Cat Lady · Ramblings · Travel

Buffalo, Niagara Falls and the Fourth of July

I’m currently settling into my fourth week at my new job, and it’s a very strange feeling. I think I was unemployed for so long (despite having temporary work in between) that the security of going to a job every day is still sinking in. But enough of that. I totally loved having the past four days off for the 4th of July holiday. My office was closed Friday and Monday, so Collin and I decided to take advantage by going on a long weekend getaway. We decided to go to Buffalo, NY – Niagara Falls is nearby, it’s an interesting city and I’ve never been to any part of western NY so it was cool to travel through that way.

We stopped in Ithaca along the way and enjoyed beers (including cool blueberry beers!) and the scenery. We made another stop to check out a beach and some falls, as well as an unplanned stop at a cider winery (brewery?) that housed some awesome cats. Once we finally got to Buffalo we spent that night and following day enjoying the town and food and all else we came across. Their public transit was kind of fun – I do miss the subway. Driving is really not my thing, even though it has its perks at times. I still could live without it. Anyway, we walked all over Buffalo – it was fun exploring. We ended our evening before dinner at the Bird Island Pier, overlooking the Peacebridge that connects the U.S. and Canada.

On Sunday our main goal was seeing Niagara Falls, but we took many detours on the way. We first drove right over to Canada to check out Niagara-on-the-Lake, which is a town with a hypenated name I guess. It was sort of cute, very crowded with tourists, but mostly an expensive shopping strip. The ice cream was good though. And I met my new favorite cat:

We went back to the U.S. to see Niagara Falls. It wasn’t that humid, but the sun was bright and it was still hot out, so I melted as I always do. Add in the masses of tourists and my tired legs from walking several miles the day before (we are crazy wanderers, Collin and I) and I felt very worn out. Still, I soaked in the view as well as the mist from the falls.

Sunday was also Collin’s birthday – 26! – so I took him out to dinner at a cool sushi place. We used to order from a sushi place in Brooklyn almost every week the last few months we lived there, and we’ve definitely been missing that availability in Troy. After dinner we visited our new favorite coffee shot – Spot Coffee, where I heard a barista say ‘bagel’ like Britta in Community (nerd alert) – for the third time that day, we made plans to get out of town. We had planned to drive back Monday and take some more detours, but the fear of holiday traffic deterred us. So we downloaded an audio book and hit the road around 8 p.m. Luckily Collin was appropriately hopped up on caffeine because I drifted in and out until we arrived home around 1:30 a.m. Not too shabby.

Monday was a very lazy, very tired kind of day. But we still headed out to enjoy the fireworks at Empire State Plaza. We drove to a park in Rensselaer and found a spot to watch the fireworks from across the Hudson. It was fun sitting on the side of a highway watching fireworks over the river. A great weekend. Now back to reality.

Travel

Home… for now.

We made it back to Brooklyn! It’s very strange having my car from California in view of my Brooklyn apartment window. The road trip was fun, although consisted of mostly long hours of driving for the latter part. Luckily we changed our route in Santa Fe to go north through Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, etc. instead of south through Dallas and Tennessee, where the weather ended up being extremely dangerous. We hit a freak hail storm in Oklahoma and pouring rain with high winds in Kansas, but otherwise it was smooth riding.

We still didn’t finish our audio book though (read by Raul Esparza, which is awesome and hilarious considering some of the creepy voices he uses for some characters), so we’ll have to finish it at home, like in the old days of listening to radio programming.

I will give a recap about the road trip sometime soon, but for now we pack. It’s nice to be back home in Brooklyn, but our new home in Troy awaits us. We move on Monday. It’s been three years since I moved from Oregon to NYC, so it’ll be quite exciting to explore a new city all over again.

Ramblings · Travel

Distractions: Upstate Escape

I have a lot on my mind these days, and I have been going to great lengths to distract myself. Several options are on the table for the near future, but I don’t want to talk about them until I know anything for sure. As I think many of friends like to do, I love to discuss “what ifs” to death, but right now that just makes me anxious. I wish I knew what was going to happen! Oh well, I guess that’s life for you.

Luckily, I have been able to avoid stressing myself out with some adventure escapes with Collin. Thanks in part to the snowpocalypse, Collin and I have had his mom’s car in Brooklyn for almost a month. See, the plan was to head down to D.C. to celebrate pre-New Year’s with some extended family. Collin brought his mom’s car back from PA to take us down once I got back from LA. Obviously, the piles of snow and slow clean up (especially in our area of Brooklyn) kept us from traveling anywhere.

I remember when I was an intern at Glamour a few years ago, one of the fashion editors was telling me how he needed to leave NYC and go upstate occasionally to fully appreciate living in the city. I really didn’t get the concept at the time, but now I do. New York City is an amazing place, but you can get sucked in a little too deep sometimes and start to resent it if you don’t escape every now and then. Whether it’s a full vacation or just getting into a more suburban area, it’s so refreshing.

Once the roads were accessible again we went on a few day trips and most recently a weekend escape. Our first adventure took us on a scenic tour through Kingston and then Woodstock. Woodstock may not have been the official home of the festival, but it sure still had many life-long hippies hanging around.

Kingston was a cute little town with nice people everywhere. And I mean, how can you not like a place that has a restaurant with a margarita-drinking armadillo?  We headed through Woodstock next and then checked out the town of Catskill. It was too dark to take good pictures, but seriously, if you ever need anything cat-related, funny or serious, go to Catskill. I mean, they have a Catamount Museum. Freaking awesome. Anyway, we went back through Kingston for dinner, but sadly did not visit the Armadillo.

Scenic drive

Then, of course, another bit of snow came through. This is quite a snowy winter, isn’t? Not that I would really know. This is my third real winter and I have no idea what’s normal or not. Anyway, snowy mornings = trekking to our fave breakfast spot.

Bagel time!

Our next day trip was a little more last minute. We headed up to the Bear Mountain Zoo despite it being freezing out. It was a really nice drive, but once I stepped outside to walk around it was sort of terrifying. The wind chill has to be the worst part of winter. I took a little time to “warm up” enough to stop whining (luckily Collin finds it funny), but then we had fun with the animals. At least, the ones that weren’t on vacation.

That otter was seriously riled up because it was lunch time. Luckily he didn’t get close enough to take a bite.

We were originally going to relinquish the car in the middle of last week, but then came another big pile of snow. So we took it as a sign to plan another brief trip. This time we headed up to Hudson, NY. We made a stop at the Olana historic site, where Frederich Church created a Persian style home.

We lucked out and made the last tour of the day. A perk of taking this trips in the winter is the low volume of people (sometimes good, sometimes not). In this case, we had a more intimate tour. The views are amazing. You can see why this Hudson Valley artist created his home there.

We then checked into our cute inn in Hudson and walked the streets. Another reason getting out of NYC is essential to the soul? Cheap beers. Very profound statement, I know. We stopped into a bookstore-slash-bar for some $3 beers and watched the place fill up with friendly people who all knew each other.

Then on to dinner. In all our excursions upstate, we’ve found an abundance of Mexican restaurants. Most have been rather excellent too. This place we visited was also amazing. Especially since I got my margarita in a martini glass (just like the armadillo!).

The next day we stopped in for breakfast at a cute diner/deli type place. Then we headed up the road to Albany. Collin had looked up a great brewery for lunch and there was an art museum we wanted to check out. The art museum was sadly lacking, as they were setting up new installations, but it was still fun. They had a great display of shoes over the years. I have monster feet compared to women in the old days.

Lunch was delicious. I’m overloading on sweet potato fries these days and couldn’t be happier about it. As we stopped for gas on our way out of town, I had a mini exciting moment. We were across from Susie’s bar! We went there the last time we were in Albany, but it was too cold/dark to take a shot. So this time around I got one through the car window.

Success!

Now the long weekend is over. Like I said before, my brain is running in circles about the future. But I know for sure one answer I’ll have within a week… future gainful employment on the horizon in a new-ish field that I’m kind of excited about but  not too excited because I can’t get my hopes up. Right?

Ramblings · Travel

Susie vs. The Blizzard

It’s a lovely afternoon in Southern California. I have one more day left of sitting in the sun and going to the beach in December. Then I hear about this blizzard hitting the East Coast. I’m talking to Collin, who made it back to our apartment just in time, and it sounds intense. But we both try to stay optimistic and assume that by Monday night everything should be under control enough so that I could fly back in. Well, we were partly right, but nothing was under control in the slightest.

Obligatory beach shot

After making my last trip to the beach I spent the rest of the day obsessively checking on my flight. I was flying Virgin America and they had been canceling most of their flights. I was tense. But the status continued to say “on time” so my parents dropped me at LAX and hoped for the best. Luckily for me, if my flight got canceled my parents could just pick me up. Getting stuck in LAX for any extreme amount of time is my worst nightmare.

Everything looked good as I sat in the terminal. We board the plane and take off on time. Perfect! We left LAX at 9 p.m. and planned on arriving at JFK at 5:30 a.m. I attempt to sleep by my row has been cursed with the seats that do not recline. A bummer, but it’s Virgin, which is on par with Jet Blue in my opinion: much nicer seats, your own video screen to control, more general niceness. I didn’t get much sleep but it wasn’t a huge deal. Around 4 a.m. I started watching the local news to see if I’d have any trouble cabbing it back to the apartment. I already knew the A train was out and so was the LIRR, so no public transport for me.

Tarmac Party Time

We landed perfectly on time at 5:30 a.m. That’s when the trouble began. The pilot got on the PA right away and told us we had a 30 minute wait for a gate to open up at our terminal. I was trying to be hopeful, but given how much the blizzard messed up airports, I knew this could get ugly. I started live-tweeting our updates and even chatted with a CNN guy on Twitter who was following people stuck on the tarmac at JFK. Other people had been stuck for 7 hours! UGH. You can check out my Twitter for the full joyful account, but basically the pilot was pissed there were no gates and thanked everyone for their patience a lot. About two hours after landing he told us they found a gate at the terminal. Hooray!

We pull up to the gate and everyone gets ready to leave. Then the pilot comes back on, saying, “Not to add insult to injury, but uh, they’re having trouble getting the jetway to attach.” Oh dear. It’s about another 15 minutes or so before we finally escape. On to the next challenge!

Survivor: The Waiting for a Taxi in the Snow Edition

I head over to the taxi line outside, which is unfortunately epically long. I heard people on the plane called car services, but I foolishly thought I’d be fine. Then I got foolishly stubborn that I could handle the taxi line. I was wearing leggings, a shirt, a hoody, a fleece jacket and my wool coat. I was also only wearing thin sneakers. My feet got wet and froze immediately. I don’t know if it was just the international terminal, but there were so many huge families in line with carts piled high with luggage.

I was in that line for an hour and a half. I think it wouldn’t have been as bad if I had arrived at 5:30 a.m. instead of 8:30 a.m. I pretty much couldn’t feel my toes. And once I wound around the line and could watch the taxi dispatcher I got annoyed. Sure, it’s snowy and slushly around, but these people were not efficient in the slightest. They took forever getting the cars to pull up and get people in them and then would wait for the next to pull up. There was a long line of taxis and it was moving so slowly.

Homeward Bound, For Real This Time

I finally get into a cab around 10 a.m. and direct him to the closest cross streets by my apartment. I knew my street was not plowed yet, thanks to Collin, and figured I’d try to get as close as possible. It was a long stop and go ride, but I managed to convince the driver to get me decently close to my apartment. We finally stop, I pay this guy way more than I ever wish I had to just to get home, and climb through the snow to get to my apartment. At 11 a.m. I am finally home, welcomed by my lovely boyfriend.

Home!

The way this storm screwed over so many people, I think I got pretty freaking lucky. I mean, Sunday would have been the day I normally would fly back to New York, but I had found a cheaper deal for Monday’s red eye so I chose that instead. I figure it’s my flying-karma since Collin and I got jerked out by a blizzard last year. If my flight had been canceled I probably would have been in California until next week.

Now I’ve just been enjoying the snow outside my window, as well as the snow-theater of all the cars still trying to get down our block and getting stuck. With a real and full night of sleep behind me, it’s time to enjoy the snow and get ready for the new year!

Ramblings · Travel

Off to Get Groped

Well, I hope not, but with TSA these days you never know. I’m off to California for Christmas tomorrow. As much as I love to travel, air travel is becoming more of a pain these days. I don’t really have qualms about the quasi-nude scanner installed, but I really don’t want some random agent getting up close to pat me down in an ‘enhanced’ style.

Once I arrive at LAX and get to my parent’s house, there will be much to enjoy. Our rambunctious cat who got a bubbly new personality when all the other cats passed on (sad, but hey, good for him!). A big Christmas tree and a house full of homey spices. It’s kind of funny that my parents are so happy in SoCal but always recreate all the best parts of more seasonally-appropriate regions each year. Except for snow, which I’m okay with. I get warmer weather! I never thought I’d be so happy to have 60 degree weather and rain. Sounds lovely compared to the 20s.

Another perk will be Christmas morning, when I give my parents and my brother their gifts. Some years I am at a total loss as to what to get my parents. My brother and I have a strict “What do you want? Okay, I’ll buy that” policy, but my parents have been subjected to some lackluster gifts when inspiration refused to strike. However, this year I had some major idea sparks and I think everyone will be really happy with their gifts.

The moment I’m most looking forward to, though, is reuniting with my best friend Katie. She’s been in Honduras for the Peace Corps since February 2009, and the two or three times she’s made trips to visit her family I’ve never been in California. Phone service isn’t the best in Honduras either, so phone calls have been hard to keep up. I also seem to chronically miss important phone calls. The point is that I absolutely cannot wait to see Katie. She’s always been amazing to me and we’ve always been able to depend on one another. She knows me far too well and likes me anyway.

Love this girl

In other news, I should be packing. Instead I’m sitting at the computer, working through my writer’s block for my freelance assignments and admiring the lovely new mouse pad Collin got me. We decided to give each other one gift now and one after we return next week. He received comfy warm slippers, since he’s feet turn ice cold no matter how many socks he wears. They’re like moon boots and apparently they frighten Mini to no end. Oopsies.

I'd been using a cloth napkin up until now

And for a dose of silliness, here is another example of the weird cat who answers to Mini.

I don't even know
Travel

Zip, Zip, Zip

How did it get to be only 12 days before Christmas? I fly home to California in a little over a week, and I’m going to be in a constant flow of busy-ness through the new year.

Late last week Collin and I made a trip up to Albany to check out the state university there. It was unusually cold. It was below 10 degrees. I cannot process this ice cold weather business. Collin and I still had fun for the two days we were in town. We stayed at an adorable B&B with an electric fireplace. We found a great bookstore and stocked up on $2 and $4 books. We went to a cool Mexican place with margaritas in 16 oz mason jars. However I learned that you should never order a BBQ tofu burrito. You’ve been warned. We went to a bar called Susie’s and I had a $3 beer. I wish I had a picture, but the whole freezing and forgetfulness thing goes hand in hand.

We explore downtown briefly as our faces went numb. We went to the New York State Museum and played around. Museums rock. We toured SUNY Albany. I got acquainted with the library and watched little snow flurries come down when Collin was in a meeting. We drove home in mild snow and passed out early.

Old subway cars at the museum

Saturday involved returning our rental car in New Jersey and taking the NJ transit back to the city. Saturday was also the Santacon convention day. Realizing this definitely helped explain why girls were dressed up and drinking vodka at 10 a.m. on the train. We had a lazy day and then went out for a night of food, beers and friends.

Sunday was full of rain. Sometimes pouring, sometimes not. We had our usual Outpost breakfast and then became promptly discouraged by the rain to venture out anymore. Luckily, the weather let up in the evening, just in time for pub trivia night with our favorite crew, known as The Fraggle Rockers (oh yeah). One round was dedicated to Broadway, so I finally kicked ass. Sadly, it was a packed night and our team didn’t even make it into the honorable mention. Pub trivia is a fun night.

Today was orientation day for me. Unpaid blogger in the house! I will be writing about health and other randomness, and I may or may not try to self promote occasionally. My favorite part of this gig is that I work remotely, but will be able to also visit in person with the staff. And the staff is a group of cool people in a laid back environment. Seriously, if/when I wind up in the corporate world, I will be so screwed.

Up coming events include: Happy hour with my new coworkers. Catching up with an old friend. Collin’s brother, cousin and her friend crashing with us for the weekend. Collin’s dad possibly coming up. My trip home for Christmas. A trip to D.C. for a pre-New Year’s celebration. New Years celebrating. And lots and lots of blogging.

Travel

Trip of Destiny

Or, the trip during which Collin tries to figure out where to go to grad school.

Well, the trip has come and gone, and right away I’ll say this: there is no official decision yet. I think it’s fair to say we’re leaning toward moving, but my policy is to not to think too much about it until we have a concrete discussion.

I was worried I’d get bored during this trip. Most of Collin’s meetings and class visits where in blocks of 4 hours. But I managed to fill that time with a giant book (The Passage by Justin Cronin) or by wandering the campuses and towns. And it’s fall, with millions of colorful trees that make me happy.

The trip begins in Seattle. We showed up Saturday evening.

Seattle – UW (U-Dub, for the uninitiated)

I could really see myself living in Seattle and loving it. It was the first stop of our trip and probably the most relaxing. We were staying with a cool couple from Airbnb.com (and their super awesome cat) in the neighborhood right next to the UW, so we got a feel for what it would be like if we moved there. We got a great deal of exploring in. Chowed down at the Fremont farmer’s market, wandered into some neat vintage stores and checked out other neighborhoods. Capitol Hill could be called Seattle’s Willamsburg.

 

Wallingford, our (possible) future home

The first day of Collin’s meetings I forgot my book and UW’s student union is under construction. I just basically walked without any purpose, which is very easy on the UW campus. It’s a large campus with a LOT of students. I got caught during a class changeover and sort of freaked out at the insane flow of people. Oregon State was a good mid-size university in a cute college town with a grid-style system. I was overwhelmed. Anyway, the most important part of this day is that I went to get my hair cut. I have been going overboard cutting my own hair lately, and with my most recent stab of the scissors I knew I kind of messed up. I stumbled into a decent looking salon and got to business. The stylist was a girl probably close to my age who was very nice, even when she was laughing at how badly I had cut my hair. I now have pretty hair! But now I miss my long hair. And I want to go darker again. It’ll never stop. But seriously, I think I’m sticking to long hair from now on.

Tuesday morning was the last meeting and then Collin and I drove down to Portland. He had classes to sit in all evening and I hung out in the Portland State library. It was late and dark and I’ve been to Portland before, so I figured I’d just stay on campus. We return to Portland later, so I’ll leave it at that.

Eugene – UO

Wednesday morning we woke up early to drive down to Eugene. I felt like a traitor. Okay, not really, but it was strange seeing all the green and yellow on this campus given that they’re my football rivals. I hadn’t been on this campus since I was 15, during a trip to show my brother’s school and the same time I discovered OSU and knew (but didn’t accept) that I’d be going to OSU in a few years. The UO campus is quite nice. Trees-y and less confusing than UW, but just as dense. Lucky for me, the awesome Christine came down from Corvallis to hang out with me and to catch up. We discovered that Eugene is a very poorly designed town (funny that they have a planning school and OSU does not!). And it’s a little sketchy.

View from UO's student union

We had a nice dinner at a brewery in town and then headed back to Portland, which was our home base for the remainder of the trip. A home base that we honestly did not spent much time in.

Spokane – EWU

Collin and I woke up at 4am to get to PDX for our flight to Spokane. If we had more time, we would have found a way to drive, but in this situation, it would have been ridiculously tiring. As it stands, this is where the trip got really tiring for me. We arrived at 10am and were lucky enough to have our hotel room already ready for check-in. Eastern Washington University has more than one campus, and I’m glad the graduate one is in Spokane. The campus is very new, pretty and the city itself is cute and well laid out. The people are extremely nice, which in regular practice is great. In terms of already nice people working retail, that kind of friendly turns creepy, as I found out when browsing the mall. But really, overall a great town. I’d still choose Seattle first, but I think if I did some searching I could find some good job opportunities here as well.

Excuse the blurriness, it was the best we could do.

I think both of us assumed Spokane was a courtesy visit, just to say Collin covered all the accredited campuses. However, we both put it up high on the list after visiting. Plus, we had a mini tour with a real estate agent and found the most amazing two bedroom apartment for $625/month! That earns points, not matter what.

Portland – PSU

Friday morning we arose early in Spokane to catch our flight back to Portland. Upon arrival, Collin had one quick meeting, and then we were free to explore Portland for fun. We went to Washington Park and went to the rose garden (this is the City of Roses, after all) and then wandered downtown before heading to dinner. We decided to tough out the always-long wait at the Deschutes Brewery to see what the fuss is all about. Turns out there is good reason for the crowds of people. The food was amazing, as were all the options we didn’t consume. Great beer, of course, is to be expected.

Chillin'

Saturday was our final day of the trip, free to do whatever we pleased. We took it very easy. Sleeping in until 9am felt glorious. Hanging out over breakfast at a coffee shop that could almost compare to our beloved Outpost in Brooklyn was extremely relaxing. Collin went for a run and I browsed the Internets and found a delicious Mexican dinner spot for the evening to enjoy with two of my friends who live in Portland. Feeling properly pampered, we headed out on a drive toward the Columbia River Gorge. The views were beautiful, but we didn’t have a whole lot of time, since we had to return the rental car. However, I suckered Collin into stopping by an outlet store, and that boy hit the jackpot at the Gap! I found some nice things as well, but let just say I’m glad I’ve proven the value of outlet malls to Collin now.

We dropped off the rental, booked it into the Alphabet District in the only night of rain on this trip for dinner. Then it was up at 4am for our flight back to NYC. Phew. That was a tiring trip, but still a fun one!

Now I sit here, nursing the cold I caught from Collin midway through the trip and wondering what comes next. Immediately, however, I’m looking forward to Halloween this weekend. Then the NYC Marathon next weekend to cheer on Collin. I hope we can figure out something to top the high-five we did last year.

Oregon State · Travel

A little bit of this…

Sometimes I miss life in Corvallis. College town bliss, football season, fall leaves and generally awesome people. Then I discovered Burlington, Vermont, this weekend. Collin and I didn’t get to stay very long (don’t go on the most popular weekend at the last minute and realize there’s no where to stay except a smokey room for one night) but we loved every minute of it. The college students, the great architecture, the waterfront, the boutique style stores – the home of Ben & Jerry’s! I can’t wait to go back and stay at an adorable B&B to get the full experience of this town.

On the other hand, New York City seems to be self destructing. Tonight was interrupted by another random massive storm. And with hail this time? What. The. Heck. I’m just glad I’ve been inside for all these disastrous storms. Maybe I earned my credits after all the Corvallis storms that soaked me. Living in a place that rains constantly, but usually never hard, means I rarely brought an umbrella with me anywhere. When I moved to New York I was so confused by this constant need for an umbrella. Nasty, nasty storms, NYC. Not cool.

Ramblings · Travel

More travel and old blogging past

It’s lovely back in NYC, especially with the weather shifting slowly to fall. The onset of the fall allergies… not so lovely. Still, I’m happy to have some permanence in the city again for now. Alaska was great, as was LA (err, PV really), but doing both trips over the course of 2.5 weeks was quite the travel overload. And in a month Collin and I will be traveling again. (More on that at a later date…)
the job hunt continues… and stalls

When looking for jobs, I often will Google my name to see what shows up on the first page. I’ve done a lot of writing for several publications, so articles will show up in various forms. Other weird things pop up sometimes, thanks to site aggregates in relation to news, Twitter or personal data. Reading articles about “the future of privacy” make me a little nervous, but at the same time, clearing out your online world is a lot to tackle.

Then I came up with a new idea and decided to search my usual username. What did I find? Oh, just my old Diaryland account. Diaryland… wtf? Yes. From high school. Good lord I was such an angsty teen, and my writing is a surprising display of my immaturity at the time. (While re-reading my hand-written diaries I tend to marvel at how well I expressed myself… go figure.) Realizing I have this information still online is pretty weird.

beach and sun are way more fun with someone

It had been almost nine months since I was last home. Having Collin come with me was so much fun. I may require him to always come from now on. I’m not a huge fan of freeway driving or LA roads, but we went on some great adventures I wouldn’t normally do. We found Collin’s home from the first few years of his life in Pasadena and rode all the way down Sunset Boulevard. We even saw the LA IAC building, which was exciting for a second. We visited with my high school friends at OHOP – Original House of Pancakes, which I only just learned originated in Portland, OR. We met up with Collin’s NYU friends currently in LA at a seriously delicious Mexican place in Santa Monica – I had forgotten how much I liked that area. I made sure we scouted out Mexican food during the whole trip, obviously. We had plenty of beach time. We even played tennis. All in four days – good times.

Ramblings · Travel

Oh, hi.

Collin and I have returned from Alaska today. We left Friday evening. Not unlike the long trip over there, I feel very disoriented right now. And we must make ourselves stay awake until a decent hour, although neither of us slept much on the red-eye.

I may have rocked out listening to the American Idiot cast album multiple times in a row… which for the record, is not great when you’re trying to sleep and Tony Vincent’s voice jumps out in “Know Your Enemy.” Woah, wake up! However, bribing me to climb steep mountains with playing the cast album on drives works very well. After seeing the show twice the week before leaving on this trip, I’m sort of verging on obsession in terms of seeing the show again. There is so much to analyze and watch and discover each time! Theater junkie needs her fix.
We had several moose sightings and one black bear with cub encounter on a path. There’s a lot of “bear-anoia,” so you spend most of your hikes talking loudly and making noise, but bear encounters almost never end badly. Still kind of freaky, though. But I was wearing plaid flannel, so I felt powerful.

Why yes, I did win a stuffed monkey in the claw machine at Fred Meyer

Anchorage and the surrounding areas are beyond gorgeous. Not only did it remind me of Oregon, but they had Fred Meyers too! Everyone needs to experience a Fred Meyer in their life. It’s everything you need in one place. And there will always be something you need at Freddy’s.

I should stop because I know I can’t make much more sense the way my brain feels right now. Later we shall adventure to dinner somewhere nearby and continue to adjust to the hot temps here. NYC decided to be a jerk and have cool weather while we were gone. UNCOOL.