Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Block Island

After a bit of a rough start (third time's the charm, right?) we ended up having a fantastic time on Block Island.  We enjoyed almost perfect weather all week long and unseasonably warm water.  Warm by New England standards anyway.  ('m so used to Gulf-of-Mexico-bath-water-temp-ocean that everything else feels cold to me.)

Here was our little beach cottage!  It was a quick bike ride into town and a twenty minute bike ride to the beach.  The cottage backed up to a nature preserve and bird sanctuary...nothing but green as far as the eyes could see.  (This pic was taken Sunday, our very last day, and it was foggy.) 

Charlestown Beach
We biked here when it was just the two of us but drove when we took Bailey.  We had the entire beach to ourselves!!  We think it's because daytrippers who come over on the ferry tend to stick with the city beach right at the harbor and this beach is further down the island.

Race Week was going on the entire time we were on the island.  If you squint really hard at the horizon in this pic, you can see lots of the sailboats.  (Or click on the picture to enlarge it and you can really see them.)

Bailey LOVED the beach!

I thought lots of fresh water would keep Bailey adequately cool in the hot sun but, as per usual, he had quite a different idea in mind.  He would dig and dig until he got to the cool sand underneath and then lay in the hole.  When that hole was no longer cool enough...he would dig some more.  This meant he ate a lot of sand.  :/

And our towels always ended up looking like this.  Oh well!  At least he didn't drink too much ocean water.

We went for a hike along the bluffs, this was a picture looking down at the beach.

You can't tell from the angle, but we're actually leaning back, ever so carefully, over the edge of this cliff. Oh the things we'll do to take a fun picture!

The hydrangeas on the island were INCREDIBLE!  Like, over-the-top gorgeous.  We saw tons of blue ones like these and quite a few purple ones too.  Just amazing.  I obsessed over them all week.  :)

We biked down to Vail Beach...lots of pretty rocks.

The owner of our cottage (who lives next door) offered us their beach umbrella.  Bailey was thrilled.  So surely he stopped the digging, right?  Nope, but we still think he was a little cooler!

Walking along Scotch Beach one evening

Early morning walk to the Lighthouse at the very northern tip of the island.

And guess what we saw on our walk?!  Now look carefully.  The four blobs right on the horizon are boats.  The blob in the middle of the water, however, is a seal!  The first time he popped his head up he was looking right at me!  So cute.

Hiking down to Black Rock Beach.  Off in the water there's a HUGE rock about ten feet under the surface(someone told us it's the size of a house) that sunk many a ship in the days before underwater radar.  Now it's marked with a buoy and supposedly a great spot for diving.  And fishing- we saw lots of fishing boats right offshore.

We rinsed Bailey off every time we got home from the beach, but at the end of the week he got a real bath.  Or shower, rather, since there was one at the back of the cottage.  Now this is only one picture I took of the shower, but notice how he's looking right at me.  He's looking in a few other pics as well...and he never looks at the camera.

It's like he was saying, "hey Jess, put down that camera and help me out here!!"

 And here we are on the ferry heading back to the mainland.  We had such a wonderful time! 

There are lots of other pictures, including some beautiful sunset shots that Chris took using the DSLR.  If you want to look at the rest, you can check out the Picassa album by clicking below.  (No captions though, just pics!)

Block Island 2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

National Lampoon's Beach Vacation

Our week long vacation to Block Island was wonderful, and I have lots of great pics to post later, but the departure was definitely reminiscent of the classic Chevy Chase movies.

Friday- I spent the day before our trip packing, planning, cooking, etc.  I channeled my inner Myong and Mary Pat and tried to think of everything we used to take with us on vacations.  And I think I got it all!

Saturday - Chris was busy taking a final for one of his MBA classes up until an hour before we left.  As soon as he was finished, we packed the Audi and hit the road.  We encountered some traffic on 95 but managed to make it to the ferry moments before they started loading the cars.  Except that they couldn't find our ferry reservation...because it was actually for Sunday.  So, we turned around and drove 2.5 hours back home.  No big deal.

Sunday- we wake up bright and early, quickly pack the Audi, and start the drive again.  An earlier start meant less traffic and we were right on track to make it there with time to spare.  Except that...well over an hour into the trip the Audi just stopped working correctly.  It wouldn't go over about 20 mph and, on the highway with 2 bikes on the back of the car, that's a really scary thing.  Chris drove into the breakdown lane and we took the next exit ramp.

We couldn't figure out what was wrong and had to face the fact that our only option was to call for a tow.  On a Sunday.  That happened to be Father's Day.  Then we had to ask ourselves- do we pay to tow it all the way back home?  Or do we just get it towed to a shop in Lyme, CT and then find a rental car to get back home?  We finally decided that we'd rather tow the car home, ride with the tow truck driver, and see if we could fix the car ourselves (or rather, see if Chris could fix the car.  That's not particularly my area of expertise.)

The driver arrived about half an hour arrive we made the call.  As soon as he jumped out of his truck he exclaimed, "You've got an Audi?  I've seen this before."

After banging under the hood to show us that it wasn't a plugged catalytic converter, he started the car and let it idle in park.  Then he turned the wheel hard, all the way to the left and then all the way to the right...and the car was working again!  The engine certainly didn't sound like it usually does, but it was definitely running.  Tow truck guy said he sees it all the time with Audis and Volkswagons...crazy, huh?

I was able to change our ferry reservation to Monday morning and we cautiously started the drive home.  And we made it!  Relieved that we weren't on the side of the road, but still bummed that we weren't on an island quite yet.

Monday- We woke up super early, packed my car, drove to Rhode Island, and made it to the ferry in plenty of time.  There was even time for a Dunkin Donuts stop.

From that point on, our luck turned around and we had a perfect vacation.  (Except for the very first night when we spent a good 20 minutes looking for the car keys and I was sure they were somewhere in the ocean...but that's another story!)  Tons of fun in the sun, relaxing in the sand, card playing on the beach, and good food...lots if it.

Block Island 2010

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the car went to the shop yesterday and apparently this really is a very common Audi problem.  But now she's good as new!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Grand Isle, LA

Way back in 2006, when Chris and I had only been dating a year and I had just moved to Louisiana, we took a trip to Grand Isle.  We were invited by the Maniscalcos (Chris and Steven Maniscalco worked together in Geismar) to visit their family beach house over the Labor Day holiday.  We had a great time.  The water was clean and warm and the wildlife was abundant.  Not far from shore you could see dolphins (or sharks? to this day we're not sure) splashing and swimming around.  We went fishing and crabbing and walked on the boardwalk.  We had a wonderful time.

It makes me sad that the beaches at Grand Isle are closed indefinitely.  Here's to hoping that someday soon Grand Isle will be open again for all to enjoy.

And, because the situation is really anything but funny, here's some much needed comic relief.  (Mom...just as a disclaimer...there are one or two words you might not approve of.  But you'll still enjoy it!)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

All hands on deck!

So our deck renovation is taking a little longer than expected...but we're making progress!!

To date, we've ripped up about a dozen planks, cut new ones to size, routed the edges for a better fit, and added a coat of paint. We've used a solution of TSP, Clorox Bleach, and water to remove all the mildew and grime from the railings. Chris has also pulled out and replaced a ton of old screws (the former owners used drywall screws...drywall screws...outside...on the deck?!) from the planks that were still in good condition.

We still need to scrub the deck once more, wait for everything to get good and dry, and then paint. Oh, the painting! We know that will be a big job but we can't wait to see the final result.

And at least I can help with the painting. So far my job has mostly involved carrying boards and scrubbing. Chris says I'm the "clumsiest person he's ever met" and, because of this, won't let me use the miter saw, no matter how many times I ask. Oh well. I guess I can't hurt myself with a paintbrush! :)

Here's a little preview of the deck progress thus far...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lots of FUN at thirty-ONE!

Yes, that was an attempt at rhyming. I'm still thinking in rhymes after the scavenger hunt I put together for Christopher's 31st birthday! :) My sweet husband was born 31 years ago today and I wanted to celebrate all weekend.

I got him a Stihl Loop Trimmer (it's really just a weed whacker) for his birthday. I knew he wanted it, and I knew he'd never buy it for himself, so I snagged the opportunity to purchase it for him. It was much too big to wrap but I still wanted him to be surprised, so I made a scavenger hunt that sent him all over the house. All the clues were little rhyming couplets, which is what happens when I have too much time on my hands (he had class Wednesday night and for the first time in a LONG time I didn't have any paperwork to do for work). The final clue, taped around Bailey's collar, read like this:

Wahoo, it's your birthday! Today you've got the POWER!
For your final stop go where your GUESTS take a SHOWER!

And I had it hidden in the shower behind the curtain. I'm lucky we didn't have a repeat of last year when he stumbled across my hiding place before his b-day. :) Doesn't he look like he's having fun with it?! there's a man of Stihl. When he tried it out earlier today he only had it at half-power and he still accidentally took out part of a hydrangea bush. He needs a little practice.

Time for birthday panna cotta! When I asked Chris what kind of birthday cake he wanted the answer was "rum cake". Rum cake is delicious and all, but we make it all the time...and birthdays should be special. So, I decided to make panna cotta. We loved the blackberry panna cotta we had on our anniversary. I'd never made panna cotta before but it turned out great! And I got to use a vanilla bean. I scraped and scraped until I got every last fleck of vanilla out of the pod...I wasn't letting ANY go to waste!

This doesn't really have anything to do with Chris' birthday (except that it happened yesterday). Chris spotted this guy from the kitchen window...can you BELIEVE it? In the middle of the day! He's turning to leave in the picture. And what was he turning away from, you ask?

My hydrangeas.

But back to birthday fun! Saturday afternoon we drove into Brooklyn to continue the birthday celebration. First stop: Bozu for dinner. I found it on yelp and had my fingers crossed it would be as good as the reviews said...and it was. Even better, really. Best sushi we'd ever had. The tuna was so fresh it practically melted in your mouth! These were the "bombs", little mounds of rice with the fish and sauce on top. They were out of this world.

The birthday boy has a belly full of sushi!

After dinner we headed to Brooklyn Bowl to see Galactic, one of our favorite bands from New Orleans. It was such a fun venue and the band, as usual, put on an awesome show.

I love you, Christopher! Happy Birthday! You don't look a day over 29. :)

60 in St. Lucia...Happy Birthday Jay!

Chris and I were absolutely thrilled to spend Memorial Day in St. Lucia with the rest of the Gibson clan. We were celebrating my father-in-law's 60th birthday and enjoyed every minute of it...even the really humid, sweat-filled ones. :)

We stayed at the beautiful Windjammer Resort in a 3 bedroom villa complete with our own wading pool. The resort's beach and swimming area were just a short walk away. Neither Chris or I are very good at just lying on the beach (although this was the perfect beach for that: soft sand, gorgeous views, lots of cabanas). Luckily there were a TON of water activities to keep us occupied. I tried water skiing for the first time ever! (There is a video of this. I will NOT be posting it! ) We went snorkeling (a first for us) and absolutely loved it. We went sea kayaking, took a hobiecat out for a spin, and spent LOTS of time cooling off in the ocean.

It was a wonderful trip. Thank you to my wonderful in-laws for planning it and inviting us to spend the long weekend celebrating with them and Caroline. We loved it there and are ready to go back...who's with us? :)

Chris and I were lucky enough to have a non-stop flight from Kennedy. We arrived at Hewanorra airport about 3:30 and waited for Caroline's plane to arrive that evening. The second I stepped off the plane I realized how accustomed I had become to the low humidity of the northeast...we're looking a little hot, hot, hot here! (Hot Chris = Unhappy Chris)
But the heat and humidity was totally worth it! Look at the VIEW from our villa!

Day 1: lunch on the beach Yum...don't you want one, too?
We ate almost every meal at the resort, but one night we went off to have dinner at a local restaurant called The Coal Pot. It was, hands down, my favorite meal of the trip! Everything was delicious.
Our last full day of the trip, Sunday, was the clearest day we had. Look at the water! Look at the sky! It was gorgeous.
It was also perfect weather for a boat ride. A few locals, Levi and his friend Blackberry, took us on a boat ride around part of the island. We were able to see the Pitons, view several different bays, and go snorkeling in three different spots. It was a great way to spend the morning!
First view of the Pitons...

" I'm on a BOAT! "

Hee, hee, of my favorite sketches from SNL. But then again, it doesn't take much to make me laugh. :) Don't watch it won't approve of the language.

The guest of honor!!
Yup, that's my husband. Drinking a fruity drink called a "Lover Boy". :) In his defense, he drank Piton (the St. Lucian beer that reminded me of Corona) at every other meal, but we all insisted he try a tropical drink for our last lunch on the island.
Caroline modeling one of the shirts Chris and I made just for the trip.
Sailing on a hobiecat
Relaxed, sunburnt and happy...