Friday, May 25, 2012

A Collage of Memories and a Snake

I'm getting used to these occasional Thursdays off, especially when I get to spend them wholly with my wife. Yesterday was one of those and after getting the girls off to school and a much-needed haircut, we headed on down to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park for our first trail run in well over a month. Before that, though, I worked on a photo collage for my Facebook page which I've been dreaming up for awhile. With Memorial Day weekend upon us, I wanted to share a bunch of photos at once that mean a lot to me. 
I'll give you the quick run-down here: from top left, that's me in my Summer Whites. I love that uniform and don't get to wear it often but I will be on Monday when I sit as a judge at my small town's Memorial Day parade. The next one is a framed print from my former boss at work. If you were to see it close, each tiny square is from 9/11. The next one is obvious...the new ink on my right calf. :-) The next is me with Mark Z. at WCRF, 103.3FM in Cleveland just after my return home in November 2011. I was in the studio on the air all morning talking about the deployment and returning home. He had his "Don't Tread on Me" flag ready in the studio! The next is my folded flag in its display case in my living room. That flag was flown in honor of my family over the skies of Afghanistan in June 2011 aboard a F-15E Strike Eagle on a combat mission. The next one working clockwise is my brother and I after a recent trail run. Him and his family have been HUGE supporters of my entire family both throughout my deployment and since my return. I'm eternally grateful and so is my family! The next is me standing atop one of those F-15E Strike Eagles at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan. Next is self-explanatory and is an excellent representation of the joint service that my wife and I perform as we serve. Lastly, that photo was taken at the 101st Airborne headquarters at Bagram Air Field. The Sergeant First Class with me was heading home and she stopped by for a photo while saying goodbye. I worked closely with her in bringing supplies in country to the troops. She had a really tough deployment and had just lost a soldier only a few days earlier.

Once we showed up at the trails, the hour was closing in on lunch already and the heat was up to 80F and climbing. We were on shaded trails, though, and it was super dry. Marjie's ankle has been doing much better lately since her fall a month ago so it was finally time to give some technical trail a shot. She did great! There was a short pause, though, about 1.5 miles in. See below for the reason.
OK, there is one thing on Planet Earth that I don't play well with. You're looking at it! I just yelled "Stop!" and she didn't know what we had to stop for as she didn't see it. My speech was mute...I simply pointed. Just to be clear and give perspective here...that thing is at least 3-4 feet long! NO THANK YOU!!! I don't even like cheap, plastic, fake 2 inch snakes. A live, slithering snake going across the trail I'm running down doesn't sit well. To say my heart raced is an understatement! Once I snapped a photo (a must!) and it left the trail off to the right, we kept going. On our return trip wrapping up our 8.3 mile run, a garter snake zipped across in front of us. I didn't see it but she did and this time, SHE was startled and jumped when she saw it...she almost stepped right on it. In the end, we had a great trail run and a breezy patio lunch at the nearby Chick-Fil-A. Love that homemade lemonade and Chick-Fil-A Sauce for dipping!

I'm really looking forward to the upcoming weekend. Lots of miles, lots of family time, and a day to honor those who have worn the uniform before me. To boot, the mercury is heading into the 90s!

Have a great Memorial Day weekend everyone and keep flying Old Glory high!

Happy Trails!

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