Back in the U.S. of A!

Welllllll…’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)


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!!

Family Reunion(s) in North Carolina

July 4th weekend was spent all over North Carolina (Charlotte, Raleigh, Wilmington, Kure Beach and Ocean Isle) with relatives from both of our families.Thanks to everyone for making this week such a great time, we love you all and miss you lots.

A big 70th birthday shout out to Nate Cantrell, here’s to many more!

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