London Calling

“London calling, now don’t look to us/Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust” The Clash – London Calling

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A gate in front of Buckingham Palace ©andthreetogo.wordpress.com

Welcome to a 12-hour blitz tour of London. This is not a trip that was taken with children. No, in fact it was a brutal hike around the sights, over long walks, through the bitter cold (it was snowing even), and not an in depth affair. It involves diving into subway tunnels, catching subways, (did I mention long hikes?) and only stopping to catch a bite or a beer and continue on our way.

This was a scouting affair, perhaps for a longer ordeal, and I kept my eyes peeled for just how it may be once we are abroad as a family unit. But this was business, in fact on a business trip, with a coworker, and we were determined to cram the metropolis of London into a single day.

“Anarchy for the UK/It’s coming sometime and maybe” Sex Pistols – Anarchy in the UK

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The London Eye – ©andthreetogo.wordpress.com

I flew into England on a Tuesday, mid-day, and made my way to the hotel room. Jet lag wasn’t too bad, partially because I was able to sleep, and partially because I used No-Jet-Lag. No-Jet-Lag is a great homeopathic remedy that aids in digestion, discomfort, and the general feelings of being forced into an unfamiliar sleeping pattern. In addition my little daughter has a knack for keeping us awake at night and I was so exhausted on the flight I simply passed right out.

The rest of the week was uneventful, we were staying in the small town of Kettering, about an hour north of London, and it is primarily an industrial city. It has a spectacular, beautiful church, but not much else in the way of culture. So I was very anxious to have the weekend to explore London.

We had a car, and originally I was planning on hitting up London fairly frequently. But that was before the realization of working long days in a foreign country became my reality. Plus I heard that traffic is intense in the city, and I was fairly sketchy with the left hand driving.

Fortunately my coworker had taken the train to London before, and knew how to navigate, and purchase our tickets beforehand. We had to purchase tickets on the East Midlands train line, either first class or main cabin, and they ran about 95 Pounds for a two-way ticket. Of course that was off peak and during the week they run quite a bit more… around 120 quid.

“It looks like King’s Cross station. Except a lot cleaner and empty, and there are no trains as far as I can see.” Harry Potter

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Kings Cross Station – ©andthreetogo.wordpress.com

The train arrives into St. Pancras Station. It is a beautiful station, directly next to and attached by tunnel, walkway, and tube to the better-known Kings Cross Station. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to see the 9 ¾ platform, because it was a busy and rather confusing terminal. There are many signs and directions but it is an organized mess, and one that those in the know shuffle through in an almost magical way. The rest of us, the tourists, and there are many, simply stare in confusion at their guidebooks, wall-guides or shuffle up to the counter to ask for assistance.

The best advice I can give at this point is to make sure you have purchased an unlimited daily tube pass. Make sure it is for the 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 zones, which refer to the different areas of London that the tube travels along. These are of primary interest to tourists, as they go to the most popular areas and cover the most visited sites.

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The Tube. Go check out the site for details.

Once we alighted from the train we decided to step outside and take a look around. It was snowing. Being from California, the only time I like the snow is when I am  well prepared, and perhaps snowboarding. I do not like standing in skinny jeans, with a hoodie, and a thin pleather jacket as my only defense. Needless to say I was shivering in seconds and walking like a madman to our first destination.

We had heard the British Museum was fairly close to Kings Cross, so we decided to go there first. They had a display on ancient Egypt that both my coworker and I were keen to see. Normally I am not much of a museum traveller. I prefer to see what the country that I am in has to offer. Museums could be anywhere, and they have exhibits that could be seen everywhere. In my opinion the world is a living museum. I’ll save the dead civilizations for when I am somewhere less interesting… But this was an exception, a good starting point and, more importantly, out of the snow.

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British Museum. Outside/Inside. Awesome ceiling.  ©andthreetogo.wordpress.com

I have to say, a quick journey through the British Museum only touched upon the awesomeness it contained. I strongly advise a visit if you get the chance and are into that sort of thing. It has FREE admission and it is open from 10-5:30 weekdays, and until 8:30pm on Fridays. It is excellent for children; I saw many of them, in strollers, toddling along, and in their parent’s arms. Check out the website for the list of current activities.

We spent about an hour there, and then had the realization that to really explore and see all there is to see, we would have to have a dedicated day unto itself. So we rushed out, wanting to catch the rest of London before the day was through.

We made our way back to Kings Cross and headed toward London Bridge by way of the tube. We had heard rumor of a the Boroughs Market, which is a “farmers market” in the loosest sense of the word. If you have ever been to Portland for their weekend market, or any of the other great foodie/farmers/weekend markets you will know that there are great ones and good ones. After struggling through the crowded market, with a mulled wine in hand, and unable to purchase food past the crowded lines, we gave up. And rated this a sub-par market…

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You can’t see through the tourist’s heads… ©andthreetogo.wordpress.com

On our way out we went looking for food. Hoping to find a nice English pub with some delicious warm vittles to sate our appetites. Fortunately close by was a pub, with delicious pies, (I had a cilantro, chicken, sun dried tomato one), and it was in an old bank. Simply awesome, and they brewed their own beers, as many do… But unfortunately I simply can’t find the info of where we went.

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“Ring out, Market Bell, for the fruit of the earth!” Southwark Cathedral Blessing

The day was fast flying by; it takes a long time to see a lot. So we were anxious to continue. Since the Southwark Cathedral was on our way across London Bridge, we decided to step inside.

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I may be a man of faith, but I am not a religious man. By that, I am not usually interested or affected by the pomp and circumstance of organized religion. But I have to tell you, entering a cathedral, (though sneering at the “suggested” donation of two pounds. 4… if you wanted to take pictures) and hearing the chamber choir singing toward the vaulted ceiling, I was immediately struck to the core. Below my feet lay the dead saints, resting their bones in solitude, and around me was a building dedicated to God. I couldn’t help but be struck by the beauty and the grandeur, even while being aware of the cost of such a building. Both in money and the blood of the peasants who put forth their pennies to men who claimed to hold the key to heaven. Despite that, I was still blown away at the devotion of said believers and their fervent desire to please God. I was even a little choked up at the sounds and the vision of such a “holy” sight.

It was short lived and we made our way out of the building. Realizing that the day was once again passing quickly. We rushed across the bridge, confused by which one was in fact London Bridge, (hint: it’s the least assuming and ugliest), and hurried toward the more interesting tower bridge.

There is a walk that goes along the north side of the river, and is quite beautiful, even if cold in the middle of February. It winds between the different bridges and we eventually arrived around 4:30pm at the Tower of London.

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The Tower- Full of Ghosts – ©andthreetogo.wordpress.com

This was the sight I was unprepared for… Any pictures I post are poor representations, though I tried to capture it with my panorama feature of my iPhone. I had to leave my camera behind at home, as I had to carry too many technical items for work…

This historical sight will forever linger in my mind. The sight is far more than a tower, it is in fact a monumental castle, and one that has permanently altered and affected western history in ways that will be forever felt.

Staring at the walls, I couldn’t help but think of the sheer madness of America’s founding fathers. The fact that they could defy the crown, and the empire, and the history of their world… It simply must have been unthinkable. This castle, an image of the power that was controlling the world for hundreds of years, must have been even more formidable when it was a living, breathing thing.

We had even decided to spend the £20.90 to enter, and take the tour. However, buyers beware, the castle closes at 4:30pm. An unfortunate turn of events, and one that we were forced to face as we were simply too late to enter.

After a few turns around the castle, and staring in awe at the walls that hold haunted halls, we decided to carry on. A quick turn about tower bridge and we were on our way toward Buckingham Palace and Big Ben.

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Tower Bridge. Disneyland style crowds. ©andthreetogo.wordpress.com

Sadly, we encountered a frustrating turn of events: The circle line that runs to the St. James and Victoria stops was out of commission. This meant more walking, in the bitter cold, to a different line, further away.

I will save the reader the confusion of the journey, as it was a rare weekend in which we travelled. And usually the line that runs to these locations is convenient and easy. For parent’s with kids it is usually an easy jaunt. Even with strollers.

“Panic on the streets of London/Panic on the streets of Birmingham/I wonder to myself/Could life ever be sane again ?” The Smiths – Panic

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 Eventually we made it up the Victoria line to Green Park station. It was a beautiful walk through there, the quietest park in London, at least when it’s cold out, and we reached Buckingham Palace.

To be honest, I have no respect for royalty (American independence beat into my brain?) and I really found the palace underwhelming. The beefeaters, (those that guard the palace), were stoic, and the changing of the guard only happens ever other day at 11:30 am during off season. Good to know if you go out for that sort of thing.

It was dusk at this point and we realized we were close to Westminster Abbey, and the Houses of Parliament, where Big Ben resides.

We made our leisurely way past the signs for the Princess Di memorial walk, around St. James park and down toward the final sights of our trip.

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Westminster Abbey was phenomenal; I want to go back when I can go in, and with my ladies by my side. But the real treat was the final sight as night set in. As we turned the corner we could just see the glowing clock, lit up as it has been throughout history. And I honestly wondered if we would see Peter Pan, flying by with Tinkerbell, and straight on till morning….

“Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning. ” Peter Pan

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We lingered on, staring at Big Ben as the night ticked on. It was only with the chiming of the clock that we were startled out of our gaze. As we turned we could just see the Eye of London, the giant wheel that is London’s newest visual addition, and we remembered that we were indeed back in modern times.

We made our way back, somewhat tired and subdued, to Kings Cross station. I departed from my coworker and called up a local friend. The rest of the night was spent checking out Camden. It is London’s hip and yet run down side of town, but one that is great to experience… without the kids. Definitely not kid-friendly. But fun. Yes… fun…

That was my less than 24 hour tour. I have more notes I may add later but that is all for now. Feel free to ask any questions, and I will be glad to respond…

A Million Miles Away

A Million Miles Away
By Chad 

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“To travel is to live.” H.C. Anderson

There was a time when a man would leave his home, set out on the sea for months at a time, and leave loved ones waiting behind. He would shoulder his rucksack, pull his pea coat tight about him and stare longingly at the shore as it retreated from sight. If he were a family man there would be a lady watching him as he left, a handkerchief waving in the wind, and perhaps a baby at her hip. The last thing he would see before the fog closed in was the sight of his wife’s loving eyes, misting up with tears as she disappeared from view.
The world is very different today. There are many people still travelling, on business, away from family, and even more frequently. They even have to travel for extended periods of time, and over even greater distances. But thanks to the engineering and technological marvels of our time it doesn’t have to feel so distant.

Or so we are told.

The nice part of being told that I had to travel to England on business is that it was a free trip to somewhere I hadn’t been. It was an all expenses sojourn into the land of legend. I have read many a fine book that has been written in ye country of old, and I was semi-excited to take the journey.

Even though it was away from Jen and Zoë, for two weeks, and only a month before we plan to move abroad for good. And it was the middle of winter.

I am not a fan of the cold.

So it was that I set out from my darling ladies, feeling underprepared, both in mind and luggage, and traveled to the UK. I didn’t even bring a heavy coat, assuming that I would encounter similar weather to the bay area in almost March. (I was wrong, more on that later.)

Jenny drove me to the bus stop where I was to meet up with my coworker, and we said our goodbyes. Those are never easy, and I was reminded of how my mother says she will feel when we leave upon our bigger journey. It wasn’t easy. But I put on a good face, kissed her goodbye, and watched the car disappear from view as I boarded the shuttle. I was quickly distracted, or attempted to forget, the heaviness in my heart as I “manned up” and discussed the flight with my counterpart. He was also feeling the effects of the leaving, he has two kids and a wife, and we commiserated as men do: vaguely and with machismo.

The rest of the trip to Britain was uneventful. I plan to write a less sappy account of the journey and the trip once it is through. But in the meantime I have to say that leaving from the loved ones is harder than I even imagined it would be…

I have left before.

Sure, I have left on business before, for a few days or a week. To less interesting places, with far less to do… And I brought my utensils. Those gadgets that keep us connected. The iPad, iPhone, Macbook Pro… (I am an Apple sell out) and steady Wi-Fi is never far from where I roam. In fact I have been able to make video calls, almost every night, and see my darling daughter, and beautiful wife, in stunning hi-def detail. It does help, to see them, to hear them. My daughter even gives me virtual kisses to the camera. It is the cutest thing I have ever seen. But it’s never quite the same. It’s funny how distant yet close they can appear.

But it gets me through the journey.

Jenny has been busy. A steward of the houses affairs. She has been busy packing, sorting out the house, preparing the necessary details for our eventual departure. And here am I, sitting in a hotel room, eating a meal, and resting after a long day. But I am away. Not quite able to help. I do what I can, and try what I must, but at the end of it all Jenny is doing the heavy lifting. And this makes it even harder to be away.

Soon it will be different.

I am glad I am in my final stretch. The trip only has four more days left to go, and I am more than ready to return. I feel like this is a hold-up, a delay in our journey. But I am thankful to have a wife and daughter to have and to hold on the return. It makes my heart leap to think of holding them tight once again.

I can only imagine what those men and women felt, as they departed on long trips, into the bitter sea, and without the easy return. We are so fortunate to have it so much easier, even though it’s still hard. For even though it is difficult to leave, we are so very blessed, for in only a few short hours, much less than a day, we can return. I have always envied those early days of exploration and adventure. But to leave without a guarantee of return, must have been tragic. And I for one am thankful for the blessings of today.

“[It is] as [when] a man, sojourning in another country, having left his house, and given authority to his servants, to each one his work, commanded also the porter to watch.” Mark 13:34

Note: Review of a well-designed toiletry bag coming soon! Also stay tuned for a 24-hour guide to London!

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Lessons from Living

There are many things as first time parents that you learn as your child grows. There are a ton of promises and oaths you make while pregnant that you realize were unattainable or just down right silly. I have had to eat my words many times so far in the almost 20 months that Zoë has been on this earth.

While pregnant I vowed that I would not let having a child change me, that I would continue on as I had been, working, taking time for myself often, going out with friends, going out to eat (even in nicer places), shopping, whatever it may be, I would keep on doing it or going there. I quickly learned after giving birth to my 9 ½ pound munchkin that I could not continue to do all these things. Some of them I could do at certain periods of her life, others not, but certainly my life did change. For example, I have gotten up twenty or so times already while writing this blog to help Zoë because she wants more “boo” to finger paint with.

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Another thing that Chad and I vehemently opposed was letting our daughter watch any screens (tv, computer, iphones, etc) before she was two. We had read the studies, we knew that the flatscreen lcd, plasma, whatever screens were bad for the development of infants eyes. We were going to entertain our daughter ourselves, we didn’t need the TV to entertain our daughter. We lasted until she was about 6 months old. Chads parents took him to see Star Wars in the theater when he was 6 months old and, as the story goes, he sat and watched the whole thing. This was just the beginning of a life long addiction to all things Star Wars for him. Chad wanted to pass on this tradition to our daughter. So at 6 months old she was (indoctrinated) given the gift of Star Wars (whatever the first one is called, or is it considered the fourth? Anyways…). From there it was Baby Signing Times (she needed to learn sign language- our daughter needs to be multi-lingual!) and on and on. Now our 19 month old daughter is obsessed with Bambi and in all honesty while she was sick last week, I let her watch it numerous times a day. 

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I have eaten my words about many other things in parenthood so far and I know there will be many more, but I am so happy that we are still in the mind set that we can travel with our daughter. Some people seem aghast that we are taking our daughter on a trip to see the world (what about stability?), others think we are crazy for trying at her age (what about the terrible two’s?), others are excited for us and think that Zoë is blessed to see the world and different cultures. I try my best not to respond too pridefully, because one thing these last 19 months have taught me is that I don’t know anything. Only God knows for sure what our future holds and all I can do is trust that His way is the right way. I of course have ideas and thoughts on how traveling with a toddler will be. I can think that Chad and I will be awesome communicators and will never argue, I can even staunchly oppose putting Zoë on a child leash, but I have learned to not to actually assume these things will happen. Life has a very real way of teaching you humility.

So as we prepare to leave this place, I also a preparing my mind to learn the lessons I am given and not fight against them. I think that learning that will make this trip amazing more than anything else, no matter how many times I have to eat my words.

To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.  Psalm 25:1-2

(All Photos Taken by Jennifer)

 

What a Week!

Wow, what a week this has been! First of all, we had Zoë’s dedication last Sunday morning. I have wanted to have her dedicated at our church since we started attending regularly when she was 3 weeks old. Time flies by though and when Chad and I decided that we would definitely be traveling, one of the first things on my mind that I wanted to do before we left was have the ceremony to dedicate ourselves to raising Zoë in the Christian faith. For those of you that know me well, you know that I am not a person that enjoys or subscribes to anything that can be considered ceremonial (my dream wedding was going to the courthouse in jeans, a t-shirt, and converse all-stars). I have always felt that my faith is a personal relationship with God and that the pomp and circumstance of ceremonies are unnecessary. But I really felt that this was something I wanted to do, a public promise that we would be an example of faith in God for Zoë and pray that someday she too would believe for herself. We promised this in front of our family, our church family and our good friends. It was a great day!

Also on Sunday, we gave notice that our last day living in our home for the past three years will be March 31st. We have been truly blessed to have such a kind and responsible landlord. She is also a traveler and lives in Europe for most of the year and was very understanding.

The next day, 19 people from our church began having symptoms of the novo virus flu, as well as all the members of our family that attended, one of our friends and poor little Zoë. I have no idea how I came out unscathed, but I think God kept me healthy because I needed to take care of my very sick little girl. I have never seen such a horrible stomach flu. For four days and nights, Zoë was unable to keep anything down.  Luckily she didn’t become dehydrated and now is fully recovered. But boy, was I on the edge of my seat waiting to get sick too. I am so thankful that I was not affected.

Chad is leaving for a work trip to England (for two weeks) tomorrow and so we were in high gear starting on Friday, trying to decide where we are going to travel to. Yes, that’s right, we are leaving in 49 days and we had not decided where we were going yet. We hate to rush things obviously.  It’s just such a daunting decision, there are so many places, I had to keep telling myself that this will not be the last time we travel and the places that we don’t see this time around will still be there.

Our original plan was to go to Austin, Texas (in case we come back to the states, we might move here) and then Buenos Aires, Argentina. That was all we had until yesterday.

After what has seemed like hours and hours of discussion and research we finally have flights for the first leg of our trip! We are first heading to Disneyland (we have annual pass holders and this will be Zoë’s sixth time there, we are total disneyphiles), then to Austin, Texas and Miami, Florida. Then our international trip begins. We will be spending two weeks on the beautiful white sand beaches of Curacao, and then taking a 19 hour (4 stop!!!!) flight from there to Lisbon, Portugal! From there we are planning on seeing a bit more of Europe and then heading to Thailand and Taiwan.

Now that we have real plans set in motion, the real preparations can begin. I am going to be doing a bunch of packing and cleaning and paperwork for the next 49 days. The fun begins! I am so excited and feel so blessed that we have the opportunity to travel and experience different cultures, landscapes, and ofcourse, food! God is good!

I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me. Psalm 13:6

Coming Soon…

I just wanted to drop a quick note to say that I will be writing a post this weekend. Our house was attacked by the horrible and nasty novo virus. While I remained unscathed, I found it has been difficult to concentrate on anything creative while stinking of toddler vomit. Now everyone in the house is healthy again and I will be posting soon! Just an hint of what’s to come…we are booking flights today! Thanks for your patience with me!

Breaking Up is Hard To Do

There are certain things that must be given up when you decide to travel for an extended period of time. Some things you give up with ease, like cooking dinner every night (ok, some of you may hate to give up cooking, but not me!) or even reliably hot showers. Other things are much more difficult to give up, like amazing Mexican food from your favorite taqueria (yes, its true, almost everything I think about has to do with food).

I have just started one of the most difficult tasks to prepare myself for roughing it on the road. I had to break up with my hair. Yes, you read that correctly, I had to end the relationship I have with my hair, long-distance relationships almost never work and this one definitely won’t.

My hair has been a beautiful platinum blonde consistently for the last 4 years (thanks to the wonderful Missy Jean at Daredevils and Queens) and before that off and on for 4 years. I love having blonde hair, always the whiter the better. I always have had more fun as a blonde (Marilyn Monroe wasn’t wrong) and the blonde has come to be part of my identity, it’s me.

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It was a stressful day for me when I realized that I would not be able to take my blonde hair with me. I knew that I could not trust just anyone to bleach my hair as we made our way around the world, not even myself (although I am sure I would look great bald). This scary realization almost made me question our trip (I know it comes off as vain, but I really love my blonde hair!), can I really go back to my natural hair color? What is my natural hair color? I guess we will see.

After some (ok, lots) of self-talk, I decided that I should be excited for a change and now have started the process to letting my blonde hair go (have I told you how much I love it?). I decided though that if I am going to grow it out I am going to go a little crazy with it first.

Last year, for some fun I added a little bit of neon pink to my hair. Having a little color around my face, although I didn’t know it at the time, was a good preparation for what was to come.

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Then I tried blue. 

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Then I fell in love with purple. 

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All of these colors though just accentuated the brilliant white blonde that was the rest of my hair. I still wasn’t ready to lose the blonde totally, until this week. We have two months left in good ole’ Santa Rosa and I was ready to start the process of going back to my natural hair color. So this past Monday, I had Missy dye my hair completely. No more tip-toeing around. I am now the proud wearer of lavender hair

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Obviously I still haven’t come to terms with having to go back to drab light brown (or whatever it is now), so this was a fun and crazy in-between color. As our travels progress we all will get to see the way my hair grows out from the purple. It should be fun, so make sure to stay tuned!

It was a difficult break up for sure, but I may get back together with my blonde side when we settle somewhere. Until then I am a free woman, checking out what happens when I put away the bleach bottle. 

(Photos Taken by Chad, except for the last one, which I obviously took myself, would have made an awesome myspace photo, right?)

 

Yin Yang of Travel

Last week I wrote about the reasons that I love to travel and this week I want to write about the things that I could live without on our journey.

I have always considered myself a “realist”, which some people call negative or pessimistic. I protest this misunderstanding heavily. Being a realist is having a positive attitude that something may/will go wrong with every big plan. Think of it, have you ever been on a trip, or even gone through a single day, where everything went exactly as you planned? Thats right…my point is proven. So my realist attitude makes me prepare for the (extremely) possible craziness that will ensue at any given moment. It also helps me to remember that when plans don’t go as expected it’s not the end of the world. I have learned not to let the bad diminish the good, but I feel its important to be honest and say not everything is amazing while traveling. So here are the things that I find are the most trouble while traveling.

Bugs

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(Photo by Chad)

Here in Santa Rosa, we are blessed to have very few bugs that make me jump onto chairs or feel like my skin is crawling off. The occasional ants in the kitchen, or (non-poisonous) spiders that grow to be about the size of quarter, and even the rare sighting of a potato bug (also called a Jerusalem cricket) I can handle. I feel like this little city of ours is an oasis from most of the many legged critters that inhabit and terrify the rest of the world. I used to believe I was one tough cookie because I never felt scared of bugs. My pride was quickly dashed as Chad and I traveled through Thailand and the rest of southeast Asia and Taiwan. The cockroaches (that fly…EEEEEK!!) and spiders as big as my hand were enough to make me realize that I was a wimp when it comes to bugs. I remember one night in Koh Panang, Thailand walking into our bungalow bathroom and seeing a HUGE (about 8 inches long huge) centipede crawling in from the shower drain. I screamed like a little girl and most likely woke the whole island from a sound sleep. I realized that I do not like bugs, but bugs like me, well mainly vicious and annoying mosquitoes like to eat me. I would wake up most mornings looking like I had been in the heavy-weight boxing ring with Muhammad Ali because the mosquitoes would bite my face (over and over) and I would swell up so attractively. I think this time on my travels I may just walk around with a huge mosquito net around myself…or wait… maybe a bee keepers suit! Let them try to get me through that..HA!

Traveling Clothes

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Me in Thailand  in 2006. Don’t you just love the camouflage pants?

(Photo by Chad)

It is very popular with the backpacking crowd to travel with as little clothing as possible. Most people try to keep it to a few outfits, a couple pairs of shoes, and all the electronic gadgets you can carry. I accomplished this standard of packing last time. When Chad and I left for Southeast asia in 2006, I had packed one pair of jeans, 2 capri pants, 2 pairs of underwear, 3 pairs of socks, 4 t-shirts, one swimsuit, and one set of pj’s. I brought a pair of flip flops and a pair of converse all-stars. I figured that if I needed anything else, I could buy it along the way. Being my first time out of the country, I had absolutely no clue that they do not sell clothing for women that are 5’10” and larger than a size small (seriously their larges seemed like an american small) in Asia. And to even think about finding shoes my size…well, I wear size 11, their largest size is 8, maybe 8 ½. I got laughed out of many a shoe store for the next two years that we lived there. I was able to find a couple of basics at Costco once we lived in Taipei that were not very attractive, but at least were something new. I think I would physically throw up if I ever had to don one of those outfits again.

I will not be packing that way this time around. I have been buying skirts, dresses, leggings, jeans, tank tops, t-shirts, and sweaters that will roll up into tiny little balls. I like to look feminine and stylish and I mostly wear skirts and dresses anyways so I plan to take all my clothes with me on our travels. Yes, some things need to be tough and useful while traveling, but I refuse to give up my style this time around. As far as shoes go, those are the most important possessions I will be taking with me. I plan to somehow fit three pairs of boots, a pair of flats, a pair of flip-flops and my all-stars into my backpack. I will make it happen, even if I have to leave my hygiene products, besides nice shoes will cover up the smell of B.O. right?

Well, look at that, I have only two things I can really think of that make traveling a tiny bit less amazing! I feel like a total optimist right now! I am sure that I will think of some more things that can make our journey more realistic, but right now I am just going to bask in the glow of positivity.

What have you found hardest while traveling? Go ahead and leave a comment! And don’t worry, its not called negativity here, this is a realist zone.