Our Elopement Part 2: The Honeymoon

We spent our honeymoon in Alberta, Canada, flying into Calgary and then driving to Banff. Neither of us had been there so we had no idea what to expect. All we knew what that our elopement ceremony was on September 28th so the rest of our trip had to be planned around the big event.

(My new Away, Herschel, and Lululemon travel gear)

Calgary has the international airport closest to Banff, so we flew into the city and decided that instead of getting in and immediately renting a car to drive the hour and a half to Banff, we would explore Calgary for a few days. The flight from Seattle was quick, and once we got there our Air B&B was a short drive away. Immediately I noticed all the beautiful yellow and orange foliage I was excited to use in our wedding photos, but for the end of September (even by Canadian standards from what I heard) it was cold. I had done quite a bit of research and picked the end of September for our trip because according to pretty much everything, it was supposed to be slightly less touristy after the peak summer months, and the weather would be fairly mild, cooling off but not yet snowy. I’ll just foreshadow by saying that Canada, you lived up to your weather stereotype.

(The view from our Air B&B in Calgary, AB)

Our Air B&B was everything I hoped it would be. Downtown, the penthouse condo on the 29th floor of the highrise overlooked the city with gorgeous panoramic views. I love having our own kitchen, laundry, and privacy, so our own apartment was fabulous. A well-stocked grocery store with tons of healthy and vegan options called Sunterra Market was right downstairs so we shopped there for the three nights to get essentials. We had access to a nice, full gym downstairs so we could easily get workouts in every morning. And we were able to walk everywhere we wanted to go from our Air B&B – the best part is that it cost about the same as a low to mid-level chain hotel in California.

(Riverwalk, Calgary)

(Downtown Calgary)

(Downtown Calgary)

Essentially for three days in Calgary we worked out, walked around, ate food, and relaxed at our condo.

*Vegan food suggestions in Calgary: Ten Foot Henry, SaVeg Cafe, The Coup (for dessert), Tandoori Grill

(Vegan S’mores Dessert from The Coup, Calgary)

After our stay in Calgary we took an Uber to the airport and rented a car, a small SUV that would prove to be beneficial as the trip progressed. We drove the beautiful hour and a half into the Rocky Mountains to Banff Springs. The Fairmont Hotel where we’d spend the next three days and take many of our wedding photos sits on top of a hill, with the town of Banff below. It was completely different in person than I thought it would be. It’s beautiful and castle-like, gigantic and spectacular, but completely crowded and surrounded by tourists. I don’t know why I expected something a bit more quiet, or in the mountains, or whimsical and fairy-tale like (probably because of all the photos and blogs that portray it this way). But it’s more of a beautiful piece of history that’s become overly commercialized. The hotel is considered an international destination, so tour buses abound. It reminded me a lot of Disneyland, which I love, but am typically prepared for. Downstairs in the lobby, there was always a long line for coffee at their independent version of a Starbucks. The check-in lines always going like you’re at a hotel in Vegas. It was an amazing experience – I have once in a lifetime memories from there, and the hotel made the perfect backdrop for many of our photos, but I doubt we’ll ever stay there again, opting for a hotel that’s closer to nature and less loud in the future.

(The Fairmont, Banff Springs Hotel)

Over the next three days we would eat at every restaurant in the hotel, relax, shop (again in the hotel… I can’t emphasize how massive it truly is. We’ll suffice it to say that I was bummed the Lululemon in our hotel was closed for refurbishment) and spend an entire day taking photos, eating wedding cake, and enjoying our elopement ceremony.

(Downtown Banff)

(Hike to Surprise Corner, Banff)

The day we checkout out of the Fairmont we drove down the hill into Banff Springs and checked in at the Moose Hotel & Suites, a well-appointed hotel decorated like a lodge, all wood, fireplaces and bears, in downtown Banff. We chose this place so that we could walk to all the shops and restaurants, and it was perfect for that. We spent our final three days in Banff walking around downtown, eating, and exploring many of the sites I had put on my list. Moraine Lake, Peyto Lake, Lake Louise. Toward the end of our trip it started snowing off and on, so we took a couple spectacular hikes in the snow, one to Larch Valley, to see the beautiful Larch Trees in their golden glory, against the backdrop of snow. They only turn this color for a few weeks out of every year and we caught it.

(Lake Louise, Banff National Park)

(Little Beehive Hike to Lake Agnes Teahouse)

I will say that each location we went to was also quite crowded with tourists – people getting married and people setting up tripods for perfect travel photos. We did find that the earlier in the morning you start your hike, and the farther and higher up you go, the people get very scarce. It seemed like most people just wanted to hop out of the bus, take a quick look around, take photos and leave. So as soon as you distance yourself from the crowd, it gets extra beautiful. At one point we hiked for a long while without seeing anybody aside from one other couple every once and a while and the prospect of running into a Grizzly started to really freak me out. So pack bear spray if you distance yourself from crowds anywhere in the Canadian Rockies.

(Peyto Lake Lookout, Banff National Park)

(Moraine Lake, Banff National Park)

(Hike from Moraine Lake to Larch Valley)

(Larch Valley, Banff National Park)

*Vegan food suggestions in Banff: The Fairmont made most meals special for me since they didn’t have many vegan options. But they were fairly accommodating. Downtown Banff lacked good vegan food and I ate a lot of things from the local version of Safeway. The only meals I really remember being good were at the Indian Curry House (Indian food is always a go-to because it is often times inherently vegan), I had moderately good tacos at Magpie & Stump, and the Wildflour Bakery & Cafe offered several vegan treat options which were delicious. Sometimes good vegan food is still hard to find- you gotta just go with it.

I will say that up until this point, our travel had gone smoothly, and we hadn’t had any significant issues or problems on our entire vacation OR with our elopement ceremony and vendors. So that’s remarkable. But as it does, the universe had to throw us a curve ball there at the end. We checked out out of the Moose Hotel & Suites early in the morning with plenty of time to drive the hour and a half to Calgary, return our car at the airport and catch our flight back to Seattle. It had been steadily snowing off and on with temperatures reaching lows (in the teens) I had never experienced before (I totally get the jokes about being from California now, even though it does get fairly cold… not Canada cold).

Since we had packed appropriately, rented the right car, and had been hiking around in the snow and cold for several days, it didn’t phase us that it was snowing when we left. We just figured it was a normal Canadian fall. Nope. Apparently it was a freak snowstorm that no one was prepared for. If we would’ve turned on the news we would’ve known to tack a day or two on to our vacation and stay put. But we didn’t. We ended up completely stopped on the highway about half way between Banff and Calgary for over three hours with several other cars because a semi truck had refused to go up the hill in the storm and blocked traffic. We didn’t know this, and had assumed it was a bad accident, until the authorities eventually showed up and started giving people the go ahead to drive over the pass. Being stopped in a legitimate blizzard, on the highway in another country watching inches and inches of snow pile up around you… is stressful to say the least. I’m positive I saw more snow in those hours than I’ve seen in the rest of my life combined.

(The road driving from Banff to Calgary. There are two lanes each way under there.)

Since we had four wheel drive they said we’d be fine, so we drove the rest of the way to the airport going extremely slow, passing countless accidents, almost running out of gas, and listening to the radio telling everyone to stay inside because the wait on a tow truck was about six hours. Kanan got us through it. I would’ve probably passed out from fear trying to drive in those conditions.

*Neat Canadian Moment: As we’re driving through what looks like a trail through the snow (really four lanes) I see these black dots moving closer and closer to the road from out in the distance. At first I think they’re cows, then horses, then I notice they’re black dogs. Beautiful against the completely white backdrop – miles of wilderness covered in snow. My immediate thought is that these poor dogs are out in the cold and what kind of owner would let that happen. Then I realize it’s a pack of wolves, running in unison along the highway.

Luckily we made it to the airport in one piece, but had missed our flight home and had to rearrange our travel plans. Apparently flying in that kind of weather isn’t a problem? And once we were in Seattle an hour later I was happy to be back to somewhat predictable non-Canadian weather, and then eventually, home with my husband.

Our Elopement Part 1

 If you asked my husband why we eloped he’d reply with an answer about saving money and doing whatever makes his wife happy. Or at least I think that’s what he’d say. To me, eloping was a much more complex decision that had a great deal to do with wanting our wedding to be about us.

Let’s just start from the beginning. Kanan and I met when he was thirty and I was 25. I’m fairly certain that my parents had made up their minds that I would never get married – mostly because I told them that. Truthfully, I was still about two percent open to the idea; I just wasn’t pushing it. I’ve heard Kanan was similar, but for him marriage was probably about one percent on the table… or less. I’ve said it before, but I knew I wanted to marry him almost instantly after meeting. Three dates and the idea took up permanent residence in my head. Kanan took longer to come to that conclusion, but obviously proposed after about three years with the exact ring I wanted. He’d tell you it was to make me happy. But you can’t make a man (especially one as stubborn as my husband) do anything, let alone be with you ‘til death. So I see through the gruff explanations and translate them into a kind of nostalgia.

(Rings: Laurie Sarah Designs, Photo: Amber Ferriman)

I can’t remember if we had the conversation before or after he proposed, but he asked me if I’d be okay to elope, and I said yes, completely relieved. I’m the type of person that will execute a plan I see in my head down to the detail, if that’s what I want. And for some reason I was having a hard time envisioning our wedding. I’m not sure if it’s perspective, age, or the fact that at this point I had been working with brides closely for about eight years professionally and just simply knew too much. Weddings are like funerals – ultimately they’re for the family.

We did consider how our decision may affect our loved ones, but ultimately and selfishly concluded that our wedding should be about our feelings, and us alone. Which meant we would make every decision about it. If you’ve been married, or participated at all in weddings then I’m sure you’re aware that the bride and groom almost never make most decisions based on their own selfish wants. From my (now eleven years of bridal) experience, I’ve seen most wedding decisions, from venue to photographer to table runners, made out of guilt or coercion. We decided that the best way to avoid going down the path of overspending on things we didn’t want was to avoid it altogether. Initially we tossed around the idea of having a small destination wedding, then struggled with who not to invite. Eventually we concluded that the only way to not offend anyone and truly honor our decision was to not include anyone at all. And from there we decided on just us two.

We went to the courthouse here in Eureka, CA with one of my clients and friends, Amber Ferriman as our only witness and our photographer, staying true to the only us two theme. I’m so happy that she captured these moments, glamorous in their own way. I bought a three-quarter-sleeve sheath dress from Lulus for $60, taupe pumps from Amazon for $30, spent an hour on my hair and makeup, and Kanan told me I had Jackie Kennedy style that day. We exchanged vows in a little room on the top floor, taking pictures surrounded by thousands of old books and records and a view of our little town. We went to a quiet dinner afterward to celebrate before calling the family to tell them the news. Some people choose to keep their legal marriage a secret until the elopement photos come out, but that was hard to do. So we just went with it. Whoever knew, knew.

(Photos: Amber Ferriman)

The quote: “Pursue what’s in your heart and the universe will conspire to support you” describes how piece by piece I designed my dream elopement ceremony. As soon as we made the commitment to stay true to ourselves, I could envision everything perfectly, and sought out every piece. We had narrowed down locations to three potential destinations and Canada was one of them – the solidifying factor in choosing Banff, Alberta was our photographer Henny Hwang. A year or so earlier, I had worked on a bride from Alberta – she and her fiance had traveled to Humboldt to elope in the redwoods, and they brought their amazing photographer with them. I had already met Henny and had her fabulous work in my professional portfolio. I emailed her to inquire about her availability, and we landed on September 28, 2018 at the Fairmont in Banff Springs. We chose that time of year because of the potential for fall colors and foliage, and we chose that venue because it looks like a castle. The most serendipitous part of that story: the Canadian couple are the Wilsons as well.

(Photo: Hennygraphy)

After our photographer and hotels were booked (we would honeymoon in Banff as well) I started in on details. The dress was something I had seen during a late night Etsy scroll session. A mix between Cinderella and Belle’s classic ballroom styles; it was perfect. I screen shot it before we were even engaged, knowing that every other gown I’d seen fell short somehow. A year later I went back to the designer’s Etsy page and it was gone. I frantically emailed her with a picture asking her what we could do and she said she could make it for me, custom. My designer’s name is Anna Skoblikova. We did all of our communication via email, my dress shipped from (if I remember correctly) Israel, and she made my custom gown using measurements I had taken at a local shop and three pictures of me. It fit like a glove, the quality is impeccable, and every detail is absolutely perfect. At times I definitely worried that I was making a bad decision by having my dress custom made by a designer in another country I’d only ever talked to through email, Paypal-ling her money and crossing my fingers. But she is the best, and if we ever renew our vows or I need a fabulous dress, I’ll have her make me another. It’s a work of art that Kanan plans to build a display dressing table for, so when I have a huge walk-in closet I can look at it every day.

(Dress: Anna Skoblikova, Photo: Hennygraphy)

I bought my ballet slipper inspired flats from Amazon, Jessica Simpson brand. I picked Kanan’s outfit from a picture in a catalog at the local bridal shop Promises and they took it from there. And I decided to do my hair and makeup myself.

(Flower Crown & Boutonnière: Flora Organica Designs, Bouquet: Banff Mountaintop Flowers, Photo: Hennygraphy)

My friend Faye, the extremely talented owner of Flora Organica designs made my flower crown and Kanan’s boutonniere out of preserved flowers that I packed in my carry on along with my ring box, and my dress and shoes. Christine, the owner of Banff Mountaintop Flowers put together the most beautiful bouquet and décor for our hotel room. I chose her based solely on her online portfolio and quick communication, and she did a better job than I could’ve imagined based on a collage of inspiration photos I sent her and colors from my flower crown materials. Things were falling right into place – every invoice printed and placed in the wedding binder with thank you cards written to every vendor.

(Photo: Hennygraphy)

Believe it or not, the hardest thing to put together from 1,125 miles away was the cake, and cake is my favorite. A non-negotiable. Our favorite cake is carrot, and finding someone who would make a two person vegan carrot cake was almost impossible. The hotel refused, and there wasn’t a bakery in the area who would do it. Eventually one of the bakeries gave me the name and email of her friend who bakes cakes on the side, and she agreed to make it. She delivered the most perfect and delicious wedding cake to our hotel the morning of our ceremony with a stand and a serving set. She was amazing. And that tied it all together. It was totally worth going down a 6-month long Canadian cake rabbit hole.

(Photos: Hennygraphy)

The day of our ceremony Henny came to our hotel room at the Fairmont and spent an hour with us getting ready. Looking back at the photos, eating our wedding cake for breakfast and having my own husband help me get into my dress are my most treasured moments. We did everything together, which for two stubbornly independent people, means a great deal to us. We took pictures at the hotel and then Henny drove us to Lake Minnewanka where we exchanged vows at the perfect spot that she had picked out the day prior. Blue water, and snow-capped mountains behind us. We took photos at two other locations, dodging tourists and several other couples getting married, and after the five hours of photos, we parted ways with our amazing photographer, went back to our hotel room, and took a nap. A couple of hours later we woke up, got ready, and went to our fancy dinner downstairs, just us two.

(Photos: Hennygraphy)

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Vendors:

https://www.hennygraphy.com

https://www.etsy.com/shop/AnnaSkoblikova

http://www.promisesbridalshop.com

https://lauriesarahdesigns.com

https://www.banffmountaintopflowers.com

https://floraorganicadesigns.com

http://twobeauties.org

Ashland, OR Travel Blog

Keeping a journal has never been my forte. I’ll get one as a gift, write in it for a few days, hate it immensely, then move on. Fast forward a couple years, then I’ll repeat. The longest I’ve ever kept a journal for (not counting anything that had a fuzzy cover or a tiny key) was in beauty school when I was so completely bored out of my mind that it was all I could do to occupy myself. Even then it only lasted a few months. I’ve reread it several times searching for ideas, moments of clarity, that creative genius. All I can tell is during that time I was obsessed with Tina Fey and my writing sounds like I was watching too much 30 Rock.

“They say” keeping a journal is great for creativity, flow, perspective, meditation, and all those things that as a writer are sometimes hard to come by. It’s something to lean on when your spark dies down too low or your depression gets too deep. It channels your crazy ideas, chronicles your life, puts every thought worth remembering down in one place. Just thirty minutes of free writing a day and those parts of your brain just switch on.

I have a unicorn diary my sister got me for my birthday and I love it. I scribble half-sentences and short ideas into it whenever I think of one. But there’s no cohesion. It’s all detached and unreadable – the closest thing I think I’ll ever do to journaling again. I’m discovering that my method is more of a mental mulling over. That thirty minutes a day, I prefer to spend it reading someone else’s words. That sparks my creativity, and reminds me of the conversational flow that I appreciate. I like to decide what I want to write about, think about it for weeks or months, letting all the ideas just build up in the back of my mind while writing things like: “Journals, not for me” in my diary. Then I sit down with it and it all comes out at once. Probably easier for me than it should be.

So here’s my real travel diary – put together for you, based on a few notes.

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DAY 1: Friday March 15, 2019

(Outside our hotel at Plaza Inn and Suites)

This morning I woke up with anxiety. Bad. This whole week was bad. I calculated how long it takes me to catch up after being gone for one week at work. Six weeks it takes me to work clients back through my schedule after being gone for one week. It’s just hours I add on. I know I’ll have to work late when I get back and I’ve had to work late for a couple weeks already. I’m just tired. It’s gotten easier to leave, but not effortless by any means. Invoices pile up. Checks need to be written. It makes me feel ungrateful to have anxiety over something like this. I should just be happy I’m busy and push through.

Kanan wanted to go snowboarding. I hate snowboarding so he suggested skiing, which I think I would enjoy, but I freaked out because I’m completely unprepared, and have never done it before. I didn’t budget it in, I didn’t buy the clothes I’d want so I can’t pack for it. He didn’t want to ski, so I know I’d be alone part of the time. I had a total meltdown because I’m incapable (at this time) of doing anything I didn’t mentally and physically prepare for in advance. That anxiety multiplies because knowing Kanan is disappointed just makes me feel inadequate. I wish I could control it, but sometimes I can’t. It’s hard to explain to anyone who doesn’t live with depression and anxiety what it feels like to be completely helpless to your illogical fears. I’m not afraid to ski. I just didn’t have the time to become comfortable with the idea so my heart starts to beat out of my chest and I feel like I can’t breathe. It doesn’t make any sense because my brain tells me it’s fine. But it doesn’t work like that. I organize my life specifically to prevent this from happening, and most of the time it’s effective – I remember I’ve come a long way from overusing xanax and feeling this way every day. But I’m not there yet – I don’t feel like I can be spontaneous. I told him to bring his stuff anyway. I’ll force myself to go if he wants, but I feel like a ball of stress, and I wish I didn’t. All the exercise and vegan food only goes so far. I wish I could be that carefree, uncomplicated person.

Once I’m in the car I feel a little bit better. We listen to Alkaline Trio’s new CD and a couple episodes of My Favorite Murder on the way up there. We stop in Grants Pass to eat at a mexican restaurant, Si Casa Flores. I get a veggie taco salad without rice, since they cook it in chicken stock. It’s okay. There’s a group of women sitting across from us drinking margaritas in the middle of the day, gossiping, talking about fundraisers. I’m jealous of them in that moment – their lives seem easy. I know it’s not real so it quickly passes.

We get to Ashland and check in at the Plaza Inn and Suites – I’m pleasantly surprised that I like it. We usually stay somewhere else but Kanan wanted to try a new place. Clearly at this stage in my life I have to really prepare myself for “new.” It’s in a great location.

The first thing we do after unpacking is go to the local COOP a few blocks away, and stock up on necessities. I brought protein bars, shakes, BCAAs, chips, vitamins, sparkling waters, and other random snacks from home already. So we picked up fruit, bagels, date rolls, coffee creamer and donuts. I found vegan donuts and they’re amazing. We have a fridge and microwave in our room, so that’s convenient.

We have dinner at Taj Indian Cuisine. They offer a ton of amazing vegan options. I love my food. After dinner we walk around and shop in downtown for a bit, then settle in for HGTV and donuts.

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Day 2: Saturday March 16, 2019

(View from the trail.)

Today was a good day. We woke up, had coffee and a snack, packed more snacks in a backpack, and then headed out for a hike behind Lithia Park. We hadn’t been on that part of the trail before, and ended up hiking about three miles uphill, then jogged the three miles back. It was so quiet and relaxing out there – I loved it.

I spent about thirty minutes working on the blog and another quick project back at the hotel, uploaded everything and then we spent the afternoon relaxing.

We went back to downtown (literally a few minute walk away) got coffee from Starbucks, and went back to the hotel room to drink it on the sunny patio. It was great. Our little balcony looks out over the hotel’s park and river area so it’s extra relaxing to listen to the water. It makes me realize how rare quiet time is in my “normal” life. It makes me wonder how I can remedy that. The older I get the more noise bothers me.

We had amazing mexican food for lunch at a place called Agave. They have plenty of vegan options on the regular menu.

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Day 3: Sunday March 17, 2019

(Lithia Park)

Today we woke up, had coffee, and hit up the hotel gym. I cannot emphasize enough how much I love doing this with Kanan. We really only workout together on vacation. We spent about an hour and a half in the gym – I did about thirty minutes on the elliptical, then did several rounds of dead lifts, sumo squats, and goblet squats with dumbbells. It ended up being a great workout even though their gym was fairly small.

Vegan pro tip: the included hotel breakfast almost never has options aside from coffee and fruit, so that’s one reason why I go to the local COOP to buy food. Kanan loaded up on waffles while I drank coffee and ate my snacks.

We had another leisurely day. We watched Kill Bill 2 in the room – still one of my favorites. I got vegan nachos at Standing Stone Brewery and then scored some new books and the David Bowie Aladdin Sane record from some local stores.

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Day 4: Monday March 18, 2019

Today we got up and went back to the hotel gym. It was supposed to be the day I went skiing, but Kanan said he was over it. I feel guilty but relieved. I’ll make an effort to do it next time. I make mental notes about how to be more spontaneous. Is it really spontaneous if you have to plan to be that way? I’m not sure what the compromise is. I’m working on it.

I did 30 minutes on the elliptical and then some more rounds of lower body exercises. Single legged RDLs, lunges, donkey kicks, fire hydrants. It was an awesome workout.

Same breakfast routine.

We went and saw How to Train Your Dragon 3. Ever since Dragonheart came out I’ve had a weird obsession with them. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the girl dragon looks like what I would want to look like if I were an animated dragon. The fake popcorn butter literally leaked out of the bottom of the bag and ruined my jeans. Kind of annoying, kind of hilarious. So I went online and bought four pairs of my favorite jeans so they’d be waiting for me when I got home. I’m trying really hard to only buy local and only buy things that improve my quality of life – but I also need pants. “Fit chick” tip: The American Eagle Curvy Super Extra High Rise Jeggings are the only ones that fit me right. Every $200 pair of jeans I’ve bought, and the $40 pair is the winner.

I don’t think there’s any new notable food from today. More Indian Food for dinner. I could eat there every day.

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Day 5: Tuesday March 19, 2019

(End of the hike in Lithia Park.)

Today was my favorite day. Kanan had mentally prepped me for an eighteen-mile hike, and I was totally ready for that. It starts up behind the town of Ashland and comes down behind the park where we’d hiked earlier in the week. I’ve been half marathon training, so I knew I’d be fine. We had coffee, packed plenty of food, parked the car, and got started. The first mile was basically straight up hill, but after that it got easier. We looked out from the top of the mountain and could see everything. It was so quiet; we only saw a handful of other people. The hike ended up being a total of ten miles, with a little over 2,000 feet of elevation gain. Shorter than Kanan had estimated from Google earth, and the crummy trail maps. But we jogged a couple of the downhill miles. All the micro climates were interesting. It would be hot and sunny for thirty minutes, and then you’d be hiking through snow. It would take one second to feel like you walked into a freezer.

We came back to the room, got cleaned up and went and got a tea at Starbucks. It was so sunny and warm. We just sat there and people watched for a while. It was nice to feel the sunshine and to just sit with Kanan. We almost never do that.

We had mexican food again.

After our hike and a little bit of walking around downtown, I was extremely sore. I’m not used to running downhill, and after a couple days of that my legs were toast. So we ended up ordering pizza from Creekside Pizza who’s dough and sauce is vegan! It was bomb. And we just hung out in our room and watched HGTV.

I’ve eaten so many vegan donuts at this point, that I’m sure I won’t want one until next time we go to Ashland. Kanan and I talked about how we rarely eat unhealthy food at home, and now that we don’t drink alcohol, it’s easy to notice that bad food (mainly sugar for me) makes us feel lethargic with brain fog and mood swings. It’s amazing how much food alone with affect how you feel. We came to the conclusion that eating healthy whole foods from the COOP for the first two meals of the day, and only eating out for dinners on vacation is probably the way to go. And way less sugar. It’s hard to not eat all the things when you’re out of town, but what fun is it if you feel bad? I’d rather have energy. We’re those people who will probably bring our own blender for smoothies next time. I love that the longer we’re together the more on the same page we get. It’s nice to have the same priorities.

I always get a little bit sad at the end of a vacation because I anticipate the chaos waiting for me back home – all the calls, texts, and DMs I missed that I need to return. The fact that I probably won’t get this much quality time with Kanan again until our next vacation in October doesn’t help. But I try to push it out of my mind to really enjoy our last night.

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Last Day: Wednesday March 20, 2019

Today we head back. I’m so used to waking up at 5am every morning that now that I can sleep in, my body feels out of whack. Today I woke up at 9am. Going back to 5am tomorrow should be interesting.

We just get ready to go, pack up, and head out. We stop by the COOP on the way out for coffee, smoothies, and a vegan muffin and breakfast burrito. I love being vegan in 2019. We listen to Kanan’s new Kris Kristofferson CD on the way home, and a couple episodes of My Favorite Murder.

I get home and immediately start working. I return calls, texts, and emails. I confirm appointments for the next day, fill cancellations, and pay bills.

I unpack and settle in. Kanan and I relax for a few hours before we go to sleep and start our normal routine back up in the morning, and I’m excited to get back to it.    

My Grandma is the Lake

The early morning sun shines in through the blinds; I could feel it’s heat baking the walls of the house some days.

I’d slowly crank open my bedroom window. The frogs would put me to sleep, and the birds would wake me up again.

Birds in their bath, in the palm tree out front, pet birds inside – silence aside from their singing. Reminiscent of Southern California days- endless summer.

The smell of lilac and garden roses. Yellow cake and yarn.

Warm winds, sandy trails, mountains and reeds right up to the choppy waves. The occasional noise from a boat. She’d have her morning coffee at the kitchen table and look out at it.

We’d read all day, play outside into the warm evenings, sit down for dinner, then Jeopardy. What a place to grow an imagination.

Fishermen and dogs. Tourists and kids. The epicenter of activity, and the most peaceful place. She was the constant.

And I can feel her in the morning, when the sun beams into the house. I open a window and listen for birds, and when I hear them, I’m home.

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*The photo I used is of my husband and two dogs, Orca & Moose, enjoying Lake Isabella during our last trip to visit Gramma Brown.