Friday, November 1, 2013

Life updates

Hola everyone!

Happy Halloween, I have been super lazy about updating this blog as my work laptop did some weird encryption that prevented me from transferring files from my SD card.  Today I flew into Hawaii for the weekend and apparently Waikiki's Halloween is the 2nd largest halloween party in America.  Had no clue but will be out and about and photographing the craziness after I send off a couple of work emails.

I had a (fairly) recent trip to Nicaragua, where I boarded down the Volcan Cerro Negro at a high speed considering I was in an orange prison jumpsuit and volcano ash is made of pumice.  Details to be up soon.

Work has been absolutely batsh*t crazy lately and my life has been a combination of running from place to place, attempting to connect to the internet and be productive for 30-45 min spurts at a time, and catching cat naps wherever.  Seriously, I sleep about 4 hours a night, drink like a 5 hour energy, two Venti Starbucks iced lattes, and that Mio Energy stuff each day.  I am at the verge of serious burnout.

Anyway, enough ranting.  I have some great news which several of you may have heard about.

1) I am officially a property owner!  I don't know how to explain this, but being a single person is actually kind of tough.  Things are expensive, like rent, hotel rooms, just things you can share with someone else if you cohabitate.  This is especially hard to justify if you are only home like once or twice a month.  In SF, a 1 bedroom is like $2600/month.  Am I going to spend that much to stay there like 6 days a month?? No!  And if you are over 30 and make a pretty decent living, you'll understand that I'm a bit past the stage of living with roommates.  You want to develop assets, start preparing for retirement and medical expenses.  Then, compound this by noting that I am a single female and have to negotiate, pay for, and take care of everything myself.  So...  I chose to purchase a small condo as a rental property in HAWAII! Because you all know I love it so much.  Hawaii has a high rental rate, I have someone to manage all the details for me, and I can also stay in it when on the island.  If you are headed to Waikiki and want a reasonable place to stay (it's in the process of remodeling right now), send me a note! 

2) I have officially accepted a consulting position in Australia!  It is an internal position so I am moving from my firm's US practice to their Australian one and this will happen in December/January. This was not easy as I had to prove I had experience they couldn't find in Australia.  I am VERY EXCITED.  SO EXCITED I have been bursting at the seams the last two weeks as we went through the offer and negotiation process.  The position is in Adelaide, which is in South Australia and a smaller city, which I'm not terribly concerned about because I will still be required to travel for work (remember I am only home a few weekends a month) and Adelaide happens to be the gateway to wine country!  Also I'm not really interested in dealing with a big city.  If I wasn't going to Oz I had decided to move to San Diego next year, so it fits my bill.

That's it for the moment! Big news, totally excited, and pics from Nicaragua and Hawaii Halloween to be up soon!

Friday, August 30, 2013

This is 'Merica - Zion National Park, Utah

Ok kids, this post has been a long time coming and ironically the only time I have had time to write this is right now, when I am on my current vacay in Nicaragua! So I guess that will be another month till you find out what shenanigans I am getting into over here in Central America : )

Anyway, to finish off from my last trip to Hawaii, I decided to do the batshit crazy thing and... go to Zion National Park with Thieny, Jason and several other of their friends including Blake and Laura.

To start with, Zion is in Utah and is about 2 hours northeast of Las Vegas.  You can take a bus from  Vegas to the nearest town which is called Hurricane (don't ask me why, I don't think there are hurricanes in Nevada. Or Utah.) Instead, I chose to do the crazy route, which also afforded me airline miles, by flying directly from Honolulu to Seattle, and then to Denver, where I joined up with Thieny and Jason and proceeded to drive about 12 HOURS to Utah. No, this was not the most direct method of getting there. But was it fun?  Well other than sitting on a plane for like 10 hours and then in a car for 12, the journey is half the fun, and why not spend some time roadtripping with friends??

 I get into Denver, Thieny picks me up, I conk out for a bit, then we leave.  We then drive for like, 7 hours before Jason, ever the outdoorsman, decides we will camp in BLM land for the night.  What is BLM land?  Bureau of Land Management.  It's public land that the government owns and apparently there is a ton of it out while you drive between Colorado and Utah.   So apparently you can just like, pull off the freeway and camp against a rock with your cars in the middle of nowhere, which is exactly what we did.

I am missing the photo, but Jason actually had GPS coordinates of a place he found on google earth.  Nevertheless, his method of camping in the middle of nowhere for some reason consists of placing a circle on a screenshot of Google Earth and then finding the GPS in the middle of the night somewhere in the Colorado mountains.  This is actually a photo of one of our campsites but I thought it was a good example of how ridiculous this is (or normal. I have no idea)

EDIT: Jason and Blake are bringing up how NORMAL it is to sleep behind a rock in the middle of nowhere. so i am now attaching the satellite photo, and GPS coordinates. In case anyone feels like going back there and sleeping behind a rock.


Inline image 1

So I must have been obscenely tired because I woke everyone up in the middle of the night snoring. Yep.  Thieny was like omg and I was horrified with myself.  lol.

The next morning we woke up and kept driving, and ended up stopping to eat breakfast in a small town called Richfield, Utah.

It was the 4th of July and we ended up getting a pretty nice view of the 4th of July Parade for the town in a little cafe!

Finally we make it to Zion.  Took some photos driving, and then did a short hike to Emerald Falls.

When we get to Emerald Falls, Jason scares everyone there by making it look like he's going to jump off this giant rock into a pool that's like, 3 feet deep.  After some gesturing and what looks like he's grabbing his crotch (bad moment when I took the photo), he doesn't and we carry on and hike back down.

Jason's friends are pilots and hang gliders, so we then ended up on some other BLM land where they were marking a landing spot for a while, but it was getting dark fast so after some um, urging by Thieny, we headed over to our campsite.  It was pretty dark so I have few pictures, but it was an obscenely hot night.  Something like 100 degrees in the middle of the night and the tent was stifling.  Apparently I only snore when I am extremely tired and don't have a pillow, so after rolling up my sleeping bag and using that, I am pleased to report that I didn't make a peep the next or following nights. Whew.  I was worried that was going to be a thing.

 Next day we have breakfast and take a hike to Angel's Landing. This is a BEAUTIFUL hike and really really high up.  It takes about 6 hours up and down.

From what I've read, at least 5-6 people have died on this hike.
  It is very high up, I think about 450m, and some portions of it are very narrow with only a chain for you to hold on to. 

And yes I hate heights, and yes, I was pretty scared once I finished taking this photo.

But the scenery was GORGEOUS and even though it as like 110 degrees F and I huffed and puffed with my intolerance for thin air, everyone was super supportive and we all made it up there!

 Go us!

After heading down, we prepared to camp for the night.  I want to interject here by saying that we were camping this weekend, which means that for this trip... NO SHOWERS.  Now, I don't really care about this.  I've camped through 5 countries in Africa for 30 days.  But in 110 degree heat in a desert, it's pretty dusty.  This is when we discovered that you can RENT a shower (genius) and they charge you... $5 for 7 minutes! Wow!  Of course we were cheap.  Which means that one or more of us may have like, shared a shower for $5 and timed ourselves at 3.5 minutes each.  I would take a picture of this but honestly you don't need to see a shower.  Just wanted to inform you though.

Now, somewhere between camping and hiking (I can't remember which day) we drove into Zion and found out that some campsites in the park opened up, which is way preferable to the site we were currently using.  We decided to snatch up a spot and move.  However, Jason and his friends were going to go hang gliding, and there was only Laura and me... and we were nice enough  to volunteer to move ALL our camping shite, like, 4 tents, coolers, everything.. from one campsite to another.

This sounds good until you realize just HOW MUCH STUFF PEOPLE BRING WHEN CAMPING.  Good god. I know you need a lot of it, but on the other hand... geez.  It was also like 110 F so... I wasn't really in the mood to be neat.

Jason and Blake packed their XTerras really well when we left Denver. It was like a puzzle piece.


  Then I packed it to move our stuff. 

 I am not an organized person. And this is what happened!

Laura and I barely fit everything into the car, it was hilarious : ) Then we all met up again and went out for some well deserved margaritas : )

Next day, we get up in our new campsite and head over to The Narrows, listed as one of Lonely Planet's top treks.

The Narrows is what is called a slot canyon.  There is water running through it and it looks like cliffs on both sides.  There is a danger of flash floods if it rains.  Luckily there was no rain this day and the water was pretty refreshing considering the heat.

It started off as a bit of a circus and a lot of people, but after a few hours of trekking... it got nicer. And then we hit a sort of dead end....

There was some climbing of logs involved, and then a mini waterfall which I took one look at and knew I wouldn't be able to climb up there. 

 No upper arm strength.  I hope the Crossfit I'm taking now makes up for this in the future.

But some of us made it up there! And I had to include this picture:

And a few others : )

Back to the hangliding. After all that moving and us cramming camping gear into one car, it turns out the group wasn't able to go that day, so they tried again this next day. Laura and I had some time to kill, so we first tried to find massages (all booked up) and then ended up at this weird frontier town tourist trap with a petting zoo.

We bought some carrots and then the alpacas were my best friend.

Then effed around in the store for a while. 

This store was so kitschy it had cassette tapes in it! I would have loved this place as a kid!

 After this, we went to sleep, got up and drove back to Denver, where
1) Jason decides to give me a creepy hug (he is also wearing Thieny's new pink hiking shorts) - he KNOWS I hate hugging people!

and 2) I stayed the night in Denver and then flew to LA (getting stuck in the Denver airport from the repercussions of the Korean Air flight crash in SFO, so it took me the whole effing day).

All in all, AWESOME trip. Got to hang out with Thieny and Jason,   I totally recommend going to Zion for the beautiful scenery. If camping isn't your thing there are plenty of accommodations right outside the park for you to enjoy, something for everyone.

Next post... Nicaragua!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Twitter, Zion and some travel tips

Hello! I have been wayyyy too busy for my own good. But there will soon be
  • Stories on camping in Zion National Park, Utah!
  • Future travel to Nicaragua and Panama
In the meantime, I am going on a limb and trying not to be an old lady so I finally signed up for Twitter.  Follow me @christinajy : )

A friend sent this to me.  Do you think I should apply?  I would get to travel around the world and blog about it : )

In the meantime, a new travel tip I will give you is:
If you are stuck with an expensive flight and there is a layover (or there is a cheap flight and a ridiculously long layover all day), look at where the layovers are (usually a large city like LA, Mexico City, Panama City, London, NY, etc) and try this.  Try booking a multicity itinerary with destination to the layover city one day, and leave in the morning the second day.  Sometimes you will find a cheaper flight or at least find an itinerary where you don't have to waste a whole day sitting in the airport.

In my case, I was having trouble getting a flight back from Nicaragua for Labor Day, so I booked Monday evening Managua - Panama City, will arrive around 5pm, stay the night and then leave Panama City to LA Monday morning around 8.  I haven't been to Panama yet so at least I'll get to check out the canal, have a decent dinner and sleep and take a few photos!

New post to come soon!


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

More Hawaii! And diving!

Hello everyone!

So the week of 4th of July was split into two part
  • Part A shall be named Andy gets PADI Certified in Hawaii
  • Part B is named This is 'Merica, for our road trip and camping to Zion National Park, Utah.
Last year, I gave my brother a certificate for him to get PADI certified.  He's been into marine biology ever since we were kids, and I just knew it was going to be great for him.  I've taken him diving before in Cancun, and I know that he's good in the water.  EXCEPT.. he's goth. He's a goth artist. That doesn't see the sun. I figured he'd shrivel up and die in Hawaii, but I was determined he get certified with Gabe's company Kaimaina Divers, just like I go all the time.

So after some wheedling I convinced him to spend 5 days in Hawaii with me if he does the PADI E-learning.  For the record, I do NOT recommend E-learning, just WAY too confusing and really if you're going to be breathing underwater, work thru the process with a person.  Also it's more expensive. Whatever.  I am excited. I book a hotel at a Joie de Vivre boutique ( if you aren't familiar with this chain and you live in California, check it out, very cute and affordable places ).

If you haven't seen my brother's blog yet, check out his character... Stitchmind's CockBlock! Magical cockblocky goodness.  We had some entertaining photo shoots with Cockblock in Hawaii!

Then... my MOM dropped in! (As a disclaimer I am a consultant and my mom works for an airline, so dropping in on someone in Hawaii is totally normal in our family.) And on top of it was ambiguous about what day she was arriving. Which derailed a few things, mostly my hotel and dinner plans, but it was ok. It was now my job to kiss up to the Hyatt manager so we could all stay in the Hyatt in Waikiki.

So a couple of nice emails later, I show up in Waikiki and stay the first night in the Waikiki Beachside hostel.  See my previous posts on Hawaii.  I pop up at the Hyatt a bit disheveled, armed with a box of half melted macarons from Bottega Louie.  Please don't try this normally, I also stay anywhere between 50-200 nights/year in Hyatts, so I can get away with a lot.  If this is any indication, the manager asked me if I was around on Monday, because they had a newspaper coming in to interview their VIP members and do a photo thing. So I stay at Hyatts a lot.

It worked though because we got... a Penthouse suite! Perfect because whenever I get a suite, I'm by myself and no one is there to enjoy it with me.  Now my brother AND my mom get to enjoy it! And my cousin! So I call my cousin Jeremy up.
Nice view, huh?  hehe.

I arrived on a Friday, so I work Friday until 3 pm (6 pm PST), then go find Jeremy, pick up my fam, and also find my employee badge which I lost on the airplane. I miraculously got it back. My brother says I am a lucky jerk. I am.

Saturday and Sunday we are out diving, well Andy was.  I'm not sure what happened to those days. Its like they disappeared into a black hole.  I do remember eating poke since I have this picture.

Notable though was a shave ice place I went to with my mom.  It was called Snow Factory and the stuff looked like a cloud!

Also Andy bought a ukelele for a gift. lol. This is a picture of Andy prowling the ukelele shop.

Monday is the final day! Gabe has arranged for Lindsay, Andy's instructor, to take us out diving in the North Shore.  Awesome dives!  (I know I look horrible in this picture but whatever, I thought his expression was hilarious).

 After, my mom met us in Haleiwa, I had to do some more work in a coffee shop (Monday) and I took them to Waimea Valley where there is this waterfall. It was a bit hot but lovely botanical gardens. and you can swim in the waterfall but for safety you have to wear these hideous life jackets. I declined. 

This is a photo of... THE TREE OF SADNESS!!!!! and my brother next to it. and the Cockblock. lol.

 We did however get the Cockblock around some actual cocks. 

Next we went to eat shave ice at Matsumoto's.  HUGE line as usual, whatever.  My brother convinced me to get the big one because it looked like a football and if we were going to wait in line, well dammit we're ordering the largest thing on the menu.

After I drove us to a shrimp truck and we ate a bunch of garlicky spicy shrimp. mmmmmm.



Then finally, we went to Leonard's and got a bunch of malasadas.

Tuesday, I was working from 5 am to 3 pm, so was pretty pooped by the end, so I had a pina colada by the pool while my fam was out shopping.

And then... I took us all to this place to eat saimin and we took the redeyes out Tuesday night.  Them to SF, and me to Denver via Seattle.

I have to thank Lindsay at Kaimaina Divers for certifying Andy, I'm really really happy he got his cert because we can go diving together! 

I had a good time on this trip.  I'll be back! Of course!