Saturday, October 6, 2012

Leaves, Lobsters, and Lighthouses

Last September, Mom and I decided to head to the New England states for a long weekend. Mom has a goal of being in all 50 states. We were able to knock out three in one weekend-Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Since I am her trusty (and favorite) travel companion, I accompanied her on her adventures.

When we got to Vermont, we got our rental car and sought out some food.  We ate dinner at The Skinny Pancake.  The crepe we shared was delicious!  We checked into the hotel and planned our escapades for the following day.

The next day, we checked out of the hotel and hit the road.  We drove to the Bragg Sugar House near Montpelier, VT.  We learned how maple syrup was made.  It was a very labor intensive process.  I would never choose that as a career!  We sampled and bought some genuine, totally authentic Vermont maple syrup.  It tasted delicious!

We drove to a covered bridge and took some pictures.  It was a good thing we did a photo shoot at the covered bridge because our path never crossed another on our journey.

We drove through Vermont to New Hampshire.  We ate lunch at Truants Taverne in Woodstock, NH. The food was great!  We drove through White Mountain National Forest.  Even though we were about a week early, there were plenty of colorful leaves through the forest-red, gold, orange.  It was beautiful.  The pictures don't do it justice!

We stopped at a place near the end of the forest and did a mini photo shoot.  We got some great pictures.  The only problem was there wasn't any one there to take our picture together!

After leaving Vermont seven and a half hours earlier and making quite a few scenic stops, we arrived in Portland, ME. We drove to the waterfront and parked the car.  We walked to the Portland Lobster Company and ordered two whole lobsters.  We then tied on our bibs and got cracking!  We used our nutcracker to the max and got all the meat we possibly could out of our lobsters.  The lobster meat was delicious!  I enjoyed working for my dinner! :)

Mom and I started out the day by attending church. After church, we drove to the Portland Head Lighthouse.  It was the oldest and most photographed lighthouse in the United States.  
From the Portland Head Lighthouse, we could see Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse and Ram Island Lighthouse.

Then we drove to Two Lights State Park which was also in Maine.

We drove through New Hampshire to Sharon, Vermont to Joseph Smith's birthplace.  We walked around the sight where Joseph Smith's house once stood where he was born.  It just added to my testimony of Joseph Smith's prophetic mission of restoring the Church of Jesus Christ on the earth.  We also drove to the remains of the other houses on the property belonging to relatives, Solomon Mack and Daniel Mack.  

The next day, Mom and I drove to Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory and took the tour.  The free sample of ice cream was vanilla with strawberries and chocolate chunks.  Mom and I also bought a cup of ice cream.

Since we had a few hours until our flight left, Mom and I decided to go shopping. We had a great time in New England.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

"Camping" in Santa Fe, NM

In July, I went to Santa Fe, NM for a week.  I had a great time meeting new people, hanging out with friends, relaxing, and doing what I love to do.

During my first full day in Santa Fe, I visited some of the sights.  I went to the Plaza which has a lot of shops and a few restaurants.  There is a statue in the center of the plaza but I never walked over to see who it was memorializing.  I walked past the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis but I didn't take the time to go inside.  I am such a bad tourist!  I did spend $4 on an ice cream cone so I guess that shows that I really was a tourist!  Along one side of the Plaza, Native Americans spread out their blankets and sold their handiwork.  The jewelry, carvings, and other crafts were so beautiful!

A group of us went to a local place called Bobcat Bites for dinner.  It was the most interesting restaurant (and I use that term loosely) I had ever visited.  There were twelve of us that went to dinner.  When we arrived at the restaurant, we were told that they did not have seating for 12 people to sit together so we would have to be split up.  We said that was okay.  They told us the kitchen closes at 8 PM, no exceptions.  It was 7:40 PM when we arrived and it took a little while for us to be seated.  Then they told us they could not split the table's bill.  Really?!  Could there be any more stipulations?!  I felt like I was in Nazi Germany with all the restrictions!  I was ready to walk and go to a more hospitable restaurant but the rest of the group was determined to stay.  So I stayed.  I ended up not eating anything at the restaurant but I had a good time with everyone.  Here's a picture of us waiting to be seated at Bobcat Bites.


When we got back to the hotel, some of the group members decided to put on a fire show for the rest of us.  Also, Steve learned how to breathe fire.  Pretty amazing stuff!

It was all fun and games until security told us all to go to our rooms.  "Yes, Dad!"

The next day began what I like to call "Camping in the middle of Nowhere, New Mexico".  Below is a picture of some of my "camp-mates".  I had a lot of fun with these people.  We made unforgettable memories.

While we were "camping", we chose the nocturnal lifestyle.  We stayed up all night until sunrise, and then we slept most of the day.  We did this for three nights and it made for some interesting experiences.  I overcame my hatred of port-a-potties during this experience.  When you gotta go, you gotta go.

Here is a list of things I learned as a result of my nocturnal lifestyle:

1.  People that work the graveyard shift are NOT crazy.  It's the graveyard shift that makes them crazy.
2.  When you sleep during the day and stay up all night, time just becomes a number.  It doesn't mean anything.
3.  You stop craving food.  You eat because you're hungry and you eat whatever you can get your hands on.
4.  It really is coldest the last two hours before sunrise.

Before we realized it and much too soon, our fun was over.  It was time to load on the shuttle, go to the airport, and return to our normal lives.

On the last day, I was awake for 26 hours.  My good judgment seemed to be a little lacking when I didn't get my normal eight hours of sleep.  (See the picture above.)  I had an interesting conversation with my aunt (who picked me up from the airport) before I crashed in bed.  I slept 14 hours solid without waking up once!  Dead to the world!  Boy, did I feel great when I woke up!  Just like that, I was back on the normal cycle of life.

For those of you who know what I was doing while I was "camping", I will post more stories later.  For those who don't know what I was doing while I was "camping", you will just have to wait and see.  Here's a little teaser for all of you.

To be continued July 2013....

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Friends, Flowers, and Castles

To start out the summer, the family decided to do a little weekend trip to Victoria, Canada.  This meant that my parents and I got to go to Seattle, WA for a long weekend trip.  :)  We had a blast!  We experience the wide spectrum of weather the Northwest gets in June.  Our first day was beautiful mid to high 70s (which is Seattle's version of hot).  The next day plunged down to the 60s with off and on rain.  (It seemed mostly on but that was because we spent most of the day outside.)  The third day started out cold and cloudy.  The afternoon turned in to sunshine and still cold.  Then went back to cold and cloudy.  Now that you have the weather report, lets get on with the activities.

Mom and I flew to Seattle, WA.  (Dad flew to Seattle from Sacramento since that was where he was working the previous week.)  Here is a picture of beautiful (snow-capped) Mt. Rainer from the plane.

My brother Chris was kind enough to pick us all up and we spent the evening at his house.  Allis entertained us with her tricks and just being the energetic dog she is.  We saw Allen briefly when he returned home from work.

The next day was a beautiful day in Seattle!  I took a walk around Chris' neighborhood.  Here is the view of downtown Seattle from his house.

I spent a few hours with my friend, Katie, and her sons.  We drove to Alki Beach where we finally found a parking spot.  (It seemed there were a lot of people out enjoying the beautiful weather.)  We walked to Slices, a pizza restaurant across the street from the beach and ate some pizza.  Then we walked across the street to the beach.  Katie and I sat and talked on a blanket on the beach while the boys played and threw rocks with a sling shot.  I had a fun time!  I enjoyed talking and spending time with Katie.  As we were walking back to the car, I told Katie we needed to get a picture for my blog.  Of course, we forgot!  Sorry Katie!

While I was spending time with Katie, my parents, Chris, and Allen went to Snoqualmie Falls.  Here are some pictures from their fun outing.

Mom brought me back some clam chowder from Ivar’s.  It tasted delicious!  I loved every drop of it!  Here's a picture of me and Allis looking out the window down to Chris (who was taking out the trash).

It was Allen’s birthday.  He opened his presents and cards.  

My family ate dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory to celebrate Allen’s birthday.  My friend, Adam, took a break from his intense studying for the Bar exam and joined us for dinner.  (A man has got to eat!)  We enjoyed talking (and mostly laughing).  I was sad we couldn’t spend more time together, but he had to get back to studying.


At Chris’s house, we ate cake and ice cream.  We were all so full when we went to bed!

The next morning, we got up at 5:30 AM.  It was WAY too early to get up on vacation!  Chris and Allen dropped me and my parents off at the Clipper terminal in downtown Seattle while they parked the car.  While we were waiting, we saw a guy jogging with his dog BAREFOOT!  The man AND the dog were barefoot running on the sidewalk!  Gross!  My family rode the Victoria Clipper to Victoria on Vancouver Island in Canada.  The voyage took almost three hours.  I ate breakfast and did a lot of reading.  I was cold during the entire trip because we were sitting by the door people kept going in and out of to get on the deck.  Brr!


After we went through customs, we got on a motor coach that took us on a city tour.  We drove past the Parliament building, The Empress Hotel, Chinatown, and the shopping area.

Once we got on the freeway to The Butchart Gardens, the tour guide/bus driver stopped telling us about Victoria.  This picture illustrates what happened to both me and Dad until we got to The Butchart Gardens.  (WARNING: This is what happens when you get up at 5:30 AM on vacation and the action comes to a rolling bus ride!)

The tour gave us over two hours to explore the gardens.  The gardens were huge!  Our first stop was The Blue Poppy Restaurant for lunch.  Mom, Dad, and I got bowls of seafood chowder.  It tasted delicious!  Chris and Allen ate sandwiches.  Once we refueled, we got serious about the gardens.  Dad wasn’t very interested in seeing the gardens.  He stayed with us about half the time and then went and sat by the entrance.  Mom, Chris, Allen, and I walked through the sunken garden, rose garden, Japanese garden, and Mediterranean garden.  They were beautiful!  There was such a variety of flowers and vegetation! Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of the Rose Garden because it seemed we visited between bloomings.  Two weeks later (or earlier) would have been amazing in the Rose Garden!

The Sunken Garden

The Japanese Garden
The Japanese Garden
The Mediterranean Garden
The Mediterranean Garden
This was as close as we got to the tropics!
The bus dropped us off at our hotel, Chateau Victoria.  Our hotel was a suite with two bedrooms, one and a half bathrooms, living room, and small kitchen.  It was nice and reminded me of the suites we had in Hawaii.  We put our things in the hotel and then went exploring.  Chris and Allen went to Chinatown.  Mom, Dad, and I went to Red Fish, Blue Fish for dinner.  The food was ordered and cooked in a cargo shipping crate.  (The kind seen on large shipping vessels.)  The food was eaten outside.  I was grateful they had a canopy over the eating area because it was raining.  Mom, Dad, and I walked in the rain to the Original Christmas Village shop.  Just as we got there, we ran into Chris and Allen on the street.  Dad was tired of walking around in the rain so he went with Chris and Allen back to the hotel.  Mom and I looked in the Original Christmas Village shop.  There were so many Christmas things-stockings, ornaments, nativities, and junk!  I didn’t know you could cram so much stuff in such a small area!  Mom and I walked around and looked in some other shops as we made our way back to the hotel.  Since it was raining, my family spent the evening in our hotel room watching the movie Cars on TV.  We went to bed relatively early because we were all exhausted!  One good thing about the rain is usually a rainbow afterwards.

The next morning, my family walked to the Soda Shoppe for breakfast.  While we were eating, we decided we had seen and done everything we wanted to do in Victoria so we were going to see when the earlier Clipper left Victoria.  After breakfast, we walked to the Visitor’s Information Center and asked when the next Clipper left.  They told us 11:15 AM.  Of course, it was 11 AM when we asked!  Dang it!  We missed the boat, literally!

We walked through The Empress Hotel.  It wasn’t really that grande inside.  It looked more impressive from the outside.  It didn’t have a nice large lobby where we could just hang out.  We did find a few couches where Dad opened his Father's Day cards.


Dad, Chris, and Allen went to a movie.  Mom and I visited the Craigdarroch Castle.  After we paid our entrance fee, they had us clean the bottom of our shoes with this interesting machine.  I never experienced that before!  The Craigdarroch Castle wasn’t really a castle (meaning no royalty ever lived there.).  It was just a large house built to look like a castle.  It was a beautiful large house with a lot of rooms.  The rooms were filled with furniture from that time period.  I was glad we took the time to see it.

The Stairwell

On the way back to the hotel, the driver of the hotel shuttle took us through Beacon Hill Park.  It was a large park filled with people playing basketball, running, and other activities.

Mom and I walked down to the harbor.  We watched a street performer put on her show.  She was quite interesting!  We met up with Dad, Chris, and Allen at the hotel.  We went to Fisherman’s Wharf.  It had a type of food court where there were a lot of small restaurants near each other.  The restaurants were actually in floating homes in the water.  We ordered and ate our food on picnic tables on the dock.  Mom and I shared seafood chowder and salmon.  Chris and Allen shared poutine.  Dad ate a quesadilla.  Mom and Dad looked around the wharf at the floating homes.

My family walked to the pier where we went through US Customs and waited to take the Clipper back to Seattle.  Chris and Allen talked about and planned their move back to Florida.  After eighteen months, they were tired of the clouds and cool weather of Seattle and wanted to head back to warmth and sunshine.  How funny!  (As a PS to that story, Chris and Allen moved back to Florida in August.)

The ride on the Clipper was a little bit rocky because it was quite windy.  I did a lot of reading.  I was glad I don't get seasick!  Chris and Allen got off the Clipper quickly once we were docked in Seattle.  They got the car while Mom, Dad, and I waited (what seemed like FOREVER) to get through US Customs.  We drove to Chris’s house, ate some cake and ice cream, and went to bed.

The next morning, Chris drove my parents and I to the airport.  I had a fun time in Seattle and Victoria.  It was great to see places I had never seen before and get together with some friends.  My only request would have been for warmer weather.  After all, it was a summer vacation!