Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Clayton, WA... Home of the Clayton Burger

On our third, and let me go on record to say, last snowday this year, Jessi, Emma and I ventured up to Colville to deliver some food to a friend. I have to say that I was a little concerned about this 'trip' in terms of the roads. But I figured we were in a good car, and if we were careful and cautious, we should be fine.

So we strapped in and headed down the road at 65 mph along on of the deadliest highways in the state, Hwy 395. So with the addition of a little compact snow and ice, I knew that stretch went from the deadliest to the deadliester. Don't know how you can make dead more dead or ice more frozen, but you get the idea. The roads in Spokane County were by far the worst. Once we got into Stevens County (near Deer Park) Hwy 395 really cleared up and was pretty much just wet. That was a relief because the mixed ice and 'pancake batter' type slush was pretty tough to maintain the rate of speed I wanted to travel. I know all the moms out there are just cringing, but I have to add a little drama.

We made it to Colville in record time. Only a few near misses, or near hits, depending on how you look at it. I actually have never had an airbag go off before, but Jessi has. As we started back I took a split because as a triathlete I am looking for the negative split here. With the sun in my eyes, and just about out of windshield washer fluid I put the pedal down and brought it up to 70mph as soon as saw the green light of the 60mph sign leaving Colville. No bumps all the way to Cheweah... next check point would be Deer Park.

En route to Deer Park we went around this little bend in the road that most people miss in a blink. A little oasis called 'Clayton.' I know that there are people named Clayton, but something says 'country' when you come across a town named this. I have driven past this little piece of Heaven a hundred times going to Canada, 49 degrees north, Colville, etc. One thing always stands out, and I am more than likely to comment on it each time we pass, is that sign that says, 'Home of the Clayton Burger.' It still draws a smile on my face when I type it. At some point in time, there was an aspiring business person that thought it was right time by gosh that we got a sign to tell all y'all about our show stoppin' Clayton Burger. Now, when you name a burger after the name of a town it means one of two things... 1. It's a phenomenal burger, or 2. You live in a pretty small town. They have #2 locked in... but what a out #1? Jessi suggested that we stop as we flew through the suburbs, downtown, and business district all in about 4 seconds. I asked her if she was serious, and she was.

Now, I have to say that it has not been a dream of mine to stop, but it surely has been a curiosity. The legendary Clayton Burger was going to be in reach. We pulled in to the parking lot along 2 other cars. One being a full size 1978 Ford F-150 and a mid 80s cargo van with some faded logo of a prior business on the side. As we opened the door to the diner, I could already almost taste the food due to the fry oil permeating the air.

Many of you know that I have had some trouble in some longer races with nutrition, or food upsetting my stomach. I thought his would be good training for that. If I train my digestive system, this early in the season, to adapt to the worst type of food for you, I should be in good shape for the tri season. If it could handle this, it could handle anything that Hammer throws its way. I also thought that a lot of people do high altitude training. I consider this high cholesterol training. I think it makes my heart stronger, but I don't know if that's good?

We walked in and looked at the menu board that had the signature Clayton Burger listed. I read through what exactly it was... I was so curious. Here is what it has:

2 meat
2 bacon strips
1 hot dog (yup on the burger)
1 cheese
onion pickle
Sesame seed bun

That sounded pretty impressive. I am sure a lot of brows are raised when they come across 'hot dog,' but when in Rome, eat hot dogs. Jessi ordered a single burger and Emma, a grilled cheese sandwich. We sat down and started to take in the ambiance. There was a lot to take in. I needed to hit the restroom so I asked where they were? The employee said they were just outside around the corner. Made sense since this building wasn't probably a restaurant initially. But this was not just an 'outside entrance' to a bathroom in the building. This was a full on independent structure... like the ones you would find on the Centennial Trail. I was a little nervous about touching the stainless steel 'type' door handle. But I took a deep breath and did. But it was locked... Crap! I glanced around and saw a full size truck running outside (diesel of course) with a trailer wand a John Deere tractor on the trailer. It was picture perfect for a postcard saying, 'Welcome to the Farm.' So I walked back to the main building and in form the 20 degree day. I sat by the window waiting for the person to leave so I knew when it would be available. They guy must have been in there for about 20+ minutes from when we got there to the time his rig pulled out. I headed out for a second attempt. Sure enough, the door was open. But I was all but ready for what I was about to experience. I really want to go into graphic detail of what my olfactory senses experienced at that moment, but I will avoid that since there might be minors reading this. But let me just bait the hook a bit... think of a workout bag that a 350lb 5'2" guy has been using (granted, I doubt a 350lb guy that is 5'2" has a 'workout bag' at all... but stay with me) for the past month. And all he uses is the stairclimber for 1 hour each day. But here's the twist, he NEVER washes his clothes... he just puts them back in the bag. Now, zip that up, let it ferment for a couple days in the car, now unzip this canvas bag and take a deep, deep, double lunged breath of this. Got that, well there's more. Because what he did to that toilet may have set some kind of record. I don't care how many little 'fresh trees' you got from the local gas and sip, it would not cover the stench that came from inside this guy. I actually smiled thinking that a guy left that place knowing what he left there. Nothing visible, but the smell painted such a picture.

As you can see in this picture there are no stalls, just a toilet and urinal separated by a full sized garbage can. Not a small can, but a 32+ gallon can. How much garbage does a bathroom get in a day? To top it off, as you can see in the garbage, there are things like drink containers, food wrappers, etc., in there. What in the world are people doing in this place. Sitting on the toilet and consuming their Clayton Burger? Are they that worried what it would do to their system? Too many questions and I am afraid of some of the answers.

So I quickly used the urinal and went to go and wash my hands because I touched the door handle :) As I walked into the little narrow area that housed the sink, I noticed that there was not any soap. You have got to be kidding me? They have an 'auto flush' system, but no soap? A hand dryer, but no soap? I sure hope their employees use a different bathroom than this one. No soap means some funky things under the nails. So I did a thorough rinse and shook the water off my hands. Now, the door handle again. I pulled my hand way up inside my jacket sleeve and opened the door with the elbow of my jacket. I figured it would be very unlikely that my elbow would ever touch my face. Hey, I needed to make an executive decision.

When I came in from the stench hole from Hell, I was happy to see that Jessi had a small bottle of Purell, whew. Shortly after I sat down, the food arrived all wrapped up in wax paper. But not the Clayton Burger. It was 'presented' on a small fry basket with a coffee straw through the middle spearing a green olive on it. Interesting touch, but it's all about the presentation... hmmm. After I removed the coffee straw and the olive it actually looked like a pretty good burger. I tried not to focus on the hot dog that I knew was in there somewhere. I took my first bite and I have to say that it was pretty good. I would give the overall taste 3.75 out of 5... almost a 4, but I just came out of that bathroom.

As we all finished and started to look around at the decorations, I couldn’t help but notice some of the 'attractions' to the place. First off, the cutting edge orange and brown matching tables, chairs, and booths. Twigs missed out on this cutting edge decor, circa 1973. It really added to the setting. I started to think about what stories these tables could tell. What asses have actually sat here? And which ones broke the chairs? What large business transactions have takn place here? What life changing decisions have been made here... other than numerous ones about needing to go on a diet after eating there.

Then there is the beautiful hand made light fixtures sporting the low watt curly white bulbs. Nice touch. It's kind of like each bulb has it's own holding cell... like jail. But what tops that is that each porcelain bulb socket must have been hand painted with stain. Nothin' holds to porcelain like stain.

A creative touch was the 'park bench' touch that was given to each ketchup and mustard bottle. I felt like I was camping again... wondering how long that ketchup and mustard had actually been in there as it held so securely to the top of the lid when it was only 1/2 full. I did notice that they used the same stain on the 'park benches' as they did on the light fixtures, nice continued color theme.

For a 'holiday touch' in almost February, it was nice to see their fenced off Christmas display of snowmen and a mish mash of other holiday decorations. But I think the outdoor fence was necessary because in most diners things can get pretty out of hand. I thought maybe they had a goat in there or something. Nope, just some plastic and lights. There was a gate, not too sure if that was for their 'World Famous Clayton Christmas Tours.' I'm not sure if they are really early for Christmas, or a tad late. Things run at a little different pace in Clayton.

And what diner would be complete without a list of the local sex offenders. There were about 6 pages to this, but I only took a shot of the first one. Right before I sit down for a meal, I like to know who in the community might be joining me, and where they live. Again, a nice touch.

So, that was our experience at the place with the famous 'Clayton Burger.' I don't know what the name of the place was, but you really can't miss it. And if you do, no one will really blame you, because I doubt many people stop. But I would guess that those that do, will stop again and again. Pretty good burger, and a lot of unintentional entertainment.

Bottom line, good food, nice staff, and take care of your bathroom needs before you go there.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Run in the snow... or drifts... or whatever you call them

So I was able to get in a longer run yesterday. I wanted to get my longer run in on Sunday, as normal, but being sick makes it tough. You really have to balance that. I was told one time, back in the 80's when I was at the Olympic Training Center, that for every day you train when you are sick, adds 3 more days on to your recovery, or illness. I don't know if there is any documentation on that, but it has stuck with me and I am pretty respectful of that. However, we all know that there different levels of sickness. A runny nost is not the same as the flu. And the intensity of your workout needs to come into play. You can often get in an 'easy' workout when you are feeling pooly too.

Anyway, I was able to run yesterday, and how could you not? It was a snow day from school, sunny, and so much fresh snow. Fortunately the plows had been out and there was enough room for the cars and runners. However, there are some cars that seem top think that they do not need to move their steering wheel 1" because it's too difficult and then need to see how close they can come to you. I have hit cars with my hand before on the rear quarter panel. It makes a resignating 'thump' that is pretty impressive. Ironically, they never come back to yell at me because they know that they came too close and they deserved it. Because if they did not, and they heard that thump, they would have thought they hit someone... but they know exactly what happened. So, on my run, I had a few of those. It really does not bother me too much, but sometimes I get sick of it. I just wonder when I am going to snap again. Because really, what arguement can a car make? A pedestrain ALWAYS has the right of way and you must yield to them. I'm not crossing the friggin' road, simply running along it, on the side. How difficult is it to slow down, or move over a tad? I was actually thinking of having a sticker in my hand ready to 'slap' on the side of cars with some witty saying, but that would just be too much work. And it's not like it happens all the time, and if you did that you would be looking for it to happen. Though it always does.

On my run yesterday I had very kind people as well. Some stopped in the road to let me pass because there were cars on the other side. Some went way over to the other side. Some saw me from way off and switched lanes (4 lane roads). So I don't want to make it seem like people don't do the right thing form time to time. Actually, I have to say that a majority of the time it's great. I try and wave to all those cars that give me a little extra room. Because I figure, if they see that I notice, they will do it for other runners too and it might be me again as well.

Then there are those that are on their phones, or texting. I don't know if they see ANYTHING when they are driving. There was actually a guy killed, a triathlete, because he was hit while a guy was texting. I don't know how they will make it possible to text with a bluetooth, but folks, texting while driving isn't a good combination. I think you will see the state get rich by the fines they generate from that this year. But more importantly, I hope that no one gets hurt in the process.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Snow Day

Well, here it is Monday, a Snow Day form school. Love the snow day for the fact that it's not a 3 day weekend, but hate the snow day because we normally don't find out about it until the morning of... like 5:30am. So it's not like you can plan anything, but you can sleep in. Unfortunately, we will have to make this day up, and it will probably be over the President's Day weekend which was going t be a 4 day weekend. Oh well. It comes at a good time because i have not been feeling that well, and am pretty congested with a tad bit of a cough. So I was able to roughly sleep in unil 10:00am.

Last Friday Jessi and I joined Rick and Berkely Phillips, and Martin and Vicki Scates at Twigs for dinner. We got there about 6:30 (and by the way, I was the first one there... yes, me... I actually had to 'wait' for everyone else). We ended up staying there until about 10:30 chatting and enjoying a great dinner and dessert, and coffee. I think we will be regulars there.

The weekend training went well. I had a pretty hard ide to do and I was concerned about the power output I would be able to do being a little ill. But I was able to maintain what I was supposed to and felt pretty good during the ride. I doubt I would have got up to do the BAT, but it was at our house with about 23 people. We had to have people up stairs as well as down. We had a great breakfast too that so many people contributed to. Most people did not feel like it was a training session... the time went by so fast. After the bike, Jessi, Amanda and I went for a run in the 15 degree weather. Nice to run and chat with people.

After the BAT many of us went to help fellow Tri Fusioner move from Liberty Lake to what I like to call 'the north side of the valley.' Ben and Jessa moved into a new home near the Centenial Trail. Great place, great location.

Sunday was the normal Mornings With Martin at Oz. Had a pretty good showing. It was a good swim but I was not too sure how it would go since I was feeling a bit ill, but made it happen. Many of us went to Twigs afterwards for breakfast and had a phenomenal meal. Wow, I am so glad they are going to be part of Tri Fusion this year. Nice partner to have. But after you swim that hard, then stuff yourself with carbs., it is hard to do anything but got to sleep.

So, that is the update as to what has been happenening. Still trying to stay on top of it all.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thursdays... I love Thursday. They are the new Fridays, and Fridays feel like Tuesdays since Thursday is the new Friday.

Anyway, business first. I just ran today. I knew that this run would be a tell tale sign as to how my shins were responsding to my recent training and increaded intensity as well as volume and frequency. Typically do not wat to increase all 3 of those at the same time. But tonight was the weekly Headlamp Run hosted by the Gallaghers. I was feeling pretty tired when I got home from school and actually was wondering if I might be coming down with something. Jessi got me on some Emergen-C and up a dose of Enerprime. Don't know if it will help , but it can't hurt. I took a small nap and got up a bit before we were supposed to leave. I rushed to get all my gear together and headed out the door. I ended up forgetting my headlamp, reflective clothing, iPod, and HR monitor. Oh well, all things that I can run without, but frustrating. It was a great night tonight. Temp. was a balmy 15 degrees at the run start time. Roads were pretty good, but still needed chains for 'safe' running. We took off pretty quick with Greg pushing the pace. We ended up running the entire loop (4.5 mi) about 1 minute faster than we had before. Pretty happy about that, but I am wondering what my shins will feel like tomorrow. Good run though.

On a side note, I played a little joke on Tiffany today that I thought was pretty funny. But when you have to explain the joke to the person, it kind of loses the humor. But that is just the way they go sometimes. Thanks for being a good sport. I got so many more that I am looking forward to. Thanks to both you and Jessi for 'encouraging' me to do this.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Today I woke up with some pretty sore shins. Sore to even walk on but they seemed a bit more irritated when I would tun on the ball of my foot. This has been something that I have struggled with quite a bit in all my triathlon seasons. Balancing the running intensity, volume, and frequency. I really don't mind running, but I only have so many days and hours per week before my 'running body' starts to fall apart. I can ride a 100 miles every day for a week and be fine, but if I run 3 days in a row, I am screwed.

Today I swam and rode the trainer. I ran into Jim and Claire in the pool. Jim was working with Claire and getting her more familiar with the water. I really adminre people who, at a mature age, (I consider this anything 25 and older) decide to take something on like this that takes them out of their comfort zone. What most people don't understand is that ALL of us at one time had to learn how to swim effeciently. It never really comes easy. It's something that you have to put in the time to do. Sometimes people pick it up quicker, but it always feels like you are trying to sign you name with the wrong hand for the first dozen times. And if you realize that you just are not menat to swim, there's always duathlon. So I felt luck to share lane with them.

Then I got home to see the Gallaghers at our hous setting up the bike for a little evening trainer ride. Now that is accountability. When you have people ready to ride, you are definitely more apt to ride yourself. We rode for quite a bit and watched a funny move. Natalie called it rude and crude, and Greg and I laughed the whole way through. I was even in the middle of some harder intervals and I still found myself laughing. That's pretty cool. They also brought over some lasagna that we devoured. What and unexpected gift this evening to share with some great people. Hard to believe that today I was able to get in about 2.5 hours of training and none of it really seemed like that much work.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Jan 22nd

Pretty standard day today. My body was a little tired form yesterday's run, but I was ale to still get a run in. I ran in the dark. Which is nothing new But this evening was a tad cool... I think it was about 12 degrees. My shins are pretty beat up right now after a bit too much hard running. I know Jessi will rub them because she likes to see how much pain it puts me in. But I think it's good. Not only for, but me too.

Rode a bit on the trainer too. Gotta say that I am really looking forward to getting out on the road again. Has not felt like I have been riding on the trainer all that much, but each day I am on it, is one more day too long. I'm looking forward to getting my new steed. Maybe I will be more motivated then.

Thanks for reading Tiffany. I know you are at least reading this. By the way, Tiffany brought home cooked "pulled pork" for lunch today. Though Tiffany made a special effort to offer me some, I did not get any since Jessi made my lunch for me. But I was wondering if there would be room. But I had left over Pad Thai and rice which I couldn't finish anyway

Monday, January 21, 2008

A new Direction

Not going to start with ‘I’m Back,’ because with Blogging I think you are only allowed to say that once. And I have already said it. Otherwise it just seems like a lame way of saying, “I am done procrastinating for a bit again.”

It’s hard to stay on top of this when you have a wife like I do that seems to be the blogging Queen. She does some pretty amazing things that communicates what is going on with our family quite well. So I am not going to try and top that or add to it. I am a guy, and I need one task… one topic… one that is easy for me to write about. Because if it’s not easy, I won’t do it. So what can I easily write about? Football. That’s right, I am going to give you all the highlights, my playoff picks, and the players that are making the biggest impact. Ya right. I would do better if I were to talk about business news in the Wall Street Journal. So what do I know most about? Probably me. But instead of talking about myself, I figure it will be more of little stories along the way through my triathlon season. Things that I think about during training, or even things that happen during training. Might even throw in some race reports and other interesting (at least to me) events that happen along the way.

So I will start this with some information about what has been going on lately to kind of ‘set the stage’ so to speak. Not a lot of detail here, just the facts to bring you up to speed… or for me to bring myself up to speed if I am the only one reading this.

1. This year I will be mainly racing Olympic distance races, so my training will reflect that.
2. Yes, I am signed up for IM Cda, but that does not mean I will race it.
3. Two major races will be ITU Worlds in mid June and USAT national Championships in September.
4. I received an offer to race for Team Timex. Yes, I accepted it.
5. I will be making a MAJOR change in my bike this year. More details on that later.
6. First big race of the season will more than likely be Wildflower in early May.
7. Training has resumed in full swing since mid January.

That’s it. I hope to be writing much more frequently, but not making any commitment to do so… just wanting to.