Saturday, December 30, 2006
This place is stunning. I mean, I know we have mountains back home, but these are...different. The vistas are spectacular...and the colours are hypnotising. AND there's sun.
We hiked to the top of Yosemite Falls yesterday (a solid day hike) and the water freezes before it hits the ground - just makes a giant pile of snow! Amazing! But the minute the sun hits you, it's warm! Weird!
We've met a bunch of wonderful people here at our hostel (the Yosemite Bug) and on the trails. A new friend from Belgium (living in LA) joined us today for our cross-country ski trip. We probably covered 23kms today!
And...another couple - living in San Francisco...we'll be meeting up with them when we head out that way (tomorrow!)
This has definitely been the highlight of my trip so far (not sure about Andrew's - he's reserving judgement). I love this lifestyle, people are laid back, food is good here, people are...so kind.
I feel so blessed to wrap up this year in such a way. And so excited to start it off in San Francisco! I'm such a lucky gal!
I wish you all the best New Year celebrations, please be safe, and tell me all about it! (woh, you know, all this hiking just brings out the youth leader in me - I've been vigilant about making sure everyone's got enough water, food, clothes...Captain Safety's back! NoooOOOooooOO!)
Thursday, December 28, 2006
We're in Reno. That's right. The "biggest little city in the world". Unfortunately, their big flashy Reno sign, complete with tag-line, is out.
I think that sums this town up.
We arrived last night at 10:30, and entered our first casino at 11:30. Dumped some money into the slots (seriously, I just can't get it.) (and really, what IS there to get? Don't know, but I don't) So we switched to blackjack. We made friends with the dealers, they taught us what was what. It was actually really fun. We left at 3am. It's true, time flies. I pretty much ended up even in Blackjack, but it lasted a long time! Fun!
Anyways, this morning we're going to drive to Yosemite - hoping for x-country skiing tomorrow. And I have to jump in the shower, so Andrew's gonna fill you in on the fabulous last night in Fort Bragg. I'll call this : Cantina
After our days events we headed back to Debbie's place, chilled out, waited for Debbie to wake up and got on our way to the Mexican Cantina. The building is divided into two halves: The bright restaurant half and the dark watering hole. Of course we started with the light side. As is seemingly the standard down here, our meals were HUGE and not all that expensive. So we couldn't get a small amount of drink to go with this large amount of food, so we got a carafe of sangria. I thought a carafe was maybe a half litre, but it's quite a lot more than that. Debbie had to run off to the hospital for her shift, so Leanna and I were left behind to conquer the Sangria, which of course we did! Then we tackled the dark watering hole next door!
In the Cantina we met with Ron and O.E. A couple of local bartenders drinking at some other bar that wasn't theirs.
We four were the only people there.
It was pretty much as local as it gets.
Monday, December 25, 2006
In case you don't have the interest to read this whole thingy - we've made a few more top threes. You know, to sum up.
(frankly, I don't even know if anyone is reading this...but glad to have something for posterity!)
Top 3 new(ish) nicknames for Andrew:
Any of the three can be interchanged with "buddy"
Top 3 roadtrip songs to take you from Portland to Fort Bragg on a windy, twisty, squirrely road 10 hours into the drive:
Lovers in a dangerous time - Barenaked Ladies or Bruce Cockburn (I think it's him at any rate)
Break the Chain - Fleetwood Mac
Dream Machine - Mark Farina
OR (this one's up for debate) A long december - Counting Crows
Top 3 things I've learned about the States so far:
They have trees. Many more than I ever imagined. IN California.
People here are actually very friendly.
This place is pretty freaking beautiful. Really. Small west coast kinda beautiful. I had no idea.
SO, another Christmas unlike any other.
Andrew and I went a-walkin' today. We saw the Cabrillo lighthouse and then took a walk along the MacKrecherecherinicherinerin (I really can't rememeber what that's called) State Park. Which is a breathtaking bit of oceanside. It's been SO nice to go out and walk after two days in a car. The waves are stunning, and move with such force! Which got us to talking (in fact, just kept us talking - we spend about half our time talking about overconsumption, energy conservation and social support programs). Now, I've heard about tidal energy - but am a little shifty-two-fifty on my facts. I've heard that this form of energy production can have a ruinous effect on the ocean's ecosystem, making tidal energy harvesting an environmental hazard as well. Does anyone know anything about this? Sounds like something we oughtta look up.
At least we're thinking.
Our second night in Fort Bragg, staying at Debbie's place. Which is so great - it's really nice to be with family for the holiday, and though she's working nights right now, we're getting a chance to hang out when she gets home, and before she leaves for work again. (she's a nurse in the ICU at the nearby hospital) (another reason why we're talking so much about social support).
Annnnd well, so goes the wandering. We found out that the hostel we booked in San Francisco is actually in the scuzzy prostitute, drug and gang district. Kinda like staying at the Patricia hotel on East Hastings. Hmmm I think we're gonna be switching that one around.
Well, on to the rest of the James Bond movie...Roger Moore...definitely no Sean Connery, I can tell you that much. Tomorrow is Mendocino and wine country!
Sunday, December 24, 2006
1. We got here.
2. Walking down that street over there.
3. The stairs and entrance ways in Portland.
(I love them...they just BEG to be climbed...or entered. But we think that maybe this would be a little forward of us here, on our first day. It's true, we're just a couple of Canadian Hussies)
We're leaving today for Fort Bragg, CA..hip hip hurray! (you know what makes a roadtrip bettah? CBS mystery theatre on the CD player...also the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy...also MUSIC!)
Stayed at the Portland International Guesthouse - in the alphabet district - really! that's what it's called! And had some super mussels and crab cakes at this small funky kinda restaurant. It's so much more special when you fall into a neighbourhood that feels organic. (and I don't mean healthy food, I mean...natural)
We've also decided what our superpowers would be, if we were to have them.
(Mark&Michelle have already declared mine to be beer-o...now, I think this is no doubt useful, but not quite spectacular enough if you ask me!)
SO Andrew's the PLANTINATOR (he can make things grow. whatever you need, he can grow it)
OR he can fly, but is also impervious to temperature (see, that's a logical, realistic response. smartie pants)
And I've decided that I'd be the GIFTINATOR - I'd always have the perfect gift at the perfect time (so, person on the street, needs new shoes? just so happen to have an extra pair with me! Someone's really struggling to crack open a crab leg...need a crab cracker? Oh look what I have in my purse!)
Well, merry christmas eve. Here's to a 12 hour drive to Californi-ornia
Saturday, December 23, 2006
So me and uncle Andrew are off tomorrow. I get a kick outta saying that: me and uncle Andrew; I think it paints a funny picture. (that's him and I in the photo...I think we kinda look alike - I can really see the resemblance between he and Husayn in any case)
Today mom's friend asked what kind of car we're taking down the coast...and all I could think of was..."well, Andrew's car? it's...blue. And a...Toyota?". No matter, it'll get us there. I hope.
So the plan? (oh this could be fun, cause who knows if we'll stick to it at all) We're going through Portland, Fort Bragg (California for Christmas - stepmom Debbie lives there), we might spend a night in Sacramento, a few in Yosemite - hoping for cross country skiing and some fabulous EARTH - and then to San Francisco for ze new year!
So...I've decided to keep track of this adventure here for yous, so that I don't just come back and say "oh, it was great! we did...lots!".
I'm also currently phenomenally tired out. Tired out from two weeks of not-stopping. Tired out from work work work - though it's amazing, I haven't quite mastered the art of letting it stay at work. I think it's hard when my job is based on relationships...and timelines.
SO here's to a beautiful two weeks of adventuring, driving, seeing and doing. I'll add photos as I go along too (the best part, if you ask me!)
Sunday, January 01, 2006
You know, this whole "time zone" thing is pretty cool...I feel like I'm in the future...and I get to experience things before anyone back home does. So I can tell you that your tomorrow will be just fine! (good...way to start off the new year, Leanna...random)
Anyways, last night, our new year's eve was nice and mellow, I spent it with the family. But outside was practically a war zone...see, leading up to midnight, people light off firecrackers that are less like firecrackers, and more like bombs. And machine gun fire. Every time one of these lit off near the house, I jumped. (that made last night kind of like a work out). The kids went out on the balcony to see, and actually felt the blast.
I have one last week here...Husayn and the kids go back to school tomorrow, so I'll be on my own again. We had a great time this past week travelling around. We saw Baalbeck, where the largest roman temple lies, and is also the best preserved.
I actually didn't expect to be awed by any of the ruins...I've seen a bazillion postcards, and really - ruins seem like they'll be really touristy.
However, I was proven wrong. The sheer history of it all was remarkable. And the ruins were HUGE. You feel dwarfed. Not only by the structures, but also by the past. Underneath these roman ruins are pheonicien ruins (dating back to 2000 bc)...and under those ???? This country is DENSE with history, culture, religion...language...legends. Apparently the Beka'a valley (where Baalbeck stands) is where Noah set up shop after the great flood. How's that for history?
Okay, well, I hope everyone has passed a wonderful New Year's Eve. I miss home...but am still enjoying these last days!