Happy Friday, everyone! I’m off to Fort Worth again today for some freelance work and hoping that their forecasted storms don’t derail our plans too much. It’s a quick trip; I’ll be back at 1:00 AM on Sunday morning, and then it’s off to cheer on M in the Broad Street Run in Philadelphia. No rest for the weary, I suppose!
It’s been a busy week around here (is there any other kind?), but the weather finally turned and we have finally been able to toss our jackets back into the closet. On Wednesday, I took Riley to a nearby dog park so that we could spend some time in the sun and get our little only child some much-needed canine socialization. It was glorious to be outside after such a long, cold winter and gloomy spring, and I know Riley was happy to be out and about as well.
I hope you’ve had similarly great weather and a good week all around! Here’s what I’ve been loving lately:
Confession: I’m a sucker for a ruin. Most of the time, I would rather wander through the remains of an ancient city, fortification, or settlement than the streets of a bustling, modern metropolis. I have always been a history nerd and amateur anthropologist; when other kids were listing flight or invisibility as their superpower of choice, I was off in a corner wishing for the ability to time travel so that I could go back and witness ancient civilizations in all their glory and understand what life was really like for people living in them.
The places our ancestors left behind have always fascinated me. I love the faded grandeur of crumbling stones, I’m amazed by the ingenuity and craftsmanship of our ancestors, and I’m awed by the sheer brilliance and manpower that went into constructing these marvels without the assistance of modern technology.
During my exploration of Machu Picchu, I was continually conscious of the fact that I was walking in the unseen historical footprints of people whose names and faces I would never know but who lived and breathed and had thoughts and hopes and experiences as real as my own. I love that there are so many places in the world where ancient history can be so palpably experienced.
Perhaps that’s why this list from CNN Travel captured my imagination so immediately. I smiled in fond memory at the places I’ve seen and gave another wistful sigh for the ones that have been at the top of my travel list for a while (looking at you, Petra and Bagan). The twenty-three featured cities are by no means an exhaustive list; there are plenty of other lesser-known sites, such as the Caracol in Belize, where you can find impressive physical remnants of the past.
Still, this list is a good place to start! Which one will you visit next?
2.) Making Chinese Spinach Noodles
As I mentioned last week, I love learning about and watching how things are manufactured. This is especially true when it comes to food, and especially especially true when that food is a traditional part of a particular cuisine. This video clocks in at over thirteen minutes, so it’s a bit of a commitment, but if you’re at all intrigued by street food, culinary artistry, Chinese cuisine, or just watching a master at work it’s worth taking some time to check it out.
Beginning with a hunk of raw dough, our noodle artist spends the next quarter of an hour meticulously rolling it out into a thin, even circle before folding it just so and slicing it into ribbon-like noodles. His skill with a knife is masterful and a bit hypnotizing to watch. Had someone given me that knife and asked me to keep this guy’s pace, most of my fingertips would have been gone within seconds.
If you’re not feeling particularly patient, or you’ve gotten the gist of the rolling out process after a minute or two, you can skip to the eight minute mark to watch how he folds the dough and slices up the noodles. The last few minutes are the most intriguing part.
3.) M’s Flight Lesson!
M has always been fascinated by flight, particularly fighter jets and military aircraft. Both of his grandfathers flew in World War II, so perhaps it’s genetic. He’s also a bit of an adrenaline junkie and lives for all the things I don’t: roller coasters, skydiving, standing too close to the edges of cliffs, etc. It definitely keeps me on my toes, and I’ve noticed some additional gray hairs since we got married that I will conveniently blame on him.
A number of years ago, I had the idea to gift M a flight lesson, but it wasn’t until Christmas of 2016 that I was able to pull it off. I found a local flight school who offered reasonably-priced “discovery flights” for first timers, which included some instructional time as well as a 30-45 minute flight. The gentleman on the phone was so friendly and easygoing that I knew I’d found a winner. I bought a gift certificate and did a lot of internal patting myself on the back when M opened the card on Christmas morning and his jaw dropped.
Unfortunately, it took a while for our schedules and the weather to align so that we could take the flight, but finally we were blessed with a gorgeous, sunny, late April Saturday. The instructors invited me to come along, since there would be an extra seat, and I jumped at the chance.
Overall, it was a great experience, and M really enjoyed himself. After a bit of background information and preliminary instruction inside the flight school, our instructor, Matt, took us outside and walked M through the entire pre-flight safety checklist. They went over every detail of the plane, its controls, and goodness knows what else. (I stood well out of the way and allowed M to have his moment.)
Soon enough, we were climbing into the plane, buckling up, turning on our headsets, and making our way to the runway. Matt handled take-off (and landing, thank goodness), but once we were airborne he passed the controls over to M. It was a bit of a bumpy flight, as is normal in such a small aircraft and with a pilot who is just learning the ropes, but overall M did great!
We flew in a wide circle for about a half hour, admiring the view from about three thousand feet up. The day was clear and calm and we could even see the Philadelphia skyline off in the distance. It was fun to be able to spot places we know and to get a bird’s-eye view of our home and the surrounding area. Above all – no pun intended – it was so gratifying to watch M take on a fun new challenge and cross something off his bucket list.
If you’re at all interested in flying, I highly encourage you to check out your local flight schools and see if they offer any sort of introductory flight package. It was a great gift, and one that M won’t be likely to soon forget!
So there you have it – another round of things I’ve been loving! I wish you all a fantastic weekend and hope that next week treats you well!
What have you been loving lately?
What were the most impressive ruins or historical buildings you’ve ever visited? Which are on your bucket list?
Are you an adrenaline junkie? How do you satisfy your need for speed?