One Hour in the Alabama Hills

It seems we can't drive along U.S. 395 through Lone Pine without stopping in the Alabama Hills. Something about this landscape just draws us in every time. We spent the Christmas holiday weekend playing cameras in the Eastern Sierras, which meant we went past the Alabama Hills twice...once on the way to Bishop, and once on the way home. 

On the way to Bishop we were trying to beat a storm, so we just stopped in the Alabama Hills for about an hour. But an hour was enough to set the tone for a great weekend of hikes and early morning shoots and snowball fights. 

I wish we could spend more time on the far side of the Sierra Crest, but I imagine that the rarity of our visits over there make each trip that much sweeter.  

Visual Nicaragua

As a few of our readers know, I am plowing my way through an online MBA program at Portland State University. One of the cool aspects of this program is a series of study abroad experiences in which students sign up for a compressed 2-week course that takes place in a variety of foreign countries. The content and course descriptions are a little different for each experience, which allows a student the opportunity to pick an experience in a part of the world or with a subject matter focus in which they are interested. I was lucky enough to do two study abroad experiences this summer--one in Germany where I learned about product innovation, lean management, and green management; and one Nicaragua where I learned about micro-enterprise with a focus on micro-finance and renewable technologies. 

For the Nicaragua trip a crazy opportunity to create a couple of video documentaries fell into my lap. I couldn't pass up a chance to be embedded in a culture with the primary job of collecting photos and video footage of our experience. I've posted a few of my favorite photos in previous blog posts. So today I figured I'd share one of the videos I created. The purpose of this video is for use in a student info session for the study abroad program to attract future Portland State MBA'ers to the Nicaragua trip. This was my first time recording video footage and editing/putting together a video. I learned a ton...and want to do more! 

Note: This is a 9-minute video.

I created another video that will serve as part of an Indiegogo campaign in the coming months, so I'll wait until the campaign starts to share that video. Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the western hemisphere, so even just a little support in critical areas really makes a difference.  

For now I'm settled back into the day-to-day grind of the real world, but I would love to tell more stories for people who need to have their stories told. It was an incredible learning and growing experience.  

Thirsty Thursday: Road Trip

Rambler: Beth Drink at Hand: Peppermint herbal tea

I know, I know, that's a pretty lame drink for Thirsty Thursday. I have an long mountain bike race this weekend, so I figured a small alcohol taper was a good idea. Of course this race isn't nearby which means ROAD TRIP! Well, its not much of a road trip, just a few hours north of here, but we'll still be loading the car full of bike stuff and dog stuff and food and assorted unnecessary crap and hitting the road.

In honor of our first trip in awhile, I thought we could revisit our big-ass road trip from last fall. In September I decided I'd had enough of the Dirty South, so Terry rescued Massey and I from Lousyana and we drove back to California. Four days, five states, four National Parks, and six burritos later, we were happily home on the left coast. It was the typical road trip--dodgy hotels, hole-in-the-wall cafes, sad little towns, and miles and miles of road. We took a ton of photos on the road trip (gee, that's shocking!), but I found a few that said "road trip" to me.

Every road trip needs good weather. Blue skies and fluffy clouds.

Road trips are always filled with dusty, rusty old towns seemingly fading with time.

Much of our route followed the old Route 66 across New Mexico, Arizona, and part of California. This sign was in Moriarty, NM...home town of one of my good friends.

More lonely roads and more lonely roadside views. The telephone poles below mark the old road bed of Route 66. The road is long gone, but the relic telephone poles still stand in Petrified Forest National Park.

Every road trip needs a good navigator...maybe next time we can find one who doesn't slobber on the windows.

And the navigator needs breaks to stretch the legs and patrol the surroundings for dangerous creatures. She's clearly on high alert here.

Its definitely not a road trip without sampling the local cuisine. We didn't find a girl on a flat bed Ford in Winslow, AZ, but we did find the Brown Mug Cafe! Great mix of Navajo and Mexican flavors. Incredible.

And every road trip needs a diner and/or drive-in stop...and the Astro-Burger Drive-In didn't disappoint! We've been trying to find a way to get back to Boron, CA to get more tacos!

Mmmm, yummy yummy in my tummy carnitas at Astro-Burger.

The quintessential piece of any multi-day road trip: lodging. Ironically, we didn't stay at any of these establishments. Guess I just had a thing for motel signs on the trip.

Lonely California desert.

And then, finally, our first glimpse of the beautiful blue Pacific. After a year and a half away that thick, foggy marine layer never looked so beautiful.

Let's Get It Started

Howdy readers (or maybe we've dwindled down to reader...hi mom). As I sit here in sunny Monterey, CA, reunited with Terry after 17 months living 2 time zones apart, and finally free of my former life as Air Force weather geek, I figured its time to catch the world up by posting some photos. Plus, the last 2 posts have come from Terry which means I've been seriously slacking. So, just one photo today but fear not--this housewife will soon have nothing more to do than take the dog to play dates and prepare cocktails and cheese plates for the hubby's return home from work each afternoon. He'll have to massage his own feet though. We stopped at the Grand Canyon on the road trip from Lousyana to California. Had I been wearing my heart rate monitor I would have been able to confirm that I was in Zone 4 while he screwed around out on the edge of the 1,000,000,000' cliff into the Canyon. But I got a cool photo.

The Great Road Trip, Day 4

Finally getting my final installment to you. We set out from just west of Dallas on Monday morning with a mere three hours to drive until we got to our final destination of Shreveport, and I swear it was the longest three hours of my life! There was traffic and silly drivers with huge motorhomes pulling pickup trucks and lots of semis and an accident. But we finally made it and found our way to Louisiana.g10-eaw-20090406-img_0777

Once we crossed the border it was just a few minutes to Shreveport and a few minutes to cross the big old Red River and we were in Bossier City. After unpacking the car and me riding my bikes around the parking lot to make sure they still worked, we were starving. Thanks to the technological wonders of things like Yelp on our iPhones, we found a little restaurant called "The Real Pickle". I have a thing for fried catfish, so I had to order the fried catfish poboy. For the uninitiated, a poboy is sort of like a sub sandwich, but it usually has some sort of fried seafood on it.


Now, for those of you keeping score at home, yes, I was in Louisiana for exactly two hours before the fried food found me. And it only took three hours for me to get an obnoxiously painful fried food headache, so fortunately I don't believe I'll have too many fried food cravings here! Meanwhile Terry flirted with the waitress like he normally does to find out what she liked and ended up with a fried oyster poboy. He loved it. Of course, now that we are in the south, Terry is smug as a bug since he can get sweet tea anywhere and everywhere. I personally find sweet tea disgusting since it tastes like tea-flavored pixie stix, but whatever. He loves it and drinks it like its liquid crack and it makes him happy so I don't argue. I stuck to beer. g10-eaw-20090406-img_0127 So that's about it. We've been looking for houses and I've had to go into work yesterday and today so we haven't explored the area too much yet, other than what our relator has shown us. Is it sad that I'm basing the location on where I can ride around my house?

The Great Road Trip, Day 3

We had about 30 minutes in New Mexico and then spent the entire rest of the day going 80 across the godforsaken abyss of west Texas. You would think that going 80 means it goes by fast but in fact, it NEVER ENDS! I don't even have much to say about it. Terry and I devised a huge plan to build a recycling center powered by wind turbines and serviced by bio-diesel powered trains. We'd build it right next to a huge federal prison so that we didn't have to force anyone to move to it...we'd just have the prisoners work at it. This is what you do when you're stuck in Texas for 8 straight hours...and we're still not done! We're only in Dallas, so we still have another few hours of Texas left in the morning. Oy! Rather than ramble on, I'll just give you a little photo essay of the day.

Crossing into Texas...


Slums of Juarez, Mexico across the river...


Part of Texas where things were still interesting to look at...


Terry put in some serious miles today, and with a smile on his face...


How the locals live...


We passed on this choice for lunch. It wasn't Mexican anyway...


The painfully flat start of I-20...


The authorities in TX are kind enough to make the drive an educational experience...


Wind farm and dust devil...


Oil tank thingies...


Another oil thingie with pretty clouds...


Farm action shot...


And a fun processing one...


The Great Road Trip, Day 2

Day two of the road trip is in the books. We started out from Indio, CA this morning with nothing to do put head east on I-10 for something like 693 miles. We crossed into was my first time really seeing much of Arizona. And I think I saw enough to keep me set for awhile.


We met up with Katie, one of my old college soccer teammates, in Phoenix. She was actually going to mountain bike ride with her hubby after lunch which made me a little jealous. But we had miles to drive and places to get to. And I didn't have any Stan's with me to fight off the inevitable goatheads.


So back in the car we went. I drove and Terry did his usual car shennigans, like sleeping and facebooking and twittering and learning how to make his own Choco-Taco. Meanwhile I sing along to whatever random music is on. Today I was on a big classic rock kick. When my family used to go on vacations from Iowa to Colorado my mom would copy their records onto tape and bring them along. I know every single word of every single song on the Meatloaf Bat Out of Hell album, along with several Jackson Browne, Eagles, Styx, and Journey albums. Oh, and a random Simon and Garfunkel one, too. We made our way across Airzona and into New Mexico, with me driving and singing my ass off to "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" and Terry studying how to make a homemade choco-taco.


Terry did have one job to do...grab the camera and take a picture of the New Mexico sign when we crossed the border. Its the co-pilot's job. He didn't do so well with one job.


At some point we decided that we were only going to eat Mexican food for the remainder of this trip, too. I don't know why we made this decision, but we actually had to skip out on dinner tonight in Las Cruces, NM. We were still stuffed from the late lunch and a quick ice cream stop that it didn't matter. We'll make up for it tomorrow in El Paso with some huevos rancheros. And now for a few sights from the drive...


Rocks in New Mexico.

g10-eaw-20090404-img_0706Crazy billboards...and why does every little tiny town in places like this have a Dairy Queen?? I think we passed roughly 273 DQ's today.

g10-eaw-20090404-img_0717A pretty little scene.

g10-eaw-20090404-img_0721Racing against the trains (this one's for dad...there was a UP mainline along I-10 for awhile...lots of trains)

The Great Road Trip, Day 1

Today we started our big bad road trip from Monterey to Shreveport. Well, technically we're going to Bossier City, Louisiana, but no one knows where that is, so Shreveport is easier. In fact, a lot of people don't know where Shreveport is, so if you're searching google maps right now, its in the northeast corner of LA, about straight east of Dallas. Anyways, I am moving there because the Air Force told me to while Terry gets to stay in Monterey and finish up school for the next nine months. I kidnapped him from school for a week and he's driving out to LA with me. Day one started out with a significant amount of swearing from me. I can't deny that I tend to swear more than any nice girl should, but certain things push me over the edge...this morning I had to go do my final bit of military checking-out stuff at another base (not at the school I attended) in Monterey. I rarely go there and usually only have to go to one particular building if I do, and it usually has a parking space or two available when I go there. But of course today, the usual parking lot I use was full, introducing frustration number one with me: why locate all the customer service angencies in a single building and not have ample parking available for the customers?? So I went over to another lot, parked my car at about 9:52, and walked over to my appointment. Turned in my stuff, signed off the necessary forms, back out to the car...oh, how sweet, someone left me a note on my windshield--must be a friend saying good-bye...wait a minute...are you f'ing kidding me?? A PARKING TICKET?? What the ?? (Insert lengthy profanity laced tirade).


Apparently I parked in some sort of staff parking lot. My own fault for not looking for a sign some where that must have stated that the parking lot was a staff parking lot. But seriously, did the guy watch me park my car? The ticket was written not more than 2 minutes after I got out of it. I was back out to my car in 10 minutes. And $45 for a parking ticket?? Ridiculous!

Fortunately my day quickly improved when I got to go grab sandwich from Randy's (the absolute best sandwich shop in Monterey, possibly anywhere!) before I went to pick up Terry from class so we could hit the road. And I got to see our friends, the goooooses, one more time before I left. A little background on the gooooses. First, yes, they are not geese, they are the goooooses. This is a word best said with a good Minnesota accent. There's one lone white goose at NPS who hangs out around the pond. Last year he had two lady goose friends of the candian variety and they made little goose babies. Adorable. The white goose would strut around with his two lady goose friends and watch over the little baby gooooses and it made us smile every morning. Then the baby goooses grew up and the lady goooses left the white goose all alone. I don't think the white goose can fly because he has a messed up wing. All summer and all winter the white goose was the only goose at NPS. We felt bad for him. He had no goose friends. Then about a month ago the white goose's lady goose friends came back. Supposedly candian geese mate for life. And the white goose strutted around all happy again. I would see the three of them sitting in on particular spot all the time. Today I found out why...brand new fuzzy little yellow baby goooooses. I had to take pictures.


That's the happy goooose family.


And there's one of the mommy gooooses with a baby goooose.


Terry likes to call the white goooose "Playa"...after nearly two years in California Terry still has not learned that "Playa" means "beach", not "ladies man".

Seeing the goooses was a good way to say so long to Monterey and get on the road. So off we went...down the 101 to Paso Robles then across to the 5. That road from Paso Robles to the 5 convinced me that I am definitely not missing out on a darn thing by never experiencing that silly Kern County Stage Race. I got thirsty just driving across that dusty wasteland. A tumbleweed attacked my car. The sucker waited in the almond grove, watching me come down the road and then at the last minute unleashed himself from the fence and flew at my car. There's even pieces of tumbleweed still stuck around my headlight. Vicious! Terry wondered if anyone actually drives out to the middle of no where in Kern Co. to check on the lonely cows out there. He also wanted to try to claim a grape vineyard that appeared abandoned. I told him we couldn't have a vineyard in Kern. And then there was this random place where one million oil derricks have been crammed into a square mile. What's that all about?



Fortunately we made it safely through Kern Co and on to the imfamous Grapevine and through LA and now we are in Indio. We missed all the traffic, stopped for $1 tacos in Pasedena, and breezed all the way here. Tomorrow the goal is to get to Las Cruces, NM, but we'll see what happens. I'll do another updated tomorrow...

Vacation of Sorts

Terry and I are on holiday break or winter break or whatever its supposed to be called these days. A little time away from school is nice. But we have stayed incredibly busy. Terry's parents visited from Cheyenne, Wyoming, so we did the whirl-wind tour of the central Cali coast. Here's the quick summary. First we headed down the coast to the south with the ultimate objective of seeing the waterfall at Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park. But of course when you drive down Highway 1 through Big Sur, one tends to stop at every pretty little view of the Pacific. Eventually we did make it down there.


Then we were trying to get back to Carmel for the sunset, but we didn't make it. Instead we stopped at Garrapata State Beach and froze our butts off while shooting one of the best sunsets Terry and I have seen here.


Terry's parents wanted to see a 'cross race while they were here so on Sunday I dragged them all along to the Peak Season series opener at Harbor High. I hated this course last year and was not surprised to see that it was the exact same course this year. But at least this year I didn't feel like I was going to die after 2 laps. I ended up winning while rocking some santa socks. This picture looks a lot muddier than it really was. We got our race in just before the downpour came for the last two men's races.


Of course since we live on the Monterey Peninsula we had to go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where Terry and his dad proceeded to photographically document nearly every single fish in the place. The next day we went to San Francisco to check out the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. They have an indoor rain forest with butterflies fluttering around that is pretty cool and an aquarium, too. I would highly recommend not going there on a day when kids are out of school was obscenely crowded! After the museum we wandered around GGP and then went over to the Marin side of the Golden Gate Bridge before dinner in Chinatown.


On Christmas Day we headed up to Yosemite National Park for a few days. It was snowing pretty hard when we got up there and had to put the chains on...luckily Terry and his dad are some sort of expert chain installers so they went on in a flash and we were off to Yosemite Valley in no time. It was snowing so hard that there weren't many good views, but we did wander through some snow to check out Lower Yosemite Falls.


On the way back from the Falls some deer wandered on to the trail to check us out. They were so comfortable around people; one even licked my hand. We practically had to shoe them out of our way so we could keep moving along. I actually had to zoom out to take this photo.


The next morning the snow had ended and the skies cleared and we were rewarded with bright blue skies over a beautiful winter wonderland. We wandered around checking out all the good viewpoints in the Valley. And everyone bought new boots at the Sport Shop. I swear we should buy stock in Keen Footwear. Or maybe we already hold stock considering the number of pairs of Keen shoes sitting in our closet!


Our last morning in Yosemite we did "photography walk" with a staff member from the Ansel Adams Gallery. I would definitely recommend doing one of these walks if you have the photo bug. Our guide was great and encouraged everyone to shoot in full manual mode and even let us use his filters. We trudged through some thigh-deep snow (good thing everyone bought those new boots) to get an incredible view of Half Dome over the Merced River. It was great! We were really lucky to make it to Yosemite to witness some amazingly beautiful conditions. We're slowing getting our favorite images uploaded to the Flickr page.

That covers most of the highlights. Except for one. Terry's mom had a knack for unknowingly ordering the biggest dish every time we went out to eat. So I had to throw in this photo from our post-race lunch at Sarita's. She ordered a breakfast burrito. Note how its wider than her. She had part of it for lunch and then we all had leftover breakfast burrito the next morning!


Hello Again

El Capitan over Merced River I know, I know, no bloggy for awhile. We've had visitors and bike races and trips to the aquarium and photo outings and snow-filled trips to Yosemite. But soon we'll get everyone caught up on our ever-so-exciting lives. In the meantime, enjoy the photo above from Yosemite, taken the day after Christmas which also happened to be the day after what the locals called an epic snowfall.

More pics on our Flickr page.