The Great Camping Trip of 2012

We have been wanting to go camping ever since we got married – I’m not the most outdoorsy girl out there, but I do love a weekend camping trip. There’s just something about sitting in a lawn chair, cooking dinner over an open fire, sleeping under the stars, and peeing behind a tree that just says FUN.
Oh wait, maybe not that last part. But seriously, I LOVE camping. Especially when the camping is so short I don’t have to shower in their facilities. In this case… an 18-hour campout, 45 minutes from our house.
It has taken us two years to find the perfect weekend with the perfect weather for our little adventure, but a few days ago Mr. Right sent me a text that said “How about a campout Friday night?” And the trip was on…
We headed out to Holiday Park at Lake Benbrook, just the two of us, Harley the Wonder Schnoodle, a tent, and a car full of stuff. Mr. Right took care of all of the details (he is such a catch, isn’t he?) and all I had to do was pack an overnight bag. 
We made our way to our little paradise in the woods (Campsite #97… totally worth the $14), quickly put up our tent, set up our gear, and breathed in the beautiful outdoor air.
And just then, a giant van pulled up, and out spilled an entire troop of junior high boy scouts, destined to take the two campsites right next to ours.
It was like my favorite movie, except boys. Eager, excited, extremely awkward boys experiencing their VERY FIRST CAMPOUT EVER! (insert squeals of excitement here) It was so funny to watch them skip around in pure glee over their weekend adventure with the dads.
While the boy scouts were enjoying their hotdogs and chips, my gourmet chef of a husband made us steak, grilled veggies and dessert wontons cooked in our cast iron skillet (filled with nutella and banana… they were outstanding). 
I’ve decided everything tastes better when cooked on an open fire. Especially when it’s cooked by your smoking hot husband. We basked in our cozy steak dinner and turned it into a really special date.
That night, thanks to our new air mattress and my trusty ear plugs (and who are we kidding… a hefty dose of Benadryl), I slept better than I usually do at home. 
The next morning Chef Right whipped up homemade french toast cooked in a cast iron skillet, and french press coffee for each of us (we even do “his” and “hers” coffee when we camp). Again… it was glorious.
Side note: I love how when you camp, it’s perfectly normal to have a roll of toilet paper next to all of your kitchen things. 
Since we were only about 15 minutes from my in-laws’ house, they met us for breakfast. They are so dear to us. 
We finished the camping trip by taking Harley the Wonder Schnoodle on a long walk around the lake, admiring the many spring wildflowers and enjoying the gorgeous weather.
After we packed up the car we decided to swing by to watch Mr. Right’s dad do some roping practice. His hobby is team roping, and I’d never seen him do it before. They’ve got a great set-up that includes a remote-controlled gate to release the cows. He even let me go on a quick ride on his prized horse Pokey. (Yes, I realize that hot pink polka dot running shorts are not exactly appropriate horse riding gear… you can also note that I’m still wearing the same shirt I wore the day before… gotta love camping.)

And then we headed back home for a hot shower and a two hour nap. Which is exactly how I like to end my camping trips.

Stay tuned, it’s a big week on the blog… I’ll tell you about the night when someone asked me, “How does it feel to be the only white person at this party?” And, I’ll debut pictures of my sister’s baby shower and THE baby quilt.

California dreamin

Northern California… what a glorious trip.
Here’s the background… Mr. Right’s seminary sends students during spring break to preach all over the country. We were lucky blessed enough to get a fabulous placement – the mountains of Northern California. Mr. Right preached four sermons (Sunday morning, Sunday night, Tuesday and Wednesday night) at a little Baptist church in Colfax, California – halfway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, up in the mountains but below the snow line.
I could move there. Not only was it beautiful, but the people were as nice as any Texans. It was so refreshing!
Most of the students who go on these preaching assignments tend to work VERY long days. Mr. Right offered, but our church took a different approach – they planned a few meals with members, took him to a concert with the youth and let him sit in on a men’s bible study, but other than that, when he wasn’t preaching, they encouraged us to enjoy a mini vacation just the two of us. It was rest for our weary souls – Mr. Right is still recovering from his trip to India, and a full load of grad school, plus a busy workload. On top of that, he now works during all church services, so he hasn’t sat through a worship service in three months. Add to that another stressful season at my job, and you’ll know why being able to relax and explore new places together–and worship together–was such a sweet blessing to us both.
(Note – pray for your pastors… and your pastors’ wives… they can always use your encouragement.)
But back to our trip:

1. I got to take part in a quilting bee at the cutest little quilt shop while Mr. Right helped with a men’s bible study. I wish my local store offered something like that – the ladies there were so fun and encouraging. I brought my yo-yo’s.

2. We ate lunch in an old house that used to be a 30-year-old sanitorium, and we saw Colfax’s largest personal rock collection.

3. It rained the entire time we were gone, so I instead of doing my hair, I went for the “I’m in California so I’m going to be a hippie” look. It made getting ready so much faster – maybe I’ll adopt the hippie look in Texas some day.

4. The rain didn’t keep us from exploring the little town and discovering the American River with its gorgeous old suspension bridge nestled between two mountains. We also found neat antique stores, resell shops, and I even bought a new dress at “Mountain Mama.” (Don’t be fooled by the name, it was super trendy).

5. Mr. Right brought it when he preached. I was one proud wife! Each night after he preached they had a good old-fashioned Baptist social, complete with pecan pie and peanut butter fudge. Those people can cook.

6. Thursday morning we rented a car and drove the three hours to San Francisco. Our host home showed us a fabulous detour that took us through Napa and Sonoma. It reminded me of my two trips to the hills of Tuscany, and gave me a hankering to go back with Mr. Right.

7. If you get carsick, I wouldn’t recommend driving through Mieur Woods to see the redwoods. We never get motion sick, and we were both dying by the time we finished – windiest road I’ve ever been on, and I’ve been on some doozies driving through Europe. But, the redwood trees were magical – trapped between the fog and the redwood trees they looked like something out of the movie Avatar.

8. A few years back I decided, on a wim, that I was going to run a half marathon in San Francisco. It sounded like a great adventure… until a very wise friend looked at me like I was crazy and said “Have you ever seen the hills in San Francisco?” I assumed they meant small hills… like they have in Fort Worth. Because, really, how big could these hills be?

I was very wrong. Those aren’t hills… they’re mountains.

9. San Francisco has the best food of anywhere I’ve ever visited. I ate crab cakes at Fisherman’s Warf. Lobster Lasagna at Annabelle’s (thanks Stephanie for the recommendation). A fried egg sandwich on homemade bread at Plow. And a latte from one of Anthony Bourdain‘s favorite spots – Blue Bottle Coffee.

Now you know why I started crossfit when I got home.

10. Mr. Right is the perfect travel partner for me. We just have so much fun together, and he doesn’t even judge me when I bring a bag that weighs 49.5 pounds, so heavy my handle broke. We laughed our way through much of the trip, and we relished having time away from homework and the responsibilities that come with being a grown up. What a treat.

On our way home, Mr. Right snapped this picture of the gorgeous sunset over Texas. In an effort for full disclosure, this was edited with Instagram, so while the original colors were vibrant, these are a bit played up. Still, it’s a good reminder of what a creative God we serve.
Soon we have another trip planned to the other side of the U.S. – Florida. I can’t wait.

Hunting and fishing and shopping… oh my!

This weekend we jaunted off to San Saba to a ranch getaway with Will’s family. This ranch was in the middle of a pecan orchard, with a spring that ran right through the middle, an adorable 60-year-old ranch house, a fire pit for roasting marshmallows…

And a dead deer hanging from a nearby tree by his hind legs.

Welcome to the country.

I’m a total city girl who doesn’t hunt and only owns pink camouflage, but it turns out that on this ranch getaway, the girls cook and shop while the boys hunt and grunt and fish, get their clothes dirty, and do extra manly things. I rather like this sort of ranch.

We girls set the boys off hunting Saturday morning with full bellies, and then jetted over to Fredericksburg for a half day of shopping and eating. I was able to snag the most adorable lace, one-of-a-kind boutique ruffled dress (for 50% off… hooray) and my sweet in-laws gifted me with some extra-sassy cowgirl boots for an early birthday present. We snagged homemade cookies at a local bakery and topped off the afternoon with a Sonic run.

It was a wonderful, relaxing weekend… until poor Mr. Right came down with the stomach flu. It made for a long night and a very long drive back. I felt horrible for him.

Now I have a sick husband on my couch and a couple bags of bloody dead birds (and part of a deer) in my freezer. Mr. Right has assured me that when he’s better, he’ll cook me dove wrapped in bacon. While I have long held the theory that anything wrapped in bacon will taste good… I may have found the one exception. We’ll find out soon.

Oh, and while we were out of town a stray pit bull (or other equally aggressive breed of dog) took up residence in our driveway. While I assume he likes us, since he brought a stray sock and tree branch to me this morning, he also growled and showed aggression toward our house sitter over the weekend, so this morning I paid a little call to animal control.

Life is never boring, is it?

Here are pics from our weekend adventure:

Will and I, while he was still feeling healthy

Will’s cousin, Will’s grandmother, and Will (it was Grammy’s 79 birthday)

Will’s cousin, grandmother, dad, and aunt

Sand between our toes

This has been a crazy, intense 2011. In addition to settling in with my new husband and getting our house and our lives (and our bank accounts) intermingled and organized, I threw 10 very large special events in just 11 weeks, all while being sick and feverish and very, very tired. So you can imagine that our little vacation to the beach hit at exactly the right time.
We did a lot of resting last week – we jetted over to Rosemary Beach, Florida with Mr. Right’s side of the family for a wonderfully relaxing family getaway. We stayed in a gorgeous beach house and did nothing but read novels and build sand castles and take two-and-a-half-hour naps and eat, and eat, and eat. It was glorious.

I spent one of my favorite mornings sipping coffee with Mr. Right and his grandmother on this porch, listening to her weave tales about her long life. We just soaked up her wisdom and enjoyed some good advice and sweet stories from this godly matriarch, who has a habit of saying “I’ll just tell Jesus…” when you need prayer. I want to be like her when I grow up.
Rosemary Beach is filled with gorgeous beach house-mansions, and this one was our absolute favorite. It faced the water and can be yours for an easy-peasy $12,000 a week. Not exactly in the budget for this minister’s wife, but we did steal a few pictures on that movie-worthy front porch. Strangely enough, this makes me want to start wearing more teal and mustard… I love that combination.
Maybe it was the humidity, or all the saltwater, but I fell more googly-eyed for my husband on this trip than ever before. It was a total treat to get him all to myself for a whole week, without work or responsibilities or a schedule to keep. We rode bikes and swam and even had a date night that involved crab cakes and a walk on the beach. The sound of those waves is just intoxicating.
And, he built me the most tremendous sand castle a girl could ever ask for.

This was our home for the week, complete with wrap-around porches and a gourmet kitchen. I could really move here without blinking. Do I smell a church plant on the coast?

I fell in love with this thing (I can’t remember what they’re called), and asked Mr. Right to promise me that someday, at some point in our marriage, we can have one of these in our back yard. Lucky for me he’s handy, so I’m confident that he could build it, and I’m pretty sure I could hot-glue some ivy to it if we don’t manage to grow any. Can you imagine the candlelit dinners we could have under that thing? Sigh.
But now it’s back to reality… and like always, we managed to start another huge project – this time it’s getting a house ready to go on the market. I’m up to my eye balls in paint right now… you can tell what color our kitchen cabinets are by the tell-tale paint that I can’t seem to wash off my hands, arms, legs… even my hair. But man, is it turning out cute!

Our little cabin in the woods

I have a deep love for sipping coffee while sitting on a rocking chair on a covered porch. It’s one of my greatest loves. And last weekend, I got to do just that for two whole days. Let me tell you, it was glorious.

A very generous couple from our church let us stay at their little cabin in the woods, a mini-ranch in Graham, Texas, about two hours from home. This little house had no neighbors, no cell phone signal, and no paved road. It was nestled amongst wild trees and fish ponds, far from street lights and road noise. And responsibility.
It was just what Mr. Right and I needed… I’ve been sick for most of our first two months of marriage, so I haven’t had the energy to be as adventurous as I typically like to be. But praise Jesus, last weekend I was healthy and energetic and we thoroughly enjoyed our mini adventure.
What we did:
Slept in
Sat on the porch in our PJs and drank coffee
Hiked the ranch, which was gorgeous
Fed the fish
Took a 3-hour nap (such a luxury)
Will went on a 7-mile run, while I sat on the front porch and hand-quilted my newest project (he’s training for a triathlon, so no days off for him!)
Ate like kings
Watched a John Wayne western
Had a really sweet time of prayer together
Admired sunsets
Laid in a hammock and gazed at the stars
Talked a lot about our first two months of marriage and dreamed about the future
What we did not do:
Check email
Talk to anybody
See anybody
Do anything responsible
It was such a special weekend, one that I will forever cherish. We are so grateful to the special couple who let us borrow it.
What a blessing.

San Diego

Just got home from my last trip of the year. After adventures in Miami, Colorado, California, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Croatia, I think I’m ready to hole up in my house for a little while and cocoon. I’m only a month away from being done with school, and between now and then all I want to do is hide and nest and eat cereal.

But San Diego was plenty beautiful. I’ll upload pics soon (have you noticed I often promise pics and rarely post? It’s because I know all of you probably see them on Facebook, and it takes too long to upload them twice). But I’ll do my best to upload them. Really. Probably. While I was in San Diego I walked along the beach in front of the famous Hotel del Coronado, I ate the most splendid Spanish food at a spot in the Gas Lamp District, and I enjoyed seeing several hundred marines at my hotel one evening for a marine ball. Many had come alone, it was just a darn shame that I hadn’t packed my cocktail dress in that humongous suitcase of mine. Sigh… maybe next time.
I also got to speak at the national PRSA Conference. That was a bit of a career highlight for me–2,000 public relations gurus at my industry’s largest conference of the year, and somehow I ended up getting a bio in the event guide! I only spoke at a break-out session, nothing huge, but still it was one of those neat resume-building experiences that I’ll probably never do again. All in all, it was a pretty nice trip indeed.
Back to the cocoon… I will see you in mid-December.


What a week it has been…

Last week started off with a midnight trip to the Emergency Room. I’ve been struggling with some major asthma issues over the past two weeks, and it really got ugly late Sunday night. I got to the point where I could barely breathe and finally drove myself to the ER. By the time I arrived, I was in pretty bad shape (imagine trying to breathe through a stir straw), but after lot’s of drugs and some heavy duty breathing treatments, I was better. Not great, but better. 
Luckily I work at the best hospital in the Metroplex, and they took good care of me. I can happily say that I’m not only the spokesperson, I’m now also a patient (it worked for that Hairclub for Men guy). I’m just hoping to not be a patient again anytime soon, although this asthma stuff still isn’t under control. I’m working with my doctor on it… feel free to send a few prayers my way!
So that was Sunday night. Monday night I had 20 people at my house for dinner and a church meeting. You know me… I don’t do anything half way. Luckily I have some wonderful guy friends (thanks Joel) who came over early and set up everything so I didn’t have to do any heavy lifting in my sorry state. I had already baked pies the night before, and we just ordered pizza, so it was a relatively easy party… at least as far as dinner for 20 goes.
Then Tuesday, I found out my big summer school paper was due on Friday (note to self: always double check the deadline). I thought I had another week. My 50 page paper was only a 10 page paper on Monday morning, but by Thursday night at 11:55, that sucker was written and edited and emailed to my professor. Let’s just say that I didn’t eat or sleep very much between Tuesday and Thursday. That’s a lot of writing.
Then Friday I celebrated the end of my paper with a road trip to float the Comal River in New Braunfels. It was such a nice trip–18 of us stayed in two rather posh condos and floated the river for two days. We also managed a little outlet mall shopping (yes!), some two-steppin’ at Gruene Hall, and dinner on the patio at the Gristmill. It was such a nice, mellow weekend and it gave me the chance to get to know a few folks better, as well as travel with some of my very favorite friends. I had a really great time, and I got to wear my cowgirl boots.

And now I’m back, unpacked (not really, my bags are still on my bedroom floor, but I just step over them), and life is back to normal, whatever that is. This really has been my favorite summer in my history of summers, and as I look toward the fall and some upcoming fun trips (San Diego and Estes Park, Colorado!) I must say that I can’t wait.

European Vacation – Part 2

One of my life verses is Joshua 21:45 – “Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.”
God keeps all his promises. Bethe, however, does not.
I was looking back at old blogs and saw that I had promised you a proper recap of my European trip, and then I never got past the first leg. So here’s part two… my Greek adventure. At least, part of it.
First stop… Corfu, Greece.
Corfu was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. It was a rather small Greek island, not much to the city, but had gorgeous mountains with stunning views. Sara and I decided to do the Jeep 4×4 tour offered by our cruise, because we’re independent, adventurous women. Only one small snag… neither of us knew how to drive a standard, and the jeeps were all standards. So we’re independent, adventurous women who have been spoiled by our automatic transmissions. And our daddies.
So we finagled our way into a jeep with a nice couple from New Jersey. In true New Jersey fashion, these folks spoke with thick accents and drove like maniacs. Mrs. New Jersey nagged her husband about his driving the whole time, and Mr. New Jersey would shoot daggers right back. Ahhh, such a peaceful way to see the sights.
Did I mention Mr. New Jersey hadn’t driven a stick in TEN YEARS? That would turn into a key bit of information. Because he DIDN’T KNOW WHAT THE HECK HE WAS DOING.
So here we go, down a narrow road up the side of a mountain. Sputter, jump, die. I’m already a bit of an antsy passenger since I’ve been in ten wrecks (no lie) and all my friends know I’m a front seat flincher. So you can imagine how my blood pressure started to creep up just a little as we made our way through the steep roads and small villages.
We got to one cute little village, with a road so narrow that only one car would fit at a time (a 2-way street, but you’d better know how to take turns). And that’s when the fun started. 
First came the smoke. We noticed that our engine was billowing smoke, the kind that smells strangely like burning rubber. Or fire. And then came the noises. Grind, sputter, jump, die. Over and over our car would die, and Mr. New Jersey would have to turn it off and start it again. Finally, our little Jeep That Could became the Jeep That Could Not. She just gave up. I don’t blame her, I would have done the same thing. The next time Mr. New Jersey started the car and threw her in gear, she just rolled backwards, straight toward the jeep behind us. So we tried again. Same thing. Mrs. New Jersey started screaming at her husband. He started sreaming back. The four of us were covered in smoke, hacking at the poisonous gases surrounding our car. Sara started to look scared, and I knew my non-confrontational friend was about to have enough. The fourth or fifth time we rolled backward, coming dangerously close to causing a 10-jeep pile-up, Sara looked at me with wild eyes and said, “I can’t take it anymore. I’m getting out!”
And then she started climbing out of the back of the jeep.
Out of nowhere a Greek villager with no shirt and a very large beer belly came to her rescue and hoisted her out of our rolling jeep. There was no Greek villager waiting for me (story of my life) so I abandoned ship on my own. We scurried off to the shelter of one of the buildings and tried to get out of the way.
They had to push our poor jeep to safety. We blocked all transportation coming to or from that little village for a good long while. While the men were clearing the road, we did what any responsible American girls would do if they were in our situation in a strange city, all alone.
We took pictures for our Facebook page.

(This last pic is of me doing the famous “Sic ’em Bears” Baylor shout-out in front of a green and gold house).

We left our little Jeep That Could Not in that sad, Greek village and hitched a ride with some very friendly French Canadians in a jeep behind us. They were kind, but they were French Canadian, which meant they hated to speak English. They would tell these wild stories in a language we did not know, laugh hysterically, then look at us. I’m sure it was just a strange coincidence and they weren’t really telling wild stories about the two stupid American girls who couldn’t drive a standard and ended up killing their car.
No, I’m sure it had nothing to do with us.
The rest of our drive was beautiful and uneventful. We never rolled down a cliff, hugged no more shirtless Greek men (although… oh nevermind). We stopped at a cute little restaurant nestled into the side of a cliff, overlooking the sea, and enjoyed some tasty Greek food. I don’t have a very adventurous palette when it comes to foreign food, but I must say that Greek food is absolutely heavenly (as is Spanish food, but I’ll save that for my Barcelona recap). 
Here’s some more pics of beautiful Argostoli, Greece.

Next stop… the island of Santorini, Greece… home to Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Cheesiest movie ever, but you know I’m a sucker for movies about girlfriends. And fashion. And cute boys named Kostas.
Santorini is known for its white-washed churches with the blue domes. They were all over the Oia Village (pronounced “ee-a” and rhymes with “tortilla”). We spent half a day wandering around the little village, stopping every ten feet to take a picture of another beautiful view. I mean, come on people, we have a Facebook photo album to fill.
Santorini was also home to the very best ice cream cone I have ever had. Maybe because it was hot, and I was starving, and I was in a picturesque fishing village, but that little prepackaged ice cream cone from the tiny Greek convenience store was the best frozen goodness I have ever experienced.
It’s the little things in life that are important, right?
So after we took in the beauty of Oia, went over to the Fira village on the other side of the island (pronounced “feera” like “fear”). 
There we shopped for hours. We didn’t really buy anything because Fira’s number one offering is fine jewelry, and while Sara and I are fine girls, our trip was so expensive that we could afford very little finery once we got there. But we browsed and flirted with the locals and enjoyed being somewhere so romantic and glorious. 
You might say it was a woman’s paradise
(Sorry, just couldn’t resist…)

That night we found a perch on a patio overlooking the sea and enjoyed a three-hour dinner as we watched the sun set over a volcano. When the sun finally went down, the place erupted in cheers. Now, when was the last time you cheered at a sunset? That’s just the sort of thing that makes Greece so sensational.
From our spot we could watch everybody come and go who visited the island. That’s where we saw Jason, our foxy cruise director. He was our age, and did we mention foxy? Because he was rather delicious. We knew he had noticed us before… it was hard to miss us since we were one of only about 20 people under the age of 80 on our ship. We knew Jason had seen us, but up until that night he had never said a word. He was determined to play it cool.
All that changed in Santorini.
We saw Jason and all his wonderfulness standing at the look-out point next to where we ate dinner. He was way too cool for school, in a shirt that hugged his muscles and made him look even dreamier than the company-issused polo and boat shoes he wore for most of the trip. Jason saw us, checked us out, but completely ignored us.
So we decided to get his attention. 
We looked right at him, caught his eye, and then we very sweetly asked the equally gorgeous guy standing next to him if he would take our picture. And we ignored Jason.
Well what do you know, that was the same night that Jason decided to become our friend. It’s amazing how predictable boys can be sometimes.
The rest of our trip, whenever something would happen, we would say things like, “Where’s Jason when we need him to carry our luggage?” or “Where’s Jason to buy us ice cream when we need him?” or “Where’s Jason to rub my tired shoulders?”  We’re much too classy to do  much more than give Jason the time of day, but he became our little pet mascot for the rest of the trip. I only regret that I never snuck a picture with him, but I decided that was a little stalkerish.
Plus I’m just chicken.
Oh yeah, back to Santorini.
During the whole trip, my number one goal was to ride a donkey through the streets of Santorini, just like the gals do in the Sisterhood movie. There’s only three ways to get to Santorini… by cable car, by donkey, or by walking 650 steps up a steep mountain cliff. I made Sara, a close animal lover, promise me that we could ride the donkeys back down to the cruise ship at the end of the night. The idea sounded so good in my head.
Unfortunately, the donkeys had a curfew. Or an early bedtime. Because by the time we finished our dinner, watched the sunset and flirted with foxy Jason, the donkeys were no longer available. We didn’t figure that out, however, until we had already walked a few hundred steps down the mountain. By then it was too late to turn back, and we were on a time crunch so the ship wouldn’t leave us (although on second thought, I think the ship leaving me in Santorini would have been the best possible scenario). 
So we started the long walk down the mountain. Only one, teeny tiny problem. Our path was the same path the donkeys usually took. And let’s just say that these donkeys used that path as their personal porta-potty. So our 45-minute walk down the mountain was on slippery stone steps… covered in donkey doo. And lot’s of it.
It was foul, nasty, horrible, gross… all those words and more could never describe just how awful it smelled. We were in cute little sundresses (because every girl in Santorini wears a sundress, it’s part of the uniform) and itty-bitty flip flops. One small slip and my cute little rear would have been covered in donkey dung. We had several close calls, but both Sara and I survived our adventure with only a few souvenirs stuck to the bottom of our flip flops. As soon as we were back on the boat, we went right to our rooms to disinfect our shoes and scrub them down. 
That walk was the funniest, most wonderful memory of my trip. Looking back, as we held our noses and tried our darndest not to fall, we got to see Fira sparkling at night, surrounded by stars and thoughts of foxy cruise directors. It was a splendid experience indeed.
PS… here’s a view of our boat from the cliffs of Fira…
I promise, more to come on the rest of my trip… but it may be awhile. These things take time, my friend. And if you don’t hear from me for awhile, you can assume foxy Jason came riding up on his white horse with a box of chocolates and two plane tickets back to Santorini. 

Venice, Croatia, and Other Musings

I read tonight that a writer is someone who can’t keep from writing to save her life. And I could strangely relate. I write for work, for school, for church, and then I come home, curl up on my couch with my laptop and the words continue to spill out of my soul. I’m like a leaky faucet. Maybe I need to see a plumber.
This has been a crazy week… I dropped my bags off in my bedroom (with clothes, souvenirs, books and random receipts spilling out all over my once clean bedroom floor) and went straight to work. All weekend I was too jetlagged to do much (except for about six hours of work in my garden… which looked wonderful Saturday afternoon, but one day later everything seems alarmingly wilted). As I think about the coming week, which is full of activities to count down to my sister’s wedding on Saturday, I’m not sure when I’ll find time to recap my trip. But I want to do it before my memories skip off, and the trip becomes just a blur of jumbled up pictures. Like my last trip to Europe, where I think… “I went to some cool small towns in Italy… but I have no clue what those towns were!”  
So on to the beginning…
Oh wait… first… Scott and Cassandra, this is for you…  (Scott, you’re not a true fan unless you read the books… do it for me.)
Okay, now time for the trip recap:
I’ll skip over the travel part, because that’s not very interesting. Well, except for the part where Sara and I passed out at the Brussels airport on chairs right next to the main shopping area. We had already been traveling for about 16 hours and taken two flights, and we hadn’t slept five minutes.  So on my suggestion, we found the only chairs in the airport that didn’t have armrests and sprawled out across a row. Since we were two American girls in a foreign country, we did the responsible thing and looped our bags through our arms to keep a thief from taking everything. Which means we would have slowed down a thief by about two seconds as he quickly ripped our bags out of our arms as we snoozed soudly. It probably didn’t help that I put my sweatshirt over my head to block out the sunlight. I bet we looked like homeless girls to those Belgium locals.  I remember thinking, “If my dad could see me now, he would have a fit.” But somehow we survived, bags intact, and eventually made our connection to Venice. 
We left Monday morning around 10:30 and arrived in Venice Tuesday evening around 6:00. I thought we were going to grab dinner and then go straight to bed. But crazy Sara and her parents somehow convinced me to go out that evening in Venice, and we stayed out until 1:00 in the morning! 
I was exhausted, but I’ll admit, that was a fun night. We watched dueling orchestras play in Saint Mark’s Square on a beautiful, warm summer evening. It was one of those nights where you have to pinch yourself to see if the magical moment is simply a dream. 
(Please note that I had been up more than 36 hours when this photo had been taken. I probably had 15 layers of makeup on. If you look closely, you can see your reflection in my greasy hair. Lovely, I know).
The next day we slept in (praise Jesus) and went back into Venice for a leisurely brunch and stroll through the back alleys. Both of us had been to Venice before, so it took away the pressure to see everything. It’s crazy that I have been to Venice more often than I have been to Austin lately. In fact, I’ve been to Europe three times in the past four years, and haven’t seen Houston in six. Those, my friend, are good priorities.

We had to be back on the boat by 3:00 so we could set sail on our cruise. But first, we got to do the dreaded lifeboat drill. Somehow we managed to make that fun.

That first night on the cruise was formal night, so we got all gussied up and went out to dinner. There’s something about eating steak and lobster while sitting on a cruise ship as it sails away from Venice that is just… cool. Plus, we enjoyed the chance to get dressed up and hang out with all the handsome men. Oh wait, all of the men on our trip were over 100. Except the one, and I’ll get to him later… (see, now you have to keep reading… I promise to tell you all about Jason).

The next day we went to Dubrovnik, Croatia. This was an adorable little medieval town, set on a cliff next to the Adriatic Sea. The town is surrounded by a giant defensive wall (these walls always make me think of rebuilding the wall at Jerusalem) and we were able to walk on top of the wall around the entire city. If this wall walk was a tae bo workout video, it would have been the super-advanced version. It took us about 90 minutes to walk the wall, including many steep, slippery steps up and down in 100-degree heat. There’s only one way up to the wall, and only one way off, so if you change your mind half-way through, you either have to jump about 30 feet and hope you don’t die as you hit the street below, or keep going.
The views from this wall were spectacular. I discovered on this trip that I love the combination of cliffs and the ocean, a landscape that was repeated throughout Greece as well. And the feeling of exhilaration when we made it to the highest point of the wall (after what seemed like 100 steps) was well worth the workout.
Do you see how clear the water is below? Love it.

I loved this bell tower because it reminds me of my two sisters… I’m a sucker for anything that comes in threes. I’m probably a little extra sappy since my baby sister is getting married in just a few days. 
After we conquered the wall, we went out for pizza to celebrate. And then gelato, which I got for free from a very friendly Croatian gelato worker. Little did I know that I would have pizza and gelato every single day for the rest of my trip. And yet somehow, I never grew tired of it! Maybe it reminded me of my college days (when I was a little heavier than I am now… wonder why?).
Stay tuned for my next post about the day our jeep died in a Greek village on the island of Corfu, Greece. Don’t you just love having a shirtless Greek man push your car through the countryside? Of course, if I could do it over again, I would have requested a Greek villager without the beer belly. But when you’re a damsel in distress, you can’t be too picky.

Coming soon

I’ve got so many stories to share from my trip, but I’m suffering from a bit of jet lag and haven’t had time to properly organize my thoughts. Let’s just say that this was the trip of a lifetime, and I have so many wonderful memories. Stay tuned for some pics soon!