Too much road time

It finally caught up with me, down for the count.  It could actually be allergies and exhaustion from the super bloom too??  It’s so beautiful out, but with the allergy season that’s going to be huge I’m afraid to go outside!

So what have I been up to since I haven’t been able to blog?  A whole lot actually.  I did head out to Bisbee, AZ for my cousins 84th birthday, so glad I did.  This is my mom’s 1st cousin, last surviving of his siblings and always there for me as a kid.  Before his wife passed away I thought she sent me Christmas cards, it turns out it was always him.  When my kids were little (Frank was a baby) I went out for the 4th of July.  I set it all up perfectly, got a mini-van for a rental car and was meeting my mom at Tucson airport.

It started off horribly from the Oakland airport…my husband was running late, so late that he didn’t have time to park and help me with all the strollers, car seats, etc. or I’d miss our flight.  He dropped me off at the curb and I ran to make the flight.  When we got to Tucson, my mom informed me that she was going to save me a few dollars and cancelled my rental car, that a cousin was coming through to give us a ride.  What she didn’t mention was that we were leaving on different days, she had a ride back and I did not.  It’s about 100 miles from Tucson to Bisbee, she didn’t tell me until the 4th of July.

I spent the day trying to figure out how to get back to the airport, calling a Sierra Vista rental car place to see how much a drop off fee would be (costing me more than the original mini-van).  My mom asked my uncle to drive me back in his truck, which at that time was a 2 seater, which meant my kids would be buckled up in the front and I would be riding in the truck bed with the dogs.  She said, “Problem solved.”

My cousin Fred overheard the whole thing, there might have actually been tears involved on my part?  He offered to give me a ride in a comfortable car.  Not only did he and his wife – who never went anywhere – give me a ride, they stayed with me the whole time and waited for me to board the plane.  It was before 9/11, it must have been ’96 when Frank was just a few months old.

He’s saved the day more than once recently, we drove through last year on the way to New Mexico and picked him up for breakfast.  I left the dog in his yard, when we got back the dog was gone.  Before we left for breakfast, he and my uncle were programming his new cell phone, not going to lie, they were driving me nuts.  It took 20 minutes calling each other, making sure each number worked.  As I drove around looking for the dog for an hour, Fred calls us and says the dog came to his back door.  That 20 minutes of cell phone programming paid off.   I just cried and gave him a big hug, relief over the dog plus wondering if I’d ever see him again?

It’s been a rough year for him, very touch & go all year.  When I got the invite, my mom let them know we couldn’t go because she couldn’t go.  Her travel days might be numbered, especially on airplanes.  The more I thought about it, the more I decided to just go on my own and see him again.  Every time I go to Bisbee I wonder if it might be my last time too?  Always bittersweet.

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It poured during the party, that was OK though because the next day was too hot.  We spent day 2 all day at Warren ballpark watching the old time baseball tournament with original rules.  Someone told me the town of Warren was shaped like a ballpark, that never occurred to me?  It’s one of the first U.S. ballparks, a fun day with my cousins.   A nice treat was the rental car company didn’t have my normal KIA or Hyundai available, so they gave me a Mustang convertible…fun!!

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I’ve been gone almost 2 months now, getting my 6 mos check in for flying in there somewhere.  I just took the train back from LA up the coast, using my Amtrak voucher for the disaster delay last time.  It was beautiful, I definitely have worn myself out though.  Sunday I collapsed and had to cancel everything just to stay in bed at my mom’s.  She kept saying how horrible she felt, I just could barely move.  We propped me up like “Weekend @ Bernies” to get me on the train where I just stared out the window for way too long.  It was cool, don’t think I’ll do it again though.

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No trips planned for a little while until I feel better, slowly moving through the week.

Bend, Oregon

Last stop, what a great adventure this has been…nothing like a lengthy road trip to make you appreciate a nice shower and super sonic toothbrush.  My husband has been the concierge while I just drove, letting him know where I was going to be the next night then an email reservation would pop up and I would just press the address & go.

When I first pulled up to Wall Street Suites after driving from Seattle, I thought he got me a crappy motel off the Hwy.  When I saw the clerk didn’t have track marks (I say that because I couldn’t stay in a hotel in Santa Cruz, CA because of the clerk), I thought I’d at least check out the room.  It was like a small cabin, I slept like a rock!  It was convenient to downtown, hoofing distance.

Bend was beautiful, I hit some decent weather to get out.  The downtown area reminded me of Walnut Creek when I first moved here in 1992 before they built up Broadway Plaza.  It’s even more beautiful with a river right through it, gorgeous bungalow houses, lots of my favorite things (like coffee shops).

There’s still snow on the ground, after checking out the downtown I drove around a bit to cover as much territory as I could.  The only bummer about this trip was off-season timing, otherwise I could have hiked or spent time on that river.  Instead I checked it out for a return trip, possibly a place to live?  Those houses were gorgeous, not bargain basement either.  The Old Bend houses are over a million.

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Favorite house

A few things about Oregon that I wasn’t used to, the zero sales tax.  That was a nice little bonus that I read was subsidized by a higher personal income tax.  The other thing was the gas station attendants…by the 3rd time I filled up I didn’t scream when the guy came to the window to fill up.  My gas station routine is pull up, then dig through my purse on the passenger seat for my credit card where there would be someone at the window when I turned my head to get out of the car.  I had to make a conscious effort the 3rd time that there would be someone there and not to scare the crap out of both of us.

I’ll go back to Bend for sure, I’d like to spend some more time there to see if it’s a viable relocation place.  A few things I need to consider is my mom, I can’t be too far in case of emergency.  I told her March was a no crisis month for my trip, I’ll be down there in April.

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Full moon

I stayed one  more night in Mt. Shasta on the trip back down, it rained the whole drive.  It’s catch up day, which was supposed to be yesterday but I got a better offer to go sailing then to see Dennis Quaid & the Sharks at Yoshi’s in Oakland.  Seeing Dennis Quaid was on my bucket list, I’ve seen a lot of actors growing up in L.A. who look a lot different in person.  He delivered, he looked great and put on a show.

Regroup for L.A., stock up on my Nespresso pods that got me through much of my trip!

Portland – Seattle – Lopez Island

Still on the road, finally have a morning to write while I’m in Bend, Oregon sipping my Nespresso.

From Eugene, I stayed in Portland a few nights.  Most of the driving portion to get to Seattle was raining, the week before was the big snow storms so I was glad to have missed that while driving.  Rain I can handle, just couldn’t get out much.

Portland was beautiful, especially after Eugene.  There were great restaurants, very walkable (with umbrella) and it seemed to have a pretty efficient public transportation system.  I stayed at The Hotel Rose, a Pineapple Hotel, that a friend recommended.  The bonus there was a mini-cupcake every night.  I did a few touristy things, rode the tram and spent hours in Powell’s books.  Leave it to me to buy the heaviest books at the beginning of my trip, I bought some flying IFR (Instrument rated) text books that were used.  It rained the whole time, I could barely get my camera out.

Then on to help my friend with her baby…who was 2 days old by the time I got there and was back in the hospital for jaundice.  A little recap, I met her surfing in Mexico years ago and she’s single.  It’s a long story, but I drove up as adopted grandma to get them through their first week or so or she might not have had much help.

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Checking in on us @ the hospital

We spent the first day in the hospital while the baby was under the blue lights.  The baby was released that day, I brought them home in my big ass truck.  At some point I had to reset my phone, changing all the settings.  That worked out well because I didn’t know what parking garage I was in so when I checked my phone for something else it popped right up.  Good thing, I was heading in the wrong direction.

This whole trip I haven’t cracked open a map.

In Seattle, I fulfilled my grandma duties…cooked, cleaned, laughed, cried.  Her house was beautiful, totally set up for a family that she dreamed of.  On the last day, she drove us to a few Dr. appointments and I knew she’d be fine.  My next stop was Lopez Island, which I scheduled tentatively not knowing when or if I could make it up there.

I worked my way up to the Lopez Island Ferry by route of La Conner to see the tulips…which weren’t in bloom yet because of the weather, I did get a great lunch in there and a tour of the museum that made me think I could be an artist (because I didn’t see anything  spectacular).  Above pics are of La Conner.

The ferry ride was a blast!!  Was worried about my F150 in there after the streets of Queen Anne.  There was nothing to worry about, big rigs fit on that ferry.  It was a little under an hour to get to Lopez.

I should say, by the time we got out from under baby juggling the weather cleared up.  We had a few days of rain, then it was sunny and brisk.  My HS GF lives in a small farmhouse on Lopez, which I didn’t know until I got there.  Being a crappy guest, I didn’t give her a date of departure.  We joked about it, then I still didn’t give her a date – mostly because I was still in baby mode and had no idea what day it even was??  When I saw it was a one bedroom house, and they would be sleeping in the trailer out back, I cut it a little short.

The weather was perfect!!  Not quite sailing weather, just enough to hike all over the place.  She’s super fit…me?  Not so much anymore after my knee/back episodes.  I kept up though, I’ll definitely go back to Lopez when the sailing season kicks in and probably stay in a B&B so I don’t feel like I’m kicking them out of their room.  If my visit was 2 weeks earlier we would have been XC skiing down the street.

I headed back to Seattle to check on mommy and baby, staying in a hotel this time for one night to see if she needed me for any longer than that.  My F150 was perfect my whole trip except for Seattle – how I got around without a scrape was a frigg’in miracle.  The worst was the hotel parking structure at the Mediterranean Hotel (which I liked besides that).  They had oversized parking, that was full of SUV’s.  I’m sorry, an SUV is not oversized.  It took me forever to inch my way back & forth into the one spot left that was pretty narrow.  When I left, I told the front desk about it and they just shrugged and said sorry.  Then as I was leaving a woman was waiting for someone in her SUV, I passive/aggressively told her it might take me awhile to get out with my OVERSIZED car.  She just shrugged, like “have at it.”

Then I had to dock the F150 for breakfast with a happy mommy/baby.  All was well with them, my job was finished and I could head back home.  Only not so fast, I headed to Bend, Oregon where I am now.  At one point, in Tacoma, my temp gauge said 80 degrees.

Besides the drive along the Oregon Trail, I rolled in last night and have only seen the Cracker Barrel (for the first time, it was a little freaky).  I’ll be here a few days before the weather turns back to rain, today looks good.

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In nomad lengths, this doesn’t seem like it’s been a long time.  I’ve been gone since the 5th with only one night of good sleep besides Portland and last night.  My criteria for good sleep is if I can lay in bed drinking coffee and writing in the morning.

 

OMG SUN!!

Been in need of Vitamin D, this has been a crazy Winter!  Granted, not the crazy mid-West winters, it’s all relative.  I’m healed up, just can’t hear from all the gunk from the ear infection.

Finishing up some obligations before I head out on my next adventure.  The last few days I’ve been playing with a new camera lens for my Sony a7ii, it’s a 70-300mm lens.  I’ve also discovered the apps once I finally registered the camera and downloaded a “smooth reflections” app.  At first it seemed as if the app was just a settings override for the camera, it’s actually a series of photos to smooth out the water.

The first attempt was sunset zoomed to the Golden Gate from about 5 miles away (Featured photo).  It was a good 40 knot wind, that shutter just kept going, and going, and going.  I had to turn it off, seems like I picked too windy a day for that particular app.  This was the view when I turned around, applied a PSExpress filter to the left pic.

Then I took my normal walk around the reservoir to set up at a dock.  That worked a little better, it was still pretty windy.  I let it click through, the first shot was 66 pictures, second around 45 pictures.  It seems the app works best if the water doesn’t have white caps, like every body of water has right now with the winds.

Always good to practice, see what the camera is capable of.  I tried the “fun” button, with the glare on the screen and it was hard to really see how it was going to turn out.  Besides, all that is in the Photoshop Xpress on my iPhone.  Instead of clicking through settings in a glare, I can casually do it indoors with my latte.  They mentioned “in camera” at the Sony seminar, sometimes I enjoy messing with Photoshop to see what pops up.

The other thing that I discovered was my iPhone has a “for you” in photos I never noticed.  I clicked on it, it made movies out of events or a time period.  Cheesy music, but since I take so many pics it was fun to see in just a few minutes.  One was showing my friend how to use his drone, then we went sailing.  Not sure which pictures are his or mine?  My drone lessons usually include a photo contest at the end and we sent each other the pics.  Turned out really nice though in a movie.

The other one is my trip in May, including the condom machine in a women’s bathroom somewhere along the way.  Guys, you wish we were coming out of a gross bathroom thinking, “I better grab one of these, just in case.”  Especially in Farmington, not going to happen.

 

Have almost everything set up for my trip to Seattle.  Really excited, I can’t believe how much this weather and these mild injuries have me down?  It looks like there’s at least a few days of great weather, still kinda cold.  Nothing a good walk won’t cure.

 

Rain forevermore

Good thing my house is set up for indoor days right now and still kind of recovering.  By the end of this storm I should be good to go again.  I’m not missing anything, even skiing, by staying home this week.  I just hope my friend’s baby isn’t born in this, Seattle has had more snow than ever and I don’t know if I can get up there in it?  I was planning on driving, Portland looks flooded.

I’ve been making this “Like Water for Chocolate” quilt for the baby.  All my womanly knowledge, including a ton of patience while I seam rip mistakes.  Making these is the only old lady thing I really do, to me they’re like a big puzzle or math problem to figure out.  It helps me concentrate, the second I make a mistake I stop.  Not great for my back, I can only sit in a chair an hour a day at most.

One thing I need to do is get my body ready for a baby schedule.  When I was pregnant, my body naturally adjusted to my boys eating & sleeping schedule.  Right now my body schedule is leisurely waking up to rain.  It’s kind of in hibernation mode 🙂  I don’t want to go up to Seattle to be a guest, I want to be Mary Poppins!!  Haha.

In other artistry endeavors, I donated a panorama photo I did with my drone to Berkeley Yacht Club (BYC).  It turned out really well on canvas, I figured it should go there because I got the whole marina.  It was kind of an accident, I was showing someone else how to use their new drone and did a few things with mine.  I stitched it together in Lightroom, down to the ripples.

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There was someone at BYC saying I should sell them, at first I was flattered.  I did the unfortunate mistake of saying how much the print cost me – it was a Xmas special for $30.  The woman looked really excited for me and said I could sell them for $40!!  I know she meant well, it’s just that if I sold 5 of them my profit would be around $10…maybe.  Is that worth the price of poker??  Sadly, no.

I’m beginning to see more & more that there’s a reason it’s called a “starving artist.”  You have to have a lot of time to get the shots, or sew, then there’s the matter of actually selling it.  When my boys went off to college I was looking up seamstress salaries, starting & ending was $20k.  I might make more with a tin can at the freeway exit?  Tax free.

I did just post something about my drone company (GrandView Services) on LinkedIn and got some hits from someone who works at Facebook, 3DR, Ford.  One of my big clients was Ford GoBike, it’s all swallowed into Cal Engineering & Geology now and really starting to catch on.  For years I was doing it by myself, but to take it to the next level we hired someone.  There’s some saying about innovators burning out, then the next person takes it & runs with it.  That would be me, I started it from absolute scratch and now that it’s a press of a button and catching on, I’m out.

Maybe I’ll go back to it?  I was just showing someone some stuff I did years ago, turns out he does commercials in this area and had outdated info on drones.  The landslide job sites are hard for me…one, no bathrooms.  Another is no cell coverage and since they’re my drones I’m not quick to fly it 10′ off the ground and have it crash or lose it.  There’s a difference between flying your own drone and using the company drone.  I read this saying about chartering that was pretty funny, “Fly it like you stole it.”

Not sure if I connected the dots on this blog post?  That’s OK, that’s the way my fuzzy brain works.

 

Camera Ready

The problem with getting older and being a half-ass photographer is that to keep up you have to upgrade your equipment every few years.  I upgraded a few months ago to a Sony a7ii with a 28-70mm lens.  It was a package deal from Mike’s camera last November, it’s replacing a Sony Nex5 I’ve been using for the past 5 or so years.  I bought both cameras from Mike’s, there are a lot of advantages to still buying from a camera store – one is the classes and ongoing support for the camera.

I bought a nice camera for my son once from Best Buy as a graduation present, the guy practically spit into the lens to clean it as we watched in horror.

Last night I went to a Sony seminar at Mike’s to learn a little more about the camera.  I’m very familiar with cameras, not above going to find out what new features I might be missing and a few tips.  One of them being that I’ve been cleaning the sensors wrong, I’ve been laying the camera down flat and blowing into it so the dust can just go right back in.  It’s little tips like that I go for.  I’ve taken many photography classes, it’s amazing how much I forget and how obsolete my college classes are.

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Darkroom class 1997??

My first camera was a Pentax K-1000 my parents gave me for my 16th birthday in 1978 (photos above are from Manhattan Beach, 1978).  Sadly, between my boys that camera has been lost 😦  I used that camera up until my youngest was crawling around in 1998, then I switched to my first digital camera that was about $1,000 with 500k of memory.  You had to anticipate the shot, once you held down the shutter it was almost a minute before the camera actually took the picture.  By that time my boys were on swim team,  I switched the slide shows to all digital for swim team and Junior League those years.  I still have pictures of every kid in Walnut Creek, now 25 year olds.  I remember someone saying they thought digital would never catch on, there’s always a naysayer.  I was all over it!

This only shows pics, the songs were copyrighted:

Then I got an ill-fated job with the Contra Costa Times as a contracted out photographer and bought a Minolta something or other.  Honestly, I didn’t do much research on it, I took the advice from a guy at our office who is really into cameras.  I had to cancel a job at 5am due to spending the night in the emergency room with my husband, who severed something in his knee the night before playing volleyball.  It was a 3 day shoot, luckily I was not the main photographer, but I had a babysitter lined up all weekend for it.  Not surprisingly, I never got a call back for work again.  I also quit Junior League, he was down for months with surgery and couldn’t drive.

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Quitting Junior League was interesting, not sure if they knew why I had to quit but not one person called to see if I needed help or if we were OK? I petitioned to become a sustainer, that was a no.  When I bought my Sony Nex5 I was in that class at Mike’s camera coincidentally with a woman who was a big sustainer, she recognized my name.  She thanked me that night on upgrading JL to all digital, gave me all the credit for making them cutting edge in technology at that time.  That was nice, especially because the end seemed so, “Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.”

Then came the iPhone cameras which gave photography a whole new twist, making virtually everyone a photographer.  Somewhere in that time we got a Cannon Rebel digital, replacing a film Cannon my husband had.  When the cameras on the iPhones got decent, you have a camera with you at all times.  I have no problem whipping out my iPhone for pictures, it’s so convenient.  People who know nothing about photography starting getting awesome shots, those selfies look better than posed shots a lot of times.  With FB and Instagram photography blew up (good & bad, kind of killed writing & photography for a living in general).

Below is Golden Gate with my iPhone, Hawaii sunset w/ Sony Nex5 & looking out from Manhattan Beach Pier Marine lab with the new Sony:

I still like to have a nice camera though, and a drone for fun.  I was using the drones for work before we hired two 25 year olds to replace me.  Now I use it for fun, it’s a whole new world in photography and technology that’s fun for me.

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3D with images on the left to practice AutoDesk Recap 360, a few hundred images.

This one is with the drone, about 800 pictures I did years ago when drones still crashed & flew away.  The drone technology has advanced to just pressing the button, instead of crossing your fingers as your pre-flight routine.

Not sure if I’m losing my “eye” as  I age or if people are just so damn good at it now!  On my Instagram (@hellereng) I’ve had several known photographers follow me and I’m super flattered.

Glad there are still some actual camera stores around, many are gone.  Camera and book stores used to be my favorite places to go and browse around, I miss that.  Amazon is bringing the books stores back, after they made a clean sweep to make sure there are no Barnes & Noble competition (Which is fine by me, B&N wiped out small books stores first).  Time marches on, still trying to stay cutting edge if at all possible.

The Featured image is of Lou Silva & Rob Ryan from a volleyball tournament in Manhattan Beach when we were teens in 1978.  They have both passed on, can’t believe I got this shot.

Stuck on a Train

It’s been pouring in LA all week, with no plans to get back to NorCal on my journey I figured the best thing to do is have an adventure and take the train back.  I love trains, a friend of mine took 13 hours getting back over the Grapevine on I-5 – normally a 5 to 6 hour drive.

I scheduled an  Uber driver last night to pick me up, giving me plenty of time for rain and traffic to Union Station in downtown LA.  All went well, got to the station dry despite the rain.

My business class tix got me into the 1st class lounge where there were drinks and snacks before we got on…then the delay.  NBD, an hour for a new engine.  Now I’m sitting in Burbank while the new engine conked out, I would say for almost an hour now?  Well, I wanted adventure!!  We’ll see if that’s going to include a night in Burbank at a Motel 6 or something?

This is just a shame, I was really hoping it would be a rainy day train ride up the coast.  Now I have no idea what’s going to happen?

While I was in Manhattan Beach, I went to the new marine lab at the end of the pier for donor day.  My mom was involved with the original lab, it was nice they had a special day for the previous volunteers.  Got a few good shots when I was down there at least before the rain.

An update, we’re back at Union Station in LA awaiting????  Ugh.  Made a quick field trip to grab lunch & possibly a latte, the bathrooms at the station were full of homeless.  I went back to the 1st class lounge at the train station to use those bathrooms, then tried to hit Starbucks but the line was too long.  Grabbed a Wetzel Pretzel hot dog to come hang out on the train some more.  It’s actually more comfortable on the train than in the station.

At least I grabbed some food, I had made a 2p dining car appointment that of course didn’t happen.  If we ever get moving, I’ll keep writing.  Right now I’m just a tad worried I’ll be on this train for 2 days before I get back.  When the train took off the 1st time, I was like a little kid taking pictures.  Now I’m just kinda blah and over it.

2 Days later:  That turned out to be a 7 hour delay, we left at 5p instead of 10a – getting in at 5am to Martinez.  The coastline was totally dark, pitch black actually, didn’t get to see a thing past Van Nuys when it got dark.  I didn’t write the rest of the ride because I was like a zombie.  The good news is, when I finally got home and re-woke up to call Amtrak gave me a trip voucher.  When the train started rolling I grabbed dinner from the dining car then just vegged out the rest of the ride.  I didn’t even read or watch a movie, just tried to enjoy the ride.  I must have slept a little?  I kept waking myself up snoring 🙂  Sorry to the rest of my car-mates.

Planes, trains & automobiles January.  Drove to New Mexico, flew to LA then the train back – reverse order – also lengthy.

While in Manhattan Beach I got to spend the week with my mom for her birthday.   Got a few pics I’ll post from that and some others of my LA time.  It rained most of the time, I did get to have some much needed GF time.

I also had an interesting FB exchange (I gotta get off FB!!).  While it rained I was checking out Zillow in Carlsbad and noticed what I thought were vacation trailers close to the water.  I have a few FB friends in Carlsbad, did a shout out to see what those were?  When I looked into it more I saw it was a over 55 retirement community (which I qualify for but not ready to go there just yet).  The dirt rental was about $1,500 when I looked it up a little more.

In the meantime, a friend’s wife who just became a real estate agent started posting pictures of trailer homes on my FB page.  When I said I wasn’t ready for a retirement community, she started posting pics of a trailer park in Hermosa Beach.  So now my “friends” think I’m looking into trailer homes??  Haha, I’m sorry but I don’t see a $500k trailer in Hermosa Beach as a smart investment.  I don’t see anything down there as a smart investment right now, it’s crazy expensive.  She most likely thought I was trying to get my foot in the door down there, I can’t imagine inviting my childhood friends over to my trailer for dinner?

I’m leaving the post up though, for some reason I think it’s hysterical!!  We played golf with some guy about 20 years ago who lived in the tree section and I said, “I grew up in the tree section!”  He said, “It must be hard to not be able to afford to live where you grew up?”  My husband & I laughed on the way home, we don’t live there because we’d have A-holes like him for neighbors.  People spend so much time thinking others are jealous of them they don’t realize they’re coming off as pricks.

I had a good time down there with my mom and a few GF’s though, it was really nice.  I can always go “home” and spend the time with my mom.  I’m so glad Amtrak gave me a voucher, I really want to take that train trip during the day to see that coast route!!  Thought I’d spend a rainy day, clinking glasses in the dining car watching the sunset in someplace other than Van Nuys.

These are finally leaving Union Station, where the train was on the coast and my view from there 😦

& yeah, I’m still a little grouchy from my trip – I actually did have a great time despite the FB trailer park incident.