Back in the USA

Hey all! So I have returned to America for the summer months to visit friends and family. I thought this trip would be full of bouncing from place to place but rather uneventful…but I was wrong!

While visiting some family in Florida, I discovered that my uncle is a pilot with his very own plane. What?! HE. HAS. A. PLANE! And he offered to take us up one morning for a little aerial tour of the Amelia Island coastline.

Flying a plane has been on my bucket list for a long while now.

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You can imagine the excitement I felt as we drove out to the little airport.  We went to my uncle’s hangar and got to check out the little plane we were about to fly in.

I jumped at the chance to grab front seat before he even finished asking us who wanted to claim it and we clambered aboard. We put on our headpieces, performed a pre-flight check, and then we were off! It was so awesome watching a take off from the cockpit. It’s like I never knew I wanted to be a pilot until I saw what pilots see all the time. Realistically, I don’t actually want to become a pilot, but it is pretty sweet.

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Once we reached altitude and leveled off I looked over at my uncle. “Can I…can I fly it?!” I asked, holding my breath. “Oh yeah! Of course!” crackled in through my earpiece and I almost died wit13393513_10206457922983578_564837812_nh excitement. I did a little cheer and clapped and grabbed the controls, letting him guide me through it. I didn’t ascend or descend (I feel like my uncle did not want to gamble with death and quite frankly neither did I) but we stayed level and I followed the coastline before cutting inland.13400924_10206457921063530_2103348785_n

 

I was feeling simultaneously exhilarated and terrified at the same time, because as much fun as it was I didn’t want to over turn and send up spiraling (which, as I have since learned, is actually quite difficult to do). After landing he let me guide the plane along the runway and around to the hangar. I was so so stoked to unexpectedly be presented with the opportunity to knock off a huge bucket list item and lifelong goal: fly a plane. I did it!!

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He looks so pleased with the mid flight selfie….

Dreaming of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is upon us (or just around the corner depending where in the world you may be) and I think my brain is short wiring a little bit despite this being far from my first Thanksgiving away from home. The first time you are away from home for any major holiday is a bit rough. I thought I was a seasoned veteran by now but apparently subconsciously I still miss those home comforts, especially during a holiday as specifically American as Thanksgiving.

I had a dream the other night that I was enjoying a nice Thanksgiving dinner at a Thai friends home, with turkey and everything! I ate it all and when they asked me if I wanted more I eagerly said yes. I was so happy that I was finally able to eat turkey again (despite it tasting a bit funny) on Thanksgiving.  A woman walked over to a rather large oven and opened it as I looked on. What I saw, however, was definitely not turkey. Instead of the golden roasting turkey I was expecting I found myself (literally) face to face with a giant black beetle. Inside this huge oven was a beetle that rested on three large baking trays. It was almost bigger than me. I gaped, appalled, at the spectacle before me. I looked down and saw part of a beetle carcass on my plate, some bits of leg scattered about. It was as if I had awoken from a trance and I just realized what I had eaten, and how it was actually not turkey as I had previously blindly believed. I felt somehow betrayed, horrified, and in great need of my Mom.

I’m not too sure what that dream meant because I actually kind of enjoy eating bugs. I think deep down I am actually quite missing the good ol’ US of A right about now. I miss the traditional American Thanksgiving fare of western culinary delights. I have spent many hours today just daydreaming about turkey, green bean casserole (my favorite!), sweet yams and marshmallow, stuffing, cranberry, mashed potatoes, you name it. It ‘s been a while since I sat together with my family around the dinner table; able to touch, talk face to face, and share moments together. Thanksgiving really is something special.

My family Thanksgivings in the past have been a mixed bag of misadventures of sorts, but they are the sort of things that we can look back and laugh on each year and wonder what will happen this time. I quite miss that.

If you are in America this year for Thanksgiving, consider yourself lucky. And if you happen to be surrounded by your family, consider yourself blessed. It’s times like these that I recognize and appreciate the value of simply being with the ones you love. So stop reading this and plug into some real life moments instead! Also….eat a lot of turkey and casserole for me. 🙂

 

Big Noise for a Small Town

I drove home from Oregon just in time to make my way up to Crouch, Idaho for the 4th of July. Crouch is a small town..population about 160 or so, so I was surprised to hear from multiple people that this tiny town in the Idaho mountains explodes into party central on the 4th. Naturally, I had to check it out. I talked Carly and Brian into meeting me there after they got off the lake, grabbed Joey and took off. Due to my superb directional skills, we arrived about 45 minutes later than intended and almost missed a bbq that we had been invited to. Not one to miss out on a free feed, I would have been severely disappointed in myself if I had made us miss it haha. As we sat on a hill, eating our burgers and overlooking the town, the 4th of July parade began. Unbeknownst to us, we were in the “water section” of the parade. What does this mean, exactly? It means that not only can you get the parade participants wet, but they can retaliate. It means when the fire engine drives by, they stop and spray everyone with the hose. I managed to get through the parade almost completely dry by hiding behind an old couple while scarfing down the rest of my meal lest it became waterlogged (talk about courageous…). People started to fill the streets after the parade, and as the night wore on everything became more and more packed. I was pleasantly surprised, and completely unaware that Crouch could hold that many people. As Joey and I walked around in the summer haze we saw many cabins that just had numerous tents set up for people to crash if they wanted to later. Good thing too, because much to my delight there was an open container law set in place for just the night, and booze was flowing freely through the streets. Instead of watching the crowds closely and shutting down drunken shenanigans, the police were passing out American flag stickers.

The night started out tame enough, Joey and I went swimming in the river and then wandered around town for a bit to check out the live band that was playing. We met up with my brother Paul and his wife Kristina and decided to go on a beer run. On our way out of the market we ran into Jonathan and me invited us over to where he and his friends were. By now people had filled the streets and began lighting fireworks. There were mostly snakes, smoke bombs, whistling petes, and similar types, but Jon informed us that Kelly (on of the guys in his group) had brought over $5000 worth of fireworks for later! And this turned out to be the norm for this crowd. As soon as it got dark, we climbed back up the hill to watch the city firework show. That was fairly impressive, but what blew me away was the show everyone else was putting on in town. We made our way back into the center of town, packed in like sardines at the edge of the crowd a we watched everyone light off their fireworks. There were heaps of illegal ones, and people would just run out into the middle of the street and light them at free will. The result was a spectacular show that far overshadowed the city’s display (and possibly most other firework shows that I have seen). Everyone was right, this town explodes on the 4th of July. I was in sensory overload with the mass amount of people, endless explosions in the sky, and live country music all night. There are some repercussions from standing front and center, one of which being blasted with the occasional firework offshoot. We had to cover our drinks so ash wouldn’t fall in them, and every once in a while I would feel a hot, burning sensation somewhere on my body from a stray blast. Combine all the people, fireworks, and booze and I’m surprised I didn’t light my hair on fire (actually, I think I almost did). After exhausting our incredibly large supply of fireworks, Joey and I heard that there were $1 beers farther down the road at the Dirty Shame Saloon. We stopped on the way of course for some dancing with Carly and Brian, and halfway down the road to the bar Joey and I ran into each other and both fell over. We definitely got made fun of by the passing crowd. Once we got to the Dirty Shame, I realized my camera was missing; somewhere along the line it had fallen out of my pocket. We back tracked and asked everyone we saw, but we never did find it. That was a pretty big downer on my night for a while, but once it’s lost…it’s lost. There is nothing you can do about it other than enjoy your night and worry about it the next day. And that is exactly what I did. We went back into town, rounded up the group, and decided to have a good time at the Shame. After the fireworks finally fizzled out, I think everyone in town decided to go there because it was just as packed as everywhere else; they also had a live cover band playing on the patio. Carly, Kristina and I jumped up onto the railing behind the band and started dancing, which prompted loud cheers from the crowd and others to follow suit. Oh my gosh. It was SO MUCH FUN! We were dancing on the rail and singing to the crowd while they sang back at us and cheered us on.

After endless beers, mixed drinks, shots and hours of dancing we finally called it a night. Carly and Brian crashed in their car while Joey and I went back to the hotel where Jonathan was staying and the three of us tried to set up a tent. We decided whiskey was needed for this operation (trust me, at that point it certainly wasn’t) and attempted assemble this thing not only smashed out of our minds…but in the dark. We finally managed to keep it standing and thought we were done until Joey noticed a pole sitting next to the tent instead of holding it up like it should be. We looked at our poor, dilapidated tent for a minute before I finally slurred, “Wellll….s’goodenoughorme”, crawled into my sleeping bag, and passed out.

The drive home the next day was nothing short of hell, and I had a cop follow me almost the whole way back. However, I look back on this 4th of July as one of the best times I’ve ever had celebrating our country’s birthday! (Also, if any of you readers happened by some miracle to be in Crouch and found a small, silver, digital Nikon Coolpix S400…let me know. I miss it. And there were some fantastic photos on it.)