Ottowa or Bust

Yesterday morning we decided to venture to Ottawa, the capital of Canada. It is important to note that there is no federal district in Canada but Ottawa is part of the National Capital Region and is recognized by the world to be the “capital” of Canada. Our goal is to visit as many country capitals as we can in our lifetime (that is what you get when you cross a history/geography major with a political science/economics major) to get a taste different governments in action and experience the varying flavors of capital districts.

We love Canada and have nothing but great things to say about the friendly personalities, clean cities, rooted culture, and (of course) Tim Hortons. I (Karen) am also partial to the love of vinegar on fries…yum! So, with the help of, we set off for the Ottawa Marriott Hotel in the heart of downtown. An Irish Pub was our first stop where we rejuvenated our road trip selves with a pint of beer. We then explored the area and had a fantastic dinner at The Keg Steakhouse.

House of Commons
Canada is a constitutional monarchy (Queen Elizabeth II is head of state) and is a parliamentary democracy. Stephen Harper is the current Prime Minister of Canada and a member of the Conservative Party. Side note…we walked around the parliament park searching for a statue of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau so Clay could get a picture with the man whose wife Geraldo Rivera had ‘relations’ with…we were unsuccessful.

We stumbled into the Changing of the Guard on Parliament Hill…how cool!

Little did we know, Ribfest 2007 was taking place on Spark Street, 100 yards from our hotel. Of course we just had to sample the award winning food for lunch…look, white shirts!
All in all, we had a fabulous time in Ottawa…yet another Canadian city that we have fallen in love with. Maybe we will live there someday?


Saturday Morning

On this gorgeous Saturday morning Clay is sleeping while I am working on a paper in the guest room/office/library/linen closest/Army storage unit/room we don’t speak of. The coffee I am sipping is robust, soothing and alive while my headphones play a mix of Blink 182 and Vivaldi. He is home. I still can’t believe he is home…he is actually here, in our home, sleeping in the next room.

During the deployment I spent countless Saturday mornings writing, completing schoolwork, watching TV, driving to unnamed destinations, and cleaning already clean surfaces…just doing anything to keep my mind off the fact that my husband was gone and his life (my life) was out of my control. The fact I can sit here, working on a paper without have that worry struggling to consume my everyday life is absolutely wonderful.

However, the feeling of wonderfulness does not come without a price. Guilt. Every military family feels guilt at some point…how could we not? Here I am, shouting from rooftops how happy I am while thousands of families are walking through life with holes left unfilled…their husband/father/son/wife/mother/daughter did not make it home. I am not going to lie, it is hard, very hard. What do you say to the family left behind? Over the past year, I have followed two extraordinary woman who write about the aftermath surrounding the event of losing a husband in war…Learning to Live and Life After Iraq. Somehow, just by reading their stories I feel that I am helping to keep the memory of their husbands alive and letting them know that I care and not a day goes by that I don’t think about the members of The Gold Star Wives.

After giving my sleeping husband a kiss and telling him that I love him, I am going to get back to my schoolwork knowing that for this moment, everything is okay.

Alexandria Bay and Sunshine

Last night, when we arrived home from a nice steak dinner, foil laid scattered across the top of the stairs. You see, Clay’s mom makes this awesome goodness of a pastry that the family calls a cinnamon roll. Our little Lucy discovered the tasty treat and took it upon herself to eat the entire roll! The joy of living with a dog…right? We started today with a cinnamon roll (no, Lucy did not have any) and coffee while discussing the 2008 election (side note, I am super excited that my political discussion buddy is home). We decided to venture up to Alexandria Bay, New York and enjoy the gorgeous day.

Keewaydin State ParkAlexandria Bay is located on the south bank of the St. Lawrence river in the 1000 Islands Region. There are 1,865 islands total of various sizes. In order for a piece of land on the St. Lawrence River to be called an island it must be above water level for 365 days per year and support at least one tree or shrub. The St. Lawrence River flows west to northeast connecting the Atlantic Ocean with the Great Lakes.

Boldt CastleGeorge Boldt (of Waldorf-Astoria Hotel) began construction of Boldt Castle on Heart Island in 1900 with aspirations to build one of the largest private homes in America. Construction suddenly ended with the death of his wife in 1904 and remained untouched for many years. In 1977, The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority bought Heart Island for $1 under the agreement that all revenue generated would go towards restoration.

So, on an unrelated note, when Clay and I were walking to pick up the pizza we passed a couple of punk teenagers…one actually coughed “you suck” in our direction…what is up with that? They’re lucky we didn’t beat them up…we totally would have…yeah, not really.