Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Unveiling

Well, it's not really an unveiling, since I've already posted pictures on my Facebook and a message board, but it's the official blog unveiling of Kendall's room!

All I'm really going to say about this is that it was a lot of hard work, I'm glad it's done with, and I couldn't have done it without Grant watching the baby for 3 days straight! He graciously sacrificed his 4th of July extended weekend so I could get this done.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Shake, Rattle & Roll

This morning, as I was watching Martha Stewart, there was an interruption to say that an earthquake had just happened in the LA area.

And I missed it! The first earthquake since we've moved to LA, and I missed it! I guess that's a good thing, but since this one wasn't that bad, I would've liked to have been there to feel it.

Anyways, I immediately called Melissa to see what it was like in our 'hood. You can read about her experience here.

I'm glad that everyone is okay, and that our house is in one piece!

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Trouble with Crawling

It gets you stuck in the weirdest places.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hotel Life

Things that suck about living in a hotel:

1. Taking the dog out to do his business is not an easy task. It requires getting the baby in the Bjorn; putting the leash on the dog; making sure you have a room key; running into random people in the hall that want to talk to you about either your dog, your baby, or both; wading through sprinklers to get to a semi-dry portion of the lawn.

This morning was exceptionally bad. Watley REALLY had to take care of some stuff outside. Well, Kendall was sleeping. But Watley REALLY needed to go, and I couldn't take his constant pacing anymore. So, I had to pick up Kendall, which woke her up (thank goodness she wakes up happy!), and let him outside. Then, the room key that I had decided not to work. So I had to go to the front desk in my PJ's to get a new key.

2. This is not an extended stay type of hotel. Thus, there is no mini-kitchen. We have a fridge. A small fridge. So, we're making lots of sandwiches and salads and things that don't need to be cooked.

One positive side of this - I've invented a really good non-cook thing to make. Stay tuned for that.

3. Limited space for a now-crawling baby.

Since the scooching video, Kendall is now able to take about 7 strides without plopping down on her belly. Maybe she could do more, but 7 strides gets her from one side of the room to another.

4. Housekeeping knocks on your door, waking a napping baby.

Which reminds me, I need to ask the front desk for a "Do Not Disturb" sign, since we apparently don't have one for our room.


It might not sound like it, but we think Kendall is either trying to say "Watley" or she's trying to sound like Watley when he barks. Either way, she's definitely making a sound and associating it with Watley. We think it's pretty cute.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Sorta Fairytale

On Sunday, we headed up the coast to Santa Maria, California. Grant's up here for a class he has to take, and Kendall, Watley, and I are just tagging along for the fun of it.

I've been wanting to go to this place called "Neptune's Net" in Malibu, but that's so far away from where we live, we haven't been able to yet. This trip gave us the perfect excuse! It wasn't quite what I expected - I've seen it featured on TV shows and movies before, so I knew it was this really informal, beachy place to eat. What I didn't know is that it was also part biker bar. Seriously. I think we missed the dress code of black Harley Davidson or Sturgis Bike Week t-shirts. But it was still cool. Loud, but cool. The view was great, and right before we pulled up to it, we saw the biggest group of surfers we've ever seen in one spot before.

By the way, to put the gigantic size of LA into some sort of perspective for those of you who've never been...from our house in the southern part of San Pedro (which is the very southern part of LA) to Neptune's Net in the northern part of Malibu(which is the very northern part of LA), it took us an hour and a half to get there. Some of that was because of traffic, but even without traffic, it's about 60 miles!

After Neptune's Net, we really started our journey. It was such a beautiful drive, and I couldn't help but laugh and feel "so California" when the second song that played on my iPod was Tori Amos' A Sorta Fairytale. The beginning lyrics are "On my way up north Up on the Ventura" - the Ventura is another name for the 101, which was the road that we were on. It did feel like a fairytale, though, driving along with the Pacific on my left and mountains on my right. Absolutely amazing!

Once we got north of Santa Barbara, the road turned away from the coast, and we entered into "Happy Cow Country," as I like to call it. Have you seen the commercial that says "Happy cows come from California"? Well, it looked like those were filmed in the area that we were driving through. I even saw a few cows, and they actually did look pretty happy! This area was unlike anything I've ever seen. All around, there were these golden hills - hills upon hills - with layers and layers of mountains behind them, and green vineyards thrown in every now and then. I immediately wanted to move here.

Santa Maria itself is a cute little town. The thing that this area is best-known for is it's wine, and the movie that was filmed in the area based on that exact subject - Sideways. We saw it once, but I think we'll have to watch it again since we're here.

Today was Grant's first day at class, so I went out site-seeing. I asked the girl at the front desk what there was to do here, and she looked at me very confused. Handed me a map, and said that the only thing to do here is to drive the wine trail. Come on - that can't be the ONLY thing to do here! When I worked at the front desk of a hotel, I could - at a moment's notice - give you the top 5 things to do in the area. She tells me this is the ONLY thing to do here?! I think not! Anyways, I'm glad she recommended it, because it turned out to be a beautiful drive, even if I got a little lost. I'll have to take Grant on the wine trail, so we can actually sample some wine. That's on our ever-growing list of things to do here.

Okay, sorry for the lengthy post. When I first started typing, I didn't really mean for it to be long, but I guess I just got carried away.

Friday, July 18, 2008

So Close!

Well, she's on the move. Pretty soon, it won't be scoochin' - it will be full-on crawling. As you can see, she gets to where she wants to go

Hawaii: The Big Island

After we left the lovely Kauai, it was time to go to the Big Island. Upon arriving by plane, it was obvious that this island was completely different than any other that we'd been to. The landing strip was in the middle of an old lava flow - the ground was completely black! We arrived in the evening and had a 2 hour drive to Volcanoes National Park, which is where we were staying, so we didn't have time to do anything when we got there.

The next morning, we began our exploring. We started out going to the Jaggar Museum at the park. We found this huge smoldering crater (which, now, is no longer smoldering, but shooting lava 50-feet into the air!). It was just unreal. First of all, it looked like we were on the moon. Second of all, just to know that there was all of this volcanic activity going on, literally right below our feet was unbelievable.

After checking that out, we went to the Thurston Lava Tube. There are lava tubes in New Mexico, but I'd never been there before (Grant had), so I wasn't really familiar with what a lava tube was. Here's a definition from Wikipedia to explain it:

"Lava tubes are natural conduits through which lava travels beneath the surface of a lava flow, expelled by a volcano during an eruption. They can be actively draining lava from a source, or can be extinct, meaning the lava flow has ceased and the rock has cooled and left a long, cave-like channel."

Really, it didn't look any different than a cave, but just knowing that lava was once rushing through this area was really cool. The path getting there was really cool - there were ferns everywhere! I've never seen so many ferns!

There were two parts to the lava tube - one was lit, and the other was unlit, and you had to have flashlights to go through it. All of my family went through the lit part, but my parents stayed back with Kendall for the unlit part. There was a mom and her two little boys that went along with us. That alone, proved to be an adventure, since the little boys were telling my brother that he had to stay in the tube while we left him there (he didn't listen, by the way). At one point, we turned off our flashlights, and it was incredible how dark it was in there. Not one little bit of light to be found. Kind of scary! We walked until we literally couldn't walk anymore. The tube just kind of ends, and the ceiling gets so low, you would have to crawl on your belly to get through.

That evening, we went to this viewing area where we could watch lava actually flowing into the ocean. At one point, the paved road ended, and we were driving on an old lava flow. Again, we felt like we were on the moon. One of the funniest things I've seen was a "For Sale" sign for a house.

We finally got to the parking area, and we started walking.

Then we got to the viewing area. Words can't describe what we saw. Neither can pictures - they totally didn't turn out. But, I'm still putting some up just to prove that we were there. Thankfully, my brother had binoculars, so we were able to take turns and get a better look at the action. I won't even attempt to try to explain what I saw - it was just breathtaking. We stayed until it was dark watching an incredible display of a different kind of fireworks.

The next day, we made our way to a black sand beach. That was just cool - there's no other way to describe it. We were constantly picking up the "sand" and running it through our fingers. While we were there, we saw some Hawksbill turtles, which are endangered. Grant and Tony swam here, but it was kind of difficult without shoes, because it was so rocky there, so the rest of us just enjoyed the unique scenery. But, they had the experience of actually swimming with these turtles, so that made it worth the trouble for them.

Once we cleaned all the black sand off of us, we went back to the Park, and visited some of the steam vents. Again, it was unreal. The steam vents are these openings in the earth, and when water hits the rocks (which are heated by the volcanic activity), it creates steam.

The next day was our last on the Big Island. On our drive back to Kailua-Kona (which is where we were flying out of), we stopped at this City of Refuge - basically, it's a place where people who broke a law went to be absolved of their crime. Given the location of this place, I think I would break laws all the time! It was absolutely beautiful.

After that, we stopped at an out-of-the-way coffee farm, but I didn't get any pictures there. Everyone - except for Grant and myself - is a coffee drinker, so this was a place we had to stop at.

Once we made our way back to Kailua-Kona, we went to Bubba Gump's for an early dinner. I know, it's a chain, and why would we ever eat at a chain while we're on vacation in Hawaii, but I read a really good review of it in our travel book, and none of us had ever been to one before. We were all very happy with our dinner there. Plus, the patio that we sat on was literally right over the ocean, so you couldn't beat the view!

We hurried to the airport after dinner, and went to Honolulu before catching our flight back to LA.

So just like that, our trip came to an end. It was a trip of a lifetime, and it was so amazing to spend it with family.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Hawaii: Kauai

**Check out the new pictures...finally!**

After we hiked up Diamondhead, it was time to head to the airport and catch a flight to Lihue, Kauai. Once again, we were set to rent 2 cars, but once we arrived at the car rental place, the check in person told us that they were having a deal on a Durango, which would save us alot of money. We did that to be in one car, but we couldn't fit all of our luggage. So we had to make 2 trips to the hotel, which was okay, because our hotel was right down the road from the airport. Once we got that taken care of, we were pretty tired, so we checked into the hotel, and relaxed in the incredible pool!

The next morning, we got ready to drive to the north shore of the island to the end of the road (literally). We read that there was a good beach there, so that was our plan. I'm so glad we did, because this was such a beautiful place to be! The beach is called Ke'e Beach, and it was basically where the Na Pali coast began, so there were these huge cliffs jutting up from the beach. It was incredible. The snorkeling was great, too!

Once we left there, we were pretty hungry, so we were trying to find a place to eat in Hanalei Town, and we came across this fish taco place called Tropical Taco. They were delish! After that, we went to the Hanalei Pier in Hanalei Bay. Again, we read about this place, and again we were not disappointed! This picture does not at all do it justice, especially since by the time we left, all the clouds had moved away.

The next day, we went to Waimea Canyon, which is the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific." Now if you've been to the Grand Canyon, this isn't nearly as impressive, but it is beautiful, especially with the lush green mixed in with the desert colors.

One thing that was really memorable about Kauai were the chickens. They were everywhere!

That night, we enjoyed a fabulous luau. None of us really knew if going to a luau would be worth the money, but it definitely was! We had such a good time! Myself, my mom, and my sister-in-law (along with a few other gullible people) were bribed with a free prize, which turned out to be a hula lesson in front of dozens of strangers. But that wasn't the worst of it. Once we were inside the tent, my Tony and Meredeth were called on stage (again, with a few others) to do a little more hip-shaking. Good fun. Good food. It was definitely a memorable event.

The next day was our last in Kauai. We took it easy, and just went to Wailua Falls. After that, I wanted to go to the Mermaids Cafe in Kapa'a, as recommended by Mrs. J. I also read some really good reviews about it. I ended up getting the Ahi Nori wrap - seered ahi tuna wrapped up with brown rice, and a great wasabi cream sauce. I'm kind of drooling for one right now.

So that was Kauai. Two islands down, one to go.