Project WABL

WABL

Last month I finished my second marathon (blog post coming soon about that) and celebrated by immediately heading back to Redmond for the Washington Brewers Festival at Marymoor Park. This is one of my favorite events of the year and even though I was slightly delirious from the 26.2 miles I had just ran that morning, it was an absolute blast!

One of my favorite parts of the festival is that is serves as my annual reminder to renew my Washington Beer Lovers membership. Doing so at the festival gets me an extra two tokens, a larger tasting glass and of course my annual shirt. I love my collection of WABL shirts, especially since they print the name of each and every brewery in the state on the back of each edition. Laid out side by side, I have a pretty amazing visual guide to the explosion of WA beer over the last 8 years!

Every year I also receive a WABL passport, a small printed book meant to be toted around throughout the year, stamped at each WA brewery I visit and then redeemed for prizes at the next festival. Quite frankly, I love this idea (those of you who remember my Foursquare days are shocked by this, I know) but have only actually remembered to take my passport to a handful of breweries throughout the years, and only about half of the time did my server at the brewery know what the heck I was talking about. This year, however, the passports have finally gone digital! Now I can “stamp” my passport through the Washington Beer app as long as the GPS in my phone recognizes that I am at the brewery. So much easier!!

With this new found convenience, I am on a mission to collect all the stamps I can get my hands on. I visit a good deal of breweries each year already, but this adds a little more fun to it! I also figure, why not share the experience here on the blog? The people and places that make up the WA beer community have been a big part of my life since coming to Seattle, I would love to get a little of that experience written down! Plus, I share the beers I am drinking on Untappd and Twitter, but sharing the experiences at these places and the friends I share them with is tough to get into 140 characters! So be on the lookout for updates on #projectWABL and if there is a brewery I haven’t mentioned yet, let me know about it!

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Live Your Best Life

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I love this picture of the kiddo. After some time hanging out by the pool, dancing to the live music and exploring the upper decks of the cruise ship, she had worked up a well deserved hunger. Unlimited pizza is one of the benefits of vacations at sea and she was not going to miss out. Of course, if you are going to provide unlimited pizza to a cruise ship full of people, those are going to be some big pies and that means LOOOOONG slices. Those basic rules of the world are how I captured this image, one that bears a striking resemblance to SeaWorld trainers rewarding an orca with a salmon after performing a particularly difficult trick in the main pool.

Not only does this picture still make me laugh, it makes me think too. When you’re a kid, life is simple. You don’t worry about the future, you don’t care what others think of you and you’re generally just looking to have fun with the people you love. And when you are faced with a delicious, greasy piece of pizza you don’t worry about calories or carbs or even napkins. You just grab the slice and do what you have to do to get it in your mouth so you can move on the next awesome thing that comes to mind! Good life lesson there….

Also, this image is saved in a file I keep call “For High School Graduation Party B Roll” ūüėČ

Back to Blogging

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Sometimes strange circumstances lead to big realizations. For me, it was a failure of technology that lead me back to a desire to blog, something I haven’t done since shuttering my social media marketing firm just after the birth of my daughter. My return to this site was brought about by a fairly impulsive purchase of $15 earbuds. These ultra-cheap bluetooth earbuds died on me during the first mile of a recent 15 mile run and left me all alone with my thoughts (rather than my usual mix of political podcasts that I usually run with). Believe me when I say¬†two hours of trying REALLY hard to not listen to your own breathing gives you a lot of time to think about nearly every topic under the sun.¬†One thought that I kept circling back to was how much my life has changed over the last two years and what that has and has not meant for me. In so many ways I am happier and healthier than I have ever been, yet I still find myself struggling to remember and appreciate how far I’ve come. I still occasionally find myself back in all too familiar circles of self-pity and loneliness. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I need to do more to celebrate and embrace the changes I’ve made and to find a space that better suites the new me I’ve worked so hard to become. In that spirit, I am back to blogging. Back to putting ideas to text and sharing it with friends, family and total strangers! My goal is to make this blog a place to share updates about my life as a runner, a Dad and Husband, an aspiring Iron Chef and just the general goodness of this life I’ve built out in the Seattle burbs.

If you read my last post (July 2016) you’ll know that I have gone through a pretty major life transition. But just to catch you up, I left the life of retail management in 2015 to spend more time with my family, pursue things I enjoyed outside of beer and to get healthier. After several months away from work all together and a temporary gig working with a beer distributor, ¬†I spent 2016 working for Dish Network as an Account Manager. This meant someone paid me to drive all over Washington amd work with independent business owners to increase their business selling Dish Network services. I never developed a passion for the industry but I met some amazing people and got to see places in this state I would have never visited otherwise. Then, in January of 2017, I joined Mosaic Marketing as an Account Manager for Microsoft (thus fulfilling my destiny as a Sammamish resident). I now work from the Redmond campus, helping lead a team of field reps to build and drive the Microsoft brand in various retail environments across the country. I am still the new guy on the team, but it is interesting work and being on campus at Microsoft is still a pretty big thrill. The best part is that I enjoy what I do and when the day is done I am able to disconnect from work and concentrate my time on everything else in life that is important.

I have connected with my daughter in ways that would have been impossible while working retail. I make her breakfast every morning, am home every evening and we know I will be available for any adventure on the weekends. To some this sounds like a pretty normal setup, but those who have worked retail understand how exciting this is for me! It has also made running and staying in shape so much easier. As I predicted last year, I have continued to train for and complete in long distance races. In addition to training for the upcoming Seattle Rock ‘N’ Roll marathon, I also ran a half marathon in Phoenix this January and have 2 half marathons scheduled in Seattle this summer, followed by a 10k and half marathon at Disneyland(!!!!) and the Seattle Marathon (half) in November. We also just returned from a very relaxing family vacation with my parents and sister where we cruised from LA to Cabo San Lucas for 5 days. I am also convinced that this is the summer that I get the kiddo out camping and I will get more use out my kayak, the S.S. Cheap Beer (long story). Again, getting time to travel and enjoy time with the family has been a welcome change in my life and one I am extremely grateful for.

My life is not perfect, and I don’t plan to pretend that it is just for a blog that who knows if anyone will read. But I do want to pass along some of the knowledge I have gained over the last two years. I have also met so many amazing people through their own blogs and learned from their words that I am hoping to connect with even more Dads, runners, home cooks, PNWers, beer geeks and other kindred spirits! I don’t know how often I will post, but it won’t be another year before I am back.

My Obligatory Narcissistic and Self-Congratulatory Blog Post

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In case you missed my social media information flood,¬†I recently ran my first marathon! Depending on how long you’ve known me and how long its been since you’ve seen my in person this is either a fun fact, mind blowing or some where in between. In any case, I figure I should tell the story of how this happened.

I have not always been a runner, I grew up playing team sports where on a good day running was part of “training” but it was usually just punishment for some sort of failure. Things changed in January of 2015, after years of struggling with fitness and my weight (a realizing that my daughter was only going to get faster and more active) I decided I would once again try to get in shape and make myself happier.

When I first moved to Seattle, the combination of amazing fresh foods and a walk/bike lifestyle had helped me drop serious pounds (that I gained back and then some a year or so later) without feeling like I was “on a diet” so I figured I could do the same thing again. Plus, I knew from experience that I wouldn’t stick with any of the self-denial plans (low-carb, no-carb, paleo, etc) plans out there. So I just tried to eat a little less, make smarter choices and move a little more. After a couple of months people around me started to notice these changes and the positive feedback felt great so I kept it up. And a funny thing happened, as I started to feel genuinely happier and started looking for other ways to increase that¬†happiness.

Right around this time last year I was struggling at work, realizing that for all that I loved about my job the complete lack of work/life balance was making life impossible for me and my family. After struggling for quite a while, Krystal and I figured out a plan that allowed me to leave my job and take some time off to recharge, refocus and (most importantly) not force us into homelessness. It was a little scary to leave a job I had worked so hard at, but looking back it was the best decision I could have made.

Soon I had nothing but free time and I knew I needed to make the most of it. I wanted to keep losing weight and feel healthier. Plus I was living in a beautiful area, surrounded by well maintained trails and miles of shoreline to run along so I gave it a shot. I downloaded RunKeeper and some podcasts and started awkwardly shuffling down the road.

My initial goal was survive the Seattle Half Marathon in November of 2015. A friend of mine who had similar history had run the race a few years back and it always stuck in my mind as a benchmark of success. So I downloaded a¬†training plan for running a first half marathon and got to work. It wasn’t always pretty or fun but I worked hard and by the time Thanksgiving weekend came along, I was ready and ran a pretty respectable race. Incredibly, as I came over the bridge over I5 and made the final stretch to Memorial Stadium, I knew I wanted to do it again.

That is how I allowed myself to be talked into registering for the Seattle Rock ‘n Roll Marathon. Again I was hitting the road on a training plan, and while I didn’t quite hit the time I had hoped, I am officially a marathoner now! What is amazing to me, sitting here after losing more that 60lbs in the last 18 months and finishing a race I never believed I could is that

1) I want to run more races and

2) I don’t feel all that different.

Every blog post I’ve read about losing weight and running marathons focus on what life changing events each of these are but honestly while I am proud and happy about the changes I’ve made, I don’t feel like a different person or have a profound new outlook on life. I am just healthier and happier and ready for more.

So in addition to all the pictures I post online of Taylor, cool beers and trees you can expect to see more posts of me training for some run or another and hopefully faster and better finishes in more races!

 

 

Life in the ‘burbs

 

It has been a long time since I’ve written anything, so let me catch you up. After years of living a boring life in Arizona, Krystal finished her graduate program at ASU and we packed up and moved to Seattle. We spent a year living in an incredible (expensive) 1 bedroom apartment in Belltown and completely fell in love with this city. But after a year of the tech bros in our building assuming we were just there as a dog walker, we found our community in Ballard.

In Ballard we found exactly where we were supposed to be. We rented a great house built in the early 1900’s and got involved in community events and made some amazing friends. Apparently it was so good that our life long decision to never procreate went out the window and in 2012 Taylor was born!!

Of course, having a kid changes everything and Krystal soon found a great internship opportunity back in Arizona that would be a big boost to her career and would let us live near family again, which seemed really important with an infant in the house. So once again we packed it all up and moved back to the desert and Tempe. 11 months later, we realized that we knew exactly where we wanted to be and where we wanted to raise our kid and it just wasn’t Arizona. We were headed back to Washington.

Luckily I was able to transfer my job again and Krystal found a great job in Bellevue. This meant that while we were back in WA, but we were now living on the Eastside- in Redmond.

For the first year in Redmond, the joy of being back in Washington was enough to keep us happy, but soon all the negatives of Eastside life became all too real. It was time to move on and find our family home.

The real estate reality of Seattle in 2015 meant that if we wanted to find a home, with space for a kid and 3 dogs near a school we felt good about sending Taylor to in a couple of years, we were priced out of our beloved Seattle. But as we looked around the region, we found exactly what we wanted as we moved a little further east, we found Sammamish.

There is no doubt that we are in the burbs, but we are surrounded by economic refugees of Seattle. Families that, given the opportunity, would be back in Ballard or Beacon Hill or Wallingford tomorrow but that made the conscious choice to avoid the insular world of Bellevue and Redmond and are instead creating a unique community east of the Eastside. We drive a little more out here and the restaurant scene leaves a lot to be desired, but the neighbors are warm and welcoming, Taylor is surrounded by kids her age that are being raised with similar values and we are surrounded by absolutely stunning surroundings.

If you could tell the 2011 version of me that I would be happy to sign over the next 15 years of my life to living in Sammamish, he’d need a map to find it and then laugh you out of the room. But here I am, excited for the future with my family and ready to continue exploring the Northwest (Seattle and beyond) with Krystal and Taylor!

 

 

 

Unemployment

As of this afternoon, I am unemployed (at least until Tuesday morning)!! After 5 long years of working for OfficeMax, I am finally moving on. Monday morning I will be flying down to Phoenix to start training for my new job as a beer manager for Total Wine and More. While this is still a retail job, I will now be spending my days talking and selling beer rather than office supplies! And since the liquor industry is basically new to the state of Washington, I am really excited about the possibilities associated with this new move!

For the next four weeks I will be training in Arizona. Luckily with Krystal still on¬†maternity leave, we are all going down together. It isn’t going to be easy leaving our lives in Seattle for a month (not to mention our dogs) but we are really looking forward to seeing our family down there and giving Taylor more time with her grandparents!

I will continue to work on my social media company, Hackmeister Marketing but in all honesty, I am really looking forward to actually enjoying my day job!

 

5 Weeks

I can’t believe Taylor is now 5 weeks old! I promise to backfill the blog with stories from the last month and a half of our lives, but I figured it would be easier to give a current update and then fill in the rest later.

Today we had two different doctor’s appointments. The first was a 5 week check up with her regular doctor, who was amazed at how quickly Taylor was growing. She is now 6lbs 12oz and is above the 50th percentile in height and weight for her gestational age! She also had a hearing test that she passed with flying colors.

Now we are just scrambling to get ready for our big trip to Arizona. I am starting a new job that will require me to train in Phoenix for four weeks, so the three of us are flying out Monday! It wasn’t an easy decision to leave Seattle, and the dogs, for a month. But being away from Krystal and Taylor for a month really wasn’t an option and it will be great to see our families there and give them some time with Taylor!!¬†Image

Again, I promise to update this blog more, I should have more time with all the babysitters we’ll have in Phoenix!¬†

Thank you so much for all the love and support we have received from everyone during the last several weeks. It hasn’t gone according to plan at all, but we couldn’t be happier with our little girl and the wonderful group of people she has in her life!!¬†

Travel Lust

I have been hard at work this Sunday morning, making sure that all the work I normally do over the span of a week is done, prepped and ready to go by Thursday. Why am I doing this? Because I am leaving town for Memorial Day weekend!! Going through the prep of leaving town got me thinking about how much traveling I have been doing lately. So far in 2012 I’ve been down to Phoenix twice, New York, Vancouver several times and Whistler. For someone who loves to travel, but doen’t get to as much as I would like, this has a great stretch of mobility.

As long as Krystal and I have been together we have found new places to visit and trips to take. I guess I am getting old, but I am starting to think about how I travel, and what I get out of all of this travel. It is not cheap, but I would not give it up for the world. I do need to get more out of my investment though. I am realizing how few pictures I take when I am on vacation. I am great at getting pictures of buildings and street scenes, but I can be on a weeklong trip and return home without ever getting a picture with me in the frame. I am also great about researching local hotspots and knowing the local geography and history, but I am horrible at actually talking to and meeting people in the places I visit. I resolve here and now to fix these flaws.

Soon, my traveling life will dramatically change. Taking off for a weekend in Vancouver is simple now, but by adding a baby to the mix- I am sure more planning will be required. The necessary logistical changes should be a good reminder for the other alterations I need to make to my traveling experience.

For now, I am researching places to go in San Francisco, knowing all well that my sister already has a plan of action for us. I am also thinking of good stories to blog about it the future. Given recent news, I think the next travel blog will be about the time I saw Donner Summer and Chaka Khan perform live in NYC….that’s a great story.

 

Another Blog About Why My Wife Is Awesome

So as most of you now know, Krystal and I are soon going to be parents!! We are both very excited and have been blown away by all the support and well wishes we have received since making the big announcement. Of course, this means I get to start another blog- you can follow Hackmeisters In Seattle to keep up to date with our adventures in pregnancy and parenthood! All being said, this post is not about the baby, it is about how incredibly cool my wife is and how she absolutely nailed one of the biggest moments in our lives.

First of all, most of you know that Krystal and I have been pretty vocal about never having children. We have been together since 1998 and have always agreed on this point. So when we decided, mutually, that we had changed our minds- it was a BIG deal. There are probably many reasons for this change of heart- the move to Seattle and the happiness that has brought, the relative financial¬†security¬†we have¬†established, the inevitable desire to reproduce that comes with age…but probably the biggest change has been watching our close friends enter parenthood and have a great time doing so. Billy, Julie, Tyler, Danielle, Garret, Katie, Raf and Katy- THANK YOU!

So, we decided that we wanted a baby. It was now just a matter of time….and then I left town.

As some of you know (or have read about), every year my Dad and I pick a different city to meet in and go to a hockey game. We have been to Denver for a Coyotes game and have seen the Canucks play in Chicago, Boston, Minnesota and this year, New Jersey. I was very excited about this trip, Krystal wasn’t thrilled about missing a Canucks game or about missing a trip to New York City, but all was well. And then, the morning before I left for Phoenix to meet up with my Dad, Krystal casually mentions that there is a possibility she is pregnant. We had only been trying for a month or two, so this came as a pretty good shock! Of course I was ready to run out and buy any and all at-home pregnancy tests available, but Krystal was convinced that it was too early and that if nothing changed, we would test when I got home the next week. So off I went on a trip I had been planning for months, with the idea of Krystal possibly being pregnant hanging over my head. Dad and I had a great time, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the huge, life changing event that could¬†possibly¬†be happening back in Seattle.

Of course this means that Krystal was still home in Seattle, with the same thoughts, but by herself. And after a few days, the pressure got to her and she decided to test. Of course, the test was positive- she was pregnant!! And, being the amazing person she is, she set out to tell me in the best way possible.

When I got off the plane in Seattle,¬†completely¬†nerve wrack by this point, the plan was for me to take the light rail downtown and meet Krystal for lunch. When I got to her office, she showed me her new cubicle and we decided where to go to lunch. Never did she give me any indication that she had big news for me. When we got to the¬†restaurant, we were seated and Krystal, very casually takes off her jacket to reveal….

This wasn’t taken that day, I have made her wear the shirt a few times since

The greatest shirt ever!! I nearly swallowed my¬†tongue at this point, but that is when my fatherhood experience began. Thank you Danielle for being there for Krystal when she found out, and for holding on to the shirt we got you for last year’s Canucks playoff run. Without you, this would be a much less interesting story!

Coming Home

I am writing this from Newark Airport, heading home after a weekend trip to New York and New Jersey with my dad. This was my first trip back to “the city” since the spring of 2001- so needless to say, a lot has changed.

I will never forget my first trip to NYC, I was absolutely awed by the city. Having grown up in small town Idaho and then living in Phoenix, I had never seen a city like this before. While my parents and sister did some of the more common tourist sites, I wanted nothing more that to wander the streets of midtown Manhattan, ride the subway and get lost in Central Park. That trip started my obsession with population density, public transportation and getting out of Phoenix ASAP- I was in love!

So when it came time to pick the city for our annual hockey road trip, I was thrilled when my dad suggested New Jersey. A good hockey city, what should be a good game, and a chance to get back to Manhattan.

The trip was a lot of fun. Our connection out of Chicago was a little delayed, but we got to Newark in plenty of time to check into the hotel and walk over to the Prudential Center, which is an amazing hockey building. We got a lot of weird looks, and a few jeers, from Devils fans- but mostly they were just surprised to see us and the other 150-200 Canucks fans in New Jersey. After the Canucks won, it was a very satisfying walk back to our hotel.

The next day, we were up early and on the first train out of New Jersey and into New York. We hit the streets hard and covered a lot of ground, walking through neighborhoods that I have been¬†fantasizing about for 10+ years. But it was different then I remembered. The streets weren’t as busy or small as I remembered. The people weren’t as otherworldly cool and fascinating. New York is still an¬†incredible¬†city- but now it seemed like a real place, not a dream.

After a few hours, I realized that part of the change was of course the natural passage of time, but more was that while I loved being in New York- I no longer longed to live there. It is a wonderful feeling knowing that I now live in a place I love and belong. While I may have the occasional urge to fill out that immigration paperwork to move up to Vancouver, I am a Seattleite and can’t imagine ever wanting to leave. For someone who spent most of my life planning and scheming for a way out of where I was, this is quite an accomplishment.

So, thanks Seattle for being the city that has embraced me and made me feel at home! I’m still in Newark, but I will be back soon!