Long Overdue

I’m writing from Los Altos, CA. More specifically, I’m writing from a downstairs living room that belongs to the parents of my good friend Cassandra. Cassandra’s parents Barbara and Jack have kindly taken Reef and I in for the rest of September while we get longer term housing squared away. Their house holds fond memories for me and it feels good to be here.

On August 19, Reef and I left Davis, CA for our 3 week long road trip. We stopped in Fort Collins for a weekend, met my mom for wedding planning in Rapid City, met Tom and Cindy Hoy for dinner in Sioux Falls, drove to the cabin, spent over a week fishing and relaxing, and then drove back through North Dakota, Montana, the northwest corner of Wyoming, including a one night camping stay in Yellowstone, and finally down through Idaho, Utah, and Nevada to make it here. Whew. Did you get all that? It was quite the trip.

Tomorrow I start my year-long position at the VA which is (luckily for me) about 5 miles away from Jack and Barbara’s. I titled this blog post “Long Overdue” both because I hadn’t written in awhile, and because the feeling of being on the eve of my first day as a chaplain feels long overdue. It is a little chaotic to only have one real down day between arriving in Los Altos and starting work. It also feels a little chaotic not to have a totally permanent place to live right now. But still, there is an eye of mildly chaotic storm swirling around me and I feel deeply grateful to be here right now: Here in a friend’s home, here after getting to spend time with my family in the Northwoods, here about to be a chaplain, here with my fiance. All of these things are good.

So, a few notes from the road are:

Never underestimate the beauty of Nevada
The Cabela’s in Owatanna never disappoints
The Gold Pines is now an “America’s Best Value Inn,” and you can stay there for less than $40
Road construction between you and the cabin will always feel worse than it really is
Fish Fry Fridays at Trail Center is one of the best meals Up North
Forrest Service airplanes flying overhead make a lot of noise
You have to fish when the fish are biting
Jackson Carter is cute
Leaving the cabin is always sad
Yellowstone and Grand Teton are worth the drive
Take back roads when you can
Never underestimate the beauty of Nevada

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Just a teeny note

This is a short post to let you all know that I’m still here!  I am anxiously counting down to the departure date of Epic Road Trip II of 2010.  On the 20th of August Reef and I will be heading to Fort Collins, CO for a wedding the following day.  We’re planning on spending time in and around Fort Collins until the 23rd, when we’ll jet to the Black Hills to do some light wedding planning with my mom.  THEN after a stop in Sioux Falls we’ll be headed to the cabin for nearly 2 weeks of unplanned adventure and relaxation.  Reef has never been to MN at all before so I’m excited for him to see it.  It’s going to be such a great trip.  Things will be very quiet here on the western front until we leave.

Notes from the road will be forthcoming if time and internet connectivity allow.

Blog Updates

I would like to direct you all the to right side of your screen.  I’ve added a couple new features to my blog.  First is the option to subscribe to my blog via email.  Just click on that and you can get email notifications when a new post is up.  The second is a page I added called “Elizabeth’s Links.”  It’s a list of links to websites that I find interesting, or use somehow in my daily life.

The Summer of Running and Reading

I can’t believe what I’m about to say: Two weeks ago I started running. Yes, that’s right, two weeks ago I started running.

Since moving to Davis I walk a lot less. This is not helped by the fact that Reef has a car and is liberal with letting me use it, especially now that I’m a newly minted California drivers license-holding citizen of the Golden State. I walked nearly everywhere in San Francisco on a daily basis, so switching to a car-bound life was an adjustment, an adjustment I was kind of pouty about making.

But, no more. Nope, no pouts here. I am loving actually driving to the grocery store and buying a gallon of milk and not worrying about lugging it and my other purchases home with me. Also, I’ve had to deliberately find something physical to do on a regular basis so I don’t go stir crazy with inactivity. This has turned into a really good thing.

I have no idea what compelled me to get on the tread mill that first day. I’ve never, ever been a runner, and I mean never. I wasn’t sporty in high school or college, so I never ran for any kind of practice. In fact, I remember seeing the cross country team slogging away on Highway 6 between Grinnell and Newton on some hot sticky day and saying a little prayer for them. I thought they looked miserable. Who would do such a thing as run between Grinnell and Newton on a hot day for fun?

Oh, how wrong I was. Very wrong. Like I mentioned, I run on a treadmill in my apartment complex’s gym, so I’m not dealing with the central Iowa hills or cars, or humidity, but still, I am very much seeing the appeal of running.

I’m doing a 5K training program a friend recommended that is designed for first time runners to ease them into running distances longer than a mile or two. It stresses interval training, which means alternating walking and running during a training session. Over time you build up the time you run versus walk, and after 9 weeks you should be able to run a 5K without any walking intervals. It makes the transition from not running ever at all to running multiple times a week much easier and much more enjoyable than I could have imagined.

I am so enjoying my running time, but, I still have my couch potato ways. In fact, I usually bring a book with me to read during warm-up and cool-down. That reading and walking time is a little slice of heaven. I can’t read while I actually run, though, so I’m thinking about getting some audio books. I have a friend who has run multiple marathons while listening to everything from literary classics to drugstore mysteries. That sounds lovely.

I am really enjoying running, but don’t get me wrong, I have no plans to make a trip on foot between Newton and Grinnell anytime soon.

The Sweetback Sisters

Last Thursday night Reef and I drove to Santa Rosa in Sonoma county to see The Sweetback Sisters. http://www.thesweetbacksisters.com/

One of the sisters is a good friend of mine from boarding school, Emily Miller, who I’ve known to be an amazing musician since we were in high school together. The Sweetback Sisters do both original and covers, and their style is old time country honky-tonk music. Emily and the other “sister” wear matching outfits, and their backup bands black shirts were bedazzled in rinestones. And the music, oh the music, was perfect close harmony country fun. It was so amazing to see Emily after I don’t know how many years. She’s been able to be a full-time musician for the last year and is constantly traveling here or there. The Sweetback Sisters are technically based in Brooklyn, NY, but they’re never ever there.

Here are a couple of pictures, Emily is on the right:

Sunday, Sunday

It’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon here in north central California. The temp is supposed to hit 90 this afternoon, so I’ve reluctantly turned on the AC for a bit.

This morning Reef and I went to a special outside service at Davis Lutheran Church followed by a legendary potluck with hotdogs and burgers on the grill. Davis Lutheran Church has been a great place for me to meet some Davis folks, many of whom have Midwestern roots (this morning I met a retired woman who grew up in Omaha and went to Iowa State for undergrad, and then the University of Minnesota for grad school).

I wanted to share a picture of Putah Creek, near the town of Winters, CA, a small town down the highway from Davis. Putah is really more of a river than a creek, and it’s a great place for fishing and swimming and is just beautiful. Enjoy!!

Memorial Day in Davis: The move, the town, and what I’m up to

It has been a really nice Memorial Day weekend here in Davis and I decided to revamp my blog with hopes that I’ll be better about sticking with writing.

The weekend of May 1 I moved to Davis, CA, about an hour east of the bay area and twenty minutes west of Sacramento. Reef lives here and is finishing up his research for his M.S. this spring and summer. Davis is a charming town that is dominated by the University of California at Davis, the aggie school in California. UC Davis is famous for its ag and environmental science programs so there are lots of engineers, soil scientists, vet students, naturalists, and aspiring winemakers. It’s an interesting place to be.

One thing Davis also is is HOT! This weekend was the first weekend of real heat, during which I had a wave of dread about July and August which is supposed to be horridly hot. Thank goodness for air conditioning.

I am keeping busy here and enjoying my time out of the city, and very much enjoying being in the same town as Reef. I am also really, really looking forward to starting my position at the VA in Palo Alto, CA. I find myself thinking about vets a lot and wondering what it’s going to be like to work with them every day.

The wedding planning has also started, just ask anyone I talk to on a regular basis. We’ve got a place and a date and I am so excited that even though it’s over a year away, it’s really going to happen!