Sunday, September 12, 2004

How I spent my summer vacation

It began late on September 2 and it essentially ends right now, that was my summer vacation. Lots of stuff happened, so I will give a travelogue with the highlights.

Thursday Started my vacation at 8 pm. That's right 8 pm. My boss was acting like a real douche about me taking a week off, so I had to fucking work my balls off for 11 and a half hours.

But the moment I jumped in my car and left Marblehead, I felt awesome. It was just the best feeling. I went over Aly's house and we went to Chef Chow's in Brookline. Great Chinese food, perfect way to begin a vacation.

The best part of vacation, is the moment you wake up on the day before vacation and shut off your alarm for the last time.

Friday Aly and I went to Plum Island for the day. We knew we were going to a warm climate and needed a base tan. Easy solution, we went to Plum Island and chilled in the sun. The water was freezing, but the weather was warm. I love being on vacation while everyone is at work. It's the best.

After the beach, Aly and I went to Anthony's Pier Four in Swampscott for dinner. We got there around 7:00 and we had a table near the window, which saw a sunset over the ocean. Very beautiful. Thought that I should've brought the ring, but on second thought, it was better that I didn't. I've gone there a couple of times with some other girlfriends. I didn't want to do that.

Saturday Aly told me she had to get some stuff in Boston. The catch? The store closes at noon. We get up and decide to walk to the T. It's only 10 pm, so it shouldn't be that big of a deal. We get to the station and find out that the T isn't running to the stop we need to get to. It's going to MIT and then we have to take a bus.

We get to MIT and there are a few hundred people there waiting for the bus. Fuck that. We start walking to Downtown Crossing. It's 11:30 and it's hot as balls out. We make it to the store at 12:01 ... and no, I am not kidding. Turns out the store is open until 6:00.

On the way home, we find out that Hurricane Frances is fucking up the Bahamas. And behind Frances is Hurricane Ivan. We decide that the Bahamas aren't in the cards for us. We decide to go to Phoenix.

This fucks up my engagement plans. Originally, Aly and I were to be in the Bahamas on Thursday, but the hurricane pushed our departure back to Monday. I had spoken to a woman about coming to our hotel room, and completely doing it up right: champagne, flower petals, candles, all of that stuff. This wasn't going to happen in Phoenix.

I had to snap into action, as Aly was calling her parents, I told her to drop the phone because I had to give her something. She sort of knew what I was doing and said, "No. What are you doing? Not now!" I got down on one knee, gave her the ring and asked her to marry me.

She said "Yes" and began to cry. We then had to meet my folks at our church and she was just bubbling. I don't think I've ever seen someone happier in my life. She just was beaming. It was awesome. Easily the best feeling I've ever had. So, now I can at least talk about the engagement now.

We went out to dinner with my mom, dad and grandmother at the Village Smokehouse. My entire family was more than pumped. Then we went out for a celebratory drink at Matt Murphy's with Aly's sister Lauren, and brother-in-law, Bob.

Great day. Just a great day.

Sunday Aly and I went up to my parents house where we went to Kinnebunkport with Aly's folks and my mom. After that we went to my parents' house for a cookout.

Needless to say Sunday was spent talking about weddings. Which wasn't too bad for the first six hours.

Sunday night we stayed over Ryan's parents' house in Charlestown because they were giving us a ride to the airport. We had a couple of drinks, told some stories and they toasted us on the engagement.

Bill and Ellie are like my second parents. Easy to talk to and always interesting, we had a great night. (I sound like Pollyanna with all of the "great nights" or "great times" I've had this past week, but honestly, I've been on cloud nine since proposing to Aly.)

Monday Up at 5:00 am. That sucked. Took a shower, got dressed and was at the airport by 6:15, thanks to Bill. Originally we were going to get a cab, but he volunteered to take us. When I get older and my kids have kids, I have to remember all of the kindness that my parents' friends have shown me and do the same thing.

We flew to Philly, then to Phoenix. Philly was a breeze, less than a hour. The flight to Phoenix was a bit longer, about six hours. Which, with the loss of three hours due to the time change, meant we were there at noon. Sort of a mind fuck, but nothing too bad.

Originally we were supposed to get a Dodge Neon, but the kid behind the desk thought that Aly and I were on our honeymoon, so he upgraded our car to a PT Cruiser. This marriage thing may have it's perks ...

We hung out at the pool for a bit then went to a Mexican dinner. Of course, we were both wiped and crashed around 7:00, which was really 10.

Tuesday Aly caught the hotel, which was actually Scottsdale, in a bit of a pickle. According to their site each hotel guest got $105 in spa treatments. When she called about it, they tried to say it wasn't true, but after we showed them the site, they had to pony up. So Aly got a seaweed wrap or something like that.

I sat around the pool and read a book about the Boston Braves. When Aly came back, we went to old-town Scottsdale and sort of just hung around and looked in a few shops and galleries. They really dig the southwestern and Indian themes out there.

At night, we went to the best restaurant I have ever been to in my life. It was called Elements. It was built into a mountain and had a whole zen thing going on. This was our second sunset dinner in less than a week, much different from Friday's meal overlooking the ocean. This one had the view of the desert as it's scenery. My appetizer was a prosciutto dish, Al had a salad. For my entree, I had a filet mignon wrapped in bacon with mashed potatoes with a gorgonzola sauce. Aly had the pork tenderloin and mashed yam and carrots. For dessert we had a chocolate lava cake.

Wednesday We took a two-hour drive to Sedona. The views of the red rocks were breath taking for the first 20 minutes. Then it got kind of boring. We also checked out the chapel in the mountain. It is basically it's moniker. A Catholic chapel built into the side of the moutain. Very small and very serene.

Aly was sort of hoping to see a rattlesnake or a scorpion, but since it was literally 110 degrees outside, we probably had a better chance of seeing Jesus Christ boogie board down the side of one of the moutains ... which didn't happen.

After we got back to Scottsdale, one of Aly's friends from Franklin called to say that her and her husband wanted to meet us for dinner. So we trekked to old Scottsdale and ate at this place (I can't remember the name) but basically it was a rip-off of Houston's, though it wasn't as good.

The one good thing was the beer, Fat Tire. Awesome shit. I hope I can find it out here.

BTW, Aly's friend's husband never showed. They moved out here last November and he hasn't done any work (because they made so much on the sale of their house in Massachusetts), so he just sits inside all day and watches ESPN. He hasn't made many friends and is pretty depressed. Her friend loves it in Arizona, though he wants to move home.

It really doesn't look good.

Thursday Today, I turned 30. Ugh. What a fucking kick in the crotch. I never thought that I'd make it to this age. I really didn't. The first 30 years have been fun and interesting, I only hope the next 30 can match that.

All we did today was lay around the pool. For the third day in a row, Aly and I were up at 4:00 am because of the time change. That wasn't fun. We'd lay in bed until 8 am, and then have breakfast on the terrace until it was time for Aly to hit the spa.

We only left the pool for an hour, to go to a place called the Sugar Bowl. It was an old-fashioned, 1950s style soda shoppe. The food was good, but the ice cream was better. We had an awesome sundae, but the best part of the experience wasn't the sundae it was the menu. Apparently, Bill Keane -- the creator of "Family Circle" -- lives in Scottsdale and this is his favorite restaurant (which isn't a surprise because this place is perpetually trapped in 1956 like Keane) and has put this place in a bunch of his earlier strips.

This is worn like a badge of honor as about six of Keane's circles are reprinted in the menu. I would think that one would try not to bring attention to this, but what the hell do I know?

For my birthday fiesta, we want to the tortilla factory. Good meal, not great, but the tacos were good and the waiter was right when he said that the cheese dip was like "crack".

Friday Spent seven hours in the sun, got a little sun stroked. But before that, we got tickets to the Giants-Diamondbacks game.

The D'Backs suck, I mean they're horrible. Four of their guys were hitting under .200. But they have Randy Johnson, who was pitching that night, and they won 2-1. Besides the obvious attraction of Johnson pitching, Barry Bonds was on homer 698 and we all thought that we'd get to see homers 699 and 700. It wasn't to be, he flied out deep to left, got plugged by Johnson, singled and walked.

The Bank One Ballpark is interesting. The roof was on and it didn't really feel like a ball park. It sort of felt like we were watching a game in a barn. The people around was were cool though. Met a guy from Chicago who sounded and acted a lot like Tom Arnold. We also met a minister who had two fingers. He was a nice guy, even though his nick name is probably Lucky Seven.

I'm probably going to hell for that one.

Anyway, on the way home I was cold-sweating, my sinuses were impacted like hell and my eyes were watering. I honestly can't believe we made it.

Saturday Today was pretty much spent in the air. The one funny story is that we called my mom and told her that we found a house in the Phoenix area and that we've put a bid on it. She didn't believe it at first, but after some cajoling she totally fell for it. She almost started to cry, until I felt pretty bad and let her in on the "joke". She was so happy that she said that she and my dad would pick us up at the airport at midnight.

I finished the Braves book and began "Lying Liars and the Lies They Tell" by Al Franken. Interesting so far, I'll be posting more as I read further.

The flights were a breeze. Nothing really to report.

Sunday Woke up early and had to get my car from Charlestown, I left it there when we stayed over there last week. We went to Bob's birthday party in Bellingham and then watched football.

I am so tired that I have to go to bed now. If you've read up until now, you are a braver man than I.

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