Archive for the ‘Virginia’ Category

last of CO

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

The rest of our trip was spent just hanging out at Mary’s sister’s house watching DOWNTON ABBEY (so good) and exploring the town of Boulder. The little out door area (Peal Street Mall I believe it was) was adorable! We went to dinner at a Mediterranean Restaurant for dinner and split tons of different tapas before I stalked out a used bookstore, Boulder Bookstore, and we spent forever in there looking at everything they had to offer.

Before our flight we went on one last walk to enjoy the views that we would be missing back in Virginia.

Nothing like being home again though

UNTIL NEXT TIME!

-kk


Home At Last

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

What I experienced the first few days I was home from Fiji can only be described as the absolute worst case of jet lag I have ever endured in my twenty one years of living. Having been awake for two days straight I slept pretty hard once I finally landed back in my room in Springfield, but strangely enough I was only able to sleep for a few hours before waking up again. For the next week I felt perpetually weary but was strangely unable to sleep. It was a very frustrating experience to say the least, and I wasn’t the only one affected. Mom and Dad had to go back to work that week, so they were forced into at least trying to sleep, but that didn’t make them any more successful at it. The Friday morning after we got home I found myself tired and exhausted but lying awake in my bed at 4:30 am. Having been lying there since around 12:30 am I decided it might be time to get up and do something else, and just as I was getting out of bed I heard something from down stairs. Turns out Mom and Dad were both up, suffering from a similar problem because before I could even make it downstairs mom had heard me moving around and called up to me asking if I was up. Since everyone in the house was up, we decided to cut our losses and just make breakfast even though it was still dark outside. So Mom and Dad and I had blueberry pancakes in the dark at 4:30 in the morning. Well into the next week I was still feeling weary consistently without being able to sleep. Since I was spending so much time not sleeping this left me free to do other things and as I did I began to notice lot of things that I had missed about home while I had been gone and some things I had begun to miss about Australia.

Things I missed about being home: 

 

Mexican food: Yes I did eat some mexican food while I was in Australia, and what I had was amazing, but it wasn’t anywhere as easy to come by as it is in the states, and it tended to air on the expensive side. It was also difficult to produce Mexican dishes on my own since things like black beans were impossible to find in an Australian grocery store. I never thought I would miss Mexican food so much, but I really did.

muy sabrosa!

My car: While city living certainly does not require a car, and it was nice to not have to think about parking or gas prices for a few months, I have enjoyed having my car back. It’s nice to be able to take trips on a whim and most of all I missed my personal time with the music on and the stereo cranked. I also missed the radio in general. Although, I most certainly did NOT miss the rush hour traffic.

My baby

My room: Having roommates is a lot of fun, but its nice to be back in my own personal and very purple space. It’s also quite wonderful to be in a full sized bed again because on my twin in Australia my feet went off the edge.

My very purple room and my very purple bed.

Cheap Alcohol- I got so used to paying $10- $20 for a cocktail that it has been a treat to be home where I pay $5-$10. I still can’t go into an ABC store without feeling incredibly nervous like I’m not supposed to be there. Even though I went to several bars and bought alcohol a few times while abroad, something about being home has me giddy and nervous about being 21 all over again.

The Rest of My Wardrobe: After having lived with the same two suitcases of clothing for five months it was delightful to come home to a closet of clothing that I hadn’t seen since February. I had forgotten I owned half the stuff I came home to!

Bananas: Due to the flooding in Queensland the months before I landed in Australia much of the banana crops of Australia were damaged or washed away. This caused a massive banana shortage, meaning that the bananas that were available were scarce and became quite expensive. When I left bananas had gotten to $12 AUD a kilo, making them almost as expensive as a prime cut of steak. Bananas as a luxury food item? Weird. It’s nice to be back on a continent where they seldom cost more than $2 for a bunch.

American Grocery Stores:  In addition to black beans I was also unable to get regular cheerios, fruit pies, bryers ice cream and many other things I am used to in Australian grocery stores. The grocery sores I went to in Sydney were smaller and had much less variety than I was used to, not to mention groceries were far more expensive and the size of everything was much smaller. When I went to a grocery store for the first time in Virginia it was massive sensory overload, but it was wonderful. I have never been so excited to go to a grocery store as I was when I first came home.

No More Flushing Decisions: In Australia just about every toilet is two flush, meaning everytime you find yourself needing to flush you have to made a decision if you want a  full flush or a half flush. Not that it was that much of a bother, but its nice not to have to ponder on wether or not whatever you are flushing down requires a full flush of water or only half.

 

Things I miss about Australia

Walking Everywhere: While it was wonderful to be back in my car, it meant that I wasn’t walking nearly as much and therefore I got very lazy and out of shape in the first few weeks I was home.

Cheap, Delicious Thai Food on Every Corner: Between living in Sydney and actually visiting Thailand I don’t know that I will ever be able to eat what passes as Thai food in the US ever again.

Included Sales Tax: While things were generally more expensive in Australia, the sales tax was always included in the listed price of everything so you always knew how much you were paying up front which was nice.

Sprawling Starry Skies: The number of stars you can see in the Southern hemisphere is incredible. All the constellations are different from the Northern hemisphere and due to the much lower levels of light pollution the visibility is incredible. I dare say no northern hemisphere sky view will ever be able to top it.

Everywhere Sells Pastries: Almost every sandwich shop, bistro and eatery in Oz sells pastries and has a wonderful selection of desserts that are made in house. Much of Europe is like this too, its wonderful.

Respect for the Environment: Australia seems to be about twenty years ahead of the US with all its green practices. From fuel efficient cars, power switches on every electrical outlet, half flush toilets, bans on plastic bags and bottles, to an emphasis on locally grown produce, recycling programs, and bio degradable plastics, they have far more respect for their environment and their natural resources. It just goes to show you how little we would have to give up to make these changes, as everyone over there seems to live quite comfortably. In line with this, all the cities I visited in Australia were all spotlessly clean. They seem to take great pride in having cities free from trash and grime.

Living in the City: I have never really thought of myself as being a city girl, but I really enjoyed living on the outskirts of Sydney. There was always something to do, somewhere to go, and something to see, usually within walking distance. Springfield seems terribly dull after living in Sydney for a few months.

No Chain Restaurants: Australians do not like chain restaurants generally speaking. There are very few chains to be found there that are not American chains., and even those are not very prominent. (except McDonalds, but there is no escaping that.) Coming home I began to notice just how many chains there are in the US and how few independently owned restaurants are in my area. I miss the excitement of walking into an establishment and not knowing what kind of food you would be served or experience you would have.

Adventures: While I was abroad I had this attitude that since my time was limited and it was unlikely that I would ever be back in Australia I should make the absolute most of the time I had and explore as much as I could and have as many adventures as I could. This led to many a great adventures, and I miss that. Being home I don’t feel any guilt spending the day indoors watching tv or running errands, whereas in Australia I would have been twisted with guilt to go through an entire day without having done anything memorable. Suffice to say life has been considerably less exciting since I returned to Springfield.

Vegetarian Friendly Cuisine: Almost every restaurant I went to while abroad had extensive vegetarian offerings. Many even had a vegetarian menu, I had forgotten how limiting being a vegetarian could be in the US. Australia is also far more health conscious than the US and their restaurant menus reflect this.

Tim Tams: Obviously.

 

People keep asking me if I want to go back to Australia, and while I did love my time there, there are so many other places in the world I am eager to see I don’t see wanting to go back any time soon. Plus the thought of enduring that 15.5 hour trans pacific flight again is in no way enticing to me. I feel like I might go back one day, who knows?

 

Two Sunsets Over the Pacific

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Getting into the United States via customs was quite the ordeal. The lines we had to wait in were tremendously long and moved at a snails pace. Julie was so busy texting for the first time in two and a half weeks that she hardly noticed, but Dad, a man of far too many words and no patience was very verbal about his distaste for the situation.Some jems from the hour we spent trying to get through customs:

Dad: “It shouldn’t take me this long to get into the country I am a citizen of! I’m not a terrorist just let me in already!”

 

Dad: “This is like being back at Safeway, they have 18 registers but only four people working. Isn’t it great to be back in the United States? This would never happen in Fiji, nobody cares about blowing that place up, they’re too busy smoking dope.”

 

Dad: “Allah allah ackbar! Osama Jihad!”

Mom: Michael! Shut Up!

Dad: ” I was trying to get us through the line faster”

Mom: “You’re going to get us detained! I want to get home! ”

Dad: ” We are home! This is America now, I was BORN IN THE USA!”

Julie: “Do you have any original thoughts that aren’t Bruce Springstein lyrics?

Me: “doubtful, highly doubtful”

 

After finally making it through border control we had to collect our bags only to then re deposit them on a conveyer belt no more than 100 feet away from the one we pulled them off of, so they would make it onto the next flight. Then we had to find our way through the labyrinth that is LAX to the American Airlines check-in desk so we could get our boarding passes for our last flight. It was around eleven in the morning as we were doing this, and our DC flight didn’t leave till 10 pm. Thankfully, Dads childhood friend Pete lives in LA and had agreed to pick us up at the airport so we wouldn’t be stuck sitting in LAX all day. After we had our flight all squared away we met up with him and he took us to a hotel where they he had very graciously gotten us a room so we could shower and change. Julie and I thought this to be the greatest miracle of mercy. Even though I was zonked not having slept hardly at all for a good 24 hours at this point, I was also quite hungry, so Pete and his family took us out to this little Japanese restaurant in LA for a real meal. Since this was the first time Julie or I had been to LA Mom suggested we do a little sightseeing after having eaten. Pete suggested that we take a stroll on the Santa Monica Pier. Even though it was an 85+ degree day, once the sun starting to go down the temperature dropped to be in the 60s and Julie and I started shivering in our shorts and t-shirts. Julie and I were perplexed. Having lived in the muggy swamp of northern Virginia where it consistently feels like you are inside someone’s mouth every time you walk outside from late May to mid September, we were confused at the notion that one could feel chilly after sundown. You mean to tell me that in other places of the world it actually gets cold when the sun is no longer shining? BIZARRE!

 

On the Santa Monica Pier in LA

We watched the sun set over the pacific ocean on 19th of July twice. Once in Fiji, and then we flew back in time and saw it set again in California. Having now been up for almost a day and a half by the time we got off the Santa Monica pier Julie and I wanted nothing more than to get some sleep. We asked to be taken back to the hotel so we could sleep and Mom and Dad went out with Pete and his wife for a drink. I was so sleep deprived at this point that as soon as I found myself on a horizontal surface I passed the hell out and I have no memory of anything that happened after that. At some point I was woken up and we somehow ended up on another plane, but my memory of this is foggy at best. I only got maybe two hours of sleep in the hotel which was not enough to make up the deficit of sleep I had incurred in the last two days. We boarded our DC bound flight at 10 pm and I think they showed a movie, but I was in such a state it felt like my body was producing LSD naturally, so maybe I just imagined that I watched animated brightly colored talking birds. I can’t say I remember either way.

Even though I was exhausted and my brain was desperate for some shut down time, I couldn’t get comfortable on the flight with the two screaming babies sitting in front of me and a seat that didn’t recline far enough. Luckily I had a window seat so I watched the lights of middle America pass underneath until the sun rose, which was magnificent to behold.

We landed around 7 am and I had never been so happy to be at Dulles Airport in my short young life as I was when we got off that plane. We picked up our bags and made our way outside to find that we had picked the perfect time to come home, we were in the middle of a heatwave! Good ole Virginia in July. Good to know some things never change. Our next door neighbor was there to pick us up when we got outside, so we loaded up our luggage and began the final leg of our trans global journey home. On our way home from the airport we had to take 66 to get to the parkway, so in a 24 hour period we saw both ends of route 66 without seeing any of the middle.

 

Once we finally made it home I was completely drained of all energy, but somehow managed to unpack all three suitcases I had, and shower before crashing hardcore into a deep and restful sleep, finally at home and in my purple room in my purple bed. Life was good and it was good to be home.