Eureka, California

A year and a half or so ago, I moved to Boise for graduate school and my best friend Julie moved to Eureka, California. A twelve hour drive apart was the closest we’d lived to each other since back in our high school days when we shared a yellow school bus route and biked to each other’s houses (in between homework, a plate full of extra curriculars, and mowing our parents’ extensive lawns).  This Thanksgiving Break I finally made the drive south to Julie’s and Meeko got to meet her puppy-cousin Remi.

Here are the pictures from our trip!

Ina Coolbrith Park

Wednesday I woke up feeling like a cold was creeping up on me. With a sore throat, I decided to take it easier with my adventuring since I have a lot of pet sitting jobs over this weekend. After catching up on my errands, I took Meeko and Snickers for a two hour walk. We went to our usual Huntington Park where Meeko met a puppy willing to play chase. Snickers sniffed around and didn’t leave my side.

From there, we walked North on Taylor St. We had to manage some pretty steep hills. On one of them we met an Chinese couple with a really snappy chihuahua. They were laughing at how tough it thought it was. Meeko of course did not take it’s threats seriously and tried to get it to play.

Ina Coolbrith park was on a “100 must do” kind of list I’d found on a hipster website. The gardening was all well kept, and it did have some awesome views of the Bay. The park itself was all along one slope of a hill, with paths and stairs winding down it. This made it a little tougher for Snickers, so I’m not sure we would go back. Maybe the views would have impressed me more if I didn’t live in the neighborhood and walk around a lot.

On our way back home, we made another stop at Huntington park to make sure Meeko was truly exhausted. She chased some more puppies and begged for treats from strangers. After Snickers snapped at another dog, I decided we’d better call it a day.

Cat nap

We’ve had a busy past two weeks as I’ve been trying to focus on my applications for graduate school. I received some much needed critiques on the stories I’m thinking about submitting, but some days it’s hard to stay positive about this whole application process. But as Ashwin keeps reminding me, this year will be my year! I have to believe that I will end up at a program next Fall, and that somehow, this will be the perfect program for me!

In the meantime, the dogs and I have figured out a schedule that provides optimal sleepy puppies so I can work. Every other day, Meeko and I go to our neighborhood park to throw the tennis ball, clicker training, and of course play chase with the other dogs. Meeko has officially learned how to “shake” but since Ashwin is a lefty, I’m going to teach her to shake with her “other paw” next! It’s hard to believe she’s 10 months old already!

On the odd days, Snickers accompanies us on a more relaxed walk up and down some of the flatter streets in Nob Hill. Some hills are just too steep for her and I have to carry her up. She tries though!

And now, here are some pictures of Meeko and Snickers taking naps in the California sunshine.

Adventures and Ventures

This weekend, Ashwin and I made a pact to go have fun. Great success!

Going off of a tip I received from a friendly dog owner, we headed out Friday afternoon to check out Sterling Park. Snickers was having a sleepy day (again) so we only took Meeko, her soccer ball secretly hidden in a backpack. Our path took us up the most crooked street in San Francisco. The street itself is one way, and reminded me of one of those wooden marble chutes where you watch the ball go back and forth. There were tourists lining both sides of the street, tourists jumping out of the cars on the actual street, and of course a crossing guard at the top and bottom of the street attempting to control the herds of people taking pictures in the middle of the road.

When we finally found Sterling Park, it was just not that interesting. The few dogs we did see were all on leashes walking on the path. Maybe I misinterpreted the advice I got at the little park by our apartment, or maybe they were just wrong! Ashwin decided that we should keep walking north, all the way to the water. Meeko was up for the challenge, but I dreaded the walk back.

When we arrived at the San Francisco Maritime park, it still felt like a tourist area, but less chaotic than the crooked street. We played soccer on a big stretch of grass while people looked on and laughed at the funny little dog. At one point and adorable Chinese boy (maybe 4 years old?) started taking an interest in Meeko. He didn’t speak English, but eventually we got him to kick the soccer ball. His parents thought this was hilarious, and once the boy gained some confidence in his soccer skills he really started smiling! Meeko was wonderful with him– she seemed to understand that she needed to play differently with him than she usually does with us. When the boy decided to start throwing the ball instead, he would clap his hands and giggle every time Meeko got it.

It was a long walk home up all of those hills and stairs (or stairs on hills!) but we all had a fun time outside and I got to see another part of San Francisco!

Saturday was a little more human oriented, getting Pho in Chinatown with our roommate and then heading to the Mission neighborhood for Bi-Rite ice cream. The line went out of the door and onto the sidewalk. They actually had those little portable railings to block off parts of the sidewalk. The wait itself was not too bad, but the ice cream was pretty awesome.

Ever since I moved to San Francisco, I have been seeing the advertisements for the Cindy Sherman exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. She is one of my favourite photographers, and was really a big influence on me when I started doing photography.

On Sunday afternoon Ashwin and I finally went. The museum itself has 5 floors with a big modern staircase running down the middle. We started at the top with the rooftop sculpture garden, then worked our way down the floors. The Cindy Sherman exhibit was a collection of her life’s work so far. Many of the pictures I had only seen in books or online, so to see them in their original form and size was incredible. I loved seeing her first big project, The Untitled Film Stills. Also fun was seeing Ashwin’s reaction to her “mannequin” phase… Back when I lived in Buffalo, I volunteered at the CEPA gallery auction where I got to hold the artwork as it was auctioned off. I was the happiest 16 year old ever when I held up this huge Cindy Sherman photograph. Sadly, that photo was not in the show.

We finished the day off cooking Ashwin’s signature chili dish and watching Adventure Time while we folded laundry. I’m thinking we’ll need to start a list of everything we want to do in San Francisco so that every weekend can be just as fun!

Our new place!

After two weeks of unpacking, errands, and figuring out where the dogs should go pee, I am ready to start writing again!

By some miracle Ashwin found us a very nice place in the neighborhood of Nob Hill. There are six apartments in our building, and we are on the top floor. The ground floor has a small market, which is very convenient. I wave hello to one of the guys that works there every morning. He also touched up the paint in our apartment while we moved in.

I’d like to state for the record that there was no moving crew. It was just Ashwin and I, moving the rest of his things from his old apartment to our new one with a U-Haul. I’ve never been so happy to see a split box spring! When we emptied out the car it was a very strange feeling. I’d been living surrounded by my things for over a month and to seeing it spread out made me realize how full the car had really been! Between the various spices that had spilled and the vinegar spill back in North Carolina, the car was not smelling good at all once it had baked empty in the sun for a few days. Had I just gotten used to it??

So far Snickers’ least favourite thing about San Francisco is the hills. Specifically the one we live on. It is actually at 45 degrees. At first, I was having them go potty in the little dirt squares around the street trees on our hill, but Snickers was really having a tough time balancing while she peed. And then it would all just run down the hill. Now we go around the corner to a nice flat street, four times a day.

I am so glad that my trip is over as I am really anxious to get writing! It is hard to believe that August is here already–only four months until my first graduate school application is due.

Location: Home in San Francisco, CA

A Weekend in Carmel, California.

We spent this weekend in a beach town called Carmel. The first beach is a state park, and the second beach is in the more upscale part of town. The second beach allowed off leash dogs, and Meeko quickly made lots of friends Friday afternoon.

A Temporary Home

We’ve been so busy bouncing from hotel to hotel that I haven’t had a chance to update!

Last week Sunday, we finished up our scenic tour of the California Coast, arriving at our Sacramento Residence Inn hotel around 1 AM. Along the way the dogs explored an outdoor mall, we played on another beach before getting talked to by another life guard, and we watched another sunset reflect off the ocean.

When my family moved from Tokyo to Buffalo, New York, we lived at a Residence Inn for 3 months. It was February, 1999 and it was very, very cold. We didn’t know where we wanted to live yet, nor where my sister and I should go to school. For a while, we spent our days exploring the scraggly woods in the hotel’s lot and then warming up by the big wood fireplace in the lobby. After Japan, seeing snow everyday seemed very exciting. Once we did start school, we would do our homework in that same lobby, making hot chocolate and eating the free food. Now, whenever I stay at a Residence Inn, I sometimes get that feeling of home when I recognize some of the familiar aspects, like their fireplaces in the lobby.

This time around, I was most excited about having a mini kitchen and being able to do laundry– I hadn’t gotten a chance to do any since staying in Corpus Christi! It took 3 dryer cycles and many quarters, but having clean socks again was totally worth it.

Lured by a hotel promo, Ashwin had us switch hotels in the middle of the week. It was stressful for all of us, and unfortunately we ended up losing money on it after the first Residence Inn decided to charge us the $100 pet fee after all. By the end of the week, the dogs and I were not in the best of moods, yearning for the promise of domestic peace in our new apartment. If I had run an experiment on my own emotions throughout this trip, I think I reached my breaking point of enjoying being on the road at around the 1 month mark. Right now, I dream of an empty car and eating off of actual dishes!

Location: Sacramento, CA

San Diego and Venice Beach

I picked Ashwin up from the San Diego airport Friday evening. The first thing I noticed was how many bags he was carrying. How was this all going to fit in the car? Unfortunately we are back to only having one dog crate set up in the car, while one dog sits on my lap. The hotel room felt like a resort after all my cheap rooms, and the dogs really enjoyed walking around the grounds and sniffing the koi pond.

We spent the weekend driving along historic Route 1 (sometimes called 101, or Pacific Coast Highway), leaving our San Diego hotel after a quick lunch with a friend of my Grandparents.  I would not recommend starting this drive from San Diego. It really was not a fun or beautiful drive until after we passed through Los Angeles. We drove through several towns, not really seeing much of the coast. Ashwin stopped at a fruit stand and bought a box of mangos– the car is so stuffed at this point that we cannot see out the back window. We debated stopping at a beach, but decided that we should focus on getting to our stop for the night before it got too late.

Ashwin had a friend from college who lived right on the Venice Beach boardwalk, so we spent the night in an empty room (the new roommates were moving in the next day). Venice Beach reminded me a lot of the vampire movie Lost Boys, with high school kids skateboarding and hanging out on benches. There was even an outdoor muscle gym. Meeko liked the tennis courts the best, though I don’t think the players appreciated her barking every time they hit the ball. And of course, no boardwalk beach town is complete without a variety of homeless men. One of them had his own table set up as “The Wine-o,” where he would sing songs to you on request, tell jokes, or whatever you wanted him to do for his booze money. I had to applaud his entrepreneurial spirit.

The dogs had a lot of fun walking through the boardwalk in the evening, and in the morning when they woke me up. We all slept on one of our sleeping bags, including Meeko! In the morning, we walked out to the ocean, but not 5 minutes of standing by the water we were cornered by a lifeguard in an orange SUV telling us “no dogs.” The only signs I saw said no vehicles on the beach!

We drove through Laguna Beach, Malibu, and many other beach towns. It was neat to see all of these notorious places, but I was surprised how generally dirty Southern California was, especially LA!

Location: Venice Beach, California

Another day, another time zone

It took us two days to get from Corpus Christi to Albuquerque. 7 hours one day, 7 hours the next.

After a late start on Friday, we arrived in Fort Stockton, Texas at 1 AM. The choice of hotels in Northwest Texas was slim, but my $80 hotel turned out to be an outside entrance room no better than any “cheap” place I’d been in before. The dogs were tired, but bored and stir crazy. Meeko got into a bark-fest as soon as we settled into the room. The drive itself was incredibly boring, and the speed limit was always fluctuating as we passed through various small towns. I would not recommend it to anyone!

When I signed the receipt for the room, I noticed it said there would be a $100 charge for unregistered pets. I couldn’t remember what their pet policy was or if I was supposed to pay them something else so I just didn’t mention the doggies. At 9 in the morning, when I realized the housekeeping lady was coming, I still wasn’t sure if I needed to be careful with the dogs. As I was leaning out of my doorway checking to see if I could take the dogs out to go potty, the lady caught my eye and saw Meeko’s furry face poking out of the door. The look on her face was all I needed. Within 30 minutes I snuck the dogs out, packed up the car, and at an off-brand bowl of fruit loops cereal. Really, they couldn’t spring for the real thing at an $80 a night hotel.

3 hours later we hit the New Mexico border, welcoming us to the Land of Enchantment. “Are you feeling enchanted back there?” I asked the doggies. Meeko jingled her collar in response. Another sign informed us that we were now in Mountain time. Only a 1 hour difference from California now! The landscape was definitely Southwest. Everywhere there was sand, oil rigs, and scraggly cactus plants. It was so remote that for a while my phone could not connect to any data plan, so no GPS. Luckily it still let me make calls, so my sister confirmed which highways I needed to stay on.

We drove through several towns, many which seemed abandoned. Pueblos where the wooden skeleton was completely exposed, or motel signs that were rusted to the point of being illegible. The dogs were bored and hot, so we stopped at a state park with the word “lake” in it’s name. When I got the entrance I confirmed, “So, there is an actual lake in here?” We walked around for about an hour, Meeko swam and Snickers crashed a family’s camping picnic looking for treats. I had to walk underneath their tent to get her! So embarrassing. Meanwhile Meeko was off playing in the water by herself.

The town of Roswell was interesting, but pretty clear that the whole Alien thing is a tourist trap. I’d like to meet the Mayor who proposed that to boost their economy. “You guys. What if Aliens landed here. No, no, I know they didn’t, but we could say they did! And then we’d put all these corny alien statues and flying saucer models up along the highway. Maybe even an Aliens history museum?? People would totally stop you guys, just trust me.”As much as I love Scifi, I was so exhausted all I could think about was getting to our next hotel and going to sleep for a long, long time.

As we got closer to Albuquerque the landscape began to change. Some sand was red, and the 2 lane highway had turns and hills. In the distance, I could see some of the Rocky Mountains. Then I started noticing the clouds. They were all around me in a wide circle, seeming to float just above the horizon. These were not wispy two dimensional clouds– these were large and in charge clouds, so thick that the bottom of them looked flat and darker grey. It was only once I got to the outskirts of Albuquerque that I finally caught up to those clouds and found myself looking straight up at them.

Though we made the 7 hour drive in 8 hours (not bad considering the doggies), I still managed to run into more frustrations. My phone gps works most of the time in the city of Albuquerque, but in finding my Super 8 hotel in midtown, it was pointing me to the middle of an intersection. Naturally I assumed the hotel must be one of the corners of said intersection. I spent 15 minutes driving down every direction of that intersection. Finally I gave up and called the Super 8. Turns out it was several blocks from that intersection, and up on a hill. Nice going google maps.

By the time I unpacked and got the dogs settled, it was 8:30pm Mountain time and I had not eaten dinner yet. Determined to have a decent dinner, I was delighted to find a Panera nearby. Or so I thought. 1. It was not a Panera but some weird Southwest offshoot called Paradise Bakery 2. My phone gps took me to a Macy’s, which may be in the same mall complex as this bakery 3. By the time I realized both things it was 9:05pm and the place closed at 9pm as did every other nearby restaurant except for Applebees. Not surprisingly it was not very good.

I’m not sure if I am just having a string of bad luck, or if the stress of my housing situation is leaching into the rest of my life. As of right now, I (meaning my boyfriend and I) have still not been able to tie down a lease for a dog friendly apartment in San Francisco and will likely be homeless when I arrive there. He is still actively going to open houses and emailing landlords both in the city and out, but at this point it’s looking more and more likely that I will be continuing to live out of a hotel (and my suitcase) during July.

Meanwhile, I am in Albuquerque for 3 nights, so I will do my best to explore and have fun! I really wish my Super 8 room had a fridge, but the dogs are enjoying all of the ice cube treats.

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico

More from the National Seashore

Yesterday I drove my sister to the airport to visit my Mom. I am staying at my sister’s place in Corpus Christi for a few more days. Snickers was very sad to see her real Mommy leave, but they got plenty of snuggling in while she was here!

So far we have been to the same part of the National Seashore beach twice. I thought this Tuesday morning would be a perfect time to take the dogs back for another adventure. When we arrived, the first thing I noticed were the waves. They were huge! A line of wooden posts blocking cars from driving down one side of the beach were mostly underwater, where as the last time we visited, they were all visible.

There were two cars parked far down the beach fishing, so we headed past the wooden poles to enjoy the beach all by ourselves. I’d noticed some large blue jellyfish looking creatures washed up all over the beach before. After some quick research I discovered they were technically not jellyfish, but Portuguese Man of War. Even days after washing up on shore and dying, they were still toxic and could produce a sting if touched. We had a close call with Meeko inspecting one that appeared to be alive due to the wind inflating it and making it move. Luckily she did not decide to eat the “cool looking squishy blue thing.” She did finally get to chase some seagulls though! I pointed out a huge V of pelicans in the air, but Meeko didn’t catch on.

We played on the beach for about an hour. A helicopter flew overhead which startled Meeko a bit. Also startling Meeko was this evening when I turned on the garbage disposal. I forgot she hadn’t heard one before! Her reaction was to wake up from a nap, run over to where I was standing in the kitchen and wait for a treat.

Right now I am trying to figure out my route for the rest of my trip, and when I should arrive in San Diego to drive up the coast of California. I’ve been on the road for so long, sometimes I forget that I’m actually moving to San Francisco!

Location: Corpus Christi, Texas (Turns out, this is Selena’s hometown!)