99 Cents Thursday Rundown

It is the most significant Thursday of the year—Holy Thursday. I almost feel silly offering up five topics on a day like this but as I have written on Holy Thursday in the past I will do it today as well…

Inside the Fire Truck – In Tuesday night’s blog post I mentioned that we visited the Walla Walla Children’s Museum over the weekend. Although it might not scream “museum exhibit,” it did offer an old Milton-Freewater fire truck. It was totally fair game for the kids to climb on and explore inside. Beau and his cousin, Johnny, loved getting behind the wheel. I thought this photo was pretty adorable.

Johnny and Beau loved getting inside the Milton-Freewater fire truck at the Walla Walla Children’s Museum.

AriZona Tea – I read a really interesting article yesterday about AriZona iced tea. The story detailed that despite inflation, AriZona has managed to stay priced at 99 cents for its entire 30 years of existence. How is it managing to do that, especially during these trying times? Well, the company is simply sucking it up. AriZona is making less money but the founder and chairman says he won’t increase the price. He feels that Americans are already the victims of too many price increases and if it means he is going to lose money if he doesn’t follow the trend, then so be it. I found the piece economically stimulating so if you have time be sure to check it out.

AriZona Iced Tea has always been 99 cents and, according to its founder, always will be.

Easter Candy – It was four years ago that I wrote about my favorite Easter candy. Admittedly, I placed more emphasis on the commercialized part of Easter than I should have as a kid and gorged on Easter treats. Although I have straightened out my priorities over the years when it comes to the importance of the holiday, I still enjoy eating Easter candy. My top Easter candy are Cadbury mini eggs. Speaking of Cadbury, the company’s signature egg also found a spot on the list. So did a very specific type of jelly bean. If you want more details, you will just have to read the post.

In 2018, I listed my favorite Easter candy.

National Dolphin Day/National Pecan Day – Today is National Dolphin Day so I feel I should flashback to when Sidney and I swam with the dolphins in Cancun just about six years ago. It was the one thing that Sidney really, really wanted to do on our honeymoon so I made sure to make it happen. It is also National Pecan day and I will once again admit that the way many of us pronounce the nut (PEE-CON) is flat out wrong. Did we all just skip Hooked on Phonics as a kid? When I lived in South Carolina it totally made sense that it should be pronounced phonetically as PEE-CAN. Okay, got that off my chest.

A photo of Sidney and I swimming with dolphins 6 years ago.

Grilled Cheese – Would you buy a $13.50 grilled cheese? I did. Last weekend when we were in Walla Walla we ate at a downtown restaurant called Red Monkey. The “Ultimate Grilled Cheese” came with American, swiss, pepper jack, and sharp yellow cheeses. However, while the bread was decent, it sure didn’t seem like it was packed with four thick, gooey cheeses. It wasn’t my best menu selection for sure. Although I must say that the macaroni and cheese, which I upgraded to for +$2.50 (instead of fries), was the bomb.

I just don’t think this $13.50 grilled cheese was worth it.


As we mark Good Friday tomorrow, let us keep in mind how easily we can turn on God when things don’t go our way. But once Sunday comes around, let us enthusiastically celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord. I wish everyone a very happy Easter. Don’t Blink.

A Walla Walla 60th Birthday Party Weekend

This past weekend we were in Walla Walla again. We were there previously in February but that was a tough trip—we were there for my Aunt Nancy’s funeral. This time around we were centering a family weekend around my Aunt Debbie’s 60th birthday. Although Nancy was still ever present in our hearts and minds, this trip had a few more smiles than the last one (quick video of the weekend).

We traveled to Walla Walla to celebrate my Aunt Debbie’s 60th birthday.

Sidney, Sloan, Beau, and I drove to Walla Walla on Friday afternoon. We met up with my parents, my sister, and her family at the Holiday Inn Express. After we checked in and got settled, we went out to dinner—well, everyone but my dad. The poor guy had caught a stomach bug and would be confined to his hotel room’s bathroom for most of the weekend.

Sloan and Beau arrived to our hotel room in style!

We ate dinner at a downtown restaurant called the Red Monkey. It was really nice for our mid-size group to sit down and enjoy a meal together. Sloan and Beau always love it when they can dine with their cousins, Mikayla and John.

At the Red Monkey in Downtown Walla Walla I had the ultimate grilled cheese and mac & cheese.

After we returned from dinner I took Sloan to the hotel pool where we met Miranda, Jay, Mik, and John. The kids played in the swimming pool while the adults relaxed and chatted in the hot tub.

The kids had a nice night swim.

The next morning all of us met for the complimentary (and very impressive) breakfast. Despite the junior college baseball team that had us beat both in numbers and overall appetite, we took advantage of the many offerings and had our fill. It was a good way to start the day.

Sloan and Johnny stoked for the Holiday Inn Express breakfast.

After our food settled, Miranda, Jay, Sid, and I took our kids back to the pool area for swimming and hot tub lounging. Just like the night before, both children and adults were content in their respective waters.

Sloan and Johnny jump into the Holiday Inn Express pool.

We changed out of our bathing suits for street clothes and the eight of us went to the Walla Walla Children’s Museum to pass some time. The indoor exhibits were all really cool but our kids really liked what awaited them in the outdoor back area of the center. The lot had a teepee, sand boxes, and an old Milton-Freewater fire truck that the kids could climb inside and on top of. That gave them a lot of entertainment.

Sloan, Mikayla, and Johnny play on the top of the Milton-Freewater fire truck at the Walla Walla Children’s Museum.

Once we left the museum, Sid, Sloan, Beau, and I went to Applebee’s for lunch. It was a nice, quiet, and relaxing time with just the four of us, the perfect break in what was a busy day.

Enjoying lunch at the Walla Walla Applebee’s.

After we ate we returned to the hotel and relaxed for about an hour before heading off to the main event. My Aunt Judy had reserved the indoor community center at the famous Pioneer Park for my Aunt Debbie’s party. About 40 Resers and friends were there to welcome my aunt to the 60 Club. Dang, it was a fun time. We had hot dogs, snapped photos at the photo booth, played games, drank beverages, and celebrated Debbie.

Sidney and I posing in front of my Aunt’s 60th birthday backdrop.

Oh yeah, there was also an Easter egg hunt for the kids.

Sloan looks for eggs during the Easter egg hunt at Pioneer Park in conjunction with my aunt’s 60th birthday party.

But back to Debbie for just one second. She turned 60 but doesn’t look anywhere close to it. I think it is a reward for having one of the sweetest souls you will ever come across. I was so happy to attend her party and celebrate what a spectacular woman she is.

My Aunt Debbie is AWESOME. So glad I got to celebrate her 60th birthday with her.

Because we have two small children, we bowed out at 9 p.m. and returned to our cozy hotel room. The next morning we woke up early and attended Palm Sunday mass at St. Francis of Assisi. I was actually baptized at St. Francis and attended mass numerous times throughout my childhood when we would visit my grandparents. It was my first time at the parish in about 15 years and although it has been renovated, I was proud to show Sidney the church that played a big role in my early life.

We attended Palm Sunday mass at St. Francis of Assisi, the church that I was baptized in.

After mass we returned to the hotel, ate breakfast, and checked out. Our Walla Walla weekend concluded with a visit to Bright’s Candy, the premier (and perhaps only) candy shop in Walla Walla. We purchased some Easter candy and hit the road for Spokane.

My mom, Sid, and Sloan inside Bright’s Candies in downtown Walla Walla.

The weekend getaway was perfect. Well, except for one thing: my dad didn’t get to enjoy it like the rest of us. But I can assure you that he is on the mend and will be ready to celebrate Easter with a full bill of health. Don’t Blink.

A Nice 2021

As I sit here and reflect on 2021, I am thankful that it was a year to adjust. After an insane 2020 that included the birth of Beau, a move across the country, and the beginning of a new job all while a global pandemic shook our world, things slowed down a little bit in 2021. It was our first full year in Spokane and with the easing of COVID restrictions, we took the last 12 months to become familiar with our new home.

Fr. Jeff Lewis blessed our home in 2021 as we took the year to take it easy after an insane 2020.

We have no complaints. This year wasn’t about us. Instead, we had the opportunity to celebrate others. Like Sid’s sister who gave birth to a handsome little boy, Jack. Or my brother and sister-in-law who wed on July 4. Or my parents who marked their 40th anniversary in August.

I was the best man at Glen and Carrie’s wedding.

With our loved ones thriving in the spotlight, we stayed backstage and really started making Washington our home. We solidified relationships, found a couple trusty coffee shops, played at a few favorite parks, became regulars at our local library, purchased season passes at Chuck E. Cheese, joined local swimming lessons, exercised hard with our gym community, stumbled upon a couple neighborhood watering holes, and so much more.

We spent a lot of time at Spokane parks in 2021.

Like I said, we spent most of the year on Spokane soil. That’s not to say we were stationary. We spent a May weekend in Walla Walla and had a blast. We visited Sid’s family in Myrtle Beach in June and are lucky to finish 2021 right here in South Carolina as well. We went camping in the middle of nowhere with my sister’s family. We ventured to Missoula. Sid and I took our first real vacation together in five years when we flew to Las Vegas for several days in July. We found our way back to Walla Walla in August where my parents rented a VRBO for a relative’s wedding weekend. I made numerous drives back and forth to Pullman for work but also spent a Saturday there with my dad and brother for a Cougar football game.

In August, we spent a family weekend in Walla Walla as my cousin got married.

As you can tell, a lot of our travels centered around family. But most of our everyday living did as well. We had numerous Sunday dinners with my parents, siblings, and their families. Although the setting changed from my dad’s backyard deck to the dining room of our childhood home depending on the season, the good times never ceased. Nor did they stop when we celebrated holidays, marked birthdays, or attended sporting events/shows. Although we didn’t have the quantity of time with Sidney’s family that we had with mine, we definitely matched it with quality. Just a couple weeks ago, we had a Myrtle Beach “staycation.” Sid’s parents rented a condo on the beach for us and the families of her two sisters. It was a really nice five days that preceded the Christmas holiday we also got to spend with them.

We got to celebrate lots of birthdays this year!

The other “F” value that flourished this year was our family’s faith. Our first full year as parishioners at St. Mary Catholic Church was blessed. We got to know our parish priest better and made friends with other church families. The relationships we started developing with our young adult Catholic group at the end of 2020 flourished in 2021. Beyond our regular meetings, we now all hang out together regularly at our homes. Sloan’s love for Jesus continued to grow as a student at St. Mary Catholic School. I committed to Fr. Mike Schmitz’s Bible in a Year Podcast and went through the entire book from Genesis through Revelation.

Photo we took of Sloan prior to her first day of school as a Pre-K 4 student at St. Mary Catholic School in Spokane Valley.

Professionally, 2021 was a solid year. The social media team became its own unit within University Marketing and Communications at Washington State University and I joined the department’s leadership team. My responsibilities increased and I had the privilege of taking on tasks for the first time in my career. I work for a terrific boss and collaborate with a talented and supportive team.

In March 2021, I celebrated my 1-year anniversary at WSU. So thankful to work for the Cougs!

Thanks be to God, it was a fortunate year for us. Despite a couple trips to the emergency room for our accident-prone Beau, everyone stayed healthy. We didn’t experience loss in our extended families. With a pandemic still very much impacting the world, the virus and its variants stayed away from us. Could we ask for much more?

This year was a blessing for our family.

As we close the book on 2021, I am thankful for what this year provided our family and our loved ones. I would be more than happy with another stable year in 2022 but I do know that even-numbered years usually bring our family more change and unpredictability than odd-numbered ones. We shall see. At the very least, let’s hope 2022 finally brings us some light at the end of the tunnel to the coronavirus. Amen to that, right? Don’t Blink.

Family Wedding Weekend to Cap Summer Events

Throughout the past few months I have chronicled our “Best Summer Ever” as I have written about the adventures we have embarked on a year after the summer of 2020 was, for all intents and purposes, canceled. Our last official special event of the season took place this past weekend.

We spent this past weekend in Walla Walla/Milton Freewater for a wedding. This is Sid, Sloan, and I at the reception.

My cousin, Taylor, got married on Saturday. She tied the knot on her family’s farm in Milton-Freewater, Oregon. My parents wanted to fit the event into a special weekend for our larger family. So, by early Friday evening, the four of us, my sister’s family, my brother and his wife, and my parents all converged on a VRBO in Walla Walla, Washington. Despite the different state, Walla Walla is moments away from the Oregon border, with Milton-Freewater being the first town you come to.

This was the VRBO that we stayed at in Walla Walla.

The VRBO my parents rented was beautiful and spacious. All four couples had their own rooms and the kids slept together in a large area in the basement. Although we had our own spaces throughout the house, we spent most of our time together in the upstairs living areas or in the backyard.

Mik, Johnny, and Sloan getting ready for bed.

On Friday, my dad’s siblings came over to join all of us for a big pizza party. Later that night, my siblings and our spouses sat around the table in the backyard and played games well past midnight. Doesn’t get much better for a summer evening, right?

On Friday night we all stayed up late in the backyard playing games.

On Saturday, we took the kids to the swimming pool at my uncle’s house. With the temperature soaring above 100 degrees, it was exactly what we needed. The kids had a blast splashing around in the pool while us adults were entertained by my uncle.

The kids playing in my Uncle Bob’s pool.

Later that day, us men were summoned to the wedding site to help with some setup. Back at the VRBO, the kids jumped on the trampoline while the women got ready for the wedding. The guys returned and we took our showers and then our group of 12 caravanned back to the farm for the 5:30 p.m. ceremony.

The VRBO had a trampoline in the backyard that was a big hit with the kids.

The farm was a gorgeous setting for a wedding. Horses roamed on the land while the bride and groom said their vows. The heat did make it a little tough for Beau to focus but I took him over to a couple giant ice buckets where he was content to pick and eat the cubes while Taylor and Kade got married.

Beau, Sid, Carrie, Mikayla, and Miranda on the farm prior to the wedding.

The reception took place in the barn and was a lot of fun. The kids danced themselves silly and I had the honor of speaking with several people on my mom’s side of the family who I had not talked to in years. As darkness fell the weather became milder and it was much easier to relax.

The kids swarm around Taylor and Kade during the “Coin Dance.”

After the wedding, we came back to the VRBO and we put the kids to bed. Then, all of us adults, including my parents, sat around a long table and talked late into the night. It was the perfect way to end the main festivities of the mid-August weekend.

During the ceremony, I kept Beau entertained by looking at the horses and playing in the ice.

When Sunday morning arrived we worked to pack up by the designated checkout time. This was one of those weekends where you just really wished you could stay another day or two. We visited my uncle on the way out of town before we all made the drive back to our respective homes in Spokane.

My mom and my uncle with the kids before we headed out of town on Sunday.

What a blessed family weekend it was and what a treat our parents organized for us. We are thankful for this experience and thankful for each other. Congrats Taylor and Kade! Don’t Blink.

Family Weekend in Walla Walla

My children finally visited Walla Walla.

This past weekend, the four of us traveled south to spend family time in a town that meant a lot to me growing up. Sidney and I wanted to make some memories with the kids so we chose the spot where several of my aunts, uncles, and cousins still live for a one-night getaway.

Now, to say that it was a breeze traveling to Walla Walla wouldn’t be entirely honest. A drive that would normally take a little under three hours took more than four due to FIVE stops along the way. Hey, when you have a toddler and infant what can you expect?

Once we finally arrived we went to my Uncle Bob’s house where he allowed us to cool off in his pool on the hot August afternoon. It was nice to play Sloan’s imaginary games in the water while also catching up with my uncle. It was his first time meeting both Sloan and Beau.

Sloan had a lot of fun swimming in my Uncle Bob’s pool.

From the pool, we checked into our lodging. We played up the fact to Sloan that it was going to be an “adventure” staying in a hotel and she completely bought it. Sloan thought it was the greatest thing that we had a hotel room and became obsessed with the vending machine.

Sloan loved getting to stay in a hotel!

After checking in, Sidney went with my cousin Abby to get her hair done. Abby is an excellent stylist and Sid was ready to get something done after more than a year since her last cut. During this time, my parents paid us a visit as they traveled to Walla Walla for the weekend as well (they started the trend) and my Aunt Nancy did too. After my parents left, Nancy, Sloan, Beau, and I went on a walk in downtown Walla Walla.

Nancy, Sloan, Beau, and I on our walk.

Later that evening, Abby returned a new wife to me! Seriously, Sid’s hair looked great! My Uncle Dick visited us and got his first glimpse of Beau.

Sid’s hair turned out beautiful!

We went to dinner at El Sombrero, a local Mexican restaurant right across the street from our hotel. I actually ate there a lot as a kid and it has only gotten better. Our meal was delicious and after we ate we returned to our room and went right to sleep.

We had a nice family dinner at El Sombrero.

Sunday started at the Maple Counter, a breakfast spot in downtown Walla Walla. Although we were split up because of social distancing, our party consisted of the four of us, my parents, Nancy, Abby (who was celebrating her birthday), and my Aunt Debbie. Just like with Bob and Dick, it was my aunt’s first time meeting Beau.

The Maple Counter in Walla Walla is a great breakfast spot.

Not too long after breakfast, Sidney, Sloan, Beau, and I went to Pioneer Park, an absolutely gorgeous and historic gigantic park in the city. We hit up the playground, admired the pond, and walked through the aviary. The Pioneer experience might have been my favorite part of the whole weekend.

Our stroll through Pioneer Park was a highlight of the trip.

We drove by the house my grandparents used to live in as well as the old family restaurant. As we made our way out of town, we made one last stop at Klickers, a store famous for fresh produce and really good ice cream. Along with peaches and cucumbers, we also got cones.

Sloan eating her cotton candy cone. I got maple nut.

Since Sid and the kids arrived in Spokane three months ago, we have spent all our time here. This past weekend was about getting out of Dodge and enjoying some family bonding. However, it was also about introducing our little ones to the relatives who love them so much. Walla Walla, thanks for a fun and meaningful 24 hours. Don’t Blink.

A Proper Transition for the Pastime Cafe

I am always intrigued when a business swoops in and sets up shop in an old building. I find it fascinating to see what is done to shoot new life into the structure and, if lucky, what is done to pay tribute to the building’s past. You commonly see businesses transform desolate apartment buildings, deserted movie theaters, and rundown grocery stores all the time. The only thing better than watching the transformation take place is walking inside the remodeled building once the ribbon is cut.

News of an upcoming major transformation project hit close to home yesterday. I learned that the site of some of my best childhood memories would finally get a facelift.

Growing up, I spent a lot of time at the family restaurant. Named the Pastime Café, the place served the best Italian food in Walla Walla, Washington. Don’t think it was a short run. For over 80 years, my mom’s family operated the Pastime. That’s right. For over eight decades, the prominent but blue collar Italian joint on Main Street in the “town so nice they named it twice” thrived. The succession was nothing short of perfect. My great grandpa (Louie Fazzari) opened the place, passed it on to my grandpa (Frank Fazzari) who devoted his whole life to it, who in turn left it to my uncle (Robert Fazzari) who ran the restaurant until the last day of business in 2006.

The Pastime Café, the restaurant I grew up in.

The Pastime Café, the restaurant I grew up in.

My memories inside those Pastime Café walls couldn’t be much sweeter. Whenever we visited our family, we always dined there. My grandpa’s employees treated us like royalty and the regulars would always stare at us as we entered the restaurant and proceeded to a table in the dining room. After dinner we would go up to the front counter staffed by my late Aunt Becky and she would let us pick out a candy bar from underneath the giant glass case that boxed in the antique cash register.

This is my great grandpa at the cash register. As you can barely see, the glass counter case is visible at the very bottom of the picture.

This is my great grandpa at the cash register. As you can barely see, the glass counter case is visible at the very bottom of the picture. This entire setup remained the same up until the restaurant closed in 2006.

Sometimes after dinner and before our candy raid, my grandpa would quickly take us back into the bar. Let me tell you, that was a different world! Shady looking characters and clouds of cigarette smoke filled the dark, long area. It was a 360 degree change when we would return on Sundays. The Pastime was closed on the Lord’s Day but my grandpa would always stop by to check on the place. He would take my siblings and I with him and give us full reign of the restaurant. In the bar we would have a ball picking up loose change on the floor, playing the video games in the back, and scratching off lotto tickets while sitting on the stools. We would run around the lounge and dining room areas, “play restaurant” at the cash register, and follow my grandpa into the kitchen where he would let us step into the gigantic freezer. Beautiful times.

The Pastime staff probably around the mid to late 1940s. My grandpa is in the back row on the far right. His brother (Art), who I also grew up around and who was extremely generous just like my grandpa, is standing right next to him.

The Pastime staff probably around the mid to late 1940s. My grandpa is in the back row on the far right. His brother (Art), who I also grew up around and who was extremely generous just like my grandpa, is standing right next to him.

This past January marked ten full years since the building at 215 Main Street was last operational. After the business closed, my uncle sold the place. In that decade span, ownership of the property shifted hands more than once but nothing ever materialized within those walls. The building that was already a throwback in the first place sat abandoned on a street corner in Walla Walla for far too long.

Yesterday my brother sent me a link to an article in Walla Walla’s local newspaper that said the wait would seen be over. Some visionaries have been hard at work creating Pastime 2.0. Well, to be fair, it won’t be a Pastime replica (there could never be another one anyway). But what is going in at the location is something that will carry on the proud tradition of the space while at the same time capitalzing on what Walla Walla is now known for: Wine.

This summer the Passatempo Taverna will open. The Pastime building will once again be a functioning restaurant and the parking lot in what we used to call “the alley” will be developed into a wine tasting room. Talented people have come together to represent each facet of Passtempto Taverna from the menu to the design to the wine. The project is in good hands. I could rest easy when I read the article and realized that the construction was done with absolute integrity and care. The discoveries made during the renovation fascinated me and the plans to keep around a touch of Pastime nostalgia encouraged me.

A look at the construction of Passatempo Taverna (photo courtesy of the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin).

A look at the construction of Passatempo Taverna (photo courtesy of the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin).

I am very excited to see more progress photos of the construction and then ultimately coverage from the grand opening. Of course one day I hope to visit Passatempo Taverna; it would be a very special moment. The Pastime building deserves to once again be a community gathering center and I am 100% ready for this new chapter to begin. Don’t Blink.

What I Like Most About St. Patrick’s Day

Please let me wish you an early happy St. Patrick’s Day. Ideally I would save this blog post for tomorrow but we all know what happens with Don’t Blink on Thursdays. So, to preserve the tradition of the Thursday Rundown, I am writing my short St. Patrick’s Day post tonight.

I am a fan of St. Patrick’s Day. I like the patron saint for who the holiday is in honor of, I enjoy Irish accents, and I admire how most people make an honest effort to wear green. The day of March 17 brings out unity from everyone, not just the Irish, and I respect that. You can also never go wrong with a green beer.

Me sporting a St. Pat's shirt. My parents' trip to Myrtle Beach coincided with the weekend before St. Patrick's Day 2015.

Me sporting a St. Pat’s shirt. My parents’ trip to Myrtle Beach coincided with the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day 2015.

But there is one aspect of St. Patrick’s Day I like the most. Strangely enough it isn’t a particular event, food, or symbol. Rather, it is a sound.

I don’t think there is anything more beautiful, respectful, and stoic than the sound of bagpipes. Not only is the music pleasing to the ear, it is just so distinctive. To me, there isn’t anything that screams Irish heritage more than bagpipes. The instrument is completely one of a kind.

I guess I do get a little nostalgic when I hear bagpipes. I immediately think of St. Patrick’s Day parades with my dad and siblings back when I was a kid. I am on the sidewalk of downtown Walla Walla and I see the green colors, I smell the horses, and I hear that powerful sound cut through the cold morning air like a knife through warm butter. Please take me back…

So while I have pleasant memories of bagpipes I don’t base my love solely on that. Even if I didn’t hear the unique sound on an annual basis through my early childhood, I would have been immediately drawn to it the moment I heard it as an adult. There just isn’t anything like those mournful notes. If there was a bagpipes radio station I would seriously listen to it during my 20 minute commute to work. Frankly, it just makes me feel some type of way.

Remember to wear green tomorrow! To all my Irish friends, take time to enjoy your well-deserved day and if you know someone who plays the bagpipes, please send her/him my way. Don’t Blink.

Joining the Century Club

Although the news media has made these stories cliché, I still get fascinated by the people who live to be 100 and beyond. To me, reaching triple digits is an incredible achievement. Of course the ones who make it well past the century mark earn even more of my awe. To me, those humans who manage to live to be at least 110 are complete freaks of nature. My thinking is that when someone reaches 100 they must be jubilant but at the same time extremely exhausted. How can these folks realistically say to themselves, “Well, I made it to triple digits…time now to live for another whole decade.”

This is on my mind today because I saw another one of those typical stories about a person reaching an old age. This particular one, a New Jersey woman named Agnes, recently turned 110. The article stated that with over 7 billion people on the planet, you will find only 360-600 who have reached or exceeded 110. Agnes said in the article that her secret to living a long life is drinking three Miller High Life beers a day.

I have thrown my hands up in the air when it comes to what someone must do on a consistent basis in order to live for a century or more. Every article I read has few common denominators. Each person has a different routine, usually with weird quirks, that they followed to reach a very old age. In my opinion, there is no special formula. Rather, I think in order to live past 99 you must have insanely good genes and amazing luck.

But is it really considered “amazing luck” if you reach 100? I hear people all the time quip, “I would never want to live that long!” Personally I am not 100% sure on my exact stance but I think I would actually want to go the distance. The opportunity to live so long and see so much would outweigh the sadness of seeing loved ones pass on and the constant care I would eventually need.

I have had one relative live to 100. He actually passed away at the age of 101. My Great Great Uncle Tony lived an extremely long life that was characterized by a love for boxing and photography. I had the opportunity to attend his 100th birthday bash that was held in the basement of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Walla Walla, Washington. At the party he was healthy and happy. It is an event in my life that I will always remember.

I would turn 100 on October 8, 2086. That means I need to live 25,998 more days to reach the milestone. As with everyone on the planet, the odds are dramatically stacked against me. However, it is always good to have lofty goals and trying to reach this mark will definitely deter me from blinking. Would you want to live to be 100 years old? Don’t Blink.

An Independence Weekend for the Books

This past weekend we logged some miles as we drove across the great state of Washington. My brother, Sidney, and I went hard on our Fourth of July trip as we went from pretty much the eastern most point of the state to the western most point to the southern most point. It was a great time.

Right before we even logged one mile on our awesome trip, we posed for this photo in my parent's living room.

Right before we even logged one mile on our awesome trip, we posed for this photo in my parent’s living room.

On Friday morning, the three of us left Spokane and made the 4.5 hour drive to Seattle. About 60 miles from the Emerald City we stopped in a place called North Bend and picked up my brother’s friend, Cassie. From there we bulldozed straight to our destination, arriving in Seattle at around 12:30 p.m. We spent the afternoon exploring the downtown Seattle area as we explored Pike Place Market and toured the waterfront.

We had fun in Seattle! The top photo is of my brother and I at the Waterfront. The bottom left photo is of Sidney and I at Pike Place, and the bottom right photo is of our crew.

We had fun in Seattle! The top photo is of my brother and I at the Waterfront. The bottom left photo is of Sidney and I at Pike Place, and the bottom right photo is of our crew.

Sidney was a little overwhelmed by the density of people we encountered while walking through the market area. It was shoulder to shoulder the whole time. She also got to experience the incredible diversity of Seattle as well. When it comes to exotic cities, Seattle is definitely right up on top of the list so it was cool to show her it all. As with the rest of the state, it was HOT. After looking around for a few hours, we needed to cool off. While walking back to our car we found a bar tucked in with the endless coffee shops. We dropped in and had a couple cold ones.

Sid and I in front of Pike Place.

Sid and I in front of Pike Place.

From there it was time to prepare for Kenny’s wedding. After a day in the sun, we desperately needed to shower. Thanks to Cassie’s connection, Sidney and I ended up getting ready in a Seattle suburb YMCA. We left the facility all cleaned up and Glen took us to the wedding venue.

Sidney and I all cleaned up in the Shoreline YMCA parking lot.

Sidney and I all cleaned up in the Shoreline YMCA parking lot.

Kenny and Steve had their wedding ceremony on a ship overlooking the Seattle skyline. Specifically, it was on the MV Skansonia, a retired Washington State ferry. The ship was docked on the north shore of Lake Union and the view was absolutely beautiful. The ceremony itself only lasted about 15 minutes but it was enjoyed by all and done exactly to the specifications of Kenny and Steve. Once they said “I do” we enjoyed the reception and I had the privilege of chatting with old co-workers and friends from Missoula. I wish we could have stayed longer at the reception but we needed to get back in the car.

The top photo is of Sid and I with the gorgeous view from the ship as a background. The photo in the upper right hand corner is of the reception (courtesy of Kenny and Steve's photographer). The bottom photo is of the wedding party (courtesy of Kenny and Steve's photographer).

The top photo is of Sid and I with the gorgeous view from the ship as a background. The photo in the upper right hand corner is of the reception (courtesy of Kenny and Steve’s photographer). The bottom photo is of the wedding party (courtesy of Kenny and Steve’s photographer).

With Glen and Cassie waiting at the dock for us, we jumped in the vehicle and started to make the trek to Walla Walla, Washington. On the way we stopped in North Bend and dropped Cassie off. While Sidney slept in the back seat, Glen and I chatted the whole four hours to Walla Walla. We pulled up to my uncle’s house at around 2 a.m. and then crashed on his basement couches, exhausted after a long day.

Later that morning I awoke and talked with my Uncle Bob upstairs as we caught up after a couple years. Glen and Sidney then woke up and we went out and bought fireworks and other necessary supplies at the grocery store. We then went to my Aunt Nancy’s downtown shop where we met up with her, my parents, my cousin (Abby), Abby’s boyfriend, and Abby’s friend. Nancy and Abby showered Sidney with flowers and gifts.

All decked out for the Fourth of July with my cousin Abby in my Aunt Nancy's shop.

All decked out for the Fourth of July with my cousin Abby in my Aunt Nancy’s shop.

After our time at the shop, we went to Pioneer Park, a beautiful large green area in Walla Walla covered with magnificently old trees. On the Fourth of July, Pioneer Park holds a celebration with music, vendors, and food. We walked around and then settled in some shade and ate curly fries. From there we went back to my Uncle Bob’s and we swam in his pool for a couple hours and relaxed.

Some photos from our time at the park and at my Uncle Bob's pool.

Some photos from our time at the park and at my Uncle Bob’s pool.

A little later that night after we all showered we went over to my cousin Rachelle’s house for our big Reser Family BBQ. When Sidney and I arrived, about 20 people were on hand to welcome her to the family. They ushered us all into Rachelle’s kitchen and sang us “Happy Engagement” (to the tune of “Happy Birthday”). It was a great evening as Sidney got to meet my dad’s family and see what being a Reser is all about. We ate good food, played lawn games, told stories, and lit off a bunch of fireworks. It was perfect.

A photo of Sid and I at the BBQ on the left and then a couple photos of my bro on the right.

A photo of Sid and I at the BBQ on the left and then a couple photos of my bro on the right.

The next morning we all met up again for breakfast at a local restaurant. Once again it was a relaxing time where Sidney had the opportunity to get to know my family more. After the meal we took some photos and it was back to Spokane. On the way home, we stopped in another small Washington town, Dayton, so we could say hi to my Uncle Jim. Yet another relative I was able to introduce Sidney to. We arrived in Spokane at around 2:30 p.m. yesterday afternoon.

Me with my Aunt Debbie, Aunt Nancy, and Aunt Judy after breakfast on Sunday.

Me with my Aunt Debbie, Aunt Nancy, and Aunt Judy after breakfast on Sunday.

It was a crazy, fun Fourth of July weekend. It will definitely go down as a memorable one. I am so thankful to my brother who volunteered to drive us on our crazy odyssey. During that drive from Seattle to Walla Walla where Glen and I chatted about everything under the sun while Sidney slept in the back seat, I found it the perfect time to ask him a question. Nonchalantly I inquired whether he would honor me by serving as my Best Man next June. He accepted. By all accounts it was a wonderful trip! Not only did I get to see my good friend get married and not only did I get to see my family and introduce them to Sid, I also got to bond even more with my brother. Epic weekend for sure. 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.