Myrtle Beach Adventures

I made it to Myrtle Beach and back in one piece. It was a quick trip, but I loved every minute of it. I even enjoyed the drive there and back. Mostly, anyway.

There is, no doubt, much more to Myrtle Beach than I saw, but what I did see was very commercialized. It was like Branson by the beach. Which is a lot of fun for young families and golfers, but I don’t know that it’s my kind of vacation place. I like slow paced, farmers’ markets, toes in the sand, an antique store or two, relax and read types of vacations. Still, my Katie was in Myrtle so it was the only place I wanted to be.

When I got settled into my room Monday night she came to see me for a couple of hours. Tuesday I did some of my own touristy stuff. Precious in hand, I set out to get some good photographs. What I got instead was some delicious sweet tea from McAlister’s (a foodie staple of the south) and a trip to Barnes and Noble. Not exactly what I had planned, but I wasn’t complaining.

I picked Katie up from her camp around 4-ish or so and we ran an errand or two before ending up at Joe’s Crab Shack at Barefoot Landing. This is where I found out she had never eaten crab before, other than in a crab cake or crab dip. Once I got over the shock of this parenting fail, we set about remedying the poor raising of her.  By the time we finished all those crab legs we were both a glorious mess of melted butter and crab juice. (It didn’t seem so horrible at the time, but reading crab juice kind of makes me shudder.)

After we got crabs (hehe – I said “got crabs”) we strolled around the landing, perusing the interesting shops and taking pictures of all the silly signs, t-shirts, etc. We made a couple small purchases and then landed at Kohr’s Family Ice Cream. It was the perfect ending to our outing.

We went back to the hotel, then, and got super comfy in our beds and watched Shark Week. Because we always seem to be at the beach when it’s Shark Week and what else should one watch? Especially when there has already been several shark attacks in the approximate vicinity. We also snacked a little. On Mega-Stuffed Oreos. They were on sale at the CVS we stopped at for bottled water and a few other things and this was our vacation and they looked so yummy and stop judging me.

Wednesday morning was super lazy and delightful. I got up and ensconced myself in the perfect reading chair while Katie slept on. I started a new book – The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty – for August book club. A book club I haven’t made it to yet, but August is a new month and I WILL FINALLY BE VICTORIOUS! By the time Katie got up and around it was too late for the free breakfast downstairs, which was perfectly fine with me. There was a coffee pot in the room and we still had Mega-Stuffed Oreos. What more could a girl with a caffeine addiction and a serious sweet tooth want? (I’ll talk about how I’m trying to get healthy again later. MUCH later. So don’t hold your breath for that post, m’kay?)

It was time for lunch by the time we got out of the hotel so we went to McAlister’s. I realize there were about a bajillion other places for us to go, but I really hadn’t satisfied my McAlister’s need and Katie was down with the choice, so there you have it. After lunch we headed to Broadway at the Beach. Our plan had been to spend the day there and then eat at the Hard Rock Cafe because eating at every single Hard Rock Cafe there ever was is a crazy and unspoken goal of mine. Well, now it’s spoken. Or written, which is even worse because you can deny the spoken word, but it’s hard to deny something that’s been written down. So now you know. But unless you’re independently wealthy it’s an impossible goal and one I think I’ve finally given up on. Unless I can someday write several NYT best sellers. Then I may revisit this goal.

Anyhoo, we walked and browsed and window shopped and took more pictures of ridiculous things that made us laugh and walked some more. Which makes me feel okay about my breakfast choice of that morning because it was pretty much walked and/or sweated off by the time we finished at Broadway. Oh. We also stopped in at Ben & Jerry’s for a kid sized cup of ice cream. Tonight Dough, how I love thee.

We had seen everything there was to see so we decided to forego the Hard Rock and head back to the hotel. More Shark Week to watch, more reading and a short nap for the girl. She wanted Mexican for dinner and we went to a gloriously authentic hole in the wall and it was delicious! And what trip would be complete without at least one run to Wal-Mart? We bought a few movie bundles in the discount bin and then ended our day back at the hotel.

Thursday morning Katie got up early and had to be back to camp by 7:45 or so. I got ready, went downstairs for a quick and free breakfast and then hit the road. I wanted to bypass DC because I knew I would head into the area right around rush hour so I took an alternative route. I didn’t think about the fact it would be a lot of highway with stop lights and such. OY! It took me forever to get home. But what a beautiful drive it was! I drove the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel – Bridge and it was fascinating. A little eerie, but very interesting.

On the way down I had listened to a book on tape – The Anatomist’s Apprentice by Tessa Harris. It was entertaining, but I don’t know that I would necessarily recommend it. On the way home, however, I listened to her second book in the series – The Dead Shall Not Rest – and found it to be much more interesting because it concerned real life people from 1780’s London. When I arrived home I had to do my own research on a couple of the characters and I liked how she wove the story around them. I’m sure I’ll eventually read the third in the series to see if she continues to get better or if book two was just a fluke.

It took me a little over 11 hours to get home so it was a lonnnnng day. My drive ended with a hellacious thunder storm with so much lightening it was blinding and so much rain it was hard to see more than about 10 feet ahead. But made it home I did. And I really enjoyed my own bed that night.

All in all, it was a great mini-trip and I loved hanging out with the girl. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat!

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Halfway Through

16 Days of Christmas

On the 6th Day of Christmas…

20131220-DSC_0018We played the tourists. I thought the kids should see Hollywood and Beverly Hills and Venice Beach. So we drove through the crazy, East L.A. traffic to get to Grauman’s Chinese Theater, which isn’t even Grauman’s anymore, but it’s still pretty cool. We walked around and looked at the foot and hand prints by all those famous people – my favorite being Shirley Temple. She was very young – maybe 4 – when she did it and those talented little feet were barefoot and super cute.

Chinese Theater

hollywood CollageAfter that we walked down to Mel’s Diner. You remember. From American Graffiti and Happy Days. Mel wasn’t there. Nor were Richie or Potsy or Fonzie or anyone else. But our waiter’s name was Gonzo and you don’t see that every day. The food was delish and the music was retro and good.

On our way back to the car we stopped in at Hard Rock Cafe because, well, because it’s a thing. We didn’t buy anything, but we met a guy named Rocky who’s from Reading, PA and knew all about the area we’re from.

They were showing “Saving Mr. Banks” at the Dolby Theater and check out the really cute display:

Mr. Banks

Then we drove down Rodeo Drive and Katie slept through the whole thing. Which was not much of a thing. It was just a bunch of really rich people and/or tourists walking in and out of really rich stores. I looked for Julia Roberts in her Pretty Woman get up, but she was nowhere to be found. When Katie woke up, though, I told her we saw all kinds of famous people. Movie stars everywhere. She didn’t believe me.

From there we went to Venice Beach to see muscle men. There were no muscle men to be found. What there was to be found were crazy drug people. I mean, I don’t like to assume or anything, but seriously. There were people holding signs that said, “Will take food or pot” and stuff like that. Some dude walked up to Todd and said, “Throw money at me. The harder the better. I like it when it hurts.” And he was one of the more normal folks on the strand.

By this time the sun was getting pretty low so we decided to head for our old stomping grounds. First we drove by the Hermosa Beach house Todd lived in when he was little.  The streets, the house, the alleys, they were all so much smaller than they used to be. I don’t know how it shrunk, but it totally did.

We continued south, drove by the house he lived in when we were dating, drove by our high school and then by the house I grew up in. It was dark, though, so we didn’t really get to see much. We finished our little trip down memory lane by eating at Y-Not Burgers – Patty Melt and Onion Rings, just like when we were dating. And it was still as good as it was back in the day.

Nostalgic eating and vacation are a really bad combination. I had to unbutton my jeans when we got back in the car. I make no excuses or apologies. It was totally worth it.

On the 7th Day of Christmas…

We went to see our good friends in Long Beach. Todd and I haven’t seen them since March of ’05 and it’s been even longer for the kids. Cathy and I don’t keep in close contact, however, we didn’t miss a beat. It was so great to see them – made my heart so very happy. Except for the fact that Cathy happened to mention an incident or two from long ago in front of the kids. And all this time I’d had them convinced I was a super good girl and never did anything bad. Ever.

Okay. That’s a lie. They weren’t surprised in the least and, in fact, when we left Taylor said, “I can see why you and Cathy were such good friends.” I asked if that was a good thing and as I’m writing this I just realized, he only grinned. What does that even mean?

Their oldest daughter has graduated from college and she’s off doing her grown up thing so we didn’t get to see her. But the other girls were there for a bit and it was fun to see them.

And their powder room smelled really, really good.

When we got back to home base, Todd’s brother and his family had arrived from Northern California.

On the 8th Day of Christmas…

We chillaxed. A lot. Katie and I went for a walk with Rachele and the kids (6-year-old twins) and that was pretty much all the exercise we had for the day. Except when Taylor and Katie and I ran to a very crowded Target. Managing the human obstacle course with a shopping cart should count for something. And it’s just a good thing they sell wine at Target in California because it was a medicinal necessity after that short little trip. Not only that, but it went really well with the crab dip Rachele had made with fresh crab that Tim and the twins had caught.

We’re now halfway through our 16 Days of Adventure Christmas. I wonder what the next half holds in store.

Crackalackin’…

… as in “here’s what’s happening” or “this is what’s going on.” The Urban Dictionary used it in this example:

Bob:  Yo
Joe:  Yo, what’s poppin’ fresh?
Bob:  Not much kid, what’s crackalackin’ 

But as usual, I digress.

A ton has happened since my one sentence post from a week ago. Kids’ Camp was, as usual, phenomenal. Over 1200 kids were registered and we averaged 950 kids each day. And we didn’t lose any!! Tremendous amounts of fun were had by all.

Friday after Kids’ Camp we threw stuff in the car, said goodbye to Sookie and asked her to please stop shedding all over everything, and drove down to DC to spend the weekend with Taylor. The ride was a typical I-95 corridor drive. If you don’t know what that means, here’s the Facebook status I wrote while stuck in traffic:

“I love I-95,” said no one ever.

We finally made it to DC and instead of driving straight to the hotel as originally planned, we met Taylor at his metro stop, drove him by his lodgings so he could pick up a few things and then headed to the Embassy Suites.

To say I was giddy with joy would be an understatement. I had all my peeps in the same room.

Saturday we went to the International Spy Museum.

Veddddy intarestink. Before you can begin in the museum you have to choose an alias. When you finish the museum you have to debrief and, depending on how well you answer the questions, you can either “leave the country” or you will be detained and disavowed. Very Mission Impossible. I was the only one who was allowed to leave.

So now you know. I’m actually an international spy. But I can’t really tell you anything more than that without the risk of blowing my cover.

After that we had a late lunch at Hard Rock Cafe (why is it always the Hard Rock Cafe?)

Next to the Hard Rock is Ford’s Theatre. THE Ford’s Theatre where President Lincoln was shot. Right across the street is the house where he died.

The rest of the day held cupcakes and Starbucks and an awesome jazz band in front of the Verizon Center.

Sunday was a walk around the Mall and a visit to the National History Museum to see dinosaurs and butterflies and diamonds and the like.

Then we walked to Busboys and Poets, a Bohemianesque restaurant that Taylor suggested. It was very yum! By then it was time to head out.

Taylor had decided to follow us home in his truck so he could get the shell he bought on Craigslist and that Todd and I picked up for him a few weeks ago.

It fits and looks much better on Taylor’s truck.

Katie rode with Taylor. It was a quiet ride home from DC…

We noticed that Taylor wouldn’t go even 5 miles over the speed limit, no doubt because of the harsh speeding ticket he got back in January. At one point, however, he started going a little faster. Todd and I decided it was because Katie was still talking and he just wanted to get home as fast as he could. Then we watched as he took a wrong exit. I thought maybe his GPS steered him wrong, but Todd thought he might have offed Katie and wanted to get rid of the evidence before he came home. Turns out I was right.

It was nice to have him for an extra day. He and Todd got the shell on his truck on Monday and I made the most incredible sandwiches for dinner. Sunday night I had been flipping channels and came across a show called “The United States of Bacon”.

I KNOW!!

Anyway, this dude on the show made grilled cheddar cheese, bacon and apricot preserves sandwiches. YES.HE.DID. And so did I. The preserves are sweet but not overly so. The cheddar cheese was tangy. And the bacon. Oh, the bacon. Do I really need to elaborate? The whole combination was sweet and salty and tangy and I can hardly wait to do it again. Is there a rule about the appropriate amount of time between bacon consumption?

Oh yeah. My kid. I got sidetracked by all that talk of bacon. He left between 6:30 and 7:00 and didn’t hit any traffic. Lucky.

So let’s fast forward to today. Todd left yesterday for Akron and he comes home tomorrow. Katie and I went to Phamous Phil’s Barbeque for an early dinner tonight and it was fabulous phabulous. I think my favorite part is the tea. They don’t have sweet tea – a staple at any good Southern barbeque joint. But what they DO have is simple sugar syrup. So when you order tea they bring it and the sugar syrup so you sweeten it to your liking. Like I said. Phabulous. Then again, my favorite part could be the phried fried pickles. Best I ever ate, and I lived in the South for 18 years, y’all!!

Now we’re about to watch a movie, trying to stay up late because she has to be at the church at 1:45 AM.

“Of course she does,” you may be thinking. But then probably not.

She and 25 or 30 other people, mostly teenagers, will be getting on a charter bus that will take them to an airport where they will fly to Guatemala to build houses and properly set up safe stoves. They are all very excited and I can hardly wait to hear all about their trip, mostly because it will mean she’s home safe.

And that, my friends, is what’s been crackalackin’.

~Epilogue~

1:00 in the morning came really fast. So fast that we never did finish the movie. It is now nearly 3:00 in the morning and I’m a little bit wired. That and I had to come back and fix the errors in this post. At 1:00 I hit “Publish” instead of “Preview”. I blame my tiredness. Which is a pretty solid excuse.

But enough about me. The Guatemala team was boarding the bus at 2:15 when I left the church.

I’m all happy and sad and excited and a little bit worried (but not a lot) and am really looking forward to hearing all about it. If you would like to pray I would ask for the following:

  • Safe travels there and back
  • Good health for the entire team
  • A productive trip
  • Peaceful hearts for the moms and dads
  • Changed lives, both in the Guatemala community they’re serving and in the team

I am now officially tired. It is not looking as though I’ll be to work by 8:30 tomorrow morning today. So that’s all the crackalackin’ I’ve got.

Expanding My Mind… Groovy…

Thanksgiving vacation is quickly coming to an end. Five days in a row of sleeping past 8:00 will be a thing of the past until Christmas break. Tomorrow will be the beginning of just another week and life will resume its routine.

Our friends, the Stenmans, invited us to share Thanksgiving with them since we don’t have any family around here and we were happy to accept. The food was delicious and the company was so enjoyable. After dinner some of us played Bananagrams:

Have you played it yet? It’s like Scrabble only better. I love Scrabble, but it can get tedious while you’re waiting for your turn. (I never claimed to be incredibly patient.) But you’re on your own when you play Bananagrams so you don’t have to wait on anyone! (I think somebody in my family should get it for Christmas.) Not only did I leave the Stenman’s feeling pleasantly full and happy at spending a nice day with them, I think I may have left a little smarter, too.

Friday and Saturday were spent baking, cleaning the kitchen and working in the dining room. Katie and I were able to prime above the chair rail and I’m hoping to get the bottom part primed this week. I’m going to have to re-paint all the woodwork, which I’m pretty sure is going to be a pain in the rear, and my plan is to start painting next weekend. We’ll just have to see how that pans out. By the way – I love the smell of primer and mineral spirits. I just hope they didn’t kill any new brain cells I may have amassed at the Stenman’s Thursday.

Today was an enriching day at the theater. I mentioned about a month ago that Katie and her friend, Alexis, sang “Sisters” for their voice recital. It turns out that the Broadway production of White Christmas is currently in Philadelphia.

So Katie, Lexie and I left church after first service, had an early lunch at the King of Prussia Chili’s and then headed into Philly for a matinee. (If you’d like to see what we saw on our drive into the city you can reference my last post. And just for the record – I did not take any of those pictures, though I wish I could take credit. I just got them off of Google Images.)

Our seats were in the very last row of the beautiful old theater. It doesn’t look nearly as tall from the outside as it feels when you’re walking up, up, up the stairs. And the actors’ faces were pretty fuzzy from way up there, kind of like when they block out faces on the television to protect their identities.

Still, it did provide a different view. For example, we got to see the beautiful chandelier from the top before they raised it for the performance.

The play itself was delightful, even if we couldn’t make out any features on the cast. Katie and Lexie enjoyed it and they held back when “Sisters” was sung on stage. I was a little worried they might get up and sing with the performers!

After the play we walked a block or so down Broad Street and got our overpriced beverage and pastry on at Starbucks. (No, I’m not dissing Starbucks. I’m just telling it like it is.) Then it was time to come home. Who knew the Eagles were in town today? I didn’t. And I chose the wrong route to come home and ended up in horrendous traffic. Heinously horrendous!

But we did finally make it home and we’re enjoying the last couple hours of our break by eating chocolate crinkles and watching “The Amazing Race”. Well, the family is watching “The Amazing Race”. I’m typing. Obviously. I just hope that all this culture and brain calisthenics will make me sharper tomorrow at work.

Airports, Afghans and A Cake

I picked my folks up from the airport yesterday. What an ordeal that was. There was little to no traffic and I just zipped my way there. The parking deck, however, was full and they were directing the cars to economy parking in New Jersey. Or maybe Delaware. Oh, alright. It was still in Philly, but it seemed like miles from the airport.

Meanwhile Mom and Dad had collected their bags and were beginning to feel as though they’d been forgotten. Finally the parking lot bus let me out on the departures side of the terminal so I had to run up and over to the arrivals side and found the parents in baggage claim. All alone.

We eventually made it on the bus to take us back to the economy lot and then I wasn’t exactly sure where I’d parked. I guessed right, however, and we didn’t have too far to walk from where the bus let us out. Then we had to find our way out of the parking lot. That in itself was a challenge, but we finally made it out and on our way back home.

“Economy Parking” is misleading. If you’re staying overnight it’s $11.00 a day and very economical. If you’re just picking up your parents and are parked for less than an hour it’s still $11.00. I had no cash on me. Nothing says, “Welcome to Philly” like begging for enough money to get out of the lot.

Sadly, our trip home wasn’t nearly as smooth as my trip to the airport. We hit traffic and our 45 minute ride turned into about two hours. We made it home, only for me to turn around and drive Taylor to church for Youth Leadership. I got home from there, honked from the driveway and drove Katie to her cake decorating class. Whew! What a night. Lucky for me Todd made it back from New Jersey in enough time to pick both kids up on his way home.

***

It’s looking like I’ll have to do my own dang ironing. Mom is working on afghans (the blankets, not the people) for both the kids and would like to finish them before she leaves in two weeks so she’ll be crocheting instead of ironing. Why is it so difficult to get good help these days?

The kids picked out their yarns a few months ago and here’s a little peak. This is Taylor’s:

And this is Katie’s:

Aren’t they pretty??

***

Katie got to decorate a cake in her class last night which worked out nicely because it was my birthday. (Twenty-nine. Thanks for asking.) Look at the beautiful job she did! It made me just the teensiest ferklemped.


***

And that’s all I’ve got. My blogging will be sporadic at best the next two weeks and my blog hopping will be practically nil. So I leave you with this topic.

Barney Frank and Mr. McGoo – the same person?

Talk amongst yourselves.

ROAD TRIP!

I’m not back to stay, but seeing as today was a holiday I decided to tell you about my weekend. I have checked a few things off the list, though I still have quite a bit left. Still, I probably will be hanging around a little bit more. (Thanks to those of you who sent me such nice emails and made me want to say, “You like me. You really like me.”)

Katie and I left the house at 5:30 Thursday morning to drive to Hilton Head, South Carolina for Ben’s wedding. As you see, there was an obvious lack of male influence. Let’s just say Taylor couldn’t afford to miss two days of school and leave it at that. So it was a girls’ road trip. The car was stocked with all kinds of consumables in the event we found ourselves faint for lack of sustenance. We had cheese and crackers and frosted animal cookies and candy and water and Starbuck’s bottled frappuccinos… We also wanted to see if we could go through my entire iPod song list of 499 songs.

I don’t think we were even through Philadelphia when I thought about my new camera nestled with care in my new camera case and the beautiful pictures I was going to be able to take on our trip. Unfortunately, it was still sitting on the dining room table where I had packed it all away the day before. Katie forgot her camera, too. You must know how sad this made me. There was a split second when I considered turning around, but good sense won out.

The trip down was pretty uneventful. Good weather, bad traffic through Baltimore and DC, but after that it was smooth sailing. We did get to see the Washington Monument and the Capitol dome from the freeway so that was kind of exciting. [Insert imaginary photo.]

While there are Cracker Barrels here in PA, there isn’t one very close to us. That’s as Arkansan as Sonic so I treated Katie to lunch at a CB in Virginia. When we hit North Carolina we started seeing these big billboards – tons of them – for Pedro’s South of the Border. They touted restaurants, mini-golf, convenience store, gift shop, leather goods, hotel, petting zoo, and every other type of roadside tourist trap imaginable. [*Mom & Dad – kind of like “The Thing” on I-10*] As soon as we passed into South Carolina there it was. Pedro’s South of the Border. Funny stuff! [Insert imaginary photo.]

I-95 through South Carolina looks a lot like Arkansas. A couple of times I forgot where I was. Finally we turned off and headed for the island. We made it to the hotel between 7:30 and 8:00. After unloading the car we went looking for dinner. The hotel had a pool and also a pond. Katie said something about being afraid of alligators and I just sort of blew her off. Especially when she started looking up at the trees looking for tree-climbing-ninja-gators.

We finally landed at a restaurant called “Skillets” with an Elvis impersonator crooning to the outdoor diners. The waiter talked us into ordering an appetizer of fried green tomatoes – Katie’s first – and they were delicious! Served over Creole marinara with bubbly melted mozzarella on top. The best fried green tomatoes I’ve ever had! She ordered shepherd’s pie and I had a chicken stir fry. [Insert imaginary photo.]

Friday morning we woke up when we woke up, showered, dressed, and ate breakfast at the complimentary breakfast bar. That’s where we found out there were a bunch of college kids from Ohio staying at the same place. It wasn’t until later that night when we found out they were a bunch of obnoxious college kids from Ohio, but I’m not to that part yet.

We spent the late morning and early afternoon exploring the island and finding great places to shop. Neither Katie nor I could get the thought of those extraordinary fried green tomatoes out of our heads. So we went back to Skillets for lunch. Unfortunately our cravings weren’t quenched because the appetizers weren’t on the lunch menu. No complaining about the food, though. I had the vegetable crepes – crepes with a wonderful egg, cheese and spinach filling – and rosemary skillet potatoes. Katie had the shepherd’s pie again.

While walking around the shopping center after lunch we ran into some friends from church, Kevin and Terri. We chatted with them for a little bit and they mentioned the alligator in the hotel pond. THE ALLIGATOR IN THE HOTEL POND! You know, the “alligator” that Katie was freaked out about? The one I told her didn’t exist? Yeah. That one. Apparently it did exist.

Katie and I decided to get some disposable cameras and what better place to make that kind of purchase than the local Piggly Wiggly? Besides, she’d never been in a Piggly Wiggly before and I feel like one should have that experience when the opportunity arises. Because how much fun is it to say, “I went to the Piggly Wiggly”?

After that we walked across the street to the beach to see the ocean and then back to the hotel to get ready for the wedding later that evening. The wedding was simply beautiful. Vans shuttled us to the beach house where the wedding and reception were to take place. The ceremony was under a flower laden arbor on the beach with a cellist and violinist accompanying. I was snapping pictures with our Piggly Wiggly disposable cameras and chatting with Terri and Kevin and Mandy and Alex and Amanda, not paying any attention to the noise the film advancing mechanism made. Until the wedding started and everyone stopped talking. Then I had Terri cough or Katie sneeze to mask the sound or I just advanced it one tiny click at a time. And it made us giggle.

Our former youth minister, Matt Silver (he and his family moved to Maryland a few weeks ago), officiated and it was great to see him. Another transplanted friend, Leland, was in the wedding so it was fun to see him, too. All the CCV people sat at the same table for the reception and had a blast! The DJ knew all the right songs to play and we had a great time cutting the rug and just having fun. Ben and Katie (his Katie, not mine) sure know how to entertain!

Remember those Ohio college kids I mentioned earlier? The hotel was infested with them. And while I hate generalizations and would never say they were all horrible – I’m sure there were some nice, unhorrible students there – there were a lot of rude, obnoxious and over-indulgent kids there. And apparently 2:30 to 4:00 in the morning is the best time for playing frisbee, drinking beer and catching up on the day’s events in the hotel hallway.

Saturday morning Katie and I got up and drove to Savannah with the express intention of eating at The Lady and Sons, Paula Dean’s restaurant. Sadly, they were full for both lunch and dinner so we only saw the outside. Not a huge deal, though. We just have to go back, that’s all. We ended up eating cheesy hot spinach dip and cheese pizza at a place on the Riverfront called Spanky’s.

We really wanted to get a picture of the statue in the movie, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”, but it turns out it’s in a museum. We’d even considered going to the museum but we ran out of time. We did go on a house tour, though. [Insert imaginary picture] The house of the people who own the statue, actually. Savannah is a beautiful city – very Pirates of the Caribbeanish. There are “squares” every few blocks which are wonderful when you’ve been walking a lot. Katie and I would figure out where we were going to go next and then walk from square to square, resting on a park bench before moving onto the next one. It was a pretty warm day so our last stop was at a Starbuck’s for some sort of frozen concoction. Just as we were leaving to get back to the car only a few blocks away there was a sudden flash of lightening and a loud boom immediately following. The rain hadn’t started yet so we high tailed it for the parking lot. Half way there it started to sprinkle with more flashes and more booms. And then the sky opened up about a block from the car. I yelled, “Run!”, which Katie took literally. Unfortunately I’m not much of a runner so I told her, “Save yourself!” Except for that I didn’t unlock the car until I got right there. We scrambled inside, laughing the whole time, and realized there was hail mixed in with the rain. Once it slowed down we left and drove back to Hilton Head.

Hungry for dinner when we returned, can you guess where we ate? Skillets!! Can you guess what we had for an appetizer? Fried green tomatoes!! Can you guess what Katie had for dinner? Shepherd’s pie!! So sad that we only ate at one restaurant the entire time we were on the island. But oh so good!

Sunday morning we woke up at 5:00, got dressed, packed the car and were on the road by 5:30. The ride home was even more uneventful than the ride there. Except the GPS took us THROUGH Washington instead of around it. That took us forever! But we did get to see the Pentagon and the Jefferson monument this time.

We pulled into the garage about 6:30. I soaked in a hot bubble bath and read a little bit, then went to bed around 9:00. The trip was a lot of fun – Katie and I ate well and laughed a lot – but it sure was good to be home and sleep in my own bed.

Over the long weekend we were in 7 states and the District of Columbia. I’ve decided my next writing will be Jenster’s Guide to Highway/Interstate Driving.

Catching Up

Okay. I’ve only got a little time to tell you what’s been going on. I’ll start with Wednesday. That was my trip in to Philly to have my tattoos touched up and the hair under my arms zapped into oblivion. The ride into the city was pleasant and uneventful. I’m telling you, give me some good tunes and a minimum of stupid drivers and I am one happy woman.

Ylena did the tattoo touch ups first. I asked her if she ever had any strange requests for smiley faces or Celtic knots or anything and she said no. Which is a good thing because all she knows how to do are circles. But she does that really well. I am a bit surprised at how real things are starting to look. It’s the first time in nearly three years that I think I look “normal”. Oh, I still have funky scars and will for some time, but I look less like a doll and more like a real person. AND there is no more yak belly hair.

Which leads me to the laser hair removal. Ayechiwawa that hurt!! Not the breast part because there’s not really any feeling there. But the underarms! Cripes!! Though not all of it. I would think, “this isn’t so bad” and then ZAP! I could actually hear the hair frying! And oy, the smell! Burning hair has quite the nasty odor. She did the left armpit first and just when I didn’t think I could take anymore she put an ice pack under there and moved to the right side. That side didn’t seem to be as bad and I think it’s because of some strange nerve sensations since having lymph nodes removed from the left a few years ago.

I go back the first week in May for my second session. I may be less than thrilled at the thought of more sizzling pain, but the end results are well worth it. No more shaving or Veeting for me!!

The drive home from Philadelphia wasn’t too bad except I was behind some bonehead who had to be drunk or high or something. Nobody drives that bad. Seriously. He nearly hit the center divider a number of times until he moved into the right lane. Then he kept driving on the shoulder, swerving back into his lane and over compensating by veering into the left lane. I was relieved when he took an exit, but then felt guilty I hadn’t called 911 because he was dangerous.

Thursday was my thyroid biopsy. Radioactive Girl had given me good advice and an idea of what to expect and I was thankful for that. The unknown and speculation is always much worse than reality.

I laid on a table with my head back as far as it would go, the ultrasound technician on the right and the radiologist on the left. She pressed the wand onto my neck while the doctor poked around with his finger to figure out where he wanted to go in. He had me turn my head as far to the right as I could and then he sprayed the area with a freezing agent. So freezing that it kind of burned. Then the real fun began.

I didn’t feel the needle going in, but I could feel it inside, fishing around for the right spot to extract the questionable cells. The ultrasound tech told me not to swallow or talk. Don’t you know after that I had an insane urge to swallow. The doctor took two samples from one nodule and two samples from another nodule. In between samples the tech would say, “Now swallow as much as you can!” Which was funny because it’s really hard to swallow on command and that’s why she was saying it.

The doctor kept saying, “This just doesn’t look like anything to worry about. I really think these are complex cysts.” There was a pathologist in the room as well to make sure he was getting enough cells for the samples, but she couldn’t say yay or nay. I’ll get the final word near the end of next week, but I’m not concerned at all. I’ve had these things for ten years and they’ve hardly changed a bit. Which makes me wonder why I went through the pain and hassle in the first place. But I just figure it’s my little jab to the insurance company. (Hope they don’t read this!)

Afterwards my neck was a little sore and I’m kind of bruised, but nothing terrible. It’s uncomfortable to yawn and, just like the swallowing thing, makes me want to yawn all the time. But it’s over with and I hope to never have this done ever again. I did get that Venti Decaf White Chocolate Mocha with Whip, though!

Now for the really big news! I have succumbed. We’re picking up our new puppy in about an hour. A Norwegian Elkhound mix from a rescue shelter. She’s a very cute and fluffy little thing. I have to admit I’m getting a bit excited. If for no other reason than I’ll have cute pictures and fun stories for my blog. Hopefully fun for me as well as you. Now if we all can only agree on a name.

The Latest Installment of the Reconstruction Chronicles

My drive into Philadelphia today served as evidence that I’m still a long way away from my New Year’s Resolution. Here’s an example (singing in italics):

Indescribable, uncontainable, you placed the stars in the sky and you know them by name, you are amaz…

Buddy! This is a freeway, not a country road!!

Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go
Or seen heavenly storehouses laden…

Whoa, Lady! Sorry I called you Buddy. What’s with the hair??

And I’ll sing glory, hallelujah, I lift Your name on…

Dude!! Move over!!

Obviously Christian music does not a good Christian make. Although I did get a prime parking spot in the impossible parking garage at the hospital. Luck? Or something else??

The nurse ushered me back to the little room and I changed into my lovely gown while she took down my vitals. Then she left me alone with my book. I was happy. Hey, I’ll take quiet reading without guilt any time I can get it.

After a nice little while the doctor came in. He was not, of course, alone. He introduced me to Dr. Morelli and we shook hands as if we were getting ready to have a business lunch, the difference being I bared my boobage after the hand shake. The tasteless jokes running through my mind right now simply boggle.

The incision revisions look great. Still not perfect, but good enough that I’m happy with them. The nipple, not so much. He told me I had two choices. He could try one more time to build it up or I could just leave it like it is and schedule the tattooing and that the tattooing would probably even things out. So I opted for the tattooing. It was all I could do not to laugh when he said, with a perfectly straight face, that’s what he would do if it were him.

I’m still thinking of something with a Celtic flair. (JUST KIDDING!)

Well, Ladies and Gents. I’m off for a nap. I ran a fever all day yesterday – at one point over 102 – and I’m starting to run a low grade fever now. So I’m going to try to nip it, nip it in the bud!

Revolve in Kodachrome

I took 365 pictures Friday and Saturday. Before you panic, I haven’t posted all of them. In fact I’ve only posted pictures which didn’t include any of the girls. So here we go…

On the bus Friday afternoon:

Does anyone else find this kind of funny?

Friday night traffic in Philadelphia:

Wachovia Spectrum starting to fill up:

The ride home:

My pink slippers, pizza and a soda at 11:00 Friday night:

One of the adults, Stacy, considered riding the air mattress down the steps like a surfboard. Thankfully she didn’t do that. She was our nurse and no good could have come from it:

Our bus at 0-dark-thirty Saturday morning:

This one speaks for itself:

Hawk Nelson on the stage:

All the speakers and singers in a Q&A session:

An empty stadium:

The sunset over the church after everyone left:

Rhode Island Part II: The Wedding

Sunday night I stayed in Glenn & Cristie’s room with Cristie while Glenn slept on a roll away bed in our room. Monday morning was another fabulous breakfast, a trip to the salon and getting ready for the wedding. The minister came to the B&B and we followed him to The Forty Steps where we met up with the photographer. Todd and I pulled double duty for the wedding. Not only were we the best man/matron of honor, we were also the bouncers. We stood at the top of the stairs after the wedding and kept people from walking down while the photographer took pictures.

As you can see it was a gorgeous day for a wedding. The wind was pretty fierce up top, but when we got down the steps it calmed a great deal.

After the wedding we went back to the B&B for a little while and then headed into town for dinner. We had reservations at a swanky restaurant, but ended up eating at The Red Parrot instead. It was casual and relaxed and delicious.

As usual, I took pictures of everyone’s meals, but I’m not going to post them. Not in the mood. Sorry.

When the meal was finished we headed back to the B&B, dropped the newlyweds off and then went for a drive. Here are a few photos of the surrounding area.

This is self explanatory

These were a lot of fun to watch. These guys were on what looked like a wide water ski and the parachutes pulled them over the water, sometimes pulling them twenty feet into the air. I wish it had been lighter outside so I could have gotten a better picture.

I thought this was a cool picture of lifeguard stands.

St. George’s School by sunset.

By the time it was dark I needed something resembling chocolate. After looking for an open coffee shop we ended up at Starbucks. I ordered a toffee almond bar to go with my White Chocolate Mocha, Todd ordered a piece of lemon cake to go with his funky kind of tea, and we kicked back there for a while. The music was good, the company was good, the food was good – what a great way to cap off a great day.

Tuesday morning found us with the usual mixed emotions we have after a get away. We thoroughly enjoyed our weekend. Hanging out with Glenn & Cristie; seeing the sights; relaxing in the B&B garden or a coffee shop; reconnecting as a husband and wife as opposed to a mom and dad. But at the same time the roles of mom and dad made us anxious to get home and see the kids.

So after a breakfast with the wedding couple we hit the road. The traffic was so much better coming home than it had been going up. We only had one glitch in the form of the biggest idiot I’ve ever had the displeasure of dealing with.

If you know the owner of this car, please feel free to kick him in the shins as hard as you can whilst wearing steel-toed shoes. (Please do not translate as a plea for someone to break his kneecaps or anything like that)

The speed limit was 55, we were in the fast lane going about 70 (as was everybody else in the fast lane), when the bonehead came zooming up behind us at an extremely high speed. Todd couldn’t get over because there were cars in the middle lane. He was going to speed up so he could get around them quicker, when the moron pulled over onto the shoulder as if to pass us. There was a cement barrier and not enough room.

That made Todd mad so he didn’t speed up any. Didn’t slow down any, either. When we were past the cars in the next lane he was about to pull over, but the boob shot in between us and the car in the next lane, weaving in and out of lanes in his effort to drive as fast as he possibly could.

Whatever. Todd pulled over into the middle lane and then the fool did one of the dumbest, most asinine things I’ve had the misfortune to witness. He jerked his car into our lane and slammed on his breaks. On the freeway. Apparently he was miffed that Todd hadn’t sped up to let him pass faster.

This miscreant who was in such a dadgum hurry slowed down to somewhere around 30 MPH. He’d speed up a little then slam on the breaks, causing the people behind us to have to slam on their breaks. The jackass was lucky he didn’t cause an accident.

There are no words to describe just how angry I was. Me, the nonviolent one, wanted nothing more than to slug the daylights out of the imbecile. Cars and trucks were whipping around us, honking their horns and gesturing angrily at the blockhead. And the schmuck wouldn’t let up. So I grabbed the camera and shot this picture. Then I flipped open the phone to call 911, but he saw me and zoomed off at the next exit. I like to think that wasn’t his planned route and he was frightened off by my quick and vengeful wit.

What a pitiful loser.

The rest of the ride home was quite nice. Except for sitting on the George Washington bridge in New York. But once we got past that it was clear sailing the rest of the way home.

And now you know the REST of the story.