Tuesday, June 15, 2010

5/27/2010: Vacation Day 2 (Part 2)

5/27/2010: Vacation Day 2 (Portland, OR to Seattle, WA: Pine State Biscuits, Mount St. Helens, & Mt. Rainier)

From Mount St. Helens we went straight to Mount Rainier National Park, a.k.a. major mountain #2 of the day. Being the Type A personality that I am, I had the good sense to make sure all of the roads were going to be open before we left. And it's a good thing I did as only entrance road of the approximately five was open! So yay me for not making us drive around a big mountain for nothing.

We began the near waste of a trip at the Nisqually entrance. We were told at the entrance gate that the visibility at Paradise was negligible, but that we could kick around some snowballs if we wanted. Lovely. We expected that.

I must digress a bit here and talk about motion sickness. Although I am not as bad as a friend who literally gets motion sickness on elevators (no joke), I do tend to experience moderate to severe motion sickness on curvy roads. And I believe I may have had a touch of altitude sickness once, too. Dramamine only serves to make my very groggy, but does nothing for the dizzy/nausea feeling I experience. Although one or both of my parents think it's just a mental thing, I would like to point out to them that I remember distinctly being vomity sick at a very young age in the back of a van. A blue van. With my Computron. I decided that since there were three mountains on this trip and another road call the "Sea to Sky Highway" that sounded curvy, perhaps it was time to be proactive and try to prevent motion sickness from ruining entire chunks (no pun intended) of our vacation. So I got a prescription for Transderm Scōp. It's a little patch that sticks behind your ear for up to three days, delivering medicine through the skin. It helped a LOT! Instead of going each corner and experiencing increasingly more severe dizzy attacks, I went around each corner going, "Oh gosh...that makes me dizz....oh, it went away" each and every time. It was very nice. Until later. I'll get to that. Back to mountain #2.

On the drive up to Paradise, I saw an exit for Narada Falls and told Doug that I wanted to go there on the way back. Why not right then? Because we were running short on time for me to get my all-important cancellation stamp. Paradise was even colder than Mount St. Helens. It had to be around 30 degrees. Dummy #1 brought only a wind jacket and dummy #2 didn't bring a jacket at all. So we ran into the visitor center. At the gift center I bought a magnet and realized that there was a huge container full of snowshoes that people could rent. Weird/never thought about that one. I'm pretty sure that's an activity I should never partake in because I'm so clumsy. After we got out of the visitor center, it was clear that aside from the stamp, we felt like the drive was a bit of a waste of time because the fog was extremely thick and we couldn't see any portion of any mountain or even across the parking lot for that matter. So down the mountain we head.

About 2 blocks before the entrance to Narada Falls, we notice a car driving very slowly in front of us. In a National Park that usually means one thing- wildlife! Yes, indeed:


Notice all the snow in the background. This cutie Red Fox just stood there and stared at us. After a few moments and pictures, we drove off into the parking lot at Narada Falls. Cutie followed us into the parking lot and sat about 3 feet from the car, assuming what I can only imagine is the universal "give me food" face/stance:

05-27-2010MountRainierNationalParkE (cropped)

I figured that she would move after a few minutes of not receiving any food, but nope. Cutie continued to sit there. I wanted to get out of the car to see the waterfall we were at, but Doug insisted that getting out the car while a Red Fox was 3 feet away from the car was probably not a bright idea. *sigh* Fine. So Cutie was cute and all, but she prevented me from seeing a pretty waterfall.

This fox wasn't an isolated incident. We saw two more foxes on the way back out. Here's one of them:


We were at the park in the very early evening and so it's possible these foxes were quite hungry and just starting their day. Good call again, Doug.

After we left Mount Rainier, we made our way to a fast casual chain Doug wanted to try called Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Renton. Doug had hoped that Five Guys would be very similar to In-N-Out. Sadly, it was not. Even more sad is the fact that they placed the calorie count right on the menu (it must be a law in Washington or something because we encountered that more than once). I would have rather been completely unaware of the fact that the just ok tasting burger and fries was worth about 1.5 days worth of calories.

Somewhere in the middle of my burger, I noticed that my mouth was extremely dry. A kind of dry that my root beer couldn't keep up with. And why was I so itchy? And why did I suddenly feel like I NEEDED to go run or just move. And why was the sound of Doug's voice suddenly so grating for no apparent reason? All he's doing is singing along with the iPod music and asking where to turn. AAAARRRRRRGGGHHH!!!! I wanted to suddenly crawl out of my skin. I then remembered I was on a new medication. I checked the pamphlet and sure enough, most people experience dry mouth. I was also experiencing extreme restlessness. After the meal, I decided to remove the motion sickness patch. Doug's voice was much sweeter in the morning. I will use these patches in the future because being extremely irritable and having a severely dry mouth is still better than being groggy and sick in the back seat of a car.

After Five (Thousand Calories,) Guys, we headed straight for our hotel, Coast Bellevue Hotel. Despite what other Trip Advisor users had to say, we were very pleased with the hotel. Especially pleasing was the fact that it was only $40/night on Priceline. Yay!

Monday, June 14, 2010

5/27/2010: Vacation Day 2 (Part 1)

5/27/2010: Vacation Day 2 (Portland, OR to Seattle, WA: Pine State Biscuits, Mount St. Helens, & Mt. Rainier)

Left to my own structured (read: boring) devices on vacation, I would probably eat at whatever restaurant was next door to the hotel for most of my meals. In this case, that would have been IHOP. I suggest this to Doug so we can get an earlier, easier start to the day. His mouth said, "Let me see if I can find something else while you're in the shower." His body language said, "Come on, Rachel, we are not about to eat at IHOP on vacation. Have better taste than that!" He ended up proving, yet again, that he knows his food! Actually, he proved that he has great iPhone skills and that Guy Fieri knows his food because we ended up at a funky TINY place called Pine State Biscuits that was featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives (video of segment). Although the seating situation in the restaurant was a little daunting for newbies (room for MAYBE 16, some along a very thin bar against a wall), the taste and experience were great. I had The Reggie featured on their menu and Doug had just Biscuits & Gravy I think. Hands down, best biscuit I've ever had and I'm from the near-South!

After we had our morning fill of the native, dirty-looking...oh, sorry..."alternative/grunge" Portlanders, we headed out on I-5 to to our first of three mountains on this vacation: Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. I just wanted to just stop off at the visitor center 5 miles off of I-5, get my corny refrigerator magnet, and quickly move on to the second mountain of the day. I mean, the Johnson Ridge Observatory camera setup at the visitor center clearly showed that we wouldn't even get a clear view of Mount St. Helens due to dense fog, so what's the point, right? I would have been happy with just this view of the volcano (click on all of these to see more detail. Once you get to Flickr you'll then have to click on "All sizes above the picture itself):


Plus, the drive would add 100 extra miles. Once again, Doug proves he's the one with better judgment. That 50 mile drive is ridiculously beautiful with tons of cute waterfalls along the way. One tree caught our eye on the drive, the Noble Fir. The branches are splayed out in such as way that when many trees are grow together and one is driving, they look out of focus. It's difficult for me to put in words what I mean. Nor can I find any pictures of this effect.

Once we drove past the sign that said "Entering Volcanic Hazard Area" (scary!), the contrast between living and decimated forest was eerie. The death of the forest, almost exactly 30 years, is still very palpable.


When we got to the Johnston Ridge Observatory and stepped out of the car, Doug said, "oh man, it's chilleeee up here." It was probably 40 degrees at the observatory compared with the 60 degrees we had experienced just an hour earlier. I looked over and notice he's wearing SHORTS and a short-sleeved shirt. Silly boy. "Did someone forget that it gets cold on mountains?" I just got the shifty, sad boy look back at that one. After Doug changed clothes, we headed into the visitor center. We spent about 10 minutes in there. Eh, whatever. We then took a small loop trail that lead up a little higher in elevation. Here are some of the views from the trail (including the picture above):



And finally me in front of the beautiful volcano:


Well, sometimes ya get what ya get.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

5/26/2010: Vacation Day 1

(Warning: This only people who might find this interesting is my mom and dad. It's mainly written so I can remember the details of our awesome vacation in a few years when the memories have begun to fade.)

5/26/2010: Vacation Day 1 (Fly from Tulsa to Portland, OR)

This day doesn't really count because we got into Portland, OR at 23:00 (which is 01:00 Oklahoma time) and we were tired! We stayed at Aloft near the airport where I quickly discovered that the either the Pacific Northwest is really into the earth or the Starwood Hotel brand wants to pretend they are eco-friendly. This was the first hotel I have stayed at with a recycling bin. The hotel also had the option to decline maid service in exchange for $5 that could be used at their restaurant/snack bar if you stayed more than one night. Neat. I wanted to throw my panties that ripped on the plane trip in the recycle bin, but thought better of it. Actually, Doug told me it would be gross and in poor taste. That husband, always keepin' me in line.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My Life Story for Facebook

(Updated 10/15/2009)

Let's get you up to speed!

I was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas but moved to Glenpool, OK around the age of 2. I went to school at Glenpool all 13 years and graduated in 1999. It's scary that half of my friends on FB are people I only know from high school because I am definitely not the same person now as I was then. And no, the same cannot be said for everyone.

After high school, I spent my first 1.5 semesters at East Central University before becoming very ill in February 2000. I was eventually diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. I ended up dropping half of my classes that semester and came crawling back home to Mommy and Daddy. I've been well ever since then, thank you. After moving back home, I split my time between working at the corporate office for a local independent rural telephone company and taking the college courses I needed wherever they were offered for the cheapest price. Thus, I have attended Tulsa Community College and Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Muskogee, and Broken Arrow. I graduated summa cum laude in May 2003 with a major in Elementary Education and a minor in Psychology. It was not the experience I thought I was going to have both socially (mostly older people attend the night classes I took) and academically (the difficulty level was scarcely more than high school).

After college, I then moved to Houston, Texas, and taught third grade for a year in the Spring Branch ISD district. Aside from making some wonderful friends and getting my first dog, it was not a great year. And teaching was never my long term plan. So yet again, I came crawling back to my Tulsa roots. This time it wasn't with Mommy and Daddy. I took the same job I had while in college. I still work there doing mostly accounting/executive assistant things. And although it wasn't what I thought was planned at all, I really love my job.

As fate/God/the stars would have it, my brothers joined band in middle school. In May 2005, I went to their concert. Some guy I sorta kinda knew in high school was now the assistant director of the band. I ended up chatting with him for nearly 2 hours after the concert. One thing led to another and that guy is now my husband. Doug Reynolds and I were married Cinco de Mayo 2007. I'm quite lucky to have married a very sweet, supportive, loving, caring, smart, nice, and responsible husband who even came with a great set of parents! Who else out there can say they really love their in-laws?

In November 2008, we purchased out first house in Broken Arrow. It's an average house in an average neighborhood.

In April 2009, my mother suffered a relatively major health crisis. She suffered a minor stroke that was due to an 18mm congenital atrial septal defect. That's fancy talk for huge hole between upper chambers of her heart. The hole was repaired with a space-age device called an AMPLATZER Septal Occluder. Although the stroke left her with only 60% of her vision, you'd never know she had one. And because bad things come in threes, a large meningioma (benign brain tumor) was also discovered during this time. It is unclear right now if this will need to be removed with surgery.

I love babies, but we have no babies. We're not planning on having babies anytime soon. And just as much as I respect your decision to have however many children you want, I would appreciate your respect in our decision to remain childless at this time.

We have some big things coming down the pipes in a few years, but those will be revealed when the time is right.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Packing Light

I can pack all I need for a 9-day trip in one carry-on, but it turns out that doesn't make for an interesting post or pictures. The lighting in our room is horrible right now, so the pictures turned out equally as awful. I also didn't have time today at work to fully explain my reasons for wanting to accomplish this crazy thing. The basics are that you roll everything up to avoid wrinkles and take only what you need. Not what you might need. We'll see how well this avoids wrinkles. Yes, I know I'm nowhere near the Rick Steves "three changes of clothes that you wash in the hotel sink level", but one day I might be. Set here.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Whole Mommy Story, Part II

5/02/2009: Mommy got to go home today and slept a lot of the weekend.

5/05/2009: Mommy was originally scheduled for her ASD surgery at 11:00 today, but I just received an email from my dad that says there is now an opening at 10:00 today. Off I go to the hospital. I will be sending tweets from the hospital. I wonder why there would be a last minute opening at the cath lab. Did someone just die?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Whole Mommy Story, Part I

Life's funny. This past Sunday my biggest concern in life was devising a plan to keep our house in a relative state of clean just in case company dropped by. Monday's biggest concern was if my mother was going to live.

04/27/2009: I get a call from my dad around 10 am telling me that mom stood up at work, felt pain behind her ear, and lost a significant amount of her peripheral vision. Dad left work and drove my mom to St. John. At the ER, my dad was told my mother either had a migraine or a stroke. BIG difference there. Mom has a CT scan that revealed not a stroke (that bleeds into the brain), but a benign brain tumor of substantial size behind her eyes. Later in the afternoon, an MRI was performed which showed that, in addition to the meningioma, my mother did indeed suffer a stroke. Luckily, it has only affected her peripheral vision. It is unknown if she will regain more of her vision.

04/28/2009: My mother undergoes a transesophageal echocardiogram to determine the cause of the stroke. I receive a sad call from a heartbroken Daddy telling me that they found a hole in my mom's heart. And although it's been there since birth and my mother has had heart symptoms for a while (e.g., tires easily, intolerance to exercise), it was never caught by a doctor.

04/29/2009: My mother undergoes an angiogram to determine if there is blockage in her heart which would preclude her from having a less invasive heart surgery. Thankfully, there is no significant blockage. Dad is excited because this is the first good news we've heard so far. Another test was performed later to find out if there were clots lurking elsewhere in her extremities just waiting to cause another stroke. Thankfully, there are not.

04/30/2009: Heart surgery is scheduled for next Tuesday. This also happens to be my anniversary. It's undetermined if Mom will be able to go home over the weekend. A neurosurgeon says that, because her meningioma is large and will continue to grow, it must be removed. But that surgery will take place at least four months from now. Right now, we all feel really good about the odds of my mother living a normal life after this really safe surgery.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Road Trip!

What's Rachel and Doug been doing lately? Well, instead of finishing up trim painting and completing other much needed home decorating projects, we've been busy making reservations for our big road trip in July. We're beyond excited about spending the 4th of July in Washington DC! I know that once we get there we won't be as excited to due the patriotic crowds and intense heat. Here's our "crazy trip" so far.

We have something far more relaxing for next summer, but for now we've got to get Doug up to speed on the number of states he's traveled to.

All of this travel planning has me even more addicted to bidding for hotel rooms on Priceline. It's like a sad silly kind of game to me wherein I use travel message boards and create my own map to figure out the nicest place to stay for dirt cheap. It's not that we can't afford to pay full price, but why would you when you can pay $55 for a room that costs $179 for the regular crowd?

Thursday, January 29, 2009


I'm not sure how I let it happen, but I noticed that my movie list has been a draft in Blogger since last MAY! But here's what I've watched recently:

Planet Earth: Complete Series: Disc 2 (2006).

My Best Friend's Girl (2008) = 2/10. I seriously hated the ending. And most of the rest of the movie.

I am privileged to have the opportunity to talk to the wonderful and gracious president of the company where I work on a daily basis. Somehow during my 7 years of employment we have managed to form a food bond in the form of recipe exchanging. This woman KNOWS good food! However, she is very used to shopping at super fancy fine food markets and using upper-class ingredients than she sometimes forgets what we peons have to eat. And the foods we love.

Last week during one of our conversations she gave me a recipe. She said it was fabulous. But...

J: Here are the precise ingredients for this Mexican Lasagna. Now, the very first thing is calls for is a 15-17 oz. bag of, and I'll repeat it exactly as it was written, cheese-flavored corn chips.

Me: Uh huh. [pausing for a moment] You mean...like...Doritos?

J: Well now, Rachel, that is the ONLY thing I found in the entire store that really met that description.

It was hard to keep from laughing. But it is hard for me to imagine a world where the love Doritos is completely lost.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Never in my Wildest...

The two biggest things that happened to me in 2008:

*A person I saw quite often will be spending some time in jail this year.

*An ex-boyfriend that I dated nearly 1.5 years back in 1999-2000 was murdered. MURDERED! Do you know anyone personally who's been murdered? Granted, I hadn't spoke to Adam since we broke up, but still. It's all still extremely surreal. To top it all off, I found out on my birthday.

Predictions/wishes for 2009:

*Rachel and Doug venture out of the USA Proper.

*In December we will still be painting some portion of our new house, probably trim.

*A smaller everything. I recently bought a treadmill that I love and am excited about. OK, mostly I'm just excited that I no longer have to worry about farting while running.

*Participation in the Tulsa Run this year. (Anyone want to join me?)

*One of my brothers finally scores higher on the ACT than me.

*We acquire a new dog. Doug wants one.

*Doug doesn't follow the oral surgeon's advice and gets dry socket when he gets his wisdom teeth taken out.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Drama dog

By now most of you have probably seen the startling video of my dog:

Good news. There's a 97% change that it's "just" a petit mal epileptic seizure! It won't shorten her lifespan and the treatment is free. Dim the lights for her and let her wait it out on her own unless she wants comfort.

Friday, November 14, 2008

We now have negative net worth

May I present...

11-14-2008 Front

our first home!

I'm excited to announce that our new house came with its very own garden gnome:

11-14-2008 Gnome

Those crazy Germans, huh? No seriously, the seller was born in Kiel!

I'm also very happy that I can put myself on exhibition while taking a shower:

11-14-2008 Master Bath Skylight

See the rest here.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Can I Has More Shoes?

It's a very good thing that we're moving in less than two weeks because, as you can see, my shoes have nowhere else to go!

10-13-2008 Closet B

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Road to Homelessness

With our quickly approaching November 14 close date, we gave our thirty day notice to vacate notice to our current moderately craptacular apartments. If things go perfectly, and they won't, we will have a whole week to paint and another whole week to move into our house. And the timing is nice because every time I move it seems like I have a tiny 48 hour window to do it in. But in my world, things never go as planned. My fear is that something will go wrong between now and closing and we will be homeless for a little while. And homelessness at this point probably means moving in with my dear in-laws. I love them dearly, but they definitely don't share the same love for sleeping in until noon on Saturdays or lounging around in just a T-shirt and undies for the better part of all time spent at home. Relearning how to wear clothes all day long would be difficult.

In other news, the work spectacle continues and might continue for another two years. But it hasn't been too bad because I work with such great people.

I went trick-or-treating with my nieces and nephews last night. And I carried new baby Anna in a sling the entire time. I like that experience a little too much.

I need a new back bumper. I had my very first actual collision Wednesday. I was backing out of the parking space at work and into a non-moving vehicle just sitting there. In my defense, he wasn't in a parking space, he had just pulled up behind my car. What's horrible is that I wasn't on the phone, I wasn't messing with my iPod, I LOOKED, but I just completely didn't see it! And that can only mean that all of this recent stress is making me reverse hallucinate things.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Neil Diamond

Since childhood, my father and I have had the pleasurable habit of changing the lyrics of our favorite songs. This was usually done while driving and, as I remember, typically with my mother shaking her head disapprovingly in our general direction.

Not much has changed. Over the years, I have attempted my craft with numerous people, most of them hostage in my passenger seat. However, it seems as though only Doug and my father share this hobby with the same intensity as me. Doug has been changing lyrics since childhood, too. And what better way to spend an afternoon than taking a drive with your husband while singing our special rendition of Tom Petty's lullaby Freeballin'?

Some of my song renditions have been replayed in my head so often that I occasionally forget the real lyrics. I fear that this will not serve me well tonight. I am going to the Neil Diamond concert with my mother-in-law who is quite a bit more prim and proper than I. It's going to take every ounce of strength to remember that the lyrics are really "Sweet Caroline" and not "Sweet Milky Thighs."