Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Day 2 – How to Save a Life

I titled this post that because it’s the song I am presently listening to (by The Fray) on my 2 and a half hour commute to work from Denver to Chicago. And yes you can get Internet on the plane; you just have to know how to work the system.

Just kidding. Just drafting.

No for real, there’s no Internet. One day. Maybe. Moving on.

Day 2 is when Dearing and I realized that The Fray and their song “Over my Head” followed us the entire trip. We popped in the CD and jammed to it, and from there on out every time we turned on the radio, it was there, stalking us.

Anyways, I woke up first from our evening slumber...as is usual…and listened to some music on my ipod until Dearing got up. I was stoked about our Wind Surfing lessons, and I think D was staying in the tent hoping it would never happen.

We had a few hours to kill before the lessons, so we took a short driving tour of the local vineyards, up to a viewing area called Panorama Point, then over to the Washington (the state) side of the river to find a place to hike.


D on the side of the road with Mt Hood vaguely in the background

Country Road

One of the many vinyards


Panorama Point

We stopped at an information center and found a place called Dog Mountain that didn’t seem to be too far down the road.

It was a lot harder than expected. Most of the way up we took the “Easy Route” but up towards the top, the got steep and we started running out of energy and time. We decided that we should turn around by 12:15 so we could get down and to our lesson by 1:30.

We went right, and came down left


The views were amazing. These pictures definitely don’t do it justice. And boy was it windy.

Well we made it up to a good view of the gorge, then turn right around and booked it down the mountain. We took the difficult way down, thinking it would be quicker than the way we came. Well we were right about it being quicker, but boy did it do a number on our thighs. I started worrying that maybe we wouldn’t be in any condition to go windsurfing.

But I wasn’t about to back down. We made it down to our lesson just in time, only for the teacher to tell us that it might be too windy for teaching windsurfing, but she left it up to us whether we would continue.

We threw on our wetsuits and took the challenge head on. It actually took me a bit longer because she gave me a size too small and I FOR REAL ended up STUCK in my wetsuit. It wouldn’t go on anymore and it wouldn’t come off. I pulled it off as she walked out with the scissors to cut it off.

The lesson went great. It was Über windy and time after time a gust of wind would blow through and pull the sail right out of my hands. But in the end Dearing and I both crossed the cove where we were learning and came back without falling.

Wet and weary, we headed up to one of the Vineyards for some wine tasting. There were groves and groves of Vineyards out there, so we felt it was something we had to do, even though I was more interested in the blackberry picking across the street. I was pleasantly surprised on some of the wines, and for maybe the 3rd time in my life, I actually felt somewhat refined.

But back to being vagrant, homeless, adventurous, and…well…unrefined.

D with her wine. She had to pick me out of the blackberry bushes so I would take this pic

Now we needed a place to stay for the evening. This would drive D crazy all trip…not knowing where we would be staying from night to night. Me? I loved it. As long as we had a tent, we had lodging. Dearing had heard about a hostel in town, so after scowering our LAME local map, we found the place. It was an old school (an actual SCHOOL, not oldschool) building with a very strange manager. It seemed like he belonged behind a hotel desk in a horror movie. I think you get the picture. D didn’t like me bringing that up, but it was true.

The Hostel

Our rooms…er…bunk beds paid for, we headed down the street to the corner market to pick up some food to cook for the evening. Deciding on pasta, we sifted through YEAR-EXPIRED pasta and sauce before finally finding some that were actually fresh. Down in the kitchen cooking food, we met a windsurfing couple from Florida who had decided to pick up and move to the area purely for the surfing. They were staying until their house was built.

So D and I settled in on the couch for the evening, with our pasta and some wine that she had bought at the Vineyard.

No we didn’t sleep on the couch. But I for real was the only person in my bunkroom and she was the only girl in hers. Kind of odd and freaky especially with that “Psycho” hostel manager running around. But I soon dozed off to sleep in my sleeping bag to sounds of screams down the hall…uhhh...I mean to the soothing rush of the breeze through the window.


Next Up: Mt St Helens…or what’s left of it…homemade cobbler and the Milky Way!

-JJ

Monday, August 28, 2006

Vagrant in the Northwest

A few months ago I gave Dearing, one of my good friends, my Green Pass for her birthday so we could go on vacation. We eventually decided that a nice little tour of the Portland and Seattle area would make for some good viewing and maybe some adventure.

We set the date and started making plans.

So if you've been wondering where I've been for the past week, lost somewhere in the Northwest would be the answer.

We experienced a lot and I don't want to skip out on anything, so I'm taking this one day at a time. So be sure to check back often to keep up with the whole story.


DAY 1

Last Sunday Dearing flew from Nashville, met me in Chicago, and we both hopped a non-stop flight over to Portland. Upon arrival (on time, I might add) we headed down to pick up our compact rental car.

I'll be honest, I was hoping for a free upgrade to a Subaru Outback or Forester or something, for they are superior backcountry vehicles, but unfortunately we were stuck with a small gray Dodge Neon. I might add that it had a spoiler attached, so it was THAT MUCH cooler.

I mentioned to Dearing that this trip was going to either make or break our friendship. A week with anyone will do that.

Starving, we stopped at the nearest Burger King, then hit I-84 that runs along the Columbia River, through the Gorge, up to Hood River, our final destination for the day.


We hit a backroad on the way to Hood River, searching for a waterfall called Multnomah Falls.

As we headed up I-84, we stopped at a small town grocery to buy the essentials for the week: Trail Mix (Mixed ourselves with peanuts, cashews, raisins, and M&Ms), Peanut Butter, Bread, and Kix. yes Kix. Kid tested, mother approved Kix. It would be our life sustanence.

We found hood river in early afternoon and stopped at a small outdoor shop to find directions to a good campground nearby so we could set up our tent for the evening. Little did we know that they also offered Wind Surfing lessons out on the Columbia River. If you don't know, the area is renoun for world class windsurfing and kite boarding.

We left the shop with directions to a campground up the hill and reservations the next day for Windsurfing lessons. I was ecstatic. Dearing was nervous.

We wandered around town looking for our campground, and about an hr later finally found it. It was nestled up against a river, which i don't remember the name of, and we spent the extra 5 bucks to get a campground near the river.




After getting all settled in at the campground, we split ways for about an hour to wander (me) or reflect and write in journals (Dearing).

This would be a common theme for the week. On the first day we both admitted our travel flaws. Dearing's is that she has to use the bathroom every 10 mins (ok thats exaggerated, but it was often) and mine is that I go a million miles an hour. I'm not very good and stopping to smell the roses. So periodically we would split up and go our own way for a bit.

Heres what we had already noticed about the area. From town you can see 2 mountains: Mt Hood and Mt Adams. But they are strange in that they jut up from nowhere. Theres no mountain range around them, save for hills, that lead up to them. And as you drive along, one moment they are there, the next gone. Both 12,000 feet high, it was very bizzare, and I can't really explain it.

We met back up and headed to town for the evening to get some food. On the drive down is when Dearing, looking in the rear-view mirror in the direction of Mt Hood, mentioned that it looked "Fuggie." It came out wrong, but she was thinking it was looking muggy and foggy. And at that moment the name for our little Dodge Neon was born.

We ate at a small pub that seemed like it would be a popular place, but there was barely anyone there and the food was overpriced and not very good. So we ate up, enjoyed the evening weather as we ate outside and discussed our feelings about windsurfing the next day.

After dinner we headed back to our campsite, and settled in for the evening. Camping with us were a slew of vagrant I wanted at some point to see a sky full of stars, but tonight was not the night. We slept with the rain fly off, but I only spotted 2 or 3. I fell asleep about 30 mins later to the sound of the rushing river only 20 feet away.

Tomorrow..or whenever I get the chance...Dog Mountain, WindSurfing, and the Hostel.

-JJ

Saturday, August 19, 2006

But what does it MEAN???

We all watch the weather. Some more than others. But during it we get all this terminology thrown at us that we sit and nod at, pretending that we know what it all means. Sometimes I'm skeptical that weathermen don't even know what it means, that some computer just spits out information and they tell us what it is.

But for real, what does it all mean???

More specifically, the other day I was watching the news when ol' trusty weatherman tells me that dew point for the day. I know what dew is. I know what a point is. But I got no idea what the dew point is. I couldn't even make an educated guess.

So I decided to find out what other people thought of this dew point. I was just starting a 3 day trip, so whenever I thought about it, I would ask those around if they knew what the dew point was.

Of all those who I asked, only 1 person who what it was...and it was only because he's a pilot and he's supposed to know it.

So I'm curious as to how many people, without the aid of the internet or formal training (i.e. weathermen or pilots, JOE SCHMO) knows what the dew point actually means. Anyone?

-JJ

Sunday, August 13, 2006

August 12 of 12.

12 of 12!!! For those of you who don't know, its 12 pictures on the 12th of each month. Heres August!!!


This is the best of the lot. Tells the whole story. It's early, I need coffee, and those who got up before me turned the pot off. I had to warm it up.


With a 7:30 check-in, breakfast is done on the first leg to Buffalo.


Descent into Buffalo- Lake Erie


Buffalo to Salt Lake City VIA Chicago. This is..you guessed it. The SLC.

View from my hotel room. Theres more of these to come.


This is in SLC. I dunno. Wierd.


Look!!!!......At What??????


Our F.O. puttin' on the chapstick after dinner.


uhh..cool.


Evening winding down. Beds lookin' comfy.


It's BEDTIME!! yup, that does say 9:02pm


Don't let the sun go down on me. OFF TO NEW ORLEANS!

Feel free to check out Prophecy's 12 of 12 and "Whatever you Shea's" 12 of 12. Links are on the right.

-JJ

Friday, August 11, 2006

Baseball Mania

Ayayay...whats been going on...well work and baseball, thats pretty much it.

Whenever I have a random day off, I always check out the baseball schedule to see if there is a possibility of making a quick day trip to see a game. Last time was memorial day to see the Cleveland Indians, and this time it went to Kauffman stadium in Kansas City to see the Royals.

I convinced my friend Laura to come with, which was actually pretty tough considering the temperature was somewhere around 99-110. Or it felt like that. And Laura isn't die-hard like I am.

Luckily I've got a flight attendant friend in Kansas City named Sarah that I could stay with,, drive us around, and do my laundry.

And for the second game in a row, I got in free.

Apparently the Royals give out free tickets to military personell and 3 friends...and Sarah's husband Justin is in the Navy. And since this was the Royals we were talking about, a game that no one goes to, we could pretty much sit wherever we felt like.


This past week Laura invited me down to Houston to spend the week with her and her roommate. One of the stipulations of my visit was that we would go to an Astros game. You know I can's pass that up. Plus the fact that Clemens was pitching, I wouldn't miss it for the world. I ended up hanging out with my old pal JB that day, then we hit the game that night, which the Astros ended up winning.

So I'm currently up to 17/30 stadiums. Heres the running count of baseball stadium's I HAVE NOT been to:

Seattle
Oakland
San Francisco
LA Dodgers
LA Angels
Toronto
Tampa Bay
Detroit Tigers
Florida
St Louis (New Stadium)
Cincinatti
Milwaukee
Pittsburgh

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Famous, yet elusive

Does anyone else just want to disappear for a while?? Like no contact with friends, just kind of escape for a while? Sometimes I do feel that way, that maybe I'll go camping for a while, or just go home, or maybe go see some friends I havn't seen in a long time, but remain "gone" from everyone else???

My friend Lacie recently posted on her blog and sometimes she feels this way and she turns her cellphone off and puts it in the fridge, as if it was "dead" in a coffin. I found this pretty amusing.

I feel this way from time to time. Just a couple of weeks ago, I visited my friends in Dallas, and I called my friend's girlfriend (now fiance) because I've wanted to meet her and "approve" of her, but she was unable to attend dinner, so I never did meet her. She wrote an email to the rest of the crew, mentioning that I was "famous, yet elusive."

And I'll admit, I liked that title. I had some sort of mystique.

For some reason I feel like if I'm around too much, people get tired of me. So I just want to disappear. Just for a little while.

But I usually get over this sensation in about 24 hrs.

I've pondered a question for a couple weeks, and I'm curious to see what everyone else's answer would be.

If there was one thing in life that you could just not have to do EVER again, what would it be?

-JJ