Friend Fail. Summafun Fail. Ice cream win!

Oh my.

This was our third attempt to see Inception.

Attempt #1 – rain.  thunder.  tornado warning.  mr buffinton.  (scroll down if you need the fully story.

Attempt #2 – torchlight parade.  not too magical.  should have stuck with the movie

Attempt #3 – sold out.  BUT not only was it sold out, but I also invited a new friend from small group to join us!  Then I forgot my phone at home.  THEN she called Amber – turns out, she was already there, so she had just gone into the theater, so not only did we miss out, but we basically forced the new girl to go see a movie all by herself!  SO sad!!!!!

To make ourselves feel better, we went to Coldstone for our favorite ice cream treat: cheesecake ice cream with peanut butter cup mixed in.  but ALAS, the cheesecake ice cream was empty!  Panic may have set in.  But, if you refer back to the title, you will know that all turned out well in the world of ice cream, as they had more in back.

WHEW!

And, sorry new friend!  We will do better at being friends next time!!!!

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A look towards Argentina

I realized this morning that I am going to Argentina really pretty soon!  I cannot believe it!

Amber and I met today to work on the plans for our trip.

Unfortunately, it does not look like we will be able to make our dream of eating andes mints in the Andes Mountains, come true.  We are a bit disappointed, but it would be pretty expensive and we wouldn’t have as much time in Buenos Aires, as it would need to be an 2-3 day trip.

Fortunately, it looks like I will be spending my half-birthday at an estancia (ranch) that has a castle, horseback riding, and other amazing things.  This will be a half birthday that dreams are made of!

We will be heading to Uruguay for one of the weekends.  We will probably visit a fancy city where celebrities such as Shakira have houses.  She will probably want us to stay for dinner.

That’s all for now!  Get excited to hear about our adventures as we have them!!

blonde+ice cream=disappointment

This past weekend, my roommate and I decided to invite some friends over for pizza, a movie, and homemade ice cream.  I was excited that one of my good friends from small group would be joining us, but then I realized that our menu for fun was not very non-dairy-friendly.  So I picked up some breadsticks and went with strawberry sorbet instead of ice cream.  I wasn’t really sure about all the steps involved, but I was wearing a super cute apron, so I figured all would be well.  I servcd my friends dinner and capri sun and we hung out and it was an enjoyable time.  Time flew by, and soon the strawberry-ness had chilled long enough to go in the ice cream maker.  It looked DELICIOUS!  I got out the ice cream maker, reviewed the directions since I have only used it once, and then my face fell as I realized I had not pre-frozen the bowl that spins the ice cream around until it magically transforms itself into a frozen treat.  I guess I am not the only one who causes summafun fails.

But the good news is that I will try again tomorrow.  Stop on by for some strawberry sorbet!  I promise it will be amazing!!!

** I probably should make no such guarantees.  I really have no way of knowing what it will taste like.**

Summer Storms… summer smiles.

**I would like to preface this harrowing tale by saying that I am not saying that these were all the right, or safest choices, but we made the best of a not awesome situation and there is a happy ending. PTL**

Once upon a time, my friends and I decided to have an innocent afternoon and evening of summer fun.  The weather had different ideas.  (insert menacing music here)

We went to Jazz Fest in Minneapolis, then we went to have dinner at Brit’s before hitting up the waterski show and a movie in the park.  This is where things took an unexpected turn…

We were sitting on the roof at Brit’s and it was starting to sprinkle, so we figured we should go, since we were done eating and were sitting outside and all.  There was talk of a movie, or perhaps going to a friend’s apartment close by.  As we were leaving I heard from my sister that severe weather would be hitting mpls within the hour.  Unfortunately, our friend got called into work, so we were on the streets with nowhere to go.  The best option (over standing in the streets) seemed to be to walk to our cars on the other side of downtown.  Most of us had umbrellas, only one friend did not.  (There were three guys and two girls for this outing).  Our umbrella-less friend said he was fine and didn’t want to share.  This held true until about halfway back to the church where we’d parked our cars.

Suddenly the light sprinkle turned into a heavy downpour with strong winds, and dark clouds moving in over the city – making it seem like night.  Us girls could barely make it when we had to cross streets – with no buildings to shield us from the winds and huge puddles and slippery flip flops – we thought we might get stranded in the middle of the street, unable to fight the wind any longer.  Did I mention the tornado sirens are going off as well at this point?  The boys are in front of us, leading the way and cracking jokes.  Amber and I are making plans to run into a nearby parking garage if we hear/see a tornado.

We finally arrive, drenched beyond belief, at church where our cars are.  At this point, we are very sad that our friend who works at the church is not there with us to let us in so we can wait out the storm in safety, because there is NO way we are going to drive in this.  That just would not be a wise decision.  So we stand dripping under the overhang.  The boys wring out their shirts, and Amber and I feel a little sad that as girls, we will continue being soaked.

Along the walk, I am just praying that God would protect us and that we will find a safe place to take shelter from the storm, because there wasn’t really anything we could do, or any specific place we could seek out and go to. As the boys are wringing out their shirts, a girl runs by us through the parking lot.  She turns around and heads back to us.  We assume she is probably going to stand under the overhang with us.  Instead she asks if we need a place to wait out the storm.  Her apartment was about a block away, and we could go with her.  The boys say no, thanks but we will be fine.  She asks if we are sure, because at the lightrail station they said that mpls is under a tornado warning.  I say “maybe we should” and soon everyone agrees to go.  What an answer to prayer!  So kind of her!!!

We head back out into the rain follow her to her apt.  On the walk, she asks me if we go Hope and names a friend who also goes there.  I was excited that her friend is someone I know and think is really great!   Our new friend’s roommates were in the process of moving out, so we all sat, dripping on the floor of her living room, surrounded by boxes and random things.  We all introduced ourselves and discovered that we all had friends in common with her, from various things in life.  Between the five of us, we had 18 mutual friends!  It was crazy!

She also had a cat named Mr. Buffington – most amazing and distinguished cat name ever.  At one point, she brought out a little antique accordian, which the guys all tried playing,  while narrating a story about Mr. Buffington going on a walk through London in a British accent (because where else would a cat with that name live?).  It was hilarious.  They also tried out all the of the various instruments in the living room, including several drums, a xylophone, and more.  At this point, we did some photo documentation so people would believe our adventures, and feel sad they missed this new band forming!  All in all, we hung out with with our new friend for probably two hours at least – just chatting, and laughing, and telling stories. Us girls were parked on the other side of the church from the guys, but they walked us to our cars because “it is what Mr. Buffington would want them to do”

It has never felt so good to dry off and put on warm clothes!

The End.

How do you solve a problem like Maria?

As we were waiting for our train conductor to call “All aboard” and blow the ridiculous little train whistle (they literally do this), we looked to our right, and approaching from the distance, with the river and mountains behind them was someone wearing a large floppy hat and carrying a guitar, walking merrily along.  I immediately said, “Julie Andrews??” and began singing “The hills are alive” – unfortunately it turned out to be a man dressed in khaki and a fishing hat carrying a guitar, and we were not actually entering into The Sound of Music.  Disappointing.  Yet amazing.

My Happy Place

I have loved this whole trip so much – each day we have done one of my favorite things (or perhaps a new favorite thing) but I’d have to say that today was spent in my happy place.  If I could plan the ideal day, it would probably look something like today did.

We started out with a leisurely (free) delicious breakfast, then headed off to take our picture with the love statue.  Once we realized they had one here, just like we stumbled upon one in Tokyo, we knew we had to get our picture with it.  It was considerably smaller than Japan’s – no sitting in letters this time!  But totally worth stopping by.

Then we hit up two gardens.  The first was the Queen Elizabeth Park, and the second was a botanical garden nearby.  We meandered through winding paths, soaking in the sun, enjoying the cool breeze that carried floral scents, and looking off to see the mountains in the distance.

Rachel stopped on a park bench at the first destination so that I could take my time photographing the flowers.  Taking pictures of flowers is one of my favorite things to do – and she kindly came prepared =)

At the second park we bought lunch at the garden cafe.  We sat in cute little wrought iron chairs and ate… hot dogs??

The botanical garden was simply gorgeous.  It was HUGE!  and beautifully landscaped.  We even got to go through a hedge maze (lifelong dream – checked off the list!)

There was a little waterfall, a rose garden, and really cool trees, like the monkey puzzle tree, and the snake branch spruce, and the corkscrew hazel tree.

It was delightful to stop at a bench set next to a beautiful little scene from a fairytale, complete with irises on the banks of a pond that has both water lilies and ducks.  A gazebo overlooking the pond framed the right side of the water, and pine trees and mountains filled in the rest of the backdrop.  We sat here in the sun for quite a while, reading our books and enjoying life.  It was lovely!

We LOVED the rose garden, and I even ignored the buzzing I could hear around me (which I was rather proud of) until I saw a HUGE swarm of bees nearing in on Rachel’s head.  I do NOT like bees.  At this point we made a quick getaway.

Tonight we are off to the historic district of Vancouver to take in the cute little cobblestone streets, brownstones, and fun shops and restaurants.

Yes, flowers+strolls+reading+sun+photography+historicalness= the perfect end to our Spinster Sister Vacation.  SUCCESS!

It’s a boat, it’s a plane, it’s a float plane!

Rachel and I decided that a float plane trip up above the mountains near Whistler was probably essential to our trip, and probably a once in a lifetime experience.

For me, it was definitely a once in a lifetime experience, as I was surprised that my body did not like the constant ups and downs and turbulence and twists and turns.  Normally I LOVE that sort of thing!  Body – why were you so confused???  I think that it was through sheer willpower that I did not succomb to motion sickness.

Rachel on the other hand will be doing her best to make friends with little planes, and perhaps will be found loitering around the Crystal airport.

I am so glad we went though, as the views were INCREDIBLE!  Seriously – SO awesome!!  We saw mountain tops, looked down into valleys, noted the frequent creeks flowing down the mountain side, looked at aqua ponds up on the mountains, and enjoyed looking down at the trees and snow.  (And the Olympic sliding center, as pictured below)

Afterwards, we took the train back again, and made friends with our train lady.  We wanted to move to the other side where the better view would be, because we were on the wrong side on the way up too.  So we tried to switch seats, and asked her, and she apparently had promised the second row to a family, but let us sit in the first row, which meant she chatted with us, sharing funny stories and sassy remarks, and trying to help us make our travel plans for our last day in Vancouver.  It was a beautiful ride back, and we said a tearful goodbye to our new friend.  I don’t have any pictures from the return trip (since they would have looked surprising similar to the pictures from the way there) and I never thought I would say this – but it was actually enjoyable to put my camera down and take a break from the photography…

After hopelessly meandering Vancouver, looking for something that would be open for dinner on a Sunday night, we ended up in a restaurant across from our hotel, sitting on the bar side so we could catch the baseball highlights (and eventually watch bowling).  Our waitress was adorable and told us a great story from the Olympics.  She said that a family came in all wearing the same shirts, so she asked if they had been at an event together.  They said they’d come from curling, and she asked how it was, to which they responded “it is curling – how do you THINK it was??”  and they talked about how boring curling was, egging on the waitress to agree with them.  As soon as she finally said something about “yeah, I guess on tv I don’t really understand it, it isn’t very exciting to watch” then they fessed up that they love the sport, one of the guys was on the Canadian curling team, and went on to win gold!   She was mortified, but they wouldn’t let her change her statement – they all thought it was really funny, but she was super embarrassed, and would see him on tv all the time after that… awesome.

Whistler: a magical little village

I am fairly certain that Whistler is a charming village that was built by elves in Switzerland and sprinkled with pixie dust.

It is seriously so adorable – chalet-style architecture everywhere, nestled in the mountains, brick pedestrian only streets, and people with fun accents and tiny dogs everywhere.

I mean – how does it get better than dinner at The Little Eatery on Celebration Plaza:

With THIS view:

So many people tend to wander the streets dressed up in ridiculous costumes

(or wearing their hotel bathrobe)

that now I am starting to think that I am seeing costumed street performers everywhere.  But I am not.

We got up in the morning on our second day and went on the zipline!  It is probably one of my favorite life experiences – just below climbing a volcano and snorkeling.  I am really glad that Rachel had a great time as well!  She was real nervous.  But she did GREAT!  I was going to put up a video, but my blog and I are in a fight, so maybe we will go with a photo instead.

We also went up the ski lift to take the gondola from Blackcomb Mountain to Whistler mountain!  It was awesome.  People were very friendly in the chairs going the opposite direction.  One guy even proposed – to which I quickly said “yes” before my sister could snatch up this winner for herself.  The view at the top of the mountain was breathtaking.  The ride between the mountains was amazing, and the view on the next mountain was also surreal.  It was also a little bit cold.  We may or may not have been dressed for the weather at the top of the mountain.  It is hard to say.

On our way down in the little gondola, we were with a nice couple from Tennessee, and chatting about how we were both disappointed to have not seen any bears yet.  I was little mid-saying how I am so bad at spotting things that I could be staring right at a bear and not even notice, when we realized that we were actually looking right AT a bear down below us!  SUPER fun.

We also had the best ice cream in the world after dinner tonight.  (or at least that is what the sign told us).  Just a few more Whistler adventures in the morning tomorrow and then it is back to Vancouver to wrap up our vacation.

i lost my TRAIN of thought…

get it?? train?  bahahahahaha

So I forgot to include the important detail that there was an Australian tour group on our train ride and one of the lady was demonstrating for the tourguide how to call COOEE when you are lost in the Outback and then someone will come help you.  She mentioned that she sometimes calls it in other places and then knows if there are any other Australians in the area.

I have been taking advantage of this “Australian call” and using it to find and befriend Aussies in Whistler.  Which is going pretty well for me, since about 50% of the locals are from Australia.

Choo-Choo!

We took a train from Vancouver to Whistler.  I was very excited for this new mode of transportation on our trip, and rightfully so!  We got picked up from the lobby of our hotel (where favorite Shuttle Man was sure to say goodbye to “Minnesota” -as he called us- he will miss us).

We boarded the train, found our plush seats with ample leg room, and settled in the the ride.  We got breakfast and as many beverages as we wanted!!  I used considerable restraint though and limited myself to one cup of coffee and one diet coke.

The views were incredible the whole way.  From the Howe Sound, to waterfalls, rapids, flowers, and of course, the mountains.

One of my favorite places on the train was the Historic Open Air Car.  I love history, and I love air, so: win-win!

It was really great to be able to take pictures of the beauty surrounding us without the irritating glare of the windows.  With no effort on our part, we quickly made friends with the Train Man, Richard.  He wore an orange reflective vest, and stopped by our seats multiple times to tell me some photography tips – like going to the back of the train to get a great shot of us coming out of the tunnel, or that we should go claim a spot on the left side of the open air car because there was a gorgeous view coming up.  After like the seventh time (that might be an exaggeration) Train Man stopped by, an older lady across the aisle from us leaned over and whispered to my sister something about how it is nice to be a pretty young lady and we should take advantage of that for as long as possible.  hahaha.  awesome.

We were greeted in Whistler by looking up into the mountains and seeing the green Olympic rings!  It was pretty cool to see, because I guy I know from church growing up worked here in the winter and I saw pictures on his facebook of him helping put up some green Olympic rings.

Anyways, here are a few gorgeous train shots for you to enjoy.  I won’t share too many so that I’ll have something left to post on facebook when I get back to the states!

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