Archive for the ‘traveling’ Category

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Day 29 – Long Travel Day

November 29, 2011

Today has all revolved around travel, which makes sense because when you calculate my departure time from Goshen to my arrival time to dear ole Hedgehog in Seattle, it is a 14 hour trip. Granted that involved around 2 hours of wandering around downtown Chicago, between the train and the plane, but still a very long day. While I am partially tempted to write about all the annoyances of travel (CTA delays that gave David and I the privilege of waiting 30 minutes in the cold and twice running up and down a flight of stairs carrying my 54lb suitcase, the dehydrating nature of planes, how tired one gets after sitting for so long) in the end I am indeed sitting in a chair in a metal tube flying thousands of feet above the air and this 14 hour “grueling trip” would have taken many times as long only 100 or so short years ago.

My trip home (interestingly enough Chicago, Goshen and even Seattle all feel, to some degree, like they fit that description) was wonderful, all too short, relaxing, tiring, full of furious catch-up sessions with friends and definitely something I feel rather reluctant to return from. While I will get to see Becca and Jess in just a few weeks over New Year’s Day, my plans to see family again aren’t currently set and I won’t be able to get home for Christmas this year. Already I am feeling the pinch of both vacation days (by January I will only have 3.5 to get me through the end of August) and money and other than a possible trip in March don’t know when I will get to see my family again. That makes me sad, but I guess it is also part of the big adventure of moving to the West Coast and that is an adventure I am still excited about.

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Day 6 – Photo Sunday

November 6, 2011

I think Photo Sunday will probably be my favorite part of NaBloPoMo (with the exception of Thursdays, my day off thanks to all my awesome guest posts), first because who doesn’t like getting to just post a photo instead of coming up with substantive words and second, I get a kick out of looking through old photos.  But for this inagural Photo Sunday post I thought I would put in a little more effort and make you all an animated gif!  This is from my parents’ awesome 2 week visit in early October.  I never really got around to writing up a proper re-cap post, but my favorite part was a our 3 day weekend trip to the San Juan Islands.  We drove around the islands, hiked a lot and ate really good food.  This photo is from the top of Mount Young and contains my favorite self-portrait in a long time, in which I use my self-levitation skills to attempt to get into place before the timer went off.  Enjoy!

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What I would have tweeted during my 4 hour “lay-over” at Chicago O’Hare Airport if I had wanted to buy wi-fi access

August 20, 2011

6:45am Board flight to Fort Lauderdale, and finally allow myself to look through beautiful photo/journal book that Becca and Jess made for me

6:50am Get rather sentimental, although I cheer up after reading the hilarious note written by my cat Lina (translated by my housemate Anne)

7:45am After relaxing 60 minute wait at the gate, the flight is officially canceled due to fuel imbalance mechanical issues

8:30am Good: Lovely re-booking woman gets me the only available flight to Fort Lauderdale still leaving today Bad: Flight doesn’t leave till 12:55pm and takes me through Dallas

8:31am Pretty sure I will never truly understand flight re-routing, previous trip involved Chicago-Kansas City-Albuquerque-Seattle, so Chicago-Dallas-Fort Lauderdale = not too bad

8:45am Call lots of people, get airport shuttle arranged, so far customer service is 4 for 4 in the pleasant and helpful category

9:15am Decide to take the coffee route, despite only 5 hours of sleep, due to inherently uncomfortable airplane seating

9:27am Find new gate and pull out iPod, listen to the awesome mix Becca made for me, am reminded how much I love Peter Paul and Mary

9:41am Play mix still great, however I discover that I am pretty horrible at most non-crossword related puzzles

9:45am Decide to get pictures from the weekend off my card and edit on my laptop.

9:55am After repeatedly wrestling with new but quite cheap carry-on I am successful – photos!

10:15am Editing and reviewing – I have a lot of gorgeous friends and Chicago is a beautiful city

10:40am Out of coffee

11:23am Done editing photos, kind of want a nap, but instead will go wander the terminal for a while

12:05am Finally I get to board a plane and hopefully this time take off!

I did indeed finally make it to Fort Lauderdale and only 12 hours after I boarded that original plane at O’Hare.  Plus in additional American Airlines fun, my new co-workers and I missed our return connection out of Dallas yesterday due to a delayed flight out of Fort Lauderdale.  Fortunately we were able to catch another flight only 2 hours later and they only lost one of my pieces of luggage along the way (which they just delivered to my new address(!!!) this morning).

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I’m leavin on a jet plane

August 15, 2011

Well the time for departure has finally come, I am actually heading out on my big adventure called moving to Seattle. My flight leaves at 6:45am tomorrow morning so the last few days (and weeks) have been filled with packing, shipping boxes, goodbyes, final one night trips with the girls, ice cream and more goodbyes. Up until this past Sunday I had been doing a pretty good job of keeping my emotions under wraps, but finally in church (in front of everyone! (which actually considering how much I hate to cry in public, is a good indication of how much these people and this community have become my home)) and a few times since then I have found tears catching up with me.

But there is excitement too, seeing Alex again, getting to spend time with David, making jam with Katie, finally UNPACKING!!!!!!!!!! It is just hard right now to face goodbye after goodbye, all while reminding myself that life is both changing a lot and not changing at all. I will still have all these relationships with me, but it will just be longer till I get to see them all in person.

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Paddle-a-thon wrap-up

August 12, 2011

So folks, Steph and I did it!  On Saturday we paddled a total of 31 miles in two different countries and in that 31 miles is included 3 miles worth of portaging (which means that for those three miles the canoe was balanced on one of our shoulders while the other carried our shared day pack and assorted gear of paddles, lifejackets, etc).  As several other repeat paddle-a-thoners have said, it is amazing how quickly one’s body and mind forget pain and since it only took until around Tuesday for the soreness to leave my shoulders, the crazy thought is already entering my head of “Man, that would be fun to do again!”  But we will leave that for another time, but for now here is a breakdown of the day.

5:15am Moose Lake

There were 6 groups of paddlers and 1 kayaker heading out on the water on Saturday and 4 groups headed out at 4am, while my canoe and our buddy canoe waited to the luxurious hour of 5am (the different between waking at 3:30am and 4:30am can’t be underestimated).  Despite all my anxieties (ask Steph, sometimes around big events like this I can get just a little nutso) about the “60% chance of thunderstorms” forecast, we had a great day for paddling.  It started off clear and allowed me to get to see that beautiful sunrise over the water that I had been looking forward, but then clouded over and kept us nice and cool during the long paddle home that late afternoon.

6 miles and 2 hours later

Our route took us north out of Moose Lake, for about 6 miles, until we reached our first portage of the day over into the Quetico.  Only 20 rods long (1 rod equals 16 feet) this also marked our last chance to use a real toilet for the day (the Quetico is even more primitive than the Boundary Waters and doesn’t even have latrines).  From there it was another 3 mile paddle up into Sunday Bay where we had our first of our three serious portages of the day, 134 rods.  Then another 3 miles of paddling where we faced down the big one 190 rods (approximately 1/2 a mile) and I was proud that I managed to carry the canoe both ways for this one.  However I will say that type of thing leaves you shaky, slightly floating and incapable of raising ones’ hands above ones’ head.  After that it was a quick paddle around a corner of a lake and then another 140 rod portage to get us into our final destination Agnes Lake and the lovely waterfall where we rested for lunch.

Lunch break at the falls on Agnes Lake

Of course this also meant that after our 30 minutes of rest we hoped (or more accurately slowly lowered ourselves) into our canoes to retrace our route from the morning.  I think Steph would agree that our combined low point came around 5 miles from the boat access point (or around mile 26).  At this point, you know there is absolutely no other option than to just keep paddling, but your body is pretty pissed at you for getting it into this whole mess, your arms have kind of forgotten how to paddle a J-stroke or a C-stroke, there are highly annoying black flies catching a ride in your canoe for the express purpose of driving you slowly mad by repeatedly biting your legs (it is hard to swat and paddle simultaneously), the clouds overhead are blocking any chance of seeing the sky head towards sunset and your navigator (in this case me) keeps misreading the map thinking we are only 15 minutes or so away.  This is when you fall back on the only thing that will save you and someone keep you paddling for those last miles, the thing that is always there for you during late night road trips, or mopey Saturday afternoons, by which I mean of course the complete Sound of Music soundtrack.  Steph and I had discovered earlier in the day that singing quite helps the time go by and also helps us paddle together, so we had already sung through our entire repertoire of hymns, folk songs, etc, but hadn’t yet remembered musicals.  So after we completed Sound of Music (we even attempted the puppet yodeling song, although we could only remember the first 2 lines) we ventured into Lion King and several others, before finally around 6:45pm, we reached the end!

Our gang of five

Finally, I just want to thank all of you who donated! While Steph and I didn’t quite reach our goal of raising $1,000 (we raised just under $900), we were so happy that we were able to raise as much as we did.  So thanks again to all of you who donated or at least thought positive thoughts for Steph and I on Saturday, it made such a difference!

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long silence followed by important announcement

August 3, 2011

Seeing as that is a familiar pattern with me and my half-hearted blogging (just kidding on the half-hearted part, I love you all and am just lazy about updating 🙂 ), I will cut to the chase.  This Saturday I am doing something just a little bit rash and crazy on my part and paddling 30 miles in a canoe!  Back when I joined the board of Wilderness Wind in October of 2010, I thought that I might attempt such a thing.  But see, that was back closer to my previous trip to the Boundary Waters, in which I had done all sorts of affirming things like portage an 80lb canoe all week, learned how to paddle in the back of a canoe (i.e. steer), set up a cook stove and generally keep 6 high schoolers and one other “adult” from killing themselves (and if you really want to know, it was probably the later that gave me more trouble (just kidding Zeb! 🙂 ).

Anyways that leads me to this week, long past the point where I thought that I would use this as excuse to train and get all kinds of buff and much closer to the “what the heck did I sign up for” part.  But like much of life, this too shall pass.  However this is where you come in lovely blog readers, family and friends.  The reason I am doing this crazy thing is because I really really love this organization called Wilderness Wind.  I went on my first canoe trip through this Mennonite camp back as a little recently graduated 8th grader and I went with 3 other girls my age and our marvelously forgiving fathers.  The trip was only a week long trip including the long drive to and from Ely, Minnesota, but that was all it took to get me completely hooked.  Sure part of the appeal is obvious; water, trees, rock and big blue sky, but it goes much further beyond that.

How can you not fall in love?

Where else can you experience the thrill of crossing large bodies of lake with whitecaps to finally pull yourself up and out onto a wooden pier at the end of your trip.  Memories like that stay with you and help build up connections you have not only with your friends, who willingly shared a canoe with you, but to the grand sense of your own small part in the natural world.

End of the trip photo: 2001

Where else can you experience a thunderstorm with only a thin nylon surface between you and hail the size of a dime?
Me and the incredible quarter-size hail

Where else can you cook fabulous desserts with only filtered water, a packet of instant pistachio pudding and some crushed oreos?
Asha and I demonstrate proper dessert making

Where else is this the proper and preferred dish cleaning method?
How to truly clean one's own sierra cup

Where else is playing in a capsized canoe a legitimate afternoon activity?
More fun with a capsized canoe

Where else do you leave your watch behind, spend 20 minutes a day in silence and get to see a treat like this every night before bed?
Yet another Boundary Waters sunset

Wilderness Wind continues to work to provide wilderness experiences that connect with people spiritually, ecologically and in the deep way nature can change how a person views their life. It is a small organization and as I have learned during the past year on the board, every dollar makes a difference. This year marks our 25th anniversary and so we have one of our largest paddle-a-thon teams to date. Over 20 paddlers will be participating on Saturday and each of us has a goal to raise $500. My wonderful friend Steph and I are paddling together and also fundraising together, but we could definitely still use your help. So if you love the wilderness, enjoy reading the blog from time to time, or just appreciate my willingness to post embarrassing photos of myself
Mixing up the base camp orange juice
Please, pretty please, considering donating a couple bucks to this wonderful organization.

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Coffee in Seattle

May 28, 2011

Well I successfully arrived in Seattle late last night (or on my internal clock, very early this morning). Friday was quite a long day due to it being the last day for seniors at the high school, but other than a request for a last period dance party in the library (sorry, but no, seeing as 3/4 of the school still has work to do) and some firecrackers set off outside the library, it was actually a pretty calm day. Then of course I hurried home and did last minute packing and caught a ride to the downtown Evanston bus depot where I took the bus to the airport. There I had some mild anxiety because a) the bus took 80 minutes as opposed to the 60 that I was expecting b) I hadn’t realized that one still had to take a tram in from the drop off spot to the actual terminal c) I didn’t know which terminal to go to because United serves two separate ones. But thankfully I wasn’t checking bags, so after a brisk walk/run between terminals I got my boarding pass, got through security and got to my gate with 1/2 hour to spare. The flight went well and I had a window seat, which always makes me happy. I also noticed that we never actually moved beyond at least a faint sunset (at least not until we began the descent into Seattle) in the far west. Now, I don’t know exactly why this is, seeing as we landed around 11pm Seattle time, but perhaps we were so high up that we could see significantly further west? Either way it was beautiful and oddly comforting. Plus I was rewarded with a gorgeous view of the lights of downtown Seattle as we banked south towards the airport. Such a beautiful city!
Now of course I am sitting in a coffee shop (suitable Saturday morning activity anywhere, but especially here in the city of coffee) with David. Alex is off volunteering at his ESL class and I tagged along with David to his favorite local Top Pot, which features rather incredible “hand-forged” donuts. I have been to others of this local chain on previous trips.

Seriously this Top Pot doughnut was the size of my head, or at least my face.

From my Seattle trip last August: Although not pictured, David is off to the left and that is Becca sitting across from me waiting for the deliciousness!

But this time I got a raspberry bismark, which was both delicious and full of powdery explosions.  Well now I am probably going to go test my geographic knowledge on Sporcle (thanks to Alex and Becca, this is my new obsession) or some such other random internet-y thing.  Unfortunately I still haven’t heard back from THE JOB, but seeing as a three day weekend has now commenced, I am going to do my best to forget about until Tuesday morning at the earliest.