Tuesday, December 30, 2008

An Extraordinary Year

Looking back on 2008, it seems almost unfathomable all that has transpired. When we rang in the new year, Ben was living in San Francisco and now one year later we're married and in Seattle.

The year started off with traveling adventures to St. Louis and then the six-week trek around western Europe. Those trips were amazing and changed our course together--i.e. if you can spend six weeks of 24/7 togetherness carrying a heavy backpack, lost, tired and smelly, and still find each other appealing, than the sky's the limit. 

The summer was full of wedding planning, a lot of running, and preparing to leave our beloved Portland for the Emerald City. Truthfully everything after September 21st (the move date) is a blur filled with new jobs, the realization I am a student again and have to be self-motivated, to the wedding and everything else in between. We are still mourning the loss of Pablo, yet with the circle of life were blessed with little angels (Emily & Luke, Cameron).

In the last few days of 2008, I am enjoying my freedom and sleeping in, while Ben works tirelessly at his new job. It doesn't seem fair, and I do feel guilty, but as he keeps reminding me, everything will change come Monday so I better enjoy it. And so I am.

We hope the new year brings everyone happiness, joy, love and lots of laughter. See you in 2009.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Oh How Fast Things Can Change

Two weekends ago on Saturday evening (December 13) it started to snow. As excited as I was when I saw the first few flakes, I was worried about Katie and Mark driving to Seattle for the Jingle Bell Run the next day, and whether or not the race would be canceled. Katie assured me that the Jingle Bell organizers would not cancel the race ("no matter what"), so we watched the snowflakes accumulate knowing that tomorrow we would be running "no matter what."

At 6:15 a.m. the alarm went off and the four of us (Ben to work; KT, Mark and I to the race) headed out the front door and walked downtown in the freezing (24 degrees) weather. To make a long story short, I fell, we thought the race started at 8 a.m. and were downright flabbergasted when at 7:15 a.m.we realized in the "Arctic Blast" that we had to make ourselves warm until 9 a.m. when the race really started. Mark was so excited, since this was his first race, and we traveled from booth to booth gathering free stuff (coffee, blinking lights, handwarmers, chapstick) and then resided in the mall until it was race time.

We ran carefully through the icy streets (making sure to not run over any elves, santas, reindeer, penguins or gingerbreadmen...we apparently missed the dressing up memo), and then faster through the tunnel where the ground was safe and a spontaneous chorus of Jingle Bells broke out. After the race we walked home, enjoying the cold weather, feeling like true Northwesterners (no weather will stop us) and went home to eat pancakes hoping it would snow more (once KT and Mark made it safely to Tacoma).

Oh how fast things change...

It is now 1.5 weeks later and I hate the snow and cold weather. HATE IT! I actually went outside yesterday and shouted two words I never thought I'd say: "STOP SNOWING!" Growing up in Longview, or the Northwest in general, we typically do not see snow, so when it falls, we normally rejoice at it's beauty, the rare chance to have a "snowday" from school and work and bundle up in our jammies and just enjoy the silence it brings.

Not anymore.

It won't stop. It won't allow us to leave the house (I feel like I'm on lockdown), nor will it allow anyone else to travel. Friends are stuck in New York and California. Family are stuck in Portland and Seattle and the snow is threatening to keep us apart for Christmas. Granted, everyone is safe, with electricity, running water and lots of food, but every night I pray for rain. Whoever thought people in Longview, Portland or Seattle would want rain...

Oh how fast things change.

Merry Christmas wherever you might be.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Student's Wish

Dear paper fairy,

Please come over and finish my papers that are due next week. They are already started, but since I am suffering from either severe lack of motivation or writer's block, or just anxiety about making these papers ridiculously perfect and trying to salvage my grades that have indeed suffered this quarter due to multiple external forces (i.e. a move, wedding, etc.) I can't seem to finish them.

Okay, okay, you're busy...fine. Do you think that when you are swooping down to help another floundering student you could hit the kid across from me at the table in the library with your magic club (wand...whatever) on the head so that he'll turn his terrible, and I mean terrible, and super loud music down that is blasting through his headphones and causing me to have to put on my headphones just to drown him out? I know I'm from Longview, and enjoy my fair share of country music...but that is just bad. And in my arsenal? That's right it's the Christmas with the Rat Pack CD, take that! Because it's the only thing I have downloaded on my laptop besides the Charlie Brown Christmas which is coming up next. Christmas joy coming at you all day long. I hope he pukes on my early December joyfulness (well at least when I'm not doing papers).

Of course, it's not half as annoying as the girl last week who was popping her gum while doing her math homework. I appreciate you stepping in and sprinkling some magic paper fairy dust over her head so that she fell asleep. Drool is better than popping. 

Yes, I will now get back to my paper. I'll still be here in a few hours and the next couple of days though if you change your mind.

Under pressure (and loves and hugs),

The student

Saturday, November 29, 2008

All 687

Here is a link to all of the photos. Kudos to Sean Morrison, the coolest wedding photographer (and probably Vancouver Washington high school teacher) ever. 


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Student Life

Head: "Angela do your homework."

Angela: "No!"

Head: "Seriously, just get it done."

Angela: "No!"

Head: "Double seriously, if you just do it, then you won't have to worry about it, be less stressed, and get to watch a movie tonight."

Angela: "...hmmm...(lip quiver)...oh man...okay...kind of...I'd probably watch a movie anyways."

Friday, November 14, 2008


When thinking about this last weekend, a few words come to mind: amazing, incredible, magical, down right fun, and of course, whirlwind. Ben and I had the most amazing time getting married and celebrating with our closest friends and family--and what a great bunch they are, especially together. Our only wish was that we would have had more time to talk with everyone, to catch-up, hear what was happening in their lives and just soak the people we love, and rarely get to see, in. That is where the whirlwind part comes in...it just goes so fast. 

Regardless, it was amazing and there will be much more to write about, but below are the "teasers" are wedding photographer sent...I can't wait for the rest, plus to see the photos and videos everyone else took.

Here are some more from Angela, the 2nd photographer:

Monday, November 3, 2008

Cutest, Most Unhappiest Truffle Maker Ever

A few weeks ago, I had this grand idea that Ben and I could make chocolate truffles for the wedding favors. We found these cute boxes, and the thought of truffles inside of them seemed perfect. I asked Ben how much trouble they would be and he said they were time consuming, but we could do it. The idea was grand until last night.

Having made all the filling, Ben started to ball the truffles...all 450 of them...everything is fine. Then the trouble began. After they are balled, the truffles need to be dipped in chocolate and rolled in cocoa powder. The first nine truffles turned out awesome...then something happened, and there was a serious malfunction. We're not sure what happened with the truffles, why they wouldn't settle, but I will say there was chocolate everywhere, a truffle graveyard in the sink, many foul words still hovering in the atmosphere...and one very, super unhappy truffle maker. 

Basically we had to abandon truffle making last night...get a good night's sleep...and then Ben started up at 7:45 a.m. this morning. There have only been a few swear words, but mostly it's pretty quiet in the kitchen, and I'm trying to stay far away. We still have chocolate everywhere, but they seem to be settling...and I can humbly admit that maybe my truffle idea wasn't so grand...next time we'll buy....but until then, I hope everyone enjoys the chocolates at the wedding.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

11 days...

11 days...and 45 billion things to do...

small things:
  • write vows...(oh wait, that goes under big things)
nevermind, i guess they're all big things...
  • create slideshow (fyi, the pictures of ben as a little boy are so cute it's ridiculous)
  • make 300 plus truffles for favor boxes
  • create music playlists for mingling and the dance party
  • get bridal party gifts
  • make sure the hair/make-up team, photographer, violinist, minister, etc. etc. etc. are all on the same page...not sure which page...maybe 84
  • order food, wine...
  • hope it doesn't freeze so there are still flowers at the farmer's market (not really a to-do, just a small dance to the rain god every night, about keeping it liquid, and not ice)
  • write thank-you's to...well...everyone...(this is actually very relaxing...i know i'm kind of sick)
  • and what was "GC"? i wrote it on my to-do list and now don't know what it was...urgh
  • keep family in check...i swear you never know the lovely intricacies of your family until it's wedding time.
  • and just a few more things...
not complaining...love planning the wedding...and not stressed...just a little overwhelmed that there isn't enough time in the day....maybe i should stop blogging...okay...bye.

Friday, October 17, 2008


This past weekend Grace and Phil got married. Grace is one of most dear friends from high school and Katie and I had the pleasure of being in her wedding party. Overall the wedding was a blast...beautiful, elegant, fun, and very reflective of the bride and groom--I mean who else would have a treasure chest of costume props for guests to take polaroid pictures with for the guest book? Tons of fun. 

Yet, one of my favorite moments of the weekend was not at the wedding, but the night before, because something chaotic must happen for every wedding. I seriously think it's a part of the wedding check list, but one that got accidentally cut-off due to the printer. 

Wedding Dress? Check
Flowers? Check
Something totally crazy, unexpected and involves a little bit of panic? Check

After the rehearsal dinner we all went back to the Best Western Loyal Inn in downtown Seattle. As her last night as a single girl, Grace wanted to go to the bar and play pinball. Fair enough. The whole bridal party was staying on the 4th floor (top of the building), so we all piled in. Doors shut, elevator moves a floor, and...stops. Nova. No go. Nervous giggle by everyone.

Now when I say everyone, I literally mean all 16 of us...like sardines. Yep, 16 of us thought we could pile in and that if we went over the 2,500 lb limit, the elevator would beep, or not move, or something safer than just stopping between floors two and three. After a minute of staring at each other and giggling, we pushed the panic button (well someone did, b/c truthfully you really couldn't see past the person two inches from your face). The conversation with the frontdesk kid went something like:

Best Western: Uhh...are you guys stuck?
Collective 16: YES!
BW: How many of there are you?
Elevator: (with hesitation)...umm 15?
BW: Are you serious?
Elevator: ...well...16...but that is beside the point...We're STUCK!
BW: Um...okay, that's probably the problem.
Collective 16: Thanks genius.

taking pictures to try and pass the time...
wave at the people outside...(thankfully one of the walls was clear and looked outside, otherwise i know there would have been pandemonium).
anonymously entering our weight into a cell phone to see if we were over the limit (83 lbs over to be exact)....
calling loved ones...

Finally, we pushed the panic button again.

BW: Oh-yeah...the fire department is on the way.
Me (in my mind): Oh-gee thanks buddy. Thanks for keeping those stuck in the elevator up-to-date on what is going on...I mean couldn't you have told us that after you called them....hate being stuck in this elevator...is there enough oxygen, will Erin freak out...get us out!

After 20 minutes in the elevator, the fire truck rolls up-and for future reference, they don't come sirens blaring-you'll just have to sit and wait. Lights off. Power off. Doors pried open. Nice, oh so very nice, firemen pull us out. Many thank yous...and then on to pinball with a good story to tell.

The fire department shut the Best Western elevator down until they installed specific safety features. Regardless, if it worked or not, I took the stairs the rest of our stay. 

After the fiasco, Grace and Phil had a marvelous, chaos free wedding.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Poop on my Leg

I should just leave the title and not offer an explanation. I mean, doesn't the title tell the story? And, I'm not sure why someone would tell this story about themselves, but hopefully wherever Pablo is, he'll get a good laugh.

Last week I went to school and then to the gym. Upon leaving the gym in my workout gear, including shorts, I hadn't noticed that it started to rain (aka pour), so I sloshed my way to the bus-stop kicking water and mud up my bare legs. The bus ride home was the same as usual, walked the five blocks home, said hi to Ben, and headed for the shower. 

Now before getting into the shower I noticed a particular large clump of mud on my calve...or so I thought. Innocently thinking I would wipe the big clump away, I did just so...and noticed a rather un-mud-like consistency. 

This is when I started to dry-heave because as the title implies there was poop on my leg.  I'm not sure how it got there, because it wasn't my poop and there was no poop on my shoe to think I had flung it up there on my travels. My guess is that some sicko wiped poo on the lower seat of the bus, where my calf innocently rested, waiting for some poor drenched girl to take it home. Gross. And come-on...who does that happen to? Me. Lame.

Watch where your legs lie...or suffer my poo on the leg fate.

Pablo Remembered

A lot has happened since my last post, which I will write about another day and time. Today I would like to celebrate a friend who passed away this last week Paul "Pablo" Reiter. He was a remarkable man, genuine, funny, kind-hearted, and loved his wife of 21 years and son of 16 to an amount greater than any other. He will be missed, and our hearts and prayers are now with Lori and Zach.

Jen put together a blog of photos of Pablo if you want to see this great man in action.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Good Sport

The day we got back from California, Ben and I had an engagement photo session with our wedding photographer. Truthfully, this is something neither of us had heard of, and we were going to swap it out of our package deal, but our photographer told us it was a good way for him to get to know us and vice versa so the wedding day would go more smoothly. Fair enough.  At the time, Ben was all for it, yet as the day grew closer he grew more weary.

As we walked down to meet Sean Morrison, a high school photography teacher in Vancouver, and an all-around nice guy, Ben kept asking me if I was sure I wanted to do this. I reassured him everything was going to be fine knowing he a) really doesn't like his picture taken, b) really really doesn't like his picture taken for two hours and c) really really really doesn't like his picture taken for two hours in public, making lovey dovey faces at me.

We started in China Town, made our way to downtown Portland, stopped by the Ace Hotel to use their photo booth, circled back to the park blocks and then finished in Pioneer Square. Overall, Ben did really good for hating every minute of it and the pictures turned out pretty good too. There are a few when you can tell he's over it and there might have been once or twice that I told him if he looked away from the camera entirely, it wouldn't make this go any faster. I'm proud of him and glad we did the photo session, because more than anything it made me feel more confident in our photographer and I'm excited for our future wedding pics. 

You can see the photo session  here:


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Happiest Place/Race on Earth

Ben and I had a fun filled mini-vacation in Southern California. The two big highlights were running the Disneyland 1/2 marathon and then of course, going to Disneyland and running from ride to ride.

This is the 2nd year I've done the race, and the first for both Ben and my aunt Darla. We got up at 3:30 a.m. on Sunday morning to join around 15,000 other runners and walkers. The course starts in Downtown Disney, goes through both the California Adventure and Disneyland, through the streets of Anaheim, around the baseball park, back through the Cali Adv. and finishes in Downtown Disney. Overall, it's a lot of fun.

However, there are moments during the race when you mentally question yourself on what you're doing mile after mile and then, for me at least, a moment around mile 10 when your left knee starts to question what you're doing. I have never in my life had a knee pain like this, the kind that shoots up to your hip. Ben was great. He ran a solid race, felt good the whole time and was a wonderful motivator. When my knee said no more, he reminded me we were almost there...just a few more miles.

The last mile for me is always one of the toughest. You know you're almost done...that it's almost over...but the steam just isn't there sometimes. What will make you crank it up a little bit is looking at your watch and realizing you are so close to one of your goals.

Goal #1: Finish
Goal #2: If possible, beat last year's time.

Goal #1 wasn't a problem, but I wanted #2 also, so I dug deep and Ben and I cruised the last 1/2 mile. Finishing time? 6 seconds faster than last year. (I'll take it).

We cheered other runners on until we saw aunt Darla powering through to get her medal. If you've never met her, she is truly amazing. Once she says she'll do something, she goes in full speed ahead and never looks back. Last year she told Ben that if he ran the race with me, she would do it too...and there she was...kicking 13.1 miles worth of ass and taking names.

We had a great weekend and earned every trip on Space Mountain.

4:30 a.m...early but excited

All done!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

One Thing Off the To-do List

After three days of waiting and 14 million credit, eviction, criminal and reference checks, including past, present and future landlords and employers, Ben and I were finally approved for an apartment in Seattle! Capitol Hill to be exact.

My grandparents made a good point that maybe it's a good thing they were so thorough, meaning that everyone who lives there should be top-notch, but still...3 days? The kicker was that we have to pay an extra $100 refundable deposit because Ben only has one housing reference, which makes no sense to me. If we can't pay the rent, what will that extra $100 do? O-well, the point is we got it! And to top it off?

Our landlord is a clown.


He dresses up in full get-up for events such as SeaFair or Bumbershoot. Thankfully he didn't show up in full costume when he showed us the place...that would have been too much, and honestly...a little scary.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Stuck Twice

Normally I wouldn't write about something like this, but it is so comical...and typical, I just couldn't help myself. Squeamish readers beware...it's about giving blood.

A little background information is needed before I begin. First, I have A- blood, which only around 6% of the U.S. population has, making it kind of rare. I caught onto this in college, when the Red Cross called me almost every week to donate.

Also, I don't mind giving blood. I have probably donated 10-15 times and have seen the importance of donating, due to family members needing blood in critical situations. With that said, I'm not a very good blood giver. I don't get anxious, however I have either passed out or got light-headed and had to be propped back, feet up, cold rag on forehead, hand-over mouth and nose coughing, etc. on more than one occasion...okay probably 75% of the time--but I've always successfully donated. Then came yesterday.

You ever have foresight...when you just know something is going to happen? Well as I was waiting for my pre-screening at the donation site, I glanced around to see who I wanted to draw my blood and who I didn't...and then I saw her. One girl, that I knew I didn't want, but would probably get. She wasn't wearing a sign that said "I'm brand new," but she had that ora about her. The usually process followed: pre-screening, big glass of water, escorted to the bed by the nice volunteer...which bed? The newbie. The one I had picked out from the very beginning. Why do I call her the newbie? Because she flat out told me she was new. Fine. I don't care. As long as she was good.

I told her my history, that I get light-headed, which she said was fine, she'll lay me back...okay. Then she started hunting for the vein, and couldn't find one...so I switched sides, still no luck. I think my veins knew about my inclination, because the Red Cross has never had a problem finding one before. She brought over another nurse, who found one right away....great. Then apparently it went away. She called another nurse, Jim, over--he found it again...great. Then Jim squatted next to me and started asking me questions to distract me...poke...waiting...waiting, Jim and newbie switch sides, I feel the needle being moved around, Jim says he can't find it...light-headed...take it out.

Now, I know I'm a little stubborn, and I could have walked away then, but I've never not been able to donate, and the Red Cross started their old trick again, and have called me the last two weekends--Saturday morning, 9 a.m., like clockwork. So I gritted my teeth and asked Jim if he wanted to try the other arm...forget newbie. He said okay, found a vein, went through the whole process again, marking, iodine, iodine again and then...poke...nothing. Finally a third nurse came over, moved the needle around and found it.

The best part was, that I had told newbie from the beginning that I only wanted to be stuck with that damn needle once..but no, two pokes, two fiddling around with it...an hour and a half later, two bandaged arms, two cookies in the canteen and one successful A- blood donation. From now on, at least when it comes to donating blood, I'm going to trust my gut...no more newbies.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Husky Part Deux

The past couple of weeks have been filled with amazing friends and family, the most beautiful pregnant bellies in the whole world and lots of decision making. The biggest decision? It's time to become a Husky once again (not that you ever really stop). I finally made up my mind and will start school again this fall. Ben and I will pack up and head north come September, and although I am excited for our new adventure I am also sad.

I'm sad to leave Portland and will miss living with my sister and our lovely little apartment. I will miss my friends and being able to conveniently walk everywhere. I will miss weekly hot turkeys at Goose Hollow with Booie, and burger, movie, beer night at the Mission, but I know we will live in the great city of Portland with all our good friends someday again, which makes the decision a little easier.

With all of that sad, plus many more things not mentioned, I am excited to live close to my Seattle friends again, to go to Mariner games (hopefully next season will look more promising), to utilize the IMA, which I helped pay for its renovation my senior year at UW, and will be able to proudly sport my Jake Locker jersey without jeers from Oregon Duck or Beaver fans.

The move, starting school, looking for jobs, etc. will add to our already busy fall, meaning the wedding, but we are looking at it with excitement and possibility rather than stress and disappointment. If you haven't had a chance, here is the link to our wedding website: www.angelaandben.weddingwindow.com... and one more things....go dawgs!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How Fast Time Goes

I can't believe we've been back from Europe for more than 2 1/2 months--it's crazy how fast time goes. At the time, I was very excited to come home, and after spending 1 hour in my cubicle was not sure why I had ever wanted to leave. I miss walking through new cities, standing at the counter drinking espresso and living a lifestyle that doesn't involve caring about time. But as they say, all good things must come to an end, and now a new adventure has started.

As most people know by now, Ben and I are getting married. Yeah! We decided on a short engagement and now have less than 4 months to get the ball rolling. Thankfully, I'm a stress-free kind of girl, and am trying to approach planing a wedding the same way. However....

I can't believe how much weddings cost! The average U.S. wedding costs $29,000. $29,000! In most places that will pay for four years of college, or is a substantial down-payment on a house. At first I thought this was outrageous, until I started to learn more about wedding planning. There is a reason wedding planning is a billion dollar industry.

When you first get engaged somewhere along the way you will receive a planning book with checklists on all the things you must do in order to have the perfect wedding. After looking it over, I crossed about half of them off. But even by not doing most of the things recommended, items start to add up. Cake, photography, rental space, food/drink, flowers, attire, etc. etc. etc. People are starting to make adjustments in order to combat the cost, such as presenting a styrofoam cake and serving sheet cake, or plugging in the Ipod, however things still add up quickly. Ben and I are extremely fortunate to know some fabulous people who are helping out, and without them we wouldn't be able to have the wedding that we are planning, so as an upfront...thank you thank you thank you, with many more to come.

Just for fun, here are some general wedding pricing (the key is not to say "wedding" to anyone, because I swear it bumps the price up).

Wedding Gowns: I tried on a whole bunch the other day, and my two favorites could be mine for a mere $3,300 or $4,600 with a $500 veil...yikes!
Cakes: $1,000
Wedding Photography: Nothing less than $1,500, and if you want your photos, more like $2,500

Anyways, the moral of the story, get into the wedding business...just kidding. The moral that I have learned so far is not to feel pressured on doing everything the wedding business says you have to do to have a perfect day. The day will be lovely no matter what, and as long as you're happy, everyone will have a fantastic time.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Home Sweet Home

All good things must come to an end. Ben and I left Europe at probably the right time. We were still having fun, were kind of sad to go, but anxious to come home. It's a funny thing though once you know you're going home...you want to be home right away, which of course never happens. We arrived at the Barcelona airport to find a 3 hour delay...sweet. Then we were asked about 50 times if we had accepted any packages to take home, which apparently people have done before and they turned out to be bombs. As we waited and waited and waited for our plane I kept eyeing people in the terminal, to see if any of them were likely suspects to bring a package home. All in all it was a little unnerving. Eight hours after boarding we arrived in New York to find out our connection, that American Airlines was sure we were going to make, had already departed. So we accepted our new tickets on a later Delta flight. Off to our new terminal I got on a train when the door immediately shut behind me with Ben on the other side. We were able to make it 6 weeks in Europe without losing each other and 10 minutes back in the states..bam...separated with no cell phones. Now needless to say this doesn't sound like a dire situation, but if anyone has ever been to the JFK airport, they might know how confusing the place is and how much fun it is to try and find someone. 30 minutes later and 1 hour from takeoff we were reunited...now both at our breaking points. We had to be cut in front of the ticket line, cut in front of security, secretly screened (wanded, bags checked) and the race to the terminal was on--watch out people with walkers. We sprinted to our terminal (as advised by the Delta checkers) to arrive and find out?.....our plane wasn't even boarding. Delay...delay...get on plane, sit for over an hour...6 hours later...home!!!
So we finally made it back. And as fun as it was to be in a new adventure, the comforts of home sure are great. I missed little things, such as drinking fountains and ice water, and the big things too...family and friends. I didn't miss my cell phone or celebrity gossip, but I guess it's a trade off. Now it's back to the real world. O-well..it's nice to be home.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Last Stop

It's fun when you don't have any expectations about a place and it completely blows your mind. Ben and I didn't have any real knowledge about Barcelona, other than some personal recommendations from people who had visited. However, even with those recommendations, we still weren't prepared for how much fun we were going to have...that is once we got out of the scary hostel...aka the bar. The architeture around the city is nothing I have ever imagined. Mostly designed by Antoni Gaudi in the early 1900s, the buildings around the city (and Park Guell) are something out of Grimm's fairytales. They radiant brillant colors and are so unconventional, it's amazing they were even conceptualized (Pictures don't do it justice, but I'll try anyways). Our new Ben also gave us great tips on the best tapas place in Barcelona...yumm...and we spent our remaining days walking around the city, visiting the Picasso museum, seeing where the 1992 Olympics were held, and experiencing the intensity of what it feels like to stand next to two of the biggest bulls I have ever seen...big. We're sad to go, but excited to get home...probably the perfect time to leave.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Hurray for Ships! Off the Boat.

Our week in Tuscany ended very peacefully. We had a wonderful week enjoying Tuscan wine, beautiful countryside and a relaxing environment. On Friday we headed south on the train to catch a ferry over to Barcelona. One of the chapters of a book Ben and I read on this trip was entitled ¨Hurray for Ships!,¨which became our motto as we headed to our ferry with anticipation and excitement. Once onboard our motto quickly changed to Öff the Boat¨. It took 20 long hours, watching young Italian kids (our nemises sp?) on this trip frolick around behaving as terrible as they did in Cinque Terra and sleeping in between rows of seats on a concrete floor, well kind of sleeping...¨off the boat¨¨. The good thing about the boat was we met a nice boy named Ben who lives in Mass. but is a tour guide in Barcelona...like it was meant to be. He took us to our hostel and gave us lots of great tips. Yeah for Ben! This is the first hostel that Ben and I have stayed at and it´s hilarious. 20 person dorm bunkbeds...I don´t need to go into detail. Let´s just say that Ben and I have nicknamed everyone in our dorm and we are the old folks and Ben´s first words this morning were Ï hate this place¨. I almost spit my cereal out laughing so hard. Apparently we have crossed the age barrier for youth hostels.
Barcelona is wonderful though, warm, sunny with lots to see and a laid back atmosphere. The perfect place to end our trip. We´re getting close to the end...very excited to come home, but said that it´s almost over. See you all soon!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Yeah Pictures!

yeah pictures! the first is the town of Manarola that we stayed in Cinque Terra. #2 is me at the top of city no. 3 Corniglia. If you look in the background you will see our town of Manarola that we just hiked from...3 down 2 more to go. No. 3 & 4 are the Colosseum at night and Ben and I in it the next morning. The 5th is Ben peeling fava beans outside our villa in Siena. He was enjoying himself so much, he decided he must have been a peasant woman in a former life. Lastly, the view from our Tuscan villa...yeah!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Rome to Siena

The 4 days in Rome flew by as quickly as the city moves...fast. We did the touristy things: went in the Colosseum, threw our penny into the Trevi fountain, gazed at the Sistine Chapel, all the while trying not to be tourists. Rome is covered with them, in big groups, wearing matching scarves and taking pictures of everything...everything. Ben and I got up early every day to beat the crowds and managed to really enjoy ourselves. That is until we would leave (enter tourist destination) and be bombarded with people trying to sell us purses, sunglasses, belts, watches, pens, light up colosseums, etc. They were incredible. When it would start to rain, they would call in the Delta Team to replace the sunglass stands with umbrellas...every 10 feet, 3 euros...sorry to say no one is getting a green prada bag or gucci sunglasses. Even if I wanted one, after 4 days of being pestered, I wouldnt have been able to live with myself. We left Rome early yesterday to head north to the Tuscany area and make our next camp in Siena. Yesterday was a good example of how traveling isnt always glamorous. Long story short our first train was late, which caused us to miss our 2nd one, which left us at the train station for 3.5 hours. We arrived in Siena, took the bus to town...which was so crowded, without our big packs, I am sure we would have lost each other. Crowded why? Festival day in Siena...aka holiday. Few buses running, so back to the train station...hot...sweaty...heavy backpack...new bus to our villa...nice, but out in the middle of nowhere. No more buses running to town (festival), no open grocery stores (festival)...etc. We dined on Cornflakes and peanut butter last night, but had a good laugh. Today we woke up fresh, with a beautiful sun outside and our ready to eat lunch...a big lunch. Hope everyone is well. Love and miss you!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Cinque Terra

Over the past 6 days, Ben and I have enjoyed the five towns that make up Cinque Terra (literal translation in Italian: Five Town). They are everything the pictures show they are, beautiful, unique, set in picturesqe surroundings, and are a good example of how there are no more undiscovered cities sleeping quietly without postcard stands and tourists. I first heard about Cinque Terra 4 years ago from travelers over in Europe who described how they spent a week hiking between the cities which are connected by trails. I think that was about the time Rick Steves also found the place, and now it is no longer a secret. Of course, we make up the postcard stands and tourists (I realize that), but at the same time, I wasn't expecting the level of tourism that now inhabits the town...but I digress. We bought a 3-day hiking pass, and anyone who buys the 7 day one is crazy. The second day we were there, we decided to hike the whole trail. I asked Ben if he wanted to do it and his response? "Sure, we're young and in shape." Now the trail is about 5.5 miles long, but in some places it is rugged, hilly, with lots of stairs, etc., however the ocean side view makes the trip worthwhile. The next day, "Mr. In shape" and "Ms. Young" had a serious hitch in their giddy up and only hiked to one town that day... and contemplated taking the train back.
The biggest obstacle of the trails isn't the terrain, but rather our fellow travelers. At first, I thought it would be the Holy Hiking Poles. Somewhere in Germany, someone has made a fortune telling people they need hiking poles for the trails. They are named the HHP's because when fifty of them got off the train at once with their backpacks, tourguide holding a brightly covered umbrella and poles, the first words out of my mouth were "holy hiking poles." Yet, I'm not sure how much those poles actually get used...I only saw three sets on the trails. The true obstacle is the groups of Italian kids. They come in packs of at least 30, most likely on a field trip, and are never hiking on the trails, but sitting, waiting for their teacher(?) to catch-up. The problem is that they are oblivious to everything except their sunglasses, Nelly-sized belt buckles shining proudly and each other. No one else exists. Swear words were uttered when we would see them and we would brace ourselves, elbows out, to try and get through the packs.
Overall, we had a great time. The scenery was incredible, the gelato and limoncino exquisite, and we stayed in the cutest apartment surrounded by olive and lemon trees with the nicest owener, Senore Imere, who left us fresh lemons. Neither Ben nor I have ever had lemons like these ones. They smell the way you think lemons should smell, but have never actually experienced the aroma before. We dried some seeds to take back. We both acknowledge that there probably is a reason we haven't seen lemon trees in Oregon, but we'll try anyways.
Ciao! (pictures to come, I promise!)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Au Revoir France, Ciao Italy

The past 6 days Ben and I have been hopping from French city to French city, making our way south. We spent 2 days in Lyon, drooling over restaurant menus, two days in Avignon, drooling over the meal an old friend of the Heathman made us (Levi anyone?), and two days being spoiled by friends from Longview in Villefranche. We even got a home cooked meal. Basically the moral of the past 6 days is we ate well...very well. Plus, we had lots of fun seeing the cities. Each one was very unique. Lyon with its restaurants galore, Avignon with its history meshed with kids on dirtbikes riding the city, dressed better than Hollywood stars, and than Villefranche, the cutest most quaint town right on the coast. Ben and I hiked all around, finally enjoying some sunny weather. Now we are finally in Italy...Cinque Terra to be exact. We are staying 1km above Manarola, which truthfully feels like 15km, b-c it is straight uphill. Our apartment is wonderful: big, eco-friendly with a sweet kitchen and patio. We have no complaints. Our travel roots are now planted for 6 days where we will enjoy the paths, towns and lemoncello...or limocino in Italia. Ciao!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Last of Paris

Today is our last day in Paris. We went to Versaille earlier. Louis XIV lived a good life. However, the Sun King could get a little advice from Walt Disney on how to effectively get people in and out of his kingdom. Rick Steeves advice of the day: go before 10:30 a.m. or don't bother. We're both excited to get on to our next adventure, but sad to leave this beautiful city. After buying 2-4 crepes a day, Ben decided to cut out the middle man and we have been living off his homemade ones the past few days..we think the crepe man whispered traitor today when we walked past his stand. By the time we get back to the States, everyone, even Ricky Bobby, will be saying they love his thin little pancakes, especially with Nutella...dang they're good.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Paris Part Deux

Paris is a happening place right now. Yesterday was the Paris marathon and Ben and I did a Louvre marathon in their honor (Ben's favorite?: Venus de Milo...Mine?: Winged Victory). We then toasted them by eating crepes (LCJ-nice call with the Nutella) and took a big nap. Today we went for a morning run and realized every police officer in Paris was at the Eiffel Tower. Obviously, by only getting to the internet once every few days and not having English speaking television), we are a little behind the times and didn't realize the Olympic torch was traveling through Paris today. Everyone can breathe a sigh of relief...Ben and I decided not to participate in the Tibetan protests and are safe...ready to eat more crepes...basically we're eating our way through Europe..yumm. Tomorrow is our last day in Paris and we're going to take a morning trip to Versailles and then be very Parisian and sit at a cafe the rest of the afternoon...well maybe not, but it's a nice thought. We'll then head south to Lyon, Avignon and Nice before making our way to Cinque Terre on the 15th. Au Revoir!

Thursday, April 3, 2008


A lot has happened since we last posted. First, we decided to get out of Germany a day early, however Germany decided it didn't want us to leave too easily. After a communication breakdown with our German hosts (we tried to politely say we were leaving early, they thought we were questioning the price...one good will gesture got us back in their good graces) we headed to the train station. Six trains and two buses later, we finally made it a whole 5 km out of Germany. Ben and I had a few good laughs at the two American dummies who only speak English, and were sitting on the trains while everyone was getting off, b/c we didn't understand the announcement that the train was broken, or they were doing bridge work. Once we were on the buses, we also didn't know where we were going and again laughed at ourselves...two American dummies...smiling and nodding. We made it to Stausborg...not quite what we were expecting. After arriving at a hotel our guide book said was cheery and comfortable, we took the last room available. The lovely front desk girl asked if we wanted to see it...6 trains, 2 buses, 70 pounds of backpacks, and a recommendation from our guidebook?...no, we'll take it. I think this girl won a ham, or a bottle of booze, or something for finally booking htis room, because anyone who would have seen it beforehand, would not have taken it. Let's just say...bad...and i have pictures to prove it.
Early Wednesday morning we rolled up our sleeping bags, that's right we slept in our bags on top of the bed (tyee motel anyone?) and left for Paris...Ah Paris. We are staying in this cute Parisan apartment 5 minutes from the Eiffel Tower. Today we walked along the Siene river up to Notre Dame, which still stuns me with its beauty, and then back through the Louvre, and the Champ de Elysses. Ben is like a kid in a candy store with all the fromaggeries and shops that state on the window "foie grais." Plus our neighborhood is like what Paris looks like in my dreams: open street markets, cute apartments, cafes...we're pretty happy right now. Au revoir.

Monday, March 31, 2008

If I Have to Eat One More Sausage...

so these pictures are in no particular order. the first is the outdoor street market in frankfurt...that´s right we´re eating sausages and drinking wine at 10:15 a.m. The second is when we first landed in Germany. The third is Rothenburg, Germany and the last one is Frankfurt. More photos to come. We´re off to eat...oh you guessed it..another sausage. This will have to be my last one...it´s getting ridiculous. We are heading to Paris on Wednesday. We miss you all, and love your comments.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Stepped Back in Time

We made it to Rothenburg Germany, and have officially stepped back in time. We are staying in a walled in city, that does not contain any modern buildings. The folklore goes, that the city was going to be destoyed, unless someone could drink a gallon of wine in one swig. The mayor stepped up, drank, and the town was saved (obviously there are a few missing elements of this history lesson, but you get the idea). We are enjoying ourselves, walking around, and will probably hit the German countryside tomorrow. I really want to go see the Cinderella castle--Ben is stoked, but we´re not sure how far away it is by bus. Yesterday, we ate something other than sausages. Ben has been on the hunt for the best bratwurst in Germany, but even he got tired yesterday and we ate Italian. Partially, b-c we needed a bratwurst break, partially because the owner came out and spoke to us in English, so we could understand the menu. We´re about to get back on the sausage hunt for lunch, and then head to the crime/torture museum..we`re skipping the doll museum...that sounds too scary. Herb, Ben is looking for your cheese. Bye!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Things I Never Knew or Didn't Remember

1. I didn't remember how much I hate jet lag, and how hard it is to shake at first. Yesterday, I was a zombie--basically I'm surprised I didn't have more spelling errors other than monster.

2. I didn't know how many words actually contain the letter y. On German keyboards y and z are flipped. Yesterday's blog took forever to type--partially b/c I was sleepy, but mainly because I didn't want our words to come out as zesterdaz, or latelz, etc.

3. I didn't know that almost all of Frankfurt was bombed by the Allies in WWII, so every building is post 1940s. They have actually nicknamed the town Mainhatten, b/c it looks so modern. Also, everything or everzthing has the word main in it--just to make it confusing to us travellers who are already confused by not speaking German.

4. My favorite word is drüken (it means push).

5. I didn't realize how silly phrase books are. We bought one at the airport b/c we forgot the one that was given to us on loan, however we realized today that it doesn't matter if we ask something in German, we still won't know the answer: where is the store? (in German)....wait wait, bitte (please), can you speak English?...besides hello, please and thank-you our German conversation efforts are futile.

6. Something for everzone to know (sorrz I can't change them all). If the man at the coffee stand asks you 3 times how many sugars you want, and you say none every time, there is a good reason he is asking. Basically multiple the number of times he asks you by one or two and you'll get how many sugars you should have asked for (even if your don't take sugar)..you do in Germany.

I asked Ben if he wanted me to add anything, so here it is, Ben's tip of the day: Stop at the outdoor market for wine...large pour. Thank you Ben.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

We´ve Officially Landed

Currently, Ben and I are sitting at our hotel trying to manage German keyboards (my favorite symbol is ö)...that´s right--we made it! However we almost were seriously delayed. Note to travellers, double check and triple check your itinerary. By a fluke I pulled ours out last night and noticied it had completely changed and we were departing at 7:15 a.m. into Dallas, vs. the óriginal 11:30 a.m. trip to Chicago. Everything ended up fine, except we arrived in Germany a little earlier than expected:6:10 a.m. We feel like we´ve been up for 2 days, and are trying with every effort to stay awake until early evening to beat the monstor that is jet lag. After a few hours walking around searching for the infamous German sausage (or rather a German shop selling saugages at 8:30 in the morning), and finally finding one underground, we are huddled in our warm hotel...did I mention it´s snowing? Yeah, it´s a blammy 33 degrees. So we´re going to drink lots of coffee now, and put an extra layer of clothes on...brrrr...but...yeah!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Big Pack

We are leaving this afternoon to head up to Longview for a couple of nights and then to Seattle for one evening before we fly out. I can't believe we're almost out of here. Yesterday was my last day of work for 2 months, and although I'm elated, it still feels surreal. Obviously, my brain is not entirely on vacation since I checked my pdx email account this morning and lost some sleep last night racking my brain if I finished all my projects, returned phone calls and set-up any last business with enough progress that I wouldn't leave everyone flailing to clean-up my mess.
Don't get me wrong, I'm excited. I am a little worried on how I'm going to stuff all of my travel gear into my backpack. I guess it's not really fitting it in there, but more, fitting it in there with enough space to bring stuff back (unless the dollar gets any worse, than everyone gets my memories), and still being able to haul the big red beast from one city to the next. 
I also forgot about all the emotions that accompany being gone for this long: excitement, nervousness, unexplained bursts of joy, baffled moments of sadness, and the anxiety (both good and bad) of leaving your comfort zone to experience something new.
Now I'll finish tying up the details, and we'll be off...everyone cross your fingers that the dollar gets a comeback! 

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Last Big Luck O' the Irish Step

Today was the Shamrock run--our last big, planned event before we leave. Originally, I thought Ben and I running the 15K (9.32 miles), sounded like a good idea...a get in-shape goal to prepare us for 7 weeks of lugging heavy backpacks around Europe (they are not packed yet, but I assume they'll be heavy). Of course that was before Ben got hit by a car, and we started working tirelessly to save money for our trip...come on dollar...just get a little stronger. Needless to say, we were not in prime 15K shape, however we did it... in 1 hour 28 minutes and 36 seconds, I might add. That includes running all the way up Terwilliger...and I do mean up. In my opinion we did pretty good...hey we finished! We didn't stick around for the trophy ceremony, but I'm pretty sure we won the award for most snot-rockets blown.

So now we'll head-off to Europe, not in the shape I imagined, but more with a little hitch in our giddy-up, since we both have sore knees and ankles. Now the packing begins...one last week of work...and seven days to ice away our well-earned accomplishment.

Anyone who's ever run a long distance, or just started running will enjoy this video.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

We're Almost There

13 days and counting...