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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Seattle Heartbeat

Seattle is an amazing city, one I could find myself living in if it didn't want to be closer to my blood family, and a great way to celebrate the dirty 30th, even though I was in probably in the cleanest, greenest city in the U.S. Purdue family members were my hosts. Chris, Tracy, and there 1 year old son Harrison showed me the sites and some great places to eat.

It started of with build your own challah French toast at Portage Point Cafe. Then we headed over to check the local salmon run where the fresh water meets salt water. Relaxing and wandering around the Seattle Center came next, where I got some photos that I am pretty proud of. We finished the day at the Red Mill, which will probably be my last good burger until I'm back in the States.

The next day Tracy and Harrison took me on a tour of the city. I saw a troll under a bridge, an old water treatment center with geese hanging around, the home of the crappy University of Washington Huskies (Boiler Up), and my favorite the U.S.'s first open air market Pikes Place Market. There all my senses were on overdrive. The fresh flowers wafted through the cool air like spring instead of a perfume counter that I can't get away faster from, white plums, plumagrantes, chocolate pasta, and a large fish cemeteries lined the walls, the sound of buskers and merchants selling there wares filled the misty air, and was topped off with a smoky grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup from Beechers.

There I got a random birthday present when I recognized Fran Krantz who played Topher Brink the hot but quirky genius of the sic-fi tv show Dollhouse. He was kind enough let me chat him up, and relish in the fact I met my first famous person while they were hanging out and not on the job. Now only if I would have been "that person" and asked for a photo. Oh well, Tracy's and my memory will have to suffice. That night Chris and his Seattle friends took Sara and I out for our birthday, where we had a drink at a place with a dirty peep hole, followed by wood fired pizza, and a couple of tasty pitchers of ale.

Have to say my 30th birthday in Seattle will be one I never forget, thanks to the Habrels and my amazing journey.

Friday, July 29, 2011

10 Questions for Tracy in Seattle

1. How long have you lived in Seattle? 5 years

2. Three places to bring a guest? Pikes Place market- it is unique to the city and free, Kerry park same view of the space needle and a lot more, and a ferry ride to an island

3. Best place to get a burger? The Red Mill

4. Food Seattle is know for? Coffee, seafood, coffee, gooey duck, coffee

5. Favorite place to hang out? My couch

6. Place you wish to visit? Spain, to see the culture and the countryside...when I studied abroad the family I stayed with said I could stay in there villa, the pictures were gorgeous.

7. Best thing about Seattle? Open minded society, good mix out the outdoors and urban life in a small radius, laid-back, healthy, and clean - basically a good place to raise a family

8. Worst thing about Seattle? Away from family and free babysitting

9. What do people my age do for fun? Underdogs co-ed sports club followed by a local brew.

10. What question should I ask my next guest from Japan? What does Japan women's team winning the FIFA world cup mean to you and your country?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

New journey begins!

My bags are packed to the max as you can see by the picture and one of my dreams is becoming a reality. It seems like I have been preparing for this journey for years, starting with my first mission trip, having Stephie teach me the ropes in Europe, Jill's stories of peace corps, Erin and Juan allowing me to be more than just a tourist in a foreign county, to my trips at the AIDs home in Tijuana, and the patience and support of my friends and parents. Anyone who truly knows me realizes I'm tearing up as I write this, I'm so grateful for all of you making this possible. For when you told me i was brave and courageous know that it is only because you showed me the way. As I sit on the plane trying to type on an I-pad, I am scared shitless just as much as I am excited. Cheers to the people I will reconnect with, the ones I will meet and the ones I will never see again who will always be in my heart.

As a drunk girl once said at her going away party, I love you all and thank you all!

With a special shout out to the rents who gave me the wings to fly, because you got just that!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Bit of Inspiration

The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World

"You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to. You can do good things for yourself and make the world a better place at the same time."  - Chris Guillebeau, The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World

“All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.” – Samuel Johnson

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” – Maya Angelou

Shopping for Flights = Not so much fun.

Ideally, I wanted to be able to head over from SE Asia and see where the wind took me.  If I liked a place I would stay there until I felt like moving on, or if a great opportunity took me someplace else I could pack up and go.   Two things didn’t allow this to happen, my budget and volunteering.  For flights I budgeted $6,000 with the hopes of it being closer to $4,000. 

When shopping for airline tickets to SE Asia and S America I because super confused, did I want and around the world ticket, a circle pass, a bunch of one way tickets or something else?   How much would each one cost?   How much would it cost to change a flight?  Basically what was the best option for me?  After numerous calls and searching websites, I decided to ask for help.  I called a travel agent.  Diane at Around the World Travel would be the lucky person trying to fit my needs with my budget. 

She told me I had two options, since RTW tickets didn’t fit my needs at all.  I could do one way tickets the whole way, which would give me the most flexibility, but they tend to be expensive.  When she ran the numbers they were almost double my flight budget.  The only option that was available for my budget was an airline broker, the downfall being all my flight would have to be picked ahead of time.  In the end I planned my SE Asia flights and timetable in two weeks.  The flights now fit my budget; I just hope the accommodations, fun, and food to do.  If not, and I have to leave any place early it will cost around $200 per segment to change.    

 Here is my finally itinerary:

SERVICE               DATE  FROM           TO             DEPART  ARRIVE

Y ECONOMY                   AIRCRAFT:      BOEING 737-700

                  WEDNESDAY SEATTLE TACOMA NARITA                 28JUL
Y ECONOMY                   AIRCRAFT:      BOEING 777-200/300

                   SATURDAY HANEDA         SUVARNABHUMI I
Y ECONOMY                   AIRCRAFT:      BOEING 767-300/300ER

NACIL AIR INDIA       03SEP BANGKOK        DELHI          
Y ECONOMY                   AIRCRAFT:      AIRBUS INDUSTRIE A321

Y ECONOMY                   AIRCRAFT:      AIRBUS INDUSTRIE A320-100/200

Y ECONOMY                   AIRCRAFT:      AIRBUS INDUSTRIE A320-100/200

NACIL AIR INDIA       06OCT DELHI          BANGKOK        
Y ECONOMY                   AIRCRAFT:      AIRBUS INDUSTRIE A321

Y ECONOMY                   AIRCRAFT:      AIRBUS INDUSTRIE A320-100/200

                    TUESDAY NGURAH RAI     HONG KONG INTL
Y ECONOMY                   AIRCRAFT:      BOEING 777-300

                  WEDNESDAY HONG KONG INTL INTL                   22NOV
Y ECONOMY                   AIRCRAFT:      BOEING 747-400

                  WEDNESDAY INTL           LINDBERG FLD
Y ECONOMY                   AIRCRAFT:      AIRBUS INDUSTRIE A319


As some of you may have noticed this itinerary is only for the SE Asia portion of my trip, the reason being I could not travel straight from SE Asia to S America, and therefore I would have to purchase separate tickets for the S America portion.  I have decided to wait on the 2nd portion to see where my budget and heart is in at October.

Lessons learned:

-If you are planning your first big trip a travel agent is great, but ask her what she did so you can do it on your own next time. 
-If your budget is tight, planned dates can be the cheapest way to go to the places you want.  

Friday, July 8, 2011

San Diego Wishes

When you leave a place there are always so many things you wished you would have done, and hope you do when you return.  Or even worse the places you that you crave while you are gone. 

Here are few of mine for San Diego and the surrounding area:

Of Course Real Mexican Food!
Adobada Street Tacos from Tacos El Gordo – in SD and TJ
Taco Bell #3 in Tijuana
Border Churros
California Burrito from Lolita’s
Salsa from Maurice’s Mexican Food on Adams Ave.
Nachos from La Salsa (I know it’s a chain but I haven’t found one in the Midwest)
TJ Hotdogs and Corn from Lucha Libre
Vegetarian Mexican from Pokez

Other Food
Senor Mangos - Fresh Smoothies
Bombay Coast in Claremont Square - Mango Masala from
Crazee Burger - Fries from (The burgers are better in WI though)
Kim’s Deli – Manhandler, Chargers, and Gourmet Tuna - they were cheap for being so loaded, I
love Jackie and some of my best memories were made at the tables outside
Sara, Linda, and Jill’s Cooking – they kept me healthy and made me try new types of food
Tropical Star - Empanadas, Plantains Sweet and Fried
Food TrucksMIHO being the best
Mexican Bakeries – Pan Dulce and Fresh Bread - Mariela’s Aunt’s in Tecate is the best!
Bronx Pizza – hot owner and the best NY pizza outside of NYC

Things to Do
All the Tastes Especially Taste of Hillcrest
Beer Tastings / Fests – A great place to find them is City Beat’s Beer Club
Watch Culture Shock perform especially the Hip Hop Show Case
“Free Shows” at Cricket Amipthearte – one of the great perks of my job
Walk the Beach – IB or La Jolla Shores
Sailing with Capt. Mike through Southwestern College
Wakeboarding with Wakeboard San Diego
Hanging out at the Martgomery’s
Spending the weekend at Tanks
Salsa Dancing at Venezuelan Parties
Tubing and camping at La Jolla Indian Reservation
Visiting La Casa Hogar Las Memorias in Colina La Morita, Tijuana, MX   
Water Station at the Rockin Roll Marathon

Things I Wanted to Do
Bonfire on the Beach
See more shows at the Hollywood Bowl
Makeout with a Celebrity …. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hello Unemployment, Goodbye BBBSofSDC

I can’t believe my last day of employment for 6 months, maybe a few more maybe a few less, has happened.  I believe the longest I have gone since I started at 15 ½ was three months and it was because I had knee surgery.   Not having an income and living off my savings / what people have generously giving me as going away and graduation gifts will be a new thing for me.  I just keep telling myself it will be worth it, and it will pay for itself in different ways. 

That being said I want to thank everyone who made my employment at Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego County so special, so much so that I hope to return to the States and work at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago.

It all began when I heard about my cousins having Bigs and how much this person meant to them and to my family.  This small seed lead me into being a Big Sister, joining the YPC, and applying for numerous positions I was not qualified for.  Finally a position that was a perfect fit for me opened up, I promised the HR director I would quit applying for everything and annoying her if she allowed me an interview.   She says it was just because I was qualified, but the story isn’t as fun without the other information.  I started in September 2007 to the best 1st month for any new employee.  My first week I participated in a Total Team Retreat as part of the “Bee” Team racing around San Diego, my second week I was helping to give a presentation on a cruise ship, and it was finished off with watching a Padres Game from a private box.  To my last month of pranks, including autocorrect, fun calendar reminders, my car being tagged with my “BBBS” mask, a recording breaking Golf Marathon thanks to Jimmy Langley, memorable and racy talks with the cube crew in front of Kim’s, to a final goodbye lunch at Chick-A-Fila. 

 I can only hope my next job brings as amazing people into my life.  Thanks gang!
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