Our Big Summer Vacation… to Maine! (Part 3)

In order for this to not be too overwhelming (for me to write or for you to read), I’m splitting my vacation post into a few sections. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

Note: This post is pretty link-heavy. Many of the links go to my photos from the trip. If you want to see all the photos together, go here.

The Rest of Wednesday: After leaving the clinic, we realized that we didn’t have as long as planned to find breakfast (or lunch) and catch the ferry in time for our next activity, a tour of Peaks Island. We walked from our hotel to the ferry port and bought tickets, then wandered back out to the street and had a lunch of hot dogs and fresh squeezed lemonade from a cart. (When GG asked why people weren’t out on the street selling lobsters, the hot dog cart girl said the lobster sellers were on strike!) After sitting around in the heat waiting, we were finally able to board the ferry and headed off across Casco Bay. It was a quick ride, and I took a Bonine so I didn’t feel sick.

When we arrived on Peaks Island (which is actually considered part of the city of Portland), we met up with our small tour group from Peaks Island Tours. We were taking the Spirit of Peaks tour, which seemed like the most general one they offered. Our tour guide, Steve, was really good, but I think you need to take everything he said with a grain of salt, because some of his stories were a bit unbelievable. We went in a little golf cart with another family around the whole island. We saw things like the post office and elementary school, lots of beaches, and some funny things. But mostly what we looked at were houses. Peaks started out as a middle-class Coney Island of the north, and the original houses were all little 14-foot wide buildings. Over time, as the island became more popular and property values increased, they either added on (sometimes in a surprisingly modern style), or tore down one or more houses and built a bigger one. Another interesting thing about Peaks Island is that it was used by the US military during WWII to defend the Atlantic coast, so there are some leftover forts on the surrounding islands, and batteries on Peaks. One former battery was converted into a house (it has several underground rooms, including places for planning, storage, and loading ammunition). Another interesting note about Peaks Island: until recently, they didn’t have road signs or house numbers, and the people there don’t like them, so they’ll often pull the signs down. Instead, the houses have names that refer to things like the location or the view that they have, or other clever things. And there are other little signs around to direct people.

After the tour we had a meal at The Inn on Peaks Island. In another coincidence, on GG’s 33rd birthday, the address here was 33. GG tried his first lobster roll and was hooked – all the lobster goodness, without any of the work of cracking shells! I didn’t want to eat too much, considering we’d already had hot dogs before we left and would be having dinner when we got back, so I had a hummus platter, which was actually really good! We thought we still had some time to kill before the next ferry, so we went to the little shop near the ferry dock and got ice cream. They had a few unique flavors – I ended up with blueberry ice cream topped with blueberry sauce. As we left the store, we saw a ferry at the dock, and learned that the times posted on the schedule were when the boat left the mainland, rather than when it would arrive at or leave the island! So we took our ice cream on board and headed back.

It was so, so hot and humid, and we walked back to the hotel in a kind of roundabout way so we could see more of the Old Port (and maybe pick somewhere to eat dinner), so we were extremely sweaty and tired by the time we got back. Once again, we got cleaned up and napped, and it was after 7 PM by the time we left for dinner. GG had wanted to try this raw bar we had seen, but they had an hour-long wait for a table. So we went across the street to this place called Dry Dock, where GG had his second lobster roll, as well as a Rolling Rock beer (with a “33” on the bottle) and some clams. I just had a veggie sandwich (wasn’t all that hungry after our extra afternoon meal). We walked around the Old Port some more after dinner, but it was getting late and a lot of shops were closing for the night, so we didn’t go to too many places.

Thursday: Our original plan was to drive north to Wicasset to see the Musical Wonder House, then stop in Freeport, ME on our way back to Portland. But I think at this point in our vacation we were a little jaded by tourist stuff, and neither of us was especially interested in music boxes (I’d just put it on the list because I saw it on the Travel Channel or something once and thought it would be neat to visit, considering we were in the area). So we went straight to Freeport to visit the L.L. Bean factory store. It was actually another thing neither of us was especially interested in, not being very outdoorsy, but everyone said it was so big and crazy you just had to visit. Yeah, there were some neat things like an indoor pond and huge displays of taxidermied animals, but we still weren’t really interested in what they were selling. Of course, we got the requisite photo by the giant boot. We didn’t even bother with any of the other outlet stores in Freeport, because we’ve learned the sad truth: outlets generally don’t have any better deals than the original stores. They used to, when they sold seconds and items from previous seasons, but now they just have the same stuff as regular stores. Plus, there is 5% sales tax on clothing in Maine (compared to no tax on clothes in PA). So we had lunch at a restaurant called Lobster Cooker. GG had another lobster roll with a Lobster Ale, and I had a kind of gross veggie wrap. We walked around a little and got some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream before driving back to Portland.

After a rest, we walked down to the Old Port. We were trying to find this shop that had been on our list of places to go – it sold old sailing stuff, weird imports and knick-knacks, etc. But it wasn’t anywhere to be found at the address we had. We did find a similar store a couple blocks away, but it wasn’t as amazing as the first place was supposed to be. However, it was next door to the restaurant where we had dinner, The Farmer’s Table, which is apparently a new, family-run restaurant that features local ingredients. We just picked it because the building is an interesting shape and the menu looked good. We were seated on the upstairs patio and had a nice view of the street. For the first time on our vacation, it was slightly chilly – I almost had to pull out the sweater I’d been carrying with me all week (just in case). For appetizers, GG had mussels and I had brie fritters topped with blueberries. Then GG had the scallops with mushrooms, and I got the steak with blueberry sauce. The mashed potatoes were really good, too! After dinner we walked around some more, picking up a few souvenirs.

Friday: After our first meal at Bintliff’s on Monday, GG decided that we needed to come back once more that week. So on our last morning in Maine, we returned to Bintliff’s, where he ordered the same scrambled egg meal with lobster added and I tried an omelet. When GG mentioned to the waiter that some of their pancakes sounded good, too, but he really wanted to get the lobster scrambled eggs he couldn’t get anywhere else, the waiter suggested he add on a pancake as a side item for a couple dollars. He didn’t mention that one pancake was as big as a cake! The raspberry almond pancake filled the entire plate, and we cut it like a pie and each had some of it. After the meal we were both stuffed, which was a good thing, because we wouldn’t be eating much for the rest of the day.

We checked out of the hotel, and GG drove us south from Portland. Once out of the city, we switched seats and I drove through the rest of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and part of Connecticut, but then we switched back before we got too close to New York because I was nervous about getting stuck driving through the city. Turns out we didn’t have to switch so soon because Connecticut is like the tallest state ever, or so it seems. (I know, we actually spent more time driving through there because we were driving diagonally, instead of straight up the length of the state.) We had been making pretty good time and were on track to be home in less than eight hours, but in southern CT we hit a traffic jam due to an accident. So we didn’t get into NYC until afternoon rush hour was starting up. Then we tried crossing the George Washington Bridge. Also, some storms were moving north as we moved south, and we crossed paths while we were sitting there in the Bronx. It took over two hours to drive five miles, and GG was an extremely unhappy camper, but we eventually did make it over the bridge and out of New York. We have never been so happy to see a “Welcome to New Jersey” sign! After that awful experience, GG was happy to switch back driving duties, so I drove the rest of the way through NJ and Pennsylvania. We finally arrived home around 8 PM, ten hours after we’d left. What did we learn from this experience? Plan a route on a map, rather than trusting the GPS to know which way is best, and no more vacations more than 200 miles from home!

It was a shame that such a great vacation ended on such a sour note, but we really did have a fantastic time! If it weren’t for that long drive, I would love to go back, often. We were worried there might not be enough things for us to do in Portland and the surrounding areas, but we actually had too much stuff to do. There’s still lots more places to see and restaurants to eat at. Maybe one day we will return…

Our Big Summer Vacation… to Maine! (Part 2)

In order for this to not be too overwhelming (for me to write or for you to read), I’m splitting my vacation post into a few sections. Read Part 1 here.

Note: This post is pretty link-heavy. Many of the links go to my photos from the trip. If you want to see all the photos together, go here.

Tuesday: We had another full schedule planned for this hot, humid day. Seriously, it was unbearable outside by 9 AM! First on our list was the Portland Museum of Art, but it didn’t open until 10 AM. So we walked around the area and had some breakfast at a coffee shop called Coffee By Design. GG had a coffee and this yogurt parfait, and I had a muffin and the most delicious chai latte. Also while we were there, this really weird lady in an electric wheelchair kept rolling through, backing up, and knocking into stuff in the narrow space. That was awkward. After breakfast we still had some time to kill before the museum opened, so we walked around the area, including Monument Square. It was so hot, though! Not good for walking around aimlessly. So eventually we went back to the museum and sat outside until it opened. While there, we noticed that the area across the street, which was a brick-paved square that always seemed to have bums sitting around, was taped off with police tape, and they were cleaning blood off the bricks! GG wondered what happened (we had walked by there less than an hour before and everything was fine), and I suggested that there had been a bum fight. So for the rest of the week, we referred to that place as Bum-Fight Park.

When the museum opened, we were mostly grateful to get into the air conditioning! We were directed to the information desk for a map, and had a little conversation with a woman there about the exhibits, as well as some places in Maine we should visit. She recommended that we take the elevator up to the top floor and work our way down. I think the elevator was an exhibit itself, the walls were covered with some poem about balloons..? As we went through the galleries, we were surprised to find a large collection of work by N.C. Wyeth, whose homestead is near us in southeastern PA. (We actually went to the Brandywine River Museum and toured the Wyeth house and studio a few months ago, remember?) They had a bunch of other neat exhibits, including a large collection of sculptures, and Winslow Homer’s watercolor kit, which I just think is so cool. Then the museum connects to a house called the McLellan House, which was actually the original museum (the last residents had a large art collection and donated the house and art to the city, and I guess the real museum was built onto it later). The house itself is now an exhibit on architecture of the period. It’s pretty cool because most historic homes you tour are set up with period furniture and stuff, but there’s no furniture in the McLellan house (well, there’s a few modern chairs if you need to sit down). Doing it this way you can really focus on the neat architecture, and signs in each room point out unique features.

After the museum, we went to a restaurant that was highly recommended for lunch – Duck Fat. Oh. My. Gosh. It is a good thing we live 450 miles away from this place or we’d probably have heart attacks from eating here so much. Although they have salads and things, the main specialty is panini sandwiches and French fries made in duck fat (served with fancy sauces like truffle ketchup and chili mayonnaise). It was very crowded, but we got a seat at the end of a bar by the wall. GG had a meatloaf panini and I had the B.G.T. (bacon, goat cheese, tomato), which was very good. We shared a large cone of fries. They were good, but in general they didn’t really taste any different from regular French fries, in my opinion – except for the ones that were smaller, crispier bits. In those I think you could taste the duck fat. Although they are apparently also famous for their milkshakes, we each had a refreshing half and half (or Arnold Palmer), served in a mason jar.

We stopped in at a couple shops on our way back to the hotel, where we had another afternoon nap. Then we got up and went to our evening activity, going to a minor league baseball game of the Portland Sea Dogs (a feeder team for the Boston Red Sox). I’m not really sure what a Sea Dog is, but theirs is named Slugger. It’s like a seal with a dog’s head. I had checked their web site to see what nights they’d be playing while we were in town, and GG picked Tuesday because it was “Star Wars night” at the stadium. We hadn’t looked at who they would be playing. When we got to the stadium, we got our tickets, and didn’t really look at them. But the whole time, GG had been saying wouldn’t it be funny if they were playing the Reading Phillies, our local minor league team? We walked into the stadium and I checked the tickets to get our seat numbers. Guess who they were playing! The Reading Phillies! We came all that way just to see our own team – haha! We’d gotten there really early, so we had great seats right behind home plate, and we were able to watch the RPhils warm up a little bit. GG talked to their coach (who’s number, coincidentally, was 33 – the age GG was turning the next day). The Star Wars parade around the stadium, which GG thought was going to be a big crowd of Star Wars nerds, turned out to be a bunch of kids in costumes. Other than that, the only thing that made it “Star Wars night” was that they had some Star Wars trivia questions, and the Sea Dog rode a cart with Obi Wan. We had some snacks/dinner there, and did have a nice evening, but it was getting late and the RPhils were kind of sucking, so we left I think in the 8th inning and went to back to the hotel for bed.

Before we left for vacation, I noticed this weird lump thing in the back of my throat, which sort of felt like there was a piece of food constantly stuck there, and that night my throat was getting sore and I started worrying – what if I need an emergency tonsillectomy or something? What if I have to be rushed to the hospital and am stuck in Maine, or what if I have to rush home and go to the doctor? I was semi-freaking out, so I tried looking up on the computer if there were any drugstores around that had one of those quick clinics in them. There didn’t seem to be any in the Portland area, though. So I asked at the front desk if they knew of somewhere that I could go in the morning to just see a doctor quickly, and they recommended this place associated with the Maine Medical Center. So GG said we could go there in the morning before our big activity for the day. I felt so bad for potentially ruining our vacation with my wacky health issues!

Wednesday Morning: We got up early and found this clinic. I’d read that most patients were in and out within 80 minutes, which puts the emergency room to shame! It was supposed to open at 9 AM, but we got there at like 8:55 and there were already two people checking in and two more in line. That’s a plus in my book – they open on time! I got checked in and gave them all my information, and sat down in the waiting area with GG. Just a couple minutes later a nurse came out and called me back, so I left GG and headed in. She did all the regular checks (temperature, blood pressure, oxygen, current medications, etc.), and we talked for a minute about how I was there on vacation and what we’d done already that week. About 15 minutes later, a doctor came in to look at my throat. I don’t know if he didn’t see that giant bump in there, but he didn’t say anything about it. He just took some swabbings and said they’d be cultured and I’d have results in half an hour. I sat in my little fabric-curtained area and waited, and meanwhile two women in extreme pain were placed in the bed next to mine (one after the other), which were sort of funny to listen to, but mostly I didn’t want to touch anything and wanted to wash my hands hard when I left. The results of my test took a little longer than 30 minutes, and I text messaged poor GG out in the waiting room to let him know that’s what I was waiting for. Finally the doctor came back with my results and said I didn’t have strep throat, so I had something viral. They recommended Tylenol and popsicles. Then the nurse came to give me my check-out paperwork, and that was it! (I still do have that bump in the back of my throat, but it’s been less annoying feeling the last few days, and my throat hasn’t been sore again, so I don’t know what it is.) GG and I booked it out of there, grabbing a squirt of hand sanitizer on our way out, went back to the hotel to park and wash our hands, and then went out to really start our day. Overall, that little detour took about two hours.

Continue to Part 3!

Our Big Summer Vacation… to Maine! (Part 1)

In order for this to not be too overwhelming (for me to write or for you to read), I’m splitting my vacation post into a few sections.

Note: This post is pretty link-heavy. Many of the links go to my photos from the trip. If you want to see all the photos together, go here.

We decided a year ago that we didn’t want to go back to Virginia for our summer vacation this year. Around that time, we got some brochures about Portland, ME and decided we’d go there for vacation, but we didn’t tell anyone for a year! (In fact, he called his parents on the way there and they still weren’t sure where we were going!) So here’s how our week went.

Friday: I thought it might be a slow day at work, but ended up having an extremely busy day. Lots of last-minute technical problems, meetings, solutions, and fixes. Plus I was trying to get things done for Monday, which would have been one of my twice-monthly very busy days, except I was going to be out of the office and needed people to cover for me, so I did as much as possible ahead of time and then wrote them detailed instructions. (Things went great on Monday, by the way – I never got any panicked phone calls, and when I returned this week everything had been done just fine.)

Saturday: I spent the day cleaning and doing chores around the house, because I hate coming home to a dirty house! That night, GG and I went out with a friend of his to see District 9. So good! It’s a really original take on the theme of dealing with immigrants, and the style’s really neat, in that it turns from a documentary to a sci-fi action movie. Super gory! (Peter Jackson’s specialty…) And aliens love cat food!

Sunday: We packed up and headed north! We took GG’s car, as he is our usual driver for long distances and unfamiliar territory. However, he asked if I’d drive once we got past New York, which, of course I would. I had suggested that he plan out a route ahead of time, but he figured he’d let the GPS figure things out, so of course it just had us head straight up I-95. It actually wasn’t that bad on a Sunday morning/afternoon. We stopped for gas in New Jersey, crossed the George Washington Bridge into the Bronx (where we got slightly turned around, but it was okay), then made it to Connecticut. At a rest stop there we switched seats, and GG did nothing but complain about my driving the whole time! So at the next rest stop, we switched back! We continued through Massachusetts, New Hampshire (stopped again to stretch), and finally Maine! Checked into the hotel, got cleaned up a bit, and headed out to see Portland!

We stayed at the Holiday Inn By The Bay, which was a great combination of affordability (the other hotels right in town were either gross or super-expensive) and location (walking-distance to just about everything). I had written up a whole itinerary for us using my spreadsheet (of recommendations) and TripIt, so we already knew we were having dinner at Pepperclub. This restaurant was described to me as a casual place serving good food made with local ingredients, so I was really looking forward to it. It ended up being probably my least-favorite meal of the whole trip. The food was… interesting. GG seemed to like his linguini with scallops, but I found my roasted veggies on goat cheese (with a side of spinach-rhubarb something-or-other) kind of nasty. The bean salad I was served was very good, though! The atmosphere was kind of weird, too. The staff seemed a little bit rude. Also, they only have one kind of salad dressing! (At least it was good!) After dinner, we just headed back to the hotel because we were tired, I had a monster headache, and we had big plans for the next day.

Monday: We got up early and, following the itinerary, planned to go to Strawberry Banke. But first, GG had to ask a question at the front desk of the hotel: Where can you get a lobster omelet? We were recommended to go to Bintliff’s, which again was walking-distance from the hotel. (On our way there we saw a man sitting in front of his house with a black and white cat on a leash sniffing around the garden. He must let the cat out every morning like that, because we saw him a few times.) Bintliff’s was awesome! We were seated upstairs by an open window overlooking the street. We both had a glass of delicious orange juice (and they serve it in big glasses, too!), and GG was about to get the lobster eggs benedict but decided to ask if lobster could be added to the Bintliff scramble (eggs with basil, pepper, and parmesan), and they could! So for $7 he had lobster added to his $6 meal. I had standard scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast, and it was also quite delicious. The bacon there is like 1/4″ thick!

After breakfast we walked back to the hotel, got in the car (nooo! weren’t we just in that thing for 8 hours?!), and drove an hour to Portsmouth, New Hampshire to go to Strawberry Banke. The place was recommended for us to visit. I read their web site. We watched an introductory video when we first got there. And I still didn’t understand exactly what Strawberry Banke was! I get it now, though. It’s a re-created neighborhood, sort of like Jamestown or one of those places, but all the houses are set up to represent different time periods of the neighborhood’s existence, which ranged from the 1600s to the 1960s. So there’s like an 18th-century shipping tycoon’s house, and then there’s a WWII grocery store. GG tried out a privy. And one of my favorites was the Russian-Jewish immigrant house, the Shapiro house – one of the few spots with a reenactor. We had started out with a tour group (which was split into two groups, and even then was huge), but ditched them after going through just a couple houses because it was so hot and the houses were crowded, and it was awkward and you couldn’t even see anything. And the tour guide didn’t tell us anything, she just opened the door to the house, let us in to look around, then led us to the next house. So GG and I had a much better time just going around on our own. Most places we were in by ourselves, and we had the full attention of the reenactors or volunteer guides or whoever was in there. Learned a lot of interesting stuff, too!

Just when it was too hot to bear, we came across the ice cream shop, which reminded us of GG’s parents’ place, both in decor and in smell! We each had a cup, then wrapped up our visit with a trip to the Goodwin house, an upper-class house owned by a former governor that was set to be demolished, but instead was moved to Strawberry Banke. (Homes like that wouldn’t really have been part of Strawberry Banke, which was more of a working-class neighborhood.) The house had a beautiful garden and a breezy porch with a swing, where we sat for a few minutes to cool off before heading out.

Wanting to make the most of our day, GG suggested we walk around Portsmouth. The little town was cute, but it was so hot and humid. We weren’t prepared for that warm weather at all, and I was wearing closed shoes, capris, and a double-layer t-shirt. I could barely make it around the block without passing out. (Seriously, I actually thought, “Hmm, I could pass out right now.”) We found a little shop that sold cold sodas, and we each got one and stood outside to drink them. Then we finally got back to the car and headed back to Portland, where we got cleaned up and had lovely naps before dinner.

When we woke up and were ready, we walked through the “Old Port” area (think brick sidewalks, cobblestone streets, lots of shops and restaurants) to the bay, looking for lobster. This was all according to the itinerary. We decided on the Portland Lobster Co. GG got a tremendous 2-pound lobster, and I ate a kind of sucky cheeseburger (but the fries were great!). We sat on a dockside deck under a canopy, there was live music, the temperature was finally dropping a little for the evening, and it was very nice. After dinner, we walked around the Old Port some more and visited a few shops before heading back toward the hotel. At GG’s request, we stopped at Brian Boru, an Irish pub we passed walking between the hotel and the Old Port. GG had added it to the spreadsheet, actually. He had a Guinness and cider, I had a Coke. We sat at the bar for a minute, but then went out to the upstairs deck, which was nice, except someone was smoking. (Everyplace in Maine is smoke-free, it’s like a dreamland.) Finally we went back to our room and collapsed into bed.

Continue to Part 2!

Linky Thursday – 8/13

Create intuitive and reliable Amazon URLs on the fly with AtTheBigRiver.com: Pretty cool new system – you can link to just about anything on Amazon without having to look up the URL. Just take the name of the thing you’re going to link to, replace spaces with hyphens, and stick it in front of “.atthebigriver.com.” Look, here’s a link to the book I’m reading: rapture-ready.atthebigriver.com. (You can use affiliate codes, too…)

King of Crayons: “I occupy my time by screwing with coloring book pages. It’s like photoshop without a computer!” (OMG, this one totally cracked me up!)

I Didn’t Know I Had to Take a Dump: From the creators of TLC’s “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” comes a new series about people caught off guard by their own bodies. (Following “Check Out Fatty” and “Wow, Midgets.”)

The 10th Annual Gathering Of The Juggalos: Okay, the video is a little long, but stick with it until the end. This is an infomercial for a music festival geared toward fans of the Insane Clown Posse (who call themselves “Juggalos” and “Ninjas,” and drink a type of soda called “Faygo” – they also say “woop woop” a lot). The two people they got to announce most of the bands in this video don’t seem to have a clue what they’re talking about. And the narrator who announces the rest of the video has such a dry delivery: “See you there, Ninjas.” (Curious how it turned out? This guy went to document the event and has a page of photos and a video.)

Butler Bag Scams

Not that anyone considering buying one of these will probably read this… but maybe this will come up in someone’s Googling.

The Butler Bag is a purse with all these little compartments in the bottom. I’ve read nothing but rave reviews about them – not only do they look great, but they keep you organized, with a little spot for everything, so you’re not digging around in your bag. However, they’re kind of expensive.

So I was very happy to see that Avon is partnering with the bag’s creator, Jen Groover, to make a special, lower-cost version. It’s a nice black design with a little buckle thing in the middle, and it was apparently featured in Redbook magazine. You can see that with a retail price of $35, it is significantly less than the original Butler Bags. (I think there will also be a special deal through Avon when it’s introduced in a few weeks, maybe $20 with a qualifying purchase or something. I don’t have my catalog on me, so can’t check at the moment.)

Just out of curiosity, I searched eBay for Butler Bags to see if you could get a good deal on one… and it looks like a lot of people are selling this Avon version, without mentioning that it wasn’t an original Butler Bag (and therefore not the same materials, workmanship, etc. …because you know it’s not, at that price!). Most of them are selling for more than $35, plus shipping! Apparently people were catching on that this is not an “official” Butler Bag, because one of the sellers added this note to the listing: “Thanks for your questions about this fabulous bag. It is an exclusive design not available on the website.”

So if you like this version of the bag (and it looks nice, I’m actually getting one – should be here next week), save yourself some money and find an Avon lady!

I’m Dizzy

Season 4 of America’s Best Dance Crew started last night, I almost forgot, but luckily caught it in time! Almost none of the groups were very impressive. However, I do have picks for the top three (in order from best to worst): Rhythm City, Vogue Evolution (“We’re gay” – no kidding), and We Are Heroes. Two other unique groups I’d like to see do well are Afroborike, the Latin group, and Southern Movement, the “hick hop” group. My least favorite was Fr3sh, from New Jersey, and they were voted out last night, so I guess I can pick a loser! My next least favorite is Massive Monkees (if for no other reason than their name is so terrible), so we’ll see what happens with them next week.

I woke up with horrible vertigo this morning, and could barely make my way around the house to get ready. Even now, almost ten hours later, I still feel like I could get nauseous if I flip my head over. Luckily, I’ve been fine sitting upright all day at work. I took a motion sickness pill this morning, but that didn’t really do anything. This happened to me once before, about four years ago, and I stayed home from work, but was better the next day. So hopefully I’m feeling better tomorrow, because this is annoying!

Nice Night Out in New Hope

At work on Thursday, Heather mentioned that the weather Friday was supposed to be beautiful. (She is my personal weather-lady – because she’s always checking the forecast online and updating me.) So I got the idea that GG and I could go up to New Hope and see his mural, and then have a nice dinner and walk around a while, if it was going to be so nice out. I called GG and he agreed and made us reservations at Tastebuds (our new favorite special-occasion restaurant, I think, although this wasn’t even a special occasion). So after work on Friday, we just came home, got changed, and left.

First stop was the tie dye store where his mural is. It’s still looking good up there! Parked outside was this crazy yellow car with all these hippie stickers on it, doo-dads all over the dashboard, even a skeleton in the passenger seat! Turns out the owner of the car, “Hippie Don,” is a friend of the shop’s owners, and he was in there visiting. He loved GG’s mural, and had two stickers of it on his car, one on each end! (Oh yeah, they had the mural turned into bumper stickers and it’s on the back of their business cards! Pretty awesome!) He had taken a photo of the mural hanging up, which he had in this album in his car that he showed GG. Then GG autographed it – his first autograph!



Back of Hippie Don’s car (can you see GG’s sticker?)

Front view of the car, including the skeleton passenger

We hung out at the shop for a little bit, and GG and the owner discussed plans for his next project there, which is going to be totally cool, and done probably in the late fall. Then we had to get to Tastebuds for our 6:30 reservation. We walked in and the guys there recognized us. We had been there once before, and it was four months ago, but I don’t know, I guess we must have made an impression… Once again, the meal was awesome. They change their menu with each season, so everything was different this time. We each got an appetizer to start. I had this fantastic corn flan with a tomato and corn salsa and a drizzle of basil oil, and GG had crabmeat with melon balls and a mango sauce. I had read the menu online ahead of time and was sure GG would order the scallops for dinner, but he surprised me by getting a pork chop with chipotle glaze, sweet onions, and delicious mashed potatoes. I had this fantastic, moist chicken breast with keffir lime rice and soy shitakes. And then of course we had dessert. I had the tres leches cake, which was the same thing I got last time – so good! GG’s previous dessert (I think a cherry bread pudding) wasn’t available, so he had this chocolate espresso mousse with blackberries. It was the thickest mousse I’ve ever seen, it was basically like eating a bar of chocolate with a spoon! Hahaha… so rich, but so good… This time we knew they didn’t accept credit cards, and came prepared with a checkbook!

I really want to mention here how totally awesome the guys that run this place are. First of all, they remembered us, which really makes you feel special. But they treat everyone so nicely. Also, they’re not all up in your face the whole time. I mean, it’s a small place, and they could easily swing by your table every five minutes to see how you’re doing, but they pretty much leave you alone, and I appreciate that. And finally, the place is a BYOB, which is fine with me because I don’t drink and don’t really understand why you need alcohol to go with a meal. But the people sitting behind us were apparently unaware of this (it sounded like someone had set up the reservations for them, but didn’t tell them where the place was or anything about it?), and were disappointed they hadn’t brought any wine. One of the guys was like, “Oh don’t worry, people leave their bottles behind all the time, let me see what I can find you.” So nice of them!

After dinner we were stuffed, and slowly made our way back down to Main St. to go to Farley’s Bookshop. Mostly we just go there to visit Butter, the resident cat. He was sleeping under the CD racks in the front of the store, same place we found him last time. (I guess, like our cats, he finds a new sleeping spot and then sticks with it for a few months.) He seemed softer than before – also fatter. I think he’s just getting old. He’s very calm and laid back, and you can just sit down and pet him or give him some scratches. (Or stick a camera [and flash] right up in his face… GG.) We split up to look at books, and then GG started talking to the guy working there that he’d painted the mural at the tie dye shop. The guy was impressed! So were a couple customers who happened to overhear!

When we left there, it was still so nice out, we decided to just walk around some more. Of course, it was getting late and seemed like a lot of things were closing up. I saw a small sign at the main intersection in town, which I’d noticed on our way in. It was just a handmade thing, and said “Darwin’s World,” with an address and an arrow pointing up the street. Having just walked past some religious guy with a giant sign asking “Do you know where you’ll go when you die?” I figured we could do with some Darwin. So we followed the directions and found this very green shop. Wow! I am totally for this store! First of all, when we walked in, a little girl was asking the proprietor if the skulls on the shelves behind the counter were monkey skulls. “No,” he said, “those are human ancestors.” Awesome. So mostly, this store sells little fossils and stones and things, small taxidermied animals, that sort of stuff. But there are also these huge sculptures, wall-hangings, and even fireplace surrounds made with real fossils. (I didn’t really catch the whole explanation video, but it looks like the fossils are dug up and then arranged and embedded in other stone to form little scenes.) They were really neat looking, but they were also thousands of dollars… We stayed for a while and talked to the owner of the store. He was telling us a lot about the different rocks and minerals in his display case, and I asked if he was a geologist or something. Nope, he was an accountant for twenty years! Then he decided to get out of the office and open up his store. He’s been there for nine months (we missed it last time because the road had been closed so we didn’t even walk up that way), and I hope he does well there! (Man, anything to counteract creationism!)

We came home, tried to stay awake and watch TV for a little while, but ended up passing out for a couple hours until I woke up and dragged us to bed. It was such a perfect, wonderful evening though! I say this every time, but really, if it weren’t so close to New Jersey and so prone to flooding (and so full of New York tourists, I guess), I would love to move to New Hope. Great little town.

Witness

Tonight I was sitting upstairs at the computer, as I do most nights, when I heard a loud “thunk” noise outside. It’s trash night, and it sounded kind of like our neighbors dragging their trashcan out to the street, but it was a little loud and sounded more like something had hit my house, so I peeked out the front window. I saw two teenage-looking boys crossing the street away from my front door, with their arms around each other’s waists, kind of laughing.

GG wasn’t home, so I called and asked if he was heading back because these kids were messing around outside, and I didn’t like being in the house alone. (Even though – hello! we live next door to the police station! Dumb choice if you want to vandalize a house!) I thought maybe these kids had done something to our house (messed with the door, tried to steal our big flower pot, done something to our trashcan next to our house), so I went downstairs and stuck my head out the front door. I didn’t see anything wrong out the front door, and also noticed the neighbors’ trash wasn’t out on the street, so the noise definitely wasn’t from them. I did, however, see two cops across the street talking to what looked like the same two kids. I called GG back and told him this, and he said he was on his way home.

I watched from the upstairs window again as the cops talked to these two kids, and eventually a third person, who I found out was an old lady. They let the kids go, one of the cops left, the other one talked to the lady a while longer, and then let her go. Just as he was crossing the street back to the station, GG pulled into the driveway. So when he got out of his car, he asked what was going on. A minute later, he was calling me on my cell phone. “You need to get dressed and come out here.” (It was after 9:00, I was already in my pajamas!)

So I threw on some clothes and came outside. Apparently, someone had thrown a rock through the window of a police car, and now I was a witness, because the kids I saw crossing the street were probably the ones who did it (guess that’s what that noise was!), and they really wanted me to be able to identify them as the same kids the cops were talking to. I assumed they were the same people, since I saw them cross the street and then I saw them across the street a minute later with the police, but I don’t think I could be 100% sure. I mean, I only saw them from behind, and all I know for sure is that they were young guys, with dark hair, wearing t-shirts and shorts. I had no idea as I watched them cross the street that I’d have to identify them later! They weren’t running, so I don’t think they could’ve gotten that far in the time between when I saw them by my house and when I saw those guys (probably them) talking to the police. Apparently the kids told the cops they were coming from somewhere else, but if they were the same kids I saw in front of my house then that means they lied in their story.

The cop took my name and number, and I hope I don’t have to go to court or testify or anything! I also hope that those kids don’t try to retaliate for anything by doing something to our house after all! (I heard they’re pretty good with a rock!)

I am drinking out of a Hydration Vessel as I write this.

I got a KOR ONE Hydration Vessel (no, it’s not just a water bottle) a couple weeks ago and have been bringing it to work. It’s very pretty, but it has a couple flaws. For one thing, it’s a weird size and shape and doesn’t fit in most cup holders. It’s also kind of awkward to hold and drink out of. Then there’s the “KOR Stones,” which I don’t really understand, but they’re inspirational little sayings that go inside the lid, so you see them when the bottle is open. They’re actually just circles of paper. It came with a few that you could choose from, so right now my bottle reminds me to “laugh often,” but apparently they’re going to sell other options. Seems kind of pointless to me, especially if they’re trying to reduce waste. On the plus side, the latch works well and the lid stays up and out of the way when you flip it open. And it’s BPA free.

Yesterday morning GG alerted me that the hose for our refrigerator ice maker was leaking. It did this a few years ago so we put in a new hose, but then we stopped using the ice maker until recently when GG decided he could go for some ice in his drink. Last time it leaked because there was a problem where the hose connected to the fridge, but this time the hose itself was cracked. So he is getting a new hose today and will hopefully be able to replace it tonight. (He also shut off the water and cleaned up the leak all on his own, which impressed me!) Also I need to stop at the library on my way home and pick up Rapture Ready!: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture, which they’re holding for me. (Yes, another book I saw mentioned in relation to the Duggars.) Expect a review soon, maybe.

Today is kind of rainy and yucky, but tomorrow is supposed to be a beautiful day, so I talked GG into going up to visit his mural, and then going to dinner at one of our favorite places there. Looking forward to that! And I still have to get my act together and plan our vacation activities! I have tons of information on things to do, I just have to organize it. Every night I sit down with the intent of getting it all into a spreadsheet (and then some sort of schedule), and then I don’t touch any of the info.