Monday, August 31, 2009

The Best Kind Of Summer Camp

When I was in the sixth or seventh grade, the one thing I really wanted to do was to go to Camp Lawrence. If I remember correctly, this was a week-long Catholic summer camp for elementary and middle school age kids. For some reason, going to camp was the big thing that year. Everyone was going. My friends and I started making lists of the things we needed to take. All of our enthusiasm didn't make any difference to my parents though, or to the parents of many of my friends. It was a no-go. So my equally deprived best friend and I spent camp week at home, making hippie love bead necklaces, riding our bikes, and being annoying.

Well, the good kind of karma struck when I found out about Camp Iwannastitch, which is held at my favorite cross stitch shop, The Dogwood Patch. The store itself is located in Hiawassee, GA, with mountains and Lake Chatuge in view. What a beautiful setting for a relaxing, stress-free weekend!

My sister, Sheila, and I booked our camp spots with the expectation that it would be as wonderful as last year's and we were not disappointed! Armed with our stitching and supplies, we made the trip through the winding roads of the North Georgia Mountains. We arrived on Friday afternoon to greetings from the store owner, Terrie, and our fellow campers. The store was stocked with fabulous charts, floss, fabric and supplies, plus chocolate in the form of candy and brownies. Terrie and her husband, Kenneth, are great hosts and always made sure we had everything we needed. Who could ask for anything more?

So from Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon, we stitched, ate (the food was good too), shopped, played games, had some great conversation and then stitched some more. Some people might be confused as to how this could be fun. They wonder how we can derive pleasure from "just sitting around and stitching for that many days". One of the other campers summed it up best when she said that you would only understand if you were a stitcher.

I finally finished Leaping Cat and started Little Ballerinas by Country Cottage Needleworks while at Camp Iwannastitch. It was a good feeling finishing something because I haven't been stitching all that much lately. I think I got a stitching jump-start! Now I'm excited to keep going with my current project.

None of us left until we absolutely had to on Sunday. We finished up our shopping and said goodbye to Scooter, Terrie's newest kitten. We said our sad goodbyes to Terrie and our fellow campers, who we all consider to be new friends. There was also an agreement made to attend camp together next year! It will look a little different next time because Terrie is moving her store to Buford, GA. It's new name will be The Stitch Store. I will definitely be back!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

So They Loaded Up The Truck And They Moved To Berk-e-ley

I had never received so many astonished looks than when I told people that yes, we were going to drive to Berkeley, CA to move Matt to grad school. Then after we got back, people were more inclined to tell us that we were nuts when we told them that we had done the drive in 3 days. From Atlanta to Berkeley. And, no, we didn't break any land speed records in the process.

What we found was that driving on I-40 is not an interesting trip, even though I had never visited most of the states we drove through. I'm sure that all of these states have their lovely views, exciting cities and interesting attractions. We just didn't get to see them.

We saw some weird stuff though. Near Conway, AR is Toad Suck Park. We saw the sign for this sometime late in the afternoon during the first day, just when we were starting to get punchy. My traveling companions laughed in merriment, while I wondered why they would give what was probably a perfectly nice park such a revolting name. Later in the day, we met a very nice Starbucks lady in Little Rock who told us that she used to live in the city we just moved to. Small world!

Amarillo, TX boasts The Big Texan, which describes itself as a steak ranch. The big draw here is that they'll give you your meal free if you order the 72 oz. (that's four and a half pounds, for all of the mathematically challenged) steak and eat all of it. And all of the sides that come with it. Oh yeah, one more thing, you have to finish it in ONE HOUR! Neither Mark nor Matt was up to the challenge, so we travelled on.

One place along our route that I would have liked to visit is The Freshwater Pearl Museum. It sounds wonderful -- a guided tour, lunch and a jewelry showroom! I was driving at the time and was soooo tempted to pull off the highway, but I decided to save it for another time. It's not too far away from home.

By day three we were in the desert and it got seriously hot. Yes, our car thermometer said 105 degrees. We were somewhere in California when this picture was taken. The desert is pretty fascinating at first (Look! A cactus!), but after about 10 hours you find yourself wishing for the cool, green mountains of North Georgia.

And another bit of interesting info? When you enter California, you have to go through California Customs! Ha Ha! They actually stop your car and ask if you have any fresh fruits, vegetables or plants. We had none of the above, so we didn't get to find out what would happen if you did. Would they confiscate your apple?

You can only imagine how happy we were to arrive in Berkeley on Sunday night. It truly looks like Matt's kind of place to live. I predict that he'll be happy and successful there. Even though we'll miss him, both Mark and I are glad that he found a good place to live and learn for the next 5 (?) years.

We'll be visiting the beautiful San Francisco Bay area again for sure, but next time we'll be flying the friendly skies.