My procrastination has led to a long overdue recap of our recent North American extravaganza. So..........lets get on with it. As a disclaimer there were many more places and events that took place, below are merely the highlights (or what I can remember from the trip).
Katie and I have never been to the states together, in almost 3 years of being together I guess it seems odd right? Well have no fear because we have officially landed in the US, visited more states and towns than I care to count, met so many people that are important in both our lives, and of course danced our hearts out at every wedding we attended. This trip back also happened to coincide with the most epic of wedding seasons, with a grand total 8 (we only made 3 of them).
Seoul , Korea
For some reason we ended up having a 12 hour lay over in Seoul (I suspect Katie did this on purpose). Our main motivation was to eat Korean cuisine and its ever so present companion, kimchi. Within in an hour of landing our goals were met, so we walked around downtown. Korea was noticeably well off in terms of social economics. Everyone had a smart phone and was dressed super chic, though we did not make it over to Gangnam. Besides Katie getting her phone stolen in a Buddhist temple bathroom and a short emotional and physiological breakdown all went well.
Now, I have always had this detest of the east coast for some reason, don't ask me why, but there was a point when I wasn't interested in anything east of the Mississippi. Lucky for me times and ideologies have changed. We landed at midnight in New York and proceeded to the Linoleum Palace located on the upper west side. New York ended up being exactly how I imagined it to be in a lot of ways. Maybe this city is so engrained in the American psyche that it felt somehow normal to be there. I mean how many tv series and movies are set in NYC? Doesn't it make sense that we as outsiders have a unique perspective of a city we see and hear about so often? Mind blown. Besides the standard New York sites we went to Once the musical, as well as visiting our friends antique shop in China town. This shop is the oldest family owned shop in Chinatown, and multiple generations have lost their Chinese and picked up a think New Yoker accent, awesome. Our real treat was receiving the H.M.S. Buick Regal LS from Katie's' father, which would serve as our vessel between ports of call.
|giant pretzels and friends|
For some reason we ended up spending a lot of time in the Green Mountain State, not in a consecutive fashion of course, too cliche. The first stop was to visit the Rev. Post, the patriarch of the Post family and a pretty amazing guy (still driving at 90!). I hadn't cut my hair in about a year and off hand mentioned that I should get it cut, at which the Rev. supplied me with the name of his barber and a ride there. Haha I couldn't refuse.
|pre haircut |
|post hair cut|
Our first wedding of attendance took place on the banks of Lake Champlain in Middlebury. It was a nice setting, and of course the open bar and desolate dance floor (until we arrived of course) made it all the more enjoyable.
|wedding get up|
Hey all you people from the NE, whats up with Heady Topper? This beer is all anyone talks about and is worth more than gold. We randomly saw a guy in the super market with an entire cart full of the stuff and decided to buy some, little did we know that this purchase would put us in the good graces of literally everyone.
After the wedding we made our way to Burlington, VT. This is where Katie went to college and many of her friends still live in the area. The town sort of has this mountain village feel , but with a large fresh water lake nearby. Definitely a cool place to hang out and be liberal, hippie, free spirited, drunk, or whatever other state you choose. On a side note, there is a new outdoor fashion called SUPing (stand up paddle boarding) that I missed the boat on.......it sort of looks lame duders, think I will stick to a kayak.
Little know fact, Katie is a badass unicyclist. She put us all to shame then cracked a beer.
Massachusetts driving immediately crossed this fine state off of a place to live. Almost had a nervous breakdown when a cop yelled at me point blank after following his instructions, under the speed limit mind you. I had to shake off the Thai sabai sabai and get more serious. We visited Boston to see some friends and just hang out. Much of our time was spent playing Wii tennis and drinking gin and tonics. I was able to get out and boulder on some Roxbury puddingstone. Literally 5 minutes from town behind a shopping mall were some badass conglomerate boulders and rock outcrops. We spent a few days bouldering here but could have spent more.
|oh Roxbury puddingstone|
The Freedom Trail self guided tour takes you right past all the old dead celebrities from the late 1700's, including Mother Goose and Samuel Adams. Boston seems like it has always been doing its own thing and the rest of the US sort of just joined the wagon.
The beer tour of the Sam Adams factory was insightful and tasty. Our tour guide even told us she was not on bath salts today, great! Little did we know that after these freedom induce celebratory libations that the H.M.S. Buick Regal LS would be found run aground, aka I left the lights on. Luckily the Sam Adams brewery was near by as we waited for AAA. One new battery and we were back in business.
|yes we are|
|H.M.S. Buick Regal LS|
White Mountains, NH
As we cruised ever steadily into the depths of the north east my heart began to thud harder and harder as the topography changed. Our target destinations were North Conway and then up to a family house near Randolph. Conway is known for its giant granite slabs, but unfortunately we never had time to sample them........oh well, next time. The focus was to get re-certified as wilderness first responders, and we passed with flying colors. We spent almost a week in Randolph taking in the views, playing board games, participating in our own Summer Olympics', and of course jig saw puzzles. Rough life I know, but it really was the first time our "vacation" felt like a vacation.
Other activities involved a day hike up Mt. Jefferson and then on to Mt. Washington, which is notorious for poor weather and high winds. Going up was easy but my knees and ears were hurting coming down, from both the rough terrain and the troops of girl scouts singing Beyonce.
Every time Katie mentioned her last name someone would say with wide eyes "are you related to Bob Proudman?" Katie's' father is somewhat of a legend in the area, both for his rock climbing prowess in the 60's-70's but also for his dedication to the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC). He started out on the AMC trail crew and then went on to literally write the book about trail construction and maintenance. In recent years he has been hired as a consultant for trail projects in China and Mongolia. Anyway, in the 60's Bob built a cabin near Pinkham Notch, which would later be the site of the AMC trail crew cabin. We stopped in one afternoon to check it out, very cool. He even sent me a photo from back in the day, something out of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
|view from the porch|
|the true summit|
|this guy and Bill Murray at the summit|
|AMC trail crew blast from the past|
|AMC and the Proudman cabin|
Our last stop on the East coast was Shepherdstown, WV, which is home to the majority of Katie's' family. The most notable attractions in the area are the Antietam Battlefield and Harpers Ferry, we visited both. We were also able to crash the National Conservation Training Center and its wide assortment of confiscated stuffed animals. As expected the area was beautiful, and as you would expect with lots of trees and rolling green fields. Our stay was brief but eventful as always.
|NCTC polar bear attack|
Flying into Bismarck Katie remarked on how flat it was and how many gravel roads she saw, to which I replied "oh yah you betcha." Though rarely visited or talked about my home state holds the landscape that made me who I am. Family is close and all interconnected, making the social network and support systems broader, it's nice to be part of. This portion of the trip was mainly to visit family and generally do nothing. The highlight of the first week was getting some wood from a 100 year old barn. Our thought was to reuse and reclaim the wood for our tiny house project (more news on that later). We also found a new love for tennis, though we always forgot the score and never remembered exactly how the rules worked.
|can't beat a backyard like this|
|Harmon lake trail|
|loud and proud|
Side note here. A good friend of ours named Max, whom we met in Chiang Mai, was named after his great grandfathers home town, Max, ND. The farm they owned was called the "Lazy S," which Max has tattooed on his arm. Small world right?
|monkey tail march?|