Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Baby Bear

After an 8-month stint on the waiting list, we finally got to pick out our new family member.  Bear will be joining us in less than two weeks.  He's a miniature sheepadoodle and will weigh (we think) just under 30 pounds when he's full grown. 

We are convinced that he may be the cutest puppy in the history of the universe - but of course that could be biased.  Either way, we are in love with him already and can't wait to bring him home.

Be jealous:

Monday, August 12, 2013

En Fin

Days 5, 6, and 7 we spent hanging out in Pebble Beach/Carmel/Monterey/Pacific Grove.  We went bike riding along the ocean, visited Fisherman's Wharf, stopped by Pebble Beach golf course, ogled the Lone Cypress, chatted with my parents and grandparents, and generally ate way too much delicious food.

I've loving succulents around the house lately and so Blake enjoyed teasing me every few seconds by generously pointing out, "oh, look, Rach, one of your succulents!"  The climate in Pebble Beach is perfect for succulents and they're everywhere - growing in every nook and cranny of every cliff. 

Basically, the colors of all of the flowers and plants are gorgeous.  In the fog, the plants along the coast look muted like a water color painting.  In the sun, the bougainvillea climbing the fences and homes are Technicolor-bright.  I spent one afternoon dragging Blake on a walk around the neighborhood to take pictures of my favorite homes and favorite landscaping.  I may have to share those photos at some point - they'll make you drool with design lust.  I love it when rich people also have good taste (believe me, it doesn't always go hand-in-hand). 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Encore en Californie

Day 3: Pebble Beach
My parents rent a house in Pebble Beach every summer for a week.  My Dad grew up there and knows all the best spots for abalone shell hunting, golf ball collecting, bike riding, otter spotting etc.

We went to Point Lobos in the morning and hiked along the coast.  To my great satisfaction we spotted several otters and watched the eat and play through my Dad's binoculars.

Some of the lichen on the trees had turned bright red  - it looked almost other-worldly.  I loved the contrast of the bright red with the turquoise water and light grey rocks.

We spent the afternoon at the shore closer to the house and went beach combing and tide pool hunting. It was foggy, but otherwise great weather.  I hadn't thought to put on an extra layer of sunblock with all that fog, but I roasted on my face from the glare off the water and now my skin is flaking off at the most awkward of times.  When will I ever learn?

Also included in our beach combing is hunting for golf balls.  There are (what seems like) hundreds of golf courses in Pebble Beach and the surrounding areas, and a lot of them have holes right along the water.  It would seem that not all golfers that can afford a $500 round of golf are necessarily good at golf.  We benefit from that.  

Golf ball hunting is like an Easter Egg hunt for adults.  We'd find them wedged between rocks and in the tide pools.  Carmel Beach backs onto Pebble Beach golf course and it's ball hunting heaven.  Extra points if you find a Pebble Beach logo ball and even more if it's in mint condition.  All told we found 98 golf balls throughout the week.  After a good trip through the dish washer, they were good as new.

What did we do with all these golf balls, you ask?  We fit most of them into our carry on luggage and brought them home.  Not to use in the conventional sense, but to fill a glass lamp.  You don't believe me?  Here's proof.

I've been looking for ages for something to fill our glass vessel lamps in the bedroom, but a lot of things just looked too cliche.  Ok, so maybe golf balls are cliche, too, but it's fun that they're a souvenir that we actually get to look at.  Plus, it's manly for Blake's side of the bed, right?  Now to find something for my side.

Day 4: San Francisco
We brought our bikes to San Francisco to ride the Embarcadero, across the Golden Gate Bridge, and into Sausalito for lunch and a ferry ride back.

I had (I thought) mentally prepared myself for the afternoon, knowing that it would be combining and combatting two of my biggest fears: heights and biking in crowds.  [It may interest you to know that the other two top competitors are the feeling of falling and spiders.]

When we arrived in San Francisco the waterfront was packed with tourists from all over the world - here for the America's Cup sailing races.  We were swarmed with huge families of French, German, Italian, and Japanese.  You name the language, we heard it (except for English).

This was all well and good, but it made for an absolutely chaotic ride.  No one knew where they were going or even the rules of the road.  When we got up to the bridge it was so packed that I just couldn't make myself trying to wend my way through the crowds.  So I walked my bike across all 1.7 miles of it.  In a total and absolute panic.

I was hit several times by cyclists who didn't know what they were doing (my ankles bore the brunt).  It was windy.  It was high up.  It was terrifying.  I'm a wimp.

The picture below was before any real tears started, but those sunglasses are hiding the terror in my eyes.  Don't let the smile fool you.

From the moment we got on the bridge, the only thought in my mind was that I was determined to make it off as quickly as possible.  The only picture I stopped to take was of the Emergency Phone and Crisis Counseling sign.  It's small in the above photo, but it says "There is hope. Make the Call.  The consequences of jumping from this bridge are fatal and tragic."

How about the consequences of getting jammed overboard by a speeding French cyclist? I wasn't taking any chances.

We later looked up the total number of suicides from the Golden Gate Bridge.  Since the late thirties when it was finished, there have been over 1500 known suicides (some of the bodies wash out to sea). That's crazy!  What a horrible way to die!

Anyhow. Back to less morbid things.  The fog had burned off in Sausalito when we rolled in (ok, when I walked in and the rest of the group rolled in).  We had grabbed lunch from a great burger joint and ate in the park overlooking San Francisco.  By the time we took the ferry back, the fog had burned off in SF, too.  It was gorgeous.  The whole scary adventure was worth it for that ferry ride.

I'm thinking next year I'll do something safer - like the Ghirardelli factory tour. As far I know there have been far fewer deaths by chocolate in the last 80 years.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Back to reality

I'm quite sure that the worst day of the year is the last day of summer vacation.  It's melancholy to think that I won't be spending any more time in the sun or gallivanting off on trips with our family for the next while.  Sigh. That plane ride home is always a somber time.

I arrived at work on Monday to over 180 emails.  This made me want to throw my computer my third story window.  This also made me want to turn right around and leave for another week.  Of course I did neither, but that didn't prevent my having an internal monologue all day where I griped to myself about life's hardships.

So, to pep myself up I'll recount our California trip and relive it through pictures.  I realize that this will provide entertainment to no one but myself, but so be it.  Feel free to click on through to a more interesting blog where you can peruse less grainy photos.

Day 1-ish: Pacific Grove
We arrived at the Monterey airport (late) and waited 45 minutes for our bags.  This may not seem significant, but let's take into account that we were the only flight arriving that night and that we had brought carry-on suitcases. 

Why would we need to wait for our carry-on bags, you ask?

Good question.  The plane from Denver to Monterey was so small that we had to gate check our carry-on bags.  We were assured that we'd be able to pick them up on the tarmac when we exited the plane. ("Within 5 minutes").  We waited 10 minutes on the tarmac and then were told that they didn't have the man power to get the gate-checked bags off at that time and that we'd have to wait at the baggage claim.

After waiting 20 minutes at the baggage claim we looked around for someone to give us a status update.  THERE WERE NO WORKERS TO BE FOUND IN THE ENTIRE AIRPORT.  15 minutes later someone came in to say that they still didn't have the manpower to get our bags, but they would be coming soon.  Let me include here again that our flight (about 25 people) was the only arrival that night and that the distance between the plane and the baggage claim was probably less than 50 yards.  At this point I was so frustrated that I would have offered to lug the bags off the plane - and if I could have found an airport employee, I probably would have.

Our (carry-on) bags finally arrived after 45 minutes, and we took off for our hotel.  This made our travel day an even 12 hours.

Thanks to a steal of a deal on Priceline, we snagged a room at the Centralla Inn in Pacific Grove. My parents weren't arriving until Sunday, but it made more sense for us to fly out on Saturday, so we stayed the night in this charming bed and breakfast three blocks from the ocean.

Our room was the one in the top right with the bay window.  It was so charming.  It also came with a full made-to-order breakfast.  I had a feta and bell pepper quiche and potatoes, scones, fruit etc. on the side.  I ate 8 scones and came away feeling exactly like this gopher looks: (yes, it was worth it).

We spent the morning walking around Pacific Grove and Lover Point Beach.  I was unprepared for 57 degrees and fog, but it was otherwise very pleasant.  My parents picked us up around noon and after making a stop at the grocery store, a Mexican joint, and a Bagel shop we all headed to the house in Pebble Beach.

Day 2: Big Sur
The four of us (Blake, my parents and I) drove down the coast to see Bixby Bridge and Big Sur.  The PCH is gorgeous, but hilly and topsy-turvy, so it was lucky I had such great scenery to stare at out the front window as I tried to keep my stomach in check.

My Dad waited for a lull in traffic and ran out into the middle of Bixby, but I stayed safely on the road and away from any edges.  [Side note: I am terrified of heights.  Not really the heights themselves, but more the fact that when I'm standing at the edge I get an urge to jump - just to see what it feels like.  It's this urge that scares me most.  Judge me how you will.]  The picture below includes Blake, me, Bixby bridge...and my Mom's finger for good measure.

The fog broke as we drove up the coast and we had the most beautiful blue sky.  We ate lunch at Ventana and the view of the ocean was incredible.  (The food was delicious, too!). 

...more tomorrow so that this doesn't become the longest post of all time...