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The REAL Bridge to Nowhere is not in Alaska!

As it turns out, some days I am able to pull off this morning person thing, especially if I have partners in crime.  Leaving the house at 4:45 a.m. to be at the trailhead by 6:00, 8 of us (including 5 and 7 year old kids plus one labrador retriever) embarked on a 10 mile hike to the Bridge to Nowhere.  This being August, it was a good idea to leave at that time.  It was already in the high 70’s by 6 a.m., so you know where it goes from there! Our only salvation from the heat was knowing we would be crossing the San Gabriel river at least 8 times each way (maybe more, it was just too much trouble to count.)  At the first crossing, we attempted to keep our feet dry:

By 11:00, on our way back, our river crossings looked more like this:

And this:

And this:

In between, we were treated to a really great hiking experience.  It was long, that’s for sure, but the elevation gain was minimal and so was the cardio factor.  Still, my HR monitor managed to show 2,245 calories burned – even though it took almost 7 hours to do it! One foot in front of the other, that’s all it takes.  At least I get credit for working out that day.  Well, in TamiLand, I do 🙂

Along the way, the typical ruggedness of trails in Azusa Canyon treated us to all kinds of visual specialties.  Yes, it was hot and dry – and the occasional cigarette butt on the trail left by the occasional idiot made my blood boil.  Hellooooo?  Can you say fire season?  (yes, that is a real season here in SoCal).

The trail got dicey just a couple of times:

Apparently, there’s gold in them thar hills! We saw more than a few prospectors with pans and sluice boxes:

We startled a big horn sheep and it hurried down a hill, across the trail, into a ravine and up the other side in seconds (sorry for the rear view, but it was scurrying up the hill far away from me by the time I saw it.)

Finally, our destination ~ The Bridge to Nowhere ~

Sorry, Sarah Palin, this Bridge to Nowhere was before your time!

Aptly named, this beautiful span of concrete built in 1936 ends at the side of the mountain, and goes nowhere:

According to Wikipedia, the story goes that the bridge was built in anticipation of a road through the mountains that would connect Azusa to Wrightwood.  The bridge was completed in 1936, but in March of 1938 what had been constructed of the road was washed out in “the great flood,” and the project was abandoned.  With no cars ever driven across its span, the concrete looks new.  It’s a bit spooky to see a bridge some 70+ years old that looks like they finished it last year.  On weekends Bungee America provides the only professionally run bungee jumping operation in California from the bridge.  Although I’d like to go back & witness the fun, you won’t see me taking a flying leap off the Bridge to Nowhere anytime soon.  My midlife crisis just isn’t that spectacular.

PB & Banana – yum!

Just as we arrived and sat down to eat our lunches, the sun peeked over the mountain and warmed things up pretty quickly.  The blue-green pools below us looked so inviting, but we were hard-pressed to make it back to the cars by noon so some of us could go to work, drive to San Diego, etc.

Yeah, it’s BRIGHT!
Of course, the kids had no problem with 10 miles…

This being August and all, the hike out was a bit warm, and the shade we had enjoyed on the way in was like the bridge – NOwhere!  I managed to score a killer headache from the heat — but in spite of that, I would do this hike again…. any takers?

PS: anyone interested in more info, here’s a great review of the hike by a REAL hiker:   Modern Hiker/Bridge to Nowhere

The Joy of Olio

FreeGreatPicture.com-7353-olive-oilSuddenly, it matters where my olive oil comes from.  Really!  It matters from whence my olive oil cometh.  What’s up with that?

So, I’m out of olive oil.  Rather than pay $10 for a couple tablespoons of it at the market, I add it to my Sam’s Club list and head out the door.  Now, you’ve gotta understand that I’ve never given another thought to the origins of my EVOO (with apologies to Rachael Ray) prior to visiting Italy, where I paid 26 Euros for a ghastly small bottle which makes everything it touches taste like heaven! (When IS that little bottle going to get here?)  In fact, I didn’t know it existed until I took on a glorious Italian surname by marriage.  No kidding!  Good ol’ vegetable oil was all I’d ever seen in the kitchen before that.

Like I said, I’d never given a thought to olive oil origins – I naturally assumed it was from Italy, of course.  Then, on the “oil aisle” of Sam’s Club I noticed a sign that said “California Olive Oil” – gasp – whaaaaaaat? There are olive trees in California?  My righteous indignation surprised me and I supposed this is how the Italians and French reacted when they learned that California grew grapes, and not just for eating – if you know what I mean.

I was willing to pay $14 for a 2 liter bottle of Bertolli Olive Oil (which must be Italian – I mean, Bertolli?) instead of the same price for 3 liters of the Sam’s Club Member’s Mark brand because the store brand label said, “INGREDIENTS:  HIGH QUALITY EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL FROM SPAIN, ITALY, GREECE AND TUNISIA.”  Are you kidding me?  Now I’m confused.  (Even more so after looking on a map to see where in the heck is Tunisia, anyway?)  How could they cold press fresh olives from the trees of four different countries and bottle it before it goes bad?  Perhaps each bottle holds the oil from a tree in XX country and you never know what you are getting?  I suppose you could just live in TamiLand and assume your particular bottle of oil came from a tree in Italy…

Just for chuckles I looked at the Bertolli bottle, which read,”INGREDIENTS: HIGH QUALITY EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL FROM SPAIN, ITALY, GREECE AND TUNISIA.”

Guess I’ll go for more bang for my buck and get the 3 liter bottle.  Sigh.

Tami

P.S. It has come to my attention that Costco has real Italian olive oil.… go figure…

Italy recap (sort of…)

Roma. Colosseum. Ancient ruins. St. Peter’s Basilica. Vatican Museum. Walking. Walking. GELATO. Metro rides. Sistene Chapel. Piazzas. Eating. Sleeping. GELATO. Walking. Traffic. Train. Italians arguing. Firenze. Duomo. More Walking. Train to Pisa. Climb the Leaning Tower. Eat. Walking. Bus ride to Lucca.  Rent beat-up bikes. Ride around the Lucca medieval wall. Walking. Train to Florence. Train to Cinque Terre. Very long day. Italian Riviera. Hiking. Walking. Feet in the Mediterranean Sea. GELATO. Long ride home. Climb the stairs to apt. Very tired. Sleeping in. Driver takes us to Tuscan countryside.  Wine tasting. Nonna’s lasagne – amazing! Must. Have. Recipe! Villas. Castles. Wealthy Italians. Fiat mini van. Come home to Florence. GELATO.  Hike up the stairs. Packing. Off to Venice.  Vaparetto shuttle boat.  Magical scenery.  Beautiful.  GELATO. I’m so tired – that’s it for now!  Will post a couple photos next time….

Travelogue 101 and the quirky British keyboard…

well, the first two legs of our journey are complete, and i find myself sitting in london Heathrow airport – in the British Airways lounge to be exact, and I think this may be the only time i have a few moments to write for awhile…. when we get to Rome, we hit the ground running, so to speak — as we have only given ourselves a day and half to see the necessary objects before moving on to a little slower pace and five nights in florence.
I just have one question:  Why is the & | key where the shift key is supposed to be on a |British keyboard?  Along with the necessary £ and € keys, in addition to the $ key — (how very international of them!) it looks like my keyboard at home, and yet |I seem to be typing just one key removed for some words. For illustration purposes, |I’m going to forgo my usual need for typing perfection just this once, as I am sleep-deprived and it’s just too much work, for one thing… for another thing – I think it’s funny.

Now, on to the journey so far:  three trips through security (fyi, in Canada and |Europe you do not have to remove your shoes but you do have to give up the unopened xl bottle of Evian you lifted from the lounge in YVR), and two flights — waiting for our flight to Rome at the moment, which will leave at 18:30 (and yes, I’ve changed my watch to a 24 hour time clock, let’s just keep things simple on this trip okay|?)##
(apparently the return key also has a difference of location…)#

We will get a sampling of 4 different airlines by the time we get home, so |I think I may be a good candidate to provide a comparative analysis of |Business/first class service on each by the end of the month, if anybody cares.  I must say, the sleeper seat in Club World business class on the 9 hour British |AIrways flight from Vancouver was a welcome treat.  I got a whole 4 hours of sleep — which is a new record for me on an overnight flight.  |Of course, we had a light breakfast before landing and now we are expected to eat lunch in the lounge as it’s 15:36 already!  Jet lag – it’s a beautiful thing…#

Many thanks go out to L.O., who arranged these flights for us as a thank you for Jim’s stellar construction work over the past few years on her behalf. Her arrangements have allowed us to not only fly in style, but relax in comfort in the British Airways Club World lounges in Vancouver and London….

Here in London, it appears British Airways OWNS Heathrow — or at least terminal 5.  this is their hub/headquarters and the lounge is cavernous.  The fam is on the other side of the lounge, and they are lounging, of course.  N is stretched out and asleep on a couch, C is undoubtedly checking his Facebook page, and J is reading the Daily Mail or some London newspaper.  I’m sitting at one of about 30 (!!) computer monitors in the taking care of  business section of the facility, with CNN and BBC News on flat screens overhead. Nice.

Think I’ll go for a walk downstairs in a minute and check out Harrod’s.

Italian in Training

It’s not like this Swedish-American-Heinz57 girl hasn’t been in training since marrying The Italian in 1983… but I feel like I’m embarking on the ultimate training exercise:  a real-life trip to Italy!!

I really will try to post some updates while we’re gone, but seriously, if I can’t keep up with my gigantor 27 inch monitor at home, do you think my little Droidy-droid screen is going to suffice in typing all the crazy random information that will be going through my brain while in Italy?  Still, we’ll see….

So much planning, preparing, research, etc. etc has been done over the past few weeks – I just hope I can really pull it off and make my family think I’m worthy of an Italian name… no, really!  One of my great hopes is that we will magically run into someone with one of our family heritage names in the little towns of Pisa or Lucca (where we think they are from) and be able to find a distant relative (hopefully one who runs a fabulous restaurant), and bring home some news about the cousins that look just like the hubby and in-laws… heh, heh!

Or, we could just have a great time, see some amazing scenery, eat some delicious food and call it a day.
That would make me happy, too…..

Preparing for a Ski Trip

I would love to take credit for writing this, but it was in our local paper, the Pasadena Star News, a couple of weeks ago under the heading “Slice of Wry.”

Preparing for a Ski Trip:

  • Stretch a small, but wide, rubber band around the top half of your head before you go to bed.
  • If you wear glasses, begin wearing them with glue smeared on the lenses.
  • Place a small, but angular, pebble in your shoes.  Line them with crushed ice and tighten a c-clamp around your toes.
  • Find the nearest ice rink and walk across the ice 20 times in your ski boots, carrying two pairs of skis, accessory bag and poles.  Sporadically drop things.
  • Secure one of your ankles to a bed post and ask a friend to run into you at a high speed.
  • Slam your thumb in a car door.  Don’t go see a doctor.
  • Clip a lift ticket to the zipper of your jacket and ride a motorcycle fast enough to make the ticket lacerate your face.
  • Fill a blender with ice, leave the lid off, put your face over the opening and hit the pulse button and let the spray blast your face.  Leave the ice on your face until it melts.
  • Put on as many clothes as you can and then proceed to take them off because you have to go to the bathroom.  Repeat often.
  • Drive slowly for five hours – anywhere – as long as it’s in a snowstorm and you’re following an 18-wheeler.
  • Go to a fast-food establishment and “insist” on paying $8.50 for a hamburger.  Be sure you are in the longest line!
  • Buy a new pair of gloves.  Immediately throw one away.
  • Throw away a hundred dollar bill.

Repeat all of the above daily until it’s time for the real thing!