My Pumpkin Preferences

Last week, I wrote very thoroughly about my love for “Forrest Gump.” As I pretty much appreciate every scene in that movie, it goes without saying that I enjoy the scene where Bubba tells Forrest about all the different types of shrimp. The film makes it seem like Bubba rattles off varieties of shrimp for hours (if not days) as the two friends complete army tasks.

Much in the same way that Bubba explained different kinds of shrimp, I feel most people could recite a list dealing with pumpkin. This day and age, it seems like there isn’t an entrée, side item, drink, or dessert that can’t be pumpkin-inspired. In my opinion, it has gotten a little bit out of control but who am I to judge? In fact, when it comes to judging, I think the only opinion I am entitled to would be the pumpkin products that I actually like.

So, for tonight’s blog post I am going to present my top five favorite pumpkin made/inspired/flavored products made for consumption.

5. Pumpkin Beer – Brews like Pumpking and the hundred other pumpkin beers out there are very popular. I happen to like an occasional pumpkin adult beverage too. However, my stomach can only take one of them and to be honest, South Carolina isn’t the best “pumpkin beer drinking” state. I can feel good doing most Halloween activities in any climate but if I am really going to savor a pumpkin beer I like it to be crisp outside with the smell of fall swirling around. Currently here in Myrtle Beach it is humid and hovering around 83 degrees.

4. Pumpkin Soup – I am a big soup fan and one of my favorites is pumpkin soup. The way I see things, it is the liquid version of pumpkin pie. I love the taste and I love the way it goes down. When I worked at the University of Montana, all game personnel would get fed before basketball games. A couple times each season the menu would include pumpkin soup and that was when I was the absolute happiest.

3. Pumpkin Frozen Yogurt – When I was younger, we would go to a mom-and-pop frozen yogurt place (Didier’s for my Spokane friends) on occasional Tuesday nights. This was way before the froyo craze. Each week the yogurt handles would rotate and once October hit, a flavor called pumpkin spice would be offered. The flavor was a sign to me that my birthday and Halloween were both coming and I always made sure to order it. I kid you not, you could taste the pumpkin and you could taste the spice. A little bit of nostalgia might be responsible for why this item is on the list but it honestly was very good.

2. Pumpkin Dip – A couple weeks ago when we were tailgating at the Clemson-Louisville football game, my sister-in-law introduced an incredible addition to our pregame spread. She made pumpkin dip! The stuff was incredible. It was literally like scooping out pumpkin pie. Making it even better was what we used to enjoy the dip. Get this…we had the option of going with either vanilla wafers or graham crackers. Of course I went with both!

1. Pumpkin Pie – People either love or hate pumpkin pie; you can count me in the former. It doesn’t matter if it is hot or cold, I love myself a big piece of pumpkin pie with a generous amount of whipped topping. I enjoy the taste and texture of the pie along with the element that the whipped topping brings. I also enjoy pumpkin pie just because it reminds me so much of family and the holidays. I take a bite and I seem to immediately be surrounded by warmth and love. When a food makes you feel like that, there is no way you deny it the top spot on a countdown.


I am not a pumpkin fanatic by any means but I do enjoy some of the dishes inspired by this very popular seasonal fruit. Am I missing out on a pumpkin dish that I have to try? Please let me know and if you make it for me I just might eat it. Don’t Blink.

Games We Played Outside

I have said in several past blog posts that my parents didn’t believe in gaming systems. Growing up, despite asking several times at Christmas, we never had a Nintendo or Sega. This stance my parents took was a big reason why we spent so much time playing outside. Looking back on it now, I am glad we were raised that way.

We grew up on a street with a bunch of other kids. Although we had a park across the street from us, it seemed like most of the summer fun took place right in our yard! For tonight’s blog post I want to share the five games/activities we played the most while living in our house on Guinevere Drive.

Whiffle Ball – No doubt about, whiffle ball was the signature game played at the Reser household. For several years growing up, we played every single day during the summer. Our front lawn provided us a large square of immaculately cut grass to play on. A fence dividing our house from the next door neighbor’s home served as our home run barrier. Our whiffle ball games consistently brought together about ten kids and we took it so seriously that we kept track of our stats over the summer. Although my dad despised it that we roughed up his prized lawn, we still always managed to get our games in.

I can’t stop writing about this without mentioning one other thing. Our neighbors had a huge pine tree in their yard (over the left field fence). We lost countless whiffle balls by hitting home runs into that tree. While it was very frustrating buying a whole new package of balls in the morning and losing them all by the afternoon, it was definitely a distinguishable quirk of our mini ballpark.

I am using this photo to show you the field, the fence, and the tree that helped to comprise our whiffle ball playground.

I am using this photo to show you the field (half of it), the fence, and the tree that helped to comprise our whiffle ball playground.

Hide-And-Seek – While some might equate hide-and-seek as a game for toddlers, a group of us neighbor kids spanning in age from 6-14 years old thought it was the greatest thing ever. During those long summer Spokane nights we would get a big group together and play a game that had boundary lines stretched around several different houses. However, home base was always the large maple tree in our front yard. We would hide in bushes, garages, and back yards. When we thought the coast was clear we would then make a mad dash to the sanctuary of the maple tree where we would slap the trunk to save us from being “it” the next round.

Basketball – My mom calls the basketball hoop my dad and his friends installed in our driveway as “the best investment we ever made.” The hoop was retractable so we could set it to regulation height and play serious pickup games or we could lower it to eight feet and throw down monster dunks. It was also a superb set up for one-on-one games as well, giving my brother and I an outlet to always compete against each other. It wasn’t always peaceful on that court as occasional arguments did break out but we had so many great memories on that hoop. Over 20 years since the installation, it still stands there to this day with the hand prints of the Reser kids still clearly visible in the cement that was poured to secure the structure.

This was the basketball hoop that received hours and hours and hours of use. The cement around the bottom of the pole has our handprints on it (thanks mom for taking this photo).

This was the basketball hoop that received hours and hours and hours of use. The cement around the bottom of the pole has our handprints on it (thanks mom for taking this photo).

Croquet – In middle school I bought a very well-used croquet set from a yard sale. My friend had one and we enjoyed it so much that I wanted to get one for when we were over at my house. We would set up the course and swing away. Before I made the purchase it was a rare site for neighbors to see a croquet game going on in our lovely neighborhood but we changed all that after the yard sale. We drew up tournaments and played for money. It got pretty tense but it was certainly a great summer activity.

Snow Games – Everything we did outside wasn’t always when the grass was green and the weather warm. Living in Spokane we got our fair share of heavy snow. Because we lived on the busiest street of our neighborhood, we knew whatever snow creations we made would receive optimal exposure via car traffic and the constant stream of kids walking by with their sleds to get to the park. With this in mind, we made many snow people, putting in our best effort. Aside from Frosty we used the snow for other fun purposes. One year we had so much of the white stuff that my dad was able to carve out a human maze for us to go through in our front yard! Additionally, my mom was responsible for a snow activity I loved to do when I was a little bit younger. She would pour water into a spray bottle and mix it with food coloring. She would then send me outside to shoot the colored liquid at the snow.


We had such a ball (pun semi intended) growing up outside. Neighbors I never met before have told my parents that they enjoyed watching us grow up outside as they walked or drove by! I am thankful that I had a safe place to enjoy some of the finer parts of my childhood and I will always cherish the memories. Don’t Blink.

Sidney’s Spokane Bucket List

When Sidney arrived in Spokane a few days after I did this past month, she had a list. Now I know the term “bucket list” is very much overused and misapplied in our society but we don’t know what else to call it. During our time in Washington, we kept referring to Sidney’s northwest goals as her “Spokane Bucket List.”

Upon her arrival, we quickly started checking items off. Since Sidney is a southern girl and since it was a winter Spokane Bucket List, you could imagine that most items centered on the weather. Thanks to Spokane for delivering on a certain type of precipitation that Sidney really wanted to see, we completed most of the items with ease. How about we take a look at how she fulfilled the items on her list?

Shoveling Snow – We will start with the most mundane item on the list that also happened to be the first one completed. Sid wanted to experience the “joy” of shoveling snow. Arriving in Spokane a little past midnight on December 22, she was out shoveling with us several short hours later that morning. She woke up to the sounds of my mom and I hastily shoveling out my neighbor who had massive amounts of snow and ice at the foot of her driveway courtesy of the county snow plow. Sidney watched us do the heavy work from our living room window and then joined in on the fun when we came back over to our house to do our own driveway. After a few swipes with the shovel, Sid was a pro.

Unfortunately I don't have a photo of Sidney shoveling snow. However, I do have this photo of a snowman we built!

Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of Sidney shoveling snow. However, I do have this photo of a snowman we built!

Sledding – I grew up sledding with my friends. Since we lived across the street from a park with big hills (and plenty of snow), the entertainment was endless. Never once in her life had Sidney enjoyed this winter activity that I took for granted. Last week my sister let us borrow her sleds and Sidney and I ventured over to the park that I had so much fun in as a kid. We spent time in our traditional and saucer sleds going down the hills that didn’t seem as big to me as I remembered them. Sid learned that sledding is a tiring activity! Soaring down the hills head first is exhilarating but running back up the hill in the deep snow is not. However, the cardiovascular workout was well worth the thrills we both got as we had the whole park to ourselves.

I had a wonderful time taking Sidney sledding.

I had a wonderful time taking Sidney sledding.

Ice Skating – This item on the bucket list goes back quite a bit. It seems like since we first started dating, Sidney has expressed her desire to go ice skating. On a night downtown with my brother and his girlfriend, we made it happen. After drinks at a River Park Square restaurant and a walk through the Riverfront Park light display, Sidney had her chance on the pavilion ice rink. Since I am a terrible ice skater and my brother isn’t much better, we sat in the stands and took photos while Sidney and Ashley (my brother’s girlfriend) skated around the winter wonderland. Sid picked up the skill extremely quickly and looked great making circles around the rink. When she got off the ice I could tell she was so happy to have had the opportunity to ice skate…it was very cute.

Sidney ice skating with Ashley to her right.

Sidney ice skating with Ashley to her right.

Gondola Ride – This was Sidney’s third visit to Spokane. The prior times she had eyed the gondola cars hovering over the Spokane Falls. Because of time constraints, we never made it to the attraction. However, this time around with an open schedule and the city covered in beautiful white snow, we knew there wouldn’t be a better opportunity to do it. We went back to downtown Spokane, purchased tickets, and jumped in a gondola car. We went across the falls while Sidney got to Facetime her dad for a portion of it. Although I got a little queasy right at the beginning because our car/cage was rocking back and forth so much, I loosened up and we both enjoyed the ride and spectacular views.

Here is a gondola collage I posted to Instagram. The photo on top is of us inside the gondola car. The image on the lower left is a view of the falls from the gondola. The image on the bottom right is just of Riverfront Park not taken from the gondolas.

Here is a gondola collage I posted to Instagram. The photo on top is of us inside the gondola car. The image on the lower left is a view of the falls from the gondola. The image on the bottom right is just of Riverfront Park not taken from the gondolas.

White Christmas – This was the big one. All Sidney wanted was a white Christmas and she definitely got it. I didn’t even have to sweat it out either. It snowed the whole time we were in Spokane and it was guaranteed days before that Christmas would be white. She enjoyed the traditional conditions in Spokane while her family in Myrtle Beach celebrated the holiday in 80 degree temperatures. We went out and took photos in front of the deep snow and Sid gleefully posted one to her Facebook account. Snow on Christmas isn’t always a sure thing so I was happy that Mother Nature pulled though.

Sidney and I posing in front of the snow on Christmas Day.

Sidney and I posing in front of the snow on Christmas Day.

Check, check, check, check and…….check! Sidney satisfactorily completed her Spokane Bucket List and I was honored to be along for the ride. Because of Sid’s motivation, some simple planning by me, and a little bit of luck with the weather everything went smoothly. Don’t Blink.

A Holiday Trip Home Where I Really Felt the Spirit

After a day of travel, I am back in Myrtle Beach. Bright and early tomorrow morning I will resume my normal routine at Coastal Carolina University. As is the case with most vacations, it is always a little hard to get back on the saddle after having such a fun and carefree time.

I had an incredible stay in Spokane. I could recap the hundred different things I did over the past two plus weeks or I could just briefly describe what made my time at home so memorable. I choose the latter.

I can't thank my parents enough for providing me with such a great time while I was in Spokane.

I can’t thank my parents enough for providing me with such a great time while I was in Spokane.

This trip I stayed within Spokane limits the whole time. I didn’t pack the schedule with mini trips or Pacific Northwest sightseeing adventures. Instead, majority of my time was spent in my comfy childhood home on Guinevere Drive sitting by the fireplace with my loved ones. We chatted, we played games, we sipped hot chocolate, and we enjoyed each other’s company.

It just really felt like Christmas in Spokane.

It just really felt like Christmas in Spokane.

This trip I got to do the small but meaningful tasks with my family members. I worked out with my dad at 4:30 a.m. on several mornings. I ran errands all over town with my mom. I went to story time at the local library with my sister and niece. I went “Christmas shopping” with my brother as we visited a couple bars to pick up gift cards (and a drink or two).

I even had the opportunity to spend one-on-one time with my parents. This photo was taken at a restaurant in downtown Spokane.

I even had the opportunity to spend one-on-one time with my parents. This photo was taken at a restaurant in downtown Spokane.

This trip I welcomed my fiance to enjoy the holidays with my family. Sidney arrived in town on December 21 and did everything with us that incorporates our Reser family traditions. The whole time Sidney was right in the middle of our celebrations from making gingerbread houses to attending Christmas Eve mass to finding the pickle in the tree to opening gifts to watching our traditional Christmas Day movie at the theater to enjoying our New Year’s Day meal.

Sidney got to enjoy the holidays with my family. In this photo she is with my mom, my niece, and my sister.

Sidney got to enjoy the holidays with my family. In this photo she is with my mom, my niece, and my sister.

This trip I got to spend a significant amount of time with my niece. Babies grow so fast and it is tough that I don’t get to see Mikayla that often but we did all we could to make up for lost time. Every single day during the second full week I was there, my sister brought Mikayla over to my mom’s. I got to play with her, hold her, and talk to her. She warmed up to me throughout the trip and I became very attached. It was tough to say goodbye to her last night.

I really enjoyed hanging out with my niece.

I really enjoyed hanging out with my niece.

This trip I soaked in the special feeling of the holidays. Everything seemed so right. Spokane was covered in snow. Everyone I needed was underneath one roof. All of us Reser siblings had our significant others around. The Christmas spirit seemed to swirl throughout my parents’ household. It was nice.

It was a big deal to have all of us Reser siblings and our significant others together.

It was a big deal to have all of us Reser siblings and our significant others together.

Thanks a million to my wonderful family for making my 2015/2016 holiday trip so memorable. I am very thankful for your love and support. Sidney and I will see you in five months at our wedding. Don’t Blink.

Heading Out West for the Holidays

I am going home for the holidays! But, as usual, when your hometown is on the other side of the country it takes a little bit of work to get there.

I am moments away from getting in the car with a work colleague (and friend) who will drive me the two hours to the Charleston airport. I will then board a plane that will fly me non-stop all the way to Seattle. From there I will hop on another plane that will take me to my destination of Spokane. Sounds easy enough, right?

Well, it is nice to only have one flight connection but there is something I can’t avoid and that is the six hour flight from Charleston to Seattle. Yes, SIX hours. I have never been in the air for that long before. I know when the captain announces that it is time to prepare for the final descent I will be extremely antsy.

I will arrive in Spokane at 11 p.m. tonight. As my internal clock will be on eastern time it will feel like 2 a.m. Add that late hour to the fact that I woke up at 5 a.m. today (as I do every weekday morning) combined with a half day of work, two hours of driving, and almost eight hours on a plane and I will most likely be spent.

But of course it is all completely worth it. As tired as I might be when I walk off the plane in Spokane, I will feel a jolt of energy when I see my parents, a certain kick that will probably stay with me the whole 15 days I am in the Lilac City.

Yes, I am psyched to spend over two weeks during the most special time of the year with family and friends. Sidney will arrive in town on Monday. Due to her teaching duties, she couldn’t leave in mid-December like I have the luxury of doing. However, once she arrives at the start of next week we will be in it for the long haul as we will fly back together on January 3.

I can’t wait to get on the other side of the country for some fun and relaxation. To my Spokane friends, feel free to reach out if you feel inclined. As for my blogging schedule, I won’t post as much while out west. However, I will definitely keep in touch. My vacation starts right now and I couldn’t be more excited. Don’t Blink.

Fourth Of July Thursday Rundown

A happy holiday weekend to you all! It is my hope that most of you will enjoy a vacation day tomorrow. What better way to kick off your elongated weekend than to read my west coast Thursday Rundown? Here we go!

Southern Cuisine Out West – Although Sidney and I are enjoying our time out west, it doesn’t mean we have abandoned all Southern traditions. Sidney (with help from my mom) prepared two South Carolina delicacies for my family to enjoy. Last night she made chicken bog which was greeted by rave reviews from my brother and sister. Today she and my mom joined forces to prepare boiled peanuts. I can’t wait to see the reaction from Glen and Miranda once they try them. Will the texture and non-traditional peanut properties turn them off? Or will they love them as much as me? We shall see!

The delicious southern treats we enjoyed over the past few days. Up top is chicken bog, below are boiled peanuts, and the photo on the right is my mom by the crock pot.

The delicious southern treats we enjoyed over the past few days. Up top is chicken bog, below is a container of boiled peanuts, and the photo on the right is my mom by the crock pot.

Beautiful, Beautiful Baby – I can’t get enough of my niece. Mikayla has grown so much since I last saw her but she is ADORABLE. She smiles, claps her hands, sits up, and reaches out for me. She is so precious. I have seen her just about every day since I have been here and she definitely has my heart. She is coming over again this evening and I can’t wait to hold her!

Some of my favorite shots of Mikayla this weekend.

Some of my favorite shots of Mikayla this weekend.

Wedding Bells – Tomorrow Sidney and I will head to Seattle with my brother as a chauffer. During the day I will show Sid the sights of the Emerald City. Come night we will be attending a wedding for my very good friend and mentor, Kenny. A subject of a blog post several months ago, Kenny will marry his boyfriend, Steve, at 7 p.m. tomorrow. Sidney and I are excited for the ceremony and the start of their life together.

Kenny and I on the sidelines in Clemson's Memorial Stadium in October of 2014.

Kenny and I on the sidelines in Clemson’s Memorial Stadium in October of 2014.

Fourth of July Plans – After the wedding festivities, we will head back in the eastern direction and travel to Walla Walla, Washington. I grew up making regular trips to the “town so nice they named it twice” because my parents grew up there and all of their extended family still enjoy residency in one of the best wine towns you will ever visit. On tap will be fun in the pool at my uncle’s, a stroll at the city park’s Fourth of July celebration, and then a BBQ that night with my dad’s family. It will be a fabulous and eventful holiday.

Me in Walla Walla at our family Fourth of July celebration in 2013.

Me in Walla Walla at our family Fourth of July celebration in 2013.

Pop-Its – With a fireworks ban here in Spokane, what I have pictured below accounts for the only pyrotechnics you will find in Spokane (fireworks are legal in Walla Walla, however). Sidney bought a few boxes of Pop-Its at Walgreens and we played with them the other night. Sid was fascinated that I would snap them with my fingers, thinking it would hurt. While I have no problem popping them with my hands, I did not accept a challenge from a Periscope user. The person told me to detonate them with my teeth…no thank you.

Sid holding the Pop-Its.

Sid holding the Pop-Its.


Happy Fourth of July, everyone! I wish you a wonderful patriotic holiday. If you wish to receive my holiday text message and aren’t on my regular distribution list, please contact me. God bless America. Don’t Blink.

Going Back to My Roots

I am enjoying my vacation out west immensely but I would be lying if I said it doesn’t feel weird not writing five times a week. With a hectic schedule the past several days, I have not posted at the typical rate that many of my readers expect. Hopefully you can forgive me.

I did want to update you on a couple fun ventures I have embarked on over the last week. First of all, I completed my seventh year as a court monitor this past weekend for Spokane’s Hoopfest. While all the locals complained about the 100+ degree heat as they pretty much melted on the asphalt, I was doing my thing while saying “What’s the big deal?” The Southern humidity conditioned me well and I had no problem staying out in the extreme conditions for ten straight hours on Saturday and eight hours on Sunday.

As for my court, I must say from top to bottom it was the most talented bracket I had ever officiated. With the high talent level came high competitive juices. Two fights broke out under my watch throughout the weekend. At the end of the game that contained the second fight, the instigator, who was a huge bald man with a goatee stood on top of the curb and yelled at me. With his already intimidating presence magnified by the few extra inches given to him by where he stood, it was a nerve-wracking experience. Luckily the Hoopfest rapid response team was right there to keep me safe.

Me meeting with two of the teams in my bracket prior to the game.

Me meeting with two of the teams in my bracket prior to the game.

A couple personal memories from Hoopfest 2015 will be forever documented thanks to media coverage. KXLY, a local news station in Spokane, did a story about Sidney and I traveling so far to volunteer. To view Grace Ditzler’s report, click here. Also, a team in my bracket was composed completely of homeless gentlemen. KXLY was also on hand to tell that story. To view that report, click here. This past weekend was awesome and I owe a big thank you to Sidney, my mom, and my dad for all taking turns keeping score for me.

Just doing my job during Hoopfest 2015.

Just doing my job during Hoopfest 2015.

Yesterday, Sidney and I made the drive to Missoula, Montana. Driving over the two passes, it was Sidney’s first time ever seeing real mountains. Making the trip to Missoula was important to me because after 15 months since setting foot in the city, I wanted to go back to the place that gave me so much.

We arrived in Missoula at around 10:30 a.m. and went right to the University of Montana campus. Sidney and I walked straight to the Adams Center so I could say hi to all my former colleagues in the athletic department. It was nice chatting with these people who I worked so closely with over the span of five years. It was especially humbling that Kent Haslam, Montana’s athletic director, took time out of his day to talk with me for about 15 minutes.

After visiting with Grizzly Athletics, Sidney and I went outside and met Dan, one of my very best friends from my college years. We walked around the campus and then enjoyed lunch at the Press Box. From there we hit up the mall where we met another friend and then we ventured over to a bowling alley. Dan dominated Sidney and I over the course of three games in the outdated, empty building. Mad that he crushed us so bad, I dropped Dan off at his car and he made the trip back to Kalispell (thanks for making the day trip to see us, Dan).

We enjoyed walking around the beautiful University of Montana campus.

We enjoyed walking around the beautiful University of Montana campus.

After checking in at our hotel, we met up for drinks with my great friend Pete at a new place in Missoula called the Thomas Meagher Bar. After some great conversation, Sid and I went to one of my favorite places in the city, the Iron Horse, to meet Shaun Rainey, his wife Britt, and their new son Brandon for dinner. We had a delightful time catching up and sharing a few laughs. From there I took Sidney around downtown Missoula where we made a few stops at some of the city’s famous watering holes. We returned to Spokane early this morning.

Shaun and I in the photo on top, Pete and I in the photo in the bottom left corner, and a view of the scenery on the drive back.

Shaun and I in the photo on top, Pete and I in the photo in the bottom left corner, and a view of the scenery on the drive back.

I am excited for the next couple days. While I enjoyed the hectic-nature of the past week, I am looking forward to just relaxing around the house for the next 48 hours. I plan to use every minute to enjoy myself and re-charge. Come Friday we will be traveling again on what will be a very busy few days.

Hope the month of June was a great one for you. As always, it was awesome for me. In a blog post at the start of the month, I mentioned how June of 2015 was going to be a special one for me…you would say my prediction was spot on, right? Don’t Blink.

Heading Home for Summer Vacation

It is the eve of another long trip out west for me. Don’t take that as a complaint by any means, I am stoked! Whenever you get to go home it is a joyous occasion. Tomorrow after work I will rush to my place, grab my bags, and head off to the airport to begin my trek to Spokane.

This particular trip, just from the travel standpoint, will differ a little bit from my flights during the holidays. First off, I will have a travel partner! Sidney (more than just my travel partner) will be at my side the whole time. Although she visited Spokane for a short period during the Christmas holiday, this occasion she will be with me every step of the way starting when we take off from Myrtle Beach tomorrow to when we return on July 8. Additionally, we will tough it out through an interesting experience as we spend the night in the Seattle airport. Throughout my flying career I have never spent a whole evening at the airport but that is the price you pay when you fly weird times in the middle of the week.

It will be very well worth it. We have a lot planned over the next two weeks. After a one year hiatus, I will once again volunteer at Hoopfest, the planet’s largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the world. Back for my seventh season as a court monitor, I am excited to once again be part of my hometown’s signature event. After Hoopfest weekend, we will venture outside of Spokane and make visits to Missoula, Seattle (outside of the airport), and Walla Walla. I can’t wait to show Sidney these western cities!

Of course the best part of this impending trip is the opportunity to see my family. In addition to my parents, brother, and sister, I will be reunited with my niece who is now 9 months old. She has grown so much since I last saw her at Christmas. Snapchat videos can only do so much justice. I will also meet a new member of the family for the first time. My parents welcomed a kitten into their home about three months ago and I can’t wait to meet and play with her.

There is one thing awaiting us out in Washington state that I didn’t anticipate a couple weeks ago, however. The area is expecting record heat throughout the next several days. Hoopfest weekend has forecasted temperatures for 100 degrees and 104 degrees. Sure the humidity won’t be as intense as I am used to down South but let’s not kid ourselves….100 degrees is 100 degrees. When we arrive on Spokane soil we will be fully expecting a scorcher.

But it doesn’t matter, 0 degrees or 100 degrees, I am so excited for a vacation with my loved ones. For those of you who live in the places I mentioned, I hope that we can connect. Over the next couple weeks my posts to Don’t Blink might decrease a little bit. Never fear, I will be back at it after that first week in July. West coast here I come. Don’t Blink.

Embarrassing Attention for my Hometown

During the lunch hour today, Sidney and I met up at a local burrito place for lunch. We got our food, sat down, and gazed up at one of the televisions. The TV was set to a national news channel and sure enough, the hot story of the moment, which just happens to take place in my hometown, was up on the screen. The screaming headline taking up the lower third of the television read “NAACP Leader Resigns.”

Ah yes, the curious case of Rachel Dolezal. For those who don’t know (and I wish there were more of you) Dolezal was the President of the Spokane NAACP chapter. She recently came under fire because she was caught doing something dishonest. While the unraveling of her scheme played out, her biological parents came forward with some interesting news. The mom and dad said that Dolezal did not have one ounce of African blood in her. The former NAACP leader had claimed for a long time on official documents that she was part African-American.

This whole ordeal has turned into a bizarre tale of twists and turns, one that we will undoubtedly see on Dateline a couple years from now. Catching the curiosity of so many is that Dolezal didn’t just identify as black on forms, she also tried to alter her appearance to look black and referred to herself as black on social media.

Rachel Dolezal as a girl and then what she looks like currently.

Rachel Dolezal as a girl and then what she looks like currently.

We now live in a society where you can pretty much be anything you want to be when it comes to gender or race. Agree with it or not, it is where we are. Because of this, I won’t condemn Dolezal for trying to portray herself as black. However, I will call her out for what she did to draw attention to her in the first place. You see, the woman has made a career of staging fake hate crimes against her. She will send hate mail to herself, disguising it as anonymous vile that was directly sent to her because of her “African” heritage. This past time she attempted the scheme she got sloppy and investigators jumped in. Her parents then emerged with her secret.

The lies of Rachel Dolezal have impacted many. A large number of people probably have serious gripes against her. My only trivial complaint is that she is defacing the name of my hometown. If I walk inside a restaurant 3,000 miles away and they happen to be talking about Spokane, it better be about the Gonzaga basketball team or some kid doing well in a geography bee. I don’t want to eat lunch over some compulsive liar/attention-seeker who is making the Lilac City a laughing stock.

When I return to Spokane in ten days, I wonder if I will bump into her at the airport. For some reason I don’t think she will be sticking around town for that much longer. Best of luck to her as she gets her life back together but I am really rooting for this story to run its course so Spokane can save face. Don’t Blink.

Two Grueling Trips

As someone who prides himself on keeping long hours and sleeping as little as possible, I think I may have bitten off even more than I could chew. A few months ago, I booked my two holiday vacations to visit my family in Washington state. In order to maximize the time I would have with my family, minimize the amount of work I would miss, and pay the lowest price possible, I opted to purchase red-eye Sunday night return flights to Myrtle Beach for both my Thanksgiving and Christmas trips. I learned that traveling like that was a little harder than I had thought.

On Sunday night, after a delay, I flew out of Spokane to Portland. After backtracking to the Rose City and playing on my phone through a two-hour layover I caught a plane that took me on a four and a half hour odyssey to Charlotte. Although still dark when I landed in Charlotte, the long plane ride and time zone change had turned the night to morning. From 6:15 a.m. to 7:15 a.m. I sat in the airport munching on my mom’s freshly baked banana bread until I boarded the aircraft that finally brought me home. At 8:45 a.m. I touched down in Myrtle Beach. My flight home from Thanksgiving was pretty much exactly the same except for instead of backtracking to Portland I reversed course to Seattle.

I snapped this photo as I boarded my plane in Spokane. I am still surprised we flew out on only a 30 minute delay.

I snapped this photo as I boarded my plane in Spokane. I am still surprised we flew out on only a 30 minute delay.

Now this three-stop cross country all-night trip was a monster in and of itself but there was still an obstacle in front of me that would screw up my already messed up internal clock even more: work. After grabbing my lugguage my clutch girlfriend picked me up and rushed me home. After a quick 20 minutes of changing clothes and gathering myself I hopped in my car and made the 25 minute commute to Coastal Carolina University. For the next seven hours I did my best to block out my jet lag/fatigue and get things done. To break up my zombie-like status and to make up for my missed morning workout, I hit the gym during my lunch hour. The best thing about doing that was not the exercise but the shower I was able to take afterwards. Flying all night does little to make you feel clean.

Both last night and the evening after I returned from Thanksgiving break I was on autopilot as I walked to my car at the end of the day. You might ask why I didn’t sleep much on the plane ride. Well, I didn’t shut my eyes on the short trips to Portland and Seattle because I wanted to make sure I was sleep-deprived enough to enter into a deep slumber once I boarded my long flights to Charlotte. However, sitting in a middle seat with no room both times resulted in me getting maybe two hours of terrible, choppy sleep. On both of my flights from Charlotte to Myrtle Beach I elected not to sleep because I didn’t want to be groggy once I landed. A single hour of sleep can sometimes do more harm than good.

I fly a modest amount and these two trips definitely strained me the most. It also gave me even more respect for professional athletes and entertainers who do this type of travel routinely and then perform at very high levels. Although I said above that I thought I may have bitten off a little more than I could chew with my travel arrangements, I would still say it was worth it (if that makes sense). You see, it is important to me to spend every possible minute with my family while also making it back in time for the start of the work week. Yes, it was a little harder than what I thought but for me it was worth the sacrifice. On future trips don’t look it past me to book the red-eye again. Don’t Blink.