrapping tissue out of the bag. He chucks the key out of the bag as well and continues looking for something that's just not there. "You got me a car?", Andrea says upon seeing the key on the floor.

Todd had a big bow on the Audi too! She of course was pretty speechless and thrilled. They put their son in the backseat and went for a little family drive while Jacky and I hung back at the house. We ended up having soup and sandwiches for supper instead of going out because of all the commotion.

To be continued...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Greetings From Boulder, Colorado!

It's day five of my long overdue vacation in Boulder, Colorado. The girlfriend and I are visiting her sister Andrea, her husband Todd and their four year old son Cole.

The trip got off to a perfect start on Saturday. I got paged at the airport about 5 minutes before boarding. "Mr. NoSkillz, please come to the front desk." Uh oh...what could this be?

I should preface this by saying that I was able to get the roundtrip tickets to Denver and back for both Jacky and myself for free, as my sister has enough airmiles built up to last a lifetime. I only had to pay the taxes, which amounted to a paltry $150.00 total. So I was already pretty pumped.

Well, guess how happy I was when the guy bumped us up to first class! Muhahaha! "Oh yeah, I have my girlfriend with me." "No problem!", he says and just like that we're hooked up!

I had never had the pleasure of flying first class/business class before and let me tell you - it's quite the experience! Huge seats...free booze (didn't drink any though)...non-stop, personalized service ("Would you like another Coca-Cola, Mr. NoSkillz?")...actual glassware instead of plastic glasses and cutlery. And this is saying nothing about the 'lunch' we were provided. My goodness. Best plane food ever! I had this curried chicken breast on wild rice with a greek salad and fresh rolls ON A FREAKIN' AIRPLANE! I wonder if you can just go to Air Canada, hop on a plane, eat dinner and just leave without flying anywhere...if so, sign me up! Jacky had a pot roast concoction and she was equally as pleased.

We arrived in Denver around 1:30pm Mountain Time and Jacky's sister was there waiting for us. It is about a 30 minute drive into Boulder, which I can only describe as Niagara-on-the-Lake on steroids. The town is very quaint, with a cool shopping/dining district on Pearl Street. However, you also have the Rocky Mountains as the backdrop and Boulder is a college town to boot, with the Colorado University campus in the city.

Todd, Andrea and Cole literally live in the mountains on a four acre piece of property. Words can't do the scenery justice so I won't even attempt to try. I'll make sure to post pictures when I get back home. I met Todd for the first time upon arriving at their home. He is a former world-class triathlete and cyclist, and while he's in phenomenal shape, he isn't as physically imposing as I thought he'd be. He immediately asked if I'd like to take a tour of Boulder with him. Sounded good, plus it would give Jacky some time to catch up with her sister.

Turns out Todd had a plan. Andrea's 40th birthday is coming up on Friday. There's already a big party planned for that night but he wanted to do something special for her.

Now, special for me is maybe taking the girl out to a fancy restaurant. If I'm feeling frisky, maybe a nice piece of jewellery. Well, Todd wanted to go buy her a car!

He had scouted out a couple choices at the Audi dealership earlier in the day with his son Cole and wanted to go down to get another opinion from an adult. So we drove a beautiful A6 2.7L Turbo sedan and then an A4 3.5L (non-turbo) wagon. I was partial to the sedan myself, as it had more passenger space and more cargo space than the wagon, which would work better for their growing family (Andrea is six months pregnant). Plus, the car just FLIES!

Todd shared my opinion and bargained right on the spot, coming to a deal with the salesman in five minutes! Geez, this guy means business! He wanted the car RIGHT AWAY too! Well, we were already late for dinner by that time and they needed 20 minutes to finish the paperwork so Todd said it could wait till Monday. So off we went back to homebase to get ready for dinner and discuss our alibi for being late. Haha.

The four of us (Cole had a babysitter) dined at Jax, a really nice seafood/oyster restaurant right on Pearl Street. We had calamari and mussels as appetizers and then I had this UNBELIEVABLE seafood bouillabaisse, filled with jumbo shrimp, king crab, mussels, clams and scallops in a tomato-based sauce. Hollee crap was it fantastic! After dinner, we had dessert at the Cold Stone Creamery, a fancy homemade ice cream place where you design your own concoction. Indescribable again...just go if you get the chance! After that, we toured Pearl Street, soaking up the culture a bit and watching some of the shows put on by the local entertainers (essentially just creative beggars, but entertaining nonetheless).

We got home around 10pm and hit the sack.

That's just the first day.

If I catch my breath again, I'll maybe throw another update in about the past few days as well. Hikes up the mountains, relaxing by the pool, beautiful scenery, fantastic weather, clean air, great dinners. Just an incredibly relaxing vacation, and one that was much needed. And I didn't even bring my golf clubs! Who would have thunk it?!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Final Day Update

The biggest event on my golf calendar is complete. I shot an 80 in the final round of the tournament to go along with my 78-77 start to finish at 235 (+19) for the three days, good enough for sixth place overall in the club.

The round started off great (as usual), as I got through the first four holes at one under par. The wheels came off early on Monday, however, with a three putt bogey on five and a sloppy bogey on the par five sixth. My buddy Jay showed up on the seventh tee to caddy for me (he was golfing earlier that day) and watched me bogey the next three holes to finish the front side in a less-than-inspiring 40 shots.

I parred 10 and missed a 6 foot birdie putt on 11 to stay at four over as I approached my nemesis holes for the tournament...12 and 13. I was a combined 7 over par on these holes through two rounds. I made a nice up-and-down par on 12 and hit a beautiful drive on 13 for the first time in the event. Unfortunately, after hitting my approach to 25 feet, I three-whacked AGAIN for bogey. My mind was pretty much gone by this point and I just wanted it all to end. I came to the 18th hole at +8 for the day and hit an awful drive underneath some spruce trees, requiring a pitch out. This left me with a 90 yard wedge shot for my third into a green surrounded by a huge gallery. There had to be at least 125-150 people watching the final groups coming in. I hit a nice shot but the wind grabbed a hold of it and the ball came up a pathetic 10 yards short of the green.

Wonderful. Way to make an ass out of yourself in front of the world!

So I have a difficult chip shot to a front pin location from about 10 yards off the green. All I'm thinking about is "don't duff the chip jerky!".

Well, wouldn't you know. I chipped the damn thing in the hole! Really loud cheers for that one! High fives all around from my threesome and the two caddies (including Toast, who was on Ben's bag for the day) and a huge grin on my face, mostly out of relief.

Nice par!

In the end, I'm not entirely disappointed in the performance. The score left a bit to be desired but I've never finished better than sixth so it's not all bad. My parents got a kick out of the chip in, as they were among the gallery members taking in the action on the final day.

Toast, Ben, Gary, Gary's nephew and Harris joined me after the round for pizza and wings at Yanks Restaurant. Great feast to end a fun day and a well run golf tournament.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Day Two Update

Well I did it again.

I played almost the exact same round Sunday afternoon as I did Saturday. I started off with a bogey on one, made an all-world par on two then made about a 20 footer for birdie on three to get back to even par. I bogeyed five then almost jarred a wedge on six for eagle, settling for my second birdie of the day. I made another birdie on eight and parred nine to finish the front nine at -1. Sweet!

I missed a 14 footer on 10 and a 6 footer on 11 and had to settle for pars on both holes. Then the crappy play began again. I hit it in the same bunker I did the day before on 12 and escaped with a bogey and proceeded to double #13 for the second day in a row. Pars on 14 and 15 were followed by a three putt bogey from 8 feet on 16 and ugly bogeys on 17 and 18 for another 42 on the back nine, giving me a +5 77 overall. Ugh.

I'm still in sixth place going into the final day and comfortably made the cut which was made at 161. I'm really surprised at how high the scores are this year; the weather is perfect right now and the course is there for the taking. The leader shot even par yesterday and is at -6 138 right now; he has an incredible 13 shot lead right now. Yeah - I think they can start engraving his name in the trophy! Haha.

My buddy Jay will likely join me later in the round today to caddy for me so that's pretty cool. I'm going to be a bit more aggressive with my lines today, especially on the back nine. I think my problem on some of the holes, like 13, is that I'm scared of hitting the ball into the trouble so I've been overcompensating by hitting the ball in the opposite direction. Got to just trust my swing out there today.

Championship Monday is always fun and there usually is a pretty substantial gallery out on the 18th hole watching everyone come in. Should be a nice day! Hopefully I can make a run at second place, which would be fantastic. Wish me luck!