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The first day of activities! We woke up to rain and the two activities on offer were either fishing in the afternoon or heading out early on the water to take a water taxi across the bay to Kachemak Bay State Park and go for a hike to a glacier. Fishing was really expensive and didn’t really appeal to me much anyway, so I went with the other half of our group on the hike. The water taxi didn’t end up being much cheaper at $80 RT (compared to $175 for fishing, I know that looks like a lot, but when it comes down to it, I essentially paid $80 for a 4 hour hike, meh).

Typical dock in Alaska (haha!)

Okay, okay, I’ll stop being bitter now. But when we set off, it was raining and we were wet and sort of miserable, not the best way to start off a vacation, but there was little we could do except make the best of it. So we did! We were let off on the shore in what looked like the start of the Hunger Games or some other murder mystery movie setting. The water taxi captain pointed us to the start of the trail and we were off. After a decent hike down the rock covered beach, we finally found the trail head and I stopped to sign the guest book and take a quick look through who had been here lately. There were bear sightings just the day before which already scared the shit out of me. I was probably one of the only ones in our group that had no urge to see a bear, especially when we were out in the wilderness with no safety net. Color me shitless!

Into the woods we go.

Anyway, I chatted with some of the group as we walked along in what looked like rain forest, in an effort to keep the bears away. We saw our first bear scat (poo) and thankfully it looked somewhat petrified, which made me feel better. We stopped once to take a break and have a snack under the canopy of trees which helped keep the rain out. We hiked on somewhat flat terrain until we finally got to Grewingk Glacier. I love glaciers and it was beautiful! The wind coming off the glacier and lake was freezing though and it didn’t help that we were wet. We found a sheltered place to eat lunch and leave our packs to have a wonder around the lake. We didn’t see a soul all day on the trail or at the lake, so we felt safe leaving our stuff unattended. Unfortunately, due to the rain, I was freezing and went back to the shelter and chatted until we decided to leave as we didn’t know how long it would take us to continue on and make it to the end of the trail in time for the taxi to pick us up.

Glaciers in Lake, Homer, Alaska

Glacier into Lake! My favorite!

The Saddle trail was a bit harder, but thankfully the rain pretty much stopped at this point but the downside is the bear scat started looking more and more fresh, until part of the group up ahead started shrieking that they saw a bear cub. I freaked the fuck out and ran as fast as I could past the group, not caring at all if they got eaten (my motto for the trip when people were acting stupid around bears, “I don’t care if you get eaten, that means more room in the van”) because if they saw a cub, that means the mother isn’t far behind. The next thing I knew, we were at the trail head, way ahead of schedule. I had one bar of service and a nearly dead phone but I called the water taxi to let them know we were at the end and to pick us up when they had a chance.

End of the trail.

We then crawled over a bunch of rocks to get to the beach where they told us they would pick us up in the morning. It was a good thing I called from the trail head because by the time we got to the beach, I checked my phone and I didn’t have any service. We waited for about 45 minutes and in that time, the tide started coming up really fast. I never really understood that saying before until then, but ohmigod, did the tide come up fast. Thankfully the taxi came before we were swallowed up and even though they were only allowed to take 5 people (there were 6 of us, so we took two going out), since the tide was coming up fast and it’s not like we were going to tell, the driver took us all back in one trip. My first experience with Alaska not caring about safety, another theme of this trip that I had never experienced in the US before.

Otter spotting on the trip back!

Of course, on our trip back, the sun came out, which was nice for sitting on the deck and we saw otters! I love otters! The taxi slowed down when we got near and it was so awesome. We got back to town and the fishing group wasn’t back yet, so the 6 of us just relaxed. I invested in a $1 shower (and stupidly didn’t wash my hair, will I ever learn my lesson when it comes to not knowing what is ahead?) and charged my phone in the shop and just sat at a table and enjoyed the view and wrote in my journal.

Now that we are done for the day, the sun comes out.

For dinner that night we had fish. Not my idea of the best time, but I talked the guide into making rice and dumped a whole ton of soy sauce on everything, mixed it together and scarfed it down. Not my most favorite meal. I didn’t realize until later that the fish didn’t sit well with me (didn’t go #2 for a few days and it really fucking hurt, sorry for the image) and in chatting with another tour mate and not going into details, we realized that the fish didn’t sit well with her either so a few days later when we were going to eat the rest, the two of us invested in one of those fully cooked chickens and that was delicious! But that was later. After dinner, some of the group went to the Salty Dog, the local bar. I went too, but when I was never served and was really tired anyway, I just went back to camp and sat around the fire for a bit before heading to bed. The hike wasn’t hard, but doing most of it in the rain, wore me out!

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Unlike the world outside the US’s lack of fascination with the Oscars and the Super Bowl (the latter I understand, but not the former), the Olympics are a world-wide event. Everyone everywhere cares.

Next stop…..London!

While I was completely out of the loop for the 2004 Olympic games in Athens (I was finishing up my summer in NYC, commuting 2 hours each way to work during the first week and then dealing with first week of school (and my last semester ever) issues the second week), I do remember the 2008 games in Beijing. I was living and working in Sydney, which was like beyond perfect. I was in a sports-mad country living with people that actually could give Americans a run for their money in many sports! I would have felt kind of depressed, kicking ass and taking names (the Aussies thought this saying was hilarious!!) if I was still living in New Zealand during the games. It was all around a very interesting experience.

Sydney Olympic Parade, Winners!

Everything pretty much took place in nearly the same time zone. There was very little recapping as Sydney is only 2 hours ahead of Beijing. AWESOME! But since a lot of the sports were set to American East Coast time, I remember there being issues with swimming as usually the main events take place at night, but so they could be broadcasted live to the east coast, somehow NBC struck a deal with the IOC to have them in the morning, so they could play live. Which meant they aired around lunchtime for us. Not the worst thing ever, as the job I was working had a TV in the lounge and it was on the entire day and people would gather for a few moments here and there to watch certain events.

Sydney Olympic Parade, not to shabby!

Also, being the minor huge media nerd I am, I remember Channel 7 (the station that covered the games back then) having reports on the US coverage. It’s like NBC was its own event! They talked about how much space NBC took up, how many employees they brought over and the security measures in place for NBC and only NBC. It’s something that obviously does not get covered in the US and very interesting to hear.

Sydney Olympic Parade, the most they won, still awesome!

It was weird watching events without Americans. I don’t think NBC has ever done that. And actually, back in 2008 the only event there were no Americans in was like girls handball or something. Something I did miss, was the montage packages. No one can put a spin on any story like the US. I missed that! I cheered for countries in the following order: US (it was nice to have some patriotic pride after a year and a half!), Australia and then New Zealand.

So very very London at the Sydney Olympic Parade.

A few weeks after the games ended, all the Australian Olympians went on a national tour of the country, doing parades in each state capital city where a variety showed up for each. Ohmigod, could you image if they had to do that in the US?! It would take like a year! Anyway, since by then I was unemployed, I went to the parade in Sydney. Super fun! I actually recognized some people I had seen on TV a few weeks prior up close in person and actually remembered their names! And funny enough, watching the games now, I am like, those names are still sounding familiar. Love it.

Libby Trickett of swimming fame.

Steve Hooker (hehe, that name!! That hair!!) of pole vault fame.

Moral: If given the chance, I would highly recommend watching The Olympics in a country other then your own (especially if you are from the US). You learn a lot and get another perspective of a worldwide event. Just another life experience that you can not get within your own borders.

Looking down George Street during the parade. Go Green and Gold!

Used: My lifetime.

Is it just me or do there seem to be a lot of posts out there lately regarding “how to take better pictures”? I feel like this trend comes and goes. Even though I took photo all my years in high school (as well as went to a hoity-toity photography program one summer vacation), I have never been one to concentrate and set up a shot. I can tell you I hate flash and when it comes to black and white, those are the only colors I want to see (I hate gray). Other than that, whatever my camera gives me, I am sure I’ll love. In fact, the crazier or unfocused or blury or whatever the picture, sometimes make it better because who knows what was happening to you when you took it? A gust of wind? A friendly laugh? Leaning over so far and the shot is still out of reach? I love it even more! The jest of it is, if I wanted postcard quality shots, I would just buy the postcard. And I do, especially if it’s of a place that I love. I’d must rather experience a place then spend time taking pictures.

One of my favorite “awful” picture of Sydney at night. It’s not going to get better then this!

So when I first arrived in Auckland, I had my new camera with me. I read the instruction manuel on how to use it and the pictures I took back in LA turned out fine. I snapped my heart out the first weekend in Auckland, doing loads of touristy things and when I finally had a moment to sit down and look at the pictures I noticed that they all looked really bright and washed out. I did not adjust my settings for lack of ozone layer, which New Zealand is known for! I adjusted my settings quickly and the rest of my pictures for the next 2 years turned out great.

My first shot of Rangitoto Island, Auckland, New Zealand

After I realized my error and changed my camera settings. Rangitoto Island, Auckland, New Zealand

When I went over to Australia to meet up with some friends, my friend had this HUGE camera she carried around with her in this huge heavy bag. We went to the Blue Mountains and she totally lagged it compared to the rest of the group because not only did she had to stop and take pictures of EVERYTHING but because of her camera, ever shot had to be set up in a professional manner and it took forever. Give me my point and shot any day.

Besides, as a perpetual solo traveler, a huge DSLR is highly impractical. First off, you can’t take pictures of yourself by holding it out in front of you. Talk about a set up! No thanks. Plus, I like knowing all the features on my camera and by the time I learned them all on a DSLR, it would be out of date. Forget it.

Take a picture of myself in Sydney, Australia. Not the greatest angle due to the sun, but different!

And actually, this is so unlike me to say but after playing around with my sisters iphone last year, I think when I need to get a new camera, I might actually consider getting that. Still not going to happen for at least two more years as my current camera is alive and clicking, but when I do, that is high on my consideration list.

Auckland is not really this light! Before I changed the settings.

Moral: Take whatever pictures you won’t, don’t care about anyone else. And talk about being a tourist! If you spend too much time setting up a shot, not only will you look like a tourist, but you’ll miss out on everything that is going on around you!

Okay, so *technically* I am not a backpacker. I don’t sleep in dorm rooms if I can help it. I don’t include alcohol in my daily meals or consider drinking late into the night with strangers fun. Heck, I don’t even travel with all my stuff in a “backpack”. When I left on my overseas adventure, I packed all my stuff into a huge duffel and a smaller duffel and used my beat up old Jansport backpack for carry on and day use (though I did pack a smaller purse for work and stuff). I do travel with a backpack, it’s just not used how most people use theirs.

My backpack, pockets and all

My Jansport has been with me forever. I remember exactly when I got it. Costco. New Jersey. August. 2001. My sister, mom and I were back east over the summer for a wedding when my backpack broke. My aunt, who lives in this HUGE house had never been to Costco before. My mom has a card, so we went, just so I could get a backpack. I didn’t love the bag. In fact, I sort of kind of hated it. It was nothing special with a vinyl bottom (I wanted leather) and had about 600 pockets. It was $20. I assumed I would get it, use it for the rest of the trip and maybe the school year and it would break and I would finally get the one I really wanted.

11 years later, I am still using the same bag. I sort of forgot my hate for it after a while. I used it for school and all my trips. It’s my go-to carry-on bag. All those pockets turned out to be a godsend. If a bottle of water spills in one pocket, the rest of the stuff in the other pockets are saved. There are so many pockets and it’s so deep, it’s easy to hide money and passports in there, especially when it’s packed full. No one is going to waste their time digging threw my mess to get to my stuff. There is so much room in it that I managed to jam a weekends worth of clothes in it when I went to Chicago last year and didn’t want to pay for carry on on Spirit. It fit comfortably under my seat.

All the tags from the travels. I try not to take them off, if I can help it! I love them all!

Looking back, I can’t believe it’s lasted this long. The zippers are still in fine working order and there are no holes, but the insides are starting to fray and jam up the zippers sometimes, but so far I have always managed to pull everything loose. I love all the pockets and secret places inside. And I love that I bought it at Costco in New Jersey, on my travels. This bag has lasted the longest I have ever, even after constant use. Here’s to another 11 years with the best backpack ever.

Moral: I was inspired to write this piece after all the backpack posts over at Her Packing List. Since I don’t travel with a traditional backpack, I thought I would write about my pack that is near and dear to my heart here. Do you have a bag that means that much to you?

Another winner from one of my current favorite authors. And now I have finished everything she has written at the moment. This book takes our protag to Rome. Girl is very straight laced and always looking out for her father and crazy sister before herself. Dad talks her into breaking out of the mold and going back to Italy, the only place she has spent more time in her younger days then home. She goes, but not without some hurdles, of course. Before she goes away, she goes out on a “perfect” date with a restaurant owner, but of course, he has a “mother in law” and “child” and she runs away before he can explain himself. LAME! Plus, on their date when she mentions how much they have in common, it is like so much, it is pretty unbelievable. Those were the two things I liked least in this book and luckily, they got that out of the way quickly. Stuff happens and Girl ends up staying with one of Dates friends while in Roma. She meets other Boy and while kind of pointless, you know they aren’t going to end up together in the end. Also, according to the Girl, everyone in Italy speaks in “rapid Italian” which got annoying after like the third time. That is like saying we speak in “rapid English”. So pointless.

I like Harmel’s books for the most part, in that they are very real. Real hurdles come up and she writes herself out of them very well, in my opinion. Of course, it is chick-lit, so it’s not totally real, but real enough for me in these books. And while Rome is again not a favorite city of mine, it’s always nice to step out of the traditional American mold.

I know I advocate “switching off” while traveling and totally look down on people who have their heads in their laptops and in their phones instead of the sights. Who cares where your next internet fix is coming from, enjoy the break! Open a BOOK, read an ad, watch some local tv. Who cares what is going on back home? Chances are they’ll survive without you.

But times, they are a’changing. And while if I ever ask if I should bring my netbook or laptop when I travel, feel free to shoot me in the foot, when I went to Peru, I brought my phone. Last September (2010) I finally upgraded to a Blackberry (even though I have been on AT&T, iPhones do not interest me at all for their lack of buttons and my fat fingers). I like it. It keeps me connected on the weekends just enough, but not all the time. I still forget and leave it at home half the time. And I don’t care. But when I went to Peru, I turned off the phone portion and used the internet when I had access to wifi. All the hostels and hostels I stayed at (except for the last one) had password protected wifi which I used eagerly. I would check my email, clean out my box, email my family updates and check twitter at night when I had the time. I left my phone in my room during the day because I had no use for it outside the wifi range.

And I hate to say, but I am now a convert. I loved being able to email my family every day updates on what I was up (none of us had ever been to South America before) and getting nice little notes from them in reply. On the few nights I couldn’t access anything, it wasn’t a big deal and I didn’t care that much, but I liked the little contact I did have. I had gotten lazy in the US with notes and directions because of my phone and I like to think that Peru reinstalled that “be prepared” attitude back in me because I left things in my room that I normally would be able to access on my phone, but couldn’t because I didn’t have internet. I remembered the good ‘ole days.

For the most part, for quick trips (and heck, even for long ones, but that is just me) I still say ditch the laptop. And still, don’t bring anything you don’t mind getting stolen or lost. If my phone had gotten stolen or lost, I wouldn’t have cared too much. Lots of people had Blackberries in Peru (but only tourists had iPhones) and I never waved it around in public and could easily hide it in the bottom of my suitcase or purse. I would still feel too exposed with a laptop.

ABC’s of Travel

Since I know no one is going to tag me and I like this meme, I decided to start the year off with it:

A: Age you went on your first international trip:
First time I left the country, we took a day trip to Tijuana from San Diego when I was 6. I got a wax candle shaped as a cat that I still have (ever summer I think it’s going to melt and it NEVER does!). We then drove to Vancouver for the day (sense a pattern here?) from Seattle and it was the worst drive ever. We also drove and spent a week in Toronto and Quebec a few years later.
But since I didn’t need a passport for any of these trips (all pre 9/11), I sort of don’t count them even though the first time I went to Vancouver, I couldn’t get over how awesome it was that everything was in English AND French! The first country I needed a passport for was a trip to Italy with the family in 1997. That was the big first international trip. I was 16. (But thankfully 15 when I got my butt ugly passport, so that only lasted 5 years!)

B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where:
I quite enjoyed Tui beer in New Zealand. But I like to drink whatever the “local” beer is where ever I am. I’ll give anything a shot!

C: Cuisine (favorite):
Italian. Italian in Itay is AWESOME! Though I do love a good ‘ole fashion Aussie BBQ or a meat pie. YUM!

Heaven from Harry de Wheels in Sydney, Australia

D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why:
No idea on favorite as while I like everywhere but there are few places I would return to, as there is so much more I want to see! Though when I am dead bored, you can always find me google’ing houses in Akaroa, New Zealand. I love that town.
Least favorite is easy. Rome, Italy. Granted it was our last stop after running around Northern Italy for 3+ weeks (as well as I had been away at an art program for 4 weeks before I left. I came home for one night and then Italy for 3 weeks) and I just wanted to get home already. I was so burned out. Usually I’ll give places another chance, especially as an adult, but I just don’t have the motive to give it another chance anytime soon. It’s still near the bottom of my list.

Heav- wait, Akaroa, New Zealand

E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:
The moment I first saw the Sydney Opera House FROM THE AIRPLANE!!! For me, such an iconic landmark that totally lived up to my expectations.

Can't get enough of this building!

F: Favorite mode of transportation:
Train or boat. I love the idea of a boat, though I get seasick easily (love ginger chews!) and I just love riding the rails. Or driving myself. But only if the roads are empty!

G: Greatest feeling while traveling:
The surprise of the unknown on the other end. Love the rush!

H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to:
Besides home? (Har Har.) Either NYC 2001 (Worst! Heatwave! Ever! I can’t deal with humidity) or the Australian Outback for nice dry heat. Hot but not unbearable.

My looks are the last thing I care about on my trip up to the Red Centre, Australia

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where:
This isn’t really travel related, just a really good story. A few years back I was at Staples Center for a U2 concert. When I go to concerts I don’t like to carry anything and just bring in my keys, ID, credit card and $20. I guess when I was buying beer, I got sidetracked and ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in years and dropped my credit card while putting it back in my pocket. My friend and I went and sat back down in our seats. A while later (but before the show began) a Staples Center employee comes up to us and holds out my card and asks if this is mine. I am in SHOCK. I was so happy with the return that I didn’t even realize it was missing! How they found me was that it was the same card I used to buy the tickets, so they scanned the card and found my seats and then found me and connected it all together. How awesome is that?!

J: Journey that took the longest:
Since I was starting in Akaroa and ending in Melbourne (with transfers in Christchurch and Sydney) the whole thing took about 2 days which included sleeping in CHC airport, a day to wonder around Sydney before taking the overnight bus to Melbourne. It was a rough two days of which I slept for about 20 hours once I finally got to Melbourne.
The worst one-day journey was the 24 hours it took to get from Milan to Los Angeles. We boarded the plane in Milan and then sat on the runway for 4-5 hours (from 12pm-5pm-ish) because the air traffic controllers went on strike for a few hours. We couldn’t deplane because we were an international flight and we couldn’t eat until we got in the air (no one ate before we boarded because we were supposed to be fed lunch as soon as we took off) and then everyone missed their connections in Chicago and we were all stuck with random middle seats on the last flight of the day from CHI to LAX. It was a miserable miserable day.

K: Keepsake from your travels:
Ticket stubs or pictures.

L: Let-down sight, why and where:
I try to set my expectations really low (Mona Lisa, Stonehenge) so I am never really disappointed. Maybe I would just do some things differently next time. But everything is a learning experience and I try to never be disappointed!

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel:
When I was 12 and at the last minute my parents decided to take us to the East Coast (first time on an airplane since I could remember!) and I just loved everything about it. The plane, the rental car, the hotel, all the rest stops alone the NJ Turnpike, magic!

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:
Hotel Kette in Venice, Italy. If I couldn’t love Venice anymore! Or The Hudson in NYC (a hotel so flash that it refuses to put it’s name on the entrance) when I went for a work event. Neither place was actually that great, I just loved to experience of staying at both, neither which I could do on my own dime, especially The Hudson. It’s just one of those swank, hip spots.

O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?:
Cars and photo booths, which thankfully are not dying outside the US as quickly. Cars outside the US are so weird looking and tiny! And phone booths are sometimes really elaborate in some countries.

P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?
I just counted this morning and I have 22 stamps! This does not include any visa stickers or my Machu Picchu stamps you can put in your passport. Most of the stamps are entry and exits from Australia as they stamp it each time and I technically visited 3 times in the span of a year. I also seem to have tons from the UK as I used it for a base in the early 00’s when I was traveling back and forth from Europe and around a lot. My passport expires next year, so that is probably it for me. I was sort of debating getting a larger passport next time, because the extra pages are free when you request them on the initial order, but decided against it as I would rather have a small but full passport then work really hard just to fill it up.

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where:
Mount Rushmore in South Dakota or any of the “Big Things” in Australia

Me and the "Big" koala on Philip Island, Australia

R: Recommended sight, event or experience:
I don’t know, I am a big fan of doing what you want and not letting others influence your decisions.

S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling:
Something I really really want to do. I hate the feeling of regret so I try not to practice it within reason. Usually it’s an activity.

T: Touristy thing you’ve done:
Um, everything! (To the places I have been at least.) It would be a lot easier to go the other direction. Like I didn’t bungee or skydive in Australia or New Zealand because I didn’t want to nor did I stop in Surfers Paradise even though everyone told me it was awesome. All the reasons they told me it was awesome are some of my least favorite things to do, like ever. So glad I skipped it, no regrets!

U: Unforgettable travel memory:
Getting my job in new Zealand. More like a LIFE highlight!

V: Visas, how many and for where?
Electronic for both New Zealand and Australia and actual sticker for my work permit/visa to stay longer in New Zealand.

W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?:
Whatever is local. Though I do like New Zealand, even if it’s just for the memories! Wine O’clock Fridays anyone?

X: eXcellent view and from where?
The View bar at the top of the Downtown Marriott in San Francisco. On one side you can see the Bay Bridge and the other, Golden Gate. And with a drink!

Y: Years spent traveling?:
Apparently my first time on a plane, I was 5 months old and my parents took me to New York to visit family. We went a lot when I was younger, but our first big road trip was in 1990 and my first time that I can remember being on a plane was 1992, when I was 10. I am not even going to do that math (2 weeks a year times 10 years, plus all my college summers were spent on the go, and then the 2+ years I worked and traveled overseas, I’ll leave the math up to you).

Z: Zealous sports fans and where?:
I am going to say Australia because who outside of the US cares about American football? According to the people I worked with in Sydney, they used to air our games there because people were so sports crazy. I don’t get it at all. That is actually a big reason why I could NEVER live in a place like Australia or New Zealand forever. I just don’t care.

Personal Update

I am usually not one for personal updates because this is a travel blog and what does my personal life have to do with how I travel? More in this upcoming year due to some changes. I know, I slacked on this weeks posts as well, also due to these personal changes.

The smaller change that has effected me actually since this summer is the lack of free internet floating around my apartment complex. For the first 18 months of living in my current apartment, someone had their wireless unblocked, which I used on the weekend to catch up and update my blog. I came back from Hawaii to find it gone and all the other connections in my area blocked. So I started writing all my posts at home, making notes on details to look up and links to add later, so I could update quickly at work, when I got online. This worked okay for a few months. I was actually considering getting internet for myself, but never got up the motivation. And now I definitely can’t afford it.

Say hello to Poppy!

Then the biggest change last month. I got a dog. I know this isn’t a big deal to a lot of people. But this is for me for a variety of reasons. I did not grow up with animals. My parents couldn’t stand anything that didn’t live in a cage, so at the ripe old age of 30, this is the first real pet I have ever had. I also live alone, so I have no one to help at all with it. Since my parents have an aversion to animals, even though they live nearby, they are of little help to me. I can bring the dog to their house, but can’t leave it there without me being there to supervise. Also, Poppy is pretty much a puppy. The vet aged her at a year, but since she came from a city shelter and no one knows her history, she is extremely timid, has the worst separation anxiety and still has the occasional accident when not being watched very closely. All these features have added up to way less time to do what I used to. No more swimming, if I still read one book a week, it’s a miracle (I used to plow through at least 3). And my blog. When I have tried to write the past few weekends, the dog just climbs all over me, she is entranced by the computer screen. I can’t post my blogs at work because I used to do it during lunch and now my lunch times are filled with running home to walk the dog for an hour (hence no more reading either). Which all adds up to less time to keep up my blog.

Highlight of my weekends now!

I still have so many topics on Peru to write about (the first thing I did when I got home was write out a list of topics and came up with over 40, which is about 6 months worth of content!) so they’ll be churned out slow and steady. But that means, there won’t be much of a regular posting schedule for the next few months. I am going to try to get at least ONE post out at week, if only so I don’t loose any personal traction and motivation, but if I skip a week, you’ll know why. I have one last post for Thursday (Did I make it to Machu Picchu?? Tune in to find out!!) and then I am taking next week off (as always, hopefully to churn some content out!) and I hope everyone has a great holiday and New Year!

Cheers!

Out and about and keeping busy and active

Who Loves to Win? (I Do! I Do!)

In celebration of my 146th post and 16 months of fairly consistent blogging (hey, that is the same amount of time I lived in New Zealand!) I have a give away!! Really, I am doing it now because the holiday season is coming up and I am nothing, if not a giver. Or in reality, a re-gifter. A big part of my life since I got back from my 2 years of traveling, is only keeping things I need. If I don’t need it, I immediately get rid of it (or put it in “storage” aka: my parents house, but I really try not to do this, as my room has turned into their storage and I just hate all the clutter). I have lived in my apartment for nearly 2 years and it’s still almost as empty as the day I moved in. What do I need a dining room table for if I eat all my meals on the couch in front of the tv? Another place for clutter? No thanks!

Earlier this year, I won a prize from another blog which included a 3-day car rental which I will gladly put to use eventually and a $25 iTunes gift card, which I (oddly) have no use for. I am not a big iTunes user, have no interest in pretty much anything Apple or Mac (though I will admit to owning a few iPods, but that scene in SEX AND THE CITY where Samantha gives Carrie her iPhone to use and Carrie replies something along the lines of “I don’t know how to use this” describes me to a T). So my card has just been sitting around, gathering dust. And why should it, when it could be in the hands of someone who will actually use it?! And just in time for the holiday season too, if you want to be like me and re-gift! Either way, this is my present to you!

How to enter:

1) Reply to this post, telling me your best travel present that you have either received or given (A flashlight? A round the world trip? A ride to the airport?)

2) Do you read my posts through RSS or email? Let me know via another comment!

3) ReTweet any of my previous posts from my blog (all are eligible EXCEPT this one, as it’s pretty lame). All tweets must include my twitter handle (@purplekat99 or #purplekat99) so I can find them and enter you an additional time. This step can be repeated once a day, so retweet a different post to up your chances of winning!

Unfortunately, the card is only useable for US iTunes store, so I’m sorry my two international followers out there (unless you have a US account!). Shipping is included for the winner!

I’ll be using Random.org to find the winner. Contest closes a week from today, Thursday, November 10th at 12pm Pacific Time.

Good luck!!

**Update** Guess most people aren’t into winning stuff. Thanks to Heather at There’s No Place Like Oz (and yay! one of my favorite blogs that I read on a regular basis!!) for entering! The card is yours, use (or re-gift, hehe) it wisely!

Nothing to do with music or iTunes, just like this pattern!

As expected, I am not ready with any proper posting this week. One thing I worked on last month, was a post for my buddy Brooke‘s website Her Packing List which she asked me to write about packing for summer in New Zealand. My first guest post!!! I couldn’t say no:-). I am like the worst packer, but I love making lists, so hopefully it will help someone out!

So as you can tell I survived Hawaii (not too hard) and Peru (a bit harder) and I took ton of notes and pictures which will hopefully fill this place with posts about topics big and small for a long time to come! And I am still not done with my adventures downunder! I have had a post in the queue about my trip to the Outback waiting for ages (super out of date now, I am sure, but whatever) as well as a post on all the jobs I held in Sydney. You’ll be surprised to hear which one was my favorite!

Depending on internet connection, I hope for the regularly scheduled posting to start again next week!!

Me on my birthday (hence the lei) in front of Kilauea Volcano!