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Saturday, July 31, 2010

This Summer Is Brought To You By The Letter "F"

For my last week of professional vacation I took off for the Sunshine Coast.  Originally planning to spend July and August house-sitting up there, I revised my vacation plans and invited myself up to Auntie Nadine and Uncle Owen's summer house on Keat's Island. And, because I'm practically a professional at vacationing now, I went into this one with gusto, soak up every last moment and ray of sunshine.

Food:  When visiting Auntie Nadine, one thing is for sure: you will eat. And not just any ole food, but tastebud tantilizing morsels of goodness. I'm just going to go ahead and rub it in.  Watch out, you're gonna start salivating.  It could get messy.     

Crab caught 100 yrds off the dock, sockeye salmon caught off of Port Alberny, Wild Rice Blueberry Salad.

BBQed corn on the cob

Garlic butter for dipping crab

Beef burgers and Brawts from Bavarian Sausage House

Cherry and Bleu Cheese Napa Cabbage Slaw (a la Joe Springrose style)

Gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate chip cookie from the hippie bakery in Robert's Creek

Family & Friends: My Aunt and Uncle really are some of the greatest people I know.  I love their relationship and who they are as individuals. When I grow up I want to be just like them.  And, like bees to honey, great people attract other great people.  For the weekend they had long time friends to the island making for a full house hold of laughter and conversation.

Uncle O serendades after sundown

Auntie Nadine and left-leaning baby Gracie

Master Griller Mike at the BBQ, which is strategically placed with the most 
advantageous view. That's genius.

Mary, Liz, Mike, Owen, Nadine, Russ. Some of them have been friend for over 40 years. 

Auntie Nadine and her beautiful niece

Fireworks:  It happened to be Sea Cavalcade weekend which is a weekend of boating festivities, parades, and such.  Gibsons, the mainland town across the way from Keat's Island hosts the whole shindig, kicking off the first night with a show of fireworks.  They first start by blowing up a boat (for poops and smiles, Idon'tknow?) and then follow that show by a surprising quality fireworks display.  A group of 10.5 of us gathered on the dock, doused in bug spray and waited for the evening to turn dark.  I propped up my feet on a chaise lounge chair and watched the spectacle. Rough life, I know.  For someone who doesn't particularly rank fireworks high on the list of thing I enjoy, they did a bang up job.    

Fun:  Each morning I would get up and go for a run along the trail out to Salmon Rock.  Turns out, trail running is, well, hard. Up hill, down hill, rocks, roots, and alike make for an uneven path, and for someone as uncoordinated as myself, particularly challenging. It's all worth it when you get to the end the view opens up to a beautiful island landscape with nothing but ocean and sun. 

After the morning run and breakfast, I'd put on a swimsuit and eagerly await for the sun to hit the dock, usually around 12:30ish. Once the sun hit the dock, we'd head down and settle into our respective chairs to read and soak up the sun. When it got too hot, we'd jump in the ocean for a swim and a rapid cool down.  Then repeat, only to get up to get lunch and drinks.  I read To Kill A Mockingbird which was absolutely stellar and I briefly toyed with the idea of naming my first son Atticus. He's claimed the spot of my new favorite male character in literary fiction.  But I digress. Uncle Owen gave me my first boating lesson in Jer's boat, which I found myself a big fan of the throttle (no surprise there), but not so comfortable with the pounding waves on that particularly blustery day. Really all it did was make me want a boat more and more friends with boats.     

Efffffffff me:  

Try as I might to maintain a level of grace, this trip put those notions to the test.  But true to form, I have returned with, not one, but TWO stories capturing grace, or lack thereof.  Allow me:

1.) When the tide is up you can walk right off the dock to a set of stairs and straight into the ocean.  Now, we all know the best way to get into the water is just to go for it rather than doing the beach ballet.  So I decided it take a dive and made a gross error in judgement. Head first, I dove in only pulling up of the downward motion soon enough to scrape my body along the bottom of the barnacle encrusted rocks below.  My tummy grazed first, followed by the tops of my thighs, and then the tops of my feet. The chill of the water arrested the initial pain, but once I stepped foot out of the water the wind stung the scrapes and sucked the breath from my lungs.  Not knowing the extent of the damage I look down to discover the bloody mess.  From belly button to pelvic bone, a nice size bruise/puncture on the right thigh, a left shin that looked like it was pummeled by a meat cleaver, and the tops of my feet looked like a scratching post for a cat. I dove into the shallow end of the ocean and lost.  After excusing myself to go upstairs, I winced, moaned, and bandage myself up.  Nadine came up to see to that I was ok and in the most empathetic way she was made sure I was ok and then reminded me what a wuss I was.  It's true, I am a wuss, but for once, I thought the wincing and moaning for this round was deserved. While I was assured I looked graceful going in, it really doesn't matter when you hit the bottom. Note to self: Pull up before going too deep.  

2.) On the last day I wanted to get one final swim before heading for home.  So, I jumped in, swam about and went to the ladder at the end of the dock to climb out.  I'd climbed out here before with no trouble and Nadine climbed out not a minute before me.  Placing my foot on the second rung out of the water, the rotted wood rung breaks beneath me dropping my leg like a piston straight down taking a healthy gouge out of the side of my right thigh.  My first instinct? Laugh.  Like, for real, my mad-klutzy skills are in full force.  I survey the damage and while the skin in only torn a couple inches the bruise is instantaneous and the size of a baseball.  Like deja vu, I go up stairs, clean up, bandage up, take some pain meds.  At this rate I'll keep Band-Aid and Neosporin in business.  The best part is that I have a 5 hour drive a head of me to sit on the new wound.  That was going to be comfy.  


After waiting in line unprepared for 3.5 hours to catch a ferry home, I shacked up a friend's place just on the other side of the border, playing it safe instead of driving the rest of the way home.  Hesitant at first as it was well past 1:00 am by the time I finally was rolling through town, he insisted and already made up my bed.  Well, twist my arm. Besides, how could I resist a slumber party with a good friend (cough*dreamboat*cough).  

With a week of great food, time with family and friends, beauty beyond any words or pictures could capture, I knew I could head to work with rejuvenated spirit.  I'm tan, I'm rested, I'm blessed beyond measure; the latter the most important yet easiest to forget. 

It was a wonderful way to wrap up this extended vacation stage in life.     

Monday, July 26, 2010

Wiley Creek

It's no big secret that I'm not much of a camper.  Last year in an effort to become more of an extrovert I showed up solo on a camping with a big group of people, of which I only knew 4 of the 20-ish.  Although I didn't exactly stay overnight last year, I met some absolutely wonderful people and since then have shared some amazing meals, laughs and great times.

After the success of last year's venture, the group reunited with some new additions, and we headed back to Wiley Creek for a second year.  Keeping with tradition, I did not stay over night; I did doused myself head to toe in bug spray. Not quite jump-into-an-icy-river temperature out, I restrained myself from jump in knowing it couldn't possibly end well.

With Joe as head chef extraordinaire camping food resembles something served at a 4 star restaurant.  Last year it was herb stuffed trout and a variety of salads, this year it was gourmet beef and pork burgers seasoned with garlic, cloves and smoked salt and pepper topped with a cherry bleu chesse slaw. It all looked so amazing I hovered around the grill in eager anticipation for my burger to come off the grill (vegetarian vacation).  With food and booze galore, we settle around the fire, chatting, laughing, and s'moreing.

Vegetarian Vacation

Not your average camping cuisine.

Even after a couple red beers Julie could still rub her head and pat her belly.

A man, his flask and his best friends.

Steve built the fire pit down on the beach were we got this enormous fire blazing hot.  Definitely nudged the chair back a few inches with this guy.

Of course.

Then Joe said, "Look, the bats are out." and with that I maintained my composure and gracefully exited the premises.  I was out.  Same time, same place next year folks. I might just make it over night one of these years.

Tacoma: Not as Bad As You Think

Once upon a time, 3 people became friends and made grand plans to go exploring.  That was 2 years ago and we finally got ourselves together enough to head south to MB's hometown of Tacoma.  Now, being born and raised in the Seattle area, our family never went south of Seattle unless we were going to the airport.  It seemed useless and foreign (kind of like the mid-west).

It being the third Thursday, admission was free to the Tacoma Art Museum and Glass Museum so we thought what better way to spend  a beautiful afternoon than cruising the museums.  Dale Chahuly of glass blowing fame is from Tacoma and thus rich in the medium.  Union Station is home to chandeliers and other installations that capture sunlight and to a turn a seemingly hum-drum white space into a show case for color and light.  

MB was the tour guide extraordinaire and showed us around the lovely town of Tacoma, from Union Station to Stadium High School (of Hollywood fame) to the old quaint neighborhoods with cobblestone roads and classic architecture.  It was a feast for the eyes. See for yourself:

Of course food was involved.  We stopped for our post-museum meal at Indochine,  hip and chic Asian fusion cuisine.  After spring rolls, pad thai and panang curry we were stuffed to the hilt and soon to enter food coma.  

Maybe it was the sun, maybe it was the culture, maybe it was the friends, probably a combination of it all, but I decided that Tacoma isn't such a craphole after all.  


You're Welcome

THIS IS HIP-HOP! from Airwave Ranger on Vimeo.

Courtesy of PB

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Picking Up Where We Left Off Four Years Ago aka My Longest Post To Date But Totally Worth It

There are people that you meet that through some inexplicable nature of who you are and who the other person is, time and distance has no significant role in your friendship. One of those friendships is my old roommate.  We met at the Columbia Publishing Course and through our mutual love of all things book and publishing related, became dear friends who would run together, laugh together, drink together, smoke together (just once), shop together, cook together, be piss poor together, and share our first year in publishing and New York City together.  Four years ago was the last time I saw EJ in the Lexington apartment on the Upper East Side of New York City.

Over the last four years we've kept up intermittently via phone and email and whenever we talk/write, it's like no time as has passed, like coming home at the end of another day at the office.  When EJ called a few weeks ago letting me know that she had graduated from grad school at Wake Forest, was going to drive across the country and hang out at a beach house in Arch Cape, Oregon, my first response in a single breath was WhenI'mtherehowlongcanIstay?

The weekend finally arrived where EJ was finally on the left coast and in the time zone close enough for a visit.  I hopped in the car and head south to Cannon Beach/Arch Cape via Vancouver (see below).  As I was leaving Vancouver the sun was setting on the wheat fields over the Oregon country landscape and I couldn't help by smile. Smile so much I couldn't stop.  I had the music up, sun roof open, belting tunes at the top of my lungs, drunken karaoke style.  It was probably the combination of just seeing an old friend, anticipation of the reunion with EJ, the sights and scenery, the full service gas stations, that an overwhelming feeling of elation consumed me.  My face hurt I was smiling so much.

When I finally got to the beach house we quickly picked up right where we left off.  We chatted about everything under the sun.  She had made a gluten free vegan dinner of grilled veggies and arugala salad that we ate for dinner outside on the deck in the mist and began the conversation with, "Ok, four years, ready go." We talked about the ups and downs, the heartbreak, the good times, the memories, the first race we ran together, the trips to Boston, the giggalo/hairdresser down stairs neighbor, old classmates, co-workers, the future, the families, and philosophies of life.  We can literally talk about EVERYTHING with complete openness and acceptance. So rare and refreshing, it's the piece I treasure most about our friendship.

EJ put me up in the loft master suite with a deck off the side through french doors.  You could see, hear and smell the ocean.  Surely this is a tiny slice of heaven I thought.  Fresh from scratch homemade blueberry pie and Tillamock Vanilla Ice Cream made up for our too healthy dinner and we settled into watching, New York, I Love You, so apropos for the occasion.

The next day we set out for a hike to Cape Falcon.  A beautiful hike which paralleled the cliffs of the Coast line.  We found surfers.  It was all so very gorgeous.

After our Cape Falcon hike we headed to Manzanita, Oregon, for some jumbo burritos the size of our heads. Stuffed beyond comfortable we thought it a perfect idea to top off the tummy with Tillamock Orange Sherbert from the local ice cream cafe.  It's the very least we could do to support the local businesses.  Besides, I live by the hard and fast rule that no vacation is complete until ice cream is consumed.


After we gorged ourselves on burritos we headed to Cannon Beach in an effort to see puffins.  Coincidentally, we strategically planned it for low tide so that the tide pools would be easily accessible and the marine garden would be crawling with life.  Look what we found:

Kinda gross/Totally awesome

Puffin sighting was a bust so we headed to the comforts of home to curl up and read.  I would like to note that we did park in front of the library and across the street from the book store that we spent a significant amount of time strolling through, chatting about authors and books.  It's just what we do. 

My last day there quickly became a day of beach marathoning. 

Beach #1: Arch Cape.  I have decided that there is no simpler joy than that of a dog chasing a tennis ball on the beach.  

This place is micro and macro beautiful.

Beach #2: Cannon Beach - Probably the most famous beach on the Oregon Coast, E and I set up camp for a couple hours to soak up some sun and read some good books and occasionally catch a snooze. Life is hard for the vacationing kind.

Beach #3 Manzanita

So I didn't actually get a picture of us falling asleep on the beach because I was too busy digesting the excessive amount of Mexican food we ate. The proof.

After the beach marathoning it was time for me to head home.  The saddest part of leaving isn't missing the beaches or the sun or the small coastal town, but saying bye to EJ.  She starts teaching 9th grade English at Norfolk Academy come fall and those kids have no idea just how lucky they are. 

I sincerely hope that another 4 years doesn't pass before we see each other. We made plans for a repeat appearance of the first race I ever ran coming up in April and plans for a half marathon sometime in July in Ireland.  But not matter how much time passes, I know that next time we see each other, we'll pick up right where we left off.