Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Great American Road Trip

 I took a road trip last week to deliver my car my to sister and her family. The trip began in California and ended in Alabama. I drove through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi to arrive at my destination. The trip was 2300 miles long and lasted 3 days. The sights, sounds and people were memorable and the journey alone gave me prime time to reflect, dream and plan. I am not sure if I will attempt a drive this long again anytime soon, but I am happy that I was able to experience this trip.

I had a few things on my list of must see and do and on the top of the list was the Grand Canyon...

This was my first visit to the Grand Canyon and it took my breath away. As I was driving towards the park, I came upon snow. I am not usually a fan of snow or anything cold, but this added to the enchantment. Upon arrival I exclaimed "Are you kidding me?!" when I saw the deep red canyon framed with bright white snow. The scene was surreal. Of all the times I have dreamt of visiting this park, I never expected to be so blown away by nature and yet nature always surprises me and leaves my heart overflowing with gratitude. This is one of those times when I cried tears of joy and thanked God for the journey life has taken me on this year. I felt like this scene was a gift.

That night, I stayed in Alburquerque. New Mexico is beautiful and I could sense the sacredness of the land. Even when I went to buy turquoise, the woman described the different types of turquoise and their meanings. Everything seemed to have symbolism attached to it. I quite liked the notion that everything is special.

The remainder of the trip took me through Texas where I stopped for Texas BBQ...YUMMY! In Oklahoma the road never seemed to end. Arkansas was pretty with the trees and Ozarks. I stayed in Little Rock on the second night and visited with my aunt and her husband the following morning. They took me to see the Bill Clinton Presidential Library and we had a Southern breakfast complete with grits.

On the final day, I crossed the Mississippi River, drove through Memphis and parts of Mississippi into Alabama and finally my sister's home. I arrived and was welcomed with hugs from my nephews. I think that is what made this trip worth it.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Full Circle to Sydney

The last time I came to Australia, I had spent the last of my savings and didn't have a direction in life. I wanted to taste travel before I found a job, after spending almost a year wandering post banking life. This time, I am here because of the job I found upon returning from Australia, over 3 years ago. Full circle is a good way of putting the thoughts that entered my mind as we flew into Sydney. 

I didn't visit Sydney last time, so the sight of the Opera House and Harbor bridge, gave my heart a flutter. I checked out geography books all the time as a kid and would pour over the pictures and various cultural and architectural facts each country's book offered me. I remember wanting so badly to someday see the Sydney Opera House. So, when I finally did, my heart was filled with gratitude. The blessings that I have received this year overwhelm me at times. This was definitely a "pinch me" day.

Speaking of blessings, I am so blessed to have amazing friends. Penny was able to join me on the Sydney portion of my trip. She is staying for the rest of the week as I move on to Adelaide. I remember the first time we travelled out of the country to Europe in 2006...we've come a long way learning how to travel together. Sydney is just another great chapter in our friendship.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


It has been a month since I have returned home from Bali and I must say, my life was changed over there. I came home wanting to help those in need, clean up beaches and never use a plastic bag again. The trip also provided great persepctive into my work and personal life and showed me things that I absolutely needed to change/end.

I was unplugged for the most part over there. I didn't bring a phone or a computer and rarely knew what time it was. This freed my mind up so much and allowed me to discover things that I had been pushing aside in order to get by and what I thought was strive. Little did I know all of these things were going to come up, literally, on this trip.

When I returned home, I knew that change was on the horizon. I knew that the recent changes that I had experienced where still affecting me and that they would for some time. And that is what is happening still-change. My mindset is different. I am ready for the next thing. I realized that I have been working like an ant and living isolated in a place I am ready to leave. (have been ready to leave) I feel like I am wrestling out of my cocoon.

I am not sure what is next, but I am confident that this state of unrest is preparing my heart for it. I am open to whatever comes. My heart and mind are open like never before. Bali was a catalyst as well as blessing. I have faith and hope for the coming days, months, year...

Friday, August 31, 2012

Perspectives from Bali

~Peace and quiet have always been inside me...just hiding behind my inner chatter
~Letting go is hard to do, even on an exotic island
~Stress is a product of my outlook, its time to change my outlook
~Solitude is golden, but companionship is platinum
~Living simply leaves room for awe
~Walking is amazing exercise
~Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy (John Denver was a smart guy)
~Clean water should never be taken for granted

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Island Dream

I have been wanting an island vacation for years. Every time I have tried to plan one, something would come up and it just never worked out. Vacation time is sacred to me. I work a lot and feel like I don't have enough time for vacation or accrued vacation time. But this year, an amazing opportunity came up and I feel so grateful to have this dream come true.

I am flying to Bali tonight. I can't wait. My dear friend, Penny rented a house over there and invited me to join her. At first, I was hesitant because the island in my dreams was always Tahiti or somewhere in the Caribbean. But then I thought, 'why not Bali?' So I purchased my plane ticket and can't believe this day is here.

I am looking forward to relaxing, laying in the sun, eating healthy and most of all quiet time. I have so much up in the air right now and I feel like I have lost my balance and direction completely. I cant think of a better way to find some balance than to be disconnected for some time. This will be the first trip I have taken without a plan when I arrive. This excites my adventurous side and I can't wait.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Andes day trip

A trek up to the Andes was planned for the second day of the Mendoza adventure. We started early in the morning to begin the 300km round trip. We stopped in many places to take in the beauty of this rugged terrain as well as taste local fare.
We began our journey before sunrise
 The Andes are a spectacular mountain range. As we were driving, I was thinking about all the mountain ranges I have been fortunate to drive through...Sierra Nevadas, Cascades, Rockies and the Alps. The Andes range is the most rugged to me. All of these places have their own unique beauty. I found the contrast of the desert with the snow to be very stark and magnificent.

3 Americans and a Portuguese in the Andes
I was travelling with a few colleagues. We decided to come early before our meeting with the International team. This was a great way to relax before "working" for a few days.
St. Martin Bridge
 St. Martin was the liberator of Argentina from the Spaniards. This is a bridge on the Mendoza river to commemorate the battles that were fought.
Very icy Mendoza river...brrrr
 I was fascinated by the ice in the river. Coming from California, I have never seen something like this. Arthur, who is from North Dakota was not as fascinated by my SEVERAL pictures of the ice in the river. Apparently North Dakota has ice as well...go figure!
Andes Artisans
 We stopped at a little village of Artisans selling local souvenirs. Unfortunately, Argentina is mainly a cash based society and my debit card didn't work up here.
Inca Bridge

Aconcagua-tallest peak in the Americas (in the distance)

Near the Chilean border
Once we arrived at the Chile-Argentina border, we had to turn around. But first, we stopped in a town of 7 people and ate an amazing lunch.
This day was quite memorable for me. I was actually dreading being in the snow and cold, but I found it exhilarating and refreshing. However, I don't think it was enough to convince me to be in the snow or cold more often.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mendoza: Day 1

I made it to Mendoza!!! The flight from Santiago to Mendoza is quick, but one of the most memorable flights I have had. The view is breathtaking...we were so close to the mountain tops. The decent was a bit bumpy, but I am thrilled that I don't have to get on another plane for a week.
Pretty fantastic view
 Upon arrival, we were transported to our hotel with 30 minutes to unload our things and go on our scheduled winery tour. We were all so tired but somehow found the gumption to complete 4+ hours of touring wineries and an olive oil producer.
Mendoza wine country
 Today was a bit hazy and this picture does not do the view justice...the Andes are spectacular.
Crazy traffic with a Yerba Mate to keep calm
In Argentina, Yerba Mate is a drink that is sipped on all day. Since we haven't had time to stop at a cafe, I was pleased to see that our driver had time to have his cup. This was an insane traffic jam that we somehow got through...maybe the Mate kept him calm???
Lovely old cellar
Today was a whirlwind. I thought it was Monday all day. I guess it is easy to lose track of time when you are on a tight travel schedule. I'm just happy that I am on the ground and get to explore a place I never thought I'd travel to.

Buenos Noches!

Weary Traveler, Happy Heart

I have spent the past few days travelling trying to reach Mendoza, Argentina and there have been a few hiccups. I am on my 4th day of travel and still haven't reached my destination. However, I am a short flight away. I've experienced a closed runway, rescheduled flights and lots of insomnia. But my heart is happy and the familiar excitement that accompanies travel has lifted my spirits. Last night on the plane, I could not sleep and I tried every possible position that the seat would afford me. Since sleep was not an option, I decided to open the shade to check out the stars. What I was treated to was a lightening storm. I have never flown through one and it knocked my socks off. It is amazing what nature is capable of. I sat there in awe with a heart full of gratitude. Shortly afterwards, I was able to fall asleep and woke up a few hours later to the sun rising behind the Andes. I haven't even reached my destination yet the journey has been well worth it.

Monday, January 30, 2012

40 years

Today my parents celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. When I tell people how long my parents have been together, they are amazed that two people can sustain a relationship that long. I have seen the work they have put into staying together. I have watched my parents go through extreme hardship as well as immense joy. Through it all, they have had each other. I think the most important thing, in my perspective, that has kept their love alive is mutual respect, friendship and commitment no matter what. They have raised 5 children with discipline, love and humor.

They did everything in their power to give us firm foundations in order to become functional in the real world. This included going to church every week, eating dinner together, discipline, family vacations, visiting grandparents often, taking us to the library and museums, singing songs of hope (folk music galore), lots of hugs and kisses, telling us they love us and forgiving us when we made mistakes. I owe so much to my parents for their leadership and commitment to each other and us. Even for the times I don't agree with them, I am lucky to be able to voice my opinion with them and be heard.

So today I want to say thank you for everything, including 4 of my best friends (Chris, Jenny, Liz and Tyler).

I love you guys!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Looking back and then forward

The new year approached with the same haste the year flew by. There were so many moments that defined 2011 for me. Most of them were in a whirlwind of responsibility, but there were moments that stick out which appealed to my restless, adventurous soul.

-Hiking in 3 beautiful places (Marettimo Island, Central Coast and Torrey Pines)
-Visiting Milan, Budapest, Sicily and Portugal
-Learning more about wine than I ever thought possible
-Visiting my sisters and playing with their children
-Many nights of wine and laughter with the friends who mean the most to me
-Learning how to paddle board in Avila Beach
-Baseball games and Disneyland with my lil bro (Go Giants!!!)
-Learning that home is not a building but definitely where your heart is
-Watching my grandma's mind slip away and thanking God every time she remembers my name when I visit
-Christmas with my entire family...I loved seeing everyone together again

Cheers to a new year! I can't wait to see what 2012 has in store.