- Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Marisa is doing great and recovering under my watchful eye. She's a little woozy from the anethesia, but is bouncing back pretty well. The doctor this morning said everything appeared in good shape. We'll see him again before we head back to Seattle the middle of next week (May 8th or 9th).

BTW - if anyone knows of someone interested in a used '97 Subaru Outback wagon, we have ours For Sale - check out this page I made to help sell it -
http://www.theharalsons.com/subaru.html - Dave

  - Thursday, April 25, 2002

Luckily Marisa's surgery has been postponed until next week. I was able to find a great deal on Southwest Airlines Rapid Reward passes so I could fly down to Austin. I think I'm going to leave on Sunday. That gives me a few more days down here in Camas. Incidentally the Seattle Lacrosse Club (my old team) is going to be in Portland for the PNLA lacrosse tournament this weekend so I will be sure to stop by on Saturday to watch. - D

I'm pretty bummed that my sinus cavity needs to be Roto Rootered again, but if it will enable me to feel normal and go running again, I'm all for it! Hanging out in Austin this week while catching up with friends and not having to work has been fantastic. However, I'm starting to get VERY excited about going to Europe and have been surfing the web looking for interesting volunteer opportunites while we are there -- teaching English, Bartending, working in a wildlife preserve.. Who knows what we'll end up doing!

  - Monday, April 22, 2002

Well I (Dave) spent the weekend hanging out with my friends from my old lacrosse club. They had a game on Saturday & Sunday so I had great time hanging out with all for that. I also spent the weekend staying @ my old roommate Hugh's house (thanks). Hugh and I went to dinner that night with James Bach (congrats on the recent engagement to Kelly, 'bout time) at one of our favorite haunts the Nickerson Street Saloon in Seattle.

I then spent a few more days back at my parent's house in Bellevue, until we found out that I had to make a quick trip down to Austin to be with Marisa. We found out she had to have another round of Sinus surgery. So I packed up Heimo and took Chuy back down to Camas so Jen & Jon could take care of her for me. I then spent the better part of the next day trying to find a cheap last minute fare down to Austin.

I (Marisa) spent most of Saturday with my girlfriends (Lisa, Lory, Stacy, and Pam) drinking margaritas at several Mexican joints. What a fun day! We ended up on 6th Street early in the morning having pizza for breakfast. MMMMM....

  - Friday, April 19, 2002

We headed up to Bellevue to see Dave's parents. It was great hanging out for a few days and having someone cook for you (Thanks Mom!). On Friday the 19th it was Carolyn's Birthday (Dave's Mom) and Jen & Jon came up from Camas to come to dinner with everyone. Mom chose PF Changs for some good asian food and her favorite lettuce chicken wraps. On Saturdy the 20th Marisa went back down to Austin to take care of a few things. Dave was able to go watch his old teammates play lacrosse.

  - Thursday, April 18, 2002

We hung out in Camas for a few days prior to making our way to Seattle. It was nice to relax , hang with Jon & Jen, and get some laundry done. The dogs did great together, with Chuy teaching the much younger Guinness a few things about being a dog in this world. Unfortunately Chuy is not the brightest bulb in the pack. She continues to get her butt kicked on a daily basis by Jon & Jen's cat. It was nice taking the pooches to the park and just relaxing. Check out Lord of the Rings - great story and cinematography.

  - Wednesday, April 17, 2002

On Tueday afternoon we ventured north from SF and connected with the coast via 101. The traffic north of the city up until way north of Rohnert Park was bumper to bumper so we took a lot longer than expected. We found a great park near just south of the Arcata area. Heimo was parked next to trees that were about as wide as he is. The next morning after breakfast, we explored the park and found that the Eel River passed through one edge. It was a great spot and Dave would have loved to go fishing. We did let Chuy go smimming a little and play fetch. After that we continued up the coast through the Arcata/Humbolt area. As we rolled through Crescent City and found a Wal-Mart to replace our broken cooler.

As we crossed into Oregon the weather continued to be generally crappy. So we again had to camp with the top down which makes things a little tight in the van. Anyway a great camp spot with hot showers and electrical hookups. We got to use our toaster oven, what a luxury. It was raining so we got up the next day and kept moving up the coast continuing our beautiful drive. Lunch was at the Pelican Pub & Brewery in Pacific City, OR. This was no ordinary lunch. Yes, we had good food and a great brew, but there was plenty of action.

Evidently, in what has to be some of the crappiest surfing weather ever (20 + mph winds and no sun) two guys were out trying to catch some waves. One of them lost his board and was caught floating in the riptide and couldn't make it back to shore. His friend made it in and called the local fire rescue squad. Meanwhile, this is all taking place outside the Brew Pub and we had a front seat show. The local rescuers showed up and proceeded to put 2 guys in out in the water on their jet ski to go out and get the guy. On the first try they realized the guy was ok and that they needed some additional gear for the rescue. They rode back to shore and picked up the equipment and took off again. As they were approaching the surfer they were hit by a pretty good size wave and tossed off their ride. We're not sure where the jet ski ended up, but the two rescuers were pushed by the tide toward the rocky shoreline side of the bay.

At this point Marisa and I figure that these guys are in trouble. Then along comes the USCG rescue helicopter from Lincoln City, with a diver hanging off the side to pick up these two unfortunate local boys. The chopper picks them up first, drops them off on the beach, and then retrieves the surfer, again landing on the beach. This is evidently a big deal around these parts to have the fire department and the Coast Guard hanging out together because it seemed like all the people in town came down to the beach to watch the show. It was interesting to watch all this go down. I'd sure like to know what happened to the rescue jet ski though. It's probably being scrapped for parts by a guy on the beach in Japan.

Well, after the lunch time fireworks, we traveled the last 2 hrs up to the Portland/Vancouver area arriving a day early to suprise Dave's brother (Jon) and sister in law (Jen) and their dog Guiness (7 mnth old Chocolate Lab).

  - Tuesday, April 16, 2002

After leaving LA, we were excited to take the beautiful drive up the PCH to San Francisco and spend some quality time camping in Heimo. Our 1st stop was Los Osos (near Morro Bay/SLO) where we pulled into the pitch black campground late in the evening and were rewarded with a primo spot near the outhouse. woo hoo! It turned out to be a HUGE State park with limited camping facilities, leaving the former coastal ranchland uncrowded and relatively untouched. Heimo performed well of course, and we were rewarded with a great night's sleep and a hot Heimo-cooked meal of soup (again!).

We continued up the PCH the following day entertained by a very intersting book tape and begrudingly left Heimo to stop at the Visitors Center at the Hearst Castle/San Simeon. Unfortunately, all the tours of the castle were booked for the day, but we did take a liesurely stroll through the museum. Very interesting... We plan to revisit next time we are in the area. One great thing about Heimo is the ability to stop at any random scenic overlook for lunch. This was one of those days as we stopped at a state picnic spot right on the beach. We tied Chuy (the dog) up to the car on her long leash and went about cooking a great lunch on the shores of the Pacific. We continued listening to our book tape, soaked up the scenery, and relaxed for a while. This is what we have been trying to do for weeks.................

That night we found the last spot at the coolest campground on the planet (at least to us so far!). We were right on a cliff overlooking the Pacific. At sunset we hiked down to beach with Chuy and watched the sea otters play in the kelp beds. We cooked a great dinner and sat by the campfire looking at the stars. The folks in the campsite kept us entertained with great 80's music up until quiet time of 10 o'clock. Then next morning we got moving pretty early as we wanted to get to SF prior to sundown. Our trip continued up throught Big Sur area (definitely going back here for more camping/hiking, etc) and into the town of Monterey for lunch. Marisa and I ate on the Marina and watched Sea Lions devour some old bait from some of the fishing boats. Quite entertaining.

The second half of our day we continued up the beautiful PCH highway to SF with plans to camp just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Well, the campsites aren't for car camping so we had to scratch that idea. We ended up pulling the van up on a quiet street in Sausalito down by the marinas. On Monday we had breakfast with Ron Porter (Chuy's original Dad) and compared notes on our Campers. It ends up that our vans (the same color) went through the Westfalia factory in Germany the same month back in 1990. How weird, such a small world. He let us use his house to shower and do laundry, which was a welcome relief since we hadn't showered in 2 or more days.

Later that day we met up with Julie Phillips and her boyfriend Brent in SF for dinner. We had some great Asian food and got to catch up. We stayed with her for a couple of days. She offered to take Chuy while we go to Europe but we're not sure what Ollie (her cat) has to say about that. I'm sure Chuy will get a few smacks in the nose. Tomorrow we are off up the coast on our way to the Portland area to visit with Dave's brother Jon and his wife Jen. More later.

  - Monday, April 15, 2002

After leaving LV twice (forgot the skis the first time), we took several hours driving to the oasis of Rancho Cucamonga, CA (better know as Rancho Relaxo by it's chief resident Greg Larratt). We stayed through the weekend at the plush Chez Larratt and watched DVD's on his sweet home entertainment system and ate for 3 straight days. The smog was so thick (like fog, couldn't see the mountains 5-10 miles away) that we didn't feel motivated get outside and exercise. Thanks Greg!

Our next adventure was navigating the perpetually crappy LA traffic on route to visit our friends Margot & David and their baby Isabella (cute and the best behaved baby on the planet) Ocanas who live in Hollywood. The journey took us down Hollywood Blvd past the camera-toting tourists visiting the Walk of Fame & Mann's Chinese Theater. It's not as exciting or big as it appears on E!, but I can see why our friends moved there. We felt like we were in NYC as people were walking around late and stores and shops were open until all hours. They have a great apartment right on Hollywood Blvd that felt like a bed & breakfast -- lots of space and beautiful garden patio & hammock. Our visit lasted three relaxing days complete with good company, yummy food and a walk/hike in two local parks (still very smoggy).

We took a side trip to Manhattan Beach to see the Pacific and grab some lunch. Luck was with us as the smog and clouds cleared off and we enjoyed sunny warm temps and a nice breeze off the ocean. Our next trip back to LA will be longer as we would like to do more exploring of the beach towns and the city.

Up till now, this trip has seemed more like an extended vacation visiting family & friends. It's starting to hit home that we aren't going back to work for quite a while. That is, if we are able to stick to our budget plan and continue to enjoy Ramen noodles and cans of soup in our van instead of going out to Mexican 4x's a week. You'd think that we'd have ample time to plan extensively our next journey (Europe), but with constantly being on the road there isn't much time to be productive planners and take advantage of the internet. We are heading to Seattle to see Dave's family & friends and hope to have enough down time to plan a significant portion of the next 9 months. This next part of our adventure will see us heading to Europe in late May until September/October followed by a return to the US for a short road trip. We will then be heading to Australia/New Zealand or South America from November/December until mid-Spring of 2003.

  - Monday, April 08, 2002

The drive from Steamboat Springs, Co. to Las Vegas was uneventful despite the splendor of passing through the Colorado Front Range. The only major city we passed through was Grand Junction in which we spent the night in the front parking lot of a VW Mechanic! We also shipped ~1/2 of our clothes home in order to make the van more livable.

Using our 2001 Eddie Bauer Map (thanks Mom!), we found Freemont Indian State Park about 165 miles west of the Colorado/Utah border. There was not a car in sight at 11pm as we drove 10 miles outside town to find the deserted campground. The empty, seemingly non-descript campground, was wonder of nature once we awoke in the morning. The terrain around the park resembled photos we’ve seen of Bryce Canyon-giant stalagmites everywhere! We were hoping to get some time in skiing on our way to Vegas since our health was finally restored. After barely making it up the pass in Brian Head, Utah (Heimo was a bit altitude-challenged), we took one look at the slushy snow and decided to power on to Vegas and ski later in our trip.

Greeted by the lights of the Las Vegas Strip at about 10:30pm, we rolled into Linda & Joel’s (Marisa’s mom/step-dad) new home a day early to surprise Marisa’s mom. Our arrival in Vegas coincided with Joel’s arrival in Vegas to live permanently after commuting back and forth from Houston for the past 9 months. We spent our time helping organize, unpack, and of course with computer stuff. We were also lucky enough to get to spend some quality time with Linda’s cousins Michael & Barbara who had come in for a week’s visit. Coincidentally, Marisa’s dad and step-mom (Mike & Barb—also!) were in Vegas visiting Barb’s mom. We had a great week with family.

Highlights of Vegas include:

- Hiking Red Rock Canyon with Joel
- Water aerobics with Mom (not Dave!)
- Dave’s 1st visit to the strip—Mom, Joel, and pastrami at The Stage Deli
- Hiking at the Nature preserve with Dad, Barb, and Barb’s mom
- Dave’s 2nd visit to the strip—included several drinks to ease the harshness of the Vegas lights as well as a chance meeting with Dad & Barb for a great dinner
- And of course, 1st night of Passover at a Casino Seder with 600 over-the-hill retirees. Dave sang 3 songs (must’ve been the Maneschevitz) but refused the gefilte fish yet again.

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