August 2017

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Wednesday was Bobby's 34th birthday and also the last day of our trip, so we saved the excursion we were looking forward to the most for this day. Shell Island, as I noted in the last post, was created when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredged the channel between the Grand Lagoon and the Gulf of Mexico to allow for the passage of shipping traffic. It is an uninhabited section of the park with absolutely no amenities and accessible only by boat. A shuttle boat runs regularly from St. Andrew's to Shell Island. There are some wooden poles stuck into the water to show where the shuttle boat will ride up onto the sand, but that is it. There are signs posted at St. Andrew's: Shell Island contains no water, shade, or bathrooms. If you want it, you have to bring it over with you.

The NO SHADE worried me the most. We brought over two big bottles of water, and if I needed the bathroom, it would not be the first time peeing in a wild place (or the ocean ... tmi!) by far. Despite properly applying sunscreen the day before, I was becoming tender in places, as was Bobby. So that morning, we stopped at the Ron Jon surf shop and picked up a pair of rash guards with SPF 50+ so that we could spend the day in NO SHADE in comfort.

We had lunch again at Finn's--the third time! The food was delicious and the open at 10. We had the scallop ceviche this time and I had the shrimp crunch wrap ... which, yes, is like the things they make at Taco Bell but about 100 times better! At St. Andrew's we rented a tandem kayak for the day, which was loaded onto the shuttle and across we went.

Shell Island was beautiful and wild. We donned our rash guards and launched our kayak and headed out along the coast on the channel side. I love rowing--there is something immensely satisfying about pulling yourself through the water--but I kept getting a crick in my right bicep that was annoying and sometimes painful. We pulled to shore so I could give it a rest and also to explore the island.

More and pictures below the cut ... )
On Tuesday, we were to receive the paddleboards we had attempted to rent the previous day and return to St. Andrew's State Park. Bobby had found a highly rated Mexican restaurant in the area that opened at 10 for lunch, so we planned to grab a bite to eat there and then head over to the park. We had a catamaran cruise scheduled that evening and had to be at the marina at 5, so we actually were working on a schedule for once. (Usually, our schedule more or less matches the sun: When the sun starts to set, we come off the beach and get supper.)

Of course, we showed up at the restaurant, and they were closed. Allow me a brief grouse about places that make changes and don't update their websites. Seriously, folks, as someone who has managed a website for eight years now? It's not that hard. Bobby found another lunch place that was supposed to open at 10. We drove out, found it ... and they were also closed because this was the day they were having a new stove installed. We were both grouchy at this point. I made a snarky remark about just going to someplace I invented in my grouchiness called Happy Jack's Happy Flappy Flapjack House. I just ... don't like breakfast. Well, I like Bobby's breakfast, which has been carefully honed over many years to my tastes. I don't like dessert, so why would I want to eat what amounts to dessert at the beginning of the day too? We ended up at a Waffle House because it is one of the few places that has breakfast that I like: a peanut butter waffle (with no syrup for the love of all things holy!) and a double hashbrown with cheese, onions, and jalapeños. When this is the biggest blip in your vacation, you're doing alright.

We headed over to the park, and Bobby called the stand-up paddleboard (SUP) rental guy. Within ten minutes, he was pulling into the park with the boards strapped to the top of his truck. So the day was looking better already.

Bobby mentioned wanting to try SUPing about two years ago, when we saw people doing it in Ocean City. At the time, the joints in my feet were so swollen and painful that I wanted to weep for the thought of standing on a board and trying to float across water on it and them by extension. I made up my mind that I would miserably have to endure it for Bobby's sake. Well, thank goodness that chapter of life is behind me. I was actually able to enjoy it--it was quite a lot of fun!

St. Andrew's State Park is located at one end of Panama City Beach. In the 1930s, the Army Corps of Engineers dredged the Gulf-Bay Pass to allow for shipping traffic to pass between the Grand Lagoon and the Gulf of Mexico. On the west side of the channel is St. Andrew's State Park; the east became Shell Island, which I'll say more about when we go there. Several rock jetties were built, which on the St. Andrew's side, block most of the effect of the surf and create a very calm area for swimming ... or learning to SUP, in our case!

More and pictures below the cut )
Bobby ended up placing fifth in his category today at the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge. This was a very impressive result (in my admittedly biased opinion!) There were 36 competitors in his category, which was ages 26-35, so he was also competing against guys significantly younger than him. And it is also worth remembering--and it's easy to forget sometimes because he's come so far so fast--that he has only been doing this for four seasons now, and missed part of two of those seasons due to injury. So I am very, very proud of him. :)

Pictures below the Cut )
Bobby is a bona fide meteorology nerd as well as a snowboarder, which means that he starts tracking winter storms sometimes a week or more out. I don't remember when he first told me about the developing possibility of a storm today; he updates me more or less daily, and they all run together after a while. Some fritter away, some come to pass (but usually tend toward the more modest accumulations), and the rare one comes to full, spectacular-as-in-major-accumulation fruition.

As the week progressed, this storm looked more and more promising. Bobby watches all of the different models (although, like an meteorologist, he has his favorites), and what was interesting in this case was that all of the models were in agreement, which is uncommon.

Tuesday night, we were eating supper (spectacular fried pork chops, garlic-cheddar mashed potatoes, and sauteed Brussels sprouts) and Bobby said, "If the storm is still looking good by tomorrow afternoon, I think we should hedge our bets in a major way."

We have a tradition several years running of staying up to watch cheesy '80s dance movies the night before we think we are going to get a snow day. Sometimes the school system calls it the night before; other times, we "hedge our bets" and trust that a storm is not only going to come to pass but that the school system will have the good sense to close if it does. If we think we might get a snow day, we'll start asking each other in the afternoon, "Do you think we ought to hedge tonight?" We watch (in this order) Footloose, Dirty Dancing, and Flashdance, one per night, so that our progress through the lineup becomes an odd metric of the severity of the season's winter weather. Last year, we ran through our cheesy '80s dance movie collection very quickly and had to come up with alternate plans.

So far this year, we have watched Footloose and Dirty Dancing (the latter was our Sunday-night fare before Monday's closure). I thought Bobby was going to suggest that we watch Flashdance. Instead, he said, "If the storm is still coming by Wednesday afternoon, then I'm thinking about reserving us a room at Liberty so that I can have a powder day on Thursday."

More and Photos beneath the Cut )
Last week, when Bobby and I were sitting at the bar in Pie-casso, there was a giant slalom event on the television. I told him that it looked cool. "Oh, that's giant slalom," he said.

"Funny, the people look like they are of ordinary stature to me, not giants at all."

"No, it doesn't mean that giants participate, it just refers to the kind of event it is."

Well, this was timely, as we returned from Vermont to discover that Bobby had a chance to participate in a giant slalom event today at Liberty, the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge. He wasn't initially sure that employees of the mountain would be allowed, but it was decided they were. He is tall (6'2") but not a giant.

There were 700-some participants overall and 28 in his category (male snowboarders ages 25-35; as he noted, there were some "pretty young dudes" he was up against). He texted me when he was getting into line, and I wrapped up in my cold-weather gear and schlepped out to the end of the course in my inappropriate-for-snow shoes. It was snowing quite hard; we are under a winter storm warning in north-central Maryland today. I arrived right as he was coming down and got to see the end of his run.

This was his first competition, and I don't think either of us knew what to expect, but at 2:30, we stood to hear the winners announced ... and he took bronze in his category! Which means that he is now eligible to race in the finals at the end of March, at Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire. It is a televised event! So it looks like we will be back on the Vermonter and headed northward again sooner rather than later.

Photos and Snoooow! )
Sunday was a wickedly cold and windy day. Remember how I posted that we got in the hot tub on Saturday night, and I was all proud for walking barefoot in the snow? While Bobby and I were in the hot tub, we were talking about what we thought the temperature was and whether this was the coldest weather in which we'd ever been in a hot tub. "Oh, it's probably about 7-8F," we figured (-13 to -14C). Which would have been the coldest for me but not Bobby, who got in the hot tub in Deep Creek Lake once when it was 4F/-16C. Well, the taxi driver who took us to the train station this morning was the same who picked us up on Saturday night, and we were talking about the extremity of cold compared to home and how it was -20F/-29C in Stowe when Bobby woke up this morning, and the taxi driver was like, "Well, that's nothing considering that it was -24F/-31C when I picked you up on Saturday!" OMGWTFWHY WAS I IN A HOT TUB WHEN IT WAS -24F. It does make me feel less wimpy for my reluctance to strip down to my swimsuit once I was outside in the apparently -24 temperatures and much more badass for my barefoot dash through the snow back into the B&B clad only in a bikini. And it's an item I can check of my to-do list of stupid-things-that-done-once-one-has-no-need-to-repeat. (Actually, it really wasn't that bad!)

Randy the innkeeper at our B&B makes a pot of homemade soup every day at around 4 o'clock, when the mountain closes and all the skiers/boarders start to come back. The soup is complimentary, and pretty much everyone gathers in the common room at 4 o'clock or so to thaw out with a cup (or in my case, to just eat it because I'm hungry and love soup). Sunday, it was black bean soup. Bobby and I were eating soup and debating where we wanted to go for supper. We wanted sushi, but there was a sushi bar within walking distance of the B&B and also the Matterhorn, which is considered one of the best ski apres bars in the country. (THE WORLD!!! ... okay, I don't actually know if it is in the world; I just wanted to yell THE WORLD!!! and wave my hands about on my journal in a dramatic fashion.)

We asked Randy, and he couldn't really choose one as better than the other, so we decided on the Matterhorn, even though we'd need to take a taxi to get there. (Well, initially, we tried to stand out and wait for the free Stowe shuttle, but the wicked cold and winds was just a little too much to bear for me.) We just couldn't pass up the chance to try one of the best ski apres bars in the country. I'm glad we did; the food was incredible, and we had the best time. We ordered three sushi rolls to start, and Bobby ordered Buffalo wings for his main while I had the "Matterhorn bowl," which was pretty much a blend of different sushi chopped small over rice with "yummy sauce." I had wanted to try real sushi (not just rolls), and this was a good way to do it since the pieces were small and mixed with other things. I really liked it. We washed all of this down with several Switchback Ales, one of the local beers. We tried it, I liked it and didn't have an allergic reaction to it, so I drank it for the remainder of the trip with nary a wayward itch. (A sign that I'm potentially allergic to a beer is itching in weird spots, like behind my elbows.)

More and Pictures below the Cut! )
Several years ago, the Felagund family used to make an annual trek every December to New York City for the day. It was a nice day: time for a leisurely lunch, to wander around the city, capped off with the Radio City Rockettes' show, and followed by a walk back to the bus that involved an inevitable stop for sandwiches at Pret a Manger. Then, under the pretense of The EconomyTM, the bus company stopped running this trip. This year, they started it back up again (perhaps because The EconomyTM has supposedly improved).

Dad asked if we wanted to go, and the decision was instantaneous: Of course we did! To make matters even better, the trip was on a Thursday this year--it had always been on a Monday before, the one day of the week that the Met is closed--so I indulged a fantasy of meeting [personal profile] heartofoshun for lunch, taking the subway to mill about the Met for a couple of hours, and returning in plenty of time to see the show.

But then we got the itinerary. Read more... )
Bobby and I and my parents decided a few weeks ago that we wanted to go to Ocean City for the holiday weekend. It was a short trip--we left Friday around noon and came home today--but was very, very nice; I wish I was still there. Friday morning, Bobby left for Liberty Mountain to get first chair on their opening day of the season, which was--like last year--unusually early. (The Western resorts like Jackson Hole and Vale also opened this weekend.) He returned ecstatic, having spent the morning on snow that he said was more like January snow than November.

While he was gone, I rushed around getting things ready so that we could leave as soon as he came home. The Goldens knew that something was up as soon as the suitcase came out. As soon as their leashes and seatbelts followed, I had Alex on my heels for the rest of the morning. Despite having been thoroughly exhausted by the Thanksgiving festivities the day before, they managed to ratchet up some excitement for what they knew was an impending trip. Phil went to sleep in the car but Alex stayed awake for the whole three-hour ride.

We arrived in OC at around 3:30, only a couple minutes after my parents arrived. We were staying at the Fenwick Inn, which allows dogs in the wintertime. I took the Goldens to pee; they were both acting like wild animals and drove me crazy in just the short walk to the grassy spot where we take them and back to the hotel. We dropped them off in the room, knowing they were thoroughly exhausted enough to go right to sleep, and headed off to get a late lunch.

More and pictures below the cut! Including the tale of the old creaky hinge ... )
This weekend was fairly mild with another dip in temperatures and potentially our first snowfall due for later in the week, so Bobby finished cleaning up the leaves in the yard. Yesterday, I was able to help him: raking up the last of the leaves and putting a good, thick covering on all the garden beds.

Golden Retrievers pretty much know how to do anything handy that you might find yourself doing around the house, and they are always right there and eager to help. Cleaning up the leaves was no exception. For example, it is very helpful if, when you rake up a pile of leaves, a Golden Retriever lays in the middle of that pile because it keeps the leaves from blowing away.

When Phil did that the first time, I responded by raking the next batch of leaves over top of him. He became indignant and got up from the pile. Later, Alex did the same thing, so I thought, "Well, it worked with Phil, so it'll probably work with him too."

Photos beneath the Cut )
Whenever I imagine the polar vortex, I imagine it as one of those men whose head sits directly on his shoulders, arms unable to touch his sides, and walks with the top of his head pointed forward. That's how I imagine him trundling down into the U.S., pulling cold air behind him like walking into a warm house and drawing the cold outside air in behind you.

This afternoon, when I walked out the side door to my classroom and into the parking lot, I thought, "Winter is here." It wasn't terribly cold--44F/7C when I set off north on Liberty Road--but it was raw and spitting this fine, cold rain. By the time I had picked up Bobby and we were heading home, the rain changed into that infamous-from-my-childhood "bag of wintry mix." By the time we were driving north on 795, it had changed to all snow.

So we've had the first snowfall of the year. By the time we were in Carroll County, it was starting to stick to the bare earth; by the time we were in Manchester, it was dusting the grass, and the temperature had dropped to 34F/1C. I just looked and it's stopped now (although NOAA warns for the possibility of snow showers throughout the night) but we got a decent amount of coverage for a mid-November snowfall in central Maryland.

Pictures! )


For anyone following the Saga of My Pulled Piriformis, I have returned to work (yesterday) and can walk again. I am still stiff and have been banished from the gym for three weeks by Bobby (who is at the gym now), at which I literally whined; blame the lingering pain for my regression back to the behavior of a seven-year-old. It's just that inactivity doesn't help with the stiffness at all, even though I know that I need to give myself time off from anything strenuous. But stiffness is better than feeling like someone is stabbing you with an ice pick at the top of your thigh every time you take a step. And I'll have dance twice next week, so that will help.

Atlantic City

Aug. 16th, 2014 03:59 pm
dawn_felagund: (beer wine beer)
Bobby and I went with my parents yesterday to Atlantic City. It is about two-and-a-half hours away, so we usually take a bus a couple of times per year for a day trip. The bus ticket costs $35, which includes a $25 casino voucher. I am not a fan of gambling; I don't find slot machines fun, and I have never won anything. (ANYTHING. Not even $20.) Bobby and I usually spend our combined $50 pretty quickly and spend the rest of the day on the beach, boardwalk, and pier. Bobby usually wins enough to pay for our lunch and the rest of our bus tickets, so we usually end up getting our trip for free.

We had beautiful weather: sunny and warm but not hot. We had our choice of three places to disembark; my parents prefer the Taj Mahal of the three available casinos (Showboat--closing at the end of the month!--and Bally's), which is at the north end of the boardwalk. We had lunch reservations at Carmine's in Tropicana at the south end of the boardwalk, so we played some of our vouchers (after waiting in an interminable line so that Bobby and I could get the vouchers put on cards, something the greeter used to do right on the bus but that now requires a slog across the casino, a long queue, and a much more drawn-out process). I broke my losing streak by winning a big $31.95 on a penny machine called Icarus while Bobby was off playing something called the Norse Warrior.

We took a taxi to the Tropicana; Carmine's was great, as always. Bobby and I were planning to make the 1.5-mile walk back up the boardwalk to Taj Mahal, and my parents decided they wanted to join us, so we started north, stopping into some of the shops along the way, and for breaks every few blocks for my dad, who is not much of a walker.

More & Pictures below the Cut )
Yesterday was a very fun day: "Midmoot," or a gathering organized at the midway points between Mythmoots for local Tolkien fans affiliated with the Mythgard Institute. Bobby and I both went; participants pooled money to fly Professor Olsen down for a day-long seminar and dinner. (Professor Olsen is awesome: so down-to-earth and hilarious and brilliant.) It was in Alexandria, Virginia, which is not that far but manages to be that far: almost three hours from Manchester by the time all was said and done! Yikes. Just over an hour in the car and the rest of the time on the Metro. (Although, as Bobby put it, we did cross a state and all of DC in one of the busiest parts of the country.)

But it was worth the trip: The seminar was a series of informal talks and discussions but touched on several intriguing topics related to Tolkien and speculative fiction more generally. I thought about signing up to present something but sat on my hands, being overwhelmed generally at this point with academic stuff. Best of all, I got to hang out again with MithLuin, whom I've known online for many years and knew lived in Maryland and somehow managed to never meet in person till last Mythmoot when I complimented a woman on her Curufin costume and the rest is history. (I should have known. I mean Curufin? Really?? She had to be one of my own kind.) We had a great supper at the Bilbo Baggin's restaurant in Alexandria, in which Bobby, MithLuin, and I managed to talk about pretty much everything but Middle-earth (although we did talk about Tolkien's Beowulf a bit and MithLuin humored me by letting me yammer about my thesis a bit).

6:30 came too soon! The party went on for a while after that, but Bobby and I had that almost three-hour trip to make again, plus animals waiting at home to go out and pee, plus work the next day with planning still undone (for me). It sucked, though, having to leave; we've decided we are definitely staying on-site for Mythmoot this year because, however nice it is to live in the hinterlands most of the time, it isn't cool when you're having fun with friends and have to leave early. We had to leave Pub Trivia early this year at Mythmoot in an attempt to beat a snowstorm home (and we barely made it).

The drive home (or the "home drive" as I just typed it) was less painful until we reached Westminster and drove into a storm. So the poor Goldens had to hold their pee even longer because, when the rain subsided enough for me to let them out, they pretty much did a U-turn on the patio and gave me ugly looks like I was crazy for sending them out in the first place.

Speaking of Goldens ... today is Phil's birthday. He is seven. They're aging too fast ... So, for the next two months, until Alex turns eight, they will not be the Goldens but the Sevens.*

*They are Goldens and not dogs in the first place because, in the wilds of my imagination where most of the beings and objects of importance in my life are not only personified but characterized, then the Goldens take great umbrage at being known as dogs, a species they regularly rail against (sometimes including threats involving antifreeze).

I just downloaded a bunch of pictures of the Sevens off of our camera, but Photobucket is being a witch-with-a-capital-B and took just about forever to upload just two pictures of Phil. So those two pictures will have to suffice for now. They are really cute pictures, though.

The Little One on His Birthday! )
I've been in Ocean City all this week (hence I'm quieter than usual, i.e., pretty much silent except for handling site-related stuff), home last night. It was a beautiful week for the beach and, all in all, pretty nondescript, which is sometimes exactly what a vacation needs to be.

My parents came down with us for the first half of the week. I woke up Sunday morning, post-beestung nose, with diffuse facial swelling that made me look rather like a non-cute Avatar character: non-cute because, unfortunately, the swelling didn't also come with large luminous eyes and blue skin; I just looked puffy and weird. We left on Sunday and got into town around 1:30 and had the traditional arrival lunch at Piezano's, then headed for the beach. The temperatures this week were in the low 80s (~27C), sunny, but with a breeze off the ocean that kept the beach cool. Actually, at times, it was almost chilly.

A breeze off the sea is not good for surfing, though, as it flattens the waves. Poor Bobby has had awful surfing all week. More and pictures below the cut! )
As of yesterday, Bobby and I have been together for 18 years.

I have told the story before of how we got together at the ages of 14 (me) and just-barely-15 (him) at a dance at our nerdy math-science magnet school, so I won't repeat it now. Suffice to say that we have been together for well over half of our lives by now with no plans on changing that anytime soon. I am still as crazy about that man as I was the day in ninth grade that my best friend typed on my graphing calculator, "You are in love with Bobby," and I realized that I was (in teenage terms anyway!) indeed in love with Bobby.

I'm going to beg preemptive pardon for the cheesy sentimentality that follows ... I connect with Bobby as I never have with another human. He is both my best friend and the partner I've chosen to make my life with. I never thought I'd want to marry anyone. (I never thought anyone would want to marry me!) I test as 100% introvert, and since I work a job that requires me to be "on" socially for at least a few hours a day (my students don't let me off easily on that either!), then I need a break from people more often than not, and Bobby is the only person who doesn't count in that. I often tell him that he is just as good as being alone, which sounds awful, unless you know what it's like to live in an extremely introverted brain, and then you understand that it's actually the highest compliment I could pay. We are at the point where we often joke that there is a shared brain that floats between us because one of us will think something and the other will say it, or we will speak in unison. He has seen me at my worst and still manages to love me.

Our anniversary was pretty low-key but good all the same. We went to the farmer's market in the morning and for lunch at a local cafe, then had a bunch of errands to run that mostly involved procuring food for various animals. We went to the gym and to pick up our friend's dog, who we were watching yesterday. We both had chores to do in the afternoon, but we had a date that night: We went to a local Asian restaurant that serves great Malaysian food, then to the movies to see Maleficent (don't laugh! we both enjoyed it!), and then for ice cream at that Carroll County standard, Hoffman's. We went home and were supposed to have a firepit, but the wood was still damp from the rains earlier in the week, so the firepit was hella lame! Putting a votive candle in the firepit would have given an equivalent amount of light and warmth! But it was okay because, after our busy day, we were both yawning by then and went to bed pretty early. Bobby also wrote me a beautiful alliterative poem, which he read for me. It was a good day.

I have been meaning for a while to scan in some old photos from high school. Our anniversary was a good excuse to finally do that!

18 Years of Bobby and Dawn )
Cut for Discussion and Photos of My Bees, as Stinging Insects Aren't Everyone's Thing! )
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Welp, it's been a busy past few weekends, hence my relative silence here. Bobby and I have been spending most of our time outside, getting ready for planting season. Everything was crunched into April and the first few weeks of May (versus beginning in March) since we were under a blanket of snow for just about all of March. And last year, what with Bobby taking his Outdoor Emergency Care class for ski patrol and me physically unable to do much beyond moan and groan, we slacked off on things like weeding, so we have extra to do this year, since one thing weeds do very well is make more weeds and survive conditions that kills just about everything else living. (The latter attested by the number of plants we lost this winter: both blueberries, a holly bush, both rose trees, and the arborvitae, of course. We also have broadleaf evergreen shrub that is trying hard to live with some modest success after all the foliage on it dying this winter. But the dandelions are doing great! :)

Anyway, Mother's Day is the traditional planting day in central Maryland for tender plants, so true to tradition, we started to put our plants into the ground a week ago, which means that this week has been a lot of weeding, planting, fertilizing, mulching; weeding, planting, fertilizing, mulching; and so on. But everything is now in the ground and doing great.

I wish I could say the same for our bees. Bee-Talk Cut for Those Who Prefer to Avoid Bee-Talk :) )

We've also been busy socially, seeing friends on the weekend (sometimes accidentally! We went out for Indian on Friday, and I usually email our friends Tristan and Don to see if they want to meet us over there, but we decided to go so late that I didn't this time. But when we arrived, who had arrived only just shortly before us? So we got permission to combine our tables.) Last night, we hosted dinner for our parents as a belated Mother's Day dinner. We had a green salad, teriyaki chicken (asparagus quesadilla for me!), Bobby's incredible "island rice," grilled asparagus seasoned with that ubiquitous Maryland seasoning of Old Bay, and tres leche cake for dessert, topped with fresh strawberries and mango. Bobby made piña coladas and got the moms pretty soused. I was supposed to make strawberry ice cream, but every place we checked this weekend was sold out of local strawberries (Bobby had bought his for the cake earlier in the week), so I had to do vanilla instead.

We are dogsitting for our friend Dawn this weekend, so in addition to our two big dogs, we have her big black dog Duffy. And my inlaws, of course, brought their Great Pyrenees Bella, so the house was overrun with dogs. Big dogs.

More & Pictures below the Cut )
In other words, the backyard smells like poop. Presumably (hopefully?) that is because one of the neighboring farmers chose today's lovely weather for fertilizing the fields.

Yesterday, Bobby and I rode our bikes along the southern portion of the North Central Railroad trail. We rode over 14 miles (22.5 km), which sounds more impressive than it is, since the NCR trail, by virtue of being a rail trail, is pretty flat. We had never really ridden to the south before--I think we may have walked a short distance once--but found it really enjoyable, with lots of crossings of the Gunpowder River and high ridges. Bobby packed us a picnic lunch, which we ate on a grassy plot alongside the river: egg salad sandwiches on his homemade rye bread (the egg salad made delicious by the addition of his sweet pickle relish), blueberry chevre with crackers, a giant Mutsu apple that we shared, and snap pea snacks (which if you've never had are awesome). He even packed a small jug of "fruit salad": our favorite local shiraz. Good man! :D

We rode NCR about a year ago. Oh the difference a year makes. I was in such pain through the whole of it last year. Even getting on and off of my bike was hard. It hurt. Everything hurt. EVERYTHING. (I'm not exaggerating. It hurt to turn over in bed. It hurt to lay down; it hurt to move.) I constantly find myself thinking about what life was like a year ago and being so fecking grateful to be well again.

The trail, especially the southernmost part, was pretty crowded. I witnessed a head-on collision between a woman and a preteen girl; the woman was trying to pass some people walking--and the trail is not that wide!--it is as wide as would be needed for railroad tracks!--and appeared to swerve right in front of the girl. The woman messed up her bike and claimed to be fine and not upset but then implied blame of the girl by parting with a, "Just be careful next time!" while the poor, stricken girl looked at her father and insisted in a whisper, "She turned right in front of me!" I was directly behind the woman so I got to witness all of this excitement, whispered commentary included. The woman was already covered in grass, which led me to believe that was not her first fall of the day? (She'd come up silently to pass on my left at one point without signaling and startled me, so responsibility didn't seem to be a strong point.) Wow.

Today (the last day of spring break ... waaah ...) was potter-around-the-house day. Bobby is undertaking multiple masonry projects; he has already done a flagstone path in front of the house to match the tiled steps he did last year, he is expanding the front garden beds (to further our quest to have virtually no front lawn to mow; seriously, grass lawns are such a ridiculous waste of space!), and he is doing brick walls around the kitchen gardens in the back. My contributions are more meager: I turned the compost, dug the soil in half of the vegetable garden, and fertilized our newer evergreen shrubs. And I took pictures of some of the flowers in the yard. Whoopdedoo. Click the jump if you're interested.

Lots of Flowers, One of Phil )
Every few days, I think, "I should write in my journal about that!" but then never actually do. Although I'm not taking any classes right now, it's a busy time of the year in the House of Felagund, and I've been staying very loyal to my gym schedule. And I've been busy at work, with a large senior class this year and all of them in some form of jeopardy (usually related to HSAs), plus the after-school program. And trying to get the B2MeM ebook together. Anyway, I've been photographing things, so I'll at least share my photos and some updates will likely straggle along with those photos.

Pictures below the Cut ... )
We didn't think that we were going to make it to Ocean City this weekend. We got dug out from the big snow just fine (one of the good things about living in town limits: that we don't have to wait for county plows to make it to the side streets!), but the "snow showers" that were supposed to leave us with a dusting on Friday night got bumped up to a "winter weather advisory" with the possibility of another 6 inches/15 cm through Saturday afternoon. *headwall* Then, to add injury to insult, Bobby came down with this weird 24-hour virus that has been going around the school and had chills and fever for much of Friday. We didn't want to trust that it would run its course in 24 hours with him, so we held off on making reservations.

But Saturday morning, we woke up and Bobby was not only feeling better but the winter weather was actually downgraded for probably the first time this winter. (The winter weather advisory was cancelled everywhere but ... Carroll and northern Baltimore Counties. *sigh*) So Bobby made us a reservation, we grabbed some leftovers for lunch, and packed ourselves and the Goldens into the car. It started snowing lightly in the early afternoon and snowed the entire way down, until we were within a few miles of Ocean City, but the temperatures were several degrees above freezing, so it didn't stick to the roads. I had some final revisions to do on my paper, so these were done at 60 mph, while cruising down the highway. (Bobby was driving, not me. I can read and write just about anywhere, but not while driving!)

When we arrived, the weather was awful. It was raining with a fierce wind and about 38F/3C. We ended up staying at the Fenwick Inn because it was the only place Bobby could get a pet accommodation at the last minute. (The last time we stayed here, someone died in the pool, among other horrors!) We swore we wouldn't stay here again but such is the desperation to get away from the almost three feet of snow we have at home and see the ocean. And it's been nice; they've put a literal and figurative coat of paint on the place.

We went for a delicious and HUGE supper at Tequila Mockingbird, then headed back to the hotel to hang out in the pool and hot tub (which no one has died in this time, to the best of my knowledge). We went to bed ridiculously early; we were both exhausted. We woke in the small hours of the morning to Phil sitting on the other bed and barking at the air, then again a short while later when something went rolling across the floor overhead. (The restaurant is above us, so for all I know, someone dropped a cantaloupe.)

As miserable as was yesterday's weather was as beautiful as was today's. The skies were clear and the sun was beaming; it was a balmy 40F/4.5C but felt more like 50F/10C in the sun. Bliss. And there is no snow down here. It's like being on another planet.

We had lunch at The Shark on the Habor, which is an incredible restaurant in West OC set alongside the commercial harbor. They serve all local foods. I had southwestern sweet potato soup and a cauliflower "steak"; Bobby had the fisherman's stew and a crabcake sandwich. We stopped at the inlet on the way back and blew $10 in quarters in Marty's Playland, playing pinball and the two-player Deadstorm Pirates game that includes such lovely English translations as "Shoot that burly monster!" (Not as good as the infamous--but turned off this time--Ocean Hunters game, in which one is encouraged to "Aim the throat!" and "Aim the eye!" whilst fighting various monsters.) Then, back to the room to get the Goldens and take them for a turn on the Boardwalk.

At this point, we started taking pictures, so the rest goes below the cut. More and Pictures below the Cut! )
Well, the predicted snowstorm has hit with a vengeance. We are currently in a lull (Bobby told me the technical meteorological term for it but I forgot what it was), but it is expected to pick back up tonight. (ETA ... it is actually freezing rain again out, which SUCKS.) Bobby estimates that we have gotten about 16 inches (41 cm) so far. We could get 6 additional inches (15 cm) tonight. It is hard to estimate the depth because it has also been very windy, so the snow is drifted quite high in places. We also had quite a bit on the ground from the storm last week. I'll be interested to see what the NWS reports as our official snowfall totals.

Thank goodness the ice was finally out of the trees before this hit. That could have been a disaster. Or maybe I spoke too soon! The power just flickered. It is really windy outside right now.

Bobby took some pictures out in the yard when he went out to clear the front steps.

Pictures Featuring Goldens and Freyja and Snow beneath the Cut )

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