"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Epic Blogger Road Trip Adventure

I want to add more words to that title, but not sure what...it was such a blast! I warn you guys that this post is a long one: it was so much fun that I wanted to be able to remember all the details later. It's taken me all freaking week to write! Haha...

Liz and me.
I think this photo says it all!

First things first: the AERC (American Endurance Riding Conference; this is the organization sanctioning most endurance rides in the US, comparable to the USDF and USHJA) was having its first ever convention on the East Coast in Atlanta, GA last weekend. The convention is usually held once a year on the West Coast. So there was a huge push for East Coast riders to go to this convention since no one knew if it would ever be held again in our neck of the woods. Huge opportunity to learn a ton and meet other endurance riders.

Liz had mentioned it back when we crewed for her for Fort Valley and over the course of the winter, we made Plans to attend.

The convention would be on Friday March 6 and Saturday March 7. I finally get paid vacation time at work (no vacation time for techs at many vet hospitals in South FL. Sad but true) so I was able to take Thursday off so we could drive down to Atlanta, GA.

What I completely forgot was that I leave work at 2:00 am. Liz and I would be meeting Thursday morning at 9:00 am in Strasburg, VA, where her highway from WV and our highway from MD meet. Charles would drop me off at that location, and I'd continue with Liz. It was 1.5 hours to Strasburg from our town in MD...but it was a weekday and we'd have to drive around the Beltway through prime rush hour traffic. Rush hour starts at exactly 6:30 am in our area and it becomes unpassable at 7:00 am. Rush hour traffic moves towards DC. To get to VA from MD, you have to drive towards DC.

Charles and I decided it would be best if we left home between 6:00 and 6:30 am so we could get to Strasburg before traffic got really awful.

I got home from work at 2:30 am, ate dinner, packed the last couple of things for the trip and...had a really hard time falling asleep because I was so excited.

I managed to fall asleep by 4:30 am and woke up at 5:30 am to get ready. That was exactly 1 hour of sleep, folks! Yup, I should have requested Wednesday off as well, but oh well. I was surprisingly awake after the nap. I showered, got dressed, made coffee for both Charles and me, put all of my stuff in the car, and started the drive to Strasburg at 6:30 am sharp. There was some traffic going onto the Beltway but it cleared up after we passed DC.

The roads were clear once we were in Virginia.

It's going to be a long time before I get over seeing mountains again. I had missed them so, so, so much during our 8 years in Florida.
Snow on the sides of the road.
Snow on the Appalachians. Almost snow-capped mountains!
Of course, we arrived an hour early so Charles and I had breakfast at Denny's right next to the highway while waiting for Liz to arrive.

Her and I had this conversation:

That red sharpie mark on the gas gauge worked wonders. We would not need to worry about any possible gas issues for the rest of the trip. Liz knows her truck so, so well; she's had it for 10 years and has always paid attention to gas mileage. The problem was that the truck went through gas a lot faster than she'd expected as she was coming out of the WV mountains.

Liz has a friend in GA named KC; they met in WV while he was working at her office as part of his duty for Americorps. We would be staying at his house during our visit to Atlanta.

The best route to Atlanta, GA is through Tennessee. It is the first time I've gone through this state. I got to see the Smokies for the first time! (And I thought of you, Briana, as this is your home state!)


More Smokies!

Gorgeous river

It felt like we drove through Tennessee forever. We stopped at a Zaxby's for a very late lunch around 4:00 pm. Time flies by when you're talking nonstop! Liz and I were starving by that point but we were good about not stuffing our faces: KC was planning on taking us somewhere cool and different for dinner once we arrived in Atlanta.

I'd never been to nor heard of Zaxby's before, but man was their chicken good! Some of the best chicken I've eaten in awhile.

We hopped back into the truck afterwards and drove on.

I was surprised by the sheer number of fireworks stores in Tennessee but they made me smile: they reminded me of Tampa, FL. Lots of fireworks stores there too. 

We entered Georgia sometime after 5:00 pm. (And of course I thought of you, Beka!) I don't remember the exact time. Georgians don't announce their state no matter from which direction you enter it; you realize you're in GA only if you can recognize the cities mentioned on the signs or by paying attention to car license plates.

We hit a little bit of traffic as we neared Atlanta, but it wasn't bad. We arrived at KC's apartment complex around 7:00 pm.

KC is a very sweet guy, going out of his way to make us feel at home right off the bat. We dropped our stuff off at his house then piled into his Subaru to go out for dinner. It was in the low 40's-high 30's by this point and drizzling nonstop: the tail end of a storm that was passing through the South. I was glad I'd brought my heavier jacket. Expose me to warmer temps and my body immediately re-sets itself to its default "before MD" state, where it considers anything below 50 degrees to be really cold. -_-

He took us to this amazing little place called the OK Cafe. The food was typical Southern comfort food, and the interior of the restaurant was decorated in a very artsy and eclectic way.

There was even a dollar tree!
The food was amazing. Liz and I both ordered the chicken pot pie. Liz and KC caught up with one another about work, and then we all talked about our plans while in Atlanta. KC went out of his way to include me in the conversation, asking about my own job and horse. Liz has some really awesome friends.

Inside the OK Cafe as we were leaving. 
It had a fancy yet homey diner feel to it and was spotless, even at prime dinner time.

We returned to the apartment afterwards.  As we were getting ready for bed, we commented about Karen, who was the only blogger other than Mel who knew about our trip beforehand. She had said how much she wished she could come with us and had mentioned she would be with us in spirit for this trip. It would have been the awesomest thing ever if she really could have come with us.

And then Liz had this idea: we'd print out a photo of Karen so we really could have her with us. (I never would have thought of that; it was brilliant. Liz has friends that had done this with some of their friends.) KC brought out his laptop for us to use and hooked it up to his printer then retreated to his room to sleep - he had to be up early the next day for work.

I looked through Karen's FB and blog, searching for a photo where she was smiling but not wearing a helmet, which was harder than anticipated as the photos where you can see her beaming the most are the ones where she is riding Ashke! :) I finally found one that both Liz and I agreed upon. My brain was down to one functioning neuron by then (remember: 1 hour of sleep!) and I could not get the computer's photo editing program to do what I wanted so I passed the reins to Liz. Within 15 seconds, she'd blown up Karen's photo to full size and printed the photo out.

And thus Karen's adventure with us started.

We really did take her everywhere with us!
Liz and I decided that I'd sleep on the couch and Liz would sleep on the inflatable mattress. I'd brought an inflatable mattress of my own, but that couch looked heavenly. I wish I'd taken a photo of the couch...Charles had a couch like that when I first moved in with him: so comfortable that you sleep better in it than in most beds! It was long enough that my legs weren't on the armrest and wider than your average twin bed.

We were up at 5:15 am the next morning. Renegade was having a giveaway for the first 10 customers to show up at their booth in the morning - we wanted to be there for that (Mel and Ashley were manning the booth; we were so excited about meeting them in person for the first time!), and we also wanted to avoid the morning rush hour.

By 6:30 we were in the car on the way to the Sheraton Gateway Hotel over by the Atlanta airport, where the convention was being held. We even had time to stop at a Chik-Fil-A to grab a quick breakfast (they actually have healthy breakfasts...oatmeal and fruit salad. Who knew?)

We picked up our registration packets, including a sweet AERC tote, and sat at the meeting "Hot Topics: AERC and the International Rider" while waiting for the trade show to open at 8:00 am.

AERC tote. Doubles as a backpack. The gray stripes are reflective!
Since the majority of my readers are not part of the endurance world, I'll catch you up quickly on what this meeting was about: AERC vs FEI. FEI sanctions international endurance rides and there have been many problems with horses outright dying at these rides, especially in the Middle East. The general notion is that, while the AERC slogan is "To finish is to win", a lot of FEI riders from foreign countries have the mentality of "To win is to win (even if it kills my horse)". AERC co-sanctions a lot of FEI rides in this country and has threatened to withdraw their support of FEI rides if FEI doesn't do something to fix the problem with horses being over-ridden at the international level.

Horses are not supposed to look this exhausted at endurance rides.
They are supposed to look like this. Check out the happy, alert yet relaxed expression on this horse and the energy with which he is moving forwards at the trot. This photo is from a random Google search of photos of Tevis, one of the most challenging 100 mile endurance rides in this country. Vet checks at endurance rides exist to help ensure that the horses finish the race still looking this good.
I don't want to create a hot debate here, as in the endurance world this is one of those topics akin to talking about religion or politics. Basically, the meeting was about what would happen if AERC did remove themselves from any sort of affiliation with FEI and the repercussions of this for both the FEI and our country's endurance riders competing at the international level. Listening to everyone speak, there seem to be more drawbacks to AERC discontinuing their support of FEI. The drawbacks affect the horses, this country's riders, the FEI and also AERC itself. Some of the repercussions were over my head, as I don't have a clear understanding of the politics of equestrian sports organizations - as in who you have to be affiliated with to have clout as a reputable organization. My ultimate thought at the end was: if AERC isn't there to make sure that FEI holds up to their end of the bargain re: stricter vet checks at international rides for example, who else will protect the horses? However, I can completely understand why AERC, who takes great pride in watching out for their sport's horses' well being, doesn't want to have anything to do with an organization that seems to be having problems watching out for the health of their horses. It was interesting to listen to the views of both AERC and FEI and the riders and people involved with one or the other or both.

Liz and I escaped at 8:00 am to run down to the trade show and made it in time to get the giveaway from Renegade: water bottles!

Mind you, these were not cheapo water bottles: they have a rubber mouthpiece that is better for preventing leaks and the coolie that comes with it has a clip that you can use to attach to your saddle. Now I don't need to buy another water bottle!

Renegade water bottle and coolie
But the BEST part was finally getting to meet Mel from Boots and Saddles and Ashley from Go Pony in person! Mel had flown in from California for the convention and Ashley had come from Arizona; Mel is a regional rep for her area and Ashley works full-time at Lander Industries, makers of the Renegade Hoof Boots.

We hung out at the booth with them, discussing original Renegades vs Vipers, boot sizes for both Q and Lily (Liz and I had re-measured our mares' feet. Oh yeah: I forgot to tell you guys. All that barefoot distance riding we've been doing this winter? Lily's feet have gotten bigger. The reason why she kept losing her boots on our 20 mile ride? Our current Renegades are now too small!) and which type of boot would be better for their hoof shapes (all the photos I regularly take of Lily's hooves proved to be very useful for this!) It was determined that Lily and Q, due to their rounder hoof shapes, would probably do great in the new Vipers.

From left to right: Caitlin from Rafikah RoseAshley, myself, and Liz. Photo by Mel!
As people trickled out of the AERC vs FEI meeting, the booth started to fill up with potential customers so Liz and I stepped back and checked out the rest of the trade show. Evolutionary Tools had a booth, as did Taylored Tack and The Distance Depot.

Liz and I went over to The Distance Depot where we oogled all of their stuff. I love their biothane. My breastplate is by them, and I have a halter bridle (that sadly does NOT match all the things at the moment) by them that I should probably sell, but I like it too much. Liz found some syringes at 3 syringes for $5, I found the running martingale I really wanted and grippy biothane reins in purple for Kathy (like the ones I have). At The Distance Depot store we met Caitlin in person. It would take us a minute to realize she was another fellow blogger - her name rang a bell for both Liz and I, and later it clicked. Caitlin has an awesome Arabian mare named Rafikah Rose whom she rehabbed from an injury last year and is the founder of the Facebook group Rider Fit, to which Liz and I both belong.

Kathy's reins. ALLLL purple!
And then we ran off for our first lecture of the day: Shoeing for Specific Needs: Keeping Endurance Horses Going, by Jeff Pauley, Certified Journeyman Farrier. (I had a Certified Journeyman Farrier do Lily's front shoes way, way back when I first got her. Best shoeing job I have ever seen.) I suck and did not take any notes, but the farrier that gave the lecture was awesome. If he'd been local to my area (he is from North Carolina) I would have hired him. I had originally thought this lecture would be specifically about what horse shoes to use when, but this farrier talked about correct trimming, how anatomy affects the shape of the hoof and how the trim of the hoof can affect the anatomy, and when to protect the hoof (be it with a shoe and pads or a boot). He talked about hoof angles and conformation and how one can affect the other. It was a fascinating lecture and my take-away from it was, basically, that I'm doing the right thing with my current way of trimming.

We were going to go to the colic lecture afterwards,  What Happens if Your Endurance Horse Colics? by Kira Epstein, DVM, DACVECC (< that last set of letters means she is a criticalist. FYI) but at that point we were starving! So, so, so hungry. We decided we'd skip it for lunch. (If you want to read about the colic lecture, here is Me'ls terrific write-up! After realizing it was a generalized colic lecture and not one specific to endurance, we didn't feel quite as bad anymore about missing it.) We went to check on Mel and Ashley, and Mel had gone to the colic lecture while Ashley manned the booth; we offered to bring back lunch from wherever it was that we ended up eating at. Ashley took Liz up on the offer and so Liz and I went back to her truck to go find a place to eat. After all the rain the previous day, it was a gorgeous day outside: sunny, and it was nice to remember what 50 degrees felt like!

Off to lunch with Karen!
We really wanted Mexican and we found this hole-in-the-wall place about 10 minutes from the hotel in a pretty sketchy part of town. Liz was nervous about entering the restaurant but I honestly wasn't: one of the BEST Mexican places I've eaten at was this tiny little restaurant in Miami, across the street from my tech school, where we would go for lunch. I never, ever would have set a foot in there if it hadn't been for one of my classmates that literally dragged me in there one day for food. Sketchiest-looking place I've ever walked into, at least from the outside. It was warm and inviting once you were inside. All of the Mexicans in town hung out there and it was real, authentic Mexican food, not the Tex-Mex we're used to in the US.

Walking in the doors at the GA restaurant really felt like walking into Mexico: all of the employees and all of the patrons were Mexican. They had an amazing lunch deal where you got a large platter of food for just $4.99. Liz ordered the burrito lunch special and I ordered the enchilada, both of us with margaritas. The margaritas weren't amazing but the lunch was very good. Liz texted Ashley the menu, she chose what she wanted, and we took food for her back to the hotel. I can't for the life of me remember the name of the restaurant now, and of course now for whatever reason I can't find it on Google searches. Weird.

We still had time to go explore at the Tack Swap, which we hadn't scoped out yet. We found a pair of black Kerrits tights in my size...for $25. You bet I took those home with me. There was lots of cool used stuff...Liz even scored a second Ansur saddle for half of what a used saddle of that brand normally costs!

Karen checking out all the saddles with us!
We actually had enough time to grab a coffee in the hotel cafe before going to the last lecture of the day. Karen had coffee too.

The last lecture was on Managing Heat Stress in the Endurance Horse, by Marty Adams from Triple Crown Feeds. It was an interesting lecture in that he talked mainly about preventing heat stress by tweaking the horse's diet before and during competition (appropriate hydration and electrolytes with correct levels of calcium, fat and fiber in the diet) but he didn't go into all of the different ways that you can cool down a horse in hot, humid weather such as mixing water and rubbing alcohol and either spraying it on the horse while riding or sponging the horse off with the mixture at the vet check. (Alcohol accelerates evaporation and thus cooling of the horse; I used the spray method back in FL.) From a nutritional standpoint, it was a fascinating lecture but going over things with Mel afterwards, there was some misinformation in a couple of the things Mr. Adams said.

If you want to read about this lecture in detail (which you should; what he said applies to any competition horse being worked in hot climates), this is Mel's write-up, which is way better than anything I could have written, especially given the fact that she is a vet student.

Dr. Bob Marshall, DVM, an endurance vet from WV, was sitting right in front of Liz and me and we had the opportunity to briefly speak with him. He had been recommending Triple Crown's Omega Max supplement to another friend of Liz's; Mr. Adams had talked about it and Dr. Marshall said it is a great fat supplement. I spoke first with Mel and then with Dr. Marshall about the best (and endurance legal) supplement to give before, during and after a ride as a gastric protectant. Mel recommended aloe juice (which I always forget is an option. Thank you Mel!) and afterwards Dr. Marshall said it would be fine to use GastroGard as it was going to be legal within 5 minutes (he was on his way to an AERC veterinary meeting after the Heat Stress lecture.) I made notes and both Liz and I laughed.

We hung out at the booth with Mel and Ashley for awhile, then went back to the Distance Depot booth where I snagged the last 22" Woolback dressage girth they had in stock, and afterwards we all went out to dinner at the Ruby Tuesday's across the street from the hotel.

We ended up waiting outside to be seated for almost an hour, in which we shared stories about our horses and I got to listen to the others' endurance stories.

All the bloggers! From left to right: LizMelCaitlin, moi, and Ashley
We were all beyond starving by the time we sat down to eat!

Ashley and Mel demonstrate why you shouldn't get between a hungry endurance rider and her food!
We had an awesome time.

Afterwards Liz and I returned to KC's apartment, where him, his fiancee and some of their friends were hanging out. We had a couple of drinks with them; the friends left before midnight and KC went to bed: the next morning him and his fiancee were planning on going to the nearby mountains to camp for the weekend.

Liz and I stayed up much later talking. The conversation was about second languages, accents, correct use of grammar and pronunciation. Liz said her favorite Spanish word is "murcielago", which means "bat" (as in the animal), and I shared my favorite French words (I took 3 semesters of French in college): "voiture" (vwah-chure, which means "car") and "l'ouisseau" (lwas-sew, which means "the bird"). I talked to her in Spanish with our Puerto Rican accent and she tried to figure out what I was saying (Liz has a really good handle on Spanish as long as you speak slowly), and we giggled over some of the more dramatic English accents, like the Boston way of speaking (it's Charles's favorite English accent), the Irish brogue, and the WV drawl. I cannot imitate any of those. It was a really interesting conversation between two people from two very different areas of the country that most people in the US assume don't know any real English at all. There is almost as much prejudice against West Virginians in some parts of this country as there is against Puerto Ricans.

We finally conked out sometime after 1:00 am.

We woke up to faint stirrings in the kitchen: KC made us breakfast! I've never seen anyone cook so quietly. We were joined by KC's best friend and his fiancee, and we all enjoyed a huge breakfast of bacon, eggs, pancakes and strawberries.

Afterwards, KC and Co. left for their camping expedition and Liz and I went for a walk by the river.

The Chattahoochee River is right next to KC's apartment complex. It was a beautiful day outside with temps just starting to hit the upper 60's. Again, I'd forgotten what that felt like. It's been a solid 6 months of cold this winter.

Karen came with us for this walk in the sun.

Boardwalk leading down to the river.

With Karen.

The water in the river was so clear!

Liz and Karen enjoying a warm sun!

Liz and I returned to the hotel for the lecture on Injuries of the Groin and Chest in the Performance Horse, by Dr. Kenneth Marcella, DVM. This was one of my favorite seminars of all the ones we listened to. It's all new research, and it makes perfect sense: injuries of the groin and chest are very common in human athletes, especially those doing sports like soccer, football, gymnasts, ice skaters, etc.

Ow...just OW...
Look at these horses, and tell me you can't imagine them getting groin or chest injuries (all of these are random images from Google):

Mel hasn't done her write-up of this one yet, but I will link back to it when she does. Basically, Dr. Marcella explained groin and chest injuries as possible sources of mystery, sometimes chronic, lameness in horses. He explained how ultrasound, radiographs, MRI and flexion tests are just not effective ways of detecting this kind of injury. He has been using thermography as a diagnostic tool in these instances and he presented several slides showing how the areas of heat in the injured area would appear with thermography.

This is actually one of the slides that Dr. Marcella presented; it's from an article he wrote for DVM360.
The image is of a horse's groin muscles, taken from the rear. You can see the horse's front legs in the background.
He then went on to explain the lameness exam he does to identify this type of injury. He did repeat that this is something that you do after ruling out other injuries elsewhere on the affected leg.

It was a fascinating presentation and it is good knowledge to have - something you can ask your vet about if your horse has an odd lameness that can't be localized to a specific spot. Dr. Marcella was a brilliant speaker, too: his slides were simple and heavy on the images and photos, his explanations were clear and to the point, and the man even has a sense of humor. It was a wonderful lecture overall.

Go read Dr. Marcella's article on groin injuries here.

Liz and I stayed for the next lecture, What's the Latest in Endurance-Related Research? by Dr. Langdon Fielding, DVM, DACVECC. He started out with statistics and percentages and by then I just didn't have any brain left over to process information. Neither did Liz. After reading Mel's write-up I'm sorry we didn't stay to listen to the entire presentation.

However, us leaving early gave us a huge advantage: we wouldn't have to stay until Sunday to leave GA to return to the Northeast.

Originally, we had discussed the option of driving through the night Saturday so we'd both have Sunday to rest and recover. However, Charles needed my car and couldn't pick me up before 9:00 am Sunday because he had to work Saturday night. So that was a monkey wrench in that plan.

However, Liz's aunt and uncle live in North Carolina and they happened to be home when she called to check. They were fine with us spending the night at their place so we could shorten our Sunday drive. We said good-bye to Ashley (Mel was at the last lecture of the day) and headed back to KC's to pick up our stuff.

It was so, so awesome to get to meet Mel and Ashley in person. We were sorry we didn't get to say good-bye to Mel, but doing this leg go the trip on Saturday would save us 5 hours of driving time on Sunday.

We stopped at a Chik-Fil-A on the way out of GA and grabbed some cookies and cream milkshakes. It was the first time during the entire trip when Liz and I were quiet...lol!

So much green.
This was still in GA.
We drove straight up to NC, stopping only to get gas. We made it to Liz's aunt and uncle's house close to 10:00 pm. They had beers ready for us and homemade cookies. We all sat down to talk for awhile. This was my first time meeting Liz's relatives. They are lovely people and it was wonderful of them to have us (especially me, being a total stranger) on such short notice.

Stout family date bars.
I ate way more than I should have...and took some home for Charles. 
We each got a bedroom upstairs, where we conked out around midnight. We were up again at 5:15 am (really 4:15 am because of the time change). Liz made us English muffins and after both of us had cups of coffee, we got back into the 4Runner and continued on our way North.

There is nothing like a long road trip to get you to really bond with a friend. Liz and I email and text on almost a daily basis, but we still had LOADS to catch up on! We talked about our mares, our cats, our men, our dogs, horses in general, endurance, vet tech, ski patrol, being a biologist, barn drama, work drama, religion, raptors (Liz can identify most raptors based on the shape of their wings in flight), mountains, Puerto Rico, West Virginia, ecology, father issues and brother issues. Liz is 10 years younger than me but she is mature beyond her years, plus she has very similar opinions and views as me on a huge range of subjects. I'm a type-A nerd most of the time, but Liz leaves me in the dust when it comes to organization and analysis. She reminds me so much of myself when I was 25 and at the same time, I wish I'd had half her organizational skills when I was her age! She also offered some new perspectives on past issues with my brother and father. We had a very long conversation about this on the way back. I told my story and then Liz told me her thoughts on it, and she really left me thinking. I had not thought to view these issues from the point of view that she offered. I was quiet while Liz was talking, staring straight ahead at the road, but I was seriously digesting and recording in my head everything that she was saying.

The rest of the trip went by very quickly. It seemed like we got to Strasburg in no time. Charles was there to pick me up for the last leg of the trip home, and Liz continued on her way to WV.

And since both of us are a little bonkers, we each on our ends still went out and rode our mares: I did some interval training on the hills in the backwoods with Lily, and Liz took Griffin for a 10 mile ride, accompanied by Mike on Q. 

Perfect ending to yet another epic weekend with my best blogger friend! 


  1. wow, that is an epic journey. Thanks for much for sharing. endurance is like a whole 'nother world that i never really thought much of until well your posts.

    1. I've had it on the "secret bucket list" since I was 13; I never thought I'd actually get to be a part of this world. My favorite thing about it is that the horse and his well-being really do come first, and you have to have a really good relationship with that horse if you expect him to carry you over 25+ miles. It's also the one sport where money makes no difference in your level of competition (money will get you a really nice endurance horse and a really nice rig for going to rides): everyone is on the same playing field. Most rides cost the same (about $100 for the entry), so mere mortals can be at Tevis or Old Dominion and still be riding on the same playing field as the gods of the sport. It's really cool. I don't think there's any other equestrian sport where any of these things happen.

  2. Wow, what an awesome weekend. And it's always a good thing when you can bond with another human.

    Thanks for taking me with you. Maybe, one year, we will do it for real.

    1. Funny thing about the picture you choose. I think it is the only one on the blog without my helmet. I was on Ashke, in the arena, and my mom made me take the helmet off so she could take a pic. Since then, I have firmed and toned and of course, lost a little weight, so my face is much more angled and thin. Plus, my hair was super long (for me) in that photo. I usually have the sides of my hair buzzed. It made me laugh to see the photo.

      It also made me laugh to see all the pics you guys took with me in the photo. That made my weekend. J thought it was pretty funny too. I was getting really strange looks at the Expo, though.

    2. We could just imagine you laughing every time we put one of those photos on FB! I burst out laughing when you commented on one of them, "I'm having so much fun!" It was a riot. I'm sure Liz and I got strange looks but we made a point of not even looking around every time I pulled out the photo! Lol There was an endurance party starting in the lobby on Saturday after the last lecture and all the who's who of the endurance world in the US were there. I wanted a photo with you standing in front of the band (this is Miss Shy Self Conscious...lol!) but Liz didn't dare for precisely the same reason why I wanted the photo: too many important people would think we were cray-cray. Hahaha... It was the only time we thought twice about a picture with you!

      I'm glad J thought it was funny too!

      And yes, hopefully one year we can all go together for real!

  3. Replies
    1. Lol! Wasn't it? It was like each day had 36 hours instead of 24!

  4. It sounds like an awesome time! I'm kind of sorry I missed it, but I would never have been able to keep that kind of schedule:) my head kind of hurts just reading about all the stuff you guys did!

    1. Lol! I know right? I'm not really sure how I kept up, to tell you the truth...sheer excitement maybe. I normally need a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night to be functional...I tallied up how many hours we'd slept over the course of 4 days, and it was maybe 15. Which would explain why I slept for 12 hours straight after getting home from riding Lily...lol

  5. Finally lol! This post showed up on my feed reader last week for some reason but I couldn't read it--awful sort of teaser! :-/ haha

    You probably drove right by us! Or close anyways...Sounds like such an awesome trip but I'm with Gail, I could never have run that kind of schedule lol!

    1. I hit "Publish" by accident instead of "Save"! Sorry about the teaser! Lol Yup, it was a pretty insane schedule. Liz is a master at squeezing as much Stuff into as little time as possible...I do not have that ability when by myself! Lol It's like she owns Hermione's time turner...haha

  6. <3 to you my best blogger friend.

    And I got a good giggle over the comment above about Hermione's time-turner! I can't tell you how many times I have wished for that thing!!!

  7. Haha you pretty much don't need it! I'm always amazed by how much you can fit in in x amount of time!

  8. It was so fun reading about your trip from both of your perspectives! Thanks for sharing! I hope someday I can meet some blogger friends. :)

  9. I had heard a lot about the Virginia Creeper Trail. But when I reached there with Dr Ron Virmani, It is certainly one of the most popular and beautiful bike trails in the eastern part of USA. Such a wonderful place it was !