3 Mountains in 3 Days!



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


“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


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.


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)!


Sally Strawberry, Explorer, Conquerer of Mountains





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!


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


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



Zion Vacation Summary



“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.



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!


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.

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



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



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.


Amazing Seattle Road Trip Part III: Pinky Promise


“Hold up your pinky,” I told Sally Ann.

She regarded me suspiciously.  She knew that I had something in mind.

“Just do it,” I said.  “Show the world which finger I’m wrapped around!”  After years of accusing her father of being wrapped around it, I finally had to admit that I was there, too.

Sally laughed and held up her little finger with a big smile.

“Now we need to have a serious conversation.  I know that you’ve been dating Penny for over a year, and you probably want to start taking vacations with her.  Don’t answer until you think about it, but I’d really like to continue our annual road trips.  We’ve gone every year since—well, since you were 13, right?” I said.

“Since before that.  We used to go, with Jack, to the Johnson Space Center every year.  And one year, we visited Aunt Sharon in Kansas.  So, just about every year of my life,” she added.

I was a little surprised.  She was right.  Despite being a single mom and struggling financially, despite going to college for an engineering degree from age 28 to 32, I had made my kids a high priority.  We had taken trips every year.

I continued, “You’re right.  So, I understand if you don’t want to take vacations with me anymore.  But if you do, I’d like you to pinky swear that we’ll take vacays every year for the rest of our lives.”

Without hesitation, she held up her pinky.  “And we get to vote if we want other people to come.  And it has to be unanimous,” she said.

I smiled and my eyes teared up.  She didn’t even think about it!  I offered her my pinky.  “But that means that I can vote Penny off the island!  Or, at least, off the vacay!”

“And I can vote your boyfriend off, too!” she said.  “So you’d better be good!”

I laughed.  She could give it as good as she could take it!


When we visited Mount St. Helens, what used to be acres of trees was now populated by stumps.  The historical markers said that the blast from the volcano broke them off.

“That must have been some eruption,” Sally said.

“I imagine it was like the pressure wave off the space shuttle when it takes off,” I said.  In 2010, we had attended one of the last space shuttle launches in Orlando, Florida.  On that trip, Sally had experienced a lot of firsts: first plane trip, first time at an ocean, and first space shuttle launch.  For the record, it was my first shuttle launch, too.

I stopped in my tracks.  “How cool is it that we can say that?  That we attended a space shuttle, and now we can talk about the pressure wave like it’s no big deal?”

“Ya!” she said.

“We’re badasses.  Oh ya,” I said.  “How do you think Seattle compares to San Francisco?”
“I don’t know.  We haven’t seen as much of Seattle as we did SF.  Still, I think I like SF better,” she answered.

“Me, too.  I think it has more local color, more parks, and more to do.  But then, we may just have to come back to Seattle and spend more time here to be sure,” I said.

We keep hiking.  We have too much that we want to see and too many places to go, to return to anywhere that we’ve already been.  I admired the Indian Paintbrush plants (red flowers) and bluebonnets (blue-purple flowers) that lined the trail.  They reminded me of home, of Texas.  As much as I love to travel, I love returning to Dallas.

“Where are we going next?  If I can afford to bring you, I’ll take you with me to Lilly’s wedding in Hawaii.  If not, where do you want to go?” I asked.

“I’d like to go to Ireland.  Maybe for my 21st birthday?  That would be GREAT!” Sally said.

PUDDING!  This isn’t the end, just a pause in the adventure.




Amazing Seattle Road Trip Part I

Sally, Multnomah Falls, June 17, 2015

Sally, Multnomah Falls, June 17, 2015


Gorgeous Weather + Excellent Company + Amazing Scenery = One Priceless, Perfect Vacation.

Where do I begin?  I could just upload 300 photos, but that wouldn’t tell the whole story.  So on the airplane on the way home, Sally and I made a couple of lists to summarize our road trip.

First, I questioned whether we could call it a “road trip.”  We did take an airplane to Seattle, after all.  But then we rented a car and put about a thousand miles on it; so I’m pretty confident calling it a “road trip.”

Multnomah Falls, June 17, 2015

Multnomah Falls, June 17, 2015

Our agenda was:

June 16: Land in Seattle, rent a car, drive to Portland.  (Flying from DFW to Seattle is half the price of landing in Portland.)  Meet Devin Pace for dinner.  Take pictures on the walk to and from the restaurant like the crazy tourists we are.

June 17: Hike Multnomah Falls, drive to Seattle while singing along to the radio.  Look at each other often and say, “Pudding!”

June 18: Hike Mount St. Helens.  Have hysterical laughing fit in hotel bar, which stems in part from exhaustion and in part from elation.

June 19: Hike Mount Rainier.  Well, that was the plan, anyway.  Fog and drizzle made for poor visibility, so we canceled the hike for safety’s sake.  That is, we were cold and wet and miserable the second that we stepped out of the car, so we did the sensible thing and got back in it.

Then we went to Seattle to walk around Pike’s Place Market, the Space Needle, and everything in between.

June 20: Duck tour!  That is, we toured the city in an amphibious vehicle: part on land, part on the water.  Quack quack!


Henna “Tattoo,” June 20, 2015

Sally and I with matching henna designs.

Sally and I with matching henna designs. “Wonder Twin Powers, Activate!”

List of Firsts

This is our list of all the things that we did for the first time on this trip.  PUDDING!

  • Professional henna tattoos. These “tattoos” last for two weeks max.  They’re made with a paste mixed with oils, so it’s completely painless.  That’s my kind of tat!  Sally and I got matching patterns on our hands.
  • Irish coffee. Actually, it was Bailey’s coffee (coffee and Bailey’s Irish cream) that I let Sally sample.  We liked it so much, that we had four total over the course of two days.  After all, we’re Irish and we were in the Coffee Capital; why not drink Irish Coffee?
  • Duck Tour! Quack!
  • Sally had a calamari taco for the first time. She and her girlfriend do not like fish tacos, but the calamari got high marks.  That’s right, the girls don’t like fish tacos.
  • Washington.  It was our first time to visit this state.
  • Oregon.  Two states in one vacay!  Woot!
  • Oops, I left the Taser and multi-tool in the backpack.  (Gotta protect our lovely selves on the trail, you know, and be prepared for anything.)  The TSA agent was very nice and polite; he helped me mail them home.  STILL, I’d rather not be pulled out of line by TSA again.
  • 1st time leaving a sweater on the plane.   After a 4-hour flight and almost 2 hours of waiting for the airline reps to return the sentimental Stanford hoodie, we were hungry and delirious. I almost kissed the ground in thanks when I found a coffee kiosk a few feet away.  Now, we can tease each other to, “Check for personal belongings!”  ‘Cause you KNOW that I tried to leave my sunglasses someplace else later that day.  Private jokes are the best!  Especially after you survive a traumatic event, like the airport!
  • Leaving a mountain not hiked. We were loath to leave Mount Rainer without hiking, but I was loathe to blindly hike off the side in the fog. Super Fail!  The silver lining is, we had more time to explore the city.  Bonus!
  • 1st time traveling with my ADULT daughter. We were tempted to pass her off as 15 for discounts, but we were good.    That’s our story and we’re sticking to it!
  • I didn’t buy a t-shirt for myself on vacay. I did buy two coffee mugs, but this is the first time that I’ve resisted buying a t-shirt as well.  Why did I do it?  I have about 200 t-shirts at home already.  Ok, so maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but I seriously have three drawers dedicated to t-shirts: nice, workout, and long-sleeve t-shirts.  Oh, yes, they’re sorted and organized.  No, I don’t have OCD, why do you ask?
  • Sally had swordfish for the first time. “It has the texture of salmon, but a different taste.  Good, but different.”  I think it’s similar to orange roughy, but she doesn’t know what that tastes like.  Maybe the next trip she’ll get to try it!
  • Sally’s first time driving over a drawbridge. “That’s it?  We’re over it?  It’s like a regular bridge,” she said.    Like most things that sound super cool, the reality is a little disappointing.  It’s like meeting guys from Match.
  • Sally didn’t drive at all, for the first time in four years.  She did stomp on an imaginary brake pedal and hold an air guitar, uh, steering wheel.
  • 1st time we saw weed sold on the street and it was legal. The dealer wore a shirt that read, “I sell the good shit.”
  • This was almost the 1st time I ran out of gas. We rolled into the gas station on fumes!  The Yaris didn’t beep warnings at me like my fancy-by-comparison Honda Civic.  Yep, my Civic is fancier.  Never thought that I’d get to say that!!

Not Our First:

  • This wasn’t the first time that TSA pulled me aside. Let’s see, they wanted to look at some cables that I had in my purse for a prototype, they took my peanut butter (it’s an illegal gel that may be an explosive in disguise), they wanted to look at my child’s safety scissors (which looked much bigger on the x-ray machine, apparently), they looked at the butter knife I brought with my hiking kit (and thought it was plastic, even though it was light weight metal, but who am I to argue?), etc.  The good news is that I have yet to be strip searched.  The bad news is, the cute TSA agent at gate C14 didn’t strip search me.
  • Wasn’t our 1st time hiking on an active volcano. We stopped and hiked one once before, which was covered in snow.  That made it doubly exciting – slipping and sliding!
  • This was not the 1st time that Sally had her hands wiped and checked for explosives.  Must be because she’s smoking hot!  Lol

Other notes:

  • We did not hit coffee overload levels, despite trying really hard. With 143 Starbucks in town, we had ample opportunity!
  • Don’t stop for Bateaux Wine Cellars. It’s adjacent to Walker road, a dead end, and a creepy barn which advertises, “Increases Red Blood in Women!  Doctor Pierce’s Tonic!”  It was broad daylight, but Sally and I thought we may have been caught in a horror movie.  We hightailed it outta there!
  • Regarding the cute guys: I bought a beer for one.  Blew a kiss to another.  That’s it.  After being physically picked up at the Grand Canyon and ComiCon, I was a bit disappointed. Of course, I could have actually talked to one of those guys instead of waving across the bar.  Nah, I was with my girl!  I’m sure that she was more interesting than both of those hunks put together!

In other news, two guys on Match with the same name emailed me.  I had to politely tell them both that I couldn’t date them, because their names were the same as my ex-husband Alan.

Rick said, “See past the name.”

Nope.  Not gonna happen.

To be fair, they weren’t really my type otherwise.  If one of them had seemed perfect, I still don’t think that I could date him.  It was weird enough to date another Michael; another Alan just isn’t going to happen.  There are enough other names in the world, that I’m SURE that I can find someone else to date.

Speaking of, Keith is ready for a second date; we’ve been texting.  I’ve emailed a couple of other guys on Match, too.  Yay!  It’s going to be a good summer, I can feel it!

Next time, I’ll explain why Sally and I joke about visiting Historic Downtown.  And why I bought that beer for the guy in the bar.  And why all of this makes Sally and I laugh hysterically!


Check Facebook for more pictures.  I’ll also share a few each day this week.