Heading for a Wedding

Back in September, friends in Jackson, WY decided to throw wedding reception for their one year anniversary.  You may remember that I’d been here once before, on last year’s epic road trip, so I was pretty excited to head back there.

The weekend promised some pre-wedding shenanigans, a wedding, camping, and then hiking.   Unfortunately, I ended up missing all the fun before the wedding because American Airlines messed up majorly.  The flight was delayed 18 times, the planes were switched and then had mechanical difficulties…you know when the flight attendants roll out free First Class food, we’re in for a looooong wait.

I didn’t get to Jackson until six hours after my estimated arrival time.  Needless to say, I was not too pleased, and I was exhausted.  But the next day brought some really gorgeous weather, and a super cute chapel in the mountains.

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Despite it being freezing (for me) I put on a pretty party dress and a brave face, and was thankful for my pashmina.  It was quite warm in the sun, but pretty windy, and I kept accidentally pulling a Marilyn Monroe.  Note to self, don’t wear a short dress up in the mountains.

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The outdoor reception at 6pm meant we got some time to nap (yes, nap – I’m old!) and get ready for the party.  It was a Santa Maria style barbecue with endless food and booze, and a roaring campfire.  And they could not have planned the sky to be more perfect.  I’m always in awe of the stuff out West.  The colors are so vibrant and the skies are so clear at night.img_3764

Overnight, we camped out, and were pelted with insane wind.  We did not get tons of sleep, but we still wanted to go crazy and hike a long trail the next day.  Five of the BEST bacon, egg, and cheese on a bagel sammiches later, we set off, and saw some crazy things along the way:

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Apparently this guy had been there for a few years, since my friend told me he’d seen the skeleton in the same place last year, when he was out hiking this trail.

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I love tree roots like this – I blame my Grandma.  But, unlike her, I did not try to take it with me.

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These shells are technically fossils, and are tens of thousands of years old, from when the Tetons used to be a glacier.  They’re all over the place, if you look closely.

Unfortunately, it was my fault the hike was cut short.  In trying to cross a stream, my muddy boots slipped on the log, and I fell in.  I was soaked from head to toe on my right side, and felt like Harvey Two-Face.  As if I wasn’t cold enough before!  Additionally, this was a mile or so into our 10 mile round trip hike, which wasn’t ideal.  I was informed there was a cabin around mile 3 or 4  where we could rest, which was good because I was freezing.  And then, it started to rain.

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Photographic evidence I’m a gigantic klutz.

We found the cabin, which is community-run, and the guys built a fire in the wood stove so I could dry off and warm up.  When I stripped my jeans off, I realized I had a huge eggplant on my shin, mud in my shoes, and a hole in my shirt, but my trusty cell phone was unscathed.  It’s the little things in life, I tell you.

We hung out at the cabin for a few hours playing Bullshit, eating Cupboard Surprise,  and drinking a leftover bottle of Bulleit.  I pretty much ruined the hike (and hunting) for everyone, but they were very accommodating and kind enough to stay with me instead of hiking without me.  I have very good friends.

Eventually, we had to start heading back, so we did, and I was very, very careful to not fall into any more streams.  I made it with some help, and while the eggplant on my leg was swelling even more (it would eventually develop into a huge hematoma that would take six weeks to go away), we all managed to make it back dry and unscathed.

The overcast skies had cleared up, and as we drove down the mountain, we saw a rainbow.  It was a pretty great end to a wonderful wedding weekend.  So much happened in so little time.  There was anger, exhaustion, love, happiness, adventure, and accidents, but it ended with a smile.

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Traveling Without Moving

In the last two months, I’ve done a bit of traveling.  And moving.  And I have to get better about posting when this stuff happens, because there was a lot of stuff in a really short amount of time, and now I am afraid I’m going to forget it…

Think of this as an interim post where I need to at least write down where I went and remember what happened….

First, I was in Jackson, Wyoming for a wedding (it was cold).

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Then, I traveled to Minnetonka, Minnesota for my first work trip (it was cold).  I have no photos of this, because I was in a hotel or an office the whole week, but trust me.  It was cold.

Finally, just two weeks ago, I took a road trip from Dallas, TX to Anacortes, WA (it was cold). I got to see Mount Rushmore, Badlands National Park, and Devil’s Tower, so suffice to say, it was a successful trip, even if it was a bit short.  I think I spent 3.5 days driving over 2700 miles.

The reason for the road trip, you ask?  I relocated to upper Washington state, halfway between Seattle and Vancouver, BC.  Yes, it’s cold here too.  And raining.

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But at least it’s pretty, and I’m sure I’ll have a lot to say when I finally cross the border into Canadia.  I wonder if I’ll run into any Hollywood people there, who are finally fulfilling their promise to leave the country should a certain someone be elected POTUS….

OK! Oktoberfest!

I’m baaaaaaaack!  Did you miss me? 🙂

I promise I will a) not leave you for that long again, and b) will finish both my Hong Kong and Epic Road Trip series, but for now, here’s something else.

I’ve been discovering new places as of late, as my new job offers more more flexibility and freedom than I ever though possible.  And the latest place I discovered was Fort Worth, Texas.  Okay, okay…it’s not really “discovering” it, but it was my first time there.  And no, it wasn’t to visit the Stockyards.   I might get there eventually, but this time, it was for an Oktoberfest.

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Not having the privilege of attending an actual German Oktoberfest, I suppose I can settle for a Texan one.  Aside from the cowboy boots and hats, there were plenty of lederhosen and beer wenches to go around.  It’s as authentic as you can get given the location!  It was sponsored by Spaten, who brews one of my favorite Oktoberfest beers, and with a free 19oz stein, it was going to be a good day.  I even learned some trivia.

img_20160924_164029950I’m not a lush, I promise, and I got to play a gigantic game of Jenga (which I won, thank you very much).  I mean, it might’ve been better if I could have reached the top rung, but then again, beggars can’t be choosers.  There was also a bunch of cornhole, but the Fort Worth hipsters (which seem to be a cross between kids from Williamsburg and a straight up ranchero cowboy – at least they both wear plaid?) had monopolized it.

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I am no match for the beer barrel rolling or the beer wench contest (though some might say I have the wench part down pat), so instead, I opted for food.  And food there was!  This little piggy ate schnitzel (OH EM GEE what have I been missing all my life?), sausages, sauerkraut, and warm potato salad.  There are no photos, because I ate it too fast.  I didn’t get to try some of the other things, like the roasted nuts or the pretzels, but it was time for dessert anyway.

It was cake, and it was delicious.  If I lived in Germany, I’d be a drunken fool that ate schnitzel and ate cake all the time.  And maybe that potato salad.  But definitely the cake.

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You Can’t Go Home Again

That’s what Thomas Wolfe once said.  And Heraclitus said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”  And I am sure I could find a hundred other quotes about how we are constantly changing and everything is different from second to second.  But it was Andrew Lloyd Webber (via Glenn Close) that said this:

P.S. Listen to the song – it’s great.  And she’s great in it.

And every time I go back to racing, despite whatever cerebral fears I have about being unwelcome, or having lost my speed, and no matter how long it’s been since I have walked a course or sat in a race seat, it’s as if I never said goodbye.

This past weekend, I helped out at a rookie school, and I was late to the party, so there were more than enough instructors.  I ended up doing registration and working the grid for one of the elements (aka, telling people when it was their turn).  I didn’t get to ride along, I barely got to walk the course, and the most information I got was in the form of two ride-alongs, both of which I was trying to figure out why a certain element was so freaking confusing. I’ll spare you the details, but it was not a great visual.

Someone I’d never met (but somehow knew me) came over and offered me a ride in his car at the end of the day, when volunteers are allowed to take fun runs.  He’s a relative newcomer (one season under his belt), but he’s hooked and wanted an “experienced driver’s opinion” on the new setup.

IMG_20160321_135006.jpgI was afraid I’d be super slow, but I ended up reverting back to my old habits, and beat the other person (who is generally much faster, and a guy) driving the car.  I was afraid my driving style wouldn’t suit this car, but it was actually a lot better than I’d thought.  We’d each had two tries, and I matched his time and then beat him.  It felt good, and I felt at home.  I was one with the car, and while it was a new meeting, we were talking and dancing together.

At dinner, we had a lot of fun reminiscing, telling stories, and getting back in the swing of things.  I realized that the best thing about racing is that if you truly love it, it becomes part of you, and will always be your home.

No matter how much time I spend away from it, or how much I tell myself I don’t need it, racing brings me back to center.  It helps me focus, and makes me happy.  My friends are there, my heart is in the driving, and despite taking a good 1.5 seasons off, it’s as if I never said goodbye.

Birthday Weekend, Part 1

My third 29th birthday was last Thursday, and what better way to celebrate than a weekend getaway to…Dallas.  No, I didn’t go to Cabo, no I didn’t go on a cruise, or even New York City.  Instead, I packed a bag and set off for the winter warmth of Texas.

Of course, birthday weekend wouldn’t be off to a good start without some birthday present (to myself), in the form of new running pants.  Now all I need are some running sneakers to match 🙂

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These are super fun – the squiggles are actually silver.

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I was told these look like the 80s threw up on my black pants.

Upon my arrival in Dallas, I was greeted with a sushi dinner (being Friday and Lent and all).  It was at a place I’d been to once before, and they were nice enough to let me use my Groupon on a Friday night.  I think I have a new favorite sushi spot in Dallas, though only if there’s a deal.

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IMG_20160304_195029643The first picture is missing a few rolls that came later, and yes, you do see two of the same rolls in each photo.  They’re hands down my favorites – the black caviar one is called the White Russian…what can I say?  I love Anna, I love this sushi roll – I just love my white Russians.

Somehow, despite the weekend being insanely busy, I managed to hit a vintage market (which was actually more of a disappointment – I was hoping for much more.  Maybe next year, though) coupled with a home and garden show.  I got in trouble for taking photos, but there were some cute little cacti and lovely cards.  I also bought some hot pepper-infused jelly.  I recommend the blueberry and the jalapeño mint.

 

 

 

Post market, it was such a beautiful day, I wanted to take advantage of the weather and the marginally safer streets, and went for a run outside.  When it’s 77 degrees out and winter everywhere else, you’d be a fool to not do something outside.  A short 5k around some of Dallas’s main arteries meant that I should probably reward myself.  I had wanted to go to a brewery for ages, and finally made it:  Deep Ellum Brewing Company.  $15 gets you three pints, a souvenir glass, and some prime people watching.  And folks, my PSA soapbox comment:  Just because you think you are hot stuff and wearing leggings in public does not give you permission to go commando.  Especially if the leggings are already stretched tight.  That material stretches further when you bend over, and when that material stretches and becomes transparent….ooof.  That was NOT a Grand Canyon I wanted to visit.

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Dinnertime meant a trip to meet some friends at Chino Chinatown, which was in a fancypants area with lots of restaurants I want to try.  It’s a Latin-Asian fusion, and I have just four words for you:  Duck.  Fat.  Fried.  Rice.  Everything was delicious, but really, that fried rice was divine.  To die for.  I could go back and eat just that.  The drinks were inventive but not terribly strong, so the beers beforehand were helpful.  I’m not an alkie, I swear.  I just enjoy feeling bubbly 🙂  Good conversation, good food, nice area.  I couldn’t really ask for more for my birthday.

Like all good things, weekends come to an end, and unfortunately, so do birthday weekends.  I flew back to reality this past Monday, and have been stuck in an office for the last few days.  Friday brings about Birthday Weekend, Part 2 in DC, when I head down to see some racing friends.  I think I’m pretty lucky – who else gets to have two birthday weekends?

Life is a Highway, Part 22: Hanging Lake

I awoke in Grand Junction with all day to get back to Denver, for my flight home.  It is roughly a four-hour drive on I-70, so, and my flight was early the next morning, so I had time to kill.

A friend had recommended a stop, “some waterfall hike thing” off the side of the highway, and again, all day meant…sure, why not?  I’ll get in one last hike before the end of the trip.  A bit of Googling told me it was called Hanging Lake, and it was going to be just about 90 minutes from Grand Junction.  The drive TO the lake was something else…

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It started to mist, and then rain, and it was a bit chilly.  It’s what I imagine the Pacific Northwest would be like – which is kind of my dream location after Manhattan.

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The hike was actually pretty hard – steep, the steps were just random rocks, and as things were wet, they were slick.  It’s narrow, and it was getting muddy, but still, I pressed on.  There were mini waterfalls and bubbling brooks and rolling streams the whole hike up.  It was not a good time to have to pee.

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I was tired, wet, a little cranky, hungry…but when I reached the top, it was all totally worth it.  It was like a movie, where there’s a hard path to walk, and then you reach the summit that opens up into a magical view.  IMG_20150509_151449416

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What goes up must come down, and on my very long hike down, I got soaked.  It was definitely raining now, and I could barely enjoy the sounds of the rushing streams since I had to rush as fast as I could back to the car.

The storm followed me all the way to Denver (I actually got caught in blizzard-like conditions going through Vail), and had I not taken the two hour hiking detour, I’d have made it without getting stuck.  It was completely worth the (what turned into an) eight hour drive from Grand Junction.  I mean, where else could you see a waterfall off a highway?

Life is a Highway, Part 21: Colorado National Monument

It wasn’t on my original itinerary, but it was right on my way back to Denver.  The Colorado National Monument in Fruita, CO was just a short stop off of the highway, along Rimrock drive.  While there are crazy trails down into the canyons, I had little time to do more than stop and look.  I was on my way to Grand Junction for the night, which was a must, but because I didn’t know what I’d do there besides dinner and sleep, I figured another national park wouldn’t be a bad idea.

The drive was a nice loop, and the scenery was, once again, breathtaking.

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The only minor disappointment I had was that people had told me I was going to see longhorn sheep.  To my dismay, there weren’t any critters roaming around.  As a University of Rhode Island alumna, I was just a teeeeeny bit excited to see a sheep in its natural habitat.  We are the Rhode Island Rams, after all…but no dice.

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Image from sportslogos.net

As short a stopoff as it was, it was still another reminder of the beauty in the west.  I felt a pang of sadness as I drove away, not only because my trip was almost over, but because of what I was going to be leaving behind when I returned east.