Friday, March 29, 2013

Our journey to the Galapagos Islands.

Happy Friday everyone!  Also, Happy Good Friday and Passover if those apply to you.

Finally, I feel normal enough to start a conversation about our trip to the Galapagos.  This was something I had wanted to do since I was a little girl in elementary school, learning about the islands and of course, Lonesome George, who sadly passed away before I ever got the chance to meet the guy.  Although, I did find out some interesting tidbits on the giant tortoises, which I will share later.

There are so many ways you can explore the islands, and I became a little overwhelmed when I first started looking at planning.  We decided to pick March to visit, which is their hot, rainy season, because it was supposed to be the best for snorkeling.  The snorkeling certainly did not disappoint.  Our guide kept telling us we were extremely lucky we had clouds that kept us somewhat cool without too much rain, and I have to agree, of course with nothing else to compare it to.

We decided to book with a travel agency that either Frommer's or Fodor's (can't remember which one) recommended.  It was called Expedition Trips, and they are based out of Seattle, WA.  The boat we chose, the Legend, is actually owned by a company called Klein Tours, which is based out of Ecuador.  Many people booked directly with Klein Tours, and all of our pamphlets, etc. had their names on it.
Our boat, the Legend!
To backtrack a little, Expedition told us some interesting tidbits about Galapagos travel.  Airfare to the islands can be overbooked, and the only way to secure a seat is to have pre-booked travel, like on a boat.  I wasn't sure if that was true or not, but sure enough, there were lines at the airport for "confirmed" seats and "stand-by" travel.  We thought about doing a night or two at a hotel on the islands, rather in Quito, but Expedition said we would not have confirmed seats this way.  Boy, am I glad that we listened!
Our ride to Baltra in the Galapagos.
We booked this trip kind of last minute, and so we were offered either a room upgrade on the boat, or 10% off of our stay.  Now, the boat is not a huge cruise liner or anything, and we knew we'd only be in our rooms for a short period of time, so we were more tempted by the discount.  The only thing I asked is that we had a window in our room.  Not a huge window, but a window, nonetheless.  I was assured all rooms on board has at least a porthole window.  Well, when we stepped foot on board, we did not have a window.  The boat only held 100 people, but apparently two of the rooms did not have windows.  One was ours.  Luckily, the boat was less than half full, and the crew was nice enough to switch our room.  Joel may or may not have lied and said it was our Anniversary, which I did not condone or approve of, by the way.  I haven't let Expedition know this yet, but I will.  This was the only part of the trip that I was pretty disappointed with.

Finally, our room with a window!
Other than that, they arranged for our hotel transfers, inter country flights, and our hotel stay in Quito.  We didn't stay at the Hilton or anything, but the Hotel in Old Town was nice, clean, and comfortable, which is all we wanted.  And breakfast the one day we had it was superb.

Our room in Quito, at the Patio Andaluz.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

First World Addicitons

And no, I'm not talking about the hard stuff.  No A.A. or N.A. meetings for this gal.

But, I fear that I do have some addictions.  And while they aren't killing me, they're not exactly good for me, either.  Let's discuss.

1.  Shopping - While some may laugh at this, I am addicted at getting a good deal.  I rarely pay full price for anything, and have a gazillion store e-mails sent to me letting me know when there are new markdowns or sales.  While most see this as a good thing, I am totally addicted to taking advantage of every sale.  And let me tell you, there is always a sale.  For example, I have bought five pair of boots this year, all on sale, all for great prices.  But, do I really need five pairs of new boots?  I say yes, but Joel disagrees.  I'm not one that likes clutter in the house.  But, I may have taken over our entire bedroom closet and relegated Joel to the hall closet for his clothes.  Whoops?!

Image found here.
2.  Carbohydrates - While trying to lose weight, carbs in large quantities are a big no-no.  But I can't help it, I love me some bread and pasta.  It is so hard to go out to eat and not munch on the free bread they set down on the table.  And I feel like I am truly addicted to pasta some days.  I feel like I crave it, and I don't know what to do.  If I try to cut it out completely, then I binge and go carb crazy.  It's the strangest thing.  As you'll see, food addictions are a big thing with me, unfortunately.

Image found here.
3.  Sweets - I have a sweet tooth like no other.  Not only is it not good for my waist line, it's not good for my teeth.  I always get a lecture from my dentist, and am actually going in for my first crown pretty soon, which I am absolutely not looking forward to.  I try really, really hard sometimes to give up on the sweet stuff, but I tend to get headaches when I do, which I just don't understand.  I need to get this more under control, for multiple reasons.

Image found here.
4.  Travel - Now, normally this wouldn't be a bad thing.  But I dream big when I travel.  Want to know where my wish list takes me?  Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, South Africa, Russia...I could keep going.  I have Champagne wishes on a beer budget, people.  Luckily, at our current base we were able to buy a house that was 2/3 of our housing allowance and I was able to find a job pretty quickly, which allowed us to save for our recent adventure to the Galapagos.  But, that is most likely not going to be the case, and I struggle with the fact that I may not get to travel to all of the places I want to go and see.

Image found here.
Now, I realize my addictions are "first world problems" and there are people out there with a lot more worries than me.  I am very thankful for the life I live (believe me, the big Man upstairs and I chat about that often), but sometimes, I just have to get stuff out, you know?

What are some of your first world addictions?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Quito, Ecuador

What can I say about Quito.  Well, for one, it totally took me by surprise.  I didn't know what to expect when I got there.  This was my first trip to South America, and it was unfortunately just a stopover on the way to our real trip to the Galapagos.  We landed in Ecuador pretty late Tuesday night, so we really only had one day to explore Quito.  Driving to our hotel, well...Quito wasn't much to look at.  The buildings were pretty run down, it was dark, there were stray dogs everywhere, and I wasn't expecting much out of our time there.  But Quito surprised me in some extraordinary ways.  And I am happy to report some of those good surprises with you.

1.  I had quite possibly the best Latte of my life in Quito, as well as some of the best coffee I have ever had in my life.  The coffee was around $0.50, and the Latte was $2.05.  Take that, Starbucks.  (And you all know that I love me some Starbucks.)

2.  The Ecuadorian people are some of the nicest people I have ever met.  I wish I was one of those people that felt brave enough to take pictures of strangers, but I'm not.  But trust me.  Once I met a few of the locals and felt comfortable enough using my high school level Spanish, I never once felt like I was in any denger walking around the city (of course, still being street smart; I am not a naive traveler).

3.  While individual buildings may not be much to look at, if you put them together, they look quite picturesque.

4.  Ecuadorian tapas are quite yummers!  I may have had one or two (or five-ish).


The biggest empanada I have ever seen.

Weekend Update

Doesn't that sound like you are about to watch an episode of Saturday Night Live?  Good; me, too.  I'm keeping it.

This weekend wasn't all that exciting.  After our busy week on vacation, we decided to keep things fairly low key.  A friend of mine decided to start a book club up, so Friday night we met with a few of her friends to pick a book out (a.k.a. drink wine and chat).  The men watched basketball (and kept the scores from me, the jerky mcjerkerstens), and it was a nice night in.

Saturday we went to St. Louis's 1st Annual Baconfest.  Yep, you heard me right.  Baconfest.  Joel's idea, of course.  It benefited the USO of Missouri, so of course we had to go and check it out.


Kind of disappointing, though.  There were a ton of people, and not very many vendors, so the lines were ridiculously long.  At least the weather was nice, though.  Because Saturday, this happened...

My front porch.

Yep, spring is not a pretty lady this year.  The snow wasn't exactly a surprise, but it wasn't welcome, either. At least it practically begged us to be lazy and settle in for some March Madness watching.  It was a tough weekend of games.  My bracket is practically on life support thanks to Harvard and Florida Gulf Coast University.  I am happy to see that my Hoosiers made it to the Sweet 16, although barely.  But, it was sad to see Butler end their run on such a close, heartbreaking loss.  I'm excited to see how the rest of the tournament plays out!

Link up here!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Vacation of a Lifetime

The Galapagos Islands.  What can I say?  In all of my travels, it is by far my favorite place in the whole world.  I haven't found any place like it.  It seems so real, so natural, so raw, so...untouched.  I plan on a full re-cap, but after 15 hours of travel yesterday, plus going back to work today and class tonight...I need to re-gain some energy, first.  But, I had to give a sneak peek of what there is to come.  And I promise to work on catching up with everyone's blogs in the process.  By the way...I am so upset to hear that Google Reader is going away.  What does everyone use to read their favorite blogs?

Monday, March 11, 2013

About to start our big trip!

Image found here.

Well, folks...the big day is almost upon us!  Today is my last day of work before our big trip.  This will be my fifth continent and twenty-sixth country visited.  I am sure the Internet will be spotty at best, so hang in there with me, ok?  I promise to check in if I can.  Wish me luck!  I am about to check one of my biggest bucket list items off.  2013 is set to be a big year for Joel and I.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Finish the Sentence...

Friday, where have you been all week?  I don't know about anyone else, but this week just dragged on and on.  While I am not looking forward to packing for rour big trip next week, I am looking forward to getting some much needed stuff done around the house.

Being that it's Friday, I recently stumbled upon this fun little link-up.  And since my bloggy brain is fried from school and work this week, I think it would make a great Friday fun post.  I hope you think so, too!

Link up here.
1. People always tell me....they don't know how I do what I do as a military spouse.  Well, it's no secret:  I don't know, either.  I just learn as I live.
2. In the movie based on my would probably flop, because my life hasn't been too exciting so far.  Now, if  a movie was made about my travels, that might be more interesting.  I am about to visit my fifth continent and and twenty-sixth country.
3. Typically, I end up regretting....big purchases for myself.  I don't know why, but I hate blowing money on myself.  Now, if this girl gets a killer deal, all the better.  But, I have been going back and forth for months on whether or not I want to upgrade hair dryers.  A freaking hair dryer, people!
4. I always ask to leave off the....onions.  Blech!  I can barely cook with onion powder, and the thought of a bite of onion makes me want to gag.  Next question!
5. Kim and Kanye really...are overrated.  While I admit to watching trash tv, I just don't find Kim all that fascinating.  I am much more interested in Kourtney and Khloe.  Kanye is a crazy, talented mess, though.  So I might just tune into their reality show someday.
6. My Parents always reminded me...of how not to be.  I love my mom and step dad, but for the most part, I don't want to repeat a lot of their mistakes.  They remind me, unfortunately, of how being so small minded can really limit you in life.
7. Every single day I...pray.  Well, I try to anyways.  While I will never admit to being a Crazy Christian, I do believe God is a part of everything in my life.  I constantly go to Him for guidance.
8. This one time in College...I was really boring.  Ok, that was all the time.  My parents didn't save for me to go to college (probably because to this day I am the only family member with a degree), so I worked 2-3 jobs and hardly had any free time.  College was a pretty boring time in my life, unfortunately.

9. My grossest habit obsession with Q-tips.  I use them at least two to three times a day, and am bad about leaving them in random places in the bathroom and bedroom.  Sorry, Joel!

10. My latest white lie was...probably told when talking to my mom.  She is very confrontational, and I am not.  So, I tell her whatever she wants to hear, usually.

11. I know all the words many 90s rap songs.  I was really into rap as a kid.  Joel says I'm so gangster, and I think I'd have to agree, quite frankly.

12. When I grow up...I want to be happy with what I'm doing.  I want a job where I can make an impact on people and leave a small mark on this world.  I'm still figuring out what this looks like.

13. Sexy time is...umm...I'm gonna pass on this one.

14. I will never, ever...go skydiving and bungee jumping.  Feeling a sensation that I am about to do is not on my bucket list.

15. I think it's hilarious...when New Girl or Modern Family is on tv.  And, I think it's hilarious that Phil Dumphy's character is 99% like my husband.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Babies, babies, babies...

Picture found here.

Two things before I begin this post.  If you read the title of this post and immediately thought of the song "Booties, Booties, Booties," then you and the hubster could be besties.  Secondly, no I am not pregnant.  Just in case any of the Joel's clan is reading this.  So you can stop your excitement now.

So, I want to talk about babies.  I don't know if it's my age or what, but it seems like everyone I know has either just had a baby, is currently pregnant, or is trying to have a baby.  Even one friend, who has suffered from infertility for a while, just flew back from Ethiopia with her son, whom she just adopted (so happy for her!).  Hence, the title.

Joel is ready to go to baby town.  He's four years older than me, which doesn't seem like much, but in this case, it makes a world of difference.  I've never actually seen myself as the mother type.  I love my doggies, and have always felt like the love they give me in return was enough.  I hate giving up my sleeping in time (which, let's face it, has been lacking anyways lately), my ability to live anywhere, despite the school districts, and my general laziness on the homefront (I would make a terrible housewife!).

I've considered adopting someday.  I think it would be great giving a child in need their forever home.  Not that there's anything wrong with making one's own baby, but I have never felt drawn to actually carry a child.  Plus, I'm super scared of needles and have an extremely low tolerance for pain.

I don't really know the point of all of this, except to try and sort my feelings out.  You see, this semester has me observing in one of the local elementary schools, and am starting to really have fun with the kiddos I work with.  They are pretty adorable, if I am being honest, and whether it's my internal clock ticking or some crazy hormones, it's made me almost want  to be a mother now.  And this thought is confusing to me.  Never ever have I had the pain in my ovaries for children.  And I know, at least for the foreseeable future, my lifestyle doesn't allow for the addition of kiddos.

So, I'm not planning on getting pregnant.  But, I will admit that I have been googling "adoption aegencies."  Makes me feel almost grown up.  I just wish that the process wasn't so long.  Joel has friends that have adopted, and said they basically felt like they were creating a dating profile to get a birth family to pick them over other deserving couples.  That certainly doens't sound like fun.  And while I would love to even adopt a child with disabilities, that has the ability to limit where Joel and I go with the military and what direction his career would take.  And that's not exactly fair, either.

So for now, I research.  And we wait.  This time next year we should be finding out where our next "home" should be, and maybe then we will talk a little more seriously.  But for now, I am going to enjoy my time child-free, young, and madly in love.

If you got this fair, thanks for listening to my rambles.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Random thoughts of a military spouse.

I have been compiling a list of thoughts I've had lately that stem from my association as a military spouse.  I've struggled about posting them, because honestly I don't like offending anyone.  I hope that no one that reads my blog takes any of this personally.

Whether you are a part from your significant other for a day, a week, a month, or a are entitled to miss them.  If I am your friend, I want you to be able to lean on me.  If your husband is gone for a week and mine for a year, it is not a contest and I will not make you feel bad for talking to me about it.  Sometimes I think military spouses play the "I have it worse" game, and I hate it.

Being married is not a job.  Is it hard work?  Absolutely!  But I would never say my job is a military spouse.  Would you say your job is as an electrician's spouse or an attorney's spouse?  Absolutely not!  I love my husband, and while parts of this lifestyle are not easy, it is definitely not a job.

It's ok to have your own likes, dislikes, interests, and hobbies.  Spouses do not wear any kind of uniform, unless they serve themselves, and whether your husband is higher or lower ranking than mine, I do not care.  The first question out of anyone's mouth that I meet on base is something along the lines of "where does your husband work/what does he do/what rank is he."  How about asking about me first.  I promise I will do the same.

Do you want them home, or do you not want them home?  Pick a side!  Also, do not assume that I am "weird" or "not married long enough" when I don't like when he goes TDY.  I adore my husband, and at least for the foreseeable future, I will never be happy or relieved when he is called away at the last minute.

Lastly, I want to thank everyone who puts up with this lifestyle.  There are pros, cons, good days, and bad.  And while it's not easy, I don't think the answer is picking on other military spouses.  We all make our own decisions in life, and it's not fair to say someone is right or wrong whether they work or don't work, live off or on base, or love or hate the military lifestyle.  As women (and some men), we need to work together and lift up others in a time of need; not tear them down.

-End of Soapbox-

Monday, March 4, 2013

Today I don't feel like doing anything...

Come on, you know you were totally singing the Bruno Mars song when you read this title!

I am in a lazy mood.  Joel is back home (finally), our trip is coming up super soon, I have my last Monday class ever in my Master's program tonight, and I'm currently at work.  But seriously, I don't feel like doing anything.  I have a ton I want to blog about, but...meh.  I don't feel like it.  I don't know why I've been hit by the lazy bug, but I am deeply infected.  So, hopefully I'll be back to normal tomorrow sp I can recap my weekend, amongst other things.

P.S. I am toying around with a new blog name.  Like what I've changed it to?  If not, let me know.  I'm up for suggestions.

I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend!