Guys, hi! How are you! It’s been awhile, what’s new?
I’m sitting here eating pickles and drinking wine and trying to come up with my usual witty (“witty”) Friday recap of the past week but coming up blankety blank sooo I’m just going to ramble on for a while about my vacation. How about that? Could get long. Could turn into a stream-of-consciousness word vomit but hey, it’s the Friday before Labor Day, were you really going to do any work anyway? Didn’t think so. I figure, you could either read about Miley, Syria or whatever it is I’ve got going on so…your choice!
And letz begin.
So two weeks ago I took a most magical All American Vacation with my boo (haha gross! What if I really called him that?). We visited my family in Pennsylvania, and took a quick road trip to the Shenandoah National Forest in Virginia for a few days of hiking and sleeping in a tent. Here’s a few highlights from le trip:
1. In Lancaster County, even the pool clubs are barns:
(I don’t mean to sound snide, I only tease ya cuz I love ya, Lancaster. Photo snapped during a fab afternoon visiting my dad.)
2. Shenandoah National Forest is G to the Orge to the U to the S…that didn’t really work, did it?
Anyway, as I was saying:
G to the O to the…let it go, Liz. Let it go.
3. I’m not so great at taking self-timer photos:
That’s a framer.
4. But AM pretty great at hiking.
One of the best days of our trip was spent climbing Old Rag Mountain in Virginia, a rocky peak which sounds like it was named after a used feminine hygiene product (sorry, but true) and which Tina Fey once climbed to impress a boy, a story she recounts in Bossypants aka My Bible.
At any rate, Mount Tampon is known for its stony face over which hikers must “scramble” to get to the summit. When I read about this in guide books I craved fluffy eggs…and then pictured goats kind of running around a rocky field. It couldn’t be that hard, I thought. Tina Fey did it. At night! I was somewhat wrong. The trail started as a sloping, gentle forest climb but quickly turned difficult. Blue painted arrows marked which way we should go and often they had us scaling down into tiny crevasses between giant boulders…or heaving ourselves over slippery rocks with no place for a solid foothold.
We made it to the summit and y’all, It felt BAD ASS. I’m sure it’s not even a three on a 1 – 10 scale of difficult hikes but for me, it was a pretty big one. Despite being thin and in decent shape, I tend to suffer from some poor self-image issues (thanks, Hollywood!) and fixate on flaws instead of actually appreciating my bod for all that it can do, but climbing Old Raggedy Andy made me put some things into perspective. There were moments when ahead of me lay bare rock and I had to somehow find a way to get my body up and over with nowhere easy to put my feet. I had to use my arms, my back, my legs and my brain and make them all work at once and I did it. I did it! Often I lead the way in our twosome. I may not look like Giselle or Heidi Klum or Queen B but dang, I felt bold and I felt strong and it was really, really cool. I am hoping to maybe tackle a few even more difficult hikes in the future. Look out Everest!
5. I’m Sweaty.
So remember that terrible self image we were discussing? Let’s dig into that. I have always suffered from what shall henceforth be known as Sweaty Torso Syndrome or STS. When I am active, my stomach sweats. This is probably totally normal but because I am a crazy girl, I have always felt ashamed of this. My abs also tend to be my least flattering feature and I tend to fixate, to an unhealthy degree, on my tummular pooch (I was a vulnerable tween in the prime of the Britney years, how could I NOT be obsessed with flat bellies) and for that dumb reason I have always been extra insecure about sweating in my midsection. I have memories of summer soccer camps in high school in 100+ weather, and me slathering Secret Antiperspirant on my stomach because I’d rather smell like a rotten baby powder factory than be seen with a sweaty middle.
You guys, it is NOT GREAT being a teenage girl. Not great.
So flash forward 10 years older and zero wiser and here’s me and Brian, after a seriously strenuous hike and I should feel nothing but pride about this photo but I can’t stop fixating on my drenched tank.
I made this my profile pic on Facebook and had a cleverr poem written for the caption, read to the tune of On Top of Spaghetti:
On Top of Old Rag
All Covered in Sweat
Don’t Look at My Torso
It is Soaking Wet
But then I thought to myself: stop being self deprecating. You were hiking. You got sweaty. OWN IT. I deleted the caption and hit print.
Four minutes later my (well intentioned, I sincerely believe) cousin (hi Jamie!) (no hard feelings!) posted a comment asking if we were in a “mountain top wet t-shirt contest.”
No, dude, we just suffer from STS, big time and you know what? 16 year old Liz Ho would have probably hurled herself right OFF of Old Rag had anyone drawn such public attention to her sopping stomach but 28-for-two-more-weeks Liz Ho has decided to flaunt it.
On Top of Old Rag
My Torso is … Damp.
I Climbed a Fucking Mountain
Cuz I am a CHAMP!
6. Sleeping in the great outdoors? Over rated.
This was our homesite for a few nights. See that clothesline? Made it myself using nothing but rope and trees. Pretty proud, guys. Prettty pretty proud. Anyway, we camped in Shenandoah for two nights (Big Meadow Campground, highly recommended, despite what I’m about to say) and I’d say we slept a collective 6 hours of sleep during those two evenings.
The first night we enjoyed a delightful dinner of cheeseburgers and macaroni salad and retired to our humble canvas abode when no sooner than we had zipped the tent closed did it start raining, and hard. I was convinced the tent was going to collapse upon us and drown us both and Brian was just trying to figure out logistically if he could unzip the tent enough to pee out the front window without letting in rain water and we both just laid there, awake, willing sleep, morning or death to come.
Spoiler alert: we lived.
The second night we were strategic: we were getting CRUNK. A light buzz would lull us into a delightful slumber and we’d wake up the next morning refreshed and revived.
We polished off a bottle of wine and a plethora of PBR’s (you can take the girl out of Brooklyn…) and checked off the” fall into a delightful slumber” part which worked until I woke up at about 1 AM with WICKED dry mouth and spent the rest of the night laying awake itching my 400 + mosquito bites and taking every sound to be a murderer while Brian lay wide awake beside me, having been up all night on a vigilant patrol for bears.
Next time, we’re staying at the lodge.
Why was Brian scurred of bears?
7. They’re Everywhere!
That dark blob surrounded by professional graphic editing is a black bear, y’all. Live, up close and in the wild.
Pretty cool, huh?
Speaking of cool, did you know that
8. QUIZ on a triple letter score is a 66 point word.
Just FYI. Here’s a snap of Brian getting BURNT.
Annnd then I lost the next 2 games in our Best of 3 competish but still: Q-U-I-Z, dude. Never forget.
And then we went back to PA and ate..
9. CHICKEN WINGS
I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a thousand times. I love me some wings. So when my mom asked if we wanted to go catch a game of our local baseball team (obviously called the Barnstormers) on an all you can eat wings/ all you can drink Yuengling package, well, my chicken lovin’ Pennsylvania heart just about up and stopped. And then started again and then actually stopped because between my brother and I we polished off this graveyard of wing bones:
Disgusted? You should be!
We kept the All American Fat Kid trend going into the next day with a stop at
10. The Elizabethtown Fair
I know I seem supremely cosmopolitan but my heart, which is deep fried like an Oreo, belongs in a small town. Our town has a designated Fair Ground where every August the finest in agriculture and teen moms congregate together for an event known as the E-Town Fair. There are cows and goats and a talent show and rides and cotton candy and funnel cakes and alllllll the people watching your judgey heart could desire and tractors. Did I mention tractors?
And OHHH the milkshakes. About 100 years ago there was this agricultural collective known as The Grange Movement where some stuff involving farmers’ rights happened or something…I don’t know. We learned about it in history class but all I took away is this: the Grange Movement is still alive and well and making the BEST GODDAMN milkshakes you have ever tasted. Don’t try to contradict me, I don’t care if you come from Milkshake City, Capital of Milkshakeland on the planet Milkshake, you ain’t never had a shake til you’ve had a Grange shake, am I right, E-town readers, or am I right? (85% sure that none of my HS pals read this blergh so I’ll go ahead and answer for myself: I’M RIGHT!)
The fair happens every year on the last week of summer and when we were in middle and high school it was THE thing to do. This was pre cell phones and snap chat and One Direction and whatever the youths are up to these days, so every night we’d meet at a pre-ordained time in front of the tractor display. We’d all wear our new clothes that we bought for back to school because the REAL debut happened at the Fair, not in the hallways, and we’d spend the next several hours just circling the grounds in packs, again and again and again.
I hadn’t been in somewhere between six and 10 years but the second I stepped back on that midway I was rushed back to high school summers and we were so silly…but how fun was it?
I find I get especially nostalgic during summertime. Is it just me?
Brian was XXXXtra cute during the fair, his first, he was like a kid in a candy shop.
If by candy you mean gigantic stalks of corn.
Also cute, this prayer station, where we picked up a pamphlet with advice on how to love Jewish people.
Good old LanCo, getting more open minded by the century.
Whoa. I feel like it might be time to shut this down, I think I’ve done and gone wrote a novel! One thing I just realized din’t make the narrative somehow was a fantastic BBQ with my extended family, most of whom were meeting Brian for the first time. I have to give a shout out to all my Aunts, who I know read this (hi guys!!!) and are hilarious and wacky and who I thought might do something crazy with Brian just for fun, like sing or pretend to interrogate him or … who knows. But they were all totally cool and charming and normal and it went GREAT! Not like I would have blamed them if they had, you KNOW when my future nieces and nephews and children start bringing home dates I’ma embarrass the heck out of them and then probably write a blog about it, because I’m nice like that.
Don’t worry, Aunts, we can make him sing at Family Christmas!
Annnd that’s what’s been going on round these parts. What have YOU been up to? Loving the Jews? Twerking? Overcoming STS? As always you know I’d love to hear about it. PS I just accidentally deleted literally this entire post – when I typed that capital “A” at the start of “As always, instead of hitting shift-A I h it control A and then delete for some reason and hoooooooly shit I thought we were a goner here but I saved it. I saved it!
Let’s get this weekend started IMMEDIATELY. Hope yours is sweaty and delightful!
xoxo Liz Ho