My Travel Map

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Blog Entry From Samwise

Hey, everybody. It's me, Sam the dog. Natalie has been bad about posting entries, so I volunteered. She's doing good. Spends most of her days playing with me and looking for jobs so we can keep traveling.

As for me, I'm liking my new digs. Lots of stuff to chew on. Whenever I poop or pee outside, everyone cheers. It's really kind of embarassing. I don't know what all the fuss is about. Natalie also likes to take LOTS of pictures of me. Here's a few:

That's me at the vet. Not fun. Natalie is giving me that fake pouty face. Yeah, laugh it up, sista. I'm gonna poop on the carpet when we get home!

That's me and Grandpa. He's putty in my hands.

There are so many kids and babies in this town. It's crazy! They look small, but I'm not sure I trust them yet. This is baby Kate. She seems sweet.

Speaking of babies, I think Auntie Stephanie is getting one soon. Something to do with big bellies and showers and then the litter comes in May. I can't quite keep up with it all. But I did get to go on a car trip again to a magical place called Orange County where I met lots of cats and children.

That's me before the baby shower started. Grandpa and Uncle Matt took me to a park, but I made an appearance at the end of the shower. Now I know what the Beatles must have felt like! People couldn't get enough of me!

That's me and mama. I love her.

I stayed at two different places with cats, and let me tell ya, cats are BORING. They would not play with me at all. But their toys are super fun to play with.

That's me with Grandma on the car ride back. And guess what I saw when I got home?

SNOW! Have you ever seen it before? It's amazing. Only problem is it's cold.

Last but not least, I was asked to make an appearance at Miss Angie's (ie Grandma's) preschool class today. Look out, Mr. Winkle! There's a new dog in town.

Okay, okay. So maybe I freaked out just a little bit and had to leave after a few minutes. Yes, I was shaking and hiding. Hey, the place smelled scary! What else could I do?

But now I'm back home, biting everyone's feet. Ah, the good life. I'll make sure Natalie posts more frequently. Apparently there are more trips planned for the near future. Then in the summer we'll be moving to L.A. She keeps mumbling about how much she misses L.A. but isn't quite ready to move back yet. As long as there are toes to bite and toys to chew, L.A. will be all right with me.

Samwise Gamgee

Monday, March 16, 2009

Leaving Las Vegas

Samwise and I hit the open road and are now home in Oakhurst for a bit. I need some time to train a puppy and work odd jobs to make money for some more traveling. Thank you so much to the Wheelan family for letting me stay at your place, but most of all I want to thank you for my little puppy! I'm sure I'll be calling you with more puppy questions soon. So much to learn. I can't wait to take him to Yosemite!

Before I gush about Samwise some more, let me recap the other Vegas events. Amanda works at Le Reve at the Wynn so I got to see the show for free. I love free.

The show was pretty crazy with all the people swimming and flipping down from the rafters and what not. Amanda warned me there would be a suprise that might involve getting out of my seat. I didn't know what to expect. Toward the end, the four goofball characters in the show came up to my seat and made me give them a hug (the joke was that the one guy wouldn't let go). I was a hit. And now I can say I performed in two shows in Vegas (the other one was Chippendales). Yep, I'm well on my way to becoming a star. Afterward I got to go backstage and see where the magic happens. I get the coolest hook-ups from my friends!

Next stop was dancing at XS Nightclub at Encore.

Pre-Chippendales dinner and drinks.

Ah, sweet sangria.

Post-Chippendales karaoke at Aloha Grill. NO ONE was there.

I'm not kidding. Look how empty that place was. We sang for 2 1/2 hours straight. The only other person there was the nameless KJ/bartender.

This time with feeling!

Random pic of me and Sam. He's sleeping.

Went to Spanky's Pub for more karaoke and pool.

Action shot! Yeah, I suck at pool.

So many songs to choose from. Frustration squiggle!

We made friends with a group of cowboys and cowgirls. Good times.

This is me and Sam on our way to pick up the rental car. Sometimes if he's scared he climbs up and sits on my shoulders (don't worry, I didn't drive with him like that).

We're about to embark on our big adventure!

Here's a map of our journey. Oh wait, that's not a map of Vegas to Fresno? I got my Samwise Gamgees mixed up.

DOES IT GET ANY CUTER THAN THIS? I submit that it cannot. Sam was such a good traveler. The trip was about seven hours including stops, and he behaved himself pretty well. Except when I got a diet coke. He kept barking at it. I think he was warning me that soda is bad. We got lost and ended up on Route 66 at some point. I blame Samwise for distracting me with his cuteness. He's adjusting pretty well to his new home.

Everyone loves Sammy! He wasn't sure what to think of little McKenzie, but she definitely liked him.

Okay, dedicated readers. Stay tuned for more adventures with Nomad Natalie and Samwise Gamgee...

Thursday, March 12, 2009


When I was little I really liked Chip and Dale, the Disney chipmunks. Remember them?

One day my mom hears there's gonna be a Chip n' Dale special on TV. So she plops me on the couch in front of the TV and goes into another room to clean or something. I think I'm about three years old (Mom will have to confirm).

She comes back into the room to check on me and sure enough, there on the TV are the Chippendale dancers (not Chip and Dale chipmunks) shaking their groove thangs. Mom turns off the TV and explains she was mistaken. There will be no Chip n' Dale special. Sorry, Natalie.

Well, Mom, after 25 years guess what show I finally got to see live and in person?


Oh man, I haven't laughed that hard in a while. This is a picture of me cracking up at the night's events.

Amanda called me from work last week to say they were offering free tickets for everyone who works at Le Reve (she works in wardrobe). Not only were they free tickets, but they were VIP. We both had no idea what to expect. I kept hoping it would be like that SNL sketch with Chris Farley and Patrick Swayze.

It wasn't too far off except for the fact that the guys were ripped. It's hard to find the words to explain it. There was so much dancing and lip syncing. It was like the Mickey Mouse Club meets The Village People meets hot gay men meets a Backstreet Boys music video meets a really weird dream you might have after eating burritos late at night. In other words, it was awesome.

And the crowd was bizarre. Our Le Reve group was fun and making the effort to cheer and scream and have a good time. But the rest of the audience looked like a book club for middle-aged women with terrible haircuts. They were like statues. Not a peep! Weird.

At one point the guys came down and danced with the crowd. One guy handed me the mic and I got to sing a line from "Hot in Herre" (cuz they were dressed as firemen, isn't that clever?) so technically, I performed in Vegas with Chippendales.

Here's Amanda with the Chippendales poster before the show.

I choose him.

I'm pretty sure the bartender was posing for this.

Amanda drinks out of our souvenir man cup.

This picture has a story. I salvaged it from all the other pictures I was forced to delete. After the show, you could go onstage and get your picture taken with the dancers (15 bucks for a polariod). Amanda and I decided to just pose with our free posters and have the Chippendales guys in the background. Immediately, a security guard comes over.

"You have to delete those," he says. "You can't take pictures in here."

"Sorry," we say, "We didn't know we--"

"Are you retarded?! We announced it earlier."

"Oh okay. No problem. We can delete--"

"Why are you making my job so difficult?!"


So we delete the pics, and he leaves us alone.

"Did he just call us retarded?"

We giggled all the way to the Chippendales Flirt Lounge where we discovered you can mingle with the guys and take pictures for free (probably because they have their clothes on).

Me and my Chippendale boyfriend.

Uh-oh! Amanda's moving in.

Actually, we're about 107% sure they are all gay. They seemed more interested in talking with their boyfriends than flirting with the gals. They were friendly enough to take pics and sign posters. I asked the guy above if his picture was on my poster. He said no.

"Oh, you know what you should do?" I joked. "You should turn it over to the back and then sketch a picture of you like a stick figure or something funny and then sign that since--"

"Here." He had already signed the front next to some other guy's pic. What's with everyone cutting me off? After that Amanda and I took pictures where it looked like we were grabbing their butts. Well, I pretended. I think Amanda might actually have done it.

And here we are with our Chippendales swag. Such a funny night. I don't think I'd pay to see the show, but if you can score free tickets, I highly recommend it.

Stay tuned for more Vegas stories...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Vegas, Baby, Vegas!

Hey, look, I'm in Paris!

Just kidding. I'm in Vegas.

Kinda random, but I love this picture. It's the ceiling in the Bellagio lobby.

Dancing water.

Okay, so I didn't take that many pictures when I was out on the Strip last night. I hung out there while Amanda was at work and I didn't really feel like drinking or gambling (I know, I know. It's Vegas). So I just explored and ate and sat in coffee shops and read my book. It was kind of relaxing. Truth is, I missed my puppy.


"I'm making room for my joy." --India.Arie

The line above is a lyric from India.Arie's "I Choose" and I am constantly using it to refer to cleaning out clutter or getting rid of bad memories. Sometimes you gotta get rid of the crap in your life to make room for your joy. And that's exactly what we did today at Amanda's yard sale.

It's the Making-Room-For-Amanda's-Joy Yard Sale! And it was freezing. Super windy.

This dusty, unwanted exercise machine is amazing! You should buy it!

Vacuum, anyone?


A Tiny Hobbit's Big Adventure - Starring Samwise Gamgee

What's that? You want me to gush about my new puppy like one of those deranged pet owners who talk about their animals as if nothing else is going on in the world? Okay!

When Sam and Frodo first leave the Shire Sam pauses at the end of a field for a moment:

Sam: This is it.
Frodo: This is what?
Sam: If I take one more step, it'll be the farthest away from home I've ever been.

I'm pretty sure that's what my Samwise was thinking when he ventured out on his first walk. With a leash and everything! Freakin' adorable.

So tiny! He was a little hesitant at first, but eventually started sprinting.

He likes the shade.

He wasn't sure what to make of the grass. Tried to stay away from it.

Then he realized the grass wasn't so bad as long as he was hiding under my leg.

Frodo: Come on, Sam. Remember what Bilbo used to say: "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."

(My Nerd-O-Meter is quickly rising).