Category Archives: Vacation & Travel

Photography Weekend

This past weekend, Flirt and I went to a “digital chicks” weekend workshop in Salado, Texas.  There is a guy who teaches photography at one of the local colleges and I’ve been on his mailing list for awhile because he offers several workshops a year and I kept saying I was going to do one of them.  So when a short weekend version became available within driving distance, I bit the bullet and decided to go.  My friend, Flirt, decided to go, too, so I was glad to have the company.

The workshop took place at the Rose Mansion, a charming little bed & breakfast in Salado with a variety of rooms available, some in their own seperate houses/homesteads.  Many are actual restorations of homes from the late 1800s and early 1900s.  It was a beautiful place…despite the summer temperatures.

      

The workshop had its highs and lows, but I couldn’t get past the fact that the instructor seems to think it’s ok to take a shitty picture because, “you can fix that later in photoshop!”  It should be stated here that I, up to this point, have not used ANY manipulation software on my photos.  The extreme of what I have done with an image on the computer is to crop it or the rare exposure adjustment by simply brightening the image a tad.  And I am a firm believer that there should remain a line between what is considered photography and what crosses over into computer-generated art.

Nevertheless, it was a dedicated time to reconnect with my cameras, some good tips on metering, and an opportunity to stay up late and unwind with a bottle of wine and conversation.  So, all in all, I’m glad I went.  :)

Things to Look Forward To

Sometimes, having something to look forward to is the only thing that keeps me going.  The day-to-day at work and sleep-filled weekends certainly won’t do it.  So, I wanted to take a moment to remind myself of some recently confirmed things coming up that I am excited about.

  1. Stephen Lynch concert this Friday – the guy is freaking hysterical. 
  2. Morrissey concert next Friday – I’ve been in love with this guy since I was about 13.  Age has been kinder to him than it has to me and he still has one of the greatest voices in music.
  3. A vacation day added to a holiday weekend – yep, I’m taking the Monday after Easter off to make it a glorious 4-day weekend.
  4. Girls Getaway Weekend – we missed it in 2008 due to a hurricane, so we’re doing it in May this year.  Added bonus is that we’re doing it over Memorial Day weekend so we get an extra day together to act like the silly girls we are!
  5. Photography Weekend Workshop – I’ve been wanting to sign up for this for the past few years but always managed to miss it.  This year, I’m registered and my friend, Flirt, has decided to join me.  We’ve already got our room booked at the B&B.  So excited!

So there.  Some positives in an otherwise dull existence.  😛

Fantastic Vacation – Part Tres

Thursday morning, we were trying to decide what we wanted to do on our last day in Cozumel.  I knew Red wanted to go snorkeling, but she was willing to forgo it since it’s not something I do.  I said to hell with that.  So we went back downtown looking for a snorkeling excursion that wasn’t an all day thing.  We finally found a trip that was just a couple of hours on a glass-bottom boat, so I wouldn’t be sitting on the boat for eternity and I’d have a nice view.  I think they wanted $35 each for that one, but we ended up getting it for $50 total.

They sent us out onto one of the piers for the boat to come pick us up.  When we got onboard, I was completely freaked out.  MUCH smaller than I expected, and the seating was literally a small bench directly against the side of the boat.  As someone who freaks out over open water, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do this.  I sat there quietly for awhile, trying to calm myself down, while we rode over to another pier to pick a couple up from one of the cruise ships.  By then, Red could tell something was wrong.  She made some comment about my sour face and that’s when the tears broke free.  She asked, loudly, why I was crying and, of course, that just made me worse.  I ended up telling her to just leave me alone.  She was asking if I wanted a life jacket, and damn near ready to tell them to let me off, but I just kept saying, leave me alone, I’m ok.  Deep breaths.

I managed to calm down on the ride out to the first dive spot and I’m so glad I did.  It was just gorgeous water and the breeze felt nice.  I got to take some pretty pictures while Red got to swim with the fishes.  And, of course, as soon as they opened the ice chest, I was the first to reach for a beer (I don’t even like beer, but it was the only alcohol they had and I was needing something!  lol).

 (gonna add to this later….blog is acting up)

Fantastic Vacation – Part Dos

Alrighty.  So Wednesday morning, we got a call at around 8:30am that the rental company was there with our jeep (30 minutes early).  We threw on some clothes and went down to sign the paperwork and get the keys.  Then grabbed breakfast and went back to the room to get ready. 

We headed back north toward downtown in search of the transversal road that crosses the island.  After a few wrong turns and asking for directions, we finally found it and headed off to the San Gervasio ruins.  It’s a small ruin site on the island that is believed to date back as early as 100 BC.  It was super hot and super humid, and even though I thought I was going to have a heat stroke, it was cool walking through and seeing all the structures. 

Cozumel 062

Not to mention all of the iguanas!  They were everywhere!

Cozumel 072

After the ruins, we hopped back in the jeep and continued our drive across the island.  The road dead ends into the road that runs the length of the other side of the island.  There are a number of restaurant/bar/beaches there, so we wanted to go check things out. 

The first place we stopped was Coconuts.  You walk up a bunch of steps into this giant covered palapa where the bar and tables are setup.  We walked through there and out the other side to find sand, tables with umbrellas, and the most AMAZING view of the ocean from our perch on a cliff.   Being the person I am, I had found coupons online for a number of places in Cozumel and printed them off, just in case.  Sure enough, this was one of them.  So we ordered our giant umbrella drinks and some lunch:  Fish Tacos and Ceviche.  It was YUMMMMY.  The ceviche had lots of lime juice and a little bit of a spicy flavor.  Fan-freaking-tastic.  The fish tacos were pretty damned good, too.  So we kicked back, ate our food, sipped our drinks, and enjoyed the view.

There were several dogs milling about that must belong to the owners.  They were really well-behaved, not bothering anyone, not begging for food.  Just chilling in the shade.  While we were there, these dogs ended up laying at my feet!   Red kept joking, calling me the Dog Whisperer.  And saying, “….and you aren’t sure if you’re ready for another dog!” 

After that, we headed further down the road and passed a number of other beaches but decided to keep driving to see what else there was.  We ended up at the Freedom in Paradise Cafe, aka the Bob Marley bar.  While it did sit on the beach, you couldn’t walk out into the water from there because of all the rocks, but man, that was the most peaceful, tranquil place I’ve ever been in my life.  We ordered a couple of pina coladas and found ourselves a table near the water.  I swear we sat there for nearly an hour in almost complete silence.  You could hear the waves crashing on the rocks, the faint reggae music in the background, and stick your feet into the softest sand I’ve ever felt.  It was like powdered sugar, it was so soft.

Pure heaven.

From there, we were almost to the end of that side of the island, but as we turned the corner back towards the side our hotel was on, we stopped at another beach club that was designed for more people.  However, like everywhere else, it was pretty deserted, too.  We had about an hour before it closed, so we, again, ordered some drinks, and then took a quick dip in the ocean before lounging around some more.  Then we started heading back to the hotel.

It was, by far, the most laid-back, relaxing day EVER.  Worth every penny.  We loved it so much, we were considering keeping the jeep another day so we could do it again on Thursday. 

That night we were total bums and pretty much hung out in the hotel room watching movies.  Red had a headache so we ended up calling it a night.  I was wired and rearing to go, but popped an ambien instead so I could get some sleep.  The next day was our last full day there so we didn’t want to spend it sleeping late.

To be continued…

Fantastic Vacation – Part Uno

Now that I’ve had a week to re-adjust to normal life, I thought I’d blog about my trip to Cozumel.  Red and I had such a fantastic time….definitely one of the best vacations ever!

We got to our hotel Monday around 11am and had lots of time to kill before we could check in (at 4pm).  So we changed into our swimsuits and hit the little hotel beach and checked out two of the infinity pools.  The first one was deserted, so we moved to the other one, where Louis, aka Okie Dokie, the bartender at the swimup pool kept our glasses full.  Red has been tanning since February, so she was soaking up all the sun she could get.  Me, on the other hand, took many opportunities to go sit in the water at the pool bar in the shade and make friends with the bartender.

Cozumel 005

A little before 4pm, we headed up to the lobby to see if our room was ready.  After waiting another 45 minutes, they gave us our room keys and sent us off on a wild goose chase to find our room.  We finally found it, no thanks to the directions they gave us, and waited for the bellboy to arrive with our luggage.

The rooms were really nice with marble floors counters, a nice glass shower, and a glass balcony that overlooked the main pool and the ocean where the cruise ships pulled in most days.  After showers and a quick nap, we headed down to the buffet for dinner.  We’d decided we’d just hang out at the hotel that first day.

Tuesday we got up, had breakfast, and then got a cab to downtown to do some shopping and see the city a little.  We were hoping to rent a car to drive around to the other side of the island one day, and we had been comparing prices.  Ended up getting a great deal on renting a new-ish (2004) Jeep for Wednesday.  We’d been told as much as $110 but ended up getting ours for $60, including insurance and them dropping the jeep off and picking it back up at our hotel.

But back to Tuesday…we wandered around downtown for awhile, wasted our time trying to barter with people who were asking insane prices for their sterling jewelry, sampled some tequila at a tequila shop.  I had been hoping to find more coffee tequila to bring home with me and this shop had it….but because it was in a special handmade bottle, it was more than I wanted to pay.  So figured I’d keep looking and find some elsewhere.  Never did find anymore so now I’m wishing I had just gone ahead and bought it.  Oh well.

After walking around in the sun for awhile, Red and I were both ready to find a shady spot and a drink.  One of the places we passed handed us coupons for 4 margaritas and an order or nachos for $15, so we headed there.  It was an upstairs, open air bar that looked out over the ocean.  So we sat there, enjoyed the breeze, the view, the drinks, and the nachos for awhile. 

It wasn’t long before one of the bartenders asked us where we were from.  We told him Texas and he said, “Dallas, right?”  We were both surprised that he guessed that and asked him why.  He said we looked like party girls.  Oh boy.  With that, he brought us over what he called “Bumper Shots.”  Not knowing what they were, but being up for it, he went to Red first.  Stood in front of her, blew a whistle, slammed the shot glass on the table 3 times, and then proceeded to pour it into her mouth and then grabbing her head and immediately shaking it around in circles before jerking it forward and backwards towards his crotch.  I’m cracking up and taking pictures, of course.  Then he annuonces it is my turn.  Oops.

Another waiter came over not long after with another round of these.  He was much more, um, suggestive with his routine, standing straddled over our laps while pouring.  By then, we were having too much fun to care!

After our margaritas and 3 shots each, we decided to go walk around some more.  Red found souvenirs for her hubby and son, we tried a few more jewelery stores, everyone still way too high on their prices (apparently this is a ploy they use when the cruise ships are in for the day).  Then we grabbed a cab and headed back to the hotel.  We got back just before 3pm, in time to make reservations at one of the hotel’s speciality restaurants for dinner.  Went back to our room, showered and napped a little then headed down to dinner around 6pm.  We were planning to go out downtown that night.

After dinner, we got a cab and went to Senor Frogs.  Boy was that a disappointment.  The place was EMPTY.  There were maybe 5 other people there.  We had a few drinks, some shots, and then ended up heading back to the hotel because their drinks were too expensive.  By the time we got back to the hotel, Red was ready to go to the room for the night but I talked her into one more drink at the sports bar (all-inclusive, so free drinks).  The next day, Wednesday, our Jeep was supposed to be at the hotel by 9:30am.  So after that, we headed to the room.  I think we were in bed by no later than 11pm the entire time we were there!

More later…

Ready to soak up some rays…and some rum!

Tomorrow is the big day!  I have to leave here at a ridiculously profanely early hour to head to the airport.  I can’t believe we have to be there THREE hours early for an international flight.  That’s just crazy.  Hopefully I can get a good nap in on our 2.5 hour flight to Cozumel.  I’m still debating whether or not I should try and get 4 hours of sleep between now and leaving for the airport.   I’m seriously afraid of sleeping through my alarm.

I’m about 90% packed at this point, certain that I have more clothes than I’ll need, and yet still worrying that I’m forgetting something.  I always do.  I’ve got my cameras, my chargers, sunscreen, sunglasses, swimsuits, hats, sandals, books, some cash, a toothbrush and clean underwear.  That’s the necessities, right?

As an added boost of excitement, I got to watch my Stars win game 2 tonight against San Jose.  I was thrilled that they made it out of the first round of the playoffs for the first time in YEARS.  And even more ecstatic that they managed to win not one, but BOTH of the first two games (on the road) to kick-start round 2.  We won’t get to see games 3 and 4 that will be played here in Dallas…unless someone knows of a place in Cozumel that will be showing the game.  😛  But I’m feeling better about that knowing that, at least the series won’t be over before we get back…well, unless the Stars make a clean sweep of it, but I’m not holding my breath for that.

Anyway, I have no idea what kind of internet access there will be at the resort we’re staying at.  I’ve seen no mention of it being in the rooms, so not even going to bother with bringing my laptop.  There’s supposedly an internet kiosk, but who knows what that will cost.  So, with only my blackberry to keep me semi-connected (email and mobile web only….everything else is waaaaay expensive….glad I checked that out before I leave), I won’t have any way to give updates on my trip.   Well, I can send updates on twitter.  That’s something.  I haven’t figured out how to post email blogs here yet.  But I’ll be sure to blog all about our adventures in Cozumel when I get home.

Have a great week! I know I will.

Two days!

I really need to get serious about packing.  I’ve got most of my clothes that I think I’ll be bringing with me piled up and ready to load in the suitcase, but I haven’t really put much thought into making sure I have matching outfits and shoes.  I’ve just thrown all of the super lightweight, cotton, comfortable stuff I own into a pile. 

I finally found some comfy shorts I can live with.  The best part is, they were between $5 and $10 at Walmart!  If they last through my trip, they will have been worth the money.  :-)

1 of the 3

I’m also thrilled that the swimsuit I ordered back at the beginning of March and have been on a waitlist for finally arrived TODAY.  And it fits and its cute.  So now I have 3 suits to take with me, two of them I can mix and match.  Yeah, I went the route of the skirted suit, but these aren’t grandma-looking and are not swimdresses.  Two of them have a cute straight leg mini-skirt and flattering tops that show just the right amount.  The third one has a cute blousson type top (but not overly so) with a regular swimsuit bottom that I can swap out with one of the skirts if I’m feeling thigh-shy.  When I stop and think about it, I am such a dork…I haven’t worn a swimsuit in ten years and now, I’ll be on vacation for 5 days (4 really since we come home early on the 5th day).  Do I really need three swimsuits for that??  😛

Tomorrow I need to get up and head to Target to return a few things, then I’m going to DSW to use my reward check to find some cute sandals.  I have plenty of sandals, but am specifically looking for a slightly dressy but casual and comfy shoe to take with me as a night time shoe for when we go out.  Then it’s the gym and tanning again.  I actually have the tiniest bit of color now, but considering how white I was to begin with, that isn’t saying much!

I think I’ve gotten over the fat me vs slim Red and am now in the state of mind of IT’S MY VACATION and I’m not going to let my insecurities get in the way!  Nothing else I can do about it at this point, so might as well just HAVE FUN!  And I plan on doing plenty of that.

I’m anxious to see if the hotel is as nice as it looks in the pictures online.

So much to do, so little time!

A week from tomorrow, I leave for my much-needed, well-deserved vacation to Cozumel.  It was supposed to be a girls’ trip, but everyone but me and Red wimped out.  Apparently everyone else is afraid to go with us because we are just “party party party.”  Whatever. 

Red and V went to Los Cabos last year (I couldn’t go because they accidentally scheduled it on top of a work conference I had to attend).  Red and V had never really hung out or spent time together one on one, so they got to know each other a little better I suppose.  V is very laid-back most of the time, and was looking forward to carefree days, lounging by the pool or on the beach.  Red, who had been through some rough stuff with her husband recently, was in full let-her-hair-down-and-live-it-up mode.  So needless to say, there were some conflicts.  Nothing major, and they both had fun, but I guess some residual comments have been made.

Either way, Red and I are going to have a blast.  I just know it!  I’m all for lounging with a book and a pina colada on the beach, sight-seeing, and nights out partying.  We’ve got 5 days, so time for a little of everything.  And since Red and I DO hang out and DO know each other pretty damned well, I don’t think we’ll have any problems telling the other one when we’ve had enough of something.

The downside, Red is about 5 foot 4 inches tall, with a great figure.  Me, I’m 5 foot 7, and a good 70 pounds heavier right now…the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life.  We’re going to look like Mutt & Jeff.  I didn’t get nearly as serious about going to the gym these past two months as I’d planned, so haven’t made much progress there.  But at least for the past two weeks, a fire was lit under my proverbial ass, and I’ve been hitting the gym pretty hard on the weekends at least.  During the week, I just can’t make myself get up early enough to go before work.  And after work, I’m just drained.  Excuses, I realize, but it just ain’t happening. 

I started fake-baking last weekend, in the attempt to get some kind of base color on my lily white self, otherwise I’m likely to burst into flames at the beach!   I’m not tan by any means, but I have at least gotten a tiny bit of color…and still have the rest of this week to work on that and keep going to the gym.  I won’t be a bronzed goddess in any way, shape, or form, but I figure there’s nothing like the last minute panic to do as much improvement as I can.  :)

I’m doing laundry and (re)assessing my wardrobe options.  I’ve been shopping like a fiend lately, mostly trying to find some shorts that I like.  Yeah, the shorts I own don’t fit right now.  Did I mention that part about being the heaviest I’ve ever been?  Ugh.  Depression does as much damage outwardly as it does inwardly.  But yeah, I think I’ve got most of my clothing together.  Just need to do more planning of outfits to figure out what goes with what and, of course, to make sure I have enough day/night outfits, shoes, etc.  I figure later this week I’ll actually attempt to start loading the suitcase.

And with that, time to get up and get some stuff done around the house before I head to the gym and to tan.

Happy Sunday!

Life’s a beach.

I haven’t worn a swimsuit in public in almost 10 years. I’m in the worst shape of my life right now. I haven’t been to the gym in over two months. And what do I do??

I go and book a trip to Cozumel with the girl(s).

Two months to do some damage control. My gym membership has 4 days a week that I can go. I better just make sure I’m there every single one of those 4 days between now and the end of April. Today was my first day back in the gym and I did ok considering. Still got 45 minutes of cardio, kept my heart rate up above 150, and did upper body resistance workout. Tomorrow, more of the same except I’ll do lower.

I think I can…I think I can….

Click for Cozumel, Mexico Forecast

Send me down to Tucson…

The last few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind. First, a fast trip to New York. I did manage to get out and wander Times Square the night before I left. Neat to see….but it seems like one of those things that, now that you’ve seen it, there’s really no need to go back. Of course, if you were going to a show or something there. But all I really did was walk the streets for a couple of hours and see the sights. My old camera stood in and did a decent job in the hands of a slightly inebriated girl.

The following week I was off to Tucson for work. I learned my lesson last year when I went so made sure I got a rental car this time. Plus I stayed over an extra two nights and made a mini-vacation out of it. I’m so glad I did. It was nice to get away and unwind a bit. Even if unwinding meant that I spent most of that time walking outdoors.

The weather was gorgeous. Sunny and cool. I saw the botanical gardens, the Tucson zoo, the San Xavier Mission, the Arizona Sonora Desert Musuem, and Old Tucson Studios. I meant to blog about these places each night, but I guess I took a vacation from that as well. Samuel L was out of rehab so got to make the trip with me. She’s not perfect, but she’s functioning and doing well so far.

Lots of interesting possibilities coming up at work…we’ll see what happens. I do feel it is time for a change, so am giving things more consideration than I have in the past.

After a good workout and then a yummy lasagna dinner with friends at V’s yesterday (and wine and drinks, a trip to a bar, and IHOP), today is all about being a bum. I was planning to watch a movie but got sucked into a damn philosophy special on QVC. Not that I’m going to buy anything. I’ve weaned myself off of their skincare in favor of my BeautiControl stuff, but I still absolutely love their fragrances and body products.

Alright, enough catching up. I’ll try to keep things more current going forward, but I’m not promising anything.

I want to get away.

And so I shall…tomorrow I leave for my first-ever trip to New York. I’m still not convinced I’ll get to see much of it while I’m there, but I’ll do what I can. I’m charging the battery and dusting off my old Kodak DX6490 as I write this, so at least I’ll have a camera with me.

I think I’ve got everything I need. Went shopping yesterday and got a new suit…my first time ever shopping at the big girl store, but at least I found something that fits nicely and is pretty darn cute while still projecting a professional image. I refrained from using this as an excuse to buy new shoes, although that would’ve been nice. Instead, I get to be me and wear some chunky brown suede heels I already own.

Oh, and I got 6+ inches of hair whacked off. No one ever even notices when I get my hair cut, but this time it is actually different. Not drastically, but noticeable I think. I’ve got bangs. Long-ish ones, but not long enough to tuck behind my ear. That’s driving me a bit crazy, but in weeks, they’ll be long enough I’m sure. And I have layers! I’ve been wanting some but they always tell me my hair is too thin. Apparently not, because I have them now and I like them. My hair isn’t so limp now and actually has a tiny bit of volume.

I’m all packed except for the camera and the laptop. And a few books to set free along the way. Think I’ll find some dinner and get ready to watch the game!

Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys

What’s that saying? Too many pots on the stove. Kettles in the fire. Something like that. Anyway, that’s what I feel like. I’ve started all these cool little projects lately and am only half-assing them because realistically, I can’t tackle them all at once. So I’m just going to step back and pick one at a time to give each the attention it needs.

Work is….well, work. I’m going to Tucson again in a few weeks, but am determined not to spend all of the time either at the office or in the hotel room again. I’m going to stay a day and a half over and try to make a mini-vacation out of it. Been doing some research and definitely going to check out the Sonora Desert Musuem as well as the San Xavier Mission. Those both look as though they will provide hours of happy entertainment for myself and Samuel L. I’m hoping to bring either Sparticus or Dee with me, too, if I ended up checking a bag. We’ll see.

I just finished watching Hannibal Rising. I’d read the book a couple of months ago and wasn’t very impressed with it. Sadly, I felt the same way about the movie. While some of Hannibal’s growing guiltless malice was fun to watch, I think they just made that leap too abruptly. Surely he wasn’t the only one to experience the extreme horrors of war…so where are the rest of the “monster”s? The movie does stay pretty true to the book, so I give it credit for that. But the book wasn’t much to work with in the first place. So sad, I expected great things for Hannibal’s back story.

I’m off to the Chuckwagon cookoff this weekend to take pictures of AggieGirl in action! Sounds like a pretty cool event, and another fun photo-expedition. Cat is going to meet up with me to take some photos of her own. YAY! Or should I say yeehaw!

M-I-C-K-E-Y…..

It’s good to be home. Tomorrow I get my girl back, perhaps by force, but one way or the other, she’s coming home with me.

The conference/vacation combo was a beating but, despite being sick and walking about a million miles, it was fun. I know there was a lot I missed seeing at Disney, but I gave it my best effort! I managed to stick around Magic Kingdom long enough Thursday night to finally see one of the fireworks shows. And the International Food & Wine Festival at Epcot on Friday was pretty cool. Expensive, but cool.

All in all, I’m glad I went. I wouldn’t do it again, not by myself at least, but I’m glad I went.

I’ve never been a fan of Mickey, much preferring Donald or even Pluto…Perhaps it’s my insane fear of rodents. But I have to say, the big-eared fella kind of grew on me.

I was like the little girl on the old Disney commercial who wanders around the whole vacation hoping to see him. And just before she leaves, she finally does. Except I only saw him on stage or a float. He was very elusive.

Could we please have some rain?

It is so dry and so hot here right now.  My water smells and tastes like dirt and is literally undrinkable.  I can’t even make coffee with it.  Yuck.    I just went outside to get the mail and I swear, it must be close to 100 degrees still!  The news cut-in just confirmed it’s 97 degrees out.  Ugh.

I went out for a smoke break at work this afternoon and didn’t take two puffs before I had to go back in.  The heat is hurting my lungs.   It’s completely miserable. 

I found out why my boss wanted me to keep the first week of November blocked off on my calendar.  Turns out he is sending me to Orlando for 4 days for a learning conference, with topics ranging from developing online content to LMS systems to global learning and a lot more.  He’s going, too, so as soon as the publish the schedule of sessions, we’ll have to figure out who is going to what and that sort of thing.  I’m kind of excited…I’ve never had to travel out of state for work before.

Since this will be after the big 8.9 upgrade, I may tack some travel days on before or after the conference for a little R&R while I’m there.  Not sure how exciting DisneyWorld will be by myself, but I’m willing to find out for the right price.  I need to figure that out soon because I have to get with my other boss to book travel and hotel.  Apparently the hotel tends to fill up fast for this thing.  And I have no idea how my company handles this type of expense.  Hopefully it’s not a reimbursement thing…surely not!

My parents are on an Alaskan cruise this week.  I’m still in shock that they actually did it, along with my mom’s brother, sister, and their spouses.  I hope they are having a blast and taking lots of pictures!

Catching up with DrH & time to go home

Dr H was actually in San Diego the 4th and 5th for a training class, so we had agreed, if our schedules allowed for it, to try and meet up for dinner while we were both there.  Tuesday evening, we decided, based on the suggestion of my brother and a friend of mine, to meet up in the Gas Lamp Quarter.   My sis-in-law was going to drop me off in that area around 4, so she could avoid most of the traffic heading back to her house.  And Dr H was going to give me a call and meet me somewhere after his class, around 5:30.

After looking at the website, I figured this was a good plan because there would be plenty of places for me to walk around and see and take pictures of while waiting on Dr H.  What I did NOT plan on was the downpour that started about 5 minutes after my sis-in-law dropped me off.  Ugh.  I managed to find a store that sold umbrellas atleast, but it was not the carefree downtown wandering I had envisioned.

Dr H’s class ended early, so he was in the area a little before 5pm.  After a few phone calls and miscalculated intersections, we found each other.  Poor thing was pretty soaked by then.  I tried to share my umbrella, but he was having little to none of that.  Men.  Hmmpph.

I was actually pretty excited about seeing him.  None of that first meeting pressure or worries about how to pass the time.  We wandered down to one of the historic houses that supposedly gives tours until 6pm only to find that they had closed early that day.  Dr H got a kick out of that.  His experiences with my “planning” have not been that great so far.  So we made our way back up 5th street and spotted Martini Ranch and decided to go in and have a drink (and get out of the rain). 

We chatted for awhile there and I was genuinely happy to be with him.  Of course, I’m thinking to myself, could I be attracted to this guy?  Did I misjudge things based on the other stuff that was going on?  I don’t know.  He’s cute.  Am I letting his size keep me away?  Does that make me shallow if I am?  Anyway, we had a good time visiting there then decided to go in search of dinner.  I was definitely more “touchy-feely” with him this time. 

The bartender had recommended a place, but when we walked down there (still raining) it looked a little too fancy.  I was in a tshirt, jeans, and tennis shoes.  So we decided to walk some more.  Then we saw Croce’s and the sign for live jazz music got my attention so we stopped to ask when that started.  It was about an hour away, so we looked over a (pricey) menu and decided we’d have dinner there.

We ordered a bottle of wine and some calamari for starters.  Then opted to split an entree (yummy halibut with asparagus and potatoes).  By then the band had started to play.  I don’t know if it was a combination of the live jazz (which doesn’t have quite the overpowering effect on me that blues music does, but still…) and the wine and the rain or what, but it was soooo undeniably “date-like” and I didn’t mind at all.  I went outside to smoke and called my brother to see what the plans were for the next day (I was heading home).  I mentioned that Dr H offered to bring me to the airport and wanted to see what Dilbert thought about that.  His reply was, do you want to do that?  Basically, my call.

Dr H comes out about that time and gives me a nice hug from behind.  We stood there for a few minutes enjoying the music while I finished my smoke.  Then we went back inside and there, sitting on the table, is a cd of the band that’s playing that Dr H had, very sneakily, purchased for me.  Awwww! 

We shared a dessert while I polished off another glass of wine (we’d emptied the bottle by then).  Then we headed to my brother’s.  I was still undecided about Dr H taking me to the airport the next day.  I wasn’t sure if my brother was really ok with it or just saying so.  So we got there and he got to meet Dr H, we looked at some video of the lake house he just bought near Sam Rayburn in Texas, talked a little, then I could tell Dr H needed to get back (he had class again the next morning). 

So Dilbert explains that if he takes me to the airport, he’d be dropping me off way early (around 7:30 for a 10:30 flight) because he has a meeting.  Dr H says he can take me around 8:30 or 9.  I feel bad because I didn’t even get to tell my sis-in-law or nephews bye (they were already asleep….it was almost midnight afterall) but I guess the alcohol made my manners questionable and I gathered up my stuff and headed back towards San Diego with Dr H to his hotel.

And…um…yeah.  I think we got to sleep around 3am. 

So anyway, we got up the next morning and headed to the airport.  It was about 8:20 when he dropped me off.  I ended up getting on an even earlier flight (headed to Albequerque at 9:20) with the idea that I could catch the connecting flight to Dallas there and be home a little earlier.  Oh the joy of flying standby.  Yes, it’s free, but it’s not without a downside.  The downside being creative travel plans.  I made it to Albq with no problem at around noon.  The flight from there to Dallas was supposed to leave around 2, so I wandered the airport and found a smoking lounge, ordered a drink, and took advantage of their free wireless for a bit.

Then that flight ended up being delayed and was pushed back to 3:20.  I was finally able to check in for that one and the odds of me getting on it weren’t looking too good.  Around 3pm, they sent me and another red pass passenger to another gate to catch a flight to Lubbock (WTF?!).  Then from there, we’d definitely be able to get on the “wide open” flight to Dallas.  So that’s what we did.  I got back into Dallas around 7:45pm and then had to wait another 30 minutes for the damn shuttle I reserved to show up.

Home finally a little before 9pm last night.  Yay!  Picked up Mazzy from the PetsHotel today and she’s finally speaking to me again.  She was happy to see me, happy to leave, and then suddenly seemed to remember she was mad at me.  She’s good now though.  The “Pawgress Report” they gave me is cute.  Cheesey, but cute.  Seems like they took good care of my baby atleast.

Santa Monica Pier and Hwy 1

Sunday morning we had to be out of the hotel by 11am.  So we loaded back up into Dilbert’s truck and headed north again, back into LA.  He drove us through Rodeo Drive so I could atleast say I’d seen that.  And then we drove through the Brentwood area.  Sooo bummed I didn’t know Marilyn’s address off the top of my head.  If I’d known we were going back into that area, I would have made it a point to find out so I could see that, too.  Oh well.

Then we headed to Santa Monica pier.  I was thinking wooden thing over water.  No thanks.  Instead, it was a big huge thing, only partially over water, with games and rides and vendors and restaurants and stuff.  Pretty cool.  We spent most of the afternoon there, wandering around, taking pictures, letting the kids play some games, and ate lunch next to a little stage area where there was a really good blues band performing.  Dilbert and I liked that.  I could’ve sat and listened to that all day long.

Then we piled back into the truck and headed towards San Diego.  We took the scenic route that was pretty much ocean-view the entire way.  Soooo pretty.  At one point, there was an easy access area to pull off, so we pulled over so I could take some pics.

Not far past that, we saw the most gorgeous golf course ever.  I don’t even play, but I’d be tempted to learn with a view like that.  As we got further down the highway, we found out it was a Trump golf course.  Dilbert looked it up online when we got home that night and said it was like $140 for the twilight (cheapest!) times.  Um.  Yeah.  Don’t think any of us will be playing there.

We got back to Escondido around 10pm.  My eye was killing me by then, so I crashed pretty early.

Monday morning, I woke up with my eye barely even able to open it was so swollen.  And RED!  I flushed it out as much as I could but could barely see out of it.  Everything was blurry.  I talked to my mom the nurse and she said warm compresses and to get my ass to a doctor.

After a hot shower, it felt a little better and was not as swollen but still awful and red.  So when my sis-in-law got home, I got her to bring me to a doctor to get it looked at.  After waiting about an hour, he looked at my eye and said he could tell it was irritated (DUH!).  Put some weird dye stuff in it and looked at it under a blacklight.  But said he couldn’t see anything in there.  Just that it was scratchy.  He ended up giving me a prescription for some eye drops to help with and/or prevent infection that I’m supposed to use for the next 2 days and if it’s not better by the time I get back to Dallas Wednesday night, to go see someone there.

Here’s hoping it helps.

Not the road games I was hoping for

I have to say, that first step out of the car towards Arrowhead Pond, in my Stars jersey, was the tiniest bit intimidating.  I got over it pretty quickly, but it was my first time having a game experience as the “visitor.”  I was surprised how many Stars jerseys I saw once we got inside.  Not that I blame them…..good to know some Anaheim folks recognize talent when they see it.  Wink

Met a few guys that had made the trip up from Dallas.  One of them winked at me, according to my nephew.  I miss everything. 

The game itself was disappointing.   The Ducks scored on Turco about 30 seconds in.  Not a good way to start off.  The whole game we just looked sloppy.  We ended up getting ahead, only to let them tie in the final minutes, forcing it into OT.  We played better in OT than we did the entire game.  Ugh.  No score after 5, so we went to a shootout.  And, of course, we LOST.  Our FIRST loss in a shootout the ENTIRE season.  And I had to be there to see it.  cry

Saturday we headed up to LA and Hollywood.  I got to find Marilyn’s star on the Walk of Fame (which is not nearly as nice and fancy as I expected it to be).  Got several pics of that.  Then we headed over to the Chinese Theater and found her and Jane Russell’s hand and footprints.  More pictures.  I could’ve been all emotional about it if given time to savor it more, so it’s probably a good thing that one of my nephews was a little restless.  lol 

And a bad thing to realize that my battery in my digital camera was dying.  I don’t know what that was all about….a full charge should’ve lasted way longer than that.  I only took a dozen or so pics the night before.  And since we weren’t going back to the hotel before the game, that meant I’d get very few digital pics that night.  Which sucks even more because I don’t have a zoom on my 35mm and we were sitting in the nosebleeds.

Bought a few souvenirs and gifts to bring back and then we went to Chinatown and wandered around for a few hours.  Hopefully I got some good pics there, too.  It’s been so long since I’ve shot film, I’m a little nervous about seeing how they turned out.  Plus noticing the film speeds i was using mid-way through the roll.  D’oh.

Bought more stuff there, ate lunch, wandered some more.  Then it was time to head to the Staples Center for the game. 

I saw far fewer Stars jerseys there.  People looked at me like they were completely appalled to see me walking in with a Stars jersey on.  It was pretty funny to see some of the weird looks I got.  But no one was rude about it atleast.

One of my nephews and I went down to watch the warmups before the game.  Saw a few other Stars fans then.  And was horrified to realize that my Mikey was not on the ice!  I fired off some text messages to Dr Honeydew and Mexigoalie to see if they knew wtf was going on.  Morrow was wearing the C, so Mo was definitely not playing.  Neither of them could find any news on it.  Since my digital was almost dead, I took the film camera down for warmups.  And then quickly realized I was out of film and didn’t bring my purse down with me.  So I might have gotten 4 or so shots before resorting to my camera phone.  D’oh again.

Another crap game.  We did good killing off penalties, but our PP was non-existant without Mo and Zubie on the ice.  The fans around us didn’t really heckle me at all.  And I coerced one of my nephews and sis-in-law into yelling STARS with me during the anthem.  That was fun.   And we certainly weren’t alone.  We may not have seen all the Stars fans, but it was obvious they were there. 

My brother, Dilbert, was cracking up at me because, at one point, we were on the powerplay and it was dead quiet (those fans could make some noise, but only when prompted by the video screen).  So, being down 1-0, and wanting to motivate my boys (ha), I yelled “Let’s go Stars!” at the top of my lungs.  The people around me all turned around so fast I’m certain they got whiplash.  Every one of them’s facial expression was priceless.  I guess they were expecting to hear “Kings” so when I got to the Stars part, they were all aghast.  Funny. 

After the Kings first (and only) goal (damn you, Roenick), when we were killing off a penalty, some guy behind us, apparently unhappy with the fact that we were clearing the puck constantly, said, “Dammit.  Now we suck again.”  That was pretty funny, too.

Anyway, after enduring another crappy Stars game, which we lost 1-0, not a single LA fan was rude or obnoxious to me.  Which was surprising considering, at one point, towards the end of the game, the ENTIRE place started a “Dallas Sucks” chant.  I honestly thought that was tacky.  And I was surprised that EVERY SINGLE person seemed to join in.  I’ve never been a fan of booing the other team or specifically using the word sucks in a chant.  I guess my mother taught me better.  But after the game, no one really had anything to say to me.  I got more weird looks, but that was about it.  One guy actually turned around and realized I was in a Stars jersey and said, “Tough loss, huh?” 

So then the drive back to the hotel in Anaheim and off to bed.  That’s enough for now.  I’ll tell about Sunday later.  I’m having serious eye problems today.  One eye has been bugging me for almost a week now.  Just when I first wake up it’s all scratchy and tearing and hurting.  Then it would get better after about an hour and I’d be fine.  Starting Sunday, it’s pretty much hurt all day.

When I woke up this morning (we got back to my brother’s late last night) my left eye would barely open.  Two hours later and it will still barely open, hurts like hell and is all puffy and watering.  And light if almost unbearable.  I’ve been wearing sunglasses all day, even inside.  Not sure what to do about it. 

What a way to start my vacation!

The shuttle was picking me up between 8:20 and 8:40 this morning to take me to the airport.  So I set 2 alarms on my phone for 7:30.  Then stayed up way late  trying to make sure I had everything.  Got my suitcase and bag loaded up and at the front door.  Clothes laid out to wear on the plane.  Made sure I had my battery charger for my camera and phone.  Loaded up my film camera and flash and stuff.  Then finally crashed around 4am.

I got woken up by my home phone ringing at 8:30am.  It was Super Shuttle calling to tell me they were outside.  ACK!!!!  PANIC!!!  Run around like a crazy person, throwing on clothes, grabbing house keys, etc.  Somehow I was out the door within about 5-10 minutes.  I didn’t even brush my teeth or my hair.  😛 

On the way to the airport (I was the only passenger…dammit, I could’ve slowed down my mad rush a bit if I’d known that) I realized I’d forgotten to grab my glasses out of my car.  I don’t need them much, but would’ve been nice to have them for the games this weekend.  Oh well.

I get to the airport and check in for my 10:50 flight to San Antonio and find that an earlier flight had been cancelled, so they are pretty sure this one will be full and I won’t make it on (flying standby essentially on one of Red Baron’s passes).  As this is a new experience for me, I’m a little panicked about what to do if I don’t make it on that flight.  I was supposed to fly there then change planes for San Diego (stupid Wright Amendment). 

I figure I won’t panic yet and will just wait and see what happens.  If I miss the flight, I’ll go find some nice Southwest employee to help me.  When they get ready to start loading, they announce that they are guaranteeing ALL people from the cancelled flight will be boarded.  I’m thinking this doesn’t sound good for me.  But in the end, I make it onto the plane at the last minute and am on my way.

I find a seat next to two older (40s maybe) ladies who seem to be having a good ol’ time.  Apparently one or both are school teachers and/or a principal.  Their conversations were amusing (and also scary considering they are educators of some sort).  At one point, I shit you not, the lady by the window tells the other she just doesn’t get the whole tsunami thing, “Why couldn’t they just swim with it?”

I was completely dumbfounded.  Then she starts talking about not liking Iranians or something.  The other lady was like, “yeah, probably not something you should be saying on a plane.  There might be one sitting near us.”

Finally they put in a dvd on their laptop and I didn’t have to hear anymore insanity.

The flight from San Antonio to San Diego was much easier.  I show up to check in and they immediately give me a boarding pass.  Yes, I’m definitely on the next flight, so I call my brother in San Diego to let him know so he’ll know when to pick me up.

Got here around 5pm Dallas time and hung out with my sis-in-law for a bit.  Dilbert had to go back into the office for a 4pm (6pm CT) meeting.  In about an hour, we’re going to dinner.  Good thing, too.  I’m starving and have had nothing more than airplane snacks and coffee today.

P.S.  I ended up bringing 3 pairs of shoes.  And wish I’d have grabbed my black boots as well.  It’s freaking cold and I have 2 pair of sandals.  Brilliant.

I hate packing.

I dropped my dog off at the PetsHotel earlier.  That was an adventure.  She is sooo not good around other dogs.  And of course, there’s about a dozen dogs hanging around with their owners, either being picked up or dropped off, when I show up.  They finally came and got Mazzy and took her back to her “room” while I waited to fill out the paperwork.  I feel like such a bad mother.  They marked her as “aggressive towards other animals.”  She hasn’t been “socialized.”  Her only canine friend was a horny little pekinese my parents rescued off the side of the road.  He thought he was her boyfriend.  It was cute (mostly because he couldn’t reach her no matter how hard he tried…lol). 

Anyway.  She’ll have individual play time and a treat each day.  That sounds like a bad thing, but I know it’ll be good for her.  It better be.  It’s costing me more to board her for a week than it costs to take 5 people to 2 hockey games.  I was in tears most of the evening before dropping her off.  Even more so afterwards.  I miss my baby already.  She’s never been boarded for more than a weekend.  And this is the first night I’ve been in my house without her.  :(

So for the past 2 hours I’ve been trying to get my stuff together to leave for my trip tomorrow.  I’ve checked all the weather forecasts, done laundry, figured out how many clean pairs of underwear I’ll need (and then threw in a few more, just to be safe). 

I’m trying to limit myself to 2 pairs of shoes.  Tennis shoes being the obvious first choice considering the 2 hockey games I’ll be going to.  No, I’m not one of those puckbunnies who gets all dolled up for a game in the hopes that hot hockey player speeding down the ice is suddenly going to look up (way up in this case) and spot me and fall in love and want to make babies.

So anyway, the 2nd pair of shoes is causing problems.  I’d normally bring a brown or black pair.  Then make sure most of my clothes matched with that.  The problem is, of the 100 or so pairs of shoes I have (I’m a freak, I know), I don’t have any comfy cute black sandals or the like.  I need versatile.  Practical.  But still able to be dressed up a little.  I have some brown ones that would work, but because it might get chilly there (and most of my shirts are summery by now) I wanted to bring a light sweater or cardigan or something.  And of course, I only have black ones that fit the bill.

So do I bring the less than practical clunky black sandals and have black sweater, belt, etc to match?  Or do I bring the brown ones and clash?  Black and brown can go together, right?

Sometimes I’m such a girl it makes me sick.

Potpourri

That word is just so lame.  I feel funny just saying it.  But that’s what this entry is going to be:  A combination of incongruous things.

Work is still crazy busy and making me feel utterly defeated because I haven’t been able to swoop in and save the day by working ridiculous hours to knock things out and get caught up.  I’ve done the ridiculous hours, but the catching up part has been elusive.  I’ve got all of these balls up in the air, so it came as no surprise when a few of them started falling today.  Luckily, new boss seems to be aware (thanks in part to old boss, I’m certain) of the fact that I’ve been managing way more than a full workload for some time now.  And has put things in motion to, hopefully, get me some relief soon.

My trip to San Diego is coming up at the end of March (after Dr Honeydew’s visit, of course).  This will be the first real vacation I’ve had since 2000 when Badass and I went to Mexico.  That’s just sad.  I am finally eligible for some of the perks that come with having a pilot for a brother and have yet to be able to take advantage of them.  Finally, I grew a spine and said enough is enough.  I am taking ONE WHOLE WEEK off from work.  Deal with it.

The U.S. Mens’ Olympic hockey started today.  It was on during the day, so of course I missed it.  Sadder than that, I completely forgot it was happening today.  And the most disheartening of all….our beloved team, filled to the brim with professional NHL players, TIED.  With Latvia.  Who the fook is that?  And why didn’t we skate circles around them?!   Oh well…maybe we just got off to a slow start and will start kicking ass now.

I am completely annoyed by the fact that the V-day gift I sent to Dr Honeydew has still not been received.  The ridiculous part is that, his real  gift was a preorder item that wasn’t scheduled to ship out until 2/14.  And since I didn’t want him to not get ANYTHING from me on the actual day, I sent him a little something else, along with a card, so that he’d atleast know I had thought of him.  I didn’t get it mailed as early as I planned, but still.  He should’ve had it by today.  I checked the status of the preorder item and it is scheduled to be delivered tomorrow.  The item I mailed Monday is not even showing up in the damn USPS tracking yet.  WTF?!

I did my taxes last weekend.  That was a pleasant surprise.  I had only been in my house for 3 months in 2004, so I didn’t get much benefit from the mortgage interest deduction.  This year, however, I’m getting more than double back over last year’s refund.  Woohooo!  Now the problem is figuring out what to do with it.  Put it towards another car?  Buy that much wanted new furniture?  Put it towards my credit card bill?  Buy that new digital SLR I’ve been eyeballing?  Put it in savings for emergencies?  I know I’ll keep some of it as spending money for my trip to California.  But I’d really like to do something useful with the rest.  With it alone, I can’t completely pay for new furniture or buy another car or pay off my debt.  But it would be a decent chunk towards any of those.  Putting it towards my debt, while probably smart, wouldn’t be very satisfying.  I’ll probably just hold onto it for awhile until I can decide.  I just don’t want to end up spending little bits and pieces here and there on random crap. 

Pheh.  It’s late.  I should try to get some sleep I suppose.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day anymore.

Oh…and P.S.  Could my dog possibly stop shedding?!  Damn.  I just vaccuumed and there is already hair all over the place again.  Stupid weather needs to make up its mind.