Spring Break – Part 2

I have become a train lover.

It took a bit of prodding and pulling, but by the end it happened.

The train I took from San Francisco heading to Seattle left at 9pm. It arrived the next evening at 7:30.

And I didn’t get the sleeper cabin. [Gasp!] Yes, I actually planned to not shower. Sue me. Wait, don’t. Garage sale season is coming up and I need the money.

I sat at the station like an excited little girl waiting patiently with arms crossed around my luggage (wishing it were a carpet bag). When I heard the announcement of the trains arrival, I of course was the first standing on the platform.

Off came a few passengers for a smoke break and on came me. I found my seat and sat down eager for what, I didn’t know.

It didn’t take long before I did. About an hour into trip, the train came to a halt. I stopped watching the girl in front of me making a move on the guy sitting across the aisle, and looked out the window.

A man was dragged off the train, thrown on the ground and pinned there by several policeman. We later found out he had carried weapons in his baggage.


The flirt in front of me finally made the move of all moves and boy accepted. They ended up leaning against each other for a snooze.

I had no one.

So I scrunched up in my seats and tried to make the best of it. A couple hours after I finally quit hearing slurping sounds from seats 22 A&B and started dreaming, the shouting started.

“You B@$*&#! You stupid F&*$)#& B*$&*!! ”


I sat up to watch the verbal form of the wood chipping scene in Fargo unfold. Man, it was bad. And scary.

The train attendants pulled the man down to the first floor. Then we heard them call the sheriff in the next town over to meet the train in ten minutes.

As the train slowed down in the middle of a pasture, out walked an old-fashioned looking sheriff, straight out of 1888. Or maybe I was still dreaming. All I know was that it felt surreal at 3am.

Off they dragged guy #2 and drove him away.

I tried to convince myself that this was the reason I didn’t want the sleeping cabin. But when I went back to my scrunched position I immediately disagreed.

But then I woke up to this: a sunrise in amongst Oregon countryside, complete with smudge marks on the glass. I immediately smiled and pretended I was camping. It was lovely.

I was still tired.

Over the speakers, they announced that tour guides would be boarding the train through a particular part of the trip.

I tripped my way up to the cabin and listened for a good hour or so. The two ladies above were the guides and they were adorable.

We passed through some great scenery and even saw a bald eagle dip down to a lake and then back into the sky. Everyone gasped and pointed. It was fun.

Later I saw another bald eagle in a field and yelled “look!” (completely out of nowhere too. I normally don’t make a sound in a group of strangers when I’m by myself.)

So I yelled “Look!” A group of people laughed and said that it was a cardboard cut-out. And couldn’t I tell that it was at least 10 feet tall?

I laughed. Then cried. It was embarrassing.

But the majority of the time, I sat quietly watching the different scenes go by. I knitted a bit. And read too.

I hardly talked though. And, to me, that was a wonderful experience. Watching people and countryside in silence…. laughing to myself, soaking it all in.

I would love to do it again. Maybe next time with a sleeper cabin. And also a friend.

Spring Break – Part 1

What is my deal? Is this the blogging 7-year itch… Otherwise known as the ‘Blitch’?

A coworker came in the other day singing “She’s lost..that blog-gin’ feelin’…. Woah-oh-oh… the Blog-gin’ feelin'”.

So after a lot of waffling back and forth, my husband told me to stick the blog out. I first felt guilty for spilling all of the dirty details of the blog’s and my relationship to him, but then realized he was right. I’ve come this far, I need to keep going. After all, the blog has been a sturdy partner. So what if it’s a little flaky and definitely not the bread winner. It makes me laugh and listens to all my drama. Let’s do it.

On with the show: My trip to California with Juice.

We had a horrible experience trying to get out of the midwest: flights cancelled, our planes landing in different airports, etc. The weekend was almost called off.

But then I came to after passing out, guilt-tripped her a bit, and we were back on.

But I still think…

Continental sucks. Woops! That was one of my new years resolutions broken.

Oh well. They do.

We finally found our craigslist property that ended up NOT being a scam. Huzzah!

And the next day we went sample tasting (of all sorts)… First chocolate and cheese…

Then olive oil with bread.

I could’ve done this one all freaking day. Go figure.

No literally. There went my figure.

Lastly, wine tasting. We met up with one of my college roommates and her husband. They belong to a couple wineries in Napa and hooked us up with a tour. We were handed a glass to sip on throughout it.

Towards the end she gave us a sample right out of a barrel.

Followed by a private wine tasting in the cellar…complete with wafers and cheese. It was great!!

Afterwards, we had a picnic and continued our wine-sampling right into the evening. We had to. It was Napa.

The next day, Juice and I roamed around a bit more… checking out the winery that hosted a 5K race we were supposed to run in if Continental didn’t suck and then high-tailed it to San Francisco.

..where we popped into a make-up store to freshen up.

We had dinner in Chinatown, milled around a bit, and then I had to leave.

And this is when the trip took a Fargo meets Wild Wild West turn. Bye California! Onto Washington!

I’m back

I tell you what. I hit a wall, man. A big one. Almost to the point where I didn’t feel like continuing the blog. Can’t explain why, but I think it had to do with the sun peeping out from the clouds and warm breeze in my hair.

That, and the chocolate cake I made recently. Yeah, that took up most of my time.

But I’ve survived this funk and am back in it.

So I’ll pick back up where I left you… albeit a few weeks late: my Spring Break trip to the west coast. I haven’t had a spring break since college, so was eager to use it. J came with me to the Napa vineyards where we met up with an old college friend.

Then I took a 24 hour train ride up to Washington.

Where I hung out with a friend that lived on the same block with me in grade school.

My blast from the past Spring Break, up next.


No, really, I’ll continue.

I’ll just dangle a piece of chocolate cake in front of the computer screen.

Catalina Island and beyond…

I’m not feeling very wordy today. So just follow me through the last day on Catalina Island…

But first, the night before. We popped a few more advil and sat in front of the fire to watch the sunset. Later, we would all snuggle our way into the tent to play Taboo for a couple hours. Knowing it was cold outside and us warm and safe in our sleeping bags helped soothe our achy bodies.

But I couldn’t sleep. And neither could my brother.

So we spent most of the night staring at the moon and its reflection on the water, quietly thinking to ourselves. That’s the good thing about M. You don’t need to converse. You can just sit and drown yourself in thought.

Morning came almost too soon.

But, with morning came the sun. And oh how wonderful it felt on our faces.

So, let me take you on the hike back. I want you to imagine a slight breeze, crisp air, and warm sunshine. The ground was dry, but you could feel the moisture on everything green.

We hiked up hills, cut through the Others’ neighborhood, ducked under canopies of trees… All of this with a smile on our faces. We were happy.

We arrived a couple hours later and enjoyed a nice lunch at the restaurant and a game of speed on Tinkerbell playing cards. And no, they weren’t my cards. I had a falling out with Disney while working at an Equity Center in college. It was ugly. R had to endure the brunt of my anger so no one else would.

On the way back, I refused to sit inside. Instead, I wrapped myself up in a sleeping bag and sat on the top deck with eyes closed, just embracing the wind. I could live outdoors.

The next day we intended to hike up to the Hollywood sign, but we didn’t make it very far. Our legs hurt.

This is what happens when I ask the brothers-in-law to “get together”. R just stares at M’s outreached hand.

We had a really good time. M & D were great hosts and you could tell they really wanted us to enjoy ourselves. And we did. Thanks you two!

Catalina, or why my hips hurt.. Part One

I’ll be straight with you. I’m gonna stretch this past weekend out for as many posts as possible, partly because it reminds me of the nice weather we experienced and partly because I have nothing else to talk about. So there.

We met up with my brother’s friends early saturday morning to eat a good pre-hiking breakfast of McDonalds Egg & Cheese biscuits. Just exactly what you want at the pit of your belly while wandering around for 8 miles. But since I never order this delicacy anymore, I slurped it up. Slurped? I guess that verb works, since its mostly grease.

Ah, grease. Let’s all take a moment and bow our heads in appreciation of it.

After an hour ride on the water taxi to the Two Harbors marina, we unloaded our gear, grabbed what we needed from the park office, and took off. Oh joy! We were so happy and full of energy!! Especially me, since D slipped me an Excedrin on the ride over. I don’t take much medicine, even for minor things. So when this puppy hit me, I was wide eyed and jittery. I’m pretty sure if someone showed up in a trench coat with little Excedrin pills hanging on the inside, I’d buy some. And isn’t that how they always get you? The first one’s free, buddy.

As we walked around the one street town to find the trailhead, I noticed a sign. Wheels? When was that an option? I want my money back.

But they shoved a sock in my mouth and we trekked on….

…right up the first hill out of town. And then we rested for about three hours. It hurt and I was starting to crash from my half dosage of pain reliever. We were bracing for the worst.

Every so often, I’d turn around to see where my brother, M, was. I’d have to turn around, you see, because he was almost certainly pulling up the rear. It wasn’t because he was out of shape.. oh no, it was because he was carrying an 8-person tent. For 8 miles. I’ll let that swirl around in your brain for a bit and will definitely not bring up that I had suggested renting a couple smaller tents. No, you’ll never hear that out of my mouth.



I don’t know how he did it. I’d have quit right after lugging it to the car.

But we forged on, enjoying the scenery. And oh, it was so lovely. We arrived after almost two straight weeks of rain showers and the hills showed the results. I was happy.

Until we turned a corner. And I saw it. Where the Others live. It. was. freaky. Mostly because of how quiet it was. So I pretended to be Kate and hoped Sawyer was somewhere nearby being tortured on a tree. Who knew torturing could be so sexy?

After that scene was over with, we came to a crossroads, and chose unwisely. Whenever I think of the phrase “choose wisely”, I always envision Indiana Jones determining which cup is the Holy Grail. Isn’t it weird how your mind will instantly flash a scene for only a moment and then its gone.

Happens to me a lot. But mostly it’s of what might happen. And that, my friends, is the scariest place to go in the world.

What I didn’t envision was walking straight into the path of bison.

My heart pounded.

We stood there staring at them and them back at us. It felt like a million years went by until one of them finally crossed the path and let us through.

After about a mile straight uphill, we realized we had gone the wrong way and had to turn around and politely ask to be let by the bison again. My poor hips.

Oh, and M’s too. I had almost forgotten about him. But they hitched a ride from some guys who had their day off. In the back, they had a cooler full of beer and we checked to see if it had the Dharma logo. It didn’t. But I still bored my eyes into them hoping to be offered one. All I got was dirt in my face as they peeled off.

M & D had never smiled bigger.

But if I’m honest, I enjoyed the hike… despite how angry my hips were.

I was just happy to be outside all day. Nothing beats that feeling.

So after we watched M & D ride off into the sunset, the rest of us hiked a couple more miles to the end destination. A little cove called Parsons Landing. As we neared, our feet couldn’t help but run.

I was kind of sad for it to end. But sitting in front of a fire and hearing the waves crash all night made the 16 hour pause so worth it.

So did the food. Okay, it was all the food, none of the nature.

No, okay, I lied again. It was about half and half.

Tomorrow we would wake up early and hike back…and to me, a morning hike is about as good as it gets. Especially if you have M&Ms in your pocket.

Good night.

Catalina Island en route

Well, we ended up getting out of Arkansas last weekend. It made me kind of suspicious that the only flight not cancelled was ours. The tickets were extremely cheap… and so apparently were the people calling the “go ahead and give it a go” shots. I mean, almost every other flight was cancelled. Every. Other. Flight.

But did that stop us?

Hail no. (Literally)

Neither did our snow packed car stop us…

…or the almost zero visibility on the roads. If I had to stick my head out the window and get pneumonia, by golly we are getting to some sunshine! Keep driving R!

We finally dragged our soggy feet into the airport. I have a thing about packing light… trying to scale back what I take to the point that I’m on the verge of wearing the same thing everyday on a trip. Okay, it’s not that bad, but I did refuse to wear a jacket because I didn’t want to lug it around for five minutes walking to and from the airport.

I was a literal snowwoman (excuse the political correctness) when I finally stumbled through the doors. It was ugly. And wet.

When my eyelids eventually unfroze themselves, we saw our friends T and R, and immediately gut laughed.

It’s not unusual to run into people we know as we come from a small town, but this was getting ridiculous. They were waiting for their friends to return from China with their newly adopted baby.

Recently we ran into T&R at a local pizza place too. They were there for a birthday party, and were early, so we sat with them until our pizza was ready to go.

A birthday party… no big deal right? Right. Except for when the pizzeria has literally two tables inside and both were being used for the said party goers that hadn’t showed up yet. When they did, T&R were put in an awkward situation of introducing us to everyone as if we had come along. And of course, R ordered the most labor intensive pizza in all of Italy, so we waited forever to make our graceful exit. By this time everyone was wondering who this chick was with no makeup on and why she was standing in line for the pinata.

So we show up at the airport and who is having the welcome home party? Oh, just the same people from the pizzeria.


What luck to join them for again! I thought I might as well take photos of them since we’re basically a part of their lives now. T joked that R & I will be in the background of all their photos. And if we see the couple on the street, we’ll bring up memories to them and they’ll wonder why we know such intimate details.

Embarrassing. But it was nice to see them with their new baby. R & I have talked about adoption a lot and my idea of our future family is changing to include that option.

Until then, we’ll continue to buy cheap tickets on scary icy flights.

But we landed! Oh yes we did and had a quick night’s sleep before heading out to Catalina Island with my brother, his wife, and their friends.

We were backpacking for the night and it was part gorgeous, part LOST-like. If you don’t watch the show you won’t get the references, so you best start watching reruns, like, now. You won’t regret it.

If you do watch the show, I probably really like you.

Stay tuned!