Monday, September 29, 2014

Road Trip 2014

Here's the lowdown from the road trip..

Miles: 12,500
Oil Change:  4
States we drove through: 27
People we stayed with: 29

Here's all the great people who hosted us along the way 
(in no particular order):

Matthew's house. We met Matthew when we were teaching English in South Korea.  We would get together and play Ukulele and sing songs to the wee hours of the morning.  It was a delight to get to do that again with Matthew. 
Matthew and his girlfriend Ashley were excellent hosts for us Memphis.  Aside from hosting us at his house, Matthew treated us to a delicious dinner at Iris and then for a night at the theater as well as great recommendations all through Memphis. 

The Kolkobreks (AKA The Birds) hosted us in North Carolina.  We met them hiking the Appalachian trail back in 2012 and hiked 100s of miles leapfrogging with them.   They took us out boating and toured us around their town. It was so glorious to see them again and have more adventures.  

The southern branch of the Lyon family were a much anticipated stop on our cross country journey.  With nieces and nephews growing so much so quick it's hard to be away from them for more than a year.   We had a great time visiting, watching Cake Boss, roller skating and arcading!  (P.S. the girl in the pink shorts is a neighbor, but a charming one). 

Aunt Kathy and Aunt Anne live in Philadelphia so it was only right for us to have a Philly cheese steak followed by Rita's Water Ice.   They were generous about making time in their schedule for our last minute request for a visit. We could only visit for a night but it was so wonderful to catch up and renew ties.  

The Burkharts live in Helena, MT. We met them in South Korea and hadn't seen them since we parted ways in February 2012.   They were generous hosts who toured us all around their beloved state and Amanda was such a good sport about being our DD for all the breweries we just had to sample. 

They get two photos becuase they tolerated us for a full month with an invitation to stay through the fall.  It was hard to leave them. So hard that you might see their faces pop up again. 

We met Sherry when we showed up at her house.  An Antarctica friend connected us and we stopped in Missoula to meet her and stay the night.  She is a generous and fun host. She took us out to dinner and touring around Missoula.  She even drove out to bring us our coffee after we had left it at her house!  What a delightful person and we are happy to have made her acquaintance.

Laura Holloway is Amanda Burkharts cousin (I told you those two would pop up again).  She generously offered to host us along with Amanda and Tom when we were out in Seattle.  We are so happy she did. Laura and her daughter Maddy are so charming and we had a great time getting to know them and sharing stories with them. 

Trevor is an Antarctica friend who not only hosted us in Seattle, but he did so after arriving back in the US from Guatemala 4 days prior, going to a teacher training and then getting to Seattle the night before we met up with him for a fun-filled day of wedding anniversary touring.  He was crucial in planning our outings and we are so thankful he was around to visit with us.  We'll miss him this year on the ice. 

The McConnell's are also friends from Korea but we met them, oddly enough, on vacation in Thailand.   Kelly is a rock climber so he patiently took us rock climbing and both Kristin's parents were there so by the end of our trip we felt like we knew each other quite well.  Turns out they were also teaching in Seoul so we kept in touch there and were finally able to reunite in the US.

Greg and Annette are friends from when I travelled with the Circus.  The last time I had seen them was on my last road trip, 12 years ago.  I was THRILLED that they were able to host and visit with us.   I was so thrilled with seeing them again that we extended out time with them another day so I could bask in their glory. 

Bill and Christi are also friends from the circus and it had also been 12 years since my last visit with them.  It was so neat to hear how the rumblings of plans I had heard about 12 years ago had come to fruition.   Christi is an official yoga teacher and has started her own practice and Bill had been sought after and hired for the Grammy's.  It was such a joy to reconnect with them and even though we were there during the week we were still able to have some fun out on the town. 

Catherine was a fellow pilgrim walking the Camino last year in 2013.  While we were walking, she talked about wanting to come to America again (she's German) and to do a Yoga Training.   And here she is!  Doing a yoga training in Venice Beach California. Talk about knowing what you want and going for it!  She's an inspiration and I can't wait to see what she does next!  

How we could have forgotten to take a group photo with these two lovely folks is beyond me.  I met Jamie Clark back in College and we lived together in a crazy house.  She ,since, has been on her own awesome travels and was one of 2 friends to visit us in South Korea.  Her boyfriend Alyx became our friend not only because of Jamie but because we met him on the Ice.  A great couple who let us take over their living room while we were getting stuff done in Denver.   I can't wait to be reunited with them. 

My Uncle Chuck and Aunt Kris were excellent hosts in Albuquerque, NM.  I had seen them both back at our wedding but hadn't been to visit them since that last road trip Oh-so-long ago.  It was great to see them again and they not only hosted us, fed us and let us use their hot tub. They toured us around NM, took us hiking, on bike rides and for meals at their favorite eateries.  Great times!  

Jamie's cousin Michelle was a great host in Oklahoma City.  Before we even got into her house she brought us back to harvest her beloved blackberries as she had been saving them for us to pick.   Her house is great and we went out hiking in the Wichita Mountains. Who knew OK had mountains?   We had a great visit with Michelle and I was super pumped to meet her in person as I'd only ever talked/skyped with her. 

 Keith, AKA Kernal Angus, hiked with us for a few hundred miles when we walked the AT.   He told us all about Burning Man and we told him all about Korea.  Burning Man sounds almost as unique.   We were so happy Keith was able to host us last minute in Atlanta and then he was so patient with us as we had totally forgotten about the time change and ended up there an hour late.  It was great to connect with him again.  

This was our last stop on our trip.  New Hampshire to visit Jamie's extended family. The northern branch of the Lyon Family.  As we are leaving for a year to go to Antarctica everyone came out to have dinner with us and say hello. 

No only did everyone come out to see us, but Jamie's cousin Jenn was visiting from Australia so it was a perfect excuse to have a Thanksgiving dinner.  They fried us a turkey!  It was succulent. 

Our first stop was to visit our friend Dave Whalen in Canada. Dave was one of our first friends in Korea.  He was Jamie's roommate during our orientation and taught us to "never trust a pastry", how to take a taxi cab and how to eat korean BBQ-some very important lessons. His parents and he were excellent hosts, cooking us a delicious dinner and then the next day Dave took us out for some traditional Canadian fare.  Poutine and Tim Hortons.  Nothing better! 

Erich is another one of our friends from Korea. He's in Detroit going to nursing school and soothing all the cranky customers at Home Depot.  He was great about hosting us for a night and even threw a little party!   It was heaven to reconnect with him and I hope our paths cross again soon.  

Chrissy and her husband Matt hosted us for some pre-fourth of July revelry in Madison WI. Since our visit, the Baby Bell that Chrissy is carrying around has since made her appearance and the charming couple have now become a family of three.   We had great fun with them and Matt chaperoned us on a hair-raisingly fun bikeride back through the crowds after the fireworks.  As always, it was great to see one of my oldest friends and I'm so excited for her and her family. 
Erin hosted us at her cabin in West Glacier. We met her in Antarctica where she works as a cook. And an excellent one. She didn't fail us this time around either.  She cooked us up some delicious food, followed by excellently curated Bloody Mary's the next morning, tours of Glacier and her infallible knowledge of the good food in the area. 

These are all the people who made time in their busy schedules to visit with us and give us lots of love:

Britt, our sweet suitemate in Antarctica, met us three times on this trip for revelry and fun.  First at Yellowstone, next in Glacier and lastly in San Fran.  We love Britt and were so happy that her schedule and plans happened to correspond with ours so many times. 

Rachel Miller-Howard: Travel Buddy and all-around great woman.  We met Rachel in Antarctica and then spent three weeks driving around New Zealand with her.  In fact, many times on our road trip across America we bemoaned not traveling with Rachel. We almost weren't able to see her but we both made some schedule changes and we met up for a night of camping in northwestern NM.  It was a glorious reunion filled with love, beer, coucous and olive oil. (our road trip dinner staples)

Lisa came out for a last minute invite for lunch. Literally I messaged her saying I was in her neighborhood and the next I knew, she was walking through the door of the coffee shop.  We had a great time reconnecting and catching up before we get to hang out with her again in Antarctica. 

Remember how Dave was Jamie's roommate during Korean Orientation?  Chrissy was mine.  She was the other of our 2 first friends and she embarked on learning all about Korea with us.  She's currently teaching English in Mongolia so it was like winning the lottery to find out she was in the States and free to drive out to Detroit for a night of reminiscences. 

Eunjeong was Jamie's Korean teacher while we were living in Seoul. They moved to Washington DC for her husband to go to law school.  They'll be moving back in about a year so I'm happy we were able to see them before we left for Antarctica. They made us a delicious lunch and were a great audience for all of our Antarctica pictures.  We talk about going back to Korea in 2018 for the Olympics and we hope we'll be able to see them again there! 

Josephine lives out in San Jose and we coudn't go through without seeing this lovely lady!  We met Josephine in Korea as well.  She lived rather near to us so she'd be an enthusiastic participant in all of our parties and sometimes she'd just come and read quietly in our living room.  We miss having so many good friends so close! 
Joseph, another Ice Friend, was staying in Boulder and we were lucky enough to roll through when he was around for a visit.  He took us to the best breakfast place we'd ever been to and then brought us out for the Celestial Seasonings factory tour.   Awesome times and now Jamie is hanging with him again in Christchurch and soon Antarctica. 

My cousin Terry really showed us some love by hosting a last minute and impromptu BBQ for our trip through Texarkana, Arkansas.   If it hadn't been for her I wouldn't have been able to introduce Jamie to my cousins and it would have been a long time before I could see anyone again.  As it was, the last time I was there the youngest ones were toddlers and now they are young women!  It was great to see family. 
Josh worked as a baker in Antarctica and we became friends because we all had the same day off and we'd go adventuring together every Tuesday, lovingly known as "Super Tuesday". We saw Josh again in Denver and he invited us over and made us a delicious breakfast before we had to head out again. Even though our visit was short, it was so good to hang out with him again!
Aida is a friend from High School and until I messaged her about visiting I hadn't know that she was pregnant and had given birth.  We showed up and she had a tiny human hanging around!  WOW!  I'm so glad we were passing through and able to see her and her burgeoning family.  Next time I hope to see her, the baby AND her wife Natalia so I can coo and aw at how sweet they all look together. 

My dad was on a road trip the same time we were! As he was driving down the coast, we were heading up.  We decided to try and meet up and it worked out for him to visit and stay with us in Memphis for a day.  He made it in time for my Birthday dinner and then we spent the next day touring around together. It was great! 

There's those Burkharts again!  But this photo if for our friend Dan-sitting and thinking intently about his cards.  He lives up in Calgary but drove down so we could all have a camping trip together near Glacier.  We met Dan in Korea and hadn't seen him since so it was great to meet up with him and get to spend some time. 
We met these two through the Burkharts, Jake is Amanda's cousin and Jess is his girlfriend. They are both SO MUCH FUN and had offered to host us if we needed but  we didn't. Instead they took us out to dinner and then we were able to hang again at the Botanic Gardens to see the Chihuly exhibit.  Here they are marveling at the sculputres.

Laurens is our friend through our college friend, his girlfriend, Rachel.  He came out camping with us north of San Francisco and then invited us to his apartment near Haight/Ashbury to make us a traditional breakfast and fresh squeezed orange Juice.  We went hiking with Laurens last year in the Smokey Mountains but since then we hadn't been able to really chat. It was great to catch up. 

Matt Petrie, a friend from College, hosted us in Portland and took us out to an awesome restaurant and then the craziest Ice cream we had ever had.   He then took Jamie to his favorite BarCade. A bar/arcade. Jamie still talks about it! 

We are so thankful for this trip and the time we had to reconnect with friends and family. Thank you all for such a wonderful time. Our memories of this trip are indelible because of you.  We hope you all know how much we love and appreciate you. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hot Springs, Arkansas


I thought I'd take this time during this uneventful week to tell you about our trip through Hot Springs, Arkansas.  You may know Hot Springs as the "boyhood home of Bill Clinton" but it's also known as "The American Spa" and that's certainly a better reason to visit.    I know about Hot Springs because my fathers family is from Texarkana, a mere 2 hours south, and we used to stop there on the way back up to North.  My mother loves a good spa and she would bring us to take a "tub", this was my first introduction to, and perhaps the dawn of my love for,  the spa.

Hot Springs is one of the few National Parks that IS the town. The visitor center is right on Main Street on Bathhouse row in one of the former bathhouses, The Forsyth.   The walk along bathhouse row is quite charming with all these big old buildings that still have the grandeur of their turn-of-the-(20th)century style.   There are only two bathhouses still working.  The Quapaw spa has been redone in a modern way.  Large hot tubs that you can sit in to chat and relax.  Bathing suits required but if you pay for entrance you can come and go throughout the day.   While that sounded lovely, we wanted the traditional bath experience so we went over to the Buckstaff Bathhouse with it's blue and white awnings shading the rocking chairs on the porch.
Buckstaff Bathhouse 

We walked into the Buckstaff, paid our $35 and were herded off into our separate bathing areas.   I took the elevator up to the 2nd floor ladies area and was escorted into a changing room and told to call the attendant after I had taken off all my clothes.  She then came and wrapped me up in a towel and I went to sit in the "lounge" to wait my turn.

The changing area

Me in my little wrap-up. 
After about 30 minutes I was called in for my bath.  You get brought into a big room with little cubbies all along the side, cushioned lounge tables in the middle, steam boxes and sitz baths off to the left and a huge shower room at the end.    My attendant, Sara, brought me into my private tub room and settled me into the MASSIVE tub.

She turned the jets on for me gave me 2 little cups of hot mineral water and left me to soak  for 20 minutes.   When she came back she gave me a superficial rub down with a loofah and then helped me out, wrapped me up in my sheet and walked me over to the steam box.  The steam box is exactly that. A metal box with a towel on the bench.  My head sticks out of the top and then she closed it all up and I sat in it for 3 minutes.

This is both the sitz bath and the steam box. 

Next she herded me over to the lounge tables where she wrapped me up in HOT towels and left me to lounge for I'm-not-sure how long because I fell asleep.  Next she woke me up, gave me some mineral water and then brought me to the sitz bath. Which is a funny little tub that just your but and lower back fit into.  I hung out there for another 10 minutes and then it was time for my cool down shower.    She brought me back to the shower room that had a gargantuan shower in it.   It had pipes surrounding you that spray cool water at you and I was given cold mineral water to drink.

Creepy looking shower.

And thus concluded our experience in the Buckstaff Hot Springs Mineral Water Bathhouse.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A weekend in New Hampshire


This is it. We're back in MA getting ready for Jamie to leave for Antarctica on September 24th. So soon!  This year we hope to stay for a full year meaning we won't be back in that States until at least October 2015.  With Jamie's departure coming up and the possibility of being gone for a year looming, we've been trying to visit everyone we can.

Our first visit was up in New Hampshire to see Jamie's extended family.  Bill, Jamie's dad, had the idea of having a Thanksgiving Dinner for us before we left so we cooked a turkey and roasted up some veggies for a big family dinner. Best part?  Beth, Jamie's cousin, has a deep fryer so we had deep-friend turkey!  I'd never had such a thing and it was delicious!   It was so perfect because the weather has truly turned to fall and we got out and did some fall events which made it even more like Thanksgiving.   We worked outside with Uncle Dave milling some wood, we fed the chickens and then went to pick apples and eat apple cider donuts.   All we needed was a corn maze!
Riding out to pick apples. 

MM. Gala are ripe! 

Maybe we ate more than we picked...but we needed to make sure that we liked the product. 

So many apples! 

Look how New England this is! There's even a quartet playing country music in the background. 

DONUTS!  The line was super long! 

We asked this boy how many pounds of vegetable shortening they go through in a day and he told us about 75 pounds. Then we asked him how much batter, about 350 pounds.  Then we paused to think about the ratio of batter to oil. 

But that's what made them so delicious! 

Uncle Dave walking out to make sure we haven't broken anything. 

FUN with saws! 

Maybe we'll help make something with the wood that he mills. 

Putting the turkey into the fryer. 12.5 pounds and it only took 50 minutes. 

Jamie and Grandpa, I really liked their color scheme. 

Bill, Jamie and Grammie.  I liked their color scheme too! 

Beth and Bill, waiting for the turkey. 

Fun in the kitchen! 


Group photo!  Starting from the left top row: Jamie, Uncle Dave, Aunt Sue, and Uncle Dave. Bottom row, Shannon, Bill, Grammie, Aunt Jane, Meme, Uncle Dave, Grampa, Cousin Beth

At the dinner table, starting on the right: Jamie, Grammie, Grampa, Aunt Jane, Uncle Dave, Uncle Bob, Shannon, Beth, Sue, Bill, Aunt Sue, Uncle Dave, Meme