Thursday, August 27, 2015

Week 34 - Sharing with Friends

After my weekend of catching up from being away, I was looking forward to a normal week but a couple of things were different that thwarted my normal.

I had 3 sessions with the consultants on the space database first thing Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I’m an 8:15 kind of person on a good day and now I had to be across campus and ready to rock and roll by 8:00. To compound that, I was filling in for another cat feeder so had to feed 3 feeders, park in my lot (the downside to assigned parking is you can’t park in another lot if you have business elsewhere on campus) and walk to the far side of campus. All that had me leaving the house at a time I was usually still knitting in pajamas. That was HARD but I got it done. I was there most of the day Tuesday and mornings Wednesday and Thursday. We actually got out earlier than expected those two days, which was nice. Having a normal morning on Friday and nothing on my calendar felt like a treat.

The second was potentially a good thing – it was one of the 3 weeks of the year with no swimming (usually at the semester change.) This meant I could go right home every single night. Lovely. I had knitting as usual on Monday and enjoyed Tuesday evening but was feeling guilty by Wednesday. The weather was very fall like and I decided I had to take advantage of it so headed to my veg beds to plant some fall greens – Swiss chard, lettuce and spinach. When I was done with that, I started weeding in an effort to pull all the beggar’s tick (the weed with the pretty flower but obnoxious seeds that the cats bring in in their fur) before it flowers. I got a ton pulled in the back yard (hopefully all of it) before my stomach sent me inside for supper. That one night redeemed me so I could enjoy the rest of my evenings of going straight home. 

Monday was a banner day. Not only did I not have to be up at the crack of dawn but when I did get up I saw an email from Amazon that they were having a one day sale on Kindle HD6 for $69. Now I have an iPad but I bought it used years ago when a friend upgraded and it's so old that I can no longer download most apps, which has cramped my style on Amazon and Hulu streaming. It still does Netflix but those days are probably numbered. I didn't take much thought to decide I should get the Kindle. I got the base model at $69 and then found a cute, orange case on ebay for $6, which beat the lowest priced one on Amazon for $29. So for $75, I was up and running on all my streaming platforms. I had it in hand on Wednesday and it came pre-linked to my Amazon account. Yay!

Monday night was the big yarn share at knitting. I had given out a few single skeins two weeks earlier but didn’t have the missing bag of yarn at that time so waited for the big handout. I had a tote full of skeins, all sorted by colorway, to share. Everyone seemed pretty happy to get the yarn and I was happy to get rid of it. I’d kept nearly 50 lots from the Craig’s List haul and still had scads to share with friends. Isn’t life grand?

Monday was also the official start of our WIP contest. We'd done this last year when the library flooded and we were meeting in the Vets' Club. How it works is we have a start date and anything on the needles that day counts. For each item you finish, you bring in a prize for the prize bag and you get an entry. At the end of the contest, we pick names and you get to chose a prize from the bag for each item you finished. We all get to finish old projects, get rid of knitting things we don't want and leave with new knitting things. Win, win, win! I had organized my WIPs in anticipation of the contest and by the end of the week, I had already finished 3. Yay!

Speaking of sharing, Lori had asked me if I wanted any cucumbers from her garden and since I had opened my last jar of homemade sweet relish recently, I said yes. It’s impossible to find commercial sweet relish without high fructose corn syrup and I like relish on the rare hotdog I eat so I’ve been making my own for years. Lori was going to be in town Saturday and dropped some cukes mid-afternoon so I got chopping. Making relish is a long, drawn out affair because I chop everything by hand (I like consistent chunks), then soak it for 2 hours before you can even think of cooking it down. I made a batch and a half and finished cooking it after 10:00 Saturday night. It only made 5 jars, 2 of which I shared with Andrea and Lorri (2 R’s so not the same one) when they stopped by Sunday. Andrea brought me a little leek pie when she dropped off chicken litter for my compost pile and Lorri shared some tomatoes and onions from her garden. It is good to have friends! Lori would get her jar at knitting on Monday.

Besides the relish, I had a pleasant weekend doing chores and knitting. I was ready for the work week with a frig full of food and completely recovered from my travels. The fall like weather was holding and I was thoroughly enjoying that. The heat will probably be back but in the meantime the AC was off and I was happy. Fall will be here soon enough and the students were already flocking back to campus. I do love the seasons and working in academia reinforces that. Enjoy everyone.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Week 33 - Home from Denver

I woke up way earlier than Amanda and Rene so after waiting awhile, I got dressed and walked to Starbuck’s for a coffee. I enjoyed that while knitting/streaming until they woke up. We packed in minutes, checked out and headed to the Denver Botanic Garden, eating granola bars in the car and calling it breakfast. The gardens were beautiful and the weather was perfect. We strolled around, enjoying it all until our stomachs complained so we had an early lunch in the café overlooking the water lily pool. More perfection. After a stop in the gift shop, we headed to the airport. We returned the car and then had an hour to kill so I taught Amanda to knit while we sat at the gate. She took to it immediately and the time flew, as it often does while knitting. It was another uneventful flight and I walked into my house just before 8:00 pm.

It was a wonderful trip and we had been discussing where to go next before we even got home. In that discussion, Amanda and I realized that we were both going to The Black Hills for Labor Day weekend. Since I was leery of driving my car so far through such unpopulated, no cell reception territory, Amanda offered to car pool. Eureka! I will be taking half a vacation day to meet her after lunch at her house and we’ll drive up together. She’s excited to have an adult to talk to (her 5 year old will be in the back seat) and to share gas expense. I’m excited to not have to drive, which means I can knit the whole time. And since Connie will have to drive to Hot Springs to pick me up, we decided to stay there Friday night so we can explore the southern hills on Saturday before heading to Spearfish. It all works out nicely. Life is good!

Since all I’d worn in Colorado was play clothes and I had just enough undies to make it through the work week, I opted not to do laundry when I got home Monday night. I was feeling great post-trip and was super productive at work and even ran errands over lunches, getting an oil change on Tuesday and scoring some new clothes at my thrifts on Wednesday. Wednesday I ran more errands on the way home then did a long overdue mow and so it was clear sailing to the weekend when I could do my laundry and catch up on everything that was behind from being away. The weather had even continued to be nice so I didn’t have to turn on the AC until Thursday night. And it wouldn’t be on for long because it was going to cool down again on the weekend. Yay!

I barely left the house on the weekend, staying inside and actually enjoying catching up on things. While I love to travel, no matter how fun the trip is, it’s always good to get home. And I was more than ready to start my next rotation, which I did on Saturday instead of waiting until Monday. I had gained some weight, both water and fat, in Denver so had that to lose and was just wanting to be eating clean again. I felt better immediately and looked forward to losing more weight. What a great week! Starting on vacation with friends and ending on a healthy note were the bookends of my week. : )

Week 32 - Fun in Denver

The week started with fiscal year end and finished with Denver. It feels like that could be the whole post but I’d guess you want details so here goes.

Fiscal year end was in full swing but I’d done so much prep work in the previous ten days that my to do list was not too bad by Monday. I was there for whatever Mary needed but it wasn’t too stressful. I was even able to take lunches so went out Monday and tracked down all the new Lay’s flavors so we could have a taste test at knitting. The flavors were all over the board and different people liked different ones. Erica and I like Rueben (but I’d still prefer a plain Lay’s) and Jan couldn’t put down the Biscuits and Gravy. The Truffle Fries were disappointing and the Gyros were just disgusting. I brought the leftovers to work and it was about the same. After sitting in the office for more than a week, the Gyros got thrown out.

On Tuesday night, Lori brought me the errant bag of sock yarn that she’d picked up in Omaha so we had fun sorting all that. She took a couple of bags of yarn and I’d already taken what I wanted but I still had a tote full of yarn to share. All good, right?

I did a single load of laundry when I got home on Thursday, threw the resulting clean clothes in a book bag and I was ready for Denver when I left for work on Friday, which flew by. I was pretty excited, despite finding out that Frontier charges for carry ons! $40 each way for each person! Total rip off. Anyway, I called Amanda and asked if she had a suitcase that Rene and I could combine our stuff into because that only cost $20 each way to check. She had one so we quickly repacked at her house and headed to Omaha.

The flight was uneventful (can’t ask for more these days) and we got our car and drove to the hotel, which was right downtown and just a block and a half from the 1th Street pedestrian mall. It was pretty late but we were starving so the bellhop at the hotel sent us to the 5280 Burger Bar. We didn’t eat until almost 11:00 but it was so dry and cool that we sat outside. I got the Southern Bell with housemade pimento cheese and pecan smoked bacon with fries and a Guinness. Yum! If the rest of the trip went as well, we were in for a fun time. 

After a too short night of sleep, which had me sharing a bed with Rene but that worked out fine, we were up and ready for the day. Our waitress the night before was British so we’d been talking about full English breakfasts so while they showered, I googled and found a pub that wasn’t too far away that served the real deal breakfast and had good reviews. We set out walking and found the pub in full swing, full of drunken soccer fans because it was the first day of the soccer season and they’d opened in the wee hours. We sat at the last table and enjoyed an excellent breakfast. Rene is a soccer fan so she was in her element, even drinking a shot another fan bought for her. The girl at the next table was screaming at the TV so loudly that I could feel it in my sinuses. Not exaggerating here. After a bit, Amanda and I went to sit outside to get some peace and quiet. Rene came out eventually and we headed to a yarn shop I’d looked up online. It was quite a walk but oh so pleasant. I should mention here that I’d forgotten to take my meds so my knee was none too happy at this point. We had to wait for the shop to open and then it was quirky so I made a pity purchase of some alpaca and off we went.

Right around the corner was a pot shop and we just had to check it out. It was called Euflora and you went down a flight of stairs off the main mall to a set of smoked glass doors. When they opened it was like walking onto a movie set. It was a bright store with sleek fixtures and an ultra modern vibe. You had to show a license to get in and there were tables around the center with jars of pot with explanations and statistics on each one. There were free standing towers full of edibles and paraphernalia was in recessed, well lit cubbies in one wall. The t-shirts and souvenirs were at the back. The clientele was a complete mix. There were no stoner types that I could see and the rest ran the gamut from young professionals to a hippie grandma and grandpa with the college age grandkids. Too funny! They all had scanners so scanned what they wanted to buy then went to the register to pay and get their goodies. There were helpful people walking around asking if you needed help with anything. I was floored by how mainstream it all was. And considering how many people were in there on a Saturday morning, I’ve got to say that Colorado has a gold mine on their hands. Nebraska will be the last state to legalize pot and so will miss out on all the tax revenue. Figures.

We took the 16th Street shuttle to the far end and then walked to another yarn shop. It was even quirkier than the last (seeing a trend here?) and I bought a little wallet but no yarn. We still weren’t hungry after our big breakfast so I opted to go back to the hotel for my meds while Amanda and Rene went shopping for water shoes for Amanda for the next day. When they got back, we headed out for a snack. Our hotel was perfectly located to everything fun downtown so we found a Mexican restaurant and enjoyed nachos in the bar. Amanda and Rene were flagging at this point so we went back to the hotel where they took a nap and I knitted while streaming Netflix. No matter how tired I am, I am not a napper. By the time they woke up, we were all starving so googled pizza and ended up at Lucky Pie, just a few shuttle stops away. It was another amazing meal. We just could not go wrong in Denver. I ended with fresh donut holes with espresso crème anglaise. Heaven! We walked back along the mall, enjoying the dry weather and festive crowds. We didn’t stay out too late because the next day was white water rafting so we needed our beauty rest.

We got up early and headed to Estes Park in our rental car, stopping along the way for a hearty breakfast in Boulder since we’d be busy at lunch time. We got on a school bus (hadn’t been on one of them in I don’t know how long) in Estes only to be driven 90 minutes to the Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins. At least I got a bunch of knitting done. After suiting up with helmets and life jackets in a state park, they gave us a safety talk and off we went to the river. Our guide was Leo, who sat in the back and Rene and Amanda offered to be the lead paddlers in the front. I was in the middle of the boat next to a little girl who wasn’t paddling. I assured her no one would be going overboard from our raft. Can you see where this is going?

We were on the river for about 2 hours totally and had made it through the biggest rapids (level 3) plus had stopped to jump off of a rock and swim, which I’d declined since I didn’t want to get wet it being a bit chilly. We got back in our boats for the last bit of the trip when Leo asked if we wanted to go through the last rapids straight of spinning. “Spinning!” everyone shouted. When we went spinning into a spot between huge rocks, my side of the boat went under but when we hit the second rock, Rene got pitched back in. I wasn’t so lucky so was tumbling around in the rapids before popping up 20 feet away from the boat. I swam over, took the oar someone stretched out towards me and Leo grabbed my life jacket and pulled me in like I weighed nothing. I was fine through this all (chalk that up to being completely comfortable in water having grown up in The Ocean State) but he started through his check list – Are you OK? Do you need immediate medical attention? Did you swallow any water? (what’s that last one about?) I must have answered them all correctly because he settled me back on the gunwale and headed back down the river. I have to take Rene and Amanda’s word that they were frantic once I went in because by the time I was back in the boat, they were pissing themselves laughing. The only casualty was one of my diamond earrings. I’ll call it a sacrifice to the river gods. Considering all the rocks I could have hit, I consider myself lucky. And it’s a good story, right? Here's a pic of me and my savior.

Amanda’s boyfriend sent a classic text during our ride back to Estes – “I’m glad you had fun and that Marilyn didn’t die.” In celebration of my escape from death, we decided we deserved a fabulous meal so headed to the Stanley Hotel (of The Shining fame) for dinner. We checked first to make sure there was no dress code because although we’d changed back into street clothes once we got off the bus, we were just in shorts and t-shirts. We weren’t underdressed at all in the bar and had an amazing meal, complete with appetizers, dinner, dessert (Amanda eats that first) and, of course, Guinness for Amanda and me. It was so much fun. We explored a bit afterwards but most of the hotel is off limits except for guests. With full bellies, we drove back to Denver, happy with our rafting and dining adventures. It was a great last night. Stay tuned for our last day’s fun.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Week 31 - Shrinking and Yarn

It was the first week of the busiest two weeks of my work year – fiscal year end closing meetings. As usual, it coincided with the fair so I was plenty busy. Then add the social obligations I foolishly made and it was jam packed. But it all worked out fine plus there were a couple of bright spots.

Last summer, Carolyn said that sometimes it took time for your body to catch up when you were losing weight. Clearly that has happened to me. My weight loss has been steady but the last rotation was hard and I didn’t lose as much weight as I usually do. I had hoped to break 60 pounds by the end of the rotation but was stuck at 57. Still, my body seemed to be shrinking. All of a sudden, even my smaller pants were too big and so I went to the spare room in search of a pair of size 22 jeans I’d bought and set aside. Lo and behold, they fit! I pulled a pair of size 20 capris out and they were snug but were wearable. Eureka! Did I mention that I started at a size 28? I am very happy my new, thinner self.

Did I mention how full my week was? I had knitting on Monday, 4H fair check ins on Tuesday night, after which I mowed since I hadn’t on the weekend, and then I worked until almost 10:00 running reports from home. Since I’d had no down time all day, I struggled to fall asleep and was up in the wee hours, hungry but determined not to snack. After work Wednesday was a movie that I desperately tried to get out of but since I’d promised not to cancel when I’d rescheduled from last week, I had to go. It was Mr. Holmes, which I wanted to see but it was a slow start so I was fighting sleep. It did eventually hook me but was a hard movie to watch (Sherlock a doddering old man? No thank you!) and then dinner afterwards was a rushed buff bowl at Noodles because Nancy had somewhere to be. At least that left me time to go check out my ribbons at the fair. I’d won best of lot with some socks and mostly blues on everything else. Nice.

I was up in the wee hours again and was so wide awake that I ran some reports Mary had requested at 2:00 a.m. I scored some brownie points on that move but was exhausted the next day. The day was full then after swimming we went out to Mellow Mushroom with Jessica’s mom, who wanted to meet us all. It was lots of fun and only one more day to go. Friday flew by and I happily went home for the weekend with big plans to be productive. I was tired and not as productive as I’d planned on Saturday but I did manage to finish everything I’d left half done from the previous weekend. I guess that’s something.

While I was procrastinating chores on Saturday, I went on to Craig’s List, something I rarely do, and found a woman in Omaha with some yarn to sell. I was willing to check it out when I was planning to do an Omaha run on Saturday but when that didn’t work out, I asked if she had any sock yarn to see if it was worth making a special trip. When she said she had a tote full, I made plans to go after knitting at Lori’s on Sunday afternoon. I loaded up the car with Goodwill donations (cross that off) and food for the chickens and headed to Lori’s. We had fun knitting in the AC and then I headed to Omaha.

OMG! When Vicki opened the door, there was a 20 gallon tote brimming over with good quality sock yarn and trash bags of yarn all over her living room. I went through all of the bags, which had been her dad’s, and came up with 2 trash bags to add to the tote. Long story short, I got it all for $80. She asked me for $40 but that just wasn’t enough. Unfortunately she helped me take the bags out to the car and picked up the wrong one, which I didn’t realize until I got home. Even so, I had 2 huge lots of yarn to go through and spent my Sunday evening happily sorting yarn. And Lori was willing to pick the other bag after work one night so I wouldn’t have to drive to Omaha again. Here’s a pic of about 1/3 of the total score. Great way to end a stressful week, am I right? I’ve got plenty to share and more than I could ever need. Hopefully the yarn high will take me through the next week, which is the 2nd half of the closing meetings and Nora’s on vacation so it’s all me. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Week 30 - Just Saying No!

This week was all about saying No! It seemed like every time I turned around, I was nixing something. It all worked out for the best in the end though.

It started Monday morning, when I was feeling foggy headed and was struggling to get moving. The final straw was driving in listening to the book for book club on Thursday – River of Doubt. It was a non-fiction account of Theodore Roosevelt’s trip in the Amazon and it just went on and on. I was halfway through the book and they’d just hit the river. Done! I couldn’t stand another second of the blather and knew dismal stuff was coming so called it good. Life is too short to read/listen to bad books. From there, the day got better and I was in a good mood by the time I left knitting. But when I approached my house, there was a dead, orange kitten in the road in front of my house. Not having a clue whose it was and not finding any neighbor who knew, I buried him in my backyard for lack of a better solution. I didn’t let it ruin my good mood though and continued in that vein, deciding not to worry about staying up late to clear surfaces for the cleaning lady. I got on facebook and told her to just do the floors and bathrooms because I wasn’t going to stress about the rest. Another No that worked for me.

On Tuesday morning, I took one look at the weather forecast and decided it was time for yet another No! I had made plans to go to a movie with my friend Nancy after work on Wednesday but the weather was going to be gorgeous again and I could not face the idea of being stuck inside on such a nice evening on the only day in the week I can go right home. I called Nancy and postponed until the following Wednesday, which meant I could ditch work a bit early and get 2 hours of gardening in before dinner. I reclaimed the rest of my veg beds and the berries. When I went in to shower just before 7:00, I felt great for the progress I made. Yet another No working in my favor.

Thursday was yet another full day – from work to the pool to book club, getting home after 8:00. But the next day was Friday so it was all good. The first closing meeting was at 10:00 so I prepped for that first thing, had a delicious lunch with Layton at McFarland’s and then met Darla at Menard’s after work. I needed an under the bed box to get my gift wrap in order, which was the first step in reclaiming the floor of my laundry room. I failed to find one at Menard’s but did get one at the next store so headed home confident in my plans to stay in and be productive all weekend.

It was hotter than blazes so I spent all weekend inside except for a brief run to the market on Sunday. By the end of the weekend, I had gone through all the wrapping stuff, reclaimed the laundry room, cleared the surfaces of my 3 problem areas (desk, bar and table) then went through all the paper. I also cooked/prepped a bunch of food for the week, including a big pot of veggie soup for my 600 calorie days. Lest you think there was no fun in there, I did make time to dye a bit of yarn for my swap and do some knitting between all the regular chores. I even skyed with my friend Eileen in Canada on Sunday morning. Progress is good!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Week 29 - Back to Reality

There isn't much to say about this week. It was perfectly normal day by day but I started the week feeling behind, with stuff all over the house but my full schedule left me no time to deal with any of it. I also wasn't sleeping well, which didn't help. It'd all get done eventually.

Things turned around on Thursday when there was no water aerobics because of an issue with the pool. After a stop at the market to restock on groceries, which was long overdue, I blissfully ran home to start reclaiming the house. I finally took the last of my stuff out of the suitcase and put it downstairs. I also made a nice dinner and started to feel less behind. And the next day was Friday. 

I started the weekend by meeting Darla for thrifting. I'd already scored some yarn at Goodwill that afternoon so the fact that we found next to nothing didn't matter so much. It was great to be hanging with Darla and we weren't ready to part so went to Tico's for nachos. Not on the diet but I didn't care. We chatted while we ate and somehow I felt better because I had water instead of the margarita I wanted. Justification gets us through some days, right?

My weekend was chock full of more catching up. I had deposits to do for the Friends of the Library, stopped at Andrea's shop then dropped a bunch of produce scraps at Lori's for the girls. It was pretty hot out but I ended up outside anyway, starting to weed the garden, which had 5 foot tall weeds. Being gone for 10 days will do that. I ended Saturday with a restocking run to Dollar General. I was outside again on Sunday, mowing, clearing the deck, weeding and arranging containers and finishing the laundry. By the end of the weekend, I had a better handle on things and wasn't feeling so behind but still had surfaces covered with crap. They'd just have to wait and I was OK with that. : )

Week 28 - Mini Road Trip

It was nice to wake up at Carolyn’s, even if my sore throat I’d woken up with the day before had morphed into a cold. I’d sucked Zicam all day Sunday so was hoping it’d be a mild one. The only event on our Monday agenda was lunch with Auntie Margaret and Bette, which was wonderful, as always, for both the food (fried clams at The Crow’s Nest) and the company. We had started laundry before leaving so could just throw a few clothes in an overnight bag to be ready to leave the next day. But there were all the totes of clothes to go through and I didn’t want to leave that until the end of the week so after we got back, I stood right in front of the AC vent and spent 2 hours trying on clothes. By the time I was done, I had 2 totes to take home, another to try again at Christmas and a leaf bag full of things for Sharyn to try. All good.

We were up and out of the house early  on Tuesday, headed for Vermont. Since our first stop was The Vermont Country Store in the southern part of the state, we were taking the scenic route to get there. The store, which Carolyn’s dad had said to skip but John had said to go to, was fun. We sampled our way through the food area and picked up enough stocking stuffers to make it worth the stop. Then it was on to King Arthur, which was our reason for going to Vermont. I was a bit disappointed that it was just a store of stuff I already order from the catalog (I guess I’d been expecting demos or some such) but we had a nice lunch in their café after buying some fun things in the store. Our hotel in Burlington was the next stop.

We arrived without event but when we got out of the car, Carolyn’s bag was nowhere to be found. After beating herself up for leaving it at home, we headed to JC Penney, which was right across the street, for a change of clothes, nightie and undies and then to the market for toiletries. I asked the goth bagger for a restaurant recommendation (cool and not a chain) but she couldn’t come up with anything so I asked where the college was and we put that into the GPS (for future reference, we call her “the lady”) and headed there. What a fabulous town Burlington is! We had our choice of fun places to eat on a 3 block pedestrian mall and had a yummy Italian meal for supper. Afterwards we headed to the lake and found soft serve, which I had a hankering for, at Beansie’s – an old yellow school bus converted to a food truck that’s permanently parked by the side of the park we were in. Nice. Then on the way home we found a cool store to check out later – City Market. It turned out to be a lovely day after the brief upset of the forgotten bag.

Our plan for Canada was just to hit Bulk Barn, which was right off the highway outside of Montreal and we were well prepared with mapquest directions all printed out. Bulk Barn was as fun as the first time and Carolyn loved it so our Canadian mission was a success. Then we went awry. John had emailed imploring us to see this city, which is one of his favorite places and he travels a lot. He recommended going to Atwater Market and the top of Mount Royal to see the view. Despite the fact that neither the GPS nor the phones were working north of the border plus not having a map, we decided to head into the city after all. Well, the first problem was the accident on the bridge that had traffic so backed up that it took 2 hours just to get over the river. I asked every person who had their window open and ended up stopped next to us where the market was and got lucky on the 3rd try – 2nd exit after the bridge. Unfortunately the 2nd exit dumped us in downtown Montreal with no sign of the market so we stopped at a Staples (Office en Gros or Fat Office in French) and found someone who spoke English and could give us directions. The market was a straight shot just few miles down the road and was lovely. It was an old farmer’s market full of locals buying produce. We had a late lunch in a café/bakery and Carolyn realized she’d been there 14 years ago on her only previous visit to Montreal, finding the elusive hedgehog pastry they’d failed to get that time. We shared one and it was delicious!

Since it was already later afternoon, we decided to head home, figuring we could just go right back to where we’d gotten off the highway and go back the same way. Yeah, right. We did that but the entrance was closed so we followed a detour only to find the next exit closed too. Feeling a bit desperate and with people honking at us, we got on the only highway in sight. While it was headed in the wrong direction, I figured we could easily exit and turn south. Wrong again! We ended up in a miles long tunnel under the city and when we came out, we were underneath one of the bridges over the river. Carolyn was starting to freak out (she’d been a trooper so far) but I have a good sense of direction so told her where to turn so we could find the entrance. After asking someone for directions, which I followed just fine in French, we found the entrance and made it across the river. But from there we were blindly following signs for USA and Carolyn wouldn’t take the exit for the highway we’d come in on for fear of ending up on the bridge from hell again so we kept following the USA signs. It didn’t take long before I realized we were heading to New York, which was the other side of Lake Champlain from our hotel. As soon as we crossed the border, the GPS came back to life and I found a way back via Route 11, which rambles through cute lakeside towns. Unfortunately we listened when the lady told us to take a turn towards a highway and so missed the most scenic part of Route 11, which does down the islands in the middle of the lake and ends with a bridge to Burlington. But at least we were headed back. It felt so good to be away from Montreal and back at our hotel.

We’d spent all day snacking on Bulk Barn purchases while stuck in traffic and had a late lunch so weren’t very hungry and the thought of getting back in the car, even just to drive downtown, was loathsome. Carolyn came up with the idea to walk to The Outback, which is right next door. While I normally would avoid a chain restaurant like the plague, this was perfect! We ordered drinks and appetizers and enjoyed them both. Way to end a stressful day!

The next morning we stopped at a cool food co-op/market we’d seen Tuesday night – City Market. It was everything we’d hoped for (a cross between Whole Foods and a local co-op) and we picked up bread, deli meat and olives for a picnic on the way home. We hit the road for our first stop at Ben & Jerry’s. Carolyn had been before so my expectations were low and the 30 minute “factory tour” was what I expected. After enjoying a high priced ice cream cone (the sample after the tour was about 2 tablespoons so not enough), I made a tie dye t-shirt, which was lots of fun. After a quick stop at the Cabot Cheese Store, we headed south. We stopped at a nice rest stop in New Hampshire for lunch and other than hitting a bit of rush hour traffic outside of Boston, the ride home was uneventful. It was good to be home.

The only plan for Friday was Cornelia was coming for breakfast, which we’d put together Thursday night so only had to pop in the oven Friday morning with a side of bacon. Cornelia arrived at 9:00 and we were still sitting at the table at 2:00 when Carolyn declared she was hungry and brought out our Cabot cheeses. More eating and chatting ensued, with Carolyn leaving us to walk on the treadmill in the basement mid-afternoon. Bob and Daisy stopped by later and then finally Sharyn and Butch arrived for dinner ~6:30. Our intent was to get take out from Iggy’s (the last must eat on my trip – clamcakes and chowder) and Butch offered to go get it but returned empty handed because there was a festival down at Oakland Beach so he couldn’t get anywhere near the restaurant. We headed out in search of food, ending up at Chello’s, where we waited a bit but finally got our dinner. Other than Butch being cranky when they switched the channel of the bar TV away from the Red Sox/Yankees game, it was a nice night. My last one in RI.

My flight wasn’t leaving until late afternoon so we had some free time on Saturday. I woke up early and immediately packed, fitting 2 totes of Carolyn’s clothes and everything I’d bought (lots of stocking stuffers and food mostly) in my suitcase and the huge duffel Carolyn pulled from the attic. Gotta love Southwest with 2 checked bags free! We puttered away the rest of the day, I packed a lunch and off we went to the airport. It was time to go home. I had a 3 hour layover in Chicago but had my knitting and iPad so was good for the long haul. More uneventful flights, which is all good, and I was home by 12:30 a.m. I had trouble winding down so didn’t fall asleep for a long time but it was good to be home in my own bed.

Sunday was full of unpacking, mowing the 2 week tall lawn and doing laundry. It was over in a flash and it was time to prepare for a normal work week. Even with the Montreal fiasco, it had been a fabulous trip, best RI trip ever I’d say. The mini road trip was a lot of fun and may be the first of many now that Aaron’s older. Next year he’ll be driving! When did that happen. : )