30 before 30: # 18 Add another Continent

I have been off work this week and so have a brief moment to update the ole blog! I wanted to give you guys a bit of an update on some of the #’s in progress. So far I am happy to report on the following works in progress, the scarf #14, is a little over 2 feet long, #11 memorize the sermon on the mount, I have 5 more verses to memorize in chapter 6 and then I’m on the home stretch through chapter 7. #15 Donate my hair, I am almost at the 8 inch mark necessary to donate with Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths wig program.#25 Switch careers : I started assembling a website, created a facebook, twitter and instagram accounts for Front Porch Events, my new event planning company. I hope this will help me in the transition out of my current position sometime in the coming year.

So to cross off # 18: Add another continent to my list of continents, here’s the brief on my recent trip to Scotland! I was lucky to take part in the amazing process of dropping off my boss’ daughter and sister from another mister, Ellie, at the University of Edinburgh.  We flew direct from Portland to Amsterdam and then landed in Edinburgh in early afternoon after flying for nearly 18 hours. We spent the week enjoying downtown Edinburgh and shopping in the UK for all the necessary dorm items for Ellie. Here are a few photos from the trip:

Edinburgh Castle where Mary Queen of Scots had David I

Edinburgh Castle where Mary Queen of Scots had David I

 

The entrance to Edinburgh Castle

The entrance to Edinburgh Castle

The clock tower at the Balmoral Hotel where we stayed

The clock tower at the Balmoral Hotel where we stayed

Those were just a few shots from my trip! I’ll keep you updated on the progress of the 30 before 30 and I hope I can get them all done!

Greyhound Social Justice

My dear friend and former roommate Jen called me and told me that she and her new husband, Ismael, who is a man from Niger, (I just learned how to differentiate a person from Nigeria and a person from Niger: Nigerian= from Nigeria, Nigerien=from Niger.) were buying a car in Portland. She told me that Ismael, who lives in Mt. Vernon, WA would be riding down on Greyhound and  she would be flying in from Las Vegas, where she is teaching, and could I pick her up from the airport and him from the bus station? Of course I said yes because that’s what I do. You call me? I show up.
To add some background to this story, I happen to loathe the Greyhound Bus company. I am not alone either, just google “greyhound sucks” and enjoy.  I am certain they exploit those who can not afford other means of travel by offering false departure times and available space on their buses. They force those who are “fortunate” to get on a bus, to ride in conditions that are often below those of city bus standards and use bathrooms that have not been cleaned in this century. Their stations are often in disrepair and their employees are anything but helpful. I hate anyone and anything that takes advantage of people due to their economic status.
As part of my theology, I believe that salvation isn’t just about a future in heaven but also about redemption for today. I believe Jesus cares about our situations  and it’s our job as believers to get involved to help make their plight less difficult in the name of Christ’s love. Social Justice is a blanket term that was coined based on the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas. It is an overwhelming problem and difficult to determine where and how to be involved in a solution.
So back to Jen and Ismael, on the day they were to arrive, I received multiple text messages from Jen regarding Ismael’s arrival time. It went from 4 pm, to 10 pm to 9 pm , then 12 am. As I picked Jen up from the airport at 10:30 pm, she told me that poor Ismael had left at 9 am from Mt. Vernon, had gotten onto a bus bound for Seattle and had been waiting in the Seattle station since 2 pm. He had been forced to buy an additional ticket, due to the fact that the ticket he originally bought, on a bus that would have had him arriving at 10 pm was full when it arrived and they wouldn’t allow a transfer to another bus even though it was Greyhound’s mistake that there was no space on the bus for him. He had been waiting in the Seattle station for 8 hours to get on a bus. Now Ismael being Nigerien, English is not his first language. Being that he is an exceptionally smart human being, English isn’t even his second language, it is his sixth language. So here is poor Ismael trying to make the 5 hour trek to Portland and it is taking him almost 14 hours. When I picked Jen up from the airport she told me that Ismael would be arriving at 4 in the morning in Portland. That is nearly 19 hours of travel time for trip that should ideally only take 5-6. My innate sense of justice was fuming and I looked at Jen and said, “We’re going to get him.” She protested and I explained to her that it was ludicrous that her poor husband who she hadn’t seen in months, would have to wait two more hours to get on a bus at midnight that would deposit him in Portland at 4 am when we could drive up and back to get him in the same amount of time. So that’s what we did, we headed to Seattle and intercepted Ismael at a bus station in Centralia after chasing him down the freeway because his bus driver wouldn’t stop for him in Olympia. His poor nightmare saga would end with him purchasing a car in Portland so that he will hopefully never have to deal with Greyhound again.
I tell you this story to let you know that you don’t have to make large sweeping changes. You just have to make changes. You have to stand up and say, no this isn’t right, in the situations that the Lord puts you in. Find ways to right the wrongs that have been accepted by our culture and do it in the name of the love that never fails.

30 before 30: # 19 Take a Road trip with a friend….

I had to add an ellipsis to the end of this title because number nineteen on the 30 before 30 list’s title is actually:

#19. Go on a road trip (longer than 3 hours) with a friend for no other reason than they’re going and you can.Image

sI met Tiffani three years ago and she was one of those friends that immediately stuck. We instantly bonded over our hilarious and amazing fathers who have ruined us for other men, a love of live sports and music, a love of good food, and the sheer amazement at what would and could come out of the other’s mouth. She is, and will be, someone that I always hold dear not only because we have lived together but because she is an invaluable friend in terms of her honesty, integrity, deep love, compassion and her overall amazingness. I consider myself lucky to be in her life.

So, when Tiff said she needed someone to drive a U-haul with all her stuff down to Richmond and then back up to Auburn, California, number 19 was all but crossed off my list. Dear readers, I doubt you can deny the value of a person that you can literally spend HOURS in a car together and not feel like you want to gouge your eyes out with a spoon. So this number was almost too easy to accomplish. I plotted many weeks on playlists and agonized over which CD’s to bring because knowing our love of music, TIff splurged and got the truck with the CD player. So 7 am Saturday January 14th we rolled out with the last physical tie Tiffani had to Portland and set off for the land of the gold rush.

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The Sunset from the truck headed south

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Mt Shasta

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Yep, definitely driving and taking a picture... this was after we started to lose it.

The goal in crossing off number #19 on my list was to spend some time in the passenger seat. I spend most of my life whether for work or personal reasons, driving from one place to the next crossing off my to do lists or catching up with friends. It is a rare privilege to turn over the keys to someone and let them be in charge of getting us safely to our destination. There is nothing quite like hours in the car watching the scenery fly by you to get your mind moving towards things you may or may not want to think about. So number 19 was all about sitting back and enjoying the ride.

No subject was left uncovered by the time we arrived in Auburn and I had a mild case of vertigo brewing but I’m glad I went and encourage you to find a way to get in the passenger seat for a long time soon.

Viva La Mexico!!!

My friend Mari finished her undergrad work this spring and to celebrate that fact her Grandmother, Arlene, invited her and a friend to come spend a week with her in San Miguel De Allende, Mexico. That friend?… ME.
Sombrero! 

So for a week this month I got to spend walking the streets of a beautiful city, eating wonderful food, brutalizing the Spanish language and enjoying the history and feast for the senses that is San Miguel De Allende.

I LOVED IT.

There are very few places that I travel that I am confident I’ll return to but San Miguel is one that I will DEFINITELY go back to one day.
The history and the architecture and the people and the colors and the smells and the food and the shopping and the SUN! Oh me oh my!
We arrived in San Miguel after spending some time in the Houston airport which of all the airports I’ve been through in my life, vaulted into the top 5 of the worst airports to travel through. In honor of Houston’s distinction of being the fattest city in America, Mari and I enjoyed some barbeque food for lunch. I regretted this decision when I saw the size of the plane that we were to be flying to Mexico on and for the first time ever, I got air sickness. Thankfully I didn’t puke, but I downed enough ginger ale to drown a bridge club. So I was glad when we finally were able to stop moving and just sit down for awhile in San Miguel.
Mari’s Grandmother has been coming to San Miguel for over 20 years and so the tradition is to go to Mama Mia’s for the first night to enjoy some Italian food in Mexico. I got such a quick out of eating pasta when I should have been eating rice and beans. They did have fantastically large margaritas that we thoroughly enjoyed.

Birdbath margaritas

Birdbath margaritas

 The next morning, we got up and headed to jewelry class where we made some lovely silver jewelry. We had a great time learning from Antonio aka “el Jefe numero dos” (boss # 2, guess who was El Jefe numero uno?… 🙂 ) how to pound and shape and file the silver into lovely creations.

We turned this into the lovely ring below!

We turned this into the lovely ring below!

 

 

The ring I made in Jewelry class

The ring I made in Jewelry class

We spent every morning wandering through town looking at the beautiful buildings, courtyards, museums, churches and shopping. Then Mari and I would head back to the house for some siesta time on the roof where we read and caught up on so much needed Vitamin D. 
Arlene’s 81st birthday was while we were in San Miguel so we went to her favorite Restaurant, Tio Lucas, which was amazing! We had a fantastic steak dinner and the best caesar salad I’ve ever had. They made the dressing right in front of us and words can not begin to describe how fantastic it tasted!!

Arlene's birthday serenade

Arlene's birthday serenade

On Friday, Mari and I were ready to get into the water. We heard there was a hot springs outside of San Miguel so we hopped a bus and headed out to the hot springs. It wasn’t the greatest place I’ve ever been but it was nice to spend some time by the water.

Mari and I at Las Grutas

Mari and I at Las Grutas

The grotto at the hot springs

The grotto at the hot springs

This sign kind of got lost in translation i.e. if you have "cardiac affection" which is love... you can't go in the cave

This sign kind of got lost in translation i.e. if you have "cardiac affection" which is love... you can't go in the cave

I highly recommend if you want to avoid the overly touristy beach towns of Mexico that you head to San Miguel. It’s a very safe alternative to the drug wars in Tijuana. Here a few more pictures of my trip and there’s even more on my flickr account!

Jesus street

Jesus street

 

The Parroquia from one of my favorite streets

The Parroquia from one of my favorite streets

Sunset in San Miguel

Sunset in San Miguel

I left my heart in San Francisco…

My name on the wall at Niketown

My name on the wall at Niketown

This past weekend I got to go to San Francisco to run the Nike Women’s Marathon and to see a lot of people fromLas Vegas. It was a great weekend and while some were a little surprised to learn that I was traveling and staying by myself in a city that I don’t know, I LOVED IT. I am 100% recommending that you take a trip to a city or country by yourself at some point in your life. It’s WONDERFUL to travel without another person’s eating, sleeping etc. schedules and it’s refreshing to do and see all the things you want. More about that later.

While in San Fran I got to catch up with my old friends from the LLS and ran the 1/2 marathon on Sunday morning. It was a beautiful but TOUGH course that featured some of the best views in the city and a finish right on the coast. Saturday and Monday were GORGEOUS days but Sunday, although overcast, was the perfect temperature to run in. It was in the mid to high 50’s and low humidity. It was a little bit cold at the finish but that’s probably because we were right on the Ocean. The professional pictures are already up and you can see them at here. Here are some of the pictures I took while running the race:

Sahar and I above the wharfs

Sahar and I above the wharfs

Running along the Pacific

Running along the PacificAlcatraz

I bummed around San Francisco on Monday to try and limber up my muscles and rode a cable car from Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf which I later learned was practically the entire line!

A cable car!

I decided I needed to do an Alcatraz tour because I’ve never heard anyone say to skip going to Alcatraz. I never realized that rock holds so much historical significance. As I learned, they call Alcatraz a historical layer cake as it started out as a Civil war Naval base, became the infamous penitentary and finally the Native Americans occupied it after the prison doors shut in the 60’s.  It was AMAZING and if you ever go to San Francisco, spend the money and do the tour. It had by far the best views of the city and it was awesome to ferry out there on such a nice day.
Alcatraz cruises

Welcome to the rock

Welcome to the rock

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

The water tower overlooking the rec yard

The water tower overlooking the rec yard

More photos on flickr!