Thursday, July 18, 2019

An Overnight Stay at a Hostel in Yosemite

mountains near the 14 freeway  in Canyon Country, California


Last night I returned from a wonderful train trip to Yosemite, California. I used my California Rail Pass with Amtrak. It gives you seven days of travel in a twenty-one day period for $159.00. They don't advertise it; you have to ask for it.  It's an incredible deal! I discovered a wonderful hostel online with excellent prices. I booked a dorm room for $41.00. Since I took public transportation there, I received a 15% discount on everything: my simple but comfortable room, meals, the spa, and all beverages.

I got up at 2:30 a.m. and watered my garden. We are only allowed to water on Tuesdays and Fridays here. You can't miss a single day in this heat. I drove my VW Beetle up to Bakersfield, just past the Grapevine. I parked the car at the train station for free, and picked up a hard copy of my ticket at the window. One of the conditions of this pass is that you can't use etickets. You have to have a reservation, and retrieve a printed out ticket from an Amtrak ticket counter.

The train departed at 6:10 a.m. It was a relaxing and comfortable ride. Once we hit Merced, I transferred to the Yarts Bus, (which was covered with my Amtrak pass.) I walked up to The Bug Resort and had lunch at the Bug Cafe. The views were phenomenal. I just loved the healing, relaxing vibe of the whole place. I took a hike to the swimming hole, and waded in the water. There were wild blackberries growing along the trail. I picked them and enjoyed their warmth and sweetness.

After checking in, I bought a spa pass and enjoyed their natural hot tub, garden, and fantastic sauna. The setting was just magical. At dinner, a handsome young Australian man asked me if I was dining alone, and if I would like to eat with him. We became instant friends, and enjoyed our  meal and conversation.

After that, we sat out by the campfire and listened to two women performing some original songs on their guitar and violin. They sang beautifully together, and I really enjoyed the firelight, music, company, and atmosphere. I felt like I was with old friends. There were s'mores available to eat by the campfire, but I had already devoured a piece of homemade strawberry rhubarb pie from the June Bug Cafe.

That evening I met my roommate, who was from England. We introduced ourselves and chatted for a while. I offered her a plum, and we munched on them while studying her bus schedule into Yosemite Park where we planned to venture the next day. The cabin slept twelve, and there were just the two of us. We ended up having our own rooms, because Bev wanted to stay up and plan her journey.  I was so exhausted I couldn't comprehend the times or details.  I fell into my top bunk bed, wiped out from the altitude and the long, exciting day.

Have you ever stayed in a hostel? I adored  the company. Everyone I met was so friendly and open. It was like camp. We were all soaking up the setting and became instant friends.

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Friday, July 12, 2019

Seeing the Opportunity

Ocean Avenue Santa Monica


Sometimes when we are disappointed in a situation in life, it's because it hasn't gone our way. Often, in hindsight, we will realize that there was a reason.  We might choose a new direction or path.  If things had been comfortable, we might have stayed in a scenario that wasn't really right for us.

My dance partner Fred Boothe used to tell me, "Just remember, everything happens for a reason."  Each person plays their part in the story. If we listen to our intuition, and follow our hunches, we will experience coincidences and opportunities. Even dark times have benefits. As the saying goes, "Every cloud has a silver lining."

I've always believed in having a grand master plan for life. You don't need to know exactly how you are going to get there, but it's important to know what your heart desires.  When you focus on the feelings that you want to experience, it helps you to attract those situations. Follow your heart and your dreams will come true.   The heart knows what makes you truly happy.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Just In Time

Ojai, which is near Santa Barbara
 
Yesterday I had planned to take a day trip to Santa Barbara. I bought a round trip ticket on the Metro to Union Station, and then  was going to transfer to the Pacific Coast Starlight, (my favorite Amtrak train,) and eat lunch on the train.  There's something about enjoying a meal as you're roaring down the tracks that really makes people feel happy and excited.  I dropped Lula off at "dog camp" at 6:30 a.m.  She was overjoyed to be there.

I arrived in plenty of time to take the local commuter train. Unfortunately, it was 80 minutes late. If I had waited, I  would have missed my connecting train to Santa Barbara. I discussed it with a woman I had been chatting with at the platform and tried to figure out  what to do.  My head was spinning.  Fortunately, I had the schedule with me.  If you miss your train on Amtrak, you lose the money. I almost just gave up and went home.

Instead, I decided to try driving to one of the stations further north, rather than trying to get downtown in rush hour traffic. All of a sudden it occurred to me that I could drive down  I5 to Burbank Airport. They have an Amtrak station there, and the Pacific Coast Starlight would stop at that station at 10:30 a.m.  I wasn't sure if I would make it in time, but decided to try.

It turns out I arrived with an hour to spare! I parked the car in Lot G and walked up to the platform. Once there, I conversed with a friendly lady sitting on the bench who was on her way to visit her sister. She's a crocheter, and she complimented me on the hand knit shawl that I was wearing.   We had an enjoyable conversation. She loves to travel, too. 

Everything worked out for the best, and I boarded the train that I had a ticket for at the third station, Burbank Airport,  instead of at the first one. It's fortunate that I had purchased my ticket in advance. I didn't think I could make it to Van Nuys station on the 405 at that time, and I also wasn't quite sure where it was.

I met some friendly people on the train, especially in the Observation Car, which has spectacular floor to ceiling views.  We devoured a delicious hot lunch on the train. I had a cheeseburger, and it was delicious. Our table overlooked the ocean. It was breathtaking to take in the scenery.  Our server was so friendly and kind.

 Train travel is my favorite way to go. It's so comfortable and easy. I love the space and ability that you have to move around in the cars.  Our roomy seats leaned back and had foot rests. It's an ideal space to knit or read.    Photos and info about Santa Barbara are here:  www.downtownsb.org

If you click on Transportation you can see my train. Have you done much traveling by rail?

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Sunday, July 7, 2019

When Things Don't Go As Planned



I have been spending time each morning in the garden. The energy there is healing, alive, and green. I planted sunflower seeds all along the fence. I love how cheerful they are.

I met with a friend today to knit. I haven't been able to face my knitting for the past month. It's been a difficult time for me personally.  I decided to start something simple, a cotton dishcloth. I finished it this afternoon, and am thoroughly enjoying my dear knitting again.  My confidence had returned.  I'd forgotten how much I enjoy it.

How is your crafting going? Are you making anything?

  
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Friday, July 5, 2019

Fourth of July Visit



I went home to visit my dad and brothers for the 4th of July. My middle brother and I watched the fireworks  from my dad's bedroom window while he was sleeping. They were spectacular.  The sounds were booming through the night.  It brought back memories of Disneyland.

We just had an earthquake as I was blogging. Lula  and I went and stood under the bedroom door frame. That's what they used to teach us to do in school. They also cautioned us to stay away from large windows. Lula just wagged her tail and smiled at me.  She didn't seem concerned at all.

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Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Planning For the End of Life



Most people don't like to think about how they are going to die, but it is something that we are all going to experience. Sometimes death comes as a shock. People get in accidents, or they could have a heart attack or a stroke.  Sometimes it is a  slower process, with time to prepare.

I have watched several of my animals die, and have been there with them until the end.  It always feels kinder to me when we put our pets to sleep. If they aren't going to get better, and they are suffering, this can be a way to assist them on their journey into the afterlife.

When my mom was dying, I felt like I was the only one who knew what was happening. She had taken several falls, and was losing her balance. She wasn't able to keep food down, except for soup or broth. She threw up the Thanksgiving dinner that I made, but tried to hide it from me. I still knew. My dad told me that she was sleeping twenty of the twenty-four hours a day.

When I talked with her on the phone, she sounded at the end of her wits. "I don't know what's wrong!" she gasped.  After first asking her if she wanted to know what I thought,  I voiced my feelings. "I think that your body is shutting down," I explained. I had read that the Chinese stop eating and drinking when they  are ready to die. Many animals isolate themselves in nature.

"I guess I'm going to have to make up my mind to die," she answered. I told her that I would pray that she would have a painless and peaceful passing, and suggested that she do the same. It had gotten to the point that she couldn't move, and everything hurt. She could hardly talk.

"I'll let you go; you sound tired," I told her.  "I'll talk to you tomorrow," she agreed. That was our last conversation. The next morning my dad phoned and quietly told me that she had died. He asked me to write her obituary.  That always made an impression on me. My mother was very strong, decisive, and disciplined. She even exited her body that way. That was four years ago. I am so glad that we had that conversation. Many people can't discuss it. We also had a hospice team that came in, checked on her, and eliminated all of the medications that she was taking. I was so relieved that she didn't suffer, any longer than she had. Have you experienced death with someone close to you?

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Sunday, June 30, 2019

An Inspiring Podcast by Suze Orman

Each Thursday and Sunday I look forward to listening to Suze Orman's podcast. It's called Women and Money.  Today's episode is about having faith that everything happens for the best. Suze has been a real inspiration to me for many years. I have followed her advice carefully, and it has always worked.  I hope you enjoy it.  https://www.suzeorman.com/podcast

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Saturday, June 29, 2019

Admiring Some Santa Monica Homes



Here are a few more photos I took while spending the day in Santa Monica. This one is a gorgeous Spanish style house near Ocean Way. The ivy and the landscaping envelop it so beautifully.   It has a stunning view of the ocean.  I love the tiles and archways.



This blue one is now an inn. It's just a short walk from the beach.   I love the location.  There are some quaint shops and restaurants nearby.


It would be fun to live in this little house. It just sold. A group of young girls were selling lemonade outside of it. I stopped and chatted with them on my way back to the car. I remember squeezing fresh lemons to use at a lemonade stand with my friend when I was their age. Now they just open a bottle of Newman's Own; they had it on ice in a cooler.  I was their first customer.

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Thursday, June 27, 2019

More Santa Monica Beach Photos

The charming Georgian Hotel on Ocean Avenue


Today I went back to the beach for a couple of hours. The weather was sunny and delightful. These photos are from Sunday. I found a perfect parking spot in my favorite neighborhood, and eased my red Beetle in front of a charming beach house. After locking the car, I walked half a block, headed down the colorful stairs, and continued through the pedestrian tunnel under Pacific Coast Highway.

beach houses and palm trees

There were a couple of Breeze bikes parked the nearest bike rack, so I punched in my account number and pin to unlock one. I had read that if you return a Breeze bike to one of their hubs, they will credit you two dollars. I decided to return both of them: one before  I went into the water, and one on the way home.

safe bike path away from cars

I took a gorgeous ride towards Malibu on the bike path. They're weren't too many people, so it was very relaxing. Everyone seems to love walking and bicycling on that path.  I saw a couple of skate boarders, too. I stopped and watched the surfers for a while. My older brother used to surf every day when he was alive. The weather here is perfect. After enjoying the water, and taking a walk along the beach, I packed up my bag and headed back to the Breeze bike. It felt good to put the bicycles back into  a locked position where they are supposed to be. I love that bike share.  It's working out so well.

I beat the traffic home, which was thrilling.   The 405 freeway is fabulous if you drive on it at the right time. I made a pizza using homemade sauce and pizza dough that I had already prepared and put in the fridge. Next I plan to do Pilates. Once I  finish the rest of my chores, I'll walk Lula.  How is your exercise routine going? 

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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Using Public Transportation Instead of Your Car



Here are some more photos from my Sunday bus trip to Santa Monica beach.  I started out at this bus stop in Canyon Country. I drove the short distance from my cottage and parked the car.  It's free.  I love this park; it's so lush and green. There are so many pine trees.  They provide us with much needed shade in the hot weather.


Annenburg Community Center and Breeze Bike Hub

There were plenty of bicycles at this beach station. I got mine at Colorado and 4th, by the Metro stop. It was a quick walk from Ocean Avenue and Colorado, where we were let off the bus. They have special bike lanes that are painted green. One of them goes straight down the pier. I unlocked my bike and cruised down Main Street. From there I turned right on Ocean Park, and headed down to the sand.  As you can see, the Breeze bikes are excellent quality. I love the roomy baskets. They have bells and hand brakes, and you can easily adjust the seat to fit your height. The rear key pad shows you how much time you have remaining, and how far you have ridden.

I love this pizza delivery bike at Stephano's Pizzeria on the 3rd Street Promenade

The ocean is so expansive. It really opens up your mind and consciousness. I have always felt completely at home here. I first came to Santa Monica as a thirteen year old babysitter. I knew as soon as my feet touched the ground that I wanted to move here when I got older. It was love at first sight for me. 

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Sunday, June 23, 2019

A Gorgeous Sunny Day at the Beach



This morning I rode the beach bus from Santa Clarita to Santa Monica. It was only $3.00 each way. The buses are beautiful. They travel nonstop to The Santa Monica Pier.



I picked up a Breeze bike at the beach. There were several to choose from at Annenburg Community Center.  I saw this funny scene on my bike ride to Venice Beach.

The views were breathtaking.



The bathrooms are very clean and creative.  I love the outdoor sinks.



This was my view from the window after boarding the bus to head back home.





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Friday, June 21, 2019

Putting Air in Your Bicycle Tires



The other day I rode my bike down to the nearby gas station. I had noticed that my back tire was getting  low, and  I needed to pump some air into it. I have a small travel pump, but it doesn't seem to  work very well.  I needed something more powerful.

I ran into my neighbor while I was there. He was picking up several bags of ice for a family  trip to the lake. He helped me with the pump. There are spaces on the machine to insert six quarters, but there is also a sign that says, "For free air, ask inside." He went in and they told him just to press the button. It's  on the left hand side.  I pressed it, the machine fired up, and the air came whooshing out through the nozzle.

He filled the back tire for me, and I added some air to the front one. It was quick and easy, and boy did it make a difference! I hadn't realized that you need to add air to your bicycle tires on a regular basis. I have spent so much money having the inner tubes replaced and adding tuff tube, maybe this is all that I needed to do.  Well, except for things that cause punctures,  like thorns and nails.  It makes me shake my head. I need to make it a habit. Even if your bike is just sitting in the garage, the tires can go flat.

My neighbor mentioned that he has a compressor pump if I ever need to use it. He's so nice. I usually stop and chat with his wife when I am out walking the dog.  I came home and oiled the chain. The owner of the local bike shop always reminds me that I need to do that whenever it gets dry.

When the tires have plenty of air in them, the ride feels completely different. You have support. It's the opposite of that feeling when your tires deflated or getting low. I am excited to be more proactive about this part of bicycle maintenance.  How is your tire situation?

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