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.
IMG_0357           IMG_0359
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!’
IMG_0387          IMG_0436
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!
IMG_0285              IMG_0307
IMG_0311               IMG_0339

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! 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lady of Liberty, Ellis Island and American meeting

I’m not very punctual.  I am sure my previous boss’s would attest to that; friends, family members, anyone who has ever needed to meet me would agree.  As usual, we were getting off to a rather late start to get to see everything we had hoped to see in New York City that day.  It turned out to work out okay because just before we were rushing off to catch the next train, I got an email from our Peace Corps placement officer.
Would we be available to leave in June instead of July?  We’d still both be teaching and in Africa…just one month earlier than planned. 
There were a lot of things to consider.  First of all, we’d planned our road trip to see friends and family BEFORE we go to Peace Corps.  We’d planned to see my sister graduate from her master’s program which has engulfed her life for the last two years and we are so proud of her.  We had a lot of awesome camping trips planned in the west.  When in June would we go?
But, we’d be foolish not to take it.  We’d only budgeted to July.  Everything you read about applying as a married couple to Peace Corps informs you that it takes anywhere from one year to fifteen months to get placed.  We could get placed in just 11 months if we take it and or if not, possibly have to wait nearly half a year for something else.  
We discussed it and responded to our placement officer…yes, we’re available to leave in June.  Then, much to my chagrin because I really wanted to wait for a response from our placement officer, we rushed out the door to catch our train.
The whole way to NYC, I was contemplating where could we be going?  How are we going to recalculate our trip?  Is this for real?  Are we going to beat out the odds and actually leave earlier than expected?  We took another 40 minute ferry to get to battery park.   It only took two minutes to buy our tickets to the statue of liberty, yet we had to wait in a large line to get on the ferry…like a two hour line.
Did you know that the Statue of Liberty is managed by the National Parks Service?  IIMG_0181 didn’t, but as a result we got to go inside the Lady of Liberty because we have a national parks pass.  Lucky us!  We saw the original crown which is held inside of the statue and got great views of New York City.  I was shocked at how impressive this icon actually was.  I’ve been all over the world, I’ve seen the pyramids, the ancient city of Angkor, century old temples and shrines, I really didn’t think that I would be impressed by the statue of liberty.  I was so wrong!  So many photos show her off in the distance and she looks sort of boring.  I kept telling Jon how truly impressive she was with her grandeur presence and her stone cold face that is supposed to somehow be welcoming immigrants.   
IMG_0188We took the ferry over to Ellis Island.  Jon’s mission was to find his family’s names etched on the walls behind the museum.  After much research and questioning the staff, we called Jon’s mom and found out how to locate them.  Finally, we could use the museum’s information to locate his mother, his aunt, and his grandparents.  It was pretty cool and such a reminder of how unique the United States truly is. 
We caught the last ferry back to battery park and hurried to meet an old friend of mine for dinner (late again!).  Corey is a friend who I studied abroad in Australia with, visited in Korea, and he visited me twice in Japan.  We met for the first time in the United States on this day….continent #3 for us.  I introduced Jon and Corey to each other and we enjoyed a great Korean buffet dinner.  It was supposed to be just dinner and some drinks, but we ended up having a great time and missed the last train.  We all bounced from bar to bar, including a bar that was as if we were back in the ADKs until we finally crashed at Corey’s beautiful apartment and slept for a few hours to get a train back into Long Island.
After a long, hung-over trip back to Erin’s…I opened my email and happily read that we had been invited to serve in Peace Corps and that our official acceptance with further information was coming in the mail!!!!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Empire State Building

We woke up “early” one morning to work on some Peace Corps paperwork and it took nearly half the day to get it done.  This left us with very little planning time to figure out NYC and the best way to see everything we wanted.  I
We got on the LIRR which took us from Erin’s city on Long Island to Penn Station.  If you’re at all familiar with the layout of NYC, you probably realize that the Empire State building is just blocks from Penn Station.  Did you know that the Lonely Planet USA book is about 1,215 pages long?  This was our guide to NYC.  Talk about New York natives looking ridiculously like tourists.  However, I am adamant about maps.  I feel completely empowered and safe when I have a map of an unfamiliar area to me.  Without one, I feel totally powerless.
We paid (very pricey!) and took the elevator to the 108th floor where the observationIMG_0096 deck allows for excellent views of all of New York City.  I was surprised that this particular deck did not scare me.  I hate heights.  When we were in the Space Needle in Seattle, I felt very uncomfortable at the viewing deck.  I don’t know if it’s true, but the Empire State Building felt higher for me, yet less scary.
Following our visit to the top of NYC, we walked down to Rockefeller Square and over to Times Square.  IMG_0135The sun started setting and it was cold.  Thankfully, it was time for me to meet Meghann, my old friend from Japan in St. Mark’s Place for some half off sushi.  Best sushi restaurant ever.  You  can get 4 sushi choices (that’s like 25 pieces of sushi) for $10.  Our bill came to around $22 for both us to eat tons of sushi including tax and tip.  It’s called Sushi Lounge and you definitely need to get it!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fire Island


Fire Island is very close to Erin’s apartment and we went to the only part accessible by car, Robert Moses State Park.  We were lucky because in just three short days, they were going to start charging to park there.  IMG_0068

The weather was extraordinarily nice for us.  After living through numerous cold and long winters in Plattsburgh, being outdoors in late March and not freezing was heavenly.  All of us went for a nice boardwalk walk.  The boardwalk was raised over sand surrounded by pine trees.  Our destination included a tall, red lighthouse.  During the summer, people can go inside. 

IMG_0077After viewing the beautiful lighthouse, we walked to the beach where it was incredibly windy.  Although it was cold and windy, it was so nice to be next to the ocean, hearing the waves crash onto the sand.

We left to enjoy a dinner prepared by Erin and saw a phenomenal sunset on our way home. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The City that never sleeps via LIRR

When Jon and I discussed how we wanted to travel, we had to compromise with Jon’s usually frugal ways and my attitude of we only live once.  In other words, I want to do everything and anything in the event that I never make it back somewhere.

A city like New York City is super difficult to do everything all at once, so we chose 4 things to add to our “bucket list”.  These are tourist things that we feel if you go to NYC, you have to do these things. 

1.  The Empire State building
2.  Go to the Statue of Liberty
3.  Ellis Island so Jon could find his mom and family’s names
4.  See friends

We were staying with my old college roommate, Erin, who lives on Long Island, so we definitely wanted to see places on Long Island as well.  There is a great state park only about fifteen minutes from Erin’s apartment and we immediately took advantage of the proximity.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Big Toshiba, baby Toshiba

Well folks, I’ve got some good  news and I’ve got some bad news.  The bad news is that my computer broke.  It was unusable except if it was plugged into the wall.  Sure, sure, I could have just bought a new battery.  However, the blue toshiba that was my “congratulations, you’ve received your bachelor’s degree” gift from my parents reached it’s ripe age of 5.  That’s pretty old for PC laptop years.

I was wavering…should I get an apple or just one of those little netbooks?  Peace Corps was supposed to make that decision for me.  I was not about to buy a super expensive apple computer and bring it to Africa at the risk it would be stolen.

The good news is...I haven’t written about it yet, but yes, it’s true, Jon and I have been officially accepted into Peace Corps!  So, we got a new toshiba, a netbook.  It’ll be going to Tanzania with us on June 15!

And so that also means I can actually blog more regularly.  I have a mini computer that has a cool feature called Windows Live Writer.  It lets me write my blog and then publish it when I get internet access!
I’m back folks!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Whistling Kettle

From Boston, we made a pit stop in Albany on our way down to New York city. Jon and I went to Albany for a short weekend to reminisce our undergraduate years. He went with an old college friend and I went to stay with my friend, Shelli.  We always had tea time when we lived next to eachother in the dorms.

I've been to Albany numerous time.  Although the Capital region has never been a place I call home, I still feel like I can get around pretty well like a local.  However, Shelli guided me to a elegant and unique place in Ballston Spa, just north of Albany.  

It's called the Whistling Kettle and I would definitely go again.  The menu is vast, it takes easily 5 minutes to determine what tea alone you want.  After selecting your desired tea, it takes a good 5 minutes to determine what type of meal you would like to order.  I went with the bowl of soup, quiche, and scones special.  You could alternate some of these options with salads or different types of quiche, or you can get tea bread.  This is supposed to be modeled after Great Britain's high tea experience.  I think that the Whistling Kettle is a hidden gem just south of the Adirondacks or just north of Albany.  I highly encourage anyone in this area to seek it out!

In addition to his great restaurant, Shelli and her husband brought us to Napoli Italian Bakery in Albany.  It was what a true bakery should be; delicious breads, sweets, desserts, you name it!  We bought some to bring with us to our next stop...Long Island!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Full Circles

Boston is a place for me where life comes full circle.  It's very similar to Plattsburgh in that essence. I altered the major course of my life by selecting Plattsburgh as my college of choice, met my future husband, left, came back and married him.  That's some pretty good closure when leaving an area you lived in for 7 + years.

Plattsburgh connected me to my international love.  I studied abroad in Australia and so Plattsburgh altered my life by giving me a desire to permanently continue exploring new lands.  So, I applied to JET.  I interviewed in Boston for JET.  What do you know, my interview went well and I spent two years in the beautiful land of Japan.

Jon and I went back to Boston to visit his sister and my friend, Ben.  When we arrived to Boston, our future was still uncertain.  Our worries were the same, will Peace Corps give us  more information?  Are we in or should I start looking at graduate schools?  Who knows?  But, everything reminded me of how my life ending up in Japan all began in Boston.

We arrived in the afternoon on Monday and relaxed with his sister.  On Tuesday, I was getting antsy about Peace Corps.  According to their website, they should at very least be reviewing our information.  I made a few phone calls and they told us they weren't going to review us until July.  However, we're supposed to leave in July!  I was shocked and upset that no one told us this new information and slightly panicky because we didn't budget for such a drastic change in departure dates.  Well, life goes on and we all went to see a Boston Bruins game.  Hockey is the only sport that I will ever consider watching on TV and by far the only sport I thoroughly enjoy in a large arena.  Although I am a Sabres fan by hometown preference, I was excited to experience being in the cheap seats for a Bruins game.  The crowd, in comparison to Montreal Canadiens fans were much tamer.  I attribute this to the fact that I could actually understand what was going on around me.  The Bruins won and it was great.

On Day 3 of our time in Boston, we walked the freedom trail. Full Circle: You see, I flew to Boston for an orientation 2 days before we departed for Japan.  After my orientation, I had done the freedom trail on my own.  All the historic landmarks, from the gravestones of very important founding fathers to buildings where people met to protest the British monarchy, to passing the Borders store which I bought my first Japanese dictionary from after I completed the freedom trail in 2006 left me with all the memories and excitement I felt before departing from Japan.  The only sad part of this time for was saying goodbye to Jon.  Full circle: here I am with Jon, waiting to hear more about my next international experience.  I went to Plattsburgh, experienced international, met Jon, experienced international, married Jon,....what's next? Waiting for full circle to happen in Boston.

Our favorite part of the freedom trail definitely included the bell in hand tavern, which is the oldest tavern in the USA.  That's us, drinking history more than reading it.  I certainly enjoyed following the red bricks and paint throughout Boston, but it would have been far more enjoyable above 35 degrees farenheit.  Over beers at the bell in hand, we decided on what our "story" would be when people asked what we are doing.   When we tell them what we're actually doing, we usually gets looks of confusion or disbelief.  I don't think it's a big deal, but most people can't relate.  So, anyways, I'm an aspiring travel writer finding material and Jon's my photographer.

We took the T to visit my college friend Ben.  Cambodian food was what was supposed to be on the menu, but the restaurant wasn't open yet.  Thankfully, Cambridge is full of great food and we decided on Japanese/Asian fusion.  We had dinner with Ben's friends where Jon and I got to practice our "aspiring travel writer/photographer" story.  It wasn't totally necessary because his friends understood where we were coming from quite well.  Ellie Goulding, a UK artist was in town and that was our plan for the evening.  To keep a long story short, I hear she was good, but only from Jon and Ben who explained it to me as I lay hungover on Ben's couch barely remembering anything.

Finally, we get back to Jon's sister's apartment and we sleep.  I wake up the next morning to Jon hovering over me with a large smile on his face.  He said, "Peace Corps has changed our status".  I didn't believe him at all.  But, it's true, they sent an email to let us know something is coming in the mail for us, our medical review is complete.

We quickly get ready for the day and go visit his sister at her school.  We tell her of this elusive email from Peace Corps which is confusing since they said we wouldn't be reviewed until July.  I'm convinced it must be bad news, why would they send a letter so quickly?

After singing the Banana Song I used to teach to my Japanese students to her 7 special education students, Jon and I headed back to his sister's place.  Email from Peace Corps.  A very positive email...we've been medically cleared!  We need to send updated resumes, but our health is fine.  You have to understand that this is the biggest hurdle to get over in Peace Corps!!!!

We're in Boston.  I interviewed for Japan here and now I am discovering that we're pretty much good to go for Peace Corps.  Still lots of stuff to do before we go, but they've nominated us because of our skill sets and personality and now we're medically okay to go.  We're like 80% of the way there!

We went to the Sam Adam's brewery.  Free beer in always a great way to celebrate!  The tour was nothing exciting, nothing more than 15 minutes and no new information that you wouldn't know if you've been to any other brewery.  I'd go for the free beer and glasses, but definitely not for a tour experience.  Dinner was at PF Chang's which was better than my expectations and finally, we ended at a comedy club.

When we arrived to Boston, I was still nervous about Peace Corps, nervous we'd made a mistake in cutting our security net.  When we left Boston, I was elated and confident that we've made the right decision.  Boston, I am confident somehow, through some energy makes it all come together...full circle for me.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pure Vermont Maple Syrup

As long as I can remember Vermont and what I knew about it, I always thought of snowboarding or skiing in mountains and hippies.  When I moved to Plattsburgh in 2002, I began to know Burlington as a reason for a nice ferry ride, great shopping on Church street, Ben and Jerry's ice cream, and better restaurants than what I could find in Plattsburgh.  
Now, I have friends living in Southern Vermont.  They are implants, which means they came from other parts of the USA.  Being excellent hosts though, we got to still experience the true VT experience: maple syrup and the beautiful rural landscape of this state.

Over the weekend, I learned how maple syrup is made.  On our way to the sugar shacks as they're called, it was impossible to not see any trees with buckets hanging off of them.  The kind man working in the shack showed me how he brings raw sap into a huge metal container and boils it.  Once most of it has evaporated out of the shack, they turn a little spicket and delicious maple syrup comes out, ready to eat.
I don't like Aunt Jemima or any of the other fake syrup products, however, pure maple syrup is so delicious.  And oddly enough, one of the sugar shacks had awesome alpacas to check out, too!

Monday, March 21, 2011

I had a lover's quarrel with the world

"What is that in the distance?", Jon asked after a sunny three hour drive of nothing exciting to write about.

"It looks like an obelisk" I responded.

"What's the point of it?" Jon thought outloud.

"Well, back in ancient Egypt, it had some sort of...", I began to explain, but Jon cut me off.

"No, why is it in the middle of Vermont?", Jon inquired.  Feeling stupid, I just responded, "Oh, I don't know"  I proceeded to get our Lonely Planet USA book out from our back seat.  I knew that this book would come in handy.

As it turns out, we were headed into Bennington, Vermont, a very beautiful Vermont town with lots of history.  This obelisk, in the middle of rolling hills and farmland turned out to be a battle monument.  For only $2, you can ride an elevator to the top to get 360 degree views of the beautiful landscape.  Unfortunate for us, they close it down until April.

On a positive note, the Lonely Planet USA book alerted me to the fact that we were only minutes away from the gravestone and resting place of famous poet, Robert Lee Frost!  We turned our car around and parked in front of the Old First Church and went for a walk in a very ancient graveyard.  All around us were gravestones dating back as old as the late 1700s!  Sure enough, we came across Robert Frost's gravestone stating, "I had a lover's quarrel with the world".

It was a beautiful, spring day that resulted in unexpected history of southern Vermont.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Officially on the road

So, I wanted this blog to be far more detailed that it is now.  This whole trip has gotten off to a very rocky start. First, I was suffering from the flu and ended up being stuck in bed for a week when I was supposed to be packing.  The flu bug didn't affect only me, but soon, Jon was sick, too.  Then, just as my health was returning, the whole Japanese earthquake/tsunami natural disaster occurred.  If you aren't aware, one of the worst struck areas was where I used to live.  This has left me unable to enjoy or really even acknowledge the fact I quit my job and will be living on the road.  I'm glued to the news, facebook, and email waiting desperately to hear from my friends.

A great account of what it's been like for me can be summed up here:


In other news, we're pretty much set to start the first 3 weeks of our adventure.  I'm hoping I can start feeling again, so that I can enjoy the time with my friends who aren't affected by this whole thing.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Montreal is the second largest French speaking city in the world. It's one of the initial attractions for people coming to Plattsburgh.  I remember going to Montreal at 18 to enjoy the great night life that can be found on Crescent Street and Peel Street.  As I've grown wiser (and older), I've found many other great benefits of the city.  I love food shopping in Chinatown and other great areas, finding adorable clothes on St. Catherine's Street or in their underground mall, and all of the cultural benefits of the city from extravagant churches, like Notre Dame to museums.  Jon and I went up last week to say goodbye to Montreal.  We went to see a great Sabres games where we won in a shoot out!  The next day we went to the Biodome which far exceeded our expectations.  They had exhibits from the tropics to the arctic where we could see monkeys to penguins!  And  most importantly, I got to have some Tim Horton's, the coffee that many Western New Yorkers refer to as crack coffee.  It was a great last visit to Montreal as we begin our life post-Plattsburgh.

Amazing Timmy Ho's

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A weekend in Long Lake, NY

Location:  The heart of the Adirondacks - Long Lake, NY
Our honorable hosts:  Brynn & Brian

I spent a good majority of my adult life in Plattsburgh, NY.  It's a conveniently located city which is central to many wonderful places. The lively, young, and French city of Montreal. The hip, trendy, and environmental city of Burlington, VT. And just north of the astounding Adirondack region.

My favorite of these three surrounding areas is most certainly the Adirondacks (ADK).  The Adirondacks consist of 6.1 million acres of private and state land.  Plattsburgh dwelling has really only allowed me to see the northern and eastern parts of the park.  Jon and I have hiked many, many, many mountains in that area.

Over the weekend, while visiting friends Brynn and Brian, we were afforded the opportunity to see a new part of the ADKs.  Long Lake is somewhat central to the whole park.  Jon and I went for a snow-shoeing extravaganza and to spend time with our friends before we embark on our journey.  In my eyes, post-resignation has already begun my journey and so I wanted to blog about it now.  We snow-shoed up Coney Mountain, which offered beautiful views for just a half minute.  We could see stunning mountain views until a strong wind brought us into a very blusterous cloud of snow and gray.  The whole group quickly descended.
Escaping down the mountain from the wind that was coming at us from other way!

After a fun-filled weekend, we drove through Saranac Lake and noticed crowds of people walking down the street.  We realized that we were driving through for their winter carnival!  Since 1898, every year, they build an ice palace.  It was an absolute must for us to park and go check out this castle.  It was pretty amazing having a huge ice structure bigger than a typical house right there.  You could go through and walk around inside of it.  They had an ice maze in the back and other mini ice sculptures.  It would have been better, if there weren't so many people, but it was a nice ending to our weekend.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

February 8 - a turning point in my life

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times; the national unemployment rate is  9% and on February 8, 2011, I resigned from my job.  This is either the best decision of my life or the worst decision of my life.  You see,  I don't even have a concrete plan in mind.  I just cut my safety net for the unknown. 

Jon and I applied for Peace Corps and we've been nominated to leave in July 2011.  The clincher is that it's not set in stone.  Something could still happen where we don't actually go.  We're probably not going to know much more than we do now until April.

So, why did I quit?  Well, in preparation for Peace Corps, in case we do go.  Jon and I are taking a huge road trip across the United States.  We want to say goodbye to all of our friends and family.  We need the time do that.  March 15 our lease is up and we are leaving Plattsburgh permanently.

What if we don't get into Peace Corps?  We have some back up plans, but no need to discuss that now.

So, from March 14 - July or so, we're homeless and living out of our car around the USA.  Check back for more.