Monday, June 29, 2009

Homonym

Helicopter

New England Style

San Diego Style

Imaginary Friends

The other day, I stumbled across this quote on Dawn's blog and I really appreciated it:

"Have fun, that's what your twenties are for.
Your thirties are for learning the lessons and your forties?
Are for paying for the drinks."
~ Carrie Bradshaw (Sex and the City)

Silly as it may sound, I am eternally grateful to Carrie and friends for helping me find the courage to get out of a bad marriage in my late twenties, allowing me a clear mind with which to learn the lessons of my thirties.

Maybe it's just a phase, but I've determined the smartest guy who ever lived was Lao-Tzu. I normally avoid questions like, "If you could have dinner with one person, living or dead, who would you choose?" But I suppose if I had to choose today, he's my man. Whenever I can't make sense out of people (which seems to be quite often in my thirties), I've learned to pick up the Tao Te Ching and read some of his wisdom. (Ahhh, the kind of wisdom that isn't shoved down my throat. Real, honest-to-goodness wisdom!) One of my favorite quotes of his is this one:

"When you are content to be simply yourself
and don't compare or compete,
everybody will respect you."

I'm sure my *self* is rather fluid. Like anyone, I believe I am influenced by people, places, circumstances, etc. But I believe that is how things should be. And that is precisely how we learn and grow... Not by remaining stagnant and rigid and stuck in our ways, but by evolving every day. I have come a long way from my twenties, when I thought I was supposed to do certain things or act a certain way just because society told me to. Life is so much simpler and I feel more content when I live the way I want to live.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

It's On!

I am the proud new owner of this beautiful
*yet-to-be-named*
Columbia 3-speed Townie.
I'll see you next month at Critical Mass!

(And, yes, that's Mother Culture in the background;)

Critical Mass

video

I've been itching for a bicycle, maybe because it's summer. I sold my folding bike a while back because it was too much of a hassle. Last night, Ben and I walked downtown and into the middle of Critical Mass. I'm itching even more now. Hopefully, by the last Friday of next month, I'll be revved up and ready to go!

Road Trip Pics

For anyone who is interesting in sifting through our pics in their entirety, click the links below. (Disclaimer: ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK- there are somewhere around 600 pics divided between two albums)

Road Trip 2009 (Samantha's Pics)


Ben's Road Trip Pics

Homeward Bound

We took the I-80 eastbound across the country, so we decided to take the I-70 westbound for some different scenery. I've now been through 39 of the 50 states and hopefully I'll get a chance to see the remaining 11 sometime before my time is up. My favorite landscapes were in Utah, Iowa, Colorado and oddly, Connecticut. I lived there for 23 years but I'm not sure I enjoyed the scenery as much as I did on this visit. Perhaps my opinion was skewed by the 23 New England winters I endured while residing there. Illinois was really pretty, too, which surprised me. There is something about the blue skies contrasting against acres of green farmland. Living on water, we get blue on blue, which can be pretty, too, but I always appreciate new color palettes. Utah had beautiful red rock against bright blue skies. The draw of Colorado is obviously the mountains: some green with pines and some capped with snow. Here are some pics from along the way. Obviously, I slept through Kansas and Nevada, so I didn't get any pictures.

Two shots of Illinois Farmland

St. Louis, MO

Colorado Rockies

Utah

Friday, June 26, 2009

When Was The Last Time...


You Did Something For The First Time?
The second night we were in South Haven, we decided to sleep in our brand new tent in Aunt Faye's backyard during an electrifying thunderstorm. I don't remember ever sleeping outside in weather like that. It's possible I did as a child on one of the many camping trips my family and I went on, but it's different when you're a child and you know your parents will protect you! This was the first time I've ever camped out in a thunderstorm in my adult life. I'm not sure I got much sleep that night, and I tried to stay as close to Ben as possible... I figured if I'm going down, he's going down with me! Lola was right in the middle, ears pricked, probably wondering what all the ruckus was about (we live in San Diego... it hardly rains here, never mind thunder and lightning). Every time the thunder cracked and the lightning lit up the tent, I reminded myself that someone somewhere was really camping... and didn't have the option of running for cover inside a dry, sturdy house. When the storm finally passed and we got a couple Zzz's, we awoke to find the other tent in the yard didn't fare as well as ours. Luckily no one was sleeping inside! Kudos to Eureka! for making one bad-ass tent.

South Haven, MI


We spent six days in South Haven, MI, a little town on Lake Michigan where Ben's mom grew up. There we met up with Ben's family (immediate, cousins, aunts, uncles... Everyone!) to celebrate his grandmother's 90th birthday. The weather was pretty severe the first few days after we arrived but then it cleared up and it was hot and sunny for the remainder of our time there. We took in some sunsets, walked around the downtown area and out onto the pier. We sat at Captain Lou's and watched the drawbridge. His Aunt Faye had a bonfire in her backyard for all the cousins. I am only posting a few pictures of South Haven here. Ben and I both carry cameras so you can imagine how many pictures we have of the entire trip. Once I finish posting some on my blog, I'll post links to our pictures in Picasa for anyone who dares to tackle the whole bunch!!

Here are a couple shots of the downtown area

And the waterfront


And of course a sailboat
The lighthouse on the pier

You Know Who
Monkey in the Middle
The Drawbridge

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Home Again, Finnegan

We arrived home this morning at 2:00 AM. We drove a total of 7,127 miles over a span of 22 days & 3 hours. Each time we stopped for gas, we switched drivers. Each shift, we drove anywhere between 180 to 297 (!) miles. Ben drove the record 297 miles. Not by choice. Around Mile 200, he began looking out for a gas station but Kansas decided it would be a good idea to toy with us. When we finally found one, 97 miles later, we had a quarter of a gallon of gas left in our tank. (We did have a couple gallons reserve in the trunk.) Needless to say, the next shift I stopped off for gas at 180 miles so as not to run into the same problem. Thin Mint averaged about 33 mpg with no mechanical problems. She was quite a trooper, as was Lola. I have pictures from the second half of the trip to post and hopefully I’ll get started on that tomorrow. Right now, it’s time for dinner and a margarita. It’s good to be home. :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Update

I haven't posted a blog in a long time because I wasn't getting a good wireless signal in South Haven, MI (where we spent the last six days with Ben's family). We are back on the road, heading home to San Diego. I'm writing this from a rest area in Colorado. We will be home sometime tomorrow and I'm sure we'll catch up on sleep before I catch up on blogging. I have lots of pictures to post, so check back again at the end of the week! Ttfn.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Videos

Here are a few videos Ben took during his visit to Connecticut:

Ben shooting the AKM ("Gunman for Hire"):


Panorama of Mt. Greylock ("Motorcycle Diaries: Chapter 2"):


Cruising with Frank ("Motorcycle Diaries: Chapter 2"):

Monday, June 15, 2009

Another Day at the Range

Yesterday was our last day in Bristol. Ben went to the gun range one last time with my dad and my brother-in-law, John, for a little competitive shooting. Here are a few pics:

John & Ben


Ben & John Loading Up


Commence Firing


Ben, John, Mr. X, Dad, Mr. Y & The Standing Man
The Victims

Me, Karen, Ben, John

Friday, June 12, 2009

Gunman for Hire

Yesterday, my dad took Ben to the outdoor shooting range up the hill in Wolcott, CT. There they did a little target practice with two revolvers [a Smith & Wesson .38 revolver (Model 60, custom, with a 3-inch barrel) & a Ruger GP-100 .357] and two rifles [an SKS and an AKM]. (Pardon my naivete if I got that information jumbled up!) Here are a few pics of the range and Ben trying his hand at rifle shooting. We've been invited up to the range again on Sunday for a match, so maybe someone will be coming back to San Diego with a gold medal! ;)

Mystic, CT

On Wednesday, Ben, Lola and I set out on a journey to Mystic, CT to get some pizza and check out the harbor. The weather here in Connecticut has not been very agreeable since we arrived. Apparently, Connecticut is the new Seattle. We have enjoyed a couple days of sunshine but mostly we see mist, fog, and rain. At first I was loving the change from San Diego sunshine but I'll admit I've reached my wit's end after a week of nothing but grey. And I'm not looking forward to the 10-day forecast of [you guessed it] more rain when we're due to arrive in South Haven, Michigan mid-week. I was pleased to know I'd be missing "June Gloom" in San Diego but it looks like she very possibly got caught in Thin Mint's bumper and dragged 3000 miles across the country with us. If anyone hears me complaining about the sunshine and warmth when I get back home, please feel free to smack me. Here are some pictures from Mystic: