Grand Canyon South Kaibab Trail


Click on the first picture to open the gallery in full size and scroll through them. We went at the perfect time – it was just cool enough that the hike back up, while not easy, was also not unbearably hot. I had water and Gatorade chews for both of us in my backpack which was completely consumed by the time we got back to the top. Any warmer and I would have had to pack more and probably stop more often on the climb back. Perfect way to get a quick taste of this Natural Wonder!

University of New Mexico Tour Day (LONG)


UNM Banner

Day 3 of our Spring Break Road Trip was the primary reason for traveling – a group tour at the University of New Mexico at 9am Friday and then a lunch meeting with the Lobos’ Rugby coach and some players.

UNM was the only school Alex ever considered in the US. By sheer stroke of luck we stumbled on it at a college fair in 10th grade and when the recruiter mentioned he could apply without writing an essay well, you can imagine that my math and science guy who loathes language classes was thrilled! Plus, we were told that even with a 2.5 GPA he would be accepted nearly instantly and with a decent ACT or SAT score, he would qualify for a scholarship granting him in state tuition rates (close to a $16k value per year). As a D1 NCAA sports school, he also knew it would provide him with the extra-curricular sports involvement and atmosphere he would crave. Combine that stroke of luck with his recent participation in Rugby and all of a sudden he is lined up to be able to play a sport in college! UNM Rugby had been relegated to club status the last year or two due to some previous year’s with a sketchy/corrupt coaching situation. However, timing being what it is, starting next year the new coach who we met will be bringing the club back to full D1 status. So – while we always though he might angle to play football in school – it turns out rugby will be his sports outlet. Coach Coco played while in college at Arizona and is clearly taking pride in cleaning up the program in Albuquerque. He’s a former scrum-half – also known as the 9 in rugby which is the position Alex has been playing. After watching some film that our high school club coach sent out, he was giving Alex pointers right there at lunch!

Wait – got ahead of myself. Anyway, Alex was accepted quickly, did get the instate scholarship and as soon as we knew going to Sweden for undergrad classes was not going to pan out, I scheduled this visit just to be sure he didn’t hate it.

He didn’t 🙂

Yes, the rugby connection helps a ton, but it was really a great 2 hour tour conducted by a current student. We saw a classroom which was surprisingly small. There are large lecture halls but apparently those are only used for a few general freshman classes. Most of the courses are taught in smaller groups. There’s free, pretty decent wireless internet everywhere on campus and tons of beautiful areas to gather, nap, study, nap, eat, nap…etc. Students can borrow laptops and tablets if they don’t have their own. They can print papers and homework to about 5 different printer centers on campus for a small fee, but our tour guide said his parents put $10 on his printing account and he didn’t even use the whole balance in a full year. So it is very high tech and it seems as if a student ID gains you just tons of access to services on campus. Of course there is a full service medical/dental office, but there is also a hospital a block away. The dorms looked great. They are pretty basic rooms of course, but again with the wireless and also cable TV service on site. Laundry facilities are free and huge in each building. There are security services on campus 24/7 to escort students around anytime they feel nervous about walking around at night alone. It’s a large campus, but also entirely walkable as we proved by walking from one end to the other twice while we were there!

It’s a high tech, modern campus that is over 100 years old set in a community that is deeply influenced by Native American culture. It’s just beautiful out there. It’s also dry, windy, and up in altitude at 5000 ft. above sea level. That’s something we both felt after even just a day. That’s something HE will have to adjust to quickly as a rugby player!

Our next step is to head out again for freshman orientation right after he graduates high school. That’s when we get him enrolled formally for Fall classes and also get those financial aid options laid out for a way to pay for the reduced tuition/room/food. It’s still going to kick our wholly unprepared bank accounts without help – but it can be done. I actually believe it’s OK to use student loans. Establish credit history and have the student feel some responsibility towards paying back for his education. It won’t be a horrendous amount and given that he’s going to major in the computer sciences, his hiring and earning potential is one of the highest.

All in all, it was a very positive visit. I guess I will be putting that UNM sticker on the back of my car 🙂

Hot Chocolate 5K, Grand Canyon and college visit plans


My running events this year are focused more on being a running companion to other friends trying to restart or maintain their own running goals and I since I know how much I appreciated all the help that Renee and Eve gave me in my first year or two, I thought it would be fun this year to pay it forward.

So the first race on the calendar was this past Sunday and we were all mostly doing it for the goodie bag 🙂 A coworker whose very first race ever was the Holiday 1/2 (who *starts* with a half?!) wants to keep up her running at least at the 5k distance, but she was a bit bummed that she was running alone that first time. So even though the rest of us who signed up would normally run faster than her, we all agreed we would run as a group at her pace and keep her going and cross the finish line together.

May I just confess now that I am deeply thankful that I was forced to run that race slow? My gawd it was a massive uphill party! I am not entirely certain how we could have run UP so much and yet somehow not even run downhill the same distance? Ok, I know that is impossible, but what happened was that the uphill portions were mostly these short blocks, then it would level off or *maybe* go down a bit at the next block, and then it was up again. There was, of course, one long downhill, but then there was yet another UP block! Point is, this course was hard and not built for speed in a shape, form or fashion. It was all downtown around Petco Park which was cool, and the staging area was very well done. It was also packed with thousands of runners between the 5k and 15k distances. I am not sure if I would want to do this event again, but it was fun to do once.

We got a really nice hoodie instead of the usual t-shirt. Excellent addition to my cold weather running gear.

We got a really nice hoodie instead of the usual t-shirt. Excellent addition to my cold weather running gear.

The absolutely packed start. Those are marshmallow shaped bouncy balls up ahead. Get it? Hot Chocolate - Marshmallows? Hah!

The absolutely packed start. Those are marshmallow shaped bouncy balls up ahead. Get it? Hot Chocolate – Marshmallows? Hah!

My co-workers' photo montage from the morning. Yes, we received a hot chocolate + fondue bowl at the end.

My co-workers’ photo montage from the morning. Yes, we received a hot chocolate + fondue bowl at the end.

Next up is the Foxy Trail 5K at Lake Hodges on April 6th. Looking forward to getting off the road and back out on the dirt!

So – what’s been dominating my brain when I am not working or watching 17 play rugby? Road trip! OK, actually, lots of trips. Potentially 6 in the next 7 months. Three will be to the University of New Mexico (initial visit, orientation, drop off for fall), then a trip to the Rugby Nationals event, and Netroots Nation and August Moms. Yeah, I don’t know how I am pulling all that off either!! Southwest Air FF miles will pile up for sure – along with a heavy reliance on AAA discounts at hotels.

The first is that initial visit to UNM. I’m renting a car to make it a cheaper road trip since we have the luxury of time with 17’s spring break. We will also spend a day at the south rim of the Grand Canyon which will be a first for both of us. I think we are both most excited about that 🙂 Our plan is to spend a day hiking for sure (after sitting the car all day, we will need that!) and hopefully hit some of the major viewpoints either by car or on our hike.

At UNM we have a tour scheduled and then a visit with the rugby coach there. It’s going to be a bit of a whirlwind of course, but it will also make this whole transition to college more of a reality (yikes!)

If anyone has recommendations on how best to spend the daylight hours at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon – please do share!


Rugby in the rain


No, I did not take out my phone during the worst of the weather. You can tell by how he looks once he got in to play in the second half that he is soaked through!

Yes, it does rain in San Diego, but today was special. The worst of it was RIGHT when we were outside! I Dropped him off, went to Balboa Park to trade in old lights for 3 more LED strands (SDG&E runs an exchange every year). As I drove back to the field the rain started, but then it stopped when I parked and was just cold & windy until RIGHT before kick off! They did a nice jersey hand off ceremony at the start:

2013-12-07 13.23.49Before – he’s in the middle with the whitest set of thighs ever! As you can see – football pants and practice shorts do not allow sunlight to get through the upper half of the legs. Not a good look when you have to wear black rugby shorts that are…well….VERY SHORT!

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Getting his jersey – he was #19 this game – apparently that is not set for the season and can change game to game depending on the position you play and whether you start or not. For instance, he was the second string scrum half. The starter wore #9.

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Obligatory “pose” for mom after getting his jersey – thrilled, ain’t he?

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Can you tell that his hair is wet and matted to his head? He was on the sidelines during the most torrential downpour and water was just dripping off him. Also? He refused to even BRING a sweatshirt – he was shivering with cold until he finally got to play!

2013-12-07 14.23.41Please do not yet ask me what is happening in these “action” photos. I have not much of a clue other than his teammate is picking up the ball and I know the rest of them have to run BEHIND the ball carrier so he was probably slowing down to stay in position in relation to that.

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So the fun part of being a scrum half is that you get to put the ball into a scrum and then circle around and wait for it to come out and grab it and pass it off (or run with it if you have space).

It was fun – and comical given the weather! No sitting though – at this field it was just standing back behind that white line on the sidelines unless you were a coach like the guy in front of me.

The important thing is that HE loved it.

But I really do hope it is not so wet next weekend!

Game 4 – The Captain Has More Fun


Game Day Captains meet for the coin toss.

Game Day Captains meet for the coin toss.


No, they aren’t praying – they are looking down at the coin 🙂


Heading back to the sideline to rejoin the team.

What matters is that the team won it’s second game 44-9. It was close for the 1st quarter, but then our offense found it’s groove, This was a team the Falcons lost to last year 2-0. Yes, that score is correct. A safety after a muffed punt attempt resulted in the only score. So, we expected another defensive battle given that our defense has been really strong each game and because they returned the bulk of their defensive unit from last year. We were pleasantly surprised to end up with a different result! #18 played a lot again, rotating in not just on every other offensive play, but often staying out for back to back plays. He had one catch thanks to the defender forgetting to line up across from him. The QB smartly took note as he prepared for the snap, nodded in 18’s direction and then flipped the ball out to him for a quick 8 yard gain. Looking at the video this weekend on Hudl, we noticed that the play was logged as “uncovered”. Yep, that’s about right! (In other words, the original play planned wasn’t run because the QB improvised since one of his receivers was uncovered).

Unfortunately,there are no pictures of that play as it happened so fast and was on the far sideline away from the photographer. BUT – there was another play on a punt that resulted in a pretty cool sequence. The Falcons were punting, and it was 37-9 early in the 4th quarter. #18 was on punt coverage at that point and was running down the field to  either down the punt or tackle the punt returner. As it turned out, the ball bounced free so the Falcons just needed to down it – as long as no Vista player touched it of course. Well, the ball took a rather unfortunate bounce (for Vista), right off the top of one of their players helmets…and right into the waiting hands of #18:

The punt....

The punt….

The ball has bounced off the white jersey with the 4 on it, the hand pulling it in is #8

The ball has bounced off the white jersey with the 4 on it, the hand pulling it in is #8

He pulls it in as he falls towards the goal line

He pulls it in as he falls towards the goal line

And he lands JUST short about a foot away.

And he lands JUST short about a foot away.

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And now, the celebration begins...

And now, the celebration begins…

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A chest bump from the punter...

A chest bump from the punter…

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A bro hug from the other wide receiver

A bro hug from the other wide receiver


And in the end...a chance to do the victory dance.

And in the end…a chance to do the victory dance.





He took pity on me since I’ve been doing first day of school drop offs from 1990-2013 and this was officially my LAST ONE! He was oddly in a better mood for a 1st day as well – his schedule was posted last night and he’s (mostly) happy with the results though he still has to visit the counselling office to get himself into AP Physics. Here’s hoping that good mood lasts!