Can8ianben's Blog

This is a blog about me. I'm sure it will at some point talk about the things that I love... that being, my wife Meredith, family, friends, EMU, the Jays and baseball, the Maple Leafs, music, art, TV, biking, and whatever else is going on in my mind.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Top 10 things I will miss about Harrisonburg, VA

Meredith and I now have less than one calender month left here in Virginia (even less if you consider that for two weeks we will be out of town visiting family). I decided to write down what I'm going to miss the most about this tiny town in the Shenandoah Valley...

1. Community Mennonite Church - while I still run into people who don't know who I am and who ask if I'm visiting even though I've gone here for 4 plus years, this feels like my home congregation. I love my sunday school class, small group, the church softball team, the passion this church has for social justice and global issues, and the desire to continue to sing mostly hymns in four part harmony. Regardless of where I go from here, I will think back with fondness to this group.

2. Taste of Thai, Dave's, Calhoun's, Blue Nile, Jalisco's, Earth and Tea Cafe, Indian & American, and Saigon Cafe - Harrisonburg has a great selection of chain restaurants, but the restaurant scene in town is special because of the small, family owned, one-of-a-kind places you find. The above list includes Greek, Ethiopian, Mexican, Indian/Nepalize, and Vietnamese and that makes me very happy. I am now going to have to scour the greater LA area to try and find something comparable to these wonderful places. You know you have eaten at a place long enough where you can state your favourite meal on their menu. In order of above: Chefs Special Chicken, Taverna Burger and Mozzarella Salad, Lunch buffet, Guadalahara Special, Pita Platter, Chicken Saag, Mushroom Clay Pot.

3. East Coast Bicycle Academy and Shenandoah Bicycle Company - my two bike shops. One is right around the corner, and the other is right downtown. These places both have people who are passionate not only about bikes, but about getting people to enjoy riding the bikes that they already own. I assume that the existance of each of these places is less about making a profit and more about getting people to ride their bikes and that is an amazing quality. I will remember them for fixing my bikes, but also for supporting the local Alley Cat rides, and existing as a place for people to hang out and talk about bikes.

4. Wednesday Night Club Ride - I'm going to miss that at 5:15 pm every Wednesday night from the time change to the time change, a group bike ride is leaving from the high school. I'm sure I'll eventually find a place to ride in Pasadena, but this group made it very easy to have an excuse to get out and ride 20 to 30 miles a week.

5. Harrisonburg AlleyCat Races - having attended the first 10 AlleyCat races without missing a single one, this is going to be a sad thing to leave behind. This weekend is the final event I will be attending and I can't wait. There is something so invigorating about flying around town on a bicycle scavenger hunt race that is costume themed. Highlights definitely include all of the great prizes I have won, but the most memorable things are the after party scenes where the winner and DFL prizes are handed out. Great times.

6. Skyline Drive, Reddish Knob, Switzer Dam, Blue Hole, etc - Harrisonburg and the surrounding area is home to some amazing geographical locations. I can now say that in my 6 years of living in Harrisonburg I really didn't take advantage enough of the great hiking, climbing, camping, and caving opportunities that you can find here. Nature is here and is very much in the palm of your hand. The experiences I had were great, if only too few.

7. Eastern Mennonite University - my alma mater and former employer. In a town with a large state university, it is the small private one that steals my heart. I still know many of the students and most of the faculty and staff. I'm sure that the longer I am away, the more this will change, but EMU will always hold a very special place in my heart. This is the reason I ended up in H'burg and the reason that I will continue to return to visit. I'm sure that I will always look to this tiny liberal arts university with pride as it continues to grow and evolve. I'm an admissions counselor for life, even if I'm no longer on payroll :)

8. Proximity to Charlottesville and Washington DC - Harrisonburg sits in a great location. Pretty much any touring sporting event, cultural event, or music event happens within 2-3 hours of here. I'll miss heading up to DC to cheer for the Maple Leafs when they visit the Capitals, or to Charlottesville for some show at Satellite Ballroom. It seems like there is always something to do in town, but if there isn't, you can bet that there is something to do in one of these places.

9. House Shows - Ben Schlabach introduced me to the incredible music scene in Harrisonburg. From Blue Grass to Hardcore, most music styles are represented in some way, and typicially concerts are held in small venues or even in someone's home. My suite at EMU even hosted a concert back in the day which was an amazing time. There is something very intimate and personal about an artist performing in a tiny place with little air movement. That is when a true concert is born.

10. The people - as Meredith has begun to look for a job, people have already told her that the people here are much more friendly than what you will find on the west coast. I'm sure that may be some east coast bias happening, but once you get south of the mason dixon line it seems that people seem to warm up a little bit. Harrisonburg is the friendly city and I've expereinced that in many different ways; from the downtown farmers market, to the Harrisonburg Turks games, to the Little Grill, to the charitable organizations seemingly popping up every day, this is a place where people want to interact with people. What has made this place so special for me are the friends that I have met along the way. Mostly through EMU, but in other areas as well. The nature of this town is that people are always moving away and moving back, but that's what makes it feel so alive. It is going to be a very different place when I come back to visit, but it's still going to have a quality that seems to remain.

Harrisonburg, I will miss you - bring on Pasadena.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

the grandest of the grand

Looks like the ink is dry on the album cover for GRAND:PM's newest release. If you live in Canada, pick up a copy at a record store near you very shortly.