Saturday, March 24, 2007

America the Beautiful

So in the midst of all of our Paris planning (we leave tomorrow!), we've also had to make a few decisions about at least one of other trips this year. Traditionally, we get the hell out of DC for Fourth of July because Tourists! Ew! and we head off and celebrate America in another way--we visit a national park. Last year's trip was awesome, and we decided to do another trip out west. Actually, we usually choose a park to go to on January 1st, but this year we didn't make a decision until a few weeks ago, for various reasons. I was really pulling for Rocky Mountain NP, and I thought it was a done deal, but then Yellowstone reared its head, and it was decided we would go there. Unfortunately, we were not the only ones who had that idea, and all the campsites for the Fourth were taken. So we decided on another California park--Lassen Volcanic.

Even though I've been to this park before, I'm still really excited about going back. If you've never seen a volcanic area (I guess I've seen four volcanic parks now), its definitely very striking. If the eruption is recent (like in the last 100 years), a lot of the trees are gone, and the land seems barren. But then you notice all the plants that flourish in that kind of environment.

Oh, but here's the sucky thing...they've raised the price of the National Parks Pass from $50 to $80 and they've given it a dumb name: the America the Beautiful pass. Granted, it now provides access to all other federal recreation areas (seashores, forests) that may charge a fee, but really, how many of those areas charge a fee? The price may be prohibitive, since we'll have to visit parks at least 8 times in a year, and honestly, I'm not sure if we can do that. They may have just shot themselves in the foot because I'm sure there's a lot of other folks like us that want to support the parks but don't want to be overcharged. Maybe we'll get it, just to be supportive, but I'm not so sure.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Give DC a vote!

Did you know that DC residents are not a part of any state? That means that we don't have any voting members in the House or the Senate. Yet we still pay federal income taxes. What happened to "no taxation without representation"?

This week, the House will vote on a bill that would give DC a voting member. Currently, DC has a non-voting delegate in the House, Eleanor Holmes Norton (you may remember her from her appearances on the Colbert Report). Politically, DC is very Democratic. Despite the fact that the bill also gives Utah another voting member (Utah is a very Republican state) due to population growth, the White House is urging Republican members of the House to vote against the bill. Even if the bill passes, the White House says that it will veto the bill. Right now, the bill has bi-partisan support, but the threat of a White House veto could deter some Republican Congressman.

It is outrageous in this day and age that U.S. citizens are not being given their Constitutional rights. Please urge your Congressman, Democrat or Republican, to vote for H.R. 1433.To read more about this issue, please visit the Washington Post's Metro website: . You can visit your Congressperson's webpage by visiting

Saturday, March 17, 2007

I {heart} Mana

Its only taken me about 15 years, but I finally got to see Mana in concert last night. My sister happened to mention to me late last fall that Mana was touring, so I decided to check out if they were going to be in my area. Surprisingly, they were playing a few miles away in Virginia. So last night, Matt and I braved the icy rain and drove an hour out to Virginia at the end of rush hour to see Mana.

I have to say, this was one of the best concerts I've ever seen. I own half of their albums, but you know its a great concert when you're really enjoying the music you've never heard before. Matt had only heard their songs when I would play the CDs, so he was really unfamiliar with their music. Yet he was really enjoying the music, totally rocking out.

What I loved: I loved that the drummer Alex was smiling throughout the concert. His drum solo was so awesome, some guy jumped on the stage and started doing the "we're not worthy" bow before he got tackled by security. I loved that they made it rain on stage. I loved that there were Latinos from all over Latin America at the concert, waving their banderas, and Fher wanted to see them all.

What I didn't love: Fher's pants. He is really tall, and he was wearing these black and white striped, high waisted things. I kept telling Matt, "Why won't Fher change pants?" Also, Fher endorsed Hillary Clinton, saying she was the voice of the Latinos in the U.S. What, no love for Obama? Also, they didn't play my favorite song, "Selva Negra."

This was a great band to see live, and even though these guys are in their 40s, they really rocked the house, for 2 and a half hours. I can't wait to see them again.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Time flies (like I will in a week)

Well, despite my rather pathetic efforts to learn French , the time for Paris is almost upon us. I can't believe its been seven months since we booked this trip, and I'm still kind of in shock that its finally going to be here. In addition to trying to learn French, we've been planning our trip. We're going to be mostly in Paris, with a day excursion to Versailles. Since we're only going to be there for five days, I think that's our best plan of attack.

Matt and I journaled during our trip to Italy two years ago, and I'm hoping to do the same for this trip. I found it was very relaxing to take 20 minutes to recount the day's adventures. This time, I'll probably post some of that writing on my Yahoo! Trip Journal (note: the Paris trip is not listed there because I'm keeping it private while we're still in the planning stages. But, hey, look at all those people who like my trip to Philly!).

I'm really hoping that a lot of people in France speak English, because basically the only thing I know how to say is, "Bonjour, monsieur. Excuse moi de vous deranger. Parlez vous Anglais?". Which translates into, "Hello sir. I'm a little crazy. Do you speak English?" Kidding! Actually it means, "Sorry for bothering you." I think that will be a very useful phrase.

Monday, March 05, 2007

barbecue in DC

After my visit to the gym this morning, I was really hungry. I mean, really hungry. The kind of hungry you get after working out for an hour and half. There's this barbecue place across the street from my gym that's pretty good, and the owner is from Texas, so it has the right intentions (but alas, its not quite the same, mostly because while the owner is from Texas, the cooks aren't). I went in fully intending to get a sausage sandwich, since I do love sausage, but instead ended up with a pulled chicken sandwich, since I was feeling guilty.

I didn't really like the bread, so I focused mostly on the meat. Like I said, pretty good, just not excellent. But here's the weird thing: the entire time I was in there (about 30 minutes), I was the only female there. Then I realized that most of the times I've been in there, I've been one of the only women there too. Very strange.

Most of my female friends (I refuse to use the term "girlfriends") tend to like meat, and food in general. I wonder if we are just DC anomolies?