Wednesday, October 31, 2012

This is Halloween!

Best holiday all year!
Clockwise from top left: 
1) Former neighbors Spiderman and Madam Butterfly (Nathaniel and Vivien)
2) Homecoming Queen 2012 and her lair
3) Homecoing Queen 2001's boyfriend
4) Cutest gnome there ever was, Miles
5) Nate aka Mr. Mickey Mouse

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Nerds live here

Our plan started with an entire Winterfell theme, but Scott's direwolf proved to be tougher than expected. So, we have the Stark's words and a Wi-Fi symbol.

Virtual Yard Signs

We are less than two weeks away from the election and this year I've gone very public with some of my votes. I wouldn't stick my neck out publicly (this includes Internet ads people) if I did not wholeheartedly believe in candidates or issues with the utmost conviction.

I'm far more engaged on a local level than I am with the presidential race. I will always vote for the Commander in Chief but my state has that already decided no matter my choice. And, local issues reach me quicker than national mandates.

Turns out, four years into marriage, I've come to the point in my personal politics where I want to put signs in the yard. Also, turns out my husband has declared we are a "no sign in the yard" family. Blerg. Good thing I have this blog that has influence on the interwebs (hah!) and where I am the supreme and only author. I will concede that if we had signs in our yard, they certainly wouldn't blend well with my Halloween decor. I may still hand out buttons with my Reese's.

With that, I give you my very public virtual yard sign ballot. It does not encompass all, I will still vote on everything else, this is just what I am passionately in favor of:

I loved volunteering for this campaign. It was my first time knocking on doors with flyers and holding a Happy Hour meet and greet in a candidates' honor. At the end of the day, even if it does not go how I'd like, she's run a great and clean campaign.
Yep, that's my face. Find it on every website near you in Fullerton. There's also a commercial running on local Time Warner stations.
I just Googled a picture of a Ron Paul yard sign. A guy really does have one in my neighborhood, but that's a cute girl and she supports my write-in vote.
See you at the polls November 6!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Isn't it ironic

100,000 miles and I get a letter for a recall notice on the Civic's 2003 low beam headlights. No big deal...complimentary fix. While you're at it, check the brakes please.

Yeah right, about one million dollars later, and my arm bracket bushings have collapsed and engine mounts are broken, and since everything has been lifted out of the engine, a realignment is recommended of course. Womp womp.

The good news-brakes are fine and the recall fix went well. Truly I can't complain, there have been no major issues beyond the locks, so now the maintenance begins. The timing belt needs replacing, but I'll think about that tomorrow.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


And in just a hair under ten years. She's taken me to college, our wedding, first job, Scott's current job, up and down California, the Grand Canyon, Vegas, and our first house. Not retiring her yet!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Friday Night Lights

We relived the glory days last night at our high school's 50th anniversary homecoming game at good old Glover Stadium.

In honor of the occasion, the current ASB asked all previous homecoming queens and kings back to be part of the halftime show. So, with Scott and Kerri as my dates we went, sat in the VIP section with about 20 other royals, some more recent than others, and watched the show unfold.

As nice as it was to be asked back to stand on the field with fellow alumni, I was ashamed at how under-dressed I was for the occasion. But, my rationale remains--it was a football game and I was not the star of the show. Also, directions were unclear, so I am actually glad I was not one of the women who received a phone call instructing them to wear a formal dress and crown. I may have been one of only two in jeans, but again, it was a football game and not my day to be the star.

Going back to Loara brings back such great memories, especially on that field with the dance team. It's a shame that the team no longer exists, and hasn't for a number of years, but a reminder that times do change. and, that I need to convert the camcorder dance videos to DVD so I can truly have a binge reliving the glory days.
Photo credits to Kerri!
Quite honestly the best part of the night was coincidentally meeting up after the game with Kerri's parents Dave and Kelli, and their/our friends Bill and Kartha, also alums, downtown. Made for a very fun and lively Friday evening, though Rob was definitely missed!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Quito-Day 3/Home

Andrew, our guide who picked us up from the Quito airport yesterday and coincidentally, our previous arrival and departure from here. Our pick up time would be 540 am-not bright but very early.

The first call came at 330 am with no words besides a "yep." Naturally I started worrying that he said 540 meaning 450, but distinctly remembered the concierge setting up a coffee service to our room for 530 AND Andrew reminding us we'd need to be at the airport 3 hours before our international flight, so we dozed as best you can following a 330 phone call.

430-a knock at the door-room service. I answer, and then reconfirm our clocks are correct, they are, and by now, resign to getting up and dressed. We've got about 15 hours of travel ahead of us and I'm glad I also took Monday off.

Our flights home were not noteworthy besides both being about an hour late, but with as many as we took, I suppose that's not too bad. We had dinner in Miami at The Counter-a celebratory dinner of burgers to be back in the USA.

It was an amazing trip, and the right length for us to do exactly what we wanted. I'm ridiculously proud at the physical achievement and to see a piece of the world that is so remote that the journey really was a major part of reaching the destination.

In the end, there is no place like home, your own bed, and Target for all of my pharmacy needs.

Galapagos-Days 4-5/Quito Day 2

Day 4
A day of rest, reading, relaxation, multiple naps, refreshment, nursing the lava rock injury, and lobster.

Day 5
We left our hotel at 8 am, bound for an auto, ferry and bus ride to the airport for a day of travel. After as many flights as we've been on this trip (nearing 10) I think we could give the emergency exit spiel.

Our flight landed in Quito at 4pm and we headed to the same hotel we'd stated in previously. After many drinks (Friday, holla!) and dinner in the bar, we retreated for our 540 am call that would take us home.

Galapagos-Day 3

Our tour was set to depart at 8 am, late compared to our recent departures. We set the alarm for 7 to get breakfast in and ready in plenty of time. Oh, but someone at the hotel got it wrong, twice. Even though we confirmed it twice, turns out the pick up time was 650.

As luck would have it I got up early to wash my face and put in my contacts so when the call came at 710 and again at 716 I did my best to stay cool amidst the fire alarm start.

I hate rising in such a manner because I knew I'd forget something as I haphazardly threw out essentials into the backpack.

We set off on a 30 second ride to the dock where we boarded a boat ride from hell. I blame myself for not asking enough questions about the tour and the staff for not divulging enough information.

The boat ride one was was 2.5 hours. If motion sickness is genetic I have my mom to thank, because it was miserable. I was finding the silver lining in missing breakfast as riders lost their own meals, but when the boat stopped in the middle of the Pacific so people could use the loo, that boat rocked like no earthquake I ever want to experience and I lost it. I was sitting away from Scott who does not suffer from such ailments, on the rear of the boat, where the constant wind in my face helped ease some of the pain. I heard another guest and American from our hotel say the tour better be worth the boat ride, as I hung my head between my legs, smelling gasoline and kimchi.

Mercifully when the boat docked, I found a small store and bought Ritz crackers and water to help settle my stomach. We then boarded a bus on what would be a lame trip and worst day of this vacation.

C'est terrible.

Granted the animals we saw were not behind cages, but it still felt like a zoo trip, perhaps due to the rapid pace of the day- 5 hours was to be spent on the boat. We saw wild flamingoes, penguins, sea lions, sharks, rays, and sea turtles. I'm glad I can say I snorkels in the Galapagos with sea turtles and Scott the eagle, manta, and sting rays. Something about their size freaks me out so I climbed back in the boat when they were found.

Penguins...and a blue footed booby.

After snorkeling it was nearly 3 pm, time to head back, and the point in the day I'd been dreading. We took a seat inside the boat this time, and I had hopes of the return journey feeling faster.

Not having spent a ton of time on boats nor knowing how to manage one, I can't accurately describe the scene returning-if the water was rough or the captain a poor driver, or some combo of the two. We pounded the water at each swell, what felt like a crash that shook the crates on board, and so much I have a bruise on my tail bone. But beyond that, at a few points (yes, multiple) I considered taking the walkie and demanding SOS when we ran out of gas three bloody times in the open water. Again, the lurching of the boat combined with the rank scent of gasoline permeating the air had me convinced I'd never have children as my eggs were probably destroyed by the fumes and thinking about giraffe legs of all things.

Again, I lost it...everything. The final engine issue came when we were 20 minutes from land and I truly considered leaving my pack and swimming. The smell was unbearable and I felt so wretched. The cherry on top was when I heard the guide say we'd only be able to use one motor, so it would be more like 45 minutes back to land. Though Scott had not lost his lunch, he did lose his cool. Stranded, on the ocean, in a foreign country, on a boat with an inept captain and your puking wife next to you could undue any man.

At some point in my stupor I heard the second engine kick in and Scott stopped rubbing of my back- we had arrived. We exited the boat onto a taxi ferry which would take us to dock. Scott snapped pictures of the company's name and boat, no doubt to write a great letter later. As the boat met the dock I lept off, dismissing the Spanish warnings to wait until they had tied whatever rope knots needed tying. I would never disrespect someone in a foreign country, but in that moment I needed firm land and fresh air.

Because we were so late in returning we didn't bother looking for our car, but walked the 5 minutes back to the hotel. The shower helped, and subsequent rest, and even light dinner of soup later.

We feel duped for going on the tour, but perhaps are alone in those thoughts. Others may have had a great time and more balanced inner ear, but I would say that would be our do-over day.

Galapagos-Day 2

As has been the theme of the trip, we woke early and breakfasted at around 7 am. I should note that by now we'd determined Peruvian coffee was supremely better than Ecuadorian.

After breakfast we both fell asleep again hard, for nearly a 3 hour nap. Hey, it was vacation and we put this leg of the journey last for a reason!

After waking and shaking off the grogginess, we decided to check out another area to see the famous tortoises, at the Charles Darwin Nature Center. A 15 minute walk led us there, and the trip was made. These beasts were like nothing I'd ever seen-dinosauresque with a face like Voldemort. It was mind boggling to behold. We walked among the various areas where researchers are successfully breeding various species from the different islands, to then release back into the wild. The preserve also played host to several types of iguanas and until recently, Lonesome George.

Pictures don't do it justice-these things are huge!

On our way back, we checked out a local cemetery and stopped for lunch and split the special- a fresh fish ceviche, soup, popcorn (south Americans love their popcorn) and dessert. This was our BEST meal so far in Ecuador. The ceviche was perfectly limey and fresh, and Scott declared the soups broth the best he'd ever had. And the entire meal with a large beer was only $8.

Above ground graves-you can't dig into volcanic rock.

South Americans really love popcorn as a side.
 We returned to the hotel to rest and read (finishing Game of Thrones and starting a 9th grade harlequin romance, the only English selection in their library) and build up our appetite for dinner. We also secured reservations for the next days excursion to Santa Isabela island.

We knew we wanted to eat seafood for dinner, being the specialty of the region, and so after happy hour at El Jardin, we walked to Cafe del Mar, where we shared a plate of octopus, shrimp, and fish, washed down with a small and large beer. Very good, and smoky from the open flame, but the lunch ceviche still reined supreme.

Quito Day 2/ Galapagos Day 1

Andrew, ever the dependent man, was on time and ready to go at 630 am. We navigated the Quito airport and were checked in in under 25 minutes, even after he had said we'd need to be patient (or practically pleaded in advance for our patience) as he filled out lengthy paperwork for the trip. We think he is used to rather impatient people, as it was a pretty speedy process.

After budding Andrew adieu, we boarded our flight and were on our way.

Flying into the Galapagos was beautiful. I saw a huge pod of dolphins nearly 300 in number, as we descended. Foreigners are required to pay $100 as an entrance fee to the national park upon entrance, for what I assume allows you to enter the many reserves. After obtaining our luggage we boarded a bus, then private ferry, and finally a truck to deliver us to the hotel.

Not our boat; we traveled by private ferry.

Much of the Galapagos Islands are national parks, but there is still some that is private, such as the town we stayed in on Santa Cruz Island, Puerto Aroyo. The islands aren't huge either, we drove from one end to the other in 45 minutes. It was crazy to see the scenery change from arid desert at the airport to lush greenery and botanical flowers as we drive south.

The hotel was the most simplistic of our accommodations this trip, but clean and neat. Unfortunately, the street in front was being torn up and actual dynamite used to eradicate the volcanic rock-something we can't fault anyone for, but a bummer for noise, from 7 am to 10 pm.

After checking in and enjoying a cocktail (now Monday) we set off to find some tortoises and wildlife.

A suggestion from the bartender was Tortuga Bay, a 30 minute paver road that led to a remote beach, lagoon, and haven for iguanas. We saw crabs, pelicans, and finches and other birds galore...but no tortugas.

So many finches.

The only place you'll find cactus trees. Straight out of Dr. Seuss books.

We stumbled upon quite the iguana population. I wanted to turn back because it did not interest me to walk through there with my toes exposed, but we find a path to veer around them.

Walking on the lava was treacherous-it was brittle and deceivingly not always firm. I put my foot through a hole and still carry a bruise and wound. Here I am soaking it in the lagoon.

Pelicans everywhere.

Much like Hawaii or other islands, the weather changes quickly, from blue skies to rain. After about an hour or two of wandering the beach and the menacing clouds above, we turned back, exploring the small town and local lifestyle.

By evening our early rising and traveling fatigue caught up to us and we crashed early.