Look What Else I Did

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I know I don’t post enough on here so if you’re dying to read something else I’ve written, here are some posts from the fantastic Book Riot (where I happen to write some articles):

  • This was my absolute favorite article to write. You have to read it. Then, when you’re done, tell me about the best reading positions you have and give me ideas for more experiments related to reading. I will totally do it. Just for you.
  • You all know that I geocache as a way to explore a new place. Here’s why it might be an activity that appeals to the reader in me, as well.
  • If I could think of a way to get paid to do a study on the phenomenon of kids reading to dogs, I totally would. Kids+dogs+reading = ideal subject for me to explore!
  • I get it. It’s some sort of art thing, right? Or maybe a comment of how life just ends with no resolution? Or you just couldn’t think of a good way to end your story? Whatever the reason, I hate it when books just end.
  • Do you ever watch a movie and think “man, I wish that was a book”? No? Just me? Well, if you do, there’s a website that can help you out.
  • I waste a lot of time. A lot of times I waste it doing pointless things (Facebook and TV, I’m looking at you. Sometimes life wastes my time for me. I’d rather be reading.
  • I love apocalypse books. Stories set in the afterlife are similar to those apocalypse books. I wish there were more of them.
  • A monster’s guide to Columbus? Yeah, I could write that.
  • Does anyone ever feel like an adult? I certainly don’t and it has resulted in things like running away from home. I decided I’d try to learn how to be an adult. I’m not sure it went well.
  • I don’t want to be one of those “dog people” but I totally am.
  • I’m not a great sleeper. It seems like I have something in common with characters in fiction.
  • I love lists and spreadsheets and categorizing things. Don’t even get me started about the dorky spreadsheets I have going about our budget, or my clients, or my books. Seriously. I get really excited about them. So having to classify books on a 1-5 scale doesn’t really cut it for me.
  • Not gonna lie, I don’t think this story is worth your time. I just happened to read a book set in Spain while I was in Spain but I don’t think I did a great job explaining what it was like. Still, here it is.
  • Ugh, my journal. You guys, I am still so upset that it’s gone. I can’t believe I let it go when I knew (oh, I knew) that I should never have let it out of my sight. At least I took pictures throughout the trip. Where would I be without them?
  • Clichés exist for a reason, right?

If anyone has an idea for a story related to reading or books (or a book they’d recommend!), let me know! It would be great to get some input and ideas from other readers out there.

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I Was Bounced Out of the Vatican

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I’m not a particularly religious person. However, my family is pretty Catholic and I think my grandmother would kill me if she heard this story. So, I’m just going to tell it to you on the very private interwebs.

When we were in Rome, I wanted to visit the Vatican and I specifically wanted to see the Pope Mobile. Not so much the Pope, mind you, but the Pope Mobile. OK, in my daydream I would get to actually ride in the Popemobile and/or have my own Nata-mobile that was maybe involved in some sort of Mobile Drag Race. That was the dream. I figured that a Pope who puts out advice about being happy, uses Twitter, and generally seems like a cool guy would be down for a little mobile showdown.

We actually happened to visit Rome at a very important time (Catholicly speaking) – it was Easter and two former Popes were canonized. There were millions of people visiting. That meant that not only did we have to move Rome hotels 3 times due to rooms being booked but that there were plenty of opportunities to see the Pope address people.

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Every Wednesday (if the Pope is in town), he addresses the public. We showed up early but not early enough. There were gobs and gobs of people. I’m short and people were doing ridiculous things like putting their toddlers on their shoulders so they could see (sorry, Dad, but if that’s not Mickey, I doubt your son really cares). So, I really couldn’t see. As we were walking around, we spotted a raised platform that overlooked the square somewhat. I climbed up and I could just barely see if I stood on a pillar and looked over.

I was standing there with all of these other people who weren’t cool enough to be behind the special gates (the gates were not pearly, though). I was taking these really bad pictures of distant figures that I couldn’t see. Granted, there were giant TV screens everywhere but how could I catch a ride if I couldn’t get close enough to make eye contact? It was pretty sad.

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All of a sudden, a bunch of people just hopped over the fence. It was really casual and they blended into the crowd up front. I was sure there would be great opportunities for pictures up there so I jumped over, too.

Of course the guards spotted me.

All of these people jumping over and they spot me – the totally innocent, picture-taking, possibly mobile-racing girl. These two officers came over and started to escort me out of there. Except they were just sort of motioning for me to go in one direction. That direction just happened to be a place where I could see better so I thought they were being nice (we WERE at the Vatican, after all). So, I just stopped and took pictures. They weren’t being nice, though, and made me leave. Jerks. Then they dead-eyed me while I walked past the fence again. Sheesh. I guess I shouldn’t have quit being a Catholic when I was a teenager. They must’ve sensed my dissent.

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I was almost close enough to catch a ride on that Pope mobile, though.

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Pic A Day 2014

I just finished my third year of taking a picture every day. 2014 was a big year for us – travel, adventure, exploration, and the eventual return to normal life. Most days are not amazing. I’m sure a lot of these pictures don’t mean anything to anyone but me. Looking back, though, I’m so glad that I have pictures of all of those little things that I usually take for granted. Here are some of my favorite from 2014:

1-5-14 Breakfast at the Butterfly Garden

1-10-14 Truth in advertising

1-28-14 Last day

2-15-14 Surreal coffee in the middle of the protests

2-27-14 Life

3-28-14 Just walkin' a cheetah

4-10-14 Strolling the Streets in Santorini

5-5-14 Fox in the graveyard

5-9-14 Susanne introducing us to herring

6-5-14 You don't see that everyday

6-15-14 The Andes

6-18-14 Moai

6-24-14 Howler monkey

7-4-14 Sunset on the beach

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7-14-14 Chichen Itza

7-22-14 Big guy wanted to follow us on our walk

8-6-14 Our trip is over

9-14-14 Reflecting on life after being adopted

10-19-14 Fall leaves

10-26-14 She hasn't quite figured out the ball

11-18-14 Sunny and icy out

12-7-14 Village Lights

12-24-14 Introducing Kaya to Christmas Story

12-31-14 Happy New Year

If you want to see the full slideshow, check this out:

I’m sure you’re dying to see the other two years of my life. It’s your lucky day since here are the posts I wrote about those years:

Two Years of Pictures

A Year of Pictures

Thoughts on the first year of pictures

 

Posted in Animals, Cat, Cheetahs, Fun Stuff, Monkey, Photography, Tourist Activities, Travel | 2 Comments

Quote of the Day

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Quote of the Day

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.

– St. Augustine

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Quote of the Day

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Quote of the Day

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Quote of the Day

Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.

– Alan Keightley

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Questions Everyone Has Asked Us

Since we’ve been back and catching up with friends and family, here are the questions everyone seems to have (and our answers):

What was your favorite place?

This is the toughest question to answer since we generally liked almost everywhere we visited. If we had to narrow it down, we both agree that Chile is the place we wish we’d spent more time, Santorini was beautiful, and Cambodia was the place we made the most friends.

Which place did you dislike?

Nepal. I can see how it would be amazing if you were there to hike. Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford to go hiking so we were just there to check out Kathmandu. It was dusty, it was cold, it was crowded, I saw a woman get hit by a bus, there was a yeti outside of our window, there were long power cuts (where we didn’t have heat), and the people were in your face about trying to sell you things. That being said, the temple was beautiful, the people were nice, and the food was good. It was just overwhelming.

We also weren’t fans of Dubai since it was unwalkable and boring (unless you have money to burn). Bangkok wasn’t so great, either, but we were there during violent protests so maybe it wasn’t the best time to judge.

What’s the weirdest thing you ate?

Crickets. They didn’t taste like anything. We accidentally ate balut eggs at one point, too. I think. It was dark. Truthfully, you really have to seek out “strange” foods to eat; usually they’re exotic treats, even for locals. We ate similarly to how we eat at home although in some countries food was fresher (and in some it wasn’t), there was more of an emphasis on rice, and there’s a serious lack of cheese outside of America and Europe. I missed cheese.

Did anything bad happen?

We never had to bribe anyone. We were never accused of smuggling drugs and thrown into a prison. We were never yelled at and no one made disparaging remarks about America. We had nothing stolen and we didn’t break anything major. We never even got sick, other than a few minor colds and at least one really bad sunburn. All in all, we did really well for ourselves.

That being said, we had friends who had had all that happen to them. While in Cambodia, one of our good friends got typhoid and needed to be treated (she also went on to be bit by a monkey in India). We met several people who had their cameras, laptops, and money stolen. We witnessed riots and protests as well as the response by police in different countries. We made friends with a police officer in Jo-burg who told us stories of scams he’s witnessed and experienced. I think we were really, really lucky. I also think, though, that a lot of this stuff is just random and you can only worry about safety so much. Any of it could’ve happened at home (well, maybe not the monkey but you never know) so you might as well be traveling when it happens!

Why did you come back?

Money, of course. Originally, we wanted to travel throughout 2014. We probably have enough to keep going for awhile, actually. However, hockey season starts in the fall and Randy needs to attend a seminar if he wants to referee (if we weren’t back in September, he’d have to wait until next September to renew his license). Plus, early in the school year is when I am most busy with testing kids. We could’ve spent a few more months on the road but we would’ve spent more money and come back to bleaker opportunities for earning it back.

Plus, I have to say, we were getting really tired of moving around. The first half of our trip was good because we spent long chunks of time in one place. I think we burned ourselves out by moving through so many European countries so quickly, though. It’s tiring to keep looking for a place to sleep and places to eat. It’s also monotonous to go to beaches, museums, sites, etc. It sounds like it would be amazing but if that’s what you’ve been doing for months and months, it loses its luster. I didn’t want to go see things just to see them and I didn’t want to lose excitement for traveling. If we had been able to afford to keep traveling until next September, it would’ve been a prime time to settle into a long housesit and recharge for awhile.

What are you most excited to do now that you’re back?

Sleep in a comfy bed. Do our laundry in a washing machine (not a sink). Unpack and buy non-thrashed clothes. Sit on a couch (there aren’t many of those in hotel rooms). See our friends. Understand what I’m eating. Cook my own meals. Have our own space. Drink good beer. Foster shelter dogs again. Use our library and read actual books (no need for ereaders anymore!). Sit in a green park in tolerable weather without sweating through everything. Drive wherever we want to go, whenever we want to go there.

Will you do it again?

It’s hard to say right now. I doubt we would ever do things exactly the same as the first time. I would definitely want to do another extended trip but I might prefer to split it up between 3 or 4 countries so that we spend a few months really getting to know a place and people. We also had the most fun when we had a purpose – whether it was housesitting, volunteering, or photographing certain things (e.g., graffiti). I think an adventure with a purpose (such as volunteering with multiple agencies, hiking an important trail, or circling the world in a unique way) would be the most fun for the next time around.

8-6-14 Our trip is over

Posted in Adventure, Annoyances, Anxiety, Country Wrap Up, Dog, Drinks, Food, Fun Stuff, Health, Homesickness, Hotels, Libraries, Parks, Restaurant, Restaurants, Things I Never Told You, Tourist Activities, Travel | 3 Comments

Free Walking Tour in Rome

Rome, Italy is an amazing place to explore. There are tons of windy streets, interesting sites, and historic places which (in my humble opinion) are best explored on foot. It’s huge, though. The very first day we were awake enough to explore, we showed up for a free walking tour so that we could get a better sense of what was around.

We chose the New Rome Free Tour mainly because it was the first one in our search engine. I’m sure everyone else had the same idea because our group was huge.

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The tour leaves everyday at 5:30 from the Spanish steps.

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There were a ton of people on our tour and Rome is a crowded city as it is. However, I thought our guide did a pretty good job making sure everyone could hear him, ask questions, and see what we were supposed to be looking at.

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If my family had attended churches with ceilings and decorations as amazing as the ones in Rome, I might’ve been more excited about Sunday mornings.

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Just remember that these aren’t tourist attractions – there are people praying and attending mass in a lot of them.

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Dude. There’s a head in there.

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The Column of Marcus Aurelius was pretty amazing. However, true to my anxious nature, all I could think about was how intimidating it must’ve been to work on this and worry about messing up.

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This ceiling makes me dizzy just thinking about it.

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Inside the Pantheon.

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It’s blurry but this guy has his dog sitting on his shoulder. He told us his dog was tired of walking and needed a ride.

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The tour ends at the Trevi Fountain which was jam-packed with people. We took an obligatory photo, tipped our guide, and headed off (don’t worry, we came back when it was less crowded).

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Our guide recommended the Antica Birreria Peroni for dinner and drinks after the tour. It’s where Peroni was first brewed and poured in 1906. It’s around the corner from the Trevi Fountain.

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The beers were fairly reasonable and the food was good. It was crowded in there but fun after walking around all day.

Overall, this tour was just OK. It was too “church heavy” for my taste. It also didn’t go past any of the major tourist attractions you think of when you think of Rome (i.e., the Colosseum). Of course that’s because there is just too much to see in one tour and the city is pretty spread out. I think it’s a good one for anyone who has not been to Rome before, who is interested in architecture and churches, or who wants an overview of some of the lesser-seen sites in Rome.

New Rome Free Tour
Leaves everyday at 5:30 from the Spanish Steps
Takes approximately 2 hours
Their website includes a list of all of the stops.

Posted in Free Activities, Fun Stuff, Tourist Activities, Travel | Leave a comment