Thursday, December 20, 2012

California - Day 2

Sunday
We went to breakfast then back to hotel for Joe to do some work before meetings Monday. I was feeling bad (exhausted from day before!) so Emilio planned out the afternoon's activities. Since it's almost dark when we head towards L.A., he's chosen haunted places to visit, 'off the grid' kind of places. 
First was Haunted Forest. in Altadena, Ca (Pasadena). Hiking trails through the property of the old Cobb Estate. The Estate is long gone, just the foundation and steps remain in the thick woods. It was a long hike up hill into the pitch black mountain forest. It was overcast so no moon or stars to light our way, and flashlights were nearly useless because of the thick fog, visibility only 4-5 feet. 
We passed the estate's foundation and stairs, rounded an old rock retaining wall and too a path deeper into the forest. At that altitude the fog was getting pretty thick and I was getting pretty freaked out, felt like being watched *shiver* 

Emilio was disappointed but we turned around to head back to the car. As we rounded the old rock wall, my light landed on a figure standing against it. I almost died on the spot! As each of our lights flashed over the fella, we realized it was a homeless man, ragged clothes and face of unkept hair.... at least we HOPE it was a for real man!!! He never moved. Just stood there. Creepy as hell. 

I couldn't get off the mountain fast enough!! If he was real person, I was afraid of being mugged... If not real living person, I just wanted the hell AWAY! LOL

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Next stop was Suicide Bridge in Pasadena. It's a beautiful old bridge built in 1912. It's estimated that almost 100 ppl committed suicide from this bridge from 1919 - 1939, giving way to many ghost that are said to haunt the area. 
In 1937 a lady threw her baby over the bridge into the ravine 150ft below then jumped to her own death. The baby girl however was caught on tree limbs and survived the fall. It is said the mom still wanders under the bridge looking for her baby.

We didn't see or hear anything, but Joe was fascinated with the bridge architecture. 






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Our last adventure of the night was Gravity Hill in Altadena, CA (Pasadena area). It is said that if you park your car facing down hill and put it in neutral, your car will roll backwards up the hill on it's own. 




We did this several times and our car DID roll up hill every time, sometimes faster than others. It was dark and hard to focus on a landmark to show the car's movement so Emilio got out to video from the road.
It was dark and foggy and he was using my cell phone to take the video so quality sucks, but you can still see the car "rolling" up hill.
While outside videoing, Emilio heard something off to the side and you see the camera pan around. Nothing was there so dismissed as a critter. We'd forgotten to turn off the headlights so he videoed it again hoping for clearer picture.This time after less than a minute of video, there is movement near him and he bolts to the car. Of course Joe and I give him a hard time until we watch the videos later that night... 


The first video (where the camera pans around at noise) there is a voice heard at 1:03 and on the second video the same voice is heard at :23.  


Once back at the hotel, Emilio used a program on his laptop to pull the audio from the videos to get a better listen to what was there. 


If we thought having our car mysteriously move UP HILL on it's own was creepy, what we heard on the video was quite unsettling


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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

California - Day 1

Joe has work related business in Newport Beach, CA so we decided to make a vacation of it. With the company paying a third of our expenses we had Emilio join us on the adventure.

We flew out of Austin early Saturday morning, had a lay over in Dallas then flew into Orange County Airport  around noon. Emilio and I took many pictures of the snow topped mountains as we passed over, then as the plane circled for landing, we took many pictures of the coast and cliffs and even saw a whale.

 

After landing we went to get the Mustang convertible I'd reserved weeks ago only to be greatly disappointed that the Mustang could only be rented with a major credit card (we do not do credit so have NONE). Since all we have are Visa debit cards we had to settle for a mid size SUV that they gave us for the same reservation price. :)


We get to our hotel, AYRES HOTEL AND SUITES COSTA MESAand LOVE our room. It's so unique and beautiful. 

 


We do a quick unpack, grab what we need and head out the door for our first adventure... HOLLYWOOD BLVD. On the way to Los Angeles/Hollywood we stopped for a quick lunch at In & Out Burger. Yum :)


We took TONS of pictures on Hollywood Blvd so instead of re posting them all on this blog, here's the link to the Photobucked album. :)   

The flight, car, hotel, burgers and Hollywood completed day ONE in California. 



Gravity Hill - Altadena, CA

AltadenaCA (Pasadena area)
Gravity Hill

   Park car on hill, put car in neutral, car will not roll forward down the hill and after a few minutes it will actually begin moving backwards UP the hill by its self. 


We did this several times and would move every time, sometimes faster than others. It was dark and hard to focus on landmark to show the car's movement so Emilio got out to video.

It was dark and foggy and he was using my cell phone to video so quality sucks, but you can still see the car 'rolling' up the hill. 


While outside videoing, Emilio heard/felt something off to the side and you see the camera pan around. Nothing there so dismissed as a critter or something. We realize the video is poor because of the bright headlights so he goes out to try and get a better shot.This time after less than a minute of video, there is movement near him and he bolts to the car. Of course Joe and I give him a hard time until we watch the videos later that night... 


The first one (where the camera pans around) there is a voice heard at 1:03 and on the second video the same voice heard again at :23. 





Once back at the hotel, Emilio used a program on his laptop to pull the audio from the videos to get a better look/listen to what was there. 



video


If we thought having our car mysteriously move UP HILL on it's own was creepy, what we heard on the video was quite unsettling. 



Monday, April 30, 2012

Company Party - Las Colinas

WOW, such a magical weekend! We had an amazing time at the company function in Dallas... and all at their expense! 

We drove up to Dallas Thursday night and checked into our beautiful room at the Omni in Las Calinas.



Friday Joe was in the conference so I slept in then just drove around Las Colinas. I found a store and picked up a few things for the room - snacks, drinks, etc
This is me cruising around town, LOL...

When Joe got back to the room around 5 we changed and went down for dinner at a restaurant nearby. The company provided a yummy Tex-Mex buffet. We sat outside near the canal eating, drinking and visiting with Joe's co-workers. It was a lot of fun meeting some of the people he spends his days with. One young fella was well into his drinks and had us rolling with his stories.


After dinner Joe and I took a stroll alone the canal, enjoying the light breeze and beautiful scenery. We found a quiet bench and sit a while just chatting and enjoying each other. Very romantic evening. <3
Part of the canal path in daylight.
Saturday, Joe only had half a day of conference so we spent the afternoon SHOPPING! hehe. Had a lot of fun... lunch at Outback Steakhouse then on to the store hopping. He found several nice shirts, I bought some jewelry and odds & ends, and then Joe bought me this awesome rattie ring!

We lost track of time and had to rush back to the Omni to get fancied up for the evenings formal banquet and party. I wore a long black gown with crystal accents and Joe wore one of his new shirts and slacks. We looked really nice all spiffed up and totally forgot to take a pic! grrrr. 

The dining room for the banquet it is amazingly beautiful - chandeliers, ornate decorations,  tables set with white linens and crystal and silver. It was all fabulously posh. And the food was amazing!
OH and I forgot to mention that the theme of the banquet/party was 1920's Speak Easy and everyone was encouraged to dress up in period clothes. Joe and I didn't dress for the times but really enjoyed others' wonderful costumes. After the formal dinner, we all went downstairs to another room that was set up as the Speak Easy, all decked out with casino games... there were several Blackjack tables, roulette, craps, Texas Hold'em and two open bars.
We were each given $5000 in chips for the night, I lost about $2000 pretty quick at the roulette table, definitely NOT my game. Then we found a blackjack table right next to the bar, how perfect is that?! Joe and I spent the remainder of the night there and did okay I think, well, didn't lose much more so that was good, right? And the close proximity of the bar was awesome. I had two cocktails of the period, both were not so awesome. I decided to go with my favorite drink, margarita, and my bartender made really good 'ritas. I had a few while playing blackjack, 5 or 6, I lost count, but they were so good. Joe just had a couple of 'ritas.

Of course again I forgot to take pictures of the Speak Easy room but there was a picture booth there for people to get their photos taken. Our first visit to the booth was for a serious picture,
but by our second visit we'd gotten into the party mood of the evening and hit the prop table pretty hard. 
I so love my silly redheaded, nearsighted viking clown!!! And to make it even sweeter, LOL, the pictures were put up on a screen for all to see... AND later put up on the company website of the party!  O_O

After the amazing party, we went to walk on the canal again but the fresh air was not such a good idea after so many cocktails so we returned to our beautiful room for the night.

Sunday we checked out of the hotel and went sight seeing around Dallas! That story is told in the next blog post. :)

It truly was a magical weekend of living over the top, luxury from top to bottom... the hotel, the room, the food, the banquet, the costumes, the casino... and best part is, it was all free for us.

~Sonja

Monday, April 23, 2012

Happy 4th Birthday Princess MIsha


We had an amazing weekend. We celebrate our beautiful granddaughter's 4th birthday with a Princess in the Park Party in my and Joe's home town, surrounded by family and friends. It was so wonderful to see everyone together laughing and loving, I love our families!

The grandkids had a blast with their cousins running around causing mischief at the park.

It's hard to 
believe our princess is getting so big. Where do the years go? 
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Afterwards it was wonderful to spend the evening with my dear friend from school and her husband. She and I have been besties since 3rd grade, so roughly 35years!!! And as is apt to happen in life, over the years we would go our own paths and lose touch here and there, but all it took was a phone call or email and we were right back in high school. And Saturday night was no different. Loved our time together reminiscing and laughing. So many memories and unfortunately we remember them all! ROFL.
I can't wait to spend more time together, truly a treasure of a friendship. 
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as a side note, I just realized that I'm right in the middle of our family's living generations...
my grandmother, my mom, ME, my son, my granddaughter.. We truly are a very blessed family to be surrounded by so much love.

~Sonja

Friday, April 20, 2012

Birds Visiting Our Feeders

We love sitting on the back porch, watching the many different birds that visit our backyard for a snack. We have three seed feeders and a suet cage.
This week I decided to take pictures of the birds and try to identify who our visitors are. :)


Male House Sparrow
Female House Sparrow
Black Capped Chickadee
Mockingbird

Mourning Dove
Cardinal
Female Cardinal
Male House Finch
"NO really... I'm a bird, this seed is all mine" 
Blue Jay
Blue Jay
umm... chirp chirp :)
little nest in a low branch by the back fence <3

Eurasian Collared Dove

Eurasian Collared Dove
This beauty only shows up once or twice a week.

More pictures will be added as I'm able to get them :)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Potato Pot

I was in the store yesterday and saw this new product called the Multi Harvest Tater Pot. It's a double planting pot with the inner one having 4 'windows' cut out of it's sides. The idea is when nestled, fill the pot with planting medium (provided), add seed potatoes (also provided) and as the plants grow you can simply lift out the inner pot and harvest your potatoes through the 'windows'. It says that the plant will continue to produce potatoes for you to come back and harvest over and over 


I find this fascinating! I wanted to plant potatoes in our garden but we have a very limited area, if this can really work I'm all in, LOL.  

So after looking it over in the store I came home and searched the web for more information or testimonials. I found nothing other than other folks posting questions about it and the patent application dated Oct 2011. So this product really is super new to the market. 
I returned to the store today and bought one to try out. It was only 12.99 which included the double pot, two bags of planting medium and 3 seed potatoes (white, red, gold). Not terribly expensive but if it works and I decided I want multiple pots it can add up so... 
While in the store, I looked it over and decided that maybe I could make a few of these myself for less. I purchased 2 - 8in plastic pots for 2.30 each. (note the original kit has 10in pots)  I'm thinking our little Dremel will make short work of cutting windows and such. A bag of potting soil is about $3 and a bag of seed potatoes was around $5... so at these prices, I'm back up to the $12-13 price range that the kit cost. I didn't buy the soil or potatoes because I already have a bag of soil and some aging potatoes already sprouting in my pantry :) 


My plan is to plant both sets at the same time and see how they compare with growth, ease of harvest and longevity of the plants.