Travelchick

My adventures and mis-adventures as I travel here and there

Tentative Moving Dates and Moving Sale

So. The groundwork is being laid, the plans are being spun, and things are taking place! I now have a couple of tentative moving dates, everything being dependent upon when I get my thesis finished and ready to defend. The first, and preferred date is February 28. The latter, second-rate choice is March 14. I’m praying for the 28th, so we shall see! I’ve begun packing and downsizing in earnest. I actually have 3 large boxes of books stacked in my room, ready to transport. They were recently ousted from my bookcases, which are now sold, as is my bicycle, a picture, a CD tower, a set of plastic drawers, and 3 chairs… I’m preparing to sell everything else in my big moving sale, coming up a week from today on the 7th. It’s going to be HUGE! …Unless everyone buys my furniture beforehand. I listed everything big and bulky on the school’s classifieds and didn’t expect much to happen, but I’ve had so many responses that I actually had to make a list and schedule for showing everyone the goods or, as one enterprising customer stated, my wares.

I’m feeling equal parts sadness and excitement as I watch my belongings trickle out the door (the excitement is aided by the cash that appears in my hand upon their absence) and I’m working hard to balance the two emotions. On one extreme, it feels great to rid my life of all the excess stuff that tends to accumulate when you stay in one place for awhile and self-medicate through hard times with surplus material goods. I sometimes dream of carrying my possessions on my back and walking through the world without the worry that things tend to breed. On the other hand, sometimes it’s those very things that can negate worry. It’s nice to have plenty of blankets when it gets really cold or to realize that you do, in fact, have that weird item that you need for your random hobby project. Nothing that I have is really worth much in a monetary sense, but some of it is nevertheless very special to me. After awhile, though, the stuff of life just builds and builds until I long to see the other side of the spectrum.

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January 31, 2010 Posted by | Detroit, Travel, United States, Walla Walla | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cure Writer’s Block by Traveling

I went to Michigan last week with the idea that I might be less distracted there and better able to focus on writing my thesis…. and it totally worked! I believe I got more done there in a week than I had gotten done in the last month at home (which wasn’t much, sadly). I also began to understand and see things more clearly; I began to grasp the big picture of what I am writing about. I keep thinking of famous American expatriates who relocated for the purpose of accomplishing something that seemed much less likely from their home soil- especially writers who were portrayed during significant periods of literature as sort of “breaking free” of the confines of home and finding new inspiration, openness, and acceptance in more exotic places such as Paris (Indeed, I took an entire class in college called “American Writers in Paris” in which we studied the work of the Lost Generation e.g. Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound).

Ernest Hemingway

Thus romanticizing my lowly trek from state to state, I was lucky to have my hopes fulfilled. During each day while my boyfriend was detained at work, I was able to crank out more actual study time than had even seemed feasible while here at home. Perhaps it is deceit to call my problem “writer’s block” since it seemed to be more kin to a case of complete lack of motivation and focus. In any case, however, the new location, lack of chores, errands, and interruptions all came together like a fresh breath of air to clear a few of the cobwebs from my head and the glaze from my eyes. My only regret is that I could not stay longer. If a week-long vacation could do such wonders…

I’m attempting to continue the trend here at home: getting up earlier, maintaining a narrower focus, actually beginning the work (as my roommate pointed out yesterday, it is really the lag time before the task is begun that is the true reckoning force). It is not the same, however, when there are bills to pay, cleaning to be done, pets to be cared for, and packing to be planned, but if I try very hard I can still recapture a bit of the serenity and focus that I achieved during my little vacation and insert it into today.

January 26, 2010 Posted by | Detroit, Travel, United States | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2010 Detroit Auto Show

Last night my dashing man and I made our way through the suburbs to downtown Detroit (my first actual look at the city). Our destination was the 2010 North American International Auto Show, more commonly known as the Detroit Auto Show. For the 21st year, Detroit is hosting the week-long auto show (it’s dates coinciding exactly with the dates of my visit here), the largest in North America and featuring over 700 automobiles. It’s held in the Cobo Center in the middle of downtown Detroit. Adults pay $12 each to see the new inventions of auto designers from around the world up close and personal, including 2011 models and concept cars (they may or may not work, but they look really cool).

You can sit in the cars and play with all the knobs and dials, check out the trunk, adjust the seats- everything but open the hood. That last part made us sad because my boyfriend actually designs some of the parts under there and didn’t get to show them to me, but we had a lot of fun looking at all the cars in their fancy displays under the bright lights.

my precious Claretta in her last days

I’ve been more interested in cars than usual lately since I’m looking for a replacement for my dear Claretta (may she rest in peace), so it was an excellent opportunity for me to compare car sizes, shapes, colors, interiors, cargo space, leg room, you name it.

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the Mini (maybe it’s their cute diminutive size and maybe it’s the way they kick butt in the Italian Job…) but had never gotten to sit in one until last night. The boyfriend and I had a friendly debate regarding the merits of their retro-looking interiors (it could also be interpreted as futuristic, if you ask me).

Thankfully, we weren’t there today for the fire incident that took place in the Audi display area, causing the show to be shut down for a few hours this afternoon.

One of my favorite things had to be the tiny commuter cars that can fit only 2 people and are just one seat wide! Just the craziest thing ever!

Even for someone who doesn’t work with cars, know a lot about cars, or even currently own a car, the Detroit Auto Show was a lot of fun, very educational and interesting, not to mention the fact that it’s a highly appropriate activity for someone to who is about to be a resident of The Motor City! I’d definitely recommending stopping in to check it out. It goes on until the 24th of January this year and will, I’m sure, be back next year in all it’s auto glory.

January 21, 2010 Posted by | Detroit, Travel, United States | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Time Zone Trauma

One of the biggest challenges for travelers is coping with changes in time zone. Forget culture shock and climate change, time zones can really do you in! I have been experiencing a bit of this the past couple of days as I try to adjust from Pacific time to Eastern time. While traveling from the west coast to the east coast might not elicit such horrors stories as, say, a flight across the Atlantic, it can still kick your butt in its own way. Especially if you’ve been sleeping in a lot on the west coast….

Anyway, so what can you do to minimize the disruptive effects of jet lag? There are, of course, a number of chemical/herbal remedies out there, ranging from the use of melatonin (which could be useful if you need to go to sleep earlier than your circadian rhythm prescribes) to low doses of… Viagra… (Yes, you read that right, and I’m NOT suggesting it’s a good idea)! I believe, however, that one of the best ways to adjust yourself to the new time is to make sure you get a full night’s sleep on the first night immediately after traveling and then fully adopt the local time, embrace it, live it. In a few days you’ll feel invincible. And then, of course, it will be time for the return trip…

Back to my own story. I am currently unemployed and, as such, am running my own schedule (disaster, right?). Because I have a really long circadian rhythm (at least we hope it’s that and not just my inability to exercise self-control), my natural sleep time falls later and later each day. Therefore, when I am left to my own devices I tend to go to bed and get up a little later each day. It’s frustrating, but consistent. I guess if I just kept going, eventually I’d be back in sync with the rest of the world… In short, a week ago I was going to bed no earlier than 2am and getting up…. well, let’s just say that by the time I got up there weren’t many hours of daylight left. I found out that I had a one-day job assignment on Friday, so I took measures to begin preparing myself for my mandatory 7am waking time on that day (and I didn’t do a half-bad job), but I really wasn’t used to it by the time I flew to the east coast.

The night before flying I got about 5 hours of sleep and a couple more on the plane (which I don’t really count as restful sleep). As a result, my sleep bank had only a few pennies in it upon my arrival. I should have followed my own advice and gone to bed early that night, but my boyfriend and I had a lot to catch up on and ended up talking quite late, which meant that I slept in the next day, which meant that I needed a nap that afternoon, which meant that I wasn’t as tired as I should have been that night, which meant that I didn’t go to bed early, which meant that I slept late yesterday morning (it was 8am Pacific Time, but that doesn’t count when you’re in Eastern time!). My boyfriend goes to work early and I don’t see him until lunch, so there isn’t much of an impetus for early rising.

Point being, I messed up the very first day and (even though I was very tired) didn’t get a good night’s sleep right away, so drawing out the effects of jetlag. This morning I slept in again, some of my best sleep happening after about 8am. Sigh. It’s difficult to go to bed early when we have so many fun things planned for every day that I’m here in the area, not the least of which are all the great restaurants I’ve gotten to try in the area! But I’ll save that for another post.

January 19, 2010 Posted by | Travel, United States | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mr(s). Clean

It might take me less than 1.66 years to become this....

I’ve always been a person who likes neatness, cleanliness, order, and organization. In my first apartment I just happened to have a roommate who was even more fond of neatness, cleanliness, order, and organization than I. Belongings left in common areas for more than 2.2 hours would magically appear in a pile in front of my bedroom door, once a week cleaning was of supreme importance, and I swear that she would clean the bathroom after me sometimes when she might have thought I didn’t do a good enough job. All of this sort of solidified the neat clean person in me and I became a beast (for those of you who realize that I’m exaggerating, try not to blow my cover). My next roommate was quite the opposite of the first, and suddenly I was experiencing a reversal of roles as I played the cleaning Nazi to my unsuspecting new comrade (no pun intended). :S (She later became more conscientious about household chores than I, for which I do not wish to claim responsibility)

Thankfully I have been able to temper my preferences after years of learning that when living with others, their style of keeping house may not coincide with my own (and reminding myself that I’m not married to them, thank goodness), and that that’s ok! (The differences part, not the married part, though that really is ok too… I’ll just quit now…)

When I move to Michigan, however, I’ll be living on my own without roommates for literally the first time in my life. Without the necessity of tweaking my insanity in order to coexist with other women sharing my kitchen, I have semi-terrifiying visions of myself turning into a hyper-vigilant neat freak, bent on keeping every speck of dust in its rightful place. I can only imagine how my cat would suffer with her long luxurious fur which might look a little dusty to a wild cleaning eye. There would be benefits, of course, such as the gleam in my boyfriend’s eye as he gazed with approval on the evidence of my superior housekeeping skills, but do I really want to go there? Giving in to the neat freak psychosis would make living with someone else again all the more difficult. I’d really like to plateau somewhere between Anal Angie and Sloppy Suzy. My worries about this aren’t tempered at all by my recent frenzy of organizational escalation. People, the other day I, seriously, I organized all my shirts, sweaters, and dresses by color in the order of the rainbow!!! For some of you this may be normal, but I have NEVER done it before. If I start alphabetizing my drawers, I may have to check myself into the psych ward. I lie awake at night envisioning my new home and in my mind it’s the vision of perfection and cleanliness. This vision blocks out the fact that I have pets, am clumsy, get lazy, and am easily distracted.

On the other hand, and this is much more comforting, perhaps the renewed urgency for organization is a symptom of moving. I do believe it’s a lot easier to know what I have and where it is, and to decide what I do and don’t need to haul across the nation, when it’s all nicely organized, alphabetized, colorized… Is anyone with me on this? Before I go on a trip- before I even begin to pack for a trip- I feel a deep deep need to clean and straighten. Then it’s so simple to pluck certain items from their natural habitat and pack them neatly away into their suitcase. I have a friend who’s boyfriend seems obsessed with deep cleaning the car before taking a roadtrip, so I think I may be onto something here. My mother also spends the wee hours of the morning before any trip doing everything she can possibly think of to do that she has written on a massive list (and it will make your head spin around in perfect circles). I must have gotten some of that genetic material from her. Recently this phenomenon has been directed toward my clothing, but I expect it to spread shortly to other areas of my living environment, maybe to my food pantry (that’s an extremely glorified term for what I have) or (oh NO!) bookshelves! I’ll keep you updated. It’s always my dream, though, before embarking on any kind of travel, to achieve ultimate organization and cleanliness… a goal that always seems just barely out of reach….

January 15, 2010 Posted by | Travel, United States | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Moving Mojo

For a few days this week I was like the Roadrunner being chased by Wiley coyote as I planned and packed for moving! I sold things, I threw away things, I cleaned things, I packed things, I gave away things, I smelled things, I fixed things, I looked at things, I imagined things… I stayed awake at night thinking about my plans for packing things and getting rid of things and unpacking things and not breaking things. I thought about and acted on moving all the time.

And then, suddenly- I came to a screeching halt. And this is not okay. Why? Because I’m flying to Michigan for a week and I have to bring 2 suitcases full of things that will then permanently reside in my boyfriend’s closet until I make the move and place them all in my new dwelling. I need to think carefully about what to bring and make the most of the available space so that I’ll save space in the car later on. I’ve packed about one half of a suitcase, I don’t know what I’m wearing for the week I’m there, my room is a disaster zone, my dishes are piling up, my cat has figured out how to unlock my door, I need to go shopping, my bed is barely made, I need a shower, the house needs a once-over, I’m hungry, and my parakeet’s cage needs cleaned. I have one day to do all of that, but all I’ve accomplished so far is standing clumsily in the middle of random rooms focusing on nothing in particular. Just now I got a load of laundry out of the dryer and was supposed to put the clothes from the washer into the dryer, but instead I sat down and began writing this…. oops.

What’s happened to me?! Well obviously, I’ve lost my moving mojo. Obviously. And now I need to get it back. After a long and painful period of confusion, I have formulated three simple steps for doing just that. They would work not just for me but for anyone:

Step 1: Stop writing. Some things that may seem important (like writing a blog about moving) might actually be counterproductive to the main goal (moving). Quit doing that stuff!
Step 2: Eat some of Keri’s enchilada casserole (for energy). I know most of you don’t have a Keri to make you some enchilada casserole (and I pity you), but the point here is to take care of any important biological needs (eat, use the bathroom, blow your nose, take a shower) first so that you’re not constantly distracted by them as you’re trying to recapture that mojo.
Step 3: Get back to work, slacker! Simple, though harsh. The number one cure for not being in the mood to get stuff done, to kick some moving butt (or whatever butt) is to just. start. doing it. 90% of the time when I know I should be doing a frenzy of something but all I feel like doing is sinking into my pillow, actually starting will get me in the mood fairly quickly (and then just try to stop me, but that’s another topic).

Let’s see if I can follow my own advice today and regain my moving mojo 😀

January 14, 2010 Posted by | Travel, United States | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Travel Envy

Yeah. I want to be there too.

We’ve all had it, hidden from it, beaten it down, given in to it- that green-eyed monster sporting luggage tags and a valid passport. It likes to rear it’s head at the slightest provocation- photos of squat toilets on facebook, the word nutella, the travel guide aisle in Barnes and Noble- but it becomes especially ugly when someone you know is preparing for travel, especially if it’s the kind of travel you crave.

My sister and her boyfriend recently left to live in Milan, Italy for 3 months. I haven’t been back to Europe since my first visit three and a half years ago and as they packed and planned with gusto my happiness for them was matched only by my jealously. Sure, I wanted them to go, but I also wanted me to go! It’s called travel envy, and the complaint is very simple: Someone else is going to travel and I’m not. Which of course is at the height of all that is unfair in this life. I used to feel it even before I’d been anywhere outside the country, but now that I’ve had a real taste of travel (that sweet, irresistible taste) it has the propensity to be sooooo much worse! I want to go to Asia and climb the Himalayas, I want to go to Europe and float in a gondola, I want to go to Africa and hike a lemur rainforest, I want to go to South America and learn Spanish, I want to go to Australia and pet a platypus, I want to go to Antarctica and….freeze into a solid block of… Anyway!

It’s so difficult to avoid travel envy when someone else is about to have the time of their lives doing all the stuff that’s impossible in Mundane Town, USA. You congratulate them, you throw a bon voyage party, you listen to their promise to write even though you know they won’t because they’re having way too much fun to remember you exist, and you give them a ride to the airport, but secretly you are hoping all the while that you suddenly have some kind of weird body-switching experience that will allow you to go and them to stay home. I currently have at least 5 friends who are living out my dreams- 2 in Europe, 2 in Asia, and 1 in Africa. Sigh.

There's my lemur!

Is there a cure for that sick, sweet longing for the open road (or the dusty unpaved road, or the crowded haphazard road)? Dun, dun, dun, DUN!!! I am here to cure all of your longing for travel so that you can live a long and satisfied life right where you are! All you have to do is… the only thing you need to tell yourself is… the one key to nixing the travel bug forever IS……………. no, I’ve got nothing. You’re stuck and it will never leave you. Unfortunately (or fortunately, whatever). The only thing to do is to treat yourself regularly with international flights and new passport stamps!!! 😀 …..Right. As luck would have it, most of us can’t afford such a treatment, either monetarily or timewise.

The next best thing I have is what I call “Vicarious Travel”, and yes I am aware of the fact that is is a far far second, but it can be done from your favorite recliner. The trick, of course, is to get your kicks from someone whose travel tales include not only the phenomenal but also the dismal. Perspective, you know. That way you can temper your envy of seeing the Mayan ruins with your relief that you didn’t pick up that weird intestinal malady (as you sink further into your armchair). My sister has been exercising her fingers regularly on a blog dedicated to revealing all the sordid details of her Italian adventure. When I read about her failure to buy groceries in an Italian supermarket without making a fool of herself and dropping produce all over people, I feel JUST like I’m there…. but without the humiliation- HAHA! And it’s great! Not only can I save myself the embarrassment of blushing and sweating over my veggies and cheese while a cashier chastizes me in foreign tongues, but I can be reminded of adventures that I was a part of in bodily form. Like the time my sister dropped a large container of yogurt in the Polish supermarket called Berti and splattered everyone within a ten-foot radius. 😛

feed me

January 13, 2010 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

At Least I’m Not…

….moving by bicycle! Like this guy. Though I admire his principles and, let’s face it, I’ve been there before (I once carried a TV 3 or 4 blocks on a bicycle), I just think it would be a little more difficult to keep my cat on my lap on a bicycle. It’s great what a little perspective can do- I get to use a CAR?! WOO-HOO!!!

Besides, biking is dangerous as this sign clearly shows…

Can you imagine this happening while loaded up with moving? You may never move again.

For the guy on the front right, it's a matter of life or death


This will not be me.

January 12, 2010 Posted by | Travel, United States | , , , | Leave a comment

Getting Down with Downsizing


So when my boyfriend and I first decided that I would be moving to Michigan to be closer to him, I warned him that I would need some kind of large U-haul to transport my vast treasure hoard of belongings. “I know it doesn’t look like it, but I have a LOT of stuff!” When you stay in the same place for three and half years you will not believe the amount of STUFF that accumulates in dark corners and endless closets. I really thought I’d gotten my point across until somehow he convinced a reluctant me that it would be more cost effective and still feasible with regard to space if we bought a large van and drove it from Washington to Michigan, where we would then sell it again. Voila! No money lost! I realized that I wouldn’t be able to move much if any furniture using this method, but I agreed that it was a good idea. I felt a little bit claustrophobic at the thought of forcing my precious belongings into a reduced space, but I dealt with it.

Fast forward to today… and I am now planning to move across 3 time zones in a car. That’s right, a car! What can you move in a car??? I really can see the benefits here: less gas spent, the opportunity to simplify my life, and the ability to drive something besides a van around once I reach my new home. Still, though, I must self-soothe regularly to keep from freaking out and reverting to daydreams of a huge U-haul trundling across the desert with my possessions virtually rattling around in it. A car is a vastly different thing. I am only mollified by the suitcases-full that we have already managed to transport ahead of time during our visits back and forth to one another. This weekend, in fact, I am stuffing another two suitcases full of things I will (hopefully) not need again before moving day and putting them and me on a plane to The Motor City. What do I put in those suitcases?! I panic slightly at the thought that after this trip, everything I still own will need to be stuffed into a mid-sized car. Either that or it will have to meet the fate that many of my belongings have already met in a big pile with a sign on top proclaiming “FREE”. I swear that fully half of my wardrobe has made it out to the curb. I gave up one of my comforters, several roles of hoarded wrapping paper, and eleven pairs of shoes. Ok, ok, these doesn’t sound like painful sacrifices, not yet, but I cringe when I imagine what I could be forced to discard as moving day looms (my favorite teddy bear, my hottest pair of shoes, photo albums…). I’m terrible at space estimation, so as I look around my room I have NO idea what’s going to fit and what isn’t. Oh, did I mention I have a cat and a bird??? The birdcage alone will take up a few square feet of space and litter boxes aren’t tiny.

Most of all, I want to pack up RIGHT AWAY, am ready to move, ready to start my new adventure, ready to know for sure if my special dessert plates are going to make the cut or not, but I have unfinished business in this town before I can move on. Therefore, against all internal persuasions I put down the suitcases for the time being and turn my attention the never ending thesis…

I know, however, that tonight while I try to get to sleep my mind will be racing, doing a mental sweep around the apartment. What can I get rid of and not miss? Will THAT fit in a car?! Will anyone think I’m crazy for taking THIS and not that thing over there?

January 12, 2010 Posted by | Travel, United States | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Another Type of Travel

the state which is soon to be my new home...

Finally an update: Travelchick fell in love! Yes, he is a wonderful wonderful man. And yes, that’s why there haven’t been any blogs in the past few…. months (blushing), even the promised ones regarding Lester and such. Yes, I am feeling sheepish. But you know how new relationships tend to take up all your time and all your energy, how everything else kind of fades away into the the distance as you ponder the magic of the wonderful new human you have discovered. It’s really quite wonderful.

My next bit of news: I’m moving! Yes, this northwestern girl is moving to the suburbs of Detroit. Walled Lake, Michigan, to be exact. Travel will include a one-way road trip across most of the United States with a parakeet and (oh no, not again) a cat! It should be interesting…. From Pacific Time to Eastern Time I go! I want to blog about my move and all the interesting, annoying, frustrating, flabbergasting, exciting, hilarious things that are bound to happen along the way. It’s a different kind of travel since it involves permanent relocation, but travel nonetheless!

Oh, and the Lester blog(s) will be published at some point in time. I do have some fabulous pictures to attach 🙂

January 10, 2010 Posted by | Travel, United States | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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