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hashtagManTrip2015: Day One

Some of you know, most of you don’t, but I am currently on an epic journey of epic proportions. It’s gonna be epic.

Epic.

Okay, maybe I’m overselling it. In a nutshell, I am participating in Bodie Bowl 2015, the inaugural MTB race in Bodie, CA. That’s on Saturday the 22nd (of August. in 2015). Today is Friday, the 21st. I’ll tell Day Two’s story later. I want to tell the story of Day One, which was Thursday, the 20th.

Yesterday was mostly road trip, but it was an interesting road trip. I got my stuff all packed up and was on the road by 10:30 or so, which would put me at the Paradise Shores Campground by 2. I believe you would be hard pressed to find a more stunning stretch of road to drive. Driving up Highway 50 to South Lake Tahoe, then taking a right and driving south on 89 to 395 to finally end up in Bridgeport. My first story involves the little town of Markleeville.

I had ZERO intention of stopping in Markleeville. Plenty of gas, just finished eating the sammich my lovely wife made me for the trip, I was cruising. I blasted through that cute little mountain town, and about f20150820_133015ive miles up the road, I ran into a Caltrans worker. “Road’s closed, jack-knifed big rig. Should be open in about an hour.” So, I went back to Markleeville. If you have never been, it’s a cute town. But, if you have ever been to a California mountain town, then you’ve been to Markleeville. General store, art gallery, pizza joint, bar, and a diner. What makes Markleeville different is that it hosts (sort of) the California Death Ride every year. I used to want to do that ride, but now I don’t think so. Anyway, I walked around town for a while, and walked into the art gallery. The gallery was being run by this sweet little old lady who was still hanging onto the last vestiges of youth by drawing on her eyebrows with a sharpie. We chatted…she told me that the hot spring in Grover was a place I should go for a soak (yeah, not my cuppa). I saw this cool plate (pictured). “Oh, the owner made that piece. He’s an old hippie.” We chatted a little more, then I headed back to my truck. I had another 30 minutes before the road opened, so I planned on sitting in my truck and maybe catching a nap.

The old guys outside the diner had other plans for me.

20150820_134458“Where you coming from, young fella?” This from the guy in the middle. These guys were lined up outside the diner, drinking Miller Lite, and itching to tell stories. “Well, I came from Folsom, but I’m on my way to Bridgeport. Road’s closed up ahead, so I have some time to kill.”

“Really? What happened?”

“Jack-knifed big-rig. They said it happened last night, but they should have it open in an hour.”

“Hoo-eee! Must be some kinda jack-knife!” *turns to Hat Guy. “Remember when Nate run his truck off the road? If he hadn’t jumped out, he woulda been 600 feet at the bottom o’ that canyon! Took two cranes to fish that truck out…that musta cost 50 grand to clean up.”

It went on like this for quite a while, and I loved every second of it. One story led to another story, led to another…much better than taking a nap. After a bit, I made my goodbyes and got back on20150820_125752 the road.

The other thing in Markleeville is that there was a fire near there recently, around Father’s Day. I guess the fire got within a few miles of town. The gallery lady told me that she had packed up all the art and went out of town and kept calling to see how things were. The Death Ride was almost cancelled, but they got the fire put out a week before the start time.

20150820_141815So, just after Markleesville, I took a left and went over Monitor Pass. Monitor is just over 8000′, and it’s beautiful. As I was climbing the pass in my truck, I kept thinking about those guys doing it on the bike…tough, tough climb. But that isn’t even the hardest part, IMO. the back side of Monitor winds steeply down the mountainside to the valley below. Hairpin turns, off camber with no shoulder. High consequence descent…this is when I decided that maybe I don’t ever want to do the Death Ride. But the view at the top is something to behold.

Rest of the trip was uneventful, I got to the campground ~3:30, had camp setup by 4. Alan, the guy who runs the campground, is super cool, laid back, and WAY fit. Wanted to know all about my bike, and pointed me to some trails nearby, which I will try out today. Paradise Shores is a very nice campground, with the nicest bathroom I have ever encountered on any campground EVER. I’ve stayed in hotels with worse bathrooms. I made dinner around 5:30, but I forgot my brats so I made my potato hash with bacon instead. A worthy substitute.  If you want pictures of my food, campsite, etc., follow me on Instagram. I’m tagging everything #mantrip2015 and #bodiebowl2015.

Oh, and the reason for the hastag? Well, I’m all by myself. Teresa believes that camping is the devil, and the girls are busy with work/school stuff. Also, I couldn’t get anyone to go with me, even though I tried recruiting other guys.

Well, my coffee has grown cold and I should probably take a shower. Stay tuned for Day Two!

 

 

The Perfect Weekend

I want to tell the story of this past weekend, but before I do it, some words.

So, I realize that when I say “perfect,” some image or set of images immediately populates your thoughts. Perfection is different for everyone, and I believe, if I were to have another perfect weekend, it would be different than this past one. Because for that next weekend, my definition of “perfection” will have changed. Why? Well, I will be a different person. Time passes, and it scathes us. Sometimes deeply, sometimes lightly, but we are always changed by its passage. This version of Coy won’t exist in a month or two. Your version of you, also, will be different. Likely only a very little. But that change will and does impact our ability to experience events and also how we interpret external triggers. An example: I used to hate bleu cheese. Now, I love it. I can’t tell you when that happened, or why, but it certainly did.

Enough philosophy. Now, for the weekend in question.

Friday Evening

Inside-OutFriday I wrapped up work and had a normal dinner. Nothing extraordinary…just normal. Teresa had a party, Anne was embroiled in her house-sitting gig, so it was just Emma and me. On a complete whim, we decide to go see “Inside Out,” the latest Pixar film. SO. EXCELLENT. I just absolutely go nuts over Pixar films…the only one I haven’t liked is “Cars 2,” and it was the only one to receive less than 50% at Rotten Tomatoes. All others…excellent. “Inside Out?” BRILLIANT. Immediately in my top 5 Pixar, maybe even top 3 (“A Bug’s Life” and “The Incredibles” will be hard to unseat). Anyway, it’s Emma and I, soda, candy (I went with Mike & Ike’s), and a great movie. We laughed, we resisted crying at the “heartstring” moments, and just had an awesome time. Also, I love spending time with just me and the girls…either both of them or singly, doesn’t matter. Family time is great, but when it is “just Dad,” the dynamic is different. We talked about the movie the entire ride home. A great evening.

Saturday Morning

As almost everyone knows, I like to ride my bicycle. And lately, I have upped my rides/week dramatically. My personal goal is 100 miles per week, with one big(ish) ride (by my standards, anyway) early Saturday morning. The rest of the family likes to sleep in, so the impact to them is negligible. I got up early Saturday, and decided I was going to ride two of my favorite roads in El Dorado county, Malcom Dixon and Deer Valley. Deer Valley ends in Rescue, CA, and that point is about 17 miles from my front door. The weather was the best…not too hot with just enough breeze to cool me off on the climbs, without slowing me down otherwise. When I get to Rescue on this ride, I typically go up Ponderosa Rd. and turn towards Cameron Park at Pondo High School. So I did that. I rode through CP and El Dorado Hills on my way back home and finished my ride with one last grunt of a climb up Wilson Dr., just off of EDH Blvd. 44-ish miles total, 3K’ of climbing, and my legs and lungs felt great the whole way. The ride was…perfect.

Saturday Evening

Saturday afternoon was spent driving to BerkeleyHillside_Club,_Berkeley_exterior_2 to attend the 25th wedding anniversary party of my longtime friend and his wife, David & Arlene. A couple of weeks prior, David had asked if I would like to sing at their party, and picked two songs from Sacred Harp, Canon and Rose of Sharon. Canon is not particularly difficult, but Rose of Sharon is a BEAR, and I had never sung it before. In typical Coy fashion, I didn’t look at it until the Wednesday before the party, which is when I realized how difficult it was going to be. I found out on Thursday that there would be about 12 singers, so my trepidation lessened. Also, on Thursday, David asked me if I would provide one of the toasts prior to cutting the cake. Of course, I was immensely honored. ANYHOO, we got to the Hillside Club (pictured) early, but the party arrived not long after we did. We sat with David & a large portion of his family (David’s dad is just the coolest). The two songs opened the ceilidh, we ran through them quickly out on the porch, and the performance went off flawlessly. Did I mention that we pitched them differently? We pitched them differently (sopranos. psh). After the ceilidh came the cake. David’s father toasted first, and he was funny and charming. I was next. I had written my toast on Friday, so I had it on my iPad. Look…I don’t want to brag…but, well. It was GREAT. The audience laughed at the right bits, it said what I wanted it to say, and I didn’t fall over or choke on my drink. We ate cake, we laughed with David, Arlene, and his family, we watched English/Scottish country dance, and had the best time. We got home tired, but happy.

Sunday

Many of you also know that I am the worship minister at Cordova Church of Christ. This means I plan each Sunday’s worship, select the songs, design and build the slide deck, and quite often I lead the congregational singing for two services, as well as make sure that sound, lights, and the praise team are all in place. This Sunday was no different from that respect, but it was Father’s day AND the closing Sunday from a week-long kids camp that is hosted on campus by staff and volunteers. Both services went really well, we had two baptisms at the beginning of second service, and afterwards my family took me to lunch at Nemo Sushi (I KNOW). Which was excellent. The sashimi choice by the chef was just spectacular. After lunchI caught a quick nap and went back to the church building to help with the “Closing Camp” festivities, which includes a time for the kids, a dinner, a picture slideshow, etc. When I got home, I forced the girls to watch “Top Gun” with me on Netflix. The mid-scene groaning by modern young women during the viewing of the film was SUBLIME. Phrases like, “He’s flexing? Why is he flexing?” and “Again with the song?” peppered the movie. My personal favorite: “Why is she licking his chin? GROSS!”

The Card

After the movie, I opened the card that Anne had for me. I’m not going to share the text of the card, but I have to say that reading that card was one of the best moments of my life. I really don’t have words to describe it…I’ve read it 40+ times since last night, and it impacts me each time. She is a beautiful child, and her sentiment was incredibly moving. And those words don’t begin to describe her, or the card. I feel like I should say more about it, but the words won’t come. Only chin quivers.

That was my perfect weekend. Sometimes, it really is too bad that Monday has to follow a weekend, but I would probably appreciate it less if it had been longer. But probably not. Cause it was perfect.

The Brevity of This Life, Part II

It’s been a bit, I know, but I have been noodling on how to say what I want to say about Mark Jolley. So, consider this a living tribute, I guess.

I worked with Mark on a daily basis for almost five years. This working relationship is a little different than you might expect.  Mark was the territory manager and I was his dedicated sales engineer. What this means is that we would often travel to the same location together, hop in a rental car, and spend three days or so driving around visiting customers and partners, doing events, etc. That equals hours of windshield time together. In the evening, we would check in to the same hotel (some flavor of Marriott) and we would eat together at the same restaurant. This equates to HOURS and HOURS of time spent with just the two of us sharing conversation and trying to keep from driving each other crazy. So, I have some insights into Mark (and vice versa) that aren’t the norm when you talk about a colleague.

Mark Enjoys Food

naglee burgerNow, I know that he is not unique in that respect…heck, I enjoy food, too. But you would have to share a meal with Mark to understand what I mean. I remember eating sashimi with him at a traditional Japanese restaurant (no sushi bar in sight) in LA, and the absolute, unfiltered JOY on his face when he tasted that buttery, perfect fish. Or when we ate at Red Iguana in Salt Lake City and tasted their sublime mole. We spent some period of time seeking out DDD recommended spots to sample their food as well..like the Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill, where they grill up that day’s catch and put it in a taco for you. Or the burger at Naglee Park Garage in San Jose. Look, I could go on here, and it’s almost lunch time, which means this is making me hungry. You see, we would not only eat this good food, but Mark would spend significant effort extolling the food that we were, at that very moment, eating. Each bite for him was a glorious experience and merited a thoughtful soliloquy. I learned from Mark that I needed to set aside any personal stressors and enjoy these simple things for what they were, when they were happening. Thank you.

Mark Likes Movies

napoleon_dynamite_by_kcbonxNow, this is an area in which Mark and I are very alike. I have a defined weakness for the silver screen, and will overlook massive plot and character flaws to enjoy the spectacle that I am watching. Movies really bring out the child in me, and I believe they do the same thing for Mark. I recall this time in LA, we decided to go see Taken at a downtown LA theater. As we watched this movie together, we both had VERY visceral reactions to it. As a father, it really pushed those “protector” buttons that got installed when my daughters were born. We would both cringe at the same moments, or pump our fists when the good guy did something COMPLETELY AWESOME. We left that theater vowing that our daughters would never travel in Europe without armed escort and nano-engineered protective body armor. Look, I know how unrealistic that sounds, and I know that the movie is overly-dramatized. Refer to sentence two, please, and cut me some slack. Mark, you taught me here to like what I like and not care what others thought, even if it’s dumb.

FYI — If you are wondering about the Napoleon Dynamite image, Mark grew up in Idaho, and verified that this movie is, in fact, a documentary and not fictional at all.

Mark Digs Technology

Mark spent all of his career working in sales for hi-tech companies, and he is invigorated by advances in tech and science. This is not something you would normally expect from a conservative Christian, but it is true. I remember when Mark was having problems with numbness and shoulder-neck pain, and he decided to get a new type of treatment that was being piloted in Phoenix. He did TONS of research and would gush about the technique, the doctors, and the amazing things they could do to alleviate his pain. Even now, faced with what he is faced with, Mark talks about the amazing advances being made in battling cancer and how they are helping him and his family. He has a deep faith, to be sure, and I do not doubt that he is bolstered by his friends and family through that faith during this time. Mark, you reinforced in me that my faith and my love of science and tech are not diametrically opposed thoughts.

Mark Loves His Family

That may seem strange to call out, as most of us consider it an assumption. But Mark was constantly talking about the accomplishments of his children. What guy his daughter was dating (or marrying, eventually), what school his sons were attending, or the mission on which his son was embarked. Whenever I travelled to his home city, Salt Lake, he would make an effort to involve me in some of his family time (usually over food. surprise). Mark would host movie nights in his back yard and put up a bed-sheet screen for friends and family to enjoy. Mark’s adoration for his wife Kellie was always apparent. Mark, thank you for including me in those brief moments with your family. Those moments are cherished memories.

I hope this gives you a sense of who Mark is to me. I know that we often are different people to the people we interact with, but this is my Mark. He is approaching his situation with grace and poise, and the love he has for others is apparent, even in the brief messages we have exchanged since I learned of his illness. My hope for you, dear reader, is that somewhere in your life you have or have had a Mark Jolley. Your life is a little less without it.

Thank you, Mark. Thank you.

The Brevity of This Life

I just heard some incredibly troubling news. A friend, and a coworker for ~5 years, has been diagnosed with brain cancer and has about four months to live. I won’t use his name because I do not have his permission, and I don’t have all the details.

This is hitting me incredibly hard.

He was the territory sales guy at my last company, and I was the sales engineer. This translates into the two of us spending LOADS of time together…flying to various cities, driving to/from our meetings, sharing meals, etc. When you spend THAT much time with a person, you can’t help but make a connection.

I’m going to write more about this at another time, I think. I can’t even organize my thoughts about this appropriately. He and his family are religious people, as am I, so I would ask that you pray. Pray that he has as little pain as possible. Pray that his wife and kids find peaceful moments in the midst of this mess. Pray that, when I talk to him, I can say the good things and not the stupid things.

This sucks. And cancer sucks even more.

On Birthdays

screen-shot-2013-05-27-at-9-54-39-pm1

Yesterday was my birthday (it’s too late! don’t say it!). This year I turned 44. There are many interesting things about the number 44, but my favorite is that it is a “happy number.”

For those that don’t feel like they have time to follow the link, a happy number is defined as any positive integer, you replace the number by the sum of the the squares of its digits until you reach one, or until it loops cyclically without ever reaching one.  In my case,

  • (4×4) + (4×4) = 32
  • (3×3) + (2×2) = 13
  • (1×1) + (3×3) = 10
  • (1×1) + (0x0) = 1

Pretty cool, huh? Also, it goes without saying that if your number does not follow these rules, it is defined as an unhappy number. So sad for you.

The picture, which I failed to mention until just now, is what the Google displays on your birthday, if Google knows it’s your birthday. In all likelihood, Google knows. But that’s a topic for another time. Another blog, even.

My goals as a 44 year old? Well, I am on my way to being in the best shape I have been in since high school, so I want to continue that trend. I’m going to ride my first full century this year as well. I’m going to focus more of my time and energy into my close relationships. And I am going to finish up my much-needed work certifications. A big list, I know. But I think I can do it.

Have a great weekend. Mine will be spent…happily.

Memorial Day Musings

I keep seeing posts like this all over twitter:

jewel-tweet

I think I am qualified to give an answer (I’ll explain in a bit). If you want to skip all that and just know what my answer is…well, it’s YES. Yes, that is exactly why they gave their lives.

Here comes an origin story. Just so you know.

I joined the US Navy in August of 1989, and spent two years in training. After those two years, I was transferred to the USS Arkansas. We called it the Arkatraz. Anyway, I was transferred to that ship in 1991, shortly after the beginning of hostilities known as Desert Shield and Desert Storm. My ship was not in theater during the initial action, as they were ferrying folks to safety after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines. I arrived on board in August of 1991, shortly after the Arkatraz entered the Persian Gulf and began escorting vessels from Kuwait through mine-infested waters towards open sea.

That’s the Navy bit. Let me give you some personal history of 1991 for me.

On February 9th, 1991, I married the love of my life, Teresa. I didn’t know about the whole “love of my life” thing at the time, but it has certainly born out to be so. She’s pretty cool. We were married after an incredibly short time of dating and engagement (11 months total, IIANM). I was attending my C school training at Mare Island, CA (back when it was a Navy base), and was scheduled to finish that in July.

On July 1st, after years of various treatments and much family stress, my father died. I’m not going to get into it too much here. Maybe another time…but it was a mere 4.5 months after I was married.

In August, I caught a ride on a plane (8 hours), then another plane (12 hours), then another plane (6 hours), and then a helicopter (7 hours) to take me to my ship, the USS Arkansas.

So, there I am…married ~ six months, one month removed from the loss of my dad, on a floating tin can in the middle of the ocean surrounded by people I didn’t know and tasked with operating in a war-time environment.

Not my most stable mental period in my life.

So…where did my mind go? As with all people, I believe, I would mentally retreat into times of safety, warmth, and joy, when I could “unfocus” from the loss, stress, and pain. I would remember Sunday afternoon potlucks at the LaRue Co. Church of Christ. Or playing ping-pong and Nintendo with Chad, Brandon, and my math teacher, Mr. Shaw. I would recall my first date with Teresa. Or when we ordered room service pizza and watched Star Trek TNG at the Claremont Hotel in Oakland on our wedding night.

And I would remember my new father-in-law grilling tri-tip in his backyard on Sunday afternoons.

And I can GUARANTEE that those soldiers, sailors, marines, and whatever-air-force-people-are-called that were engaged in active hostile action, hostile action that took their lives, were thinking about the same kinds of things.

So, eat your charred meat. Drink a frosty beverage, and sit on the couch and relax. Take a moment, just a moment, and say a small prayer of thanks to those women and men that died to protect your ability to do so. They wouldn’t have it any other way.