"We have more reasons to love each other based on our common humanity than to victimize one another because of any difference."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Air France

I hadn't cried yet. I teared up once when I listened to a voicemail my dad had left me. But when I got the text from Fred I happened to be about 10 miles from the Dulles Air Port and I lost it. It's been an emotional day so far and I think the lack of sleep doesn't help. How are you suppose to react when the thing you have been looking forward to for 6 years finally happens? ...I guess I cry. But don't worry guys I'm not like sobbing or anything I'm kind of sniffling here and there (and I think I'm even over that now).

So my flight leaves in exactly 2 hours and it will be 7 and a half hours long. I'm landing in Gran Pari! Tre Bien! and I have an 8 hour lay over...not tre bien. It will be 6:10AM local Paris time aka the next day aka my birthday. Then I have a 1 and a half hour flight to Barcelona. What an adventure...

oh and for those of you who were wondering Dulles does NOT have free wi fi! (those jerks!) I judge cities by whether or not they have free internet and DC does not make the cut.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

On my way

So I am sitting at the Philadelphia train station with a nervous stomach because I feel like I am going to miss my train even though I still have 35 minutes. I just finished drinking my over priced diet coke and will be glad when I actually get to DC. Traveling is exhausting...especially when you are traveling by yourself with two carry ons and two giant suitcases that when added together weigh a whopping 120 pounds. I feel a little overwhelmed trying to weave through crowds, manage my ticket, and drag these chunkers basically anywhere. I have to go to the bathroom but right now that's a little too daunting.

Tomorrow my flight leaves at 4:00pm. So that means after I take off no more texts of phone calls...no worries though, we can all Skype! My name is beargills if you guys don't already have it.

As I was boarding the train I was thinking about how I didn't want to miss Sunday/Saturday brunch...it's always my favorite.

Friday, August 28, 2009

El Fin

Yesterday coach walked by me and said, "48 hours kiddo". That hit me hard and I for the first time started thinking about how close everything actually was...

Today is my last day at Juniata. I've loved being here. I've loved hanging out with my friends, bothering Jenny in the library, using up Fred's guest meals, and dying while KP talks about...well anything. And believe me when I say how much I am going to miss everyone while I am abroad. I thought coming here for a week might be a bad idea because it would make it harder to leave. But what I discovered is that I wasn't ready to fall back into Juniata life just yet. I had a fabulous summer and I am not ready to get back into the rhythm of Huntingdon life. I need to leave and grow up and experience new things and 9 months is plenty of time for that to happen.

So I began to think about what I was most excited about...First, I am looking forward to a cultural experience cutting edge fashion, arts, music, food! I want to take culinary classes and photography, and see the museums. I want to go out dancing until the wee hours of the morning. I love dancing and if my Mexico experience was anything to judge by the men out there are FABU dancers! None of this sweaty let me grind all over you crap. I am looking forward to traveling and seeing cool places and taking pictures. Photography has really developed into a hobby for me and I am thrilled by the idea of exotic locations, interesting people, and new cityscapes.

Wish me luck! I'll send love and good thoughts from Barcelona!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Narrows 16 Miles Later

Well we survived the Narrows. After 30-40 pound packs, cheese, salami, and bread lunches, and trudging through miles of water and slippery river rocks we survived. At the end of the day I would do it again just not any time soon.

The hike started at elevation 3,000 feet. We got out of the shuttle to discover it was a nippy 60 degrees and we started praying it would warm up before we reached the river. We hiked for two miles through cow pastures and finally reached the Narrows.
We reached the campsite after hiking for 10 miles and 7 hours we were relieved/exhausted/ thrilled. We ate a dinner of mac and cheese, apples, peanut butter, and earl grey tea. It was delicious. After setting up the sleeping bags under a rock out cropping it began to get dark. Ben and I went down to the river to pump water into the purifier (It took forever to fill up 3 Nalgene bottles!)

As soon as it got dark we got out the flashlights. That's when we noticed the ground was crawling with spiders. Huge daddy long legs esk spiders...EVERYWHERE. I was freaking. I slept with a bandana over my eyes and mouth.

That night I remember waking up to the most beautiful starry night I had ever seen.

The next morning we had a back breaking 6 miles still to go, with deeper water, a faster river, and more technical crossings. It was difficult and we ended up traveling as fast as we could go at 1 mile per hour.

At the end of it all I felt happy to have done it and glad I didn't have to do it again any time soon. It really was a marvelous hike.

I've posted some pictures here but check them all out on my flickr site:

Friday, August 14, 2009

Zion & the Back Country Pass Debacle

The first time I set foot in Zion National Park I was 9 years old. The park held some kind of awe inspiring magic in it then and as I currently sit looking out at the trees lining the river and the famous Utah rocks I’ve happily discovered things haven’t changed.

We arrived yesterday to beautiful weather and the perfect forecast for our 16 mile backpacking adventure that begins tomorrow at 6am. So if everything is going so wonderfully why did we happen to have one of the most nail biting and stressful mornings I can remember?

The Narrows is one of Zion’s most popular and beautiful hikes. What is unique about the hike is that the entire hike takes place in the river, the Narrows. The Narrows is aptly named because the narrow river has cut through thousands of feet sandstone to the canyon floor. There is no way to climb out of the way of a flash flood and canyon walls at some points rise a majestic 2,000 feet.

Most people start at the bottom and hike up as far as they feel and turn around. You pass by incredible waterfalls, ferns growing out of the side of sandstone, and lots of hairy European men in…I think Ben called it a banana sack… We had done the day hike a couple of times and felt this time we were ready to hike the 16 miles overnight backpacking Narrows. We hired someone to drive us the hour and a half to the top of the trail head and from there we hike down.

To hike the Narrows you need back country permits and a campsite. To get those we set two cell phone alarms for 3:40AM. Mom and Ben got out of bed and drove a couple miles down the road to the Zion Visitor Center. We needed 4 back country permits and one of 12 campsites available for the Narrows hike. The window opened at 7AM and we were told if you wanted a chance at one you should get there by 4AM. By the time they got there there were 10 people in five groups in front of them. They panicked. We knew there were only five Narrow sites left. Mom and Ben laid their sleeping bags out and tried to sleep to no avail. Ben saw a fox. At 6AM they were awoken to an angry ranger telling them no camping was allowed and that there was a 500 dollar fine and he wouldn’t fine anyone if they left immediately. Mom panicked. We got a call and since Dad and I didn’t have a car we had to jog/run/walk to the Park to try and help out. At the end of a long night and a stressful morning I couldn’t believe it I was so happy when the park ranger handed us a map with our camp site on it and… our solid waste bags…great!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Frame Story

Most of you know that I have been laying the foundation to start a picture frame company for well over a year now. This past semester and this whole summer has been heavily devoted to my project and I have made a ton of progress in the past few weeks alone. I have finally tracked down a possible supplier who I am waiting for to give me a figure on how much 400 hand made frames will cost...but the whole story behind the inspiration itself is pretty interesting.

Last summer while living in Orizaba Mexico I was working on an ïnternship" with the Mexican Government. I use the term loosely because in all reality I sat at a desk and doodled hoping someone would talk to me or I could go home early. One day my boss told me to go home and get a sweater because we were going to Tlaxcala together. I asked her if I needed anything else and she said no. So twenty minutes later we were in the car headed to this mysterious Tlaxcala, which, I assumed was 30 minutes away at the most. Three hours, a full bladder, and no lunch later we arrived in the capital city. She turned to me and asked where I would like to be dropped off? I had no idea where I was. No money. No phone. She dropped me off in the city center. There was a large church, an open park, buildings, open air markets, and a grocery store. I searched for 45 minutes before I found a bathroom she told me she'd be back to get me in three hours. I felt like crying.

I wandered around and ended up in this sketchy part of town and ended up walking down some small back alley to a art gallery I had spotted tucked away in a corner. Inside was a bright and beautiful display full of picture frames. Frida Khalo, Che, Andy Warhol style pop art frames, frames with bold colors, beautiful designs, and lots of funky spunk. I was in love. And with no camera and no money I was also highly annoyed.

When I finally returned to San Diego at the end of the summer I wanted to make some frames for my dorm. I pulled out an old miter chop saw who's blade was 15 years old and made a trip to Home Depot. When my mom saw the finished frames she exclaimed, "You should sell these! They are beautiful!"

The best fish tacos in the dare I say...world?

My mother is a fabulous gourmet cook. Ever since I can remember we have been having dinner as a family every night, despite the soccer, tennis, gymnastic practices, art lessons, sailing classes and otherwise chaotic and packed school nights. I have enjoyed and been spoiled by her countless amazing and delicious recipes. So when I say I am about to give you my favorite dinner recipe it means something rather significant. So here you are, the BEST fish taco recipe I have ever eaten.

Beer Battered Fish Tacos

Beer Batter Recipe:
1 cup flour
1 cup beer
1 large egg
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

mix egg and beer and then stir in dry ingredients. Dip fish in batter and fry. Try a white cod. It also helps if the fish is slightly frozen and not fresh, it holds together better in the oil.

Slaw Topping:
Thinly slice cabbage, green onion, and cilantro.
Boil 1 cup of sugar & 1 cup vinegar add 1 cup olive oil and pour on cabbage. (usually don't pour all of it on)

Sour cream sauce:
Sour cream + lime juice + lots of chopped cilantro

Refried Beans:
Put a couple slices of bacon in a large pot. Once crispy remove bacon, keep grease hot and add canned boiled pinto beans. Add chopped bacon bits and mash until the right consistency. simmer all for 5-10 minutes, continue to stir and watch for burning.

Toppings: Sliced radish, green onion, lime, cilantro


Sunday, August 2, 2009


Hi everyone. I am starting my blog for Barcelona, which is now only 28 days away...oh jeez!

Just a quick wrap up of the summer:

This was a wonderful and beautiful summer. It was nice being home for a change. I feel like I am never here anymore.

As far as what I have been up to I developed quite a liking to cycling and swimming this summer along with gardening and cooking.

I started a garden when I got home and first the first year in recorded history it was a success. I'm growing zucchini, cucumber, peppers, onions, tomatoes, herbs, and eggplant.

In addition to that I have been body surfing a lot, practicing photography, working at the Institute of Americas, and drawing. It's been a pretty wonderful low key summer.

I am really looking forward to leaving at this point and almost wish summer would move along a little faster, but I have mixed feelings about Spain at the same time. I know that is only natural...

In other news, much to my mother's dismay and Jane's disbelief I got a tattoo. Yes, a tattoo. No, I'm not crazy. It is completely socially acceptable for my generation to get tatted so everyone is going to have to get used to it. Including me. :)