Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I Can't Help It

Random confession- I'm completely judgmental of people who buy dogs from breeders that cost thousands of dollars. There are literally MILLIONS of poor little puppies and kitties wasting away in overburdened shelters, just waiting for a home.

If you have $2K + to spend on a dog, why don't you mosey on down to the local shelter, pick up an animal that needs you even more than you want it, drop about $200 adopting it (maybe) and donate the rest.


The judgment train is rolling out...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy Holidays

I'm very happy, but very tired.

Yeah, that sums up this holiday season pretty nicely :)

It was BUSY. I packed up and left California to slide into home in the single digits of Thanksgiving morning. I then stitched a ton of research into what I think was a pretty awesome thesis, graduated a week before Christmas, and then Dallas had its first white Christmas Eve ever while we all celebrated. The snow was still on the ground for Christmas day and the trip home to see Mammy and Granny. In between all that I've been applying and applying and applying for jobs, making scarves from my yarn stash for Christmas presents, and reading lots of news and getting generally pissed off at the collective ignorance of the American people. "Santa" got me running shoes, and I'll be training for my first 10K come January 1st, so at least while I'm currently unemployed I won't be totally glued to my computer applying for jobs and reading Huff Post, CNN, BBC :)

I'm still homeless and jobless, but thank God debtless, so all in all with my side hustles I'm still managing to cook up lots of good vegan/vegetarian yummies, and delight in feeding them to unsuspecting friends- vegan pumpkin chocolate chip cookies were my gifts this year, case in point. I also dug out some pink, purple, and red hair dye I've been meaning to use for the last 9 months and threw that into the mix. It was my plan to reverse psychologize the universe into throwing a job interview my way, forcing me to then use my box of brown hair dye in a mad scramble to be presentable for said interview.

That plan hasn't worked yet, but I'll keep you guys posted.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Leaving Utah- Oct 14th: Lunch in Las Vegas But Seriously Let's Get to L.A.

First, a confession- I will go out dancing all night long, shut down the club, I don't care if I'm the only one on the dance floor, and I will get on a table if it presents itself. But I don't drink, and I don't gamble, and I don't like cheesy shows, so Las Vegas is pretty much useless to me. Plus, I saw Las Vegas three years ago for the first time-but I had already partied in Tokyo and lived in Japan for a year, so the aesthetics of the lights and such were kind of inherently lame in comparison. That being said, Bobby and I perfectly timed our pass through Las Vegas to coincide with lunch time, and had looked forward to it for one reason- the food.

First, we hit up Ronald's Donuts- totally vegan, completely awesome, world famous probably.


We had also heard about this revolutionary cheese that was whipping vegans into a frenzy- daiya cheese made from cassava root, the same thing you use to make tapioca. The enormous Whole Foods Las Vegas served it on made to order pizzas!

Perfect weather to eat outside, stare at all the orange tanned girls in short skirts and long boots, and tuck into a basil, tomato, and roasted garlic vegan pizza with natural cola and vegan donuts for dessert.



Happy and full of food- although the daiya was weirdly sticky, it was still damn good- we headed out of town. Some random Vegas...

After that it's pretty much 4-6 hours- depending on traffic once you get close to L.A.- of Mojave Desert interspersed with those trippy acres of Joshua Trees. We were road weary and just wanted to be there, and we ended up hitting L.A. on the 101 right at rush hour. On a Friday night. And my friend lives right off of Hollywood Blvd. After a two week tour of camping, national parks, and wide open spaces on deserted back roads I felt like an Amazonian villager who had never had contact with Western civilization- I was overwhelmed and cranky and instantly decided I hated L.A., it was a shithole.

But after sleeping 12 hours and waking up and walking outside to blue skies and palm trees and people jogging about and walking their dogs, I completely changed my mind.

The little room I would be in for the next two months...

Bobby stayed for a week, during which time we ate out approximately 4 times a day, gorging ourselves on all the yummy vegetarian/vegan options in L.A. Coming from Dallas, where we literally have less than five vegetarian/vegan restaurants in the metroplex we were in heaven. Sleeping in, watching movies, going to the beach, walking everywhere, and reveling in sleeping not in hotels or tents were all thoroughly enjoyed :)

After Bobby left I had about three weeks to hit my thesis and the job search hard, and also continue to explore L.A. and play with my friend Jess, who I was living with, because then...

we were off to Seattle!

Leaving Utah- Oct. 13th: The Motherf@%kin' Grand Canyon Ya'll!

After leaving the hot springs, Bobby and I started heading towards the less visited North Rim of the Grand Canyon. To get there, we took some back roads. Mind you, pretty much the only think in Utah is Salt Lake City, the rest is like one big national park filled with natural beauty and pockets of polygamists compounds. Also the sun set at, oh, 4:45, so we drove until 10 p.m. on two lane, windy, mountainous passes with literally not a light to be seen for as far as the eye could see. We ended up in Kanab, UT, and plunked down $35 for a room that was clean but looked like someone's old Grandmother's house. The next morning we got up to leave, and here's what I Kanab is good for- random opportunities for photos like the one below.....

and funny convenience store t-shirts like the one below sold at reasonable prices. Way to be a good sport Utah.

But wait! Kanab UT had one more thing to offer us- a tourist trap that goes by the name of Moqui Cave. We saw it driving by and thought it was actually some wonder of natural history. When we went to the trouble of U-turning for a random stop, and got a closer look, we realized this was probably no where near authentic- here was our first clue...

Um, yeah. At that point we figured the kitsch factor would be superbly high, and decided to fork over the $5. An old man ran it, and told the story of how his dad discovered the cave and turned it into a dance hall. So, basically, its just a cave filled with memorabilia of the man's father, and all the random "treasures" he accumulated- like the rocks below : / I figured this epic fail of natural wonder would just make the Grand Canyon look *even better*, so it was still a win.

Hi Arizona! Thanks for having the Grand Canyon, you're a real pal.

Arizona is flat and wide open, but not shitty miserable flat and wide open like El Paso, Texas. It's more like New Mexico- beautiful colors and desert plants that are sparse and pretty, not crusty and dead looking. The weather was perfect as well, and too bad I don't have a better camera so you could really get the details of the sun playing off the mountains and making everything pink and gold.

Again with the back roads, the North Rim of the park requires going off on an almost two hour drive up a windy, two lane road. It's crazy, because you just came from the desert, but the plateau that you drive through is nothing but trees- it looks a lot like Colorado. You finally get to the little village, park your car, and walk to the trail head that takes you right to the edge...

At first we saw the canyon, and while it was impressive, I thought "huh, smaller than I was told". Then we saw this sign, and it was not Moqui Cave Part 2. Thank God.

So, you start walking down this trail, and then BAM! OH MY ASS I AM STANDING ON THE EDGE OF THE GRAND CANYON. That thing is more than TEN MILES wide, and more than 21 Statue of Liberties deep! It's seriously overwhelming. One of the coolest, most awe inspiring things I've ever seen, for sure.

I was also unaware of just how unregulated your movement is- right in front of me, that cliff droops off and literally doesn't stop until it hits the bottom of the Grand Canyon- remember how many Statue of Liberties that is??? Bobby and I spent hours crawling all over the rock outcropping, and creeping ourselves out with how close we got to the edge.

Seriously, it kind of creeps me out right now thinking about all the ways we cheated death that day :)

After crawling around for hours, we hit up the little restaurants they had in the cheesy Grand Canyon "village".

We took pictures in front of the sign on the way out, but honestly this picture is a lot prettier and gives a good idea of just how forested the plateau is.

The prettiest sunset I've ever seen in my entire life was on a road trip through Arizona three years ago, so I was looking forward to seeing this one. At first, it was kind of "meh, ok, way to be a jerk and not live up to my expectations and rave reviews Arizona"

But then *this* happened, and literally filled up the entire sky, panorama- great!

I'm sorry I ever doubted you Arizona. Thanks for a great time.

We had to backtrack into Utah, and then crashed in a much nicer hotel. The next day would be a stop in Las Vegas and then finally- after two weeks- we'd hit our destination of L.A.

Stay and Fight

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Leaving Utah- Oct 12th: Hot Springs in Provo!

Bobby is mildly obsessed with the hot springs at Diamond Fork, so on our way out of Salt Lake City to continue on to L.A. we decided we had to stop there- we had actually tried earlier in the week, but there were 35 cars parked at the trail head, and only 3 pools at the top, and no thank you to being that close to naked strangers. So this was try two. Started off with good weather, that's a plus!

You know it's off the beaten path when people herd their cattle over the road

Almost there- the road gets really narrow, and it's windy, and I was a little creeped out.

So, the hot springs are frequented by people who like to enjoy hot springs the Japanese way- naked. In fact, the sign at the trail head even says it's not illegal to be naked, just use judgment. This sign should give you and idea of the popularity of the springs.

We also passed two different men, at different times, walking back down the trail nude.

Right after that, we ran into a young couple- seriously, like 19 or 20- both with wedding rings and covered up waaaaaay more than anyone else we'd seen. They warned us that everyone was naked, and it was "totally inappropriate and weird". Thanks guys. But perhaps someone should have warned *you* that you'd probably be seeing such things :)

Let me take a moment to say this trail is LONG- almost three miles it seems- and very steep.

But the leaves and the weather made it worth it. Plus we were about to be in a car for three days, I was grateful for the exercise.

At last! We get there, and no one else is there. We are so lucky...

or so we thought, until the naked dude we'd passed on the way up came back once he realized we were here for a soak : / It was weird. He was "water hiking" totally naked up and down the river. Mind you, I'm cool with him being naked, but not cool with the creepy stalker thing of coming back when he'd already left, and not leaving us alone. He was harmless but annoying.

So I just totally ignored him and enjoyed the hot springs. It worked well.

I think naked dude is to my left out of frame, with smears of mud on his bare ass where he'd fallen a few times. Sigh.

Bobby took it all in stride.

We got out, got dried off, and then naked dude told us to hike further up the trail for a double waterfall. I briefly wondered if he had made a trap for us, but we went anyway- and ta-da! He was right! Thanks naked dude!

We hike the almost three miles back down, and Bobby almost fell into the river taking this picture of me.

And then we hopped in the car, off to Arizona to see the Grand Canyon!

Leaving Texas- Week in Salt Lake City, AKA Vegan Food Extravaganza!

After 4 days, we hit Salt Lake City, where my wonderful cousin lives. What you need to know is that SLC is divided in half- friendly, clean cut Mormons, and friendly, tattooed, pierced liberal punk-y type people who are pretty much for whatever the Mormons are against, and vice versa. My cousin is not a Mormon, to answer the obvious question. Despite such a radical disparity in the population, the city is awesome, and both groups seem to get along well with one another. Thanks to the latter group, there are TONS of AWESOME vegan places to eat- totally vegan restaurants, omnivore restaurants have lots of vegan/veggie options, it's like a dream.

We spent quite a bit of time at Liberty Park- it's huge and well kept, and the perfect place to study outside.

Because, remember, it wasn't all fun and games- I was researching and writing source summaries for my thesis this whole time, while looking for jobs on top of it.

And I had THIS GUY distracting me all the time

We'd go hiking around places like this, and I would think to myself that Texas REALLY needs to step up its natural beauty game. For reals.

Here's the iconic temple of SLC...


There's also this temple- a huge Krishna temple an hour outside of the city, in Provo to be exact, where BYU- the Mormon university- is.

And THIS temple, the Buddhist association

And lastly, THIS temple- they are apparently a sex cult and mummify cats. Yeah.

But back to the iconic temple- there is a little pedestal across the park from the huge temple, where you can stand and take pictures in front of it. This is popular for married people and families, because of the Mormon doctrine of eternal families. Bobby and I just thought it'd be cute to take the stereotypical Mormon picture, and we had the camera all set up on the ground, and then this nice lady came over to take our picture, probably thinking we were a young Mormon couple-Bobby was recently randomly clean shaven, he had run the SLC marathon and was wearing the hoodie, and I had a silver band I happened to be wearing on my left hand. At any rate, we weren't trying to mock it, and we didn't want to turn down the offer, so here's the result-

Lots of sleeping in and getting over the cold I caught on the way up, reading and note taking, hiking and eating vegan food, catching up with my fantastic cousin Jen and finally getting to spend time with her boyfriend and see the tattoo parlor where she works- that pretty much sums up SLC.