Sunday, November 28, 2010

Emily in Wyoming

Should I change the name of the blog to Emily in Wyoming? Nah.

So, I've found an apt in Laramie, moved in, finished my first (short) week of work, and finally got Internet in my apt. Yay! Here is some info and pics for those interested. Some of you may have heard most of this, but you can deal with it.

Hard to believe the entire contents of my apartment could fit into this tiny UHaul, this SUV, and a Honda Civic:
I moved in a few weeks ago, and got freaked out during the last 45 minutes of a 14 hour drive. The portion of I-80 between Cheyenne and Laramie apparently closes quite a few times during the winter due to (primarily) blowing snow causing white-out conditions. And probably slick roads, but the white-out conditions I think are more of a problem. Anyway, the road closed later that evening and until later the next morning, but not before I started driving on it. There were literally times when I was driving when I couldn't see a thing. Literally nothing. My mom was taking pictures, but when it got really bad I yelled at her to stop because I was so freaked out. But we didn't die, and we made it to Laramie okay. My dad (with the UHaul) was a day behind us, and he had to hunker down in Cheyenne for a few hours before the road opened. But he made it okay, too.

We drove through Cheyenne very quickly. Here's the capitol...hey look! They're Badger fans! :D

The drive between Cheyenne and Laramie: After it was really bad, and before it got really bad.

We took a drive on a National Scenic Byway that runs through the Snowy Mountain Range...but it had actually closed the week previous for the winter (not to reopen until June), so we drove on it as far as we's where the road closed. I think it was at about 10,000 feet:

Align CenterA view of Laramie:

More Laramie area photos:

I started work last Monday. It was a short week because of Thanksgiving. I only had to work Monday-Wednesday. Even though it was only 3 days, I really like it so far. Everyone who works there seems really nice. They hired another person at the same time as me (with the same job), and she's nice as well. I think she's having a harder time adjusting than I am. The altitude seems to be bothering her more than me (she gets dizzy, and had a lot of bloody noses on her first day of work...due to the dry weather and altitude). Also, she's from Texas, so she's not used to the cold and snow. She's never driven in snow before.

This is the building I work in. Interesting:

Our job is to process archival collections that are primarily from the depression era...but a lot of different people/topics. Currently, we are re-processing a 400 cubic foot collection (!) of Joseph O'Mahoney, a democratic senator from Wyoming during the 30s-50s.

I hooked up my TV and digital receiver and found that I only got 2 channels--both PBS. So I decided to get cable along with Internet. I haven't had cable in 3 years! I've been preoccupied watching TV the last week. I hope the novelty wears off.

Anyway, here are some pictures of my apartment. It's 2 bedrooms...but still cheaper than my Madison apt.

This is a 4-plex, and my apartment is the bottom one on the left. We have snow. And it just started snowing right now. They only plow a few main roads here. Luckily, I live on one of those roads, and my route to work is on all main roads. so that's nice. They don't salt or sand, either. It does seem to melt off the main roads in not too many days, however. It's pretty sunny here. Apparently, it's sunny over 300 days of the year. It's been really snowy and cloudy the few weeks I've been here, but I guess it's been pretty unusual. So I hear.

My kitchen: Who doesn't want to do laundry and cook dinner simultaneously?? The flooring is pretty ugly, and I hate the cabinets. I think I'll change the cabinet knobs, because these ones are just hideous.

My bathroom: Lots of storage/shelving, which is nice. I wish the sink counter top area was bigger, but no biggie.

The living room: Pretty good sized. Even though my apartment is on the bottom, there's lots of windows and sunlight that gets through.

My bedroom. Again, 2 big windows. A bit small, but I don't have a lot/big bedroom furniture, so it's not a problem. And between the 2 bedrooms and the 2 big hall closets, I have plenty of storage.

Bedroom number 2, that I'm using as a study/office/whatever. It's a bit smaller than the bedroom I'm using as a bedroom.

Bonus picture of what happens when you lay your forearm on a hot burner. Not fun. It blistered. Gross.
Speaking of burners, cooking here is weird. I definitely have to use the high elevation cooking instructions (Laramie is at 7200 feet). Things bake all weird, so I guess you have to add more flour AND more liquids to recipes. Which is weird to me that you have to add more flour AND liquid, but what do I know? Also, water boils faster but at a lower temperature. So pasta takes longer to cook. Apparently, beans take like 2x as long, but I don't make beans often. Also because of the high elevation, materials expand inside their containers. So items in the grocery store look funny--yogurt containers and stuff are all bulged out and scary to open. Chip bags are nicely full of air and protected from chip breakage.

That's all for now. Later.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Guatemala, pt. 2

It's now almost a year since I went to some point I will finish blogging about it! After this entry, I will only have the entry on Tikal to finish. I'm almost there!

Wednesday, July 29
Had the usual breakfast. Toured another lady's house. It was awesome, and she even had some great looking pre-Columbian artifacts that I could see up close and personal. We then went to La Merced ruins/church. According to a random website, "Destroyed twice by earthquakes, this 1548 church was rebuilt in the 1700s to withstand earthquakes and boasts a lovely yellow facade and a huge stone fountain, reputed to be the largest in Central America." I did not know this about the fountain when I was there. Perhaps I would have appreciated it more. As it was, it was just kind of grungy looking. Brighton and I both noticed that it looked quite a bit nicer in photos.

Also, I should have Brighton doublecheck that I'm not mixing up La Merced and San Francisco. They are both intricately detailed bright yellow buildings, and I constantly get them mixed up my head. For instance, I think the last couple of pictures I posted in my previous entry were actually La Merced, not San Francisco. But idk.

I also bought a beaded bracelet that day. We had lunch at a place called Epicure. It was good. We went and bought tickets to Pacaya for the next day, then had dinner at Nokiate again. There was a thunderstorm that night. I also have written in my notes that I got my "eye gouged out by Tribble." But don't worry, my eye has since regenerated. :D

Thursday, July 30
We caught the tour van to Pacaya (volcano we were going to climb) at 6am. By 7am we had started off on our volcano climbing adventure. I was dying to see some lava! On a side note, this past May 27th Pacaya erupted, and killed one reporter (and someone else, I think). Bummer. Anyway, we bought (or rented, I should say) a hiking stick from some little kids. The climb was very tiring. Brighton and I were switching off carrying the backpack. Jose, our guide, ended up carrying it for us. What a gentleman! Brighton and I took up the rear, with the 6 foot Eurpoean hikers taking the lead. In our defense, we didn't ride horses up the first 3/4 of the way like 2 other girls did.

We got the the top, and there was LAVA! Woo-hoo!!! The rocks we were walking on were so hot that the soles of my shoes melted a little. It was actually pretty scary; because we were in the back, there were times when we lost track of our group and didn't know which path they had taken to get where they were. I mean, at this point we were walking on solidified lava and it felt hollow, and you could feel waves of heat rising from the ground. I kept imaging us stepping onto the wrong rock and falling through into a pool of lava, or something. Fortunately, our group was one of the first groups to make it to the lava flow, so there wasn't a big crowd of people trying to get pictures in front of the flow. Our guide stuck a stick into the lava, and it burst into flames instantly.

After we all got our pictures we retreated a bit and had a snack, and watched as the crowd around the lava grew. It was so cool looking; it almost looked like some weird alien planet, and a bit LotR Mordor-ish. So thank you, Brighton, for coming with me even though you'd already done it and were a bit wary of its volcanic state (good thing we visited last summer and not this summer!). Then we went back down. It was much easier going down the volcano. We made it home by 12:30, where we had a lunch of lamb, potatoes and gravy, peas, and melon. Yum! I then napped, and read. Dinner? Nokiate again. Brighton's fam can eat them some sushi, I'll tell you that!

Friday, July 31
Same breakfast. It was a rainy-ish day. :( Ros and Alex (Brighton's brother) left to go back to the US. Brighton and I watched some TV, then went to Santa Domingo, a hotel with ruins and a museum. The museum was pretty lame, but the ruins were pretty cool, including old crypts. We had lamb curry for lunch, and grilled cheese and tomato soup for dinner. Sarah was flying in tonight, so we went to the airport (driven by Jaime). ::sigh:: Jaime...

Yay for the arrival of Sarah!

Saturday, August 1
Same ol' breakfast, a little rainy. We took off to the Antigua cemetery. Just as we got to Brighton's relative's tomb and as she was describing who was entombed there, we were robbed at gunpoint by 2 youngish guys. Yeah. Awesome. They took all our cameras, Sarah's (empty) bag, and the little amount of money Brighton had on her. I somehow had the wits about me to take out my camera's memory card before handing over my camera. He must have been busy pointing his gun at Brighton at the time. You may take my camera, but YOU WILL NOT TAKE MY PHOTOS!!! So it was super shitty that none of us had cameras anymore. We were able to borrow Brighton's grandma's, but we had to share. Sharing sucks. ;) Also, because of this, we were all super paranoid the rest of the time about getting robbed or killed. Thanks, ahole robbers. I hate you. On the plus side, it will forever be an interesting story for me to tell. See below for a picture of the cemetery; the last photo I took with my camera before it was taken from me by from a man with a GUN.

But life must go on. Later that day, we visited a cow/coffee farm, owned by Mita's good friend. It was really pretty, but it wasn't coffee harvesting season, or whatever, so the focus was on the cows. For lunch that day, we had skewered meat and veggies with mashed potatoes, pea soup, and blackberries with cream. For dinner we went to JP's Rum Bar and had fries and a coke. That night, we made a fire in the fireplace inside our bedroom. It took a while to get it going. I think the wood was moist. I hate the word moist. The rest of the trip, our room smelled like campfire.
Sunday, August 2
This morning, I read while Sarah attended a mass at a local church. Weirdo. For lunch, we went to Epicure and I had a cheeseburger. We did some shopping. For dinner, we went to El Pescador Italiano. I ordered a pizza. We waited a long time for our food. They finally delivered Sarah and Brighton's food, but not mine. They then explained (in Spanish) that my first pizza was "destroyed." Haha! They literally used that word...well, it was Spanish, so they said "destruida." I wonder how it was destroyed?? We're guessing they burned it. So a million years later I finally got my pizza. I also referenced a painting in the restaurant that we apparently
found either really weird or hilarious. Probably both. But I don't really remember it. My notes say, "Cross on face--painting." Sarah? Brighton? Anyone remember this?

Monday, August 3
We left for Panajachel this morning, which is where Lake Atitlan is. According to Wikipedia (that statement always makes me laugh), "The lake is volcanic in origin, filling an enormous caldera formed in an eruption 84,000 years ago. It is renowned as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, and Aldous Huxley famously wrote of it: 'Lake Como, it seems to me, touches on the limit of permissibly picturesque, but Atitlan is Como with additional embellishments of several immense volcanoes. It really is too much of a good thing.'"

We had a horrible van ride was super bumpy. The music the driver played was hilarious, and included "Sky rockets in flight...afternoon delight" and some horrible country song I can't recall right now...Sarah? What was it? We stayed at Hotel Dos Mundos, which was nice. We walked around the lake, which was beautiful and is surrounded by volcanoes. For lunch we ate at El Bistro. I wanted ravioli, but apparently they didn't have any. So I got spaghetti. It was pretty gross. We were harassed by a 3-legged dog that seriously freaked Sarah out. We then walked around another hotel that had all kinds of hammocks up, and relaxed in the hammocks and had a few drinks. We went shopping, and I finally bought stuff! I got 3 stuffed animal things for the nieces and future nephew (who was born the next day), a hammock, and a purse. The purse and hammock were both $11. The animals were a couple bucks each.

For dinner we went to Sunset Cafe, and it was beautiful. We saw the sunset with the lake and volcanoes in the background. Plus, we got to watch 3 young guys wearing panama hats sketch the view. Sarah was mildly obsessed. Or maybe not so mildly. We shared a burrito, fajitas, and chips and salsa. Later that night we got crepes. Yummers.

Tuesday, August 4
Today we took a taxi to a Reserve nearby, where they have a zip-line canopy tour that we went on. It was AWESOME. We ziplined over super high heights. And saw monkeys. For lunch we ate at some random place where I got a gross jamon y queso sandwich. We then shopped and sat by the hotel pool. We then took the van back to Antigua, and later had dinner at Cafe Flor. I got yellow curry and a brownie. Back in the USA, Sam the Nephew was born!

Wednesday, August 5
It was a crappy-ish day. We did some shopping, and watched So You Think You Can Dance. We had chiles rellenos for lunch, and pizza for dinner. We had to get up hella early the next day to leave for Tikal.