Saturday, June 2, 2012

No seriously... this ALL happened!

I'm almost at a lack of words to share with you what all happened today but I'm going to give it my best shot. If I didn't have witnesses to it I would think you'd call me a liar...

The day started out like any normal Saturday - Zoey woke up with an upset stomach and barfed (sorry for the queasy readers) in her kennel. So I let her out, gave her breakfast and went back to bed. 

Fast forward two hours later and I roll out of the house to go to a meeting with one of my beautiful clients and one of my besties, and fellow vendors * shameless plug* Jen of Branches Floral Studio. As I anticipated, the meeting went Splendid-ly (sorry... I couldn't help myself!). From here on out, though, it went totally sideways.

I used the restroom at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (Del Mar location) and, much to my horror, left my iPad on the shelf in the restroom. Unfortunately I didn't realize I had done this until I arrived at my next destination, Rancho Bernardo Courtyard, where I was playing an extra in a hilarious video for the 48 Hour Film Project. More on that later.

Once the preliminary moment of panic subsided I decided to locate my iPad with the Find my iPad app which (thankfully) I had thought to turn on when I purchased the iPad. If anyone has any thoughts as to NOT use this feature, think again! The app took about 20 minutes to return a result as the iPad was out of Wi-Fi range but lo and behold it came back with a location just 2 miles from where I was. What are the odds of that? Del Mar to Rancho Bernardo? Apparently the universe wanted me to have my iPad back. So I plucked up the courage, and took Jen for support, and headed out in search of my iPad which I surmised was a the Starbucks using the free Wi-Fi. 

Jen and I checked indoors when we arrived at the Starbucks and there was only one patron with an iPad and it definitely wasn't mine (had the camera - I have a lowly iPad 1). We then stepped out the doors and saw it almost immediately, sitting on a table with a couple. When I say this guy was a "thug" I mean it in every sense of the word. He was HUGE! Like offensive tackle huge. He had a creepy goatee and greasy hair and was talking on his phone. His girlfriend was the same size (almost). So, knees shaking, I walked up to the table, grabbed the iPad and said "Uh, yeah, that's my iPad". I still get wobbly-kneed thinking about what could have happened but I was so angry I wasn't afraid (in that moment, of course). You know what this guy says to me? "Oh, really? Ok". Like... no battle. No defense. He totally knew he'd been busted. He then tells me that the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf refused to take it from them when they tried to turn it in.  Yeah frickin' right! I called the CBTL to see if anyone had turned it in and the lovely girl on the phone was so upset for me. She said she'd keep an eye out and promised to call me if anyone tried to turn it in. So... gansta thug who thinks you're bad ass - if you're stupid enough to steal an iPad from someone, at least do your homework to know that is has tracking on it. Let's just say Karma's a bitch and she's a comin' for ya!

I'd like to take a moment here to thank John and Jessica Gillon who so generously helped me find the Starbucks I was looking for and gave me the courage to go find it. You two rock! 

Ok, so I finally get back to the RB Courtyard, triumphantly with iPad in hand, and am about to have folks start signing the waiver release form for the movie when I see a face I recognize, but I don't know why I recognize it. He hears me tell this whole story about the iPad and is quite impressed - wants me to share the story on Facebook. Then Jessica says "This is DSC Dave". My jaw almost hit the floor. (sidebar: for those of you who don't know who Dave Rikards is because you don't listen to the DSC - change your radio station. They ROCK!) 

Ok, back on track: I've been trying to connect with Dave for a while to promote Wish Upon a Wedding. My day, if already not unbelievable enough, has just taken a wonderful turn for the better. Sadly, before I have a chance to talk to him (like he needs another annoying fan asking things from him) he walks away. But! I've made the initial contact which is super cool. THEN - my luck turns again! Since I'm the one in charge of the waivers I have to meet with him again to get him to sign it. So just before he leaves set for the day I corner him (super nice-like, of course!) and have him sign the waiver. While he's doing this I have his ear and chat with him about WUW. He says he's totally interested and I should call his producer, Emily, to talk about it. I'm floored - he says to mention the conversation and get her to schedule something. Then he says "Oh, and email me too so I remember today". I'm in heaven at the opportunity to promote this amazing organization. And then it happens. He says "Like, do you want to come on to the show to talk about it with me?". I'm all like "Yeah, that would be great" (trying to be cool, right?). And then he's like "Ok, awesome. That would be best". O.M.G.  Best. Day. Ever!

Thank you, AGAIN, to Jessica and John for making the introduction to Dave. I couldn't have done it without you. 

Ok, and then if you think the day can't get any crazier it does. Because now we get to film the "Riot Scene" in the short film, which was the impetus of excitement for this afternoon in the first place. Jen and I get to jump into a fountain and beat each other to a pulp. Not for real, of course, but c'mon, how often do you get to participate in a film AND jump into a fountain?! It totally rocked. I don't want to give away any more of the film since you should just see it yourself (it's going to be hilarious) but stay tuned for when it's posted online. I'll definitely have it posted here.

It's been a wild day and I'm excited about a relaxing night. My pizza has just arrived and the bottle of wine is about to be opened. I hope you enjoyed the re-cap of today's journey. And seriously... this ALL happened! Here's a few photos as proof!

Apparently I was feeling a bit "OG" after showing a thug what I'm made of. I don't know what that hand sign means but it felt right in the moment.

Uh, mascara police... Albeit not too shabby for two women who just rolled out of a fountain!

Ryan sportin' a sexy purple fringe number!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Scotland Honeymoon: May 14, 2011

It's hard to believe that we're already at the halfway point of our trip. Yet reliving each of the blog posts reminds me how much we actually did and saw each day. I think it also justifies my reticence to talk about the trip with people - I'd completely forgotten so many parts of our days that it was hard to tell the stories. I'm so glad I took notes!

So here we are, on Saturday morning, in Inverness - a fairly major city in Scotland and a huge port city during the Jacobite uprisings of the mid-1700's. Unfortunately our plan for the morning didn't include anything to do with history - we needed to find somewhere to do laundry! We found a launderette (and thanks to the wonder of Google you can see the proprietor having a smoke out front), as they're called in the UK, at 9am and did two loads of laundry. I pulled up the old iPad and took notes from the past two days and enjoyed listening to the proprietor talk about all kinds of nonsense, but primarily recall her angst of folding socks. Alan took off in search of coffee and thus missed the sock tirade. The owner not only allows others to do laundry but also allows folks to drop off their laundry to her and she washes, folds and returns to them via pick up. Sounds as if socks are the bane of her existence.

After the laundry was done and we trudged the mile back to the B&B, we took a trip into Inverness on foot and found it to be a very busy city. It felt a bit run down and far less friendly than other cities we'd encountered so we decided not to stick around any longer than we had to. We took a few photos on the way up to High Street to appease our friends and family who begged for images but I'm afraid nothing terribly note-worthy.

The foot bridge we crossed to get from the B&B to High Street

A look down-river. The bridge in the distance is the major traffic connection between the two halves of Inverness.

Inverness Castle - sounds silly but I was so disgruntled at Inverness that I didn't even care to see it.

We walked up to High Street and wandered some of the shops. Namely I was looking for a knitting shop to see if I could find some fancy yarns that I couldn't in the states but only found a lovely knitting book - so not a total loss. Hubband also found a chocolate shop where I found a chocolate Nessie and he found other delightful chocolate nibbles.

We stopped and had lunch at The Filling Station which appears to be a chain in the major cities in Scotland and then got out of dodge. The food was pretty awful and it was dreadfully crowded so we decided to find something local, but outside of town, to do since we were locked into the B&B in Inverness for one more night. 

I'm amazed, even now, at the strong negative reaction we had to Inverness. I'm sure its a lovely city but compared to what we'd seen so far it was quite unremarkable. But truly, one bad day out of 14 ain't bad, right?

We headed out to Moniack Castle and Winery which ended up being primarily a tasting room with an active (lived in) castle on-site (home to the Clan Fraser). To say that the staff was a bit lackadaisical about her job would be an understatement. The sole staff member greeted us by asking if we'd been before, told us to taste the wines, and left. It was hilarious! So we did. And they were ok but certainly a bit outside our standard palette of wines. Most of them tend to be overly sweet as they make wines with everything under the sun except grapes. And I apologize - I took no pictures... I know... I'm the suck.

Deciding that this trip to a caste was a fairly silly trip since we weren't able to see inside the castle and the "wines" weren't to our liking, we headed out to see the Corrimony Cairn which, according to the brochures we found, is a 4,000 year old burial tomb, now not in use, of course. The origins appear to be pagan with a strong sense of worship of the sun. It was very cool!

From the ground level - you could walk (or crawl, really) right in.

The "standing stones" around the cairn - various sizes thought to mean different things - split over time as you can see the three pieces to the left of the image have done.

Another beautiful rainbow - we were lucky to see so many throughout the trip. I guess that's one blessing of rain.

We decided to stop in Drumnadrochit to pick up some toothpaste and for a spot of tea (or more likely, coffee) but got caught up in a gift shop and ended up missing the close of the cafe. So we headed back up the road towards Inverness in search if the Clansman Harbor Inn for a cup of coffee and to determine our next course of action. We had a very strong cup of white coffee (which we've determined is actually a lot like a latte - so lots of caffeine). We watched the Loch Ness boats go by and just wiled away an hour or so in the attempts to avoid Inverness.

By this time our stomachs were grumbling but we were determined not to go back to Inverness for the night until we had to go to bed so we put our trust in the GPS and headed out to find dinner elsewhere since the serving waitress at the Clansman Harbor Inn was a bit of a twit. The closest thing we could find was in Muir of Ord, a small town to the west of Inverness. But rather than taking us south a bit and then west from Loch Ness, the GPS took us all the way north, past Inverness, across the Loch/river that runs through Inverness, and then west. As luck would have it, the few places the GPS listed didn't exist so we headed on to the next town, Beauly, where we found our luck a little better. We did find a pub but it was somewhat less than inviting as there were only 3 other women in the place and a football (aka: soccer) game in the TV.

We saw an Indian restaurant across the street called "Beauly Tandoori" and struck gold. It was delicious! This restaurant "let" us order the king prawn vindaloo (which we weren't allowed to order in Fort William because it was "too hot") and found it delicious. It was definitely hot but delicious! And the service was great since we were the only patrons for the first 40 minutes or so.

After dinner we finally braved up and went back to Inverness for the night. Check out was (thankfully) the next day! Unfortunately we weren't quite through with the disappointment that was Inverness...

Scotland Honeymoon: May 13, 2011

It's official - it's going to be pretty hard for any B&B in Scotland, or anywhere else we visit in the future, to rival Treetops. The room is glorious, the breakfasts are divine and the bed? Almost better than what I sleep on at home. We slept like the dead all three nights we spent at Treetops and were sad to have to depart save for the adventures that were surely on the horizon for us. 

We were on the road by 9am again, this time bound and determined to see the INSIDE of Eilean Donan Castle, despite it being an hour and a half out of our way. I was so upset not to see it the night before. We, Team Schmaltz, that is, decided that from here on out we'd scrap the color-coded itinerary I'd put so many hours into before the trip, thus leaving ourselves free to do whatever we wanted to do. And Mama wanted to see Eilean Donan. It was SO worth it! It's called Scotland's most romantic castle and boy is it ever! How we were talked into Dunvegan Castle over this one, I'll never know, though I suppose its better to see more, than less, since who knows when we'll ever get back there.

The original Eilean Donan had been blown to bits during the time of Robert the Bruce (early 1300's I'm pretty sure, though there are a lot of details about a lot of castles swimming around in my brain right now) but was rebuilt in 1913 by Clan Chief MacRae and it's stunning. We were able to take pictures in the inner courtyard and it was so awesome. What do you think?

The castle sits on a small island accessible only by a bridge or water. Given the terrain it was more often than not accessed (and attacked) from the water-side.

The front door from the bridge-side.

 What you see when you look through the front door! It's magical... 

View of the Loch from the main courtyard of the castle... pity it's not a nice view... *wink*

This outcropping is in the middle of the castle - the largest rock to the left of the picture was put there on purpose!

Yes, I wore that bright green jacket every day... it rained. A lot.

Looking up towards the main living quarters from the central courtyard.

Looking down towards the front door from the top of the outcropping of rocks.

A little hidey hole - excellent for a romantic tryst if the fancy strikes you!

 Top of the wall that leads to the castles water source - it was so pretty!

One last look before we departed.

It was just after 12:30 when we were back on the road after touring Eilean Donan. But this time, rather than returning to Fort William, we were headed to our next leg of the journey: Inverness. On the way, we stopped at Glenshiel, a valley where a brief battle during the war of Independence (1715) took place. The Jacobites took on the English and were quickly snuffed out. The next big battle wouldn't be for 31 years and we're going to see that field on Sunday. Know what it is?

I'm not one for battles, but I think I'd rather have the high ground on this one... a bit dicey from the bottom, no?

So freakin' green!

As we got closer to Inverness we found ourselves driving north along Loch Ness. We decided to take a boat tour of Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle at 3pm so stopped at Clansman Harbor at 2pm for a bite of lunch before getting on the boat. I had a delicious cream of broccoli soup to warm the body and a melty brie and cranberry sandwich. OMG! My life is forever changed. I can't wait to try to remake this sandwich. I haven't yet because there's little in that's good for me but someday, when I'm ready to fully indugle... Hubband had a cheesy macaroni with chorizo crusts (basically small bits of mild chorizo sausage). Fortified by more starch we headed out into the hail for our boat ride. Yes, you read that right. Hail! But we mustered on and had a great time chatting about Nessie and becoming mesmerized by the waves.

When we reached Urquhart Castle we had a moment to look at the trebuchet before it started to absolutely pour!!! I took a brief moments refuge in the gate house though had no room for Hubband. Hee hee...

Most of us on the tour took shelter in the main gates of the Castle for about 5 minutes to wait out the rain but then the sun came out and the world felt new again. It made me think of a saying from my time in Kananaskis: Don't like the weather? Wait 5 minutes. But we'd have to amend it a bit here: Don't like the weather? Wait 5 minutes. Then another 5 and it'll rain again!

This was the Guard Room. I'd hazard a guess that it wasn't quite so comfortably furnished way back when...

This is where they put the bad guys.


The brand new stained boardwalk into the castle still cracks me up...
And no, I haven't altered the colors - the sky was THAT COLOR!

Rainbow #1!

Rainbow #2

I finally agreed to take a picture with Hubband. I felt a mess but this turned out ok in the end!

A huge watershed just outside the castle.

Back on the boat towards dry land. It was freezing. But we were on Loch Ness so who cares!

The water-side of Urquhart Castle.

I'm pretty sure they put bad people in this hole... but it might have been for something else. I don't remember!

Rainbow #3 - a rainbow over Loch Ness. 

Back at the docks with NESSIE!

When were done with our soggy boat tour by 5:00pm, we drove the last 15 minutes in to Inverness to our next B&B: Bannerman. It's a tiny little place amongst a myriad of other B&B's along Glenurquhart Road just outside the heart of Inverness on the south side of town. We were in our room by 5:30 and crashed soon thereafter. We did find time for some hot chocolate and reading before bed that's about it. We. Were. Pooped.