(Step 4) Vacation: Beach Bummin’ and Bonfires; Jaws

15 Jul

We spent the vast majority of our time at the beach…

We did some evening swimming the first two nights (although, I opted out of that…) and pretty much became the epitome of beach bums. You could have asked me what day it was or what time it was, but I’d have had no clue. Just the way vacation is supposed to be.

Thanks to Riley, Chloe’s older sister, Zach, Andrew and I learned how to boogie board. And despite a few minor mishaps (read: Mother Nature ripping my bikini bottoms off in a wave and exposing my extremely white arse to the entire eastern seaboard;losing my sweet D&G knock off sun glasses) the whole boogie boarding gig was pretty awesome. Prior to Riley teaching us the ole’ “Superman Trick” though, we were all scrapped up and bleeding from the ocean floor. Apparently any experienced boogie boarder knows that you have to pull your legs up (like you’re doing a superman) and then you won’t get your shins ripped off.

But other than boogie boarding, we pretty much just caught some rays. Well, that’s what I did anyway. Zach and Andrew tried to catch some girls…

And because my life is never normal, we couldn’t just go to the Atlantic Ocean without a little extra somethin-somethin going on… Perhaps you heard about the shark sightings on Cape Cod. You know, the 16 foot great white(s)? Naturally, there are sharks in the ocean; however, during the course of our trip there were multiple shark sightings just off the coast… like, within 150 yards of the beach.

According to the local newspapers, sharks follow seals and there had recently been an influx for seals in the area. In order to maintain everyone’s safety, helicopters and planes consistently flew over the beaches scanning the waters for Jaws himself and this what they saw…

(Image borrowed from cbsnews.com)

…just 15-20 miles from where I was loosing my drawers/sunglasses and we were boogie boarding to our hearts desire. And although we were close to this not-so-snuggly-sealife, we never got this close…


Cape Cod Online Newspaper
Contrary to what you’d probably think, we didn’t let the shark ruin our beach time. One of the nights we were on Cape Cod we spent on the beach roasting s’mores over a fire in the sand… just like those Hershey’s commercials you always see starting in mid-May.

Unlike what you see in those glamourous commercials though, we had to scale down the side of a small mountainous sand dune… some of us rolled… some of us sprinted… some of us side-stepped, but regardless we made it.

Looking back at the trip, I’d have to say that this bonfire was probably my favorite moment on the trip. Heck, it is probably going to be one of my fondest memories from the summer. Being from backwoods, PA I’ve had my fair share of bonfires but this one was so different; the waves crashing, sand under my feet. We got to watch a full moon rise over the water and then naturally we had to take 500 pictures using that as the backdrop.

In between photo-ops Andrew started digging a massive hole in the sand, that of which we were told we would have to fill in upon leaving because apparently it posses a safety issue. This hole was more of a Civil War bunker than a hole in the sand and it was complete with a moat and an emergency exit. All of the youngsters diligently assisted the architect, Andrew, in assembling the world’s most extensive hole in the sand.

We stayed late enough for high tide to wash away all of their hard work and then we packed up and retreated up the Grand Canyon massive sand dune, working off the s’mores we indulged in. And even though the massive hole was demolished after a few high-tide waves, we made some pretty awesome memories that even the biggest waves couldn’t ruin.

(Step Three) Vacation: Actually Being On Vacation

11 Jul

This has little, if nothing, to do with this post but I need to say it for my own peace of mind… I’ll admit that prior to visiting Cape Cod, I always got annoyed when people referred to it as “The Cape.” However, within the first 10 minutes of experiencing Cape Code, I quickly realized Cape Cod is affectionately called The Cape by people who come from all over the world to enjoy one of our country’s most beautiful and serene landscapes. So I’ve since jumped on “The Cape” bandwagon. (Dad, that paragraph is for you, so stop making fun of me for finally saying “The Cape.” haha)

So, we reached The Cape and we were all slap-happy/cranky from the long drive. We jumped out of the car and high-tailed it to the ocean… this n’ that… you already know that from the previous post…

Unfortunately (or fortunately)–depends on how you look at it– the main house we were going to be staying at was under construction and was not finished.

Attached to the back of the main house is an apartment that of which is also under construction despite the fact that it was intended to be finished by now. Which, really… I mean, construction never goes as planned! That’s just kind of how it is. Behind the 4 bedroom, 5 bathroom main house and the apartment is a cottage, with three bedrooms and nice big deck.

And as you might have guessed, we all moved into the 3 bedroom cottage… all 17 of us: Mom, Dad, Zach, Andrew, Myself, Zoonie, Scott, Kian, Michelle, Colleen, Lowry (Colleen’s husband), Riley (Colleen and Lowry’s daughter), Chloe (Colleen and Lawry’s daughter), Shamus (Scott’s bro), Jodi (Shamus’ wife), Talia (Shamus and Jodi’s daughter), and Owen (Shamus and Jodi’s son).

I’ll admit, my pre-Madonna attitude got the best of me upon receiving the news that we were all living in one house… but then I realized how damn lucky I was to even be at The Cape with such awesome people and I got over my I-have-to-share-a-room-?! issues. I had some pretty decent roommates too…

After checking out the beach and unloading everything we ever owned out of my dad’s truck, it was nap time. We took a solid 4 hour nap and then it was time to vacation.

Zach and Andrew quickly discovered bikes that they could use to explore The Cape on and, of course, “scope out chicks.” (I’m rolling my eyes.)

Of course, we had to got back down to the bay, which was literally footsteps from where we stayed…

The bay has a ton of things living in it… crabs, horse shoe crabs, snails, muscles… fish… And Chloe, Scott’s 8-year-old niece, was more than poised to teach me about them. The girl has no fear; she’d come sprinting up the beach with some wild animal in tow screaming in her Boston accent with excitement… and I’d do best not squirm and flip out.

Chloe, with her Bostonian accent and infectious giggle, was my lil’ side kick during the course of vacation… and without her, I wouldn’t have learned a dang thing about marine life on The Cape.

Another lil’ something I learned while on vacation–well, relearned– was how caring and compassionate my brothers are.

I sneakily took this picture of Zach holding Kian’s hand in the water and it immediately became one of my favorite pictures of all time. Andrew did a lot of really adorable, caring things too but I just didn’t manage to get a good shot of em’ on camera. I love my brothers.

But enough of the sappy crap.

After chilling on the beach and what not, we went to a flea market just down the street from where we were staying. It was here where the must have spring/summer fashion accessory was born: THE FEDORA. You might be thinking that the fedora has been around a long time; however, never has it ever had a detachable strobing light. Yah. Zoonie purchased his fedora–made of 98% paper product–as well as a 5 light bulb attachment for under $5.

And thank goodness he splurged for that dang fedora because later that night the fridge was not keeping the adult beverages at an acceptable cool temperature and he was able to fix that minor dilemma…

The fedora managed to serve many other purposes over the course of the trip. But I certainly can’t divulge all of my vacay stories in just one post… plus this is getting way too long…

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Up Next: Ocean Living, Jaws Sighting, Bonfire on the Beach…

(Step Two) Vacation: Getting There

9 Jul

Shortly after stocking our car with everything and anything we could possibly need for an 8 day vacation…

…we pulled out of our driveway and hit the highway. We drove in two cars, as I may or may not have mentioned in the previous post. Clearly, we had too much crap in our car to fit all five of us so I graciously accepted the honors of riding in “Uncle” Zoonie’s car with my Uncle Scott, Aunt Michelle and cousin Kian. Note: Zoonie (whose real name is Tim–don’t ask) is my Uncle Scott’s brother… my Uncle Scott married my dad’s sister, Michelle. End family tree review, but do realize there is going to be a lot of family to digest in the next several posts… perhaps I will create a visual to demonstrate all of the relations…

Anyway, we pulled out at roughly 6PM and endured the 11.5 hour trip to Cape Cod–Mom, Dad, Zach and Andrew in my dad’s car (somewhere amongst all the crap we packed) and then myself, Aunt Michelle, Scott, Kian and Zoonie in Zoonie’s car. Our plan of attack for this obnoxiously long, butt numbing car ride was to drive through the night as to avoid massive 4th of July traffic. But also, considering we had a 2-year-old in tow (Kian) we thought he’d sleep most of the ride; thought* being the key word.

45 minutes into the trip we had to stop at a Walmart in order to buy a new in-car-DVD-player because the one we had basically fizzed out and became nonfunctional. Being that we had a two-year old strapped into a car seat for what was about to be an 11.5 hour drive, we had to stop to replace it. If for nothing else, to maintain our sanity.

So our small caravan stops in Dunkirk, NY for an emergency DVD purchase…

And naturally, we couldn’t just be “regular” people who are stopping at the store on their way to spend a week at the beach… oh no. Zoonie, in his forest green, 1998 Buick pulls up to the nicest car in the parking lot, leans out the window, nods his head several times and proceeds to ask the driver of the car’s wife, “What’s that baby got under the hood?” The classic car drove off into the humid summer night, but not before Zoonie could ask them to, “LIGHT IT UP!!!” Which is a Zoonie-ism for let’s hear the engine at work.

Anyway, $100 later, we had a top of line in-car-DVD-player and we were ready roll. Zoonie lit up the 98’s engine and purred right back onto I90. The next several hours were seemingly uneventful… until we hit a toll booth in Massachusetts that had one toll booth operator working both sides. At this point it was roughly midnight/1am and everyone was getting tired. We sat in line at the toll booth, with honking semi’s and swearing New York drivers for a solid twenty minutes. We speculated that perhaps the other toll booth workers called off? Zoonie was certain there was going to be a ,”$%^#ing riot!” But there wasn’t. After a long, honk-filled wait, it was our turn to pay the $0.85 toll and we were back in business.

Shortly after this toll booth, we arrived at another toll booth. Rob (dad) was having a fit because 1.) he hates stopping when he is driving and 2.) “The roads are a freaking mess here anyway; what are all these tolls going to?! This is a flipping conspiracy!!!” However, this toll booth had no operator and no funnel to stick your money in either. So for a solid 2 minutes my dad sat at the toll booth, getting more furious with each second, waiting for my mom to tell him what to do. The convo went something like this:

;

Dad: Sue, how much is this toll? I can’t read that damn tiny writing!

Mom: ….

Dad: SUE! How much is this toll? Zoonie is way out ahead of us now!

Mom: ….

Dad: SUSAN!!!! What are you doing!!?? What do I do!? There is no worker here!!! We need to pay the stupid toll, what am I doing!?

Mom: (zoned into her iPhone) What? What’s happening? Hold on, I only have thirty seconds left on my game…

Dad: SUE! This is no time for a game! What do I do? Tell me what I am supposed to do? Where do I put the toll? There is no worker… I don’t know how flipping much this toll is, probably $50..those sons a…, and Zoonie is long gone, we are going to be lost…

Mom: Oh, just throw a twenty out the window and we will call it even!

Dad: WHAT!? I AM NOT THROWING MONEY OUT THE WINDOW! THERE IS NO WHERE TO PUT IT!!! SOMEONE CALL MICHELLE AND ASK HER WHAT TO DO

Mom: Okay, only 10 seconds left on my game! Then I’ll call.

After her game was over, Mom called and Aunt Michelle said that they just drove through the booth… no fees, no questions, and no police chased them down. So Dad put the pedal to the metal and caught up to Zoonie, toll-free. My Uncle Scott claims that people who are ambitious enough to be driving at 3 am are spared the toll booth expenses as a gift for their tenacity. I guess we will really never know why no one was at that booth…

Once we actually managed to make it to Cape Cod, the sun was already starting to rise. It was shortly after 4 am and I had since switched places with Andrew in the car. Cape Cod is actually a really long peninsula, much longer than I had really realized just looking at the map. We drove on Cape Cod for over an hour to reach our house and the whole entire way Zach had his head hanging out the window. Meanwhile, my dad kept telling him to roll up the window because the air conditioning was on… but according to Zach, you can only sight see with the windows down. At this point we were all deliriously tired and everything was hysterical. Zach and Andrew have never truly seen the Atlantic Ocean until this week, so they were pretty pumped to have an opportunity to experience it. Therefore, every time we passed an accumulation of water–I’m talking, puddles, ponds, kiddie pools–Zach was like, “Oh man! I almost thought that was the Atlantic Ocean for a second!” (Needless to say, when he actually saw the ocean, he was elated.)

At 4:45am, we pulled into the house that we would be staying at for the next 8 glorious days… we were greeted by my Uncle Scott’s sister, Colleen, and her two daughters, Chloe and Riley, who had already spent one night on The Cape. We walked down to the beach before we even set foot in the house and watched the sunrise.

It was the perfect start to an awesome eight days…

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Next Up: Living Arrangements, Cape Cod’s Flea Market births a Fedora with lights, and ocean living…

(Step One) Vacation: Packing

29 Jun

We are leaving for vacation today. A whole week to be spent doing nothing but hanging out with my family on the Atlantic Ocean.  We have quite the list of family members who will be in attendance on this trip:

  • Mom
  • Dad
  • Myself
  • Zach
  • Andrew
  • Aunt Michelle (Dad's sister)
  • Uncle Scott (Michelle's hubby)
  • Kian (Michelle and Scott's two-year old son)
  • Zoonie (Scott's brother)

And upon arriving in Cape Cod we will be meeting up with more family, which should prove to be fun as well as provide me with plenty of blog material.

We are actually leaving in less than 5 hours and currently everyone (read: Mom and Dad) are in Mission Impossible Mode (MIM). MIM is where everything becomes a big deal/stage 5 emergency…

Example A.)  WHERE’S THE SUNSCREEN???

Example B.) WHO MOVED THE COOKIES??? THE COOKIES NEED TO BE PACKED! ZACH, DID YOU EAT THOSE??? THOSE ARE FOR THE TRIP!

Example C.) OMG WE DIDN’T BUY SMITH’S HOT DOGS–GET IN THE CAR, RIGHT NOW! WE HAVE TO GO TO GIANT EAGLE… THEY DON’T SELL SMITH’S HOT DOGS IN CAPE COD. WHAT IS THE FOURTH OF JULY WITHOUT SMITH’S HOT DOGS???

Example D.) ANDREW, WAKE UP!!! YOU HAVE TO SCHEDULE CLASSES FOR THE FALL, PACK YOUR SUITCASE AND GO TO WORK AND WE ARE RUNNING LOW ON TIME!!! COME ON!!!!

Example E.) I NEED TO SWEEP OUT THE GARAGE, EVERYONE GET THEIR CRAP OUT OF HERE.**

Example F.) DANIELLE, THIS IS NO TIME TO BE BLOGGING!!! GET MOVING, GIRLIE!

*Obviously, example E is my dad.  He feels the need to sweep the garage before we leave for a week… clearly, we cannot relax if there is dirt in the garage.

Meanwhile, my primary concern is the animals.  I hate hate hate leaving Sidney and Lilly.  One of my mom’s friends told me that if you talk to your animals enough prior to the trip, and explain where you are going, then they will understand that you are only going to be gone for a little bit.  While we are gone my dad’s brother (who also happens to be our neighbor) and my grandpa (who happens to be our other neighbor) will be animal-sitting. So it isn’t like Sidney and Lilly will be completely on their own, but still…

Both Sidney and Lilly are dashing around while we are running off to the store buying Smith’s Hot Dogs/packing. Everyone in our family is so different, in terms of their packing tendencies. Three of us are organized and obsessive about being prepared:  I, for one, am anal retentive and am extremely organized, so I packed everything I needed last night. Dad, is also obsessive and neatly folded all of the clothes he plans on taking…all he has left to do is put them into a bag. Finally, Zach has successfully packed everything he needs for a week of his life into one book bag and is ready to go.

Then there are two of us who are not-so-organized: Mom is too worried about everyone else, so she has managed to get a suitcase out but she has yet to put anything actually in it. And Andrew? Who knows if he even is aware that we are going on vacation… knowing him he missed the memo and will whip a few clean items into a bag in a panic-stricken frenzy as we all sit in the car and wait.  

Despite our pre-vacation idiosyncrasies we are looking forward to a nice and relaxing time at the beach…

Paranormal Activity?

24 Jun

Honestly, I can’t say that I believe in paranormal activity. And I am the kind of girl who can’t watch scary movies or I’ll pee the bed/sleep on my parents bedroom floor. Don’t judge me, I can so tell you think that’s lame.

I am a whimp. Ok. There, I’ve admitted it.

But when my best friend, Becky, texted me to invite me and my mom to join her and her mom (Mar) on a ghost walk, I was more than excited to go.

 So Mar called and made reservations for four. We met up with 30+ other people, who were all apparently interested in the ghost walk too, for the start of a spooktacular evening.

Upon arriving we met Captain Bob. Bob was ghost-story-clad in his collared, jean Eerie Erie button down, paired with a black leather hat, black smoking pipe and cast iron lantern.  The ghost tour spanned 2 hours and 30 minutes and covered 1 mile total.

We learned about apparitions and orbs and all of the stories attached to various buildings in downtown Erie that were several hundreds years old. At one point, we were standing outside a house that is now home to college students.  In the middle of Bob’s intriguing story, a young man carrying a twelve pack tapped me on the shoulder, “Um… what’s happening?” Bare in mind, we were standing downtown at 9PM with a large group of people, so I can imagine the student’s surprise when he walked closer and closer to his house (presumably coming from a local beer distributor, considering his cargo) to find a large crowd standing in his rented front lawn. I informed him that a dueling divorced couple once lived in this house and apparently the ex-wife killed off the ex-husband*. He giggled and couldn’t believe it. My aunt, who’d also come, told the college kid that if he wanted to hear anymore stories he’d have to give her a beer because she paid $6 for this tour. College kid didn’t take her up on her proposition.  College kid strolled back to his home, 12 pack in tow and shut the door to his haunted rented house. We carried on.

I don’t want to tell you any of the ghost stories, really, because they aren’t mine to tell.  *Plus, I’m sure I’d mess them up.  Bob is an excellent speaker and included a lot of detail that I’d never be able to reiterate with accuracy. It’s really amazing the amount of history these buildings have. And you’d never know it just walking past.  I have to tell you, for only $6, it was an awesome time and well worth it.  In fact, I am planning on going on another one later in the summer with mom, Mar and Becky.  If you are interested, you should check out their website at http://www.eerieerie.com/index.html where you can find all kinds of information.  That’s how we found out about it.  For us, it was a short drive and fun evening out.

On the website, you will see that there are several pictures that other previous tourists had taken. Bob had asked us to turn the flash off of our cellphones/cameras when we took pictures of any of the houses. This way, whatever you might see in the picture is not the result of light flashing. Orbs, if you believe in them, show up in pictures as balls of light.  Without the flash on, it is impossible for the ball of light to be caused as a result of your camera–which is probably why Bob doesn’t allow there to be any flash photography.  This leads me to something interesting…

Following the tour, mom, Mar, Becky, my aunt and uncle and I went downtown to grab a quick drink.  We bellied up to a bar that has been in Erie for decades. Becky asked her mom to take a picture of her and I.  [Sidenote:  Becky and I have known one another for several years. And she's appeared on this blog many-a-time.... here and here and here... and she is one of my very best friends of life. Recently, Becky's grandmother passed away.  Her and her Gram were very close and naturally, it's been difficult for her and her family.]  So, back to the picture… Becky’s mom, Mar, was holding Becky’s phone and we both leaned in for the picture.  And Mar makes a face at the phone.  I assumed it was a bad picture–like maybe I had a double chin and she didn’t want to hurt my feelings. So Mar instructed us to lean in and retake the picture. So we did.  And then Mar made the same disgruntled face.  At this point, I was convinced I’d grown horns or a beard but instead, Mar asked Becky to help her turn the flash off.  So Becky did. We leaned in for a third time and Mar, officially irritated, said, “I don’t know why this stupid dot is on here!” Becky grabbed her phone from her mom and looked at all three pictures.  In each of the three pictures there was a large white blob right in the picture with us…

Now maybe we were just in the mood to think about orbs and paranormal activity. And maybe I don’t even think half of this stuff is real. Anddd maybe, most likely, there is some kind of scientific explanation for this white dot. But maybe, just maybe, Becky’s Gram was with us… in orb form. And that? That’s pretty cool.

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Note: If you are ever looking for something fun to do, I’d highly recommend going on one of these walks.  We had so much fun hearing about the history of some of the oldest buildings in Erie and even though I don’t necessarily personally believe in all of the things I heard on the ghost walk, they were very entertaining and extremely interesting! It’d also be great for a date night; it’s cheap and a great conversation starter! I am taking Corey on one, he just doesn’t know it yet… not that I need a conversation starter… haha.

The Final Voyage

8 Jun

Andddd I’m back.

As per usual it’s been too long. Par for the course, really.

First of all, my mom is doing very well (all things considered). She’s undergone several rounds of chemo and her most recent blood work indicates that the cancer is responding to the chemo–which is beyond excellent.  Despite the exhaustion and consistent discomfort, she’s wearing her brave face and tackling life everyday with optimism and enthusiasm. True Sue style, really.

In other news, I got a job.  Like, a full-time teaching job which is obviously unbelievably amazing.  I am so excited for next school year!  Upon receiving the news I bought a new car, trading in my life-long ride… a 1999 VW Jetta…

… and while I loved my little red Jetta, it was time for an upgrade.  Jetta was bucking like a broncho as a result of a slipping 135,000+ mile transmission; she couldn’t play the radio at the same time the air conditioner was running and if the air conditioner was running, you might have thought that American Airlines was landing a plane in the lane next to you.  It was time.  On her final voyage, the Jetta sputtered and spat, she put quite the fight… but (begrudgingly) she made it to the dealership, where I kissed her good-bye and thanked her for all the good times and being there through all of the bad. I learned how to drive in that car, I drove off to college in that car, she carried me home when I learned that my mom had cancer. The Jetta and I had quite a bit of history together, but she and I both knew it was time to bid farewell.

And perhaps to show my loyalty, I purchased a brand new Jetta.  One with less than 100 miles on her, leather interior, heated seats, air conditioning, a moon roof, Sirius radio (that plays even when the air is on), a full navigational system, Bluetooth, and basically thinks for me…

I actually just took my first road trip in the new car last weekend to visit my doctor-to-be boyfriend.  Not only did I get to spend some quality time with my boyfriend, but also my lovely new car.

Corey is a few weeks into his graduate work in Physical Therapy at YSU. Unfortunately for me (and his brothers/parents) we are no longer viewed as people but rather study-worthy specimen.  Last week his class was learning about the shoulder and he volunteered me to be his shoulder study partner. Lucky girl, I know.  He cranked the crap out of my shoulder, named all the ligaments, bones and muscles and then told me I have a weak right shoulder most likely as a result of pitching too much in my growth spurt years. How romantic.

Other than that, all is well here at the homestead. We are all officially on summer vacay and planning a family trip to Boston sometime during the summer months. Now if you will excuse me, I have to go clean up the spoon I left on the counter before my father has an  aneurism about making messes.  Oh summer…

Fight Like a Girl

22 Apr

One of my friends/college softball-travel-roomies said it best:

And while I wish I could say that Mel was just stating the obvious, she is speaking specifically in regards to the fact that my mom is currently having a recurrence of cancer.

We found out that my mom had cancer again a little while ago. My family decided that we didn’t want to tell anyone about it, not just yet.  But after letting the reality of it sink in and spending some time dealing with it ourselves, we decided it was time.

Yesterday, my mom posted on Facebook letting everyone know what was going on.  Roughly three hours after that post the Lady Penguins were slated for a game. During her initial diagnosis and fight, I was a playing my senior year of  college softball.  My teammates showed their support in many ways, but one way in particular was when they all showed up to senior night wearing teal bows in their hair.

Yesterday the Lady Penguins–some of whom do not even know me or my mother and some who are my very very close friends– wore teal bows during the first game of their series against Wright State.

It is amazing the amount of support your friends family can provide you with from 100+miles away. The Lady ‘Guins aren’t the only team supporting my mom though.  My other alma mater has been sporting these warm up shirts before every game all season…

…even though they didn’t know she was rediagnosed at the time, they decided to wear them; their support has been unwavering and we really appreciate it.

So this is a collective thank you, to everyone who has prayed for us, thought about us, sent some positivity our way this weekend.  It all helps!   One person in particular wrote something on Facebook in regards to my mom’s post about her recurrence that really provides the perfect conclusion to this post:

I turned on the floodlight here at the Lamp Post.  There is power in prayer.  Close your eyes and feel that power.  It is being sent to you from me and these 20 people who commented above me, and the 20 others who read this post and aren’t sure what to say, and the 20 more each person tells.  We’re all behind you, beside you, and beneath you.  Call any one of us when you need anything–even if it’s just a word of encouragement.  Love you!
~Eloise Hawking
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