17 July 2008

summer news part 2

People who know me have heard me talk about how wonderful my husband is...probably more than they want to. Tongue planted in cheek. But, even the die-hards can't help but admire this!

I got home from Lisa's just in time to be told to pack for a second trip. To my surprise, Rob told me to bring along my work. Not that I got a chance to touch it, but it was a good idea... Grinning.

You see, July 2nd was our 20th anniversary. On July 1st, my younger sister Maryann and her boyfriend George showed up. My husband had hired them to watch our three little hellions for four days. On the morning of the 2nd, Rob whisked me away to parts mostly unknown.

NOTE TO HUSBANDS OUT THERE- NEVER expect to be able to surprise your wife, if you have three kids to help ruin surprises. I did know Maryann and George were coming and one place he was taking me in advance of departure.

Packed in my luggage was a VERY special book (not that I had time to read more than 3 pages of that, either...but it was still a great present). Rob, with the help of my co-author and friend, Gregory Norris, found out who my favorite authors were. He got a mass market copy of Sherrilyn Kenyon's DARK SIDE OF THE MOON (which I already owned in hard cover), signed by Sherrilyn...and the prize winner...a copy of Angela Knight's WARRIOR: THE TIME HUNTERS, also signed and delivered a week before the official release date. Angela is SUCH a sweetie!

Back to the trip. Rob drove us up to North Conway, NH. If you've never been there, go. I mean that. There is a ton to do, shops galore (I could spend weeks in those shops), and the mountains are fabulous.

We got there three hours before our room would be ready, so he took me to lunch. After that, we went to Settler's Green Outlet Mall. Strangely enough, they were celebrating their 20th year, as well. Long story short, Rob took me clothes shopping...several hundred dollars worth of new clothes, in addition to what I'd brought with me. I even got a new signing/pitch outfit.

The first night in North Conway, we stayed at Adventure Suites. I could go back to this place, again and again. Rob and I had the Jungle Suite, complete with a full-size jacuzzi in the room. He'd pulled out all the stops: silk sheets, embroidered matching robes, chocolates, rose petals on the bed, a dozen red roses and a single red rose for me to carry around...just because he knows I like that sort of thing.
He also had Kahlua and milk waiting on ice in the room and brought along a six-pack of IBC Root Beer. Aside from dinner out at a restaurant, we didn't leave the room...literally.

NOTE FOR HUSBANDS OUT THERE- There is NOTHING that will make other women jealous like your woman carrying around a single red rose that you've given her. I'm not entirely certain many of the husbands in North Conway want us to come back, because Rob sets a higher standard.

Day two started with a shopping trip downtown and checking out of Adventure Suites. We didn't buy much, but we earmarked several gifts for the kids. North Conway is full of little shops that showcase local artists. You can have nearly anything you want special made. They also have a lot of rock shops and pagan shops, including the wonderful Luna Gallery.

Lunch was aboard the Dining Car Chocorua on the Conway Scenic Railway. It's a lovely trip, and the food is divine. Twice along the way, I had people ask me if I married at 12, when we said we'd been married 20 years.

In the afternoon, we checked into another hotel (across the street from Adventure Suites, actually). The Stonehurst Manor has been standing since the late 1800s and operating as an inn since the 1940s. The builder's daughter, Helen Bigelow Merriman, who remade the manor into what it is now, was herself an artist and writer.

If you want somewhere romantic to get away, this is the place. Stonehurst has only 25 rooms, only 15 of them in the manor house, where we stayed. We had room #25, one of the few Stonehurst rooms with both a fireplace and a jacuzzi tub in the room. Add to that the chocolate covered strawberries he ordered to be placed in the room and yet ANOTHER dozen roses, and Rob was off and running again.

In contrast to the pool and hot tub around back, there are signs everywhere that Stonehurst is a classic experience. The dinner and breakfast menus are stunning. You could stay a week and still say, "I have to choose?" The rooms are gorgeous, but the common areas are stunning. The club, for instance, is built into the library. The club menu is unbelievably complete, offering classic drinks, the standard fare, and a full page (Lisa take note) of single-malt varieties. Add to that little touches like the (no kidding) 'water closets' in public areas, and it's an experience you won't forget.

The front lawn has a large chess set that people were playing at all hours, and there are Adirondack chairs set up on the back lawn...as well as tables and chairs. The views are to die for, and the staff is not only courteous but also attentive.

To put it simply, if I ever found myself a rich woman on a deadline, I would check myself into Stonehurst for a few days. I'd emerge for breakfast and dinner...perhaps to the hot tub or the tables outside to work for a bit. Otherwise, I'd light a fire in the room and never emerge. I jokingly told my husband that he could stay across the street at the Adventure Suites with the kids and meet me for dinner at Stonehurst, if I ever had that kind of money. Of course, I was kidding.

The third day was a whirlwind. We ultimately decided not to attend the fireworks downtown, when we could barely drive up and down the main road at 1 pm. Seeking escape from that madhouse, we went to Cathedral Ledge and Echo Lake. Don't worry. I didn't try to climb the cliffside. Anyone who knows me knows I'm terrified of heights. In fact, you couldn't get me closer than 30 yards from the (I'm not kidding) 2 1/2-foot-tall fences that ride the edges of the more than 400 foot drop. Rob got a good laugh out of my complete unwillingness to approach the edge. Of course, he's the one who used to go bridge jumping in Pittsburgh for fun, so go figure.

As if I needed more added to this, there are two more things he did for me on that trip that rated really high on the 'I know my wife' scale.

When we checked into Adventure Suites, I fell in love with the leopard painting above the door in the bedroom of our suite. Rob literally bought the painting off the wall and hung it over my computer desk.

The second thing he did was take me to Tattoo America, on the main road (ironically directly between the two hotels). Scott, the tattoo artist, took only 15 or 20 minutes to recreate a printout of two of my Night Warriors glyphs: Zel Jee (Death and Justice) on my ankle.

Tune in tomorrow to find out what happened next!

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