The last time I was on a plane, I was curled up in a ball with tears spewing out of my eyes, drenching my cheeks. I was leaving Australia and coming back from my alternate universe, which I have now come to call it.
I’ll admit I was not too excited to be on a plane again; maybe because it was not leading me to Australia. However, as soon as I got to the airport, I felt that little rush of exhilaration making its way through my body, cheering up my heart and bringing happy thoughts to my brain. After a very low key winter break and a cancelled trip to Virginia due to sickness, I am on my way to my annual family ski trip out West.
I am extra excited for this trip because my Pop Pop and uncle could join again, unlike last year. Even better, my uncle is bringing his wife and kids along to go skiing for two days. I have never skied or been on a trip with them, and for that I am stoked.
The scary part about this trip, though, is that it could very well be my last family ski trip and my last big ski getaway for a long time. I will be taking a course next winter for graduate school, so I have no idea what my availability will be. If this is it, next year will be the first time I do not go on a family ski trip in about ten years.
However, I will not dwell on that because endings mean new beginnings and new adventures (that’s what they say, at least). For now, I am going to enjoy this time with the best skiing partners and try to show the mountain what I’ve got!
Whitmanythought 1: I cannot wait to go skiing and write about it!
In the meantime, here is my ski video from last year I threw together.
The only thing that motivated me through the whirlwind of September was my weekend getaway to Lake George at the end of the month. It was an extra special trip because my mom and step-dad let me come along with them and helped me surprise my grandparents and aunt. The astonishment on their faces when I arrived was priceless and the consistent “I can’t believe you’re here,” statements made the four-and-a-half-hour drive to and from well worth it. While my only full day there was overcast and rainy, the weekend’s redeeming quality—besides being with my family on a trip for the first time—was the food.
Between its history and mouth-watering food, The Silo is aesthetically appealing by sight and taste. The original silo of the restaurant was used to house corn and then was repurposed alongside two local 19th century farms which were combined and made into The Silo Country store in 1982. At first, the breakfast and lunch area was small, but business began to boom and several changes were made to expand the eatery into what it is today. The Silo is bombarded every morning with hungry guests and long wait times can form. I suggest getting there by eight in the morning to avoid long lines.
The Silo offers everything from buttermilk biscuits and gravy and giant pancakes so large that they only serve two to cheese quesadillas and crab cakes. I can personally vouch for its stuffed French toast which is filled with cream cheese and berries and finished off with whipped cream. The warm, thick, cinnamon coated bread was complimented beautifully by the sweet cream cheese and berries. I barely used syrup, which is unusual for me, because it tasted so nice without it.
If there is a long wait and you are too hangry (hungry and angry) to wait for food any longer, try The Silo’s delicious cider doughnuts from the country store. They have a delicate taste that would be paired perfectly with some warm apple cider. The best part is they are only one dollar each, $5.50 for six or $8.50 for 12 donuts.
The Adirondack Pub and Brewery began as response to the high quality European beers John Carr experienced during a backpacking trip. He decided to brew his own after being unable to find something in America that competed with anything he tasted in his travels. People became interested in his brewing, which led him to start his own brewery in the center of Lake George Village in 1999. To this day, people can visit for quality ales and comfort food.
The pub’s selling point is its tasting option that comes with six beers that the staff chooses each day. If you find one you cannot live without, they sell huge jugs of their ales and lagers to take home. The Adirondack Pub and Brewery prides itself in using fresh, local ingredients to produce beer that can be comfortably drank any day of the year. This is an experience that beer fanatics do not want to miss. And if someone is not into beer, the pub’s food is exceptionally tasty as well.
Is the wait too long at The Silo? You can’t decide what you want to eat? Ambrosia is a classic American diner offering a range of foods from paninis, soups, steaks, and fish to eggs and pancakes. I enjoyed the Anastasia Pancakes which were slathered with Nutella and sprinkled with banana slices that sent my mouth into a sweet, chocolate-filled bonanza. The rest of my family was also satisfied with their delicious and large portions. The family who opened a diner in 1984 still owns and operates its now three locations, so I am confident the rest of the food at Ambrosia will taste like it was right out of their own kitchen.
I without a doubt just experienced the best weekend ever. Let me show you where it began.
Yes, right here, with these beautiful chocolate chip pancakes. I am absolutely obsessed with the pancakes the village make for us every Friday, and my chocolate-loving self can’t turn them down. I may have had too many…again…but life is too short to not have as many pancakes as I want.
Fast forward a few hours and it was time to go out. Embargo is a pop-up bar at Elizabeth Quay, and it was its last weekend until next summer, so all my friends decided to go out. The night can be summarized as this: I started the evening on a 40-foot sailboat, enjoyed some time with my friends at Embargo and then ended the night on a 44-foot boat on which I danced for hours with some really kind people followed by a cruise back to South Perth Yacht Club. I could not believe Friday night treated me so well, and I could not help feel anything but thankful for experiencing it.
The next morning, I embarked on a wine tour to the Swan Valley that was organized by the Murdoch University Village. The Swan Valley is Australia’s oldest growing region and is itsq first Humane Food Region, which means it is committed to animal welfare and producing quality foods. It boasts wineries, farms, cafes and restaurants that serve anything from specialty wines, oils and cheese to chocolate, nougat, nuts, preserves and beyond.
To start the day, we hopped in our rented bus, which we turned into a dance party with our pre-made playlist. We stopped at a wine and chocolate producing venues, where I enjoyed home-made ice cream, chocolate sauces and jams.
After this short taste of what our day would be like, we drove to our next destination: Sandalford Wines. Here we tasted an array of red and white wines, some sweet and some dry. I did not even bother to try the dry wines, because I know I prefer sweet. I actually quite liked Sandalford Founders Reserve Liqueur Tawny, which is an extremely sweet dessert wine. It recently underwent a name change so it would be within fortified wine regulations, but it is basically port, which is a strong, sweet wine originally from Portugal. I also enjoyed a few crackers with cheese before heading to the next stop.
After the enjoyable wine tasting, we were taken to Mondo Nougat for some nougat samples. I actually didn’t love the nougat, but I I did get to taste some great flavored nuts.
Following the nougat stop was Kimberley Rum Company for a taste of their Canefire concoctions. Canefire is brewed longer than any other spirit, as the company claims, and uses sugar cane right from the Kimberley region of Western Australia. I sipped on what is called the Boody Frog, which contains butterscotch and melon liqueurs and a few other ingredients. I also got a taste of Nicole’s booze-infused slushy, which I thought was fascinating. I also enjoyed watching people around me get happier as the day went on…
The fifth spot was a lunch break at Whiteman Park. I enjoyed a sandwich and laid out on a blanket with some people I met on the Northwest Trip. Unfortunately, we only had one more stop after this, and I was sad the day was ending.
The final venue to the tour was Elmar’s, a really small, but cute outside venue that had live music and an assortment of food, beer and cider. We got a ticket for a free beer or cider, and I picked the pear cider because that was supposed to be the sweetest. However, I only had a few sips before I let someone else actually enjoy it.
The venue had such a fantastic vibe. Some people were dancing, some people were sitting at picnic tables and some were lounging on the grass. I enjoyed laying on the grass, taking in the sun and enjoying the music before I got up and danced with a really fun person I met from our group and random people he found. It was the perfect place to end the day.
After such a fantastic day, I was feeling so happy and thankful that I am living this life (well, more than usual). I did not want my day to end. So, my roommate and I took a nap after the tour, rounded up some friends and headed out to the city. We actually ended up at Embargo again and then moved to The Aviary, which is a cute rooftop bar.
Needless to say, it was a wild 24 hours. I constantly say how thankful I am for everything I get to do, but I cannot say it enough. I felt nothing but pure happiness between Friday and Saturday. I met new people, created new memories that I will surely never forget and enjoyed time with my friends, and that is all I could possibly want.
Thursday was another empty day that was filled with last-minute plans. Even though I was dancing for about two hours straight the night prior, I still woke up early enough to get a quick exercise in and to make myself two eggs before the bus came at 8:40 a.m. Nicole, Brian and I, all being the early risers of our group, found a beach to check out that was only abut 40 minutes away.
Traveling this far to a beach is huge for me, because it is only a fifteen-minute car ride to the ocean at home. This beach was in North Fremantle, instead of being directly in Fremantle like the last one we visited on our own. We hopped on the bus at Murdoch, got off at Fremantle Station, and took the train one stop to Leighton Beach. It was really smart going to the beach so early, because like I have said before, the sun in Australia is intense.
After about two and a half hours of lounging and swimming, we headed back to Murdoch to eat and nap. Before dinner, Brian and I walked to the university center for a cultural presentation by the Nyungar (Noongar) people, an indigenous people who live in the southwest corner of the continent. They brought many items with them, which I have posted some of below.
Pictured above are various boomerangs. Some are used for ceremony and some are used for hunting.
Pictured on the left is a bowl that is traditionally used for gathering berries. Larger versions of these bowls are used to carry babies. The stick on the right can be used for various things, such s digging up roots.
Above are shields used for protection and dance.
To finish the presentation, the performers showed us how the Noongar people used to make paint, played a Didgeridoo, which is an instrument not original to the people, and performed some animal stories and a dance. As always, it was interesting learning about some of the history of the area’s original inhabitants.
Thursday night was highly anticipated, as it was the International Student Welcome Dinner. The coordinators split everyone up into teams, similar to orientation, so we were forced to talk to new people. The first game was a quiz about Australia. Each team was given a roll of tin foil for the second contest, and we had to make creations and then present them to the room. It was actually a really fun time, and the food was spectacular. Dinner was a buffest of pasta, rice, roasted vegetables, salad, bread, beef and chicken. Dessert consisted of apple crumble and bread pudding. I wish I could eat like this every night!