Monday, July 29, 2013

Wedding in Minneapolis

After returning from two weeks in Hudson, QC, Canada; I quickly unpacked my suitcase Thursday night and packed a weekend backpack for my cousin's wedding in Minneapolis.

I went up to LaCrosse with my parents on Friday night and we stayed at my brother's college house.  We drove the remaining hours to Minneapolis on Saturday morning, bringing Luke with us.

The wedding was held in a Norwegian church, as the bride is from Norway.


Luke and the sister played music (piano and violin, respectively) for the wedding:



The reception afterwards was on the shore of Lake Minnetonka.  Rather than clinking glasses to make the newlyweds kiss, attendees could go up to the mic and sing any song with the word "love" in it.  Papa and I kicked it off by singing the "I love you" song from Barney.


The family of this cousin mostly resides in Wausau and Green Bay, so it was really great to see everyone.  I always love hanging out with these relatives.

I tuckered myself out from dancing on Saturday night, and felt extra exhausted on Sunday by the time we drove back and I got dropped off in Madison.  Was definitely due to being on the go and traveling for weeks.

Fun wedding though!  The last wedding I went to was my aunt and uncle's wedding my sophomore year of college, so five years ago?  I haven't been to any friends' weddings yet.  I'm unfortunately missing one in September, as I'll be out of the country, so I wonder whose will be next.  Vamos a ver.
• • •

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Thankful Thursday: 7/25/13

[Thankful Thursday is a weekly segment that began 1/10/13 - read why here.  I invite you to join me in practicing gratitude!]



As Max dropped me off at the airport today he said, "If you're so sad to be leaving, it must mean that you had a really good time though, right?"  

And he is right.  So although I have a heavy heart right now, I'm grateful that I was able to interrupt our ten month separation with a two week visit -- including a week with Max and Herm.  I'm thankful to have such wonderful worldly friends, and to have become even closer to Hannah through this trip to her hometown.  Hannah and I have done plenty of gchatting, sent many emails, and have done our share of hanging out on G+ (video chatting) since I left Madrid last fall, but there's always the chance that when you see someone again face to face, things could feel different.  I'm so glad that I only had good feelings while spending time with Hannah in person once again.  It only reaffirmed our friendship, and reminded me why I love my bff so much.

A huge thank you to Hannah, Herm, Max, Hannah's whole family, Hannah's boss & coworkers, and Hannah's Hudson friends for making this visit so wonderful.
• • •

Thursday: Hasta luego, Hudson

Leaving Hudson on Thursday was quite sad.  I had to say goodbye to Hannah in the morning when I dropped her off late for work (She's an invited coach at Fruit Bowl!), so it was brief.  Then back at the house for the rest of the morning, everything I looked at reminded me of Hannah (duh, I'm in her house!), so that made it difficult to try to push it out of my mind.

Max drove me to the airport in Montreal using Hannah's car.  It was nice that Max was the one to drive me there, because I got to say "See you soon" instead of goodbye, since Max will be visiting me in Madison come Monday.




Once I got to the Cleveland airport, I found out my flight back to Madison was delayed two hours.  I already had over an hour's layover originally, so now I had multiple hours to kill as I sat in limbo.

Miraculously the Cleveland airport has free wifi, so I got to work on some blog posts and photo uploading as I waited!

About a half an hour before our new delayed boarding time, they announced that all passengers on the flight to Madison could come pick up a $5 food voucher.  Score!  I went to subway and brought a sub and muffin with me on the plane for dinner.

As we finally boarded the plane, everyone was handed a coupon packet from United Airlines.  Its contents?  10% off your next United flight and a beverage voucher -- good for one alcoholic beverage in flight.  Double score!



I cashed in the beverage coupon during the short flight back to Madison on a glass mini bottle of red wine with my dessert.

• • •

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wednesday: Sail numbers and grilling out

On Wednesday morning I stopped in at Hudson's thrift shop and bought a $5 dress for my cousin's wedding this weekend.  A good find!

I went to work with Hannah in the afternoon of my last full day in Hudson.  It was extremely windy and chilly, so we actually didn't go sailing when I was there.  The kids worked on a poster of the sailing flags in preparation for their regatta (Fruit Bowl) coming up that weekend.  Hannah and I worked on cutting out and attaching numbers to each of her kids' sails.

It took more time than I thought, since there are all of these rules about distance between numbers, distance from edge of sail to the first number, etc.  We were continuously measuring with a ruler and pencil.  Also, these numbers are permanent, permanent -- so they needed to be put on neatly.  We finished three of the four sails that afternoon.



That night Hannah had some high school friends over for a barbecue.  I think six people came, so we were ten people total.

A few times during the night I would catch myself thinking about the fact that I would be leaving tomorrow, but I'd have to shove the thoughts out of my head to keep composed.
• • •

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Olympic Day at junior sailing

It's a tradition with Hannah's summer junior sailing program to always have an Olympic Day.  The different groups each pick a country to represent (or in one team's case, a state -- Hawaii).  They wear costumes and decorate their boats, walk in a parade around the club, and then compete in various competitions throughout the morning.  They bring along foods to represent their chosen country, which turns into a big potluck for lunch.  In the afternoon they have some races out on the water.  All of the elements are scored, and the team with the highest score wins.

I guess the coaches have a history of wearing white long-sleeve button down shirts with ties.



Costume/boat/bribe judging

One of the scoring categories is actually "bribes"; the kids get points for bringing bribes to the instructors.  Here's just one of the bribes that Hannah received, filled with cookies, chocolates, and other sweets:



And here are a few of the teams in front of their boats with costumes.

Hawaii


Jamaica


Sweden


Japan

Check out one of Japan's bribes: sushi made of rice krispy treats and fruit roll ups! Creative! (They brought real sushi for lunch...)



After the boat/costume/bribe judging, the kids paraded around the club to show off their costumes and their sailing pride.



Morning games

The first game was the obstacle course, which included the obstacles pictured below:

I can't believe more kids didn't get injured, to tell you the truth.  I helped Hannah count the kids' spins (bottom right) in one of the last obstacles.  They had to spin around 15 times before finishing the race.

Next up, bobbing for apples... out of a sailboat, claro!



And then limbo:

Followed by dolly races, two teams of two competing against each other per race.


The classic tug of war:

And last but not least, some weird game with a watermelon covered in slippery lard, thrown into the lake. The teams had to try to hold on to the watermelon in the water for as long as they could.


Here's one of the instructors with the day's score board to keep track of points.


Lunch

Hannah and I ate at home for lunch, since we weren't sure if there would be enough food for all of the kids, but here's what the different countries brought:


Afternoon sailing

After lunch all of the junior sailors had some races out on the lake.

There wasn't time for the awards ceremony that afternoon, but on Wednesday it was announced that the first place winner  was...


... Japan!  (Hannah's kids)
• • •

Tuesday: Sailing, ultimate, and a pub

I went to work with Hannah for the whole day today because it was Olympic Day!  Check out all of the Olympic Day activities here.


After work we drove to downtown Montreal for one of Hannah's ultimate games.  This is the higher-level team and they were short their male captain, so Hermann got to play.  It was a long game -- everyone played hard, and it was fun to watch.  Hannah's team won!

Half time

Afterwards we met up with one of Hannah's friends in a pub downtown.  I had some samosas for dinner.  Oh, and our waitress was from Michigan.
• • •

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday: Poutine and Caesars

Today Hannah met us for lunch at Suave for some poutine - a popular dish in Canada consisting of french fries and cheese curds covered in gravy.



After Hannah finished work that afternoon, we went grocery shopping and did some errands/housekeeping.  Hannah picked up the mail from the post office (no mail boxes in Hudson -- everyone's got a box with key at the post office) and Herm watered the plants!



That night Hannah made us Caesars, which are like a Bloody Marys but using Clamato juice instead.  Clamato is a mix of tomato juice and clam broth.  Caesars generally contain vodka, Clamato, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and celery salt -- with a celery stalk sticking out.  We forgot to buy celery at the grocery store, but the drinks were surprisingly delicious. (I had doubted the clam broth...)


We somehow got roped into playing Monopoly (Canadian version, obviously), which Hannah and I are clearly not fans of:



The boys were the ones excited to play, so it was ironic that Hannah and I owned them.


We made fajitas for dinner, then played a bit more Monopoly until it was time for bed.

• • •

Crossing the Canadian Border

After the afternoon sail with Hannah's parents, we drove back to Hudson, QC.  We hit a bit of a line when we got to the NY / Canada border, which I'd forgotten about.  But it makes sense, on a Sunday evening.


As we inched up in line, I glanced behind me and saw a "Welcome to New York" sign on the other side of the street.  We weren't going anywhere, so I used the opportunity to take a confusing photo.  You can see the line of cars on the left side of the photo, waiting to get back into Canada.



Hannah was driving, but she would occasionally jump out to throw with Herm and I in the other lane (no cars were coming to NY from Canada).

Meanwhile Max comfortably? read in the car.



... nearly there!

Crossing back to Canada was a lot easier than when we crossed to the USA on Friday night.  Again, Herm collected everyone's passports as we neared the window.  We made sure to have all of them this time!  

Imagine our surprise when the Canadian border patrol guy tells us we only had three passports.  I know.  Herm found the fourth on the floor of the passenger seat -- again!  How this happened twice, I still have no idea.  

But anyway, he asked Hannah some questions in French.  She answered and spoke on behalf of all of us.  He returned all four of our passports and we drove on through!
• • •

Summer in Vermont: Sunday Sail

After breakfast on Sunday, we cleaned up the house and started packing up our things.  After a visit with Hannah's grandma, we were back on the road - to New York.  We met Hannah's parents to go for a sail on Lake Champlain, which lies between Vermont and New York.  Her parents had been living out on the boat for a few weeks: summer vacation.

Since I never got to go sailing with Hannah in Spain, I had added that item to my life list back when I started Rebe With a Clause.  I'm happy to report that it has now been checked off!



We took two trips from the dock out to the 42' sail boat, since we were so many people.



Once aboard and away from the port, Hannah and her dad helped teach Hermann and Max how to steer the sailboat.



We had some lunch, then swung off the boat by a rope and jumped in for a swim!  I wore a life jacket; big lake waves/currents are scary.

We sat down and had some dessert after the swim.  Hannah's mom pulled out some old summer journals that Hannah and her sister had illustrated back when they spent their elementary summers out on the boat.  Her mom would write daily detailed entries, and the girls took turns drawing related pictures on the left-hand side.


I thought it was a really great idea - a wonderful way to savor those memories.  Especially when you're spending so many consecutive days in one place, out on the water, those journals must have really helped to differentiate the days.

Before long, the sun was much lower in the sky, and it was time to head back to shore so we could drive back to Hudson, QC. 


Thank you Hannah and family for that afternoon of sailing! 
• • •

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Summer in Vermont: Saturday

After a long night of travel and border crossing, we were excited to explore the area on Saturday.  A 15-20 minute drive after breakfast got us to the Ben & Jerry's factory in Waterbury.

Ben & Jerry's

We took some obligatory photos -- don't you think we'd make great ice cream tub artwork?


We took the tour ($4), which maybe lasted 30 minutes total.  It ended with an ice cream sample in the FlavoRoom.  There was a sign up on the counter that read "Flavor of the day: Cheese and Broccoli".  Yuck!  I was so disappointed when I saw it.


Turns out our sneaky tour guide had played a trick on us.  The actual flavor that day was salted caramel - or something of the sort.  It was goooood.  They put the ice cream samples in a larger version of the condiment cup (where you squirt ketchup into at a fast food restaurant) -- which I thought was quite genius: no spoons necessary!

After the tour, these three hooligans bought some ice cream and had fun eating it:


Just outside of the factory entrance, there was an arts/crafts booth set up for kids.  You squirt paint onto a spinning card, creating neat designs.  When we initially walked up to the factory, I knew I would have to come back to that booth before we left.

So on the way out, I waited in line behind some six-year-olds so I could make a card.  Max made one too!


Trapp Family Lodge Brewery

Our next stop was the nearby Trapp Family Lodge Brewery.  If you've never seen The Sound of Music, stop reading and go watch it now.  Or at least place a hold for it at your local library.  Ok, resume reading.

The von Trapps actually settled in Stowe, Vermont after fleeing Austria and touring the USA, because the mountains reminded them of home.

We stopped at the Brewery for a drink, and 29-year-old European resident Hermann learned that you must have an ID with you in the states in order to be served alcohol.  Luckily Hannah found his passport out in the car, so he could have a beer with us.



"Mini Putt"

After leaving the brewery, we went to a mini-golf place -- which by the way, the game is called "mini putt" by Québécois.  

On holes 13 and 18, you won a free game of mini golf if you got a hole in one.  I was doing pretty terribly for the first half of our game.  On hole 13 one of the boys went first, and actually got pretty close to the hole.  Then Hannah went, and she wasn't far either.  The other boy went next, and I thought he almost had a hole in one.  Then it was my turn.  I knew there was a slim chance I'd make it in, so I just kind of swung at the ball without really taking time to line up or look at the hole.  My ball made its way down the course, over a hump, curving, coming near the hole, coming closer, oh my gosh it's headed right in, IT'S IN!  Hole in one!  Free game!  I can still hardly believe it happened. 

We were right by the window where we bought tickets, so I hopped over to see if I needed to do anything right away, or if we waited until the end of the game to claim my free game.  I got the young worker's attention, "Um, hello?"  He walks over.  He's a bit of an oddball character, by the way.  "I just got a hole in one on hole 13," I explained.
He replied, "Well I just beat the whole game.  The course record was 39, but I got 37".
I responded, "Wow, when did you do that?"
"This morning," he replied.
Uh cool, but let's not forget about what I just did!  Hole in one!  This is about me, me!

He told me to come back at the end to get my free game.  It was a coupon, so I gave it to a couple that pulled into the lot just as we were leaving.

We spent the evening back at the house, grilled out, ate way too much food, drank some Canadian beer, and played some card games.
• • •