The land of the ice and snow

Happy almost 2011! A significant year, if you think of 2012 as the end of days. Maybe that will be a good way to spend the year. Maybe we should all treat this year as our last, just to switch things up. I promise I will drink more and swear more.
We had a nice holiday with my family in Truckee. It’s been below freezing for most of the time we’ve been here, and I got to experience my first snowstorm. It was close to blizzard conditions, and we were outside for some parts of it. It barely limited our visibility, but was plenty chilly and I felt like I was on Planet Hoth as the white snowflakes whirled around and stuck to my clothes.
We haven’t really been into Christmas in our family these last few years, since it’s a Christian holiday and we’re so not Christians, and there are no kids in the family besides Christian (hey!). Most of the traditions of late December are Pagan traditions anyway, though, and we might as well take advantage of the days off. SO we exchanged a few gifts, and it was Ian and Missy’s turn to get a stocking from me. The stocking buying is my favorite part of the holidays anymore.
We made an awesome sled run off the back porch, and took turns popping the sledding inner tubes that were meant for children. We did some snowshoeing, and a couple of us also made it out snowboarding. We also got some of our annual Jenga games in, and a crushing game of Star Wars Trivial Pursuit. Tim and I have been learning to bake artisan bread this past year, and earlier this week Tim baked one of the best loaves I’ve seen so far.
This morning I went snowboarding again, and was only reminded that I should either go way more often, or stop going. On my last run, I tried to find a route that was more boarder friendly, because I kept ending up with all of these skiiers. Since when has there been a resurgence of skiing? I took the wrong lift and ended up on the top of the mountain, and the route down was not at all my skill level. I was doing cautious switchbacks the whole way down the hill under the threat of somersaulting my life away. My thighs and knees were on fire, and I was whimpering loudly into my scarf and cursing everything. Tim, however, made sure I had a new pair of super warm mittens with wrist braces underneath. So my hands were nice and cozy warm during my sad ordeal.
We also both bought Camelpaks, since we plan to do some hiking this year. When I got on the lift for my first run, I went to take a drink, quite pleased with myself for planning ahead and taking care of my hydration for the day. That’s when I discovered that the tubes were frozen and completely useless, at least for that morning. Bonus, I got to be that dork walking around with frozen tubes sticking out of my jacket.
We stopped next to Donner Lake on the way back to the cabin and checked out the water. The lake is just on the verge of freezing for the season. It looks glassy all the way across and has these ripples of steam coming off of it. I only brought my little point and shoot, and I wished I could have spent hours down there photographing it with a big camera and a tripod.
Anyway, Happy New Year, friends and Fam!

The pretty blue shiny thing

So I got stung by a jellyfish today, but it was only my fingers. The remarkable part was that I was warned, and my friend had already gotten stung. I thought I would be unable to get in the water if there were jellyfish in it, but we’re in Cabo, and it’s 87 degrees, and the water is beautiful! I put on some goggles and went out there, determined to be careful and look around me. I mean, you know how Jellyfish are all cartooney and big and white and obvious. Or not. In the meantime, I saw this thing that looked like a fishing lure, and it even looked like it had a metal part, so I thought I’d grab it and put it in the trash on the shore so that nobody gets hurt. Grabbing that little fishing lure felt like grabbing an electric fence with razor wire, and that’s when I realized that I’d reached out and grabbed a jellyfish. It HURT! I had to go straight to the bar and ask for ice, and then I rejoined my friends in their cabana next to the pool. It didn’t hurt, as long as I kept my fingers in my cup of ice. Grocery shopping was on our agenda after the beach, and I was about as useful as Captain Hook.
Later in the evening I was walking along the beach at sunset with one of my travel companions, Tracy, and we saw some tiny blue things on the sand. More pretty fishing lures? We both realized they had to be jellyfish, and Tracy said she remembered an Australian girl at the pool saying that the jellyfish here are blue something. We looked them up when we got home, and found jellyfish that matched the description of the ones we saw on the sand. They’re called Blue Bottle Jellyfish. Then I typed that into Flikr, my current favorite website, and some of the images in the set were also of Portuguese Man of Wars. Tim came up behind me while we were looking at the images, and he’s like, “you got stung by a Portuguese Man of War?” And I’m like, “No, they’re just in the same photo set because they’re blue and they’re like Jellyfish.” Then we looked up information about the Blue Bottles, and we found out they ARE Man of Wars. What the hell!! So we were stung by Man O Wars. It looks like the ones in the Atlantic are much worse than these ones, and that’s where they get such a bad reputation. These are TINY.
So yeah, I didn’t just get stung by it, I reached out and grabbed it, and got stung by it.

Additional, better photos of these beautiful bastards can be found here.

Cactus, windmills, and Happy Winter Solstice

Oh blogsie, how I’ve missed you.
my friend Cris and I took a road trip the other day out to the windmills near Palm Springs. We did some photography and had some date shakes at Hadleys, and did some catching up. My favorite spot for photos was this little cluster of cacti. I thought it had been through a fire, but on closer inspection it didn’t appear that anything else around it had ever been burned. I guess it’s just from drought, but I’ve never seen any plant life get so dead and then come back to life. It must only stay alive way, way down in its roots. It’s a very humanoid looking gathering of Cholla. About 3 minutes into photographing it, I suddenly felt that old sense of being responsible for looking out for my friend, in case she’d never been around Cholla before. You don’t just look down when you hike around that kind of cactus, you have to keep looking down. You have to make sure one of those harmless looking chunks of the plant doesn’t cling to your foot. Sure enough, Cris had already found a cluster clinging to her foot, and then had it stick to her hand when she tried to get it off. And I had gotten a piece in my boot while on my way over to her. We both should have been supervised.








Camping pics

Here are the pics from our camping weekend, where we celebrated my mom’s retirement and enjoyed Tim’s excellent cooking. The entire family made it out there.
I got up early on Saturday morning and got a little time to myself, which I used to photograph the Joshua Tree next to our tent with the moon, and the sun hitting the rocks beyond our campsite. We were guests of Caryn’s and got to enjoy the ranger campsite. I am now spoiled for camping up there. We also saw a desert tortoise, which I put in a previous post, and a baby rattlesnake. Tim saw a coyote while I only heard them, at 3 a.m. on Sunday.
We had several friends up there as well, and we gave mom a cake and sang a round of “For She’s A Jolly Good Fellow”. We had tried to make it at least a little bit of a surprise for her, but she had grown suspicious early on. She is, after all, a mother of four.
We all had a great time.
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Home

When I was getting ready to go to Chicago, I started thinking about how lazy I am and how I didn’t know if I was going to get worn out while we were there. We did a lot of walking, and took a lot of stairs, but I ended up having too much fun to feel tired. The house that the couple and their families stayed in was 3 story, with our west coast people on the third floor. The hotel we stayed in was a little over a mile away, and we walked back and forth almost every day. The room at our hotel was on the third floor, and the elevator was out of commission. We climbed a lot of stairs, and I hardly noticed except that my heart rate was a little over the top at first. I am now in shape! All it took was a mini-vacation. Really we were lucky that our setup was what it was, because Chicago food lived up to its reputation completely, and we ate a lot of it.
My friend Cris was there too, starting filming on the reality show she’s producing. We kept texting throughout the weekend, and tried to meet up, but weren’t able to. When we were walking to the wedding on Monday, we passed Wrigley Fields and I noticed that it was surrounded by RV’s, and then I noticed that they matched but with different famiy names on them. Then I noticed that it said the name of my friend’s show on the back of them, and realized that they started filming their show today and Cris is probably right near us. I couldn’t stop though, because we were starting to run late. It felt like a scene in a movie, where two people’s worlds just happened to intersect. She had told me that they started this season’s trip at Wrigley Fields. I hope she had a good time in Chicago!
So the wedding was beautiful, and I’ll be posting pics as soon as I can. I’m glad we were there for that. It will probably go down as one of the all time best vacations ever. Unless that’s just how it is with Tim. He’s great company, I know that.
I got the window seat on the way home and of course was looking out the window the whole time. Did I mention how much I love flying?
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I also caught a pic of Big Bear Lake:
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And the lovely L.A. skyline as we came in from the east.
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Underground

We took the Chicago subway, on our way home from my cousin’s house in the suburbs. I’ll post those pics when I get home. I had my camera out almost the whole time.
We first took the Amtrak train to Chicago Union Station before walking 6 blocks over to the subway, which everyone refers to as the “L” (El?). It’s strange to me to enter a large city from underground, popping up in the middle of it. I will always be that person who grew up in wide open spaces, far out in the desert. The subway is a complete novelty to me, and it’s such a contrast to be surrounded by people who are in the middle of their commute, looking ahead as vacant as I’m sure I do when I’m driving home from work at the end of the day. I was looking at people’s small packages and thinking of all the crap that fills the trunk of my car, and how all that crap gets hauled around with me everywhere I go, every day.
I like having my car filled with my own music and I like the solitude, but it would also be nice to just sit and read until I got home. Plus, hey, public transport is so much better for the environment.
And who knew, back when man first started building tunnels, that they would eventually become so brightly colored and pretty?
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