Saturday, May 27, 2017

Camp Idontwannagrowup

The last weekend of April was spent at Whiskeytown Lake, celebrating James' 30th birthday at "Camp Idontwannagrowup" which was a figment of James' imagination-turned adult summer camp.

There were more than 30 of us, including friends from childhood to adulthood, as well as family, including his parents, aunt and uncle, brother and sister-in-law, and ten-week-old nephew, Lachlan.  Can you imagine camping with an infant?  It wasn't even baby's first camping trip!

Me, James, Gio, and Brittany

 We can thank these two for giving us James!


UCSD pals

Throughout the weekend, activities vacillated between relaxed moments appreciating nature and each other's company to manic highs of frenzied competition and adventure.  Let's start with the (relatively) calm moments.

Brittany, Gio, and me
We legitimately almost capsized.

Grub time in 'Murica

Over the span of the weekend (or perhaps just Saturday), there were 29 scheduled activities.  This included three rounds of three activities each that were led by individual campers.  Our camp split into groups of ten based on which activity they wanted to do, including hide and seek, a scavenger hunt, improv, and various other games and crafts.

One of my favorite activities was acroyoga.  It was bizarrely intimate, crawling on top of or flying on the feet of someone you'd just met that weekend, but we had a fantastic time.

Look, ma, I can fly!

Brittany spreading her wings

Another activity I did that morning was finger painting a portrait of James.  There were some wildly different interpretations! 

 The love of her life as a green monster

One of the gimmicks of the weekend was that whenever Martino started shouting, "Whatta we wanna do?" everyone had to run to him and chant, "Never grow up!"  The last two to the huddle were forced to dance off, James choosing the winner.

On one such occasion, James' parents had to face off, and it was probably the best set of the weekend (spoiler alert: his dad won the competition!).

After lunch on Saturday, in a small window in our activities schedule, a few crazy peeps decided to jump in the frigid water (it's literally snow recently melted off of Mt. Shasta).

Saturday afternoon was the real meat of the weekend.  Martino and Caroline had planned a variety of teamed activities, including creating a miniature golf course, a water balloon toss, tug-o-war, sack races, dizzy bat, and capture the flag.  I'd never played capture the flag before and absolutely loved it!  My most satisfying moment was catching James by surprise and him wiping out as I tagged him.

It's a miracle Brittany didn't face plant

James claimed that out of the whole weekend, he was most excited to make a watermelon explode due to the slow pressure applied by hundreds of rubber bands.  We each had to stretch at least five around the juicy beast upon arrival at camp, and tired of waiting, a few guys sat down around the melon, determined to see some action.  Check out the look of sheer joy on James' face in the below photo, which manages to capture the exact moment of explosion:

Want to see this process in action?  Check out these Russian guys on YouTube do it (I promise it won't disappoint-I can't stop watching on repeat).

That night, as the final shebang, we had a classic camping talent show, where people got up at will and presented some kind of entertainment or talent.  A few highlights were James' magic tricks, his parents' string riddle, and a choreographed group dance that one third of the group had put together that morning, to the Ghostbusters theme.

At a certain point in the show, I dragged my chair in front of the crowd and told a ghost story about Whiskeytown and how it had gotten its name from a man who drank too much whiskey in the mines and died on his thirtieth birthday, only to return on every man's thirtieth birthday to judge whether he had the valor to live or die.  I really milked the story, talking about how the spirit could take many forms, from the tiniest drop of rain to a monstrous grizzly bear to a quiet deer walking through the forest.  Right at that moment, and as if on cue, one of the girls jumped up and yelled, "Oh my God!  A deer!" which legitimately scared the crap out of me because I wasn't aware I could conjure deer our of thin air.  Later on, Brittany and I agreed the deer kind of undermined the real punchline of the story, when Brittany came out in a gorilla costume as the spirit, surveyed James, and ultimately decided he deserved to live! 

The spirit of Whiskeytown

(By the way, Brittany and I completely made up the story.  No need to fear Whiskeytown, it's lovely).

What an incredible weekend of unadulterated (as in no real adulting allowed) joy and freedom, and I couldn't imagine a more James-appropriate celebration.  Thanks for reminding us how overrated growing up is, my friend, and for letting us celebrate you in such a fun, beautiful setting.  Really can't wait to see what you come up with for the big 4-0.  <3 br="">

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Brittany Loves Baby Goats

For Brittany's 30th birthday, she planned an incredible weekend getaway for 18 of us up at a ranch in Ukiah.  Yokayo Ranch was gorgeous, with a pool and tons of bedrooms, perfect for small weddings, retreats, and large group gatherings like ours.  It also had lots of fun details, like an old-fashioned giant fridge, floor to ceiling windows looking out over the valley, and a tiny peep hole between the kitchen and the bar that brought us infinite amusement. 


Plus Brittany had thought up a ton of lovely details, like menus and daily schedules she had written in calligraphy, stunning fresh flower arrangements everywhere, colorful ribbons hanging, and potted herbs matching people to their rooms.


Brittany's mom, Faith, was executive chef of the weekend, and we ate like kings.  The first night this crew was on taco duty, and we all had a great time welcoming new arrivals to the ranch, munching on tacos, and playing games like mafia and psychiatrist. 

Andrew looks like he was born for swanky ranch life

 James, patient as a saint,
narrating us through Mafia

The next morning, everyone lounged around the ranch enjoying each other's company while puzzling, hot tubbing, and playing lawn games like Kubb and Spikeball.

In the afternoon, we played what would be the highlight of the weekend, a thirtieth birthday and Brittany-themed scavenger hunt.  We were randomly broken into three groups and given two hours to complete 30 challenges.  The challenges were so fun and so Brittany, like creating a Pinterest board on a topic she would enjoy, making her a flower crown, or finding the exact page of an embarrassing photo of her in our senior class yearbook.  Plus, there were fun rules like your team could never split up.

I'm not going to lie, it got a bit competitive.  People were held down while car keys were stolen.  Rubber bands were plucked from atop people's heads.   James considered drinking all the wine so no one else could taste it and guess correctly (always willing to sacrifice for the team, that one).    Some other fun tasks:

Kissing an animal

Recreating a photo from Brittany's childhood

Wine tasting + magic tricks

Team Brittany Love Baby Goats, 
with everyone's hair in a pony

We just had so much fun gallivanting around the ranch, being ridiculous.  And Brittany was beaming watching us all do it.

One of the most fun parts was seeing the dances each team had prepared for Britt.  One team made up a birthday song for her, one sang the French version of "Happy Birthday", and our group made a dance to "Hit Me Baby One More Time", which Kasey suggested and was just perfect because Brittany and I were all about Britney Spears in 6th grade.  The guys in our group were 100% on board with any choreography we threw at them in the 8 minutes we had to prepare.  Check it:

In the end my team prevailed, although Brittany gave even me a run for my money with some of her tricks! 

That night we ate out on the patio, on the beautiful long wooden tables.  Brittany had prepared a speech in which she talked about how each and every person there that weekend had entered her life, and the profound impact they'd had on her.  There wasn't a dry eye in the house.

Glen Park HQ Roomies

Reppin' Suite 108
(We missed you so much Kristen & Amanda!)

Faith & Cante
Maryana & me

Gio made a delicious birthday cake!

That night turned into a big dance party.  The best part was when we each took turns going into the middle of the circle, with someone randomly calling out a dance move.  Sometimes you'd get something tangible, but more often than not it would be something like "hot pocket" or "grave digger".  It was absolutely gut-splitting to see what people came up with!

 We got a lot of use out of the Instax!

Britt & Mama Faith

The next morning was Brittany's official birthday as well as Easter, and we started with an egg hunt followed by a spectacular brunch.

The whole gang!
Zoom in on my face at your own risk.

The most highly awaited moment of the weekend:
the final puzzle piece!

If I had to split the group that weekend into two factions, it would be puzzlers and non-puzzlers.  This final piece was a big moment, and the most hard-core puzzlers along with Brittany placed it altogether. 

After that, people casually started packing up and heading out two by two.  Those of us left tried to milk a few moments of relaxation out of the weekend, enjoying the hot tub, leftovers, and one final game: Do You Wanna Buy a Duck.  But generally speaking, we were wiped!

The weekend was so fantastic, with an incredible group of friends, old and new, all together in one gorgeous, calming place to celebrate Brittany (and friendship, nature, wine...we did a lot of celebrating)!  Big thanks to Brittany and Faith who planned the weekend, and Cante and Uri who did a lot of heavy lifting to make it all come together!