Thursday, September 24, 2009

Team in Training Thank You Gifts

Guess what? I have less than one month left to get ready for my first ever half marathon. Even worse: I have 1 week left to raise nearly $500 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as a participant in their Team In Training program.

So here's the deal: the first 15 people who make a donation of at least $35 between now and October 1st can choose to receive a thank you gift worth between $5 and $20. You can view the options below. All you have to do is make an online donation and write which thank you gift you would like in the comments section. If someone has already chosen a gift, consider it spoken for. Here is the website:

I will send your gift in the mail to the address you enter for your donation.

Don't forget that you can also make a donation by purchasing fabulous handmade stationery, craft paper, and gifts from the following site:

Each donation helps accelerate finding a cure for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. More than 823,000 Americans are battling these blood cancers. I am hoping that my participation in Team In Training will help bring them hope and support.

On behalf of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, thank you very much for your support. I greatly appreciate your generosity.

(For those of you who have already donated and did not receive a gift, I apologize. It doesn't seem fair. However, I am behind on my fundraising and I have some leftover prizes from another event that didn't work out, so I had to do something. Feel free to donate again!)

Thank you gifts:

  1. Apple sketchbook
  2. Owl sketchbook CLAIMED
  3. 100% notepad
  4. 100% notepad
  5. 100% notepad
  6. Strawberry bangle purse
  7. Brown bangle purse
  8. Pink bangle purse
  9. Parrot bangle purse
  10. Red bangle purse
  11. Brown/flower bangle purse
  12. Handmade stationery set
  13. Handmade bits and pieces bag CLAIMED
  14. Starbucks gift card ($10) CLAIMED
  15. Olive Garden gift certificate ($10)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

City Walks SF #46: The Latino Mission

Now, this part of the Mission I actually like. It isn't as trendy as the northern part, Spanish is still spoken most places, and you can purchase Mexican pastries on the cheap. Of course we have yet to find a panaderia as tasty as Golden Crown.

The area is also apparently famous for its murals. Here are just a few:

I think the one below is Matt's favorite. He loves Mr. Burbujas.

Also a soda fountain that supposedly dates back to 1918. I am a big fan of soda fountains, being a lover of milkshakes, fries, and other such treats.

If you have to get off the BART in the Mission, I definitely prefer 24th street.

City Walks SF #45: Valencia Street

Hmm, I seem not to have any pictures of this walk.

Valencia Street is the trendy part of the Mission District. I am a little baffled by this, since it is still quite overrun by crack addicts and crazy people in general. You will not find Matt and me joining the hipsters in this neighborhood anytime soon.

However, Dave Eggers did found a writing center there, which also houses a pirate-supply store. Odd.

Also, one can get some good burritos on the cheap in this neighborhood.

City Walks SF #44: Dolores Park and Mission Dolores

This walk involves one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city.

Here is the city's "largest and most colorful" mural, located on the Women's Building. Personally I am rather afraid of it.

Next up: Mission Dolores. Do you recognize it at all from Vertigo? We didn't at first, until we saw the second tower.

A building in the complex dates from 1788 - apparently the city's oldest! Not quite the history New Mexico has, I guess.

And finally, Dolores Park. We always happen to be here on a super nice day, and I am always surprised at how many people can fit in a city park. I have a feeling it is not just a place to enjoy the weather, but a place to see and be seen.

City Walks SF #43: Noe Valley

Well we apparently did these walks way back at the beginning of August, and I've failed to post them until now.

This picture certainly doesn't do Noe Valley justice; we completed this walk after at least three others. I was starved and demanded to be taken to dinner - Haystack Pizza. Remarkably tasty and affordable, and a cute little hole-in-the wall.

Noe Valley is a fairly pricey neighborhood featuring, as far as I can tell, a lot of stay-at-home mothers with toddlers. It's a short bus ride away from our house, but we hardly ever go there. We still haven't found anything exceptional in the food department, and the stores aren't really up my alley. But a nice neighborhood.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Just Read: The National Parks - America's Best Idea

This is the companion book to Ken Burns' PBS series coming out at the end of the month to which I have a link on my sidebar. Some time ago, Matt and I went to a preview of the movie with Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan, and I was obsessed.

Friday night we were in a bookstore and I noticed the beautiful coffee table book for 30% off. And since I am spoiled, I went ahead and bought it and took it home. Today I finished reading its 386 pages of text, with many gorgeous photographs thrown in.

And again I remembered why I changed my major to recreation. Why I wanted to work for the Park Service. And why it is silly that I have been to many other countries but not to all of our parks.

The book's theme seemed to be a bit different from the movie's, at least based on the preview I saw. The most influential part of the book seems to be our personal connection to the parks. How it is hard not to go to one and not have some sort of epiphanal moment, or feeling of awe and grandeur.

I have had the luck to go to many National Parks. I don't remember going to many as a child; I remember being bored at the Grand Canyon after just a peek from the top. But my parents had certainly instilled a love of nature in me from all our hikes in the mountains near Tucson.

In college I visited the Grand Canyon again. I took a job at Bryce Canyon for a summer and fell in love with Zion. I also saw Capitol Reef. At the end of the summer, a fellow intern and I spent a week on a driving tour to Glacier, Yellowstone, and Mount Teton. We thought about going to graduate school in Montana, in the midst of all the beautiful scenery. A week was not nearly enough time.

The summer after college I visited Crater Lake. I took another trip to Yellowstone, where I saw the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone for the first time. Grand Teton again. At the end of that summer, I embarked on a solo camping trip on my way back home to Arizona. After two nights on the gorgeous Oregon coast with a friend, I visited Redwoods National Park, Lassen Volcanic, and Yosemite. I did not make it to Sequoia and Kings Canyon as I had planned, because as it turns out I was not too good with the loneliness factor - I camped just 5 nights alone.

But on this solo trip, I had pivotal experiences that are probably my favorite memories of National Parks. Because I was by myself, I would go to sleep early and then wake up early. At Redwoods National Park, the Coastal Trail I had planned to hike was gated until 9 am, so instead I hiked the 1 mile interpretive trail at Lady Bird Johnson Grove. I was the only one there at the early hour of the morning. I wrote, "The sun was filtering through the trees. The only sounds were of the wind in the giant trees and little animals scattering around me." It was like I was lost in a fairy wonderland. I have another memory of Redwoods, a sinful but beautiful one, although perhaps I dreamed it because I don't see anything about it in my notes. I was driving (the sinful part of such a memory) out of a campground early one morning through a meadow enshrouded in mist, with a herd of elk grazing through it. Did I dream it?

Later I arrived in the Toulomne Meadows in Yosemite, a few days before the campground would close for the season, in late September. I stopped to hike to the Gaylor Lakes, which rise to over 10,000 feet, challenging by ability to deal with altitude. I remember feeling like I had a head cold the whole hike. But it was worth it. I remember hiking up the trail, and suddenly you would come up over a ledge, and there would be a lake in front of you that you could not have seen before. As I wandered around Middle Gaylor Lake, I saw another hiker, the first I had seen. When he saw me, he seemed to change direction and walk around the side of the lake I was on, so we would meet. After he told me briefly about the rest of the hike, we stood there together in silence contemplating the view. Then he continued down the trail. Maybe you like your solitude in the wilderness. I do too. But I remember this as a priceless moment where it was fantastic to share the beauty with someone, having taken in such gorgeous sights the last several days by myself.

Since that solo trip, I have visited with Matt Yosemite, Mesa Verde, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison. All fabulous of course. I'm sure I'm forgetting a park somewhere. I've also been to numerous National Monuments and National Historic Sites.

Reading this book makes me want to plan more trips. Yosemite for Thanksgiving. Maybe Yellowstone this winter for a ski race. I want Matt to see Glacier. There are so many places I have yet to see.

What is your favorite memory of a National Park? Do you love them like I do?