In which we start a New Year

Welcome 2014! We spent the past week ringing in the new year with Jeff’s parents in Pittsburgh. I think the sign of a good trip is that you were too busy visiting to take that many pictures, but here are some from our trip:

Paul and Fran's high school senior year portraits.

Paul and Fran’s high school senior year portraits.

Jeff's parent's wedding photos.

Jeff’s parent’s wedding photos.

A couple of times in college and dental school I went to Pittsburgh to celebrate New Year’s with Jeff and his high school friends. This year was like an adult repeat version of all those fun times. Joe and Jess graciously hosted us at their new home – it’s fun to know grown ups our own age!

Ringing in the New Year and Jess and Joe's new house.

Ringing in the New Year and Jess and Joe’s new house.

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Lauren, Molly, Joe, myself and Jessica

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Blinging in the new year

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Lauren, Molly, myself and Jessic

We also got to visit with Jeff's Aunt Joyce and Uncle Bill on New Year's Day. It was so much fun to catch up with y'all!

We also got to visit with Jeff’s Aunt Joyce and Uncle Bill on New Year’s Day. It was so much fun to catch up with y’all!

Jeff and I and his parents

Jeff and I and his parents

All too soon it was time to leave. This is what it looked like when we got to the Pittsburgh airport at 7:00am...

All too soon it was time to leave. This is what it looked like when we got to the Pittsburgh airport at 7:00am…

… and this is how much it had snowed by the time we were boarding our 9:30am flight. Fortunately we weren't connecting in Chicago, but the Hercules storm messed up flights all over the country!

… and this is how much it had snowed by the time we were boarding our 9:30am flight. Fortunately we weren’t connecting in Chicago, but the Hercules storm messed up flights all over the country!

Flying into Denver. Nice to see the snow capped Rockies in the distance. Note the blue sky - the weather there was great, but the Hercules snowpocalypse had wreaked havoc on the other planes' schedules so we were delayed six hours here.

Flying into Denver. Nice to see the snow capped Rockies in the distance. Note the blue sky – the weather there was great, but the Hercules snowpocalypse had wreaked havoc on the other planes’ schedules so we were delayed six hours here.

Our unexpected six hour delay gave me time to go through security into baggage claim to see some conspiracy theorist murals I’d read about. This is a good article (with some better pictures) on the theory that the Denver airport houses an underground bunker to house the New World Order in case of economic collapse or all out warfare. I’m not really into conspiracy theories, but a lot of the Denver airport doesn’t add up: It was finished 2 years late and $3.1 billion dollars over the initial $1.7 billion budget. They buried 5 buildings that had been “positioned incorrectly” rather than destroy them. Oh, and Denver had a perfectly good airport at Stapleton before all this that was closer to town (this airport is a 45 minute drive away, a fact that Jeff and I were pissed at because had it been closer or had good public transit we could’ve gone downtown for a beer and thus added another state to our checklist. Being in the airport doesn’t count).

The murals start with biological warfare destroying the planet.

The murals start with biological warfare destroying the planet.

Fire and brimstone and destruction. Oh, but we're going to preserve the penguins, sweet!

Fire and brimstone and destruction. Oh, but we’re going to preserve the penguins, sweet!

But it's okay, because this German boy is going to bring peace to the world's children.

But it’s okay, because this German boy is going to bring peace to the world’s children.

Indian and Pakistan are going to get along too. (Not pictured: Israel and Iran working together on the other side). Lolz.

Indian and Pakistan are going to get along too. (Not pictured: Israel and Iran working together on the other side). Lolz.

And then the final mural with peace in the Garden of Eden. The story these tell is basically of a horrific mass genocide, followed by a more peaceful, less populated world.

And then the final mural with peace in the Garden of Eden. The story these tell is basically of a horrific mass genocide, followed by a more peaceful, less populated world.

Also, the decorations above each of the train stations between the terminals look reminiscent of the Star Wars' stone temple set of Episode IV. All in all: You're so weird, Denver airport!

Also, the decorations above each of the train stations between the terminals look reminiscent of the Star Wars’ stone temple set of Episode IV. All in all: You’re so weird, Denver airport!

So I came back through security to wait another five hours at our gate.

So I came back through security to wait another five hours at our gate.

Watching Parks and Rec and the sunset seemed safer than wandering into some secret underground bunker, never to return. No thanks.

Watching Parks and Rec and the sunset seemed safer than wandering into some secret underground bunker, never to return. No thanks.

We made it back to Seattle 17 hours after starting our journey and minus one bag. It’s the first time I’ve checked my luggage in probably five years.. and so that serves me right. Lesson learned. All in all it really was a great trip and now we’re ready to start the new year and the new school quarter with no real resolutions, because everyday should be a new day.

 

In which we visited Pittsburgh!

When I sat down to think about it, I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve visited my “in-laws”. Jeff’s been back to Pittsburgh for a few of his friends’ weddings last summer, but I’ve been stuck in residency and Pennsylvania was way out of the way for our coast to coast road trip. The holidays saw me taking call and us not wanting to brave the airports during the crazy holiday travel time and so here we are, a year and a few months after the wedding, and finally getting together!

Our flight on Thursday morning from Seattle was delayed for a maintenance issue which meant that we missed our connection in Chicago. Unfortunately this meant that the 45 minute layover turned into 8 hours.. ugh! But we utilized our time wisely to watch some March Madness:

IMG_1536In the Chicago Midway airport there is a very small Terminal C which has about 3 gates. Normally it’s quite empty so you can spread out, find a plug and set up camp if you’re there for too long. You’re welcome if you’re laid over there for an extended period of time. Thank you last year’s interview season for helping me find this spot. Please don’t let the secret get out.

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We never check bags anymore because of our rotten luck in airports.

Unfortunately because of the delay we lost almost an entire day of an already short trip. Ugh! But we tried to make the most of our next few days with lots of basketball watching, setting up Jeff’s parents’ new computer and eating delicious home cooked prime rib. On Saturday we headed first to Washington, PA to indulge in some Shorty’s:

Shorty's storefront

Shorty’s storefrontHotdog and hamburger with the special chili, mustard and onions and a large fries with gravy. Total cost: $4.05

Hotdog and hamburger with the special chili, mustard and onions and a large fries with gravy. Total cost: $4.05
Shorty's Menu(picture form HollyEats.com)

Shorty’s Menu
(picture form HollyEats.com)

Lunch counter

Lunch counter

This is the place that I fell in love with fries and gravy – so good! Jeff’s dad Paul has been going here for over 50 years and says the place hasn’t changed a bit. I don’t think we’ve ever spent more than 10 total minutes inside, including ordering, eating and paying – it’s the original fast food. Last time Jeff and I were driving through PA we stopped, but it wasn’t open and I’ve been disappointed for the last two years – glad we got a taste of it this time around!

We continued on south to go to the dog track to bet on the greyhound races at Wheeling Island. I’ve been several times with Jeff and his family and they’re pretty good at it, but I’ve always been terrible. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun to look at the names and watch the dogs (did you know that Saturday was also National Puppy Day??), but I do not have the handicapping ability that comes with years of practice.

Jeff studying the program to pick the best dogs

Jeff studying the program to pick the best dogs

Jeff and his dad waiting for the winners to be announced

Jeff’s dad started off the first race winning a big trifecta! I just circled random things in my booklet like I knew what I was doing: IMG_1548

To be fair, I’ve learned a lot in all our trips down there – I actually know now what a quinella and a trifecta mean and I can at least read what all the little numbers in the book mean after warming up on a couple of races. But usually I just give the track money. But then it happened! I looked at my trifecta ticket and the first two numbers matched first and second place, but third was contested and they had to go a photo finish:

IMG_1555By a nose #6 was third!! And it was the largest trifecta payout of the day! Whoo! I can see why people can get into this gambling thing 🙂 We all had a great day with the dogs, minus Jeff, but he makes a very cute anchor.

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We caught up with Jason, Jeff’s best man for dinner and a few beers later that evening. He’s finishing up his PhD in Economics at Carnegie Mellon and we tried to convince him to move out to Seattle, but I don’t think he was buying it. Good luck with the final parts of your thesis and come visit!

Jeff and Jason

Jeff and Jason – sorry for the blurriness, my phone was dying from checking my March Madness bracket too many times

And then this morning, it all came to a much too fast close and we headed back to the airport. Thanks for the wonderful trip Paul and Mary Fran! And thanks for my birthday presents – I read half of the book on the plane back! Can’t wait to see you all again (hopefully soon)!

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Fortunately no unexpectedly long layovers on the way back, but still plenty of time to catch up on March Madness:

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And we made it back to a gorgeous Seattle spring day in time to catch Duke’s win over Creighton (the only advantage of a 9:40pm east coast start time). Good job Devils – sweet sixteen bound!

Unconsciously we both wore plaid flannel shirts this morning. We totally fit in on the plane full of people clad in flannels and outdoor gear - a dead giveaway that the plane was headed to the Pacific Northwest.

Unconsciously we both wore plaid flannel shirts this morning. We totally fit in on the plane full of people clad in similar shirts and outdoor gear – a dead giveaway that the plane was headed to the Pacific Northwest.