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Don’t Let ‘Em Drag You Down

“Stay safe, keep faith, and don’t let ’em drag you down.”

That’s what the gate guard said to me when I was headed back to the installation from my lunch break a few weeks ago.  Okay, so he says that to everyone.  Every car – always, “Stay safe, keep faith, and don’t let ’em drag you down.”  It’s his mantra – that thing he repeats over and over again just to get himself – and others – through the day.

But that day, for some reason, it meant so much more.

Those of you who’ve been keeping up with us have seen that Erin has had a busy couple of weeks – getting hired, getting fired (err… quitting), and cultivating an overall level of squirreliness that’s borderline-scary.

Even for her.

But I’m about to explain this, since it’s finally come to the point where I actually can.

See, I gave notice at my place of employment last week as well.  And while it didn’t involve high-heel shootouts or greased piglets, it did involve a certain amount of uncertainty.  After nearly 2 1/2 years at the place, it’s the longest I’ve consistently worked anywhere.


In fact, one year I had to file taxes for 7 jobs in 3 different states.  So this?  This was a feat.

What’s crazy is that it was a good job.  A very good job.  Oh, and that whole deal about getting a paycheck was pretty great too.  But somewhere along the ride, it went from newness and excitement to this and this.  And while most people would still be grateful to even have a job, what I’m looking for is something else.  Experience.  Stimulation.  Life.

How’s that for introspective?

I know I have a passion for something, but it definitely isn’t this:

(I stole Erin’s picture because the sad reality is that mine looks pretty much the same.  But cheaper.)

And I’m pretty sure it’s not government work.  So after 27+ years on this earth, I still can’t tell you what my passion is.  But after 12 years of thorough research, I can definitely tell you what it isn’t:

  • Washing dishes
  • Selling jewelry
  • Waiting tables
  • Wearing suits
  • Fixing watches
  • Giving tours
  • Hanging clothes
  • Making spreadsheets
  • Kissing asses
  • Watching children
  • Flipping burgers
  • Sorting CD’s

In fact, the only commonality I actually liked with each of these jobs was the people.  Be it the people I worked with or the people I helped, I always enjoyed them.

So after much thought and consideration about what I actually wanted to do, I eventually approached my equally professionally-dissatisfied friend with a proposition:

How about we take this blog on the road?

All it took was a weekend trip to Frederick, sushi bribes, lots of alcohol, and a quote from Thoreau (“How vain it is to sit down to write when you haven’t stood up to live.”) to convince her we both needed this adventure.  And I might have let her see my boobs.


Actually all it took was a quick Skype session with her husband, and we were ready to roll.  The rest was just for fun.

So that’s what we’re doing.  Actually, we’re not driving.  We’re flying.  Then busing.  Then walking.  Then riding.  But we’ll get there, and there we will stay for 61 days.

Where?  Well it’s taking a bit of planning (not exactly my forte), and all will be revealed very shortly.

In the meantime… Stay safe, keep faith, and don’t let ’em drag you down.

Guilty Pleasure

One of my all-time favorite foods is the avocado.

Case-in-point.  Here’s the DELICIOUS avocado salad I ordered at a sushi restaurant in Frederick, MD a few weeks ago:

Avocado Salad

If I can eat – and love – a “salad” comprised almost entirely of avocado, you know I love ’em.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that it was followed by this:


(Sorry, took the sushi photo with my phone.)

And this:


But anyway.  You wanna make me happy?  Don’t bring me flowers.  Don’t bring me jewelry.  Bring me a couple of ripe avocados.

(Or a can of black olives.)

But today, I’m talkin’ about the avocado.  A luscious, buttery, and green (happens to be my favorite color) fruit that tastes great plain, but even better when adorning a BLT, salmon, or whipped up into a dip for chips.

I make avocado dip all the time in the summer.  It’s my favorite weekend snack, especially when the hubs is out of town.  It’s not exactly a healthy treat, but a girl’s gotta have some guilty pleasures, right?  Right?!

I’m sure you’re all familiar with guacamole, which is made from avocados mixed with various seasonings, tomatoes, and onion.

The dip I make is quite a bit simpler because it’s really just all about the garlic.  And I usually have all of the ingredients on-hand (besides the avocados).  I play with the proportions all the time – you’ll notice the amounts in my photos don’t exactly match the amounts below, but below tends to be the proportions I stick with the most and should give you a good base to adjust according to your tastes.

What you need:

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (or more if you love garlic like me – less if you plan on making out with someone who didn’t eat this with you)
  • 6 Tbsp. sour cream
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Pepper

1.  Start by dicing up your garlic.  Mmmm…. garlic.  They say garlic smell starts coming out of your pours when you eat it.  I say, why is that a bad thing?  There are worse things to smell like than garlic.

minced garlic

2.  Then slice your avocados length-wise (you’ll have to circle around the seed), chop your knife into the seed, twist, then pop it out.  Use a spoon to scoop the delicious avocado innards into a bowl.


3.  Add the minced garlic to the bowl.

avocado dip

4.  Then add the sour cream and lemon juice.

avocado dip

The lemon juice helps keep your avocado from turning brown.

avocado dip

5.  Mix everything together with a fork.  (You can also do this in a food processor if your avocados are still slightly hard, but usually mashing it up with a fork works pretty well.)

avocado dip

Okay I realize this doesn’t exactly look appetizing, but trust me.  It’s yummy.

6.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, dip in a chip, and enjoy!

avocado dip

Life’s a Beach. Or Something.

So if there’s one thing I’ve learned from traveling with a photographer, it’s that you better be prepared to have your picture taken.

A lot.

And when you travel with a photographer who married a technology geek, you’re really in trouble.

When we went to Hawaii 2 years ago with Scott and Leah, Scott liked to play with the camera remote.


And let’s just say we haven’t matured since last time.

I swear I’m just trying to put my camera in the bag.

Anyway, the lesson?

2 martinis, an aversion to footwear, and a little black dress do not a Baywatch babe make.

But I’m okay with that.

Free Fallin’

Can I just say… wow.

Until yesterday, I’ve never felt the urge to laugh, cry, scream, pee, and call my mom all at the same time.

And let me just say this:

I think I’m addicted.

The hubs and I decided we wanted to try at least one extreme sport on our visit to Hawaii.  We already tried scuba diving on our honeymoon in St. Lucia (loved it), and I’m not in the greatest shape for mountain climbing/biking.  We were inspired by a friend who’s been stationed here to try skydiving.  After all, where else are we going to get better views on the way down?

So we called up Skydive Hawaii and set up our day/time.  We decided on the end of the trip so that, if the worst possible thing were to happen, at least we would’ve had a week in Hawaii before we died.  Ha.

There is surprisingly little preparation required before throwing yourself out of a Cessna Caravan.

We needed to sign every page of an 8 billion (okay just 8 ) page contract:

Skydive Hawaii

Notice the not-so-fine print:

Skydive Hawaii

You can’t tell from my face, but signing this contract might have been the scariest part of the entire ordeal:

Photo By: Leah B Photography (click for link)

Then we waited our turn out on the deck.  It didn’t take very long for Johnny, my soon-to-be tandem partner, to introduce himself and start getting me geared up.  As you can see, it’s a bit of an intimate process.  Luckily, I was too busy trying not to crap my pants from sheer nervousness to really notice.  (Classy, no?)

Tandem Skydiving
Photo By: Leah B Photography (click for link)

My cousin Leah took advantage of this opportunity to take pictures of my butt (okay, maybe she was taking pictures of the bright orange DANGER sign on my back):

Hawaii Skydive
Photo By: Leah B Photography (click for link)

Meanwhile, the hubs was getting some quick instructions from Big Jim, his tandem partner:

Skydive Hawaii
Photo By: Leah B Photography (click for link)

Looks comfortable, huh?

Some jumpers were landing in the airfield right across from us – think the hubs looks excited?

Skydive Hawaii
Photo By: Leah B Photography (click for link)

Hubs and Big Jim:

Skydive Hawaii
Photo By: Leah B Photography (click for link)

Before we knew it, it was time to head out to the airfield.

My thoughts:

You mean whatever is in that little backpack is going to keep me from plummeting 10,000 feet to my death?

Why does this feel like dead woman walking?

I’m trusting you, Johnny!

Skydive Hawaii
Photo By: Leah B Photography (click for link)

And we’re getting in that?

Skydive Hawaii
Photo By: Leah B Photography (click for link)

I guess we are.  And we seem happy about it.

Skydive Hawaii

There we go!

Skydive Hawaii
Photo By: Leah B Photography (click for link)

Can’t say the view was terrible…

Skydive Hawaii

Are we high enough yet?

Now is a good time to say one thing:  The staff at Skydive Hawaii were phenomenal.  The photographers and tandem jumpers were laid-back and experts at putting us at ease.

And Johnny, if you’re out there, THANK YOU for pushing me out of that plane.

This was the most surreal moment of my life.  Please excuse my butt.  Thank you.

Skydive Hawaii

I’d like to tell you that all kinds of profound, life-changing thoughts were going through my head at this point.  But in reality, all I could manage was, “holy sh*t.”

Skydive Hawaii

And WTF am I doing??

Skydive Hawaii

But then…

Skydive Hawaii

…then is was pretty. damn. spectacular.

Skydive Hawaii

And I couldn’t help but smile.

Skydive Hawaii

Which might have caused me to drool (occupational hazard, I’m told).

Skydive Hawaii

I’ll admit I lost my cool a bit when the parachute came out (could’ve used some warning on that one, Johnny).  ;)

Skydive Hawaii

I think the hubs had fun, too:

Skydive Hawaii

Skydive Hawaii

We got to hang out in the ‘chute for awhile… Johnny even let me steer.  (Sort-of… I’m glad he didn’t actually let go of the ropes.)

It was so quiet.

So beautiful.


As if all that weren’t enough, two shirtless guys came running at me as we landed.  Umm, does Skydive Hawaii rock, or what?

Skydive Hawaii

I was glad to get the hubs back on the ground with me.  The guys ran at him too, but I don’t think he enjoyed it as much.

Skydive Hawaii

Did we really just do that???!!

Skydive Hawaii

Skydive Hawaii

Thanks, Johnny!

Skydive Hawaii

(Please excuse the fact that I seem to be flossing my teeth with my hair.  We’re lucky my legs are even holding me up at this point.)

We even got these little certificates for completing our first jump:

Skydive Hawaii


I would be lying if I said that after this experience I didn’t seriously contemplate shipping the little monsters over here, setting up house in a van on the North Shore, getting a job in an art gallery, and spending my free time getting my skydiving certification.  The hubs would just have to get stationed over here.  It could work.

But when it comes to these people – these amazing, thrill-seeking, life-loving people – I’m not sure I’d ever fit in.

Aside from getting in my car and driving to work every day, I don’t tend to tempt fate very often – let alone on a regular basis.

How do people do that?  Take these huge risks over and over without freaking out every single time and wondering if the last thing they’ll ever see is the ground – the beautiful ground – plummeting towards their bodies at over 100 mph.?

Maybe I love life too much to take those kind of regular risks.

But it could also be argued by those who take them… maybe I don’t love it enough.

Skydive Hawaii

These Things I’ve Learned

1.  Some people are brave.

2.  The pleasure of drinking coffee increases tenfold when you sip from a giant mug.

3.  Surfboards can be very, very expensive.


4.  It’s really difficult to take non-blurry photos at night.  Without a tripod.  After drinking 2 martinis.

Waikiki Night

5.  You haven’t truly experienced Hawaii until you’ve balanced a pineapple on your head while standing on the beach.

6.  Monsters are easy to miss.

Lil Monsters

7.  There IS a difference between SPF30 and SPF50 sunblock.

I’ll spare you the photo.

Pancakes with a Side of Kidney

Monday night we decided to give my aunt and uncle a break and head out to Waikiki with my cousin Leah and her husband Scott.  It was a nice change from the low-key days of drinking coffee out on the lanai, lolling around the beaches and perusing shops along the North Shore.

And the great thing about being on an island – albeit a different part of the island – is that there’s still a beach.

Waikiki Beach

There’s always a beach.

And an ocean.

Waikiki Beach

The evening was fun, with a couple bar hops and a delectable sushi dinner at Sansei.

It was breakfast the next morning, however, that proved to be the highlight of our over-nighter in Waikiki.

Mac 24-7

We’d heard about a restaurant called Mac 24-7 from that disgusting show on the Food Network (Man V. Food) where the guy travels around stuffing his face with as much food as he can find.  It’s so gross, we can’t help but watch it.  One of his challenges was to finish a stack of 3, 14-inch pancakes at Mac’s.  Do that, and you earn yourself a spot on the Wall of Fame.  Easier said than done.

Mac 24-7

Anyway, the 4 of us thoroughly enjoyed indulging in our various delicacies of choice:

Eggs Benedict Royale for me…

Eggs Benedict Royale

Mac Attack (with pancakes topped with pineapple, macadamia nuts and toasted coconut with coconut syrup) for the hubs…

Mac Attack

Toasted buttermilk waffle with strawberries and whipped cream for Leah…

Toasted Buttermilk Waffle

And the infamous 14-inch Mac Daddy pancakes for Scott (“The Elvis”, topped with bacon, bananas, and a peanut butter syrup-type substance).

The Elvis Mac Daddy Pancakes

Between heaping mouthfuls of pure goodness, we chatted with our server a bit about the area.  He was an extremely friendly man named Jose.

Turns out Jose has worked at Mac’s since 1980!

And he had the most interesting story to share.

In 2002, Jose had a regular customer – a rather brusque man who always seemed to be in a hurry.  When the customer came in to eat after neglecting to show up for his regular meal for a few weeks, Jose asked him where he’d been.  The man told him he was very sick and had just been put on the list to receive a kidney donation.

Long story short, Jose learned he was a match as a doner and actually donated his own kidney to the man.  Talk about superior customer service.

This is the type of person I’m always grateful to meet – warm, cheerful, and automatically puts those around him at ease.  Even though I only knew him for an hour, Jose is someone I’ll never forget.

And he makes a mean latte.

You can read Jose’s story here.

And in case you’re wondering, Scott did not earn a spot on the Wall of Fame.

Mac Daddy

Nice try, Scott.  Nice try.

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