35-for-35 Places: Mendocino, CA

On Martin Luther King Jr Day, I decided to actually start on my “places” challenge (which is likely NOT going to be completed, but is still fun!). While looking through my waterfall hikes book, I noticed a couple near Mendocino, CA. I wasn’t in the mood for a hike, but thought Mendocino might be a nice day trip. I have friends who frequent it every chance they get, so I wanted to see what all the hype was about.

Welcome to Mendocino, CA

It’s a nice 3 hour drive up US-101 and over Highway 128. I got a late start, which wasn’t ideal, but I thought I’d still have a good afternoon and then stay for dinner before heading back to the City. However, I had no idea just how twisty and dark Highway 128 is. You have to cross three different mountains with the resulting switch back turns and two-lane roads. The last bit is through a MAGNIFICENT redwood forest that looks like it’s out of a postcard. If there had been any safe places to stop, I would have some photos of it. However, those tall trees block any light from above, make it quite dark even though it was still afternoon. I knew that I wouldn’t want to drive back on this road in the dark (though I ended up doing so for the most part), so I didn’t end up staying long.Mendocino Village

I visited a couple of shops on Main Street, including the Gallery Bookshop. I picked up a couple of postcards and met the bookshop cat. But my favorite part was walking along the cliffs and watching the waves come in as the sunset. There’s something about the ocean that just soothes me, which was exactly what I needed after that bare-knuckle drive in. I even took some videos, looking at the waves crashing through the rocks (thought I don’t know why there’s no sound).

Pacific Ocean in the CoveAll too soon, the setting sun meant it was time for me to get back on the road. I realized that I didn’t know how to operate my brights (turns out you have to push the lever away to have it hold), so I spent much of the first hour and a half, holding the lights on. I’d definitely loved to go back and explore more another time when I actually have time to play.

Sunset in Mendocino, CA

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35-for-35 Progress Report

It’s now been two months since my birthday (seriously – what the hell?!), so I thought I’d check in with where I am, what I’ve done and what’s left to go.

The Books challenge is going the best at the moment. With two weeks off at the holidays and less stress at work, it’s been easier to stay ahead on this challenge. I figured this part would be the easiest for me to accomplish, which is why it’s here. I want to feel like I’m making some progress in this ridiculous challenge!

The Recipes challenge isn’t going as well as I thought it might. Turns out, when I get home at night (or when it’s time to cook on the weekend), I’d much rather make something that I know I like rather than experimenting with something that might not turn out well and then having to eat it for a week. And since I’m not much of a cook, a lot of even the “simple” recipes call for ingredients that I just don’t keep in the house, making this a bit more expensive than I had anticipated. But I’m hoping I can branch out into some new and different recipes (mug cakes or other microwave-related things), instead of just concentrating on dinner things.

The Places challenge, well, it really hasn’t started yet. Due to family things, I wasn’t able to travel during the holidays and it now seems like I probably won’t be going to Oregon for Spring Break like I had originally planned. So I’m going to have to get more creative during the weekends (which are already filled with errands, chores and other local stuff) to take day trips within California. I still hope to go on my summer vacation, but that will only knock off a couple of new cities, so I’ve got my work cut out for me. I need to visit 3.5 new places a month from now on to stay on track. Yikes!

Secret London: An Unusual Guide by Rachel Howard and Bill Nash

6434710This was a super quick read as I prep for my upcoming trip to London. Each page has a photo and a short description of a “weird” London landmark.

From the first drinking fountain in London to the smallest police station to a college alum who turned his body into an auto-icon that will never leave his alma mater, this book has a little bit of something for everyone. I definitely got a few ideas for little side trips as I traipse around the city next month.

UK: “It’s the saddest part of my day, leaving you.”

It’s been four months since I left the UK, so clearly this post is long overdue. But since my last postcard from the UK arrived in the States last week, I don’t feel like I’m too behind the Royal Mail. My last day in the UK, much like this post, was bittersweet. I was just finally figuring out how to get to the bus stop on time, which restaurants are worth a second visit and how to power-walk past slow-moving tourists in the Underground like a local. But all good things must come to an end, so armed with a list of things to do “next time,” I tried to manage the LONGEST DAY EVER with a little bit of grace.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012
I woke up at the same time I did on Tuesday and quickly got dressed. The sun was barely out, but the flat was already warm. I knew it was going to be another hot day. The weather had been a pleasant surprise, but I had not brought the right wardrobe! I dragged my large, purple suitcase down the four flights of stairs to the ground level, mentally apologizing to Katia’s neighbors as I went. It felt like I had just arrived and here I was, pulling my suitcase behind me again.

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Run 5K: Week Six & Seven in the books!

I meant to write this post when I finished Week Six, but time got away from me. Now I’m a day away from starting Week Eight, so I really need to post before I’m out of date again.

Yes, you read that right – I have ONE week of training left! Raise your hand if you thought I’d ever make it this far. Yep, me either!

Week Six was rough, trying to fit in my runs during the first week of school, after work. My usual after-work routine involves pajama pants and sitting on the couch, so coming home to change into my work-out gear and go for a run was definitely a big change, especially when work was so crazy. Day Three was the first time I’ve run for 20 minutes without stopping in a very long time, possibly ever.

Week Seven was daunting, sweaty, but ultimately empowering. I snuck in Day One after week last week before I had a busy weekend of NightLife, travel and family. Day Two was a different experience, rising at 7a on Saturday to try to beat the Arizona heat. It was 82 degrees when I started out for my 2.5 mile workout and I was exhausted by the time I finished. The new scenery in my parents neighborhood was fun, but I longed for my familiar path and benchmarks. I finished the week with Day Three on Wednesday after work, braving the 50 degree misty fog weather. However, for the first time in a while, I didn’t feel out of breath. I wasn’t pushing myself, but I didn’t feel like I was barely moving either. I made it to the “Victory Tree” every day, even with the different intervals. I finally felt like I was hitting my stride. My feet didn’t hurt, my nose wasn’t running too much and I had a good stretch in my calves. It was the first time I felt like maybe I could actually run the entire 5K without stopping.

I start Week Eight tomorrow and plan to do a real training run on the race course on Sunday. I don’t plan to get up as early as I’ll have to that day, but hope to at least attempt to run in the morning. I’ll be done with training runs next Tuesday, so I plan to just walk each day to keep the muscles warm without overdoing it. My race packet arrived last week, so this is becoming a reality now. I think I may actually be looking forward it instead just ready for it to be over!

Each day now has a different total running time , so I’ve had to adjust my playlist to suit.
Week Seven, Day Three
Do Your Thang – Basement Jaxx [Warm Up]
Go! (Dave Aude Deep Space Mix) – Jupiter Rising
Don’t Stop Dancing – Matt Morrison
I Like to Move It – Crazy Frog
There’s a Girl – The Ditty Bops
Stronger – Kelly Clarkson
One More – Superchick
Love You Like a Love Song – Selena Gomez and the Scene
Walk On – U2 [Cool Down]