Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Motorcycles Everywhere!!

While we were in CA there was a motorcycle race, the Mazda Raceway Laguna Sec. Consequently, there were motorcycles EVERYWHERE. All kinds! It was so much fun! We talked to lots of motorcyclists and I was insanely jealous that Moose was back in Dallas! Beautiful! The roads beg for a bike as well as a Porsche. Great riding!

California 2007

The vacation this year had to be financially minimal considering the student status.

One thing I have wanted to do for a long time is drive Highway 1 north, up the coast of California. John and I decided it sounded like a great idea. I made the plane reservations and the first night’s camping reservation (yes, camping!) and away we went.

Our first night in Sugar Loaf Ridge State Park was lovely. We ate dinner with deer just across the stream and had a lovely view all around the park. This park overlooks the Napa valley. Beautiful!

The next day was a drive north on the coast. One could stop every 15 minutes with the jaw-dropping vistas that you could see. The camera shutter was seldom still. With absolutely no plan, we continued on wherever our fancy drove us. We had decided there were a few things we had to see:

  1. The Redwood Forests
  2. Old Growth Sequias
  3. Highway 1
  4. Undecided

Hwy 1 was the first order of business. Our next stop was one element of the coast I was adamant about, Point Reyes Seashore State Park. We arrived at one of the Ranger stations and inquired about camping availability. There were a few campsites left. The closest one was a 5.5 mile hike in. We were up for it! WooHoo!

Thus came the first quotable quote for our trip:

Lisa to Park Ranger: “How’s the hike in? Is it straight up or is it fairly OK?”

Park Ranger: “Oh, (after surveying John and I) it’s fairly flat. You both should be just fine. Do you have gear?”

John: “Yes, we brought gear, we should be all good to go.”

“Relatively Flat” must have been with respect to the Sierra Mountains….

Although not a horrible hike, there were several moments we had to stop to catch our breath after lots of straight up and laugh uncontrollably at the quote, “Relatively Flat my a**!”

Such great fun!

The other quotable quote from this park Ranger was thus:

Lisa and John: “Is there water at the camp or do we need to pack it in?”

Ranger: “Yes there is water. It is usually drinkable.”

Both of us: “Wait, usually? What does that mean and is it drinkable now? Water is kinda a big deal.”

Ranger: Well it has been OK for a while now, but they have been know to test and close the water to drinking as is without boiling.”

Lisa: “But it’s drinkable now?”

Ranger: “Yes, it has been good for a while now. You should be just fine.”

Fortunately, “Usually Drinkable” turned out to be just fine.

Thus, the first thing added to the list of “Never travel again without” was a water purifier.

Second thing to add to the list, backpack with a hip strap. John had my large pack and I had a day pack, but it had no hip strap. Never again.

The 5.5miles took right at 2.5hrs and we arrived just before sundown with time to set up camp. Hiking with 6’6” as a hiking partner means hoofing it for my short little legs! But I think I kept up fine. Once settled we had time to meet those we were sharing the campsite with. Great, fun people! We had great conversation and lots of laughs. Everyone is sweaty and disheveled, but all of us enjoyed the company. We all hiked out together the next morning and had a lovely hike back. With no pressure of darkness, we were leisurely, and, it was more down than up.

Meeting these people clenched our decision of our final destination after the Redwoods: Yosemite.

The drive north was nothing short of exhilarating. The rocky shore, with waves crashing and the fresh scent of ocean wipes away anything that may be bothering you and frees the spirit. I have always loved the ocean, mostly from being submerged in it making bubbles, but to watch its raw power and to see how it has carved the shore’s edge is remarkable.

The driving was just as fantastic. The road begs for a great sports car! John and I managed to not fight over who got to drive as we shared the driving. We both love to drive, so it was great fun. There were curves and switchbacks enough for both of us. Sad we did not have a proper car, e.g., something out of the Porsche line, but the Volvo was nimble, manual/automatic transmission and plenty comfortable. It was all good. At one point, I noticed John braced against the console, the door and the roof of the car. I asked if I should slow down. He simply said, “You’re having fun, go for it!” He got his turn too, have no doubt!

Arriving in the Redwood forests is like traveling back in time. There is a sense of awe and wonder that words cannot do justice by. These trees are some of the oldest living things known on earth. As linear, short-lived humans, wrapping your mind around 1500 to 2000 years of life is very hard to do. As you stare up at their 300ft+ height, you can’t help but wish these trees could talk. I would love to sit and talk to them about what they have seen, what they have survived, and what it is like to stand for 1500 years, just existing. There is majesty that is unparalleled by anything humans have ever tried to accomplish. Of course, I had to know more about the trees, so when we got home, we looked up lots of things. Another post, I promise. Rest assured, the experience of standing with these giants is beyond description. One of the highlights was the Avenue of Giants. This 32-mile stretch of old Hwy 101 curves thru virgin, old growth forests of Redwoods. I wish I could adequately describe the immensity of driving through the forests and the calm that seemed to pervade the air that breezed through the trees and the forest undergrowth. For me, this was a spiritual cathedral like no other.

32 miles took 5 hours. It was that good.

Once we had our fill of Redwoods, OK when we just decided to leave, we went south on HWY 5 and over to Yosemite National Park. This place is huge! I had not really planned for this part of the trip as we had not really thought we would get that far east. But here we were, entering the park. We got there a bit late, but ended up with a great campsite in White Wolf on the northern part of Yosemite. This park is home to Mountain Lion, Brown Bear, Wolves, Coyotes and everything else in between. 90% of Yosemite is wild and undeveloped. It is gorgeous! Gathering firewood is allowed so once shelter was erected; we went off to gather firewood. I must admit, my senses were on high alert. It was utterly silent and with each drop of firewood, it was as if you fired a rifle. I kept thinking we looked like prime mountain lion food. I was sorta happy to have gathered firewood and be back in the car. Puts things in perspective, I would say. Once back at camp, John, a.k.a., Pyro-man, got a roaring fire started and I got dinner cooking. Simple fair, but yummy. Of course, we burned anything we could find as we had the whole trip. Pyro is in both of our names!

We slept really well as the temperature at 8000 feet got pretty chilly. Top quality gear is a must and our sleeping bags and the sleeping mats were great! Breakfast was cooked the next morning and the day of hiking began. We went to the base of Yosemite Falls. The falls were not so much falls as there is a drought in CA. Dallas seems to be getting all of CA’s rain. So the falls were a trickle. Our next adventure was Vernal Falls via Mist Trail. This hike is 3 miles round trip and labeled as “moderate.” So it took about 2 hours to go up, and I mean up every step of the way, and about 40 minutes to go down. It was straight up! The falls were spectacular and the water very cold! We played in the water and drenched our shirts so as not to over heat. Once at the top of the falls, we stayed and watched people play in Emerald Lake, a beautiful, emerald green pool that is just ahead of the falls. There is enough room to stay clear of the rushing falls and everyone seemed to be having lots of fun.

Here, we encountered possibly the fattest squirrels I have ever seen. They were grossly obese! Obviously people fed them even though you are educated not to. And so very bold! We have pics of one of the larger, most fat squirrels on my pack, pulling and biting at the mesh to get to the trash! I was sitting right there next to him! He just looked at me with a “you don’t mind do you?” look on his little face and went after it! Really funny fat squirrels!!

We hiked down after a bite, some water and some much needed relaxation. By the end of the trek down, my legs were shaking but I was happy to have seen something so beautiful.

The last day, we agreed that we should make it a full tour of “B.A.T.” (Big Ass Trees) and go see one of the three stands of giant Sequoias. There are three groves of them in Yosemite and we chose to go to Mariposa Grove, on the southern side of Yosemite. This was also home to the largest of the giant Sequoias in Yosemite, the Grizzly tree. Sequoias and Redwoods are of the same family. They differ in some very unique ways that I’ll post about later. However the Sequoias’ majesty is just as impressive if not more so than the Redwoods. Although not as tall as the Redwoods, they have larger trunks and denser wood. Again, spectacular! And so endangered. It seems they could endure the last 2000 to 3000 years but humans seem to be exceptionally destructive to them. Amazing how we seem to have that affect on things. We spent a couple hours touring the Sequoias and were still sad to part from their company.

Our drive out of Yosemite proved to be another adventure in and of itself! John had packed the GPS, which proved to be invaluable, the whole trip. Don’t get me wrong, I had maps and I know how to use them, but this little jewel is just great! We were on the south side of Yosemite and requested the shortest route to San Jose. We proceeded on and the GPS began telling me (I was driving at the time) of an up-coming left turn. John and GPS in unison began saying “turn left! Here!” I missed the turn and looked back once I had pulled into a parking lot. Turn where? “On that road back there,” replied John. “What road? That’s not a road!”

Oh, but it was.

It was a mountain road, with a warning sign reading, “Not recommended for two-wheel drive vehicles.”

What the hell?

Off we went.

Thus, quote number three: “That’s not a road!!”

This was a sand and dirt road with trees on once side and mountain drop off on the other in the middle of nowhere. At one point the GPS totally lost signal at which point John said WTF, just drive on! Adventure is so good! It was a great deal of fun!

The best part?

We realized we were traversing the Sierra Mountains after we saw a couple of Sierra park signs. At one point we topped a turn and the trees opened up and the most jaw-dropping spectacular vista ever was open to view. Layers of purple, blue, red, pink and gold dressed the valley as far as the eye could see. The mountain sides and trees could all be seen drenched in color from the ever-lowering sun. Picture after picture we took and then just stood there in awe. It was incredible. I couldn’t speak from trying to take in the beauty of it all. We did finally decide to push on as we still had no clue as to where we really were and it was getting late. We figured the worst that could happen was we would have to camp again. We had all the gear, no big deal! As we started to get back into the car, John asks, “Do you mind if I drive?”

Well, of course not. But I had to quip, “Is my driving making you nervous?” “Yes, a little,” came his answer. I just laughed and threw the keys over. To his defense, I had run over a couple things because I was looking at scenery. It was just so beautiful!

We did finally get back to civilization and realized we found a free, unmonitored way in and out of Yosemite. Who knew?

The rest of the drive was pretty plain Jane except I became totally fascinated by the wind farms along the side of I-140. Wind Farms…farming wind. That is just funny! I took pics of these and again, had to look up how they work when we got back.

Maybe I am easily amused….

Always ask the question, I suppose.

I will try to get pics posted later, as we have over 1000 to go thru. Yes, I really mean over 1000 photos.

The beauty of digital!!

In summary:

Things to not go again without:

Water purifier

More socks

Pack with hip strap & chest strap

Camel back!

We both agreed that when/if we get back again to Yosemite, backpacking is the way to go. We want to hike the half dome in the event we return. It is a strenuous 17 mile round trip hike that is very straight up.

I feel the same way about Yellowstone. When I return I will backpack. I think it would be the best way to see the park, on its terms.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Miniature Pinscher-Defined

The AKC states this dogs has the following description:

General Appearance The Miniature Pinscher is structurally a well balanced, sturdy, compact, short-coupled, smooth-coated dog. He naturally is well groomed, proud, vigorous and alert. Characteristic traits are his hackney-like action, fearless animation, complete self-possession, and his spirited presence.

Having lived with one for a bit now, his is my new definition of Min-Pin's characteristics:
  • Small dog of black and tan coloring that believes he is 100lbs and bullet proof
  • "vigorous" should translate into "snorts one-to-two lines of cocaine every morning"
  • No matter how hard you try, you cannot locate the stash of cocaine
  • Believes 0520 is the best time to sing at the top of his lungs
  • Advice for above, sleep with the bedroom door shut
  • Loves chew toys that are twice his size
  • A show of affection is grooming you for fleas: doing that front teeth only bite-bite-bite thing on you and/or your $300 Pottery Barn duvet!
  • Advice for above: Do Not allow on bed
  • Walk on leash at your own risk, cat-like reflexes are necessary so as not to become ensnarded in leash by dog
  • Advice for above, walk anyway, it wears off the cocaine
  • Best advice, when you can't hear the dog, GO LOOK, because he is digging out of the yard!
  • He loves mud
  • Did I mention he loves mud, espcially the slimy kind??

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

It is all about Respect

I have been thinking about this for a long time.
Those of you who know me might be surprised at this post for I do not discuss my private life.
This will be the first and last time I do.

I have thought a great deal about my divorce, now settled for slightly more than two years. One complaint my Ex had was his perception I did not respect him.

I have thought a lot about this. Was that true? Or was it yet again a judgment of me with a measure stick that did not apply?

I have come to this conclusion. In order for someone to be in a relationship that is mutually beneficial, mutually loving and mutually supportive, both people have to have respect for one another as individuals.

That respect begins within one's self. If you do not have self respect, your counter part will not respect you --he/she may not even be aware that they don't respect you.

My Ex did not make it a priority to take care of himself mentally, physically or psychologically. I think he was right in the idea that I did not respect him.
For if you do not take care of you, you do not take care of "us."

The things that garnered respect in his eyes were not the things I most respected personally and vice versa.

He also, I think, had a lack of respect for me in some areas too. This was somewhat my fault as well. I did not fight like he did.

For someone to respect you, you have to speak to them in a language they "hear." I use words to express myself that are generally devoid of emotion especially in a heated situation. He was just the opposite.

So when decisions were made and my foot was put down about something, if he did it anyway that was a flagrant F****!! You to my face. But because I did not go nuclear about it, I got ran over and disrespected even though I don't think he really meant it that way.
I just did not believe nor do I now, that his behavior was my responsibility.

But we did not speak the same language. He could only hear drama and emotive arguments that could be loud and accusatory. I was really capable of only words and and a lack of emotion, as I get quieter the more angry I become. Because of the violent temper I do possess, I do not continue to allow things to escalate, I would rather quite and come back later calmer. He liked the fireworks.

Do not mistake the fact I am truly happily divorced and know I made the right decision albeit a horrifically difficult one.

My Ex did admit one time that if I had acted the way he did in many of our fights, we would not have stayed married as long as we did. He was right on that.
But how unfair. You get to be ballistic and I can't?
Even if I had wanted to, this is not the type of interaction I wanted to live with.

Not only is respect of paramount importance but so is fairness. However your mate acts, you should get to as well. Otherwise, why bother?

People treat you how you allow them to.

Our family/spouse (s) can take advantage of that. They can take advantage of the fact we are close to them.
This is a mistake I do not intend to repeat.
It is my responsibility to speak up and be heard. I just have a much better education on how to pick someone who speaks the same language.

So far, I think I have picked really well.

Monday, July 09, 2007

When is it time to give up?

My mom has always said she would never give up on any of her kids. I commend her on such strength.

Everyone one of my siblings has surmounted the raising we endured and put a life together with the exception of my sister.

That is what I had thought until I got a phone call from her this evening.
I guess you should never give up on people.
Basically she called for some moral support on choosing to drastically change her life.
I cannot be more ecstatic!!

Everyone deserves to be happy and to have a life they choose and that they love. She is not different. Regardless of the decisions one makes and the mistakes we are part of (I have some whoppers of my own), everyone deserves to have a good life and be happy, safe and loved.

I have faith that she will do well. She has a plan. She has a time frame.
I told her I loved her and that I had faith in her.
I am so happy for her.

So, is there a time when you should ever give up on someone?
I don't really know. I do know that I can still have hope without letting someone cause me pain. It is hard to distance yourself, especially when it is family or someone you know is so deserving of something better, but you have to be able to let it go. I am so happy she finally has chosen for herself to have something better!!

When people want to change, you can help. When they don't or don't see any reason to, nothing you do can be useful.
I think when it is at that point, you walk away. I had walked away from her and her lifestyle for many years. I am here if she wants to make different decisions.
Sister, you go girl!!