Back in the U.S. of A!

Welllllll…..it’s been a couple of months since we’ve been back in the good ol’ U.S of A. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that it actually felt like our trip ended mainly because we’ve spent the last few months in cities all over the States catching up with friends and family.And boy have they spoiled us rotten since our return!

After departing Seoul, we flew to San Francisco where we stayed for three nights to catch up with friends. We met our friend Georgeanna and set off to find our favorite craft beer and later had our first taste of a home-cooked meal. Not only did we experience wonderful hospitality, but the next evening we were treated to our first real restaurant experience in several months. Georgeanna, manager of SF’s Nopalito, made us reservations at her sister restaurant NOPA where we were treated to whatever we wanted on their menu….for FREE! We ate and drank like kings but the fine dining experience was definitely our first dose of reverse culture shock – the portions, prices and buzz of activity at the popular hot spot was completely overwhelming. We didn’t take any photos in SF…except of the food at NOPA! Thanks for the awesome time, GA/Mike. We miss ya’ll! 1 (1024x768) 2 (1024x768)From San Francisco, we flew to Chicago to spend a few days in the burbs with my family before heading downtown to see some of our besties. A cookout, followed by drinks on the rooftop at Vertigo and Citizen landed me with a lost credit card the next day… yikes! It was totally worth it in the end.20 (1024x768)While in Chicago, we made sure to fit in a trip to visit my grandparents on their beautiful farm in Iowa. We helped my grandparents throw a bingo/pizza party for some relatives, shot some guns and spent time in their awesome garden.5 (1024x768) 3 (1024x768) 6 (1024x768)13 (1024x768)It just so happened that we celebrated our one-year wedding anniversary while in Iowa which was extra special for us because they weren’t able to make it to our wedding last year. Love you grandma and grandpa! 19 (1024x768)Back in Chicago, my girlfriends surprised Chris and me with a one-night stay at the Hard Rock Hotel downtown (not just any room but the ‘platinum suite’!) to celebrate our anniversary. After spending the last year in some really yucky places, we loved and fully appreciated our luxurious digs. 7 (1024x768)It’s been nearly five years since we’ve lived in Chicago so we hit up some of our fave spots in the city before gearing up for another night on the town. Thanks again for the hotel room Cami, Jess and Rach – what a super thoughtful gift. We had an amazing time with you guys…as always!12 (1024x768) 4 (1024x768)Our next stop was Raleigh, North Carolina, where I was anxiously waiting to see my brother, sis-in-law and adorable nephews! We also got a chance to head over to nearby Chapel Hill to see Chris’ sister and nephews in a swim meet.IMG_0603 (1024x768) 10 (1024x768)And of course, we made the rounds to see family and other NC buddies, too!18 (1024x768) 8 (1024x768) photo(13) (640x480)From Raleigh we made our way down to Ocean Isle Beach to visit with Chris’ parents. A couple weeks later, we drove up to meet them in the Appalachian mountains for some hiking and QT! ???????? ???????? ???????? photo(2) (1024x768) photo(3) (1024x768)We finally made it to Kure Beach, on the coast near Wilmington, where we are temporarily living while we look for jobs and settle down into our own place. Until that happens, we’ve been spending time with friends and family in the Wilmington-area and have been having a blast boating, fishing, playing tennis, running on the beach, going to concerts and enjoying our last few weeks of funemployment!photo(11) (1024x768) photo(12) (1024x768) photo(14) (1024x768)photo(9) (1024x768) IMG_3516 (1024x768) 14 (1024x768) 16 (1024x768) 11 (1024x768)IMG_5364 (1024x731)IMG_6561 (1024x731)A big thanks to my dad and step-mom for letting us crash at their beach house until we are back on our feet – what a view!photo(8) (1024x768) photo(7) (1024x768)All of the above has been taking up our time, which is one reason this post is overdue! The other reason it has taken so long for us to post is because we needed to marinate on our experience and to filter through all of the emotions we’ve experienced returning to life in the States. At times it was stressful and overwhelming, especially not being on-the-go every day and preparing to rejoin the workforce. What has really grounded us is our drive to be successful in our career and continuing to enjoy time with our loved ones.

Thanks again to everyone for all of the love, prayers and happy thoughts. Here’s to the next chapter!17 (1024x768)

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Annnnd We’re Off!

“A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.” – Chinese Proverb

Hello from Miami! After a very eventful last day in Raleigh, we’ve made it to SoBe this morning where we depart for Quito in just a few hours.  It feels surreal to be starting our adventure after a year of planning!

Between the two of us, there is a wide range of emotions as we prepare to embark on our journey – nervous, anxious, excited and even a little scared. We find comfort in the fact that we’ve prepared as much as we could and now we just have to be flexible for whatever comes our way. We put this mantra to good practice yesterday when we called to confirm our flights, only to learn they were cancelled! Things have a way of working themselves out. All you can do is try to maintain a positive attitude when life throws you a curve ball. We’ve re-booked our flights and are well on our way as originally planned. Hooray!

We’re both equipped with all the clothes, medications, toiletries and travel gear we think we’ll need for the next year. Our cell phones have been cancelled, our few possessions are in storage and everything we are taking for the next year is packed away in four backpacks. We are ready; we just hope South America is ready for us!

A big thank you to everyone who bought us travel gear and equipment from our wedding honeyfund! We also wanted to thank everyone for their love, blessings, support and hospitality over the past month. We feel very fortunate to have such amazing friends and family to come back to when we return.

Look out Ecuador, here we come!

Wow, What An Amazing Wedding Week!

We were so consumed with wedding activities that we neglected to take photos to document these past few weeks. However, thanks to several friends, we have some great photos to share of our wedding week (with more to come from our photographer later I’m sure).

Wedding festivities kicked off with a rehearsal dinner (read: pig pickin’ and southern feast) in our backyard.  A whole hog and bridal keg stand was the perfect nightcap for the evening before the big day.

The weather forecast showed rain and scattered thunderstorms but it turned out to be the most perfect day for a ceremony at the beach.

Afterwards, we danced the night away at the Fort Fisher Aquarium while tanks of sharks, sting rays and fish observed our shenanigans.

The wedding weekend didn’t stop there. We were fortunate to have friends and family in town for the rest of the week! I think we are still recovering from their stay. We are so lucky to have such great people in our lives. Thank you all for making this past week so wonderful and unforgettable!

So what’s next? We are staying at the beach for the 4th of July before we head to Raleigh where we’ll spend time with family and friends before our flight departs for Quito, Ecuador.  One week until we depart on our honeytrip!!

Road Tripping Coast to Coast

After packing up a 4 x 8 foot trailer with all of our belongings, we hit the road and said goodbye to San Francisco after nearly three amazing years. 12 states, 3,000+ miles, four hotels, one campsite , three blow up beds and nearly two weeks later, we’ve made it all the way from San Francisco to Wilmington, North Carolina.

Our first stop was the Grand Canyon via Needles, California. We set up our campsite at the Mather campground in the heart of Grand Canyon National Park. The temperature was in the 90’s in the south rim, but at night temps dropped to nearly freezing.  It was the first time either of us has been there and it far exceeded our expectations. At times, it almost looks and feels surreal.

We spent the better part of two days hiking along the canyon rim and down into the canyon. The canyon can really get your adrenaline going, especially when you stand on the edge of a cliff looking at the ground a mile below. The sight is so breathtaking, it can make you go weak in the knees.

From the Grand Canyon, we traveled along I-40 making overnight pit stops in Albuquerque and Oklahoma City. It wasn’t until we reached Memphis that we really took our time to enjoy our surroundings again.

Memphis was lively and soulful, but most of all delicious. We ate and drank our way through the city starting with the best fried chicken we’ve ever had at Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. We hit up multiple bars and Blues joints on Beale Street before finally calling it a night. The next morning, we stopped by the Peabody Hotel to watch the duck procession and went to find a barbeque joint for lunch. We found the Bar-B-Q Shop where we indulged in dry rub ribs and pulled pork sandwiches. It.was.amazing.

After Memphis, we stopped in Atlanta and Raleigh to visit friends, family and to unpack our trailer of belongings. As soon as we hit the North Carolina state line, we were relieved to have made it the entire way in one piece!

Although we’re both currently unemployed, our days are completely filled with wedding planning (with a little bit of trip planning sprinkled in, too). Luckily, we are able to sneak in a few hours of quality beach time as well.

T-minus ten days until the wedding and less than one month until our plane departs to Quito, Ecuador!

So Long, San Francisco. Hello, World!

Memorial Day weekend was our last weekend in San Francisco. What better way to celebrate than by attending the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th anniversary party? We spent some time at our neighbor’s house drinking mimosas and watching the boats in the bay before heading out with masses to watch the fireworks show in Fort Mason, one of our favorite spots in the city.

The rest of the weekend was filled with packing and cleaning. We’ve sold all of our belongings and packed everything else.  We no longer own a bed, television, microwave, grill, sofa, kitchen table, coffee table, etc. You name it, we don’t own it.  All we have are bags of clothes and some items we can’t bear to part with (read: photos, Annie’s favorite dishes and Chris’ guns). In so many ways, it is incredibly liberating. In other ways, it’s crazy scary.

So what’s next? Although we don’t embark on our RTW trip until July 10, in a small way our worldly adventure starts this Friday when leave the city and begin our ten day road trip back to the east coast. The highlights include camping at the Grand Canyon for a few nights, eating our way through barbeque joints in Memphis and visiting friends and family in Atlanta before our pre-wedding festivities begin in North Carolina.  We also have planned pit-stops at the Petrified Forest in Arizona, Albuquerque and Oklahoma City.

Wow. We cannot believe how quickly these past 2.5 years have flown by! Leaving San Francisco is so bittersweet and words cannot describe how rich our experience has been here. We have so many amazing memories we will be taking with us and are so lucky to have met new friends and such great people. We will miss our apartment, which is probably the most unique place we’ll ever live, complete with a never ending staircase (well, we may not miss the 117 steps to our front door) and wild parrots.

Thanks to everyone who made our time here so amazing, we’ll miss you all but will see you soon-ish. Until then, farewell San Francisco…it’s been a great and wild ride!