Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Response to "A Cat's Memoir" by Queen Aurora and Princess Isis

(Written by Aurora and Isis jointly, sent by their loving Foster parents, Kay and Mark Rogers)

We cannot believe you are living with a *C*A*T!!
You are both traitors! A cat cannot be a Princess- or any form of royalty!! We understand that you really don't have much choice - IT came with the
apartment - but really, your approval rating has been down graded from staff to staff support, you are no longer first choice for caring for us. We regret this unfortunate turn of events perhaps it will serve as a lesson to you both in the future. You have one year to make everything right again. We expect wonderful presents fit for true royalty - consider this your first warning!
Our current LOYAL Mom servant took us to the vet yesterday to get our annual shots. We passed with flying colors and were treated as the Queen and Princess we are. Even though they did rude and embarrassing things to us we know it was all done in love. Our LOYAL vet thought we are the cutest Royalty and praised our beautiful fluffy coats. Princess Isis weighed in at 10lbs and dainty Queen Aurora 8.4. We were very polite but extremely curious about the Guinea Pig that was brought in to spend the weekend. It was in a very expensive cage with lots of interesting toys. It made funny noises at us but we turned up our noses at its smell - puey!! There was also an Italian Greyhound that was making such a ruckus it hurt our ears. The vet told us that he was feeling sorry for himself because he had to have stitches but he wouldn't leave them alone so they had to put a "party hat" on him to keep him from licking them. He was letting everyone know how he felt about that! What a whimpy whinner!!
We hope you come to your senses and remember where your loyalty should always remain.
Princess Isis & Queen Aurora

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Buttercup: A Cat's Memoir

Buttercup/ Pumpkin/ Pumpkinator: A Cat’s Memoir
Mow, mow… purrr. Oh, hello there, I wasn’t expecting company so soon. Come in, come in. Take a seat on the couch, take the blanket nearest you and lay it across your lap so that I may grace your lap with my presence. That’s right, just like that. The blanket is optional, but for your protection. As I am petted, and you are now to be the designated petter, I tend to knead, a habit I greatly enjoy but humans do not. It just goes to show, the lack of sophistication in the human species, kneading is a refined art, that only the most cultivated cat masters.
But I have yet to introduce myself, where are my manners? I am Princess Buttercup III. I am descended from a long line of royalty, as most cats believe about their family, which in my case is actually the truth. Of course I have no legal papers to prove my royal standing, but I know it to be true, as I feel the regality coursing through my veins. I assume the papers were lost when I was moved to the shelter from where BB rescued me. I take after my mother, a beautiful calico Queen, covered in enough soft, fluffy fur to make eight XL sweaters. I, like my mother, leave my fur all over the house in case my owner might want to take advantage of this fact and knit a sweater. I know, I know, I am so magnanimous, I just can’t help myself. My mother, however, was not able to give her most beautiful daughter the attention that she deserved because I am unfortunately the sibling to 8 other twins. Because there were so many, and my siblings didn’t understand my need for space in the womb, my tail has been twisted, and shortened in an unusual way. I prefer if my tail is not touched, but I view my tail as singularly stunning quality and believe it should be modeled as the next fashion movement, similar to the Chinese women crushing their feet to be small and delicate, so should cats follow in my example. Another one of my alluring qualities is that I have two eyes of different colors. Technically, an untreated infection as a kitten caused blindness in one of my eyes, but I see it as an uncommon and therefore royal trait.

My owner however, BB, an easily trainable and devoted human is unaware of my status as Princess and possibly one day queen and has therefore dropped the Princess from my name. I demonstrate my royal qualities daily, snubbing food, demanding attention, and sleeping where and when I please, which is often and frequently under the TV stand, it reminds me of a throne. I do not meow, but make a very delicate, high-pitched “mo” sounds, barely audible to the human ear. I need not risk damaging my vocal cords, and the humans should be listening for my call at all times. In fact, not only has BB dropped Princess from my title, which is insulting enough, she has given me many nicknames, pumpkin, pumpkinator, pumpkaroo, sweetums to name a few. She is a simple creature, as are all from the human race, therefore, I have not smote her for her error of grand proportions. Life in our new, tiny palace, sometimes referred to as an apartment by humans, is simple, yet pleasing. At least it was until those two other fowl creatures named Vanessa and Kyle invaded my territory. The day it happened, I was taking my daily nap, when loud voices, proceeded by strange smells entered the entranceway. Three huge suitcases, capable of carrying 20 cats apiece were drug up the stairs into our palace. I believed them to be new visitors who would soon be leaving, but as the days wore on, and the smelly humans did not leave, I became suspicious. For the first few days, I used my very effective method of ridding things I dislike, avoidance. I remained tucked away, in the office, far away from these lowly creatures, listening and spying until BB returned. Their activities were and are very limited. The thing with a screen and symbols, which is referred to as a computer, I believe, is always in front of them. The prettier one, posts blogs, while the uglier, taller creature plays a game called Runescape. I occasionally see him drawing. They leave the house for an activity they call “working out,” and cooking and eating seem to be the next common activity. After my avoidance method proved ineffectual on these over grown gnomes, I tested their intentions by sleeping in the same room they inhabited during the day, of course with one eye open. When they made no move to attack or kidnap me, I am worth quite a pretty penny you know, I decided to try their laps. It took some time before they learned my rules; no touching my tail, paws, underside or neck, when I stick out my paw, you are not petting enough, and petting is not allowed unless given explicit permission, aka: being in your lap. These creatures are acceptable for a temporary basis, and I have given my stamp of approval to BB, but only for a temporary basis.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Family Reunion in Lopez Island

The Braun Family Reunion (My dad's side reunion on Lopez Island)
  • "Family reunion", a word that strikes terror into the hearts of some. Dentists appointments are normally listed with a higher degree of enjoyment than family reunions. All families have their quirks, and my family is no exception, but sometimes, those oddities are what makes for the best experience, or at the very least story. If everyone were normal, where would the fun be in that!
  • The group, which was relatively small and did not have much in diversity of age included, my dad, the eldest of the siblings and a "realist" as he claims, but I say borders on cheery pessimism. My aunt Pam, who is the baby of the siblings, brought along her new boyfriend. New additions always change the equation around, adding elements that were lacking. My aunt Eleanor who is a self-proclaimed introvert, but who has a hearty laugh. My half-sister Racheal, from dad's first marriage, is one of the quiet and sweet Brauns who not only displays the red hair gene, but also has given birth to two out of three redheads, attempting to remove red-heads off the endangered list. The wonderful host of the weekend was my dad's first cousin, Ann, who lives on Lopez Island which is why that was our destination in the first place. She has (or should I say had, since the house is being sold, and she is moving ) a beautiful house on a sound or a bay, not sure which. And then there was Kyle and me, the youngest of the group, but able to keep our own.
  • Family members who couldn't be there, and who missed out on a fantastic reunion, included my Uncle Robert, his wife, and my only first cousin, Kimberly, Robert's daughter, with her new baby that I have yet to meet. They had a good excuse, and will be sure to make it to the next one right? I want to meet this baby while he can still be called that! Rachael's red-headed children and husband had other obligations and were not able to attend. Also my half brother Lawrence was supposed to come, but for complications, at the last minute was not able to. And of course, my dad's deceased twin, Donald, who was remembered in spirit throughout the weekend.
  • So do we have this family tree down yet? Five total siblings, the twins being the eldest with Pam being the baby. My dad had three children, Lawrence and Rachel first and then me. Robert is the only other sibling with children, making Kimberly my only first cousin on that side. And Ann is the siblings only first cousin on their dad's side. Get it, got it, good!
  • Lopez island is this cute, quiet little island that moves on island time. It is a natural home to bald eagles, retirees and artists alike. Saturday morning we went down to the farmers market. However, this farmers market probably had two stalls with fresh vegetables, and 30 stalls with art work, such as jams, scarves, beaded kitchen utensils and the like. It was lovely, lively and full of excitement even a mini dog fight.
  • The temperature on Lopez island, however hardly rises above 70 degrees in the summer. I say, one can hardly call that summer, although the rest of my family seemed to think it perfect! I am very temperature sensitive because of my lack of natural body insulation and possibly a heart made of ice (as kyle likes to joke) I am to the cold like a fish is to a birds nest, very uncomfortable. When I am cold, all pink recedes from my face and limbs are replaced with a ghostly white, with any scar, or acne mark accentuated with the color purple. A white ghost with purple speckles, not my most flattering moment. Not only does cold weather debilitate me, but I transform into a scary Halloween costume. Now, I shouldn't give the wrong impression that I was miserable. For the most part the weather wasn't terrible, just cooler than I am accustomed to or prefer.
  • While on Lopez Island, the Olympics began, and we became experts in the sports of synchronized diving, sand volleyball, bicycling, and water polo. However, as with most family reunions, EATING is the main activity. We ate freshly caught crab for our first evening, lamb with scrumptious veggies and for our final evening we ate at fine dining restaurant on the water. Other yummy things that I had included a creamy clam chowder, probably the best I have ever had, and a blackened salmon burger!
  • Besides eating, we went hiking, witnessed a seal colony, and went on a boat trip to see the magnificent Orcas.
  • Interesting facts about Orcas we learned on our outings: Orca's got their name "killer whales" when whalers saw Orcas attacking and killing whales. The name started out "whale killer" but in the beauty of language, it jumbled around to be "killer whales." Whale hunters would even train the Orcas to help kill whales for them by offering them a portion of the kill. Different groups of Orcas eat different food. The resident Orcas, or the ones who lived near the coast of Washington, only ate a specific type of salmon and nothing else. Even when that particular salmon started to become over fished, these Orcas refused to eat the several other types of salmon inhabiting the waters, and will go elsewhere to find their favorite food. The way the scientists know what the Orcas are eating is an incredibly interesting fact. They have trained a dog to sniff out Orca poop, so that the scientists can test it. We even saw this pooper scooper boat on our whale watching adventure. Orcas that live in the deeper parts of the ocean, however, will eat seals, penguins, whales, shark, and all sorts of other creatures. They must teach their young how to hunt and have even been recorded taking a baby seal, demonstrating the hunting techniques, letting the baby Orca try, and returning the baby seal, uneaten and alive. Also when Orca's sleep, they do so with one eye closed and the other eye open. This allows half of their brain to rest. While whale watching these magnificent creatures, we witnessed what the biologists on board claimed was unusual behavior. One of the Orca females was floating in the water, for longer than usual. One theory was that she was giving birth. Evidently, a birth in the wild has never been witnessed. The biologists admitted that there was still much to be learned about the Orcas, and much of their behavior is a mystery. Seeing these magnificent creatures in the wild was an amazing experience!
  • Overall, this family reunion, contrary to popular belief, was not something to run screaming from. We ate, we talked, we laughed, and we had fun! One of my favorite things about the Brauns is their laughter, they laugh loud, and they laugh often, and even in troubled times, you can count on a good laugh from them. A great weekend family trip all and all.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Roadtrip Highlights: Montana

Montana (two destinations: Ashton and Anna Sanders (my cousin and cousin in law ) and Glacier National Park
  • Only 22 hours lay between Moline, IL and Ashton's house. Twenty-two itty-bitty hours, and whats more, broken up in two days! How hard could it be? Nothing to dread right? HA! Well, we did dread the drive, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Don't get me wrong, it was far from pleasant. In fact on a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being lovely and 10 being as close to the ring of fire as possible, I would say that we were seared but not burned! The AC worked most of the time and we entertained ourselves with books on CD, music, snacking and mad libs.
  • Our second couch surfing experience was also an experience to remember. The guy we were staying with was very hospitable, and nice. When we arrived to his front door, we heard a chorus a girls voices squealing in delight and laughter. His 12 year old daughter was having her birthday party, and a pinata was being hoisted into a tree. We were offered dinner, since they had cooked enough for the party. After the pinata broke, the daughter placed the broken limbs of the horse/llama on her own limbs and said she was a llama. The other girls, taking cue, picked up sticks and tried anew to bust open the pinata. There was also a make shift tight rope tied from the pinata tree to a pole. Luckily no one actually injured themselves but it didn't seem very safe to me. As for the house, the man was a hippie left over from the 60's. His house was not a disaster, but it wasn't clean either. We decided it was best if we went to bed as early as possible so we could get up and get on the road for the rest of our drive.
  • 5:30 am in the morning we rolled out of bed. The entire trip to Polson, MT took us through Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming and the entire state of MT which is the 4th largest state in the US after California. Because there are more farm animals than humans, I found the size deceiving. We arrived at Ashton and Anna's little piece of heaven around 5 pm. Somehow, driving in the car for hours, even without physical exertion, one feels disgusting. First line of business; showering, second; eating cherries while food was being prepared, third; boys became manly men by the mere act of grilling, fourth; eating previously discussed manly grilled food. Yummy in my tummy!
  • After we ate dinner on their front deck, admiring the view of mountains, and soaking in the sounds of nothingness, we went out to meet her horses. Her horses were like large puppies because if they could have gotten in our laps, I think they would have. They loved human interaction. At on point three of the horses boxed me into a little Vanessa cubby, and I had to use force to make them move their big butts out of the way. The entire time we were playing with her horses, I was making special care to watch my feet, which were in flip flops, (I know not the best choice of shoes, but that is what I wore to dinner) however I was not careful enough. Standing in front of one of those beautiful giants, with my back towards her face, I assumed I was safe, however, the horsey wanted attention, stepped forward and stepped on my exposed foot. I reacted quickly enough so that I only walked away with a scrape and a bruise. Next time, no flip flops!
  • We spent the rest of the evening watching a film and playing on the internet. In the morning, we slept in, which felt so good. Rising early is not something I would say that Kyle and I particularly enjoy. We had a relaxing morning with french toast and then we were off. Ashton and Anna have a beautiful home, set far away from the hustle and bustle, a peaceful haven that I can't wait to return to.
  • Our drive to Glacier National Park was only supposed to take 1 hr 15 min. to drive to the park which was accurate, and 1 hr 30min to drive through to our hotel which took much more time than we expected. We left before noon and didn't arrive to our room until 6 pm. Now, I should explain, the extra time taken was our doing as we couldn't stop taking pictures. It was a beautiful and scenic drive, almost impossible to explain with words, so I think I will let you just look at the pictures.
  • The first night in GNP (glacier national park) we stayed at Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. Our cabin was, simple, quaint, adorable and might have been perfect had it provided a bathroom. Our first attempt at finding the bathroom took 15 min, as did the second since we had gotten so lost on the first try. The day had been very warm, but the icy hand of the evening took a strangulating hold. I don't know what has happened to me in the last few years, maybe I am secretly an old man, but I have come to the point where I am no longer able to sleep through the night without needing to go to the bathroom before morning. My bladder woke me at dawns early rise. I attempted to ignore it. My bed was warm, the cabin and the air outside were not, and I did not want to leave my nest, however when I could no longer take it, I crawled from my warm bed. Once out of my warm and cozy hovel I made a silent resolution not to wander around the camp grounds hopping around, crossing my legs, and getting lost trying to find the bathroom, that was what the great outdoors is for. Unfortunately for me, I had spent too much time in bed willing my bladder to be patient, and the suns rays were much more illuminating than I had hoped, but that didn't change my plan. Luckily, not another soul ventured from their cabin, and I finished undetected. You may laugh at my silliness, but had it been you freezing your tush off, you would have done the same thing:)
  • We woke early, packed our bags, and drove to where we were to catch our 8 am boat. As we boarded, we noticed that we were the only passengers without hiking sticks. Kyle was also the only person wearing simultaneously a bandana, a beanie, a cowboy hat and socks with his chacos, always going in style my husband! Our hike was to Grennel Glacier, the closest glacier to the main road. In total, including hiking up the mountain and back down again was 7.6 miles. Ranger Bob was our guide, explaining much of the geography of the land, which mostly went over my head. The hike included glacier run off lakes, that were almost teal in color, waterfalls, ground squirrels that were skilled at stealing humans lunches, big horned sheep, and a magnificent glacier. By the end of the hike, I had formed and popped blisters, making walking a bit painful.
  • However our day was far from over. The online course, Kyle was enrolled in scheduled a test the day we were in GNP, not very considerate if you ask me! The only place we found in the entire park with available internet was another hotel about twenty min. from ours. However half way through the test, the internet timed out and he was not able to finish answering the questions. Frustrated and hungry we went to eat dinner at a local diner, but when we had paid the bill and gotten into our car, the car wouldn't start. After much deliberation with a local, we decided it was the battery, and hopefully we had just been careless and left the lights on, but alas, that was not the case. When we arrived at our new hotel Many Glaciers, (the hotel made famous by Steven King, the inspiration of the movie, "The Shining") the battery died yet again. We were told that the closest mechanic was in Canada, about forty min. away.
  • The following day, we drove into Canada, $131 later, we had a new battery and were heading back to the Park for another hike. This hike was only a 4 mile hike, because my blisters had reformed and were incredibly uncomfortable. However on our hike we saw a Mama moose with two of her calves. Also, later on in the evening we saw two grizzly cubs not 25 yards from the road. I was extremely grateful that mama grizzly never showed her face, because she might not have been so thrilled to see so many humans looking at her babies.
  • Montana is a beautiful state, and I recommend to everyone to make a trip to Glacier National Park within the next ten years. When the park was founded in the 1890's, there were over 150 glaciers. There are now only 20 glaciers left, and melting at remarkable speeds. It is worth the trip, we certainly enjoyed nearly every min. of it, save the cold morning, the crashing internet, and the dead battery!

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Roadtrip Highlights: Mariah's Wedding!

Moline, IL (The genesis of this roadtrip adventure all started here. My roomate from our Walt Disney World internship was getting married and we wanted to be there for the big event. Elly one of our other roomates would be in the wedding and we were excited to be seeing them both.)
  • After running several errands, we found ourselves at a decent Mexican food restaurant, being served free tequila shots in celebration of Mariah's wedding. Aubry, another bridesmaid, but one hilarious girl, meets us with us and tells us her story of woe of her brokendown car.
  • The next day is spent running last min. wedding errands, including manicures, pedicures and eyebrow waxing. Followed by the rehearsal at the church where the preacher proceeded to set down the rules of drinking at a wedding, not in the parking lot, not in the waiting room, and not in the sancturary itself. The rehearsal is accompanied by screams of excited children running up and down the aisle as if it were the best playground God had ever created. (those children did not attend the wedding)
  • Wedding Day! Mariah was not stressed, always a good sign. The day was full of wedding preparations, we were in charge of passing out the programs, having guests sign the guest book, and passing out rose pedals after the ceremony for throwing at the newly married couple. However we were also desperately trying to find a place in that small town to fix our A.C. that went out on our way in from Chicago. Sweat had covered our backs, but the deafening noise of the traffic and the 70 mph wind coming into the vehicle was what really bothered me. Kyle was able to produce a miracle, if only temporarily, however so that we could drive the 11 hours necessary for the next day.
  • The reception took place in the hotel that we stayed in. The hotel was themed with a woodsey, outdoorsey feel, with fishing poles, pine trees, bears, deers and other creatures, however one of my favorite moments was when Mariah was looking over her reception hall the day before, and commented that she didn't like the brown skirt on the coffee table because it made her look outdoorsey, I couldn't stifle a laugh. Oh Mariah, how I love thee!
  • The food was good, and we were sat with Aubry, her boyfriend and another couple we hadn't met before. Blane, Aubry's boyfriend and Kyle hit it off, and Kyle had a grand ole time, dancing away the night. I had a great time too, but I don't think anyone had as much fun as Kyle!
  • The day the girls (including me) had spent the day being pampered, Kyle had spent trying to make a CD for Mariah and Matt for the dollar dances, a cd which he was especially proud of, with good reason. After the dollar dances were over, the CD continued to play, many songs of which, we considered to be sing-a-long songs, so we did! I am not sure what people thought of our singing/yelling but Mariah sang along just as loud so it was acceptable behavior!
  • All in all, we had such a fun time seeing our old roomies, hanging out, and dancing away the night at Mariah and Matt's wedding!! Thanks so much guys!
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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Roadtrip Highlights: Chicago

Chicago (We originally planned to visit our good friend Howard Chen in Chicago, but he decided to take an internship in San Fransisco for the summer! How selfish of him not to stay in Chicago just so we could visit him ;) So instead, we just thought of Howard as we wandered lost through the streets of the third most populace city in the US.)

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  • Our first experience with was here in Chicago. A very positive experience, and I would recommend it to others.
  • To get a clearer idea about what this is here is's mission statement: Participate in Creating a Better World, One Couch at a Time

    CouchSurfing seeks to internationally network people and places, create educational exchanges, raise collective consciousness, spread tolerance and facilitate cultural understanding.

    As a community we strive to do our individual and collective parts to make the world a better place, and we believe that the surfing of couches is a means to accomplish this goal.

    CouchSurfing is not about the furniture, not just about finding free accommodations around the world; it's about making connections worldwide. We make the world a better place by opening our homes, our hearts, and our lives. We open our minds and welcome the knowledge that cultural exchange makes available. We create deep and meaningful connections that cross oceans, continents and cultures. CouchSurfing wants to change not only the way we travel, but how we relate to the world!

  • So basically we stayed with strangers that we found online and slept on their literal couch.

  • After driving about 3 hours to Chicago, we arrived at the home we were to stay at. She had left us a note leading us on a scavenger hunt to the key, however the ink that she had used had a strange and immediate reaction to the sun, and was nearly completely faded. We were able to pick out key words such as "the back" "stairs" and "silver ___" We found the key under a silver trashcan in the backyard and settled ourselves in.

  • Before we could adventure in Chicago, Kyle's online course took priority and he (we) took the online psych test. So much fun!

  • We then drove to Chinatown, several blocks away, parked our car, ate at a Vietnamise restaurant and took the train into downtown Chicago. Unsure of our game plan we wondered around until we saw a very important word on a poster, "free." It was the cultural center, featuring several different artists, including one who had photographed an abandoned wing of Ellis Island. The pictures were breathtaking, just remarkable.

  • We then found the tourist center, and motivated by a cheap, blue bag that said Chicago as a prize, went on a walking scavenger hunt of the "music district" of Chicago. The sights it took us to, however, were not very interesting, the walk was. Chicago is an amazing city, one that I might consider living in, if I weren't so adverse to the combination of extreme cold and lots of wind.

  • We then took a boat/lake tour of Chicago where we learned several interesting facts about the city. -The Chicago river originally flowed into the Lake Michigan, but when the river continuously caught on fire due to it's use as the cities trashcan, the city decided to reverse the course of the river to empty into the Mississippi River. - "The Windy City" nickname refers not only to the ferosious winds that sweep the city but also to the overly winded politicians biding for the 1893 World's Fair who incessantly raved about the glories of their city.

  • That evening we sat around with our roomates for the next couple of evenings, chatted about life, ate homemade guacamole and tortilla chips and stayed up late into the evening.

  • The following morning, we did not rise with the sun, nor did we rise until the sun was in need for it's mid morning snooze. However, we did rise before lunch time, therefore we were successful! We spent the day exploring Millennium Park, where the large mirrored object in the shape of a bean can be found, Navy Pier ( a trap more dangerous for tourists than a Venus fly trap is for flies), Chicago pizza, deep-dish style, way overpriced but ohhh so yummy, the Magnificant Mile, a mile of upscale shopping, aka: not for Vanessa and Kyle, and an evening of magical theater; Wicked! What an amazing show, it is up there with Phantom of the Opera.

  • I know, I know, you must be wondering if we left Chicago without getting a famous Chicago style hot dog. Not to worry, the following morning, on our way to Moline, we took a small detour of 45 min. to eat at Hot Dougs. It was worth the calories :)

Roadtrip Highlights: Beautiful Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor Highlights: visiting Karen and Justin
(Karen is a good friend from high school and also my roomie in college. Karen and Justin, (who also went to MacArthur, although we didn't really get to know him well until he and Karen were an item) married just a couple of months before Kyle and me. They are living in Michigan because Justin is getting his doctorate at the University of Michigan for music, specifically tuba)
  • We left Searcy at 6am which is incredibly impressive considering it is Kyle and me we are discussing. You know, us, the people who LOVE to sleep in. Shara and Mike sent us off with a wonderful care package full of lots of goodies including peanut butter crackers, sour punch straws and trail mix bars.
  • 13 hours in a car at any given time with your loved one is a very long time. We survived the trip, no one was murdered, we hid the knives and Kyle's behavior only reverted back to a 10 year old, another hour however, I might have been dealing with a pinching and screaming 2 year old.
  • Karen bounded out of her adorable, white Ann Arbor home to greet us. I am sure Justin would have been right there with her, bouncing like a bunny rabbit had he not been taking a shower. ;) It was such a wonderful feeling being able to stretch our legs and hug Karen, Karen is famous for her wonderful hugs!
  • We were given the tour of her garden which included tomatoes, lambs ear, mint and a tree house now occupied by thousands of spiders.
  • Parker, their little white furry child (dog), showed us how he could sit, lay down and sing. Very impressive! Although the treat was the only thing he really had eyes for.
  • Ann Arbor is kind of like a smaller version of Austin, hip, young and all about outdoorsie stuff and keeping the small businesses kickin.
  • Dinner was the obvious next step, with a Polish appetizer, I can't remember the name of it but it was made with potato, cheese and yummy yummy goodness. Michigan brewed beers were a must for the boys .
  • With our new bartending license we decided that Karen and Justin's mint needed to be used, and Mojitos were the obvious choice! Yummy!
  • The next day was full of fun times. We toured around U of M, picnicked by a lake in front of the music building, and canoed down beautiful Huron River. It was delightful although the advertisement promised an abundance of wildlife on our scenic route, geese, and strange humans looking off into the distance at seemingly nothing was just about all that we witnessed. At one point Karen and Justin sneaked up behind us and attached their rope to our canoe exclaiming, "I caught me a Kyle and Vanessa!" It was very funny.
  • I should mention that we saw Captain Jack Sparrow that evening walking around the campus. Not sure why he was so far inland, maybe he was in search of a canon, we ruled out the girls since Michigan girls are not famous for their good looks,but he was generous enough to allow us a picture with him. (not the real Johhny Depp in case you were wondering)
  • The next morning Kyle and I decided to go for a run. Kyle mapped out a route for us and wrote down every turn. The route was to be 4.8 miles, but as you can imagine, not everything went to plan. Our first mistake: running without cell phones in a city we were unfamilar. Second mistake: not taking one of our turns and continuing to run for a mile afterwards. Third mistake: trying to run in the generally correct direction. We stopped running to ask a man blowing leaves how far we were from our destination, 3-4 miles was his answer. After walking a ways, we stopped a man driving a car and asked what direction we should be walking. Thankfully he was kind enough to give us a ride home. It was very fortunate because I am not sure when we would have gotten home if it wasn't for his kindness.
  • Blueberry picking was next on the agenda and proved to be lots of fun! We did have to search out the ripe berries, however, but 4 pounds of blue berries, and 25 pictures later, we were heading home, well more accurately we heading for ice cream.
  • We made a blueberry crumble for dessert for our backyard grill. Great Job Justin by they way! And we had an unexpected addition. When Kyle and I worked at Disney World in Florida, we made a friend, Colleen, who was from Michigan. I had no idea however that she lived in Ann Arbor, but we soon discovered we were in the same town and had her over for our grilling adventure. It was great to see her, it had been 4 years since our parting at Disney! What a small world!
  • The next morning we left for Chicago. Visiting friends is bittersweet, it makes you remember why they were important to you in the first place, but goodbyes inevitably must follow. We love you guys! Thanks for making our trip so memorable!
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