The time has come to return to Honolulu on the final leg of our most recent epic travel adventure.
For the past three weeks, James and I have had the most incredible series of adventures with some of the best travel companions and friends we could wish for. Our trip kicked off with a one day adventure in NYC with one of my earliest and best childhood friends, Matthew. We explored the #highline and reveled in the gorgeous summer weather. Next stop was London, where we were welcomed to stay at the lovely flat of our favorite British blogger and proverbial “hostess with the mostest” Carla (check out her cool blog Zoubisou). After a truly amazing five day stay in the UK (which will be recapped in an upcoming post), we were off again to Bergen, Norway to rendezvous with our intrepid traveling companions Emily and Pat and received the warmest of welcomes by our favorite Norwegian, Mari. Not only did she open her home to the four of us, but she took on the roles of tour guide, translator, navigator and entertainer! (In traditional Norweigan national attire no less- but that’s a story for another day.) Bergen is a beautiful city and I look forward to sharing our adventures there after I have a chance to process some photos at home to illustrate the stories.
After Bergen, our party of four headed north, flying first to Bødo and then boarding the Hurtigruten MS Løfoten to the magical islands of Løfoten, north of the arctic circle. The awesomeness of our experiences here under the midnight sun are hard to put into words, so I will wait to share more details when the photos can lend some visual punch to my experiences of awe and joy.
After what seemed like the blink of an eye, we were all back in Oslo for our final night before parting ways. James, Pat, Emily and I stayed together sharing laughter, wine and the History Channel’s #vikings until the last possible minute (James and I grabbed the last train of the night from Oslo back to our airport hotel).
A flight from Oslo to Newark and a long overnight layover allowed for one more night with Matthew and his wonderful husband Bobby. We managed a nap and got to sit in on a Mathieu Blue rehearsal for an upcoming performance of his on Monday! It was surreal and wonderful to be a part of the behind-the-scenes with an awesome band and creative team as they launch my best friend’s lifelong dream of performing his original songs (and some rocking covers too) live in New York City. The night wasn’t complete until we grabbed our NYC slices to go and hopped in a cab back to Harlem.
Fast forward to the current moment, and James and I are side by side aboard our #united flight back to Honolulu. I reflect on the past few weeks with a heart full of friends and adventures and can’t wipe the grin off my face. What a trip it’s been. The sharing has just begun my friends, there are stories and memories galore to explore. But first, two more episodes of Vikings, a blanket and a nap are necessary to top it all off.
This February marks an exciting month for Shutter Force Photography. It’s our birthday! James and I started dabbling with the idea of starting a travel and adventure photography company back in 2013, but officially launched our website in February 2014.
We can hardly believe a year’s gone by already. This first year has been all about developing our skills and style (as well as the constant work on confidence). We changed our weekend priorities, setting our alarm clocks pre-dawn to go chase the light around our home island of O’ahu. We plan our activities around sunsets and we have been exploring our backyard like never before. There’s few things more exciting than discovering new locations to shoot that are only a few minutes from your bed! (Hawai’i never ceases to deliver great subject matter! We are incredibly lucky to call it home.)
A Year to Learn & Grow
James traveled to the Big Island in October to learn and shoot with landscape photography magnates Colby Brown and Jay and Varina Patel. While his talent as a landscape artist truly emerged after this workshop, what excites me most is his passion for the craft. He has really taken to post-processing, and he produces work that is very distinctly “James Brogan.” He’s really coming into his own as a photographer and it’s evident in everything from how he sets up to shoot something at a location, to his composition, to his post-processing and then finally, in how he shares it. Speaking of sharing, James has really hit his stride with marketing on Google+. For the first year on G+, sharing rather intermittently, James managed to accumulate just about 1 million views on his profile, and averaged approx. 50-75 likes per post. Then, in January, something magical happened. With one photo, his cool shot of the beach dunes on the Oregon coastline (see below), he managed to pull in over 2,500 “likes” and –get this- saw his profile count jump to FOUR MILLION in THREE DAYS.
Needless to say, we were both freaking out. Since then, he has been stream-rolling along and, as of my earlier check today, his Google+ page has been viewed 14,049,528 times.
It’s been a real delight to grow into photographers together over this past year. We love shooting together, although by now we’ve figured out that we can’t shoot the same subjects anymore. This means we go get coffee together before the sun comes up, we drive to a location together, and then we don’t see much of one another until after the dawn light is zapped and then we come back together to share LCD screens. James is totally a “big picture man.” Landscape shots, often the wider the better. I’m finding my favorite things to shoot are detail, or people, and most definitely animals. However, we do both have a similar obsession with shooting the milky way. We like to watch photography tutorials together. We share inspirational photos with one another daily.
On To 2015
This next year will be a new adventure for us, as we seek to turn our goals toward production, publication and paying gigs. We’re going to be stepping out of our comfort zones and putting ourselves out there like never before. Oh, and we’ll be doing a LOT more shooting. And traveling. Our next location lined up in Colorado in a few weeks for a totally awesome wedding, and we have our sights set on shooting in Norway and London later this year. We’ve still never been to Molokai or Lanai and the Napali coastline hike is still on the bucket list. So here’s to our second year at Shutter Force, and thanks for all the support for our first!
Thank you to Jessica Neubert for her creation of our epic new logo that we are so excited about. She is such a natural talent, and knew exactly what we were looking for!
Thanks to SmugMug for hosting our site for the first year (and kicking off our second), as well as helping us celebrate our first birthday! Thanks for making our photos look gorgeous!
On a recent episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, one of Kimmel’s guests took on role-playing the results of an Expedia poll describing the most annoying airplane passengers you might encounter when traveling. The guest actor was none other than the incomparable Sir Patrick Stewart and the sketch was very entertaining. Kimmel and Stewart shared the caustic characters of Chatty Charlie, Stinky Snacker, Seat Climber, Seat Kicker and Landing Clapper as the most annoying. This sketch got me thinking. If I were to compose my own list of annoying personalities, who would make the cut? This post features my breakdown of several special characters unfortunately encountered during my many hours spent airborne. I encourage you to check out the video here to watch Sir Patrick expertly nail the five listed above, and do read on for my particular brand of annoying passenger behavior.
Meagz’ Six Most Maddening
1. The Window Shade Blinder
We’re up in the air and I’m settling in at last for a little light airplane nap when suddenly “THWACK!” Your brutal handling of the window shade makes me visibly jump from the sound and now the inside of my eyelids are on fire. I’m forced to make my Tom Hanks face, searching for a plane from my deserted beach. It would be great if you would consider whether there might be a blinding ball of gas reflecting off the wing into your neighbor’s eyes before opening, as she is rather fond of keeping her corneas. And go slow. It is not an elastic retractable window shade and therefore should not sound like one. Thanks.
2. The Bad Parent
I’ll be forthcoming and honest, I do not have children of my own. I respect that airplane travel with said offspring could be one of the most challenging experiences for any parent. But there are some parents that are doing it right. They manage to keep their kiddos from kicking the seats in front of them, or tearing up and down the aisles, squawking loudly for attention. Basically, they pay attention. My last flight to Honolulu from Las Vegas featured a lone mother with two children who sat in the middle seat between them. Sporting her massive Beats headphones, she pretty much zoned out while they slammed armrests, worked the window shade incessantly, threw food, bounced the seats all around. Her answer to calming them down? Giving them candy and hand held video games with the sound on. She didn’t care about the sounds driving everyone else mad; she was lost in her freedom bubble, courtesy of Dr. Dre. I don’t expect kids to be the picture of good behavior, but I do expect some serious effort on the part of the parent(s). If I see you trying, you’re off the hook. If you’re wearing Beats and you have hellions; prepared to be loathed by all passengers around you.
3. The Noisy Chewer
One of the categories in the Expedia report was what Kimmel called the Stinky Snacker. I agree that is totally annoying to have smelly food on board. Beef jerky and an onion sandwich, really? However, what’s worse is having to hear it. Channel your mother and close your damn mouth when you chew. Absolutely no talking. If God wanted us to talk and eat at the same time our vocal chords would be in our nasal passages. Clear your gob hole and then we can talk. Swish it down with a beverage and avoid any possible UFOs potentially headed in my general direction.
4. The Ice Chomper
Let’s be clear right now, if the beverage mentioned above is finished, if you start chewing on the remaining ice I will grab the cup from you and hold it menacingly. I don’t quite know what I would do next since I would prefer not to get tackled by an air marshal, but it will be taken, and I will find your dentist and totally tell on you. No one can sleep/read/exist calmly when the Titanic-meets-iceburg re-enactment is on repeat in the seat next to them. Do not ever chew your ice cubes next to me. Or anyone else for that matter. It will make a sane person crazy.
5. The Farter
No one likes to talk about it, but everyone has been the unfortunate recipient of a nasty gassy on a flight before. I believe it could even be a secret factor in contributing to airplane sickness. A fart cloud might happen to you every time you fly. It might even be you creating said cloud. All I ask of The Farter is this: if you know some foods makes you leak out your rear end, don’t eat them on this plane. Bring a little pepto or beano for the long flights. Or a plug. Whatever it takes to keep it to yourself. You might be immune to your own rank stench, but I’m going green back here.
6. The Back-of-the-Plane Line Jumper
We’ve landed. Hooray! The time has come to de-plane. There’s a natural order to this. You allow the rows in front of you to clear out and then it’s your turn. If you have a short layover and you’re desperately trying to make your flight, be a human and communicate with those around you. You’ll advance much faster if you have everyone around you on your team helping you move forward. Don’t be that groaning, toe-tapping, under-breath mumbler that no one likes. And if you announce that “some of us have a flight to catch” to no-one in particular, I will be tempted to pop you in the face with my neck pillow. Stop it. The majority of my flight experiences haven’t featured all these characters at once (praise be), but I have encountered each of them on more than one occasion. Thus, I’ve been driven to develop tactical defenses and management devices for each:
I combat both the chewers and children with earplugs of headphones of my own (not Beats though, sorry Dre), the shade blinder with an eye mask, and the farter with scented hand lotion applied just under the nostrils. The ice chomper gets straight-up-spoken-to. “Please sir/ma’am, I’m having trouble sleeping due to your ice chewing. Will you please refrain? Mahalo.” Lastly, to prevent the line jumper I simply stand up and block the aisle to allow those in my row and beyond their right to exit when their turn arrives.
Or, like one should in any social situation where other people behave less than admirably, I just try to get over them. They make great fodder for storytelling and casual, comfortable complaining, but in the end, that’s all they ever are. There’s no greater feeling when flying to actually sit back, relax and allow yourself to be amazed that a plane is whisking you off to your destination, at 30,000 feet in the air. Annoyances be damned. As comedian Louis C.K. likes to say about the miracle of human flight: “You’re in a chair… in the sky.” Sometimes a little perspective makes nearly every annoyance seem trivial. Except perhaps, chewing ice cubes.
The irony of packing for a trip of epic proportions lies in precisely the lack of stuff you are able to bring with you. Here’s a few tried and true things to bring and tips to travel light from the road less traveled.
1. Dryer sheets (laundry softener sheets)- I read this tip in a Condé Nast Traveler magazine some time back and it is by far the best piece of advice I’ve used for any kind of travel. I’m an olfactory-focused person, and the dread of the dirty-laundry smell permeating throughout my pack was a very real threat the first time I took an extended trip. Slip a few dryer sheets in-between your rolled clothing to keep the whole bag smelling light, lovely and fresh from the line.
2. A few extra large sealable plastic bags – These are terrific for temporary storage of wet swim suits and for encapsulating dirty laundry. Utilize those dryer sheets again and override the laundry smell by putting a sheet in a sealed bag (especially with the socks) and you’ll be delighted at the effectiveness.
3. Face wipes – To clean the dirty city off your skin, or to de-salt after a day at sea; for those times when a sink isn’t to be had. There’s nothing like a fresh face to make you feel instantly revived. Be sure to go green and buy biodegradable ones!
4. Hand sanitizer- Use sparingly; you’re going to want your own immune system functioning at its peak. Go all natural and avoid the alcohol-based kind. Juni Hand Refresher (www.xango.com) is my germ killer of choice: all natural, fresh smelling and moisturizing.
5. Underwear x2- There is nothing more reassuring on a long trip than having a clean pair of underwear close at hand. Just when you think you’ve packed too many pairs of underwear, pack two more. Take out a shirt or two if you need to make room. TRUST ME. You can re-wear a shirt several times, but undies, well, you get it.
6. Sarong – This was the most versatile item I used in my pack. I picked one up early in my trip to Thailand as a cover-up at the beach, but used it countless ways. It doubled as scarf, a blanket, sun protector, a temperature regulating head scarf, a pillowcase, a dress, changing screen and even a towel. I won’t travel without one.
7. E-reader – I am a book lover. The feel, the smell, the look of a real book is irreplaceable to me. I swore for years that I would never go digital. I felt like I would be betraying the books that have shaped my character to do so. And then I was given my Nook for Christmas. Best. Present. Yet. While I will never lose the pleasure of caressing paper pages, my e-book allows me to bring an entire library with me while never adding pounds to my pack. I download free e-books from my local library’s website. I even download guidebooks, maps and language books of the regions I’ll be visiting. Awesome!
8. Small dry bag – It is comforting to be sure your electronics are protected within the contents of your pack. Even if you aren’t traveling by boat or near bodies of water, rain or spilled drinks are the enemy of your camera, phone, e-book, passport, etc.
9. TSA-approved lock – If you lock your pack, TSA is almost guaranteed to break it open and then you’re lock-less on the trip. They’re really cheap but can help you avoid being a sitting duck. Just remember, anyone can cut open the pack, or take the whole thing- the lock is just to prevent you from the simple unzip-and-slip on the train or bus.
10. Baby wipes and small package of toilet paper – It is essential to have a backup plan in case things go awry. Your body might not be used to the food you’ll be eating. Just sayin’.
11. Carabiners- A few of the simple, cheap carabiners (not necessarily the weight-bearing kind) are a neat and useful tool. I use them to hang towels, hang my pack away from the ants in our bungalow, and to attach my muddy shoes to the outside of the pack after a hike in the jungle.
How a Small Misstep Led to Our Biggest Adventure in Wachau
When visiting Vienna, Austria, there is so much to do within the city it is perfectly reasonable to never leave the city limits during your entire stay. Such was the case for the first week of my 10 day trip to Wien, but an itch to see some of the countryside began to tug at the corners of my trip itinerary. My sister Laura is spending a year as an au pair for the lovely Luna in Wien’s 9th district, which brought my parents and I across the Atlantic (and the Pacific for me) to the Imperial city. After experiencing much of Wien’s delights, Laura arranged a day for us outside the city to float the Danube and witness the famed Wachau Valley. An hour’s train ride out of the city brought us to the delightful town of Krems (Krems an der Donau), thought to be one of Austria’s oldest towns. We spent about an hour wandering the streets before our boat’s departure, happily exploring narrow roads and historic houses dating back to the 1500s and before.
Just as we were about to turn back to the Pier, Laura decided to push on just a little further and we stumbled upon an amazing church rising out of the surrounding homes. A steep stairway behind the church led us to an unparalleled lookout across the down and down to the Danube.
Atop the stairs we found a sanctuary, (I’m currently attempting to research its history) a beautiful Christian shrine that just felt hallowed. While circling for the best photo angles, I discovered a small window into the basement that was easily accessible and unbarred. Peering into the dank darkness below, straining my eyes for glimpses of old doors and hidden rooms, I physically recoiled in shock as I discovered the entire space below the church was filled with human remains. Yes, I said human remains, and no, I’m not kidding. Maybe it’s because I’m an American and our history and ancestors pale in comparison to the rest of the world, but I sat in a haze of shock and disbelief at the base of that temple trying to make sense of the bodies laying below. I paid my respects and began to come to terms with the staggering history of the region I knew so little about and continued the trip down the Danube with a renewed sense of respect and regard.
All aboard the MS Prinz Eugen, one of the DDSG Blue Danube sightseeing cruise boats departing from Krems, cruising to Melk and back again. We boarded the ship, certainly a bit dated but in no way uncomfortable, and settled in on the top deck for photos and wonderment gazing. I was shocked to hear loudspeaker announcements in no less than six languages, describing the town of Krems, the monastery across the river and the upcoming town of Dürnstein.
A little back story: when Laura found us the cruise, we were under the impression that the boat docked at each port listed in the itinerary and we had a certain amount of time to explore the town before re-boarding and continuing on. With that foreshadowing, and the understanding that some things get lost in translation, you can come back to the story.
Ahhhh, Dürnstein. Our loudspeaker described to us the historical importance of the incredible remnants of Dürnstein castle overlooking the town and we were giddy with anticipation. Way back in 1192, King Richard the Lionheart (England, in case you aren’t hip with the Kings) was returning to his home country after the conclusion of his crusades and captured by Austrian Duke Leopold the first! He was held captive there until turned over to Emperor Henry VI at Trifels Castle and held for three weeks for an enormous ransom. Needless to say, the Corlin family was rearing at the bit when the boat docked at Dürnstein, and we attempted to communicate with the boat crew about how much time we had to explore. A combination of one of the deck hands telling us in broken English that we could get off but just for a minute and then they were leaving again, the confusion of what exactly this boat tour was about, and the determined focus to get up to that castle was to prove our big downfall. After the four of us rushed across the gangway, looking for a good vantage point to take a picture of the castle, everything went wrong. The boat left. As in, bye, bye, we’re going on to the next stop and oops, you probably shouldn’t have gotten off, you silly Americans. There were a few “wait! what? oh no! this isn’t happening! He said… You’ve got to be kidding! Noooo! I thought you said…” which didn’t take long to peter out as the gravity of the situation settled heavily upon us. Where are we, exactly? And what the heck are we supposed to do now? Then, as if by magic, I see Laura speaking to a kind woman in uniform who’d been at the dock all along. She works for Blue Danube! She’s telling us the next boat is in three hours! She’s… speaking English?! Who is this saintly woman, the only person visible in the vicinity around us, calmly telling us we’re up a creek but there’s another boat due in three hours. Mom starts her fast walk, stop, throw up the hands, walk, stop, exasperated sigh. Laura’s stuck in repeat, we’ll miss our train back to Vienna, we’ll miss our train, we’ll miss our train. Dad’s thinking, hard. I’m frozen, fighting off the little voice inside that’s saying ‘now you’ll have time to go see that castle!’ with the wooden stick of logic and the need to find a solution to help the family. The uniformed saint must have eyed our motley crew and taken pity on us, for at that moment, she decided to save us. “Excuse me, but I actually have two stations and I’m bound for Spitz now. If you come in my car I can take you to the next station, we can beat the boat, and you’ll be back on schedule.” The clouds parted, a shaft of sunshine burst through, right on to our heroine’s face, a choir of angels on high belted a hallelujah and… saved. And just like that, we were packed into a VW golf and racing through the streets of Dürnstein with Elizabeth behind the wheel, narrating as if we were on a tour and all part of the plan.
Flight of the Bumblebee playing faintly in my ears, we roll into the lovely town of Spitz, 40 minutes in front of the boat. Elizabeth’s parting words: “get back on the boat, and stay on it.”
The next 40 minutes we filled at a restaurant directly across from the pier, with a view far up the river to spot our boat long before it arrived. We ordered a bottle of wine (when in Spitz…) and an apricot dessert, since Elizabeth said it’s what Spitz is famous for. The wine was incredible and the dessert… more hallelujahs from on high.
A strudel with apricots, syrup and meringue, I can not put the taste into words. Paid our check, bought a bottle of wine from the gift shop and an apricot jam, ran to the docks, gave Elizabeth the jam and re-boarded the boat, slightly tipsy from the strong wine and adrenaline; laughing into the shocked faces of the Blue Danube crew who were no doubt asking each other “who are these people and how did they get here before us?”
The rest of the tour was full of tears of laughter, a gazillion photos and another bottle of wine imbibed in the on-board restaurant when it started to pour outside. We saw more castles, gorgeous vineyards, clock towers, even a bandits’ lookout on a mountain top rumored to have been a site of torture: unfortunate souls were said to be marched off the edge of the small fort, plunging down the cliffs to their demise. We docked at Melk, the end of our boat trip and the site of the world-famous Melk Abbey.
Our adventure didn’t end here however. We ate the most delicious pizza before climbing up to the Abbey, it was closing and our train was leaving soon so we just had time for a peek. Knowing this, we went in a side door and suddenly it was like time stopped. The inside of the abbey is breathtaking. Time passes. Shoot, what time is it?! Laura: “We have 11 minutes to get back down to the train station.” Here we go again! Cue up the bumblebee music: there go the Corlins! We came sprinting in to the station just in time to take a deep breath and boarded the train back to Wien.
We have never been a boring family. I wouldn’t change a thing about us, or the string of events that made up one of the greatest travel experiences of my life. Sometimes, waylaying your plans (even by accident) can be the surest way to have a real adventure and make the best memories. -Meagz
One of the most surprising and breathtaking towns to stumble upon, Krems an der Donau is a hidden gem in Lower Austria, bordering the Danube and comprising the eastern part of the Wachau Valley.
A departure point for riverboat cruises of the Wachau region; Krems harbors many wonders that emerge with a mix of adventurous wandering and a healthy dose of curiosity. The following fifteen photos toss you into the magic and mystery of Krems and will spur a desire to personally explore one of Austria’s oldest treasures.
Thursday: More butts off at the Works, this time with Laura too! Melissa was tough on the three of us and we were a little nervous for our immediate departure to Connecticut from the gym to board the train for Grand Central in glorious NYC! With plans to stretch it all out on the train we showered and piled in, ready for the most ridiculous 28 hours of the trip to date. Made it to CT, caught the train and dumped out at Grand Central- how fun to finally see the legend! (Strange how many trips to NYC never led me there until now). I have to say, THIS part of the trip, the NYC whirlwind was my surprise gift from Laura-Li and Mumusmurf. Not only did they book the three of us a SUITE at the St. Giles-The Court Hotel (sharp!), but the reason for the trip was a Friday morning appointment at none other than the world’s largest and most famous bridal salon: KLEINFELD’S! (Of TLC’s ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ fame). While getting ready for dinner, the man of hour arrived to meet us: my best friend and creative director Matthew G! We had drinks in the lobby bar downstairs (LEX) then went off to dinner at Rare. Matthew flew off to work at Industry, where he’s the lead bartender. We headed to a convenience store where Laura marched up to the counter and demanded two AA batteries and an Aquafresh (toothpaste). Then it’s off to Industry where the night is a bit of a blur between the crowd, the drinks, the drag show, the shots bought for us by the leading queen in New York, the man from Morocco, ENOUGH!, looking at pictures of the bouncer’s wedding on his phone (Randy’s the best!), faces down in the bed at 2 a.m. with Laura viciously grunting to set the alarm for 8:45 a.m. with a mouthful of feather pillow. I’m surprised the front desk didn’t call to ask us to settle down as we laughed hysterically for goodness-knows how long.
Fast forward 6 hours of sleeping like dead women… to 9 a.m. AWAKE! KLEINFELD’S DAY! Got dolled up and cabbed our way to the grand doorway, the excitement rising to giddy levels as we approached the reception desk. The lobby was crowded with anxious brides and entourages and seating was scarce. Not to worry, it gave me the chance to have a corner vantage point to take in the bridal madness. Before long, my consultant came over and introduced herself and swept us to our room to begin the appointment. There was a certain level of nervousness lurking behind my confident smile when I was introduced to Christiane, my personal dress consultant. I can’t give out too many details about the whole event (James does read these posts after all) but I can say that I am officially a Kleinfeld bride. We had not intended to find the dress of my dreams, just wanted to experience the legend of the world’s largest bridal salon and get swept up in the bridal planning… but I also hadn’t planned on meeting the perfect person to find me the perfect dress. I’ve bought a lot of gowns in my day, and have never been welcomed so warmly and made to feel like my happiness was the only thing that mattered in the whole world. Not just by my team, but everyone in the shop. It didn’t matter that they see 90 appointments a day, they made me feel like I was the only one in their world. I was listened to-really listened to-and Christiane used her skills of finding exactly what I described to her. Not only did she take the time to totally understand my vision of the dress and whole theme of the wedding, she took the time to get to know US, and when I left I felt like we’d been friends for a long time. She told me I was one of the most interesting brides she’d ever met and that I shouldn’t be surprised if I find her lurking in the bushes in St. Lucia during the ceremony. HAH. She won’t need to lurk in the bushes if I just send her an invitation! She made such an impact that we may do just that. I’m sure she’ll be a hoot on the dance floor too, and that’s really what it’s all about anyway. In addition to the true love stuff. Ah, Kleinfeld’s. I would recommend it to any and all and it’s worth the trip to NYC, even if you are only there for 28 hours.
Departed NYC for a long but wonderfully happy ride home, changed out the bag and then it’s straight to the marina at Lake Winnipesaukee for a long overdue weekend of REST. Well, as much rest as one can get when hanging with the redneck yacht club on the WAM’s Gold Coast…
I DID get to sleep late on Sat and Sun and indulged in breakfast ala Scrappy and Chuck (which means an epic omelet bar and even custom-made pancakes for the non-egg eater=me). My incredibly awesome cousins Scott, Michelle (and husband Eric:) and even Mama Peg (my grandmother, but don’t let her hear anyone call her that) arrived for a glorious day on the lake complete with laughter, summer drinks and a Pole-ish Horseshoes tourney. Next time Scotty, we’ll get ’em next time.
Another epic day of boating was the hilarious day spent at Braun Bay, where boat after boat anchor up close to each other and engage in water sports, eating and drinking in the sun all day. It was a very crowded scene and I was exhausted by the revelry and the sun so I laid down on the bow to take a nap. I awoke with a start, thinking it must have been the world’s longest nap because suddenly before my eyes: spring break was in full swing. There were boats blasting thumping beats, girls selling fluorescent Braun Bay t-shirts from floaty rafts and an enormous custom crafted water slide boat. Literally, it was a modified pontoon boat with a bar with bar stools and a giant pool slide perched atop. The throttle was built into the side of the bar and it somehow has a license to drive around Lake Winni. Go figure. Polish horseshoes continued to entertain, groups of guys were doing beer bongs out of a hollowed-out flamingo, and the area around our boat was jammed up with rafts, floating coolers, beer pong tables and scantily clad college-aged party animals. What the heck….? Cabo in New Hampshire? There was little to do… but have a drink and go down the slide! Woohoo!
Wrapped up at the marina and headed home to pack for Vienna. Whoa. It’s a little hard to conceive, but that’s the rundown of my trip for just the first TWO WEEKS. You may have just aged a little if you made it to the end of these four posts, but I’m grateful that you made it through. Maybe you’ll have a better understanding of what I mean when I say the trip was crazy-wonderful-quick. I brought you up to the point of our departure to Europe, but that’s an entirely significant series of posts and I’m going to break that up with some reviews and Great Eight listings. So bless you for following my adventures, and here’s to the next! Love also to all my family and friends that made my time on the mainland such a treasure trove of memories.
Laura and Gary are in the Corlin homestead and we’ve had the fun reunion of family and animals. Tuesday arrives and Mom and I head to the gym to work those butts off, Laura scoots to the dentist and then we reconvene at the house to put on some PanAm faces. Yup, Laura and I donned the fantastic uniforms and jetted over to Concord Airport for a photo shoot with the real PanAm pilot, Miles (captain hat and all!), with Mom working magic behind the lens and Stacy keeping our smiles wide and genuine. Go for liftoff, it’s time to head to Portsmouth for the night.
Catching up with old friends and coworkers at RiRa Portsmouth, Laura and Gary were the talk of the town and the main event upon arrival. We grabbed a few Guinness and Magner’s there after a glorious dinner and killer Yuzu Caipirinhas at Brazo. On our way out, we stopped into Fat Belly’s where we ran into DANIELLE and Laura and I screamed and did some reunion hugging and hopping, to the embarrasment of Danielle’s friends and the Irishman. Good times and good friends in one of the best towns on the planet… made me miss living on the seacoast quite a bit.
Wednesday: back to Boston by way of Newburyport, MA for an adventurous breakfast with the most wonderful Sonja J. Never underestimate the power a short visit with the people you care the most about can have when you miss them so much. Especially the people who never let time or distance come between your friendship. Love you Sonja-hope you’re getting more beans for breakfast! Depart Newburyport for Boston and the very first bridal boutique experience as a bride to be. Priscilla of Boston. Fancy. Stunning. Spendy. Laura and Mom got a little sniffly and we found a few beautiful frocks, but not the proverbial “one.” It was a lovely introduction to what I believed was going to be the most arduous part of planning the wedding… finding the dress.
We rendezvous with Gary who’d gone off to haunt an internet cafe while we went off the girly deep end; jumped back into the car just in time to make a late lunch with Mama Peg and Auntie Peggy at the Irish Rose in Burlington, MA. Got back to NH and then made our return to P-town for laughter on the decks at Poco’s, and back to RiRa for Murphy’s 50th birthday toast at midnight. So much fun with miss Alana traversing memory lane and plotting for the wedding! When did I get any sleep on this trip?? Oh wait, that’s right, I didn’t.
I apologize for the installments, but I need to eat something again, and the Thursday/Friday trip to NYC is a doozy. Stay tuned!
Lunch was fabulous. I mean, why wouldn’t it be when you’re with Jeff Sean?
Picking up where I left off…
New Hampshire: June 21. A whirlwind family and old friend chronicle unravels. Straight away I get to spend two incredible days with my best friend Carolyn who rove all the way from western MA to spend some rainy NH days together catching up and laughing our butts off. Lots of the usual scheming to take over the world, and even some wedding planning too. Speaking of ‘butts off,’ Mom also managed to schedule me in for some team training with her and her awesome personal trainer at the Works in Somersworth and we worked our, you guessed it, butts off. Next up, “a vedding!” Saturday we drove up to Portland, Maine for the gorgeous ceremony and kick-ass reception of my cousin Jeff and his stunning bride Jess. After dancing like mad fools with the Kennedy clan, Mom, Dad and I set off in search of preventative measures in the form of late night pizza. Jeff sent us to Bill’s on Commercial Street and we couldn’t have been happier. Just what the doc ordered! Note: Don’t try to break open a giant chocolate ball with a steak knife. *This went in here so I don’t forget that hilarious episode with Mom and Dad. We stayed the night in the almost certainly haunted (I’ll have to do some research on that) Eastland Park Hotel. My favorite part was the original lift buttons next to the elevators that are no longer functioning. We inadvertently made a gentleman feel very silly who’d been standing there for 5 minutes repeatedly pushing the old buttons to no avail. Oops!
No rest for the weary; we bid farewell to Portland and headed home, only to pack another bag and head up to Lake Winni with the redneck yacht club. And the trip marches on… that night I headed south solo to Boston to meet up with DRiley32 to rehash life, Leroy Jenkins and HP^7.2. Monday I reunited with Elle, Erika and baby Ella at Simmons College, had a yummy lunch at Chipotle and then drove to Scituate to have more playtime with the baby genius. Couldn’t stay too long though, I had to be at Logan Airport at 5 to pick up two very special deliveries. I had one more hug to get before heading to Logan however. A stop in to see B-rent and explore his east coast digs, with just enough time to share a freeze pop, was so good for my soul. We miss you out here Brenty, just in case you haven’t heard us for the past 754,678,946,409th times. Deep breath, time to battle traffic into Logan. About .25 miles from the exit I’m fairly sure my charges flew overhead in that bright red and white Virgin Atlantic awesomeness and I raced to the gate. After an hour driving around Terminal E because of some cross-communication and lack of cell phoneage, I FINALLY get my Laura and Gary hugs! Booshas unite! Then it’s back in the car to go meet the parents at the Lazy Lion in Deerfield, NH for dinner. Are you exhausted just reading all this yet? Quick break for this girl before I launch into the week leading up to 4th of July. If you think things relax a bit, FAT CHANCE. We’ve only just begun.