Monthly Archives: September 2012

Pool problems

Swimming. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, but…okay, I don’t really enjoy it.

Especially at my gym’s pool, which seems to disproportionately attract weirdos in snorkel masks and floating band-aids and such.

But: today I swam, and…

…my goggles didn’t leak.

…I didn’t have to share a lane.

…my cap kept my hair dry. (Mostly.)

…there were no creepers lurking underwater.

…I didn’t brush up against any disgusting floating things.

It was almost fun. 

My shins are still stabby so I’ve been laying off running this week. I’ve been hitting the weight room, but felt like I could use a little cardio. So I hopped in the pool for 37 minutes and covered 1500 yards. Not exactly setting any speed records, but it was nice to get my heart rate up and stretch out my chest and shoulders, which were sore from lifting.

And so I’ll say to myself: Hey, that wasn’t so bad, you should get in the habit of swimming as cross-training on a regular basis!

But then I won’t until I’m hurt again.

Oh well.

On another note, I had the awesomest salad for lunch today.

I eat some sort of salad for lunch most days, but I never blog about it because that’s boring. Usually it’s leftover whatever-meat with some cheese and nuts and fruit. Today’s combination, however, was worthy of the internets.

I guess that is still just leftover meat and cheese and nuts and fruit, but this ribeye-chèvre-walnut-pear combo was delicious.

I seared the pears in the same pan I’d used to reheat the steak, which made them extra soft and sweet and delicious. And this dressing from Stonewall Kitchen is amazing:

…especially for a dressing that has no sugar.

Anyway. So I went swimming and didn’t totally hate it, and I ate a great salad.

Not a bad Wednesday.

But I’m hoping to be back to running tomorrow.

Year of the funjury

I’m thinking that 2012 is gonna go down as the year of the funjury.

(That is a word I just made up to describe injuries that you get from doing fun things. And by “fun things” I don’t mean running.)

Having finally recovered from that camping-induced bout of bug bites or sumac or whatever (<—don’t click on that if you’re eating lunch), I find myself once again on the injured list after a weekend of shenanigans.

But first: I’m not sure if I could have asked for a better weekend.

Things that were excellent about Music Midtown:

  • The weather
  • The venue (stumbling distance from home! city life for the MFW.)
  • The people watching
  • The funnel cake
  • The music
Things that were not excellent:
  • The bathroom line
  • Um…that’s it.

The party started on Friday afternoon with a striptease from TI. Seriously…he started out fully clothed and over the course of his hourlong set removed a vest, tee shirt, and belt (why?). Not that I was complaining.

I don’t think I’d ever seen live rap or hip-hop before and it was awesome.

Our group had set up right between the two stages so we didn’t even have to pick up and move when The Avett Brothers came on next. The sun was setting, the wine was flowing, and the crowd had chilled out enough that was could lay back on our blankets and still have a line of sight to the stage in the distance. We bought a box of barbecue and a carton of fries. Bliss.

We stuck around for a few songs of the evening’s last act, the Foo Fighters, but ended up heading out early. I love 90s music, but Saturday was going to be a big day. So we folded up our blanket and started the two-mile walk home. I was wearing these super squishy new flip-flops and they felt great on my feet.

(That’s foreshadowing, there.)

Saturday afternoon, I squishy-flip-flopped my way back to the park for round two. We arrived right in the middle of Adam Ant‘s set, which was predictably weird. (He was wearing some bizarre Sgt. Pepper getup that must have been horribly hot. It was in the upper 80s and I was all swamp-assed in my jeans and tank top.)

Next up: LUDA! The crowd swelled and seemed to double in size. There was no more lazy lounging on the blanket. We were up on our feet and packed in shoulder to shoulder for the rest of the day.

Ludacris was fun, but if we’re comparing the festival’s two hometown rappers, TI gets the win. Ludacris seemed a little rushed (which makes sense, I suppose, trying to cram a ton of must-do hits into an hour set) and kept stopping to ask the crowd if we were LUDA FANS (um, obviously…we are standing in a hot, dirty field waving our arms around like idiots and screaming).

Then Neon Trees played and were kinda forgettable (I don’t mind them, but they sound the same live as on the radio, which was a little boring) and then Florence and the Machine, whose set I mostly missed because I was waiting in a 30-minute bathroom line, but people seemed to dig them.

After picking up a funnel cake for fuel, I headed back out just in time for Girl Talk, which was unequivocally the most fun hour of the entire weekend.

I don’t even care that it’s not “real” live music or whatever. I’m not a music snob. I like to dance. And I bounced around like a little jumping bean for every second that Girl Talk played. It was a blast.

We stuck around for a few Pearl Jam songs, but honestly, we were all exhausted and as hard as I crushed on Eddie Vedder when I was in middle school, beating the end-of-the-night gate rush was, again, more appealing than staying.

So that was my super-awesome-fun weekend.

And…I woke up on Sunday morning with shin splints.

SHIN SPINTS. From walking, standing, jumping, dancing, whatever for hours upon hours in those stupid squishy sandals.

I haven’t had shin splits since my freshman year of high school cross country, but I remember exactly what they feel like. And, if I’m remembering correctly, there is not a whole lot you can do but rest, RICE, and wait them out. Ugh.

You’ll find me in the pool and the weight room this week, I guess.

Being funjured sucks…but at least I had a damn good weekend.

Patience is not my strongest virtue

“Please allow sufficient time to process your registration,” they said.

“When you are accepted, your name will be posted,” they said.

It’s been almost a week, B.A.A. Most people I know who qualified in my bracket have been formally accepted. Get on it.

Please stop making me think that I spelled my name wrong or something.

Don’t even make me beg.

Signed,

Just Wants To Know If She’s Doing A Marathon In April Or Not

EDIT: Friday morning, I’m in! 

Helping me help you

Like most bloggers, when I’m feeling particularly hard up for content, I wander over to my stats page and examine the list of search terms that have brought people here.

And then I feel a surge of pity for those who, having trusted Google to lead them in their quest to answer their (often weird and obtuse but probably somehow important in a way I cannot fathom) questions, ended up on this site.

And THEN, I start to ponder these people, and the situations they’ve gotten themselves in to. I create little drama-filled backstories for them. I wonder if they ever figured things out. (Yes, I have too much time on my hands)

So, if any of you random Googlers are still hanging around here, give me another shot. Maybe I can help.

1) The feline and the specter

It sounds like this person believes his bedroom is haunted, which is causing his cat to stay away from the room.

Guy, you are in luck. I have an easy solution: SEND ME YOUR GHOST.

Because I have the opposite problem. My bedroom attracts my cat like a magnet, especially when the door is closed. Bonus points if your supernatural being is most active between the hours of 3 AM and 5 AM, because this is when my cat is least likely to avoid my bedroom.

Problem solved.

2) The ass chafers

I think the real question here is: what CAN’T you put in your butt crack during a long run? The world is your oyster!

(Oyster! There’s one answer for ya!)

Okay, but seriously: I get lots of search hits about running and butt chafing (and also, of course, chaffing). Is this because people are too embarrassed to ask their running buddies for advice about that searing strip of raw skin down in the crack, so they turn to Dr. Google?

Butt chafing happens, y’all. To lots of runners, including me. Do not be ashamed. You can put Body Glide down there just as you’d put it on any other part of your body. Or, there are specific products made just for ye olde arse. Hell, you can even use regular old vaseline.

Here’s a related question that I see sometimes:

Honestly? While exercising? Probably none.

There is no evidence that this person is asking about running-specific underwear applications, though. I will say for everyday use, I think Hanky Pankys are pretty damn great. And I actually do wear them running sometimes, especially with thinner tights/capris/booty shorts. I don’t even notice that I’m wearing them, and they’ve never caused a chafing issue.

And I can’t believe I just blogged about that.

Moving on…

3) Le supermarché français

Just like it sounds, yo. PUB-licks.

At first I thought this was a really stupid question, but then I thought that maybe this person thought it was, like, French or something with a silent -x?

poob-LEE?

Yeah, no.

And for what it’s worth, I still don’t think it’s such an amazing store, although the rotisserie chicken has grown on me.

4) The person who doesn’t want to invest in a sixpack and be inevitably disappointed

That is easy. THIS ONE.

5) The hapless motorist

Here ya go:

HTH!

(No, but really…what does it look like when a tire needs air? It looks flatter than normal. And if you’re not sure, take two quarters to your nearest gas station, check the pressure, and top off if necessary. Filed under: Things I’m Glad My Dad Taught Me When I Was 16.)

6) The redneck pervert

It’s a good bet that this is happening, somewhere, right here in the state of Georgia right now! If not, almost certainly in neighboring Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, or Florida.

Or is it, like: to where do they drive? To Wal-Mart? To the local landfill with a bed full of trash? To the police station because they’ve just been robbed of their clothing? To your house to appease your girl-on-F150 fantasy, Mr. Googler? So many possibilities.

If this is too complicated for you, I’d suggest checking out your local adult video store. There’s a niche for everything, right?

7) The baker with jaws of steel

Good lord, are you trying to be the least popular parent at the bake sale?

Here’s my tip: stop by your local poob-LEE and pick up some macarons instead.

8) The organized entertainer

YES. I must admit that I feel validated every time someone lands on my blog after searching for this because I’m pretty sure you all thought I was crazy after that post.

This is probably the only arena in which I will ever exhibit that level of planning and organization. And I do it, like, twice a year.

Bring on Thanksgiving…this year is going to be even more complicated since I’m running a half marathon in the morning. Post-race shower beer will definitely be a milestone on that critical path.

9) The person who thinks the Google box is her sassy pants, straight-talkin’ BFF

Probably.

10) The person who actually might have found what they were looking for

I gotcha covered.

(No makeup. SO BRAVE!)

And with that, I’m back to…whatever it was I was doing before I went down the search-term rabbit hole. I can’t even remember.

Maybe Google can help.

Weekend at porky’s

I swear, this wasn’t intentional.

Friday night: Pizza from Antico’s (yeah…not on the low-carbage plan) topped with prosciutto and spicy sopressata.

Saturday: Sole food intake: the Atlanta BBQ Festival. All pork, all day.

Sunday morning: Usual weekend breakfast of bacon, eggs, fruit.

Really, I have nothing against pigs that lead me to consume them so enthusiastically over the weekend. It just happened.

Our adventure-walk to Atlanta BBQ Fest started in the early afternoon. The festival was within strolling distance from our house, and as we departed around noon, it seemed like a no-brainer to fix some road sodas for the journey.

But we had slept in, had worked out, had not really had a real breakfast…so I decided to combine the smoothie concept with the daiquiri concept and make us cardboard cups full of blended frozen strawberries and rum.

I will say, in retrospect: that shit kicked my ass.

We got to the BBQ Fest and immediately started in on the dollar samples. The festival is an actual competition, and the competitors offer dixie cups of their entries for a buck a pop. After about fifteen of these, I was ready for a beer. And some ribs.

I’d heard good things about Williamson Brothers, but they’re OTP (outside the perimeter) and we don’t venture there very often. But after this box of deliciousness, I’d be willing to make the trip.

Cole slaw…counts as vegetables? Maybe?

The ribs melted off the bone without being overly fatty, and the flavor was in the meat – not totally dependent on the sauce. Yum.

Baby back rib score: four out of five. Although I had sucked down that ridiculous “daiquiri” and two (three?) beers, so….

…home we walked, and with a belly completely stuffed with roasted pork, I fell asleep. For the night. Literally: I only consumed frozen strawberries, rum, pork and beer that day. Although we resisted this:

Um, WAT….you chase the lemonade with the vodka? That is brilliant.

We went home and passed out. Totally full of slow-cooked pork, there was nothing more that the day could offer us.

Sunday was a little more balanced. It started out with our usual weekend breakfast of eggs, bacon, fruit.

(Still: the pork theme, though….)

And after digesting for a couple of hours, I headed out on a run. It was 1 PM and 85+  degrees. I loosely planned to make it five miles.

But…oddly enough, I felt good. And having missed my usual Saturday long run (because I was really sore from lifting on Thursday and Friday) I decided to go for something a little longer on this Sunday afternoon.

10 miles. Hilly as hell. High eighties, no water, no “fuel.” And although most of the run wasn’t super speedy (around 9:00 pace) I managed to crank out a couple of sub-8 miles at the end, which included some monster hills (um…some of the same hills I’ll face at the Atlanta Half in November).

I know I  should be running more mileage right now. Especially with a goal half in November.

But I’ll take a relaxed 10 on a pork-dominated weekend.

So hot right now

From my twentysomething years in Los Angeles, I can recall on one hand the number of times I spotted a celebrity:

– Michael Richards (aka Kramer) at a pizza place in Santa Monica (the hair…hard to miss the hair….)

– Kiefer Sutherland getting out of a car in Brentwood. (Actually I think a friend pointed this one out to me; I was never a 24 watcher.)

– Ben McKenzie (aka Ryan Atwood from The OC) at a bar in Venice (he was short!)

Maybe there were a couple of others, but regardless, it was pretty b-list stuff. I suck at recognizing famous people. There were many things I loved about living in LA, but rubbing elbows with A-listers definitely was not one of them.

So as we spooned sorbet after dinner last weekend and my husband spotted a certain shaggy head of blonde hair strolling across the patio of our neighborhood Midtown Atlanta restaurant and claimed a star sighting, I instinctively applied my celebrity non-recognition skepticism.

“That was not,” I said, eyes narrowed.

“Yes, it was,” he replied, leaning back in his chair and crossing his arms. “A hundred percent sure.”

“I have to pee, ” I announced abruptly and stalked off toward the entrance of the restaurant, through which the mussed golden mop had passed moments before.

And? And it was. 

Owen Wilson. Charmingly crooked nose and all. A thousand percent sure. I mean, Zoolander is my all time favorite movie of all time. And that was definitely Hansel standing there at the hostess stand.

There’s no way I’d ever do this, but part of me had a fleeting fantasy about making friends and inviting him over to our house (just a few blocks away!) so we could drink “tea” with Finnish dwarves and Maori tribesman. But obviously that would be like a vanity of self absorption that he’d try to steer clear of. So I pretended to visit the restroom and then scurried back to our table.

I mentioned this to our waitress and she confirmed that he was a regular. In town, apparently. Filming this movie, or so it seems likely. And “super sweet.”

There is no real point to this anecdote. Other than that I lived in L.A. for three years and didn’t see shit for celebrities, but I’ve lived in Atlanta for five months and have already practically had dinner and an orgy with one of the lead actors of my favorite movie.

I know. Cool story, bro.

Anyway.

I had a good track workout tonight. My legs felt heavy during the first couple of repeats, but I had no problem working through a solid set of 12X400, clearing the 90-second barrier easily on each one: 87, 88, 88, 87, 87, 86, 86, 86, 85, 85, 84, 82.

12X400 is one of my favorite classic track sets. Looking back on my workout log, I’ve done it two other times this year (on May 29 and June 26) and have gained speed along the way:

Speed work. It works. (Although…having slightly cooler and duskier conditions helps too. But it was still in the low 80s when I was driving home from the track tonight…relatively balmy!) And while I left tonight’s session feeling tired, I wasn’t nearly as on-the-turf drained as I’ve been previously after track. I ran a calculated workout and there was gas left in the tank. Hurrah.

It’s tempting to try to assign race goals based on workouts like this one (“I should be able to run a 5K at 5:44 pace!” <–umm…no, not likely) but honestly, the most helpful thing for me is just seeing an improvement. I have worked hard, gained a little strength, lost a little fat…and I’m little faster now. And I know that, no matter how hilly the course or inhospitable the conditions, that will only help me when I race.

That said…in my umpteen years of running, churning out quarters consistently and easily under 90 has always been my benchmark for being in good racing shape. I can count on one hand the number of times that this has happened post-college.

I guess, in a (completely non-Hollywood) way, I too am so hot right now.

I think I need to find a flattish 5K in the next few weeks.

You say Frittata, I say Give Me Two Hours

I’ll admit: my two-person household is not always totally organized when it comes to meal planning. There are a lot of one-off trips to the grocery store to gather ingredients for a particular meal.

The worst is when this happens during weekend breakfast/brunch. Because inevitably, it’s 10 AM and I’m starving.  Maybe I slept in because I stayed up too late the night before, or perhaps I’m exhausted because I’ve already been up and out on a long run, but regardless of the cause, it’s past breakfast time and I am effing HUNGRY.

“Let’s make a frittata,” my husband called to me from the sofa as I stumbled down the stairs at 9:30 this morning. (For the record, I actually wasn’t lushing it up on Saturday night. And 9:30 isn’t that late to sleep in my happy world.)

You…have a frittata recipe,” I challenged, pouring myself a cup of coffee. I thought to myself: what is a frittata, anyway? Frittatas are what I make when I screw up an omelette and try to spin the mangled results as intentional, right?

But he fired back: “Yes, I do.” And with a few taps on his laptop keyboard, he emailed me an Epicurious recipe.

Of course, we had to make a trip to the store for this. We had plenty of eggs – I eat eggs on the daily these days and we buy them in big Costco flats. We also had sweet potatoes, onions, sausage, and bell peppers. But we did not have fresh herbs or cheese…and I was not about to skip out on the cheese. That’s what turns eggs with meat and veggies in to breakfast pizza.

Between the trip to the grocery store and the various chopping and cooking steps that this recipe required, it was almost noon by the time we sat down to eat. But this frittata was so good that it was 100% worth it.

Recipe: Bacon and Potato Frittata via Epicurious. I subbed sausage for bacon and sweet potatoes for potatoes (nuked them in the microwave for a few minutes before chopping them up, because sweet potatoes always seem to take longer to cook than regular potatoes).

Seriously. SO GOOD. After we had stuffed ourselves, I divvied the rest up into breakfast portions for the rest of the week.

…and there’s a meal I don’t have to plan. See? My lack of organization works itself out. This frittata was totally worth a one-off trip to the store.

Although breakfast was served on the late side, it was a productive Sunday afternoon around here. I cleaned out the garage while my husband attacked our weeds with the mower. (I can’t, in good conscience, call our yard a “lawn.” It is weeds. And snakes and mice and spiders. Which is why I don’t like mowing it.)

Once the garage was spotless, I decided to go for an easy 5-mile run to round out the week:

Gotta admit, I don’t feel like I “only” ran 27 miles last week. After a hard leg workout at Boot Camp on Thursday, an intense upper body weight workout on Friday, and a long run (+ a holiday make-up Boot Camp) on Saturday, I was damn tired.

But one of my goals for this fall is to keep up strength work while training for the Atlanta Half Marathon on Thanksgiving. And I need to remind myself that if I’m doing three 45-minute strength sessions a week, that’s the equivalent, time-wise, of running 15+ additional miles.

Not sure if that’s the right way to look at it, but for me, it seems like a good way to compare my level of fatigue from doing, say,  45 miles a week of running with zero strength training (which is basically what I was doing this past spring, and which lead to me being in crappy shape) to that of my current training.

Anyway. After my run today, I wanted nothing but to sit on the porch and wallow in my sweaty filth for a while, so naturally I cracked a beer:

I don’t think I’ve ever reviewed Brooklyn Lager before. But this beer is actually one of my favorites. I’ll pick up a six-pack if we’re having company and I’m not sure if they’re beer drinkers: it’s easy-pleasing enough to serve an unknown audience but excellent in its own right, so you’ll enjoy it on your own if it doesn’t get consumed.

And sometimes, like when you’re covered in garage scum and sweat from an afternoon run, it’s the perfect thing to drink.

Billed as a “pre-prohibition” style lager, it has an amber, caramel-like color and much more flavor than your typical American lager.  But it’s not particularly dry or hoppy or bitter, and will please the vast majority of beer drinkers in any crowd. In short, it’s a safe yet enjoyable choice.

Bottom line: Yes! It may not be the most exciting beer, but I’d keep a pack of this in my fridge for easy drinking or serving to guests any time. (Purchased at Dekalb Farmers Market, $8/six)

Obviously, I’m much better at stocking my refrigerator with beer than I am with food.

Miles, slobber, beer

Thanks for all of your kind comments on my last post about my disgusting itchy feet. I almost didn’t post pictures because…well, they were disgusting and I realize that no one wants to be cruising through their Google Reader over their morning coffee and come across images of an internet stranger’s welty foot.

But it was too bizarre not to share, so I did.

Still not sure what exactly happened. As a few of you pointed out, it definitely could have been a reaction to poison ivy or poison oak or poison-something-else. That would be weird because we were camping in a sandy field and there weren’t many plants around, but who knows. Shady business, that Indiana.

Anyway, it’s better now and I went for a run today. Yay!

I ended up taking exactly a week off due to this rash/bite nonsense. Although it was unpleasant, I can’t say I am totally broken up about it. It was kind of nice to spend the holiday weekend being unabashedly lazy, especially since it was so hot out. Last week’s stats:

And for the month of August:

How’s that for a conservative mileage increase? I probably should be up closer to 150 with this half marathon on my docket, though. Oh well, I’ll get there.

Meanwhile, it’s been a really productive evening over here.

It’s difficult to get a photo that captures Parker’s Snaggletooth in all of its slobber-coated glory. But he has been extra clingy today and this rank drooly thing has been up in my business all night.

I’ve been smelly-slobbered on so much that I’m going to need a shower before bed.

And since it’s Wednesday and it’s been a while…beer!

I’ll admit that I bought this Ass Kisser Double IPA solely because of its moniker. I mean…obviously.

Ass Kisser Ales is the actual name of the brewery and apparently they’re in San Jose, CA. I’m of the opinion that if you come out of the gate with a name like that, you’d better be making some good, bold, in-your-face beers to back it up.

Sadly, though, this DIPA is pretty weak. I mean, it isn’t terrible, but the body is on the thin side with more bitter citrus and malt than hops. On the plus side, the 7.8% ABV is well masked: for a higher-gravity beer, it’s easy to drink. I just expect my DIPAs to be a little more…well, hoppy.

Bottom line: Buy this one for the label – I’m sure it would be a party hit. But don’t expect the flavor to pack the same punch as the name. (Purchased at Tower Beverage, $7/22oz)

Once again: thanks for putting up with my stupid “injuries” and lame whining. And I promise I’ll try to stop complaining about bugs…I realize I’ve been doing that a lot lately. In fact, throughout this post I have been resisting mention of the earwig (shudder) that I found in my bathroom* this morning.

Well, what can I say. Georgia has some serious bugs.

Eat, Drink, and Exterminate. It does have a certain ring to it, right?

*And then trapped under an empty water glass. With a towel thrown over the top. That thing will either starve to death or become someone else’s problem.

The dumbest injury in the history of injuries

I have not run since last Wednesday and for the stupidest reason ever. Even stupider than the time I strained my Achilles on the dance floor.

But before I give you the gory details, let me recap the events that lead to my condition. Boston –> Chicago Road Trip 2012.

Day 1: It’s 2:05 PM and I’m all packed for my 4 PM flight to Boston. Killing time before I need to leave, I hop online to check my flight status. It turns out that I’m an idiot and my flight actually leaves at 3PM…in 55 minutes.

After thwarting the speed limit and parking in the most expensive (read: closest to terminal) airport lot, I get to security with just enough cushion. Panting and sweaty, I call Meg to inform her that I will “probably” make my flight. We agree that the situation is pretty funny and, unfortunately, not terribly surprising.

I inquire about the status of her packing. She tells me that we’ll need to paint her apartment that night. In the dark, because all of the lamps are packed. We agree that this, too, is about par for the course. We are a mess.

Day 2: Departure from Boston!

And we drove all the way to Chicago holding a mattress on the roof! Just kidding, we were just driving it half a block to the dumpster. Working smarter, right there.

It’s late afternoon by the time we leave, so we don’t get very far. We make it just across the state line to New York, landing at the small-town home of Meg’s in-laws, who shower us with food and booze. Good people.

Day 3: …doesn’t start until almost noon. Whoops.

I go for a five-mile run and it’s postcard pretty:

And I see an herding dog actually herding sheep. Or maybe they’re goats. Bleating white creatures. I don’t know, I’m a city girl.

We lounge at the in-laws’ pool for most of the day (amazing) and finally get back on the road late in the afternoon. We’re making great time…until our brush with the law.

Officer: “Is it just you two and the dog?”

Oh no, there are three more people and a sheep/goat in the trunk, officer…

Officer: “Do you realize I clocked you going 80 miles an hour?”

Sir, have you seen our vehicle? A ten-year-old Hyundai Elantra? With the check engine light on? Are we even capable of going that fast?

Sigh.

We proceed at a considerably slower speed to the fine city of Buffalo – well, Buffalo Adjacent. Tired and grimy from our day of pool lounging, we bypass the Chippewa street bars and Niagara casinos in favor of a pet-friendly Econolodge on the edge of town.

We ask about nearby dining options, and the clerk highly recommends “The Warehouse,” which is conveniently located at the back of the motel parking lot.

Really? A place called The Warehouse adjacent to an Econolodge with a bunch of semi trucks parked outside…and you’re telling me it isn’t a strip club?

Nope, as it turns out, just a sports bar. And the food is not bad.

When in Buffalo…

And I have some beer that I probably don’t need, but let’s face it: my diet has consisted mostly of Chex Mix and Sour Patch Kids and Diet Coke for the last three days. Not exactly a banner week for nutrition.

With full bellies, we wander back to our room. We’re on the ground floor at the back of the motel, facing a storage facility that looks like a good place to cook up some meth.

At least we have Stewie the redheaded terrier to protect us.

(As long as you don’t interrupt his 23 hours a day of sleeping, that is. Most adorably lazy dog I have ever met.)

Day 4: Otherwise known as the day we shall conquer Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana.

But ten minutes back on I-90 and that damn engine light…starts flashing. And the transmission gets all jerky if you try to speed up or slow down.

I’m riding shotgun, so I fish around in the glove compartment until I find the owner’s manual, which offers no guidance other than to “consult an authorized Hyundai dealer.”

Meg and I exchange a look. We are more likely to consult a pay-per-minute psychic than we are to consult an authorized Hyundai dealer. I pull out my phone and turn to Google Mechanic.

Within twenty minutes, I’ve confidently diagnosed our problem (catalytic convertor – duh), identified the risks of ignoring it, and researched the replacement cost of the part.

“Listen to this!” I exclaim, and begin to quote from the totally legitimate and 100% factual message board I’m reading: “Sometimes, the problem can be resolved by running the engine for a long period of time under a heavy load, causing the buildup to effectively burn itself off.”

Long time, heavy load? We’ve been leadfooting for three days now and the car is packed to the gills with shit. We’re golden.

We pass through Cleveland, my onetime home, and I wave hello to Jacobs Field-slash-whatever the hell they’re calling it now. Go Tribe!

And onward we press to our destination: Chesterton, Indiana…home of the world famous Indiana Dunes.

Finally, we get to break out the camping gear!

Meg sets up camp while I take a quick trip back to town for firewood, a flashlight, hot dogs, and a box of wine. (The latter being “strictly prohibited” by the campground, but…WTF, Indiana? Who camps sober?)

And now the car is working fine. The check engine light is still on, but it’s no longer flashing, and the weird jerky-transmission thing is gone. We fixed it! By being nonchalant and irresponsible, we fixed it! Hooray for us.

So we celebrate by sitting around the fire talking for several hours, which is quite remarkable considering that we had already been talking nonstop for the entire week. (Seriously: we didn’t turn on the car radio once during this trip. We just talked. This is why Meg will always be one of my best friends.)

Anyway. If you’re still with me here, I’m finally getting to the part of this story where I get the dumbest injury in the history of injuries.

I’m giving you a scroll down warning here, because these pictures are disgusting.

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Those are mosquito bites. On our night of camping, I had (responsibly, so I thought) donned jeans and a sweatshirt so I wouldn’t get eaten alive. But I was wearing flip-flops and, uh, wasn’t wearing gloves…so the little shits just attacked my hands and feet instead.

My right foot happens to be the worst, although both feet and hands are pretty chewed up. Bites cover the tops of my feet and all of my toes and wrap around the inside of my arch. In places, you can’t even pick out individual bites – it’s just one continuous welt.

My right foot is so swollen it won’t fit in any of my shoes. Walking (even just around the house) rubs the bites, especially the ones on the underside of my arches, and makes them itch desperately and puff up like shitty little marshmallows over a campfire. Heat and sweat makes the whole situation ten times worse. Obviously, running is out of the question.

And holy hell, it itches. The only thing that stops the itching is a regimen of ice baths, calamine lotion, and oral antihistamine. So I spent most of the weekend on the couch, doing just that.

Okay, I’ll stop with the pictures. Sorry.

At one point when I was bored on the couch and applying calamine for the six hundredth time, I tried to count the number of bites on my right foot. There are at least 100.

I really don’t even know what to say about this. I’ve always been allergic/reactionary when it comes to bug bites, and am often the person in a group who gets disproportionately bitten, but…this is just insane. (Meg had some bites too, but just a handful: a normal amount you’d expect to endure on a one-night camping trip.)

Also: it’s not like I’ve never been camping before. I’m a pretty outdoorsy person. I’ve camped all over the country. I’ve never experienced anything like this. (I actually have a routine physical scheduled this week and will definitely ask my doctor about it…and possibly get tested for West Nile Virus.)

Anyway…that’s my excuse for last week’s paltry mileage. I realize it sounds ridiculous to say I can’t run because of my mosquito bites. But…I can’t run because of my mosquito bites.

Dumbest injury ever.

And, unlike Meg’s plucky little Hyundai, I don’t think it’s going to be fixed by running for a long time under a heavy load.