This is how Elka asks for dinner. She lifts her paws into your hands and looks at you and says with her eyes – I’m hungry. Please feed me. It is 6:02 pm and you are late.
The past few weeks, despite the parties and the fun on this blog, I’ve been heartbroken in 10,000 ways. Well maybe not quite 10,000. But at least 1,000. The light and the dark are two sides of the same coin. To combat the heartbrokenness, I’ve been having Elka sleep in bed next to me (though we carefully trained her to sleep in her donut bed on the floor next to our bed for over a year), between me and my husband, tucked in like a live stuffed animal who soothes me with her steady breathing, her sighs of contentment and her intermittent dreams where all her limbs shake and tremble trying to catch the imaginary neighborhood squirrel.
I just finished the audiobook of the poet Maggie Smith who talks about her disintegrating marriage – the dissolution which started (kind of) when the following poem went viral.
I had lunch with Rachel and Pat yesterday. We had a whole fried flounder.
Rachel told me that her hospital was piloting virtual nursing. What is a virtual nurse? It’s a nurse that “knocks” and appears on an enormous screen in your hospital room. They’ll do all the admissions / pre surgical / questionnaire / discharge paperwork. They will also do the hourly rounding where they check in on you every 1-2 hours. Then the regular floor nurse has their workload increased to 6 patients. SIX! Unbelievable. Try really hard to not get sick because everyone working at a hospital is very, very tired.
We had a date weekend to NYC, just me and Jeremy. Sumit had invited us to his 50th birthday party and it was going to be extravagant and we wanted to go and also see some friends from grad school. Lots of thanks to Ginny who cared for Edda this weekend and her son Seni who cared for Elka this weekend to allow us to go without worrying.
We left at about 3 pm on Friday afternoon, headed to Philly to spend the night with Bob and Katherine. It was nice to see them at their home with some late season native flowers blooming.
We had do so some car things, we sold our Civic to their community and we needed to snag the tags and transfer the title and such things. We also got to try out Bob and Katherine’s new Tesla. Jeremy and I have never been in a Tesla, though our street is rapidly becoming populated with them. So we were both eager to try out the car. The car is only about three weeks old, but when it was parked somewhere, someone sideswiped the bumper and scuffed the paint of on the corner of the car. At first, we thought that no one had left a note, and we were trying to figure out if one of the many cameras on the car had videoed the accident, but then we finally found the note tucked in deep under the windshield wipers which are not easily visible. The car is a lot of fun and I’m eagerly awaiting getting it or something like it – we are saving up for it.
We drove up to NYC on Saturday morning getting there by noon and met up with Dave who flew in earlier in the week and is staying with his sister. It was raining for most of the day – we went to the Tenement Museum (really interesting) for a 3:45 tour and walked around the neighborhood killing time before then which included snapping this photo in front of the Supreme store to send to Vince. (there was a line, we didn’t go in – NYC is full of lines and we did not go into any store/restaurant that had them).
We took a cab to the museum, but we hopped on the subway for the return trip back to our hotel. I love these tile mosaics.
We stayed at Pod51 which is like an upgraded hostel. Notice the bunk bed which features prominently later in the story. I’m a goofball and I still like these things, though I probably should be smarter and spend the extra $100 for a regular hotel room – even though it had a hostel vibe, it still wasn’t super cheap or anything. Dave and I and Jeremy hung out until the party which started at 7:30 and the texts we had received during the day told us to be there on time.
The backstory is that we met Sumit at Caltech in graduate school. At Caltech, he set us up on our first date. Our core group of friends would go see movies on Thursday nights and on a particular Thursday night, he called all our friends and told them not to go to the movies so that Jeremy and I would inadvertently go alone. But Dave didn’t get the message, so he was there on our first date. These are the main players of our early dating lives.
Sumit came to Caltech with very simple desires, he wanted to get rich, he wanted to buy a Corvette and he wanted to be Michael Jackson. We all hunted around to find him a jacket with all the zippers and he happily wore it around campus. He did not get a PhD at Caltech, rather he left with a masters and later went on to Harvard Business School. He has made good on his promise to himself and is now extremely wealthy, so what follows is a milestone party of the 1% in NYC. We had a fabulous time, but from Dave’s sister’s NYC estimate (she is finance-adjacent where she manages the 1%’s personal investment portfolios), it was about a half million dollar party. It was held in an event space at the Seagram Building.
We had only an inkling of what was to transpire at this party and it revealed itself slowly as the night went on. There were many hired acts including: a live jazz band, a magician, people dressed as plants who would tell you that you were amazing, an electric violinist, beautiful women in LED wings, or feathers, or dessert plates, a pair of silk ribbon acrobats, Apache Indian rapper (this was my favorite act where I danced a lot), and the cast of the Michael Jackson broadway show (who danced with all of us on the dance floor – professional dancers are a lot of fun to dance with – this is not surprising).
It was both amazing and dizzying the amount of money spent. Like every 30 minutes, a year of Vince’s college expenses rolled on by. We stayed up until about 12:15 and headed back to the hotel to sleep.
In the morning, though careful, I managed to fall out of the top bunk and hit my head on the floor. I got a bit dizzy and could feel a big goose egg forming on my skull. Honestly, this is what happens when you hit your head: you know you should go to the hospital, but mainly, you know you probably are going to be OK and if you go to the hospital, it’s going to take half the day. But I thought about what I would have wanted Vince to do, which was to go to the hospital, so we walked the 1 mile to the nearest ER at 7am. Jeremy’s like we are right be NY Presbyterian and I said – that’s perfectly fine and he said, but the ER got only 2 out of 5 stars on google and I said, they also misdiagnosed Edda all those years ago with cerebral palsy, so what could go wrong? so I we headed there.
I ended up getting a CT scan which said my head was fine and it was interesting to see the inside of a NYC ER. I saw a very tired intern who didn’t know his way to the CT scan room. There was the little old lady who was hard of hearing, there was the drug seeking frequent flyer, etc – all familiar things, but the people there seemed to enjoy working with each other and had the collegial banter that comes from working closely together in stressful situations. Jeremy asked if I miss being a nurse and I said, of course I miss it. Sometimes when I’m working as a patent examiner or any of my other engineer jobs, one can feel like you aren’t doing anything to help mankind. It all moves slowly or the project gets scrapped or you get pushed aside from the important project, but as a nurse, everyday, you know that you are helping people and helping your team. Like, if you weren’t there that day, people would miss you immediately and things would not get done.
Also, I have a very low resting heart rate because I run a lot, the ER doc said we need to do an EKG and I was like – but I’m always like this because of the running and he would not take no for an answer, so I had to wait for the EKG to be run. If I had known where the machine was, I could have run it myself, but Jeremy reminded me that I don’t have a staff login to scan into the machine. My heart looks great with a resting heart rate of 43.
We were supposed to spend the morning, not in the ER, rather with Dave, but instead, we met up for lunch and headed to Times square where Sumit had bought Broadway tickets for the out-of-town guests for the new musical Back to the Future which was the movie that inspired Sumit to come to the US. We finally had a moment to talk to some of Sumit’s friends before we went into the theatre. One would have thought we would have talked to them at the party, but the actual party was very, very loud. So we talked with no one which is how these parties often go.
After the Sunday matinee, we needed to head home to get back to Ginny/Edda/Seni and Elka. Dave stayed on for the evening drinks at a rooftop bar and sent us lovely sunset photos. On the way back to get our car, Jeremy took this photo of me under a little turnip sign. Cute. Time to go home.
Edda got sick last Thursday/Friday and stayed home from school (Jeremy came home Thursday early evening). The weekend was quiet – Edda was sick on Saturday- I think both of us worked a bit and puttered around a bit. I’ve been going through Mike’s house, decluttering and going to the dump and cleaning up a bit. My house feels extra messy because I’ve hauled a lot of the misc stuff into the house and giving it away (I love our Buy Nothing group – almost all the things I think are “still good” find homes very quickly and they come to the door to pick up the stuff I leave on the porch). But there is also a lot of trash that needs to be taken to the dump. And the grass is still growing! I just mowed the lawns today. It’s Oct, the grass should not be growing anymore. Sigh.
Elka has been taking care of me many nights. She’s often tucked in next to me.
I went for a long run on Sunday through the woods. A lot of fun. A lot of mountain bikers – I started late (for me). Mountain bikers tend to start at 9 am. We also saw Jane at Sunday night dinner which was fun, we got to hear about her job and her life in Indy.
Jeremy left for Chicago on Tuesday and will be back late tonight. Aghhh. So many business trips, I feel like we are not yet settled back at home.
Teambuilding! Rowing on the Charles. Did they end up working together well? Haha. Maybe.
There was also bowling in Somerville – which we used to call Slum-erville, but which probably now has million dollar houses and craft beer/bowling venues.
I’m here holding down the fort which has been OK. There is a bunch of little things to do since we’ve been gone for six weeks. One of which is moving my plants from the porch back into the house. My fiddle leaf fig, the most tempermental of my plants, flourished when I was gone in the 95 degree heat and constant rain. I brought it inside under my single grow light in hopes that it’ll last the winter. We’ll see.
This is what the minivan was holding. Besides the dog and three people – there is a bike, three full sized computer monitors, a guitar, a sleeping “crib” for Edda, etc. etc. We are not light travellers.
Sunday night, we hosted family dinner (takeout) because Bob and Katherine were in town to trade cars (long & boring story…).
On Monday morning, Bob and Katherine drove off with our civic and we got their accord in return. Bye, bye civic! You’ve been good to us. And also in a lot of fender benders (I think 5 at least – that rear bumper has been replaced many many times. one time, it got dented enough (like the size of a canteloupe) and we didn’t even notice for months).
Then 5 hours later, Jeremy flew to Boston for a work conference. I asked him over the weekend if it was an internal business trip (are you going to sing kumbaya?)or external business trip. He said internal and so I did not cut his hair and nor did he shave his vacation beard. He looked like Doc from Back to the Future.
Lots of photos of Sam Adams.
OK, there are still people out there doing this – for this internal business retreat, daily covid testing. Negative!
We made it to Indianapolis on Thursday night. We stayed in kind of the suburbs of Indy as we wanted a hotel close to Jane – we were hoping to have dinner with her, but she was working late so that didn’t happen. This hotel was a Choice Hotel(TM) and literally was minutes from an REI and Whole Foods, but was easily the worst hotel we stayed at – Jeremy did a fantastic job of booking the hotels on this trip – a mix of high end hotels, airbnbs, cheap motels, etc., but we were not sure if this hotel was even clean. It smelled bad. I may have wondered if a small bug I found was a bedbug. But we stayed the night and learned a lesson. The main thing is the pet fee of hotels, they range in price from like $10-$75. So if we get a room that is, let’s say, $90, it usually comes with a $20 pet fee – so that’s about $100. But if we want a room for $170, the pet fee is usually $75 dollars, which brings it close to $300. So, you know, it’s impossible to pay like $200 for a room. Anyways, this hotel was close to lots of nice nature: a loop around a lake:
Ten minutes from a beautiful mountain bike loop (available for runners too), beautifully and lovingly maintained by a local club.
Friday morning we drove to Columbus to spend the night with Paul (my running coach). We dropped Elka off at a dog sitter for the night because even though this doggie appears friendly in this picture (he is very friendly to people), he does not like dogs, esp at his house. Elka (via rover.com) found a very gay, very tattooed man who lived in an apartment in a very hip part of town to spend the night with. This dog sitter was a financial analyst for Abercrombie and Fitch which is headquartered in Columbus – strange, huh?
We left Columbus at about 9:30 am on Saturday and booked it back home. We stopped only to pee and to buy gas (and coffee?). We did not stop for lunch – we had handfuls of peanuts, we were so eager to get home. And we got home about 4 pm on Saturday. The trip odometer read almost 9300 miles.
Elka was thrilled! We gave her a care bear stuffed animal to celebrate. Elka is generally a relaxed dog, but we did see some anxiousness while we traveled – she did not like it when we were apart from each other. Like if one of us left for a run or we all left her for dinner. I’m sure she was happy to be home.
This was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken – thank you to Jeremy who took care of all the logistics, the booking of rooms, the planning of the itinerary, the mapping of the route, the driving (!) (I did only 2-3 hours of highway driving the entire time). He packed and unpacked the van everyday. I could not have celebrated our 25 years of marriage in any better way. I loved everything about this trip and I love our life together and thank you for making it very interesting and unforgettable in our very boring ways. Others may go to Paris and have fine wine, but we go to Laramie, Wyoming and have pizza (well we did go to Napa, so there is that, but the Laramie meal was better…). With love, always.
On Sunday, we drove to Estes Park Colorado where we were planning on going biking and running. We spent our honeymoon in Estes Park 25 years ago and returned to celebrate. I do love this park, I love it that we usually see it not at the height of tourist season, but on the shoulder seasons and we spent the most time in the park on a Monday. Still lively, but not extremely crowded. The most crowded part of the park was still crowded, but we avoided that area and did our own thing. We did need to get a timed entry for Estes Park which we got the night before.
I went running in the morning on a trail slightly outside the park as our timed entry was for between 9 am and 11 am.
Because only cars need a timed entry, Jeremy rode in on his bike at about 8:30 am and was set to do the Trail Ridge road ride to the top. This is a two lane road through the park that is closed in the winter because it becomes impassable with snow. Now I usually have nothing to do with Jeremy’s rides, but this time, I was his soigneur, I was going to drive up to the top of the ride and give him a ride down the mountain. So Edda and I sat around the hotel watching TV and eating breakfast until about 10 am when I loaded Edda up into the van and we drove to the ranger station at the top of Trail Ridge road.
It took me a FULL hour to drive up this road. Sixty minutes of steady, windy, scary cliff gas-powered climbing. I actually could not believe that Jeremy was climbing this hill powered by only his body. My husband is crazy. Sometimes it felt like I was driving straight up into the sky. I passed him when I was only about 6 minutes from the top and Edda and I waited in the car for him to reach us. He pulled in a few minutes later and I gave him a high five and told him he was unbelievable and a beast. While we were putting his bike into his car, a couple from Switzerland who were riding a motorcycle and had traded places with Jeremy a few times because they stopped along the way to do sightseeing pulled up to us and gave Jeremy a fist bump and told him they were relieved to see that he had someone driving the way down. It was cold and windy above the tree line and it’s OK to do when you are warm from exertion, but it is another matter when you are downhill and chilled from your sweat and no exertion and trying to not go too fast.
Here were were at the tippy top.
On the way down, we drove to see the Cascade Cottages that we rented when we were on our honeymoon – it was privately owned back then. I know that they are closed now and owned by the park service. They seemed not in regular use, but as I was walking around, I met a nice woman whose husband’s family owns the last privately owned house in the park. We chatted a while about her experience at the park over the generations of her family.
We also found out it was elk rutting season, so we did see elk (mostly outside the park) and did see some male elk bray and chase after a female.
Monday afternoon we made it to the lovely Estes Park dog park and hung out here for a while.
That night, we went to the Stanley hotel (famous for its association with the Shining) where they had a fried chicken restaurant. This is where I cried uncle for eating out. This is the day I decided that I could only eat so much random crap on vacation – I ordered the vegan entree (delicious) and I’ve been trying to eat better since then.
Tuesday morning, Jeremy stayed back and managed Edda’s breakfast and packing up and I drove to another entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. Because timed entry only starts at 9 am, I was determined to get there early and I did get there at about 7 am and I was greeted with an almost deserted entrance – no ranger, a long dirt road with no cars and lots of parking. I wanted to run along the wild basin trail which intersects with many waterfalls. This was a glorious run, pictures do not do it justice.
On Tuesday, we drove to Topeka which was a long-ish drive and made it to Mike and Sofie’s new house Tuesday night. They are still just moving in, so we settled in for the night and on Wednesday, I asked if we could help with the house and so we installed their new washer/dryer. And we ran the inaugural load! It is a washer/ventless drying combination – all in one machine. Sofie has a tough time remembering to move the wash to the dryer, so the solves the problem. It does take about 3.5 hours, the best case scenario is to load it when you go to sleep and awaken to clean, dry laundry.
Sofie, Mike and I went shopping. These shoes are super popular in Topeka, but I’ve never seen them before and neither has Vince. I wonder if their popularity will spread to the coasts. Sofie says – everyone wears them.
Me and Sofie.
On Thursday we drove to Indianapolis in the hopes of seeing Jane, but she was working late. We stopped off in a cute suburb of St. Louis for lunch at this amazing place called the Bike Stop Cafe. Lots of bikers on the Katy trail and they had a bike repair shop and rentals and some merch. The food was good and the seats were shaded.
And they were setting up an Octoberfest in the park and we walked and took some photos together. These are such good photos of Edda smiling. I might just have to print them and get them framed.
Leaving Washougal, we headed to Boise we arrived into town at about 4:30 pm and I went out for a run along a beautiful greenway in Boise. It was shaded and the run was delightful even though it was 85 or 90 degrees outside. I came back to the hotel room to find the rest of our party and we walked to Whole Foods and had dinner from the salad bar. Jeremy was a little bit hangry, so I declined taking a shower before heading out to dinner and on the way back, he took a photo which shows that really, I’ve had ice cream every day for 5 weeks. I’m a little bit round now. It’s OK. I’ll take care of it when I get home, I hope. It’s harder to shed a few ice cream pounds after menopause, so fingers crossed. Haha, I’ve been enjoying the ice cream. No regrets.
Boise was a pleasant surprise of a town …beautiful and lots of nice public green spaces.
The next morning, Jeremy biked up Bogus Basin, a ski resort mountain. And then we headed out of town towards Estes Park, Colorado.
A quick overnight stop at Rock Springs, Wy. Less than $85 for a roadside motel – including the dog fee. They had a dog run out back and also we had Jimmy Johns for dinner. I walked to the Walmart down the street to buy fingernail clippers. In the morning, we went to the local dog park and did a morning Edda lap around a pond. Our dog park adventures really depend on the presence of other dogs as Elka is very social. There was one other dog here where the owner tried to get us to drive south instead of east for better scenery (we did not take his suggested route – it would have added 3 hours to the already 5 hour drive). The owner and dog and Elka played fetch for a while – Elka was thrilled.
Then we stopped for lunch in Laramie, WY. First a stop at another dog park and this is the best dog park that we’ve been to – maybe except for the one near Berkeley. Lush grass, shade and other nice doggies. Also, the people were very friendly including a lady who worked at a group home managed by the ARC in Laramie.
A beautiful lunch in Laramie – I was very pleased with this meal. The internet is wonderful for finding this little local gems.