Thursday, July 8, 2010

California Here We Come

I don't know where this summer is going.  All I know is it's going super fast.  I was going to be so much better about blogging regularly, but that obviously didn't happen.  But hey, according to Wikipedia, only 12% of people achieve their New Year's Resolution goals, so at least I'm in the majority for not sticking to it, right?
I'm going to be taking a more official break with Carrots and Chocolate though because in 31 days, I will be on a plane to San Jose, CA for JVC training, after which I'll be moving for a year to Los Angeles!  I just received my Casa assignment today and the names of my community members.  I'll be living in East Los Angeles with 4 others all volunteering a year to serving those in the Latino community there.  I'm so excited!!
Before this though, I'll be taking a trip to Kansas to see my grandparents, having a family reunion, figuring out what I need to take to LA, working in as many trips to St. Louis as possible, and trying to see everyone before I go!
Before I leave though, I thought I should end with some amazing pictures of the trip my sister and I took to the Bay Area to visit our brother this past week as well as some helpful things we learned along the way :)

Tip #1: the SF Pride Parade is not very exciting.  Even the Backstreet Boys only played for 25 minutes. lame.  For the real fun go to the party/celebration the night before.
Tip #2: Watch out for sketchy guys at the parade selling brownies that guarentee to make you happy.  If you wouldn't normally eat something in a zip-lock baggie out of a random guy's backpack, don't start now.  (I don't have personal experience with this, but as a sane person who watched it happen, it doesn't look too legit.)
{one of the more exciting floats}

Tip #3: Be selective about touristy places in San Francisco.  For example, Chinatown was cool to look at for half an hour max.  Ghirardelli Square was a complete waste of time and the one measly sample of chocolate did not live up to expectations. 
Tip #4: If you decide to go to touristy places in the Bay Area, you might think about learning some other languages, such as French, Spanish, or Chinese.  You will probably be the only American-born tourist there.
Tip #5: When in Chinatown, follow the locals; they might lead you to a Dr. Pepper truck off of which you can get free Diet Dr. Pepper.  yum!  
Tip# 6: If you go to Yosemite National Park, be sure to look for trails outside the Valley unless you want paved trails with hundreds of foreign tourists.  We backpacked around the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.
 {lovely Reservoir}

 {Annie under a pretty rainbow from the waterfalls}

{we didn't have a pack animal... we had Joe}

Tip# 7: If you go to Sequoia National Park, don't listen to your older brother on any trail-related information.  If he says it's only .2 miles more, assume it is 5 more miles.  If he says California doesn't have mosquitoes, bring tons of DEET 40 repellent.  And if he says it is a flat trail, expect to hike straight uphill for a few miles.
 {halfway there!}
 {we climbed over 4,000 feet and went through snow for these views and...}
 { sign this book at the top of Alta Peak!}
Tip # 8: Pack warm clothes.
Tip # 9: Enjoy diverse foods.  Some of my favorites: Taste of the Himalayas, Fentons Creamery (when you want a lot of deliciousness), Tara's Organic Ice Cream (when you only want a little, but want some crazy flavors), Cafe Gratitude (go for the experience), and Tropisueno.  
Tip #10:  Drive on Highway 1, but avoid being behind a semi-truck.  
Tip #11:  Despite locals sunning themselves in parks and on beaches in bikinis and speedos, do not get the idea that it is warm enough to pack a swimming suit.  It is not, nor will it probably ever be.  
Tips #12: Take a drive up into the mountains and stop on some of the pull-off areas around dusk.  They're worth it and you might pick up some good date ideas, like setting up a little table and having a candle-lit dinner with your lover.  Adorable.    
 {view of the Bay Area from the Berkeley side}

Listening to: "Honey and the Moon"  - Joseph Arthur
Thought of the Day: "Finish each day and be done with it.  You have done what you could.  Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can.  Tomorrow is a new day.  You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."  - Emerson 

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