Spring break 09

Monday, April 13th: After getting up at 8am, and going to get a car window replaced, we were ready to get on the road by 11am.
It took us about 9 hours to go from Reno to Huntington Beach. We took US 395 all the way south, and then went from there.
We arrived at the house of Kelly’s aunt and uncle, Ginny and Gary. They welcomed us and fed us leftover Easter dinner (which we missed thanks to the car theft that delayed us by a day and a half). We talked, and went to sleep to recover from the long trip… and be ready for the next day!

Tuesday: I hadn’t gotten much sleep. It was hot, humid and I guess I still had a bit of anxiety about the burglary. It also didn’t help that I woke up at around 8, ready to go… because we were going to Disneyland!
The lack of sleep didn’t get in the way though, because as soon as we set step upon the happiest place on earth, I was too excited to be tired.
Mickey hat & ChurroKelly had promised to buy me a Mickey hat and a churro as soon as we walked in the park, and that was exactly what happened.
It was my first time in Disneyland, and I was enjoying every minute of it. Everyone was so happy!
My first ride ever was Star Tours. It was a great start to the day, and my experience: old-school, classic, fun and silly.
From there, my memory gets blurry in a haze of laughs, rides, cartoon characters and feelings of happiness.
My favorite parts were the rides that involved movement, screaming and laughs: Screamin’ (in California Adventure), Big Thunder, Indiana Jones Adventure and Space Mountain (Kelly’s favorite ride!). I also really enjoyed Toon Town, because it really made me feel like I was in a cartoon, and it was just so goofy and happy!
Kelly and I also enjoyed observing all the park-goers, specially the little ones. Early in the day, most kids were litteraly bouncing up and down, running around as the excitement overwhelmed them. But later in the afternoon, the sight was quite different: temper tantrums, kids crying and our favorite: just passed out, so tired that they couldn’t even stay awake, and crashed on a bench somewhere.

Wednesday was a much more laid back day. We slept in for the first time since Sunday, which we deserved since we were on vacation after all.
The plans for the day were quite simple: go visit some relatives. And that’s how I ended up hanging out with Kelly and her grandpa for about 3 hours. Propitiously, he had a large stack of old pictures, and it was very enjoyable to see pictures of Kelly when she was a young one.
On the way back, we drove a little bit of the Pacific Coast Highway, from Orange County to Huntington Beach. The scenery was beautiful, and we both longed to go hang out at the beach, which we would soon do.
For dinner, we met up with Kelly’s cousin Gillian, her husband Dave and their 3 kids, at their house. We had pizza, some beer, and chatted for a good while. It was very laid back, relaxing and enjoyable.

On Thursday, we had major plans. In the morning, we traveled across LA, through some really shitty traffic, to arrive at the gorgeous Getty Center. We spent a few hours there. Kelly gave me a private history lesson about art and the Renaissance, and we enjoyed the sun and warm weather in the beautiful gardens.
While at the Getty, I couldn’t help but think of my parents, who would love the architecture of the place (my mom is an architect, my dad a civil engineer). It also was when I was hurt the most about not having my camera, because I really wanted to take some pretty pictures.

Afraid of what getting back on a freeway -at rush hour- would do for my mental sanity, we decided to take an alternative route to our next destination. Kelly’s excellent navigational skills determined that we could take Sunset Boulevard, so we did just that. It was another great drive!
We went from the Getty, through Bel-Air and Beverly Hills, seeing incredible houses mansions and fancy cars, and into Hollywood and LA, where the feeling was not quite the same, and we got to see a bit more of the “west side” feel.

Anyway, our final destination for the evening was the LA Dodger‘s stadium. It was time for another First Ever for me! I’d never been to a baseball game, and this was the perfect opportunity to cross that out of my list.
It was awesome! There were a lot of people, and we got some pretty good seats, so we were able to even see the ball as it got pitched and swung at.
In an attempt to get the real experience, we got hot-dogs and beer. I wasn’t quite ready for the wallet shock that this was going to be: three hot dogs at $5 each, and four beers at $10 each. An expense of $55 for something that was really worth less than $20. Oh well. Had to do it at least once.
The game was entertaining, and we got to learn about the Dodger’s fans and their passion for Manny. The other team was the S.F. Giants… and I could have probably pitched for them and gotten away with it, because they were horrible at it.
The Dodgers won, and that sealed my first official baseball experience as a very positive one.

After such a long day, Friday was time to finally go to Huntington Beach, aka SurfCity USA. The temperature wasn’t very hot, so we laid out on the sand to enjoy the sun, and watched some surfers do their thing.
Before we knew it, a couple of hours had gone by, and we were getting cooked. We decided to take a break, go have dinner with Kelly’s aunt and uncle, and to come back to watch the sunset.
So nice! A cool breeze blew as we sat on the sand and saw the sun slowly disappear. It was very romantic, and I hope we can do it again on beaches all over the world.

On Saturday, we did it all over again. Beach, sun, relax. I even got in the water and went for a very short swim, since the water temperature was of only 58 degrees.
The day ended with a big birthday party for Gary, with all of Kelly’s relatives that live in the area. It was fun to be in such a big family setting, with the kids being noisy playing, and everyone chatting it up. I think I did an ok impression on everyone, other than the couple of times when I called someone by someone else’s name. Oops.

Sunday was the sad day of traveling back to Reno, but it had to be done. We decided to just come up the same roads that took us down there.
We stopped in Mammoth to visit the Coach Outlet store, and found Kelly a replacement wallet for the one that had been stolen from her. We saved about 60% by shopping at the outlet! And by we, I mean me, because it was Kelly’s advance birthday present. Win-win, all the way.

The trip ended on a very high note when I got a phone call from someone that had found Kelly’s purse in their garbage can. The irreplaceable bag from Fiji was safe, and saved! The rest of the items were not there, but the most important one was the bag, and that made us happy to be back home.

It was a very long one week, and an excellent vacation. Kelly was an excellent tour guide, and it was a great road trip from beginning to end. We drove a little bit over 1300 miles total, and we were apart only when the other one was using the bathroom. Oh yeah!

Even though I didn’t have my camera, we had Kelly’s. We took a few pictures, and you can see all of them on my flickr page. I leave you with a link to that: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nicoyogui/sets/72157616981363233/

MSN Emoticons/Smileys… six years ago

EmoticonsI remember doing this while I was incredibly bored, back in 2003. I was housesitting, in a house in Stead.
The lady that owned the house was in Afghanistan, and her dog was named Ghork, which means “wolf” in some language (possibly Farsi,¬†Pashto or Dari). The dog used to shed a lot of hair…

Speaking of hair, check mine out! I wish I still had the long hair, it was so suave!

ScalleyCat 2009

ScalleyCatLast weekend was ScalleyCat. A bike “race” that’s more like a scavenger hunt of random things in Reno.

It works like this. First, you find a partner who likes to ride bikes as much as you do. Lucky me, that one is Kelly!
Second, you show up to the event. It started at noon on Saturday. Your team gets a “bible”, a booklet with all the objectives of things you have to find. They range from innocuous acts like getting a picture by a landmark¬† -such as a statue- or riding long distances around town… and then there are things that border the lines of law or ethics, such as nudity or trespassing.
Since you have to prove that you did fulfill the task, and there are too many to have witnesses, you have to take a picture of you in the act of everything.
Finally, you have 24 hours to get as many things as you can from that list. Some are worth a lot of points, some are worth just a few. You and your teammate can do as many as you want, and in whichever order you prefer to. It’s strategy!

However, there’s more! Before the main event, there were smaller ones, which built up momentum and excitement.
On Wednesday, the opening night, I took part of the Time Trials competition. We started at the Lincoln Lounge, and raced all the way to Chapel Tavern, and back!
A short course, and at 8pm there wasn’t a lot of traffic… I was lucky and got mostly green lights the whole way, and I was able to complete the 3+ mile course in about 12 minutes. But that was too slow, because the top 3 teams (which included a couple of the awesome Bootleg Couriers) finished in about 9 minutes.

Thursday had an event taking place at the Hideout. The band “White Mice” was playing… and if you clicked on that link, you’ll know that they’re not exactly my cup of tea. That, and the room being the size of my office, combined for my ears imploding and making us not last very long at this shindig.
I will also take the opportunity to mention that although this is a dive bar that allows smoking, the smoke was not offensive. The body odor of the party goers was. I had to wash my nostrils with drano.

Anyway. Friday had us back at the Lincoln Lounge, where all we did was chill out and drink. There was a bluegrass band playing, which was a much better background music, but I was too busy having a good time with Kelly, Cory and Mikey.

Saturday came. We got our Bible. We got on our bikes… and we went! We tried to stick to our plan, which was do as much as possible without getting sent to jail. And we did! We had great time, and ended up gathering a bit above 75000 points, after riding somewhere around 45 miles in total, after 24 hours.
The pictures that we took show exactly which challenges we did, so to get to see what Team Skanksquatch went through, you should click here. Beware, some of the pictures include me with few clothes, or no clothes at all!

All in all, it was a great weekend. That’s what happens when you combine hanging out with your dream girl, riding bicycles, drinking Joose and doin’ hoodrat stuff. I’d definitely do it again. But hopefully I’ll have a nicer bike by then, and we’ll be able to go further, longer and crazier!

Oh, you can also see other team’s pictures over here. This is cool, because not everyone did the same challenges, and there are pictures of random people sleeping with bums, getting tattoos, doing karaoke at the Cal-Neva and making out with total strangers.