Monday, December 24, 2012

Home, Sweet Home! - Los Angeles, CA (Part 2)

        My birthday week was out of the way and Christmas was quickly approaching!  Most of my friends were leaving to go home for the holidays. I was beyond happy to be asked if I would house and dog sit over the holiday!  :)

       It was nice to stay in my hometown in my friends' cozy place. I just loved being surrounded in a cute, clean environment with constant reminders of love and Christmas all around.  Having a little companion to stretch my legs with and love on was quite amazing as well.

My new B.F.F. Ellie and all the cards and packages that came for my friends w/ love.


The vanity mirror with a sweet note of appreciation.
        Even though the little notes and reminders of love spread all over the house weren't for me they made me feel warm and cozy.  I always smile when I think about the fact that 'You will become like the five people you surround yourself with the most' when I think of our friendship. I genuinely feel inspired, loved and appreciated when I am around them.  I admire how they interact and treat people with love, practice random acts of kindness and always extend open invites.
        Thank you friends.  I love you and I appreciate you.

        The week flew by and it was now Christmas Eve.  It was raining but we didn't care!  We sat in the back yard around the camp fire, laughed and knew that we were blessed to be around amazing people that were happy to be alive, appreciating and living in such a glorious moment.  It was a beautiful way to celebrate a day that is supposed to represent all things of goodness and light.

Jeramy and Kirstin loving the fire and the rain!
When no other wood burn the important stuff for the cause!  :p

Jeramy is a travel extraordinaire and the mastermind of GoHobo. (Hence the logos.) 
GoHobo is club that was started by getting people in the vicinity to get together for exploring, beach days, yoga hikes, football in the park and is rapidly turning into an online gathering area for budget and shoestring travel, hiking, backpacking, health, camaraderie and as they put it 
"all good things starting from the feet".  
Visit Gohobo's facebook, give them a like, share your travel stories and get inspired!  

         Christmas was everything I imagined.  It was modest and shared with my immediate family.  My mom made me some crocheted scarves and winter hats.  We had a sweet dinner and kept everything simple.  

          From here on I'll mostly just be uploading photos with captions from the rest of my time home so we can get back to the traveling bit.  You'll get to see some of San Francisco, Santa Cruz mountains, Reno, Portland and others in the next post(s). 

         As always, thanks for reading and sharing my experiences.  



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Home, Sweet Home! - Los Angeles, CA (Part 1)

     I was still very melancholy about leaving Europe; sad yet happy.  It was six days until my birthday and 13 days until Christmas.  No one except my mom knew I was coming home.  What would it be like?  Would I see my home in the same eyes as when I left? Would my friends have forgotten me? Would they be too busy?  My head was filled with all these thoughts.  Maybe I should have canceled my flight so I wouldn't get stuck at home.  If I did cancel my flight what would I have done? Where would I have gone? Was flying home worth it?  Was I really going to be able to leave home in a month and a half as planned?

    I decided it was better if I just tried to nap the whole way and let all those things go. It really doesn't make sense to worry about things when you know you're not going to actually change your mind. The flight ended up being pretty sweet.  It was December 12th and there was no one on the airplane.  I had three seats all to myself!  

     There was an airplane switch in Las Vegas..... where I really contemplated staying for the night, getting a hotel room and a rental car and driving home the next day (or two days later! :P )  I decided to be a well behaved girl and get on the next airplane instead.  To this day i'm really not sure why!

Well, hello Las Vegas! - Dec 13

       I was so happy to be home!  My mom was waiting for me with a big hug and kiss.. and my car! Yay! Freedom! It was warm, the sun was shinning, I didn't need a parka.  We loaded up my backpack into the car and I GOT TO DRIVE!  Haha!! First time in over four months!  My mom was scared silly!  I glanced over just to see her holding the arm rests like a cat trying to avoid a bath; claws out and everything. Haha!
Hello view from mom's porch! - Dec 13

         My mom had pulled out a few items of clothing, my teddy bear (don't hate), my bathrobe, perfume, body washes and now had a "bedroom" for me!

         Wow!!  I had a home.

Pre-decorating the Xmas tree - me, santa, my mom, tank the dog and my brother's feet
Dec 15

         My mom must have been relieved that I was home and in one piece.  My brother seemed happy to see me too.  I was happy I committed that day to tree decorating before I left England. The next few days, few weeks were a blur.  I was every where, all at one time.  This gave me a chance to spend some time with my family.  

         I soon dashed off to this holiday party to start surprising people!  You know,  I do love a surprise!

Alex (ex-coworker), Victor (ex-coworker and great long time friend), me and Walter (a mutual friend an amazing guy)
Victor is so built his chest was popping buttons.  ;)
A holiday party I crashed for two, or technically three, of my employers - Dec 15

         It was an eventful night of seeing many familiar faces!  It was a great feeling.  What feeling?  The feeling of being known, having shared experiences with people and automatically being greeted with a smiling face and a HUGE hug! Their shocked faces were pretty priceless too.  The night was a little climactic but it ended well.  

         I soon woke up in a daze and rushed down the road to meet up with my buddies!
Jeramy and David who integrated Nicoke!  seconds after this photo was taken - Dec 16
         We were off to Joshua Tree for Zack's birthday.  Funny enough, it was my and Jeramy's birthday in two days and Zack's girlfriend, Laura's birthday in three days! Four out of six of us had birthdays.  It was a birthday bonanza!  :D

Sonic with the crew! Notice the lady on skates? ...only in America.
We're almost there! Joshua trees - Dec 15

         We were headed for Joshua Tree, yes.  More specifically we were headed for "Hicksville".  It is a small village of old air streams and campers made into accommodation with activities to keep us busy. 

         Thanks Lilly for the following photos!  :)

Hello Hicksville!

Laura and Lilly!

Zack, David and Jeramy!
Target practice with Laura
Zack's birthday cake!
         It was such a nice time!  There were a few shenanigans that took place that night as you can imagine.  Some one ate the dog treats.  Some one else had a slight fall for no apparent reason.  There was a lot of hugging going on, laughing and smiling.  More than I remember.... I guess that's what photos are for.  :D

         The next day there was a couple football games so the boys wanted to watch it in town.

         We girls went to Palm Springs and had lunch!

Yay! Lilly and me - Dec 16
This is my favorite Mexican restaurants in P.S. - Dec 16
Everything seemed so bright and colorful!
         We soon finished lunch walked around a bit and headed back to Los Angeles.  

         From the gang's house I went straight to meet up with yet more ex co-workers. (I was invited at the holiday party.) This gathering was for Diana's birthday!  Yay Diana!  Happy birthday!  

Diana, Kristy from Paris, Micki from Colorado and me --from Mars - Dec 17
         I hung around with them, chatted and reminisced for a few hours before every one called it a night.  It was lovely to see every them as well as Bridget (not pictured) again!

         From there I was off to one of my closest friend Torrey's!  I went straight to bed.  The next morning I was glad to wake up there on my birthday.  Especially when my favorite breakfast on the planet was on the menu and there was a morning toast! 

Bestie & breakfast! - Dec 18
The essence of Torrey - Dec 18

         Torrey happened to have the day off.  So... what to do?!  Scoop up his friend Tony and... drive around until we found something awesome to do?  Maybe do some christmas shopping at the Glendale Galleria?

We found Santa Claus checking his list on the way - Dec 18
and I scored a new hat!  Thank you Torrey! - Dec 18

         The sun was bigger and brighter.  The clouds had never been so beautiful!  I never saw LA in such a great light. We were rocking out in the car.  Yes.. I was actually singing.  I was happy to be home and overjoyed to be alive!

Random shot of Glendale and the clouds - Dec 18
         What was next?  Drop Tony off and have an Oyster House celebration! It seems all my friends were busy but Torrey was still making my day.  Man, those oysters were good!

Dec 18
         We decided to go back to Torrey's house and invite his friends and my mom.  Of course my mom brought my brother. 

My brother Jacob and me - Dec 18
         It was weird... for the first time in my life my brother bought me a birthday and/or present.  It contained quite a few pairs of thermals so I wouldn't be cold on my travels.  Pretty thoughtful.

         One of those pairs of thermals happened to be these:

They were a bit over sized even though they were a medium and literally fit three people! - Dec 18
They were a great laugh!  Thanks Jake!
(Katie, Cole and me)

         That's basically how that night ended.  The whole week was good fun with people I love.  I really enjoyed myself!

         Stay tuned!  This post is to be continued!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Loaded Cannon

It can be so easy to forget rules or goals you live life by.

I'm finding that life can some times be a loaded cannon.  If you find the right catalyst your life can be propelled into one solid direction with just a little gun powder.  A direction that seemed near cemented in can suddenly be destroyed or altered.

I guess some times it takes a cross road or a sinking ship to make you jump.  ... jump back to the reality you want to create for yourself and get back on track.

I am so in love with what is going on in my life right now and the wisdom I have gained.   I deserve to have people in my life that treat me well.  Time to sterilize the cannon and reload it with cool catalysts so I can live a healthy life.

I hate to quote myself from 3 years ago but I guess reflection can be key:

Sunday, August 9, 2009


inspire, encourage and be honest with the people in your life. help them understand themselves precisely so they can be the person they want to become. infuse them with love and confidence.

don't allow their potential to go to waste.

eventually you will become the people you surround yourself with too. choose wisely.

much love,


"Eventually you will become the people you surround yourself with too.  Choose wisely."

Thank you people who I surround myself with as of lately.  I love you, from the bottom of my little, red, blood pumping heart.  Thank you for your kindness and good intentions.  Thank you for caring for me and being there for me when I need you. Thank you for being understanding.  Thank you for being the people I laugh with and the shoulders I cry on. Yep.  I'll say it once more.  I love you!

These are my footsteps.


Nicole from the Internet

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Manchester -> Rancid, Roydon/London and take off!

      From Manchester I took a short train to Dewsbury.  The train conductor was really nice! I just about missed the train by one second because all the doors were closed. I asked the conductor where the train was headed and he let me pop in the front to the cabin where all the controls are. I was excited thinking that I was going to get to ride in the front the whole way!

     He then opened the door behind me and let me into the normal passenger car.  It was absolutely packed!!  I ended up sitting on my backpack on the floor in the hallway of the train.  Since I was in such a rush I didn't have time to contemplate whether I was going to buy a ticket or not.  When he came by and asked me for my train ticket I showed him my week pass for the buses in Manchester. He smiled, even though it wasn't valid for that train, and said thank you.  This was the second time I had encountered such a sweet conductor in my rides through Europe.   I just love proving that people are loving and giving!

    Before I knew it I had arrived in Dewsbury, just outside of Leeds where I would meet my new host.  He was a Scottish lad from Edinburgh who loved suba diving, telling haunting stories and spicy food more than anything.

    That night I made him chicken with mushrooms, fresh ginger, sweet potatoes and spicy peppers to munch on.

Those orange peppers are called scottish bonnets.
Don't let their name fool you! They are *SO* spicy! He just about turned purple.

      I do believe he loved it! ... and washed it down with a few pints of cider.  He told me those haunting stories about his trips around Scotland.
      Apparently one of his friends bought this haunted house.  The dog would always go crazy, the lights would flicker... you know? the normal haunted house type story.  Basically, they had an issue with the electrical or something and went to do some construction which entailed fixing the chimney.  When they opened up the chimney which had been sealed with bricks they found the corpse of a little girl. ....the little girl who they had seen as a ghost.   :/

     On that note..... 
       The next day was the night of the Rancid concert in Leeds.  We took a short train into town, got there early enough to buy a ticket and got a mulled wine from the Christmas market.  (The whole restaurant structure behind us was temporary just for the event that would last a few weeks.)

        After that I was off on my own to see Rancid.  I was sad I wasn't home to see it with my good friend Torrey but I decided I was going to have a good time anyway.  At first I was standing in the corner feeling alone and awkward.
        I started moving into the crowd just a little bit. Before I knew it there was an older gentleman who was short and totally built with a shaved head and a younger friend behind telling me to join them in the mosh pit.  It turned out to be perfect! They were there for a good time, just like me and could keep me off the ground if I fell.  Safety first right?!  :P

        Here are a couple clips from the concert:

  This song used to be my alarm clock when I was 18.  :p

If I fall back down, you're gonna be my friend!

       After the show I bought a little souvenir, walked outside and looked for my host.   At the time he was no where to be found.  I was worried for a minute.  

      What seemed like seconds later; I had wifi and a text saying the last train was about to leave.  We met back up with him, scurried back to the station and luckily jumped back on the last train home!

     The next morning was quite beautiful.  Blue skies, a bit of sun and maybe even some frost on the ground.  I looked up my route and found that I wasn't too far from the freeway home.  Hitchhiking was definitely the plan!

       As you can see above I was very bundled up!   With my still overpacked 50 lb/ 23 kg backpack I was off.  Of course I really had no idea where I was going.  It would be just down the street, take a left and keep walking.  No sweat!  Right?

       Well, what google maps doesn't automatically mention is the landscape.  It would be two miles on a steep incline.  I figured I'd just start hitchhiking from right then and there.  With my thumb out and a can do attitude I climbed and climbed for at least 40 minutes with all the extra weight.  My legs were burning and I was definitely getting hot.  I only had another mile or so left unless I got picked up.

       I kept persisting; eventually a car pulled over!!   I was in complete disbelief.   I tried running up to the car but my legs just couldn't run.  When I made it to the car I just asked for a lift to the freeway and told him I was London bound.  He said it was no problem but didn't really say where he was headed.  After about an hour and knowing we were heading in the right direction I asked where he was going to.  He mentioned some place that was already 40 minutes behind us.  He then explained that he didn't want to "see me in the newspaper", that his work paid for his gas and that he had tomorrow off so he might just stay in London.  This meant THREE hours out of his way EACH WAY!  Was he nuts?!?!  I guess he was just genuinely really concerned about my wellbeing.


        We stopped Leicester for a restroom break and some coffee.  I told him time and time again that it was fine, he didn't have to go out of his way -especially not six hours worth.  He kindly insisted he would drive me all the way to London or all the way to my friend so I would be safe!  What a sweet man!

         Before I knew it we were at the Tesco, a grocery store, just down the road from my friend Will's house.  I had called Will from his phone to try and figure out exactly where we should meet.  I guess I sounded confused earlier because I was watching the traffic signs and trying to figure out where I was in relation to where we needed to be going.

        When Will arrived he popped out of his dad's Range Rover like he was about to tackle a rabbit. (I really wish I had some kind of documentation to share that but I don't.) Will had thought something was wrong because of the confused tone in my voice on the phone.

         All was good.  The man was very kind and I was now "home" safely.  It was yet another wonderful hitchhiking experience, thanks to that man!

"Home" - Their proper kettle, AGA (stove)
and part of the tea/coffee cup collection
         I now had four days until my flight back home.  I still hadn't really seen London.  

         Will and I went out for couple nights on the town. 

              The London tube!

Big Ben exists! ... and he's not so big.
The Tower Bridge!
(I've yet to see the London Bridge in Lake Havasu, CA, day)

         Before I knew it my visit in England and Europe was over.  I began packing, while trying to savor the last few hours in such an incredible country.  As always, packing was nothing short of bittersweet.  I knew that the flight home was going to mean the end of my journey hitchhiking, couchsurfing, meeting new people and experiencing new things.

          I was happy to be going home for Christmas and my birthday.

          I was sad to pause my adventures and leave such a wonderful continent.

Bye, bye