Mr. Whippy and the Flake

July 10, 2012

Mr. Whippy and the Flake are not alternative lifestyle 1950s neighbors to Dick Van Dyke.  They are also not the names of the iceberg characters in Elf.  Mr. Whippy is a swirly ice cream cone and the Flake is the kit-kat like cocoa stick that is stuffed into it.  And it not only makes for a jazzy blog title it is one of the best ice cream cones around.

This past week my family and I took a vacation in Europe.  I know these blogs are supposed to have some running theme running through them so I’ll give that a go.  But mostly I thought I’d capture some of the signature highlights of the week.

“Sign Boy” – do you ever wonder who those people are that stand for hours at the airport with various names on signs on them?  What if they really just had nothing else to do and decided “today, I’ll make a sign that says Wilson and go stand around the airport for a few hours to kill some time”.  Well, that was me.  Sign boy.  But I was official.  Legit.  My sign read “Welcome to London, [my last name] Family!”.  Of course I did get to the airport a bit earlier than planned so it was kind of like being the loser Wilson sign boy as I stood there for a couple of hours with it.  But I did meet some nice red-coated bus drivers.  Maybe that will come in handy someday.  Not.  And I learned that the way they kill time is to make fun of the stupid Americans who look lost coming through the tunnel.  I shouldn’t have joined in but I couldn’t help myself.  We bonded over this fun.  Next life, tour bus driver.  Finally, my family arrives and the adventure begins.

“Fish and Chips” – what do you think of when you think London or the UK?  Big Ben?  Parliament?  London Eye?  I think of Fish and Chips.  And guess what meal I encourage my son to partake in that first night.  Yep.  These things are so big they fold over either end of the plate as they sit on top of a pile of hand cut french fries.  He ate about a quarter of it.  It was Friday so what it reminded me of was good old Wisconsin and their famous Friday Night Fish Fry just a bit bigger and 4000 miles away.

“Moko.  Rhymes with Cocoa.” – we took a Eurostar train over to Paris from London.  It only takes about 2 1/2 hours to get there door to door.  I have many, many things to say about Paris (“a different breed of rude” was one Londoner’s description of the local Paris folks).  I’d say it was about 75/25 rude to not rude in my opinion including the gray-haired mustache wearing Frenchie waitor who took about 15 minutes to finally arrive at our table and then only doing so reluctantly.  He fit the mold.  Two top things from Paris on my list.  First, let me tell you that the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays.  That is just plain stupid.  But no Mona Lisa means let’s do what a Parisian would do.  We stop and buy a bottle of wine and go sit in the park on a sunny day under the Eiffel Tower.  Some of you probably saw those posts on Facebook.  It really was as good as it looked.  So the Louvre actually did me a favor.  Second top thing from Paris was the first full day we were there.  Under sunny skies and given our kids are now old enough to try just about anything we went on a guided Paris Segway tour.  We pretty much saw all the sights over about 3 hours riding around and stopping here and there to hear our New Zealand guide named Moko (“It rhymes with cocoa” he tell us.  What?) describe the Paris sights.  He did say he’d been there awhile so maybe he did know something but who cared.  He was a very funny Spicoli kind of guy and made for a great day.  We didn’t get run over and only hit (bumped) one person.  I won’t say who did it but it wasn’t me.  We just zipped away quickly.  No time for jail or lawsuits.  Toughen up kid.

“Rachel McAdams is Stalking Us” – I sometimes think I am a celebrity magnet (in my own mind).  I run into all sorts of top athletes, models, actors.  Tiger Woods, John Madden, Miss World (Venezuela), Bart Starr, Don Majkowski, Ned Beatty (queue the music) and many more.  This trip it was Rachel McAdams (star from Wedding Crashers, The Notebook, Mean Girls, Sherlock Holmes, Midnight in Paris, etc.).  The first night of the fish fry we happened upon her shooting a scene for next year’s movie About Time.  We were like 10 feet away and pretty much just walked right on into the scene, almost.  We stayed to watch it and then went off to eat.  So then a week later and half way across town and as we’re walking to the park up Abbey Road, guess who’s shooting another scene?  She was shooting it right on the famous Abbey Road cross walk and again we just randomly walked right on up again.  We even took a picture in the road minutes before Action!  We talk to the security guy for a while and he says all the major films were trying to finish things up before the Olympic madness comes to town.  He has the job.  He’s done War Horse, Batman and after this shoot Fast and Furious 6.  He said one of his most amazing moments was when he was doing security and he was down in the man-made bunkers in War Horse.  When he looked over the edge all he sees are the thousands of extras (Germans) coming his way.  “It kind of freaked me out” was his comment in his best northern England accent.  It is amazing how many people it took to set up the one Rachel cross walk scene that takes less than a minute.  When they were done we walked on over and this time walked right on by her, inches away.  She looked at me.  I looked at her.  And then we walked on.  She’s probably blogging or tweeting about it right now as we speak.

Running Update:  There are a million more stories from this trip but no one reads pages of blogs.  A page maybe.  Pages no.  I even wrote up short notes on our iPad to try to remind myself of all the things we saw and did and it covers four pages.  I’ll have to save those stories for later.  As for running, this was week 1 of the Savannah Marathon training.  I’d say it kicked off in style with my first run being down the Champs-Elysees (pronounced Chomp E Lee Say I’m told).  Then my second run being within a short distance of Roland Garros.  And a fifth (of five) being down Abbey Road again.  I am still recovering a bit from surgery but the running has begun; just not in earnest as yet.  Slow and steady.

It was a great trip and I highly recommend it to anyone.  When your kids are 14 and 12 and you can kind of quarantine them from cell phones, e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, etc. for a week and actually talk to each other there is nothing better.

Only 33 months and 26.2 miles to go…