Monday, July 30, 2007

Luna All Women's Triathlon

After 5 hours of sleep the alarm went off at 4am on Saturday and within 30 minutes we were out the door and on our way to north to Portland for another great all women's triathlon. The girls in this photo were there to support their mommies at the race and I think they had a fun day (and got a cute t-shirt). They had a DJ playing chic music not far from my booth so I was able to stay awake for the entire event and had my best sales day ever! The "See Mommy Swim... Bike... Run" t-shirts were a hit and I got to meet some great women at the event.

We were there for about 6 hours and decided that we had such a good time that we would come back again the next day for the Mid-Summer (co-ed) triathlon. On our way home we stopped off in Portland for some shopping at the Title 9 store and discovered the Bermuda triangle of sporty women's shopping: Title 9, Signal, and REI are all within 1 block of each other and my suddenly patient husband took me on my first ever chic shopping spree! He even helped me pick out some capri pants and tops and within an hour and a half we had shopped at all three stores and were back on the road. This doesn't normally happen, at all, ever in my life, that Bill takes me shopping at chic stores. I don't what happened and I'm not asking.

(Pics of girls who competed in the kids triathlon) We got home around 4pm and blasted our way through the final time trial stage of Le Tour thanks to the DVR and then we had to figure out what to do since we rented the canoe (or Keanu as my mom might say) and we had to go back up to Portland the next day for the unplanned triathlon. Did you get that? We had originally planned to spend Sunday morning on the water but since we're devoted tribabers we needed to figure out an alternative time to get on the water. Long story short: we put in on the Willamette River at 7pm and Bill paddled us 10 miles north to Albany in 2.5 hours. Our trip ended in the dark but we had a full moon so it wasn't too scary. The worst of it was that neither one of us had ever done the trip so we didn't know where we were. We got home at 10pm with a bag of take out burgers and got in bed for another 5 hours of sleep before 4am hit and it was back in the car to Portland. I'll post pics from the water and other stuff tomorrow.

Sunday we had a BBQ to get to at 4pm and we didn't get back to town until 3pm so the fun didn't end until 8:30 pm when we both passed out on the couch trying to watch the final stage of Le Tour. I told Bill, "I think we carpe diemed it" and asked him not to burn my carcass which is what I still feel like today.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Canoe or Keanu?

We are so lucky! We are getting up at 4am on Saturday to drive up to Portland for another triathlon! woooho! That is going to suck. I might bribe myself by promising myself a trip to the Title 9 store in Portland. Who am I kidding, that stuff is so expensive. But we should have fun, it's the Luna all women's sprint triathlon so hopefully it will be a good crowd.

Bill just rented us a canoe from the OSU outdoor rec center for $15 for the weekend. I love university perks! I think we'll see if the dog will join us for an afternoon on the Willamette River.

Have a great weekend!

p.s. my mom once said "I saw Keanu Reeves at a restaurant" only she pronounced his name canoe so whenever I think of a canoe I think of Keanu... now you know why I'm strange, it's because of my mom. Although Bill's mom called him a Flibbertigibbet while we were playing cards so that was pretty good too. I think I have a trump though, my grandma used to call me "chickie nuts" and "snickle fritz" so I should not be held fully accountable for my weirdness, it's genetic.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Storytelling

There has been some press recently about bloggers and this generation of people that are so narcissistic they think the mundane details of their lives deserve to be published and read. I see the writer's point of view about this and I am sure that I am guilty as charged by being the blogger that I am however my intentions aren't solely motivated for people to "look at me!" I believe in storytelling and that you can effect people around you by sharing of yourself.

My blog is sometimes inappropriate, sometimes written to customers, sometimes written for family, sometimes written with hope that someday my children (still yet to be conceived) will read this and know what my life was like before them. I don't post a bunch of photos of myself looking cute (that would take WAY too much effort) and I don't try to make myself look like I have a perfect life so I think I'm OK as far as being an attention you-know-what.

I grew up in a family of readers and for me personally reading a good story is almost akin to going on a spiritual journey. I actually stopped reading for a few years after reading a particularly bad book, it was also about that same time that I met Bill so I took a break from voracious reading but I'm back and easing myself into it by reading 3 books concurrently. Here are my current reading influences:

I finished Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, on our road trip and was definitely impacted by it. It's a book that was recommended by several friends and I had my eyes rolled going into it because the author takes a year off from her life to travel to Italy, India and Indonesia after her divorce. "How very indulgent of her," I thought. But her voice is friendly and her story (a true story) is compelling and I was able to forgive her for her good fortune to be a travel writer and learn from her. This is one of those books women pass around to each other like it's a wonderful secret we can all share, and it is. I absolutely recommend it for a good read and have already passed on my copy to a friend.

Presently I am reading A Short History of Islam by Karen Armstrong. This book is going to take a while, even though it is short, I know nothing about Islam or the Koran and since the book is about history it is filled with battles and politics and things I am not all that interested in BUT, I want to explore all religions now that we are trying to start a family so that I am not ignorant about the world as I am now. I like Armstrong's writing style but would not recommend this as I am struggling to get through it. I do understand more about how this religion evolved and hope Muslims can return to peace.

Bill and I are reading The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini aloud to each other and I am struggling with this book so far, we are about half way through it. The book is set in Afghanistan in the early 70s before Russia invaded. The main character of the story is not likable to me yet so I will have to wait until the end of the book before I can recommend it. It is informative about the attitudes toward the Taliban but I am unforgiving about the way a story is told and parts of this book I could do without.

Finally, I am reading Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before by Tony Horwitz. The author retraces parts of Cook's journey and writes about the present state of affairs of locations such as Fiji and New Zealand and how Cook might have influenced life there today. His first stops are places I've dreamed of traveling to so hearing how bitter the Maori feel toward Pakeha (white people) and seeing Fiji portrayed as a pit where 80% of the food is imported shatters misconceptions of bountiful islands and fulfilled native life. One of the most telling anecdotes about Fiji is the bottling of the upscale Fiji water. Power is only available during the day and is spotty even then so they use diesel engines to keep the plant running 24 hours a day. Crystal clear designer diesel water! This book is actually written with humor and is really very interesting. I had an excellent time eating chips and salsa on our back deck while reading this book, it's good, you should get a copy or take a copy from your parents like I did.

One last one, a friend recently returned the book Miles from Nowhere by Barbara Savage to me and said she really enjoyed it. It's about a couple that bicycle all over the world in the 1970s. She is a novice writer (and bicycle rider) and their story is great. You need to read this if you've ever daydreamed about bike touring, it might change or mind or it might convince you to go immediately.

Please send any good book recommendations to me if you have some, I'm sure Bill would love for me to have my nose shoved in another book!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Hot Skort

Skort: skirt + shorts. Typically a mini skirt and typically HOT. I saw these in the American Apparel (made in America and sweatshop free) catalog and knew I had to try one. Skirts with shorts underneath are a new trend in exercise apparel, a lot of women like them because the shorts underneath are small and there is less fabric to cause friction and rashes while running or doing sports. Plus you don't look like a boy. You look hot!

I would love to find a triathlete or biker to model for these skorts so contact me if you've got hot legs and I'll give you a skort for free. You can find skorts in many colors on my web site here.

I just sent mine to embroidery last night, I'm going to get "Swim Bike Run Be a Tribabe" embroidered on the front right leg near the bottom. I could see these would be great fun in the summer and to wear to the beach. Thinking about the beach is making it difficult to get back to work.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ninja Warrior

Bill found this highly entertaining show somewhere on satellite tv and we are enchanted by it. Ninja Warrior is an obstacle course competition that requires incredible core and upper body strength. Very few people make it through the course and the athletes are everything from olympic level to gas station attendants. The course looks very dangerous, and if you fall it is in a pit of brown water. The competitors are typically very serious about completing the course and some have trained quite extensively. I think only two people have ever finished all of the stages (as far as we know so far, we are getting caught up on episodes thanks to DVR).

My favorite part is the athlete introduction and the narrating. People show up wearing outfits that show their career, a financial analyst would try to complete the course wearing a suit and the narrator would crack jokes about his career while he falls into the water. We've been watching it before bed so I'm waiting for some crazy ninja warrior fertility drug induced dreams. I'll let you know! Watch the show if you can find it!

Monday, July 23, 2007

For Crying Out Loud

Well I cried at work today. A co-worker told me she met our old supervisor for lunch and I realized that I had been avoiding her (and other people) because I don't want to tell her I'm still not pregnant and as I realized this I burst into tears. Hello hormones! Fortunately, a couple of ladies in the office are going through menopause so I'm not such a weirdo.

My head is killing me right now, I think the 2nd half of the cycle on Clomid is the worst. I don't sleep well and I have hot flashes. I write some of this to help other women searching the web about information on the effects of Clomid but right now I'm just whining.

I think we're going to another all women's triathlon up near Portland this weekend. My poor husband, having to go to these events where fit women strut around in tight outfits while I sit there feeling fat and hormonal. Maybe I'll take Cassie with us this time, tie her up in a cage with a sign that says "The Cat Gets It if You Don't Buy a Hat!"

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Times flies

Sorry I neglected the blog, we got busy socially and that always takes up a lot of time. Damn friends. Thursday we went out with some triathlon buddies and one of our friends is an OB/GYN so guess who I sat by at dinner? He put my mind at ease and reminded me that normally fertile couples have a 20% chance of conceiving each month. Unfortunately, I am not having a normal cycle again and will likely have to go to the Dr for tests next week. I had one good month on Clomid and it doesn't look like this month will repeat.

Friday we went to a BBQ for a nice young man who has been drafted by the NY Giants. Talk about exciting! He's going from small town Oregon to NY. And he'll get a sweet salary. So I guess we'll be Giants fans this season.

Saturday we stopped by a new model home down the block from us and I loved the paint colors they used so I went back and took photos. Our entire house is "builder beige" but I think I've found a new hobby for Bill while he job searches. I loved the color of this hallway and the bedroom in the back so I picked up some paint samples and bought a small can of paint for our front door. How we lived with a white front door this long I will never know. Shameful!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Tuesday night in the backyard

Aren't you supposed to be serving me dinner now?


Is it OK to chew rawhide outside or inside? I can never remember!


"I do wish we could chat longer Clarice but I'm having an old friend for dinner."


Sunshine


Rain

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

They Don't Call it Work for Nothing

Once again: I've changed the design of the tribabe.com home page. I wanted to emphasize how you order custom products and some of the fun sayings you can get embroidered on items and this is what I've come up with so far, I will likely change it again but for now, this is what I'm going with. Hey, at least you don't have to live with me. Imagine what that must be like.

I'm still looking for photos from customers wearing products, so send those to me and I will reward you with a $5 gift certificate to the web store. I have a lot of new products and more coming including fleece pants for women, polo shirts for men, and baby bibs.

All this work got me thinking about jobs I've held in the past and how fortunate I am now to be in this position. Here are some of my past gem jobs:
-graveyard shift cargo airplane dispatcher (alone in a airplane hanger all night long)
-computer help desk (reboot and call me back if the problem persists)
-software implementation coordinator for drug and alcohol outpatient treatment centers (most clients in LA, what a great place to travel)
-computer lab coordinator at community college (students try to get you to do their homework for them AND I got sexually harassed--bonus!)
-systems analyst programmer at large university charged with implementing web based registration (no one believed I could do it and one person even went as far as banning the web site from library computers because they were mad when it succeeded)
-data manager at HIV/AIDS clinic at an inner city hospital (try facing that everyday)

Highlights of my career include:
-looking around at two other new hires on first day of job and seeing two tall blonds, just like me! I wonder why we were hired!
-having a sales manager tell me he couldn't wait to take me on the road with him (was I ready for a promotion?)
-getting called in because a co-worker complained that I told him not to touch me (he kept coming up behind me and trying to give me shoulder rubs so I told him not to touch me and he tried to get me in trouble)
-everyday a programmer in my office would compliment my outfit and ask me to do a circle so he could see it better
-having a boss yell at me for an hour that I couldn't change my schedule without permission (I left 5 minutes early twice a week to catch a bus to attend a computer class at night, on my own time and at my own expense, and I provided computer support at my job--I quit a few weeks later)
-being shown my new office that was stuffed full of boxes of unorganized medical records and had no desk or even a chair

So as you can see I am quite thrilled to finally have a nice boss with a nice office (with a desk and chairs) and it looks like I'm finally old enough that the sexual harassment has stopped. I entered the computer industry at age 19 and let me tell ya, the men in that industry were not easy on me. I like where I am now, working at a university and having a side business (several other computer geeks have side businesses here, it's how you justify to yourself the lower wages we get compared to the private sector). I enjoy going to work and I enjoy coming home to my family at the end of the day so life is finally good!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Without further ado: photos of cute kids

My friend from Texas sent these great photos of her kids in tribabe.com t-shirts. These two kids are all personality, what great photos! I'm going to redesign my home page (again) to feature photos so if anyone out there wants to send in photos of you, your family or even your neighbor in tribabe.com gear then I will treat you to a $5 gift certificate to the web store.



Monday, July 16, 2007

Valley Girl Triathlon

Our trip east was nice, we left early and missed traffic through Portland (key) and stopped off at touristy Multonomah Falls to stretch our legs before completing the drive to Spokane. There was a nasty thunder storm there that took out power at several locations but we missed most of it and spent the night at my sister's new apartment, her first solo place. I've never lived by myself so I'm quite jealous of her but I guess I'll settle with a sweet husband and cute animals instead. I could use a little me time occasionally though without a pair of eyes staring at me.

We went shopping Saturday morning and my sister cut Bill's hair before we picked up my mom and forced her to go to a water slide park in Coeur d'Alene ID. My mom made all the appropriate screeching noises on her first trip down, oops! We picked the fastest slide (named Cruiser) instead of the slowest. Good times! Afterwards we watched Le Tour and chowed on mom's awesome tacos (the joy of being home). Sunday we loaded up the Jeep with tribabe.com gear and found the park at Liberty Lake to set up for the Valley Girl triathlon.

What a great event! It is put on my Ende sports and is done well from beginning to end. I can see why it sells out quickly every year, they give out pink t-shirts to all of the finishers that are adorable, I would do this race it for the t-shirt alone! The division winners (5 deep) got medals that were star shaped and had pink ribbon. I had a pink hoodie embroidered with the race name for the overall champion and two pink beach towels for the athena division winners. Sales were great for me and the crowd was wonderful. I think Qdoba was serving post race food and a band played as the finishers perused the vendor area. The same organizer puts on another all women's event called Wunderwoman triathlon next month so I think I'll be back for that event too!

So it was a great trip with the family and now we'll hang at home for a while unless we can think of a new reason to take the Jeep out for another road trip!

Friday, July 13, 2007

East bound

We're off to Spokane today, we'll spend the night at my sister's new place tonight then we're talking about going to a water slide park in Coeur d'Alene on Saturday, see my parents Saturday night and then Valley Girl triathlon on Sunday. We'll be back Sunday night. I think we'll stop off for a hike somewhere along the Columbia Gorge with the dog who gets to come on this trip. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Extreme Home Makeover is in town!

Alright I took a nap and I'm over it. Here's what I should have written earlier:

Ty Pennington and Extreme Home Makeover are in Corvallis! Yeah! They are building a home for a nice family whose little girl has cancer. Their family blog and information about the show are online. There are also several articles in our local newspaper. The little girl looks adorable, I can't wait to watch this episode on TV. Hopefully this will make a difference in their lives, I think the house they were living in was older and might have caused health problems for the little girl. The OSU Baseball team showed up to help out with the demolition and the town seems to be getting into the show. I won't go gawk at Ty but I'm pretty tempted. Obviously my problems are slim to none compared to what this family is facing so I am sufficiently ashamed for complaining about my good fortune to have work, family and friends to attend to.

The slow rolling boil of stress

We got home from our road trip to perfect 85 degree weather and hit the local Saturday Farmer's Market for organic tomatoes, cucumber, and enough lettuce to make salads all week for $5. I got coffee and garlic bagels (my fav) and we took the dog for a walk on the local trails. The kitty cats are busy sunning themselves on rocks and hiding in the backyard all day, they won't come in the house again until after dark. Bill and I spent the weekend at home, cleaning house and doing yard work, taking naps while to Le Tour played in the back ground. This is the life that I love.

Then Monday came, time to go back to work and slowly the stress started creeping back in... "Erika! When are you going to have the fiscal year end numbers ready? Erika! Can you get that printer moved and get all of us connected to it, today? Erika! What is the status of that web project?" Then Bill calls, "Are you going to meet me for swimming at noon?" We have an temp summer instructor who is well known locally and bless his heart, I told him that I was a triathlete swimmer, and he said, "Let's see it" and after I swam 50 yards for him he said, "You don't swim like a triathlete at all." I wanted to give him a big wet hug. Unfortunately, he was only pointing out that I am streamlined pushing off the wall and don't take big long breaths. Not going to win any triathlons with those skills. The rest of my swim is a weak mess.

After swimming I'm back at work trying to shake off the post swim fog when round two of the Erikas! starts again. I get home and panic that I have to get tribabe.com ready for the Valley Girl triathlon at Liberty Lake, WA this weekend. I'm low on women's tees and since this is an all women's triathlon I need to order those and get them shipped 2nd day and I need to beg my embroiderer to get everything done at the last minute because I let everything go for the week. Right after I ordered the women's tees I got a web order for a bunch of women's tees but in sizes I hadn't ordered so I had to make another order (!) fast. You should all start your own web business, I highly recommend it.

Then there are friends we've neglected and parents to call and people to email and THIS is why I get stressed. I like everything I do but there's too much of it to do. By the end of the day I'm tired and can barely put together a comprehensible sentence. (witness: blog) And! And!!! My mom informed me that it's supposed to be 107 in Spokane tomorrow.

Somebody shake me! Slap me! Throw me down a steep embankment. I want to lay in the brush and hide for a while. I should just go hide in the back yard with the kitty cats. That's exactly what I am going to do.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park was a late decision stop off, we had by-passed our first stop in Southern California since it was over 100 degrees down there and hoped that Northern CA would give us more reasonable temps.

Bill loved Lassen, there aren't that many people there and there is a wide range of terrain to hike through. Lassen Peak hwy gets up to 8500 feet and then you can get out and hike the last 2000 to get to the top of the peak. Unfortunately I had decided that I wanted to get home that day and there was no talking me down from my need to deliver kisses to the Funny Farm.
The dog was sending me telepathic messages that he desperately needed me to cuddle him on the couch and the baby cat was driving him crazy.

So Lassen will be another place we visit for back country hiking, it's beautiful and has strange volcanic remnants like vents, domes, and cool rock formations. There were also a lot of crystal clear blue mtn lakes that were tempting us and one larger lake (Manzanita) where several families had stopped to let their kids swim. Good times! We have to go back. The problem I have with National Parks is that they don't allow dogs, not even good dogs like Marshall, so we will have to pick our times for visits since the dog can't come. We bought an annual National Parks pass so we will be visiting Mt St Helens, Mt Rainier and Mt Hood and more this year and perhaps the Grand Canyon or Glacier Ntl Park before next season when the pass expires. Poor Marshall!

Lake Tahoe is for City People

(pic of the hwy around Tahoe) We decided a stop off at Lake Tahoe was necessary on our road trip since neither of us had been there and we are interested in doing the Xterra race there someday. We spent a total of about 1.5 hours there since traffic around the lake was at a standstill at 10am on Friday and since the beach where we stopped was strewn with litter and the sound of cars hovering in the distance was less than relaxing. My impression of Lake Tahoe is that it's a lake for city people. I'll give it another shot someday, perhaps for skiing, but for summertime, that place is a rat's nest of people.

(Pic of King Beach at Lake Tahoe) Oh! There were bikers all over the place, obviously riding around the lake is a big thing to do. Cars were careening past the riders every few seconds out on the highway and then once you neared a town it was gridlock. How is that fun riding? The tipping point for me was this old guy riding his bike in tiny pink running shorts. What the hell is that about! Do we need attention today or what dude? City people freak me out! As you can see, I am not fit to live in the city, which is why I love my small college town and my economically depressed state that has no money for highways.

We got out of there and stopped off at Lake Almanor, a small lake about 150 miles north of there and had a picnic lunch. Here is what a lake looks like to me, trees, water, and minimal people:

Monday, July 09, 2007

Yosemite National Park

Bill liked the inaccessibility of Kings Canyon (you have to go back country there) and the lack of crowds and diversity of terrain at Lassen (our next stop) but I LOVED Yosemite so I am putting it at the top of my list for must do hikes. Bill was sick the day we drove in to Yosemite and it was 105 degrees so we decided to take the car tour rather than hike at 8500+ feet given the situation. The views of Half Dome and the valley below were stunning. I just don't have words to describe how beautiful this area is, you must see this for yourself! YOU MUST, I'LL GO THERE WITH YOU!

The rumors of gridlock traffic were not true for us at all, we drove straight into Yosemite valley without a problem on July 5th. We didn't stay down there long, just enough to snap some photos and dip in the river, it was incredibly hot down there and we had to get higher for the cooler air. I am really looking forward to returning here, in the spring when it's cooler and has more snow (we didn't see any) and we even called my mom and asked if she would babysit our un-conceived future kids while we hiked here. She said she would so I bet we'll be back in the next few years. I can't believe you can hike to the top of Half Dome, we could see people standing on top of that massive rock, freaky! I have to do it. I can't wait, I'm not going to blather on about it, just go there!

Bill said about climbing on Half Dome and El Cap, "People say Ironman is hard core but climbing that stuff is just crazy." Exactly, I was so glad he wasn't inspired to pick up that type of climbing. PHEW!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Sequioa Kings Canyon National Park

Tuesday night we couldn't quite make it to Sequioa/Kings Canyon so we spent the night in a cheap hotel in a military town on the eve of 4th of July. We made it there late in the evening and stopped at the grocery store for milk before finding a hotel, you could tell people were loading up for BBQs the next day. Of course our affordable hotel was a total stinker, I dubbed the shower "bod pod" because it was large enough to stand in, and that was it. Bill had to go back to the store for ear plugs because the air conditioning units were so loud we thought someone was revving their semi truck outside of our room. So the difference between the Four Seasons Hotel to Motel 6 is noticeable. Slightly noticeable.

(Pic of the windy road as depicted by the navigation system) Bill decided he'd had enough of highways and wanted to take a forest road through the Sierra Nevadas so we could enjoy the scenery. Long story short, the road was so steep and so windy that we both ended up getting car sick, but the view, wow, that was great. burp. The constant braking and swerving and going 20 mph for 4 hours, not so great. But eventually we made it to the park entrance for Sequoia National Park and found yet another windy road to maneuver, what is it with this mountain range! I am presently reading a book about a park ranger who goes missing in these mountains and it was interesting to see some of the places mentioned in the book but the book is a bit of a disappointment (bor-ing) so I won't recommend it.

Anyway! This park boasts that largest living thing on the planet: a giant sequoia named "General Sherman" and what an amazing creature. Bill and I both were stunned by the sequoias and stopped to touch their bark, the oldest trees have soft bark, it's almost squishy or papery, like an old person's skin. We learned that sequoias are fire and mildew resistant which is why they live so long, the only thing that takes them down is if they topple over because their roots are shallow. Early settlers used to live inside felled Sequoias since they were so big and resistant to the elements. coo

We camped out at the park, despite the warnings about overflowing campsites our site was really only about 1/4 to capacity. The weather was still quite warm (around 95 up there at the high elevation and much hotter down in the city) so maybe that kept people away. We cooked dinner and basically went to bed, someone forgot to pack headlamps (ahem) and since we spent all day talking in the car... time for sleep. Except I tossed and turned all night, I was back on fertility drugs, it was hot in the tent, my new sleeping bag was too warm for the 70 degree temps at night and I kept sliding off the Thermarest and readjusting which was loud and the cycle repeated ad nausem. Then I started to hear noises. Loud noises, right outside the tent, where we are camped, in the heart of bear country. Our food was locked in a bear proof storage bin just 10 yards from where we are sleeping and there is something sounding like a bear rubbing itself on a tree just outside of the thin tent wall. I whispered to Bill who was sound asleep, I couldn't wake him without saying his name louder and I was almost paralyzed with fear from the possibilty of a bear. We had heard that the camp just down the road gets raided nightly and there was a very real possibility that a bear was patrolling our campsite for a pic-a-nic basket right then.

(Pic of Bill in a felled Sequoia that people used to live in) Finally at 3:30 am I woke Bill up and of course the minute he was awake the noises stopped completely. Bastard bear! Making me sound crazy! Bill said, "You either need to go to sleep now or we are packing up and leaving." Something about his voice, perhaps the tone of reason, made me fall asleep for the next two hours. Which was a relief except for the nightmares my brain concocted. I dreamed that my Dr examined my ovaries and they crumbed in her hand like dead plants. There was no way I would ever get pregnant. Then I dreamed that Bill got a cell phone call and started crying, the job interview he has scheduled for this week was canceled, they didn't want to see him and he wouldn't tell me why. The dreams were so real, I woke up distressed and crying. Yeah hormones! After brushing my teeth in the morning (pu) I walked over to a sequoia tree and touched its bark for strength, said a prayer, and decided to leave my fears behind with the bears.

We loaded up the car and as we were leaving the park we noticed several cars stopped and people standing on the side of the road. A mother bear and her cub were resting in a meadow, about 200 yards from the road. I got out to take a photo, but the fear was still lingering, I thought about how fast a bear can run and got back in the car. Fortunately we spent the next day at Yosemite National Park where the stunning views filled my heart with deep joy and finally let me put the bad dreams and fear behind me.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Joshua Tree National Park

(Me posing with a nice Joshua Tree) It made sense when we planned it but traveling through Arizona and eastern California in early July was probably not the best idea. But we had a car to pick up and since Bill just finished school, it was time to get it done. But it was a hot trip, the entire way! Stop #1 on our road trip from Phoenix to Corvallis, OR was Joshua Tree National Park, just across the border between Arizona and CA.

We were able to drive through the park on our way to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park and I was glad we picked this route, this park was surreal and amazing. I would love to go back in the winter or early spring because it was too hot for us to be out of the air conditioned car for more than 5 minutes. I think the temps were 114 here which felt like I was standing in an oven, way too hot for this white girl, which was unfortunate, there is a lot to explore here. The park has a diverse ecosystem with smaller Yuccas in the east and the larger Joshua trees to the west. There are gigantic alien looking rocks that seemed to have been plopped down in random places and nice hills throughout the park. I think camping and hiking here under better conditions would be completely excellent, you could take some amazing photos at dawn and dusk.

This is one of those unique places in the US that you have to see to believe, I hope you can make it there someday if you haven't already. Just don't go in July like we did, I'm sure you're smarter than us anyway so I'm not worried about it. We had a great trip despite the heat, I can't wait to load all of our photos, you can see them in my Picassa album as I get them loaded. Up next: a drive through the Sierras and into bear country. And yes, I saw a bear, a mother with it's cub and yes I got the hell out of there... more later!

p.s. our new Jeep is way too nice for us to be rolling around in. We're still on the poor college student budget and all of the sudden we have a nice SUV with all the amenities. Bill is already having a love affair with the navigation system, he named her Lindsey after a town in CA when she found a faster route for us. I was a little jealous, I had been studying the map for hours trying to figure out where we were and Lindsey worked it out in seconds. I guess I'll get over it but I'm going to keep an eye out for her. Getting this Jeep is a twist of good fortune for us and we are very VERY VEEERRRRRYYY appreciative. Thank you parents!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

No More Sun

We're getting ready to leave Bill's parent's house in Chandler AZ where it has been a balmy 110 give or take a few degrees. I checked the weather for Red Rock State Park and Sequoia Kings Canyon and there is a severe weather alert and highs forecasted to be 105. I'm not sure what will happen with our trip now, I'm sure Bill press on for camping but I might have to negotiate for a hotel, that's too darn hot. Hopefully I'll have some great hiking photos to share on Sunday.

Happy 4th of July!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale AZ

Part one of our multi-part mission to Arizona is complete and we are still a functioning couple and without injury so I am hopeful we will make it home after driving 1300+ miles together. I might be too optimistic, we just completed the easy stage: fly to Phoenix and spend three nights at the Four Seasons Resort in Scottsdale with Bill's parents. Hmmm, mission accepted! Typically Bill and I stay at hotels near railroad switching yards and strip clubs but we thought we would compromise and try the Four Seasons, just to see how the other half lives. We adapted quickly, even in the intense heat here, we just sat poolside in a cabana while misters kept us cool and an attendant brought us lemon water and tucked towels behind our heads. It was a difficult transition for me but I was up for the challenge of staying at an actual resort-resort. Not a last resort which is where we're headed once we leave Bill's parents, trust me.

I didn't hear anyone whispering about the glare coming off our white bodies at the hotel and Bill did find a shirt with buttons on it that didn't say "TRIATHLON" so I think we fit in alright. Bill's parents treated us to some amazing dinners, last night we had fabulous steak that I'm still trying to digest, and we ate out more in the past 3 days then Bill and I would in a month. Must be time for us to go camping and start eating out of a can. (Not yet! Oh please not yet. )

Fortunately part of this mission is to acquire a Jeep Grand Cherokee from Bill's dad for us to drive home to Oregon. Major bonus: we are keeping the Jeep!!!! I'm really hoping Bill doesn't say anything ridiculous to upset his Dad because the Jeep is midnight blue, has a DVD player in the back and shiny wheels that make the corners of my mouth turn up. I need to think of a way to keep Bill quiet for the next 24 hours while we are here. Do you think his parents will notice if I tie him up in the back of the Jeep? Kidding! Kidding! I swear I'm kidding. See you later, I've got to go look for some rope...

Photos from the resort and a hike up near Pinnacle Peak.