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Entries in California (15)

Wednesday
Jan202010

An amazing end to the first leg of a very long trip

 


Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

 

If you thought I wasn’t lucky enough to get two bluebird days in one ski session, you were wrong – although the second evening of snow was merely a trace, it was still a gorgeous sunny day and I count it.

I took a day off between ski days to relax and allow myself to recover from the first full day back on the slopes since last season. Fortunately, I didn’t need the rest too much as I was surprisingly, not that sore. I slept in late while Dan worked and then he accompanied me on a quick drive into Invermere. The trip was originally intended to catch some photos of some gorgeous scenery I had passed on the way into town the night before, but after getting all the way down the mountain, I realized that I forgot the SD card for my camera… awesome.

So we decided to just chill out a bit. We walked out on Lake Lillian where they had a cute skating rink banked off with snow (although the rink was not skatable as it was mostly covered in snow). After that we drove down to the main lake in Invermere (Lake Windermere) and then drove ON the lake. I was quite a bit nervous at first but Dan coached me through it and we drove out as far as another small 2 wheel drive car. We walked around skated a bit farther out and then the novelty wore off and we drove right back off. What was really cool about this lake was that there is actually a legitimate road that drives right across the middle and where we were parked (on the water) there was an ice hockey rink, a fishing hole, a bonfire pit and an ice garden set up by the park association. There was also a cross country skiing track setup around the perimeter. Really cool.

After we left the lake, we picked up some items at the grocery store for our contribution to Alana’s going away pot luck later in the evening, picked up a hitchhiker (aka one of Dan’s friends) and drove back up to Pano.

Alana is one of Dan’s friends who actually stayed with my parent’s when they did the cross-country drive from Pano to North Carolina and I had heard wonderful things about her. She is moving back home and so some friends put together a little pot luck going away party. Dan and I decided that our contribution needed to be nothing other than… queso. I actually found Velveeta at the supermarket and ghetto rigged up some ro-tel. It was a huge hit and I thought, a very clever contribution to the evening :)

The night ended relatively early after a really nice house party and we all prepared ourselves for a long day of skiing ahead.

We woke up around 9:30 and got dressed quickly to be on the mountain at 10. Dan, Emma, another friend, Harper, and I all met up to ski down some runs before meeting up with Nick and Alister at the base at noon. It was a really fun crowd and we had a great time. The snow was still pretty great and we hiked a bit further down Taynton Bowl to the very end, a run called Whitetail, which was a bit steeper than B1st but immensely shorter. I got some excellent skiing advice from Nick, who coaches on the mountain, and I started to feel a lot more comfortable with the double blacks (just in time for another year long skiing hiatus). We skied all day but never really tired and were greeted at home with another amazing hot meal prepared by one of Dan’s roomie’s, Amy. Tonight, a chicken curry, which was warm and delicious and exactly what I needed.

We took a quick dip in the hot tub before heading to watch Alister play in a broomball game played up on the frozen over tennis courts. The game was hilarious; it’s basically a more formalized version of the street hockey we used to play with a soccer ball back home. Short broom sticks with a flat end and a soccer ball kicked and swatted back and forth between tipsy employees slipping all over the place on the fresh ice. So much fun.

From there we packed up my car and drove back up to the T Bar for “Jam Night” which was basically an open mic night with a full band setup. In theory, it would have been really cool, but apparently, the main guy who runs it was not there this night, so it was a bit disorganized. Dan brought his drum set, and we had some songs lined up to sing and play (Harper plays a bit of electric guitar, with Dan on drums and me singing) but the highlight of the evening ended up being when we plugged Dan’s iPod into the overhead speakers and he accompanied a little Soulja Boy and Lady Gaga with his drumming magnificence. Definitely a fun night.

I left the bar around 12:30 to begin my drive to Calgary. The drive was really pretty boring. The conditions were great, clear skies, not too much snow left on the roads. The only issue was really fog, which wasn’t terrible, but just patchy in parts. The only thing that really happened was at about 2:30 when I hit a patch of fog and then suddenly saw a VERY large silhouette inside it. I slammed on my brakes and came to a halt about 10 yards from a gigantic female moose. She looked at me and then took off up the mountain to my left, but needless to say, I was a bit more careful looking for wildlife for the rest of the drive.

I got to Calgary about 4:30 and parked outside a Comfort Inn to pick up wifi and check on the carry on allowances at the airport. Unfortunately, the websites for both Continental and the Calgary airport were not exactly accurate. I’m going to type up a separate post detailing exactly what went down, and will provide a link here when I finish that up. Summary story, I ended up having to throw away a bunch of stuff in my laptop bag because I couldn’t take it on to the plane with me. I almost missed my flight out of Calgary, as a result, but didn’t, thankfully. I flew from Calgary to Houston, had a quick layover and then flew to Orlando (yes… opposite of the direction I wanted to go) and then to Los Angeles, finally. The amazing Lauren Rudy picked me up from the airport and we headed straight to Sharkeez in Manhattan Beach for some dinner and a couple beers. I had originally planned on staying up all night tonight to get on Japan time a little early, but I think that since I didn’t sleep last night and only for about 5 hours today, that I’m probably already screwed up enough to avoid jet lag completely. So I am off to bed.
Tomorrow, I head to Okinawa. I am so excited I can hardly contain myself. This is going to be a big step for me in terms of culture shock. But I’m ready. Asia, here I come!

XOXO

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Now playing: The Young Dubliners - Rocky Road To Dublin
via FoxyTunes

 

Tuesday
Dec152009

I'm back in Okiehomie and ready for some R&R


Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

I am back in Oklahoma finally, after an amazing roadtrip and a great staff meeting in Los Angeles. Sam put me up in Long Beach and (even though she was deathly ill) was the best host I could have asked for. I got to meet the infamous Tiffanie and spent time with all the old regulars. Patrick, Mike, Jen, Anthony, Marissa, Liz, even Larry (*cough*) were super excited to hang out and we had a great time doing the usual (aka drinking beer, watching football and playing rockband - best life ever).

E2's staff meeting was in Seal Beach on Thursday and Friday and was relatively uneventful. We had a good (Long) meeting at the hotel and a gorgeous dinner and gift exchange at McKenna's on the Bay in Alamitos. For once, Jeff and I actually held it together and I made it up and chipper in time for the 8:00 EMIS meeting on Friday (miracle!).

Unfortunately, I started to feel sick about half way through the staff meeting. I've been fighting this one off for a couple weeks knowing that there was no way I could get sick in the car. So I decided to fly back to Tulsa early and let the mom take care of me. I hate to miss the LB Christmas Parade :( but I'll just have to go back again for it next year!

Tulsa is... well... Tulsa. I haven't told anyone I'm home, which has been nice since I really need to get some sleep and get caught up on all things life before I head out of the country forever. Update in a few weeks once I have my next trip figured out!

XOXO

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Now playing: Alice in Chains - I Stay Away
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Tuesday
May192009

Texas, Texas, Yee-haw!!


Click Here to see pictures from this trip!Location: Indio, California, USA

I'm pretty sure I've started many a blog post out that way. But I really am pumped to see her, every time I do. The conservative California... the Southern giant... the state I love to hate and hate to love, but do it all the same.

This innocent trip started simple enough. While in Chicago, it seemed natural for me and Dave to plan our next adventure (the traveler's curse, always looking ahead). Dave had never been to Austin and Mark was living down there with his brother about to start law school so it seemed like the obvious choice. When Dave decided on Memorial weekend, it was definitely the perfect time for another roadtrip. This time, I was desperate for some Saguaro cactus's and to see the big lights of a Friday night showdown in Odessa. But who am I going to convince to drive across the country with me for a week and a half to see some rocks, cacti and country?

Jeff.... duh.

Jeff's a geologist and a good friend from work (due to our close proximity as outliers in the age spectrum of our company as well as an incurable love of a certain beverage formerly known as cerveza). I knew he'd be on board for a trip to the desert so last night (while simultaneously scouring the craigslist rideshare section) I pressured him into throwing in the towel and coming along.

After a brief, but busy, stint at work this morning (plagued with "what time were you leaving again"... uhhh... NOW!!!) and well into the afternoon, we finally got on the road about 4. I had Jeff start the journey in command so I could pull together some last minute reports for Greg (sounds familiar, Canada) and we raced to pick up John of craigslist, who would be venturing with us as far as DFW.

John was an exceptionally interesting travel companion and definitely rounded out the extremely wide range of viewpoints already lingering in the van. John also brought along the most lovely pooch who made me miss having puppies around oh so much (no offense Tins) and who I contemplated kidnapping on numerous occasions. We quickly lost track of our modesty and jumped right into some deep and rich conversations about... what else... relationships, God, politics... you name it.

Somewhere just after sunset, we ran into Indio. A quaint (and hot) little town I remember only from horse shows, this place is relatively deserted. But I only needed one thing... wifi (strangely became the theme for the trip). So we drove up and down looking for cafes and finding nothing. Finally, I spotted it.

A Washateria!!!! Well... an off-brand... but still!! A nice laundromat with (drum roll please...) wifi!! So we found some exterior outlets (oober-sketch) and plopped down on the sidewalk to partake in a little late evening work overload. I finished my reports, shot them off to Greg and even wrote this blog entry all in the time it's taking Jeff to... do whatever it is he's doing.

So now it's off to the Rite-Aid next door to grab some grub (aka cheddar goldfish and Swedish fish - no one remembered them on this trip B Lee) and then off I go driving until... well... until tomorrow night.

XOXO

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Now playing: Carolina Liar - Show Me What I'm Looking for
via FoxyTunes

Monday
May042009

I try to try, and I live to live


Vancouver to LALocation: Hollywood, California, USA

I woke up yesterday somewhere in Oregon, which was another beautiful gem to add to my list of unknown states. It had rained some more but now was relatively patchy. Everything was incredibly green because of the fresh moisture and as we wound through the mountains, the light mist turned to light snow. There wasn’t much of it, but it was just enough to flock the trees and dust the roads. It was extremely picturesque coming down into the valley. Then right as we came out of our Christmas tree farm, right in front of us is Mt. Shasta. Now, I had heard of this little bump in the ground before, but NEVER did I expect this. It’s is this GIANT volcano that juts out of the middle of nowhere. There are no other mountains touching it and it is just surrounded by grassland and pine trees. Completely snow peaked and surrounded by some clouds, it looked like a painting. Unfortunately, Herr Brian (aka nazi) wouldn’t pull over to let me take a picture because he said we were running too far behind, so I snapped what I could from inside the car and onward we continued.

It was probably about this point that we ran out of music on my iPod as well. I have about 2000 songs on there, which I guess lasts about 80 hours, because that’s where we were. Not good. So we decide to do a little Chris Cornell marathon and play everything I have before the show.

We continue down central California through the central valley, Sacramento and the San Joaquin Valley. We pass hundreds of acres of cherry trees, avocado trees, orange trees, grapes, lettuce, almonds… pretty much everything. But that’s really all there was. It was relatively boring and redundant. Traffic started to pick up as we passed San Francisco and so did the winds which made it hard to drive a consistent speed. As we got close to LA, I took over driving again and led us into the city. We drove straight to the Wiltern in Hollywood, grabbed some PBR and a bag of chips and parked in the covered garage to change clothes and have a snack.

We walked into the Wiltern about 3 minutes before Chris went on stage. We grabbed a quick beer and ran in just in time to hear the beginning. It was one of the greatest shows I’ve seen, such an honor to watch such an amazing rock legend do his thing. And absolutely the perfect ending to the best and longest road trip any human has ever attempted in one weekend. Brian and I swung by the SM Apartment to pick up my mattress and Tinsley and then I dropped him off in Belmont Shore and headed to my own little pad for a much needed nap. And that’s that… the end of an incredible trip… And definitely one I’ll never forget.

Vancouver, BC, Canada --> Long Beach, CA
Miles travelled: 1319
Time travelled: 24 hours

XOXO

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Now playing: Curtis Peoples - Country Road
via FoxyTunes

Saturday
May022009

Eat. Shower. Canada.


LA to UtahLocation: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Oh no… my plans have changed a lot. No, that is not a mistake, I am in Salt Lake City, Utah. How I got here though, is somewhat of a blur.

Dan mailed me around 6 to ask if I wanted to grab dinner at King’s Head with him and a couple buddies from the hostel. I hadn’t eaten so of course I agreed and headed that way. By the time I got there, they had already eaten and were ready for beer, which was even more to my taste, so we left King’s Head and walked over to the Promenade to Barney’s Beanery (yup – my #2 spot to take surfers… I know, I’m boring). At this point, it was Dan (the Aussie), Mark (a guy in Dan’s room from Scotland who is in his 18th or so month of traveling after quitting his job and just leaving town) and Max (a German vegetarian who doesn’t drink – yes that does exist). The pool tables were occupied when we got there, so we headed for the shuffleboard – which none of them had played before. After losing miserably at shuffleboard (partnered with Dan – I’ll blame it on him) and then playing probably the worst game of pool I have ever played (again… Dan appears to be bad luck), we dropped off Max back at the hostel and I drove us over to Main Street to Finn McCool’s. So much for asleep by 9…

There was a great band playing at Finn’s. It was a cute little punky looking girl accompanied by a guitarist and a drummer/bongo-er who covered some really unique songs not usually sung by a girl or in an acoustic setting (love her style… oh wait, ya that’s what I like to do too). We had a couple beers (Corona for some reason) and started chatting about next steps. Dan was scheduled to leave at around 7:30 AM for Calgary out of LAX and we schemed about how he was going to get to the airport, and Mark decided he couldn’t take LA for much longer and needed to get to San Fran. Both boys were headed out in the morning.

Next thing I know, my hand is laying on top of Dan’s and Mark’s on the bar and someone is saying “alright, let’s make a pact… we’re actually going to do this… k?” Oh wait… that was me saying that. We pact and then throw our hands in the air in celebration before ordering another beer and contemplating the decision we just made.

After determining that Dan would have to catch the earliest bus possible to the airport and if he missed it he would be late for his flight and Mark casually asking if I would drive him to San Fran instead of having to take the wretched greyhound, It was suggested that Dan skip his flight and Mark and I drive him up to Panorama, Canada instead. Huh? How did that happen… “Do you have any friends that may want to come along as well?” Mark asked… actually… I thought… I do. I joke to Dan and show him the incredibly simple text message I’ve drafted… I guarantee this guy’s response will just be… Yes. So I texted Brian:

12:30 AM (Abbey): Hey, roadtrip to Canada tm? I’ll pick you up at 11… you in?
12:35 AM (Brian): Uhh… ok, sounds good. Seriously good timing.

So we swung by the hostel, grabbed their packs and headed back to the APT. We set our alarms for 7 and passed out. When I woke up at 7, I remember kind of wondering why I was getting up so early on a Thursday (generally a work from home day for me) and then realized that there were two men sleeping in my house. Oh wow… what am I doing? But I can’t back out now, Dan already missed his flight. Shower it is and pack. Once the boys woke up, I tasked them to pack as much of the heavy furniture as they could into my car. While they worked on that, I made a couple calls, got myself ready for the long trip ahead and packed up some weekend clothes.

We got on the road by about 8:45 and headed down to Long Beach. I dropped them and the furniture off at the new place in Belmont Heights and then we made a stop at the Port of Long Beach and Valero to do a little work and fill up the tank with some cheap gas. We still had to run back to SM to pick up the packs that we hadn’t loaded to cram as much furniture as we could into the car and so we decided to do a quick drive through Compton (I warned that it wasn’t going to be as exciting as what they were expecting, but we went anyway). “Alright guys,” I asked, “what’s the plan?”

Eat. Shower. Canada.

Simple enough. So we stopped on our first of many Macker’s trips (YES! Haven’t been around Aussie’s in too long… loving the déjà vu fast food abbreviations) and took quick showers back at the APT in SM. Naturally, it took us about 2 hours to get out of LA once we finally got on the road – traffic is something you can count on when you’re heading towards Vegas via the 15. And that’s just where we were headed.

We arrived in Vegas just before sunset and took a quick drive down the strip. Brian and I (who between the two of us average a trip to the Sin city every other week) point out the big sights, spit out some facts and then I drop the boys all off at the Bellagio to run in and play a quick game of Blackjack. We had a quiet (HA) dinner at the Hoffbrauhouse after this, which is a great off-strip German restaurant with somewhat reasonable prices and great beer. They also had a live band in Lederhosen with an accordion (love it!) and lots of drinking songs and “Prost!”-ing. Turns out our waitress is from central Arkansas and went to U of A so we had a nice long chat about life in the Ozarks and that was that. We were on the road again.

I was sad that we were going to be going through Zion in the dark because I really want to see this part of the world. Just when we crossed the Nevada/Arizona state line though, we realized the area was still going to be pretty amazing. We found ourselves driving down a road with huge walls jutting on either side of us. We pulled over to see what going on and found ourselves deep in a gorge. The perfect clear sky straight above with thousands of stars (can you find the Southern Cross… HA! I’m smarter than you think Mr. Kytic). We were dangerously parked right around a corner and Tay Tay bravely guarded us from massive semi’s rounding the corner just barely under tipping. We did a lot of yelling to hear our echoing voices and I think Mark attempted to take a couple pictures, but the beauty of this place was not in what you could see, which was minimal, but rather on how it felt. When there were no cars driving by, it was completely silent and the tranquility and emptiness of the moment was unrivaled. So much so, that my scardycat-ness set in quick and I felt this overwhelming need to get back in the car and lock the doors… *shiver*

On we went, stopping at the Utah border to take our 3rd state line picture. Utah was mostly dark so not a lot happened. The boys slept on and off for the next couple hours and we passed by quite a few Mormon temples and not much else. The sun started to rise as we passed downtown Salt Lake City and so we found a place on the lake where we could sit on the beach and watch the sun come up. The lake was beautiful and we did confirm that it is wide enough that you cannot see to the other side (just like the great lakes!). We sat on the edge and observed nature do it’s thing. I may have tasted the salt water to see how salty it is (not at all) and we stopped to get some more fuel (for Tay and ourselves).

According to our GPS, we have 27 hours left, but we only had 23 to start with so that can’t be right. The trusty iPhone says 14 hours… so we’ll go with that.

Long Beach, CA --> Salt Lake City, UT
Miles travelled: 789
Time travelled: 22 hours

XOXO

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Now playing: No Doubt - Don't Speak
via FoxyTunes

Friday
May012009

A typical spring day in LaLa Land


The new digsLocation: Santa Monica, CA, USA

So I have officially begun moving into my new place down in Belmont Heights. I haven’t gotten much moved, just the first load of miscellaneous accessories, household items and decorations, but it’s a start nonetheless. I’m pretty excited about this place, it’s going to be so much more spacious than the place in Santa Monica, which I am looking forward to. I also got all of my utilities and cable set up and turned off at each respective house. All in all, things are looking positive!! The parking situation is a little iffy… there’s not really a lot of place to park around there, but it doesn’t seem like too busy of an area. We’ll see how it is for real once all the beach traffic starts showing up.

After I left BH last night I drove up to West Hollywood to meet up with Mary Sullivan who is the CEO and founder of MommyMixer. Now, those of you who live in Austin likely already know about this service, but for those who are not as familiar, here’s the scoop. As a sitter/nanny, you put together a resume with all of your kid watching experience and sign up for a “mixer.” As a mom/dad, you pay a fee and sign up for a mixer. At the mixer (which is usually hosted by some sort of boutique of children’s clothes or toys) all of the sitters get up and do a brief introduction of what they are looking for and where their experience has primarily been. Meanwhile, the moms listen and follow along with a resume book of everyone attending. After all of the introductions, moms and nannys mix together over lemonade and cookies and attempt to find the perfect mutual match. It’s the greatest way to find a nannying job and is primarily focused at college aged girls and middle/high income families.

Anyway, so Mary and I have been talking about expanding mommymixer into LA for a while now but just haven’t been able to get anything together. She hired a city coordinator who put on the first of hopefully many events to come in the area and I ran by to say hey. While there, I got a chance to throw some ideas out and hopefully I’ll be able to help her to establish a little more presence in the city. I know taking on ANOTHER thing doesn’t seem like a good idea right now, but this takes priority because I really feel like I owe her something for all of the great families I had a chance to work with when I was in Austin.

After I left Mary, I headed back to SM to pick up Dan who is a couchsurfer I unfortunately couldn’t host because of the move, but who I promised I’d go out for a beer with when he got to town. We headed to King’s Head (duh – where else do I take my surfers) and one beer accidentally turned into about 4. Needless to say, I’m not a big fan of Dan today because of this massive headache I am now plagued with. The company was great though, which is why the “one beer” limit disappeared relatively quickly. He’s going to be working up near Calgary at a place called Panorama in their golf club for the summer and then he’s going to try and get a job as a ski instructor come next season. I’m pretty jealous. Although I’ve never been to Panorama itself, I know the area around there and it has to be one of the most beautiful places in North America, so I can’t imagine it’s too bad of a gig. He’s stopping in LA for a couple days on his way from Sydney to Calgary. He flies out Friday morning so I think we’re going to try and grab another drink tonight. Since I got little to no packing done when I left him last night at about 4 AM (which ended with about a 2 hour drawing session at the front desk of the hostel on 2nd St and the acquisition of one stuffed koala), I don’t really have anything to unload out of my car, so I’ll probably be back before sunset and in bed by 9ish.

Work should be light today… Most of my clients are relatively light this week and I am definitely looking forward to this weekend when I can hopefully move the rest of the apartment and enjoy a much needed detox period. I’m thinking 12 hours of sleep a night and a lot of veggies… I’ve eaten enough queso in the past couple days to feed an entire Mexican village for a week.

XOXO

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Now playing: Mott the Hoople - All The Young Dudes
via FoxyTunes

Thursday
Feb262009

I'm over it... MEH!!


Location: Santa Monica, CA, USA

So, I'm over the whole thing. It's really sad how it all turned out, but I'm pretty confident that the big dude knows what he's doing and has something better in store. Just hope he let's me in on the plan sometime soon.

In the mean time, I've applied for a couple part-time writing positions for various travel blogs/journals/magazines all over, and so hopefully, one of those will turn into something of value. Until then, I'm just going to keep traveling and keep working and see what turns up!

Thanks so much for all the support and love and prayers and please stick around and keep reading the blog!! I would love to gain a bigger and more global following, so if you like what you read, pass it on and hopefully we can get something real started :)

Alright... on to planning this Flogging Molly Chicago trip!! Any ideas?

XOXO

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Now playing: Flogging Molly - Between A Man And A Woman
via FoxyTunes

Thursday
Feb192009

Now the competition REALLY begins...


Location: Santa Monica, CA, USA

Not a lot of time to chit chat or Jennifer will wring my neck. I spent all day yesterday filming (yay sunny day!) and then all night thinking that with Kyle and Alex's help, editing would be a breeze. But unfortunately, that was the understatement of the year. How come no one told me ahead of time that iMovie on iLife 08 does NOT have the little turtle/rabbit button? Literally, my life was ruined. I tried recording myself in a goto meeting, with screenfreez software. Finally... you want to know what I ended up doing to speed up the frames? I manually moused over them at a fast pace, while I literally recorded my computer screen with my video camera.

Absolute nightmare.

Anyway... the video is up! The application is SENT and accepted!! I am so excited and SO relieved to have this all taken care of. And now, I am off to schmooze the boss a little more before I head out of town for Las Vegas for Jennifer's b-day!!

Don't worry, there will be plenty of updates on all of the wonderfulness :)

XOXO

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Now playing: Johann Sebastian Bach - Hallelujah
via FoxyTunes