Thursday, October 30, 2008

The End of Vacation

Cabin number two was more remote than the first. It was in the Stevens Pass area in the Cascade Mountains. Being a kid from the Plains I haven’t had much experience with mountains. Sure, I drive through Pennsylvania plenty of times but that was about it. These mountains were beautiful our ears popped continuously and Tony was a little scared of my driving. I wasn’t going above the speed limit (was below it plenty because f the rain), was keeping with traffic and was being perfectly safe. He just wasn’t as sure about all that as I was. I was having a blast on those curves. We had a little problem finding our turn off because Tony didn’t realize the directions were two pages but that was solved relatively quickly and we made our turn and came upon this.

Yes, that is a one car at a time wooden bridge with a 5mph speed limit. I wasn’t scared driving on winding roads up and down mountains in the rain but that bridge kind of freaked me out. The rest of the drive up to the cabin was pretty scary. Lots of turns and dirt roads and places where you could fall in ditches. We made it and all was well. I didn’t snap a shot of the outside of this cabin as you drove up which is a shame but the real beauty of the place was the view. You have the views from the living room, the balcony, and the other side of the living room. Unfortunately, it rained the whole time we were there and we didn’t get to hike around like we wanted. Someone from the area might not have been bothered by the rain but we city folk weren’t having it. We did have a rainy hot tub experience and it was fun but very cold upon getting out. I wished that tub had a cover over it like the other one.

While our first spot was all about luxury, this one was all about being in the woods at a good old fashioned log cabin. We made a fire in the big fireplace, kept the fire going in the pellet stove, and sat down with board games and an extensively random VHS collection. It was quite the cozy time. The second night I made a wild mushroom alfredo on this scary old fashioned stove that was just delectable. I used Lobster mushrooms, chanterelles, and a chef’s sampler of all kinds of random mushrooms. I caramelized an onion and then threw them in the skillet, how yummy is that? After they had cooked down I dusted them with flour, poured down some milk, and dumped in some Gouda. The plate was garnished with fresh chives and we sat down to look at the river and the mountains to eat. I had taken a really great picture of the plate but it didn’t download for some reason so you get us making faces and tucking our napkins into our shirts while we eat instead.

The last morning I woke up and was leisurely cooking breakfast when the maid drove up…WHAT? Apparently checkout was at 11. I thought it was 3. I told her I thought it was 12. I woke tony up and we rushed out of there. We got a motel on the road to shower and catch some more sleep since our plane wasn’t until 11:30 that night. It is very strange to drive up to a motel and tell them you need a room for a few hours. Oh well. The rest of the way back was rather uneventful. We stopped at a mall somewhere to try to find a book. There was no bookstore in the mall…WHAT? We went to a casino by the airport but there were no slot machines, only real games…WHAT? The flight was uneventful and we made it to our apartment at 5something the next morning. We proceeded to sleep for days. We still haven’t unpacked. So it goes.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Vacation Part 2

Once we were certain that we weren’t going to die we were able to settle down and enjoy our place. The climate was like nothing I had experienced in my Midwest/East Coast living. Technically, it was a rainforest. Everything outside was constantly damp although it didn’t really rain a lot at all. It would mist or even lightly drizzle for 5-10 minute time spans here and there. I think once it really came down for about two or three minutes. It was pretty cool. The fact that the hot tub was under a gazebo didn’t hurt either cause that meant none of that drizzle got in the way of our relaxing.

I spent a good portion of the first morning/afternoon in the yard trying to hone my badminton skills so that I could destroy Tony when he woke up. Although I played badminton in high school I hadn’t picked up a racket since. I had certainly lost some skills. It didn’t matter, though, although Tony was totally into the game he didn’t have much of a chance against me. If we both practiced he would probably surpass me relatively quickly. He has a large height/reach advantage over me. I also spent some time communing with nature.

We had expected to see tons of wildlife while out in the woods, not so much. We saw a few raccoons while driving lost and contemplating death. On the property itself there were some birds, many slugs, and one absolutely adorable squirrel. It was with this squirrel that I spent a lot of time. I spotted him through the window going up into a little squirrel house. He would dart in, grab a sunflower seed, and dart out again to a stump. He went back and forth, back and forth, for a good 20 minutes before I decided to go out and take a closer look. The squirrels I am accustomed to are city squirrels; big fat gray creatures that, while cute, are nothing to write home about. This little guy was about the size of a chipmunk and had an adorable reddish tummy. His little tail curled about him ever so preciously. I was hooked.

I went outside and started taking pictures, after about 30 attempts I got this one of him on the ledge of his home. I have many of him scampering down the pole, half in the house, or nowhere to be seen in the frame. He was a fast little guy. I then took pictures of him by his stump home. He was quite friendly and let me get close enough to snap this gem. However, it was when he was perched atop the stump looking down at me when he first chirped. I was astonished. Big city squirrels do not make noise. Certainly not noise that sounds like a bird’s song. I thought it might have been a bird but as he chirped his tail gave a twitch. It was awesome. He might be my favorite thing I saw on the whole trip. Tony almost didn’t believe me about the chirping but was able to see/hear him the next morning so I didn’t appear crazy.

We spent the rest of the night grilling, playing board games, watching movies, hot tubbing, and just having a good time. We were able to take our time leaving in the morning and headed off to cabin number two. I could certainly see us going back to this place someday.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

TV Night

A brief break from Vacation stories to talk a little about last nights TV programs. It was a hard and long night. It started with Leanne winning Project Runway. It wasn’t a surprise. We knew months ago when we looked at the collections online that she was going to win. It was a good collection. Jerrell, my favorite, was already gone so I didn’t have too much invested in the episode. As long as Kenley lost, and she did, all was right in the world. Man was her collection ugly and stolen. I am quite sad to see Project runway go. I know it won’t be returning to Bravo *cry* and Monica said there are complications with the move to Lifetime so the current season may never be shown at all. What a sad world this world will be without Project Runway. However, Top Chef is starting up again soon so, yeah.

Then there was the debate. I am so glad that it was the last one because I think any more and my head may have actually exploded. I couldn’t believe that three of the six Joe Sixpacks they interviewed after the debate on NBC were planning to vote for McCain after that mess. One said Obama. Two said nothing. Were they watching the same debate that I was? I read an article this morning that said McCain was attacking (true) and winning because of it (really?) and was making Obama uncomfortable (huh?). The biggest moment of discomfort I saw was the stunned look on McCain’s face when Obama explained the lack of penalties good old Joe the Plumber would pay under his healthcare plan. He looked like someone had asked him what the Bush Doctrine was.

Anyway, from what I saw it was an easy win for Obama. He kept cool, stuck to (and expanded on) his talking points, and made a whole lot of rational sense. McCain got angry, didn’t back up his claims, and both looked and sounded like a crazy person. If he manages to pull this one out all I’ll be able to do is speak like Maya Angelou (aka David Alan Grier) and say, “President elect John McCain…ain’t that a bitch,” which leads me to the point that Chocolate News was a lot funnier than I expected it to be. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Vacation Part 1

So I am back in the real world after 12 days of no alarms, very little required things to do, and lots of hanging out in bathrobes. Needless to say I am somewhat sad to have returned.

We flew into the Seattle/Tacoma airport on Saturday the 4th and had a very uneventful trip, rented a car and got on our way. We headed to the Seattle to get on the Bainbridge island Ferry. My impression of Seattle was, WOW. Hills. Kind of scary to drive down a hill and not be able to see the bottom. That’s about all we saw of Seattle though. We get a glimpse of the space needle from the plane and from the ferry deck and I feel that legitimized the trip. We drove off the ferry directly onto the road we needed to be on and followed the directions to the best grocery store ever. Oh, Central Market, Poulsbo. How I miss you. I never expected to find a 24hr grocery store filled with tons of gourmet produce and the biggest selection of vegetarian meat type products I have ever seen in the middle of nowhere Washington but I did. We walked in to a cart of fresh chanterelles and lobster mushrooms. I knew that I would be making a mushroom alfredo at some point during our trip. We stocked up and headed out to the Maplebrook Retreat.

The directions we had were a little…confusing. We spent a VERY long time looking for Front Street and never found it. We even stopped and asked someone where it was, they seemed to know exactly but their directions didn't help us much either. I think it’s a fake name. We started to think that maybe this place did not really exist and that some people made a website to direct unsuspecting people to the middle of the woods and kill them, or simply to take their money for a nonexistent property. We soon found the street after Front Street on our list of directions and took that, hoping that we weren’t heading to our deaths.

The next direction told us to look for an old bus stop around mile marker 2 with some mailboxes in front of it and turn onto the dirt road. I’m a city girl. To me a bus stop has a bench, a sign, and maybe a little enclosure to shield you from the elements. We drove and drove on a barely lit 2 lane highway at speeds of 50mph so as not to get hit by cars around us looking for a bus stop. We found mile marker 2 but no bus stop. We found the street that let us know we had gone too far and needed to turn around. We drove back and forth between mile marker 2 and the street that was too far for a while. There were a couple of dirt roads with mailboxes but no bus stops.

“There it is!” Tony shouted, and pointed to a small shack. “What do you mean?” I replied. I saw nothing resembling a bus stop. He explained that there was an old warming house for kids to wait for a school bus and I was passing it. I supposed he was right and we turned around to turn up that proper dirt road and look for the property. I turned on the brights (or held them on because I couldn’t figure out how to make them stay on) and we looked for our property number. We were still terrified. It was a scary place. We found the property number and turned up the drive.

As soon as we made the turn we were greeted with small lights leading up a winding drive to a very well lit cabin. The thoughts of death started to abate. As we pulled in fully we saw a covered, and well lit, hot tub beckoning us. We opened the door and were greeted with dim lighting, soft music, and wonderful smelling candles. We walked through the cabin and found the most luxurious bedroom, opened the closet to find cushy wonderful bathrobes, and quickly decided that we were certainly not going to die and were instead going to have a wonderful time.

In the day, everything was much, much, less scary.