A chronicle of Alison and Ron's trip around the world in 2009-2010.


"Not all those who wander are lost"
- Tolkien

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Furry Critters


Oh, what do I do about my kitties?! They are my babies, my zen masters, the furry loves of my critter life, and it pains my heart to be apart for more than a week let alone more than a year. My dad has agreed to take them. And also promised not to let them outside (since they will surely be eaten by wolves in the back country of Oklahoma). He was definitely stressed when I first asked him this huge favor, not exactly being a cat lover, but I can tell he is warming to the idea. And I know deep down that he will fall in love with them and then not want to give them back. I have to resign to this likely possibility that I will lose my cats forever.

"meeeeaaaaaaaaaorrr" <-- sad meow

I love how I wake up every morning with Cooper snuggled in to the crook of my arm and how Sushi keeps me company in the office, sleeping on the back of the desk where the monitor warms the wood. My sweet furry critters, of all the things I leave behind, I will miss you the most of all!

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Lovers and Haters

I can put every person in my life from friends, family, acquaintances, and colleagues in to two distinct categories. The lovers and the haters. People who think this trip is the most fantastic thing they've ever heard of, they've done it before or dreamed of doing it. Their eyes are wild with jealousy, to live vicariously off every single exotic city that falls from your lips or smile broadly with the confidence that they've made a leap just like this one and are better, wiser, and fuller because of it.

And then there are the other people, the Haters, that have to bring up every practical and very reasonable explanation about how this plan to travel the world is not reasonable at all. You don't have enough money. You're going to blow your entire savings?! It won't be all its cracked up to be. Just take a month off and go back to work. The economy is in the toilet. You won't be able to find a job when you get back. You'll wish you didn't go. Or will I?


To the Haters out there. Why you hatin? Thanks for your concern. I know you do it because you love me. But if you love me, you gotta support me. Because this is my life. Queue music. I have this silly business card I made and carry around in my wallet that says: Executive Director, My Life to remind myself who is in charge. Y'know we all have total control over our lives but we usually don't feel that way. We make a constant stream of choices that shape everything we have and if we aren't happy then there is only one person you can complain to.

Nifty (and relevant) quote from Steve Jobs:

“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”


So I stared at my myself, into my own eyes, and promptly fired the girl in the mirror. I am more than my resume. My life won't be measured by a list of accomplishments in perfect order that read like every other person on this block like every block in every town of the country. And the world could go down in flames tomorrow, or I could get hit by a bus and then all this careful long term planning is bullsh*t. So I'm going for it! I'm gonna spend all those pennies I saved for a rainy day, and when it rains I'm going to make a poncho out of my gleeful memories and dance in the street.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Couchsurfing


Ron and I recently joined the site couchsurfing.com so we could host guests for awhile before the trip and see if staying with people was a viable option.

We are both home-bodies and only averagely social so at first the thought of opening our home up was a little worrisome. It's already stressful working more then full-time and planning this trip. Also, we live in an open loft space so there are no doors and not a lot of privacy. But then if we wouldn't open our doors, why should we expect someone to welcome us later when we were on the other side?

I've browsed a lot of places, and people offer their couches up when they themselves don't have very much in the way of comforts. Isn't it weird that the more you have, the less you are willing to share? There are people with 5 bedroom homes and actual guest rooms out there that wouldn't dream of doing this. It's silly when you think about it. So all of you with couches and guest rooms, consider joining and spreading the love! Or if not you can just wait until Ron and I are back in the US, jobless and homeless, and need a place to crash for a night or two or twelve. We'll be good house guests, I promise! I can provide you with computer support and Ron will cook up some mean BBQ. It'll be a blast.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

What Really Happened

The actual itinerary of the cities we visited:

6/2/09 - Dublin, Ireland
6/5/09 - Galway, Ireland
6/7/09 - Prague, Czech Republic
6/11/09 - Agia Pelagia, Crete, Greece
6/13/09 - Rethymnos, Crete, Greece
6/15/09 - Hania, Crete. Greece
6/18/09 - Iraklio, Crete, Greece
6/19/09 - Perivolos Beach, Santorini, Greece
6/22/09 - Klissidi Beach, Anafi, Greece
6/23/09 - Hora, Anafi, Greece
6/28/09 - Naxos, Greece
6/29/09 - Syros, Greece
6/30/09 - Patmos, Greece
7/7/09 - Bodrum, Turkey
7/12/09 - Konya, Turkey
7/13/09 - Goreme, Turkey
7/20/09 - Istanbul, Turkey
7/25/09 - Sofia, Bulgaria
7/27 09 - 30 hour overnight train thru Serbia
7/28/09 - Budapest, Hungary
8/5/09 - Vienna, Austria
8/7/09 - Venice, Italy
8/10/09 - Rome, Italy
8/18/09 - Paris, France
9/2/09 - Casablanca, Morocco
9/4/09 - Rabat, Morocco


9/8/09 - Kokrobite Beach, Ghana
9/19/09 - Atinpoku, Ghana
9/21/09 - Somewhere on Lake Volta
9/22/09 - Yeji, Ghana
9/23/09 - Tamale, Ghana
9/27/09 - Mole National Park
10/2/09 - Kumasi, Ghana
10/4/09 - Lake Bosumtwi, Ghana
10/09/09 - Accra, Ghana


10/11/09 - Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
10/13/09 - Delhi, India
10/16/09 - Jaipur, India
10/24/09 - Agra, India
10/26/09 - Delhi, India
10/29/09 - Kathmandu, Nepal
11/5/09 - Pokhara, Nepal

Annapurna Sanctuary Trek
11/8/09 - Tirkhedunga
11/9/09 - Ghorepani
11/11/09 - Chuile
11/12/09 - Chomrong
11/14/09 - Dovan
11/15/09 - Machhapuchhre Base Camp
11/16/09 - Annapurna Base Camp
11/17/09 - Bamboo
11/18/09 - Jhinu Danda


11/20/09 - Pokhara, Nepal
12/7/09 - Kathmandu, Nepal
12/10/09 - Bus to Saunali, bus to Gorakpur, then overnight train to Varanasi
12/11/09 - Varanasi, India
12/17/09 - Bogmalo Beach, South Goa, India
12/21/09 - Arrosim Beach, South Goa, India
12/28/09 - Chennai Airport enroute to Bangkok
12/29/09 - Koh Mak, Thailand
1/8/10 - Koh Chang, Thailand
1/16/10 - Koh Mak, Thailand
1/25/10 - Phnom Penh, Cambodia
1/27/10 - Siem Reap, Cambodia
2/9/10 - Phnom Penh, Cambodia
2/11/10 - Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam
2/18/10 - Nha Trang, Vietnam
2/28/10 - Hoi An, Vietnam
3/4/10 - Hanoi, Vietnam
3/5/10 - Halong Bay, Vietnam
3/7/10 - Hanoi, Vietnam
3/8/10 - Tokyo, Japan

Back to the US!

3/9/10 - Guthrie, OK
4/12/10 - San Francisco, CA
4/13/10 - Sonoma Valley, CA
4/14/10 - Yosemite National Park
4/15/10 - San Francisco, CA
4/23/10 - San Diego, CA



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Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Plan

Everyone asks, so what's the plan? The plan is to come up with a plan. The plan is to not have a plan. A man without a plan isn't a man.

At this point the plan is to work until May 1st and then spend the rest of the month packing and taking care of loose ends. Storing one car, selling the other. Donating or selling most of the useless crap we've collected over the years, packing the rest in a pod for later delivery to our new abode. Driving camping gear up to Moms house in Washington (for later use on the US leg of the tour - if we aren't broke and exhausted by then), and flying my cats to my Dads in Oklahoma.

The general itinerary is still under much discussion and debate. And it seems to double in size every time we talk about it. I'm in favor of pairing it down to a few places so we can spend more time, not feel rushed or hurried, and actually know what its like to live there. Basically, anywhere we can go back on a 2-week vacation later in life should be stricken from the list but it's sooooooo hard to not want to go EVERYWHERE!

Here is the first draft:
Greece
Italy
Netherlands
France
Ghana
India
Nepal
Thailand
Cambodia
Bali
Hong Kong
Peru
Brazil
Costa Rica
Belize


Ron also wants to add Egypt (me not so interested) and New Zealand.

I'm going to leave this post up unedited to see how close we are to what we actually do. I bet you a nickel it is not close at all and our best adventures haven't even been dreamt of yet. And the best part is that nickel will buy us twelve chai teas in Goa. So thanks in advance : )

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Shittin Pretty

One of my main curiosities about this trip is the bathroom situation. Hearing about squatty potties and all the new challenges, Ron seemed even more anxious then me for the familiar and the private so I bought this book for him. But I was heading to NY for business, and I always need a new book for the long plane ride and nights in the hotel so I took along it with me.

WARNING: this next section may contain what is commonly referred to as "too much information".

Well, now its me with the toilet anxiety, pardon the pun but you might call me scared sh*tless. I really don't want to squat in a hole shoulder to shoulder with a row of other women or be followed around and watched while I go pee because I look exotic. I mean c'mon, there should be some mystery! And I'm not really fast at all. Ron has me beat there, he can go in like 60 seconds or less. I take my time. I have a whole routine that just cannot be rushed. I need my coffee and my book of puzzles and my cat curled up at my feet and a half hour of quiet alone time. I don't think I can even squat for more than a couple minutes before my legs cramp up. I guess I should start practicing....

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Travel Partners-in-Crime


Ron, my boyfriend of 4+ years, has decided to come along on the trip! Since he has his own home restoration business, it's easy to tell the boss he's going to take a 52-week vacation. The only loose end he has is a condo he bought a few years back that he'll rent out and his cousin has graciously agreed to play landlord while he's away.

It's funny I've realized recently that the steady freddy man with traditional priorities, who I always thought of as the man of my dreams would probably never quit his job to gallivant around the globe with me. But how fortunate am I that Ron shares my dream of world travel and is ready to hit the open road.

We are so excited to take this once-in-a-lifetime trip together. Most of you know, our nickname for each other is "Critter" and we have a little saying every Friday that "It's Friday Critters!" so we get revved up for the weekend and spending time together. Well now it's Friday Critters for an entire year! Boggles my mind how fortunate we are to be able to do this.

Watch out for the International Critters coming to an exotic locale not-so-near you.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Butterfly Effect




There are so many good metaphors about butterflies. They seem to lead ultra-charmed lives. So uniquely fashioned. Flitting from here to there, they always capture your attention with a little girl gaze that makes you run chasing after this beautiful creature regardless of your age.


And just like that magic, I have to wonder what brought me to this place. What was the small, imperceptible change that has given me the strength and courage to abandon a perfectly good career and life for adventure on the road? I mean, yes, I’ve been thinking about this for years. Weighing pros and cons. It hasn’t been a mere whim. But what was the tipping point that made this dream start to formalize as a plan?



Did it start 10 years ago on my first taste of backpacking on break from college one summer? As I floated weightlessly in the warm ocean off the coast of Antibes. I looked up and couldn’t tell the difference between ocean and sky, between me and anything else. It was the first and only (and hopefully not last) feeling of utter bliss I ever felt. It was like god, with a little g. It was what all those books on buddhism were talking about one-ness. It was the present moment. So pure and real, was it just that moment that I’ve yearned for ever since?



Or maybe it was the mid-30’s crisis coming on. Is this all I’m supposed to do with my life? I kindof fell into it, and now this is it? I have all my days and meetings and deadlines scheduled and repeating in Lotus Notes for the next 30 years. And the house I can’t afford in the city is an hour commute away, and now I can’t walk to work I need to buy a fuel efficient car, and then I need the husband to go with the house and the car, and I’m getting older by the minute better start thinking about babies and before you know it it’s over. WAIT!! Where did my life just go?! It became a series of hallmark cards, Macy’s parades and half burnt apple pies while I toiled at my desk to make enough money to look like I belong sitting behind my desk.



I think this taking stock has led me to look at who I am and my trajectory and the realization that you only get one turn on this crazy little planet so better use it wisely. And fast. I don’t think I’ll look back on my life and say, “Geez, I really wish I had been a Senior Vice President” but I think if I don’t take a chance and go after this I’ll regret that I could have taken an amazing trip around the world while I was young and wild enough to enjoy it.



"Now I do not know whether I was then a girl dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a girl."



Either way I'm shedding my caterpillar skin and taking flight out in the big, bright world. No more god-awful-couldn't-have-picked-the-worst-sound-in-the-world-to-wakeup-to alarm clocks. No more malls and overstuffed shopping bags and understuffed souls. No more ugly fluorescent lights slowly homogenizing my life. No more for me. I've had all I can eat Mom, can I go out and play now?



(I just hope I don't unwittingly make a good lunch for some hungry praying mantis.)



Wish me luck. Flit flit flit....


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