Monday, February 27, 2012

I'm moving!

Sadly not to London...boo hoo but moving to a smaller apartment within the city. Less rent and less space so I can downsize (though it's still going to be crammed to the rafters...that's what happens when you have a huge Beatles collection, are sentimental and are a traveler/photographer) AND travel more. It is in a 55 plus apartment which freaks me out a bit especially when I see little old ladies in walkers toddling along the hallways but there are people my own age living there including a long time friend. It is in a highrise and on the 7th floor with a lovely view and an absolutely huge balcony. I wish a bit of that balcony was inside but oh well. I have new carpet, lino and counter tops so am happy. When I moved into my current place over five years ago I was promised new countertops and sink as well as refinished cupboards - it took three years to get the countertops and sink and I am still waiting for the refinished cupboards. Bet the next person gets them!

Anyway I am looking ahead, not back. An exciting new chapter of my life - even if it does come with handrails by the toilet and bathtub. (hey and even scarier...I was happy to see the handrails by the bathtub!)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Reflections on my trip

I haven't had a chance to do this before but as I am here looking after the critters and it's a pretty quiet Saturday night...

Two trips back to back was hectic but absolutely wonderful. I loved my trip to Europe and being there for Christmas was really special. Great to see my friend Claudia again and we are discussing future places to meet up...I LOVED Salzburg. Paris was great...I loved the freedom of wandering around at my leisure...London anytime is wonderful and I already miss it - I have a London calender at work and have found myself murmuring sweet nothings to it..."I miss you, I love you..". What can I say, I have it bad...Oh well it's been a 37 year love affair and still going strong!!

I adored my trip to California and Texas as well. I miss my southern California beaches so much...when I was crossing a busy street today the thought crossed my mind "I wish I was crossing the Pacific Coast Highway" going to the beach"! I will be back someday as well as perhaps heading further south to San Diego - another favourite of mine. I will definitely return to Austin some day as well. I check out a Austin Photo of the Day blog and wouldn't you know it after I return I see a house just down from where I stayed. It was multi-coloured and pretty and I saw people hanging out there but they had kids so assumed it was a day care. WRONG. It was an art gallery with all sorts of wonderful things inside and out. DRAT!!! Oh well, an excuse to go back right? Two and a half days there was just not enough. Next time I will also visit San Antonio and Galveston. Not sure when but it's on the list!!!

I still have about 25 more state capitals to do so the goal is to get five more done this year...will see if I am up to the challenge.

No plans for any trips...can you believe it. I know I am going to Ottawa in May and Quebec as well but nothing is booked. I hope to go and visit family in Alberta in April.

I have airmiles burning a hole in my pocket...I use these for trips in western Canada and the Yukon, NWT...hmmm....

As far as my foot goes...today was a bad day...on days like this I think perhaps my half marathon days are behind me. Then I have a good day and think well maybe not...it is something I love so much. It is hard for people who have never done one to understand the feeling you have when you cross the finish line and get that medal around your neck - the feeling of accomplishment and pride in what you did...very addicting! I know about every great marathon in North America and have a list of them (in my head!) I want to complete.... I am registered for the Ottawa half on May 27th - this was obviously arranged before my trip to Europe and my foot problems there...I know I need to lose weight. This would help a bit I know...but for now I am in turmoil as to my future walking plans.

March will see me fairly busy locally though...stay tuned!!

Hanging out with the critters

Yes I am petsitting... For a dog, cat and guinea pig. It's been interesting to say the least. However I love animals and it's nice to have them in my life again even for just a short time. I did petsitting for nearly five years - I started six weeks after I lost my beloved doggie in 2005. The first gig was rather sad as I kept calling the dog by my dog's name and then getting all teary....but I've looked after some great animals and well some not so great....or should I word it nicely and just say unforgettable! I think I could write a book on that chapter of my life! When I gave up my car it made pet sitting a bit more difficult and then when I started working temporary full time it just made it almost impossible. The two year break has been good and not sure I am keen to pursue the local petsitting thing on a regular basis...

The long term plan is to do some "long distance" petsitting. I am hoping to take care of a friend's dog in Chicago this fall...a way to see my friends before and after their trip, hang out with a very sweet dog and also explore Chicago at my leisure. I sure hope it works out. I am hoping with my network of friends worldwide to get into this more and more and hopefully for longer stretches of time once I finally stop working. (whenever that will be...) A way of hanging out with animals and experiencing North America and hopefully Europe/England like a native...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Quirky Austin

Well what can I say I absolutely loved Austin. I do want to go back someday. It is not your typical Texan town although not having been to any other place I don't know for sure. From what Sovay says San Antonio doesn't have the harmonous cultural mix that Austin does. (but I still want to go there!)

I met Sovay Monday morning - she knocked on our adoining door and said I've come to have tea! So I had my coffee and she made tea and we had a great chat. What a nice lady. I'd say she is in her 30's - she was born in Texas but raised and attended university in Washington D.C. She came back to Texas in 04. She is a hair dresser and also..she has a degree, owns five properties as well as her own hair salon...what a go getter! Very interesting lady. I will definitely stay there again. I wish we had had more time to visit but she was out of town at a family funeral most of the weekend.

Here is a link to where I stayed - for some reason my photos of her place are blurry - my only blurry photos of the trip....

http://www.airbnb.com/rooms/69352

She was having a wall put in between the units so Domingo, her handy man was there as well and he was a nice fellow too.

Anyway off I went to do the 10 km Bouldin Creek walk which is in the area I was staying. Unfortunately I had overdone it the day before (probably walked 12 to 15 km) and oh boy did my foot hurt. So I hobbled around and did the highlights of the walk which was about 7 km - I loved that area. Lots of neat shops as well as trailer food courts. These are trailers selling food all in one area with seating, etc. Love to go in warmer weather and take in those as well as they are one of Austin's iconic features. I was able to stop at the local branch library and print off my boarding passes so that was good. I do love libraries. I am a library groupie I swear..I cannot go past one without stopping in and checking it out. (plus they are good for a nice clean loo) I guess because I am such an avid reader and all those books....I do love bookstores too!

I stopped at the Bouldin Creek Cafe as my foot needed a rest and I needed something more substantial in my tummy as the yogurt and papaya had worn off. I had scrambled eggs and a blueberry pancake/french toast thing..not quite sure what it was but it was good. The cafe was very different - it used to be a car repair shop and they still had the signs around. I love places like that! I forgot to mention that the day before I had breakfast at a place near my accommodation and the waiter said "My name is Brian and I'm going to hang out with you for a while". Thought that was different - but cute! Austin has a different vibe and I love it.

On I hobbled as I wanted to see the Welcome to Austin sign that is a mural on the side of a building. The walk had information about the various old homes along the way so very interesting. I definitely want to do that walk again when I can enjoy it more.

I stopped off at the Green Mesquite for a piece of pecan pie with ice cream - how could I resist...the staff was so friendly there as well. I'll be back!

I got back to Sovay's place and changed and freshened up and talked a bit with Domingo - luckily I got back in good time as the airport shuttle was ten minutes early.

I was (almost) wishing I hadn't had that lunch/pie as the Austin airport is incredible with small branches of their local restaurants. I had wanted to try the Salt Lick which is supposed to have the best BBQ in America but it is miles outside of Austin - well they had a branch there. However I just wasn't hungry enough. Lots of shops to look in. Even live music!!! You could spend a weekend there. I loved it as it's not a huge airport but very modern with everything you would need. I ended up buying a veggie sub sandwich to have on the plane to Minneapolis.

Flights were good and now I'm back and ready to move on to the next adventure....stay tuned.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A walk in the snow!

Today I did a 10km walk along the Lady Bird lake trail and to the Barton Springs pool. It was chilly today but I was shocked when it started snowing - didn't think it was THAT cold! Oh well better than rain and it didn't last long. Freaked out the Texans though! And today I was dressed for the weather so I was fine. Lady Bird lake is long and seems like a river to me and to make things more confusing there is a street called Riverview Drive beside it. ??? Anyway the Barton Springs Pool was interesting - the water is constantly 68F. Still too cold for me! There were two hardy souls in there swimming. The Springs is the heart and soul of Austin according to Sovay's dad...it was interesting to read about the history of it.

I went back to Whole Foods after the walk and had a piece of pizza..very good...bacon, peppers, chicken and blue cheese...my egg and toast for breakfast was long burnt off. I then carried on to REI - a sporting goods store like Mountain Equipment Co-op but I resisted and got nothing. I then went to the Book People which is a huge independent bookstore and I didn't buy any books but I did buy a coffee mug. I saw a cute Austin mug in Wild About Music and then at the Texas history museum and I said to myself if I see it one more time I will buy it - I did so I did!! I went back to Whole Foods and bought a few things - yogurt and fruit for breakfast tomorrow...aren't you impressed? I won't embarass myself by saying how long I was in that store looking around. I love it!

I had supper at the Green Mesquite Cafe. I had a BBQ sausage in a bun followed by peach cobbler with ice cream. Yum!!!

I have packed my case...I fly home tomorrow evening. Tomorrow I will do the Boulden Creek walk which is a neighbourhood very close to here. It looks interesting with lots of historical houses as well as shops/restaurants. Sovay has let me check out late - the shuttle will pick me up at 3. There is a library in that area so I hope to use the computer there and print my boarding passes. (I fly through Minneapolis)

I'm watching the Grammies now...I don't know any of these people or very few and don't think I care to.... but I am hanging in there for Paul...

Great day

Yes yesterday was a good day. Could not blog last night as the internet was down. Having a relaxing morning before I head out for another exploration.

Sovay is not around as had to go to a funeral but will be back today..she is the owner of the house. Her dad lives out back so I met him briefly yesterday. This house looks tiny from the front but goes way back...It is so quaint and interesting. You can keep your McMansions and ugly houses with two/three car garages...I would take something old and interesting like this anyday.

I headed off to sign in for the walk first thing yesterday morning - the walk box is very convenient so that's good as I will be back there today. I decided to do the 6 km downtown walk rather than the 11 km one as the 6 km covered everything I wanted to do and I knew I'd be spending time in the museum and state capital.

I also knew there was a farmers market on so made a slight detour to visit it. I got myself a half pound of coffee beans so now I am set..what can I say buying coffee beans when I travel is one of my things but it's a nice memory when I pull them out of the freezer to grind. I also got a small bag of pecans...not sure if they will be leaving Austin in my suitcase and or in me. Also got a pear/pecan spread....I might share that.....Anyway I enjoyed looking at the different booths. Lots of lovely veggies but did not feel like cooking back here even though I could if I wanted to. If I was here longer than three days I would but trying to fit all my required food items in!!! I had a breakfast taco - bacon, egg and cheese - which was delish as well as a coffee. Up until that point I was walking on an empty stomach. They have an area set up for people to sit so even though it was cold out I sat outside in the sunshine. Can't do that at home. Luckily I had taken an extra copy of the walk as I lost mine at the maket... I then carried on with the walk stopping into the shop Wild About Music - wow what a place. I treated myself to a wild coloured pendant with a keyboard on the side. They had everything and anything to do with music; it was awesome. Austin's downtown isn't the most thriving but better than some I've seen. On to the state capital - I didn't take the official tour but took a brochure and read that. Very interesting. I always go inside the explore the state capitals...if I am making the effort to walk all the state capitals I should look inside them. It was beautiful inside with a gorgeous star (Texas Star) inside the dome. I resisted the urge to give the picture of George Bush Jr the finger. :)

The 6 km walk turned around at that point but I carried on to the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum. WOW WOW WOW. If you ever go to Austin do NOT miss this. I loved it. So interesting to learn more about the history of Texas and very interactive and easy to read. Not dry and boring like some museums are. I vaguely knew they had been part of Mexico but not all the details- very interesting. I knew about the Alamo because I was a huge Davy Crockett fan as a small child. (I still have my coon skin cap somewhere and I can sing the Davy Crockett song on request) Going to the Alamo in San Antonio someday will be like a pilgrimage for me!! I also paid to go to the Spirit of Texas theatre to see a 15 minute film on the history of Texas...the gal sitting next to me on the plane said I had to see this. She said it was amazing but she did not want to spoil my visit. Well sorry I am going to spoil your visit because how many of you will be visiting Austin? Thought not. Well....not only did the seats rattle when they had hurricanes (and have cool breezes in your face as well) but when they showed a locust invasion you actually could feel something brush the back of your head!!! But the worst....they showed rattlesnakes on the screens and yep, they had a puff of air or something come up from under thes seats like a snake coming at you - everyone in that theatre yelled/screamed including me!!! Great fun!!!!

In all that excitement I lost my walk instructions...DAMN. (insert strong Texan accent here) So from then on I had to wing it. I walked through an area with beautiful old homes and then on to the Whole Foods store. Oh my....can I move in please? I am going back today as I did not have time to look too long. By this time I was feeling peckish so bought a small container of sweet potato corn chowder which was really good - sat outside in the sunshine again. Then I started heading back to South Austin but got a bit misplaced - of course if I hadn't lost the instructions I'd have been okay...anyway got back here in time to do a quick change and head to the movie theatre.

It was the coolest thing...every row of seats had a narrow table in front. You put your order on a rail and they picked it up. Having just had soup and knowing I was going out later I opted for wine and popcorn......I had to have wine because how often can you do that at a movie theatre? I am tempted to go back tonight only don't think there is anything else playing I want to see. Tailor, Soldier, etc. was okay - a bit complicated to follow at times as some of those spy thrillers are. I am glad I went just to experience the whole restaurant/bar/movie thing.

I then headed over to Uncle Billy's for some barbeque - had beef with sides of fried okra and potatos salad. Should have had corn instead of potato salad, don't know what I was thinking. I forgot that fried in this area means deep fried so the okra was breaded and deep fried. I was thinking sauteed and I do love my green veggies....anyway it was okay. The place was hopping being a Saturday night so had to sit at the bar but was a good girl and had a lemonade. One drink when I am on my own is enough.

Next I am off to find a place to have breakfast....I'd love biscuits and gravy or something like that. I am planning to do a 10km walk today around Town Lake and like I said go back to Whole Foods. As well as a huge independent bookstore called Book People and right by it REI - the US version of Mountain Equipment Co-op.

Beautiful blue sky yesterday but a bit on the dull side today..so far...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Howdy from Texas Y'all!

Well after a pretty sleepness night worrying over whether the taxi driver would show up and other things (amazing how bad things seem at 2 a.m.) the driver showed up bang on time and I got to the airport and luggage checked etc. and time for a coffee and scone. The flights were good - I flew through Dallas/Fort Worth.

I had booked a shuttle so got door to door service. I usually like to take public transit but it sounded too complicated so I decided to make life easy for myself.

The house is darling. Basically I have half the house - the front half - kitchen, living room/dining room, bathroom and bedroom. Sovay, the owner is in the back I have yet to meet her as she is not home yet. I must remember to go out and get cream as she has left coffee here and loads of stuff. She has at least one dog but no barks - just heard tags jangling and panting. Very well trained! I am sitting on a leather couch as I write this with a huge wooden coffee table in front of me filled with magazines/info on Austin. Awesome! I have a flat screen TV in my bedroom...who could ask for more? I just have to remember there are two terracotta steps down into the kitchen.....:)

I think I am going to like it here. You gotta love a place that has huge ceramic guitars at their baggage claim - first time ever I've taken pictures at baggage claim!!!! Austin is known for it's music scene and I hope to catch a live performance as long as it's not country!!!

After I got here and freshened up a bit I walked around the neighbourhood a bit. I already bought myself a movie ticket for Tinker, Tailer, Soldier Spy at the movie theatre three blocks away. I will go late tomorrow afternoon....it is a theatre that sells drinks and food so should be interesting. I can drink a glass of wine and eyeball Colin Firth - not a bad combo I'd say. :) The other showings were in the morning when I will be walking and at 10:30 p.m. - I think not I will be tucked up in bed!

I had supper at a Mexican place at the end of the street - sizzling beef fajitas with a peach margerita. The margerita has gone right to my head. Wow. Not sure how much longer I will be up!!! Not a good combo with no sleep....

The lady next to me on the plane said I must go to the Texas history musuem so that works out well as my capital city walk goes right by there - I plan to do that tomorrow. Can't wait to start exploring!

I arrived to sunny blue skies when rain was predicted...fingers crossed!!!!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I gave up Paul for birds and otters....

Well today was my last day in California...tomorrow I fly to Austin, Texas for three days. Paul McCartney finally got his star on Hollywood & Vine. I knew nothing about this when I booked my trip. At first I was excited but then reality set in...a three hour trip EACH way - two busses and two trains...standing for hours and probably not even seeing him. I dithered all week but finally decided no I would not make the trek to Hollywood. I must be getting old...or maybe just gaining some sanity - who knows. Six years ago I camped out all night in New York City to get him to autograph a book...had a blast but I don't know that I'd do that now. Ugh...I AM old! Anyway I am glad he got his recognition at long last.

This morning I went to the Sugar Shack in Huntington Beach for breakfast - had a "lite" breakfast which as scrambled eggs, hash browns and toast. The Sugar Shack was voted best breakfast 'in the OC' for several years running...it was good but of course what I had isn't exactly gourmet fodder. I was debating on a pastry and coffee but it was lucky I had something substantial as I did't get a chance to eat until 6 pm.

After breakfast I went to the Huntington Beach library to get my boarding passes for tomorrow...well she could not program the computers for people who did not have library cards. She had to phone IT, etc. so needless to say I could not get my boarding passes. She said it was the first time that had ever happened. Of course!!!

I got the bus to Long Beach. Met a couple from Australia at the bus stop who were on their way to Venice...California that is! And were to come back today....And I thought I was bad for thinking of Hollywood. Good Luck with that! Oh yes they wanted to stop in Hollywood on their way there!!! A few people on the bus were helping them- the bus drivers are not the most helpful at directions. I think they were going to rent a car in the end....anyway I went to the Aquarium in Long Beach. It was pretty good - not as good as the one in Atlanta or the former one in New Orleans but still good. They had lorrikeets which I love - I purchased some nectar so had a couple on my hands and I guess one was riding around on my backpack. :) I love birds so it was a real thrill - I haven't had a close encounter (as in having them crawl on me) with lorrikeets since I was in Australia in 1985. They are so pretty. I could have stayed there a LONG time. I must have caught the last of the hungry ones as some people after me had nectar and they almost had to chase the birds to have some!!! The sea otters were adorable as well. It was well worth the trip. I was able to take the #1 bus up then had to transfer to another one downtown. I saw the Queen Mary from a distance. As luck would have it there was a library downtown so I was able to print off my boarding passes - had to apply for a temporary library card so a bit of a hassle but it all worked out...not many seats left by then - none on the aisle which is where I prefer to sit for easy access to the loo...I am in window seats. Nothing asked about my luggage so I assume I check in and pay at the airport? I guess I'll find out!

There is a walk in Long Beach but I opted not to do it as it was pretty hot out - perhaps next time I am in the area I will do it.

Back on the bus to Huntington Beach where I saw my last ocean sunset off the pier. Beautiful as always. I also watched the surfers as Huntington Beach is Surf City, USA. Lots there - I admire them. I wouldn't try that in a million years and of course you have to be a strong swimmer to even attempt it. Let alone the thought of jaws out there...no thanks.

I had supper at the Aloha Grill which is a Polynesian restaurant on Main St. in Huntington Beach. Oh my - it was really good. I had a mahi mahi fillet with a peppercorn sauce on it with sticky rice and sauteed veggies. With a terriyaki sauce on the side. Very good. I also had a Mango Mai tai. Originally I had sat outside on their balcony but there was a very loud drunk woman out there so I moved inside where it was a bit quieter. So a special meal for my last night - very reasonable as well. I looked at the menu at the Rusty Pelican again and decided no - a little too expensive for my budget. Okay for a treat but when you are on the road for a couple of weeks you have to watch the money. Well I do anyway!!!

Back here on the bus and busy packing my suitcase.

I have booked a taxi for 5:40 a.m. Sure hope he turns up - the receptionist here at the hotel recommended him - she said he's very reliable - she uses him. So fingers crossed he doesn't sleep in!!! Or I don't!!! My flight takes off at 7:30 - I go through Dallas/Fort Worth and get into Austin mid afternoon. I have booked a shuttle to take me to my air bnb apartment - it will be interesting to see what awaits me!!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Beach day!










The sun came out again today (yay!) so off I went to the beach...well a few beaches! First off I hopped the bus down to Huntington Beach and had breakfast at a Hawaiian themed place. It's so nice to sit outside for meals...

I realized I had forgotten to take pain meds and did not have any on me so went to CVS pharmacy and got a big bottle of Aleve. I wanted to buy some more anyway. I just missed the bus so walked up to the dog beach but not as much activity there today. I then got the bus to the Bolsa Chica Wetlands which are in the north end of Huntington Beach. I found it quite boring to be honest....and my eyes were peeled for snakes - not my favourite critter....so I went back to the bus stop which happened to be on the beach. So I stood and watched the surfers. There is a walking path that goes from that bus stop and just carries on down the highway....I think you could pretty well walk to Laguna Beach on walking paths/sidewalks. Awesome!

I got the bus south and went back to Balboa Island and saw it in the sunshine. Beautiful!!! I love the cottages - some owned and some holiday lets. It is so quaint. I took the ferry over to Balboa beach. By this time it was noon so had a chocolate covered frozen banana - well I have to get fruit in my diet! I found a quiet little area off the main road and it had three delightful sculptures of children - really sweet. I love when you discover things like this that are off the normal beaten track.

I walked along the beach at Balboa (had my sandals in my backpack) and then paddled in the water. I could see the Newport pier in the distance today (didn't even realize there was a Newport pier until I saw it on the map last night) so took a bus down - was too tired to walk today. I am so glad I did as I loved the area. Another beach walk and a walk on the pier....I saw a restaurant nearby called The Crab Cooker that looked intriguing. By this time it was past 3 p.m. and I'd had nothing but the frozen banana since 8 a.m. The menu looked good and as I opened the door a couple came out so I held it open for them and asked if it was good. They said wonderful - you will love it. And love it I did. I ordered a skewer of grilled shrimp and scallops with potato and coleslaw. It came with homemade tartar sauce and a lemon sauce. Oh my my. It was one of those meals you keep saying Oh my god all the way through. Definitely one of the best meals of the trip. It was a very casual restaurant - meals were served on plastic plates, drinks in plastic glasses. All their seafood is fresh and the processing plant is right across the lane from the restaurant. I seem to be making a habit of "lupper" - a combo of lunch and supper. By breakfast I am pretty hungry though!

I then took the bus back to the hotel and headed over to the beach across the way to see the sunset. As I walked onto the beach I happened to look to the side at the beach houses and there was a dog and a cat sitting on a ledge...it was too cute. I asked the owners if I could take a photo - I said "I guess they like looking at the sunset too" The sun slowly set beind Catalina Island - fantastic!!!

Now it's R & R time - the bus service being what it is going out at night is difficult and to be honest after being out in the sun all day I am tired! I think I am off to the Long Beach aquarium tomorrow..hoping for another sunset view tomorrow night but not sure where.

One more day and then it's off to Texas. I am excited to start exploring another new place but sad to leave this beautiful area and my beloved Pacific Ocean.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Where did the sun go?

It disappeared today but they tell me it will be back tomorrow - hope so!!! It was a bit on the chilly side today - yeah cry me a river I know...but compared to the day before. I actually had to wear my jacket and it rained on and off but nothing serious. Most of the rain has come after I was in for the evening.

This place is noisier than the Art Hotel - let's just say the walls are like paper and leave it like that....

Anyway I had a light breakfast at Cappy's next door - just sourdough toast and coffee. Then I hopped on the bus and got off along the highway and walked downhill to the coffee shop where the Balboa/Newport Beach walks started from. I grabbed another coffee and sat outside at a table and went through all the walks. I decided to do a 5km as the weather was very iffy and when they predicted rain I thought they actually meant a bit of a downpour....silly me. Anyway the walk was very nice - walked over a bridge to Balboa Island and then took a ferry over to Balboa and walked along the ocean and to Balboa Pier. Strolled through a deserted amusement park - nothing sadder than a closed for the season amusement park....despite the dreary weather I did enjoy the walk. Newport Beach is very upscale to put it mildly....

I went back to the start point and got a muffin for lunch. Pineapple and orange - yum yum. A pigeon thought so too....I was busy reading a map of a 5 km walk and looked up and there was a pigeon eating my muffin. Cheeky sod! He was determined and he got about a good third of it. I flapped my hands at him but he kept on gobbling and would not move for anything and I didn't want to be bitten - I hope he enjoyed it. Oh well, less calories right?

I decided to do a 5km walk backwards to avoid the hill I had just come down to start the walk...ha ha...never a good idea with me. I got way off track - oh well what I did do was a nice walk but not the Back Bay area I had intended!!!

I got a bus to Fashion Island to check out Bath and Body Works - I retrained myself and got very little...I didn't want to haul it to Texas and then back home. Fashion Island is an upscale outdoor shopping centre - the only reason I went there was that it was the closest one to me. In my goretex jacket and waterproof pants I am sure they were ready to call the fashion police! I then had a late lunch/early supper (3:30 pm) at the Cheesecake Cafe - never been before. Had a California cheesesteak which was good. It was chilly and just did not feel like roaming around finding a place to eat...I know lazy lazy.

I was going to go to a laundromat but the logistics of taking the bus and walking were daunting so now my room looks like a Chinese laundry! Thank goodness for quick dry t-shirts - I should have brought more with me. They are ideal for traveling.

Tomorrow I plan to do a 10km walk in Balboa and then perhaps head down the road to Huntington Beach again....we shall see.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Movin' down the road


Walk/bike path along the beach - Huntington Beach


Busy little sandpipers - Huntington beach




Pier - Huntington Beach



Dog Beach - Huntington Beach

First thing this morning I grabbed a little clementine and went over the road to Crescent Bay park. I sat and watched the ocean and listened to the seal lions on Seal rock - they were quite vocal this morning. (seals are quiet - sea lions are the vocal ones. Also a bit of trivia...dolphins are the only other mammals besides humans who mate for enjoyment....two or three times a day...no wonder they look like they have little smiles on their faces!!) Anyway once again I digress....a lady was doing some exercises at the viewpoint. She asked me if I'd like my picture taken (just had my little camera sitting beside me while I ate my clementine) so I said sure so she got three of me in different places - one by the Seal sculpture. It was great. She asked where I was staying so I told her and she is great friends with the owner.

I checked out and got on the bus to go down the road to Newport Beach. The designated nut case was on board. I thought he was a friend of the lady he got on board with and was ranting to her about his ex girlfriend. But no she got off (quite relieved I imagine) and he carried on ranting about her to everyone. Never a dull moment on the OCTA bus. Anyway got off at the Newport Channel Inn - I knew I was early and due to the marathon the place had been full...so they stored my stuff and I went to the cafe next door for coffee and toast.

I then got the next bus to Huntington Beach. I knew the start point for the walk was north on Main St. so I was three blocks up when I spotted a post office...so I went in holding the door for a lady with packages. Got a few stamps and as the lady and I were leaving I asked her if she knew how far Yorktown road was - well she said I am going that way I will give you a lift! So she did...it was great. The people here are so friendly - I am always having chats with people and am never lonely at all.

I signed in for the walk and stamped my books and took off. I already knew the 10km walk was out as no way did I want to walk what we had driven...BORING. Normal strip malls that are anywhere. So I followed the 5 km route with about 2 km extra....Anyway walked down to the beach and along the path - well here it was the dog beach. And you know how I'd hate that!!! I thought my face would split in two I had such a grin on my face. I might have to go back again it was so much fun to see such happy doggies. I carried on along the path and ran into a fellow on a bike loaded down with all sorts of saddlebags, etc. - turns out he was on his way back to Denver after 7 months of cycling down to Costa Rica and back. He had no problems in Mexico or Costa Rica until he got to San Diego and was robbed.

Lots of surfers out and about...hubba hubba. Nice young men in wetsuits - gotta love it. I nearly asked a couple of especially nice looking specimens if I could take their photo but chickened out.

I walked the length of the pier and back - in daylight this time. It was cloudy today but it made everything kind of misty and dreamy - very pretty. Huntington Beach has to be seen to be believed - the beach is beautiful and white and just goes on and on. Not the rocks or cliffs of my beloved Laguna Beach but pretty for what it is. Of course this time of year the beaches are pretty well deserted - it boggles the mind to think of the summer and all that space full of bodies. I prefer it now.

I then went to Wahoo's Fish Tacos and had a fish taco and a shrimp taco. I had been wanting to try a fish taco and it was very good. So that was lunch/supper.

Looked in the shops a bit but other than that not much going on...it's mainly the beach there. I then started walking on the path - got as far as Beach Boulevard and the path still carried on. I could not see a sidewalk along the highway and thought oh dear I had better stop now so turned back on the sidewalk and got the bus. Well turns out the path carries on and then over the bridge and into Newport beach and turns into a sidewalk. I could have walked back here! I am going to try and do that one day if I have time....

Checked into the motel. It is noisier than the other place as am closer to the highway so the ear plugs will be coming out tonight! However it is a very nice room - big with all the mod cons and a flat screen TV. (you have to understand I stay in hostels a lot so having my own bathroom and lots of room is absolutely a treat) Not that I am a TV person - all these channels and nothing on but politics, stupid reality shows and sports. YUCK. I have left the TV on and thought what crap is this and it was a show called "Love and Hip Hop". Geesh! I have enough going on in my life I don't need to watch someone else's trainwreck of a life.

I went over to the beach opposite and it goes on for quite a while so more beach walking coming up. I can see the Newport Pier in the distance....

What can I say, I am still loving it here.....

Tomorrow rain is predicted...typical weather for this time of year. The locals have been saying this is unusually warm for this time of year. No complaints from me - after three weeks of no sun in Europe I am appreciating good weather on a holiday!!!!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

I was a good girl..











All the above photos were taken at Crystal Cove State Park



Yes I was a good girl and didn't do the race...it broke my heart but I kept busy all day.

I am sitting outside typing this...yeah it's a tough old life...

First off I had breakfast at a really funky place just a ten minute walk from here, I have been wanting to eat there. It's called the Madison Garden Store and Cafe and it's got everything but the kitchen sink in there. A lot of buddhas and a ton of fountains...luckily they have a toilet! I coudn't see a thing anyone would actually want to buy....but I took picturse of the crazier stuff! I had a bagel with fresh fruit and a lettuce salad. Sorry I could not eat a salad at 8 am.....but I enjoyed the rest. Back to the room and hurray the wifi was back on...it was off last night and earlier this morning. So I was able to look up the bus times for today...

Off I went - Seal Beach was my destination. We had to take a detour through Huntington Beach and I was able to see the half marathon runners staggering along with their SURFBOARD MEDALS AROUND THEIR NECK..SOB!!! Oh well. I was entertained by a young woman opposite me who talked to herself the whole time...well she got on the bus yelling "I ain't go no damn phone - dial 911" and she also yelled it to a man getting off the bus with his small daughter "if he touches you call 911" and then carried on chattering away in two different voices. Oh yeah....there seems to be at least one crazy allotted to each bus ride..quite sad. This girl was clean and well groomed and seemed harmless enough - obviously she has issues and a history.

Anyway Seal Beach itself was a disappointment...there was a surfing contest going on so that was interesting. I must say the bus drivers here are pretty useless at telling you info - I asked if I could get to the pier and he said yes...well would have been nice if he'd said go up another stop as that was the direct route down to the pier and where all the shops/restaurants were so at least was able to enjoy looking in them on my way back. The beach was nothing like the ones here at Laguna Beach...pathetic actually...but I am glad I went there.

Anyway back on the bus and off I went - was able to get a closer look at the motel I will be at until Thursday night - another beach across the highway - yay. I have picked out a place to have my last meal..called the Rusty Pelican - don't you love it? This motel is more isolated than this one as in not a lot around it however Huntington Beach is less than a ten minute bus ride away so that will be good. I will be doing a walk there as well as at least one in Newport Beach.

Next stop....Crystal Cove state park...parking is $15 but if you walk in free...and walk in I did. Wow, it was beautiful. I had my sandals with me and had put them on at Seal beach so off they came and I walked along the sand and paddled in the water which was cold but not too bad. I loved it! There is a section of old beach houses - people have been coming there for years. I have seen it going by on the bus and kept thinking I must go there and so glad I did..a real highlight. It is a rocky beach but so gorgeous. I had a bite to eat at the Shake Shack with a view of the ocean then I walked along the path by the highway and over to an upscale shopping centre. My destination was Trader Joe's - I love that store. I didn't buy much at all but it was fun looking. Back on the bus here. Luckily I had my MP3 player with me so sat and listened to Beach Boys songs...very fitting!!!

The sun should be setting soon here in paradise. I am avoiding restaurants tonight with the Super Bowl on so bought some lobster sushi at Trader Joe's to have later. The joys of having a fridge!!!

Tonight it's time to pack up and leave this beautiful little hotel in the morning...I will miss it. I could never afford to stay here in the summer but winter rates are acceptable.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Another day in paradise











Top: Sunset from Crescent Bay lookout
Middle and bottom: Mission San Juan Capistrano



It was a warm one today..whew! Not complaining, not complaining!!!

I walked over to the beach by the hotel this morning and then up on the Cliff walk which I love. Never get tired of it. Over to the boardwalk at the Main Beach and then had breakfast at the Greeter cafe by the beach. The Greeter is named for a fellow from Denmark who lived in Laguna Beach from the 40's on - in 1963 he was named official greeter of Laguna Beach! His likeness is on two statues in the city. Anyway I sat outside and had a avocado, bacon and cheese omelette. Very nice - how often can you have that?

From there I walked over to the Laguna Bus station where I met Cindy (see previous post)...I took a bus to Dana Point and then had to change busses. Well how the other half lives - I actually got in an elevator to take me to a walkway over the highway and then an elevator down and there I was. I took a picture and joked to the lady sitting there this is so posh. Well we never exchanged names but we had a great conversation. She was impressed I was bussing it everywhere and enjoyed seeing all facets of Orange County. She said most women who come here just want to shop and see nice things - I said I've travelled a lot and I want to see everything - warts and all as that is what life is. She told me about traveling by bus and train in the area. She travels by public transit into her job in LA every week day. We chatted all the way to San Juan Capistrano - she caught the train and I went into the mission. It was beautiful - I love the Spanish adobe style. Spent about 45 minutes there checking it in and taking photographs. There was an audio tour included but the line was too long to pick it up and I knew I was more interested in the architecture than the history of it. This is the place where the swallows arrive on the 19th of March and leave on the 23rd of October....well so they say....

From there I started the 5 km walk. Not the most exciting but I knew I would not have time or energy in the heat to do a 10km walk. The last part was the best - going through the Los Rios historic district. Many people live in the small bungalows and have fixed them up to be very unique and there are quite a few shops and cafes as well. A very interesting area.

I took the bus back to the Pacific Highway and then the #1 bus back here. I changed and then headed over to Crescent Bay overlook to watch the sunset. Beautiful as always!!! I then managed to get the bus - it pulled up just as I arrived at the bus stop...perfect timing for once. I had a small pizza for supper due to a lack of anything else I wanted - it was good however.

Then took the bus back here.

Now I have to work out a plan for tomorrow..no clue right now what I am doing...but I know what I'm NOT doing..a half marathon. I am blocking out the thought of that beautiful medal and envisioning very sore feet, knees hips - the training has not been there. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought of trying to do it...about a hundred times a day....BUT... I have not done a long walk since Boxing Day....oh why oh why did Eddie have to fall on my foot. It is getting better I must admit. I don't want to ruin that by trying to do something I am not trained for.

Her name is Cindy

And she's homeless. I met Cindy at the Laguna Beach bus station. She started chatting to me - all excited as someone from a restaurant had brought over a few packaged meals for her and some of her friends. We got to talking...she said she needed a hair cut and I said it looks pretty short and she said "it has to be really short as I am homeless" She went on to tell me that at one of the shelters another woman grabbed her hair (it was long at the time) and started pulling it so now she makes sure it is very short. She doesn't sleep out at night as it is too scary...she spends the night at Denny's for the price of a coffee so she feels safe. She is disabled and uses a cane. I don't know how Cindy ended up on the street...I know she does smoke and that goes with an addictive personality. Most homeless people smoke...so it could have been drugs, alchohol...who knows. As the saying goes, a lot of people are just a pay cheque away from homelessness. The last I saw of Cindy she was asleep on the bus...someone had given her a 30 day seniors bus pass.

Cindy never once asked me for money but I gave her ten dollars. She was thrilled to death and said she wanted to hug me - but didn't - I told her to buy herself something to eat. Maybe she will do that..maybe she won't.

I feel very grateful - for having wonderful parents who brought me up with love and kindness, for having a good job, good friends and good health. Don't judge anyone until you walk in their shoes.

Note: a good friend pointed out to me that Cindy could be homeless due to lack of affordable housing. Very very true and something that is very pertinent in my own city as well.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Flippers!!!

Well today was another full day....I attempted to have breakfast here. Now that I've got cream for my coffee (I have a little fridge) I can drink it here (life is too short to have powered creamer in your coffee). I had bought a pastry and a yogurt....well I nuked the pastry a bit too long and it was inedible and it was interesting trying to eat yogurt with a stir stick. I then held the yogurt up to my face and was squeezing it to get it in my mouth....just glad there is no video footage of THAT!!!

Anyway I set off on the #1 bus along the Pacific Coast highway - destination Dana Point which is about a half hour from here. As luck would have it the bus stopped opposite the start point of the walk - I was expecting a walk but the highway is one way at that point so it goes down Del Prado which is where I had to sigbn in. I signed in for the 5km walk. I lucked out again - it went right by the harbour and past the whale watching place. Anyway knowing this I took my time and stopped at Coffee Importers for a coffee and bagel and cream cheese. I had a Hawaiin bagel which had pineapple and coconut in it's crust. It was quite good. Lots of people were sitting outside enjoying their coffee - and so did I. I knew I had lots of time so sat and relaxed and people watched. Then I carried on and got my ticket and looked in some shops. I found a t-shirt for half price so could not resist.

The boat left at noon and I'd like to say I had a whale of a time but it was more a dolphin of a time. No whales...oh well. I have seen whales before so I was fine with it - felt sorry for those on board who haven't seen any. On the bright side we did see a huge pod of common dolphins - on the way out and the way back. It was magical - I have not seen that many since a boat trip off Cape Cod. Just two days ago there were lots but I guess it happens like that. They don't travel on our schedule. Also saw some sea lions hanging out on a buoy. I still enjoyed the trip - I love being out on the water.

After the boat trip I had a late lunch at the Jolly Roger restaurant which was beside the dock. I sat outside (of course) and had shrimp tacos - yum. I am trying to have Mexican food when I can as we don't have a decent Mexican restaurant at home and of course there is a lot of it here for obvious reasons.

I then finished the walk and went back to the start point and signed up for the San Juan Capistrano walk. It starts by the mission so I have worked out the bus route and will do the 5 km walk tomorrow. The 10km route does not look too interesting and there are other things I want to do tomorrow. I will visit the mission - found out it's not run by the RC church so I will go.....yes I have a problem with the RC church but let's not go there right now...I will just try to ignore the missionary part of it...yes I hate missionaries too unless they are helping people and not trying to convert them to christianity....hmmm...maybe I had better not go in. I know I was there in 1983 but can't remember if we went in or not. Yikes....

What I saw of Dana Point I was not impressed - yes it's very beautiful and lots of gated communities (which I hate) and everything new and clean but it had no character at all. I imagine there are parts that are more real, I hope so.

I went to the highway and sat and waited and waited and waited for the bus - it was nearly 25 mins. late. Sigh...but for me being a tourist and just doing my thing it works. I am patient - but tomorrow I will take my MP3 player! If I lived here I would have to have a car. I had to get to Huntington Beach to pick up my race package. Now for that sad tale...I am not going in the race on Sunday but damn it I paid money to go in it so wanted my t-shirt and to go to the expo and see all the vendors and buy stuff and get free samples. Finally got there...luckily no lineup to hand in my waiver and get my race bib...now that was a sad moment and I must admit I had a little tear in my eye but I will be back....30 lbs lighter and in fine form. (as long as another suitcase doesn't fall on my foot!) They had the surfboard medals there and oh my it is so nice...good quality too...I picked it up and fondled it....I want you baby but I will get one...I will I will.....however I know I cannot do it. I do not have the training behind me to get through a 21 km race. My longest was 14 km six weeks ago and my foot has finally stopped hurting...well for now....aside from it's normal problem....Anyway to console myself I got two new pairs of wicking socks - one pair with "walk on" written on them and one with ladybugs. And a tech t-shirt that says "Forget the glass slippers, this princess wears running shoes". Lots of stuff there and I only had 45 minutes to peruse it...if I'd been in the race I'd have bought something with Surf City marathon on it but like I say I WILL BE BACK. I do love this area.

Checked the bus schedule and I had to wait so walked the half mile into the main area of town and looked for a toilet. I did not want to use the disabled toilet on the beach like I did Wed. evening...creepy. So I saw an ice cream shop with one and realized no supper and it's got a toilet...so had a gelato with three tiny scoops of tropical, strawberry and double chocolate. Oh yum. Some people were most put out when they realized you could get three flavours and they only had one. It is the best ice cream I've had in a while - so that was dinner/supper. Real healthy I know...

I realize I have yet to see Huntington Beach in daylight but I will rectify that early next week and spend the entire day there . I had thought of going the day of the marathon but I think it will be too crazy busy and I'd rather save that for when I actually do the half. It's just with the entertainment and all....sniff sniff...I might cave and do it although I shudder to think how late the bus will be running with the distruptions...

I've seen the place I will be staying in Newport Beach and while it looks nice it is quite far away from everything so I am glad I chose to spend the two extra days here. (cancelled my hotel in Huntington Beach - being right there would have been too hard...I know bleat on some more about it Laurie...but doing that race has been my dream for years...) However it is really close to HB so I will spend next week exploring that area as well as Newport Beach and focus on the southern end while I am here.

Got the bus back and somehow missed my stop so had to walk back over a half mile...duh...

Tomorrow morning is the Farmers market in downtown Laguna Beach then on to the mission and hopefully sunset at San Clemente Pier.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What a fabulous day









Some of the highlights


It really was a fab day. I had a pastry (tiny) and a banana then headed out on the 10 km walk. Originally I had planned to do it backward with the ocean first but decided to follow it the correct way. After about 3 km I stopped and had a proper breakfast - I was looking at the map and realized it was a lot of beach walking so no restaurants. I tend to get carried away walking and while I always carry a snack sometimes it isn't enough. I am glad I did as there were hills and lots of stairs and not sure I could have done it on what I had eaten. So I had hueovs rancheros...eggs in a sauce on a tortilla. Very good. Then off I went - the walk went through downtown and then a residential/commerical area that wasn't too attractive - luckily that didn't last long. Crossed over the Pacific Highway and walked along a narrow street with beautiful homes and stairs leading down to the ocean. I stopped many a time to take photographs or walk on the beach. I loved it. The smell of the salt and the sound of the waves....sigh...wish I could bottle it. Ran into a fella who (gleefully it seemed) told me I had missed about a mile of dolphins jumping - by about half an hour. Oh well what can you do....

The walk then went along the Main beach boardwalk and then climbed up to the Cliff walk which was spectacular. I overhead a woman saying something about a whale so asked and sure enough there was one out there. I saw it blow and a little bit of black..it was something anyway. The Gray whales are now migrating north after spending the last few months in Baja, California feeding and mating, giving birth. All that fun stuff. (well not the giving birth part - can't imagine giving birth to a baby whale would be much fun...owie!!) The walk was fabulous and what was even more fabulous was that not only was the sun shining but my feet were happy.

I came back here to rest a bit - sat in the jacuzzi on the top floor for about ten minutes then back down here to sit by the pool and read for a bit. The pool was just a bit too cool for me. It was nice to relax.

I then headed off again - over the road and along the Cliff walk again to watch the sunset. Spectacular! I then went for an Italian meal which was simple but good. I then took part in the Art walk. The first Thursday of every month some galleries open with the artists there and wine/food. I was much more interested in the latter. (surprise, surprise!) Some of the art was beautiful but sorry I am a philistine when it comes to art and have absolutely no interest either. I like a painting or piece of art that looks like something. None of this crap that you don't know what it is. The craziest one? A whirring fan with a pen attached hanging from the ceiling. It was drawing circles or whatever over and over again. Give me strength.

So no bus today - I walked everywhere. My dogs are now whimpering a bit I must admit - I think I even heard one bark a bit. Oh well a bit of a rest tomorrow.

I have booked a whale/dolphin watching trip for tomorrow at noon. I plan to do the 5 km walk in Dana Point (where the boat leaves from) -not sure if before or after. I have a pastry and a yogurt (but no spoon so have to be creative...) for breakfast - don't want a big breakfast with going on a boat. I am quite excited. I have been on many a whale watching trip but it never loses it's excitement.

The owner of the hotel was telling me about a fabulous walk up into the hills so I might do that one morning too. It is going to be hard to fit everything in that I want to do! I guess I have to come back here someday.

I'm lovin' it!

Huntington Beach pier at sunset



Lovely Laguna Beach - this viewpoint was across the highway from my hotel

To quote McDonalds...yes I am lovin' it. Arrived on time into Santa Ana, the suitcase was there and was able to get the 2:05 bus (there is only one an hour that stops at the airport) Got a day pass for four dollars and I was off. I had to change at the Newport transit centre but I just stood in the sun and enjoyed. Then the bus down the Pacific Coast highway...went past a beautiful stretch of coast line so I must try to get down there at sunset one day. I saw the hotel and rang the buzzer...the bus driver said he wasn't familiar with the area...duh...you are driving a bus down the highway every day I presume...oh well.

I am staying at the Art hotel in Laguna Beach...the owners bought it a few years ago and put art work everywhere (well some of it is debatable as art but still nice). I am opposite the pool area on the second floor. The room is beautiful. Well when you stay in a lot of hostels being in a room like this is pure luxury plus a microwave and little fridge as well. It got rave reviews on Trip Advisor. Here is the web page: I'd recommend it as a reasonable place to stay and in a great area...

http://arthotellagunabeach.com/

I asked where ocean access was and the owner told me and said there is seal rock there and I've talked to them and the seals are waiting for you Laurie. :) So of course I dropped my stuff off, brushed my teeth and was off. Mustn't keep them waiting! First stop Crescent Park outlook - a five minute walk from here. What a view! Seal rock was out there but it's far enough away I could just see a few lumps - but I could sure hear them! I wish I'd brought my zoom lens with me but I didn't....:( I was there for quite a while - I got a bit teary eyed. I do love the ocean! It was a magnificient view. And to think it's so close to me...as I said before I'm lovin it! Definitely must get there for a sunset view.

Anyway from there I carried on to the start point of the walk - had a bit of trouble finding the walk box at the grocery store but they helped me locate it. I signed in and took a copy of the walk and will do it today (Thursday). As I was walking out I saw a bus coming and on a whim jumped on it - my goal was to see the sunset from Huntington Beach pier. Well needless to say I missed it. The trip there was...well let's say interesting...it was packed - I managed to get a seat when someone got off at the next stop. At the Newport transit centre a huge fellow got on - he was obviously mentally ill/homeless - I am not sure. He had to be at least 350 lbs and absolutely filthy. I have never seen or smelt anything like it...people in the bus were gagging - two girls had their hoodies over their faces. His nails were long and filthy - let's not talk about his feet as he was wearing sandals...his slacks had holes in them and I sure did not want to look there too closely. I was mouth breaking and I did not want to offend him so I put my hand over my face like I was in deep thought! Of course he was standing right by me. Poor fellow, obviously he had problems. I saw him later in Huntington Beach sitting on a bench smoking and drinking his coke. (or whatever was in the coke bottle..) The bus driver yelled at him to move to the back as she was suffering too and she mumbled I should kick him off but he stayed on until Huntington Beach but at the back of the bus. Well let's face it if you can afford a car you have one in California - it's not a hub of public transit. I know I would sure have one. I knew this but did not want to be driving the freeways and then again do I really need one...I just plan to mainly travel up and down the Pacific Coast highway and finding parking is a pain. I got a 7 day pass for $20 - you can't beat that....

Anyway by the time I got to Huntington Beach the sun was down but still pink in the sky so enjoyed that then walked down Huntington Beach Pier trying to ignore the marathon signs...I had my evening meal at Ruby's a fifties style diner. Had a strawberry lemonade and a cheeseburger and fries. Got my naughty meal out of the way....but oh it was good. I love it when they toast the bun! :)

I then took the bus back in the dark....very very tired but happy.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Halfway there..

Well I am sitting in Vancouver airport - free wifi..woo hoo. I am officially in the U.S. now - have cleared customs..yep they let me in. Oops better not joke about that...they might haul my ass out of here. Anyway a landmark day...for my passport anyway...the last time it will be stamped. Cdn passports are such a ripoff - only five years and really you only get four and a half years out of them as your passport has to be good for six months after you enter most countries...it's not quite six months until mine expires...shhh...

Made a fool of myself at security - even though we were in a secured area had to go through security again...so had to drink my nearly full bottle of water quickly muttering about well I won't say.....Anyway went through security and asked why my backpack hadn't come through - it's a blue one and these people came through after me and....uh...sorry, it's right beside me on the floor... Cringe....why do I keep doing this to myself. Someone joked I should go to Starbucks and get a large coffee. :)

Just had a freshly made for me veggie sandwich - if I don't eat now I won't eat again until about 7 pm my time at the earliest. I am not spending money to eat packaged airplane food.

Vancouver airport is huge - I started off the wrong way to U.S. departures but that was okay - lots of time and I saw some beautiful Inuit carvings. I wouldn't have seen them otherwise. Westjet was not too informative about where we should go...or that our plane was carrying on to Vancouver - they kept talking about Calgary until we landed. I had to ask a flight attendant to ensure I was staying on the same plane.

But on second though I think I do need another coffee.....