Monday, January 23, 2012

The tail end of the trip

After the wedding and the reception and the afterparty and the good sleep and breakfast with Ben's parents and the shoe shopping, we met up with two fabulous D.C. folk, Adam and Blake.  I know Blake through Adam, who happens to be one of my very favorite people - we were on the same swim team throughout high school.

We got a lovely brief tour of the district right off the bat - drove around a bit and learned about their favorite (and least favorite) spots, then went to check out the botanical gardens.  They were beautiful.  It's a place I would love to see at all times of the year.  After the gardens, we went to the Natural History Museum to see the dinosaurs, gems, etc.  A perfect end to the afternoon.  Afterwards, we went back to the apartment and had a glass of wine, and made dinner reservations for Sushi Rock - yes, that's a rock and roll themed sushi restaurant.  

At the restaurant everything was appropriately named, seeing as it was a rock and roll place - I mean, the edamame were called "The Sex Pistols," and my two sushi rolls were the "Free Fallin'" and "London Callin'."  Well, the drink special that night was half off all sparkling wines.  Adam and I took a look at the options, and when the waitress came by he asked if she had ever tried the pineapple one.  She said she hadn't and then just said, "I like the sex."  Well, obviously, there was a sparkling wine called "The Sex," but we of course giggled like middle schoolers at this the entire rest of the evening.  

The rest of our time with Adam and Blake was spent making a chocolate fondue (yes) and playing cards and hanging out.  We finished off our stint with them on Monday afternoon with a delicious lunch followed by coffee, and then it was time to hit the road once more.  We only drove a couple hours, and found ourselves landing in Staunton, VA to visit the crazy camp nurse, Jacquie.  She's awesome - for those of you who know her at camp, she is just the same at home.  She and her husband, Ben, took us out for a delicious dinner, then we spent the night and hit the road again the next day.  Can't wait to see that lady again.

Our final stop was in Roanoke, VA to see some really wonderful friends - Jon Guy and Anna and their tiny guy Henry.  Henry is just over 2 now, and he took a pretty decent liking to Ben... which meant they had lots of fun together.  I mean, Ben taught him how to pop a wheelie on his strider and optimize his little hiding spot in the house... it couldn't have been better.  Aside from the play time with Henry, we really enjoyed the time to hang out with Jon Guy and Anna.  Somehow it ends up taking way to long to get back up to that area, but I'm going to seriously try and remedy that issue.

So, now we're back in Charlotte.  Yepp, the travels are all over (for now).  We have been here since late Wednesday night and have spent all free time looking for a place to live and jobs.  I have about a billion applications in, Ben has an awesome job as of February, and we have a pending application in on a condo in downtown Charlotte.  Who knows how everything will actually pan out - guess we'll see!

Alright, as promised, I am still planning on doing a photo blog, so stay tuned!  Cheers!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The wedding weekend

Alright, so I left off with the non-fiasco wedding... Ben and I got into DC on Friday in time to check into the hotel, visit with family a bit, then get ready for the rehearsal and dinner that followed.  (I had an awesome dress for the evening, so it was fun to wear that, haha).  The rehearsal was a little bit insane... lots of people talking at once, last minute details getting figured out, and all that jazz.  But, an hour and half or so later, things were organized enough to call it good and we all drove across town for a wonderful dinner.

The bridal party, and significant others such as myself, went out to eat at DeCarlo's Italian restaurant. It's a place that Jay and Leanne happened upon one night when they were looking for a good meal - and they definitely found a good one.  Ben and I had escargots to start, then I had a veal ossobuco while Ben had a penne and sausage dish, then we each finished a delicious dessert.

That was a late night, and then we were up early the next morning to get ready for the wedding (it was a 10:30a ceremony).  Everything was really great - it was kind of incredible how smoothly it went.  I really enjoyed the ceremony - at first I had the impression that it was going to be very formal and traditional, but Jay and Leanne did a really good job making it comfortable and their own between the inclusion of letters of advice from their parents, other fun readings, and even giving all the other married couples the chance to renew their vows together.  Pretty awesome.

The wedding itself was followed by a bunch of pictures, of course, and then a ride back to the reception venue on the metro - boy, did the public get a kick out of seeing the whole bridal party travel that way... I think it's going to make for some really fun photos though.  The rest of the afternoon was filled with running around to find forgotten things, picking up fajitas as part of an inside joke, and enjoying lots of company at the celebratory brunch.  We got to rest for about half an hour, and then we were all at it again for the afterparty held at Jay and Leanne's apartment building.  There was a bunch of food, leftover sweets from the reception, drinks, and football... All making for another late night.  We slept well.

We slept in the next morning, then ate a late breakfast with Mary K and Gray at a nearby diner.  Then it was time to pack up - they went ahead and drove on home, and we stuck around town.  We went to the Pentagon City Mall for a little bit (Ben got a new pair of shoes) and then we met up with some more friends.  More about that in a bit!

Monday, January 16, 2012

A quick edit...

Well, it came to my attention that I said something completely unintended in my last post. I don't have time to write a long post right now, but I would like to go ahead and make a clarification, as I am a little bit embarrassed and feel quite badly. I referred to Jay's wedding as a fiasco in my last post, and in all honestly, I totally misunderstood the meaning of this word. Somehow, in my head, this meant something along the lines of busy and crazy and not at all bad - in fact, I meant it in quite a positive way. Upon learning the actual definition of the word, I realized I made a big mistake by using it to describe the weekend. Everything was really wonderful and fun and yes, busy, and I will be delighted to talk more about it later. No comments necessary, and thanks for your understanding!

From NH to DC

When we got to New Hampshire on Monday night, we had a delicious cup of tea lovingly brewed by Brian, then decided to go on a walk to the local fire tower.  Now, this was a longer walk than I expected... probably 2+ miles each way - not unreasonable by any means, but I just didn't know what to expect.  It was cold, so we walked briskly, and I have now realized how inactive I have been lately... sheesh.  Well, all the walking and the big hill and the end and all the stairs leading to the top of the tower concluded with a very prompt trip back down, as a policeman showed up and let us know (loudly and in spotlight) that we weren't supposed to be up there after dark.  Oooh well.  No trouble really, but it was a short view from the top.

On Tuesday we went down to Portsmouth and had a wonderful lunch at Cere's Bakery, courtesy of Evan (who, if I didn't mention it before, is tall).  We had delicious creamy curried pumpkin soup, anadama bread, and Ben also had some chicken tacos.  Evan also treated us to kitchen sink and mexican chocolate cookies... pretty hard to beat.  We went ahead and walked around town for a bit - you know, did some shoe shopping, mailed some stuff at the post office, etc.  And then, we hit the road again.  

Oh, but it was a short drive.  We just drove about a half hour down to West Newbury, Massachusetts and spent some time with Colin and Brendan White (more friends from UNH).  Their mom, Barb, is a professor from UNH and one of Ben's favorite people, and we were lucky to get to spend a bunch of time with her too.  Not to mention, Gram was there, and she was fabulous company.  We all ate a delicious family dinner together, and then enjoyed a long game of dominos... seriously, this is a game I should play more often.  It was an awesome night.  

The next day Barb fixed us an excellent breakfast and they sent us off with homemade blackberry jam from the berries grown in their yard.  We hit the road again and drove a bit until we got to Noank, CT - we stopped for a few minutes to interrupt Kevin's workday and say hello, and then it was on the road again.  We drove just a bit further until we got to New Haven, CT and then we stopped and ate dinner and spent the night.  The next day we got some breakfast at Dunkin Donuts, then busted on through to Baltimore, MD.  We stayed in a great hotel just a block off Inner Harbor - somehow we got upgraded to a Queen suite ... so we were treated to a lovely room, a free cocktail hour, and a delicious breakfast the next morning.  While in Baltimore we walked a few blocks to Little Italy and ate dinner at a great restaurant.  You could tell that it was a locals kind of place, because we were just about the only people who got menus... well, it lived up to expectations - delicious!  

The next day we got up, relaxed a while, and then made our way to DC for Ben's brothers wedding.  More to come on that soon!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New Hampshire

So we started off yesterday with some coffee and hanging out and then went on a mission to check another thing off of the list of things to do in Burlington. Wren had told us that it would be awesome to go to Lake Champlain and play a sweet game he invented, Standing Up Sticks, and look for Champ, the monster who lives in the lake.

On the way there we stopped for breakfast a restaurant called Nunyuns, which turned out to be really delicious.  Ben had a fancy sandwich, Wren had a good-looking burrito, and I had skeggs.  You may be wondering what that is - well, it is a fabulous breakfast invention that I wish I had thought of a long time ago.  It was a potato skin filled with scrambled eggs, bacon, and cheese, then served with sour cream and hot sauce... Awesome.

So, we did finally make it down to the waterfront (very carefully I might add, as it was very icy out) and I relaxed while Wren and Ben played Standing Up Sticks.  This is where you find a piece of driftwood, then twist it into the ground at the waters edge well enough that it won't fall over - the goal is to stand up the tallest piece.  It actually made for kind of beautiful scenery, which I will show you in a photo post when we're back home.  Also, one of the highlights of my day - I found my first piece of sea glass (or lake glass) ever... so much better than sea shells!

Shortly after that adventure, we hit the road and made our way to Dover, NH.  As soon as we got there, we met up with two more friends, Brian and Evan, hopped back in the car and blasted up to Portland, ME to see yet another gaggle of good buddies and spend the night.  Luckily, our timing was right and it was game night in the house - we all chowed down on tacos, talked for a while, then played some telepictionary, the game, and contact.  I would explain all of those on here, but the post would probably end up being too long and boring... so ask me sometime.  The last four guys awake finished off the night with a Mario Kart tournament.  It was pretty stinkin fun.

After some good sleep, we had a good community breakfast whipped up by a few of the guys.  Scrambled eggs and veggies, hashbrowns, and cinnamon raisin toast.  We sat around for a bit, then headed into downtown Portland to walk around and get outside.  The trip was short and sweet, but really fun.  And now, we're headed back to New Hampshire... I don't even know what/where our next stop will be.  We'll figure it out soon!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hello Burlington (biggest town in Vermont)!

Alright!  It's been a couple of days... we're keeping busy on this trip - pretty much driving, hanging out with friends, or sleeping at all times.  When I last posted, we were in New Jersey.  We drove from there to Noank, Connecticut.  Ben describes Noank as an obnoxiously cute New England town.  He's right.

One of Ben's good friends from college, Kevin, lives there and does some farming.  It was pretty sweet hanging out... we got to see the barn where Kevin is doing a lot of work right now - he had all kinds of awesome stuff going on.  Lots of tractors, hay bales, and cows (obviously).  We also got to skip up the road and check out some sheep that his sister, Kate, keeps... they were also very cool.  Aside from the agriculture stuff, we also just got in some really good hang out time.  We even ate at the family's restaurant/diner, Carson's, a couple of times - I had a maple walnut and pumpkin milk shake, sooo good!

We left Connecticut Thursday afternoon and made our way up to the Northampton, Massachusetts area.  We entertained ourselves around a cool downtown area for a while - ate lunch at the local brewery, checked out a few shops - I bought some really nice yarn made from baby alpaca fur.  After some wandering we got to meet up with another awesome friend from Ben's college days - Bart.  We settled in to his place for a bit, and then he took us out to eat at the restaurant where he bartends... I know I talk about food all the time on this blog, but it was just another good meal.  I had a steak with mushrooms and mashed potatoes and roasted radishes, kale, and assorted root vegies. 

Before heading out of town on Friday, we got to go to Bart's parent's place and check out the operation they have going there.  The family owns multiple sugarbushes - that's new vocab for me... for those of you not familiar, that means they have a bunch of property with lots of Sugar Maples from whose sap they make maple syrup (and it's so good).  If you want some awesome legit maple syrup, let me know - I'll put you in touch... I mean, I'm talking about maple syrup that beat out all others in a maple syrup contest, yes, #1.  

Okay, okay... from Massachusetts we drove northbound to Burlington, Vermont.  We arrived just in time to see another of Ben's best buds from UNH, Wren, perform a little concert at a local record/book/art shop/gallery in town.  It was a pretty sweet show, and luckily we have been able to spend lots of time hanging out with Wren since then.  We had a great time just hanging out with him and his roommates at their house last night, then today we got into all kinds of good things around town.  We started off the day by going to the neighborhood bakery for coffee and pastries, which was wonderful.  Wren had to take off for work after that, but he left Ben and I with a list of all the awesome things to do in Burlington.  Sadly, we didn't get to do everything on the list today, but we did hit a lot of it.

After having a bit of lazy time after the bakery, we went out the lunch at one of Wren's favorite places in town, then went over to a sweet bike shop.  This place was awesome.  It's called Old Spokes Home - first of all, this is pretty much the best bike shop name ever.  Secondly, it's completely legitimate.  Not only do they have bikes and a shop and accessories and everything - they also have a museum of bikes from the mid 1800s on, and it is soooo fun and awesome to check out.  I wish they would have let us ride some of those bikes....

So, we also hit up a shop called "Junktiques" - it was exactly what it sounds like, and the owner was pretty nuts.  Then we drove out of town a bit to go visit Wren and one of his roommates, Anna, at work - they are bakers at Shelburne Farms.  The land was so gorgeous to drive around and check out.  The scenery was beautiful, the bakery was awesome, and we even got to check out this huge old barn and a bunch of animals they had around.  After the farm, we drove back to Burlington and walked Church street, which is a nice brick road with cute shops and no vehicle traffic.  Then we hit up the local co-op and made it back to the house in time to relax, eat a delicious dinner with a bunch of folks, and just hang out for the rest of the evening.  There are two Pierres (from France) staying at the house right now too, and they treated us all to a wonderful homemade meal. 

And so, here we are.  Tomorrow we will be leaving Burlington and heading to Portland, ME to see some more good folks.  The adventure continues... I'm sure there are things I'm forgetting, but I can tell you that the general idea is that we're spending a lot of time with friends and having fun.  Pretty hard to beat.

Lastly, I will apologize for the lack of photos... as it turns out, we remembered our computer but not the charger, so I'm doing posts from the tablet or borrowed computers.  When the trip is over, I'll do a blog (or a few) with pictures from this stint of the trip, so that will be good fun too.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Alright, so it has been a little bit since my last post... But we're back on the road!

Hopefully all of you had really great holidays. We definitely did. Although it was a little bit overwhelming to come home and get thrown right back into the mix, it was really wonderful to have some time to relax and catch up with our families. We even had the chance to do a bunch of work on the camper (well, it was mostly Ben making the improvements, if I'm honest). The camper now has new lights, a fully functioning stove and hood, a post for the big table, new carpet, and much more. It even has a shiny freshly-painted rear bumper and bright red hub caps :). We can't wait to get out and explore with it... But she still needs a name!

We also got to make a quick trip up to the mountains for New Years... It was super fun but way too short of a visit. Guess we'll have to go back soon!

So, like I said, we are back on the road. We left Charlotte yesterday morning and then drove to Roxboro, NC to spend most of the day visiting a bunch of the folks on Ben's mom's side of the family. They are a hoot; seriously lots of fun. I'm so excited that we'll get to see them again next week at Jay's wedding (for those of you who don't know, Ben's brother is getting married in DC in about 10 days).

We drove up to Richmond, VA last night and just stopped at a hotel to get some sleep. We slept in (I stayed up wayyy to late trying to finish the last book of the Stieg Larsson series), got a bite to eat at another Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives place (Dot's Back Inn), and then headed further north. In case you're wondering what we ate, I had a grilled cheese and a bowl of Italian white bean soup, and Ben had a burger with bacon and fried eggs on it. Delicious!

Tonight we are in Somerset, NJ visiting a great friend from high school and his fiancée. Kunal and Hiral brought us right in, despite the short notice, fed us a delicious meal, and visited until it was time for bed. Even though it was a short visit, I'm glad we had some friends to stop in with... It's just the best way to end the day.

Stay posted, hopefully I'll have some adventures to write about soon :)