A Very Rainier Weekend

Yodle-ay-hee-hoo!

Spending more than 48 hours in the great out-of-doors makes me feel like yodeling.

As I sit down to type this post of epic proportions, I have to wonder how it went by so darn fast. It seems like yesterday we were at QFC, filling our cart with Bud Light Limes and Hebrew Nats. Perhaps that’s where I should start, n’est pas?

Firewood, beer, hot dogs and bug spray. These are just a few of the supplies Bry and I snagged on Friday in preparation for our first official camping trip in Washington since our September move further west! Bry had mapped out our Saturday schedule which looked a little something like this:

  • 4:00 am – Wake up
  • 4:30 am – Drive to camping ground at White River
  • 7:00 am – Arrive to camp-spot
  • 9:00 am – Begin day hike to Sunrise
  • 1:00 pm – Lunch break at Sunrise Visitor Center
  • 2:00 pm – Hike Wonderland Trail back to camp spot
  • 3:30 pm – Arrive camp spot

The 4 am wake up was just wonderful. Brought me right back to my days working at the Starbucks in the Davenport Hotel. I used to sleep in my uniform.

I rolled myself into the Jeep and surrounded myself with pillows and blankets while Bryan hit the 24-hour Starbucks in Kirkland for a venti misto. I awoke as Bryan pulled into the campsite at White River and marveled at well, the White River. It really is white. Very LOTRish.

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We finagled our camping spot and Bry Jet-Boiled me up a VIA to combat the low temps. I slapped my face a few times (Harry from Dumb & Dumber style) and completed a set of 25 jumping jacks to wake up my lethargic stems. Then, we hit the tray-tray.

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The spot

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It started off with a gradual incline and after only 15 minutes I inquired as to the length of our excurion. We thought we were in for a 10 mile day which sounded about as good as a soggy ham sammy on a hot day. I got the majority of my complaints out within the first hour of the hike…’my legs hurt’, ‘so how far is it again?’, ‘I wish we could just switch bodies so you knew how I feel’…

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I spoke of the heaps of work I had in front of me – preparing for Megan’s bachelorette party the coming weekend by making a cake, shopping for my LBD (the theme), securing a lunch reservation and buying a gift. OH – not to mention cleaning our entire apartment. No sweat, Nat. It’ll all come together. So, I pulled up my already-above-the-bellybutton gray hiking pants from REI and pressed on.

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The trail evened out, got steeper, evened out, got steeper. We had traveled 3 miles on our way to Glacier Basin, when Bry decided to bag the idea and just head on up to Sunrise. So, we did an about-face and half a mile later were back at the fork to hike the 5 miles up to Sunrise. I pulled my hair back, made my pants into shorts and got all gangsta.

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Most beautiful girl in the world.

Every time I told myself “This sucks – I want to be at home cleaning out my tub – organizing my sh*t –  watching makeup tutorials  – eating Pirate’s Booty t”, I just had to take a step back, quite literally. Here I was, on this absolutely gorgeous trail with hardly any other people, taking in views of Rainier in all her majesty, eating trail mix and spending time with my favorite person in the world.

Bryan and Natalie Jackson Hole.

I look like a wet dog.

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We reached the top of Sunrise and I was elated at the view, beautiful surroundings and the fact that the uphill portion of the day was DONE.

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Ohhh the white socks.

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Although trekking up the mountain was behind us, it turns out the dangers were not.  We approached a snow field and as we drew nearer, I was realized it was looking a little steep. Bry grabbed my hand and said, “I’ll go first and we’ll go nice and slow.” TWSS. Oh – and might I add that I was wearing flimsy cross-trainers from Fred Meyer? Balls.

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As we crossed the sloping snow field, I looked down to my right and realized that one false step could result in sliding quite quickly down the embankment of snow into a pool of jagged rocks at the bottom. I surmised that falling down the mountain may not result in instant death, rather a most frightening fall. Reaching the other side safely, I realized what I had just done and decided it was a good time to cry a little. So I did…

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We hiked a bit further, played the “last meal” game and wouldn’t you know it? Hit yet another snow field! This one was quite a bit longer than the first. We held hands, steadied ourselves again the snowy mountain and after a 2 minute sloooow trek, had reached the other side.

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Yeah, we didn’t.

After our snow field excursions, my mood was quickly lifted at the sight of mountain goats. You heard me. There were mommas and babies and well, it was pretty cool.

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It wasn’t long after the goats, that we had reached the visitors center! We sat at a picnic table, gobbled down our turkey + swiss sandwiches and Tim’s Cascade chips and then inquired inside as to the quickest way down.

We made our way back down the mile long road to get back to the trail head and then took the famous wonderland trail back to camp. Glancing at the map at the visitor’s center, it looked like a somewhat straight shot back down – we figured no more then a couple of miles. We learned it was about 3.5 after hitting a trail marker a good chunk into it, but obviously we were on our way DOWN so everything was peachy.

We reached camp around 3:30 pm and after changing out of our dirty clothes and applying some Pink Chiffon body spray (or was that just me?) we settled into our camp chairs with PBRs and sore legs. ‘Murica.

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Yes, we put up that American flag.

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No clue how Bry got this pic!

I read my Brides magazine and sipped a vodka + soda outta the Nalgene while Bryan set up our new tent from Targs. We really glamped it up this time by bringing along our air mattress.

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As the sun fell slowly behind the mountains and the sound of the White River hummed peacefully in our ears, it made me blissfully aware of the reason why I do indeed enjoy putting myself through all this. The grueling accents uphill, the bugs, the snow fields, the unexpected. It is frustrating and annoying, yet also fun. I have to get in my obligatory 15 minutes or so of complaints, tell myself there is about a million other things I should be doing – but at the end of the day, I am always glad I did it.

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Yep.

We made our dinner of Hebrew Nationals and potato chips, polished off a couple more beers and satisfied our sweet teeths with Rainbow Chips Deluxe.

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Man and Firewood

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Then we hit the air (?) in our respective sleeping bags, mine the -30 degree mummy bag which kept me wonderfully cozy and helped coax me in to a deep, scrumptious slumber within seconds.

Sunday morning I woke up to Bry asking me if I wanted to go on a “nature walk”. I think he was trying to disguise the word “hike” as best he could. I gave me a “heeell to the nah” and promptly turned over for a 45  minute snooze while Bryan eked in his last moments in “neature”.

I emerged from the comfort of our tent at the promise of a steaming cup of VIA and after once glimpse in the car window, realized I literally looked like I belonged in the wilderness. Then we packed up and hit the road early, only stopping in Enumclaw for a Starbucks and restroom break.

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Beautifying

After 2 quick showers, re-packing the cooler with MORE beer and a tub of Boursin – we ventured off to the marina to take out the Nash’s boat.

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Fueling up

We picked up our chummies Kyle, Melissa and their little one in Kirkland and spent over 3 wonderful hours hanging on the boat, watching little M experience her first boat ride and catch up.

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Little M was SO adorable.

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The day was absolutely gorgeous and Mt. Rainier was clear as crystal. I was battling a little fatigue after our 14-mile Saturday, but the great company and beautiful scenery made it just perfect.

After boating, we hit Chipotle (our new obsession) and went home to collapse after our busy weekend in the out-of-doors. I can’t believe how far I have come! Camping, hiking, being dirty – check, check, check!

Oh – and my biggest accomplishment, peeing outside 🙂 but hold your applause, because coming up is sister Megan’s bachelorette party. You know you’re excited.

Don’t miss a cupcake, unicorn or vodka drink – follow me on Bloglovin’!

Last Weekend, Part Deux

Wellll, now it’s more like two weekends ago. MY BAD!

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Sunday I met up with my sister-in-law Karen. Ok, so technically she isn’t my “sister”-in-law because she married my cousin, but these are just minor details. Karen invited me to go to the Fremont Sunday Market, including a ride. Yeehaw!  Driving into Seattle scares me, much like bangs.

We arrived at the market around noon and the sights blew me away.  Booth after booth of just about anything you can think of. Vintage lawn gnomes and blown-glass baubles. Re-stored furniture, sanded down and painted bright turquoise for a mere $150. Soaps perfumed with lavender and honey, vintage clothing –  some with pit-stains, some without. Welded metal bent into peculiar shapes like Ren & Stimpy or a melted-faced fairy princess.

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Or this.

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Duh.

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Technicolor Bow Staffs, Obvi

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Washington Onesie!

Food trucks a’plenty, pedaling everything from modestly sized pulled pork sandwiches for $6.50 to elephant ear sized naans, dripping with cilantro and garlic infused butter.  Oh yeah, and chocolate-chip-coconut macaroons – j’adore!

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Veraci Pizza

Veraci Wood Fired Pizza

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We stopped at nearly every booth, save for the one with the giant black metal sculptures of demon-possessed Ravens (yikes!). The artist himself seriously could have walked out of the Nightmare Before Christmas, threw on some leather and rolled around in white talcum powder. He kinda reminded me of the people who worked at Hot Topic when I was a wee lass in high school. Yes, I was scared of that store. I would literally run in and run out, clutching my bag of face glitters and trying to get whatever Marilyn Manson song (or so I thought) out of my head.

We sampled the enormous naan and debated our ability to re-create the carb laden masterpiece in our own kitchens.  We laughed at people who look like their dogs and noted how very cute pugs are, despite their incessant out-of-breathness.

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Massacred.

After walking by the hula-hoop booth several times and both of us agreeing how impossible this seemingly easy activity should be, I decided to give it a whirl (see what I did there?).

I was instructed to keep one foot in front of the other and move my hips rythmically back and fourth.  Despite the fact that this white-girl completely lacks any kind of rhythm,  I did decently for my first lesson. Karen stood by, laughing at my sorry attempts and happily snapping pictures along the way.

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Meee I want a HULA HOOP!!

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We were given flyers for a hula-hoop class (hey yo!) and childishly snickered at the large puffs of hair protruding from the hula-hoop gal’s armpits. Funny is funny.

One of the last stops was a retailer of all things toys. With Karen being an educator, she was able to clue me in to the new “it” toy called a Kendama.  All the rage with Karen’s classroom, we tried mastering this Japanese game of coordination. As expected, I was terrible. Karen on the other hand was brilliant at it. She haggled with the owner for a few minutes (obviously a Policar) and scored 2 Kendamas at a great price.  Oh how I love haggling.

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Loot

After we had done the martket,  we decided to grab a brewsky at one of Karen’s old college haunts, the Red Door.  Lots of wedding talk was had and future plans were made.  I felt so grateful to have spent this glorious day with Karen. Being a new gal in a big city aint easy and it’s nice to know that she is just a phone call away #imnotastalker.

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All for now. Stay tuned for tales of my wisdom teeth, bridal shower preparation and maybe some new reads.

Back in the Saddle

G’Day Gents!

Pointy.

Pointy.

How have I not used this title before?  Anyways, the point is Bryan and I have commenced this beautiful Seattle spring with our very first hike-o-the-season!! Extra punctuation is pertinent here, no?

Last Saturday, we began our morning per usual, with Bry springing out of bed much sooner than I, while badgering me with periodic updates as to the time.  Once I was up, I was given about 30 seconds to do what takes most around 20 minutes.  When Mr.Nash is promised a day in the mountains, his attention span is shorter than Miley’s hair.

Out the door by 7:30 and to Starbucks for his & hers mistos by 8, we were doing great.  Our destination? Tiger Mountain. Where neither of had been, nor knew what to expect.  I was “bajigady” to say the least.  Since moving from Jackson, the biggest hill I have climbed are the escalators at Nordstrom, mmmkay? The drive was beautiful and the company, cute.

Upon arrival, we were astonished to find way more cars than we had anticipated.  I guess we’re not in Jackson anymore.  As we made our way to the trailhead, Bryan pointed out that, true-to-form I didn’t look “the part”.  I kindly reminded him that, of course I didn’t look the part.  I’m not burning $100 on a pair of actual hiking pants at REI when my beat-up Abercrombie capris (circa 2005) will do.  Or succumbing to a top from Lulu when I’ve got a perfectly good hot pink hoodie from Victoria’s Secret with rhinestones.  I’ve got furniture to buy and makeup to save for.  My old running shoes are good as new as soon as I pop some orthodics in.

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Hood Utilizer

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The trail started off nice and mellow and then gradually got steeper.  I’ve always been a fan of trails that have ebbs and flows, ups and downs, much like life (philosophical) and Tiger Mountain pleased. Even in my “20 minutes on the treadmill” shape, I was feelin’ mighty strong.  And wouldn’t you know it, we smoked past every single person!  Not that I care :). At one point, I looked at Bryan and said breathlessly, “We still got it!”.  A high-5 ensued and maybe a chest bump. It’s real.

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Trailblazin’

Of course any hike is not complete without a healthy dose of good ol’ fashioned drama.  This time it came in the form of a tiny critter which I openly loathe: a garter snake.  I must give them a nod of approval for their color scheme (black & white) but otherwise my feelings closely parallel what I feel for Spencer & Heidi Pratt.  Just complete and total hatred. Too strong a word??

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Summit!

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Mountainy

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Classic G.Danielson Pose

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Ahh..Vitamin D

We thought the hike was around 4 miles round-trip but it turned out to be about 6.  Probably 6.5 if you add the walk to the car.  It took us around  2 hours car-to-car and I was pretty tired on the way home.  That is, until Bryan snuck in my old Dixie Chicks CD and once again I was ‘ready to run’.  See what I did there?

The rest of the day was spent painting my nails pastel pink, deep conditioning my hair and watching a Lifetime movie while Bryan studied.

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Then we basked in the sun on the patio for the remainder of the 65 degree day and drank 1 2 pitchers of margs.  I pulled my laptop outside and made a station on Pandora comprised of Carly Rae Jepson (for Bry of course), Mumford & Sons, Lucky Dube and Taylor Swift.

Delish

Delish

A perfect day.

Summer Lovin

Hey y’all!

As you may or may not know, Bryan and I leave for Seattle in less than two weeks! Subsequent questions:

Do you guys have jobs?

Not yet, but neither of us are worried about it.

Do you have an apartment/place to live?

We figure it might be best to be employed before getting into a lease. Call us crazy. In the meantime, Bryan’s parents live in Redmond and are graciously offering their home if need be.

What section of Seattle do you plan to live in?

Bryan and I are aiming to keep our commutes to work as small as possible. Therefore, we plan on looking close to our places of employment. However, Queen Anne and West Seattle both seem attractive at this point.

So there you have it! I am overjoyed to start this new chapter of life. I’ll be close to my family again, hopefully continuing a career that makes me happy and of course I’ll have m’shops. Although I will of course miss Jackson Hole, I am taking the best part about it with me – Bryan :).

Enough of this sappiness…onto some adventures in the mountains! Yeehaw!!

In early May, Bryan and I made a bucket list of things we had to do this summer before our big move. I’ve tried my best to capture some of these memories on my camera, but as usual I found myself getting too caught up in the moment to remember to take a picture #mybad.

Here are some summer mems.

Hike to Lake Solitude

Marmot!

We Made It!

Bryan has taken a few trips up the Grand this summer and most memorably, with his boss Joe, Jeremy and Jeremy’s cousin Sam.

Ascending the Grand

Bryan and Joe on the Summit of the Grand Teton – Elev. 13,770

Reminiscing at Dornans – Joe “Gah! Look at the Grand!”

Pizza at Leek’s in GTNP.

Buuuurs

Hike up Mt.Si in Seattle.

Vampir-ey.

Glowing Hard.

Such a Good Pic

Hike around String Lake.

Dinner at The Bird after floating with Jeremy and Lorie.

After work swim in Phelp’s Lake

Bryan is the Tiny Dot Standing on the Rock

It’s true, this summer has been totally fab. And although I am looking forward to Nordstrom, seeing my family and of course Red Robin – I will miss the simplicity of Jackson. I will miss the fact that how much you love to ski/hike/cycle etc. is valued over what you look like and the clothes you wear. That being genuine, friendly and caring is more impressive to people than owning an expensive car or having a high-power career. These are the virtues I will carry with me from Jackson Hole. I’m hopeful that no matter how much pressure I feel to look a certain way or earn a certain amount, I’ll have the virtues I’ve learned and can rise above it all.

Farewell, JH. I’ll miss ya.

Vegas, Europe and Beyond: Part Trois

Enchanté!

Click here if you’ve missed parts une and deux of this epic adventure or the big news!

Let’s pick up at the start of our amazing trip to Pareeeh! Shall we?

As I mentioned before, our hotel was located in the Marais district of Paris. The Marais district is pretty awesome, boasting tons of great restaurants, art galleries and most importantly – shopping! Since I had done a little shopping in Barcelona, I was already on damage control in Paris. Luckily the prices were so astronomical everywhere we went, I wasn’t too tempted to whip out the euros.

On our first day, we set out in search of Notre Dame which wasn’t too hard since it was just blocks from our hotel!

For those of  you who have been to Paris, you’ve obviously been to Notre Dame so you get it. Totally gorg. Most of the time we were in Paris the weather was drizzly so we had to wear coats 😦 and it totes wrecked Meg and I’s outfit forecasting. We had been saving all the “really good outfits” for Paris but I was too happy just to be there to really mind.

While walking around Notre Dame, I obviously decided it would be a great idea to act like the hunchback. Camera flashes weren’t allowed and Megan was only able to manage one measly, blurry picture before my Dad said someone was going to arrest me. See the slideshow below for the pic.

Next we visited another gorgeous cathedral and the name is escaping me right now. Breathtaking as well. I bought a ceramic unicorn for 7 euro because I got caught up in the moment.

Next up The Louvre! I had just finished the DaVinci Code and was all about the Mona Lisa. I totally wanted to lay on the floor and act like the museum curator from the beginning of the book but I resisted temptation. As many of you know, the Mona Lisa is way smaller than you expect and you can’t really get very close to it. I still enjoyed seeing her as well as many of the other paintings in that wing.

We also saw the Venus De Milo and The Winged Victory of Samothrace.

Then I had a panic attack in The Louvre. I was hot, claustrophobic, there were a million people and I had cotton-mouth. Plus, there’s really no easy way outta that place. At the same time, my Mom had a similar reaction and we both bolted out of there like Brittney from K-Fed. After we had some really expensive coffee and danish from the cafe inside, we were much better.

We left the Louvre and walked along the streets of Paris. We walked over the Love Bridge and it made me really miss Bryan. I wanted to have a lock engraved with our names, fasten it to the bridge, lock it up and throw the key in the Seine. Sooo romantic!

After that we walked along the Champs de Elysee and oogled at the great window displays and high-end shops. We eventually passed a beautiful, huge gold gate with a large line outside. We ventured toward it, thinking it was the entrance to some mansion, museum or gallery. But we were wrong.

It was the entrance to Abercrombie and Fitch.

Apparently A&F is a hot commodity in Paris. We saw women and men sporting the moose everywhere! Men with those horrid tee shirts that have idiotic sayings on them, “Jacuzzi Lifeguard”, “Abercrombie Drinkers Invitational”. Women with the microscopic hoodies and graphic tees that probably set them back $150. I feel like the United States is SO over Abercrombie, but overseas they love the crap out of it.

We reached the end of the Champs de Elysee to see the iconic Arc de Triomphe. We didn’t go inside but opted to snap some pictures in the middle of traffic. Smart.

As we walked back to our hotel, Megan kept seeing these adorable green shopping bags that people were carrying. We notice these kinds of things, us Danielsons. We discovered that they belonged to Ladurée , a gourmet macaroon and bake shop. We passed the shop and I thought I was going to pass out, it was SO adorable. I felt like I was a princess living inside a jewelry box as soon as we stepped inside. We waited in line for a good 20 minutes before purchasing a box of 6 different kinds of macaroons, which was close to $20 US. Expensive little buggers!

We went home that night happy and sugared up.

The next morning I awoke happier than a sprinkle in a cupcake factory. We were going to Versailles! I’ve always been a little crazy for Marie Antionette. I mean, hello the woman had excellent taste, owned a cute little dog and said, “let them eat cake!”. I also loved the movie with Kirsten Dunst. In fact, I think I pretend that movie is my life if it were mixed with the cast of Legally Blonde the Musical.

After a quick brekkie (it was complimentary with our hotel) downstairs we were ready to go!

We took a train to Versailles which is (according Mr.Steves) the way to go. The train ride was short and sweet and before we knew it, we were striding along the long cobble stone road to the castle. The palace is immense, almost sickeningly huge. To think that the royals actually lived here while the citizens of Paris were poor and starving is beyond me. We had studied the stories of all the Louis’, namely the XIII through XVI and felt adequately versed with the vast history of Versailles.

We began with the tour of the palace, using our trusty all-museum tickets. The tour was too amazing for words. I. Was. Floored.

After the house tour, we quickly realized that our passes didn’t apply to the gardens on this particular day. I later found out that  the “Water Spectacular Show”, was going on that day which means that the fountains are turned on. Since tickets were an additional 20 euro to get in, I decided to ask if there was another way into the gardens.  After one lady turned me away, assuring me I had to pay to enter through the main gate, another woman said there was indeed another way.

She gave us directions to exit the palace, walk 15 minutes down the street and enter through the “queens gate”. I was gaining momentum, all the blood was rushing to my head and I was ready to sprint through the queens gate like a lion on attack! Unfortunately my Mom and Megan were hot, tired and allergies were catching up to us all. Despite my constant nose tickle and watery eyes I wasn’t ready to give up.

You see, what  I was most excited about was not the actual palace but all the smaller buildings that Marie Antionette ordered built in the late 1700’s. In order to escape palace life, she ordered a number of estates and structures built so she could live out “the simple life”. The Queen’s Hamlet as it’s known, was what I was most excited about seeing.

I happily set out to see this part of Versailles alone. I ran through the meadows and snapped picture after picture, not wanting to miss a thing.

It was the most magical experience ever. In fact, probably one of the best experiences I’ve have ever had.

The rest of our trip to Paris was so amazing. We saw everything such as theEiffel Tower, Rue Cler, L’Orangie Museum, D’Orsay Museum and did alot of shopping too! Here is a slideshow of some of our picture. I did have them all nicely laid out in the post and then WordPress booted me out and I lost all my progress.

So here are the pics!

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Vegas, Eurpope and Beyond: Part Deux

Bonjour chères!

Where did I leave off again? Oh yes, FRANCE! Hee hee, haw haw.

We boarded a smallish plane in the early morning and after one hour, arrived in Marseilles. I was truly pumped about our 2-day stay in Marseilles as we were able to stay with family and get the true “French” experience. We met Madee and Terry at the airport and after many kisses (one per cheek), we all climbed into a 9 passenger van that they had rented for our stay. Madee and Terry live just outside of Marseilles in the country side and their house and surroundings were so pretty. Their home was built in the 1700’s and still had that old-world feel to it. I felt like I was Meg Ryan in “French Kiss”. Except I didn’t pull my jeans up past my belly button. I thought about it, but didn’t.

Lavender in the Garden!

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Main Living Area

After we had worked out which room everyone was staying in, we were treated to lunch. But first…apéritifs! Drinks were dispensed before every meal and came highly encouraged. Mostly it was Pastis, which is an anise flavored liqueur. I love me some licorice so Pastis definitely suited me. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Pastis!

I downed two glasses of Pastis which Terry mixed with a little water and served on the rocks (which in France means you get 2 teensy little ice cubes). For lunch we were served a cold salad consisting of peas, tuna, tomatoes, cheese and obviously delicious french bread. We sipped chilled rose and talked about the flowers and herbs Terry grows in his garden. Thyme, rosemary, lavender but also exotic herbs like verbena. Megan and I were literally pinching ourselves. “Is this happening? Are we really in this 17th century home just eating bread?” Oui.

After lunch, in typical French fashion we were served an array of cheeses. I decided to try all three of the cheeses, even the one that smelled like someone’s armpit after a marathon mixed with hot, sour garbage. At the time, the cheese tasted good and I was proud of myself for being so French. However, 30 minutes later we all quickly discovered how much of a brick it sat in our tummies. I couldn’t stop tasting it and I won’t lie, it didn’t taste like Skittles.

After lunch we headed to a neighboring town to do a little walking and sightseeing. Nan, Megan and I were dying to go in the cute little shops, but when you’re with a little French-man who is claiming he will “send you to Chateau d’If” if you go in one more shop, you cease and desist.

We visited a cathedral which contained the very first indoor baptismal pool.

And I made up with Terry.

We couldn’t spent too much time out sightseeing because Terry and Madee had a special French dinner waiting to be prepared back at their house. We started with Pastis, no surprise there. This is when I became known as the lush of the group, as I accepted refills from Terry. He told me that, “I was his new daughter,” and it made me happy although my Dad was giving me the evil-don’t-be-a-crazy-american-girl-eye.

You Lookin at Me Mon Amie?

For dinner, we had duck breast, pearl onions sauteed with curry, and sauteed mushrooms. Also duh, bread. The duck breasts were huge (they were like mutant monster ducks I swear) and were prepared very rare. While Nan and I enjoy a good pink steak, Meg and Gare both prefer their meats well…burnt. Having the duck was an eye opening experience for all of us.

This was the most well done piece of all.

After dinner Madee asked us if we’d like to take a “little walk” around the neighborhood. I jumped at the opportunity, having drunk a good amount of wine and everyone else decided to partake as well. It was an interesting stroll. First of all, it was almost 11 pm at night and what Madee considered to be a little walk, turned into a never-ending hike for people like Nan.We also saw a dead snake in the road. So. Gross.

After our 40 minute walk, we arrived home and Terry had decided it was time to break out his private reserve of self-infused liqueurs. The bottles reminded me of those beakers you see in high-school biology classes, with tarantulas, tape worms and frogs floating lifelessly in formaldehyde. I was told the various bottles contained, a pepper from his garden, a vanilla bean and various herbs. Terry poured me a sizable amount from the pepper bottle and upon one sniff, I knew this stuff was liquid fire. I ended up trying a small sip of the one from the vanilla bean bottle and just as I thought, liquid fire. Don’t know about you, but the LAST thing I want to do before bed is take shots of pepper infused alcohol. While I tried my best to be his “new found daughter” I found myself longing for the good ol’ American tradition of ice cream, hot chocolate or in my case – a bowl of Lucky Charms before bed.

The next day we woke up and had a conservative breakfast of jam and bread and coffee. Then it was off to sight-see! Having only consumed about a half-cup of coffee I was jonesing for some caffeine. The slight hangover from the night before didn’t help either :).

Disheveled

We visited a different cathedral, absolutely beautiful.

View!

Yiddle Megan

One of Marseilles bucket-list items was to go see the Chateau d’If, the prison in the Count of Monte Cristo. But according to our  hosts, the ferry was expensive and the tour, lame. I made sure to get tons of pictures of it from the top of the cathedral instead.

The Little Island by the Cruise Ship is Chateau d’If

Then we were driven up to this look-out point which literally, took my breath away.

Mom, Megan, Terry and Madee

We drove to an old hospital/cathedral.

We take it very seriously.

Let Us Out!

Me and My Mom

View of the Mountain

At about 11 o’clock, my tummy was grumbling so I busted out the Clif Bar I had stashed in my purse and decided this was perfect to tide me over until we had lunch. Hours went by, we saw and walked and pointed and gushed. But no food. I kept thinking that they had a little cafe they were planning on bringing us to but I was wrong. At about 6:30 we drove home in silence, the Americans all delirious with hunger but not wanting to be rude and ask that we quickly pull through McDonalds. We were told that our dinner reservation was at about 8 o’clock and Meg, Becca and I sat up in our room scraping together whatever remnants of food we had in our bags to piece together a small meal.

You know that book, “French Women Don’t Get Fat”? The book outlines easy to implement every-day changes Americans can make to lose and weight and achieve that svelte French frame. I now realize the real secret, French women don’t eat all day and that’s why they don’t get fat. Bam! Maybe I should write a book, eh?

Everyone was obviously, psyched for dinner. The three of us were secretly hoping it wasn’t some restaurant that only served bleeding duck. We ended up at an amazing restaurant that had everything our American hearts desired, pizza, burgers, pasta etc. We also noticed as we came in that the portions were humungous. Another point for the Americans!

We also got to meet one of Terry and Madee’s daughters, Claire and her brand-new hubbie Benoit. Neither of them spoke a lick of English but we got by. I ordered pizza and a Coke Light and was literally in heaven.

American

Ate the Whole ‘Za

Megan’s Gnocchi

The next day we had to leave Marseilles in the early morning to catch our train to PARIS! My Dad ended up booking us four, first class seats on a speed train that goes from Marseilles to Paris in about 3 hours. Boarding the train, I truly felt like Hermione Granger. It was just wonderful inside and our seats sat two and two across from one another, with a table in between. The seats were plush and the leg-room was plentiful. The train was quiet and as we settled in, I was literally squealing with delight. It was just so cool.

Blurry but I Had to Show You!

Train Station

We arrived in Paris in what seemed like minutes and immediately made our way to the T.I station (tourist information) to purchase all-museum passes again. Megan had smartly purchased the Rick Steves Paris book so we knew to do this right away. That Rick Steves knows his stuff.

We immediately jumped into a cab and gave him the directions to the apartment we had rented. The drive was quick, only about 10 minutes. We had printed off the instructions the owner gave us as well as a bunch of pictures of the place. When we arrived, we were instructed to punch in a 4 digit code to gain access to the foyer. We entered the number and the door opened easily. The next step was to look inside her mailbox (that would be open, not locked) for the key to the apartment. We opened up the mailbox and reached inside to find…nothing, save for a pile of junk mail. Megan started to panic a little as she had done the large portion of communicating with the owner. We determined we must call her in order to figure out where the key was. We shuffled through the pages we had printed with all the information for the apartment, like amenities, garbage etc. But no phone number.

Panic set in further when we realized our phones weren’t working and neither is the internet. My new iPhone (purchased right after the trip to Vegas) had been turned off the whole trip so far and I decided it was time to whip out the big guns. I powered up my phone and dialed Bryan back in Jackson. No county code, just plain ol’ 1 + area code. He answered on the second ring.

After Bryan had successfully logged into my Mom’s email account, he quickly found the owner’s number and read it off. We hung up and immediately dialed the owner. The number was a New Hampshire area code. “Great!” I thought. She doesn’t even live in Paris.

Ring, ring. No answer.

I left a message clearly stating our situation and asked her to please call back ASAP. Meanwhile, we were sitting in the apartment vestibule with all our luggage, completely trapped. Gary was silent, obviously frustrated with the situation. Megan was on the verge of tears. Nan was trying to stay positive. I was praying that this chick would return my call and that this was all just some mix-up with the key.

After about an hour of waiting, I decided to call again. This time a younger girl answered. When I asked for the owner Sylvie, she informed me that she was out. I politely informed her that this was an emergency and asked if Sylvie had a cell. The girl understood and gave me her cell.

I called the cell phone and a woman answered in a thick french accent. I tell Sylive what happened and she insisted the key must be there. She was on the highway and said she would call me back. Fine. Minutes later I received a text from her, telling me that the key is in an unmarked envelope that would look like mail. We hurry back to the apartment and look through the stack of junk mail to find…nothing. I let her know that there was no such envelope and she then told us to open everything. We ripped through each piece of mail, discovering bills and coupon booklets but no key.

After 15 more minutes of back and forth texting, Sylive called again to explain yet again how strange this is. I understood that this was a strange circumstance but I also understood that I wanted to get my bags upstairs so we could actually start to see Paris!

At this point, about 2 hours had passed. She called back again to inform us that her friend was going to come let us in to the apartment but she wouldn’t be there for an hour. Ok. We were still in the cold, marble floored vestibule and then it has started to rain.

My Dad decided he’d hold down the fort and Megan, my mom and I go get groceries for the apartment, since it had a kitchen. We strolled around, purchasing milk, coffee, yogurt, cereal and of course, a baguette. After the hour passed, we made our way back to the apartment to find Sylvie’s friend had arrived.

Wheeeeee! We’re in!

We shlepped all 4 suitcases, backpacks, camera bags and groceries to the 4th floor and waited while Sylive’s friend struggled with the key. After another moment of panic thinking she had brought the wrong key, the door clicked open.

We barreled inside only to discover…there were already people staying in the apartment!! Suitcases, clothes and laptop computers littered the floor of the quaint apartment.  My Dad collapsed on the couch in shear exhaustion, anger and frustration. Megan ran back down the stairs with tears in her eyes. Nan just stood there trying to decide what to do. I immediately began getting our stuff back down the 4 flights, because obviously this apartment was booked for the night.

The friend immediately called Sylvie and spoke in rapid French. After a few minutes of confusion, the friend informed us that Sylvie would call the apartment phone to sort out the mess. Another 20 minutes passed and the call came through on my cell phone (because it wasn’t costing me $15 a minute, oh wait, yes it was) and I immediately handed the phone to my Dad. He could deal with this, but not me.

A twenty minute conversation transpired, all the while Meg had lost it and I was hoisting 50 lb. bags down tiny steps with a baguette tucked under my arm. All in a days work. As my Dad made his way back down the stair case, he let us know that the apartment had been double booked. Apparently Sylvie’s son had mistakenly thought the apartment was available for the 5-day stint we had reserved it for and had rented it to friends of his. Awesome.

As we drug our suitcases around the beautiful streets of the Marais district, I had also lost hope. My dreams of the quaint, cozy Parisian apartment had been crushed under a stupid scheduling  conflict. We tried our luck at a couple of two and three star hotels, but seeing as how it was past 7 pm (even though we had arrived at 3) many were booked.

We stumbled upon Hotel Turenne, not far from where the apartment was and luckily they had 2 rooms available. Each room was a bit expensive at 215 euro per night, per room but we didn’t care. We wanted a roof over our heads, wifi and alcohol. That was it.

We checked into our respective rooms and luckily I had stowed a nearly full bottle of Stoli in my suitcase from Spain. We drank warm vodka + lemonades (even Nan) and nibbled stale baguette. We had bought my Dad a gyro from a Greek restaurant hours previous and by this time it was a cold hunk of meat with limp fries on the side. Delish!

Sylvie called back later that evening to inform us that she was paying for our night at the hotel and giving us a full refund of our deposit. She offered sincere apologies telling us “she couldn’t image what hell the day had been for us” and offered 2 free nights at her apartment should any of us return to Paris.

After all was said and done, she was very apologetic, generous and had made right in our books. We were sad to have lost half a day in Paris, but glad to have found a place to stay on such short notice.

The next day was the beginning of our Paris adventure!!

I’ll save that for next time but I thought I’d let you in on the big news.

Bryan and I are moving to Seattle!! We are planning on September but it could be earlier or later.

Why leave beautiful Jackson Hole you ask?

As much as we love it here (especially Bryan), it is simply no longer the right place for many reasons:

  • Bryan is going for a job in investments and Jackson doesn’t exactly have millions of openings in that field. Too bad he wasn’t a wrangler!
  • I will be looking for a new job in marketing, social media and many other sectors as well.
  • We want to be closer to family.
  • The winters are too long, cold and long for my taste. Plus I’m not nor will I ever be a die-hard skier.
  • Housing is mucho dinero here.
  • The town is a too small for my tastes.
  • If homegirl Holly makes her way back to the NW, I’ll have all my besties nearby again!
  • Bryan’s pals are there as well and we miss them too!
  • We want to be closer to family…did I mention that already?

We are beyond excited to take this step. I’m a little scared about things like finding a job, a place to live and adjusting to big-city life but hey, it’s just another adventure right?

Vegas, Europe and Beyond: Part Une

I’m back and bettatheneva!

I’ve been back in Jackson for a couple of weeks now and while I’ve caught up on things like Kim and Kanye, I have severely neglected this little blog of mine. The horror!

Lately my thoughts have been devoted to a new change that’s taking place in a couple months but more on that later ;). Let’s get to the good stuff, no?

The adventure began in Salt Lake City, where Bryan took his CFA exam…gulp. I happily tagged along and spent my time studying the racks of stores which do not exist in Jackson, Wyoming. New trends instantly jumped out at me. You see, living in The Hole may mean awesome hiking, fishing, skiing etc. but it also means a drab wardrobe consisting solely of Patagonia and Chacos. While I try to keep up on my fashion blogs outlined here, a girl can get pretty confused with all the neon and chevron prints.

I instantly picked up on trends such as:

  • Skirts and dresses that are shorter in the front and longer in the back.
  • Shorts! They are everywhere. I thought these were only for high-school girls who shopped at American Eagle.
  • Colored jeans and shorts. Obv.
  • Polka dots. LOVE!
  • Peter pan collars. I find these to be feminine and chic.

After doing a small amount of damage at Nordstrom Rack and Forever 21, Bryan was done with his exam and it was time for Vegas. Sick.

Our previous visit to Vegas we stayed at the Mirage and this time, we opted to stay in the slightly less expensive Luxor Hotel. The location isn’t bad as you’re neighbors with New York, New York, Mandalay Bay, Excalibur and MGM Grand. However, the hotel itself was a little, shall I say, in need of repair. Upon arriving we could definitely see why this hotel was leaps and bounds less than The Bellagio. Hello shaky, slow elevator from Saw. Nice to meet ya.

Nonetheless, we were happy. Our flight/hotel package also included two tickets to see Cirque de Soliel’s Ka at the MGM Grand so that made this trip a heck of a deal.

Bryan immediately made me aware of the fact that I kept dozing off during sections of the show. I didn’t believe him until I woke up, violently snapped my head forward and looked around nervously to see if anyone noticed.

We frequented our usual haunts, such as the pool, the Forum Shops and the video blackjack bar inside the Venetian. Class.

CFA Celebration Dinner

Gnocchi

We also had the best breakfast of our lives at Max Brenner in the Forum Shops. Our meal came with a “diamond dusted buttermilk sugar biscuit”. Ummm hello! I died. Subsequently, I purchased the Hug Mug, their signature mug which we sipped our mochas from. How could I not with a name like that?!

You hug it!

The only drama we encountered on the trip was when we were playing video blackjack (yet again) at the MGM Grand. After I had gambled away my $5 bank roll, I turned my head and chatted with Bryan in the seat next to me for a few minutes. I had stupidly left my iPhone on the bar and while my head was turned, it was swiped. Some horrible robber now has my white iPhone 4 in mint condish. We looked everywhere, asked everyone at the bar and reported it to hotel security and turned up nothing. It was gone. After some tears and a new found hatred towards casinos, Bryan lovingly bought me a martini and some candy. That’s better :).

This was taken just before the robbery. So sayd.

Other than the iPhone snafu, the trip to Vegas was awesome as always.

Upon returning to Jackson, I was tasked with the lovely journey of driving (in my ’97 Corolla with no cruise control) to Kennewick, WA. A grand total of 11 wonderful hours. Armed with The Davinci Code on CD, 3 Redbulls, a box of Gushers and Pirate’s Booty, I was off! The drive went surprisingly quick due to nice weather, copious amounts of energy drink pulsing through my veins and of course the Priory of Zion.

I returned home in under 11 hours and was treated to a warm welcome from my favorite Danielson family member, Chloe McDoogal.

The next day we left for Seattle around noon (more driving) and arrived in Seattle with plenty of time to board our 6pm plane to Amsterdam. The flight was long but luckily was timed pretty well compared to where our bodies were adjusted to. My mom, sister and I all managed to get a good amount of sleep and were feeling good when we deplaned in Amsterdam. We shopped around the airport, took pictures of tulips and clogs (obv) and then boarded our plane to Barcelona.

Tulips!

The flight to Barcelona was quick and we were all very anxious to get there. My Dad greeted us at the airport and we all took a taxi to Barceloneta (the street we stayed on) to meet up with my aunt, uncle and cousin who were staying in the same apartments as us.

Our apartment was one the right

The apartment was pretty tiny but very nice and even had a kitchenette. We were all starving so we decided to find a little tapas bar to sit and share some food. We immediately located one and I felt bad as our table of 7 took up almost the entire place. Since my cousin Becca is studying abroad in Spain, she was able to help us order from the large variety of tapas on the menu.

Chicken Wings in Spain? Who knew!?

Blanco Vino…or something like that.

The next day we woke up and instantly hit the Picasso Museum. We had purchased the all-museum pass at the airport, which gains you access to about 7 different locations. The Picasso museum was no.1 on my list and I was so excited to see the exhibit.

Just me and the Pabs, Chillin

Picasso never ceases to amaze me. This particular museum held a wide array of Picasso’s work, ranging from the very traditional paintings he did early in life, to the grotesquely abstract later in life. We also witnessed all he did in between, like pieces from The Blue Period, sculpture, cartoon drawings as well as some rather graphic pencil drawings of women from going on holiday with a friend in Spain.

After that we walked the streets and took pictures of the crazy “living art” performers.

Benny Franklin

Scary Goblin Sultan Guy

Then we reached the Barcelona Cathedral, which was absolutely breathtaking. This particular cathedral had a beautiful courtyard area with amazing flowers, statues and fountains.

This was actually taken from another day, but you get it.

After that we took a taxi to the top of Montjuic, a mountain in Barcelona that houses hundreds of graves and has a fortress at the top. I desperately wanted to walk up to the top of the mountain but when you’re with people in their 60’s, you just oblige.

Megan and Becca Outside the Fortress

Gardens!

The next day started off with a bang, as we had coffees and headed to the Mercat de la Boquería.  It is basically a huge market where you can literally buy anything. Megan bought some exotic spices like saffron while I stuck to fresh fruit and of course…candy!

Mmmmm

1 Euro for a cup…steal!

Is There Anything More Beautiful?

Dyyyyying

Yep. Ham Hocks.

We continued to walk along the streets of Barcelona, stopping to take pictures, go in shops and stare at ridiculously good-looking people. Seriously, the men and women in Barcelona are all supermodels. I’ve never felt more like a white, gigantic girl with bunions and grow-out. Sigh…

My Mom, sister and I decided to visit Barcelona’s Museum of Modern Art. Before I continue I’d like to point out that I consider myself to be a lover of all kinds of art. Basically, I can appreciate any kind of art, be it music, painting, sculpture, poetry – anything, if it’s done with passion. I quickly discovered that while the pieces of art in the museum of modern art were done with passion, I certainly could not appreciate it.

Maybe it was the piece where a projector displayed images of overweight women trying to use a bidet, unsuccessfully from behind. Or maybe a large piece of stark white canvas, completely blank that was appropriately named “Elephant Wall”. While there were a few exhibits I found amusing, like the work of Gordon Matta-Clark who, according to Wikipedia  “is famous for his ‘building cuts,’ a series of works in abandoned buildings in which he variously removed sections of floors, ceilings, and walls” mostly it was just ODD.

Our next venture was to visit our first of the Gaudi sites, Casa Milà or La Pedrera. This was one of the apartment buildings that Gaudi designed and was finished in 1912. The tour included the underground catacombs, an apartment and of course the famous rooftop, which is known for it’s iconic ventilation towers.

Building Exterior

Rooftop

Ventilation Towers

Our last day in Barcelona we visited Gaudi’s most famous architectural masterpiece, which oddly enough still isn’t finished. Construction on Sagrada Família began in 1883 and was still being worked on the day we visited. This structure is simply to big for words. Actually it’s too ornate, over-the-top and strikingly beautiful for words. My suggestion is that you fly to Barcelona someday and set your sights on this cathedral.

The rest of the day was spent shopping. Barcelona has seriously amazing shopping. H&M and Zara were sprinkled over every corner and interesting boutiquey shops lined all the little side streets. Megan and I were most impressed by the large amount of shoe stores and how cheap the shoes were. I scored these little pups no problem.

The next day we packed up nice and early in order to catch a plane to Marseilles, France! However, now that carpal tunnel is setting in I must leave you. Check back for my re-cap of France and the big news!