Author Archives: Lee

SchMaui15: amazing Hawaiian experiences

Sunset from our condo in Maalea on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Photo by MeLinda.

Sunset from our condo in Maalea on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Photo by MeLinda.

Guest post by Lee

Ladies and gentlemen, I have been to the Great Wall of China, I have seen the Pyramids of Egypt, I’ve even witnessed a grown man satisfy a camel. But never in all my years as a sportscaster have I witnessed something as improbable, as impossible, as what we’ve witnessed here today!*

These are the comments that were going through my head after some amazing experiences that have occurred over the past few days in Hawaii.

Day 2 in Hawaii

Dangerous shorebreak sign in Maui. Photo by MeLinda.

Dangerous shorebreak sign in Maui. Photo by MeLinda.

After spending the morning of our first full day on Maui snorkeling and the morning of our second day snorkeling, MeLinda and I decide to try our hand at boogie boarding in the afternoon. Can’t be that hard — all you need is a board and some waves? How bad can the waves be even little kids are doing it? So we get out there and I’m trying to figure out if I should wear my prescription sunglasses out there or go blind. I converse with MeLinda and she is debating the same topic with her non-prescription sunglasses but we decide to go with our glasses on. I should know better than to take MeLinda’s advice on sunglass care as she is the BTK of sunglasses. We get out there and a few tame waves come by and everything seems good. Then I’m out about 50 feet from the beach and a big wave comes along and MeLinda and I go flying. Both pairs of glasses fly into the ocean and a set of expletives come from my mouth. I just lost a $400 pair of sunglasses in the ocean. MeLinda tells me to stay in the spot I am in and she is going to grab my snorkel gear (which have prescription lenses) so I can see if I can find them. Okay if you were to calculate the odds of finding anything in the ocean they would be slim. MeLinda and I once spent over an hour in a swimming pool looking for my wedding ring that flew off. So I put on the snorkel and start swimming around and within five minutes I find a pair of sunglasses. Holy cow, but of course they aren’t my glasses but they look like MeLinda’s so at least I saved her $10 pair. After another few minutes I find my pair and can’t believe my luck. I go back to MeLinda and hand her the glasses, turned out they weren’t hers. How many pairs of glasses are in the ocean? About 30 minutes later a guy comes by and says he lost a pair of glasses. We found the owner of our other pair of prescription glasses. The beach has a communication network and once a pair of glasses are found word goes around and even ends up on Craigslist.

On the Trilogy Sailboat headed toward Molokini Crater just off Maui. Photo by MeLinda.

On the Trilogy Sailboat headed toward Molokini Crater just off Maui. Photo by MeLinda.

Day 3 in Hawaii

MeLinda and I take an excursion to Molokini Crater. We are looking forward to a day of snorkeling at what is considered by many as Maui’s top snorkel site and maybe some whale sightings on the boat trip out. On the ride out we are able to see several humpback whales from afar. Once we reach Molokini we hit the water and start snorkeling for about 20 minutes until I spot something a little out of the ordinary. Wasn’t sure what it was at first glance and then realize it’s a seal. Not only is it a seal but later on I find out it’s a Hawaiian monk seal, which is on the critically endangered list with only 1,100 remaining. They grow to be 7 feet and weight 400 pounds, but this one was smaller than full-grown. It was awesome swimming next to him and being close enough that he looked directly in my eyes and seeing his adorable face. He seemed happy to see us and didn’t make any effort to move away quickly. Then a few other snorkelers come by and act like total douches. They go swam aggressively toward the seal getting way too close, and the seal growls and quickly moves away. MeLinda yells at the asshats but they aren’t paying any attention and wouldn’t care they ruined an awesome snorkeling experience. Why couldn’t this have been one of those episodes when animals attack? I didn’t want the guy killed but being a little roughed up wouldn’t have bothered me. The Hawaiian monk seal can be very peaceful and friendly animals and our captain said one of his friends encountered a seal in the wild and it actually hugged him.

(Our underwater camera, unfortunately, broke the day before so we don’t have photos or video. A fellow snorkeler promises to send us what she got, though. For now, enjoy this photo from the website of the Monk Seal Foundation. Go learn about them and donate to their cause.)

 

 Check out the Monk Seal Foundation website monksealfoundation.org.

Check out the Monk Seal Foundation website monksealfoundation.org.

The third improbable event was later on the afternoon. MeLinda and I went to sit by the ocean and enjoy the rest of the afternoon doing nothing but soaking in the rays and listening to the waves. About an hour into our rest MeLinda has fallen asleep and I’m just staring out in the great wide expanses of the ocean and suddenly I see a humpback whale jump completely jump out of the water. It was just like the MetLife humpback whale commercial. Why do whales breach like this? Some say it’s for mating, others say it’s a show of strength but no matter what it was awesome. By the time I had awakened MeLinda from her dreams of a Mizzou basketball victory the event was over.

So for just 3 1/2 days into our Hawaii vacation we have definitely packed a lot into it and of course I have eaten pizza for 4 days in a row, so life is good.

 

*The opening lines are a quote from the movie Dodgeball.

Lee near our Maui condo at sunrise, trying to capture photos of the green sea turtles.

Lee near our Maui condo at sunrise, trying to capture photos of the green sea turtles. Photo by MeLinda.

 

Posted in Animals, Lee, Photography, travel, Weird shit that happens

#Schummer14: Day 21-23 recap of Summer of Schnyder ~ Cape Cod, Massachusetts

#schummer14 cape codThe subtitle of this post, written jointly by Lee & MeLinda, is:

43 {miles & years}

~~~

We were already three weeks into our month-long road trip from Kansas to Maine and still hadn’t had any completely relaxing days where we laid by the pool or on the beach reading a book all day. We’re not complaining – we were on a 30-day vacation after all; we are just explaining that most of our days were full of activity.

As we drove toward Cape Cod on a Monday morning, Day 21 of our month-long road trip, we figured this might finally be the time to stop for a day and really chill out. We were both feeling tired and optimistic that the accommodations at the Platinum Pebble in West Harwich, Mass., would be the perfect place to take a day off.

Even as we said this plan out loud to each other and then to the operator of the bed & breakfast where we stayed, we knew it was going to be tough to pull off. We both like to explore all these new places we are visiting and there always seems to be another hike we want to do or a ballgame to see.

So did we manage to spend a day doing nothing?? Read on to find out…

Day 1 in Cape Cod (Day 21 of the trip):

The drive to Cape Cod from Providence, Rhode Island, was very short. We made a stop at a museum MeLinda had read about while researching the trip: the Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich, Mass., just as you get to Cape Cod. We spent about three hours having lunch and walking the grounds, which included a windmill, many small gardens, big bug sculptures and a very cool antique car display.

From here, the drive over to where we were staying while in Cape Cod took about 45 minutes. (Everyone says to think of Cape Cod as an arm bent upward as if you are flexing your bicep. If you do that, consider that we drove in from the shoulder and were staying the elbow area.)

We arrived at the Platinum Pebble mid-afternoon and were given a tour of the property and our room by Simon, who owns the inn with his wife Annabelle. We decided to spend the rest of the afternoon at the inn’s gorgeous and quiet pool with magazines and books in hand. If you keep up with MeLinda on Facebook, you likely read about the pool incident that made this not a completely relaxing afternoon. We’ll share that story again for anyone not on Facebook:

An older couple was at the pool as well and we made small talk. The wife went into their room, which was just off the pool, to take a shower and the man continued doing a walking pattern in the shallow end. I got out to dry off and read poolside. Lee followed five minutes later. The man laid back in the water and made a noise like it hurt, which caused me to look up from my magazine. I was watching the man in the pool as Lee was arranging his towel and about to sit down on the lounger. The man rolled over and it looked like he was trying to lift his body up but couldn’t and then his head went underwater. Even though he was only in 3 feet of water, the man was struggling to lift his face out of the water and I was pretty sure he wasn’t going to be able to lift himself. He started that scary face-down float that until now I’ve only seen in movies. I got Lee’s attention and he jumped back in the pool and lifted the man’s head up and got him to the edge of the pool while I yelled inside the main inn for Simon. Simon & Lee got him out of the pool and into a chair. Lee saved this man’s life! I tear up thinking about what would have happened if we hadn’t been out there and how great Lee always is in a crisis. He amazes me!

We left the pool and the Platinum Pebble in time to grab some dinner along with a special treat for dessert, the always challenging dipped cone. There truly isn’t a correct way to eat a dipped cone without a stream of vanilla goodness dripping down your hands and clothes. Luckily there were no cameras around when we shared this cold mess.

We then headed over to watch a Cape Cod baseball game and enjoyed the laid back atmosphere of what is considered the best amateur league in the country. It was basically the size of a high school field and they don’t charge admission. We were seeing one of the better teams in the league along with a team fighting for a spot in the playoffs. It was a big crowd and the weather was perfect. Several players were from the Midwest and one was from Missouri but didn’t respond when MeLinda yelled M-I-Z as he waited on deck. This led MeLinda to immediately determine he falsified his college status.

So this might look like a lot of activity but for us it was a pretty laid back day!

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

<photo> Lee in front of his favorite auto from this amazing collection: a 1932 Auburn Boattail Speedster dubbed the chick magnet.

Day 1 in Cape Cod (Day 21 of the trip):  The drive to Cape Cod from Providence, Rhode Island, was very short. We made a stop at a museum MeLinda had read about while researching the trip: the Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich, Mass., just as you get to Cape Cod. We spent about three hours having lunch and walking the grounds, which included a windmill, many small gardens, big bug sculptures and a very cool antique car display.  From here, the drive over to where we were staying while in Cape Cod took about 45 minutes. (Everyone says to think of Cape Cod as an arm bent upward as if you are flexing your bicep. If you do that, consider that we drove in from the shoulder and were staying the elbow area.)  We arrived at the Platinum Pebble mid-afternoon and were given a tour of the property and our room by Simon, who owns the inn with his wife Annabelle. We decided to spend the rest of the afternoon at the inn’s gorgeous and quiet pool with magazines and books in hand. If you keep up with MeLinda on Facebook, you likely read about the pool incident that made this not a completely relaxing afternoon. We’ll share that story again for anyone not on Facebook:  An older couple was at the pool as well and we made small talk. The wife went into their room, which was just off the pool, to take a shower and the man continued doing a walking pattern in the shallow end. I got out to dry off and read poolside. Lee followed five minutes later. The man laid back in the water and made a noise like it hurt, which caused me to look up from my magazine. I was watching the man in the pool as Lee was arranging his towel and about to sit down on the lounger. The man rolled over and it looked like he was trying to lift his body up but couldn’t and then his head went underwater. Even though he was only in 3 feet of water, the man was struggling to lift his face out of the water and I was pretty sure he wasn't going to be able to lift himself. He started that scary face-down float that until now I’ve only seen in movies. I got Lee's attention and he jumped back in the pool and lifted the man's head up and got him to the edge of the pool while I yelled inside the main inn for Simon. Simon & Lee got him out of the pool and into a chair. Lee saved this man's life! I tear up thinking about what would have happened if we hadn't been out there and how great Lee always is in a crisis. He amazes me!  We left the pool and the Platinum Pebble in time to grab some dinner along with a special treat for dessert, the always challenging dipped cone. There truly isn’t a correct way to eat a dipped cone without a stream of vanilla goodness dripping down your hands and clothes. Luckily there were no cameras around when we shared this cold mess.  We then headed over to watch a Cape Cod baseball game and enjoyed the laid back atmosphere of what is considered the best amateur league in the country. It was basically the size of a high school field and they don’t charge admission. We were seeing one of the better teams in the league along with a team fighting for a spot in the playoffs. It was a big crowd and the weather was perfect. Several players were from the Midwest and one was from Missouri but didn’t respond when MeLinda yelled M-I-Z as he waited on deck. This led MeLinda to immediately determine he falsified his college status.  So this might look like a lot of activity but for us it was a pretty laid back day!

<photo> Calamari with fries and onion rings at the Kreme ‘n Kone.

#schummer14 cape cod

<photo> Lee: this isn’t going to end well. He was right.

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

Day 2 in Cape Cod (Day 22 of the trip):

We planned to do a bike ride on the morning of our second day and then head to the beach for the rest of the day. After a quick breakfast we grabbed a few bikes from the B&B and started onto the Cape Cod Rail Trail. Our entry point was mile marker two in Harwich and the finish line was mile marker 22 in Wellfleet. Early in our #schummer road trip we had done a 30-mile bike trip, which took more than six hours due to a few bike malfunctions and both of us were drained after that adventure. We were optimistic we could do this one in four hours, including a stop for lunch. Ha!

We started off on the ride around 10 a.m. with two bottles of water and a full backpack (camera). The ride was on relatively smooth terrain with a few gradual hills. The temperature was in the mid 70s.

The first thing we realized is this trail could have been anywhere in the country since there were very few water views unless you stopped and went into each community. We continued to ride on encouraged by the constant reinforcement of mile markers on the road that showed your continued progress.

As the ride continued, the hills got a little harder and the bike traffic increased. You had to be careful you didn’t run over kids stopping on their bikes in the middle of the path. We kept thinking at the end of the trail there would be some great ocean view or at least something that would make this whole trip worthwhile. We were completely wrong and the only view was a parking lot. A good barometer of the scenery in photography stats: MeLinda took less than a dozen photos the entire route.

Dejected and hungry, we headed to Sam’s Deli about two miles back down the path to get some much needed food and drink. At this point we had gone about 23 miles and were starting to feel worn down. Even the power of a black and white cookie from the deli wouldn’t be enough to replenish us.

The ride back was hot (where did all the shade go that we remembered from the ride out?), with the wind in our faces (didn’t remember there being wind at our backs on the way out!) and almost all uphill (at least it seemed that way). It was a true test of our endurance. They always tell you to keep hydrated but it’s tough to remember to drink enough water until it’s too late. MeLinda’s legs started to cramp and on the way back we made several stops picking up bottled water anywhere it was available. We felt bad passing up a lemonade stand set up by two kids, though in Cape Cod I’m sure those kids were already multi-millionaires.

The mile markers worked the opposite on the way back, letting you know every .1 of a mile you still had a long way to go. Once we reached Brewster, just one city away from our B&B, we seemed to pick up the pace and saw the end was near. Though we still had to remember which turn off and our way back to the B&B on city streets. At that point MeLinda was so drained she trusted my directional skills to get us back. Luckily I picked the right turn and we pulled into our B&B around 3 p.m., five hours after we’d started.

Our plan for spending time at the beach was postponed because that pool was only a 50-foot walk from our cottage. In fact, we canceled dinner reservations so we could rest longer.

As we laid by the pool trying to rebuild the strength to eat, we did the math on our journey and that’s when we realized it was 43 miles … ironically, MeLinda would be turning 43 years old the next day. Lee has decided this will be the new standard for celebrating MeLinda’s birthdays; he is thinking a 44-mile float trip down the Amazon in 2015.

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

<photo> This was the most scenic part of the Cape Cod Rail Trail & it was within the first two miles of the 43-mile ride!

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

<photo> We still have to cycle all the way back 22 miles!!

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

Day 3 in Cape Cod (Day 23 of the trip):

This was our last full day in Cape Cod (we needed to get up the next morning and start a long drive west) and there was still so much we hadn’t seen on our first visit here. We wanted to sightsee and we also wanted time at the beach, so we decided to combine them.

We started with a leisurely drive up Route 6 toward the tip of Cape Cod. Along the way we stopped at the National Seashore visitor’s center for some helpful tips: beaches that offer parking with our National Parks pass, when to see seals and where to see the lighthouse that’s on the bag of Cape Cod potato chips (made elsewhere in Cape Cod).

We had lunch harbor-side in Provincetown and MeLinda climbed the 116 steps and 60 ramps to the top of 252-foot high Pilgrim Monument (the pilgrims spent five weeks here before sailing on to Plymouth) for views of the town, water and dunes.

We then left the commercial craziness of this little tourist town and went to the beaches. First we walked about two miles to an area where we saw hundreds of seals sunning – so worth the hike through mostly soft sand! Then we went and sat at Race Point Beach, where we saw a few more seals swimming by.

The drive back down to Harwich had heavy traffic but we were entertained by a beautiful rainbow and a stop to enjoy dessert before dinner – it was MeLinda’s birthday so ice cream before dinner was acceptable!

We enjoyed seeing this part of the island but were glad that we had chosen to stay at an inn in a less hectic area of Cape Cod.

Overall, we’d say we succeeded in not cramming too much into our Cape Cod stay but we failed in taking a day off. Even when you try to rest sometimes it just doesn’t happen, but at least we enjoyed almost every minute of it.

#schummer14 cape cod

 

#schummer14 cape cod

<photo> Nauset Lighthouse, which is the one featured on the Cape Cod potato chip bags.

#schummer14 cape cod

<photo> A flamboyant pilgrim giving us a history lesson on Provincetown as we eat lunch on the harbor.

#schummer14 cape cod

<photo> Pilgrim Tower in Provincetown.

#schummer14 cape cod

<photo> Climbing up the inside of Pilgrim Tower.

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<photo> Random piano on the beach in Provincetown.

#schummer14 cape cod

<photo> Finally saw seals on the trip! Saw hundreds sunning themselves at low tide and then a few swimming by as well.

 

 

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

~~~

#Schummer14 – Lee & MeLinda Schnyder are turning their home in Wichita, Kan., over to a friend and taking a month-long road trip. They’ll travel from Kansas to Ontario and Quebec, Canada; then through Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. The trip home will include stops in Ohio and Missouri. Beyond the blog, you can follow #Schummer14 on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Posted in Lee, travel

#Schummer14: Day 19 recap of Summer of Schnyder ~ nowhere to stay

#schummer14 rye new hampshire

On the whale-watching ride with Granite State.

In our many travel adventures we have always been able to find a hotel even if it’s at the last minute. A lot of the time we use Hotwire, Priceline, etc. because I love a deal and hate to pay full price for a room. It has always been a game with MeLinda and I when placing a bid on Priceline, trying to determine if we could have gotten that room for five dollars less. When I worked at the corporate offices of Candlewood Hotel I always had a pretty good idea of what the typical room would go for and what the Priceline price should be. We have many great deals over the years.  On this trip we decided to go ahead and book all of our rooms directly through the hotel and ahead of time due to it being a high demand period in the areas we were visiting and not wanting to spend time on the trip worrying about where to stay.

For the first two weeks we made only one audible. I had a hotel booked in Portland, Maine, and I noticed it would be better to be in the downtown area so before I cancelled the first hotel I booked the other and we were set. It turned out be a great choice and if you are ever in Portland make sure to stay at the downtown Courtyard Marriott – it had just opened about a month prior and it had very large rooms with a clean, modern feel.

Our second audible, on Day 19 of our month-long road trip, ended up being a little more complicated.

Luckily we were able to meet up with our baseball buddies Charlie and Kim for another game on our Summer of Schnyder trip – the first was the Toronto Blue Jays and the second one was in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The AAA minor league game started at 1 p.m. on Sunday and we were scheduled to arrive in Springfield, Mass., from Bar Harbor, Maine, late on Saturday so that we could visit the basketball hall of fame there the next morning. But it didn’t open until 10 a.m. and it was a two-hour drive to Pawtucket. So I made the audible and cancelled our hotel reservation in Springfield. We cancelled with a phone call while sitting next to a pond in the middle of Acadia National Park – in a spot we were finally able to get Verizon service. It was like the hotel operator was trying to make it as difficult as possible to cancel and that was likely an omen. Finally after a five-minute call during which MeLinda had to repeat all of our contact information to two different people, we had eliminated the reservation.

We had no worries at that point. The same day, Charlie and Kim booked their room at a Hilton in downtown Providence and we were planning on booking a room about an hour north of there because we had a full day of driving and a long boat excursion that day. I had done some prelim work and didn’t think it would be an issue; even though there aren’t a lot of hotels in the Rhode Island area there are a lot in the Boston area we were driving through.

So we got up that morning – Saturday – and headed out of Acadia National Park toward Rye, New Hampshire. We had our eye on a whale-watching trip that afternoon at 2 p.m. and figured we would play it by ear to see if the weather looked favorable for a long boat ride out far enough to see whales. We stopped for a quick lunch on the drive down and at that point everything was still going smoothly; we were on target for the 2 p.m. whale watching. MeLinda made a call to the whale-watching outfitter to verify openings and let them know we were going to be there so please hold a spot for us.

#schummer14 portland maine

<photo> Lunch – fish & chips, including homemade tartar sauce served in big ol’ jars – before the day’s adrenaline level spiked.

We decided to make a quick stop in Kennebunkport to see how the other half lives – we did the short drive along Ocean Avenue there, which is famous for its mansions and resorts. We started to realize that might have been a mistake since there was a little more traffic than we were expecting. Too many people stopping to take a picture of the Senior Bush compound was the main issue.

#schummer14 Kennebunkport Maine

<photo> Home of former President George and Barbara Bush in Kennebunkport, Maine. Notice the Texas flag.

At that point, we realized that our grace period had disappeared. Instead of being there 30 minutes ahead of time we now were going to be lucky to be there 15 minutes ahead of time (which is the recommended sign-in time). MeLinda looked over to me and asked if she should drive since I don’t usually push the Beemer more than 5 mph over the speed limit. MeLinda is a speed demon in case you don’t know and isn’t allowed to drive my prized possession, the 2000 Honda Accord, since she would probably blow the motor. I said don’t worry about it and the next 15 minutes everything was looking good until the highway became a parking lot because of an accident near Portsmouth.

#schummer14 Portsmouth

<photo> Crazy construction traffic made for a stressful drive through Portsmouth to the dock in Rye – we got there at 1:58 for the 2 p.m. departure!

So we were in an unknown area and MapQuest let us know our destination arrival time was now 2 p.m. MeLinda’s navigation skills kicked in and we get off the backed-up highway and decided to wing it. Crushing every speed limit over the next 15 miles we still weren’t sure if we were going to make it. MeLinda called the whale watching company and they gave some last minute instructions for a shortcut. We pulled into the parking lot two minutes before 2 p.m. MeLinda jumped out of the car and went to pay while I parked and started throwing stuff out of a tote bag so I could throw warm clothes in it and take it aboard, where we would have to change. Every time I move anything in the very back of the vehicle, I have to rearrange all of our bags that I have strategically stowed.

We stepped onto the boat at 2 p.m. and figured from this point forward the day will be less hectic. It did slow down as we had a good four-hour boat ride that wasn’t too rough and we got several opportunities to see finback and minke whales.

#schummer14 Whale Watch Rye New Hampshire

#schummer14 Whale Watch Rye New Hampshire

#schummer14 Whale Watch Rye New Hampshire

#schummer14 Whale Watch Rye New Hampshire

#schummer14 Whale Watch Rye New Hampshire

#schummer14 Whale Watch Rye New Hampshire

<photo> We saw mostly finback whales on our whale-watching trip from Rye, New Hampshire, out into the Gulf of Maine. They don’t lift their tails up like humpback’s but they are the second largest animal in the world!

Lighthouse visible from our whale-watching ride with Granite State.

<photo> Lighthouse visible from our whale-watching ride with Granite State.

Once we were back on land, we had a better idea of how far we would want to drive the rest of the night so we started thinking about hotels. But it was 6 p.m., so first we wanted to get some food. We figured we’d get something to eat and then we’d book the room during dinner.

We drove for about 15 minutes while MeLinda researched pizza – we got excited about a “Detroit-style pizza” place with great reviews on Yelp but when she clicked on “Directions to Here” it showed up as 600 miles away in Virginia! We’d have to try Detroit-style another time (apparently the sauce is on top of the cheese) and she found three options for pizza in nearby Newburyport, Massachusetts. We got off the highway and passed a franchise called Papa Gino’s and I let it be known that would be our fall back in case everything else went wrong. Driving through this small harbor-side town, I noticed that everyone had lawn chairs locked down in their front yards like a parade either was about to happen or had just happened. Or we had just entered a big white trash city and this is what it looked like every day.

MeLinda’s first option was about two miles into town and as we got closer we realized we definitely picked the wrong town to stop in as traffic was backed up. Then we saw signs for today’s festival along with street closings and no parking. So the second option was implemented and we drove over to Nick’s Pizza. Luckily there was a spot right in front of this neighborhood restaurant to park; unluckily when we got inside they told us the wait might be about an hour because it’s fireworks night in the neighborhood. At that point we just accepted our fortunes and took a seat and started looking for hotels. I had never been to a pizza place until then that ran out of meat toppings before closing; our order was probably behind about 30 other pies.

While we are waiting I pulled up Priceline, TripAdvisor, Marriott, Hilton, Hotwire and started looking. I placed a few unsuccessful bids on Priceline for a hotel in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. I expanded the area and price and still struck out. OK, maybe it’s time to pay full price and expand further the search area. The pizza arrived and that distraction cost us our last chance at booking a hotel. Who would have thought a sausage and pepperoni pizza delivered on a large tray would lead to us being homeless in New England. Though I will say it was good pizza and worth the trip if you are in the area.

#schummer14 massachusetts

Who would have thought a sausage and pepperoni pizza delivered on a large tray would lead to us being homeless in New England.

The clock struck 8 p.m. and we were officially screwed. MeLinda started calling any chain that didn’t have an hourly rate and the only option was paying $600 bucks for a room in Newport, Rhode Island. It was truly hard for someone from the Midwest to contemplate that an area the size of several states was sold out and there wasn’t even a major event happening. In the meantime Kim and Charlie had finished their drive up from their home in New York and were settling into their room at the Hilton. As if some cosmic spirit was guiding her, Kim had chosen a room with two beds when given the option between one or two upon check-in. Little did they know that choice would be the saving grace and keep us from sleeping in our car or spending the night at my good friend Dunkin’ Donuts.

MeLinda had sent a joking text to Kim relaying the trouble we were having getting a room and the response was that they had two beds. I hate to impose on people but at that point there wasn’t any other choice and after a quick phone call to Charlie to make sure it truly was OK, we headed to downtown Providence. When we finally arrived in Providence, we had been on the go for more than 12 hours and both of us were ready to finally relax.

True friendship is when someone calls you late at night and asks if they can share a hotel room with you. Once again, thanks Kim and Charlie!

Even after this eventful day 19 of our sabbatical, I am truly thankful for how well things have worked out on this trip. From the weather cooperating when needed to the BMW operating well to the majestic sites we have seen and the activities we have enjoyed.

We did learn our lesson this day. When I made our next schedule change, my first call was to book a hotel!

#schummer14 Rhode Island

~~~

#Schummer14 – Lee & MeLinda Schnyder are turning their home in Wichita, Kan., over to a friend and taking a month-long road trip. They’ll travel from Kansas to Ontario and Quebec, Canada; then through Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. The trip home will include stops in Ohio and Missouri. Beyond the blog, you can follow #Schummer14 on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Posted in Lee, travel, Weird shit that happens

#Schummer14: Day 3 recap Summer of Schnyder

#schummer14 bridge to canada port huron

Today’s post brought to you by Lee

Canada is the place to go to learn about the things that died in America’s educational system along with some interesting quirks. It’s also a time to realize the advantages to living in Canada.

You remember the metric system. Americans were able to discard those silly measurements like kilometers, litres, and Celsius back in the 70s.

Canada never received the memo and still uses the metric system.

The first speed limit sign I saw showed 100. Awesome, driving in Canada is going to be fun! But after metric translation, it was only 60 mph. Though I will say Canadians drive quite a bit like my good friends from Houston (fast).

My second disappointment was seeing a gas sign with the price of $1.50 then remembering that was the litre price. I didn’t know I would need an advanced degree to figure out how much a gallon of gas costs. First you need to figure out how many litres are in a gallon, then multiply by the cost of gas and then multiply the exchange rate. After using my abacus I came up with the amount of $5.25 per gallon.

Why can’t the Canadians at least use the U.S. measurement for temperature? Today’s high is 25 degrees. The low is 13 degrees. I like my big swings in temperature; it looks so much more impressive when you say today’s temperature was 100 degrees, rather than 38 degrees Celsius.

OK, those are some trivial American thoughts but there are plenty of things I really have enjoyed about Canada so far (this is my second time in Canada; MeLinda and I flew to Calgary and explored the Banff area in 2009).

Driving along the highway was pristine and you felt like you were in the middle of a screensaver that kept showing the same beautiful scenery. Unlike in America the highways aren’t littered with fast food restaurants, gas stations, etc. Canada did a great job in planning their transportation system keeping it convenient to all the cities but without the removal of the beautiful landscaping.

The first major landmark we hit crossing the border was the St. Claire River, which flows out of Lake Huron. We stopped to eat lunch at a place that MeLinda had researched and had a relaxing lunch sitting by the bluest river I’ve seen. I figured we would run across a bunch of tourists but it was a local hangout and I was jealous of all the local residents who stop there to eat lunch and get to enjoy that site on a daily basis.

The first neighborhood I visited in Toronto was exactly what I would picture a perfect living area would be. We were able to walk from our vacation rental and within five minutes were in the middle of a vibrant shopping area. After hours of driving it was nice to be able to walk into safe and friendly neighborhoods filled with shopping and restaurants. It was like every person within five square miles was out at night enjoying the perfect evening. It is amazing how culturally diverse this city is and everyone is getting along. There was even a car dealership that displayed a Middle Eastern man wearing a turban; you don’t see that very often in the U.S.

Tim Horton!!! You would think that was the name of Canada’s first prime minister or the country’s greatest sports legend. There is a Tim Horton’s sign every five miles as you drive through Canada and they have even invaded the upper portions of Michigan. For non-Canadians: a Tim Horton’s is known for donuts and coffee. From watching How I Met Your Mother I have learned that every Canadian is able to mark the special events in their family based on the type of Horton’s donuts they were eating at that time.

Driving the Canadian highways you also realize there are no hoopties. Every highway in America you at least run across one hooptie. I realize now that I couldn’t move to Canada because my car wouldn’t be allowed across the border. What’s the fun of driving if you can’t see someone driving a Ford Pinto 20 mph below the speed limit on the highway with the bumper hanging off.

I will continue to ponder the differences of life in Canada as I sit on the couch here in the condo, eating poutine and watching some Canadian Football League action.

Through Day 3 of #Schummer14 we have covered 1,401 miles, passed through six states and been in two countries. We’re staying in Toronto until Monday and we’re taking the weekend off from blogging. We will write a recap of our time in Toronto early next week. Thanks for following along!

#schummer14 U.S. to Canada border crossing at Port Huron

Crossing into Canada at Port Huron took less than 10 minutes. Just a few questions and we were on our way.

#schummer14 Point Edward looking toward Lake Huron

Once we were in Canada we participated in a local tradition of eating fries under the bridge. Sounded creepy but was really beautiful! From this spot at Point Edward we’re looking out to Lake Huron.

#schummer14 fries under the bridge

We got our food from R&B’s food truck.

#schummer14 lunch spot under Blue River Bridge

Our lunch spot, under the aptly named Blue River Bridge. This is the point where the St. Claire River flows from Lake Huron.

#schummer14 Blue River Bridge view

#schummer14 Toronto condo

Here’s the condo we’ve rented in the Riverdale neighborhood, just east of downtown Toronto.

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#Schummer14 – Lee & MeLinda Schnyder are turning their home in Wichita, Kan., over to a friend and taking a month-long road trip. They’ll travel from Kansas to Ontario and Quebec, Canada; then through Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. The trip home will include stops in Ohio and Missouri. Beyond the blog, you can follow #Schummer14 on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Posted in Lee, travel

Lee’s memories from 365 home Wichita State basketball games

Guest post by Lee

last team standing

image by shockernation

UNDEFEATED. Who would have thought those would be the last words of the fans at the end of a Wichita State basketball season. I made it to 15 of the 17 home games this year and not many were close. The longtime Wichita State fan in me is used to nail-biters that have previously ended in a bad way.

Earlier in the year the WSU athletic department highlighted a man who had been going to Shockers games for more than 50 years, and this got me curious about how many games I’ve been to in my life. I don’t fall into the category of the super fan who attends every game home and away but I’ve definitely rode the ups and downs of the Shockers for the last 30 years.

Being the sports nerd that I am, I not only have saved all my ticket stubs from games but have kept track of them in an Excel spreadsheet – so it would be easy to determine how many games I’ve attended. Yes, MeLinda still married me even after I disclosed this information…she has learned to tune out my weird sports quirks.

At the end of the 2014 Shocker basketball season I have attended 365 homes games. So I’ve spent a year of my life going to games. Then the other question that popped into my head was: does it make a difference if I go to the game. Am I lucky to the Shockers?

wichita state university shockers koch arena

<photo> Lee in our seats at Charles Koch Arena, with the 2013 Final Four sign in the background.

Yes, the Shockers have played their usual list of patsies through the years: Hardin Simmons, Monmouth, Rockhurst, Prairie View A&M and the PUMP California All-Stars. Though in those years we have had some embarrassing loses: Appalachian State, UT-Arlington, Coppin State, Hampton (no, not the hotel chain) and even by 35 points to Southern Illinois.

After adding up all the numbers, the Shockers win 78% of the games I attend. So going home happy on a regular basis is a good thing. Here are a few of the memories as I look back through my WSU ticket stubs:

I have seen some great games over the years, though the most memorable game I have been to was early on in my Shocker days. Eddie Fogler was the coach and the team was still relevant and hadn’t hit the terrible years highlighted by Scott Thompson. The date was Feb. 2, 1988, and the Shockers were facing the top player in the nation, Hersey Hawkins, who finished the year averaging 36 points a game for Bradley. This also ended up being the highest scoring game I’ve attended as the Shockers put up 116 points and won by 24. The other highlight/lowlight was when one of the Shockers cheerleaders was dropped and you heard a big thud when she hit the ground (she wasn’t hurt so it was okay to laugh about it).

In 2004, the Shockers were finally back in the postseason and played a great game vs. the Florida State Seminoles in the NIT. Yes, the Shockers lost in overtime but the environment was great and most people at the game remember it being the loudest Koch Arena has ever been.

The last time the Shockers played Kansas State at home was 2002 and ended in a loss but two years earlier the Shockers beat both Kansas State and Oklahoma State at home.

In 1996 we beat Virginia Commonwealth by 30. VCU later repaid us by winning in a Koch Arena Bracketbusters game to keep WSU out of the NCAA tournament and then beating us in the first round of the 2012 NCAA tournament. Before Bucknell became known for beating Kansas, the Shockers beat them by 19 points in 1995. Gonzaga hadn’t started its run to national prominence but the Bulldogs did visit Wichita in 1994 and lost by one.

wichita state university shockers koch arena

<photo> Lee with his cousin and aunt at the Roundhouse.

In 1990 the Shockers dispatched of Oklahoma State and Alabama. The Crimson Tide were led by Robert Horry, one of my all-time Houston Rocket favorites. In 1988 we beat George Mason by 21 points and those wounds never healed and they came back for revenge in 2006 when they beat us at home and then ended our Sweet Sixteen run in D.C.

The year of the shirt was 2009-2010, when the Shockers won all their regular-season games at home until falling to Nevada in the first round of the NIT. I had worn the same Shocker shirt without washing it for the majority of the season – from the point when I realized we had a streak going. I did wear a shirt underneath it so it wasn’t that disgusting. I’m sure MeLinda enjoyed sitting next to me during that season.

So there have been a lot of good things that I’ve seen but there were also 15 years where the Shockers didn’t make the postseason and we had to sit through the coaching exploits of Mike Cohen, Scott Thompson and Randy Smithson. Scratching our heads over what happened to big John Smith and Boo Craft, why couldn’t Smithson and Maurice Evans get along or how did every top City League player during the last 25 years leave Wichita.

Slowly those bad memories have been erased and over the last five years the Shockers have been 72-3 at home when I’m in attendance and this season have had the best regular season of anytime in the history of the NCAA, which is a trivia question no one outside of Wichita will be able to answer in a few years.

These days there are 10,506 fans at every game and even my parents, who rarely seem interested in sports, are keeping tabs on the Shockers. The one crowning achievement to my Wichita State basketball viewing career would be to see the high and mighty Jayhawks make a visit to the friendly confines of Koch Arena and, of course, for the Shockers to kick their ass.

wichita state university shockers koch arena

<photo> View from our seats of the cool striping idea that the WSU marketing team coordinated and fans pulled off at a game this season.

Posted in Lee, Sports