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Listen to your Father. And Stay Thristy, My Friends.

My dad once told me his biggest wish for his kids is that we will be able to afford and drive new cars…. Oh, and that we will also become vegetarians.

You see, my dad is a mechanical engineer (and a vegetarian)… a blessing and a curse when it comes to the world automobiles.  As my dad puts it, “You know enough to be dangerous and occasionally successful.” This resulted in my childhood transportation relying solely on “gently used vehicles,”  and my dad spending far too many weekends under them.

Long gone were the days of my dad tinkering with his Karmann Ghia or my mom’s Bug for fun.  Working on our family cars was no hobby, but, rather, an act of survival.  The kids needed to get to school on Monday, and then dance classes, piano lessons and field hockey practice.    My mom needed to go grocery shopping; my dad had a job.  The pressure to have running vehicles was always high.  Today, with his nest empty, it’s a wonder why my dad chooses to ride his bike to work most days…

Understandably, his dream for his children makes perfect sense.

While I have yet to embrace vegetarianism, 4 years ago, after owning a slew of used autos, I proudly fulfilled my dad’s first wish – I bought a brand new car (a 2009 Fit – we call him “Fity Cent” :-(D).

After my first week on the road, I was hooked.  What an incredible feeling to drive down the freeway, smell burning oil and know it’s not you!  What a relief to set out on a 60-mile road trip and be confident that you are going to make it to your destination!  How cute that the only reason to have AAA is for when you run out of gas or lock your keys in your car!

But some would say, where’s the fun in that?

So, two years later, we bought a 32 year-old VW bus…

The Bustache ran on magic, we said.  The Bustache wasn’t a frivolous purchase, he was an investment.  His imperfections are what make him endearing.  He’s SO awesome we’ll write a whole blog dedicated to him!

For two full years, we naively subscribed to this philosophy.  The biggest repairs we had to make was the installation of a new skylight, the replacement of the radio and the addition of a few PILLOWS.  Of course, there was an enormous “to do list” but it was filled with the “nice to have – wouldn’t that be fun” kind of stuff.

And, then, this summer happened.

Now the list includes things like a new clutch, ignition coil, more clutch stuff, and ultimately a new (rebuilt) engine.  Four tow-trucks, three mechanics and a stash of cash later, we’re a bit wiser to the ways to the VW life and the joy pain it can cause.

But you know what?  We might be battered.  We might be bruised.  And our wallets might be a little lighter … :-( but we’re still holding true to our previous beliefs!  The Bustache still runs on magic - it’s just that this magic requires a bit of encouragement in the form of money.  He still is an investment - he’s just an investment in memory making not $moolah$ making.  His imperfections do make him endearingit’s  just that they are less endearing at 102 degrees.   And hey, we’re still writing a blog – we’re just including more posts about the other amazing things in our lives - our dog and Ryan Gosling.

I’d like to think this summer was the final stage of our initiation into the VW Bus brother/sisterhood.   I think we might be on the verge of full-fledged membership.  Any day now, our card should show up in the mail.

But, hey, I am nothing if not an obedient daughter – Fity Cent is here to stay too.  Cuz, you know, sometimes the smell of burning oil just doesn’t do it for me in the morning.

Dad, you are a wise, wise man.

P.S.  A big thank you to Gary, who commented on our last post.  It really helped! – “It’s like I tell everybody, I don’t have vacations, I have adventures….. Stay thirsty my friends…..”:-(D

How I almost had a heart attack last night.

This is a picture of our bathroom counter this morning.  Notice anything unusual?

Other than the fact Steve and I have impeccable oral hygiene with our two ultrasonic tooth brushes standing neatly in the corner.

Yes – that is a dismantled smoke detector sitting next to the sink.

Why, might you ask, is there a dismantled smoke detector next to our sink?  Well, let’s go back to February.

In February, we got a new roof.  After you get a new roof, you have to have a state-licensed Building Inspector come out and approve the work that was done.  In addition, this Building Inspector will make sure that you are in compliance with all other housing codes required by the State of California.  One of these codes is based on a law requiring smoke detectors to be installed in all bedrooms and living areas.

In our house, this means we have five smoke detectors.  Five.  And, while I’m sure we are five times safer now, we are also five times more likely to be woken up in the middle of the night by the “warning chirps” of a waning battery.

Since February, this has happened to us three times.  And it NEVER happens in the middle of the day.  Or, say, 6 in the evening.  It ALWAYS happens in the middle of the night.

And, you know what?  The smoke detector folks weren’t thinking about frog owners when they created their “low battery” notification.   Cuz if they were, they wouldn’t have chosen the subtly of a “cricket chirping” as their sound.

You see, we have a frog.

Kiambi and a very confused doggers.

And our frog eats crickets.  And these crickets make the most annoying chirping sound in the world.  And in critical act of survival, we have learned that frog owners must become immune to the sound of crickets or else they will be driven insane and never sleep ever.  So we have adapted.

“But, wait!” you say.  “Isn’t this a good thing?  Doesn’t this mean you wouldn’t be bothered by the low-battery notification?  Even in the middle of the night?”

Yes.  Yes.  This is true.  But unfortunately for everyone, our dog has NOT become immune to the sound.  In fact, this sound drives her crazy.  And when detector batteries start making themselves known, she produces the most pitiful wale directly next to her sleeping master.  This scares her master out of her very deep sleep, and she awakens to find a furry beast with glowing eyes towering inches from her face holding what is initially perceived as a skull (but is later confirmed to be a snowman squeaky toy).

Creepy dog.

Needless to say, last night, when this happened, I thought I was going to have a heart attack (warning: watching American Horror Story right before heading to bed intensifies any reaction to this scenario x1000).  I woke up with a start.  Jumped out of bed.  And started to consider all of the horrible things that must be happening.  We are being invaded by aliens.  There is an intruder in the house.  Mitt Romney was relegating all working women to binders (bad, bad election joke, I know…).

But nothing seemed to be amiss.  All I had was a frantic whining dog and a softly snoring boyfriend.

Which leads me to this – Why?  Why, smoke detector people, do you let 10 minutes go in-between each low-battery notification sound?  Why couldn’t you just let it go off every 30 seconds?  Couldn’t low batteries show a little more urgency?  Because last night, after I was initially woken up, it took me 10 minutes to figure out what was wrong, and another 20 minutes to figure out which smoke detector, of our FIVE, was making the noise.

Of course, once I figured out which one it was, the noise became more like a “strobe-light” chirping sound which woke Steve right up.

Well, hello, Love, so glad you could join the party!

Needless to say, Steve was able to extract the detector and remove the batteries.   And I didn’t sleep for the rest of the night.

Question:  How do you handle having multiple smoke detectors in the house?  What’s your battery changing strategy?  We have got to find another way… for the health and safety of our house!

Thank you for your suggestions.

Side note (at the bottom of the page) – I know I haven’t written about the Bustache for awhile.  I will soon.  I think I’ve been in denial over our less than stellar summer with him.  He was a trooper, but we’ve entered into the unglamorous side of VW bus ownership – repairs, tow-trucks and derailed trips.

Another reason why dogs are the best.

90lbs dog + cat door =

View #1

View #2a

View #2b

I <3 dogs so much.

Happy Friday!

Not in a million years…

Per our last post, you can tell we’ve been keeping busy.   Between weddings, travel, family visits and work, we managed to fill up pretty much every weekend with activities (90% of them out of town) starting in April.

And it all began with something I didn’t think would ever happen… not in a million years.

I. turned. 30.

How did this happen!?! I feel like there should be some sort of test that you need to pass in order to prove your ready to enter your 4th decade on this earth.  A test that I would invariably fail.  Because I can’t possibly be ready to turn 30.  This test would look something like this:

Please answer the following questions as truthful as possible.  If you answer “no” to more then 3 of the following, you are not ready to be 30.  Please retake next year. (My answers are in bold.)

  1. Have you traveled around the sun 30 times?
    Yes.
  2. Do you make (and keep) annual dentist appointments?
    No.
  3. Can you go more than 2-consecutive days without spilling coffee on yourself?
    No.
  4. Are you married?
    According to my Pinterest?  Yes. I have planned the equivalent of 30 weddings.
    According to Steve? No.
  5. a – Do you know how to spell the word “Bureaucrat?”
    YES!
    b – Without the help of spell-check?
    No… :-(
  6. Do you have a mortgage?
    Does the monthly cost of keeping a 32-year old vehicle “road worthy” count?
    No.
    Then, no.
  7. Have you stopped eating Frozen Yoghurt (and only frozen yoghurt) for dinner?
    What, really!?!  You have to do this?  No… :-(

So, as you can see, not ready to be 30.

But, it happened anyways.

The weeks leading up to my birthday were crazy.  Part of my job at work includes planning a large event that always happens a few days before or after my special day.  This year was no different.  My birthday fell on Sunday, and my event happened the following Friday.  To top it off, Steve came home in mid-March with this:

Steve: “Hey Babe, there is an important conference I need to go to for work. It’s in New York.”

Me: “Cool.  That sounds like fun!”

Steve: “Well, it means I will be gone on your birthday.”

Me: “Oh, that’s OK.  I was planning on working that weekend anyways because of my event.”

And so, Steve booked his tickets to New York, and I hunkered down immersed in my event planning.

But as the weeks went by it became more and more apparent that I WAS TURNING 30.  And instead of celebrating being born, I was going to be PRINTING NAME-BADGES and EMAILING TABLE ASSIGNMENTS.  And I was going to be spending this momentousness (some might say, depressing) time all ALONE.

Suddenly, it was clear – Steve was ABANDONING me in my time of need!  But, in typical Sierra fashion, it took me awhile to come to terms with this realization.  I didn’t want to come across as selfish or vein.  Birthdays could be celebrated a week late.  Age is just a number.  This conference is important for my loved ones career.

And then 2-weeks before my big day, Steve looked at his phone and said, “This is weird.  I just got a calendar reminder that says, ‘Steve Leaves Sierra for New York One Her 30th Birthday Weekend.’”

“Oh.  Yeah.” I stammered.  “I might have added that to our shared Google Calendar.”

“Hmmm… does this have a deeper meaning?”

“Oh.  No.  I’m fine.” I said.

Sierra and Steve’s April Calendar. Please “click” for a larger image.

Which of course, later that night, when I broke down in tears and lamented how I was being abandoned and getting SOOO old and nobody love me, Steve realized that I was not, in fact, “fine.”

The next day Steve went to his boss and said, “Dude.  I think I messed up.  Sierra told me it was OK for me to go to this conference, but I’m starting to think that’s not really what she meant…”

Steve’s boss, a wise man  (or, perhaps, just a seasoned husband), replied, “Well.  Then you need to fly her to New York.”

So, when I came home from work that day, Steve stood in the kitchen an proclaimed, “I have something to tell you.  And before you say, “no,” let me say everything I need to say.”

And then he took a deep breath and proclaimed, “I am flying you to New York on your birthday.  I know you have your event.  I know you’re supposed to be working.  But we shouldn’t spend your 30th Birthday apart.  And you definitely shouldn’t spend your 30th Birthday alone.  You are coming to New York.  Even if we spend the whole weekend in the hotel room printing name-badges and emailing table assignments, you are coming to New York.”

“But my event!?!  There is too much to do!”

“You are coming to New York.”

And that was that.  I was going to spend my 30th birthday in New York with my most favorite person.

Thanks to a very wonderful and understanding boss, I even got to enjoy my trip – Complete with:

A Bagpipe Festival!

A whirlwind tour of downtown NY, including Grand Central.

A Surprise Broadway Show – Book of Mormon!

All this to say, I turned 30, despite failing the test and having a minor life-crisis in the process.  And I must say, thanks to a certain incredible boyfriend, this 30 thing isn’t so bad.  In fact, it feels like a more awesome version of my 20′s…  I have more knowledge, more vehicles, more career happiness, more stability with income, and more love!

Up next… Steve joins the club, turns the big 3-0 himself. :-(D

Hello! Long time no talk.

So, what have YOU been up to this summer?

Us?  Well, obviously we haven’t been writing blogs… but we have been doing this:

New York, New York!

And this:

Sea World, San Diego!

All in honor of this:

Getting older.

And then we did this:

Hiking.

And this.

Camping.

And this.  :-(

Breaking down.

PUSHING!

Then, it looked like all was well, so we did this:

Onward!

But, not an hour later, this:

More breaking down. :-(

The next weekend we looked like this:

Weddings!

But the weekend after, we looked like this:

Backpacking!

Because we had done this:

Summiting the top of Mt. Whitney!

Then, because we weren’t yet tired, we did this:

Paris! Posing in front of Notre-Dame.

“Love Locks” on Pont des Arts in Paris.

Where we saw a whole bunch of these:

Heaven.

And did an embarrassing amount of this:

Then, we went of north to see this:

Seattle! Mt. Rainier is “out.”

And this:

Catching up with old friends and Dale Chihuly.

Our summer culminated with more of this:

Camping in Santa Barbara!

And, sadly, more of this:

AAA is our best friend.

And, now, we’d like to do a lot of this:

Sleep.

This:

Relax.

And this:

Nap.

And, hopefully, no more of this:

Phew! 

Hope your summer was as filled with as much laughter, excitement and happiness as ours was!  Details of these adventures coming soon.  :-(D

Allow Me to be Sentimental

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Allow me to be a bit sentimental -

We’re getting ready to take Bustache on a trip this weekend – a process that this time involves getting him smogged.  Not an easy feat for a 33 year-old vehicle.  Besides, you know how 1 human year is equivilant to 7 dog years?  I think the same ratio must be true for cars… considering most of them “die” between the ages of 15 and 20.  That would make Bustache 231 years old!

I mean, really, smog-man, cut the guy some slack.  You might “emit” some unfavorable smells and gases too if your were 230+.

No slack was cut, however.  Bustache failed twice.  Only after taking him to a nicer, more understanding smog-man, did he finally get the seal of approval for one more year.

Despite the trial and tribulations of the last few days (and the fact that I will be spending the later part of my afternoon at the DMV trying to obtain a legit registration sticker for the bus), I am desperately looking forward to this upcoming adventure.  It’s been awhile since we’ve taken the Bustache to the open road, and I have missed it.

Because, I can honestly say, my favorite moments in life, right now, are when I wake up in the early morning, snugly wrapped in Bustache’s bed (surrounded by my 12 PILLOWS, of course!), and I can listen to the sound of Steve softly breathing beside me and Westi snoring curled up on the floor below.  And it’s cold outside… I know this because my fingers pull quickly away when I accidentally brush them against the window, but inside Bustache, we are cozy and warm.  For all I know complete chaos could be ensuing outside, but in this turtle shell of ours, it’s quiet.   And if a disaster did come upon us? We could easily survive with Bustache’s many amenities.  All we need is stored safely within these walls – all within an arms reach of where I lay right now.  And I can see the first light of morning slipping in-between the curtains – in two hours time we will emerge from our cocoon, and the cool air will rush into the cab as we fumble frantically to get the coffee brewing.  But right now? Right now I am fighting my urge to fall back asleep, so I can enjoy this moment as long as I can…. so I can remember what this kind of peace feels like when my life feels anything but…  so I can bring this enlightenment into my daily life…. so I can remain thankful – SO thankful for what I have.  I am silently hoping that everyone gets to experience this kind of quiet joy – that they have these moments of pure happiness too.

And I’m not exactly sure why this is different than any other morning – when I lie awake in our bed at home, but it is.  Maybe it’s because there’s no laundry waiting downstairs.  Or job to run off to in the morning.  Maybe it’s because there’s no T.V. to lure me away.  Or computer to distract my brain.

All I know is that there is something utterly freeing about being confined to a 10′x4′ box.  May we all be so lucky.

What’s Two Tons, Noisy as Heck and ‘Stached to make a Splash?

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No… it’s not the Bustache…

It’s my new favorite animal – The walrus!

Anyone else find Lewis Carroll’s “Walrus and The Carpenter” a bit creepy when they were a child?

And there is nothing like staring one down face to face with projectile fish bits being spewed in your direction (To be fair… we were the only ones staring cuz this particular walrus is blind, and he was the only one spewing).

Hello. This is Obie.

Thanks to a really cool “behind the scenes” experience at SeaWorld San Diego, a new life-long friendship was formed.

Steve providing some more ammo for the spewing.

Hey, with a face like that, I couldn’t help but go in for a little smooch.

I never could resist a man with a mo…

Steve better watch out!  Obie’s got some movez!

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