Monday, June 28, 2010

Garage Sale and Father's Day

This post is a little late, but it feels like so much is happening these days that I should separate the weeks into different posts.  About two weeks ago I was busy helping a client with their first webinar while dog-sitting and working with Erin to prepare for a garage sale.  It combined to be more work than I expected, but everything worked out well in the end.  The webinar came off without too many problems, Smokey-dog was great fun to hang out with, and we ended up making some money from the garage sale.

The weekend was the busiest.  On Friday, after looking after Smokey, Erin and I started moving stuff to her parent's place in Greenwood Village for the garage sale.  We decided to have it there since they actually have a garage and we don't.  That night we met with our friends Laura and Jim for a nice pasta dinner and a game of miniature golf.  It was nice to catch up with them and putt around the course.  We tried to get to bed early though because of the sale the next day.

Saturday we planned to get up early, but overslept a little and so had to rush to get signs put out, get some breakfast, and get our stuff moved out of the garage.  In fact, there were people waiting when we got back from putting up the signs and stood around as we moved stuff out.  It was a bit awkward, but the day would hold more interesting characters (like a guy on a bike looking for almanacs).  I had to leave Erin at it for the second half as I went to take care of Smokey one last time before Reynold and Janet returned.  Getting back to her in the afternoon I saw many things had sold, but there was still some stuff that we needed to get rid of at Goodwill and try selling on Craigslist.  While we made some money from the endeavor it was certainly not worth all the effort.  We returned home exhausted and thinking we should limit the amount of stuff we get in the future.

Sunday was Father's Day and so we found ourselves back at Erins' parent's place to celebrate.  We had a great Vietnamese lunch before going out for a walk in Lakewood.  We finished by grilling up some chicken and eating outside.  It was a fun day which included lots of time playing with their dog, Dante.  As I got a chance to talk to my own dad on the phone I was appreciative of the things our dads do (both big and small) that give us the ability to live and enjoy the lives we have today.  Thank you Dad.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Back to Work

Erin and I have been back in Colorado for the past week and it has been a busy week.  Each day I have been going to my aunt and uncle's place in Littleton to look after their dog, Smokie.  Smokie is a nice dog to look after and has been eager to see me each day.  We've been on several walks, but I've still been able to do work while at Littleton including preparing for a webinar for one of my clients.  Erin and I also had a chance to have a delicious meal at our friend Andres' house.

Erin and I have also been busy with preparations for our move to Taiwan.  This week we're sending in our applications for our Taiwanese visas and preparing for a garage sale this weekend.  It seems there are a million more things that we need to do to get ready and still enjoy summer, so I'll leave this as a shorter post and get back to work.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New Jersey

For the last leg of our trip Erin and I were shown all around New Jersey by our friends Shawn and Stephanie.  We started on Friday by packing their car with camping gear and heading down to Cape May on the southern tip of the state.  We started off with a picnic at the lighthouse and a walk around the coastal marshes for some bird watching.  We continued with a walk along the beach looking for "Cape May Diamonds", pieces of glass that had been worn smooth by sand and tides.  After a while we sought out our campground and set up our tents before heading back into the city.  There we strolled the streets before having one of our best dinners at "Bank Street" with a marvelous array of seafood including soft-shell crab and a delicious ceviche.  Before long we returned to our campground to get some sleep.

The next day we packed up camp and headed back into town.  We had a delicious breakfast at the Mad Batter before spending some time out on the beach.  It was nice to lay around a bit with the sound of the waves in the background.  Next we strolled through the local "Strawberry Festival" which actually looked more like the town had a large yard sale since there were only two stalls that had any strawberries.  With that we left the sleepy town with its Victorian style houses stopping just briefly for ice cream in the next town over before heading back to Shawn and Stephanie's house.  After getting cleaned up we went out to meet some of their friends at a good, inexpensive Mexican food place called Cinco de Mayo.  It was so filling that we felt the urge to walk some of it off as we made our way to a martini bar.  It was very nice getting to know the friends Alicia and Byron over dinner and drinks.

On Sunday we slept in before driving with Stephanie up to Harrimon National Park in New York for some hiking.  While the trails were oftentimes difficult to understand (giving us a longer walk than intended) and a rain storm drenched us in the middle of our hike, the countryside was gorgeous and we had a wonderful time.  Getting back in time to get cleaned up we went out to dinner at another fancy restaurant that Stephanie used to work at.  The food was very good and we were feeling very satisfied.

Monday morning we got up early as Stephanie drove us to the airport.  We are very thankful to her and Shawn for the wonderful hospitality they provided us (just as we were thankful for the hospitality that Kevin and Amy showed us in Baltimore).  It was a great weekend and a great end to fantastic trip.  As we returned to Denver we were also thankful for Erin's mom who picked us up.  It allowed us to visit our friends Pete and Leah who were in Denver preparing for their own trip.  As they head out to Europe for a few weeks we're happy for them, but we're also very glad to be back in our own home and sleep in our own bed.

Monday, June 7, 2010

New York City

We arrived in New York City on Tuesday afternoon after a long, but uneventful bus ride from Baltimore.  As it was around noon when we got to our hotel, the Lucerne, we weren't able to check in so we had them hold our bags as we headed off to explore the city.  The subway took us down to Chinatown in the southern part of the city for a recommended thrifty lunch of dumplings.  For under $10 we were both able to get a sesame pork "pancake" and several pork dumplings at Paradise Dumplings.  It would be one of the least expensive meals of our trip.  After lunch we had decided to walk back to our hotel in the Upper West Side to see and experience the city.  It was a long walk, but we stopped occasionally, first at a tea place and then to go to the top of the Rockefeller Center.  The view from the "Top of the Rock" was impressive though we had hoped for more of an explanation of what we were looking at.  Back at our hotel we were able to get cleaned up and relax a little before going out to dinner.  We were able to find a nice Italian place with an attached jazz bar in the Village.  While the food was good it was the atmosphere that really sold us and made the night the most romantic we'd had on the trip.

On Wednesday we enjoyed sleeping in before heading out to breakfast at one of Erin's favorite cafes, The Grey Dog.  The french toast was delicious and gave us plenty of energy to walk around The Village where Erin had lived and spent much of her time while at NYU for grad school.  After that we were off to walk across the Brooklyn bridge.  It was a beautiful day for a walk and it was nice being able to see so much of the city.  On the other side of the bridge we had lunch at The River Cafe, a fancy though somewhat snooty cafe with a beautiful riverfront view of the city.  Back across the bridge and to our hotel we had just enough time to get ready before heading out to the theater.  We had decided to see "The 39 Steps" a somewhat-slapstick comedy based on an Alfred Hitchcock film by the same name.  It was very impressive the way four actors played the roles of over 100 different characters and how the arrangement of sparse stage elements conveyed the sense of a large array of locations.  After the show we had a satisfactory dinner of sushi before returning to our hotel.

For our final day in New York we had breakfast in the cafe attached to the hotel before checking out and heading to Central Park a few blocks away.  It was nice strolling through the park and enjoying the island of nature in a sea of city.  We were tired from all the walking though and it was nice to stop at the boathouse for drinks and a light lunch.  We did some more walking around afterwards and finished at a tribute to John Lennon.  Finally we returned to our hotel for our bags and started the hectic trip out of New York.  It didn't help that it was rush hour with everyone headed home, but we were finally able to get to Newark, NJ to meet up with our friends Stephanie and Shawn.  They took us to a wonderful Portugese restaurant with large portions of paella and sangria for dinner before heading back to their place in New Brunswick, NJ.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Baltimore & D.C.

Erin has been wanting to share New York with me as well as see her friends on the East Coast.  So on Friday night we I flew out to Baltimore with a layover in Dallas/Ft. Worth.  The layover went quickly as we had a glass of wine at the "first airport wine bar" in the country.  Even though we got in late Erin's sister and brother picked us up and drove us back to their beautiful townhouse in the city where we promptly went to sleep.

On Saturday we climbed up to Amy & Kevin's roof where we had breakfast on a deck.  It was a great view and we would enjoy many more meals up there.  We were soon ready to explore the city and walked out to Federal Hill and then along the back harbor.  It was a charming part of the city though there were plenty of crowds as well.  After walking for a while we came to a nice taco place where we got lunch and took to a nearby square.  After lunch we had "snowballs" a Baltimore treat we're told, which consists of shaved ice, marshmallow, and a flavored syrup.  After walking back to Kevin and Amy's place we took a short trip over to see Edgar Allen Poe's grave.  It was in a nice little burying ground by a church.  We then had some time to relax before getting some Thai food for dinner, again on the roof deck.  Then we were off to Illusion, a magic bar/lounge where $5 and a two drink minimum got us front-row seats to a very entertaining (though somewhat cheesy) magic show.  As we returned home past the crowds of late-night bar- and club-goers I was glad to be getting some rest.

On Sunday we started again with breakfast on the roof, but then drove downtown for the weekly Farmer's Market.  There was a wide variety of food and people so that we were each able to find something that we would enjoy later for lunch.  Erin even found a place where she could peddle a bike to mix up her smoothy.  We took these back to the house from where we started walking out to Ft. McHenry.  While not a short walk away I was pleasantly surprised at how it was possible to walk to so many things.  The Fort was famous for inspiring the National Anthem after surviving an attack by the British.  While we didn't go inside the fort we walked around the park that surrounded it and enjoyed a video highlighting the Star Spangled Banner.  We had time to relax again in the afternoon before driving to a suburb of Baltimore for dinner at a very fancy place called the Woodberry.  We felt so full upon returning that we took another walk up Federal Hill and around part of the harbor before heading back to play a board game.

Memorial Day found us up early and on our way in to Washington D.C.  While we saw some preparations for a parade there didn't seem to be too many people as we walked around the Mall.  As it had been a long time since either Erin or I had been there our walk took us by the main monuments and memorials: Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, Korean War Memorial, FDR Monument, Lincoln Monument, and Vietnam Memorial.  It ended up being a lot of walking on a very hot day so that by the time we got downtown for lunch at the Matchbox we were sorely in need of fluids and A/C.  We decided then to call it a day and headed back to Baltimore where Amy and Kevin made a delicious dinner and we got one last chance to enjoy their deck.

Today, as Amy and Kevin went off to work and school, respectively, they dropped us off at a bus station so we could get on a bus to New York.  It has been really nice staying with them and it will be good to see them again this summer one more time before we head out to Taiwan.  Baltimore has also turned out to be a fairly charming city with lots to do within walking distance.  The heat and the humidity are taking a little getting used to though.