Saturday, November 21, 2009

The tales of a 6,000 mile trek...

Another month has passed since I wrote! Time flies when you're retired. :) I'm calling myself retired, because it sounds better than unemployed, which I am. But I chose this, so I feel a little bad about saying that. I've had several people give me that "oh you poor thing" look when I tell them I'm not working currently. Given the economy these days, its understandable. But the fact that I chose this makes me feel differently I guess. I don't want sympathy - I'm absolutely loving this time off!

So, since I last wrote, I have driving over 6,000 miles! I spent about a week in Northern CA -the Davis area mostly. Then I drove up to Seattle to meet my mom. We spent 2 days in Seattle where it rained basically the entire time! We had a great time wandering around anyway in the rain! I love Pike Place Market (as does mom), so we spent a fair bit of time wandering through there. Then we went to Moses Lake, WA to my cousin Elizabeth's family's place for her son Dash's first b-day. It was a great time! We spent the night there and then headed up to Chelan, WA. My mom, aunt Helen, and uncle Jim and I went to visit Holden Village in northern WA. The three of them worked there in the summer of 1968 and none of them had been back since 1969!

So, we took a boat 1.5 miles up Lake Chelan and then got off and onto an old school bus and made the 12-mile trip up to Holden Village (an old copper mine turned into a Lutheran retreat center). We spent two days wandering around the village listening to the three of them reminiscing about the old days and remember bits and pieces from their stay there over 40 years ago! It was a beautiful location and we all had a great time!

After 2 days, we went back down the scary switchbacks, this time in an old church van, and back down the lake. We drove to Spokane Valley, WA where my aunt and uncle live and spent several fabulous days there! We explored the local area, went for walks, saw a fun musical, and looked at lots of pictures!

Then mom and I drove down to Portland and stayed with friends we met when Heidi and her family lived there. It was fun to see them! Then mom and I began our trip down the Oregon coast. We headed first to Tillamook and then went south after stopping for some amazing cheese and ice cream. We took three days to go down the coast and absolutely loved all the views! We ended up in San Francsico for a couple days before mom flew out. What a fun trip!

Then after a couple more days in San Francisco with Cate and some friends (and a fabulous Halloween night in the city), I went back to Davis for a little bit. Highlights of this visit included dinner with Leah and Linus and high tea with Cate and Leah. Davis truly is a fun city!

Then it was back on the road for the trip east. I stopped in Salt Lake City one night and then on to Colorado Springs. Spent the weekend with great friends - Whitney and Seth - and got to see Wicked in Denver too! Then I was back up to Laramie for a week to visit all the great people there. It was a fun week!

I made the trek back to Iowa and got to spend about a day in Ames on the way, which is always fun. Now I'm back in the Quad Cities and I'm enjoying being settled, getting back into working out, and enjoying each day.

I'm working hard now to apply for jobs and there are lots of opportunities. I've had one phone interview with a follow-up interview in a few weeks for a job in China. I'm still researching and haven't decided what I want at this point. There are also some new opportunities in Ecuador, Chile, and France that I'm working on. Basically, I'm learning a lot about the process and feel like the ideal job will appear in time. In the meantime, I'm happy and enjoying this fun journey!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Catch up...

Well I'm in sunny CA now hanging out for a bit. I'm headed up to Seattle in a day to meet my mom, visit some family, and drive down the Pacific Coast. It should be great!

I posted a bunch of pictures to my picasa site from my time in the Tetons including some cool pictures of the sunset and the forest fires that flared up near the end of my time there. Here's a link if you want to see more:

The time in the Tetons were very fun - but I was glad to go when I did. I met some great people and had some good experiences for sure!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The journey is the destination

Today was amazing and I was able to go on a great hike! Not to worry friends, I was on a heavily trafficked trail near Jenny Lake. I never went more than 5 minutes without seeing some other hikers. And the best part - this hike was gorgeous! I saw hidden falls and inspiration point and then walked up through a gorgeous canyon and had amazing views of the mountains.While hiking, I had a lot of thoughts about life and where things are going for me. Perhaps it was being in the gorgeous outdoors or spending time at inspiration point, but whatever it was, it was interesting. I'm not sure if its because I'm currently surrounded by retired people (most of our guests are retired, since schools have started) or just being in this gorgeous area, but I've decided retirement is a good idea. I also wonder why we have to wait until we're in our 60s to enjoy some much deserved down-time. Now, I have said for a long time that people should get to retire first and then work, but clearly that plan hasn't come to fruition yet. :)

It has inspired me to find ways to enjoy the things that make me happy even while I'm working. Or perhaps its just that my perspective has changed. What's important has shifted for sure. I used to be focused on making money and gathering all these amazing things - and now I'm focused on having time to enjoy myself and time with people I care about. Clearly things have little importance to me these days, as literally most everything I own fits into my tiny Honda Civic!

I guess its just nice to be on a path that feels right to me in so many ways. I'm allowed to have the time to hike on a Monday afternoon and even when I work, I get an amazing view of the mountains. I guess I'm just realizing there's more to life than getting ahead. Not that I've ever been that driven in that way, but its interesting nonetheless. I'm excited for what the future holds and am enjoying this new perspective and way of life. I feel more relaxed now than I have ever before, and there's something to be said for that. Life's too short to not enjoy each day.

As my new favorite "Life is Good" t-shirt says: The journey is the destination. I have taken things for granted in the past, and rushed through life. I'm enjoying this slower pace and time to enjoy the moment. The journey truly is the destination.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Random thoughts and soapboxes...

Well it has been a few days since I posted so time for a few updates. First of all, my job makes me laugh! Ok, my main responsibilities are to take reservations, seat guests and chat politely with them as I seat them, thank them for coming, and answer questions. Not overly taxing, right? Some people I work with get really stressed about very small things. It makes me laugh. If there's one thing I've learned its this - working in Residence Life may have spoiled me for life. I mean seriously - where else do you get calls any any hour of the day to respond to actual emergencies? It makes everything else look a lot easier. Perspective is interesting...

Speaking of perspective, my co-workers collectively guessed my age at 26 when I started. They soon asked me how old I was and were nearly shocked when I told them. Not bad to look 6 years younger than I actually am! Especially since my co-workers range in age from 20-24!

Since I'm talking about work, here are a few pictures of my new "office."

And here's a view on the short walk around the Lodge grounds I did between shifts last week..

I've been off for the last few days, because I've had a nasty cold. I haven't been this sick in ages. I think my body finally gave in after the stress of RA training, lack of sleep, saying goodbye, and moving here. I visited our medical clinic conveniently located a 5 minute drive from my home and was told I have "what's going around." Was given penicillin and told to rest for 3 days. I even got a note saying I couldn't work until Thursday, which I took to my supervisor. He honestly seemed a bit annoyed that I couldn't work, but I didn't care. He's the "unpleasant" supervisor so I basically interact with him only when necessary.

This doctor visit got me to this may get a political friends, so just simmer down. Its just my opinion, so if you don't like it - don't read it! As I've been working here about 2 weeks, I've learned a lot about my co-workers and people in this line of work. There are many people who move from seasonal job to seasonal job and work their butts off doing so. They are all ages and from all walks of life. I feel incredibly fortunate and priviledged to be here just for fun. Now, don't get me wrong, the money is nice and will help fund my travels this fall. However, I have already noticed my thoughts on things changing. For example, when looking to buy dinner in one of restaurants instead of eating in the employee dining room, I think about how many hours I'd have to work to earn the money for the food.

Its interesting to me that after two weeks, my perspective has changed. Maybe its for the good - maybe its giving me a better perspective on how most people in the world live. Maybe its helping me take things for granted less. Whatever it is...I have to say I'm learning a lot and feeling very lucky. Sometimes the feelings of over-privilidgedness (is that a word? - Becky, I expect a comment) are overwhelming. Perhaps its these feelings that remind me of my trip to the Dominican Republic in March working in a developing country and seeing how most of the world lives. Perhaps it is what propells me to look for jobs and opportunities where I know I can make a difference. Not to feel better about myself and to get over my privilidged standing, but to truly make a difference in the world around me.

I feel fortunate that I have been able to make a difference in my work the past three years in Laramie. While there were moments of struggle, I know I was able to touch some lives and make a difference - and at the very same time - many of those lives touched me and made a difference in my life and helped shape who I am today. I think that's what life's all about afterall.

Being sick has also made me realize a few things. Thankfully, I still have health insurance through UW, since my vacation took me through the first few days of September. Therefore, the $116 bill I got for my doc visit and meds that I had to pay on the spot will mostly be re-imbursed to me. Back to the hourly thing - sure I'm losing income for these 4 days I'm off work (2 were already scheduled days off, so I'm only losing about 16 hours of pay), but most people in my situation probably wouldn't go to the doctor because the bill alone would be too expensive in addition to being told you can't work. I'm so lucky I can afford to take this time and get well. Ok, so I'm feeling a bunch of privileged guilt right now. But I think this awareness is helping me and only makes me stronger. At the same time, come October I will not have insurance. So, how will my perspective change on visiting the doctor? I can see myself not going when I probably should.

Now for a mini-soapbox, if we had healthcare for everyone, this wouldn't be such an issue! I'm so frustrated with everyone's comments that we are becoming socialists or even communists in this country because of the goal of universal health care! Since when did this country become a place where we don't take care of each other and only look out for what's best for us? Think about all the people in your life you interact with daily but know nothing about - the people that truly make this world work - and how little they are actually getting from us. Think of how much better the world would be if we would just take care of each other!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Iowa is close to New Hampshire, right?

So all continues to go well here. I basically have to pinch myself each day to remind myself that I'm really here! The weather has been gorgeous and I've been lucky to get out and explore a little in between working.

Today has been a day of randomness. First, I drove to Jackson (About 35 miles south of the lodge) to get some groceries and check out the town. On the beautiful drive, I saw several road signs which said "avoid cracked windshields." I thought to myself - don't most drivers strive to avoid cracked windshields always? Also, wouldn't it be helpful to post some strategies on how one might avoid cracked windshields in addition to this general warning? Call me crazy, but it seemed highly random to me! So, I will drive as cautiously as possible now to avoid cracked windshields...

Then at work I was talking to one of our servers who is a lady from California about 35-45 years old. She asked me where I was from, so I replied Iowa. I'm not really sure what to say anymore to that question, so Iowa is what I'm going with. Anyways, she then asked me if that's where Ben and Jerry's is from. I said no, that was from New Hampshire. She then replies, well isn't that close to Iowa? If it wouldn't have caused a scene, I would have fallen to the floor laughing, but alas I did not. I kindly replied that Iowa was in the midwest and not very close to New Hampshire at all. She kind of smiled and quickly moved away from the area we were talking in.

Thus endeth the randomness that is Monday!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Well, I've been here for 5 days now, and I feel pretty settled. I have today and Monday off, and then the madness begins! Because of my job (hostess) I work a lot of split shifts, which is kind of a bummer, but its ok. It gives me a routine and I definitely will have down time to enjoy this beautiful area!

Not much new to report here, but I did want to post some pictures. The first picture is a view of Jenny Lake close to sunset. The other pictures are from Jackson Lake Lodge and my view all day at's rough! :) I'm truly enjoying the downtime and life without much responsibility. Work is pretty easy and I'm starting to get to know the people I work with better.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Tetons...home sweet home

So, I arrived at Jackson Lake Lodge ( this afternoon and I'll be starting work as a hostess in the Mural Room (A fabulous restaurant) here at the JLL as it's referred to by the staff. Wow, I already fit in! :)

The drive across Wyoming was gorgeous. I feel like on part of it (most of it is on 2 lane highway) that I only saw about 10 cars in 3 hours! There really are some vast, open spaces here, but it was gorgeous. A pit-stop in Dubois, WY helped pass the time. I saw a sign for "Large Jackalope exhibit" and had to stop. I went in, and it was truly impressive! It was at least 6.5 feet tall! Even more exciting was the gift emporium that surrounded it! :) I can't tell what was more humerous - the exhibit or the 3 signs outside advertising this exciting exhibit.

Well, I got all checked in, acquired my uniform (elastic waisted black pants - sexy, a tux shirt, tie, and vest). This is going to be a classy look for me. I checked in at the Mural Room where a girl there asked what I would be doing there. I told her I'd be a hostess and she said, "Well, you should reconsider that!" Not exactly sure what that means, but something tells me that it'll be manageable. Especially after living and working with over 500 freshmen!

Then I went over to my room. It's a nice room that I have to myself - thankfully! With a bathroom down the hall. Its simple but cozy. And as soon as I unpack, it'll be even better. Thankfully there isn't much to unpack.

I had dinner in the nice employee dining room and am now hanging out in the lodge watching the sunset and enjoying this gorgeous place!

Friday, June 26, 2009

New beginnings

I've decided to start a blog so that I can share my adventures as I get ready to move overseas to teach English. So, let's just start with a little background information...

I completed my Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate in May and am now certified to teach English as a foreign language. It's a good name for the certificate, don't you think? :) Anyways, my goal is to get a job teaching English somewhere other than the US that starts January 2010. I'd love to end up in Europe to be near family living in Belgium and Germany, however, I'm just excited to get out and try new things and am open to going pretty much anywhere except the Middle East.

You may be wondering what I'm doing now and what I will be doing between now and January. Currently, I'm finishing up my role as an Area Coordinator at the University of Wyoming where I've worked for 3 years. My main responsibility (aside from running the hall and working with the RA staff) is to coordinate our two-week RA training program that occurs in August. So, since I love training so much (this is true - not the typical Suzanne/Q sarcasm), I've decided to stick around to help out with my last training. My last day at UW will be August 24, which is the first day of school here.

On August 25 the adventure begins! I'll be heading to Jackson Lake Lodge in Teton National Park to work as a waitress/hostess/whatever they need me to do. I'll live at the lodge with the rest of the staff. I'm really excited for the change of pace and the opportunity to work with and meet people from all over the world!

My work in the Tetons ends Oct. 5 and then I'll head to CA to run a half-marathon with my best friend, Cate, and hang out a bit. Then I'll head north to Portland and Seattle and my mom will fly out to visit family in Washington. We'll drive back to CA and then head back through Laramie and on to Iowa (hopefully visiting friends along the way) before heading out for my new job.

I'm actively searching for jobs that start in January 2010, however not much is posted at this time. I'm optimistic, and the research I have done has shown me that most jobs are posted 3-4 months before they begin, so there is no need to worry! While my future is uncertain - I do have a plan for the next six months, and I know that whatever occurs after that will be fabulous!

I'm most excited for this new adventure and will keep this site updated as there is more to share! I will also use this once I get to my new location in make sure to bookmark it and come back often!