Sunday, July 28, 2013

Golden State!

Here's a neat photo from a Paramount Studios book documenting parts of California that can stand in for other locations in the world.  It looks like it's sourced several times over but the original appears on Flickr.
This weekend, we were somewhere between Sherwood Forest and the Kentucky Mountains.  We went up to Big Bear for a great weekend of camping, rock climbing, playing in the lake and hanging out with friends.  It was so much fun!

We left Friday around 3:30.  We meant to leave at 1 but then had several errands we wanted to do before we left town.  The errands were very successful- we got fabric for our couch reupholstering and we each had a delicious hot dog with a side of shared "Frings" (fries and onion rings).   I am pretty stoked about the couch reupholstering.  We got a heather gray microfiber that looked great on furniture in the store.  It looks like it will hold up pretty well and will be able to withstand a little bit of abuse.  Linen sounded a little too high-maintanance and stain-prone.  The "performance velvet" felt amazing and looked pretty cool but we could see that it might look dated in a few years.  We considered wool for a second but the one they had looked too pill-y so we nixed it.  So, I can't wait for the fabric to come in and then we'll drop the couch off at Hillcrest Upholstery, which has great reviews online.  Hopefully, I'll have an awesome before and after post in the near future!

So, off we went to Big Bear.  We hit some traffic but it wasn't terrible.  We met up with Kelly and Steffanie at North Shore Cafe.  I had a delicious salad with a side of chicken.  I wanted to go heavy on the vegetables before a Saturday filled with S'mores and Dinty Moore (that rhymes!).  Constance joined us and then we headed out to the campsite on a 4WD road.  Um, the Prius has 4WD?  Nope, but we only had one close call in the mud so success!  The stars were amazing.  We admired them for about five minutes and went to bed.

The next day was AWESOME!  SMS did a great 5.11d lead up Public Hanging.  The crux move was a reach over the roof to a hold that took a little bit of movement.  I was nervous about the potential fall but he did great!  We read the guidebook later which says the bolt can be clipped in blindly before the move but SMS said he didn't see how.  I was really happy and proud of his awesome climbing!
Leading "Shoot at Will" and celebrating with Kelly at the end!
I also had a great day!  I did my first two outdoor leads.  I lead a 5.6 early in the day and then a 5.8 later.  The 5.8 was challenging and I was really proud of myself.  Kelly was my belay and she was really encouraging.  SMS had taught me the basics of leading and was also cheering me on but it was nice having two different people help me out.

After a great morning/early afternoon of climbing, we headed to the lake.  We had a great swim.   The shoreline had reeds out to about 20 feet off-shore, but it wasn't slimy and gross.  It was just thick brush, but in the water.  SMS, Constance, Kelly and I paddled around and had so much fun. 
Genius idea!

We headed back to camp minus Steffanie and plus Alexis, a friend of Constance.  We had Dinty Moore beef stew and shared our S'mores supplies.  The S'mores were the winner for awesome campsite food (clearly) but Alexis came in close second with her STACKED wines.  They were four self-sealed plastic glasses of wine that locked into each other in a really neat piece of packaging.  I had a glass of the Cabernet and it was pretty good!  
Lovely ladies and close-up of the picnic food.  No books in sight!

On Sunday, we headed back to San Diego so I could meet up with my book club friends for a picnic in Balboa Park.  It was such a gorgeous day and we had a delicious spread of food.  I had so much fun and really like all the women in that group.  After a few hours, I left to pick up Stacy's birthday cake at Extraordinary Desserts.  It was the chocolate feast called the Viking and it was delicious.  Don't worry, I didn't take a tester taste!  I waited until the birthday girl cut the cake later that evening!  SMS and I went down to Chula Vista and had a great dinner of grilled salmon, asparagus and salad with my in-laws.    Then I had the aforementioned cake and promptly fell asleep at the table.  Kidding!  I made it home before the food/activity coma hit!  

This week, it's time to buckle down and get two papers written (sounds like college!).  I'm also off to Miramar tomorrow to get my household goods shipping dates set.  Although the website said they would call me, the lady on the phone Friday cheerfully said that wasn't true and the service member had to contact them.  Sooo....a few days lost but not too bad.  Definitely wasn't the first and won't be the last hiccup during this PCS.  

Thursday, July 25, 2013


There is no exclamation point after the title.  I am conflicted about my countdowns.  I have an app on my phone called T-0.  Let's take a look at the countdowns and count ups.

Countdowns: 14 days until the end of residency, 64 days until the written boards.  [Not included is countdown until I leave the country, which is too sad to include but take the end of residency and add 15 days.]

Count Up: 46 days married (woot!)

So, I'm sad about leaving SMS and I am starting to freak out about the boards.  I am studying but I am about to start going into high gear.  The problem is thinking about other work projects that need to get done and the time it takes away from studying.  Funny enough, writing blog posts and our upcoming vacations don't stress me out nearly as much!

I've gotten more consistent with working out again, which is good because I was in danger of losing my running fitness.  I'm definitely a little slower right now but I'll start doing some interval work after I get to Japan.  Right now, I'm running 3-5 miles 2-3x week, Pilates 3 times a week and swimming 1-2 x week.
Picnic fixings and the Globe Theater, Instagram'd

This week's highlights include a picnic in the Balboa Park and listening to a Twilight Concert at Sprekels Organ Pavilion prior to seeing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at the Globe Theater.  The picnic was amazing!  Date and prosciuto-stuffed meatballs, berries, heirloom tomatoes, gorgonzola and manchego cheese and onion flatbread.   The play was great- very rapid-fire with a third act particularly notable for existential angst.  Thank goodness for the traveling troubadour character.  He lightened the mood.  This was a belated birthday present from Jenny!  SMS and I also went to brunch with her earlier that day at the Great Maple.  Yesterday, Stacy and I had lunch at Whole Foods and it was nice to hang out with her solo.

This weekend, we may go climb at Big Bear.  I also have a book club picnic on Sunday and Stacy's birthday dinner in the evening.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Newport Weekend!

Last week was pretty awesome!  I got back into the Pilates groove, had taco Tuesday dinner with my friend Jen, went to Del Mar opening day races and on Thursday, had a really great gym climbing session where I did two 10c routes!  

Del Mar races opening day was pretty crazy.  It was fun and I'm definitely glad I went.  At the same time, I think I had my fill of opening day craziness.   If I go again this Summer, I'm either going to pay for a box or bring my folding chairs and cooler!  That would be fun but Summer is flying by and I'm not sure if we'll make it again.

On Friday, I headed up to Newport with SMS for the weekend!

We brought the surfboard which was a pain-in-the-ass to bring in the car.  Fortunately, I made really good use of it.

We hit up several restaurants on Saturday, which made me feel like a piggly-wiggly by the end of the day but food was really good.  We went to Eat CHOW for breakfast and split a breakfast salad (a riff on Eggs Benedict, really) and lemon mascarpone French Toast that was incredible!  It was almond-coated baguette with thin layers of lemon mascarpone and it was phenomenal!  The Breakfast Salad was good too- multi-grain toast with avocado, poached eggs, smoked salmon and pesto.

I was shocked we were hungry for lunch but time worked it's magic and we were excited for Santa Monica Seafoods which was delicious!  I had lobster tacos that were awesome and generous with the lobster.  SMS had a tuna melt and we split oysters.
Lobster Tacos, yum!
Dinner was pushing it but we went to Wildfish.  The absolute highlight was the pineapple upside down cake that they flambeed table side and it had a cream cheese center.  Amazing.  I also had the lobster bisque and the Chilean sea bass, which I felt guilty eating since it's not sustainable.  But it came highly recommended and practices have changed so I felt a little better.  It was good but honestly, a bit much after a day of epic eating!

Sunday started with a run that went from a planned three miles to six miles!  I felt good about that!  SMS got my rear end out the door (it fit!  ha, ha!) and we started running to the first pier.  I looked at the second and wanted to hit that as a landmark so we continued on.   We also took the last half mile or so at a pretty quick pace so we felt pretty great.  Then we went to Alta and had a comparatively light breakfast- split a piece of coffee cake and a bueno bowl.  We did some laundry, I did the aforementioned surfing, we picked up the place a bit and then headed home.  We stopped off at Seaside Market, VG Donuts, Rip and Linda's house and finally home.  I went to Mesa Rim for a lead climbing class but I was told the wrong time.  I swear I was told 6:30 and I even showed up at 6 to warm-up and the front desk folks said it started at 5.  What!?!?  Since most of the classes start at 6:30, the best we could figure out is I was given the wrong time.  Anyway, I'm now scheduled for the 12 August class and SMS taught me some lead climbing skills tonight so I recovered.  Unlike me on a surfboard.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Changing my Name

I had always had the vague thought that I would change my name when I got married.  I liked the idea of the change marking the transition from single to married.  I also liked the idea of having my new family having the same name.  As I got older and more professionally accomplished, I started thinking it would be harder to change my name.  It was and it wasn't.  I think, no matter what, there's always an adjustment to a big change and changing my name was certainly that.  It wasn't hard because I happen to be in a place in my career where I haven't published a lot, nor have I had a lot of independent practice since I've been in post-graduate training for eleventy-billion years.  But still, it is a big deal.  While you may have differing views on what it means to change your name, here's some straight-forward tips on the paperwork.

First, obtain multiple official/certified copies of your marriage certificate.  Most places need a copy, although if you're doing the paperwork in person, you will get the certificate right back.  I didn't realize this and ordered too many.  Six copies would have been plenty. (Although now I can skip down the street shouting, "I'm married!" while blithely tossing certified copies right and left).

Next stop, Social Security.  You can do this by mail but I chose to stop be the office in downtown San Diego.  Apparently, they really enforce parking rules around here which, honestly, is all of downtown San Diego but one nurse gave me dire warnings about making sure I didn't get towed at the start of rush hour.  The lobby was full but I was done in 25 minutes.  You need documents proving your identity, name change and U.S. citizenship.  Bring these documents along with your application and you will be set.

I received a letter stating, in effect, that my card was on its way.  The SS guy told me that in California, this is enough to bring to DMV to get a new license that day.  This varies from state to state.  I went to DMV because I had some momentum going.  This momentum stopped when I saw the DMV line so I made an appointment for the next week.  I took this time to change my license from VA to CA, so I also filled out my new voter registration.  I needed my old license, my marriage certificate, debit card/check for the fee and enough knowledge to pass the written driver's test.   Success!  Here's a link from CA's DMV site with a helpful checklist.

After the Social Security change, it was time to change my passport.  I dropped my passport in the mail with a copy of my marriage certificate, appropriate fee, typed DS-5504 form and a recent photo of passport quality.  I was so efficient, in fact, that I completely forgot I was going to Canada in two weeks and passports were now required.  (I hadn't been to Canada since 2003).  Dumb me!  Fortunately, I could use my military id and leave paperwork but just be aware in case you don't have that form of id.

Next, I had to change my name with my company in order to make sure everything is ok at tax time.  My company is the US Navy, so I had to route a request chit "respectfully requesting" to change my name.  *Gulp!*  I already had legally.  But really, it's just a form so that the personnel support division (PSD) can forward it to the central pay office to change the name.  Once that takes effect (~3 weeks), I can change my ID card, email, computer login and hospital badge.  I haven't done that yet because I need to save stuff from my personal drive on the network and email before I switch my accounts.  But I've given myself a deadline of this Friday and the formal name change has been made in the system that counts (DEERS and DFAS).

I've also had to change my name with my bank, insurance company, certification board/ABO-OTO for my September test, VA medical board, NPI, BLS/ACLS.  It's a lot and not all done.  It really just makes for a super lengthy to-do list that is fairly painless.  Now I just need to work on my new signature...

PS: There are some commercial sites that will generate the paperwork for you and articles much better than this one to help you along.   I didn't think the process was too bad.  Just long, ESPECIALLY when I would be somewhere (*cough*the bank*cough*) and realized I had forgotten my marriage certificate.  This was especially annoying since I had so many copies.  I ultimately just put a copy in my  and SMS' glove compartments which guaranteed that I would never forget it again.

Back in SD!

Oh, yeah!  I sort of have a job!  Although I really wanted to maintain the Endless Summer vibe I had going, it was time to head back to work for one month of research.  My clinical responsibilities are done but I am in resident status until 9 August.  Then SMS and I are going on a fun road trip prior to me leaving to Japan.  The actual departure date is something I don't even want to think about- I'm going to be so sad.

Anyway, I'm studying and finishing up projects.  I'm also in the middle of my last week of call which *so far* has been pretty good.  Tonight I'm on duty with a new PGY-2 so it'll be like I'm on primary call so my fingers are crossed for a light night.

Last weekend, between being on call and my stomach, we were pretty mellow.  We went to the beach, hung out around the house and went out to a movie.  It was our first movie date together!   We saw "Now You See Me" which I thought was pretty awesome.  It wasn't very deep, but the magic tricks were so cool and I'll admit, I totally didn't see the twist at the end coming.

I'm also still trying to finish up my name change paperwork.  It's manageable but there's a lot to do.  Add that on to filling out moving/PCS paperwork while juggling two names and it's a fair bit to keep straight but soon I should be set.  What I really need to get moving on is setting up a pack-out date.  Yikes.  At this point, I'll be getting my stuff in November if I don't shake a leg.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Vacation, Part 4: Portland

Dude, this part of the trip was awesome.  I saw a baby black bear and a naked hiker.  Whoa!  First time for everything!
Portland, skyline shots from Laddie's apartment

So, backing up, I dropped SMS off at SEATAC (boo!) and started down towards Portland.  I stopped off at Fire House #9 in Tacoma.  It's a really cool bar converted from a firehouse.  The fireman's pole is still inside!  I ordered a root beer float which was delicious and used the WiFi to catch up on some blogging.  Then, I hit the road and made it to Portland around 7.  Laddie was still at work so I went for a run and realized that if I don't run a lot, I get slow and less graceful.  Let's suspend disbelief for a second and pretend I'm graceful at all.  [But to digress on delusions of gracefulness- does anyone else feel like she is the most graceful swan in a class and then see herself in the mirror and realize that her standing split leg is barely perpendicular to the floor/aerobics are being done in full-body heave mode/about to fall off the pilates machine?  No?  Me neither.]

After Laddie got home, we went out to St. Jack's for dinner.  It was delicious French fare.  We split two delicious salads, including one with baked bacon- yum!  We then split onglet et frittes and a crawfish special.  I do not suck the innards, but the tail meat was good.  Here is a tip free of charge though- a delicious melted butter broth is not a soup.  No matter how delicious it tastes, Mr. Stomach gets a-n-g-r-y!!!  Argh!  Laddie agreed the next day that it wasn't the smartest thing she had every seen.
From L-R: Top: Pearl Yoga, Broder; Middle: Broder and Velo Cult; Bottom: Close-up of the best
invention ever, shop on Alberta, on the way to Laddie's work

The next day, I toured and ate my way through Portland.  First I went to a yoga class at Pearl Yoga (awesome!) and then perused the books at Powell's bookstore.  It was so awesome and makes me want to ditch my Kindle permanently.  The traveller in me still is upset about how much books weigh (wimp), but really, there is nothing like a physical book to thumb through and mark up, provided it's not a library book of course!

After a shower, I headed out to East Portland.  First, I went to Redux to check out the shops at the recommendation of the "36 Hours in Portland" article from the NYTimes.  It was cute but just a few random shops, most of which were closed.  Then, I went to Broder for lunch and had the most delicious trio of Smorrebord!  I had the shrimp salad, lox and smoked tuna.  Delicious!  Afterwards, I went to Salt & Straw ice cream and had the olive oil ice cream and honey balsamic strawberry with cracked pepper.  Sigh, at times I really wish I had multiple stomachs.

Next, I headed to check out Velo Cult, a bike shop that relocated from San Diego to Portland.  I bought my bike there when it was at North Park.  It was, well, a bike shop.  I did take a picture of the bike keg-a-rator.

I went to Alberta St and looked at a lot of storefronts there.  Such a great neighborhood!  Cool looking bars, restaurants, food trucks and shops.  I bought two pairs of shoes and seriously considered another Salt & Straw cone but I couldn't do it.  So weak!

I was sort of cute shopped out by this point.  Despite how it looks, I'm really not that into shopping all day so I was more than happy to meet up with Laddie.  We bought picnic provisions and headed up to Skidmore Bluffs for a sunset picnic.  That was a lot of fun and it was great to hang out.

The next day, I decided to head out to Mt. Hood.  I was terribly under-prepared and had no bear/attacker repellant but decided to head to Buck's Lake anyway.  On the drive up, I saw a black bear cub scamper across the roadway, lickety-split!  It was so cute, especially since I was safely ensconced in my car.

Once I got to the pull-out for Buck's Lake, I walked along the trail about 0.5 mile.  Along the trail, I ran into the naked hiker, who very decently had a towel at the ready to throw over my head so I wouldn't see anything.  Kidding.  He covered himself and we moved past each other.  I got to the lake and it was so beautiful.  There were three people camping and one couple who came to swim but that was it.  It was crystal clear and even though I was worried about the Loch Ness Monster, I braved the waters (twice!) and went for a great swim!

Then I headed back, learned that you can't fill your own gas in Oregon and got back to Portland.  Laddie and I went to Pittock Mansion and toured the house and grounds.  Totally gorgeous.  And then, it was off to the airport and back home to SD.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Vacation, Part 3: Seattle

Scenes from Gas Works

We had the best time in Seattle!  First, we went to Gas Works Park at the South end of the Wallingford neighborhood (where I want to live if I ever move to Seattle!).  It contains the remains of a coal gasification plant and is a beautiful park that combines modern sculpture garden with amazing hangout. Everything seemed to be going on- slack lining, Parkour, picnicking, bocche ball, napping, sunbathing, biking, jogging, walking, kite flying, photo taking, etc.  It was so cool!  We hung out for a bit, taking it all in.  It's on the shore of Lake Union and there was a lot to see there too- sea planes, stand-up paddle-boarders, one-person sculls, sailboats and motorboats.
Taylor Shellfish

We went to Taylor Shellfish Farm and had 16 oysters, 4 each of their daily catch.  We liked the Olympia oysters the best in addition to the Totten Sound oysters.  Then we went next door and got a delicious cheese plate and glass of wine.  It was an amazing late lunch!

After leaving, we headed to the hotel to check in.  I got a sweet deal on Priceline for the Renaissance and then we were upgraded as a "Wow factor" for active duty military.  The room was awesome with a great view and Aveda bath products.
Left: Glass Forest, Middle: Views from the Needle, Right: Needle View (top), Chihuly (bottom)

We walked/took the monorail to the Space Needle.  I didn't really care about going and I thought SMS didn't either until he looked at me and told me that, "I've only wanted to go up it since I was 6 years old."  So, we bought the combo ticket to the Chihuly garden & museum and the Space Needle.  The line was pretty long but it was a great experience.  Seattle is so cool with all the water, mountains and amazing architecture.  The elevator was a little disconcertingly fast at the beginning of each trip, but given the line, I'm glad it wasn't slow!

Next, we went to the Chihuly museum.  It was incredible.  There was so much beauty and incredible color and design.  It was overwhelming but I did my best to take it all in.  It was pretty awesome to be there at night since all the glass was lit.  The gardens were pretty spectacular as well.  I'm really glad SMS found out about the place- it was breathtakingly beautiful.  Highlights included the Navajo-inspired technique development of glass painting, the chandeliers, the glass forest, the fallen tree with purple lights in the garden and ikebana and float boat room.

We then missed the monorail by two minutes.  Boo.  So we walked 1.2 miles back to the hotel, stopping at a diner on the way back for a late-night snack.
Starting from left top corner going clockwise: 1. Us!, 2. Toulouse Petit, 3. Victrola Coffee, 4. Olympic Sculpture
Garden, 5-6. International Fountain

The next morning, we went to Toulouse Petit for brunch.  Delicious!  They had a breakfast "happy hour" during the week so the prices were slightly reduced.  We shared a small order of beignets, the duck confit hash and the Dungeness crab egg Benedict.  Everything was so good.  The decor inside is pretty amazing with the walls appearing as if they are painted with really thick oil paint, which creates a layered, sculpture-like effect.

Then we walked over to the International Fountain and hung out there.  It was really cool with the fountains timed to great music.  There was also the cutest little boy toddling around and getting very confused when the water would spray him one second and be gone the next.

Next, we headed to the Olympic Sculpture Garden followed by one last speed walk to and through Pike's Market.  I was hoping to see a flying fish but no luck- people were only buying the vacuum packed fillets.  We then hopped in the car and headed out to SEATAC.  SMS was leaving in order to make his class, which I extended my trip by two days so I could visit Laddie in Portland.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Vacation, part 2: Oh Canada!

July 6 was THE day!  The whole trip was focused on the Great Wall outside Squamish.  SMS had been there in 2007 and decided that one day, he would climb it.  He and Eric have been talking about it for almost a year and they were set.  We stayed at the Howe Sound Inn and Brewery in order to minimize any logistical headaches.  We walked through the campsite the next day and it was pretty cool, but we were happy we stayed at the hotel.
Left: Angela after her first 5.7 outside, Top: Happy to be climbing
Bottom: Top of Peak 1

So, Angela and I decided to walk to the base with the guys.  They were kind of tense and we were pretty high energy- we had very little at stake!  But they were happy we came and afterwards, we headed into town to the coffee shop to plan our day.  We ended up climbing across from town down Loggers Ln and climbed a 5.7, 5.6, 5.7, 5.10a, 5.11a, 10c, and 5.7/5.8.  It was a really packed day and we were done by 2.  We then hiked the first peak trail for Chief and the views were spectacular.  We were hoping to run into the guys on their way down (they made it!), but no luck.  We did see them in the parking lot, where they were hanging out after they saw our car.  We hung out for a bit longer talking about our climbing days and then we went to Shannon Falls as a group.  Afterwards, we went to the Brewery for dinner and celebratory beers.  It was really a lot of fun and I hope we all hang out/travel again!
Views from the top of Peak 1!

The next day, SMS and I headed out for brunch in Vancouver.  We went to Stanley Park and had brunch at the Teahouse, which was DELICIOUS!  The restaurant is on the site of the former WWII Officer's Club and we had a delicious smoked salmon flat (sort of Eggs Benedict-like but with a base of roughly mashed potatoes rather than muffin or biscuit) and corned beef hash that was served with a potato base with slices of corned beef.  It was a spectacular breakfast and we were really happy.  In addition, we walked along the Sea Wall to and from brunch and it was so beautiful.  It is also nice to walk a bit after a delicious meal that was quite filling.
SMS outside of Rocket Donuts- we followed our noses!

Then, we headed back across the border.  Again, no paperwork problems (yay!) but a 55 minute wait, boo!  We stopped briefly in Bellingham (cute town!) and got some awesome Seattle recommendations from the guy working at Rocket Donuts.  We only did three of the four, but they were all fantastic: Petit Toulouse, Gasworks Park, Alki Beach (didn't do) and Stumptown Coffee.  They were totally awesome and part of part 3!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Vacation, Part 1: Seattle and Whidbey Island

Wow.  This has been the most amazing vacation.  Probably since we’re trying to pass ourselves as from Oregon!  This is because our SUV has Oregon plates so anytime either one of us did something stupid of the car (hypothetically speaking of course!), we’d shout out, “We’re from Oregon!”  Oh inside jokes...hilarious!

So, we got up early on the 4th of July and drove to the airport.  The flight was smooth and we got in a little early, yay!  We went to the Avis counter where we got a pretty sweet upgrade- we think it’s because I’m going to finish the vacation in Portland and they want to get the car back.  It’s a Chevy Captiva, a sort of mini-SUV.  It’s awesome! I also think the guy liked me a bit.  When he asked what car I wanted, I said, “The cheapest one.”  To which he replied, “Anything with four wheels?”

“Exactly.”  I also then proceeded to explain how I drive such a POS that any rental car is a step up.  So, anyway, by the time we left the counter, Ali and I were besties.  SMS and I saw the car and were totally stoked!

1. SMS at the Pike's Market Gum Wall, 2. SMS outside the pop-up glasses shop and photo booth looking
less than amused, 3. Our photo booth strip- sexy glasses!

First, we went to Seattle and headed for Pike’s Market.  SMS was starving and I wasn't much better so we gave up on Elliot’s Oyster House and went to The Fisherman’s Restaurant, which was clearly a tourist trap but did the job.  The oysters and fish were good and we were fed.  The servers were nice and the best part was, we got the best tip for another oyster place, which we went to on our way back through Seattle.

After lunch, we went to a cute letterpress shop.  Then, I bought a small gift for Laddie from Ugly Baby and LaRu.  It was a little shop shared by two artists.  The stuff was pretty cool but it’s funny- around the time of a move, I usually view cute house accessories as more shit to move rather than works of art.  Hmmm, now that I think about it, Laddie is moving soon...maybe this won’t be the biggest hit of a visitor’s gift!  

Next, we walked through Pike’s Market.  The fish throwers were closed for the holiday but we bought flowers for Nicole and Joe.  Then we checked out Beecher’s Cheese Shop and the cheese-making process.  Afterwards, we bought a dozen cupcakes to-go, one cupcake to eat there and I got salted caramel cupcake ice cream- yum!

1. The Civic Band on the 4th of July, 2. Swimming salmon in the ladder
SMS and I made a stop at the Ballard locks on the way out of town which was so cool!  We loved it!  We saw the Civic Band playing patriotic tunes for the 4th and we saw the Locks in action, which are pretty incredible considering the forces behind moving such large amount of water and how strong the gates must be to move through the water.  We also looked at the salmon ladder, created to help the migrating salmon.  Pretty awesome!
1. Gearing up for Roman Candles, 2. SMS firing away 3. America's finest 4. Panorama from Joe and Nicole's deck

Then it was off to Whidbey Island!  The drive wasn’t too bad apart from some traffic around Everett.  Joe and Nicole’s BBQ was in full swing.  The view from their deck was AMAZING and SMS and I had the best time.  The party guests were mainly squadron mates of Joe’s and their wives.  We talked to several of them.  We got to talk to Joe and Nicole a bit, although we caught up more the next day.  As the sun went down, people up and down the shore were busy lighting fireworks.  It was awesome and I’m fairly certain illegal.  Our group had several fireworks, which were so much fun to light off.  We all got a Roman Candle and shot it off while holding it, which was so stupid and SO FUN!   I definitely paused for a second when I considered that MY ENTIRE CAREER is based on using my hands but then...whee!  Fireworks time!   What was really stupid (but hilarious) were the guys who pointed the Roman candles at each other and fired away.  Then the guys shot off a bunch of “mortars.”  Finally, and thankfully for our well-being, it was time for the real show which was over Oak Harbor, which was amazing.  Beautiful fireworks and a really lengthy show.  Despite all the illegal fireworks up and down the shore, the real show was double the size and really terrific.
1. Joe and I outside the Cessna 2-5 (top to bottom) 2. Joe, 3. SMS, 4. Me, 5. Joe and SMS

The next day, we went down to the beach at low tide with Joe, Nicole and Reese the dog.  The dog loved it and it was really cool to walk out along the low tide flats.  I even dug up a few clams but put them back.  Although SMS and I meant to leave early, our plans were waylaid when we decided it would be awesome to get flown around in a Cessna by Joe.  And it was!  It was so cool.  I can’t believe my younger brother is able to chauffeur us around by private plane!  The views were amazing.  We stopped for lunch at Friday Harbor, which was really cool although it set us back time-wise thanks to island-time but it was ok.  The company was great and it was a really unique experience.  I loved it!

After returning to Whidbey, we got on the road.  I managed to cross the border with my military id and leave paperwork, thank goodness.  This is going to sound really dumb but I sent my passport in about 2 weeks ago for my name change in order to get ready for Japan.  I completely forgot that rules have changed over the years and a passport is now needed for Canada.  By the time I remembered, my passport was already gone in non-expedited fashion and it was already really short-fuse.  I looked on the TSA website and they said active duty ID on orders was ok so I just crossed my fingers and *phew,* no problems at all.

We got up to Squamish after STUPID SIRI took us through downtown Vancouver on the tail-end of rush hour.  Boo.  We hiked to the base of the Great Wall so SMS could scope it out and then we went into town to the Howe Sound Brewery and Inn.  We ran into Eric and Angela and discussed the next day’s plans.  SMS and I then got a quick bite to eat before bed.  The brewery had great food.  I had the most amazing Nicoise salad with amazingly seasoned trout, delicious potatoes, yummy asparagus, olives, arugula, perfectly hard-boiled egg and a lovely dill dressing.

Then it was bedtime to rest up for the day of big rock ahead of us!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Fun Night!

La Jolla Shores

Yay!  SMS' class was cancelled so we had an impromptu night where we had so much fun and a real endless Summer vibe!

First, we went to La Jolla Shores and played in the ocean.  It was so much fun even though on the way out, SMS saw 2-3 Stingrays which always makes me a little nervous!  After that, we were a little chilly and decided to head up to the Gliderport to watch the sunset.  It was awesome!  We went to the end of the runway and onto the cliffs.  The sunset was gorgeous.
Gliderport Cliffs

Once the sun set, we went to The Living Room for a warm drink.  It was an awesome night and I had such a great time with my husband!

Planning a Wedding in San Diego...(part 2)

So the venue and food were set.  Next order of business, booze.  The venue was awesome in that we could bring our own alcohol in so we ordered from BevMo.  We got some great discounts on the wine (the cava and white choices were part of the 5 cent wine deals) and the hard alcohol was reasonably priced.  We ended up having a really nice open bar for a fraction of the cost of what it would have been at a bar.  That was one of the few parts of the wedding that ended up being cheaper than expected so that was also a welcome surprise!

We ended up getting one red (Joel Gott Cabernet 2010), two whites (Les Pierres Blanche Macon-Villages '11 and Kris Pinot Grigio '11) and one cava sparkling wine (Lineas Cava Brut'10).  We got several bottles of four different beers and lots of hard alcohol.  We had "featured 

drinks" of margaritas and mojitos but we also had bourbon and vodka.  It was a GREAT bar.  I also made 
sure to ask my  grandfather what his favorite non-alcoholic beer was so everyone was covered.  WT
included a "bar package" in our contract, which meant that bartenders were provided and all the 
accouterments apart from the alcohol- mixers, ice, etc.  It was a GREAT way to go!

Entertainment was also important.  I thought about a band for about 5 minutes.  While it would have been 

cool, there would have been several more things to organize since a band can't cover a 6 hour period.  I 
would have likely had to pick to separate artists: one for the ceremony/cocktail hour and one for the
reception. The cost for one of those eclipsed a DJ and it was just more of a headache to organize so we 
decided to go with the DJ.  I found a couple of ones that SMS deemed too cheesy so he went online and 
found Scratch Weddings.  We really liked one of their DJs that we were told wasn't available so we told 
them we weren't interested.  A few days later, they called us and told us that DJ Mike Sincere was available!
Hooray! [Oh my gosh, I just looked up his Tumblr feed and 6/8 was his birthday.  Well, I think he had a 
good time!)

Flowers were not high on my list, almost to the point of leaving them off but Linda insisted that we reconsider and I'm so glad she did.  We used Lois Matthews as our florist and she was AMAZING.  The flowers were unbelievably beautiful.  My bouquet was amazing, the corsages and boutonnieres looked great and the venue was transformed!

Well, that was pretty much it for the "Grand scheme" planning, apart from the officiant who deserves his own post.  I had a few things I wanted to do for myself- dress, hair and make-up but it looks like that will be saved for a part 3!