Sunday, May 3, 2009

There's a Hole in my Rock!

I find it much more fun to travel for business with someone than all alone. In the evenings, its fantastic to have a dinner companion, and exploring a new city is just that much more enjoyable.

On a recent week-long trip to Arizona, a colleague and I spent an afternoon exploring some of the rock formations in the area. We found this phenomenon at Papago Park - a naturally eroded rock formation of arkosic conglomerate sandstone called Hole-in-the-Rock.

We climbed to the top, and enjoyed some amazing late-afternoon views of Phoenix, including this one:

How cool is that?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Gimme a Break!

March Madness took on a new meaning for me this year. With only 1 day "in the office" during the entire month, I literally jumped at the opportunity to take last week off to enjoy a true Spring Break with Mark.

We slept in. We relaxed. We enjoyed doing absolutely nothing. And when we finally felt refreshed, we took a little road trip to Yosemite to rejuvenate a little more.

During the spring, a winter's worth of snowfall from Yosemite's higher elevations melts to form rushing waterfalls. This was our primary reason for visiting during this season, and we were not AT ALL disappointed!
A touch of color along Lake Merced

Bridalveil Fall

Snow-capped mountains in the distance

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls

Lower Yosemite Fall

Horsetail Fall

El Capitan

Half Dome peaking out above the trees - the 17 mile hike to the top of this cliff has officially made its way onto The To Do list!

Yes, we were a few weeks too early to see the famous dogwood blossoms and other wildflowers in bloom. And yes, some of the roads throughout the park were still closed for the winter, limiting our ability to travel to the higher points. Nonetheless our time spent in Yosemite Valley turned out to be the perfect little getaway.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Another Year, Another List

According to my rough calculations, I traveled more than 100,000 miles in 2008! Not surprising when you take a look at my destinations for Year 2 On The Job:)

March '08
Chicago, IL
Newark, NJ

April '08
Tulsa, OK
Seattle, WA
Vancouver, BC

May '08
Chicago, IL
North Hollywood, CA
Ottawa, ON
Portland, OR
Chicago, IL

June '08
Seattle, WA
Van Nuys, CA
Columbus, OH
Chicago, IL

July '08
New York, NY
Santa Ana, CA
Vancouver, WA
Van Nuys, CA

August '08
Chicago, IL
Phoenix, AZ
Monterey, CA
Chicago, IL

September '08
San Diego, CA
Seattle, WA
Chicago, IL
Miami, FL

October '08
Los Angeles, CA
Salt Lake City, UT
Chicago, IL
Dallas, TX

November '08
Burbank, CA
Chicago, IL
North Hollywood, CA
Beijing, China

December '08
New York, NY
Albuquerque, NM
Chicago, IL

January '09
Chicago, IL
Seattle, WA
Irvine, CA

February '09
Salinas, CA
Phoenix, AZ
Ft Lauderdale, FL
Seattle, WA

March '09
Van Nuys, CA
Seattle, WA

I was surprised to find that my most freqeuntly traveled-to city is Chicago with ELEVEN trips in twelve months! Just when I was about to complain about the travel increase as-of-late, I realized just how blessed am I to be able to be visit home THIS often in a year.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bubbly, bubbly.

Its taken us over a year-and-a-half to FINALLY make it to the one vineyard that was highly recommended by multiple friends from around the country - Shramsberg, Napa Valley's claim to fame in sparkling wine. (And sadly, its taken me another month to share our photos with you. I do realize how inconsistent my blogging has been...and I'll work on doing better!)

At my 30th birthday request, Mark made the reservations for a private tour of the estate, the wine caves, and a delicious tasting. We learned a thing or two about the rich history of the winery which began in 1862 when Jacob Schram, a young German immigrant, became one of the first vineyard owners in the Vally.

We especially enjoyed the cool and musty caves, perfect for producing complex sparkling wines using the traditional m├ęthode champenoise. Deep in the tunnels, we observed the riddling process at its various stages, the perfect technique used to clarify and remove sediment from Champagne or sparkling wine.

For trivia lovers out there, Who created the riddling technique, you ask? If you enjoy this famous yellow label, you'll be pleased to find that it was, in fact, Madame Nicole-Barbe Clicquot who developed the method in the early 1800's that is still used today.

Saving the best for last, we sampled four delicious wines at the end of our tour, and now know exactly why Schramsberg came so highly recommended. If you ever have an opportunity to enjoy a bottle - or even a glass - of the Reserve, I would encourage you to take it!


Monday, February 2, 2009

Goodbye, twenty-somethings....'ve been good to me! I'll always look back on you fondly.

You ushered in the end of my college days, where I learned that I could take care of myself and truly support myself on my own.

In the early years, you brought me a wonderful, loving marriage to an amazing husband - one that has taught many lessons that has helped to mould me into the person I am today. Nearly eight years later, I can't thank you enough for this gift!

You showed me how blessed I am to have loving friendships, a closeness to my family that I would not trade for the world, and an ever-strengthening relationship with God.

You taught me the true meaning of loss as I said goodbye to my grandparents and to my new mother-in-law.

You taught me to work hard, think big, and try new things. I've learned to stretch myself beyond my comfort zone and to accept change, even embrace it.

You've brought me to new places. Who would have ever thought I'd move away from my beloved Chicago for an adventure in California? Or that I would travel across North America, and even to Morocco or China?

During your watch, I've discovered new interests that are sure to last me my lifetime. From crafting to baking to running - even a marathon or two! - I've found so many fulfilling ways to express myself.

What a decade! You're hard to leave, but I feel well prepared me for the journey ahead. I can only imagine what the next one will bring:)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Going Coastal

This weekend's weather beckoned us out to Bodega Bay - a small town on the Pacific Coast that is becoming a favorite spot of ours.

We arrived in the late afternoon, and were surprised to find only a slight breeze - quite different from the strong winds encountered during our past visits.

It allowed us to spend the perfect amount of time reveling in the wondrous views, enveloped in the scent of the ocean that filled the air, reflecting on God and the grandeur of His creation, and enjoying an amazing sunset.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Our annual Christmas photo. Christmas Eve Eve 2008 - Santa Rosa, CA