Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Partying With the Animals at the Monterey County Fair

We not only made it to the Monterey County Fair this year for the second year in a row, but we also remembered to take plenty of pictures. I'm even in a few of the shots for a change like this one I absolutely love of Seth and me. It was taken in the bleachers on our first night there waiting for Queen Revisited to take the Garden Stage right before the sun started going down. (We saw War and Journey Revisited on each of the other two nights we were there as well. Wonderful shows, all of them.)

Like most women, I'm hard on myself when it comes to my looks, so I'm not crazy about pictures of myself. I'm plenty comfortable in my own skin and I realize that I'm attractive, so it's nothing like that, but I never really see what other people claim to when they look at me. I feel like my dieting and focused efforts to take better care of my skin and hair are starting to show though and that's found me feeling more interested in my appearance than I normally do these days. I was especially surprised by how clear and smooth my skin looks in this year's fair photos. I also like that I look happy, healthy, and in love. As well I should! I am happy, healthy, and in love... and becoming more so all the time.

We're both doing great on our little weight loss journey still, but there's no way you can go to the fair and not enjoy plenty of fried food and guilty pleasure-type treats. I am not sure I've ever actually had real, deep-fried midway corn dogs before, but we shared several this year. We tried alligator for the first time -- wonderful, juicy, spicy fried alligator on a stick served over deliciously savory New Orleans dirty rice. We even had pizza, and nachos, and fried fish with garlic fries -- all the things we normally wouldn't eat these days now that we're paying more attention to calories -- and plenty of delicious craft beer to wash it all down. 

Walking to and from the fair, as well as all over the place while we were there actually meant we burned off everything we ate. I wasn't sure I was totally enthusiastic about the walking part of the equation before we actually went, but really, walking is like a lot of things tend to be for me. It never sounds like something that's going to be fun, but once I've got some music on and get out there in the fresh air, I actually enjoy it. I'd even go so far as to say it's a mood booster, especially since it gets me out of the house and away from my various screens for a while, which I probably need to do more often.

We actually went on rides this time as well, which we've never really done together before. Sort of, anyway. By "actually went on rides", I actually mean we went on the Ferris wheel twice, but it was still a blast. Beautiful views of the fairgrounds and the city from up high. It was an especially nice place from which to take some pictures, chat, and finish our contraband booze. You're up there by yourself in your little bucket, but you're still part of things. I usually just sit on the sidelines and watch other people ride the rides, so it was nice to participate myself a little bit for a change.

Visiting the animals has always been among my favorite things to do at the fair. Something about the way the hay and the barn areas smell always reminds me of being a little girl in Germany. Especially if said smells happen to be combined with the smell of burning wood or coals. It doesn't really seem to matter what your childhood was actually like. There's a real sense of security and "OKness" with the world that instantly sweeps over you when something reminds you of the days when you really were a kid. Barnyard smells and sounds provide that OKness for me and most likely always will. I like that Seth gets it and enjoys it, too. My ex-husband only saw an opportunity to try to hit me over the head with more vegetarian propaganda.

The produce building brought back all sorts of memories of the summer Seth and I had our veggie garden in Montana. Since we've been focused on losing weight and getting into better shape, we've been really loving our veggies. Everything at the fair just looked so good and smelled so fresh -- lettuces, squash, artichokes, various greens. As much as I loved the experience of letting myself off the leash long enough to enjoy a huge slice of pepperoni pizza and a few corn dogs, there's something I really love about eating fresh, healthy, wholesome foods from the earth as well. That makes it easy to stay on track the rest of the time for sure.

The fair came at a great time for me this year. I don't know how appreciated I've felt by my clients lately or how enthused I've been able to get about writing in general. That's usually a sure sign that I need to take a bit of a vacation and there's no time like Labor Day weekend for a vacation. Turns out I was right. I really, really needed a break, but I also needed to get out of the house, enjoy some fresh air, and have some fun. Spending a few days at the fair with Seth listening to amazing music and treating myself to some of my favorite foods in the world was just what the doctor ordered. 

I wouldn't say that I feel excited to be back at work starting tomorrow, but... I feel rejuvenated. Something rare and wonderful for me that I wouldn't mind feeling more often. Plus, autumn is coming along with a whole new set of possibilities and adventures to be had. I can't wait.