More Cow Bell!

         And here we arrived. In beautiful Geneva, Switzerland. The locals we so friendly and our couchsurfing host, Jullianne, was incredible. She fed us and kept us occupied as we explored the city. This was my first experience with couchsurfing, and I couldn’t have had a better host. On the first morning, we ate at the bakery where Julianne worked (delicious apricot cheese danish and some fresh fresh squeezed orange juice… yum!), and then headed into explore the city. Luckily, we were staying in the countryside, so we had a nice little walk to the bus stop on which we met these lovely ladies…

 

Cows. Bells. Switzerland.

Cows. Bells. Switzerland.

 

The wine vineyards just behind Julianne's apartment in the countryside. We never got to try any, but rumor has it that it's wonderful.

The wine vineyards just behind Julianne's apartment in the countryside. We never got to try any, but rumor has it that it's wonderful.

         On the last night, we got to take a walk with Julianne and Athos (her little Yorkie dog named after one of the three musketeers) and saw a beautiful lightning storm rolling over the Swiss Alps.  The clock below was one of several dozen we saw in the city. Some were sun-dials, some were brick, stone, yellow, black, artsy, expensive…

The world famous flower garden clock in Geneva's city center. It took us three passes before we finally found it. Turns out, all we had to do was look for the Chinese people. The gathered there in clustered hundreds, camera and case in hand.

The world famous flower garden clock in Geneva's city center. It took us three passes before we finally found it. Turns out, all we had to do was look for the Chinese people. They gathered there in clustered hundreds, stealthily wielding cameras and making peace signs.

 


Chateau de Chillon

This is the Chateau de Chillon just outside of Montreux. Historians say that the beginnings of the castle date back 1,000 years, but it's prime was in the 1300s. Lord Byron made this famous in his poem "The Prisoner of Chillon."

 

Me and Mariah on the bridge that leads to nowhere... but is connected to Chateau de Chillon. It doesn't look perilous, but the water was cold, the bridge was narrow, and we all know that I am less than graceful.

Me and Mariah on the bridge that leads to nowhere... but is connected to Chateau de Chillon. It doesn't look perilous, but the water was cold, the bridge was narrow, and we all know that I am less than graceful.

 

A vista of the quaint little city of Montreux, Switzerland.

A vista of the quaint little city of Montreux, Switzerland.

 

 

This gem of a tree lined the streets of Geneva. This isn't photoshop... it really looked like this.

This gem of a tree lined the streets of Geneva. This isn't photoshop... it really looked like this.

 

A hidden square in the city walls. We only found it because someone opened a door and we were rubbernecking.

A hidden square in the city walls. We only found it because someone opened a door and we were rubbernecking.

 

A mob of Laotians outside of the United Nations protesting government hostility.

A mob of Laotians outside of the United Nations protesting government hostility.

 

 

These are the flags of Geneva, Switzerland, and the Borough in which Geneva is situated. The span across the Mont Blanc bridge.

These are the flags of Geneva, Switzerland, and the Borough in which Geneva is situated. They span across the Mont Blanc bridge.

 

A beautiful view of the Swiss Alps as we rode the train through the mountains, across switzerland, and into Italy.

A beautiful view of the Swiss Alps as we rode the train through the mountains, across switzerland, and into Italy.

         Sadly, we had to say goodbye to the idyllic, peaceful  country of Switzerland, the witty, playful sarcasm of Julianne, and began our venture into the land where time has no meaning: Italy. Let the adventures begin.

26 June 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Europe, Hiking/Backpacking, travel. Leave a comment.

Away We Go…

What do you do with money you’ve been saving since you knew what saving money was? How about a grand backpacking adventure through the great continent of Europe? Sure, we only made it to 4 countries (five, I guess, if you count Vatican City as separate from Rome, but really, who does that?), but for two weeks, 4 was more than enough.  Because Mariah was in Europe already from a study abrpad program, I flew into Marsaille, France, took a bus to Aix-en-provence and thus began the roommate adventure. Mariah met me at the bus stop and took me on a short tour around her rainy “hometown” before we headed to her host partent’s house. (That was an adventure in itself as I speak no French, they speak no English… and they don’t see that as a reason not to talk to me… Words such as “tea” were a grand obstacle.) 

One of the beautiful gardens in Aix.

One of the beautiful gardens in Aix.

The ceiling of a church dedicated to Paul Cezanne. The University of Aix bears his name as well due to the fact that he painted much of his works in Aix (including his most famous, "Mont Saint Victoire"-- pictured below).)

The ceiling of a church dedicated to Paul Cezanne. The University of Aix bears his name as well due to the fact that he painted much of his works in Aix (including his most famous, "Mont Saint Victoire"-- pictured below).

 

 

Paul Cezanne, "Mont Saint-Victoire, 1904-1906, Oil on Canvas, Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Paul Cezanne, "Mont Saint-Victoire, 1904-1906, Oil on Canvas, Philadelphia Museum of Art.

 

The open air markets in Aix. Believe it or not, the food was even better than it looks...

The open air markets in Aix. Believe it or not, the food was even better than it looks...

 

This is the famous Rotunda Fountain. A little research revealed that it was built in 1860 and three statues represent Justice, Fine Arts, Agriculture- the main activities of the city.

This is the famous Rotunda Fountain. A little research revealed that it was built in 1860 and three statues at the top of the fountain represent Justice, Fine Arts, and Agriculture- the main activities of the city.

 

This marks the end of the first round of Aix. We returned to gather Mariah’s suitcases on the way back to the States, but for now… it’s on to the beautiful Switzerland!

24 June 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Europe, Hiking/Backpacking, travel. 1 comment.

Reuniting with Alaska

   In late July (two days after Justin and Kendra’s wedding) I got the amazing opportunity to visit Alaska in her home state of… you guessed it… Alaska. One word to describe it: indescribable. Here are some pictures that speak for themselves:

We we able to kayak on this beautiful lake by Mariah's grandmother's house. It was cloudy pretty much the entire time I was in Palmer, but here, it really didn't matter.

We we able to kayak on this beautiful lake by Mariah's grandmother's house. It was cloudy pretty much the entire time I was in Palmer, but here, it really didn't matter.

This quaint little barn was on our way back from a biking excursion. I thought it epitomized the area quite well.

This quaint little barn was on our way back from a biking excursion. I thought it epitomized the area quite well.

Me being myself in a field of Flowers. Who new Alaska was so colorful? (The state that is... we already knew that about you, M :) )

Me being myself in a field of Flowers. Who new Alaska was so colorful? (The state that is… we already knew that about you, M 🙂 )
Picturesque :)

Picturesque 🙂

I just like this one.

I just like this one.

The baby Musk Oxen at the Musk Oxen farm, Palmer, Alaska.

The baby Musk Oxen at the Musk Oxen farm, Palmer, Alaska.
More Musk Oxen... Boxen... Goosen!

More Musk Oxen... Boxen... Goosen!

The Little Susitna River. Beauty in aquatic form.

The Little Susitna River. Beauty in aquatic form.

A distanced view of the Matanuska Glacier... This was as close as we got due to a slightly sketchy bridge.

A distanced view of the Matanuska Glacier... This was as close as we got due to a slightly sketchy bridge.

Levi (Mariah's brother) was kind enough to take me to Jim Creek for not one, but 2 midnight fishing trips (seriously... this is midnight). Fish count?  Zilch.

Levi (Mariah's brother) was kind enough to take me to Jim Creek for not one, but two midnight fishing trips (seriously... this is midnight). Fish count? Zilch.

Jim Creek at the twilight hour.

Jim Creek at the twilight hour.

The waterfall of Thunderbird Falls. We had to venture slightly off trail to get this shot. Good thing it was the perpetually wet summer and we were already soaked, so trudging through the water and mist was forgivable.

The waterfall of Thunderbird Falls. We had to venture slightly off trail to get this shot. Good thing it was the perpetually wet summer and we were already soaked, so trudging through the water and mist was forgivable.

These are Bluebell flowers (not to be confused with the fatal Blue Monk's Head). Alaska's elementary teacher used to bribe her students for bringing these flowers to school. Way to encourage destruction of wildlife. I kid, I kid, ;)

These are Bluebell flowers (not to be confused with the fatal Blue Monk’s Head). Alaska’s elementary teacher used to bribe her students for bringing these flowers to school. Way to encourage destruction of wildlife. I kid, I kid, 😉
We've made it to the top of The Butte!!! For the second time thanks to my uncanny ability to delete pictures from my camera. It was worth it though...

We've made it to the top of The Butte!!! For the second time thanks to my uncanny ability to delete pictures from my camera. It was worth it though...

Toto, I don't think we're in Colorado anymore. This is the view of Palmer, AK from the top. It amazes me how the mountains seems to just shoot up from the earth with no foothills.

Toto, I don't think we're in Colorado anymore. This is the view of Palmer, AK from the top. It amazes me how the mountains seems to just shoot up from the earth with no foothills.

And our virtual tour de Palmer ends with Summit Lake on the far side of Hatcher Pass. Too bad I won't be getting to go back anytime soon. Oh wait... :)

And our virtual tour de Palmer ends with Summit Lake on the far side of Hatcher Pass. Too bad I won't be getting to go back anytime soon. Oh wait... 🙂

22 February 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , . Alaska, Hiking/Backpacking, travel. Leave a comment.

Pura Vida!

Sorry I have been so neglectful of you, dear blog. I have been busy. No, not that busy. But busy enough that I neglected you. 

So here is Costa Rica. 2008. A few snipets of my family’s trip to the jungle/rainforest/cloud forest/…

As the Coast came into sight, the clouds dropped and the atmosphere made the most amazing show I've yet to see from an airplane.

As the Coast came into sight, the clouds dropped and the atmosphere made the most amazing shows I've yet to see from an airplane.

Only moments before the pouring sheets of rain began pelting our bodies relentlessly. Costa Rica in the Winter is less crowded, less hot/humid, less sunny, and more (much more) rainy. In the distance, you can see Lake Arenal

Only moments before the pouring sheets of rain began pelting our bodies relentlessly. Costa Rica in the Winter is less crowded, less hot/humid, less sunny, and more (much more) rainy. In the distance, you can see Lake Arenal.

 

Volcano Arenal

Vocano Arenal! The kid knows how to throw a tantrum... but thankfully, he has been safely venting only small amounts of lava for the past several years. We stayed only a few miles from him, but due to the overcast skies, this was the only day we were able to see him (and we were lucky for even this).

 

 

You can just make out Dad flying through the trees on the zip line. These were amazing. One line was 1.5 miles long, suspended a 1/2 mile from the ground. If you ever go to Costa Rica, you MUST try one of these!

You can just make out Dad flying through the trees on the zip line. These were amazing. One line was 1.5 miles long, suspended a 1/2 mile from the ground. If you ever go to Costa Rica, you MUST try one of these!

costa-rica-trip_08-06-2008

Kendra and her cockroach.

This was on one of the

This was on one of the "best" roads in Costa Rica. It only took 2.5 hours to go 22 km. I loved this little village though, the colors made me happy 🙂

 

A lovely sunset at the conclusion of the trip 'round the country (Flamingo Beach, C.R.)

A lovely sunset at the conclusion of the trip 'round the country (Flamingo Beach, C.R.)

31 January 2009. Tags: , , , , , . travel. Leave a comment.

The Prize Winning Stew

      The TV show The Simple Life epitomized the irony of being a fashionista in a field dotted with manure mines. It taught people a little bit about the golden farm lands and a lot about how people react to them.  And that brings us here. In this delightful little blog, I hope you laugh, cry (from laughter of course), and maybe learn a little bit about things that make the U.S. one spectacular place to live.

     I start this blog with a little bit about myself. If you would like the singles listing rundown I am a SWF, avg h/w, lv coffee, fam, frnds. LF… adventure. A more detailed look and you would find a simply complex farm girl from an awkward-sized city in southwest Missouri. That land of milk and manure taught me how to take the dirtiest bits of life and make them my honey. It also taught me how to be independent–which is why this blog has come to be in the first place.

      A lifelong lover of learning and nature, travel seemed to naturally fit into my interests. My first memory of such was a family vacation to California. In truth, that two week span should have cured my then infantile passion for good.   The first week we were locked out of our car on one of the coldest days of San Francisco’s summer. Doesn’t sound that bad? Add 30 mile per hour winds whipping you from the Pacific side, and you might understand the misery. Attire: shorts and T-shirts. Wait time: 2 hours. Location: a yacht club that had its nose far to high in the air to ever allow commoners into their pretentious lobby. 

      Just as unsettling was the jostle we received on the notorious freeways of L.A. Only minutes after leaving Dodger Stadium with bellies full of processed meats and cheeses, we were sleepily on our way back to our beds. CRASH! Oh God. There was a thick dark liquid all over me. Who was it? was it me? I felt my head. It was me. I had hit my head on my aunts soda can and was now dripping with… coke. We spent the night in the hospital to be sure my brother wasn’t suffering internal bleeding, and walked away from the debacle with a nothing more than a severe case of whiplash. This adventure into new territory–even though ripe with pain and distress–led me into many years of travel throughout the U.S. I have a slight feeling it also had something to do my sporadic choice to move all my belongings into the tiniest of dorm rooms in a town I had never even laid eyes on.         

      From road trips with friends to family vacations (otherwise known as forced family bonding) I have come to realize what a diverse place America is.  I hope that some of these observations I’ve collected en route help you to catch a glimpse of the beautiful places we each call home.  America, after all, is the greatest cultural melting pot in history. My joy is in finding the ingredients that make it.

15 February 2008. Tags: , , , , . Intro, Social Commentary. 1 comment.