I'm now in Madison!!
But I'm gonna need to backtrack a bit with my bad updating record...
Before leaving Oregon, there were a few things that needed to be taken care of -- namely, taking care of alpacas & doing some last minute stuff with the family. Weds was my last big scrapbooking expedition. It was sad to pack everything up -- I hope Mer starts going down to Grammy's soon to take my place!
Thurs I helped Mum clean, and then we had an adventure up at Kingsley Lake. It was hot and sunny, but windy up at the lake, so we mainly just sat & snacked (I'd also brought a Chai Luna bar, I love that company). The lake was perfectly blue though, and I think Mom got a wild hair... because after we realized it would be an awfully goosebumpy experience to swim, we hit the old road up to Kingsley. This road really deserves some description: potholes and rocks everywhere, deep ruts from all the four-wheelers that are dug in so deep that a regular sized car could have the underside torn up. We bumped down this road for a few minutes, and luckily came upon the lower reservoir. I think it'd be cool to hike across the dike there, as it's now all blocked off from car use. We kept going, hoping to find Warren Lake. We went up gravel and dirt roads, taking every offshoot in the hope that it would be the old road to get to the lake. We found many logging areas & burn piles, a few impassable old roads, and a hiking trail (with candy stripe plants, very unusual looking, like candy canes with vertical stripes and little flowering parts along the curve). It was strange to find beer cans littering everywhere, even after driving on so many bad roads and finding such a supposedly remote area...
We never did find Warren Lake, and luckily Mom picked the right branches of the downhill trek, so we ended up getting home so Mer and I could go out for our beloved taco pizza at Pietro's. I think I've cracked how to make it, so that will have to be a cooking project this summer. We had orange soda, which you only need once a year, and lamented the changes made in the new "gaming area" or whatever since we were kids. The loss of the mechanical horse is really unacceptable.
Friday I job shadowed at the Whitman's, and in the evening we took a bbq -- complete with hormone & antibiotic & animal by-product free steak and corn on the cob. Mer and I wandered around Nottingham (not a Robin Hood delusion, we really have areas named Nottingham and Sherwood -- not to mention Little John) & tried to get as far across the river on rocks and sandbars as possible. It did look greener over there. On the way home we visited Linda, which was fun since I hadn't gotten to see her yet.
Sat. I took over alpaca duties, manning the store at the Whitman's & taking care of the creatures. A number of nice people came by & sedately fed the alpacas. Then, right over the time when Mer and I should have been eating lunch, this family from the Dalles pulled up. As you'll see, the fact that they came from the Dalles is rather important -- it explains a lot, as Mer and I thought. The family consisted of a grandmother with a smoker's cough, a teenage son with bushy hair, and two very active blond kids. They wanted to feed the alpacas, so we sat out there with them for about 40 minutes as the kids were indefatigable. They wanted to feed and pet every alpaca, it seemed, and then when they ran out, wanted more pellets. I didn't want to stand out there any longer, so I directed them toward the hay. I finally had to go back to homebase to help out another couple of visitors, so Mer had the arduous task of standing out there watching. Finally, the grandmother at least finished up, and returned to the store to cough on me and ask me to read price tags on things, since she didn't have her glasses on her. Eventually she walked out, hollering "thanks" and waiting for the kids in the car. Well the kids FINALLY came into the store, and wanted to know if the candy by the guestbook was free. So they had candy (dropping parts of wrappers on the floor in the process), and then like the mouse that's had a cookie, needed something to drink. So they asked for water, which I directed them toward, and then they wanted cups, and then of course they needed me to throw the cups away for them, and then they had to leave. It was rather, well, rude -- at least buy a magnet or something small after taking up that much of our time!! Geez.
That night we had an unhealthy dinner by my request -- fried chicken. And Mer and I went off for a drive on our own after feeding the alpacas -- we saw two sets of two deer (although I missed one of them, I'm taking Mer's word for it) while driving around eating laffy taffy and a york, the combination of which was nasty, in retrospect. Anyway, on the way back I saw something shiny moving in the dark -- definitely not the reflectors on the side of the road, but eyeshine from some animal. At first I thought perhaps a racoon or something, but as we got closer we realized it was a young dog -- and a German Shepherd at that! So we stopped the car, and Mer went after the dog, which actually ran by us again. Then I turned the jeep around to shine the headlights (because it was entirely dark by this time), but we never found the dog again. Mer and Tim even went to Tollbridge to warn the park supervisor that someone's dog might have gotten spooked by the fireworks & ran off. The supervisor was quite rude... who says "then don't" when someone starts off with "I hate to bother you, but" ??
Sunday morning me and Mer had alpaca duty, and then I had to finish getting ready to leave for the airport. We stopped by Arlene's on the way out of town, which was nice since I hadn't seen her yet. My flights were uneventful, but I've concluded that Phoenix is a horrible place to fly through. It was 112 degrees there, although a very nice dry heat, and they had very very limited food options that were both semi healthy and affordable. Sometimes I miss McDonald's -- at least if they had one there'd have been affordable salads! The salad I got cost over $4, and consisted of iceberg lettuce, shavings of red lettuce, bits of carrot, and two measly cucumber slices -- the romaine lettuce it claimed to contain was sparse at best, and the cherry tomatoes entirely nonexistent. Screw you, Pizza Hut! Who can't even manage to make a decent salad??!!
My only other complaint was on the second leg of the journey... The seatbelt sign was on nearly the entire flight, after the pilot initially estimated only 4-5 minutes of turbulence. The turbulence was barely noticeable, and an hour later when it went off, about half the plane started staggering toward the bathroom. Of course there are only two bathrooms on the plane for coach, so there was a line backed up about ten seats' length. A man sitting near the lavatory area urged me and another girl to go up to first class, and "start a revolution." I was tempted, but then you know they'll think you're a terrorist and detain your ass for God only knows how long. So I sat there in line, and after about five people had relieved their bladders, the f#*@ing sign went back on. Well we didn't sit down, probably because 1) we were already in line and needed, obviously, to use the facilities, and 2) because the pilot was an ass and probably wouldn't turn the sign off again until the engines were off. Needless to say, I noticed little to no turbulence while I was in the box they claim is a restroom -- and somehow I even irrigated my wisdom tooth hole (with water I brought in, of course, you don't want to drink the water they have on board in the lavatories).
Of course my luggage was about the last thing off the plane, so Andrew actually came in and found me at the baggage carousel long before I saw my distinctive purple bags come sliding by. We had a late night drive from Milwaukee to Madison, and then I got the grand tour of Andrew's spacious studio, which doesn't feel like a studio. The bathroom's all done up in turquoise, lime, and navy, and the living area/ kitchen area/ bedroom section is more oak/ beige/ red/ blue. Andrew wonders whether he'd be living in black and orange if he'd moved in around Halloween. He also says he'll need me to be here if he ever has friends over, or they'll think he's gay (yes, things really match around here that well. Plus Andrew is just tidy, which doesn't seem to be the norm for the male persuasion). After seeing the place, taking a bath, and having a snack, we didn't get to bed till around 4 am...
Naturally, we then slept in till at least noon, but there was nothing in the house to eat yet since Andrew had been too busy getting the place unpacked for me to do much shopping. Luckily he did get bread & my yogurt, so we had something before heading off for supplies. Our first stop was Walmart, where we loaded up on basics (can't really beat spices for 50 cents each). Then it was Cub's Foods, which we weren't impressed with, and after I found that they had no free range chicken or healthier meat options, I insisted that we leave. Finally found Jenifer Street Market, where I happily ordered organic ground beef, loaded up on brie, and hurried on out. We didn't have time to fix dinner before fireworks, but I did make up a snack plate of bread & crackers & blueberries & strawberries & brie (very red white and blue). So we had a little wine and cheese party while watching fireworks from the roof. So nice! Dinner was late -- spaghetti like how we made it at home (and the sauce from Walmart definitely needed some doctoring up).
Tuesday was more supply shopping... Andrew needed barstools for his breakfast bar, so we visited "The Stool Store." Yes, it's really called that. We settled on some wooden swivel chairs, and right across the road we located Woodman's, the large and elusive supermarket that my hosts at UW had brought me to way back in March. I couldn't remember the name, or find it listed in Google's yellow pages, so I was quite happy with the lucky find... the place is massive -- with the equivalent of about 5 aisles in a normal supermarket dedicated to ice cream. The equivalent of about 4 aisles goes to cheese, and the produce area is mind boggling. I allowed Andrew to get steak there, although I couldn't find organic, and we got some yummy ice cream that is apparently marketed to the Latino population (Fiesta chocolate taco). And of course we had to get cheesecurds!
We didn't get home till a little later than we anticipated... and didn't start dinner till about 8:30 pm. Since we were making enchiladas with homemade salsa and homemade tortilla chips, let's just say we didn't eat till around 11:30!! But it was yummy!
Yesterday Andrew was checking out car insurance, so I wandered over to a Salvation Army store -- found some random clothes (Gap like-new khaki beach pants for $1.50, a shirt for $2, and another shirt for $1), and some books. Andrew found a nice picture frame for the bathroom, and we were tempted to buy this Christian handbook for teens -- that claimed homosexuals will burn in hell, and that everyone should "stay clear" of the flames -- if only to burn the damn thing itself.
Afterwards we had to scout out kitchen utensils, as Andrew returned some to Bed Bath and Beyond and picked out more at Target. I was so tired of wandering around! Luckily I'd gotten some applesauce and bottled water to make me feel a little better while debating over what sort of grips Andrew really needs on a spatula (slotted or solid?), and what type of grilling device he might want (grill, electronic gadgetry, or skillet with ridged bottom?). ACK!
On the way home we stopped by Pier1 for little festive lights to put out on the patio, and I saw the canopies I need to decide on... they have them for about $20, in yellow, red, and green... trying to decide if I want red or green above my bed (which has green accents as well as pink/red flowers... hard choice).
Finally last night we cooked dinner at a decent hour. Andrew was in charge of the steaks, and I was all over the salad (I decided to add blueberries) and the corn on the cob. We felt uber grown up eating at the breakfast bar with the seat cushioned-stools and our wine glasses. So we finally settled down -- Andrew is always working on the task of unpacking and hanging things up on the walls -- and actually sat on the couch together for the first extended period to watch In Good Company! And decided that the couch is, indeed, comfortable.
This morning we heard the sound of children yelling and making odd noises -- we think there's some company next door perhaps specializing in treating mentally retarded children, as we've seen glimpses inside and Andrew has yet to investigate further. Maintenance got Andrew out of bed (I was already washing my face and brushing) to check on a few things. The explosive faucet that splashes water all over the counter was indeed missing a device, and now it apparently works like a normal faucet (thank God -- I have yet to use it this morning since Andrew's on pancake duty, and am actually looking forward to testing it out). The stove burner is supposedly fixed... we'll see.
So that's the whirlwind story of helping Andrew to set up his apartment!! Crazy times... we're finally getting settled enough to start enjoying local stuff, I think! Must find lakes & hiking trails, hopefully get into Chicago, etc.!