Smörgåsbord

The Swede and his daughter made room in their house for me during my visit to Sweden.

It was very thoughtful of them to accommodate me for a whole week while I immersed myself in all things Swedish.

As a thank you, I took them to the smörgåsbord at The Grand Hôtel in Stockholm – a beautiful waterfront hotel located in between the Royal Palace and Gamla Stan (Stockholm’s Old Town).

What can I possibly say about the smörgåsbord?

It was mind blowing.

First of all, there were lots of fish dishes, from gravlax (salmon) to poached cod to smoked sturgeon.

The only gross thing I ate was a slice of homemade sausage that tasted like armpit.

Everything else was scrumptious!

They made these little egg cups with caviar on top that were TO DIE FOR.

I think I ate three.

The Swede’s daughter ate four.

I washed all my food down with two glasses of champagne and the only downside to The Swede driving us into Stockholm is that he wasn’t able to enjoy champagne with me (the drunk driving BAC limit in Sweden is 0.02, a quarter of what it is in the US).

It was a pretty amazing night and a wonderful meal with outstanding company and I will treasure my memories of it always.

 

 

Mom to the rescue

So there I am, relaxing on Waikiki Beach, getting my sun on when all of a sudden my sister hollers for me.

“MICHELLE!”

I turn to look at her.

She’s reclining in the shade of a banyan tree, avoiding the sun, which is exactly what I SHOULD be doing but AM NOT.

“WHAT?” I yell back.

She points to the banyan tree.

Standing in the banyan tree, about 15 feet up in the air, is my son Duncan.

He’s gone and gotten himself STUCK UP A TREE IN HAWAII.

I snickered.

Time to rescue my almost-18-year-old son who thinks he’s so grown up.

This is not the first time I’ve saved his butt.

There was that time he went snorkeling among speedboats in Tahoe.

And pretty much his ENTIRE childhood I spent keeping him on a leash because he liked to walk into traffic.

So this was nothing new to me.

“Please don’t break anything,” I said to him when I got close.

We walked over to the side of the tree he had climbed up and he proceeded to jump down and. . .well, see for yourself.

Just so you know, no matter how grown up they are, they still need a mother.

When swimming with dolphins kinda sucks

Somehow I got it in my head that it would be fun to swim with dolphins.

A lot of fun.

So I plopped down $250 per person for the privilege to do so at O’ahu’s famed Sea Life Park.

Needless to say, I was inundated with comments about animal abuse.

And no, I have not seen The Cove.

It pretty much robbed me of all my joy for the activity so when I couldn’t get my nose piercing out (the park requires all piercings be removed), I wasn’t all that disappointed that I couldn’t do it.

Best to let my boys, who had been shielded from conversations about The Cove, enjoy the activity.

And enjoy it they did!

They swam, hugged, kissed, and rode the dolphins and had a great time.

And I truly enjoyed watching them.

Which was nice considering all the guilt I experienced for doing it in the first place.

So let it be known, if you decide to swim with dolphins in a park, you’re likely to get beaten down with stories about dolphin abuse so DON’T TELL ANYONE WHAT YOU’RE DOING OR ELSE!!!

Watching my boys swim with dolphins was the best disappointment of my whole trip to Hawaii.

When O’ahu starts to look like Oakland

I suppose our rental wasn’t in the most elegant area of O’ahu.

We were located in Ewa Beach, just on the other side of Pearl Harbor.

10 minutes from Honolulu as the crow flies, but 45 minutes by car (since you have to drive around Pearl Harbor).

The house was neat and well apportioned but the neighborhood left a lot to be desired – dilapidated houses and stripped vehicles.

I’m not kidding.

There were ROWS on ROWS of stripped cars up on cinder blocks.

Driving through the jungle of freeways in Honolulu, my oldest son couldn’t help but remark, “I feel like I’m in Oakland, only hotter.”

To add to the ambiance of our neighborhood, every day at 8 am, gunfire would erupt.

My sister thought it was someone who was bad with a nail gun.

I knew better.

I did a quick google search and found the Pu’uloa Shooting Range in Ewa Beach, a mere 1.5 miles from our rental.

Ewa Beach, however, was beautiful, if a little rough.

My sister got tossed around the first day we went out.

But the boys had a blast.

Tahoe Trip: The Black Hole

One thing my sister and I do a lot of when I go to visit her is GET TATTOOS.

Another thing we do is GET PIERCINGS.

I can’t tell you how much fun I have in the dark, cramped rooms of seedy tattoo parlors and piercing studios.

My boys joke that every time I go to Reno, I return with a new piercing or tattoo.

And that’s not far from the truth.

This visit, my sister and I went to Black Hole Body Piercing in Reno.

I needed to get my nose piercing tightened.  Exciting stuff.

My sister, however, got her left daith pierced.

piercingsI held my sister’s hand as the technician got ready to poke another hole in her body.

Lisa flinched when the needle went in. . .  and she didn’t stop flinching.

I didn’t envy her the piercing, though I’ve been thinking about getting another pair of piercings in my lobes.

And the end result?

Nothing short of beautiful:

daith peircing

Tahoe Trip: Rock, Paper, Scissors

If I told you that the concert that I went to at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe with Sting and Peter Gabriel, two brilliant Englishmen, was AWESOME I would be understating the experience.

It was MORE THAN AWESOME.

It was epic.

A once-in-a-lifetime experience.

History in the making.

Sting shaved off his beard and was looking particularly devilishly handsome.

Especially when he rocked his hips during “Sledgehammer.”

I’ve never been fond of sledgehammers, but at the moment I was convinced that he could “sledgehammer” me and I’d be quite happy with the outcome.

My sister and I drank nothing but water at the concert so we were sobering up as the concert progressed which might be why I remember more of the end of the concert than the beginning.

Of course it could also be that they pulled out all the stops as the concert climaxed.

My heels, which I’d been wearing ALL DAY since 5 am, failed me and so I had to sit for most of the concert and watch the show on the Jumbotron.

Here are some of my favorite pics from the concert:

IMG_9948 IMG_9949
IMG_9952 IMG_9955

 

Tahoe Trip: The Bar Chronicles

I took a little mini break to Reno/Tahoe this past weekend to see Sting and Peter Gabriel in concert in Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Getting there was a HUGE hassle.

My Thursday evening flight was cancelled.

And I did all my nervous flyer prep – 2 Ativan, 1 Makers on the rocks, 2 beers, and a downloaded movie (Avatar) to distract myself.

So when the young lady at the counter suggested I use a credit from Alaska Air to DRIVE to Reno, I was in no condition to drive.

Fast forward to Friday morning.

I’m finally on a plane heading to Reno/Tahoe airport.

There was a whirlwind of activity when I arrived:

  • Breakfast with my sister
  • Packing for the overnight in Tahoe
  • Buying food in case we get the munchies after the concert
  • The short drive to Tahoe, which I scored the music for
  • And finally, checking in to our hotel – Harvey’s

And so it was, at 1 pm, that we commenced with the drinking.

I think I had, over the course of 6 hours, 5 gin and tonics (they were small), one mojito, and one VERY POORLY MADE SAZERAC.

sazeracNEVER ORDER A COCKTAIL IF THE BARTENDER ASKS YOU HOW TO MAKE IT!

I got rye whiskey on the rocks with a splash of simple syrup and a dash of Angostura bitters.

Garnished with a lemon wedge.

No absinthe wash, no Peychaud’s bitters, and IT WAS SERVED ON ICE.

Ok, enough with the rant.

My sister and I drank so much that we opted to just drink water at the concert.

This, I think, saved us both from hangovers the next day.

And, unlike our Elton John debacle, we actually remember the WHOLE CONCERT!

Hawaiian Vacation

In a few short weeks, my sister, my two boys and I will be heading to Hawaii for a week long vacation in the sun.

The last time we went to Hawaii, my boys got in a knock down, drag out fight and broke a glass table in the condo we were staying at.

I was livid!

This time, I think we’ll do a lot better.

My sister and I make strange travel partners.

I like to do things and she likes to chill.

Ironically, that makes us perfect for each other.

I get her off the beach and out of the condo and off doing things.

She gets me to relax and take it easy.

We strike a nice balance.

This time around we are going to:

  1. Swim with dolphins
  2. Visit Pearl Harbor

And that’s it folks. That’s all we have planned.

Of course were looking into:

  1. ATV tour of the jungle
  2. A luau
  3. A submarine ride

So there might be a little more excitement coming our way.

Two unscheduled things I do want to do are:

  1. Eat shrimp off a shrimp truck in North Shore
  2. Find really good shaved ice

I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to achieve all this, but I’ll tell you one thing :

I’M NOT GOING TO BE BLOGGING!

I’m taking a blogging vacay!

2017 Adventures

glampingI’ve been thinking about what I want to do for 2017 (besides hide from our social media-challenged, egomaniac President). I’ve come up with a short list of 10 things I’d like to do over the next year (and more, of course):

  1. Go glamping in an Airstream trailer at the Russian River. Autocamp has drool-worthy Airstreams with walnut cabinetry and the fanciest bathrooms ever to grace an RV. FYI $200 – $350 per night.
  2. Visit Bodega Bay. Check out the views along Bodega Head and grab some fresh seafood along the coast. Can you say fresh crab, straight from the sea?
  3. Spend a few hours exploring Cornerstone Gardens in Sonoma. Maybe stop at Taylor’s Refresher in St. Helena for a fresh blueberry milkshake and a sushi-grade ahi tuna burger.
  4. Wine tasting trips with friends to Paso Robles, Sonoma, the South Bay and Livermore. Pick up some 2013 Malbec at Concannon Vinyards and Winery.
  5. Check out the Ferry Building in San Francisco. Maybe stop in to Cowgirl Creamery and get some delicious melted raclette cheese on pickles and bread.
  6. Apple picking at Apple Hill. Be sure to fill a growler with fresh apple cider, preferably the fermented variety. Visit my aunt and uncle and cousins at the cabin and have some family fun.
  7. Spend the weekend in Half Moon Bay and Pescadero. Eat at Duarte’s Tavern and be sure to order a cup of their cream of green chile soup. Also go to Harley Goat Farm to buy goat cheese and related goat milk products. Hit the Highway 1 Brewing Company for some brews and stop at the haunted Moss Beach Distillery for a sundowner on the patio watching the sunset.
  8. Go on the Napa Valley Wine Train with friends. Make a weekend of it and go on the Napa Art Walk the next day. Check out Napa’s funy, hip boutiques and art galleries. Saturate with wine. Repeat.
  9. Camping at Grover Springs Campground. Take a soak in one of their simmering hot springs tucked away in the middle of the pine forest.
  10. Hike to Feather Falls and see the three tiers of the falls plunge 640 feet into the Sierra foothills. Go in the spring when the wildflowers are in bloom for maximum loss of breath.

So there’s my list, now who wants to do these things with me? My Facebook friends better be prepared for me to hit them up to go these adventures with me!

Now that I’ve made a list, it’s time to start checking off things.

But first, make the rain stop.

Dream a little dream

For most of my adult life, I’ve fantasized about going to three places:

  • Greece
  • Finland
  • Australia

I’ve wanted to go to Greece on account of all the beautiful pictures I’ve seen of it – white walls, blue seas, and Mediterranean food.

greeceFinland has made it to my list oddly enough because I love the idea of sleeping in a glass igloo under the aurora borealis. Even in freezing cold temperatures with blankets of snow.

finlandAnd Australia made it to my list because… well… Australia!

australiaAt the risk of sounding ridiculous, I love the accents, the animals, and the beautiful cities.

I haven’t travelled as much as I would like to mostly because in all my fantasies about traveling the world, I never fantasized about doing it solo.

I mean what’s the point of sleeping in a glass igloo under a dramatic night sky unless you’re simultaneously getting your freak on?

Don’t get me wrong. I traveled to Scotland with my sister and I drove all over from Oban to Fort William to Inverness to the Isle of Skye.

I watched a shinty game in Skye with little biting midges flying up my nose and in my eyes while the shinty boys raced like thunder up and down the pitch.

Their thighs captivated me.

I really exposed myself to a different culture and people.

And I want to continue to do so.

But alone?

No thanks.

I may just have to bug my sister to take another trip with me next summer.

The question is: Where do we go first?

And can I convince my sister, who is an avid relax-and-do-nothing vacationer, to go out with me and get dirty/wet while having fun?

That is the questions my friends.