Eric + Logan
 We really did it! We're married!
Sam Kavanagh - Cycling Road and Track
Wednesday, 08/29/2012 through Friday, 09/07/2012.
Piggybacked Personal Vacation
Friday, 09/07/2012 through Thursday, 09/13/2012.
Day 1 - E+L on 08/29/2012 in Seattle, WA
It's 4:30am. Eric just dropped Logan's parents off at the airport for their 6:00am flight. Everyone is pretty excited for the trip and we have finished booking all of our extra flights, train tickets, and hotels for our little extended personal trip afterwards. We'll be updating this page frequently throughout the trip.
Day 2 - E+L on 08/30/2012 in London, UK
We arrived in London on Thursday at Noon after leaving Seattle Wednesday night after work. The flight was long but we watched a few movies and relaxed with a drink (Eric) and dinner; didn't get much sleep. We were the last of the Kavanagh 11 to arrive at the house in Camden and hiked up to our bedroom on the fifth floor. Our house is 180 years old but newly redone and in a fantastic location in London so it's perfect.
We were exhausted, mostly preggo Loie, but just heard from the family that Sam was going to meet up with us at the mall inside the Olympic Park. We grabbed some pints and cappuccinos at a Brazilian restaurant and even managed to break a 20oz bottle of hot sauce while jimmying tables into place; typical Americans, right? What a wonderful surprise it was to see Sam as we really weren't sure if we'd ever be able see him in person; we thought it might be like going to someone's wedding where you only get to see them for seconds. The overwhelming feelings of emotion and excitement had officially begun!
Sam hugged everyone goodbye and returned to the Olympic Village for a restful night. We headed back on the train to hit up our first pub of the trip. After a few pints, fish and chips, and sausages and mash, we headed home for a long night of sleep before the first big race.
Pictures of Paralympics - Day 2 - London, UK
Day 3 - E+L on 08/31/2012 in London, UK
Race Day 1! We woke up a little late (the stereotypically seeming mistake of setting the alarm for PM instead of AM that no one actually ever does) but it was some much needed rest. We had a quick bite and after grabbing a handful of USA flags, TravelCards, and Olympic Park tickets, we headed out the door to the Overground towards the Olympic Park. After stopping by the Olympic store for some souvenirs and a quick lunch of tacos and nachos from one of the many food stands, we continued our trek into the Velodrome. It was busy and very hot inside! We immediately spotted Sam in the middle of the track warming up so we waved our flags and shouted. He couldn't have ignored us if he tried so gave us an acknowledging smile. Sam was the 10th athlete to race in the C4 C5 Men's Individual 1km Time Trial and finished 15th out of 22. The 11 of us had seats spread out over the entire Velodrome but managed to poach empty seats to sit together. It was wonderful to finally see Sam's first race and cheer him on.
We took the Overground train back towards our neighborhood stopping by the Elephant's Head pub for some post-race pints. In passing, we saw a billboard in the heart of Camden showing that Two Door Cinema Club had a new album out on 09/03/2012 and after discovering their London shows were sold out, bought tickets for the Seattle show in October. We all headed home and spent the rest of the night discussing the day's events over beer, wine, cheese, bread, and crackers. Lo and I ventured out alone past the Camden Lock area afterwards noticing that the same crazy street merchants had vanished and in their place, nightlife and pubs had appeared. We grabbed a pizza and some pasta at La Porchetta Pizzeria and enjoyed the remainder of the pleasant evening together.
Pictures of Paralympics - Day 3 - London, UK
Day 4 - E+L on 09/01/2012 in London, UK
Up at 6:15am this morning. After some instant coffee for Eric :-) and beet juice for Logan :-(, granola, and pastries, we were back in the park for the Men's Individual C4 Pursuit 4km in length at 16 laps. Sam was in the 4th heat out of 7 with the beginning racers setting a pretty competitive pace. His turn was up and after a smooth start was quickly in 2nd place. Just before the 7th lap, he overtook 1st. We were all screaming, crying, and clapping as loud as can be the entire time through to the finish as Sam was faster than everyone before him. After all the competitors, he settled to 7th but it still felt like he got the gold.
We left the park with the McEwans for some fantastically negotiated Indian cuisine on Brick Lane; 25% off including 2 free beers or wine per person; thanks PJ. We continued onto the Themes crossing at the Millennium bridge. Some napped at home while others staggered back to the pub. We ordered a pile of pizzas for supper and were anxious for following day's next trip to the Velodrome for the Mixed C1-C5 Team Sprint.
Pictures of Paralympics - Day 4 - London, UK
Day 5 - E+L on 09/02/2012 in London, UK
We were off to the park once again and we got into the Velodrome early enough to watch many of the Individual B Pursuit races. Two teams start out at the same time next to each other with each team consisting of two riders on one tandem bike. The lead rider steers and is able bodied while the back rider is vision impaired. This race is the exact opposite of the time trial we had previously spectated as there is much more strategy with less of an all out sprint. Riders start out as slow as possible without tipping the bikes and with constant testing and intimidation of each other. We watched in disbelief as the Spanish team twice dove from up high surpassing the Greek team.
Sam's race in the Mixed C1 to 5 Team Sprint Qualifications was up next with Team USA composed of three riders; Joe Berenyi, Jennifer Schuble, and Sam Kavanagh. They all start at once together with Jennifer in the lead. After the first lap, Jennifer drops off and it's up to Sam to let Joe draft and pull him up to speed so that by the end of the second lap, when Sam drops off, Joe is at full speed and sprints to the end. Sam, and his team, again took first place and we were all ecstatic. By the end of qualifications, Team USA had slipped into third place out of 10 teams so this meant that they had a chance at Bronze vs the Czech team in fourth during the finals later in the afternoon.
After some phad thai, chicken skewers, a pint, and some spectation of an automatic chocolate carving machine, we were headed back in for the Team Sprint finals. Eric secretly, and to much enjoyment of all of the family, discarded his hole riddled shirt for a shiny new Paralympics 2012 tee. This time we had nine seats together in row two; perfect for the finals. We get to the row and see that five of our nine seats were occupied by some rude people with five Pound paper printed tickets as opposed to our official 45 Pound hologram tickets. After 45 minute kerfuffle, we were reseated in some fourth row seats on the other side of the stadium which happened to be directly in front of the start-finish line so it worked out for the best. After confirming with Sara that Eric could scream as loud as he wanted to without distracting Sam nor the other riders, the anticipation grew. Team USA's race was a blowout as they were over a full second ahead after the first lap; 1.7 seconds ahead after two. They had won a bronze and there wasn't a dry eye in the family. Sam did a few victory-cooldown laps and when making eye contact with us, shook his fist and cheered. We screamed and waved our hats in response to their accomplishment.
We watched the medal ceremony and went outside to wait for a chance for Sam to appear outside. As we were cooling down and discussing the days events, Eric saw Sam coming from around the Velodrome, turned towards the family, pointed and shouted, "Hey family...look THAT way!". There were hugs, high-fives, tears, pictures, and medal unveiling. We met two other USA riders, Greta Neimanas and Clark Rachfal, and agreed to meet them and their families in Tottenham Court after we went to The Edinboro Castle for burgers, couscous, chicken, and pints. It was a good day and Sammy rode hard.
Pictures of Paralympics - Day 5 - London, UK
Pictures of Paralympics - Day 5 - Jackson McEwan - London, UK
Day 6 - E+L on 09/03/2012 in London, UK
Our first day off. With more time and less of a schedule, we split up into three groups with some heading to central London while Logan and I went for Mexican in Leicester Square at La Bodega Negra. We stopped by Metia Limited to make sure all of the UK employees were pulling their own weight. After a snack of espresso, Tarte Citron, and Strawberry something, we headed home. We got word that Sam was going to be stopping by the house around 5:30pm but needed to get back for his 9:00pm massage. All 12 of us sat around the kitchen table for a couple of hours fighting for a chance to ask Sam a question. He helped us understand some of the intricacies of his races and broke-down many strategic unknowns regarding the B Pursuit. During a lull in the conversation, we took the opportunity to unveil to Sam our dubbed over version of Buddy Guy's Mustang Sally to the tune of "...ride around Sammy, ride, Sammy, ride...". We all had a good laugh and headed back to The Edinboro Castle for dinner as their outside area had plenty of seating to easily accommodate us all. Most of us went for the pork and chorizo burger this time around and left Sara to walk Sam back to the Underground.
Pictures of Paralympics - Day 6 - London, UK
Day 7 - E+L on 09/04/2012 in London, UK
After a breakfast of instant coffee, granola, and hard boiled eggs, we all headed South on the Underground Northern Line to Waterloo Station. We walked along the Themes eyeing shops as they opened and a dedicated sandcastle builder accepting donations. Some of us again crossed the Millennium Bridge while others enjoyed the Tate Modern Museum and some morning espresso. We regrouped and continued onto the Borough Market. While not as busy as on the weekend, the food vendors were in out in full force. Logan and I grabbed some Chorizo Paella and a Chicken Wrap for lunch and we all headed home for a rest. After a few hours of drinking steadily while eating our weight in crackers, bread, various aged cheddars, and the spiciest English Mustard yet, we headed to Trattoria Lucca Italian. We were sat in a back room without any other guests where we couldn't offend anyone with our American rudeness. The avocado au gratin, stuffed mushrooms, lasagne, risotto, sage butter ravioli were divine. We got home and went to bed early as tomorrow would be our first trip out to Brands Hatch for the cycling road events.
Pictures of Paralympics - Day 7 - London, UK
Day 8 - E+L on 09/05/2012 in London, UK
Undergrounds and National Rails and Shuttle Buses; oh my! We were finally out of the city, officially in Kent county, and even though the high was 70 degrees, there wasn't a cloud in the sky and that sun was brutal! After Eric got it though his thick head that this was Paralympic Cycling and not Formula One, we headed to security. The McEwans made it through with their aerosolized sunscreen and PJ's resulting sunscreen conversation with a security agent was as follows:
Security: "You can't bring this in but you can take it back to your car."
PJ: "We didn't take a car. Can I leave it here and get it on the way back?"
Security: "No."
PJ: "Can I throw it in the grass back on the other side?"
Security: "No."
PJ: "Can I take it back and let other people use it?"
Security: "Not without going back through security."
PJ: "Can I give it to you to take back to let other people use it?"
Security: "Yes."
The Road Cycling Men's Individual Time Trial was a staggered start over with Sam taking off 30 minutes from the start. With each lap, Sam was middle of the racers and better finally finishing 7th out of 14th. Sam was able to meet up with us spectators and was well received by family and friends. He was a bit disappointed with his performance but was still in high spirits. We hugged him and wished him well for the next day's even longer race and watched the afternoon's events.
Dave and Clark of the Tandem B event finished in the middle of the pack, Greta took 4th, while Joe took home a Silver. We caught the trio of public transportation back to London and found a pub with 2 for 1 meals for 9 pounds 95. A couple of Massage for Charity ladies worked each of the family over after tossing them some coins. With rare burgers, sticky toffee pudding and crème brulee, we headed home for an early slumber in anticipation of an earlier morning tomorrow.
Pictures of Paralympics - Day 8 - London, UK
Day 9 - E+L on 09/06/2012 in London, UK
Again to Brands Hatch for our 2nd day of events, we arrived a bit earlier to assure good seats in smaller grandstands section. With the sunscreen (liquid) generously applied, we awaited the start of the Men's C4 and C5 Road Race 80km. With 33 riders and 50 miles, Sam knew this was going to be a long race but he knew we were all behind him.
Sam was riding around a bit going hither and thither just before the start of the race. Come to find out, Sam's bike's official weigh-in weight was 6.68kg instead of the minimum 6.8kg required. He rode everywhere asking for coins and plumb-bobs to legally tape to and shove inside of his bike to get it up to the required weight. After repeatedly doing this including three weigh-ins, he was finally cleared and pre-raced to the starting line and into place 15 seconds before the start.
There were some random breakaways of one or two for the first half of the race but the pack would always regroup. Sam looked good and didn't seem too tired. We cheered from the crowd in the stands and in single file from the back stretch. He kept in the middle to front of the 2nd group until the 8th lap as we would find out that another rider accidentally hit him from the back. This collision damaged his ability to correctly shift gears and even after fixing it in less than two minutes, his hopes of a medal placement were crushed. During the last lap, while coming through back stretch, Sam reached out his arm giving us a wave and a smile. We cheered him on as best as we could with Eric resisting all temptation to hand him his beer in the absence of a cup of water. He stuck with the back group of 3 other riders and completed the race to the best of his ability finishing 22nd ahead of nine other riders that were unable to finish.
Back to Camden market for a diversity of lunch options. The very kind Indian vendor sold many of us her array of seven curries and pickle to top. We again split up to the crap market and pub. Again to the house anxiously awaiting the answer to Sam's return to inform us of the day's events.
Sam arrived to the house and we all started screaming like 12 year old girls at a Beatles rock show. After every combination of people in a picture with Sam including a roped in passerby taking a full family shot, we again sat in awe during Sam's day's debriefing. At some point towards the end of the report, the questions, "When is the last time you ate; are you starving?" was replied to with a simple, "This is helping." from Sam referring to the beer in his hand and the Sweet Chili Kettle Chip crumbs stuck to his lower lip.
We tried a pub for dinner but it was packed to the brim so some stayed for a pint, some left for more beer and wine at the store, while the rest ordered pizzas for take out. Back at home, we again sat around the table finally convincing Sam to stay the night. With the early morning cab rides confirmed and itineraries checked, it was off to bed for all 12 of us.
Pictures of Paralympics - Day 9 - London, UK
Day 10 - E+L on 09/07/2012 in London, UK to Edinburgh, UK
We awoke in time to leave the house with Sam, the McEwans, and Tim; Bill and Kristin having successfully arrived at the airport as no one received any panicked phone calls nor texts. We hurriedly said our goodbyes as we realized we needed to walk to the Camden Town Underground stop, two stops to Kings Cross, up into the station to fetch our National Rail train tickets, back down into the Underground, back the way we came one stop to Euston, then up and out into the rail station and our awaiting train, all in 45 minutes with all of our luggage. We hustled and were able to print our tickets quickly so we ended up being about 20 minutes early for the train.
On the way to Scotland, an announcement came over the speaker praising Dan and his 12 friends for his upcoming wedding in Edinburgh. The gentleman told Dan, "When entering the church on the day of her wedding, a bride remembers three things; the aisle she walks down, the alter she'll stand at, and the hymn that will be played. Aisle, alter, and hymn. Aisle alter hymn.". A bit later in the trip, the train was temporarily stopped and the same man from the loudspeaker came walking through checking tickets and stopped by our seats. He was full of jokes about his wife; he loves his wife very much and how much he misses her when he's away from work in London but that she looks better from London; how she used to me a model, a shrapnel model; and how he has a soft spot for her, a swamp in the bottom of their garden.
Logan enjoyed her full English breakfast as Eric daintily ate his salmon and eggs. Lunch was a greek salad and a ham and swiss baguette with a few dollops of some of the previously mentioned English mustard. We snoozed a bit and watched the lovely countryside drift by. The train was about 1 hour delayed from a track circuit failure and an overbooking of wheelchairs and bicycles on the train; it was okay because of the first class.
We pulled into Waverley station and walked the few short blocks to our hotel; finally, a king size bed. We walked up and down Leith street soaking up some of the less flashy culture and settled in for an Italian log fired pizza restaurant, La Favorita. After Bruschetta Tartufata (mushrooms with truffle oil smothered on bread) and Arancini di Riso alla Siciliana (fried balls of rice, mincemeat, tomatoes, and mozzarella), our spicy pizzas were fantastic. I washed my meal down with a couple of pints of Innis and Gunn Ale. On our way back to the hotel for an early night in for much needed sleep, we walked by the largest collection of antique thimbles we had ever laid eyes on.
Pictures of Paralympics - Day 10 - London & Edinburgh, UK
Day 11 - E+L on 09/08/2012 in Edinburgh, UK
It was off down Leith street again, this time all the way to the sea. We went to Mimi's Bakehouse for the best scone with clotted cream and full Scottish breakfasts we ever tasted. We walked along a the water for quite a while stopping by a shopping center for a five-a-day smoothie for Logan and even found an O2 store with a 10 Pound SIM card including 300 text messages and 500MB of data for the remainder of our trip.
Most of our walk was quite industrious including several metal recycling facilities until we finally found ourselves walking along a boardwalk on the beach in the Portabello and Joppa areas. We stopped in for some nuts and pints at the Dalriada; a castley-looking pub on the ocean with a pleasant seating area of benches and picnic tables out front with a direct view of the water. We continued on our walk turning West to swing by St. Margaret's Loch in Holyrood Park. We stared up at the menacing rocky terrain above us and knew we wanted to do a bit of hiking but that would have to wait until the morning as we were on a mission for dinner at The Holyrood 9A; Great Beers, Great Burgers. Our starters were rump sticks and caprese followed by a guacamole bacon cheeseburger and a spicy chili burger.
Several times this trip, we have asked if a restaurant had espresso. After a several second pause and look of confusion from the server, they always replied, "Yes.". When we then ordered either a cappuccino, americano, or machiato, they would then follow up with something like, "In addition to one espresso?". We, Americans, think of espresso as the collection of all of the pressurized coffee with steamed milk drinks whereas Europeans simply refer to them as coffee with espresso meaning one shot of coffee. Long story short; just assume they all have those drinks and simply order the one you want.
We were back at the hotel in minutes for some much needed rest. Our lounging and watching of the newer Charlie and the Chocolate Factory turned into another early bedtime as we were both quite tired from the estimated 14 miles we walked on foot.
Pictures of Paralympics - Day 11 - Edinburgh, UK
Day 12 - E+L on 09/09/2012 in Edinburgh, UK
We left the room this morning for some quick coffee and croissants then back to Holyrood Park to summit Arthur's Seat and walk below the Salisbury Crags. The views of Edinburgh were spectacular with city sprinkled in amongst ocean and grassy hills and fields beyond. It was a quick couple hours total and we were back to the hotel by Noon.
After quick showers and a change of clothes, we headed out for our full brunch at Toast passing residential neighborhoods and through The Meadows park. Logan had a smoothie, a tart, and a cheese and bacon filled croissant. Eric enjoyed a beer, a slice of carrot cake, and eggs benedict with pesto. We left quite satisfied and took a route that led us by the Edinburgh castle through the Grassmarket area. We passed some funky shops including a roast pork restaurant and caterer called Oink Oink. It caught Logan by surprise as passing it's front window put you face-to-face with cooked a pig head in the corner of the pork processing area.
After an afternoon nap from yet another long day of walking, we left for Caley's Sample Room. It was one large room of tables with the entrance along one of the long sides and the bar along the other. With a large variety of beers on tap and a large menu, Logan scored another ace on picking a fabulous restaurant. Some pita and antipasti, smothered steak, bangers and mash, and a lemon tart would finish us off for the day during our walk back in the dark. After Eric's cartoon-like trip and subsequent lower body catching up with his upper body and center of gravity, he found himself in the road that was luckily clear of vehicles. It wasn't so much the couple of pints with dinner, but the uneven paver stones that made up all of the sidewalks of Edinburgh; that was his fifth or so time tripping today alone.
Pictures of Paralympics - Day 12 - Edinburgh, UK
Day 13 - E+L on 09/10/2012 in Edinburgh, UK to Belfast, UK
Today was our flight to Belfast so it was off to the nearby Manna House for breakfast of croissants and coffee before the bus to the airport. It was a tiny plane with stingy luggage restrictions and nickel-and-dime menu of snacks and beverages. We couldn't complain as the flight itself was dirt cheap and less than an hour. We were a bit tired from all of our fun in Edinburgh so after checking into our hotel, we headed to a pub for some bread with tapenade and seafood chowder, then came back for a nap. Getting up a bit later than planned, we were reminded that dinner service ends early in Ireland. We headed to the hotel restaurant for nachos and salad then back to bed. Tomorrow would be a better day as a coworker's of Eric had just left the company to return home to Belfast and would be driving us up around the Norther coast.
Day 14 - E+L on 09/11/2012 in Belfast, UK
We stopped by a Cafe Nero then met Andy in front of our hotel for our the day's adventure. We would be taking the Causeway Coastal Route passing through Larne, Glenarm, Cushendall, Ballycastle, Bushmills, and Portsewart then returning via a more direct route of Dual Carriageways and Motorways back to Belfast. The pictures mostly speak for themselves but we started out casually stoping now and then randomly to check out quick views of the ocean bays and distant land in the background. We listened to a few quick stories of Andy growing up in Ireland, and even drove past the University he graduated from. I teased him for slipping back into his home accent, most specifically his usage of the word, "yous" like, "Yous two want to stop in here?". He also told us about how he's been finishing his sentences with the suffix, "so I am" like, "I'm ordering a cup of tea; so I am".
We stopped for a quick lunch of chicken goujons, lasagna, and Eric's surprisingly huge and fried chicken maryland (fried pineapple ring, fried half banana, fried half potato, fried chicken breast, fries, peas, and bacon slice). It was a consistently windy day but alternated frequently between nice and sunny vs rainy and cold. Crossing the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge was suggested by Andy and even though he was a bit hesitant, we all decided to go for it. Just as we stepped out onto the 20 meter long and 30 meter deep bridge, the wind really picked up. We made it across and onto the island just as the weather hit us hard including rain. It dumped and blew for the two minutes we were most exposed. At some point there was a helicopter hovering above us and we had no idea. We were all soaked from head to toe but managed to make it back over the bridge and to the car.
A few other stops including the Giant's Causeway were magnificent owing a lot to the strong winds resulting in larger than normal wave action. We had some tea and scones at The Nok and after hiking down to and back up from the causeway and grabbed dinner at The Wine Bar. It was more pints, mexican chicken, chicken pitta, beef penne, banoffee pie, and fruit cheesecake. It was a great meal and a fine ending to an exciting day. Andy dropped us off in Belfast and we wished him well thanking him for everything.
Pictures of Paralympics - Day 14 - Belfast, UK
Day 15 - E+L on 09/12/2012 in Belfast, UK
After our day in the country, it was time for a day in the city. We started walking South to the Queen's Quarter to Cafe Conor for some full Irish breakfasts. From here we walked back Northeast to the Titanic Quarter along the Lagan river via a nice boardwalk. We made it to the Titanic Museum and decided to give it a try. It was a bit uneventful but interesting none the less. The little ride was overrated but random facts about the difficulty of building a ship of this scale was fascinating. The video footage of the initial site wreckage discovery in 1985 and the timeline of messages to and from the ship during the accident were both quite revealing as well. We also went to the pump house which generated the power needed to operate the Titanic dry dock; opening and closing the massive door and emptying of and filling up with water.
We went back to the city center stopping by Kelly's Cellars (nabbing some Irish stew and a pint), Madden's, and McHugh's (oldest building in Belfast from 1711) checking on starting times for Traditional Irish Music Sessions and ending times for dinner. After a short break at the hotel, we returned to McHugh's for chicken cobbler, pork short rib, and crème brulee upstairs. Several folks around us were ordering their steaks, “on the rock” meaning it was served on a slab of volcanic rock heated to 430 degrees Celsius and were strictly warned to not touch the rock, not to add any sauces to the steak, and especially not to add any pepper to the steak less their eyes be smoked out into submission; more trouble than it was worth overall.
Downstairs in the pub, we sat near a group of three musicians that played a few traditional and beautiful songs along with a few that were more like a trio of jazz musicians jamming and following each other's leads. It was a pleasant and calming end to a busy and stereotypically touristy day.
Pictures of Paralympics - Day 15 - Belfast, UK
Day 16 - E+L on 09/13/2012 in Belfast, UK
Our final day in the UK. We slept in a bit and headed back to the same area as yesterday to breakfast at Maggie May's; a place we had seen on yesterday's walk. A scone with cream and jam, an omelet, and yet another full breakfast would fill our tummies for less than 12 Pounds! We exited the restaurant and headed east through the Botanical Gardens park towards the Lagan river. We turned North walking along the river about two miles. It was very serene and we only passed a handful of people the entire time. Because of the dark skies and lack of humans, Eric made the remark, “It feels like it is 6:00am.” even though it was half past Noon.
Back into the city center and with a quick check at the Kitchen Bar for their dinner and music hours, our dinner plans were solidified. We stopped by a juice bar for Logan's daily infusion of health and swung by the well known Crown Bar for a snack of tomato soup and skin on chips with mustard and mayo. Finally Eric's first pub in Ireland with cask ales and he promptly drank a pint of local pale ale and a Belfast Ale.
Pictures of Paralympics - Day 16 - Belfast, UK