Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Our Arizona Trip

So Jason and I decided to go play in the great state of Arizona. Our main reason for going to visit was to meet the lady from whom we got Korra and Tenchi. While things did fall through with us meeting her, we did get to see her kennel, so that part was awesome.

Our trip began when we flew into Phoenix on the morning of Friday, June 2nd. From there, we drove around, just exploring the city. We wanted to go eat at Cooper’s Town, which is Alice Cooper’s restaurant. But, Phoenix doesn’t seem to believe in free parking in their downtown area or even reasonably priced parking (the closest lot, which was connected to the restaurant, but not owned by it, was $5 if it was before 2pm or $10 after. By the time we were looking for lunch, it was after 2pm), so we decided it wasn’t worth eating there. Besides, the odds of Alice Cooper being there was slim… Right?

We ended up eating at a little hole-in-the-wall called Paradise Valley Burger Co. OMG, it was sooooo good. This place has been on the show “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” with Guy What’s-His-Face. Jason got the Burger Brulee which has: fried egg, bacon, onion, burnt sugar, and havarti. His eyes rolled back into his head with the first bite. And the second. And the third. I just got a “plain ol’” cheeseburger. But I did get French Toast fries (which were little pieces of French toast with a cup o’syrup for dipping). I’m embarrassed at the rate those things went into my mouth.

Before our trip, Jason had looked up some places that we might want to visit while in Phoenix. One thing he found was the Phoenix Art Museum, which has a “Firefly Room.” The picture he saw looked cool, so we decided “why not.” As we were pulling into the parking lot, I saw a banner stating that the museum currently had a limited-time Samurai exhibition. This was meant to be!!! We spent the majority of our visit looking at the Samurai exhibition. Fascinating. Just fascinating. Finally, we went traipsing along to find the Firefly room. Oh sweet baby cheez-its!!!! I posted a video on Facebook, so if you missed that, you’ll have to see about finding that. The video or any pictures do not do this room justice. It’s a pitch black room and it’s slightly a maze (you go in one door and have to navigate to the exit). The walls, floor, and ceiling are mirror. Hanging from the ceiling are thousands of strands of lights. The lights flicker and change color. It’s just simply breathtaking. Jason and I had the room to ourselves for the majority of the time we were in that room. At one point, we just plopped down in a corner and just watched the twinkling lights.

After the museum and lunch, we decided to head on to our first stop of the night – a little town called Payson. This was just a small town and basically a half-way point between Phoenix and our next true stop, which was Snowflake. We did nothing more than eat dinner at a little restaurant right beside our hotel and then pass out from exhaustion. Saturday morning, we woke up to continue our adventure.

In Snowflake we learned that roads can look like driveways. And we were very, very happy that the full-sized car we had originally reserved through Hertz had been unavailable. Meaning, they upgraded us to an SUV for no additional charge. We needed an SUV or a truck to navigate around out there. In Snowflake we got to play with some Malamutes and just see where Korra and Tenchi came from. We got to play with some puppies and tried to figure out how to smuggle one or 3 into our pockets. We actually got see Tenchi’s sister. She was the spitting image of him, so that was a stab to our hearts.

After spending a couple of hours there, we left the property to head to our next stop – the Grand Canyon. On the way there, we planned to stop in Winslow. If you’re a fan of the Eagles, then you may be familiar with the song, “Take It Easy.” If you’re not, then there’s a line in the song that references Winslow, AZ. The town very smartly has profited from the song and a corner is made up as a tourist trap. There’s a store on the corner that plays Eagles’ songs all day. There’s even a flatbed Ford truck at the corner. This pit stop was one of the highlight of the trip for me.

Now, on the way to Winslow, we saw a sign for a meteor crater. Of course we were intrigued and decided to make that a waypoint. Whoa, seriously glad we did. Check out the website ( Look at these stats: Meteor Crater is nearly one mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference and more than 550 feet deep.

After seeing the crater and the corner in Winslow, we continued on to the Grand Canyon. Now, Jason warned me that I was going to dislike him a great deal Sunday morning because he wanted to be in the park in time to actually watch the sunrise. Just in case you need more clarification, this means: we had to wake up when it was still dark outside, head into the park, traipse around until Mr. Obsessive found the absolutely perfect spot so we could park our rear ends and then proceed to listen to the specially built playlist that he had created for this moment. While I did want to stab him a bit when he first woke me up from our “nap,” (by the time we got dinner and checked into our hotel, a nap was really all we had time for) I have to admit that it was worth it. After experiencing the beauty of the world waking up, we headed back to our hotel for another nap before heading back into the park… Because, as you can probably guess, Jason also wanted to watch the sunset. I hate to admit that by the time the sun was setting, I was over the Grand Canyon and just ready to move on to our next destination. While Jason did again have a specially made playlist for this event, I only half-heartedly listened/paid attention.

Finally, we were done with the Grand Canyon and that area. Thus began our journey to the city of Sedona. Unfortunately, we drove in at night, getting to our hotel just around midnight, so we didn’t get to see what exactly we were passing (in fact, pretty much all of our city hopping happened at night like we were gypsies, so there’s quite a bit of Arizona that we haven’t actually seen). Monday morning when we went out to explore, we were shocked at the beauty of the area. There’s a little airport in the area with a great overlook, so we headed there. We definitely want to take a trip back to Arizona to stay longer in the Sedona area and, hopefully, I’ll get to go skydiving there. I can’t even begin to imagine how beautiful that jump would be (the one time I’ve done it was out of the Salisbury airport… It was a great site and all that jazz. But, jumping over the red rocks???? Yes, please!!!).

Leaving Sedona on Monday, we headed to the small town of Jerome. Population of 462. Although, that’s about to go down to 461 as one of the residents is moving away. However, we met a guy named Taylor who literally that day found out his girlfriend was preggers, so the population will go back up to 462. Jerome was the coolest little town. It was a mining town back in the day and supposedly completely haunted. The town plays up the haunted aspect. We had lunch at a place called the Haunted Hamburger, where I had a Ghostly Burger. We took a ghost tour that evening (Taylor was our tour guide). We went to stay in the big hotel there, which is called Jerome Grand Hotel ( Doesn’t it look spooky?? It was once upon a time a hospital. We went into the lobby, but decided not to explore the hotel any further. We’ll save that for when we stay there. There can be long waiting periods for the hotel! If you want to stay there on any given weekend, you could be looking at a 6 month wait. If you want to stay there around Halloween (and specifically that night), you’re looking at a 3 year wait. There is a specific room that has a sordid past and to book that room has a year waiting list. They actually had a vacancy on Monday! The guy in the lobby said that they usually do have rooms available during the week. We almost stayed there. We wanted to so badly. But, alas, we had already booked our hotel in Scottsdale (one of the neighboring towns to Phoenix) because we were flying out Tuesday morning. Since Jerome is about an hour and a half from the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, we thought it best to just stick with the hotel we had already booked.

This trip was, for the most part, so much fun. Jason and I had a blast just roadtripping around the state. We got to see a good bit of Arizona, but there are still quite a few places that we didn’t get to visit. Hopefully, those places will be in the itinerary the next time we head out west.  

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Thailand Saga Continues Again

[Sheesh, I'm starting to think this Thailand saga needs a theme song and catch phrase. Like a soap opera or something. Anyway - on with the story...]

Finally, finally, finally, we reached our hotel. After saying goodbye to my family and promising my mom that we'd call her whenever we woke up, Jason and I headed up to our room to pass out. At this point, we had been awake for basically 48 hours.
This is where we stayed.

But once we got to our room, we discovered that our room was actually a little apartment! I wasn't expecting that and am not sure if Jason was or not (he had booked the hotel, but hadn't told me much about it).

When you entered, you came into the full sized (albeit) small kitchen. Continuing into the apartment brought you to your "living room." Off of the living room was the bedroom. Next to the bedroom was a room o'closets. Seriously, it was a room with 2 built in armoires. Next to that room was the bathroom. We suddenly had a burst of energy as we checked out every nook and cranny of our "apartment."

One thing we thought was neat - the electricity didn't work unless your room key was plugged into this slot on the wall. Although, this kinda sucked because when we would go out exploring the city during the day, we couldn't leave the air conditioner running to keep the room cool. And trust me, the winter in Thailand is disgustingly hot. And humid. You don't even wanna know what summers are like there. Here are a few pictures of our humble, temporary abode:
Here's the kitchen

Our living room. The door leading to the bedroom is on the right. 

The bedroom

The room of closets!

One view from our balcony

Another view... I can't remember if this is
from our window or from another area of the hotel.
Anyway - we finally satisfied ourselves with checking out our new home and the weariness hit us again. I don't even remember if we bothered with PJs or if we just stripped down to our underroos and collapsed in the bed. Either way, it was around 4:00am (I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open at this point and wasn't making coherent sentences). We slept for hours. One of us would sort of wake up, but then we'd get pulled right back down into Sleepy Land. We finally woke up around 2:00pm I woke up in a panic thinking I was wasting precious sightseeing time. I called mom to let her know we were up and she gave us directions to my aunt's house, which is where mom stays every time she goes to Thailand.

Let me back up and give you a little family tree... My mom has 4 siblings. In order of age its: my aunt (A1), my mom, another aunt (A2), an uncle, then another aunt (A3). Mom says I take after the youngest aunt... especially in my short temper (that's another story). I would tell you everyone's names, buuuut I couldn't even begin to spell them. Mom stays with A1. My grandmother usually lives with my uncle (I think), but when mom is visiting, grandma stays with A1 since my mom is there. A3 lives close to my uncle and is the primary caregiver to my grandma. She also comes to stay with A1 when mom's in town... So, A1's house gets pretty dang crowded for a few months every other year or so.

After Jason and I got showered, we ready to continue our adventure. So we headed to...

[to be continued]

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Thailand Saga Continues

After making it through customs and all that fun mess, we started to make our way out of the airport to find transportation to our hotel only to find a small handful of my family waiting for us: my mom, my brother, one of my aunts, and 3 of my cousins.

My mom and brother had flown to Thailand on November 1st. Jason and I had wanted to go with them so that all of us could be there together, but we were using the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday as a buffer against our vacation time from work. My mom only makes it home every few years, so when she goes she stays for about 3 months. My brother, on the other hand, was actually flying out at 5:00am that Monday morning. So, they decided to just come on to the airport to wait for Jason and me to get in and then we would all hang out in the airport until Rob (my bro) could board his flight. 

At this point, Jason and I had been up for way too long. We were giddy with the excitement of being in Thailand and seeing my family, but we were also a little delirious with lack of sleep. We ended up hanging out in the airport from a little before midnight to 3:00am (at the time Rob was able to go through the security checkpoint to head to his gate. While there, we took a few pictures of the decorations around the Bangkok airport:

After saying goodbye to my brother, we piled into the van with the remaining family members and began the journey back into the heart of the city and our hotel. On the way to the hotel, Jason and I were hungry, so we stopped at a 7/11 (which you can find on every other street corner in Thailand... this is NOT an exaggeration) and picked up a few provisions to tide us over. Here's one of the things we bought.

Yes, those are salmon flavored Lays chips. They were good, but not as good as the seaweed flavored ones we had later in our trip. But, I digress....

Finally, finally, finally, we reached our hotel. After saying goodbye to my family and promising my mom that we'd call her whenever we woke up, Jason and I headed up to our room to pass out. At this point, we had been awake for basically 48 hours. But once we got to our room, we discovered that our room was....

[to be continued]

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Step into my time traveling machine...

So I'm trying to get back to my blogging ways. I truly miss documenting some random moment of my life - whether it's big or small. Just some piece I found amusing/interesting/confusing/whatever.

If you've read my previous posts, you saw that the one last I wrote before my huge sabbatical was about Jason and me buying plane tickets to head to Thailand. I really meant to keep notes throughout our trip so that I could regale you all with stories of the adventures Jason and I had. But, I think I just got too caught up in enjoying myself. Honestly, I'm even bad with taking pictures of things. Thank God for Jason. We wouldn't have nearly as many pictures as we do if he hadn't been there. He's so much better about documenting our capers, at least with photographs.

For some some reason, our Thailand trip seems to be at the forefront of both of minds. We've been bringing it up a lot lately to some of our friends. This got me thinking about my blog and how I should relive that vacation now and in a bigger way.

So we bought our tickets in June 2013. We had to wait until November for our actual trip. From the moment we bought our plane tickets we went into overdrive with making lists - of things we needed to buy for the trip and things we needed to do before we left. Some days we felt that our leave date would never get here. Other days, we were shocked that time was flying by.

Finally, the magical day arrived. We left on a Saturday morning at the ass crack of dawn (did you know there's a 4:00am as well as a 4:00pm???). Our awesome friends, Josh and Jessica Coleman, took us to the airport. We were planning to drive ourselves because we didn't want to be an burden on anyone since we had such an early leave time. But, Jess wouldn't hear of it. They also picked us up when we came home. Thankfully our return flight wasn't too horrible of a time.

Anyhoo - we got to the very quiet airport. It may have been early, but you can bet Jason and I were WIDE AWAKE with the excitement of where we were going. This wasn't just one of our normal vacations. We were going to a new continent. I was going to see family members I hadn't seen in 18 years. Hell, I was going to meet family I had NEVER met. Even cooler - Jason was going to meet the maternal side of my family for the first time ever!

Our flight took us from Greensboro, NC to Washington, DC. From there, we headed west to Seattle. Then to Japan... then finally Bangkok, Thailand. Amount of time it took us to get from North Carolina to Thailand? 30-ish hours. Amount of time I slept on the planes? Umm, just a couple of hours and not all together. Usually, I get in a moving vehicle of any kind and I'm out. Don't even need sleeping pills. But, nope, not this time. I don't know why either. Our longest flight (Seattle to Japan) was about 10 hours. Jason had decided we should spend the extra money to upgrade our cheap ass seats to get not as cheap ass seats. I'm glad he did. We had a little extra leg room and our own personal TV screens built into the seats in front of us. Even better - the row we were in only had 2 seats, while most of the rows on the outer edges of the plane had three. This was nice because we didn't have to worry about some random seat mate. I popped in my headphones and proceeded to watch 4 movies back-to-back.

We landed in Thailand around midnight on Sunday night/Monday morning. Remember, we were up at 4am our time, Saturday morning. At this time, the time difference between here and there as 12 hours on the dot, with Thailand being ahead (so if it was, say, 4pm Sunday afternoon here, it would be 4am Monday morning in Thailand).

After making it through customs and all that fun mess, we started to make our way out of the airport to find transportation to our hotel only to find...

[ be continued]

Friday, July 11, 2014

Better than yesterday

On July 11, 2013, I attempted and conquered a race called The Bear Run. This is a 5 mile race in which you climb 1541 feet of elevation. Upon crossing the finish line, I burst into tears and proclaimed out loud that I was never doing this race again... If you've read my previous posts (yes, I am aware that it's been over a year since my last), then you know that I've said that before about other races and that I usually don't listen to myself. This post is about one of those times.

I really was not planning to do this race again. Seriously. Scout's honor. This run was so hellish, especially the last mile and a half. At one point during that portion of the track I turned to the girl behind me (a complete stranger) and announced that "I don't think I can do this." Her response was to shrug her shoulders and make a "what do you want me to do about it" sound. Thanks. Thanks a bunch for the encouragement.

Registration for The Bear opened in February. I messaged a friend of mine (Shellen) who had done this race last year to let her know. When Shellen heard that I wasn't planning to do this again she said, "But, we did this together last year. It wouldn't be the same without you." The next thing I knew, I was registered and freaking out. But - eh - I had MONTHS to whip my lazy butt into gear. "I'll be fine," I told myself.

The days started to fly by, as they tend to do. Suddenly it was the day before the race (Wednesday, July 9, 2014). Now, don't get me wrong - this entire time was not spent sitting on my couch eating bonbons (don't I wish???). I'm active in Crossfit and I do a bunch of other races even though I am a horrible runner. I completed my 3rd half marathon in April (remember from an earlier post how I said I'd NEVER do a second after I completed my first? If not, you can catch up here (side note - I'm actually registered for half marathons # 4 and 5! The fourth will be in October of this year and the fifth is in April of next year).

 All day at work, my nerves would suddenly start tingling as I would think about what was happening the next day, but having to actually do some work helped to (somewhat) keep my mind off of it. Then 5:00pm came - quitting time. Immediately, my nerves went into overdrive. The butterflies in my stomach grew exponentially and started their dance of destruction. This was the day before the race. I knew this meant I'd be a wreck the day of.

And I wasn't wrong. I woke up and just knew I was going to throw up or burst into tears... Or both. The killer was knowing that I had to wait until 7pm for the race to start and a close to 2 hour drive to get to the town where this race is held. The good news about the commute - a group from my crossfit box was also doing this race and we had rented a van so we could carpool together. That helped a lot. They are such an awesome group. Another thing that helped - throughout the day, numerous people sent out encouragement to me and my teammates on Facebook. My heart overflowed with the love that was being sent our way.

Once we got to the race site and got checked in, I was literally shaking with fear. You have to hit the 3 mile mark by a certain point or you get picked up by the sag wagon. Of course I didn't want to be picked up. Not only would that mean I wouldn't get the awesome race medal, but that would mean I'd be a failure. If I made it past that marker, the race gets even harder than it was prior to that point and I wasn't looking forward to that at all. I just wanted this race to start and then for me to get it over with. And I didn't want to let anyone down along the way (myself, my fellow group members, the "fans" who had encouraged us).

Finally, the starter gun was shot and we were off. Immediately, the majority of my nerves quieted down. Suddenly, I just knew I was going to be awesome (well, as awesome as I can be). I was going to kill The Bear. I could do this... And I was right. I made it to and past that 3 mile marker like a champ. I crushed each mile like there was going to be ice cream waiting at the finish line (damn, why oh why wasn't there ice cream???). I finished this race for the 2nd time in my life.

And, ya know what? I was smiling as I came across the finish line this year (SO much better than the tears last year). Also? I DIDN'T proclaim that I wasn't going to do this race next year.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Leavin' on a jet plane

Finally, finally, finally!! The Hubster and I are going to Thailand. I'm so stinkin' excited!

I've been to Thailand twice now - the first time was when I was 12, the second time I was 16. That was eighteen years ago. Jason has never been. He's never met that side of my family (my mom's kinfolk).

From pretty much day one of our marriage, we've been wanting to go. But, we just focused on the want and not so much the plotting. I think we would get discouraged at the cost. Plane tickets to Thailand are very expensive.Very. I don't know why we never set up a game plan to save up... maybe the task was too daunting?

But, just over a year ago (maybe closer to two years now), we started a savings account that we decided to build up for house projects (redoing our master bathroom, for example).  To help us build up this account, Jason split up his paychecks. Each pay day X amount would automatically go into our checking account and Y amount would go into that savings account. So, in the year and change that we've been building up that account, we've got a nice bit saved up.

In July 2012, Jason and I were visiting my hometown. My brother informed me that he and our mom were heading to Thailand at the end of 2013, so why didn't Jason and I come along too? Why not, indeed!

Up until today, the plotting that Jason and I have done for this trip has just been somewhat dreamlike. Still not exactly a concrete being. But, today, shit got real. 

We bought our plane tickets. That's right - We. Bought. Our. Plane. Tickets.  We've waited so long for this. We still have to wait until November. But, knowing that we have an actual date set... Eeeee!!!!

Next steps? Booking our hotel. Planning our itinerary. Buying some necessary items. Counting down the days. Making pack lists. Actually packing. Actually GOING!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Birds

"Close the  car door! What are you thinking??! Close the damn door!"

These were things my manly husband was screaming shrilly at me. I could only stand there and laugh, tears rolling down my cheeks, my abs hurting. That is, until I turned around and realized that maybe Jason did have a reason to be frightened. I was alone on the outside of the car, having closed the door at some point in my doubled-over-laughing stage (and I'm 99% sure I heard the click of the door locking). With them

We had gone to the beach for a little get away. This particular evening, we had just had dinner and were cruising around, just seeing the sites. We came across a parking lot that led to a dock for boat drops. I saw a few seagulls just flying around and I had the bright idea.

I'm going to feed them my leftovers! 

Jason tried to put the kibosh on this idea right away. But, I tend to not listen to him. In my head, things sound like fun and they. must. be. done. 

As I was preoccupied with getting out of the car and reaching into the backseat to get my to-go box, I didn't notice what Jason was seeing. The few seagulls had multiplied into MANY. What the hell? Are they part rabbit? The MANY seagulls had gathered behind me as I was still facing the car. They were waiting expectantly for whatever I had in the magical box. This is why Jason was screaming (shrilly) for me to close the car door. He was scared that the mass of birds would fly into the car to see if there was more grub to be had. 

All that was running through my head at this time was "oh shit. If I open this box, a scene from Hitchcock's The Birds is going to be re-enacted right here, right now. I don't wanna be Tippi Hedren!"

But, I wanted to feed the birds. Part of my tiny brain was screaming, "that still sounds like fun. Do it." So, I slowly opened the box, keeping my eyes firmly locked on the gull closest to me, staring into those beady black eyes, mentally telling him not to make any sudden moves. 

I gently pulled a piece of flounder from my box. I peed a little when all the gulls cocked their heads and inched forward. With a girly scream (I'm pretty sure it came from me and not from The Hubster safely locked in the car), I flung the fish as far away from me as I could. Thankfully, it worked. The gaggle of gulls immediately went into a frenzy to get the small piece of food I had tossed. 

Being braver, I threw more food in the fray (still throwing it as far away as possible), getting a kick out of watching the birds fighting over the meal. Jason, who still was refusing to get out of the car, cracked the window a little, imploring me to get back in the car. 

"Don't you think you've fed them enough? Why don't you get back in the car while they're distracted?"

With a sigh, I concurred that maybe it was wisest to stop while I was ahead. Safely back in the car, I dissolved into giggles again as I replayed in my head - and then out loud, imitating Jason - his frantic cries, demanding that I shut the damn car door . 

Good times.