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August 24, 2004

Lurking Around on Travel Sites

I've been back home for about three weeks now. It's like I never left- a scary thought. I have to look at my photos to remember it was all real.

When I was in Sydney in February, I met up with Terry, a buddy I met in India. He has been on several one year journeys and said that right about this time (3-4 weeks after he got home) he started sneaking stealthily into travel agents. Likewise, I've been hovering around my world map and lurking on travel web sites, in particular:


It's addictive. I need to get away for a while!! But I can't . I have a bit o' debt to pay off (not TOO much) and I am looking for a job out in Portland, but all I want to go is wander off to Prague or Spain for a mindless week of driving around on a Vespa. I have other big trips I want to do (New Zealand, Japan, Central Asia's "'stans") but they will have to wait. Right now I want easy, relaxing, and people who don't speak English as a primary language.

Posted by Claudia at 09:21 AM
View/Add Comments (0) | Category: New York

August 12, 2004

Continue Blogging?

I've been getting questions on whether or not to continue blogging even though I am home and back to living a pretty mundane life. What do you think???

Posted by Claudia at 08:18 AM
View/Add Comments (5) | Category: New York

July 31, 2004

In My Own Bed

How I've missed my own bed!!!!

When I got home the other morning at 7AM, the first thing Gloria and I did was stop at House of Bagels for my first fix in a YEAR!!! They were excellent and I was glad I hadn't succumbed to trying any of the bagels shops out in Oregons' crap. Whew. Oh, the doughy goodness. Sublime, I tell you.

I was exhausted but I was so excited to be home that I couldn't take a nap even though my body was utterly drained from the flights. I walked into my room and looked around. I had forgotten about so many things I had that it was like Christmas. Everything seemed new and exciting- I had forgotten about this skirt or that buddha. My room was filthy from a year of neglect, but it was MY filth on MY stuff, so I loved it. It was too overwhelming to take on the task of a serious room cleaning so Vanessa (who is also home and starts her new job at IKEA the same day I get back to Atti) and I had a ritual watching of The Return of the King, complete with mutual drooling over Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn). After a few minutes of lying down though, I was out like a light. I woke up and realized where I was, home.


And thus began my major purge of possessions, clothes, and old random crap. I figured, if I wasn't excited about seeing something after a year of being away, or it didn't look quite right on me, it was going in the garbage. It's amazing how easy it is to throw things out now. I still have so many clothes that I don't know how I'm ever going to wear all of them. All this choice!! And books? I found books of mine that I haven't seen since we moved from Dix Hills to Hauppauge in 2002. I cleaned and dusted. I enjoyed my new bathroom (it had been remodeled in my absence) and it's swanky new tub complete with mood candles, and I tried on my own clothes as if I were shopping for them. I watched my fav movies.

Gloria, Vanessa, and I went to TGI Friday's where Vanessa's best friend Jessica works and some drunken regular saw me and asked Jessica if Vanessa (who had also become a regular with her coffee and her newspaper at Friday's when Jess was on) had changed her hair- referring to me. I suppose I have to get used to this since we are more likely to be hanging around each other now that we live under one roof. Still, it's weird.

I know I'm rambling, but really it is so weird to be home. It's as if nothing has changed, which is both good and bad. I start my job back up a year to the day after I left, doing exactly the same thing. I feel like much of my trip has now become a bit like a dream I just had. THe best part is that I get to wake up in my own comfy bed again.

Posted by Claudia at 07:56 PM
View/Add Comments (3) | Category: New York

July 27, 2004

Pray For It

I forgot to include an amusing little conversation that was overheard in the Seattle hostel. During breakfast Ant and I sat near a motley group of people. There were some younger deep types and then an old hippy sitting nearby. The younger people were discussing what they were up to for the day and the older man asked them what they were up to. They proceeded to have a conversation about how evil "the man" is and basically deep ideas. It all concluded with the hippy asking the younger ones to church. Two people accepted but when the hippy asked the black guy who was sitting there, he said "No man, you know, I can't go that far." The hippy replied, "I will pray for you then." The black guy replied "Yeah, I will pray for you too. I will pray for your big toe."


Posted by Claudia at 12:05 PM
View/Add Comments (2) | Category: Washington

July 26, 2004

Seattle and Interesting Uses of Pyrex

This past weekend, Anthony and I went drove five hours north to Seattle, Washington. We did some standard touristy things (Pike Place Market, the Waterfront and the IMAX, etc.) and then made a solid IKEA raid for Ant's apartment.

We arrived late on Friday and checked into the Green Tortoise Hostel. It was average for a hostel but the weather was so hot (95-100 degrees) that when we went to sleep, I kept waking up in a pool of sweat, which made their lack of fans even more disappointing. Yuck. As per usual in any hostel, as the sun came up two random drunk German guys showed up in the room making a shitload of noise.

The next day we wandered over to Pike Place Market where the famous Seattle fishmongers reside. If you have ever seen the FISH motivational video that employers love to show, it was filmed here. The fishmongers throw massive fish around and basically put on a small show. They seem to have a decent sense of humor. If anyone got to close to this guy they would pull on the attached rope (which is normally hidden under ice) to freak the person out and everyone around would crack up. Every once in a while, they also pretend to throw a fake fish into "the audience" and the whole crowd ducks until they realize it's styrofoam. The rest of Pike Place Market was pretty kickass as well. They had super cheap flowers, tasty fresh fruit, meat, and veggies. If I lived anywhere near this place, I'd weight 600 pounds.

After getting our fill of wandering around, we headed down to the waterfront to have lunch at Ivar's a famous fish and chips place, and see two really disappointing IMAX shows. The first was The Eruption of Mount St. Helens and the second was Ocean Oasis, both which were poorly written. In the Mount St. Helens one, they never showed the eruption, which sucks because that's what the title leads you to believe you are going to see. In the ocean one, they spent more time talking about land animals than ocean life.

On Sunday, Anthony and I decided to cruise by Bruce and Brandon Lee's graves for a photo. It was a good thing we stopped by the nearby museum to ask about where they were located because there were tons of Lees, all with red headstones.

Next stop was a shop I had heard much about, Toys in Babeland, which is basically a sex toy shop. It was closed but we got to see some of their wares in the window. It seems that Pyrex dildos are quite the rage and there are many glass artists willing to contribute creative ideas on how to get someone off. I also saw this little guy. I'm sure the Queen feels safe when they're scattered around Buckingham Palace.

We had the obligatory latte in the caffeine obsessed city at Vivace's and then headed out to IKEA to pick up the final few things Ant needed for his place. It was the quickest and most efficient IKEA experience I've ever had. Normally when I go on Long Island or in NJ, it's an all day ordeal because the lines are so long and slow. Not so in Washington. We were in and out super quick and were able to still have enough time to get to Portland to meet up with Sean and Court of Bootsnall.

It was a busy weekend but I had a good time. Soon enough I will be home in New York around the rude people I miss so much.

Posted by Claudia at 08:05 PM
View/Add Comments (3) | Category: Washington

July 23, 2004

Heading to Seattle

Tonight Anthony and I are heading to Seattle for some sightseeing and an IKEA raid. So check back on Monday and I'll fill in the details!!!

Posted by Claudia at 03:12 PM
View/Add Comments (0) | Category: Oregon

July 19, 2004

Weekend Out of Hippyville

I have been frustrated by Eugene and its high number of hippy types so Anthony put together a last minute (as in 6pm Friday night last minute) weekend in Central Oregon. Being that I had no idea what there was to see or do, I left it to him.

Things got off to a solid start with our check in at a sweet ass little bed and breakfast, the Cricketwood, that had a cancellation. When we walked in, Jim, one of the owners, showed us around and how much good stuff was included. Anthony doesn't have a TV so when I heard the words "satellite TV" I was ecstatic. I could rot my brain again- and I did so by watching Ocean's Eleven and Chicken Run.

Jim and Tracy recommended heading over to the Deschutes Brewery for their Saturday tastings. According to Anthony, this is one of the area's best microbrew beers so we HAD to go. I must say, I was impressed. The way the guys run the tastings is really no different than how wineries do, basically from light to dark. We had half pints of four of their different beers, Twilight, Cinder Cone, Mirror Pond, and Black Butte. Normally, I'm not a dark beer kind of girl, but the Black Butte was pretty damn yummy. Next time I'm out, I may just have to order that up.

Later in the evening, we cruised around downtown Bend. I figured it'd be this shitty little hick town, but to my surprise, it has some nifty little shops. Nothing was so compelling as to cause my credit card to twitch, but still good stuff. The most memorable part of the evening was while we were sitting at a Thai restaurant, watching a cycle rickshaw go by. I thought I was hallucinating because rickshaws are an Asian phenomenon and we had just been talking about my hatred of their drivers. To top it off, the passengers were several of the prissy cheeseball girls who were on the brewery tour with us and they waved.

When we got back to Cricketwood, we grabbed a local guidebook to skim through and I found a blurb on this place called the Great Obsidian Flow. The whole area is filled with active and "inactive" volcanos so there's lots of random debris and/or volcanic rock lying about. It sounded like a vaguely hostile place, so we decided to stop by.

The Great Obsidian Flow would make a great Hell or an even better Mordor. The whole place consists of chunks of razor sharp obsidian glass with hunks of pumice mixed in for diversity. You can either cut your feet open, or exfoliate them- a good mix of choices I thought, especially when you're wearing platform flip flops like I was.

It started to rain so we moved on to our next destination, Crater Lake. On the way, there were large patches of snow, so I felt I just HAD to make a snowball, you know being JULY and in hot weather and all. It seemed like a novelty. I was desperate for snow in Jan/Feb, but now here it is in July.

Anyway, Crater Lake was created 7700 years ago when a volcano blew up and generously donated shitloads of ash to the local environment. At the top, water has now accumlated so as to form a pristine lake. I didn't think it'd be that big but when we walked over the ridge, here is what I saw (please excuse the poor Photoshopping- it's a challenge without a mouse). Pretty impressive methinks. That little island in the middle is from when the volcano started to get restless again. It's called Wizard's Island. After a few more photos we drove around the crater, and finally out of the park.

We met up with Heather, Ant's friend from college in Roseburg, on the way back from Crater Lake. She works with animals and I learned the interesting fact that female snakes have penises. Who would have thought?

One final thing... as we passed by a church we saw this sign. I knew what they meant, but I think they need to rethink their wording in the future.

Posted by Claudia at 03:10 PM
View/Add Comments (2) | Category: Oregon

July 15, 2004

New Photos!!!

I've finally gotten my stuff together to put up a few photos. They are definately a mixed bunch. so bear with me.

A weird Mars-scape in Mongolia.

At the local gas station... check out them cranking it.

A little Mongolian boy who lived at the first ger we stayed at.

Some horses we passed by.

A baby hawk we ran into. There was a nest on the ground in the middle of the desert. Momma Hawk was circling above so we didn't hand around long.

A few bactrian camels.

The women would go out and milk the animals in the evening. Here's a close up of them tied together.

One of the weirdest places we visited was a canyon in the middle of the Gobi filled with ice.

Sunset and beside the ger

Erdene Zuu Khiid

The next few are of Nepal:


It's amazing how well camo worked here.

Red feet on the ground at some temple.

Posted by Claudia at 02:25 PM
View/Add Comments (1) | Category: General Stuff

July 14, 2004

Better Moods

I've been in a crabby mood the last few days because of my new bike being stolen, but today, a new friend from here in Eugene, Storm, lent me her bike for the rest of the time I am out here. It is nice to be able to ride around again. The bad mood has started to lift...

Another thing that's been putting me in a good mood in a potential weekend trip to Seattle with Anthony, and another friend, Kevin. I've been wanting to get out there for ages, and now it looks like it may happen. While there I plan on scoping out the local IKEA to get ideas for things I want my sister to buy with her new IKEA employees discount back on Long Island. Congrats Vanessa on getting a new job. You did a great job negotiating with them too!!

To top off the day, I finally took my film from last summer to the lab to get processed. I had sent home a bunch of film from the UK and my mom sent it here when she was sending some other things. All my film/photos are now in one place and I am going to begin the editing process of what I am going to work on. I eventually (hopefully in a year) will have a portfolio of some highly good photos from my trip.

I've been getting around Eugene alright the last few days, but I have made two major observations. First off, NEVER read any Frank Herbert books (such as any of the Dune series) while on Eugene buses because people who look like him come up to you and talk to you. He was a Tacoma, Washington native (Dune was inspired by his study of the local Pacific sand dunes) and he's a bit of a cult hero. In the ten minutes I was on the bus yesterday, two hairy bearded dudes chatted with me about their love of Frank Herbert's books. Observation two: always carry a walkman/mindisc/cdplayer. It is key in getting the weird bus folk (other than Frank Herbert clones) to not strike up chats about your bracelet, nosering, toenail polish (why are they looking?), destination (are they going to stalk me?) or whatever, to not bother you.

I got an email from Mel Lasiw today including a horrendous photo of Mel, Misty (a friend of Mel's from IBM), and myself from her friend Paul's July 4th shindig. For a laugh, here it is. I look like someone deformed my face!

Righto, hopefully things will stay positive!

Posted by Claudia at 11:49 PM
View/Add Comments (1) | Category: Oregon

July 12, 2004

The $330 Trip to the Oregon Country Fair

The event NOT to miss when staying in Eugene, Oregon, is the annual Oregon Country Fair. I was a bit unconvinced about going to a fair filled with hippies, and boy, was I right.

What a stupid event.

There were fruitcakes everywhere. I usually like flamboyance and out there people (such as on Halloween in the Village in NYC) but the crowd at the OCF (affectionately called "Fair" by those cool people in the know) were just gross. Superficial? Sure. But there were more floppy titties painted with flowers than you could shake a stick at. If my breasts were hanging around my waist, I sure as hell would not have them out in public view. Was there a need for a man to wear a transparent white tutu with his nuts hanging out? Hell no.

I'm not opposed to nudity- in fact I've been known to streak on past occasions. But why is it only nasty people ever want to get naked at these events? Right now I can hear Anthony saying "but they don't care what they look like." Is everyone so desperate for a communal hug or attention that they need to run around with floppy breasts and low slung balls?

Anyway, we went to "FAIR" and I thought it was pretty dull. Lots of bad art of the fantasy/fairy/celtic variety, though there were some super cool leather Cirque du Soleil type masks and some nice wooden bowls made out of tree knots. On returning, we walked over to where we had locked up our bikes, in front of the main library.

My brand new bike was gone. I had owned it for 16 days.

I was pissed. I had locked it up in broad daylight, on a busy street, on a Sunday, in front of the main library. My three hour trip to FAIR had cost me a $300 bike. I went to the police station, but there was almost no one there because it was Sunday (so if you want to steal something in Eugene, do it on a Sunday). I was referred to a non-emergency section but they still haven't called me back.

The good news is I'm still covered under my travel insurance until the end of this month, including theft, so I may be able to get the money back through that.

I was not fond of Eugene to begin with, but now I just hate it.

Posted by Claudia at 12:41 PM
View/Add Comments (3) | Category: Oregon
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