Saturday, May 30, 2009

More Big Trees

For Memorial Day weekend, we decided to go look at more big trees in Sequoia National Park, about five hours south of San Francisco. We found that Sequoia National Park is a place that requires a great deal of patience.

First of all, like I said before, it takes at least five hours to get there. "There" means the entrance to the park. From the entrance, you drive along what feels like 100 miles of winding, two lane road, full of more switchbacks than one person can reasonably handle.

Once over the mountains, you get to the Giant Forest, where you find the largest living things on earth:

This tree took at least three thousand years to grow.

We had to sit quietly for long moments to get a picture of this varmint.

This cave took something like two million years to form.

This is Moro Rock, a massive granite outcropping that surveys the deep valley below. You have to climb 400 steps to get to the top.

And here is Roo in his more natural habitat. We were here at this lodge waiting two hours for our dinner reservation. We went exploring while we waited and found this river.

And once we ordered our meal, we waited another hour before the food came. The waitress apologized profusely, and due to our wait, we earned a free dessert. It was while eating our free chocolate cake that I realized that although this place requires a lot of patience--3000 years for a tree to grow, 400 steps to see a view, a million years for a cave to form, an hour to get dinner--it's all worth the wait. 

It was a beautiful place!

That understanding mildly lessened the annoyance when we were stopped on our way out of the park late at night in a line of traffic--a car had veered off the road and rolled over.  We just looked at the stars and waited indefinitely.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Blogger beware: This post is by Roo!

Although Annie is an excellent blogger, there are a few things she simply cannot blog about:

1. Animal suffering

2. Suffering animals

3. Annie

Therefore, I (Roo) will take this prime blogger real estate and say a few words about 1, 2 and 3:

1. Animal suffering - is sad, and should end.

2. Suffering animals - are also sad, but they should live.

3. Annie - who is she?
A few weeks ago I was watching TV and saw a commercial for the new Terminator movie. I gave out a small cheer at the end when I saw that it is rated PG-13. Annie rolled her eyes, knowing that she was now obligated to watch it with me. Well, judgment day came and we went to the movies. As the previews were coming to an end, Annie whispered, "The next movie we see needs to be a romance." Two hours later, Annie was the biggest female fan of the Terminator (out of 3 females in the packed theater). At first I thought she just enjoyed it, later I realized it was an obsession! For over a week, Annie has been randomly bringing up plot lines and discussions of characters. She couldn't wait until we could go to blockbuster to rent Terminator 1 (to fill in plot gaps) so she looked it up on wiki. When I got home from work she was able recite the whole saga of Earth vs. Machine. It didn't stop there! We then went to blockbuster and rented T1 (as she affectionately calls it now), and watched it last night. She loved it. WAIT, there's MORE! On my lunch break at work today I called to see how she was doing. She seemed a little hesitant, then abruptly admitted, "I took back T1...(pause)...and rented T2 today, is that okay?" My thoughts were: Annie - who is she?

Note: I am not lying

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Muir Woods

About 15 minutes away from our house is Muir Woods National Monument. Last week we decided to go check it out.

The quiet woods are full of cathedral-like groves of Redwood trees. You have to crane your neck to see the vaulted sky above.

I am not just a tree-hugger, I'm a tree-kisser. 
(let's not think about how many tourist finger have touched that spot...)

Here is Roo considering some of the wildlife we saw in this ancient, primeval forest:

And then we found the ocean nearby.

Friday, May 22, 2009

In Hell...

...the Devil will gather up all of your earthly sins and make you spend eternity attempting to push them around in one of those utterly uncontrollable IKEA shopping carts...

We bought these barstools and decided to return them; however, [apparently] you can't return stuff unless you have the little barcode that was hidden somewhere in the plastic wrap that you already threw away at home. This was explained to me by an unsympathetic check out girl who couldn't care less that I drove all this way (like, thirty minutes) for nothing. And as I was wheeling my defunct barstools back to my car, the uncooperative shopping cart would start drifting closer and closer to the tall curb, gaining momentum, almost eager to overturn itself in the parking lot. It took super-human strength to correct its perilous direction and keep it from taking out the toddler and his mother in my path. And then it would do it again! Darn those four wily swiveling wheels!

And this is how I came to my conclusion about the conditions in Hell.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Photo Shoot at the Golden Gate

Roo was gone at work for the day and I was alone in a new city. Thankfully I wasn't in one of those "there's-nothing'to-do-in-this-stupid-city" cities. And I decided to venture onto the Golden Gate Bridge with my camera.

Besides flooding toilets and sleepwalkers, there are two things I am absolutely terrified of: earthquakes and heights. Thus, my foray onto this massive structure, which spans the earthquakiest place on earth, was unnerving at best. I parked my car at one end and started walking. As the ground below fell further and further away, gradually turning into ocean, I grew more and more panicked. The bridge seemed to roar as the passing cars sped by, adding gusts of wind to the already windy stretch. I grasped my camera and my hat to keep it from blowing into the bay and began forming an escape plan should the structure decide to fail that morning. I walked quickly and tried to distract myself by taking pictures. I marvelled at the crowds of seemingly unaffected tourists who meandered and chit-chatted all the way across this overwhelming red deco monster, which above all felt to me precarious.

According to Wikipedia, this is the most popular place in the world to commit suicide. Since whenever they started counting, at least 1200 people have jumped off here. And those are just the ones that were witnessed...I read all this before going that day, so I was thoroughly freaked out even before leaving my house. It is just disconcerting to be snapping pictures of the place where at least 1200 people have decided to die with no one for company besides my tweed GAP hat and about a billion German tourists.

I made it halfway out until I could not ignore how far away the ocean was below me, then turned eagerly back. At one point, I had to cross a little suspended walkway underneath the bridge to get back to my car. I made sure no one was looking, then sprinted as fast as I could toward the parking lot. I may have even stifled a little scream...

From there I drove to a slightly more stable view area above the bridge. Here I could appreciate its wonderful design without fear of dying. A foreign tourist asked me to take his picture then offered to take mine in return. So here I am posing with my favorite architectural monster.
The view was so impressive that I wanted to go back the next day. But this time I was sure to bring Roo and the dogs. And we all appreciated the bridge from a nice, safe distance.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Price of a Tuesday

Crossing the bridge to meet Roo for lunch in Richmond: $4

Lunch for two at In N' Out: $12

Two loads of laundry: $3.50

A walk along Sausalito's waterfront while trying to keep Chase from pooping on the sidewalk and hold Lando back from attacking the passing cars: My dignity plus $2 for parking.

Having to drive 25 minutes all the way from Sausalito back to Richmond at 5 pm with an empty tank of gas to give Roo his keys which he accidentally left in my car at lunchtime: Priceless*
(*price does not take into account the second $4 bridge toll of the day or full tank of gas I had to buy to get back home.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How's the View?

Anyone who tells you that moving is fun is probably just trying to sell you something. 
Moving is exhausting, physically and emotionally. And even more so when it requires you to drive across Nevada. Last weekend we packed up as much as we could fit in two cars and a truck and trekked across the desert. Nevada makes me nervous to begin with, but Nevada late at night plus anxious dogs in the seat next to you and a never-ending stretch of freeway made me hate nothing more than Nevada that night. Thankfully, the view that awaited us made the 400 hour trip seem worth it:

Here is a picture of our apartment complex taken from our balcony. The bridge in the background is the Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge is behind the hill to the right. The city of Sausalito is next to all the sail boats. And here is the view at night.

We could not have moved without the help of my parents. My dad was a hero for agreeing to drive across Nevada on his birthday, and mom was a hero for surviving the night we spent in a Winemucca hotel.
On Sunday we took a drive up the coast to the Point Reyes lighthouse. Once again, the views did not disappoint:

I had to give my brain a rest as it was being overloaded by mind-bogglingly beautiful nature vistas. So I closed my eyes and thought of Nevada.