Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Random Travel Update 26

Last Location: Farmington, Utah
Arrival Date: June 5, 2008
Departure Date: July 16, 2008

Current location: Seoul, ROK
Arrival Date: July 16, 2008
Departure Date: Undetermined

Next location: Undetermined
July 16, 2008
I am in the Salt Lake City airport awaiting boarding for my flight to Seoul via San Francisco. I stayed up most of the night, more out of tradition than an actual need to accomplish anything. I packed early this time to avoid the frantic organizational frenzy of stress that usually precedes my international adventures.

Yesterday was a great day. I feel as though there is some force out there conspiring to make my life really awesome. Jon had a mountain bike race at Solitude. I sat and watched the race, contemplating the mountain scenery and fresh air, wondering why I would ever voluntarily leave it. They gave each participant a raffle ticket, and because she had to leave early, one of the lady racers gave us hers. We won on both tickets. Headphones and sunflower seeds.

I ran all of my errands with spectacular grace. The people at DHL corrected an invoice they had overcharged me on and let me pay over the phone rather than having to wait for a paper invoice to arrive in Utah. The people at the optometrist had run out of contacts in my prescription and so offered to ship the whole year's supply to me in Korea free of charge. The people at the Apple Store online told me not to worry about returning a case that I didn't like, they would ship me a new one, worth $80 more for no additional charge. (I love Apple).

Jon's mom Kathy, baked our favorite vegan "Better than Sex" cake, for my going away. I think it consists of chocolate cake plus chocolate pudding plus chocolate chips plus chocolate frosting. I ate it for three of my last five meals. I figure I won't be getting much Better than Sex cake in Korea.

Jon stayed up with me last night and took me to the airport this morning. Such a gentleman, he parked and waited with me all the way through the security line until the last minute when I had to say goodbye. It is hard to leave Jon.

July 19, 2008
It looks like we may be returning to the days where I write updates over several days time and send them off whenever. I have arrived in Seoul. I have no internet, no cell phone and no power adapter to charge my computer. I also have no luggage. The 15 minute delay in my flight out of San Francisco threw the baggage people off enough to not transfer my checked bag in time. Luckily, I considered this possibility and took an extra carry-on bag with toiletries and clothes to last me a week.
July 23, 2008
It has been just about a week since I left the US. Things are going well. I have a cell phone, luggage, sleeping bag (no sheets yet) and I finally learned how to operate my water heater. My Kiwi neighbor and fellow teacher, Jeremy, has been the biggest help in my acclimatization. He has lent me a towel, a power adaptor, comforters, his clothes drying rack, soap, Korean friends and numerous other essentials. Last night him and our other neighbor, Marcus, had a breakthrough with the internet so I now a get intermittent wireless signal in my room. I will work on getting a more powerful router this week to see if that helps.
I will explore a bit longer and then tell you what it is like here. I am not taking too many photos, I figure that I already have two albums dedicated to Seoul on Picasa, but I will collect a few to send later on of things like my school, my neighborhood, recent attempts at vegan cuisine, etc. I hope all is well wherever you are.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Random Travel Update 25

Last Location: Snake River, Idaho; Jackson, Wyoming; Yellowstone, Wyoming; West Yellowstone, Montana
Arrival Date: July 4, 2008
Departure Date: July 6, 2008

Current location: Farmington, Utah
Arrival Date: June 5, 2008
Departure Date: July 16, 2008

Next location: Seoul, South Korea
Arrival Date: July 17, 2008
Departure Date: Undetermined

Of the 39 states I've visited, I think Utah is my favorite. It has a significant, cultured, metropolitan area with several vegan dining options; several recreational areas with opportunities for outdoor adventure including but not limited to skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, shooting, 4-wheeling, and boating; a well educated population contributing to a healthy economy; and a superb social support network consisting of well executed community projects and initiatives. Also, Jon's family lives here and his mom Kathy makes the best low-fat vegan cookie dough ever.

We arrived back in this awesome state on June 5th, in time to attend one of Jon's best childhood friend's wedding celebrations. I think I forgot to send an email out about our trip to Oregon, though I swear I wrote one. I just can't find it in my outbox or saved drafts.

So briefly on Oregon: My freshman year "suitie" ("roomie" is to roommate as "suitie is to suitmate) Diane was there getting ready to join the Peace Corps in Africa. We met up with her our second day in town to do some awesome vegan munching and to check out some of the sites around Portland. Admittedly, we spent more time on eating than on site seeing, but I think that's okay when you're visiting a veg-capital like Portland.

We spent the next few days hanging out with my graduating cousin Mathew, my slightly younger cousin Michael, my mom's sister Rosemary and my uncle Patrick in the picturesque town of Linfield about an hour outside of Portland going 35mph on small town roads. I had a really good time catching up with Mathew and Michael who I haven't seen in maybe a decade. We have way more in common now than we ever did growing up. Mathew is a talented musician and performer who studied philosophy and Michael works at one of my favorite places in the world, The Apple Store.

After parting ways with the extended family, my parents (and Jon) drove us five hours south to Klamath Falls from where we planed a series of excursions to Crater Lake National Park, Lava Beds National Park and the little town of Ashland famous for its outdoor Shakespeare theater where we watched an evening performance of Othello.

Then we left from a little airport on a little plane bound for Utah by way of Portland. I don't remember much about that, other than it being very early and us not having to wait in line to check our luggage.

Utah has been splendid. Many of our stories can be told by photo at www.picasaweb.google.com/a.melissa.meyer I just posted a bunch this week. We have really been making the most of our time with Jon's family and friends before we split for another year of adventure. We went to a local theme park, Lagoon, with Jon's sister that is located one exit down from Jon's parents' place on the freeway. We went to Antelope Island located inside the ever-shrinking Great Salt Lake. I had the time of my life 4-wheeling with Jon and his parents at Simpson Spring, about two hours southwest of Salt Lake. We attended The Salt Lake City Arts Festival in downtown Salt Lake City while Kathy and Jon's sister Alex vacationed in Hawaii.

We visited one of Jon's good childhood friends, Jason, on the set of High School Musical 3, a Disney cult classic for 11-17 year olds. I'm not going to lie. It was pretty sweet to check out a movie scene production. It was everything one would imagine it to be complete with an eccentric director carrying a mini-size dog around the set, a body builder in spandex, several techies on their Macbook Airs, catering service, choreographers doing head-spins on cafeteria tables, and actors and actresses running around giggling and looking cute for each other. We even got to see Zanessa/Troyella in person (minus points if you know what that means).

We have been to the shooting range a few times with Jon's dad, Paul, and brother, Nate. Paul has an impressive arsenal of firearms, I think there are two rooms and half a garage dedicated to his armory. I am getting progressively better at my aim. It helps that Paul has a rifle with a scope on it. I have been working on my handgun skills as well. I think the little guns are cuter, and they are more compact to carry around if you want to kill someone.

Last weekend, the whole family, except for Nate who had to work, sailed down Idaho's Snake River on Paul's drift boat. After a night camping out on the river, we hitched the boat up to Paul's truck and headed up to Wyoming where we checked out Jackson Hole, The Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone. This was a treat for me as I have never been to the country's oldest national park and have been dying to see it since I found out it is a mere five hour drive from Utah. I also got to check off three more US states since we went through Montana on our way out of Yellowstone.

So it has been pretty much awesome. Yesterday we went ice-skating at the rec center for only $5. Shortly, we will head up to Park City to ride the alpine slide and then head back down to the city to see a free outdoor concert. One of my favorite groups, The Roots, is playing. Don't know yet what we'll do for the weekend, but it will be something awesome. I just booked my ticket for Korea. I depart on the 16th, and arrive in Seoul next Thursday, one week from today. A year of international travel will follow. More updates to come…