Wednesday, September 15, 2010

You Built It...

...And we came.

This subject deserves a much longer post, but it's late, I'm tired, I've got a lot to do tomorrow, and I've already posted my butt off these past few days. So I'm going to try to sum it up in a few paragraphs. Of course, it deserves a much longer post because it was so awesome.

Labor Day, the last day of a long, long, but fun, fun weekend, we opened up Johnson Field Of Dreams (name is not set in stone yet - which makes me think, hey, does the field need a sign?) with a game of softball. JFOD, naturally, was built by Josh, with a little help from Caleb, on the back lot at Josh and Abrah's house. I don't recall exactly how this idea came about, but I'm guessing it had a lot to do with all Riley wanting to do this summer being play baseball (anyone feel free to recount the real story in the comments).

Monday morning we all gathered up to play a few innings to christen the field before stuffing ourselves silly. It was a beautiful early Fall day, if a little windy. I think everyone had a great time (I know I did), and no one got seriously hurt - though we had a couple close calls. I think this needs to be a regular occurrence now, and I even heard rumors of a football game at Thanksgiving? Big thanks to everyone who put in work and to everyone else for showing up. A perfect way to end a great weekend.

Josh at the bat


well played

More pics.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Surprise Woody!

Fall is a great time of year as not only is it the beginning of football season but also the culmination of baseball. While baseball ending isn't good itself, it is an exciting time of year, and there's just a different buzz about fall baseball.

Megan had bought tickets to a Cubs game at Wrigley for Sunday, and when she heard that I would be home for Labor Day, she offered the other two tickets to Kelsey and me. Normally I'd be against anything to do with the Cubs, but I figured I could make an exception for my brother. Plus, how bad could a day at the park be anyway?

Now Megan had planned all this as a surprise, but she did finally cave and tell Woody Saturday night. He came strutting home with new Cubs shirt and tickets in hand (along with some P.F. Flyers) and gave us some lip when we all played dumb like we didn't know what was going on.

We took off Sunday morning just before church (no Cornerstone, Kelsey and I are not broken up) and Woody drove us up towards Chicago. I think most of the conversation was between Kelsey and Megan (hard to shut those two up), but I seem to remember something about cow stomachs and milk tankers/trailers (which is it again?).

I was planning on stopping at a Park and Ride outside of downtown and taking the train in but changed my mind on our way to the station. So Woody courageously got back on the freeway and headed further into town. We found parking at an apartment building a couple blocks from the field which wasn't too much trouble other than a 23-move exit when we left and Woody nearly road raging on some pedestrians on the way in (kidding... kinda).

We had time to grab some lunch at a tavern near the stadium, then walked the couple blocks to Sheffield Ave. and the start of the game. The game started out fairly competitive, but then things turned south, way south, for the cubs after the 4th or so. Fortunately we had several other sources of entertainment, not the least of which was Woody's new best friend beside him. I'm not sure all what they talked about, but I'm sure Wood could tell you. Kelsey seemed to enjoy the food, most notably the cotton candy, which seemed to crack Megan up for some reason. Oh you want one more? Ha ha! Actually the only reason I did those was because I had already wanted to make something of the "record setting wave" that occured that day. But when making that the idea to make the cotton candy ones flashed into my brain. And I'm glad it did. I could watch those all day.

nice day for a game

strike up the band

Cubs fans

The game did end up in a blowout (we left in top of the 9th before the Mets scored 5 more runs), but we all had a great time and it was a beautiful day. Thanks to Megan for inviting Kelsey and me. I'd be glad to go back any time. Maybe we should all do a trip to Busch III next summer?

happy birthday, Woody!

More baseball to come next post. And more pics!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Are You Ready For Some Football?!

Though we had a late night Friday, we had to get up early to drive to Cass County for the first Saturday of college football season - and the head-to-head between my Boilers and that team from South Bend. Bruce and Reta generously offered for all the Tuttles / Mallots / Johnsons / Corwins / Bruners to come over and watch the game and eat. And eat. And eat.

Not sure how many actually showed up, but it was quite a few, and there was still entirely too much food. And that's even with Caleb and Chris (and Kelsey) around. Bruce did some grilling, and Reta made a bunch of eats (and desserts), and Kelsey arranged for authentic Spanish cheese dogs, direct from B&K West. Not to mention the largest cooler I've ever seen full of glass-bottled Grape and Orange Crush. Nice touch.

Caleb and Abrah check out the spread

game time (slight interrupted by Riley)


I love college football season, but I can't really remember when I've been able to sit around with my family and watch some games. I can't really think of a better way to kick off the season than last Saturday. A big thanks to Bruce and Reta for opening up their home to all of us. Next time we just need to make sure Bruce gets in on a game of cornhole. As I understand it, he has a score to settle.

the real game begins

Brown court

Thanks again, Browns, I loved it.

More pics.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hillbilly Holiday

I was back in Indiana last weekend for a full slate of Labor Day activities covering nearly the entire state (and parts of another). It all started with a plan to get together with some of my high school pals, and as the preceding weeks went by more and more got penciled into my calendar. I'll devote a post to each event.

I took the red eye Thursday night, meaning I arrived at IND at around 5:30 am. Geesh. Kelsey met me there bright and early to start things off. Perhaps foolishly, with her exhausted from a long week of school and me getting zero sleep on the plane, we were a couple of zombies. Worst part was we had more or less nowhere to go. We had plans in Bloomington that night, but couldn't check into the hotel for some time, and it would be pointless to drive back to Cass County. Kelsey did have a last bit of homework to finish up, so we ended up at a McDonalds just off 465. Free wifi and a McMuffin kept us awake for a while.

It didn't take long for Kels to finish her assignment so we headed down 37 to Bloomington. If I had planned ahead, I'm sure we could have crashed for a bit at The Pauls, but in my defense, I didn't. I kind of had an idea that we could just drive over to Lake Monroe and nap the day away there. The gloomy skies overhead quickly reminded me that I wasn't in southern California anymore and that I should consider the, you know, weather. We drove on anyway (what were our other options?), and things just worked out as the clouds opened up and the sun came out within a couple minutes of laying a blanket down.

We napped for an hour or so then decided we would head into town for an early lunch and try to get another nap that afternoon. Well that was the plan for about 20 minutes when we found out that we could get into the hotel a couple hours early. We promptly discarded lunch for sleep.

Unfortunately the nap didn't really take, so we just decided to get ready for the evening, realizing we would likely fall asleep spontaneously at dinner, dropping our faces into our plates. Jason and Liz met us and Kelsey's parents at the hotel around 4, and we all walked the ped/bike path over to Upland Brewery for dinner.

This was also the location for that night's main event, a benefit concert headlined by none other than Todd Snider. Deeter and his new gal pal, Mendi met the rest of us at dinner and we all proceeded to chow down. While we all chowed, it can not be said that we did so equally. The highlight was Deeter (of course) and Bruce ordering "Inferno Burgers." I dipped a corner of a fry into the habanero sauce, and I all I can say is that I am shocked that meal doesn't come with a waiver form.

After dinner we all walked over to the brewery parking lot where a stage and hay bail seating had been set up. There were a couple good folksy opening acts, The Elly Maze and T.V. Mike & The Scarecrows, and then Todd came out with a bassist and electric man. I've seen Todd many times - only with a band once - but this was something entirely different. They went straight into rock versions of Todd's songs and continued to kill it all night long. It. Was. Awesome. I had so much fun, and seeing all my old buddies just made it that much awesomier. Looking forward to next time.

the gang

todd snider, dan baird, and keith chritopher

More pics.

Update: and if you feel like downloading a great show, do it here.


Webster’s Dictionary defines wedding as “the fusing of two metals with a hot torch.” Well you know something? I think you guys are two metals… gold metals.
-Michael Gary Scott

OK, so maybe that was welding, not wedding, but I think that speech is worth repeating nonetheless. And it is pertinent as Kelsey and I did fuse together a weekend of camping with a wedding. In fact, we even took the wedding gift (a camping stove) along on the trip - though we did not use it, I swear, the wrapping paper just got ripped over the course of 600+ miles.

And we did make it back to SoCal in time to clean up and show up at the wedding on time. As usual, we packed more than seems possible into our short time together. It was a very lovely wedding, and a lot of fun with people that we both care for very much. My (our?) only regret is that we were so tired after a long week/weekend of running around that we faded pretty early in the evening. But I was able to talk Kelsey into one dance as the evening wound down.

the happy couple

So, congrats to Mitch and Val, and a big thank you for inviting Kelsey and me to enjoy your day. Best of luck for both of you, always.

my beautiful date

More pics.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Kelsey has been begging me to go camping nearly every trip she's made here to California. And in my defense, I've tried just about every time she's made her way here, but for one reason or another things have just never worked out for us in that regard. Well things nearly didn't work out this time either. I went back and forth all week about the logistics of where and when (as we still needed to be back for a wedding on Sunday). As a matter of fact, I had actually decided Thursday night that we would go somewhere in San Bernardino, but then decided with Kelsey's help Friday morning that we would go to San Luis Obispo or Big Sur instead.

Friday morning we got up early threw everything into the truck, grabbed a coffee, and headed north (after we decided we weren't heading east). Quickly after we got on the 405, I recalled what an utter mess it had been recently. So I got off on the 90 W over to Highway 1 and stuck with that all the way. We cruised through Santa Monica to Malibu to Santa Barbara to Santa Maria and finally, San Luis Obispo.

scenic PCH

We stopped at the SLO Taco Bell for lunch and I explained to Kelsey what the various options for campsites were. There was one spot in the hills of SLO. Only problem with that was it was a warm weekend, and it was a 30 minute drive from town. If the sites were full, we'd have to drive back down and make the 90 minute trip to Big Sur and try there. Having already driven 4 hours, I figured our chances of finding a site in Big Sur were slim if we took an hour detour in SLO. We decided to keep on moving north and take our chances with the three campgrounds at Big Sur.

Which was fine by me as that was where I really wanted to go anyway. I had been trying to get up there for camping going on about 3 years now. But the combination of me not planning ahead and those campgrounds being reserved well in advance resulted in it never happening. And it doesn't help that one of the largest campgrounds has been closed for two years due to fire damage.

The drive between SLO and Big Sur is easily one of the most beautiful pieces of roadway in the 48 states. Highway 1 winds up, over, and around a hilly coastline. With the Pacific ever present to the West, the fine sand and rolling yellow hills of Southern California begin to give way to the rocky cliffs and coastal trees of the North. Even more enjoyable than the scenery was being with Kelsey as she witnessed it all for the first time. Around every bend came another "Ooooooh" or "Ahhhhh."

Big Sur coastline - Highway 1

The first two campgrounds we came to are located just off Highway 1 and offer the quintessential Big Sur camp experience. Lush vegetation and trees surround with just a short hike down to the rocky beaches. The first one we came to was full up, but we drove through for a look around anyway. It had a very weird commune sort of vibe to it and very little privacy between the closely-spaced campsites. We figured we were better off elsewhere and drove a couple miles up the road to the next campground, Kirk Creek. Now this campground was what we were looking for, but unfortunately full as well. Located on a bluff a couple hundred feet above the ocean, every one of the 30-some sites has an unobstructed ocean view, as well as a great view of the green hills to the east. This was where we wanted to be.

Unfortunately it was not where we were to be, so we moved along once again. I was fairly certain the last campground would have available sites as there looked to be many unreserved according to the world wide web and the Yelp! reviews were less than impressive (complaints of bugs - which I didn't believe - and a windy road - oh no!). Well the road was a little windy (go figure, a windy road in the wilderness), enough so to make Kelsey a little queasy, but we did find about three empty campsites when we finally made it in. Of course, two of these were "closed" due to bees, and the third was in a very open, hot location. One of the bee sites didn't seem too bad, so we figured we'd give it a try for at least a night. The campground host assured us that if we avoided their "flight path" that we'd probably be fine.

And we were fine; the bees were mainly in a tree nearby, and by the time we got settled, they were more or less inactive for the rest of the night. So we made our dinner and sat around the fire to enjoy the night.

windy road to Ponderosa Campground

the "bee camp"

As we were engaging in said fireside night enjoyment, the couple from the next campsite were passed by with their dog. The four of us (five if you count the dog) ended up talking for a bit, and we invited them to bring their camp chairs over for a bit. Turns out they were really nice and we had a lot in common (really nice being only one commonality). Plus they had a really nice dog, which is all that really mattered to Kelsey.

The next morning we woke up to the morning sun and the sound of chirping... wait,... buzzing... bees. We fixed some breakfast quickly, but as we sit there eating the buzzing got louder, and the other bugs (I'm assuming those of Yelp! fame) started to show up too. With the campsite starting to warm up as well, we figured we should head down to the coastal campgrounds and see if we could luck into a spot, and if we couldn't pack up and head back to SLO.

We drove the 12 miles of turns and hills down to Kirk Creek, and checked all the campsites. According to the campground host, there were a few that opened up that morning, but it seems at 9am we weren't the early birds. So back up to Ponderosa to pack our things and head south. On the way back up, we passed our friends from the night before (Andrew, Brittany, and Rugby) who waved us over. Turns out they had been down to Kirk Creek about 45 minutes before us and claimed one of the open sites. Then they very graciously invited us to share their campsite. Kelsey and I jumped at the offer.

We parted there, they heading down the mountain to unload at the new camp, and we up to pack up our things at the beehive... which we did as quickly as I've ever cleaned camp before. Due in no small part to Kelsey being "over it." Actually she was so motivated I think she carried every heavy item up to the truck while I fiddled with the tent and sleeping bags.

As soon as we got the truck back onto the road to the coast Kelsey's spirits lifted. Mine did too, as we were really excited for oceanside camping. We pulled into the campsite drive in front of Andrew and Brittany and unloaded our things. Kelsey fixed lunch while I set up.

western view from camp

view to the east from camp

"forget the views, I'm just glad to see Rugby again," says Kelsey

After a quick lunch and many "thank yous" to our hosts, we all hiked the path down to the ocean to play. It was a short but pretty hike along a creek canyon leading out to the ocean. Flowers and green leaves lined both sides of the trail, finally dropping us onto the rocky coastline. We spent a couple hours or so climbing around the rocks and taking pictures. All Rugby wanted to do was play in the water. Eventually Andrew and I joined him, wading up to our knees and throwing water over our heads. Rugby must have had a heater tucked under all that fur because that water was COLD! I am not exaggerating when I say that a few seconds in the water at a time was all I could stand. It literally made my bones ache. But at the same time, very refreshing.

the gang playing on the rocks

one of us is enjoying this a little more

ocean trail

When play time was over, we hiked back up the trail to camp and relaxed for the remainder of the day. We sat around talking, taking pictures, and playing with Rugby. With Kelsey's help I finally managed to get some camp potatoes to turn out pretty good. We ate dinner watching the sunset. We even got a visit from a "lost" surfer. It was about 3 minutes into the conversation that he realized we weren't his camp mates, and it wasn't, in fact, his campsite. Then he took a couple grapes and continued on his way. Pretty much everything you could ask for in Big Sur camping. Amazingly, there weren't any clouds or fog to move in all night. I woke up at around 3am to use the bathroom, and the moon was sitting out over the ocean alone, reflecting for miles of the water.

Big Sur Time Lapse 1 from Ryan Tuttle on Vimeo.

a time lapse movie i made at our campsite

Kelsey and I packed up early the next morning, as we had to be in Ventura for a wedding (and would require a considerable amount of cleaning up). We thanked Andrew and Brittany again, and Kelsey said her goodbyes with Rugby. We traveled back down Highway 1, stopping in Cambria for breakfast, and at the Hearst Castle parking lot to unload some trash. We saw the elephant seals lie on the beach lazily, then continued on to the wedding, satisfied with our trip.

Kelsey scared the seal off

I can with all sincerity say that it was worth the wait. Kelsey is no doubt a great camping partner. And I look forward to all of our adventures to come.

camping grade: A+

More pics.