Jun 30, 2005

Vancouver, BC

Vancouver is cool. Mike wants to sell everything and stay forever. I don't blame him -- it is certainly somewhere we would like to visit again. Some observations about Vancouver:

  • Not a lot of smoking here. (Smoke filled bars are one thing we are NOT looking forward to when we get back to Philadelphia)

  • The views are amazing, and there are a lot of seaplanes.

  • The Thai, Chinese and Korean food in FANTASTIC. In fact, the Best Thai food I have had outside of Thailand was last night at SalaThai.

  • Because Vancouver is on an island, its real estate is limited, so residential buildings are being built tall and thin, and spaced in such a way as to preserve sight corridors. The Buildings are built with great care here, and there seems to be a lot of trouble taken by developers to integrate the street life into high rise buildings, to creat an "urban village" at the street level, and then also and to protect the sightlines of neighboring buildings. Almost every building has a balcony for each tenant, and a good view from most windows because of that care, and there is a great deal of integration between the street-level life that happens at the base of the building, and the rest of the neighborhood.Its a pretty cool thing. The average price for a townhome is about 350,000 Canadian. There is lots of development going on, lots of condos being built and lots of people live in the urban space and use it well.

  • Last but not least, we saw a hybrid taxi today (a Toyota Prius) and just thought that was pretty cool. There is also much talk about fuel efficiency and energy alternatives such a fuel cells and the like. We like that kind of talk... especially as we pay the horrendous GAS prices out here, which have been as much as $2.60 a gallon (and we arent even in California yet).

We will definitely make a trip back here at some point. Tomorrow is Canada day here so there's tons going on, and our hotel room is PHAT.

So we're having fun. We are a bit homesick though...for what home? We aren't sure… But as we forget the awfulness of the move from Virginia we are getting more and more excited for the move into Philly and into our new house. Both of us are on the mend from the colds, but somehow still mucus-filled. Mike is much much better though and this Hyatt stay is doing us wonders of good. We just got out of the hot tub and we are enjoying watching TV and hanging out in a room... When you spend all that time in the car, a little hotel room feels like a palace.

So here is the rest of our schedule as it stands right now (all subject to change of course...don't try to nail us down too much, we're nomads!!!!):

  1. Seattle, Washington: July 2 & 3
  2. Olympic National Park, then down Oregon and California Coast: July 4th - July 8th or 9th
  3. San Francisco Bay Area: July 8 - 13
  4. Santa Cruz, California: July 13-17
  5. Denver, Colorado: July 22 - 24
  6. Taos, NM: July 24-26
  7. Drive back to Philadelphia, PA
Happy Canada Day!

Jun 29, 2005

This is the Washington town outside of Seattle where they filmed TWIN PEAKS. (it was Karin's favorite TV show in the 80s). Posted by Picasa

Bellingham, Washington

The weather on Monday was really crummy, so we drove until the rain stopped, which basically means, we skipped the Northern Cascades due to heavy rain. I (Karin) was personally very glad to get out of the plain states, because while we were there I was reading Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven which is basically set in Utah, Northern Montana and just above the Montana border in Canada, and the more I read, the more I was getting creeped out by the thought of the fundamentalist Mormons being so close by...I found myself looking into vans we were passing and wondering if I should be rescuing the young women...if they were being driven across the border to be married to a polygamist in Canada or something.... so it's good that we left or I might have done something rash.

So we drove straight through Washington State and then spent Monday evening in a TraveLodge in Bellingham, Washington and then we explored bookshops, coffee shops and then we drove out to Whidbey Island which is the beginning of the San Juan Islands, and camped there last night (Tuesday) and indulged in a terribly junky dinner of cheese covered hot dogs and Fritos and a Twix bar for dessert (No we have not been eating like that the whole time moms!).

Today we are having lunch at a coffee shop and Mike is getting a haircut (in Bellingham) and then in a few hours we are headed up to Vancouver, BC where we will spend three glorious nights in the Vancouver Hyatt. It will feel like luxury compared to camping and we got a great deal from www.priceline.com ...$80 a night! Plus, Friday is Canada Day, so there is lots going on in Vancouver including a Jazz Festival and lots of music concerts. Should be a good time and at this point we're craving a metropolitan experience, so we're really looking forward to it.

Finally, thanks to all of you who have been sending us comments, encouragement, and travel related information -- we appreciate your thoughtfulness, and it is nice to know that we have all of you sort of traveling along with us keeping us safe with your warm thoughts and good karma.


Jun 28, 2005

Hot dogs on the fire...yum! Whidbey Island, Washington on Wednesday. Posted by Picasa

Scenic View of the Columbia River, as we were passing into Washington State on Monday Posted by Picasa

Jun 27, 2005

Rainbow...now we're off to Vancouver and the great Northwest!

Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

Okay -- We’re back online!!!

We just left the very remote environs of Glacier National Park in Montana yesterday -- which was an awesome place. What amazing scenery! I was afraid of Bear attacks (Everywhere there are “Beware of Grizzlies” and “mountain lions have been recently sighted here” signs) but thankfully, never encountered a bear or a Mountain lion despite all the warnings. The only downside to our National park visit is that Mike was really really sick with a bad cold. So for a whole day he slept in the new tent (yes we broke down and bought a new tent when we were in Missoula, Montana) and poor Mike was really pining for the comfort of our little house in Charlottesville and kept saying “I just want to go home”…but then of course realized that we don’t have a home right now...anyhow, a few rounds of NyQuil helped him get over it, and a hot shower and a bed last night seemed to lift his spirits immensely. He also finally shaved his beard off and I can tell he feels like a new man. In glacier, we did take some gorgeous hikes and even saw a rainbow.

Oh! And news! On our way to Glacier National Park, we got a phone call with some very great news that our dear friends Matt and Jen went off and got “hitched” in Boulder, Co on the Solstice. It sounded like an amazing day and we are so excited that they decided to get married -- in their own way, on their own terms in such a special way! Then we got a call from our friend and neighbor, Summer (who was in mike’s program) who told us she accepted a job as a planner for Montgomery County, PA. So she is moving to Philadelphia, which is also terrific news!

So back to the trip -- we left Glacier yesterday morning (Sunday) and drove to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, which is a really cute town. I mean really cute. Who would have thought it would be so cute in Idaho? Anyhow, when we arrived last evening (Sunday) they had the Ironman triathalon going on, so finding a motel room was kind of challenging, but the downtown was packed and the weather was gorgeous. It’s a small town like Charlottesville, only it is right on a huge awesome lake and its surrounded by mountains… and there just seems to be a really young population of mountain bikers, kayakers and sportspeople here. Its about 20 miles east of Spokane, Washington, and I would wager it is much nicer than Spokane. I wish we could stay longer to enjoy it, but its storming this morning and supposed to storm for a few days, so we are heading out and west to try and camp somewhere in Washington State tonight before going to the Vancouver area tomorrow.

So now we are both just really ready to get to the west coast…. Once we sort of confirmed our path and timeline for travel a few days ago, I contacted John Martin (my Aunt Shirley’s brother and someone we McGrath’s have come to know very well from Mexico holidays) to see if we could make a stop to visit he and his family in Seattle. John reported that his wife Robin was traveling and that he was going to be home solo that weekend and was kind enough to offer us a place to stay for the 4th of July weekend, along with the offer of a BBQ dinner (and that sounded great!!!) So now we are very excited to get there next weekend!. After Seattle, we will head South – camping and hugging the coast (driving Rt 101) and by July 8 or 9 we will be in San Francisco at Bill & Shirley’s home in Walnut Creek. On the 13th or 14th, we will head to Santa Cruz to see the rest of the family and to attend my cousin Scott’s wedding….so basically we will have a consistent place to stay (with shower) until the 16th or 17th and I will get lots of time to spend with my extended McGrath family which I am really looking forward to….especially looking forward to seeing Emma and Maya McCain.

So that’s the state of things here. We’re good, hanging in there enjoying some days and places more than others.


Another car and mountain photo...Glacier National Park pulloff along Going-to-the-Sun Road.
hiking...to St. Mary's falls, Glacier National Park Montana
Just after a thunderstorm at St. Mary's Bay, this great view of the Glacier came out.
This "car porn" as Karin calls it, is a photo Mike took especially for his brother, Bryan, fellow Subaru owner.
Great campsite in Glacier
Mike in the new tent, with a great view of a huge Mountain.

Jun 25, 2005

First view of the mountains from Missoula Montana to glacier National Park.

Jun 22, 2005

Blogging in Billings... Aren't we the cybergeeks!
Entering Montana...lots of pretty blue sky but the roads??? This is the main highway, and we were driving right on the construction site. We thought we'd made a wrong turn but no...later they sent a "pilot car" to guide us through the worst of it. We saw the Battle of Little Bighorn monument and then stopped for the night in Billings.
Mount Rushmore from the side...look through the trees and you can see George Washington's head.
Camping at Pactola Reservoir, in the Black Hills National Forest on Monday night. Even went swimming!!!
HOT campsite. 90 degrees but pretty!
Karin after a good hike at the White River Valley Overlook. Badlands, SD
Mike -- Sweating in Badlands, SD

Jun 20, 2005

Rapid City, SD

Long drive from MN to SD.

Spent yesterday in the Badlands fighting 95 degree blazing sun.

Went for a great hike.

Sweated all night in our tent.

Left early, came to Rapid City.

We’ll see Mount Rushmore today then…who knows?




Jun 18, 2005

Our friend Chris Butler address the crowd at the first of the two sold out Walt Mink shows that he put together for his documentary. The band rocked, and the fans in Minneapolis ate it all up. The first show at 5:00 was all ages, but since the band has been defunct for 10 years...not too many people under 25. Even though I had never heard of the group until Chris, they had a rabid following here int he Twin Cities. Judging by the sweaty bouncing around, I think at least fifty guys have been waiting for this last Walt Mink show for about ten years.
We're heading out of Minneapolis today and driving West towards the Badlands in SD, then to Jackson Hole Wyoming. Its going to take us a few days and we're going to take our time (as long as the weather holds out for our camping plans!). This may be the last time we can get easy web access for a while.

Jun 17, 2005

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
hmmm...long lost relatives making coffee in minneapolis? Who would have thought it.

Days 2-5 (Ohio to Minneapolis, MN)

We left Columbus, Ohio (home of the Ohio State Buckeyes) at about 9:00 a.m. and drive for 12 hours through Indiana, into Illinois and finally into Wisconsin.

On Wednesday night we stayed in Western Wisconsin at the Wyalusing State Park (the most organized camping park I have ever been to) at the junction of the Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers. The campground was gorgeous, with a terrific view of the rivers. It was our first test camp on Wednesday night, and it was UNCOMFORTABLE as all get out. My back is still killing me so we have decided to go get some new sleeping pads.

Thankfully, the MALL OF AMERICA is right here in Minneapolis, MN and there is an REI there, so we plan to stop and go get new pads for sleeping and a few other things we don't have anymore(camp stove) on our way out of town on Saturday. (Sadly we missed the Donny Osmond Autograph signing which was July 12.)I will admit that I can’t believe we're actually going to this crazy mall, but of course I am also strangely fascinated with the idea and totally excited too…and wishing my mom were here to share this special shopping moment. We may also invest in a new tent, since the one we have (left over from my Ohio State days) is rather short for us – or maybe it is that we have found that we are rather tall -- and both our heads and feet touch the sides of the tent when we are lying down (for those of you who have never camped before, this basically means that you just get completely soaking wet with morning dew when you touch the tent sides in the morning.) Not fun.

So back to Thursday -- We packed up and then stopped at the Effigy Mounds National Monument and took a short hike to look at the mounds. Then we headed through Iowa and into Minnesota, and at about 3 pm arrived in Minneapolis Marriott Hotel to a pack of eager fans waiting outside (oh no, wait, they were looking for the SF Giants who were also staying at the hotel).

While walking around on Thursday afternoon in Minneapolis, we happened upon
an outdoor event called “alive after five” in downtown Minneapolis where we had beers, sat in the sun and watched people for 3 hours while listening to a Simon & Garfunkel cover band (who played very very slowly) followed by a Neil Diamond cover band (that’s when we left).

So we're having fun. We're in Minneapolis today and going to the Walker Sculpture Garden in a little while. And tonight we are going to see this concert/ last taping for our friend Chris Butler's movie/documentary about this band Walt Mink. Here is the listing that the local city paper gave the show. Should be fun!


Jun 16, 2005

MMM.... beer and a neil diamond cover band. perfect together. Minneapolis, on day three of our trip.
The intersection of Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers. That's Wisconsin where I am sitting, and Iowa behind me.
Pretty Campsite in Wisconsin - Day Two
windmill farms in Iowa.

Hope it's going great

I’m having fun following your trip.  Cooling off here in Philly hope you are in a sunny placeJ

Jun 15, 2005

Day Two...here's the journey we've mapped out on our way to Minneapolis, MN. We'll be staying in Iowa tonight, then to Minneapolis for days 3 and 4.

Columbus Reunion

We arrived at about 6:30 to a lovely house outside of Columbus. That's Phil and Moose. Both looked great - it was wonderful to see them. We caught up, and I met their kids. Phil has one (beautiful little Olivia) and Moose has three (Also Beautiful...AnnaBelle, Fritz and Scarlett)

Columbus, ohio

That's Moose juggling her three kids.
Very cute kids I might add.

Jun 14, 2005

Rain in Ohio...
Yay! Traffic!

Day one and we are..O-hi-o Bound!

Tuesday 5:21 p.m.

Well, we finally got off this morning at about 8:00 a.m. and then promptly sat in traffic. Eventually we wove our way through the Philadelphia metro area and got on the turnpike. After four hours on the PA turnpike, we ran into more traffic. Finally, we made it into O-hi-o and the land of the Buckeyes. Mike had his 10 year colle reunion last weekend, and tonight I get to indulge my Buckeye reunion needs. With 60,000 students at Ohio State, if there is a reunion, I probably wouldn’t know anyone…so I make do by keeping in touch with a few friends, and keeping track of others through them. Tonight we will stay with Jen (aka Phil) Richardson and her husband Tim, and their daughter Olivia. We may also get a visit from my old roommate Shannon (aka Moose) and her three kids. Its been about 3 years since I saw Jen, and even longer (five years?) since I saw Shannon, so it will be a real treat to catch up and see what their lives are like ten years later. That’s the trouble with going to a state school 9 hours from home when everyone else is from that state…you move back home to your own state and you hardly ever see anybody ever again. I am excited.

Its fun to be on the road.

Week 1 Itinerary

getting on the road...Philly starting point is 2001 Hamilton Street

Week 1 -- the plan

  • Tues June 14: Philadelphia, PA to Columbus, Ohio
  • Wed June 15: Columbus, Ohio to Wisconsin
  • Thurs June 16: Drive to Minneapolis, MN
  • Fri June 17: Minneapolis, MN for the Walt Mink reunion rock show
  • Sat June 18: Minneapolis, MN to South Dakota (Camp)
  • Sun June 19: Continue driving from South Dakota to Wyoming enroute to Yellowstone (father's day)

Jun 13, 2005

Fun Week in Philadelphia

Well in one week, we have been able to see so many people that we know in Philadelphia. Much of my family, most of Mike’s family and most of our friends from Villanova and from Mike’s high school and all kinds of other places. It was a good way to get our faces seen, and will hopefully give us some time and freedom when we come back to work on our house and settle ourselves in without having to juggle too many visits for a while.


Last Monday, we got to see the Phillies play in the new Citizen’s ballpark. Unfortunately they lost the game (they’ve won every game since) but we still had a great time and ran into an old friend of mine from the days when I worked in Ocean City, NJ.  The rest of the week was filled with work projects, and other commitments and much getting ourselves set up to be away for six weeks. Mike attended the Wharton Leadership Conference on Thursday which sounded like an interesting day, and we had dinner with the McGrath family at Lolita’s on 13th street, which is a BYOT (bring your own TEQUILA). It was a ton of fun and great food. Friday we attended my cousin’s graduation party and then the wedding of Amy Angelucci and Walter Mullen, which was at the horticultural Society – a gorgeous setting. Saturday was Mike’s 10 year Villanova college Reunion which was lots of fun, and Sunday was a brunch, a christening party for our niece Maggie, and a visit to see Molly and Rolando’s new home in New Brunswick, NJ.


Today, we are preparing and packing and we depart for Columbus Ohio first thing in the morning where it looks like we will be lucky enough to visit my friends Jen and Tim Richardson and their daughter Olivia. (Jen and I went to Ohio State together.)


Can’t wait to start our vacation!




Jun 5, 2005

The move is halfway over...

On Thursday, we picked up the truck in Harrosonburg, Va -- about 1 1/2 hours away. When we got back, we packed the truck with the help of our friends, who frankly made ALL the difference. We just could not have done it without them. BIG thanks go out to Matt and Jen, Kirt, Chris, Matt L, Ryan and Leigh. There is no way we could have done what we did without them.

Even after about 4-5 hours, we only had it half packed. So we stopped for the night and on Friday we started cleaning all the little stuff up out of the house and making the final goodwill trips. On Fridayafternoon our friend Kirt came over and helped us load the last of it-- patio furniture and whatnot. We also stored the vespa in his garage for the summer.

In the truck, there wasnt a spare piece of space -it was like Tetris to get this stuff packed in the truck, and it was aHUGE truck -- 24 feet! We obviously have too much stuff.

We left at 8:30 p.m. on Friday night and finally made it "home" to Mike's parents house at about 2:30 a.m. Saturday morning.On Saturday, we got up at 8:00 a.m. and got about 6 people to help and we unloaded into storage yesterday. Thanks to Patrick, David, Kavel, Steve and my mom for their help. The storage unit is PACKED to the gills. Then we went back to drop stuff at the Dunn's and took naps and when we came back out, the truck had died! We had to get someone to come jump it and then returned it and then had a leisurely dinner and lots of wine and went to bed!

We're recovering, slowly, but its good to have part of it over. We're still at Mike's parents. We'll head over to the city later today to get set up at my mom's spare apartment. We're going to see Steve Malkmus tonight at TLA, and then going to the Philliesgame (business person special) tomorrow. The rest fo the week is packed with work and other obligations and then on Friday night we have a graduation party and a wedding and possibly a late night party... Saturday is Mike's college reunion, Sunday is Maggie's baptism and a visit to the de Aguiar's new home if we can manage it, and then we leave for our cross-country trip.

I feel exhausted just thinking about it all, but glad that the move is OVER. That was a beast.

We store our stuff until we move into the new house in Philadelphia on July 29th. Mike gets his studio in DC in mid-august and then the commute begins.

Ha...I finally get to post!

Thanks to the magic of me learning how to actually use the Blogger system, my first post awaits. The nightmare of trying to get permission to build a roof deck on the new house apparently awaits as well...