Independence Day and a Zombie Apocalypse

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I would be lying if I said the 4th of July is my favorite holiday. That doesn’t mean that my heart doesn’t swell when I hear a brass band play “God Bless America” or that my eyes don’t prick over with embarrassingly hot, ugly tears every single time I watch fireworks. Literally every. single. time.

But there is just something about Christmas and warm fireplaces and jingle bells and holly…you know? December, you have my heart.

Anyhow.

Our 4th was actually pretty uneventful this year. The morning started out with the gym (my favorite kind of morning) and then alongside a few friends we soaked in the Piedmont Parade. Holy freaking cow Piedmont is gorgeous. Like drool over all the art-deco houses and bemoan having a bank account that will never let you live there kind of beautiful. Interesting fact: Ryan told me that Piedmont once boasted more millionaires per capita than any other city in the US. Fact or fiction? I’m not actually positive but this I know for sure: those old homes were stunners.

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We decided to play lazy and spend the afternoon at the movies. Here is an absolutely true fact for you: going to the movies while in Northern California will wipe out your date fund for the next six months in 10 seconds flat. Two hours, two small bags of fresh popped kettle corn and World War Z later we were $60 poorer and discussing the probability of a zombie apocalypse. My conclusion: If Brad Pitt does indeed save the world and manages to look that good while doing it, you can bring on the walking dead anytime.

After a fat and delicious late afternoon nap we joined some friends for Greek and yet another movie because we obviously aren’t financially savvy and thus didn’t learn our lesson the first go around. Oh well. Here’s a free tip: The Lone Ranger wasn’t exactly the most riveting flick on the planet. But the Joneses sure are fantastic company!

And that in a nutshell was our Independence Day: zombies, FOOD, parades and missing the fireworks. Apparently tradition isn’t our strong suit.

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In Which I Learn to Enjoy Roughin’ It

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Growing up, my family would go camping once or twice a year max. Generally our version of camping included staying by a lake in a rented trailer, eating peanut M&Ms and playing Skip-Bo until someone else (grandpa) prepares a legit BBQ dinner. Also, there was always enough Shasta Cream Soda floating around to hydrate a tiny nation. We aren’t exactly hard-core.

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Don’t get me wrong, I have definitely spent more than one night in a tent. It’s just that some of those nights the tent was in my backyard. And I may or may not have spent the time watching a movie on a TV hooked up to the house with a fifty foot extension cord. And crawled back into my bed at 3 am.

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Basically this all boils down to me not exactly married to the idea that a tent is my best friend and that an air mattress is just as good as the real thing. I’d rather spend my nights away in a hotel. One with a fancy tub and cable so I can indulge in my Grey’s Anatomy obsession. Please and Thanks.

(In order to save face I will say that the rest of my family is actually pretty into camping. It’s just me that struggles. Go figure.)

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However, last week that all changed. Our friends talked us into a legit two night camping trip at the Union Valley Reservoir campgrounds in the Eldorado National Forest. We are talking tents, cooking our own food, outhouses…the whole shebang. Although I was a little skeptical we headed up Friday night right after work. Four hours of traffic-induced mania later, we made it. Crisp cool air, stars that weren’t covered by San Francisco pollution, a gleaming lake…I was sold.

IMG_3409 IMG_3424The next two days were filled with all sorts of camping goodies.  Tubing in the lake and managing to get mega-sunburned. A cute baby with dirt stained cheeks. Dutch-oven dinners compliments of the Beards, who rock outdoor cooking. Seriously. They are basically camping wizards.

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Saturday afternoon we hiked to Bassi Falls. Ashley and I dance-partied along the way, while the guys imitated The Office Parkour episode and 360-ed from rock to rock. Once there they braved the icy-cold water; I on the other hand was content to save my limbs from frostbite, thank you very much.

IMG_3602 IMG_3666Not to be forgotten was the keys-locked-in-the-truck episode. A few broken sticks, prayers, manipulated tent poles and a package of bandaids later we broke into that car ninja style.

Good food, good friends, lake water and pine trees all contributed to change my mind about camping. I am basically ready to head out into the middle of nowhere with only a moment’s notice. As long as there aren’t spiders. That changes everything.

#holthawaii13 Part III: North Shore

It’s 3:42 AM and I can’t sleep. I’ve tried online shopping, paying bills, organizing iPhoto…the whole nine yards and ain’t nothing working. So blogging about our last few days in Hawaii seemed like a pretty valid option. Bear with me.IMG_3042

Due to a nurse strike while we were in Hawaii I had a few extra days off of work (not so good for the paycheck, excellent for vacation-extending). So we did  the only reasonable thing we could think of…said screw it to real-life and stayed for two whole days longer than originally planned! I mean you always dream of staying on vacation, but to have the opportunity to make it happen…priceless, I tell you.IMG_3212North Shore is Ryan’s favorite destination on Oahu, so it seemed like the only obvious place to spend those precious last 48 hours. We quickly booked a room at theTurtle Bay Resort, hopped in our rented Sebring convertible (true tourists, let me tell ya. Also, high rollers. NOT.) and jetted over to the famous surfing beaches.

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Along the way I absolutely insisted we stop at the Dole Plantation for a whip. Tell me you have basked in the luxury that is pineapple frozen yogurt. I mean I will wait in line for an hour at Disneyland for one, let alone an authentic whip on an actual pineapple farm. DO NOT MISS OUT ON LIFE!IMG_3027

A few items of note:

  1. Waimea Falls: After a short, but gorgeous, hike we found ourselves in the company of this natural wonder. The water was way too cold for me, but that guy of mine hopped right in. As Ryan put it, ‘colder than a witch’s tit in a brass bra’ (too far? definitely). IMG_3190 IMG_3241
  2. Sunset Beach: My absolute favorite beach on the island. The sand is just the right balance of soft and warm, the water brisk but refreshing. And it goes without saying that the sunset views are coma-inducing amazing.IMG_3169 IMG_3113
  3. The Laie temple grounds were closed when we visited, but peeking through the gate was a treat. There is something so special about knowing the gospel is world-wide. Feels like home. IMG_3159 IMG_3162
  4. Ted’s Bakery: Pie. Breakfast. Teriyaki. Rolls. Enough said.IMG_3292
  5. Matsumoto’s Shaved Ice: We may have gone twice in one afternoon. Ask for the condensed milk. It’s a game changer.IMG_3288
  6. Morning runs in the banyan trees that made me relive my love for Lost. And also kind of freaked me out. True story.IMG_3179
  7. It has always been my life’s ambition to drink from an actual coconut. High goals and dreams right here, my friends. Well, I found the perfect little roadside stand where I got that coconut. I may or may not have had a nasty stomach ache right after, but that is beside the point. Also: Ryan made me put a flower in my hair because he said it was really cute. Which may have made my heart flutter a little. IMG_3151

And with the burst of hot air #holthawaii13 comes to a bittersweet end. I only took almost 2 months to drag it out. But it really was such a special week in my life. I’m so grateful for the opportunity we had to spend some much-needed time together on that perfect island. It’s something I will always treasure.