Tulum

We are back in the U.S! I don’t know why I put an exclamation mark there. It’s not like I was dying to leave a beach house in Mexico. 

But here we are! Sorry for the silence while we were gone. I had internet access, but the downside to picking the coldest room in the house was that the internet didn’t reach it. The living space had internet, but going out there tended to distract me with scenery and ocean breezes and hammocks. Sorry. But not really. 

Our trip was marked with adventures planned and unplanned! We went swimming in cenotes, many of which we shared with multiple hundreds of bats. We ziplined, and rock-climbed, rapelled, snorkeled, and kayaked! 

We were also briefly pulled over by police while driving. Yikes. 

We also relaxed a lot. We had four hammocks and multiple lounge chairs. We had a back porch and two terraces. Our beach spot was private and we had a small pool. I napped at least twice. I read books. 


Finally, we took in some history. First we drove out to Chichen Itza and toured the ruins there. We eventually ran by the Tulum ruins as well, but most of us overheated quickly and we had to cut that trip a little short. 


Oh, and of course we ate all the food. We actually ate at home every other night. The house came with a caretaking couple and Gabriela fed us homemade meals of empanadas, fajitas, and chile rellenos. 

We also had several great meals out, but I didn’t really take note of where. I think we had Mateo’s and Oscar and Lalo’s. 

We also had really good stuff at a couple of restaurants we chose only because they were positioned to catch a nice cross breeze. At least once we all kept our feet in our seats because two iguanas came around hoping for lunch. Iguanas were everywhere, but these two guys actually came right over to us to the point of comical discomfort. We actually had four daily iguana friends at our house. Albert, Icky, and Spikey? I think that’s what we called them. The fourth had no name. 

We also saw multiple bird species, snakes, bats, some sort of red raccoon thing, and a rodent with a rabbit butt and capybara head. I could probably look this stuff up. There were also thousands of yellow and brown butterflies. 

It was a very nice time. I’ll try to throw up some links tomorrow. Oh, did I mention the shells? I’ve never seen such a beach for shells. 

Let’s Pack!

Disclaimer: Please ignore my unmade bed in this series. No excuse. I’ve just been doing other stuff so far today. 

We’re about to head to Mexico, and having fallen for the ease of never checking bags last year in Europe, we are using the same small Osprey packs for this trip. Think I can do it? 


This is actually considerably more than I need for a week in Mexico with access to a washing machine, but Rolo and I will also be going to Arkansas for a month afterward and I want some options if I can fit them in the bag. 

Pictured:

1 jeans, 2 shorts, 1 black skirt, 2 sundresses, 1 bathing suit coverup, 3 shoes, 3 bathing suits, 6 outer shirts, 2 under tanks, 1 cardigan, 1 complete workout outfit, 6 underwear, belt. 

Not pictured: 

The clothes I will wear on the plane and double as pajamas or serve additional purposes (joggers, long sleeve shirt, tennis shoes), toiletries, additional pair of shoes I hope to take if room, a bra because I forgot until later. Also just off camera? 

A pretty hacked off fella that was pretty sure we already traveled recently. 

How’d I do? 

Shirts: 

Pants and shirts: 



All three bathing suits, underwear, shoes, and belt:


Dresses and sweater:


Is there room to spare? 



I get that additional pair of shoes! The top pocket is my toiletry space. 

I don’t know why I get a kick out of economy packing, but I do. Sadly, this guy was less pleased by the process when he realized he didn’t have a spot in the bag after all. 


Sulking. 

Her Social Calendar

We’ve officially reached the age where I no longer have to come up with creative ways to pass summer days with my child. She can take care of that all by herself thank you very much. Here’s just a smidge of what Rolo has going on so far. 

She has a few science projects going…

She asked to measure the rainfall.

And her activities include an impromptu (very) picnic at the playground followed by some very serious weed arranging. We found out late last week that several of her school friends go to a daycare that take them to this playground daily. Now she directs me here every chance we get. 


Speaking of friends, she saw some of those same friends when we went to Wonder Woman on Saturday and she SAT WITH THEM! I legitimately thought I had a few more years before that happened. At one point she got up in the middle of the movie and whisper yelled “BATHROOM” at us two rows behind her, but the sound startled everyone in the theater. 

Rolo also took it upon herself to get her “BFF’s” phone number when we ran into her and her mother at the library last week. Now we have a play date on Wednesday. 

I still have a checklist of activities she has to accomplish each day, but I have pretty much officially become the chauffeur/chaperone. I don’t know how to feel.

Meanwhile, Eliot is dealing with summer exactly how he handles every single other day of the year.

Cookie Wednesday

Did you know you can make sugar cookies out of funfetti cake mix? You can. You might wish I hadn’t told you though. 

How pretty are these? So pretty. 


Maybe don’t frost them per the recipe though. Definitely do NOT give your child free reign over the sprinkles. Or do. Had I kept them without frosting and sprinkles I might not have been able to stop at one. Okay two. 

Three. 

What We Ate

We go to Vegas for three reasons. 1. Sun 2. Convenience 3. Food. 

Yes, there are thousands of vacation destinations on my mental list that I would love to get to at any given time, but few are as easy and convenient for us here in Fairbanks as Las Vegas. So let’s talk about what we ate because that is always my favorite part of any vacation. Presented in order of meal times, not enjoyment. 

Breakfast –

The Egg and I

This comes up as the number one off strip breakfast option in most searches and for good reason. The menu is vast. It ranges from traditional American options to Mexican and Hawaiian options as well. Sergio was the winning order with green chile pork Huevos Rancheros, but we all had excellent food. 

Hash House A Go Go

Popular, multiple in-casino locations, and good food. I feel like it’s popularity might have more to do with indulgent size to price ratios  than over the top taste but definitely not a wasted meal. We paid less for this meal than we do an average Fairbanks breakfast and literally any one of our plates could have fed the entire family. 

Crown Bakery

I’m going to call this my favorite discovery of the trip, but I realize that my “discovery” is the top google search for “best bakery in Las Vegas,” so not really a discovery. This bakery is in Chinatown and worth driving to. Most of my favorite Vegas places and activities are off strip. Rent a car. We tried several more things than are shown here.

 

Lunch –

In n Out Burger 

Single biggest reason we vacation west coast. Finally got a chance to order secret menu items. Animal style burgers, neopolitan shake, root beer float. Yum. YUM! 

Lunch or Dinner – 

Dragon Noodle

Perfectly good Chinese food that you can walk right into without planning ahead. 

Hooters

After a few days of fancy food, I was dying to indulge my craving for wings and other fried things. I have such a secret soft spot for Hooters wings and Lots a Tots. I’m so glad my friends were happy to indulge me in this craving. Don’t judge me. 

China Poblano

We ate here the last time we were in Vegas and loved it. It was still very good, but the item that stood out in my memory was no longer on the menu. There was also a rare full miss with one thing we ordered at the table (fried potatoes with mole sauce – just bland) which was a bummer. Unexpected highlight: lotus chips appetizer. I really recommend the China side of China Poblano to the Poblano side. Or to put it more simply, it’s all good, but the Chinese food is better than the tacos. 

Momofuku

You can’t go wrong with one of the top restaurants around! I wish I had ordered more steamed pork buns, but the ramen was also great. My favorite thing turned out to be the roasted shishito peppers appetizer. Not that anything was better than the roasted pork belly, but the peppers were just so pop-able. I want more! 

Libertine Social

This was my favorite meal of the trip. We ate off of the “boards” portion of the menu. Cheese plate, sausage plate, pretzel and fondue, and the thing that made me happy to my core, a Parmesan, egg, and black truffle pizza. So decadent and rich. This restaurant was in our hotel or we might not have found it, but it deserves to be widely known.

Dessert –

Ghirardelli

Rosalind’s top request for places from the last trip that she wanted to return to. We got a variety of chocolates for the week and made two trips here for ice cream.

Momofuku Milk Bar

The dessert side of Momofuku. Everything we tried was excellent. 

Hexx 

A chocolatier on the strip that takes their chocolate from bean to bar on site. They give you a tasting just like a beer or wine flight. I don’t appreciate dark chocolate and so mostly observed the others, but it was a fun experience. Rosalind also had a red cream soda ice cream float from here because there is no such thing as too much ice cream on vacation. Right? 

Barrons In The Sun

I fully plan to write a “What We Ate” post in a day or two, but here are a few pictures of where we’ve been this long weekend. We ended up taking a little impromptu vacation to Las Vegas to hang with friends. It was lovely and warm. The only things making it tolerable to go back to Alaska are that I want to see Eliot, and we are headed out of town toward more sun again in only about ten days! 

Teeth to Toes

Getting braces is really all about looking your absolute best the whole time. 


Notice her teal shirt, teal and dusky blue brackets, and for good measure…


…matching teal toes because she did so well and tonight we are getting on a plane and tomorrow we will be somewhere that it’s a hundred degrees and those toes will see the light of day for a change. 

Different Sorts of Achievements

As a teacher, I know a thing or two about not rewarding negative behaviors which is why it came as a surprise to me that the response from my husband when I destroyed my truck through calculated neglect was to say we should buy a new car. Like a new new car. Not a new to us car. Guys, meet Blue-baru (name change likely). 


She’s so fancy! There are so many screens to contend with that I have to mentally prep myself on which things control which screens before I take off. I gave up on the SIX manuals and watched two very helpful YouTube clips in order to set the clock and sync our garage door to the car. Most importantly she’s AWD, under warranty, and has two buttons that mean if she breaks down, it’s someone else’s problem for a change. Adulting so hard! 

In other weekend news, Rolo’s piano teacher gave her a trophy for Achievement in Excellence (hard work) over this piano season. Rosalind was very pleased. 

Oh, right! Rolo and I are also officially on summer break now. Woot. 

I’ve Met Someone New

Happy Mother’s Day!

My holiday weekend was nice and relaxing and went a long way toward making up for a pretty crappy preceding week. I won’t get into the gritty details, but I will tell you that on Monday I had to pick up Sergio from the side of the road when his car broke down and by Friday I was having my truck towed from the staff parking lot. Again.

We also had a brief downer when our babysitter, that we had booked a month in advance, told me at 9:30 the evening before we needed her that she could no longer come. Luckily she was able to get a friend to come in her place and our night out was saved. So that one worked itself out and was actually a non-event, but for a few hours it felt like the cherry on top of a crappy week sundae.

It all turned around when we headed out to attend my Mother’s Day gift which was a David Sedaris reading. He came to Fairbanks! Tiny Fairbanks! Where the biggest venue we have is the auditorium of a high school! There were parts of the night that felt so Fairbanksesque that it made me laugh/cringe. For example, when the director of these events came out to introduce Sedaris and her mic didn’t work, so she just yelled at us all conversationally and the audience just yelled back amiably. Or the fact that all the refreshment options were various clubs from the high school selling things like water and ice cream in the school cafeteria by the trophy case (because that is where we all line up to go inside).

On the other hand, I got to meet David Sedaris this time! There were a couple of roadblocks to this happening four or five years ago when we last attended one of his readings in Fayetteville. First, the line was extremely long. Way too long for us to get to him before the show and way too long for us to wait after the show. The other roadblock was myself. I already have a pretty big hurdle to overcome in believing that my presence in someone’s general vicinity isn’t unwelcome. It’s why I hesitate to knock on closed doors, or interrupt cashiers at stores, or really any number of things where I come upon people without an invitation. On top of that, I’m a firm believer in not meeting people you admire because they are likely not able to live up to your expectations. So the last time I had a chance to get a book signed and chat with one of my favorite authors, I didn’t even want to!

Over the years I’ve seen a number of things that told me Sedaris is delightful to meet in a book signing line. He takes time with each person, stays until everyone gets their book signed and is very kind. That went a long way toward easing my general social anxiety. As I’ve aged, I’ve also realized that I don’t need people I admire to meet any particular expectations. As long as he didn’t yell at me, I would probably survive the encounter with my love of his writing intact.

Since the line seemed doable, we tried for getting a book signed. We had to wait until after the show, but I’m glad we did it. I’m still who I am as a human being, so I’m sure I walked up with scared puppy look on my face. We said hello and he saw my post-it with my name spelled out on it and started telling me about his friend Dawn that he had dedicated a book to. He said she had gone to China and that they couldn’t pronounce our name, so they gave her a different name meaning “friendship flower.” This is how he signed my book.

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We went on to discuss human feces, spit, places we’ve traveled, and the cost of our luggage as compared to his. It was pretty much perfect.

He talked to us (and every guest) for at least five minutes. He has such a knack for putting people at ease and making conversation. If the ball had been all in my court, I would definitely have asked him how his day had been, stared awkwardly for a second and then yanked my book back and left. I would have lost sleep over the encounter for years. I don’t know how he does it. Just that amount of social interaction alone would have me crawling under the table every third person so that I could decompress.

It wasn’t all about the book signing, of course. We enjoyed the show immensely. Whenever he next passes through whatever city I happen to be living in, I’ll go again.

The rest of the weekend saw Rolo and Sergio taking good care of me. This morning Rosalind insisted they provide me breakfast and balloons, but when they woke up too late (in her opinion) to both buy groceries and then cook breakfast, they brought home Starbucks and three McDonald’s pancake and sausage platters. It tickled me immensely and totally hit the spot.

Rosalind was also willing to share the burden of these cheese fries with me at lunch. She let me have the very bottom one that swam in cheese sauce the whole time. I like her.

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I hope everyone out there, mom people or non-mom people, had as nice a weekend as my people gave me.