#26- Agua Caliente

I love me some hot water. I like hotel stays and hospital stays because of the endless supply of hot water showers. I’m not sure if I knew of hot springs prior to my stay in Costa Rica in High School, when we visited a natural hot water springs at the base of Volcan Arenal, BUT I can assure you once I was there, I didn’t want to leave.  The agua caliente there came in the form of a huge waterfall and river, to which I sat under for what could have been hours.  I was in love!

After that, I had heard of places like that in Colorado, and then again when I visited Japan.  Now, Japan was interesting because not only were there tons of these places in Japan, but they were as common as a movie theatre with their patrons…. meaning children, elders, women, men, couples, big families all would frequent these places- in the nude. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. For me, I felt it weird to strip down naked and hop into cozy pools with other naked people.

But that didn’t really deter me from future hot springs visits in my own country, where body image issues are much more common.  Not only that, but they are as near as Calistoga!  I think I had known this for many years, but didn’t really think to make the trek until I made this list and was googling interesting things to do in California (#26 on my list).

This was a great experience with my friend Jamie.  We went to Indian Springs Spa & Resort, started with the mud bath, a mineral bath soak, a steam room stay, a catnap next to the buddha pond followed up by a few laps in their naturally heated mineral water olympic size pool.  If I were to offer a critique, however, it would be that the pool design definitely removed it from the ‘nature’ element that a hot springs is.  I would have made it replicate more of what it was in Costa Rica- Waterfalls, river pools, plants and such.  But otherwise, Jamie & I will definitely return in the Winter.

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#9- A Possible Green Thumb

Sometimes I feel like what should be an easy task, never is. For me.  Like this Garden project.  I love gardening, and have been quite successful (see reference [ here ], [ here ], and [ here ]!) in the past. But, seeing as we now live in an entirely new climate, the comfort of looking out around the Sacramento Valley and knowing exactly what can grow and harvest when,… is now gone.  So, you think, “But Dannah, we’ve seen pictures of your neighborhood farms, can’t you just do the same thing?”  Sure, but I think gardening is a science in itself.  Just because there is a brussel sprout farm down the road from me, doesn’t mean I can just drop that into my garden box and be just as successful. Not to mention, these farms usually GIVE us some of their harvest, so why grow more?

So, challenge number one:  What should I grow?

Challenge number two: Gophers. Moles. Abundance of wildlife wanting to enjoy my crops as much as I want to.  We already attract animals who want to eat our chickens. My compost dumpings into the garden boxes get turned up nightly by critters. The problem was partially solved when the government finally came out and removed their property, leaving me a huge concrete slab to work on top of.  So no underground burrowing, thankfully.

We are in the process of experimenting, I guess.  A good lesson for Natalie, ultimately.  What will grow, what will get eaten.  But, the bucket list item #9 says to merely START, which is what we’ve done!

#18- Wigs for Kids

The first time I donated my hair, I was 17 I think.  It wasn’t really the donating factor that motivated me, it was more of the shock and awe effect I got from showing up at school one day having axed 12 inches.  Then, I donated it again the second year of college…. I was working with some preschoolers at that time and the shock and awe effect (and subsequent charity lesson that followed) was fun to see on their faces as well.  Third time around, I was 25. I remember this one best because Blake proposed two days later and I was a little disappointed I wouldn’t have long hair to style on my wedding day. 4th time…. a few months after having Natalie and I no longer had time to do anything stylish.

Last week was donation #5 for me (and #18 on my bucket list), and I really hope my last time.  But what happens is I grow it a little past my shoulders, and then think to myself, “Why not? It’s for a good cause….” and then I have it sit around for another 3 inches before getting fed up and cutting it all off.

Now, the first four times I donated it to Locks Of Love, which is by far the more well known option.  But I usually receive a little postcard from them saying thank you, and this last time (the 4th time) I didn’t.  Which didn’t bother me THAT much, but it got me thinking I wanted to take a closer look again at their practices.  Well, come to find out Locks of Love isn’t all that great of an honest practice anymore.  Or ever were.  I guess they make the children apply for the wig, get letters of recommendation AND ultimately pay for the wig. And it’s only for children with a certain illness. Hm.

Wigs for Kids does not discriminate based on your income or your illness.  If you have a child who is sick and loses their hair as a result, Wigs for Kids looks to be your best bet.

Now, I know what you’re thinking…. donated hair can’t be colored hair, right?  This is true.  But I’ve always only done highlights to the top of my head, so we separated my hair in chunks so that the uncolored, natural hairs were banded together apart from the color-treated hair.

My dearest friend Gina, mentioned [ here ], cut my hair this time.  She’s by far the best hairdresser I know, tho since I’m not local to Suisun anymore, she only sporadically does my hair.  I have to say…. I don’t like having short hair.  Anything above my chin I think makes me look fat. I guess it doesn’t help that I’m still in the process of losing baby weight.  But I figure the short hair is a temporary thing for a good cause. It was great catching up with Gina.  There might not be a better way to visit with a good friend than to lock yourself in to a 3 hour hair appointment.

#54- Adventures in Real Estate

As I headed out on this adventure I was reminded of a scene from Sex & The City, where Carrie realizes her closet was full of $40,000 worth of shoes.  Standing in the middle of the shoe department, she hands the salesman several pairs of shoes to try on, and says to him “But under NO circumstances am I going to buy these shoes…. this is just for fun.”  To which the salesman replies, “Oh……how fun for me.”

Bill, my friend in Real Estate (cause EVERYone needs a friend in real estate) lined up a few houses to show me, ….for fun (#54- go house hunting for fun with Bill). I like looking at houses, but not the cookie cutter, new home development houses.  I LOVE custom homes, old homes, victorian homes, cracked-out foreclosure homes. Probably because I am nosy by nature, and love to see what people might have been thinking when living in their homes.  For example,

closet kitchenette

A kitchenette…. in your closet….

That’s right, when you’re hiding in your closet and don’t want to come out… or when the kitchen itself is to much of a workout to get to, a stovetop, fridge and sink in the master bedroom closet is a no-brainer.

bedroom loft

Every kid’s dream

Now, a custom-built in loft in the child’s bedroom is probably something I, too, will do when I have oodles of disposable income. Seriously, how bad ass is this?  You could make it a tiny reading lounge, dress up space, video game room….Now, if the kid is in trouble this would also be the perfect spot to hide out because it was a little bit of a workout to hoist myself thru. Note to designer: Kitchenette needed up there as well…..

When you have too much disposable income

When you have too much disposable income

Maybe it’s because I can’t afford this, that it grosses me out like it does. Cause I think, does someone really want to pay for this upkeep? Imagine the heating bill!  The gardening bill! The electricity bill!  I’m so anal about appearance and cleanliness that I’d probably drive myself insane just sweeping this walkway each day, or at least thinking about how it needs to be swept. The tinyhouse movement appeals to me more than it should (google it) hence this house was strictly for me to make fun of the ….

chandeliers pillars wasted space

50+ gaudy chandeliers, hollow metal pillars and wasted square footage

I started counting the chandeliers but gave up when I saw they were also hanging over each toilet, sink and in the coat closet.  The pillars made me laugh.  I don’t know if it’s common practice to do fake pillars, but I suppose if the original owner wanted, he could have forgo one of his garages (for his 9 cars) and gotten the real deal.

I told him to smile

I told him to smile

Also important to note is that Bill is an extremely popular guy.  His phone rang no less than 100 times in our short time, so I felt special that he took the time to show me around!    Thank you Bill, it was fun for me…. hopefully fun for you 🙂

Sidenote: this came close to my dream shower: Several nozzles, jacuzzi included…. but I need at least a curtain or door….  can’t imagine what the steam does to the bathroom walls…

shower jacuzzi

room for a party!

#2- I’m on a boat!

My Aunt and Uncle own a Sailboat.  To give a precise and brief history of their sailing life would be difficult for me, but I will say that the invite to go sailing with them has been on the table for many years, to which I, of course,  always replied, “Yes! I would love to!”

In fact, I think it was Dena’s invitation yet again during the holidays that partially inspired my Bucket List.  I had been thinking of what would be fun and challenging for 2012, and at the same time kept thinking of how many more times I would put Dena’s invite on the back burner before I actually did it. Then bam! it struck me that I needed to create a To-Do list that was a MUST Do list.

Dena emailed me two weeks ago telling me it was pretty much now or never…. They were going to be leaving the San Leandro Yacht Club and heading to Mexico. For Good. At least, that is the plan. So, I set my alarm and headed out across the bay this morning, to go sailing with my Aunt & Uncle on their boat (#2).

I learned so SO much on this trip. Their boat is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath luxury cruiseliner (tho one room acts as a ‘garage’ she says) that is comparable to your luxury fifth wheel in the camping world. I loved the idea of sailboat living! Except when using the boat as a way to get from San Fran to Cabo. As fun and adventurous as it was, it took 7  hours to get from San Leandro to Half Moon Bay (stopping point #1 for their boat). Definitely not time efficient!  But for those who love to sail, like my Aunt and Uncle do, this is part of the lifestyle.

The views of the bay were amazing! I have taken the ferry a time or two, but this time it seemed just a bit more fabulous to see the skyline, the bridges, the islands and other ships up close from a personal angle. Not to mention, this was real sailing, where at times the boat was practically lying on its side as the wind pushed us along. I felt suddenly all snazzy finally being on a boat… cause most of the times I’d only catch glimpses as I drove across the bridges and wonder who all those cool people were sailing down below.

Originally I thought this might be  a kick-yer-feet up, grab a beer and soak in the sun kind of excursion. Not the case in the Bay. Sailing is actual WORK, especially once you are out along the coast.  I consider myself moderately tough when it comes to motion sickness, and I did manage just fine overall, but there was one moment when I went down to use the restroom  and came back up feeling ill.  The pictures makes the water seem calm… but it wasn’t all that smooth!

But I think the best part was the uninterrupted  time I got with my Aunt, catching up and learning about her retired life and plans.  An ultimate goal for them is to sail thru Panama into the Carribean, where my ultimate goal is to join them again 🙂  Thank you Dena and Dale!