Bipolar Scavenger Hunt

My friend, J, turned 29 this past weekend. So, in the spirit of her 20s, she threw a 1920s party/scavenger hunt. I was stoked. It’s like mixing Halloween with Easter and sprinkling a bit of Dance Party USA on top. R and I spent the week prior trying to find cheap accessories and ended up using a lot of stuff we already had, which always makes me happy.

We got ready over at N’s house. I’m not used to being boxed out in a bathroom, but I had to throw some ‘bows to see the mirror with these guys around. But I thought they both looked great! … with their pencil-thin mustaches and dapper suits. We were ready to go.

three amigos

I was the first to enter the party, and noticed that basically we and the host were the only people dressed up. For a split second, I thought it was a joke on us, just to see if we’d show up like this. Well, we embodied the reverse snobbery of looking at them like they were crazy. I mean, come on! Be silly!

So J had the good idea of splitting up the teams herself in order for people to get to know each other. Then, at the after-party, we wouldn’t cling to our normal groups and would mingle more. Genius. So she grabbed a microphone and announced the teams. N and I ended up being in the same car. I was both excited and scared. The last scavenger hunt we were in, I was the driver, and well.. let’s just say I shouldn’t drive in day-to-day life, let alone in a race competition. Poor J had started off in the front seat and eventually had to move to the back because she didn’t want to actually see the moments before she died.
None of the people in our group had a car, therefore we didn’t have a driver. J had to call her friend to come over and as soon as he opened the door, we shoved him back down the porch steps while introducing ourselves. Turns out he drove a two door, very small, very tight car. There were five of us. I closed my eyes and jumped in.

Now this is where we started riding the emotional waves. We had such high hopes in the beginning. If we had interpreted the clue correctly, we would have ended up only a few blocks away at a landscaped waterfall area. Nope, A (the driver) and I found ourselves running a quarter mile down an overgrown dirt path with zero light. Eventually we decided this wrong and turned back around. Where did we go next? Well, a car dealership. You know, they have landscaped corners. (???) The clue also mentioned that we would look for our next ORANGE clue at the destination. Well, what did we find? An orange truck! Under the truck was a fake tree inside a cardboard box. That must be it! We parked the car, grabbed the box and started tearing through it. Uh, no. There were car parts in it. And we could just start to hear the faint sound of police sirens trying to find 5 kids hijacking a car dealership. We were sad. But mostly because we realized that we should never be detectives.

happy, then sad.
Eventually, we found the right place and based on the two envelopes remaining, decided that two other teams hadn’t arrived yet.


We grabbed our bag and read the next clue which involved finding addresses of certain locations and using those numbers in a math equation. Okay, only I was sad about that. Hey — I’m a language major, leave me alone. We found out that one of our teammates was actually in law enforcement and used his connections (i.e. 9-1-1) to call dispatch for those addresses. We laughed so hard when the first thing that came out of his mouth was “Hey — it’s so & so. I’m off duty right now, but could you give me the address to Priscillas?” Is this where our tax money is going?? We were happy, though.

After a few more clues, we got stumped. It was a crossword puzzle that spelt out the next destination. One of the words we figured out (but only after I swore everyone was wrong — I hate when that happens) was ‘Daddy’. A few blocks down we saw a sign that had the word Daddy in it…and even though the second word didn’t match up, we still went in. No one could figure it out, so I bought a round of drinks. N was not happy with that. He wasn’t sad either. He was mad.

This was at the height of N’s anxiety. He was furious and when we finally figured out the second word (“Cakes”) he ripped everyone in that small little car a new one. You would’ve thought the market had just crashed or something.


This is a fast-forward (Amazing Race lingo, sorry) to the next day when I made N take a blood pressure test. He ended up being in the Hypertension category. I took mine and I was in Pre-Hypertension. I blamed it on N’s yelling the night before.

After heading to a couple more destinations, we arrived at a movie theatre and saw that, even though we thought we were last, there were still 2 more clues at the site…. indicating that more people were behind us. Happy!! We weren’t last!!

We were on a really big high when we showed up at the end. We walked in and saw…

everyone else from the party.

We were last, by about 45 minutes. There were just extra clues at every spot. Everyone laughed at us.


cheer up charlie
We ended the night hanging out a friend of J’s house. We intermittently checked on N to make sure he wasn’t going to do bodily harm on himself. R hung out in non-1920s chair most of the night. We had driven in from Arkansas and were pretty beat from the emotional roller coaster. I thought his outfit was cute though. He brought his bowler hat that is technically from 1931. No one noticed the faux pas.

I won best outfit though.


You’re a Jerky.

After we left Sedalia in the a.m., we met up with R’s brother N for lunch. We don’t get to see him much (even though we’re going to Topeka tomorrow and will again), but we had an appointment to talk shop. And talk shop we did…. over a nice greasy hamburger, which was much needed after a night of board games.

We figured up a three-year financial plan to coincide with his graduation. Down to the point that we now have a shared google document in order to keep each other accountable. And by the end of it? Well, hopefully we’ll be living closer together, yet faraway from everyone else… if that makes any sense. But as my mom always says… If you wanna make God laugh, (say it with me) just tell Him your plans. So with that in the back of our thoughts, we forge ahead anyway.
N, R, and I are also going to embark on a year long project which we haven’t nailed down just yet. By the end of this weekend we should have it. More details to come.

Food! Nom..nom..nom!
Afterwards, we jumped into the car for our trek home. On the way we stopped to pick up something R found on Craigslist…. a dehydrator. N gave us a recipe for very good (and low sodium) beef jerky and R was biting at the bit to try it. But first we had to drive through some nice countryside. I decided I like the dead grass. It made the scenery look like an old photograph.

And of course, I can’t get enough of white farm houses.

As soon as we got home, R tried out the machine and, my goodness, our house reeked. I had the day off, which I thought beforehand was fortunate…but after smelling that for hours on end, I started to envy Mr. R. The end result was worth it though. I can’t wait to try out other things in it…. Like tomato powder…. You can turn it into sauce, paste, soup, so many things. Can’t wait!

Once-a-year Dinner

Really. Only once a year. And I think we completely skipped over 2008. Weird how time is flying by.

After driving for 4 hours through a wonderful Missouri landscape, letting R sleep, and me soaking in the scenery, we arrived in Sedalia to our friends, L & T’s, house. We showed up shortly after the other caravan, and as we walked up to the door, a pile of kids came sauntering outside. I weaved my way through the tiny group and eventually made it to the front door. L laughed that, after we saw all the kids, she was afraid we would turn right around and drive home. The roomful of children was sticker shock, for sure, …but more like a scratch-n-sniff sticker rather than a deer-in-the-headlights shock. Times have changed, my friends, and that’s just fine. If the new times include dancing with dolls to the Oldies and listening to stories being read in all corners of the house, I’m happy with it thank you very much.

That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take me awhile to fit in with the younger crowd, though. I wandered around the house for a bit and caught some wary looks from a few of the peanuts. They weren’t too sure of me and my fears were confirmed when a boy started crying after I laughed. Apparently, times have not changed, my friends, and I guess that’s fine too.

At one point, I looked around to find R playing with the magnetic letters on the fridge. I guess he can easily fit in with any crowd, old or young.

Not too long afterwards, we made R grow up by about 25 years and help the carve the turkey (yes — turkey!!). We started off with cheese & crackers and then went straight for the gusto. If this didn’t make up for 2008, I don’t know what would. All of the classic Thanksgiving trimmings without the “I have to get into a swimsuit soon” guilt. I was in heaven, and that was unfortunate for everyone involved. Just read the “About Me” section of the blog to get the full idea of how my portion of the night went.

After dinner (and after the kids went to sleep), we all headed downstairs to play some board games. Cranium was the game of choice and it wasn’t how well someone did that everyone got a kick out of, it was how badly skilled we were that was the clincher.

S showed off her rendition (left) of a scarecrow, next to R’s drawing of the same clue. By the end, no matter who was supposed to draw, we all ended up just looking at R’s paper to try and guess. I found my ‘moose’ masterpiece stabbed through the heart later on as well. Our lack of skills really brought the passion out in people. R spent the ride home giving me tips on how to draw. Really. He had the gall to say “You know, the clue with the fly-swatter. Where you went wrong was the fly itself. You should stick to drawing a heart and then adding a little dot at the tip.” Oh, okay. I’ll remember that R. (Whatever. I like my mini seagulls.)

All in all, a good night. I can always count on L’s small baskets of shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel along with reading material within arms-reach of my bed. The next day we had to leave early for two detours en route to Arkansas. Both were enjoyable in their own ways. More to come.

Taking it easy.

We’re hitting the road this weekend and so we’ve got to rest up. R wasn’t feeling too hot last night, so I decided tonight to fall back on a classic. Soup & grilled cheese. I hardly ever crave soup unless I’ve got a cold or someone else does. Sympathy pains, I guess. I tried my hand at a new recipe: cream of mushroom. As you can tell, it’s more mushroomy than creamy probably because it calls for a hand-blender which I don’t have. About 7 years ago, my sisters got one for Christmas and I got a cabbage patch doll or something, I can’t remember — but I was in my twenties. I do remember the blenders, though, and I had my eye on those puppies. Trying to somehow blame the fact that this soup did not come out creamy because of that Christmas morning is working. In the end, the soup didn’t turn out so bad.. and the bits of mushroom were a tasty bite. I’d still like to try it again creamy.

The broccoli was a last-minute addition since I can’t stand not having color on my plate.
Right after dinner, we got a knock on our door. It was our craigslist guy delivering a very special item. My dresser! Can you believe we have been living out of plastic bags for the past 4 months? It made the room never quite feel “moved in”, so we were excited to head into that direction furniture-wise.

It also gave R an excuse to accuse me of being a 72 yr-old in a 28 yr-old body, so yes, he was excited. The age of the dresser is unknown, however there is a tag on the back indicating it’s a Basset dresser made in Massachussettes. “Chest #615” is stamped on the back which makes me wonder if that might mean it was the 615th chest made? I’m liking this little guy because of just that. It’s small…. smaller than what I used to have. Why do I like that, you ask? Because it will force me to chuck clothes I no longer wear. One more step in the simplification of Carolyn. The ornate detail should help make up for that. R, on the other hand wants to buy a dresser that takes up an entire wall. So, unless I’m careful, all of the clothes I can’t fit into mine will migrate into his. And there the cycle would begin again.

After I put my clothes away, we watched an episode of Lost and then R spent some time trying to get in contact with his friends from Australia. He studied there in college and the fires have spread all around where he used to live. From the stories I’ve read, it is just heart-wrenching how quickly the fires spread and how many people have already lost their lives to it. We’re quiet in our thoughts tonight, hoping his friends and their loved ones are safe.

I am officially cross-eyed

Yes, cross-eyed and frustrated. A deadly combination. Now that I am without TV and R and I have run out of things to talk about, I’ve tried to find other interests (i.e. baking)..and now knitting. I bought this book a couple weeks ago purely based on the title. I figured if I could have a 50% lead going into knitting/stitching, I’d have a better shot at it.

If any of you knew me during my “women’s studies” phase in college (a hard core mentality that only lasted, oh…about 2-3 years, yet some remnants still linger), you’re probably laughing at the idea of me quietly knitting on the couch at night. I giggled too, until I read the introduction to this book and it quickly shut me up…. So if you’ll allow me to stir things up on Cue the Banjo, please read below…

“[When describing her experience of letting her friends know she had taken up knitting] Soon it occurred to me that if I had told these folks I’d been playing soccer, or learning karate, or taken up carpentry, they most likely would have said, “Cool,” because a girl doing a traditionally male activity — now, that’s feminist, right? But a girl doing a traditionally female acitvity — let alone one as frivolous and time-wasting as knitting — well, what were they to make of that?

It made me think of my original feminist position. … Why was [knitting] so looked down on? It seemed to me that the main difference between knitting and, say, fishing or woodworking or basketball, was that knitting had traditionally been done by women. As far as I could tell, that was the only reason it had gotten such a bad rap. And that’s when it dawned on me: All those people who looked down on knitting — and housework, and housewives — were not being feminist at all. In fact, they were being anti-feminist, since they seemed to think that only those things that men did, or had done, were worthwhile.”

Having this little boost of sassiness integrated into the hobby helped me maintain my patience… when, after an hour of practicing, I could only successfully do cast-ons. This is the step prior to actually knitting. Every time I started to knit, all of those nice cast-ons would slide right off the needle, leaving everything unravelled. I told my friend on the phone today (K — also a knitter), that I would be quite happy with a small dishcloth. Now I’m hoping for a one-inch swatch of fabric… and a one-inch square seems daunting to me at this moment.

My cast-ons. The beginning of a beautiful, luxurious swatch.

Carb-Loaded Sunday

Yesterday was a busy day for me in the kitchen. I attacked a bread recipe like my life depended on it. Determined not to be intimidated…and it worked. These were the first two loaves that I really enjoyed. R agreed. He said they were the best thing since sliced bread.

I know you’re sick of seeing my bread, but I don’t care.
Then I tried out a recipe for homemade granola from another blog that I read: Beauty that Moves. It turned out so yummy that even though it makes 20 cups, we’ve still managed to eat most of it. Here’s the recipe if any of you are interested: Homemade Granola.
Lastly, one of my favorite dinners, pizza: made with whatever I could find in the refrigerator. The weather was nice, we kept the windows open all day, and I was producing good food. Nothing beats it.

I ran out of energy.

When we made the trip back to Big Corn Island, we took the morning panga ride in hopes of catching an earlier flight to Managua. It didn’t work out, and since our scheduled flight wasn’t until the afternoon, we went back to the main strip to have brunch. While eating, a couple came in that we had seen around Little Corn Island and had chatted with here and there. We invited them to sit down with us and little did we know that two hours later we’d be chanting next to an energy vortex together.

This couple had heard there was a pyramid on Big Corn Island positioned as the “Soul of the World”. It’s not really a pyramid-pyramid, but the corner of a “cube” that would be sticking out of the earth if the cube had been implanted within the planet. Supposedly it was a type of energy vortex. This was hotly debated there and back.

But on we go. We were told the pyramid could be found in a children’s playground “up on that hill”.

We followed our chinese medicine doctors the way up. No really, that’s what they study, and it was quite interesting to hear them talk of healing the body in ways other than the conventional medicinal band-aids, if you will. Eventually we found the playground after climbing slippery hills made of lava rock. The rest of the group claimed to have felt the heat from the rock, but I only attributed it to my inappropriate footwear. Once there, beside the pyramid we found a diagram of the cube. It listed the other places where the tips could be found and R thought that would be a good excuse to travel to those places. Hey, we already saw one, let’s go find the other 7!

We also had to take time out to feel the energy. R was serenaded by a chant during his turn.

On the way back, we got caught in a nasty storm and marched one, two, three, four… sharing a poncho the whole way until a taxi found us. We parted ways at the airport, but not before I tried to get them to put their hands on my eyes and heal my crows-feet. Didn’t work.

We had to stay in Managua again due to our flight schedule and I enjoyed the complimentary robe (after wearing the same two outfits all week) and the nice bathroom.

Let’s revisit what I had been showering in for the week prior. Can I say, though, how much that didn’t matter? R and I keep discussing out how nice it was to be completely simplified during our stay in the hut. No frills, a few outfits, and breathing fresh air all day & all night. The hotel room stifled me in a way that only stale air and too much furniture does to you (i.e. our apt)…. despite the awesome hamburger & french fry dinner, along with chocolate shake, all while watching the rerun of Lost’s premiere — which was nothing but glorious! Since being home, we have lit up Craigslist and sold a bunch of stuff. We’re still not done, but getting there.

When we arrived at our connection in the U.S., we noticed there was another flight leaving in the next 20 minutes for our same destination. We spent 17 of those minutes haggling with the airline workers to allow us onto that earlier flight and NOT pay the $100 they were asking. When did they do away with stand-by tickets? Well, now you have to pay to make any changes.
Remember my non-laid back ways in scheduling trips? Because I had booked these tickets light years back, we questioned why this particular flight had not been an option when booking. If it had been, we would have chosen it. Anyway, that seemed to have sold him, and as he was printing off our boarding passes, he kept repeating “You’re taking a big risk. You’re not going to make it.” and at the same time, on the loudspeaker, we heard the call for final boarding. R and I looked at each other and thus the race started.

We turned and darted down the corridor, weaving in between people. We scooted past strangers down an escalator and apologized for hitting them with our bags, but we hAD TO MAKE THIS FLIGHT! Once we jumped off it, we saw the subway that would take us to the correct corridor’s doors were still open and we hopped in. Because I hadn’t known how long they had already been open, for a split second I thought it would close in on me and I’d never live to say how we saved 100 bucks just to get home a few hours earlier. Would it have been worth it. Why yes, yes it would have.

At the next stop, we ran up the escalator. Just a fyi: I was out of breath. R, Mr. Soccer Player, was like lightening. I looked at the people sitting on the sidelines and couldn’t help laughing at what I imagined them seeing. R had actually taken off his shoes by now (what’s this guy’s deal with barefeet and airplanes?) wheelin’ his luggage behind him. I, on the other hand, was wearing socks with my flip flops (fashion police!) because it would be cold in KC, and trying to run in them with a heavy bag on my back. So first they see R flying and then they see me 5 minutes later waddling behind him.

….all of that…. For this:
Now let me ask myself again. Was it worth it?


We got lost not once on Little Corn, but twice. TWICE. You can walk around the island in about 35 minutes, but that didn’t stop us from wishing we had a GPS system. When we hopped off the panga, we got general directions on how to get to Carlito’s, which was my first hut choice. In my first blog post, way back last year, I alluded to the fact that I am a planner. Not laid back at all. So when I called Carlitos this past summer to “reserve” a hut, the woman that answered kindly laughed. Really hard. She kept repeating the year in which we would be arriving. Was 6 months too far in advance? Guess so.

So even before lying on a beach for 7 days, I was already thrown into nonchalant mentality… even if I had to be dragged into it kicking and screaming.

We took the directions given to us and started down the main road, which in reality is a sidewalk (no cars are allowed on the island.)

After taking a few wrong turns and asking everyone we passed where the huts were, we finally made it. We snagged only one of a couple available.

There were constants that we noticed happening daily throughout the week. For one, I never brushed my hair. Secondly, we talked about food nonstop. Where shall we eat today, what shall we eat, wasn’t that meal good, can’t you just wait until tomorrow’s meals, why can’t tomorrow come more quickly, etc etc etc. Food was the surprising star of the trip.
More on that later.
Some other constants were:

Waking up to the sound of waves and watching the sun rise.
R washing the one shirt he wore all week.
After reading for a couple hours, taking a dip in the sea.

Lying in our netted bed to read while our sunburnt skin healed.

And lastly, playing Boggle every night after dinner (Can you believe I brought that in my carry-on? It made me giggle to myself). R was great competition and I don’t think I won once.

Another pastime was walking. and walking. and walking. We went everywhere on that island …trying to find coves to snorkel and relax by. The jungle we walked through was absolutely gorgeous though. And because of the small dirt paths, it felt like you were the only ones on this little place.

A random sand volleyball court.

R and I noticed a pattern in how we walk. I always look up and he always looks down. I can’t help trying to soak in everything around me, and R can’t help being practical with everything around him. One time, as normal, my eyes were to the sky and his were to the dirt. Thank goodness too, because I almost stepped right on a boa. I’m not exaggerating here. R screamed at me and pulled my arm back before I did.

Another day, we decided to head to a lookout tower. And yes, we got lost. We were cutting through random people’s yards when a father & son duo helped us out. We were probably walking all over their garden or something.

We finally made it and my heart palpitated a bit. Does anyone remember when R, his brother, and I went up the one in Arkansas? I think back and wonder why I was so scared. At least there were actual landings to brace yourself there. I forced myself up this one and was so glad I did.

I was gripping the pole with all my might. Notice my hair.

I mentioned how much we enjoyed the food. There was so much to choose from (and really, at the same time, not so much. It was pretty much the same food, just different preparation styles). My favorite snacks were the ‘pan de coco’ (coconut bread) and cinnamon bread. Children would go from hut to hut with their freshly baked goodies and we’d gobble them up (the bread, not the children. Although, from the look in my ravenous eye I’m sure they thought I lived in a gingerbread house back home.)

R discovered french toast all over again, with coconut syrup drizzled on pan de coco. It was a crowd pleaser and we got excited just thinking of it when we woke up in the morning. Good food does that to ya.

Our last night in LCI, we splurged and bought some of our favorites. The lobster, fish, and shrimp platter. The cook brought her husband over to double check her english skills, because she didn’t believe that we would order so much. We did and we loved it.

We said goodbye to LCI and made our way back to BCI for our flight home. We had met some interesting people while vacationing, a couple of whom we ran into again before we flew home. Up next: Searching for the soul of the world on Big Corn Island.