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Saturday, November 24, 2012

A New Friend!

Barbara and I are excited to report that a new friend will be joining us throughout our Peace Corps travels.  Our new arctic buddy Bowdoin came down to join us all the way from Brunswick, ME. Can't wait to hit the road together bright and early Monday morning!

Two arctic buddies getting ready for an African adventure
As soon as I manage to organize the mass chaos that my room has become and get things packed up and ready to go the obligatory packing list post will be coming your way!
The chaos. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mega Time on the Mega Bus

What started out as a short 4 day jaunt to meet up with my frogolist field partner Night Ox aka Marissa quickly snowballed into a weeklong bus trek across the midwest. I figured I was closer to Minneapolis and Madison then than I will be for the next 27 months, and it would be foolish to let such a magical bus-travelling adventure pass me by!

So Barbara and I packed some bags and headed out on our maiden Mega Bus voyage. The Mega Bus is the double-decker big brother of Greyhound, complete with WIFI, outlets, and wonderfully reclining seats. What a luxury to enjoy the miles without paying tolls or worrying about falling asleep at the wheel. So we headed off to spend three glorious days exploring the windy city: visiting the Shedd Aquarium and Lincoln Park Zoo, indulging in incredible veggie fare at the Chicago Diner (they have the most delicious meat-free hot wings!!), and carving masterful jack-o-lanterns.

It was wonderful to relive my favorite frog-catching, toad-licking memories from the summer and create new ones during our big city adventure-- a round of "Warm Kitty, Soft Kitty" anyone? What a huge difference from the days of Camp Skanks where we lived and worked from our beloved Dodge Durango named Dylan for 3 1/2 months. But alas, 325 Ryan Gosling movies, 453 bottles of wine, and endless amounts of laughter later my time in Chicago came to an end, and it was back to the bus with me.

The best pumpkin I've ever carved (right). Seriously!
Barbara made some new friends at the Shedd

After seemingly endless miles, minutes, and cornfields of bus sitting later, we found ourselves in the best parking lot Minneapolis has to offer. That's the thing about Mega Bus, the stops are pretty random and often inconspicuous, denoted only by a small street pole sign. But I digress. . .

Despite the short notice we managed to snag ourselves a native Minnesotan tour guide to show us around. (Thanks Sam!). With more than 10,000 lakes to choose from, it's hard to know where to start but we went for the classic: Superior. As it was my first trip to Duluth and the north shore, we went on the whirlwind tour: hiking the Superior Hiking Trail, visiting the lift bridge, checking out the acoustics at the UMD library, and topping the day off with delicious food and brews at Fitgers Brewery. While I'd never concede that it's the greatest Great Lake, it was spectacular enough that I'll call it a close second--to Erie of course.  ;)

Duluth's famous lift bridge 

Not 48 hours after arriving in Minnesota, I once again found myself on the Mega Bus-- this time going to visit my brother in Madison, WI. I'm grateful we had time to catch up now before the Thanksgiving and pre-Peace Corps stress avalanche comes calling. Although the visit was painfully short we managed to squeeze in plenty of sib bonding time.  For all the great things we did, the cherry on top had to be visiting his office. The halls and grounds are filled with countless works of beautiful artwork, culminating in a visit to the ever popular rideable banana. I don't get it, but I do love it! 

After 30+ hours of Mega Bus travel time, I'm happy to be back home in Ohio until I ship out for Guinea. These days it's back to reality as I prep for my going away/ holiday palooza party, work on fine tuning my packing list, and get ready for Thanksgiving. Time is flying! 

Signing out for now, but the obligatory packing list post will be coming soon (as soon as I know what I'm bringing myself)!