Friday, July 30, 2010

A Trip to Tucson

This past weekend, Brian and I decided to venture an hour and a half north to the nearest "Big City" to check it out. When we got to Tucson, it wasn't exactly the booming metropolis we had expected! When I picture cities, I think of crowded streets, tall skyscrapers, and ubiquitous parallel parking. Tucson had none of those things (as far as we saw), but we still had lots of fun!

We wandered around Barnes and Noble and grabbed a quick bite at In-N-Out Burger (I still maintain that Five Guys is better), but our main reason for the trip was the Pima Air and Space Museum. It was definitely the best aviation museum I have ever been to! (Brian insists I need to go to the National Air and Space Museum, which he thinks is the most impressive. One of these days...)

My favorite part was the tram ride, which took you around the outdoor static displays.

A lot of the people who work at the Museum are veterans and actually flew some of the aircraft we were looking at! The tram ride and narration by the driver taught me more about the planes than I could have ever learned by just going around and looking at them, which I loved!

For example, this Air Force One flew John F. Kennedy while he was President. I didn't know that you can tell a presidential aircraft by the blue that goes above the cockpit.

This is in contrast to other government aircraft, like this plane, called "Freedom One," that was used to return the hostages to the United States from Iran in 1981.

There were so many cool things to see at the Pima Air and Space Museum, and I think we could have spent all day there and still not seen everything! I loved hearing about one plane gunner who shot his own aircraft down when it went supersonic, and seeing the wreckage of another that was pulled from Lake Michigan after a training pilot made a teeny mistake. :)

On the drive home, we even caught a beautiful Arizona sunset.

While Tucson wasn't exactly what we expected, I think we will probably head up there again this weekend to see what else we can find to do! It's my next to last weekend in Arizona before returning to real life, so I definitely want to make it count!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cross-Country Road Trip!

I have been a terrible blogger, but for good reason! Brian and I spent last week driving from Maryland to Arizona, where he will be spending the next 4 months in training. A cross-country road trip is something I have always wanted to do, and it was definitely an experience. It took us about five days, but we got to stop and do a lot of fun things along the way!

The first day, we drove almost to Georgia, and then met up with some of Brian's friends from school at Fort Benning for breakfast the next morning. Of course, having breakfast that far south means a trip to Waffle House and lots of grease, but it was so good to see them!

Keiven, Josh (and Finn!), and Brian

Jessi and Me

The second day, we drove through Alabama to Gulfport, Mississippi. We thought we might see some of the oil washing up on the beaches there, but they looked pretty clean to us! We saw a lot of buses full of people in bright yellow vests further down the road, so they may just be doing a very good job with the clean-up.

After a couple more hours of driving, we stopped that night in New Orleans, Louisiana. It is so crazy to see some of the damage still there from Hurricane Katrina. It was a quick trip and we were a bit exhausted, but we managed to drive by the Superdome to the French Quarter, walked along the riverwalk...

...grabbed dinner, and saw the craziness of Bourbon Street! 

Days 3 and 4 took us through Texas. Route 10 goes across literally the middle of nowhere! We did stop in San Antonio for some TX barbecue from Goode Co., but after that...a lot of nothing! I think the weirdest thing about driving through the Midwest is the weather; because it is flat and you can see for miles, you can see it raining and thunder-storming, even if where you are is sunny and cloudless. That, and the speed limit is 80 miles an hour and the landscape is definitely a lot different than MD!

Another thing about Texas that I hadn't expected was the windmills! I don't think I have ever seen one in real life, and I was shocked at how many there were and how huge they are. They look like something from outer space!

After we (finally) got out of Texas, we stopped in Las Cruces, New Mexico and did a little extra driving to visit the dunes in White Sands!

There, the U.S. Park Service preserves a portion of a gypsum dune field, and I think it was one of the coolest things I've ever seen (and, accordingly, I took about 1,000 pictures).

It looked so much like snow, and you can even buy sleds to go down the dunes! We went on a sunset stroll through the dunes, and learned a lot from the park ranger guiding the tour while seeing one of my favorite sunsets in a long time!

On our fifth day of driving, we finally made it to Arizona!

2,878 miles later, we arrived at Brian's new home (more like hotel) until December and moved him in. I had planned on staying for about a week to help him get set up and flying home, but decided to stay for more like two. :) This time that we have had together lately is so special and so rare, and we probably won't be able to spend time like this together again until we're married!

...and while spending endless hours in a cramped car together should probably make you sick and tired of spending time with someone, I'm taking it as a good sign that Brian still wants me to stick around for a bit longer. :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Things I'm Loving Lately

The past two weeks have been filled with so many amazing times and so much love. Here are some things that make me especially happy:

*You guys! I can't thank you all enough for your sweet comments and tweets....seriously! I am over-the-moon lately (for obvious reasons!), and feel so blessed to be able to share with this amazing little community! I can't say it enough. A million trillion times thank you.

*The fortune cookie Brian and I got during our first dinner as an engaged couple (because I love signs!)
Thanks, fortune cookie! We will!

*Catching up with some of my very best friends after a much too long absence from one another...and that we accidentally matched!

*Surprise engagement pictures! I suck at blogging lately but basically, Brian scheduled engagement pictures for us (prior to our actual engagement) for while he was home on leave because he didn't know when he'd be back home again. I love love them and can't wait to see the rest! Our photographer is amazing (and I'm thrilled that it looks like she'll be doing our wedding as well)! But what I love the absolute most is that Brian knew that they were important to me and made it happen.

*The fact that Brian has practically moved into my room during his time at home. Sure, there's a bit more clutter than before, but I love every minute of it. :) (I hate that it is coming to an end, but this list is about things I'm loving, not hating.)

*Picking a ridiculous amount of blueberries and peaches...I love fruit season!

*Buying a wedding organizer and making plans. :)

*A sweet gift from Brian's mom (wedding magazines in a cute cupcake bag!) and hand-written (and drawn!) notes from amazing friends.

I'm still not quite sure how I got so lucky!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Proposal Post :)

I can't thank you all enough for your kind words and congratulations on my last post. Brian and I really feel so blessed. Here is the whole story about how we got might get a bit wordy, but I mainly have my blog to help me remember important events in my life. This moment definitely was one of the biggest!

The last two days of our California vacation were spent at the Inn at Sunset Cliffs in Point Loma, right on the Pacific Ocean. Sunsets are definitely one of our things, and I was really looking forward to this last stop on our vacation. Brian told me that he decided in March when we started planning and booking our vacation that it would be the perfect place to propose.

 A bench at the Inn

Although we had talked about marriage and getting engaged sometime this year, on vacation, it was definitely far from my mind! Besides the fact that we had done a million things and were having a lot of fun (so my brain was on other things), I also thought Brian was a little too nervous to carry an engagement ring through security in the airport a handful of times (once, they even went through the backpack the ring was in...I'm sure he was shaking in his shoes!)

 The courtyard of the Inn
Our room was on the bottom floor,  the last one on the right!

That's why, when Brian suggested we get dressed up and go out for a nice dinner for one of our last nights of vacation, I didn't really think anything of it. It was close to our 2-year anniversary and the trip was obviously our main celebration. I figured it was kind of an early anniversary dinner. We headed over to Coronado and had a delicious Italian dinner at La Terrazza.

When we got back to our hotel, we headed back to the room and I was feeling kind of exhausted. Brian went to see if the fire pit was lit so we could sit outside and make some s'mores (so I thought...little did I know, he had already conspired with someone who worked at the Inn, who was prepared to take pictures for us, and Brian was delivering him the camera). I laid down on the bed and said something about how I was going to change into my pajamas. The main attraction of our hotel was the beautiful sunset views, but it was really cloudy that night.  It didn't seem worth it to rush outside, but Brian talked me into staying dressed and coming out to the terrace to watch the sunset, even though it was cloudy (I'm so glad he was convincing, especially since there are pictures of it!)

Where we got engaged

He turned around a bench for us to sit on facing the water, and we sat for a couple of minutes before Brian started talking, was suddenly down on his knee, and was asking me to marry him! My first reaction was, "Oh my gosh, are you kidding?" I actually said it out loud, which apparently threw Brian off a bit. I covered my face with my hands and started to cry, hugged Brian (while he was still holding the ring behind my back and trying not to drop it into the ocean) while continuing to cry, and then finally pulled away from him and said...YES, of course! and he put the (BEAUTIFUL) ring on my finger.

Brian is still holding the ring behind my back in this picture :)

I realized at some point that there was a camera flashing, but there were other people on the terrace, so I just kind of ignored it and assumed someone random was taking our picture. When we got up from the bench, Brian thanked the guy from the Inn and explained that he had set the whole thing up in advance! Later, the 'photographer' gave us a bottle of wine to celebrate. He was SO nice! :)

Right after the proposal!

Obviously, the most exciting part of our engagement is the fact that I get to marry my best friend in the entire universe!!!...but the gorgeous ring Brian gave me is definitely the icing on the cake. It is a cathedral set round diamond with pavé diamonds around the band...and I absolutely LOVE it. It couldn't be more perfect for me. When Brian visited the jeweler, he spent hours looking at loose diamonds, and then couldn't find a setting he liked. He eventually sketched out a design of what he was looking for with the master jeweler, and the ring was created especially for is one of a kind! Brian got to see several wax carvings of the setting, the creation of a mold, and the ring in various stages of being made. I think it is so cool that my ring was made just for me...and that the jeweler, Vic, will create a wedding band to fit it perfectly. :)

My ring :)

After the engagement, we were obviously too excited to head to bed! Because of the time difference, it was difficult to tell everyone we wanted to about our engagement. I did get to call my mom and a handful of my closest friends to tell them the super exciting news. After that, my mom posted it on Facebook and then (practically) the whole world knew! After the phone calls, we headed back to Coronado for a couple of celebratory drinks at the Hotel Del...too expensive for a regular day, but perfect for the day we got engaged! As it turns out, the woman at the table beside us had paid for our drinks without ever saying a word to us, and was gone before we could even thank her!

Drinks at the Del

That night, I couldn't sleep...I was up every couple of hours, nudging Brian, looking at my pretty ring, and doing a little celebration dance! I have to say that the day we got engaged was the best day of my life so far...I feel so blessed that I get to share my life with such an incredible person. I didn't think it was possible, but being engaged has definitely brought us closer and made our love for each other deeper.

If you stuck with me for this entire post, you deserve some kind of award. Thanks again for all of your congratulations! :)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Some Big (and HUGE) Vacation Highlights :)

After a horrendous day of traveling yesterday (and the night before), Brian and I finally made it home! Our two weeks in Lake Tahoe and San Diego felt like at least a month, and it was the awesomest, most fun vacation ever! We got to do so many neat things! Here are a *few* of the highlights...

We went hiking in Lake Tahoe and saw some amazing views (seriously, pictures don't do it justice!)...

...and then rented 4-wheelers...

...for an overnight camping trip (complete with fire and s'mores, of course!).

Brian and I enjoyed the hot tub on our roof to watch some amazing Tahoe sunsets...

 ...and went to the Barrett-Jackson collector car auction and took a hot lap in a Corvette.

We hopped on a plane and enjoyed the beach in San Diego...

...ate lots of good Mexican food in Old Town (and lots of other good food...and cupcakes!)(and I gained approximately 5 lbs. to prove it)...

 ...went to the San Diego Air and Space Museum...

...took a surfing lesson in La Jolla (and were actually successful in surfing and not just falling!)...

 ...and spent lots of time in Coronado on the beach and at the Hotel Del.

Oh, and this also happened. :)

After a nice dinner in Coronado on June 28th, Brian and I went back to our hotel in Sunset Cliffs to watch a (cloudy) sunset where he proceeded to get down on one knee, show me the most beautiful ring ever, and ask me to marry him! AAAHHHH!

WE'RE ENGAGED! It was totally a surprise, so special and so totally us, and I could NOT be happier! I have known for a long time that Brian was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, and I'm glad he obviously feels the same way. Today is actually our two year anniversary, but obviously we did our celebrating a little early. :)

Some of you who follow me on Twitter already knew this news, and I am so so blessed by all of your well wishes. The outpouring of love and support from our family and friends has been truly overwhelming (in the best way ever)...Brian and I are lucky to have such an amazing group of people who love us! I seriously cannot stop smiling!

I'll try to write out a full post about the whole proposal while it's still fresh in my mind (because that's obviously a super special moment I am going to want to relive and remember forever and ever), but I have a holiday weekend to go prepare for! I'm going to try to do it early next the meantime, have an amazing 4th of July!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

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