Saturday, September 6, 2008

"Staycation, All I Ever Wanted..."

Ryan and I have started an unofficial tradition to spend Labor Day taking a day trip to somewhere we’ve never visited. Last Labor Day was my first official holiday in the big city (if you don’t count my birthday, ha!), so I use it as sort of a measuring stick for how long I’ve been on the East Coast. Last year, Ryan and I took the train out to Jones Beach on Long Island. It was a bit of a trek (it takes a subway, train, and bus ride just to get out there), but worth the day off.

I was especially excited to head out there, because Ryan and I had never been to the ocean together before. The beach wasn’t crowded in the least, and the weather was sunny and breezy. We even bought a Pro Kadima paddle ball set for a little extra entertainment (well worth the purchase as it now accompanies us on every park trip). We spent the whole afternoon playing paddle ball and attempting to swim in the (freezing) water. The ocean floor was so ridiculously rocky that you could barely walk! If we ever go back, I’m definitely bringing a pair of these hot numbers with me:


Unfortunately, my camera battery died after just one photo, something you’ll soon find to be a recurring theme in my life. I only have one snapshot of Ryan, but it’s definitely not his most flattering photo so I don’t think he’d “appreesh” very much if I posted it. :) I did collect a bunch of seashells from the excursion though, which we washed and arranged in a vase for posterity. Something a little more romantic to remember the trip by than just that Pro Kadima set.

Ryan: Blair fails to mention that she wrapped the shells up in a bandana, and just left them on the kitchen window sill for about 4 months before washing and arranging them...

Labor Day 2008

This year, we decided to venture out to Coney Island for our big Labor Day trip. I’d read somewhere that this summer was the last summer you’d be able to find Coney Island in all it’s freak show-watchin’, arcade-playin’, Nathan’s Hot Dog-eatin’ glory. Apparently, some real estate developer bought everything up and will tear down most of the Coney Island attractions everyone has come to know and love; we didn’t want to miss out on the experience before it was dissappeared.
Ryan: Besides, where would all the foreign immigrants go to bask in their Speedos?

It took us about an hour to get there by subway, around 20 stops or so. MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority, for all you non-city dwellers, is the government agency that runs the subway system here in the city) is testing out some new state-of-the-art subway cars, so I was pretty amped to be on one for the ride out. So clean and high-tech, with electronic maps, TVs, and whatnot.

The train station is caddy corner to the original Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog stand, so we made that our first stop of the day. Needless to say, the line was PACKED! We waited in line for about 25 minutes, just to get a taste of the original Coney Dog (yes, I’m still a vegetarian, we’ll get to that in a minute). The wait was worth it though just for the people watching. Plenty of crazies out there to observe.
Ryan: Again, the Speedos and lots of chest hair.

My favorite was probably the lady who was standing in front of us in line for hot dogs… A normal enough looking gal, about 10 years older than us. Nice and quiet in line, until it came to be her turn. All of a sudden I hear her yell at the cashier “What do you MEAN it’s all hot dogs… Like MEAT hot dogs!?”, and then proceeded to have a nice little meltdown. Apparently this chick waited in line… for 25 minutes… at arguably the most FAMOUS, old fashioned hot dog stand of all time… and just assumed that their “peppers and onions dog” was a veggie hot dog made of peppers and onions. Call me crazy, but I don’t know why someone would think that an institution like that would buck 90-some-odd years of tradition and just decide to say “You know what? We should throw some mock meat wieners on that menu.”

Once her little tofu-fueled tantrum had subsided, it was our turn to get a piece of hot dog history. Even though I’m still a Boulder veggie hippie at heart, I decided to give one of those dogs a shot. I mean, they’re supposed to be the best in the world, right? It just seemed wrong to pass up the opportunity and have a side of fries for lunch instead. We went crazy with corn dogs, regular Coney dogs, and a large order of cheesy fries. Those cheese fries alone had a modest calorie count of 1,444. Nice. I must say that I can kind of understand why Kobayashi would want to put 60 of those suckers down, they were pretty delish.

Ryan, About To Dive In

Nice Fingertip In The Gratuteous Nathan's Shot, Ry

Those Wicked Cheese Fries

They Apparently Couldn't Be Bothered To Cut This One, So We Also Had Cheese Fingerling Potatoes

After that, we tried to walk off the 2 days’ worth of calories we had just ingested and take in some of the sights. We ended up making a bee line right for the infamous Cyclone Roller Coaster. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do after a huge lunch of hot dogs, cheese fries, and soda, but we were still game.

The World Famous Coney Island Cyclone

I Don't Want To Talk About It.

Ryan and I both consider ourselves roller coaster fans, so we weren’t considering the ride to be anything special. I mean rickety old wooden roller coasters are cool and all, but no match for the newer, faster, high-tech machines they have today, right? WRONG.

This. Thing. Was. SCARY. By stroke of luck (or not?), we ended up in the front car. I spent the entire ride seriously wondering if I would get brain damage, or whether we would just die first before the brain damage had the chance to kick in. You could literally feel the car separating and lifting off of the track as it turned corners and lunged down the drops. Overall it was a great experience, but we were pretty sore for the rest of the day. Here’s a little snapshot of what was probably my favorite part of the whole experience:

Needless to say, we stayed away from the rest of the rides that afternoon. After the roller coaster, I wasn’t about to tempt fate by getting on another crazy old ride some carnie was operating. These little feet were staying squarely on the ground, thankyouverymuch.

Hot Dog Vending Machine... Seriously

Strangest Attraction There

We decided to end off the trip by walking out to the end of the Coney Island pier. I definitely recommend this if you’re looking to get away from the touristy stuff and want to observe the locals in their native habitat. The pier is apparently the hot spot for fishing, so we spent a good portion of the time watching people make a lazy afternoon out of catching the evening’s dinner.

This Little One Was Talking To The Fish Like They Were Her Pets, Irresistibly Cute

Being a mountain gal (and not a huge fan of seafood), I’ve never had much exposure to anything having to do with lobsters, crabs, etc. We had the pleasure of watching people fishing for crab, which is something I never thought I’d see. Basically, it consists of someone tying a raw chicken thigh to the bottom of a collapsible basket, and then hurling it off the pier. They tether the basket with a rope to the pier, let it sink to the bottom, and wait for some unsuspecting crab to catch a bite of chicken goodness. We probably saw 10 or 20 crabs in various peoples’ catch buckets.

Crab Potting In Action

All in all, it was a really fun experience for the both of us. We both feel very blessed to live in a city that has so much to offer us only a short train ride away. We hope you were able to squeeze a little adventure into your Labor Day as well!!!


Saturday, August 30, 2008

... And We're Back!

Well, my first attempt at keeping this blog rolling clearly didn't work out so well. Maintaining a blog of our crazy city life is at the top of my 101 In 1001 list (more on that soon), so I needed to step it up and get moving. Also, I spend so much time reading blogs these days to keep up with everyone's lives, I just can't let it sit any longer! Ryan and I have so many exciting things going on in our lives that it just seems high time to give this blog the proper attention it deserves. Without further ado, let's catch you up on everything that's been going on out here in the Big City.

First things first... WE'RE ENGAGED!!!

I know that this isn’t much of a surprise to anyone by now, but we’re still extremely excited about it. I was completely shocked. Here's the grand proposal story, for those of you who haven't gotten the story.

Ryan and I decided to ring in the New Year with a trip out to Phoenix to see friends and family. Our plan for the big night was to head over to a housewarming party at our friends Megan and Jake’s, who had just scored an *amazing* apartment at the Optima Biltmore. We were going to celebrate there, and then walk over to Merc Bar to ring in 2008.

We decided to splurge on a room at the Ritz Carlton, since it was smack dab in the middle of both locations and within walking distance. Ryan surprised me with dinner reservations at Morton’s before the night’s events. We had an incredibly romantic dinner there, and then headed back to the room to freshen up before the night’s festivities. As I put the key card in the door, I heard faint music coming from our room. Not possible, I thought, since I know I turned off the lights and the TV before leaving (a gal’s got to be energy conscious these days, right??). After he convinced me that we weren’t trying to break into someone else’s room, I opened the door to find my second surprise of the night:

(apologies for the blurry photo, it was taken in my iPhone)

The staff at the Ritz snuck into our room while we were gone, and transformed the place. There were rose petals everywhere, along with a dozen roses, a bottle of champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries, and a romantic CD playing in the background. I figured Ryan just wanted to make the evening extra-special. We popped the champagne, and reveled at how awesome the room looked.

Ryan started talking about just how happy he was and how much he loved me (mind you I still didn't figure out what was going on at this point). I was sitting on the edge of the bed, and next thing I know, he’s down in front of me on one knee. Needless to say, I can’t remember much of what he said because I was in complete shock. I just remember looking at him, and cupping my hands over my mouth in complete surprise. He asked me to marry him, and I of course said yes!

I looked down, and there I saw the most beautiful ring. It was an old antique diamond that had belonged to his great-great grandmother Flora. I just couldn’t take my eyes off of it, and wanted to wear it immediately! Unfortunately, the ring was so old that the band had split where it wraps underneath the finger, so he said I wouldn’t be able to wear it that night.
So what happens next? Well, he pulls *another* ring box out and offers that to me! It was a diamond cocktail ring, another beautiful family heirloom. He told me that I could wear that ring for the evening, and then use the stones from both rings to create the engagement ring of my dreams. I already felt like the luckiest girl in the ENTIRE world, but being proposed to with 2 rings was just beyond! I was so in love with the first ring that, in the words of Tim Gunn, I was going to "make it work". Broken or no, that thing was not coming off my finger.
Here's our first official photo as an engaged photo, in all it's teary-eyed, silly-grinned glory.

It was easily the best night of my life. I loved that we were in Phoenix (where we met), our room overlooked Camelback Mountain (where we had our first kiss), and we were going to spend the rest of the night celebrating with some of my best girlfriends at Merc Bar (where we had part of our first date). Well played, Mr. Scalise!

Here are a few photos of the rest of the night's celebration. What I don't have photos of (and desperately wish I did) would be of Ryan screaming "WE'RE GETTING MARRIED!" to anyone that walked by us outside of the bar, and of (jerky) Steve Nash, who was sitting at the table next to us all evening. Epic night, to be sure.

The First Semi-Decent Photo of The Scalise-To-Be's

(minus me squishing Ryan's face with my big cheeks)

Get Excited!

Cheers to 2008

Kim and I at Merc Bar

Only 8 more months' worth of life to catch you up on now! Big props to my boss for giving us a 4-day weekend this Labor Day, so I can get this baby up to speed.

Hope y'all are having a great holiday weekend!


Thursday, January 10, 2008

...And So It Begins!

As you can imagine, the pace of life out here in NYC is quite a bit different... Thus, we've struggled to find a way to keep everyone in the loop on our new life in the Big Apple. I've drafted about 5 different versions of the all-seeing, all-encompassing "Update Letter" I've promised to more of you than I care to admit... With so many new things happening each day (Celebrity sightings! Crazy subway stories!) , it dawned on me that a blog might just be the perfect way for us to share our New York adventure with family and friends.

Please be patient with us while we learn how to use this thing... Can't wait to get it rollin'!

And in the words of Ron Burgandy and Veronica Corningstone..."You stay classy San Diego, and thanks for stopping by!"