I Believe That Kindness Wins

Wanna hear a fun story? I haven’t written much since summer began, but I’ve been wanting to tell this one since it happened. It involves a few good staples of any summer vacation and a big dose of kindness.

I’m assuming by now you’ve all heard about the US Women’s soccer team winning that World Cup. Well, before they did that, a few of my friends and I made a last minute plan to go see the gals play the ladies from Germany in a semifinal game in Montreal.  We considered flying there, but plane tickets were a wee bit expensive with only a few days notice, sooooo…

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…ROAD TRIP!! Isn’t a road trip one of the best parts of summer?

There was head up...

Car games…

...fellow fans driving by...

…fellow fans driving by…

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…and RoadTrip Radio! Even though they wouldn’t let me play this one loud in the border crossing line.

Speaking of lines, let me cut to the best part of this story.  The whole trip was awesome…we walked out of our hotel on the way to the game just in time to see the team leaving their hotel across the street (Heeyyyy, Pinoe!), some nice Canadian bartender made us custom red, white and blue cocktails, we went on a little hike and especially the win, but I think we all agreed on our favorite moment.

We were feeling so excited as we walked to the metro station on our way to the stadium!  It might have had a bit to do with those America inspired drinks or else the Canadian beer, but mostly it was the hype of the game.  Lots of people were walking the streets in Montreal all decked out in their USA fan gear. It almost looked like the 4th of July.  What I guess we hadn’t thought so much about, was that all those people were going to the same place we were, so that when we walked into the metro station our pre-game bubbles deflated.  There was a crazy long line to buy tickets.  Super long.  All the way back to the back wall of the station long. Our hearts sank as we tried to squeeze into line.  I think we were all thinking the same thing, that we would miss the beginning of the game now. But we didn’t have a chance to say it or even really let the disappointment sink in, because the second we stepped into line, a man walked up to us and asked, “Are there four of you?” We all nodded, not sure what he wanted.  And then…he made our night!!  “Here you go!” he said and he fanned out four metro tickets in front of us. “Wait. What? For us?”  And then he explained, “Yeah, we just waited in that line and wanted to let someone else not have to.  Here you go! Have fun!”  OOOH! MY! GOOOOSH!!  Wasn’t that just a sweet and kind and super fun thing to do?! He just bought extra tickets to give away.  And he gave them to us!  Can you imagine our excitement?  It went a little something like this:  THANK YOU!  THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! And then we ran!  We fumbled with how to work the tickets at the turnstile, and then we ran some more.  Straight down the wrong set of stairs to the wrong track.  That’s when another nice man said, “Uh…ladies.  Do you want to be on the other side?”  We darted a look across the tracks and saw our people, all red, white and blue on the other side. YES! Yes, we definitely want to be on the other side!  We yelled out some more thank yous and took off running again.  We were smiling and laughing the whole way to the stadium.  We made it with just minutes to spare before the gals took the field and the whole night we kept saying, “Remember when that guy just gave us metro tickets?!”

And we vowed to pay it forward.  Because making it to the start of the game wouldn’t have been nearly as great if we hadn’t almost not made it to the start of the game. It was the kindness of a total stranger that fixed that.  He made us so happy!  Thanks again, metro man!

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And to all the people we cut in front of, I’m sorry. But not really.  I am a little bit sorry for taking a picture of you, Backwards Hat Girl, while you were looking kinda miserable and I was looking and being so happy. I’ll try to make it up by being kind to some other stranger sometime soon.

 

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#29 – Love Apples and the Big Apple

I have a “love-apple” on my Christmas tree this year!  Do you know what a “love-apple” is?  Neither did I.  But one day, in mid-December, I came home from work and found a little package waiting on the porch for me.  A fun surprise!  Here’s what was inside…

It's a love apple!

It’s a tomato!  Also known as a “love apple.”  The tag says so.

Well, I love the ornament and my friend for sending it to me, but the cute nickname does not help me love tomatoes any more.  I’m still trying them and I still think they’re mostly gross.  Especially the raw ones.  Here’s how I felt about a plate of bruschetta at a work party …

Not feelin’ it.

You know what does help, though?  Vodka.  See here…

Smiling! Sometimes vodka helps.

That was the first time I drank a whole bloody mary.  I’ve had a few sips of other people’s before but I usually stopped there and said, “I don’t like tomatoes!” This time, though, I powered through a few gulps and then (maybe the booze kicked in) but I liked it! I really liked it!  And it definitely was the bar-goers’ drink of choice at this brunchtime.  I think I want to make my own some day.

You know what else I want to do?  (This is the “Big Apple” part.)  I want to visit the Statue of Liberty.  I’ve seen it from afar but I’ve never gotten up close and personal with the lady.  I really want to get all up in her head.  Sad thing though.  Liberty Island, where the lady lives, was badly damaged during Hurricane Sandy and is closed for now. The National Park people say that they will work to repair and re-open the site as soon as possible but they haven’t promised or even hinted at a date when that might happen.  I had been thinking about adding this to my list before the storm even hit because they had just re-opened the crown this fall. I’m not sure if this one can actually happen, but I think I’ll add it to the list anyway, in a positive thinking kind of way, and if it’s not open in time for the b-day, then I’ll do something else New York-ish or patriotic.  So, #29 is Visit the Statue of Liberty…

PS – She’s on my tree too!

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#3 – Caving

Would you be afraid to go inside a cave?

I was a little bit...

I was a little bit…

Jen was a lot!

…Jen was A LOT!

It’s a good thing this cave was MAMMOTH!  I mean, it’s really huge!  No need for headlamps and spelunking equipment.  Not even any crawling or squeezing.  Just walk down 160 stairs and you’re in!  See here…

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Cave Entrance

Back in October, when we were in Kentucky for a weddin‘, a couple of my college girls and I took a little drive to Mammoth Cave National Park.  Now, the cave wasn’t scary at all.  But the drive, was a different story…

One time, we took a wrong turn and had to drive down a very, very, very steep, steep hill on a very, very, dark, woodsy, out in the middle of nowhere, scary, scary road. From the beginning we knew it wasn’t the right way.  It wasn’t paved.  It was barely even wide enough for our car to fit. There was a very steep hill.  There was no place to turn around.  There was a rickety bridge that barely held up as we crossed over.  We either passed no houses or houses that were so old and run down that it seemed like people couldn’t possibly live there but you could tell people did. You could tell because you could hear their music. Did I mention there was a steep hill?  It was very steep.  And there was NO CELL SERVICE!!!!!!!  We didn’t have any choice but to keep going.  The road twisted and turned.  I drove the rental car right over a log because it seemed like a safer option than getting out to move it.  Finally, just past the cemetery, the scary road intersected with a normal road and our phones began to work again.  So we called for directions. But then we found out that the only thing to do was to u-turn and drive back the way we came.  I couldn’t do it. My nerves were shot and I didn’t believe that our rental car or any car for that matter could actually make it up that steep hill that we had come down.  So I got out of the driver’s seat and let Nicole handle it.  While I had a panic attack in the backseat, Nicole figured that the best way to do it was as fast as possible.  So she gunned it along the road, past the cemetery, somehow the log wasn’t there this time, rattled across the bridge,  whizzing by the houses and straight up the hill.  Somewhere along the way a woodsman on a four wheeler started following us.  He didn’t seem concerned about the hill.  I thought he might flip over backwards.  Or kidnap us.  But no.  We all made it just fine.  And then we went to the cave.  Feeling brave.  Well, not the woodsman.  He went back to the woods. I think.

OK.  It may not have been that scary in reality.  But, "that's how it felt."

OK. It may not be such a  scary road  in reality. Maybe I exaggerated a bit. But, “that’s how it felt!”

The park ranger gives us cave instructions.  Sometimes I want to be a park ranger.

The park ranger gives us cave instructions. Sometimes I want to be a park ranger.

Ranger teaches us about the cave.  It feels a bit like Disney World inside there.  It's crazy to think of how it was all created naturally.

Ranger teaches us about the cave. It’s the world’s longest known cave system.  There are more than 390 miles of cave passages and “rooms” down there. It feels a bit like Disney World in some parts since the park system has installed lights and protective rails in the tour areas.  It’s crazy to think of how it was all created naturally.  It’s huge! Hence the name.  I think I remember that Ranger said they used to make gun powder in there.  We did not see any bats.  Ranger says they stick to lesser toured areas.

Comfy ancient cave slippers.  For when the cave people were relaxing.

Comfy ancient cave slippers. For when the cave people wanted to relax.

You have to walk on bio-security mats after being in the cave to prevent the spread of some fungal disease that affects bats.

You have to walk on bio-security mats after being in the cave to prevent the spread of some fungal disease that affects bats.

Here's some info...Did you know that some parts of Kentucky are in the Central Time Zone???   We didn't. Oops.  Good thing you gain an hour and we weren't late for our friends' wedding!

Here’s some info…Did you know that some parts of Kentucky are in the Central Time Zone??? We didn’t. Oops. Good thing you gain an hour and we weren’t late for our friends’ wedding the day before.

#9 – Feeling Lucky in Kentucky (Plus #’s 27 & 3!)

Little did I know, back in the spring, when I started making my list and added, “visit my college girls at each of their houses” that, first of all, I would get to see ALL of them in one visit but more than that… that my visit to one of them would be for her… WEDDING!!!

But that’s just what happened! About 2 weeks ago, Kelly (ya know -my favorite of the college roommates ;)) married the nicest southern gentleman at their gorgeous home in Kentucky.  It was a beautifully sweet, country wedding and it was soooo much fun to be with my girls for a whole long weekend!  We don’t get to see each other very often now that we’re grown ups (Are we really grown ups??!!?) but as soon as we’re back together, it feels like we’ve never been apart.

We started out in Louisville. We got some new t-shirts.  We were given a free bottle of vodka at a wine shop! (People in Kentucky are niiiiiiiiiiiiiiice!)  We headed to the country. We switched time zones unexpectedly. Some kids got hitched!  We danced! Oh man, did we dance!   We camped!!! (kinda) There were lots and lots and lots of laughs! No one can make me laugh like these girls. I’m so grateful that I met them back in the day, that they are still in my life and that we all were there for Kelly’s special day.  I was definitely feeling lucky in Kentucky! (Cheesy, I know.  But true!)

Meant to be…groom’s parents, bride’s parents, bride and groom…all married on same date.

Here comes the bride!

The Kiss!

Who doesn’t love drinking from a mason jar? Kelly and Mike did such an amazing job with all of the decor and set up!  They did everything themselves and it was beautiful!

Watching the first dance

My girls!

We couldn’t resist the t-shirts at the airport

These friends make me SO happy! (Never mind what my hair is doing. There was a STORM-A-BREWIN!)

What is happening here? Getting ready to enter a late night dance circle?? We were the last ones on the floor/lawn…

#27 -Here’s where we slept! Does this count as camping?? When the thing was parked right outside of Kelly’s house?? That might be cheating as a real camping experience but we’re gonna count it as completed for my list but only on a technicality because… there was a WILD ANIMAL! that slept inside there with us! Squeak! Squeak! (I still want a tent.)

The next day…

We made s’mores…

…and got four wheeler tours.

Congratulations Kelly and Mike! Lots of love to you both!  Can’t wait to come visit again!

PS- I went to a National Park in Kentucky too! (#3) But that’s a whole nother post…

#1 – Passport for Dinner (plus #’s 10 & 13)

When do most people get their passports?  Probably before they’re 34, right? Probably because they’re going on a big trip…maybe to Europe, backpacking, or to some tropical island or maybe a cruise to lots of different places.  Well, I just got mine this summer and I promptly put it to goooood use…I went to Canada!  For dinner.  Nope, not to Niagara Falls, not Montreal.  Not for the weekend or even overnight.  To Frelighsburg.  For dinner. 4 or 5 hours, tops.  You do know where Frelighsburg is, don’t you?  Don’t worry.  I didn’t either/still don’t really.  What I do know is that it’s pretty close to my friend, MC’s lake house in Vermont and dinner in Canada was just one part of a super fun girls’ week on the lake this summer!

Last summer, I was the party pooper because, when dinner in Canada was suggested, I was the only one without her passport.  MC thought maybe we could just tell the border patrol officers that we’d be back real quick and they’d let me go without the passport, but I didn’t think that would work.  We briefly considered the hiding under a blanket in the trunk option but that may or may not have ended with getting arrested, so we nixed that idea too.  The only option was to apply for the passport and wait it out til this year.  So I did and after a little birth certificate confusion got straightened out, I was really happy when my passport finally came in the mail.  And I was even happier when we got to Vermont and I could put it to use! After we crossed the border, we went to a cute little bistro called 2 Clochers. (What does that mean?) We sat outside on their deck which was shaded by lots of trees and overlooked a little stream.  The menu was in French. (4 years of French in high school didn’t get me too far.) But it was tr`es bien(very good)!  Here’s how it went:

One mile to go!

I forgot to sign it. Then the officer asks MC, “So where you going tonight?” And she responds, “Canada.” Yep. There’s pretty much no other option at this point! She probably was not that impressed with or amused by us, but she did give us a good restaurant tip!

Oh yeah, Frelighsburg is in Quebec.

Checking out my first stamp. You have to ask for the stamp when you cross the border here. They don’t just automatically do it. Mine was the only passport out of 4 that she did. I needed a stamp to remember my first use!

#13 – I ordered something with tomatoes!!…

…I was not impressed. With the tomatoes! Once removed, the sandwich was pretty tasty!

Canadian beer > Canadian tomatoes

#10 – I got a lot of peaceful paddles in my kayak. See that mountain in the background? That’s Canada!

I wonder where I’ll take my passport next????

#s 27 & 28 – C is for…

…camping and class(es)!  Two new additions to the list!

So y’all know I’m 34, right?  And I consider myself to be an outdoorsy kind of girl.  I hike.  I kayak.  I love nature.  I spent a fair amount of time in the Pocono Mountains as a kid. I went fishing.  I hung out in the crick. (That’s what you call a woodsy kind of creek area when you live in Philly.)  But I’ve only ever gone camping one time and it wasn’t until I was 31 years old.  So I was thinking I should/want to camp again and what better way to make it happen then to add it to my list.

Getting ready for my first camping and white water rafting trip down the Salt river in Arizona.

Beautiful moonrise over the desert mountains. We rafted for 3 days and camped 2 nights along the banks of the river. Great guides from Wilderness Aware hosted us the whole way. Amazing trip!

You might also know that I’m no stranger to school.  But, it’s been awhile since I’ve taken a class myself so I want to get back in the desk.  Well, not really.  I’m not interested in a whole semester long college credits kind of gig.  More like Knife Skills 101.  (For cooking!) Or maybe I’ll finally enter a gym and do a spin class.  Learn to eskimo roll in the kayak?? Yikes!  Look at these guys!  You get the idea, something fun!  No homework required!

Now who’s got a tent?

#1 – Mail Call!

Here’s what was in my mailbox the other day. Can you guess which thing I was most excited about?

Well, I do love magazines and I get happy about each and every Athleta catalog that arrives, but I think you know…it’s the passport!  My passport is here! Yep, yep!  I can now leave the country and, most importantly, re-enter.  First stop – Canada!  Got any recommendations about what to do and/or where to eat drink beer in Montreal?

Also, I’ve been thinking about a trip to Iceland.  In the winter.  (Ice! Land!)  Is that crazy talk?  If you’ve been there, I’d love to hear about it.