Tuesday, July 31, 2007

There's No Heat Like Desert Heat

Like every other place in the southwestern US, Phoenix was very hot this past weekend. How hot, you ask - according to weather.com, it was 100 degrees farenheit (38 degrees celsius) with a severe weather alert for the area. In reality it felt more like 120 in the sun and 100 in the shade.

Despite the heat we soldiered on and visited the Desert Botanical Garden and Hole in the Rock (part of Papago Park) on Saturday. There were no other people at the botanical garden, and very few at Hole in the Rock on account of the heat. We must've taken a break in the shade every five minutes to keep from melting. We also wore sunblock (except for Rene), hats, and drank water whenever we could. All this made the day a bit more bearable but we explored that garden with the speed of a snail. We.were.so.slow!

At the garden we saw ocotillos, palo verde, and tons of cactuses thriving in the desert heat. My favorite was the palo verde, with its green trunk and delicate green leaves. It is amazing to me how such a beautiful tree can thrive in such a harsh environment.

I also liked the prickly pear cactuses, if only because I had eaten prickly pear fruit in the past. However, I discovered during my trip that the prickly pear sold at the supermarket is NOT the same kind that they grow at the botanical garden. I swiped one that looked ripe and found that a) prickly pear have tiny spikes that embed themselves in your skin and are hard to take out and b) it tastes like a watery plant despite the promising purple color. It wasn't an altogether bad taste but the little spikes in my hand reminded me never to try it again. The fruit sold at the market is sweet and contains no spikes, thank goodness.

After our visit to the botanical garden, we made our way to Hole in the Rock. A hole in this rock formation was used by the local Indians to distinguish between the seasons in the year. It was not a very big rock, and only took a few minutes to climb. The rock had a great view of the city and airport. The rock was also a great place to take pictures with my mom and sister.

On our way home on Sunday, we stopped at a dinosaur park in Cabazon, CA near the outlets. There are only two dinosaur models that make up the park: a brontosaurus, which houses the gift shop in its belly, and the T-Rex, which houses the museum. We only visited the gift shop since the museum cost $2 to enter; with such a small facility to house the museum (aka T-Rex butt and tummy) I doubt there was much to see anyway.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Chuy's Haircut, Take Two

Today Chuy went to see his groomer, Merri, for the second time in two days to fix his haircut. What do you think of the results? This haircut reminds you of:

a) a little lamb
b) a little lion
c) something that used to be furry

I think he looks like a little lamb on account of his soft fur. Who knew Chuy was so little underneath all that fur?

Santa Barbara

Last Sunday Rene and I made our way over to Santa Barbara with plans to see the botanical gardens and to hang out at the beach.

To our surprise it only took about an hour to get there and the weather was beautiful – sunny but not hot and humid. On our way to the botanical garden we passed this beautiful old church, which ended up being Mission Santa Barbara. I remember learning about the California missions in third grade and can even recall the sad excuse I turned in for the project – a 3D map of California. Well, it was either my 3D map of California made out of play-doh and painted with watercolors or a 3D model of my favorite mission, Mission San Carlos, with was next to impossible. I ended up getting a “C” on this project for effort and feeling disappointed with my grade. I felt that I deserved a “B” because it took more effort than the results showed, oh well.

Seeing this beautiful church so soon after my trip to Italy only deepened my appreciation for it. Despite being a simple, humble church (and I only say this in comparison to St. Peter’s Basilica) it is beautifully maintained with an adjacent park and rose garden. Unfortunately it was too late in the day to organize a tour of the church so Rene and I didn’t have a chance to visit the chapel and took pictures of the exterior instead and visited the rose garden. My favorite variety is called “peace” and it is light yellow mixed with pink and lavender at the edges. It smells heavenly. We promised ourselves to visit again with our families. Next stop: the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden.

The Santa Barbara botanical garden was
established in 1926 (the same year our tour guide, Will Brown, was born) by Anna Dorinda Blakesly Bliss as a memorial to her father. The garden is entirely composed of native California plants and also serves as an educational facility and nursery. Rene and I saw a few plants “engineered” by the garden’s horticulturists and got to hear about how plants are brought from the wild to the nursery. Apparently, you can’t just uproot a native plant and stick it in your garden due to ecological and botanical reasons, so it is best to purchase native California plants from the nursery. The plants from the nursery are supposedly hardier and are bred to withstand elements they don’t experience in their natural environment. The Santa Barbara Botanical Garden has also re-introduced certain plants back to their native areas. It’s funny how we take it for granted the wild things that grow in California and never think about how they affect our environment. I also never noticed how beautiful some species are – for example, the live-forevers. Yes, that is the real name, and my favorite variety is the Santa Barbara live-forevers.

After touring the garden, Rene and I stopped by the nursery to add some more native plants to our collection. We ended up buying four plants, two for our collection and two for my Mom.

After visiting the mission and the garden, we made our way to the outlets and visited a few stores. Thankfully, the roads were clear by this time and we made it home safe and sound.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Chuy's Haircut

Check out Chuy's disastrous haircut, hence the look of shame on his face.

I think they were going for the lion look but Chuy just looks like he lost his pants!!

We are going to have the groomer fix this look tomorrow and post the results. Stay tuned!

First Post

My first image upload! Yay!! This blog thing is going to take some time to figure out but I'm sure there are fun times ahead.

This is my favorite picture from Rome. It's my favorite because I look relaxed and seem like I have all the time in the world to wander the city. Behind me is Palatine Hill, site of the mythical founding of Rome, and below me is the Tiber River. Best of all, I am just starting my day and the humidity has not yet melted all my makeup off.

What I want to accomplish with this blog is share my experiences with you. I'm going to include a few pictures on the posts but the rest will be found on the
http://www.rendog.com/ website. Please e-mail me for the username and password if you don't have it.

This blog would have been cooler had I started it a year ago, but I say better late than never. I will be working on my future posts so stay tuned!