fantastic friday: virginia

Another relaxing day.  This was the first time that the humidity was not oppressive and it was actually pleasant to be outside.  Alisha was going to make us some Thai soup and so we made another run to Whole Foods.  On our way home we stopped by Sam’s parents house so we could meet her family.  Her dad was on his way out so we didn’t really get to meet him, but we saw her mom and some of her siblings (she has 6).

When we got back to the house I agreed to learn a new game, Lords of Waterdeep.  Yup, I really love it, Jason was right.  David had a bus to catch at 5 and so it was a little bittersweet.  We had talked about taking the metro again but ultimately decided against it.  Taylor drove us and we hit traffic not far from the exit.  We had planned on getting out to give hugs and linger a little but David had to run to the station and gave us all a hurried goodbye.  Then there were 7.

The rest of the day was spent just hanging out, eating, and playing games.  I know I was a little anxious about the visit, not really knowing any of the people.  But I’m so glad I tagged along and got to experience all these adventures.  I do like Virginia and the people here and wouldn’t mind another visit, though probably more in the Fall or Spring so as to avoid some of the humidity.

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in which i get a massage

Sam, Indy, and I decided to visit a spa and let the guys fend for themselves for a few hours.  We had done some research and I found a place called Massage Envy were first time clients could get their massage for a reduced rate.  It was by far the cheapest option and so we made our app’ts for 11 and 11:30.  Sam and I had never had a professional massage before but Indy had gone to quite a few and so was able to give us a few tips.

We arrived 15 minutes early to fill out paperwork and get a quick rundown of our massages.  Indy and I were seen first and each taken to our massage rooms.  The room had low lighting and soft music playing.  My massage therapist, Anna, explained how the 50 minute massage would work and asked what areas gave me the most trouble.  She let me get ready and then started with my scalp.  I think I easily could have fallen asleep during the massage.  The bed was slightly heated and it was all so relaxing.

After the session was over, Anna walked me to the lobby where the bright lighting was a shock after the low lighting and darker tones of the massage area.  Indy and I waited for Sam to finish.  Sam and her massage therapist were laughing and Sam was apologizing as she came into the lobby.  She explained that when her therapist was showing her the door out, she thought she was opening her arms for a hug and so she gave her therapist a hug.  We all had a laugh about it as we headed back to the house.

The guys were playing games.  We lounged around for most of the afternoon until Indy converted her Norwegian recipe lapskaus, a beef stew, from the metric system.  We girls made a run to Whole Foods to pick up the supplies, and while Indy slaved away in the kitchen, the rest of us played more games.   We had thought about going to a ballroom dancing class in the evening but the weather was stormy and we were all tired.  I ate my chili and the rest ate Indy’s stew and then we hung out and, yes that’s right, played more games.  I started to learn a new game but then realized how tired I was and actually went to bed before 2am.

hey, it’s the atlantic

So we left at 2:30 in the morning in order to get to the beach in time to see the sunrise at around 6:30.  We got there about 5:30 and made our way to the dark beach.  Because it is so humid here, it was quite pleasant, despite the early hour.  We (or rather just about everyone else) frolicked on the beach while awaiting the sun.  There’s something magical about being awake before the sun, to see it make its first appearance.  It was especially magical seeing it over the ocean with the boardwalk and the city behind us, still asleep.  After the sun came up, we spent some time in the sand, David tried to build a castle that would stand up to the tide, making waterways that would hopefully divert and disperse the water.  Eventually we headed back to the car to drop off towels and change our shoes.  Then we decided to find breakfast.  We had found a place to eat about a mile from our location and made our way to it.  As we were walking, we were getting  more and more hungry and less and less inclined to walk that far.  We ended up stopping at the “Brass Balls Saloon/Bad Ass Cafe.”  Charming, right?  Anyway, the food was okay but we were happy to eat something and not walk in the relentless sun (funny how we now wished it would go away after just celebrating its return).  A few members of the group decided to go swimming in the ocean and the rest of us walked down the other direction of the boardwalk, finding excuses to go into stores for the air conditioning.  We ended up leaving around noon, all having had our fill of the ocean side.  I was really happy to finally see the Atlantic (I even got a bottle of sand and water as a keepsake) and feel it’s warm(er than the Pacific) water.

And now for a ton of pictures (remember, more pictures here):

it's a little blurry

it’s a little blurry

that's better

that’s better

sleeping boardwalk

sleeping boardwalk

first time touching the Atlantic

first time touching the Atlantic

patiently awaiting the sun

patiently awaiting the sun

there it is!

there it is!

magnificant

magnificant

greeting the sun

greeting the sun

building the castle

building the castle

enjoying the waves

enjoying the waves

almost done

almost done

my favorite shot of the day

my favorite shot of the day

remembering

remembering

our charming restaurant

our charming restaurant

tuckered out

tuckered out

that’s capitol

We spent a lot of time lounging around, playing games, checking up on social networking, email, etc.  I uploaded my pictures from the previous day and proceeded to friend everyone in the group on facebook.  We finally left the house mid-afternoon and discovered how humid it was, thankful we went and saw the monuments the day before.

We rode the metro into D.C. in our “fancy” clothing since we were planning on sitting in on a house of representatives meeting.  Fortunately, our metro station dropped us off right in front of Taylor’s dad’s office so we didn’t have to endure the humidity too much.  We entered another beautiful marble building and walked through the long hallway and up a spiral staircase.  Apparently when Jeff, Taylor’s dad, started his job and was trying to find his office, he was told that it doesn’t exist.  He’s also had at least one tour group walk in, not realizing it was an office.  He told us his plan for the afternoon, gave us visitor badges, and we were off.

All the buildings on Capitol Hill are connected by a series of tunnels that allow staff members to easily access them.  Jeff had advised that we not take purses and try to minimize the amount of stuff we carried to make it easier to move around.  We were all pretty hungry at that point and so he took us to the staff cafeteria, which was about to close for the day.  After finishing our meal, we made our way back towards the Capitol.

Throughout our walking tour we passed through a lot of the same rooms.  And rather than bore you with describing the places we saw, I’ll show you the pictures.

first view inside the Capitol

first view inside the Capitol

standing in the center of the crypt, a room below the Rotunda

standing in the center of the crypt, a room below the Rotunda

beautiful chandelier, a floor above the previous picture

beautiful chandelier, a floor above the previous picture

look, it's the Washington Monument!

look, it’s the Washington Monument!

Chris, the monster

Chris, the monster

and here we go around

and here we go around

and around

and around

the Rotunda, beautiful

the Rotunda, beautiful

and back to it

and back to it

hang in there

hang in there

yup, there's more

yup, there’s more

i really wanted you to get the full affect

i really wanted you to get the full affect

really feel like you're there, you know?

really feel like you’re there, you know?

you feeling it yet?

you feeling it yet?

almost there

almost there

and done

and done

pioneers of Women's Suffrage

pioneers of Women’s Suffrage

just an artsy shot

just an artsy shot

here's that chandelier closer up

here’s that chandelier closer up

the Rotunda as seen from the underground visitor's center

the Rotunda as seen from the underground visitor’s center

Statue of Freedom

Statue of Freedom

and from another angle

and from another angle

a tram for employees

a tram for employees

from outside, yes it was humid

from outside, yes it was humid

and there we are, mere feet from men with rifles.

and there we are, mere feet from men with rifles.

ah, so beautiful

ah, so beautiful

As before, you can see more pictures here.

After we got home and had dinner – the chili and cauliflower – Taylor and I got to work making the pies.  It was a little bit of a challenge since we didn’t have a big food processor, which is what I use to make the pie, but a little handheld one.  We figured out a good system and managed to make two yummy looking pies.  Because they were made from tofu we had to let them harden in the fridge before consuming.  After we finished, it was time to relax, play some games and just hang out before bed.

mindful monday: d.c.

We’re going back tomorrow specifically to see the Capitol.  Taylor’s dad works on Capitol Hill and is going to take us on a private tour of the building!  Today we went and saw the monuments and it was fantastic.  We also saw the Smithsonian, beautiful and full of really cool exhibits.  All the brick and marble is so beautiful, something that we on the West Coast don’t really have since it’s not exactly earthquake safe.  We saw the Washington monument, the WWII memorial,  the Vietnam memorial, and the Lincoln memorial.  I definitely got choked up during the Vietnam and Lincoln memorials.  To see all those names inscribed on the walls, and then to read the powerful words of Lincoln. . .it was heartbreaking and awe inspiring by turns.  There’s so much rich history here, not to mention lots of states squished together (full album here).

the beautiful Smithsonian

the beautiful Smithsonian

Washington Monument, unfortunately under construction and covered in scaffolding

Washington Monument, unfortunately under construction and covered in scaffolding

WWII Memorial

WWII Memorial

representation of those who died or went missing in WWII

a representation of those who died or went missing in WWII

the heartbreaking Vietnam Memorial

the heartbreaking Vietnam Memorial

the awe-inspiring Lincoln Memorial

the awe-inspiring Lincoln Memorial

********************************

Before returning to the house we made a stop at Safeway (well, me, really) and the ABC store (alcoholic beverage control, everybody else).  In Virginia hard liquor can only be bought at these stores, unlike California where we have them anywhere from Safeway to the little corner market.  I got supplies to make vegetarian chili, twice baked cauliflower, and a vegan chocolate mousse pie.  When we got home and after we had eaten the other food in the house and played some games (and everyone else proceeded to get drunk), Taylor and I started making the chili and cauliflower dish.  We ended up finishing around 2am, but I was happy to have the food completed so we could come back to the house the next night and not have to spend so much time cooking.

apparently paint balling and humidity don’t mix well

When I finally made my way downstairs, Indy was making eggs, cooked to order.  I got my own plate of scrambled and sat with the others as we each enjoyed our preferences.  While we waited for the rest to wake up and join us, we started playing a game called “Resistance,” a game of hidden identities where some were spies who tried to sabotage the plans of those in the resistance group.  David ended up being the spy quite a few times, creating the assumption that he was always the spy.

I called the airport baggage claim number to see if they were going to deliver our bag.  They let me know that they would call beforehand and that it should be anywhere from 4-6pm.  We wanted to go paintballing and so decided that gave us enough time.  We piled into the van, waited for the blessed a/c to cool us down, and were on our way.

About 45 minutes later we had arrived at the paintball fields.  We got our gear and paintballs and suited up.  It was another humid day and I was wearing double layers since I didn’t want to ruin my normal clothes.  Sam was gracious enough to let me borrow a pair of sweats and a sweatshirt to put over my clothes.  It was pretty miserable once I put the mask on.   We were informed of the safety rules by a staff member and made our way to the first paintball field we were going to wage war in.  The group was divided up, with the color of our team taped around our arm.

We split off into the groups and each made our way to our side of the field.  I had left my sunglasses on and was really starting to sweat, meaning that I couldn’t really see unless I tilted my head down to look over my glasses.  I tried to take the glasses off while still wearing the mask but it didn’t work.  I hid behind a nice barricade and finally made my way up the field, managing to avoid being shot.  A paintball bounced off the ground and hit my leg, but didn’t burst.  Another one hit me right between the knuckles of my right hand, but that one didn’t pop either.  I thought that was counted as a hit so I held up my gun and made my way to the base.

I found those of our group that were also out and told them what happened.  They let me know that it doesn’t count unless the ball breaks but that I might as well stick around since I had already surrendered.  I took the opportunity to take off my glasses and get a swig of water.  I could feel the heat radiating off my face and appreciated the cooler air that hit my face.  Not long after that the game ended and everyone that was left gathered in the base.  We were allowed to rest a bit before they instructed us on the next location.  Our team was downhill while the other team had a great advantage in being able to camp out on the top of the hill above us.  They also had better coverage, actual buildings to hide in, while we just had logs and some wooden barricades propped up along the hill.

Jason and I started together but he eventually had me cover him while he made is way further up the hill to another barricade not far from ours.  I tried to poke my head up long enough to shoot but I wasn’t sure if I hit anyone.  Someone else from our team, but not someone I knew joined me behind the barricade but he was bolder than me and soon was shot out.  I watched as David and then Sam slid down the hill next to me to join Indy (pretty cool moves, guys).  Not long before the game ended I got shot in the left hand and this time it did pop.

I again joined our group to await the next game.  We moved down to a different base and at first they were going to have us play capture the flag.  Eventually that idea was abandoned in favor of the location, which didn’t really lend itself to capture the flag.  Again our teams spread out, but this playing field was even.  It looked a set from a post-apocalyptic movie, an abandoned mini van sat in the middle, riddled with paint splatters, hollowed out buildings stood at attention on each side of the field, and the ground was barren.  This was the most involved game that I played.  I actually made it almost to the front of the line and didn’t go out.  But because of the heat I was starting to feel a bad headache coming on, despite the copious amounts of water I was drinking.  I decided to call it a day and hang out at the picnic benches to wait for the rest of the group.  Sam decided to join me as she was also getting a headache.  We made our way back to the entrance, returned our gear, I shed my extra layers of clothing and then got something to eat.  We chatted a bit before the rest of the group joined us.  Apparently there were too many people in the group and so they split them up even further.

The rest of the group dropped off their gear and we all loaded into the car, tired but content.  We had dinner and then headed home.

I had a raging headache and so took a two hour nap.  Fortunately my headache went away by the time Sam and Taylor were ready to go to Mass.  Jason and I joined them and we drove the 5 minutes to the campus church.  The building was beautiful, white, high-ceilinged, and open.  I would have loved to see it in the early morning light, with the sunlight filtering through the high windows.  We followed the service alright, with Sam pointing out the group readings when we couldn’t find them.  Jason and Taylor chose to receive the blessing while Sam and I stood back to let others line up.  I had been to a Mass before, a First Communion, but this was the first “normal” Mass service I had ever been to.  It was really beautiful.

Eventually, at about 11:20 our luggage arrived.  Yahoo!

sfo to dca

Our flight left at about 10:30am PST and we made a stop in San Diego where we didn’t get off since we were going on to Houston.  Our emcee flight attendant was hilarious, at one point letting us know that someone who had gotten off the plan at SFO had forgotten his wallet, and so asked that we check the pockets on the seats in front of us to see if it was there, and also to check for trash.  One of the passengers across the aisle from us leaned over and told me that he was just kidding about the wallet and it was his clever ploy to help them clean the plane.  He totally fooled me.  Jason and I spent most of the time listening to “A Storm of Swords” to pass the time.  I got the window seat down to San Diego.  When we landed in San Diego, and after the count was made for those of us staying on the plane, we got to move up to the front of the plane.  Jason took the window seat this time and we got an unobstructed view outside the window.  I think it was the first time I haven’t sat over the wing.

We had our layover in Houston for about two hours.  Being used to SFO I was surprised at how linear it was, it made it seem really small, being able to look to the end in both directions.  We ate at the Wendy’s in the food court and made our way to the terminal, only about a hundred yards away.  It wasn’t long until we were allowed to board the plane.  We were part of the “A group,” who gets to board after the wheelchair bound and the families with young children.  We got nice seats again and didn’t have to sit over the wing.

The light was fast fading and soon the ground was nothing but a blanket of black with some lights flung out in sparse patches.  As the plane circled D.C., I tried to pick out familiar landmarks.  I thought I had found the Washington Monument and the Capitol but couldn’t be sure.  We soon landed and shuffled out of the plane.  The first thing I noticed as I stepped onto the boarding arm was the humidity.  It was almost 11pm and it was oppressive.  I welcomed the air conditioning once we set foot in the airport.  It was strange to walk past the security section and not see lines of people waiting to walk through the metal detector in stocking or bare feet.  Everything seemed hushed in anticipation.  We made our way to the baggage claim to wait with everyone else for the great machine to take life and spit out our belongings.

As we waited, I thought I heard someone yell “Jazz” (a nickname I still find unsuited for Jason and don’t particularly care for).  It wasn’t until they changed it to “Jason” did they really get our attention.  They came over, hugged, officially introduced themselves and then stood with us to await the bags.  A few bags look very similar to ours and we almost grabbed them.  Finally one of the bags emerged and we knew the other should be close behind.  The machine kept moving but no bags were appearing.  Finally it shut off but we were still a bag short, the bag with all our clothes and my toiletries.  A airport staff member asked if we were missing a bag, and when we confirmed that we were, he had us follow him into the baggage claim office.  He took down our info and told us we could buy up to $50 worth to be reimbursed.  He gave us two toiletry bags and let us know that if our bag wasn’t delivered by the next day, we could call the airport and get approval to spend more than $50.  We rolled out to the car and made our way to WalMart.

Jason and I found acceptable clothing and only spent $33.  We hopped back into the car and made it to the house where the rest of the party was waiting.  Everyone else (and by that I mean Indy, who came all the way from New Zealand, and David who came from Canada) had already arrived.  We gathered in the kitchen and made introductions again.  Pizzas were in the oven and when they were ready I gratefully consumed two pieces.  We stayed up and chatted for some time before finally headed to bed.  Jason and I were lucky enough to get a room with an air mattress (Nick was relegated to the couch in the living room and David and Chris slept on cots in the basement).  We had made it to Virginia and, besides the missing bag, arrived in one piece.