Is it summer yet?

Is it summer yet?  It must be close because I feel like I am barely treading water right now.  Work is crazy.  Personal life is overbooked. The only thing I seem to be able to cut out is sleeping and exercise.  Not a good idea.  I can't wait for summer.  I am counting down the days!

Last summer I might have overbooked myself with Russia, Ireland, and an Eastern Sierra camping trip.  And by might, I mean I did.  Those trips were great, but at the end of summer I felt like I never really got a chance to catch my breath.  

This summer T and I were going to take a trip to Glacier National Park in the airstream.  He had some projects he wanted to finish in the airstream before we went on the trip, but his skiing fall put a stop to that.  Until two days ago he was going to go on a fly fishing trip in the Florida Keys but now that has been canceled too.

Some other options have presented themselves and we are considering them, but one thing I know for sure is that this summer our house is going to get some love!  I've talked about our house a little bit on this blog and over time it has become our home.  It is small, but I think of it as a sanctuary most of the time.

This summer I have decided to start working on maximizing our kitchen.  We have a galley kitchen and over time we have updated it bit by bit.  It started with a new counter-depth refrigerator (that we scored at Costco for a great price because it didn't say it was a counter-depth fridge!  It pays to know your measurements.) and then a pantry next to that.  T put up a chalk board for me on the wall opposite the stove. The washer and dryer that was in the kitchen was moved to outside when the house was getting re-piped after our awful slab leak.  I put a half bookcase in that space and built a makeshift countertop over it.  T added a few shelves and that space became coffee central for awhile.  The last thing we did was build the hanging pegboard pot rack above and below the chalkboard.
What next?  I like to think of it as Phase 1 of the kitchen cabinets.  In Phase 1, we will be working with the top half of the kitchen.  Our upper kitchen cabinets are attached to a soffit and I want that thing to go so we can raise the kitchen cabinets and get some more storage space.  When you have a small space, every bit of real-estate counts.

So this summer we are going to work on that project.  I am working on a plan and gathering some inspiration on Pinterist.  I am hoping to get this project completed during the month of June.  I will post updates.

Wish us luck!


Joshua Tree weekend

T and I work at different colleges that have different spring breaks.  Mine was before his this year. For mine I went to Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Las Vegas.  If you click the text links, it will take you to my blog entries about each of those trips.  When I got back from my Spring Break, T said he wanted to go to Joshua Tree National Park and asked me to go.  Awesome!  I love me some National Parks!
In the past we would have taken the Airstream on a trip like this but because of T's winter injury, the Airstream was still in Mammoth.  We ended up booking a Motel in Twentynine Palms and making a weekend trip out of it.

I'm not sure if I mentioned this before, but T is a photographer.  We actually met as students in the photography department at OCC and have been together ever since.  Years ago I was a photographer too and did it as my day job.  After awhile photography stopped being fun for me and I decided it was time for a new job.  I think that was the best thing I could have done at the time because it let me enjoy photography again.  I started shooting just for me and loved some of my pictures.  Like my acid looking Joshua Trees above.  I love them.  Others might not, but because I take pictures for me now means I get to be happy with my photos and move on.  That is why I can take photo trips with T again, because they are fun.  Here is T, having fun in Joshua Tree.
He was using an old film field camera on this trip.  I was using my iPhone!  He might have better photos than I do......  But we both had fun!
Joshua Tree had great weather Easter Weekend (the weekend we were there).  Down in Twentynine Palms it got fairly warm, but the elevation rise into Joshua Tree made for nice days.  T is still recovering from knee surgery so we didn't take any long hikes, but we did take a few and even climbed a few boulders near Arch Rock.
We had a great weekend in Joshua Tree.  T took me to Pappy and Harriets in Pioneer Town for lunch, we found a great restaurant for dinner in Twentynine Palms called the Bistro Twentynine and even made it home in time for Easter dinner with the family.  And good thing, because it is going to start getting hot in Joshua Tree soon!


Remembering Winter 2013

Winter 2013 wasn't what I thought it was going to be.  It started off well enough with T and I having ski passes to Mammoth Mountain but on day 21 in a row of skiing for T he fell and messed up his knee.  You can read about that here.  So while I thought Winter 2013 was going to involve a lot of trips to Mammoth to snowboard, the majority of those trips were for T to have knee surgery and see the doctor.  This was no big deal to me as I still got 100 runs in and was really more concerned with T being okay.

Other than that, Winter 2013 was fairly uneventful.  We survived the Whole 30, I got a chance to go to Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Vegas for the first time (even though this might have been part of spring as it was in Spring Break),  and I have been continuing to take Italian.  Work has been nuts but I have been trying to leave work at work, and leave home at home.  So far it is working out pretty well.

I am happy this winter is over.  With spring comes longer days.  T has been recovering really well and I am looking forward to summer break.  I might even be counting down the days..... and I am hoping to catch my breath a little this spring.  Find time to smell the flowers and enjoy my garden.  I think a garden update will becoming soon as I want to show off my Fava Beans!

The winter banner picture was taken on a drive south on Hwy 395, coming home from Lake Tahoe.  This was the view looking over Mono Lake in the winter.


2 nights in Vegas

This is a continuation of Spring Break 2013 (!!!!!!) that consisted of a trip to Zion, Bryce, and Vegas.  To read the start of the journey and get a little back story, please check out 3 nights in Zion.  Then check out 2 nights in Bryce to get to Vegas.

Disclaimer:  I had never been to Vegas before this trip. Unless you count the time T and I stopped at Outdoor World on our way to Yellowstone, which I don't.  So this was my first time in Vegas. I was exactly sure what to expect.

AC has a PHD in Vegas and arranged everything.  We had a fabulous two bedroom, two bath, kitchen,  dining and living room suite at the Elara behind Planet Hollywood.  The first night we saw the Cirque du Soleil show Mystere and the second night we had dinner at Mesa Grill, a Bobby Flay restaurant.
I had the lofty idea to try to walk the strip and see all the hotels and casinos on our second day.  Five hours later I was only 2/3rds of the way through when I decided my cute flats where no longer the best walking shoes.  But it was a great day and fun to see so many sides of Vegas.

People keep asking me how I liked it now that I'm back and I'm not sure what to respond.  I had a great time with my crew and was glad I had gone with people who had been before.  I saw some lavish, over the top things I'm still processing my reactions to some of them.

I almost feel like it was unfair to go from Zion and Bryce (two national parks) to Vegas (an urban jungle) and try to form an opinion about it.  At this particular moment I would prefer the National Parks to Vegas, but I think I should give Vegas one more try.  But not in the summer.....

What about you?  Have you been to Vegas?  What do you think about it?


2 nights in Bryce Canyon

This is a continuation of Spring Break 2013 (!!!!!!) that consisted of a trip to Zion, Bryce, and Vegas.  To read the start of the journey and get a little back story, please check out 3 nights in Zion.

After leaving Zion National Park the Spring Break crew made our way to Bryce Canyon National Park.  We were staying at Ruby's Inn right outside Bryce Canyon.  Upon arriving I noticed two things right away.

1.  It was much colder near Bryce Canyon.  So cold that there was still some snow on the ground in the national park.
2.  Bryce Canyon City (where Ruby's Inn was) wasn't really a city.  It was more of the inn (which was huge) and a gas station.  I learned later that the same family that has owned Ruby's Inn since 1916 also owns the land leading up to Bryce National Park.  They weren't selling the land and that was why they had a monopoly on lodging and places to eat.  Bryce Canyon City was incorporated in 2007.  Very different from Springdale outside of Zion.

The weather in Zion had been warmer than we expected and the weather in Bryce was colder then I expected.  I had packed appropriately and was able to bundle up when needed.

After checking in to the inn, we headed into Bryce Canyon National Park and stopped in at the visitors center, got some hiking ideas and information from the ranger, and then explored the potential campground.  Bryce Canyon is only 18 miles long so it was another smaller national park in terms of what you needed to drive.  After making a game plan for the next day, we headed back to the inn to check out the indoor pool and grab some dinner.

The next morning there were snow flurries when we drove into the park.  We had a morning and afternoon hike planned and we bundled up for the morning hike.  Here we are at Sunrise Point before we hiked the Navajo / Queen's Garden hike.  It was cold!

The hike itself was fabulous and descended into the canyon.  The views were stunning.  The sky was overcast and snow would float about itermidently.  The red walls of the canyon were etched and designed through erosion and I found myself overcome with the beauty of the place.  I don't think a picture can do it justice.....

Between the morning and afternoon hike we drove the length of the canyon (18 miles) and looked at some other options for Mo's class.   By the time we were ready for our afternoon hike the sun had come out and Bryce was a different place.  Layers came off and we started the hike to Tower Bridge.
Even though the morning and afternoon hike started very close to each other, the terrain was so different.  The morning hike was deep in a canyon and the afternoon hike felt like you were walking on the edge of a mountain for a lot of it.  There were places where we had to hike through snow but each turn opened up another amazing vista and it felt like we were hiking in a completely new place.  I guess that is why the park ranger suggested these two hikes so we could see two completely different systems in the park.  My only lesson learned on the Tower Bridge hike is that Tower Bridge was a bit anticlimactic when we got to it and the hike back is all up hill.  Talking with Mo and the group, we discussed if it should be a hike her class takes.  Ultimately we decided that it might be good to hike part of it to see the amazing vistas and to understand the different geography in Bryce.
We spent 2 nights in Bryce Canyon and one very full day hiking and exploring.  The change in weather from the morning to afternoon was unreal in the early spring.  Bryce Canyon City was a trip and I suspect it will be the same the next time I make it to Bryce National Park.  Of course on my next trip I hope to be able to come with T and the airstream!

Next stop: Vegas!