My trip began a week earlier than we had planned with the passing of my Aunt Jenny, who had been suffering with brain cancer for almost two years. I wasn't planning on going to the memorial service, but after I talked to my mom, Prince Charming and I decided to scramble and see if I could fly home to NC for a week before our regularly scheduled trip which would have begun in NYC. I could and I did. It was great to be with my family during this really sad time. Of course, joy was mixed into our grief, because Aunt Jenny's suffering has ended.
It's always fun to get together with my big family, even if though what brought us together was sad. Being one of the oldest cousins on this side of the family, I remember the birth or toddlerhood of most of my cousins, who now, inexplicably, have become handsome young men.
The handsome part is explicable (those good genes everywhere) but not the grown up part, and not the "men" part. I have no idea why there is a preponderance of males on this side of the family. Out of my seventeen cousins, there are 13 boys and 4 girls.
Next Prince Charming flew over and I flew up. We met in NYC where we enjoyed civilization, including lots of people-watching and wandering the streets of Manhattan. During our time in the city, we ate things like hipster pork sammies served on chopping boards with artisanal sasparilla soda. But more importantly, I met my other soulmate, that aforementioned bowl of Pho. The first time I ate it, I regretted not being able to finish the bowl. Even though I was stuffed, I immediately wanted to go back to the restaurant. I begged Charming. I hoped for burps that would bring back the taste. I had a very vivid dream in which I was eating it again. So of course we went back a second time. I made sure to get a pho-to of the two loves of my life.
I think this pho-to captures the crazy look in my eyes revealing my obsessive adoration.
Both times after I took that first bite of Pho, I felt my unborn child move in my womb. No joke. I wasn't sure if I'd felt fetal movement before, but the kid loved the pho and decided to let me know. Oh! Yes, we are expecting. This is the first time I've mentioned it on the blog. If all goes as planned, we'll have our baby in December.
After eating the Pho the second time, we left the restaurant. I was just thinking of how excited I was to tell everyone about the Pho and the baby kicks, and then I looked down and there on the ground was a fifty-dollar bill. No joke. The streets of New York paid for both meals.
Immediately after the second pho-ntastic experience, we met my family on this cruise liner in Brooklyn.
We had a lovely family reunion on board Cunard's Queen Mary II.
Boston & Halifax
This cruise had two stops: Boston and Halifax. Boston was rather rainy and cold due to Hurricane Arthur. We spent most of our time inside foggy-windowed cars, busses, and restaurants.
Halifax, Nova Scotia was more fun. We debarked and enjoyed shenanigans around the old port city.
Then, back in NYC after the cruise, we took the last opportunity to hang out with the family for a while and enjoyed a nice, long, getting-a-bit-lost walk on and around the Brooklyn bridge. My sister hurt her knee and had to be carried part of the way.
From New York, Charming and I parted ways with the family, enjoyed a couple more days in the city, and then got on a plane bound for Portland, Oregon.
My dear college friend and travel buddy Elizabeth and her husband Chris had welcomed, just a few days before our arrival, their firstborn into the world. What a little bundle of heart-melting sweetness! I'm so thankful for getting to share this special time with Chris and Elizabeth and their tiny one.
Elizabeth and I both had the extreme good luck to fall in love with and marry devilishly handsome, virile men who do all the grocery shopping and cooking for the household. I know. You want to hit us. It is pretty awesome since we all know the corollary to "love covers a multitude of sins" is "a fresh baked loaf of sourdough bread covers a multitude of sins."
The guys talked sauces, charcuterie, and local produce. A friendship blossomed.
Chris took us out chasing waterfalls and showed us the splendid natural beauty of the area.
And of course there was lots of gorgeous hipster food, including the city's famous Voodoo Donuts (second photo down).
My weekend activity in Portland was the World Domination Summit, which was incredible, and which I will postpone writing about until later this month. For now, suffice it to say I rode in a hot air balloon.
After Portland, we jumped on a flight for San Francisco. This time, it was all about seeing family, friends, and enjoying my uncle's amazing electrified Cruzbikes.
A few quick days in LA were next, and that trip was about seeing friends too. It's been more than two years since Charming and I have been together on the West Coast, where many of our friends and connections live. We are so grateful we got to spend some time with these folks and even more who aren't pictured.