Thursday, August 28, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Kurt and I got up and went to the Farmer's Market and Fareway to get supplies for tonight's BBQ with our friends the Wake's. Before we left I put oven cleaner in the oven and let it work.
When we got back I started weeding and dividing my perennials while Kurt and Nick put together our new gas grill. It had MANY parts. Kurt was going to clean the oven for me, but since it took almost 3 hours to get the grill together I did it myself.
SO while I was scrubbing, I bumped the element and there was a flash of fire. Lovely. Kurt switched off the breaker, I finished cleaning it then got cleaned up for Chinese buffet with lunch with Mom, Dad, Marn, and Batman (aka my nephew Ryan)(cape and all)!
SO Kurt had to pull the stove out (disgusting omg). He then proceeded to rewire it. It works so I was able to make the brownies.
It seems like we've been working all day. Since the oven got pulled out then we had to sweep the floor. Since we're having company the bathrooms needed some TLC. Of course, there's vacuuming, straightening, and sorting etc etc etc.
Now we're just waiting for them to get here so I can fire up the grill and get the burgers, brats and wienies going. I've chopped the onions and the tomatoes from my garden. The radishes, cauliflower, carrots, dip and chips are ready to go. So is the jello fluff and the pasta salad.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
The beer batter seems to be working the best. It's only been a few hours and already there are all sizes of them oozing their way into the cups. Ick.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
The waves were a lot rougher than they had been the day before. I hoped it would clear up later in the day, but it really didn't get a lot better.
Kurt didn't expect that I would be gone long so he was up and dressed when I got back. I was gone for over an hour though!
After we had breakfast I splashed around in the pool for a while. It was kind of chilly! The part that I thought was a hot tub was just another part of the pool. Since Kurt was still feeling under the weather he had a nap while I went shopping. I bought some pearls, a box covered with shells, postcards and some t-shirts.
We did spend some time at the beach in the afternoon. Kurt tried to nap while I waded and "body surfed" in the water. The body surfing mainly consisted of me getting knocked over by the waves. Man, it was fun!
Our hotel had a spa. So we made a couple's massage appointment for 9 pm that evening. It ended up being quite the experience. The robes were too small, the flip flops were too small for Kurt's size 14's, the couple's bath was freezing! And outside! And it the rain!
The massages ended up being great. Very relaxing and sort of romantic. We were there fro 2 1/2 hours! We both slept well, but had very vivid dreams all night.
Sunday we woke up late and headed for breakfast. As we left the room we heard a clap of thunder so Kurt went back after the umbrellas. It was a good thing he did. The sky opened up half way to the cafe. It was a monsoon! We noticed that the resort has the exact same ceiling fans from Lowe's that we just put up in all our bedrooms.
We had to be checked out to get on the shuttle to begin the journey back to Manila by noon. I had seen on Tripadvisor that checking out of the Regency is a bit of an ordeal. They send someone up to your room to check for damage and if you've had anything out of the minibar before they'll clear you. We made sure to get down there in plenty of time.
The trip back to the boat launch was harrowing. We were stuffed in the back of what looked like a paddy wagon. We didn't get very close to the launch at all before we had to get out. Trying not to slip in the mud and keep track of the porter that took off with our luggage was quite the challenge.
Then we got to the boats. They weren't anywhere close to shore. We had to wade out to it. I'm trying to hold up my pant legs, hold onto my shoes and my purse while walking up a very skinny, very slippery, very steep gangplank. It was fantastic. I had seen on the website that rubber shoes were recommended for getting to the island, but we hadn't had any problems on the way TO Boracay.
Here's a picture of one of the luxury launches we rode. There are men in the water acting as tug boats and trying to keep the boat from smashing into each other.
It took a much longer time to get back to Aklan than the trip over had been. Once we "docked" much like McArthur we had to wade to shore!
I managed to sleep on the bus back to Kalibo. Our flight was fine. Once we arrived in Manila the wait for taxi was awful. We had to stand in this long line right next to the road while all these cars were belching pollution. I really thought I was going to be sick.
When we finally did get a taxi it was the worst one ever. He was like the Mario Andretti of the Philippines. It was race, slam to a halt, repeat. I knew we were in trouble when I saw the guy stroking the rosary hanging from the rear view mirror.
We were very glad to get back to the Regalia. We ordered up some dinner. Kurt started working and I finished packing. I had to leave for home in the morning.
I called my parents for some reason and discovered they were going to do exactly that! I invited us along so we got to picnic on the river!
Our picnics are different from when I was a kid. We stopped and got Subway rather than make sandwiches or haul along stuff to grill. We had our staple of cold pork and beans (yum!) as well as potato chips, macaroni and 3 bean salad and some grapes. We drove over to Guttenburg. We picnicked by the cannon (our usual spot). We didn't see any barges but there were plenty of pleasure craft to see. A bald eagle was soaring overhead as we ate.
After lunch we headed north to Pike's Peak, McGregor and Prairie du Chien. Pike's Peak never changes but it's always gorgeous. The river seemed low. There was lots of visible sand and water hyacinths. Dad pointed out that the sand may have washed in with all the flooding we had this year. Kurt and I walked over to the Bear effigy mound. It wasn't mowed like the surrounding grass so it was much easier to see.
Lastly we headed across the river to Cabela's. I can't stand that place. Looking at dead animals sniffing each other's butts is not my thing. Kurt got some wool socks for shoveling snow this winter (which is a horrible thought).
Oddly, we were in Wisconsin and did not pick up any cheese curds.
It always seems like it takes forever to get home from the river. Naps were had on the way home (by Kurt) and then at home (by me).
I'm very glad I happened to call at the right time!
Sunday, August 17, 2008
- Post Secret - I saw one of these books a few years ago. Then I came across the website. It's now my favorite part of Sunday! And I have a secret - I just need to find the right postcard.
- Postcards have always been an obsession. I was just lamenting to Rikki how much I miss getting fun mail. Now I have that chance again! When you register with Post Crossings it gives you id's and addresses to send people postcards. When one you sent is received and recorded, then your address is generated so someone can send you one. I'm so excited!!
- Computer Solitaire. I've never played it before. Now I am obsessed. I won 4 of the first 5 games I played! Kurt was dismayed. Evidently my beginner's luck is o v e r.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
I asked Kurt if he was interested in going. He really wasn't so I considered my options. My parents were going to go so I checked with them. Well they were going to DSM on Monday and stay until Wednesday. Since Kurt was going to on a business trip Tuesday and Wednesday that wasn't a viable option. I called the Wonder Twin. He was already there. Dang. I called Rikki. She, Amy and Amy's parents were going on Thursday. I could go by myself, but that didn't sound like much fun. When Kurt got home from work I said to him, “I really really really want to go to the State Fair”. He snapped at me, “Well then go!”
Rikki ended up offering to go with me. She said she was fine with going twice. Since the kids are irresponsible and didn't take Francis out once when I had my root canal and was gone for 11 hours, I kenneled him.
Tuesday, Rikki and I went to the fair. It rained almost all the way there. We parked at a high school and took a shuttle in for $2 bucks. As we got off the bus, it quit raining. Some people that were sitting in front of us and eavesdropping on our inane conversation gave us an extra ticket! It only cost us $5 each to get in. Sweet! More money for food! We quickly went through the 4-H building and then went in search of turkey legs and a pork chop on a stick.
Marn called to see where we were. They had spent an hour on University attempting to get to the parking lot. I told her we were in front of the round horse barn getting our food. She said she was there, too! I looked around and she was probably 50 yards away. I was gnawing on my turkey leg and Rikki was chomping on her pork chop on a stick. Marn said, “how long have you to been here?” We said, “maybe 15 minutes.” We came to eat after all!
She, Ryan and Todd were having a funnel cake. Ryan was telling us a story and explaining how he smelled a witch in their bathroom the day before. He said something else hilarious. He was real chatty and then wanted out of the stroller so he could stomp in puddles. We went through the discovery garden with them. Marn is a master gardener and does her volunteer hours in one of the beds there. Ryan was running through the flower tunnels and stomping in more puddles. He gave me a hug and a kiss as he flew by on his way to another run through the tunnel. Rikki and I continued on our journey.
We saw the butter cow and the butter Shawn Johnson. I agree with Jen – thunder thighs! Plus, I think the butter Shawn Johnson may be taller than the real one!
I got a free boiled egg on a stick. We went through the Cultural Center and looked at the photography and art. There was some very cool stuff and some very weird stuff. Such as a taxidermied beaver coming out of a television. Huh? We had some root beer (not as good as I would have liked) and what is possibly my new favorite fair food. It was in bar form. It was a hunk of peppermint ice cream with and Oreo bottom and a fudge topping. It was FAN TAS TIC!! We consumed it so quick we didn't even get a decent picture. At $4.50 it was a bargain!
We had our handwriting analyzed for our personalities, watched outhouse races, had some free Iowa samples (cheese, beef sticks, popcorn and seasonings, chocolate), looked at the crazy people paying $25 to get flung into the sky via a slingshot/ejector seat, walked through the horse barn and then got our last fair food. Rikki got some cheese curds and I got a gater tater. Which is a potato cut into a continuous ribbon and fried. Then smothered with some cheese. We barely ate any of either one. We waddled back to the bus and headed north
Rikki is such a good friend to go twice in one week. I couldn't do it!
We were staying at the Boracay Regency. It's one of the top two resorts on the island (the cheaper of the top two that is:). The flight was short. We went on Cebu Pacific Airlines. Kurt says it was on an Airbus. All I know is it was spacious, clean, and new looking. The flight attendants even had a little game show for us before we landed.
Landing in Kalibo was quite the experience. I could see rice paddies and river beds as we were coming in to land. It must have been low tide. I could see water buffalo and people working in the paddies. This is the kind of airport where they could be flight delays due to goats (or children) on the runway.
We had to walk off the plane onto the tarmac. We found the guy holding a sign with our name then we were immediately accosted by a porter who went off to find our luggage. A guy slapped a sticker on us. The sticker was to let the people know where it was we were to go. I felt pretty disoriented.
The bus ride to Caticlan was about 1.5 hours. We went through the fields and then up and down over two sets of mountains. Then we drove along the coast for while.
They made us get off the bus, get our luggage out of the hold, and then get back on the bus. All other passengers except for three got off the bus and stayed off. We were driven another quarter of a mile then told to get off the bus. More porters.
We were led down to the waterfront and escorted onto what I would call a dilapidated boat. It was a short ride over to Boracay. Then we were again accosted by porters and shoved into a van. It was hard to believe that we were in one of the world's top resort areas. After 5 or 10 minutes of dirt roads, chickens, goats and dirty children we turned off the main road onto another dirt road with a tree in the middle of it. Kurt looked at me incredulously, “tell me this isn't where we're staying!” I replied that I thought it was further ahead. I was feeling a little anxious at this point.
We pulled up to a nondescript entrance. Then we walked through the double doors into a beautiful lobby that open onto a gorgeous pool area.
We quickly got checked into a great room with a balcony overlooking another pool and with a view of the beach. The bed was soft. In order for the room to have electricity we had to put the key card in a little holder by the door. It had a chip in it that activated the power. Except for the fact that it meant the A/C went off when we left the room it was pretty cool.
We decided to walk around and find some food. Our package included the room, the transfers and breakfast and dinner, but no lunch. We walked out to the famous White Beach. It was gorgeous. The sand was soft and velvety. The water was aqua blue green and very clear. The beach was immaculate. People were sunbathing, para sailing, kite surfing. The was no pollution. Definitely paradise.
We ate at an outdoor place. Initially Kurt ordered Bangus, but then said “no” and ordered the shrimp. I ordered grilled squid. When it arrived we got all three. They must have thought what big fat piggy Americans we were. Good thing we got the bangus, I didn't like the squid. It had some horrible red sauce on it. Bangus is a fish. It was a flat fish. It tasted like steak. It was fantastic! I've been told it's a type of grouper.
After lunch we changed into our suits and hit the beach. I spent a lot of time in the water and poor Kurt tried to nap. He hadn't had a chance since we had to leave for the airport as soon as he got off work. Plus he had been fighting a cold/sinus infection for a few days.
We spent the rest of the day relaxing. Then we had dinner at the hotel's buffet. There were a lot of choices but neither of us ate much. A storm was blowing in during dinner. After we ate we went back to the room and called it an early night
I finally managed to get the trip paid for. Kurt went to work. I shopped for souvenirs. It was next to impossible to find T-shirts or postcards. I did buy myself some Versace “Bright Crystal” perfume at a huge discount.
Thursday morning when Kurt got home from work we went for breakfast at the sardine place. No sardines were had this time! As we were eating Kurt decided he felt up to tackling a visit of something. We grabbed a taxi and headed to the Coconut Palace. We decided it wasn't worth going back to the room for the camera or the guidle book so we didn't have a specific address. Always a bad idea. The cabbie had no clue. I knew it was somewhere around the corner from where we boarded the ferry to Corregidor. We finally got there. It looked deserted. Then we spotted a little guard house with a little guard. He said they were open and sent us up the drive.
The Palace was built by Imelda Marcos for Pope John Paul's 1st visit to the Philippines in 1981. She wanted to impress him with the handicrafts of the country. She spent millions and millions of dollars. Needless to say the Pope was not impressed. He told her the money should have been spent on her people and then he went and stayed at the Papal Nunciature.
The Palace is constructed of natural materials like shells, coconut, and native hardwoods. Many of the rooms also featured textiles from various regions.
The Palace was very dark. There was us and a Chinese student who was backpacking on the tour. The guide only knew the scripted information and couldn't really answer any questions we asked her. One of the bedrooms was yellow and had a massive inlaid shell headboard for the bed. She was very proud of the fact that Brooke Shields had slept in it when she cut the ribbon at the grand opening. When I asked why Brooke, she had no idea what I meant. Was Brooke the secret crush of Ferdinand? Is she a huge star in Manila? I mean what's the deal? (Later discussions with family have determined that perhaps it was because of the Blue Lagoon movie – which they believe was filmed in the country. I have yet to confirm it. I may never know the answer to the Brooke Shields question).
The palace is built on the bay for the cooling breezes and the amazing sunsets. We noticed that Imelda and Ferdinand's bedrooms were at opposite ends of the building. Seven was Mr. Marcos' favorite number so the palace had seven of a many things. Another “Highlight” of the tour was a huge table of inlaid coconut shell. The dark is from old nuts, the light from newer nuts. The guide was very proud that it had been all inlaid by children – because of their small fingers. Kurt and I were thinking of forced child labor!
Despite the deserted area the palace was in we did manage to find a taxi back to the hotel. It was hot so we showered and Kurt went to sleep.
Then the next bit of drama occurred. The TA said he was going to send our tickets via courier, but that ended up not being possible. He asked of I could print them out. I know Kurt had said there was no printer at work. He wondered if he could fax the information. I had to wake Kurt up to ask him. Then I had to check to see if the hotel had fax access. No. I went back up to the room and sent another email. I went back downstairs to see if the hotel had a printer we could utilize. They did if we could save the information onto a memory stick. So I had to wake Kurt up to see if we had a memory stick. We did. I saved the files and took them back downstairs. I waited and waited. The girl came back and said the files were corrupted. Back upstairs I went and woke Kurt up again. Heather's getting frustrated! Kurt said to check to see if the hotel had an email where I could forward the information.
The clerk was getting frustrated, too. She gave me her personal email. It took another hour but we finally managed to get everything printed. Our trip to Boracay was actually a go!
We had dinner at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel's cafe. I had eaten there the night before. It was quiet and the food was great. Kurt had Russian Black Cod with gnocchi and I had Singapore fried noodles. We had a seat next to the window overlooking the street and the Araneta Center. The skies opened and it poured. It was quite a show with the thunder and the lightning. After dinner Kurt went to work and I went back to the hotel to pack. I packed for our trip to Boracay as well as for my trip home. We'd get back from the island late on Sunday night and I had to leave for the airport by 630 am on Monday. It was gonna be a busy few days.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
The sheer stupidity of 13 and 15 year olds amazes me. Some serious smack needs to laid down around here. There's going to banishment at least until September.
Mandatory sterilization is looking better and better.
Monday, August 11, 2008
I remember when I was a little kid like 5 or 6, I got stung on the outside corner of my right eye. I remember sitting on the counter in our green kitchen in Knoxville with meat on my eye.
I can't think of any other time I've been stung.
We were watching the women's beach volleyball competition on the Olympics. My mother-in-law was commenting on how ugly and inappropriate their outfits were. They were quite skimpy. After much discussion from all sides the kid says, "I don't see a problem." Hilarious!
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Getting everyone together is always fun. There's movies, swimming, napping and endless discussing.
My nephew Ethan is 5 (I think). In my defense, he hasn't been my nephew that long! Anyway we took Francis with us. Ethan is possibly the loudest kid I have ever met. Francis was trying to play with him and looking up at him. Ethan goes, "Why is your dog smiling at me?" He also wanted to know if he was fully trained. I said yes thinking he meant potty trained. Later on Francis was barking and being naughty and Ethan wasn't obeying either. He looks at me accusingly, "I thought you said he was fully trained!" I replied, "Well, he's fully potty trained but sometimes he won't listen. Are you fully trained?" He got a sheepish smile and said, "not always."
Thursday, August 07, 2008
We had breakfast at the hotel when Kurt got back from work. He had wild boar and I had tocino which is a national dish. It is pork belly that is very pink - like those chicken sticks you get at Chinese buffets. Both came with garlic rice and an egg.
I shopped at the Galaxy Mall and at Shopwise (which is the Wal-Mart of the Philippines). I tried unsuccessfully to buy stamps somewhere. Everyone had a different idea as to where that would be. After being incorrectly directed to 5 or 6 places I began to doubt that the Philippines had a national postal service.
I wanted to go to Boracay the following weekend. I thought Kurt had agreed with me. One of the girls at work had a friend/relative that was a travel agent and could get us a deal. We would need to go on Friday Saturday Sunday in order for me to make it back so I could fly home on Monday, but that would mean Kurt would need to take Friday off. He would actually be working until Saturday morning (which would be until Friday night Iowa time). Therein lay our problem. He works too hard. I thought they wouldn't begrudge him a day off since he'd worked more than a week straight with barely any sleep since the flood.
The next stress point came when we couldn't pay for the package with credit card. We'd have to do cash but the travel agency was 2 hours away! I withdrew 30,000 php and tried to Western Union the money, but I didn't have enough information to do that (after I walked back there in the heat, pollution, and traffic). By now it was after 3 pm and we were told the tickets wouldn't be held beyond that. Now I was trapped in the Philippines with no chance of going to one of the top beaches in the world and more money than I could spend with no way of redepositing it.
We called 911 (the number for Pizza Hut) and had dinner.
Hopefully Wednesday would be better
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Our next destination was the Manila American Memorial Cemetery (from WWII). The book said it opened at 630 am. LIE! It opens at 9 am. We had to hang around outside for a while to get in. Our main reason for visiting was to locate and photograph the grave of a man who worked for my family as a hired man in the 1940's. He was killed in New Guinea but by a tree branch accident instead of in battle. His only sister is in her 90's and still alive. My great aunt and uncle thought she’d really appreciate someone going to visit and photographing the grave. The cemetery is immaculate. It is mowed daily (by John Deere’s thank you very much!). I had located his grave on the net ahead of time. We stopped in the visitors center to find out where it was within the complex. They asked if we were family. I explained the situation. They gave me a packet of information that is only given to "bona fide next of kin" to give to his sister. It was neat including order forms for flowers and aerial photographs. A pregnant little filipia drove us to the site in a golf car. She took a couple of buckets with her to clean off the stone. The second bucket had graphite or something similar in it. She rubbed that into the letter on the stone so it would stand out. We took quite a few pictures then walked to the main memorial which consists of a tower and two semi circle structures radiating from it. The structures contain mosaic maps of the Pacific battles, seals of each state, and names of the dead and missing. All of the grass at the site was propagated from two hunks of sod from the USA. The cemetery is part of Fort Bonaficio. This is the prosperous part of Manila. Opposite the cemetery are glass hi-rises where the rich and expats live. Imelda Marcos lives in one of them. It was getting hot and we were getting tired so we flagged down another taxi. We decided to go to the biggest mall in Asia to look around and have lunch. We got dropped off at the wrong place. I’ve never ridden with such clueless cabbies.
We ended up having lunch at a Cajun place. One of their specials was an Iowa chop! That pretty much decided where we were eating. Kurt had that and I had a roasted lobster. He got the better meal. Afterward we headed back to the Regalia for sleep. It was a nap for me and a "night’s" sleep for Kurt since he had to go back to work that evening.
While Kurt was at work I was online and my laptop got hacked and I got the blue screen of death.
Friday, August 01, 2008
St. Augustin - It's an UNESCO world heritage site
There a many ruins like this on the island. This is part of the barracks.
A view from the light house looking over the bay toward another of the 4 or 5 fortified islands.
Before we started melting.