Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"No sharing!"

On our way to Denver, we attempted to go to the Coors Brewery in Golden, CO but it was closed (thanks a lot, website...)  Vowing to go back the next day, we continued our journey to Denver.  We absolutely loved it!  Denver is so nice with a lot to do.  After visiting here, we will definitely be adding it to our lists of possible places for a career.  We parked and headed to the first Thai restaurant we saw, Wild Bangkok.  Stuffed with delicious food, we set off to walk around the 16th Street Mall downtown.  We stopped in Niketown, Forever 21, and Starbucks (surprise, surprise).  We took a stroll to the beautiful capitol building and then back to the car to look for the University of Colorado… instead, we found Trivoli Student Union.  Thinking it was the CU hotspot we explored, we discovered that this was not the main campus for CU, and the union was actually shared with two other schools.  Not wanting to waste a trip, we set off to find the art building.  On the walk there, we found a renovated gallery that was currently displaying the work of an architect; one of his buildings turned out to be Christine’s favorite house in Palm Desert!  After enjoying student work in the art building and a quick photography moment with a campus cathedral, we headed to Melanie’s apartment.
The rest of the night was filled with reminiscing and swapping stories about studying abroad in Spain to Jess’ laughing delight.  Mel treated us to a scrumptious dinner at the Cherry Cricket in downtown Cherry Creek, a bar & grill featured on the Food Network for their burgers.
The next day Christine and Jess headed back to downtown Golden for a free tour of the Coors Brewery.   The bus took us on a mini-excursion around town to see the largest cobblestone building in the United States, the murals of the five historic town figures and the road to Buffalo Bill’s grave.  Dropping us off at Coors, we saw one of the original copper kettles that was used for fermentation back in the day (which was a Wednesday).  As usual we were questioned about the legitimacy of our licenses since our birthdays are only two days apart.  After gaining approval we set off on our audio tour around the brewery.  We were surprised by all the different brands they produce along side their biggest seller Coors Light (like Molson, Killians and Blue Moon to name a few).  During the tour we received one taste of beer and then after we had THREE FREE BEERS!  Success!  Christine tried Batch 19 (a pre-prohibition brew), Colorado Native (only available in Colorado), and Winter Fest (only available in certain test markets, of which Denver isn't one of them.  Jess tried Batch 19, Winter Fest, and Killians (yes I am already well aware of the taste of Irish Red, I couldn’t resist a free one, on tap, straight from the brewery).  After way too much money and time in the gift shop, we headed to Boulder!
Pearl Street is where it is at in Boulder!  This street is precious in appearance and jam packed of unique shops and restaurants.  Yes, the rumors are true, many hippies reside here (the summer must be hopping with people).  Our first stop on the street was a little vintage store.  Christine bought a few shirts and Jess found a knit hat and a Beatles record (YAY!)  We then enjoyed some happy hour sushi with soup and tea to warm up.  We then walked to a cute poster store where Christine found six postcards she couldn’t live without.  Unfortunately, since we are poor, we had no cash and the woman only took credit cards for $4 and up.  Well, these six postcards only cost $3, so C offered to grab a couple more cards, but the woman insisted she just have them for free!  :)  After a bit more walking around we were cold again, so the only reasonable solution Jess could think of was Starbucks.   We asked the barista if the University of Colorado was worth a stroll.  He replied, “if you are bundled for the cold” looked us up and down and added, “so no you shouldn’t go.”  Taking his advice, we headed back to the car.  Along the way we found a cool art gallery that had inspiring quotes from artists and authors all around the perimeter of the building.  To wrap up the trip we attempted to drive around campus and then headed back to Melanie’s.  For dinner we enjoyed a Mediterranean meal.
The next morning we woke up with Melanie at 6 in the morning (sweet Lord that was early).  We gathered up our things, packed the car, said our goodbyes and hit the road by 6:45 a.m.  A Starbucks stop for breakfast and we were off on the painfully dull trek across Kansas.  Rain and flat farms as far as the eye could see.  Lovely.  There was excitement on the horizon, the OZ Museum (and Winery J) so, of course, we took a detour to explore.  Just in the nick of time!  We had about fifteen minutes before it closed.  The place was full of Oz artifacts dating back to 1900 from all over the world.  There were books, posters, movies, plays, board games, shoes, and even a haunted forest.  After we got our fill, we ran through the rain to the OZ Winery.  The labels were hilarious and the were samples free. Needless to say, we pulled up a chair at the bar and quickly made friends with the girl working.  After many samples, we each bought a few bottles.  Christine got Click!, OEO, and Emerald City Lights.  Jessica bought Yellow Brick Road, Witch Gone Good, Squished Witch, and Lion’s Courage (and received a free tote!).  She then kindly recommended another winery on our way, so we stopped there too.  At this winery they have a ton of wines we had never seen, including Elderberry, Elderflower, and Rhubarb.  So good and so strange! Nothing like a couple wine tastings before a hockey game, right...?
 
Finally arriving in Topeka, Kansas we grabbed a smoothie at Juice Stop (HOORAY) and then headed to the rink to support RoadRunner hockey.  After a misunderstanding at will call, we found our seats and watched the boys win.  The post game party was at Old Chicago.  As Eric helped himself to the player buffet, we order our usual (beer and pizza J).  Stuffed, we headed back to Judy and Merlin’s home to catch up and hit the hay. 

The next day we woke up to Judy offering to make us breakfast (best waffles ever, thanks, Judy!)  Eric got home from the morning skate and stretch and we all headed to Panera then the movies to see the new Denzel flick Unstoppable (we definitely recommend it!) Night #2 of RoadRunners hockey was much rowdier than the first.  The most exciting part, Eric played the last seven minutes of the game after the other goalie was ejected from the game for fighting... and hitting another player with his blocker (yikes). 100% saved shots!  Great job Eric J  The RoadRunners pulled off another win, with many fights to entertain the crowd.  After we headed to the Blind Tiger to celebrate the victory and once again ordered way too much food.    Exhausted, we all headed to bed.

On our last morning some of us had a bit more trouble getting out of bed than others...  At last we were ready to go to lunch at HuHot (like BD’s Mongolian Grill).  Jess unfortunately, spent most of the meal comparing it to her old place of employment.  HuHot wins the seating battle with more space and booth options and on scrumptious Asian-themed appetizers, but Mongo wins on sauce, market area choices in general, and entertainment (they used spatulas at the grill - lame).  After a few errands we headed back to the house to say our goodbyes and to bring flowers for Judy’s birthday J  Sad to get back on the road we definitely dragged our feet, not leaving until 4:30 in the afternoon.  Whoops.  See you in St. Louis!

Memorable Quotes:
M: "I didn't like beer until I became a teacher."

M: "MISS LIM NEEDS A DRINK!"

J: "Can I just have half a glass of Killians?"
Coors Bartender: "Sure! Want me to fill up the top half?"

J: (to Christine) "Gotchya!"
C: "I was in the picture?!"
Hippie: "Don't take a picture of me until I put my face on!"

Coors rule: "NO SHARING!" 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Pure dirt, pure fruit. That's what it's all about.

You'll see this arch later :)
Moab, Utah turned out to be surprisingly nice.  We scored a sweet deal on a great hotel room and were right down the street from Arches National Park.  The woman working the entrance of the park was so excited to be working and very helpful (no, we aren’t being sarcastic for once) which made us even more excited to explore.  We were able to check out a few exhibits before hitting the road again, including Balanced Rock - so crazy seeing a HUGE boulder that appears as though it will fall on you as you walk the trail around it!  Turns out, it will fall in a few hundred years, (like the rock that used to be it’s neighbor) since the rock that makes up the support system erodes at a faster pace than the rock that the boulder itself is composed of.  After a windy walk and a few pictures, we set off for the main attraction, Delicate Arch.  We opted for the vista point trail to save time, which ended up being about a mile hike.  A friendly hiker advised us to continue past the trail to the edge of the “huge slab of rock”…  well, the edge of that rock was the valley right next to the arch.  It felt like we were on the edge of the world.

After driving through the breathtaking Rocky Mountains an hour longer than anticipated, we arrived at the new home of Meredith in Gypsum, Colorado!  Greeted with screams and hugs, we spent the night catching up.  We met up with Derrick and headed out to dinner at one of the fine establishments of Eagle, Colorado.  After a beer, delicious bar food, and cowboys we headed home.
Yin and Yang

The next day, Meredith headed off to work and we planned on hiking around Hanging Lake, a lake nestled in the mountains.  Unfortunately, by the time we got our behinds out of bed and loaded up on Starbucks, a snowstorm had taken up residence in our area.  Seeing as our hiking skills aren’t exactly that of an experienced climber in such weather conditions, we decided to head to Aspen instead. What a cute ski village!   We parked and wandered the streets that were home to thrift shops and Gucci.  We popped into Peter Lik’s photography studio and were quickly informed that he is the latest top photographer in the world (Jess will definitely be watching his upcoming television appearance).  

We also had the great pleasure of finding a wine shop (leave that to us, right?)  The Colorado-native worker was such a blast.  When he asked if we were looking for anything in particular, Jess simply answered, “Honestly, something from Colorado and that has a cool label”.  Boy, did he deliver.  We found a great bottle for Meredith from a local winery just up the road from her home, a bottle for Melanie from Spain and a couple of bottles for ourselves.  Our last stop in Aspen was Peach’s, a cute café on the corner with a great view of the ski resort, where they served chicken soup like mom makes; perfect for a cold Colorado day!

That night we headed out for a night on the town.  We met up with Derrick after he had a day of skiing (so jealous!) and wandered around downtown Vail.  Unfortunately, a lot of the shops were closed since the ski resort isn’t open yet.  We did manage, however, to entertain ourselves in the touristy shops and investigated the ski gear.  Expecting to see the Polar Express as we rounded each Christmas-like corner, we settled in a bar for a few beers and entertaining segments on ESPN. 

Switching to another bar, we received cards for the pub-crawl and enjoyed delicious food.  Backtracking to the first bar to get our well-earned stamps, we then attempted to go to the whiskey bar, which was closed to Christine’s disappointment.  So we hit our last bar (never making it to all eight needed to win a ski mask), where we met locals, worked on crossword puzzles, and watched the UFC fights on TV (well, sort of) as the Av’s lost.  We said, “bye, bye, bye” to Derrick and then the three of us went back to Meredith’s house to hang out with Ricky Bobby (the stuffed bobcat).

The next morning, we woke up as Meredith left for work to say our unfortunate goodbyes until Christmas.  Next stop, Denver!

Memorable Quotes:

C: "what's the state slogan for Utah?"
J: "I don't know, 'Mormonism!'?"

J: "I NEEDED A MONOCHROMATIC COLOR SCHEME!"

The Wine Man: “Wicked juice!”

D: “…But to you I’m saying, ‘Hello, hello, hello’!”

J: “Cheers to Marcus …who?”
M: “Dupree!”
J: “Like Jermaine!”

Bartender: “It’s casual mustache Tuesday.”

Bartender: “It’s all in the beard, warms the synapses.”

C: “Must be a slow sports night…”

D: “Look at those nostrils…he probably doesn’t have to blow his nose, his boogers just fall out.”

M: (In reference to The Great Bud v. Bud Light Debate)  “I’ll bet my life on this beer being Bud Light…I’ll bet our relationship!... …because it is my life?”

M: "Bob Barker reminding you: help control the pet population. Have your pet spayed or neutered.  Goodbye, everyone!"

Monday, November 8, 2010

"... did you add the water?"

Sad to leave California, we set out sights on Scottsdale, Arizona.  A very flat, dry and boring 4.5 hour drive later, we arrived at Christine’s aunt & uncle’s BEAUTIFUL home in Desert Mountain.  Happy for the change in scenery and elevation, we enjoyed a delicious dinner before hitting the hay.

The next morning, the Glassbergs gave us a tour of the Desert Mountain community and we grabbed some coffee from the awesome C4 coffee shop.  We also drove through the city of Carefree to see the famous intersection of Ho and Hum streets.  Unfortunately, Barb and Andy had to head back to Michigan for an event, leaving us later that evening.  As we watched the sunset over Phoenix from the hot tub and ate the rest of last night’s scrumptious leftovers, we wondered what we were going to do without warm weather…

Upon leaving Scottsdale, we were Grand Canyon-bound! Along the way, we sidetracked to Sedona to see the famous Red Rocks Park, where, you guessed it, the scenery is a gorgeous shade of red from the mineral deposits in the soil.  From there, we proceeded to the Grand Canyon, where we JUST barely entered the South Rim of the park before sunset.  The lighting isn’t exactly what we were expecting, but, hey, we still made great time.



The next morning was full of exploring the SPECTACULAR South Rim of the Canyon.  Upon first glance, we both absolutely fell in love with the scenery.  We’re still awe-struck by the massive scale of the Canyon (it’s almost a 200-mile drive from the South Rim entrance to the North Rim) and are convinced it’s something every American should see.  It’s so hard trying to put so many miles of postcard-esque scenery into words and our pictures will never do it justice.

Like Glacier National Park, a single street directs traffic to a series of viewing points within the park, allowing us to see the Canyon from multiple angles.  Of course, being the adventurous explorers that we are, we didn’t stick to the marked trails and ventured out on our own.   A few highlights for us included seeing the Colorado River that has sculpted the Canyon over time, hiking down one of the trailheads and wandering into the Watch Tower. 

Crossing Arizona, we entered the large Indian Reservation that occupies the entire northeastern portion of the state, known as Navajo Nation, although other tribes also have reservations in the area. Navajo Nation apparently didn’t love us as much as we loved it.  For the first time, about 11,000 miles into the trip, we were pulled over… not by a city cop, not by a county officer, not by a state trooper, but by a Native American, Navajo Nation patrolman   As he politely asked Jess to step out of the car, he chatted her up as he called in her license information (since Navajo National patrol cars aren’t equipped with computers) as his drug dogs scrambled around the back seat, scaring the life out of poor J.  Despite cruising an estimated 15mph over the speed limit, we’re happy to announce that we’re still ticket-free, even though Jess was issued a formal warning for the first time in her driving career, bringing Jess’ tally to 5 times being pulled over, 0 tickets issued.



Escaping Navajo Nation, we headed eastward to the only spot in the United States where you can be in four places simultaneously – the Four Corners monument!  We we stood in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado at the same time (even though the monument is in New Mexico and we’ve heard rumors that the monument location isn’t geographically correct).  Despite being in the middle of nowhere, we’re happy we stopped.



From there, we traveled to Moab, Utah in search of our next hotel.  Until then!

Memorable Quotes


J:  "technically, it's eating in..."

C: "what do you suppose one trades at a trading post?"
J: "NOT husbands!"

C: "good thing we weren't doing anything else illegal..."
J: "... like what?!"
C: "i don't know... talking on the phone or something...:
*stares*

Friday, November 5, 2010

PROP 19

Well, the second half of our stay in La Quinta has gone by far too quickly for our liking.  After our tram trip, Christine planned a trip back to, of all places, Detroit.  Before we knew it, Jess was dropping Christine off at the airport for a trip to Michigan to interview with Team Detroit.

Christine had the worst flight of her entire life back from Phoenix to Detroit. Not only was it the redeye, which only worsened the jetlag, but she was seated next to a child. Knowing how C feels about children, being seated next to one was obviously bad enough.  What made it worse was that it SCREAMED the entire 3.5 hours home (literally, the entire flight) and the parents didn’t know what deodorant was.  So bad, in fact, was the stench that the people seated in the row behind us passed up a bottle of Axe… it didn’t go over so well.

Bright and early the next morning, C crabbily got in the car and headed to Ann Arbor to visit her brother Jeff, cousin Sarah, and friends Eric and Danielle.  After seeing more than enough blue and yellow, she decided the next day that East Lansing was the only remedy.  Lunch and coffee with Kristy was great – and so are her plans to build a new home – congrats!  C also wandered MSU’s BEAUTIFUL campus with Jon and picked up Miss Mary from class and headed to our fav hangout spot, Biggby (obviously).

Day #3 at home was interview day, as C was Dearborn-bound for a second-round interview with Team Detroit – an ad agency made up of five separate WPP agencies specializing in different facets of advertising and public relations.  She got the job!

During these same four days back in the desert, Jessica exhausted her ability to entertain herself.  Without Christine, things in La Quinta seemed pretty dull.  Let’s just say these four days involved a lot of takeout, Target runs, cable, yoga, pool time and pumpkin carving.  (When Christine got back the pumpkin had become slightly moldy on the inside.  She didn't see the humor in this.)



After that trip we had about a week and a half left in Palm Desert.  We spent most of them at the pool attempting to soak up as much sun as possible in hopes that we will still be tan upon our return to Michigan. 

For our last Saturday in bliss, we went on a morning hike through a nature preserve.  Jess and Christine showed up at the information station to meet their fellow hikers.  Upon arrival we were a tad intimidated by the other hikers, all of who were much more experienced, prepared and… elderly.  After signing a waiver, we all set off on a hike through the canyon that held part of a bighorn sheep preserve.  Unfortunately, we never saw a sheep, but we did see a lot of desert salamanders and a hare.  We also learned a lot about the area and the plants.  John, our fearless guide, literally knew EVERYTHING.  We ate flowers that tasted like cucumbers, learned about different species of cacti and the “wait-a-minute” bush (nicknamed this due to its thorns’ ability to keep people from passing if they got to close).  We hiked to the top of the waterfall and then back just in time to make it to the sports bar to watch the MSU football game against Iowa (we don’t want to talk about it).  We said goodbye to our Ohio State friends and then headed back to the house for more pool time (no we do not want to talk about the game). 

Jess took her last sunrise adventure to Joshua Tree National Park.  She left much earlier than last time, around 4:30 a.m. so that she would be able to get to the Joshua Trees by sunrise this time (since they are only located in the northern portion of the park).  Unfortunately, her no-sleep-plus-Starbucks-jitters made the creepy trip out there by herself a tad more difficult; the smoke bushes were blowing in the wind and hares were running across the street.  Needless to say,  Jess wasn’t feeling it.  So change of plans, off to the Salton Sea!  It was in the middle of nowhere, but it was unique.  Her feet were cut up thanks to what she thought were seashells, turns out that they were small salt formations that looked a bit like barnacles.  Along with the salt, the beach was also full of dead fish.  White birds were all along the coast, pelicans, sea gulls, and egrets.  Definitely glad she went. 


Our last big adventure in southern California was a trip to Los Angeles to see the Jimmy Kimmel Live! Anberlin concert.  We decided to drive out there a bit early to get dinner and then scoot on over in time to get a good spot in line. 

The Mexican restaurant, Yuca’s, we had picked out using reviews from TripAdvsior.com was supposed to be the fifth best restaurant in L.A.  It was a hut in a parking lot… how does no one mention that in their review?!  The food was great though, haha.  No but seriously, the tacos were delicious and cheap.  The bummer was that it didn’t waste nearly enough time, as we planned on a standard, sit-down Mexican restaurant, so we journeyed over towards the concert location and found parking and, most importantly, a bar.  After a couple of margaritas and witty discussion over the integrity of the Hard Rock Cafe with a bartender who thought Christine was his little sister, we headed towards Jimmy Kimmel’s studio.  After waiting in line for a bit and going through metal detectors we were ready for a great show!

The band was so grateful for the showing of dedicated fans as Stephen told the crowd, “this is a night I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”  Anberlin played their single “Impossible” to close out the Jimmy Kimmel Show, then played four other songs (two new, two old) in a mini-concert for fans.  (To watch the concert yourself please click: http://abc.go.com/watch/clip/jimmy-kimmel-live/SH005455790000/PL5520981/VD5595518/anberlin---we-owe-this-to-ourselves/moments)


For our last day we woke up super early (haha) and headed to the nail salon for mani-pedis J  Next we picked up some sushi at Sam’s Sushi (apparently this is the spot where the young people go…perfect timing discovering that on the last day).  After delicious food, we enjoyed the pool with margaritas and beer to celebrate our journey and Christine’s success.

Dear Michigan,

See you soon.  Jess is terribly sad she missed fall but now she is tan (well for her) so she doesn’t completely regret it.  Hopefully we will make up this winter with a white Christmas and skiing.  Christine is very excited for the beginning of her career, and didn’t miss you very much at all.

Until Arizona!

Love,

Christine and Jess

Memorable Quotes:

C: “I think it’s right around this corner…”
John (tour guide): “What? A bird’s nest?”
C: “No… a people nest…”

Anonymous: “that took awkward to a WHOLE new level.”

Hiker 1: “how did that get here?” (Referring to naturally occurring desert plant known for causing hallucinations)
Hiker 2: “Prop 19.”

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"DECAF!"


Terribly sorry this post has taken so long! We’ve just been so busy trying to deal with such a stressful life  here at PGA West; the schedule over the past two weeks has been quite hectic.  Everyday we wake up (Christine earlier than Jess most days, unless Jess never goes to bed – unusual behavior…), make coffee and breakfast, check our email and Facebook, decide if we want beer or margaritas that day and carry that drink (along with towels, rafts and sunscreen – which constitutes the very important heavy lifting part of our daily exercise) to the pool.  After a few hours of hanging out & lounging in the sun, we trudge all the way back to our house (one house away from the pool) to shower and make lunch.  We then fit in as much CSI or SVU as our busy schedule will allow until we decide if we should make dinner or dine out.  Post dinner we like to relax as a reward of our hard day of work by watching CSI, SVU or quality reality shows (J is now a dedicated “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” viewer.)  Needless to say we, have been swamped.

In spite of all that, quite a bit has happened since we last wrote.   Christine’s parents were here for the first week of our stay as Mr. Rohrkemper finished up business in San Francisco at Oracle’s Open World conference and Mrs. Rohrkemper, well,  just needed a vacation J  We spent hours “job searching” as the parentals played golf at one of the PGA courses.  We reunited for drinks at the pool and lunch, followed by some downtime at the house as Peg prepared a FEAST, or we got dolled up and headed out for a night on the town.  C & J, on back-to-back nights, SCHOOLED the Rohrkemper’s in Euchre, being down 2 games to 0 and coming back with three unanswered game victories.  Who’s next? J



We also discovered that “the people come back to the desert with the grass – in November,” which explains the severe lack of neighbors in our community (let alone ANYONE near our own age).  Both the Palm Springs and College of the Desert street fairs were nearly vacant.  We watched the Spartans conquer Wisconsin from the Elephant Bar, decked out in MSU gear, as Peg couldn’t understand why 3 minutes on the clock meant another 10 minutes of football.

Once the parents left and we were officially alone in the desert, we actually did some job hunting (yes, really, believe it or not.)  Christine scored two phone interviews, one of which has her traveling back to Michigan next week for round two.  Who would have thought we’d have to drive all the way to California to score a job back home?  Jess has been working on her hardcover portfolio and sorting / editing / organizing all of her beautiful photos from the road trip (check out her Flickr page! http://www.flickr.com/photos/provokingvocation/ or look at the rotating photos on the top right of our blog page!)

Heading to the Beer Hunter in search of Spartan football and cute boys, we hit the town, again, decked out in green and white.  Unfortunately (well, for them, anyway), we were seated next to a retired UofM professor and his wife, who obviously didn’t share our enthusiasm as Robinson was picked off in the end zone, turning the ball (and the game) over.  We did meet guys… too bad one of them tried to use his four-year-old child, Isabella, to get to Christine’s heart (bahahahahahahaha), one gave his business card and the third told us his entire life story regarding his famous soap opera star ex-wife.  We struck out.  

The next week was a blur of pool, sun, margaritas and errands.  Christine ran errands as Jess slept all day, and Jess went to Joshua Tree National Park at 5:00am as Christine slept all night.  As a testament to her love, J brought back C a “present.”  When C asked to see it, J announced that it was “more of an outdoor present” and that it was waiting outside.  This is what it was:



Yes, really, a tumbleweed.  Casper was so thrilled to have this in the trunk... 

To celebrate homecoming weekend, we bought enough breakfast ingredients to feed the masses.  C awoke Jess from her coma-like state at 8:30 a.m., only to discover that we couldn't watch the game on TV. We also discovered that we're both so lazy, we slept in our MSU gear so that we didn't have to change once we woke up... Fortunately, one of C’s awesome Twitter friends shared a link so we could watch the game online; too bad Jess only saw the first half!  Side note: sports bars here open at 9:00 a.m. so that everyone can watch the midwest & east coast games live! :)

Monday we traveled to the famous Palm Springs Aerial Tramway so that Jess could see what everyone had been telling her about.  We jumped from about 20 feet above sea level in La Quinta to more then 8,500 feet while being carried through San Jacinto State Park.  From the valley to the mountains, the temperature drops approximately 40 degrees, making it one of the few places in southern California that has snow during the winter, sporting winter activities like snowshoeing.  We also observed the California grey squirrel (we think) and successfully managed to avoid mountain lions (to Jess's dismay).  A delicious Thai meal in downtown Palm  Springs capped off the day.

Memorable Quotes:

C: "The nearest taco bell is THREE MILES away?!"

J: "I just found this thing that says 'If you go home with them, and they don’t have books, don't f*** them.'"
C: "...I don’t have books..."
J: "…maybe that’s why you haven’t gotten any in a while..."

C: "All I need are gummy bears, water and a pee break..."

C: "Well, I hate kids, so that's that for me."
J:  "I hate people who have kids by other bitches. I don't want drama with another mama."

C: “The tree should smell like vanilla or butterscotch according to this sign”
J: “I don’t smell it…”
C: “You don’t smell it?!”
J: “No… it is a ‘scratch & sniff’ tree?”

C: "'SAY YOUR GODDAMN PRONOUNS!" (quoting Murder by Death)
J: "No wonder this is your favorite movie..."

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"And then he burst into flames..."

A record high temperature of 113 degrees welcomed (?) us to sunny southern California.  Yes you read that right, one hundred and thirteen degrees.  The place was literally bursting into flame as we drove towards UCLA as fire ran rampant along the highway.



Christine absolutely fell in love with UCLA!  If grad school is happening, it will be happening here.  The campus was BEAUTIFUL; it was like MSU in that it was contained to one area, but better because LA is right next-door.  Hello, options!  After a quick field day in the student union exploring the many varieties of t-shirts, we ventured back to Casper to finish our trek to Rancho Palos Verdes.

We took a quick pit stop at the Starbucks, of course, to write and post another blog update.  This, however, was not just any Starbucks; it was a Starbucks with a VIEW!  The patio out back had lots of seating and a glass railing with an amazing overlook of the homes in Rancho Palos Verdes and the ocean at sunset, sigh.

Next stop was Nancy and Michael’s home, just around the corner from Starbucks.  Kate and Ollie, their massive dogs, greeted us at the door, and so did Michael with glasses of delicious white wine from his store.

The next morning, we hit the ground running as we sped towards Los Angeles.  After checking out the Kodak and Chinese theaters, we hung out with some of our closest friends including George Clooney, the Victoria’s Secret angels, The Beatles and Chuck Norris on the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard. 

Footsteps of Michael's grandfather, Lou Costello!

Next stop was the beautiful Griffith Observatory, where we looked to the right and saw the Hollywood sign (…yes, really) immediately before realizing that, due to recent city budget cuts, the observatory was no longer open to the public on Tuesdays. We were able to walk around the observatory, seeing its incredible architectural details, and got the best view of the city.



From there, we headed to Pasadena to see the Rose Bowl.  To our disappointment, we were informed by security that since the terrorist attacks the stadium is no longer open to the public (sensing a pattern, here?)  We snagged a quick photo, dodged being hit by a truck and set the GPS to the lunch destination of our dreams, Taco Bell.

Post-lunch, our happy tummies and us were feeling pretty ritzy and set our sights on Beverly Hills.  After realizing our clerical error in finding “Rodeo Road” instead of “Rodeo Drive” in the GPS (cough, Jess….cough) we found the real thing as poor Lindsey was stuck on the phone with us.  Let the parade of fancy cars, rich people and designer stores begin!

After getting our fill and realizing that we clearly didn’t belong, we returned to Rancho Palos Verdes for an incredible dinner of chicken, aged cheese, ahi tuna, the best broccoli in the world and wine prepared specially by chef Michael.  The warm air (well, cool for Nancy and Christine) and setting sun created the perfect atmosphere for our last night on the road.

The next morning, we departed Rancho Palos Verdes for the place we’ll be calling home for the next month, but not before reading Nancy and Michael’s sweet note and being gifted some beautiful celebratory champagne glasses to toast with once we both land real jobs (thank you, thank you, thank you again for EVERYTHING!) Oh yeah, we got some Starbucks for the road, too, just in case you were doubting our brand loyalty J

Next post from paradise, AKA the “Gem of the Desert,” La Quinta!

Monday, September 27, 2010

"Do you have an appointment? ... Do you have a friend up there?"



Wake up San Francisco!  We have finally arrived in the home of Danny Tanner and Rebecca Donaldson = success. 

First of all, a big shout out to Mr. Rohrkemper for hooking us up in the nicest hotel we have stayed in.  The Westin St. Francis in Union Square was AMAZING.  Chandeliers, marble, and bell-hops; not exactly LEED Gold but we’ll gladly take it.  After a long drive after a long day our hotel room was heavenly.  We jumped on our beds for a bit with excitement like eight-year-old girls then hit the hay so we could conquer the city bright and early.

We didn’t exactly have the early start we were hoping for, but with two whole days to explore San Francisco and beds that were too far too comfortable to leave, we easily justified the extra rest.  Finally setting out around eleven, we headed straight for the food (shocking, we know) at Fishermans Wharf and snagged some fresh clam chowder in a home made sourdough bread bowl.  After enjoying our soup with a view of the marina, we headed towards Ghiradelli Square for, you guessed it, more food. 

Ghiradelli Square was delicious.  The chocolate aroma alone fills you up, but we didn’t let that stop us.  By now you have probably noticed we enjoy food, so this portion of SF was AWESOME.  We each got a scoop of ice cream (the one scoop was so big we needed bowls to hold the part that wouldn’t stay on the cone, hoorah).



Next, we put our professional caps on and hit up some local businesses that fit each of our perspective industries, snagging business cards and mingling with the receptionists.  We stumbled upon SB Architects and were very pleasantly surprised with the interior space, but not as much as Gensler – INCREDIBLE!  Although the doorman tried to stop us from heading up, we managed our way into the elevator and chatted up the receptionist, who told us the history of the coffee warehouse that housed the modern-day offices.

C was stoked to learn that her dream firm, Edelman, had a San Francisco office, and that it was just a few blocks away from Gensler on Market Street.  After our hard work, we relaxed with some happy hour treats before heading back to the hotel.   Our legs screaming at us for the miles of (CRAZY) up and downhill walking, J headed inside as C went shopping at some Union Square boutiques.

The next morning, ravenous, we visited Chinatown for some delicious authentic Chinese cuisine as C oogled the beautiful jade jewelry lining all of the store windows.  From there, we set off for the famous Lombard Street, housing eight tight, winding turns in a single block.  I’m not sure how, but we somehow managed to get our out-of-shape asses up the seemingly 75 degree sloped hill and were greeted by an outstanding view of the city.   After being passed by a young, blind woman and an elderly woman (with cane), we realized just out lazy / out of shape we really are... :( Tired and sweaty, we headed back down the hill towards the Wharf, found the nearest Starbucks and plopped down for some iced drinks to cool us off.



Apparently missing the Oktoberfest festivities that had been promised to us by streetlight advertisements, we arrived at Pier 48 to find… nothing.  Agreeing that we did NOT want to do the Lombard Street hike again, we waited for over an hour to catch a cable car, completing C’s first touristy visit around San Francisco.  Four full cable cars later with zero success, we grouchily braved the mountainous terrain back to the hotel.



In an attempt to kick our butts into gear, we wandered Union Square, stopping in almost every shop we saw, but not before we snagged some happy hour delicacies from an Italian bar.  Too many purchases later, we got a sushi recommendation and immediately stopped in for a late dinner. 

We’re SO sad to be leaving San Fran L  See you in SoCal!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"You're from Australia. What does a platypus look like...?!"

One dozen states later, we arrived in sunny California (even though it was dark out by the time we actually entered the state...)  Crossing the border to California apparently is a bigger deal than entering any other state.  Border control (aka the agricultural checkpoint) prohibits bringing any fruits or vegetables with you.  Jess apparently didn’t understand the question when asked if we had any produce and simply replied, “…we have cheese…”  We actually had just bought $90 worth of fresh veggies and fruit in attempt to eat healthier and save some cash.  Whoops... 

The next two days were full of driving.  We stopped in Crescent City, CA first.  Our hotel selection there was, well, not the best.  Our judgment was so poor that C made J check the closet and under the bed for murderers before chugging a bottle of wine in hopes of educing a coma for rest.  Unfortunately only one of us slept well.  Thankfully there was a Starbucks right next door to wake us up for a long drive after a bad nights sleep.  Highway 1 was full of fog.  We were not pleased.  In the morning we drove through Redwood National Forest full of, you guessed it, more fog (oh, and really big trees).  The fog / tree combo was actually pretty cool to look at.



Our second stop on our driving spree was Ft. Bragg, CA.  After a long day of curving around cliffs (amazing, although C seemed a tad uneasy no idea why) we decided to explore the cute historic downtown region.  Getting our excise in we walked the mile to the shops.  Apparently we missed the memo that all the shops close at 5 pm.  So we of course grabbed a beer and onion rings at the local brewery.  Walking home, we were so full and without any entertainment we decided to spend the night bonding over Keeping Up With The Kardashians and introducing Jess to the world of Jersey Shore (J is even more worried about humanity now). 

The next day we arrived in Napa!  Jess (and I’m sure all of you ID girls) had a design-gasm as we walked through the front doors of our AWESOME hotel after realizing that it was certified LEED gold, complete with meters in the building that showed the hotel’s water and electric use. Woo!  After a spectacular dinner in the hotel’s restaurant, we hit the hay, post watching the brand new episode of Law & Order: SVU, resting up for a long day of wine tasting.

Bright and early, the Platypus Tours bus arrived at our hotel, picking us up as we began our journey to the first of four exclusive wineries in the Napa region. Biale Vineyards was our first stop where we sampled the famous Black Chicken zinfandel and learned a lot about different kinds of grapes. 



Our second stop was the Tudal Family Winery, our favorite stop of the day. We enjoyed a delicious picnic lunch set up by our awesome tour guide, John, and heard the rich family history of the vineyard.   Matt, the founders’ grandson, poured us varieties of their tasty red wines as Jess became quick friends with the adorable, 3-legged Cheyenne.



Third stop: Ballentine Vineyards – what a treat!  In addition to a delicious wine tasting, we were also lucky enough to participate in a barrel tasting from our awesome vineyard guide, David.  He also explained to us how expensive barrels can be, and why they acquire the wine-stained color in the center portions.  Then, we got to sample RAW grape juice hot off the press, a first-time experience for both us and John.  Feeling very… content… we hopped back on the tour bus, dug into a platter of cheese and crackers and took off. Napa’s only Kosher winery, Hagafen Cellars, was our last stop on the tour.   

In true dramatic fashion, John raced the wine tasting bus back to Napa so that our New Hampshire friends could catch the last ferry back to San Francisco.  BARELY making it on time, the eleven of us cheered them on as they raced onto the boat in the nick of time.

Being lame, we ate again at our hotel’s restaurant for dinner before setting off into the sunset, but not without our Starbucks, of course.

San Francisco-bound!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Portland, you sexy beast!"


Travel. Travel. Travel.  

After a long day of, you guessed it, traveling, we arrived in Portland ahead of schedule.  Luckily for us, Kelly had gotten out of work early so we didn’t have to improv nap in Casper.  She gave us a tour of her apartment and we set up camp.  Next, we met up with some of the other Oregonian interns and participated in a bedazzling party (yes, really) and watched chick flics while munching on yummy guacamole, beer and cupcakes.  We scoped out downtown Portland and sampled delicious Oregon-made beer at Rogue.

The next day, we headed west and checked out the gorge, Mount Hood and just a few of the beautiful waterfalls along the scenic byway.   The hiking trails made the waterfalls accessible at higher elevations, so, naturally, we climbed them, crossed architecturally astounding bridges and got soaked.  On the way back into Portland, we stopped a family-run produce stand and sampled delicious pears and Naked Winery’s wine tasting.



Upon arriving in Portland, we found a sports bar, and, to our surprise, other Michigan State Fans, where we repped MSU in our green shirts.  Beer and nachos kept us sane during the game, until Dantonio and the Spartans pulled the most amazing, ballsiest play, winning the game in overtime.  Needless to say, celebration was in order, so we headed back to Rogue and sampled more Oregonian beer and appetizers.

Waking up on cloud nine, we headed downtown to watch Kelly and the other Oregonian interns participate in a 5K run through the city as part of a Susan G. Komen event.  Post-race, we frequented the famous Waffle Window, where we sampled some of Portland’s finest gourmet waffles.  Yum!

Next stop: Cannon Beach. Incredible. Incredibly windy.  Our first view of the west coast coastline was AMAZING and we happily frolicked in the Pacific Ocean and sand. Jess was in heaven soaking up the sun and taking pictures despite getting completely drenched.  But hey, at least she got the shot.  Fascinated by a jellyfish that washed shore, Jess embarked on an excursion to find more sea creatures and managed to come across a few crabs (dead and alive) and a sand dollar (definitely dead).  Success.




Totally exhausted and disheveled, we headed into town to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant for dinner, where we shoved our faces with delicious Thai food until we couldn’t move.  Back at Kelly’s, we opened a bottle of wine (what’s new?) and Jess carved a pumpkin with a guitar-themed design to add some fall décor to the apartment.

The next morning we set out to conquer our last state of the trip, California. Until then!

Monday, September 20, 2010

"...Yep."


On the road, early, again?!  We’re really getting good at this whole driving-across-the-country thing.  This time, we set off to leave of love for nature behind in search of some city living.

We spent the night in Spokane (pronunciation: spo-CAN, for all of us non-native Washingtonians).  The city didn’t offer much in the way of entertainment, so we explored the beautiful Gonzaga campus, which had a very MSU-esque feel, but on a much smaller scale, of course.  Next, we headed to the enormous Spokane Valley Mall, where we both made a few purchases J  (C is determined to turn J into a shopper before the trip is over!)

Turning from irresponsible spenders into responsible adults, we did laundry in the hotel’s “laundry facility,” which consisted of one washer and one dryer for all 87 rooms…  Thankfully, we recycled the “pizza and wine night” idea and were content being reconnected to the world with free WiFi and bad TV.

The next morning, we traveled to Seattle and were greeted with an oh-so-expected constant rain and overcast skies.   We attempted to explore the famous Pike Place Market, but not before grabbing some Starbucks, of course!  Unfortunately, the market was closed, however, the Starbucks barista pointed us in the direction of some AMAZING sushi.  After dinner, we quickly realized that Seattle is BY FAR home to the most attractive men we’ve ever seen in our entire lives as Christine got her bearings around the city.




The next day, we returned to Pike Place and were overwhelmed with the amount of shops and stores the market had to offer.  The bouquets of flowers were amazingly beautiful and such a pleasant surprise.  Then the clouds parted as a choir of angels descended from Heaven to guide us home into the first Starbucks store ever.  Grabbing beverages, gift cards, mugs and whatever else we tourists could get our hands on, we explored Post Alley and more of downtown Seattle.  We had another divine meal – this time some Seattle chowder from a local restaurant right near the market. The constant ca-caw of birds and groups of pigeons scared Christine away, and, post-lunch, we watched the famous fish throwing in Pike Place and explored the Gum Wall in Post Alley.

Leaving downtown, we walked to the Space Needle, while getting completely drenched and crabby, as the locals failed to notice that precipitation was at all present. Seriously.  The view from the Space Needle was gloomy and gray, per usual, but the 360 degree view of Seattle was definitely memorable… as was the horrifying 43-second elevator ride each way…



To ease Christine’s stomach and to get Jess a much-needed pick-me-up, we returned to Starbucks, where, ironically, we found an interior design segment being filmed inside the store.  Once the caffeine was introduced into our bloodstreams, we roamed the city, again, doing some shopping while Christine didn’t complain about the weather (thank you, Jon Ganci.)  C tried to cheer Jess up with some mindless geography trivia… fail.

After roaming the city seemingly forever, we finally found Romy, a cute boutique where we both made purchase (win: Christine).  In the same building just happened to be a P.F. Changs, where we got delicious take-out dinners and were stunned when Christine received a hilariously strange voicemail, providing much of our evening entertainment.  The cliffhanger ending of Covert Affairs left us wanting more… guess we’ll just have to wait until next summer to see if Ben survives being shot.


The next morning, we cleaned our disaster of a hotel room and walked one block to the nearest Starbucks for one last Seattle coffee fix.  While the beverages were delicious, the lovely apples gave Christine an allergic reaction as we proceeded to hit the road. Not. Cool.

We decided to take a quick, uneventful pit stop at Mt. St. Helens on the way, not realizing that the park wasn’t open for tourists to roam.  On a good note, we were impressed by the state’s green efforts.  The public transportation system was easily accessible and almost everywhere we went had separate containers for compost items, recyclables and trash.  Our hotel even eliminated travel-sized amenities and opted for bulk-sized dispensers that could be easily refilled.  Trees and flowers were abundant, giving a suburban charm to the city.


Memorable Quotes:

J: “What do you think that guy is doing?” (pointing to statue)
C: “Hailing a cab.”
J: “He’s Chief Seattle, who the city is named after…”
C: “Oh, I guess no cab then”

C: (gasps)
J: “that guy was so cute”
C: “I was looking at the dog…”
J: “that guy had a dog?!”
C: “that dog had a guy?!”

Little girls from car window: “You’re pretty.”
C&J not caring which of us they were talking to: “THANKS!”
C: “I like this city…”

C: “three o’clock.”
J: “I think he’s gay, Christine…”
C: “no, the one on the laptop…”
J: “there was a laptop? I was too busy staring at Robert Plant’s new CD.”

Starbucks worker (Spokane): “Hey! You girls are in a much better mood than yesterday!”

C: “um…”
J: “...yep.” (moves to line with cute cashier)

C: “yum.”
J: “tattoos?”
C&J: “yep.”