Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States



Mr. E and I took advantage of a Living Social coupon for an archery lesson yesterday afternoon! This goes with our theme of trying and learning new activities (e.g. surfing in Waikiki earlier this year, basic handgun safety and shooting last year).

We headed out to Wilderness Archery in Rocklin for our hour-long lesson at the indoor range. Our instructor, Matt, was extremely friendly, helpful, and encouraging, and we ended up being the only two in the class since the other pair who had signed up had cancelled, so we got a very attentive semi-private lesson.

The paper targets were set up 30 yards away, and we both used a recurve bow for our shooting of five arrows at a time. After we learned about basic safety and the appropriate form, we got started and had about 40 minutes or so of shooting practice. So fun! Matt was quite impressed with our shooting and relative consistency, as were the other two folks practicing on the range with much more advanced equipment.

And yes, I admit, we were at least slightly inspired by "The Hunger Games" movies and Katniss, although I don't think we're quite ready yet to survive on our own in the forest...


Weekend in the Rose City

Mr. E and I spent a long weekend in Portland to visit with my family, including A, R, and Master F, whom Mr. E met for the first time (I made his acquaintance last year over the Halloween weekend, when he was just 7+ months old). Although we both had to work on Friday, I was able to limit my remote time to a half day and joined the family for lunch and the afternoon, and then Mr. E came over for dinner.

We stayed at the Embassy Suites Hillsboro, where Mr. E has been maintaining his "second residence" during all of his recent travel for work. The hotel room suite was as large as a decent-sized 1-bedroom apartment and clearly had been recently updated.

On Friday morning, I went for a longer run along Evergreen Avenue, which led past some of the corporate campus areas nearby. I discovered the paved Rock Creek bike trail, which I used for part of my run and was rewarded with a rabbit sighting. Bunny, bunny, bunny! I almost got detoured a few times by the tempting wild blackberry bushes along the side of the road, but I avoided temptation and got to enjoy cherries at the hotel breakfast buffet each day in addition to fresh raspberries and blueberries picked from the bushes in my cousin's yard. Yum!

On Saturday, Mr. E and I spent the morning at the hotel and then met up with the family crew at the Mississippi Ave Street Festival in North Portland. Scenes from the Festival are below, including some rather interesting decorations hanging on the overhead wires along Fairing Street.

We wandered around to browse the various vendors and taste some samples. Mr. E and I eventually ended up at Silver Moon Creperie for lunch while the others went to the Ecliptic Beer Garden (M and R) or tended to F as he started to get fussy (W and A). On our way back to the car, we stumbled upon a lemonade and bake sale stand at a nearby intersection and couldn't resist purchasing a piece of raspberry coffeecake and some fresh organic strawberries from the two industrious young ladies who had put everything together.

Mr. E and I made a quick stop in downtown Portland at Foot Traffic to pick up race bibs for the Be The Match 5K run the next morning, for which Mr. E, A, and I had registered (this was my race for the month as part of my annual fitness goal for this year). We then had a couple of hours at the hotel before heading to nearby Ron Tonkin Stadium to meet up with the crew again for an early evening Hillsboro Hops game.

The Hops are a Single A short-season team affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Their mascot is (appropriately) a big green hops named Barley who led the crowd in "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the 7th inning stretch.

Since the Hops were winning handily by a score of 9-2, we all left in the bottom of the 8th inning to avoid the exiting traffic. Mr. E and I enjoyed some wine in our room, and Mr. E also had a couple of cocktails from the lobby bar.

The next morning, we picked up A and drove downtown for the 5K race. The course was relatively flat, along Naito Parkway right by the river. However, we did have a slight obstacle when a freight train crossing the street caused a delay of about 5 minutes -- I've never had that happen before during a race! All we could do was laugh and wait (and stretch), and luckily we didn't have a similar issue on the return journey of the out-and-back course. We made a Starbucks post-race stop and then dropped A off at the house on our way back to the hotel.

After getting cleaned up, I packed my bag to stow in the car for my departure later in the afternoon, and we did a little shopping at the nearby Ross, Sports Authority, and Payless (we had hit up Old Navy the day before). We then had lunch with my family at their house and hung around for a couple of hours in the afternoon, enjoying the shade in the backyard, before Mr. E took me to the airport for my early evening return flight to Sacto.

A lovely weekend in the Rose City, with not-too-humid weather and quality family time!


Fourth of July in Chicago

Mr. E and I are in Chicago for the long weekend. The primary reason for being here is related to his dad's recent health issues and heart surgery rather than the holiday or his Mom's birthday (which is today). Luckily, everything went well with the procedure, and his dad was able to be discharged and come home on Friday. Thus, Mr. E and I ended up with a totally free and unplanned day yesterday.

We decided to make it a "play day" in Chicago to enjoy the city and everything going on for the 4th of July, including the final three shows of the Grateful Dead at Soldier Field (tie-dye was spotted frequently all weekend!), home games for both the Cubs and the White Sox, and lots of street closures to get ready for Taste of Chicago, which begins in mid-week.

After breakfast with his parents, I found a Groupon deal for the Hop On Hop Off Downtown Tour, which loops around 12 stops in downtown Chicago. Mr. E and I headed off to one of the tour stops to board the bus and strolled through some of the new parts of Maggie Daley Park, just across the street from his parents' condo building. This park has been completely redone over the past few years and is now an amazing urban playground for all ages -- kids' playground, rock-climbing walls of varying levels, ice-skating/roller-blading track, mini golf course. So fun!

Snake Bridge to Millennium Park
We then crossed the snake bridge to Millennium Park, as I wanted to get some photos of several iconic sites (The Bean, the face fountain, Divvy bikes) featuring my CaliforniaHealth+ t-shirt as part of our upcoming efforts to enhance the visibility of CH+ during National Health Center Week in August.

#My Plus = Awesome Public Art
#My Plus = Family-Friendly Water Features
#My Plus = City Bike Share Programs
We eventually found our way to the bus stop after browsing through the souvenir shop in the park and making note of a few items to pick up on our way back. The weather yesterday was lovely -- warm but not hot, a little cloud cover, a light breeze -- so we were able to sit comfortably on the upper level of the double-decker tour bus, which gave us great views of the diverse architecture and urban landscape of downtown Chicago. (all photos by Mr. E)

Navy Pier
Michigan Ave Bridge with Wrigley Building in Background
Tribune Building
Hard Rock Cafe (Grateful Dead tribute band in parking lot)

"L" Underpass View
Hancock Tower
"Corncobs" Residential Towers
Willis Tower (aka Sears Tower)
Reflective Skyscrapers
Award-Winning "Aqua" Residential Tower
Trump Tower (hotel + residences)
Riverfront View
Chicago Theatre Sign & Marquee
We hopped off the tour near Water Tower Place and ended up at the Oak Tree Cafe for lunch, where I had some awesome salmon sliders with cucumber and watercress and a ginger soy glaze -- yum! After getting our free Hershey bars at the nearby shop, we hopped back on the bus to finish out the tour back where we started. Mr. E took a quick look around Old Navy while I got our free snack size treat sacks from Garrett Popcorn, and we then walked back to the souvenir shop at Millennium Park to purchase two magnets, a Bean ornament, a snow globe for S, and a t-shirt for Christian. We were able to use a coupon from the bus tour company, so it's good that we waited until after the tour to do our shopping!

When we got back to the apartment, Mr. E went to work out in the Fitness Center on the 7th Floor while I hung out with his parents and started to prep the veggies for dinner, which Mr. E and I prepared for the four of us. We then headed back out to Maggie Daley Park for a round of mini-golf -- much cooler with no sun at 8:30pm! The course was practically empty, so we didn't have to rush at all. Mr. E was the victor, and we can get $2 off our next rounds by saving our scorecard (and remembering to bring it with us on a return visit).

The fireworks at Navy Pier were set to go off at 9:30pm, so we wandered up Harbor Drive (perpendicular to the street where Mr. E's parents live) and joined lots of other folks who'd had the same idea to line the sidewalks and get a view of the fireworks between the buildings. Even though there were many people around, we were still able to find a spot that wasn't too crowded and that provided us with a quick exit route down the stairs to the lovely Lakeshore East park, which is less than 2 blocks from Mr. E's parents' place.

What a great way to spend the 4th of July!