A Traveler’s Terrene

You only live once. What are you going to remember the most?

50 Reasons to Take a Mini-Retirement Now: #47 February 24, 2010

Save money by taking a mini-retirement.

If you choose your destination wisely, you can live in luxury while saving money in the process.  Traveling in Southeast Asia, for example, one can enjoy a beautiful lifestyle for less than $1000 a month.  imagine $6 a night bungalows a few hundred feet away from a white sandy beach or a $13 hotel room equipped with air conditioning and a pool. And, although I didn’t do it, I did hear of people renting nice apartments for around $500 a month if you prefer to base yourself in one location.

What can $1000 a month get you in Seattle where I was living before I left on my world tour?  Of course it depends on what kind of housing you live in, but on average $1000 would probably cover rent for one person, utilities and a night or two out on the town.  However, it probably wouldn’t be enough to cover cell phone bills, groceries, car payment, gas etc.

There is often times a misconception that one needs to be rich in order to travel, but trust me you don’t!  If you have the opportunity of going to a low-cost country you can actually save money as the cost of living is probably higher in your place of origin.  Think of that…you should go live a abroad in order to SAVE money! See the world, experience culture  and save money for retirement, by taking a mini-retirement now.

 

Simple Moments of Country Life January 26, 2009

I love the city. Bright lights, restaurants galore and endless entertainment options. The city arguably has everything a girl could want…well, almost.  After the countless nights of parading across town in high heels, short dresses and makeup, things become routine.  In a city, you are surrounded by what seems like a plethora of options: Thai food or Italian, Hollywood blockbuster or independent film, wine bar or pub, concert or performance, art gallery or coffeshop art, jazz or hip hop, rock climbing or ice skating.  There are so many choices of entertainment but upon closer inspection, the so called plethora of options are condensed into seven main categories: dining, movies, bars, concerts/performance, art, music or sports.  Occasionally you’ll find an event that breaks the mold of a typical Saturday night out like a beer pong tournament or national geographic lecture, but these seem few and far between. And, for the budget conscious person…*cough*…most of these entertainment options cost money! For two people you’re often looking at least $30 on dinner, $15 on movie tickets, $20-100 on your average bar bill, $40-200 on a concert/performance, at least $10 cover for live music and $20 at the climbing wall. This doesn’t even count the parking, gas or taxi costs.  Man oh man…I already feel a hole forming in my wallet.  And, during this economic crisis, that hole just keeps getting bigger and bigger until *poof!* where did my wallet go? Where is my money? All I want is to be entertained. All I want is a fun moment to remember!

One of the so called downfalls of living in a small town is that there are not a lot of entertainment options. When I first moved to Seattle and told people I was from Davenport, population 1500, people gasped, “What do you do? Do you even have television?”

“Yes, we have television and even Internet–crazy I know!” I would say. But, city people are right, there are not a lot things to do in Davenport. Correction, there are not a lot of things that you can pay to do. Besides bowling and…yup, well that’s about it.

So, what do you do in a small town then? Well, you get creative. You turn the simple things in life into entertainment and along the way you find that often times they are just as fun and more memorable than the cookie cutter options of city entertainment.

Last night for example,  I pulled on a pair of old blue jeans, laced up my boots and layered up with thermals and an old coat to combat the 9 degree weather outside before leaving my parent’s house to go help feed a newborn calf that had been abandoned by the mother.

Upon the first visit, we tried to get the mother to let the calf feed from her own milk. After several attempts and the mother nearly squashing her own calf, we left in a big blue pickup and later returned with an esophageal feeder, which basically looks like a giant UV sac and hose. We filled the sac with milk, glided the hose down the calf’s throat and in less the a minute the milk was on it’s way to filling the calf’s stomach.  The calf was so little it wobbled when it walked and you could easily hold it in your arms.

Although I know I could never move back to a town as small as Davenport, I am thankful that I was raised here and learned to appreciate the simple things in life.  It’s made me realize throughout the years that memories don’t need to wear a price tag. You don’t need to spend money in order to create a memorable moment. For me, it the moments that are random, unexpected and often times free that I cherish and remember the most–like holding a newborn cafe on a freezing winter night.

 

Update: NOT a message by George Carlin January 15, 2009

The amazing thing about the web is that it is a gatekeeper for false information. My friend Patrick informed me that this widely circulated essay known as, “The Paradox of Our Time” is not written by George Carlin, but rather Dr. Bob Moorehead, former pastor of Seattle’s Overlake Christian Church. Thank you Patrick for pointing this out, and “whoo whoo” to Dr. Moorehead for being from Seattle!

Here is the post Patrick sent me discussing this topic: http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/paradox.asp

 

Finding Serenity… January 10, 2009

Hotel Deca

Right now I am sitting on a purple velvet sofa in front of warm fire. A skinny sugar-free Carmel latte’ in hand, I am warm on both the inside and out.  The walls are decorated with large pieces of art–oil on canvas–my favorite. There is a tall dark wooden book shelf to my right lined with colorful glass vases that reflect the dim light given off by the frosted glass lamps lining each of the two columns in the entrance way which are jutting upwards like tulips glistening in the yellow sun, constantly reaching for that warm ray of light. Instrumental music is playing from the speakers overhead, it is a combination of jazz and spa-like melodies enhancing my surrounding like smooth whip cream on top of a steaming hot chocolate–it just wouldn’t be complete with out it.

My leather bound journal is lying open next to me, lusting for attention like a women lying naked on her back in bed.  Black ink covers the page, words for my book are staring back at me as I type them into a Google document. Words I wrote while in the airport coming back from California, on my brother’s couch in Kenmore, during a traffic jam in Bellevue–materializing on paper when I finally get the opportunity to isolate myself and write, which has been infrequent since I have been back in Seattle.

Writing has become a drug: I want to write all the time, and the cravings only intensify when I can’t get my fix. I have become an addict. I’ll be out with friends, watching my nephew, hanging out with my family–all of things I want to do, but with an addiction, you have no control over the feelings affecting your mind and body. My fingers beat the table, yearning for my keyboard–I want to feel the keys under my fingertips, I ache to see the words fill the wall of whiteness in front of me, I lust after the emotions that fill my insides as I write, overwhelming me like a storm in the sea, rising and falling, thrashing ferociously and then suddenly–everything becomes calm.  A feeling of tranquility rushes through me.  I am in my zen. I have found serenity.

 

2009 in California! January 5, 2009

2008 passed with some of the most incredible and unforgettable memories of my life, and I couldn’t have asked of a better way to kick off 2009 then by hanging out with some of my closest friends back in the States after 1o months of traveling the world. Each minute I am home I feel blessed to have the opportunity to be surrounded by those who I love and missed.

Jamie and Beck graciously hosted Davey, Sarah, Tommy and I at their apartment in Pasadena, California. We spent New Years Eve with cocktails in hand playing board games before heading out to Barcelona, a fun Mexican restaurant, for tapas and a celebration of the coming year.  We decided to opt out on $30 cover charges and $10 drinks and headed back to the apartment after celebrating the stroke of midnight in the middle of the street with huge hugs and bright smiles.

The following morning we slept through the infamous Tournament of Roses Parade, but were able to get out the door by noon and walked to the Rose Bowl for a good ol’fashion, all-American tailgate! We made friends with the USC crowd, played football until our shoulders were sore  and found our way to Barney’s Beanery, one of the best sports bars in Pasadena, before taking Davy and Sarah to the airport.

For Jamie’s birthday the following day we celebrated with lime margaritas and played more board games before going to Gyu Kayu, a Korean BBQ restaurant and one of the most entertaining ways to eat a meal. I tried Korean BBQ once before and if you’ve never done it I would highly recommend that you put it on your immediate list of things to do. A small BBQ takes up the middle of the table, which after ordering your choice of raw vegetables or meats, you can grill to your own likening and perfection.  And nothing tops off healthy Korean food and garlic noodles than a round of Saki shots which we received complimentary by our waiter in addition to Jamie’s bowl of ice cream topped with a birthday candle. After dinner we were in route to another bar, when a rep from the club we were going to go to the night unexpectedly approached us and offered to get us in for free! Who can resist free? As you can imagine, we spent the remainder of Jamie’s birthday in the club on the dance floor.

The next morning after cream frosted cinnamon rolls and hot coffee, we packed our bags and made the two hour drive past green and brown palm trees, rolling dessert hills and hundreds of wind mills on our way to Palm Springs. We arrived mid-afternoon and after checking into our hotel we relaxed before firing up the grill and cooking up a steak and salad dinner. Although all of us were pretty tired from the previous three days of non-stop festivities…we knew we couldn’t be boring and decided to head to the Fantasy Springs Casino where Tommy’s beginner’s luck won him $50, the rest of lost a little pocket change and we all went home with smokey hair and clothes (yuck!).

Today we dropped off Tommy at the airport and headed to Starbucks for a much needed coffee. We spent the remainder of the afternoon walking the boardwalk on Venice Beach, having lunch/dinner at a Thai restaurant and catching the remaining glow of a burnt red sunset from  Santa Monica Beach.

Tomorrow I head back to snowy Seattle but hopefully I will catch a few of California’s golden rays before I leave. Thank you Beck and Jamie for such an incredible weekend getaway!

 

Back in the U.S.A December 14, 2008

It was exactly 10 months from today that I boarded a plane for New Zealand. I left my family. I left my boyfriend. I left my friends. I left beautiful Seattle…my home. I challenged myself to take a risk, to be independent, to follow a dream of exploring the world and experiencing culture while it still exists.

I returned to Seattle three days ago with 50 some gigs of photos and experiences that have changed my life. I couldn’t have dreamed of a better trip, better travel companions or better memories while traveling the world.

And, now after 10 months…I am back where I started. I am sitting on a comfy couch in my brother’s warm living room writing on my laptop while the rest of my family (minus my brother Mark who is coming on Monday) sits next to me reading the newspaper or watching t.v. It is as though nothing has changed, everything seems the same. If it weren’t for me being curled up in my blue and green Tibetan shawl I bought in India, I may think that my around the world trip was just a figment of my imagination. But this soft blanket reminds me of all that I have experienced, all that I have DONE in the past 10 months. And, for this I smile.

It was hard to take the plunge and to leave my family, boyfriend, friends and my comfortable life in Seattle. My life was incredible before I left–why would I leave? One word: dreams. Everyone has different dreams and goals. Some people dream of becoming a professional basketball player, while others dream of being the best stay at home mom. There is no wrong dream, it is yours and it is what makes you get up in the morning with a smile on your face and butterflies in your stomach as you quest to fulfill them.

One of my dreams was to travel the world. Ten months ago I was 25, two years into my career but with no car payments, house payments or kids. I was free from the materialistic burdens that tie a person to one place. Besides leaving the people I loved, it was good timing and if I didn’t leave then, I knew I never would.

Now I sit here on the same couch I sat 10 months ago, only this time my body is warmly wrapped in a Tibetan shawl, my head is filled with incredible travel memories and my heart is content that I fulfilled one of my internal passions. I missed many people and things while I was gone, but they were here waiting for me when I got back.

Don’t be afraid to leave the comfort of your home.

Home, is a place you can always return.

 

1 Week Countdown! December 4, 2008

One week from today I will be flying over the Atlantic Ocean and returning home to Seattle after 10 months of globetrotting the world!  This past 10 months has been an experience of a lifetime but there has been many people and things I have missed dearly while being away:

1. My adorable nephew Thomas who was born 2 weeks after I left on my trip and whom I still haven’t met. One week Little Thomas and I will be holding you in my arms! I love you!!!

Thomas smiling

2. My family: Dad, Mom, Cliff, Jordan and Mark…a.k.a. The Swain Gang. I am SO SO SO SO SO excited to see you all. Thank each of you for every smile you bring to my face when I think about you.

3. My second family: Rambos, Olsons, and Hergerts–I can’t wait to see you all over Christmas! Terra, Kayla, Josh and Kyle…I probably won’t even recognize you kids because you will be taller and bigger than me by now!

4. Friends: To all my wonderful, amazing friends…I have missed you all and am ecstatic to catch up with each of you when I am home!!!

5. My former co-workers: I miss the cube talks, energetic environment and your creative minds. It will be wonderful to see you all again!

6. Morning talks with my Dad

7.  Family Fun Nights

8.  My BBCB

9.  Little Thomas

Thomas having fun in a bag

10. Chicken quesadilla’s from Peso’s, chicken salad from Purple Cafe and Rojos salsa

11. My down comforter

12. The views of Lake Union and Mt. Rainier driving South from I5

13. My snowboard

14. My wakeboard

15. My MAC

16. Il mio nipote

    Thomas rockin' a hilarious face

17. Girls nights out

18. Boating on Lake Roosevelt, Lake Union and Lake Washington

19. My clothes, high heels, jewelry and jeans

20. Northwest microbrew beer

21. Sister Zesma

22. Watching the Seahawks in my Seahawk scrubs on a lazy Sunday afternoon

23. Beer Pong

24. My perfumes

25. Throwing dinner parties for friends

26. My blue-eyed munchkin

Thomas eating cheerios