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Long time no see

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, seven months to be exact. Well, I’m back. This summer was a summer of adventure vacations.

First trip was on my way home. I stopped off in New York with my trusty travel friend, Autum, to see her brother. I also have never been to NYC, so what better time than now. I was in NYC for a week. We stayed in the Hell’s Kitchen area. The hotel was nice but wow was it small. Now that I’m living in South Korea small is my new living theme. We did awesome touristy stuff like the hop on/hop off bus tours, museums, Central Park, shopping, broadway (Kinky Boots), rode the subway, and went to Time Square

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Kinky Boots was amazing!

Cookie dough served like ice cream

Giant milkshakes

 

Next up was home for a week for the Monkey’s Birthday.

The Birthday girl at her Monster’s Inc party.

Kennedy was telling her mom and I that she was coming to Costa Rica with me.

Hollywood and my BFF!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next stop – Costa Rica. This trip was great because I was back with my gang from Egypt. The house we stayed in was straight up out of the Real World – super nice and huge. Had an amazing pool, outdoor area, and was literally in the jungle. We went zip lining for Autum’s birthday, explored a hidden beach, searched out waterfalls, relaxed by the pool and had some really great hang out time with friends.

A real life sloth!

Amazing views! This was the view from the top of zip lining.

Hidden beach – had to go at low tide so you could find it.

Fresh water waterfall! Amazing!

Straight from Costa Rica, Autum and I left to go to the Galapagos Islands. We went for seven days. We did three days of diving and three days of land/boat sightseeing. This trip is something that people wait their whole lives to go on. I’m just lucky enough to have done it when I was able to dive and to explore on land. The diving was amazing and so different than the Red Sea. I’ve been spoiled by the Red Sea for the past four years with it’s abundance of colorful coral and sea life. Where the Galapagos Islands lacked in colorful coral they made up for in sea life. We saw and dove right along with a huge manta ray, eagle rays, hammer head sharks, white tip sharks, black tip sharks, sea turtles, seal lions, and a penguin.  Seeing these particular sea life in their own natural habitat was amazing! It’s almost hard to explain. At one point we were at the bottom of the dive site, hanging on to a few big rocks and just watching the sea life swim by. It was just like the scene in Finding Nemo. The huge manta ray we saw was bigger than the boat we were on and the hammerheads were so cool to just watch swimming around. In addition to the sea life it was a good experience to dive in different water conditions. The water was really rough the last day we went out and the current was a little more than moderate. At a certain point we just rode the current and it literally swept us away. The water was freezing though. July in the Galapagos is not the warmest to my surprise. I’ve also been spoiled by the Red Sea and how warm the water gets there. I usually dive without a wet suit. Not the case in the Galapagos. I had a 7 mm wet suit on. It was also windy once you got out of the water and into the boat. The first day was cold, the second dive day was freezing and the last dive day was chilly. The land/boat excursions were just as awesome. The Galapagos have a wide range of animals that are only native to their islands – how cool is that? The scenery was beautiful and the people were very friendly.

What a view!

Land iguanas.

Blue footed boobies – that’s really their names 🙂

Day 1 dive trip

Land excursion of the other smaller islands.

Day 2 dive trip

Charles Darwin center – very educational.

Tortoise!

After the Galapagos Islands I headed home to spend time with family and friends before I left for Jeju. It was a great summer I got to spend time with my family, I found out that my nephew will be here in December, got to hang out with my BFF and the girls, and had a girls weekend with great friends.

Family trip to the Dells

Wisconsin Dells with Hollywood

iFly with the Monkey. She loved it until she went up high. See that pink bow – she lost it in the wind tunnel 🙂

No fear!

Wrigley Field Tour

Wrigley Field Tour with these two. Ate dinner at The Park and bought some Cubs gear.

Picked up something for my nephew who will be here in December! Birthday month buddies 🙂

5K Mud Run with the Monkey – she set a great pace.

No fear here – she wouldn’t let me help her of course because she’s a badass!

St. Louis with my ride or die girls! Every summer we have our own weekend and it’s as if no time has passed at all. These are the best kind of friends.

Budweiser brewery tour

Co-Authored a book and was published this summer.

Watched these two crazies for a weekend. Tried to make slim = failed. Check out those ponytails though 🙂

Did some chores….

More chores…

I apparently lost my mind and thought Target was a good idea. We survived. I got Starbucks and they got a water bottle and a lego figure.

Superhero day at SkyZone with Spiderman and BatGirl.

Pool party at Uncle Tom and Aunt Wendy’s. They basically got to do whatever they wanted and get whatever they wanted. Kids..

And passed out in the car- success.

I didn’t have to be to Jeju until October but I decided to go early to check things out. On my way to Jeju I made two stops to see friends. First stop was Kazakhstan to see Autum. I didn’t do much in Kaz just relaxed and it was amazing. Second stop was Vietnam to see my Peg 🙂 Vietnam in a word was amazing! We hung around where Peg lived and just chilled which was totally needed. She went to school during the day and I wandered around. I got five massages in the seven days I was there. The food there is so good – like my pants were tight when I left good. I got some clothes custom made for me. That is something that I thought I would never do. I was like I’ll just buy them at the store. Well, Peg took me to a little shop she found and where she had a cute dress made. It was all downhill from there. I walked away with two dresses, one pair of dress pants, two pairs of capris, and five shirts. Everything fits perfect like a glove. I tried stuff on and if it didn’t fit they altered it. There was a dress I loved and they didn’t have my size so they made one from scratch for me. They took my measurements, I came back in two days for a fitting and then two days later I had a custom made dress – so amazing. One shirt I even got to pick out the color and material – what! I’m currently compiling a list of more clothes to buy for when I go back. I will definitely be back Vietnam – so much to see.

Peg!

I’m in Jeju now and once school starts I’ll update again!

Later skaters –

-B

 

 

A tourist in Dubai

I’ve been to Dubai two times. The first time was for a 10K race and the second time was to watch a rugby tournament. On both of those trips I never had time to play tourist because I was either sore from running or drinking all day. I knew that before I left the Middle East a Dubai tourist trip had to happen. I of course had to go in the tallest building in the world!

At first I was going to splurge and stay in a fancy hotel and live it up for a weekend. Then I checked prices and decided, no thank you and went with the Holiday Inn Express at Safa Park and it was amazing. The breakfast had good choices, it was close to the Burj Khalifa, and had a nice park near it.

Dubai is only an hour flight so getting there on a Thursday night is easy and it leaves all day Friday and the majority of Saturday for activities. My trusty travel partner suggested that we get the fast track pass for the Burj so we wouldn’t have to wait in any lines. The was pure genius. Not only did we not have to wait in lines to go up but also got right in the elevator to go down.

The Burj was high – we went to the 124th floor and it was a clear day so we were able to see out pretty far. It was a little windy on the observation deck but it was pretty cool to look down and see everything look like a lego set.

At the top – 124th floor

Looking down at the Dubai fountain

The Dubai mall is also know for the world’s largest aquarium. Now as a SCUBA diver I’m not a fan of aquariums, zoos or anything that holds animals in captivity…but I was there so of course I checked it out. You could walk through the aquarium so you had animals swimming above you and besides you. I got to watch a sting ray eat while being underneath it, that was pretty cool. There was also an underwater zoo which was as you guessed different fish and animals that lived under the water. Overall I wasn’t impressed as yes it was a big aquarium but way too many fish in it. There was also a Shark Week display, that made for a cool picture.

Shark Week

Penguins humping each other – haha 🙂

It was St. Patrick’s day while I was in Dubai so in honor we had some drinks while we watched the Dubai Fountain show. The water show was set to music, lights and shot up 140 meters high. If you have ever been to the Bellagio fountain show in Las Vegas, this didn’t even come close. It was a nice little entertainment stop while we had drinks.

St. Patrick’s Day drinks

Burj night selfie

On Saturday we went to go for a run in Safa Park which was near our hotel. It was about a twenty minute walk but once we got there the park was surrounded by a huge fence. When we finally found the entrance we also found out that there was an entrance fee. So even though we didn’t get our run in we got in a nice walk along the canal. Along the canal there was a wellness fair going on. There were vendors ranging from smoothies to yoga. The whole event was about taking care of your self, gaining confidence and being happy. It was really nice to stumble upon The Happiness Journey.

The Happiness Journey – my motto right now.

 

Later skaters

-B

Sri Lanka

I had a three day weekend in February so I looked at my options of going somewhere close, was a direct flight and would allow me to lay by the pool and possibly see a few sights if I desired to do so. The winner was Sri Lanka. I’ve never been before so it was a chance to see some new sights. My only requirement was that there was a patio and pool. I decided to stay at the Mount Lavinia Hotel. The weekend was spent laying by the pool, reading, taking naps, going to the spa twice and stopped at the elephant orphanage on the way to the airport. Although it was a short weekend the weather was perfect and it was a nice and relaxing weekend. I will absolutely go back to see more.

View from my balcony

Pool time

Bath time for the elephants

Turning poo into paper

Later skaters

-B

 

Christmas Break 2016

This year I headed home for 10 days and then decided to take a trip down to Florida to see my good friend L, her hometown and Universal Studios. Peg, my partner in crime decided to meet up with me in Florida for the festivities.

The 10 days that I was home was packed with daily activities – lunch with the Grinch, out to dinner with the family, hanging out with the little people, some light shopping in freezing cold weather, getting my hair cut and colored, school with Steph for the day, out with teacher friends downtown Chicago, multiple Christmas’s with the family, Christmas eve and Christmas morning with the girls and as much hang out time with them that I could fit in. Steph kept us busy each day and those girls are troopers that’s for sure – they are their mother’s children through and through. It was great to see friends and family even if it was for a short time.

The day after Christmas I headed to Florida to see L. She lives in Lake Panasoffkee which is about 45 minutes from Orlando. I taught with L last year in Bahrain and she would talk about where she grew up and how it was very redneck and I was like really in Florida? It was just as amazing as she described it. We did a bunch of “redneck” activities if you will and they were all amazing. I loved every second that I was there – the people, the activities, everything was amazing.

Here are a few of the activities we did:

Waffle House:

As a northerner, I love Waffle House probably because we don’t have them. They are the only place that I will eat a waffle and the atmosphere is awesome. The was my first stop when I got into town and then again before we left to go to Orlando so Peg could experience it.

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Airboat Ride –

We decided to do something very Florida like and take an airboat ride on Lake Panasoffkee. This was my first time on an airboat and it didn’t disappoint. In addition to the ride we also grabbed a bucket of beers to take with us. Since it was a company taking us on a tour it was pretty safe and at an appropriate speed. We saw two alligators while we were out. The first one we just saw his head pop out of the water and the second one was up on the shore hanging out in the sun. In addition to the alligators we saw an assortment of birds. After the airboat ride we got to hold a baby alligator. It’s mouth was taped so no big deal. It was surprisingly soft, much softer than what it looks like.

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We got a bucket of beers for the airboat ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This was our airboat driver and yes that’s his real hair.

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Shoot a shotgun:

I’ve shot a BB gun, a rifle and pistol a few times before but that’s about it. L has a friend who lives on a large property and are avid shooters so that’s where we went to practice. It was amazing and here are some things I learned:

  • The shotgun was super heavy
  • I’m a horrible shot – it took me probably twenty tries to hit the clay pigeon
  • Peg is a great shot – she hit it on the second shot (whatever)
  • It was a great time
  • I need a lot of practice

After we were done shooting and getting ready to leave L’s order of moonshine came in so of course we did a taste test. The moonshine came in mason jars, no labels just straight moonshine. The flavored one’s were the best. My favorite was black berry or wild berry something. My least favorite was blueberry. Then there was straight moonshine no flavor. It was clear looked like water until you opened it and smelled it. It smelled like gasoline and tasted probably exactly like what gasoline tastes like. I felt it go all the way through my body. I can now check that off the list of life experiences too.

Games, drinks, and a pig:

We stayed in had drinks and played the game Life. We drank Moscow mule’s until we ran out of limes, which wasn’t a horrible thing. Later on in the evening one of L’s friend came over and brought her pet pig, it wasn’t hers she was watching it for someone but it was a pet. It was the craziest thing ever. We didn’t know a pig was coming, we had been drinking so all of a sudden there is a pig in the backyard. To say that Peg and I lost our mind would be a bit of an understatement.

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Peg chillin’ with the pig in her pajama pants and slippers.

Universal Studios:

After hanging out in Lake Pan for two days we headed to Orlando to go to Universal Studios for three days. I haven’t been to Universal Studios since 2011 since then they have added a bunch of Harry Potter attractions as well as others. I love theme parks and I love Harry Potter so I was really excited. We stayed at the Cabana Bay hotel which had a 50’s theme and it was super cool. The first day at Universal, Jesse and Lisa met up with us. They were at Disney for the week and came over for the day. We got there an hour before the park opened because we stayed on sight. All of the lines were super long being that it is peak season in Florida so we definitely stood in line more than we were on rides. It was okay though the rides were amazing. Harry Potter was amazing just to walk through and look at all of the detail of the sets, shops and rides. We didn’t get home until almost 11:30 p.m., it was a long day. The second day we were a little slow starting due to our long day before. One of the new rides at Island of Adventure is The Reign of Kong. The line was consistently 150 minutes of wait time. We decided that we really wanted to ride it so took the plunge and got in line. Two and half hours is a long time to stand in line even though the ride was six minutes and ten seconds long, L looked it up. Turns out they were a little off on their timing it was three and half hours. Yes, you read that right we stood in line for three and half hours. Now the ride was amazing but still three and half hours. After that we checked the wait times at the restaurants, an hour and forty minutes was the minimum. We couldn’t wait in anymore lines so we hit up Panda Express and called it a night.

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Escape from Gringotts ride

The one time we stood in line for three and a half hours.

The one time we stood in line for three and a half hours.

Getting ready for Dr. Doom's Fear Fall

Getting ready for Dr. Doom’s Fear Fall

 

It was a great Christmas Break!

Later skaters

-B

Where to next year…

It’s that time again in the international teaching world where the decision is made to stay or start looking for a new school. This year I decided to move on and look for a new school. My first thoughts were that I wanted to go east – Asia area. The farthest east I’ve been is Bali. The Middle East has been good to me. I started my international teaching career in Egypt and I’m pretty sure that if I can teach/live there I can go almost anywhere. While in Egypt I saw many sights, met a ton of great people and learned too much to even start listing. Moving to Bahrain was a welcomed change due to the fact that it is very western here which made it easy to live. I’ve gained a great deal of athletic director experience, in addition to getting the chance to try new ideas in my classes. In the end though, my time in the Middle East has come to an end and it’s time for me to move on.

I’ll spare you the details of the job search, nothing exciting happened. There were interviews, there were second and third interviews, there was the e-mail stating you were not selected which led to more interviews and then the right job came along. The job that came along I originally overlooked or didn’t pursue in the beginning but that’s how things work out and I’m excited. I’m excited to move to Asia, I’m happy with my school choice and with the opportunities that lie ahead.

Drumroll…….I’m headed to Jeju Island. It’s located at the southern tip of South Korea, apparently I like living on islands. It’s a brand new school called St. Johnsbury Academy (SJA Jeju). I will be teaching PE/Health most likely to multiple grade levels to start and once the school and the program grows I will settle in to a certain grade level.

We have a delayed start because the school will not be complete, yes it’s literally a brand new school opening in October 2017. Since we have a delayed start we do not have to report until October 1st which gives me a bit of an extended summer vacation, no I’m not mad about that. To compensate for those missed days there are a handful of half days on Saturday that will we will have to work in order to meet our contact days. As of now my thought is to arrive at the end of September to start my visa application and get familiar with the area.

A lot of people have asked me how big Jeju is, great question and I finally looked it up. Bahrain is 295.5 square miles and Jeju Island is 714 square miles so almost two and half times bigger than Bahrain. Jeju is sometimes referred to as the Hawaii of Korea due to its volcanic sights and lava tubes. In addition, there are multiple beaches, trails, natural wonders and rural landscapes. I guess I can be the judge of that later since I just went to Hawaii last summer.jeju-map

South Korea also experiences all of the seasons so that will also be a welcomed change from just hot and dry, although I do like the climate in the Middle East.

In the end, I’m totally happy with my choice and look forward to what lies ahead. I have to say that choosing to teach internationally has been a great choice and I’m grateful for the opportunities it continues to give me.

Later skaters

-B