It’s been a week… My first week back in the office and it has been a week with a huge amount of change. I’m exhausted, and the week is only half over!
I’m definitely dreaming of vacation… Warm weather and sun please!
It’s been a long week, and I am thankful that tomorrow is Friday. And payday at that! I also hope to have a relaxing weekend. Last weekend a friend came to town, so the weekend was full of getting together with various friends and socializing. It was great! But I am also looking forward to a quiet weekend with not much planned.
Meanwhile, until I have a chance to do some writing, I hope you enjoy this photograph. I took it at Paint Mines Interpretive Park, in eastern Colorado. The colored layers were stunning, and it was amazing to hike and explore the rock formations.
I miss my trip, and now that the weather is warm and sunny again, I find myself itching to be back on the road. My new job means I have to be stationary for now, so I’m feeling nostalgic.
March 26 – April 1, 2018
So, I went out to dinner with my girlfriend Lelani and her daughter Laura sometime in February, and the topic of a spring break road trip came up (Laura was in college). Lelani, Laura and Laura’s friend Brenna were already committed, so they had room for one more adventurous soul-searcher. It seemed intriguing, but I had so much going on in March, and I had just booked my trip to London for late June, so doing another week long vacation seemed like a bit much. Plus, one of my employees was going to be out of the office that same week, so it seemed like a lot of burden for my other two employees.
But the idea kept coming up, and I wouldn’t even have to plan anything – I could just show up and go along for the ride! So, a few weeks later I talked to my two employees and they assured me that they would be happy to have me skedaddle for spring break so they could have a quiet week. A road trip was born!
Lelani and Laura had planned a route that included heading down I-5 to Eugene, then cutting over to the Oregon Coast and taking the coastal route through Santa Rosa into San Francisco. We would spend 3 nights in San Francisco, and then take the same coastal route back up through Oregon and Washington. The trip would commence on Monday (Lelani couldn’t leave until then), and return home on Sunday. Accommodations would be camping on the Oregon coast the first night, 3 nights in an AirBnB in San Francisco, another night camping on the Oregon Coast, and one night spent in Portland, Oregon before heading home.
Camping on the coast in late March seemed risky, but hey, if worse came to worst we could always find lodging with a solid roof over our heads to shelter from the rain – surely everything wouldn’t be booked on the coast in March. And if things were really bad, there were four of us, and we could always drive in shifts until we got to somewhere we thought we wanted to be – right! This is sounding ominous, and I assure you, it never turned out like that – we never even stumbled upon the Bates Motel, or the Hotel California…
My next posts will be telling you about the 4 Chicks and a Little Bitch Road Trip 2018 – yes, we named our road trip – and in case you were wondering, the little bitch was Lelani’s 5 month old puppy Shaka, who came along for the ride. What an adventure this would turn out to be!
Day 1, Sunday, January 21, 2018
It was January, and it was stormy… As a result, I didn’t sleep well for the few hours of sleep I got before my flight. It was very windy at my house, and I don’t sleep well in the wind. Add to that the fact that I had to be on the 2:10 am shuttle! Wow. My flight out was at 6:30 in the morning, and it was a bumpy ride until I was over the Rockies.
I got to Atlanta, grabbed a late lunch/early dinner while still at the airport and then managed to navigate the subway downtown. My hotel was right downtown, but about two blocks away from Peachtree Street so it was less expensive than some of the others. They upgraded me to a suite, so I had a bedroom and living room, with two flat screen TVs! I am not much of a TV watcher though, so that isn’t such a draw for me. It was a historic hotel with a quirky inner courtyard with windows looking down on it, so it was a pretty cool place!
I got some snacks and a bottle of wine from a shop close to my hotel, and that was that. That first evening was a very quiet and early night, since I was tired from being awake most of the night before!
Hotel: Hampton Inn and Suites, Atlanta Downtown
Day 12-14, Friday, August 4-6, 2017
I headed out from Portland towards home on Friday morning. Along the way, I stopped off at the Tacoma Marina to meet my friend David, who had a boat moored there. We had talked about just meeting for lunch, but the timing turned out well, as my only commitment was getting back to work the next Monday. The weather was spectacular, so we ended up taking the boat out for a couple of days of relaxation and decompressing.
The good thing about a boat on the water is that you are a captive to the concept of relaxing. We anchored off of Vashon Island and had almost no interruptions, except for the occasional boat going by. For two days, I read my book, napped on the bow of the boat, sunned myself, fished and crabbed (both rather unsuccessfully, as an octopus kept stealing the bait from the crab pots), ate, drank red wine (Redhead Red blend – yummy!), and swam in the Sound. It was glorious! We ate well, with shish-ka bobs, strawberries, peaches, plums, assorted snacks, and Greek yogurt for breakfast. Corn on the cob and roasted potatoes were salted with sea water and cooked on the BBQ.
We jumped in the water whenever we got too hot, and bobbed on pool noodles and watched the jellyfish float by, drinking canned beer until we got too cold. Well, let’s get real, I always got too cold first. I learned that full beer cans float – I have no idea how I made it into my 40s while living right next door to the ocean without knowing this. The weekend cycle – get hot, jump in, bob, drink beer, climb out, warm up on the bow, repeat.
David knows I hate Modest Mouse – so every time Modest Mouse came on the Spotify station, he would skip over the song, even if it meant getting up to do it. Bless his sweet heart. We talked about life; all those deep conversations that happen with close quarters, people you cherish, and wine after dark.
These were some of the most peaceful, enjoyable days I have experienced in a long time, and the perfect end to a great vacation.
Saturday night late, I arrived home from my cross country flight from Atlanta. I kicked off my 2018 travels by spending a week there and had a wonderful time. The flight home was good; I watched three movies (hey, that’s a long flight!) and got up at least a half a dozen times to let my row mates out to go to the bathroom, over and over and over… Note to travelers: if other people are already getting up, go to the bathroom. Just go. Don’t wait until 30 minutes later!
My favorite moment was after we landed, when Ms. Window Seat informed Mr. Middle Seat that we had a smooth non-turbulent flight because the captain diverted us south to avoid the Rockies… I laughed out loud! But I held my tongue and refrained from pointing out that there was not a cost effective flight path from Atlanta to the Pacific Northwest that could go far enough south to avoid the Rockies… Me thinks that Ms. Window Seat failed Geography…
Of course, with the time change, I was awake at 6:45 Sunday after not going to bed until close to 1 am Saturday night. Can I go back to sleep or take a nap though? NO! I am the world’s worst sleeper… Until my body decides I have had enough and then I can sleep through a 777 taking off, a home invasion of the house next door (with shots fired and police searching my yard with dogs and floodlights), or The Ramones in an outdoor amphitheater concert (all true stories by the way…)
So instead of napping, I went for a 5 mile walk with a girlfriend, walked to the grocery store for some basics (read: wine – and totally other stuff too!) and did enough yard work to get me 20,000 steps for the day, along with a complete and utter exhaustion…
I need to get my next vacation planned!
I got an offer I couldn’t refuse for May, 2017. A chance to go to Hawaiʻi with friends! My friend Brent’s father Rich owns a condo and they were going, and I was welcome to tag along! Even better, our friend Brandon was going to join us! I certainly couldn’t pass that up, so I booked a plane ticket and set about doing a bit of research on what I wanted to do when I was there. Specifically, I was headed to the big island of Hawaiʻi, and staying in the town of Kailua-Kona (although most people seem to just call it Kona). I had never been to the Big Island, and my last trip to Hawaiʻi was in 1992, to Maui, when I was 16 years old. It was high time for another visit!
Since I was traveling with friends, I couldn’t plan the whole itinerary – there were going to be joint decisions about what we were going to do. So I made a commitment that this trip would be more relaxed, more ‘go with the flow’ than my usual fast-paced road trip. What better place is there than Hawaiʻi to “endure” a bit of forced relaxation? It didn’t disappoint! Of course, in characteristic style, I did manage to find plenty to keep me occupied during my trip, so I will hope that you enjoy my series of posts.
Day 1, Wednesday, May 10, 2017
My first day was mostly a travel day. I flew out on an early flight and and met Rich and Brent on my layover, between my first and second flights. I had booked onto the same flight as they were on, but had no idea where they were seated, and I happened to choose a seat right behind them! So great snacks! – win for me!
We landed in Kailua-Kona at about 3:30 – we had arrived in paradise! We were picked up by a family friend and headed out immediately for an early dinner. At dinner, I had the breaded Ahi Poke (I had no idea it sometimes comes breaded), pickled cucumbers, salted cabbage, corn and other goodies. We spent a long time at dinner, with Brent and Rich chatting and catching up, and me meeting friends for the first time. It was dark by the time we got to the condo, so Brent and I spent a little time in the dark exploring the grounds, the sea wall and the lava rocks in the ocean. We headed to bed about 11:30 pm.
I was ready for the next day’s adventure!
Yellowstone National Park was the first National Park – it was established on March 1, 1872 by President Ulysses S. Grant. Yellowstone is a unique environment, with features that are really rare in other areas of the United States. Early advocates knew that it should be protected for generations to come.
Yellowstone is 2,219,789 acres, and about 96 percent of the land area of the park is within the state of Wyoming. Three percent is within Montana and about one percent is in Idaho. The park is 63 miles from north to south, and 54 miles from west to east, as the crow flies. In 2016, 4,257,177 people visited Yellowstone. That’s a lot of people! It is also designated as a Unesco World Heritage site, a designation by the United Nations for sites which have cultural, historical or scientific significance.
The park contains the Yellowstone Caldera, which is the largest volcanic system in America – it has been termed a “super-volcano” due to its size. The current caldera was created by an eruption 640,000 years ago, and was 1,000 times larger than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington State. Which, if you were around for it, you know Mount St. Helens felt like a pretty big eruption. That wasn’t the only eruption though, and each of the several that have occurred over millions of years at Yellowstone have created the rock formations, the depressions where the lakes sit and have coated large portions of the Americas with ash. Thousands of small earthquakes occur each year within the park, most of which are unnoticed by human visitors.
Yellowstone is know for it’s thermals and geysers – hot springs of liquid that often contain brilliant colors due to the bacteria that make their home there, and erupting fountains of water. The park contains over 10,000 geothermal features – and 1,283 of those are geysers that have erupted. About 465 are active geysers on average in a given year. Yellowstone is named for the Yellowstone River; the headwaters of the river are within the park, and the Continental Divide runs diagonally through the southwest section of the park.
Human habitation has existed in the park for approximately 11,000 years; evidence has shown that Native Americans began to hunt and fish in the area then. Clovis points have been discovered in the area, and obsidian found in the park was used to make cutting tools and weapons. Arrowheads from Yellowstone obsidian has been found as far away as the Mississippi Valley, indicating there was a rich trade among the Native Americans in this area with other tribes.
About 60 species of mammals make their home in the park, including bison, elk, moose, deer, mountain goats, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, gray wolf, coyote, lynx, and grizzly bears. About 3,000 bison are in the park; their numbers fluctuate depending on how harsh the winter is. Wolves thrive there now, after being hunted almost to extinction in the early 1900s and eliminated from the park. However, since the next largest predator, the coyote, cannot bring down large mammals, there was a big increase in the number of lame bison and elk, as well as an overall increase in their numbers, which throws the ecosystem out of balance. A healthy ecosystem needs the apex predator. Wolves were reintroduced in the 1990s, and are estimated to number at slightly more than 100 animals within the park.
I visited Yellowstone as a child, but it had been a long, long time and I was so excited to go back! Next up will be Yellowstone posts!
After we left the Mission San Diego de Alcala we headed downtown to Old Town San Diego, located adjacent to Presidio Hill, underneath the bluff. For the first several decades, residents preferred to live within the Presidio walls or just outside, for protection from other Europeans or hostile Native Americans. By 1820, the threats had decreased, and San Diego residents were choosing to live at the base of the bluff in what is now Old Town San Diego.
The problem with the site of Old Town San Diego was that its location was several miles from navigable water, so supplies had to be brought overland from Point Loma several miles away. In the 1860s, residents began abandoning Old Town in favor of New Town (where the current downtown is now) because of its proximity to shipping ports.
We were hungry when we arrived after touring the mission, so we found a Latin American restaurant called Berta’s which offered cuisine from several Latin American countries. Renée had a wonderful Mango Avocado salad, a Chilean empanada and a glass of sangria, and I had Chilean Pastel de Choclo with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. The sun was shining and it was warm – we enjoyed just sitting outside and having our meal.
After lunch, we walked across the street to the San Diego State Historic Park – a collection of historic buildings built between 1820 and 1872, when New Town took over in dominance. The park contains five original adobes, a schoolhouse, blacksmith shop and a stable, among dozens of other buildings. Some are reconstructions. We enjoyed wandering around in a rock shop that was originally the Assayer’s Office, and toured some of the different displays in one of the adobe homes and other buildings. We even sat on a wooden donkey! The real donkeys didn’t want to come over and talk to us… The entire park is free to visitors, and there are living history demonstrations too.
Nearby, there are other historic sites that are not part of the San Diego State Historic Park too. I could have spent a couple of days just wandering around Old Town San Diego, checking it all out. I wish I had more time! It is nice that Renée has a similar appreciation for historic sites, so I didn’t feel like I needed to rush. I would have loved to have seen the Whaley House Museum that is nearby. I will certainly have to return…
Renée had to be back at the hotel before 2:30 that afternoon for a meeting for her conference, so we left Old Town San Diego and headed back to the resort. I took the opportunity to get in some pool time. Angela and Allysa had to head out to the airport to fly home, while I was staying one more day. I enjoyed some time just laying by the pool with my book and my travel journal. And then I spent some time walking along the beach and collecting some shells.
That evening Renée and I went out to dinner at the Pacific Beach Fish Shop with a coworker of hers (my former coworker) who had also flown in for the conference. We had lobster lumpia, fish tacos, and beer. I swear I would be there all the time if I lived there… It was all so delicious!
The second day of my San Diego trip began a little later than it might have otherwise, due to our late night of debauchery the previous night. We were all upright in reasonable order, but nobody was feeling particularly bright-eyed or bushy-tailed… We headed over to the hotel restaurant for breakfast, and had a “meh” meal with another round of horrible service. We decided at that point that we weren’t going to do any more hotel meals!
After breakfast, Allysa and Renée settled down for a nap, and Angela and I went over to the pool and hot tub. We relaxed and chatted, and spent some time just snoozing in the sunshine.
In the early afternoon, we lazily wandered down to the beach and found a restaurant for lunch called Sand Bar. They had amazing tacos! Their fish tacos are apparently award winning, but I thought the carne-asado taco was even better! Watch out for the spicy guacamole though, it really packs a kick! I should have taken photos, but I totally forgot… Fortunately Renée took one! She’s my food porn soul sister…
After lunch, we went back to the hotel and Renée and I tried our mad skillz at Stand Up Paddleboarding. It was the first time either of us had ever been, and we got the briefest of lessons before we were set loose in the marina to SUP away. We both started out kneeling; it was much easier to keep your balance that way, but it is very hard on the knees. We both stood up and practiced paddling around – it was harder than I thought it would be to keep my balance!
There were a few tense moments as the wind was blowing me further out into the bay, and I was trying to keep my balance while paddling frantically to get back closer to shore… At one point I did consider just jumping off the board and swimming back in (I’m a strong swimmer), just in case no one was going to effect a rescue! I did manage to paddle back into calmer waters on my own though.
I had a great time– I was able to look down and see fish, sea slugs and little rays in the water beneath me! And that was just in the very protected waters of the marina. I loved it! I will definitely do it again, but I don’t think I’m anywhere near ready for ocean SUP-ping. The water will have to be pretty calm… Think small lake on a calm day…
Angela and Allysa decided to walk to the grocery store for dinner items and set off for the 2 mile walk. Then Renée and I went and picked them up with the car when walking home with all those groceries seemed impossible.
We had a dinner of cheese, crackers, fruit and wine, and then headed out to take a cruise on the historic steamboat that is operated by the resort. The Bahia Hotel has two historic steamboats – ours was the Bahia Belle and a ride on the boat is free for hotel guests. There is a cash bar, a DJ with a dance floor, and an upper open-air level where guests can see the view, or the city lights after dark. It is a beautiful boat, but we were all still tired from the night before, so we were all duds…
We finished off our evening playing Deer in the Headlights – a card game that was billed as being sort of like UNO. Sound like fun? We thought it would be, but it turns out that it is fun only if you have the memory of a genius elephant… We had to consult the cheat sheet every. single. time. to figure out what cards to discard, who to give them to, etc. It was not a game suited to anybody who has had any alcohol, or is tired, or has the memory of a mere mortal, or is easily distracted… It was maddening! Pretty soon we decided that just drinking the wine without playing the game was better!
But it was still a nice end to a relaxing day.