Monday, October 27, 2008

Updated Project 30 List - 10/26/08

Project 30 Official List -
Updated October 26, 2008, 6 weeks to go.

#1 - Purchase an Ipod - Complete
#2 - Visit Vegas & See a show (Spice Girls) - Complete
#3 - Whale Watching on Monterey Bay - Complete

#4 - Tour St. George's Spirits, Makers of Hangar One Vodka - Complete

#5 - See 'Wicked', the Broadway Musical - Complete
#6 - Ride a Mechanical Bull for Valentines Day - Complete
#7 - Multi-Course Dinner - AsiaSF - Complete
#8 - Winchester Mystery House - Wild Card - Complete
#9 - Kooza, Cirque Du Soleil Show - Wild Card - Complete

#10 - San Jose Sharks vs. St. Louis Blues Hockey Game - Complete
#11 - Elephant Seals during Mating Season at Ano Nuevo - Complete
#12 - Dance Lessons - Friday Night Waltz - Complete

#13 - Broadway Show in NYC - Complete
#14 - Baseball Game #1 - See Yankees (Last Year in Stadium) - Complete
#15 - Tour Museums in DC - Complete
#16 - Baseball Game #2 - See Mets (Last Year in Stadium) - Complete

I turned 30!

#17 - Minor League Baseball Game - Complete
#18 - Berry Picking - Complete

#19 - Secret Stencil Mission - Complete

#20 - Gun Shooting - Complete
#21 - Santa Cruz Mystery Spot - Complete
#22 - Roaring Camp Railroad - Complete
#23 - Horseback Riding in Half Moon Bay - Complete
#24 - Wine tasting - Complete

Spa Time
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Art Show at my House

Cable Car Riding
Cal Arts & Sciences

Edits to list since last update:
I have removed tasks that didn't seem like they were possible before the end of the project such as Disneyland, the Football game, Train ride to San Diego and the naked picture taking. They are all things I am still going to work towards, but would inhibit the completion of the project in 1 year. I feel comfortable with what I replaced them with, and as I stated at the start of the project, it's my year long party and I can change it as I want!

Project 30: Cheers!

Task 24/30: Go Winetasting.
Complete: October 26, 2008

Soquel Vineyards

I'm not a big wine drinker, I am actually a big wine idiot. As a professional adult, this is sort of an undesired thing for me, I don't want to appear clueless and therefore appear classless. I want to at least know more about wine than pairing red with beef and white with chicken and fish. I've drank a fair share of wine, but I seem to miss the complexities and subtlety that a lot of people revel in. I prefer vodka obviously, but just because it is not my drink of choice doesn't mean that there isn't virtue in having some wine education.

While when I put wine tasting on the list, it was planned as a big afternoon of shuttled drunken fun around the Napa area. But again, like so many things in this project, the idea was really about education and not about excess, so I feel comfortable with a little substituting here. I am lucky enough to have friends that have some serious expertise in the area and yesterday a buddy and I trekked into the Santa Cruz mountains after our horse riding to sample some of the wines at Soquel Vineyards.

It is a beautiful property that reminded me that I don't have to go all the way to Scotts Valley or Ben Lomand for country times. It was one of those things that made me seriously consider moving to a new part of town. It seemed like another event took place on a perfect fall day, so the vineyards and the sunlight just seem to combine in the most picture perfect scene. We tasted 5 wines and I learned about the differences and some nifty wine terms to help me figure out what I'm drinking. I learned a little about the business of wine, and how grapes travel and are sold. It was neat and I think it was a good relaxing Sunday activity that was enjoyable and satisfying enough to call this very easily MISSION COMPLETE!

Project 30: Whooooooooooaaaaaaaaa!

Task 23/30: Go Horseback Riding on the Beach
Complete: October 26, 2008

Horseback Riding in Moss Landing

This is probably in my top favorite tasks that I have done this year. Thanks to Monterey Bay Equestrian, my lifelong dream of riding horses galloping down the beach came true and exceeded all my expectations. (Including the expectation that my ass would be sore today, but maybe not THIS sore.) Yesterday, a beautiful brisk day in the Monterey Bay area, me and a girlfriend set out for Moss Landing to meet our guide and our horses for an hour long trek on the beach and the dunes.

Horseback Riding in Moss Landing

Horseback Riding in Moss Landing

Unlike many of my tasks in the project there wasn't anything tentative about this one. The horses were beautiful and not scary at all, the injury factor was still high, but less likely and there was no great fear being tackled, only fun. From the moment I made the reservation, I was stoked about it, and the staff that took my call was friendly and encouraging. They met us on the beach and saddled up the horses for our tour and a shorter one leaving at the same time as us. While me and my friend sat on our saddles, we waited for the late comers to join our tour and got acquainted with our new furry friends. My ride for the afternoon was Geronimo, and he was such a sweet and mild mannered horse, I felt completely safe and comfortable.

Horseback Riding in Moss Landing

We started off down the beach, trotting side by side behind the guide. Geronimo wasn't a big fan of hanging in the back and anytime he felt we were lagging, he would sprint ahead into the pack. It was cute that he couldn't keep up in a normal pace, but it made my butt a bit bruised from the excessive galloping in the catching up. There was a time when we posed in the surf on our horses, and then we did some serious galloping, during which my camera took a leap out of my pocket and into the sand. Thankfully the kind guide retrieved it for me and we returned to our sprint down the sand. It was a sweet little ride down the beach before making a turn onto the path through the dunes which were equally stunning. It is so amazing to gaze out over the river bed and agricultural rich ground and think how beautiful it all is, and then realize that this is my home. It was nice and relaxing in the single file strut and noticing the hawks and other majestic birds loop in the wind was breathtaking.

For some of it, it seemed too short, but parts of my body today disagree. It is definitely something that I would do again without thinking, and most certainly plan to do in the future. I'm very happy to call this MISSION COMPLETE. I wish I could do that every weekend...

Horseback Riding in Moss Landing

Project 30: Chugga Chugga Choo Choo...

Task 22/30: Ride the Roaring Camp Railroad
Complete: October 25, 2008

Roaring Camp Railroad

The Santa Cruz Mountains are home to the glorious Roaring Camp Railroad and for all the time I have lived in Santa Cruz and heard the horn blowing down by the boardwalk, I have never ridden the train. Unfortunately, at this point in the season, there is no longer a route the includes the beach, but there are still three treks into the forest daily. Saturday seemed like a beautiful autumn day to kick back and breathe some fresh air and take in the giants that line the north of me.

Roaring Camp Railroad

Roaring Camp Railroad

After I finished The Mystery Spot, I darted up to Felton and found myself transported to years ago. The property that houses the depot is just precious and I couldn't be more thankful to come upon it at this time of year. The colors of the trees danced in the wind and everything just seemed so beautiful and golden. I grabbed my ticket and a hamburger and sat myself down on the bench seat of the open car one back from the steam engine that would be pulling our way. It was a full train of families and tourists, but already the tone was much more pleasant and relaxed than The Mystery Spot.

Roaring Camp Railroad

Roaring Camp Railroad

Off through the trees we went for an hour of up and down hill chugging. There were broken bridges and burnt out trees. I felt like they provided enough information about the train for the junkies, but enough balance of the area and the nature to keep the rest of us entertained. It seemed like we did more stopping than riding though, as there were times that you'd go up one hill just to get enough momentum to go back down and switch back to the track going the other direction. A crafty way to turn a train at a sharp angle, but a pretty boring pause for the rest of us. There was a brief stop on the top of the mountain for a bathroom break and some pictures of the engine or trees, whatever your preference. I was happy for a moment to remove the seemingly large branch that found itself embedded into my eye socket and blinding me for a good while. It was not pleasant, and the bright sun shining through the tree branches just seemed to complicate things, so I was happy for a chance to chill in the shade and calm my crying eyes. Once the obstacle was finally removed from my blinking, I was able to climb back aboard the train in time for the departure back down the mountain. The beauty was breathtaking.

It was a wonderful hour of fresh air and nature, and I would certainly do it again with visitors from out of town, or maybe just a picnic lunch on the grounds before a big hike into the State Park. Either way, this was a pleasant project that is now MISSION COMPLETE.

See all my pictures from Roaring Camp here.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Project 30: "If we knew what was happening here, we'd be the solved spot."

Task 21/30: Visit the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot
Complete: October 25, 2008

Santa Cruz Mystery Spot

Deep in the forest, less than 10 miles from here, is a tourist trap. I have lived in this town for 12 years and I have never visited the "World Famous" Santa Cruz Mystery Spot. Once, I tried to go, but they were sold out and we didn't want to wait. On Saturday, I decided that would change, and I took myself up to the mountain for a sunny day to witness this "miracle" in the forest that had been good enough for Ripley's Believe it or Not and Life Magazine.

Santa Cruz Mystery Spot Santa Cruz Mystery Spot

The Mystery Spot is a gravitational anomaly located in the redwood forests just outside of Santa Cruz, California. It is a circular area of effect around 150 feet or 46 meters in diameter. Within the Mystery Spot you will be stunned as your perceptions of the laws of physics and gravity are questioned. But don't take our word for it, come and decide for yourself!

The Mystery Spot was discovered in 1939 by a group of surveyors and opened to the public in 1940. The Mystery Spot has amazed and perplexed hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world, and many return time and time again to experience these puzzling variations of gravity, perspective, and height.

Some speculate that cones of metal were secretly brought here and buried in our earth as guidance systems for their spacecraft. Some think that it is in fact the spacecraft itself burried deep within the ground. Other theories include carbon dioxide permeating from the earth, a hole in the ozone layer, a magma vortex, the highest dielectric biocosmic radiation known anywhere in the world, and radiesthesia. Whatever the cause is, it remains a mystery.

Santa Cruz Mystery Spot

When I told some friends on Friday night that I was getting up on Saturday to brave new worlds, they laughed and said enjoy. But I was still determined to see what the great mystery was. At the very minimum, it was an afternoon in the sun and trees and I needed fresh air.

Santa Cruz Mystery Spot

Tickets are $5 and parking is $5 for overall it was a $10 venture that had me feeling that I sort of swindled in the same way that you were at an old school carnival. I mean, maybe I just smart or skeptical, but nothing they did was really all that "unexplainable" or more than a serious optical illusion.

Santa Cruz Mystery Spot

I mean really, I'm not sure this place is constantly packed, but damn, people are fools. I was on a tour with people who thought this was really quite possibly the coolest thing they had ever seen. Ever. The little kids made sense, but there were adults who were just totally convinced by the slight of the slats. I giggled, I was happy it was short. We were graced with a pretty energetic tour guide and I do think she probably made that painful hour of my life much more entertaining. I did appreciate her extra effort, and I thanked her kindly as she handed me my signature yellow Mystery Spot sticker that would not be making a home on my car. I sort of chuckled as I climbed back into my car and was happy that I went and was happy to call this MISSION COMPLETE.

Santa Cruz Mystery Spot

Project 30: Guns kill people.

Task 20/30: Shoot a gun.
Complete: October 16, 2008

Markley's Gun Range

I am from a family where there were shotguns in the hallway at my grandparents house, in the closet at my uncles. I don't know if the gun cabinet was locked, I knew better. There were bows under the bed. Hunting and fishing was a thing. I also have lived in cities. I have had friends who have suffered from violence, who have died. I have always known that guns were powerful and to be respected. To me, they were scary. Last year when I started this project planning, I was up late watching the CBS tv show "The Unit" online. It was an episode that went something where the guy was too afraid to pull the trigger and he died or someone he loved died. I can't remember, but what I do remember is being really surprised that was the plot twist that was made in the suspenseful moment. I was shocked, because I identified with that. I think that there is so much for me to think about and review, that it would be possible that I would be too afraid and there would be bad harm. So I thought since it is something I have talked about doing for a while, and have pretty ready access to lots of gun proficient people, I put it on the list as something to do.

Two of my favorite men stepped up to make it their assignment for the project and for almost the entire year hounded me non-stop about going, but I was either too busy or too afraid to deal with it all. Like many of the projects that have come about however, an unplanned opportunity to satisfy my objective fell into my lap. Another one of my favorite men was having his birthday party after work at the local range, and a bunch of us from work descended there for a couple of hours one evening.

Markley's Gun Range Markley's Gun Range

I have to say that overall, the experience was pretty powerful for me, and I am certainly glad that I have done it, but from the start, it was weird. Walking into the gun store that houses the range, it is filled with numerous stuffed victims that pad the walls. There is very little administration and confirmation of identity, to a questionable point. I mean, I blinked and signed my name and there was bullets and a .22 and protective gear in front of me. With no instruction, we walked into the range after covering our eyes and ears and walked to our lanes to settle in. I pretty much jumped every time someone fired for a very long time while we were in there, if not the whole time. You can cover your ears, but it still vibrates and its loud.

Markley's Gun Range

I was too nervous to start without the more experienced of our group, but I watched as a couple of the boys loaded up and shot at targets that looked like zombies. When the gun was empty they showed me the parts and let me touch it and put it together and take it apart again. I just still wasn't comfortable with the bullets part. I mean, hello, anyone who knows me knows that I am clumsy even in the best of all intended circumstances. I am easily distracted, and totally fumbly. To make matters worse, I was fairly intimidated with how small my hands felt on the gun and how much effort I had to exert to shift and move things. I didn't like how big it all felt in my hand and I was dealing with a small gun. I didn't like it and we hadn't even started yet.

Then the rest of the group showed. The part of the group that owns guns and shoots guns often and were there to lead the way. We went outside for a short safety talk, and for me, some fresh air. I was having a hard time. I wasn't liking how loud it was, I certainly didn't like how dangerous it was. I was pretty sure it was all a bad idea, and was trying to figure out how I could get out of firing one of those things. There was more safety talk, with lots of emphasis on the danger. There was a point when there was a pause and a note that this "wasn't helping Tori" and then confirmation that didn't help that "yes, you should be scared." My friends were right, it wasn't helping and there was no way to hide the fact I was going to have a girl second and a tear rolled down my cheek. Damn. It's okay, I recovered.

We went back inside and there was lots of lessons now with the gun and lots of watching and picture taking for me. But then it was done with everyone else and it was my time. So I took a few minutes with the gun and just me and did the practicing of the pieces again a few times until I felt comfortable. I was so scared. And not in a way like I am scared with a lot of things, but in a bad way that isn't pushing boundaries but that I just was terrified. I didn't like it one bit. I wasn't sure I could do bullets. I wasn't sure I was unfumbly enough to load it. I knew I wasn't leaving there without pulling the trigger once, but could I really load the clip and stick it in the gun? This is an entire action that is not with a safety on, I could drop it or someone could yell my name and I could forget and turn around or I would point it down and shoot my foot. I mean, hello, let's pause for a minute people who know me and realize that they let me, the girl who broke her arm walking, hold a thing that is meant to kill people. Yes, cars and planes kill people, but their main purpose in mechanical operation is not to provide mortal wounds. So I figured if I could load it, that I would be pushing my boundaries enough. It may seem silly but I have gotten to this point in my life where I am perfectly comfortable with my path even if it isn't as extreme as other peoples. This was one of those things. To the boys it was nothing to load clip after clip in bigger and bigger guns and fire into target after target. But for me, just being there was a big deal, so getting through the next steps was huge, even if small in comparison.

Markley's Gun Range

I got to put the bullets in the clip and the clip into the gun and stand and fire. It wasn't as scary firing the first one, but once I had done it, I just wanted all the bullets to be gone and it to be over. I could hear my friend saying that I should stay steady and I knew I was supposed to be aiming but all I could think was trying to keep it pointed forward and begging for it all to be over quickly. It seemed like it took so long and then it was done and I just wanted the weapon out of my hand. It felt good to have done it and I was happy that I went and I shot. But it didn't seem to have the effect of lessening fear that I wanted and maybe instead makes guns more real so maybe I fear and respect them more now.

Markley's Gun Range

It is just so weird how easy it was that a gun was in my hands and how easy it could have all gone wrong. It just seems so weird to me that people think that they are fun and exciting. I mean, I realized recently that many things I dislike are really things I misunderstand and are in awe over, and I think that this is one of those things. It is weird, because while this is something that was much less fun than say a Broadway show, it is something that was a big impact and a growing experience for me. I will probably think about it and process it for years and I think that I accomplished what I had wanted to do for me. I needed to know that I could pull the trigger of a gun, and now that I know that I have, I know that I can. I know myself like that, and that means I don't really need guns in my life. But this, thankfully, is finally MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Markley's Gun Range

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Project 30: "The Not So Secret Stencil Mission"

Task 19/30: Stencil Something
Complete: August 29, 2008

I am not sure how long ago it was that I saw my first stencil in the Mission, but public art has become one of those things that I am not sure I will ever stop obsessing over. Art in the public domain is symbolic and representative and speaks volumes about the culture in which is resides. I love statues, I love sculpture, but it is no secret that I love paint, and have an appreciation for the clever. The worldwide stencil invasion reached the cement of San Francisco and next to the beautiful murals of Clarion street came the spray painted sentiments of so-called rebels looking to bask in the glory of Banksy. The invasion reached me, and my lens, and I began driving miles just to walk solo steps through alleys and up sidewalks trying to find a stray scattering of paint left by some bold worldly mentor. I was in awe. I was envious. I wanted to be as clever and stunning, secretly admired. I wanted to stencil.

My idea when I added this to the project that I would find something stellar and witty that I thought was so brilliant that it should be shared illegally with everyone. I thought for months, brainstormed with friends, it was consuming at times. There was the idea that I could design a stencil that friends everywhere could use, and it would be symbolic. Then there was funny phrases and sweet designs that we came up with, quotes from songs, personal jokes, but none so wonderful that they were what I wanted to scar the world with.

The night before I left for Burning Man, I thought about the people who had designed stencils and set out in front of their camps for people to create t-shirts or remember their moments. I remember being sad in the past that I would hear about them or would find them but not be wearing anything but a bikini top. I thought I could design something similar, maybe our camp name, maybe the year. I tried and it was harder than I thought to carve the letters into the cardboard, and I found myself failing at my task. I wished I had a template to trace, something wonderful that said me. I had a mask from ComicCon, an Emily the Strange mask, that is one of my favorites and certainly a black cat says me. So I played and traced and in the end, found myself with a structure for a double layered symbol of my affection that I packed into my bins with some silver and blue thinking maybe I would be bold and spray the man, maybe the temple in honor of my beloved Bella.

2 Color Cat Stencil

What a blessing occurred when we got to the playa and less than a block away became the Morphing Mural of 4:30 and E. I was shy, I wanted to paint, but some of the things seemed beautiful and brilliant and so I stayed away. Then later in the week came and I got bold and so we went and I sprayed my space kitty on the wall. I was proud, I had contributed to something that had become a very large part of my days in my week. I was brave, I created, and I accomplished. I was a bit sad, I created a tiny mess but I dilligently cleaned up what I could. It was a good thing with our timing, because had I waited until that evening, to do it under the dead of darkness, the mural would have been taken down and been done, and I would likely be regreting that I was afraid to push myself off the edge. Instead, I sprayed, and I am proud.

Stencil Mission

While again, it wasn't exactly what I had intended when I started this project and made my list, I think since so many of the things are turning out that way, and the spirit remains the same, so I am calling this "Mission Complete". Maybe I will find some secret place back here in the default world to spray my stencil. Maybe I will do it somewhere I walk often, maybe that way when I see it, I will remember that I am brave, that I am powerful, that I am that girl from the playa that can do anything.

Project 30: Mmmm Berries

Task 18/30: Pick Berries at a Local Farm
Complete: July 18, 2008

olallieberry picking at swanton farms olallieberry picking at swanton farms

For my next trick, I mean task, me and a fabulous group of ladies went Berry picking in lovely Santa Cruz county. I've wanted to do it for years, I'm such a sucker for berries of all kinds and can quickly consume plentiful quantities in a single sitting. I am so blessed to live in such an agricultural rich area full of all the fresh produce that I could want, and farmer's markets almost every day of the week to get the freshest of pickings. But there is also something appealing about the stained fingers and scratched arms that come with doing it yourself.

olallieberry picking at swanton farms

The spring was waning and our chances of finding a farm with anything exciting to pick were starting to get slim, but we pushed ahead. Ahead to the coastal farm of Swanton to pick Olallieberries on their last weekend open. The pickings were slim, literally. The berries were fairly shriveled and it took some hunting to find the ones that months of children and pie making old women had missed. There was still a scattering of people throughout the patch while we picked, anxious to get the last morsels for jams and jellies. Mine were of course mainly for eating, and I ate quite a few straight from the vine.

olallieberry picking at swanton farms

olallieberry picking at swanton farms

We picked for quite a while, and all of us seemed satisfied with our score, so we headed out. We wrapped up a fabulous local morning with lunch at the yummiest deli in Davenport and dessert at Kelly's on the west side. It was great to be out with the girls, in the sun with the ocean in sight. It is always a good day when I can be outside in my beautiful state, and I am so glad that I finally got to do this. I am even considering apple picking, because I certainly do love a good apple pie. This is definitely MISSION COMPLETE and something I will most certainly be doing again in years to come.

olallieberry picking at swanton farms

olallieberry picking at swanton farms

Project 30: Take me out to the ballgame...

Task 17/30: Attend a Minor League Ball Game
Complete: July 5, 2008

San Jose Giants Baseball 7/5/08

There is something very appealing to me about minor leagues for any sport. I think the kids in the NCAA try harder and certainly, you want to get called up to the "bigs" as your dream. I have been doing such a good job of making baseball a part of my year, which is, definitely something I haven't done in the past, that it seemed that going to a minor league game would fit very nicely in the project. It turned out to be even more convenient that one of my favorite little munchkins was having his birthday party at the San Jose Giants game this year, presenting the perfect opportunity to party it down ol' fashioned ballpark style.

San Jose Giants Baseball 7/5/08

I absolutely had the best time ever. Man, just exciting. I could get season tickets and I don't even really like baseball that much. But I could be a San Jose Giants girl. From the stands to the feel of the spectators, I felt like I had gone back in time 50 years. It was so beautiful and nostalgic, I couldn't get enough of it. There was even the adorable girl groupies huddled behind the dugout screaming for the fabulous big stars of the home team. It was all just so sweet and nice.

San Jose Giants Baseball 7/5/08

The evening started off with a helicopter landing for the ceremonial first pitch.

San Jose Giants Baseball 7/5/08

And the evening, because of the timing of 4th of July weekend, was capped off with a quite spectacular fireworks show to celebrate the storming win.

Fireworks at San Jose Giants Baseball 7/5/08

With my belly full of beer and garlic fries, I felt satisfied that this was again MISSION COMPLETE and something that I would be doing again next season.