Saturday, December 26, 2009

Whale Watching in San Diego

We are trying to catch up on our blogging throughout this vacation and we are finding our selves getting further and further behind, since we continue to do so many fun things!
Last week we spent in San Diego before flying to Casper for the holidays. We spent the first couple days sick, but then were able to go to La Jolla Cove, Wild Animal Park, and Sea World (all which we've posted about.) Another excited adventure we went on while staying in San Diego was a Whale Watching cruise on the ship Adventure Hornblower. It left from the main harbor and traveled out along the kelp beds of the California coastline.

It was an absolutely perfect day, although Dallas forgot his sunglasses and was struggling with the sun's reflection off the water.

On our way out to the kelp beds we found several marine life both in and out of water. These sea lions were lazying on one of the water booeys. We also saw several dolphin and birds along the way.

After an hour of searching we finally came upon a pod of 5 Orca whales. Unfortunately I wasn't able to catch the experience on camera very well, but I'll post one of the pictures I got. It was pretty incredible, because we even found a mother Orca leading her baby through the waters.

We followed the Orcas for awhile and then headed back to the harbor. On our way back, the wind began to pick up and it got a little chilly, but it couldn't have been a more beautiful or clear day! I LOVE San Diego in December!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sea World and Anthony's Fish Grotto

During our week in San Diego (Wednesday the 16th), Dallas and I
spent a day at Sea World enjoying the marine life. We saw the
dolphin and orca shows and were able to feed bat rays and explore
the touch ponds. I could spend forever at Sea World! They even
had an ice skating rink set up...nothing like seeing people in shorts
and t-shirts skating on ice! Dallas was a trooper while I was
captivated by all the different exhibits. He was also willing to
pose for the camera, which happened to be quite a lot!

The past few times I have been to Sea World with
friends we have gone to Anthony's Fish Grotto on
the San Diego Harbor. It's a classic fish and chips
restaurant and we got there just in time to eat while
watching the sunset out on the deck. It was absolutely
gorgeous and once again felt incredible to think it
was the middle of December!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

San Diego Wild Animal Park

Our third day in San Diego (Tuesday the 15th)
Dallas had a mandatory work training in Los
Angeles he had to attend. It worked out perfectly
since one of my closest friends from college
lives in the San Diego area. Kim picked me
up and we spent the entire day at the Wild
Animal Park. The San Diego Zoo opened the
Wild Animal Park for a breeding ground for
various animals before being placed in the
zoo. I absolutely LOVED seeing so many
different species coexisting; it made me feel
like I was back in Africa! Not to mention that
being with Kim again felt like the good ol' days.
I love her so much and her friendship has
meant the world to me throughout the years.
Dallas was able to meet up with his college
roommate after his training for dinner, so
he wasn't too upset about missing the Wild
Animal Park.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

La Jolla Cove

Come January I lose my husband to the world of accounting. Busy season will immediately start after New Years and unfortunately that means I won't see Dallas til May or June...oh to be an auditors wife! We decided that we needed to get some quality time together before all the craziness starts so we took off down the California coast and ended up in San Diego. Sadly the first couple of days were spent in the hotel room while Dallas fought a nasty cold. After several doses of Nyquil and Extra strength tylenol, we drugged Dallas enough to venture to La Jolla Cove. It was a perfect day! It was hard to think that we were in the middle of December when the sun was shining so bright and we were almost too hot for our sweatshirts.

La Jolla cove is surrounded by wild life. A large population of various birds and sea lions frequent the waters near the rocky cliffs. There are also several swimmers that swim across the cove training for triathlons.

We met some interesting tourists who were very excited about taking our picture while we were goofing off on the rocks. There was green moss growing along the top which made our footing pretty tricky, but we had fun exploring the tide pools near the crashing waves.

There was the cutest baby sea lion that kept slipping off the backs of the other sea lions.

Dallas made me stand out on the rocks forever waiting to catch the perfect never came :)

We watched the pelicans dive bomb into the water for fish, but I couldn't capture it on camera.

Dallas was such a sweetheart to allow me to take so many pictures of him!

We found a boulder that was the perfect size to set up our camera on a timer. We took several, but we'll only post a couple.

By the end of our excursion, Dallas was pretty tuckered out and ready to go back to our hotel room and go to bed. Poor guy!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Our Christmas Letter

Happy Holidays 2009!

It seems like only yesterday we were sending out our holiday letters telling everyone about our wedding. I can’t believe another year has flown by so quickly. We were able to successfully hit our one-year mark of our marriage without too many bumps and bruises along the way. I’m just grateful Dallas loves me so much even though my cooking skills are lacking!

January started my first experience as an accountant’s wife during the infamous busy season. It was hard to watch Dallas work such long hours and never get enough sleep. I don’t know how he does it every year! I’m continually grateful to be married to such a hard worker. We made it a priority to enjoy our weekends, though, to make up for the intense weekly schedule. Some of these activities included seeing Wicked in San Francisco with my older brother and his wife, traveling to Monterey, taking our nephews and niece to Muir Beach, eating out at nice restaurants in the city, watching movies, and being tour guides when our friends came into town.

Unfortunately, April brought some unexpected news of state budget cuts in public education. The district decided that at the end of the school year they would lay off every teacher that had not been in the district for more than four years. Sadly, I was one of over 13,000 teachers in California that were laid off at the beginning of June. It was hard to pack up my classroom and say goodbye to a profession that I love so dearly, but I know “when one door closes; another opens.” I’ve started private tutoring the past few months and have enjoyed the opportunity to focus on individual needs of my students. I have also loved the extra time I get to spend with my nephews and niece in the area!

Our big adventure this year was traveling to Thailand for three weeks in the summer. Dallas loved being able to speak Thai again and show me different spots from his mission. We traveled to Chaing Mai, Phuket, Kho Phi Phi, and Bangkok and were blessed with several thrills along the way. We rode on elephants through the rainforest, floated down a river on bamboo rafts, visited several Buddhist temples, posed with tigers (we even got to rub their bellies!), watched a crazy cobra show, hiked through the village and rice patties of the local tribes, stayed at beautiful resorts, snorkeled with tropical fish, got totally burnt from too much sun, went shopping in street markets, and celebrated my 29th birthday! Needless to say, we had an AMAZING vacation.

We’ve had our fair share of adventures and trials this year, but continue to feel extremely blessed. We love this time of year and the opportunity it brings to reflect on these blessings given to us by our Savior. We hope this letter finds each of you well and enjoying this holiday season.

Love, Dallas and Kirsten Perkins

Friday, December 18, 2009


Ok, so I may be 29 years old, but there is something inside of me that clings to the youthful joy that certain things evoke; namely sparkly glitter jeans, teen literature, and Disneyland! I don't remember the first time I entered this magical park full of plastic; I was under a year old being carried by my mother. I do, however, have fantastic memories as an adult throughout the past decade with multiple friends all craving one thing...the thrill of being a child again!

My latest journey back to my childhood took place the first weekend in December when I went to see my good friend Tracy in Disney's production of Candlelight. Since she was going to be in rehearsal for most of the day, my other good friend met me at the park to be my ride buddy. Maren drove from Las Vegas that morning to spend some quality "Kirsten-Maren" time together. I can't put into words how much I love Maren...I could dedicate a whole blog just to our countless adventures together, but that will be for another time. For now I will stick to our most recent day of fun!
Maren and I were quite excited to enter the park! We also found out that Maren has the perfect arm length to take pictures.

I absolutely LOVE the detail Disney puts into decorating for Christmas. Each area of the park had a different style; all gorgeous.

This picture was taken before we went on all the rides. Isn't Maren just adorable!?

We ate at a cafe in the New Orleans area and there were thousands of glittery Mardi Gras beads hanging from the buildings and lamp posts.

One of my favorite changes Disney does during the Christmas season takes place at the Haunted House. They redecorate the outside and inside as the Nightmare Before Christmas. The transformation is seriously amazing.

Disneyland isn't Disneyland without the CHURRO! One of my favorite roommates, Annie Traynor, taught me that!

Sleeping Beauty's Castle is my absolute favorite spot in Disneyland. They cover it with hanging icicles made of white lights.

I also loved the lights addition to the Small World ride. They redecorated the inside for all the different celebrations throughout the world during the Holiday season.

This was taken at the end of the day after riding the Matterhorn. Our hair had seen better days!

Just some last pictures capturing the magic of our day together!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Santa Barbara

The last post I mentioned that I would do anything for my close friends. The reason for this is I know that they would do anything for me as well. One such friend is Tracy Mills. I've known
Tracy for over 4 years now. We met through mutual friends from a ward we were both in at different times and realized we were basically the same person! She quickly became one of my closest friends and travel buddies. It's been hard not having her around this past year; I've even had to master the art of attending movies on my own!
Every year Tracy sings in the Candlelight production at Disneyland and I thought it would be fun to drive down to Santa Barbara and meet up with her for the weekend. I absolutely adore her family and how welcoming they've always been to me. On Saturday, Tracy's mom and sister took us to a tiny town outside of Santa Barbara called Solvang. The architecture has a Danish feel and was incredibly beautiful.

We walked around the center of Solvang called "Denmarket Square." I loved the deep colors along the walls of the buildings.

Looking through the bakery windows reminded me of traveling through Europe with my parents. My dad would always leave early in the morning to get the best bread for breakfast.

While we were walking through the different shops we came upon a group of dancers. It was quite entertaining and we couldn't help but love the old couple in the mix.

We couldn't pass on a photo opportunity in such a cute telephone booth!
After we got back from Solvang we spent the afternoon at the local beach in Santa Barbara and watched the sunset. I couldn't help but think of how lucky I was to be sitting in such a gorgeous place in December in only a light jacket! Oh how I LOVE California!

I told Dallas that I would live anywhere in the world as long as it was near an ocean.
You can easily see why.

I simply LOVE this girl!
I truly am blessed to have such great friends!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Not As I Had Planned...

I have been blessed with amazing friends throughout my life. Friends that I would do anything for…case in point: Janelle Griffiths.

I met Janelle my first year teaching at Sunset View Elementary back in 2005. She quickly became not only a supportive coworker; but a dear friend. We joked about being sisters, because we were so alike. To say that moving away from her was hard would be an understatement. So when the opportunity came in November to do a road trip in her honor, I jumped on the idea! The goal was to drive all day on a Friday, spend the weekend celebrating her birthday, and then returning home to my understanding husband that following Tuesday. To some people, the idea of driving over eleven hours in a car by yourself would not be too appealing, but I happen to LOVE the chance to blast all the music I want while singing at the top of my lungs.

I woke up Friday morning to a nasty rainstorm. Still not deterred from my need to surprise Janelle, I loaded up the car with way too many clothes and shoes for a weekend get-away and started my journey east. The heavy rain pelted my windshield, the winds blew their fury, but I drove on, determined to get to Utah.

Three hours into my journey led me to the Sierra Nevadas. If you could hear the tone of my voice when I say those two words—Sierra Nevadas—you would know that I do not care for these mountains! Annoyed by the slow cars surrounding me, I turned my music down, and realized for the first time that the heavy rain that had been accompanying me on my quest had turned to wet whiteness in a matter of minutes. Being accustomed to the sunshine that makes up most of the California weather, I found this new predicament quite exciting, albeit a bit nerve wracking to drive in. The flakes multiplied, turning everything into a stand still.

Flashing lights guided me to the side of the freeway, along with several other cars. At this point a man dressed in slick orange approached my window alerting me that I would need chains to cross the rest of the pass. I’ve lived in California for the past year and a half! Why would I have snow chains?

After paying for new chains and an “installation” fee, I continued on my slow way up the mountain face. Now I’ve driven in bad weather before, but I think living in East Bay has softened my tolerance. The friendly, fluffy flakes that were such a beautiful sight soon became vicious layer upon layer. I found myself sliding closer to the shoulder of the road, while callous SUVs passed by. There was a sad realization that crossed my mind during one of these occasions, where the thought came that I should turn around. The pride in me drove another 10 miles, swerving between lanes, before I “sucked it up” and turned around.

I may or may not have been crying when I called Dallas to let him know my plan had failed. I may or may not have still been crying when I got to the bottom of the mountain and couldn’t figure out how in the world to get the expensive new snow chains off of my tires. So if you can imagine me kneeling by my front tires in sweats and wet Ug boots with salty tears mixing with snowy flakes…

That’s when I heard his voice. Like a manly breath of fresh air, the hero that makes up our every day semi driver, knelt beside me with his rubber gloves and unhooked those cursed chains with a quick snap. I couldn’t help but weep in his fury beard with endless gratitude.

Later that night, as I was curled up on the couch under a blanket, I contemplated my crazy day and noticed that while my weekend did not happen as planned at least I got a good story out of it!

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