Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Traveling as a nanny ~ Copenhagen, Denmark

It is very late here. But I wanted to fit in just a few words about Europe before I headed off to bed.

We arrived in Denmark around noon on Sunday after leaving DC at around 3. Our flight was over night, and the kids slept most of the time, which was nice. (I, on the other hand, didn't sleep more then 2 hours of the 8 hour flight because I kept having to put kids back to sleep ;) We switched planes in Amsterdam, which was very quick. The security there was crazy. They did not care about all our liquids at all, but they made us take every single electronic thing out of our bags and they went through the scanner twice.

Once we did finally arrive in Copenhagen, we checked into our hotel, which is beautiful! The best part is that we are on the 16th floor, and we can see almost the entire city from our window!

Interesting things about Europe so far:
The people here have AMAZING style. ~ Just saying.

The language is Dansih, but everyone speaks English when needed. ~ I think this is awesome. I am experiencing a completely different culture, but when I actually need to comunicate, it's really easy.

The old architecture here is beautiful. ~ Beyond Beautiful

I LOVE the weather. ~ We all know by now that the weather will make or break my view of a city. And it totally makes it here! I can wear just the right amount of clothes to be stylish (pants or capris, shirt and cardigan.; maybe scarf.) Without being hot or cold ever.

On that note, the weather here is insane. ~ One minute it's bright and sunny and feels like 85, the next it's cold and windy and feels like 60. The next minute it's pouring and your completely soaked. And this cycle happens about 3 times a day :)

If you want to smell like a local, use the hotel body wash. ~ Let me just say, this city has a certain smell. It's very different from any city in America. It's not bad, just different. I took a shower the other night and opened the hotel body wash, it smells exactly like the entire city. I guess that is their favorite body wash brand or something ;)

Europeans sure know how to eat ~ There is a coffee shop on every corner, and about 5 restaurants a block. The food is all amazing, and healthy at the same time. They have a few fast food places, but even those are trendy, healthy ones. (Think Panera.) My favorite fast food is Joe and the Juice. They literally make your juice right in front of you with a juicer. (They add all sorts of things, and yet the juice tastes amazing!)

Off to bed for me!! I will try to post some pictures tomorrow :)


Friday, July 20, 2012

Day 24, 25, 26 and the end! - Chicago, Holland Michigan, and home!

We have been talking lately about our favorite stops, sites, people and activities. The days we spent in San Diego seem like forever ago, and the truth is, three weeks have passed since that wonderful first stop.

Today is my last blog post! I am home safe and sound, and it is so very good to be here! (For the first time in 45 days, I might add!)
The last few days have been crazy and busy but wonderful. We came back to Union station in Chicago from our hotel at about 12 noon yesterday. We had about 6 hours until we left, and we had planned to go and explore Chicago. We hit a little bump in the road because the only place to store our luggage was lockers, and all of the lockers were full. Sweet Rebekah offered to stay with our stuff, since she is going to college 2 hours away from Chicago for the next 3 years. So off I went, to explore the city! I had read Kelle Hampton’s blog the other day when she was in Chicago, and she pointed out a bunch of places she had wanted to take her daughter. I had mapped them all out before I started on the trip, but since I only had a few hours, I did a condensed version.

First thing I noticed about Chicago was how very, very hot it was. And we all know how much I hate heat! So of course I was not too pleased that I had to walk around for the next 5 hours in that terrible weather. The second thing I noticed was how similar to NYC it was. There were a ton of tall buildings, a huge majority of the people were all in biesness suit and shuffled quickly by. The other percent of the people were tourists who stopped every 5 seconds to take pictures. Now if you have read my blog very much, or been with me to a city, you will know that since I moved to DC 3 years ago, I have become quite the city girl (or city “snob” by Rebekah’s terminology) and I love to fit in with all the city folk. So of course as I was walking around Chicago, I tried to blend in with the buieness people, and apparently it worked because people kept asking me for directions! I had been wanting to try the new Rolo McFlurry from McDonald’s since Rebekah had told me all about it-Note: One of the very, very few times I eat at McDonald’s-and since it was so hot I stopped by one on the way to my first destination. It was wonderful, and definitely my new favorite McFlurry, the only problem was that it completely melted within 3 minutes of being outside. (No really, not joking. That’s how hot it was.) Luckily it was just the think to cool down my core tempiture long enough to let me survive the mile walk to my first stop- Garrett’s Popcorn. I got a small bag of the Chicago mix. Later on Rebekah and I tried it, and to be honest, I didn’t think it was all that good. Rebekah said it tasted like cheese puffs and cracker jacks, and it really did.

My second stop was Millennium park. I took a picture with The Bean, and looked around a little. It is a beautiful park, and the shade was a nice rest. Next stop was to pick up some pizza for Rebekah and I. (Just a little note here. I forgot my water bottle, and got really thirsty. If you stop in any Starbucks, they will give you a free glass of ice water. And another bonus- carrying any Starbucks cup adds to your buniess person look – I got some of the famous Giordano’s pizza, which was amazingly deep dish! On the \way back to Union station, I stopped and offered to by a homeless man lunch. I took him inside a Panera-like place, and told him to order whatever. He just oreerd like $7 worth of food, but that was the BEST $7 I have spent in a really, really long time. The smile on his face made me want to go out and spend every penny I earn on buying people lunch. He was so grateful too. If only I could remember to be that grateful every time someone got me something. He introduced himself as Joe, and I started to say that my name was Rebekah. But before I could finish, he said “Don’t worry, I won’t ever forget your face. Thank you.” Sweetest guy ever.

After Rebekah and I shared our pizza for lunch, we spent some time waiting around, and then it was time to board the train for Holland!

We had a wonderful ride to Holland, even though there was a little hiccup because we almost didn’t get seats :/. Once we arrived in Holland, one of Rebekah’s friends picked us up and took us too the favorite coffee shop by Rebekah’s college campus. A bonus- it was Fair trade! I got an Italian soda, which was just delicious! Rebekah’s campus is beautiful (even at 10pm at night!) and then we went to the 24 hour doughnut place J The people we were staying with live at their parent’s bed and breakfast, and we slept in their living room. They have an empty hot tub in the living room, and Rebekah jokingly told me to sleep in there. I decided to do it anyways, and I slept perfect. (But I sleep perfect anywhere, so I wouldn’t call that much of an accomplishment!) Bright and early in the morning we were off to Chicago again. Once we arrived I put my luggage in the locker, and then bid farwell to Rebekah as she headed to the airport! (She is home now, safely in Texas!) I had about 8 hours until my train took off, so I decided to go have a nice lunch at a highly recommended restaurant called The Gage. It was stunningly good. I ordered the Mushroom sandwich and soup of the day (which was a chilled cucumber-melon.) The soup was the best part, by far. I have to explain something before I tell you about the Sandwich. I hate mushrooms. I mean, I really loathe them. But I have been reading a book on French eating lately, and they were talking about how one of the reasons the French eat so well is because they expose themselves to many different things and aren’t afraid to try new ones. My waiter had highly recommended the sandwich, and so I went with it. It was good. The sauce and bread were beyond amazing. But there is just something about the texture of mushrooms I can’t get over. The French book I am reading said that you have to expose yourself to something 12 times before you really get a taste for it. (and 98% of the time by the 12th try you will like it.) So I guess I have 11 more times to go!

An embarrassing story from today:
I had ordered tea and dessert at the restaurant. It had arrived, and I had taken one bite, but I really needed to use the restroom. I don’t eat at restraints alone very often (read: never.) and so I wasn’t sure what the etiquette was. I walked up to a waitress and asked where the restroom was, trying to communicate that I was leaving my table and please don’t let them take my food. But apparently I didn’t do a good enough job because when I came back, all my stuff was gone. Fortunately, I had a wonderful waiter who got me new ones right away, and I got to enjoy both, which were delicious yet again.

After lunch I went to Whole Foods to pick up a few things, and to Marshell’s to get a new pair of flats! Now I am on the train home, which should arrive in about 14 hours! I am so excited to get home and see my family!

How bittersweet it is to have reached the end of our wonderful trip. Our days have been very full and adventurous, but I enjoyed every one of them! I miss Rebekah desperately. Through all of our fighting and bickering, through every stressful moment and every irritating one, we stayed wonderful friends. And for her I will be eternally grateful. I have not been home in so long it almost seems like a dream that I will be there in 24 hours!

My highlights of the trip:

Favorite City: San Diego. For the weather, the bus system, our CouchSurfing host, and the attractions in general.

Favorite city for the activities: Gold Beach, Oregon. Learning to Surf, zip lining, going to deep crick, walking on the beach, and wandering through my Aunt’s garden.

Favorite city for the people: Seattle. 20 people in one house equals one big party!

Favorite moments:
Riding horses in Tucon
Snorkeling in San Diego
Holding a sleeping baby at the food pantry in San Diego
Fireworks in Disneyland
Sorting egg cartons in the LA food pantry
4th of July in Sacramento
Learning to surf in Oregon
Spending a night baking cookies in Seattle
Bagging diapers in the Seattle food pantry
White water rafting in Montana
Getting asked for directions in Chicago

People kept telling me that this trip was the chance of a lifetime, and boy, was it ever! I am thankful for everyone who made it possible, and of course of my wonderful friend Rebekah, for whom it would not have even been a dream without. And of course for my amazing God who got me through every hard moment and even taught me lessons through some of them!

Well, goodbye for now! I will try to blog about my trip to Europe as a nanny next week!


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Days 20, 21, 22 and 23

Well, it's late (for about the umpteenth time) and I don't feel like spending the time to make 4 separate blog posts. So you get something special! 4 in 1. That's the good thing about this being my blog. I can do what I want. :)

Day 20-To Montana we go!
Our evening on the train was very nice, and we both slept from 10-8. We got off the train shortly after and spend a little while waiting for our host to pick us up. Once she did, we drove back to her house (which was lovely!) but heard the unfortunate news that she had been robbed the night before! She was quite busy with trying to find the thief, and so we offered to just stay in a hotel in town so she wouldn’t have to drive us back and forth. We found a motel and booked it, but we had to wait until 3pm to check in, so we just walked down the country road for a while. Montana is just as beautiful as I expected! I love the rolling mountains, tall green trees, fields filled with flowers, and light breeze that makes for a beautiful scene. We got dropped off at the motel, and pulled our suitcases up quite the hill. The motel is very convenient though, because it is right next to the train station. (literally we can see the station from our room! We unpacked and then went to explore the tiny town of West Glacier that is just about a 5 minutes walk from us. The town is cute, and we booked a white water rafting trip for the morning. Then we went to a little cafĂ© right by our motel and had huckleberry pie with huckleberry ice cream while waiting for our pizza. Now we are back in the motel resting and watching some tv! A wonderful day even though not quite what we expected!

(What I do on the train. Color and look out the window while listening to my travel playlist. Such peaceful times.)

Day 21- Adventures in Montana.
We went white water rafting today! This is something I have always wanted to do, and we weren’t sure if we would get to do it, but we did! As I have said quite a few times before, I love water. I also love anything to do with water, and white water rafting was no exception! It decided to pour this morning. It was lovely to wake up to the piter pater of rain, but it did make our walk to breakfast a little wet today. We went down to the little diner right by our motel and had some huckleberry pancakes, which were just amazing!

Then off we headed through the rain to the rafting place. We thought our trip might be canceled because of the thunder and lightning but it stopped right before we got there. We suited up, which was just basically throwing a wind breaker over our shorts and t-shirt. We then headed out for a bus ride up the river. We started rafting, and basically floated for 45 minutes. Then we hit our first rapid! Though the water was cold, and we did get splashed quite a bit, it was a blast! My favorite raid was called Jaws. When we were in the middle of it, a big wave hit us so hard that I flew up in the air (luckily I landed in the center of the raft) We went through about 10 more rapids before it was all over. There were also a couple times when the water was calm, and we could jump in. No one wanted to do it because it was super cold, but 4 out of the 6 of us did end up jumping it. When I went in a just slid off of the raft onto my back. It was freezing cold, but I’m still glad I did it J The rapids we went on where 2’s and 3’s. Both Rebekah and I agreed that we would love to do some 4 and 5’s next time we go J

After we got back, we were sooping wet, and walked back to our hotel. Luckily our room was ready early, and we both changed snuggled in under the covers while eating leftover pizza for lunch and watching a movie. We both fell asleep, and ended up sleeping until about 6. Then we got up and went on a walk, dropping some postcards in the mailbox and buying some lunches for the train the next few days. Off we went to the little diner by our motel for dinner. I got the black and bleu salad, which was steak and bleu cheese, and it was just wonderful. Then we went back to the motel room and rested for a bit, and then headed down to the diner again for some more huckleberry and razzleberry pie. Both were wonderful, even though I think we both liked the razzleberry pie best. Off to bed we went!

Day 22- Farwell Montana- hello train!
The morning started out with me checking the train and seeing that it was a couple of hours late, so we slept in. We had a relaxing morning packing up, and then headed off the train station. The train ended up being about 3 hours late, but we got to have a nice morning so it was fine J We are now on the train, and have about 36 hours remaining until we reach Chicago. I can’t believe that our trip is almost over, but I have had such a wonderful time!

Day 23- Train and more train.
This is a description of my day:
Eat, write, read, watch movie. Repeat. Repeat again. Find out train is running 4 hours late, and repeat again. 

Not joking. That is exactly what I did all day. But good news! I finished one book and now I am half way through 2 others. And I got a lot of thoughts off my mind onto my computer.

Then we found out that our train was running so late that we missed our connection to Holland, Michigan. So we are now staying overnight in a hotel (compliments of Amtrak, of course) in the outskirts of Chicago. Exciting times!


Friday, July 13, 2012

Day 19- Seattle and Beyond

Today is our last and final day in Seattle! Yet another city that I could see myself living in, another city I have fallen in love with. As Rebekah and I were talking today we realized that the best thing about this city has been the people, mainly the people we stayed with. These hosts have blessed so many people! They are really just amazing, genuine people who like to have a good time. And because of that all of us surfers have a good time too!

As we headed out this morning it was sad to say goodbye, but good to start another adventure. We have affirmed, yet again, that we will never pack this much stuff for another trip. It really doesn’t help that one of the wheels on my suitcase has stopped working, so half the time I am dragging a 60 pound suitcase down the street! The two of us, our host, and another surfer headed to our host’s office to drop our luggage off. Remember those hills we had to walk up yesterday? The ones that were super steep and long? Well we had to take ALL of our stuff up a few. Luckily we had our sweet couchsurfer friend, and he pulled my suitcase while I pushed. We must have been quite the site going up that hill, because there were some business men staring out the window laughing hysterically at us. Thanks guys, thanks.

Once we did eventually make it there, we dropped the luggage off and headed out for our last day in the city! Today had been kind of cloudy, and as we were walking around looking for a coffee shop, it started to rain! (Imagine that, rain in Seattle?) We go in a coffee shop just in time, and sat doing some work on our computers until it was time to head to our movie. We were going to see Ice Age 4! The movie was ok. There were some hilarious parts where I laughed my head off, and then there quite a few just ok/boring parts. But over all it was a cute movie.

Afterwards we were looking around the mall for lunch, but couldn’t find much. All of us wanted pizza, so we found a cute little place a few blocks away. Mods pizza was awesome, and definitely reasonably priced. I got a Dillion James pizza, which had: sausage, basil, mozzarella, tomato and garlic. Delicious! Once we were done with lunch we had to say goodbye to our newfound friend, which was sad. Then off we went to pick up our luggage! We took a taxi from our host’s house to Union station, which even though it was only half a mile, it was a very long way to walk with a broken 60 pound suitcase!

We are now sitting in the train station waiting for our train which has been delayed at least an hour. It is so hard to believe that I will be home in just one week. I have been gone from my house for 34 days now and it seems like forever! So much has happened in that long, and I have enjoyed every moment of it! But truth be told, I am feeling ready to get back to my home, my family and my other friends. This has been the trip of a lifetime, and I can’t wait to enjoy the next week of it!


Day 17- Seattle

This morning was a fairly early morning, as we had to head out to volunteer at our last food shelter! We had tried to volunteer in every city, but some we were staying in were just too little, or the shelter we had arranged did not work out.

We rode the ferry over once again and then had to walk about 7 blocks. 7 blocks didn’t sound very bad, until we realized that those 7 blocks were up hill. And not just any hill, crazy steep like San Francisco hills! After huffing and puffing our way the last two blocks, we finally made it! (Just a side note- if you ever move to Seattle and have to walk to work, you might just be very tone after your first few months living their. No gym or diet needed!)
The people working at this food shelter were super friendly from the start. They welcomed us in and immediately put us to work bagging pastries. This was kind of funny, because it was like the one job we haven’t done yet. In LA we did the sorting of good food from bad food. Here we took the food that had been sorted and bagged it into individual sizes. In San Diego we handed those bags out to the people! This shelter was definitely my favorite place to bag stuff. They had a very neat system set up, with nice plastic bags and holders, and then the awesome thing ever- a bag taper! You would put the stuff in the bag, give it a twirl, and then insert that twirl into the tape machine, and pull it out. There would be a perfect little piece of tape around the bag! That was just a blast to do, and it made our time bagging seem to fly by. After we had bagged pastries we bagged diapers, which was still fun J Then they wanted us to get out to the customer service for the last half. They had us sit behind tables and help the customers coming through the line. We met quite a few lovely volunteers, and it was just an amazing experience! All too soon we had to say goodbye to our new-found friends, and though it was sad to leave, both Rebekah and I were hungry!

We had planned to get Indian today for lunch, and that is just what we did. I found a restaurant using my Iphone, and off we headed. The restaurant was ok. We had their lunch buffet, and though it was good, it definitely wasn’t the best. Kind of average Indian food. We had also planned to get our nails done! I was in desperate need of both a Mani and Pedi, and it felt wonderful to get off our feet for a few hours! Though I ALWAYS go with a French pedicure, I decided to go wild this time and get a bright fun yellow! I love how they turned out even though they are a little bolder then I expected. 

After our little pit stop we went to just walk through Pike Place Market one more time. We stopped at this stand and got the OMG peaches. Let me just tell you, they are amazing. The best peaches you will ever taste in your entire life! We walked through a bit more, but since we had already seen it yesterday we decided to sit on a little park bench overlooking the water and finish our peaces.

We then hopped on the ferry back home, and once arriving, started cooking dinner! I made one of my favorite meals, garlic chicken wraps. It took a little while because all they had for a grill was a stove top that turned into a grill. It was totally awesome, but small. The chicken did cook eventually, and we all chowed down. The chicken was a little dry, and missing some flavor, but everyone loved it! Even the 4 French students came back again and again! (I think one of them had 4 wraps!) I was so glad they were a a hit!

The evening was another wonderfully relaxing evening, with more cookie baking, and this time something very special- Henna tattoo’s! Henna tattoo’s are a temporary tattoo that normally lasts for about 2 weeks. The mom here is amazing at them, and I can’t wait to post a picture of mine. (It will have to wait, as we will be on the train tomorrow and won’t have wi-fi!)

It is late and we have an early day tomorrow, so goodnight!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Day 17- Seattle, here comes the Couchsurfers!

This morning we ended up sleeping in a little later then we had planned, which is just what we needed after staying up until all hours of the night. As the morning progressed we said goodbye to our new friends form Czech Republic and Costa Rica, and 4 of us Couchsurfers decided to head out as a group into Seattle! The hour ferry ride over was just lovely. We all sat together conversing and laughing and talking about our lives, interests, and Couchsurfing in general. I learned so much about many different cultures, and it was only the beginning of the day!
Hello, Seattle!

After we landed in Seattle we headed to Pike Place Market. Now everyone had told me I had to go here, including my sister who was in Seattle just 3 months ago. So off we went, walking and talking and running people over. One of our new Couchsurfer friends was from New York, and is going to school for photography. We hit it off and I enjoyed talking photography stuff with her. As we talked we both mentioned how sometimes we just don’t feel inspired to take photos while on vacation. It is vacation after all. I also said that for me, most of the photos I have the opportunity to shoot are of more touristy things, and that is not really want I want a memory of. And honestly, the few memories of touristy things I do want to preserve, I can capture very easily with my Iphone. So that is just a small explanation to all of you out there who have been wondering why I don’t have many pictures in a lot of these posts. For those of you who followed me while I was in Hawaii in February, I find it much easier (and I am way more inspired) to take photos when I am photographing children. Children were always with me in Hawaii, children are never with me here.

Pike Place Market was just not what I expected. I thought it might be like a huge mall, with overprices tourist traps. Instead, it was a beautiful open air market that was similar to a very large flea-market. There was amazing fresh fruits and vegetables, every kind of noodle you could want (including dark chocolate1) There were also lots of cute little shops. After we had walked through, one of the Couchsurfer’s friends texted her and told her about an amazing place to get Mac and Cheese in Pike Place! We headed there for lunch, and boy was it good! Very rich, but delicious, and filled with cheese they make on-stie!

After that we split up so that there was just 4 of us, and we headed down towards something we wanted to do, but then realized that we wanted ice cream. My sister had recommend a place that was two blocks back, so off we went in the other direction. The ice cream was from Cupcake Royale, and it was just amazing. (Don’t you love my “diet” for the day?) I got the WA salted toffee with fudge swirls. (or something like that.)

Then we headed back in the other direction, and made our way to something we had heard about called the Underground tour. I was a 75 minute tour that I thought was overpriced, but I certainly learned TONS of information. The basic gist of it was just that in the late 1800’s Seattle was having some flooding problems, so they built the roads up so that everything reached the second stories of buildings. Therefore, there remains to this day, sidewalks and doors that are literally under the streets of Seattle. It was neat to see, but definitely not the best tour.

And this, lady and gentleman, is where I have exciting news! If you have been following Rebekah over at lovingforreal.blogspot.com then you will be pleased to hear that the rest of the day is different on each of our blogs! I ended up going back to our host’s house with two surfers, and Rebekah went to see a few more sights with 2 other surfers.

The ferry ride back was again wonderful, and I really enjoyed getting to know the couple from New York. Once we got back to the house we discovered that there were four more surfers for the night, and they were from France! They had cooked a dinner for us, called Tartiflette, which is basically a brie, potato and bacon dish. It was just wonderful, and I enjoyed every bite!

After that the New York surfers and I headed out for some grocery shopping and enjoyed more wonderful time getting to know each other!

Now I sit here, enjoying Trader Joes’s mints, a cup of Tazo Calm tea, and writing this post. It has been an amazing day, and enjoyed every second!

Before, I go, I want to give you a quick blurb on Couchsurfing. If you have not done it, DO IT. If you have not been able to tell how amazing and wonderful Couchsurfing is from my posts, well, you must not be reading them. I understand that it will not fit every personality type, but I really do think that it fits a lot! You get to meet so many new wonderful people, learn about them, their culture, their lives, their traditions, and also teach them about you and your life! It had presented so many wonderful experiences (and no negative ones!) and I will never for get all the wonderful friends I have made through it. If you get the chance, TRY IT. (Go to www.couchsurfing.com ) for more info.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Day 16- Oregon to Seattle (Via Portland!)

Today was quite adventurous. The morning started out bright and EARLY at 4:25am. We head from Eugene to Portland on a quick trip, eating breakfast and watching a movie. In Portland we were able to store our bags at Union Station, and so we had about 4 hours to explore Portland!

One of Rebekah’s friends had recommended Voodoo doughnuts and so we headed straight there. I got a doughnut covered in Oreo’s peanut butter and fudge. It was crazy sweet but amazingly delicious. Since we had so little time and didn’t really know what do, I called my sister and she told us to go and take a picture of every coffee shop we saw. We also were looking for fair trade coffee shops and record stores for her. We ended up seeing all of downtown Portland, walking from Coffee shop to record store, and meeting some cool people in between. Portland is like the Austin of the Northwest, and I love it. Their motto is Keep Portland Weird, and it is filled with hippies and hipsters. Though I don’t exactly fit in either category, a lot of them are awesome people J

Next came the train from Portland to Seattle, with another movie and lunch. And maybe a nap or two as we had gotten up at 4am! When we arrived in Seattle, we had to find our way to the ferry, which was a little more difficult then it sounds. Not only did we have to weave our way around horrible construction, but we had to drag all of our luggage, which if you read our LA adventures you know that amount of luggage is not small. So we are dragging our entire homes down the street, and my wheels work wonderfully, but they will occasionally not work, and then when they decide to have a mind of their own, my suitcase runs into people, things and falls over, with the cooler and bag I have on top of it. Then the bread that is in the bag falls out in the middle of the road and I pick it up and carry it across the road while dragging my suitcase with bags falling off.

I think God was using this experience to teach me some meekness (which is much needed on my part!) I really wasn’t that frustrated about the stupid suitcases; I was more frustrated that the things they were doing were making me look stupid. They were making me look like a fool in front of other people. And I hate that. I always want to look put together and I didn’t. And it was ok. I survived.

We rode the ferry (a beautiful hour long ride!) over and our Couchsurfer hosts picked us up. From the moment we met them they were just awesome! We piled their van high with our luggage and off we headed. From the moment we got in the car we talked and laughed and had a fantastic time. And we learned that they have hosted over 100 people in the last 2 months. WOW.

When we arrived at the house we met lots of amazing people. The hosts have 5 kids, and then there is a total of 12 couch surfers staying with them tonight! From all over; A couple from New York, Utah, Cota Rica, Cetch Rebublic, Mexio and more! It has been a blast meeting and spending time with all of them and I can’t wait to hang out with them more.

Let me just attempt to give you a glimpse of the amazing night we have had here.
To start off with about 6 of us cooked dinner together laughing and joking in the kitchen. Then about 20 people ate dinner together wherever they could sit. Then as some people ran to the grocery store, us girls turned on a movie and baked some amazing cookies together! I have learned so much about so many different cultures and people, tonight, I am in heaven! And it feels like one big family! Best night so far!

Sorry for no pictures. It is super late, and we have to get up super early. So maybe tomorrow?


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Day 15- Oregon

Our day started out with a little bit of sleeping in and packing up. Last night was our last night at Aunt Darcy and Uncle Mike’s. It was sad to be leaving but we still had a full day ahead!

The first thing on our agenda was to see the redwoods! We headed down to the Redwood national forest which was about 45 minutes away. On the way we stopped to see the Smith river, which was just stunning. We stopped to get drinks at a cute little dinner in the middle of no where, and then we stopped to stick our feet in the river. It was a little cold for this time of year, but still beautiful. There is something so relaxing about the sounds of water running over rocks!

When we got to the Redwoods we got out and walked on a trail for a couple of minutes. I have many memories of coming to the Redwoods as a child. I remember walking through and looking up at these trees, not even being able to comprehend why and how they got so big. This time I had a little more comprehension, but they still amazed me.
After we headed back home and on our way stopped for a “quick” hike to see some natural bridges. We could see them a little bit from above. Rebekah and I were just going to very quickly head down the trail and see them closer. Except we encountered a small problem. The trail split. I thought we should take the one that looked like we were walking through  a jungle, but Rebekah said it was a bad idea and it looked like when they guy in Beauty and the Beast chose the path that led to wolfs. But we went down it anyway, climbing over tree trunks and going through thorny bushes. About 10 minutes later we are at the end of the trail after many interesting experiences. We made it back up, through all of that again, still not great view of the bridges. It was quite the adventure!

We left in the afternoon for Eugene, and it was a lovely road trip. I just love Oregon! The drive was beautiful. We had Thai for dinner, which was excellent! We are now in a hotel and well soon sleep and then wake for a very early train tomorrow morning!


Day 14- Oregon

This morning stated out early with me waking to make some breakfast. Time in the kitchen is like meditation for me. I am alone, I will occasionally turn on music, but most of the time it’s me and the sounds of a whisk or a knife. And I love the thrill of making food, especially good tasting healthy food. After a quick breakfast we headed down to the beach (which is only about 5 minutes from Aunt Darcy’s house!) for surfing lessons. Yesterday when we were at deep crick a lady we met had told us about a 4-h camp that we could join. So at 8am we met about 20 other 4-h students on the beach. We suited up in wet suits, as the water was about 50 degrees. One of the volunteers gave us basic lessons on the sand, then handed us boards and out we went.

I was not sure what to expect the first time I caught a wave. I was just lying on the board, waiting. It came all of a sudden, and it felt like a roller coaster. It was amazing. I continued to surf just laying down on my belly for while. Learning a few things like how to paddle, what waves were good, where to lean on the board. Then the instructor said I could try kneeling/standing up. The first time I tried kneeling, it was hard to get up. My wet suit kept sticking to the surf board. The instructor had said the key to standing up is doing it quickly. So at this point I just tried to catch a wave and get up quickly. After a few tries I got to my knees and was able to stay there for an entire wave, which was pretty encouraging. Next I tried standing, which was so much harder. By the end I had stood up twice, but both times I fell off after standing up for just a few seconds. We had a snack break, and after I was so excited to get back I the water, but the waves were bigger because the tide was coming in, and my arms were very tired. I continued to try to stand up, but I had started getting to far forward on the board. I would catch a wave, but after it pushed me about 5 feet, the tip of the board would go under the water (because I was too far forward) and I would flip of, the board would flip over me, and when I would try to stand up the wave would come over me and push me down. The first time this happened, I will admit I was pretty freaked out. I love the water, but when you are trapped under 50 degree water it feels like an eternity of trying to get up. In reality it might have been all of 5 seconds. Then I would stand up, catch my breath, and head back out to catch another wave. This happened three times before I figured out that I was too far forward. After I adjusted that, I was too far back. It took a few more tries but I finally got my position right again, and I caught a couple waves. At this point I was so tired that I just belly surfed (which is still amazingly awesome!) until it was time to be done. I am so very glad we got the chance to surf! I now absolutely love doing it and cannot WAIT to try again sometime!

After the surfing lesson it was already 12:30 and we headed home to prepare for a few friends that we coming over at 4. I made the potatoes for the cook out and helped set things up. I also got to make a few flower arrangements, which was SO fun. My Aunt Darcy is like a crazy gardener, and has so many beautiful flowers in her garden. I loved how the purple one turned out J We enjoyed my Uncle Mikes ribs for dinner, which are the best I have ever had! Just amazing!

Over all our stay in Oregon has held many adventures, and I am so glad we were able to fit so much into our three day stay!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Day 12- Sacramento to Gold Beach, OR

We don't have wi-fi, so I am writing on my phone. Please excuse typo's This morning started out as the sub rose, and peaked through the curtains in our train seat. I slept really well overnight, even though I did not get quite a full nights sleep. We had breakfast on the train, did our indivial things, and then started a movie together. Once again, the train is such a wonderfully relaxing place. I am looking forward to our two really long trips. They should be so enjoyable. After the train arrived in Eugene around two, my Aunt picked us up. She let me drive, which I so enjoyed. I have become my daddy's daughter. I love just driving long road trips and looking around. This 3 1/2 hour drive was just stunning. Trees and mountains on either side, a river flowing through the valley. Aunt Darcy had a new blues CD which made the trip all the more relaxing! We arrived in Gold Beach, which holds many childhood memories for me, as my mom grew up here, so we have made quite a few trips to visit. She has shown me all around her old stopping grounds, and I am so looking forward to Doing the same with Rebekah!! ~Rebekah

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Day 11- Sacramento (and 4th of July!)

Again, I am sorry this is a day late! I have a different excuse this time though... our host home's internet was down, which allowed for a very relaxing evening as I had not computer responsibilities to tend to, but of course I was not able to blog. So here I am, sitting in Panera blogging. But of course I forgot my camer and my iphone cord, so there will be no picture today either. Maybe I will add them to tomorrow's post :)

The morning started out as another relaxing morning, and then Rebekah and I decided to head down to an ice cream shop that I had heard about called Gunther's. We rode the light rail down, and for the first time, saw a not so nice part of Sacramento. Though it still wasn't as bad as parts of LA, it was not the nicest area. We were fine though, and arrived at the ice cream shop after seeing another mile of Sacramento. I got the lemon and the fudge brownie ice cream. The lemon I got according to a recommendation online, and I am so glad I listened to them! It was perfectly smooth and silky. It had a very nice lemon flavor that was distinct, yet not too sour. Rebekah said it tasted like a lemon cookie, and I completely agree! The fudge brownie was not very good. It tasted just like something you would get at the grocery store, and I was very disappointed. Rebekah got the mango which was delicious. Over all we enjoyed it very much, and it was a nice little trip into Sacramento.

After we got back to our host home, we helped set up the party they they were hosting for all the college students we had met the night before. It was a wonderful party! Our hosts have a pool in their back yard so there was eating (of course) swimming, and lots of laughing and chatting. All of the college student's were so welcoming and friendly, and by the end of the night I felt like we had made 20 new friends! I got to play in the pool with 3 little kids for about and hour, one of my favorite parts of the trip so far. When you are around little kids every day (babysitting, nannying, homeschool co-op and church) you don't realize how much you value that time you get to spend with them. But whenever I travel with out children, I start to miss having little kids to pick up and hold and play with so much! Those hours spent in the pool were just what I needed :)

Once I got dark, we got to shoot off fireworks, which was so much fun! (They are leagal in CA!) Although there were some huge and very cool fireworks, plain old sparkalers are my favorite!

It was such a wonderful 4th of July, with many memories and new friends made. The whole night I was marveling at the fact that I was in CA, and it was 4th of July! And also that we had made so many friends in such a short time. I love how being a Christian seems to bind people together. Wonderful to know we can probally make friends where ever we go!

I hope to upload pictures later


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Day 10- Sacramento

This is a day late, I know. But I was kind of super tired last night and fell asleep on my computer. Opps. I was super tired because we had a very full day! It was a wonderful day though. 

We started out in downtown Sacramento, and walked right by a Farmer's Market, so we got some stuff :) We picked up some Cherries, some bread sticks, some home-roasted almonds and a whole-wheat chocolate peanut butter chip cookie! 

We kept walking, and basically walked half the city of Sacramento (the downtown city at least). I love Sacramento! There were so many vintage-looking houses, and I was quite surprised at how very clean the city was. And quiet. As we walked there really weren't many people around (except when we walked by the Capitol, of course!) It was very peaceful and serene, and I loved it! It was also beautiful. There were tons of flowers on every street corner, and everything was so well kept. It's quite the change from SoCal, and I loved it! 

(izze break at Starbucks)

(These are my favorite type of flowers. ~ Hydrangea's )

We then walked to Old Sacramento which people had told us was a must see. And indeed it is! It is lined with cute little shops (about 50% of them being candy stores!) and restaurants. It was a very enjoyable afternoon (filled with lots of candy-too much candy!) One of the candy stores we stopped in let you sample any of their salt water taffy for free! There was about 50 different kinds of salt water taffy- enough said. I got some of the peanut butter and the buttered popcorn. They were amazing!

There was an old school house in OldSac, and it was so fun! I just love things from that time period (Pioneer/Little house on the praire/late 1800's). I kept daydreaming about actually being able to be a school teacher in that type of setting, but at last, I am not sure that will happen :)

After we stopped for lunch at a little restaurant overlooking the water, and then headed back to our amazing host home on the light rail (which again, was very nice and clean. I love you Sacramento!)

This candy apple was delicious. Lots of stuff (like every candy ever made!) but oh so good!

Our host is a youth pastor (and his family) and he invited us to his college group at his church. It was wonderful! The worship was wonderful and the message, very convicting. It was on James 3:1-12, and about our words, which is something I personally struggle with a lot. It was very encouraging though!

Then we headed to Buffalo wild wings for 50cent wings Tuesday! Over all, it was such a wonderful day, and I am so glad to add the memories to our trip!


i heart faces- Enjoying Life

I interrupt my normal blogging for the i heart faces challenge! I have not done i heart faces in so long, but I saw the theme for this week and couldn't help but enter! I had the hardest time deciding on what photo to enter; there were a few that had better composition, or better lighting, but I finally decided on this photo because I felt it really went a long with the theme. 

We went to Dairy Queen, I let him choose what he wanted, and then let him have at it. He finished every last bit of that cone-and smiled the whole time. This is what I feel childhood is about... letting loose and having fun. Enjoying life.

                                                                     Photo Challenge Submission