Sunday, June 26, 2011

2011 Paddlefest

Cousins Chris, Nick, and Jen, me, and Sam
Jen riding like a queen :)

Sam's mom Laura and brother Ben
paddling maniac :)
This weekend, Sam and I joined his mom and brother for an exciting trip down the Ohio River. It was Paddlefest time in Cincinnati! Over 2,000 people participate in Paddlefest every year by kayaking or canoeing 8.2 miles on the Ohio River. Laura and Ben both kayaked and Sam and I rented a canoe. It was a blast, especially because a few of my cousins who live in Cincinnati also decided at the last minute to rent a canoe and get in on the fun. We launched from Coney Island at 9:15am and paddled 8.2 miles to the public landing spot in downtown Cincinnati where we finished just before noon. That included a 15 minute snack/restroom stop at the half-way point, so we really made good time, especially because the river was only moving 1.2 mph....I was hoping for a little more than that! Ha! The weather was gorgeous and it was just an overall delightful day to spend on the water. As someone who doesn't really like baking in the sun, I couldn't have asked for better weather ~ temps in the low 70's and just enough sun to keep from getting chilled but not enough to cause a sweat :) I'm looking forward to Paddlefest next year and I now know to start training my arms in advance for it....quite sore today :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My new bike!!

Let the riding resume! I bought a new bicycle and am ready to get back to the trails. It's a beautiful blue Diamondback with a little bit of design, as you can see in the bottom picture. I must have ridden a dozen bikes at every sporting goods store in Columbus before I settled on this one. Due to the new design of women's bikes, I had to buy an adaptor bar for putting the bike on my car bike rack. There's no upper bar, which is normally how it attaches to the rack, so instead, there is a spring bar that clamps onto the handlebar stem and the seat stem and then it hangs normal. A little more annoying when transporting but I love the bike so it's worth it!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Kitty #2

No, you are not seeing double! My sister got another cat, which makes 2 new kittens in the family :) This is the brother to Pebbles. My mom went to the pet store where they got Pebbles from to buy more litterbox liners and she was back in the cat section when she heard a little kitten crying. The lady working there looked over at my mom and said, "Yea, this poor little guy has done nothing but cry the past few days. Some family adopted his sister and left him here." To which mom sheepishly replied, "That would be my family." Haha!! So, mom filled out another round of paperwork and lo and behold a couple days later my sister had not one but 2 new kittens to care for. I haven't mentioned this little guy's name yet because no one has officially decided. In the running so far are: Nacho, Paco, Bam Bam (since the sister is "Pebbles"), Rocky, Rascal, Dino, and Pedro. Any suggestions???

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Lounging on the bathtub
Exploring my sister's closet
My sister adopted a new kitten this week! Her name is Pebbles and she is 2 months old. She is the cutest little thing ever!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Poor bike :(

I think this may be the end for my loyal bike. It's been a great ride (no pun intended! Ha!) but the bike shop isn't looking too hopeful for it. Sam and I went exploring a new bike trail on Sunday when the weather was gorgeous. We rode 13 miles, beating our previous 11.9 record! My bike is a Taurus North Face and has been with me for probably 8 years or so, surviving many Ohio winters and DC potholes, but I think our last ride this weekend was the culmination of all it could take. My whole sprocket chain contraption is corroded and wiggling, my gears grind when I shift and don't lock into place, my chain is rusted, the pedal grips are both peeling, and some random wire thingy completely rusted off. *sigh* So, biking is now on a hiatus. Guess I better start paging through the Sunday bike ads!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

California Day 8, Sausalito and San Francisco

Charming beachside town of Sausalito
Statue in honor of their "sister city" in Chile
Family reunion in San Fran :)
Trolley time!!
The city cable car control center
Beautiful flowers on a house
Christopher Columbus statue on Telegraph Hill
The rules for visiting the windmill in Golden Gate Park! They mean business!
Dutch windmill
Between this sign and the "what to do in case of an earthquake" instructions everywhere, I was slightly concerned
The Pacific Ocean
Kite surfer
Very ugly bison in the Golden Gate Park...complete with birds sitting on their backs. Poor things!

Sitting in the airport waiting for the check-in line to go down, so a great opportunity to blog our last day in California. We rode bikes to Sausalito this morning and wondered around the quaint town for a little while. Beautiful blue skies for biking along the bay! Sausalito is suppose to look like the Almafi Coast in Italy, yet the "sister city" is in Chile....hmmmm....not quite sure about that...should I book a flight to Chile or Italy?!?! Not exactly in the same part of the world. Anyways, it was a cute town and after seeing it, we headed into San Francisco to finish out our tour of the city. Since it was such a nice day, we went back to Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39, where the street performers were out in full force! Everything from music to "silver-man" to a guy dressed like a skeleton!

We went back to Telegraph Hill in search of the wild parrots in San Fran. Our second attempt at seeing them. Supposedly, they fly in groups around the city but the best place to see them is from Telegraph Hill walking down Greenwich steps. Must to our dismay, it was a parrot-less day again. Do they really exist??? According to a picture we saw in the gift shop and a maintenance man, yes they do. Guess we'll have to return another time and try our luck at finding them. The good news from today was the trolleys were back in business!!! Wohoo!!! We finally got to ride them and it was fun.

We finished off this trip at the beach :) Beautiful day for kite surfing - not us, someone else, although I would like to try it sometime. Good bye California and see you another day!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

California Day 7, Muir Woods

Banana Slug ~ largest land mollusk in North America

Our California trip is winding down but before we head back to Ohio, we really wanted to see the giant Redwood trees, so we spent a couple hours in Muir Woods. It was quite spectacular! A slight mist in the air and sun trying to peek through the giant trees made for some awesome photographing and peaceful stroll on the boardwalk. The only trails open today were the boardwalk ones due to the amount of rain they have had. Otherwise, there looked to be some neat hiking ones off in various directions. Maybe next trip :)

I inherited knobby toes, so from all this walking, I now have a blister on the bottom of each toe! Ha! Thanks mom! My feet are thoroughly worn out, so the plane ride back tomorrow night might not be so bad, as long as I don't have to run through the airport....then we might have a problem! Tomorrow is our last day in California and we leave on the red-eye flight. Hopefully I can make one final post of our adventure tomorrow before we board the plane.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

California Day 6, Granite Bay

First one in my aunt's pool this season!!
Lake Folsom
Two turtles sunning on the log
Today was another low-key day...although there was a 3 mile hike thrown in mid-day :) We went to church in Tahoe this morning and then hit the road for Granite Bay. The rain broke once we were back in Granite Bay, so Sam, my aunt, and I went for a hike at Lake Folsom. By then the sky was blue and the sun was out...I actually wished I had worn shorts, despite being in a sweatshirt just hours before! Ha! Crazy weather out here!!! I finished off the afternoon with a dip in the pool. It was FREEZING! But now I've accomplished being the first one in my grandparent's pool in Ohio and the first one in my aunt's pool in California :)

California Day 5, Granite Bay and Lake Tahoe

Relaxing in Granite Bay
Snow!! Headed to Lake Tahoe
Brody was originally in the cargo space of the SUV, but after making a quick stop, he jumped into the backseat and my aunt sat in the cargo spot! He was so happy to be riding in a leather seat :)
Hiking along Lake Tahoe

A house being built on the lake. The heated pipes in the driveway and sidewalk were just installed and the concrete will be poured over them. No more snow shoveling!
Notice all the snow in the mountains?!?!
We spent a relaxing day yesterday evening and this morning in Granite Bay at my aunt's house. Unfortunately it's raining and cold so we haven't gone outside much, but after walking so much in San Fran and Napa, it's nice to just sit down for awhile! We headed to Lake Tahoe this afternoon and will spend tonight and tomorrow morning at their lake house. It's been a pretty low-key day hanging out....Sam, my aunt, and I went for a hike when the rain stopped. I can't get over the snow up here!! It's June but the mountains look like January! Tonight we went to dinner at a fabulous restaurant in one of the casinos in Tahoe. I had the chilean sea bass, which was the best I've ever had, and to top the dinner off, the restaurant served a bowl of pink cotton candy at the end :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

California Day 4, Napa Valley and Sonoma

Robert Mondavi Winery

Beautiful roses
One of the hundreds of grape pictures :)
Inside the Mondavi fermentation room
5,000 gallon oak barrels for holding the wine
Oak aging barrels
Our private tasting room!
We tasted 3 wines
Chateau St. Jean in Sonoma

Picnic lunch
Another beautiful day in Napa Valley! We started the day with a 75 minute guided tour of the Mondavi estate and vineyards. It was an excellent tour because there was only one other couple with us, so we could ask lots of questions and the guide has his own vineyard and knew everything about wine. We started walking through the vineyard where I learned the reason every vineyard has so many rose bushes is because roses are almost identical to grapevines and anything that affects the roses will affect the grapes exactly 2 weeks later (i.e. mildew, bugs, etc.). After walking through the vineyard, we went to the fermentation room and learned about how wine is actually made. We finished up with a private seated tasting of 3 wines and delicious focaccia bread.

After Mondavi, we ventured to Sonoma where we ate a picnic lunch and played bocce ball at Chateau St. Jean winery. Again, gorgeous grounds and I'm thinking of starting my own vineyard on my apartment balcony :)

We are now in Granite Bay with my aunt's family for the weekend. Hopefully, the snow moves out of Lake Tahoe and we can get up there tomorrow!