Monday, June 30, 2008

Great Hair Day


I saw the musical HAIRSPRAY this past weekend. It was ultra cute, and the cast, songs, and scenes created so much energy buzzing throughout the audience. It was even better than the movie! If you get a chance-go see it!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Kristen and Michael's Wedding


I attended Kristen and Michael's wedding this afternoonin downtown Dallas. The wedding was b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l, and the reception at the Belo Mansion afterwards was equally as classy.

Friday, June 27, 2008

White Sands


This morning we drove through to White Sands National Monument. It is miles....and miles....and miles of snow white sand dunes in the middle of deserts and mountain ranges. I'll hold off on my understanding of the natural process that went into how, when, what etc caused them-it made the "National Monument" list, and I'm sure the National Parks can do a better job than myself with all the details, so I'll just give my version of the day's adventure. There is an 8 mile road (16 when you circle back) through the dunes, it starts with the sand dunes and all the plants that have adapted to live there, with a few nature walks and board walks that include a LOT of lizards leaping across your path. Another neat feature are all the tracks the animals leave in the sand that you see while you walk. When you drive a little further into the interior the plant life ceases and it's just piles and piles of humongous, pure white, dunes. It's always changing, always moving, and so the park is really gracious about letting anyone and everyone play IN the dunes, which is so much fun. Sure enough (thanks for the advice Maurine), the sand is actually cool to the touch, and you can walk over, through, and around the dunes, OR-if you are young-or young at heart, you can take lids, and boards (gernally used for sledding in snow) and slide down them. The park even sold these trashcan lid looking things you could use-though I didn't have the time-I definitely filed the idea back into my brain. It was a unique adventure worth the stop.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Homeward Bound


We have one more stop to go, but we are headed East again. Today we drove across the bottom of CA, AZ, and then into NM where we've stopped for the evening. Tomorrow night I get to cross another thing off my 101 list-White Sands. The drive today was beautiful, and there is just no way a picture can ever capture a place, it's like trying capture someone's personality in a snapshot, you just have to experience it. My favorite thing to TRY to take pictures of is scenery-don't get me wrong-I really try my heart out to grab some great 'wild' animal shots (or 'wild' people)....but outside of a zoo-it's not as easy as trying to capture a flower that will at least sit still for you. It's especially difficult in a moving car. I snagged a cactus flower outside a gas stop, and...Today I saw something I'd never seen, but have drawn a million times-the breed of cactus below. I didn't know these guys really exhisted, I just thought the little bubble-ish cactus I drew were the 'cartoon' versions of all the other leafier ones I'd seen....so when I saw mile upon mile of these tubular guys-I had my nose pressed to the window....and finally-at lunch-there was one to snap a picture of, not as impressive as some of the even larger ones in the cactus families out in the middle of the dessert....but I was so impressed, and fascinated by their shape....and I got to stay fascinated for several hours worth of cactus fields featuring these. What a fun drive.

Sleepless In Seattle


I only stayed in Seattle for two nights, one full day, but it was a really neat city with a lot of personality....emphasis on the word lots. I'd definitely love to go back someday and spend a little more time there. I made the treck to the Space Needle and had brunch, then headed to Pike's Market and saw the fish flying, local fruits, the gum wall. I also made the pilgrimage to 'the' first Starbucks. After shopping down the piers, I headed across the sound, and got a great view of the city.




Planes, Trains, and Automobiles....


...well, two out of three ain't bad. We spent the last 5 days (minus a one day stop in Seattle) traveling via the Starlight Express up the West Coast. I could not even begin to tell you all the great sites, sounds, and smells (thought 'great' doesn't describe all three of those senses at certain times) via the incredible train ride. At this point, I wish I had a thesaurus b/c I think I'm running out of adjectives. Each adventure has been a vacation unto itself, so here are just a few of the highlights-traveling at high speeds, this is where my pictures don't do it justice. We headed out via LA, and hit the coast for many hours, there were points where we dangled over the beach at the top of a cliff, and other points that the shore was 50 feet away from the tracks. We passed a ton of farms (including a sunflower farm tht woke me at dawn-so gorgeous), mountain ranges, rain forest, babbling brooks, raging rivers, tunnels, bridges, cities, seals, dolphins, deer, ghost towns, a NASA emergency landing strip, old missions, train yard graffiti,and much more. I learned a lot about traveling via train, but have some sleep to catch up on, here are just a few highlights.



Friday, June 20, 2008

Santa Monica


Among other things-we headed to the beach today. I had never seen Santa Monica, though I've sang the words many times within several songs that included the beach's name within the lyrics. It was a beautiful day, and it was fun to people watch and walk around and enjoy the Pacific Ocean.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hooray For Hollywood





Like the tourist we are-Hollywood was definitely on the list of places we wanted to visit while in the LA area. I swept through very briefly a few years back, but it was fun to go out and walk around at our pace today. We ate lunch at Johnny Rockets, and then hit all the major tourists spots...I didn't see any stars in Hollywood, I guess they were all back at their houses waiting for all the tourist who bought the multiple maps and tours out and around Hollywood to swing by and try to capture a picture, BUT this evening I met my friend Laura (from BU) for dinner out near Huntington Beach, and after dinner we were walking around, and low and behold-a star-Oscar De La Hoya was signing books at the Barnes and Noble.....all I got on film were a bunch of fans wanting their books signed, but this is Laura peeking over the shelf where he was....and giving a thumbs up to Sylvia Brown-gag-that was sarcasm.

Little Ol' Cousins From Pasadena


We arrived in Pasadena, CA yesterday afternoon where we are staying with my cousin and his wife (Jimmy and Lydia). They are living here while they attend Fuller Seminary. They are our very knowledgeable tour guides during this leg of our vacation, and the real reason we were motivated to go West this summer. We wanted to see what they have been up to the last three years (and counting).

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Grand Adventure


Yesterday, Mom and I got up early and made the hour drive to the Grand Canyon. We hopped out of our car, and took the bus around the South Rim, stopping at various lookouts, enjoyed the beauty of the Grand Canyon, and snapping pictures. A picture could never do it justice, in fact, logically I know-even the picture I currently hold inside my head doesn't capture how beautiful it is....it's only as I sit and look that I truly 'get' it's 'grand'ness. I think back to the first time I saw this-I was picturing a canyon-singular, steep walls, with a river running through it….and then…my first look. It is no less awe inspiring the second time around…..I can’t help but think-if this is what earth is like, can you imagine heaven? There are just some places that leave exclamation points when it comes to the existence of God.

I Get my Kicks on Route 66


I fell in LOVE with Williams, AZ on my last trip to the Grand Canyon. It’s located at the base of a mountain about an hour away from the Grand Canyon. Old Route 66 runs through it, and you can imagine what is must have been like, and appreciate how it still is walking down the main drag. There are cute little soda shopes, and restaurants that play live music well into the evening hours.

A Different Sort of Art Exhibit...


I had read about Petroglyphs National Monument in a book recently, but I have never actually heard anyone talk about it-so I need to put it on the map. For any of you traveling up I-40-it’s worth the stop. There is an area of town overlooking the city of Albuquerque that is home to over 1,500 petroglyphs-some of which are more than 1,000 years old-now that’s pretty impressive-I don’t know too many artist who can make that claim. It was really neat to walk around the area and see the rock carvings-I have no doubt I missed more than I actually saw-but it was a really fun experience….and like most art work-I still am not totally sure on the meaning behind some of the pictures.

On the Road Again....


11 hours after the car engine started, my Mom and I made it as far as Albuquerque, New Mexico. The drive was really beautiful and peaceful, and though I always get really homesick by the end of a vacation, I realized-I do well with a vacation from day to day life. When I’m ‘trapped’ in a car-I can’t start (or finish) any projects, I can’t find misc things that need organizing, cleaning, or rearranging. I have to actually stop, and when I stop, I actually get to think in depth. We spent the first evening in Albuquerque relearning a few of the sites, and mapping out a shopping plan of attack for Sunday. Sunday morning we headed to Old Town. We walked around, and enjoyed the square, and the shops. We grabbed a bite to eat at The Church CafĂ©, and then headed on towards Williams, AZ….but before I move on to that journey-I have to say I love Albuquerque-it’s such a cute little town along the old Route 66, and everything is really affordable and beautifully decorated.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

PESH Grad

Look who graduated today from Plano East Senior High....

Brian-the last of the cousins to complete high school. He heads to University of Texas at Arlington in the fall. I guess that gives me a few more years for the 'final FINAL graduation'.....but it's just so strange to think we are now all finished with school. Brian has always been 'the baby' in my mind....even though he long ago lost the look, he gets closer each year of joining the ranks of those that don't really count age anymore, just friendship. He did a good job making it through a rigourous high school, and we all did a good job sitting through a ceremony honoring 1100 graduates....wow....what a class, and what an experience! The speeches were actually really good, and everything went smoothly at the arena.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Drowsy Chaperone



Holly and I went to see one of the Dallas Summer Musicals this past Sunday. We ate at the Old Mills Inn in Fair Park before the play, and then headed over and people watched while waiting for the show to start. It was a neat approach to a musical, I'd recommed seeing it. It took a little while to get into, but then, it did make me laugh pretty hard several times. The basic concept is a man listening to an album in his apartment, and you basically watch it play out in his apartment as he imagines it in his head. When he pauses to make comments etc, the players pause in mid act, the 'record' he is listening to skips several times etc etc etc. It was just really creative.

Graduation Day


7 years after my 'first class' of students-I got to watch these students graduate. We hold a graduation ceremony for the 6th graders, and so it was a sweet bookend for me to see the same students walk the stage again. There were just a handful of our students left-many have moved, and there is a big question on some of the futures others found themself living, which made this moment so sweet. I have no doubt the teachers learned more from them than they learned from us!

Quinceanera Cake



I made another cake this weekend (my friend's daughter (Alyse) turned 15-it's a tradition in a lot of hispanic families to throw a huge 15th birthday party to honor the daughter turning into a woman)....it's the last for a few months, but all turned out fine. The icing didn't want to go on in the heat and humidity, and there was a little leaning....which is why I do cakes for friends-I don't charge, they don't complain-it's a win win situation. I had another event to attend I had previously said I would go to.....but all in all-no disasters=success.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Ingredients for a Good Time


I really don't think this is going to be as funny to people that don't 'know' the inside jokes of my office, but this is one of my favorites....and it's been in the works for a long time. My friend Terry and I love to play practical jokes on each other....and pretty much everyone else at work. I laugh until I cry....literally when it comes to our weekly escapades. She told me a month ago at another shower we hosted together that it was her turn to have a shower (she's married, she's had one, she just thinks we throw a lot, and we do). She even went so far as to say it needed to be a kitchen shower, and she listed off the things that would be on her registry. For the next week she talked about the things she wanted at her shower. Terry loves to be the center of attention, and she'd tell you this herself, so a few of the other gals and I got together and we planned a surpise shower for her....but we decided it was going to be the tackiest shower ever thrown. And boy, if there was ever a shower so well-ducted taped together, I'd like to hear about it. It's not that the items that we brought were individually tacky (though some of them were), but when you have easy cheesy canned cheese, and moon pies as the main dishes, you know it's going to be fun (Did I mention Terry was a health nut?). The rule for the few attending (at the risk of offending anyone, too many people can't laugh at themself, or with others)-bring a dish that doesn't cost more than $1 and buy the worst gift you can find (or make) under $1 as well. It was a roast, it was a riot, she loved it....but now....having pulled it over, I'm a little scared because that makes this my turn. The following are just a few of the details).
Gifts:
These were all things Terry needed at 'her shower' per our original conversation.
Ice tongs with "Ice Ice Baby" written down one side, and a fuzzy catepillar with google eyes glued to the other.
Bleached towels
Corn on the Cob holders
'Antique' vegetable peeler
Pizza Cutter put in a flower pot with paper leaves added (this was later used to open a taped up gift box)
Short spatula for short people (Terry is 5 ft)
Christmas icing and sprinkles
Plastic letter refrigerator magnets
Re-Used cards and scratched-out/Re-written Thank You cards accompanied everyone's gifts.
Decorations:
A table cloth from every season
Ash trays
Easter Grass
Plastic lobsters
Plastic poinsettas
Bubbles
Notebook paper taped together for a banner
One strand of crepe paper
Valetine's decorations
Honky tonk music (Songs sung only by people with Mullets)
Half blown-up balloons
Duct tape to hold up the decorations
Purina Dog food lid as a welcoming sign
Food:
Diet Dr. Thunder
Pizza Rolls
Saltines
Easy Cheesy canned cheese spray
Moon Pies decorated with icing
Left over cake from Friday's luncheon
After dinner mints
Nuts
Cheese Poofs (not Puffs)
A banana
Donuts
Favors
Hotel Soap