Back to Reality / Belated 2011 Recap (Part 1 of 3)

Monday, January 9, 2012

After more than three weeks of epic wedding/holiday/honeymoon fun, today I'm back at work. I know, tough life, right? I actually don't mind (too much) getting back to life here in PA, although I'm sure I will be eating those words as soon as the next snowstorm hits. Right now it's a pleasant 32 degrees outside (haha), but at least it's sunny! And the sky is (kind of) blue! Considering there is usually a ceiling of oppressive gray clouds hanging ten feet above my head here, I will take any kind of blue I can get.

Because I've been traveling so much the last few weeks and was in Hawai'i for New Year's, I didn't get to do a recap of 2011, which I very much enjoy writing for my own amusement as much as anyone else's. Even though it's now JANUARY NINTH (wow), I still thought it would be good to do a brief write-up about 2011, since the year was so very, very good to me. In fact, I'm going to do three blogs about it, one today about January-April 2011, one tomorrow about May-July 2011, and one Wednesday about August-December 2011. Why those dates? Well, that roughly breaks down to 1) first semester as a newly engaged ABD student, 2) summer in London and last class at Auburn, and 3) the move to PA and wedding. After those blogs I'm going to do a thorough trip report of our amazing honeymoon in Hawai'i (ten days, four islands, lots of adventure).

The highlights of that last full semester at Auburn (Jan-April 2011) were that: 1) on the work front, I only had to teach two classes after YEARS of teaching 4-5, which gave me loads more time to work on my writing/plan for London/plan a wedding/catch up on all seven seasons of Desperate Housewives; 2) on the academic front, I wrote my dissertation prospectus (a total work of fiction that's completely different from what I'm doing now), got an article accepted into a collection, worked with my dissertation director and academic writing group to learn more about what we would be doing in London, and presented at ASECS in Vancouver, which spun off into 3) a week-long vacation in the Pacific Northwest and my surprise engagement. Somewhere along the way I also managed to get a few stories and a poem published.

The trip to the Pacific Northwest was definitely the best part of the semester, though, and not just because T gave me Kindle #1 while we were there! (The engagement ring was nice, too.) We also got to take some road trips and see and do some totally amazing things, like...

...visit the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA.

From Kids Design Glass, an exhibit of glass representations of children's drawings. Possibly my favorite exhibit of the year.
Most people probably don't know this, but blown glass is one of my favorite art forms. The Seattle area is full of glass artists, and the Museum of Glass is a wonderful museum where you can not only see amazing works of glass art, but also watch resident artists creating their masterpieces step-by-step in the Hot Shop.

After we left the museum, we walked across the amazing Chihuly Bridge of Glass... we could see the other Chihuly installations at Union Station.

After leaving Tacoma, we drove up to Vancouver. Instead of hitting the interstate the whole way, we took the scenic route on Chuckanut Drive along Puget Sound. It was the wrong time of year for spotting whales (March falls right between the two main whale-sighting seasons), but it was a beautiful drive, nonetheless.

Another fun fact about me is that I loooove scenic drives and have spent half of most of my favorite vacations in the car, taking in the views. (More on that when we get to the Hawai'i trip report.)
In Vancouver, along with eating at loads of yummy restaurants, walking the downtown area around the Sheraton Wall Centre, and presenting at ASECS, we biked the seawall around Stanley Park.

Then we headed to Whistler for a couple of days. We took the Sea to Sky Highway, which is another beautiful drive--glassy gray-blue water on one side, snow-capped mountains on the other...

...and tons of waterfalls all along the way.

Shannon Falls
In Whistler, we enjoyed watching the skiers, wandering around Whistler Village, eating lots of yummy food (the theme for this trip, but Elements tapas restaurant in Whistler was one of the best places I've EVER eaten), and we went snowmobiling in the back country of Whistler/Blackcomb, which was an incredible experience.

On the way back to Vancouver, we stopped to see Brandywine Falls, only the trail was completely covered in several feet of snow. I was perfectly content to continue driving, but T was insistent that we make the hike, hence...

Trust me--I was not smiling through most of that hike.
That night we had dinner at Seasons in the Park in Queen Elizabeth Park overlooking Vancouver, and T was quite taken with this garden...

He wanted to walk around it, but it was ridiculously cold outside and I refused, so he insisted we come back the next morning. I thought that was strange but went along with it, and the next day we wandered around the garden taking pictures for awhile. When I walked onto this bridge to watch the ducks...

...I turned around and he was down on one knee! I was shocked, to say the least, but apparently he'd been trying to propose all week (in Whistler, on the Brandywine Falls hike, on the seawall bike trip) and had been thwarted at every turn.

Minutes after he proposed!
Next we drove back to Seattle, where we took the elevator to the top of the Space Needle, ate more yummy food, and went to Pike Market Place (where we loaded up on fresh dried fruit and almonds, Market Spice tea, and Beecher's cheese). We spent the next day driving around Olympic National Park and taking short hikes (which I've blogged about here and here), and ended our perfect vacation on the most perfect beach...

Ruby Beach (also see picture in header above)
To this day, sitting on Ruby Beach is one of my most favorite memories, not just of that trip, but of all time. It was peaceful and calm in a way few beautiful places are these days. We shared the beach that evening with only four other people, and the whole scene--the sunset, the receding tide, the storm sweeping across the water--felt so special, so far removed from the rest of the world.

The months of January to April are a blur now, most days, weeks, and even months completely lost to me now, but the memories I made that week will last as long as I live.


American Puzzle January 9, 2012 at 7:05 PM  

What a wonderful recap - and wonderful moments! :) Looking forward to reading more!

Tawnysha Greene January 10, 2012 at 3:54 PM  

Beautiful pics! Looking forward to seeing the rest of the updates!

Lacy Marschalk January 11, 2012 at 11:42 AM  

Thanks, guys! Post two is up, and post three will be up shortly!

Moka B. January 12, 2012 at 1:26 PM  

Lacy, you take some of the most beautiful pics in some of the most beautiful places. I gasped on a couple of them! Loving the recaps! :-)

Lacy Marschalk January 12, 2012 at 1:47 PM  

Awww, thanks, Mo! More to come. I'm starting on the Hawaii recaps now. They will be shorter, I promise! (Or, I'll try.) ;-)

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