Blogging Return


It’s been a long time since I have sat down with a keyboard to write about adventures, or Manventures, that I have had. I was thinking about my blog recently and realized that  I have a number of manventures that have been worth sharing. So in order to share some new stories that  I have, and also to exercise the non-numbers side of my brain, I am back.

A lot has happened since I have last blogged (it has been 20 months since my last post). In that time I have started working full time, moved to Milwaukee full time, purchased a house, started dating a girl and begun massive renovations on the house.

In order to catch you back up with were I am now. I am going to go slightly back in time and begin with a series of posts on the house that I own and the renovations that we have done.

This is going to be a short post today, but I will post a teaser picture showing the 3rd floor family room in my house as it currently looks.

Its good to be back! Thanks for reading and be sure to check back soon.


June 20th – Last Full Day in the Bay Area


Friday was our last full day in the Bay area, as we were heading to Yosemite the next day. Uncle Billy had to work so Donnie and I had to entertain ourselves. We went downtown San Francisco to go on a billionaires tour. It was a free tour that is put on by the San Francisco society and it was a walking tour of a high end neighborhood of San Fran.


The tour was pretty interesting for a while, but then the tour guide spent more time talking gossip about people who lived or use to live in the houses and it got pretty boring. So we bailed out of the second half of the tour and walked around the area.

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We then went over to a park and then down to the beach and saw the Pacific Ocean. I got to put my feet in the Pacific, so I had been in the Atlantic and Pacific within a couple months.

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That evening we went to Muir Woods. The trees were very impressive there. I got a lot of great pictures from the walk around there. We saw a few owls around the woods while we were walking around. The trees were so large, that it isn’t possible to capture how large they are in a picture.

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We went to a German restaurant for dinner that night and my food was fantastic.



That night we took on Uncle Billy again in cribbage. We lost to him again unfortunately. Donnie got too tired after one game and went to bed, so Uncle Billy and I played a couple games between the two of us. He won the first round, but I won the second. So I was at least able to walk away with one win.

June 19th – Day Two in the Bay Area



[Writer’s note: Sorry for the delays in between posts. There was a lot of driving without internet access (as you will see) and then I just took a little break from the computer. But I will try and catch this up as best as possible. -TM]

When we got up on Wednesday, Uncle Billy made us a nice big breakfast. We had breakfast sandwiches and fresh orange juice. (Which I was in charge of making. My secret is, I let the machine do all the work.)


After breakfast Uncle Billy was running a little late for a meeting and had to take off really quick. Uncle Billy said that he didn’t have that much work that day, or at least not that much worked that he wanted to do, so he was going to meet up with us a little later.

Donnie really wanted to go see the Napa area so when Uncle  Billy got done with what he needed to do, we headed up to Napa. It was a nice drive and Uncle Billy was a good tour guide, pointing out all of the local attractions. We got a little tour of how wine is made.

We stopped for a nice lunch and I got a nice BBQ sandwich with a jalapeno muffin.

After lunch we went and saw one other winery and then headed back to Oakland.


For dinner that night we went to a Japanese restaurant. It was great food and I tried a lot of things that I hadn’t eaten before. 014 017 018 019 025I can’t remember everything that I ate or at least tried, but some of the items that I tried were ox tail soup, fish eggs, fish, beef and oysters.

When we got back to Uncle Billy and Aunt Olga’s apartment, Uncle Billy, Donnie and I played a little three person cribbage. Uncle Billy taught us a little bit about cribbage as he beat us both games. 

June 18th – First Day in the Bay Area


Got up a little later today and after packing up the hotel room were off to get our first real look at the Bay area. We had to first stop at a Kinkos so Donnie could take care of an errand which took a little while. When he was done, we drove over one of the bridges that span across the bridge heading from the Oakland area to San Francisco. We stopped on the other side of the bridge (which smelled very bad while driving over.) We got our first glimpses of the city from there.



Even though we didn’t get to see a game at AT&T park where the San Fransisco Giants play, we still got to drive by the park and see where they play. It looked like a beautiful stadium from the outside.


We walked around a little bit of the downtown area near the water for an hour and went into the Ferry building.



We then headed over to Uncle Billy and Aunt Olga’s place. Uncle Billy had made some soup and we had that shortly after arriving at their house. It was really good and he claimed that he just used a little bit of this and a little bit of that and came up with it that day. I liked it a lot and ended up eating three bowls of it with a couple of rolls to go a long with it. I didn’t realize that he was also going to fry up some chicken. So after a brief pause after the round of soup Uncle Billy fried up some really good chicken, and that was all I could eat then. We took a little time to let the food digest before they took me on a drive around the area to get a better feel for the cities.

They first took me up near Berkeley to get a view of the cities below. You couldn’t see something like that in the Midwest that is for sure. We got to see the two cities stretched out before us from an eagle eye view.


The bay area was covered in a slight fog and off in the distance you could see the Golden Gate bridge.


We then drove over the Bay Bridge to downtown San Francisco. Recently part of the Bay Bridge was rebuilt and they are in the process of tearing out the old bridge.


After seeing a bit of the downtown we went over and saw the famous Golden Gate bridge. We got to drive over on it, stop and see it from ground level and then from up on a hill above. So I got pictures from several different angles.


We then headed back to Oakland, but on the way drove down the winding street on Lombard and through Fisherman’s Warf. By that time everyone was pretty tired and we called it a night.

June 17th – Oakland


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We got up this morning planning on driving up Highway 1 to Oakland to see an Athletic’s game. That didn’t quite happen. Donnie spent a couple hours trying to figure out something for a summer class that he is taking and we got a late start. We ended up leaving closer to 11 compared to the 9:30 that we were hoping for.

The drive over on Highway 101 to the coast was pretty, and a lot more of how I pictured Southern California. Seeing the ocean as we drove was a welcome sight, since it was the most water I had seen since Lake Michigan.



The first part of Highway 1 took us through small towns and we were just crawling along up toward Oakland. After a couple of hours, it was very evident we weren’t going to be able to drive 1 all the way up unless we wanted to miss most of the game. So we switched over to 101 which was much quicker and after a couple hours we got to our hotel about 5:30.


We grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed over to the park. It was Free Parking Tuesdays, which was nice so we didn’t have to pay for parking and were close to the coliseum. Image

The A’s share the Oakland Raiders who play football, so the stadium has an odd shape to it. The upper deck was closed off and had tarps over all the seats. Since the top deck was closed off it made the stadium smaller which seemed to give the stadium a minor league field. It reminded me of the minor league park in Indianapolis that the Indianapolis Indians play at, where I had gone with Miles.


The game was a lot of fun. Yu Darvish pitched for the Texas Rangers, so it seemed like it might be a low scoring game. But the A’s managed to get to him early and scored often. My favorite player for the A’s is their catcher Derrick Norris, primarily because of his awesome facial hair. (See below.)


Unfortunately though he wasn’t starting tonight which bummed me out.  But in the 6th inning with two man on board, Norris came up to pinch hit and hit a homerun. He stayed in the game and hit a two run double later on in the 8th inning too. 2-2, with a homerun, double and 5 RBIs isn’t too shabby for a guy that didn’t start. So the game as a whole was a blast as the hometown A’s won 10-6.

170 173 183 192When we got back to the hotel, we found out that the hot and cold for the shower were piped in backwards. Which didn’t completely shock us. On our trip 3 out of the 4 hotels that we stayed at, had the hot and cold backwards.


June 16th – L.A.

We had planned on going to downtown L.A. today, but downtown L.A. had other plans. We had planned on getting an early start to the day, but Donnie had somethings that he had to take care of which delayed our trip by about two hours. That meant we ended up leaving closer to 11 instead of 9.

We tried taking the Metro downtown, but there was absolutely no where to park because the L.A. Kings had their championship parade that day, which turned downtown was an absolute zoo. We decided to not fight the crowds and not have to watch the Kings hoist Lord Stanley’s cup and chose to go see Hollywood instead.

ImageSince we didn’t know any better, we went to Hollywood Boulevard, since that in the famous Hollywood street that we have heard about. Apparently there are nicer and more interesting parts of Hollywood to see now. The part that we saw was pretty old and run down, the street was lined with shops most selling cheap souvenirs at inflated prices, tattoo parlors, or selling other useless garbage. I didn’t find it too be impressive at all. But we did get to see the Hollywood starts and the Chinese Theater with handprints, which was pretty cool.

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After we walked around the downtown for a little bit longer, we stopped for lunch at a little local place. The honey BBQ wings were good, but all the coverage of the Kings parade on TV was really annoying. After lunch we headed back to our temporary home to wait for Donnie’s friend to get off work.


That evening we were headed over to see a Dodger game. I was pretty excited to see Dodger Stadium. We had pretty good seats, and it was a great game. The stadium was really nice and a fun place to watch a game. The weather was a touch cool, but it was almost perfect. The Dodgers ended up winning 6-1 and Brian Wilson pitched which was a lot of fun to see. He only faced one batter but struck him out looking and GOT HEEEEEM!!! (Please see the following video if you would like to understand the reference.

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After the game we went downtown to have a late dinner and got to see a bit of the city. Most of the pictures that I tried taking of the city were bury because we were driving but we did go past the Walt Disney Concert Hall which was designed by Frank Gehry. It is a very impressive building and probably wasn’t easy to build.


That was it for the night, we headed back very tired and went to bed.

June 15th – Hoover Dam


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I’m a little behind on my blog and I have no reason to be, since I’ve had internet access pretty much everyday. So I am going to try and catch you up.

Sunday morning we got up and checked out of our hotel and headed over to Hoover Dam. We were about an hour drive away from the dam, so it was a nice short little drive over. We got to the dam and it was very impressive site.

We got tickets to go on the dam tour at 1:00 pm, so we had a little time to go see the visitors center and exhibits. Donnie and I were geeking out pretty good while we were there. The engineer in us that had lay somewhat dormant since leaving Milwaukee woke up again. I really enjoyed reading about how the dam was built, it was pretty impressive what they were able to accomplish in such a short amount of time. They were able to build the dam in 5 years, 2 years ahead of schedule. It took them shorter to build the dam back in the 1930’s then it took for a nearby bridge that was built in the last 15 years. Image


It was not easy trying to get a picture of the whole dam in one shot.


The tour through the dam was very interesting and Donnie and I definitely asked the most questions on the tour. I was the first one on the tour to ask about the mechanical systems surprisingly.


The above picture is a pipe that carries water from Lake Mead held behind the dam to the generators to create electricity and then let’s the water continue on downstream. The picture below is a picture of the generators on the Nevada side of the dam.


We then got to walk out through an airshaft to look out on the dam through a louver in the dam. It was a very interesting and unique view of the dam.




There were a set of stairs that went all the way up and down the dam. After finishing up with the Grand Canyon about a day and a half before, I wasn’t too excited to go try them out. Fortunately we didn’t have to since the elevators worked on the way out.


After the tour, we walked around for a little bit, drove over the dam, drove back over the dam (since that wasn’t the way we wanted to go) and headed for California. It didn’t take very long to get to the California/Nevada border, but once we got there we ran into a lot of traffic.


There was heavy traffic, which was sometimes stop and go for about 100 miles into California until we got past some sort of inspection station. After that we started to pick up speed and got to Los Angeles about 9. Donnie’s friend and roommmate who we were going to stay with were both very nice. After we visited with them for a while and did a laundry, we were exhausted and ready for bed.

June 14th – Day of Rest

After yesterday’s fun, Donnie and I had decided to get two nights of sleep in a real bed. I woke up this morning thinking that we really must have slept in because I had gotten so much sleep. I couldn’t understand why my clock said it was 8:30 until I realized that a 9 pm bedtime means I still got 11.5 hours of sleep.

We didn’t do much today other then make a quick run to the store for food. Watched a couple cartoon movies and an X-Men movie on the telly. But basically it was just a day to rest, relax and do a little blogging. Hope everyone had a very enjoyable Saturday.

I did talk to my dad today and found out my brother Miles got thrown out of a baseball game which was funny.

Tomorrow we are going to see Hoover Dam and then heading to L.A.

June 13th – Friday the 13th Fullmoon Hike

Something that I forgot to mention in my last post was about our plans for day two. We both agreed that the 7 mile hike that we had for day one of the Grand Canyon was pretty easy and then we didn’t have much to do for the rest of the day. So we decided that instead of hiking 7 more miles, spending another night in the canyon and then hiking out the next day, just to do it all in one day. So we had a 14 mile hike a head of us that would climb in elevation more the a mile. We also needed to get an early start to avoid the heat.

The alarm went off at 2:30 am and we were up and on the trail after filling up with water by 3. By 3:01 I was sweating. It was very warm in the canyon where we were hiking, so I was thankful we were starting as early as we did. The moon was so bright that until we got around a corner in a canyon we didn’t even need to use our headlights.


The first 7 miles that we had to hike for the day were not bad at all. We were only going up 1500 feet over the course of those 7 miles so there hardly any elevation change. The canyons were really neat to see at night and I am happy we got to do a night hike there. Unfortunately, even though it was easy to see I couldn’t get a picture of them until the sun started coming up. This seven miles of hiking is down in what is called the box. It stayed very warm down there for the first 5 miles of it until we started getting a little higher. By the time we finished those 7 miles at the next campsite where we would have spend the night, it was 6 in the morning, the sun had been up for about an hour but it was significantly cooler then further down at our campsite where we slept.




The views were really pretty for the first leg of our journey and for the first part of the second leg, and then I just got tired. Even though it sounded like a lot of fun, hiking 14 miles with a heavy pack hiking uphill wasn’t as fun as it is made out to be even. So if anyone else is thinking about it, take a second and think a little harder. I won’t talk too much about that last part especially the last three miles, other then it was hard. I will just show some awesome pictures.


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By the time I got near the end of my trek up this insanely tall mountain, I was getting a little irritable. I was very tired, I had a deodorant that had melted in one pocket of my backpack, a piece of cake (from the night before) that had melted in another, so I sat down to take a rest. We had gotten up into the woods by this point in time and the trail was pretty step. As I sat down on a rock I suddenly heard a noise behind me in the woods. As I turned to see what it was, I saw my water bottle tumbling down the hill in the woods. It fell down about 40 feet and disappeared in a very steep part. I was a little frustrated and about to just leave it, when I caught a glimpse of it. So I had to climb down there and get it.

When I finally got to the top of the hill after the 14 miles, the first sign I see is one saying I am a mile away from where our car is parked. So that added another 1.3 miles on to the trip.

We got out of Grand Canyon National Park totally exhausted and headed for the nearest hotel, 4.5 miles away in Nevada. We stopped for gas at what turned out to be a full service station and didn’t know what to do. I went ahead and still pumped the gas, but the guy washed our windows. We also stopped at an In ‘N Out for a burger.

We got to our hotel and were asleep before 9 after a very long day.