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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Merry Crashmas!

I haven't blogged in 10 days not because I had nothing to say, but because there was much to be done before the holidays so blogging got shoved to the back burner. What also got shoved to the back (though to the engine and not the burner) was the radiator in my car. On the Tuesday before Christmas, my car decided that it wanted to rearrange the engine compartment by hydroplaning and crashing into the car in front of me. Just a quick note - that is a good way to rearrange the engine compartment should you need to do that.

The hood of my car was dented, the lights pulled out, and the radiator pushed in toward the engine. I am grateful that the hydroplaning occurred after I had braked at a light so there wasn't a great deal of speed involved. I am also grateful that I was not hurt at all and that the car in front of me wasn't damaged nor was the driver injured at all. I have wonderful family and friends, all of whom checked up on me after I posted about the accident on Facebook. Thank you all!

I was cited for failure to control speed and my car was towed. Dear Husband picked me up and I returned home to concentrate on the upcoming holiday. Christmas was low-key and a lot of fun. We spent Christmas Eve with the in-laws and then Christmas Day found us at home with my Dad, who had come from San Antonio on Wednesday. We opened gifts in the morning. The doggers received coats from my mother in Oregon. They wore them all day and loved it because it was cold out so it was like having a permanent blanket for them.

Later in the afternoon, we had a delicious turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Dear Husband's friend, Brad, came over to enjoy the dinner with us and my friend, Angel, joined us later in the evening. We had a fun night of dessert and games. We played Apples to Apples, and Scruples. Both games were a lot of fun and a great way to spend the evening with friends and family.

Saturday found Dear Husband helping a friend so Dad and I headed to the movies to see Sherlock Holmes. It was FANTASTIC! Dad and I are both huge fans of Sherlock Holmes and all mysteries really so it was awesome to see the movie with him. We finished the afternoon with lunch at WhatABurger and Dad then headed home to San Antonio. It was so nice to have him here for the holidays. I enjoy spending time with my Dad.

Since Saturday, I've been slowly returning the house to its pre-holiday state. I am putting away decorations, gifts, etc. I didn't put up a lot of decorations this year so that makes clean-up a little easier. We are getting ready for a wonderful new year and I cannot wait!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Random Thoughts: Round II

As promised in my last blog, here are Random Thoughts: Round II.

Last night, I was listening to a CD on my portable DVD player. It cut off at one point and I didn't understand why. I turned it off and back on - you know, the standard solution for any electronics problem - and that didn't work. So I took the CD out and put it back in, still nothing. I was thinking it was broken. That's when I realized the problem. It wasn't plugged in. Yeah...it had been working off the battery, which had died. Not being plugged in...I hear that's a common problem. :)

Yesterday morning when I woke up, I had to pee, which is usually the case in the morning. I didn't want to get out of the cozy, warm bed to go to the bathroom so I figured I could just hold it and catch an hour or so more of sleep. Yeah...that has never, ever worked in the past. Why is it that every single morning I have that exact same thought like somehow my body is finally going to say "Sure, hold it for awhile, no problem."

I find it interesting how a group of strangers can find solidarity while waiting in line at the post office. One guy will mention that more postal workers are needed to deal with the line and the rest of the group will pipe up and join the crusade. Before you know it, you have 14 people of all different ages, nationalities, and religions joining in the fight. This also occurs at banks and in airport lines.

I think it should be an unwritten rule of the universe that no one is allowed to die on major holidays or on their family members' birthdays. How much would it suck to have Uncle Gary keel over on Christmas Day? Sort of removes the whole peace on earth, joy to the world theme, you know? I once read a story about a man whose young daughter was murdered on his birthday. I'm thinking that day has lost all meaning for that man, which is very sad.

With the advent of cell phones, Facebook, and e-mail, it amazes me how many people still have trouble communicating with others in a timely manner. This happens in business and personal relationships. Is it really so hard to send even a one or two line e-mail acknowledging receipt of something? I was talking to a friend of mine who said she had sent some questions to a business associate who expects her to have a project completed by a certain deadline, but apparently the business associate can't bother to answer her e-mail in a timely manner. I don't get it. At least acknowledge you've received the questions and give a time line of when you can answer them or something. A message in a bottle has a faster delivery than some people with access to computers and Blackberries.

That is all, for now. I am sure Random Thoughts: Round III will make an appearance before the year is out or shortly thereafter.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Random

Welcome to another round of Random Thoughts! These are things I occasionally think about or that occur to me out of the blue. There are no transitions between the thoughts, hence it being called "Random."

I need to take the annual Christmas picture of our family. I should have done it before now and gotten the cards made and mailed, but I didn't. So our friends/family will be receiving Christmas cards pretty close to the actual date of the holiday. I'm OK with that.

I finished my final final exam for the semester today. I am REALLY glad to be done with classes so I can stop feeling guilty about procrastinating on my school work. I wonder if there really is a cure for procrastination. I always feel better when I get something done in advance, but I never seem to remember that feeling when it comes to completing projects. Something about the realization that "OH MY GOD, I need to finish this by tomorrow" produces adrenaline that allows me to get it done. Maybe I'm an academic adrenaline junkie? Oh well, we all have our issues.

It annoys me when Dear Husband asks me if he can pick up something from the store for me and I tell him and then he questions me about it. For example, I asked him to pick up Band-Aids tonight and he said "Didn't I just do that? Have you used all the Band-Aids?" Um, you know what? You asked and I answered so just get the Band-Aids, OK? The third degree is annoying.

Along with the above is when he asks me for my opinion on what he is going to wear. I refuse to give my thoughts on that anymore because he will invariably say "Really, I like this one (whichever one I did not choose)." Don't ask me then. If you know what you like, wear it.

I wish people would take it seriously when I tell them what I want for Christmas. I do not care if you buy me a gift at all, but if you're going to, please get me something useful like stamps. Seriously, stamps would be great. I use a lot of them so they would be appreciated. Gift cards, donations to an animal charity in my name, or food products are good too. I don't expect gifts and like I said, I don't care if I get them, but if you are going to give them, then follow the recommendations of the person you are planning on giving to.

I find it really sad that people who work very hard and put in long hours beyond what they are paid for are the ones who feel guilty when they are sick and can't come in or when they have to take some time off for personal/family reasons. The boss then starts watching them like a hawk and "reminding" them about personal time in a snotty voice when said person has only taken 10 minutes off in the last two years. Meanwhile, the jerks who call in "sick" every single week and who come in two hours late and leave two hours early are the ones who get promoted. And people wonder why there are workplace shootings?

That's all for now. But Randomness: Round II is already in the making. Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Heat is On

It's officially winter in Houston. Friday, it snowed. Yes, snow in Houston. This has happened before, but it is rare. Amazing to see white flurries coming down in Texas anywhere. It stuck in some places and not in others. We just got the flurries and the frozen ground. Some friends of mine further south got actual snow sticking to the ground. Even without the snow, the heater has been turned on in the house. The official switching from air conditioning to heat is sort of a seminal moment for most people in Houston. Every year, we know it's really winter when we all do that.

Since it is winter now, that must mean Christmas is coming. It's 19 days away and I haven't really done anything to get ready for it. I will start my Christmas cards next week and that is pretty much all I'm going to do. There will be no big gifts this year for anyone because we are tightening our budget. It's just a necessity with the recession we've been through this year. I'm really hoping to have a full-time job by January. It's in God's hands and I know that He has reasons for all that He does so worry has been replaced by faith.

I'm looking forward to the holidays because we will be staying home. Christmas Eve will be spent with my in-laws and Christmas Day, my dad, the hubs, and I will be hosting a "Riff-Raff Christmas Dinner." We're inviting people who don't have anywhere else to go for Christmas Day. It's fun to get a group of people together and have a good time. No one should be alone on the holidays.

Before the holidays come around, I have two exams to complete for school. I'm looking forward to finishing my classes and enjoying a school break.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Beyond Thankful

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving! The hubs and I traveled to San Antonio to spend the holiday with my father and his side of the family. We left Houston on Tuesday night and spent Wednesday hanging out at my dad's house, catching up on sleep, watching TV and just generally relaxing. We also had some fantastic Chinese food at The Fortune Cookie. I worked on a difficult paper for school so that took up some of the evening for me.

Thanksgiving morning found us traveling to the home of my dad's cousin, BG, for the feast. I saw some people I hadn't seen for awhile and I met some new people too. There were four very special guests at the meal that I spent a great deal of time with. Four of the Air Force recruits going through basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio joined us. The base has a program called Operation Homecooking where they match Air Force recruits with local families for holidays so the recruits aren't alone on the holiday. All four of the recruits I met were lovely young women who were so mature and so friendly.

My brother, Kelly, has spent 19 years in the Air Force and he started his career in basic training at Lackland Air Force Base so having those four recruits there was like having a proxy for my brother. Kelly is stationed in Japan right now and has been there for almost four years so we haven't seen him for holidays in quite awhile. It will be nice to have him back in the states next year.

After Thanksgiving, we headed back to my dad's house for much needed rest and relaxation. We watched a movie and I continued to work on my paper. We had planned to leave Friday afternoon. My dad and the hubs went to the shooting range on Friday morning and I ended up sleeping for quite awhile after they left. I really needed that long nap. When they returned, we decided to stay one more night and leave on Saturday. We made it home around 7 on Saturday evening and the hubs went out with his cousin, who was in town. I stayed home to work some more on my paper. Sunday found us at the in-laws house to have dinner and visit with the hubs's aunt and uncle who were here from Maryland.

It was a holiday of traveling, eating, talking, laughing, and having a wonderful time with wonderful people - nothing could be better.

Today, we are celebrating again, but this time it's a birthday. Our precious Peanut turns 3 today. Peanut has been the love and joy of our lives ever since we got her at 8 weeks old. She brings such life and happiness to our home and her birthday is always cause for celebration. She and her brothers, Chip and Norman, will be getting Milk Bones covered in peanut butter as a special birthday treat. HAPPY BIRTHDAY PEANUT!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Winding Down and Winding Up

The school semester is winding down while the holiday season is winding up. I have a major project to finish this week for school and I am hoping to complete it by Thursday so I can enjoy Thanksgiving and then use the weekend for editing before turning it in on Monday. After that is complete there are still a couple of exams, but those are not as difficult as the project. The school semester will wind down in the first week of December, which is when the holiday season will begin winding up.

I've been invited to a few Christmas events throughout the month of December and I'm hoping to be able to go to at least two or three of them. I will be attending my friend's (PF) Ugly Christmas Sweater party for the first time since I couldn't make it last year. PF does it every year and everyone comes wearing their ugliest Christmas attire. It should be a blast. Plus, my friend is a little over 20 weeks pregnant and I haven't seen her in person since she announced the pregnancy so I'm looking forward to seeing her.

The other event I am going to try and make it to is my friend's (EL) cookie decorating party. She has people drop in for a four-hour time period to decorate and eat cookies, as well as visit with one another. I went a couple of years ago, but again didn't get a chance to go last year. EL and her husband adopted an adorable little boy who was born on Christmas Day in 2007. I haven't seen him for awhile so it will be nice to see how he's grown and changed.

We'll be spending Christmas with Dear Husband's family this year. We're spending Thanksgiving with my dad and his side of the family in San Antonio. So there's a little bit of traveling for the holidays, but I'm looking forward to it! I love to see my dad's family and catch up with them since I don't see them that often.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

School Spirit - Family Ties

When you go to a university, you become part of a family that goes back several generations. Past members of the family walked the same grounds you do, took the same classes, and lived in the same dorms. Present members do the same thing alongside you. Being a member of this family is something you can take pride in and those family ties are something that bind you to every past, current, and future member of the family.

I attended the University of Oregon, home of the Ducks. I have a great deal of pride in being an alumni of that school. I will always proudly wear the green and yellow. I will always cheer on my team, despite the fact that I haven't lived in Oregon for many years. I will always be excited when I see another person wearing an Oregon shirt or hat. It's a tie to my school, my family. The traditions, the mascot, the campus tie us all together and provide a common link and bond to an experience that can never be equaled or taken away from us.

This understanding of university family is what makes me pray tonight for the Texas A&M family. The Aggies are an interesting bunch. I am friends with several of them and they have more school spirit and pride than any other group I've ever known. Tonight, the Aggies mark 10 years since the collapse of the traditional bonfire that killed 12 students and injured many more.

Aggie bonfire had been a tradition at the school since 1909. You can learn more about bonfire by clicking this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aggie_Bonfire. Suffice it to say that bonfire, like many other things at A&M, was steeped in a great deal of tradition and pride for the Aggies. Unfortunately, in addition to being a symbol of the strength of Aggie tradition, it also became a symbol of untold grief.

On November 18, 1999, at approximately 2:42 a.m., the 40-foot stack of 5000 logs that made up the bonfire collapsed, trapping and killing 12 students who had been working on the stack at the time. A day-long rescue effort ensued with the help of Aggies and several rescue teams from all over the state. University of Texas, the Aggies chief rival, joined in the effort to honor those who died in the construction of bonfire. Rivalries take second place to the human need to comfort those in mourning.

10 years have passed and the pain dims, but it will always remain. It is not something you get over, it is something you get used to. You continue to live your life, but always with the small hole in your heart honoring your family members who are no longer here to live their own lives. Tonight, I pray for the Aggie family as a whole and especially for those 12 who gave their lives doing something they loved - showing their pride in their school and their commitment to their University family.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Busy Bee

It's been a very busy weekend. Dear Husband was out of town from Friday afternoon to this evening. He was working in Dallas so it was just me and the doggers for the weekend. Friday night I had dinner with a friend and helped her sort out some work issues. Saturday, I went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond to buy a bridal shower gift and then I attended said bridal shower Saturday evening. That was fun because my friend, A, was there too. Her husband was working with my husband out of town so we had a chance to catch up and chat. Today found me at my book club meeting and tomorrow I will be at a meeting for a board I sit on. WHEW.

The rest of this week will be taken up with working on a paper for one of my classes. I'm looking forward to Christmas break, which should begin for me in the first week of December. I need the break. I will only be taking one class next semester since the other one I need is offered at the same time. After I take next semester's class, I can start my practicums (working in the field). I'm excited about that. Little by little, I am getting closer to having M.A. after my name.

In addition to getting my studying done, I've also been doing quite a bit of leisure reading. I just finished Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy. I LOVED IT! I could not put it down. At 596 pages, it's a long novel, but so worth it and the pages just fly by. I highly recommend it. Now, I've got to go find something else to read. I'm torn between a true crime book that I need to finish and another Maeve Binchy. Choices, choices.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Cowboys and Cars

It's been awhile since I've blogged. I've been a bit distracted by car troubles and a long weekend. The latter was fantastic, the former not so much. Over Halloween weekend, I was in San Antonio having a wonderful time with my Dad. I drove up Thursday afternoon and we had a nice dinner at his house and watched some TV. Friday, he took my car to be tuned up at a local mechanic's shop and that evening, we headed out to Golden Corral for dinner and then the Majestic Theatre, where we saw Three Phantoms in Concert.

It was an amazing show! I loved it. Three men, all of whom have played the role of Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, sung a variety of songs from Broadway musicals. They were accompanied by the San Antonio Symphony. It was beautiful music in every way.

Saturday found us sleeping in then getting some dinner from WhataBurger. It was an early night for us because Sunday morning at 5 a.m. we were up and getting ready to head to the airport. We took a flight that morning to Dallas where we saw a Cowboys game up close and personal in the brand new Cowboys stadium. We had the BEST time cheering on our team. Dad and I have matching Cowboys jerseys with our birth year on it and our names on the back. We wore those of course and screamed for our team as they beat the Seattle Seahawks. GO COWBOYS!! We returned that night to San Antonio on the plane. I had to go home to Houston on Monday, which I didn't really want to do. I'd had such a great weekend with Dad and I didn't want it to end. The only positive is that I can look forward to our next get-together now.

After returning to Houston, my car decided to get temperamental on me. My car is 10 years old and has been very well taken care of. In August, I had to have the transmission fixed and then in early October, I had an oxygen sensor replaced. The tune up revealed an Idle Air Control issue so that was taken care of. Then...

Last Monday, I was taking a friend home from work around 9 p.m. and we stopped at a restaurant for her to get something to eat. We came out and my car wouldn't start. At all. It wouldn't even turn over and the Service Engine Soon light was on. Sigh. So my friend has Triple A and she called them to send out a tow truck. The tow truck driver was very nice and he actually got the car to start. He said it seemed to be an issue with the parking brake having been pulled up too high.

I drove my friend home and then returned home myself. The next day, I went to get in the car to pick up my friend for work and you guessed it - it wouldn't start or turn over. Same problem. So I had it towed to a Ford dealership where they found the problem - the Battery Ground Connection wasn't doing its job. It was an easy fix and not too expensive (THANK GOD) so I rescued my car from the dealership and it's driving just fine. However, the Service Engine Soon light is back on and Dear Husband has determined it is the Idle Air Control code that is showing.

This is the same problem that the tune up guys fixed by putting in a new hose and cleaning the IAC valve. Sigh again. Dear Husband cleared the car's computer for me and that should take care of that light. Since the car was recently checked by more than one mechanic, we suspect the Service Engine Light was showing because the computer needed to be cleared. Here's hoping.

P.S. - I just searched the Internet for a picture for the blog and found a site where people were talking about this very problem with their cars. Got a suggestion there that might work - a new gas cap. I'll let you know if it works.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Waiting It Out

This morning, I had a doctor's appointment to renew some prescriptions and check in with my doctor about some minor issues. I made the appointment at 8 a.m. so I could get it done early in the day and not have to worry about it later on. I got my prescriptions and went to Walmart to have them filled.

The pharmacist said it would take 30-40 minutes so I bought a magazine and headed over to the McDonald's that's inside the store. I bought some breakfast and I spent the next half hour relaxing, eating my breakfast, and reading my magazine. This caused me to think about the fact that if more of us had patience, we would have more peace.

People are so eager to get things done, get in, get out, move, move, move! How much better would it be if we used the time we have to wait to bring some peace to our day? I am always cognizant of using my waiting time wisely to relax and have some rest in what is generally a very busy day. For example, I always have a book or magazine in my bag. If I have to wait in line at the post office, I read the magazine or listen to my iPod. If I have to wait in traffic (which is the norm here in Houston), I either have a book on tape or a magazine in the car that I can read until traffic gets moving again. And just to be clear - I am NOT advocating that you read while you are driving. That is dangerous and ridiculous. I'm talking about when you're stuck in non-moving traffic or you are at a particularly long red light.

The other thing I highly recommend in terms of using your wait time wisely is to get some rest. While I was waiting in the exam room for the doctor, I sat in the chair in the office and propped my feet up on the stand at the bottom of the exam table and closed my eyes. I rested for about five minutes before the doctor came in. How many of us do that - just rest our eyes a few minutes when we're waiting? Very few. Most people complain about the waiting time for everything from traffic to doctors because they must be on the move and going every single second of every day and then these same people complain that they never have any relaxation time. Use the waiting time to build in relaxation and peace in your day.

You don't need a lot of time for this - five minutes is fine, 10 is better. It's just a few minutes in your day to relax. You don't even have to make time for it, it's already built-in to a lot of your activities. Use the waiting time wisely and RELAX.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Loving the Canines

Dear Husband and I are finally over the worst of the sickness. We are both feeling about 95% now. There is still a slight lingering cough and some fatigue, but it's not nearly as bad as it was before. THANK GOD! It was a rough time for us both.

In happier news, I took our foster dog, Milo, to see his very first foster mom, Angela. She has a farm about 45 miles away where she fosters two horses and 30 dogs who have various issues. She is truly a saint. She takes care of dogs with heart worms, skin issues, dogs who have been abused, dogs from puppy mills...she has seen it all and thanks to her, these dogs are finally getting some love and care.

Milo came to her from South Carolina. He was adopted by a woman in Dallas who found she couldn't keep him because she was away from home too much with her job and she didn't have a yard for Milo to run around in. We have a yard and I'm at home right now, so we decided to take him in. He is such a love and we adore him. We've had him three months now and he fits right in with our little gang. He is up for adoption, but no matter what he will always be a part of our family.

Anyway, he got to see Angela again and visit with some dogs he knew when he was with her. He had a great time and got a lot of energy out. He was very quiet and slept all the way home and then he slept some more once we were in the house. I strongly believe that dogs remember those who love them and I know Milo was just as happy to see Angela and his doggy friends as they were to see him.

On another note entirely, please send tons of healing vibes to my best friend, Britt, of Swimming with Dolphins. She is fighting several illnesses at the moment so she can use all the blog/internet love and healing she can get. Hang in there Britters!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hot Head

Last week, I nursed Dear Husband through the flu and then on Saturday, it was his turn to nurse me through it. I felt achy all over, had a cough, and was just generally blah. Sunday, it really hit hard with the aches, the fever, the coughing and the general misery that brings about that oh so unfair irony - you feel like dying, but you have no strength to commit suicide so you bitch and moan instead.

My highest fever was 101.8, but Tylenol Warming helped that a lot. It also helped me to sleep, which was a blessing. My days since Saturday have consisted of sleeping, getting up for a couple of hours or so, and then sleeping for several more hours. I've been sleeping more than I've been awake, and when I am awake, I eat a lot of soup and Popsicles, and I drink a lot of orange juice, Sprite, and water.

Today, I am starting to feel a little better. Basically, I've gone from being on my deathbed to thinking they might be able to save me. I'm still coughing, still very tired, but not as achy as I was. At least not during the day. I seem to get more achy and icky feeling at night. Last night, my dear friend brought me a sickness survival kit consisting of Kit Kats, Swiss Miss cocoa, Celestial Seasonings Echinacea tea, a 12-pack of Canada Dry Green Tea Ginger Ale, Puff's Plus with Vick's tissues, hand sanitizer, honey, Johnson & Johnson's Soothing Vapor bath, and two boxes of soup. Rounding out the sickness kit was a bouquet of yellow roses and white carnations. I love my friends. I truly have the most wonderful friends in the world and I am very grateful.

I'm going back to bed now. Stay healthy my friends!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Breezing Through the Flu

Dear Husband has been sick for three days. He had a scratchy throat, which turned into a full-fledged flu. He stayed home from work on Wednesday and was not doing well at all. Yesterday, I took him to the doctor's office and he was diagnosed with the flu, given some "get well" instructions and a prescription to ward off secondary infections, and we headed home. Today, he is doing slightly better, but still suffering. He's coughing and has a terrible headache. I think if he gets some rest over the next two days, he'll be a lot better by Monday.

Today, I made sure he was comfortable then I headed out with one of my textbooks to Starbucks so I could get some reading done. It's easier to do it away from home because there are just too many distractions at home, chief among them the Internet. Reading outside Starbucks was fantastic because there was a nice little breeze, which I desperately needed. I was getting tired of the stagnant heat we've had in Houston this summer. Anyway, I got some reading done for my Advanced Research class and did a little grocery shopping. I decided to make chicken and dumplings because it's easy to do and I thought it would help Dear Husband with his flu.

It did seem to help and he's now watching TV with Sprite in hand and his laptop on the table so he's happy. I'm rather tired and am planning on an early night although I do need to find a new topic to research for my class. My friend, Jaime, gave me a good idea this afternoon and I am going to see if it's a viable topic then I'm heading off to a nice bubble bath and some relaxation.

Stay well everyone!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I left my heart in San Francisco...and some money too!

Saturday morning found us up bright and early so we could head to San Francisco. Saturday was my father's 65th birthday and I had brought him a card and a gift so I gave those to him that morning before we left the hotel.

We drove into San Francisco and were looking for the street we needed to be on. My father is not one of those men who thinks it's an insult to his pride to ask for directions, thank God. We pulled up next to a taxi driver at a stoplight and my dad asked him how to get to the street. The taxi guy told us and then he went so far as to lead us to a parking garage near our destination where we could park. Very nice of him!

We found the place we needed to be to pick up our tickets for the City Sightseeing Tours and Alcatraz, which my dad had arranged for in advance. With tickets in hand, we set out to find something to eat. We encountered a couple walking along the street who told us of a few different possible eateries and then, as we rounded a corner, we saw Denny's! You cannot go wrong with Denny's for breakfast.

An hour or so later, we were full and happy and we headed back to catch our first bus tour. These tours are a wonderful way to get a great overview of the city! You can get on and off the buses at any of the stops they make along the way and the ticket is good for 48 hours so you can use it for more than one day. My dad and I both really enjoyed the tours. The tours are conducted on double decker buses so you have the option of sitting on the top of the bus in the open air. My dad and I did that for both of our tours and it was awesome.

We took the Golden Gate tour, which was fantastic. Our tour guide was great and we saw not only the Golden Gate Bridge, but also Palace of Fine Arts, which was beautiful, the Lone Sailor Memorial, The Presidio, and various other areas of town, including the section where the rich live. We drove past Danielle Steel's home, which is absolutely gorgeous.

After that tour, we hung out at the bus stop and waited for the next tour, which was the downtown bus tour. That was a lot of fun! We saw Pier 39, Union Square, the Tenderloin, China Town, City Hall, Coit Tower, and several other places. I took a lot of pictures and learned a lot about the city.

After the downtown tour, we made our way to Pier 39 and had some lunch before I set off for Alcatraz. My dad had already seen Alcatraz on a previous trip, but it had been many years since I went there so I set off for the prison. The ferry ride over was a nice short trip and I stood outside feeling the spray of water on my face. The weather was FANTASTIC for all of our trip, which we were both grateful for.

Alcatraz is a rather interesting place. Like any good ghost enthusiast, I got up early on Saturday morning before we left for San Francisco and did my research about the most haunted spots in the prison. I found that there were several, one of which is Cell Block D and specifically Cell D-14, which was part of the cells collectively known as The Hole. This was basically solitary confinement for the prisoners. I took a lot of pictures of that cell in particular and of course, stood in it for a few minutes to get the feel of the place.

Alcatraz is a great place to visit because you aren't limited to being with a group or a guide. If you want a guided tour with a live person, you can get that, but you can also get an audio tour that will take you around the place at your leisure. I did that because I like to stop and explore places along the way if I can and the audio tour was the best way to do so. They give you a pair of headphones and an audio device, which you can stop and start whenever you wish.

I really enjoyed Alcatraz. I'm sure none of the prisoners ever said that, but it is fun for a tourist. It's interesting to see the lives people led there, not just the prisoners, but also the guards. Many of the guards actually lived on the island with their families, which must have been very interesting. It's not exactly a great place to raise children, I wouldn't think, but it worked for them.

I spent about three hours in total on the ferry, on Alcatraz, and then coming back and it was great! My dad got the rental car and picked me up at the pier and we headed to Lombard Street, which is one of the most crooked streets in the United States. Dad and I decided that we just had to drive down it because you can't have a crooked street like that and NOT drive down it. Many years ago, my dad had driven down it so this was a refresher for him, but I was a Lombard Street newbie. We both enjoyed it.

Lombard street marked the end of our day in San Francisco. We were both ready to go find some dinner by that point. We had decided on driving back to Fremont and eating at Round Table Pizza. We don't have Round Table Pizza here in Texas so this was something we can't get at home. We split a large pizza between us and it was SO good!

Full from dinner, we headed back to the hotel for some rest and relaxation. Such a great time was had by us both in San Francisco and we are both planning to return!