Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I have, more than once on this trip, been rendered speechless and absolutely awestruck by beauty--and for that San Francisco, I thank you.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

San Francisco!!! (Part Two)

San Francisco (and the surrounding area) is beautiful.

My first few hours in the city were a wonderful reminder of that. To start, the architecture is full of wonderful surprises, wherever you look. It says something about the people that they put so much pride and creativity into their homes and buildings.
Some people visiting San Francisco will make a special trip to Alamo Square to visit the famous Painted Ladies.  But I find 'painted ladies' in every neighborhood I visit.
And the natural beauty here is breathtaking.

The last time I was here, was about 10 years ago. I remember finding a spot in Golden Gate Park where about a dozen humming birds were feeding. I spent all day trying to get a picture, but my camera (and my photography skills) weren't up to the challenge. This time it was easier. This little guy lives in the back yard of the house where I'm staying.

San Francisco is definitely  eye candy, whether you're looking up

or down.

Next post...I go out to sea, Whale Watching!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

San Francisco!!! (Part One)

On Friday the 13th, I flew out on my first vacation in two years. I'm out here tagging along. My sister is out here for a wedding and rented an apartment. I'm hanging out here and will be headed out to Berkley for a weekend to visit a friend for a few days before I go.

For me, vacation doesn't start till I am on the plane. I am a home-body by nature. Getting me to leave my home, my cats, my routine--even when it's all work and little play--generally involves a lot of angst and a crow bar.

I travel best with my husband, but this year, he's home. He's staffing an Instructor Development Course (it's a SCUBA thing) and taking care of our pride of cats, two of which are currently on medication.

But as I said, vacation starts when I get on the plane. So I will start there.

There's one thing I've wanted to do on a plane for quite a while--that is to watch Airplane!  It's an odd goal, but ever since I found out, via the director's cut, that the movie was only shown as the in-flight movie on one flight, I've wanted to view it on a plane.  So I rented it via iTunes before I left and there I was.

I'm so glad I did it. Travel in economy class is less than fun. It's cramped, cramped, and did I mention cramped? But watching Robert Hays buy his ticket "one way, no luggage" and being reminded why it's a bad day to give up smoking/ stop drinking/ quit sniffing glue really made laugh. And the guy next to me kept sneaking peaks at my laptop while the movie played, which was funny in itself.

The other thing I like to do when I fly is take pictures. I am fascinated by what we can see from planes, the landscape, the textures, the colors.  Paul got me a new camera for our anniversary and where I usually shoot a few pictures from the plane, thanks to the wonders of digital photography, I took over 400. I don't expect all of the pictures to be interesting to someone else, but here's a selection to show what catches my eye.

I never get tired of looking at the clouds.
I love how farmland looks like a patchwork quilt.
Round crop plots fascinate me.
I love that I saw so many wind farms. It made me very happy.
The textures of the natural landscape are beautiful.
I find it amazing that I can see a mountain range from the sky.
This is what I saw when the pilot announced we were 100 miles from our destination.
The weary traveler has landed.
My first glimpse of the hills of San Francisco
More to come! Stay tuned for music, food, whales, rain forests, and birds--and I'm only here four days so far!

In the mean time, check out what I'm up to on my Facebook feed in the margin, or skip to the chase and become a fan!

Monday, August 16, 2010

About Last Weekend: Rescue Diving, Balloons and Tie-Dying

So here is my catch up post.

Last The weekend of Aug. 8-9 was amazing! For one, I finally did my dives for my Rescue Diver cert.  Special thanks to Chris Muller for playing the 'distressed diver' for me. I failed to rescue him several times and when I finally did rescue him, well I hauled him out of the water and dropped him on a pointy rock. Luckily he wasn't hurt and the exercise is as much about learning strategies and our own limits as it is about succeeding in the rescue.

After the dive, Paul and I went for dinner and after that, we took an unexpected detour. When we left the restaurant, Paul spotted a hot air balloon. So we gave chase.

We tracked it for several miles, eventually it passed over us, and came to settle in an athletic field--but not before we had the pleasure of witnessing some impressive, precision flying as the pilot guided the balloon through the goal posts.

All this was followed by the smoothest landing we've ever seen.

If you're curious, we spoke to the pilot after and he gave us his card:
American Balloon
And finally, tie-dye.

The next day, my niece had a tie-dye birthday party. Everyone was issued a white t-shirt when they arrived. On a table was a few boxes of rubber bands. Gloves, buckets of dye and fixer (I think it was vinegar) waited outside. (My sister did a great job getting all this planned.)

Anyway, I had never tried it before and was excited to try my hand at it. Paul picked up a couple of adult sized Ts for me so I could try. I close with the results.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Busy Weekend and Busy Week

I am up to my ears this week but I wanted to at least post a preview of some of the things I plan on writing about.

This weekend was a very full one. Paul and I got started on a few projects we've been talking about for a long time. One was to get me through my dives for Rescue Diver.

Now I'm contemplating going for Dive Master, a professional rating, over the course of this coming year. I am also thinking about getting trained as an EMT--if it fits into my teaching schedule for this year.

Saturday afternoon, on the way home from diving, we found ourselves on a spontaneous balloon hunt.

And then Sunday, at a party celebrating my niece's birthday, I tried my hand at tie-dying for the first time.

This week I am preparing for a trip. This means packing and planning and an a 2 hour activity that I call disarming my purse. (So many things you're not allowed to carry any more!)
And once again, I am posting well after midnight. So off to bed with me. More to come when I can catch my breath!