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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Our Garden Overfloweth...

With some items. This has definitely been a learning year for me. Perhaps the biggest lesson... don't plant when you're angry. I got mad that most of the plants I transplanted this past spring from inside the house to outside died. So one rainy cold afternoon I went out and mounded a whole bunch of dirt and stuck in a whole bunch of zucchini and squash seeds. Oh yes I did. And everyone of them thrived. Meaning we have SO MANY ZUCCHINIS AND SQUASH that we could never possibly use them all/save them all/give them all away. But we're trying our hardest.

I've also learned to plant my rows of root vegetables (carrots and beets) thinner. I pulled so many seedlings out because they were just too close together and am still having carrots growing interwined with one another. Also, one packag of carrot seeds is probably more than enough for us (I planted two). Ditto with the beets (though at least beets are easy to pickle and save for later).

My cucumber plants did nothing. They definitely did not thrive.

The pumpkins are doing well and so long as there isn't a terrible frost in the next few weeks, we should have five or six pumpkins off two plants.

Our tomato plants have many fruits... and all of them are still green. Some have been like that for a month now. We think it gets too cold at night for them to ripen. Same thing with our pepper plants (they are supposed to be yellow and red peppers... and they're all still green). And you can only make so many fried green tomatoes.

And finally our snow peas were doing really well for a little while... and have now mostly shrivelled and gone to seed. Our lettuce and spinach did very well... and those are both seeding now as well.

And that's our garden! Live and learn (and be thankful I'm not actually trying to support my family on this 25 square foot space).

Friday, August 21, 2009

Last Leg...

Mesa Verde!

I had been to Mesa Verde once when I was little but honestly besides the ladders I didn't remember much... and WOW! Is there a lot to remember!

These are the ladders I remembered!

We got up early Saturday morning and were at the park shortly after it opened. We first went to the Visitors Center (like the newspaper guide they give you told us to) and there we booked tickets for two tours. The first was Balcony House and the second was Cliff Palace. We drove to the head of the first and waited for our guide.

Balcony House is definitely a smaller site than Cliff Palace but you go inside the dwellings a little bit which is pretty fantastic (considering they were built 800 years ago)! Our tour guide was alright on the Balcony House but not great... but the pictures were definitely worth it.

The balconies that "Balcony House" is named for...

This is a Kiva, an underground spiritual/ceremonial room that also perhaps functioned as a living area during the cold months. Complete with some great areas of engineering.

Me in Balcony House!

This is the tight tunnel you had to go through to get out of Balcony House. Reid and I half jokingly said they should have a mock up at the start of the tour like they do at airports ("you can not go on this tour if you do not fit in this box"). It was pretty tight.

Cliff Palace is simply visually amazing. I can't imagine being one of the two cowboys who found the site in the 1880s when they were simply riding up the canyon below. Can you imagine?? Just riding along, look up to your right and you see this! Incredible...

"Look Bob! Where do you expect that came from?"

I liked our Cliff Palace guide quite a bit. One of the great things he did was that he regularly made comparisons between the people living in the dwellings we were investigating and Europeans of the same time period. He commented that their average life expectancies and infant mortality rates were about the same. I think that's important as the native people of America tend to be labeled "primitive." But looking at the dwellings that they built, there was obviously nothing primitive besides them (besides not having the knowledge of steel). The guide also stressed that immense dwellings such as these, built with materials from many miles away, were not the dwellings of those who were struggling hand to mouth to survive. They were doing well for themselves agriculturally speaking which allowed them the time (and energy) to build these truly amazing homes. Yeah... I was impressed. And Reid and I will definitely be back.

Reid and I in front of Cliff Palace.

Three story towers! Kivas that stayed between 40 & 50 degrees all winter long!

Can you see the thousands of hand carved squared off stone bricks? Primitive... I think not!

We ate lunch and left the park about 2pm. We drove home. We got home about 6pm and though we had a really great time, both of us were grateful to be home... and our pets were happy to see us as well!

The best spot to end a long vacation!

I hope you've enjoyed our travelogue of what will probably be our last big vacation as a "couple." The next one... will most likely be a "family" vacation! Baby and garden updates to come...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Third Leg...

We got up Thursday, packed up our campsite and "got on the road." We drove from the middle of the Grand Canyon National Park to the east end and stopped to have breakfast at the little cafe near the Watchtower before we drove into the wilds of the south west. It is amazing how long the Grand Canyon is... even after leaving the park you drive for miles before you can turn north.

And turn north we did. We got to Page, AZ (where Lake Powell and a whole bunch of other stuff is) about 1pm. I desperately wanted to take a shower and lay down for just a little bit, but alas our hotel wouldn't let us check in until the designated 3pm check-in time. So... we drove over to the strip mall where the visitor's center is located, ate a quick lunch and got information about several things to do. The coolest looking thing to do (Antelope Canyon... they are amazing, well photographed slot canyons in a nearby mesa) cost over thirty dollars a person because they are on Navajo land and you have to be escorted by a guide... yeah, we weren't digging paying that much this far along in our trip.

So, we chose to drive back south just a few miles from town to go the Horseshoe Bend look-out. It's a place in the Colorado River that literally does a horseshoe bend on itself... over 1000 feet below you. And there are no rails or fences to keep you from seeing the horseshoe bend up close and personal. I snuck as far out as I dared, took one picture and then went and sat in what little shade I could find. Reid wandered around it a little bit, took some more pictures and then proved that being thirty is not too old to be a "little boy" at heart....

Isn't the bend amazing? It certainly made my palms sweat a little standing that close to the edge though...

A raven who was also hot...

Me in the tiny bit of shade I could find... the Grand Canyon had worn me out!

Reid... standing on the shady spot. And yes, of course, it was the highest point around.

The gorge of the Colorado River behind us.

By the time we got done at the look-out it was 3pm. We picked up our room key. I showered and then enjoyed laying around watching tv for a few hours. As we don't have any television reception at our house, even just watching mindless tv can seem like a vacation!

We finished the evening off at a restaurant called the "Blue Buddha," a Japanese sushi restaurant in the middle of the desert! It had a nice trendy but friendly vibe and we had a delicious meal.
The next day we got up late (yey for 11am check outs!) and drove slowly (at one point very slowly as the traffic had been closed to one lane and we sat in stopped traffic for almost an hour) to Cortez, CO. We checked into our hotel, lounged around for awhile and then had dinner at Koko's, a sports bar/grill right across from our hotel. Next stop before our return home... Mesa Verde!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Second Leg...

The Grand Canyon! This was my first trip to the Canyon. Reid had been there before but he hadn't ever hiked down into it.

We left Vegas late-ish in the morning, drove the four and a half hours to Camp Mather Campground (which is within the Grand Canyon National Park on the southern rim), crossing over the Hoover Dam to do so.

The Hoover Dam... there is a lot of construction all around.

We checked into our campsite, pitched our tent, bought some firewood and some more ice and enjoyed sitting next to a campfire (complete with a s'more!)... We were able to swap some of our favorite camping memories and campfire stories.

Reid setting up our domicile.

With a s'more in your hand this is perfect! Yeah... Reid and I are definitely more Grand Canyon people than we are Vegas people!

To say that sleeping in a tent at three months pregnant was comfortable was a stretch. But I slept alright. The worst part really was that we had brought our mummy bags which were too warm to zip up... but if I left it unzipped I couldn't sleep on my side with my supportive pillows without either my butt or my knees hanging out and getting cold. Luckily the second night we grabbed some of the polar fleece that I had bought in the fabric district... and that problem was remedied!

Tuesday morning we got up, ate breakfast and were on the tram bus by 8:30. We took the bus out to the farthest east you can go (Yaki Point) and then walked a little trail along the rim back west to the South Kaibab Trail.

Our first view of the Canyon... it was hazy in the morning, apparently because of several fires on the North Rim. Luckily it cleared up as the day went on.

I love this picture... Look how tiny Reid is... and how big the hole in the ground is!
There are two main trails on the south rim that go all the way from the top of the canyon to the river. Kaibab is the shorter but steeper of the two. I chose it because I figured it would be a little less busy than the other trail and I think I was probably right!

The top of the South Kaibab Trail... not too many people braving it!
We passed many people but there were no crowds or constant rush of people.There are signs everywhere warning you not to try and make it to the river and back in one day and we certainly didn't! I went about a mile and a quarter.

Where Reid left me... not a bad view to stare at for a little while!

Reid went the full 1.8 miles to the first major lookout (Ooh Ah Point! What a great name).

Reid when he came back and met me... five points to anyone who can tell us what the crazy green plant growing in the background is...

Then he hiked back up to me and we hiked back up together.

Two successful hikers back at the top! I know... the camelback strap is not terribly flattering... but these waterfilled backpacks are awesome for hiking!

By then it was time for lunch so we headed back to the campsite. After eating I was feeling quite warm (though thankfully the day was partly overcast and the temps hovered in the mid-eighties) so we went to one of the many museums for a short cool off and then finally drove out to the "Watchtower" which is in the Desert View, the eastern most point in the park.

I would say the tower was one of the highlights of the trip. I loved the artwork inside and the views are truly breathtaking up above.

Some of the artwork...

The view from the top of the tower

We stopped on one more trailhead (the name escapes me at the moment) and snapped a few more pictures...

Then we headed back to our campsite, made dinner, enjoyed the fire for awhile and then retired to our tent. Unfortunately I woke up at 1:30, asked Reid what time it was and when he told me I started to bolt for the tent door. He asked if I was alright and I said something along the lines of "No, I'm going to be sick." I somehow managed to bolt the hundred yards to the bathroom and did indeed break my "haven't thrown up during this pregnancy" streak. Though of course the pregnancy did contribute, I think it had more to do with the food and the physical exertion of the day before (coupled with the pregnancy)... but the reason I tell you all of this (besides so when I go back and read this blog in the future I'll remember?)... because when I opened the bathroom door, standing there waiting was my sweet husband. He had followed me to the bathroom and waited outside while I puked. Now that is love.

The next morning we woke up and packed up our campsite (but not before seeing a female elk grazing in the campsite across from ours)...

Hello Ms. Elk!

Next on our trip, a quick trip to Page, AZ and Lake Powell...

Monday, August 17, 2009

The First Leg of our Trip

Our first stay (for two nights) was VEGAS, Baby! We enjoyed ourselves there (though neither of us gambles and one of us could not take advantage of the very loose drinking laws) but both agreed that two days was probably plenty of time there (with limited cash flow there is only so much you can do)!

Reid and I in the lobby of our hotel, the Imperial Palace... and by lobby, I of course mean casino!

Reid on the strip in front of the Mirage.

Me in front of the Venetian... have I mentioned that it was hot...

This is the view from our room the first night... we actually changed rooms the second night into a room that overlooked the parking lot. Really we got the best of both worlds. You see under the circus tent down there is a live band that played until about 4am (or so we were told... luckily Reid and I can sleep through anything and both feel asleep with little trouble to the music at one in the morning). And you certainly couldn't beat that view! But the second night was nice and quiet.

Our first dinner we ate at Serendipidity 3, in front of Ceasar's on the strip...

Some of the sights of the strip... we spent a fair amount of time just wandering up and down looking at everything (even though it was SCALDING hot and I could only go very short distances before we had to escape to the air conditioning)... Like I said, hot! We didn't get to about half the strip... but I figure that gives us a reason to go another time.

The coolest part of Vegas (for both of us I think) we didn't actually get any pictures of as there was a no photo policy. We saw Mystere, a Cirque do Soleil show that has been running at Treasure Island since 1993. The costumes, sets and feats of physical prowess were INCREDIBLE (of course). But my favorite part by far were the clowns. These aren't Bozo clowns, but clowns in the traditional commedia/Italian fashion and they were so inspiring! I can't wait to talk to my students about them.
Next up... the Grand Canyon!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Raley Videos

For the grandparents... I don't know how to turn the video... sorry! You'll have to turn your head.

First, Raley learns how to turn on and off the radio!

And Raley at Swim Class (this one is pretty noisy so you may want to turn your volume down)...

And finally, Raley being cute playing with a spoon and some puff snacks...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Last Few Days

The last few days have been a whirlwind of activity... And guess what?? My camera won't talk to my computer... but it will talk to Sarah's! Hooray...

Friday, Fabric District: Sarah and I spent almost the entire day in the fabric district of LA. She had a conference call in the middle of the day that she went back to her car and partook in leaving me to wander and enjoy myself... We hit the $2/pound loft of Michael Levine's and I bought quite a few yards of polar fleece for some projects at home. I also bought material for bumble bee costumes for Tater and Winston (I figure this will probably be the last Halloween that they get too much attention!)... And some batting to make dog beds to hopefully transition the dogs to the floor and off of our bed (well... I can try!)

Saturday, Sea World: This was by far our fullest day. We drove down to Sea World San Diego in the morning. We watched the Shamu show (Raley was mildly impressed... apparently she doesn't think training killer whales is all that difficult).

Then one of Sarah's associates showed us around some of the backstage/rehab areas... this was by far the most amazing part of the day! We bottle fed a baby sea lion who had been with them since he was just a couple of days old (picked up as an orphan).

Then we got to feed and pet a 400 lb! dolphin (their largest in captivity).

I think he's posed for a few pictures... what do you think?

Then we fed some fish to the general seal/sea lion population... and we rounded it off by meeting their three manatees up close and personally!

Isn't that incredible?? They feel a lot like the hide of an elephant (their closest relative) and despite having tiny eyes apparently their vision is quite good.

After our close encounters we had some lunch (at about 3pm!), went to the "Pet Show" (a performance by dogs, cats, pigs and ducks... Raley found all of these a little more impressive than Shamu... of course our sitting closer also helped considerably) and then took turns touring the arctic exhibit while Raley took a nap in her stroller... the belugas were my favorites!

We finished the day off in Raley's favorite area, the bouncy toddler block zone. Frankly, I think we could have skipped the animals and come stright here and Raley would have been happy. But Dan and I though the manatees were pretty amazing!

She was in hard core delivery mode for most of her time, bringing us block after block...

Then Sunday was swim class... Sarah, Dan and Raley are enrolled in a parents/child swim class each Sunday afternoon. I'm not sure that Raley loves it, but it is definitely exciting for her.

Splashing is good...

The whole family... "come on mom, splash!"

"Wait? You want me to jump in?"

On Friday, while in the fabric district, I got a call from Second City... apparently there weren't enough people enrolled in my class for this week and so they cancelled it! Yeah, good thing I didn't buy a plane ticket/reserve a hotel room for this thing hunh? I was not pleased. However, it did mean that I am getting to have a "leisurely" week this week. So yesterday, I went to the Samuel French Bookstore in downtown Hollywood... amazing!! I could have spent HOURS in there and much more money than I have but I was good and limited myself to a hand full of scripts and a reference book for one of my classes. And luckily all of the books are tax write-offs because I use them in my profession!

Then last night I drove back to downtown Hollywood and went to an improv performance at the iO Theatre. I figured if I can't be in a workshop this week I'll at least see as much improv as I can which should really fuel me into my improv class this fall. Last night was very funny... and I'm looking forward to either another night at the same theatre this evening or an evening at Second City. Either way it is sure to be funny!

And that is a wrap on my last few days.