Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Yikes.

I kinda over scheduled my life this week.  Go here to check out a photo for this week and I will be back with a written post next week.  I wish everyone a relaxing weekend, I know I will need one.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Little Out of Place

We went hiking this weekend.  At least according to the book we got it was hiking.  Turns out Nick was right.  Putting on shoes and walking out into something that is 92% wilderness constitutes hiking so I have had to readjust my definition of the term.  We went out to Cypress Gardens.  There was about a roughly 3 mile loop hike, the ability to borrow flat bottom boats to take out on the swamp, and there we several little educational facilities around the visitors center.  I loved it.  I had so much fun.  It was a great little hike to cut our teeth on and I am ready for more.  If you haven't been over to my photo blog this week you can see some pics of the swamp there.

But really, I have a better story than that.  Last Wednesday, thanks to Groupon, I was able to score a one-night stay at the Woodlands Inn.  It is the only 5 star hotel in South Carolina.  It is fancy to the point of absurdity.  We choose to use our stay this past Friday.  Allow me paint you a picture of Nick and I arriving at this converted, old, southern, previously owned by a rail road tycoon, mansion. We pass the keys to the Mini off to the valet then shove aside all our self reliance and hand the bellman our back packs.  Not luggage, back packs.  The giant kind that are designed for shoving several weeks t-shirts and underwear in so you can traipse all around Europe, or Australia, or Asia and have no qualms about then using it as a pillow on a train car or tossing it on the inevitably once urine/vomit soaked floor of a hostel.  It was these back packs that we handed to the bellman.  We don't know how to travel any other way.  Oh yes, friends, we were so out of place.

I had also made reservations for their dining room that evening and within 5 minutes I immediately regretted the conversation Nick and I had that lead us to the decision that dressing up for dinner surely isn't an issue.  We needed to be comfortable because we planned on eating a grotesque amount of food.  So we show up in jeans, nice shoes, nice tops.  I mean hell, if we could hypothetically meet the dress code for the bars in down town San Diego then we had to be okay, right?  Oh no.  No we weren't.  While we weren't turned away from the dining room, we were the most underdressed people there.

Whatever.  We were there to eat.

Then shortly before our 3rd course arrived Nick kicked me under the table and very urgently gave me this awesome married-person telepathy message of, "Holy shit, you need to turn around and take this in RIGHT NOW."

Nick had a direct view of the little hall that lead to the restrooms and there, in the door frame, braced for dear life, is one very drunk girl in a Pepto Bismol pink chiffon gown.  Her poor date, whose evening just clearly wasn't turning out as he planned, retrieved her and brought her back to the table.

When we approached course number 4 I am pretty sure this girl had spilled something.  Then, when we reached course number 6 it was time for them to leave.  At this point this girl is still very drunk and now truly belligerent to boot.  Her date tries to discreetly help her out of her chair and escort her out of the dining room.  She is having none of that.  Which turned out to be a poor decision.

While trying to tackle the two steps leading out of the dining rooms, she fell.  And not the way a person falls while sober; quick and loud. This was the drunk person 20 point fall.  The one where they look like a pinball bouncing around in a machine filled with jello.  I soon get to embarrassed to watch and look back at my husband who I expect to be red faced and staring at his food because he is very prone to embarrassment by proxy.  Instead, he is staring wide eyed and unabashedly.  Without averting his gaze he says, "Erika, you need to watch this.  This is something you will never see again."  I understood what he meant.  It was a moment that belonged in a movie where, perhaps Steve Carrell plays the well meaning date and Anna Faris plays the unfortunate drunk girl.  I mean, the setting, the costumes, the dialogue that was going back and forth between these two; it was almost artful.

I think it goes without saying, after that, we suddenly didn't feel so bad for wearing denim into the dining room.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

You put on shoes and walk.

A few years ago my husband, Nick, and I starting occasionally looking at each other and saying things like, "We should really be more outdoorsy" or "Dude, we should totally go camping some time."  But we always said it the way many people say like, "Wow, we should totally join a gym" or "We really should get to the theater more."  You know, just a very vague passing statement that has about as much commitment behind it as Lindsey Lohan has at an NA meeting.  That's not to say we, or I, was being disingenuous.  I really did want to do those things but just felt like that was something that should be filed under the category of "for other people."  People who have the knowledge to deal with nature and not get hurt.  People with longer attention spans than mine.  People who are in top physical condition.  People that have the money to travel sporadically, buy gear, hire a sherpa, that sort of thing.  Not me.

Then this past month I both watched and read, "Into the Wild", which you'd think a story about a kid dying (not a spoiler, I swear) in a failed attempt to "live off the land" would cause me to swear off all kinds of nature.  But no, despite the fact that the film was so emotionally jilting it actually gave me nightmares and kinda pushed me off center for a couple days, I kept imagining pretty pictures of Alaska.  Then, at one point I realized that if this kid can live like a vagabond for like 2 years and spend about 100 days in Alaska with a gun, some rice and not much more, surely, SURELY Nick and I could go hiking. 

So one day I turn to Nick and say, "We should learn to hike."

"What do you mean learn to hike?  You put on shoes and walk.  You've been hiking before."

"No, I haven't.  I have just been on like nature walks and stuff.  I mean real hiking."

"What is 'real' hiking?"

"Like where we have to take backpacks.  And we are gone all day.  And we run into a bear, but thankfully we have read up and know what to do and we barely make it out alive...no pun intended."

"You're dumb."

"I know, can we go buy a book?"

So we did.  Now I have about 5 or 6 suggested hikes bookmarked.  They are all short, just a few miles or so.  I am a baby steps sorta girl.  They are pretty local so the plan is; (if the weather holds) get up Saturday, work out, then have an outdoor adventure.  

If I am not back sometime next week just assume I had a run in with an alligator.  Or, more likely, tripped over a log and busted my arm.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Seattle & Me: A Love Story

Here's a little fact about me.  I really like it when things that don't necessarily go together, go together.  It is one of my greatest delights in life.  Quirky little indie band covering Beyonce's Single Ladies?  Love it!  The odd mish-mash of colors, styles and time periods in Baz Luhrmann movies?  All over it.  If you take me to a restaurant where there is something on the menu like a pepper infused fruity martini, or blue cheese chocolate, or hot dogs with mango chutney; I will order it.

I think this might be one of the reasons I love Seattle so much.  The honest to god, true, variety of everything and the way it blends together.  I could sit here and wax philosophical about the arts and diversity and blah blah blah.  But I won't.  Because naval gazing is not really my forte and it's besides the point.  I just really like the unexpected.  The new ideas and odd combinations of old ideas that make the world go forward.  Seattle is a pretty good place to find that sort of thing.

A couple weeks ago Nick and I took a long weekend and made our way back to Washington to get our Pacific Northwest fix.  We saw some friends.  We drank enough coffee to keep a small nation wired for a week.  We stopped by several of our old haunts.  While walking down the main drag in our old neighborhood we noticed that a few new businesses had moved in.  Naturally, I was offended that life could go on and things could change in my absence.  How dare they?  One these new spots was a Tea Room.  I immediately decided we had to go.  

Now when I say Tea Room, I do mean TEA ROOM.  Nick and I had been walking around downtown all day.  A friend that went with us was a wee bit hungover for the previous evening.  Collectively, without even realizing what is happening, we walk into this:

  
  That's right.  Baby blue interior, toile everything, crystal and chandeliers out the yang and we are loud, windswept and in jeans.  Believe me when I say where I live now, we would have gotten at least one disapproving look.  However, in Seattle, amidst the crowd of bridal showers, baby showers, and middle aged women playing tea party, no one noticed us as out of place.  Then, our waitress walks up.  All in black, clearly as per management, but wearing a leopard print apron and donning some visible piercings and tattoos.  The contrast between her appearance and the explosion of Victorian bric-a-brac was overwhelming and perfect.  All three of us instantly fell at ease.  We were still in Seattle, where you can come as you are and frequently strange bedfellows make the best couples.  Love. That. City.

P.S. - See a few photos from around my old 'hood here.