Tuesday, May 31, 2011

5. Meet a random stranger on the road from Plattsburgh (current/past resident/alumni)

My personal goal number five was to meet a random stranger on the road from Plattsburgh.  I suppose this whole idea came from the fact that we met a man who lived in Plattsburgh back in 1971 on our honeymoon.  We indirectly achieved this goal in Sapphire, NC.  Jon and I spent over two weeks visiting NC.  We started in Asheville, took the blue ridge parkway to Raleigh, jutted over to Charlotte and went nearly full circle to Sapphire, NC located in Nantahala National Park.

Nantahala National Park was absolutely gorgeous.  Every which way you drive or turn, you have the opportunity to see a new waterfall.  We were staying with our grandparents in their timeshare.  Jon and I had spent all day driving from one waterfall to the next.  At the end of our day trip of waterfalls, we went to see one last one, the tallest (or debatable to be the second tallest) east of the Mississippi River.

When we got back to my grandparent's, my grandpa informed me that he had met a man who graduated from Plattsburgh in 1951!  We searched for him while we kayaked the next day and when we were around the area having dinner.  We didn't see him, but I feel this goal was pretty much achieved through my grandpa.  :)

For photos of NC and the waterfalls, click on the volume 3 photos to the right!

Monday, May 30, 2011

7. Make one new friend that we keep in touch with after our trip

The title of this blog is what I am going to write about today.  After our cruise, Jon and I stayed with an old family friend for a few days .  They live in League City, Texas and graciously offered their home to us while we visited the area.  On one of our days, we visited the NASA Space Center.  They offered some really great exhibits, but the best part was a trolley tour around the center.  It brought you to a large building which demonstrates much of the space craft and robotics used to make it all happen.  The trolley stops at Rocket Park where you can walk right up to engines and large space shuttles.

The wait for this trolley was long.  Jon had on one of his old racing shirts.  Back in 2009 or 2010, Jon had run an uphill race up Whiteface Mountain.  The man behind us noticed Jon's shirt.  It sparked a conversation between Jon, myself and our new friend Bernie.  He shared absolutely amazing stories with us in line that we sat with him on the trolley.  The trolley ride take approximately one hour to get to the various buildings and meanwhile, we're  listening to the overhead story behind NASA.  During our breaks, Bernie told us he was a recovering crack addict and is an iron man athlete. When he went into crack rehabilitation, he got addicted to something new.  Iron Mans.  This incredible man is sponsored, travels all over the world to do the iron man, and was in Houston to do the Iron Man himself.  He's been clean for 11 years and he proposed to his wife after 3 years of being clean at t he end of one of his iron mans.  He fell to the ground after finished and proposed!

At the end of the trolley ride, unbeknown to us he bought us a "memory photo" of Jon and I on the trolley car.  We were so humbled and shocked.  It seems small but those photos cost $30!  Then,  Bernie gave us his email.  I thought Jon kept the paper, he thought I kept the paper.  Well, neither of us can find it.  So, Jon tried various emails that we thought it was and no response.  The good news is that I just found him on facebook.  I'm gonna friend Bernie.  Thus,  Jon achieves his 7th goal of "making one new friend that we keep in touch with after our trip!  Jon wants to do iron mans in the future and Bernie is a great resource and I am confident would love to help!

For pictures of the space center, please click on Vol. 2 photos to the right!    

Sunday, May 29, 2011


If you notice on the goal section of this blog, Jon and I had to cross out a lot of the goals.  Why?  Well, our trip was cut a month short due to our enrollment in Peace Corps.  But, we've made a few of the goals we planned and even met some of our expectations.

So, since I fell miserably behind on my blog.  I am going to write stories of how we met the goals or reached an expectation.  These stories won't necessarily be chronological.  But, it will give insight as to our trip in general!

Sorry that this didn't worry out how I had hoped.  It was too hard to write on the go.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Our second excursion from our boat was to Cozumel, an island off Mexico, in which Mexicans have jokingly claimed it’s not a part of Mexico due to the large amounts of tourist the island receives every day. 
Julie and Jimmy had separate plans for their day. Meanwhile, Jon and I had wanted to make both of our excursions to be related to Mayan history.  To keep this in line, we went to the San Gervasio Mayan Ruins located on Cozumel.  These ruins were barely impressive after having seen Chichen Itza the day before.  The one thing to keep in mind is that the site still hasn’t been fully excavated yet.  This means that we were only able to see part of what has been restored.  Our tour guide was excellent and she provided us with the most interesting parts of the ruins which made up for a lack of physical awe.
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Following the Mayan ruin tour, we were brought to a stunning beach, pleasantly remote and removed from the rest of the tourists.  It’s water was blue, so blue that you can nearly see right through it.  The sand was warm and soft and so pleasant.  We relaxed on the beach, reading books, and occasionally hopping into the warm water!’
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It was a quick excursion and before you know it, we are back on the boat.  We met backIMG_0245 up with Julie and Jimmy for lunch and to go on the waterslides that were available on the top deck of the boats.  There’s something about being the only adults partaking in an event that is super fun!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Chicken Pizza

or rather…Chichen Itza…the whole point of our cruise.   Julie and I really wanted to see these World Heritage site Mayan Ruins located in Mexico.  When I travel, I want to see old, historical, cultural things.  Chichen Itza seemed like a great place for us to go check out.  It was the first cruise excursion that we took.  We docked in Progreso, Mexico.  I can’t imagine any other reason to go to this port other than to see the ancient Mayan city.  It was pathetically touristy to the point that Jon couldn’t buy his sunglasses in pesos, they gave him a hard time for not having USD.  I’m sorry, but weren’t we in Mexico?  If I wanted to party with lots of Americans in hot weather, I’d have saved myself a lot of money and just have flown to Florida for spring break. 
Our tour guide named Carlos took us the 2 hours to get there and informed us about the most unique things about the Maya and Mexico.  Did you know the people that have Mayan blood still are born with a birth mark on their lower back of a bluish color?  Over time, this birth mark begins to fade and become smaller, but that is how Mexicans can determine if someone has Mayan blood in them. 
The Mayans were highly advanced for their time.  There are several theories of where they originated from.  Some believe they are from Egypt, from the lost city of Atlantis, and most probably that they are from an Asian descent. 
Chichen Itza is only one, but possibly the most famous of all the lost civilizations of Maya.  We don’t know as much as we should about them because when Catholics first came into contact with them, they burned most of their documents.  It’s such a tragedy when you really think about it.
The most important archaeological site of the Maya civilization, it covers more than 3km squared.  It was established in early to mid-fifth century AD.  The most famous and important building there is the Pyramid of Kukulcan El Castillo (see bottom right picture).   Surrounding this pyramid are many other ruins including the thousand columns (see bottom left pic). 
I can’t really put into words how fascinating Chichen Itza truly is, so I’m just going to post pictures below so you can get an idea.  By the way, links to all of the pictures of our roadtrip so far are in the right hand column.  If you want to see more, check them out there!
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Monday, April 25, 2011


An old family friend of mine lives in Houston and invited us to come stay before or after our cruise.  Jayne was key to making our cruise and trip go so smoothly.  She picked us up from the airport and brought us to our ship the next day.  Julie and Jimmy stayed at her house even though they arrived in the middle of the night.
We got to the embarkation process at exactly 12:30.  This was not only my first cruise experience, but Jon’s as well.  It took us nearly an hour to get through the airport-like security process and to obtain our “magic card”…the card that gets us into our room and all the drinks we could ever want.
Our first day out on sea was relaxing and sunny.  Although I wasn’t entirely sure how I would like a cruise…and even though I’d been unemployed for nearly 3 weeks at this point, the relaxation was so needed.  My mind had been overwhelmed with Japan and IMG_0345my friends, Peace Corps, and our future.  I was actually able to let it all go on the Carnival Ecstasy…and I was shocked.
We drank out on the adult deck and basked in the sun for hours.  The sun was something that none of us had seen for nearly five months now.  Of course I slathered my Polish/Irish pale skin with as much sunscreen as possible.  I read a book that I had started in Seattle in February, drank Coors Lights by the bucketful, and gazed out into the ocean.   IMG_0234We celebrated our first night out at sea with several more drinks and checking out the bars that the cruise boat had to offer!  The night ended with Jon getting everyone some pizza and headed into the cheapest room available on board…the bottom floor room with no view!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The suspense!

We are invited!!!…and in great Peace Corps fashion they won’t tell us anything further.  But, how could I complain!?  Our dreams came true.  When I started this blog, we knew nothing and here we are leaving early!  When Erin and Justin came home from work, we shared our exciting news with them.  It was so nice to have people to celebrate with.  It was probably on this day that I realized how happy I was to have quit my job without much guarantee.  I love Erin, she is someone who I easily connect with from Plattsburgh, yet don’t have much opportunity to see.  Now that it was official that we are leaving for 27 months, I couldn’t be happier with my decision.  We got to see so many friends and family in only 2 weeks that I was unemployed.  If I hadn’t done this, I would probably not had a chance to see her.  I was so grateful that I am going to be seeing so many more of my friends & family.  It really helps me feel as if I will be leaving the USA on a very positive note.
The following morning, very early, Justin drove us to the train station.  It was April 1 and we were catching our flight to Houston, TX.  From Houston, we were taking a cruise to Mexico.  I initially planned this cruise with my other best friend Julie from Plattsburgh as a goodbye travel adventure together.  However, we thought it would be fun to include our partners.  So, I asked Jon if he would be interested.  He was, but couldn’t afford it, so I asked if he would like a cruise for his birthday.  Of course, he said yes!
Let me remind you it was April 1 – April Fool’s Day.  I called my mom and told her that we were going to Libya for Peace Corps as a joke and she bought it..until she realized it was a joke!  What I didn’t know, however, was that my mother-in-law really did receive our acceptance packet and that we were headed to Tanzania.
We found this out JUST as we were about to get on our cruise!