Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Arizona days

Well, we have been in Arizona (specifically Eloy) for well over a week now and the sun has been shining, winds have been minimal and the days lazy and relaxing. It is great down here!

We left Reno after a fantastic session on the first Skydive on Mount Everest and the worlds worst banquet dinner I have EVER been to (it cost $35 per ticket - Derek got one with his registration to the conference, I paid... Derek got the better deal!). The speeches were irrelevant and long, the wine was horrid (Putrid even) and the food was sub-par if edible. The highlight of the dinner was chatting with some old friends and meeting some new. We were seated with the lady that was the first Female to Freefall over Everest so that was very interesting. Other than that, so long Reno, hope we never see you again!

We drove to Vegas on Feb 14 and the roads were clear and good the whole way. We stayed at the MGM Grand (which is more massive than it looks, it is CRAZY big) and we went to a couple shows - Anthony Cool the Hypnotist which was hilarious and so very entertaining and Zumanity, the Cirque de Solei show that focuses on sexuality. It was incredibly interesting and entertaining and not at all like an "average" cirque show. It was a jam packed day in Vegas as we cruised the strip for a small amount of time before hitting our shows. I saw the water show at the Belagio finally - the water moved to the music of the "Lord of the Dance" song I remember singing when I was little. It was a great night in Vegas!

We drove to Eloy from Vegas the next day and have been here at the Drop Zone ever since. I have spent about 45 mins of glorious time in the wind tunnel since we got here a week and 2 days ago and I have soaked up some sun, read 3 books and continued my training with a vengeance. It has been such a nice and relaxing time chatting with the SARTECH's and other friends that we have down here. Some more of our friends from back home are coming today, which is exciting, and Derek's 4-way skydiving team is supposed to arrive today as well. They are flying in the wind tunnel today (as am I) so they better show! :o) I am heading into Phoenix to pick up Don, one of the team mates, today and am starting to get things organized for my trip home. I start the drive Saturday morning and hopefully hit the Grand Canyon sometime around noon, then off to Salt Lake City - maybe in the same day, maybe not. I am going to take it easy and see how far I get each day. I have 3 days to do the 24 hours of driving so I am certain it will be a good slow drive.

I fly out to Montreal on the 3rd of March technically but it is a 1 am flight, so I won't be sleeping until I am on the plane... makes for a long day but short flight! Derek flys from here the same day and gets in around supper time, I will certainly have time for a nap before he gets there! We will be in Montreal for 6 days and although there are rumors of the wind tunnel not being complete by then, I will still have a great time roaming the beautiful streets and eating beaver tails, drinking cappuccino's and poutine... I love Montreal! Derek will be in meetings, sucker! hahahaha!

Well, I best get the day started as I have some organizing before the team gets here (the hotel room looks like a bomb went off in here! :o) I can hardly believe that it is the last week of February... time really does go so quickly! Until next time, peace, love, and adventure!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

2 Provinces and 4 States later

Well, the journey is in full swing - almost a whole week has passed so it is high time that I update you on the trip!

First and foremost, I would like to congratulate a blogging friend on becoming a "blog of note" - this is when they take the best blogs and showcase it for all the bloggers to see, well done Anna! I truly know why they picked it as it is a witty, clever and well written blog. For all you interested, here is the link... http://www.almostdailyexploits.com/

So, the trip... we left Calgary around noon on Friday Feb 6th and drove to Kamloops (an 8 hour drive) and stayed at a hotel there... we were supposed to meet up with Derek's team mate and stay at his mansion, but his friend was out of town so we stayed in a hotel. The next day we drove to Vancouver (3 more hours) and spent the afternoon with Derek's mom and sister. The drive was stunning as the mountains popped out of the crystal clear blue sky. It seems that in winter (or when it is cold) the mountains seem to pop out so much more... it makes me want to climb them when they are so prominent and bold. It was a stunning drive. The visit was great, we got to have lunch with Derek's mom and sister and visit each a bit at their homes before heading across the United States border and on to Seattle.

In Seattle we stayed in a wonderful Kimpton hotel that was themed according to the 500+ vineyards in Washington. Did you know that Washington has the 2nd most vineyards in the states? I didn't even know that Washington made wine!!! We stayed at the Hotel Triton in San Fransisco and that was a Kimpton hotel. They are inexpensive for the quality of service... here is their web page: http://www.kimptonhotels.com/ - so in Seattle, we took an early morning stroll to see the World Famous Pikes Place Fish market. I must admit, I was very disappointed... it WAS Sunday morning but I thought that the fish market was bigger and more prominently displayed... it was a fish counter in a market place... I was very disappointed. SO, to ease our sadness, we had a hearty breakfast and then went to the first Starbucks - the very first place that had a Venti, non-fat, earl grey, vanilla tea misto... it was small and very efficient as they are incredibly busy. So, I got my drink and we walked back to the hotel, packed down our 17 bags (as we are taking some gear down for Derek's Team mates) and then hit the road to Portland.

In Portland we stopped and had coffee with Derek's uncle George whom he hadn't seen in about 15 years. WOW - Can't imagine not seeing an aunt or uncle in 15 years. Anyways, it was great to meet Uncle George and hear his story. He was a chef before he retired and he told us stories of his travel on cruise ships and up north and to the Azores and Maldives (now very much on my "must travel to" list). He is a quiet, soft spoken man who is similar to Derek in that he doesn't like fuss and is reserved. It was a great visit and we plan on keeping in touch. After Portland (which was about a 3 hour drive from Seattle) we drove to the coast of Oregon and started our drive down the 101 along the coast. By the time we hit the actual 101 it was near dark and considering the fact that we had to be in Reno the next day, we traveled a large portion of the coast in the dark (8 more hours) which was quite disappointing to us. We stayed in a small little village for the night paying $40 US which is so incredibly cheap!!! The view the next morning was breathtaking, even if it was pouring rain. It was gorgeous all along the coast and we were sad that we couldn't stop and take in the views. When we hit California we drove through the Red Wood Forest and although we didn't stop (but should have) we saw some spectacular trees and views. It is absolutly amazing that we could see coast and then these GIANT trees that are hundreds of years old and then coast again. Blew my mind!

Once we hit Eureka in California, we went inland towards Reno. The whole day of driving was about 10 hours. The drive along the Northern California was amazing as well. The roads were amazingly windy (sometimes having to slow down to 25 mph to get around a corner) but the scenery was spectacluar. Further along the road, Orchards became incredibly prominent, growing everything from Oranges to Pistachios (mmm, my fav!). Some of the Orchards we incredibly old and it was very interesting to see the different trees and styles of orchards - who knew!? It was getting dark just as we were hitting the hills of California that lead to Nevada. It looked like a winter wonderland with amazingly tall evergreen trees coated with fresh, sticky snow. It was spectacular until we hit the blizzard that brought the fresh, sticky snow... we hit all kinds of weather in a 10 hour drive, torrential rain, sunshine, snow, fog... what a spectacular show Mother Nature put on for us. Good thing the snow only lasted about 30 mins! After the blizzard, it was straight on to Reno and we thankfully made it - a little tired and weary, but happy that we did such an amazing trip - next time we will plan to go slower so we can take it all in!

Now that we are in Reno, and Derek is in full Conference mode, I am happy that I came. I know that I will never go to Reno for a holiday - it is a little sketchy here... the people that I have encountered are either 4000 years old, homeless or members of a gang. Needless to say I have not ventured out much and don't anticipate doing so. I have been and saw Reno, thanks for the tack in the map, on to the next destination!!!

We leave for Vegas on Saturday morning - until then, it will be chatting with skydivers about all things skydiving and having supper with good friends as well as making new ones. It is very relaxing to spend the days walking the strip, hanging out reading or watching T.V., working out (gotta keep that training schedule) and spending time with Derek. It has been a great trip so far... I hope the fun continues! :o)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

And the packing begins...

So, in 3 more sleeps, Derek and I will be packing up our beloved Timmy (our shiny Rav4) and taking him on his first real road trip to Arizona. We are going to BC to visit Derek's Mom and then down to Seattle then down the coast until we hit Reno! After 5 days in Reno while Derek attends a conference and I spend my time leisurely training for my next 10K run and reading a BILLION books that I have staring at me asking to be opened and enjoyed! Oh, and I will job hunting down there too... you never know, I could score a SWEET job in Reno or something and have to live down there! There are worse things that could happen!! :o)

One we are done with Reno, we will be heading to Arizona via Vegas... we have tickets to a show already so we will be staying there one night. If you have never been to Vegas, it is simply unreal. It is so big and bold and outlandish and off the hook... there seems to be no real theme other than to out do the last hotel/casino that was erected. The last time we were there (Feb 2007), many new hotels were being built on the strip so it will be interesting to see how they are coming along or if they are done! Always good to see progress! Once in Arizona the typical tomfoolery begins and I spend the days packing parachutes, entertaining the military people with my stories, wit and charm and fly in the wind tunnel!

I will be driving back to Calgary only to board a plane for Montreal as there is a conference there that Derek is attending and I am going to visit some friends, see the city and speak french... oh and play in the brand new wind tunnel! :o)

It will be a grand adventure and I hope to get in lots of running and hiking in Arizona as well as some good rest so that I can come back to Calgary with a job in hand and a future in store! :o) Wishful thinking I suppose, but it isn't totally out of the question!

For now, I am concentrating on organizing our house and our stuff so that Derek and I can have a mass packing event on Thursday. I am going to load everything into Timmy and hopefully go and pick Derek up at noon and hit the road! It will be great going on a road trip... I think last year driving down to Arizona was that last great road trip I was on... that and Jasper at Thanksgiving but that was a SHORT road trip.

I will for sure keep you all posted on the goings on while away in the states... I can hardly wait to add some more tacks in our map of the world! :o) 2 more states checked off the list! :o)

Until then - Audieu, sionara, au revoir, ciao, aloha, good bye, ta-ta - chat soon!