I’m in Whistler again for our big company meetup, and there were rumors of aurora borealis. A giant group of us trekked to a lake tonight to see if we could catch the Northern Lights, but alas, they never showed up. But boy, did we see a lot of stars. (Click to see larger.)
And here’s a version the the exposure turned up – there’s the Milky Way!
If only I’d remembered to write this post yesterday…
Anyway, just wanted to share my memories of the day Princess Diana died. Not because we were close friends or anything, but because I (along with Kristina and Anne) was literally in the middle of it.
In May 1997, we moved to London with student work visas, which allowed us to work in Britain for six months. Our initial plan was to stay in London a few months, make some money, then spend some time backpacking around Europe. Well, after being in London for a few weeks, we decided to forgo the backpacking bit and just stay in London as long as humanly possible.
It was idyllic (I mean, with twenty years of rose-tinted hindsight.) We found a tiny flat in South Kensington, just off Gloucester Road, and a short walk to Kensington High Street, Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, and all that fun stuff. We found temp jobs (for a company called Office Angels, which is just…does it even still exist? Yes it does. (Maybe I’m being sexist by thinking it’s sexist. Who said men can’t be angels?)
Anyway, Kristina and I worked in offices around the West End, and Anne worked in a pub. We made friends. We spent our money on beer and rent. It was a glorious summer. Britpop (my favorite music, I was obsessed) was in full swing, the weather was gorgeous, we were young! We had no responsibilities!
One night, we got a phone call in the middle of the night. Or maybe early the next morning (look, it was 20 years ago, okay?) from one of Kristina’s friends, asking if we’d heard the news. We hadn’t, because Diana was killed in the middle of the night for us. We woke up to the news of her death.
It was sad, of course. But what was nuts was how close we were to everything. The tube station we took to work was the Gloucester Road station. If you left the station and walked down Gloucester Road, you’d eventually come to the front door of Kensington Palace. And that’s what everyone (or so it seemed) in the United Kingdom was doing. Walking from the station to the palace, with flowers.
It was nearly impossible to cross the street to get to the pub. Or to walk against the tides of people to get to the station. It was crazy. The front of the palace was a tide of bouquets. Flowers, notes, stuffed animals, everything.
A few days later, Kristina and Anne took a long-planned trip to Amsterdam (where they had originally met.) I was too broke, so I stayed behind. I remember thawing our tiny freezer with a hair dryer, and then leaving the flat to go watch the funeral procession down Kensington High Street.
Seeing the flowers with “Mummy” on top of the casket was the saddest thing in the world.
That’s about it. After it passed, I went back to the flat and probably watched it on TV. I don’t know. And that’s pretty much the whole story. Not exciting, but it’s kind of…interesting to have been so close to it.
The primary reason we planned this trip to Virginia was Kristina and Mike’s 10th anniversary back in March. Mike texted me to ask if I’d go to the Coldplay concert with Kiki if he bought the tickets. So at first I thought I’d take a weekend trip by myself. But then airfare was super cheap and the boys love to see their cousins, so I made it a long trip to take up time until school starts.
Anyway, so while the boys stayed with Aunt Jenny and Uncle Rob, Kristina and I made the drive to the stadium in Maryland where the concert was being held. She goes there often for Redskins games, so she got us all set up to tailgate before the show in the parking lot, just like they do before games.
So fun! We went to Wegman’s the day before and stocked up on so many yummy snacks.
Yes, even a little wooden table because we are fancy. We also made a jar of margaritas and brought some hard seltzer. Delish!
After we snacked and people watched, we headed into the stadium where we had amazing seats on the ground. We were only about 10 seats from the part of the stage that extended way into the crowd.
We heard lots of great songs and some new ones that I didn’t know (should have prepared better.) The show was really colorful and fun with light up wristbands and fireworks and lasers and SO MUCH CONFETTI. EEEEEEE so awesome!
Check out this slow-mo video I took during one confetti storm:
The boys and I are visiting Kristina and Mike, and I was reminiscing about the first time we all visited when I realized it was six years ago tonight that Mike made the boys giggle like crazy by laying on the floor in the kitchen, pretending to be hurt.
Because we’re all six years older, I didn’t make Mike recreate one of those pics, but instead one where everyone is standing up.
(Note: I started this post several weeks ago. Better late than never, right?)
Last week, after I worked at BlogHer ’17 in Orlando, Kiki and I went to a couple of theme parks. First, Universal and the next day, Epcot. Why Epcot instead of Magic Kingdom? Because you can drink around the world at Epcot!
(Also it was a good call because Kiki got severely nauseated on the rides at Universal, so a day of rides at Disney would have been terrible.)
We did a little research ahead of time, and most people suggested you start at Mexico and end in Canada. But as much as I love margaritas, I didn’t relish the idea of one first thing in the morning. Well, okay, technically it was almost noon, but still.
So we took a right at the lagoon, and started in the friendly country to our north, Canada!
Well, first we hit the gift shop where we bought a passport (meant for kids) to get stamped in each country. We also decided that we needed to get culture in each country. Some kind of culture.
We each had a Labatt’s Blue, in honor of the cheap beer we drank when we lived in London. For culture, we watched a movie about Canada narrated by Martin Short, at this circular theater. Fortunately, it didn’t make Kiki nauseated.
It was in Canada that we learned that we’d have to find the kid’s activity table in each country to get our “passport” stamped. Since we also wrote in our passport what we drank in each country, it wasn’t long before this felt fairly inappropriate. But whatever. The cast members sitting at the tables didn’t seem to mind.
Canada is pretty!
Next, we hit up Jolly Olde Englande. It was very quaint. So clean! Here we shared a cup of Mangers Pear Cider (yum!) and a little bag of housemade leek and cheddar crisps.
For culture, we made our way through a hedge maze. Since it was waist-high, it wasn’t too difficult.
Next was France! I’ve never been to France, so I was pretty excited, as you might imagine. To drink, I had the extremely French “orange slush.” I mean, it was made with Grand Marnier and other delicious things, but you’d think they’d give it a more French name. Anyhoo. Kiki had some rose wine.
For culture, we watched some “street performers.” They were v entertaining.
France was pretty.
Another country I’ve never been to! We split a Moroccan beer (Casa) here, along with a yummy Lamb Shawarma platter.
After Morocco, we found ourselves in…
It started raining when we got to Japan, so we went into this big department store, where I bought the boys fun chopsticks, and at the back, had sake and plum wine. Yum!
I was pretty disappointed that the department store only sold Nintendo merchandise in adult sizes. I really wanted to get Linus something there. Oh well.
After we shopped, we got a blood orange sake slushie and took it to our next country to drink…
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
When we got to the USA, we still had our Japanese slushie so we sat in this amphitheater and watched this…interesting acapella performance. So American!
Of course, we still had to get an American beverage, so we split a beer and a pretzel shaped like (of course) Mickey’s head. And cheese sauce. God bless America.
Next up, ITALY!
We were in the middle of taking a selfie in “Venice” when a couple offered to take our picture in exchange for a pic of them. So our only non-selfie pic…
When I took the guy’s phone to take pics of him and his girlfriend, I of course took a bunch of goofie selfies of myself as well. I’m SO FUNNY.
In Italy, Kiki had a red sparkling wine and I had a bellini. Mmmm.
Next up was the country of Kiki’s ancestors, GERMANY!
We had a disappointing bratwurst sandwich but yummy beer with a very long name. (Grapefruit hefeweizen was only part of it.)
Germany was very pretty and had an adorable model train set.
We shared a Canta-loopy, which is (you’re never going to believe this) a cantaloupe beverage. We also snacked on egg rolls and chicken curry pockets sitting on a bench while some acrobats performed nearby. We counted that as our culture for China. (It’s possible our enthusiasm for culture was waning.)
Next up, MEXICO!
Now I was ready for that margarita! We decided to take the boat ride inside the pyramid, which was relaxing and very reminiscent of It’s a Small World.
We waited in line for our passport stamps but some snotty teenagers cut in front of us, so I gave evil eyes to this kid’s back the entire time. Real mature.
After our margaritas (strawberry for me and…uh oh, we didn’t write it all down…but something else I think for Kiki?) we headed to…
NORWAY! (Yes, we went slightly out of order at the end, and for some reason we decided to go to Mexico before Norway. Probably because of margaritas.)
Well, you know, probably a long time ago, Norway was the most neglected of the countries. But now, it’s the home of ANNA! and ELSA! and everything else FROZEN! At one point, the line to see Anna and Elsa was only 5 minutes long and I was sorely tempted to go get a picture with them, if only to, you know, taunt all of the little girls I know, but I decided that’s mean and then the line suddenly was half an hour long and FORGET THAT. But we had a refreshing beer while we fought the crowds of tiny girls.
And that was it! We made it through all 11 countries! And we were fairly sober. We were obviously TOO responsible. It was past 7 by this point and the fireworks were at 9, so we thought we’d wander back to some of the countries and, you know, revisit our favorite beverages. So I got another orange slush from France and Kiki got champagne (I think…it’s been a month now and I can’t exactly remember.)
But then we decided, let’s try to ride Soarin’ instead so we headed back towards the entrance but then they closed it so we missed so we just headed back towards the hotel and went and ate at Ruby Tuesdays (gotta love Orlando) by our hotel for the second night in a row.
At George’s request, I took the boys to a cavern today so we could go underground. (The man was a mole in a former life, I have no doubt.) So we met up with my friend Emily and her three adorable children at Inner Space Cavern north of Austin.
The boys were enthralled (every day I realize how much they take after George and how little they take after me) and had a great time. I had a nice time, but they really loved it. I told them Daddy will take them on a more adventurous cave tour when they’re older. A boys trip. Sounds great to me!