We Offer These Libations…

After living on our Valiant 32 for roughly 120 hours, we were happy to take her out on our first shake-down cruise. Our agenda was simple:  Make it through the channels into Galveston Bay, complete the renaming ceremony, and then go sailing!

Since we had been planning on taking her out all week, our excitement and anxiety had been building. When the time came, we were thrilled to get the boat out of her slip and into open waters. To get into the bay, we had to follow a series of channels. Luckily there was a power boat in front of us to show the way and it helped that the channels were well marked. We made our way into some neighborhoods, past the Kemah Boardwalk and through some areas which we want to later explore by land as well.

Once in Galveston Bay, we had to go through the process of renaming our sailboat.  According to legend, each and every vessel is recorded by name in the Ledger of the Deep and is known personally to Poseidon, or Neptune, the god of the sea.  In order to change a vessel’s name,  we must 1st purge its name from the Ledger and from Poseidon’s memory. The name changing ceremony is a lengthy and wordy process which requires 3 stages and 3 bottles of champagne.

The first ceremony was to wipe the previous name from the Ledger of the Deep. It requires 1 bottle of champagne (minus a bit for the captain and 1st mate) and a metal tag with the old name written on it to be thrown into the ocean to be wiped clean. 

“Oh mighty and great ruler of the seas and oceans, to whom all ships and we who venture upon your vast domain are required to pay homage, implore you in your graciousness to expunge for all time from your records and recollection the name, redacted,  which has ceased to be an entity in your kingdom. As proof thereof, we submit this ingot bearing her name to be corrupted through your powers and forever be purged from the sea. “

Immediately following, was the renaming ceremony which adds the new name to the Ledger and requires 1 more bottle of champagne (minus a bit more for the captain and 1st mate). 

“Oh mighty and great ruler of the seas and oceans, to whom all ships and we who venture upon your vast domain are required to pay homage, implore you in your graciousness to take unto your records and recollection this worthy vessel hereafter and for all time known as Nymeria, guarding her with your mighty arm and trident and ensuring her of safe and rapid passage throughout her journeys within your realm.”

The final step in the renaming ceremony was to appease the gods of the winds to assure fair winds and smooth seas. We were required to pour a generous libation of champagne to Great Boreas of the North Wind, Great Zephyrus of the West Wind, Great Eurus of the East Wind and the Great Notus of the South Wind.

“Oh mighty rulers of the winds, through whose power our frail vessels traverse the wild and faceless deep, we implore you to grant this worthy vessel Nymeria the benefits and pleasures of your bounty, ensuring us of your gentle ministration according to our needs.”

After a few sips of the remaining champagne, it was time to put out the sails and have some fun. The conditions on the water were quite perfect for our first solo cruise in Nymeria. The bay was calm with 10-15 knots of consistent wind. We hoisted the main and then the head sail. We were able to get close to 7 knots of speed sailing close to the wind or close hauled. Nymeria was steady and strong as we pushed our limits with letting her heel over. We were much more comfortable when having the wind from the side, at a beam reach, or from the back of the boat, on a broad reach, since she didn’t heel over so much.

Justin and I both took our turns sailing and navigating. We were having so much fun getting to know Nymeria that we almost didn’t realize that a front was fast approaching with bigger winds and waves. As we headed back through the channels and into the safety of our marina, we looked forward to a 4th bottle of champagne. This libation was just for us, to celebrate our first successful sail with Nymeria.

We have had so much fun sharing our stories with you. Please stay tuned for our next adventure!

 

Internet Explorer

Justin and I were quite spoiled in Durango. In addition to great friends and beautiful landscapes, we had excellent internet. It was important to our lives then and it has become even more important now and I didn’t think that that was even possible.

For some time now, Justin has been working from home as a software engineer while I commuted across the state line during the school year as a speech therapist. This move to Texas meant that I also started working from home doing speech teletherapy via video conferencing. We can both suck up bandwidth with our jobs alone even without our tv and movie streaming.

Just out of dumb luck we found a RV Park on Crystal Beach, TX with the biggest internet package available on the Bolivar Peninsula. We are one of only 6 RVs in the place. We are typically the only people at the park during the week with the others RVers coming in on the weekends for a quick getaway. We have since discovered that what we have found is rare and must be appreciated. Internet is a major reason that Justin and I have stayed on the Bolivar Peninsula so long.

As we look forward to moving onto a sailboat, we have been looking into Marinas and what they have to offer. Recently, we toured marinas in search of amenities, a short walk to the restroom for Pete (and for me) and for our blessed internet. We quickly learned that what we need, does not exist out there in the real world, let alone, in a marina. It seems that marinas are like typical RV Parks, the office is the source of internet and they send it out into the world via WiFi, maybe there are signal repeaters, maybe there aren’t. While we are going to be set up with a repeater/booster and internal network, we still have to get a decent signal to the boat. The marina that would be the best fit for us offers internet but it was unpredictable when tested. Another marina that we also liked has an estimate in for a complete internet overhaul that is awaiting owner approval (it has been awaiting approval for a few years now and is not a top priority). Currently, we are still scratching our head trying to come up with a plan.

Once we purchase a boat, we will have to leave the haven of our RV Park and our available options are few and quite expensive. So far, we have determined that there are nor DSL or Cable internet options available at the marinas in the area. We have seen satellite internet plans which would be simi-affordable but not wonderful for video conferencing due to its lag in video. We have looked into Cellular Data plans which would quickly become quite costly due to our data needs. For example, I used 42 GB of data on my computer alone last month and I use it primarily for work. (This does not include Justin’s work/personal computers, both of our phones and my work iPad.)

Though we enjoy watching tv and movies, we would be willing to reduce the amount of streaming we do if that meant that we could continue to work remotely. This will probably be a good thing for us in the long run. It would mean more reading books, writing blog posts, editing video, taking long walks on the beach, playing video games which don’t require internet and perhaps more actual conversation.

 

Ultimately, we are still searching for the best solution that will allow us to continue working until we are ready to untie the lines. If there are options out there that we have yet to explore, please leave us a comment.

Pete: Traveling Adventure Dog Extraordinaire

 

Since Pete was adopted in 2005, he has had to make quite a few adjustments in his life. He was adopted in Birmingham, Alabama and has since lived in Arkansas, New Mexico, Colorado and now Texas. He has been able to camp and hike in the Ozarks of Arkansas, Wasatch Range of Utah and the Weminuche Wilderness of Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. He has jumped from rock to rock in the deserts of Southern Utah and forged his own path through freshly fallen snow in the mountains around Durango. He has canoed in Lake Vallecito north of Durango and he is currently learning how to navigate the crashing waves of the Texas Gulf. Through it all, he has been my trusty and steadfast sidekick.

Like most dogs, Pete has learned to roll with the punches and accept his current circumstances for what they are. He has learned to carry a pack with his food/water and swim across rivers when backpacking, jump from rock to rock when in the desert and to be the follower when he gets tired when snowshoeing. He learned that it is hard to say goodbye to his friends, Sumo, Alpe and Lopa. But he has also learned that, even though he doesn’t like car rides, he is going somewhere fun as long as his bed is in the back seat of the truck.

I am not saying that Pete isn’t concerned when there is a change in his routine. From the time that he was adopted, he has shown anxiety in one form or another. As a puppy, he tore up furniture and my favorite shoes when left alone. He eventually graduated from being disruptive to not eating when he was anxious. He has always been a grazer when he eats but would normally always finish off his daily rations by the end of the day. With his anxiety and health issues, his eating habits are more unpredictable these days and make it difficult to know when he needs to go to the bathroom. Eating and bathroom habits are the topics of a lot of conversations regarding Pete lately as well as breathing rates and overheating. Once his routine is settled for a few days, we all seem to relax and become regular again, pun intended.

In October of last year, 2016, we bought the camper trailer and Pete had to get used to our future home. We started selling/donating everything in the house in order to move into the camper and he started showing concern for what was happening around him. It helped when we moved his ‘camping’ bed into the trailer so that he could start making it his home too. It was also around that time that he was diagnosed with Idiopathic Vestibular Disease which caused him to lose his balance and his eyes rapidly moved from side to side. Luckily he started eating solid foods again after a week but was left with head tilt and wobbly back legs. Throughout this health scare it was also determined that his heart was significantly enlarged and that his previously diagnosed heart murmur was more pronounced. He was put on an Ace-Inhibitor and a Diuretic in order to make him more comfortable if everything started to go sour. All of this made us consider his health and quality of life as we moved forward with our travel plans. Ultimately, we decided that if Pete is healthy and able, he will continue adventuring with us.

On July 1st, we threw Pete’s big comfy bed in the truck, attached to our camper trailer, waived goodbye to Durango and began meandering our way to the coast. He really liked stopping at Mom and Jack’s Square Dot Ranch for a few days. He got to play with the cows and inspect a new calf while relaxing in the garden and flower beds. While Justin and I flew off to his brother’s wedding, Pete got to spend a long weekend with my sister, her two man children, and their two dogs. While there he got to see some long lost friends and go for long walks. Once Justin and I were back at the Ranch, we threw Pete’s bed in the truck once again and headed south. Final stop: Crystal Beach, Bolivar Peninsula, Texas.

Now that we have been at Crystal Beach for 2 weeks, Pete seems to be adjusting well. We just had a Vet appointment saying that he hasn’t progressed beyond where things were prior to the move and that his medications are doing more good than harm. We are all learning how to keep him cool when it is supper hot and humid outside. He is getting more and more used to playing in the water as it rushes up on the beach but is still not a big fan of the waves when they crash onto his face. Since he gets a bit overheated on walks in the sun and heat, he will soon be decked out in a life vest so that he can stay cool when exercising in the rolling waves.

Moving forward, I know that I can’t imagine this adventure without Pete. I also know that Pete would do anything to go on adventures with us, even if his old body is tired and worn out. But as long as the fates allow, I will have a nice comfortable bed ready for him.

In Search of Wind!

In case you didn’t know, it is hard to find a sailboat in the landlocked state of Colorado!

When Justin and I had this crazy idea a few years back about heading to the coast and finding a Sailboat, we didn’t quite know what we were getting into. If anyone knows me, you know that I love doing research and have been happily consumed with it ever since. And where did I start, the only place I could, online! Justin and I dove into YouTube and began to follow some amazing video bloggers about their adventures on the sea. Some of our favorites include: Sailing La Vagabonde, White Spot Pirates, Sailing Uma, Sailing SV DelosFollow The Boat, Wicked Salty, Cruising Lealea, and Sailing Nervous . Along with all the inspirational videos about the beauty of sailing, the wonder of traveling to vacant islands and meeting new cultures from around the world, we absorbed all the technical details that Sailing Nervous gave in their boat search and the amount of control and precision can go into a boat refit like Sailing Uma and Cruising Lealea have done and/or still doing. (Refit: repairing, restoring, renovating)

Before we got too far into the boat searching and future planning, our good friend, Jeff Leith, suggested that we spend some time sailing in order to determine if it was something at we really wanted to do. Justin had the most previous sailing experience playing around on his friend Nate’s boat in Portland and in helping Nate take his sailboat from Portland to Squamish, British Columbia. I had only toured Nate’s boat once, meaning that I had zero sailing experience. Heeding Jeff’s advice, we piggybacked onto a trip to see my nephew, Quade, graduate high school in Seoul, South Korea with a trip to Phuket, Thailand to spend a week in sailing school with Yachtpro. (See previous blog posts: Sailing Thailand Pt 1 and Sailing in Thailand Pt 2.) While there, we were able to get our American Sailing Association certifications for 101 Basic Keelboat Sailing, 103 Basic Coastal Cruising, and 104 Bareboat Cruising. (See also previous blog link) While there, we only strengthened our resolve to make this sailing thing happen!

After gaining video and actual sailing inspiration, in came the google searching! What type of sailboat do we want: ketch, cutter, sloop…? Do we want a monohull, catamaran or a trimaran? Do we want a fin, wing, bilge, centerboard, or full keel? Do we want wood, steel, fiberglass? Do we want a wheel vs tiller? And what do all of these terms mean? Of course there are more factors that we have to consider and the list is long and tedious.

As I dug deeper I learned that there was also math involved! Displacement/Length Ratio, Ballast Ratio, Sail Area/Displacement Ratio! The Displacement/Length ratio gives a sense of a boat’s speed potential – the lower the number, the faster the boat. The Ballast Ratio is the percentage of the boat’s weight that is the ballast. This number refers to the ‘stiffness’ or the resistance to the heeling or the leaning of the boat when under sail.  The Sail Area/Displacement Ratio is a measure of the power of the sails when compared to the weight of the boat. The higher the number, the higher the performance, but the boat will be harder to handle.

All of this makes my head hurt but it all means that we will have to do some calculations in order to make sure that we have a comfortable ride.

A person could easily get bogged down with all the formulas and specs but in trying to simplify things for my own sanity, it all comes down to safely.

After digging through mountains of online information, we feel that a ‘blue water’ monohull sailboat would be the best fit for us. These boats are more slow and heavy but tend to be more stable in the water. Using bluewaterboats.org and Mahina Boat Consultation websites as a guide, online searches found that boats mostly fitting my criteria were in the 32-42 foot range and ran anywhere from $15000-$45,000. Pricing depends on the age, condition and location of the boat. Of course I would prefer a larger boat for more comfort and stability but that also means more money for the purchase, maintenance and docking fees. Upon arriving in Galveston last week, I started contacting brokers in the area to start the process of actually going on board some of these beautiful sailboats. We are set to go to Corpus Christi this Friday to look at an Ericson 325 and a Nicholson 35 along with a few others. We also hope to get on board a Downeaster 32 soon. We will let you know how it goes.

‘They’ say that the moment you walk onto the right boat you will know immediately if she is ‘the one.’

Sailing in Thailand Pt 2

justin marinaWe were more than happy to check out of our hotel and check onto our Beneteau 343 for 3 nights and 4 days of sailing in Phang Nga Bay. Since we had already completed our course plotting the previous day, we jumped on the boat and left the marina ASAP. And we were off….

Screenshot_20160604-175637

 

We started our trip heading toward the northwest part of the Phang Nga Bay and to Ko Hong. We had to motor most of the way into the Bay due to light winds but we finally convinced Gunnar to let us put up the sails. The scenery along the way was beautiful.

sails

 

scenery

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once we had anchored, we had just enough time before dark to jump into the dinghy and do some exploring. Gunnar drove us through a cave and toward interior of the island. The sheer granite walls were beautiful. We were there during low tide and were able to get out and put out toes in the sand.

DSCN2465DSCN2461cave openingDSCN2477

openingbats

Day 2 of sailing, we pulled up the hook and headed to Ko Roi for lunch and another chance to go inside an island. We got there just in time to have the place to ourselves.

 

 

As we passed through the cave, we were in mangrove heaven and you could hear the screeching of bats almost instantly. When the tide comes in, the dinghy is too big to get through the entrance. We stayed here as long as we dared…

 

After exploring, eating lunch and having a nice refreshing swim, we left Ko Roi and headed for our next anchorage off of Ko Yao Yai. The weather was beautiful but not all that windy. We sailed as much as we could and the boys fixed a fan for our cabin so that I could have some air during the night! I was soooo thankful!

Once we made it to Ko Yao Yai, we finally got some wind and were able to practice tacking (turning so that our bow goes through the wind) and jibing (when our stern/back of the boat goes through the wind). We had a blast. We were also excited for dinner at the ‘Blue Roof.’ I don’t know what the place is actually called but it had a blue roof and ice cold beer. Also, don’t tell anyone that we went because we it was kind of against the rules. Whatever, it was worth it!

blue rooffrom blue roof
squall

Day 3 of sailing began with the clouds moving in. We picked up our anchor and headed right for it.

happy face

 

 

We finally got up to 18 knots of wind and it felt like we were flying. Of course it also rained but it was warm and refreshing. I promise I felt happier than what I looked like in this picture.

 

reefed main

With the higher winds, we got to practice lowering the head sail and reefing the main sail. The trick is to prepare the sails before the storm actually hits so that you don’t loose your sails or mast.

 

shan happy facewed captainSee, We were actually having a blast!

Finally, the squall past and we made it to our last anchorage of the trip, Ko Rang Noi. As Justin and I were completing our ASA sailing tests, we got a brilliant sunset! Since it was our last night on board, we did our best at eating all the remaining food.

sailingsunsetboat foodtest

Day 4, our last day sailing. We headed back to the marina and outran multiple squalls. Once back safely in the harbor, we did multiple man-overboard drills and will now be capable of getting people/animals back safely on board. We learned so much during our experience on board and did our best to have all the information and sites soak into our memories.

We loved our little trip in Phang Nga Bay and look forward to having many more sailing adventures in the future.

Click to see more pictures of our Sailing Adventure: Thailand by Sea

Next up on Our Next Adventures: We go backpacking at home in Colorado

Sailing in Thailand Pt 1

Just as I promised, I now get to tell you about our adventures in sailing!

As part of my search for the perfect ending to our trip to Korea, I scoured the internet and found YachtPro, a sailing school in the cool (as in “interesting”, definitely not cool as in “weather”) location of Phuket, Thailand. The first 3 days were sailing ‘school’. This is when we would start each morning with a latte at Yacht Haven Marina, go to the boat to learn some stuff, come back to the marina for lunch and then go learn more stuff on the water. And mostly in the rain.

rainy justin

Our boat for the first 2 days was a 26′ S80 and our skipper was John. We little boat 1spent 2 wonderful days in the rain learning and getting quizzed about all the pieces, parts and functions of a sail boat. Most of these things were taught for my benefit since I had not really been on a sailboat before. We were taught how to attach, raise, lower and reef the sails as well as how to approach/leave a dock/buoy. We were also taught how to tie some essential knots, which I have yet to master. In fact, I still had to go back to the resort and study the American Sailing Association textbooks just to make sure that all of the information was making sense and sinking in. This was aided by some wonderful local food and beverages (I think I mentioned the Mai Tia’s in my previous post).

Day 3 of sailing took us to the big boat, a Beneteau 343, and our new skipper Gunnar (Goo-na). The goal for the day was to learn about our new boat and chart our course for our upcoming 3 nights in Phang Nga Bay.

343Screenshot_20160604-175637plotting

So we checked out of our hotel and onto the boat with much anticipation of what we would experience over the next few days….

Stay tuned for the final leg of our sailing adventure!

 

 

Phuket, Thailand

After saying our goodbyes to Korea, it took a whole day of traveling to get to Phuket, Thailand. I had the grand pleasure of learning to drive on the wrong side of the car/road, on a dark and rainy Wednesday night. (Sorry, but we don’t have any footage of this.) For the first 4 nights, we stayed at the Andaman Seaside Resort which was within a short walking distance to Bangtao Beach and many bars/restaurants. Bangtao Beach is on the Northwestern portion of Phuket and the beach completely disappeared when the tide come in. Fun to watch if you have an escape route!andamanandaman 2

Since we weren’t able to explore the area during the day, we were quite content with our selections of traditional Thai and Western food options (pizza, pasta, burgers) located around the resort. And the reason we couldn’t explore the area much, you ask? We were taking sailing lessons! We were traveling daily to YachtPro, on the northern tip of Phuket to play on a boat…in the rain…but more on that later.

When we were not learning to sail, we took advantage of some non-rainy time at the beach and did our best to stimulate the bar/restaurant economy. We were in Phuket during the off-season or rainy season and we pretty much had every establishment to ourselves. We even had our first ever, but not even close to the last, Mai Tai.

beachmai tai fooddrinks

After we got back to land from 3 nights in Phang Nga Bay (don’t worry, I will get to the sailing in anther blog post), we spent our last 2 nights in Phuket at the Beyond Resort. I chose Karon Beach, which is on the southwestern end of Phuket, since it was less touristy but still had plenty of shopping and restaurant options. We swim up barwere lucky to have the rain disappear but were left with very hot and very sticky temperatures. Thank goodness for the beach, swim up bar and air conditioning in the room. Karon beach had the same soft sand with cleaner water and bigger waves. What we didn’t get on camera was all the trash that was on the shore, even a hypodermic needlewaves 🙁

Justin was just like a kid playing in the water and I was like a mother taking pictures making sure that he came out alive. Big waves + strong under current are not my thing apparently.

 

Our last day in Phuket seemed to last forever…we stayed at the resort until check-time and then hit the road for some site seeing before having to big buddhareturn the rental car at 11:00 pm. So, we headed to the Big Buddha. I had forgotten that it is a holy site and showed up in a tank top and shorts. Luckily they had some more conservative attire available: a sarong to cover my legs and a scarf to cover my shoulders. Sitting high in the Nekkerd Hills, he is 25m wide and 45m tall and made of concrete and jade marble. The view from there was amazing.

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ocean

rawaiFrom there, we had a goal of making it to the southern most point of Phuket. Not sure that we made it but I’m not sure that it mattered. The views of the ocean were amazing from any of our vantage points.

 

In our wanderings, we stopped to roam a pier and have lunch at Rawai Beach. There was not much of ‘beach’ could be found but the view a cold fruit smoothie was nice.

 

Dinner was at Sala Mexicali. We had to try the Mexican restaurant that was featured on a sailing video by SV Delos. We looked it up via the interwebs and enjoyed our last moments in Thailand killing time grubbing away. Of course we don’t have any pictures of this. I think we were pictured out at this point. Sorry about that…

The long journey home was supposed to take 36 hours but ended up taking almost 45 hours due to flight delays. Phuket to Beijing, Beijing to Dallas, Dallas to Durango. The only on-time flight was our flight out of Phuket. Just another adventure in air travel. Even with all the jet lag, the trip was well worth it!

For more photos check out this link: Thailand by Land

Next up: Sailing in Thailand!

Advertisement Alert: I have failed to mention how none of this would have been possible without Google’s Project Fi. As everyone close to us knows, Justin loves everything Google. We have switched to their Fi cellular network and were able to have a good, although not always super fast, data connection while we were traveling. We were able to navigate the buses and subways in Korea and through all the winding roads in Thailand. We were able to do research on attractions and restaurants as well as communicate with friends/family with ease. I can’t imagine traveling without consistent access to Google Maps. Since we have been home and have received our phone bills for the trip, they were quite reasonable and not at all too shocking for how much we used our data.  Thanks Google for making our trip even more worry free!

Korea 2016

 

 

IMG_20160526_164007Justin and I had the pleasure of going Korea to visit my Sister, Heather, and her two boys, Quade and Zane, in the March of 2014. We used the excuse of her moving back and Quade’s high school graduation to get back over there. The goal was to also get my Mom and Jack to Korea. It took some careful planning and the ‘luck’ of delayed flights to get us all on the same plane from San Fransisco to Seoul. We stayed in a wonderful Airbnb in the heart of Sunae-Dong, Seongnam-si, Gyeonggi-d0. Dinner for the 1st night was, of course, fried chicken.

Day 2: Seohyeon / Gangnam

More photos of Seohyeon / Gangnam

Heather had some errands in Seohyeon so of course we had to tag along. IMG_20160527_174617After lunch, the family broke off to take care of pre-graduation tasks and Justin and I hopped a subway to Gangnam. The mission for Gangnam: Visit the Samsung D’light store and purchase a 360 Camera. Mission accomplished and at a bargain price (compared to the US listed price). Overall, we gained over 5 hours of 360 video and we can’t wait to share the highlights with you! The family found us in Gangnam for a dinner of what? Pizza!

IMG_20160528_144628Day 3: Quade’s Graduation, Korea International School, Seongnam-si

More Photos of Quade’s Graduation

We enjoyed every moment of sitting in the hot sun to watch Quade, now a young man, graduate from high school. So proud of all of his accomplishments and we were honored to be able to share that moment with him. Dinner, Korean BBQ in Sunae.

Day 4: Insa-Dong / Tapgol Park / Jogyesa Buddhist Temple

More photos of Insadong / Tapgol Park / Jogyesa Temple

Justin and I went to Insadong during our last trip and it was definitely a IMG_20160529_132336place that we wanted to get back to. The streets are lined with street food and shops, which we knew mom would love. Most of all, we wanted to have noodles and makkoli (rice wine). We also wanted to get back to the Jogyesa Buddhist Temple. The feeling of calm is overwhelming, especially with the prayers/songs coming from the temple and the prayer lanterns remaining from Buddha’s birthday celebration. A lovely Korean woman gave me a handmade lotus flower with the kind words ‘Go Home, Be Well’.

IMG_20160530_131302Day 5: AKA = A thorough exploration of Seoul’s mass transit systems. Dongdaemun / Jongno / Namdaemun shopping / Itaewon shopping & Dinner

More photos of Dongdaemun / Namdaemun / Itaewon

In Dongdaemun, we came out of the subway and explored the outside of the newly build Design Plaza. We then wandered to the Heunginjimun or the East Gate. This is one of the 8 gates in Seoul which was part of the IMG_20160530_163216Fortress Wall. We then strolled down the streets of the textiles district to have lunch at an open-air food market. Hopped onto a subway to Namdaemun for lots of shopping, then more transit to Itaewon for shopping and Korean-Mexican food at Vatos Urban Tacos. The margaritas made accommodating for mom’s bum knee worth it (We didn’t know that it would be so tricky navigating the subways to find escelators or elevators or finding short walks from bus stations to our desired destinations).

Day 6: Namhansanseong / Our last night in Korea

More photos of Namhansanseong

IMG_20160531_131726Mom decided that her knee needed a break and the parents decided to stay close to the Airbnb. Justin and I decided to use this chance to get out of the city, sort of, and visit the mountain fortress city of Namhansanseong. The fortress was build in the 17th century as an emergency capital and was built around a town which sits 480meters above sea level. On a clear day, you could see into Seoul perfectly. However, we didn’t go there on a clear day. Justin and I had a lovely spicy chicken stew for lunch and made our journey back to Heather’s Dong for another round of Korean BBQ.

Mom and Jack stayed another week in Korea exploring and Heather and the boys flew back to the US shortly after, for good this time. It was hard leaving Korea knowing that we may not ever make it back in this lifetime. However, Justin and I had our next adventure awaiting us in Thailand.DSCN2358

 

Adventures in South Dakota

 

Since we spent Christmas in Oklahoma this past year, we went to South Dakota for spring break. We were overdue for some quality time with the Pond Family. And what better way to spend time together than all 6 of us (Justin and I plus Grandpa Bud, Jay, Deb, and Laurie, Deb’s friend) loaded into the Bud’s Buick and touring the Black Hills. We did a big loop, starting in Rapid City, turing the hills and lakes. We took some quick shots of Mount Rushmore and did hiking around a frozen Sylvan Lake in the Custer State Park. When not in the car, we shared stories, champagne, and many a meal with extended family members and Deb’s BFF’s. After a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity, it was time to pack onto a plane and head south for the winter. (Shannon, March 2016)

Adventures in Utah

From the moment I had car, I would drive the back roads of Oklahoma to clear my head. Now that I have a long daily commute, I rely on special places to bring me back to center. Since I am now in SW Colorado, I have my pick of places that can be visited year-round. During the warm months, I venture into the mountains with Justin and our trusty canine companions for a long weekend of backpacking or we pitch a tent along a roaring river in the mountains around Silverton. In the cooler months, the Utah Desert calls our name. Justin introduced me to the desert not too long after we started dating (almost 6 years ago) and I have been hooked ever since. When it is just us, we have a handful of very private camping spots that we prefer, far away from the road and noise of others. The solitude is rejuvenating. It takes us away from our technology and back into our relationship with ourselves and with each other.

We arrived at night and set the following into motion: beer/wine toast (Hooray, we are in the desert!), tent and kitchen simultaneous setup (divide and concur), get the fire raging, put hobo dinner in fire (chicken surprise), eat food (everything tastes better when camping) and sit by the fire and relax (add more beer/wine and maybe a flask of some Utah or CO whiskey). Justin had prepared the Chicken Surprise prior to our departure. It was a lovely mixture of chicken, potatoes, onions, and butter to keep it from sticking. He even made mine with some bell and jalapeno peppers. Just wrap with foil, throw it in the fire, add some cheese and chow down!

The next morning, we planned out our day over mimosas and a tasty blend of eggs, bacon and cheese. This particular trip, we decided to load the dogs and hop into the Tacoma for a little 4 wheeling and then a bit of hiking. We were wondering where road 25 leads and how it intercepted other known roads in the area. We went exploring and found that my Keen sandals became a great sand collection device. Once we determined that we had a good mental mapping of road 25, we headed back to the truck, and bounced down the road back to camp. We even found some wild horses on the way back. After a quick sandwich, Justin decided he would take Lopa for a run. Pete and I decided to lounge in the shade. Having forgotten to put new books on my tablet/phone, I went on a winning streak with Plants vs Zombies. With night approaching, we got the fire raging once again and started our Dutch Oven Taco Casserole: Layers of black beans, homemade tomato sauce, ground turkey, spices, tortillas and loads of cheese! Did I mention that everything tastes better when camping?

Sunday morning, our Taco Casserole leftovers were used to make the most disgusting looking but the most amazingly tasty breakfast concoction when thrown together with eggs. We, and our mimosas, decided to leisurely pack up our gear since we didn’t really want to head back to civilization. Ever so slowly, we packed… (Shannon, March 2016)