Friday, August 26, 2011

#13 - Start My Own Small Business

Well folks, I have undertaken what is probably one of the scariest and most exciting things I have done in a while. I have left the comfort of my very secure consulting job (read: nice pay, nice benefits, nice vacations, nice colleagues) with a large national firm to hang my shingle out and do it on my own!

I am proud to announce the opening of Sophia Mitchell & Associates, LLC.

I've been wanting to try consulting on my own for a while and one day I said to myself "if not now, when?" Initial response from my clients have been positive and I am confident that I can be competitive from a cost perspective due to my low overhead. I also have a great network of other consultants that I can collaborate with.

It took a lot to get to this point, and much of the thanks go to my fantastic mentors and colleagues who I have had along the way. I am thankful for my mentors who have been generous in sharing their knowledge, helping build my confidence and regularly pushing me outside my comfort zone to grow professionally.

I am also thankful to Bob who has been supportive of this undertaking We are both now self-employed ... which provides a lot of freedom and flexibility, as well as certain level of uncertainty! However, we are up for the challenge and it's sure to be a fun ride.

So, if you know anyone who needs some environmental impact analysis completed for their project, please send them my way!

And, I guess this means I can now check #13 off the life list!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

#45 - Walk Across the Golden Gate Bridge

I grew up just an hour or so away from the bridge and never had an opportunity to walk across it. When my friend Gary mentioned riding his bike across the bridge,  I knew I needed to finally go and walk across it, so I added it to my life list.

Now I can say "Done." Last Sunday Bob and I drove down to San Francisco and met up with friends and walked across the Golden Gate Bridge ... and back again.

We parked on the north side, walked south, enjoying some nice views to the City, took a little break and then walked back. It's pretty congested on the bridge, as pedestrians and cyclists both have to share the sidewalk on the eastern edge. The seismic retrofit, which happens to be a project of the company I work for, has shut down the sidewalks on the western side.

A few things surprised me about the experience. First, it was pretty overwhelming how loud it was on the bridge. Of course, there are cars whizzing by at 45+ mph, so it will be loud, but it just seemed so much louder than I expected. Honestly, I thought it was going to be kind of peaceful up there. Not.  Another surprising things was feeling the bridge deck bounce from passing cars... cool and weird. The other thing that I hadn't really thought about was how much would be going on in the water beneath the bridge. Here is a little of what we saw:


Crazy kite surfers ... they went FAST!
We were fortunate to have sunny skies, but the wind was blowing pretty good. Overall, a fun trip and I was happy that the timing worked out so that Melyssa and Jeff were up from San Diego and Meghan and Aaron could drive up from the Penninsula.

Melyssa and I, holding on in the wind.

We came, we saw, we walked!

If you want to walk across the bridge, there are some good resources here at this link. It's about 1.7 miles each way, with a little incline on each end. If you don't want to walk it, you can rent a bike, and if you only want to walk one-way, going south is best, as you'll get nice City views. You can then catch the bus back over the bridge.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Birthday Camping

Bob's birthday was this past weekend, so we celebrated by packing up the VW van and heading to the Ocean Cove campground, about 15 miles south of us. One great thing about living here is that we are a short drive to lots of great state and county parks, many of which have campgrounds. This campground is actually  a private chunk of land between Salt Point State Park and Stillwater Cove Regional Park. A relaxing spot to camp and walk along the bluffs. It's also popular with rock fishermen and abalone divers.

We brought the dog, fixings for veggie fajitas, fire wood, a bottle of wine and chocolate birthday cake. I would not describe it as roughing it by any stretch of the imagination.

Indy, the 1976 VW Westfalia

Camp cooking

Camp eating!

Cliffs at Stillwater Cove Park ... very windy.

Spooky cypress tunnel at Stillwater Cove Park.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Day Trip: B Bryan Preseve

When my niece Sarah visited last month, we paid a visit to the B Bryan Preserve in Point Arena. The preserve has several species of zebras and antelope and provides late afternoon tours when they are doing the feeding. The private preserve covers over 100 acres on the outskirts of town. Quite a strange sight to see a herd of zebra when you are driving along the road! The preserve works with zoos and wild animal parks to maintain genetic diversity among the endangered species that they have on the property.

There was just six people on the tour and we piled in to the back of a 70's Land Cruiser and made the rounds. It was very cool to be so close the zebras during their feeding, sometimes without a fence between us and the animals. There were even some babies ranging from a few days old to a month old. Needless to say, they are pretty stinkin' cute.

Sweet old Land Cruiser!

Seeing double!

I thought baby lambs were the cutest, but baby zebras might take the top spot.
 Overall, a great time and a place I would recommend if you are in the area. I had so much fun, I would go back again!

Thing to know before you go:
- current entrance fee is $20/person with a discount available for kids
- tours take place in the late afternoon and reservations required
- dress in layers
- don't forget your camera