Tripping into Fall via The Blue Ridge Parkway

brpblog

This is how western North Carolina does fall!

Not long ago, Miranda and I headed “out west” to see the fall foliage in the mountains.  We had an amazing time which included  Miranda’s 1st visit to an apple orchard, my first time on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and eating our way through Kings Mountain, Hendersonville, Brevard, and Asheville.  I could write out all our adventures, but the pictures sum everything up better than I could do with words.

The Capital Tours

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Behold, The Lincoln Memorial and a statue of Robert E. Lee

Over Memorial Day weekend, my sister-in-law, Martha, Mary, Lazerus, and myself all ventured into our nation’s capital via the Metro train.  It was their first time into the city and taking a train — they loved it.  We hit up the WWII Memorial — I hadn’t seen it since it was rebar — very awesome, and very moving to see the veterans there.  Being the awesome Illinoisian aunt I am, we then toured the Lincoln Memorial, and walked past the White House to get lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe (which is, I might add, right next to Ford’s Theatre, where Lincoln was shot….).  From there we trooped onto the Air and Space Museum (there was a lot of air….and space there).  We caught the correct train back home (I, um, kinda bought the wrong tickets for the wrong train….but this is typical of traveling with me) and another amazing adventure was in the books!  The kids did great and I have this great memory with them!

A few weeks later, The General and I hit up the other capital: Richmond.  Not only is it the capital of Virginia, but back in the day it was also the capital of the Confederate States of America.  Being the huge Civil War buffs that we are, we did the riverwalk, the Civil War Museum, and took a leisurely stroll down Monument Avenue to see all the huge monuments to the CSA heros.  One of my college buddies lives in Richmond, and she was having a party, so we crashed there after our tour.  We also had lunch here, which I highly recommend.

All in all, it was hugely educational.  I even learned something about Virginia!  We found this at a rest stop just off of I-95.  Virginia is a dude!

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An anatomically correct Virginia!

Until it sleeps

What is it about June?  This one and the one previous both involved death.  This time, my friend Sam’s dad died.  It was a GSW, as we call it in the medical biz.  Gun. Shot. Wound.  The words of suicide echoed in the conversations that followed.

It threw me for a loop.  I don’t do well with death – especially suicide – it has touched my life one too many times.  I’ve attended, technically 2 “funerals” or “wakes” or “celebration of life” type things: both of my grandfathers.  I wasn’t particularly close to either of them.  I was 8 and 22.  Neither of their deaths were unexpected or tragic; they just were.  And they were old.  Outside of checking people in and out of the morgue at one job I had (and the grandfather bit), I haven’t experienced it.  I still feel too young and immature to take on such heavy things like this.  Nonetheless, I knew I had to step up and be there for my friend.  Charlotte’s boss, the federal government, wouldn’t let her leave so Miranda and I travelled to Vance County, North Carolina – the homeland of our Samantha.  Adele, Miranda’s GPS system, accompanied us on our journey, but even she wasn’t 100% sure of where we were going.  If US 17 is the “backlot” of North Carolina, Vance County is No Man’s Land.  Suddenly I felt like I was back in Illinois – the scenery changed into this poor rural section of the Piedmont.  We drove for miles until we found the road the church was on — Adele got us that far — and then we were on our own.  The road was paved, mind you, so I took that as a good sign.

We found the church relatively easy – how can one miss a building among fields?  We arrived far too early, so we kept driving off the map until we hit the Virginia boarder – I made Miranda pull off to the side of the road so I could snap a picture of the tobacco plants.  Despite being brought up in a farming community, we only grew soybeans and corn; tobacco and cotton are still a novelty. We laughed about how crazy it was and I even took a picture of the road at the boarder – you can totally see where North Carolina ends and Virginia begins.  It’s always an adventure with us!

We continued on to the church.  It was a Methodist church and my 1st time at this particular denomination.  I’ve decided that I’m lumping the Methodists with every other Protestant religion I’ve encountered: they preach the Gospel.  And that’s good enough for me.

We stepped into the church and took a seat towards the back.   It was an open casket.  Totally didn’t expect that, given the circumstances.  No sooner did we arrive and Samantha and her sister entered in.  Many people went up to say their condolences, but we hung back.

The room was heavy; abnormally heavy.  I’m not sensitive or anything of that nature, but I do have a bit of the gift of discernment – there were many people in that room that were unseen.  It’s happened with my family and I am most certain it was happening then.  I don’t have any memory of the air as thick as it was in that church. I could feel the weight of the heaviness on my chest, it was difficult to breathe in.  It was a strange feeling that I’m not likely to forget anytime soon.

A choir and piano were on hand to lead the congregation in hymns – my favorite was “I’ll Fly Away.”  A dirge in a major key.  It seemed fitting.  Isn’t that the way it should be?  The pastor had a voice like a Broadway actor and he gave a eulogy that was beyond perfect — for a man who apparently shot himself and was a long sufferer of mental illness, which he touched on — he kept the dignity of the man and used his life’s work, a road construction worker, as a metaphor.  I can’t do it justice to paraphrase here.  He also assured the congregation that he was a Christian.

After a small graveside service a luncheon followed and we were finally able to speak with Sam.  I totally lost it.  I never cry, but I was so overtaken by the grief she was experiencing, it just flowed out.  I told Sam of how I took a picture of the roads at the NC/VA boarder and how I had no idea they bridged the counties he was born and died in, and just so happened to make his career out of NCDOT.  That was a weird coincidence.  And then, out of no where, I found myself in a made-for-TV movie miniseries, or quite possibly a Lifetime movie: Sam dropped the bomb. “It may not have been a suicide, but a homicide.”

While the plot holes were gaping and not enough information, it was impossible to string the events together.  So many clues lead to suicide; yet so many loose ends and events said otherwise: the pendulum of indictment was swinging wildly.  Miranda and I exchanged looks.  The grief of losing a loved one compounded by a possible murder?  It was almost too much.  “Where is the relief?” cried Sam.  Where indeed.

Miranda and I stayed with Sam, her sister, and her mother for the afternoon.  We talked about the crazy events and tried to figure it out to no avail.  Sam spoke of the family going back to her father’s house to find the wheel.  Wheel?  I finally asked what was so special about this wheel they were looking for and Sam laughed.  They were looking for the WILL but with the southern twang it sounded like WHEEL to this carpetbagger.  Everyone had a good laugh about it, including me.  They spoke of happier times with their dad – his love of cars, music, church – when the dragon of was sleeping.  I never knew this man, but I think it was therapeutic for them to talk about it.

It’s hard to work through the mourning process without a firm cause of death.  And all I can do is pray for Sam and be there when she has a low day.  Sam is strong and she will lean hard on the Lord to get through this season.  A true ending has yet to be written.

Dreissig

I must say the best way to turn 30 is overseas…..or on top of the sea for that matter.  My birthday cruise (Charleston – Freeport – Nassau) was 5 days of awesomeness.

This was the 1st cruise for both of us, so it was quite a learning experience.  We spend a ridiculous amount of money on zee boat, but it was all worth it.  Alcohol is expensive even when there is no tax in international waters.  The biggest take away from cruising?  It will be the best sleep you have ever had.  Our stateroom was in the stern of the boat; between the hum of diesel power and the boat rocking, I had the most intense dreams of my life and my REM cycles were basically comas.  It was amazing.

Our adventures included (but were certainly not limited to):

  • Running a 5k at sea on their running track
  • Driving a stick shift jeep around Freeport and the country roads with a couple from our dinner table
  • Dressing up in formal wear for an evening of elegance (and yes, I wore a dress I bought at the age of 15 — spandex gowns always fit)
  • Hitting up Taino Beach and experiencing the crystal clear blue waters of the Bahamas
  • Eating the finest food I’ve had in my life
  • Gaining 6 pounds from said food
  • Best mixed Long Island/Bahama Mama ever
  • Getting marooned in Nassau due to engine trouble for 4 hours
  • Reading a Clive Cussler book on deck
  • Going down a waterslide on the ship
  • Saw a reef and snorkeled for the 1st time (even though I dropped 2 snorkels in the reef 15ft below so I eventually just gave up and just put my masked face in the water to take in the beauty of the fish and coral)
  • Had my 1st ever catamaran ride
  • Thoroughly enjoyed my marriage (as my pastor would say)
  • Ate my birthday lunch at Senior Frogs.  I know, there’s on in MB, but here was way awesome.  I would go back, the veggie fajitas were perfect
  • Finding out one of the ladies from my bible study was also on the cruise and we ran into them in the cafeteria
  • Saw a live show on stage — I had “notes” for whoever the TD was due to their lighting choices (the entire grid was freakin’ technobeams. Seriously?!?! Rail was intel with ETC parcans with odd gel holders) — but actor/singing wise it was well done – women dancing in thongs and fishnets for a scene can be tasteful if done right, believe it or not
  • Learned how to play roulette – and lose.  Did the same with the 2 cent slot machines – I was up by $5 – but I kept going and lost it all.  The game of craps was explained to me but it was way over my head, so I didn’t play that.  I lost about $30.  How fitting, eh?

Dinner was fun – not only was it a 3 course gourmet meal – but you had to dress nicely, which meant no flip flops.  So to dinner every night I wore my 5″ Guess peek toe patten leather pumps.  Oh yeah, finally had a reason to wear them.  Our dinner companions were all from South Carolina and it was quite the motley crew.  Even though I was a sophisticated 30 year old for half of the cruise, I was the youngest there by 10 years.  2 of the couples were on their honeymoon: a super-Christian couple (they were so cute) and a couple from MB that went with us on the jeep adventure.  They were so easy going and we laughed a lot.  One couple was hit or miss – they only showed up a handful of times.  The oldest couple there were obviously wealthy and cultured — and very interesting.  When everyone was exchanging “how we got engaged” stories, they were mum.  “We’re getting divorced,” the man said.  How odd, I thought, to get divorced and cruise with your soon to be ex-wife.  I brought this up to The General and he laughed.  What they meant was they were divorcing other people to be together.  And this was their celebration.  Oh.  Wow.  How I missed that context clue, I don’t know.  Nonetheless, we all gelled and had excellent dinner conversation.

And the service?  OMG.  I’ve never had such wonderful examples of customer service than on that boat.  Wow.  They even turned down our bed at night.  It would just magically happen!  We’d come back, and tada! complete with pillow chocolates.  I suspected gnomes.  We have gnomes in our house, but instead they leave crumbs on the counter, sand on the floor, and stuff all over the place.

To quote The General on my voicemail during his 1st day back at work, “I want to get back on the boat.”  Indeed.  We’d totally do it again, now that we know what to expect….and spend.  I’m already planning a Mediterranean cruise for my 50th.

2 things really hit home on the cruise.

Kure Beach is still my favorite.  Sure the waters were clear in the Bahamas and the reef made me want to be SCUBA certified, but there were no waves.  It was like a giant blue lake, even thought it was an ocean.  I ❤ my KB.  That didn’t change.

The General has joked (half joking, I believe),  that he would buy me boobs for my 30th birthday if I wanted them.  I’m a 36B, but the “B” stands for barely.  Since I’ve started packing on the pounds with the cruise and then my parents had to go and spoil me rotten with Harry and David goodies (cookies and truffles) — so needless to say, I got some boobs.  Unfortunately I got the free hips and thighs too.  And I lost my receipt.  The pavement and I are going to go on a lot of dates in the next few weeks. <sigh>  I really do want to tone everything.  And no, I’m not getting a boob job.

The most awesome gift came from my mom and husband – Rosetta Stone for German.  The General and I are planning a Berlin adventure for next summer and my German consists of what I remember from my freshman year of high school and bits of Rammstein lyrics — I really do want to learn the language of my ancestors.  So far, it’s been quite a challenging study plan.  My next goal is to start reading books in German — but I don’t have a firm enough grasp of the language for novels just yet.  I asked The General to get me the book “Twilight” in German for Christmas – it’s easy language and I know the story.  It’s hilarious: in German that title is “Biss Zum Morgengrauen,” which literally translates to “bite of the daybreak.” I guess that would be twilight, huh?  It’s going to be an amazing ride and I hope I can speak it well enough to say, “Ja, Ich sprache Deutsch” – yes, I speak German.

And so there it is: dreissig (which is 30 in German).  This decade is gonna rock.

Make like an egg and beat it

Pennsylvania was awesome, we had such a great time with the family there.  I went face first into the pierogies and learned of a new Polish dish: haluski (which basically means cabbage and noodles).  I’m really getting into the whole heritage cooking bit.  Here’s a recipe I found, but haven’t tried yet.  The General, who is half Polish, commented he didn’t care much for this.  Are you kidding me?!  This stuff was amazing!

The craziest part of the 12 hours in a car was the last stretch of curving mountainous highway at 4am.  I was driving – and getting very tired, I probably shouldn’t have been driving at this point – and Google maps tells us to take a right hand turn.  It was a dirt road.  We kinda laughed about it. “If directions to your house include, ‘turn off the paved road,’ you might be a redneck.”  And then it went from dirt road to boulder field.  We’re in a little hatchback, this car was not designed for a dirt road with rocks as big as one’s head.  Remember playing Oregon Trail as a kid and at the end you have to do that river part where you’re dodging logs?  Same concept here.  Luckily, this was the last road to take, and 5 scary minutes later, we pulled into the homestead at 5:30am.  We turned off the ignition, leaned the seats back, and promptly fell into a deep slumber for 3 hours before we woke up for the party.  All of my nieces and nephews where there – we got huge family picture – and we had a blast.  I played what I called “Polish volleyball:”  it’s volleyball where there are no set positions and you serve from the wrong side of the court.  It was hilarious, but a lot of fun.

The past couple of days haven’t been kind to me.  I decided to head on into an angry looking ocean the other day with nearly head high shorebreak.  I got up to my ankles and a big wave came.  I tried to block it with my board, but instead, the ocean pushed the board into my forehead and knocked me down backwards, rolled, and pushed me.  I have a goose egg on my forehead, which lucky for me, hasn’t started changing colors.  My back was scraped up, but the muscular strain was much worse.  I sat on the beach for a few to collect myself – I really thought I had a concussion.  I’m fine.  A little wiser now, too.

Work has been crazy.  That place really stresses me out.  I have a hard time not getting frustrated.  Especially when you’re there for 11 hours and you’re  doing some mundane task like counting cells under a microscope when you should be half way through a cup of tea on the couch at home.

I feel I haven’t been using my mornings effectively.  I’ve tried to limit my time on Facebook and spend more time in my quiet time, but it never seems to work out on the stage of real life.

I’m not sure if it was from the reunion or my love affair with s’mores, or me being non-compliant with my thyroid Rx,  but my weight is on it’s way up.  I started back on my vegetarian diet and all was going well until last night: I saw the soup at work was “vegetarian beet” and I was like, “Huh, I don’t care for beets, but I will try it!”  Well, the hand written sign actually said “beef” not “beet.”  Oops.  Oh well, I ate it and it was really good.

I should have gone out surfing this morning, but the waves didn’t look too good on the cam, despite the ocean looking like pepper with all the surfers out there.  It was a cool 21C morning, so we went running.  Ran a 5k in 34 minutes ::sigh::  It’s racing season and I need to seriously get my butt in gear with some speedwork if I want to actually run a respectable time.

I’m going to miss the summer, but I’m sorta looking forward to fall.  I want both.  I want some fall days mixed in with those awesome summer days.

“You can’t and you won’t and you don’t stop”

Shhhh.  I’m being a bad girl today.  It feels kinda good.  I totally called into work simply because it was easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. The General and I are heading out on a roadtrip tonight and wanted to leave mid-shift for me.  For fear of being stuck at work due to work load, I figured why not just take the day off?  I screwed my co-workers a bit……and I do feel bad about that…….but I’ve been there every day (plus extra time out of the kindness of my heart) for the last 4 months……so I rationalized it that way.  And I dreamt all night of patients who have a bad pancreas and all the fun that comes with that.

The winds from Irene only made it up to gusts of 70mph here…..so my hurricane virginity remains intact.  ::sigh::  For my 1st major storm, it was a learning experience.  I didn’t realize how strong “the bands” were of the storm that come through bringing gray stripped skies and a crazy amount of wind and rain.  The winds were the worst the day after the storm, I had never experienced wind/gusts quite like that yet.  The worse damage done to our house from Irene was a branch down in the yard with leaves and sticks all over the place.  State Farm kept calling me and leaving messages on my phone of who to call about making a claim…..made me laugh.

Hurricane Katia is churning out in the Atlantic now.  I was excited for some waves…..but it looks like Katia wants to wrap up her summer in Myrtle Beach.  She could turn, dissipate, or slam into our coast — as the computer models are currently predicting.  I’ve decided that I like hurricanes, I love a good storm – it’s the midwesterner in me.  However, now that I am living in my dream house I’m a little more worried about the damaging effects of these monster storms.  I decided when we bought this joint that it was going to be just that: a house.  It will not run my life, it will not be my life, and if the Lord takes it away via foreclosure, storm, or circumstance – then so be it.  We’ll just be on our next adventure  My faith is in Him.

Speaking of waves, the other weekend my nieces Mary (12) and Martha (9) came down with my sister-in-law and we had a blast down at Kure Beach.  I took the girls out surfing — Martha was content to be on the boogie board, but I did manage to talk her into riding some waves I pushed her into on my 7’6.  Mary, on the other hand, was a natural.  It took her a couple of hours what took me the better part of 2 summers!  She caught a couple of waves and kinda stood up, but nonetheless she was stoked and had some great rides.  Mary is also my height and the same bra size as me.  That was humbling.  They said they were coming back down in the fall sometime and I am excited!!!!  It was awesome to share the gift of surfing with my nieces…..and they were eager to wax the boards too!!  I called Mary my “wahine” (wah-hee-nee) which is Hawaiian for “girl surfer.”  Super awesome.  We also played a rousing game of spoons that had us erupting into fits of silent laugh mode.

I am so psyched for our roadtrip to the state gamelands of Pennsylvania!  It’s The General’s family reunion – about 100 people with similar alleles all gather together for fun, beer, great food, more beer, and 2nds or 3rds through the food buffet.  Last time we went we were dating — several weeks before he proposed.  Much has changed, much has not.  I’m looking forward to seeing my in-laws, nieces, and aunt-in-law.  I plan to surprise The General with 375mL of Jim Beam and airplane bottles of Bailey’s for his morning coffee :-).  I have a feeling I’ll be driving home if the dark rum I’m bringing doesn’t get to me 1st! We’re camping out in a tent again and it’s suppose to be warmer than the 10C outside it was last time!  For the 11 hour car ride I also made a huge batch of puppy chow.  Heehee.  I really need to take a nap before we hit the road.

For lunch today, I stopped at Tidal Creek, the local co-op for everything organic.  I grazed off their salad bar (I’m trying to be vegetarian, but with moments of meat here and there) and had the most amazing concoction: chocolate zucchini cake.  OMG.  Nom.  I need to find a good recipe for it — I could taste the zucchini just a tad over the chocolate and there wasn’t bits of zucchini — it was amazing.  I might go back just for the cake.  I’ve been eating terrible the past couple of days and this reunion isn’t going to help, but all bets are off when surrounded by all that wonderful food.  I’m going to try out this “portion control” bit that I’ve been working on.

The title of this post in a line from “Sure Shot” by the Beastie Boys I heard on the radio today while driving around.  The DJ mentioned this clip and I had to share it.  As a former fan of Sesame Street, this is quite amusing.  Enjoy.

The Knuckle to the Thumb Tour

Where was I?  Oh yes, boarding a plane in Myrtle Beach.

The teenage gentleman sitting in front of me has his seat reclined before I got to mine, so it was a bit uncomfortable, especially since everything I had with me was under his seat.  I was a little miffed at his obvious lack of courtesy (it’s a 2 hour plane ride! Geez!).  I  ignored all this by reading my current book, Walden, by Henry David Thoreau.  When I got up to let my seatmate out, he saw the book in my hand and said, “Thoreau.  Nice.” with a head bob of approval.  It made me smile and completely forget he was more in my aisle than his.

Once on the terra firma of Illinois, my mom met me at the airport as we headed back to the old homestead.  We had  big dinner of steak and potatoes complete with my entire family plus future brother-in-law and my “aunt” who is really an old family friend.  Even better?  After dinner my sister showed me how to correctly apply eye make up and gave me a bunch of make up supplies!  Wow!  I’ve been experimenting with eye color and technique and am so thankful she showed me the ropes.  I had been correcting her papers for college (my sister: “Was there a lot of mistakes?”  me: ::head hits wall::) and after the 1st one with literately line by line corrections, her writing improved to just polishing what she had written.  I even asked her, “Where have you been all my life?”  It’s so weird we’re close now that there are 5 states between us, but when we lived near each other we rarely spoke.

Mom and I left the house at 5am the next morning.  Everything went fine until we got here.  And that’s when the trouble began.

Afew miles over zee boarder, there’s a new casino.  I’ve only been to casino once and I was 19….so, needless to say, at 0630, we were seated at slot machines.  And losing.  I highly suggest hitting up Four Winds Casino – it was quite the nifty place. I had no idea what I was doing, so some of it was lack of experience; some of it was sheer bad luck.  Next time, Gadget, next time!  When all was said and done, I lost $15.  I’m a bad influence.

We stopped in Paw Paw for coffee at That Coffee Place, which was across the street from St. Julien Winery.  OMG.  Michigan wine rocks.  I bought some for the General!  Their Blue Heron wine goes nicely with his tattoo of his totem.

Our 1st planned adventure was the Detroit Public Library special collections downtown for some genealogy research.  I didn’t hit the jackpot, but I was more successful at the library than I was at the casino (such is the life of a former honor student, eh?).  I found some more leads, figured out who some people where, and now I have a few more boxes filled out on the tree.  And I know which church they attended.

After staying the night at a 4 star hotel (my mom is an anti-camper), we headed up north for the thumb portion of our tour to Port Austin.  This was the place my family vacationed year after year when we were kids.  It seems so small now, after walking around downtown.  I guess I’ve seen more of the world since I was 17.  I bought a mood ring while I was there.  Ah, the simple joy of being a kid for a moment again.  This place is especially important to me on my spiritual journey: I accepted Christ here in July 1998.

We headed for the old cottage on Lake Huron to meet up with my second cousin, Austin, who had just lost his wife.  It was so good to see him again.  We headed out the the lake, sat around talking, and eventually headed out to dinner in the sleep small town of Pigeon.

It really made me homesick. I miss the small farm towns.  It was so wonderful, I wish I could have bottled it up to relive it every so often.  I love my ocean, but I found my heart longing for the homeland and snow accumulation.  We ate at the Main Street Cafe and Bakery – I had sauteed perch.  I love me some perch. You can’t get it down south.  For desert, their chocolate cream pie was out of this world.  Wow.  We came back to the cottage for wine and more laughter.  It was a good time.  The weirdest part?  “Austin, you have a message,” I said as his answering machine was blinking.  “I do?  Oh,” he said.  “I think I know who it is.”  Sure enough, it was an old message from Bea, his dead wife, letting him know where she heard the best fishing spots were that morning.  And to call her once he made it up to the cottage so she wouldn’t worry.  54 years of marriage and they were the best of friends.  I can only hope the General and I are like that in our upper years.

We left early afternoon the next day after farm fresh eggs and recently slaughtered bacon from the butcher up the road.  Amazing. We sat and talked some more and hit the lake one more time.  I was amazed at how far out I could walk (about 200 feet) and not have to worry about the current.  While the love of the lake will always be in my soul, my heart lies in the ocean now.  I’ll take my rolling waves and salt water over a lake.  Never thought that would happen!

Mom and I headed to our next adventure: Frankenmuth, Michigan.  It’s this cute little tourist town of German culture – shops, german family restaurants with chicken recipes that will make your mouth water.  Mom and I walked around and eventually ended up at one of their flagship stores, Bronner’s – a store that has wall to wall Christmas stuff – and it’s as big as 2.5 football fields.  Oh yeah!  As someone who suffers from OBD, Ornament Buying Disorder, this place is like a keg party to an alcoholic.  It’s a Christian run organization, slightly expensive, but it has everything Christmas.  Seriously.  There were even bulbs hailing my medical profession!  You can order stuff online, too — that was information I probably didn’t need to know.  I have 3 new bulbs this year to hang on the tree — and I have a feeling there might be more.

After Frankenmuth, we hightailed it back to the Motor City burbs.  The next day was the day I had been waiting for all week.

Mom and I went back to her hometown: Grosse Pointe.  For those of you familiar with Wilmington, Grosse Pointe is like the more affluent older brother of the Mayfaire/Landfall area.  These people had money.  And extremely large boats.  And manicured lawns that would make a Landfall member green with jealously.  It was 30 years since Mom had been there – and 30 for me too.  I was an infant the last time I was there.  My mom was born here and moved away in 1972, in her early 20’s, as my grandparents relocated to the burbs because of work and my grandfather’s heart health.  We parked the car on her old street by the house and walked around the neighborhood as Mom pointed out things as she relived her childhood memories.  We grabbed lunch at a local cafe, went down by her old high school, grabbed wine down at “The Hill” – the cute shopping district.  We also stopped at the church where my ancestors worshiped: everyone on the line I am researching had this church mentioned in their obituary.  While it was closed and the lady who did all the historical stuff was gone for the week, the kind gentleman cutting the lawn gave us a church directory.  Inside, it has the brother and sister from one of the branches I was looking for!!!  Sure enough, they’re still in the area and I have addresses and phone numbers.  I am going to write them and include a early 1900’s picture of her grandparents with her dad as a baby.  Next on my list is to contact the lady who runs the historical records – she’s in her 90’s and may have even known some of my great grand aunts and uncles!

The best part of the trip was saved for last.  Just as we were about to leave GP (as I affectionally call it now), we drove one more time by the house my mom grew up in.  We watched it for a long time.

“Let’s knock on the door and see if they’ll let us in,” I said, seeing as how the garage my grandfather built was open with a car inside.

“No, we can’t do that!” My mom said.  “They won’t let us in.”

“Come on, let’s try,” I replied.  “Worse they can do is tell us to shove off and slam the door in our face. We won’t be back here – let’s do it!”

“I’m not comfortable with doing that.”

“Alright, let’s head out.”

Just as she has clicked her seatbelt, an SUV turned into the driveway.  “Let’s go,” was all Mom said and she lept out of the car.  I quickly followed.

A beautiful twentysomething stepped out of the SUV and Mom introduced herself as someone who used to live here.  “Would you like to come in?” she asked.  Would we?!  YES!

And just like that I got to walk into the house my mother was born in.  The girl, Mel, introduced us to her mom, Dar, who was in the house.  They ushered us through the house, detailing what was redone and what was still original.  My mom chatted away, pointing out things, asking questions.  A lot had changed.  The ground floor master bedroom had an addition put on it and was now a TV room.  The new master bedroom took up the entire 2nd floor (it was originally a bedroom with a half bath where my uncle had his room).  It was huge.  My mom’s room that she shared with her sister was now Mel’s room.  The bathroom had the tile my grandfather put in — it’s quite retro — but very nice.  The living room and dinning room have remained untouched as it was when Mom lived there.  The basement still had the tile and the “bar” my grandfather put in – the bar isn’t very big nor attractive and they plan to take it out eventually, as with the tile.  The fruit cellar is now a bathroom.  I got a picture of the fireplace – only because I have a picture of my grandmother standing by it on my mantle.  Here’s a look:

It’s not quite the same angle, but it still made my heart skip a beat.  I didn’t take too
pictures of the house, just the common rooms, as I felt a bit weird snapping pictures of someone’s private residence.  They were so kind to allow us to indulge in such nostalgia.  I sent them a letter thanking them and included the picture of my grandmother seen above.  Not only did I want to thank them for making my mom’s summer, but I wanted to prove to them Mom actually lived there and we weren’t casing the place.

Amazing!  We just kept saying, “Can you believe we did that!?” for the rest of the night.  So awesome, my mom was so happy about it.  We celebrated our genealogy successes and toasted our amazing trip at this great Mediterranean place in Northville, Le George.  The food was amazing, even thought the menu was hard to read — so many words I had never heard before — but the waitress explained everything so perfectly!  Dinner was fabulous, a chicken dish with perfect spices; it summed up our trip perfectly.

Saturday morning came too soon as I boarded a plan in Detroit bound for Myrtle Beach and a $50 parking tab.  Ugh.

So much research is ahead of me and I am so thankful I did this trip with Mom. Not only did she spoil me rotten, but we have these amazing memories that will keep us smiling for the rest of our lives.

Beached to be beached

My face is sunburn.  There’s salt sticking to my arms as the water dried.  I have a ridiculous amount of ice cream in my stomach and dinner is just a marinade and a grill away from being fabulous.  Oh, and one of my good friends J, and her boyfriend D, are here for the weekend.  Unfortunately, my General had to work.

This work-free weekend has been brought to me by Kure Beach, Slush, and my alma mater.  Yay!

We spent the day at Kure, soaking up the sun and catching up, talking about cars and my love affair with the new 2011 Camero.  OMG.  I’ve never been so in love with a car before. And an American one at that!  And crabs!  Did you know there are baby hermit crabs out in the bottom of the ocean, about 30 feet out? I was having a blast picking them up with my toes and holding them.  I think I have a crab problem.

The adventure continues tonight with drinks and board games after dinner, as they leave tomorrow for home.

I’m leaving too…..for home, in a way.  Monday morning I set sail via an aeroplane to Illinois to meet up with my mom and start our roadtrip, “The Knuckle to the Thumb Tour.”  Confused? We’re going to Michigan (Look at your left hand.  See the lower part of Michigan?  LOL.)  We’re heading to Deeeeeetroit and then up to the thumb area by Lake Huron.  It’s a very nostalgic trip: Detroit is where my family is from and I plan to research a bit more into the past.  If all goes well and I can trick my mom, I also want to go to the cemetery where everyone is buried…..on the wrong side of town.  I’m actually a little miffed I don’t have a conceal to carry permit.  I’d feel much better if I was packing some heat.  We’re also going to see some live relatives, too like Austin.  I’m really excited to go back to the cottage of my youth.  And to top it all off, we’re going to hit up my mom’s hometown, where she hasn’t been to in over 30 years – and I’ve never been there.  It’ll be great to be there with a narrator!  I’m so excited – I’ve yet to pack, I should probably get on that – and I plan to blog from the road.

I’m breaking a cardinal rule of flying on this trip:  I’m taking my rollerboard suitcase instead of packing a week’s worth of stuff into compression bags in my back pack.  I may end up taking my back pack instead, but since I have a direct flight both directions, I feel better about it.

Oy, my back is burnt too.

I guess this trip answers the age old question: Where do people who live at the beach go on vacation?  Answer: The Rust Belt.

All together now

Necrotic infection. I-95. College friends. Running. Adventures. Playing hooky from work.

It’s been a whirlwind of a week.

The The General and I embarked to Florida to visit friends from his college days. It was awesome. More about that later.

This week my buddy Zetta from college is staying with us in between gigs (she’s on the road, lucky girl). It’s been fun. It’s hard to believe its been 6 years since we hung out – and that we became friends – we met because my boyfriend at the time had a crush on her. A lot of drama insued, but we’re better now; although Zetta is the reason I can’t drink vodka anymore. There’s a bottle of it on my sink, I have a feeling it will be gone by the time she gets on the plane….

I totally played hooky from work today because Zetta was here and I almost got caught….twice!  Once at Wal-Mart and another time leaving the best sushi place on earth: Yo Sake in downtown Wilmington.  Holy cow.  I NEVER call in, I’m usually the one who stays another shift because someone else calls in – and the one time I do I get caught.  Such is the luck of a former honor student.

Another holiday spent at work — working all of Easter weekend and I’m actually going to be at church for Easter for my bouncer duties.  Ever hear of Creasters?  They’re those people who only attend church on Christmas or Easter (because you know, God sees that and finds favor……::rolls eyes::).  The General and I are the exact opposite: we attend church on most Sundays and not major Christian holidays because the crowds are beyond nuts and we feel it’d be better to give up our seat so hopefully someone who is not a Christian is there with friends to hear the message. And we’re usually working.  Ah, the simple joys of having family 1,000 miles away and no children.

Stay tuned, more to come after I find the Easter candy.

What a day!

You know you’re having a bad day at work when you start your  morning off with a root canal and that’s the better part of the day.

Important machine is broken so you have to do everything by hand the old fashioned way.  Oh, and we’re down one person so everyone is trying to cover their work plus their own.  It was then that I really regretted not filling my prescription for Vicodin.  I wasn’t in pain with my tooth (which was abscessed beyond all — I’m on so much antibiotics I’m killing bacteria within a 3 foot radius of myself), but I think it would have taken the edge off the pain at work.  Some days, I tell ya!

As for me, I’m heading out with General for a roadtrip to warmer parts.

And boy do I need it.

Messin’ with Texas Tour: Day 4

I had booked my flight from San Antonio to Atlanta to Wilmington early Monday morning so I could be home in time to work.  My plan would have been flawless if it weren’t for the snow that shut down Atlanta and Wilmington.  Luckily, I had found out early Sunday about my flight cancellation so I was able to call Orbitz and Delta to get things straightened out.  The funniest part was I had changed the trip name on my Orbitz account to “Messin’ with Texas Tour” and when I spoke with the heavily-accented Orbitz operator, who obviously was not a native English speaker, who asked, “Is this regarding your “Messin’ with Texas Tour?”  I could barely respond “Yes” to keep from laughing so hard.

After a lot of silence on the other end, the kind gentleman at Delta and I figured out a plan.  I would fly from San Antonio to JFK in New York City to Richmond, Virginia.  Crazy?  I’ll explain.

I have a college friend who I haven’t seen in ages who lives in Richmond, a decent 5 hour haul from Wilmington.  I figured since Wilmington was probably going to be shut down for 2 days for the blizzard (< 10″), I’d just rent a car and drive down the next day from Richmond.  I was all about the adventure.

I hugged Miranda good-bye, got out of San Antonio on time and landed at JFK, an airport I had never been to before.  I got twisted up in my itty bitty terminal and ended up walking out of the secure area in search of my non-existent gate.  Bugger.  I’d have to go through security again.  While I’ve traveled many cities in Europe, I’ve never been to New York, and as soon as the wanderlust started, I realized it was January, I was in New York, and my “coat” was a knit zip-up sweater.  Brrrr.  So I went through security AGAIN and figured out that gate 23 split into several different avenues (hence why there was no terminal H).

I stumbled upon a French bistro for lunch and had a crepe with Nutella.  I am currently battling an addiction to Nutella (especially after I came home and found a recipe for crepes), and oh my goodness it was heaven.  I got on the plane, tried to sleep, but the lady next to me was too close for me to slump in my seat and it made for a very uncomfortable nap.

I landed in Richmond and was picked up by my friend J.  We went back to her house and played a board game, ate a lovely dinner prepared by her boyfriend with steak and potatoes, and played some Kinect for the 1st time (that game is awesome!).

The next morning J made breakfast with real bacon and sausage and drove me to the airport.  I rented a Toyota Yaris (not a fun car to drive) and it ended up costing more than I thought it would, but it was so worth it.  I plugged in my iPod and headed for the sunnier skies of Wilmington.

The roads weren’t too bad – just wet – and as a former Illinoisan, I am quite comfortable in snow.  Unfortunately the car rental companies do not have any manual transmissions, so I was forced to take an automatic, something I don’t like to drive in bad weather conditions.  Well, it was one of those maze-like gear shifters and I noticed how hard the engine was running.  I didn’t have a tachometer or any other informative gauges, so I figured it was just the way the car sounded, having never driven one before.  I was about an hour down I-95 when I realized I was in 3rd gear.  Oops.  Shoved her into “drive” and all of a sudden it was a lot quieter and ran better.  I’m such an idiot!

I made it into Wilmington early afternoon, sort of sad that my adventure had come to an end.  I grabbed sushi at Nikki’s and all was right in my world.

I’m ready for my next adventure!

Messin’ with Texas Tour: Day 3

Miranda’s family is fortunate enough to have a ranch in Texas that was passed down through her family.  We took this opportunity to head down to the ranch and experience the real Texas landscape and to see what she grew up in.  The ranch is in a remote part of the world, very few human footprints can be seen for miles.  It was such a beautiful sight.  We hiked around, I was in awe of the plant life – a lot of things I had never seen before; large cacti, nifty live oaks (which aren’t like what we have here in Wilmington), brush, buffalo grass – just to name a few.

The weirdest thing was the cactus in a tree — apparently birds can take the needles and deposit them on the tree branch and if conditions are right, voila! a cactus will take root in a tree.  Amazing.

Another great thing about the ranch is the free-range cows.  The cows were awesome, I think I bonded with them.  They are such gentle creatures and I think it helped that I had pellets to feed them.  Despite my love for the bovine, I still love steak.

I got to experience new things: riding a 4 wheeler, climbing a windmill and seeing a wild armadillo.  I am not very good at riding a 4 wheeler – I can drive a manual no problem, but shifting gears smoothly evaded me. Both Miranda and I feared for our lives and all I could think of was how far away we were from a trauma center.  There were several windmills on the ranch to pump water for the cows.  Miranda climbed so high!  I, a well established rock climber, only got about 10 feet off the ground cuz my vertigo kicked in and I wasn’t tied in, nor did I trust the windmill.  It was my only let down of the trip.  On our way out we saw the armadillo – we chased this little guy, but he got away.  Fast little suckers!  I didn’t see a roadrunner, but I think I will save that for my next trip.

After a long day at the ranch, we headed back to her house and cleaned up for a night downtown on the Riverwalk in San Antonio.  As it turns out, the river walk was closed!  They were doing the yearly drain of the river to clean it and all the stores and restaurants were closed.  We were so bummed!  So we stopped at the Marriott and asked the front desk for their recommendation of a good Mexican restaurant.  They suggested Rosario’s and so Adelle lead the way.  The atmosphere was great, the food was wonderful, and the margarita I ordered had a lot of tequila in it.  I had my 1st chalupa and it was amazing!  I would totally go back!  It was a nice way to end my visit to Miranda’s corner of the world.

But my adventure wasn’t over yet.

It had only begun.

Messin’ with Texas Tour: Day 2

Day 2 started out early – we were on the road before the sun came up.

After Alabama, we hit Mississippi ::yawn::, and then Louisiana.  It was here that Miranda learned of one of my notorious roadtrip impulses: wanderlust.

I was all about stopping somewhere for breakfast and we were nearing Lake Pontchartrain when it hit me: let’s have breakfast at Cafe Du Monde – in the French Quarter in New Orleans. I had been there once in 2001 on a mission trip and the thought of a French breakfast was slightly overpowering.  Without much thought – or consulting Adelle – I took the next exit, I-55 south – and headed towards The Big Easy.  It was then we realized that it would take the better part of an hour to get there (delaying us about 3 hours total), we had a dog, and a SUV full of Miranda’s possessions.  So we decided that maybe this would be something for our next roadtrip and made a “legal u-turn” after Adelle nearly stroked out with our change of plans.

And so we continued on to the great state of Texas.  After only being to Texarcana, which is not technically Texas, I got schooled in all things Texas.

  • The state flag flies at the same height as the American flag.  Crazy Texans.  They will be their own country someday.
  • Texas has these “feeder roads” the parallel the interstate – much like a service road – and you can easily move from feeder road to interestate with out exits (but they have those too.)  I wonder why no other state has this.
  • ZZ Top is from Houston, which I’m told is not a fun city.
  • It’s quite an agricultural state, which I didn’t expect.  They refer to things such as farm roads.

Our 1st stop was for lunch – Miranda and I split a Whataburger, a hamberger chain that has the most yummy burgers ever.  Unfortunately, the closest one to me is in Georgia.  Their chocolate shakes were pretty good too.  Our next stop was at D&D, a cowboy store.  It had everything from cowboy knick-knacks to saddles for your horse.  I even tried on a cowboy hat – I was way too Yankee for that store, but it was interesting to see all the clothing.  Just when I thought I had seen everything Texas, we stopped at Buc-ee’s, a traditional Texas truck stop with a novelty shop with all sorts of Texas goods.  I got the General a stand for pop cans so he could shoot them with the pellet gun.  Hee hee.

My brain was about to explode with all the new stuff I learned about the Lone Star state as we pulled into Miranda’s homestead.  Her family was so sweet and her house was so warm and homey.  Once we’re done decorating our place, I hope our house has the same appeal.  We dined on this amazing pot roast her mom made and then made our way for a quick tour of downtown San Antonio.  After that, it was time for bed.  I did too much Texas in 1 day, I was beat!

Messin’ with Texas Tour: Day 1

We started our 1,400 mile roadtrip from Wilmington, North Carolina to San Antonio, Texas started early at 0330.  Miranda, who is moving back to Texas til May, showed up at my house well before sunrise…..she had no sleep; I was running on 2 hours of slumber due to work.   There was no coffee involved: oh yeah, we’re that hardcore.  Also along for the ride was Miranda’s 2 year old Havanese and Adelle Magellan, a GPS system who reminded us to do legal u-turns (she’s named after a combination of our middle names since this was her inaugural trip) – our adventures had just begun.  And so, with an Xterra packed to the gills, we hit the road.

We drove to the Cocaine Corridor (aka I-95) and watched the sun come up over the South Carolinian horizon heading for Columbia.  We then headed east towards Atlanta with a stop for gas at a crazy hickish gas station.  We then hit Alabama and got lost at the exit with the Kia Motors factory – Adelle swore there was a gas station there – there was not – just a lot of cars (oh the puns!).  Luckily, the next exit had  gas station.

We kept our selves amused by talking about random stuff, my first generation iPod via a radio transmitter, eating peanut butter M&M’s, granola bars, and drinking water.  How we stayed awake is beyond me. Isabelle, the Havanese, was good in the car; a lot of nervous panting, but she kept me warm by sitting on my lap.

12 hours later we arrived at our 1st stop – Mobile, Alabama.  We got a dog-friendly hotel just outside the downtown area – it was cheap, but it was nice.  We set up shop, got ourselves cleaned up, and headed downtown in search of food (we really didn’t stop for breakfast….or lunch).  Because Mobile is a port city, I expected it to be like Wilmington – a cute downtown with some nightlife.   We weren’t in the right mode for bar hopping, obviously, but we figured there would be something interesting to see or do.   There was not.

Even though it was only 5pm, but they had already rolled up the sidewalks for the night — on a Friday night, no less.  It was strangely quiet among the french-inspired buildings of long ago.  A very quant and nice downtown, but pretty dull people wise.  We walked along Dauphin Street for awhile, and finally settled on dining at Buck’s Pizza.  We both had strombolli’s since it had been forever since we had one – Miranda got one with mostly meat, I went with all veggies — so good — especially after not eating a full meal in almost 24 hours!

Because of our crazy hours, we were in bed by 8pm so we’d be up and ready to go by 0530.  Yikes, another early morning for this night owl!

All went well until about 0100 and we heard gun shots – from a handgun, in our little corner of the commercial district of the city.  Of course, Isabelle took this opportunity to want to go outside, so I followed Miranda and Isabelle outside, still dazed from sleep — no one was going out there alone after gunshots!

We fell back asleep until I heard Miranda rumaging around — my alarm clock that has been to more European cities than most Americans — didn’t go off.  It was, as the Germans say, kaput.  Ran into the shower, grabbed a granola bar and headed out the door.  It was my turn to drive.

Isabelle ready for the road, a view of I-20 somewhere in Georgia, an the Kia Motors factory in Alabama

Driving down the beautiful view of Government Street in Mobile, view of lifeless Dauphin Street

Looking ahead to 2011

The General and I have really enjoyed the holidays this year, so much in fact, we are both a little soft in the middle.  The General announced that 2 January our house will be purged of junk and it’s back to healthy eating.  (This is typical of him.  Last 2 January we packed up 1/2 of our belongings to stage our house to sell it.)  My body is not bikini ready.  And so, the changes for 2011 are already on the horizon:

 

Body sculpting.
I want to have a fit, toned body for the summer.  I’ve always strived for it in the past, but I never actually met my goal.  This time I’m coming at it from different angles.  I’ve started to do some yoga poses to help with my balance, flexibility, and strengthen the muscles that don’t get much attention from running (here’s looking at you, quadriceps!)   My arms have always been my trouble spot, so in addition to yoga, I’m using the Pilates method with 5lb free weights, and using a chin up bar (the General and I are in an “arms race” to see who can do the 1st dead man pull up). I’m going to up my milage and speed in running for cardio — and surfing once the ocean unfreezes.  It’s too cold even for my 4/3!  And of course, eating right.  My BMI currently, is 22.7 – I’m in perfect weight range for my 5’7 145 lb body.  My worry is that I’m constantly rationalizing my weight gain.  When I graduated high school, I was 130lbs.  College, I was 135.  I used to be 140, but now I’m edging closer to 150 on some days.  I’d love to be 130 again, but I would settle for 135.  No worries, this is not anorexia – I am not fat by any means – I just want to lose 10-15 lbs.  130 would be my absolute lowest I would allow myself to go.  During a rather stressful time in college, I weighed 123lbs and I looked terrible.  Ugh – I will not do that again!  This will be the 1st time I’ve ever lost weight the healthy way — so it will be a challenge for me.  I tend to be an all-or-nothing type when it comes to this, so I need to watch myself.  And the General is along side me in the venture (who likes me the way I am!).

Friends.
Lots of friends shuffling all over this year. A good friend I made here (Miranda) is moving back to Texas for a short spell.  I am going to miss her so much, hopefully she will be back for good once the summer rolls around.  One of my best friends from high school (who is my opposite in every way, but is really an awesome person) is making plans to move to Wilmington!  Yay!  She’s gonna get her own place and scope out the job scene here in hopes of transferring through the company she is currently with up north.  Another friend and hubby who I haven’t seen here since our wedding might be coming this summer with their new baby!  Plans are still up in the air, but there’s a possibility!    One of my best friends from college is going to stay with us for a week or so before she leaves for a 6 month overseas mission trip!  I am so excited to have her stay with us! And the friends I haven’t met yet – it’s going to be a great year.

Career
There’s a possibility some changes are coming to my career.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

Adventures
I turn 30 this year and have decided the General and I are taking a trip to celebrate it.  I haven’t decided what: Las Vegas?  New York? A cruise?  Something I haven’t done or seen before!  I want to tour around Washington DC with my General.  Spend a weekend in Charleston, SC again.  I’m driving with Miranda back to Texas for the ultimate roadtrip through the southern states I haven’t been to and flying home.  There’s talk about the General’s side of the family renting a beach house in the Outer Banks – another place I haven’t been to – some random summer adventure for sure!  I still have not made it to the mountains of North Carolina – maybe this year will be that year!

There’s so much to look forward too, and of course, there will be surprises along the way.

I can’t wait.

Things I Learned While Attending My 10 Year High School Reunion/Hosting a Party At My Parents’ House That I Never Had in High School Because I Was Too Straight Edge

  1. My sister will completely lose her filter if given enough Rumple Mintz (peppermint schnapps).  The most inappropriate things you can imagine were topics of conversation.
  2. Like college, I hung out with my church youth group and the sweet frat boys who drank/smoked too much.  Same with my guests: I had everyone from a seminary grad to a swinger.  And everything in between.  I attract fun people.
  3. My mom, who is probably the most responsible drinker I know, took a shot of said Rumple Mintz and chased it with a beer.  Had no idea my mom was so….hardcore.  Not bad for 60.
  4. You will smell like a campfire if you come within 5 feet of a campfire.  It’s in the fine print.
  5. It’s always good to see people you haven’t seen in 10 years.  And you realize that 8 years ago you both attended the most depressing wedding ever together.  How can you forget stuff in your 20’s?  I don’t know.  I used to, but I think I forgot.
  6. People who get married and have kids will forever fall off your radar.  They will want to hang out with you and make it like it was back in the day, but the reality of the situation is that kids will (and should!) come first.  You will see them in at the 20 year reunion when the kids are grown, but after 20 years of only exchanging Christmas cards, there’s nothing left to talk about.  That’s my theory.  Everyone who came to my party did not have kids.  I was kinda sad.  I even put on the invite, bring kids if you need to!  We will find a way to entertain them!
  7. I invited 3/5 of my ex-boyfriends.  They were a no-show.  I really wanted to introduce them to The General.  All except one have kids, so it was expected.
  8. As for the actual reunion, it was better than high school.  Football players actually acknowledged me.
  9. All the footballers had beautiful blonde wives.  A gaggle of them would walk up to the bar, it was amusing.
  10. I talked with the most stuck up person in our class and she was nice to me, but fake nice.  Charming.
  11. Despite my first 24 years of being a Yankee, this Carolina girl freezes at 17C.
  12. The most surprising part of the night: no shocking changes.  Everyone looked about the same and is moderately successful.  I was hoping for some Jerry Springer-like moments.
  13. A good time was had by all.  I miss my hometown.  My life is here in North Carolina, but I found myself feeling homesick.  Maybe it was all the combines in the field.

My name is Earl

Karma?  Or just cuz it’s been a long time?

Hurricane Earl is headed up the eastern seaboard as a Cat 3.

Hi new surfin’ buddy!

The surf was pretty crazy yesterday.  The outside was way too heavy/blown out/strong for me to make it to the outside to catch waves like a proper surfer, so I spent 2 fabulous hours riding the whitewater (the wave after it breaks, throwing my board into the current and just jumping on top of it).  I felt like a complete loon, but there was another guy out there on a longboard doing the same thing I was!  We appeared to be at the same skill level.

I fell a bunch of times, I had no balance.  I have a beautiful bruise on my knee and today I just feel sore, like a I was put together wrong.  I meant to go out this morning, but my blahness + work just didn’t seem right.  The General and I are hitting the waves 1st thing tomorrow morning and I am quite excited!

This weekend we’re going to the wonderful state of Pennsylvania for a family reunion (The General’s side).  I’m excited for a 10 hour roadtrip, The General is not.  I’m a little worried that this guy is going to hit the Cape Fear region when we’re not here….but at the same time, I am glad to get out of his way!

There’s a slight possibility that I will loose my hurricane virginity this week.  Oh boy.  I’m stocking up on the protection, nonetheless.

Also, Mad Men picked up some serious Emmy’s last night!!!!!!!  I wish more of the individual actors had received statues, they are so good at their craft.

Morehead? No thanks.

The General and I took our summer day vacation today to the Crystal Coast and it was pretty awesome.

We spent the 1st half of the day hanging out at Emerald Isle – the ocean was so much more blue-green than it is off Pleasure Island.  Despite the lack of industry (read: healthcare facilities), I would totally move to Emerald Isle.  We caught some decent waves via boogie board and saw a swarm of fish arrive with a swarm of seagulls and pelicans.  Stoke factor was high today.

Morehead City, however, just didn’t do it for us.  There wasn’t much there outside of a handfull of restaurants, art galleries, fishing charters, and fish markets.  We did manage to get some yummy ice cream at Captain Bill’s Waterfront Restaurant. We stumbled upon an art studio by this guy who had these fantastic oceanic photographs on aluminum canvas – the detail and the color were beyond anything we had ever seen before.  If I had about 4 figures worth of change lying around my dresser, I so would have bought one.  If you are the in MC, you have to check out this studio!

We left Morehead bound for Pleasure Island and grabbed dinner at The Ocean Grill and Tiki Bar in Carolina Beach.  Dinner was fantastic on the covered patio and we got drinks out on the short pier.  I highly suggest the Ocean Potion cocktail.  I could have ordered a whole pitcher.

After getting my butt handed to me in poker by none other than The General himself, I think I am going to call it a night.

Have fun in the sun, get laid in the shade

I’m a lil sad summer is winding down. All our summer guests have returned home and no one else is lined up to come hang with us at the beach. The days are slowly getting shorter and the cooler weather is almost here.  I love the humidity and 40C beach days in the sun. What can I say? I love North Carolina.  I am not excited for wetsuit season. I hate wearing it. It’s so restrictive and I can’t feel the ocean.

Summer wouldn’t be complete without a random roadtrip for the General and I.  We usually go somewhere around here, like Raleigh, but this year our summer day vacation is going to take us to Morehead City.  I laugh everytime I type/see/say Morehead City.  It’s the adolescent humor in me (hence the title of this post). ((I mean, really, how do high school students actually keep a straight face up there???))  The General’s been there many moons ago, but I have not, so we’re setting out to explore another port city.  I have no idea what’s there – a part of me just wants to show up and explore instead of researching.

I should be used to cities with weird names.  I lived in town called Normal for some time.  You have to laugh when you see “Normal Police” or “Normal Public Library.”

Ah, Morehead City.

This is going to be an interesting car ride.