My Travel Map

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Yellow Ones Don't Stop

I haven't been as good about taking pictures and I think I know why. It's like when parents have more than one kid. The first kid has all sorts of photo albums capturing every moment of his or her life, then the second kid comes along and there aren't quite as many photo albums. The third kid is lucky to have any pictures at all. I just realized Seattle is like my firstborn. But don't worry, other cities. I love you just as much. And I promise to be better about taking pictures...

Chillin' in front of Noel's place.

Noel and her dry cleaning.

The diner from Seinfeld.

30 Rock!

Times Square

I have more pics to post, but the computer is being fussy. I'll try again tomorrow (my birthday!) and I'll post some new stories, too. You know, for someone with no sense of direction, I've been doing pretty well getting around the city by myself. My strategy is to walk fast, act like I know what I'm doing, and hope for the best. It must be working because I had three different people ask me for directions today! I couldn't help them at all, but I was very flattered.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Guys and Dolls and Toilet Paper

"I passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel." --Buddy the Elf

This quote kept playing in my mind when I went through the Lincoln Tunnel. I didn't walk through it, but I did take a bus from DC (only 28 bucks, plus they give you complimentary bottled water). I can't get over how cold it is here! I'm loving it though. I'm getting used to the subway system and Noel has been a great tour guide. I've been to New York before, so it's been fun to check out the non-touristy areas.

My family and I are big fans of the Guys and Dolls movie with Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra, so yesterday I bought a ticket to see the the show. Prior to the show, Noel and I walked around the village to shop and eat (west village, I think? Do I capitalize the V in "village? I'm not sure). I wanted to go home and change, but we lost track of time. It was a bummer 'cause I felt like I was dressed like Sporty Spice. I wanted to look at least a little bit classy for the musical. I said goodbye to Noel and got off the subway when realized I was still carrying the big bag of toilet paper we just got at the store. I turned around to return it, but the subway doors were already closed. I see Noel through the window and realize she's thinking the same thing. There's nothing to do at this point but shrug and laugh. Then the train takes off.

I pretty much giggled the whole way from the subway station to the theater. I already felt under-dressed. Carrying a bag of toilet paper didn't really help. I had a great seat near the front, but it was in the middle of the row so people had to get up to make room for me and my big bag of toilet paper.

The bag of toilet paper and I really enjoyed the show. Lauren Graham from Gilmore Girls played Adelaide. She wasn't too bad. The ADD jazz musician from Sex and the City played Sky Masterson. He was excellent! I'll need to consult my Playbill to remember who played the other roles, but all in all, I had a lovely time. And of course, I'm wishing I lived in a musical. Sigh. Too much talking in life, not enough singing.

More pictures and stories to come...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I'm watching the Oscars, packing, blogging, and getting ready to leave for NYC tomorrow morning. This blog entry will be short and sweet. Enjoy some pics!

This is my cousin Michael, messin' around with a bow and arrow inside the apartment. Thanks so much for letting me stay with you! I had a blast. Good times for sure.

Goodnight, Anna the kitty! Thanks for snuggling with me (and sitting on the computer when I try to type). I wish I could take you home with me!

I could have stayed at Arlington Cemetery all day to take pictures. What a sad, yet beautiful place.

Goodnight! And congrats to Slumdog Millionare!

Who Knew Bill Nye The Science Guy Could Swing Dance?

My cousin talked me into going swing dancing last night at Glen Echo. Bill Nye the Science Guy was there! Remember him? I don't think he ever left the dance floor. Giggling girls were lined up asking Bill Nye for dances all night. It was hilarious. No pictures though. The one time I leave my camera in the car! But that also means no pictures of me making a complete fool of myself trying to swing dance. This is a good thing.

I had Mike teach me the basics then set him free so he could dance with girls who knew what they were doing. It was hard to be a wallflower in that place! I tried to just stand back and watch, but the guys were relentless. They were there to dance and didn't really care that I was terrible. No, really, I felt like a bull in a china shop. One guy dipped me and I accidentally had him in a choke hold. Don't ask me how.

It was fun though, and I did get better. My favorite guy to dance with was this stocky gay guy who kept praising my every attempt to get the moves right (I'm pretty sure he was gay. His red oversized gingham shirt threw me off, but he was very effeminate and constantly talking about my "gorgeous blue dress.") I kept worrying I was messing up the steps, but he reassured me it was all about confidence.

"Honey," he said, "You're beautiful. You can get away with a lot of things."

I've decided to make this my new morning mantra, complete with the sassy attitude. :-)

In my last blog I said I was running out of steam and I think maybe I was fighting off a cold. I didn't even title my last blog entry. I took one day to just sleep and drink juice and water, hoping to scare the toxins out of my system. I think it worked. My body still feels very tired and I keep waking up with swollen eyelids. What does that mean? Maybe I'm not drinking enough water?

I do have pictures to post, but I gotta get ready for our Oscar party--the party being me, my cousin, his unsuspecting roommate, and their awesome TV. I'm so glad I'm not missing the Oscars! I plan to teach Mike a little more about the movies. The other night we went to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and when we left the theater Mike says, "So that was Leonardo DiCaprio, right?" Yes, he was serious.

Nomad Natalie

Thursday, February 19, 2009

"Hey, what's up?" my sister said when she answered the phone.

"Are you near a computer?" I asked.

"Yeah, what do you need?"

"Well, I think I'm lost, and I don't wanna bug Michael at work."

"Where are you at?"

"I'm trying to get to the metro station. There was supposed to be some bus, but I didn't see it, so I decided to walk the whole way. I think I'm close, but I wanna make sure. It's looking weird around here."

The sidewalk ended and I felt like I was approaching the freeway entrance, which seemed wrong. Between the gusty winds and the train, I could barely hear my sister. She was able to look up the address I needed. I was apparently going the correct way.

"It says you'll go left over the train tracks," she says to me.

"But there's a train there."

"Well, that's what it says."

"But I'm getting close to the metro, right?"

"This says it's 45 minutes away."

"45 minutes?!"

"That's what it says."


"Hey, it'll be an adventure."

And she was right. I'm officially onto my next adventure. I'm staying with my cousin Michael in Alexandria, VA and I did finally find the metro to DC. It was so blustery today! By the end of the day, my hair was a complete mess. You know in the movies when the woman is in a convertible and her scarf flies off or maybe she didn't wear a hat and then the next scene is when she reaches the place she's going and someone behind the counter of the hotel or rental car place or wherever looks at her funny and then it cuts to a shot of the woman looking like the bride of frankenstein? Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's what it looked like.

I had more stories to tell but I'm running out of steam. And I had more pictures to post, but I think the computer is running out of steam, too. More tomorrow. Goodnight!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Goodbye, Portland :-(

I can't believe I'm leaving Portland tomorrow! I thought my flight was Wednesday, but turns out it's tomorrow. I've lost all sense of time. It's weird. And awesome.

I got to visit Andy in Strollerville (that's his name for Beaverton, the city he lives in). After taking about a million pictures, we finally found a few where my eyes were open. This one was my favorite. Andy, thanks so much for lunch! It was great to catch up and talk about our mutual love for L.A.

I also want to give a shout out to John and Brooke Streicher's friends. Thanks for letting me hang out with you guys! I loved the John stories. John, I know way too much about you now :-)

I took a walk to Oaks Bottom today. I was out there for most of the day. The weather was just right. Here are some pictures from the wildlife refuge and the Oaks Amusement Park. It's closed for winter, but there was something creepy cool about walking through a deserted amusement park.

Tomorrow I'm off to Washington DC. Thanks for reading!

Natalie the Nomad

It was windy today.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day In Portland

I took the bus to the Pearl District on Valentine's Day. I don't use public transportation that often, so I always get nervous. Everyone else seems to know what they're doing. I'm always holding up the line by dropping money and asking the driver all sorts of questions. Saturday was no different.

"You dropped your glove," someone said to me as I took my seat on the bus.

"Thanks," I said. I turned around and noticed the kind stranger was a very cute guy.

Our life together flashed before my eyes. We'd get off the bus at the same stop. He'd see that I was lost and offer to show me around. The bridemaids would wear green and carry bouquets of yellow roses.

"I still remember your first words me to," I'll say one morning over cups of espresso while the kids play outside with the dog. "'You dropped your glove.'"

"You were so cute," he'd say. "And you looked so lost."

How fitting that we met on Valentine's Day...

Back to reality. He didn't get off at the same bus stop. Oh well. You know, upon closer inspection he had weird facial hair. It's probably best I ended things when I did.

Once in the Pearl District, I found it surprisingly lacking in Valentine's Day decor. Isn't that strange? No smooching couples or red scarves or giant hearts painted on store windows. With the exception of my bus fantasy and some wilted roses in front of a 7-Eleven, the only sign of Valentine's Day I saw was this:

I'm not sure what looked funnier--a lone heart balloon tied to a trash can or me taking a picture of a lone heart balloon tied to a trash can. Despite the lack of V-day decor I did manage to fall in love...

...with Powell's! It's a bookstore that fills a whole city block. Oh man, I was in heaven. I was going to stop for lunch first because my stomach was growling, but as soon as I walked in I forgot I was hungry. That's how much I loved it.

More pics to come...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Hello, Portland!

Happy Friday the 13th and Valentine's Day Eve!

I already love this city and I've only been here a few hours. I can't wait to explore tomorrow.

My gracious hosts, Linda and Hugh. Carolina, your parents are fabulous!

Their fantastic home!

I'm spoiled with another wonderful room to myself.

Time for this happy wanderer to go to bed. Goodnight!

SNOW-homish and Seattle Recap

I wrote my previous blog entry at a Panera Bread in a town near Snohomish while eating a hot cup of French onion soup. Delicious! There was an AMC down the street, so I decided I would go see a movie. Yes, a movie would be the perfect way to end the evening. And then I heard a Panera employee yell to his coworker, "Hey man, it's snowing pretty good right now!"


Sure enough, it was snowing like crazy. The drive back to Brooke's was so scary! The snow was starting to stick and I didn't know the roads very well and it was dark and woodsy and scary! I debated about pulling over and calling Brooke to rescue me. It was a good 10 years since I last drove in the snow. I was 17 years old on my way to work. As I turned down the steep driveway to Hallmark I slid into a pipe and messed up the front of my parents' jeep. The only customer I remember even showing up that day was some guy returning a lava lamp, so I had plenty of time to think about the impending wrath of my dad.

No sliding this time. I left early enough and the roads weren't too icy. After making my dramatic entrance at Brooke's ("I'm okay, everybody! I made it alive!") she made me a hot cup of cocoa and read a chapter from a David Sedaris book. And all was right with the world.

Luckily, the snow melted quickly the next day. Here's a picture recap of the rest of the trip:

I've already seen the Space Needle, but figured I should include it in my blog. It was too rainy to actually get out of the car, so I snapped a picture from inside. Clearly I was in a McDonald's parking lot.

Dinner at Lola's. Brooke treated me to an early birthday dinner since I won't see her on my actual birthday. Thanks, B! Also thanks to Brittany for the new Kanye album and the curly hair product. Hip hop and haircare is the way to my heart. You're a doll.

Yay for early birthday treats!

The Can Can Caberet Show. $6.12 of awesomeness!

Scantily clad guys and gals dancing on a very small stage to crazy fun dance music. Sometimes there were pulleys involved. Hilarious and amazing.

That guy in the hat is ruining my candid group photo.

Brooke (aka Madame Mystery)

One night I literally begged Justin and Brooke to take me to Taco Bell. They finally gave in. I don't think Brooke understands my love for Taco Bell at 2am.

Yay for Taco Bell!

One night I put on a very hilarious puppet show, if I do say so myself (no, I was not drunk). I think I've found my calling.

Aww, Jasper. I'll miss you most of all.

Brooke, thanks so much for letting me stay with you. I miss you already. It was sad to leave Seattle. I was just getting to used to it. I'll be back before you know it.

Monday, February 9, 2009

More Pics from Seattle and Anacortes

More pics for y'all...

Friday night on the town with Seattleites. Guess I didn't really need to be ducking in this photo.

Gum Wall in Post Alley

We got to visit with Jenny (Wheeler!) Rozema. So good to see her. I think we calculated that it had been at least 5 years since I'd seen her. Too long. Jenny, it was so great catching up with you!

Post-massage at the Majestic Spa

Kickin' it with Brooke and Brittany at a kickass cabin.

View from the cabin. I forget the name of the lake and mountain.

Catching up on my 3D reading.