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.


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.


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.

Game Playin’ Family Pt 2

One of my favorite memories over the holidays was the Saturday after Christmas. I looked out the backyard window and saw ice on the trees. Yes, I thought, an excuse to stay in my pjs and not brush my hair.

My dad walks in the mornings with my mom’s brother & sister-in-law and this Saturday morning, they spontaneously came over for breakfast. I need to buy a lace tablecloth because it instantly dresses up a meal. We had egg casserole, bacon, rum cake pancakes, and fruit. Is there anything better??

I forgot to mention we had coffee too. LOTS of it. After our feast, we decided to play some dominoes and I caught a look in my uncle’s eyes that scared me. Uncle J + Coffee + Early morning walking = I now have three more eye wrinkles from laughing so much. We played 13 rounds of dominoes and that still didn’t stop us!

Soon after, we decided to have a Connect Four play-off. In the second round, my mom was seriously studying her next move while I was seriously trying to position my hair to cover up as much of my makeup-less face as possible.

My uncle J was not seriously doing anything. Notice the coffee cup.

I made it to the finals…and won. But that didn’t stop R for reminding me of my 2nd round loss to him (we had double eliminations, for your information). The result of that match reminded me of our rooftop chess session.. That’s okay, you can’t win all the battles.

Game-Playin’ Family Pt 1

My trip home over Christmas was three parts game playing to one part opening presents. Which, in my book, is just fine. The perfect present, to me, is doing things. I do appreciate everything given to me, though, and I think everything has already been used so far. Very thoughtful.

Our first night with the parents (you see, now we are guests and need a place to sleep instead of visiting for just the day and returning home the same night. I like this set-up much better, if you ask me.) involved a little debate, a little church, and a little Win, Lose, or Draw. The last of which is a given. I come from a long line of game players. My parents like a good poker game, my grandparents were card players as well. We even have evidence that my great-great-great grandfather liked them as well. He was a stowaway on a ship that came to America…and if that isn’t gambling, I don’t know what is. It’s in my blood. And I’ll shed it if I have to in order to win.

Look each other in the eye!
We clinked glasses filled with eggnog & whiskey and called for a good, clean night of playing. I think my dad was secretly trying to sabotage my much needed drawing skills, because after just a whiff of the drink I couldn’t see straight. He denies it, but don’t we all in times of battle?

Mom interpreted “clean fun” to mean not getting marker on the carpet.
My mother also tried to impair her competition’s judgement by having us use the biggest marker I’ve ever seen in my life. We did three rounds with it until one of us finally admitted to having the munchies due to the fumes.

We’re pretty serious throughout our games too. It’s not unusual to go to the dictionary during Scrabble, or to research rules on the internet while questioning someone’s move in other games. Finger-pointing and hands gently laid on people’s thighs are usually the first sign that a “we’re going to get to the bottom of this” flag has been thrown. I can’t remember what rule was broken in this round. R could have drawn into another square on the sheet of paper for all I know.

By the end of it, we were pretty exhausted. Or maybe we were faking it in order to cut our losses. Either which way, it was a good start to the week.

The Woodlands

My sister, A., and I went to the Woodlands today. It was the last day to bet before they closed the pens for good. I had never gone before and debated about wearing a bustle dress with a big floppy hat. Instead, I opted for my signature “is she attending a funeral somewhere?” outfit.

When we arrived, I was greeted with what I imagine NASA looked like in the 70s. Little cubicles with state of the art monitors watching the shuttle take off.

We had arrived several hours after the first race and wandered around the stadium sitting down at various tables before their owners came back to boot us off. Even if it was just a pen laying there, that meant the table was taken. And these people were ruthless. I mean, more so than if you cut in front of someone at Sizzler’s buffet.

Eventually one man got sick of watching our rigmarole and offered his table. We debated about ordering a Denny’s breakfast as the tables looked eerily similar. And what beats pancakes and gambling?
We were pretty excited about our first bet. A. ended up breaking even on this round. On the next, I won $30 for a $2 bet. I took my mom’s advice and put all my winnings in my purse. At the end of the day I was up $1.50. Nice for two hours of fun!
A man studying the menu, er- the odds of each greyhound. We brought the median age of the group down by about 40 years.
After spending just enough money, we started to wander around the complex. The lady at the entrance had told us there were no outdoor seating. And then we stumbled upon these benches! We felt outraged, put-on, and…
lonely. These weren’t exactly the popular seats. In comparison, the indoor stadium felt like Wall-E, with every one’s faces staring at a screen instead of watching something live.
We tried to bombard our way into where they keep the greyhounds, but Don was on top of his game. No way was he letting us past the ‘authorized’ area, you know, even though it was the last day. They stayed strong to the end. Let’s tip our hats to them, boys.
A. felt a kindred connection with Greyhound #6 after he “looked into my eyes, Carrie. I swear it” and wanted to go back in and bet on him. Or that might be the gambling addiction trying to find any excuse to play, A..
Instead, we stood on the side of the track and watched them to do a lap. It’s not until you can hear their paws pounding and their panting that you can appreciate the skills this particular breed of dog possesses. I hope they find good homes and don’t turn into something used to paste a kindergartner’s school project together. They really are beautiful.

Laugh it up at your Library

My mom has a bright turquoise t-shirt that says “Laugh it Up at your Library!” in big cartoonish letters. We usually end up just laughing at her and it instead of the library, but we like when the shirt makes an appearance all the same. You may recall in my earlier post my new-found object of affection, the Kansas City downtown library. Well, it drew me back only two days later. (I was never one to play it cool.)

R. & I headed out early last evening. It was a clear, mid-80s night. Absolutely perfect. We wandered around the 5 floors looking at various antique hutches and benches, and then came upon the children’s room. Oh, to be a child in an invigoratingly imaginative room. On either side of the entry way were pages of a book. As you walk in, you run into a sitting area with a felt tree that reaches the ceiling and little mushroom stools. I had to keep myself in check and not look under a stool for the Alice in Wonderland caterpillar. How I wanted to grab a book, lean against that man made patchwork tree, and read the day away. The ironic thing is that the only child in there was on the computer playing solitaire. So many friends around (albeit imaginative) and solitaire is the pastime of choice. To each their own.

After wishing I could turn back life’s clock, we wandered down to the basement. And to our delight, came across a tiny movie theatre located in the old vault. It was cleverly named “The Vault”. How have I not come across this in all of our cinematic travels? Don’t beat yourself up this late in the game, Carrie. Look to the future.

But, my most favorite morsel was on the top floor balcony… The life size chessboard. When I first saw it, memories of 5th grade came flooding back. My beau and I would sit in the back of the room everyday discussing hammerhead sharks while his knight flirted with my bishop. We later had a very serious break-up after our recess touch-football team lost to the 6th graders due to his tactical error. We almost had ’em. It still makes me upset.
Before playing, R. and I placed ourselves in the position of the piece we most embodied. He chose the pawn and slumped his shoulders. I chose the Queen. And not because I looked like a drag queen for senior prom, but because she has no direction. She just kind of wanders all over the board. The King & I got to know each other and like all of my relationships, it ended up being either hot or cold. One minute, we were snuggling up with each other…

..and the next I was yelling at him to clean up the bathroom, for god’s sake.

Even though I was content with my game board balcony…at one point during the match, I glanced around and saw an even higher rooftop with potted greenery. What was up there. Was there an even bigger chess game? Or even better, did it house a life size Connect Four?? What am I missing out on??? At that moment, R. yelled Checkmate….

…and this is what I saw. The board after our first game. Notice how many total pieces were captured and placed on the sideline. No, your eyes aren’t fooling you. There’s only one. That’s my pawn, who selflessly died protecting his king. Needless to say, I wasn’t laughing it up. But R. was.

Refreshing Weekend

This photo describes my weekend best. The feeling of cold, running water on tired, hot, & smelly feet. We had a long & harder than normal week which left us both feeling worn out. Nothing in particular happened, just one of those weeks. On the good side, it left us feeling mellow and quiet. Our road trips usually consist of us jabbering non-stop about the future, the past, and everything in between.. But this time we sat in silence. No radio, no voices… just watching the landscape roll by. At one point, though, we did have a staring contest with what we thought was a tiny alien on the hood of the car. Turned out it was the water sprayer for the windshield. It won.
As a reward for our vehicular decompression, we erupted in loud laughter at the sight of our welcome sign which included a photo of the horse from my previous post. I’d never noticed how forced my smile was. Foreshadowing the mountainside terror?

This is what we got to wake up to both mornings. Little J. & C. smiling nonstop (except for when Jack the frog escaped its box outside. We had to pause for some well-deserved lip trembles followed with questions about death & God.)

Saturday morning/afternoon, we headed for a state park and found a little nook of woods all to ourselves. We forgot half the food/drinks we meant to bring (even though we had 3 hours to pack), yet somehow survived. Instead we nibbled on a little of this and that, while trying to come up with nicknames for our husbands, who are both named R. It’s been rumored that I only married my R. b/c of his name in an attempt to model my entire life after K. (i.e. Single White Female). It all started with the dark-rimmed glasses junior year in college. Anyway, we came up with Slim and Twiggy. We tried to force it the entire day, but gave up after a few hours.

After lunch, we had a grueling water balloon toss. I employed the patented side lunge/volleyball dig (Coach B. would’ve been proud) while K. went for the standard Medjugorje stance. It probably would’ve taken a miracle for us to have a decent round.

Then, another exciting game of chase.
Followed by catch.
…And a walk through the creek. I managed to kidnap one of the peanuts on this journey.

This is a sign of a good day of fun.
But we still have the energy to take a classic self portrait. God forbid we go a day without one of those.

When we came home, some of us took naps, while the rest made cocktails. Namely, me & K. On the menu was pizza margherita with homegrown lettuce & arugula. I forgot to take photos of their garden which is bustling with beans, tomatoes, squash, eggplant, watermelon, & other stuff as well. Twiggy and I were salivating.

I made K demonstrate her heritage and got a great photo of Slim hollering out something in an italian accent as he slid the pizza onto the grill. He declined the opportunity to show his face on the blog, along with my husband. Which is why in all the photos Twiggy is shot from the back.

After pizza, we put the kids to bed and tried to recreate a night we had a few months ago, the last time we were up. We had played Loaded Questions and absolutely died laughing the entire night. The risk/reward ratio is always high when trying to recreate an experience, but we were determined. I think the first time we played, we were in such awe of our wittiness (well, their wittiness. I just take their answers and then tweak them as my own in future rounds) that we went in to Saturday night’s game cocky. It was still really fun, but now I think we know each other’s humor slant, so could easily pick out who said what in each round. I guess no one really knows what I’m talking about unless you’ve played the game. Let me know when you want to play. I’m there.

So Sunday we slept in and ate breakfast that Slim made. Classic eggs/sausage (from his brother’s plant) & bagels. Then R-squared went golfing while K. & I took a walk with the kids. She took a moment to sunbathe on a metal slide, while I tried out for the Olympic Gymnastics team. We ended up going home prematurely because of the humidity & heat and hung out in the a/c watching TLC home makeover shows (heaven!).

Twiggy & I left shortly afterwards for a smooth journey home. This time we really got to see the Iowan cornfields which, I know you will laugh, is really pretty! Your eye travels for miles with little blips of old white farmhouses on dirt roads. …And then I zonked out for 2 hours. Sorry Twigs. We can’t wait for our next trip up!