Monday, August 30, 2010

Ending August with a bang.

On Sunday morning, August 29th, Justin and I decided to go hiking. We had the whole day in front of us with a great night sleep behind us so why not? The weather wasn't fabulous but we're used to that as relative western Washington natives. We decided to do the Granite mountain hike which is a hike up in the cascades- I believe it's around 8-9 miles or so. Straight up. We knew going in it's tough- mainly because Justin has done it before and I believed he was telling the truth when he told me so.

Before heading out, we fueled up with fruity pancakes topped with syrup and peanut butter made by that boy himself. Have I mentioned he's a much better cook than me? We're a pretty good tag team in the kitchen and undoubtedly I think I probably make SOME things better than him but really? He's a much, much better improv cook than I am. This is probably another post entirely. Needless to say, the pancakes were fabulous and a great precursor to a tough hike.

We got all packed up with snacks and blankets for the top of the hike (On this, I didn't REALLY believe him when he told me how cold it would be at the top of the hike...) and we headed out the door.

Once there we signed in at the trailhead... you sign in and attach a tag to your stuff so that the national park service knows who is using the trails, and it's used in case there are any lost hikers as well. We met with a random couple at this point who told us a great story. They had had European vistors a few years back and they took them on this hike. They signed their names and everything and attached the tags and then their visitors basically SPRINTED up the mountain. The couple said they just let them go because they were going so fast they couldn't keep up. Eventually, later after the hike, the Europeans were talking to someone and said that they thought Americans were the bravest people in the world for doing hikes where you had to sign your names/attach tags in the case that you got eaten by a bear or other wild animal. So, they were going so fast because they figured they were going to get attacked! We had a good laugh at that.

After signing in and chatting with the couple and laughing at their story, we were on our way...

Almost to the top at what I will call the boulder part... Not the most attractive picture because we are a sweaty mess at this point. So you guys, let me just say: this hike was HARD. I mean, I knew it would be, I believed it, but WOW. I started off leading and was doing great at an awesome pace. I forgot though that I didn't have a pack and Justin did so I'm pretty sure he was convinced I was trying to kill him off. Thank god he did have a pack though because I almost killed myself off too. He started to lead and we went at a much more reasonable (but still great) pace. It was a HARD hike.

Getting hot, the clothes are coming off....

Nearing the tree line...

And closer to the top, it's getting colder so the clothes were put back on. I think he is a little sick of this crazy girl taking pictures.

Annnnd... finally at the top by the weather center tower. IT WAS FREEZING. I admit...though I hesitated just slightly and didn't fully believe Justin when he said it would be cold and was just being a good, supportive girlfriend by packing extra hats and blankets: Justin was right. Completely. Thank god he is such a planner/preparer otherwise I would not be alive anymore and would be an ice statue on the top of granite mountain.

And another cool shot from the top. We snacked at the top and cuddled up under blankets before heading down. And let me just say? THAT BOY IS A NIMBLE DUDE on the downhills. I have said this every time I've hiked with him but HOLY HELL. We pretty much sprint down, it's absolutely unbelievable. I only wiped out once (this time) but he was already around the corner and didn't see me. I told the guy that saw me, "ssssh don't tell my boyfriend." We laughed and I then continued sprinting after my nimble guy. We burned about 3000 calories (according to Justin's heartrate monitor) on the total hike. It was just incredible and a great way to spend a sunday.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A tale of a big metal truck: a sad, sad day

On August 25th, we woke up at the ass crack to get Ashley to the airport for her early morning flight. It actually worked out great because I had CPE (continuing education classes that are required in our profession) so I had to be at the class first thing. After dropping Ashley off at the airport, I was happily headed north on 405. It should be noted here that 405 is arguably the WORST freeway in the United States. It's right up there. If it's misting or foggy or actually (gasp!) RAINING, people that are on 405 are absolute idiots. Turns out the sun can be a problem too, you know, because we aren't really used to that yellow ball of light up here... especially after such a dismally cool summer of essentially no sun.


That sun? Apparently made me blind. The sun was in my eyes, traffic was moving finally, and all of a sudden BAAAAAMMMM. Crunch. Ow.

Oh and by the way? What the fuck?

My poor little mini and it's sun-blinded driver decided to meet a big old tanker truck face to face going about 20 mph. Our lane was the only lane that came to an abrupt stop and due to the sun, I didn't see the truck slam on it's brakes.


At that point I thought I was dying because my seat belt had basically seared into my body upon impact and my car smelled like it could blow up in about two seconds and was throwing smoke at me.

But, I have to give mini cooper credit: once again, even in a shitty time, they manage to be cute. On the dash after the crash, the mini told me that I had indeed been in a crash with a little wrecked mini cooper symbol along with blinking lights and bells. No kidding, SHERLOCK.


We managed to pull to an off ramp where a state patrolman showed up and of course there's no damage to the big tanker truck, only to my poor little car...and it's all my fault. Ugh. Meanwhile, I'm about to keel over from feeling like I got hit by a truck. Literally.

I call Justin and tell him that I'm not having the best day and that sweet boy got in his truck to come pick me up...and endured more of the 405 traffic hell himself on the way to me. We got a tow truck since my car was in no shape to be driven anywhere and then promptly went shopping. I have to give Justin massive props for knowing me well enough to know what would take my mind off of the events of the morning...and the fact that I just plain felt like crap. After shopping and some retail therapy with the rather cute boy, I borrowed his truck and went home and slept and then had the brilliant idea that I was ok enough to work out. So after picking up my gorgeous rental car (a white Kia, classy) I headed straight to the gym. Upon walking in Justin gave me a look like, "really, you stubborn ass? Really?" NOTE to self, he might have been right: working out after a pretty intense accident is not the brightest idea I've ever had. Was. not. fun.

Later that night, I was even more off kilter. On the way to pick up Justin's truck from the rental car place (I drove it there to pick up the car and then left it there since he was working), I managed to somehow fall down all of the steps of my house and right onto my ass on the sidewalk. Justin's looking at me (and I think holding back laughter) like, "really, girl, are you ok?" Then 15 minutes later when we returned? I locked all keys to my house inside of the garage in the rental car. Let me tell you: all of this takes some mad talent. I wasn't able to rescue them until the next day.

By this point in the day after trying to kill myself a few times and feeling bad enough in a way that I convince myself that I pretty much almost suceeded, I promptly put on a helmet and pads and sat in a blanket fort on the couch being cuddled by that boy I love for the rest of the night. It seemed like the safest bet. It was.

Some photos of the carnage:

Basically the whole front end of the car had to be rebuilt (I know this now as I write it a couple months later)... the radiator, the turbo/supercharger, both headlights, total hood replacement, etc, etc. (Literally for a month, I got a call everyday on something else that needed to be replaced or rebuilt). Luckily I hit the truck on such a spot that it didn't cause the airbags to go off... that would have been REALLY bad.

More of the damage... though it doesn't look that bad from this angle.

And one more shot.... poor little Alfred. He got hurt. The damage ended up being about $10K. Mini parts are expensive and there was quite a lot that needed to be done, as I already mentioned. AND, it took about 4 weeks to fix. For the last week, I, er, Justin, was filling up the classy Kia's tires every morning as it had a flat tire from the get go (but only really deflated towards the end of the 4 weeks). That was fun.

And of course: to add insult to injury after my accident- the $175 ticket. I go to court on October 14 to try to defer it. We'll see what happens. As I write this, I'm just happy to have my little mini Alfred car back.
A weird note: this accident happened almost 4 years to the DAY that the lady at Walgreens hit my other mini, little Winston. Crazy, huh? Let's just say that in another four years in 2014 I will refuse to drive for the month of August... or at least during that middle week of August...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Exploring Seattle, day 2

Tuesday, August 24, Ashley and I set out the day again to explore this beautiful city. I told her we could do whatever she wanted to do but from the get go, she had one goal for this trip: conquer Mount Si. DEAL, I am IN. So, we decided that after we'd recovered from the weekend, Tuesday would be the perfect day for such a quest. We had breakfast (and let me just say: thank GOD Ashley was convinced to eat after watching me eat a bowl of cereal otherwise she would have died on the hike), packed up some snacks, and headed out. We had a PERFECT day. Since it was not a weekend, there was really no one on the trail and it was absolutely gorgeous weather.

Almost to the top, looking at the cascade mountains.

Both of us at the top...we made it!

And an absolutely amazing view of Rainier at the top where we stopped to snack and rest. I'm SO glad that we had such a good day for this hike so that Ashley could see the views. It's really not too exciting when you can't see anything... although it's always a great workout.

Once we got back to my car, we found that a bird had some fun. Yuck.

Right after Si, we changed into non-hiking clothes and headed straight to the perfect after-hike activity: a winery. Well, perhaps it blows the workout but who cares, wineries and wine tastings are FUN! We went to Chateau St Michelle because they make one of the wines that Ashley used to sell (and loved) when she was working as a bartender. The above is one of the buildings at the winery- gorgeous grounds.

Ashley outside of the tasting room.

And getting ready to taste... I think we paid $10 each and as a result we got to taste all 8 wines. 4 reds, 4 whites. By the end, we had a guy who was just giving us double tastes of each so it ended up being a great deal. Oh, and he gave us HUGE pours. It's too bad we had other things to do otherwise we could have really done some damage on that wine. I actually liked the chardonnay that we tasted best. The other whites were too sweet and the reds were just kind of gross. Surprising because I generally like the Chateau's wines (and usually don't like whites at all) but I think the tasting that day was a segment of their wines that I wasn't too familiar with and don't usually drink.

MMMM, yummy! Was so fun. Right after we tasted, we headed straight to whole foods to get a bunch of goodies (bread, sushi, cheeses, grapes...basically the best little finger foods ever) for our activity we had planned that night....

Meeting Justin for the Bellevue outdoor movie. The city of Bellevue (along with many other cities in the Seattle area) have outdoor movie nights during the summer which are free to go to... and are quite awesome, I might add. Justin and I had been a couple of times and when we found out the movie that Tuesday night was Harry Potter, we were in (Ashley loves Harry Potter). So we packed up big blankets and took our food and buckled down for the movie night. Perfect weather, too, I might add.

Our spread of food... after hiking and several glasses of wine, Ashley and I pretty much bought everything in Whole Foods.

A shot of Miss Ashley as we were snacking and waiting on the movie to start. All in all, another perfect day!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Touring the city of Seattle.

Ashley and I woke up on monday morning of her visit feeling well rested. We decided that after our weekend of playing and gluttony we NEEDED to work out. In a bad way. So we headed straight to the gym for an hour workout. After working out and cleaning up, we headed to downtown Seattle. When Ash visited in 2008, she loved pike place so a trip back was warranted.

The flowers at Pike Place- always so beautiful this time of year.

And SCORE! A 99 cent donut.

We had UNBELIEVABLE weather that week. Looking down towards the stadiums from Pike.

And looking out across the sound towards the Olympic mountains from Pike. Gorgeous.

I took Ashley up to Ballard since she hadn't been there before... we first stopped at the golden garden park. Here's a shot of the sound and the Olympic mountains. Beautiful.

One more shot from our little stroll at golden gardens.

We then went to the lochs in Ballard which is always fun too.

And another picture of the lochs in Seattle.
After our adventures, we headed back to the eastside of the water to get ready to go to dinner. We had planned on going to sushi but the favorite place I love in Seattle for sushi (Wasabi Bistro) was closed for remodeling (WHAT?!) So we decided on another Seattle restaurant favorite, Wild Ginger. We met up with Justin and had a nice, relaxing dinner. It was an easy end to a day of exploring the city.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Post wedding adventure east.

The morning after the wedding in Arlington, we all got up a little, um, groggy. Certainly NOT hungover. No way. We had to wring ourselves out of our tents from all of the water that had pooled up around them after the massive monsoon that had come through during the night but we did so and eventually around 11am that morning, packed up all of our tents and camping gear and made our way out of the wedding venue and on to bigger and better things. Justin's mom had rented a cabin for the week in the surrounding area so we headed there first to drop off Bailey and Oliver... and to shower, eat and just generally do things so that we could all feel just a tad bit more know, to get rid of that grogginess. That may or may not have been induced by bourbon. WHO KNOWS.

After spending some time at the cabin snacking and getting clean, we decided to take Ashley east of the mountains to Leavenworth. It's a little bavarian/german town about 1.5 hours away from Seattle. I've been there before, a couple of times, and am always in awe of how cute this little town is... and how picturesque it is. It's right at the base of the cascade mountains, on the sunny side. This was the perfect time of year to go and it was a great thing to do with Ashley so that she could see a different part of the state. AND, bonus, turns out that this special guy in my life is FROM Leavenworth so we had our own personal tour guide. In the few times that I have been to Leavenworth, I don't think I quite saw it in the same way that I saw it with Justin- someone who knows the town innately.

Our first stop was at sleeping lady, a resort just outside of Leavenworth. I had never even been to this location, never even knew it was here, even though I'd driven by it multiple times on the way to Icicle Creek, a place I have camped and hiked before. But Justin used to work here when he lived in Leavenworth so he showed us the whole HUGE resort, which was built on the principle of sustainability. I was completely blown away. We ate at a little cafe there before exploring the grounds where we got the MOST GIANT monster cookie EVER. I think it weighed 10 pounds.

Eating the giant cookie. Yum.

After lunch, we started to explore the grounds. This is Justin walking through the garden where the resort grows all of their own vegetables.

And a shot of the mountains, the "sleeping lady"... Kind of hard to tell from the picture but literally the mountains look like a lady sleeping. Kind of cool. Sidenote: look how sunny it is here!
And, another shot of the garden. We had great plans to hike while in Leavenworth but I think all of us were feeling rather tired from the wedding the night before so instead, we took it easy and just explored.
After leaving sleeping lady, we took a tour through Leavenworth and saw where Justin used to live and then headed to the main drag... at which point I stopped taking pictures, though I'm not sure why. We stopped at Justin's friend Damien's chocoloate shop and got little gourmet, handmade chocolates which were TO DIE FOR (not kidding), then went wine tasting, then ate dinner at a local restuarant in town where Ashley and I split a bottle of sangria. Because we are intelligent like that. The food (and sangria) were all fabulous. After all of that, we had to get hot chocolates for the road (because we needed more to eat and drink) and we were on our way. We made it back to Seattle around 10.30pm at which point I have no memory as all of us promptly passed out. It was a great weekend.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Miss Ashley visits Washington and a wedding up north.

On August 21st my friend Ashley flew in from Dallas, Texas to visit me in Seattle. It was a trip that had been planned for a couple of months and I was SO excited to see her. I had planned on attending a wedding that day up north in Arlington, Washington (more on that later) so after spending the previous night at the rehearsal dinner, driving home to Seattle to pick her up from the airport and frantically throwing everything into a rather small mini cooper that we needed for the wedding night, (you know, like tents because it's common to sleep in a field the night of a wedding) we were on our way.

Once up there, we broke out the camera since we were all fancy.

Two boys that I adore: Bailey and Oliver...

Annnnnd...(drumroll) to make his grand appearance on this humble blog of mine: That Boy, as he has affectionately been called by several of my friends. Or that boy who trained me for over a year (yes, the same trainer that played a role in the superman stunt). Or that boy who was one of my very good friends for over a year. Or we can just call him Justin. Oh wait. But he's kissing me. Weird. Baaaaack up.

Most people that read this blog know what's been going on in my personal life over the past year. If you don't, then you probably aren't one of my close friends and you don't need to know the intimate details. I've excluded all of that crap from this blog for personal reasons, and mostly because it's not really anyone's damn business. I kept up appearances on this blog mostly because the things that I was dealing with and going through were a) no one's damn business and b) I didn't want to hear about it until I was ready to talk about it. Some advice I once got: "No matter what horrible thing you're going through, when it's all over, it only takes three seconds to sum it up. Remember that."
So, to sum it up: some things happened that I care to never discuss here, and probably never anywhere else for that matter, Tim and I are divorced, and after some time that boy, er, Justin and I eventually realized that, hey, we might have something here, let's just try it out, despite both of our failed attempts at relationships and our hesitancy that said relationships could actually work for once. So far so good. I expect you'll see much more of this boy on the blog going forward.
And one more word on this before I close the subject: I am in absolute awe of the facts of my life right now. Things have happened that I did not expect to happen. They hurt. They sucked. I cried. But now, I am only looking forward. And this boy, That Boy, Justin- came into my life in an unexpected moment, in an unexpected way- at least in the capacity that he is in my life now. As I said, we've been friends for a long time. But something shifted for both of us and came together, something was on our side working for the bigger picture to give us this- the ability to see through all of the muck in our respective pasts, to define love, to laugh, to see into the future, to feel true happiness, to find fulfillment, and to understand another person in such an innate way, that regardless of time together, as of this moment we know that our paths were destined to join together to experience this- something that we both deserve.
The wedding in Arlington was Justin's brother's wedding. It was on a gorgeous piece of land and the weather couldn't have been better. Justin was best man. Here he is walking down the isle with little Oliver (the ring bearer and his brother's step son).

Several generations of men in J's family... dad, brother, Justin, and baby Oliver. I'm sad to say I didn't get any pictures of the bride which is a shame because she was absolutely STUNNING.

After the ceremony, we all got ready to celebrate with the beautiful couple and dance the night away. Above: me, our new friend Lindsay, Justin's mom, and Ashley.


Times two.
Maybe times three. I was so happy Ashley was able to come visit. We had such a fun time at the wedding.

Later in the night...taking a break from dancing and dancing... and possibly taking a small break from the bourbon too?

Oliver, Justin and me.

Oliver, Bailey, Justin, and me. We were dancing fools. Along with Ashley and Lindsay, of course. Later that night we packed it in to tents to sleep for the night in the fields. Wouldn't you know it, it POURED. Luckily I think most of us stayed dry. We'll stop the stories there. Some of the stories from that night stayed in Arlington...along with a nearly empty bottle of bourbon...