The Beast and Xena

There have been lots of fun new things here in Manila that we did not have in DC.  The biggest two have been the addition of an air conditioned car and a puppy: The Beast and Xena.

  
The Beast, while not the nicest car on the road, gets the job done.  The high clearance gets through floods and over the bumps in the road, plus it has air conditioning.  It was also pretty much my dream car in high school…in the same make, model, and year.

Then there’s Xena.

  

At 10.5lbs, she’s a goofy little ball of energy.  In the four days we have had her, she has already learned sit and usually knows down.  Her sweet skillz allowed her to skip puppy school and go straight to the family dog program for 4 month old puppies at BetterDog.  We are just so proud of our little baby, what good genes she has.

She has been an excellent puppy so far.  She doesn’t mouth on hands (yet?), she rarely wines in her crate, and she has only had one three accidents in the house (update to 3, a few hours after this was originally posted).  She can’t quite figure out how to lay on her bed and her floppy ears and mouth are always entertaining when she runs.

Cutest moment so far was when we were at the dog school evaluation.  There was a large stuffed animal dog she thought was real.  She licked it and tried to get it to play with her.  Can’t wait to start puppy school so she can play with some (vaccinated) dogs!

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Rules of the Road – Week 1

Traffic is as bad in Manila as they say it is and drivers are crazy compared to home, but it’s kind of fun.

  
Here are the ten rules of driving I have figured out in my two days here.

  1. Lanes are just guidelines (the picture does not accurately portray this, but I swear it’s true)
  2. Honking means, I’m going, I will be passing you, move faster, don’t go and probably more things.
  3. Pedestrians do not have right of way, you can see the fear in their eyes as they cross the street.
  4. If someone is adhering to a red left turn signal you can pass them on the right, get ahead of them, and turn whenever the traffic is clear.
  5. When in doubt, make a U turn.
  6. If the road is clear, gun it!  30mph will feel like 100mph.
  7. Only leave space between you and the car in front of you if you want everyone to weave around in that space.
  8. If you need to cross over 4 “lanes” to make an exit or turn, that’s fine.
  9. Jeepnys and mopeds do what they want.
  10. You can drive on the “wrong side” of the road if you really need to.

Now, today was my first day actually getting behind a wheel, so I will probably learn more rules in the coming weeks.  I took it easy and drove Mark to work then drove myself home.  I didn’t die or crash, so I would call it a success.  Also, apparently there is a loop for Christmas, I will have to investigate what this means.

  

West Coast, Best Coast

I wrapped up my time in the United States by spending a week in my hometown.  I got to see some friends I’ve known for a long time (23 years!) and get outside.  If you’re thinking of visiting California, the north bay specifically, here are my favorite things to do.

Lands EndThis is in San Francisco.  The views are absolutely astonishing, especially if you get lucky and there isn’t any fog.  Walk around the trails, meander through the labyrinth, or just relax on a bench and take in the views of what looks like the end of the world.

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Spring LakeYou can drive up for a day trip or reserve a campsite and stay overnight.  Go for a bike ride around the park and jump in the lake for a cool down swim, or just chill on the lake all day.

Point Reyes: You’ll find some of the best hiking and camping around!  You really can’t go wrong with anything here.  My favorite hike is out to Alamere Falls and my favorite campground is Wildcat – reserve early, it fills up.

Sugarloaf Ridge: This state park boasts a beautiful waterfall in the “winter months.”  Set out early for a hike and finish your day at a local vineyard for some wine.

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Salmon Creek: It’s not actually a creek, it’s a beach…with a creek.  When there’s a heat streak inland, this is where you’ll want to be.  You’ll get lower temperatures and a sunset on the beach to finish off the day.  Bring an umbrella if you like standing out as a tourist.

Helen PutnamI’m a little bias on this one, I grew up right near here.  I love being able to take a short drive and get in a 3 or 4 mile walk with pretty stunning views.  Also a great place for hill sprints, but only if you’re into pure misery.

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Coppola Vineyard: This was on my to-do list this trip, but the weather just wasn’t right.  You can reserve a pool-side cabine and sip wine in the sun.

Oysters: Enjoy deliciously fresh oysters from Tomales bay.

Armstrong Woods: Armstrong Woods is a lot less crowded than the famous Muir Woods.  Take in the serene redwood forest.  Better yet, catch a show in the amphitheater.

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Of course, this list is not extensive and is highly focused on outdoor activities in the North Bay.  There are also all of the touristy things to do in San Francisco and the numerous wine tours.  The west coast really is one of my favorite places.  I loved having the opportunity to grow up 25 minutes from the beach, 30 minutes from some of the world’s best hikes, 3-4 hours from fantastic skiing (back when Tahoe got lots of snow), and 45 minutes from San Francisco.  I always miss the dry heat, cool nights around a fire, and some close friends who have known me for a very long time.

Farewell DC

It’s been a fun 3 years and I can’t wait to move back.

Some of my favorite things about DC are:

  • Advantage of a city, without the city feel.
  • People want to visit, I mean, it is the nation’s capital.
  • There are lots of things to do outdoors and my friends love to take advantage of that.
  • Live music. 930 Club even brings in some big names.
  • So many young people.
  • Many different neighborhoods to choose from.
  • Going for a casual Sunday run and passing by all the monuments.
  • Cheap tickets to baseball games.
  • Having a backyard.

  
Some things I won’t miss:

  • An overwhelming number of tourists in the summer.
  • Transient city – people are constantly moving.
  • The city shutting down for any amount of snow. This can also be a plus, but it gets annoying at times.
  • Everyone hating on DC because of the government, some of us live here.
  • High cost of living.

What are your pros and cons of living in DC?

Thanks to everyone for making the last 3 years awesome and for sending me off with lots of love. In my last week I got to go to happy hours, do a little Clarendon bar crawl, see a show at 930 club, workout with friends, paddle board on the river during the flyover, enjoy hotel living, and take some time to just chill with good friends. 

  
Can’t wait for visitors in Manila!

Pack Out

I had either the best pack out ever or the worst of all time.  I spent so much time reading posts on Facebook and blogs about how to prepare for pack out and anticipated the worst, a day of hell, packing all the wrong things in all the wrong places.  I think some stuff went to the wrong place, but overall it was pretty stress free.

The day started out less than ideal.  I had an ETA for the moving truck, walked outside to make sure I hadn’t missed a call and saw not one, but THREE, cars parked in my zoned off spaces to fit the moving truck.  This meant that moving day started with a call to 911, because that’s who you call when your parking notices are violated and you need to have the cars ticketed and towed.  It didn’t happen in time for the moving truck, so we were forced to block the road and suddenly DC started to care.

I thought we had either 450lbs or enough space to fill the UAB (unaccompanied air baggage) box. Turns out it was the weight, so we had waaaaayyy less than allowable and I believe the mover said he had another UAB box.  Unfortunately, I didn’t plan for that and by the time I found out, everything of real use was packed up.  Basically that just means the kitchen was packed, I couldn’t think of anything else that would be useful to have right away.  Looking back, I would have unpacked the kitchen stuff to grab plates, bowls, cups, and what not, and maybe some towels and an extra shower curtain.  Too late though.  So I just let it all happen and moved on with way less than allowed.  They did let me have the red carpet treatment though. 😏


It was the first time I had professional movers.  It was nice to do little work, but I missed the friends telling me what to keep, what to throw away, and most of all to sit down with in my empty apartment, admire the work we had done, and eat pizza while drinking a beer and catching up.

The most useful thing I did was buy 4 colors of sticky notes and use them to label HHE, UAB, Storage, and staying.  I then put a sticky note up on the wall and wrote what each color was for reference.  I also moved all of my checked bags into the other unit of our house so they wouldn’t get packed accidentally.

I said bye to my house by painting a wall and moved into a hotel for my 10 day staycation.  The first night was fun, but it’s odd being home without living at home.  I made up for it by meeting up with my three close friends and seeing James Bay for a last show at 930 club before I leave.

Sitting at American Ice prior to heading to the show we discussed what I would be doing before I left DC.  I have had so many plans, all somewhat touristy, to accomplish before I leave, yet none of them were on my finalized plans for next week.  What I am looking a forward to most, and will miss most, are my friends.  Next week is filled with day trips with friends, or drinks/dinner with friends, and that’s what makes me most sad to leave, the people.  I am looking forward to visits and seeing the changes when I come back home. I can’t wait to show everyone around Southeast Asia, in the meantime, I will take advantage of the few days I have left with the wonderful people in DC.  So much for that DC to do list, I guess I’ll accomplish it when I move back!