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August 31, 2005
Greek Isles - Part 7 - Greek Cats & Dogs
Photography , Travel

Anything you want to tell me feel free!!

10:16 PM | Comments (2)
May 18, 2005
New York In Spring - Part One
Travel

Anything you want to tell me feel free!!

03:25 PM | Comments (0)
May 03, 2005
Scrabble Kids
Travel

Sitting next to an airport restaurant in JFK called "Mex In The City", I hear a young (prolly 9 or 10 years old) boy ask very earnestly at the counter:

"Excuse me, what would happen if you changed the M to an S?"

Not horribly surprising, but the sincerity of the question was so cute!

01:45 PM | Comments (0)
JFK Stuck!!!
Air , Family , Travel

I'm sitting at a table in JFK; computer plugged in trying to use the sketchy free internet connection from Jet Blue, camera in lap attempting to catch something of the people in this airport without the wonderful shield I had behind the flight info tv's at LAX. *sighs* the bottoms of those boards are all filled in here, no place for the photographer to hide and photograph feet in peace.

I have much to do though. Many wonderful birthday emails to respond to, just finished de-spamming my blog. Literally thousands of photographs to sort through and a couple cards worth to download too. Blogs and photoblogs to catch up on! I really do wish I could find a hidden spot to photograph feet from.

Oh and there is much to write up about the trip, but I don't think I'll get to that right this moment. Though I will say that Kevin got home to house and Nym Sunday evening and I miss him terribly. But it was still good to travel on a bit and spend a couple days in western upstate NY with my parents and sister. But oh its good to be going home now (had to go back to JFK to get to CA - silly flights).

Oh and in true Rachel style I managed to sprain my ankle on Sunday just before we left for the airport. So now I'm all bandaged up and while feeling better am still a bit tender and rather bruised.

la la la... too many hours to sit here... la la la la la la la la la......

more later!

11:53 AM | Comments (0)
January 27, 2005
UnderWater Dangers
Photography , Travel , Water

I promised in my last photo album that I would tell this little story. Unlike the Baja trip the trip to Bora Bora is not one that I can't the day by day story line... or I could, but I won't because you would be bored. It was a wonderful trip filled with naps and bumming by the pool and beach and a few planned adventures. I just know you don't want to hear about my naps and sunburn though.

So the little story worth telling (I knew I would get to it eventually) is an underwater story. I seem to just find the scary underwater things! In Baja I told you that I managed to find a rock fish (the most deadly fish in the sea of Cortez) and a tiger eel (which isn't horribly dangerous, its just very snake like and snakes scare me!). Well during my second dive in Bora Bora I did one better, I found a Moray Eel! I was quite scared.

So on our second dive we were lucky, there were four of us and we got a boat to ourselves with our own guide because the other boat was going to a different area. This group usually pairs a guide with about 4 divers. Since I had dove with them earlier in the week and Susan had the most recent experience besides me our guide took the two of us in first. We went down and around for a little bit. Once the guide was satisfied that we knew enough of what we were doing he took us to this one rock very near the boat and made motions that we were to stay in this area around the big rock and that he was going to go up and get Jill and Scott.

This thrilled me, I finally had a chance to spend figuring out how to get close to the fish at this rock to take some close up pictures with my macro lenses and I didn't have to worry about the guide moving on and my needing to hurry. So I approached the rock, it was wide and not to high and well prolly more coral based and rock. Its major defining feature was a very old box that seemed to be embedded in one end. Susan and I swam around I took my photos and kept moving around the rock following the fish.

I was coming around and kind of over the rock when I saw it, near a bunch of fish that I was heading toward. I just saw a head, it was bigger than my fist by maybe another half fist, maybe not quite that much, it had a long nose/mouth sticking out the front and it was dark, almost black.

I knew what I was looking at right away, but something in my brain didn't want to believe it. So I doubled back the way I had come and circled around the other way to make sure that I had really seen what I thought I had seen. It was true, I was right, from the other side again, there it was just a head and a little body protruding from inside the rock, and the mouth open just a little this time. A little is enough to see the teeth.

No, I did NOT take a picture. When I get scared I just get away. I don't know the habits of the Moray Eel. I've only ever heard of people getting their arms bit when they stick them in holes looking for lobsters, but I see teeth and I have no idea if he would come after me. If I had take the picture from where I was, well the underwater camera makes things look a bit further away so it just would have been Moray Eel at a distance, and I'll be damned if I was getting closer to those teeth.

I turned around and ran... well swam fast over to Susan because, well we are down here with a Moray Eel ALONE!!

I did my little hand signals and frantic gestures to signal to Susan what I had seen so she can be careful. I tried to show her where he had been, but at this point he had gone back inside the rock.

Our guide came back down with us and I did my little charades for him, but he didn't seem to care. They are much more used to things like that than I am, but still, I wanted nothing to do that that rock anymore. Luckily with Jill and Scott down with us we headed away from that rock and to new under water wonders.

Despite my tendency to find the underwater scaries, I really can't wait to go scuba diving again!!!

10:58 AM | Comments (0)
November 28, 2004
Adventures In Baja Part III
Photography , Travel , Water

October 16th

Finally out of our tents once the sun was fully up, we went for a morning hike to see our beautiful bay from above, fly a kite, get a real view of how crystal clear the water is and just enjoy our thorny rose for the last time. Back down on the beach though we were soon ready to escape the land of the No-see-ems. We took off in our kayaks, made another Paco Pit stop and were off on another beautiful morning of kayaking. After the first day of muscle burn I was really into it, my muscles didnít burn nearly as much (Iíd been working out like crazy to get ready for this) and it was fun. We hugged the coast most of the time and really enjoyed our views.

Near to our camp zone and lunch quickly approaching we made a small detour into a lagoon. Surrounded by mangrove trees and overlooking pelicans we navigated our way through some sharp turns and close quarters. Kevin and Iís large 2 person kayak had a little trouble with one of the hard turns, but a little push and shove and we made it through.

The lagoon let out into a center pool of sorts, larger than the pathways and still surrounded by the low mangrove trees, which echoed with a pop, pop, pop on all sides of us. Itís a deep sound kind of like that noise you make when you pop your cheek with your finger. It was the sound of clams popping out of the mud just below the water, and it was pretty eerie.

Not far from the lagoon we found what was meant to be our next campsite. We set up a shade tent and relaxed and watched Kevin and Steve play some cutthroat cribbage. After our guides had looked around the camp area a little bit the came back to us with a decision: we could a. put up camp here tonight but we would most likely see more bugs than last night and would have to go into our tents as soon as the sun was down. You see, in looking around there was a standing pool of water not far from where we were sitting and the lagoon of mangrove trees really not much farther away. Bug Central! All of this in addition to the shallow waters in this bay being rather prone to sting ray, it didnít sound like a fun place.

Our other choice being to pick up (we hadnít really unpacked much yet) and row a couple more miles to another camp site which was on the tip of the island; and while it would be windy there would be no bugs guaranteed. The vote, 3 to 1 was the move, so we waited for the tide change, watched some more cribbage, had a happy crab visitor and then happily up and we all set out for a little jaunt in the kayaks to a new site. We paddled out, passed a little fishing hut and soon were at our new home for the night.

Our new site we found very much to our liking. We found a few new neighbors: Hermit Crabs. I think we may have become the annoying new neighbors though, as Kevin not only liked to pick them up so they would keep popping out of their shells, but also running hermit crab races and setting up scenes with toys found in our Bimbo Bread package (yes Bimbo is the name of a popular bread company in Mexico). The hermit crabs got us back a little bit though. One got stuck under our tent for a moment as we were setting up and gave us a scare as one scrambled out. It was a unique camp set up all around.

One thing that I havenít mentioned from earlier is that while at lunch spot, before we moved, I was able to pull out the fish book and look for the things I had seen snorkeling the day before. I identified the snake like thing as Tiger Eel. I donít think I was believed still, or at least our guide and others were skeptical of my identification. That evening though, just before sunset we spotted another Tiger eel. He was swimming along right at the waters edge and stopping now and then to dip his head into the sand and grab a hermit crab for dinner. We followed along to shore with him for a bit. I tried to get a photo but the flash kept reflecting off the water. *sighs* At least I was proven right, or close enough at least.

We stayed outside late that night. The wind saved us from the bugs and still managed not to be too cold. The stars were beautiful and vast. You couldnít help be enthralled and mystified by the number of twinkling and falling stars. We spent the evening chatting and pointing out constellations. It was a wonderful night.

The next morning I had hoped to get a little more snorkeling in, but this was not to be. Instead a little walk on the beach to see what had been washed up in the night was all the rough surf would allow. I had also hoped to avoid making the final crossing in the kayak but I was to be disappointed there too.

Earlier in the trip we were told we had an optional final kayak challenge of crossing the channel between the island and the mainland. The actual mileage is shorter than some of the trips we had already made, but that doesnít make it easier. One of the major issues was the lack of mental check marks between one shore and the other, all you could really tell was one shore got a little closer and the other a little farther way. Kevin and I had already discussed it and didnít feel a need to make this crossing. We were quite happy with the concept of the motorboat picking us up. I for one was having a little bit of bowel discomfort and was a bit grumpy and just didnít want to do it. Our guide however had made the assumption we were all in for this without asking and had already called in to let headquarters know they didnít need to send the boat. I wonít go into details however I will say that we were talked/peer pressured into making the crossing.

Before we could go however we first need the waters to be safe and with the surf the way that it was that just wasnít going to happen right away. Our guideís exact words on the matter were ďWe will wait until 11:00 and if itís died down we will go. If not, we will wait some moreĒ. Is it just me or does something ring awfully wrong about that one? Eventually the water died down and we set out!

Now my friend Ali has written about exercise and pushing yourself and such. I know she finds it exhilarating even when she started out not wanting to do it. I think Iím just too stubborn for that. Earlier in the trip I experienced the burn, was happy, embraced it and powered on. It was cool. This time it was totally opposite.

Those bugs which were only supposed to be annoying turned out to be a bit more, in fact the bites and begun to become horribly itchy. On top of that my tummy wasnít the happiest and I was a bit pissed about being pushed into making the crossing I didnít want to make. But we set out and it started out fine.

It soon became apparent how hard the lack of visual checkpoints was going to be on my mindset. You could see the land ahead and that behind and that only changed marginally as you went. It was excruciating. Kevin was a lifesaver by bringing a small GPS unit that told us how far we had gone so we could guess at how far there was left to go (based on the 5 mile estimate our guide had given us). I had to battle myself to not keep asking him how far we had gone, both because I didnít want to be annoying and because earlier in the week trying to row and read the GPS constantly had made Kevin a little queasy.

The high points of the crossing included numerous Mackerel jumping just off the tip of our kayaks as they were scared by our approach and the very last Paco cleaning stop (woo hoo... no more paco cleaning). Sometimes it doesnít take much to make me happy, and sometimes, wellÖ

Not even half way across I began to experience the second thing that would make me power through the burn; exhaustion. I had paddled for the last two days, wasnít feeling well this one and so my body was crying out for a break. My mind wasnít helping since there were no visual checkpoints and I was on the verge of a breakdown in some regards.

Anyone else with the stubborn gene in them will understand this next section of the story. I was pissed at being made to row. I wanted to give up and sit there in the ocean until someone came to get me. This was what was going on in the back of my head. Itís what I wanted and yet I not only knew I couldnít have it, but that I would be acting like a spoiled brat in some ways. Part of me really didnít care, I had sunk pretty low with discomfort and anger, fortunately the rest of me was too stubborn to let this take over and was determined to finish the trip. I know they wanted me to make it across; it was cheaper for them if they didnít have to send out a motorboat. However there was some part of me that figured that resisting failure at this was also spiting them for pushing me into it. Iím not exactly sure how I came to this logic, but I did at the time.

When you reach this mental and physical low but are still stuck in the middle of a channel between the island and the mainland I think you will find that there is only one option: paddle hard. Up till this point Kevin and I had kept a rhythm that we would use on occasion. We would paddle 10 strokes at a normal pace, then do 20 hard and fast and settle back to 10 normal using the momentum to coast along. It was fun. Now however I felt like the only thing I could do to keep myself from feeling like I was going insane and drowning, was to power paddle real hard no matter how I felt. I would do this with no warning to Kevin (poor guy), I would do this for long periods of time. I was simply pushing past pure exhaustion and exerting any last strength I had in a desperate effort to make it to shore as soon as possible, because the alternative was failure or slow frustration. Gak!

Finally reaching the shore was one of the most odd and interesting experiences ever. Finally I could stop paddling and coast into the beach. Exhaustion took hold. From a distance I had seen the palm topped huts and beach tents as I approached, but when we actually hit the beach I really only had the energy to lift my head a bit and what I saw was only the beach. Pure white sand speckled with soft colorful stones and shells as the front of my kayak slide softly across the top of them. It was like a move, the shot the director wants when the heroine finally reaches home from the deserted island where she almost died. My trip was nothing like that movie, but I got the ending anyway.

I wanted to just crawl onto the beach, maybe roll myself into the cool water and then just lay/float there!

There isnít tons to tell about the rest of our trip. We unpacked our kayak, had a light lunch, went to our hotel to relax for a while. Later we took our guides out to dinner to thank them, wandered around La Paz a little bit and then went to bed exhausted before our flight out the next morning.

I have to say, though the rediscovery of ďcoldĒ is an amazing thing. Its hard to explain since cold isnít really a item or a taste or anything real. It is however a sense of some type. We were camping for 4 days and 3 nights and while not a horribly long time, we had no access to ice, nothing to keep a cooler of foods cold. You donít really notice the loss. There is always liquid water or juice or whatever that is cooler than your body temp, and you are refreshed and fine. But when you return to civilization and you are handed really cold bug juice, I swear its like you being handed the exquisite wine or some other full bodied and flavorful drink. Its not that the bug juice has gained any other flavor, or been treated in some way that gives it more flavor, its that cold takes on a dimension on its own and you just canít get enough of it.

Oh the rediscovery of cold.. mmmÖ makes laying in a hammock (in CLEAN cloths after a shower) sipping your pina colada just so so much better!

Good trip! Oh so pretty, lots of experiences, ups and downs, a few bug bites to take home as souvenirs (actually over a couple hundred that itched for over a week, but what can you do), good friends and a great time. What more can one ask for?

THE END

This is the last photo album in this series, donít miss it !!

09:19 AM | Comments (0)
November 16, 2004
Adventures In Baja Part II
Photography , Travel , Water

October 14

Up with the sun on a beautiful beach and ready for breakfast and our first day of kayaking. I need to explain a little something though before I go any further with the general story. These islands in Baja are part of a national reserve, and as you saw in the last photos the terrain is very much a dessert and therefore slow to decompose. Plus would you really want to camp somewhere near where someone had taken a dump behind a bush and it had spent a day or two baking in the sun. Ewwww!!

So there are potty rules on this trip. First off, liquid release is done into the water. When I needed to go during the day I would refer to it as ďgoing to the little girls oceanĒ. Guys (or girls who have their own special penis of plastic tube and funnel sold in camping stores just for those times when a girl is camping with only guys and the ocean doesnít seem as inviting after dark) can stand at the edge of the water and release. However for other needs our guides brought along our friend Paco. Paco is a very small portable toilet that we would hide behind a bush and then take with us to each camp site. I bring up these things because well, I think everyone should know about the little girls ocean and Paco, we ended up talking about Paco enough so you should hear about it, and well he comes up again later in the story so Iím giving you a basis for later.

So we are up, we had a yummy breakfast and then we got our butts into the kayaks and we were off. We had about a 6 mile kayak to do to our next camping spot that day, and it was beautiful. There were lots of bays along the coast, and we would mostly cut across the mouth of them, staying close to the cliffs quite often. We saw many kinds of birds, pelicans, blue herons, turkey vultures, and yes blue footed boobies!

The first day of kayaking you could really feel the burn in your arms. I have noticed there are two kinds burn, there are the ones where you are really into it and using that burn to mentally motivate, and there is the evil burn when its really not happy and you canít do anything but hate the world. We will get to the evil burn later, this was good the kind of burn. It hurt and it was fun.

About half way to our destination, out on the open sea we made a pit stop, and yes I mean that just as it sounds. It was Paco cleaning time. Kevin and I, were using the double kayak which had the perfect little paco storage cabin right in the middle of it. It became daily routine to pull over and help (only a little bit) the guides remove Paco for his ocean bath; and then wait as they went away with Paco to clean him up. It was an odd and slightly disgusting ritual and something that we wonít forget.

We landed at our second campsite just a little before lunch. This beach was more beautiful than the last. The sands where whiter and brightened the turquoise waters. There was a rock that jutted out and a little cave to the side of the beach that just accentuated the beauty. Beauty can be deceiving and my mild jellyfish sting while having a soak in the bathwater we call ocean should maybe have been a warning for events to come; but we didnít notice. Oh well.

The afternoon consisted of cribbage and a nice lunch. After a bit more relaxing we prepared to go snorkeling on at the reef on the far side of the bay. Now the first half of snorkeling sucked. I had been having some mask problems the first day. I kept seeping water, and since I was a new snokeler they figured I didnít have it tight enough so I kept being told to tighten my mask, and not to worry if it hurt a little, it would go away and it was better than getting water in. Well there was a ridge across the nose of my mask and I had tightened it so much the day before that it was now digging into my nose and really hurt. Now the problems begin, It took Kevin and I a little longer to get ready and so our guide had already headed out with Steve and Carl, not normally a problem, but as tight as it was my mask was still taking in water and I would have to stop about every 90 seconds to open it. This made catching up to them nearly impossible. It was not a fun snorkel out. When we did get there, they were all ready to head back in and we had barely snorkeled, so our guide switched masks with me (still not really believing me about the mask I donít think) and they all headed back (after heading back in using my mask he finally believed me how bad it was).

I felt a bit gypped on my snorkeling experience so Kevin and I decided to stay out as long as we could. We had fun! There were several schools of ever-elusive tuna, which Kevin never saw. I would see them and tap him and point and they would be gone. But we saw lots of lovely fish, the sun began to set and they were harder to see and photograph and then I saw two, which scared me right out of the water. We were slowly heading back at this point, taking our time and enjoying ourselves. I noticed a pretty starfish and then I noticed something very near it move. It was kind of a little twitch. I tapped Kevin and pointed to show him there was something there. As he was just looking for the something I followed with my eyes from the place where the twitch had been to see the rest of it. It was brown and it widened out into something that looked kind of like a rockÖ a rock with eyes, I noticedÖthat could only mean A ROCKFISH or scorpion fishÖ only the most poisonous fish in the Baja watersÖ before Kevin could even find the thing I was making wild gestures of ďIts really time to leave this spot, swim SWIMĒ.

Away from there and above water I explained what I had saw and Kevin wished he had seen it, though we were both glad to be away. So heading in a little quicker but still trying to enjoy the swim I noticed something else, something long, thin and spotted and it looked an awful lot like a snake to me. That was itÖ I am really not a fan of snakes or anything snake like them. That was it for me, I wanted out of the water.

Back at camp we told everyone what we saw. Our guide had also seen a rockfish while out and believed that one, but everyone thought my snake thing was a sea cucumber. There is a trend of no one believing me. There is also a trend of my being right, but that wonít be discovered till tomorrow. However I do have to say, sunset in a reef is when you will see the meaner fish. Beware!

We make it back to camp just in time for dinner, which is very yummy! (how do I remember? All the food was very yummy). But now is when the beautiful beach began to bear its ugly fangs. When we got back we were warned that a small bug called ďno-see-emsĒ seemed to coming out. Bug spray and such would be good, but they didnít seem to be two bad, it was just a little sting and not often. Little did we know how many of these little pests would come out and we all took cover in our tents immediately after dinner. Getting ready for bed we made the mistake of putting something outside and letting a few more of the bugs in the tent. We played some cribbage inside and then as Kevin and I were getting ready to go to bed the bugs began a full-scale attack on us. They are small and fast and you donít really see them until they are full of your blood and slow and you can smear them on the inside of the tent. It was a losing battle from the start and eventually we gave up and settled down for a bitten restless sleep.

The next part of this story is hard to really convey. To begin with you know its me telling you the story so nothing really bad must have happened since Iím still hear telling the damn thing. I really donít know how to convey the fear we really felt. I guess I need to ask you to pretend someone else is telling this part of the story. *shrug* I know that wonít work but I have to try.

Just a little before midnight (having only gone to sleep maybe 2 hours ago) Kevin and I both sat straight up in bed at the exact same time. A noise had woken us. The loud noise of a motorboat at full power heading pretty much right for us. We both looked out the front window of our tent but there was nothing! It had been just past a new moon earlier and that had set long ago, so there was no natural light on our deserted island as we seven had slept soundly on the beach, alone.

Peering out the front of the tent we were spooked, we saw nothing, but we totally heard something, and it was still coming straight towards us. Frozen in place staring out there we waited. The boat, nearly on top of us, slowed its engine almost to a stop basically right at the beach just to the left of us. A flashlight turns on, scans the beach and then turns off. At this point we terrified. I mean think about it: alone on a beach in mexico a dark motorboat comes into the beach all stealthy like, and then scans the beach with a flashlight. Imaginations run wild!!

The flashlight off, the motor turns on again and moves just a little bit away from us, at which time the flashlight goes on and off again and then, SPLASH, something or someone goes into the water. At this point we decide we need someone else to wake up. Kevinís cousin Steve is in the next tent over, so in our softest yell-like stage whisper or something we call out to Steve, he wakes up in a start and proceeds to fall right back into snores. Calling out again, still terrified to be too loud, we manage to wake up Steve and one of our guides in training. The boat as luckily continued to move away, but there was still that splash, and we arenít sure what to think. Steve and our guide take a look out at the beach and the boat and return to their tents with a ďItís okayĒ and ďIíve seen them beforeĒ respectively, then they are both in their tents and have left us to our imaginations without ever coming over to hear what else happened prior to their wake up.

We arenít quite ready to throw in the towel on our fear yet, but thinks might be looking better since the boat and flashlight have finally decided to leave, the wind has ominously picked up and the waves from the wake have taken a quite beach to a very loud and angry beach. Kevin suggests we wait a little while for the wake to settle down, so maybe we can hear again if there is still a who or what in the water and then maybe finally give up and try to sleep. So we wait and we waitÖand we wait. At this point we figure out that the waves are not the wake from the boat at all, but a ill timed tide and wind change making our lives that much more sleepless. I should point out that during all of this we refuse to go out in night to check the water ourselves, why? Thatís easyÖ TOO MANY BUGS!! Shows how much we value our lives. *grin* In any case exhaustion finally won out and we both gave up on watching for snipers or whatever our imaginations can come put with that might attack us from dark, and we laid down for a restless few hours of sleep.

October 15

The next morning, after our main guide told us to stay in our tent until the sun came up over the cliff and made the evil little ďno-see-emsĒ go away (you could see them crawling all over your tent just waiting for their chance at our blood) our guide also informed up that our midnight visitors were actually fishermen. What were they doing in a motorboat in the dark? Well thatís simple, itís a nature reserve and netting fish is illegal. Our midnight pirates were poaching fish that splash was the net that then dragged along the reef we had just snorkeled. Yes we are still alive, yes they were never after us, yes they were still sneaky and do illegal things, and yes it was still damn SCARY!!

Sun up we ventured out of our tent for breakfast. A few bugs still not ready to give up had breakfast on us, but eventually the sun was up and they were gone, we were fed and we set off on a hike. We walked out behind Paco and up a cliff to a cave where one of our guides who was also a archeologist told us about the history of the people hear and showed us cave paintings and shells used for eating. Pretty views along with the history and a surprise visit from a Hummy and we were happy campers. Back down on the beach, packed up and into our kayaks we were off for the day!

One more post and photo album will be coming soon!!!
Make sure you donít miss all the pictures from this set

11:34 AM | Comments (0)
November 11, 2004
Adventures In Baja Part I
Photography , Travel , Water

October 12:
Actually we left the bay area on the 11th. We had decided to drive down to LA so that we could bring some of Kevin's fathers things back with us from the storage space. We had planned this nice daytime drive down to LA, but in true Rachel & Kevin fashion we had to finish up some last minute errands and didn't even leave until around 5. The drive was mostly uneventful; though some construction traffic caused us to take a detour, which was very rural and slow. However if anyone needs an extra toilet, I know a roadside where you might still find one. We arrived at Kevin's mother's house late, relaxed with her for a while and then went straight to bed.

The actual October 12th included a few more errands, some time in the storage space and then rushing off to the airport. You know how when you are packing for a trip, there is always something that you forgot, well during out drive to the airport we realized what we forgot. Our plane tickets!!

We have gotten so used to e-Tickets that while packing it didn't occur to us that, yes we had received a paper ticket in the mail and it was because Aero California doesn't do e-Tickets at all. We argued at the counter with the people for a while. They could see us in their computer, see how much we had paid and every detail, but they still refused to reprint the tickets we had already purchased. It was infuriating. We eventually filled out
a lost ticket form, bought new tickets and are now still waiting for the first tickets to be reimbursed. *sighs*

So finally the group is together. This is a small trip, Kevin, His cousin Steve, Steve's friend Carl and me, the one and only girl on the trip. It felt good. I have a tendency to have more male friends than female friends, however since moving to the Bay area that hasn't been as true. I miss the guys in my life. I mean I still have the friends I've had for years and who are very important to me, but they are scattered in the USA. It was nice to be around all guys.

Waiting for the plane to arrive, we noticed something odd was happening outside. A good dozen fire trucks, police cars, and emergency vehicles appeared and spread out near the runway. We all sat and watched out the window as a plane (presumably a cargo plane), came in for a landing completely missing its front hatch door. Our guess is that it wasnít closed tight enough on take off and got blown right off. Really makes you want to fly. But off we went on a couple of short jumps, a detour through customs and then off to our beautiful hotel in La Paz Mexico.

I do mean beautiful hotel. I'm trying to remember the name, but I'll look it up and post it later. It was a tropical paradise and apart from one invader roach, we were pretty dang happy. Absent a guide to check in with us that night, we still enjoyed a good meal and then tried to hit the sack early.

October 13:
We were up early and eating breakfast when our guide found us. We repacked and off we went to get our kayaks, some snorkel gear and drive down to the tip of the peninsula to load up the motorboat and get on our way. Off the Baja peninsula there are a couple of islands, and that was our destination. The plan was to go all the way out to the farthest tip, enjoy our day, and then come back in a little bit to set up our first camp. And for the next few days, we would spend our time Kayaking back toward the mainland.

Our first stop was the small white capped rock is the home to many sea lions. We found a spot and dropped anchor. Changed into wetsuits (not to stay warm, the water was like bath water, the wet suits were to protect against jellyfish stings) and went snorkeling and swimming with the sea lions.

You can't go too close to the rock. The bull sea lion actually will swim a line about 9 feet out from the rock which we visitors are not allowed to cross. However if you try and swim like them, the sea lions will come to you to play. My one complaint about this day was the fact that the snorkel mask I was using was defective. Our guide later discovered it was really very bad, but as I told people I was having problems on this day, I just kept being told to do something different and that it was because I was new to snorkeling. It was hard to totally enjoy it when you had to empty your mask every two minutes or so, but it was still an amazing experience.

One sea lion took to me. I've named her Lola, and I love her. She really liked me for some reason and kept swimming around me and tagging my flipper. If she hadn't been so quick I could have reached out and touched her or even hugged her. She was cool. Kevin, having an easier time with his gear and more experience, got some great shots with our new underwater camera. I do have to say that I love the new Reefmaster 310. I already have plans for ways to get better pictures with it on our next trip. But I'm pretty happy with what we captured this time.

Back on the boat we took off to find a place to set up camp and eat some lunch. The first place we stopped had already been taken over by other campers. Really wanting a deserted island campsite to ourselves, we moved on and found a new beautiful beach to call home for the night. Finally on ground (it felt good), we unloaded the motorboat into our kayaks and walked our stuff to the beach. Unloading some of our stuff, our three guides (one guide and two trainee guides) set about making us lunch while we relaxed. I have to say these beaches were beautiful. Warm white sands, turquoise waters beautiful sky, it was picture perfect.

We rested most of the rest of this day. We did do a basic kayaking class. We watched a beautiful sunset complete with many pelican, stalked a blue heron set up our camp, and ate a lovely dinner while watching an invader attempt to get to our food. And then we hit the hay... or um.. sand... early so that we would be fresh for our first day of kayaking the next morning.

More Baja to come...
PS: there are more photos in that album than just the ones I liked too. Check them out.

12:16 PM | Comments (0)
The Great Wide Baja
Photography , Travel , Water

Anything you want to tell me feel free!!

12:14 PM | Comments (0)
October 18, 2004
Home Again Home Again Jiggity Jig
Travel , Water

Sorry about the dead blog! We just got back from kayaking, camping, snorkeling, etc in La Paz Mexico.

There is much story to tell, and many pictures to show (once I get to look at them!). There is much to come... SO MUCH!!! WA HA HA...

Sorry, had a little Zim in me

12:16 AM | Comments (0)
September 10, 2004
Weekend Getaway
Friends , Travel , Water , food & wine

So I started writing this earlier this week, but Safari crashed and erased it all. So I will now try again!

Labor day weekend was a wonderful wonderful weekend! Kevin and I took off around 8pm and headed down to his Uncle's house in Carmel. We took our time, stopped for some great pizza in Los Gatos and talked and talked all the way. We talked about a house we looked at that we really loved. We talked about halloween costumes, we just talked and enjoyed the drive and each others company.

Not long after settling in to the house in Carmel Ali and Mark arrived. We chatted we set up and we all went to bed ready for the start of a great weekend.

Saturday was great. We started with a walk into town for some brunch do a little shopping, to check out the houses and take some pictures. On the way back we decided we needed to go to the beach. Changed and prepared we walked to the beach for a great afternoon of hanging out, beach stone hunting and exploring. The water was too cold for any real water play or getting very wet. I did succeed in numbing my feet however.

Home again we played some games and power-napped before getting ready for a very special dinner. All dressed up with somewhere to go we all took off for Marinus at Bernardus. Wow was that a wonderful dinner, we took four hours, had 5 courses, a lot of wine, great friends, a great staff.. oh it was wonderful. A little giddy by the end and the last people there at about 1am or so we played around and switched tables on the waiter while he was charging the credit cards. He was such a good sport and really seemed to like us.

That night, after a quick and giddy stop at Safeway for lots of water and a game of Simpsons Clue, we just passed out!!

Sunday was another success. We drove to Monterey to check out the The Monterey Bay Aquarium. I took LOTS of pictures, and they will be coming soon. What an amazing place, it was so very cool.

Down the the wharf for some great bread-bowl new england clam chowder, calamari, fish and marinated artichoke, we eventually headed home to play some more board games and plan our evening.

We figured out the tide schedule and made plans for an 11:30 walk at the beach during low tide for some tide-pooling. It was romantic, and fun. Ali and Mark did some serious exploring finding all sorts of star fish, sea anemones, crabs, barnacles and more of which Kevin and I followed them to photograph. We got to play with my super flash and also some real long exposure photography. It was a wonderful evening.

Ali and Mark headed back soon after coffee the next morning, but Kevin and I stayed and wandered the shops a little bit more. Did a little cheese tasting and then finished cleaning up at the house.

On the road again and having a great time we made a stop at an Artichoke farm/produce stand and loaded up on all sorts of Artichokey goodness.

Home, happy and relaxed from a weekend of good food, good friends, happiness and relaxation. Oh yes, it was a good good weekend.

02:15 PM | Comments (2)
September 02, 2004
I Have Returned!
Earth , Friends , Love , Travel

I got back late Tuesday night from spending a week in Florida helping out Rex. It was really good to be able to spend time with him again, in the 8 years of our friendship we are so rarely end up in the same state.

I'm glad to be home. I missed Kevin! I have missed my bed a lot this summer. I've missed my sanity at times. :)

The last few months (well the last year really) have thrown a few curve balls at Kevin and I. Not just at us, at a lot of people. I've decided that its done. Nothing else bad is allowed to happen for a while. I HAVE SPOKEN AND SO IT SHALL BE!! Or at least we are going to try for it.

It will take me a little while to rebuild my psyche, get my head and emotions back online. Kevin has been amazing, I can only hope I helped him as much.

Today Kevin and I went for a bike ride and I went to the gym for my yoga class. I'm feeling better already. My body is waking up again and it feels good. Tomorrow morning I'm treating myself to a deep tissue massage. I Cant Wait!! Then to top it off we are going to get away for the labor day weekend. I really looking forward to getting away to relax. Ali and Mark are joining Kevin and I for a weekend in Carmel. Rest and relaxation, good friends, good food, and a pretty environment. Just what the doctor ordered!

02:27 PM | Comments (0)
August 04, 2004
Hospitals Hospitals Hospitals
Family , Friends , Health , Travel , Water

I'm about sick and tired of hospitals!

Kevin and I went to Vegas to visit my Mom and Dad this weekend. It was their first vacation in about 13 years and the first real one where they weren't dragging kids in tow and having to entertain them too. It was nice to be able to visit with them, also have entertainment around us, and also have the ability for them to be alone and for us to do a couple things on our own too. Overall it was just good to see them again since I hadn't seen them since Christmas.

I could have done without the trip to health center clinic though (very much like an emergency room). We got there Sunday afternoon, and by sunday evening I had a cramps in my upper abdomen, just below my ribcage, just left of the center of my torso. I ignored it, it was a dull pain and it would go away. But it didn't go away, and by 2pm the next day it was getting worse. A stronger constant pain which became sharp pains whenever I took a deep breath. I tried laying down for a while, laying on my back made the pain go almost completely away. I rolled onto my front so I could maybe sleep and found myself in horrible horrible pain.

At this point Kevin called his cousin Steve who is a doctor. I really hope he doesn't mind us bugging him. Its nice to know there is someone to talk to and get advice about whether something needs to be checked out right away or if it can wait.

Steve asked me lots of questions and in the end decided he that without examining me he couldn't figure out anything further. He didn't think it was a super emergency, but he didn't think it was nothing and wanted me checked out by someone. So we tried to find the hotel doctor, or which the Paris hotel did not have. However just behind the next-door hotel was a 24 hour health clinic. Kind of that step in between the hotel doctor and going to the ER. I was hoping that it might not take as long as a ER would, but either way it would have to do.

Sadly we were there for about three hours, 4pm till 7pm. They poked and prodded me eventually finding the spot that brought me to involuntary tears when she poked. She was pretty sure it was my stomach but mixed up this cocktail I had to drink, which would numb my stomach and she would be able to be sure that was the area of the problem. That cocktail was weird, my tongue got numb, my tonsils got numb, my throat, down the pipes and to my stomach which go very numb. When she came to poke me again it didn't hurt anymore.

My stomach already has digestion problems that we are trying to figure out, but it now has more. I have a new medicine that is supposed to help make the acids my stomach needs to break things down. That might help. There could be something wrong in the lining of my stomach. We aren't sure, Steve was happy with the immediate progress but I need to follow up with my home doctor now to figure out the rest of the specifics.

For the rest of the day my tummy was still numb. I would take a deep breath and brace for the pain and there would be none. I was a void of pain where I knew it should be and that was weird. The next day there wasn't as much numb as just the fact that I could feel that my stomach wasn't completely happy, but also not in pain. Hopefully things will get better, but it all at least allowed me to relax and have a bit more fun with my family and Kevin.

I'm back now, and I'm only holding off making my doctors appointment to find out when I might be going to florida. You see, like I said at the beginning I'm tired of hospitals and the need for them. When I arrived home last night at about 11pm, there as a voicemail from DanaMarie telling me that Rex, one of my dearest best friends, was in the hospital. He had been in a car accident, broke both his legs and his ankle and apparently there is a longer list of injuries. He has been in surgery once and is going in again soon.

I have his phone number for his hospital room, but its been busy. So I'm writing all this down. I'm anxious to find out what happened. I really want to go be with him. I know I've barely been home for the last two months and that I have lots to do here, but most of it can all wait. My friend is in the hospital, and if he wants me, I feel a strong desire to be there, at least for a day or two.

*sighs* I'm tired of hospitals.

10:43 AM | Comments (1)
July 22, 2004
Dream-like Days
Photography , Travel

Anything you want to tell me feel free!!

05:21 PM | Comments (0)
July 09, 2004
Back In My Own Bed
Family , Life , Travel , Water

We have returned!

I am so happy to be home. I slept soundly all night last night for the first time in weeks. Between changing beds every few days and stress and worry it no wonder neither Kevin nor I has slept well. I have gotten into the habit of whenever I toss and turn between 6am and 8am that I just get up. For some of you thats not early, but I'm not a morning person. This morning however I didn't get out of bed till 11!! I'm still tired, but I feel like I have actually gotten some rest. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

So what has been going on in the last week? Well here it is:

We had planned 5 day trip with 17 members of the Fox family to Kevin's Uncle Alan's house on Brown Island (Brown Island is a small island in the bay of Friday Harbor, in San Juan island off the coast of Seattle Washington). With everything going on this was a trip and a chance for a break, rest and relaxation that Kevin, Carolyn, Susie and I really needed and yet it was very hard to make the decision to go and when to go.

Go on time, leave early, go late, many plots and plans were made. Grandma Kitty was finally put on a morphine drip and went into a coma. We decided to go ahead and keep in close touch with those at home. We left on the morning of July 2nd, as we sat down for lunch Carolyn received the phone call that Grandma Kitty had passed. We were able to stay on the island since the holiday weekend postponed the funeral until July 8th.

The island was wonderful, many many pictures will be going up. Two albums from the fourth of July parade are already up; the fireworks are following in a day or so.

While on the island we went on walks, stalked deer, dragonflies and butterflies, shopped, cooked, ate, read, laid around, got on the boat, grounded the boat, visited a lavender farm and a sculpture garden, shopped, cooked, ate, read, laid around, saw the fireworks and the parade. Really just relaxed and spent time with the Fox family.

We celebrated Kevin's birthday with homemade eggs benedict in bed, which is his family's tradition, made by his mother, sister and I. We rode a scootercar, and did 4th of July things. Being away we were able to escape some of the outside issues and enjoy his birthday somewhat. I still plan to have some kind party for him sometime in the future, but I'm happy to say that in the midst of a lot of saddness and loss, a few moments of happiness were possible.

We changed our return flight and flew down to LA on Wendesday with everyone else so that we would be there for the visiting hours that evening the funeral a 1pm on Thursday.

The service was beautiful. A professional singer friend of Carolyn's sang during the service, Kevin and I made a photographic slide show set to music performed by his cousin Janice and Carolyn's Sweet Adeline group sang at the grave site as well. It was a celebration of her life with music and photographs and many friends and family around.

Kevin's Aunt Joanne remarked afterward that there weren't a lot of tears. I don't mean there were none, it just wasn't a mass of people crying. I think that most of us had already said goodbye to Grandma Kitty, she had been leaving us for a while and towards the end she wasn't really there anymore. The service was a beautiful tribute to her life, but I know I had already cried most of my tears, there weren't many left in me. I don't mean to make it sound unfeeling or uncaring, I think its just that when a death is long and drawn out the funeral is almost as much a relief that things are over as they are a celebration and closing of a beautiful life.

Anyway, I'm looking forward getting back to normal life, and sleep with many less worries. I know that the memory of Grandma Kitty will live on in the minds and hearts of many.

03:42 PM | Comments (4)
July 05, 2004
Some Rest and Relaxation
Life , Travel , Water

So here is a update on my life:

Grandma Kitty passed away the morning of July 2nd. We are currently in Brown Island (as has been planned for months) and will be returning to LA directly from here on Wednesday. The funeral will take place Thursday morning and we will return to our home Thursday evening. Please send your love and wishes to Kevin and Carolyn and the rest of the family Thursday morning. Just a moment of thought or a special hug for your own Grandmother will do.

In other news, we are having a lovely and relaxing time in Brown Island. Where is Brown Island do you say? Well, Brown Island (also known as Friday Island) is a tiny residential island (only about 40 houses) located in Friday Harbor just off San Juan Island near the coast of Seattle Washington. Does that answer your question?

We are hear on a woodsy island near a nice small town just relaxing and enjoying life for a little while with about 15 other members of the Fox family. I am currently sitting on a very cozy couch in a wonderful sitting room which is open into what is incredibly close to my ideal kitchen. This HUGE beautiful kitchen has been my playground for the past few days while I got to make basically whatever I wanted for an adoring family who just loved that I was cooking. Unfortunately I didn't come prepared for this so it was a lot of off the top of my head while I walked through the market meals. But next time I will be prepared.

In addition to cooking I have taken a couple nature walks on the island, stalked a deer, putted along on a scooter car, attended the towns 4th of July parade (nice and small and reminded me of home), enjoyed a wonderful fireworks display sitting only about 300 feet from the barge that set them off: it was amazing, celebrated Kevin's birthday, did some shopping, jutted around on the boat and did a lot of nothing!!!!! This is a wonderful wonderful place.

I have pictures to last me for weeks and so you will begin seeing new albums coming in quickly I hope. The first may be today or tomorrow!

The only downside to this trip so far is that the spiders are still stalking me. The spiders we are finding at home have been getting bigger and bigger, but that have yet compared to the one I found in our bathtub this morning. Gak!!

Anyway, I hope you have all been having a lovely 4th weekend, more to come soon.

05:07 PM | Comments (6)
June 23, 2004
I missed you!
Earth , Health , Travel

Sorry about the lack of posting. If you read Kevin's blog you will now know that we have been in LA spending time with his grandmother in the Hospital. She has been through quite a lot but is slowly getting better.

We aren't out of the woods yet, but things are looking up. We are keeping our fingers crossed and going back down there Sunday morning for a couple more days.

08:47 PM | Comments (0)
June 04, 2004
Momma Needs a Brand New Flash...
Fire , Night Life , Travel

So I got back from Los Vegas on Monday. Kevin and I had a great time with his mother and sister (Susie). We took a fabulous hike in Red Rock National Park (I'm planning the Valley of Fire for next trip - it was a hard choice).

We ate a few wonderful meals, saw Penn & Teller, visited The Venetian, Ceasar's Palace, Bellagio and Treasure Island. But it was always home to the Mirage for some late night black jack.

I left Vegas up about $300. That was enough to buy my new Nikon SB-800 flash!!! I can't wait till it comes... I'm giddy!

The weekend was wonderful, but its always nice to be home.

Pictures to follow!

12:24 AM | Comments (1)
May 28, 2004
Vegas Baby
Fire , Travel

Hey all! I'm going to Vegas. There are comments I am still planning to respond to, but I will do that when I get back.

I'm sure I'll have lots of desert and lights pictures!!!!

07:04 PM | Comments (0)