Friday, January 31, 2014

Travels With Sadie, Part Six: Seattle

Our last stop before heading back to Germany was Seattle. We were flying home out of Seattle because it was much cheaper than flying from Missoula. Our original plan had been to drive (or have someone drive us) from Missoula, but because of the weather my parents thought it would be safer to fly. We flew on Horizon, and even though it was a really short flight, it was pretty nice. The plane was a "turbo-prop," which usually freaks Hunter out, but they did have free micro-brew beer, which was a nice surprise for such a small airline. It was an IPA, but hey, it's free.

We were only going to be in Seattle for one night, and I wanted to see my friend Megg, who I met at library school. We planned to meet at a local brewery that was not too far from our hotel by the airport. Of course, I went to the wrong location and we got there I think an hour after we had planned to. I also learned in even the short time I was there that driving in Seattle is terrible. Like, there are turn only lanes that aren't actually marked until you have passed the point where you must turn. And I mean, that sounds like I'm exaggerating, like it's only very close to where you must turn, but no. I mean, the Sims family's feelings toward Seattle weren't great that week anyway (it was just a few days before the playoff game) but dang driving was annoying. Plus, we didn't have any GPS or smartphones or anything, just the flip phone we had bought for the trip.

Anyway, our flight out didn't leave until like six the next evening, so we had some time to see a sight. I decided on the Experience Music Project, as my friend Megg had suggested. When I went to the website, I saw that they had an exhibit about Nirvana and one about icons of scifi, so obviously I was in. I had been to the museum I think twice before, once in 2005 and once before that, like pretty soon after it had opened I think. At that time, there were huge lines and it was pretty crowded, but it wasn't really like that this time. The exhibits had also changed. When I went before, there was only one section dedicated to science fiction and this time there was a lot. In addition to the aforementioned "Icons" exhibit, there was one about fantasy and one about horror film. I also thought that when I was there before, there was a bit more general music memorabilia/history, and this time there were really only special exhibits: the one about Nirvana and one about Jimi Hendrix.

I enjoyed seeing the Nirvana stuff. None of the information was anything new if you've read like everything there is on the subject, but it's cool to see guitars and such up close, and it also contexutalized their music within the larger cultural climate, so it wasn't just like a history of Nirvana. Hunter thought it was kind of weird to see guitars that had been smashed, in the sense that it's done as like an act of destruction and yet ends up being preserved and in a museum. He also commented on the exhibit being like a "safe, sterile way to experience Nirvana." I see what he's getting at, but I also feel like if you're visiting it, you're a fan and you aren't like, experiencing it from a distance, you're just augmenting what you already have. I didn't take any pictures of the Nirvana stuff, but I did get some of the memorabilia we saw.

Dalek from Doctor Who 

 Data's Uniform, Star Trek: TNG

 Yoda's Walking Stick, Star Wars

Captain's Chair, Star Trek. Really wish they let you sit in it. 

Mr. Pointy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer 

Jack Torrance's Axe, The Shining 

Costumes from The Princess Bride 

Costumes and Masks from Labyrinth

Anyway, I will have just one more post about our travels, describing the trip back. Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Travels With Sadie, Part Five: Montana (pics of baby in snow)

So, Reader, when we left off, I believe we were going to the airport in Nashville to head up to Montana. Our flight was scheduled to leave at sometime around 3:30, but pretty much as soon as we got there we were informed it would be delayed. We had a layover scheduled in Denver, and it was at the point that we wouldn't make our connection with our newly delayed departure. The only solution was a flight on Delta with a layover in Minneapolis. This made me nervous for a few reasons. First of all, since delays were being caused because of weather (the plane we were originally supposed to be on was coming from Chicago), I wasn't confident that we'd be able to land and then take off from Minneapolis. Secondly, the flight was on Delta. I have never had a good experience with Delta. We have gotten to the point where we pay more just so we don't have to fly on Delta. They have just made mistake after mistake and I really don't like flying that airline. But it was literally the only option with even a possibility of getting to Missoula that night. I think the flight left at like 6:45, so we were in the airport for quite a while.

By the time we left on time (miraculously), our flight was one of like five flights in the entire Nashville airport that wasn't delayed or cancelled. One flight was cancelled because one of the flight attendants wasn't legal to fly that route and they couldn't get anyone else to do it or something. So I was definitely impressed with Delta on this one occasion (and they soon fell back out of my good graces). Anyway, the connection in Minneapolis was going to be pretty tight. We were going to a flight in a different concourse, and there are no trams between concourses (there seems to be a light rail between the terminals, according to the map, but not between concourses within the same terminal). We had checked Sadie's carseat at the gate, so Hunter and I agreed that he would go ahead to our new gate and let them know that I was coming, if necessary, while I picked up the carseat. Well, the carseat never showed up with everyone else's bags, and I certainly wasn't going to stand around to wait and ask someone about it. Basically I made a call that it was worth 75 Euros to just get to Montana tonight, and I'm so glad I did. Because when we got of the plane, my sister was there waiting for me! I had been thinking for months that I wouldn't get to see her, and she surprised me! It was so awesome!

She gets to take the first turn with little Sadie

It had been a long day, and it was about an hour drive back on some icy roads. We did have a carseat that someone lent us, since I had texted my mom to let her know about losing ours (it turns out it's pretty hard to communicate with them regarding gate checked baggage, or really at all, and as of this writing I'm still waiting to hear back from them about the possibility of reimbursement). I don't remember too much more of that night, but I'm guessing people passed Sadie around a bit before we went to bed.

Sadie with Great-Grandma DD

The next day, it actually snowed, so we got to go play in it! It was a bit hard and crunchy, rather than powdery, but we still got some good pics.

 She loved the cold weather!

 Making a snow angel

She didn't really ride the snowmobile

One of the best things about going to my grandparents' house in Montana is staying up late playing games. I've been doing it since I can remember and we got Sadie started early.We played Celebrity (my personal favorite), the Awkward Family Photos game, and Loaded Questions over the next few nights.

She is such a weird sleeper 

The whole fam!

One surprising thing that happened in Montana is that I got the best Mexican food of my trip back to the US. There was a new restaurant that had just opened, very authentic type Mexican food, very delicious. Like always, it was sad to leave. We had one more stop before coming back to Germany: Seattle.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Travels With Sadie, Part Four: Knoxville

After we left Birmingham, we headed up to Knoxville. Hunter's maternal grandmother and his mom's sister live there. We stayed with his aunt, Margaret and her husband, Layne. Here is a great picture of them with Sadie. Layne is really big... like 6'5" at least is my guess so there is quite a contrast between him and Sadie!

We were only in Knoxville for two nights, but it was a relaxing stay. We weren't running around every second trying to see people so it was nice to just sit around a bit. We went to Hunter's grandma's for a dinner/supper type meal which was so delicious! A nice change from German food for sure!

Hunter's aunt doesn't have any kids, and I believe she hadn't held a baby since Hunter's brother. But she really took to Sadie! I was so happy that this branch of the family got to meet the little princess!

I don't think there's anything on my computer to remove red eye.

We planned to fly out from Nashville. The night before we left, I got a pretty bad headache and the next day I felt completely awful. I mean my head was pounding, throat hurt, sinuses, etc. But I toughed it out so we could make our flight and, as you will soon see, I was glad I did.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Travels With Sadie, Part Three: Tuscaloosa

After seeing my friend Shawn in Mobile, we headed up to Tuscaloosa. We got there a bit later than we had hoped, around I think 9pm, because travelling with a baby takes a while and also I missed an exit and then the next exit wasn't until 10 miles later.

Looking goofy but beautiful in the gown my mom made

If you asked me a few years ago if I would ever go back to Tuscaloosa after moving away, I probably would have said no. I really didn't like living there. Even though there are still things I don't like about it, and I wouldn't want to live there permanently, some of the best friends I have ever made were there. This is part of why it was so important to us to have Sadie baptized at Riverwood, our church from Tuscaloosa. There is a part of the baptismal vows directed at the congregation, where they essentially agree to help us raise Sadie (I looked for the exact text online but couldn't find it). While we don't live in Tuscaloosa anymore, I feel that the connections we made there will be lifelong and there are so many people who I hope continue to be a part of Sadie's life. Even though we are no longer attending Riverwood weekly, I can think of at least 20 people off the top of my head who would help us out at any time if we needed it. The people we met there are our family, in the truest way.

During the baptism, taken by Clay Staggs

One part of the baptism I found very special were some people who don't usually attend Riverwood who came to see it. My friend and former co-worker Michelle, who we stayed with while in Tuscaloosa, my friend and former co-worker Adam and his girlfriend Britton, and our friends Steve and Lesley Davenport, who once attended Riverwood but now live in Boston. It was so great to us that all of these people could be there. Sadie behaved really well during the baptism. Hunter and I think that she knew how cute she looked in her outfit and it made her happy.

Tim and Sadie, taken by Clay Staggs

That night, there was a little gathering for people to hang out and catch up and everything. I saw people I hadn't seen in a while, including some kids who had gotten so much bigger than the last time I saw them! I can't believe that this time next year, Sadie might be running around like they were! We also got to see our friend Lauren from Tulane, who happened to be passing through Alabama while we were there, which was really cool. Of course, a lot of people took turns holding Sadie. Many of these photos are viewable on my Instagram.

Sadie on her mat while the kids play

A few of the kids I had taught last year don't attend Riverwood, so Michelle, who is their teacher this year, contacted their parents and they came over to her house so I could see them and they could meet Sadie!

Me and the kids

We were only in Tuscaloosa for a few days, but we managed to do a lot during that time. We went to a New Year's Eve party where even more people got to meet/hold Sadie (I barely saw her the entire night!), I got to visit the tap room at the brewery I invested in, we ate Chipotle and barbeque and Buffalo Wild Wings, went to our old favorite bar... it was a really great time and it meant so much to me how many people made the effort to see and hang out with us. After Tuscaloosa, we headed up to Knoxville, and on our way through Birmingham we had lunch with our friends Maggie and Daniel, also formerly of Riverwood. We had Mexican food, because you can't get it in Germany. I really never thought I would enjoy a trip to Alabama so much!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Travels With Sadie, Part Two: New Orleans

The first stop on our grand tour was New Orleans. Hunter's dad and stepmom live there with his sister and grandmother (heretofore referred to as "Bubbles"), and his mom also moved to Metairie recently. We also had some friends from college who were in town at the time.

Sadie and Bubbles

It was a busy week. When we are in New Orleans, we always have a list of foods that we want to get and restaurants that we want to go to. We got to eat Cane's chicken, Camellia Grill, R and O's, some tasty catfish cooked by Hunter's sister, Venezia's, and Angelo Brocato's.

Sadie and Aunt Amanda

While we were in New Orleans, we got really into this game show called The Chase. It was super fun to play along with, and I think I could do pretty well if I ever got the chance to go on there.

Sadie with Hunter's Mom ("Mimi")

Of course, it just wouldn't be the Sims if we didn't have phone troubles. We bought a SIM card to put in Hunter's phone, but couldn't get it to work. On top of that, he mislaid his old SIM card. D'oh! So we didn't have phones for the duration of our stay in NOLA. I was hoping we'd get into some kind of '90s sitcom mishap, but it didn't go that way.


Sadie also played her first board games. Well, she didn't actually play, but she sat with us while we played with our friends Colin and Joey, who we know from Tulane. We played Colossal Arena, which I wasn't great at, and Incan Gold, at which I did annoyingly well. 

Playing on her owl mat

When we left New Orleans, we took a long route through Mobile to see our friend Shawn. We got to eat at Foosackly's. I was eating as much fried chicken (or, if you prefer, chicken that has been fried) as I could, since that's one thing you don't see much of in Germany.

Sadie and Hunter's Dad

Leaving New Orleans wasn't easy. It was so great to see everyone meet Sadie for the first time and very sad to go. 

Next up: Tuscaloosa and Sadie's baptism!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Travels With Sadie, Part One: The Trip Over

Well! We are back from America. Now that we are home, it almost feels like we never left. I'm going to break up blogging about our trip into pieces, since it would be a looooong post if I did it all at once. The first thing I'll tell about is the trip over.

We were flying out of Dusseldorf, and since our flight was in the morning we stayed the night at a hotel. The Sheraton is right at the airport, and I got a room for free using my American Express points. The room actually had a king bed, instead of the two twins pushed together that Germans are into. We ordered room service and got drinks from the mini-bar, just wanting to have a relaxing time before the plane ride. One interesting thing I noticed about the hotel is that they don't keep your credit card on file, and when you check out you just tell them what you took from the mini-bar. If you didn't tell them, you wouldn't be charged for it. This is kind of emblematic of the German attitude. For one thing, I think for most of them, it just wouldn't occur to them not to say what they took. And for another, they just seem to be okay with doing things for the greater good, like they know if everyone were dishonest the system wouldn't work, so they are honest. In a Prisoner's Dilemma situation, I feel like a German would co-operate every time, where the American attitude leans more toward betrayal.

Anyway, we headed to the airport the next day and got on our flight. We were going through Chicago and then on to New Orleans, flying on America Airlines. I had paid extra for the bulkhead seats, which I think they call "Economy Extra" or something like that, since with a baby it was likely I'd need to get up, plus the extra space was nice. The plane we were on had a bassinet that attached to the wall, although it could not be used when the seatbelt sign was on and despite being a pretty smooth ride, the seatbelt sign was on for most of the trip, so we ended up not taking advantage of that. Being an... American airline, American Airlines is pretty no-frills, although the flight attendants were friendly. In coach, we had the communal video screens, which I didn't watch. I slept a little while holding Sadie, who was pretty quiet for most of the flight. Really, the only time she cried was when she needed something, so we were pretty pleased about that.

Our layover in Chicago was 2.5 hours, which we weren't sure would be enough time. In addition to travelling with a baby, when you fly into the US from another country, you have to get your bags and recheck them. But that actually went really quickly and we made our next flight no problem (plus I think it was delayed a little bit). At the point we got on the second plane, we had been travelling for a really long time, and it was showing. Sadie was a lot fussier on the second flight, but nursing calmed her down a bit. We got to New Orleans around 6 o'clock local time, which for us was like 1 in the morning+limited sleep for the past 24 hours. I went to get the rental car while Hunter got the bags and when I put Sadie in the back in her carseat, she started screaming, I mean I had never heard her sound so upset before. I think she was lonely and since the carseats face backwards, she couldn't see that I was there. Hunter sat in the back with her once I got to him so she would feel safe.

All right, next post I will talk about our time in New Orleans and should also have some pictures to post!