Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Adventures in California: Yosemite Video

This will give you a good idea of how powerful and full the waterfalls were when we visited Yosemite last week...

I apologize for the shoddy camera work. And for the shot up my nose in the end. :)


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Barnes and Noble

I walk in to the local Barnes and Noble bookstore and the familiar, enlightening fragrance of paper and coffee floods my olfactory senses. I've often wondered why this delicious smell has yet to be represented in a perfume.

"Oh wow... what's that you're wearing?"

"It's the new B&N fragrance, 'Tomes of Desire'..."

"Oh, Baby, you are a book I can NOT put down..."

Uh huh.

There's something seriously profitable here.

Men can't resist it. :)


Monday, April 27, 2009

My Adventures in California: Part One of Three

Last week I hit up California with my good friend, Mike, and had a blast. We stayed with his parents in Merced and visited Monterrey, Big Sur, Yosemite, Carmel, Sol Vang, and other extremely beautiful locales. Simply driving through the vast groves, orchards, and vinyards of the golden state was enough for me to enjoy the vacation, but adding on that the majesty of Yosemite and the endless blue expanse of the ocean turned this road trip into one that I will never forget.

Join me now as I take you on a MAGICAL JOURNEY!


No, I'm not smoking medical marijuana, although it is legal in California.

I'll start with the beginning of the trip, which was Sunday - the drive in.

This is what Merced looks like. You've got your nice balance between dry, weedy ground, lush vinyards, and the occasional row of palms.

Many farmers grow invisible crops. It's a miracle of horticulture.

As we drove in, we saw skydivers landing in the field adjacent to the freeway! This guy was having a hard time keeping away from traffic, though. I was a little worried for him.

More skydivers. I'd like to think the guy in the upper left corner lost a bet and had to wear a rainbow parachute.

On Monday, we drove out to Monterrey on Highway 152 which passes through these beautiful rolling hills. Sadly, this picture doesn't do the scenery justice.

We stopped at the tidepools and were greeted by this animatronic seagull. All the real seagulls died years ago in the great "Gull flu" pandemic.

Animatronic dead sea urchin. Didn't do much.

Sea glass! Don't you love sea glass? Sadly, I lost this piece.

Here I stand on rocky shores, watching waves crash below.

I fell in love with the color of the water under this building.

View from the restaurant where we ate clam chowder.

After Monterrey, we drove south on the Big Sur coastline to where we'd camp for the night. The bridge you see in the distance was built in the 1930's.

More of the gorgeous Big Sur coastline.

This little campsite is about a mile from the beach and featured firepits, bathrooms, and a bed of thick, soft grass. It made for good sleep.

The next morning, as we were walking out to the beach, we saw a lynx! It just kept looking back at us, keeping about 40 feet ahead of us, but acting pretty chill. It was about as big as a grown dog!

So beautiful...

The water was freaking cold, but we managed to enjoy it for an hour or so.

We found more tidepools which were full of these cute little sea anemones.

Sea Urchins, too!

Tuesday ended with a trip to a place we'd seen on the Travel Channel called "Jade Cove." You can hunt around down there among the rocks and surf for pieces of jade! We had fun, but didn't find anything bigger than a nickel. I did talk to a diver though, who showed me a peice as big as my camera that he had found that day. I kick myself now for not taking a picture of it. :(

Anyway, part two (Yosemite) and part three (the car show) of this trip will be up soon!


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Once Again...

I'm in California right now.  

It's so fun to say that.  :)  I was recently in southern California, and am now in Merced, which lies near the center of the state.  A previous roommate of mine, Mike, came out to visit his parents for a week and invited me to tag along.  Gas is relatively cheap to what it was a year or so ago, so I figured I'd enjoy another foray into the golden state.  

We spent the last two days in the Monterrey area.  If you've never been, I suggest you go once in your life.  It's a beautiful city, and to the South lies a gorgeous area known as "Big Sur".  Highway 1 runs along the coastline here and treats you to some of the most breathtaking scenery you'll ever enjoy.  I shot the picture at the head of this post on one of the many "pull over" points on the highway.  

I will post more when I get home.  I have a million pictures that I can't wait to show you.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

13.1 Miles Later...

Today I ran my first ever half-marathon! To date, it's the longest continuous run I've ever completed. If you remember from this post, I was pretty nervous about the whole thing. Injuries to my shins kept me from training for two weeks, so I felt very under-prepared.

Needless to say, I was up this morning at 4:30 for a breakfast consisting of a toasted bagel, an Oddwalla bar (flavor: banana-nut-something), and a lot of water. Power food, baby! At 5:15, Scott and I drove up to the gateway, got on trax, and made it up to the legacy bridge at around 6:55. Mind you, the race started at 7:00.

Well, we needed to use the restroom and drop off our gear bags and the like, so we headed out to do that and before you know it we hear "three... two... one... BANG!!!" The race had started.

No biggie. We took our time and started about 10 minutes after everyone else.

To make a long race-story short, I felt really great for the first 8 miles! Oh man... it felt as if I'd run 4 miles. Really. It was so weird, but great! I decided to pick up the pace for the last 5 and still felt good till about mile 10. Armed with the knowledge that I only had three miles left, though, I blazed ahead. The low point of the entire thing was on State Street where you make a final climb up the hill to the capitol. UGGGH! Death to your legs! After that, though, you're gifted with a long, downhill coast to the finish line.

I ended up finishing it in 1 hour and 41 minutes! That amounts to 7:45 mile splits! My goal was to finish in under two hours, so I was really happy with my performance.

Enjoy these pictures from throughout the day!

My family came up to cheer for me! Nothing gives you that rush you need like loved ones cheering you on. Oh, how I love them!

Shan took this picture and many more. I felt really good here. (about mile eight)

Thumbs up and a smile! A good sign, generally speaking.

Danny got this shot of me in the final chute to the finish line. I was blazing and nearly dead. Like a zombie on fire.

Creamies! One of the finer free treats at the end of the race! I ate like five.

Scott and I proudly displaying our "Everybody Wins" medals. :) Participation prizes ROCK!


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Happiest Place on Earth

I was in Disneyland last weekend getting my ride on. Dad and I went down last Thursday for a three-day theme park sprint. We wore ourselves out, but ended up having a ton of fun.

Here's how it went down...

We arrived Thursday morning to overcast skies. The weather was a pleasant 65 degrees.

We get to the park and the first ride we decide to go on is... yeah... Splash Mountain. Notice Dad's futile attempt at keeping dry. He brought a poncho on board, but couldn't get it on, so he just flattened it out against him. This kept him dry from the inital sprinkle that came over the front of the log car, but was utterly ineffective when, soon thereafter, a tsunami-sized wave crashed over the right side. Thursday was a soggy day for us, even without rain.

The fastpass is essential to a good, fulfilling Disneyland experience. Without it, you'll spend most of your day in lines. With it, you'll spend most of your day laughing at those standing in lines.

Thunder Mountain Railroad is a classic. It's one of the more rugged rides at Disneyland and if you let it catch you off guard, you'll get a free back adjustment.

In tomorrowland this enormous ball of stone sits atop a fountain of water, allowing it to be spun with little effort. The kids love it.

As we stood in line for the monorail I snapped this shot of the Matterhorn, with the "Finding Nemo" submarines in the foreground. We went on the Matterhorn four times. It's got just enough of that "theres-no-way-in-hell-this-car-is-securely-fastened-to-the-track" feeling to make it fun AND scary.

The caption reads: "The magic of Disneyland may cause the urge to spring from your seats and dance."

Forground: Barry. Background: Matterhorn. Location: Monorail.

That monorail is two weeks old. Brand spanking new.

I wonder if adult midgets take offense at this sign.

We waited 40 minutes in the line for the Casey Jr. train ride. 40 minutes! I was mildly annoyed. Then I saw the amazing miniature landscapes and forgot about my anger. Disneyland is like that. It has the power to push your patience to the limit one moment, and soothe you with little cottages the next.

This guy was our jungle cruise tour guide. He was pretty funny, but most people on board didn't get his humor. And why the white gloves? Did he just take off his Mickey costume? Is he afraid of germs? We'll never know.
Bonus points to you if you can tell me what time this picture was taken...

Ducks. They love Disneyland. It's full of food scraps and free of predators.

One of the best rides in the "California Adventure" park. Check out the video below...

The only time I really, truly, almost dropped my camera was when I took this picture.

Hands down the best ride I've ever been on for the sheer sense of giddy euphoria you experience after the fact.

I'd have my hands up if I didn't have to hold onto my camera.

Foreground: Me and Dad. Background: Thunder Mountain.

Dad and I in the "Blue Bayou" restaurant, enjoying dinner. The restaurant is situated inside the same building as the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. So cool! We sat on the waterfront and watched people float calmly by in their boats, soon to cascade down the falls into the actual ride.

Dad surveys the map while we wait in line for something in fantasyland.

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. He appears to be checking the weather, no?

It's not that I'm a bad driver. It's just that so many people keep jumping in front of the damn car.

I'm on the Matterhorn Bobsleds here. Dad sat behind me and asked me to turn around and smile in the pitch black of the initial climb. If you look carefully you can see just a little bit of the fake rock tunnel.

So beautiful at night. I wish I had faster glass.

Nothing compliments the fireworks show like a rock-hard Toll House ice cream sandwich. Worth all of the 5.00 they charge for it.

Ohh... the fireworks are great. Every night they put on this fantastic show themed on the park's most popular rides. Dad said he'd pay the entrance fee just to come see the fireworks. I think he was exaggerating, but not by much.

Throngs of weary, but content people leave the park as their Disneyland experience comes to a close. We had a great time. Thanks, Dad!