Tag Archives: vacation

Southwest Colorado Adventures, Days 2-3: Mesa Verde

For the first part of this story, read this post

After lunch with my cousin and her boys in Bayfield and a quick stop for ice in Durango, we headed toward Mesa Verde. As we drove, green hillsides and winding roads greeted us, and then we saw the Mesa projecting above us, and we knew we’d arrived.

We started at the Visitor Center, where we bought our tour tickets for the next day and lingered a while, enjoying yet another stunning vista. Then, we drove up another winding road to Morefield Campground, the only campground in Mesa Verde National Park, where we checked in, then slowly circled, searching for an available spot with a decent bit of shade.

IMG_7483

Once we found a shady campsite, we set up camp, built a fire, and made dinner (this recipe — so good!). After we ate, did dishes, and drowned our fire, we headed over to the two-mile (round trip) Knife Edge trail, which the ranger at the VC had told us we had to hike at sunset. He was not wrong. All along the trail, the entire southwestern corner of Colorado — and beyond — is visible. Distant mountain ranges mark the horizon, smaller hills and mesas dot the landscape below, and unique geology lines the trail and the hills beyond. As the sun sank, its brilliant, then softening, light cast a glow over the entire valley, turning the rocks yellow, then orange, then pink.

IMG_3910IMG_7452IMG_7451IMG_3913

Knife Edge was a short and easy hike, but that view made it one of our favorites of all time. Neither my words nor my iPhone pictures can really do it justice.

We could have stayed at Knife Edge until the sun disappeared entirely, but we also wanted to catch a ranger program at the campground’s amphitheater, so we headed back down the trail as the light faded. The program was focussed on storytelling. It was just okay — the ranger was new and had some kinks to work out in her presentation — but it was fun, and stargazing as we headed back to our campsite and to bed was a perfect way to end a wonderful day.

The next morning, I was woken early by birdsong outside our tent. (Okay, I was woken by a full bladder, but then I heard the birds). When I got back from the bathroom, Jordan and I lay in bed –er, sleeping bags –and chatted until about 6:00, when I rolled out of bed and went for a 20-minute walk-run around the campground. Just down the hill from our campsite, I came upon five deer — four bucks and a doe — nonchalantly munching their breakfast beside the road. They were pretty tame, as National Park deer tend to be, and this one posed nicely for a picture before I headed on my way:

FullSizeRender (7)
He posed nicely, but apparently I can’t hold a camera still, so he’s all blurry.

When I returned from my little jog, we ate a quick breakfast, then headed out for another day of adventure, starting with a tour of Cliff Palace, the enormous dwelling that you probably picture when you think “Mesa Verde.” The ranger leading our tour was excellent, teaching us facts and theories about the history of Cliff Palace and its inhabitants.

IMG_7463
Jordan doing the Cliff Palace thing

After Cliff Palace, we drove over to Balcony House, billed as the “adventurous tour.” Of course, I can’t resist anything that claims to be adventurous, so I was really excited for this tour. We again had a delightful ranger leading the tour — he was knowledgeable, interesting, and funny. Even if he hadn’t been leading the tour, Balcony House would’ve been fascinating, sparking my imagination as I tried to picture how people had worked and lived there one thousand years ago. And the “adventurous” parts — the 32-foot ladder and narrow tunnel — were pretty fun, too.

IMG_7470
The remnants of what gives Balcony House its name (and a bunch of other tourists)

After Balcony House, we headed over to the Chapin Museum, where we refilled our waters and ate our usual vacation lunch of PBJs, sitting in the shade overlooking Spruce Tree House. This  was as close as we’d get to Spruce Tree this trip, since it was closed due to a rockslide. Darn.

After lunch, we headed out on the Pictograph Trail (which we learned is misnamed, because it leads to petroglyphs, not pictographs). We were quite hot, since we started the 2.4-mile hike at 1:40 p.m., but we had plenty of water, and the scenery on the hike was well worth a little sweat. The trail is steep in some places, with narrow sandstone steps, which made the crowd thin out after half a mile or so, leaving the trail mostly to us.

IMG_3921
Squeezing through a narrow part of Pictograph Trail

The petroglyphs were interesting, and we were glad we’d picked up a trail guide at the trailhead, as it explained some interpretations of the etchings. The ‘glyphs weren’t the only interesting part of the trail, either: remnants of walls, interesting geology, and unique plants dot the trail, too.

After the hike, we took respite in the air-conditioned museum for a bit, watching the movie and reading all the displays because learning is fun. The only thing left to do on Chapin Mesa then was to drive the Mesa Loop and look at the ruins along it. We did, of course, and while the stops were interesting, they didn’t make for very interesting pictures. Use your imagination.

We returned to the campground sweaty, dirty, and tired — the best way to end a day of vacation. Although it may not really seem “camping-ish” to have showers at a campground, we were pretty grateful for them that day. We ate dinner, showered, and collapsed into our sleeping bags, ready to get a good night’s sleep and do it all again tomorrow.

Have you been to Mesa Verde? 

What’s your favorite National Park?

 

Advertisements

Southwest Colorado Adventures, Days 1-2: Pagosa Springs and Chimney Rock

If you’ve followed my blog for a few years (or if you know us in real life), you know that Jordan and I try to take a vacation every year. We usually try to go for about a week, someplace that we’ve never been before, and our favorite destinations are national parks. We didn’t take a trip in 2016 because we were starting new jobs and buying a house and moving. We’d talked about not taking one this year, either, since buying the house and a car and new windows for the house left us feeling less than flush. But our trips are important, so we decided on a budget-friendly, mostly camping Colorado-cation this year.

Our adventure started bright and early on a Sunday morning. We’d packed all we could the night before, so I went for a quick 2-mile walk-run (I’m still pretty restricted, thanks to this injury), and we packed the cooler, loaded up our bikes, and were on the road around 7 a.m.

Our ultimate destination was Mesa Verde, but since I’m not a good road-tripper, we’d decided to break the drive into two days, spending Sunday night in Pagosa Springs. The drive was beautiful, and we arrived in Pagosa around 12:30 p.m. We parked at the Visitor Center and ate our PBJs by the river, watching children splash and rafters and kayakers paddle past. After lunch, we  explored the town. Turns out, there’s not much to the town of Pagosa, and most of what’s there is closed on Sundays. We popped into the few shops that were open, then decided  to try out the hot springs.

IMG_7433
This coffee shop in Pagosa Springs gets me. 

Pagosa boasts three options for hot springs dippin’, all for different prices. We chose Overlook Hot Springs, the mid-priced choice. Overlook has three levels of pools: indoor, courtyard, and rooftop. The rooftop pools offer a view of downtown Pagosa, the riverwalk, and the mountains. The courtyard pools are one-person tubs — we joked that we felt like that weird commercial with the people in separate bathtubs — and the indoor pools are nice, but nothing spectacular. Overlook was surprisingly quiet: we shared the rooftop pools with another couple for a few minutes, but otherwise had the place to ourselves. The soak was a nice way to loosen up after a long morning of driving, and we appreciated that they had showers to (try to) wash the sulfur smell out of our bodies when we were done.

We rounded out the afternoon with beers and a snack at local brewery Riff Raff Brewing. The beer was good and the chips and salsa even better; definitely stop at Riff Raff if you’re ever in Pagosa.

FullSizeRender (6)

We relaxed on the patio for a bit, then headed out to our campground. Our campsite was lovely, right on the river, but a little crowded. Kids were noisily playing ball, riding bikes, and splashing in the river near us, but we didn’t mind; we were glad that they were outside and enjoying nature instead of glued to whatever screen was handy. Plus, they cleared out and quieted down early, so we had a glorious night of sleep listening to the river flowing behind our tent.

IMG_3908

Monday morning, we ate some riverside oatmeal, packed up camp, and headed to Chimney Rock National Monument, between Pagosa Springs and the little town of Bayfield. Chimney Rock offers two-hour guided tours, the first starting at 9:30 a.m. We were glad we’d chosen that first tour, as even at 9:30, the sun was pretty warm on those exposed trails.

Although Chimney Rock is a National Monument, it’s run by the Forest Service, not the National Park Service, which means its tours are run by volunteers, not rangers. The volunteers bussed us up from the parking area to the ruins, and our tour started with the lower loop, The Great Kiva Trail, where we saw the remains of pit houses and, of course, a Great Kiva. The view was beautiful — mesas, hills, valleys, and mountains as far as we could see.

Once we finished the lower loop, we headed up The Pueblo Trail — the part of Chimney Rock that visitors can see only on a guided tour — to a Great House atop a hill and aligned with Chimney and Companion Rocks (that alignment is important: it’s how the Ancestral Puebloans kept track of the summer and winter solstices and therefore knew when to plant).

IMG_7443
Chimney and Companion Rocks (and the very edge of the trail)

The climb was short but steep, narrow, and rocky in places, and some in our group had to quit halfway up and head back down. The view from the top was well worth the climb, with views of the entire valley below. At the top, we explored the enormous Great House, learning from our guide and trying to eavesdrop on the three archeologists who had passed us on the way up.

IMG_7442

After our tour concluded and we headed back down, we wanted to visit the little cabin/museum at the base, but since we were meeting my cousin in Bayfield for lunch, we didn’t have time. I guess that means we’ll just have to go back!

After lunch and a quick stop for ice in Durango, we headed toward Mesa Verde. Since this post is getting long, I’ll save our Mesa Verde adventures for next time. Stay tuned!

Have you been to Pagosa Springs and/or Chimney Rock? 

Your favorite vacation type: camping or hotelling?

 

Caribbean Cruise Recap

Jordan and I make taking an annual vacation a priority. Instead of exchanging birthday/anniversary/Christmas gifts, we stow away money for a trip each year. Usually, we try to see at least one national park on our trip, but this year, we decided to mix things up and try a cruise. We joined a travel club a few years ago, and they ran a special on cruises this year, so we figured, why not? Here’s a recap of our latest adventure, complete with lots of pictures! The camera on my phone broke just a few hours before we left (and it’s still not fixed, so you might be in for some pictureless posts in the near future), so all the pictures are thanks to Jordan. 

We booked a red-eye flight because it was significantly cheaper than more pleasantly-timed flights, and we decided we’d deal with being tired and spend our money on excursions. We flew out of Denver at 11:30 on Friday night, landing in Miami at 5:00 a.m. I’d hoped we could sleep a bit on the plane, but the screaming twin babies behind us had other plans. Ah well; we made it to Miami in one piece, got our luggage, and spent most of Saturday morning waiting: waiting at the airport for the transfer to the ship, waiting at the port to be allowed to board, waiting in line to get on the boat. By lunchtime, though, we were on the boat, eating boat food and ready to start our adventure!

photo 2 (28)

photo 3 (24)

We explored the boat for a bit, and once we were allowed in our cabins, we napped while we waited for our luggage to be delivered, then took some much-needed showers and headed to the dining room for dinner.

photo 4 (14)

The next morning, the boat docked at Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, and we set off on our first excursion: snorkeling. We got on a little boat, got fitted with snorkel gear, and were taken out away from shore, where the water was deep and clear, and the coral and fish were gorgeous.

photo 4 (16)

photo 1 (31)

photo 2 (29)

Boat selfie!

We went snorkeling in Hawaii on our honeymoon, and this was so much better. The water was crystal-clear, and the variety of fish was incredible.

Before we knew it, our time was up and we had to head back to the island. We grabbed some lunch, and then went on excursion #2: a bike-and-hike tour of the island.

Jordan rides super-fast.
Jordan rides super-fast.

photo 3 (25)

We had a good time cruising around the island, but when we booked the tour, we were expecting to learn about local culture. What we didn’t know was that Carnival owns this island, and the only people who live on it are a few maintenance staff. Everyone else comes in the day that the cruise ships arrive. The “tour” was basically, “here are some excursions that you could have done if you paid for them.” That was a little disappointing. But the beach was pretty. photo 5 (11)

On the hike portion, our guide told us about the types of plants and animals on the island, and she showed us some ruins from the island’s first settlers. That part was interesting, and we hiked to the island’s high point: a whopping 60 feet!

At the 60-foot "summit"
At the 60-foot “summit”
Jordan and some ruins from the island's original inhabitants
Jordan and some ruins from the island’s original inhabitants

photo 1 (32)

When we got back from our tour, we had just enough time to dip our toes in the water one more time, and then we had to get back on the boat.

The next day, Monday, was a day at sea, so we spent the day reading and playing in the pool. Those are not very photo-worthy activities, so the only picture I have from Monday is from that evening, which was one of the ship’s “formal” nights.

photo 5 (12)

I’m mostly sharing this picture to prove that I do occasionally wear something besides running clothes.

On Tuesday, we docked in Saint Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. I ran on the ship’s (tiny) track that morning, so I got to watch this as we approached:

photo 1 (33)

Not a bad view, right? We had an early-afternoon excursion booked but the morning was free, so we walked around the shops in St. Thomas, which is famous for its jewelry deals. I’m not a big shopper, but my watch died a few months ago, so I hoped we’d find a new one here. We did. Yay!  After shopping, we grabbed a quick lunch and headed back to the ship, where we met our guides for the next excursion. They took us to Sapphire Beach, which was billed as a secluded, quiet beach with great snorkeling.

photo 2 (31)

The beach was beautiful, but it certainly wasn’t secluded: a resort backed up to it. The snorkeling was mediocre at best — the coral was really close to the surface (we both banged ourselves up on it) and the water was murky — nothing like the experience we had in the Bahamas. We got frustrated trying to snorkel, so we spent most of the afternoon just chilling on the beach — not a bad thing, but disappointing since we’d paid for what was supposed to be a snorkeling trip. Not cool, Carnival.

On the way back from the beach, the bus made a quick photo stop at one of the high points on the island. Beautiful.

photo 3 (27)

The next day, Wednesday, was by far my favorite day of the trip. We docked in Puerto Rico, and our first activity was a zip-lining excursion. I was a little nervous about it, since the St. Thomas excursion had been a letdown, but this one did not disappoint. We loaded onto a bus that took us out to a former plantation just outside the city of San Juan. As he drove, the bus driver also acted as a tour guide, and he was knowledgeable, funny, and interesting.

EcoTours, the zipline company, also impressed me. The staffers, all college-aged guys, were personable and knowledgeable, and safety was clearly a priority. I also loved the zipline course: it was beautiful, and it was fun, requiring hiking and crossing suspension bridges between lines. The longest line was 1,000 feet, so we really got to enjoy the views. If you go to Puerto Rico, check out this company! Here’s a zipline photo dump for your viewing pleasure.

photo 1 (34)

photo 2 (32)

photo 3 (28)

photo 4 (17)

photo 5 (13)

photo 1 (36)

photo 2 (34)

After ziplining, our bus driver/tour guide dropped us off in downtown San Juan. We didn’t really have enough time to take a taxi to the “real” beach, so J and I walked down off a pier, just enough that I could say I’d been to the beach in Puerto Rico.

photo 3 (29)

photo 4 (18)

Then, we went to Castillo San Cristobal, a fort at the San Juan National Historic Site. We’re both kind of history nerds, so touring the old fort (originally built in the 1600s) was interesting and a lot of fun.

photo 5 (14)

We spent only a few hours in Puerto Rico, so I would love to go back someday. There’s a ton that I’d like to see and do!

Our final port was at Grand Turk. None of the ship’s excursions appealed to us (at least not enough to pay for them), so this was a beach day — not a bad choice, since the beach was beautiful.

photo 3 (30)

photo 2 (35)

photo 1 (37)

Friday, the final cruise day, was another day at sea. Honestly, it was a boring day. We could never get in the pool because it was so crowded, so we’d read for a while, walk around in the air conditioning for a while, repeat.

On Saturday, the cruise was over and we were back in Miami. Our flight didn’t leave until 9:15 that night, so we rented a car and explored Miami for a few hours. We visited the Botanical Gardens (where I made a new friend),photo 5 (15)

spent a few hours wandering the Lincoln Road Mall, where we had an amazing lunch (if you’re ever in Miami, eat at Spris. It was honestly the best meal we had the whole trip), and took a stroll at Oleta River Park. Before we knew it, we were back at the airport, back on a plane, and eventually, back home.

We certainly had a lot of fun on this trip, but I don’t think we’ll do another cruise. I like to get away from people on a vacation, and that’s pretty much impossible on a ship. I also like to do things on our own timetable and not be subject to someone else’s schedule. But we had a great time, and the towel animals were fun.

photo 3 (31)

I thought this frog looked good in my glasses. Intellectual frog wants to discuss books with you.
I thought this frog looked good in my glasses. Intellectual frog wants to discuss books with you.
What is this?!
What is this?!

photo 1 (39)

photo 2 (37)

photo 1 (40)

photo 2 (38)

Since this is a running blog and all, I should probably briefly discuss my training on the trip. In short: training on a boat kind of sucks. My options were to run on a treadmill in the well-equipped but very hot and crowded gym, or run on the nine-laps-per-mile track, which was also crowded and hot but at least had an ocean view and an occasional breeze. I chose the track on all but hill-training days, but the longest I ran on the trip was 7 miles (that’s 63 circles. My sanity could take only so much). I still got in all my scheduled runs (this week didn’t have  a long run on the schedule, which was kind of weird but also perfect), so I was satisfied.

As always, vacation was a ton of fun, but it’s also good to be home. Now it’s time to start planning for next year’s trip! We’re thinking the Smoky Mountains, but no decisions have been made yet. Any suggestions?

Have you ever been on a cruise? 

Tell me about your favorite vacation ever (and maybe we’ll steal your spot)!

South Carolina Trip: Part 2

I ended Part I at Saturday night, after we’d gotten some good advice about escaping Bike Week by heading north. On Sunday, after another sticky run and breakfast with the turtles and ducks, we loaded up the car and cruised up to North Carolina.

We started our day at the USS North Carolina, a battleship-turned-museum that now resides in its namesake state. J and I are both museum nerds, so we had a really great time,  but I think most people would also enjoy this shipseum (I made that word up, clearly). Basically the entire ship is open for visitors to explore, from the big guns and anchors on deck
photo (2)USSNC2 USSNC1to the powder kegs and missile rooms
USSNC5
USSNC4to the bunk rooms down below.
USSNC3

The whole self-guided tour was interesting and informative, and it made me respect our military even more. Seriously, can you imagine living for months in that ship? And, you know, getting shot at? Wow.

If you’re in the North Carolina area, I definitely recommend that you visit the USS North Carolina. But don’t wear a dress. That made all the ladder-climbing an awkward and unladylike pursuit. 🙂

Once we’d finished at the ship, we ate our PB & Js at a nearby park, then decided to check out Airlie Gardens. Airlie’s website describes it thus: “Celebrating more than a century of gardens by the sea, our history dates back to 1886. Join us then in a self-guided walking tour of these 67-acres of historical gardens of mighty live oaks, tall pines and lakes which are abundant with colorful wildlife. Airlie Gardens, where history, art and nature come together to create a destination spot for garden lovers throughout the world.” The gardens were stunningly beautiful, as was the stainless steel artwork that was their current exhibit. Ready for a flood of pretty pictures?
aerlie magnolia aerlie pond aerlie plant aerlie metal treeaerlie flower aerlie butterfly aerlie bench We really enjoyed Airlie; it was well worth the $9 tickets, as we spent several hours walking the trails and enjoying the gardens.

Once we finished at Airlie, we headed back to South Carolina, stopping for a stroll on a North Carolina beach (so we could bring home sand from both states. We are nerds.) before driving to Little River, a small town north of Myrtle Beach, where we had dinner (fresh fish, of course) at a quiet waterside restaurant — a nice end to a fun day.

photo7 (1)

The next day was Memorial Day Monday — i.e. the last day of Bike Week — so we decided to spend the day in Charleston. We were kind of stupid about our Charleston day — there were several things we wanted to do that were half-day excursions, so instead of just picking one or two, we didn’t do any. That was dumb, but we still had fun. We ate our sandwiches in Battery Park, explored some old neighborhoods while eavesdropping on horse-drawn wagon tours, and walked Charleston’s Museum Mile — a string of old houses and museums that you can walk while reading information about each.

charleston house

 

That picture was across from Battery Park. We also saw the famous Rainbow Row, and I took a marginal picture of it:
rainbow row
When we finished the Museum Mile, we stopped at the Old City Market, where I was tempted to buy this sign:
happy sand
Instead, we bought some pictures for our house, and then left the market and ate some frozen yogurt before heading back.

We had heard that Murrells Inlet, near Myrtle Beach, was the best place to get seafood, so we decided to stop there on the way back from Charleston. Unfortunately, we didn’t consult Yelp and the restaurant we chose was not very tasty (so. much. oil.), but the views were pretty and we still had a good time hanging out together, so it was a win.

This post is getting long, so I’ll leave off here for now. Check back tomorrow to hear about the rest of the trip (including my new favorite place on Earth).

South Carolina Trip: Part 1

This is the first of what will likely be several vacation recap posts. It’s also the least photo-filled, but you’ll understand why as you read. The good pictures are coming later!

Though all our information said vacation started Friday, it technically started Thursday night for us. We left the house around 8:00 to make sure we had time for a quick Target stop, parking, and checking in for our 1:00 a.m. flight. Yeah, that part was rough… but it saved us a significant amount of money, so whatever.

After a  night of fitful (i.e. nonexistant) airplane sleeping, we landed in Charlotte for a 2.5-hour layover (in hindsight, we should have just driven from Charlotte. Next time, we will know), during which I was super classy and stretched out on the airport floor for a catnap. A short flight later, we landed in Myrtle Beach (I love landing at airports that make you feel like you’re landing in the ocean. Is that weird?), grabbed our rental car, and vacation truly began!

photo (1)

It was too early to check in to our resort, so we instead found some lunch (with an ocean view, of course), then checked out the shopping center near our resort. It was built over a lake, and in that lake lived a ton of turtles.

photo

There were dispensers all around in which you could drop 50 cents to get a handful of turtle food. Feeding those turtles was seriously one of the highlights of the trip for me. We may have stopped here almost every day to feed them. They’re just so cute and turtly!

Anyway, I eventually had to stop feeding turtles so we could go buy some groceries and check into our condo. We really like to stay in condos or cabins with kitchens when we travel. That way, we can save money on breakfast and lunch, then have a nicer dinner out… which we did that night, at the House of Blues. There was no live music that night, but it was still fun!

The next morning, we slept in a little to make up for the sleepless plane night; then I got up and went for a run. I was a little sad that we weren’t staying near the beach, but running along the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway each morning was nothing to complain about!
intercoastal waterwayWhen I got back, J and I whipped up some eggs and ate them on our patio, where we discovered that there were more turtles living in the pond outside our condo, along with some rather aggressive ducks. This one bit J’s toe when we wouldn’t share our breakfast.
toe duck
Once we finished breakfast, we were ready to hit the beach! But first we had to hit a local farmer’s market, where we were pretty excited to buy some fresh strawberries and cantaloupe (which we won’t have here for another couple of months). We then smothered ourselves with sunscreen and cruised down to Myrtle Beach State Park, where we spent the next several hours enjoying some long-awaited ocean time.
beach toes at mbspOnce the sun got a little too powerful for my uber-pastiness, we decided to head back up and see the boardwalk. Yeah, bad choice. Turns out, it was “Bike Week,” which meant that thousands of crazy motorcyclists were swarming Myrtle Beach, weaving in and out of cars, creating all sorts of stressful traffic. It took us three hours to get from the south end to the north end of town, and we didn’t even try to go to the boardwalk. It was nuts, and definitely the least-fun part of the whole trip.

By the time we got back to our resort area, we were just happy to get out of the car and move around … and when we saw a wine shop advertising tastings, that sounded like exactly what we needed, so in we went. As we tasted, we talked to the proprietor, who explained that by Monday (Memorial Day) afternoon, all the bikers would be gone, and getting around would be much  easier. She suggested that the next day (Sunday) we head up to North Carolina instead of fighting to get back down to the Myrtle Beach stuff.

After leaving the wine shop, we had a delicious fish dinner at Flying Fish Market (my goal for this trip was to eat fresh seafood every night. I’m proud to say I met that goal), then headed back and crashed hard — the sleeplessness and the long drive caught up with us, at last!
jordan at flying fish restaurant
The next day, we took the wine lady’s advice. We had a great time in North Carolina on Sunday… but I’ll tell you about it tomorrow, as this post is getting pretty long.

Thinking Out Loud: (Almost) Last Day of School Edition

Whew, what a week it has been… and it’s only Thursday. In addition to the usual craziness that is the last week of school, our district server (you know, the one that hosts our Internet service and our entire network) has been down the past two days. My sophomores’ final projects are multimedia presentations, and our yearbook (which needs to be done in three days) and grade book are both online.

Needless to say, things have been a little stressful. My brain is barely working. So naturally, I’m going to link up with Amanda at Running with Spoons and think out loud. You’re welcome.

Thinking-Out-Loud

  • On my run tonight, I heard a woman call her dog  “Unagi.” And now that is my favorite dog ever.
  • Now that I’m ramping my mileage back up, the infamous “runger” is also ramping up. It was super awkward today when my kids were (silently) taking their final, and my stomach was growling like a depressed Yeti.
  • This image keeps popping up on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram….
    and it’s driving me insane. Public Service Announcement from the former pig farmer’s daughter: Pigs don’t really sweat. That’s why they have to wallow in mud to cool themselves. So when you tell me to “sweat like a pig,” you’re telling me to roll around in mud. So no thanks.
  • This face. I have made it so many times this week:
    Like when my freshmen asked if they could turn in their books the day before the final. You know, instead of using them to study. Or when a student said, “The rubric said we have to cite our music. I got my music off my phone. Can I just cite my phone?” …. At least she was reading the rubric, I guess. Oh, kids and their inability to think before speaking in springtime. 🙂
  • Although the students are currently driving me bats, I am actually sad that the year is over. I get the freshmen again next year, but the sophomores are moving on from me. I’m sad, because I’ve had this group since they were in eighth grade, and we are pals. (Don’t tell them I said that. If they ask, we are NOT pals.)
  • In one week, I’ll be here:
    (source) Try not to be too jealous. Okay, be jealous. It’s awesome.

How are things in your world?

Have you been to South Carolina? Any must-sees that we have to know about?

Currently…

I’ve seen these “Currently…” posts on so many blogs lately, and I always enjoy reading them, so I decided to join the party. Here are my current things….

Books: I just finished Jodi Piccoult’s Handle With Care, which was very good. Now I’m reading The English Patient, but I can’t really get into it. It’s never a good sign when I take a book home over the weekend and don’t even open it. I also need to download some books onto my nook for vacation … recommendations?

Food: Now that it’s warming up a bit, I’ve been craving salads like crazy. I’ve also been loving the in-season strawberries (not in season here, of course, but still more delicious than any other time of year).

Drinks: Green tea — hot, usually, because even when it’s 70 degrees out, it’s approximately -25 in my classroom. I also made some iced green tea with lemon and mint this weekend…mmmm.

Music: I’m loving the vacation-eqsue tunes right now, for obvious reasons. Aside from the obvious Jimmy Buffet, I’m playing this one on repeat:
TV: I don’t really watch much TV, but since I’ve had a lot of early-morning treadmill runs lately, I’ve been catching up on the final season of Psych. I will miss this show.

Needs/Wants: None of these are really needs… it’s not like I’ll die without them … but they’re things I want before vacation. The biggest need is a bathing suit. I’ve had all of mine since before J and I were married, and a few too many lake dips have them lake-water-colored, and they’re kinda falling apart. I also need sandals, shorts… and a LOT of SPF 50 (that one really is a need).

Guilty pleasure:
Walking around the zoo yesterday with a group of kids instead of going to work and teaching all day.

This is a clouded leopard cub... a.k.a. the cutest creature ever.
This is a clouded leopard cub… a.k.a. the cutest creature ever.
Bane of my existence: Seniors. Particularly the ones whose final paper (20% of their final grade) is due Friday… and who haven’t started said paper.
Indulgence: I’m trying to carefully avoid many indulgences until vacation (because I plan to indulge a lot while there), but dark chocolate is still my go-to treat.
Blessing: So many! I’ll pick this one: Last week, I got an e-mail from a former student thanking me for teaching her in high school. Little things like that make me feel so blessed.
Slang: “Spendy” has been making a frequent appearance…maybe because I’m looking at all those vacation needs/wants and they do not fit within my miniature budget.
Excitement: Oh, you haven’t caught on yet? We’re going on vacation.
Mood: A little stressed, but pretty happy, because all those stressors are pretty good things. The end of the year is so busy, but it’s so fun to see students growing up, improving, and moving on to great things.
Link:  This article about how top-tier schools don’t make for happier or more successful lives. Good food for thought as I watch a new group of kids graduate and other move up into that senior slot and start thinking about their futures.
What are some of your current things?