Dancing with Orcas [August]

Um, have I mentioned that I saw whales last summer?  Not from land, from tour or at SeaWorld; I saw count 'em FOUR whales, ORCA whales, in fact, some 40 yards away! 

That's me on the left and Orcas right at the front of my kayak
 It all started with Maria's purchase of a sea kayak.  I would say damn her and her always cooler than mine purchases, but this particular buy led to the fulfilling of a dream vacation of mine: kayak camping, so at least today I'm grateful.  Six of us launched from a dock near Olympia (Boston Harbor?) with two potential itineraries, a short, easy route and a longer route that required some against-the-current paddling if we were feeling ambitious.  Lucky that my man knows a thing or two about navigating the high seas (or low seas, whatever the ocean water is in the South Puget Sound).  After a quick potty break on a deserted Native American island (which turned out not to be so deserted- we got pretty well yelled at by a NA standing guard on his speedboat nearby.  No, sir you probably wouldn't come pee on my front doorstep, but my doorstep isn't 12 sq. miles of empty forest.  But whatever.) we opted for the longer route. I only regretted the decision for about a half an hour when 10 strokes seemed to get me nowhere and a quick break meant moving backward. 

We commandeered the only campsite left (the smug kayak Meetup group who made it pretty clear that they were faster/better/more badass than us were relegated to small space near the camp's woodpile.  Suckers.) and I quickly regretted thinking that my sleeping pad was too bulky for my boat's storage space.  (If I've learned one thing about kayaks from this trip it's that the trunk space is beyond spacious.  A sleeping pad fits.  Extra food fits.  A full Coleman stove would fit and a team of immigrants to man breakfast would fit).
Turning in for the night at Jarrel Cove
When we woke up, Russ built us a fire, Trent serenaded us with Sunday hymns on his harmonica (a surefire way to make a Sabbath Day was holy), Porter, Maria and I slowly prepared for the day while Daniel told us that he swears he heard whale sounds in the middle of the night.  Some fellow campers had been whispering about whales in the area the night before but there was no sign of them.  Whales are frequently seen near the San Juan Islands but rarely, if ever, did they congregate in the South Sound. 

After convincing my poor arms that another day of paddling wouldn't actually be akin to torture, we headed out, due north, to make our way around the Hartcene Island.  Man alive, the open water is amazing.  I wish I could bottle the blue-gray water against a white or blue or gray sky and unleash it any time I'm feeling sad or frustrated or anything even remotely angry.  Psychologists say that water is a great source of serenity.  I'm on that train. 

Turns out potty breaks are bound for trouble, because on day 2, we parked for lunch - this time on a decidedly open and non-Native American beach- and had to cross 200 yards of barnacles for a semi-secluded squat site. No need to get into TMI, but my feet were hating my bladder.  Now that I think of it, I'm not sure why I didn't have shoes to come along with me.

It was just as we were coming up on the southern quarter of the island that other kayakers and boaters seemed to be congregating.  Whales. ORCA WHALES.  Paddle paddle paddle, as fast as my jello arms could bring me.  I had to get near them.  And I did!  There were two whales, putting on a show, frolicking around.  After a while, there was another jumping behind the wake of a speedboat.  What??

A fellow kayaker noted that he's been paddling the south Puget Sound for 15 years and has never seen any Orca pods in the area. 

I'm not going to try to paint a picture of the majesty of these whales in this setting, so unexpected.  It was majestic and amazing and way more incredible than I could try to describe.

So be jealous.  And go kayaking. 


Glamming it up

The day I purchased my wedding dress from the Seattle Wedding Expo, I was supposed to recieve a package from the Limited, where I had ordered a Final Sale dress that took my breath away.  Had I received it on time, I probably wouldn't have looked elsewhere because it's seriously adorable.  It arrived the following Tuesday, looked great on me, fit my body and personality and hung for weeks in competition with my Wedding Expo dress.  Maybe I could wear them both? 

In the end, I chose the Expo dress because it accentuated all the right feminities and took my style up a notch, as should be the case on that One Day 'you're supposed to be the star.'  It has a 50's Hollywood Glam thing going on and after deliberation with friend and hired seamstresses, alterations came easily.  [Alterations by Leanne in Lacey was well worth the drive to Olympia, btw.  She's a bit of an odd bird, but she was a more than fair price and is really talented].  And, as you can tell, with this beauty, I'd still have to find myself some shoulder covering, which just takes away from the dress.  But doesn't it just hang so beautifully?

A month before the wedding I set an appointment with the woman who has done my mom's hair for years, and mine intermittently as I've been around.  I needed a trim anyway and thought it would be a good time to talk out some ideas about how to go glam without having finger curls shellacked to my forehead.  The haircut was a bust, as was the planning conversation, and my sister reminded (slash scolded) me on my vent home that I always regret going to this stylist because she always gives me the same haircut (some variation of 'the Rachel') and I only like it when I've styled it myself, at least 3 weeks after the original cut (the cut looks great today, for what it's worth). 

Enter Christie, my beloved cousin, honorary sister (because she's got 6 brothers) and in this case, personal hair stylist.  Christie beyond saved the day with curlers, spray, and hair pins.  I've gotten more compliments on my hair than anything else, I think.  Because it looked awesome and perfect, that's why.

As for other primping, Seretta got me a gift card for a massage, which I took the Wednesday prior, I got a mani-pedi with Christie, and of course, make-up at Neiman Marcus.

It was surprisingly difficult to set an appointment at the makeup counter for me, Brooke, and Maria.  They expect you to know the companies and which lines you want.  Honestly, don't they all have eyeliner and a 30 shades of red lipstick?  I opted for Bobbi Brown, mostly because I've heard of her and think she's known for a natural look.  My makeup artist was also a bride-to-be, though she and her fiancee were opting for a just them Vegas wedding because her family is Luxembourgish and her man is from South Africa (wtf, I know) so they'll be celebrating on those other continents later this summer.  Totally normal.

I worried less about accessories than I probably should have (or maybe just the right amount since it all turned out). Mia made me some silk hair fascinators to go behind my vision of a sideswept bun. They were vetoed last minute for being too white against my ivory gown, but the gem center was the perfect bling, hot glued to a chiffon flower I had originally purchased with the intention of sending all my friends coordinating flowers to accessorize with (you know, one on a headband, one on a necklace, sash, shoe piece, etc.) but that didn't quite come to fruition in the busyness of other planning.

For jewelry, I seriously lucked out with a very last-minute run to Macy's 10 minutes before they closed.  40% off and just perfect.  I matched my mother-in-law's tennis bracelet (not sure if it's real or not but it sure is sparkly!) and opted out of a necklace.  

I forgot my bridal bouquet at home the entire time. 
All dun 'n purdy


Onto the recap

I've been reticent in my blogging lately, which I hate, less for the consistency of publishing and more because the longer I wait, the less I remember and the blurrier the picture I can write with words.  I'm going for a living memoir here, so accuracy and freshness is worth not having a completely fleshed out idea, and I need to remind myself of that.

Until then, I'm in recap mode, namely of my wedding, (including engagement, showers, and preparations) and all the normal life that happened in the meantime.

Goal is to write at least every other day in April so hopefully once the juices get flowing, I'll have made something resembling a habit of keeping record of the life of mine, which now, I'll be sharing with this dapper gent: