Quick Update!

Finally, after several attempts (I will try to clear up the duplicates!) have all pictures up from 4 days at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore in northern lower peninsula Michigan.  Beautiful dune buffs!

Also, I am about to be on my first leg of flights to Cartagena Colombia!  Yay!

Here we go!

 

Drought

Drought of Posts

I know it is has been a while since I posted anything! I even have drafts written I never submitted. I have no excuse, I have simply not felt like posting things. This happens to me a lot when I am at my parents. Keeping up any kind of schedule is almost impossible, mom works on spur of the moment and she smokes so much I immediately am assaulted with respiratory problems and sore throats. I need to get over it, so here I am in town spending some time smoke free, dog free, dog poop free, and mostly going places to use the free, unlimited and fast internet. Such an easy solution.

Drought of Photos

This drought is over. I had a hard time misplacing things when I got to Michigan because you have to get everything away from the dogs who will chew everything and anything. I lost my phone and batter charger for my camera. I am happy to announce though I have been taking pictures for the last couple weeks and the drought is over!

Nashville Nights ( I was just passing through one night, it’s even crazier than New Orleans)

Mammoth Cave (Really not good photos – I am not good at that lighting, the tour was rushed, and honestly it was boring, more to come about that.  Oh and I forgot to reorient pictures into portrait.  I am sorry.)

Michigan Summer

Drought of Cash

I have been hesitant to spend much since I know I will have to have enough money in savings to go to pay my loans for 2 years while in the Peace Corps. So I have been a very boring person.  I have been reading a lot of 99 cent and free Kindle books.  Going for walks. Spending time with family and my dog.  Also trying to keep up with the unemployment thing. I actually had to fly down to Florida for a meeting to learn how to apply for jobs on the internet.  The Florida unemployment system seems ridiculous, they have all my information and yet someone hacked their account and changed the settings so that everyone spoke Polish, was Hispanic and a migrant worker. And the letter they sent me used text type (pls).  Hopefully I can get into the Peace Corps and get a part-time job for in between once I get back.  There are no jobs in my field available at the moment for my level.  Seem to be above or below me.  I have to search for five jobs per week for unemployment. So far no hits. Lots of spam and scams.

But, I am thinking of going up to Sleeping Bear Dunes north of here if I can let my mom borrow one of her cars or get my car to act normal.  Oh, did I mention in Asheville I found out my car has seven, yes SEVEN, oil leaks. My dad just put two quarts of oil in for me.  Such a nice guy.   Either way, Sleeping Bear Dunes is a national park voted Good Morning America’s “Most Beautiful Place in America” contest in 2011.  It is on the coast of Lake Michigan and has dunes, bluffs, forest and apparently a lot of ticks this year because of the mild winter.  I have never been.

Real Drought

While driving through Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana is was very apparent that there was a horrible drought occurring.  It honestly was as brown as fall.  Where I am at now it is not too bad, but south of here in Michigan it is pretty bad. Thoughts and hopes of rain for all the farmers and those who depend on the agriculture market for survival.  Everything here is so green and luscious looking.  I can pick fruit and vegetables out of the garden and wild blackberries on my hikes through the woods.  It is sad to see so many places so brown.

Dancing in Asheville

Hey everyone! I finally got the Drum Circle video from Asheville up! Believe me, it took forever for me to figure it out. I am an idiot. However if you change the < > from the embed code Photobucket gives to [ ] and use “gigya” in place of “embed” at the start of the code it works!

In Asheville, they have a drum circle every night starting around five or six on Patton Avenue in this little park and lasts until later in the night, which we didn’t get to see. There were people of all ages watching, drumming, dancing, hooping, and other things around the drum circle. You can bring your own drum and join in! People just show up. I want to go back some time and dance the night away.

I also went to the Asheville Movement Collective for a Dance Wave. No pictures or videos are allowed. It is where you can go in and dance how ever you want, as long as you do not invade someone’s space without permission for an hour. They start of with slow soft music and build up slowly to louder more rhythmic music and then go back down to soft slow music. It is a bunch of free spirits being free and there is always a theme. For some people this is their “church” and it is indeed available for two waves on Sundays. Including one wave with child care. I went on a Thursday night so it was not as busy, but still very welcoming. I had a great time. They threatened to do this when I was in the Hostel in the Forest, but never did. I was scared. I guess I am getting a bit more brave!

The direct link is here!

Updates? Where are the updates?

We’ve Got Problems Kids

(My mom always says that to her troupe of four dogs before coming or going or when dad gets home.  It incites a doggy riot.)

I have written several posts and still not submitted them to Elephant Journal or here or anywhere.  I still have not been able to upload pictures.  I still have not even re-sized them and put a watermark on them from my other computer.  I have not done a lot other than try to figure out Peace Corps application things.  I could not get my finger prints done here.  I had to go to Grand Rapids and then go to two different places there to find someone who still did the cards.  Sigh…living in the boondocks of a state that cannot get its budget together.

Also, I need to buy a ticket to Florida for the unemployment people.  Fun.  And my Peace Corps application materials got in late since Kathy had to overnight the package from Florida and we were both on road trips when it came.  So even though I got it all done the day after I got the package, I cannot get an interview until after they reset the new system August 15, which is coincidentally the day I leave to South America.  So what type of health insurance should I get because I need to do a medical kit if I get a nomination.  Then it turns out that I do not have to worry about that so much because now they do not give out the full medical kit until after you get an invitation, since it is country specific now (well after August 15) and it is also all electronic I think.

But instead of getting my insurance I still have not done it.  Or booked something to show proof of onward travel from Colombia.  Where should I leave Colombia from?

So it should be interesting depending on where I am in the world if I get an invitation.

Also, a package I sent to Helen including 20 dollars and all the gifts from my road trip got “lost” from an “open” package.  I read that as someone tore the envelope open and stole the money.  I wish I had written the serial code down to get whatever postal worker took it.  No wonder I use UPS or FedEx.  Oh minus the post card from Mammoth Cave, she got that.  Not the bracelet or stickers or anything :(.

Peace Corps

So, you are probably thinking: “What?  Say that again?  Did you say Peace Corps?  What about finding yourself?”  Well I have to admit it took me until the last minute to submit my application.  I had everything filled out.  I sat and watched it.  I logged in every day and looked at the submit button.  Kathy chastised me, since I chastised her for a late recommendation.  If I didn’t want to do it I could decide later.

History

Then I got an email saying if I did not submit it I would not be available for leaving until 2014.  And even then I still waited until the last day when I realized the terror I felt if I did NOT get in.  I realized this was part of me that had never changed. I had always wanted to do this.  I could not do it in college because I tore my ACL and MCL my senior year and had student loans.  I got all the way through a nomination to the medical process.  Somewhere in the Caribbean for water/wastewater work.  But could not go.  I cried for days.

Since then I have tried Engineers Without Borders but you have to pay all of your way and help fund the project and that just was not an option for me.  Then I started saving money.  Before I lost my job I was trying to figure out how much money I would need for two years even though I only had one year of travel plans.  Why is that?  That is what I would need for the Peace Corps.

So.  I have applied. Sent in my fingerprints and security paper work.  Paperwork about my loans and money I get from my ESOP is in (in 2014 even though my company policy is for one year after date of service?  I am hoping it is the extra year so i can consider to be working for five years and then I am vested for the entire amount).

So Where Am I Going?

I said I want to go to South America.  Of course that does not mean anything.  My three options so far are math, science, or English teaching with math or science being the most likely.  Really this should be taken with a grain of salt because PC changes details like this up to, and sometimes even after, your invitation.  He also said if I go it would likely but not guaranteed to be in July 2012.  Again, can change, no guarantee.  In fact likely to change.  But if that does happen here are the countries that have math teacher programs that I got from the Peace Corps Wiki Calculator:

And these are the ones with science teacher programs:

Those that left in July in 2011 and 2012?

  • Tanzania
  • Malawi
  • The Gambia
  • China
  • Burkina Faso
  • Ghana
  • Cameroon
  • Liberia
  • Sierra Leone

So…it does not look like if I get in that I am going to South America with the PC with the current options, which of course could change at any time.  I was really nervous at the thought of Africa.  It is so unknown, so far from home, and so expensive to get to from.  Plus I just see pictures in my head of people living in mud huts with no water and no electric and no English speaking people for miles.  It is hard to get around, but after actually researching blogs of people who are actually there, it does not seem so scary.

Why Didn’t I Tell You Sooner??

Oh. Sorry.  I really want this.  This is part of me that has not changed.  The me that wants the challenge of expanding my perspective of needs and wants and who wants to try and do some good.  It is so jading to work in water and wastewater consulting because you cannot do good most of the time.  People just want to pay to keep the status quo with their water and sanitation.  They are willing to pollute their water instead of living well and paying taxes to fix the problem.  And these people are some of the richest in the world.  They would like to not put money into infrastructure until it is broken.

Because I want this so much, if I do not get in I am going to feel bad and be embarrassed.  However, if I do not write about what I am doing then I just do not write and I do not want to let this blog thing go.  I am worried that because I saw a therapist and because of little things I might not pass med test or get deferred.  I am worried because I do not have a lot of teaching or volunteer experience since college.  And I am worried because I have to wait so long for an interview.  Spots are being filled now!  I saw blogs of people going to Africa for science teaching in July!

I really need to stop obsessing and worrying and just buy my insurance and get out into the world and travel and see things and people before I leave to South America.  I need to exercise and do yoga which I have not done since I got to Michigan.

My Thoughts are not Others Thoughts

So I should not have to say this but I see all the other Peace Corps Blogs, which I have been reading somewhat obsessively, saying this.  If I get in I will add a disclaimer on the page, but these thoughts only represent my thoughts and no way involve the thoughts of the Peace Corps or US Government.

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Fourth of July from Black Mountain, North Carolina.  I hope all of my US friends had a wonderful holiday!

Reviews and posts soon I promise!  Yoga, dance collectives, drum circles, the Hostel in the Forest, St. Simons, Savannah, waterfalls, Dupont State Forest, so many flowers, and Fourth festivities in Black Mountain.

Pictures are Up!

I am currently in Black Mountain, North Carolina!  And I did not even get a speeding ticket from a trooper in Georgia.  There are first times for everything.  I did get asked if I was a “working woman” in Savannah and had several offers to join me by creepy old men with no teeth in South Carolina.

For a teaser, the uploaded pictures from my Michigan Road Trip thus far.  I will be updating my map soon!

Jacksonville, Florida

The Hostel in the Forest in Georgia  (I seem to have messed these photos up when I re-sized them.  I forgot to set the it to keep the aspect ratio.  Oops.  I will re-upload them soon.)

St. Simons, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia

Updated! 

Here are the correct sized pictures for the Forest Hostel!

Saying Good-Bye Part II

“This love is always right here with you, just breathe it in”

Today I moved on.  I moved on and I did not even realize I had.  I blame that on driving though a tropical storm.  I had been going through all the motions of telling people good-bye.  Last dinners, last yoga classes, last Bones marathon, last massage…  And I finally realized all of those butterflies that I did not think I was feeling, had built up in my body because I did not see them.  I have been scanning myself to see where my anxiety was related to my upcoming trip.  It is a huge adventure with a lot of risk.  I kept going over everything I knew that will make the trip amazing and safe as a preventative measure.  But today I realized, as I was approaching the Florida/ Georgia  border, that I was nervous about everything I was leaving behind.   Worrying that no one cared, that I would never be able to replace the people in my life, that I was imposing on people, and that I was ending of the sweetest part of life I have experienced ever.   When would I come back?  Would I come back?

I could have prolonged my departure because of the storm.   I had a nice family letting me stay with them in a safe place.  But, I felt that I had to move on and for me the border was some symbolic line I was crossing on my trip.  I had not felt those excited butterflies about my trip because I was saying good-bye, not starting out on my adventure.  I was afraid I would never start.  I knew I would not make it to Savannah with my camera today because of the rain, but I could at least get over the Florida border.

As it turns out though, the one good reason to delay a trip that is always okay is tropical weather.  It was a white knuckle, floating across the road, white wash spray kind of drive.  At one point I was passed on both sides by cars and the spray from those cars made it seem like my entire car was underwater.  When the rain let up for a small amount of time, I looked for a mile marker to see how far I had gone.  I was already 14 miles over the border and I had not even noticed.  I was not worrying about having to say good-bye or to force myself to let go of something, I was moving on.

My detour took me to the most amazing hostel that is in tree houses with community buildings, gardens, kitchen, composting bathrooms, outdoor showers, a glass room for yoga and massage, a lake, a pool, and so much lush green forest you are surrounded by frogs and crickets.   Yet, from the time I set foot in this amazing place, I could feel those people I had been saying good-bye to with me on the journey.  I had spent too much energy trying to find closure on a part of my life in places I did not want to close the doors.  I never realized that, not only do I not need to close those doors, I could never close them if I tried.  For the first time, I am not trying to end part of my life.  I am simply moving on to a different place in the world; moving on to a different place in myself.

(Written June 26, 2012 in my little hut in the forest)

Head Stand Prep with Chairs

I will be sticking this in my Passport

I went to a couple of yoga flow classes at Ground Work Yoga while I was house sitting and visiting friends in Winter Haven.  It is a small one room studio on Central Avenue.  Both times I went Jody was the teacher and I loved it.  I loved Jody’s flow style, very free and warm.  I would have gone a couple more times had my car not decided it did not want to start a couple of times (great thing to have before a huge road trip, I know). I guess that should be the lesson not to try to leave to something last-minute.

But, the cool part was we did something I have never done before.  We used two chairs to do a supported head stand.  With blankets on each of the chairs for comfort and a mat underneath the chairs to stop the chairs from sliding, you could get into an easy supported head stand without actually sitting your head on the ground.  That means you get all the benefits of the balance, inversion, shoulder strengthening, but with no neck strain.  I wish I could have got a picture but I did not think to bring my camera.  Plus it was pouring rain on my way to the studio.

But, enjoy this video on YouTube from which does something very similar.  Jody just had us use the edge of the chair to hang on to.  I would like to try it at home (with a spotter of course) and practice bringing up my legs without placing pressure on my neck.

Seminole Wekiva Trail – SR 434 to Lake Mary Blvd

After being on the computer for days for the same amount of time I was when I was working, I realized that I was wasting my time off.  I know I need to blog and social network and apply for unemployment, but I need to take the time off to accomplish the goals I want to accomplish and use the time to just explore the world.  So after sitting on a couch for almost two days, I got off my lazy butt and did something I have meant to do for a while.  I did not feel too bad, as it had been raining every day I had been back for a large portion of the days. I walked the Seminole Wekiva Trail to Lake Mary Blvd. from SR 434 or Starbucks to Panera as most people will recognize it. And in my true fashion I took photos along the path.

The Trail

The Seminole Wekiva Trail in in Seminole County, Florida and starts at the San Sebastian Trail head near SR 436 and ends at Markham Woods Road Trail head on Markham Woods Road.  Total distance is about 14 miles.  The portion I walked was almost 6 miles (or 12 there and back).  Along the trail there is the Seminole County Softball Complex, Sanlando Park, an Altamonte Springs Leisure Center, and several restaurants.

Trail heads include:

  • San Sebastian Trailhead
  • Seminole County Softball Complex
  • Jones Trailhead
  • Markham Trailhead

Goals

My goal was to walk there and back, carry a pack (just my computer, wallet, Kindle and camera), survive, and take pictures.  I was successful! I did not think the pack would affect me as much as it did, but it did.  I felt so sore the next day.  I decided in the future to carry my laptop but no cords for anything and carrying the laptop and Kindle is a bit redundant.  The light was so bright that day the pictures were not so good, but helpful.

This is where I get a bit upset the Eye-Fi card did not work better.  I could have just uploaded my pictures to a map using the GPS location of the pictures.  Too bad it crashes my camera all the time.

Off to a Late Start

The day started later than I had wished, I could not sleep the night before so went to bed very late and woke up very late.  I did not get to the trail until almost 11:00 a.m. And it was hot.  God was it hot.  I started off in the parking lot behind the Starbucks on 434 in Longwood.  There is plenty of shade there and its seems like most of the businesses are vacant.  It was Sunday anyway.  I see people park there a lot.

And I headed north towards Lake Mary Blvd.  There is a nice underpass under 434 so you do not even have to cross the street.

I was awfully upbeat and chipper at being out of the house.

The trail was bright and sunny.

There were pretty flowers out.

The light was sparkling as it filter through the lush green leaves.

Miles are marked for you every half mile (this one is just after the SR 434 underpass).

I am always amazed to see what is at the houses once you get going.  I did not take pictures of other people’s houses and property, but there are people with goats, chickens, huge houses, giant pools, people with huge self-made solar systems, etc. I did get a picture of a some art someone put on their fence.

I thought it was awesome.

Chasing Shade

Then, around noon, I realized it was really hot and I had not put sunscreen on.  My neck was kind of burning.  Around this time my tactics changed.  I walked fast through the sun and strolled through the shade. Luckily there are a lot of shaded areas with benches.

Then as you keep going the path get hilly.  Everyone I know from Michigan will laugh at this, since its not like most of the area gets to more than 25 feet above sea level so hills are not really hills. But, when its 90 something degrees they seem like mountains.

Right when I ran out of water and thought I was going to burn to a crisp, I reached Jones Trail Head.  There were two nice bikers talking and the lady gave me sunscreen, a water bottle, and a frozen water bottle.  It was so nice.  I keep hoping I see her again so I can repay her.  There is a working water fountain at Jones Trail Head also.

The clouds were still gorgeous but the shady areas were becoming far and few between.

Then suddenly the trail got much more Urban.  There were really nice looking condo and apartment complexes…right across from a ranch with cows and horses.

You Have Arrived

And then you are there.  You can tell you are at the right place because of people waiting in line for a spot on the bike rack.

There is a shopping center where there is a Panera, another cafe which had a line out the door when I was there, and a bunch of other shops.

View from Panera’s patio.

Long Way Home

So I stopped and ate and cooled down and drank tons of water.  And then I was off.

As I said, the clouds were gorgeous.  However, they were moving quickly and a nice cool breeze blew up.  Since it was much later in the afternoon, and this was the first day since I had been back it had not rained, I was worried.  So I started moving quickly and did not take many pictures on the way back.  It was fairly quiet since it was the hottest part of the day.

The last part seemed to take forever.  Finally I could see 434 ahead.

I was so happy to get to my car, though it was hot as a sauna inside.  It was also still sunny and clear.  It did not start raining until around 8 p.m. that night and it had some pretty impressive lightning, thunder, and a nice 30 minute downpour that is typical for Florida and floods everything low-lying within minutes.

Google Maps

My Google Map with helpful locations, trail heads, water fountain and bathroom locations, and pictures.  Updated as I get the time and walk the rest of the trail. The map can also be found on my “Maps” page under “Seminole Wekiva Trail.” If you click on the camera icon you can see pictures. I plan on doing the northern portion of the trail this Saturday from Panera to the Markham Trail Head. Ignore the parts in the directions which make you take a road. For some reason Google will not let me keep the path on the trail but it always runs next to a road in those instances. For instance, you do not need to cross Lake Mary Blvd. because there is another underpass.

Blog Updates and New Purchases!

Hey everyone! I am house/dog sitting for my friend S again! I have been staying on and off with my friend’s C and J and their cute baby who smiles whenever he sees me, I think I am in love! It is great catching up with friends and blogs and traveling information and in general doing inside stuff because it has rain ever single day, all day since I have been back!

Blog Updates

New Purchases

I have been a busy busy bee.

New Computer
Acer Aspire One AO722-0473 11.6-Inch HD Netbook (Espresso Black)

I bought my new computer.  After months of agonizing over what to buy (ultrabook, tablet, Macbook, netbook, laptop…) and then physically agonizing over carrying my huge laptop and accessories bag around the Minneapolis Airport, I finally bought my new computer.  It is an Acer Aspire One.  I decided my budget was cheap and I needed something I would not cry about if I lost it, broke it, or someone stole it. However, it still had to be functional.  I need to be able to bulk edit photos, browse multiple websites to blog and keep in touch, video chat, use Google Voice/Chat/Talk, and watch Hulu Plus.  This is a good one so far. It is light, keyboard is large, it’s not so tiny it is difficult to use, it works with Google Talk/Voice/Chat really well, and Hulu is even better than my old computer (hello Daria and Bones).  I still need to check out photo editing.  To boost the computer a bit I also bought…

4 GB Memory
PNY 4 GB DDR3 1333MHz (PC3-10666) 204-Pin Notebook SO-DIMM, Single (MN4096SD3-1333)

I opted for the upgrade to 4 GB of memory on my own.  I bought it and installed it easily by myself.  You just need to:

  • Slide battery release at top with screwdriver
  • Remove battery
  • Remove tiny screw on opposite side of battery
  • Slide bottom casing towards the side of the screw
  • Lift casing
  • Push to pins on edges of memory to pop out old memory
  • Slide old memory out (take note of which way the metal end goes – down towards screw end of casing)
  • Slide new memory in paper side down metal into slot
  • Push down to lock pins
  • Replace cover by putting four corners into the correct slots and sliding up towards battery
  • Replace screw

Literally took 3 minutes and it only took that long because I did not notice the slots used to put the cover back on.  Another option is to watch this guy do it in 60 seconds or this guy has a clearer picture but sometimes moves the laptop off-screen.

The package came with a free movie download, have not tried to get that yet.

Amazon Kindle Touch
Kindle Touch, Wi-Fi, 6″ E Ink Display – includes Special Offers & Sponsored Screensavers

I actually bought this one a while ago when I got rid of all of my stuff, including my books.  I realized I needed books!  I chose the touch WiFi with advertising because of price, 3G only goes to Amazon’s store and Wikipedia, and because it has amazing battery life.  It can last for weeks of usage without a charge, I have tested this and found it accurate, but remember this is not using it all day.  It can connect to WiFi to get to Amazon store and to its experimental browser which is not really fancy but works better than my crappy old phone to check Facebook.  It has a lot of little games for free or cheap and some other apps.  It is not like the fire or Nook Tablet.  But I really enjoy it.

I was even able to replace almost my entire Paulo Coelho collection for 12 dollars because Paulo Coelho put his entire collection except Aleph and The Alchemist on sale for $0.99 each.  The sale is over now and everything is back up to apx. $10.00 each.  I told you guys to get on it!

Photobucket Pro

As a way to back up photos and track where people are linking to my photos from I bought a subscription.  So far I am slightly upset because my new computer does not read the stats and half the referring pages are unknown.  I have yet to upload my full size photos so we will see how that goes this weekend.  I plan on uploading all my photos into private albums full size so that the photos I already have backed up are accessible on the road.

New Shoes

Sadly my plantar fasciitis has flared up and the Merrell shoes I bought are not going to be able to hold up good enough for my arches.  I bought a new pair of Orthaheel flip flops and slides from Fleet Feet Sports in Altamonte. This is a great all around running store with clothes, shoe fittings, shoes, supplies, gear, and hydration products for running and cycling.  The flip flops, which do not look that dark in real life, are great.  It took a while to get used to the thong in between my toes again (I do not wear flip flops often). The slides have given me blisters the one time I wore them but I think my old pair (which I wore down until there is no more arch) did at first too, I just need to put something over the back seam.  I will only bring one pair with me.  Probably the flip flops.