Wednesday, July 28, 2010

And then there was Kate...

Oh Kate... One of the things I have truly loved about living in Poquoson, VA has been being closer to Beth and Kate, who both reside in Richmond now. It's a quick drive up for the weekend and I've always got a place to stay!

Kate found out about that South African Wine Festival going on at a local VA Winery, so we partook in the food, wine and festivities!

The parking lot was right next to the vines...
They love their meat!
Enjoying all the overpriced delectables!
Only at a wine festival...or an O'Connor family reunion (he-he)
Our favorite part was the entertainment!

Carthage, MO...

So much happened in between Munising, MI and Carthage, MO...Here's a quick recap:

Carrie, Ian's wife, was kind enough to put me up for a night while I was en route. She showed me the great haunts of Duluth, MN! She is now living with Ian and working as a vet at an alternative therapy clinic for animals in Hong Kong...and from what I can tell, loving it!

I was also able to visit my Aunt Kat, Uncle Dan, cousin Devon, Great Uncle Jerry and Aunt Ellen and friends Chris and Kate while in Grand Forks, ND...great to be back there, always!

Next stop on the list was good old Dub-C! I always love heading back to my hometown, especially during the spring/summer. My dad was busy working hard as a park ranger at TRNP and giving Memorial Day addresses to honor our veterans. My mom and I played. We had people over for dinner. I watched the last of the kids I used to babysit graduate from HS; all of which impressed me with their levels of maturity! Yes, it was a lovely visit!

I had a stop over in Kansas City, MO to see my one and only. He introduced to "fine" KC cuisine (Backyard BBQ, Gates BBQ, Strands Fried Chicken where I introduced our waitress to the Arnegard Martini...), track ball and walks around the neighborhood!

That brings us to Carthage, MO where I had the privilege of having an extended with Krista, whom I hadn't seen in many years! Krista and I had many adventures and some pretty competitive games of ladder ball! We watched many great movies and cooked even greater meals! Oh, Krista...thank you for such a wonderful time!

Munising, MI...

The other memory that plays so fondly in my mind from that roadtrip was our stop over in Munising, MI. Now I really built this up in my head every since I was in 8th grade, so you can imagine how excited I was knowing I was finally fulfilling my dream of revisiting the area. As it were, it was much less exciting than the memories I had, however, as an adult and with much more time there I was able to explore and create new memories!

The first of which was on the falls trail!

And Sand Point Beach!
The first time I ever had fresh seafood was at this place...The Dogpatch restaurant! They had an all-you-can-eat fresh seafood buffet the day we passed through. I remember being grossed out by having to peel the shells and legs off the shrimp (what do you mean the are real live creatures before I eat them?) however I fell in love with crab legs!

Unfortunately I should have listened to my hotel front desk clerk when she encouraged me NOT to eat at the Dogpatch. It was greasy, bland and smoky...with no seafood buffet. But it was fun going back!
They have so many trails to waterfalls and along the cliffed coastline of Lake Superior, so I took advantage by taking a 4 hour hike!

Though you can never really go back, you can always visit and make new memories!

Mackinac Bridge...

When I was an 8th grader (technically the summer prior), my mom, brothers and I took the northern route back to MI when visiting the family rather than the quicker, but more congested southern route that takes you near Chicago. I have such fond memories of this trip. One of which was crossing the Mackinac Bridge. Though the water was every bit a brilliant blue and beautiful as I remember, I figured it wouldn't be safe to take pictures while I was driving, so you will have to settle for this one from my side mirror!

NY, OH, MI...

So after all the picture taking I did in Europe, I was plum sick of it when I got back to the states, so though I visited alot more people than will be reflected on my blog, I did take some pictures (after getting razzed by Uncle tom).

Before I go on though, I want to give a shout out to Uncle Rory, Aunt Judy, Meagan & Ryan in Williamsville, NY. They were gracious hosts (as were their mammoth dogs) and I very much appreciated their hospitality.

Another HUGE shout out to the Cyrus clan; Aunt Becky, Ashley, Kassie, Shelby, Sami & DJ. I had so much fun getting to know you all again! Teaching and learning...lots of good food was had, lots of great jokes were told!

Here I am with Uncle Tom (in his cabin) and Great Aunt Ruth! She came over for breakfast and unfortunately the waffles I made were less then tasty! Nothing a lot of syrup can't fix though!

Uncle Tom took me out a couple times on the kayaks! I fell in love and can't wait to get my own!
Then he took me to Hell for some ice cream!

I feel pretty special as I made the list of people who Uncle Bruce and Uncle Tom take to the diner! Very important business!
I love my MI relatives. Though I don't get to see you all enough I really appreciate the time you take to make sure I see you when I'm there; Ronnie, Devon, Karl, Uncle Karl, Aunt Margaret, Buddy, Dave & Charlene, Aunt Ruth, Uncle Bruce, Zach, Grandma Marianne and of course, Uncle Tom. Here's a holla to Brad and his lady as well!

Silver Spring...

I was lucky enough to visit my cousin Maura and her two new additions (one more recent than the other...) Gwydion (her husband) and Porter (their son). Gwydion and I got along famously and he's still razzing me to have Chris and I move across the street from them! We are chefs in the kitchen, getting all geeked up about food and different dishes / ideas!

It was wonderful catching up with Maura again as well! As for Porter, well he was 3 weeks old at the time, so he mostly slept. Although I was surprised at how much I noticed his small changes each day I was there! The miracle of life you know!

Monday, July 26, 2010


Not Theron, but my spunky, red 2004 Forrester! I love her! When she's feeling extra spunky she like being called Charlie! I got a great deal and with the awesome patience and negotiations of MILly, I drove her home in less than a day!

Ain't she a beaut!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Last days in Paris...

I was meant to fly out of Paris a week prior to my actual departure date due to the Icelandic Ash Cloud that shut most of European air travel down for weeks.
The day before my departure I decided to walk around the city one last time

Notre Dame from the front...
He is the Bubble Whisperer...

I came upon this and wished my nephews were here, as they would have loved trying this out! I wanted to do it myself, but alas, I am not longer child-sized!

Nothing stops this crowd of tourists....

Goodbye France, Goodbye Europe...Hello Homeland!

Jardin de Luxemburg...

The other garden I found and visited twice was the Garden of Luxembourg. Upon arrival I found everyone was enjoying the sun...avoiding the shade!

I sure do love tulips...
This dog was truly that I review the pictures I see it's not as obvious as it was in person.
Thought of my nephews when I saw they'd love em!

Upon my exit I found that the sun shifted and so did the people!

Jardin de Plantes...

I went out seeking gardens and find them I did!

Cherry blossoms!

Harry Krishna, Harry Krishna...