Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Los Angeles and Back!

You know how some things sound better in theory than in real life? Driving from Bend to Los Angeles is sort of like that. Since it'd been awhile (8 months!) since we'd made the drive, we'd forgotten how loooong the drive is. Even split into two days, it was still a good 7-8 hours of sitting in the car each day. On the bright side, it gave us time to work on our relationship and communication skills, especially when we finally hit Los Angeles traffic!

oh, traffic. I did not miss you.

It was all worth it when we arrived back at the Barker Block, our former home. Our friend Steve was out of town and generously lent us his loft, which has an amazing city view.

the LA city skyline.

the LA skyline during a sunset!

Of course the first thing I wanted to do was get some Mexican food....we've been missing it. We headed over to Northgate market in Boyle Heights, and picked up tamales, guacamole, and ceviche. With two kinds of chips. I gorged myself. And did not feel guilty in the slightest!

3 kinds of tamales - chiles, pork, and chicken. YUM.

Then our friend, Sheila made us kabobs and homemade hummus, with lemon cake for dessert. She does stuff fancy. I love her presentation, with her gorgeous silverware, serving plates, and cloth napkins. 

the beautiful spread Sheila made for us!

We also got to eat lots of Japanese food with my cousin and our favorite travel friends, Josh and Bernice, in Little Tokyo, but I ate all that food so quickly I forgot to take pictures! What can I say, there is no place like Los Angeles for deliciousness. Bend can't compare in the gastronomy department.

Bend also doesn't have our friends or family, which we miss dearly! We are trying to convince them to visit and/or move up to took me years and years to make good friends in LA, and it'd just be easier to import your friends to your new hometown, you know?

Funny thing about this picture - two of the people "drinking" don't actually drink!

We had to leave town after only 3 days, but we managed to squeeze in a couple burgers at In-and-Out. 

My half eaten cheeseburger and Mike's animal style fries.

And when we finally arrived back in Oregon, a rainbow was there to greet us. Sure, it dumped 8 inches of snow the very next day, but we're still happy to be back home. We're getting used to shoveling the driveway; it's great cardio. 

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2015, and may your year be full of adventure! 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Holidays from Mike and Kristy!

Apparently blogger had some technical difficulties and erased my entire Happy Holidays post! Major bummer.  

Quick synopsis: We went to the local Bend holiday parade, shopped around town, then headed up to Los Angeles via Monterey Bay, with a nice little stop at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. 

Morty, our vanagon, all festive!

The Bend holiday parade with llamas, the unicycle club, marching band, and Smoky the Bear.

awesome Christmas lights in Monterey

Slightly creepy holiday decor, also in Monterey

A very active octopus - he was awesome!

An alien looking Nautilus


More jellies. We love them - so gorgeous.

Moon jellies

Mike and I at Monterey Bay. Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 12, 2014

R.I.P., S.J.P

It's been awhile since I've written, because we've had a rough couple weeks. Our sweet little bunny, S.J.P. (Sarah Jessica Parker), who was a part of our family for over 5 years, passed away last week. 

We had taken her in for a routine tooth filing (bunnies' teeth never stop growing, so as they get older, sometimes they get misaligned and then grow all wonky), and the Dr. didn't put her under enough anesthesia, so she woke up in the middle of the procedure, and bit her tongue. Bunnies are super sensitive and delicate - the tongue bite was too much for her - blood everywhere, she couldn't eat and had to be force fed, and to avoid too many gruesome details, I'll just say she seized and passed two days later.

We had a healthy bunny, and two days later we have a huge empty space in our home and in our lives. Needless to say, we're completely devastated. At this point, we try to keep busy every day and focus on things that need to get done. Any quiet moment - usually in the car for me - I just break down. 

It's a reminder that you just never know how much time you have left - on this planet, with your loved ones, or with your pets. So get out there, do your thing, and tell the people and animals you love, how much they mean to you. We miss you, S.J.P.!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Project Finally Completed!

It's been busy around here; word is getting out about Subietech, and that's a good thing! I'm learning a lot about running a business, and Mike's being his usual charming self with the local Subaru owners. 

Mike hard at work!

We have already had repeat customers, which is awesome, and Subietech paid for itself this month - hooray! But don't worry, we still had plenty of time to just play around town. 

We made it to Member's Night at the High Desert Museum, and met a blue tongued skink. 

Mike made friends with the snapping turtle, too.

We found time to play in the snow:

snow angels!

me and my thousands of layers!

And, the most exciting thing: we "finished" Morty, our Vanagon! I say "finished" because as anyone with an old car knows, you're never really finished (we still want to get curtains, some new gauges, storage, move the heater, etc). 

the new carpet and upholstery - we added some protective mats and
eventually need to figure out what we'll put under the seat.

the front seats and new carpet!
Morty is now sporting new upholstery, picked out and designed by yours truly. I am particularly proud of the black piping and strips down the side of the seats. Looks nice, huh? A big thanks to Blue Pine Designs for doing such a great job!

Morty also has a new carpet kit and a super nice thick foam mat - in matching upholstery, of course - in the back, so we can sleep cozily and comfortably on our future road trips. We can't wait to test it out!

The only thing left to fix is the windshield wipers, and front visors. I can't believe how far this crappy van has come - you can see the original pics on the Vanagon tab. Morty's come from a dusty, un-driveable dream project, to a ruggedly handsome powerhouse. And it only took 2.5 years and thousands of dollars - HA.

the back seat folds down and makes one HUGE bed.

Mount Bachelor opened their terrain parks over Thanksgiving, so I'll be falling on my butt a lot this upcoming week. Hopefully I'll remember to take some pics!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Winter Wonderland

It'd be really easy to just hate the snow - shoveling the walkway, wiping out walking through icy parking lots, and sitting in a freezing cold car, waiting for it to warm up - but it's so beautiful and quiet up here. We're making a real effort to get outside and just enjoy the scenery, despite the freezing cold temps.  

A new drink I've discovered here helps me appreciate the outdoors more: The Dirty Hippie. It's a chai tea, with whole milk and a shot of espresso. It's got everything I like about chai - creamy, sweet, and spicy, with a boost of energy to make me wide-eyed and bushy tailed. YUM.

With this drink clutched in my hand, I'm ready for whatever winter wants to throw at me!

I'm wearing a hat, hoodie, and the hood from my jacket on my head here!

We live really close to Mirror Pond, one of Bend's main tourist attractions. Most of the geese and ducks have migrated for the winter, but for whatever reason, these few are sticking around. They were definitely fluffed up, trying to stay warm, but otherwise were cruising, feeding, and honking at each other like they usually do. 

Mirror Pond, partially frozen over.

We felt bad for the ducks and geese, but they must be used to it!

On another morning, we headed west to Shevlin Park, a pretty huge park on the edge of town. On our way there, we passed lots of cross country skiers and snowshoers...on the sidewalks! Since they don't plow the sidewalks or smaller streets in town (or salt - anywhere), people can easily get around on skis. It's pretty awesome to step outside your house into a ski track.

Mike clutching our hot drinks on our walk through Shevlin Park.

The steep hill we hiked up. Not a soul in sight.

There was so much untouched snow to go tromping through. It's very satisfying to hear the crunch-crunch-crunch while you walk through the trees. Although you can't see the trails or paths that well in the deep snow, you can see the tracks you've made, which makes it pretty easy to get back. 

The view from the top. Trees as far as you can see.

At the rate the snow is falling, Mt Bachelor is going to open right on time!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Rejoining the Race, at Our Own Pace - One Year Looking Back

It's been exactly one year since Mike and I made the decision to sell our loft in LA and bail on the whole rat race. Since then, we've traveled, moved to Oregon, spent time on our hobbies, and explored. It's been amazing, fun, relaxing, and eye opening. I spent quite a few days in my PJs, and I think I've read more books this year than any other year of my life.

we also take a lot of naps with the kitties!

Over the last few months in particular, we've realized how much we value our free time. It's worth more than anything in the world, to be able to decide what you want to do with each and every day. Even though we dearly miss our friends and family in Los Angeles, Chicago, and around the world, we wouldn't be able to have this life if we moved back to a big city. The beautiful scenery in Bend, and the cost of living in Oregon in general, is what allows us to live this super free, super fun, super easy lifestyle. Only here can we afford to work less and live more - travel, have a home with space for a garden, chickens, etc, and spend more than half our week on hiking, camping, snowboarding, cooking, and relaxing with each other and the pets. 

For the foreseeable future, Bend is our base of operations.

a shot from one of our walks around town, along the Deschutes River.

So to that end, we decided to nest a bit here, and get a little more entrenched in our new hometown. I recently got a part time job, working two days a week, doing office work. The day I got the job, I actually cried, because I thought it meant I was going back to the grind, the daily commute, the mornings standing in my closet trying to figure out office appropriate attire, and the dreaded customer service. But reality happily reminded me that I live in Bend...I can go in whenever I want, wear whatever I want, the commute is only 5 minutes, and the boss fully expects me to not show on powder days. Can I say I love this town? I love this town!

Just like our camping and traveling makes us appreciate our home, going to work makes me appreciate my free time even more. I'm a little more careful of my time, and I plan my days a little better, and I'm a little more serious about my hobbies and projects. I think this mini-job was just what I needed, to add a little motivation and structure to my days. There really is such a thing as too much time on your hands.

It's time to get back to the grind, when even relaxing gets boring.

Mike is still running Subietech, his Subaru repair shop and conversion business. As we meet more people in town, word is slowly getting out, and we're having customers trickle in. Since Subietech is literally right around the corner from my new job, we can carpool easily, and our flexible schedules make mornings easy.

We never could have imagined, one year ago, that life could be this way for us. I'm so glad we had the courage to make the change, to ignore other people's doubts, and to do what we thought would be right for us. Everyone has their own vision of what their life could be like, and I think that sometimes we let other people's perceptions, ideas, or concerns cloud our own judgement. But you know what's right for you, so stay your course! 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Eugene, Oregon

If someone ever did a "Where Are They Now?" special on hippies from the 60s, a good chunk of the show could be filmed in Eugene, Oregon, where we vacationed last week. It's about 2 hours from Bend, directly over Mt. Washington, and passes through lots of gorgeous forest. If you have a Subaru, you'll love all the windy mountain roads.

Our Subaru isn't quite ready for winter yet - we haven't bought chains or studded tires - but the snow storm we encountered reminded us to get on that...

We hit the first snowstorm of the season - 4 inches over the pass!

Once we crossed over the mountain, the snow turned to rain, and we came up on Sahalie Falls. We've been meaning to check it out, so despite the heavy rain, we pulled over.

Everything on this side of the Cascades is covered in green.

It was totally worth it - everything was blanketed in moss - lush, soft, and misty. It's like something out of a fairytale. Oregon has so many awesome surprises; we feel lucky to live here!

In our new rain gear

Just like a postcard!

Once we arrived in town, Yelp told us that the Cascades Raptor Center was one of Eugene's major attractions. Not one to doubt Yelp, we headed over there to check it out. It's a non-profit, entirely funded by volunteers and donations, and they have over 60 aviaries with rehabilitated birds. Every bird had its story posted outside its cage, which personalized the whole experience, and made you fall in love with individual birds, which you can then sponsor. So clever, and definitely worth a visit. Also it's pretty much free, but they do suggest a $8.00 donation.

our favorite was the little owl on the lower left, who hides in the ground!

On the drive back to our hotel, we spotted some free ranging wild turkeys! 

wild turkeys strutting around confidently

The main reason we were in Eugene was for the Mushroom Show, which was the 33rd annual show, and the biggest on the West Coast. They had lots of cool mushroom themed stuff, mushroom growing kits, and even mushroom-dyed scarves - which you could do yourself, if so inclined. 

the displays were really nicely done, tri-level, and pretty.

one of the Festival-goers awesome cars.

On our way home, we pulled over in one of the forest areas to search for mushrooms. We had some visitors this week and thought it'd be cool to be able to feed them with something we foraged. We found lots of gorgeous mushrooms, and about 4 pounds of chanterelles, which are selling for $39.99/lb at our local grocer right now!

some random mushroom pics from our little hike

Kristy on the hunt!

processing our haul of chanterelles

We had so many that we gave some to our neighbors, and saved some for later. Normally you can just dehydrate any mushrooms you find, but chanterelles don't dry too well and get sort of chewy. So I chopped them up, threw them in a pot with a little salt, and dry sauteed them, until they released all their moisture. Then I vacuum sealed and froze them. 

Mike's pumpkin tribute to our new home.

We are excited for tomorrow (Halloween), because we haven't had trick or treaters since we lived in Long Beach, and even then, I think we only had a few. Our neighbor said we'd get a couple dozen this year, so we carved a pumpkin and bought some candy. Our life is so different from just a year ago, but we are loving it, and really, what more can you ask for?