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!


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