Another year older

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Today was my 39th birthday, just a whisper away from 40. I don’t really think about how old I am until my birthday rolls around. In fact, when someone asks my age, I usually have to think about it. I figure, if you don’t act your age and you don’t feel as old as you are, then it doesn’t matter. That’s this year’s theory anyway, we’ll see what happens next year when I’m staring down the barrel of a whole new decade.

My work life has been crazy busy, trying to launch three new websites, but my co-workers were still able to find time to make a fuss over me. They decorated my office with this creepy balloon:

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and these pretty flowers (both of which were photographed in my dining room, because I didn’t think to bring my camera to work)

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They also bought lunch and had a little sundae party for me in the afternoon. Quite an impressive amount of fuss, to be sure. Then when I got home, T picked up the birthday baton and ran with it. When I opened his present, I was presented with this:

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The box is from a Tazo tea display he’d gotten from work, and when I opened the little presents, each was a playing card with a post-it note giving me a clue of where to look for my present. This is the whole group:

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So, as I looked around the house for my present, T followed me around looking smug/sinister:

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Finally, I found the correct clue and uncovered two awesome posters that I’d seen in a shop down the street from our house. They’re basically typographic maps of cities and he’d selected my two favorites: Brooklyn & Seattle. Here Smokey Joe is doing his best Vanna White. (Unfortunately, he sucks at it… )

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Cool, right? After all of the present opening, it was time to meet up with M and J for some dinner at one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants La Carta Oaxaca. It’s quite a testament to our friendship that M was willing to put aside her dislike of mexican food to celebrate my birthday, a fact I certainly appreciate. We started off with some delicious margaritas while we waited for a patio table to open up, since it was a gorgeous evening.

I ordinarily don’t like to be one of those people snapping pictures in restaurants, but tonight I made an exception. (I blame the margarita) Here’s M being silly:

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and cute, while T picks up the silly…

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And here’s T, drinking my “pink margarita” after disparaging it:

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And a few shots of J & M, please note the couple behind them who were engaged in a fight on what turned out to be his birthday. (I didn’t hear about this until they’d left. My favorite quote: “I hear that, BUT… “)

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One of the perks of hanging out with a talented photographer type is that you get super-awesome pictures to put on your blog. Here’s M’s picture of my margarita and appetizer:

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And a shot of me:

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The food was delicious, as always. I had the chicken mole, which was superb:

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And I loved the final bill, it really says it all, doesn’t it?

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After dinner, we stopped off to grab some more food for M, since she didn’t really like her dinner. While we were waiting, she snapped these pics of T & I goofing around:

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What can I say, we’re silly people. We finished the evening with cupcakes and RockBand. All in all, it was an awesome birthday and a fabulous way to kick off my 39th year.

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Goodbye, Gunn Ranch

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We couldn’t think of a better way to bid adieu to the ranch than a little run down the dirt road. M had orchestrated this excellent plan that we’d run down the hill and then get someone to come pick us up, so we didn’t have to run back up. Bryan graciously agreed to be our sherpa and a group of us headed out. It’s still hard for this city girl to wrap her mind around this long expanse of empty dirt road:

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We started all together, but eventually everyone found their pace: Jennifer way out front, Heather & Timmion running together, and M & I ran together. I had to stop and take a picture of the view:

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But eventually we got down to business and finished our run. It was a nice gradual downhill, so it felt nice and easy. At the end, we had to stop and take pictures. Here’s M, looking fierce:

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And me, goofing around:

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And being a little less silly…

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We finished our run and Bryan picked us up right on schedule. After a flurry of breakfast eating, showering and packing up, people started heading out. M & I managed to cram all of our crap into the car and hit the road around noon with the plan to poke around in Winthrop before we hit the road. And boy, was I glad we did because Winthrop is a gold-mine of amusing photo opportunities, starting with this guy:

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Winthrop is a really cute little town that has all of these Western facades on all of the buildings:

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We stopped to have our fortunes told by this ol’ miner:

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We found this great gift shop that we knew was awesome from the first sight of this awesome cross-eyed cougar:

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I mean, there was some spectacular merchandise to be had:

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I also really enjoyed this mural:

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After our tour of historic Winthrop, we headed for home. We’d mapped out a different route home, so that we could take in some new scenery. For the most part, it was very pleasant but unexpectedly we hit some traffic. Really baffling traffic, we’d sit without moving for 15-20 minutes and then it would be totally gone. Rinse and repeat. After an hour or so of this, punchiness set in and we started taking pictures of some of the amusing things we’d see from the car window. Here are the highlights, hillbillies burning trash in an oil barrel:

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Sunbleached nativity scene:

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And this weird town where two different churches had been converted into hippie shops:

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But eventually traffic lightened and we made our way home, to regale the husbands with our adventures. Excellent Memorial Day weekend, many thanks to Erin & Timmion for inviting us.

The big swim

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Sunday’s plans called for some swim action. We’d gotten a lake recommendation from one of Erin’s friends who’d joined us for dinner the night before, so we headed for Lake Patterson, about five miles away. Usually my Memorial Day weekend swims are just me or if I’m lucky, me and T, so it was really nice to have a big group to swim with. Plus, this was M’s first open water swim practice, so it was exciting to be a part of that and I was glad that she had other people in the water, so it wasn’t just two freaks in wetsuits amidst all of the fishermen. 😉

The lake was really nice, with no jet skis or motorboats, just some kayakers and a few fishermen:

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Timmion had a long-sleeved wetsuit that she was planning to sell on Craigslist, but which fit M perfectly. Plus, she looks disgustingly awesome in it:

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It was very good that she had the long-sleeved wetsuit, because that water was COLD! Here’s M & I, freezing in the lake:

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My mission for M was to just get comfortable being in the lake, in the wetsuit and not worry about how much/how fast/how far she was swimming. So, after spending a little time with her and making sure she was okay, I set off to swim for the other side and imagine my surprise when, a far ways from shore, I looked up to see M waiting for me so that she could swim in with me, which was pretty impressive. She did awesome, and I was very proud of her.

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After our swim, some of us headed back into town and a group of us headed for the Sun Mountain Lodge for a little lunch. The lodge is pretty and overlooks the lake and valley. There was some “interesting” decor in the lodge, including this hallway of horror:

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and this wild turkey:

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Erin & David were kind enough to pose in front of the boar and javelina section:

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But my very favorite was this giant stuffed bison by the front door:

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After our lovely lunch, we headed home. I still had another bike ride and a short run on my schedule, as did M so we hatched an elaborate plan for her to meet up with me at the end of my ride, then we would ride together for the length of her ride and then run together. Erin, Timmion and I were planning to ride together on the same route that David & I had done the day before, so I figured I’d just turn back a little early and meet up with M.

The first part of the plan went fine, we headed out and I tried to keep up with Erin & Timmion, but my legs were really feeling the previous days ride. But I hung in there and we had a nice ride together and everyone agreed that it was a beautiful ride. Eventually, I had to turn back to meet M and they kept going. M and I were having a nice ride when we happened upon a familiar duo on the side of the road. Turned out Erin had a flat, but had a tube and was masterfully changing it, so after stopping briefly, we kept on.

We hit our turnaround point and headed back to the car. After a little while we noticed a familiar figure walking along the road. Poor Erin had gotten ANOTHER flat and because she had smaller wheels on her bike than I do, my spare would do her no good. Timmion had ridden ahead to her car, but it was much further away than M’s, so M and I hurried back to her car to rescue Erin. It was quite a comedy of errors as we tried to get Erin’s bike onto my rack (it wouldn’t fit) and then stuffed it into M’s backseat with Erin. Then hurried back to try to intercept Timmion. Our timing was impeccible, we caught up with Timmion just as she was leaving the parking lot. So, the run was cancelled in favor of a rescue effort, but it was a worthy cause.

Our final evening was filled with delicious food, good wine, some spirited bouts of Apples to Apples and CatchPhrase and was a great way to end such a wonderful weekend.

Adventures in reptiles

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This is an addendum to yesterday’s post and I can’t believe I forgot to write about it. After getting back from our ride, while hanging out in the breakfast nook with a group of other girls, one of the girls looked out onto the back porch and noticed that Timmion was in trouble. Which turned out to be a great big RATTLESNAKE!!! It turns out that she stepped off the porch over where the snake was sunning himself. (shudder)

A rescue effort was launched and once helping Timmion get to safety, M got this unbelievable shot of the scary creature:

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(Yours truly wasn’t going anywhere near it, to take a picture or otherwise… ) David eventually flung the snake into the grass with a stick (and a really impressive Crocodile Hunter accent.) As you might imagine, everyone was decidedly more careful when walking around outside…

Dinner and a hoedown, what more could you want?

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When we got back from our ride, I found that M had been drafted into the kitchen corps:

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She was heading up the making of the pizzas:

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Including this beauty:

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(Asparagus, pototoes and goat cheese, oh yeah!) Plus you’ve got to love coming back from a tough ride to have someone give you lovely fruit & yogurt to snack on while a delicious dinner is being made. Nothing wrong with that! Greta supervised the goings-on from the couch:

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While Tyr helped her mom in the kitchen:

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After another delicious dinner, it was time to head into Winthrop for a hoedown. (Yes, you read that correctly… ) Despite growing up in hillbilly town, I’d managed never to attend a hoedown, despite the many jokes I’ve made about them over the years. The hoedown even took place in a barn:

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Inside was an interesting blend of cowboys, hippies and lesbians. Winthrop has a very interesting demographic. But the one thing that brought them all together, crazy dancing:

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There was one gentleman that was very prominently twirling his partners around the dance floor, doing some sort of cowboy version of the West Coast swing, which involved practically twisting his partner’s arms off their bodies. It turned out he was a dance instructor and this was his lame way of drumming up business. He managed to persuade Heather to join him. She insisted it was fun, but it looked far more painful than fun to me.

All in all, my first hoedown was really fun. The band was pretty good and the people watching was amazing. Two thumbs up!

Gunn Ranch – day one

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We were up pretty early in the morning. During the night, our last arrivals Jenn & Bryan, (plus their dogs Greta and Tyr) had arrived, so we had beautiful dogs to meet. (Photo taken later in the day, they were much more awake when we first met them, but just as adorable… )

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Most of the group was headed into town to take part in a local 5/10k, but M & I had opted out, choosing to do our run on the dirt road outside the ranch. I mean, how can you resist this:

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M was raring to go:

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Because of all of the warnings about snakes in the house’s guest-info booklet, M and I stuck to the middle of the road and kept a vigilant eye out for snakes. The road was pretty much non-stop up for the whole way, but the view was worth it:

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M shot this picture of me before the turnaround point:

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When we got back to the house, the others still weren’t back. Jenn had left some cinnamon rolls that just needed to be put into the oven, so we decided to get those started. And holy crap, they were AMAZING!!!

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M, who doesn’t like cinnamon rolls, licked her plate clean:

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It took a little while, but people started getting back to the house. There was a sizable difference between the arrival times of group one & group two, which turned out to be because Timmion had won her age group in the 5k:

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She got a really cool ceramic mug as a prize, which we were all pretty jealous of. Next year, look out Mazama 5k! After a bit of hanging out, we started to get organized for the next round of activities.

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I had a 3-hour ride on my schedule, which David offered to do with me. M & Timmion were going to do a shorter ride and scope out a nearby state park for swimming possibilities. Here’s M being a badass cyclist:

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The route David & I took was a little different than we’d originally planned, but it turned out to be beautiful. A quiet state road along a river, one of the more beautiful rides I’ve done in a while. I spent most of the ride out thinking that my legs were totally dead and that I was the slowest cyclist ever. I’d wanted to do a 45 mile ride in the time frame, and the road ended at exactly 22.5 miles. but we had done the first leg in about an hour and 50 minutes. Gulp. But at the turnaround, I did get a chance to snap a few pictures:

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Gorgeous! And the best part is that after we turned around, it turned out we’d been doing a ton of climbing. I don’t think I even had to pedal for the first 7 miles, it was glorious. We had some pick-up trucks hooting and hollering at us, but by and large the road was empty and the riding was fine.

Arrival at the Gunn Ranch

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After our adventures in driving, which included a lengthy drive on some remote dirt roads, we arrived at the Gunn Ranch. The scenery was spectacular and the house itself was amazing:

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Inside was comfortable and lovely, with all sorts of really amazing photos of the owners’ travels and adventures. There were all sorts of sweet little touches:

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There was a really cool breakfast nook:

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And an awesome back porch, complete with dinner bell:

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And these awesome “Princess Bride” paintings:

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M was in photog heaven, snapping photos in every direction, so I decided to turn the tables on her:

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Before long, everyone had arrived and food preparation/hanging out ensued:

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Erin & David brought their “his & hers” blenders for margaritas:

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A bit later, one of the blenders was running on it’s own. So, we pronounced it haunted and Erin was in charge of exorcising it. (Too many margaritas? Perhaps… )

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The food was fantastic all weekend, so you can look forward to hearing more about that, but dinner of fish/veggie tacos was awesome. This was shaping up to be a pretty amazing weekend…