Thursday, March 24, 2016

Sun Valley, Idaho

Big news out of the way first. Paul and I are moving to Canada! In less than a month! We'll be moving to Edmonton, so Paul can get his Masters at the University of Alberta studying boreal forest ecology. Now that our time in the US is limited, we're trying to see as many people as possible. Paul's aunt Linda and her husband Bill live in Sun Valley, Idaho in the winter, so we took the weekend to drive out there and ski with them. Paul's brother and his fiance came too! It was quite the weekend! On Friday morning, we drove 13 hours straight to Sun Valley, and listened to all of the second season of the podcast Serial along the way.  

Our first full day, we snowboarded in the morning and early afternoon, and then drove out to Galena Lodge to snowshoe and have dinner.

Here's the group! Nina is Ian's fiance. She is very cool and smart and got her Masters in Public Health. Their wedding is in September and that will be my first time back in the states after moving to Canada!

Look at these brothers! Ian is seven years older and is doing his Urology residency in San Francisco. They look so related, they even have matching jackets.

Ian and Paul are really good at snowboarding. Nina and I are beginning snowboarders, but I think we held our own. Linda and Bill moved to Sun Valley for the skiing, so they are very good skiers. Linda even did a cross country ski expedition through Greenland a few years ago, which involved the Northern Lights, dog sleds, and frost bite! I've been snowboarding a lot this winter, because Paul's been working as a snowboard instructor on the weekends, and I'll go up to our little mountain and snowboard by myself all day. But the mountain close to Eugene is absolutely minuscule compared to Sun Valley Resort, so this really felt like the big leagues.  

Can you believe that view?!

The mountain was so big, they had actual enclosed gondolas in addition to chair lifts. Also, I was so out of place. The resort was 99% skiers. I saw maybe 5 other snowboarders all day. Also, my boots fell apart as soon as we got there, so I had to duct tape them back together. So I really stuck out. But I embraced it. I may not be very fancy, but I've got a lot of spunk.

On our last day in Sun Valley, we took a nice walk into town, where we looked at art galleries and went to a cool thrift store. We found this awesome Pavoni espresso machine that retails new for $800 or more. We got it for $85 so we were pretty excited about that. But as Paul walked around town holding it, four people came up to him to compliment him on his purchase and one guy said very seriously "you are holding a piece of espresso history." So now I'm even more excited.

The next day we drove a few hours to Boise to see our friend Ben. He went to UO with us our freshman year and lived in the dorms with us. Then sophomore year he moved back to Boise, but we've kept in touch because he's awesome. Now five years later we got to hang out again and it was great! Ben is very passionate about his city, and I see why. Boise was really cool, and we ate very well while we were there. And everywhere we went, he knew someone! He knew the girl walking her dog across the street, waiters knew his name and order. It was like having our own personal insider tour of the city. We're about to move out of the country, and I'm feeling a little stressed out about it, being so far away from everything and everyone I care about. But this trip, seeing family and an old friend, reminded me I still have people in my corner and it's all going to be okay. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Crafts and Hamilton

I feel like I have abandoned my blog, but it's not because I haven't been doing anything fun. My hours at work have almost doubled so that's really affected my free time. It's also winter now, so it's dark early, and when I'm not at work, I've been at home knitting, reading, and baking. Which is great! But it's not always fancy photo worthy. None of the pictures in this post are fancy, actually; they were all taken with my phone because I've misplaced my camera charger. These two pictures in particular are from Snapchat (a gingerbread cream cheese cake and a lemon poppy seed bundt cake). My friends mostly get pictures of baked goods and my cats on Snapchat. I really love that app because most of the people I snap (snap is now a verb I use casually) live far away from me. I'm at a point in my life where I feel really solid in the friendships I have, and even though I text, call, and Skype these people, sending and receiving pictures of little mundane things makes me feel connected to their everyday lives. 

I'm including these pictures because it was such a delicious brunch. Tasty Thai Kitchen does fusion brunch on the weekend and it's divine. How beautiful is that iced coffee bubble tea! We also got a curry omelette, a coconut sticky rice crepe, and an English muffin with tofu, avocado, a fried egg, spinach, and peanut sauce. I feel like we haven't been eating out very much at all this fall/winter so far, so this was a nice treat. 

A lot of my spare time recently has been spent creating. I've knit several hats in the past month or so. I've been knitting during breaks at work and also at home while watching Netflix. It's a great way to keep my hands busy. I painted this little elephant for my new baby cousin, and I'm really excited about how it turned out (Conor and Stef - I'm sending this out soon, I just need to finish knitting a little baby hat!). And then one day on my lunch break I went to the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art on campus and spent an hour sketching the pieces I liked the most. This was a lovely life sized bronze statue, and I sketched it from several angles, which was a nice lesson in figure drawing.

I've also spent countless hours this past term at the Craft Center. I work on campus, transcribing classes, and I often have 1-2 hour breaks in between my classes, and I don't always want to bike all the way home just to bike right back. So I stay on campus in the ceramics room of the Craft Center, where I can go anytime I want for only $25/term. I really like hand building vessels versus throwing on the wheel, because I personally find it more relaxing and like I have a little more room to mess up and experiment. So I've been making pinch pots of every shape and size. But my true love is really drawing and painting, and recently I've found a way to marry my drawing skills with the clay pots. On the left, I used a special pencil to straight up doodle on the little shot glass, and it turned out great. And on the right, I painted the crows as one black blob with some slip (kind of like a thick clay based paint). And then I took a little tool and scratched away at the slip, to reveal the white underneath, to add detail. So it was kind of like reverse drawing, and I think it turned out really successfully!

Here are some more bowls done with the reverse drawing technique (called sgraffito). I love them! Some people at the Craft Center throw on the wheel and just do such a spectacular job. But I don't like the wheel. And my hand built pinch pots can't really compete with that (not that ceramics is a competition, but you know what I mean). I can sculpt things really well; I've made really nice and detailed elephants and skulls out of clay before. But in terms of vessels, I'm pretty limited. So I feel like this is a way to make my pieces special, by incorporating my drawing skills. 

I'll finish up this blog post with things I've been loving recently. 

1. My new glasses. 

2. These really sturdy work boots I got at St. Vincent de Paul for $11.

3. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I started and couldn't quite finish the 1079 page behemoth before it was due back at the library, but I'm putting it on hold again so I can read more.

4. Netflix mini reviews

a. Marvel's Jessica Jones - It was okay, but I feel like you have to get several episodes in for it to get good, aka it gets better once David Tennant is actually in it. There was a nice supportive female friendship, it took sexual assault a lot more seriously than other shows, the film noir style was interesting when they stuck to it, and the actor who plays Malcolm is a really beautiful human. It's about Jessica Jones (played by Krysten Ritter aka Jesse's girlfriend Jane in Breaking Bad) who lives in post-Avengers New York, has super strength, and is a private eye. The villain is Killgrave (Tennant) who can will people to do whatever he says, even if it's murdering your own family or jumping off a building. This show is not a must-watch, but it's enjoyable. 

b. Broadchurch season 2 - I don't know if it was as good as season 1, but it's certainly more dramatic. Again, you can't go wrong with David Tennant. But it's really bleak, 100% of the characters are under emotional stress 100% of the time. Season 1 solves the murder of an 11 year old boy in a small close-knit English seaside town, and the detectives are Miller, the mother of the boy's best friend, and Hardy (Tennant), who's from another town and has a mysterious past. Season 2 is about the trial of the murderer (very stressful because of who it is) and brings up Hardy's past.

c. The Mind of a Chef - This is so good, and it's embarrassing how long it took me to watch, especially considering how many times it's been recommended to me. Each season follows one or two fancy chefs around, and they cook popular dishes from their restaurants, talk about their food inspirations, go and see how some of their favorite ingredients are made, and talk with other famous chefs. David Chang in season 1 is great of course, but I really love Sean Brock in the first half of season 2, and I think those are my favorite few episodes. I love his focus on the influence of West Africa in southern cooking. I thought April Bloomfield was lovely and funny and refreshing after a pretty bro-centric season 1. I love the way Ed Lee (who was also a contestant on Top Chef) thinks really academically about food and culture. Magnus Nilsson made food I had no interest in eating, but I found his episodes fascinating.

d. The Wolfpack - This documentary got a lot of buzz during Sundance and I see why. I was excited to see it on Netflix because it's been on my watch list forever, and I missed it when it was in theaters. There's some speculation on the internet that it's totally a hoax, but I don't think so. It's about six brothers (all very striking looking with long hair down to their waists) in New York who are home schooled and aren't allowed to leave their apartment growing up because of their kind of cult leader father (who I strongly suspect was sexually abusive). Their only real contact with the outside world was through movies, so they memorize movies like Pulp Fiction and The Dark Knight and make costumes out of yoga mats and cereal boxes. It was a great documentary, but it was honestly really stressful to watch.

e. The Great British Bake Off - Netflix is calling this The Great British Baking Show (not what it's called in the UK) and only put up season 5, which is weird. This is a competitive baking show. All the contestants are nice and like each other. There's no cash prize. It's the exact opposite of American reality competitions, and it's really fun to watch. It's a bunch of cute British people in a big gazebo tent in the middle of a cute British field making cute British desserts and being nice and supportive to each other. This is great to watch while knitting.

(these beautiful pictures of the cast are from Vogue, with Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton on the top)

The really MVP of the last few months is Hamilton, which is a rap musical about founding father Alexander Hamilton that just recently debuted on Broadway. That may sound cheesy or weird, but I promise it's not. It was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also plays Hamilton in the show, and he won the Tony for best new musical in 2008 for In the Heights. Lin-Manuel says that hip hop is the music of revolution and he wanted the musical to talk about the America of the past, but look and sound like the America of the present. A majority of the cast is composed people of color, and it's a really beautiful thing. 

The cast recording is on Spotify, so you can listen to the show all the way through. The songs flow into one another, and very few scenes in the actual production don't show up in the cast recording, so when you listen to it, you're listening to 98% of the show. The cast recording was produced by Questlove. It took Lin-Manuel Miranda six years to write the musical; the raps are so dense and complex. Here's one of my favorite lines by Thomas Jefferson (played by Daveed Diggs, the guy with the awesome afro in the picture): I'm in the cabinet/ I am complicit in/ watching him grabbin' at power and kissin' it./ If Washington isn't gon' listen/ to disciplined dissidents, this is the difference/ this kid is out. Listen to that assonance and rhyming! And then the kind of repeating introductory line throughout the show is: How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a/ Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a/ forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence/ impoverished, in squalor/ grow up to be a hero and a scholar?

I'm going to keep talking about Hamilton because it's my blog and I can do what I want. The musical follows Hamilton from age 19 when he first came to America, to his death. He was born in the Caribbean, and was orphaned by 12. A hurricane destroyed his island, and he wrote a poem about it that was so good, the community raised money to send him to America. As Lin-Manuel Miranda said "Hamilton literally wrote a verse to get him off an island - that's the most hip hop shit ever." Once in America, he started hustling and never stopped. By 22 he was George Washington's aide de camp in the Revolutionary War, but his real talent was writing. He was extremely prolific; he wrote 51/85 essays in the Federalist Papers in just 6 months. His writing eventually got him into trouble as well. He had America's first political sex scandal, and he wrote about and published the whole affair himself! Also, most famously, he was America's first Secretary of the Treasury and essentially created the whole financial system of today including the first national bank and national public credit. He was eventually killed in a duel at age 49 by his sometimes friend, sometimes foe, political rival Aaron Burr, who was the Vice President at the time. Aaron Burr (played by Leslie Odom Jr., the man kind of dancing in front of everyone else in the picture) is arguably the "villain," but in this musical he's the narrator and you really empathize with him. He'll totally break your heart, and his song Wait for It is a show stopper. 

So the musical follows Hamilton meeting Aaron Burr for the first time, as well as Hercules Mulligan, Marquis de Lafayette, and John Laurens (my favorite character). King George even has a few Elton John-esque break up songs his sings to America. It goes through the Revolutionary War, Hamilton meeting his wife, Eliza Schuyler, as well as her sister, Angelica Schuyler (who's song Satisfied is a personal favorite), being a lawyer, writing the Federalist Papers, being the Secretary of the Treasury, having an affair, writing about it and ruining his political career, losing his son in a duel, and eventually dying in a duel himself. Lin-Manuel Miranda read Alexander Hamilton's 700 page biography while on vacation and said by chapter 2 he was already Googling to see if his life had already been made into a musical because it's so dramatic. As the author of that biography said, the best way to dramatize the story is to stick as closely to the facts as possible.   

I love analyzing things, I was a Comparative Literature major, I can't help it. I don't watch a TV show unless a website like AV Club or Hitfix has reviewed every episode or (even better) I can find someone whose entire blog is dedicated to in-depth reviews of each episode. I watch an episode, I go spend an almost equal amount of time reading an analysis of that episode, then I watch another episode. Luckily Hamilton has become such a cultural phenomenon there's lots on the internet for me to read about it. But my favorite thing for Hamilton are the rap annotations on Genius which is a website with rap lyrics and people submit annotations, to track all the allusions to other lyrics and pop culture in rap songs. Almost every single line in the entire almost three hour rap musical (sometimes going as fast as 19 words in 3 seconds) has a reference to something, be it an allusion to an Eminem song or a line from a real life letter that Hamilton wrote. 

So you can listen to the cast recording, follow along with the lyrics (which is helpful because it's so fast), see which character sings which line (which is great because you can start to picture it in your head despite having never seen the show), and you can track what every single line is referring to. I've literally spent hours and hours going through the lyrics on Genius and reading all the annotations. I feel like I know 250% more about American history than I did before. So, if these six paragraphs didn't convince you, just do it as a personal favor to me. Go listen to Hamilton. Read the annotations. Learn about your history. Also, fair warning, I've listened to the first act of Hamilton (not joking) probably about 45 times. But I've only listened to the second act all the way through about 3 times because it makes me cry too much. If I'm not in the mood to sob hysterically I don't go past Stay Alive (Reprise). As you can tell, I spend a lot of time on the internet researching Hamilton and in all my research, never has someone listened to the cast recording and not cried. You've been warned. You will be obsessed. May the force be with you.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Southwest Adventure

In September, Paul was in Las Cruces, New Mexico for a month long research position studying biological soil crusts in the desert. So I was on my own in Eugene all month, and actually did well! I made some awesome new friends, found a new TV show to obsess over (everyone should watch Mr. Robot), and went to go visit Sam in North Bend. But once his job ended, I flew out to meet him in Albuquerque for a week long vacation/road trip/camping/epic adventure. I flew out on Saturday, got to Albuquerque in the evening, met Paul and several of his coworkers who were going to be joining us on our trip, and we all went out for vegan sushi. Paul and I stayed the night in an adorable Route 66 hostel, and then woke up early Sunday morning, at 4 am, to go to Balloon Fiesta.

Balloon Fiesta is the international hot air balloon festival held in Albuquerque every year, and it just so happened to be going on the week Paul's work ended, so that was a lovely serendipitous surprise. The idea was to get there before sunrise and experience what they call Balloon Glow, where all the hot air balloons set off into the sky while it's still dark. These few balloons started to glow, but then it barely started to sprinkle, so, because it's the southwest, they almost cancelled the entire event. The balloons deflated, and the whole event was on hold for a few hours. All because of a few tiny drops of rain. Paul and I kinda cracked up about that. People were in full on rain parkas, for about three minutes of minor sprinkling.

Eventually, the "rain" stopped, and the balloons were allowed to inflate again. So we missed the Balloon Glow during the sunrise, but the event was still magical. There were thousands of balloons, and not just traditional ones, but ones in the shape of bees, frogs, whales, clocks, zebras, giant heads, and Darth Vader.

After Paul and I got back from Balloon Fiesta at about 9 am, we met up with the rest of the group, ate a lovely New Mexican breakfast, and started driving to the Grand Canyon, which was about a six or seven hour drive. We stopped at Petrified National Forest along the way, and I'm so glad we did. As a group, we were all like "sure, I guess" when we passed by and decided to stop, but we all agreed afterward that it was amazing. We drove through and jumped out at every viewpoint to take pictures. It rained a bit, but there were lots of rainbows, and it totally added to how alien the landscape looked. There were a few boulders with petroglyphs carved into the stone, and I actually found that quite emotionally moving.

And then of course, the Petrified National Forest also contained lots of petrified wood! This blew my mind! The wood was fossilized and has turned to stone, and it was insanely beautiful and colorful. Paul and his coworkers are a bunch of botanists and ecologists so we spent a lot of time squatting and looking really closely at everything, and that was really fun.

After the Petrified National Forest, we drove through the night until we arrived at the Grand Canyon at around 10 pm. We quickly set up camp in the dark, and then woke up in the morning, ready to hike! The Grand Canyon was amazing, really, truly amazing. For some reason, I thought that maybe the Grand Canyon would be a little over hyped. I was more excited to see the other National Parks we were going to visit afterward on the rest of the road trip. But I shouldn't have been so cynical, it was breathtaking.

We were on the South Rim, and hiked the Bright Angel Trail. It rained quite a bit. A lot of our southwest adventure it was rainy. I was alright with it, because we had a very long hike ahead of us, and I would rather it be rainy than hot outside. And again, the rain meant rainbows, and rainbows in the Grand Canyon was the coolest thing I'd ever seen.

Here's our group! From the left, we have Jennifer, Francisco, and Shelby. They worked with Paul the whole month of September in Las Cruces. They all lived in a house together, worked together outside in the desert all day, and then watched the sunset together every night. It was very cute, and I felt welcomed into their little botanist crew.

So, we hiked the Grand Canyon. It was intense. I wore jeans, which was a mistake. I literally don't even know why I did that. And we chose one of the hardest hikes: it was 9 miles, was supposed to take 9-12 hours, and was listed as "very difficult." We hiked all the way down to where the arrow is, in that little lush glade of trees, called Indian Garden. Then there was a thunderstorm. It was so loud! And we were so naive, kept saying things like "that wasn't so bad!" But then we had to hike 4.5 miles back up the Grand Canyon. Paul was saying how it was the opposite, mentally, of hiking a mountain. With a mountain, you hike up and it's so hard. Then you're at the top, you did it, you get to rest, and hiking down is the easy part. With a canyon, you hike down, it's easy, you rest but don't really need to, but then you have to hike back up and you want to die.

I learned a lot about myself on that hike back up. I am not a social hiker. I am very stubborn. Shelby went way ahead of all of us because she was such a beast, but Francisco, Jennifer, and Paul were all hiking back up in a group, chatting, going slowly and steadily. I couldn't deal with that. I found hiking like that more difficult, that it took more effort to go slowly. I could only go full force. I went as fast and as hard as I could, and kept going until I felt like my legs or lungs were going to give out, then I collapsed on a rock and rested until I could go on. Even with my many breaks, I ended up several switchbacks ahead of the rest of the group. So I did the most difficult part of the hike by myself, and I'm so stubborn, that I had to keep pushing. If I had been forced to be in the group, forced to be pleasant, forced to go any slower than my full effort, I think I would have emotionally broken down. At the end though, I took a long break, waited for the rest of the group, and then we finished together. At the very top, I cried, and then almost threw up. By then, it was getting dark, raining again, I went back to my tent, and passed out for about an hour. That was a physically and emotionally draining day, but I am so proud of myself.

We spent our second night in the Grand Canyon, and then woke up in the morning, packed up our camp, and drove to Zion. By the time we got there, there wasn't enough sunlight for the 4-5 hour hike we'd wanted to do, we hadn't actually reserved a campground, and the first come/first serve camping at Zion was filled up. So we drove through for an hour or two, took some pictures, but then had to go find somewhere to set up camp!

A lady working at a gas station nearby told us about the barracks, which was this dirt road off the highway, along a river, where people often did dispersed camping. Dispersed camping is essentially where you camp outside of any designated campground. So it's free, but there are zero amenities. We got to the barracks, and there were some other people camping further down the road. We found out that Paul's brother had camped near here when he went to Zion! We got to set up our hammock for the first time all trip, had a little drumming and ukulele jam session after it got dark, and then looked at the stars. It was a great night. In the morning, Paul and I parted from the group and went on to Yosemite, while the rest of them were going to on to Arches.

That day was a driving day. We drove until sundown, through Utah, Nevada, and California without air conditioning. It was difficult. I tend to get carsick, and it was really hot. In Utah, we stopped for coffee at The Rock Stop, and we stopped there because it was the cutest place we'd see in hours. It was so cool on the inside, the guy who owned it was so nice, we talked to him about the tourists he gets (mainly Danes and Germans), Oregon's landscape versus Utah's landscape, and then he gave us our coffee for half price. Then we drove and drove and drove. Our camping stove was out of fuel, so we had to stop at a gas station for dinner that didn't have to be heated (carrot sticks and sandwich ingredients). The sun started to go down and we were still an hour away from Yosemite, and again we hadn't reserved a campsite, so we pulled off on a side road, and slept in our car.

We woke up with the sunrise, and drove to Yosemite. It was distinctly more familiar looking than the rest of the National Parks we had been to. There were mountains, pine trees, lots of green. We sneaked into a campground, filled up our water bottles, and tried to clean ourselves in the sinks, our first "shower" in about five days.

We found this giant fungus in Yosemite! Shout out to Muhammad, do you know what this is? Chicken of the Woods?

After driving through Yosemite, we drove to San Francisco, and that was another several hours in the car. By that time, I was really sick of being in the car. We stayed the night with Paul's brother and his fiance, and went out to some amazing Indian food, the first non-camping food we'd had since our New Mexican breakfast after Balloon Fiesta. I don't have any pictures because my camera had died by that point, and while I had the charger with me somewhere, our car was an absolute disaster. We woke up in the morning and then drove home to Eugene, another 10 hours in the car. We had listened to our downloaded Spotify playlist too many times, we had gone through all of our downloaded podcasts, and so, to pass the time, I read Paul a book out loud. It actually helped with my carsickness, to read out loud and focus on something. I read him The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri, which is a beautiful and heartbreaking book that I had finished myself a few days earlier. We stopped only for milkshakes in Yreka, on the California/Oregon border. We got home to Eugene right at sunset, and I took a bath, and fell asleep.  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

North Bend Part 2

Yesterday I returned home after three nights in North Bend with my best friend Sam. The last blog post I did was also about North Bend, when I went to help her move in, and I promise I've actually done some pretty interesting things in between, but this is what I took pictures of. I got there Wednesday afternoon and we went on a nice hike through the estuary, which had these interesting raised wooden platform pathways through all the marshy land.  

Does anyone have an explanation for the crab massacre I found on the side of a hill in the estuary? The crabs were tiny, very dead, and literally everywhere.  

We walked Sam's dog, Sprinkles, at sunrise, and it was unreal. For all the difficulties of living somewhere so unlike Eugene, Sam does live about four blocks from the bay, which makes up for a lot.

Another great thing about North Bend is that Sam has a very cute apartment filled with very cute things. 

On Thursday, three bicycle tourists came to stay with us through the website Warm Showers, which is this place where bike tourists looking for a warm place to sleep connect with hosts who offer up their homes. Sam's done some bike touring herself, and has been a Warm Showers host for years. We had three people, Tom, Marta, and Mattia, all biking south, having started in Canada. Marta and Mattia, from Portugal and Italy, were a couple biking down to San Diego, and Tom, from the UK, was biking all the way to the bottom of Argentina. We cooked all our meals as a big group, chatted a lot, and even did some yoga together. It felt a little like summer camp, all cramped in the living room, but in a pleasant way. They were incredibly warm people and I'm glad to have met them. Then on Saturday, we had a big American breakfast at a diner (very exciting stuff for non-Americans: they all tried maple syrup and we had to explain what biscuits were), and they were on their way again.

Tomorrow the new school year starts, which means my job working on campus as a transcriber starts again. And next week I'm going on an epic road trip through the Southwest, so I will definitely blog that. I've been really happy lately, and surrounding myself with interesting people has played a big role. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

North Bend

This weekend, I accompanied my best friend Sam on a spontaneous 24 hour vacation to North Bend, where she is moving for the year. She needed to move some of her stuff from Eugene to her new apartment in her new car, but her car is a stick shift, and she's just learning how to drive stick. So I came along for emotional support. North Bend is a tiny town on the coast about 2 hours away from Eugene, right down the road from a slightly larger town, Coos Bay. I'm sad she's leaving, for selfish reasons, but I also think she's going to love living on the coast and it's for a really good opportunity. Plus we talk on the phone about once a day anyway, even when she's only one mile away! So I imagine with two hours between us, there will be lots of phone calls. Also, two hours isn't all that far to drive when it involves your best friend and the beach. Sam, her dog Sprinkles, and I had a very nice mini vacation. We drove down, unpacked the carload of her stuff, ate lunch on the floor of her new apartment, went on a nice hike along the coast, saw a whale, drank beer, cooked some frozen pizzas, and did a very difficult puzzle until we fell asleep in our sleeping bags in the middle of the living room's empty floor. Then we woke up early and she drove me back to Eugene so I could go to work.

One of my favorite parts of the trip, and apparently the only part I took any pictures of, was Shore Acres State Park, which is a botanical garden off the hiking trail to Cape Arago. It was one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. I couldn't believe it. It was this crazy, lovely manicured garden, all fenced in. From the outside all you could see was a tall fence and then some trees, right in the middle of the forest on the edge of the coast, and I almost didn't go in because I didn't think there would be anything interesting inside. 

Within the park, there was a greenhouse with some really funky plants I had never seen before. I was obsessed with all the colors.

I don't know the official term for this type of flower, but I call them dancing ladies.

Probably my favorite part of the whole garden was the section with all the roses. I didn't even think I was that big a fan of roses, but I am now. I've never seen roses like this; they didn't look real. This post took a lot of restraint, because I took over 100 pictures of roses and I pared it down to 4. Some of my favorite varieties had names like Cinco de Mayo and Hot Cocoa.

This trip made me feel a lot like an adult. My best friend moved away, and I helped her pack and helped her settle in. We went on a 24 hour road trip and I was back for work the next morning. My other best friend Muhammad also moved recently, all the way to Wisconsin for the next five years for grad school. But we talked on Skype this week for four hours and he gave me a Google Maps tour of his new neighborhood, because technology is amazing! I don't have a lot of close friends, but the ones I do have, I love very much. I felt like an adult this weekend because we got a lot of stuff done on our little trip to the coast. I felt like an adult because I feel like I am handling the moves of my two best friends within two weeks pretty well. Because I know that it's not goodbye. It's see you later when I come to visit, and when we talk on the phone tomorrow.