Friday, October 24, 2008

Seven Random Mrs. R Facts

Corinne over at My Haiku tagged me--thanks Corinne, now I don't have to come up with a blog topic. :) The rules: link your tagger and list these rules on your blog. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog. Here goes:

1. I was once involved in a high speed car chase (no, not like VE's). It was back when I was a reporter. I was on an overnight ride along with a branch of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office, and at one point the officer who was stuck with me got a call about a high speed chase. So we went careening after the guy, sirens blaring, flying past the rest of the traffic, the whole deal. The CHP eventually took it over, but it defininitely provided some added excitement to a night otherwise filled with DUI busts.

2. I saw my high school french teacher almost get killed by frozen pee. No joke. He had been giving a lesson in front of the class, and then stepped a few feet away to get something off his desk. Almost immediately afterwards, a chunk of large blue ice came crashing through the roof of the classroom we were in, and the bulk of it landed where he had been standing not two seconds before (the rest of it shattered all over the rest of us). Blue ice, for those of you who don't know, is what happens when people pee on aiplanes into toilets that have a leak. The pee mixes with a chemical disinfectant (hence the blue color), leaks out to a place that is exposed to the outside, and then freezes because of the high altitude. If too much of it accumulates, someone on the ground below gets a nice surprise. So yes, someone else's frozen pee fell on me.

3. I have serious OCD issues. I am the type of person that likes to have things arranged perfectly. I even requested bookends for my new office because the fact that I would otherwise have to have a couple of books on the end of each shelf tilted to keep the rest of the books in an upright position drove. me. crazy.

4. I have hiked up (most of) a mountain. It was Mt. Roberts in Alaska. I was out of breath before we even got to the trail head. This should have told me something, but alas, there has always seemed to be a short circuit in my brain when it comes to the area of common sense. So I spent the entire day thinking I was having a heart attack. But by the grace of God I did not die in the Alaskan wilderness, and got to witness some of the most beautiful scenery and views I have ever seen. And I made it about 3/4 of the way up the mountain!

5. I have been within feet of a grizzly bear and survived. Another Alaska story. We had gone to an island in Alaska known for its bear viewing. They had two viewing areas: one was right on the beach, and the other was a tower that was about a mile hike into the woods. The forest ranger with the gun accompanied you to the viewing area on the beach, but for whatever reason, they did not go with you if you chose to hike to the tower. Again, this should have told me something, but I had already stepped in bear scat and had the bejeezus scared out of me by a grizzly before I figured it out. Fortunately, the bear was more scared of us than we were of it, so it ran off without making too much of a fuss.

6. I used to provide medical assistance at local marathons. Years ago, I was a first responder for the Red Cross. In some states, this medical training is sufficient to make you a paramedic, but in CA we were considered one step below a paramedic. Different organizations would request our services if they were hosting a marathon or bike ride, or other event where medical assistance might be needed. It was pretty cool.

7. This doesn't have a fancy title, I just think it's a funny story (well, I do now--I didn't at the time). We were fortunate at our wedding to find a beautiful banquet room at a local golf course for the reception. One wall was completely glass, which provided an astounding view of the mountains in the background. It was about 108 degrees the day we got married. Our cake was right by this window/wall. It melted.

And now I tag Kristy (because she needs to update her blog--I'm having withdrawals), Jody, Colleen, Alicia, Holly, Queen (I know, I know, you're can save this for one of those days when you know you really should update your blog but the creative juices are not flowing) and MadMad.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Leaving London

I had a really great time in London and hated to leave (but we went to Paris from London, which softened the blow considerably). We took Eurostar from London to Paris--it was much easier (and cheaper) than flying, and we got to see some of the French countryside as we traveled.
The ride was uneventful, but there was one incident at Waterloo International before we left that I thought I'd share with you.

We brought three suitcases with us on this trip. Hubby had a large suitcase, and I brought two little ones. Throughout the trip, Hubby commandeered two bags—his big one and one of my little ones, and I took charge of my other little bag and any miscellaneous items we happened to have acquired. He was in front of me at the baggage screen area in Waterloo before we boarded the train. He loaded the two bags on the conveyor belt, and passed through the security checkpoint.

I had to wait a minute or two before I could start to load my stuff on the belt, as everything else already on the belt needed to move a bit before there was room. I wasn't carrying anything heavy, but I had a purse, the suitcase, a bag of snacks for the train and a water bottle, so I had to pause for a minute and strategize a plan of attack for how I was going to load all of these things onto the conveyor belt without…any incidents. I must have looked slightly overwhelmed, because as I finally got ready to load the suitcase on the belt, the security guard put his hand on it and told me not to load it.

I had a split second to think:"OHMYGOSHWHATISWRONGWHATDIDIDOTHEY'RE NOTGOINGTOLETMETHROUGHANDIWANTTOGOTOPARIS!" before the guard pointed to my husband and asked if we were together.

I said that we were and had another split second to think: "OHMYGOSHWHATISWRONGWHATDIDHEDOTHEY’RENOTGOINGTOLETHIMONTHE
TRAINANDIWANTTOGOTOPARIS!” The guard asked my husband’s name, I told him, and the guard called him back through the security gate and said:

“You left your woman here with the bag,” and made my husband load the third suitcase on the conveyor belt for me.


I will remember that guard for the rest of my life. My husband didn’t find it as amusing as I did, naturally, as his feeling was that I was more than capable of loading the bag myself (which is true, and I thought our luggage assignments were more than fair). Still…priceless.

I'll get back to regular posting shortly. Sorry to abandon you has been hectic and this was just easier. Thanks to all of you who still read this blog!

Friday, October 10, 2008

London, Day 6: York

I had seen a picture of the York Minster in doing research for this trip, and decided within 2 seconds that York would definitely be something we saw while we were in England. York Minster is the largest Gothic cathedral in Britain. It was one of the few Catholic churches that was not destroyed by Henry VIII, to the benefit of the rest of history. We caught an 8 a.m. train and were in York by about 10 a.m. The train seemed a little crowded to me, and we learned upon arrival that it was horse racing day in York! York was very crowded on the day we were there, but it was still an enjoyable day. We headed in the direction of the Minster, but first stopped at a cafĂ© for breakfast. Hubby had been wanting to try a traditional English breakfast, which included eggs, toast, grilled mushrooms and tomatoes, and baked beans, and he is able to do so here (I do as well, although getting the vegetarian version). It was very good, but very large—I don’t even think I ate half of what was on my plate. We go to the Minster, and…Wow. We saw many churches in Europe during our trip, but this was my favorite. We spent a good two hours here—I attended a Communion ceremony while Hubby climbed the Tower, and we both saw the Undercroft/Crypt area. It is just an amazing building. Here are some pictures:

Above: York Minster

Above: Stained Glass window inside the Minster

Above: View of the Minster and York from Hubby's Tower view

After the Minster we walk back through York to see the Shambles. The Shambles is an old street in York that used to house several butcher shops--the hooks that the butchers hung their meat on 600 years ago are still there. This is yet another sight I can’t believe—that something hundreds of years old can still be not only standing but functioning (it's now gift shops).

Above: The Shambles

Our last stop in York was the Roman Wall. This wall was built during Roman times around the then city of York. And like so many other things in Europe--yep, it was still standing. There is a walking path next to it, and for those who so choose, they can follow the wall around the city. We only chose to walk next to some of it, but it was still quite an experience.

Above: The Roman Wall with the York Minster in the background.

Dinner that night was a chain restaurant in London called Pizza Express. There was one right across from our hotel, and Hubby had been eyeing it for a few days. Hubby had pizza that was okay, but the mushroom ravioli I ordered was…awful. The bottom was burned, and the part that managed to not get overcooked was mushy from being drenched in the Cream of Mushroom Soup they used for a sauce. I didn’t think it was possible to top McDonald’s to earn the title of Worst Meal in London, but the mushroom ravioli at Pizza Express did this with flying colors. (In the travel forum I originally posted this report in, another traveler commented that her mother had the exact same experience with the mushroom ravioli at a different Pizza Express, so I know it wasn't just me.)

I'll do one last post to wrap up the London portion of our trip, and then get back to posting about present times. :)

Friday, October 3, 2008

London Day 5: British Museum & Les Miserables!

Jody's trip report, the whole reason for my nostalgia, is up. Check it out--she's got some great pictures.

Today we went to see the British Museum during the day and then headed over to the West End to see Les Miserables that night. I was really looking forward to seeing the British Museum, specifically the Egyptian exhibits. The museum is large, and so we were not able to see all of it, but we did see the Egyptian exhibits, which I loved, as well as the Rosetta Stone (but we couldn't get any pictures because it was swarmed with people). It's amazing to stand in front of something and realize it's 5,000 years old. I still can’t believe those items have survived Time for so long. We also saw the jewelry items (there was a name for this wing of the museum, and I’ve completely forgotten it), these cool tiny wooden carvings, and we went up to the print room as well. We were there for probably 3-4 hours. I’d like to go back someday and see the rest of it; I really enjoyed the exhibits. I was glad I had done some reading on the exhibits before we left though, and had some sort of idea of what I wanted to see. The museum is large enough where I would have felt kind of lost if we didn’t have some sort of game plan upon arrival. Here are some pictures of the exhibits:

We headed back to the hotel and stopped for an early dinner at a nearby pub. Food was one of the areas where we didn't spend a lot of money on during our trip. In London, we were lucky enough to have a grocery store across the street from our hotel, so we stopped there frequently for their take-away sandwiches and salads, and spent the rest of the time eating in pubs or local chain restaurants. This night I had fish and chips and mushy peas, and Hubby got another hamburger. The portions were very generous, and the food was good. We were definitely most impressed with the food at the pubs compared to any other place we ate while in London. Not only were the portions quite large, the prices were really reasonable as well.

Finally it was time to head to Les Miserables. I had really been looking forward to this as well. We found a site through TripAdvisor that has many 2 for 1 deals on attractions in London for those holding a valid train ticket. We had purchased a 7-day travelcard, which allowed us to use these offers, so we got one ticket for free, which was a great way to save on what otherwise would have been an expensive night out. The London theater scene also has a site that lets you research seats in all the theaters, so we used that site before purchasing and were glad we did--it was right on, and we had great seats.

And the performance--Wow. Hubby listed it as one of the highlights of his trip, if that says anything. The actor who played Jean Valjean had an amazing voice, and I have never seen an actress nail the character of the Madame Thenardier as did the woman in this production. I had considered many different plays, and was very glad we ended up selecting Les Miserables.

I'll post the last two days in London as soon as I can, and then I might take a break from this trip report to post about some of the things that have been going on in life.