September 4th, 2002

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Family Reunion

Every Labor Day weekend, my family has a family reunion, so I always think "family" when I think of Labor Day. This year, my wife's family had a get-together, too, so we skipped the reunion on my side of the family and went to Darlington, South Carolina to visit aunts, uncles, and cousins. I really enjoyed it -- we don't get to visit with some of my wife's family as often as either of us would like, so this weekend was a great time. We got up Saturday morning and had a nice drive to South Carolina. My wife did the actual driving and I got to hold a freshly-baked pound cake that smelled really good. After my tough weekend the week before, I was really glad not to be driving.

Listening to "Car Talk" on the way down was a hoot. One of the callers called in from Alaska with a question about how to exercise her dog team during the months where there is no snow and, thus, you can't have them pull a sled. She had a new ATV of some sort and was planning to hook the team to it. She wondered if it would be better to keep the vehicle in neutral (which she thought would be very hard on the brakes) or put it in a gear (which she feared might be tough on the engine) while the team pulled it. By the time the call was over, I think everyone agreed to attach some sort of blade to the back of the vehicle and start grading new roads, using the blade as a means of resistance for the dogs and a way to create new roads. It was one of the best "Car Talk" calls I've ever heard.

The get-together at my wife's aunt's house was great. Everyone who was planning show up did and we had some great food and some great visiting. It was pretty rainy everywhere between home and South Carolina, which only put a slight damper on things. And we certainly need the rain, so no one's complaining.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Family's important. Cherish and cultivate the family relationships you have.
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Mountain Dew Southern 500

Well, Jeff Gordon won the Mountain Dew Southern 500 this weekend. That makes two in a row now. And that stinks. I liked it a lot better when Jeff was on a winless streak.

But the cool thing about this year's Mountain Dew Southern 500 was that I was there! That makes two NASCAR races in as many months for me this year. It also is the only other NASCAR race I've been to besides the Brickyard 400, which I've been to for nine straight years now.

We were in Darlington for my wife's family reunion and decided to go to the race on Sunday. Well, some of us -- my wife, her dad, and I did. My wife's uncle works for a company that has connections at the track and was able to get us a really good parking spot. We literally drove from his house to the track via roads that didn't incur traffic and pulled up a few hundred feet away from the grandstand entrance and parked. It made us all feel like VIPs. The race itself was rain-delayed, but once it started, it ran without interruption for rain. We were in seats about 15 feet from the track in the exit of turn 4. When we left, we had rubber and asphalt flecks that had been kicked up from the track all over us. It was loads and loads of fun.

The seats were great and it looked like most of the seats in the facility had a good view of the track. I'm sure we'll probably be going to races in Darlington in the future.
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