Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pioneer Trek July 2011

So, the Lazy-J Blog lives up to it's name...I have been unable (ok- too lazy) to document all of my 2011 travels. I know, such a disappointment to all my followers (and by followers, I mean myself). But after such detailed accounts of the first part of the year I feel that I need to at least put in a few words regarding my other 'trips'.
First: Trek
Trek was certainly a unique experience. Very different from my European spring. Basically, I dressed up in full pioneer gear and for 3.5 days I was a camp nurse, trekking through Eastern Washington with nearly 100 teenagers and leaders. Great experience! I have a newfound respect for all that those pioneers suffered and accomplished. It was also an amazing opportunity to get to know the kids (especially those needing my skills- haha!) and the other leaders (one benefit of being an 'adult'- ice cold Diet Coke when no one is looking). I had my first ever interaction with poison oak (did you know the hematoma and blisters from that plant can last nearly a month!!) and I stopped counting my mosquito bites somewhere after 50...(suffice it to say, ankle length dresses do not actually protect your legs from insect bites as much as one might think.)

You never know what you'll run into in the middle of nowhere.

Best part of the trip? The hour long shower when I got home.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Jaime's Journeys- The Old World- Day 3

Vive La France!

Day 2 & 3 promise to arouse my romantic sensibilities more than ever before. Today I head to The City of Light- gay Paree!

The day starts early (4:45AM- anyone who knows me knows that this is a feat in and of itself). Heath kindly accompanies me on the bus as far as the tube stop for which I am grateful as there are some rather sketchy characters (for lack of a better word) on the bus at 5:30AM. We debate whether they are early risers or are left over from Saturday night's activities. I think the latter.
A quick bus ride and a short train ride and I arrive at Heathrow airport with plenty of time to spare.

*A side note: Being this early to the airport is a rare occurrence for me so I decide to kill time perusing the isles of Boots Drugstore. As I pass the foot care section I notice they sell gel cushions for sore feet. As I think about it, my feet are slightly sore from walking the last few days. I would hate it to get worse and distract my attention from the experience ahead of me . I decide to buy not just the gel cushions for the balls of my feet but also cushions for my heels and gel bandages for the sides of my feet. I am determined that nothing will hinder my complete enjoyment of Paris!

I finally board my plane and 1 hr later I arrive at Charles de Gualle airport. I step my foot on French soil for the first time! A train ticket is purchased and after a little confusion about where and how the train is actually boarded (thank goodness for the kind and patient French employee- I am suddenly very aware that I am THAT ignorant, American tourist...note to self: it might be nice to familiarize myself with a few of the more common French phrases before my next trip), the train is finally boarded. It's off to the accordion player is in the same car and starts to play a tune- seriously, this is straight out of an old movie!
Upon completion of the train ride, I find myself in a mall? I pass several stores, some familiar, some not, and I see a light in the distance....

Yes, it is La Pyramide Inversee! I can't help but get excited!

I could study this fascinating structure forever but the first priority must be finding the hotel so begrudgingly, I leave.

As I step out into the daylight I feel like I'm walking right into the canvas of a van Gogh masterpiece.


First things first. To the hotel, Tonic Hotel- fortunately just a few blocks from Le Louvre.

My cute little room is charming...has a very European feel to it!

With the luggage dropped off it is time to take in the scenery:

The Seine

French Foreign Legion Headquarters?
Or not....
(for Jack: note that there are Double-Decker buses in Paris too!)

Ahh....Notre are more magnificent than imagined!

I'm dying to look inside but the line is enormous....I'll have to settle for the outside today.

Can gargoyles be endearing?

The weather is perfect...low 70s and the sun feels amazing on my skin....and the scenery....the ambiance is nearly overwhelming....perhaps it is time for a little rest before moving on....

But things are happening in other parts of the city. A crowd is gathering here, complete with a band (well, a few tubas and trumpets anyway). What could possibly be happening?

It's a rollerblading race past Notre Dame, of course. You would think this would snap me out of my French fantasy but oddly enough it seems to fit.

The National Assembly.

Wish I had time to have that mystery explained to me.....

There are artistic treasures literally everywhere I look.

There is too much to see....must be time for a break to take it all in. These cars are everywhere selling glaces (ice cream). For some reason I can't get enough of the pistachio soft-serve.

And the journey continues toward Les Invalides, a lavishly, grandiose abode for the surprisingly simple tomb of the great Napolean Bonaparte I (think what you will about him, he was great!)

The courtyard.

The Emperor, himself.

Inside the dome.

The Altar.

The tomb, while large, is decidedly understated.

Guardians of the tomb.

So much more could be said about Napoleon but the whirlwind tour must continue......

Interesting grounds. I don't know why but I kind of like the triangular shrubs.

Headless sculpture....not all that surprised to see this here in France.

Getting is impressive!

This is fascinating! Just down from the Eiffel Tower a group is gathered. As I approach I realize that Michael Jackson is blaring and they are having a sort of MJ dance off. Hahaha! Doesn't really fit in my Paris fantasy yet somehow it works.

Finally there. It is much bigger and imposing than I had imagined.

I am finally viewing one of the wonders of the world- and I completely understand why it is one of the wonders of the world.

Alas, the journey must resume. Here I pass a Louis Vutton flagship store, one of many massive designer stores. Paris does not get it's reputation in fashion for nothing.

Arc d' Triomphe at sunset. Breath-taking. (I know I'm using that word too much but nothing else quite describes what I'm feeling...)

The Paris Opera House. The Ballet "Romeo and Juliet" is showing. If there was any lingering doubt in my mind that I would be returning it is completly abolished at this moment. I snap a quick photo (terrible quality though it is) as a symbol of the many things I must return to explore......sigh.....

And with that the evening is quickly morphing into late night. Not sure how far or what direction the hotel is, so after a quick cab ride I'm left in my little room to try to absorb all the magic of the day.

And there's still tomorrow....

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Jaime's Journeys- The Old World- day 2

Day 2 (I can't believe 1 day is already gone)

I am excited! Heath has generously woken up early on his day off to treat me to a jogging tour of the Royal Parks! What is also amazing is the weather- I have never been in London when I haven't been freezing cold in spite of my sweater, jacket, coat, scarf, hat....this is a London I don't know- short sleeves, and cropped pants and I am perfectly comfortable- incredible!
Now I better do a little stretching- don't want to cramp up in front of the Queen!

The first park is Kennington Park- just down the road from Heath's flat- not a Royal Park but still part of the tour. For the record, despite how it looks, I am not speed walking. I am 'jogging' (at least that's what I think I'm doing!)

Next we stop by Vauxhall City farm on the way downtown. Apparently the city started this little "farm" so city kids could be exposed to farming and have the opportunity to have a little garden. (Sounds like they may have picked up a little something up from President Kimball.)

Seriously, this is my running view- unreal! I am still not used to the fact that I am here in London!

Hey- she actually has a helmet on- that's a first!

The flowers at St. James's Park are amazing! Springtime is beautiful here!

The grounds at Buckingham Palace are also magnificent though many areas are blocked off- guess they don't want those pesky tourists to mess everything up before the Royal Wedding (can't say that I blame them!)

Hyde Park- little pause to admire the sculpture.....(and, yes, I am fully aware that I look ridiculous as my sunglasses aren't exactly 'running' glasses- but I have sensitive eyes.... I'll admit it- I'm addicted to sunglasses!)

Now through Wellington's Arch- I wonder how it will compare to the Arc d' Triomphe?

My choice of running gear pretty much screams "American Tourist"....oh, well, guess it's a good thing I'm not ashamed of my country!

Enormous Union Jack's lining the Mall- kind of makes you want to start singing "God Save the Queen!"

Drill practice in preparation for the Wedding.

Don't make him laugh....after all his years of training it would be tragic if he lost his job right before the National Celebration!

And now its back past Westminster, the London Eye, and across the Themes and that concludes the 7.5mile tour of the Royal Parks. What a glorious start to the day!

And the day is still young. Now it's off to the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew (or simply Kew Gardens) with Heath and George. Due to a serendipitous distraction, we miss our tube stop and get to take a quick trip on the famous Double-Decker bus. Got to admit it is kind of fun.

The Greenhouses are massive- and beautiful!

Heath gives us a tutorial
on horti-

Kind of looks like of like a giant sword fern......turns out that's because it's a tree fern. I am brilliant!

Beautiful- my little Cannon doesn't do too bad with flowers. (Don't worry- I won't post every flower pic.)

Ugly fish- looks prehistoric.

Looks like a Rhododendron....cause it is a Rhododendron. Am I sensing a pattern here?

Random Churchill display- but really, can we ever say enough?

Creepy little worms in the aquarium.... Heath and I are actually pretty grossed out as they stare at us with their beady little eyes...I think they would eat us if they could.

And the grounds are absolutely breath-taking!

Impressively large tree....dwarfs Heath and George.

Carnivorous flower- looks so innocent!

The treetop walkway...doesn't look too high....

Ok- maybe it is a little high! Don't look down.....

Don't I look composed posing for a pic as I feel the walkway sway with the wind and creek with every step....I am calm, I am calm.....

The bluebells are in bloom- perfect place for a little rest!

I feel the urge to lay down right in the middle of the blooms and take a nap...will I ever wake up?

Queen Charlotte's summer 'cottage'. It is exponentially bigger than my apartment...though honestly it looks a bit drafty and old....I think I'm okay where I am.

Cool looking Japanese structure.

And with that we are done with Kew- A truly beautiful experience!

Now I just have to wonder....what can beat today?