Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Moo You, Wisconsin!

I know why cows are happy in California! Wouldn't you rather be here roaming around on these green hills than stuck in the snow drifts in the dairy state?! And this all was actually only on a hiking trail that I had a chance to run last night when I got in. I can't imagine what an actual field that stupid people aren't walking through is like (well, if I were said people I'm not entirely sure I would want to go walking through said field?). It's absolutely gorgeous between San Francisco and San Jose.

Incidentally - Pat, if you're reading this - thank you and Randy for the treadmill! Usually this time of year I'd be trying to work myself back up to my speed and distance after a long winter of hit or miss running. Now - thanks the old treadmill in your basement, no problems clipping up the hill and ran for about 35 minutes without feeling the hand of death. So - thank you...

And thank those blissfully happy cows that shared the trail with me. PS - Wisconsin cows, Ill try to take a few of you with me next time I come this way - state break 2013!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Eat Your Hearts Out Donner Party -- Oops - Bad Title?

Funny thing.... between last week and this week, I'm travelling the Donner party trail....

Leaving from Illinois last week and going to Independance, MO - back to Illinois and then on to California this week.....

The only difference here is that, whereas it took the Donner Party almost a year to get to their destination - it took me a few hours and - sorry Donners, I even got bumped to first class on both trips.  AND, my hot, free meal did not consist of anything that resembled the two happy faces above - it was more chicken faced....  Ah, tasty chicken.

There may be snow over by Donner Pass, but its 75 degrees here in San Jose!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Surprising News!


I know -- I couldn't believe it myself when I realized that, I actually like the state of Nebraska.  I don't know whether I'm willing to up and move there, but I really admire the place and even slightly enjoy it. Its a very interesting and intriguing state!

In Omaha, they have giant black squirrels....  (they don't usually have a big nut like in this pict - and the acorns are not as big as this either...)

Okay, this only actually a big inflatable one, but they are known for black squirrels - apparently they have some massive amounts of them roaming the plains.

This is actually downtown Council Bluffs, as in Iowa..... Its the starting place of the Union Pacific Railway and they have a big museum there that I've been wanting to visit - maybe the next time I'm there.  Theres this cool restaurant downtown called Dixie Quicks that was on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives.  It was really really good food and great atmosphere.  I wanted to go back, but wasn't able to fit it in this time - next time maybe....

I also had to drive out to Kearney (pronounced Kar-knee) Nebraska as well.  Its about 3 hours from Omaha.  Straight shot.  70 miles an hour speed limit (sweet).  Flat plains that mimic Illinois but are actually more open and attractive like Colorado.  You drive and its fields that have this feeling of pioneers and early farms and settlers and every so often you pass these old worn out buildings just scattered along the side of the road every couple miles.  You can tell time and wind and weather have taken their toll, but they've had life, history and time roll in and out their doors.

On the way into Kearney, over the highway, they've erected a monument to - I suppose now it could be called, stupidity.  Its this "museum" about pioneers and the history of the west and such, however, someone forgot to do some marketing and they spent millions of dollars putting this thing together and now, about 15 years later, they're bankrupt.  It will be interesting to see what this thing looks like in another 15 years....

Here's a funky little tidbit....
Kearney, Nebraska is the migration, um, like landing place? for the Sandhill Crane.  I guess its a huge part of their tourism.  They have buses of people coming in and doing trips to observe the Sandhill Cranes.  They obviously have art galleries dedicated to the crane.  Its crazy!

See the white coating on top of the water -- all Sandhill cranes.  As I was driving in the water was covered with them and this was this crazy pulsating white ring cloud swerving around in the sky over the water.  All the fields along the way were littered with cranes.  It was pretty amazingly crazy!

Kearney is a pretty great "little" town sitting in the middle of nowhere.  The downtown has all these crazy cool shops and I bought my first pair of Toms at a shop near the hospital.  When I was trying to get to the bottom of what kind of people in Kearney were buying $175.00 throw pillows from the little shop called "The Shopping Tripp", my rep told me that beef cattle was really big in the area.  She told me that the wives of the beef cattle farmers always have to have their $275 pair of jeans with the bedazzle on their butts.  Apparently the cowboy is the big thing around the southern part of the state.  In fact - there is another guy that we had to meet up with for some pumps at a hospital that we're looking at - his company does pumping systems for all kinds of industries -- healthcare, food industry, laundry -- and one of their big customers is farming.  He was telling us that he was working with a big slaughterhouse in southwest Nebraska installing some chemical pumps in the slaughterhouse there.  He's worked with a few other slaughterhouses in the state as well.  So - when my rep and I had some time to drift through the downtown shops in the afternoon - I noticed the cowboy theme going on big time....

If you're having a party and are in search of a dish to put chips and salsa in -
BLAMO!  Howdy partner - care for some munchies before we head over to the barn to watch the steer being bled?

And then when we get done there we can mosey on back to the house for some fresh slabs of beef served up on plates that remind us what paid for that beef slab on the plate!

And, before you come on over for the hoedown - please make sure to stop by the local Cowboy Western Wear shop for some duds and studs!

Okay - off the ranch theme...  Isn't this cool?  An old theatre that a dentist took and kept pretty true to its form.  I loved it!   I'd totally go here!

I didn't get a pict of it, but the big gas station in Iowa is Kum and Go....
But cross the border and you'll be fueling at....

Yee-haw!  Its big N!  So - here's your how you can now justify reading this meaningless blog.....
The city of Lincoln, Nebraska is not only home of the University of Nebraska (CORNHUSKERS - GO!) but it is also the CAPITAL of the great state of Nebraska!  Now you've learned something, or been reminded of something if you're really smart already.

And I just had to pop this in because it made me stop and outright laugh.  Downtown Nebraska by my favored coffeeshop, the gym there proudly announces via the Christopher....

I think this says it best!

Oh - FYI - in closing -- I did get to go over to KS City for two nights and got to see niece Brittany.  Had fun and great food and got caught up.  But now I'm home and ready to finish enjoying my weekend!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Be Careful On That Ice!

I have a friend who has a knack for finding the trouble in life.... Her latest adventure was this past week on a sidewalk, on a pleasant afternoon walk, on a patch of ice.  She went down and her wrist went up -- and now -- it literally went up with a nice big break.

A friend of hers commented "I want to wrap you in bubble wrap, take you away from your family and keep you safely in my home".... Wish I could do the same - wish anyone can do that, but, I guess its not life so...

In the meantime, if you live in the midwest, be careful when you go out for a walk that you don't hit the ice!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thanks To Those ID Checkers!

I'm in Indianpolis this week.  Today ended earlier than it began.... left me with some free time later in the afternoon so I headed to Keystone Mall to grab some tea at Teavana.  I never make it downtown Chicago and have enough time to get my favorite "Precious White Peach Tea" so when I'm near a Teavana - I jump at the chance.

Anyways - hit Teavana and another store or two and then headed to Starbucks for coffee and some computer time to finish some work.

As I'm staying with the Indy cousins, Tammy and Don, I usually take them out to dinner in lieu of my room payment ;)  We were planning on meeting at The Cheesecake Factory which is right across from Starbucks so I planned to sit there to do some work for a while and then just go over and grab a table when they were headed over.

About 4 I landed at Starbucks, 4:15ish sat down with my coffee and about 4:45 headed over to Cheesecake Factory.  Got our table, had dinner and conversation, got the bill, went to reach for my wallet to pay....


I did that thing I usually do when I first look in my purse and can't find what I need (I do this a lot with my phone) - I literally drop my purse, close my eyes, push my panic down with my hands and say outloud "don't panic".  It usually works because then I calmly look back in the purse and find the missing object.

Tonight I did all the right stuff - I did it about 3 times, but every time I looked in the purse - it still came up sans le wallet.  EEEK!

I retraced my steps between Starbucks and Cheesecake (I had deposited all bags at car and then headed to Starbucks and paid for coffee so I know there was no other place it would be at).  Everyone was looking for it and couldn't find it and it suddenly started hitting me that it had indeed been stolen.  There was a brief moment where I had put all my things at the little table I was sitting at by the counter, purse on chair, but I know it was closed.  I had walked about 5 feet away to grab sugar at the coffee bar, facing my table, for a brief second or two I know I did turn my back to reach across for a napkin.  Theres no other answer I can offer.

I'm not panicked, I'm not frustrated or anything - I'm kind of like "whatever" --- but my thought is "this is just the biggest pain in the rear...."  Gotta get the drivers license again - just what I wanted a weekend at the DMV.  Had to call all my 1000 credit cards (not quite, but enough).  Have to get my AAA and all my frequent flier cards and such again.  Its just tedious and time consuming.  I did get every card called tonight and I think I'll be good to go again by next week when I leave for Omaha on Tuesday.  We'll see.

Incidentally - there were 3 charges on-line made with one of my cards, I'm not being held responsible for those.  All the others seemed fine - even the company card.

But I do have to say this -- I had purchased things from about 3 different stores in the mall there and every store asked to see my ID.  I have to say -- thank you!  Its one thing to look at my signature - I think someone could probably forge that pretty quick.  But, you can't forge my face -- well, I don't know that you'd want to :)  I just have to say thank you to all those vendors out there who, whether the back is signed or not, ask to check ID with credit cards.  You may have just saved me some disputes with credit card companies tonight......  Keep up the good work!

And I expect to be up and running again by next week.  Thank goodness I'm staying with family who can spot me the money to get gas to get home - its weird not having any moola.... I don't like it .... but I suppose its good for me to experience :)

Goodnight Indianpolis with your thieving teenager punks who I'm very angry at (this is a presumption of course) - Goodnight Chase Bank that won't give me any money without a picture ID, never mind the fact that everything including my picture ID was stolen - Goodnight Indianapolis Police department that filed my report and gave me a report number that I won't be able to use until Monday - Goodnight Omaha where I'm going next week and I'm trusting that the honest people of Nebraska would not take my wallet out of my purse but would in fact chase me down if I dropped a dollar out of my pocket --- I'm counting on you and your good cornfed people to renew my faith in my fellow-man.....

Goodnight faith ID checkers of America - keep doing your job well!....

Monday, March 11, 2013

Weekend in DC

As mentioned previously, a few of us headed up to good old Door County for the weekend to enjoy some of the snow before it flurries away.  It was actually a mediocre weekend for snow sports.  It had warmed up quite a bit but there was still quite a bit of snow.  However, it had been used frequently and often so the trails were well worn and not the best for actual snowshoeing.  I think skiing would have been good, but I was the only one with skis and so I never did use them even though I had packed them in the car.

Cal and I drove up on Friday later afternoon and we got up before the sun had set as I wanted to find the house we had rented before dark.

The house, The Gray Gull, was right on the water and I'm sure had a spectacular view in the summer.  It was an intriguing house to say the least - I don't think any of us really ever understood it.... I wasn't totally thrilled with it, but it was fairly cheap and it had a fireplace and a sauna that we could use.
 This was the balcony off the master bedroom - you can't tell but its looking out on the lake.

The lake from the house -- since its the bay side its the water between the top of Wisconsin and the Door County peninsula.  Since its not a huge portion of open water and we've had some cold weather, it has frozen over solid so you could look out and see ice fishermen all of the place...

Had to include this as we liked to spend time just looking at the pictures in the house and imaging who these brave people were who dared to leave their family pictures up all over the place to be ridiculed and mocked.....  You could understand how we could get some good mocking in on this one....

 Before the friends arrived, I drove over to the market to pick up some supplies and the sun was setting - I shot this from a boat launch in Egg Harbor - the picture doesn't do it justice as it was the most amazing pink color every and the sun dropped so rapidly that ever picture I took, I could literally see the sun setting...

The next day, we hit the North Port State Park way up at the tip of the DC and we snowshoed for a few hours.

The North Port park runs along the lake so we had some great views along the way.

Some of the lakefront was pretty amazing as there were still huge chunks of frozen lake at some spots and others it had broken up.  This section, we walk out quite a bit from the actual trail and I could never tell if we were walking on frozen lake or if it was some type of field.  All I know is that once we came by the lake, it was a pretty amazing view as you could tell where the frozen lake stopped an the unfrozen lake began.

Oh - and the stacking rock is something people do up in DC -- I've seen them all over.  They're kind of neat...

And whereas we would look at stacked rocks and say "why?", Calvin looks at them and says "why not...."

We stopped for dinner in Baileys Harbor (sorry - no Bailey was with us in the making of this trip...) And I had to end my meal with cherry pie... Which was actually pretty amazing.

The next morning, the friends had to leave to go to a meeting at their church (which, as they tried to leave, Kim's car slipped on the icy driveway and went into a snow bank and - all I can say is, thank goodness for AAA!  Its worth that nominal yearly fee to get an occasional tow and a discount on your hotel room!  Anyways - the friends had to take off and I needed to return some rental snowshoes from two of the girls so I had to drive up by Ellison Bay.  AND - I CANNOT come to Door County and not go to Al Johnson's!  It would be a felony, I'm pretty sure.

After breakfast, Cal and I started the drive home via the east side of the peninsula.  This is the side by open water as its the water between Wisconsin and Michigan and we all know how huge that water is.  The east side of the peninsula is definitely my favorite part.  Its the most amazing scenery.  Whereas the west side is where all the beaches are and you can just go out into the water, the east side is the cliffy side - I don't even know if they really have beaches on this side, although, you can climb down to the water.  This is also the side that has these little towns that are not as touristy and its way less busy on this side.

My favorite park on this side is Cave Point County Park.  I bumped into two guys on the trail and then when we had left, I ended up stopping for gas at the same gas station as them and we ended up talking. The one guy had been coming up since he was little and he said Cave Point has always been his favorite park so - I felt reassured in my belief that its the best park :)  Its kind of tucked away and you have to drive on a back road to get there and its even tucked away from the back road and the signs are small so, when you get there, theres hardly anyone ever there.  And the views are AMAZING!!!!!!

Cal and I had a great 2 mile hike on the trails.  It was kind of slushy and icy but I had my Wellingtons on and - well, Calvin had his dog feet on so we were good.  The only bad thing for me is, Cal has my spirit of adventure and he is SO intrigued by the water always that he wants to get close and just watch.  Unfortunately, its all cliffs at Cave Point so he was going to the edge and a lot of the edge was icy so I spent a lot of time a little freaked out that he was going to go head first into the drink.  We came out ok though, and I even got some good picts... 

And a sound sleep for the 4 hour drive home..... The whole weekend gave buddy a run for his money, although I would have liked a bit more :)  It was quite relaxing - and sometimes, one just has to relax!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Weekend Of Cherries And Cheese

So I've arrived in Door County. It's snowy and relatively silent compared to it's usual summer/fall hubbub. I'm sitting at Shipwrecked restaurant and microbrewery in downtown Egg Harbor waiting for some friends who are driving up. I decided to kick the weekend off with a glass of infamous Door County Cherry wine and I ordered a plate of cheese curds. Earlier I went over to the grocery store in town to pick up some groceries and I got a bag of dried cherries - they're sooooo good up here!

So - I'm looking forward to a weekend in the Door eating cherries and cheese and playing in the snow.