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Birthdays are kind of like family holiday gatherings: you either love it and look forward to baking your specially created pumpkin cheesecake, or you call in at the last minute (’cause Mom would never believe you otherwise) to cancel.  (That stomach flu thing’s going around, you know. . . . Ummm. . . Not that I’ve ever done anything like that, of course. . .. )

Me?  I love birthdays!  Cake and presents?  Oh, yeah.  I’m all for that.  But there was something about this year that was different.  Not that the usual cake and presents is a bad thing, but I had this urge to run away from home as well.  Seriously.  So I developed my own special recipe for a great birthday weekend:  IMAG0690

1.  Start with one fantastic dinner shared with a very special man.  🙂

2.  Pack a bag.

3.  Drive a couple of hours away from home.

4.  Meet friends to plot next book.  (Thanks Lily Santana and Linda Mercury!)

5.  Get back in car and drive further away from home.

6.  Meet littlest sister (who I haven’t seen in YEARS).

7.  Take photos at a local park.  DSC_1224

8.  Talk littlest sister into spending $8 on an “alligator on a stick” (Note: It doesn’t taste like chicken.  At.  All.)

9. Try to capture the breathtaking majesty of Mt. Rainier while blasting  photography skills – or lack of it, really. DSC_1283

10.  Laugh nervously at a mean-looking raccoon.  Might even be the same one seen chasing a grown man earlier.  Seriously.

11.  Spend the night at the Ritz Carlton.  (Hey, I’m a writer.  I can pretend, can’t I?)  Try desperately not to stay up all night ’cause sister’s got to go to work the next day.

10.  Drive home at 7:00 AM the following morning.  (Did you know the roads are basically empty at that time on a Sunday?)

11.  Arrive safely home to have another fabulous dinner with that special someone.  🙂DSC_1302

12.  Feel like the most blessed person on the face of the planet.

13.  While reflecting on the last year, look forward to the next one.  🙂

So.  How’d you spend your last birthday?  What plans do you have for your next one?  Please share!