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Glaciers Galore!!!!

February 15, 2011

It’s been a while since our last camping trip and I’m getting ITCHY!!!

Apparently the bugs attack me when I’m NOT in their wild realm…or it’s just mange.

Luckily, there has never been a report or an instance of a glacier undergoing acariasis.  So, one day on a camping trip too long ago, Matt and I hiked from Old Devil’s Postpile to a place called The Minarets.  (Not the Minotaur, The Minarets…but could you imagine?!?!?!  Yikes!) 

The Minarets are about a 6.5 mile hike one way, plus about 2 miles worth of hiking and exploring we did once there.  That’s right.  We hiked about 15 miles in one day!  And it’s not like you’re just walking down a road.  You’re hiking up, you’re hiking down…you’re starting, you’re stopping…you’re freezing, you’re sweating…you’re hungry, you’re more hungry…BUT!  One thing you’re NEVER feeling is any sense of regret.  I mean, how can you when THIS is your end result:

Not to mention, THIS:

SO, without further ado, I present to you,


* Wake up at 5:30 a.m. and get ready for your hike.

* Pack a back pack such as this women’s Lowe Alpine backpack with all kinds of necessary goodies such as:  and a to hold the yummy glacier river water you pump into it using a water filter such as this MSR Miniworks portable water filter throughout your hike.  Our Nalgene, BPA-free water bottle comfortably screws into the bottom of the filter for a secure transfer.

* You’ll also want to make sure you are wearing a good pair of hiking boots, such as these lovely Vasque women’s hiking boots with a sole.

* And you might as well pack some of this in sandwich form.  You’ll need your protein since you’ll be gaining about 2,330 feet in elevation.  (Devil’s Postpile at 7,500 ft. + 2,330 ft. gain = Minaret Lake at 9,830 ft.!)  YUM!!!

* Dress yourself in layers that will keep you warm enough in the morning (in our case, it was about 28 degrees) but that you can shed for your afternoon sweat and stuff into your backpack.  But don’t over layer in the morning either!  I made the mistake of wearing too many layers in the morning, instead of toughing through the initial cold and by the time we climbed the first ridge only 20 minutes after we started, I had to stop and take off my jacket and 2 thick sweaters…this in turn became added weight into my already full backpack.  Not fun.  Luckily I had Matt and he wore the back pack the whole hike up to the Minarets.

* And finally, hike your a** off!

6:30 a.m. and into the woods we go!

A beautiful example of how glaciers pressured and polished granite rocks into this smooth surface thousands of years ago.

A tranquil clearing.

Almost there!

It looks tame from this angle, but this last bit was a tiny struggle of a climb mentally and physically.  I could see the tips of the minarets, but I couldn’t move any faster because of the elevation and the burning in my lungs and thighs…and I wasn’t even wearing a back pack!  Matt totally whipped me on this hike…yep, no surprise there.

I love this tree…but I really stopped to take its picture because I NEEDED A BREAK!!!!!!

FINALLY!!!!!!  ACK!!!!  FINALLY!!!!!!!!!  WE’RE THERE!!!!  I MADE IT!  I MADE IT!!!

Summer on the mountain tops.

But now it’s time for some glacier FUN!!!…

Can you find Matt in this picture?

There he is!  Just chillin’ on a glacier…but you know me…

I gotta be all DRAMATIC!

(I was re-enacting the trash compactor scene from STAR WARS…)

Unfortunately, Matt and I did not plan to spend the night, so it soon became time to leave this…

and to return to this:

All in all, it took us 4 hours to hike up and only 2 hours to hike back down.  We spent a solid 3 hours at the top.  Totally worth a day hike, but it’s more ideal for camping.  And YES, there will be a next time…especially since at this point, I am not so far removed from this:







99 Bottles of Beer On The Wall…

December 18, 2010

…except this guy definitely has more problems than that.

Especially when it comes to women…

And especially when one of those women, is ME.

Check out this music video by the talented and courageous Mark & Tom!

Redcats and Swords…

December 4, 2010

AH!  The Theatre!  There is nothing quite like it…and it had been a while for me.  Three years.  Yep…three years away from rumbling, butterfly belly and antiperspirant/deodorant resistant armpits.  Three years away from waking up in a stabbing panic, thinking you’ve missed your call time and/or the whole show…three years away from not being a slave to the bathroom before every show.  You know what I’m talkin’ about!

And I missed it…so much!

I didn’t realize how badly I missed it until the first day of rehearsals.  With my first step onto the fabulous REDCAT stage, I was thrown into a vortex!  Remembering more “ME” moments on stage than M. Night Shyamalan has had in his movies!  Here, let me share just a tiny few with you.

The Nutcracker as "Spanish"...obviously...

The Nutcracker ~ "Snow Princess"...what? Did someone say PRINCESS?

Cinderella ~ "Summer Fairy"

The Vagina Monologues...obviously...



Suzuki music at the local mall...

If only I had more pictures from yesteryear to share with you, but alas, they were all taken on actual film and the photos are with the family for safe-keeping.  Probably a good thing…I mean, look at how I’m terrorizing my own blog with them!








The best of this entire experience, wasn’t actually getting back on stage…it was the collaborative, creative work we all poured into it…And we only had one week to pour ourselves into it!  One week to rehearse a show that would traditionally take one month of daily rehearsals to be ready.  But it’s theatre and one hardly ever feels “READY” on opening day.  And true to theatre form, nothing had gone right during our tech rehearsals that morning…that’s right, I said, “tech rehearsals THAT MORNING.”  Sound familiar, my fellow thespians?  It might be familiar theatre territory, but it’s never comfortable!  However, I think that common sense of foreboding is what makes everyone involved stand extra tall and remain extra balanced.  Because the moment the shit hits the fan, you better figure out a way to clean it up without anyone in the audience even noticing a breeze.  No matter what, the show must go on, and it will.  It’s as simple as that.

And true to theatre form, everything fell into place the moment the show started.  All the sounds, lighting, reading and shadows were spot-on!  Our sold-out, first show of the evening was so successful, quite a few people who came to the first show stayed to watch the second show.

To sum it up, we were amazing.  If you weren’t there, you seriously missed out.

Luckily, there are YOU TUBE postings galore!  One set includes the fantastic shadows created by the brilliant shadow-caster, Christine Marie.  Throughout it all is an impeccably haunting sound design by John Zalewski.  Of course, NONE of this experience would have been possible without the genius of Mark Z. Danielewski!

I hope we have more chances to perform this work of art in, “…away and far places where faces are different and songs cradle words neither you nor I have ever heard.”The Fifty Year Sword by Mark Z. Danielewski

You’s eh Mighty! Yo send me tea! WHAT?!?!?!

October 15, 2010

It’s pronounced, “yo-SEM-eh-tee”.


Yeah well, at least I wasn’t the one that chose to name the stunning valley by a word that in the native Southern Sierra Miwok language means,

“some of them are killers.”

You can thank L.H. Bunnell of the Mariposa Battalion for that one.  (check out paragraph 5 of that link)  Yet another shining example of the idiocy and disrespect we showered on native tribes.  It seems that the name for the valley should have been, “Ahwahnee”, which roughly means, “large mouth [of a grizzly].”  A romanticized translation would be, “deep grassy valley.”  This was the actual term used by the native people to describe the valley, but I guess it just wasn’t American enough.

But you know what is?


A la mode, no less.

Although there are no apple pie-men walking around Yosemite/Awahnee valley, you will find yourself inexplicably drawn to the rushing glacier rivers, the soft green meadows, the polished granite hills and the wild beauty of it all.

We started super early since we were camping at Devils Postpile, which is about 2 1/2 hours away.  And when I say super early, I mean it: 4 a.m.

It was a rather balmy morning in the eastern Sierras…

…yeah…balmy if you’re one of these guys:

Regardless…you suit up, gear up and shut up.  No room for wussies in nature.  That’s why when we go hiking, we carry our MSR Miniworks Ex water filter with us wherever we go.  It’s extremely important to stay hydrated in higher altitudes, especially if you’re going to be physically active.  We feel so safe and secure knowing that as long as we are near a water source, we will be able to drink fresh, clean water.  It’s so easy and fills up a Nalgene wide-mouth water bottle in no time!  Look how happy Matt is with his MSR Miniworks Ex water filter!

Filtered water never tasted so good.

Our drive into the valley took us along a breathtaking 45-minute scenic route.  Below is Half-Dome in the 6 a.m. light. 

El Capitan greets us as we enter the valley.  That’s 3,000 feet of sheer rock face, in yo face!

We decided to do an easy 3-mile round trip hike up to Vernal Falls…the trail is ridiculously manicured.

Engulfed in beauty.

A beautiful stretch of granite rocks and glacial water above Vernal Falls.

Emerald Pool.  So badly wanted to jump in and take a bath!!!

A numbing foot bath seemed more apropos.

Her diaper was soaking wet…hmmm, probably not so good for the fish…

After some lunch and a little nap on the rocks, it was time to leave.  But leaving here is just as good as coming here…

…and I’m going to continue coming back for a long time.

Next up:  GLACIER FUN!!!!




July 28, 2010

These days, everything is expensive.


Quality material is EXPENSIVE.

A professional’s time and labor is EXPENSIVE.

My life held in the hands of a complete stranger is VERY EXPENSIVE.

Luckily I knew the stranger.

Pilot Matt Ellis

And thanks to investing in winning a raffle drawing, my first helicopter ride was NOT expensive.

I’ll tell you what it was though…


Catalina Island was our destination!  Matt and fellow pilot, Mike Toland were our guides.

I’m just going to let the videos and pictures speak for themselves on this one.

Pre-Flight action shot!

This is NOT your dummy dashboard.

Pray for one of these to come looking for you if you’re ever stranded somewhere.


So long west coast!


Catalina Island = Super Mario Bros. GIANT WORLD

I guess we had to come back some time…Hello Palos Verdes!



Nothing to explain.

A million thank you’s to Matt and Mike and Orbic Helicopter Tours for taking such extraordinary care of us.


A helicopter tour is WORTH saving for!

My First Official Article!

July 2, 2010
Photo By: Lauren Elfman

I’m embarrassed to admit, but it’s true…I wrote this Tori Amos article for Buzzine last year.  I was so overcome by my writing insecurity that after I e-mailed it, I separated myself from it like a Maury Povich paternity Dad hearing, “You ARE the father!”  Then today, while searching for something else, I came across MY baby.  There was no Nile river or bed of reeds involved…my story is real.  I didn’t have any money or doggy treats, so instead, I embraced it into my loving arms and decided to use it for shameless self-promotion!!!  And fair warning:  I LOVE Tori Amos.  If you love her, you’ll love this article and you’ll love ME!!!!!


Ahem, excuse me…it seems I need some food…

(Photo By:  Lauren Elfman)


May 8, 2010

Allow me to refresh those of you who may not have read the first of this series:

If the year of 1816 is known as The Year Without A Summer, then Los Angeles should be known as The City of Continual Summer.  (Like how I made that disparate connection?  And don’t you DARE do any word-play with the word “desperate”!)  The first year I lived here, it was wondrous.  I never had to worry about freezing temperatures, wind-chill factors or trying to knock ice off my wiper blades. Then I realized I lived in a bubble.  A big, filthy, smog-infused bubble.  I missed feeling and smelling the whispery changes in the air that signaled the coming of a different season.  So last year, I decided to make the least of the LA winter and head to colder territories whenever possible.

Los Angeles, CA winter: Average temps around 65 F, sunny and warm with intermittent showers three to four months out of the year.

Perry, IA winter: Average temps around 10 F (not considering wind-chill factors which easily drop that number into the negatives), cloudy and grey with intermittent snowstorms six months out of the year.  In other words…


The month of March marked my visit to Perry, IA (or, Iowa for those of you who don’t know your state abbreviations).  I’ll be honest with ya…there isn’t much to do in Perry during the winter months except cure your meats, chop wood, wear at least 3 layers of clothing, and if it rains, go check out the awe-inspiring swelling of the Coon river.  Okay, okay…I’m JUST KIDDING.  J.K. my Iowans, J.K.!  (Except there really was a flood and I really did check it out…and yes, that really is the name of the river.)

There’s actually plenty to do in Perry during the winter, especially if you have the right equipment.  And by the RIGHT equipment, I mean GUNS.  Now, let me first add a DISCLAIMER:

  • NEVER operate a firearm on your own if you are new to this.  ALWAYS have someone who is experienced help you.  i.e., someone who has safely used a gun more than 10 separate times…notice I wrote,”… SAFELY USED a gun…”  Shooting other people, including themselves, is NOT a safe use of a firearm.

Okay SO!  Although it is true, I played a bad-ass Henchgirl in a little movie called, REPO!  THE GENETIC OPERA, it is equally true that I had never used a real firearm before in my entire life.  Practicing with a broomstick and a tree is a far cry from pulling a trigger.  Thank goodness I had help.

For my first try, I fired a .45 caliber handgun.  Check it out below:

For my second try, I had the awesome chance to fire a 12 gauge shotgun…EXACTLY WHAT THE HENCHGIRLS USE!!!!! Witness my prowess below:

Now watch the yellow tag, but beware of obscenities:

Yes, I am a natural, but it’s time for the real pro:

After an hour of thrills and literal chills, it was time to go.  It only took TWO WEEKS for the low-fi buzzing in my ears to go away.  Hence, my 3rd disclaimer.  I thought that since we were outside, it wouldn’t make much of a difference.  Guess I made an ass of myself.

My very special thanks to MARK MICHAELSEN and MATT MICHAELSEN for making sure I didn’t shoot myself or anyone else.