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March Round-Up

April 2, 2010
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This blog is really lacking since we’ve moved back to the U.S.  Our lives don’t seem nearly as exciting or blog-worthy and I don’t take pictures of everyday things like I did when we lived abroad. So, I’ve decided to at least do a monthly recap to try to revive this thing.

February ended with my best friend Kate visiting for the weekend. We had a great time that involved a lot of wine, a lot of chatting and a lot of shopping. Unfortunately, we have no pictures from the weekend. Things have definitely changed because we used to take tons of pictures every time we left the house!

The month of March brought work for me. I worked on a short-term consulting project where I was working 50+ hours a week. It was nice to have a purpose and routine for the day. It’s amazing how much I can get done when my day is full. When I don’t have anything to do, I tend to do just that all day – nothing. March also brought March Madness of course which was very exciting for my Murray State Racers and very disappointing for my Kentucky Wildcats and Josh’s Louisville Cardinals.

To celebrate Lynane’s birthday, we had her and Mark (my in-laws) over for raclette.  When they visited us in Switzerland, we were not in the know on this wonderful Swiss dish. Lynane has wanted to try it ever since. I received a raclette grill for Christmas and was really excited to finally use it. After searching many shops in Cincinnati, I finally found some raclette in a gourmet cheese shop. The dinner was a success!

Those are the March highlights in our household. My niece, Ansley, turned 6 and my nephews, Brendan & Preston, turned 10. However, contrary to my 2010 goals, I didn’t make it to either of their birthday parties. I hear they managed to have a good time anyways.

Travel Friends and Surprise Mail – Love It!

February 12, 2010

Since Josh and I have been back in the U.S., we often spend time reminiscing about the year 2009. The. best. year. ever. We talk about all the beautiful places we went, the interesting foods we ate, the incredible people we met. And sometimes the discussion ends with us wondering if we’ll ever go back to any of those places, eat any of those foods or keep in touch with any of those people.

So, we were so happy when we received a package in the mail this week:

Our South Korean friends, Eui & Jae, from our overland trip in southern Africa wrote a memoir of the trip and made a book and sent us a copy.

Of course the whole thing is in Korean and I have no clue what it says, but I love it!  We’re featured in it quite a lot or at least our pictures are. I hope the words with the pictures aren’t too bad. It was so nice of them to think of us.

Eui is on sabbatical and just spent the last couple of months in South America. We wish them all the best!

Inspirational

January 31, 2010

Happy 62 years of holy matrimony, Nana & Gran. Yes, 62 years. They’re the cutest couple you’ll ever see, and we’re lucky to have such wonderful role models in our life.

Josh, Me, Nana and Gran all spiffed up for our wedding:

Good-bye Noughties, Hello 2010!

January 2, 2010

Happy New Year!

So, we’ve been back in the US of A for about 3 months now and, boy, is this blog behind! We’ve been busy getting settled, getting over what may or may not have been malaria, finding a place to live, dealing with movers, sorting through things that have been in storage for 3 years, buying 2 cars, remembering what it’s like to drive everywhere, getting new phones and phone numbers, catching up with family and friends and making decisions on life-changing events.

Speaking of life-changing events, this past decade has been full of them. Here’s what happened to me during the noughties.

  • My nephew, Brendan, was born.
  • My nephew, Preston, was born.
  • My niece, Sidney, was born.
  • I met my best friend, Kate, and we studied abroad in Austria. I would have never left the USA if it wasn’t for her.
  • I lived in my first apartment.
  • I declared a major that impacted my future more than I ever imagined.
  • I met the love of my life and had a secret office romance.
  • My niece, Ansley, was born.
  • I graduated college with a bachelors degree and masters degree.
  • I moved to Louisville, KY with Kate and started my first career job.
  • I ran the Louisville Triple Crown of Running and the Kentucky Derby half marathon.
  • I married Josh, my love, and we moved to Zurich, Switzerland.
  • We spent our first Christmas in Paris without our families and decided we would never do that again. (The no families part, not the Paris part!)
  • I sort of learned how to ski.
  • I learned how tried to speak German.
  • I had a very hard time being away from my family on the 10-year anniversary of my dad’s passing.
  • I traveled to 18 different countries while living in Europe.
  • Josh and I did a 6 month Round the World trip and visited another 15 countries before moving back to the US.
  • I became an adult.

Overall, the past decade was very good to me. I remember being a senior in high school in 1999 wondering what the year 2000 and the next 5-10 years would bring.  There is no way I could have imagined these experiences and I wouldn’t change any of it.  I hope that this decade is just as wonderful and adventurous.

As for looking forward, here’s a list of things to do in 2010:

  1. Back-post about our travels and get the blog up to date.
  2. Finish the 3 Blurb books that I have started.
  3. Find a job that I reasonably enjoy.
  4. See Kate, my best friend, at least 3 times.
  5. Each time I get a new book, get rid of a book or move one book to the keeper pile. Our house is getting overcrowded with books.
  6. Increase my vegetable intake.
  7. Attend at least one of my nieces’ or nephews’ birthday parties (if invited, they’re getting to that age…).
  8. Travel to at least one new place. Our travel budget is a bit depleted, so this may be harder than it seems.
  9. Get rid of the clothes I’m keeping in case I lose weight. All except 2 pieces for inspiration must go. If I lose it, I’ll just buy new clothes!
  10. Find a church to attend regularly.

I tried to quantify most of these so that I can actually evaluate if I’ve accomplished them. I don’t typically make resolutions or even set detailed goals, but I do love to-do lists and checking things off the list.

The past decade and 2009 will be hard to top, but here’s to making the  best of 2010!

Bali, Indonesia

August 25, 2009

Day 101

We flew from Ayers Rock to Bali today, with a layover in Perth. Our hotel is in Kuta, which is the main tourist/beach area in Bali. Our hotel is really nice, and after spending the last three weeks in a campervan and another few days in an over-priced, run-down “resort” in Ayers Rock, we are ready to relax and hit the beach, so its a good thing we’re in Bali.

This is the pool at our first hotel in Bali. After a day or two, we realized that there were much cheaper digs available, but this place was only about $30/night and we enjoyed it while we had it.

This is the pool at our first hotel in Bali. After a day or two, we realized that there were much cheaper digs available, but we enjoyed it while we had it.

The start of a beautiful friendship. Bintang and I will be come good friends over the next several weeks.

The start of a beautiful relationship. Bintang and I will be come good friends over the next several weeks.

This is the beach where we spent the afternoon of our first of many days in Bali.

This is the beach where we spent the afternoon of our first of many days in Bali.

I declare this water safe to drink!

I declare this water safe to drink!

We spent the afternoon for our first day on the beach, and in the evening we watched the sunset. Sunset at Kuta Beach is a pretty big thing, and its a pretty good place to watch one:

Day 102

Spent all day between the beach and the hotel pool.

Day 103

Meet the new day. Same as the old day.

Day 104

We switched hotels today since we wanted a cheaper place to stay. Otherwise, see above.

Day 105

Yada, yada, yada. Life could be worse.

Day 106

Ditto.

Day 107

We finally roused from our slumber today and tried to book the next leg of our trip. Much to our surprise, Indonesia is not a place where you can really book something for the next day. All of the flights are booked up for at least a week in advance. Wish we would have tried to get this done a few days back. Anyway, it took us about 4 hours to book nothing, but we still managed to get to the beach for a few hours.

Day 108

So we managed to get the next leg of the trip (to Laubanbajo and then the Komodo Islands), but we can’t leave for another couple of days. Then, when we were trying to get out some more money from the ATM, it took my card for “security reasons”. Yikes. The Balinese woman who we were booking our trip through was nice enough to talk to the bank, but since its Sunday, there’s not much we can do today. This took a really long time to accomplish, so no beach today.

Day 109

We woke up early this morning to go to the bank and try to get the ATM card back. When we got to the bank, the manager originally said that it would take 2 days to get the card back.  After about 4 hours of tense, but generally civil, conversation, and a few calls to the bank manager’s boss, we soon found out that it was possible to get the card back today and they finally brought it at 12:30.

Now that we had the card back, we wanted to know why it was taken. The Balinese bank told us that it was our bank in Switzerland that had put the block on our card, so we went to an internet cafe to call and find out why. As it turns out, Americans aren’t allowed to have bank accounts in Switzerland unless they actually live there (the IRS is behind this one), and now that the bank found out that we had left, there was a freeze on all the money in our bank account. Thankfully, the bank rep that we spoke to unfroze our account so that we could use our card again, and gave us one month to make arrangements to have our account closed and all the money transferred back to the U.S.

With the bank situation taken care of, we were on our way back to (where else) the beach. Except today, I decided that I wanted to try my hand at surfing. In Bali, there are surf instructors all over the beach that will rent you a board and give you a lesson whenever you want, so once I talked to one of these guys and negotiated a price, I was off. To make a long story short, surfing is not easy, and I’m not very good at it:

Day 110

We went back to the beach in the morning, and this time Lori and I both went surfing. Lori had surfing lessons once before about 6 years ago in Hawaii but hasn’t tried it again since then. She took another lesson and did really good:

Ayers Rock, Australia

August 18, 2009

Day 98

We flew from Cairns to Uluru (Ayers Rock) this morning. It’s been said in every guide book ever written, but Ayers Rock is insanely expensive. Everything is marked up an incredible amount. We decided the best way to see everything that we wanted to see would be to rent a car and drive around. After we picked up the car, we had time to make it to the Ayers Rock viewing area for sunset. When there is a good sunset, the rock changes colors as the sun goes down:

Day 99

Drove about 3 hours this morning to Kings Canyon, where we did a 3 hour walk around the rim of the canyon. Here are the pictures:

Day 100

Went to the sunrise viewing area and then did the circuit walk of Uluru:

In the afternoon, we drove to the Olgas, another rock formation in the area. It is quite impressive as well. We did a short walk among the rocks:

When we got back to our hotel, we decided to go to the Aussie BBQ restaurant at the resort, since after all, today is the 4th of July! So, although we didn’t have fireworks, at least we got to grill out. We both took the Aussie sampler platter, which was Crocodile skewers, Emu sausages, beef sausages, and chicken, and cooked it all ourselves on a gas grill.

Cairns and Great Barrier Reef, Australia

August 13, 2009

Day 92

We left mission beach in the morning. Our first stop is Josephine Falls. We walked around for about an hour and went to each of the three viewing platforms at the falls:

On our way back to the car, we saw one of the biggest snakes that we’ve seen yet on the trip. The only larger one that we’ve seen was puff adder in Africa and we didn’t get very close to that one. This one wasn’t very wide, but it was really long. (Yes, I realize I just set one up perfectly for Michael Scott.)

After visiting the falls, we got back in the car and continued on to Cairns. Today was the last day with the campervan, so after checking into our hostel, we drove to the drop-off center. Without wheels for the first time in a few weeks, we had to hoof it back to the hostel. We took a walk along the esplanade though and got to see some of Cairns on the way back:

There are some really big bats down here. This tree was full of them.

Day 93

After 3 weeks in the campervan, it felt pretty good to get out and stretch our legs. We lounged around the hostel pool all day, booked a trip to the Great Barrier Reef for the day after tomorrow, and watched a movie which the hostel rented for free. We really liked the hostel we were staying at. Here are some pictures:

Day 94

More of the same today. Have to admit, it feels pretty good to be stationary after so much time in the car. We went into the city, visited an internet cafe, sat along the waterfront. Nice lazy day.

Day 95

Our 2 day trip out to the Great Barrier Reef started this morning. We went out to the Reef by speedboat and met up with the larger boat that stays out at the reef all of the time. After a short introduction, we were able to go snorkeling a couple of times. The reef was really impressive, and we got to see all sorts of marine life. Unfortunately, our camera doesn’t work underwater, so we only have a few pictures from the boat:

Day 96

We had several more opportunities to snorkel. We got back to the hostel in the evening and went to bed early.

Day 97

We spent most of today in the city doing some odd errands. Also, Lori’s hair was finally long enough to donate to Locks of Love! So, she had it all chopped off and we mailed it home to donate.