Wednesday, March 19, 2008

March 6th, 2008 - Fidalgo Island and Mt. Erie

I have known about this place ever since I was in high school. My then boyfriend's parent's had property on Whidbey Island so we would drive up there on weekends to camp and hang out. One of my favorite stops before getting to Deception Pass (which is the bridge to Whidbey Island on the north side of the island) was Mt. Erie. You can drive to the top and on a clear day you can see all of the San Juan Islands.

My back was still hurting from my driving up from L.A. just a couple days before, so I knew if I wanted to go anywhere it would have to be close. Of course when asked, I decide to go to a place 80 miles away.

Mt. Erie is on Fidalgo Island and is it's highest point. The main reason for going to the top of the mountain is the view, and specifically the view of the only island within an island in United States.
Located in the center of Campbell Lake, the island is actually listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.

The day was very hazy, and seeing as I only have the use of my iPhone for a camera the pictures didn't turn out as clear as I would have liked.

What I love most about being at the top of this mountain is how expansive the world looks. Almost like you are standing in front of a movie backdrop, it's hard to wrap your head around it and it looks a bit surreal. I tried to shoot it with my friend in the foreground as he was taking it all in, but it doesn't really capture the feeling that almost makes you aware of how small we really are.

On the other side of the mountain you can look out towards the oil refineries, but in the background you can also see Mt. Baker. On the drive up to our destination, I saw Mt. Baker
looming on the horizon and I was in awe. Just like when I saw Mt. Shasta a few days ago, I was blown away with the idea that I could actually see that much of the mountain. My memories of Washington while I was living in LA consisted only of Mt. Rainer and vague ideas of places I had spent time in. I knew they were beautiful, but wasn't able to appreciate how much nature I was taking in everyday. Visiting these places now is almost like seeing them for the first time.

On Mt. Erie there is also areas to climb around on rocks and my friend took the opportunity to do that, while once again proving that a fear of heights can be conquered, if only while having a camera in your hand.

My back was hurting so instead of heading to Deception Pass, we decided to go back home. Both my friend and I get afflicted with the grumpy's when we don't have food in us, so we stopped at a restaurant on the way back and had a burger and a laugh with the waitress. We were the only customers in there, so she chatted with us. It was nice to be in a small town again, and in the distance I could see the bay. I just felt really lucky to be there in that moment, with my good friend, in that beautiful space. It will always be a good memory.

Monday, March 17, 2008

My Last Week In LA and Drive Home #2

My former boss was lovely enough to fly me back to Los Angeles after moving back home to Seattle to train my replacement. I was put up at the Westin Pasadena and was given a rental car for the week. I had hesitations about coming back to Los Angeles. Things were going very well with my new friend and I was afraid that if I left we would have to start building it back up again. It's always hard in a long distance relationship. There is a passion in it that sometimes is lacking when you have the opportunity to see that person anytime. The agony of having to leave them, the excitement of seeing them again, and in our case learning how to be a couple together.

I had been friends with him for a very long time and the simplest things that a couple would do were new to us. We knew the passion and the friendship, but had no idea how to do the relationship thing. We were both older and had been in hard relationships in the past and both were afraid to repeat past mistakes. So by the time I left for Los Angeles the last time, we were at the point of learning how to do domestic things together, learning how to live together and how to be emotional with each other. It was really a beautiful process and I was sad to leave him. However, I knew it was only a week and the best part was I knew when I was going to be see him again so it wasn't going to be sad.

I left on a plane Feb. 24th. I was flying my favorite airline (Alaska) and was really excited because I had a window seat and would have a lovely view of the mountains as we flew down. I was able to take a couple pictures of Mt. Rainer but of course a picture from an airplane window doesn't do it justice.

Turns out there was a lot of clouds and I really didn't get to see much. Which was alright since I had some work to do, so I just buried my head in my laptop.

As we made our decent into Burbank Airport, the gentleman who had been sitting in the isle seat suddenly was in the middle seat and was leaning over me trying to look out the window. Total personal space invasion and my first instinct was woah buddy get the hell out of my face. He said "I've never flown into L.A. before, what's that? and what's that?!" So trying to be the kind Seattlite, I tried to explain a few things to him and suggest a few places to go. It was a bit weird, he spent like 20 minutes in my seat basically.
I was glad to finally land.

Monday was spent training, then that evening I went out with my friend and co-worker Lisa to have a few drinks. I was exhausted and ended up going back to the hotel after, ordering room service and falling asleep.

Tuesday I met up with the Jen's for some foosball at the Cha Cha in Silverlake. Foosball with Jen Svejda is an adventure and she didn't disappoint this time. There was a point where she was playing three other guys while at least 10 others looked on. Jen Sperling and I had to raz her a little bit before she ended up coming over to us and spending some time with the girls. But the foosball table's call was too alluring and she was at it again not too long after.

Wednesday Bill took me out for dinner. It was an interesting experience. I was tired, grumpy, hungry and still flustered that I had to be in Los Angeles. Unfortunately my attitude didn't bode well for Bill, and we ended up fighting most of the evening. We did however take time out to drive into downtown to see Carroll Avenue, one of the first suburbs of L.A. and where many San Francisco shows are filmed due to the Victorian architecture of the homes.

Thursday was a lovely evening with Jen Sperling and her boyfriend Travis. We ordered food from CPK, ate it on the rooftop pool of my hotel overlooking Pasadena City Hall. That night I called Del and all hell broke loose. I don't even remember what we were fighting about. It just got worse and worse, I hung up on him...didn't get any sleep and woke up to call him in the morning to hopefully smooth over what happened the night before, but the damage was done. He was starting to pull away.

Friday, my last day at True Music, I spent with Sperling (who looked excellent, by the way), Lisa and her good friend Dupe at a bar downtown called Seven Grand. A beautiful scotch bar, we had a lot of fun listening to music, laughing and drinking. I had our lovely server suggest their best drinks for me, and the last one I had was this snow cone looking mint julep type beverage that as the ice melted and the drink came together was soooo good. The funny thing was, I wasn't too sad to be leaving. I was going to miss my friends and the town, but I was really excited to start my new life with Del and to be home.

Saturday I made the drive down to Bill's house to get my car and to return the rental to LAX. We went together to get my car washed and oil changed, had lunch sitting at the car wash place and then returned to his place to pack the rest of my stuff into the car. It was an emotional moment. I had brought over a bottle of scotch that I had bought the night before, but didn't want to take with me. With one final walk through of the home I spent three years in, we toasted to each other with a shot of the scotch and I started my drive home.

He made me a cd of songs to leave town with, starting off with "Breathe Me" by Sia. Six Feet Under had been our favorite show, and in the series finale Claire drives away to New York from LA to start her new life with this song playing in the background. A very emotional montage follows and I was never able to hear that song again without crying. Needless to say, I had so many tears streaming down my face that it was hard for me to see the road. After the cd played, I promised myself no more tears. I was moving forward and on to a new experience.

My friend Justin was also driving up to Seattle, but from San Diego and had stopped in the Bay Area for a couple days. I had hoped to catch up with him so we could do the drive together, but he had a few hours on me and we ended up just keeping each other company on the phone. He suggested I stop at a sandwich place called Granzella's in Williams, CA which is about 90 miles south of Redding. By the time I got there, it was closed but I saw a Motel 6 and figured it was around 10 and a good time to stop and sleep.

I woke up Sunday morning and went over to Granzella's, which turned out to be a great suggestion by Justin as I was able to get breakfast and a sandwich for later. After hanging out for a minute there and talking to the locals, I headed out on my final leg.

I didn't take too many pictures, but I was blown away by Mt. Shasta. I had taken this drive so many times and for some reason had forgotten how beautiful Shasta is and I couldn't stop taking pictures of it the whole time that it was visible to me. At first from the car, as I wanted to send the picture to my friend Lisa since she had never been up this way before. But then as it came into full view, I just kept shooting.

To the right you can see Black Butte, which is a lava dome from Shasta. Click on the link to read more about it.

Here is a shot with my little girl. She was such a trooper the whole drive up. Not a single problem arose even though she was loaded to the top with all my beanie babies and clothes.

These were the last pictures I took. As night was upon me I decided to just power through and keep on going till home. The only time I was really emotional was as I crossed over the Washington border from Portland. I knew it was going to hit me and I quickly searched for the right song to play as I crossed into my home state.

My ipod landed on MuteMath and the song "Control":

Move me up through the darkest clouds
Till I've lost in the sun every shadow of doubt
There is no better find than to find myself with you
In a fog you are all I see
I'm inviting you closer with each time I breathe
Surrender has somehow become so beautiful.

I made it home by 1:30 am, very tired, but happy.

The First Drive Home - Day 3

The day started out with a hangover from the rum the night before and a quick retreat out of Eureka, but not before stopping at the only Starbucks in town.
Note to self, always be wary of a one Starbucks town.

We missed most of the Redwoods the night before so the next lovely thing we would get to see would be the Oregon Coast, which I had never been to before. Our first glimpse of the beach was breathtaking and intense and gloomy and gray and beautiful. Everything I thought it would be.

The first place we stopped was a beach that had black sand. We took pictures from the top, but seeing as we can't leave well enough alone and must climb down and around and up everything we come across, we took the hike down to the beach. I loved the fact that our footsteps were the only ones there...

As you can see, the sky was very gray. It made it very hard for me with my little iPhone to take any good pictures, but I'm sure my friend got some really great shots which I hope to be able to share with everyone soon.

We even got in a little rock climbing!

Ok, so it was more out of necessity to get back to the freeway, but still those rocks were high!

We came into a city named Whaleshead, and a bumpy ride down a very steep and potholed filled road showed us why. After taking the path down and walking through stream run off and beautiful beachwood we were blessed with a view of the rock they call Whales Head (the one in the center, just in case you still have no idea what I'm talking about)

It became dark and we decided to head over to I-5. After a stop in Eugene to get some food at House Of Chen (sooo good) and a stop at a rest area around 1am for a power nap, we finally made it to Bellevue around 2:30 am. It was a long drive, filled with good times, great stories, being silly, Monster Elk, I'm Ron Burgundy?, and a really good friend. I wouldn't have traded it for the world and I'm glad I was able to experience it.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The First Drive Home: Day 1 and 2

There were two drives home for me. My friend was sweet enough to drive down from Seattle to L.A. and load up as much of my stuff as he could in his Explorer. The point was for me to load up his car and mine and we would rent a trailer to tow my car behind him. Thanks to Firestone, Uhall won't rent any trailer they carry to a Ford Explorer. Stupid exploding tires...

Since I really wanted to take the 101 up through California and Oregon, I figured the only way to do so was for me to ride in the Explorer and leave my car down in L.A. for a second trip up. Luckily my old boss was nice enough to fly me down the next week to train my replacement. I was put up in the Westin Pasadena and was rented a car. It was heaven :)

We left Los Angeles on February 15th and drove to Camarillo to spend the evening and next morning with my family. It was really hard to leave them the next day. However we were given their blessings and with a promise to me that we would be able to visit them again soon we took off on the 101 towards San Francisco.

Of course the drive up was beautiful. We stopped at my favorite hotel, The Madonna Inn. When I was younger my great-grandma Mamo used to take me here specifically for the Men's restroom.
It's actually just a waterfall for a urinal, that unfortunately wasn't even working when we visited. However the main dining room is entirely decorated in pink and all the rooms have theme's. I highly recommend checking out the link. You have to see it to believe it.

We made it into South S.F. around 7ish. Since I wanted to meet up with my friends Amy and Andrew, we figured we'd grab a cheap hotel down there and then drive into the city. We were so exhausted by the time we made it into downtown, this was the only night picture I was able to take. It's a building in North Beach that I'm sure has been captured a million times better by other photographers, but I thought it was pretty so....yeah. We had dinner at this cute little Italian place and unfortunately we were so tired that we just weren't great guests to my friends. Retreating back to our hotel in a carbohydrate haze from all the pasta, we passed out until morning.

The next day was a lovely trip. We started out early, driving up to Twin Peaks to catch the view of the city. It was really amazing to watch the changing weather from that height. You can actually see the fog rolling in and out. It's interesting for a photographer, I would assume, since every second that passes can make the shot can look totally different.

I've always found this spot inspiring, even though I know it's a complete tourist trap. Honestly though, there is something cathartic about stepping back from the world and taking it all in instead of being stuck in the middle of it all the time. You never really get to appreciate how expansive and beautiful a place, or a situation, is until you get away from it and look back.

We then headed to the Palace of Fine Arts, which was getting a makeover, but still looked beautiful. I had actually never been there in all the time I had spent in SF. It's almost like an old palace that has been deserted and over run by the pond, vines, and time. I can only imagine a concert there would be an overwhelming experience.

I also liked the duckies :)

Then off to the Golden Gate we went. It's actually not my favorite bridge in SF (the Bay Bridge at night takes that distinction) but it's iconic and I knew my friend would want to take some shots. It was cold and packed full of tourists, but we did manage to take a couple pics here.

Oh so silly....

We drove and drove and took pictures (most of which with my friends' cam so they won't be on this post) and drove. We finally stopped in Eureka and ate at an Applebee's, drank a bottle of rum and then passed out again from a long day of driving.
Two days in and we still hadn't left the state of California.
Next up, the Oregon Coast.

My Home For The Last 4 Months In Los Angeles

I think only two people ever visited me in the house I lived in for the last four months of my stay in L.A.

Located in Highland Park, which was only 5 minutes north of downtown off the 110, I was nestled in the hills in a neighborhood with tons of Craftsman homes. Some were restored to their original stunningness, but there were quite a few in total disrepair.

Luckily, many young couples were discovering the city and these houses and were buying them up for restoration. I am sure in a few years it will be a real up and coming neighborhood and the property values will soar.

This home was a strange experience for me. I was living with 7 other people (the house was quite large and we all had our own rooms) but I never really saw them, except in the morning if my car was parked behind one of theirs. The nearest Starbucks was over 5 miles away and a majority of the stores around me were Mexican markets. My first week was really hard, but I gradually got used to it and honestly learned to love it.

From the patio I could look towards downtown, which was just over the hills in the background. As the sun was setting I could watch the sun gleam off of the planes as they made their turn over downtown to take their final descent into LAX.

One of my favorite things about the house was the patio and these Adirondack chairs. I've always loved that type of chair and had a dream that when I had my own home I would have these big loungy chairs to sit on and take in a beautiful view. They were one of the selling points to me when I decided to rent the room here. I remember the day that I decided to take full use of them. It was a beautiful evening and the sun was just setting. I had a glass of wine in one hand and my favorite book in the other. I started to walk over to the chair and I looked down just in time to see a large parade of ants making their way right for my destination...

It ended up being a lovely sunset, taken in from my living room window :)

Hello and welcome!

As I'm sure everyone knows by now, this month I made the move back to Washington from living in Los Angeles for the last 4 and a half years. I have yet to find a job, but I have a lovely place to live in Bellevue and a partner in crime to go on fun adventures with.

I'm hoping this blog will be a way for me to show my friends and family my life here, my adventures here and afar, and to just keep in touch with everyone I miss so much.

Please check back often. Hopefully it will keep me on my toes to be repeatedly updating!

Cheers :)