Posts Tagged With: Prison

Worst tour guide ever?

Once upon a time I went to Munich Germany to experience the ever so popular festivities of Oktoberfest. Who would of known that this event would introduce two of my now dearest friends, Carina and Florian.

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I’m grateful to say that it would take several posts for me to show you all of the connections we’ve had since 2010, including but not limited to Amsterdam, Greece, Costa Rica, Recklinghausen and another Oktoberfest. With that said, let’s just jump to the exciting news that my amazing German bundles-of-joy finally made a visit to California!

Although I had been traveling as well and only arrived 18 hours prior to them, I had been planning a few adventures to show them just a small variety of what Northern California has to offer. Little did I know, my calendar dates were not in line with well… anything.

Could I really be the worst tour guide ever?!

Worst tour guide ever: Spend 4 years bragging about living next to the grand Folsom Lake, just to have them visit during one of the biggest droughts in history.

Redeem the situation by bringing them to a different body of water known as the American River. Sun, water, smiles… Check!

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Worst tour guide ever: Invite them to a big night on the town during the only holiday weekend in which everyone is out of town.

Redeem yourself by taking them on a Johnny Cash tour (they’re huge fans) from the actual “Folsom Prison” to the tracks in which you used to “hear the train uh comin…”.

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Eventually making it to Reno (where Mr.Cash “shot a man… just to watch him die”).

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Worst tour guide ever: Almost run out of gas on the way to your next stop.

Redeem yourself by making sure to point out the stateline… Twice!

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Worst tour guide ever: Register for a “discount motel” without ever seeing it before.

Redeem yourself by bringing out a camera and spending five extra minutes in the room doing, hmm… I don’t know what to call this one.

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Worst tour guide ever: Describe the perfect beach… just to arrive at a full parking lot and an over populated coastline.

Redeem yourself with a walk through the gorgeous greenery of North Lake Tahoe to a lesser known beach. Classic panoramic views and sandy toes… Check!

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Worst tour guide ever: Get them really excited about the huge Gondola ride, stand in line, get to the ticket booth and find out it has doubled in price since last time you were there!

Redeem yourself by taking a night walk lit by fireworks and stumble upon what appears to be a huge bike?! Photo time!

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Worst tour guide ever: Take them to a country bar explaining the art of line-dancing and prepare them for tall cowboy hats, only to walk in to an empty bar with a dj playing pop and hip-hop music all night.

Redeeming yourself isn’t as necessary here, because with energetic music and quality people… fun just follows.

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Worst tour guide ever: Drive them to San Francisco not realizing there were a dozen festivals happening which means, extreme traffic and no parking…anywhere!

Redeeming happened with a refreshing walk across the popular Golden Gate Bridge.

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To conclude the possibility of me being the worst tour guide ever, I’ll close with the defense that when you combine genuine people with a true desire for a good time… No tour guide, weather disasters or other unexpected fault can tarnish a beautiful memory. Honored to have been a host and now sad to see them go, I’ll simply look forward to the next glorious time we meet again. Fingers crossed, I’m not the guide.

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I want to recognize several fabulous people that you see in the post above.
Hayden, (who met Florian in Greece and Carina in Amsteredam) thank you for opening your home, loaning your truck and being the best second worst tour guide with me!
Michelle and Nick, (met Carina and Hayden in Costa Rica) your lovely Truckee home and energetic night out in Reno absolutely enhanced our time together, thank you for all of the love!
Nate, (who was in Germany with me, but didn’t get to meet these guys till now) thanks for being so flexible, your hospitality didn’t go unnoticed!
Ian, (who met their friends Denise and Ioni in Argentina) I’m so thankful we got to celebrate your birthday with you this year!
Mike, (met Carina in Amsterdam) so glad you brought another smile to the table.
Crystal, thanks for making time to come out and finally meet the duo I’ve been telling you about. Ps, you doing the worm made the night!

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3 things to add to your “must do list” in Chiang Mai!

Here are a few memorable things that I would suggest doing in Chiang Mai that you may not read about in a travel brochure.

1. Be a guest to a mystery occasion.

Bree and I were headed out for a walk and happen to pass an opening to a gate that lead to dozens of people socializing, walking from table to table receiving food, drinks and desserts. Was this a temple, a church, possibly an invite only special ceremony? Judging from the abundance of complementary items, we assumed it might be a charity event or perhaps some sort of community gathering. The curiosity must of been plastered on our faces because within a short moments time, we were waved in by several happy locals. We politely bowed upon entering and whispered to each other (you know the kind when you talk out of the side of your mouth as if no one would notice or could hear you) “What are we walking into? Who knows, just keep smiling”.

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To this day, we still don’t know exactly what the occasion was, however it left my cup overflowing with love. What a beautiful feeling to embrace knowing these kind people were not only quick to invite us in, but eager to welcome us to stay.

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A delicious local lunch, a drink with dessert and a joyous feeling in the soul… $0.00.

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2. Moving on to what is listed on the top picks for Thailand, but should be bumped up in ranking! I’m sure you’ve heard of Thai massage in regards to the superb techniques and low price. Lila’s made an imprint in my mind, not only because of its high quality service, but its founding mission. Developed 40 years ago, this program provides thorough education and opportunity to female inmates that are soon to be released back into the public. Once they’ve completed training, they are able to make a living and contribute to society without discrimination from possible employers or fellow employees.

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Although you can receive a typical massage in Chiang Mai for $4-5, I’d much rather donate $8-10 to a positive cause that develops confidence and self worth to those involved. Let me inform you that our $10 fee included a warm foot soak, 90 minute full body traditional Thai massage and the best ginger tea I’ve ever had! So good, in fact, that we asked to see the container so we could go buy some. (Sad day when they inform you that they personally make it daily and its not for sale).

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If that’s not in your budget, you can get an even better deal from the program in which they are still in training. That was our original intention, until we were read the sign below.

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3. Last but far from the least, I’m here to inform you of the best (and I really mean my #1) edible item that I had in all of Asia. Since we never got the proper name for it, Bree and I just referred to the whole experience as “going to see the Egg Lady”.

The first time we approached the stand, we glanced down into a bowl of surprise soup with a shoulder shrug as we discussed if it was worth a try. After a broken english game of Charades, we came to the conclusion that there was no meat, it was sweet and just $1 a bowl. Since neither of us had ever seen it and both of us love to try new things, we had definitely found our mystery meal of the day.

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Taste time! Judging by the look on Bree’s face, she was experiencing the same euphoria that I was. A perfect combination between sweet and slightly salty left you wondering if you could get away with serving this for dinner and dessert. The texture of the balls that floated around the egg made an extraordinary addition to the warm coconut milk that sweetened the entire combination. A moment of silence wasn’t even necessary to request, as we both sat there staring at one another in pleasant disbelief.

The first night we split a cup and enjoyed every bite. The following day we just “happened” to be in her neighborhood after dinner and made it back to share another serving. I think Nitwadee (Egg Lady) was just as excited to our familiar faces, as we were to find her there waiting and ready to serve up. Our last comment to her that evening was “see ya tomorrow”!

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The following night was my last day in Chiang Mai, so naturally we agreed to make it to “The Egg Lady” one last time so I could savor the goodness before I departed. We went about our day and while packing up my backpack, it dawned on me that we had never asked what time she closed down. It was already dark and we had a solid stretch to get there in time. “Bree, we need to go…now!”.

Rarely do I think of having video cameras around, however on this evening I would of loved to have seen the 8 minute process from start to first bite. Friends and fellow backpackers, please picture this:

The two of us in flip flops speed walking along the broken streets of Thailand giggling at the idea that we had dropped all plans and responsibilities to reach our sweet Egg Lady. As our jokes turned into serious thoughts, “Would if she is closed?”, our speed walking turned to a jog and the giggles increased to the kind that almost prevents you from being able to breathe properly. By the final corner, we were now sprinting through traffic with tears of laughter and partial relief to see her adorable little stand still lit up.

I won’t go into much detail on what happened in the next few minutes, but just imagine the two of us girls out of breath, laughing hysterically while trying to explain to a new lady (who we later found out was Nitwadee’s mom, the original Egg Lady!) that we indeed wanted 2 bowls. She had already began to clean up so I’m not sure if it was our red cheeks and happy eyes or the fact that we came barreling around her stand full speed that caused her to fire it up and make another batch. Either way, the small smile on her amused face spoke in volumes when Bree and I jumped with innocent excitement. I repeat, we literally jumped up and down like 2 squealing school girls as she reached for the eggs.

After we finally tamed our enthusiasm, we were able to get the granddaughter to translate for us. She told “grandma” that we had been coming every night and today would be the last visit. We then proceeded to ask about the recipe to see if there was any way we could even get just the ingredients to attempt to make it on our own. What happened next was unexpected and it solidifies my impression of the people of Thailand…

She proceeded to call her daughter (the one we had been visiting every night) and handed the phone to me! Bree busted out a piece of paper and before I could even grasp what was happening, we not only had the recipe but her personal contact I for for any questions! All of this being a memory that still fills my heart with ecstasy.

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If you find yourself if Chiang Mai leave city central, exit the North gate and walk diagonal to your left crossing the street. There will be a line of food vendors (near the 7eleven) and our precious Egg Lady is directly under the big “Ford” sign. I send you with high expectations and an “above satisfaction” guarantee!

UPDATE: I tried to make it on my own! Of course this first attempt wasn’t anything as magnificent as hers, but I wouldn’t consider it a failure. Simply means I get to keep trying.

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Categories: Edibles!, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wholesome Folsom

Folsom California, the place one would call my “hometown”. I started kindergarden here in what used to be a quaint little historical town with under 15,000 residents. Since then, I graduated, worked and started a business while watching the population rocket, reaching almost 75,000 people! Now a vibrant busy city with much to see, the following post is my week as a “tourist”.

(Most of the pictures seen on this post are from my camera, however a few were snagged from some locals and websites). Thank you!

I had my long time local friends vote for the next handstand picture to represent this adorable place and the the winner by far…
The Rainbow Bridge!
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I was stoked and ready for a quick shot of this historical landmark that was built in 1916 and still in full use today. I thought “quick”, that was until we got down there and realized that the best angle was on a flat rock IN the American River.

The fun begins! Shall we take a second to laugh at the fact that I’m in a mini skirt and sandals… Brilliant.
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Hmmm, definitely have to get wet if this is going to be a success. Wardrobe change!
Kicked off the sandals, pulled my skirt up to make a shirt and took my shirt off to make it a scarf.
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Almost there…
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Made it!
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On the trek back, Ian (the amazing personal photographer of the day) caught me staring into the water as if there would be a way around it.
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It takes a patient person to “tour” around all day taking photos of things you’ve looked at since childhood (he grew up here as well). Ian, you’re a great friend!
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Folsom Prison, yes the one made famous in a song by the legendary Johnny Cash. For all of my friends abroad who have never heard of it, try searching for it on YouTube (Johnny cash – Folsom Prison Blues) it’s a classic!  If you live near, in or around this area and were born before 1994 and don’t know this song… please report yourself to the local authorities for breaking some sort of unspoken law.

Some pics of the entrance.
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…and a “not so” entrance.
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As Folsom expanded, the rainbow bridge was no longer sufficient for all of the growth.
Here is the “new bridge” that has opened up traffic flow to cross the American River.
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You’re looking at the massive Folsom Dam that was closed in 2003 for security issues following the September terrorist attacks of 2001. The solid bridge in front of it is the the new crossing that opened in 2009.
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Sutter street is the old main road back from the gold rush days in the early 1800’s.
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Recently renovated, the main street is now a vibrant attraction for several different reasons. Clothing boutiques and antique shops to bars and cafes, it has something for everyone.
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Snooks is a family owned and operated factory providing chocolate, carmel apples, taffy, ice cream and candy in which they make mostly right here!
Warning: do not enter this establishment unless you are fully prepared to be tempted with sweet smells, unique textures and samples of luxurious flavors.
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The original Folsom Hotel… now a popular bar with a not so secret kitchen serving up food that I dare not classify as “bar food”. It’s quality is above and beyond. Well done Dan!
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This is the Hacienda, a Mexican restaraunt that sits at the corner on the second story over looking a portion of Sutter street.
This pic is standing in the street looking up at the balcony.
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Up the stairs…
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… To the balcony and views from both sides.
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This is a recent picture of me and Janine enjoying the balcony ambiance. This lovely woman has opened her home to me with the upmost hospitality during my travels back to Folsom. Thank you friend for the warm welcome and fun girl chats!
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Inside are several tables for families to enjoy the chips and salsa and fancy blended drinks. These photos are on the other side of the restaurant where there’s a large bar with a social setting. I love all of the colors!
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Mystery shot!? I just don’t know about that.
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Recognize this guy? Ian is the smile that accompanied me in Argentina for the Iguazu Falls!
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Folsom has several parks and playgrounds (There are over 40!)
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(I did not take most of the city pics to follow)

A water park!
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Skate park
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Dirt riding track
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There are dog parks for the families with “paw babies”.
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Bike Trails
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This town has grown to a city with 10 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, 3 high schools and a community college. I found this pic on line and due to my lack of a helicopter, I thought I’d use it. This is the high school I graduated from, scene from birds eye view.
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Folsom lake
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Although Folsom doesn’t have your typical city scene night clubs, it certaintly does it’s job of  providing a variety of places to enjoy adult beverages, live music and billards.  Depending on the evening, you can also find a Dj spinning to a dance floor of people usually involving a group celebrating a birthday, engagement, or simple girls night out (which typically brings the “boys night out”… Funny how that works).

To prevent a bunch of dark photos of the back of people’s heads, I went out during the day and snapped some pics of the local bars.

“The Purp” as some call it, is a restaurant and bar combo providing some of the best Bloody Mary’s around, a menu full of classic dishes and daily entertainment ranging from televised sports to dancing and live music.
This is one of my favorites for the kickstart of the well known “Sunday Funday”.
Locals Definition of “Sunday Funday”: An extension of the party weekend usually beginning early with “the hair of the dog” and followed by some activity in the sun with your peers. Usually ending… sunburnt.

If you arrive here on a Sunday morning, you’ll find some girls in a mini dress with makeup (probably from the events of the previous night) to ladies in jeans and flip flops. Guys in hats ready for the lake sitting next to a table of elderly gentleman dressed from earlier church services. I always get a kick out of the bikers that ride in on their motorcycles in full leather gear.
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A shot of the open part of the bar.
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Folsom Lake Bowl, otherwise known as FLB.
When I was little, my dad used to take me here every week during his bowling league. I would get my little ball and mess around on a lane while emptying the .10 cent gum ball machine.  Now it’s a full bar, casino, bowling alley, with an attached uniquely styled barber shop. This is the central “go to” if you’re looking for people, food, drinks, billiards, music, gambling and/or sports. The indoor and outdoor areas are comfortable for crowds and they have TV screens that are always showing the latest sporting events.
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Lucky’s Barber Shop! There’s something to be said about people who can appreciate art… if it be hanging on the walls, tattooed on the skin, or designed in the hair. Good on ya fellas!
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Other options to choose from range quite a bit depending on your budget and what you desire for the evening. Quick run down on my favorites:

Streets of London: A British pub serving up authentic dishes and great drinks in a fútbol decorated bar. They also have picnic tables outside with a comfortable, welcoming vibe and fair prices.

Samuel Horne’s: A narrow room with creative seating that specializes in local brews.  Their wall of beer changes perodically giving you a variety of tastes with the added lesson of where it came from and it’s distinct flavors.  It also has a chef on hand that makes fabulous bites to compliment the cold beers.
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…and it happens to provide the stage for a weekly acoustical set by a well known local friend, Scott Graham.  You’ve heard of him? Thought so.
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The list goes on! Sports Garage, Wine Bar, Manderas, the entire strip on Sutter street including the Hotel, Scarletts, Powerhouse, Sutter club, old Europe, and more!

Instead of me listing the other dozens of fun places, just email me if you want more info.  There’s honestly so many that this post will start to take a turn to a “best route to pub crawl in Folsom”.

I grew up in this city, back when it was nicked named “The Cow Town”. A time when everyone knew the owner of each local business and you graduated high school with the same kids you learned your ABC’s with.
Although I’ve packed up and moved out to see more of this beautiful planet, it’s always so nice to come back and be reminded of where I came from.

A sincere thank you to all of my friends that welcomed me with the brightest smiles and cheerful eyes! The love was felt beyond the hugs. If time didn’t allow us to connect, I still absorbed the warmth from the emails, voicemails and even the honking and waving from cars passing!

…cheers till next time Folsom.

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