Back and Better Than Ever!

October 7, 2014 at 7:34 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

The beach by my hostel. Its name? Sunset Beach.

The beach by my hostel. Its name? Sunset Beach.

Well, my vacation was fantastic.  Another amazing adventure for the books!

If I were to go into each and every reason this was an awesome trip, you’d be here reading all night.  Instead, I’ll shove all the highlights of the things I did into a couple of lists and leave them for your perusal!

Vancouver, B.C. (four nights, five days)

  • Spent lots of time walking along the English Bay, as there was a nice little beach about 3 minutes from my hostel.
  • Hiked around a lake in Stanley Park and tried to hike more but accidentally exhausted myself instead.
  • Took the ferry to shop on Granville Island and ate delicious olives, cheese and cannoli at the Granville Public Market.
  • Braved the one rainy day I encountered by taking a bus to the University of British Columbia Campus, where I pretended I was a student for a bit and then poked around the Museum of Anthropology for three hours.
  • Stood in awe in the Vancouver Public Library, which was seven stories tall and full of some of my favorite things.  Books.  Duh.
  • Went to the top of the Vancouver Tower, which is a lookout sort of like the Sears Tower (only way smaller.  Sorry, Vancouver).  Still had a great view and took of pictures.
  • Bared my tourist status by going to Canada Place and taking lots of photos there too.  It was sort of like Navy Pier and also smaller, however not as annoyingly full of children and overpriced beer.  Point = Vancouver.
  • Wandered through Gastown and saw the famous Gastown Steam Clock, which was unsurprisingly unexciting.  Also wandered through Yorktown, Chinatown (the oldest in North America!) and the gay district, where I happened to be staying.
  • Somehow stumbled through what is probably the worst section of Vancouver, as evidenced by the needle depots on the sides of buildings and the people living on the sidewalks.  Didn’t get mugged!
  • Found a guy who hemmed my jeans for $10 while I waited in the changing room – took less than 5 minutes!
  • Talked to a couple who met 52 years ago from the day I met them, and they were on a six-week road trip through Canada and the United States.  They were seeing more of North America than I ever have and I found them inspirational.  I may or may not have taken their picture.
  • Indulged in WAY too much delicious food, including but not limited to a couple of chocolate éclairs nearly the size of Subway sandwiches.  These came from a Transylvanian Bakery that was dangerously close to my hostel.  I may or may not have stopped by there multiple nights.
  • Got fantastic sleep, which was surprising considering I was on the top bunk in a four person room of a hostel.
Told you.

Told you.

San Diego, CA (three nights, two days):

  • Caught up with an old friend of mine, who was kind enough to let me crash at her place and play tour guide while driving my ass around.
  • Saw seals at La Jolla Beach and climbed through a cave on the beach.

    I see a seal!

    I see a seal!

  • Ordered a Manhattan at this dive type whiskey bar that had over 200 bottles of whiskey.  Just whiskey.  And my drink was delicious.
  • Toured the Gaslamp Quarter, which was cool but didn’t have the unexciting clock like Gastown in Vancouver.
  • Crossed the Coronado Bridge and sampled a flight from the Coronado Brewery.
  • Walked through Balboa Park where we went to a couple of museums, a botanical garden and generally saw pretty things.
  • Tried to get into the San Diego Zoo but my friend’s pass was expired (we technically knew this but tried anyway).  Wound up getting photos of the San Diego Zoo sign instead.
  • Spent one late night watching Frozen, which I’d been wanting to watch for a while.  Was not disappointed.
  • Again ate WAY too much food, including an obscene amount of avocado.  Just obscene.  No regrets.
  • Went to Old Town, which was described to me as a kind of Mexican Disneyland.  This was fairly accurate and the tacos were delicious.
Pretty church in Balboa Park

Pretty church in Balboa Park

  • Absorbed as much sunshine and heat as I could, since it was 95 when I left CA and snowing at that time in Chicago.  Yuck.  YUCK I say!
  • Got minimal sleep, which was unsurprising given all of the catching up we did and the fact that my friend didn’t have AC (see above).

The Pros:  Seeing my old friend was fantastic but ultimately (and of course this has nothing to do with her) I think I enjoyed my time in Vancouver more.  Maybe it was because I actually walked around it more thoroughly (i.e. 6-10 miles every day), maybe because it was so freaking gorgeous or maybe it was the pure freedom of not having any place specific to go or thing to do, but I fell in love with that city.  So much so that I kind of felt like I was cheating on Chicago.  Whatever, the affair was worth it and I plan on going back!

The Cons:  My flight home was delayed and I spent almost two hours sitting on the runway in Denver, CO.  Not ideal.  But if that’s the worst thing that happened to me on my trip, I’ll consider myself a damn lucky girl indeed!


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Vacation Here I Come!

September 25, 2014 at 8:00 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

This time on Saturday I will be wandering around the streets of Vancouver, immersing myself in anything and everything the city has to offer.  And I cannot wait!  I’ve got my currency, passport and a bag packed and I’ve also come up with a few things to keep myself occupied.  The Museum of Anthropology is at the top of the list, as is the Granville Public Market and Stanley Park.  There are a few other things that look really interesting and the hostel I’m staying at offers some guided tours as well, so I may just take them up on that.  There are some funky restaurants and shops I want to investigate and I’ve been told that Vancouver’s Chinatown is simply the best.  I almost feel like I should’ve booked a longer stay but then I wouldn’t have had time for the second stop on my itinerary, sunny San Diego!

Bring It, World

I’m staying with a friend of mine whom I haven’t seen in years and we’re both super excited to hang out and catch up.  We’re going to check out the historic downtown Gaslamp District, La Jolla cove (which has lots of seals!), some delicious restaurants and a bar that’s kind of like a speakeasy, the Coronado Bridge and Island and various other things.  At least, we’ll try to do all of this.  I’m really only there for two full days so we’ll try to pack as much action into that time as humanely possible!

My last vacation was over a year ago when Scott and I went to Costa Rica and while that was beautiful and relaxing, I’m ready to get out and do some actual city exploration.  It should be an easy trip compared to many of my others, especially since English is the primary language everywhere I’m going.  I’m shoving all of my stuff into a backpack and I have a tendency to over pack so we’ll see how heavy that thing winds up being.  I don’t really need too much, but the weather in Vancouver is going to be chilly and rainy whereas San Diego will be warm and sunny, so I’ll be packing for both climates.  But having lived in the Midwest all of my life, I’m prepared for some erratic weather!

Scott and I are volunteering at an annual fundraiser for the food pantry I work with Friday night, which I kinda wish I had thought about when I booked my plane ticket.  We’ve been helping with this big event every year it’s been going on and it’s a whole lot of fun – we basically give out name tags while listening to live music and enjoying free food and drinks.  There’s a huge silent auction during the party and it’s in a really cool architectural space BUT my flight leaves at 8am Saturday morning (and since it’s technically international my butt will be there extra early) so I’m sure I’ll be dragging when I get on the plane.  Still – this is all extremely fun stuff and I’m not complaining so I’m sure with a coffee (or three) I’ll be bouncing up and down and enjoying myself no matter what!  How could I not?

Until we meet again!

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Another Trip Booked!

July 22, 2014 at 8:56 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

I am in dire need of a vacation!  It’s been exactly a year since Scott and I went to Costa Rica and I’ve been itching to get out of the country once again.  After I hit my goal of going to every continent (minus Antarctica) before the age of 30, I made a new mission to continue my streak and go abroad once a year for 10 years straight.  In order to do that I needed to renew my passport and I just got my new one back a few weeks ago so it was time to book a trip!

Sidenote: my new passport is all stiff and full of USA propaganda and completely empty.  It makes me sad.

Here I come!

But!  I’ll start filling it soon because I just booked myself a trip to Vancouver, Canada at the end of September!  This year has been a difficult one when it came to saving cash for a vacation but I managed to do it nonetheless.  I toyed with trips to many different places but in the end, it was cheaper and easier to go just go to Canada for a few days.  I’ll be flying to Vancouver for four nights and then going down to San Diego, CA to stay with an old friend for an additional three.  Seeing as how I’ve never been to Canada or California, I’m pretty jazzed!

I’d be more jazzed if Scott was coming with me but he’ll be busy with school so this is to be another solo trip (at least the Canada part, since I’ll be with my friend in CA).  That’s okay though because there seems to be plenty there to keep me busy!  I’ve already booked my hostel and have found an awesome anthropology museum and a pretty cool library I will definitely be checking out.  There are lots of markets to peruse and the nature around looks beautiful so I’m sure I’ll be doing as much as I can while I’m there.  The area I’m staying in seems pretty walkable and it should be a nice time of the year to go.  Not going to lie – I’m pretty excited!  And I’ve got plenty of time to plan some stuff out, though I’m sure the trip will be here before I know it.  At least, I hope so!

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Premature Malfunctionation

July 5, 2012 at 11:35 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

Yes, I may have made up a word.  Deal with it.

From the Associated Press:

SAN DIEGO — The Fourth of July fireworks display above San Diego Bay was over in a flash after a malfunction that the show’s producer blamed Thursday on a computer glitch caused the planned 20-minute spectacle to burn up all at once.  The mishap occurred minutes before the scheduled opening of the Big Bay Boom show, the Coast Guard said. Guard spokesman Rich Dann told U-T San Diego he’s never seen so many fireworks go off at one time.  Online video shows multiple light bulb-shaped explosions flaring up from barges in the bay, lighting the night sky over downtown San Diego. Rapid snaps and pops punctuate the blazes, which begin to fizzle and sputter in a matter of seconds.  Show producer Garden State Fireworks, the Port of San Diego and the San Diego Fire Department said there were no injuries. Hundreds of thousands of people witnessed the short-lived spectacle. 

Well, that was fast

Garden State Fireworks has apologized, saying they’re working to determine what caused “the entire show to be launched in about 15 seconds.”  August Santore, part-owner in the company, said tens of thousands of fireworks on four barges and a pier had been prepared. But because of a glitch or virus in the computer firing system, they all went off with one command, he said.  “Thank goodness no one was injured. Precautions all worked 100 percent,” Santore said.  The 122-year-old company produced hundreds of holiday shows across the country Wednesday night.  Santore said the company feels “terrible” about the mishap.

Garden State Fireworks has staged pyrotechnic displays for the 1988 Winter Olympics, the Statue of Liberty Bicentennial Celebration and New Year’s Eve in Central Park, New York.  “We are a good strong company, and we rely on technology. We’ll take the ridicule as long as no one was injured,” Santore said.  The Port of San Diego and dozens of area companies and civic groups pay about a quarter million dollars to put on the show, said Michelle Ganon, director of marketing and communications for the port.  Ganon said she understood between 350,000 and 500,000 people were expected, but she was waiting for an official crowd count later in the day.

This was 11th year of Big Bay Boom show in San Diego.  Special parking, carpools and free shuttles were set up, the San Diego Trolley was packed, hotel rooms facing the bay were sold out, a patriotic score was set to be simulcast on a local radio station and the show was set to stream live on the Web.  “After the big explosion, a lot of people were in awe … until nothing came after it,” San Diego resident Michael Freeby told U-T San Diego. “The general consensus was that there had been some budget cuts. I waited nearly an hour after, and seemingly so did the large crowd, including people who apparently camped for the fireworks and were still there when I left. Total disappointment!”


While it must really suck to be one of the people that shelled out big bucks for a hotel room for this event, I can’t help but smile just a little.  Does that make me a bad person?  I don’t know about that but I do know that when I was still hearing fireworks at 11pm in my neighborhood last night (which was a work night), the thought of them all going off at once early in the evening sounded mighty appealing…


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