Monday, July 20, 2009

Talk about FUN!

What a whirlwind of fun we've been having! In preparation for leaving California, we've been hanging out with some wonderful friends and family and going on adventures. While they aren't over (stay tuned for part #2 of July festivities), I had so many pictures that I wanted to update a couple times to keep up.

Here are my fantastic parents on a luge ride in Big Bear, CA. My parents invited us to come stay with them at their timeshare and go out on the lake in their speed boat a couple weekends ago. We enjoyed our time with them and the fun barbecue with their special recipe corn-on-the-cob. Seriously good eats!
Here they are... heading up to the luge on the ski lift.
We ran into a "big bear" in Big Bear and I insisted on taking a photo. My parents wanted nothing to do with the hairy animal... but luckily I married a trooper.
A year after our graduation from Pepperdine University with our Master's degrees, Jessica, myself, and Samiya (fellow alum. and now friends) met up for lunch in Manhattan Beach. Samiya is pregnant with a girl and is due in 2 months! Jessica just came back from Greece and travels a bunch every summer.
As an early anniversary present to my husband, we visited Disneyland with our friends Nik and Solange. Here I am, beating Ray on the Buzz Lightyear ride. While I beat him, it's obvious who has better technique.
My favorite ride at Disneyland (Space Mountain)... although you wouldn't know it from the fearful look on my face! I am one of those people who takes the photo of the photo screen.
Here's Ray in front of the Matterhorn Bobsled ride. For those of you unaware, the Matterhorn is a 14-er mountain in Switzerland, just under the height of Mt. Whitney. Maybe we'll visit it while in Europe for 6 months!
In front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland-- classic picture. We have a "kissy" one too, but we'll spare you. I have recently made the goal (with the help of another couple we recently met) to visit all 5 Disney parks. I don't know when this goal will be accomplished, and I'm not really a Disney fanatic, but it's a good enough excuse to get myself into Paris, Hong Kong, and Tokyo-- as well as Florida which I've seen, but never entered the park.
Here we are with Nik and Solange on Splash Mountain. Solange looks absolutely thrilled and Nik is his usual hilarious self. Ray was drenched (there were reasons for me placing him in the front!). The lady in the back of the ride was not pleased with our rowdy behavior and actually referred to us as "teenagers" during the ride. She didn't want to get wet. Does anyone see the irony in that?
Quite possibly the most famous picture of Disneyland...
This photo was taken in front of California Adventure, a newer park connected to D-land (opened in 2001) at the "I"-- which we pretended to be a "1" since the word California does not have an E, B, or W. We were going to photograph in front of the "R" for Ray, but we thought it would be cuter to show our 1 year anniversary instead.
One of the treats to having our friends Nik and Solange with us, is that we were able to get the insider scoop. We learned strange things like the architecture has tons of hidden Mickey symbols, and that you can go to the "City Hall" upon entering to get these fun pins. It was Ray's first time at the park, so we had to get him a first-timer pin, of which he wore proudly in his pocket the entire day. We also got anniversary pins that we proudly sported in every photo you've seen so far.
Here's our second run on Space Mountain with Nik and Solange. Ray is very wide-eyed here, just like the last photo on this ride!
Although hard to make out, this is the photo from Calfornia Screamin' at California Adventure. It's the one and only ride at Disneyland that has a loop! It's the face of Mickey that you can see in the upper-left of this photo.
We had to fight some kids out of the way for this photo. We're in Toon Town (which I remembered being somewhat new last time I visited... but it really opened in 1993, when we were graduating from 5th graders to middle schoolers!). We laughed about this car being about the same size as the one we'll probably be driving in Germany for 6 months.
Here are a couple of amazing friends we're going to miss so much when we move. We spend about every week having dinner, playing games, and/or watching out latest addiction of Whale Wars with them.
One of the final rides we went on at the park. I am player 1. As you can see, I'm pretty good at beating Ray at these games. Pay no attention to the accuracy score on the bottom. What are percentages anyway... hehe!
Final ride of the night, Autopia. I remember "driving" these cars as a kid and it's more nostalgia than anything. You're looking at about 11:30 p.m. here. We spent 16 hours at the park and closed it down! We went on over 20 rides and accomplished everything we planned in both parks. We're trailblazers!
The next morning, we woke at 6 a.m. to catch a plane to Maryland. We were greeted by Ray's parents and headed over to Samantha's (Ray's sister) house for an awesome dinner. She has a great apartment in Ellicott City, MD in the city that she teaches high school Spanish. She recently started her Master's program at Johns Hopkins University too... in addition to recently returning from South Korea where she taught English lessons for almost 3 weeks... busy girl! Unfortunately no photos to show here of the amazing dinner and amazing sister in law!
We took a day trip out to Luray Caverns in Virginia on Saturday. It's said to be the the most breathtaking of caverns in the Eastern U.S. It really was spectacular. We weren't the only ones who thought so-- it was a packed house!
One of the unique traits about this cavern is displaying the world's largest organ. Here is one of the stalactites that they used to produce the unique sound with a rubber mallet.
More gorgeous views from the Cavern.
On Saturday night, we were joined by Ray's grandparents for a celebration dinner at Dutch's Daughter-- a restaurant in Frederick, MD. It was amazing! The place is gorgeous and the food was delicious. I wish I would've taken a photo of dessert at Gramie and Papa's house after-- red velvet cake!
After church the next morning, we visited another restaurant for brunch. Ray's grandparents treated us to a beautiful restaurant and awesome meal. We sat outside at a table that looked out to the countryside. After our meal, we headed back to Samantha's apartment to hang out before leaving back for California by plane... for the last time of our residency in the state! From now on, wherever we travel in the United States will be less than a 5-hour flight; thank goodness. With my parents moving to Colorado in a few years, that would drop down our plane flights to around 2 hours going west, or east! We couldn't be more elated.
Many of you know... I recently sold my beloved Honda Civic (by far the best car I've ever owned, I just can't trust that it's a good fit for Chicago winters). It's been sold into a good home with a pretty savvy new owner. You've probably also figured out that now I'm carless... and my latest wheels have been my very own two feet, that have been taking me back and forth to see friends, appointments, etc.
...Until the bug was brought into my life yesterday. My dad owns this guy and has loaned it to me until we officially move so that I don't have to walk everywhere. So far, it's only been a day and it's certainly bringing back memories of my very first car, a 1980's Volkswagen Rabbit. The stick shift and lack of power-steering really makes me thankful for option to drive automatic. While fun, I think my future of driving manual transmission as a daily choice is gone. This may be good practice in case we end up with a manual in Germany to drive for 6 months..........
Some adventures in July that are not pictured here: beach day with Jen, beach day with Alison and Gabrielle, and happy hour with my friend from elementary school, Jen.

More adventures to come! The month's not over yet!