Archive for the 'U.S.' Category

December 23rd 2008
The Interviews – Part Two

Posted under U.S.

Now that we’re back and we have had a chance to reflect on our journey, we have written a follow-up post to the Interview questions that we published in April.

What were your top five destinations and why?


India, particularly Rajasthan: India has an amazingly colorful culture. Every person on the streets could be a National Geographic cover. In Rajasthan, the desert is golden, the buildings are stucco or clay, but the people love color so they wrap themselves in vibrant hues – even the men wear bright red or fuschia turbans – and adorn their homes with flowers and colorful tiles. The food is sensational. The people are friendly. The architecture, history, religious dynamic and volatility are fascinating. India is the dirtiest place I have ever experienced but I am utterly enthralled by it.

Japan: It wasn’t even on our initial list of places that we wanted to visit. We only went because we had friends from the States who were living there at the time and we wanted to visit them. From the day of our arrival to the day we left, two weeks later, I was bowled over by Japan. The gardens and architecture were especially impressive. I never tired of wandering through public parks and private gardens with their enchanting pagodas and twisted trees. Everything was pristinely manicured and seemed somehow perfectly placed to inspire an overall feeling of peace and well-being. Japan was full of unique and fascinating experiences: visiting the Atomic Bomb Museum in Hiroshima, dressing up as a geisha in Kyoto, feeding deer in Nara, dining on Kobe beef in Kobe, our beautiful stay at the ryokan in Tsumago/Magome, visiting the Jensens in Tokyo, and, of course, the cherry blossoms. Japan was one of the places in which we struggled most with the language barrier but every experience was dazzling and unforgettable. It was one of the true gems of our trip.

New Zealand: What’s not to love? New Zealand is one of the most beautiful places on Earth! For outdoor lovers like us, there are so many things to see and do. Queenstown was one of the coolest cities on our itinerary with stunning scenery and a ski town vibe. We spent the majority of our time on the South Island, reveling in some of the most breathtaking places imaginable. We sampled the delights of the Marlborough wine region and embarked on a host of outdoor activities like hiking the Routeburn Track, kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park, boating on Milford Sound. The North Island, though slightly less aesthetically pleasing than the South, was still spectacular. Our day of sailing in the Bay of Islands was one of our best days on the road and, if we ever do another trip around the world, it will be on a sailboat, inspired by that day. New Zealand is easy travel for Americans because everyone speaks English and the culture is similar yet uniquely interesting. It is a long way to get there but most definitely worth the trip.

France and Italy: It seems like a cliché to put France or Italy on this list but it must be done. The two are simply dazzling. No matter how much they have been built up in your mind before you go, you are still floored by the beauty of their art and architecture and by their cuisine and outdoor café culture. I had a wonderful Humanities class at U of A that exposed me to the world of European art. I have since been fascinated by it so the churches and museums in France and Italy were among the most significant sights on my wish list. The Louvre and the Vatican greatly exceeded my highest expectations and I would return a hundred times over, just to spend more time there. The Italian coastal towns of Amalfi, Positano, Atrani and Cinque Terre are among the most beautiful places in the world. Also, the wine regions of Bordeaux, St. Emilion and Tuscany were absolutely breathtaking. Bordeaux came with a little too much French attitude but I did love every wine that we tasted and there is a magic about St. Emilion that you must experience to fully understand. We also loved finding spectacular local wines in both France and Italy for 2-3 Euros a bottle.

Runners Up: Bali, Belgium, Zanzibar, South Africa, Australia, Thailand…not necessarily in that order.

1. India – It was one of the most interesting and colorful places that I’ve ever seen.
2. Russia – Beautiful churches and warm, friendly people. This was the most difficult place for us to travel, from visas to language barriers, and it remains one of the most mysterious countries on earth, but I loved it.
3. Japan – There is so much history and culture here that contrasts with the first world, consumer-driven society.
4. France – World-famous museums, wines, and cheeses…and a patisserie on every street!
5. New Zealand, South Island – One of the most physically beautiful places on earth.

What was your least favorite destination and why?


I enjoyed every place that we visited. There were a few, however, that I enjoyed less due to my own circumstances. The countries on their own merits were fine otherwise:

Mozambique: the diving was disappointing and the accommodation was pretty awful but the beaches were beautiful and the people were kind. Our greatest difficulties in Mozambique were our hyper-sensitivity to the sun – a side effect of our malaria pills; rain leaking through the roof of our hut onto our bed; cold water showers; and rats that ran through our hut each night.

China: I had a serious mental block about China and I don’t know why – the sights and accommodation were excellent. The language barrier was at times exhausting. The public smoking was atrocious. And there were SO MANY PEOPLE!!! In China, I felt like I was almost constantly in a crowded elevator, inhaling other people’s breath and secondhand smoke.

Lamu (an island off the coast of Kenya): What was intended as a “vacation from our vacation” turned out to be a real disaster in almost every way: awful accommodation; food poisoning and mosquitoes for Aaron; no services on the beach; and our misadventure with the Now Legendary Captain Barracuda. The saving grace was that we got to hang out with our friend Marie again. The fresh mango juice was absolutely divine but Aaron would NOT recommend the fish!


Nepal. We were there in the middle of the off season and there wasn’t much to do. We couldn’t see the world famous mountains because the visibility wasn’t good and it was too hot and humid to explore much outside of the cities. Added to that, we were simply waiting to find out if Tina’s medical condition would improve. It probably had more to do with our mental attitudes at the time than the place itself, but it seemed like the longest three weeks of my life.

Describe the most physically difficult experience?


The first day of the mountain trek in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand – the longest and steepest uphill climb of my life! It hurts just thinking about it.


We arrived at the train station in Suzhou, China in the middle of a rainstorm. We overpaid a gypsy taxi that dropped us off in the wrong part of town. Then we trudged around with our bags in the pouring rain. After several attempts we finally flagged down a rickshaw driver who would take us to the right hostel, we rode in the mostly uncovered backseat for another twenty minutes getting completely soaked. When we finally arrived at the hostel, the driver tried to extort us for more money – and Tina nearly killed the guy. We were cold, wet and both in a bad mood. It was miserable.

Name one thing that you’ve learned about yourself.


I love my country! I am so much more patriotic than ever before. We live in the best country on Earth and there is nowhere else I’d rather be in the long term; no other citizenship I would rather have. Strangely, I thought that the trip would have the opposite effect on me because Europe is so glamorized by Americans and you always hear about how Americans are perceived negatively abroad. In many countries, we are perceived negatively. However, if you gave most of those same people the opportunity to come and live here, they would be on the boat faster than you could say “United States of America”.


While I’ve discovered how to be a little more patient and less antsy, I still can’t sit still for long. And I still get annoyed when I have to wait…and I’m not good at hiding my impatience.

What did you miss most about home?


My dog, my bathroom, and salad.


Lena, our little furry child substitute. No matter how long we were away, we thought about her at least once a day and often much more than that. It didn’t really feel like we were home until we had spent about a week with our little dog and she knew that we were here to stay.

The ability to get any consumable that I want at anytime. There were a number of times during our travels when we had tremendous difficulty finding simple everyday items like deodorant and toothpaste. I’ll never take Walmart for granted again!

What was one of your favorite activities?


Swimming with dolphins off the coast of Zanzibar

Watching the Tour de France! We woke up early and waited for hours along the Champs Elysees for the final stage of the Tour. When the riders finally came around for their first of eight laps, it was totally worth it. After sitting and standing on the concrete curb for nearly eight hours, we stood for another hour on our aching feet to watch all eight laps. My mom and Tina were both there and were so patient – I’ll never forget that day!

What did you enjoy most about life on the road?


The simplicity of living out of a backpack. There is something organic and reassuring in the realization that all the material possessions you really need can be carried on your back. It is quite a shocking experience to live like that for over a year and then come home to examples of American excesses around every corner…your own storage space included. Aaron’s jaw dropped when he found a crate of his sweaters…just sweaters – a whole box of them! It is amazing to think about how much more we have than we really need and funny/sad that we always seem to be trying to get more and more and more. Unfortunately, these things often distract from what is truly important.

The simplicity of living out of a backpack. Everything you own is on your back. If you buy something, you have to carry it. It really made me analyze every purchase decision. And there was rarely any indecision about what clothes I would wear on a given day – whichever shirt or pair of pants was cleanest.

What did you enjoy least about life on the road?


The bathroom situation. I’ve been candid in my blog posts about my “germophobic” tendencies and our varied and often shocking bathroom experiences around the world. For some people, where and how they attend to this necessary human function is not a big part of their day. Well, for me, it is a HUGE part! In fact, some of our days seemed to actually revolve around it. Every country was a little different and it was ALWAYS more difficult for women. For example, I remember a day in Rishikesh, India when we were out walking around town. I had to go and there was literally nowhere that I could go. India is a place where men pee anywhere and everywhere, like dogs marking their territory. I saw more men urinating in public in India than I can count on both hands and both feet. Probably more than twice that many. That day in Rishikesh, when I thought my bladder was going to burst, I could not even find a private spot in a field. We had to walk all the way back to our hotel. In many countries in Europe, businesses charge to use the restroom, even if you are a patron. In all countries, it is mandatory to carry your own toilet paper. And then there were the squat toilets, though I believe I’ve covered that topic sufficiently already. Let’s just say that I’m VERY happy to be home!

The shared bathrooms and small showers. We often joked that hostels are like a box of chocolates because you never know what you’re gonna get. But it’s true. More often than not we shared a bathroom with at least one or two other people – and there are some seriously messy people in this world! And the showers – I can’t even remember how many times we showered in a bathroom where there wasn’t even a bathtub or curtain or “shower”. There was just a shower head poking out of the wall next to the toilet and a drain in the middle of the bathroom. Very interesting.

If you could re-locate now to one city that you’ve visited thus far, which would you choose?


This is the hardest question. There were so many cities in which I would love to live temporarily. My ideal city has all of the following: mild climate, mountains, beach, European café culture, beautiful architecture, and world class museums. I have yet to find one city with all of these attributes. All that aside, I could live in Paris for a while, just to be close to the Louvre.

Sydney, Australia. It’s beautiful. Aussies are fun-loving people who enjoy spending time outdoors. And culturally it is very similar to America. We would get along just fine.

Name the top three international destinations still on your “wish list”?


Romania – Bucharest and the Transylvanian Alps sound amazing
Ireland – I’d like to do England, Scotland and Ireland on the same trip
Argentina – I am sad to have missed South America. It is not as painful for Aaron because he has already seen much of it. He has me sold on Buenos Aires and we like the idea of learning Spanish and teaching English.

1. England & Ireland
2. Turkey
3. Tibet

What advice would you give to someone trying to plan a similar trip?


Plan as you go. It’s not much more expensive than the round-the-world ticket and you have the freedom to change your itinerary as often as you like. You quickly realize on a trip like this that it is better to see less places and stay longer in each place.

If you have the choice, don’t wait until retirement. The reasons are many-fold: 1) World travel is physically intensive. As an average retiree, you are less physically fit and have more health considerations, which can greatly limit your range of activities and experiences. 2) You could die before you get there, instead leaving all of your hard-earned travel money to children who will squander it on trivial things. Easy come, easy go. 3) An experience like this opens your eyes in many ways. Life after traveling the world is financially poorer but spiritually richer.

1. Carry a laptop.
2. Budget more than you think you’ll need – currency exchange rates are totally unpredictable and will break any budget.
3. Pack light. Everything that you REALLY need, you can find just about anywhere in the world.

How do you feel the trip has changed you as a person?


I feel like a more compassionate and patient person. I care about being a better global citizen – working to be a little greener and paying attention to what’s going on both inside and outside our borders. The most significant change that I’ve noticed in myself, however, is an insatiable thirst for knowledge. I read voraciously and have always enjoyed literature but these days I find my reading list overtaken by nonfiction works on world history, religion and politics. While I will always be a lover of language and a sucker for a good story, my interests have broadened in fascinating directions.


I’ve always been a self-confident person but this trip has really shown me that I am also competent and can handle adversity in my everyday life. It is very empowering to know that I can manage life’s challenges with a little critical thinking and ingenuity. I’ve also learned that it’s okay to ask for help. Whether you speak the language or not, if you ask, people will more often than not do their best to help you if they can.

What did you take away from the experience of traveling the world that was unexpected?


The skills of negotiation.


Now that we’re back, I’m much more patriotic. While I’ve always been proud to be an American, our experiences around the world reminded me that we still live in the greatest country on earth. Our freedoms, the quality of our food and services, and the courageous will of our people are unparalleled around the world.

Name three things about America that you will no longer take for granted?


American service – I’ll never bat an eye about leaving a generous tip for good service. In countries where gratuity is mandatory or minimal, service workers are simply less motivated to please the customer. If you send a dish back for inferior quality or your Coke is flat, in many countries, you’re still paying for it.

American health care – Yes, our health care system is in need of reform but it is still the best in the world.

American shopping – nowhere else in the world do you get the same variety of products from which to choose…and I mean NOT EVEN CLOSE!!!


1. Freedom. We are the most fortunate population in the world. We live under a system of government where we freely and democratically elect our officials; we can speak our minds in any medium, and do just about anything that we want within the rule of law.
2. Shopping. America is the land of consumerism. We seem to have a greater variety of things that we can buy at Costco than Russians have in their entire country! It’s unbelievable!
3. Great salads. Nowhere else that we traveled could we buy prepared salads (or even the ingredients for a lettuce salad) that even matched the quality of our salads in the US. I lost count of how many times we stopped at McDonald’s while we were traveling just so we could get some greens!

How do you envision life after traveling the world?


I want to start a family. The rest is just details.


It’s back to a normal life with a job and day-to-day responsibilities.

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November 10th 2008
Coming Home

Posted under U.S.

The long way home from Moscow was broken up into several legs both to ease the transition and make a couple of convenient stops along the way. We re-entered the United States in Boston and made plans to spend one night in the city to meet little Maaden Rooney – pride and joy of dear friends, Mark and Meredith. At the Boston airport we collected our backpacks for almost the last time and stopped at the information desk to get directions to our hotel. The gentleman at the desk was friendly and helpful and we laughed at the wonderful ease of the English-language transaction. It was good to be home.

With smiles plastered on our faces, we walked to the train stop and found our route. On the train, we listened in wonderment as each stop was announced in English. There was no need to count stops or decipher foreign characters. It was brilliant! Then, as we were changing trains, an altercation ensued nearby where, in between the cursing and Ebonics, threats of people getting shot echoed through the underground station. Whoa, reality check! Suddenly, the stars in my eyes were shrouded by a dark cloud as I was reminded that, while America is the greatest country on Earth, not everything is roses.

Seeing Mark, Mer and Maaden was great. We spent about an hour fawning over the little superstar at the hotel and then went to dinner at a place nearby. The menu was excellent but all we wanted was salad – good old American salad with lots of lettuce and fresh ingredients. This, my favorite food, proved to be the most difficult dish to find on the road. Oh, salad is on a lot of menus around the world but often the main ingredient, instead of lettuce, is potatoes or beets or some distant relative of a recognizable vegetable that defeats the whole purpose of ordering a salad in the first place. Pardon the rant – it’s a sensitive subject. Our first American, non-McDonald’s salads were absolutely divine. It was good to be home.

Early the next morning, we flew to Dallas, where we had purposely inserted an 8-hour layover on our way to Phoenix – our temporary final destination. At DFW Airport, we rented a car and drove to our storage unit where we filled two small roller boards with as many jeans, shoes, and sweaters as we could fit inside. We were there for about two hours, sifting through our possessions, smiling at things we forgot we owned, and dazzled by the breadth of our respective wardrobes.

Next, we drove north to our old neighborhood in Keller to cast our vote in the 2008 Presidential Election. Texas is a die hard red state but, since we have been following the campaign from abroad and have visited so many places where, sadly, people do not have the right to vote or are terrorized into voting for corrupt rulers, we felt strongly that it was important to exercise our right to vote for the next leader of our country.

We drove by our old house next to make sure the new owners were keeping the landscaping up to our standards and to reminisce about the life we left behind to pursue a dream. It was a beautiful house and we loved living there but it was so big for the two of us that sometimes we felt swallowed up by all of the empty space, consumed by a need to fill that space with “stuff”. Seeing that house again only reinforced our desire to start small this time.

We stopped for an early dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in Southlake on or way back to the airport. The weather was sunny and warm and we sat on the patio, enjoying the superb American service – the friendliest, most attentive service that you can get anywhere in the world.

We finally arrived at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport around 9pm. Aaron’s mom picked us up and drove us back to her place to reunite with our own little pride and joy – a nine-pound furry angel, named Lena (aliases: Lenasaurus Rex, Little Miss Brownbottom, Poop-a-doo, Little Goodie Four-Paws). Her physical absence from our life made each day on the road bittersweet and it wasn’t any easier on the last day of our trip than it was on the first day. We LOVE our dog!

It was a tearful reunion. She was so excited that she was whimpering uncontrollably as she jumped frantically from one of us to the other, smothering us with wet puppy kisses. Her reaction melted our hearts and she has barely left our sides since. As she slowly learns to understand that Momma and Daddy are never leaving her again, we are making up for fourteen months of lost time. We are relieved to find our little furry angel just as we left her. Grandma has spoiled her well.

As we gradually reintegrate ourselves into American life, the experiences that we have had over the past year-and-a-half will shape our values and desires as well as the way we view the world. We are fascinated by the international stage and more plugged into world news than ever before. We are more conscientious about being better global citizens. We want to give more and consume less. We want experiences more than things. We want to be travelers in our own country – there are brilliant things to see within our own borders. Most importantly, we want to live every day as if it were our last; to always be mindful of the blessings in our life. We anticipate many challenges and temptations as we plunge back in to American consumerism and many of our former vices may rear their heads once again. We can only hope that every choice will be made with deeper wisdom and worldly understanding of what is really important.

It’s good to be home.


December 31st 2007
Home for the Holidays

Posted under U.S.

We left Johannesburg on the evening of December 18 and, after thirty-one hours and three connections, we arrived in Boston sleep deprived (neither of us can sleep on planes) but otherwise unscathed. As we arrived on American soil, I began to softly sing every patriotic song that I could think of. Mark picked us up and drove us to Providence where we met up with more of the Rooney clan. We all caught up over a quick drink in the hotel bar before they headed off to the Mulhearns’ for dinner and we passed out for a good twelve hours. When we finally re-surfaced, the pre-wedding festivities were already brewing as more friends and family began to arrive.

It had occurred to us just a few weeks prior to the wedding that we didn’t have anything appropriate to wear, couldn’t realistically buy anything in South Africa, and wouldn’t have time to shop in Providence. Thankfully, we knew just who to call – an expert in the retail arts – my mom. Within a few days of receiving a list of our sizes, she had secured full attire for us for the entire weekend’s affairs, including all of the proper undergarments, shoes and accessories, and shipped them to Providence. Momma, you rock!

The rehearsal dinner took place at the University Club at Brown University. Everyone looked ravishing, particularly Mark and Meredith who were both glowing, and the venue was gorgeous. I was still a bit shocked by my own transition from cargo pants to stockings, high heels, and a strapless bra. I had forgotten how much I love Aaron clean-shaven and in a tie. Dinner was a lavish winter buffet followed by an array of decadent desserts to please every palate. Many heartfelt toasts were given in honor of the happy couple and we were even serenaded by Christmas carolers dressed in colonial attire with tall top hats, tiny spectacles and plenty of holiday cheer.

The wedding ceremony and reception at Warwick Country Club were beautiful and adorably personalized. The club is set on the shore of Naragansett Bay where Mark and Meredith spent the summer boating and falling in love. The bridesmaids donned floor-length black gowns, carried red roses, and walked to the delicate melody of a string quartet. The bride was stunning – her gown divine. When the pastor introduced Mr. and Mrs. Mark Rooney, I think that Aaron and I both realized how happy we were to be there. The reception was merry and energetic with an almost constantly packed dance floor. We sipped pomegranate martinis and ate enough hors d’oeuvres to qualify as a full meal, which didn’t stop us from indulging in the four courses that followed. The evening was so much fun that, before we knew it, the band was announcing the last song of the night. In a flutter of hugs, Mr. and Mrs. Mark Rooney said their goodbyes and rode away in their limo. We stumbled across the freezing parking lot to Mark and Meredith’s Volvo (the first “o” is pronounced short if you live in Rhode Island) and struggled to figure out the GPS so that we could find our way back to their condo. We were happy to realize that, because Mark had lent us his Blackberry for the weekend, he wouldn’t have it on his honeymoon.

At 5:00am on Christmas Eve, we arrived at the airport in Providence only to find that our flight to Chicago had been canceled. Bah humbug! We eventually secured two seats on a later flight but were told that there would not be any connecting flights to Moline. After calling every rental car company at O’Hare, we determined that there was not a single car available at any price. Resigned to spending Christmas eve in a hotel, we called my parents with the sad, though not surprising, news and Daddy came to the rescue by driving to Chicago to pick us up!

We had made last-minute secret plans to surprise my family by having Aaron’s mom bring our puppy from Phoenix and we were dying to see our little child substitute. Still mildly zonked from the doggy valium, our little Lenasaurus went totally crazy when she saw us. She kept jumping from Aaron’s arms into mine and back again until finally we both laid down and let her crawl all over us and smother us with four months worth of puppy kisses.

We spent the next seven days with our family, relaxing, visiting and driving each other crazy as only relatives can. We had a white Christmas, which also meant freezing temperatures, so we rarely left the house. We didn’t mind, though. There’s no more beautiful, warm and inviting place than my parents’ house at Christmas. The tree looks amazing every year, the house is trimmed inside and out with Christmas accents and the kitchen is full of Mom’s cooking. This year, Aaron and I had requested pasticcio, spanakopita and my yiayia’s homemade bread and all three were waiting for us when we arrived. One of my fondest childhood memories is of sitting in Yia’s kitchen and dipping her homemade bread, toasted with melted butter and Papou’s honey (he was a beekeeper), into a dainty cup of coffee with cream and sugar. They are both gone now but Mom has the bread recipe mastered and we still have a single last jug of the honey with Papou’s name and phone number on the label. I ate the toast for breakfast every morning until it was gone and even had my coffee with cream and sugar one morning so that I could take myself back to that hazy memory in a tiny kitchen in Dubuque, Iowa where I always felt spoiled rotten and infinitely loved.

Lena stole the show for the entire week. My family is as crazy about her as we are and she went from one lap to another, received a minimum of a hundred kisses each day, and was the main topic of conversation. When we finally left, it was a toss up as to who they were more sad to say goodbye to, us or Lena. We loved every minute of being home for the holidays but it was hard to say goodbye. We would love to have our family and friends meet us somewhere along the way but we understand that, while we’re busy squandering our fortune, most other people’s lives are continuing on as usual. It will be initially hard to return to the hostel world after basking in the comforts of home for two wonderful weeks (I’m already bracing myself for the squat toilets in India) but whatever adventures and challenges the next fourteen months bring will be met with open minds and open hearts. On New Year’s eve, we are off to India with big dreams. The world is beautiful and, with a new year ahead full of promise, we feel blessed for this opportunity to see it.


September 4th 2007
And…they’re off!

Posted under U.S.

First stop: Boston!  We were ecstatic about seeing Mark and meeting Meredith and Boston/Rhode Island has turned out to be an appropriate first step in our adventure: a full immersion in American history and culture. 

“Waterfire” (a Providence summer tradition):  We walked from Meredith’s place into downtown Providence around 8:00pm and the narrow canal (a.k.a. Providence River) was lined with spectators, gazing at the burning log fires over the water.   Gondolas glided along the river and one gondola full of volunteers dedicatedly cruised from one end to the other, adding logs to all of the fires.  It was a beautiful community event – lots of families enjoying the outdoors.    We enjoyed an amazing dinner at Nuovo: cool, slippery, local oysters, braised beef spare ribs in a rich, succulent dark sauce, lobster…and a big, juicy Markham Merlot which complemented the meat perfectly.  Magnifique! 

Sunday was all about the boat.  Narraganset Bay is breathtakingly beautiful.  There is a shade of blue that is specific to the Atlantic Ocean: maritime blue, I’m calling it.  The feeling is not of surf boards and beach bums but rather of surly seamen and preppy argyle and plaid-donned Rhodies.  We spent a cloudless, breezy day wakeboarding, skiing, napping on the bow, and snacking on chilled watermelon and meatball sandwiches (compliments of Meredith’s mom).  We stopped for an early dinner in Newport at a favorite spot of Mer and Mark’s called Scales & Shells.  Lobster Fra Diablo was a gargantuan cast iron skilled filled with every variety of the freshest shellfish over pasta in a spicy marinara sauce.  Four of us shared a Fra Diablo for two, washed it down with tart, salty margaritas, and we all left fat and happy.

The next morning, Mer had to work so the three musketeers jumped on a 45-minute train ride to Boston.  Mark’s place is strategically located in the bustling South End, where he can justify not having a scrap of food in his fridge because everything you could possibly want is available right downstairs.  Humping our backpacks up the two steep flights of stairs to his top floor digs was equivalent to about 10 minutes of squats.  We are determined to lighten our packs!    Aaron was psyched to see a game at Fenway and we secured last-minute tickets outside the stadium after some intense negotiations.  Our efforts were rewarded as we enjoyed a great night at the ballpark.  Fenway is a relatively small stadium so it has a kind of hometown feel.  We aren’t huge Red Sox fans or even huge baseball fans in general but, for those few hours, we felt like Bostonians cheering on our home team. 

The Boston Duck Tour: For a mere $27 per person, you can spend an hour and a half of your life riding around Boston in an amphibious vehicle (the Duck) that drives like a car but also drives right into the water like a boat.  There are no windows and plenty of opportunities to “quack” in unison at everyone around town. 

We celebrated our third wedding anniversary today with dinner in the North End, famous for it’s Italian cuisine.  Fate lead us to a little place called Bacco, where we feasted and drank too much red wine.   After a quick night cap at the Oak Room, we are back at Mark’s place.  And tomorrow…Paris!


August 10th 2007
Preparing to Leave

Posted under U.S.

Our house finally sold after more than 100 days on the market! In North Texas we were told that houses sit on the market for an average of 65+ days, but that doesn’t make waiting any easier. The suspense nearly killed us.

On March 17th, 2007 we made it official. We would quit our jobs and travel the world. Such a ludicrous idea was certainly not without much deliberation. We are both very passionate about travel and this was an idea which we’ve talked about since we first started dating. This time Tina brought up the subject. I don’t know why it was different this time…why we actually decided to turn our dream into reality. Maybe it was because we realized that there’s no time like now to do such an extraordinary thing…before we have children and settle down in suburbia with a picture-perfect life (again!). Or maybe we just need a break from “Corporate America” to do something different. Whatever the reason, I don’t think we’ll ever regret it.

Since we made that fateful decision I spent the next two months obsessively planning the details of our impending epic adventure (certainly driving Tina crazy in the process). After losing some of the initial enthusiasm as we waited for our house to sell, we’re back to frantically planning.  We are so excited!  This is all we think about anymore. How can we think about anything else? This is easily the most courageous, exhilarating, expansive thing that either of us has ever considered.

We finalized almost all of the “big stuff” and a lot of the details. The house is sold, most of our earthly belongings were sold and what remained is now in an 10’x18′ climate-controlled storage unit. Travel insurance is purchased, initial plane tickets booked, “rough” itinerary prepared, and we’ve resigned from our jobs (although I will continue working through the end of August).  Our wonderful dog Lena, is going to stay with grandma in Phoenix for a while.  We leave next week to drop her off…ugggghhhh. The good news is that with each day that passes we are able to continue saving more money, spend time with good friends, and look forward to the epic adventure ahead.