3 Mountains in 3 Days!

 

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Sally Strawberry, Penny Pineapple, and me (Jules Strawberry).  Hook ‘Em Horns!

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“Mom’s stripping, it’s fine,” Sally said to Penny.

I had stopped to unzip the lower half of my hiking pants, to convert them to shorts.  Penny had asked why we were stopping.

“That’s my daughter!” I said of Sally to Penny, showing her what I was doing, and that I was not, in fact, removing all of my clothes.

***

“Hike!” Sally responded when I asked what she wanted to do while she was here.

And so we did.

Sally Strawberry and Penny Pineapple came to visit last weekend, the second time since I’ve moved to California.  We hiked last time, too, but Blacks Mountain wasn’t very memorable.  And since we’re not beach people, our December trip to La Jolla was enough to keep Sally satisfied for a year or so.

We hiked Cowles to get a view of San Diego, and Sally said, “I’d rather see mountains than city.”

So I answered, “We’re going to Iron Mountain tomorrow.  It’s about the same level of difficulty and has great views.”

The next day, as we were huffing and puffing up Iron Mountain, Sally informed me, “This is harder than Cowles.”

“Oh, I guess if I can hike it, I figure it’s about the same,” I responded.

The view from Iron pleased my little girl, and Penny didn’t scowl too much (she’s not as into hiking as we are), so I figured it was a good hike.  At the bottom of the mountain, I had extra energy, so sprinted a few feet and back again, passing a road runner.  Meemeep!

Penny was looking like she was at the end of her energy reserves.  You know, kinda like a zombie, who keeps forcing one foot in front of another, determined to go on.  She didn’t argue when I offered to get the car and pull it around, saving her from walking 40 feet.

In the car on the way home, Sally asked me, “Should we serve enchiladas at your funeral?”

The question wasn’t totally out of left field.  That is, we’ve discussed my funeral before, when I told her that I wanted her to play, “One less problem without you,” by Ariana Grande.  I’ve always wanted more of an Irish wake then a tear jerker.

“That’s more of Mom’s thing,” I replied, referring to my mother, who passed in 2008.  She ate enchiladas almost every day.  She’d cook a large casserole dish of them and then eat one for lunch with a pile of chips and queso.  “Maybe gluten free pizza?”

“I’ll have to practice,” Sally said, referring to the family recipe that Mom perfected when she wasn’t cooking TexMex.  Of course, Mom’s version was full of gluten, so the recipe needs to be modified.

I laughed.  While we had been discussing my funeral arrangements, AC/DC’s Highway to Hell came on the radio.  “Is this a sign?” I asked.

Sally laughed.  “A warning!” she said.

On the third day, I took them to Mount Woodson so that we could get pictures on the famous Potato Chip Rock.  By “we” I mean “them,” of course.  I’m an engineer; I know that cantilevered beams will break after cyclic loads are placed on them.  The only question is, “when.”  And after seeing families of 4 and 5 people pose on the rock, and others jump on it, I avoided stepping onto it myself.  As in, hell to the no, I’m not getting on that thing!

The climb up Woodson was a lot longer than I remembered.  Like I said, if I can climb it, I figure it’s a good hike, but moderate.  The number of hours to hike or miles don’t register with me as much.

Two and a half hours later, when we reached Potato Chip Rock, I wondered if Penny would ever go hiking with me again.  She was breathing hard, sweating, and moving rather slowly.

Thankfully, standing in line to take a picture on Potato Chip Rock gave us time to catch our breaths.  We waited while an 8-year-old boy and his 13-year-old sister climbed up and posed for their parents.  Then we waited while their mother joined them and more pictures were taken.  And we waited some more while the father showed a nice stranger how to work the drone that he had brought (a quad copter), so that he could jump in the picture.  And they posed in several different poses.  FINALLY they declared themselves done and scrambled off the rock.

Then we waited while the next family did the same.  Damn.  Thing.  Except, everyone in that family wanted a picture of themselves alone on the rock, jumping, before they gathered as a family.  All the while, their little dog yipped and yapped, not liking all the strangers standing around him.  I may have told it to be quiet or shut up once or twice.

Really, people, if there’s a line, then take one or two pics and get off.  #Impatient #WTF #BeConsiderate

FINALLY it was our turn.  Sally and Penny climbed up as quickly as they could and sat on the edge of the rock.  They did not jump, and held only that pose while I snapped close up and wide angle shots.  One kiss, another pic, and down they came.  #ThatsHowItShouldBe #ShortAndSweet

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The climb down the mountain went more quickly than the climb up.  After all, the hardest part was behind us, we were refreshed, and there was the promise of air conditioning and a shower at the end.

“I’m starving,” Penny confided.  “Should have brought some cashews or something.”  The dried apple chips just weren’t enough for this 7.5 mile trail.

As we stumbled to the car, at the very end of this 4.5 hour hike, I thought, “They’re never coming hiking with me again.”

But then Sally said, “WE DID IT!” and I smiled.

We actually did more than *just* hike.  We shopped for Sally’s first professional business suit.  When we found out that Banana Republic was having a 50% sale, the clothes piled up, and we ended up buying Sally an entire wardrobe.  Then we found out that she could get an extra 20% off by signing up for a store credit card.  DONE!

One night, we met my friends Heather and Scott for dinner.  Sally loved them!

Scott’s first reaction to finding out that she’s an astrophysicist was to tease her, “Are you going to go after the really hard stuff, like Dark Matter?”

Her answer was, “YES THAT’S WHAT I DO!”

Then they were off on a nerd tangent that even I couldn’t follow.

Heather was equally charming and I think Sally was ready to move in with them.  “Can I invite them to my wedding on the beach next year?” she asked.

Wow.  After one meeting.

Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised, my friends are pretty darn amazing.

On Monday night, we had dinner with another friend, who was also named Heather.  When I first introduced Heather to Heather, I laughed and said, “I feel the need to watch the movie Heathers again!”

Since they are both a tad younger than me, and the movie with Winona Ryder and Christian Slader came out in 1988, I had to explain my comment.  “It’s a dark comedy about the popular girls and one other girl—Winona’s character—and how hard high school can be.”

“Oh!  It’s like Mean Girls!” Heather said.

“Ummmm…kinda?” I responded.  “But darker.  Christian Slader’s character is a bit like Johnny from the Breakfast Club, but darker.”  How does one explain Heathers without giving away the plot?

I scheduled a movie night at my house to watch it.  We laughed at the wacky plot and the 80’s fashion.

“Colored tights?!  I thought that was for children!” Heather exclaimed.

“The shoulder pads!” I said.

We’ve been fast friends ever since.  Nothing like bonding over old movies with retro fashion and homicidal plots.

Her last initial happens to be “S,” so I told Sally, “To keep them straight, remember that Heather S is Single.  Heather P is married.”

I felt a little bad assigning that label to Heather, since she is a beautiful, intelligent woman who may find a nice guy any day now.  But then I remembered that my last initial is also S, and I’m single too!  Doh.

We got on the subject of health, and Sally said, “My doctor told me that I need to take Vitamin D, since I’m not getting any.”  Her smile and reference to her lesbian lifestyle made it clear that this was an innuendo and the “D” stood for… “Dude.”  Yes, Dude.  We’re going with that.

Heather blushed and said, “I don’t take pills, I take my Vitamin D straight!”

WELL THEN!  I’m glad that my children are adults, so that we can have conversations like this.

Cheers!

P.S. My next post will be about Country dancing in California.  Yes, there are honky tonks in Cali, and I’ll compare one to Billy Bob’s.

P.S.S. As always, follow me on Instagram (jules_rules_strawberry) or Facebook for more pics!  And I tweet occasionally, too (@JulesSBerry)!

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Sally Strawberry, Explorer, Conquerer of Mountains

 

Californication

 

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View from my balcony early one morning

San Diego, California, has been my home for three months now.  I can hardly believe it!  I’ve done more in that time than some people do in years, because I feel like every weekend is a vacation.  My hardest decision has been, do I go to the beach, or hike a mountain?!

Here are some of the places I’ve been:

  • Torrey Pines State Park is famous for its view of the ocean. I scrambled down a steep path (I would say, “hiked,” but I wasn’t that graceful) to the water.  Still, I wasn’t impressed.  Sorry, California, but it was just a walk, which I can do anywhere.
  • Black Mountain was better. Sally & Penny joined me for this one, back in December.
  • Iron Mountain was better still! I’m hitting it again today, because it kicked my ass last time.  In a good way.
  • Woodson Mountain was another good hike.
  • Little Italy, a neighborhood in downtown, was my home for two months. The food was superb and I love how walk-able the area is!  The farmer’s market on Cedar Street is open every Saturday; if you get a chance, go!  Buy some fresh fish or a tie-dyed shirt.  Or maybe some beef jerky.
  • Gas Lamp District is a famous neighborhood downtown. It’s full of clubs and bars; I visited during the day and said, “Reminds me of Austin’s 6th
  • La Jolla has some beautiful beaches. And sea lions.  And a Dr. Suess Museum!  It’s a magical place.
    • I took Gary Mathews there and he didn’t want to leave. I spent 20 minutes pushing him into his rental car.
  • Los Angeles is a two-hour drive, so I visited it, too. It’s crowded, dirty, and the beaches aren’t as nice.
    • Walking around the neighborhood checking out the area, a nice old man approached me. He was well dressed with a friendly smile, so I thought it was nice when hugged me and said that I was perfect.  “Oh, your boyfriend is so blessed to have you!  If you have one, that is,” he told me, then proceeded to kiss my neck.  Seriously, two seconds after I met him, he’s sexually assaulting me on the street, on a Sunday afternoon, in broad daylight.  THAT’S L.A.
    • Exception: my darling, talented, beautiful friend Amy Arrow lives there. She’s an artist actor and an amazing person.  If you ever get to see her in a movie or in person, do it!
  • Fashion Valley is a huge mall. One of my friends invited me to go shop there; I was so excited that a handsome man wanted my opinion on his pants, that I jumped at the chance.  After sitting in traffic, then circling the parking lot for 20 minutes, I realized that it was Christmas Eve.  DOH!
    • The mall is open air, which means that shoppers walk on the sidewalk outside to get to the stores. Why?  Because the weather here is so perfect so much of the time that you don’t need a roof over your head!
    • We saw “Rogue One” at the theater there. Although I hated the ending (he said that it fit), the movie was awesome!

As beautiful as it is here, it is definitely not Texas.  As I said in my last post, people don’t greet each other here like they do back home.  However, once I get a person talking, they are just as nice as anyone from the South.  It became a game to me, to see how many people I can get to smile and say, “Hi,” in the hall at work.  More and more are coming around.  My first week here, I made some new friends, and invited Heather and Heather over to watch the movie, “Heathers” (Winona Ryder and Christian Slader, 1998).

I visited Dallas a couple of weeks ago and saw as many friends as possible: Allie Apple, my sister & nieces, Elizabeth & Daniel & their darling children, Therese, Gabby Gumbo, and Andrew.  Each one is precious to me.  Visiting them was visiting home; spending time with them was like a shower to my soul.

Allie and I went to Billy Bob’s Texas, the World’s Largest Honky Tonk, in Fort Worth.  I’ve two-stepped there since I was 18 years old, and visiting it was like stepping back in time.  Yee haw!  (The cowboys are just as handsome as ever, only now they look so young !)

Next blog post: the guys I’ve met since I got here.  Peeps be cray cray!

Cheers!

PS For more pics, follow me on Instagram (jules_strawberry_rules) or Facebook (Jules Strawberry).  I also tweet, though not as often (JulesSberry).

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CA doesn’t allow as many billboards by the highway, so the views are spectacular!

 

 

Zion Vacation Summary

 

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“We hiked all the way up here, to Angel’s Landing, 1,488 feet,” Corvus tells me.  “That’s where we couldn’t walk any more, and had to use the chain to climb up the rocks.”

Standing at the Visitor Center looking at a topological map of Zion National Park, I almost fainted.  “I definitely got further than I expected, and if you had shown me this map before we went up, I wouldn’t have done it!” I tell him.  “Still, it was fun.  I put to use some of the moves that I learned rock climbing in the gym.”

Sally and I packed A LOT into our one week vacation, including:

One of my good friends has two wolves in a small town south of Dallas, so I took Sally to meet them today.  She LOVED the experience!  Personally, I think they look like big dogs.

I have about a hundred pictures, but Corvus has about a thousand.  Here are just a few.  WOW, looks like we’ve been photoshopped into post cards!  What an amazing adventure!

I managed to prank Sally, but not very well.  She had bought me a dog toy that crinkles, like it has a plastic bag inside.  “Crinkle crinkle” is an old private joke from our Grand Canyon Road Trip (2012), which I could explain but it wouldn’t make sense—it’s one of those “You Had To Be There” jokes.  Anywho, she had given me the dog toy as a gag gift about a month ago.  So I took it to Utah, put it under her pillow, and waited for her to lean back.

Instead, she picked up her pillow to move it.  Who the hell does that?!  Sheesh!  But the dog toy still had the desired effect: she looked at me with wide eyes and laughed hysterically.  We spent several minutes having our usual conversation (again, I could explain it, but…):

“CRINKLE CRINKLE!” she says.

“Yo face!” I say.

“Crinkle!” she says.

“Yo mama!” I tell her.  This makes very little sense when a mother says it to her daughter, which makes us crack up laughing.  And THIS is just one more reason that I love traveling with my little girl: we make each other laugh.

Corvus stopped trying to understand us, and just sat back and smiled.

I explained one conversation by telling him, “I’ve dated a few different guys named Mike: a workaholic, a plumber, a mayor…”

Corvus said, “You need to make this into a rhyme, like ‘This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home.’  Instead, you’ve have, ‘This little Mikey was a workaholic, this little Mikey fixed toilets.  This little Mikey was a mayor, this little Mikey…’”

I DIED laughing.  I’ll finish that fine poetry and post it another day.

Cheers!

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Seeing this picture, I think, “I’m a badass!” and then follow that up with, “What the hell was I thinking?!  I could have slipped and died!!” followed by, “Damn, my ass looks GREAT!”

Zion, Bryce, and Las Vegas

“HOW CAN YOU GO ON A VACATION WITHOUT ME?!” Sally Ann tells over the phone.  She’s reacting to the news that I’m going on vacation the first week of May with Corvus Tomatillo to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks.  I’m told that you can point your camera in any direction and get a gorgeous picture at either location; a quick Google search for images confirms it.  Utah is gorgeous!

I am shocked.  “You went to Utah with your brother Kenny,” I say, referring to Sally’s brother.  That’s her father’s son by his first wife; I don’t like the term, “half-brother.”  Family is family, all the way; there’s no half-way about it.  (I feel the same way about “step” relatives.)

“Yes but we didn’t get all the way to ZION!!!  Or BRYCE!!!” Sally says.  “And we have a pinky promise that we’ll go on vacations together, and you said that you weren’t taking a vacation this year!”

More accurately, we had promised to go on one vacation a year together.  We’re attending a family reunion in Oklahoma together in October, which we discussed being our trip for 2016.  She had gone to Utah without me last year, so I thought that I could go to Utah without her this year.  Obviously, I was wrong.  “You’ll be in school in May, and I REALLY need a vacation.  I’m finishing up a project at work, so it’ll be the perfect time for me to get away,” I answer.

“My last final is May 16th!!  If you wait just two weeks, I could GO WITH YOU!” she whines.

“Ok, ok, I’ll change the dates!” I tell her.  “I love you.  Talk to you soon.”

I contact my travel companion, Corvus Tomatillo.  He’s an electrical engineer and a geologist, but most importantly, he’s a well-experienced hiker.  His expertise makes me look a newbie, and he can name the rocks that we see.  In short, he’s the perfect hiking buddy.

“Corvus, hear me out.  Sally wants to go with us, so can we change the dates of our vacation from May 2 to after May 16?  I mean, if we can’t, that’s fine, I still want to go, but if can, then she can join us, and that would be great.  What do you think?” I asked him.

“Let me call the hotel and see.  I’ll let you know,” he says.

“Ok great.  Thank you!” I say.  Within minutes he forwards me a new confirmation email from the hotel, showing that the new dates for our vacay are May 16 to 21.

About an hour later, it hits me.  “The first question should have been, ‘Can Sally join us?’” I text him.

“Yes, it should have been : – )” he answers.

“Sorry!  Please forgive me!” I say.

“Already done : – )” he replies.

Whew.  Thank God for good friends; good, forgiving friends!  Especially ones who like my daughter!  We’d traveled together before, when Sally and I visited Grand Canyon (2013).  Corvus made me gluten free gumbo, which we ate while looking out over the canyon.  The next day, we visited an observatory together and gazed at the stars.   What great memories!

I text Sally, “Ok, changed the trip to May 16 to 21.  Paid $200 change fee on my flight.  There isn’t a direct flight from Austin to LV, so you’ll have to come to Dallas and fly out of DFW with me.”

“What, you changed your flight?  I’ll have to check and see if I can get off work those days,” she texted back.

Oh.  My.  God.  If I paid $200 and made Corvus change the hotel reservations and then she can’t go, I WILL be pissed.

Two days and several texts later, she finally said, “I don’t want you to book a flight, then have to change it if I can’t go.  I mean, I’m fairly certain that my boss with let me take the time off.  Ok, someone said that I need to live more.  Have more fun.  Ok, I’ll go.  Buy my plane ticket.”

I’m fairly sure that she was hyper ventilating or having some form of an anxiety attack.  I think that MAYBE college is stressing her out (understatement of the decade).  She’s usually too mature for temper tantrums.

Later, I send her the flight confirmation.  We’re flying into Las Vegas and Corvus, who lives in northern Arizona, is picking up there, an hour and a half from Zion.  This plan makes more sense than us flying into Tucson and riding with him for many more hours.

“Can we visit M&M World?  I remember that you bought me a t-shirt and necklace from there when you went to Vegas for work,” Sally asks.

“Sure, we can spend a couple of hours walking the strip in Vegas before Corvus picks us up,” I tell her.

“Yay!” she answers.

“VEGAS!” I answer.

And so, the trip will be epic: Las Vegas.  Zion National Park.  Bryce Canyon National Park.  Hiking, good friends, and great conversation.

And hopefully, no temper tantrums!

Cheers!

P.S. I am wrapped around her finger.  I know that I shouldn’t encourage kids by giving in to their bad behavior.  However, I also know that Sally is stressed out right now, and I really do have more fun when she’s with me, so I was happy to change the dates.  It’s only two months away.  It’s only two months away.  It’s only…hey, she’s not the only one who’s stressed!  Cheers!

P.S.S. Pics are from our 2013 Grand Canyon Road Trip Adventure.

P.S.S.S. HIMYF Chapter 12, “1 Tequila, 2 Tequila, 3 Tequila, FLOOR!” will be posted tomorrow.  With just 20 chapters, we’re over halfway through, and it just keeps getting more romantic <3.

The Mostly Good Second Date

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“He’s great, but…” I said.  I was telling my best friend about my second date with Doug.

“Uh oh,” Naughty Nadia said.  “Are you nit picking again?”

“Is it nit picking to say that he was 22 minutes late?” I asked.  “Keep in mind that he chose the time and place.”

“Shit, I’d be upset about that,” Nadia said.  “Why did you stick around that long?”

“For one, he texted me at 10 minutes before we were supposed to meet, to say that he would be late,” I began.  “He was getting a car wash.  Does a car wash really take 30 minutes?  And if chose the time, why didn’t he leave work earlier?  Or ask me to meet him later?  I hate waiting!”

Nadia laughed; whether at my irritated face or at my torrent of questions, I’m not sure.  She said, “Did you ask him that?”

“He just said that it was Wednesday, so half-price car wash day,” I said, and shrugged.  “He could barely see out of his windshield, he said.  Whatever.  So, the other reason that I waited for him, was that I was at a park.  I played on the swings, climbed the playground equipment, and did Yoga.  I was happy.”

Nadia burst out laughing again.  “Let me get this straight.  While you were waiting for your date, you did yoga in the park?”

“Ya.  The playground area is kinda secluded behind some trees, and I was the only one there, so I did some downward facing dog, cobra, and such.  It was relaxing,” I answered.

That’s why you didn’t go ballistic on his ass for being late!” Nadia said with an “Ah-Ha” quality to her voice.

“Maybe,” I said.  “Don’t under estimate the therapeutic power of swings and yoga!”

“Point taken.  Was that his only mistake?” she asked.

“Well, he also waited until 2 p.m. to decide what we were doing,” I told her.

“Uh oh.  Was little Ms. Plan-Everything-a-Month-in-Advance upset?  She did get her panties in a wad?” Nadia teased me.

I rolled my eyes.  “Yes!  Who waits until the last minute to plan a date?!  And he didn’t do a lot of planning, either – he gave me four choices and asked me to pick.”

“Hmmmm.  Think he was worried that he’d disappoint you?” Nadia said.  “Wait, what were the choices?  Let me guess—dinner, movie, dinner and a movie, or the park.  Had to be in the park in there somewhere, right?”

I laughed.  “Yes, to the park, but otherwise, you are soooo wrong!  The choices were laser tag, go carts, whirly ball, or the park.  The other things are better in a group—he said so, too, when he suggested them—so we went hiking at Arbor Hills.”

“Ah, you love that place, don’t you?  Crowded enough for dates, but enough trees to feel like you’re in nature,” Nadia said.

“Right!  I made a couple of jokes about how I’m a serial killer that brings all my dates there, and he said, ‘Ok.’  He just went with it.  We had a good hike and talked the whole time.  We told each other silly jokes and talked about our friends.  He has a friend that just broke up with his girlfriend, and so do I.  It was great to just talk about whatever came to mind,” I said.  “And at the end, he gave me a very sweet good night kiss.”  I smiled and blushed a little.

“So it ended well,” Nadia said.

“Yes!  But am I going to be able to date someone who is 22 minutes late to dates?  And who doesn’t plan at all?!” I asked.  “Those things have the potential to make me Very Angry.”

“Be fair: he was only late to one date.  He was early to the first one, right?  Ok.  And maybe he didn’t plan this date, but he did give you choices, which you like.  AND,” she said, before I could say anything, “He must be something of a planner, since he had this marathon and triathlon scheduled this month, right?”

I nodded.  She made good points.  “Plus, he texts me every morning, and calls me almost every night,” I added.  “And he really is handsome.  And he’s goofy.”

“GREAT!” she said.  “He knows how to communicate!  He sounds awesome!” She punched me for emphasis.  “What’s on the agenda for the third date?”  She waggled her eye brows and said, “Are you going to Make Him Dinner?”

Her words might sound innocent, but the emphasis she put on them made them mean a lot more.  She might as well have said, “Are you going to invite him over to your house for hot steamy sex?”

I blushed.  “Dunno, we haven’t planned it.  Just said that we’d see each other next week.”

“Bow chica wow wow!” Nadia said.

“No!  Well, maybe…” I said.  “We’ll see.  If I invite him over for dinner, he BETTER not be late!”

“Then don’t plan it on Wednesday.  That’s half-price car wash day!”  Nadia said, and laughed so hard she snorted.

Cheers!

Mini-Vacay – Colorado 2015

Awaiting the plane at DFW, I took this pic and posted it to Facebook. Later, both Gala and I texted it to Wilson to let him know who he was picking up. Great minds think alike! What's with the photobomber? Is she a pickpocket or just really pissed that DFW is so big?

Awaiting the plane at DFW, I took this pic and posted it to Facebook. Later, both Gala and I texted it to Wilson to let him know who he was picking up. Great minds think alike!
What’s with the photobomber? Is she a pickpocket or just really pissed that DFW is so big?

“Let’s hike ‘til we drop, then party like rock stars,” I texted Gala Pear.

“Well duh!” she answered.

We were discussing what we were going to do this past weekend, when I visited her in Colorado for a mini-vacation.  I flew out of DFW on Thursday night and flew back on Sunday.  It was a much-needed vacation.  It’s been a hell of a year, starting last June.  Ya, that’s about 14 months, a little more than a year.  I’m still feeling the effects.

So on the plane, I paid way too much for a mini bottle of wine.  F it; I’m on vacation!

After we landed, I received a text from Gala.  I am now convinced she is a goddess.  The text read, “Wilson is picking you up.  Let him know if you want to stop for wine on the way here.”

Yes.  Yes, I do.

Wilson Bearberry is Gala’s boyfriend, and I’m convinced he’s perfect.  Gala tried to tell me that he snores and other trivial nonsense.  He’s in great shape, he’s studying to be a doctor (i.e. he has brains), and he’s super nice.  Most importantly, he took me for wine about 5 minutes after meeting me for the first time.

He’s a keeper!

Starting the Vacay right!

Starting the Vacay right!

Three Sisters near Evergreen, Colorado

Three Sisters near Evergreen, Colorado

Chipmunk!

Chipmunk!

Tallulah the Pig getting her belly scratched – You know you’re truly happy when you’re drooling and you just don’t care.

Tallulah the Pig getting her belly scratched – You know you’re truly happy when you’re drooling and you just don’t care.

Royal Arches near Boulder, CO

Royal Arches near Boulder, CO

Birdie

Birdie

So steep – just let me rest a minute (pant, pant).

So steep – just let me rest a minute (pant, pant).

Gala Pear at Gala Gardens – with Wilson Bearberry (Commerce City, CO)

Gala Pear at Gala Gardens – with Wilson Bearberry (Commerce City, CO)

There was drinking.  There was drunken Uno.  There was a hunt for an elk, which ended in hysterical laughter.  We played some pool, saw some of my old friends from high school, and hiked until I dropped.

Not a reenactment.

Not a reenactment.

I pretended not to hear when Gala turned to Wilson and said, “Let’s come back and run this trail next week.”  It’s a good thing she’s so cute, and that I can’t take my Taser on the plane.  Grumble grumble.

Just kidding!  Love you, Gala!

And your super skinny ass.  XOXO.

I’d tell you more, but what happens in Colorado, stays in Colorado.

Cheers!

Early Birthday Presents

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“What’s this?” I asked, looking at the gift bag that Keith handed me.

“It’s an early birthday present.  I thought you might want to wear it between now and then, so I didn’t want to wait,” he said with a small smile.

Hello, what?  We had gone on one previous date.  I wasn’t expecting gifts on Date Number Two.  Was this guy for real?  Had I met—dramatic gasp—A Nice Guy?!

I opened the bag.  There was the necklace that matched the earrings that I had bought on our first date.  OMG OMG how PERFECT!!!  He had paid attention to what I bought, returned to the store later, and purchased the matching necklace.  WOW.

“See, now you know why I was late this morning.  I had left this at the house, and had to go back to pick it up,” Keith said.

I had been Very Annoyed that he showed up 15 minutes late.  He had invited me to Adventure Landing, a fun park that had batting cages, because I wanted to improve my batting average.  I’m not quite sure how those things are calculated, but in the last softball game I struck out twice.  So I’m pretty sure that my batting average is zero.

Anyhow, I had asked him to go to the batting cages with me on Saturday, and he chose the place.  He had told me, “It’s 4 minutes from my apartment.”

From my house, Adventure Landing is a 20 minute drive via the tollway or 27 minutes via the back roads (Preston Road).  I opted to avoid tolls and take the—ahem—scenic route.  Well, it’s scenic if you like looking at all the businesses.  I was happy to see a new wine place, “Sip N Savor,” which is in an old Victorian House.  Gotta try that place!

But I digress.

I drove 27 minutes and was there 5 minutes early.  He lives 4 minutes away and was 15 minutes late.  Therefore, I waited for 20 minutes for him to show up.  I was 30 seconds away from leaving and canceling the date altogether.

It didn’t help my mood, that the batting cages were flooded.  We’d have to go somewhere else.  <Insert cussword here.>

Sign at the park.  Someone has a sense of humor!

Sign at the park.  Someone has a sense of humor!

He FINALLY showed up and we drove to a park to “hike” (i.e. take a walk through the trees and mud).  The park was 13 minutes away, so I had time to fume some more.  I didn’t like the trend; he was 4 minutes late to our first date and 15 minutes late to the second.  Would he be 25 minutes late to Date Number 3, if there was one?

But now, I was standing with the necklace that matched my earrings, and I couldn’t be mad.  Well, not too mad, anyway.  We had had a lovely hike with interesting conversation.  He had said kind things when I picked up trash along the path (a Carmex tube, a water bottle, and a bottle cap; I hate litter).  At my request, he had picked up a little bitty froggy that was on the sidewalk.  Seriously, that creature was approximately .5 inch x .75 inch (1 cm x 2 cm); teeny tiny!  So cute!  We released him almost immediately to the side of the path.  Good luck, little Kermit!

Back to the Present

I thanked him for the thoughtful gift and we went to breakfast.

“What are you doing for your birthday next weekend?” he asked.

I was surprised by the question.  “Did it sneak up on me already?  I don’t have any plans; I thought I had more time.”  I consulted my phone and laughed.  “Next weekend is July 4th!  My birthday is on the 19th, not next week!”

“Oh, I was confused,” he smiled and shook his head.  “I knew that your birthday was on the 19th, but you said that your daughter was going to come into town for a party on the 10th.  For some reason, I was skipping a weekend.”

“That makes sense.  Plans have changed; Sally, her half-brother, and our friend are coming up on the 24th now.  I want to have a party with my friends on the 11th, but I haven’t figured out what.  Something unique to Dallas.  Something like, Reunion Tower.  But I’ve been there.  What I mean is, something that people will want to do, even if it isn’t my birthday,” I explained.  “But not the 3rd Floor Museum.”

That’s the famous library where a certain amateur sniper had stood to kill a president.  It’s one of Dallas’s landmarks, as much as we wish it wasn’t, so it’s someplace that I’ve been meaning to visit.  But it’s definitely not the place to have a birthday party.

“I’ll think on that,” Keith promised.  “Did you want me to come?  Or did you want to do something with me on Friday?  I’d rather do something with you separate.”

Oh, I like this!  A man who clarifies what I want and tells me what he would like.  Nice!  Lovin’ the communication skills!  “Both.  You can come to the party, and we can have dinner the night before,” I said.  Why not?

He smiled.  That was a victory: getting to see me two nights in a row, especially on my birthday weekend, was huge.  That tells him that I’m not dating anyone else.  Also, it means that he gets to meet my friends.  In the World of Dating, that is a Major Milestone: Meeting the Friends.

Am I ready for that?  I started to hyperventilate and overanalyze, but I stopped myself.  Breathe.  Just, breathe.  Either they’ll like him, or they won’t.  From what I’ve seen, he’s a pretty terrific guy.  My friends should like him just fine.  Heck, any guy who buys such a thoughtful gift and communicates so well, has to be pretty darn awesome.

To which Nadia says, “He wants something.  Any guy who buys you presents, expects something in return.”  She winked at me.  “And a birthday dinner means birthday sex!”

I smiled back at her.  “More presents?!  Oh, goody!”

Burlesque (In Other News)

I signed up for a burlesque class.  Oh, yes, that is happening!  Starting July 11, I’ll be taking class for 2 hours every Saturday, with a big finale on August 21.  I love Lisa Carmen, the teacher.  She teaches so much more than just body movements; she teaches students how to love themselves.  I know because I’ve been following her on Facebook for over a year.  We met at a party and I fell in love with her bon vivance (love of life) and positive energy.  I’ll be interviewing her before the class (tentatively scheduled for July 9th) so that you can get to know her better.  I predict that you’ll love her just as much as I do.

And, of course, I’ll post tidbits from each class.  Anyone want pics of me in a corset and boa?

Speaking of classes, a coworker invited me to swing dancing lessons on Wednesday.  You know what that means?!  I’m going to be a swinger!!  I’m taking applications for partners now.

Just to clarify, that’s for a dancing partner.

Cheers!

New haircut.  I nixed the bangs and am definitely back to my natural brown hair.  Hey, Baby, How you doin?  ;-)

New haircut. I nixed the bangs and am definitely back to my natural brown hair. Hey, Baby, How you doin? 😉