November 23, 2012

Lisa: Skating in New York City

Since I just had my 34th birthday, I've been working on my 35 x 35 list, crossing off things I've done and gearing up for things I want to try to accomplish this year. In doing so, I realized that (like most of what I've done in the last few years) I never blogged about visiting New York over New Year's at the end of 2009. I did hastily throw up some photos on Facebook. Anyway, I'm not going to blog about the trip today, either--but I AM going to post about crossing something off my list while we were there.

12. Ice skate at Rockefeller Center.

Because my family is adorably supportive, they didn't tell me right away that trying to skate at Rockefeller Center was a terrible idea. On our third day there, after standing in line for the ticket lottery for In the Heights, Dave and Angie took me, Blake, Nora, and Sarah to see the giant Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. That's when I saw this:

Yep, all those people packed in at the side of the rink there are waiting to skate. Now, I love skating, but I hate crowds. And it was freezing cold. And we had a little two-year-old Nora with us, who refused to wear gloves. It was time to modify the goal. Dave heard there was a skating rink at Bryant Park, so after Sarah and I were finished with the play we met up with the rest of our group there. Guys, the wait was two hours minimum, it was even colder than it had been when the sun was out, and we still had a toddler in tow. We gave her a ride on the carousel, and then ran for the warmth of the New York Public Library to reassess.

Dave and Angie knew of one more skating rink, this time in Central Park--walking distance from their neighborhood. Sarah and I decided to wake up early and hit the rink first thing, without dragging Nora along. Even when we looked out the window and saw this, we stayed strong:

We couldn't figure out the park signage, and blundered around the completely deserted park in the snowstorm for an hour before we happened upon the Wollman Rink, which was miraculously open and staffed in spite of the weather (and the fact that it was New Year's Eve). We ignored the naysayers, rented our skates, and clomped through the empty (but still smelly) locker room and out onto the ice. The snow stopped, the clouds parted, and we skated for an hour in front of the New York City skyline. Mission accomplished, and back in time for brunch.

March 23, 2009

Lisa: Jailhouse Pop

This feature brought to you by HK Magazine:

Jailhouse Pop
What's the worst thing about being an incarcerated Cantopop celebrity?

  • Prison karaoke machine doesn't have your 2003 hit song, "Love is Somewhat Necessary"

  • Large, hairy inmate has taken liking to your high cheekbones and dreamy eyes

  • Orange jumpsuit clashing with orange highlights

  • Thrice-daily gruel going straight to your ass

  • Trying and failing to construct a shiv out of an acrylic nail extension
  • September 16, 2008

    Lisa: don't worry, he's not a democrat either

    Before camera phones, we just had to tell our friends about the crazy cars we saw driving in front of us. Now, we can show a photo of said craziness to the entire world. Isn't this a magical time?

    I'm not sure you can read the fine print there, but if you prove him wrong (presumably on ANY of the text written on his vehicle), he'll pay you $5. Not bad! Although you would have to talk to a crazy person. So...not great.

    July 11, 2008

    Sarah: A Year in Review

    In the past year, I have:
    1. Gotten within a semester of college graduation.
    2. Stood outside the hospital room while my niece was born, then held her on the first day of her life and countless days since.
    3. Learned how to use an old hand-printing press.
    4. Gained a new sister. An amazing new sister.
    5. Traveled through Europe.
    6. Bought a new (to me) car.
    7. Learned to drive a manual transmission, just about burning through my clutch in the process.
    8. Given up the apartment where I lived for almost two years.
    9. Lived with my awesome family (Don't worry, guys, I promise that I'm looking for a new place).
    10. Become much closer (whether she liked it or not) to a great friend.
    11. Baked and cooked. A lot.
    12. Cracked jokes with an albino.

    It was a great year. One of my favorites yet. Thanks for being there with me.

    July 02, 2008

    Sarah: Here and There

    You should never buy ugly motivational posters again. Why have stock photography of eagles soaring when you can have something cool like these? Via Zina, the coolest girl I know from Spring City.

    Oh, and I can type things.
    72 words

    Speed test

    I want to try Loobylu's No Spend Month. I think about it fairly often and think it'd be a nice way to declutter my space and mind, relax about finances, and appreciate the possessions I already have. Plus, I'd finally get back on the cooking bandwagon.

    This will make you laugh. Horrifyingly retro photos from an old JC Penney catalog.

    Sarah: The Kiss Heard About Round the World

    While in Prague, I pimped out my friend Marci to a Texan named Mike. I highly recommend asking strangers to kiss your friend while on St. Charles Bridge.

    It was clearly a magical evening.

    June 28, 2008

    Sarah: MeTube

    Yes, we've already talked about how much we love YouTube, but I think there are a few videos you might have missed.

    If you like baking, perhaps you'd be interested in learning how to make bread.

    If you didn't think you were interested in knowing how slugs mate, well, you were wrong. You are interested.

    And if you're wondering what I would do while my friend got molested by an Italian tourist in Prague? The answer is: I would take a video of it.
    That's right, I'm on YouTube. It feels like home.

    June 18, 2008

    Sarah: Catching My Breath

    It's so good to be back home. To hug my friends, to chat with my family, to walk, hunched over, with my index fingers being gripped tightly by a little walking Nora. I am planning to write a little about the last six weeks I spent in Europe but am a little overwhelmed. How does one start? At the beginning? There are so many wonderful details, so many hilarious friends, so many new cities that I've fallen in love with. I want to share it with you, and I wish I could have taken you with me. Mostly, I am afraid to see how many pictures I crammed into 3GB, and I don't want to bore you. I hope to have some sort of wrap-up for you in the next few days, if you're interested. If you're not, well, you should comment and tell me what I should be writing instead.

    Oh, and in case you are relieved that I finally stopped posting weekly entries about recipes that I often didn't have the culinary prowess to successfully pull off? Well, that's too bad. I actually cooked enough before leaving for Europe that I could have Lisa post an entry each week while I was gone, but then I didn't write them because I figured I should spend that time packing and catching my plane and stuff. So instead I plan to inundate you with cooking entries in the coming days or weeks.

    Still there? I think you'd like this. I did.

    I'm headed back to working (I was on time today, miraculous!) and apartment hunting. Thanks for bearing with me!

    June 11, 2008

    Sarah: Are You There, God? It's Me, and I'm Lost.

    I am happy to let the internet know that Marci and I have an Austrian guardian angel. He carries a large camera and directs us on how to get on the right bus to meet Staci. I hope he will follow us to Rome to swat away any wandering Italian hands.

    We'll be home in four days. It is craziness.

    June 06, 2008

    Lisa: perhaps the three plagues are dorkfaces, cover bands and cologne

    May 29, 2008

    Sarah: Che-che-che-che Czech it Out!

    Not much time, but:
    Got to Prague yesterday. So far:

    1. Dutch boys are officially cuter than Czech boys. Bummer.

    2. I climbed 287 steps up the tower of a cathedral. Then my new friend Kaeleigh threw an 8 year old boy out of the window.

    3. While on this same stairway, an overweight man in his 50s scooted up the stairs until his belly cradled my bottom. Un. Comfortable.

    4. Walked down the Golden Road. Did not see any gold. Prague, how dare you lie to me.

    5. Marci and I have two twin beds that the hotel staff has pushed together. She rejected my offer to spoon last night.

    May 25, 2008

    Sarah: Amsterdam you!

    Lest you think I'm spending all of my time smoking doobies in the red-light district while in Amsterdam, I thought I'd check in to update. Yesterday was one of my favorite days thusfar. Sixteen of us from our class rode bikes out of Amsterdam and through the smaller towns that border the jetties. The weather was beautiful with the sun shining (oops, I forgot sunscreen!) and a breeze blowing. I fell in love with Holland. I'm a fool for a country that not only has such beautiful scenery, but an affection for wooden shoes. By the time we returned to the hotel, we'd ridden about 18 miles and had the sore butts to prove it.
    Last night Feist was in town, but her show was sold out. I was seriously bummed until I discovered (just now! Just this second!) that she's performing in Park City, Utah on July 17th. Dear friends, I am freaking out. I didn't see where I could purchase tickets online. If someone would buy a ticket for me (and themself! Let's all go!), I would love that person forever. And pay them back as soon as I get back into town. Or, you know, it could be a birthday gift.

    Before my trip to Europe, I did not have:
    A farmer tan highlighting the outline of a shoe strap, watch band, and short sleeve shirt.
    A shirt featuring a female-afro-sillouette. Which everyone should own. And which three of us do own.
    A wacky pillow cover.
    A well worn map of Amsterdam.
    A constant, nagging need for poffertjes.

    Besides imagining what shenanigans my dad probably fears I am getting in to, I am thinking about:
    Yesterday was my little brother Jeff's birthday. He's in New Jersey, no doubt charming the crap out of people like he charms the crap out of me. I chatted with some new friends about Jeff the other day, and about how he attended such an amazing university after high school. I'm so proud of Jeff, for his incredible kindness, his cheerful friendliness, his superior intellect and how quick he is to love and forgive. Jeff, I wish I could grow up to be as great as you.

    May 20, 2008

    Lisa: Ruby Red Layered Jello Salad

    When I was assigned a side dish for our last Freaks and Geeks potluck (American-themed in homage to Sarah's impending departure), I knew I had to make jello salad. What's more American than jello salad?

    This salad sounded perfectly gross-yet-delicious. An inch-thick layer of pure sour cream? It cuts the sweetness of the fruit jello perfectly. A whole can of cranberry sauce in the top layer? What is jello anyway, if not jellied fruit sauce? Spoon it up. Best of all, it's pretty and translucent and unnaturally red, as jello salad should be. (Recipe from Ping on GroupRecipes, after the jump.)


    1 (3 ounce) package raspberry flavored gelatin mix
    2 cups boiling water
    1 (10 ounce) package frozen raspberries
    1 pint sour cream
    1 (3 ounce) package cherry flavored gelatin
    1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
    1 (16 ounce) can whole cranberry sauce


    1) Dissolve raspberry gelatin in 1 cup hot water. Add frozen raspberries, and stir until well mixed. Pour into a glass bowl. Refrigerate until almost firm, about 30 to 60 minutes.
    2) Spread sour cream over firm gelatin. Refrigerate.
    3) Dissolve cherry gelatin in 1 cup hot water. Stir in crushed pineapple and cranberry sauce. Chill until partially set, about 20 to 40 minutes.
    4) Spoon cherry gelatin mixture over sour cream layer. Chill until firm, another hour or two.

    Note: This salad is most attractive when made in a crystal bowl so the various layers can be seen.

    May 17, 2008

    Sarah: London Calling

    Neighborhoods or Sights:
    Piccadilly Circus
    Notting Hill
    Covent Garden
    The Tower of London

    Les Miserables

    many, many others

    Deepening Friendships:
    I found out last night that Marci hates Ice-T even more than Horatio Cane. [Lisa, I'm leaving this up to you to find some awesomely hilarious links for these two "actors." Thank you in advance.] Yes, my mind was blown as well. And yes, they show Law and Order and CSI in the UK. It's like crack.

    I wish I had more time to write better responses to the adorable emails I've been getting. I apologize if I've been slacking, but I hope to spend a ridiculous amount of time on the internet, my phone, and face to face (FACE TIME!) with you guys when I return.

    I must be off, for there are still a few things in London that I haven't purchased. Namely, the entire inventory of Harrods.

    May 16, 2008

    Lisa: Hand-drawn Friday

    We had our Bon Voyage party for Sarah and Marci at the Crown, and I felt the occasion called for a little festive headwear. I did an image search for some of the famous landmarks they'll be seeing in Europe, and drew simplified versions onto colored paper. Voila! Crowns at the Crown. It's not the first time, but it might be one of the best.

    Canal houses in Amsterdam

    Parliament building in Budapest

    London's Tower Bridge

    Tyn Church in Prague

    Roman Coliseum

    Hairy Coo from Scotland

    I miss you guys!

    May 13, 2008

    Sarah: Checking In

    I don't have long, so some quick lists:

    Cities I've seen so far:
    Fort Augustus
    many others I will tell you about later

    Foods I have tried that I swore I wouldn't:
    Haggis. Not as terrible as you'd expect, actually.

    Admirerers that Marci has not made out with (as far as I know):
    Ash, from New Zealand
    Damian, from Poland

    We've enjoyed trains, tubes, buses, and lots and lots of walking in the eight days. Marci has written much more details on her blog, and I'm still working on pictures. They may have to wait until the end of the trip. For now, I'm off to work some more on my raging farmer's tan and hopefully get some shopping done. I haven't spent too frivolously, yet. For shame!

    p.s. Other items of interest:
    Staci's boyfriend's brother is the most adorable tour guide one could home for.
    We were at the Sex and the City London premiere. So be jealous, if that's your sort of thing.
    We have not eaten at McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut, or any other places we might be ashamed to admit. Hurrah!

    February 02, 2008

    Lisa: Claremont

    I've been missing my baby brother, Jeff. After a year away at Harvey Mudd College, last May he left for a two-year missionary stint in New Jersey. Sarah and I drove to California to pick him up from school, and he took us on a tour of the gorgeous Claremont Colleges while we were there. I thought I'd post some pictures of the campuses because 1) they're pretty and 2) they make me think of Jeff.

    Harvey Mudd is where Jeff found his people. It's a small, private college that focuses on math, science, and engineering. Bill Nye the Science Guy is speaking at their commencement next year. The architecture has some kind of proto-Aztec vibe, featuring decorative "warts," where the students hang their unicycles. Really. Here's Jeff's dorm (Case), the dining hall, and the man himself. There are a few more pictures after the jump.

    Pitzer College has xeriscaped gardens and the buildings are covered with murals (many painted by students). Here is the Grove House restaurant, the Interhueman mural, and some kind of tower. More pictures after the jump.

    Claremont McKenna is one of the larger of The 5Cs, and is big on the social sciences. We caught them setting up for graduation festivities.

    Pomona College is where Real Genius was filmed (but the movie is based on CalTech, a Harvey Mudd rival). Their mascot is a chicken. I know Jeff told me more about all the colleges when he was showing us around, but this crap is what I remember. More pictures after the jump!

    At Scripps College, the women's college, we met up with Jeff's friend Sally for an insider's tour. Scripps is beautiful, and is full of little walled gardens and things, so I took a ton of pictures (lots of which are after the jump). The center picture here is the common room of one of the dorms, if you can believe that.

    If you read World War Z (WHICH YOU SHOULD), you might remember that a bunch of Claremont students barricaded themselves inside Scripps and fought off thousands of zombies. When I got to that section of the book, I stopped reading and yelped to Blake, "Jeff survives!" He had no idea what I was talking about.

    The five Claremont Colleges are on one contiguous piece of land, and share a central library:

    More from Harvey Mudd:

    More from Pitzer College:

    More from Pomona College:

    More from Scripps College:

    December 12, 2006

    Lisa: Tired

    I went to Maryland to help with a friend's wedding last week, and I put 500 miles on my rental car. Here's how (not in chronological order):

    1. Washington, D.C.

  • Christmas shopping

  • 2. Silver Spring
  • Got completely lost coming home from Washington, D.C.

  • 3. College Park
  • Bought vases and rocks for reception table centerpieces

  • 4. Laurel
  • Bought emergency kit supplies

  • ring bearer pillow

  • corsage pins

  • CD sleeves for wedding favors

  • frame for grandmother's gift (she sang the Lord's Prayer during the ceremony)

  • 5. Bowie
  • Returned the ring bearer pillow

  • Christmas shopping

  • 6. Millersville
  • Wedding chapel

  • Reception center

  • Picked up reception center key

  • 7. Odenton
  • Bought lunch for everyone

  • 8. Gambrills
  • Just passing through!

  • 9. BWI Airport

    10. Glen Burnie
  • Mother of the bride's home

  • Made bridal bouquet, boutonnieres, corsages, and floral cake topper

  • Assembled various gift packages

  • Assembled emergency kits for bridesmaids

  • 11. Woodberry
  • We got completely lost trying to get out of Baltimore--but on the plus side, we passed the streetcar museum and a bunch of homeless people digging through a mountain of trash!

  • 12. Baltimore
  • Sightseeing

  • 13. Westfield Hills
  • Rehearsal dinner

  • Bought groom's wedding band (yes, Sarah and I picked it out and everything)

  • Bought flower girl's shoes

  • Got manicures

  • Picked up parents' gifts

  • Bought ring bearer's gift

  • Christmas Shopping

  • 14. Annapolis
  • Hotel (where I left some of my clothes--they said they'd ship them to me)

  • Bought bride's shoes

  • Returned bride's shoes, which didn't fit

  • Bought bride's hairpiece

  • Bought fish for reception table centerpieces

  • Procured delicious mini-pitas and deliciously evil hummus
  • Congratulations, Auntris!'s good to be home.

    May 22, 2006

    Lisa: Training, Weeks 12-14

    On Sunday, Sarah and I ran from the beginning of the marathon route to my house. We were supposed to go 18 miles, but only made it nine. We ran in the hottest part of the afternoon, which was dumb, and Sarah was feeling pretty sick and dehydrated. It took us 2 hours to go the 9 miles. Even though we didn't get the whole way, we still rewarded ourselves afterward with Funfetti cake.

    On Tuesday I ran five miles at Sugarhouse Park, which took me an hour. The horrible stick-leg/bloody stump phenomenon strikes again!

    Sarah and I ran five miles along the marathon route, from the top of 21st South to La Puente. It took us an hour. 131 lbs, 28% body fat.

    On Saturday, we ran 18 miles: our longest run before the marathon! It took us three hours and fifty minutes to get from La Puente to the end of the marathon route. The last few miles were pretty hard, but we did surprisingly well! I think breaking up the run into two-mile segments really helps. Thinking about adding another eight miles is a bit daunting, though. Anyway, after the run, Sarah and I shored ourselves up with shakes and fries at Canyon Rim Park. 130.5 lbs, 29% body fat.

    I ran 5 miles at Sugarhouse again, and again my legs felt like sticks.
    129 lbs, 27% body fat

    On Wednesday, I ran four miles down Highland Drive and back, past the Cottonwood Mall, for a total of eight miles. Not a bad run at all, if lacking in scenic appeal.

    Thursday morning I went to Sugarhouse Park, but I only made it once around the 1.4-mile loop! I don't know if it was stiffness or injury, or because I had half a jar of low-carb peanut butter on celery for dinner the night before, or what, but I could barely move my legs. It was like I had no muscle tissue at all, just little tiny tendons trying really hard to pull my leg bones around. Ugh.

    Saturday's run was SO much better. I was in California with my mom, and I ran nine miles along the beach from Asilomar to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and back. The weather was ideal and the views were amazing. My legs were still pretty stiff, but the air felt rich and the run was totally manageable. It took me a bit less than two hours all told.

    April 26, 2006

    Lisa: Boston, Day 3

    On Wednesday morning (March 22nd), after running, Janell and I took the bus (a 5-minute ride) to the convention center for the second day of our Early Literacy workshop. We left the workshop a bit early to see Nancy Pearl speak, but when we got there the huge auditorium was already packed. We ended up sitting on the floor along one wall. Unfortunately, the program ended up being mostly publishers introducing some of their new titles, but Nancy did introduce them and she was hilarious. She shared a few things I wanted to pass on:

    People clap before a speech out of faith and hope; they clap at the end out of charity.
    --Bishop Sheen

    She also told a hilarious story about finding herself locked, naked, in a hotel bathroom with a broken door handle. Her first thought was, "I am locked in the bathroom of the Mallory Hotel...and I have NOTHING TO READ." Instead of panicking, she then said to herself, "what would Nancy Drew do?" She got busy with a nail file and soon sprung herself from her prison. Only then did she look back into the bathroom and see the telephone next to the toilet.

    The publishers did introduce a few books that I added to my list of books to read:

  • The Brief History of the Dead, by Kevin Brockmeier

  • Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn, by Sarah Miller
  • Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer (although that one seems to be a vampire romance...?)

    Anyway, Laura joined us for the afternoon, and we took a bus to Harvard Square where we couldn't resist taking a few pictures on the Harvard campus...

    ...and had lunch at a sort of mongolian BBQ place called Fire and Ice. Then we headed up to the Harvard Museum of Natural History (miraculously arriving during their few free hours) to see the glass flowers. We walked around Cambridge for a while, going in lots of fun shops, and then walked back to the hotel. Along the way back I took a picture of this building...

    ...which is next door to the Cambridge city hall. Back at the hotel we split up, and after dropping of some of our things, Janell and I took the T to Park Street, where the Loews theater is. One of the ladies from the library had gotten us tickets to see the premiere of Hoot, a movie based on the Carl Hiaasen book. We ate paninis (with more hot tea--BRRR!!) at the nearby Emerson Cafe (Which brings up a problem we kept having in downtown Boston: where do people eat? If you don't want Dunkin' Donuts or Au Bon Pain, I think you have to have a secret insider's map of the city.) and then ran through the wind over to the theater. Hoot was pretty cheesy (and approaching Ferngully levels of environmental consciousness), but kind of cute and funny too. Plus, Luke Wilson!


  • April 25, 2006

    Lisa: Boston, Day 2

    It has taken me awhile to get around to posting about the rest of my trip to Boston, because things have been super crazy at work and at home. But better late than never, right?

    On Tuesday morning (March 21st), Janell and I decided to walk from our hotel in Cambridge across the Harvard bridge to the convention center in Boston proper. The walk wasn't long, but it was freezing cold. The good news is that when we were crossing the bridge we got to see the MIT women's crew team out practicing... well as some of the Smoot markings.

    Once across the bridge, we stopped at a convenience store for some hot tea, string cheese, and a blueberry muffin (Yes, I actually ate a muffin. And it was DELICIOUS.). Almost every person we saw walking around Boston was carrying a travel mug or take-out cup of a hot beverage, and as soon as I got my own it was obvious why. The cup serves as the best hand-warmer money can buy, and then when you are waiting for the bus you can take a few sips and warm your belly, too. Just make sure you have a cup with a lid that fastens securely, or you will slosh scalding tea all over your hand on the bus, like I did a few days later.

    Janell and I were in a conference on Early Literacy all morning, but on lunch we walked past Copley Square... the Boston Public Garden, hoping to see the Make Way For Ducklings statue.

    After seeing the ducklings (the rest of the park was pretty bare and muddy), we had lunch at Au Bon Pain, which we don't have in Utah but that was everywhere in Boston. After lunch, we headed back to the Hynes Center for more conferences. At the end of the day, we walked next door to the biggest, most convoluted mall ever (well, biggest might be an exaggeration) and ate at the Cheesecake Factory. Not really an example of local cuisine, I know, but it was tasty and they do have sugar-free cheesecake.

    After dinner, we stopped at Trader Joe's (another chain that hasn't hit Utah yet), which was AWESOME. I got Blake some of the fruit slice candies he loves (Which I found out are called Boston Fruit Slices and I ended up seeing all over Boston. Curse you, Utah, and your lack of fruit slice candy!) and these low-carb tortilla chips made of soy and flax seed, which were actually really tasty. Too bad they don't sell them online!

    We took the bus back to the hotel and then stopped at the Star Market, which was ATTACHED TO OUR HOTEL, for breakfast groceries and more snacks. The only bummer part of the day was that I completely killed my feet by walking everywhere in stiletto boots.


    March 21, 2006

    Lisa: Boston, Day 1

    This week I am in Boston for the Public Library Association national conference. Here's my first daily report!

    Security was terrible at the Salt Lake City airport, which meant that I barely made my plane, and that my luggage did not. Nevertheless, I got to the gate in time and everything was fine. Janell (another children's librarian from Whitmore) and I watched Pride and Prejudice on my laptop on the plane, but the battery crapped out with ten minutes still to go (wah!). We got to Boston around 4:30 pm, and successfully found the hotel via bus and subway.

    We stayed at the Hotel at MIT, which was AWESOME. I couldn't resist taking a few pictures...

    Here's sort of a dark close-up on the throw blanket:

    A wall sconce out in the hallway that resembles a microchip:

    The lounge downstairs:

    We ate a tasty dinner at the Asgrave, a sort of Irish pub right next to the hotel, and then walked down to Harvard Square. Most of the shops were closed, but we were able to go into the Harvard Bookstore, the Harvard Coop, and Urban Outfitters. We took the subway back to the hotel to get out of the cold and got into bed. My suitcase got delivered at about 1:30 am, alleviating my fear that I'd have to go to workshops the next day with no makeup, wearing the dirty clothes I wore on the plane.

    To be continued!

    September 20, 2005

    Lisa: California and IKEA

    It's a good thing Mallory covered our trip to California, because Sarah and I have obviously lost the will to blog. I took a few lame-o pictures at the beginning of our trip, but that was it. Anyway, here they are:

    From our first stop for gas, at a Chevron next to the Garden of Eatin'

    Our super-glam hotel

    Hollywood & Vine

    Here's the lamp I bought for our dining room at IKEA!

    Sarah and I installed it on Saturday, our super building day. We used it to replace this lamp

    which will be for sale on eBay if anyone's interested.

    On our super building day, we also finished assembling the workbench from hell (Blake's anniversary present)

    and built Sarah's IKEA bed and coffee table.

    July 29, 2005

    Lisa: UK trip, day 14

    On Friday we had time to eat breakfast at the hotel before we had to get going for the airport, and it was tasty--but served in a basement dining room that was a bit hectic.

    We hiked up the stairs, grabbed our bags, and hiked back down the stairs and to Victoria station to catch the Gatwick Express to the airport.

    We had plenty of time and places at the airport to spend our last few pounds--in between about five security checks! "Heightened security" at U.S. airports is nothing compared to what we saw at Gatwick. Maybe we looked especially shady or something.

    On our long flight from London to Dallas, they showed The Notebook for the in-flight movie, and Molly and I (along with most of the women on the plane) were weeping silently with our headphones on by the end of the show. I think Blake thought we were somewhat insane. Unlike our trip into London, my legs were really painful and my ankles and feet swelled up. Maybe it was the slightly smaller plane that made the difference.

    Our flight from Dallas to Salt Lake was pretty uneventful. I think all of us slept the whole way (we had been up for 24 hours at this point, after all). Then it was back home and back to the daily routine. I even had to go to work the very next morning!

    All in all, it was a wonderful trip. I hope rereading this journal and looking at the pictures we took will provide great memories for a long time to come--at least until we save up enough money for another trip!

    Start Back at the Beginning

    July 27, 2005

    Lisa: UK trip, day 13

    We got up quite early this morning so that we could catch our train for London at 8 am. The owners of Dunedin House left out some breakfast food for us, which was nice, so as soon as we were packed we hopped on to the city bus and headed to Waverly Station. We felt like experienced bus travelers by now--no need to call a taxi!

    On our train ride back to London, a train in front of us broke down, causing a delay, and we picked up some of their passengers--making our very HOT train car also very crowded. The plan for the night (after checking in to our last B&B) was to divide and conquer. We each wanted to see three museums in differing amounts: the Victoria and Albert, the Natural History Museum, and the British Museum. Since they all close around six, we wanted to try to see as much as we wanted of each of them before then. My plan for after dinner was to try to track down the toiletry bag I had left at the Garden Court Hotel.

    Unfortunately, Thursday night didn't work out quite as we had hoped. The train just got hotter and hotter, and more and more full, and the automatic door between our seats and the smoking section kept opening and letting out smoke on us, and we just got more and more misterable. When we finally got to London, we were hot, sticky, and starving. We grabbed some overpriced sandwiches in the King’s Cross station and ate them standing up (because for some reason the English don't believe in seats in their train stations, not to mention garbage cans) before dragging our luggage onto the subway to Victoria Cross station, close to our last B&B, the Elizabeth Hotel (not nearly as pleasant as it looks on their website).

    When we got there, our room was up three flights of stairs and was tiny and not air-conditioned. I didn't think I'd ever cool down!

    Blake wasn’t feeling too well, so he opted to take a shower and spend the afternoon in the room, but Molly and I headed out to the Victoria and Albert museum as planned. We split up so that we could each see the sights we were interested in, and agreed to meet back at the room so we could go to dinner together.

    I spent most of my time at the Victoria and Albert looking at the fashion exhibits. There was an amazing exhibit of the clothing of Queen Maud of Norway.

    After I was done at the V&A, I took the subway over to the Garden Court Hotel. I had left my toiletry bag there on the previous Friday, and had several subsequent frustrating phone conversations with the staff there, trying to track it down and get it back. At first I was hoping they could ship it up to the Dunedin House in Edinburgh. I thought that it could be waiting for me when we got done with our Highland tour, and then I could use my regular toiletries and take my medicines and everything for the last four days of our trip. Unfortunately, I overestimated the competence of the hotel staff, and probably the speed of the UK postal service as well. When the bag still hadn't appeared by the time we were leaving Edinburgh, I called the Garden Court again to see if the bag had been mailed. The woman working at the desk had no clue, of course. I told her to leave a message for her manager that if they hadn’t mailed the package yet, they shouldn’t mail it--and that I would stop by on Thursday night to try to pick it up. Long story short, the bag was waiting there for me on Thursday (with no explanation as to why it hadn't been mailed). Anyway, I was happy to have the bag back to take home, at least.

    On the way back to the subway stop, I stopped at Boots, a sort of drugstore that sells all kinds of toiletries and things, and is ubiquitous in Britain. Kate (from our Cornwall tour) told me that Sol-Tan, the Boots-brand sunblock, was the best ever--so I had to get a bottle (or two, since there was a 2-for-1 deal)!

    Then I tried to get back on the Underground to go back to the Elizabeth Hotel, only to find that there were massive delays on the Circle Line. I had to take THREE very hot and crowded trains to get back to Victoria station, and it took me about an hour. When I got there, Blake and Molly were waiting to head out to dinner, so I turned around and we walked over to a place recommended by the hotel. After we ate, we stopped at a convenience store for necessities: specifically water, candy, and pints of Ben and Jerry's ice cream!

    After the ice cream and a cool shower back at the room, I felt much better. We settled in for the last night of our trip, which turned out to be (in the grand tradition of that whole day) noisy and hot.


    July 26, 2005

    Lisa: UK trip, day 12

    On Wednesday morning, we had a great breakfast at Dunedin House again before taking the city buses to Ocean Terminal to see the royal ship Brittania. We looked around the small museum, and then Molly and I toured the boat itself.

    It was really neat to see the royal quarters,

    (drawing room)

    as well as the kitchen, laundry, and other more 'behind the scenes' areas on board. Everything was so compact, but organized and shining clean!

    Afterward, we collected Blake (who had been reading on a couch while we were on the boat) and took the bus back to Princes Street. Our first stop there was the National Gallery of Scotland, which was great. It wasn’t too big--the perfect size for an art museum, really--and there were a lot of wonderful paintings there.

    We grabbed some takeway lunch at Marks and Spencer, and ate lunch on a bench in Princes Street Gardens. Our next scheduled stop was the Museum of Scotland, near the top of the Royal Mile but a few streets over on the opposite side from the gardens. Before we headed there, though, Blake wanted to stop at a whisky shop on an errand for a friend of his at work--and the good whisky shop was near the bottom of the Royal Mile. By the time we got back up to the museum, we were all pretty tired. In our Rick Steves guidebook, the museum got a rave review, and (to be fair) it looked like they had some amazing things there. However, we were a bit frustrated with the layout of the museum, which didn’t really lend itself well to a single path that takes you past all the artifacts, as well as with the confusing and non-linear audioguide. We decided we were just too tired to appreciate it, so we headed back to Dunedin House for a nap.

    It was still quite light when we got up and headed back out, so we decided to ride the bus over to New Town to try to find a cool-looking cemetery we had seen over the rooftops from the Royal Mile.

    When we got off the bus, Molly walked us basically right to it (yay!) and it turned out to be really interesting.

    (sign outside)

    (The obelisk is for some guys who were influential in creating the Scottish parliament, if I remember correctly.)

    (the base of the obelisk)

    (Those turrets you can see in the background are next door on the property of the governor's residence.)

    Among the old-fashioned headstones and vaults was David Hume's grave

    (Blake with his buddy Hume)

    and a monument to Scottish-American soldiers who died in the American Civil War.

    (Yeah, that's Abraham Lincoln up there.)

    From the cemetery we could see some other monuments up on a hill,

    (That's the City Observatory that you can see.)

    so we walked over to check it out. It turned out to be a monument for Admiral Lord Nelson, the City Observatory, and a sort of neo-Classical collonade of pillars that I couldn't discover the significance of.

    It was a fun place to walk around, though.

    (I told Molly and Blake to strike a saucy pose, and this was the best they could do.)

    (looking back down over the city from the observatory)

    For dinner, we headed back to an Indian place we had seen on the Royal Mile, which was tasty but crowded, and then returned to Dunedin House to repack and go to bed for the night.


    July 25, 2005

    Lisa: UK trip, day 11

    On Tuesday, we got up and enjoyed the "breakfast" part of "bed and breakfast" (finally!) and took the city bus up to the top of the Royal Mile so we could be at Edinburgh Castle when it opened. At the castle, we saw the Scottish crown jewels, the royal apartments, St. Mary's chapel,

    (the altar inside St. Mary's)

    and the War Museum, which was very cool.

    (outside of the war memorial)

    We had some lunch at the castle's café before setting off down the Royal Mile.

    (You can see these statues of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace as you leave the castle. Those people are totally not with us.)

    Views of the city from the castle:

    Blake was a very good sport on Tuesday, as the Royal Mile mostly means shopping! We found lambswool scarves in the Smith and Anderson tartans for our dads for Father's Day, and got a few things for ourselves too. Most importantly, Blake got a kilt and a Scotch thistle kilt pin!

    (Deacon Brodie's tavern)

    We did also stop at St. Giles Cathedral

    (stained glass in St. Giles Cathedral)

    (St. Giles' organ pipes)

    and a museum covering the history of children's toys. When we got down to the bottom of the Royal Mile, to our dismay we found that Holyrood House was closed because the royals were in residence!

    (outside Holyrood House)

    (the new Parliament building across the street)

    Instead of spending time there, we walked up to Canongate Church and checked out the little cemetery behind it,

    and then trekked over to the Princes Street Gardens. I decided to climb to the top of the monument to Sir Walter Scott,

    which meant climbing over 275 steps up a narrow and quite claustrophobic spiral staircase--

    (There I am at the top! That's as far as Molly could zoom in.)

    but the views of Edinburgh from the top were amazing!

    (Waverly Station)

    (toward the Royal Mile)

    (overlooking the National Gallery)

    (over Princes Street and New Town)

    We walked back across Waverly Bridge to have dinner at an Italian restaurant on the Royal Mile, and then headed up to Warriston Close to the office of our ghost tour: The Real Mary King's Close. They took us down into the close, which had been built over with the new parliament building in the 1800s. The guides were in character, and they had some little scenes set up down there. It was a bit campy and cheesy, but it was also really interesting to see how closely together (and in what filth) the people of Edinburgh lived at that time.

    After our tour, we headed back to our room to relax and read for a while before turning in for the night.


    July 24, 2005

    Lisa: UK trip, day 10

    On Monday morning, we started on our way back to Edinburgh. After crossing the Skye Bridge for the last time, we headed up to Loch Ness for some photo opportunities. Our first stop was at Urquhart Castle. We didn’t go into the castle, just took pictures of it with Loch Ness behind.

    Then we stopped at the cheesiest Loch Ness gift shop ever, where there was an underpass we could take to get down to the water of the loch itself.

    After Loch Ness, we drove through Inverness (where Frazer claimed all the people were ugly and inbred) and stopped at the Culloden Battlefield where the Jacobite rebellion was quashed.

    (That's us in front of the cairn commemorating the dead Jacobites. NOT a flattering picture, but what can you do.)

    (That's the battlefield itself--well, part of it.)

    For lunch, we stopped at a pub called the Tipsy Laird in the town of Kingussie.

    Our last stop of the tour was in Dunkeld,

    (Molly and Blake in front of the Cross, a memorial to the Dukes of Atholl.)

    where we visited the Dunkeld Cathedral

    (outside of the cathedral)

    (organ pipes)

    and saw the sarcophagus of a horrible psychopath called the Wolf of Badenoch.

    Of course, we didn’t touch his coffin, as that would have been VERY bad luck.

    (the ruined section of the church)

    (grounds outside the cathedral)

    (more of the grounds)

    Then it was back to Edinburgh and the Haggis office! When we got back to Edinburgh, unfortunately it was time to do laundry again. At least we already knew where the launderette was! We stopped there on the way to our B&B, and Molly and I found some doorstop sandwiches in a nearby shop. Blake tracked down a Greek pizza shop, so he was happy.

    Our suitcases full of clean clothes again, we walked the rest of the way to our next bed and breakfast, the Dunedin Guest House. It was quite close to the Turret Guest House, so we were on familiar ground. We checked in and relaxed in our room for the rest of the night, knowing we had a big day of walking ahead of us.


    July 23, 2005

    Lisa: UK trip, day 9

    On Sunday morning we woke up, had breakfast at the hostel, and got back on the bus. Our first stop was the Sligachan River. Frazer told us a legend, the upshot of which was that if you stuck your face in the river and held it there for five seconds, you would have eternal youth and beauty. Blake did it!

    After a bit more driving, we stopped for a walk in the Black Cuillin Mountains, up to some "fairy pools" above a waterfall.

    (There's Blake in the poncho he insisted on bringing.)

    Blake and Frazer were the only ones to strip to their swimsuits and jump in, and Blake said the water was freezing!

    After our hike, we drove past Dunvegan Castle, which is still the seat of the Clan Macleod.

    We stopped for lunch in the town of Portree, which is a fishing village with a beautiful natural port.

    While Blake and Molly were in a café having lunch, I sat in the courtyard to eat the sandwiches I had packed at breakfast and then walked around and went into some shops. I found a store that sold some really cool clothing batik-printed with Celtic designs, and I bought a skirt there.

    Our next stop after Portree was for another hike, this time up to the Old Man of Storr, a rock formation on the side of a mountain. It was a VERY steep hike, but not too long, and getting to the top was worth it. We had a beautiful view of the coast and of the ocean on two sides.

    (I did not style my hair like that on purpose. I swear.)

    (me and Blake again)

    Our last stop on Sunday was at Quiraing, a lookout point at the top of a very windy and narrow road. There were tons of sheep around, which meant (as always) looking out for sheep-poop land mines.

    I should mention also that all over the Isle of Skye we saw the long-haired orange Highland cattle, or "hairy coos," as Frazer called them. Legend has it that touching the horns has a Viagra-like effect. Blake loved the hairy coos (not for their libido-enhancing properties), and has been singing little songs about them ever since.

    After that last hike, everyone was pretty tired and we headed back to Kyleakin for dinner and an early night.


    July 22, 2005

    Lisa: UK trip, day 8

    On Saturday morning, we got up early so we could meet at the Haggis tour office by 8 am. The wonderful Jimmy made us a bag of ham sandwiches, fruit, and juice to take since we would be missing breakfast, and we took a taxi over to the Royal Mile, where the office was.

    There were a whole bunch of tours leaving from there at once, but they got us all sorted out and assigned to the right buses. We met our guide, Frazer, who was the driver for the tour as well. He talked quite a lot while he drove, which was fun. He explained to us right away about Scottish weather. It was gorgeous and sunny on Saturday morning (and sunny and HOT when we were back in Edinburgh), which he said was "miracle weather." The other two days of the tour were what Frazer called "sexy weather": drizzly, with misty clouds covering the tops of the mountains.

    Our first stop on Saturday was in a little village called Killin. Apparently, the little cascade of waterfalls there (the Falls of Dochart)

    is very famous and has been painted a lot. We walked to the tiny grocery store to get some food for lunch, and talked about how fun it would be to retire to Scotland.

    Our next stop was in Glen Coe,

    where we heard the story of the massacre and got off the bus for a little hike.

    It was raining a bit, so we ate our lunch on the bus before setting off for the Great Glen.

    Frazer had us practice our guttural sounds by reciting the names of the four lochs in the Great Glen: Loch Linnhe, Loch Lochy, Loch Oich, and Loch Ness. We actually turned off the road before reaching Loch Ness, and instead headed over to Loch Garry. Loch Garry is vaguely Scotland-shaped, and so is on a lot of postcards and calendars of Scotland.

    Then we drove through Glen Shiel, but it was too misty (in other words, the weather was too sexy) for us to see the Five Sisters mountains.

    Our next stop was the Eilean Donan Castle,

    which is famous to us because it was the castle in the Highlander movie. The owners still live in part of the castle, but we got to tour most of it.

    It was all furnished, and was quite fun to see. I especially liked the bedrooms, which had all sorts of crazy nooks, stairways up to windows, and cute little fireplaces.

    The castle itself is on an island with a bridge built over to it.

    The tour guide told us that the causeway was actually the last thing to be built--they had to bring over the building materials for the rest in boats!

    After seeing the castle, we piled back on the bus and headed to Plockton, a "tropical" fishing village with the Scottish version of palm trees.

    From there, we headed over the Skye Bridge (supposedly shaped to suggest a pair of seagulls in flight) to the village of Kyleakin. The village is tiny, with two restaurant/pubs and three hostels making up the main part of the town. We checked into the hostel, named the Saucy Mary after a Viking princess who supposedly flashed her chest at passing fishing boats. Our room at the hostel was tiny--barely enough room for a bunkbed, a twin bed, and a sink--and we had to share a toilet and shower facilities. The horrors! I guess we were a little spoiled after the B&Bs.

    Anyway, after we dumped our luggage we had some dinner at the restaurant that wasn't in the Saucy Mary, and set off to walk around the town.

    First, we walked out onto a little tidal peninsula and hiked up to the ruins of a tiny castle that was supposedly the residence of Saucy Mary herself.

    (That's part of the Skye bridge you can see through an opening in the ruins.)

    Then we walked up another little hill on the other side of the port where there was a monument to the local soldiers who died in World War I. The monument was in the form of a Celtic Cross--so pretty!


    July 21, 2005

    Lisa: UK trip, day 7

    I lost a little momentum, but here we go again...

    We had an early day today--we caught our train to Edinburgh from the King's Cross station at 6:15 am! There was a little tension when our taxi was a bit late, but soon we were safely on the train, enjoying the beautiful English countryside.

    When we got to Waverly Station, we caught a taxi to our bed and breakfast, the Turret Guest House. It was quite early (around 10:30 am) so we couldn't check in yet, but we left our bags and got some much-needed lunch at The Crags, a sort of pub aimed especially at the young backpacker/student crowd. Then we headed back to the B&B, checked in to our room (which was gorgeous!) and got our laundry together to go to the laundromat. I was already a bit upset because I thought Molly was writing mean things in her journal about me while we were on the train, and then to add insult to injury, when I unpacked my bag I realized I had left my toiletries carrier at the Garden Court Hotel! There wasn't much I could do about it at that point, so we got our clothes and asked Jimmy, the B&B owner, where to find the launderette. It was a pretty long trek away, especially with bags of dirty clothes, but it had to be done.

    After we did laundry (It's amazing how much better you can feel with a suitcase full of clean clothes!) we ditched our bags back at the B&B and headed out on a quest for dinner. Molly and Blake decided on a Chinese takeaway, and I found a little grocery store that was still open. We ate in our room, chatted, and then turned in for the night.


    July 12, 2005

    Lisa: UK Trip, Day 6

    The bus was scheduled to pick us up at noon, so we had some time to look around Bath. We decided to start with the Roman Baths, but there was a huge line of Japanese tourists waiting to go in, so we decided to look around in the nearby abbey for a few minutes first. It was beautiful.

    I especially liked reading the epitaphs on the grave markers all over the walls.

    After the abbey, the line at the Baths seemed to have calmed down, so we went in. It was pretty expensive, at over 9 pounds each, but they have done a nice job with the museum. Basically, we got to see inside almost all of the rooms--now most in ruins--and read about what each one was, how the baths worked, etc. The baths are still technically functional, with the hot mineral water bubbling up out of the spring, filling up the big main pool, and then heading out an ancient drain to meet up with the river Avon. The main pool is very picturesque, with a courtyard around it overlooked by Roman statues.

    I decided not to try a drink of the water in the pump room!

    After we visited the Baths, Molly and I went to the Jane Austen Centre. Jane Austen spent about five years living in Bath, and mentioned it to some extent in all of her books. A tour guide gave us some background on Jane's family, and then we walked through an exhibit with some replicas of clothing, furniture, etc. from her time period.

    (Molly with Mr. Darcy)

    After the Jane Austen Centre, it was time to get back on the bus!

    Our first stop in the bus on Thursday was Lacock, an idyllic little village that almost seems untouched by time. The BBC's Pride and Prejudice was filmed there, and you can see why. There aren't even TV antennae to get in the way of the shot!

    (Blake lusts after an anachronistic sports car)

    After Lacock, we got back on the bus and drove to one of the white chalk horses--actually a relatively new one--called the Cherhill White Horse.

    Next to it was an obelisk that was supposedly erected to commemorate a man who brought a woman back to life with a kiss after she was hanged.

    Not far past the horse and the obelisk was Silbury Hill, which is completely manmade. It doesn't seem to be a burial mound, so (much like Stonehenge and the other standing stones), they JUST DON'T KNOW why it is there or how it was built.

    Our last stop on Thursday was at the Avebury standing stones. The Avebury stone circles are much larger in diameter than those at Stonehenge, and a village is built right in the center. We had to pick our way through sheep fields to see the stones. It was definitely less touristy than Stonehenge, but I think it's a bit harder to appreciate without an aerial view outlining the shape of the circles, if that makes sense.

    (I don't think Molly was ready for this one)

    (OK, there she is)

    (See, we were really there!)

    (Can you see all the sheep poop?)

    After Avebury, we headed straight back to London and checked in to the Garden Court Hotel. It felt like a palace after all those hostels! We rode the underground to the Waterloo station (after a delicious Italian meal), took a ride on the London Eye Ferris Wheel, and then headed back to the hotel and to bed.

    (We could have asked one of the nice people in the car with us to take our picture, but did we? No. Very attractive result, don't you think?)

    Also, we met a really nice couple on our tour: PJ and Kate from Monterey, California. Maybe we'll run into them again someday!


    July 08, 2005

    Lisa: UK Trip, Day 5

    On Wednesday morning, we went to Tintagel, which is said to be King Arthur's birthplace. We walked out on a very windy cliff, from which we could see the ruins of a medieval castle. Our tour guide, Postman Pat, led us through a dramatization of the King Arthur legend involving plastic swords. Blake played Uther Pendragon!

    Then we walked into town to sample the Cornish pasties. Molly and I tried the cheese and onion, and Blake had one with steak. Yummy!

    At the request of our driver (Kenny) and several people on the tour, we stopped for a look-and-taste at a cider farm. Kind of boring for us non-drinkers, but we sat outside at a picnic table and sampled a bunch of different biscuits (cookies) that Pat brought along. We tried Jammie Dodgers, Jaffa Cakes, Hobnobs, and some chocolate chip and hazelnut ones I can't remember the name of.

    After the cider farm, we went to Glastonbury. Unfortunately, we only had time to go to the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey, but it was pretty cool. I guess we'll have to come back another time to see the Chalice Well and climb the Tor!

    After Glastonbury we went to Cheddar Gorge, which is supposed to be England's Grand Canyon. After a stomach-churning twisty drive, we got out and took a few pictures. The sides of the canyon are limestone, with green plants growing everywhere. It was about the size of Millcreek canyon! I think whoever named it (and made it a tourist attraction) must have had a sense of humor. Anyway, it's called Cheddar Gorge because it's right next to the town of Cheddar, where the cheese was invented. Also, the oldest human skeleton found in Britain was found there, and is called the Cheddar Man. Mmm, cheddar...

    After we got through Cheddar Gorge, we drove to Bath. We checked into the hostel (where Blake, Molly, and I got a private room, which was nice) and ate dinner at a delicious Indian restaurant with a bunch of people from our tour group. After dinner, we walked around Bath and found the places we wanted to see the next morning.

    On Wednesday, we saw...
    Sheppy's Cider Farm
    Cheddar Gorge


    July 07, 2005

    Lisa: UK Trip, Day 4

    I felt much better the next morning, and we headed off on the tour bus for Cornwall!

    So far we have seen a few more Neolithic stone things (Lanyon Quoit

    and Men-an-Tol)

    and even participated in an "ancient" fertility ritual!

    We're eating lunch on a beach near Land's End--it's so beautiful here.

    It's a bit cold for swimming, but sitting the beach in a hoodie with my shoes off is just about perfect.

    After lunch on the beach, we walked along the cliffs

    to Land's End and took our pictures next to the flagpole.

    Then we got back on the bus and headed to St. Ives, a quaint little fishing village with tons of gray stone townhouses.

    It was packed with tourists, but we managed to cram into a little restaurant for an authentic Cornish Cream Tea (a pot of tea, two scones, clotted cream, and jam). After our tea, we headed back to the hostel in Newquay.

    Here's what we saw on Tuesday:
    St. Michael's Mount

    Lanyon Quoit
    Sennen Cove
    Land's End
    St. Ives


    July 05, 2005

    Lisa: UK trip, day 3

    Monday we got ready quickly, snarfed some cereal and milk the hotel left out for us, and ran over to the travel office to meet up with our group for the Cornwall tour. The breakfast turned out to be a bad idea. Even though we had a great day of sightseeing planned (including Stonehenge) I got quite sick from the milk and spent most of the day throwing up next to the bus!

    Here's where we went on Monday:


    (starring Molly)

    (Heel Stone thingy)

    (Hey, it's us!)

    (Barrows across the road from Stonehenge)

    Dartmoor National Park

    (Real Dartmoor ponies?)


    clapper bridge

    Cox Tor

    (Molly took this photo from the top of the Tor. Unfortunately, I was down at the bottom in the parking lot, puking.)



    (the beach right outside our hostel)

    Anyway, we got to Newquay (pronounced Newkie), which is kind of a beachy surfer town, and I turned in for an early night at the hostel.


    July 03, 2005

    Lisa: UK trip, Days 1 and 2

    I have decided I'm going to post here what I wrote in my travel journal for each day on my trip, along with the pictures I took that day. It's probably going to be pretty boring for most of you, but you can either look at the pretty pictures and ignore the words, or skip these entries altogether. There will only two weeks' worth, and I'll try to post one every day, so it probably doesn't matter much one way or the other. You will be out of your misery soon enough.


    Blake and Molly and I got to the airport in plenty of time...but I hadn't updated my passport with my married name and had to get David to come back and pick me up so I could go get our marriage license. I made it back in time for our flight, though--phewf!

    A six-hour time difference between Salt Lake City and London meant that we got on our second flight at 4 pm our time and landed in London at 8 am their time. I wish I had slept on the plane!

    On Sunday, we found our Bed and Breakfast (the Georgian House Hotel), dropped off our luggage, and headed out to do some sight-seeing. We went to the British Library

    and saw a whole bunch of really old and important documents and books, like the Magna Carta, a Gutenburg bible, the first manuscript of Alice in Wonderland (including Lewis Carroll's original illustrations), etc. Then we took the underground to the Tate Modern and saw a bunch of art from the last century.

    Very cool--but we were getting pretty tired, so we headed back to the hotel for a shower and a nap. After our nap, Blake went foraging for food and came back with some authentically English chips, meat pies, chicken, and deep-fried sausage(!).

    We set our alarm for early Monday morning and went to sleep.

  • Picture 1: Statue of Sir Isaac Newton in the courtyard outside the British Library

  • Picture 2: British Library entrance

  • Picture 3: View from an upper floor of the Tate Modern
  • Tomorrow

    March 14, 2005

    Lisa: Los Angeles - Last Leg

    Well, I'm finally going to finish telling about my trip to California with the Tabernacle Choir. I'm sure everyone cares even less than they did a month ago, but it's my online diary. SO THERE.

    Okay, so after breakfast on Saturday morning we all walked from the hotel to Disney Hall, via an elaborate system of walkways and escalators in various office buildings that kept us from having to walk up too many hills. Since the women in the choir and orchestra are required to wear skirts and nice shoes when on tour, this was greatly appreciated.

    Here's Disney Hall from the street corner:

    After a bunch of waiting around and then a rehearsal, we were supposed to head back to the hotel for lunch. Unfortunately, Jeannine and I spent too much time in the L.A. Phil gift shop, and had to bypass the hotel and buy lunch at the cafe at our next venue instead. Before we left Disney Hall, we got someone to take our picture. Here we are:

    Anyway, we headed over to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and ate in the courtyard.

    Here's the outside of the cathedral:

    After some more waiting around, we got to go inside and get set up.

    After our rehearsal, I had to get a closer look at the tapestries hanging along the cathedral walls. From where we were sitting at the front, it looked like the subjects were painted on the fabric, but it turns out that these incredibly detailed portraits are actually woven. Anyway, they are all of different Catholic saints. Here's a closeup of one of the panels:

    At the back of the cathedral there is a super tall panel depicting the baptism of Christ.

    I thought this one was especially interesting from a theological standpoint, because it depicts Christ being baptised by sprinkling. In the LDS church, we interpret the bible as saying Christ was baptized by immersion.

    ANYWAY, after the rehearsal at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, we walked back down to the hotel to eat dinner and change into our concert clothes. Then it was walking back up to Disney Hall for a concert, walking from there to the cathedral for another concert, and then back to Disney Hall again for a third concert. After we walked back to the hotel for the last time, my feet hurt pretty badly because I was dumb and wore the pretty shoes instead of the sensible walking shoes.

    Which! Reminds me! Right before we went onstage for the last concert, the foot joint of my flute flew off and crashed on the cement floor backstage! One of the clarinet players grabbed his tools and fiddled with my flute until the low notes would come out again so that I could play the concert (thank you, Darin!), but I still have to get it fixed by a professional - and I should probably get the foot joint tightened a bit, too, so that doesn't happen again.

    So, that's the end. On Sunday we split up onto about six different flights and headed back to Salt Lake and cold weather. I drank three big Diet Cokes right before getting on the plane, which was REALLY smart. Anyway, a good time was generally had by all. I hope they ask me to go on tour with them again.

    Click here to go back to the beginning.

    February 12, 2005

    Lisa: Los Angeles, installment 2

    Our second day on tour, Friday, we had a bit of time before we had to get on the bus to head down to San Diego. My roommate and I decided to walk over to the Los Angeles Public Library, which was only a few blocks from our hotel.

    The gardens outside are full of symbolic statues, fountains, and other decorative elements, including stair risers with letters from different languages cut in brass, copper, and steel. When you enter the library, you can't see any books at all--just long hallways. It's the opposite of the new Main Library of the Salt Lake City Public Library System, which feels so open and modern. Of course, I had to check out the kids' section. Just outside the children's area is a huge, echoey rotunda with painted mosaics on the walls

    and ceiling, and a giant chandelier.

    The children's area itself feels old, full of dark wood paneling and shelves, with glass-fronted display cases.

    The story area

    and a reading nook next to it feel more modern,

    and sort of form a hallway into the ENORMOUS picture book room

    with a puppet theater at one end.

    On our way out of the library, we stopped at the gift shop. They had tons of cute things, and I ended up buying these finger puppets that I thought would be perfect for storytime.

    Anyway, the rest of the day involved driving to San Diego State University for a rehearsal, dinner, and a concert, and then driving back to L.A. I finished the only book I brought, Wind on the Moon, on the way down there, so I stopped at the University bookstore and picked up The Secret Life of Bees to read on the way back. I liked them both.

    One more day's adventures to tell. Seriously, it will be LIKE YOU WERE THERE.

    February 10, 2005

    Lisa: Los Angeles, installment 1

    As Sarah mentioned, I was out of town last weekend with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square on a tour to the national convention of the American Choral Directors Association in Los Angeles.

    We arrived at the L.A. airport on Thursday afternoon, and a small group of us rented a car and drove around L.A. instead of riding a bus to the hotel and sitting around in the lobby until our rooms were ready. We are such rebels. Anyway, we ate at California Pizza Kitchen (hey, it's a chain, but it has California in its name!),

    walked around Venice Beach, and stopped for a bathroom break at the LDS temple.

    One of the ladies with us wanted to go to a double reed store to buy a new oboe, and while she was in there I got a photo of the Hollywood sign.

    Silly, I know, but I felt it lent a sense of closure to our unsuccessful quest last May. We finally made it to the Marriott for dinner, and then headed up to our rooms. This was the view outside our window!

    Tune in soon for the next REALLY EXCITING installment...

    July 12, 2004

    Lisa: Road Trip

    Blake and I went with some friends to a cabin in southern Utah this past weekend. Can I just say that Utah is gorgeous? Here are a few pictures I took at the cabin and at Cedar Breaks National Monument (click on the thumbnails to see enlarged versions).

    Someday I will write entries instead of just posting pictures. On the docket:

  • Rant about UNT screwing up my financial aid AGAIN and subsequently dropping me from a class I have to take to graduate
  • The contents of my purse (Because why else do you read a blog but for detailed and asinine personal information?)
  • The solution to the mystery of how a 25-year-old making less than $11 per hour and supporting a baby and a stay-at-home wife can afford to live in a giant historic mansion (This one might take a while since I haven't solved the mystery yet.)

    Also, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SARAH!!!! Many happy returns of the day, etc.

  • November 17, 2003

    Lisa: Don't choose me to be your Secret-Keeper

    Because it is KILLING me not to talk about this brilliant idea Blake and I have been cooking up, I am posting a few pictorial clues for Sarah to puzzle over.


    I guess while I'm here, I should apologize (in case there's one person out there who cares) for being a horrible blogger. I have been trying to pass my classes, working, helping Blake apply to law school, starting a small business with my mom, and sewing my costume for Trilogy Tuesday(!). All caught up now? Good.

    May 08, 2003

    Lisa: THROTC, Final Report

    I know people everywhere are hanging on the edge of their collective seats to find out how my hotel room saga ended. I talked to the manager of the hotel today, and I am happy to report that I was professional and firm but not nasty. The manager is simply SHOCKED that such a thing could happen! She can't understand why I didn't personally seek her out between the hours of 7 am and 4 pm and tell her what was going on! She had no idea! She has NEVER had a problem like this before! Anyway, she will supposedly be arranging a refund to my work from the corporate headquarters of the hotel chain. She tried to convince me that gift certificates would be just as good, but I didn't bite. Anyway, all's well that ends well. At least I got to watch Driven: Jennifer Lopez on VH1.

    Update (7/31/03): I have never received any kind of refund. I HATE THEM.

    For the first entry in this series, click here.

    April 30, 2003

    Lisa: Update on THROTC

    Well, it did get worse from there. I called the night manager, and he came and took the grody food away. He promised to leave a note for the housekeeping staff, but he did NOT offer me another room. Later that night, I discovered that my sheet had some sort of red goo stuck on it and that my toilet seat was covered with nasty pee and pubic hair. I laid in bed on the side farthest from the goo and tried not to cry. Okay, I cried.

    Anyway, I told the next manager on duty about the new problems, and he promised to add them to the note for Housekeeping. HOWEVER, when I returned from the conference yesterday evening, my sheets had not been changed and the toilet had not been cleaned! I told the night manager (the same one who was on duty Sunday night) about this oversight, and he promised to take care of it PERSONALLY, as soon as possible. Meanwhile, I went to ShopKo to buy various important items I had forgotten to pack (and the 24 DVDs!). I returned to find that nothing at all had changed in my room. I called the night manager (Jonathan) again, and he apologized profusely, calling me HONEY several times. I cannot stand people calling me honey, especially people MY OWN AGE!!!! Whew. Anyway, I asked him if he would just bring me a clean set of sheets that I could put on by myself. He did, but did not offer to put them on or clean my toilet or move me to another room. Also, he brought two top sheets and no pillowcases.

    I may find myself taking advantage of the 100% satisfaction money-back guarantee. But then would my work get the money back, since they are paying for the hotel? THEY didn't have to sleep with goo!

    On the upside: The conference is good and the other participants are very nice. I spent $100 at ShopKo and loved every minute of it.

    For the next entry in this series, click here.

    April 27, 2003

    Lisa: The Hotel Room of TOTAL CRAP

    This week I'm at a training conference for my job. I got to my hotel room tonight and there was old leftover takeout in the mini fridge and an EMPTY CONDOM WRAPPER on the carpet by the bed. Ew. Just ew. I hope the week goes up from here.

    For the next entry in this series, click here.