Archive for the ‘The Vacation’ Category
Oh right, I have a blog. I remember now.
We are 6 days into our 8 day vacation and well, it’s been really nice. We set up a plan the first few days we were here so that we would be sure to see all the things we wanted to see and do all the things we wanted to do. And then we have failed to ever follow the plan a little bit. Our plan is a bit of a living document, it turns outs.
The first day was a total wash because it took us 2 hours and a near death taxi adventure to get to my brother-in-law’s apartment in Uptown. And then we just wanted to eat and sleep. Or rather, I just wanted to eat and sleep because my husband slept through 4.5 hours of the 5 hour flight. I did not.
Jumping ahead to Monday, we ate breakfast and then lost another half a day to relaxing in the apartment. I know how to do vacation right. So we set out to try to see some Christmas-y parts of New York at night. We were going to go see the big tree at Rockafellar, and the decorated windows and have dinner or dessert at Serendipity. It was going to be pure New York in December awesome.
And then we got off the subway, walked away from the tree, couldn’t find the windows and found ourselves instead in FAO Schwartz and the Apple store. And Serendipity was way too crowded, so we went to an Italian place on the walk home. Like, I said, we are awesome at planning. But we had fun and that’s all I really care about.
Tuesday we tried to go to the Museum of Modern Art, which, naturally, is closed on Tuesdays (I found the signs “we are closed today and every Tuesday” annoyingly condescending. What, like we’re supposed to check the hours/days of operation before going somewhere? Pshaw). So then we spent the day walking back and forth between Times Square and Rockafellar Center because we kept finding different stores we wanted to go into and because again, we are awesome with the planning. And then I cried uncle and made my husband let me sit in a booth at a market/restaurant for an hour to rest my feet. I thought I was going to have to live in that booth because I never wanted to walk again.
And then we saw Spider-man, including a backstage tour (by the way, it never gets not awesome to stand on a stage on Broadway) with my BIL. And the show was seriously great. The stunts are much smoother than they were in January, the plot is easy to follow and the music is awesome. I highly recommend it. It’s a really fun show, though I’ll admit, it’s for a younger crowd. The people behind us (who were easily 70+ years old) were not really big fans. The people in the cast could simply not be nicer too.
Wednesday we literally did nothing all morning and afternoon. And then had a lovely dinner and saw Wicked. That show will never not be awesome. I could see it 100 times and never get tired of it. This was only my 2nd time, but I loved it every bit as much as the first time, maybe more.
I would love to show you pictures of our adventures, but I think I’ve taken approximately 10 so far and most of them are of the Hershey’s “factory” in Times Square, which is actually not a factory, but the world’s most overly decorated tiny store of candy ever.
We have a few more things to try to squeeze in our last 2 full days here and then we have to try to cram everything back into our suitcase and get home on Saturday. I will hopefully be better at writing here once vacation is over and I have nothing but hours to waste on my couch. But don’t hold your breath, I can almost always come up with an excuse to procrastinate, even from the things I enjoy doing. It’s a gift.
And now, back to vacation!
On Friday afternoon I got in my car and drove 120 miles north to one of my favorite places in the world, Ventura, California.
Ventura is the city where we vacationed every summer of my childhood. We stayed in my great-aunt’s beach house every year until I was in college. We packed aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and sometimes friends into that house, sometimes sleeping 4 or 5 to a room if necessary.
In the early mornings we walked on the beach and then to the local donut store through the secret hole in the wall near the liquor store. We stayed up late playing blitz, sometimes for quarters and sometimes for the candies my grandma bought at the grocery store next to the donut shop. Each day we walked down the street to the sandy stairs and up to the beach to build sand castles, to boogey board.
Because we were staying in my great aunt’s house for a really discounted price (they rented it out to people in the summer), we were told we had to conserve resources. So this meant when we crawled back from the beach after a long day of boogey boarding, we had to shower both with another cousin (of the same gender and general age) AND in the outdoor (though fenced off) shower. That shower presented both the greatest challenge and the greatest humor each summer.
When my older sister and cousin were showering, another cousin and I would turn on all the hot water in the house, so they only had cold (yea, not so good with the conservation). In turn, during our shower they would throw buckets of ice water over the fence on us. There was one time that someone, I’m honestly not sure who, threw a bucket of cold water on my sister and cousin and as retaliation my cousin came running out, completely naked, with the hose. And in the process soaked my grandma completely and put out her cigarette. I will never, ever forget the look on my grandma’s face as she sat there, dripping wet, while the rest of us watched behind the sliding glass door.
In the years since those days, my great-aunt and great-uncle have remodeled the house and now live in it full time, so we no longer stay there as a family, but we do visit whenever we’re in town. On Saturday we stopped by for a spaghetti dinner and for reminiscing.
It was the first time I’d really been in the house in years and I couldn’t believe how much it reminded me of my childhood. I remembered the showers, the bunk beds, all those years of sharing rooms, of bringing tape decks and blasting “Manic Monday” and dancing along. There are so many memories wrapped up in that house, in that city. It makes me feel both at home and melancholy for the experiences of my childhood. For my grandma, who isn’t here anymore.
This year it was just a small group of us and I realized, sadly, that the cousins who came along (ages 9, 7 and 2) never met or knew their grandma and sadly, their other grandma has a fairly rapid course of Alzheimer’s. They are living a completely different childhood than I did, with my mom filling much of the grandma void, and with a different grandpa than I knew. A slower one, but a more present one. One who comes to their home once a week and makes pancakes. One who babysits during nap time and whose name (Papa) the kids mastered before almost any other.
Just being there, seeing that beach through the eyes of these kids takes me back to when I was their age. When we had a week of care free time to be kids. To be a family. And though it’s not the same, I’m glad that they can have a taste of the summers in Ventura that I got to experience.
On Saturday my 7 year old cousin Mary looked at me and said, “Katie, how did they put all my favorite places in the world in Ventura?” And I just looked at her and smiled. Because I don’t know.
But somehow they put all my favorite places there too.
As of yesterday morning at 10:15, I am on vacation. I have no classes, no exams and only one assignment, which I already finished, until May 23rd when I start my next clinical. Unlike previous vacations, we don’t have any exciting trips or adventures planned. Part of this is because we don’t have a lot of money to waste right now and part of it is because I really just wanted to be still for a while. I didn’t get a spring break this semester, so the only days off have been sick days and exhaustion was pretty much my normal state of being.
So far, my vacation has included laying on the couch, snuggling with cats, laundry, dishes, laying on the couch, tv and a trip to a bar last night with my classmates and a few instructors. You have not lived until you’ve heard your T65 year old professor say “that Red Headed Slut was delicious.” I die.
And because I know how to do vacation right, I have a really awesome couple of weeks planned.
Tomorrow, I’ll be spending my morning at the gynecologist for what is slightly more involved than a normal yearly appointment, but is unpleasant enough that I’m going to spare you the details. Suffice it to say, it won’t be fun or comfortable. I doubt it will merit a blog post tomorrow, but we’ll see. You just never know.
The rest of the week will be spent cleaning a little, reading a little and then taking a trip home to see my family . I haven’t been home since a day trip in January for my grandma’s birthday, so I’m looking forward to being there, even despite the heat and cow smell. And my mom is even planning a little something for my birthday, so that’s fun too. It has been a long time since I’ve done anything besides go out to dinner with my husband on my birthday (which is not to say that isn’t nice, I just haven’t been near family for a while), so I’m looking forward to celebrating a little early with my family.
The next week, I’m hoping (where hoping is really not meant to sound positive, but rather, need an appointment so I hope they have an open one) to see a dentist for the first time in almost 2 years. Honestly, I would rather spend a whole day at the gynecologist with a paper gown on than an hour at the dentist. I don’t like mouths, I don’t like people in mine and I am so not looking forward to how many cavities I will need to have filled this time. I have not gone to the dentist once in the past 10 years that did not result in at least one, if not more like three or four fillings. I take pretty good care of my teeth, which makes it all the more annoying. My older sister has had 1 cavity ever. I believe I’m somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-16 with a few of them being redone a couple times already. It’s just not right.
My main goal is to just not have that dentist appointment be on my actual birthday. I’ll bet you ten bucks their only open appointments are that day though. Seriously. I’ll bet you.
Other vacation errands include calls to the neurologist about medications, car and renters insurance issues (namely that I never do my paperwork on time and then they send me 10,000 confusing documents that I also ignore until I absolutely have to go into see them in person) and apartment hunting. Relaxation will be squeezed in somewhere, I’m sure, but we’ve done a pretty good job of scheduling everything that needs to be done in the next few months into our small window of freedom.
The silver lining to the vacation of chores and errands and people in my orifices, is that starting Friday, my husband will be on vacation too. His work has kept him away a lot lately and my classes have kept me away as well, so we’re looking forward to the time together because it has been scarce to say the very least. And even though we’re not galavanting away to somewhere exciting, I’m still really looking forward to next week. To time with my dude, my cats, my bed and all the other comforts that time off allows.
1. You ignore the 10 reminders to turn off your cell phone and instead, continue with a phone conversation as the plane taxis out to the runway. And then, when the flight attendant tells you that you have to turn it off, you call her a Nazi under your breath. Not only are you a jackass, but you must have had the worst world history teacher ever.
2. You ignore the 2 carry on rule, because of course when they say one carry on and one personal item, what they really mean is one large carry on suitcase, a large duffel bag and your purse. And your bag of food. Also, the rules obviously only apply to everyone else.
3. Your bag of food contains tuna. I don’t think this requires elaboration. Gag.
4. You feel compelled to ring the flight attendant for a blanket as soon as the plane takes off, even though we’re ascending at like a 45 degree angle from the ground. You’re right, the flight attendant should come running, especially when you ring, unring and re-ring it. For a blanket.
5. You attempt to physically prevent the person in front of you from reclining their seat back. On a red eye flight. And when you fail, instead decide to kick
my the seat back until you fall asleep.
6. You see your child who is old enough to know better, kick someone’s seat back and say, “wow, I didn’t know you could reach the seat in front of you!” instead of stopping them. Surprise, she can and it’s really freaking obnoxious.
7. You put your large carry-on bag in sideways, even after 30,000 reminders that the flight is full and they need to go in the long way. And when someone politely asks you to move it because there is not more space in the overhead bins, you tell them no.
8. You decide not to shower for several weeks before your flight, or alternately give up on deodorant and toothbrushing.
9. You bum rush your way from the back row as far up the plane as you can, before they’ve even officially turned off the seatbelt sign. I’m sure you have a connection to catch, but dude, the airplane is basically a big line and YOU ARE IN THE BACK OF IT.
10. You are seated on the aisle seat of a row with a husband and wife beside you and across the aisle is a man in the window seat and two empty seats. And even though the flight attendant tells you you can move, and even though there’s an aisle seat that’s exactly like the one you’re in, you still don’t move. So that the three of you can sit on a 6 hour flight like a can of damned sardines. Not annoying at all.
11. You have a cough so obnoxious that a stranger gives you a cough drop and everyone else just glares at you…
I’m telling things a little out of order, both because I am too tired to think straight and because I want to. So there.
On Sunday afternoon, my husband and I had some time to kill and we found ourselves across the street from Central Park. So we started walking through the winter wonderland ahead of us.
We walked around snowy hills, around children sledding. We walked around snow drifts taller than our heads.
As we walked past an area of untouched fresh snow, I mentioned to Slappy that I secretly wanted to make snow angels. Because I’d never really made one. I’d never even really played in snow like that at all.
He told me to go play, but I said no. It seemed silly. I knew my clothes would get wet and I’d be cold and miserable for the rest of the evening. I am a grown up, I make grown up choices. And I decided I could enjoy the snow from the path.
Before I could say anything, Slappy cut in through a small opening in a gate into a field of untouched snow.
He threw his arms out
And he fell
And suddenly I just couldn’t be bothered to be an adult anymore. To worry anymore. I engaged in an epic snowball fight with my husband in the middle of a snowy field in Central Park.
And then I fell too.
And yes, my clothes and shoes got wet. And sure, I was a little cold. But I won’t remember that part. I won’t remember anything but that time I followed my husband into a quiet snowy wonderland, thew snowballs and made snow angels until I couldn’t feel my fingers anymore. I’ll remember the time I seized a moment and turned it into a memory.
And how my heart felt whole once more.
One of my favorite parts of Canada, beside the 6 hours we spent at a GORGEOUS spa on our last day in Whistler, was all the time we got to spend walking around, hiking and seeing the sites. And the signs.
Because y’all, Canada has some AMAZING signs.
So, this one isn’t so much a great sign as much as it is an awesome idea. What could possibly go wrong putting an electrical fence around a big body of water? I mean really. Water and electricity are pretty much best friends.
I’m tragically sad I didn’t get to see any of these on our nature hikes. If only because I had almost no reason to keep repeating it’s name. I feel like this animal is a “your mama” joke in the making.
So in the middle of the kayak tour down the River of Golden Dreams (seriously, that’s the real name), we came to an area where a woman was tossing a ball into the river for her dog to catch and bring back. The water was pretty shallow and the dog was having a great time.
As we approached the dog, it decided that it was done playing catch and would then just sit on the embankment opposite it’s owner because apparently it’s the kind of dog that learned a lot from cats. The owner called it and it was all, um, no thanks. I’m cool here.
So Slappy decided that he would grab the tennis ball, toss it up towards the owner and the dog would chase it, thereby solving the problem. It took him close to a lifetime to get the ball, especially with the threat of tipping his kayak over in the worlds largest ice bath, but he managed to grab it, and then thew it, and as predicted the dog took off.
Now, it’s important that you understand where I was coming from on this next part. Because the dog was totally being stupid. Instead of taking the easy and obvious path up to the tennis ball it was acting as though no path existed because it wasn’t right in front of it and so instead, it took the toughest route possible. You know, avoiding anything that might help it. Like a man would. Seriously. The dog was basically being a grown up man.
So as I’m seeing this and thinking that, my husband looks over and shouts, “Ha, it’s going through the thickest bush it could find!”
And without even thinking I said, “Yea, it’s acting like a man!”
After a moment of hysterical laughter from my husband, the guide and the woman on the shore, I realized my mistake.
And then I died of embarrassment.
Our second great adventure in Canada was this cool little pedal/paddle tour that we had read about that was a bike ride to a lake, then kayak or canoeing to another lake and then another bit of biking. Now, we both know how to ride bikes, but it’s been easily 5 years since I’ve hurt my ass sitting on one and Slappy couldn’t even remember the last time he’d been on one.
Obviously this was a great plan of ours.
So we got up at the crack of dawn, caught a shuttle and went down to the bike store where they fitted us for bikes and helmets and we got out on our merry way. Well almost, because neither of us knew how to work gears on bikes and then Slappy broke his. Somewhere around the 2nd minute of biking I turned around and saw him pedaling furiously and going no where. He was a gerbil on a wheel, a really determined to not ask for help gerbil. It was possibly one of the funniest things I’ve ever witnessed.
So once we took his bike back and relearned gear shifts and stopped breaking the really expensive mountain bikes, we got on our way. Just so you know, Whistler is hilly. And tiring. I’d like to blame it on the altitude, but we’re like, not that far above sea level. So yea, it’s just me being horribly out of shape.
When we were nearly finished with the first leg of our journey, the guide stopped and explained that we were about to bike down a long downhill segment and that once we passed the second orange cone we needed to slow down because the turn was practically a 90 degree turn.
One of us, *cough*me*cough* is really good at following directions. And even with slowing down, I still swerved off the path trying to make the turn. And when I came to a stop I saw a look of terror on our guide’s face and turned to see Slappy come within inches of smashing face first into a sign. You know when you scare a guide who’s been taking people on bike tours for 11 years you’re doing something awesomely.
By this point, Slappy and I were both thinking that perhaps we over-estimated our athleticism. And by over-estimated I mean assumed we had some.
Our guide stopped to show us a map for the rest of our rides.
So the bike shop was at the green rectangle, and we biked to the red arrow. Then we were going to paddle across Alta Lake, through that skinny little river (near the purple arrows) called the River of Golden Dreams (dude, I’m pretty sure Disney named that river) and end up at Green Lake, at the orange arrow. Once we got there, we’d bike from the orange arrow back to where we started. Frankly, I was thrilled. That was not so bad at all.
We got situated in our kayaks (single kayaks, our guide called double kayaks “divorce boats” and I agreed) and started paddling. After about 10 minutes of going approximately 1/8th of the way across Alta Lake I realized that hey, that map is on a scale that does not compute with my brain. Oh and by the way, Alta Lake was the warm lake and dude, it was colder than a witch’s tit in a brass bra.
After a lifetime, we made it to the river wherein we found out that it had rapids! and obstacles! like bushes! The only thing I told my husband I wouldn’t do was white water raft, which was awesome because now I was going to get to do it in a kayak. Awesome.
We were given recommendations of how to avoid obstacles such as trees, which included leaning forward into them so you didn’t tip your kayak. You know what is the opposite of your instinct when bushes and trees are headed for your face? Leaning forward. It’s like oh here tree, please come scratch my eyes out.
After the first turn, I was stuck in a bush. After the second turn, I almost lost my paddle in a tree. After the third turn I made it out unscathed, only to then run into a tree branch in the water and get completely stuck. Dear tour guide: your suggestions of wiggle! wiggle! is not so helpful.
14 hours later we made it to Green Lake which was absolutely beautiful, also FREEZING and found our bikes. Which frankly, if I had never seen again, I’d have been thrilled about. Also, it was the hottest day of the year and almost 1 in the afternoon, so a nice mountain bike back to the village was pretty much the best idea ever.
We arrived several hours later exactly where we had started and it was only then that I asked how far we were traveling because would you want to know in advance that you had just mountain biked 6 miles and kayaked 5? I think not.
My legs, arms, back, hands are still crying. My ass may never be the same.
The first real day of our vacation began with me peeling an eye open and realizing that I had slept until 10 in the morning. Internet, this has pretty much never happened. It has especially not happened since the purchase of my cat who believes that 4 in the morning is when he should be fed, no matter which day of the week. And he likes to make his point by walking across our faces, biting our toes, standing on the desktop computer so it makes incessant beeping, and his personal favorite, mounting Karma (the other cat). So yea, mornings start early.
Reason 1 why I love me some vacation.
We got dressed and decided to see about booking some activities and found a place that seemed like a travel agency type joint in the village. We stopped and grabbed Starbucks (yep, even in Canada, and yea, we were really all about the culture here…) and then headed in to book some activities.
The lady was super happy to help us and then she was all, oh and if you go to this little open house right by your hotel we’ll give you 10% off all your activities AND a pre-paid Visa card for $100. And we were like, dude, we’ll go to your timeshare talk for that, we practically make a living off of listening to people talk at us.
So she went on to ask about our ages, which, yea, we were under 30, but we were close enough. And our income. Unfortunately, we are no where near the elusive $100,000 income mark needed. So ironically, because we make less than 100 grand a year, we can’t get a discount. I’d like to add this company to United Airlines on the list of companies who are doing. it. wrong.
Anyways, we booked a few things, one for that day and one for the next and set out to explore more. Which is a fancy way of saying, getting horribly lost in a really cute village area before settling down at a pub with fish and chips and pomegranate cider. Which, HELLO, is delicious and alcoholy. Drunk at 1 in the afternoon on vacation. We are representing our country SO WELL.
A few hours and a nap later (what? it’s vacation), we boarded a shuttle for zip lining. Now, here’s the thing. I really am scared of heights. Truly. And I’m more scared of slamming into things at high speeds. And Slappy was all, don’t worry, you slow down at the end and blah blah blah your neck is going to be fine.
And I believed him.
So we get to the zip lining facility and they start to show us how to ride and then how to land. And I hear Slappy say “uh oh” under his breath. Uh freaking oh. Because on these zip lines? You basically slam into a spring-loaded bag at the end. Awesome.
And the instructors were all, don’t hold on the whole time and I was like, oh, that sounds like a great idea. Let me slide down a rope with a 200 METER (which is like 8000 feet) drop and hold onto nothing. That is a FANTASTIC idea. Maybe you’d also like me to go swim with a bunch of hungry sharks? And then they were all, oh, yea and you’re kind of light, so there’s a pretty good chance you’ll get stuck in the middle of this line.
And then I died.
But in the end, it was very cool, the view was really nice and so far my neck is still attached to my head. I didn’t take any pictures (though we have one that I’ll scan later), but basically all you need to do is picture me, flying through the air, looking alarmingly like I might crap my pants.
And then I got a bug bite on my boob.
I’m just gonna say, it’s a really good thing Canada is so freaking beautiful. Because it is wreaking some serious havoc on my body and maybe a teeny tiny bit on my mind.
(Also, before someone gets bitchy, I am seriously loving it up here. It is gorgeous and lovely and aside from one thing which I’ll tell you about in a few days, it has been pure awesome. So just enjoy the humor and realize that for every humorous tale there are 10 much less interesting but completely wonderful ones.)
We arrived in Vancouver at around 10:15 Saturday night after a pretty pleasant coupla flights up from Los Angeles. We upgraded our seats to the fancier economy and it was like heaven. Seriously. I had no idea what I was missing.
We deplaned and walked to customs with our passports and form in hand. The man at the booth looked at our passports, frowned a little and launched into 20 questions.
Are you staying in Vancouver?
No, we’re headed up to Whistler tonight.
For how long?
Until Friday, like it says right there on the form. (Is he calling me a liar?)
What are you doing up at Whistler?
Can you be more specific?
Can you be more specific?
Um… Sleeping? Ziplining?
At this point he rolled his eyes at me, stamped our paperwork and sent us to baggage claim to pick up our bags, which, incidentally were not free to check because despite the fact that we need a passport to get into Canada, it’s not international. Dear United Airlines, you’re doing it wrong.
We got our rental car and began driving. The drive to Whistler is about 2.5 hours, but it is the most convoluted trip through Vancouver ever. It’s like, make a left turn at the green pole, travel 23.4 meters and make a gentle right near the pink bike rack onto a huge ass bridge over a scary body of water. Lather, rinse, repeat for miles and miles. Oh, wait, no for kilometers. Sorry.
Fun fact: The buses in Canada literally say sorry on them when they’re not running. Even the BUSES apologize here.
Also, the lights blink green. They aren’t just green. They flash the green and yellow, which is really kind of confusing. I feel like it’s also a recipe for disaster for epileptics in Canada.
Once you get through Vancouver it’s a drive up what I am sure is a GORGEOUS highway, but seeing as how it was pitch black, uh, I have no idea. I do know that it is windy and that you feel really powerful going 100 km/hour, which I’m pretty sure is like 35 miles/hour. Conversions are confusing.
So is spelling apparently. Because we kept seeing signs for Squamish and under it was another name with a 7 in the name. Like halfway through the word, there was just a number. Canada is not comprised of spelling bee champions, just fyi.
This sign says Squamish, OBVIOUSLY.
And really long story short, we found our hotel and fell into bed until 10 the next morning.
Hello vacation. I live here.