Volunteering at Voyageur

A few weeks ago a call went out for Upper Midwest Trail Runners to volunteer at the Voyageur 50 mile trail race. My wife and I had already planned a trip to the North Shore the same weekend to do some hiking, so we decided to sign up to help, and then do some hiking after we got done volunteering.

We arrived around 10am at the Beck’s Road aid station. The first runners had been through, on the way out,  hours before, and were just arriving back for the return trip. The leaders came close to breaking the course record set by Scott Jurek many years ago! We started helping right away, as the biggest influx of runners started arriving at the aid station en masse. My wife started making PB&J while I made sure other items were well stocked.

Eventually, the big rush passed, and we were able to fall into a good routine. Everyone pitched in where they could, but there was enough help that no one felt overwhelmed. I spent most of my time keeping the food stocked, and helping runners as they came through. I loved being able to convince guys I knew to keep going, despite their mind telling them to stop. It was great to help get them motivated and back on the trail.

The stream turned into a trickle, and the task of breaking down the station began. We bid the final runner farewell, and waited for the sweepers to come through. They weren’t far behind, and with that, our portion of the race was done. Most everyone else was heading to the after party, but the wife and I had other plan. I’ll write about our hike in another entry though.

It’s always great to give back to the trail community, and I love the people I worked with today. We had a great time helping out, and it was an amazing way to spend a Saturday. I’m proud of all the racers that finished, and can’t wait to see them all out on the trail again soon.


Machi Koro, the game

Earlier this week the wife and spawn and I got to spend some time at the game center. I’ve been wanting to try the game Machi Koro for a while, so before we left, I watched a quick YouTube tutorial on the game so that we could give it a try.

It’s a simple card game where you are attempting to build four landmark structures in your city before your opponents. It combines some elements of deck building, where you purchase establishment cards from a central store, but unlike deck builders, the cards become part of your city on every play going forward. Players roll dice to see which cards take effect on their turns, and sometimes this means that another player’s roll can benefit you. As you build all of your establishments, the gold starts flowing fast and furious.

Eventually, you build up your establishments to the point where you’re collecting enough gold to build the 4 key landmarks that win the game for you. The first person to build all four of the landmarks wins. It’s a fun and quick game, and we picked it up really easily tonight, and had a great time. If you want to learn how to play it, I’d suggest this Watch it Played video, as it gave me the quick tutorial that helped us jump right into playing.

Seasons are changing

This morning as I went out for a run I realized how dark it had gotten at 5am again. It’s a sign that there is less of Summer left than what we’ve already been through. This afternoon as I walked from coffee I noticed this purple flower and how it was half alive, and half past bloom. It made me think about how summer will soon be a memory, despite the fact that we can’t imagine what low humidity feels like right now.

Rural cell coverage

When I switched to T-Mobile a few years ago for my cell phone service, I wasn’t too worried about coverage. Around the cities they’re pretty much as good as anyone else. However, the first time we took a trip out of town we realized how woefully inadequate they are in rural areas. Time has marched on, and they’ve made a lot of progress is covering more remote areas, but beyond voice calling, data services are slow and weak.

However, I love T-Mobile and all of the added services that they give you, such as free music streaming and no data overage charges. The other day a thought came to me: My tablet is an LTE tablet, so why not convert that over to Verizon instead of T-Mobile, and that can be my internet gateway when I’m out of town.

Today the SIM chip arrived and I popped it in. I wanted to see how Verizon’s network has kept up with T-Mobile’s speed in metro areas. I was surprised to see that Verizon was astoundingly fast on download speeds. It felt far short on upload speed, but that’s not as big a concern to me.



The big test will be on some of our upcoming weekend trips out of town. I’m going to check out how the tablet’s signal compares to T-Mobile, and see if Verizon’s coverage really is that good. Plus, if I need internet signal in an area where T-Mobile is weak, this will give us options for looking up maps or searching for hotels and restaurants.

One final note, I love how so many devices are carrier agnostic now. It was a simple SIM chip swap to be up and running on a different carrier.