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The Sisterhood of Sisters

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If you have a sister you know what I’m talking about – there is a bond between us that makes us all stronger together. I have two older sisters. Both at the top of the birth order of five siblings. I finish the list as child number five, sister number three.

Life has a way of reminding us how fragile our existence on the earth really is – it often takes loss to get our attention. Once we realize life has one guarantee – you will die- you start seeing the world differently.

When our Mom passed away, we vowed to spend more time together as sisters celebrating life. And we did. It became our mission, and sometimes even a chore, to get the sisters together at least once a month. From salt spas in Williamsburg to seashells in Sanibel, we found time for each other. As the years pass, our photos tell our story, we age a little and smile a lot.

But our sister story took an unexpected turn when my oldest sister Deb died suddenly. There was no warning and nothing to prepare us for this tremendous loss. It was devastating to our family, especially for me and my sister Geri. Our partner in crime was gone. Her lively essence was extinguished. But how could that be? We were just together laughing and joking. Geri and I were numb.

The overwhelming support of our friends and the community brought us comfort. But the void left from loss is a strange and awkward emotion. How does one deal with this grief? It’s been a year since Deb passed. My sister Geri and I have spent the last 12 months making sense of it all only to realize life is short.

Debs favorite saying was, YOLO – You Only Live Once. But I’ve come to realize the opposite is true- you only die once, but you live everyday. And my sister Deb did just that. She lived everyday with an enthusiasm for life and a heart full of love.

My sister Geri and I celebrate Deb’s life and legacy everyday. We hold tight to our memories and all the things that made Deb a one-of-a-kind person. Like her crazy-assed stories ( you were never sure if she was kidding or serious) were entertaining to say the least. But one thing for sure, Deb was generous with her time, money, and love.

The one thing I’ve learned from this experience, is that you are not guaranteed tomorrow so make the best of today.

Relatively Speaking

As Deb would always say, “We are family, I got all my sisters with me.”

Chincoteague Virginia

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There aren’t many beach towns left in America that celebrate time honored traditions like that of Chincoteague,  VA. Off the coast of Virginia, Chincoteague Island is a historic village where wild ponies are the talk of the town.  If you remember the book “Misty of Chincoteague” you’ll fall in love with this seaside town dedicated to the preservation of the wild ponies of Assateague and Chincoteague.  In addition to the famed ponies, there are the people and businesses of Chincoteague that make this beach town unforgettable.

We went to Chincoteague for a visit with “Aunt Jean and Uncle Joe” who took the liberty of showing us a great time on the island. With any visit to the shore, there is always seafood involved. Luckily, we were with the two island experts who knew all the best local spots.  

Our visit started with steamed claims, soft shell crabs and a tomato pie. If you’ve never had a tomato pie, stop by Church Street Produce and order one. Filled with tomatoes, mozzarella, and herbs in a delightful pie crust, the pies are made to order and fresh out of the oven when you pick them up.  With oysters on the menu, we went where the locals shop, Sea Best Seafood in the heart of Chincoteague for the freshest catch and everything you need to make it delicious – be sure to tell them Jean and Joe sent you!  No beach trip would be complete without ice cream! The Island Creamery makes hand-made small batch ice cream with free tastes of any flavor. My coffee ice cream in a waffle cone was a splendid mid-day treat.  Eric had Birthday Cake ice cream and it was like a celebration in a cone!  

Of course, the local brewery is always a point of interest with us.  New to Chincoteague, the Black Narrows Brewing Company is the only brewery on the island.  With the mainstay beer, Salts, a tasty tart oyster wheat with a briny hint of lemon, we were intrigued with the creativity here. Other offerings included a delicious Mosquito Magnet IPA, Lishe, a wild fennel stout with hints of licorice and roasted coffee, and Take in the Sky, a melon, shortbread, and black pepper concoction.  The beers here are created with locally sourced ingredients and they are big on giving back to the community.  I can’t wait to go back here to see whats new on tap!

Our discovery of the island continued with a trip to the Wildlife Nature Reserve, a habitat for the modern-day descendants of domestic horses left on the island three centuries ago to fend for themselves, and they did. They have adapted to the hardships of living near the ocean and continue to evolve into beautiful specimens of survival. In addition to the ponies, there is an abundance of wildlife, aquatic life, and plants that are unique to this delicate ecosystem.

If you love the sky, Chincoteague will not disappoint. Feed your curiosity with a visit to Wallop Island NASA Visitors Center. We didn’t get to see a rocket launch but we did get to see an amazing display of skill as US Navy Pilots performed “touch and go” maneuvers where they land briefly, touch the runway and take off again. This was a spectacular show of discipline, adroitness, and coordination in the skies overhead. Sunsets are spectacular and the night sky is bright with constellations and planets easily visible with the naked eye. 

And there is still more…we were able to ride our bikes around the entire island. As a history nerd, I found a special place on the island, Chincoteague’s oldest standing structure. The home was owned by Captain Timothy Hill and built sometime around 1800. This rare home was discovered beneath a dilapidated structure in 2009 and restored to its former architectural glory, complete with a wooden chimney. There are two ships carved into the exterior logs, however, the artist remains a mystery. Legend has it, the house is haunted by Timothy Hill’s daughter Jenny. She was killed by her long time love Tom Freeman, when her father denied permission for them to marry. The house was moved from its original location and is open to the public on weekends.  

Chincoteague is a nature lovers dream come true. There is just something about the beach that brings balance to one’s life. Eric and I both agree, we are drawn to the ocean and feel at peace there. We are grateful for the opportunity to spend quality time with our beloved Aunt Jean and Uncle Joe in their “happy place.”  We felt welcome, comfortable, and loved. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Until next time,
The Humbleweeds
Eric and Lori

@islandcreamery1

@churchstreetproduce

@BlackNarrows

@localtechchic

Our High Seas Adventure

hmEyS3xoSQKyXGC8l9Bl0QTrains, plans, and automobiles have always been our mode of travel, until now…for the first time, we set foot on the high seas upon the @CarnivalCruise Pride,  an impressive floating city of metal and martinis. When we embarked on the ship, it became evident we were in for a week long extravaganza.   With nine stories, this boat had a waterslide on the top, a casino on the bottom, and everything you could possibly want or need in between.

For the first time ever, my brothers and sisters came together for an eight day vacation on a cruise-ship to the Bahamas. In addition, my nephew and his wife along with her family, made the trip as well. With a group of 17, it was hard not to notice us.  For the many of us in the group, this was our first cruise.

Food – It’s true what they say about the food on a cruise, it is delicious, abundant, and available around the clock.  We loved the main dining room, each evening we gathered with whole family to a formal meal. We adored the evening menu with things like prosciutto ruffles, braised rabbit, broiled ox tongue, lobster tail, swordfish, salmon, steak, pork chops, and the list goes on. Each night the menu changed to reflect the port of call of our location.  Our servers, Gerald and Mohammad, performed nightly with song and dance routines to lighten the mood.  Other restaurants included Guy Fieri’s  Burger Joint, Bonsai Sushi, and David’s Steakhouse to name a few.  Needless to say, we tried every eatery on the boat.

Drinks – there is just something about an exotic cocktail that confirms you’re on vacation.  We tried as many concoctions as our alcohol tolerance would allow.  Our favorite spot on the ship was the Alchemy Bar, where the mixologists were impressive, accurate, and intense.  Of course, there were bars at every turn with craft brews,  cocktails, and their infamous Bloody Mary’s.  Many in our group managed to meet the 15 alcoholic drink limit per day, an impressive task in itself!

Fun – Each day, cruise guests are given a schedule of the day’s planned activities on the ship. We jumped right in a attended a cooking demonstration at David’s Steakhouse that included a four- course sampler. Not to be outdone, Bonsai Sushi offered a sushi rolling demonstration, complete with samples to try.   Other activities like game shows, stand-up comedy, and karaoke happened nightly.

Ports – Our nautical  course included the islands of Princess Cays, Nassau, and Freeport of the Bahamas.  The sunshine was a pleasant change of pace from the overcast skies we left in Baltimore.

Princess Cay is an island owned by the cruise line.  Lined with royal blue chases, we found ourselves on a pristine private beach.  The cruise line prepared a barbecue-style lunch on the island and offered shopping, drinks, and anything your day at the beach required.

Nassau was not what what we expected. Once you left the dock you were thrusted in the middle of a bustling thoroughfare. The markets were filled with local crafts and merchandise. The locals were well trained in tourist techniques to get your attention and make you feel special. We were greeted as the beautiful lady and the handsome gentleman, as an continual icebreaker.  The local beach was patrolled by armed security and we were warned not to stray from the first two blocks for safety reasons.

Freeport was our last stop. It was an industrial port surrounded by freighters hauling shipping containers. Just off the dock, there was small market area complete with souvenirs and tchotchkes to tempt the masses.

Our final night at sea was one for the record books.  A winter storm named Skyler, created a weather phenomenon called a Bomb Cyclone on the east coast.  The captain gave us fair warning the seas would be rough during the night and he was right.  With 87 mph  winds slapping the side of the ship, the real adventure began. As we hunkered down in our cabin, the sounds of the ship reacting to the rough water was like a scene from a movie, you know the one I’m talking about.  We made it to calmer seas by morning about five hours behind schedule.  The #CarnivalCruisePride crew was outstanding and never missed a beat to make our vacation memorable, right down to the last hour.

Thanks @CarnivalCruise for a memorable vacation on our first #Cruise in the #Caribbean.   #Humbleweeds #CarnivalPride #FunSquad

 

 

 

 

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Elk Encounter in Estes Park

It seemed like the perfect place to go see the autumn leaves and wildlife on the move.  One of our favorite spots, the Rocky Mountain National Park, located just outside Estes Park, CO, has it all.  But things go a bit crazy for a few weeks in the autumn months of September and October.

We arrived at 6:00 am, before the park even officially opened.  The sun touched the mountain tops and the sounds of the season were just outside our window.  Here’s what we heard:  Among the tall grasses we caught a glimpse of the bugling elk bull.  He gingerly took a bath in a nearby pond and made his way up the mountain.  He was as disappointed as we were, he did not have a single female in sight.

We drove through the park and didn’t see another elk anywhere.  We made our way back to town and on our way there we noticed a little elk activity in a residential neighborhood.  The Subaru made a hard right and then another right…and that’s when it happened! We found ourselves smack dab in the middle of a seasonal power struggle among the bulls.  I was both terrified and amazed at the same time.  By this time, the challenge between the bulls ensued around our Subaru.   While one bull showered the residential landscaping with urine, another used antlers to destroy the red maples so carefully planted by the homeowner.  Yes, we witnessed a real pissing contest!

The rest of the elk herd followed submissively as the largest bull encouraged the route.  In the meantime, the other bulls were not about to give up.  We sat dumbfounded in the Subaru unable to take our eyes off the bulls that surrounded us and afraid to make any sudden movements that may be mistaken as a threat.  Eventually, the dominate bull lead the majority of females his way into the woods.  Never giving up, the remaining bulls continued the confrontation to earn the attention of the females that lingered behind.   As the herd dispersed, our freedom to drive was now an option.

Needless to say, the entertainment factor of Colorado wildlife is without a doubt, an exhilarating experience.   We highly recommend it!  The Humbleweeds.  E and L

 

 

 

 

 

I kid you not…goat yoga. Yes, we did!

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Where the Wild Things are…

While on a leisurely drive in the Colorado mountains we came across this… #humbleweeds #roadtrip #NederlandColorado

Small town living in America. Nederland, CO – elevation 8228′ #smalltown #nederlandCo #neditate #nedestrians #truth #jamespeakbrewery

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Camelot reimagined at the #MileHighFleaMarket. #humbleweeds #roadtrippin #colorfulColorado

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Rocky Flats Cold War Horse. Represents and brings awareness to the former Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Facility that was closed after a government raid in the 80’s. Arvada, CO

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Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high…yep, Kansas! #grafitti #kansas #humbleweeds #roadtrip

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