Monday, September 29, 2014

Get Lucky In Kentucky

I am clearly a crazy person because I week before leaving for New Zealand, I travelled out to Kentucky. It all came about after Connor said, "It's too bad you can't meet my family before you go to New Zealand." And I said, "I've got a weekend."
When we landed in Kentucky, I noticed that the Kentucky themed shirts were printed with the words, "Get lucky in Kentucky." There was an outline of the state and a horseshoe. I imagine they were talking about horse races.

The three days we were there were packed. Connor's sister picked us up and we went to a Crackerbarrel where I ate catfish for the first time. I quite like catfish. We then went to his parents' house, which was built a bit before and after the American Civil War. It even has a name: Mount Lookout.

After visiting with his parents, we took a walk around the farm. I've always wanted to climb up one of those round hay bales, but never had the chance... until now! Connor was kind enough to show me the method of getting up. I'm a bit shorter than him, so it took me a few tries to get up. A few, rather undignified tries. Eventually I got up.

Being from California, most fire related things are off limits because everything is so dry. But that night, Connor's brother, Mason, and cousin, Keenan, came over and we had a bonfire. There isn't a good sense of scale in this photo, but the fire was much taller than me. Afterwards there was a discussion about fireworks. Fireworks were procured. Connor and I watched Mason and Keenan lean over the box, mutter to each other, then take some over to where we would launch them, mutter some more, ending with, "Good enough." It was an excellent night.

The next day I visited with people a bit more. But in the afternoon Mason, Keenan, Connor, and I went canoeing up the creek that is by their house. We paddled up, dragged the canoes over various obstacles, like cattle gates, until we couldn't go any further. Then we grounded the canoes and walked up the creek some more. We came upon crayfish battling. It was then that I realized that I was the only one with open toe shoes and there were lots of large crayfish around. I asked for a piggyback ride to safety.
On our way down I caught a few frogs and Mason pointed out buckeyes. I started to collect them and Connor asked, "Are you collecting them because they are pretty?" Me: "No, I want to throw them at Mason and Keenan. Is that ok?" Connor: "Yes." The mission was dubbed Operation Buck You In The Eye. After all the boys helped pull the canoes over the last cattle gate, Keenan and Mason got a better start than Connor and I, so he and I paddled like hell to catch up. After ramming their canoe with our own, we started hurling buckeyes at them. There will be a rematch in the future. But for now, Connor and I hold the upper hand.
We all smelled like frog afterwards, so showers were had before going out for dinner.
This is where we put in the canoes

The last full day in Kentucky, I met Connor's best friend Joe. We went to a Steak And Shake. (Another thing that isn't in California) Connor said it was "their" restaurant. I asked if they ever split milkshakes. We all laughed about how Joe liked the Strawberry, Connor like the "Nana" and when their straws touched they had a moment. We talked about life stuff well into the evening. Later on Connor said that it took having Joe and I in the same room to realize how similar we were.

On the way to the airport the next day, Mason was kind enough to take a Bourbon County jumping picture for me. This is the county where Bourbon was invented. (The liquor was named after the county) and I thought it was pretty neat that the creek that ran by Connor's parents house was used for the first Bourbon.

All in all, it was an excellent trip. I hope to go out again in the near future. It will have to wait, though. Today I arrived in New Zealand.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Whirlwind Yosemite Trip: Part 2

In the morning the boys and I explored the area. We had found our tents at night, so we took the opportunity to enjoy the surroundings. Before we headed off, Mum wanted pictures of each party in front of their respective tents. Mum and I were a bit boring, but the boys, realizing that they were in tent 747, laughed about how it was the "airplane" tent.

We drove to Olmstead Point, where we took yet another jumping picture. It was quite windy and hot that day. The fire behind us was a controlled burn, or so they said.

Here's Mum pointing to Cloud's Rest, which we had hiked to a little over two months ago. It was during that last trip that I made more solid plans to go to New Zealand.

After stopping in Tuolumne Meadows for a snack, we drove down Tioga Pass to Mono Lake. Connor wore his loud shirt that day so he wouldn't get lost. Somehow, he still managed to wander off without us seeing where he was going. The conversation would go something like...
"Where did Connor go?"-Mum
"I'll go look for the highlighter" - Me

After eating lunch at the Whoa Nellie Deli, we drove back up Tioga Pass where we started to suspect that the "controlled burn" might not be so controlled after all. As we passed Olmstead Point again we saw a helicopter go by. Later on we learned that they had been evacuating people off of Half Dome. I was a little disappointed to not have been one of them. Imagine walking to Half Dome and getting a free helicopter ride back!

After Olmstead Point, Jason chose the music: the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack. The first song, Hooked On A Feeling, came on and Mum exclaimed, "I know this one!" Then she and Jason proceeded to sing. Connor leaned over to me and whispered, "This just got awesome!" It was then that we all learned that Jason has an amazing voice.
Jason had the honors of cleaning the windscreen since he had shotgun. 

As evening crept in, we stopped by Knight's Ferry and got the last jumping shot of the trip.

On the way home Connor and I passed out. Mum leaned over to Jason and asked if we were awake. He replied that Sparky (me) and Highlighter (Connor) had burnt themselves out.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Whirlwind Yosemite Trip: Part 1

Today, I will continue with the epic saga of "Relive my whole life in two months." This time I found myself in Yosemite for a whirlwind trip that lasted 37 hours. The players were Mum, Jason, Connor, and I. With everyone picked up, we were on the road by 9AM. An hour and a bit later, we stopped at Casa de Fruta, which my father once infamously pronounced as, "Caser de Fruter." To which Mum said, "There are no 'Rs' in Casa de Fruta." Dad responded, "I can't help if they are silent." And we all replied, "And nonexistent."
Connor noted that just about every spot was a "Casa de" something. It was at this point that I introduced the boys to the jumping shot.

We only live about 4ish hours from Yosemite, so it didn't take too long to get to the Mariposa Grove. Despite it being past Labor Day, and supposedly the "off season" the parking lot was so full that we had to park elsewhere and use the shuttle instead. But once all that was sorted, we did a little hike. The boys joined me for a second jumping shot in front of the Grizzly Giant.

We continued on with the hike, looking for the Telescop Tree, a tree where the center had burned out but still was living. It took a bit longer than we anticipated, and just about every burn tree we found we looked up into to see if we could see the sky. Pro Tip, the tree has a sign in front of it. We did eventually locate it. Mum thought that we should take a "selfie". I still think it's funny every time Mum says that word.

After we got back to the car, we drove to Tunnel View. I love that we reached it right around sunset. It is certainly my favorite time of the day to see the view. And as always, we did the obligatory jumping shot.

Connor was the only one of us to have not seen Yosemite yet. We were staying in Curry Village. When he learned that Curry Village was in the valley, his eyes lit up. Something about, "We get to stay down there?!" Yes.... yes we do.

By the time we checked in, it was around 8PM. Most of the restaurants were closed. The one that was left open (pizza) was going to be open until 10PM, so we all opted to put our bags in the tents and take showers. Another Pro Tip from me to you: even if you get back into the same clothes you were wearing, if you wear fresh socks, you will feel better. Jason in particular felt that I was right.
We ate a massive amount of pizza. (I might have "won" at 5.5 slices.) And afterwards we played Nertz. After finding that three of us had a two of clubs and only he had the ace, Connor invented a clever new move. He threw the two into the air, put out his ace and the two landed on top. I didn't even realize what had happened. But there was a two on the ace and it wasn't mine. We pronounced the move legal because it was kind of amazing.

Mum headed to bed and the boys and I did a little stargazing. I spotted the only shooting star of the night before we all turned in. In the morning we would be continuing on with the second half of our whirlwind trip.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Fern Canyon

Mum told me the other day, "It's like you are trying to relive your entire life in two months." She is kind of right. I've travelled all over in the last two weeks and spent almost no time on the computer and no time knitting. I'm sure there will be time to catch up, but the time is not right now. I will try to fill you all in on my recent exploits though.
After seeing my Oma, Mum and I drove to Fern Canyon to do a sock photo shoot. I've been to Fern Canyon several times and I think summer is probably the best time of year to see it.

Looking up the wall of the canyon, it is just so stunning to see all the ferns lined up. I feel like I'm living through the Jurassic Period.

Mum was an excellent model as usual. Some people walked up to us an asked if we wanted our picture together. I had to explain that I design knits and that I was taking pictures of socks on purpose. We saw them later on and they cheekily offered to model.

When we saw the water running down the side of the canyon, Mum said that it reminded her of Milford Sound in New Zealand. I hope I get a chance to see it when I'm there later on this month.

As usual, I got my jumping photo. These orange shoes have seen their fair share of adventure. I think they brighten up the photo quite well.

As we finished hiking the trail loop, Mum and I noticed that a bunch of plants had been eaten. At first I thought that the banana slugs had either grown to great proportions or that there was an army of them. Then we realized that the Roosevelt Elk that live in the area must of climbed into the canyon and had a feast.

Fern Canyon is quite a ways away from home, but Mum and I decided that we were going to power though and got home around midnight. We actually drove over the road where the Napa earthquake was only hours before it happened. I've decided that my Mum's superpower name should be "Natural Disaster" because weird events seem to follow her.
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