Monday, June 15, 2015

Hogan Farewell Tour: Part Two

If you would like to subscribe to this blog via email, please enter your email address in the box to the left of the blog post.  This will ensure that you never miss a post! (Shoutout to everyone who has already done that, especially my dad and Karen, who anxiously await every blogpost!).

Well the Hogan Farewell Tour has basically come to a close.  One Hogan is in Virginia and one is in Turkey (more on that later), but the farewell tour has definitely slowed down if not ended. It has been a blast travelling around seeing our friends and family the past six weeks and I am so glad we got the opportunity to do so before leaving for two years (eeeekkk!!!).  That being said, I think we'll both be glad to have our own house and a place to put our clothes that isn't a suitcase when we get to Izmir.

Anyways, here is how the rest of the Hogan Farewell Tour as gone.    It's been relaxing, exciting, and a great last few weeks.

Sunday May 23rd: We spent the day getting ready for the Hogan Farewell Cookout.  It was nice to just have a day to kind of hang out at home and just relax with everyone.  That night, we had cousins, aunts, uncles, and Grandfather come over for hot dogs and hamburgers.  Can't get more American than that!   Plus, it was a great way to say goodbye.

Monday May 24th:  Mike, Mom, Dad, me, Ben and Aunt Mary spent the day at the beach.  It was therapeutic, to say the least.  The sun beating down on my body, the waves crashing in the background and being surrounded by my family was just what I wanted.  I could have stayed there all week.  Although, we were sitting next to a group of high schoolers who were obnoxiously loud and were drinking/smoking.  I could have done without, but whatever. That night, we met up with Mike's friend Nick for drinks after dinner.  Nick was Mike's room mate in Hawaii and is a great friend.  We're lucky that we've been able to meet up with him in Virginia Beach when we've come to visit.

Tuesday May 25th: We went down to the ocean front again to try out some of the breweries down there.  Back Bay Brewing is pretty good and there was another brewery that Mike liked, but I can't remember the name, unfortunately. That night, we went to Aunt Mary's for dinner of the famous Uncle Morgan ribs.  Mike was in heaven and we both left feeling full to the brim.

Wednesday May 26th: We knew that we would be going to the San Diego zoo the next week, but I wanted to check out the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk, so we headed down to Norfolk to check out the zoo.  It. Was. Awesome. We saw so many animals out and about and Mike got to see his Red Pandas. My favorite was the elephant who was probably 10 ft away and was drinking water and eating. So funny and cute!

We had dinner at 80/20 with Mike's friends Jen and Scotlin.  We again are so lucky to have another set of good friends stationed here because it means we can see them when we come to Virginia Beach.  Our dinner turned into drinks afterwards and didn't end until almost 11:00. If you're in Norfolk, 80/20 is a must!

Thursday May 27th: Mike left for New Orleans for a boys weekend.  I don't know much about what happened in New Orleans except that Mike broke even at the casinos and then went to a jazz bar...I think.

Friday May 28th: During the day, I went to watch Mom ride.  Even though I haven't ridden in a while, it's still fun to go out and watch Mom.  

Then, that night, I headed down to the oceanfront for the Patriotic Festival with Rachel.  Every year, the Patriotic Festival puts on two concerts (one Friday and one Saturday).  Usually they're great bands and if you don't mind sitting far back on the beach, you can go for free.  Anyways, Rachel and I headed down to the beach and parked.  Before the concert, we went to Planet Pizza for dinner.  We both got fruity, girly drinks that were actually pretty strong and a split a delicious pizza.  Little did we know, this would be the highlight of the night. We got to the beach around 7:00 and met Rachel's friends.  The opener was playing and was mediocre, so we settled in on the beach and did some people watching. Lee Brice came on at 9:00 and, y'all, let me tell you, he was NOT good.  We were shocked.  I mean, jaw hanging on the ground, staring at the stage shocked.  He didn't remember half the words, was way off pitch and was really struggling.  I'm pretty sure that they just started playing his CD after a few songs.  Needless to say, we left around 10:00.

Saturday May 29th: I got a much needed haircut, hung out at Rachel's, and had a brother/sister date with Benj. :)

Sunday May 30th:  When I was in middle and high school, my dad coached my softball team with "Coach Mike." Somehow, Coach Mike has convinced my dad to coach with him again, except this time it's 7-9 year olds.  God bless them! I went and watched their game and it was one of the cutest things I've seen in a while.  The girls got stickers for swinging when they were at bat.  Although, it was probably a better strategy because if you stood up there long enough and didn't swing, you'd probably get walked.  They tried so hard, but it was ultimately a loss.   Still, it was a ton of fun for both me and the team!

May 31st:  Such a proud day!! Ben had his Eagle Scout ceremony that night and you better believe the Russos were there! The ceremony was really nice and Ben did a great job with his speech. I am so proud of Benj for sticking with this and completing it.  Only 2% of people who start Boy Scouts make it to Eagle Scout, so this is a huge accomplishment.  He's worked so hard to get this done and I couldn't be prouder of him! Go Ben!!

Tuesday June 1st:  I went to lunch with Mom and Dad before heading off to San Diego. Originally, this was supposed to be my final farewell with my family, but luckily it wasn't. I need another week at home and that's what I got! This travel day was less than ideal.  Thunderstorms in Norfolk caused my flight to be super delayed, which meant that I missed my connection in Dallas.  When I realized this was going to happen, I tried to get a new flight as soon as I got to Dallasbut they told me that this was the last flight to SD from Dallas and that I would have to spend the night in Dallas and fly out in the morning. I was not happy about that and went to check the departing flights list myself.  Thank goodness I did because there was a departing flight in two hours and when I went to the counter, they got me a seat.  I'm still not sure why the first people I talked to couldn't let me on, but whatever. I got on the flight and arrived in San Diego shortly before midnight to a very sleepy Mike.

Wednesday June 2nd: Our first day in San Diego!!  We met up with the bride and groom-to-be and walked around La Jolla.  We saw seals, ate breakfast at a delicious restaurant, and enjoyed the West Coast.

That night, we met up with Mike's friend Joe who was also here for the wedding, and went to a Padres game.  Padres games are awesome because the tickets are so cheap! We were able to sit basically right behind third base for the price of the ticket of way up on the Green Monster in Boston.   We even made it on the big screen with our selfie that I tweeted!  The game was super fun and the Padres won big!  Go Pads!
Not our best selfie, but it made it on the big screen!

It's kind of hard to see, but our selfie is on the right in the middle!

Thursday June 3rd:  Joe's girlfriend Michelle (who met Joe at our wedding!) arrived late on Wednesday night.  Thursday, Joe, Michelle, Matt (the groom of the wedding), Mike and I got up early and went to the zoo. We heard that the animals were the most active in the morning and that was true.  We saw all sorts of animals moving around.  There were monkeys climbing all around, elephants eating, pandas sleeping. You name it, we saw it.  It would be unfair to compare the Norfolk Zoo to the San Diego Zoo. That would be like comparing a high school sports team to the major leagues.  We had a great time at 

Pretty sure this was in the kids section of the zoo, but Matt and Mike couldn't resist.

After the zoo, we went to a late lunch with Joe and Michelle at El Indio's which was a Mexican restaurant recommended to us by multiple people.  It was delicious!! I refused to go to San Diego without having Mexican food.  Little did I know that we would be having Mexican for dinner that night as well. After Mexican and a quick nap, we met Mike's friends Heather and Mike (Mike was on the Jacksonville with Mike Hogan) for dinner at Cafe Coyote, which was another Mexican restaurant.  It is always fun to travel to places where there is a military base because we can almost always find someone to hang out with. 

Friday June 5th: We started the day late, which was fine with me.  We went for sushi with Joe and Michelle (again, I refused to go to the west coast without having sushi) and it didn't disappoint.  I could eat sushi everyday if it were possible.   After sushi, we decided to go to the beach.  We didn't have a ton of time, so we didn't bring bathing suits or anything, but it was worth it just to be on the beach for a couple of hours. We walked on the board walk, laid in the sun and people watched.  Maybe the most exciting part of this excursion to Coronado was the discovery of the ice cream sandwich shop.  This place was incredible! you can choose which fresh baked cookie you want on the top and the bottom of your sandwich (they don't have to be the same!) and what ice cream you want in the middle.  They have about 10-15 different kinds of cookies and probably 10 different types of ice cream.  If you were really ambitious, you could get a topping to go on your sandwich, but we didn't go that far. 

Red velvet cookie on the bottom, cookies and cream ice cream, and a sugar cookie on top for yours truly.

After ice cream and a couple hours of salt air, we had to head back to the hotel and get ready for the rehearsal dinner.  Katy's sister lives outside of San Diego and hosted all of the out of town guests for dinner.  Despite a little hiccup in the dinner plans and some last minute calls for pizza, we had a blast at the rehearsal dinner.  The weather was gorgeous, the house was incredible and the food was delicious!

look at this little one! The snaggle tooth gets me every time!!

The night ended downtown at an Irish Pub with an awesome cover band that sang everything from your traditional Irish songs to Hootie and the Blowfish! 

Saturday June 6th: Matt and Katy's wedding day!!  We spent the day kind of running around getting things ready and running some random errands.  We were dressed and ready for the wedding around 4:30, took and Uber with Joe and Michelle and were at the base around 4:30.  Mike and Joe were in the sword arch, so they practiced with the other guys before the ceremony while Michelle and I scoped out the BEAUTIFUL landscape and took pictures. We even convinced the boys to take some with us.

Congratulations Matt and Katy!!

The winner of the best date night ideas go to Matt and Katy's nephews (all under the age of ten).  Pretty sure their #1 idea was to do nothing. :)


We had SO much fun dancing the night away at Matt and Katy's wedding.  Katy made a playlist that had everyone dancing.  Her 3-year-old nephew Carson stole the crowd with his nonstop dancing and cool moves.  The toasts were wonderful and the people at our table were a ton of fun. 

June 7th:  The next day, we spent the morning packing and sleeping late (we are on vacation!) and recovering from the late night.  We met the bride and groom for a late lunch and then just went and watched baseball at a bar.   That night, we met another one of Mike's friends from the academy and his wife and daughter for dinner before we headed to the airport for our red eye flight back to Dulles.  We had a ton of fun in San Diego and I think we both want to make sure we go back sometime soon!

June 8th:  I slept on and off on the red eye flight to Boston, unlike Mike who did not.  We caught our connection in Boston and were back in DC by mid morning.  I took a LONG nap that morning, as did Mike.  Mike ran a few errands, but for the most part, that day was pretty laid back.  That night, we went with Mike's mom and her boyfriend to Mike's great aunts' house.  They made us a DELICIOUS Turkish dinner and told us all about Turkey and Turkish culture.  It was really interesting and we all left so full and content.

June 9th: We had one last round of shots that we needed to get, so we headed to Bethesda.  Our total trip took less than 2 hours back and fourth, which is actually amazing! We went to Big Bowl for lunch where I had delicious stir fry.  That afternoon, Mike and his dad played golf while I relaxed at home with the dogs. It was a relaxing day.

June 10th:  Unfortunately, the way things worked out, Mike was going to be leaving that day for Turkey and I was going to be heading back to Virginia Beach.  We really tried to make this not happen because I didn't want to fly by myself after leaving my whole life behind, but that's how it's going to happen.  Anyways, Mike was leaving for Ankara that day, so I took the train back to Virginia Beach.  It was a very tearful goodbye , but it was the only option at that point. 

June 11th:  The next day, I went with my mom over to my grandfather's house to help him get ready to move.  We decluttered some of the bedrooms, which was actually kind of fun.  We found all sorts of stuff from when my mom and uncles were little.  I guess that's one perk of NEVER. THROWING. AWAY. ANYTHING.  

June 12th: After sleeping until 11:30 (WHAT?!?!?!! Who does that????), I woke up and headed out to the barn with my mom.  It was super hot and  I was impressed that they could even ride.  Going to the barn is a lot of fun, even I don't ride because there is always something going on.  This time, there was a very pregnant horse and another who had just had a baby. Babies are cute, but baby horses are something special.   The little hooves, the legs that are too big for their little bodies....
It was hot, so my mom sprayed him off after riding. He got some water in his ear and he was not happy about it. Hence the bent ear. 

Pretty sure my caption on Instagram was "Guys, I can't..."

Just because he's the cutest!
June 13th: That morning, Mom and  I headed back to Grandfather's for a morning of cleaning.  Once all of the bedrooms were done, the house looked really nice! Hopefully someone will think the same and buy it! That night, we went down to Pungo for the Flying Proms.  There are pilots who fly WWII planes while the Virginia Beach Symphony plays.  It wasn't really my thing, but there were a ton of people there and most people seemed to be enjoying it.

June 14th: Sunday was a day of rest. Hahaha.  But really. After a day of lots of Orange is the New Black, I went with Aunt Mary for a pedicure and then everyone came over for dinner at Aunt Mary's.  It was really sad to say goodbye to the Rileys.  I'm a crier naturally, but I'm a mess in these situations. 

June 15th: Today. Wow.  I can't believe that I am leaving on Thursday! I spent today wandering around Target one last time and watching more of Orange is the New Black.  Can't get more American than that!

I guess that my next post will be from Izmir, so say a little prayer for safe travels and start looking up flights to come visit!