Friday, July 27, 2007

Last Visit to Cinci

Cincinatti, Ohio; July 25-27, 2007

On Wednesday I traveled to Cincinnati for the last time during my clerkship (so sad). Our last sitting was loads of fun. On Wednesday night my co-clerks and I joined the Judge and Angy for dinner at The Precinct -- a Jeff Ruby steakhouse just outside downtown Cincinnati. The restaurant is actually an old police precinct. The food was unbelievable and I would recommend eating there if you're ever in town.

After dinner David, Allison, Barney and I headed to the new bar that just opened across from the courthouse -- Cadillac Ranch. This was a great place: cheap drinks, good music (plus a dance floor), outdoor seating, and best of all, a mechanical bull! After some prodding from my co-clerks, I rode the bull and, surprisingly, had tons of fun. I actually hung on for quite some time. It's much harder than it seems and your legs and arms get sore pretty quickly. Adam was shocked I had agreed to ride the bull.

My co-clerk David also rode the bull. He spoke to the bull operator and we learned the trick to staying on is to not taunt the bull. One of our friends, Mike, taunted the bull and paid the price. He flew head first off the bull.

On Thursday night we joined another group of great clerks for dinner at Beluga -- a sushi restaurant near Hyde Square in Cincinnati. The food was great and afterwards we headed to Rock Bottom Brewery for some post-dinner drinks on our last night in town. All and all I had a great time during my last visit to Cinci.

Pictures from my visit to Cinci, including my bull ride, will be posted later this week.

In case you're wondering about the Doog, she got a haircut on Saturday. I always think they cut her hair too short, leaving her looking a bit like a "rat dog." I'll post some pictures of her swimming later this week.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A wedding, a 250 foot plunge, a concert, a visa....

The past few weeks have been exciting for Valerie and I, which has been why our blog has been pretty quiet. But here's a quick recap:

7/14: Kim's wedding!

My lovely co-clerk Kim got married on the beach in Pinones on July 14, also known as Bastille Day. Our Boston-based clerk Tom came down for the event, which was a ton of fun.

[Tom, Kell, Kim, Monica, Adam]

The after-reception was held at the Soleil Beach Club, which is a delightful little place right on the beach in Pinones.

[Tom, Kim, Adam, Monica]

7/15: The next day, my law school roommate Dave came in at 1:00 AM. We returned to my apartment for three hours of sleep, and at 5:00 AM, Tom, Dave and I joined Monica, James, and JP for an amazing trip. We went with Aventuras PR to the Cuevas de Camuy (Camuy Caves). But instead of taking the little tram down into the dry cave for a 15 minute explanation by a tour guide, as most people do, we hooked ourselves into a zip-line and careened across the sinkhole. Then we strapped on harnesses and rappelled down a 250 foot cliff -- pretty cool! Dave, Tom nd I captured a few pictures of this:




But the fun hadn't even started at this point. Our guides then led us into the mouth of the wet cave - a cave which has the river Camuy running through it. We spent the next five hours swimming, jumping, climbing, and sliding through the cave. Unfortunately, my camera could not take pictures (although some may be forthcoming soon from JP), so I'll try to do it justice:

Much of the way, you're crawling up and down rocks in near darkness, the only light being provided by your miners lamp. Above your head, bats are flying all around, and as you look around on the cave walls, you notice spiders about the size of my foot (which is pretty big). At one point, we came to a cliff with a 10-15 foot drop into the water; at this point, we checked that our life vests were securely on, and jumped in, and floated on down the river. In some places, the passages were so narrow that only a few inches separated your nose from the cave roof. At various points, the guides would point out giant stalactites (those things hanging from the roof) and stalagmites (those things coming up from the ground). These are humongous - in some of the bigger rooms, they could be measured in building stories! Anyways, the hike took about 5-6 hours (we think - you lose all sense of time inside) and we traversed about 2 miles, reaching points about 400 feet underground (or so our guides told us). If you are in PR for a few days and have some extra time, I would definitely try this out. It's a bit pricey, but it's worth every penny of it - it is really an unforgettable experience.

My friend Dave stayed with me for a few more days, which was a lot of fun - we had some time to catch up and watch Arrested Development, a fantastic show which was just too funny for TV (and thus was cancelled only after three seasons).

7/19: Valerie and I met in Philadelphia (our fair city) to see the Police reunion tour. We visited alot of our old haunts - Capogiro (purveyors of the best gelato around), the Miran Korean restaurant (a fantastic Korean place on Chestnut between 20th & 21st), DiBruno Brothers (excellent for cheese), and finally, Capriccio - the place where Valerie and I had our first date nearly four years ago:

The Police were amazing in concert. I had suspected that Sting had mellowed out over the years, but he can play a mean guitar! Unfortunately, we decided not to bring a camera to the concert, so no pictures.

7/20: The next morning, after a quick waffle and coffee at Bonte, we hopped the train to New York and went and got Chinese visas, spending our lunch hour at Lombardi's pizza - in our opinion, the best pizza in Manhattan (although certainly not in New York). It really hit our pizza craving - unfortunately, neither the Caribbean nor Ohio are well known for their pizza cultures. We picked up our visas and then went to Northface to get Valerie a backpack for China.

7/21: We picked up our copies of the new Harry Potter (it's great!) and enjoyed some of New York's best food treats: the Union Square Farmer's market!

7/22: The next day, Valerie and I said our goodbyes, and headed off to the sun. We're going to be on our own for the next few weeks, until we meet again in Boston on August 10.

Up next: Valerie parties in Cincinatti. Adam parties with Drew in PR. The doog parties in Columbus.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Isla del Encanto

July 3-8; Puerto Rico

Valerie: I took advantage of the Fourth of July holiday to visit Adam in Puerto Rico. We were able to hike El Yunque, something we had tried to do on my prior visit to the island but failed. This time we woke up early and started the hike before the afternoon storms hit. Because it's the rainy season and El Yunque is a rainforest, it pretty much rains there everyday around the middle of the day (we got soaked on our hike down the mountain). The hike was not too bad and once at the top, the views were well worth the effort.

(View from El Yunque. You can see the ocean in the distance.)

(Us at the top. You really can't see behind us, because of the clouds, but as the clouds cleared away, from here you could see the rest of the rainforest and views of the ocean, as well as Fajardo (the nearest big city). At the top it feels as if you're amidst the clouds.).

Adam: This was my fourth trek to the top of El Yunque. Although we did reach the actual "summit", these views are from a point about 200 feet below. The summit itself is a whole bunch of radio towers and a concrete platform/tower that looks like it might have had a military application at some point. The hike is really great, and once you get to the top, the wind kicks up so it no longer feels so much like you are in the rainforest!

Valerie: I also visited Old San Juan and was able to see where Adam spends his days:

(Adam's home from Mon thru Friday -- The Federal Courthouse in Old San Juan)

Adam: This building is a beautiful old courthouse. On the second floor, there is a really nice balcony where we eat lunch many days. The view from my desk is also spectacular:

(View from Adam's window - notice the Colombian and Brazilian ships)

Valerie: We also did some walking around Old San Juan.

(Valerie on Calle Nozagaray, overlooking the Atlantic)

(It was pretty hot and both of us had already seen El Morro so we didn't actually visit it again. Instead, we made it to the park leading to El Morro. You can see it in the distance.)

(view from the city walls, just beyond Paseo de la Princesa)

Valerie: Adam's apartment is right on the beach. One night we decided to eat at Pamela's a restaurant on the beach just a short walk from Adam's place. The sunset was so pretty we started taking pictures. These are two of the many shots I got before the sun went down:

(Us on the beach in front of Pamela's - a little blurry because of the wind)

(Us on the beach in front of Adam's apartment)

Adam: On Friday night, we went out for dinner with some of my friends, all of whom were clamoring to meet Valerie. As always, we met at the Great Taste chinese restaurant in Condado - one of my favorites in the San Juan area, given their relatively decent chinese food (i.e. no plantains involved).

(from Left: Ivan, Lymarie, Charles, Montse, Adam, Valerie, Doraliz, Lory, Marianne, Kim, Kell)

Adam: It was a really fun weekend, and it was Valerie's last trip to PR this year =(

Up next: Kim and Kell's wedding. Adam scales down a cliff. Valerie goes shopping. The doog looks out the window.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

June 30 - July 2: Adam in LA (Pasadena, really)!

I took a brief trip out to LA this past week to take care of some business, and to visit my good friend Ana, who is working out there. For those of you who have never looked at a map, Pasadena is very far away from Puerto Rico. To get there, I took a flight to Houston, then to LA, about 8 hours in total flying time. To get back, I flew to San Francisco, then to Washington, D.C., and then back to Puerto Rico, about 11 hours in total.

[Adam's Trapezoidal Trip]

Pasadena is a lovely city - it is surrounded by mountains:

[Pasadena with mountains in back]

. . . but is mostly a flat city, with a really neat downtown that has a lot of art deco buildings. It sort of has a Miami Beach feel to it, sans the beach:

[Colorado Ave., downtown Pasadena]

[the Pasadena courthouse]

While I was out there, we saw the new Die Hard movie, which was largely filmed in Pasadena, although most of the movie took place in Washington D.C. I suppose the movie was either filmed on a low budget, or the producers have no idea what downtown Washington D.C. actually looks like.

[note: Washington D.C. architecture is mostly granite - it is rare to see so much glass in the city]

On Sunday, we drove out to Santa Monica to eat at this place called "The Counter" - sort of a make-your-own-burger type joint. It was pretty tasty, and we got a chance to hang out with my friend Zach, my stepsister Julia, and my friend Jimmy and his girlfriend (not pictured below)

[Zach, Adam, Ana]

[Zach, Adam, Julia]

Monday was a workday, and after seven hours of interviews, I was on my way back. I flew out of the Burbank Airport, a tiny little airport near Pasadena, which happens to be where Casablanca was filmed. I didn't get many good pictures from inside the one-room terminal, but I did manage to snap this shot of the sun setting over the runway:

[Pasadena Airport]

Up Next: Valerie visits Adam in Puerto Rico, the Doog wonders "what are my owners up to?"

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

A Cartoon the Doog Approves of . . .

The full story can be found here:

Weekend in Columbus

June 30 - July 1; Columbus, Ohio

After several weekends spent out of town, this past weekend I reacquainted myself with Columbus by taking a long bike ride around town. I recently purchased a D40 Nikon SLR Digital camera and was dying to see what the camera could do. It didn't disappoint. The picture quality on the digital SLR is light years better than the quality on my Canon Powershot---which until recently I swore by. For those of you not familiar with Columbus, these are mostly pictures of the downtown area, the Short North, and German Village areas.

This orange-yellow building in the foreground is where I spend my days -- the Federal Courthouse on Marconi Boulevard:

This is a view of the Columbus skyline from a bike path that winds around the Scioto River -- the river behind the courthouse:
Trivia: Scioto is a Native-American word for "deer."

The North Market is a great farmer's market in the Short North area of Columbus. If you're in town, I recommend visiting Jeni's ice cream, located inside. It has the best ice cream in town.

In Victorian Village, just north of downtown Columbus, there's a great park called Goodale Park, which has a summer jazz concert series and poetry readings:

Lastly, my ride took me through German Village (not far from where I live) which is a historic area with brick roads and brick houses:
(A typical German-Village house.)

German village also has a very pretty garden (Frank Fetch Park), which Molly and I visited:

By this point, Molly was pretty tired (what can I say, we walked a lot and she's a couch potato with small legs), but luckily the garden had a water station for dogs:

And of course, I used my new camera to add to my already large picture collection of Molly, here's a sampling:
Molly looking very doog like.

I like the contrast between the bright orange hydrant and Molly's black fur.