Category Archives: Weird shit that happens

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.

 

Also posted in Animals, Lee, Photography, 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.

Also posted in Lee, travel

Remembering a failed interview with the X-Man

Here's Xavier McDaniel in a Seattle promotional poster. The dog was not with him at the interview :)
Here’s Xavier McDaniel in a Seattle promotional poster. The dog was not with him at the interview :)

 

Xavier McDaniel will be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame tonight. This brings back memories of my first summer in Wichita, Kansas … and having the NBA player basically kick me out of his gym.

I moved to Wichita for the summer of 1992 to take on a sports reporting internship at the Wichita Eagle newspaper. I covered a little of everything that summer – minor league baseball, the annual NBC amateur baseball tournament held in Wichita every year, professional tennis {Martina Navratilova was on a visiting team}, horseshoes {not kidding}, auto racing, motocross racing and a lot of youth sports. Then there was the time I was asked to interview Xavier McDaniel; it was one of my first assignments of the internship.

The assignment: localize a national wire story about the one-year anniversary of Magic Johnson announcing he was retiring from basketball because he had the HIV virus. NBA player Xavier McDaniel was in Wichita conducting a youth basketball camp, so my job was to go ask him how Magic’s announcement had changed the league.

I’d heard of him — known as X or the X-Man — but I didn’t know much more than he was an NBA player. There was no Google in 1992, so I did a quick search of the newspaper’s archives before heading out to interview him. Turns out he’d played college ball at Wichita State University in the early 1980s, where he became the first collegiate player in history to lead the nation in both scoring (27.2 points per game) and rebounding (14.8 rebounds per game) in the same season. He was drafted fourth overall in 1985 by the Seattle Supersonics, which was the team I remembered him playing for, and lost the Rookie of the Year award to Patrick Ewing.

Some of the archives and/or stories shared by my fellow Eagle reporters also pointed to some anger issues that had gotten some publicity over the years. To say I was a little intimidated walking into a high school gym to ask the X-Man about the risk of HIV and its effect on the sex lives of pro basketball players would be an understatement!

I was 20 years old and this guy was 6-foot-7, 220 pounds PLUS his baldness gave him an even more menacing look. I mean, the guy was known for his intensity!

It might have been the world’s shortest interview, and I recall it went something like this:

Me: So we are running an article about whether Magic Johnson’s announcement has changed the behavior of pro athletes over the past year.

X: OK, so what’s your question?

Me: Um, well … has Magic Johnson’s announcement that he has HIV changed your behavior, or that of your teammates?

X: You want me to tell you if it’s changed who I sleep with? No way, I’m not telling you what me or my teammates do personally. You’re crazy.

His words were a little loud, not yelling but … intense :) It was clear that the interview was over.

Looking back, I don’t blame X for his reaction. I think I’d be able to approach the topic differently now that I’m a little older and wiser, and I’d get a few usable sentences out of him!

So there you have it, my brush with a member of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. Sometime I will tell you about Norm Stewart yelling at me on the phone and hanging up on me, or how friendly Martina was not.

Also posted in Randomness, Sports, Work

I found a time capsule in my basement

birthday_card_30I opened a time capsule today. It wasn’t an intended one, but it sure took me back in time about 12 years.

The capsule was in the form of a cheap, white plastic bag that was buried inside a cardboard box that once crated a microwave.

I was looking for a camera lens box that had important warranty information on the lens. I opened the large microwave box, sitting atop a wardrobe that my grandparents once owned, thinking maybe it contained a bunch of smaller boxes. Instead, I found a hodge-podge of decorative tins and other reusable containers, and the plastic bag.

For some unknown reason, I’d stashed the cards from my 30th birthday in this plastic bag and then it ended up in this box in our basement.

The most interesting part of this find is the story that it painted of my life then – on Aug. 6, 2001 – and how that moment in time highlights what has happened in the world and my life since. That’s the point of time capsules, right?

Finding and reading the cards made my mind go back to 2001 and all night I was thinking, “If I only knew then what I know now…”

I thought it would be interesting to share the inventory of the bag along with commentary.

Then: A birthday card signed by about six of my immediate coworkers at Raytheon Aircraft, my first job in aviation and my first corporate public relations position.
Now: Well, I quit that job about two weeks after getting that card! I wasn’t happy with what I was doing at work and turning 30 made me realize life is too short to waste it doing something you dread every day. My last day was Sept. 7 … I was celebrating my new freedom the next week by visiting friends and family in Columbia, Mo., when 9/11 happened.

Then: A birthday card from my mom and stepdad, Charles, signed “We love you!”
Now: My mom passed away in 2006. I still get a card most years from Charles, and he usually puts a sticker or six on the envelope and that makes me smile.

Then: A birthday card from my dad and stepmom, Pat.
Now: One of the few actual cards I get in the mail today comes from my dad. I love getting that kind of mail.

Then: A birthday card from my oldest brother, Roy signed “Have a good one.”
Now: Roy died in 2003.

Then: A birthday card signed by my nephews Cory (11) and Zach (15). It cracks me up that they felt the need to sign their last names too :)
Now: Cory graduates from Mizzou next spring. Zach is married, just bought his first house and is graduating in just a couple of months from Columbia College.

Then: A birthday card from my in-laws, Toba and Fred.
Now: I still get a paper card from them and they always make dinner for me on or around my birthday.

Then: A birthday card from my Aunt Linda and Uncle Skip.
Now: My aunt passed away in 2009 and my uncle in 2011 – both from cancer. How is it that I still remember their phone number but I can’t remember my current bank login and password?!?

Then: A birthday card from my long-time, close friend Dave, who I went to grade school with but didn’t really become friends with until the college years.
Now: We went from texting every day to no texting or talking at all. Remember that rule about not loaning money to friends. Yeah, I thought our friendship was strong enough to prove that wrong but it wasn’t. It’s a good rule.

Then: A birthday card from my college friend Jodi that included an invite to come visit her in Springfield, Mo.
Now: Jodi still lives in Springfield, and I went to visit her several times there last year. I’m meeting her and our friend Kim in Kansas City this month.

Then: A birthday card from Morgan, one of my longest Wichita friends.
Now: Morgan still gives the funniest, craziest birthday cards and gifts. And she mails me really funny postcards throughout the year.

Then: A greeting card to my dog from my mom’s cat with a written inscription of “Astro: love ya!” and signed “Sampson.” I think we both know who really signed the card.
Now: Both pets have passed away.

~~~

There you have it – the contents of the time capsule 2001: The Year MeLinda Turned 30. Oh, and there was a Mizzou garter in there too. That might be another blog post …

Also posted in Family, Friends, Randomness

The wildest animals we saw at the Grand Canyon: French girls

grand canyon lodge north rim

Lee looking into the canyon from the Grand Canyon Lodge at the north rim.

So there we are, taking our first looks at the majestic Grand Canyon from its north rim. It’s 9 a.m. and we’ve brought our breakfast with us to eat as we gaze at the colors and shadows on the formations in the morning light.

We are in the main lodge building of the Grand Canyon Lodge, which is the centerpiece of the National Historic Landmark lodge and cabins on the edge of the rim. I’m taking photos of Lee looking out into the canyons from the three large floor-to-ceiling windows in a cavernous recreation room filled with leather couches and chairs.

“What are those girls doing?” I hear a nearby couple talking to each other. “I can’t believe they are in heels out there.”

I move up to the window to see what they are talking about and sure enough, there are three 20-something females standing on a point of the rim that juts out. Two are posing like Miley Cyrus at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards for a third, who is taking photos.

Lee and I laugh, shake our heads and move out to the terrace where we can have our breakfast in the fresh air.

travel_nr gc squirrel looking over canyon.jpgtravel_nr gc squirrel on hind legs.jpgtravel_nr gc squirrel teeth.jpg

As soon as we take our food out of the backpack, we are visited by a friendly squirrel – clearly a master at begging for scraps. I put the zoom lens on my Canon and start taking photos of the cute critter when my eyes get diverted back to the rim.

The photo shoot has continued. The girls have stripped down to bra and panties and are striking poses. Then the bras come off. Someone shouts down to them, “Kiss her.”

{OK, I made that last part up but if I’d thought faster I would have yelled it!}

These iPhone images will give you a perspective of the position of the formation where they were standing. Oh, and by the way, it was about 40 degrees outside!

travel_nr girls small 1.jpgtravel_nr girls small 2.jpgtravel_nr girls small 3.jpg

Since I had the zoom lens on (for the squirrels, remember?) I took some photos but have to admit it felt a little exploitive so I stopped after taking a few {and making sure they were in focus}. But hey, it’s not like I went to some club and sneaked in my camera {don’t try this, you’ll get banned from the property…so I hear}.

I’m at the freaking Grand Canyon trying to get my nature on and these girls decided to put on a show. In public. In front of huge viewing windows of the main building at that north rim. This is how I’ve rationalized that it’s OK for me to post these images.

So here ya go – the wildest animals we saw on our 10-day trip that started in Las Vegas and circled the Grand Canyon. By the way, we ran into the threesome a few minutes later on the trail {fully clothed} and Lee thinks they were speaking French.

North Rim Girls 1

travel_north rim girls 2

 

travel_north rim girls 3 copy

Also posted in Lee, Photography, travel, Uncategorized