Wednesday, June 23, 2010

School's Out

OK, I'm going to pull a cop out on this one. Here's the thing... I'm way behind on posting, and the subject of this post is the least proximate, chronologically speaking. Can you even mix proximity with chronology? Well, I just did. Unfortunately, it is likely also the most unforgivable for not giving its proper due. But I'm behind on posts and there does not appear to be any let up in activity now that the summer has started (I just made three more tees and there are more after that). And with a camping trip this weekend and heading home for the Fourth after that, yeah, you get my point.

Anyway... Kelsey got to come out here again in May after her semester was over and before the summer session started. As always, we had a great time - got to see a Dodger game, plus Naja's and the beach. No plans too grandiose, just a nice relaxing time together.

yup, read it

Sorry this post is so short, but I needed to post these pics.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Jeff and I have been talking for some time about riding the Strand in its entirety. The Strand is the bike / ped path along the beach in the South Bay. It winds it's way from Rat Beach in Torrance up through the beach cities, through Venice and Santa Monica, and just into Malibu. Sure, it sounds scenic and leisurely, but all that beauty comes at a price. The path is more than twenty miles long. One way. And while it's not much in the way of up and down, peddling my 30 pound American steel single-speed cruiser is akin to riding uphill constantly. But I admit, the pain was part of the attraction for me. It might not be EPIC like traversing the Grand Canyon, it still made for a pretty great and joint-inflaming June morning.

the route

Matt swung by my apartment and I drove us down to Torrance to meet up with Jeff. We started peddling around 7 or so and rode for the better part of the next 5 hours. I was feeling pretty good at the halfway point, but sore butt, thighs, and knees increased exponentially after the turn.

the takeoff

halfway there

not quite as energetic after the second half

We all made it back with varying degrees of discomfort, but no major issues. Jeff finished it pretty easy what with all his "gears" and all, but he did ride the hills up to his house after so that upped his degree of difficulty.


sweet relief

Easily my favorite part was that the cafe at the end was serving root beer floats that day. All in all it wasn't too awful. I'll probably do it again sometime this summer. But I'll have to figure out a better video setup than what I had this time. Maybe work on that DIY isolation system.

Strand Bike Ride from Ryan Tuttle on Vimeo.

A few more pics.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Pittsburgh - Day 4

After three days in Pittsburgh (one and a half of them sightseeing) we had seen virtually all of the top ten attractions. The last suggested (by Yelp, etc.) was the aviary, which, strangely*, was suggested by not only a conglomerate** of websites, but also by one Kelsey Brown.

*I write "strangely" because come to find out (halfway through the tour of the aviary) that Kelsey does not, in fact, like birds on any level. I'm assuming she was thinking of some cute cartoon bird, like in Disney's The Rescuers or The Little Mermaid when she suggested this tour.

**That's for you, B. Meyer.

Those considerations aside, after checking out of the hotel and dropping our bags with the bellhop for the day, we traipsed over to said aviary and we (I) enjoyed gazing and interacting (again, I) with the birds.

Other than the large, black, web-footed bird flying into Kelsey, I've got to say my favorit part was the bald eagles. Those dudes are awesome. I got the feeling they were in the enclosure because they were fine with it. Not because they were in any way constrained by powers beyond themselves. Like they could bust out at any time. Even if the aviary somehow managed to acquire a unicorn exhibit, I doubt I would be so impressed. Maybe ligers would top it.

sorry, kelsey, he's just not that into you

afraid of the poop

best. bird. ever.

the (only) brave lora feeder

At the end of the day, Kelsey and I were ready to leave Pitt, even if not each other. I, for one, had a great time witnessing Kimmer and Emily get hitched, getting to know Brian and Stacy better, getting better acquainted with the steel city, and, of course, spending time with my best gal.

headed west again

The rest of the pics.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Pittsburgh - Day 3

The previous night's activity accomplished that which we had all set out to do in Pittsburgh, namely, marry off one Emily Petrack to one Kimmer Graham. That being done, everything to follow was just gravy. And those who know me can attest that if there's one thing I love, it's gravy. Mmmmmmmm... gravy.

We had breakfast (hotel buffet) with the Meyers, before seeing them to a taxi. Finally free of the excess baggage of other wedding-goers, Kelsey and I were left to begin the tourist checklist for the greater Pittsburgh area. Our only concern was the whole transportation thing, which had shown to be somewhat, um... problematic in days past. Fortunately, many of the suggested points of interest were within walking distance of the hotel.

We both had the idea of seeing the Andy Warhol Museum, so that was the first stop. Appropriately, we walked across the pedestrian path of the Andy Warhol Bridge (the middle of the Three Sisters Bridges) to get there. The museum itself was quit an interesting place. I'm finding it difficult to conjure up the language to best capture it's essence, but I did really enjoy it. The building is actually on a rather small footprint, but there are at least 7 floors of exhibits. Thinking back upon my experience, I'm realizing that the first floor is pretty tame - showing a lot of his iconic pop works - but things get increasingly strange and bizzare as you ascend each flight of stairs - with the upper floors exhibiting his forays into film, and, yes, taxidermy.

in the lobby of the Andy Warhol Museum

From there we strolled the few blocks between the museum and PNC Park. Turns out there wasn't a great deal to see besides a few very uninteresting bars in the bottom floor of commercial buildings. We spent some time lounging about the riverside boardwalk and parks, before crossing back to the downtown side of the river. A game was in sessions, so we got to walk across the closed-to-traffic bridge (The Roberto Clemente?) on the way to find food downtown. I have to admit walking on the closed off bridges never got old for me. Easily one of my favorite things about Pittsburgh.

riverfront parks; looking downtown

Our quest to find food quickly turned into a circuitous walk to the oft-visited Primanti Brothers. This was not our first choice, or even on the list at all really. But for whatever reason, every interesting place our smartphones pointed us to was shuttered or appeared to never exist. This reminded me a lot of my experience in Jacksonville this winter, I wondered if this was a recent development due to the economic downturn (though there did seem to be a considerable effort to improve the downtown area). In any case, we had a quick bite and pint and went back to the hotel to regroup before the evening.

kelsey amusing herself; the bright spot of our dining search

It was decided that we would walk over to the incline around dusk, and then continue on to the Southside for dinner and whatnot. There are two inclines that ferry riders up and down the hillside of Mt. Washington on pairs of tracked vehicles. It's a pretty neat concept, and the cars and stations are a very well-maintained piece of history. Of course, we had to walk over yet another bridge to get there, which was fine by me.

Upon arriving at the unmanned bottom station, we came to learn that exact change was required, of which we were just the tiniest bit short. Not only that, but we didn't even have any bills small enough to be accepted by the change-making machine there. Not to worry, as we passed an outdoor mall and dining center just a couple blocks back. Or so I thought, because as this was a Sunday, the mall and all of the small shops conducive to gum purchasing and change making were closed. Left with no other choice, we stepped into the gift shop of the Pittsburgh Hard Rock Cafe. As you might expect if you've been to a Fill-In-The-Blank Hard Rock Cafe gift shop, it's actually hard to get change there because even the smallest items in there will tend to require all of your larger bills and leave you with very little of that all important change. Sigh. I ended up the proud new owner of an $8 applique patch that I will never sew, pin, or glue onto anything. Actually, Kelsey is the proud owner, I believe. But nevertheless, we did obtain that elusive exact change required for our voyage up the Monongahela Incline, and all of the previous paragraph considered, I've got to say it was probably worth it.

The ride is actually quite a bit longer than I surmised from the bottom (as is often the case), and one is afforded what is likely the best view in the city as the counterweight of the oppositely directed car pulls you uphill. A block up from the top station is an overhanging lookout where tourists like us can congregate for a prime photo op.

approaching top station

After taking full advantage of the lookout opportunties given us, we rode the incline down (should it be a decline from this perspective?). We had hoped to come across a cab at the mall at the bottom in spite of all that we had learned in the previous three days. Our hopes dashed, we enlisted the help of the concierge desk at the hotel nearby. After calling us a cab, the concierge informed us at just how awful was the cab situation in town. No kidding. But we did get a ride to the Southside and had a really good dinner at The Double Wide Grill (after some wait - Kelsey was getting very worried we wouldn't get food) and stopped in Fatheads a few blocks down for a pint before calling it a night. Somehow we lucked into a cab ride back to the hotel without too much wait, and retired to the room exhausted. But not too exhausted to sample the Graham/Petrack commemorative wine.

More pics. You know where.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pittsburgh - Day 2

Last I left you , Kelsey had just ordered the ill-conceived Perogie Pizza. I was, perhaps, the minority opinion in my distaste for this dish, but in all fairness, the girls only liked it once they poured / spilled a half bottle of hot sauce on it. It is my opinion that once you put a half bottle of hot sauce on something, it retains very little of its own essence and becomes just a vessel for the sauce caliente. And by this rationale, I arrive at the conclusion that only my opinion matters. Per usual.

Which brings us to the big day. Well the big day for Emily and Kimmer. My "big day" was actually the baseball game the night before. I kid, I kid. I was very much looking forward to the wedding and had a great time. Mostly.

See the thing about Pittsburgh cab drivers is, they suck. Well, to be more accurate, they suck unless you're giving them a large fare to/from the airport. We got turned down by two different cabs trying to get from the hotel to the wedding. Apparently the cabmen were reluctant to remove their piles of junk from the front passenger seat, insisting that they could only take three (this is not legal by the way, but we didn't have time to file a lawsuit). Mind you these were both Yellow Cab drivers; the much smaller outfit Classy Cab was much more accommodating. So we called Classy Cab and had a ride shortly thereafter.

The wedding was set a beautiful but understated church in a quaint neighborhood eight miles from downtown. It was a very nice ceremony, and things (from my perspective, anyway) seemed to go off without a hitch. Wait, they did get hitched. Let me rephrase... Things seemed to have went without incident.

for better or worse (my money's on on better)

bubble time

The incidents would be for us, after the ceremony. As we out-of-towners had taken a cab out, when people started to depart for the reception, we called for another cab. The once reliable Classy Cab refused our fare based on that we weren't headed back into the city, but to the reception. Yellow Cab agreed, but only after I got an earful on how the person before me had given them an alternate address for the same location (turns out the other party was using the other street - church was on a corner). So wait we did for the 30 minutes Yellow Cab said it would take for the car to arrive. Check that, we waited for 20 minutes at which point Kelsey became impatient and called back the cab company.

patience is a virtue... but not a requirement

Turns out this wasn't a bad thing, as the dispatcher informed us that the cab sent for us had turned around. Apparently another Ryan had called back and said he would be at the Shell Station? Yes, this is what we were told. They promised to send another cab out, and we started the waiting game again. For those of you who don't know, I'll inform you, and for those of you who do, I'll remind you that Brian and my dates are not, how do you say, long on patience. Things were getting tense. Fifteen minutes go by, at which time friends of Kelsey's turn back into the church parking lot, unsuccessful in their attempt to navigate the winding roads of Western PA.

No problem. In exchange for a ride, I was happy to provide directions from my iPhone's GPS feature. I punched in the address for the reception, but, sadly, this bit of technology only made a marginal improvement to the situation. Driving through a light rain through multiple detours and me guessing at directions from the backseat of the minivan unable to see road signs, we eventually arrive at what we think is the Masonic Center, but, perplexingly, no sign of any other wedding attendees, save one couple in a pickup who say this is where their GPS directed them as well.

At this point, I decide it best to kick it old school and look at the directions provided from church to reception hall. Turns out, we were at a Masonic Center... just not the one we're looking for. Reading the directions over, I realize that the correct location is just a short ways from the church, not the eight additional miles away from town as my phone believed. I manage to direct us back along the right path with the other wedding-goers following behind. While everyone else in the van was figuring we would be obscenely late (this is well beyond fashionably late) to the reception, I figured things would be all right. So how surprised were they all to see that just blocks from the destination, the trolley carrying the wedding party peels off the highway and directly in front of us. Perfect. Timing. I knew it all along.

sure, it's funny now

Finally at the reception, we had a grand time, dancing and eating and drinking and reveling through the night. Kimmer and Emily are such a fun couple, and the whole day was a perfect reflection of that. And they provided bus service back to the hotel to boot, so we were quit thankful for that. Although, I'm pretty sad still that Kelsey left our cookie box in our seats (also perhaps her jacket, but I'm personally less sad about that - jackets taste awful).

picture of us (for Mom)

dancing the night away

she's lost that loving feeling

Kimmer and Emily used several of the photos Kelsey and I took
at Christmas for their guestbook; I played it cool with Kelsey
then, but secretly I felt honored

The party went on into the night back at the hotel, though I admit, I did not sustain until the end. Though, Kelsey and I did provide sustenance to those who did by going out on what might be the best pizza run of all time.

best of luck, Grahams

More pics here (again).

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Pittsburgh - Day 1

Well May came and went. I did a lot of stuff, but haven't been able to finish a single post. But in my defense, you don't write this blog, so shut up. So in an effort to keep this blog somewhat current, I'm starting with the latest May activities, and I'll have to fill in the earlier stuff at a later time as "retro" blog posts.

Last weekend, Kelsey and I met in Pittsburgh for a wedding. We decided to extend our trip a couple days beyond the wedding since we were both taking the time to fly in. We (I) arranged our flights to arrive as close as possible, so we were able to share a cab ride from the airport to our hotel downtown. There we met Kelsey's co-BFF, Stacy, and her husband, Brian, with whom we would be attending the Pirates game later, and generally spending the weekend... once Kelsey and Stacy stopped shrieking and hopping and hugging.

Hungry before the game and preferring not to get gouged by ballpark food prices (even though we would later anyway), we walked over to Primanti Brothers, whose gimmick seems to be "a meal in a sandwich." Ultimately what this means is that they put what would normally be considered "sides" in the between the bread. Interesting, to be sure.


The ballpark was just a ten minute walk from there, across the river. A very cool thing about Pirates games is that the bridge between downtown and the ballpark is shut down for motorists to allow game-goers to walk across. PNC Park is one of the newer fields in the league and is now ranked annually as one of the best places to experience a MLB game. I'm assuming this is based solely on the aesthetics and features of the park and not the actual play of the Pirates. The best evidence of this being that our $25 tickets were about 15 rows from the field between home and first.

over the river and to the game

the cheap seats

The game was great fun (Braves won handily), highlighted by two Jumbotron appearances: Kelsey and Stacy dancing between innings, and Brian and Stacy on the Kiss Cam. Also some dude may or may not have one a sweet Andy Van Slyke jersey, so that's pretty cool.


kiss cam!

After the game we met some other wedding goers and Kelsey ordered one of the strangest pizzas I've ever had. Then back to the hotel to rest up for the next day's wedding festivities.

More pics.