30 December 2010

Time is the fire in which we burn

...as a wise man (Delmore Schwartz) once said.

I keep a list of stuff I want to do before I die. It helps keep me motivated and out of the rut I find myself in sometimes. It was a really busy year for me thanks to nursing school, so I'm proud of what I was able to experience this year. My brother and sister and I had planned to go to Ireland in the summer and Australia just sort of happened instead, which was absolutely thrilling and the highlight of my year. These are the list items I accomplished in 2010.

4. Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef (Cairns Australia, 08/14/10)

We were too busy snorkelling and soaking up the sun to bother much with cameras on the reef trip, not to mention it was a little windy and we sacrificed a towel to the Coral Sea, but I got this shot of our first destination: Michaelmas Cay. Lovely little sand island, but it's a bird refuge so the boats anchor just offshore and you can swim in if you like. I did for a tiny moment to adjust my fins, but it smelt like bird poo and the water was feathery, so back out to the reef for me.

29. Volunteer at a USO or at a VA hospital (June/July 2010)
Technically, it wasn't really volunteering, but I think it counts. I learned more than I expected.

32. Go ice-skating (Portland OR, 12/15/10)
It's really sad I've never done this before, but my very good friend took pity on me and we went out on a "Holidate" (get it?) and I skated for two hours without ever falling down. Darn straight I just high-fived myself!

53. Jump off a waterfall (Columbia Gorge OR, 09/09/10)
My Dutch friend came to town on her trip around the world. I took her on a hike (in the rain, don't worry, we brought beer) in the beautiful Columbia Gorge and convinced her and two other poor shivering hikers to jump off a waterfall with me. We chose the 15-foot smaller waterfall because we didn't wish to die. Worth the icy water. She still has all the pictures.

92. Participate in a flash mob event (Portland OR, 12/04/10)
Simple, really, meet a bunch of strangers, do something random and crazy in public together, then disappear. We sang carols and did a 5-minute freeze one Saturday at a mall. Next you'll see me gluing fake eyeballs on trees. Or something.

113. Learn to sandboard (Moreton Island Australia/Florence OR)

Obviously a work in progress, but I discovered the awesomeness that is sandboarding in Australia and was ecstatic when I learned I can do it on pretty much any dune anywhere. Took my Dutchie sandboarding in Florence in September, then dragged my family in November (wouldn't recommend it after rain...the sand is sticky and you go slow and fall harder). My parents tried it. For the win!

One goal I know I'm crossing off in 2011 is #22: Graduate nursing school. Can't wait! :)

21 September 2010

When people say they want to eat your baby, beware.

Australians really don't mess around with naming things. They call it like it is, even when it comes to their food labels. Or should I say especially when it comes to food? We went grocery shopping for lunch one afternoon and found tasty cheese, extra tasty cheese, and Australia's tastiest cheese. When faced with choices such as these, how is one to choose?

Tasty cheese... or extra tasty cheese?

Australia's tastiest cheese!

All the cheese we tasted was delicious, by the way. I think it was mostly aged (white) cheddar.

They also have strange taste in candy there. When I'm craving a sweet snack, the first thing I grab is my handy dandy bag of squirty crazy babies. Or my jelly babies. We thought it was hilarious, but then, we readily admit that our humor is a little twisted.

Ha! they eat babies in Australia!

Little black babies and Sambo

Of course, if the fruity babies aren't your favorite, you can always chow down on some chewy black babies. Mmmmmm.

More on funny food later.

I could really go for a TimTam or a Lamington right now.

04 September 2010

West coast represent, now put your hands up

It’s hard to go from finals to Australia back to studying in less than four weeks. Not the Australia part… the return to the head games of nursing school. Sometimes, when I find a place that is special to me, I get homesick for it after I leave. I say this at risk of sounding like I would rather be anywhere else in the world at any given time, but the wanderlust is a part of my soul and I fell in love with Australia. It’s such a lovely, fascinating, wild country.

I miss the gum trees and the weird, dangerous animals. I miss TimTams and Lamingtons and ginger beer and Vegemite. I miss the obvious system of naming things (examples of dangerous snakes to watch out for: the green tree snake (green and lives in trees) and the red-bellied black snake (black with a red belly, go figure)). I miss being called “lovely” and “sweets” and “doll.” I miss the rainforests and the clear blue water and the accents.

Gum tree in Queensland's Tamborine Rainforest

Once upon a time, I was not a fan of the music of Katy Perry. Bear with me, for a moment. The average Australian has no idea where Oregon is. When they ask where you’re from, they prefer you to be more specific than “I’m American” in the unlikely event that you’re from either California or New York. We found that the handiest description is “the state just north of California*,” since everyone know where that is, and they usually respond with “ohhhhhh… west coast!” Whereupon we teach them the gangsta sign for west coast and the Katy Perry song “California Gurls” comes on the radio. On our trip to Moreton Island, the scenario I have just described took place, and when our tour guide’s iPod shuffled to California Gurls, he took special pride in pointing it out to us. I like to think that from now on, when that song plays, the Aussies I met will think of me. Katy Perry says we're unforgettable. Not that I'm from Cali, but I did live there for awhile...

Bridge in Brisbane

*Once in awhile, we’d just ask if they’d ever played the computer game Oregon Trail, and usually someone had heard of it. Or we’d talk about cowboys and Indians and the gold rush.

01 September 2010

Sand toboganning in The Desert

One of my favorite days in Australia was a trip to Moreton Island off the coast near Brisbane. It's the second largest sand island in the world and home to the largest free-standing sand dunes. Among the many things we did that day was sandboarding (like snowboarding, but on sand dunes) and sand toboganning in "The Desert."

This video is my spectacular wipeout*, followed by my little brother's. Little sister was nice enough to video and laugh hysterically.

*Doesn't hurt... SO MUCH FUN. Seriously. Go do this immediately.

Headfirst gets you down the fastest, but you can ride sitting like a normal toboggan, or even double.

Stand up boards take the most skill. Our guide, Josh, told us "Put 40 percent of your weight on the front foot and 60 on the back" and after we all wiped out over and over, his critique was "I told you 60-40. You're like, 100 on the back foot. Of course you're falling down." It was hysterical.

28 August 2010

Abridged Schedule of Events in the Land of Oz

Day 1/2: Day of flights from hell (PDX-LAX-Auckland-Brisbane)
Day 3: Raining in Brissie. Botanical Gardens, shopping.
Day 4: Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Brisbane Art Gallery
Day 5: Flight to Cairns
Day 6: Sunbathing. Shopping. Bats in trees.
Day 7: Fitzroy Island... hiking and swimming on the coral beaches of paradise
Day 8: Great Barrier Reef trip on the Passions of Paradise catamaran. Mind blown.
Day 9: Markets, bungy jumping at AJ Hackett Cairns - 50 meters. Backwards.
Day 10: Sleeping in, shopping, sunbathing
Day 11: Trinity Beach north of Cairns, party party party
Day 12: Hanging out with new friends at hostel, return to Brisbane
Day 13: Walking tour of dowtown Brisbane, Southbank and Kangaroo Point, pub crawl
Day 14: Friends, pub crawl
Day 15: Dinner with Sam's friends
Day 16: Tamborine rainforest trip + beer, cheese and wine tasting
Day 17: Brisbane Museum
Day 18: Moreton Island trip + FWDing, sandboarding and snorkelling shipwrecks
Day 19: Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast
Day 20/21: Day of flights from hell.

07 August 2010

Going to Oz to see the Wizard about a brain

Off to Queensland, Australia for a blissful three weeks!

Maybe I'll send you a didgeridoo.

10 July 2010

It's the most wonderful time of the year

Pre-final article round-up time. Click the links. They are funny. And short.

Pulpo Paul was correct in predicting the Germans would beat Uruguay to take third place (3-2 final), but it was an entertaining match and the Uruguayans led for a fair portion. How Paul the Octopus ruined Germany's Cup dream.

In regard to the absurd number of handballs that have changed results this cup, what would happen if FIFA applied Sharia law. In my opinion, France would not have been in the Cup at all but for Henry's double handball to send them through over Ireland, but I don't think Suarez's handball against Ghana would be talked about still had Gyan put away his penalty instead of bouncing it off the bar. To be fair to Suarez, any other professional in his place would have done exactly as he did.

Rafael van der Vaart of the Netherlands reflects on his teammate Wesley Sneijder's success this Cup. "I suspect he (Sneijder) has a gold vuvuzela in his pants."

Finally, an article that pretty much describes why I'm supporting Spain over Holland for the final, even though I love them both. La Furia Roja, Pulpo Paul thinks you have what it takes and so do I.

07 July 2010

vuvuzela fever

School break came just in time for the World Cup semifinals... the last day of break is the final. Spain and the Netherlands are playing for the title. Not only do I adore both teams, but there will be a new World Cup Champion. There have been only 7 winners in 18 cups. I love the World Cup. My life is consumed by soccer for 64 games of bliss. I watch it in class. I watch it in pubs. I watch it at hospital. It is my heart.

And I want a vuvuzela.

20 April 2010

Hey look! I'm trendy!

Dear blog traffic,

If you got here by googling "Sergio Ramos," I feel that your needs could be better served by clicking the link on the right under "footy." Or just go here: Kickette.com. Stalk away, my darlings. :)

I swear I referenced a picture Sergio only once. Yoann Gourcuff is my footballer du jour. On that note, Sergio and Joan say hello. (AP)

17 April 2010

Americana: Life in Color

I inherited my wanderlust from my parents. My dad loves to hike and explore nature for hours on end, and while my mom enjoys that, she usually leans more toward educational/historical attractions. Naturally, my family loves to roadtrip since everybody gets a little piece of their favorite activity.

Our last family roadtrip was in the summer of 2007. My mom and youngest siblings drove from Oregon to Wisconsin to collect my middle sister from school, then headed south. My dad, brother and I flew into Ohio to meet them. We drove all the way to like the third Florida Key and back to Oregon (9000 miles, if you were counting). To my family, this is not crazy. This is Adventure. Of course, if you were to ask them what it's like to travel with five of their six children, plus a friend of my sister's, they would tell you it's annoying. I'm pretty sure that's a lie, though, cuz I'm super-fun. Obviously. Especially in constricted living quarters.

Here's a few of my favorite pictures from the trip.

Hannah and Sam playing on the edge of the Cherohala Skyway in North Carolina

Imposing lady figure on some important building in Savannah, Georgia

For those of you familiar with Pirates of the Caribbean, this is my sister recreating the scene in which Tia Dalma casts the crustacean claws to divine the location of the Flying Dutchman. "A touch... of DESTINY!"

We were in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, eating bouillabaisse and other cajun delights.

A fishing pier in Ft. de Soto, Florida. My first sugar sand beach. :)

The sibs in front of a piece of the Berlin wall in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Home to the huge concrete Jesus.

I love going places. I hate being trapped in the city by nursing school. Most of the time. Nursing school is exciting. :)

13 April 2010

This program is brought to you by caffeine and the voices in my head

I'm down to the last two weeks of my first semester of nursing school. It's my poor excuse for my lack of posting, but if you're really curious about what my life is like now, go check out my parallel universe at http://la-futbolista.blogspot.com/. I'm keeping the nursing school stuff separate for all of you who don't like blood, needles, and stories about poop and crazy people... as well as for me, because sometimes I just need a happy place.

Please excuse me while I go study my brains out.

27 March 2010

My life is not the movies.

I watched Taken for the first time last night. It was intense, so I'm glad I didn't watch it before my trip to France last summer, and as it was, pre-departure conversations went like this:

"You're going where? Paris? OMG YOU'RE GONNA GET TAKEN!"

Not that I get into taxis with strangers. Or even take taxis, for that matter.

More ironic is the U2 European tour connection. If you've seen the movie, you know that the two girls who are taken headed to Europe to follow U2 on tour for the summer. When I was in Barcelona, we couldn't go into Camp Nou (FC Barcelona's soccer stadium) because U2 was warming up for a concert. We took some pictures with some cute Italian guys, but nothing too wild.

We traveled smart ...most of the time. We didn't get taken.

20 March 2010

oh, the places you ...should be... going!

Lately, no one lets me talk about my trips except to beg for my secrets. Which is fine. Everyone should travel!

Brussels: the center of the universe

How I Traveled Europe (relatively) Cheaply:

  1. Buy a EuRail pass!
  2. Don't eat out a lot... shop at grocery stores. I found a 3€ bottle of wine that was sold for 16€ in a restaurant.
  3. Stay with friends if you have them conveniently located, otherwise hostels or small hotels are your best bet.
  4. Skip the major tourist attractions if you're not absolutely dying to go... in Paris, I went to the Louvre but climbed up Montmartre for a view instead of the Eiffel Tower.
  5. Allow spontaneity. The best times are rarely planned.
  6. If you get the opportunity to go someplace, take it.

My uncle was recently nonplussed when I confessed I did not know the price of beer in Belgium.

04 March 2010

I can unscrew the stars

It's spring break!

Alas, there will be none of this.

La Playa Badalona, Barcelona

I'll be building up my brain muscles instead. Such is the life of the nursing student.

So... about those beers, we bought them in a little shop while we were walking to the beach, but it was so hot (July in Spain, go figure) that the beers were warm by the time we got there. In less than 10 minutes. Gross.

09 February 2010

Caffeine Addict

Coffee around the World


They call coffee “Finnish plasma,” therefore, it must be in my blood. I remember being a little girl and staring in fascination at my dad’s morning mug, wondering when I’d be old enough to drink it. When my parents let me have my own cup of coffee, I was stubborn enough to forego milk and sugar and drink it black, just like my dad.

I became a barista just after turning 17, and I spent the next three years of life honing my coffee snobbery to a fine point. It helped having been raised in the Pacific Northwest, birthplace to Starbucks and all its caffeine competitors. My parents owned an independent coffee shop for awhile, and they sold beans from a micro-roaster in Boise, ID, whose personal mission was to make sure the quality of their coffee matched their quality of service. Dawson Taylor has the best coffee I’ve ever tasted in this country. The end.

One thing I’ve discovered while exploring is that no matter the prevalence of coffee in a nation’s culture, it will probably never reach the to-go paper cup status it is in America. Everywhere else I’ve been, even if they don’t drink that much of it, it’s usually a sit-down affair.


Haven’t spent that much time in Italy (yet), but espresso bars make my heart go pitter-pat. In the train station in Milan, men in pin-striped business suits stood around the espresso bar counters, ignoring their morning newspapers and the pigeons flapping overhead under the lofty ceiling, gesticulating and chattering and sipping delicately out of tiny white cups full of rich, dark deliciousness.

On the train, a man in an apron pushed a cappuccino cart up and down the narrow aisle, I tested my barista (pronounced bah-ree-sta, none of that short I business) lingo on him because I was desperate for a caffeine fix. It worked! However, should you find yourself attempting rail travel in Italy, go to the train station espresso bars. The coffee is much better.


I love Holland. I spent a few days in Amsterdam and then wandered up north to visit a friend and spend several rather glorious days with her. In my experience, Dutch hospitality is “would you like something to drink?” upon moments of meeting. If it’s after 11am, this means beer. If it’s still morning, it means cappuccino. Cappuccino is a rather loose term here, unlike Italian beverages of mostly espresso and milk foam, Dutch cappuccinos are more like an American latte. Served in a huge cup with plenty of raw sugar to stir in, they are one of the best reasons to go out in grey, drizzly mornings. Sometimes you even get a koekje.

Note: Dutch purveyors of delightful caffeinated beverages should not be confused with the more distinctive "coffee shops", distinguishable in passing by the delicate aroma of marijuana lingering oppressively in the air.


I just drank tea. And beer and cider. : )


While I drank quite a lot of coffee in France, I suspect my hosts took pity on me and mostly just made it for me. The French have all the fancy liqueurs to put it, though. My favorite was served at the wedding I attended. At first, the waiters came around with their fancy little pots and tiny paper tubes of sugar. They caught on quickly though, and soon brought out the big one. I was seated at a table full of young adults, furthest from the kitchen, and we were seeking a solution to the wine we’d already consumed and we were getting ready to dance the night away. It was bitter, hot and pungent. It was perfect.


I don’t remember how much coffee the Kiwis consume, or what’s special about theirs, apart from my first morning in New Zealand. We were taken to a McDonalds Café for breakfast (who said anything about trying new things??) where there was plenty of American-style breakfast pastries and latte. Later on the trip, my friend Mel and I found a tiny walk-up coffee cart in a small town on the North Island called Bulls. It was just like an average American drive-thru coffee shop, but much tinier, and they sold apricot fudge. I think the coffee was pretty good. Honestly, I think by that point my caffeine withdrawals were just happy to be soothed (my professor kept trying to feed me instant coffee *le sigh*).

I’ve also tried the tiny cupfuls of Colombian coffee that are so rich and dark it’s like drinking syrup. I can’t wait to go to Finland to check out the coffee and sauna culture there… my dad, grandfather and uncle went to visit family there a couple of years ago.

And my dirty little secret… Dunkin’ Donuts French vanilla coffee with milk and sugar got me through my year of college in Boston. What can I say? It was only a dollar and change, and the store was open all night. I think happy though when I get to the baggage claim at Logan airport and I can smell it. Don't judge.

Cheers all, and have a cuppa. Of the good stuff.

Also, if you miss me, check out my other corner of the web in which I rant about being a nursing student. ;)

*First two images courtesy of Google.

30 January 2010

season of looooooove

One of the most annoying aspects of my life is people writing me off as soon as they hear I've been somewhere awesome. Anywhere other than the states that bound Oregon. Which is a grand total of four, if you were counting.

The problem with this is that my travel defines me.

For example, one day I felt beautiful:

It was a sunny July day in Barcelona. B and I were walking back to our hostel from the beach, our hair damp, our skin tanned by the Riviera rays. We were walking through Badalona and a man stepped out of a shop. He was lighting up a cigarette, but he was entirely still for a moment as he looked at me. I was salty from the Mediterranean, but I wore no makeup. He looked like Sergio Ramos.

I think that what sticks with me is that he made me feel beautiful without ever uttering a word. He was in a hurry, but not so much that he didn't notice me.

I don't have to be pretty all the time. Being appreciated is nice. And let me say that I miss Spain once in awhile.

21 January 2010

Sometimes people are embarassed by me

Keep in mind that these pictures are from my New Zealand/Hawaii trip three years and I have honed my skills* since then. ;) I also ditched the bangs. Which you can't see in these pictures (I win again!)

We had a bunch of picky eaters along for the ride. That was just too bad for them in New Zealand, but during our two days on O'ahu, we were taken to the Ala Moana mall and told to fend for ourselves. The first time I ate Hawaiian food, the second... well, we decided to wander off to the beach and sneak back before our meet-up time.

I met this palm tree. It could not withstand my super powers.

Then we went to the Big Island. We were taken to the Halema'uma'u Crater and lectured on volcano trivia. I tried to take notes, but I was swallowed by the earth.

At Akaka Falls State Park, since I hike more than some people on the trip, I was back in the parking lot following the waterfalls loop hike sooner than they were. This picture is just good location and timing and the sneakiness of my friend Jeff.

Apropos, n'est-ce pas?

Now do you see why some people pretend not to know me?

I also recently learned that the more random a file name I use for a photo, the more ridiculous the search is that leads people to this blog. Things that have absolutely nothing to do with what this blog is about. It's a sort of poetic justice, I would say. Hello, random Google readers! Please don't be scared!

*Said skills include wildly erratic behavior and making my mother pretend she doesn't know me.

16 January 2010

Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.

Something that's been close to my heart for awhile now is about to go big. I began following The Buried Life after I read an interview with them in brass magazine in February 2008. The Buried Life is four young men who decided that life is more than a rat race, made a list of thing they wanted to do before they died, and set about accomplishing those things. Now they travel the country asking strangers "What do YOU want to do before you die?" and they've partnered with MTV to share their exploits with the world. The Buried Life premieres Monday, January 18th at 10.

Part of the awesomeness of it all is that for everything they cross off on their list, they help a stranger with theirs. For what it's worth, here's mine.

1. Sing 'Waltzing Matilda' at an Australian rugby match
2. Go to a World Cup soccer game
3. Spend a summer volunteering in a third world country
4. Dive and snorkel the Great Barrier Reef
5. Drive a bobsled
6. Learn to surf big waves
7. Ride in a bulldozer scoop
8. Write down my grandfather's story and the story of the SS Star of Oregon
9. Live in another country
10. Become fluent in at least one other language
11. Skydive
12. Fly a helicopter
13. Go rock-climbing
14. Go on an Athletes in Action soccer mission trip
15. Learn to salsa dance
16. Roadtrip down the Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible with a friend
17. Marry the man of my dreams
18. Wear a really big hat to the Kentucky Derby
19. See the running of the bulls in Pamplona and drink sangria at a bullfight
20. Learn basic car maintenance
21. Be a Soldier's Angel
22. Graduate nursing school
23. Owe nothing to anyone by 2020
24. Learn to listen like I'm the only other person alive
25. Hike the Patagonia
26. Mine for rubies
27. Climb Denali
28. Design, make and sell a line of clothing
29. Volunteer at a USO or a VA hospital
30. Date a professional soccer player
31. Jump a horse on a cross-country course
32. Go ice-skating
33. Get a tattoo
34. Grant a child's wish
35. Go back to Queenstown and do the Nevis Highwire Bungy
36. Interview a soccer player for publication
37. Visit the Devil's Swimming Pool at the top of Victoria Falls
38. Walk all the way around an island
39. Go waterskiing/wakeboarding
40. Work on a Hollywood film
41. Attend a major sporting event (TOUR DE FRANCE)
42. Touch the World Cup
43. Celebrate Carnaval in Brasil
44. Cruise the Mediterranean on a sailing ship
45. Learn to snowboard have a go at heli-boarding
46. Party with rockstars
47. Kiss Ben Barnes
48. Find a way to help provide underprivileged kids with soccer opportunities
49. Own a pair of Christian Louboutins
50. Write a book for my future children
51. Publish a photograph
52. Learn ballroom dancing
53. Jump off a waterfall
54. Give the commencement address at a graduation
55. Take a boat trip down the Nile
56. Drive the 007 car really fast ...the Aston Martin Vanquish
57. Visit Alaska, Kentucky, Maryland and Delaware... the four states I have yet to see
58. Re-enact LIFE magazine's picture of the sailor kissing the nurse on V-J Day 1945
59. Visit every continent
60. Go backstage at a big concert
61. Ride in a hot-air balloon
62. Model on a runway
63. Learn to play an instrument
64. Drive a tank
65. See the new Seven Wonders of the World
66. Help build a house... even if it's just painting
67. Taste Dom Pérignon
68. See a Shakespeare play at the Globe
69. Ride a (really big) roller coaster
70. Do a back handspring
71. Hang glide
72. Stay in a hotel on stilts over water (Bora Bora or the Maldives)
73. Learn to read and write Arabic
74. Attend a fashion show in Milan, Paris or New York
75. Dance with a celebrity
76. Take up archery
77. Sponsor a needy child
78. Help someone out through Make-a-Wish
79. Go four-wheeling on sand dunes with my brothers
80. Help put my two youngest siblings through college
81. Commit random acts of kindness every day for a month
82. Feel the heat on my face from a space shuttle launch
83. Stand in each of the world's major seas
84. Spend a summer in Spain and Portugal with Melanie
85. Adopt a "grandparent" in a nursing home
86. Ride a motorcycle
87. Start and maintain a travel blog
88. Yodel in the Alps
89. Fly a fighter jet in Cape Town, South Africa
90. Talk to a politician in Pig Latin
91. Spend a night in the Ice Hotel in Sweden
92. Participate in a flash mob event
93. Read all the way through Shakespeare's canon
94. Get my carry permit
95. Backpack Europe on my own
96. Get over my fear of public singing
97. Learn capoeira
98. Contribute to research on breathing disorders/kick asthma's butt
99. Play paintball
100. Meet a Medal of Honor winner
101. Call Jake Owen
102. Convince a local Italian boy to take me on a moped tour of his town
103. Participate in a hash
104. Go the Oberammergau Passion Play
105. Play swamp soccer in Finland

What do you want to do before you die? Wanna help me with my list? I'll return the favor. Anyway, check 'em out on Facebook. They're cool.