Monday, May 23, 2016

all aboard

Ahoy,

First week back from the cruise. Hello, reality. I don't really remember the other 2 cruises we went on when I was a kid. I remember them being fun. And the pools were filled with salt water, like it came straight from the ocean. I had a great time this time around, and I hope my companions did as well. I was mainly the cruise director for my group of 8. We booked this adventure way back in October. I was scrambling to find people to join in on this deal I found. And then reeling from the aftermath of committing a group of 8, pretty much under my jurisdiction for a vacation. Oh, boy.

There was a lot of convenient eating. So now we are back to cooking our own food and cleaning our own dishes. And not having access to ice cream mostly around the clock. What a drag. Leaving this time with my family also tears me up a little. My dad was so happy to hang out and play with us. He's spent our whole lives working. And now that he's essentially retired, I'm more than halfway across the country. I've never really spent so much time with him. Every time my grandma sees me she asks me to go back home. I just feel bad about being so far away from them. I really want to know my dad better. And I really want my mom to detach from her phone.

I think it was a good time for us. My mom had been looking forward to a family vacation for a while. It was a lot of time spent with all my favorite people. I am truly so happy they all graced me with their presence and agreed to go on this expedition with me. In many ways, I hope I wasn't dragging anyone along. As the cruise director, sometimes it does feel like I'm dragging someone along. Challenge by choice. It's usually just the RRS I'm dragging along, but this time it was 7 whole humans. What a blessing to have 7 mostly willing participants.

generally ashore,
jt

Thursday, May 12, 2016

cars, of course

Ahoy,

I made us reservations to go to the Nethercutt Collection sometime in March. It's somebody's private collection of old cars and other stuffs. It's open to the public and free! The family has over 100 old, vintage cars that are all restored and in working order. They regularly drive them to car shows and win awards still. Isn't that cool? They have all the staff and crew to restore a car in house except for the glass, and 2 other things. Isn't that cool? There is a big building with a bunch of cars and then another building with stuff besides cars, and also cars. The second building requires a reservation to go on the tour. But it's totally worth it, and I highly recommend you do it. 

The second building has a lot of musical pieces. There are a lot of self playing instruments and recorders. There is a piano that recorded Gerschwinn playing Rhapsody in Blue; so it plays on its own a reenactment of the composer playing his famous piece! There is a machine that has 3 violins playing on their own. There is an entire floor of orchestrions. These large boxes that contain all the pieces of a whole orchestra inside as they play themselves. Orchestrions were much more popular in Europe during WWII, and so a lot of the machines they acquired are German made. But in the States, we had silent movies set to the sounds of organs.  

The 3rd largest organ in the world lives here. The tour guide is the curator and musician that plays and maintains all the instruments. He was very enthusiastic about his job. The largest pipe could contain 3 grown men standing inside. Some of the pipes we could see, but a lot of them lived behind curtains in the wall. The guide says sometimes the building just shakes when he plays certain songs. He played a Phantom of the Opera piece for us. 


All in all, a pretty cool outing. None of us were expecting such a stellar end to the tour. It was a pleasant surprise. You should go and check it out yourself. If you're not a huge fan of cars, definitely take the tour.

resoundingly alarmed,
jt

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

asian fit glasses?

Ahoy,

Warby Parker has a new section at their Abbott Kinney location for low bridge fit! This is me alerting the internet universe (mostly to Asians) that you might find something more comfortable at the low bridge fit section at the Abbott Kinney Warby Parker storefront. I tried some TC Chartons, but they are just so much more expensive, and then they charge for the type of lenses, etc.

I tried googling this subject in my hunt for asian fit glasses, and did not come up with much. Maybe this will show up in somebody elses's search. Good luck low bridge noses of the world!

publicly announced,
jt

Thursday, May 5, 2016

he has the immune system of a 2 year old

Ahoy,

We had plans to go to Pinnacles National Park over the weekend. It was a long (year) postponed trip with the RRS's family to celebrate his graduation. And, of course, he gets sick. We left Friday morning and arrived in the afternoon to a less than spectacular, perhaps underwhelming entrance into the park. But I was super excited to see the park and all its great features. We went for a short walk and saw a non-venomous snake that made A jump out of his shorts. Such fortitude in his spirit. We made dinner and A became much more ill. He slept in the car for a while. I went with his parents to hear a snakes talk by a ranger who didn't sound the most thrilled. But making powerpoint presentations thrilling is pretty hard.

In the morning, we decided (I agreed reluctantly) to leave early. I feel like he is always getting sick on vacation. The story of my life: we went to xyz, but then he got sick... This blog will become a record of all the times he gets sick. Somebody was describing to me how their 2 year old gets sick every month. That is as frequently as the RRS gets sick. He has the immune system of a 2 year old. We went on 1 hike and had a nice picnic lunch in the shade before heading out. I was really looking forward to being outside and getting at it this weekend, but sometimes I'm left with a 2 year old to tend to. A spice of life I would rather leave in the cupboard.

Fortunately I was still able to cancel and get a refund. It was super busy in the visitor center and I overheard the ranger turning this couple away because the campsites were all full and there was a waiting list. So how lucky for us, I offered them our campsite and they were super, duper stoked!

Pinnacles is the newest national park. It was once a monument. I asked the ranger why it changed, and he said it's the same amount of funding but more visitors, so it's actually not advantageous. And then our shuttle rolled up and I couldn't pepper him with more questions. True story, there is a pool right next to the visitor center. There used to be 2 other campsites but they got washed out by floods and were never fixed because probably wanted to let the ecosystem do its thing. The more scenic parts are on the west side, but the camp site is on the east side and you can only go to the other side through hikes or a 2 hour drive. We didn't quite get to the cool stuff, so we'll have to go back. They probably won't connect the sides with a road because it would probably disrupt the ecosystem too much, according to Paul Mondragon, another ranger I bugged about stuff. He is a descendant of the natives that used to live in Pinnacles. Fascinating.

repeatedly replanned,
jt

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

beach party

Ahoy,

We made a trip down to the San Diego area for G's birthday. His parents had just finished their dream retirement beach house. It was gorgeous! Words cannot describe. So much thought and consideration went into the design and furnishings. It was a block from a small beach in Encinitas, and adjacent to a little beach town. We brought a green tea chiffon cake, making the total cakes 3. A cake for every meal! Let them all eat cake! There were other foods.

We beached, volleyballed, played games. It was such a fun weekend vacation. I hope we get invited back. I tried my best to be a good guest and not wreck their pretty house.

sandily misfired,
jt

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

month around town

Ahoy,

Our weekends of late have been pretty thoroughly domestic. We were supposed to go to Yosemite, but weather reports washed that out. Which has left us in town for several consecutive weekends. Gasp! For a while we were looking at no weekends at home. This has given us some time to:


  1. make a bed. We got wood from Home Depot. The check-out lady was hilariously incompetent, and I think that resulted in not charging us for several 2x4s. We came up with design and measurements and got all the wood cut at the store. We only got in 1 fight, and probably because we were hungry. I was really skeptical that we would finish the bed in a weekend, but it happened. So now we are raised off the ground some 30 odd inches, which gives us a lot more storage. This is the closest I'll get to a bunk bed as an adult now; I was pushing for that for a while. My goal was to make it awkwardly too tall for me to clamber onto bed. I just think it would be really funny to witness my struggle, in my head and for you. Also, one end of the bed rests on a drawer set from Ikea, which is probably the least sturdy component of our bed. All in all, good job, us! I honestly did not think it would happen as quickly as it did, but our landlord let us borrow his drill and that made a big difference. 
  2. meet A's folks for dinner and lunch in far flung locales of the LA area. We had dinner in Chinatown one night, and I have to be honest - there are a lot of restaurants I would choose before I choose that one. But I think they have a massive load of nostalgia for that eatery, so what can you do but grin and bear it? Always a fascinating night of interactions with his folks. The following day, on a whim, we made the trek to Disneyland (!?!) for lunch with them. We always make the wrong turn for downtown Disney and end up somewhere the employees enter. The RRS loves the beignets at the jazz place. This is not the first time we've made this trip just for beignets. 
  3. create organization/storage solutions. We hung up a hook for his longboard, hooks for our closet, and replaced shelves with a new bar in the closet to hang things. We now consider ourselves just beyond the level of newbies with a power drill and wood/hook combos. What a thrill. But really, this closet stuff has been on our to-do list for a while, and it's been nice to have some time to knock these out. 
  4. go on Sunday morning hikes. That first weekend, we left a little later and we quickly realized that everyone and their mom was also going on a hike. Luckily for us, someone left right next to where we were waiting in line (there was a line) for parking. So despite all the folks that were waiting ahead of us, we were at the right place at the right time. Bonus, that morning was overcast. The following weekend, we left a little earlier for a brisk 3 miles in the Palisades. It was sunny so I was glad to be out of there when we were. And the last great escape into the urban wilderness took us into Beverly Hills. After wandering around for a while, this place probably had the least obvious trails, we went for brunch at a place we had passed up before because the line was too long. It was delicious! 
That's our generally unexciting & domestic month pretty well summarized. But I must admit, storage is really quite thrilling. 

pleasantly acquainted,
jt

Thursday, April 14, 2016

finally

Ahoy,

We finally got some more white rice and I switched out our rice bear from the icky brown rice mix to pure, unadulterated white rice and it is simply, blissfully heaven! Brown rice is the worst.

bearingly grainy,
jt

Thursday, March 17, 2016

stay-cation

Ahoy!

Due to an unfortunate circumstance, our friends were situated in a hotel for a while and they got sick of it. They had vacated the premises but still had the hotel, so they offered us their room for the weekend. And it was a blast! It ended up being less than 2 miles away from us, but it was still so fun. We walked to get pizza & pasta the first night.

The next morning we left somewhat early for Snow Summit, much to my dismay. My 2nd time snowboarding was more frustrating than the 1st time. The conditions were icier and more slippery. I feel like I spent a lot of time going down the mountain just trying to slow down. Going downhill is terrifying. It will never be not terrifying. A had fun once I freed him to go off on his own. He would have wasted a lot more time waiting for me, the record holder for the slowest run down the slopes ever. My prize for participating was Chinese to go for dinner. We also made use of the pool/jacuzzi that was strangely located underground. The RRS and I had fun making up games to play in the large lukewarm jacuzzi.

We had a major sleeping in session the next morning in honor of daylight savings. We didn't leave the hotel until noon. It was such a pleasant morning laying around in bed watching tv and reading. After driving to our proposed brunch place, we kept on driving because we had never seen such a long line for anywhere ever. We found this cute little French cafe attached to a cute kitchen store. It was a great meal, and we left for the tar pits museum fully satiated. It is a tiny museum and totally inconspicuous. I had never noticed it before. It was thoroughly informative regarding fossils and getting stuck in tar. Fascinating stuff. Iranian new year was happening in the park that day. I had never heard of Iranian new year, but they had the full displays and goldfish mascots. Always interesting to learn about other cultures.

delightedly aloft,
jt

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

bay area birthdays

Ahoy,

We ventured up north for a weekend, really a day, of birthday celebrating. The RRS's birthday is in March, as are his sister's, dad, and brother. Despite the rain, he somehow convinced his family to go on a coast walk by the sutro baths. My dress got thoroughly soaked when it started raining sideways towards the end. It was a fun adventure to see the forest in the rain. It's always nice to see anything in the rain.

We waited 2 hours for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. I had never been inside that Macy's, the one where they have the Cheesecake Factory at the top. We spent some time wandering around the store and hanging out in the furniture department.

The next day we got on a megabus back down to LA. And it was so nice to be home.

swimmingly bubbly,
jt

Thursday, March 10, 2016

dia del museos

Ahoy,

Our seats from the Coffee Museum. It was lots of fun to sit above the street and observe the unknowing streetgoers. The cloud game was on point our whole trip. So many stellar postcard moments every time we looked up at the sky. The RRS found himself sunburnt for, apparently, the first time in his life. He was unfamiliar with the condition and process. I am not a sunburn newbie, and whined appropriately.




We spent this day at 4 museums, making pretty good use of a leisurely day. I was pretty proud of ourselves. The coffee museum was incredibly proud of their organic product. The RRS reported a good cappuccino, and the sandwich we had was surprisingly tasty. He was in love with their sauces for the basket of potatoes (think potato wedges). Peru is home of more than a thousand varieties of potato. They are a very proud agricultural economy. We went to 2 history/cultural museums to get some more context for Peru & Machu Picchu. The chocolate museum was our last stop of the day where A had his first chocolate covered orange peel. We tried to sign up for a truffle making class or a cooking class, but they had not enough attendees for either. Too bad, we ended up going to a class elsewhere that did not have a max participant requirement for the green light and we got a personal class!

slightly cultured,
jt