Tuesday, January 08, 2008

New Year's and other such things...

So it's been a bit quiet on the blog front recently. This is because we've been rather busy! And, I've spent the last week and a half with something that's a severe cold, but won't go away!

Brendan and Tina waiting for Midnight Mass to start

Christmas was fantastic - Brendan and I went to Midnight Mass in Grace Cathedral... aaaaahhhh. So lovely. Absolutely amazing and beautiful, and even nicer than I thought it would be. We had to get there around 9.30 just to get a seat! The men and boys choir sang, and the orchestra played, and Brendan mentioned that at times with the acoustics, it sounded like a soundtrack for a movie! I absolutely enjoyed it. And even Brendan did.

The day before Christmas, we also talked to our families as it's Christmas the day before in NZ. I missed mine a lot that day. For once almost all of them were in 1 place, which almost never happens!

Slightly blurry photo of the cathedral at Christmas which I took earlier in the day of Christmas Eve

On Christmas Day we had a picnic in the park, in the sunshine, and ate the most yummy things we could think of to buy, like cherries and Camembere (sp?) cheese which is Brendan's favourite in all the world, and fed whole crackers to the pigeons just to see what would happen. (They couldn't break them, and had to wait expectantly for someone to step on it.) Only thing is that I took the camera, and forgot the memory card.

After, we went to see a friend for a few hours. We also spent quite a few hours in bed reading the fantastic-ly useful presents from Brendan's dad... thanks for that. A lot. We likes. And then the other day, we also got another parcel in the mail... from Brendan's mum! It contained a bubble-blower among other things, with which Brendan gleefully set about pouring wet bubbles all over me....

The weekend before New Year's, we went down to Pinnacles National Monument. Arounf 45 minutes south of Hollister or 2 hours south of San Francisco. It has extremely weird rock formations as it's an old volcano, and is now moving at a rate of around 2cm a year! The rocks are either pastel pink or pastel green, very odd. It also has cave systems made when water moving through some rocks made others fall on top of them - unfortunately half the caves were closed as it was rare bat maternity season. Some of the caves had smooth polished jasper rocks where thousands of people had brushed past them... so pretty. I immediately thought of my sister Fia, who would have loved them.

(Warning: What Lina calls Pic Spam ahead! I.e., many photos!)

Look! It's a coyote! It wants our food....

This one looks better in close-up. Click on it! Now now now!

The first day we came, it was cloudy, foggy and threatened to rain. The whole park was a mass of white fog and water droplets, and we could barely see anything until around 2 o'clock when the mist lifted for a bit and then just as quickly, closed up again. We were unimpressed until we realised that almost no tourists probably see this, and that it was reasonably pleasant with no heat. So we took lots of photos of raindrops....

We had marshmellows over a campfire in the camping grounds all alone by ourselves, and spend a long and uncomfortable night (for me!) in the car. Note to self: the backseat is not the answer.... the stars were amazing, though.

The next morning was bright and sunny, and I watched Californian quail clucking round the campsite. We walked from one side of the national park to the other, and then back over the high peaks again - a total of around 16 km! It was really nice, and we saw endangered condors (related to turkey vultures, I think) flying around quite close! A rather steep walk in the sun, though - signs everywhere warn to take plenty of water on the exposed trails. In summer, I think the "strenuous" paths would really deserve that designation in the hot San Jose sun!

The entrance to Balcony caves

Part of the caves... the rock on each side was all smooth and polished to a deep magenta where people squeezed past

A huge rock at the exit from Balcony caves!

Balcony cliffs! Look for the people at the bottom

The stunning view from the carpark on the other side of the park - we walked right across!

This photo is for Fia. It is called "The Sphinx".

Compare this view near the top to the day before:

Brendan had to "be available" for work the next day, unfortunately, so we couldn't really stay much longer.

On New Year's Eve we had a small party with our friends from San Jose, who made the trek up and stayed the night. It was really fun, I'm glad they came. At midnight we climbed up onto the roof via the fire escape to do the countdown and watch the fireworks... which were obscured by some tall buildings downtown. It was freezing! Then the neighbour who lives below us came up onto the roof and was very drunk, it was quite hilarious as no-one else was really drinking.

view from our roof!

Funny story from the other day: the neighbour who lives next door to us is somewhat of a saga, as she's 55 and acts as if she's 90, never leaves the house, and is not the brightest of people unfortunately. Her communication to us is mostly in strangely-written letters shoved under the door whenever we complain about such things as 4am shouting matches or rubbish piled outside the door all week, every week. We think she's probably going senile from having lived in the same house 'for 40 years".. making her something like... 17 when she moved in!

So the other day, Brendan tells me the police are outside his door. Whatever for? Well, obvious to everyone else but Sara, if you ask someone to buy you something from a shop and then refuse to pay them because you don't have any money, you shouldn't be surprised if they get mad.

Instead, if you're Sara, you call 911 emergency because the man is standing outside your door, ringing your doorbell, and you've already decided you don't want to pay. The police officer was apparently infinitely patient with her (to the tune of an hour or so!), and when the guy turned up again, told them they would sort it out right there and then. I have a lot of respect for that guy.

Finally, in other news, I have a second new client at work now! The CEO is from NZ, and flies back and forth from Auck every few weeks! They're very nice. I'm pretty excited really. They do interesting search engine stuff. We're having dinner with them on Thursday night. Time to get out my suit!

Right, now I've finally uploaded all the pictures I should really go to the gym before it closes!

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