2012 explorations have come to an end, wonderful as they were. i frolicked with friends through rock city’s christmas light display in chattanooga, spent one december weekend with 18 of my best friends in the coolest cabin in blue ridge, trekked home for the holidays to be with my family in ohio, & finally crossed “visiting michigan" off my bucket list over new years. overall, one successful season.
up & coming, we’ve got a potential trip to california for spring break, an indiana may wedding, & a possible extended cross-continental journey (can’t disclose the location quite yet) this summer. oh yes. i smell adventure for 2013.
so far, this final semester has held work, work & more work. that puts a bit of a damper on roadtrips near & far, but i’m a firm believer that you make your own adventures. that’s why i’ve been trying to be intentional about going to one new place a week, even if it’s just around the cleveland/chattanooga area. it’s my last semester in this beautiful place - why waste it?
week 1’s adventure began on a cold, drizzly day. unfortunately, i have a terrible habit of taking drives on days like these, & on this day, i ended up on highway 60 (which is basically the middle of the boonies) heading nowhere in particular. i’m a history nerd, so i get super jazzed about stuff related to the trail of tears, & that is why i made a quick right turn after seeing a crudely drawn sign about a “trail of tears memorial park” nearby.
i was actually just planning on driving around it, but then there was this cute, wooden gazebo & i just can’t resist a nice gazebo. i’m glad i made the little trek up to it because i got to sit & look at this for a while..
just me & fog & the sound of (NOISY) birds. lots of birds. lots & lots of birds. why the heck was it so noisy? & it all sounded like it was coming from down the road. so me, being curious, nosy me, decided to follow the sound. & i ended up here..
(me & gazebos. gosh.)
[photo credit: not me]
these guys! 1,000 acres of all kinds of animals, but mostly cranes. thousands of sandhill cranes & 4 whooping cranes. how do i know this? because of the precious little 80-year-old crane expert who i ended up bird-watching with for 45 minutes. dawww. he looked a bit like…
mr. frederickson! (only he was a lot happier & HE had the binoculars in this case) & sniff. it was precious.
week 2’s adventure was slightly more planned. the roomie & i had a free sunny saturday afternoon (a rarity) so we drove to chattanooga for the day. i’d never been to her favorite overlook up on lookout mountain, so we mountain-goated down a short path & found ourselves on sunset rock.
obviously the crappy quality of my phone does not do it justice, but it was a seriously beautiful day to be there. we also ran into some students from a nearby university rappelling down the rocks to our right. yeah. yikes.
missed an adventure last week because of freaking grown up responsibilities (buh.) but don’t you worry. i’ll catch up. there are always new things to see if you have your eyes open..
and with this quote, i leave you for today..
"take wrong turns. talk to strangers. open unmarked doors. and if you see a group of people in a field, go find out what they are doing. do things without always knowing how they’ll turn out. you’re curious and smart and bored, and all you see is the choice between working hard and slacking off. there are so many adventures that you miss because you’re waiting to think of a plan. to find them, look for tiny interesting choices. and remember, you are always making up the future as you go."
- randall munroe
the travel bug.
it’s about time for this blog to get back to its original purposes. i never blog much because i also journal daily, so it seems repetitive to post my thoughts in my journal AND on tumblr - and on twitter… and on facebook occasionally, too. (oh, the joys of social media)
what i’m trying to say is that i need a reason to write, & this blog was set up to be a travel blog - and so a travel blog it shall be. traveling is one of my passions in this world, but i’ve learned over the past year that you don’t always need to go far in order to have good adventures to write about. sometimes the best, most memorable trips are the ones that don’t necessarily involve leaving the continent.
that being said, i’m a very live-in-the-moment kind of person, but i also must have things to look forward to in order to conjure up any sort of daily motivation. let’s be honest. i’m a part-time 5th year lee senior and i work at domino’s pizza. motivation is waning, especially when all my friends are moving awesome places & having big adventures of their own. i graduate in may, and i refuse to wish away my last semester in cleveland, but i have to be able to know that i’m going places in the meantime.
a few upcoming adventures include..
[rock city, chattanooga]
[lebanon, ohio - thanksgiving! :)]
[blue ridge, georgia]
"tell me - what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
- mary wilder
It’s been a lazy morning thus far. Being a part-time student definitely has its perks.. & one of mine this semester happens to be no class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This morning in particular has been especially lazy, as it’s almost 2 pm and I’m still curled up on the couch in my pajamas with a cup of coffee and Sunday morning’s leftover Cracker Barrel pancakes. (I’m not really that sorry, if we’re being honest.)
As much as it feels like just another day, though, I know that it’s not. Today is September 11th, which means that this is the 11th anniversary of one of the most startling and tragic days in recent American history. 11 years ago at this time, the day’s damage had already been done. The planes had already crashed, the last of the towers had crumbled, people walked around in a daze as shock set in, with panic not too far behind. Families stayed glued to the television, hoping against hope that their loved ones would walk in the door that night, safe and sound, just like they always did. Husbands, wives, daughters, sons, lovers, fathers, mothers, friends - united with the prayer that somehow, each of their missing would be found. That by some miracle, everything would be okay.
For other families, the grief had already begun. They were already counting their losses. Some were faced with the truth immediately the moment they heard that a plane had somehow collided with a World Trade Center tower and realized that their child or their husband or their best friend.. had been on that flight. Others had received frantic calls from their loved ones in the Towers or on the planes telling them the final, important things one would tell another in the last few minutes of life.
At this time 11 years ago, the day’s damage was done, but the pain, the despair, the overwhelming desire to ask “how could this happen?” was just beginning. A graveyard now stood in the Towers’ place. Half the Pentagon had burned away. Four planes never made it down another airport landing strip. And Americans were left in chaos trying to pick up the pieces. The final death toll of that day: 2,977. That means there were 2,977 men, women and children who opened their eyes just as I did on that morning of September 11th, 2001 having no idea what the day held, having no idea the horror that was coming.
11 years later, we have almost completely rebuilt the physical structural damage. Memorials have been constructed, flags are being flown, the most patriotic songs are playing on the radio, and slowly our nation has fought to heal. 11 years later, citizens have adjusted so well that to some, the thousands of September 11th tweets and blog posts and facebook status updates seem almost overkill. To a few, September 11th may even pass without so much as a thought. To others, though, this day marks the worst 24 hours of their existence. It is estimated that over 20% of Americans knew someone personally who had been hurt or killed in the attacks. That is a staggering percentage. Yes, it’s been 11 years since that day, but at least 20% of our country is still hurting. Time supposedly heals all wounds, but can one really heal from the loss of 2,819 human souls in just 11 years?
That being said, I cannot pretend that this day severely affected my life. I did not lose anyone. I was not standing there watching the Towers burn. I was not at an airport about to board a flight. I didn’t receive a phone call. It wasn’t a direct hit for me. But after watching the news today and looking at pictures of the memorials all over the country, I am reminded, yet again, that I am not the only one that matters.
For those of us who were not in that 20%, let us remember those that were. We may not be touched by grief today, we may not be personally remembering a life that was lost, we may not have been there or seen the things that others did, but let us lift up in prayer today the ones who are hurting, the ones who are suffering and grieving and mourning - the ones who are missing someone today.
Today let us remember all of the victims of September 11th - the ones who lost their lives, and the ones who are still piecing theirs back together.
all you need is love.
Took this on the banks of the Tiber in Rome.
"I love you from here to the end of the world, from here to infinity."
Turns out love looks the same on every continent.
no place like home.
Remember that one time I promised regular posts from all sorts of exotic locations?
Yeah. I do, too.
Remember how I didn’t update AT ALL while I was gone because I’m A FAILURE OF A BLOGGER?
Yeah, I remember that, too. Whoops.
Ok, now that we got THAT straight..
Hello from the great/flat/corn-filled/friendly small town of Lebanon, Ohio. As of April 9th, I’m officially, once again, a resident of the USA. It really is good to be back. I heard all sorts of horror stories about how I wouldn’t fit in and how I wouldn’t be able to get adjusted to American culture and how I’d be depressed for weeks. Well, apparently I’m just an adaptable person or I have the best friends ever (or both?) because the transition hasn’t been nearly as hard as I expected. I braced myself for some serious culture shock.
Yeah, things are different. You pay at the end of a meal instead of the beginning. Coffee and tea with milk isn’t as popular. Ain’t no family-friendly pubs here. I have to drive on the OTHER side of the road. I had to deal with the fact that I moved five hours back in time when I came back (jet lag SUCKS!). People smile at me on the sidewalks (aaah, now that I can handle). The pace is a bit faster, the food is quite a bit cheaper and the weather is SIGNIFICANTLY sunnier.
Needless to say, I do miss Europe. However, while it is different being back, it’s a good different. If we traveled all the time we wouldn’t be able to appreciate the adventure of traveling! Humans can get used to anything. Traveling gets old if you are constantly on the go. In the same way, if we only stay at home and never venture out anywhere beyond what we consider safe, we lose the joy of being at home, of being in a place that’s familiar. You need to leave every now and then to be reminded of the value of that. It’s all about balance. I think if there’s one thing I’m working on, it’s to gracefully accept the change of every season; to appreciate every moment and to cherish every memory, but to also learn how to let go and move forward to make room for new memories. What’s life if lived only in the past?
My time in Cambridge was incredible, but that season has ended and it’s time to embrace this new one. The adventures don’t stop just because I’ve left Europe. There are bigger and better ones up ahead.
The current “adventure” right now is finishing up my (groan) 20-pg. research paper and a Jude the Obscure (ugh) paper so I can hurry up and get my SUMMER started. Brother graduates high school in May, I’m a part-time nanny starting in June and July marks my infamous 21st birthday. Aka - should be a fairly epic summer. ;)
Now that my internet’s reliable, I might update a leeetle more often. Might. Key word.
Look both ways before you cross the street, dear friends.
let the adventure begin!
Well, friends, the weeks of planning and stressing and countless Facebook threads filled with links of hostels and train schedules and bus tickets have finally paid off. Tomorrow morning at 6:20 am (which would be in approximately 2 hours) Ashley, Caleb and I leave the Hamilton in beloved Cambridge for the last time (I refuse to dwell on that too much) on a bus headed to Heathrow Airport in London, where from there, I’ll board a plane at 12:25 destined for…
ATHENS, GREECE (I’m SO excited!)
Our trip’s changed slightly from what we decided upon our initial arrival here in Cambridge. We had to get rid of Prague because of price and Brussels because of time, so the final, FINAL itinerary looks like this:
March 25th - March 30th: Athens, Greece (with a few day trips in there)
March 30th – April 4th: Rome, Florence, and Venice, Italy
April 4th – April 8th: Barcelona, Spain (with maybe a day trip in there)
I know a lot of people who have planned their trips as somewhat of a whirlwind type deal trying to see everything they possibly can - and that’s fantastic!
That’s just not me.
I picked the three countries I wanted to see most and stuck to those. The majority of my travel I’m viewing as a chill vacation. Though we’ve had some down time here in Cambridge, looking at the big picture, we haven’t had much time to rest. I would not have done a thing differently, but this independent travel is my chance to people-watch and explore and rest at my own pace (for the most part).
I amso sad to be leaving the Hamilton and all of the fantastic memories I’ve made in Cambridge, but I just keep trying to remember that, though I’m saying goodbye to one adventure, I’m saying hello to another. Come 6:20, once my hiking pack is ready and sitting by the door and I’m dressed and showered and goodbyes have been said, two weeks of adventures await me, and I’ll be as ready as I’ll ever be.
Τα λέμε σύντομα, friend! Next post from Athens, Greece. ( HOLY CRAP. )