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Photos uploaded!

Well, February of 2011 is coming to a close and we’re mostly settled in our new/old Seattle surroundings. It’s hard to believe that 8 weeks have passed since we returned. It is good to be back in Seattle, we’ve been making the social rounds and it’s been great to reconnect with our beloved Seattle friends and family. (If we haven’t seen you yet, get in touch we need to hang!)

This is the part where I was expecting to reflect on the trip and wax eloquently about my experiences, but quite frankly I haven’t really had the time. Yes indeed, it took some hustling at the end. That exact kind of busy non-stop lifestyle that made me frazzled enough to quit my job and take a 6-month road trip was required to get us back out west from Chicago on December 25th, to Lexington on the 26th, through insane snowstorms, into a previously unseen apartment, and reporting for duty at the new job by January 3rd. I may be daft at times, but not so daft that I didn’t learn a thing or two and life has now slowed down to something I can actually manage and enjoy.

Perhaps we can reflect next to a warm fire and ruse upon the finer points our unique expedition over a snifter of brandy at some future juncture.

Yeah, we are aware that our regular updates basically fell off around October, except for those few occasions when Jenn was good enough to post something. In my defense, I was under the impression that people were following the flickr updates. I might not be writing, I thought, but I’m letting the photo updates speak for us. In the immortal words of Mr Kenneth Richings, “WRONG, MCCOY!!!”, as I learned from various friends who asked when they could see the photos. So apparently not everyone saw them, but most of them have been up there for a while. The rest of mine were updated today. If Jenn is okay with it, I’ll post hers up there as well soon. The blog hasn’t been completely without activity, I get about 10 comment spams a week. We must be well indexed somewhere for the bots to keep finding us.

Just so there’s no missing them, all the sets are listed below.

All of the photos are contained in one large set. Most of them are also contained in one of a dozen or so sub-sets that are labelled by location for convenience. There are some loose pics that aren’t in any sub-sets, only in the main set.

roadstumble.com main set

Badlands

Wild Horse Monument

Going to the Sun Road

Kimball, SD

Cincinnati

Shedd Aquarium

Cleveland Zoo

Art Institute of Chicago

Washington DC

Cozumel Fun

Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Cuba

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Random Phone Pics

Oh that’s right, we have a blog.

Sorry that the updates have basically crawled to a halt about, oh… 3 months ago. Fortunately, Jenn has been keeping the cobwebs off this thing.

Some field recordings for your hungry ears. These are not the best recordings, there are some wind artifacts and some yapping people to contend with, but hopefully you get the idea:

Beachside at the Hotel Na Balam in Isla Mujeres. I’m surprised this turned out at all because it was so windy that evening.

An audio installation near the water fountain in the yard of the excellent Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh.

A band called Chocolate Caliente played often in a gorgeous old Havana square called Plaza Catedral. After the second session, it was quickly realized how touristy they were, but it was still nice to sit and listen while drinking a beer.*

The sounds of these shouting men is not a revolution brewing. It’s the Esquina Caliente, a corner of a lovely park in Havana where men gather and argue non-stop about baseball.*

* Or so I am told by my Canadian friend who went there.

And then, we got to Arizona and everything was clear.

Last week, my Aunt Nancy and Uncle Butch came to visit.  We were trying so hard to find a way to get to them in West Virginia but couldn’t make our schedules come together.  Luckily, they came to us in Lexington!  They already had plans to visit some friends in Ohio and made a detour to spend a night with us.  We had a great time and, as usual, I only wish it could have been longer.

One of our problems in scheduling was knowing that a baby was going to be born very soon and trying to figure out how we would visit in Lexington AND get to Arizona to meet Daniel.  Brian’s sister Nora was pregnant and having some (relatively minor) complications that made it so we didn’t know when to head West!  The baby was due to be born on the 20th so we decided to leave on the 17th thinking that we would get there just in time.  Daniel had other plans and was born on November 16th!

This isn't his best look.

We left KY on Thursday and drove to Tulsa, then to Santa Rosa, NM on Friday night, finally getting to Phoenix on Saturday.  This worked out great because that was the day Daniel and Nora got to come home from the hospital!

Katie, Nora, Brian, Cara,(L to R) and Daniel

As we were driving through New Mexico and Arizona, Brian was marveling at the beauty of our surroundings.  Mostly, I slept and had ants in my pants.  I was very ready to get there and out of the car.  Also, I realized a strange thing.    When we were in Trinidad at the Playa Alcon, we decided to try some snorkling.  Brian and Walter went out first while I enjoyed the scenery.  Eventually, I decided to go.   AND I FREAKED OUT!  There wasn’t anywhere to stand or catch my breath.  Everything looked dead (because mostly is was) and I got water in my gear and and and and and.  I totally panicked.

Similarity?  It’s so open here that it’s hard for me to focus.   I know that it’s beautiful and it looks different than anything I’ve ever seen.  I do like it here but I’m not crazy about driving through the strange wide open.

Also, we tried the In-N-Out Burger.  Um, not so crazy about that mess.  I’m willing to give it another shot but really, not impressed.  I thought it was going to be awesome and instead, nawsome.   We made burgers at home that night with guacamole and potato salad and that was great!

Of course, Thanksgiving was great!  We had way too much food and lots of fun.  Easy, easy. I thought about the dinners happening with the Surbaugh’s in Lexington and the Teutschson’s in Seattle.  I hope everyone had a great time!

Monday is Brian’s birthday and Tuesday, we leave for Sedona and the Grand Canyon.  If it’s warm enough, we are going to camp.  I think it would be pretty amazing to wake up and have coffee there.   Later in the week, we are going to Little Rock to see Momma and Daddy (that’s Mr. and Mrs. Bracy to you) and then, I am really hoping, to Graceland.  All of this is to get to Lexington and Chicago for Christmas.

There is a Zappos outlet here.

We are still in KY.

I am joyfully in family, LuLu, and BBQ overload.

Nearly complete: Day 4 post Philip Morris breakup.

Also, I have taken to red lipstick and copious amounts of eyeliner.  I attribute that to staying in my Mom’s house,  I am needlessly rebelling.

I know all you really want are these photos.

Havana:

It's a scooter. Super scooter.

It’s a scooter with seats in the back, a cocotaxi.  Way fun transportation.

Cathedral Plaza, a square we found and kept returning to because it was so close to the place we were staying and because it was too nice being there.

Yes, it was touristy and I don’t care.  I loved it.

Walking along the Malecon, these kids were playing in front of their houses:

And these two in their doorway in Barrio Chino:

Outside the capital building, aptly named “Capitolo”.

Trinidad:

One bird, one banana.

Butcher shop. Trinidad.
Playa Alcon

Vinales:

Brian is quite the equestrian.

We tried to bring back honey from the farm that I saw this goat.  It didn’t work.

Doll Head Tree. Fantasy garden in Vinales.
Gardening shed.
The highway had a cattle crossing.

Back to Havana:

Athletic arena.
Lokie. My BFF.

Now, we are in Lexington.  Where this building is not.

Being stalked by Paula.

OLE!  Good friends plan weddings in beautiful places.  We stayed in Cozumel from the 8th until the 14th and had a great time!  The wedding was beautiful, sweet and perfect.

Sick right?

Matt and Diana rented a house for the week and held the ceremony there.  Amazing.  That is the pool and the ocean in the background but you probably figured that out.

After 4 days of sitting on the beach and ordering fruity rum drinks something had to give.  It was just too good. Tuesday morning, we were sitting around our hotel drinking coffee when we found out a hurricane was coming.  While the people we knew were trying to figure out what was going on, Brian and I came up with our own disaster plan and went to the hotel shop for chips, cokes, and a snickers.  We spent the day all over the place, hearing that the hurricane would downgrade to a tropical storm to hearing that it could be a Catagory 2 or 3 by the time it arrived.  What a mess.  Ultimately, it didn’t hit at all.  Well, not us.  It did delay our trip east for two days which was just fine.

After looking at the map, we headed to Isla Mujeres, a small island just off the coast of Cancun.

Boohoo huh?  Yeah, we didn’t spend much time feeling sorry for ourselves.  It was ridiculously beautiful, we found the good food, and there was a hammock in the room.

Shamey shame.

That last post was SUPER lame-o.  A few photos from our Central NY time:

We saw Amish farms:

Cows.

Went to the Baseball Hall of Fame:

Ty! Wood carving.

And, since we were in Cooperstown,

My favorite!

After ALL of that, we went to Syracuse.  And once we were there…

First stop with Kevin.

then:

Awesome second stop!

Now, that is everything that happened between Montreal and Mexico!

When you’re this far behind, it’s not easy to catch up.

We just got back from Mexico and I didn’t even tell you about central New York and our delightful re-entry into the United States.

That may read like sarcasm but it is true.  What I can tell you now is that Syracuse was great and we spent the weekend with Brian’s friends Kevin and Melissa.  They were fantastic hosts and Kevin took us around to see the sights – Ithaca (possibly the BEST BURGER EVER) and some waterfalls.  It was beautiful and fun.  The weather was perfect, with the leaves changing and it was just starting to get crisp.  Plus, there was beer!

I’m sleepy-pants and will say more later this week.

Mexico and such was really unbelievable.

OH Canada!

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Seeing the lyrics, I can only think of college.  I went to Eastern Kentucky University, a very prestigious university specializing in partying way back in 1993.  Sometime in the early 1990’s it had been named by Playboy as one of the Top 10 party schools in the United States.  I’m still so proud.  More than the vast education I received at EKU, seeing the lyrics makes me think of my old pal and fun-mentor Mickey.  She was a friend of mine from Oregon that had come to Eastern to study to be a Fireman (woman?).   Anyway, as college kids do, we would keep the usual tabs on each others whereabouts and we always knew Mickey was back on campus when this anthem would be sung at top pitch through our dorm.  If you were out with Mickey you would eventually learn it as you sang it back to campus.  Why?  Who knows.

Quebec City and Montreal did not disappoint,  I now see why Mickey had such a fondness for the anthem.  One can only assume is was rooted in a love for the country.

This was one of our final views of Maine before we crossed over into Canada.  The leaves were changing and it was beautiful.  About 30 minutes later, it was dark and we eventually found the border.  It is REALLY far north.  Duh.  We got over the border with no problem, and were having a good laugh about the moose caution signs being in French when I nearly hit one.  I mean, nearly.  Close call.

Once we got to Quebec it was late and we passed out fast.  We got up fairly early and spent most of the day in old Quebec.  We went to the market, got an amazing feast, and spent the day wandering and enjoying a beautiful old city.

After this idyllic day, we woke up Friday morning and it was cold and raining.  Really cold.  Really a lot of rain.  And, for those of you that may be in the pool, the big fight finally happened (Day 86) sooooooo…   What I am saying is that it was miserable and we were too.  So we left.  TAKE THAT QUEBEC!

We drove to Montreal as fast as the Element would get us there.  AND IT WAS GLORIOUS.

Except that the second of 2 cameras finally died.  And, I don’t speak French.  I forgot to mention that in the Quebec City part.  Turns out, when someone speaks the language of the French to me, my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth and it gets very dry.  Yes, I freeze.  Luckily, despite mercilessly making fun of Brian, he continued to practice a drill he found on his phone.  With that information, he ordered us coffee and found a way to buy us cheese.  It didn’t hurt that nearly everyone is bilingual and so very kind.  After one bonn-jooour out of my mouth, they switched pretty fast.  Thank you to everyone who didn’t allow me to attempt to butcher the language.

We did go to the Marche Rouge and bought all kinds of fruits and some bread.  There were these little mini tomatillo like fruits that we bought:

GROUND CHERRIES!

What are these things?  The one person I asked thought that they were called ground cherries.  They sure are a lot like tomatillo kiwis.

Before the camera broke, nearly all my photos in Montreal were from the market so, thats all I’ve got on that front.  We intended to stay Friday and Saturday night.  Almost as soon as we got into town, we decided to see if we could stay Sunday night too.  Then, on Saturday, we decided to stay Monday night.  This was another airbnb stop and we were super lucky with both the people that rented to us and the location. We couldn’t get enough of the area – there was just too much to see and we still didn’t make it very far! Mont Royal, bagels, lots of coffee, and a nice lady that got me an appointment to get my haircut are the highlights.

Sadly, we got up Tuesday morning and are heading to New York so that Brian can work a few more days and then we go to Syracuse!

foux du fafa



foux du fafa, originally uploaded by squeezbox.

Fabiane’s in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NYC is where the Flight of the Conchords’ hilarious ‘foux du fafa’ sketch starts.

It’s all so very apropos because our entire Montreal experience has been a continuous ‘foux de fafa’ moment, running around this amazing town, trying to communicate using only the most basic of French words and phrases.

Montreal is a fantastic blend of English and French, North American with European flair. Lots of very fashionable people riding their European-style bikes along streets with the same kinds of cars you’d find in the US. Shops, bars, restaurants, galleries in every direction for blocks and blocks. Bike lanes everywhere. We rode all over the place. It has become the new high watermark for this journey. We loved it so much, we stayed on for 2 more days.

I’ll go ahead and create a new stereotype. All Canadians are super friendly (unless you’re on the Hockey rink, but that’s different). I guess the culture is becoming more English-friendly than it has been in the past. The French speakers happily switch to English and no one gives you attitude about anything. If you’ve been to Europe during the Bush years, you know what I’m talking about. We’re lucky and grateful for that. A woman at a dress shop called and set up a salon appointment for Jenn. A shoe salesman turned us on to a great coffee shop, a Peruvian sandwich shop, a smoked meat shop and a bagel shop, and gave us the lowdown of the area. We didn’t buy anything from them, they just like tourists and are happy to show people around.

In the meantime: