I know I shouldn’t complain, but after my surprise Disney weekend, two 6-hour flights, no sleep, and a week of work I am EXHAUSTED. I truly needed a vacation after our vacation. Every single morning this week was torture and my doctor would not have approved of my caffeine consumption. My weekend could not have come soon enough. So, when Husband asked if I wanted to go out an hour after I got off work yesterday I thought….no, definitely not.
I just wanted to sleep, especially since I only had a few hours before a babysitting gig. However, Husband had planned to check out a new bar that doubles as an 80’s and 90’s arcade. I decided to skip the nap, pick up Starbucks and join him on his outing. This bar sounded too cool to miss.
Two Bits Retro Arcade is the coolest dive bar and grungiest arcade. They serve a thousand different beers, have a large wine selection and sell cheese and pepperoni pizza. The walls are lined with classic video games like Donkey Kong, Street Fighter, Frogger, PacMan, Tetris and so many more.
Husband is a gamer and I have never understood his love of games. As often as I’ve tried to grow in interest in his hobby, I just can’t. At least that’s what I thought…apparently I have a secret love for arcade games. Walking into Two Bits took my back to my childhood days.
Every Sunday after church my family would join many other church families at a local pizzeria that had an arcade in the back. My friends and I would spend all night using our quarters to race cars, play pinball, shoot bad guys and win animals from the claw machine. Two Bits made me feel like that kid again. They even had my most favorite pinball game, The Adam’s Family!
We spent the next two hours competing, having a foosball tournament and spending way too many quarters.
I left the bar early, slightly tipsy, to run home and get ready to babysit. Two hours at Two Bits was not long enough…future visitors we WILL be taking you here!
I spent a good portion of my vacation time with some of our closest friends in Tennessee. We played many many rounds of Settlers of Catan. (If you have not played this yet, you should!) We made lots of fires, roasted hotdogs, and even made smores. Once Settlers and camping in the living room got old we resorted to old favorites like Murder and Sardines. (Again, if you have not played these games, then get a group of friends together as fast as you can and start playing.)
We have an awesome group of friends who are up for almost any game or activity we suggest. I’ve got to say playing these games as a child is fun, but playing as adults (wine included) is even better!
Sometimes our silly games got old and I had to take a few breaks to snuggle with the animals. Wilmer the cat (formerly known as Wilma) is a giant cat who loves living in the wild, but comes in every night to snuggle up and be loved on by her his many adorers. The dog is Rorik, and he is GORGEOUS.
When the pets were busy, I snuggled up and played with my favorite boy in Tennessee.
We took this handsome little devil to a place called Pump It Up. This is an enormous facility full of bounce houses. Of course, his favorite part was a machine that creates wind after you insert $2. The best part is that we never had to insert any money. He was happy to just stand in the little tunnel and spin around in circles. ALL of us were thoroughly exhausted by the time we left.
By the end of the week, Husband was antsy to get outside for a more adventurous game with our friends. His game of choice: paintball. Not just any paintball, but sniper paintball. Here’s how we play:
Someone (i.e. the boys) set up a course outside. The course has a starting area, a base, for the players (the criminals?) to hide behind, and leads up to a flag. One person is selected as the sniper (a lucky person…usually, almost always, a girl). The sniper is stationed near the flag, but not too close. The players/criminals goal is to capture the flag and bring it back to their base without getting shot. Only one person has to survive for the team to win. The sniper has exactly 12 paintballs to shoot with, so he/she cannot just shoot wildly.
It is a scary game, but it is A LOT of fun. Plus, if you wear enough layers it does not hurt (very much) when you get shot.
And that is how I spent quality time with my BFF’s in Nashville. Cannot wait to go back!
NYC offers a lot of free activities during the summer. There are movies played on big screens in the park, puppet shows, dance shows, theatre shows, and numerous classes. The majority of these events take place in the big city parks. I had planned on taking advantage of all these free events this summer, but I did not consider the fact that I was going to be out of town over half of the summer.
All of a sudden it’s the end of July and another school year is creeping up on me. ( I swear that summer vacation is much more fun as an adult….although, they also fly by much faster.) Today, I decided to take advantage of the summer in the city before it’s gone and time to break out my Autumn wardrobe. My first venture into free park-classes was a yoga class at Bryant Park. The only thing I knew about this class is that it starts at 6pm, it’s free, and yoga mats are provided. I was worried that either a) no one would be there and I’d be stuck in a one-on-one instruction with a yogi, or b) that a million people would be there and I wouldn’t have space or a mat. I decided to get there a half hour early to check out the scene.
When I arrived, there were about 50 people spread out among a couple hundred mats. Lucky for me, there was an empty mat in the very front row and center. I sat down next to a middle-age woman who was also trying the class for the first time. She was actually on vacation, and it turns out she works out every day no matter what, and especially on vacation. I told her she was crazy, but I admired her dedication.
Class began when a petite guy with a ponytail picked up a microphone and began telling us how beautiful it is to being doing yoga on the grass in the middle of the city. “Open your ears to the sounds of the city while connecting your body to the Earth and show your love for both.” This guy was a really good yoga teacher, but used a little too much “yoga-ese” for my taste.
I love yoga because it makes me feel relaxed, happy, and like I’m doing something really wise and mature, but often I wish it was silent yoga. The corny phrases are just so ridiculous that I often laugh out loud. I’ll look around expecting others to give me that “I know right?! Who talks like that!” glance, but instead I get the “What the hell are you laughing at?” glare.
Some of my favorite phrase used today were… “Soften your skin”, “Melt your bones into the Earth”, and “Spread the wings of your heart.”
I mean…seriously, that’s funny. Right?
About halfway through yoga…somewhere between downward dog and chair pose… I glanced around the park and realized there were about 400 people in the yoga class! In front of me, there were hundreds of people taking pictures, or just sitting in the park chairs watching. Who could blame them? The whole thing looked pretty impressive and bizarre. It would be impossible for any tourist or local to walk by the park and not notice hundreds of people chanting and moving in sync.
By the time we bowed our heads and said “namaste”, I was feeling pretty darn good about myself. It’s rare that I feel calm any given day, but to be laying in the grass at 6 pm, one block away from Time Square, eyes shut, and have nothing but positive thoughts running through my mind is an incredibly unique experience. I’m positive I’ll try this again, and hopefully some other classes too. Maybe tai chi? Painting in the park? Or Kub!?!?!
I mentioned in a Hilton Head post that our family LOVES to play a Swedish game called Kub. Much to our surprise, Kub classes and games are offered right in the middle of Bryant Park! NYC is constantly surprising me with the many adventures it has to offer.
No one can ever complain about being bored in this town. Money or not, there is ALWAYS something to do.
When we first got to our rental beach house in Hilton Head, SC we thought “Holy Crap this place is enormous!”. We ran from room to room to room to room. The place has 8 bathrooms! After checking out all of the rooms and opening every drawer in the kitchen, we went outside to check out the deck.
The second level deck was equipped with a grill, sink, bar, several chairs, 2 tables, a hot tub, and the teeniest pool you ever did see. This little bitty pool in the middle of our giant house became the running joke of our vacation. The funniest part being that it was a very poorly constructed infinity pool.
From the outside it looked so lovely…a nice gentle waterfall flowing over the edge of the deck into a fountain on the ground.
However, the second anyone stepped into the pool it caused a wave to rush over the edge, miss the fountain, and land in the grass and flower beds below. Considering we picked up on this little fact pretty quickly, you’d think we would all be extra careful in our little pool.
No, we are all children. Instead, we decided to make the biggest wave possible, and flood the entire yard.
Our immature ways didn’t end here. We basically spent all of our pool time figuring out new ways to play with the ridiculous pool/fountain. Sometimes we’d make up games, like “Who can avoid getting knocked over by the wave” or “Who can fill their cup the fastest”. Other times, we would just force each other to stand in the fountain or swim across while everyone else jumped in the pool.
We may have been wasting a lot of water, but we made up for it by recycling our plastics. I think that evens out.
Husband and I love traveling more than anything, and as I keep mentioning, we always travel to a new place so that we will one day reach our goal of traveling to every country in the world. These trips are so adventurous and fun, but are rarely relaxing. As much as we enjoy hopping around the globe, our favorite destination (yes, even more than Disney…well maybe….) is a place we visit every summer…Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
Hilton Head is an actual vacation for us. Husband’s family has taken an annual summer trip to Hilton Head since the beginning of time. For the last 400 years (give or take a few) the entire extended family has rented one huge house together, and done basically the same exact things they do each summer. It’s a beautiful tradition.
Each Hilton Head morning I wake up early, not because I have to, but because I want to get up. I am so well rested and so excited to start the day. A few mornings I actually woke early enough to take a walk on the beach before dawn, watch the sunrise, and search for turtle tracks. I wasn’t lucky enough to find baby turtles making their way to the ocean, but it was still fun to walk around the nests in hopes of seeing them.
Then, by the time I return to the house the coffee fairy has made a fresh pot of coffee, just waiting for me. It’s magical. For breakfast I have the option of walking about two blocks to pick up fresh croissants from “The French Kiss” bakery with Grandma, or making myself some eggs and toast. I spend the next hour reading and drinking my coffee in the comfy living room, wrapped in cozy blanket, (I just love central air conditioning!) waiting for everyone else to get up.
Around 8:30am a group of us normally want Starbucks and we often take about a mile bike ride to the closest Starbucks together, because one coffee at 6am is certainly not enough.
By the time we get back with our coffees and 3 copies of the New York Times, the rest of the family is up and it’s time to hit the beach. Our beach routine goes like this: swim, see how long we can volley the ball to each other (I think the record was 42…we aren’t the most athletic family), get out and either build a giant sand castle or play a crazy Scandinavian game.
Our Finnish family/friend lady introduced us to a really fun game that is similar to bowling called Molkky, which we’ve played for years now. Last summer, while visiting other friends in Sweden we were taught to play another game called Kub, which is unlike any game I’ve ever played.
Lots of us are really competitive and these games become very intense. We scream, argue with each other, makeup team names, cheer for our teammates, attract a crowd of strangers, finish by saying “We can’t play this stupid game anymore!”, but always play again the next day.
After everyone is sunburnt and starving we head back to the house to cool off in the pool and make enormous sandwiches with potato bread for everyone. (Hilton Head is the one time of year where everyone forgets the healthy 100% whole grain bread, and indulges in the yellow soft potato bread.)
The afternoon is spent either going on a very long bike ride through the shady tree-lined sidewalks decorated with tons of Spanish moss, reading by the pool, or more swimming. Also, the coffee fairy shows up again each afternoon and makes large glasses of vanilla flavored iced coffee! It miraculously appears next to me as I sunbathe in a beach chair with a book in my hands. What could be better?
Each night we wash all the saltwater, sand, in chlorine off to pretty ourselves up for a nice dinner in town, or sometimes a homemade dinner at home. Once everyone is stuffed and maybe a little tipsy, we force the whole family to play games together.
Our favorite games are charades and Scattegories, and we introduced half the family to “murder” this year. These games are all played in a similar fashion to the games played on the beach, but no one takes the yelling or competition too seriously, just serious enough to loudly announce your score, jump up and down, and dub yourself the “Scattergories queen”.
And, the whole day ends so perfectly… each night I lay in my comfy large bed with the AC turned way low, the fan on high, and the cable TV on E! Coming from our hot loft, window-unit AC, non-cable Television, teeny-weeny apartment, I feel like I’m in the lap of luxury and fall asleep to the sound of the Kardashian’s planning their next family trip. Perfect.
The only downside to Hilton Head is that Husband and I are sad that it has to end. I’m on the way home now, typing away as my ears pop on the plane, and already looking forward to Hilton Head next year.
*I had every intention of keeping up the blog while on vacation, but it somehow kept slipping my mind. Damn coffee fairy, I blame her for distracting me. Hope you all had a great week!