Thursday, July 26, 2012

2,052 Miles

At the end of June/beginning of July, Mike and I were very blessed to be able to take a much-needed vacation. Mike was just wrapping up "busy season" hours and it was June! He worked so hard, I knew he was burned out. Even though we couldn't afford to fly anywhere we were determined to get a vacation this summer. We both thought that the "Ultimate Road Trip" we took in 2009 to the east coast was one of our most fun vacations with LOTS of memories. So we decided to do Ultimate Road Trip #2! Due to a business trip we had to shorten our vacation a little and cut out Oregon. Even without Oregon's coast... we were jam-packed on activities. We left at the end of June and spent about 10 days driving from SLC-->Boise, ID-->Yakima, WA-->Vancouver, BC--> Seattle, WA--> Mt. Rainier Ntl Park--> Boise, ID--> and home again to SLC, UT. The trip was roughly 2,052 miles (according to the wonderful Mapquest!) and it was 10 awesome days of relaxation, only one real mini-crisis, driving through some of the greenest beauty I've ever seen, negotiating the best hotel deals possible, listening to awesome books on MP3, laughter and lots of flying by the seat of our pants! And yes, I am capable of doing that, in case any of you doubted. :) The trip was too long to give a day by day account-- and truthfully none of you would read it (we all know we sometimes just skip to the pictures). So I just thought I'd give a few of our 565 photos we took (you're welcome for not attempting to put them all up... could you imagine how long that would take with Blogger?!) and give you some short descriptions. Hope you enjoy!

This is Mike's sexy "I packed the car and I'm ready to roadtrip!" pose.

Thats a "2" for Ultimate Road Trip 2--not a peace sign. I am definitely not cool enough to pull off the peace sign... yet.
Our first stop was the big ID.
Where we got to visit with some great friends from my Au.D. program. We spent that night in Boise with Mike and Ashley who were so generous to put us up.
In our long drive from Boise to Vancouver we stopped for lunch in La Grande, OR.
And ate at Mt. Emily's Ale house. Mike is enjoying his beer battered fish and chips.

Part of road-tripping is the experience of eating on the road. So we packed a cooler and had some thrifty lunches. PB&J, anyone?
You would think 8 hr driving days would kill you but with a view like this out the window, an awesome book playing and your love beside you... it's not a bad life. ;)
After Boise, we stopped in Yakima, WA for the night. It was a mid-way point between Boise and Vancouver. We decided to break out our bikes and rode around the little town.
The next day we made it to Canada! If only we could get in...
See we always pack our gun on long trips. Unfortunately, we didn't think that one through in crossing the border. When they asked us if we had a gun we realized, "yes, we did!" They made us pull to the inspection port and police officers approached our car like we'd just committed a bank robbery. They kept asking us, "Why do you have a gun??" We kept telling them, "We are driving across the country thousands of miles, camping in the forest, we always bring it on long road trips..." They were NOT nice. They made us empty our pockets, lift up our clothes and show them our waists, leave our cell phones and put us in a building while they searched every inch and bag in our car. This took about 30 minutes. Then they sent us back in line to the U.S. to get rid of the gun before we came back. We had to go to the U.S. side and wait in a loooong line to get the gun back. And now we were really presented with a problem. It was a Saturday at almost 5 p.m.-- what do you do with a gun?! Not that we would but they said if we tried to cross and sneak the gun over that we were facing jail time. Ya, never felt like so much of a criminal in my life. So there we were in a little town on the border trying to figure out how to get rid of a gun approximately 15 min. before businesses closed for the weekend. Despite what the Canadians said, you can't just mail a gun. Which we figured out by calling several shippers who again acted like we were terrorists before telling it wasn't legal to ship a gun unless you hired a carrier to ship to another carrier. We also were having a hard time finding a place to store it. Mike said we should just go back to Seattle and forget Vancouver. No way! I had booked reservations and el cheapo that I am, I wasn't walking away from my $200. At 4:55 p.m. we raced to a storage facility which we paid to rent for the whole month (because they didn't do weekly rentals), omitting the information that we just needed to store a gun for the weekend, paid the man $55, unloaded the gun and some of our camping stuff (because at that point we might as well).... and 3 hrs later we crossed the border successfully into Canada. Hallelujah!
In the mornings in Vancouver we rode our bikes about 5 blocks to two little french bakeries and enjoyed a breakfast of ham and cheese croissant, danish and juice. Yum! Interesting fact about Vancouver, the city is built to be seen by bike so they have designated bike lanes that are separated by cement medians on the roads. It was pretty cool and definitely convenient for us.
Our favorite thing about Vancouver was riding our bikes all over. We rode along the water into Stanley Park. Miles of green forest with trails right on the edge of the city. It was incredible!

Above Mike is riding through the trails at Stanley Park. It also happened to be Canada Day while we were there which was really fun because everyone was decked out in Canada gear with painted faces. Kind of fun to celebrate Canada Day in Canada and then be back in the U.S. for the 4th of July.
We rode our bikes to Prospect Point at the edge of Vancouver. Here we looked out across the mysterious looking water to the ferries going back and forth-- so mystical and so cool. I could watch the ferries for hours, I am so fascinated by them.
Inside Stanley Park we ate packed lunches in the park and then hit Vancouver aquarium. Mike is a good sport to go with me. I love aquariums and we went to one on our last road trip in Chicago-- so we had to go to this one. It was fantastic. Beluga whales, dolphins, jellyfish, otters, octopus, butterfly garden... I loved it.
We rode along the ocean on bike paths almost the whole way back to our hotel.
After 2 nights in Vancouver we drove to Seattle and spent the night just outside the city. When we went up to our room at the hotel it hadn't been cleaned or made up. So when we went back down to the front desk they upgraded us to a suite. Sweet!
The next morning we woke up and hit Pike's Place Market. We had read that Lowell's had the best breakfast in the market and we weren't disappointed. It was delicious!! Mike got the corned beef and hash (one of his favorites). He orders it most places we go for breakfast and is on the search for the best in the U.S. I had a breakfast sandwich that rocked my world. Buttered texas toast hugging scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, cheese and spinach... yeah, it was GOOD.
I absolutely love Pike's Market. I could walk around it all day. All the fresh produce, flowers, smell of fish, great energy... it's infectious and I would love to own a bakery there.
This is the famous gold pig that sits right next to where they throw the fish. We actually got to see them throw 2 fish. I don't know why that is so fascinating but it is really good entertainment!
Outside Pike's Place Market
We spent 1 night in Seattle and then drove to Mt. Rainier Ntl Park for 4 days. These were some of our favorite nights! Here we were able to just relax, not worry about hotels or restaurants, see some gorgeous nature and play some intense card games! And learn that Mike is desperately bad at games that have absolutely nothing to do with skill and just luck. ;)
You have to roast hot dogs while camping! I am not a hot dog lover but for some reason eating them after being roasted on a fire make them delicious to me? In the background you can see our amazing campsite. It was so green and lush. It didn't rain on us once while we were there but the temperature was always really comfortable in the day-- high 60's. I think because it was so moist as well, I didn't have any allergies while we camped. Which is pretty much a modern day miracle.
Is this scene not amazing?!
Keeping with the thrifty theme... we had chili and corn over fritos chips one night. It's amazing how delicious things taste when you're camping. I was also proud on how cheap we could eat. Dont judge-- It's my jewish blood.
We hiked to Silver Falls. It was huge!
It wouldn't be a vacation without a kissing picture.
This is on our hike up to Silver Falls. I mostly included it because I just find him so darn attractive. ;)
One day we went up to Paradise-- the base of Mt. Rainier where there is a visitor center.
We also went to the famous Grove of Patriarchs where trees are over 1,000 years old!
We took some goofy pictures...
and some forced ones (where I made Mike do this)...

We ate some delicious food...
And saw some take-your-breath-away scenery! All in all, it was an awesome trip and we were so grateful to be able to take one this year. We hope to carry on the road trip tradition and one day be taking our kids on Ultimate Roadtrip #15!

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Dabble in DIY

For years, I've seen tons of DIY projects that I've wanted to attempt. Now that I finally have some time... I'm too afraid to start any of them! Crazy, I know. I didn't see that one coming. I mean, hey, my mom is one domestic, costume-making, re-upholstering diva. And we share blood after all! I may also have had a small history of sewing quilts, baking cakes, painting, etc. that I was hoping to rely on. However, I'd like to make an important note and recommendation here... the skills you want to actually keep: don't ignore them for 15 years. Ground-breaking, I know. But really, you think you can fall back on those "Pssht, I used to do that!" until you sit confused looking at the bobbin and sewing machine wondering how these two parts once magically entwined to make a stitch. SO after a few failed trips to Hobby Lobby & the Fabric Store where I left empty-handed and kicking projects to "the future when that domestic bone kicks in" again... I decided to pick something uber simple to start.

So here it is! It's basic ladies. BASIC. Don't judge. This isn't Pinterest & I am not the Pioneer Woman (wait... she cooks). Well, whoever her crafting equivalent would be.

Back when I was selling my home, I invested in a few pieces to stage it to get top $. (PS. Not to be random here-- but did I even blog that we sold our home in February of this year?! Hmmm... maybe should do that.) Anyway, one of the pieces I bought was a Target breakfast tray. It was brown and worked well with some books & candles on my old coffee table-- but now we have a new sofa and all the brown was just BLAH. When we moved I also introduced a new color scheme. Mike and I actually use the tray quite a bit and I was tired of storing it after every use. So I decided to make the piece fun with some color so it could be part of design as well as dinner.

To begin, I made a very manageable trip to Hobby Lobby and for around $10 bought my supplies.
Then I laid out my tray in my garage where I could get crack-a-lackin at it! See the tray: functional but not fun.
Let me just pause here and say, "How cool is spray paint??" Really, this stuff turns painting into the easiest job on the planet and for the impatient of us... it dries in less than 10 minutes. Sweet! So after a few coats of the modern day miracle called spray paint... I now had the same tray in white. An improvement but not necessarily fun yet. So I took some scrap paper of my choosing (golden yellow damask) and mod podge-d it to the inside of the tray. Yeah, mod podge is pretty cool too. Glue + Sealant = Happy Girl

And in a very simple jiffy... I now have a new tray that instead of blending into the brown of my ottoman-- pulls in my little pops of yellow in the room. Ta-da!
Meg can craft (if only simplistically)! It may seem simple and lame to all of you blog-following, pinterest-loving maniacs out there (I'm included in that group actually) but it was one small step towards doing all those big things that made me want to panic in the Michael's aisle. A little spark to warm up the fire, we'll say. Hope you enjoyed my dabble in DIY!