hillarygayle: (Hottie Sneaky Hat)
Thought I would share some photos of our trip to Hot Springs! Bryan spent his days at the Arkansas School for Math, Science & the Arts (ASMSA) while Ganon & I hung out at the RV, drove around Hot Springs hunting for things to improve the RV with, and played around on the free wifi (!) at KOA.

The Hot Springs KOA is an extremely nice place. It's built into the side of a hill and the campsites are terraced. There are several large pull-through sites, which is exactly what I wanted. They sent a person on a golf cart to pilot me into the spot & make sure we could reach the sewer/water/electricity hookups. The campground was super close to the downtown area; it only took 8 minutes to drive Bryan over to the school. Really it was QUITE awesome. I loved the whole experience & I feel like getting a KOA membership was a great idea.

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Where there was once a heavy, small-screened CRT television, there is now an empty cabinet with a nice flat screen mounted to it. All thanks to my incredibly creative parents and my dad who just sort of happens to carry a table saw in the back of his truck. Not a joke. The empty cabinet now contains wiring for the Apple TV and any video game systems we want to bring along. My mom said we're supposed to go on vacation to "get away from that stuff," but I disagree. You go to get away from work & stress!

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More pictures of the campground & our trip in here!
Read more... )
hillarygayle: (Galadriel)
1) What's the first place you remember travelling?

This is a toss-up. I'm pretty sure I was around 5 years old in both cases, but in one I remember going to the lake at Heber Springs, AR, and in the other memory we are going to our family cabin in Hardy, AR on the Spring River.

2) What's the funniest thing that's ever happened to you while travelling?

I am not a good flyer. I truly hate flying; it makes me so nervous that I literally ache when I get off an airplane; I sit with my muscles tense during the entire flight.
I am worst during takeoff. It's horrible & I hate it, and since I heard a geophysicist speak on the environmental dangers of continuing air travel at our current rate, I will not fly again unless it's to a place I literally cannot drive to.

That said, my funniest story happened on a plane. I was wearing scrubs & I was sitting next to a priest (see; it even SOUNDS like a joke: "a nurse & a priest were sitting on an airplane"). This flight was only a short 1-hour hop from Little Rock to Dallas, and I thought I had done well during the very uneventful takeoff. Apparently my emotions show on the outside, though, because after we had stopped that initial extremely fast ascent, the priest leaned over to me.

"May I ask you a personal question?"

I blinked in surprise. "Yes, sir," I answered.

"Have you ever considered Valium?" he asked in a very concerned voice.

Guess I hadn't done as well as I thought!

3) What's the worst thing that ever happened to you while travelling?

I am going to go with Billy the Kidney Stone. For those of you who were not following my LJ at that time, during the 2013 Arkansas Nurses' Association Convention (which I attend every year), Bryan & Ganon had a free weekend & they came with me. Long story short, on the last day of the convention (after which we'd planned to go stay in Eureka Springs for a night so I could take fall foliage pictures), Bryan didn't feel well at all...and then suddenly was in the most inexplicable excruciating pain of his life. Being a mainly critical care nurse, I had literally no idea what was going on...because kidney stones rarely make it past the emergency department & I had never seen the symptoms on a real person. We went to an Urgent Care, where they fixed him up with some ketorolac by injection & gave him a scrip for hydrocodone (which makes him intensely amusing). We had to cut the trip short, but I did drive home by Highway 77, so I got my foliage pictures anyway.
4) What's the furthest place from home you've ever travelled?

I believe my honeymoon in Orlando, Florida holds this honor. We honeymooned in Disney World. :)

5) Where is the next place you hope to travel?

I am really wishing for a trip to northwest Arkansas. That's more or less my baseline status, though. On a grander scale, I'd like to visit Japan, New Zealand, and Australia.
hillarygayle: (Cupcake Hussy!)
Yesterday was the Greek food festival! So much delicious, tasty, multicultural fun! Yesterday morning I intended to pick up [personal profile] bluecanarykit & [personal profile] quiara at 11, but it ended up being later. Ganon was sick and most unhappy with the concept of Mama leaving the house. But he did end up getting a nice day with Daddy.

Anyway, we arrived at the festival later than intended: about 2pm. We parked at the first available parking lot we saw (my apologies to anyone else on the road, because I was driving like a tool trying to get into that parking lot) and behold! Trolleys. You guys already know my love of public transportation, and it extends to things as simple as parking lot shuttles. These were old-style trolleys, so of course I loved them.

Trolley )

We met [personal profile] thejessone & [personal profile] eldridge immediately after hopping off the trolley. They had plans to go & catch Star Trek again after the festival, so they'd been there for a while. They hung out with us while we got our food, though. I <3 me some Jess. She has the most hilariously DRY sense of humor! "Your mom" or "that's what SHE said" sound infinitely more hilarious when they come from someone who sounds like she's asking the time or discussing the weather. Of course the food was stellar. The problem with getting bakalava from the Greek food festival is that it is made by tiny, Greek-speaking old ladies in a magical bakalava workshop. When you have that particular bakalava, other bakalava does not taste awesome. The problem with spanakopita is that it makes me want lots, lots more of it. The problem with melomacarona is that I want to eat 3 tons of them at once (but happily, I think I may have found a good, accurate, recipe for them here). The problem with souvlaki is that I have no idea what seasoning they used on the pork. The problem with the Greek food festival is that it only happens once a year.

One lonely food picture )

When we were waiting in line, me for my spanakopita & Q for her pastitsio, the Radio Disney Road Crew was up on stage doing its little act. Oh my goodness. These girls had the Disney look going ON. They were doing their little dance which, in typical Disney style, had lots of head cocking for maximum hair swinging, lots of arms-locked-at-the-sides pseudo-Irish jigging, and more than its share of dance moves more commonly seen in a cheerleading routine. Anyway, when they finished that, the girl in the red shirt (the rest were wearing purple, and she was a markedly better dancer than most of the others, so I guess that was significant) took the microphone and told the kids who'd been dancing along "Good job guys! That was GREAT!" Her voice was so shrill, so high pitched and so Disney-channel artificially perky & enthusiastic...that Q and I both physically jumped and sorta half-clutched at each other's hands. Kit was behind us and she LAUGHED so hard.

We sat down while the Disney Crew was still doing their thing. *wince* However, following them up was a group doing a Greek circle dance and that was really neat. After that, though was this INCREDIBLE woman doing an Indian storytelling dance. Judging by what the woman said & what I later looked up, I think it's called "kathak". It was beyond beautiful; it was simply mesmerizing. So much so that I absolutely didn't think of taking any photographs. *blink* I just realized that I had my fancy camera, and that I could've gotten a very good shot of her...but I simply didn't think of it at the time. How weird. Anyway, the woman was wearing ivory & gold, and the frontpiece of her outfit was like a folded fan about 18 inches long, hung upside down from the center front of her waist. Her hair was upswept in a large, severe bun offset to one side of her head, and she was absolutely covered in bright gold jewelry. My favorite piece is always the incredible thing that lies in the part of the hair and dangles a jewel onto the forehead. Her hands and feet were dyed with henna. The whole effect was just dazzling.

After her, a couple of little girls did some very Bollywood style dances, which in my estimation kinda outdid the Disney dance. It looked more cohesive than the Disney Crew's thing. But this is Bollywood we're talking about; I'm pretty sure their whole goal is to outdo everyone in every way possible. More glitter, more gold, more color, more people!

Jess & Zak left, but we followed shortly behind them. We went into the church sanctuary, however. It's beautiful and really isn't to be missed (I think Jess & Zak saw it before we got there). I had to light a candle, anyway; there were lots of prayers happening all over the world for my mother-in-law, and many of them were on my behalf. I wanted to say a thank you--to acknowledge the prayers and the thoughts and the happy ending that came of them.

The sanctuary feels solemn, serene, worshipful. Sanctuaries are all different. Depending on the sanctuary, it can feel just like a room unless the service is being held, or it can feel like a place of worship even if (maybe especially if) it is empty. This sanctuary, and indeed I imagine all Greek Orthodox ones, feels that way all the time. You don't speak loudly in it; it feels wrong. The place itself commands respect and deference. Taking pictures in there felt more like "art" than it usually does to me; it felt absolutely imperative that I use the manual light & focus settings in honor of the incredible work done in there. It really feels like a place where God is. Normally in low-light settings, I have a problem with manual. I always end up with blurry photos because my hand is not steady enough. I was thrilled to discover how well these turned out, though!

Photos of Sanctuary )

Q & Kit & I decided to hit a yarn store, so we called for directions. Q called the yarn store, but Kit called New Zealand! We got directions from [profile] macphile, who used to live in the area but currently lives in Auckland. ^o^ I love the digital age. He gave us directions that seemed to go completely opposite the way that the yarn people told Q, and it took us through residential areas, but it was definitely a "back way" of doing it. I think it may have gotten us there faster, and not a moment too soon. We talked to the nice shop ladies (I recommended the Aibhlinn pattern to her and she printed it off knitty.com) and bought yarn. To my absolute delight, they had a COTTON NORO. It's called Noro Taiyo, and it is of MUCH higher quality than their wool. <3 It's almost $20 per skein, but it has very high yardage, so I think it will be enough to make...yet another Aibhlinn. ^o^ Yes, I know. I'm going to give the grass-green Cotton Twist one to Courtney as a gift. The wonderful lady at Yarnmart gave me permission to take photos of the yarn. SO! A shoutout to YarnMart in Kavenaugh Heights in Little Rock, Arkansas! That's where all these pictures were taken. Go forth and buy yarn from them.

Yarn photos )

Jeremy & Leslie had tipped us off to another delightful surprise about the area: 5 doors down from the yarn store is a place called "Cupcakes on Kavenaugh". Yes indeed a CUPCAKE SHOP. How could we NOT?! I had to move Leeloo because part of the street was being blocked off, and I randomly ended up right in front of the cupcake place. FATE, PEOPLE. I went in to wait on Q & Kit, who were still in the yarn store because Q (or Kit?) had managed to end up with a hank of yarn that had the Mother of All Knots in it, and that caused problems on the ball-winder. Anyway, because of my delightful place as first to enter the cupcake shop, I was the first to spot the delightful green cupcake--the last of its kind.

"What is that adorable thing?" I asked.
"It's a margarita cupcake!" said the Cupcake Queen.
"...it's a margarita cupcake."
"Yep."
"Okay I'll be having that."

I got the last one, and for that reason, Q has dubbed me "The Cupcake Hussy". I even have an icon befitting of such a title.

CUPCAKES! )

And then it was late, so we went to Fresh Market to pick up some of Bryan's favorite buffalo wings; I have to bring him a present when I go someplace cool without him! There, we saw Stasia, who used to go to Harding with Q & I. She was also a club sister in GATA. We talked with her for a while, then left to head home. We wished several times for transporters.
hillarygayle: (PP Rowena Ravenclaw)
Theme: International Travel

1. You have the summer and plenty of money to travel abroad. Where all would you go?
Definitely Japan. Bryan & I would go on a tour all around the country to places we want to see the most. Akihabara is a must for Bryan, and the hanamachi districts of Kyoto for me.

2. What foods would you be sure you got to eat?
I would want to eat nikuman, yakitori, okonomiyaki, and takoyaki.

3. What landmarks would you be sure you got to see?
Everything. In addition to the two above, we'd certainly want to see certain shrines and definitely stay at a ryokan, preferably in the process of visiting a hot spring.

4. What airline would you use?
Most likely whichever was the cheapest in getting us to Japan.

5. Would your knowledge of other languages influence where you went? (i.e. would you be more likely to go to France if you spoke French)
Neither of us speak a language other than English fluently, so this doesn't influence us. However, we both wish we spoke Japanese, so even if we did speak another language, that would be it.


Theme: USA Road Trip

1. Who would you take with you on a road trip?
BRYAN! Also, if we all had our own RVs, all of family 2.0 on one huge cross-country trip.

2. What states would you visit?
I would like to visit the deep Southern states: Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia. Big RV trip all the way through them. I especially enjoyed the Gulf Coast states on a couple of business trips down there, so that'd be on my list.

3. What national parks and/or monuments would you go see?
I'm an urban kinda person, so I would want to visit certain cities. I'd like to visit San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago, and Washington D.C. If this is the 2.0 road trip, I'm sure the others have their choices; I know we'd end up at the Grand Canyon & Yellowstone at some point. I also think the Salt Flats would really be a sight to see.

4. Las Vegas: Overrated or a Must-See?
Overrated. The lights are pretty and would make for good photography, but better photographers than I have covered that ground already. I don't like to gamble, and though the hotels would be amazing & some of the attractions might appeal to me, I have heard that shopping in Vegas is dismal if you're larger than a size 8, so that's boring.

5. How long would you be gone?
All summer long, if possible. Just gypsying around the country in our carbon-spewing monsters, getting whims, looking them up on the internet, and heading out to find them.

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