Saturday, March 1, 2014

The first adventure in the '71 Adventurewagen!

    The weather forecast for yesterday and this weekend said, "rain, rain and the biggest storm in history". It never rains in LA! We've had maybe two days of sprinkling all winter. This year it was so dry we had been told, more than ever, to conserve water.

    What do I decide to do?! Drive 6+ hours along the Sierra Nevadas to pickup a little present to myself. ... I think I deserved a present to myself. ;)

     I talked my mom into coming with me on this road trip since I would need some help.  Boy, did was I glad she came along!

We made it out of the LA traffic to Lancaster! Yay! So far it was looking really great!
     In Lancaster we picked up essential fix me parts just in case. These included chains for both cars, fuses, a voltmeter, batteries for the flashlight, filters etc.  Now that my errands were done it was nap time!  Haha! This would add the few hours I had had all night.     I woke up a couple hours later to roll over and discovered snow!  This would make the trip much more interesting!  It was 32 degrees fahrenheit and zero degrees celsius. We were already at a high elevation and still had hours to go and a summit to get over to reach our destination.  Everything was still looking good though.  We hadn't seen much rain.  At least, not that I'm aware of!  :p
Snow in the desert looks so weird!
    Shortly after this it started raining.  Then it started snowing.  Luckily the roads had already been plowed and we managed without putting the chains on.  The pass wasn't nearly as steep as it could have been.  It was still 7,142 ft elevation.    After the pass the snow let up.  We got to the other side, the rain stopped and the sun even came out.  Well, for a minute, at least!
Less than a mile from our destination!

Yay! Tonopah,  Nevada!

      There were various places in town with amazing names!  These include the Humbug Flats apartments/lodging,  Giggle Springs gas station, the senior thrift store and the Clown Motel.
This motel kind of looked like a circus!

   We made it to town and to their house!  It was time for a test drive!
My momma' drove it first, of course! This was her era and all.  ;)
    (That hole in the seat is where part of the kitchen goes. Most of the interior is original!  This makes me happy!)
      The bus started right up! Off we went around the block!  The roads were all dirt and the houses were stacked on the hill just like an old village.  Maybe that's because it used to be a silver mining town.  It was so cute!     After giving her a spin myself I went inside to do paperwork.  The clouds were getting darker, it was getting colder and had started to rain!  How the heck were we going to get this vintage beauty home in the SNOW?!  I wrapped up the paperwork as quickly as possible and we were off!     My mom and I were already freezing! The good news was I brought cold weather clothes for both of us.  The not so great news was that the bus didn't have a strong generator or any heat.  I decided to drive the bus and let my mom take her car.  I was excited and I didn't want her to freeze!!     While driving two short blocks to the gas station I thought to myself, "Self this is really dangerous.  You can not see a thing, the headlights don't work and... is that ice on the windshield?!" (I'm from Southern California.  I have never actually driven while it's snowing!)  I calmed myself down.  "It's all going to be fine.  We'll get gas and if you continue to feel unsafe we will figure out a solution."  Great thinking Nicole! You have such great ideas! ... I think.  Yeah, great ideas! That's it!  I kept myself positive.      We gassed up.  My mom told me to try to use the windshield wipers as little as possible to save the battery since the generator was questionable.  Yeah right! If I needed them, I sure was going to use them!
       Off I went in my new treasure!  I was still a bit unsure about driving it because I wasn't used to it. The daylight was limited.  My headlights still didn't work!  I was cruising along at 60-wait a minute! I was doing 80?! ... while trucks were passing me?!  My speedometer was wacky!  I figured out that 0 was about 35 and 80 was 45 mph.  This makes everything a little bit more fun!       I'm still cruising at a cool 45 mph and the sun is slowly starting to disappear.  My phone was dead which meant no calling my mom behind me to communicate.  Some how we figured out I was going to hug the outside line and she would stay to the left side, the inner side of the lane.  This way her headlights would shine in front of me too.  Genius!      Everything is gravy.  We got the bus, we have a system and we're cruising at 45 with license plates that don't mean anything! :D      I'm singing to my new bus because there is no radio having a jolly time when I see the Fourth of July light up... not in my rear view mirror, because it has fallen off!... not in my side view mirrors because they move with enough wind... but on the white of my headliner.  I thought for a second someone had surprised me with a disco ball and was along for the party!     We are in the middle of no where! We hadn't made it back to the summit yet.  I'm not sure why but my mom is out of her car already.   Doh! Mom! C'mon!! You gotta' follow the rules of staying out of trouble with cops!  She walks up to me and tells me the game plan.  Then I tell her the final game plan. ;) Then, she goes to the cop her final game plan.      She walks back towards the cop car. All I hear is the cop say, "Hang on a minute.  I'll be there in a minute."  Well, hey! He sounds nice!
     He gets out of his car and asks us what we're up to.  You know, just two ladies buying a VW bus six hours from home, taking it over a snowy pass with no headlights.  Haha!  No.  Well, kinda.  We said the headlights had just gone out and we were trying to find a safe place to pull over.  He smilingly took our IDs and told us what we were doing was unsafe. By now the sun was down.  His solution was to have my mom drive first, me follow her and him be in back in case we had an issue.  Since he had "lights". Haha!
    We made a U-turn on the two lane highway which had almost no one on it.  Just ahead there was a junction that had a large parking lot.  He said we could sleep there if we needed but if we moved the car without lights he would tow the car.  I guess that's a really nice way to say that ugly word "impound".  He'd impound the car.
    It was still beyond freezing!  My toes were dead-feeling.  I still had my California clothes on.  My mom pulled her car up in a way so the lights hit right under the dash.  She checked the fuses while I charged my phone and put on long johns, thicker socks, my koala hoodie which is ultra warm, the biggest scarf I know and my 8 quid leather gloves.    Two minutes later the headlights worked.  Fuses!  You tricky sons!  That was the best news I had heard all day!  Headlights meant not sleeping in the frozen van or trying to cuddle with my mom in the back of her little hatchback.
    We were off again! Four hours of frozen Nicole and anything but the radio later we had traveled what should have taken us two hours.  The truth is I felt like I was doing 90 and I couldn't see my wacky speedometer to see how fast I was actually going.  I didn't want to blow the engine on my new baby going over the summit.    As I'm pulling up to the first light into town the V-dub poops out.  This wasn't a big deal.  I just needed to turn it off and turn it back on again.  I couldn't get it into first! What the heck! Why not?! As I'm trying to start it I roll back.  For some reason my mom is two feet behind me.  Who knew?!!    I'm trying to get the van in first!! The thing just wants to keep rolling back!! There is a semi behind her honking!  She's right on my tail!  I'm going to hit her again! She won't back up!! I'm screaming inside the van, WELL BACK UP!! WHAT THE HECK!! YOU WANT ME TO GET OUT OF YOUR WAY THEN --- MOOOOOOVE!!! I know she can't hear me, really. I'm throwing my hands up thoroughly frustrated!  I hadn't hardly eaten all day!  I'm freezing!  I didn't get a full night's sleep!!     "Whoa, Nicole! Get a grip! What are you doing right now?", I say to myself.  "Okay, just calm down.  Being frustrated isn't going to help any of this. Wooooo-sssssuuuh."  I calm down.     Boom it goes into first and makes it up the little bitty hill I was trying to overcome!     I go through Bishop, cops scoping what i'm doing the whole way. I get the van into a lot just to talk to my mom for a second and figure out where we're going to eat.  She wants me to leave the van in the parking lot I pulled in to.  I insist on taking it with me.  We take it a few blocks and..... it just won't go into first.  It won't go into second.  Maybe I'm frustrated so it's me, not the car.  Okay momma' can you give her a shot?  She tries it. Nope.  Nothing!  Now we're blocking traffic on a small street of the main highway.  The cops pull up! (OH NO!).... to help us push it out of the way!
     We park it, grab a VERY handy book that my best friend bought me at a garage sale and go to.. breakfast? what time was it? dinner? ... eat.  We went to eat.  I thawed out my toes again, had some hot chocolate and some nourishment.  My mom said it's possible the clutch went out. We discussed our game plan and I apologized for being a goober. Also, for backing into her car.
     Momma grabbed a couple boxes from the grocery store to lay on so she could crawl under the bus.  With a some extra juice in the van's battery and little jiggle hear and there I seemed to have first gear again.  The book explains how once you have first you're well on your way to fourth gear and home awaits you.
      First gear worked. Second?  Second gear was tricky.  So I would have to rev it up and throw it in third.  Or sometimes first gear wouldn't work.  I would start it in second, then go to third and fourth.  Now, I felt like I understood a little bit more what was happening.  The windshield wipers and lights would kill the generator.  This was necessary...  Well, I have theories about how it works at least.
       Hours and hours later, a couple fuel stops, some free coffee, a keychain light to check my speed, a sleeping bag to put over my lap to keep me warm, some original tunes by yours truly and we made it back to Lancaster. I realized the bus needed to charged again. The van was coming out of fourth gear every once in a while on the freeway. I was unable to put it back in gear without stopping. I would have to put it in first or sometimes second gear and to get it back up to speed.  Maybe it's just me but the gears seemed to work better when she is charged.
    I found a well lit Costco parking lot with our name on it.
Charging up her beautiful battery
I introduce to you, Shelby the Adventurewagen!

     Momma' slept for all of 15 minutes and apparently thought it was a good hour or so.  She woke up wondering where I was and how much time had passed.  Haha!  Poor thing, had been driving ALL day and also didn't get a full night's sleep either.  We packed up the van and hit the road again!  Only two or three hours more on v-dub time.      As we came over the mountain that separates the Antelope Valley and the San Fernando it just started to POUR!  I MEAN POUR!  Like, a LOT of water COMING FROM THE SKY!
     I gazed down at my gas gauge only to realize it was BELOW empty! I was almost home. Dang!!    I put some gas, got back on the freeway and the bus well.. I had to pull over on the shoulder of the 405.  It looked fine but it was FLOODED!  Due to the flooding I didn't see a massive hole or dip in the shoulder. It jerked my top heavy van to the side wall vigorously! My cat like reflexes kicked in and compensated. How? I'm not sure. I should have taken out that wall and the side of the van.  I didn't.
    Every guarding power the universe must've watching out for me and my mom on this trip. Overall, everything could have gone wrong and didn't. I could have had the car impounded at least twice.  The snow could have blocked the pass making it impossible to get home.  The headlights could have been something much more complicated.  The clutch could have just told me to take a hike.  The rain could have totaled my car and ended my life.  The list goes on and on.     We left Los Angeles Friday at 10 am and arrived back in one whole piece Saturday at 7 am.  It was a wonderful adventure.  I am grateful that I was able to score the bus from the seller, spend some time with my momma' and make it home with a big smile on my face and a story to tell.
Still smiling after 21 hours of freezing cold adventure!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Kajsa Blix + Valentine's Day!

       We're proud to announce participation in Mack Sennett Studiosfirst ever iHeartSilverLake event with a special Valentine's Gift Pop-Up!  More than 50 local artists and designers are expected to be on hand to offer artisanal wares. There will be a photo booth, Tarot readings and more.

Saturday February 8th from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the  Entry is $5. 
The event is at 1215 Bates Ave., Los Angeles. See ya' there!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Back on the road! - Stonehenge, Bath, Wales, Oxford, London and Essex!

     The last five weeks in the U.K. were pretty glorious!  

     I learned to love a place that at first seemed very unappealing.  The difference between staying in during the depths of November and exploring, meeting new people and weekend tripping in August are just incomparable. Even though I stayed in the same town I experienced it differently.  We did a lot of camping, hanging out with local friends, enjoying the sun and being mostly on a farm in the countryside that was built in the middle ages. It really just goes to show that life is really just what you make of it.  Sure, it doesn't hurt when you're surrounded by mother nature's beauty.

     I'm happy to reflect on both trips to England and apply my lesson to future travels.  

     In the mean time here's a few pictures from my excursion:

First day in Essex! These are government cows that wander the lake around and trim the grass.

At Dobb's weir.  They say weir. We say dam.
Weir: A low dam built across a river to raise the level of water upstream or regulate its flow.
 In this case they regulate the water for canal boats.

Fancy a bit of rain?!

How about a view of London from the Heron tower this lovely ball of fire?

Rock in the Park with another amazing American CouchSurfer from So Cal and loads of local friends!
It kept raining on and off all day which made the experience that much more intense and exciting.

Sun bathing in the sun while being locked out of the house.

Playing hide and go seek
and chewing on wheat stalks

in the countryside
         We drove a couple hours south-west and few hours north-west 

just for a pile of rocks.

a hot babe

the roman baths

a wishing well

and ancient hot springs.

Camping in Brecon, Wales!

Where you can pick your own strawberries and stare at Welsh and try to imagine what it would sound like.

It was surely beautiful!
I even got to hang out with some lambs.
and see fields for miles and miles!

Then Oxford, England:

Which was also beautiful with all the flowers and architecture every where.

The Castle!

The Castle Tavern

And I place where they give away free cash!

Back in Essex you can find:
Faggots on sale!

fresh blackberries!

strange looking people

breakfast in bed


afros, braids and curls ... and not just a couple... that's a SEA of them

a carnival

hot babes from different places around the world

bright colors and head dresses

guys with parrots

and guys with glasses.
     I'm sad I had to visit England twice to understand why it is truly great.  But you know, all the more reason to appreciate my visit that much more the second time!

     It's great to know that even though this is filled with so many amazing experiences I've still failed to mention so much.  So, I guess I'll just leave it at that and let you use your imagination.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

21 habits of happy people

Happiness is spending time and swimming with my little cousin,
being creative, enjoying and appreciating her and life, loving
and being grateful to be alive on such a glorious day!

     Do you ever wonder how some people can just be *so* happy? Well, it turns out happy people have these twenty one habits in common. 

     Like anything else good in life it will take some practice and bravery but it well worth the effort! 

1. Appreciate Life 

Be thankful that you woke up alive each morning. Develop a childlike sense of wonder towards life. Focus on the beauty of every living thing. Make the most of each day.
Don’t take anything for granted. Don’t sweat the small stuff. 

2. Choose Friends Wisely 

Surround yourself with happy, positive people who share your values and goals. Friends that have the same ethics as you will encourage you to achieve your dreams. They help you to feel good about yourself. They are there to lend a helping hand when needed.  
(They say you become like your five closest friends.)

3. Be Considerate 

Accept others for who they are as well as where they are in life. Respect them for who they are. Touch them with a kind and generous spirit. Help when you are able, without trying to change the other person. Try to brighten the day of everyone you come into contact with. 

4. Learn Continuously 

Keep up to date with the latest news regarding your career and hobbies. Try new and daring things that has sparked your interest – such as dancing, skiing, surfing or sky-diving. 

5. Creative Problem Solving 

Don’t wallow in self-pity. As soon as you face a challenge get busy finding a solution. Don’t let the set backs affect your mood, instead see each new obstacle you face as an opportunity to make a positive change. Learn to trust your gut instincts – it’s almost always right. 

6. Do What They Love 

Some statistics show that 80% of people dislike their jobs! No wonder there’s so many unhappy people running around. We spend a great deal of our life working. Choose a career that you enjoy – the extra money of a job you detest isn’t worth it. Make time to enjoy your hobbies and pursue special interests. 

7. Enjoy Life 

Take the time to see the beauty around you. There’s more to life than work. Take time to smell the roses, watch a sunset or sunrise with a loved one, take a walk along the seashore, hike in the woods etc. Learn to live in the present moment and cherish it. Don’t live in the past or the future. 

8. Laugh 

Don’t take yourself – or life too seriously. You can find humor in just about any situation. Laugh at yourself – no one’s perfect. When appropriate laugh and make light of the circumstances. (Naturally there are times that you should be serious as it would be improper to laugh.) 

9. Forgive Holding a grudge will hurt no one but you. Forgive others for your own peace of mind. When you make a mistake – own up to it – learn from it – and FORGIVE yourself. 

10. Gratitude 

Develop an attitude of gratitude. Count your blessings; All of them – even the things that seem trivial. Be grateful for your home, your work and most importantly your family and friends. Take the time to tell them that you are happy they are in your life. 

11. Invest in Relationships 

Always make sure your loved ones know you love them even in times of conflict. Nurture and grow your relationships with your family and friends by making the time to spend with them. Don’t break your promises to them. Be supportive. 

12. Keep Their Word 

Honesty is the best policy. Every action and decision you make should be based on honesty. Be honest with yourself and with your loved ones.  
(Denial doesn't count as honesty to yourself.)

13. Meditate 

Meditation gives your very active brain a rest. When it’s rested you will have more energy and function at a higher level. Types of meditation include yoga, hypnosis, relaxation tapes, affirmations, visualization or just sitting in complete silence. Find something you enjoy and make the time to practice daily. 

14. Mind Their Own Business 

Concentrate on creating your life the way you want it. Take care of you and your family. Don’t get overly concerned with what other people are doing or saying. Don’t get caught up with gossip or name calling. Don’t judge. Everyone has a right to live their own life the way they want to – including you. 

15. Optimism 

See the glass as half full. Find the positive side of any given situation. It’s there – even though it may be hard to find. Know that everything happens for a reason, even though you may never know what the reason is. Steer clear of negative thoughts. If a negative thought creeps in – replace it with a positive thought. 

16. Love Unconditionally 

Accept others for who they are. You don’t put limitations on your love. Even though you may not always like the actions of your loved ones – you continue to love them. 

17. Persistence 

Never give up. Face each new challenge with the attitude that it will bring you one step closer to your goal. You will never fail, as long as you never give up. Focus on what you want, learn the required skills, make a plan to succeed and take action. We are always happiest while pursuing something of value to us. 

18. Be Proactive 

Accept what can not be changed. Happy people don’t waste energy on circumstances beyond their control. Accept your limitations as a human being. Determine how you can take control by creating the outcome you desire – rather than waiting to respond. 

19. Self Care 

Take care of your mind, body and health. Get regular medical check ups. Eat healthy and work out. Get plenty of rest. Drink lots of water. Exercise your mind by continually energizing it with interesting and exciting challenges. 

20. Self Confidence 

Don’t try to be someone that you’re not. After all no one likes a phony. Determine who you are in the inside – your own personal likes and dislikes. Be confident in who you are. Do the best you can and don’t second guess yourself. 

21. Take Responsibility 

Happy people know and understand that they are 100% responsible for their life. They take responsibility for their moods, attitude, thoughts, feelings, actions and words. They are the first to admit when they’ve made a mistake. 

Begin today by taking responsibility for your happiness. Work on developing these habits as you own. The more you incorporate the above habits into your daily lifestyle – the happier you will be. 



      Print out the list and hang where you get ready in the morning so you start your day off right!  xx

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The time is "now to now".

    Thank the dear Milky Way for each moment, emotions and existence each day. Thank it for allowing change and giving us the option to construct ourselves into temple of strength, health, healing and wisdom.  

     Thank it for the lesson that the time is "now to now", to let go of the everything except the moment. Yesterday and tomorrow are an illusion.