Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Island Chewing Gum Built

Last weekend, my trusty travel buddy, Beck, and I kicked off our shoes and hung our hat on the beautiful Santa Catalina Island. I have visited the island before but this trip, I learned much and saw areas that I hadn't before. We took a scenic 10 mile bike ride from the top of the mountain down into Avalon. Here are some fun facts that I learned about Catalina:

🚵 The first people who lived on the island were American Indians named "Tongva".

🚵 In 1919, William Wrigley, Jr. bought the island. Yes, that Wrigley. As in Wrigley gum. Wrigley field. He also owned the Chicago Cubs and the team used the island for spring training. We spent some time in the local shops and you know what? They sell Wrigley gum, Juicy Fruit and Spearmint.

🚵 Buffalo inhabit the island. They were brought over in order to realize their true calling as movie extras in the 1924 film, "The Vanishing American" and the crew left them there to live out their days and procreate at will.

🚵 In fact, the island is often used for filming. Other films that shot on and around the island are, "Jaws", "The Hunt For Red October", and "The Amistad"

🚵 During WWII tourism came to a halt and threatened the economy. To save it, the island was used for military purposes where they trained special forces soldiers and Frogmen.

🚵 Marilyn Monroe lived on the island twice. First as a 15 year old and then again after she was married.

And now, enjoy some great shots I got along the bike tour ride.

 They are hard to see, but there is a whole herd of buffalo on this hill.
 Standing in front off and far away from the buffalo.
 The island had incredible scenery. It was such a great day out. Our tour guide, Randy drove us up the mountain and dropped us off at the airport.
 Super old plane at the airport that we started our bike ride at.

 Randy was full of great information and anecdotes about the island. The above picture I took at a location that the locals refer to as The Wall. Like The Wall of China. Personally, I think the green rolling hills are reminiscent of Scotland.
 There were some challenging areas on our ride but we made it look so easy.
Beck told me to point, so I did.
 Ugh! How beautiful is this little river. It was one of my favorite points.

 There were wild flowers all over the mountain. Supposedly, there are foxes. Foxes that are the smallest in the world. Randy said your average house cat is bigger than the local foxes. I looked and looked but never saw one. I'm starting to think it was a Snipe hunt.

 The harbor from above.
 The building through the trees is the casino.
 This is the Holly Hill House. According to Randy, the builder of the home, Peter Gano, originally called it "Look Out Cottage". He built the home for his fiancé but then she decided that she didn't want to live on the island so she left him and it broke poor Peter's heart leading him to post a "No Women Allowed" sign on the property. 
 I never get sick of Palm Trees.

I haven't properly given Randy his due. He was such a great driver. He is the kind of person you want showing you around. He grew up on the island and when he talks about it's history he has that passion that locals can't help but exude when they talk about their home. 

He was a little rough around the edges and said things like, "My wife is a deer hunter" and "My granddaughter cussed when she was 8 years old and I was so impressed that she had the infliction of the words right!" She successfully pronounced Mother F------r and filled her grandfather with pride.

Another quick fact, Catalina is where the Girl Scouts first camped and still have a ground that is visited throughout the year but troops. The Boy Scouts also take advantage of the grounds.

Other fun things Beck and I did were shopping, eating yummy local food, getting ice cream and discussing the possibility of us owning a boat.

Susan "Land Ho!" B.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

I Can Do Hard Things

I took a micro stay-cation this past weekend. You know, explore new avenues, seek after dreams, and go on a new adventure. I drove to Santa Clarita for a quick 24-hour trip. I follow this guy on Twitter and he holds voice over workshops every first Saturday of the month. Voice over work happens to be my dream job so I decided I needed to attend and see what it was all about.

My first exploration took me to a cute little soda shop diner called Route 66 Grill. For a Friday night, it was not very busy. The food was good, the prices were fair and the ambience was nostalgic. I really enjoyed it. It was a little dark inside. I had to use my phone flashlight to read the menu. But, my waitress was super great!

The next morning, I rose early and drove to a ranch where the workshop was held. It was in the home of the Twitter man that I follow. I got SUPER lost on my way there and ended up on a road with the same name as the road that I should have been on. As proof that there is human kindness in existence in 2017, a very kind real estate agent that noticed I was lost in the one horse area and took time out of his open house to help me. He used his phone and drove to my destination while I followed. Truly kind. 

The workshop was time well spent. I learned about the different jobs that are available for voice over professionals. My dream involves being a cartoon voice over. It was a really good educational workshop. We were given the opportunity to read an ad into a microphone so that the Twitter man could tell us what we were doing right and wrong and he gave a lot of constructive criticism.

 I had been so nervous to go to this workshop and do the things that were asked of me. But, before I left, I used the bathroom and saw this commemorative plate hanging on the wall. It brought me such peace. It's funny how something that probably cost $24.99, could validate my micro trip.

Honing my craft.

So, once the workshop was over I did a little local exploring. It turns out that Twitter man lives across the street-ish from Vasquez Rock Natural Area Park. I felt very in and out of my element. What I mean to say, I hiked around and explored and look at new areas of the earth that I had never seen and it felt good. It felt good to look at somewhere foreign. However, I was unprepared for the elements. Hiking around, I didn't have the right shoes on, I wasn't wearing work out clothes, my hair was down and blowing in the wind. It just wasn't ideal for the adventure, but I made the most of it.

At first, I was just going to walk around, but I began to grow jealous of everyone climbing the rocks and hiking the trails so I draped my Betsey Johnson purse around my torso, laced my Vans a little tighter and began to climb. It wasn't enough for me to see things from the ground. I need to see it from on high, which is weird, because I have a fear of heights.

I have a mantra. Whenever I find myself doing things that I don't want to do or that seem way over my head, I tell myself, "I can do hard things". And I did. I scaled a rock wall and climbed to the highest point that I could and looked down on the world.

If it looks familiar, it should. It's the location where numerous movies and TV shows have filmed. For a full list click here. Just to name a few movies: Alpha Dog, Holes, Little Miss Sunshine, Planet of the Apes, and 3 Star Trek movies. 
Some TV shows that have filmed there: 24, The Big Bang Theory, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Friends, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, New Girl, and the Twilight Zone to name a few.

All in all it was a great trip, I learned a lot, I saw a lot and I had a good time.

Susan "Looking Down On Creation" B.

Monday, January 30, 2017

This One's For You

A letter of my choice.

Dear friends, family and other blog readers,

This is my last letter for January. I've really enjoyed this writing challenge. It feels good to tap into this part of my brain and to push myself to think of words. Something I would do differently is give a little more thought to each one. I really only had about 24 hours to think about what I would write and reflecting back, I wish I had a little more thinking time. Something I enjoyed was the comments left on my Facebook and Twitter posts and the couple that I got on my blog.

Thank you for reading. I'm going to take tomorrow off and hopefully find something new to write about for the month of February.



Susan "I Had Nothing To Offer Anybody Except My Own Confusion" B.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Today Was A Good Day

Write a letter to your day.

Dear January 29, 2017,

Today was a good day. Not very different from any other Sunday. The weather was great! After all the rain and awful wind, it was a clear, beautiful, 75 degree day. Perfect. Well, I've been watching Parenthood on Netflix and LOVING it. What a great show. I started off my day with an episode and got myself ready for church. I also enjoyed preparing my favorite crock pot chicken tortilla soup. YUM! It made the whole house smell incredible.

Church was long. What did I learn? Um, Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam. I don't know. I'm drawing a blank. Church has become very difficult to sit through lately. But, I'm not sure what else to do if I don't go so, I went.

I'm all ready to go to work tomorrow. Lunch is packed, kitchen is clean and I am enjoying a few more episodes of Parenthood. Why did no one tell me about this show when it was on TV?

I have one more letter to write tomorrow and then I will have completed the letter writing challenge. I'm sad. I'm not sure what to do for February but I'll figure something out. I really enjoy writing. Maybe a post everyday is a little much but I really enjoyed pushing myself to put words to page.

Well, Sunday, it's been real.

Susan "Netflix Sans Chill" B.

Saturday, January 28, 2017


A letter to someone you barely know who has impacted you in some way.

This is so difficult. Writing everyday. I have really enjoyed this challenge but there have been moments where I just don't want to think about it or I get too tired to bust it out. Anyway, I racked my brain for more than an hour with this one, but I know who I want to write to. The thing is, I know her more than "barely". However, I haven't see her since I went to London to walk with my graduating class.

Dear Helen,

You were an answer to my prayers. I felt very alone and scared when I first lived in London and when I first went to the Hyde Park ward. I didn't know anyone. I really wanted to feel accepted and needed but it just seemed like no one really knew anyone since the ward was so transient.

It's been five years since we met and I felt an instant connection with you. You were like this instant friend to me. You understood me. You opened up your home to me and made me feel okay about the flaws that I have. When I moved back to the U.S., I was heart broken. I was heart broken over leaving London and I was heart broken leaving such a great friend like you.

Being around you a Tim made me feel hopeful. The love and respect that you two have for each other is so evident. I hope that I find someone who looks at me, the way Tim looks at you. I'm so happy for the both of you and your cute, growing family. I don't think I can fully express how grateful I am to have met you. I often think of the next time we will see each other in person. No matter where you live in the world, I will visit you. I don't want the last time that I saw you, to be the last time that I ever see you again.

I miss you terribly,


Susan "From The Other Side Of THe Pond" B.

Friday, January 27, 2017

My Heroes

A letter to your idol, hero or someone you look up to.

This letter is ridiculously hard to write. I'm trying not to have repeat recipients. The truth is, I don't really "idolize" anyone. I look up to everyone, cause I'm only 5'1". Ba duh da! I'm here all week folks, try the veal! Also, I try really hard to be my own person without outside influences. But that doesn't mean that I don't have people in my life that I admire, or yes, look up to.

So, to narrow down who to write to, I asked myself, "who would I want by my side during the Zombie Apocalypse?" Well, of course, my family, cause I know they'll have my back and we're pretty much like the Incredibles when it comes to fighting crime/zombies. More specifically, both my sisters-in-law.

Dear Christa and Abby,

You are both strong, courageous, smart, funny ladies and both my brothers hit the jackpot when they married the two of you. I see the sacrifices you make for your families and for your friends. You are both well-rounded and dependable.

I've learned so much from both of you. I learned to be generous with my tolerance and love for others. I learned to be more gracious and grateful. I learned that it's so fun and I love to receive and send hand written thank-you notes. We've shared recipes, home-remedies, laughs and tears.

You both have everything that I want in life. I admire and I'm in awe of the incredible patience you have with your children (and my brothers). The two of you make me aspire to be a better person.

So, thank you and I love you.


Susan "Double Tap" B.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Stranger Danger

A letter to a stranger.

Well, this might be my weirdest letter yet.

A few years back, before I moved to London, I regularly went roller skating a few cities away. I learned how to roller skate when I was three and I've loved it ever since. I went to all the skate parties my elementary school had at Dave's California Skate. I still miss that place. Anyway, I decided to start roller skating again because I wanted a different and fun way to get in my cardio. So, on Tuesday nights I would drive to Grand Terrace and take advantage of their $2 skate night. I just re-read all of that and I'm realizing how lame I sound. This is kinda embarrassing.

Okay, so here is the real dirt. There was a young girl that I saw regularly. She was your average pre-teen girl. She often wore a Hello Kitty backpack that I thought was totally unhip, but what do I know? Here is the weird part. I felt oddly protective of her. I would see her and I would hope that she had a good home life. I would hope that she was thriving in school and that she had good influences to guide her daily. These feelings always confused me. I have no idea why I felt this way about a complete stranger who was more than half my age. I have never experienced that kind of concern for any other stranger. I often wonder how life turned out for her. I hope well.

Dear Hello Kitty backpack sportin' roller girl,

You are really good at backwards skate. I've been trying to perfect it for years but I just can't get the speed or confidence that you have. Uh, you don't me which isn't weird because I don't know you either but I hope you are well. Are you happy? I mean, I hope your parents are good to you. I'm sure they are, they let you go roller skating regularly so, how bad can they be, right?

I suppose by now you have probably graduated high school. Do you have any plans for college? Look, I don't know why I felt so protective of you. I'm not a stalker and I never wanted to take you home or anything. I just wanted to be sure that you had everything you needed to be successful in life. Yeah, I know that's weird. I don't really understand it myself.

I hope you are well,

Crazy old roller skating lady

Susan "Want Some Candy Little Girl" B.