Monday, December 29, 2008

A Very Belated Xmas

For Dad's present last Christmas, Kat and I decided that we would take him wine tasting up in Santa Barbara. He loves to drink wine and none of us had been wine tasting up there, so we thought it would be a fun experience for all. It was a great idea, but somehow, most of 2008 came and went and we never got around to going. Time just flew--scheduling conflicts and such occurred and before we knew it, we passed up Christmas this year without following through with Dad's gift from last year! So we finally decided that it was time to go before another Christmas came along. We ended up going yesterday and it was a lot of fun.

Dad wine tasting

Our first stop was in the Santa Rita Hills area, at Lafond Winery and Vineyards. We were the first customers and opened the tasting room--drinking at 10am, can't remember the last time (ever?) I've done that, haha. I'm usually not a huge fan of white wines, but their Chardonnays were good and may turn me into one.

Next stop was up the road at the Sanford Winery tasting room. They had an excellent Pinot Noir. Unfortunately, at $60 a bottle, it is a bit out of my price range. Ah, who am I kidding, I'm po' right now--it's not just a bit, it's completely out of my price range. After the tasting, we grabbed the lunch we packed and enjoyed it in the sunshine on the back patio of the tasting room. Crisp air, beautiful view, quiet and peaceful area, it was a nice place to lunch at.

Before heading home, we made a last stop in the city of Santa Barbara, at the sister winery of Lafond, Santa Barbara Winery. Tasted more good wines that were a little easier on the pocketbook there, then drove back to LA.

A very fun way to spend a day!

SB Co Wine Tasting

Friday, December 19, 2008

All In a Day's Work

Work has been so busy lately that I haven't had a chance to teach in a very long time. Everything I've been doing has been great experience, but I really do miss interacting with guests and students. I finally was able to teach one of our preschool programs this past week, and had so much fun doing it. Kids at that age are adorable and are so much smarter than you realize, and things they say can be very entertaining.

Talking about corals, I ask them what the individual animals are called. "Tulips!" one boy answers. Haha, so close.

Talking about breathing, I ask them what sharks and fish use to breathe water. "Scales!" a little girl answers. Very close also, but not quite.

Tulips, polyps, scales, gills--they're practically the same thing, right?! Oh, kids are so fricken cute.

Monday, December 01, 2008

So they don't jump like Shamu?

California Sea Lions chillin' on a buoy:

The prominant dorsal fin of a Fin Whale:
Fin Whale

A pod of 8-10 Orcas were spotted on Saturday afternoon, so I headed out yesterday hoping we would get to see them also. The chances were slim, but I hadn't been out on the water since June, so it was about time I got on a boat again. It was lovely--the cold wind against my skin, breathing in the salty air, being surrounded by the endless blue. I almost forgot how much I liked being out there.

My hope in seeing Orcas dwindled when we came across the sea lions, lounging on the buoy like they always do-- an indication that the Orcas must be long gone. If the great predators had still been lurking in the waters, then we probably would not have found any sign of life. But there the sea lions were, just chillin', which meant I should put my hopes in seeing other whales.

So instead of the Orcas, we ended up seeing a Fin whale, the second largest whale. Fin whales can sometimes be uninteresting to watch, but this one was amazing. It circled around the boat twice, and was so close to us that we were able to see its white right chin. Although it went for a couple of deep dives, it wasn't skittish and pretty much stayed in the same area. This was the best Fin whale sighting I have ever had. One of the ladies on board didn't seem as impressed as I was and asked, "So they don't jump like Shamu?" Oh, people crack me up.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Transcendentally Twilight

My sis Kat wanted to review Twilight also. Here are her thoughts on the movie...

Transcendentally Twilight: Twilight movie guest review, 11/25/08

I must disclose that I am the blood sister of a woman who's converted forty-one people into the world of Twilight. I am one of the forty-one disciples. That's no small feat. When Jane started blogging about Twilight earlier this year, I thought she was writing about a paranormal tale of aliens coming to take over this earth. Something has taken over this earth indeed, but I'd say the Cullens are much more attractive than aliens.

While reading the saga and taking in all the hype about the movie in post-production, about three things I was positive: First, the trailers were broodingly seductive and awakened the latent gothic adolescent in me. Second, under Catherine Hardwicke's creative force, I knew the movie was going to be magical. And third, Rob Pattinson is easily the sexiest vampire of all time, beating out the favorite vampire of my youth, Kiefer Sutherland.

When I was in art school, the subject of transporting your viewer into the realm of the work often came up. After all, that was the hallmark of greatness. Is the viewer transcended from their everyday world, into the world of fantasy spread before them? Reading Stephenie Meyer's books, I crossed that bridge often. In the movie, my ticket to transcendence occurred during the meadow, the kiss, and the prom scenes. Not surprisingly, those were moments when Edward and Bella's intimacy were captured at their most electric.

Cinematographically, the meadow was beautiful and lush yet dark, mystical, dangerous and foreboding. It conjured up memories of Brothers Grimm fairy tales. When Edward trapped Bella between his arms and began the lines, "and so the lion fell in love with the lamb...," I was totally transported into the ether between them, for all its unselfconscious sincerity and yearning. Fade to the next shot of Edward and Bella lying on the bed of moss, not touching, eyes just locked in a mesmerizing gaze as the camera swirled slowly above them. This is the essence of the deeply archetypal meadow scene: Lovers, lying side by side, in what could otherwise be the Garden of Eden. It was transcendent.

Same goes for the kiss on Bella's bed, and the dance in the gazebo at prom. In slow dialogues oozing with negotiations between unleashing desire and moral control, I sat transfixed between those negotiations as the viewer. Stephenie unraveled this dilemma in great detail in the books, and that was what we enjoyed so much as readers. To see it acted so well on the screen is a feat to be commended.

Rob Pattinson was, simply put, Edward. Having seen so many interviews of him, it's easy to see why he fit the role so well: He saw through the illusion that was supposed to be Edward, The Ideal Man, and played him as a somewhat broken, and at times hauntingly human, vampire.

Kristen Stewart gave Bella intelligence, depth, and a quiet strength. Only seventeen when they shot Twilight, she possessed a maturity beyond her years, a quality central to Bella's character. Like Rob, she played her character's vulnerability and strength in equal measure, most notably in the ballet studio and hospital scenes.

Often accompanying my passage through the saga were the playlists on Stephenie's website. Music was such an important component in beaming myself to Forks, that I had regarded Twilight somewhat as a rock opera. It was to my delight that each song on the soundtrack matched the scenes perfectly in the movie. Perry Farrell's "Going All the Way," which I hated before seeing it in context, was perfect for disco dancing at the prom. "Supermassive Black Hole," one of Muse's loudest headbanging songs, knocked the ball game out of the park. Iron and Wine's "Flightless Bird, American Mouth," brought me to tears. Carter Burwell's "Bella's Lullaby" was the sweet, gentle and haunting caress it was supposed to be. And the guitar riffs of Collective Soul's "Trembling for My Love" that followed the car crash sent my adrenaline running. That's when you knew that, like the movie's tagline states, "nothing will ever be the same."

There's an addictive quality to Twilight that all fans of the series can attest to: If you've ever smoked crack, this is the literary equivalent. Stephenie's magical world has found presence beyond the page now. With the movie, indelible images of Edward, Bella, Jacob, the Cullens, and Forks are forever embedded into our minds. I've gone back for my fix twice now. I predict I'll be going back to theatres at least twice more before the year is over.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Twilight Movie: My Review

First off, I just want to say this:

We all know that a film adaptation of a novel will never quite be the same as the novel itself. The mere fact that two different mediums are being used to tell a story means that it is impossible to tell the story in the same exact way. The book and the movie are pieces of art, two expressions of one story. They are their own entities, and should be treated as such. My point is that a book is a book and a movie is a movie, they are not the same thing, so you cannot expect a movie to be the book. It’s an obvious point, I know, but I think it’s a concept that people tend to forget when they compare a novel to its film version. This isn’t to say that it is forgivable to butcher the essence of a story when you are adapting it for the screen. But I believe that a film, when being faithful to its origins, can be just as wonderful as the novel without having to be exactly like the novel. They can both be appreciated in their own way.

So, onto what I thought of Twilight:

Yes, some scenes and special effects may have been a bit cheesy, but think about the budget they were working with. None of them expected the fandom to explode the way it has, so they didn’t set out to make a huge blockbuster with over-the-top computer generated effects. And yes, the score could have been improved upon in some scenes (the soundtrack, however, was phenomenal.) And yes, the movie was not exactly like the book. But you already know what I think about that. So anyway, how did I like the movie, you ask?


Granted, it took me the first viewing, a night to digest everything, and a second viewing to get to that point, but I truly do love it. I think any Twilight fan that is a little unsure of how they felt about the movie should watch it just ONE MORE time. I think it deserves one more chance from fans, before they make a formal opinion, because the first viewing is a very skewed and overwhelming experience. For me, there are two reasons why I needed to watch it a second time:

#1: Like I said, the first viewing is very overwhelming. I was trying to take everything in all at once--trying to compare, analyze, and process every little detail. Because of this, I lost a bit of the big picture and didn’t allow the movie to express itself.

#2: The main thing that I needed to get use to was the change in pace of the storytelling. Stephenie Meyer develops her characters at a quaint snail’s pace, and I became quite attached to how slowly her novels unfolded. Of course, you can’t do this in a movie, because it would just become very long and boring. They had to pick things up a notch, and it was difficult for me to adjust to the new pace.

I took the time between the two movie viewings to gather my thoughts and let go of my attachments to the book. The second time around, I walked in with a fresh and open mind. I no longer needed to take in every little detail, and was able to sit back and let the movie tell me its story, its own version of Twilight. And the story was beautiful.

Cast & characters:

Although Kristen Stewart’s Bella was not exactly how I imagined the character in my head, I still loved her version. She brought a different edge to Bella, and I thought she balanced her characteristics well—introverted, awkward at times, independent and strong-willed. I think she did her best acting in the scene when she had to hurt Charlie in order to leave, it was just heart wrenching.

Rob Pattinson was wonderful as Edward. There were a few moments that seemed like he was trying a little too hard with the tortured-and-conflicted look, but everything else was great. That smirk he gives when Jessica is gossiping about him in the cafeteria scene? It was Edward PERFECTION.

The Cullens were awesome. We didn’t get enough of them and I definitely wanted more of the Cullens. Ashley Greene was Alice. You couldn’t get any cuter and daintier than that. Her voice and demeanor were exactly how I imagined the character, and that dancer kick she does while pitching is so Alice, I loved it and I loved her. We didn’t get to see much of Jackson Rathbone’s Jasper, but what we did get was good—that quiet and hovering presence. Nikki Reed played Rosalie well—you could feel her irritation and disapproval pulsing towards Bella, and Kellan Lutz’ portrayal of the funny big brother Emmett was great. Elizabeth Reaser was adorable as Esme and did a wonderful job at embodying the loving mother-figure of the clan, while Peter Facinelli also did a wonderful job at embodying the compassionate father-figure of the family.

The Humans were awesome. Stephenie was right when she said that the human friends don’t get enough love, because they totally deserve it. Most notable were Jessica, Mike, and Eric--they added a great deal of humor and an authenticity to the teenage world.

The villains were great. You could totally see the menace in Victoria. And Cam Gigandet as James? Can we say creeeeeepy?

Billy Burke as Charlie was one of the best roles in the movie--his version of the character gave shape to the quiet love that Charlie has for his daughter.

Although I could have done without the hair, Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black was enjoyable. He definitely has the cute Jacob smile, and it will be interesting to see how he does as the werewolf-Jacob in the rest of the series (now that there will definitely be a New Moon movie!)

My favorite scenes:

The Cullens cooking for Bella. This was BRILLIANT and hilarious and complete awesomeness. It is a total tangent from the book, yet is one of my favorite parts of the movie. Just one example of how a movie can tell a story in a different way. In this short scene, you see the spirit of each of the Cullens—Rosalie’s distaste towards Bella, Emmett’s sense of humor, Esme’s motherly love, Carlisle’s kindness. All this, wrapped up in a cute and funny little scene. I LOVED it.

The baseball game. This is one scene that I think many were looking forward to seeing. The whole vibe was awesome—from the music (perfect song!) to the stunts to the bits of dialogue. The one flaw I found? It was too short! It was so cool that I just wanted more and more of it. I was pretty disappointed when the villains abruptly halted my enjoyment of the game.

Seeing the Cullens for the first time. Chapter 1 of Twilight is entitled “First Sight”, referring to the first time Bella sees the Cullens at school. This scene captured the awe that Bella felt in the book perfectly. As a viewer, you can’t help but feel that same awe when the Cullens first walk by the cafeteria window.

THE KISS. Enough said.

Dancing in the gazebo at prom. For me, this is THE scene that was able to completely capture the essence of the Twilight novel and of Bella and Edward’s love. Everything in the movie led to this one moment when I sighed and felt that yes, this is Twilight.

Other things I really liked:

-Charlie and Bella’s relationship. I’m glad they took the time to develop this a little, I think it added a nice dimension to the story. In the books, we know that Bella and Charlie love each other, but it was more of a silent and awkward love. It was nice to see the relationship play out on screen and was very endearing. The mace storyline? Loved it!

-The scenery. It’s gorgeous in the Pacific Northwest and it was great seeing how much they incorporated the beautiful scenery into the movie. The panoramic view over the treetops of the Columbia River Gorge is breathtaking!

-The film had a gritty edgy feel to it. We didn’t have something that was shiny and polished and stale. I think the close up shots helped with this. I loved those shots, ones that were almost a little too close and a little uncomfortable. It made you feel like you were there. I don’t know, it just gave the movie its own flair, and I really liked it.

-The humor. This wasn’t all seriousness and life-or-death love. The movie was actually funny a lot of the time!

-From the trailers, I thought the ballet studio fight scene would turn out a little cheesy looking. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t and actually really enjoyed it. The choreographed stunts and fighting looked pretty cool, and I was left wanting more.

-All the little details that were included in the movie. It really felt like a nod to to the fans and to Stephenie's work--they cared enough to pay attention to those details and made the effort to put them in the film.

A short list of things I wish was different about the movie:
-Slow down the pace of Bella & Edward’s budding love.
-More of the Cullens.
-More of the baseball game.
-A meadow scene that was more like the book, including an improvement in the sparkling effect.

So yes, in an ideal world, there are things that I wish could have been done differently. But that list was short compared to all the things that I thought were wonderful about the movie. And now, I am very much looking forward to seeing New Moon.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Twilight Movie Group Photo

Kevin & Bean have been making fun of Twilight fans by calling them Twi-tards (a spin on the fan nickname "Twi-hards") and I think it's hilarious. Here's our group after seeing the movie last night--we may put the "tard" in "Twi-tard", but at least we have fun doing it!

(My review of the movie will come shortly--I need a little time to digest and gather my thoughts.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Are We There Yet?

Is it Friday yet? I'm ready to visit Forks on the big screen! 3 days, folks--oh we are soooo close!

I kind of regret not joining in on the madness that was the premiere last night. I should have, being the huge fan that I am. I'm a huge fan, but not a screaming fangirl. So, on the other hand, I'm sure my head and ears thank me for not going.

Speaking of, I love this quote regarding Stephenie at the premiere:

"Stephenie Meyer, the author of the Twilight series of books, is drawing screams as she signs autographs and takes pictures as she walks into the theater. Yup, Twilight must be big if teens are screaming at the top of their lungs for a writer." -Marc Malkin, E! Online

Haha, it's true, writers usually don't get love like this. But she is awesome and the books are awesome, and we are witnessing a huge phenomena going on.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Smoke & Ash

It's scary and sad that all these fires are raging around LA. For those of us that don't live near any of the fires, we are definitely still feeling the effects of them because the wind has been blowing the smoke and ash around. The sky and air quality was worse yesterday--the smoke cloud hovered above us and the smell was almost unbearable at times. It's not as bad today, but still not that great either.

Here's a shot of the smoke cloud overtaking the blue sky today:
SoCal Fires-Smoke Cloud

And the layer of ash that has been settling on everything:
SoCal Fires-Ash

Monday, November 10, 2008

Movie Countdown

Twilight Movie Countdown

11 days left!!! Here's a picture (taken a while back, it is a lot shorter now!) of the chain countdown that my coworkers and I made for our office. We are all going to see the movie on opening night at the ArcLight in Hollywood. There's a group of 31 gals going (I know, I can't believe I've gotten that many Twilight fans together!), and it will be so much fun. We are so close, and I am so unbelievably excited. Yay!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Forks High Schools

Forks High School-Forks, WA
Forks High School

Filming location for Forks High was at Kalama High School in Kalama, WA. It was a beautiful location.
Kalama High School

Friday, October 31, 2008

Hello, Rain!

The weather around here is finally starting to reflect what the fall season should be. I'm sure it will be short-lived, just like the overcast days we had a while back, but I'll take it while it's here. You should have seen us silly Southern Californians yesterday when it started to pour outside. We were all so surprised because it seemed like the rain came out of nowhere--about half of the office stopped working and gathered around the open door with our jaws open. It was quite funny, like we had never seen rain before. Well, we haven't seen wet weather in a long long time, so it's almost the same thing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Oh My

There are quite a few Twilight trailers and tv spots out there right now, but here is my favorite. Not sure how I'm going to watch the whole two hour movie if I'm bursting with excitement just from this 30 second spot. Bursting with excitement and hyperventilating a little bit. My oh my. Sigh, oh Edward.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mmm, Dumplings

International Dumpling Night

Emily came up with a great idea recently: let's make and eat dumplings! Everyone loves dumplings, so how could you go wrong with an idea like that? So, at the end of last week, Ann & I hosted an International Dumpling Night at our place. Everyone was encouraged to bring different types of dumplings, and it was fun, yummy, and quite a success. Our dumpling buffet table included the following (most of which were impressively home made!):

-Apple dumplings with organic farmers market apples with ice cream, from Carley and Aaron
-Exploding plum dumplings, white people style (this was Alicia's description for her dish)
-Pumpkin dumplings, made my moi
-"Apple" dumplings. And when we say "apple", we mean asian. Filling made by Emily & dumplings hand folded by some of the ladies.
-Black bean and banana empanadas, from Shannon
-Tibetan momos, from Sarah
-Samosas, from Sabreena
-Blackberry dessert dumplings, from Catherine
-Steamed chicken and fried chicken dumplings, from Anitza and Juan
-Potato and cheese pierogis, from Ann
-White folk chicken & dumplings, from Jen
-Blintzes, from Alie

We ate, drank, ate some more and played a bit of guitar hero--the evening was great. Who knew dumplings could come in so many different forms?!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

First Beaches

In honor of counting down to the Twilight movie release (25 days left!), I'm going to post some pictures from my Road Trip to the Pacific Northwest this past summer. First off are the First Beaches, a comparison between the real deal and the movie version.

On the western coast of the Olympic Peninsula, here is the real First Beach of La Push, Washington:
First Beach

Found along Oregon's coastline, Indian Beach in Ecola State Park was the location they used as First Beach for the movie:
Indian Beach

The two beaches do have their differences, but you can also clearly see how similar they are. I think the location scouts did a wonderful job in picking this beautiful site. The beach just had the right aura to it, and you really could imagine Jacob and Bella there. Interestingly enough, compared to the actual First Beach, the one used for the movie was more like what I imagined in my head while reading. After visiting this filming site, along with some others, I am so excited about the location decisions of the filmmakers--as you already know from watching the trailers, it will be a visual feast! Haha, and I'm not talking about Rob here (although that definitely is a visual feast)--I'm talking about the sets & scenery!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

(Twilight) Quote-o-the-day

Hoh Rainforest

"It was beautiful, of course; I couldn't deny that. Everything was green: the trees, their trunks covered with moss, their branches hanging with a canopy of it, the ground covered with ferns. Even the air filtered down greenly through the leaves." -Twilight, Stephenie Meyer

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

All In a Day's Work

Overheard in front of an exhibit, a mother speaking to her son:
"No honey, that's not a fish, that's an eel."

...Hmmmm. If eels aren't fish, then what the heck are they?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

And the Countdown Begins!

We are officially one month away from the release of the Twilight Movie!! To celebrate this day, one of my coworkers and I made a paper chain countdown for our office, so we can visually see how close we're getting. You might be wondering how appropriate it is to be placing a Twilight Movie paper chain in the workplace. In most cases, I'm sure it wouldn't be a good idea. But I've turned about 25 people--over half of our department--into fans, so it is very exciting for us all. We're all looking forward to seeing the chain get shorter and shorter! Twilight is taking over the world--well, taking over my office at least, muhahahaha. (I know, you're jealous that I work in such a fun environment. I really do work with great people, and admire the males for their ability to put up with all the estrogen and Edward-talk.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

free time, what's that?

Wow, time is flying by, I can't believe we're in the second half of October already! I've worked two 6-day weeks in a row now. Although fall is our slow visitation season, I've still had a hefty workload of projects and programs going on, so it's been busy busy. Squeezed in between all that, I've managed to stay pretty occupied outside of work also...Had our book club meeting for The Lace Reader (an interesting and quick read, although we had some issues and questions about the story line and change of voices)...taking a photography class on Tuesday nights (trying to learn how to use the Nikon D200 my dad let me borrow)... went out for Shelby's birthday (where I bowled over 100 twice! woohoo, that's quite an accomplishment, I'm always excited when I can hit 100!)... had brunch with mom and sister for mom's 60th birthday (where we saw Tipper Gore & Al Gore III, by the way)... went to SeaFare, a fundraiser event at the Aquarium (lots of fun, especially with the open bar and food samples from over 20 restaurants)... and took a rock climbing class at a the local rock gym (I've been meaning to do this for over two years now, and finally went! It was challenging, but also very fun.) Oh, there are so many things to do and not enough time (or money) to do it all!

Thursday, October 16, 2008


"Time plays like an accordion in the way it can stretch out and compress itself in a thousand melodic ways. Months on end may pass blindingly in a quick series of chords, open-shut, together-apart; and then a single melancholy week may seem like a year's pining, one long unfolding note." -Three Junes, Julia Glass

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Art of Multi-Tasking

I've taken on a new position at work recently, so with it, everything has become incredibly busy and stressful. The position came quite unexpectedly, so a whole workload has been put into my hands, and I'm quickly learning how to balance a dozen tasks and projects at once. It is challenging work, but I'm grateful for the chance to gain so much experience and to be able to show my talents and prove what I can do. At times, it can be difficult to step outside of our comfort zone, but those are the moments that we learn and grow the most. Although I'm stressed (I keep dreaming about work and all the things I need to do), I have to remind myself that it's all a part of the experience.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

All In a Day's Work

Question asked today: "Are there any algae-eating plants?"

Okay, I know there are carnivorous plants out there. But herbivorous plants?!?? Seriously?? Algae-eating plants??

Friday, October 10, 2008


Mast & Sail
"Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover."
-Mark Twain

Thursday, October 09, 2008

bring on the vampire weather

it's cloudy and cool out--oh what a relief, enough with the 90-degree heat we've been having! i'm loving the gloom, and hope it will stay this way for a while.

the new totally awesome twilight trailer

-car crash scene--so beautifully shot!
-the quote "what if i'm not the hero, what if i'm the bad guy" it's the quote on MY bookmark (em and i designed home-made twilight bookmarks for everyone as a party favor for the breaking dawn party, and that's the bookmark i chose for myself)
-edward kicking the apple into his hands
-the kiss--so steamy!
-gazebo scene (prom at the gorgeous view point inn)
-the amazing pacific northwest scenery. sigh, i want to be back there again.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


These are just two of a whole set of new and totally awesome photos released on the Germany Twilight Movie Site (under "Bilder" and "Making Of").

*SHRIEK!* Look at how cute they are together! It's heart stopping and adorable. *SIGH* You can see the chemistry flowing in these photos--just imagine what it will be like seeing that chemistry on the big screen! Oooooo, I'm bursting with excitement for this movie!!!

Friday, October 03, 2008

It's Coming, Mark Your Calendars!

A brand new Twilight trailer is coming out Thursday, October 9th. Sweet! You can read the announcement at Stephenie's Website.

Going camping for the weekend, so I will see you all next week!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

No, Really

When I said I was ready to say goodbye to the sun and heat, I really meant it. But I guess the world wasn't listening, because it was 97 degrees in Long Beach today! Boy have we been having some weird weather lately. The five-day outlook says that there will be "few showers" on Saturday. We'll see if that actually happens...

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Let the rain kiss you.
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you a lullaby.
-Langston Hughes

I never thought I would ever say this, but I'm ready for fall. I'm ready to say goodbye to summer and the sun, to not feel the heat for a while. I'm ready to welcome cool and cloudy days, to feel some raindrops on my face. I have always been a summer girl, but I think I may be changing...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Getting Knitty With It

Current Knitting Project

My friends and I had a fun knitting party the other night. I realize that with our book clubs, crockpot dinner parties, and now knitting get-togethers, it must seem like we are over preparing ourselves for our future retirement days. But who says you can't enjoy doing these activities when you're young? We certainly have a great time doing them, and we are far from old! Knitting, wine & good company, how can you go wrong with that combination? The event was at my place, and there was a pretty large group of 17 ladies over. Many were new to knitting, so they learned how to get started from those of us who already know how, and we eventually had a little knitting factory going on. It was a lot of fun, and I think we may have to do it again sometime. When I'm done with the scarf pictured above, my next project will be an attempt at fingerless gloves. I have a feeling I may need some help with that project, so we'll see how it goes...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ice Ice Baby, Twilight Style

Ice Ice Baby by Vampilla Ice: HILARIOUS! Play the video, lyrics are right below so you can follow along.

(spoiler warning: the whole series is referenced, so beware if you haven't finished reading all four books!)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Coastal Cleanup, Crockpot & Country

Aside from having to do some extra work on Saturday morning, I had a much needed relaxing & low-key weekend! Ahh, it was so nice...

After a couple of hours at work, I still had enough time to head over to my local beach and participate in the annual Coastal Cleanup Day. It surprised me how many people were out there picking up trash together--it was great to see that the event was able to draw in a significant amount of community participation. People of all ages were there, but I especially loved seeing parents with their young children, exposing them to these activities. I overheard a mom and dad talking to their two daughters, "Tell me, what did you learn today? Why are we out here doing this, and how did this trash get here?" They were not only teaching their kids the importance of being out there and picking up the trash, but were encouraging them to think beyond it. Why is the trash here? What can we do to change that and make sure it doesn't end up here in the first place? It's nice to know that there are many parents who try to instill these values in their children, the importance of stewardship and actively participating in caring for the earth.

I spent most of my Sunday reading (started The Lace Reader and really enjoying it so far) and knitting (taught myself a new lace pattern), then had friends over for some dinner and some country line dancin' (well, learnin' some country line dancin'). Dinner included pulled pork sandwiches that I made in the crockpot, plus a bunch of yummy sides that the friends brought over, and strawberry shortcake for dessert. Mmmm, it was all delicious. I had been wanting to try the pulled pork sandwiches for a while, and finally used the recipe I got from The Gourmet Slow Cooker: Volume II (when I visited Robin's Woods last month, Jennifer had checked this out from the library for me to take a look at.) It was a great recipe--after nine hours of slow-cooking, the meat just fell apart and was tender and wonderful, and the sauce was very good too, not too tangy not too sweet. Line dancing in the living room was fun, although I think we need a little more practice before we take our moves to the dance floor, haha.

The weekend went by too quickly (doesn't it always?) and now it's another (busy busy!) week at work...

Thursday, September 18, 2008


"Books were making her restless. She was beginning to read, faster, more, until she was inside the narrative and the narrative inside her, the pages going by so fast, her heart in her chest--she couldn't stop." -The Inheritance of Loss, Kiran Desai

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Waiting for the Twilight Movie

Although it's unfortunate that we have to wait so long to see Harry Potter, how awesome is it that Twilight slid up into its time slot? I'm elated by this! I can now enjoy the movie three weeks earlier than originally planned! But even with the move to November, it is still more than two months away. I don't know how I'm going to bear all the anticipation--it's torture, especially with teases like this great interview with the Twilight screenwriter, Melissa Rosenberg. Lots of interesting insight on her work on the script and the adaptation process a novel goes through, and it's making me even more excited for the movie. Of course, the movie will be different from the book--it has to be, because it's changing from a story being told in writing to a story being told on screen. I'm actually looking forward to seeing these changes though--seeing everything come to life, the actors' performances, how the story unfolds--just seeing Twilight in a different way. I have a feeling I'm going to love the movie just as much as the book. I'm not one to wish for time to move faster (it's already flying by way too quickly), but seriously, is it November yet??? I'm not very good at being patient. Oh, I can't wait! Oh, the torture!

On another movie note, there are only two teaser trailers out right now. With the release date coming up, I'm assuming that a full theatrical trailer should be coming soon. Hopefully it will be very soon.

Also, taking over the world is coming along...

Twilight Conversion Count: 41

not THAT kind of nudi beach

So, the stats on my blog has shown some very amusing results. The most popular way people find themselves here? By searching for "nudi beach." To their disappointment, I'm sure, they didn't get what they were looking for. All they would have found was this post about one of my tidepooling outings and all the nudibranchs I saw, haha. Sorry folks, but I don't frequent the other kind of nudi beach. Just the ones with pretty molluscs on them.

Monday, September 15, 2008

wish i was here again...

Sol Duc Falls-Olympic National Park, Washington

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Message from Beyond

I have years of emails still stuck in my inbox, and for some reason, decided to go through some of them today. Amongst all the junk, I found a precious little email that my grandpa wrote me, in his broken english, EXACTLY four years ago TO THE DAY--on September 13, 2004. Reading it brought me to tears--I'm finding that this is more than just a coincidence, and I'm taking the very special message as his last little goodbye to me.

Here is the email...

Dear Jane,
Hi! How are you ? What are you doing right now? Still worrying about your future?
Have you fun? Getting already a new job, a new tail ?
You know, your grandpa is proud of you et loves you too much for your good feelings and behavior. You really deserve happiness and success in life. And all of that will come on its time You're not to worry too much in advance. Live only for today,enjoy the present minute every day you have to live and you'll be happy.
I'am trying now to get in touch with you by E-mail to see if the connection's available
In the mean time, as you really need a good wish,
"I wish you health, I wish you well, and happiness galore
"I wish you luck, For you and friends,
"What could I wish you more. "

So long - Au revoir - To see you or write to you very soon-
Good kisses and Love,

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wish it was Twilight

I recently read a great and interesting blog entry from author Shannon Hale on How to be a Reader. Some people may have a different opinion, but I totally agree with her take on the reader's "reading experience." Take a look at it, and let me know what you think.

I'm currently reading The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai. Having a blah moment with it right now, but still trying (struggling!) to finish so I can move onto other things. Oh, how I wish it was Twilight. Or better yet, *sob* Midnight Sun. The writing and story just isn't doing much for me. And of course, it's not because it is a bad book (I'm sure it's far from being a bad book, since it won the 2006 Man Booker Prize.) The person I am right now just can't quite enjoy and appreciate the book. Who knows, maybe that will change one day. There have been plenty of occasions, for whatever reason, where I have a hard time getting into a book. But later on, when I give it another try, I end up loving the book.

Comments spoiler warning: there may be Breaking Dawn spoilers in the comments of this post, so don't read them if you don't want to be spoiled!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

in case you were wondering...

....about my plan to help twilight take over the world, oops, i mean my plan to create twilight fans one friend at a time.

twilight conversion count: 39


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

50% of the 8 Things About Me

I've been a slacker blogger lately, so since Mag tagged me, I will do half of the 4 steps. (In my defense, I'm not tagging anyone because I don't know enough people to do it.)

1. Post these rules.
2. Each tagged person must post 8 things about themselves on their journal.
3. At the end, you have to choose and tag 8 people.
4. No tag-backs.


So, here goes: 8 things that you may or may not know about me...
1. I enjoy snorkeling more than scuba diving.
2. I don't mind going to the movies by myself.
3. Some of my co-workers call me "organized and well-prepared." Others call me "anal."
4. I have a book-buying problem.
5. I love ice cream. If I could eat it every day, I would.
6. I always walk out of Target with more than I had intended to buy.
7. I taught myself how to knit
8. I am COMPLETELY obsessed with the Twilight Series.

Friday, September 05, 2008


"He who returns from a journey is not the same as he who left."
-Chinese Proverb

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 19

Sutter Creek, CA to Long Beach, CA
Miles driven today=402
Total miles driven= 3317

A drive on the Five through central California is pretty uneventful. It was such a shock to the system, after being surrounded by beautiful majestic trees, to be driving through this dramatically different scenery. I had gotten so used to seeing green everywhere, to having the shade of the trees and having the company of ferns and mosses, that it felt like a great personal loss not having them around anymore. The sun's pounding heat and the yellow landscape, flat and empty, made me ache for the lush fairy-land again. Oh, going home is so hard sometimes. I wish I could have continued this journey just a bit longer!

Today's drive was significantly shorter than yesterday's, which was nice. We finished listening to the book on CD that I had borrowed from the library, The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen. I sometimes have a hard time listening to books, I would so much rather read them myself, but this one was good for our drive. We made it back in the early afternoon, about a 6 1/2 hour drive, and went home and relaxed before having to go to work tomorrow.

And that, folks, is the end of my Road Trip to the Pacific Northwest. Thanks for reading and keeping up with the journey, and stay tuned for the rest of the pictures to be posted.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 18

Clackamas, OR to Sutter Creek, CA
Miles driven today= 618
Total miles driven =2915

The trek home after traveling always has such a different feel to it. The excitement of upcoming adventures and new experiences slowly fades away and responsibilities of real life looms ahead. You start saying goodbye to this journey you've been on, saying goodbye to the traveler's life, and you get yourself ready to lead the normal life again. The worst thing about the trek back is exactly that--enduring that long ride home. Wouldn't it be nice, at the end of a trip, to be able to just snap your fingers and be at home already? Going home--it's usually the longest and most tedious part of the journey.

Today was the first of a two-day drive home for Alicia and I. It was the longer drive of the two, 10 hrs to her parents house, so at least we got the bigger chunk out of the way. Her parents live on 10 pretty acres of land (a different beauty from where we've been) with lots and lots of animals--dogs, cats, birds, horses, goats, ducks, chickens--and a very cool house. We got there, visited the animals, hung the tent up to dry (Finally! It had been siting in the trunk in all its dampness since Wednesday), had a couple of beers and dinner, then went to bed.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 17

Around the Portland, OR area
Miles driven today= 48
Total miles driven= 2297

Today was Haley & Dan's wedding, but it wasn't until the evening, so we spent the earlier part of the day exploring around Portland some more. We went and had breakfast at a little cafe in the small town, Carver, which is right outside of Portland a few miles from our hotel. It just so happens (okay, not really, I intentionally planned to visit it) that the Carver Cafe was another movie-Twilight filming location for a scene that was added and isn't in the book. The interior was redone for the movie shoot, with real pictures from old Forks hung on the walls, and the cafe kept the decorations up after filming was done. It was a quaint little place with hearty breakfasts, and seemed popular with many local regulars. Here's the table where Bella & Charlie (Kristen Stewart & Billy Burke) sit at in the scene...

We finished up breakfast and went to visit the Japanese Gardens. Followed a very interesting guided tour for a while, then walked around the rest of the beautifully designed gardens. After our visit there, we drove to the city center and parked, then roamed the streets for a while. Came across a fun Italian festival in pioneer square, had lunch from one of the vendors there, then headed back to the hotel to get ready for the wedding.

We luckily stayed at a hotel that was only a couple of miles from the wedding location, which was really nice. It took place outdoors at a golf course, and the reception was indoors immediately following the ceremony. Although it was rainy in the area when we first came in a couple of days ago, today turned out to be a perfect warm and clear wedding day. It was great to see Haley, although only briefly, and she looked beautiful in her strapless dress. I can't believe we've kept in touch for so long--I met her in Australia, when we were both studying abroad there--and am glad I was able to attend the wedding. I'm so excited and happy for the two of them!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 16

Around the Portland, OR Area
Miles driven today= 85
Total miles driven= 2249

The View Point Inn & the view of the Columbia River Gorge from the Inn

Leaving Olympic National Park early meant that we had a full day to explore Portland. It was nice for both of us, since Alicia had never been there before, and I wanted to see a couple of places I had missed my previous two times in the area, plus I didn't mind seeing some other things over again.

We had breakfast, then set off for Powell's City of Books. Yes, I had just been there the week before, but I love roaming around bookstores. Alicia is a reader also, so I couldn't let her miss out on a visit to Powell's! We ended up spending almost two hours there, which didn't help my book-buying problem. Remember how I refrained from buying too many books the last time I was there, and walked out with only two books? Well, I ended up walking out with three more this time around--Life of Pi by Yann Martel, Three Junes by Julia Glass, and a crockpot cookbook. They were all used, so I got a good bargain. So much for that library card I just got! Alicia was enthralled by the bookstore, especially the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section. Although she could have spent quite a bit of money there, she was trying to be good also and ended up getting only one book (technically)--it was a very large book that was a compilation of three books of a series into one.

Our second stop of the day was to another one of my movie-Twilight locations--a restaurant, The View Point Inn, where they filmed the prom scenes. I originally wanted to visit it for lunch when I was in Portland earlier last week. Monday was the only day I could have visited, and with my luck with Mondays, it was closed. So, our extra time in Portland gave me the perfect opportunity to visit the restaurant for lunch today. The View Point Inn is an absolutely adorable building that sits on a beautiful property overlooking the Columbia River Gorge. I fell in love with the place! The main room that you walk into is a large and inviting open space, with couches and a warm fireplace at the center of it. The main dining area is in the covered "patio" of the building, with large glass windows all around it, allowing you to take in the amazing view (hence, why it was named The View Point Inn)--the yard, fountain, and garden just outside, and the river in the distance. As we were waiting to be seated, the staff encouraged us to walk around and explore the building, including the rooms upstairs. We went up there to find the four rooms that the Inn has--all of them were cute and cozy and decorated a different way. For lunch, I had a soup, salad and sandwich trio--a chicken and celery soup, pulled pork sandwich, and green salad, and it was all delicious. It made me happy to know that not only was this place charming and had a wonderful view, but that it also served good food--what a great combination! I loved it there so much, that if I ever get married (ha!), I would seriously consider it as a location.

After filling up with the yummy food and walking around the grounds to take some pictures, we drove back towards the city center to visit the Oregon Zoo. The last time I was at this zoo, Haley and I spent most of our time behind the scenes meeting the sun bear, polar bear, tigers, jaguar, sea lions and otters, but didn't spend much time walking around and looking at the front-of-house exhibits. The zoo was great--lots of good interpretive signs (I especially liked the "Notes from the Keepers" signs, letting us know any cool new things happening with the animals) with new and pretty exhibits. It was nice to see that none of the enclosures looked old or run-down, everything was kept up very well. My favorite loop was "The Great Northwest", which focused on animals, habitats, and conservations issues that were in their own backyard. I think it's important for residents of an area to learn more about the habitats around them, and it's very interesting for outside visitors to get to know it better also.

Finishing up walking around the zoo made us ready for a beer, so we went to McMenamins Kennedy School. The McMenamins chain is genius, often converting historic structures into unique and fun locations for their inns and pubs. Kennedy School was a grade school built in 1915 that has now been turned into an inn, restaurant, movie theater, and several bars. It was neat walking around the school building, and it was a place that had a nice relaxed atmosphere to have dinner and a couple of beers at.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 15

Hoh Rainforest, WA to Clackamas, OR
(with visits to Ruby Beach, the Quinault visitor center, and Kalama High School--all were in WA)
Miles driven today= 272
Total miles driven= 2164

Survived the night with the leaky tent! At least it was only along the edges and didn't completely flood our beds. The rain lightened up, although it did not stop, when we woke up in morning. Being damp and wet can get a bit uncomfortable after a while, so Alicia and I were looking forward to getting dry and cleaning up at a hotel. We couldn't do anything else but pack up the tent in the rain, and would have to find an opportunity to dry everything out later on.

Our drive down to the Portland area included a few stops along the way. First was a visit to Ruby Beach, just off of Highway 101. Much like the other beaches we've visited during the trip, it was another beach that had this amazing untouched beauty to it, with the waves crashing and logs piled up on shore.

Then we drove over to the Quinault visitor center, which was in the Quinault Rainforest right by Lake Quinault. This was originally where we wanted to camp our last night in the park, but the rain made us change our plans. We wanted to drive by and see it at least, since we weren't going to be able to spend time there. The lake was gorgeous, and I'm a little saddened that we had to skip this part of the trip. I am glad that we were able to spend two nights at another lake, and one night in another rainforest, so I don't think we missed out on too much.

Further down the Five, closer to the Oregon border is a little town called Kalama. I wanted to visit the High School in this little town, because it was one of the locations they used for movie-Twilight's Forks High School. The town is adorable, and it was really neat because the school sat at the top of this hill in town--a very very cool location for a school. We parked in the parking lot real quick so I could hop out and snap some photos. Remember the parking lot scene in the teaser trailer, where Bella almost gets hit by the van? I was in that lot. Pathetic, I know, but yes I was very excited!

...We got into town, (staying at a hotel in Clackamas, right outside of Portland), had dinner and some beers, and then chilled the rest of the night!...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 14

Lake Crescent, WA to Hoh Rainforest, WA
(with visits to Rialto Beach, La Push, First & Second Beaches, and Forks)
Miles driven today= 106
Total miles driven= 1892

Today was the big day, folks--my visits to real-Twilight locations La Push, First Beach, and of course, Forks! We packed up early in the morning, because there were quite a few things we wanted to see before heading into the Hoh Rainforest and setting up camp there. First stop was Rialto Beach, just north of La Push. With the forest as a backdrop, it is a long stretch of beach with a ton of large beach logs on it. These enormous logs add a unique beauty to the beach, and it's refreshing to see something that is so very different from the beaches that I'm used to...

Next up, drove through La Push real quick then parked along the road to hike down hill to Second Beach, which was supposed to be very pretty. (I think it may have been the beach that the Forks kids hiked over to from First Beach to go tidepooling.) Second Beach was indeed very beautiful--another expansive beach with a lot of logs strewn along it. We had to climb over a large pile of them to reach the sandy part of the beach, and lucky for us, the tide was pretty low, so we looked around for a bit...

After hiking up from Second Beach, we went back to La Push and visited the real First Beach. Again, this was a tad different from the First Beach I had imagined--it actually stretched a lot longer and didn't have a backdrop of trees that I saw in my head. Kind of funny, but Indian Beach, the movie-Twilight's First Beach, looked a little more like what I imagined--which makes me so excited about the movie. Indian Beach was smaller and a more intimate cove, with a a forest as its backdrop, although there were only a few logs on it. First Beach is pretty expansive, with tons of beach logs and no forest, but rather the town and a resort jutting up to its edge. It was great to see the real place though, and after being there, I could definitely see Bella and Jacob walking down the beach, or maybe sitting on this log...

After leaving La Push, we of course headed to the small town of Forks, Washington. The whole time we were driving the approximately 13 miles over to Forks, I kept imagining Bella heading down the same road to visit Jacob--it was neat to be there. The first thing we came across as we drove down Highway 101 was the big sign, "The City of Forks Welcomes You." I had imagined that the sign would be a little bit more accessible--not on a tiny hill right along the side of a busy highway. We drove by it quickly, but planned to backtrack later on and try to figure out how to get a picture of it. Highway 101 turns into Forks Ave as we drove through the main part of town, with its one stoplight.

My plan was to visit the Chamber of Commerce and try to get a little bit more information about the Twilight sights that I wanted to visit. Although Forks is a small town, I had no clue where in town the places would be located. The lady at the office was very enthusiastic about Twilight visitors in Forks, and explained everything that was in the welcome packet for us. It was a very cool Twilight packet, which included a map of Forks with all the locations mentioned in the book, information about the Quileute tribe, trivia from the first three books, a bit of sand from First Beach, and recommended places to visit on the Olympic Peninsula. It seems like Twilight is the first big thing that has hit this small town of a little over 3,000 in a long time, so they have embraced the fans that come by. The Chamber of Commerce estimates that they get about 150 Twilight visitors each day, which I think is pretty impressive.

So, off we went to mosey around and find the different highlights in town--Thriftway (where Bella does her grocery shopping to cook for her and Charlie), the Community Hospital, the police station (which is inside City Hall), Forks High School, and a cute blue house that could have been where Bella & Charlie lived. It is only one of the few 2-story craftsmen-style homes in Forks, which would have been much like Bella and Charlie's house. The family that lives there allowed their home to be visited as a Twilight site, and there is a cute sign out front that has designated it as "The Swan Home." The family was out front when we drove by, and they were very sweet--the couple actually walked out to the street and chatted with us for a bit. Last stop was the Forks sign. There was actually a little turnoff on the side of the highway, so we parked there and ran over to the sign. I climbed up the little hill, and took my picture with it...

It started to drizzle as we left Forks, which I thought was very appropriate. We were in Bella's rainy home afterall! The Hoh Rainforest was our next and final destination for the day. We got there and set up our tent before any real rain could hit, ate a quick lunch, then went to the visitor center and hiked a couple of trails in the forest. It was beautiful, of course. The area was pretty similar to our hikes up near Lake Crescent, except everything was covered in a lot more moss. Appropriately-named, one of the trails we walked down was called the "Hall of Mosses."

After having a day full of activities, we decided that it was time to chill and nap back at the campground. We rested for an hour or two, then had to cook dinner in the drizzle. A ranger stopped by to tell us that they were still going to do their campfire program, but indoors at the visitor center rather than the outdoor amphitheater. I asked her if she knew whether the rain was going to let up at all. She said it wasn't, that it was a big storm and they were expecting about two inches of rain. Two inches! Well, we were in the rainforest, afterall, and what does it do there but rain. At this point, the drizzle still wasn't that bad, but because of it, we were calling it an early night and retreated back to the tent with magazines, books, and journals. Up until this point, my tent and rain fly were holding up pretty well. But as it got later into the evening, it started to rain harder...And harder....And it kept raining and raining and raining. Hard. I ended up noticing that there was a tiny drip coming from the top of the tent, so we headed out into the wetness to put an additional tarp over the rain fly. This solved the drip problem, but later on, I noticed that rain was seeping in through the corners of my tent. Apparently, my beloved little Kelty just can't handle that much rain. As we were sitting there listening to the hard drops of water hitting the tarp and ground, and wondering if the tent would hold up through the night, Alicia and I decided that instead of camping our next (and last) night in the Quinault Rainforest like originally planned, we would just drive to Portland tomorrow. So it goes when you're in the wettest part of the US. You can get rained out, even in August...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 13

Olympic National Park, WA:
Hiked to Marymere & Sol Duc Falls and hung out at Lake Crescent

Miles driven today= 45
Total miles driven= 1786

Yes, I'm a tree hugger--I heart them so much that I had to hug one! It has been so wonderful being surrounded by these beautiful and magnificent trees. Look at how big this one is, and it definitely wasn't the biggest one we saw...

Our Lake Crescent campsite was so awesome that we wanted to stay another night, which also meant we would be able to spend the day checking out a couple of sites nearby. Drove about halfway down the length of the lake to the Storm Ranger Station, which had some trails that started there. We hiked the one that led us through old-growth forests, and ultimately to Marymere Falls...

Then we drove over to the trail that led us to Sol Duc River and Sol Duc Falls (the 7th waterfall I've visited this trip!) Sol Duc River is pretty long and also runs right outside of Forks--it is the river that the Cullen house is right by and the one that Edward's room overlooks. Although we're at another end of the river, can you imagine it?...

We spent the rest of the evening chilling back at our campsite. Alicia plopped her chair down by the lake's edge and wrote in her journal. My camera battery was being stupid and said it was low on battery, although I had just fully charged it a couple of nights ago. Luckily, the people at the nearby general store were nice enough to let me use one of their outlets. While sitting at the picnic bench and waiting for the battery to charge, I chatted with one of the workers there--a nice fellow from the midwest who was just working on the Peninsula for the summer.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 12

Robin's Woods, WA to Lake Crescent, WA
(with visits to Hurricane Ridge and Port Angeles)
Miles driven today= 122
Total miles driven= 1741

Warning: I may use the words beautiful, amazing, gorgeous, incredible, etc one too many times in my blog entries during this road trip. I apologize, but these places are just that--beautiful, amazing, gorgeous, incredible, etc. So please bear with me, as I lack better descriptive words for what I'm seeing and experiencing.

Our first day going into Olympic National Park! A visit to Hurricane Ridge was not on our original itinerary, but we had decided that we would be flexible and play everything by ear for the trip. Most of the campsites don't take reservations, so we were not exactly sure what we were doing or where we were staying each night. Things would have to be decided on as they come up day by day. So, we ended up making Hurricane Ridge our first stop after leaving Robin's Woods--it's a beautiful seventeen mile drive up the mountain from Port Angeles. Once you reach the visitor center at the top, there is an amazing, expansive view--a pretty meadow, a forest further out, and snow lingering on the mountains in the distance. Of course, pictures cannot do this scenery justice, but you get the idea...

Next stop was my first real-Twilight destination, Port Angeles. The two other places I've visited so far were movie-Twilight locations, which was still very cool, but it's also nice to be able to see the real places that the books were set in. It was a little smaller and a tad different from what I had imagined, but that's the way things like that go. It's my imagination, after all, so things will never match up exactly to what my brain has conjured up. Port Angeles is a cute and small town that sits along the water. We walked down the pier, then down the main drag of the town. It seems that we were there on the wrong day--practically the whole place was quiet and shut down (note to self, don't visit Port Angeles on Sundays.) Only a few places were open, including a bookstore, Port Book & News, which of course we roamed through for a while. Alicia bought a "Oregon & Washington Wildlife" ID book, so she could identify all the animals that she will see on the trip. I took some pictures around town, including the front of Bella Italia, the restaurant where Edward and Bella had their "first date". It's a good thing that Alicia was one of the first people I convinced to read Twilight and that she is also a fan (although not an obsessed one like me.) If she wasn't, I don't think she would be able to handle much of my Twilighting adventures, because there are quite a few more places that I want to visit! Here's a shot of Port Angeles from the lookout on the pier...

After walking around town for a bit, we went grocery shopping for our camping stay in the park. We tried to do it quickly, because dark clouds with lightning were forming in the distance, and we wanted to get to our campsite and set up before any rain hit. The drive west along Highway 101 towards Lake Crescent (and ultimately, Forks) was beautiful. We wanted to try to stay at Fairholm Campground, on the east end of Lake Crescent, but weren't sure if there would be space. The drive along the lake was amazing-the windy road followed the southern shore right at the water's edge. It turns out that most people head home on Sunday, so there was plenty of room at Fairholm. We picked a site on a tiny hill, with views of the lake between the trees. The whole campground was shaded by amazing (yes, it's that word again!) large moss-covered trees, which provided us with much protection from wind and rain. It sprinkled on us a bit, but nothing to complain about. The picture that I posted at the top of this entry is of the lake at sunset--the cloudy sky lit up to a soft pink, which reflected in the calm water of the lake. Ahh, what a peaceful setting...That evening, we made our own little fire, popped open a couple of beers and hung out...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 11

Robin's Woods, WA to Seattle, WA & back to Robin's Woods, WA
Miles driven today= 116
Total miles driven= 1619

I know it sounds a little silly, but I was a bit nervous about driving my car onto the ferry to get to Seattle. Taking the ferry? No problem. Taking the ferry with my car? For some reason, I was a bit hesitant about it. I even considered taking the long way and just driving down and around into the city to pick Alicia up at the airport. But then I realized I was being silly, plus Jennifer gave me detailed instructions on how to get to the Bainbridge Island-Seattle ferry, and how to get onto and off of the ferry, so it wouldn't have been a big deal. And you know what? It wasn't. It was actually such an easy process, and a pretty fun experience too. So glad I did it instead of wasting my time driving the long way around! Once the car was parked, I got out and walked the upper deck of the ferry for a while. Took in the beautiful scenery as we left the early-morning stillness of Bainbridge Island and headed towards the Seattle skyline. Standing there with the wind blowing reminded me of McDreamy, hehe.

After picking Alicia up at the airport, we stopped in Seattle for a couple of hours before heading over the Olympic Peninsula again. We walked around Pike Place market, which was so incredibly crowded! The last time I was there was winter/springtime a couple of years back, and it was pretty quiet compared to the madness that we trekked through. It was still fun wandering all the booths and checking out what kind of crafty things were for sale (I bought a necklace.) We grabbed lunch, then got back in the car to get onto the ferry.

Trying to get on the ferry on a warm Saturday in Seattle is quite an experience! We waited in line and inched along for over an hour before we were able to get onto one. We got back to Robin's Woods in the afternoon, and after showing Alicia around the house, we each plopped ourselves into our own hammock and spent a couple of hours there.

Being the true zoology nerd that she is, one of the things that Alicia is most excited about this trip is being able to see wildlife. Reptiles, birds, mammals, you name it, she wants to see it all. Leave it to her to find a lizard in the backyard during her first couple of hours at the house. She picked it up and hung out with it for a while. I just happened to be playing with the Nikon D200 at the time, so check out some of the pictures that I shot over at Jennifer's blog, Robin's Woods.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 10

Robin's Woods, WA
Miles driven today= 0
Total miles driven= 1503

Princess Cupcake's 8th birthday party celebration was today. We packed up the car and went over to the home of a friend of Jennifer's, where the birthday bbq was taking place. While the food was cooking and the decorations were being put up, I spent most of the late morning and early afternoon laying in the hammock and re-reading Breaking Dawn (I liked it the first time, but am loving it so much better this second time around. It's a brilliant book!)

We had a delicious bbq lunch (All home-made by Jennifer, of course. Boy, am I being spoiled with food here!)--chicken, fried potatoes, macaroni salad, beans, and watermelon. Princess Cupcake opened her presents, which included a lot of books (she loves to read), and a brand spankin' new pink bike.

It was another warm day, in the 80s, and all the Washington folk were very sweaty and uncomfortable. It was funny--since they are from Washington and not used to the unusually warm weather, they were not enjoying it at all. Being from Southern California, I sometimes have to endure temperatures that surpass the 100 degree mark, so the weather wasn't that bad to me. It's all a matter of perspective and what you're use to, I guess. They were talking about how the weather is perfect when it's in the 50s and 60s, which made me want to cringe, since anything below the 60s and 70s is a bit cool for me, haha.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 9

Robin's Woods, WA
Miles driven today= 0
Total miles driven= 1503

On the itinerary this morning was to hike down to the beach during low tide. Had my home-made toast and honey breakfast again, we packed up some sandwiches for our lunch at the beach, then made our trek down hill. It was nice seeing more of the property and being outside on another beautiful and sunny day. Along the path, we came across two deer (my first deer sighting!) and some bear scat (hmm, made me a little nervous.)

The long stretch of beach was covered in algae and eel grass, which squished under our feet as we walked across it. I explored the beach a bit--there were anemones buried in the sand, sand dollars here and there, quite a few moon snail egg cases, and lots and lots of clam shells. One of the things I was very excited about doing was digging for clams, since I had never done it before. Jennifer said that if we found any, she would cook them up for us to eat. So, Princess Cupcake and I went around looking for good areas to dig up to look for our clams. Apparently, the easiest way to find them is to watch for water squirting up from the sand, which is what the clams usually do when the tide is coming in. The tide was coming in when we were down there, but they weren't squirting, so we had to go hunt for the little holes in the sand where we thought they might be. After digging and digging different areas, we finally struck gold! We went around to several different areas, and finally found a little over a dozen clams. Later that evening, Jennifer floured and fried up our two big clams, and steamed the smaller guys for Princess Cupcake and I to have as our appetizers before dinner. It was neat being able to eat clams that I personally dug up. Yay, my first clamming experience!

After hiking back up from the beach, we walked down to the mailbox and looked at a cute little log cabin that is also on their property. The rest of the day, I spent playing with my camera, reading, and relaxing in the hammock.

It was just another day hanging out in Robin's Woods!

Road Trip '08: Update

Yes, I'm alive! I'm currently on the Olympic Peninsula (looking for my sexy vampire =P), and of course it's beautiful here too. I got up here on Tuesday, and will be on the peninsula through next Wednesday, when I head back to Portland for Haley & Dan's wedding. Alicia flies up this weekend, and we'll be camping in Olympic National Park for several days--we'll be checking out different areas like Lake Crescent and the Hoh and Quinault rainforests, plus do our little Twilight touring in Port Angeles and Forks. The complete update of each day will have to come later, since I don't have internet connected to my laptop to be able to upload pictures and stuff. Hope you all are doing well!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 8

Robin's Woods, WA (just hanging out!)
& a visit to Port Townsend, WA
Miles driven today= 0
Total miles driven= 1503

Ah, how nice, no driving today (for me at least!) The driving hasn't been bad at all, I've actually been enjoying it more than I thought I would. It's rather peaceful having nothing but my thoughts and the long stretch of road ahead of me. A bit like meditating--just driving and being, going somewhere but not quite in a hurry to get there. But, even though the driving has been going well, it's still nice not having to deal with it for a few days.

This morning, I woke up and ate some toast (from the loaf of bread I had made the night before, very exciting), then we drove up to visit Port Townsend, which is on the northeastern tip of the peninsula. It is a cute town along the water, with neat old buildings and pretty Victorian homes. We had lunch at a little cafe and walked along their downtown area, looking at the buildings and in some of the shops. Then we headed over to the beach at Fort Warden. It was surprisingly warm out, and the water at the beach was an amazing aqua blue-green color. It was such a beautiful day--I couldn't believe that I was actually sitting on a beach in Northern Washington! Doesn't it always rain here? Okay, so it's August--if it doesn't always rain, then isn't it usually cool and cloudy at least? Who knew it got this nice up here!?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 7

Gresham, OR to Robin's Woods, WA (on the Olympic Peninsula)
Miles driven today= 202
Total miles driven= 1503

Left Oregon today and headed north to Washington's Olympic Peninsula to visit old friends, Jennifer Robin and her grand daughter, Princess Cupcake. Jennifer lives in a beautiful 3-story log cabin on 42 acres of land known as Robin's Woods.

I was very much looking forward to this part of the trip--to seeing their property, getting some photography tips, and just relaxing with the great views and all the trees around me. Plus, I was very excited about finally going up to the Peninsula, home to Bella and Edward and my other beloved Twilight characters! Driving to the house was a perfect start to my experience--the tree-lined path that leads to their cabin from the main road looked much like what I imagined the drive to the Cullen house would have looked like. If I had only looked at the right moment, I may have caught one of them running by, hehe.

It was a low-key day. I got a tour of the house and the backyard (gorgeous views!), watched the chipmunks hanging out at the chipmunk hotel for a while, received a "basics" photography lesson (so I could start playing with the Nikon D200 that my dad let me borrow), and learned how to make home-made bread. Jennifer cooked a yummy pasta alfredo dinner, which we ate with our homemade garlic cheese rolls. Mmm, it was so good to eat home cooking again after almost a week of eating out. She always cooked the best meals, and I will definitely enjoy eating like this for the next few days!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Road Trip '08: Day 6

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area & Portland, OR
Miles driven today: 76
Total miles driven: 1301
# of times I got lost today: 3

Started my day early in the morning, to explore the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, driving along the Historic Columbia River Highway (US 30). The highway has some stunning scenic points that overlook the river, but the best part is that it passes along a number of easily accessible waterfalls. I couldn't believe how easy it was to get to them, some just steps from the road, and others a very short walk away. People often have to hike miles to see a waterfall, and here these are, just right off the highway. I'm also amazed that there were so many waterfalls in such a close area. It was awesome, I visited five waterfalls today: Latourell Falls, Shepperd's Dell Falls, Bridal Veil Falls (my second favorite of the five), Wahkeena Falls, and the most beautiful & most popular (and my favorite), Multnomah Falls. It drops 620 ft, and is the second highest continuously running waterfall in the country. It was truly stunning. (Multnomah Falls also happens to be another site that the Twilight movie filmed at, hehe.)

After spending the first half of my day on the scenic drive, I spent the second half at Powell's City of Books & in the Pearl District of Portland. Getting there was quite a frustrating adventure--oh those bridges and one-way streets can be so confusing!

Powell's is a monster of a bookstore. One can get lost in the huge place, roaming aisle after aisle and room after room, which suited my book-loving self just fine. I'm trying to cut back on my book-buying problem (need to save money! must read the unread books on my shelf! just got a library card last month!), so I was only looking to buy a few books that I wanted, rather than picking up anything and everything that looked interesting. Got two good deals today: found a paperback version of our current book club read The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry for $8, and a copy of The Mists of Avalon (which I've been wanting but not wanting to pay $14 for) for $6....After Powell's, I had a very late lunch at a vietnamese restaurant called Silk. It was very tasty!

Off to Washington's Olympic Peninsula tomorrow, so excited!

Don't forget to check out my pictures! Link is to your right.

Road Trip Pictures

I've created a collection on my flickr page for my road trip pictures, with each day separated into its own set. The link is on the right under the "Blogs & Webpages" category. Check them out, and check back for updates! So far, Day 5 is my favorite set of pictures!

(If you can't find the link over there, here it is Road Trip 2008 Pictures