This past weekend I got to go home to New York for the second time this summer, which I was totally psyched about. I love going home, and if it weren’t for a lack of job market, I would seriously consider moving back there. I just love my family so much and nothing makes me happier than spending time with them.
This weekend my little cousin (!) John David married his lovely bride, Kristi, in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. My Dad and I made the 3 hour drive out there on Saturday morning. The entire event was held at Publick House, which is a quaint and historic property at the heart of the town. The wedding rehearsal was held outside in hope that the impending rains would hold off, but unfortunately they did not. It rained heavily the day of the ceremony so everything was held indoors. The space was beautiful and John and Kristi exchanged personal vows they wrote for each other. Their friend Joe sang an amazing acoustic version of “I’ll Missing You” during a remembrance portion of the ceremony (in honor of John’s brother, Jeffery; my mom, and a few other of Kristi’s family members). Afterwards we partied the night away and danced at a fantastically DJ-ed reception. I even managed to get my Dad into the Photobooth!
It was a wonderful, fun and refreshing weekend. I loved the opportunity to bond with my family and some time out of town (DC) and in my bed at home is always appreciated. Please enjoy a few pics below (click to enlarge).
Congratulations to the new Mr. and Mrs. John Hey!
I am a travel snob. I will be the first to admit it. And like so many of my costly vices, I blame my brother. Allow me to explain…
As I write this, I’m sitting in a very expensive first class seat on an Acela express Train to New York. Aside from the horribly obnoxious work-couple next to me, it’s glorious. Before we even left Washington, I had a glass of wine and a ramekin of peanuts on my tray. I also ordered the vegetarian entrée off the menu, a surprisingly delicious “summer vegetable cannoli.” There is even wi-fi on the train so I can get some blogging, er, work done while I travel. And all this for free! Well, not so much free, as it is not costing monies in addition to the fare. A fare which my dad so graciously paid for as a special treat for me (thanks, Dad!). Anytime he comes to DC he travels First Class Acela and always raves about the great service (and free food and wine). So when I had to travel home this weekend for the funeral of my Uncle Teddy and Great Aunt Jean, he sprung for a first class ticket for me.
And I must admit, I’m getting really, really spoiled. To digress back to my original sentiment, my brother, Rob, has been the driving factor behind my travel snobiness. And perhaps it’s actually more Dave (my brother's best friend) than Rob, but they’re sort of a package deal, so when Dave is to blame, by default, so is Rob. They live in Europe and I’ve travelled extensively with them (Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Budaspest, etc). When Rob and Dave travel, they spare no expense. (A fact to keep in mind next time you pay your exorbitant federal taxes…they're gov't employees and former military) If we’re driving, it’s in either Rob’s custom designed Porsche or Dave’s Range Rover. If we fly or take the train, it’s not without plenty of wine and snacks. When we stay at hotels- no Best Westerns here. Only the finest hotels Europe has to offer. Have I mentioned that for my birthday, my Dad and brother surprised me with a trip to Prague so we could go to my “favorite restaurant in the world,” Kampa Park. It was at that moment that my travel snobbery became clear. The fact that I even have a “favorite restaurant in the world” is pretty cool, but the fact that we could just “hop over to Prague to eat there” is even cooler. So hop we did, from one gorgeous European city to another… just for a special birthday meal. (The meal, by the way, was just as fabulous as I remembered it being the first time!)
Another story that comes to mind is when I was in Venice, Italy with Rob, Dave and my boyfriend at the time, Joe. We had been exploring the city all day and decided to call it a night and head back to the hotel. Those who have been to Venice know that to get anywhere that is not in the immediate city center, you need to take a water taxi of some sort. Well, there are water taxis and then there are water buses. Guess which one is cheaper? Well, in a moment of un-snobbery, Rob decided we would take the water bus. This my friends, did not fly with Dave. He went off into a rant about not wanting to travel with the hordes of “pigs” on the water bus. So of course Joe was at his wits end from travelling with Dave up to this point and they got into a nice little argument in the middle of Venice about whether or not Dave thought he was superior to the other tourists in Venice (which naturally, he did). On a positive note, we did have a very enjoyable train ride to Venice (from Frankfurt) where we befriended some other travelers on the train. Our beer and wine induced travel stupor almost caused to miss our stop. However Rob noticed at the last possible minute that we were about to miss our station and somehow we managed to pull ourselves and our belongings together and throw ourselves off the train in the nick of time.
Moral of the story, I’m a travel snob. I don’t tolerate screaming children, ignorant tourists or dolts with an inflated self worth. I need to wrap this up now, I have a glass of chardonnay and some pasta that is calling my name.
Every Sunday at 12:30pm I get to video conference with my Dad in New York and my brother in Germany, via Skype. God bless technology. This past Sunday, my cell phone rang at 12:20pm, and after I answered in a mumbled, groggy voice, my early bird father asked, “You’re not still sleeping are you??!”
In my sweetest little voice I cried back, “But I was out really late last night and I had to get up at 7am to walk Mar. I’m just naapppping now.”
It was pathetic. I’m 27 years old and I was in bed “napping” at 12:20 on a Sunday. In my defense, I really was out late the night before at a friend’s Birthday Party in DC. I didn’t leave my apartment until 9:45pm which is usually about the time I start getting ready for bed, so this is clearly not what my body is used to these days. Five years ago it was standard procedure, but anymore? A night out at a trendy bar or club leaves my friends and I trying to hold conversations but resorting to just yelling “WHAT???? I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”
“IT’S SO LOUD IN HERE!! DO YOU THINK THEY CAN TURN DOWN THE MUSIC?!”
“WHY IS IT SO DARK?! I CAN’T EVEN READ YOUR LIPS!”
I got home from the party at 2am. Which means Malomar had been sleeping peacefully for a few hours and is now ready.to.go. So I have to stay up for another 30 minutes calming him down and convincing him it’s still “sleepy time.” I took him out to the bathroom in hopes that it would buy me a few extra hours of sleep in the morning, since he’s normally up at 7am like clockwork. Of course my plan didn’t work and we were up at 7am anyway for our usual potty break. So yeah, at 12:20pm I was still tired. I just can’t hang like I used to!
It's true. U-turns are a Strack Family vacation staple. If there are more than two of us in a car at any given time, a u-turn is guaranteed. You can take that to the bank. (And yes, for the record, I am the only one who has ever received a ticket for an illegal u-turn.) As for sinking boats, we only came close once; well it was one outing, but several attempts in one outing. Long story short: when Rob was stationed in Missouri, several family members convened for a mini-vacation on Lake of the Ozarks. We had an Army rental pontoon boat and in "famous last words" fashion, my mother prophetically asked “Can these boats sink?” I’m not sure if the men of the family took this as a personal challenge, but after scoffing at her “silly” question, we came pretty close to sinking the boat at least twice. The problem involved how to correctly cross over the wake of another larger boat. After figuring out several other ways NOT to cross wakes, the final attempt left water pouring off the roof of the boat and the coolers floating away, we learned that large wakes should NOT be crossed perpendicularly. We went up one side of the wake, and on the way down, got hit by the other side of the wake. By far one of my favorite Strack Family Moments.
A few weeks ago (Memorial Day weekend) I was in Lady Lake, Florida to celebrate the birthday of my Dad and his twin brother, my Uncle Pete. When I was younger, I used to call him Uncle Petrey (I was a big fan of Petrey from “The Land Before Time” movie). I also once told my Uncle Denny that Uncle Petrey was my favorite uncle. Big mistake. Uncle Denny still holds it against me and I’m 27 years old (although I think he’s kidding… I hope). But anyway, May 24th was the twins’ birthday so (my Dad and I) we went down to Florida to celebrate with Uncle Pete and Aunt Arlene. My Dad will be moving down there in a few years so I was able to see his house (he already owns it, just has renters in it now) and the community where he’ll be living. We also did some golf cart test drives. Everyone down there uses golf carts as their primary mode of transportation. It’s awesome. Sidenote: And they’re always drinking; it’s sort of a perfect place actually. I’m ready to retire after visiting!
We got to take a cruise on The Minnow, Uncle Pete and Aunt Arlene’s boat. It’s a gorgeous new pontoon boat. I managed to get a nice sunburn-tan while we cruised around the huge lake system and looked for gators (we saw a few, but not as many as usual). We had a great lunch at a cute lakeside restaurant that was also at a landing strip for seaplanes! There was a huge parking area for “Seaplanes Only.” We were hoping to see some landing/taking off, but no such luck. For a holiday weekend, the lakes were surprisingly quiet.
After some quality lake time, we got to visit with my cousin Dana and her husband John and their three kids. I can’t believe how fast the little ones are growing up! They’re adorable and always full of stories.
It was a quick but great trip. Some pics below. Click to enlarge.
I’m an item or two behind on my bucket list creation. But that’s because I was in Florida last Friday. So I suppose I should add two items to my list this week.
2. Marry a prince.
3. Raise a family.
Both sound simple enough. Hah. Hahah. Says the 27 year old gal with no prospects. Sigh. I’ve upgraded my original plan of just getting married, to marrying a prince. Not a royal prince (although I certainly wouldn’t turn one down, I’m looking at you, Harry!), but a prince at least in my eyes. Watching the Royal Wedding inspired me, not because Kate was becoming a Princess but because she and Prince William were so obviously in love. And they had been together for long and through so many ups and downs. They just seem… real.
And of course, some day I would love to have a family of my own. I love my family and they are such a huge part of my life. They influence me and are on my mind more than any of them realize. My family has been through a lot… and I mean A LOT. And yet we are also very blessed and very fortunate in many ways. My family is so full of love, in the good times, and especially in the bad. And I want to continue that love with my own children some day. I hope to be as great a mother as mine was. I hope to have a husband that is at least half the man my father is. I want my children to feel as much unconditional love and support as I always have from my own parents. At the end of the day it’s my family that brings me the most happiness and the most peace. So for this Friday, that is the edition to my bucket list: two of the most important “goals” of my life. Perpetuating what I have been so blessed to have in my own life.