Thursday, October 29, 2009

Zombies, Lady Gaga, and Luigi

McKinney's in the Halloween spirit.

Today's Pub Thursday was complete with pumpkin carving contest, costume contest, and Halloween-themed snacks.

The studio got in the spirit and decorated their pods

Fish pumpkin complete with hook and worm

Blowfish pumpkin

The interactive producers' pumpkin: stemming from the constant request to "make it viral"

Spooky snacks

Lady Gaga and Boy George

The Mario Kart cast of characters

Barbie and Ken, complete with box

The Nationwide media team/pitcrew

H1N1 Virus

But nothing could compete with when the zombies and Michael arrived:

I heart my work.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Whole Lotta Happy

The traditional first anniversary gift is paper, so my gift to Lee this year was tickets to see Jamey Johnson at the NC State Fair. Lee loves Jamey Johnson and the tickets were cheapola AND I was excited to have an excuse to go to the fair.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking:

No State Fair recap is complete without a list of the food eaten. We consumed:

- A footlong hotdog

- A bloomin’ onion

- A bag of cinnamon sugar mini-donuts

- Nachos

- A giant lemonade

- A slice of pizza

- A bag of Kettle Korn to go

I wanted to try the frozen cheesecake on a stick and the deep fried Oreos, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Our best purchase was definitely the mini-donuts. We were ECSTATIC to find them. They were JUST like the Doughnut Man, a la La Grange Christian Church Bible School. I wish I had another bag right now. It just might be worth the $5 admission fee to go back in, get some more donuts, and leave.

I'm not even kidding.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls

After our Outer Banks trip for our anniversary, we waited a whole 5 days before heading to the opposite end of the state last weekend for a camping trip. Literally, from one end of the state to the other in one week.

A while back, we planned said camping trip one drunken night with our dear friends Chrissy and Mike. I woke up the next morning and said, “we’re not really going camping are we? That was just drunk talk wasn’t it?” Nope. It wasn’t. They still wanted to go so we set the date.

Lee and I left bright and early Friday morning. The drive was beautiful, as the further west we got, the more colorful the leaves were. We even saw a baby bear cub galloping along the side of the highway. So cute! Especially from the safety of the truck. I was hopeful that this would be the only bear encounter of the trip.

We checked into Davidson River campground near Brevard/Asheville and set up camp. We took Sugar along with us and she was in hog dog heaven. She loved being outdoors and spending every waking (and sleeping) minute with us.

Friday afternoon was a quick hike and a trip to the visitors center to pick up some trail maps. Friday night was hotdogs on the campfire. Chrissy and Mike arrived late Friday night and after they set up their tent we called it a night to rest up for Saturday.

We knew it was going to be a COLD weekend, especially at night, but our sleeping strategy on Friday night was NOT a good one. I shivered almost the entire night. Sugar decided that she was going to sleep in between us on the air mattress. (This is a dog who sleeps outside and only comes in the house on occasion.) But the dog is like a FURNACE so I was thankful to snuggle up and use her as my own personal space heater.

We slept in on Saturday morning and Lee cooked bacon, eggs and biscuits for breakfast. We went for a long hike in the morning and then decided to go waterfall hunting in the afternoon.

Our first stop was Looking Glass Falls. It’s a beautiful waterfall, but you literally drive right up to it, so there were a million people there. Sugar was hyper-excited and we had a hard time keeping her from jumping on every person and dog in sight. We all agreed that we like waterfalls that require a little work to get to, so they’re a little more private.

That’s when we decided to go to Courthouse Falls.

You know how sometimes on trips you have experiences where you think “man this was a bad idea?” but it’s too late to change your mind and your husband is about to drive you off the side of the mountain and you keep thinking that you’re lost and somehow it’s always those experiences that make everyone crazy with laughter and it ends up being the best part of the trip and you know that’s the only part you’ll remember 10 years from now? Yeah, that was Courthouse Falls.

I had a brochure of waterfalls in the area. We were following the directions to Courthouse falls. The directions were really simple, like “turn left here and go 8 miles and turn right here and go 6 miles and then just after the creek crossing is the trailhead.” How hard could that be right? Well what the brochure neglected to mention was that 90% of the drive was a Forest Service road, which essentially means “a narrow one-lane gravel road up the side of a mountain.” So we’re lumbering along, up and up and up the mountain and Lee is going way too fast and I keep telling him to slow down, what if there’s a car coming! And we’re looking down the very steep side of a mountain, down to what is sure to be our death.

And we keep thinking we’re lost, like “this totally cannot be right” until magically the directions make sense every time we’re about to give up hope and just beyond a small concrete bridge there IS a gravel road on the left.

But we pass a Christmas tree farm nestled into the mountain and it’s so cute that Chrissy and I demand the truck be stopped so we can take pictures. And then it’s SNOWING. These big fat white flakes on the backdrop of fall leaves of every color. And everyone is smiling at the incredibleness of it all. And finally we get to the trailhead and pile out and Sugar doesn’t have to be on her leash because there’s not another soul in sight and she's LOVING IT.

And we hike the half mile to the waterfall and it’s BEAUTIFUL. It’s not even any more beautiful than Looking Glass, but it IS, because we worked hard to get there and it’s ALL OURS, nobody else’s. And the dog immediately jumps in the water (did I mention it was just snowing?) but she’s frolicking away like it’s 80 degrees outside instead of 35.

We got some priceless pictures. No random strangers in these shots like the ones at Looking Glass.

On the way home we cheated and went to Wal-Mart, where Lee bought a sleeping bag that actually has a working zipper. (Not that I can say much. My sleeping bag was the black one with neon splatters all over it and a hot pink liner a la 5th grade Miss Summer Sleepover. Oh you know the one.)

We cooked a delicious meal Saturday night - steaks, baked potatoes, pasta salad and of course s'mores for dessert. Wine + beer + whiskey + fellowship around the campfire = happy and sleepy campers.

Saturday night was about 10 degrees colder than Friday night, but we were better prepared (and wore more clothes) so things weren't nearly as shivery.

Sunday morning was another delicious breakfast of sausage and cinnamon rolls. Then we packed up camp and made our way home.

Sugar is just now getting over her depression of being back home. She was hoping we would live there forever. It was a fun trip, but that will not be happening any time soon.

Lee at Looking Glass Falls

Me at Looking Glass

Christmas Tree Farm

Mike in the river at Courthouse Falls

Sugar shaking off after her romp in the freezing water

Hello. My name is Sugar and I love camping.

Courthouse Falls

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Outer Banks Trip - Part 2

Saturday, we headed north to Corolla to see the Currituck Beach lighthouse.

We explored the area some and went to the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education. Of all the museumy things we went to on our trip, this one was our favorite. Lee had fun looking at all of the duck decoys.

On the way back, we stopped in Duck for lunch at a pizza joint named Waves. It was a tiny shop, right on the sound. It was so nice and relaxing to eat our slices and drink our beer out on the deck overlooking the water.

Up next was Jockey's Ridge. I had never been there and have to say it was pretty cool. The pictures I took really don't do justice to the amount of SAND and the experience of being there.

On Sunday morning, we packed up and checked out of the hotel. We stopped in Manteo at the Roanoke Festival Park on our way home. They have a replica of the Elizabeth II ship and of a colonial settlement site. It was pretty neat but we were ready to get on the road and head home (and to see Sugar!).

All in all it was a great trip and the perfect way to celebrate our first year of marriage.

I'll leave you with one last shot of the beach. Wishing I were there right now...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Outer Banks Trip - Intermission

{This story deserves its own post.}

I knew as we were driving up the Outer Banks on Friday that I wanted to stop in Rodanthe and see the Serendipity House that was used in the movie Nights in Rodanthe.

Although we didn't know exactly where it was, we finally found it. You can see it from the road and there were several cars pulled off on the side of the road.

I commanded Lee to pull over.

He did.

Right into a three-foot pile of the softest sand you've ever seen.

We got stuck.

Lee was not happy.

Of course I felt terrible, being that he didn't want to pull over to see the stupid house in the first place. Not to mention the fact that I made him suffer through the movie two months ago (so that we could see the house on our Outer Banks trip) and he hated every minute of it.

Anyway, we're stuck. And cars are whizzing by and Lee is digging and letting air pressure out of the tires and putting plywood behind the tires (we weren't the first to get stuck evidently, thus the plywood lying around). And of course all I'm thinking is 'this is going to be a good blog post I better take a picture.'

Oh, and did I mention that these are Lee's THREE DAY OLD, brand spankin' new, very expensive tires?? Oh yes ma'am.

The first kind soul who stopped to help us suggested letting air out of the tires. Been there, done that buddy. She's not budging.

Then an angel in a bright yellow pickup truck stops by. "I got a chain -- ya want me to pull ya?" Bing bang boom, the truck is unstuck.

We were only out there stranded for probably 10 minutes total. It could have been much worse.

Of course after we were unstuck I marched my happy ass over that dune to the house. We did NOT just go through all of that for me to not get my pictures. Oh no sir.

So. You better enjoy these:

The house is literally falling into the ocean (this was low tide). The owners are trying to fix it up to rent it out though -- I'd be very skeptical.

To be honest, it was a little disappointing. Seeing as in the movie it looked like this:

Warner Bros. added a wrap-around porch/deck, the steps leading into the ocean, and the blue shutters, then took it all away when the filming was over.

Anywho, Lee's still unhappy about the whole incident. "Now do you see why I need a truck with 4-wheel drive?!" He can't stand the fact that he got into a situation he couldn't get himself out of and we had to rely on someone else to help us. He said the last time a truck pissed him off and left him stranded, it was up for sale the next day.

"This thing's going on Craigslist on Monday."

"Oh no sir it's not. We just put new tires on that bad boy."

He's cooled his jets for now, but you can bet his next truck will have 4-wheel drive.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Outer Banks Trip - Part 1

To celebrate our anniversary, Lee and I planned a long weekend at the Outer Banks. I hadn't been there since I was a little girl, and I don't remember much from that trip, so I was excited to go and do all of the touristy sight-seeing stuff.

(In an effort to avoid one long rambling post, I'm going to break our trip up into a few shorter posts.)

We took Friday off from work and headed to the beach on Thursday night, after dropping Sugar off with the babysitter (aka my parents). We stayed in Beaufort at Lee's family's house Thursday night. We had to leave the beach at 6am Friday morning to drive to Cedar Island to catch the ferry at 7am. We got to the ferry just as the sun was rising. If I have ever been up and outside early enough to see the sun rise, I do not remember it. It was pretty though.

The first ferry ride -- Cedar Island to Ocracoke -- was about 2.5 hours. We slept most of the time, due to the 5am wakeup, but I did get this contemplative shot of Lee:

We wandered around Ocracoke for about an hour and took some pics at the lighthouse:

We had lunch at Howard's Pub and then made our way to the end of the island to catch the ferry to Hatteras. We were trying to make the noon ferry, because there was really nothing left to see and do in Ocracoke for another whole hour. But we ran into construction on the way there and pulled up to see the ferry pulling away. Lee said bad words and slammed doors. I just laughed because of course that would happen to us.

But instead of running only every hour, the ferries were running every half hour because of all the construction trucks going back and forth. So within 10 minutes another ferry had arrived. All was well and we made our way over to Hatteras.

Our plan for Friday was to make our way from Beaufort to Nags Head (where our hotel was), taking our time and stopping along the way to see the sights. Just driving all the way up Highway 12 along the waterfront was one of the best parts of the experience (and the weather was perfect).

In Hatteras, we stopped at the Graveyard of the Atlantic museum and then the lighthouse.

Then I made Lee stop on the side of the road so I could take a picture of all of the kite surfers. It was so fascinating and beautiful to watch.

Next was Bodie Island lighthouse.

Finally, after a long day of ferries, driving, museums and lighthouses, our final stop before heading to the hotel was ... BREW THRU.

Going to a Brew Thru was one of the only things I remember from our family vacation to the Outer Banks so many years ago. It's basically a drive-thru convenience store, but Erin and I thought it was the coolest.thing.ever.

After stocking up on beer (they even had a lime for Lee's Coronas), we checked into our hotel in Nags Head to rest for a bit.

Then we got ready and went to dinner at Basnight's Lone Cedar Cafe on the waterfront. It was off the charts good. We got the crab dip, which turned out to be the best crab dip in the history of food. I ordered the seafood pasta (shrimp, scallops, and sundried tomatoes in a wine sauce) and a wedge salad with blue cheese, tomatoes, bacon and ranch dressing. I mean COME ON. Is that not the absolute perfect meal for me?

Ok, I'll leave your mouth watering and be back tomorrow with Part 2 of our trip.
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