Monday, June 28, 2010

Deserts of Enchantment

We made our first foe the morning we left the Grand Canyon- Sophie was yelled at by a park ranger for washing her hair in the drinking spigot. Did this put a damper on our day? Certainly not. Sophie merely finished washing her hair at our campsite using water bottles and then we were off to Santa Fe.

We arrived just in time for- you guessed it- dinner! See a pattern? Most of our travels, as with most of our lives, revolve around food. Kate's friend, Carol, greeted us and immediately took us to a restaurant called The Pyramid for delicious Mediterranean food. After dinner, we decided to watch Valentine's Day, a movie with just about every famous actor or actress you can imagine. So it seems as if it would be good, right? Wrong. It was actually pretty bad. Some of us enjoyed watching it, despite the surprisingly bad acting and screenplay. Sophie and Katie, it seemed, did not enjoy it at all. They did, however, make friends with Eugene, Carol's pet cockatiel. I must say, it was rather amusing to watch their interactions with the bird.

The next day, we went to lunch at Breakthrough-a mentoring program that Kate had taught at two years prior. We then headed to the plaza to explore the shops and such and had delicious guacamole at La Fonda, the restaurant where Carol works. Experimenting with our cameras, we took a lot of pictures using the black and white setting (hence the black and white photos). We later decided to again watch a movie before bed. This time we chose Invictus, a far better movie than Valentine's Day.

It's just a big hole in the ground...

Okay, so it’s not just a big hole in the ground (the Grand Canyon, that is). It runs, as we have learned, one mile deep, an average of ten miles from rim to rim, and 277 miles in length. So you see, it’s more than just a big regular hole in the ground. It is actually rather spectacular. The drive from Megan’s house to the Canyon wasn’t that bad either. In fact, Sophie and I (Kristen) both rather enjoyed driving through the desert. Stopping at the Hoover Dam on the way, we were able to make it to our destination in time for a late-ish dinner over the fire, even after a late start.

We woke up the next day ready to go explore the Canyon. We had been within ½ mile of its South Rim for over twelve hours before we even got a peek (though in our defense, it was dark by the time we had arrived). After a hearty pancake breakfast, we met Adrienne’s (our softball coach) twin sister, Emily, who is a park ranger at the Canyon. She took us to finally see that big hole in the ground and answered any questions that we had, including those about fending off mountain lions. She then offered suggestions about things to do in and around the Canyon, gave us firewood for the night, and even gave us a “super-secret squirrel code” to watch the sunset at Pima Point- an area usually off-limits for cars. We returned to our campsite to an unexpected, though hilarious sight- our tent had blown over and was lying completely on its side! This was quickly remedied, though, and we ate a large lunch in preparation for the rest of our day.

We spent the rest of our day walking around the rim for a bit and later set off on the Bright Angel trail 1 ½ miles into the Canyon. Our trek down was easy. The climb up, however, not so much. It is surprisingly (or unsurprisingly) difficult to walk up that same distance at a rather steep incline and a noticeable altitude change. In the end, we managed. Nobody fell in. We even made it back to the top in time to see the beautiful sunset over the Canyon- a majestic end to our final night in a national park.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

What happens in Vegas...

Getting to Megan's was was a short trip (for us, 6 hours) and in the desert there are NO rules. We drove quickly (very safely) to her house and got there after dinner, despite our late start from San Diego. We made a delicious meal of buttered noodles. Then, after getting dolled up we hit the town and painted it the proverbial red. Actually, we all went out in jeans and t-shirts and Julia and Sophie played penny slots while the rest of us hung out and took in the sites. We stayed out until the early morning (1:30am) then went straight to bed when we arrived back to the Widmer's.
The next morning, we feasted on Cocoa Puffs, Cheerios, and fruit while our laundry was spinning away. We played some RockBand, ate lunch, then hit the road for the Grand Canyon.\

We stopped at the Hoover Dam on the way out of Vegas...and it was awesome.

Don't Forget about Brit Brit

We arrived in San Diego to a warm night and Tom Dawson grilling up a storm. We were staying with Brit Brit (Brittany Dawson) and her father and her Grandfather in their beautiful San Diego home. Upon arrival we had chips and salsa, steak, chicken and veggie burgers, corn on the cob and delicious cheesy potatoes. Then, we watch episode after episode of the Office and fell happily to sleep.

The next morning we woke up rather late and after we had all showered and dressed, Tom treated us to In-and-Out Burger...and it was awesome. We went back to the house and hung out for a while and headed out to see the San Diego Padres loose to the Baltimore Orioles. When we arrived home, Tom had pizza waiting. We watched the Hangover and fell into another blissful night of sleep.

The next morning we had bagels and hiked to the ocean before leaving SD and heading through the desert to Las Vegas.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

It's a real good baseball town but my team is across the Bay.

After having dinner with Sophie's aunts, we headed to our camp for the next two nights- the Thorman/Boyle house in Palo Alto. Ethan and Mimi were kind enough to let us stay for a few nights even though Tess (their daughter, our friend) was not actually in town.

For our full day there we headed to San Francisco, after a quick lunch at the Peninsula Creamery (recommended by Paul Schacht). Ethan set us up with a tour of the SF Giants' stadium, which was fantastic. The five of us were able to get an insider's view of the stadium- from the various restaurants on each level, to the super expensive club suites (well, we saw the doors, anyway), to the Giants dugout. We felt very much like tourists as we walked around Fisherman's Wharf, taking pictures and buying postcards and ice cream. We attempted to walk to the Golden Gate Bridge, but it was much further than we had anticipated, so we got back in the car and drove to it instead. Walking partway across the bridge and taking pictures was the epitome of our tourist experience.

Finally, we headed back to Palo Alto for a delicious dinner of salad, pasta salad, and homemade flatbread. We finished our night with a movie (Away We Go) to relax for a long day of driving down the coast to San Diego.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Give Me Some Muir...

It turns out we were a little...misguided in our assumption that we'd be camping in Redwood National Forest. The reservation that we made was actually for Mendocino Lake, which housed absolutely no redwoods in the vicinity (that we managed to see). However, the campsite was very cheap and the weather was beautiful. It was the first night of camping that we weren't freezing in our sleeping bags. It was even nice enough for us to go swimming in the lake! Of course, a couple of chicken fights were necessary. Might I add that Sophie and I (Kristen) triumphed over Katie and Julia. Triumphed.

After our swimming adventure, we journeyed to the incredibly peaceful Muir Woods. We went on a beautiful hike through the woods with the massive redwoods. Then, after a reasonably short drive, we headed to Sophie's aunt's house for dinner (in which was one of the most fantastic private baseball collections that we have ever seen...from an autographed Babe Ruth ball to a book of matches from Al Schacht (a former player and author/restaurant owner)). We feasted on delicious sandwiches for dinner and homemade ice cream sandwiches for dessert. We then continued our trek south to San Francisco! More details (and pictures) to come soon...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Carlo and the Rossies

Today we had the shortest drive thus far on the trip. We left Seattle after lunch and arrived in Portland to met our friend Amelia in the Rose Garden Park. We proceeded to make more friends in 3 nice girls we played frisbee with in the park.

Kristen, Sophie, Kate and I (Katie) left Julia with Amelia for a few hours and left Portland for Salem to make dinner for Alex, Kate's half sister who was kind enough to put us up for the night. We made spaghetti, corn on the cob and salad.

Julia was planning on taking a 9:30pm train from Portland to Salem, but surprise, surprise...she missed it. Were we expecting this...YES! But now, Julia is phoneless (she left it in her NC driveway...more surprise) and uncertain of her location in these new cities. She now is planning on catching an early 6:30am bus here....will this work out? No one knows.

Off to Redwood National Forest in the Morning. We will post again in San Francisco.