True Love

I am taking a break today from my vacation re-cap for three reasons:

1. It has come to my attention that many people are jealous of our awesome trip and I don’t want to rub it in further by talking, yet again, about our vacation.
2. All of my vacation pictures are on my computer at home.
3. I had a funny conversation this morning that is worth repeating.

One of my good friends Noelle (author of Jaded Inspiration), and I were chatting online this morning. Typically, we both sit at our desks at work and complain about our lives to each other. Common conversations include the following:

1. Complaining about the fact that we are smarter than everyone else we work with.
2. Complaining about the fact that we are smarter and better looking than our significant others.
3. Our love for Dunkin Donuts
4. Reeses (Noelle’s dog)
5. Emailing/texting each other when the other one isn’t online to figure out what not.

Below is the conversation I had with Noelle this morning:

me:  HEY!
Noelle:  supppppp
me:  not much. pretending to do work but really working on my wedding
Noelle:  sweeeet. hows that going
me:  pretty good. finalizing our save the date and guest list. i can’t decide if i should give you a plus one
Noelle:  dont bother
me: how has bobby (AKA her husband Justin) been behaving lately?
Noelle: hes been fun. he came with me to the gay bar
me:  no way. that is true love
Noelle:  yup. he loves me

So yet again, Noelle has shown me all that I have to look forward to once I am married. Honestly, I can’t wait. Right now, I can’t even convince Matt to watch “Brokeback Mountain”  – just wait till we are married!

Conquering Half Dome

When Matt and I decided to go to Yosemite, I left most of the planning to him. He talked about going on a few hikes, one in particular called “Half Dome.” I didn’t pay much attention to him during these rants… I figured “hey, I’m from New Hampshire. I practically grew up in the mountains. How hard can this hike actually be?” Well, let me tell you…hard.

When I was in 8th grade, my school spend the first third of the year preparing for our trip to Mt. Cardigan. We practiced outdoor survival skills like getting up tents, starting soil, measuring trees and analysing soil. But more than that, we learned teamwork, independence and real problem solving skills. The memories that I formed in 8th grade, particularly on our trip to Mt. Cardigan, are some of the fondest that I have from my childhood.

When Matt was in 8th grade, his school took a trip to Washington D.C. They toured the city and spent the night in a hotel. Honestly, there is no comparison between our experiences. Don’t get me wrong, I love the city of D.C. and think that the city has a lot to offer. However, going with your school won’t provide a very different experience than if you took a family vacation to D.C. That is what made Mt. Cardigan so special. It was an experience that was created by our teachers and more importantly, by ourselves.

For the past 9 years, every time Matt and I go on an outdoorsy type vacation I compare it to Mt. Cardigan. When we went hiking in the White Mountains, it wasn’t as intense as Cardigan. When we went hiking and camping in Havasu, Arizona it wasn’t as intense as Cardigan. When we went canyoning and ice climbing in Interlaken, Switzerland it wasn’t as intense as Cardigan. When we went cliff jumping in Capri, Italy it wasn’t as intense as Cardigan. Matt has grown to detest Mt. Cardigan because none of our trips can ever live up to those 4 days.

Well, after successfully hiking to the top of Half Dome last week, I am happy to report (and Matt is EXTREMELY happy to hear) that it was more intense than Mt. Cardigan. After more than 16 miles, 9 hours, 3 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,  and more than 8 liters of water later we successfully completed Half Dome.

Although we both walked away extremely tired with sore muscles, it was worth it. The views from the top were worth the sheer terror I felt while hoisting myself up the “cables” at the top of the mountain.

So now when Matt and I take our vacations, they will have to live up to the experience of conquering half dome… although, Cardigan will always have a special place in my heart.

A Walk in the Woods

After our awesome weekend in San Francisco, Matt and I left for our second adventure, Yosemite. We drove to the edge of the park on Sunday and stayed in a nice little motel for the night. We ate pizza and I was introduced to the beer, “Fat Tire” which Matt has been raving about for years. Thankfully the beer lived well up to expectations and I am now on a mission to get this beer for our wedding. I spend the evening organizing and packing, and then re-packing my bags while Matt watched his favorite TV show, True Blood. We went to bed early in preparation for our big camping experience.

In the morning we drove the remaining 50 miles into Yosemite. The views were breathtaking. It is hard to capture the sites on a camera, but we tried anyway. After finding our campground, we set up our tent and stored all of our food in our bear locker, before heading out for our first hike.

We started hiking up a 4 mile path that was a little more challenging that I had anticipated. I was sort of shocked to see so many people on their way back down, who looked like they were not in shape or dressed appropriately for the hike. I started to feel slightly pathetic as I struggled to make my way to the top, thinking that these people had done the same hike as well. Well, when we got to the top, an area called glacier point, I was surprised to see a parking lot full of cars, buses dropping people off and a large store containing souvenirs and all sorts of food. Seeing this, I felt a lot better about my struggles, as most of the people we had seen on the hike, had probably taken the bus up. It was a little weird to see such a commercialized area in the middle of our hike, but that didn’t stop Matt and I from taking advantage of it and getting some ice cream! Clearly we aren’t as hardcore as I make us out to be.

After satisfying our hunger, we continued on our hike. When we started the day, a 13 mile hike sounded like a good idea. It was about 6 miles in, that I realized that is the same distance as a half marathon. I would never go out and run 13 miles without a little  preparation. Suddenly, I felt a long way from our campsite…

Matt and I hiked on, climbing our way to the top of three different waterfalls. As hard as the hike turned out to be, the views were incredible. You don’t see sites like these in New York, that is for sure!

After 8 hours, we finally made our way back to the valley floor. With sore muscles and blisters on my feet, I was so exhausted that I didn’t mind sleeping on the hard ground, the hot temperature inside our small tent, or the bears that were walking around our campsite looking for left over food.

The good news was that we survived our first hike. The bad news was that our hardest hike of the trip was still 2 days away. Up next, tackling Half Dome…

San Fran Recap

Matt and I flew into San Fran on Friday night and spend the weekend there with the BEST hosts ever, Susie and Chase. They planned a very busy, yet not very typical, weekend in the city for us. Susie is originally from San Fran, so she prides herself on showing people the “real” city; not the seals at the piers or Ghirardelli Square.

We started off the weekend with some amazing food at a small restaurant on Chestnut Street. I fell in love with their neighborhood, they live in the Marina District, where the streets are lined with cute shops and minimal “chain” stores. The only “negative” to living in San Fran that I could find was the cold weather. When I left New York, the weather had been sunny and 90 degrees. When we arrived in San Fran, the weather was cloudy and 70. However, as a native New Hampshirite, I don’t really mind the cold; especially when it comes to dress. Unlike New York, where the “going out dress code” consists of short skirts, tank tops and heels (which I clearly never partake in) regardless of the temperature, from what I gathered, the dress code in San Fran was jeans and North Face fleece coats which is MUCH more my scene. I remember one time a bouncer in New York gave me a hard time about getting into the bar because I was wearing Uggs and a North Face fleece coat.

Saturday our day began very early with Chase starting things off at 8am. We ventured over to the Ferry Building where countless vendors lined the sides of the streets selling fresh fruit, corn, vegetables, bread, meats, and the world’s best coffee, Blue Bottle Coffee. We walked around a bit, purchased some breakfast and bought some food for our upcoming camping trip to Yosemite.

After the Ferry building we went to the Filbert Steps in the city. We walked the steps which serve as the only access point to various apartments and houses. I kept thinking how inconvenient it would be to live there until I realized that it is pretty much the same thing as living in a 4th or 5th floor walk up in NYC.

Following the steps, we rented kayaks and paddled our way around the bay. We enjoyed beautiful views of the city and numerous seals. They let us get pretty close as they sun bathed along the docks.

Our next stop was the Tourist Club, a german social/hiking club in the middle of the woods. We took in the views and enjoyed a beer for about an hour. The whole time I was there, I felt like I was at a summer camp for adult hikers.

On our way back to Susie and Chase’s apartment, we stopped at the beach and another bar/restaurant area with views of a popular surfing beach.

We capped off day one with a mexican dinner and drinks for Susie’s Birthday. By the time we found our way back to their apartment, I practically fell into bed. Needless to say, it was a very long, but very fun day.

On Sunday we woke up and went to Boudin Bakery for breakfast. Afterwards it was off to Sports Basement to pick up a few camping supplies and then to the Golden Gate bridge where we were able to take some classic tourist pictures.

Our last San Fran adventure was to trip to the Point Bonita Lighthouse. Here we made out way over the rickety old bridge that brings you to the lighthouse that sits on the very tip of the bay. While the lighthouse was impressive and had unbelievable views of the city, it was overshadowed by who came along with us.

After getting engaged, I have become obsessed with wedding blogs. At first I was intrigued by this mystery world that I didn’t know existed. It is crazy what you become exposed to once you put a diamond ring on your finger: wedding blogs, expos and countless decisions to make. Well, one of my all-time favorite wedding blogs is written by Susie’s high school friend. So on Sunday, I was introduced to the master mind behind the blog, Snippet & Ink. Needless to say, it was like meeting one of the big celebrities in the wedding world.

I was sad to leave San Fran so soon; however Chase and Susie made it seem like we had been there much longer than 2 days.

Up next… our trip to Yosemite. Stay tuned!

Fast Food Nation

I did not grow up in a fast food friendly household. Occationally if we were driving to a swim meet my mom might stop along the way at a fast food place just for the ease and convenience of it. The only other time I really remeber going to fast food was when we went to Florida to visit my grandparents. Every year during our trip, my grandfather would take Abby and I for our annual happymeals. It was always so special to go town to mcdonald with him and get chicken nuggets or a cheese burger and of course the ellusive toy. Those were the days when there were normally two options: one for a boy and one for a girl. I constantly found myself torn between my pincess girly side and my tomboy side when it came to making this crucial decision. Now whenever I get mcdonalds (which isn’t very often), I always think of those trips with my grandfather.

Coming to the west coast means palm trees, outdoorsy activities and of course, IN-N-OUT BURGER. A trip here wouldn’t be complete without the classic cheeseburger and fries! Yum!

Tourist club

Not for tourists.

Chase and Susie are amazing hosts. After the farmers market we went to kayaking under the Golden Gate Bridge. We saw seals and amazing harbor views. Afterwards we drove outside of the city and are currently at the tourist club, a hiking club not for tourists.

A German style house with unbelievable views, a bar and great company.

I have been in San Fran for less that 24 hours and I am ready to move here!

Welcome to San Francisco

Matt and I arrived in San Fran last night! Let the vacation begin.

As with all good vacations, we have already had a few amazing meals. Last night we had a range of small plates featuring of eggplant, meatballs, mussels, and delicious bread. We followed up with the most amazing sausage pizza EVER.

This morning, our hosts Chase and Susie brought us to the Ferry building. Basically it is a giant farmers market with fresh fruit, flowers, organic foods and olive oils.

Below is a picture of our mexican breakfast! Yummy!

More pictures from the market to come later.

The Power of Being a Bridesmaid

This past weekend I had my first experience as a bridesmaid. I will be honest, while I was very honored to be asked to share this special day with my college roommate, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. Well let me tell you, it was awesome. I am ready to become a bridesmaid full-time. I am not sure what Katherine Heigl’s problem was in the movie 27 Dresses.

The day began with 5 hours in the hair salon. This probably sounds like an awful experience, however with mimosas, bagels, coffee and gossip magazines things can ONLY be good. I have limited experience with hair styling; it would be a good day if I did something other than a ponytail. Because I was always swimming, I never felt like the efforts of blow drying my hair were ever worth it… in a few short hours I would be tucking my hair underneath my cap and diving into the pool again… So, it was a great think that my hair stylist had the creative insight to think of something to do with my tresses.

When I originally received my dress, it was a little tight. I then spend the next few weeks obsessing that I wasn’t going to be able to get my dress zipped up on the day of the wedding. I had this vision of myself walking down the aisle on the big day, with the front of my dressing looking ok, but the back being unzipped and my back hanging out. But when I put the dress on, a took a deep breath and my friend zipped it up all the way.  I don’t think I took another breath until the end of the wedding.

The ceremony was beautiful and I felt so honored to be standing up next to the happy couple. It gave the entire wedding experience a whole new feeling. I was a part of their vows, a witness to the awesome promise that they made to each other. Their happiness became my happiness and we all walked out of the church with huge smiles on our faces.

During the reception, we were instructed to create a 25 second dance move to go along with our grand entrance into the room. Anyone who knows me, knows that I have exactly one dance move: jumping. And to make things worse, the groomsman that I was paired up with was a 19-year-old, 6’4″ boy who wasn’t the world’s best dancer either. Well, after much thinking and not much result, we finally came up with something. Matt’s friends do a move called “the jump rope” where they “swing” a pretend jump rope and have people jump/dance in it. Let me tell you, it is a huge crowd pleasure at the bars, so I thought it would be an even bigger crowd pleaser at a wedding. Well, I was certainly correct. I am confident that we kicked the wedding off to a good start. Who would have thought that Matt would have delivered me a winning dance move.

As the evening progressed and the dance floor heated up, I experienced the awesome power of the bridesmaid dress. I could dance in the middle of the dance floor, dance with the groom, dance with the bride, dance with the groom’s dad… anything I wanted to do was perfectly acceptable because I was a bridesmaid! Who knew the power that came with being in this elite club of 5-6 girls with matching dresses.

By the end of the evening, I was exhausted, had completely “danced my hair out” and was so happy for the newly weds. Thank you to Moffat and Casey for including me in this special day. It could not have been a better weekend and I could not be happier for you both.

An Educational Vacation

My parents number one priority for Abby and me was our education. We were exposed to limited tv, an abundance of books and we played games like brain quest, trivia pursuit and scrabble. Things were no different when we were on vacation. They would try to incorporate as many “educational opportunities” as possible as we traveled across the country. We visited museums, studied nature and learned about the local areas we visited. One of the most memorable was during our road trip from San Francisco to Seattle.

In between camping and hiking, my parents thought that we should stop in and learn about the local economy. When we drove through Tillamook, Oregon Abby and I were treated to the educational experience of the Tillamook cheese factory. Because honestly, what vacation wouldn’t be complete with a tour of that?

While the tour was certainly educational, both Abby and I swore off eating cheese for months afterwards. To this day, when I think back to that trip, my stomach gets a little queasy. No one should ever be exposed to that much cheese product.

It is nice to know that not much has changed with my parents. Even though Abby is 30 and I am 27, my parents are still concerned with our education. Yesterday after a morning stroll on the beach, we drove over the Hyannis to learn about the local economy through a tour of the Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory.

While it didn’t last long, the tour was filled with loads of information and we all left feeling just a little bit smarter. The free samples didn’t hurt either!

Thank you Mom and Dad for continuing to educate me and find free food to keep my belly happy!