Tuesday, August 19, 2014
This weekend was a very low key weekend, as it's the last one before we drive all over the state of California and look at some things. I'm still trying to work out how we're going to fit so much fun in so many days, I'm trying to create almost an itinerary in my head because it kind of drives me crazy not knowing what's going to happen exactly, like driving with Christian navigating and telling me to turn off the exit we are passing at 65mph. It's hard. So that means this is Christian's last week at work, and along with last week they are very busy weeks with lots of extra hours being put in.
For me, it means I only have a week to get myself together. I've been having a really hard time feeling motivated to do anything, as the last couple of freelance deals and job leads for the Fall have fallen through. It's a slippery slope once the motivation goes away and by the end of the day all you've done is watch Gossip Girl and read an entire book in a dystopian setting and manage to eat more than you planned and you're still in your pyjamas. From two days ago.
On Saturday Christian and I tried to get tickets online to the Winchester Mystery House, but couldn't because apparently you need to buy tickets a day in advance on the website, and we didn't realize we could just go to the place and request tickets and get them. Ha. That was okay, I imagine Christian wanted to do a little relaxing after his busy week, some days he wasn't home until 7 or closer to 8. His team is working him really hard to finish his project. We walked to Michaels to get a new brush and we ended up walking around forever looking at stuff because it's really hard not to get sucked into the amazingness of an art store. We got back and did some watercolour paintings and that was really fun. One of our roommates said that we "are always having too much fun" because I guess they hear us just laughing in our room for an hour at a time and wonder if something could ever make them that happy. Their words, not mine. What mostly happens here is Christian sticks his fingers up my nose and tickles me for making a terrible laugh that he hates.
So we got tickets for the tour the next day and then went to see Let's Be Cops. Hilarious movie, was only expecting it to be like Nick and Coach try to be cops but it was so much better.
The Winchester Mystery House is something that I discovered a couple years ago. Fascinated by it, and reading almost the entire Wikipedia article to Christian, I decided that it was on my bucket list. I had to see it before I died. I mean, it's so interesting. In my mind, I was going to get to it in some distant future, maybe if I found it again. I completely forgot where it was, somewhere in California maybe.
At some point after her husband's death in 1881 a Boston medium told Sarah Winchester that she should leave her home in New Haven and travel West, where she must continuously build a home for herself and the spirits of people who had fallen victim to Winchester rifles. Winchester left New Haven and headed for California. Sources claim that Winchester came to believe her family and fortune were haunted by ghosts, and that only by continuously building them a house could she appease these spirits.
In 1884 she purchased an unfinished farmhouse in the Santa Clara Valley and began building her mansion. Carpenters were hired and worked on the house day and night until it became a seven story mansion. She did not use an architect and added on to the building in a haphazard fashion, so that the home contains numerous oddities like doors or stairs that go nowhere, windows overlooking other rooms, and stairs with odd-sized risers.
I highly recommend reading the Wikipedia article on it. It's fascinating.
We were on an Apple shuttle with a guy recommending things we definitely should do while we're here. The house came up and I gasped, remembering it all over again. It turns out we're only a ten minute drive from it! It's in San Jose, the neighbouring city!!! We decided to add it into one of our weekends here. That was this Sunday we finally got to it.
We had booked for 3:00 and ended up getting there past that time, like at 3:20 because we are usually late to things. The guy was really nice and put us in a later tour group, at 3:50. So we walked around the gift shop while we waited and they had some pretty cool stuff there, capitalizing on this woman's insanity.
Christian got this lovely picture and I took it from his phone without him noticing. (Shh!)
So this woman did not have any plans on building the house, and haphazardly added on to it on a whim. Apparently she was only 4 feet 11 inches tall and had some of the stairs were made only at only a couple inch rise. There were actually stairs that went to nowhere and doors that lead to nowhere. As she added onto the house she just engulfed whatever structure was there and made it into the house. She had a "Hall of Fires" in the house that had like eight fireplaces and some radiators that make it really hot because she had super bad arthritis and it used to be the water tower and the walls are still slanted to represent that.
10 points for whoever can tell me who the goddess of the harvest is. We're holding hands and she's saying sweet things to me. The statues are original.
The house used to be seven stories tall until an earthquake in 1906 that collapsed three stories and she took it as a sign from unhappy spirits that she was getting too close to finishing the front of the house. So she stopped all construction on that. Apparently she also slept in a different room every night and we got to go into her bedroom where she died and her seance room and the room she was trapped in during this earthquake. Also there was a servants floor. Some of the hallways were super narrow and the rooms really small, but others were gigantic and it didn't make sense, but I don't think it was supposed to.
She had things imported from everywhere, all the stained glass in the house is bought from Tiffany & Co. She had rooms full of things imported from Asia, Austria, Germany, England, South America, etc. A lot of imported plants and building materials and chandeliers. There were so many things that were cutting edge, new technologies for the times, such as divets cut in the counter by the sink to allow water to drain back into it, and newly patented things that she had to have. She even had three elevators!
This is the kitchen she used before the 1906 earthquake and I don't understand why she stopped using it. Maybe because it was closer to the front of the house, but she built a new one just down the hall from it.
Here's what the house looks like looking toward the back of the house from a fourth story window, we weren't actually allowed to take pictures inside because apparently the house is copyrighted, which makes absolutely no sense and why would they do that. Can you believe they only waited a year after Mrs. Winchester's death to start doing tours of the house? It's been 91 years.
The tour was really nice and we went on the extended tour which showed us the basement where we had to wear hardharts and the aviary and her garage and place where she dried apricots, but it would have been nice to be able to explore the entirety of the house on my own and look into nooks and crannys.
If I had to give one word to describe the house, it would be bizarre, which is a word of choice when a lot of people try to describe it. I asked Christian what his word would be, and he also said bizarre. There really are stairs leading to the ceiling and doors that don't connect to anything and windows into rooms. A notable example is a bathroom on the fourth floor that has a door behind the tub looking in, but there's a wall on the other side, the door opens into a wall.
It was an amazing tour and I get to cross that off my bucket list, I'm so happy. I also got to play with a fun umbrella while we were waiting for the tour to start and I think I want one in my life. It's in rainbow sections and when you twist it, it looks super cool!
We missed a Friday the 13th in June, but apparently they do flashlight tours of the house, where they turn off all the lights and your only guidance is by flashlights. It would be super freaky. They only do it on Friday the 13ths and around Halloween, and I don't know if I could. There have been numerous sightings of a ghost in the basement of the house that matches the description of a real guy who worked there, and I could see how. The basement was a little freaky.
I want to go again, and again. I loved it.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
A link to part 1 of our weekend of nature if you haven't read it yet because you should.
We woke up early and I looked at the weather which said it would rain aaaall day in Yosemite park. I was a little worried that our day would be dampened by rain, but luckily it didn't and the sky was beautiful for the entire day.
We ate breakfast at what we thought could be this adorable little breakfast place in Carson City, with a little more convincing on my end to get sleepy Christian up, and it had pretty good reviews on Yelp. We got in and it looked fine, the menu was enormous and took a lot of reading through, but our server, who was an oldish woman was very abrupt and all "I gave you enough time to read the menu now order". I chose a tomato and feta egg burrito when I should have gotten the Belgian waffles. If there's one thing I learned this summer, it's always get the Belgian waffles omg. I love them. And I could have had them with strawberries and whipped cream or strawberry and blueberry compote with whipped cream. Christian was lucky and got a little bit of everything on his plate. But like, two minutes after we got our food she brought the bill over and stuck it on the table. I've never had that done to me, and I didn't think any place did something like that, aren't waitresses in the US living off tips? It kind of made us feel like we were supposed to be rushing through our breakfast and the place was nowhere near closing time.
We did end up kind of rushing through our breakfast and soon we were heading towards Yosemite. The views were breathtaking the entire way there. We drove through a place called Carson Valley with the mountains on either side of us and a lush green valley.
We ended up in the mountains overlooking gigantic valleys and the mountains stood tall over the road. We weren't even in the park yet and we were looking around in awe. On a whim, I stopped at what a sign said was an overlook and there was a lot of cars there, so why not. I stumbled into something really cool and really beautiful. It was near Mono Lake on Highway 395, called Conway Overlook.
The coolest part wasn't even the view, though that was pretty cool, it was the massive amount of bumper stickers and other kinds of stickers people had stuck here. This and this was the guardrail in 2010, and below is it in 2014, even more stickers have been added to it. I'm determined to go there again and stick our own stickers to it. Hold on, just let me write that down on the bucket list.
I've made the image below clickable (opens in a new tab) in case you want to read some of the really cool stickers on it. Panoramas are courtesy of Mr. Christian Selig.
This was the view behind/to the side of us as we looked over this scene.
We lost service around this area, maybe before it because we were cycling through 4 songs Christian had cached on his phone. We kept driving up further and further around winding roads on the mountain side, like the kind you see in movies where the bad guys are chasing the good guys and there's a long drop that they could drive over and and there's no guardrail and the bad guys end up driving over it and getting out of their cars and shaking their fists at the good guys. That's the kind of road we were driving on. I think Christian fell asleep on this road as well. They looked kind of like this, but then again most of the roads in Yosemite looked like that as well.
The elevation at the Tioga Pass Entrance, the entrance we came in is at 9,932ft. We went into the park thinking we could park the car and maybe hike for a while around and see some sites. I imagine you could do that, but the park covers an area of 747,956 acres (3,026.87 km2). We were completely wrong. We started driving having no idea where we were or how to get anywhere and the map the girl gave us at the entrance didn't help because we couldn't figure out where we were, but luckily after twenty minutes of driving we found a visitor information place. A girl working there helped us and told us where we were and circled on the map some things we had to get in, the big things. We learned that a creek is made of snow runoff and a river is ocean runoff. She also said someone had asked her if they could drive over Half Dome before. In a Subaru.
Using the paper map as our only guide through the park, we started out. I had made a comment earlier in the trip about how we were lucky to be in a generation where we have Waze, Google Maps and Apple Maps to direct us without having to pore over a paper map and try to figure out where you were or use signs on the side of the road, or even guess and hope you were going in the right direction. Not in and around Yosemite/Tahoe. We were stuck using the map we had been given, and we were lucky to have been given it.
Our first stop was Tenaya Lake. A beautiful lake that would have been amazing to kayak on. You could swim in it and there was a beach for laying in the sun and picnicing. The basin of the lake was created by the Tenaya glacier, which is the same glacier that created Half Dome. I guess its beauty was known by the Native Americans and was first named something that translated to "Lake of the Shining Rocks".
On the way down the rocks Christian tried stepped back up and slipped and hurt his foot a little bit, and I stepped down with a knee bent and smashed it on a jagged part of a rock on the outside of my kneecap. I complained a bit more than Christian, but it was a good start to the Yosemite adventure. So if you're ever at Tenaya Lake, be careful. It bites back.
Our next stop was Olmsted Point. It overlooks the Half Dome, and is pretty cool, but there's not much else except the grandeur of it overlooking Tenaya Canyon. It was a nice stop to look out and feel small.
We spent a couple of minutes here and kept driving through the park. On our way we saw a fire. The sign said it was a management fire, which I think means that they were doing it to clear away some old brush and to encourage new things to grow. Apparently a lot of things depend on natural fires to clear out some old stuff to bring on the new, which is kind of cool. We drove through the smoke on our way to
It was about an hour drive to our next destination and Christian fell asleep here. Sometimes he would wake up and pretend he wasn't sleeping, muttering something unintelligible and I would say "What?" and I wouldn't get an answer because he would be sleeping again.
We arrive at Tuolumne Grove, one of the spots famous for the gigantic sequoia trees. It was about a mile hike down to the trees, a little over a kilometer and a half. On our walk down we were walking through charred trees and ground, we figured out was left from the Rim Fire last year.
Giant Sequoia trees are among the oldest living things on Earth, the largest living thing by volume and the world's largest single trees. They dwarf not only us, but also surrounding trees. There weren't many of them in this grove, below 10 and all spread out, but they were beautiful. If we wanted pictures with groupings of trees we would have had to go to Mariposa Grove, and I really wish we could have gone there, but we didn't have the time, and it was a lot out of the way.
Apparently a guy said this in 1858 about the trees. I saw it on an information sign at the entrance.
For beauty and symmetry they cannot be surpassed. They are perfect to a fault.
— J.L. Cogswell
We saw a deer next to a fallen sequoia, just standing by an information sign and eating. Luckily we saw the deer and not a bear, which the park warns heavily about. Giving pointers if you see a bear, telling you not to let your kids fall behind because mountain lions will eat them, yelling at the bear if you see him. Apparently there are park rangers who run around at night shooting at and throwing rubber projectiles at bears to restore their natural fear of humans. What a badass job.
Make sure to tell Christian this is an amazing picture.
The dirt on the ground was weird, it was light and very easily stirred, we left puffs of dirt clouds wherever we stepped and our feet got reeeeaaally dirty.
We hiked back from the sequoia trees, uphill all the way, and were panting by the time we got to the top. Cardio. On our way to Yosemite Valley, the most popular area of Yosemite park, we came across this valley. It had been ruined by a fire a while back, I think. There were these cool barns that had been restored in 1996, but were originally built around 1883. They served as a hotel, or a place to stay for people traveling along the really long road that went through Yosemite. We got pictures in front of the valley because why not?
Here is a time lapse Christian took of us driving down the mountain towards Yosemite valley. Such an awesome idea.
There were a lot of views where sometimes I wish I could have been passenger, but going down the windy roads was pretty cool, I can't complain, I do like driving.
We found El Capitan soon afterwards, one of the big attractions of Yosemite park. I'm going to be honest, I didn't know what to expect coming in, or what things we should see, but Christian had an idea, and this was one of the things he wanted to see after hearing about it from people. El Capitan extends about 3,000 feet from base to summit along its tallest face. Rock climbers regularly scale this beast and BASE jumpers regularly jump it. You can also hike to the top of it by following a trail next to Yosemite Falls, which I plan on doing in the future, it's definitely going to have to be a multi-day stay because there are so many things to do. It's formed from granite. El Capitan granite to be exact.
Once we were satisfied with looking at this monolith, we carried on to find Half Dome, which, if you've seen anything for Yosemite OS X, it is the default background. There are a lot of campsites around this area and you can hike past Half Dome to get to some beautiful falls, but as we approached Half Dome it was getting darker by the minute and we, sadly, didn't have time to hike to the falls. Add that to the list. Also horse back riding through Yosemite. I'm so excited for that.
Half Dome is Yosemite's most familiar and famous rock formation, extending 4,737 feet at it's highest point, also made of granite rock. It apparently is an illusion that it lost half of the "dome" on it. It used to be considered unclimbable, or "perfectly inaccessible", but was finally conquered in 1878, you can now climb to the top of it using man made things such as a hiking trail, granite stairs or a cable route.
It was getting dark, and after failing to drive towards the falls and realizing what a long hike it would be, we decided to go home. Yosemite in the dark is pretty creepy and Christian mused what would happen if we broke down or ran out of gas in the outback of Yosemite at night without no service and a long walk from the campgrounds. It was a long drive back and I think we took the scenic route through. We didn't get service until about three quarters of the way back, using the cached map to find it. It was kind of nice to not have it though, this weekend, because we were able to throw ourselves into what we were doing and exploring and it was really cool.
I was tired and had to pee and had a giant headache, I think from the pressure differences or maybe lack of water that was overtaking the entire right side of my head and we were pretty hungry. We stopped at a McDonald's three quarters of the way back and I got a really good club sandwich made with chicken. Why don't we have that in Canada? We ate in the parking lot while a homeless guy had a loud argument with himself by the bus station across the road. We alternated driving because I was getting a little sleepy and surprisingly Christian didn't fall asleep once on the way back from Yosmemite. We got home closer to 2AM exhausted and Christian had to get up to go to work the next morning.
Monday, August 11, 2014
On Friday, in anticipation of our weekend ahead, we ate some pizza and went to see Guardians of the Galaxy. It was hilarious and amazing and before I saw it, I wasn't excited about seeing it, but I have no idea why not. Well worth the going and having it sold out for the time we wanted and having to see it in 3D at a later time. We got back pretty late, but had to wake up early the next morning. We set the alarm for 7. 7 AM.
Early Saturday morning, with only a little convincing Christian to wake up and a quick pack and shotgunning a mango protein drink, we were off. To get our oil changed. It was quick and easy and we didn't know what we were doing the entire time. We didn't know where to drive, where to pull in, what to do, if we should tip or not, but it ended up being relatively painless. Then we went to get Christian's hair did. He found a barber shop, and inside they had signed pictures of WWE wrestlers on the wall and stuff like that, it was pretty neat, and thankfully didn't take very long.
There was a Dollar Tree next to it, where I decided to go use the bathroom before we were off. I was walking down the aisle towards the bathroom and I passed a guy, but just as he passed me he kind of leaned over and make a chooo sound like it sounds like when someone's imitating a sneeze. I wtf'd and walked faster towards the bathroom. What the hell was that? Who does that? On another note the bathroom at a Dollar Tree had 2 ply toilet paper and Dalhousie can't even get 2 ply. We got out of there as soon as we could.
I love road trips. I love driving and seeing sites and sights and exploring new places. For as long as I can remember I've had the itch to travel and I'm so happy I get to with Christian beause he gives me the push to actually do it and throw myself into things. I'm grateful. We listened to catchy music and sang and Christian threw my chewed up gross gum out the window for me and we stopped at a burger place in Davis for some lunch (they had fries salted AND peppered!), got to see the University of California Davis campus, which is confusing and I drove on the sidewalk once.
Once we ate, we were driving up into the mountains, and I didn't realize we would be going up into the mountains and driving around windy roads and inside the forest. The views were incredible, as we were driving on a mountainside road, but it's really hard to capture the enormity of something like that on camera, as well as the way it makes you feel. It smelled like the forest and was beautiful and green. I think we were 8000 feet up at our highest and our ears were popping. Christian fell asleep here, I think for the first time that day. It's really weird because we can be having a conversation, like for example he'll say "How are you doing?" and I'll say "Good, how are you doing?" and I get no answer. I'll look over and he'll be sleeping. That, or he's just playing a really long trick on me.
We got to Tahoe on the south side of the lake decently early, the sun was still high in the sky and it was beautiful and warm. What I hadn't realized was that Tahoe was a bustling town with a lot of attractions and people and buildings. Lake Tahoe is gorgeous. An enormous lake with mountains bordering all sides of the water, sitting pretty at 6225 ft above sea level and the basin was formed during the ice ages.
It's open usually year round, and has a lot of areas for doing snow activities, and a lot of places to rent the apparatuses for these activities. I think someday we're going to try skiing and surfing in the same day, it would be a lot of fun to do and awesome to be able to say you've done that, and kind of makes you sound like you're an overachieving wanderer or jetsetting trust fund baby. Not in a bad way though. We abandoned the car in a parking lot and walked down to the shore, on the beach, finding a kayak rental place right away. Once we were strapped into our lifejackets with our electronics stowed away in a waterproof bag, we climbed in the kayaks and took off.
This was my first time ever kayaking and I was really excited, and it was both harder and easier than I thought it would be. I thought my muscles would be sore the next day, but they weren't really. Lifting paid off.
I, of course, was anticipating being able to change before we actually went on the kayaks, so that morning I had put on a dress, because when don't you want to wear a dress? You don't have to put on pants. Christian told me I'd be fine kayaking in a dress and assured me that he liked that dress. I got wet. And I looked silly. But it was indeed fine. And Christian laughed at me. I think he planned to laugh at me the entire time. He was also nice enough to make sure he splashed the front of me so that I didn't just have a wet butt, but also a wet front as well.
After our kayaking adventure, we decided to go swimming/play frisbee, so we went to the car to grab our swimmy suits, but when we came back, it was really windy and the water was a little chilly. Neither worked. We walked down the wharf and sat for a while. In front of us on the mountain the clouds started getting a little dark and it looked like it was raining not too far away. I was staring off when Christian nudged me and asked incredulously if I had seen that. Apparently where the dark clouds were over the mountain there were huge lightning bolts coming down from them, seeming to hit the mountain. It was amazing to see a phenomenon like lightning up close like that.
When we decided to find a place to eat, Christian found this really amazing restaurant...on the North side of the lake. That was okay, we could wait the hour drive to find it. We drove around another hilly and turny area and Christian fell asleep here as well. We drove around the lake, the view visible from our left side the entire way, and this is also where we lost service. The sun was setting over the mountains on the opposite side and it was a sight. Sometime in this drive we crossed over into Nevada. First time in Nevada! It didn't look terribly different from California, but the trees in the forest we were driving through kind of reminded us of the trees in the Taiga M biome in Minecraft. They looked really cool.
We were coming down the mountain from a 55mph zone, and in the middle of this huge hill the speed changes to 35mph. I'm trying to slow down, Christian's sleeping and I glance at my phone trying to see if we were close to where we were supposed to be eating and not slowing down fast enough. I see the red and blue lights behind me and I pull over. I actually thought it might be for looking at my phone when I pulled over to the side of the road because that's also a serious offence here. Remember Arnold's wife getting in trouble for it?
Oh god I think I'm being pulled over. I'm being pulled over.
What's the rush?
Looks at Christian
Uh, I'm not sure.
You're not sure... Where are you coming from?
Um, the South part of the lake, we drove here this morning from Cupertino.
Do you know how fast you were going?
grimaces How fast was I going?
When I first pointed the radar at you, you were going 57 and by the time I could click in, you were at 53. This is a 35 zone, residential.
Yeah. Do you have your license and some registration?
Uh yeah, sure. Here's my license Christian rifles through glove compartment and is this registration?
Looks at it. Can I have your passenger's license too?
I'll be back. 2 minutes later walking back to our car, speaking to someone else. I'm just going to give them a warning. Hands back licences and registration. Drive slower.
Hi. Oh, thank you.
So on my second time getting pulled over in my life, I didn't get a speeding ticket thankfully but I also didn't cry. Only small shakes. Shortly after this, carefully going the speed limit, we exited Nevada and went back into California, but we had to get a picture of course. It was raining, which is really cool because it hasn't rained in California since I got here, but Tahoe has seasons.
Christian was trying to navigate us on a blurry cached map while I drove in the rain in the dark making sure I was going the speed limit, and it took us a really long time to find the restaurant. We went way past it before, went down two side streets and back, into an education centre accidentally and then back ten minutes in the opposite direction. Finally we got in and had to wait to be seated. It looked like a pretty fancy restaurant. And it was. The food was amazing though, I think the best I've ever had. The restuarant had 5 stars, with only a couple people rating it below that. The atmosphere was perfect, the lighting and music. My only complaint was the size of the tables, which sounds like a weird complaint, but I was really far away from Christian and could barely hear him. The waiters were old people so you knew it was a fancy place.
The restaurant was in a hotel, and as we've discovered, every hotel has kind of a business centre. We realized that it was about 11:00 at night and our chance of getting an Airbnb room was very very slim. We used the computer to look for a cheap motel to spend the night in, as we had no service on our phones still, and it was hard to find one on such short notice. The only decent one we found, a two star hotel with 4 star reviews was in Carson City, Nevada which is the capital of Nevada, who knew. That was only an hour drive away. That was okay, we could wait the hour drive to find it.
We crossed back into Nevada, driving on the highway below a supermoon lighting our way with the lake on our right side this time, another beautiful phenomenon I'm really happy we got to see. Christian promptly fell asleep again. We spent the night in Carson City in a cute motel with a living room/kitchen area and a separate bedroom, falling asleep after watching the new episode of Korra.
Monday, August 04, 2014
The weekends are never long enough.
I mean, I still stand by that statement, but that's what I was thinking early Saturday morning as we rode to the San Jose airport to pick up our rental car to drive to Lake Tahoe this weekend. That was a positive outlook on what a turned around day it eventually ended up being. The line was okay, there were only about 12 people in front of us, but when we got to the lady, she told us she had been there since 5 in the morning and obviously she was tired and cranky.
Now the thing is, we rented a car last weekend, right? Well, Christian handed her his credit card and license. She looks at it, back at him and says "Your license is expired". Okay, Christian tells her that I would be driving, and that's okay. She asks for my license and credit card. I tell her I don't have a credit card. I ask if a bank card and/or passport would do. We want to charge Christian's credit card but I want to drive. My bank card won't swipe. Of course it won't swipe it's a Canadian bank card and I've never used the swipe because chip. She starts getting angry, like why can't she just type the information in, we've already paid for the reservation/rental.
So she tells us she can't do it because it won't swipe and I don't have a goddamn credit card. We leave her and Christian calls the customer service number for Hertz. We ask if it would be okay to use a prepaid card to hold and change the payment at the end. They say yes, that will work, just make sure to change the payment at the end. We call a Lyft, go to a 7-11 a ten minute drive away, they tell us you can only buy it with cash. We try to withdraw from the ATM at the back of the store. No luck. So we go to a Bank of America, I withdraw money, we find a 76 store, go in there and they tell us no prepaid cards. We go back to the 7-11. Buy it. Try to set it up. You seen an SSN apparently. I don't have one because I'm not an American citizen. We try to call the number to get a operator. No answer. The automated voice just keeps repeating "I'm sorry I didn't catch that. Enter your card number". We call another line for already set up cards. It just buzzes, no voice, no anything. We try the refund number and the guy says you can set it up without an SSN and puts us back to the automated voice, who then asks for an SSN. 4 times and then it skips through that and it's ready to go, finally.
We go back to the girl. No line this time. She's even grumpier. She says she can't swipe the prepaid card, they don't do that. Christian tells her that's what the people on the customer service line said was okay to do. She says no for sure. Christian asks for her manager, who is over on the other end. She waves her hand towards him and says goodbye. He also says no dice. He can't help us. They can't rent a car to us. Christian and I both have what the other needs to rent a car, apparently, with his expired license and my lack of a credit card. It was frustrating, to say the least. I was looking forward to Tahoe and going into Nevada.
So we went to get bubble tea. And go to Great America again.
It was fun, and we went on some of the rides we missed last time, the big scary rollercoaster ones. But we went on a Saturday, and also on Guest Appreciation Day, so the park was packed. We waited in line for hot dogs for about an hour, which is weird because you think they'd be more efficient at a park where lots of people are. There were so many lines. Some looked shorter, but wrapped around behind the ride, and it's hard to feel like you're not in a game of Rollercoaster Tycoon, really.
Christian does this terrified scream like he thinks he's going to die which makes the kids next to him grin and laugh and elbow their friends. On the last ride we went on, it actually kind of genuinely felt like the ride was derailing the entire time.
By the end of the day we were exhausted and our feet hurt and we won a hippo from spending $10 on a game, but no other wins. We got a funnel cake to finish off a fun day and called Uber and had to walk a couple blocks to the driver because the police had blocked off streets for a Levis event, which doesn't make sense. We watched an episode of Orange is the New Black and headed to bed. We were so sleepy. Having this much fun and bouncing around and screaming does make for a tired Jess.
We woke up yesterday to tacos from Taco Bell for breakfast. Casey had gone and got 16 of them and let us help her eat them. They were so good, why haven't I eaten more Taco Bell in my life? Joe and Casey invited us to the beach with them in Santa Cruz, of course we said yes. We had planned on going to the Mystery House, but perhaps another day this week.
It was a nice drive through the mountains, and we arrived in Santa Cruz. We found a place that rolled pennies into things that had to do with Santa Cruz and it felt illegal, because isn't altering currency illegal? Oh well, we ended up with something pretty cool.
There was a boardwalk and rides and fun things to do along the beach, I don't think I've ever been on a boardwalk before. Christian and I got fudge to start the day. We walked into a fun house and lost Casey and Joe so we went down to the beach. There were a lot of people there, many had set up tents and barbeques and had snacks and everything. We found an empty area near the water and Christian started digging.
Just a hole. He was using mostly his hands and feet so he was showing up all the little kids who had their buckets and shovels. He even built a wall in front of the hole and me so the water wouldn't get in.
While I took pictures of birds, Christian dug.
At the point where it was a fair size, Christian had kids coming over and wowing over his hole. He even ended up recruiting a bunch. It turned into quite the operation. Joe and Casey showed up and Joe wanted in on the hole digging as well. Christian eventually caved and bought some shovels and buckets from the gift shop.
This is the look of concentration. Holes need to be dug. The sand calls to him.
This is the wall, which got many times bigger. A picture with the water behind it. I like pretending I'm a photographer.
Christian was hard at work for about 2-3 hours, even after the kids had to leave.
As we left, people were gathering around it, marvelling at it's beauty. They had dug so deep they hit water and kept making it bigger.
The little blonde girl, Angelina, was a fierce bossy little kid who was bossing Joe and Christian around. She got feisty with Christian when he wouldn't listen to her and ended up clocking him in the head with a shovel. He has a nice little wound to commemorate his hole-digging.
We walked down the boardwalk to take a look, and Casey and Joe wanted to introduce us to and make us try some delicious US-certified food. We got some Dippin Dots, which is freeze dried ice cream that looks like packaging and is so cold it hurts the mouth. We also tried deep fried twinkies, garlic fries, fancy stuffed churros and churro sundaes. We didn't try it, but the size of a Texas Donut is as big as my face. Can you imagine one person eating all that? US citizens can. We stopped at one of those games where you squirt water into a thing something like this. Christian ended up winning, and he's pretty happy with his prize.
We walked back to the car as the sun was setting.
Then we drove into downtown Santa Cruz and went to a Tiki Bar, where they served amazing drinks in cups like this which also had three different kinds of rum in it:
We stayed there for a couple hours, eating and laughing and using the awesome and controversial conversation cards the bar had sitting on the bartop. A good end to the weekend, and we're planning on heading back in a couple weekends to explore Santa Cruz some more.
Monday, July 28, 2014
San Francisco, San Francisco, San Francisco.
I think it's a place I've always wanted to go. You would see it on tv as a hilly city, apparently the setting of That's so Raven. You hear Golden Gate Bridge, trolley street cars, Alcatraz, crooked streets and you think of SF. It's not very far from where we live, only about a forty minute drive I think. Miles per hour are harder to estimate than kilometers per hour, like if I'm going 100kph for 100 kilometers, it'll take me an hour. But if I'm going 60mph for 42 miles, it doesn't work as nicely in my head. It probably does work out, I realized as I was writing that 60mph for 60 miles is one hour. Whoops.
Anyway, we decided to rent a car this weekend and go up there, because I've never been there and Christian's been there three times already. But he tried his hardest not to look at things. We rented a car from Hertz, and I had no idea that such young people like us could rent a car. We're only 21! There was an extra fee for "underage driver", but we got it nonetheless.
Christian's license expired on his birthday this year, so I got to do all (most) of the driving. The real driving anyway. I was excited and nervous about driving in the city and on such big lane highways. I haven't driven in over a year, I think. Since I drove the van last June? Anyway, it's been a while, and I know it's like riding a bike and you don't forget, it's just the little things, like freaking out in a lot of traffic that I was nervous about.
We got there expecting to drive away in an economy car, a Kia Rio. I thought it was so cute and exciting and a tiny little car, but the lady was so nice and said we could upgrade for only $30 a day for a fun car. We went with the fun car.
It took a while to get back in the swing of things, as in driving, but we made it to San Francisco, and got lost in traffic and I had a little freak out there but that was my only one! I got used to it quickly and by the end of the weekend I was super confident in my driving and in the size of the car. It's a big car!
Driving from Cupertino to San Francisco meant the air temperature dropped in an uncomfortable way. We started at about a 37 degree day and it dropped down to about 21 when we reached San Francisco. Chilly!
When we got into the city, we got a milkshake, mint oreo with banana and headed somewhere towards the Golden Gate Bridge, driving through a park using Waze (which is an amazing app and took us around the busy areas not through them like Google). We stopped at a place with a beautiful view, and walked down a lot of stairs and kind of accidentally upon a beach, which we quickly discovered was a nude beach. But the only people that were naked were old men, and there were two stationed at the entrance turned towards the stairs. We run-walked towards the water. Oddly enough, you can't swim in it because of the currents, and apparently the water in the Pacific Ocean is really cold, even by Canadian standards. So everyone was just sunbathing on the beach and climbing the rocks.
We both touched the Pacific Ocean, the third one we've been in or touched, the other two being the Atlantic and the Indian. Exciting stuff! I'm a little scared to try to swim in it because it actually is pretty cold.
We found one side of the Golden Gate at the beach, the area was an odd mix of city on one side, the water in front of you, a pretty expansive beach and then the Golden Gate on the other side. We went quasi-rock climbing to get to see the bridge better.
The picture of the stairs going down were only part of the stairs we had to climb to get back to the car, it was brutal and we were both panting and just laid in the car for a while after we got to the top, sweating and catching our breath. We need cardio in our lives I guess.
We went to find the other side of and potentially cross the Golden Gate, we ended up stuck in a really long line of traffic for a while. We got to a parking lot and by chance it had a nice view of the bridge.
With a typical view of SF the other way.
After that we went to find a burger place to eat. The parking situation is even worse than it is in Halifax, if you'd believe it. There are so many people and they all want to drive and it took us a really long time to just find a place to park. We still had to walk 20 minutes to get to the restaurant. That's something I should have expected with a bigger city was more people but I guess I wasn't expecting it and it was flustering.
Our burgers were amazing though. Something I really like about here is with the prevalence of low carb diets like Paleo, Atkins, Keto, restaurants are supporting it. We had the option of getting a lettuce wrapped burger, which would have been perfect for me and it wasn't the only place that offered something like that, but I'm on vacation and I wanted a real bun.
We drove across the Golden Gate after that, looking for mountains and ended up turning right around and coming back into San Francisco to drive up Twin Peaks. We wanted to watch television in the mountains. So romantic, all Christian's idea. This wasn't the ideal place, but it still had a lovely view and drunk people but we watched a new epsiode of Korra and an episode of Orange is the New Black with the twinkling lights of the city all around us.
We drove home after those two episodes, we were both pretty tired at that point, and went back Sunday morning to see what the view looked like in the daytime. It was beautiful.
A bunch of people from Christian's work were going to a Giant's game, so we stumbled across that and stayed for a bit at AT&T Park. Finding parking first was a nightmare though, again. I think it took us an hour to just find parking. Maybe more. Previously we had gotten lost even trying to find the place. We finally got in in the 3rd inning I think. The Giants ended up losing, so we saw the best parts of the game I like to believe, because we left before it was over to get some other activities in before we had to return the car.
There was also a nice view of the Bay Bridge, the slightly lesser known and more dull one.
When we checked the lists of what to do in San Francisco, Coit Tower made a lot of them. So we decided to go there. Apparently if you start at the bottom, you climb about 400 steps before you're at the top. We unknowingly bypassed those by driving all the way to the top, and I guess that's okay, because we already had our share of stair climbing. It was nice. San Francisco for tourists seems to be mainly about the views of the city, and it's not a small city like people say, but coming from someone with a graduating class of 40 I guess I lose credibility for knowing what a big city is.
Christian managed to snag a lot of beautiful shots, he's growing his photographer eye.
After that we found a pizza place, because guess what we both love pizza. It was okay, a litte fancier than we would have liked, but the funny part was getting in. We walked in and asked to be seated for two, and the guy told us it was a half hour wait for walk-ins. We asked to do takeout and he told us to order from the bartender. We figured out what we wanted and ordered and then two seats opened up at the bar. We slid into them and got our drinks and asked that the order be changed to for here. I think we kind of beat the system, we ate from plates and got complementary soup appetizers.
The thing I definitely wanted to hit up was Lombard Street before we left, it's a long street with very steep angles. Think driving up a road at more than a 45 degree angle, you can't see the road, just sky. It was a little unnerving, but we found this part, what Christian called the Slalom. "The Crookedest Street", as my grandmother called it. She recommended it and I wanted to get everything done on the list she made for me. It was amazing. I drove down it and then we went back up so Christian could drive down it.
We didn't plan this trip out so thoroughly, as we just wanted to get away for the weekend. Next couple of weekends are going to have a slight bit more of a rigid structure to them. We're going to try to get to Napa Valley on our way back next weekend, as we didn't get to hit it up this weekend. It takes a bit more planning than just going, especially on a Sunday. There are so many beautiful sites and I already can't wait for next weekend to be here.
We also didn't get to make it to Alcatraz, because I guess that's something that you book like, three weeks in advance and tickets go fast. We saw it from afar, and it's on our list of things to do, to actually go. We have a free weekend coming up soon, and I think we're going to try for that.
This isn't even close to all the pictures we took, I wanted to add more, there are so many bad ones with us making really weird faces.
Did you know: San Francisco has so much "fog" because of a Marine Layer which happens when cold water meets on the surface layer a warm air mass.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Last Saturday we slept in until one. In the afternoon. We didn't even end up going to bed that late, but that meant our plan to visit a mystery house was off, because in four hours we had to take our roommate, Joe to the movies. The tour there is two hours and it's about a ten minute drive away, so we ended up sitting around for the four hours until we left. In his Tesla. Which is pretty awesome.
We went to see the new Planet of the Apes movie, which I didn't even really want to see, but I liked it more than I expected to. It was pretty engaging, and I think I'd recommend it for a time killer. Speaking of which, I definitely do not want to go see the Ninja Turtles movie. And Christian, please do not take me to see the 50 Shades of Grey movie for Valentine's Day next year, it looks terrible. Please.
We were the distraction for one of our other roommates, Joe's girlfriend Casey to set up for the surprise party she had planned, for his birthday this weekend coming and last day of freedom before he goes to work at Google. After the movie finished, Joe went to Safeway to pick up party supplies for the party he thought he was having on Sunday and Casey ended up calling him and telling him she was freaking out over the toilet overflowing and not knowing what to do. Joe literally ran out of the grocery store, us trying to catch up.
We get home and it was a real surprise party, with the walking in and surprise being yelled and Joe wanting to leave again because he didn't know what to do with himself. Overall really great. A lot of people showed up and there was a lot of food and some drinking and it was really nice.
It also bled into Christian's birthday, which led to him taking his first drink as a 21 year old and subsequent shots.
The next morning, Christian's birthday we had decided to go to California's Great America, which has rides and a water park. We went to Starbucks for breakfast so we could quickly leave. I wanted a more extravagent breakfast, but none were within walking distance and we were running late and Christian insisted that Starbucks was fine and has really good breakfast. We ended up coming back to the house because Christian's phone was dying and Christian invited Joe and Casey along. Joe decided to come with us.
We got there and went on a terrifying roller coaster to begin the day at the water park, the biggest one I've ever been on. Joe decided not to come on that. We went on some pretty standard rides like the water logger ride and ate, and when we got to the water park it started to get overcast, so it got a little chilly. Oh well. It was fun. Then we went on the lazy river and got out and Joe said he was really itchy and was starting to get bumps all over his skin and said his feet were going numb. I guess the chili dog and fries he got was cooked in shrimp oil and he was having an allergic reaction because of his allergy to shellfish. He wasn't feeling well, so he went home, where Casey drugged him up with Benadryl and put him to bed.
We got pictures with Snoopy, despite a sign saying not to crawl on Snoopy.
We went on a few more water rides and decided to go on that ride where it brings you up really high and then drops you and you feel like you're going to die. I've always wanted to go on one. I was super confident, but as we started to get closer to the front of the line I was freaking out a bit and Christian was being Christian about it. We strapped in and started going upwards, and upwards and it was terrifying how far up we were and I was scared and then we dropped and I almost peed myself. But we lived through it and went on another roller coaster.
Christian's phone died so we left the park and found a Hilton hotel and went to the business centre to see if we could order a Lyft (which is better than a taxi for my Canadian friends), but ended up only being able to order through Uber (less good) on a web browser. We made it home though, in time to make some cake. I made a Lemon Blueberry Layer cake for Christian with Cream Cheese frosting, and it turned out amazing. This cake took us more time to eat than the last cake we had, this time about four days.
And a couple days ago we got bubble tea here, which was supposed to be part of Christian's birthday, but the day was already too packed. This means we've had bubble tea in three countries, and this stuff was really good. And cheap.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
We're renting a room in a house on the outskirts of Cupertino, nestled in a place called Sunnyvale and living in a bird neighborhood. Like actually. The streets are named things like Quail St., Peacock Ave., Blue Jay Rd., etc. I love how this is a place where you can actually have an orange or lemon tree, grow a cactus and palm trees and lizards the size of birds. I feel like this is somewhere I could live and be happy with the temperature and the culture. Maybe someday. I need to travel more first. People don't hold doors open or say sorry and do honk at you, and I think that's something I certainly miss about being in Canadia, which our Lyft driver called it the other night. Oh, and donair sauce.
We seem to be living in the middle of an Asian part of town, except it's a really large part. A couple nights ago we tried to find a simple Italian restaurant and couldn't find one within a two hour walk. It was Chinese food like Dim Sum, Indian food, Thai food, Vietnamese Pho and sushi. We ended up at a TGI Fridays, which is very sub par, akin to our Smitty's. We did have a peanut butter pie for dessert, which made the meal a thousand times better. Cupertino is certainly not a walking town like Halifax, and I say this as someone who really enjoys going for walks. For fun.
In the midst of this strangely Asian dominated area, I found a Starbucks within walking distance of the house. I ordered an iced vanilla latte, only 190 calories and sat down at an empty table outside. It was 28 degrees outside and there's a warm breeze blowing my hair around and bringing the smell of flowers to me, but a huge umbrella was shading me from the sun. I wish I had brought my laptop because this would be a lovely way to get some work done, it's strangely relaxing, very beautiful. There are conversations going on around me, mixed with the sound of cars and construction of the Apple spaceship campus across the road. I could stay there for hours.
Does this make me a basic bitch? I don't care (no I don't think it does...actually I'm pretty sure it doesn't why did I say that). I might order a grande iced caramel macchiato next. I also found a Subway within walking distance and went a little further to see if I could find the McDonalds I saw on our way home from the gym. Its within walking distance but who walks to a McDonalds? I also stumbled upon a Michaels. Consider my day made. I spent like, two to three hours in there. Definitely going to go back once I can solidify some craft ideas.
Friday, July 11, 2014
Jess on an adventure to California where she can't brag about it being warm because it's warm in Canada right now
Grass. As Canadians we have grass. We have it because it rains and snows and is generally wet with the exception of like, 3 dry days. California, on the other hand is currently in a drought, it hasn't rained for a while and I'm under the impression that this happens every year. You know where it also happens? Australia. Because Australia is a huge desert. I guess California is a little deserty too. But it's interesting to note that Californians, or Americans, still water their lawn quasi-religiously. There is a lot of green grass here, and if you leave your lawn without watering it for a couple days it burns and dries up and is a brown lawn. Australians have given up on having a lawn, choosing to have mulch or rock or dirt, maybe because their drought regulations are stricter, maybe because Americans are a little superficial and judge things like that and want the finer things like grass. Which I'm pretty sure is a status symbol for some odd reason.
On another hand, I've been in California for a couple days, a weekend really. I like being "the Canadians" to people, I think it's hilarious. We had a really fun Fourth of July, we joined our roommates at a friends house with a lot of other people and got to play with sparklers and eat lots of food and play catchphrase and drink hard cider, which is really good and tastes like real apple juice, haha. People were setting off fireworks in every direction and they weren't supposed to be including in the middle of the street where we were, so that was really cool.
The sparklers kept hitting me in my body and they hurt.
We went to San Jose shopping on Saturday, Christian got a pair of Ray Bans which he is pretty excited about. The shopping centre was huuuge. And I got a phone plan so I'm mobile everywhere. Phone plans here are so much better. Gah.
And Sunday we went mini-golfing! So much fun, I haven't done it in so many years! I got a couple hole-in-ones and I won the first game we played, yay me! We ended up playing 37 holes, two courses and we redid one because of the lineup on the next hole. It's hot here and it was a hot walk and we got a nutella shake and I'm really nutella'd out.
Turns out we're both pretty not good at golf.
But this week was a little bit sad and slightly lonely after the nice reunion weekend we had. I spent most of the days alone, laying in bed. I went on reddit, had a nap, rolled around, watched Gossip Girl (I know, you don't need to tell me) and didn't really even get dressed. Oh, and I ate a banana. Actually lots of bananas.
We did see a couple movies, Edge of Tomorrow and 22 Jump Street, both were so good. Our list right now is huge.
Tonight we made our own donair sauce, because 'Merica doesn't know what the wonders of it is. Tsk tsk. It actually tasted like real donair sauce from back home and was amazing with pizza (whoops!). Also they don't know what garlic fingers are. Or donairs. But they have so much good stuff, like boston cream yoghurts and Dove chocolates and liquor in grocery stores. So handy. Will report back.
We have a lot of stuff planned for the following weekends, which I'm really excited about. Hopefully hitting all the big touristy things.
Thursday, July 03, 2014
Pilot episode / setting: in an airport like in that movie where that guy is stuck in an airport.
I usually like airports. And I love flying. What I don't like is how the International Flights section in the Halifax airport is set up. Navigating it alone is a feat in itself. Also, apparently United Airlines makes you pay to check a bag when you're landing in the US. I've never had to do that before and I'm kind of mad about it. I also weighed my bag before I left and it was only 45 pounds so I thought I was in the clear. It ended up in a weird section that looked bad and now I'm scared I'm going to have to pay an overweight bag fee. Even though I'm sure it wasn't overweight.
They also don't take your bags at the counter here, apparently. You have to go into security and drop it off. I've never done that before, so I was confused when I was walking in, just walking in the doorway and this Indian guy who works at the airport came over and started yelling at me. I didn't understand what was going on and he's yelling at me telling me to read the thing on the wall and I'll know what to do. It's hard to understand that kind of thing when you're under pressure and you've got a seemingly very grumpy man breathing at your face. He's yelling "Can't you read?! You read English?!" and I said yes, but he grabs my bag and does it, pointing ferociously at the wall where the very vague instructions are that I've never done before.
I almost cried. I don't deal well with situations like that when someone's yelling at me and I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I got through security fine, no bag checks because I was smart about it this time and had the preclearance lady raise an eyebrow at me when I said I was going on a two month vacation to California. I promise I'm not going to find a job here, I only want to see my boyfriend. I've only had a couple hours of sleep and I'm here at 5 o'clock in the morning just like you guys. I'm tired too, I get it.
I still have an two and a half hours before I board my first flight to Dulles, Washington. It's not actually a 12 hour flight, but I'll spend 9 hours total flying, and three waiting in airports. More now because we got here super early. Oh well, I'll finish my work term report. Overall, not a terribly good start to my day, but I'm hoping for it to get better. Who knows, they may turn me around in Washington and send me back here. But let's be optimistic.
There's an old couple sitting near me, and she hasn't stopped bitching at him for over half an hour. Since they got here. She hasn't stopped talking, no bitching and he's just trying to read his book. It kind of reminds me of this time I was at the gym and saw a girl and guy working out and the girl talked non-stop throughout her workout. When she was doing the exercises, when she was waiting for him to do his exercises, when they were walking around. Then I looked into the hallway a little later and they were standing there and she was still talking, him not saying anything other than mhm and nodding. I overheard her talking about drama with her friend Tracy. And that's why you don't take a girl to the gym.
I was just on a plane for six hours, so that was fun. And then before that for 2 hours. At some point a dad behind me switched places with his kid and he kicked my chair for a while. Like kicked. Like you see in the movies. Like actual kicking on my seat. My legs hurt and it's actually 3:10PM here, but I'm happy. I'm in California! Finally, after all that waiting. In an hour I'll be boarding my plane to San Jose to finally see Christian and I cannot wait. I'm going to pee myself. I don't know how it's 12 hours later already, I have absolutely no idea where the time went or how to justify it to you, but it is.
I've made it. LA isn't very pretty, but San Jose seems very warm and friendly. I finally got to see Christian again and we stuffed our faces with food from the Apple cafeteria. Very good stuff, some curry and mango smoothie and more smoothie drinks. It's all amazing. I met all my roommates and I think it's going to be a good summer. I'm really excited, my day definitely got better from this morning! I can't wait to be in the warmth and lovelyness and have a relaxing summer. Finally heading to bed, it's been a long day and I get to celebrate America day tomorrow! :)
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Friday I watched my baby brother graduate. Not my babyest of brothers, but the middle one. Friday I also finally finished my classes for real. I finished my exams on Tuesday and had an essay due yesterday, which means I slept for most of the day and wondered why I had so little time at the end. I made it though. Without dying or going insane. I think any longer would have actually made me go crazy.
It was weird seeing someone who I used to make cry on a regular basis graduate. It was also weird seeing people who I haven't talked to in upwards of 2 and a half years. I was friendly though, and as confident as I can be I suppose. Coming back to Tata makes me feel like my confidence almost regresses back to where it was when I was in middle school, which is kind of sad, but I don't know what to do about it.
Well, Jamie's a big boy now, looking older than I do. Going to PEI. I can't get over how weird it is.
Last night we had a bonfire with some family, which was a lot of fun. We had a barbeque in the garage and roasted some marshmellows and entertained some kidlets just like some people who live out in the sticks do, also we drove around on the lawn mower for fun. How much more sticksy can we get?
I also cuddled with the sookiest dog ever, Jakers. He loves me.
I also caught some fireflies for the first time, we ran out around the front yard chasing after them and brought them back to put in a cup. Brandon picked up some mating ones. They look weird, not at all like I expected. If I saw one in the daylight, I wouldn't even recognize it.
In other news, it's less than a week until I head down to California. Leaving for the airport at 4:30AM and flying for 12 hours is going to be so cool. I can't wait to go through customs to get into the US. My favourite.