As I am beginning to write up this post, I am at my grandparents’ house in Washington state, and we are leaving tomorrow to fly home after my week-long spring break trip to Washington and Oregon (by the way, it is NOT pronounced “ore-gone” but rather more like “ore-gun“)–but by the time you will be reading this, we’ll be home already. It has been a fantastic and memorable vacation in more ways than one, and I have so much to share that I hardly know where to begin. I can’t say I was 100% relaxed and stress-free the entire time, but are you ever totally relaxed on a vacation?? I think not. I also have many photos to share, though I prefer not to share the ones that feature my family members, just for privacy reasons. So you’ll have to be content with seeing pictures of food, forests, lakes, mountains, and other nature-related scenes. Hmmmmm….where to start…..I don’t want to make this recap extraordinarily tedious to read, so I’ll try not to ramble on for too long. I’ll go ahead and begin with “day 1,” when we left Illinois for the west coast. I think doing a “day-by-day” recap is the best way to organize my thoughts. Our flight left at around 8:00 AM, so we had to leave our house at around 5:30-ish. When we got to the airport, we had some time to kill, so we wandered over to the nearby Starbucks to get drinks. I decided to try the Valencia Orange Refresher, which turned out to be quite delicious. I rarely buy anything from Starbucks, since I can’t afford it on a regular basis, so this was a nice treat. Our flight was about 4 hours long, and we spent the rest of the day at my grandparents’ house in Washington, chatting with them and also visiting my older sister, her husband, and their adorable little girl (she is about 1 and a half), all of whom also live in Washington. I think the one thing that struck me the most when we arrived in Washington was how green everything was. Here in Illinois the ground and trees are all still a lovely shade of brown. I absolutely love the mountains, trees, rivers, lakes, and flowers in the Pacific Northwest, which is why I want to live there someday. (image source: http://lifestyleetc.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/valencia-orange-refresher.jpg)
Day 2: This was the day in which we went up to Seattle so that I could visit Cornish College of the Arts, take a tour of the campus, participate in a ballet class, and speak with the head of the dance department. CCA is located smack-dab in the middle of the city, and consists of several buildings scattered about in different places. The ballet class was great (and very sweaty), and I definitely enjoyed the teacher’s style and the combinations we were given. The other students seemed friendly as well, and the overall environment of the school was welcoming and warm. The only issue is that I would have to stay at the school for 3 years to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in dance, since I am not currently taking dance classes at my community college, but instead at a ballet studio. That would mean extra money, and CCA is not exactly cheap. Still, it was a fun and helpful visit, and I am glad that I was able to make the trip up there. After my visit was over, I walked down to Pike’s Place Market, which is essentially a huge collection of shops, stalls, vendors, and food carts where you can purchase just about anything from jewelry to vegan pastries to all-natural lip balm. I got some delicious Mediterranean food that was basically a salad topped with cooked lentils, rice, caramelized onions, spices, and a delicious tahini sauce, served with some naan bread. I didn’t take a picture, unfortunately, so you’ll just have to imagine how wonderful it was. There are some, shall we say, interesting characters in downtown Seattle, from street singers/musicians to people selling incense and quirky clothing, and it is definitely a very liberal, artsy, and unique city. Day 3: We left early in the morning to drive down to Eugene, Oregon, since it was about a 4-hour drive. After we got there we briefly stopped at my other set of grandparents’ house in order to say hi. It was actually only my grandmother there, though, since my grandpa (my dad’s dad) is actually struggling with Alzheimer’s disease right now and is living in a special home. This was one main reason why we decided to take the trip–we really wanted to visit with them and see how he was doing. It’s very tough for my dad to live hundreds of miles away from his dad, and I definitely wish that we lived closer to them. Any prayers would be greatly appreciated for my grandpa, since he had to visit the ER right before we left after his vital signs dropped. He is OK now, but is still dealing with other Alzheimer’s-related issues. Anyway, on this day, we decided to hike up Spencer’s Butte, which has an elevation of approximately 2055 feet and has an absolutely amazing view from the top. The hike was fantastic, even though the last section of the hike involved climbing up steep slopes, scrambling over rocks, and stopping frequently to catch my breath. The view was well worth it, though, and my mom, my sister, and I all decided to take some fun yoga pictures at the top. I absolutely LOVE hiking, which is one of the many reasons why I love the west coast–there are so many mountains to climb and forests to explore.
Later that evening (or was that the next evening? Now I can’t remember…) we decided to eat dinner at a local Chinese restaurant. I ordered the eggplant with garlic sauce (served with some steamed rice), and while I didn’t take a picture, I found it quite delicious and filling. We also stopped at Market of Choice (sort of like a Whole Foods) to get some “Kendra-friendly” food, and I got the following items: two KIND bars (one Peanut Butter and Strawberry and one Cashew and Ginger Spice), some Chipotle Barbecue Beanitos chips, a bag of Earth Balance White Cheddar Popcorn (SO delicious), some vanilla-cherry granola (again–incredibly tasty), and a miniature vegan Sweet Earth Triple Berry pie. (image source: http://veggiedancer.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/9aa49-pb.jpg) (image source: http://www.ivillage.com/files/et/downloads/kind-bar-cashew-ginger-spice-636.jpg)
Day 4: In the morning, we decided to walk to Amazon Park, a place where my siblings and I used to play almost every time we went to our Grandparents’ house. One “landmark” of this park is a large stone dinosaur, which I would always love to climb on and pretend I was riding on the back of a real dinosaur. The dinosaur was still there, though he had been decorated with peace signs and flowers (see the picture below). After visiting the park, my mom and I went to a yoga class at a nearby studio, which was a great way to stretch out my stiff muscles. Later that afternoon we went to Skinner’s Butte Park, where we climbed up the butte and also walked along the path that ran beside the Willamette River. The view from the top of the butte was fantastic, though it wasn’t as high up as Spencer’s Butte. As for the river, it was beautiful as well, and I sat on the grass for a while, just sitting in a sort of meditative state, reflecting on how much I felt at home in this quirky town of Eugene, and how much I loved the array of parks, hiking trails, rivers, forests, and scenic overlooks. Afterwards, we went to a juice/smoothie store in downtown Eugene, where I got some delicious carrot-blend juice. Again, I didn’t take a picture, but it probably tasted better than it looked anyway…That’s another thing I love about Eugene–there are so many vegan-friendly restaurants! There are plenty of coffee shops as well, of course. The citizens (and college students) of Eugene LOVE their coffee.
Day 5: This was when I got to take a tour of the University of Oregon, whose campus is located right in the middle of downtown Eugene. I first took a general walking tour of the campus from 8:30 to 10:00 A.M., which allowed me to see several of the campus buildings that are scattered throughout the town. It is a huge campus, but also very picturesque and biker/walker friendly. There were people riding bikes everywhere, and you can essentially walk or bike just about anywhere on campus. I also passed by the Clark Honors College, where I would be attending if I transfer to the U of O in the fall. After the walking tour, I met up with my family at the campus bookstore, where I lost myself in a sea of fascinating books for quite a while. Then I headed up toward the dance building, where I was going to meet up with the head of the dance department. I arrived early, though, so I decided to walk around the nearby Eugene Pioneer Cemetery. Does anyone else think cemeteries are very peaceful and beautiful places? I could totally imagine myself doing my homework and studying in the midst of all those gravestones. Though my meeting with the head of the dance department didn’t happen due to a mistake on my part, I did get to observe a ballet class on the upper floor of the dance building. I definitely enjoyed watching the class, though there seemed to be a huge range of abilities in the class–I have a feeling that a few levels might have been combined since many of the dancers were gone that weekend at a dance festival. I found myself marking the combinations as I stood outside the door, and I felt the urge to just run into the classroom and start dancing with everyone else. They wouldn’t have noticed, right?? Just kidding. Overall, I loved the atmosphere and “feel” of both the ballet class and the campus itself, and I am definitely considering making the U of O my final destination. However, I haven’t yet made a final decision, since I want to get more information on both the Honors College and how long it would take me to complete the Bachelor’s Degree in Dance, since I am a transfer student. Later that afternoon, I went with my mom to another yoga class at a different studio, and then we all went to dinner at a local pizza place with my parents, siblings, cousins, aunt, uncle, and other relatives who live in Eugene. Let’s just say there were a lot of people. I got an individual veggie pizza without cheese, and it was OK, but nothing too exciting or delicious.
(image source: http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/ksor/files/201309/University_of_Oregon.jpg)
(image source: http://library.uoregon.edu/sites/default/files/node2236/uo_arch_pioneercemetery.jpg)
Day 6: In the morning, I went to a drop-in adult ballet class at the Eugene Ballet Academy, since I was desperately “craving” a ballet class of any kind. It was a nice class, with only about five other people attending, and I enjoyed doing plies and tendus again after four days without ballet. The teacher was very kind and enthusiastic, and gave me some helpful corrections at both the barre and in center. After the class, I got to meet up with a good friend of mine whom I used to visit and play with when I lived in Klamath Falls, Oregon. She still lives in Klamath Falls, but since I moved to Virginia when I was 10, I hadn’t seen her in 10 years!! Luckily, we had kept in contact via Facebook and email, but it was lovely to see her face-to-face again after such a long time. We had a great time just chatting about our lives, going to a small museum, and checking out the Saturday market in downtown Eugene. After this meet-up, my family and I all got into the car and began the 4-hour long drive back to Washington state. It was a rainy drive, as can be expected when driving in Oregon and Washington, but we got back safe and sound.
Day 7: This was sort of our “relaxing day” before we headed back home the next day, so it was mostly spent hanging out with our relatives, making a quick trip to Target, going for a walk around a nearby lake, and packing up our suitcases. Oh, and we watched the movie “Anchorman 2″ in the evening, which was, well, interesting. I thought that some parts were quite funny, some were stupid, some were needlessly crude or heavy on the sexual references, and some were actually very witty. So overall, I had rather mixed feelings about the film…
Day 8: Since our flight didn’t leave until late afternoon, my mom and I went to a yoga class at the local YMCA in the morning. It was a good class, and we did some great exercises that worked your “glutes” (technically it should be “gluteus maximus/minimus/medius”) and abdominal muscles. We also went for yet another walk around the lake since it was unusually sunny and warm–if you didn’t know already, many places in Washington and Oregon are well known for being frequently rainy and cloudy. I also soaked up some last precious moments with my adorable niece, who loves to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” to say words such as “boat,” “butt,” “bye-bye,” “night-night,” “kitty,” and “blueberries,” and to giggle so joyfully that you can’t help but join in. I love being an aunt :) The flight went well in the sense that we didn’t crash or have any long delays, and we watched the film “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” which was a fairly good film–nothing too exciting, but entertaining nevertheless.
Well, this post is getting ridiculously long, so I’ll wrap it up here. I am still in the process of choosing which college I want to attend, and I am honestly not sure how to make the best decision, what with money concerns and the question of how my previous college credits will transfer over. I know I do want to still major in dance, even though it isn’t a very “practical” choice, and may result in me becoming bankrupt and living on the streets. Well, maybe that is a slight exaggeration. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the rest of your week!