Monthly Archives: July 2009

Idaho: No (Small) Potatoes

(This review of my trip to Idaho is partly for my notes for our 2010 Fall Meeting, partly my report back to anyone who reads this (cough, Amber, cough), and partly to see how many times I can write “pleasant surprise” in one post.)

So I left last Wednesday afternoon around 6 pm. Anyone who has used Milwaukee’s airport knows you’re not getting anywhere ‘til REALLY late if you don’t leave until 6. But the first flight was on schedule and left me with time to enjoy the best people watching place this side of the rocks on the Summerfest grounds-the TGIFriday’s at the MSP airport. If you sit on their ‘porch’, you have a front row seat to a main artery of the airport tram and a reader board, so lots of people come right up and stop. Needless to say, I saw my requisite three cowboy hats pretty quick.

The second flight was actually a little early and after some wandering around, the shuttle driver found me and led me to Pimp My Ride-Airport Shuttle Version. This thing was sweet! Fine oak paneling…flat screen tvs…waters, sodas, freshly brewed coffee. Good start CdA, good start. By this point in time it was midnight, but I ended up trading business cards with a destination management guy out of Scottsdale and making friends with a pretty Aussie. (Even her cough had the lovely accent. Jealous.)


Even at 12:30 the hotel staff was friendly. My room was beautiful! This sounds so old and lame, but great use of space. They know the view is the big selling point, so they make sure both the bed and the living quarters share it (and the sweet flat-screen rotates on a swivel-thingie on the wall). Even though it was almost 3 my time, I sat out on the porch and enjoyed the beautiful night. People were still out in their boats partying it up.

Next morning woke up to meet with our CSM (convention services manager for those of you still learning the biz). He was an unbelievably nice guy who showed me all around the property and introduced me to the amazing huckleberry in pancake, jam, and lemonade form. Also, we went out to the golf course with the famous floating green which looks even more impressive in person. Fun side note: you can get to the golf course from the resort either by boat or by car. They have boats that leave every 30 minutes for a short 10-minute ride. If I thought the shuttles were nice, well, oh doggies…these boats (little speed boats built for around 8 passengers) cost $250,000 each. We’re traveling in style, my friends! The meeting space is a little generic, but it’s all right on top of each other which will make my job easy. Making up for that was the wine cellar. I’m going to suggest our spouses do a wine tasting in there. It was a room straight out of the best wineries in California…they have to experience it!

I left Chris for the afternoon of exploring on my own, which was started off with a hike of Tubb’s Hill. This 2.2 mile hike (do I sound like the hike pamphlet??) was called easy, but for those of us that live in one story…it took some work. The surroundings were beautiful, and I don’t just mean the military guys out on leave (oh! Tip your waitresses. Try the veal.) I took some great pictures and spent a good portion of time contemplating life and how I’m lucky enough to have this be a part of my job. (More sidenotes: I took a bunch of great pictures…check them out on my facebook, or put a note in the comments if you would like to see.)

I’m not too proud to ignore the fact that I totally got lost on the hill when I thought I was taking a shortcut. Got a little panicky, but went off trail and pretty much ended up in somebody’s backyard. Got back to the room and even got a phone call from a good friend. Gosh, this trip was perfect!

Next up-a little shopping…which was my first disappointment of the trip. Even though the resort is sold out all summer (seriously…all summer…when other hotels are hoping for 75% on the weekends!), the stores closed at 6. When did I go out to shop? 6:05. Figures. Still managed to find a cute wallet at a store that was equal parts boob-shirts and “Jesus is My Homeboy”-wear. I guess the religious side won out though. Even though all the purses were leopard print, the background music was Christian. Interesting mix.

Dinner that night was at the resort’s Asian restaurant. Now, I was all excited because I was told the chef at this place was brought on from my favorite (only?) chain restaurant and told “do P.F. Changs, but 25% better.” The meal was very good, but there must be a patent on P.F. Chang’s lettuce wraps, because these didn’t cause the same crack-like cravings. Though there was the firefighter action in the hotel that night, I decided to pass ($60 was too much to spend, even if it was going to a good cause), so I spent the rest of the night watching the sunset and enjoying the room.

Friday morning I met with our tour director who whisked me away to a bunch of places including a horse corral (good), a mission (decent), and her house (best!) We were only stopping at her house so she could pick up some materials, but she had a pool, volleyball court, and in-ground trampoline in her backyard. I think THAT should be the location for our Friday night activity. One of the other places she took me was the Clark House. As the story goes, Mr. Clark bought the land and brought his wife up on a boat. He told her, “this is yours, do what you wish” and she created this beautiful house with a ton of stunning gardens. As this story typically continues, Mr. and Mrs. Clark lost it all in the depression and a very pleasant, but very stereotypical gentleman bought the house when it was in ruins and fixed it up to a lovely bed and breakfast with lunch at noon and dinner at 6 (“and only with reservations and we don’t deal with dietary requests or food allergies. If you don’t tell me ahead of time, they’ll just have to eat what we provide.”)

Lunch that day was at the CdA Brewery where I had to test out a beer sampler in the name of figuring out what the attendees would like. (Don’t worry, you legal folks…I only had sips. And I don’t think huckleberry beer won out…)

The quick trip ended around 2 when I had to go back to Spokane (only a 40 minute drive away…not bad at all!) where I promptly found out I was going to miss my second flight. Yup. Turns out I missed it by 6 minutes. 6. Minutes. Ugh. I was given the option to stay in Salt Lake City for the night and most of the next day, which I originally took. Delta was paying for the hotel room, so why not? Well, I’ll tell ya. Cuz Salt Lake City doesn’t have much to do if you don’t have a car. I went to dinner at a place recommended by a friend and after receiving crap service by both cabbies and the restaurant staff, I decided to call Delta and be put on a red-eye. I got on, but I had to go to the airport at 10pm, when the flight left at 12:50. Right before the plane left, I officially become one of those schmoos who owns a neck pillows. Seriously…your level of d-baggery goes up if you own one. Well, I’m amongst those ranks now. (And I’m also amongst the ranks of those with a permanent crick in the neck…that thing didn’t work!) I finished off my square trip around the country by this quick jaunt to Atlanta. I spent two hours in that airport doing my best to look homeless (sleeping on the floor in a quiet corner, with my arm through my purse strap and using my summer scarf as a blankie…at least I had the stupid neck pillow to keep my head off the cootie-filled floor.)

I finally got to Milwaukee at 9:30 am Central time (who knows what time zone my body was in by that time). I slept until 1, laid on the couch until 3 and after a quick jaunt to the gym and the grocery store was back in bed by 8.

So all in all, I paid for it in the end, but was so pleasantly surprised by my trip to Idaho. I will definitely go back on my own vacation time and would recommend it to anyone. It had something for all interests-outdoors stuff, shopping, good food. Who woulda thunk it, but consider me a fan, Idaho!


Jumbo Shrimp

So I wanted to show y’all that I really am an oxymoron by just giving you a list of the items I purchased this weekend. Then I spent yesterday’s death march thinking about my ultimate workout playlist, which is just as odd. So for those that didn’t believe I really am that random…
Weekend’s Purchases:
-Running shoes that were perfectly crafted for my feet…my first pair of Chuck Taylors…and so-trendy-it-hurts, no-really they hurt, Greek sandals
-A beautiful sweater that cost enough I actually thought twice…and three pairs of cheapy earrings, two rings, and a necklace that cost a grand total of $20
-Department store make-up…and do-it-yourself hair dye
-A beautifully tailored, classic trench coat…in denim material

My Ultimate Playlist-Now I appreciate this is where secret obsessions with Brittany Spears or Color Me Badd are supposed to come out. I wish I was that normal.
-“Daddy Sang Bass” Johnny Cash
-“Do You Hear the People Sing” Les Mesirables cast
-“Madonna’s Like a Prayer” covered by Rufio
-“You Raise Me Up” Josh Groban
-“Song of the South” Alabama
-“Do the Jane Fonda” Mickey Avalon
-“Wide Open Spaces” Dixie Chix
-“American Girl” Tom Petty
-“Babylon” David Gray
-“When You Look Me in the Eyes” Jonas Brothers (ok, here’s my guilty pleasure)
-“Mr. Brightside” The Killers
-“Twisted” NKOTB
-“Tonight” New Kids on the Block (Yes, they get two mentions since they’re under two names.)
-“Jackie Wilson Said” Van Morrison
-“Turn the Page” Metallica
-“(You’re The) Devil in Disguise” Elvis
-“Fat Bottomed Girls” Queen
-“Say Goodbye” Dave Matthews Band
-Any song from Ka, a Cirque de Soliel production
-“La Grange” ZZ Top

Interesting…there’s only one mention of lady singers. Consciously, I thought I preferred guys (in all facets of things that make my life enjoyable, thank you very much), but I didn’t realize there was fact to base that on.

And speaking of dudes (because it is impossible to post a message without a mention of The Hunt or the first guy in my life), when I got really bored at mile marker 2.25 and still had .25 to go (yah me!), I started thinking about guys and how random those selections are. But you know what? Short of the standards like Ben Affleck and the dude that plays Dan Humphrey, I discovered I do have a type that I crush on. I like the dorky types with a goofy smile and a propensity for big words.
Chandler Bing (nope, not Matthew Perry (though he’s cute, too…please see #2), but Chandler Bing)
Bradley Whitford (yes, I believe this show was everything that could be good about tv, but your standard average viewer is just too stupid to get Aaron Sorkin)
-and this guy (p.s. there’s a good chance this guy thinks I’m a wacknut…In case he finds his way here, could you please put a good reference in the comments section? Thanks…I’ll pay you later.)

So it looks like I do take after my dad (ah…damn…two drinks when she says “my dad”)…i.e. I like me some crazy, random stuff after all.

I Have a Strict Policy That Nobody Cries Alone in My Presence

Confessions of a Pioneer Woman

I love that web site. I can see what its like to be real cowboys (and girls!), enjoy awesome food pictures, and read a romantic story that gives us all hope in true love. But its the posts like the one she just put up that make me really like Ree.

Haven’t we all been there? We find ourselves in the middle of a big group where everyone is laughing and talking and learning and eating and celebrating life when we really could be at home in bed with a bottle of cheap wine and a gallon of ice cream and no one would wonder why. I’ve got my girls who have lost babies, parents, grandparents, pets. I’ve got my girls with clinically crazy parents, in loveless relationships, or who are facing death themselves. I’ve got my girls who simply have reached a dead end yet spend every damn day throwing their whole body on that locked door to try to make it budge. We could all sit around and be mopey, but instead we spend time together and (hopefully) appreciate the joys we bring to each other. Man, I love my girlfriends.

Last week, my unofficial counselor gave me permission to be sad and take time with losing my dad, a best friend. All of a sudden it was as if a weight was lifted off my shoulders. No, I’m not going to quit living my life, but I don’t need to be 100% ok with everything and get on with it already. How could such an easy concept have slipped by me? I didn’t spend 29 years building a relationship just to be able to say, “ok..that’s done. Next!” I will find solace in the arms of those that do surround me, but every now and then retreat to my memories of pop and the support that gives me, too.

Have I told you that I’m a lucky girl? Cuz, you know what? I am!

It’s Like The Opposite of Going Out With A Bang

So we had discussed calling this week’s episode (You know I live in a sitcom, right? How else can you explain all these weird plot twists and the great soundtrack?) “Fireworks”, but I think I’d go back to Editing and rename it “Sparklers”. Let me explain…

You know how you get all excited when its sparkler time? It only happens once a year. Sure, you can light up a sparkler whenever you want (assuming there are no cops watching), but it is only the Fourth of July weekend when it really fits, so the buildup is extreme. You anticipate lighting it and when you do…Boom boom pow, you’ve got a big flash of light. You’re holding fire right there in your hand! Even better, you can run around the yard and dance with it. Spell your name and be stupid. It fades out a little bit, but shake it a new way and you get a few more seconds of fun. And then poof…its dead. Time for a new one!

So my weekend was a sparkler. I was SO excited for Thursday Night Fun Night with B. She had some people she wanted to meet up with at Summerfest. Her friends are always fun and the spirit in downtown was high that night. Started the night with the first draft of many, my SF favorite-fried eggplant, and a free M&M ice cream treat. Really, does life get any better than this?

Heck yes it does! At this point we stumbled into some of B’s friends who are always a ton of fun and bonus, included a cute guy I met last year. So we’re chatting away and then, the new love of my life came trotting by!!! And cute guy took me over to talk to him!! I don’t think I embarrassed myself too much (hard to do when you don’t actually say anything…), but I was totally star struck the rest of the night. Seriously…who puts a local anchor man on her top 5 list? THIS GIRL!

So, getting back to cute guy…B and I ended up hanging out with that group the rest of the night, including a visit to Flannery’s and a Purple Pony. I became socially awkward when all 400 people in the group (ok, maybe like 3) turned us into a combination of 5th grade and the scene in Grease when Danny and Sandy meet after the bonfire. I.E. Everybody kept asking “do you think he’s cute, cuz he thinks you are” and then watching with Go Go Gadget eyes and ears whenever I could untie the tongue long enough to actually spit out a sentence. Moral of the story-trying to get two really shy people to talk to each other, especially while being watched is kinda hard to do. BUT-the background music was awesome, the drinks were tasty and the invite to go out on a boat for wakeboarding the next day was forthcoming. Sweet.

I woke up the next morning and took Noah for a walk and everyone was so dang happy! The mailman gave Noah a cookie. An old guy who looked like Morgan Freeman who was cutting his grass stopped the lawnmower and gave us a “good morning Miss, that’s a fine looking dog you got there,” complete with a tip of a nonexistent hat. A cute kid on a bike stopped to pet Noah and a group of people who were packing up for a camping trip stopped us for a little bit of conversation. Seriously, were we in an Old Time Lemonade commercial?

In the afternoon, B and I joined her friends out on a boat where the game of cat and mouse (or toocan and squirrel as the case may be) continued. It was a great afternoon out in the water watching these guys do amazing tricks on the wakeboard (and proved that cute guy is even more impressive than originally thought, wow). But I was getting equal pressure to talk to cute guy and pee in the lake if I really had to go. Needless to say, it was pretty impossible to do either when being watched. B and I both had places to be, so we left ‘em with a promise that we’d catch up when we were all down at Summerfest that night.

I met C downtown and started the night at a bbq, where I was introduced to hamburger perfection (cream cheese on your burger…seriously, try it out…yum!). C and I then went to the SF grounds where we ended up hanging out with a couple of acquaintances that turned into friends, listened to Train, and took pictures of all the people who must live under rocks the rest of the year. Never heard from the herd. Boo. A perfectly good night, but nowhere close to Thursday.

So yesterday morning, after a few hours on the couch and a couple gallons of water, I finally made it down to a new friend’s house for a little hanging out time where I tried out Horny Goat beer (yum!) and Noah made friends with two pugs and two dachshunds. It’s not often he gets to be the big man on campus! Then it was time for the annual St. Francis vs. Cudahy Dueling Fireworks challenge. Great show (Cudahy won by a landslide). Freezing cold down by the lake, but a pleasant evening.

I’ve got one day left on this long weekend. A couple options for things to do, but I really should focus some attention on the lawn, car, and laundry. Fizzle…fizzle…fizzle…

Guess it means it’s time to start lighting up the next sparkler! On deck this week, dinner at one of my favs, another Brewers game, Bastille Days, and (hopefully) Fish Fry and a Flick. Ah…I love Milwaukee summers.

Give Me A Buzz If You Getta Chance…

Back story 1: Mom had told me she was going to Sprint yesterday to turn in her phone and have it exchanged for dad’s.

Back story 2: I have both cell phone numbers and their home number listed as “ice Mom and Dad”

So I wake up at 6:30 and check my phone…There was a missed call from “ice Mom and Dad” at 5:33 with a voicemail. Oh no, I thought! Mom was having a bad night and I missed helping her. I listened to the voicemail, and since it was Sprint-to-Sprint, it gave me the name vs. the telephone number… I.E. First human voice I heard this morning said “Mark Skarich” in Mark Skarich’s recorded voice. There was a good 6 second message that sounded like someone was fumbling around with the phone, no words.

I figured two things: 1. if mom did have a bad morning, she may be back in bed, so I’ll wait ’til later to call her. 2. what probably happened was that she was just messing around with the phone learning how to use it and accidentally called me.

So I waited until 9:30 to call her.

Me: “Hey mom, did you call me this morning?”
Mom: “No, I finally slept great and didn’t wake up until you called dad’s cell at 8:30. Why did you call there?”
Me: “Wait, “dad’s cell”? You didn’t make it yours?”
Mom: “No, I got a model like his, but his was worn out. I brought his home to get the numbers out of it, but plan on throwing it away after that.”

So, moral of the story…dad called both me and mom this morning. Happy shivers…

He must have been out for an early morning delivery of Fastenal to the contractors in heaven.

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