Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Summer Catch-Up (August Second Half)

I am back and finally ready to finish the month of August! It was so action-packed that really it deserved these two blogs. So, where did I leave off? Ohhhhh the 3 Amigos reunion!

Well, a few days after that, my sister Alex and I headed down to Long Beach for the annual Kite Festival. Not only were we going to see some kite action, but this specific evening had night kites with lights and fireworks. I never pass up fireworks!! We drove down in the afternoon and dumbly only brought light jackets. Obviously when going to the coast in WA, you should bring more than a light jacket. We grazed around the little trinket booths, posed as Jake the Alligaor Man - the famous half man/half alligator celebrity of Long Beach, listened with smiles as a large group of 60 year-olds played in an xylophone band for the beach entertainment, dragged our feet in the sand and avoided getting it in our faces from the coast wind and dined on a delicious dinner of McDonald's before we settled into a spot to watch the sunset and see the show. I was curious to see how they would make the kites light up and was pretty impressed when I saw kites strewn with christmas lights! Who would have know they could support the weight? Not only did they have fabulous lit kites, but they actually had synchronized kite flying. This was something else I wasn't really aware existed but I insanely impressed! I can't fly a kite in the first place, so to see four guys flying them in the dark, choreographed to music and not run them into each other was pretty fantastic! They all had blue christmas lights all over them, so as they were skimming through the sky with flips and dips it looked like four brilliant shooting stars! Towards the end of thier routine, they commenced with the fireworks and the combination was a great light show!

A few days later, Grammy and I climbed into the car for a 5-hour journey to Ashland, Oregon. My cousin, Cathy, and her husband, Paul, live down there and we headed down for a little visit. I'm sure about the same amout of people who knew about San Sebastian before my blog know about Ashland, Oregon haha. It's a picturesque town in southern Oregon where they hold the best Shakespeare Festival! I had been looking forward to it since before I came home (remember I mentioned it in my last blogs before I left Spain?) because in high school, Shakespeare had never been really too exciting. When you are reading the play in class with people who could care less and don't put any emotion into the words, the plays drag on. Having read about the Shakespeare Festival here though, I was estatic because I had only heard great things, and Cathy and Paul were sweet enough to get us tickets! After our long drive we found our way to thier new house (which was gorrrrrrgeous) and had some time to catch up before we headed off to the play. Cathy and Paul do quite a lot of travelling, so it was great to hear thier favorite places in Europe or share what we liked best about certain places we've all been. With a wealth of travel books for Europe, they helped me brainstorm amazing trips for this coming year! Highly recommended is Krakow, Poland...so maybe you will see that in future blogs!

After a tasty dinner and wine, we hurried down the street for our show - Much Ado about Nothing. I'd never read this play in school, so Paul briefed us on what to expect, but it was even better than we could have imagined! The Festival puts on more than 750 shows this year, but the actors were SO good, you would have thought they were only performing one show and it was ours! The outdoor stage even made you feel like you were actually watching a performance from Shakespeare's time. If you are reading this from the Northwest, I honestly suggest going - it was one of my favorite things of the summer! Here is the link if you want to check it out! Our Shakespeare experience didn't end with just the play; Cathy and Paul also set us up with a Backstage Tour. This gave Grammy and I a behind-the-scenes look at what actually goes into the Festival. Led by a set designer, we saw the Festival from someone who actually lives it every day! From learning about set changes for the multiple plays that are peformed in each theatre during the same weeks or intricate costume designs that cost thousands of dollars, we really saw how passionate everything that goes into the Festival is - which is why it shined through so much in the play we had seen! Shakespeare would be proud! Although, I did hear a little theory that maybe William didn't even write any of the plays! GASP! One thing I know he would be suprised to see is that his face adorns packs of playing cards in the gift shop...something I bet he wouldn't have imagined in his time!

With the afternoon to check out the rest of Ashland, Cathy showed Grammy and I around the area. With deer and baby fawns grazing in people's front lawns and homemade Noble Coffee, to the restaurant (Gepetto's was it?) that Grammy remembered so fondly of Ashland, I loved the adorable little town. People were actually nice, went the slow 25 mph speed limit and seemed to enjoy the day. Grammy and I followed suit, filling up the early evening with shopping (no ornament to be found, sad sad) and sight-seeing! The evening ended with a tasty steak, salad and wine from New Zealand (where Paul is from) and sadly the next morning we had to leave.

Without as much as an hour break, we drove home to Kelso, I changed clothes and headed north for another hour and a half to Seattle to meet a friend! Driving, driving, driving! My friend Brett had come to town for the weekend, and being the good WA tourist guide that I am, I happily agreed to show him my lovely state. Being tired as I was, we didn't do anything too spectactular the first evening, but the next morning we headed out to Mt. Rainier to hike! With good weather on the forecast we were pretty excited. You would think that living here for so long, I would have been to Mt. Rainier, but I hadn't! After the scenic drive into the national park, we parked the Buick and started our trek from Paradise at 5,400 feet. The hike took us up through the meadows of the mountain, where were lucky to see thousands of blooms that just framed the mountain and made every picture I took look like a postcard. Starting with flowers, as the air got thinner we ascended into shale rocks until we were passing glaciers and made it to the base of the snow pack. With just tennis shoes and shorts we stopped there and headed back down, but not before we were able to take in the break-taking views. I think sometimes I forget how much I love Washington, and it's moments like this that make me remember how great my state is. After we made it down, we checked into the Paradise Inn - a lodge built in 1916. Our room looked like it - reminding me of outdoor school in 6th grade! Regardless, we bundled up in our sweatshirts and headed back to the main lobby for the Ranger Talk, where we learned all about ravens and sipped hot apple cider. The main lobby area was two-stories and from the ceiling hung massive lamp shades, each with a different flower from the meadows we had just seen. A massive wooden piano, a 14ft grandfather clock and rustic chairs and fireplaces were placed around the main area and it made me felt like I should be getting my skis on and heading out for a day in the snow. So, although the room was circa 1916 the stay was great! The next morning we headed out for another hike - although this was at a lower elevation, so the scenes changed drastically. With the morning dew still fresh on the trees, the misty hike led us past a goregous reflecting lake and through more Spruce trees than I had ever seen, sprinkled with vividly bright flowers.

With our hiking done, we made our way back to Seattle and to a Mariner's game. Brett is an avid Mariners fan, so we ended up sitting about 10 rows behind home plate, only to watch the Mariners lose! Shame! It was ladies night at Safeco Field, so I managed to leave the statium with a pink Mariners bag, so it wasn't all a loss! We made up for the loss the next day with a lovely ferry ride to Bainbridge Island - one of the many islands in the Puget Sound. Unbeknowest to us, there was a wine festival happening on the island, so of course we partook! Turns out there are about 8 wineries on the island itself, so they were all out with gusto about sharing thier wine! After the sampling we wandered around the little island. With our picture-perfect weather, the marina and flowers couldn't have a better waterfront walk. I was beginning to become very impressed with the weather gods - everytime someone had visited me this summer, I got to show them around in sunshine! The next day consisted of the regular Seattle sights again, but this time we stopped by the Sculpture Park, which I loved! I had been before with my dad, but seemed to forget the peice of work that was transparent and let you see the Space Needle through it. Awesome! With the weekend going quickly, we ate our fair share of sushi and managed to make it back to another Mariner game, that they happened to win! A great end to my last Seattle trip of the summer. It's kind of funny, because I have seen some amazing places - Madrid, Rome, Paris, NYC and others - but every time I go to Seattle, I just get a feeling in my heart that it is where I want to end up.

Come Tuesday morning, Brett went home and I drove home, shocked that my August was gone! Time was coming so quickly to leave and I kept wondering where my summer went! But, I guess if it took me two blogs to tell you about my August, that was a good indication my summer was going great albeit fast.

Next and last for the summer catch-ups is September and then I can fill you all in about being back in Spain and Oktoberfest!! Have a great day!


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Summer Catch-Up (August First Half)

A few days after the reunion, I headed up to see more family - my dad and his side of the family in Seattle! My dad has really gotten into gold mining in Canada, and was spending much of the summer up there, so I was happy I was able to see him for a few days! Seeing everyone and catching up was great! They had just gotten back from summer camp and mining so we were all pretty mellow, but I did manage to try out the video game Rock Band, where you play fake guitars and drums and it judges you (I was pretty miserable ha) and learned how to solve the Rubik's Cube (Thanks Haley!). After a quick few days in Seattle I headed on my next trip (I know, I know...how many trips?!). This time I was heading to The Biggest Little City in the World to visit Cassie, my great amiga from high school. If you remember from old blogs, Cassie came to visit me in Spain and so now it was my turn to visit her!

I arrived late in the evening, so we dined on McDonald's and tinto de verano (her favorite drink from Spain). You make it by adding half Sprite and half red wine. If you're feeling fancy, you can throw in a peice of fruit! We spent the evening catching up. The next morning, we woke up with a mission. When I landed Cassie asked me if I would be up for doing this 'swing thing' at one of the casinos that is kind of a mix of skydiving and bungee-jumping. Of course she knew I would say yes, so we headed off to do what we renamed the Swing of Death. We had woken up pretty early, so when we got there, there was no line. We walked in, paid, suited up and did the ride all within about 7 minutes! They put us in these weird jumpsuit thingy and then clipped some bands to it. These bands hold you horizontally to the ground and pull you up in the air 180 feet and then once you're up there, you have to pull a string and then you just drop! Cassie did the honors and on the down, she closed her eyes and I screamed my lungs out! It went so quick, that by time we were done and out of the jumpsuit we were still kind of asking ourselves what just happened! We calmed our nerves the rest of the day by checking out the hotrods at Hot August Nights events that were going on around Reno and relaxing in the warm weather.
The next Nevada day took us to Tahoe. I have always heard it was gorgeous, but this day was virtually perfect! There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the secret little beach Cassie and her boyfriend knew of was completely secluded. With water so clear you could see the smooth stones at your feet. With the sun beaming, the afernoon turned out to be the most tranquil one I had all summer. Finishing up the night with some delicious authentic Mexican food, Cassie and I packed up to get ready for our road trip! We had planned to drive home to Kelso, but go through San Francisco and up Highway 101 along the coast! We started out after a must-needed coffee and were on the road to San Fran! Since I had already been to the city a few times before, I was excited to show Cassie the sights. When we got there, it was a bit chilly and of course foggy. We didn't care though, and threw on some sweaters and scarves and headed down to the waterfront. Between testing Ghiardelli chocolate to wandering in and out of cute shops and touristy ones alike, we made our way down the Embarcadero towards the business district. After a happy hour glass of California wine we decided we should trek up the 100-something stairs to the top of the hill that houses the Coit Tower. Halfway up the stairs, we realized it wasn't the most fun activity! Once we got to the top you would figure that we would be so overwhelmed by the views and beauty of the city we couldn't have cared about the stairs, but alas it was still too foggy to see anything so we sadly turned right around and bounded down and back to the water. Filling and warming up, we stopped in at the Boudin Bakery for some bread bowls filled with delicious chili (me) and clam chowder (cassie). We got full but didn't get any warmer because we couldn't find a table, and instead sat at a small table outside the bakery where we were accosted by a drunk homless man who asked us if we were finished eating. We were not so amused, but the diners inside thought it was hilarious. Boooo! With that we decided to call it a night! The next day was a bit sunnier and we hit the town on foot, with big hills ahead. We started on the windy Lombard Street and it was even prettier than I remembered it. The houses must have planted summer-blooming flowers beacause of the resident's porches were flowering gorgeous blooms. If you look close you can see my favorite house - it is on the right towards the top and they have an amazing purple flower that covers thier deck. The rest of the day included Chinatown (my favorite one in all of the cities I have visited) where I bought an 'oragami crane inside a glass ball' Christmas ornament, the shopping district where I bought a ring that was actually made out of a fork, and a long trolley ride while singing the rice-a-roni theme song! From a friend's recommendation, we dined at a very local sushi restaurant where I actually met someone who had been to San Sebastian and then headed to a cute lounge where a friend I worked at the newspaper at Arizona State University met up with us! The lounge we ended up at served bowls of popcorn with your drinks...odd.
The next morning shocked us because there was not a single cloud in the sky. Of course the day we are leaving there would be no clouds!! We were ok with it and were even happier when we started on the 101 because we got to cross the Golden Gate Bridge and actually could see it! I found out that the bridge that I normally call red is actually painted a color called International Orange. We stopped on the other side of the bridge for the obvious photo opps and somehow saw two ladies wearing the same striped red and white shirt and white jeans. They thought it was hilarious, especially because they were from different states. I was just confused...would it make more sense if they were wearing the same thing if they were from the same state? haha. Driving on I shot this pic and love it. On the road and San Francisco in the mirror...road trip here we come!

Driving up the coast, it was so great to drive through trees trees and more trees! With the windows rolled down you could feel the coast air and couldn't help but feel like you were driving through a forest. What we actually DID drive through was the Chandelier Tree - a tree so big you can fit a car through it. A well-spent $5! A quick large tree photo-op later we were back on the road and finally arrived in Crescent City, California. A cute little beach town we dined in style of the most popular pizza in town, watched the sunset on the rocky beach and got a nice case of bedbugs in the hotel. After discovering our bedbugs and the office being closed already, it was a long, cold night and in the morning we demanded atleast half of our money back! A few dollars richer, we were happy to leave Crescent City and headed to the Trees of Mystery - a huge tree park. With carved trees, trails, oddly shaped trees and a gondola to the tops of the trees, Trees of Mystery was a hit! It was still a bit foggy but the extreme green of the trees stood out against the drab brown of thier stumps. Elephant trees shaped like elephant trunks, cathedral trees growing in a semi-circle like the pulpit, and the candelabra tree that had had vertical trees growing from the horizonal stump were among my favorite redwoods. The best of the best in the park was definitley the ride to the canopies of the massive trees. It was only about a 5 minute ride but as you ascend into the trees, you can't help but think: 1) its so beautiful and 2) gosh i hope this doesn't break! At the top there is a small look-out, but seeing as there was still the early-morning clouds, we didn't spend much time gazing out. However, I was impressed with my little Canon camera because it DID manage to take this picture of some trees through a pair of binoculars. I know it's not the most amazing shot, but the fact that its taken through binoculars impresses me highly!

Trees of Mystery was our last big stop on the road trip and the rest of the way we sped up I-5. Upon arrival we immediatley set up a 3 Amigos reunion. Many of you probably don't know, but Cassie and I became friends in Spanish class in high school and did a bunch of group projects with our friend Cody. In fact we became such a groupo that we called ourselves the Tres Amigos! We planned a reunion at a mexican restaurant and caught up over some margaritas, very fitting! The Tres Amigos were all grown up, but still silly as we were in high school!

That was just the first few weeks in August! I think that this month was my busiest month of the whole summer and can't fit it all into one blog or it might not fit hahah! I will write more soon, promise! Coming up: nighttime kite festival on the beach, Shakespeare-filled days with family in Oregon, Mt. Rainier hiking and Seattle yet again!

Off to Oktobefest in Munich this weekend, so I will update more about my summer and tales from Oktoberfest next week! Have a great weekend!


Summer Catch-Up (July)

With only 10 days of my summer gone, I still had a lot of things to do and people to see. July started in Seattle, when my old friend Ivan came up. It had been over a year since I had been to Seattle and I was itching to get back. With blue skies and a beaming sun, I felt like a lucky girl, considering that weather doesn't grace the area very often. Our first day in teh city included the must-sees of Seattle. We started at Pike Place Market in the morning, to try and catch a glimpse of the fish-throwing spectacle. The funny thing is that IVan and I both worked for CitiFinancial, and in one of thier training videos they focus on teh teamwork of the Pike Place Market fish throwers. Basically, the video is saying that no matter how crappy your job is (I mean, really, who wants to throw fish all day?) you can keep a happy attitude and make your work fun. Looking back, I can see why they showed it to us Citi people haha! The fish were flying and the chants and laughs of the workers delighted the crowd. One man asked if he could catch his own fish! The deal is that if you buy it you can catch it. Qite the tourist experience! He sucessfully caught his Alaska Sockeye Salmon. Other crowd entertainment at the fish stand included a scary looking monkfish. The dead fish was connected to a string that a short man behind the ice controlled. Each time a kid walked by, he would yank the string, causing the monkfish to jump, which of course scared the witts out of the kids! Along with the must-see Pike Place, we rode to the top of the Space Needle, took a cruise on the Puget Sound and got some great shots of the city, put on our best fish faces for the aquarium and of course had tons of sushi! The highlight though was the fireworks over Lake Union!

Being at home for 4th of July was great, as I had missed so many big Americana days in the States: Election Day, Inauguration Day and Super Bowl. Quickly after the holiday though, I whisked myself away to NYC to visit friends. With a cheap flight, I couldn't really pass up the trip and was really looking forward to the city that I so abruptly left one year before.

Arriving on time, I was taken into the city by a rhyming cab driver. Every word out of his mouth was some sort of rhyme or rhyming song. He was hilarious and said when he came to the States ten years ago, he used rhyming to learn new words in English. Hadn't thought of that but who knows, I might make a rhyme day here if I get bored. My personal favorite was something about 'Welcome to the Big Apple, it is almost better than a peach Snapple.' Haha! Regardless of his silliness he dropped me off right in front of my old roommate, Katie's, workplace so I could drop off my bags. Immediatley I met up with some friends for lunch and wandered around Soho feeling refreshed to be back in such an energetic city. I had really missed NYC! Over the course of the next 10 days I met up with everyone I knew, had multiple lunch dates with friends, sipped martinis at happy hours, visited the Guggenheim Museum (I figured I should be able to go to the NYC one since I had been to the Bilbao, Spain one!), ambled around Central Park, drank a pint at the oldest ale house in NYC (McSorely's) and all in all, just had a relaxing although humid time. I planned it so that I could spent two weekends in the city, because I knew that during the week everyone would be working and I would be left on my own. The first weekend consisted of the annual BBQ that the old department I worked for at News America Marketing has. At the BBQ, it was as if nothing had changed since I left except for the fact that I wasn't there. I heard my fair share of the latest office gossip and drama, and was happy that I didn't have to work until September 21st! After the BBQ, I made my way back into the city with Arianna, my friend that was so great to fly from Chicago to NYC to spend the weekend with me. The next night of the weekend, I went with my old college friend, Monica, to an old speakeasy. Called Please Don't Tell (PDT), you can only get into this bar from the inside of a hotdog stand! You literally walk into the hotdog stand, then go to an old telephone booth in the back. You pick up the phone, say the name that is on your reservation, and the other side of the telephone booth opens up and voila you are in the bar! Needless to say, I was rather impressed.

The week passed uneventfully. Having lived there already, The Empire State and Times Square type things didn't draw me. I instead was more drawn to quirky NYC scences, reflections of buildings in other buildings and things that are beautiful if you take the time to see them. I tried some new restaurants and went to some old favorites. I trekked around neighborhoods I had only rushed through when I lived there before. It was great to be in the city and be able to actually appreciate it and soak it up as opposed to rushing from home to work to the gym. The second weekend came with much anticipation, because we had a surpise birthday party in the works. Not only was it a suprise party, but it was a suprise COSTUME party! 70s! Monica and I, along with a bunch of other friends, suprised our friend with a decorated house and...get ready for the best part...a roller skating party!!! Held in Trenton, New Jersey (not the classiest area), our 70s attire was quite shocking! Of course, everyone stared at us for our costumes, but we started right back for thier intense roller skating skills. My skills were not so top-knotch, seeing as I don't think I had been on a pair of rollerskates since what? 1994? The end of the party, along with the trip came to an end quickly. I said goodbye to my little New York apartment for the last time, since our lease was finally ending, and as I took off back to Seattle, I was really pleased that I made the impromtu trip.
Once back in WA, I only had a few days before my next anticipated event - the Gonser Family Reunion! In between my return and the family day, I spent a lot of time hanging out with Mom (going to the delicious Chehalis deli), Austin (never getting over how adorable he is), Grammy (puzzles, puzzles and more puzzles!) and at the library trying to check out as many books as possible! The family reunion finally rolled around and I was so excited to attend. I spent the day before helping Auntie Marilyn make the famous Gonser Chicken and Noodles, which turned out to be delicious. I hadn't been to a family reunion for about 5 years, so understandably people had a lot of questions, but the star of the reunion was Austin! Everyone agreed that he was just so cute!

Although there were a lot of trips, it seemed like July flew by! With a few more trips in my bag of tricks, I was anxiously waiting or the rest of the summer, but at the same time didn't want it to pass too quickly!


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Summer Catch-Up (June)

Well, as most of you know, I made it back to Spain, safe and sound! It kind of feels like I never left. The man in the yellow raincoat still rides the bus everyday with his fishing rods, the café con leche that I drink habitually tastes exactly the same (except it went up in price 10 euro cents!) and my kids are all happy to be back in class. Although it seems regular to be back, I did want to catch you up on what I did this summer. Although I wasn't travelling around Europe, I had an amazing summer seeing places in the States and I hope you find them as enjoyable to read about as my excursions here! The next few blogs will be a quick catch-up on my summer months that I so enjoyed at home. So...here goes!

Arriving home on June 19th, I was very excited to see the family! Leaving Spain was a piece of cake, except that I couldn't buy any jamón (spanish ham) because the duty-free clerk informed me that it wouldn't last for my 15-hour journey. It had become a staple in my diet and I wanted to share it with everyone at home, but I guess I learned my lesson: next time bring a lunch box with an ice pack to the airport! Customs was a breeze, as I had kind of forgotten what it must be feel like to be in your own country and not have to stand in the visitor's line. Although one of my suitcases had been professionally saran-wrapped in Bilbao so it wouldn't bust open (the zipper doesn't work anymore and every European airport I have been to has this saran-wrapping machines for 5€ so I figured why not hahaha), my luggage came through in good shape. Coming up the escalator, I was estatic to see everyone - Mom, Sam, Alex, Grammy and the newest addition, Austin! It is hard to believe I had been gone for so long - over an entire year! I mean, I haven't lived at home since I was 18, but I had never been away for such a long strech of time. After a bunch of hugs, smiles, tears and a few pictures of my shoes courtesy of Grammy and her 3-flash camera, we were ready to head home. Every time I come back to WAshington, no matter where I have been, I am always in awe of how gorgeous it is. This time was no different, and I was even blessed with sun - a rare occurence in the Pacific Northwest!

Settling in took some time. Not only did I need to catch up on my 9-hour tme difference, but I had to adjust back to the American schedule. No longer did I wake up at 10am and go to the beach or eat dinner at 10pm with a big group of friends and wine. Most difficult for me to get used to was the siesta! I had been spoiled with the Spanish nap, and for about the entire month of June, continued the habit. Who knows, maybe I could be a trend setter and get all the Americans into the napping mode! It was a bit overwhelming to get back with the huge stores, drive-thru restaurants and people who always speak English and understand me perfectly. I got a nice dose of culture shock (in my own country, weird, I know) on my first trip to Safeway. As many of you know, I worked at Safeway during high school, which just makes this story that much more absurd. One morning I walked into Safeway to pick up some frappucinos and donuts as a suprise to Grammy. I walked back to the bakery (the department I worked in) and started to decide how many and which donuts I wanted when I had a mini-panic-attack. How many can I buy? Can I use a box if I don't buy 12? How much do they cost? Can I touch them? Hahaha! These thoughts all ran through my head at lightning speed. You see, in Spanish grocery stores, the produce or anything you pick out yourself is assigned a number. When you pick out say your apples, you put them in a bag, remember the number for the apples and put them on the scale and when you press the corresponding number a UPC tag prints out with the price. Since it was only my second or third day home, it slipped my mind that we don't do that in the States and I finally calmed down and just put my 12 donuts in a box and walked it up to the register. Who would have ever thought donuts could cause such stress??

Once I finally got over my jetlag, I headed out for a fun weekend of camping at Cresep Bay. I met up with Brianna, one of my good friends since junior high, and a bunch of friends from high school that I had't seen in ages. Whether we were sitting around the campfire reminiscing or lounging on the boat working on our tans, we had a great time. I had gotten used to my Bay of Biscay water, but the runoff water from Mt. St. Helens reminded me how shockingly cold the water in WA is! This pic is taken on the boat and from left to right are Brianna, me, and a friend Jessica. The camping trip was a great way to kick-off the summer with bikinis, burgers and the boat!

With camping over, I only had a few more days in the month of June! Where was my summer going already? My sister, Alex, and I decided that in honor of my return we should dedicate an entire day to the glory that is Kelso/Longview. For those of you who know the area, it is hard to spend an entire day and stay entertained. We started at the Visitor's Center (yes, there really is one) and mapped out all the must-dos in the area. Topping the list were the Kelso Train Station, Civic Circle and Lake Sacajawea. We hit all three and even managed to squeeze in a few more spots. On our journey, I learned that Kelso was a thriving city before Longview was even built (yea, go Kelso!), found out that the old makeout point from high school is now a developing neighborhood (don't worry Mom, I never went with any boys), saw mailboxes fashioned into totem poles (very NW), searched and found my Grandpa Jewel's high school yearbook photo from 1945, determined that the Nutty Narrows Bridge (our bridge of an old fire hose that is made specifically for squirrels) is the old ne in the world, and that Longview was the only planned city in the country during the 20th century. What started off as kind of a joke ended up making me realize that although I am from this little town, it is actually packed with some cute and interesting places. Now if only they had a beach two blocks away...

June wrapped up and already I was two weeks into my summer. With a lot planned for the months to come, I made sure to get my rest in. I even went to the doctor and found out I had been living with bronchitis for 6 months. What started out as a bad illness when I was in Belgium for Christmas turned into quite the sickness. That just goes to show you that you can cough for 6 months straight around your friends and they don't think anything of it, but when you live with your Grammy and you cough for even 6 days straight, it's straight to the doctor you go!

My summer was off to a great start, and I can't wait to fill you in on the rest! But, I am off to bed. I hope you are all enjoying your first day of Fall! Also, a little shoutout to Alex, it's her 17th birthday! Love you sister!