Saturday, January 30, 2010

Six Days on the Road and Now I'm Going to Make it Home Tonight

Here's a picture of a bear from the rehabilitation center in Oregon. He somehow didn't make it in with my batch of other pictures.

We made it home this afternoon. We drove all day yesterday and passed tons of snow! We had a nice night in San Francisco and we got up this morning to beautiful weather and we got to walk the Golden Gate Bridge from end to end. I'm helping my sister, Nae, and the Camp Counselor do some last minute cleaning on their rental place tomorrow and moving any stuff they still have there to Mom and Dad's so I'll either get the pictures up tomorrow or Monday.

Boyfriend is here for less than a week now and I'm only here for eight more days. I miss all of my friends in Australia, but I really don't want to leave yet. I wish I was going over for like a month or two to visit them and then coming back here...maybe someday??

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I Told You I Didn't Want My Picture Taken, You Snapped It Anyway

We're back from the wildlife rehabilitation center (there are a few pictures from it at the end of this set) and Boyfriend is napping so I've had some time to watch the river go by and to look through all the pictures I've snapped on the trip so far. We'll be leaving here in the morning and it looks like we might run in to some rain and snow on our trip back down to San Francisco, fingers crossed that we don't need chains because we don't have any! Hope you enjoy the pictures.

A cold and rainy day in Fort Bragg, CA

The view from our hotel room in the morning...a gorgeous day and a gorgeous view!

One of the locally brewed beers that Boyfriend really likes.

I had no idea we had elk anywhere in California!

Where we got out for a 2nd time to look at this river (the Smith) and where when we got back in to the car, I backed over a rock that punctured my oil pan. Had we not pulled over immediately we could've seized the engine on our car, but we were smart enough to pull over. We had to wait an hour and a half for a tow truck (in the dark dark as we were up a ways in to the mountains) and then got stuck in Crescent City, CA for the night at a really sketchy motel, but at least they were able to fix my car quickly and cheaply and we're not still in Crescent City awaiting a new part!

The nicest thing we found in Crescent City: their lighthouse.

What's a girl to do when stuck in a place like Crescent City waiting for her car to get fixed??

Back on the road. Back to pulling over (put this time in paved lots) to check out the Smith River.

I'm really only about a 2 minute walk from my car, but the trees and mountains seem to dwarf it.

One of the grey wolves at the Wildlife Images Rehabilitation Center after her walk.

Eurasian lynx

Try Again

Hello from Oregon! For real this time! We finally made it here yesterday afternoon. I had no internet connection last night so I haven't been able to post all the great pictures we've taken on the trip so far and I'm running out the door now to check out this wild animal rehabilitation center in the area, but hopefully this afternoon I'll have them up.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Have You Ever Had Trouble With Your Automobile

Hello from Oregon! Well...almost. See, we made it to Fort Bragg yesterday afternoon and had a fun afternoon running around in the rain and then a nice dinner at a Japanese food place. We got up to a beautiful view from our room- over a little river and out to the ocean. We had fun on our drive today. We saw starfish, some squirrels, some amazing rivers, and a ton of elk. We were on the home stretch in to Oregon when we decided to pull off the road to check out this beautiful river whose water was almost an emerald color (this was 20 miles from the Oregon border). We got the pictures and got back in the car and I backed the car up and we heard some terrible scraping sounds coming from under the car. We pulled out and back on the the road and I was not happy about the sound, but Boyfriend said "Squeeze my hand, we got out of that fine" It was about then that my oil light came on and started beeping at me. We immediately pulled over and sure enough, oil was steadily gushing from under the car. We were able to a flag down a girl right away who took me in to the closest little town and after an hour and a half, the tow tuck I called finally arrived. We went back out to find the car and poor Boyfriend who had been in the pitch black for over an hour. The tow truck driver dropped us at the repair shop and Mom said there were a couple hotels around that we could stay at...a Hampton Inn which was about a mile away and $99 or a place called the Front St Inn for $55. I said book us the Hampton Inn since I had heard of that one, but not the $55 a night one? It has free Wifi and is on the beach, just like the Hampton Inn. I said "Does it look clean? Do you think it's alright?" because I was wary of anything that cost $55 for the night. She said, "Oh yeah, it says it's got clean rooms and it has gotten good reviews online." So we loaded up with all the stuff from the car we could carry and had a fairly short walk down to the Inn. It looked pretty rundown as we approach, but the front desk guy seemed nice and the office area was clean and smelled good. We got to our room and it was underwhelming. Or overwhelming, but overwhelmingly bad. At least it seems fairly clean. We were less than impressed though when we came out of our room and saw a bunch of sketchy people hanging out on the balcony upstairs and when our door lock didn't work really well. We half expected we would come back from dinner to find all of our stuff in the room gone. Anyway, I guess it'll do for the night and we've got our fingers crossed that they can fix our car tomorrow. Our guess is that it is a busted oil pan (I think that's what it's called), but we may run in to a problem as we are driving a VW Beetle and they may not have one that will work with the car. The nearest VW dealership is a 2 hour drive away so we're in trouble if they have to get the part from there! Keep your fingers crossed for us. I'll update you all tomorrow with what's going on and I'll hopefully post some pictures of what we've seen so far.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Oregon, My Oregon

There has been a 36 hour lull in the rain and yesterday was a beautiful, sunny day. This morning is cold, dull, and grey and the next storm is supposed to hit in the next few hours.

Boyfriend and I are taking off on our road trip tomorrow morning. We will be stopping in Mendocino/Fort Bragg for the night, which is way up in Northern California. On Tuesday, we will head up in to Grants Pass, Oregon, where we will be staying at this funky looking motel on the Rogue River. We plan on cruising through and finding out what Grants Pass has to do and see. There's a wildlife rehabilitation center there that I would like to see and we will be right near Crater Lake, which I think is the deepest lake in the world, so if it's not too snowy we might try and see it. On Thursday we will be taking the mountain route back down to San Francisco and will hopefully see some snow as we go. On Friday morning, we are hoping to get up early and walk the Golden Gate Bridge since we were unable to when we met Bun and Markie in the city last and then we will be home that afternoon. I'm excited to see new sites and for the adventure that always ensues when Boyfriend and I take off to a place we are unfamiliar with.

My sister, Nae, and her friend the Camp Counselor are going to be moving in to the pool house on Saturday so we are going to have a really full house until Boyfriend and I leave! Nae is bringing with her her 2 cats and 2 Australian tree frogs, as well. This should be interesting...

The reason Nae and C.C. are moving in is because one of their roommates decided to move out so they can't afford the rent where they are living now and rather than find a new place to move in to right now, they are going to move in here for a few months, which makes sense for Nae because she just found out she got in to a great white shark research program in South Africa!! I believe she will be there from April-June. I'm very excited for her. Working with great white sharks is her dream and now it seems after some stops and starts and bumps along the way, her dream is coming true! I don't know if any of you guys have been to South Africa or are from there, but if you have any hints/tips/advice about going there, please email me (lilddownunder at gmail dot com) or leave a comment on here with them.

Anyway, I'm bringing my camera and my laptop with me so more than likely I'll be updating the blog from the road. If I find any fun souvenirs along the way, I might even hold a giveaway when I get back!

Friday, January 22, 2010

There's a Little Black Spot on the Sun Today

Another Uncle B, Another suicide. This Uncle B was not my own, that was 2 and a half years ago now. This Uncle B is the Uncle to some good family friends. These 3 siblings have gone through a lot in the pass few years, including the loss of their mother and now they are struggling to deal with the tragic loss of their uncle. I had only met their Uncle B a few times in my life, the last I can remember at one of the college graduations and he seemed like a fun, funny, and charming man, but as his niece G explains he had been struggling with depression this past year and no one knew just how bad it had gotten.

Oh depression. My Godmother describes it as a "Beast" and what a beast it seems to be. Coming on slowly or quickly, but maybe quietly at first and then invading every part of a once happy life until there is no hope left, no joy. I can't imagine that kind of pain. I hope that I never have to experience it.

The one bright spot in all of this is the hope that Uncle B, and really all people who choose to take their life, has found peace. As my Godmother wrote, she hopes that B’s and J’s (his sister-in-law and the above mentioned mother that has passed away) "souls have somehow connected in a world beyond our understanding, and they have found a peace that seems to escape us humans here on earth." I hope that for him, as well. God rest his soul.

If you or anyone you know is experience signs of depression or feels suicidal please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1800-273-talk (8255).

Thursday, January 21, 2010

When the Lights Go Down in the City

I love storms and I love the rain, but I love them a little less when the power goes out. We've been without electricity for more than a day now so it's pretty cold and dark at the house. Boyfriend and I are little refugees at Nae's house now. We're enjoying her free heat, internet, and electricity.

Last night Dad managed to barbecue some chicken and throw together a salad, but I think tonight we'll be bringing something home for dinner as, luckily, there wasn't a whole lot left in the refrigerator when the power went out, and what is there, I'm not really trusting after 24 hours of sitting without cold.

It's pretty wild around here with mini mudslides and trees down across the road and there was even a tornado warning for the area yesterday but we're safe and enjoying the adventure of riding out the storms. I hope that if you're somewhere that is being hit by these storms that you are safe, too.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

One Week He's in Polka Dots, the Next Week He's in Stripes

I think I mentioned in my Christmas post that Boyfriend had gotten me a clutch made by Jenny/Stylez at ReJENerate and it finally arrived:

I absolutely love it! It is so cute and I love the sailor theme and I love that Jen only uses vintage, recycled materials to make all of her bags and clutches. This little guy is very well constructed and I love how the inside has the same pattern but in a different color!

I think it's pretty neat that she also hand sews the "ReJENerate" label in to all of her stuff (you can kind of see it on the red under the clasp there). Boyfriend did very well with this gift!

It was such a great coincidence that the day the clutch came, I had been to Old Navy and gotten new jeans, a new undershirt, and a dark blue shirt with stripes that matched the bag! I wore the new outfit and took the clutch out with me that night to my Dad's birthday dinner and then on to a bar with Nae and Boyfriend to see a band we used to follow in high school play.

Anyway, I love my new clutch! Jen's got some really great designs and she can do custom stuff, too, so check out her site at the link above if you're looking for a new bag/clutch/bridesmaid's gift.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Put Down Your Sword and Crown. Come Lay With Me On the Ground

I liked the second episode of Big Love so much better! The last scene had me tearing up as much as Nicki was almost and a big part of that was because I thought the song that they had playing in the background was so lovely. Here is the music video for it, I haven't watched it yet, just been listening to the song in the background as I type:

I hope you like it as much as I do and Yay! for Big Love being back on track.

Sometimes No One Wants What We Got...

So it rained on Sunday and we didn't do the second day of the garage sale. Consequently, I now owe Boyfriend $8 for our little bake sale adventure. In other words, I have to pay Boyfriend for the 3 hours worth of baking I did Friday night and for the pleasure of getting up at 6:30 in the morning on a Saturday...good times!

Saturday night I had my Godsister and a friend from the Cookie Company and their boyfriends over for dinner and a soak in the jacuzzi.

Yesterday, Nae took me and Mom to get our nails done and our eyebrows waxed (and boy did I need that mani/pedi after a year of not having them done because of the absurd prices in Australia) in the morning. We then came home and picked up Boyfriend and Dad and went to see "It's Complicated." A bit of advice on this movie- don't go with your parents, there are some awkward parts! Nae, Boyfriend, and I also felt we were about 30 years too young to appreciate this movie. We got a few little laughs here and there but all the older people around us were having trouble breathing from laughing so hard! We were also really annoyed because it seems like older people like to talk during movies ("Oh, wow! Look at that garden!" "I think this part is going to be funny!") and there was one lady in front of us who every time she laughed, she also clapped very, very loudly and so you couldn't hear the rest of the joke on screen. I'd recommend waiting to see this one until it comes out on DVD.

After the movie, we headed out to do family dinner at Ristorante Avanti. It's this tiny little Italian restaurant and all of our food was delicious, especially the Chocolate Pots de Creme we had for dessert! It was really pricey, but a nice treat to have every once in a while, plus it was really nice to have all 5 of us together for a meal without it being a holiday or birthday.

Anyway, all-in-all not a bad weekend. A bit bummed about not making any money on my bake sale, but it was fun hanging out with Nae and all her roommates for the morning.

It's storming here today and we have had really high winds and some heavy rain blasting the house. We've got a fire going so it's nice and cozy sitting upstairs with all the windows that look out at the trees and the ocean; it's a great view of what's going on out there! I love being in this house when it rains.

Our time here is growing shorter and shorter and I don't think either Boyfriend or I feel ready to leave just yet. I think the more time we spend up here, the more we realize that this area would be a great place for us to live. We'll just have to see how it all works out in the long run, but for now he'll for sure be flying back on February 5th and I'll be following him on the 7th.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Everybody's Working for the Weekend

I'm getting up at 6:30 for the next two mornings to help my sister Nae with her garage sale. I made a ton of cupcakes and picked up soda and bottled water to sell, as well. I'll probably be too tired and busy to blog over the next few days so I'll see you back here on Monday. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Let's Go Surfin Now, Everybody's Learnin How

Boyfriend and I drove up to a famous surf spot today called Mavericks. The waves were supposed to be 15-20 feet with an occasional 25 footer in some sets. When we got there it was pretty windy and choppy. The waves were pretty big (12-15 ft), but not as big as they had predicted. There were still a handful of guys out there, though, getting towed in to the waves. A new swell is supposed to hit again on Monday so if it's not storming, we are going to drive the hour back up to see it. It is pretty amazing to see waves so powerful so close to shore and it is mind boggling to see guys out there riding them! They looked like little ants riding these mountains of water, even when watching them through our binoculars. Anyway, the video above is from a really big day there if you are interested and here is the wiki page about it. The history of the spot is pretty interesting (at least to me).

After we had stood up on the hill watching the surfers for an hour and a half, we went in to Half Moon Bay Harbor and had lunch out on the patio at the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company. It was a really nice day. We finished it by driving the coast home and coming in to Santa Cruz where the swell was even better (cleaner, but smaller than at Mavs) and there were tons of guys out even as the sun was setting and it was getting really dark out on the water. It looked like a lot of fun out there, but still not fun enough to get me out there with all those sharks!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Soup, Soup, a Tasty Soup, Soup!

This picture has nothing to do with this post. Mom's friend brought it over as a thank-you for their girls' weekend in San Francisco and I thought it was pretty and it's been making the whole kitchen smell like Hawaii!

It's raining here today and after checking what was available in the fridge last night I decided to try and make wonton soup. Luckily, it was really easy, especially because Trader Joe's has awesome potstickers that I used in place of homemade wontons. It was warm and hearty and filling, and with only 1 tablespoon of oil and all other ingredients being low cal and low fat, it tasted like we were being bad and having takeout Chinese without the guilt!

Here's what you will need (any of my substitutions will be in parenthesis):


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced garlic (used about 2 tablespoons of the crushed stuff in the jar)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger (used about 1 tablespoon and it could've used more, keep in mind 1/2 of this they are saying is for the wontons, but if you are using the TJ's and follow this you'd only use 1 tblsp, but I'm saying go ahead and add 2 tablespoons to the broth)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions, plus 3 tablespoons finely chopped
  • 10 cups canned low sodium chicken broth (I used half free range organic and half Swanson's in a can)
  • 1/2 pound ground pork (the next few things are for the wontons, which I substituted by using Trader Joe's chicken potstickers...I think they do a pork one and they for sure do a veggie one, too)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • About 30 wonton wrappers, thawed if frozen
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced bok choy
  • 1/2 cup sliced shiitake mushroom caps (I used the stems, too)
  • 1/4 cup sliced bamboo shoots (oops, I forgot these)
  • (I think some celery and carrots would be good in this, too, felt like it could've used a few more veggies)


In a large saucepan or soup pot heat the oil over medium high heat until hot. Add 1 tablespoon of the garlic and 1 tablespoon of the ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the 1/4 cup of sliced scallions and the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low so that the broth just simmers. Allow broth to simmer for at least 20 to 30 minutes while the wontons are being assembled.

Add the sliced bok choy, mushrooms, and bamboo shoots to the broth and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

(Skip next two paragraphs if using pre-made wontons)

In a small mixing bowl combine the remaining teaspoon of minced garlic, remaining tablespoon of chopped ginger, 3 tablespoons of finely chopped scallions, the pork, egg yolk, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and crushed red pepper. Mix until thoroughly combined.

Working on a flat work surface, lay out a few of the wontons. (Keep remaining wonton wrappers covered with plastic wrap.) Fill a small bowl partially with cool water and set aside. Using a teaspoon measure, place a heaping teaspoonful of the meat filling in the center of each wonton. Using your fingers, lightly wet the edges of the wonton. Bring 2 opposite corners of the wonton together to form a triangle and enclose the filling, pressing edges firmly around the mound of filling to eliminate any air pockets and seal. Moisten opposite corners of the long side. Curl moistened corners toward each other, overlapping one on top of the other, and press the edges together to seal. You should now have a rounded stuffed wonton with a triangle poking up at the top. Assemble the remaining wontons in the same manner. When the wontons are all assembled, set aside.

Using your hands or a slotted spoon, gently add the prepared wontons to the simmering broth. Increase the heat slightly so that the broth returns to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally (very gently), until the wontons float and the pork filling is cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Serve immediately.

I Pack Up My Belongings and I Head for the Coast.

Here are some pictures I have taken since getting my new camera at Christmas.

You couldn't see any of the pier deck because there were layers of sealions across every inch of it!

I know these guys look grey, but they are actually California Brown Pelicans.

Trying to figure out how to snag a spot up on the pier.

No room on the pier, guess we'll have to sleep on the rocks!

Looks comfy!

You can't really see them very well but this is like a whole raft of sea otters. There are at least 100 of them in the area, but none got close enough for me to get a good picture of. We are hoping to go out kayaking at this place before we leave and will try and get pictures of these cute little guys up close.

You're looking for a starfish in this picture. It is purple and has bumps all over it.

This is some kind of weird fish that washed up on our beach and Mom dazzled us with her story of finding it and how we just had to go down and see it because it was "like nothing she'd ever seen before." We found it and said, "Huh, is this it? I thought it would be bigger. Isn't this just a flying fish or something?"

Little Sand Pipers.

It's the California State Flower: the California Poppy!

Dad and Boyfriend on one of our walks through the campground.

One of the campsites.

The worst part of going down and walking on the beach or in the campground is then you have to hike up this big hill to get home.

Still hiking up the hill.

We get lots of mushrooms on the trail. About a month ago we had really big ones that were bright orange/red with white spots on them. If I find any again, I'll be sure to get a picture because they were really pretty.

As Boyfriend and I were doing the loop walk yesterday, we came to this part of the path that gets pretty foresty on either side, I was just about to remind him how Dad and I had once seen a coyote or something in the bushes there, when something ran across our path! I think it was a coyote, as it moved like a dog, but then I got a glimpsed of its tail and it was kind of bobcat like. We came across some really, really fresh poop about 5 feet down the path, but coyote and bobcat poop seem to look a lot alike, so we can't be sure what it was. Either way it was pretty neat to have a spotting like that in the middle of the day!