Just a quick one today, since there's absolutely nothing of substance to write about in the racing world. The biggest news in that realm is that there is no news, and with two weekends off I'll admit that it's already feeling pretty weird. Like, certainly we go to Vegas this weekend right? Nope. Weird...

This incredible stretch of non-stop racing had us all in need of some R & R, and I'm no exception to that statement at all, but the hardest part for this blog writer was something we saw coming miles away. My travel schedule and Barb's travel schedule looked like something cooked up by an evil monster, with us coming and going and just missing each other for long stretches of time. Tomorrow, that ends for a little while!

Barbara has been doing all things Minnesota for a few days, using that as her decompression chamber after another long and tough trip over to Europe. This one featured Amsterdam for a few days, and then a trip over to France to the little village of Poitiers, to visit one of Itron's plants. The travel was hectic and full of long work days, but she said Poitiers was officially and wonderfully quaint, and I'll include a couple of pics today that prove that. There's one that was taken inside a little bistro, and my immediate response to seeing that was "Ha! A little French bistro that's actually a real French bistro, in France and everything, and not some place in California made up to look like a French bistro!"

So anyway, bistros aside, Barbara will be home tomorrow evening, and it will be the first time we've seen each other since, well, a long time ago. Hang on while I look at a calendar (talk amongst yourselves...) Hmmm. To be honest, I'm not really sure because I don't have all of her travel on my calendar but it was in middle to late September, and I do know that we haven't seen each other more than two or three days in the last six weeks! Crazy...

Like I said, we saw this coming way before it all hit us, and all we could do was put our heads down and get through it, but it hasn't been an easy deal and it's going to be so nice to be somewhat normal again, or as normal as we can be. She's still dealing with jet lag a little, but it's almost behind her.

My sleep patterns have really been messed up since I got home from Reading, and all I can figure is that the prescription I'm taking right now (and by the way, I'm feeling much better) might make me a little tired, and if you combine that with the fact it's just me and da boyz here, without Barb, I find it hard to stay up past 9:00 at night. That's really weird for me, because I'm a natural night person and late sleeper.

On a totally different subject, I want you to prepare yourselves for this next segment by humming the tune "Here comes the bride..." Really, go ahead and do that. And I present to you, Mr. and Mrs. Brandon Lavely!

Brandon and his adorable fiance are engaged no more, and are now husband and wife. They had a small little ceremony in Springfield, attended by a certain Funny Car driver, his wife, and other close friends, and then a fun reception (by the looks of the photos Krista sent me) that had a decided cowboy theme to it.

Dannielle goes by Dani, and she made a stunningly beautiful bride, as I knew she would.

Congratulations to Brandon and Dani! And now you can understand why nobody was more worried about a full postponement of another race than he was.

And speaking of weddings, we'll be headed back to Springfield ourselves in late November, when Daniel Wilkerson and Brianna Bressan tie the knot. We're looking forward to that.

Back to the subject of too much travel, it hit me yesterday how I could quantify and illustrate how nutty it's been. This was Week 6 of the NFL season, and yesterday was the first day I've had the chance to sit on the sofa and watch some games on TV. First time. Amazing. I spent much of the afternoon watching the NFL Red Zone channel for the first time ever, and that deal is so fast-paced it will make you dizzy, as they keep track of all the games going on, switching back and forth in rapid-fire style to try to catch all the big plays. They sometimes have as many as four screens going at once, and it can all be confusing at first, but by the end of the day I really did feel like I'd seen about seven full games. I bet the control room in that studio is a zoo.

And with it being October, there's playoff baseball on the tube as well, so I've been watching as many of those games as I can. The Cardinals are in my DNA, so there's no question where I stand on that playoff series, although I'll happily admit that I have a great deal of respect for the Giants and no reason to actively root against them (other than I'm the son of a Cardinal, in this match-up). On the American League side, I've always rooted against the Yankees, and I played minor league ball for the Tigers, so that's an easy one.

On Facebook the other day, I posted a photo of Justin Verlander and me, from when he came to a race a few years back and hung out with our team for a day, with his mom, dad, and brother. My caption was something along the lines of "This is why, going forward through the ALCS, I will be rooting for the Tigers. Reason 1: They're playing the Yankees. Reason 2: Ever see Jeter or A-Rod hang out at the drag races with Team Wilkerson? Me neither."

For the record, that Facebook post happened way before Derek Jeter got hurt, so it was not in bad taste at the time. And you gotta hand it to Yankees fans. They know everyone else roots against them, and they don't care. I'd go so far as to say they like it that way.

And we're all getting ready for a great NHL season to get started, right? Oh. Never mind. If the hockey owners let this lock-out cost any significant portion of the season (and they will) they might finally figure out that the fans won't forgive them as readily as last time. I'm definitely on the players' side in this one. They're not on strike, they're locked out. They want to play, and they're willing to rework the last agreement even though it means giving money back to the owners. But, the owners want more. A bunch of stupidly rich guys who can't agree on how to divvy up billions of dollars. Sounds like I'm going to be watching a lot of junior hockey this winter. Go Spokane Chiefs!!!!

I was reading the paper yesterday, about our Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League, and boy it reminded me of my minor league baseball days. On Friday they lost to the Kamloops Blazers in British Columbia, and on Saturday night they beat the Vancouver Giants. In Vancouver, which is just about four hours from Kamloops? That would make perfect sense, right, to play two games in B.C. while you're there. But nope, they played Vancouver back in Spokane! They got on the bus around 10:30 on Friday night and arrived back at the Spokane Arena at around 6:00 a.m., then played that night. Been there, done that, usually lost. Good for them to put the travel aside and win the game. They're young. They bounce right back.

Worst minor league bus trip for me? Finishing up a long road trip in Victoria, B.C. and then heading back to Medford, Ore. where we were to play the next night. That trip starts with a slow ferry boat ride before you even begin the trip down I-5 from Canada, and in total it took us about 15 hours on our ancient bus. We got back to Medford just in time to get a bite to eat and then play. We got creamed.

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A real French bistro. Actually in France. Cool!
And to wrap this up, I bet you can all guess the single subject I get the most emails about and requests for on this blog, for all these many years. Yep, that would be Boofus and Buster. And it's not even close.

Therefore, I shall endeavor to share with you photographic evidence of a new game Boofus developed, wherein he sits in my office window, behind the slatted shades, and pokes his paws through the slats to bonk his big brother on the nose. Endless fun...

And this weekend, the sprinkler systems gets blown out and winterized here. Winterized. That's the key word.

As long as it took for summer to actually arrive (I recall putting pics of snow on the hilltops on this blog, last June) everyone told us "When summer gets here, it gets here 100 percent and it's sunny every day." They were right. Sitting out in this arid part of eastern Washington, Spokane seems to be almost immune to rain from mid-June to mid-October and the days become a blur of sunny, sunny, sunny.

And then on Saturday (October 13, for the record) the clouds arrived and bam, it's over. Low leaden clouds, that scud along the tops of the hills and mountains. We're still in the 50s during the day, but we're getting down into the 30s at night now. The furnace runs at night, and I've got all the vents switched around in the house so that the hot air goes to the bottom and works its way up. Winterized... Here we go...

Wilber, out!