Searching for Normalcy

"And finally, above all else, it is about leaving a mark that I existed: I was here. I was hungry. I was defeated. I was happy. I was sad. I was in love. I was afraid. I was hopeful. I had an idea and I had a good purpose and that’s why I made works of art…" – Felix Gonzalez-Torres

Palouse Falls, WA May 11, 2012

Filed under: Photography,Travel — Lulu @ 4:20 pm

As part of a week-long visit to Washington last month, the boy, his mom and I took a day trip to Palouse Falls State Park, located in Washtucna, WA.

 

This place is so gorgeous. I can’t even really describe the beauty of the falls and the surrounding areas. First you find yourself driving through miles and miles of rolling hillsides, some so lush and green they bring to mind images of verdant Irish landscapes. Then, you finally come to the falls. Undetectable from the road, but after you park your car and walk a short distance, you come to this.

 

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Obligatory “babe, stand in front of the waterfall” picture.

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These cute, little guys are yellow-bellied marmots (aka “rockchuck”) and they’re a type of ground squirrel. They were pretty tame, but I suppose they are accustomed to people by now.

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And, apparently, they like Lay’s Barbecue Chips.

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Here’s the boy and his mom, and one last shot before we left.

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Seriously, this place is so beautiful and peaceful. I could have stayed there all day just enjoying the view.

 

Peace out, yo!

 

Pride April 15, 2012

Filed under: Life,Photography — Lulu @ 5:18 pm

**WARNING: SUPER photo heavy.**

 

The boy and I walked down to Ocean Drive this morning to check out the Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade, so here are some of the 10 bajillion pictures I took.

 

The parade was kicked off by the Stonewall Knights motorcycle club.

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Roller derby chicks and minotaurs(??).

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Conga band leading the Discotekka float.

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They’re like big, colorful birds. So pretty.

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Pride Marching Band. They were playing Abba’s “Dancing Queen”! =)

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Mi gente! (ie, cubans)

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At first I thought that said “Big Gay Bus.”

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I am not embarrassed to admit that I got teary-eyed when the Legacy Couples went by. Some of these people have been together as long as my parents have. And much longer than most straight couples I know.

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The Miami Gay Men’s Chorus. They were singing Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” hence the crib.

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The bears.

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I told the boy that this is totally how I see him: a hot guy with a beard and a nice butt! 😉

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My camera decided to refocus right as Grand Marshal, Chaz Bono, was riding by.

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I really liked the Score float.

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Gratuitous butt shot and more roller derby chicks.

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The Catalina Hotel and the Stonewall Museum.

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The Donkey Show (yeah, I don’t know) and Twist nightclub.

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The PB Boys (?) and the dancers from Swinging Richards (I’m told it’s a strip club).

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There were two more floats after this but I didn’t get pictures because my battery died and I was starting to get heat stroke, so we came back home.

 

That’s it for now. Peace out, yo!

 

TAPS we are not* February 25, 2012

Filed under: Life,Personal,Photography — Lulu @ 4:43 pm

We had another Groupon-fueled outing last night. This time it was a Ghost Tour in Coconut Grove that we had purchased as a 2-for-1 Groupon. We met up with the other participants and the tour guide in front of the Coconut Grove Playhouse just a little before 8:00PM to begin our two-hour walking tour.

 

The tour started with our guide, Sandy, sharing some historical information about the playhouse and the Grove area in general. Supposedly, there are happy ghosts haunting the playhouse due to the energy lines running through this location. Okay.

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We then heard a story about the original settlers in Coconut Grove and how there is an anthropologically documented 10,000-year-old path that runs through the Grove and, because of said path, there are a lot of indigenous spirits in the area.

 

Across the street from the playhouse is a limestone wall that backs some private residences, and there is a story about a ghost that hangs out on the sidewalk and leans against the wall. He is said to sometimes show up in pictures. Do you see him?? Yeah, me neither.

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Just a shot of the banyan trees that seem to grow right out of that limestone wall and a spooky dark street. (Just kidding; we were actually standing across the street from El Sitio restaurant and bar. Hardly spooky at all.)

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This hair salon (formerly Arush, and now under new management as an AVEDA salon) is rumoured to house a couple of different ghosts, one of which is named Sarah. Yeah, I didn’t see anything either.

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This is a park on McFarlane Road that contains “a lot of spirit energy.” There have been claims of people seeing orbs and finding images of cherubim and child-like spirits in their photos. Again, I saw nothing.

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Now this is actually pretty neat. The oldest marked grave in Miami, belonging to Eva Amelia Munroe, is actually smack in front of a library and right in between a couple of restaurants on McFarlane Road. Who would’ve thunk it?? An actual grave in the middle of a commercial street. Pretty kooky, yeah?

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While we were a little disappointed to not see anything even remotely “ghostie” or paranormal (I would categorize myself as 50% believer/50% skeptic), we did enjoy ourselves. The weather was pleasant, the tour was interesting, and Sandy was very nice and seemed quite knowledgeable about the history of Coconut Grove.

 

After the tour we left the Grove and headed over to Titanic Brewery and Restaurant on the UM campus for a late dinner. (The obligatory “babe, picture!” picture. He looks drunk because he was trying to make a face and I tickled him right as I took the picture.)

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I had the Shrimp and Grits with andouille sausage and tasso ham. Delicious, but VERY spicy. The boy had Cedar Salmon with a rum and molasses glaze, mashed potatoes and steamed veggies. His fish was fantastically good.

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All in all it was a fun date night. Peace out, yo!

 

*  TAPS = The Atlantic Paranormal Society, aka the crew of “Ghost Hunters” on SyFy.

 

Weekend in the keys – Part 3 December 21, 2011

Filed under: Life,Photography,Travel — Lulu @ 1:01 am

When we left the Hemingway House, we walked right past the Key West Lighthouse, which was built in 1847. It was about 4:30PM and they close at 5PM. If we’d had more time, I would have loved to have toured the inside.

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We kept walking down the street to the buoy at the Southernmost Point. I’d been there once before, but there was such a crowd of people I couldn’t get close enough to take a picture. This time there was a short line of folks waiting to be photographed in front of it. We waited about 10 minutes for our turn.

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Cuba is that way. Oh, hey, I think I see my uncle! Hola, Tio!  We wanted to head over to Duval Street for a bit and didn’t want to wait around too long for the full-on sunset, but this was good enough to get the sense of it.

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We were walking down Duval when we caught a glimpse of a guy in a spangly tank top and short shorts singing karaoke in this bar – 801 Bourbon Bar – so, of course, we had to check it out. This place was great! Old queens, karaoke and beer? Hell, yeah!

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Can I just say I am completely jealous of the phenomenal butt and legs on this guy??

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After 801 Bourbon Bar, we headed to Sloppy Joe’s.

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We decided to order some appetizers at Sloppy Joe’s since we were getting pretty hungry by that point. We ordered arepas, conch chowder and hot, salted pretzels. That hit the spot perfectly. There was a great latin salsa band playing which lent a very festive, fun air to the place.

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After Sloppy Joe’s, we walked a little further down to the Hog’s Breath Saloon where we each had one of their signature beers.

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I had completely forgotten to take any pictures of the two of us together until this point.

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We finished up the night at Irish Kevin’s Bar. We were actually walking back to the car to leave when we heard this guy (John Solinski) singing and he totally brought us in off the street. Like the Pied Piper of adult drinking establishments or something! He was really great and very entertaining. I wish we’d had more time to hang out here, but we had a long way to drive home so we had to call it a night.

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And that’s about it for our weekend in the Keys. We had a lot of fun and it was nice to get away for a little bit.

 

Peace out, yo!

 

Weekend in the Keys – Part 2 December 20, 2011

Filed under: Life,Photography,Travel — Lulu @ 1:01 am

Key West residents are known for being eccentric.  If the Christmas décor of this house is any indication, I would say that’s a pretty accurate assessment. Just around the corner from this house was a little secondhand bookstore so, of course, I had to stop in. I practiced restraint and only got one book and a handful of vintage-y postcards.

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Our next stop was The Hemingway House Museum. The boy wanted to see it and, although I had been there before, I was happy to tour the home again.

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All of the furniture is original to the home during the time that Hemingway lived there.

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Hemingway’s 2nd wife, Pauline, replaced all the ceiling fans in the house with these chandeliers. The headboard of the master bed is actually a gate from a 17th century Spanish monastery.

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The kitty fountain (for the almost 50 polydactyl – six-toed – cats that live on the property) was built in 1933 and is made from an olive jar imported from Cuba and… a discarded urinal from the original Sloppy Joe’s Bar!

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Pauline had the pool built to surprise Hemingway. It cost $20,000. Surprise!

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Hemingway’s writing studio, preserved as it was originally, including his chair, table and 1920s Royal manual typewriter.

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Family photos and the master bath.

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Close-up of the floor tiles and the family’s personal book collection.

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Memorabilia from the family’s personal archives and the kitchen.

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Part 3 coming up soon…

 

weekend in the Keys – Part 1 December 19, 2011

Filed under: Life,Photography,Travel — Lulu @ 3:43 pm

The boy and I were supposed to go to the Florida Keys for his birthday weekend in November. Unfortunately, he had a bout of shingles in late October which resulted in me contracting the chicken pox in November, so we had to postpone our trip until this past weekend.

 

We spent the night at the Tavernier Hotel in Tavernier, FL. This place is super cute. Very quaint. And the owner was fantastic about letting me change the date of our stay at the last minute. She didn’t even charge a penalty or anything. IMG_8582

The first thing Fanless did was check the wireless internet connection. It ended up being 3x faster than what he has at home.

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The funky tile in our shower. One of my friends pointed out that it looks like Tetris. =)

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We drove to the Whale Harbor Seafood Buffet in Islamorada for dinner. I had been there about 10 years prior and remembered it being really good. For some reason, I found it to be very disappointing this time around. Oh well. After dinner we walked around back to check out the marina.

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We ended up stopping into Wahoo’s Bar & Grill next door to have a beer before heading back to the hotel. The place is really nice but it was dead. We were the only two people sitting at the inside bar, and there were maybe 8 or 10 people seated on the back deck.

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Key West Sunset Ale.

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The following morning we got back on the Overseas Highway and headed south to Key West.

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Even though I don’t swim, I still love the ocean (Cancer is a water sign, after all). I just love the beauty and calm of it. I know that is probably the thing I will miss most about Florida when we move to eastern Washington. Driving south on the Overseas Highway, you have the Atlantic Ocean on the left and the Gulf of Mexico on the right.

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We decided to stop for lunch at Porky’s Bayside. This place is super funky and eclectic, the food was good and the service was efficient and friendly.

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They even let you write on the walls! We left our mark.

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Enjoying the view while waiting for our lunch.

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I had the pulled smoked pork sandwich with sweet potato fries and coleslaw. Fanless had the same but with onion rings instead.

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The power of the internet: Fanless checked us in on Foursquare and one of the comments someone had left for Porky’s was “you have to try the Fried Key Lime Pie.” So we did. It was the bomb-diggity! And I don’t even like Key Lime Pie, so that says a lot about how good it was.

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Part 2 coming up soon…

 

Rickenbacker Fish Company November 9, 2011

Filed under: Food,Life,Personal,Photography — Lulu @ 12:11 pm

(Warning: Photo heavy post.)

 

The boy and I had another great dining experience, thanks to Groupon. I love that these coupon sites, like Groupon and Living Social, give us the opportunity to try out restaurants and activities that we may not have known about otherwise.

 

This time we got to try out Rickenbacker Fish Company, located right on the water on the Rickenbacker Causeway. We arrived at around 5PM and, because the weather was so nice and it was not hot or humid, opted to sit outside on the patio. We had a really nice view from our table.

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This year I am participating in the “Shades of Summer” project on Liz K.’s blog. (Info on the project: Liz purchases a few pairs of the same sunglasses every summer and mails them out to participants who signed up ahead of time. The participants then take a photo of themselves wearing the glasses, email the picture to Elizabeth, then mail the glasses to the next person on the list, and so on. Once she receives all the photos from participants, Liz will post them on her blog.)  These were the glasses I received in the mail and, really, what better backdrop for a photo, right?

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We arrived during Happy Hour so we got to take advantage of the 2-for-1 drink specials. They didn’t have Blue Moon, but Key West Sunset Ale was a pretty nice substitute.

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I really can’t get enough of this view. This is what’s known as a “Chamber of Commerce photo.” Perfect weather, perfect setting, perfect ambiance.

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Let me point out that this appetizer is not chicken wings. They are huge, bacon-wrapped jumbo shrimp, with a BBQ glaze. And they were DELICIOUS!  We could’ve eaten about 20 each, they were that good. We also ordered a really yummy tomato and basil bruschetta, but I forgot to take a picture. Trust me, it was great.

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I ordered a blackened Mahi sandwich, which was nicely prepared, albeit a little too spicy for me. And typically I don’t really go for french fries but, holy crap, were these good . They were perfectly crispy but not overcooked and had some kind of seasoning we couldn’t figure out. Maybe garlic and crack?? I don’t know but we couldn’t stop eating them.

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The boy ordered the Southern Style Pecan Trout. It was mouth-wateringly delicious. Perfectly prepared, flaky but not dry, flavorful but not overly seasoned. The mashed potatoes were creamy and had a light garlicky flavor. He almost licked the plate, his meal was that fantastic.

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We were way too stuffed to enjoy dessert, but maybe next time. (Oh, yes; there will definitely be a next time.)

 

Thanks to our Groupon we enjoyed a meal that would typically have cost around $70 for about $25 plus tip (we always tip on the full amount sans coupon). But we both agreed that even without the Groupon, the overall experience – the setting, the food, the service – is definitely worth the full price and we wouldn’t mind paying such.

 

This was a ‘just because’ shot I took when we were leaving.

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And just some fun trivia to end this post… When the manager came over to the table to scan our Groupon, we got to talking and he mentioned that “The Glades” – one of our favorite TV shows – had actually filmed a scene in almost exactly the same spot where we were sitting. I actually checked when I got home and found the clip online. Here’s a screen shot:

The Glades RFC

 

So if you happen to find yourself in the Brickell/Rickenbacker/Key Biscayne area, I definitely recommend you check out Rickenbacker Fish Company. It’s so worth it.

 

That’s it for now. Peace out, yo!