Tempe, Arizona Vacay!

This weekend my dad and I went to Arizona for the Pat Tillman Foundation run. A few months ago, I read Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer. It chronicles Pat’s life, decision to join the United States Army, his tragic death and legacy.

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My dad served in the military for 28 years, so after I finished the book I gave it to him to read (even though it was Zach’s…). I thought he would enjoy it and it would give us something good to talk about.

We were both moved by Pat’s story and how well Krakauer handled the sensitive, heartbreaking material. It wasn’t an easy story to tell or read, the circumstances around Pat’s death under friendly fire are terrible, but Krakauer did a great job of focusing on his life.

In February, for my dad’s birthday, I signed both of us up for the race and bought plane tickets to Tempe, YAY for daddy-daughter trips!

Our trip got off to a rocky start, Friday evening we were taking a cab to the hotel and got into an accident. Luckily, no one was injured, though things could have been a lot worse if our driver didn’t break when he did. Once we settled safely in our room, we prepared for an early morning. The race started at 7, so we’d be leaving the hotel before 6.

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The race was awesome! Over 28,000 people came out for the event. I’m so happy I got to spend this time with my dad. During the race, we even ran a little ways, something we didn’t think we were going to be able to do because of my dad’s injured knee.

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After the race, we napped and iced my dad’s knee so that he doesn’t limp around all next week. After our recovery, we went to Rula Bula‘s for dinner and drinks. During Pat’s lifetime, he frequented Rula Bula. Right before his deployment he gave his glass to the bartender and asked him to keep it there for him until he came back. Since Pat never made it back, the bar hosts Pints for Pat; the proceeds go the Tillman Scholarship fund.

We have one more day here, tomorrow we’re going to a Native American PowWow and an African drum circle on campus, both should be fun events, though the most important part of this trip is some great daddy-daughter time before Zach and I move to Seattle.

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A New Adventure

Zach and I went to Seattle this weekend. While our trip was technically a vacation, we had another purpose.

In January, Foster School of Business, at the University of Washington, accepted Zach into their program and offered him a scholarship. If you don’t know much about the program or the school, follow the link above.  I’m proud of Zach for finding a dream and chasing it, especially since it’s so pragmatic, am I right?

So, I guess this also kind of makes this post a belated announcement that we’re moving to Seattle this August … surprise … !

The school put on a Welcome Weekend April 14 – 16. It was essentially a weekend of being wined and dined (we ate and drank a lot). While I won’t give you a play-by-play of the adventure (hint: Friday was nearly 100% meetings), I’ll mention the highlights.

Thursday:

We landed around 12:30 and used public transit to get to our hotel. Seattle has an amazing light rail system. Yes, it is still relatively new and definitely a work in progress, but it is already leagues ahead of anything we have in Utah. For starters, our tickets were $6.50 total. TOTAL! For both people. In Utah two tickets from Ogden to SLC (about the same distance) would cost about 20 bucks.

After we got to our hotel, I was VERY tempted to take a nap, but decided that it was best to explore our new home-city to be. We ditched our bags in our room and took a walk through the neighborhoods.

The first thing we noticed was the diversity, which was especially apparent in the food options. In Utah, you usually have to wait for the International Festival to find different kinds of food all in one place. Here, they’re all together in one block.

Thursday’s real event was the Welcome Dinner, put on by the Foster School of Business. It was open bar and a vegetarian-less buffet. While I was hungry, I did talk to one person in the three hours we were there! Progress.

Friday:

We started early Friday with a school hosted breakfast. It was mostly a parfait bar, but they had vegetarian breakfast sandwiches, finally Seattle was starting to get it together. After breakfast, meetings … we’ll skip this part.

4:00!!! We’re split into groups! Zach has to stay for more meetings, while I get to go with the Blue Dots, the spouses group, to the bar! Yay bars! We stayed there for about two hours, I don’t know what Zach was doing, but I spent my time continuing a conversation with the girl I had met the night before. Talking A LOT to just one person is my specialty in life.

Saturday:

This was the best day. We went on an awesome tour, Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour, if you ever go to Seattle, I highly recommend this tour. It’s funny and you get an inside look at some of Seattle’s more seedy history.

Post-tour we went to lunch at a Mexican joint. Once there, we and our new friends (a couple originally from Texas but now living in Salt Lake City), made it our mission to eat and drink our way through the Foster budget.

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The tacos are Zach’s.

Here is where the “we’re not in Kansas” moment hit me hardest. I’m not a city girl; I love small, clean, safe Utah more than anything. This whole weekend, while I panicked at the size of the city, I tried to convince myself that it would be OK and I was being ridiculous. That was, until, a guy walked by and started smoking crack right there in the alley.

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Our friend posed for a picture, so it wouldn’t look as obvious that I was taking a picture. Though, do you think he’d notice?

I’m scared to move and maybe not ready to leave my bubble yet. I’m excited to explore a new city, but not excited to find a new job and set down new roots. Either way, I guess this is an adventure.

Why the Panicked Panda?

I’m starting this blog to chronicle Zach’s and my wonderful adventures. My former blog, Vegan Out of the Valley was a lot of fun! I started it my senior year of undergrad as a personal branding project, but as of now, I’ve outgrown it. First, I’m no longer vegan! I’m vegetarian now because cheese seduced me and Zach encouraged it. Second, it is a great representation of who I was then and my journey to where I am now. I’m by no means done growing, but I am starting a new chapter and with a new chapter comes new things to explore and discover, which warrant a new space.

Funnily enough, I started thinking about this blog before Kitty passed away. I’m pretty devastated and will be for awhile. The last post I wrote was a tribute her to. I can’t fathom going back to the blog and posting something else from it — at least not for awhile.

Now to the real question, why the title: The Panicked Panda?

Simple; I panic about everything. It is my natural state of being. If there is a tiny thing to worry about, I will worry about it. I will worry until I start to go mad, even though it is pointless and drives everyone around me crazy as well. Misery loves company, and so does crazy.

Buuut, I’m trying to change this. Or, if not change it, mitigate it and find a happy medium. I don’t want to worry about everything, I just worry that if I don’t worry then … nothing will get done. But, enough of that.

I picked “panda” because Zach refers to me as panda, or panda bear and sometimes just bear. But, it’s my favorite nickname and me being a panicky panda has become somewhat of a joke between us.

We’ll see where this blog takes me. I have a lot of ideas for what I want to accomplish and the content I want to put up here, it will be slow building but should be worthwhile!

(Fingers Crossed!)