Friday, August 28, 2009

The NorCal Adventures coming to an End

Aug 26: We had dinner at BJ's which was amazing. I had a Pizookie and couldn't be happier about. For those of you unfortunate enough to never experienced a Pizookie, it is a pizza-cookie (similar to a cookie cake, but even better topped with ice cream and served warm).

and I went to the California State Fair in Sacramento with Trevor and his friend, John. I realized it was my first state fair.

My Goal: to see a carnie.
Complete Success: I saw lots.

Jess had me ride a ride with her called the "Orbiter." I laughed so hard I cried. It was the fastest spinning ride I have ever been on and the scariest. I'd like to think I love thrill rides and it takes a lot to scare me, but goodness, this was so scary.

We then spent the night at Trevor's apartment in El Dorado Hills. He was sweet to have us, especially at last moment's notice and because he is in the process to moving to Elk Grove.

Aug 27: Trevor took us to a coffee shop near by for bagels. I had a delicious drink and bagel, which was a good start to our long day that we spent driving to and around San Francisco.

Jess and I checked out Sausalito, a quant coastal little town. Also known as a tourist trap. We met an Italian artist, whom I shared a breif conversation in the beautiful language Italian. I was happy with my rememberance of the wonderful language. We then ate at an Italian Ristorante, Angelino's. This was a disaster, but such a good thing to laugh about now. Jess doesn't like seafood or tomatoes, so this was an interesting situation. Now we know, no Italian.

After Sausalito, we headed to Fisherman's Wharf. We continued to check out tacky sovieners and sweatshirts, which is always a good time. Dinner was my favorite part of the day. I had "award-winning" crab chowder at Blue Mermaid. It was to die for. I want to drive back into the city today to have it again, but sadly, I will not be doing so.

Last night after dinner, we headed to Berkeley to visit more friends. I met David Paul and his good-looking roommates, Jordan and Ryan. It was a grand time. AJ Ludlow joined us at Davis'.

After 7-11 Slurpee's and Guitar Hero, we called it a night and headed to AJ's. Today Jess and I are headed to lunch at Smart Alec's and then headed south for more adventures.

Thank you to AJ and Davis for a wonderful stint in Berkeley. Hope you have a wonderful year in quite the exciting little town.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

California Dreaming

The last two days have seemed really long and crazy.

Aug 24: Jenna and I drove to Chico to visit her summer staff friends and ours. It was a blast. I really loved Chico State. We saw Missy Scudder at the info fair, which was a wonderful surprise. We had lunch at Woodstock. Yum.

A big group of us when to Bear's for dinner. This was a Chico version of Freestate Brewery. It was quaint and delicious. I had an amazing burger. I even had a bite of a burger that had peanut butter on it. Odd.

I loved Chico. I don't know what I was expecting, but it far exceeding any expectation of mine. I could see myself going there. But, no worries. I am not. However, I hope to visit again soon.

There were at least six of us from my summer staff session together for dinner. Ben Fisher, Ryan, Robby, Laura, Jenna, Karla and I were there with a few other Young Lifers. It was good to be back in civilization but be surrounded by Woodleaf people.

We stayed at Robby's place. Robby and Laura are the greatest couple. Love them both. Also, in love with Robby's roomies. He lives with three girls. How tight. What a wonderful time we had. The Grap twins and Tab hung out with us, too. Good times.

Yesterday, Aug 25: Last night we had a lovely dinner at the Eastways in downtown Sac that turned into some of the guests worst nightmare as some of us suffered from a possible food poisoning. Luckily, I am fine and dandy. Thank the Lord.

Jenna and I had a late night adventure driving to and from Andi's and the Eastway's.

I am in Sacramento now. Well, technically Elk Grove a southern suburb. Jess and I are planning on chilling out today then joining Trevor to the California State Fair. Tomorrow the plan is to check out San Francisco.

Oh, BIG NEWS - I hope that the saying "Blondes Have More Fun," isn't true because, yes, I, Sarah Weaver, now have brown hair. Hopefully, brunette's have fun too. I'm sure I will.

Life is good.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sky Diving Experience

Click Here for Pictures of My Adventure

There we are enjoying ourselves in Northern Spain when good ol’ Englishman Richy mentions skydiving. Skydiving?! Jumping out of a moving plane? (Yes, Grandpa, a functioning plane). Voluntarily putting on a parachute and jumping out of a perfectly good aircraft at ten thousand feet or so? Sounds like a great idea, Richy.

“I’ve always wanted to go sky diving,” was basically the group consensus as we sat around chatting that evening in San Sebastian.

Before we knew it, Alex, Brett and I were packed into Richard’s car headed to the East Coast of Spain for a Sunset Jump the following evening.

Hours of On-The-Go playlists and sharing popular music from our homelands was really fun minus the no A/C on a hot day during Spain’s summer. As I stuck to the seat with my thigh stuck to Brett’s, I looked out the window to appreciate the mountainous view.

Spain really was beautiful. They had such an array of scenery to offer. I felt like I was in the mountains of the Rockies then the desert of Arizona then the wooded areas of Kentucky. The boys appreciated my American comparisons or at least pretended to.

After six long hot hours and a few glorious ice cream pit stops, we made it to Benicassim, which is near Castello, between Barcelona and Valencia on the East Coast. A McDonalds beckoned us in with its air condition and WiFi. In a weak moment, I ordered a Big Mac. To everyone’s surprise it was my first Big Mac . Not just my first Big Mac in Europe or Spain, which itobviously was, but my first Big Mac ever. I was decently impressed with it, I guess.

As I enjoyed my high-class meal, Richard called the sky diving place. He informed us that there was not a sunset jump that night, but they invited us out to check out the jump site. Richard happens to be a licensed skydiver, which means he can do jumps by himself. Whereas, the two Australians and I had never sky dived and in that case would be doing what they call a Tandem jump, where you are strapped to another person, who has the parachute and all the good ol’ responsibility of our lives and all.

After a fulfilling meal, we headed out to the jump site. We show up around eight as the sun begins to set. We meet the sky divers and what looked like most of their family just hanging out. A family-run sky diving business perhaps? It had a nice friendly feel regardless of the lack of English speaking that was going on. Good thing my Spanish isn’t too shabby.
Richard never fails to surprise us.

“We are jumping tonight!” he tells us with excitement. I really wish that someone could have documented Brett and I’s faces. I was shocked, but still stoked. They told us we would jump in an hour. Time flew by as we tried to find an ATM and shoes for me since I through my Sperry’s away after they were destroyed when running with the bulls. Also, there was a contract to be signed, which was 100% in Spanish. Is it bad that I find this little detail hilarious? Yup, I signed it.

Before I knew it, Brett and Alex were up in the plane with Richard and I on the ground patiently awaiting their return. When they returned, they looks like seven-year-boys on Christmas morning. Their excitement even after jumping out of the plane gave me much relief. The boys faces were precious and priceless.

When it was time, I got into the tiny little plane with five other people – one being Richy, which gave me comfort at a time of complete chaos. We ascend into the air. With broken English, the camera lady and I held a weak conversation. Carlos, who was sitting next to me, was about to do his 89th jump. How crazy!

I will never forget the view from that little plane. The plane climbed higher and higher. Out my window you could only see ocean. The other side of the plane offered a perfect view of the sun setting behind the mountains. Carlos and the camera lady agreed that this was the best time to jump— sunset jumps simply offer something that others can’t. Carlos even added that this was one of the best places to jump. Richy agrees that Benicassim is the prettiest jump he has ever done, which is upwards of forty or fifty jumps now. Without hesitation, I can say that I am so thankful that my first sky diving experience was somehow so beautiful. The view was breathtaking and I will never forget it.

When it came time to think about jumping, I hopped up on my tandem jumper’s lap. I think his name was Sabe. He didn’t speak much English. The camera lady was leaning over me hooking me up to Sabe. She seemed busy at work then all of the sudden she paused and sat back. She looked at me with utter concern and said, “You can’t jump today.” Her face screamed disappointment to the max. I am sure my face showed the same devastation. “The strap is broken,” she continued. I gave her a look that regardless of what language you speak said, “What the heck?!”

“I’m just kidding,” she said.

“Oh funny,” I replied feeling half annoyed and the half of me didn’t even care that she did kind of get me. Okay, she got me really good, but I was so stoked that my jump was still on.
We continued to have a broken-English conversation about how Spaniards are always so serious. Her sarcasm humored me.

Then we were there: thirteen thousand feet. Time to jump. They rolled up the door, which was basically just a tarp. Carlos and I did a sky diver hand shake that they taught me, and then he was gone. Carlos was out of the plane. What did that mean to me? My turn! Sabe scooted us over to the door. I was still on his lap. He was sitting on the edge of the plane with his legs dangling out of the plane. Meaning I was dangling completely out of the plane.

I love this part of the story because Sabe didn’t ask stupid questions like, “Are you ready?” I always think this is an idiotic question at this point in time because what if I wasn’t ready? What would he do sit there until I was? I am glad he didn’t ask and glad he didn’t do a stupid count down. He just went. We went. I was plummeting to the ground at a whopping speed of about 140 mph. My face was shaking. My whole body was shaking from the wind speeds. I had never felt so free. It was the most exhilarating thing I have ever done. Well at least that day. Then Sabe tapped my shoulder, which meant I needed to cross my arms again for the pulling of the parachute.

After a few moments, it wasn’t coming out. Sabe yelled all these Spanish things I didn’t understand. The ground was coming near. I started seeing white lights. My life became a blur. I’m just kidding. The chute released perfected and all was well. However, it did hurt my legs because of the strong pull of my harness. No complaints. I am happy it worked.

With the chute pulled, I was able to enjoy the beautiful view at an amazing height. The sun was perfectly setting and was peaking over the mountain range in the West. While below me the waves looked so miniscule as they crashed up against the shore. The Ocean looked endless from up there. It was the most peaceful experience I have ever had. This might sound insane being that I was falling to the ground after jumping out a plane at 13,000 feet. However, it is true. It was peaceful just floating above the city with no cares in the world. Well, except surviving thisexperience.

I did though. I survived. Greatest experience yet. I am already planning my next jump. Hope I live to tell about that one, too.Richard, the crazy camera lady and I after our jump.

A beautiful sunset jump indeed.
The plane I jumped out of. Check out the tarp door, and note that six of us fit in that tiny plane.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cliff Jumping Experience

After running with the bulls two days in a row (Thursday and Friday), I guess you could say I was on an adrenaline rush. The Australian blokes that I met in Pamplona were headed up to San Sebastian, which is off the Northern coast of Spain. Stoke Travel was the travel company (if you dare to call it that) that had campsites that we had stayed at in Pamplona, Spain. They had quite the set up. They provide tents, sleeping bags and other amenities for one low price (not really low at all actually.) But, I would highly recommend it. They follow festivals around and set up camp to provide people with a place to stay and par-tay. It was a grand time. I am all about this Stoke Travel business.

They had what they called a “Surf Safari” in San Sebastian. The campsite we stayed at was technically right outside of the lovely town of San Sebastian in a town called Zarautz. It was gorgeous. I do have pictures of this beautiful place, but they do not even dare to compare to the real thing. The pictures were taken just after sunset and I have not mastered photography to capture these photos at dusk.

On Saturday July 11, 2009 (or it could have been on Friday… I get all the days mixed up. Living a life without an agenda is the way to do it. Let me tell you.) The Kiwi boys packed into the Richard’s car with his lovely Canadian girlfriend, Leah. The Australians and I jumped into their rental car and headed north through the mountains. It was a road trip at its best. We had all the essentials: Blink 182 greatest hits CD and bread and water. Always a good time with Australians. Thank you Alex, Alex and Brett for the wonderful memories.

The drive through the mountains was just simply breathtaking. I enjoyed rocking out to Blink while road tripping through Northern Spain. That’s an experience I can check off the list.
Zarautz, Spain had a much calmer feel than Pamplona, and thank goodness. I think we all needed a little calmer anything in our lives at this point. Leah, the Australian in charge of the campsite, was so great to us. She had her stuff together and kept us very happy. Thanks Miss Leah!

That first evening at the camp, the troops rounded up for a cliff jumping adventure. I was down for anything because of my new Never-Say-No attitude. (No worries, its only a metaphor, kind of. I did and do say No to lots, okay at least some things.)

A big gang of us walked out around the campsite towards the cliff. Little did I know that a lot of people were going to stick around to watch some of us swim out about 300 meters to the jump. Turns out I was the only girl with about 12 guys who decided it’d be a good idea to swim out and cliff jump around sunset. Like I said my new attitude had my head held high as I struggled to swim through the decently choppy water out to cliff.
Alex Anderson was a sweetheart always turning back to make sure I was okay. At this point in my travels, my voice was completely gone. So, I would return his concerned look with a thumbs up and a forced smile. I was reminded of the fact that I am not a very good swimmer (and quite out of shape, at best), so this nice little swim was an adventure in its self. To my credit, there was two guys swimming behind me that turned back before we had even gotten halfway. So, I felt pretty hardcore to say the least.

The water was respectably rough and trying to cling to the rocks wasn’t the all-time easiest task known to man. After a few goes at it, I was on top of the rocks, which were covered in some type of sea creatures that were rock solid and hurt my feet. However, I didn’t really notice my feet because in the process of climbing the rocks I got my knee pretty good. There was an instant bruising and blood gushing. Okay, maybe not necessarily gushing, but there was blood streaming down my leg as I ascended up the side of the cliff.

I will never forget what Alex Anderson said to me. As I climbed in my bikini with blood running down my left leg, he turned to make sure I was still trucking.

“Excuse the saying, but Sarah, you’ve got balls.”

I grinned at him, “Thanks, I think.”

Thank you, indeed.

Finally, I made it to the top where the other 12 or so guys were already beginning to jump off the cliff. At this point I am feeling more bad a** than ever. That is until I look over the edge. “Oh Lord, what did I get myself into?” I thought to myself. The whole swim and climb, I was excited and ready to do some cliff jumping. Yet I somehow forgot that I had never jumped off a cliff before. Yet alone a 30-something-foot cliff into the Bay of Biscay off the Northern coast of Spain with a bunch of guys from around the world.

My stomach was up in my throat, but I kept a smile on my face. Before I knew it, there were only four of us left up on my cliff. I spoke up as much as my lack of voice allowed and told them that I better jump before I am the last one left up there. So, I did. I jumped. Well, actually I am told that I basically just stepped off and gave all of them a scare. But here I am: alive and well, telling all about the experience, so I did a pretty dang good job in my opinion. That thirty-something feet felt so extremely high. I had enough to think to myself as I fell, “Wow, this is high.” In my book, if you have enough time to talk to yourself coherently, that’s a long time.
I did do a second jump, where I definitely jumped. Let’s just say this jump left a lasting impression on everyone.

Needless to say, I enjoyed myself and hope to do much more cliff jumping in the future. However, I doubt any cliff jumping can top my First Cliff Jumping Experience into the Bay of Biscay. However, 30 feet does not even compare to my 13,000 feet adventure that followed that week…

Here's a picture of some of the gang at our campsite: (from right to left: Alex Smith, Brett, Geoff, Nic, Richard, Me and Joshua)

Friday, August 7, 2009


Sarah Weaver is on summer staff at Woodleaf until August 24th!

Mail to: Young Life Woodleaf Sarah Weaver - Summer Staff 11359 La Porte Rd Challenge, CA 95925

Life at camp is always great. Everyone here is so happy to be here and to be serving. It is a really positive place to be. I appreciate the opportunity to volunteer here. I do not have my cell phone as a part of a technology fast (which I am definately cheating by being online and blogging... opps.) Not having a phone is hard when trying to plan the rest of my fall plans, but not having a phone is also really nice.

I didn't have my cell phone in Europe, so I feel pretty used to it by now. However, I do miss being connected 24/7. For the short period that I was home I got pretty used to it again.

If anyone knows any travel agents or anyone living in New Zealand or Australia, let me know. I could use a place to stay in some places and some help finding some travel arrangments. Haha. Life is really exciting.

Please send mail! I am working in the office here, so I am the one who sorts the mail. Meaning I get very jealous when little campers and other staffers get packages and letters. Love you all!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Running with The Bulls: San Fermin 2009

Running with the Bulls

I really do not know how to begin this entry. Trying to explain Pamplona during San Fermin is like explaining Mozart to a deaf man. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw and experienced in Pamplona, Spain. Words cannot describe what I saw and experienced. San Fermin is the biggest festival in Spain held once a year for eight days. I am told it is arguably the biggest festival in Europe, and I can stand firm in my belief that it most likely is.

Mitch Kraemer, my travel partner from the Italy Program, and I met his friend and KU Grad, Nate Totten at the Barcelona train station early morning on Tuesday, July 7th. After a little run around at the train station trying to figure out the best way to Pamplona, we found a bus that would take us there. Thank goodness we hopped this because it was the best way to kick off our week.

We met two awesome Americans (yes, I learned there is such a thing as not awesome Americans. Sorry to burst your bubble.) But like I said, these two were awesome Americans. They were a pilot and a flight attendant for US airways. What a great pair. Ashley and John stuck with us all the way to the Stoke travel campsite.

On the bus there were frat boys from UC Irvine and then another trio that will be hard to forget— a Canadian, an Englishman and an Australian who run the Ryan’s Bar Pub Crawl in Barcelona. The pub crawl trio stuck around all night with us Americans. It was a night for the books. We get into town around nine at night to find ourselves in the middle of an insane all-city party. People were chanting, spraying Sangria all over the place, and having a blast. The city was covered with people in the traditional attire: white pants with a red sash paired with a white top and a red scarf. Needless to say, it was really easy to find your friends when you got separated in the middle of the night. Just simply look for the guys in the white pants and red bandanas. Yup, on my first night in town, I lost Mitch and Nate. To my knowledge they were gone forever, never to be seen again until we finally reunited in Barcelona or something. It was pretty terrifying, but I keep my head held high in hopes that my independence would shine in a city I knew nearly nothing about.

The longest night of my life didn’t really ever end. It really just transitioned into walking the streets at seven in the morning to find a place to watch the Bull Run. The bulls are let loose in the city promptly at eight. It is a good idea to arrive early to be guaranteed a spot to run or even to be a spectator. I am walking towards what they call “Dead Man’s Corner” (no pun intended). Then who do I see right in front of my eyes just standing by the fence, Mitch and Nate! It was the greatest discovery. In all the excitement, the pub crawl trio kept walking never to be seen again. To those guys, I would say, happy travels and happy pub crawling. Nate and I sat on the ground near the fence, so that we had a front row spot of the Bull Run. I was happy to have found them.

I can’t even waste my breath trying to describe what I saw that morning: My first Bull Run. It was exciting, exhilarating and mind-blowing. I was just sitting watching and my adrenaline was pumping. Any normal person would watch wild bulls run after people in crowded streets and think, “What on Earth? Why would anyone in their right mind voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way by literally running with bulls through a city?” Well, I guess I am not normal because from the second I saw the first bull, I was set. I was running with the bulls the next morning. No questions asked.

And, I did just that. I ran with the bulls on Thursday July 9, 2009. Then I guess saying you ran with the bulls at San Fermin just isn’t quite idiotic enough(or hardcore, depending on your mindset), so I did it again on Friday July 10, 2009, which sadly was the day the young Spaniard did in fact get gored to death by the bull they call, Cappucino. May He Rest in Peace.

Everyone asks, did you really run with the bulls? How close were you? Well, you really have to see a run to fully understand. But to answer questions: Yes, I actually ran along side a bull. Know that the bulls run at a top speed of 15mph, so obviously these suckers are fast. They start at the beginning of the 850 meter course and run into the arena. Whereas, most people pick about a 50 meter stretch to actually run with the bulls. You are standing there with your hands shaking and your head spinning. Questions are just running circles around your head. Then the first firework shoots off right at eight signaling the gates being opened. A second fire means all the bulls are out of the gate. Meaning all the bulls and steers are running your way whether you like it or not. People are jumping up and down. Everyone’s’ faces say just one universal thing regardless of their language, “@*#&! What am I doing?!” It was almost a comforting and very discomforting feeling to see grown men, usually large Spaniards next to you clad in white with one expression on their aged faces: fear.

The anticipation is what kills you and tears up your insides until you feel like a glob of fret and fear.

Then the anticipation ends instantly as the center of the street clears and men all in matching attire are running for their lives, literally, as bulls ride their tails. Right when men start zooming past you the crowd starts to move, and I mean move. I was booking it trying to avoid the people who trip in front of you as if they are trying to pull you down with them. I honestly felt like the ball in the game pong as I tried to make my way down the straight. Big burly men were pushing me towards the center of the road then back again towards the fence. My goal, other than don’t die, was to stay on my feet. Jumping over people on the ground, avoiding the center of the road while avoiding being trampled or smashed up against the fence was not an easy task.

Then it happened. A bull ran past me. For about a second, maybe three tops, I was able to look to my right and see a bull within arm's reach.

I will never forget this experience. I gained more confidence in those two days than all 19 years of my life. I was on my own. Everyone running had enough to worry about with just trying to stay alive themselves, so I was on my own the first day. Just Stay Alive.

The second day was even more exhilarating. I thought my nerves would be a little calmer. I mean after running with the bulls once, what’s the big deal. Umm not so much. It was even scarier. This time I had put myself in a stickier situation by starting after Dead Man’s Corner. There was no fence or safe exit in sight. Buildings covered each side until you made it up around the corner towards the arena. I had to really run and keep running until I made it to the arena.

This time around I had a wonderful running partner. Bec from Australia was as much hard core as you can pack into a five-foot-three woman. She and I just screamed intensity as we weaved through the crowd and raced towards the arena. May her travels with her fiancé, Dave, always be filled with adventures and excitement.

Running with the bulls was scary, eventful and exciting. This entry does not even begin to give the experience justice or the descriptions it deserves.
Another adventure for the books. Enough said.
Check these out to learn more:

Best Website to See Photos and Videos of San Fermin

Info on what the heck San Fermin is

I saw this man on a stretcher after the Bull Run on Friday. Here is a picture of him being gored. It was a bloody mess.