We leave beautiful and cold Chicago behind us and head to warm sunny Florida to stay with my brother and his girlfriend Bella. We took two quick flights, having a nice layover in Georgia to watch a quick show. Elli and are not the best flyers might I add and these two flights were very very bumpy making them a little less fun. You may ask why we are doing all this traveling if we don't like to fly... and that is very valid. For me I simply just get airsick yet I can sleep very easily anywhere and planes are no exception. So the only way for me to avoid these feelings are by closing my eyes and pretending I am indeed not on a plane and just having a nice snooze safely on a bed. For my lovely Elli she has flown all over the world but one rough 15 hour flight from Dubai left her an anxious flyer. Thankfully we have each other to stay distracted and hold hands for take off and landing. We are finding our balance of her needing a distraction like watching a film, playing a game or embroidering. Where as I tend to feel worse when I do anything but sleep. Maybe all these travels will make us feel better about flying.
Back to our adventures in Florida... We were very happy to finally be on the ground and greeted warmly by Dane and Bella. There was s short drive to their house where Tsuki their dog, and their two cats Tula and Grim waited patiently for us. Bella so nicely made us rice and curry for dinner which is exactly what we needed. Something delicious and warm in our belly. As we ate we caught up with each other and watched a show or two. It was so strange to be in the freezing cold to 65-75 degree weather in just a few short hours. It would have taken us days to drive, oh the technology that exists is amazing. With no real set plan we were excited to see where the next 9 days took us.
After waking up and realizing this is not a dream, we are actually spending 3 months traveling we were ready to start our day. First stop was of course thrifting! They took us to their favorite, plato's closet, even though Elli and I continue to say we are NOT in the market for buying things. Since we only have 2 backpacks and carry-ons that were already packed full to the brim. And an apartment full of boxes waiting to be unpacked when we return.. I got a shirt and we ended up getting two things for her brothers. We then headed to grab some lunch where we sat outside and continued to catch up now that we were a little less tired from a travel day. We also had a lovely walk on a board walk. We ended up going to a beautiful beach that was covered in piles and piles of seashells. For anyone who knows I am not a fan of the beach, I am not one to go lay down and tan for hours on end. Though I love a good sunrise, sunset and collecting shells moment. So I was all for it! We walked for awhile all jumping from pile to pile comparing shells, deciding which were pretty or cool enough to come home with us. Dane and Bella have so many amazing shells I had never seen before in person all around their home. After a few hours we decided to turn back.
Since the four of us all love to cook we had so much fun bouncing ideas and recipes off one an other. We also got really into making fun mocktails that went along with what we were making. Some of my personal favorites included Danes frozen strawberry with fresh pineapple that we ate with Mexican food. Dane made fresh pico and Bella made homemade tortillas. Another night was fresh orange juice and grapefruit juice with a raspberry tarragon compote we enjoyed with Elli's steak and beet salad with my roasted sweet potatoes. Finally, a moscow mule with three homemade pizzas, one with pineapple and feta, a margarita, and the last had onions, peppers and pepperoni. Dane made the dough and Bella made the sauce. All hit the spot perfectly. We enjoyed lots of wonderful home cooked meals where some nights we sat together in silence because the food was so good, others we talked and even some we had a show on in the background. They would show us something and we would show them another. It was fun to bounce suggestions off one another. My personal favorite was Wild Babies which simply was a documentary series that followed along a few animals as they grew up like lions, elephants, seals, etc. Baby wild animals I mean come on.. you cannot beat that!
We also enjoyed lots of yummy food out of the house like Taco Bell! If you know anything about Elli and me, we went more times than we would like to admit in Maine. Simply because there was one halfway between the Inne and where we lived. Plus it was the only one we had found with frozen baja blasts. Which is the best reason for going to Taco Bell. We did also enjoy some nicer cuisine at an asian restaurant and a farm to table place that had nothing on The Waterford Inne. Truly in comparison, my sisters food is the best far and wide. Lastly we went to my lovely grandmothers house where she and Charlie cooked us a nice lunch.
To list some fun activities we got up to I will start with my personal favorite which consisted of us with full bellies sitting at home in the living room with switch controllers in hand teaming up playing overcooked. Which is a silly little game where you are a chef that has horrible coordination and mobility trying to cook meals like sushi, burgers, donuts, etc. all to please the Onion King. Such a fun game, if you have a switch I strongly recommend. You can play alone but boy is it more fun and more chaotic with 3 loved ones. Continuing on we went to two different beaches than the one talked about earlier of course to collect shells and to enjoy the sun and water. Elli told me I had poor beach etiquette because I was digging a hole and the sand was blowing into her face. I apologized, laughed and agreed. Another reason to dislike the beach I guess. I cannot sit still and would much rather be burying or building something. Moving along we brought many more shells home. We went to plato's closet again where I got two more shirts and Elli got one as well this time. But it's okay because we are not in the business of buying things. So it worked out perfectly. We stayed strong... Elli got a tattoo of a flower that neither of us know the kind of. So if you see it and ask her she will say "I don't know." We went mini golfing at Tiger Woods' course where Elli got two holes in one and Dane got one! I was very impressed by the two of them. Bell and I tried we did very hard on 36 holes but sadly we came short. Dane won both rounds which was sad. We all gave it our best and a run for his money in the end he went home a champion and I sunburnt. The last adventure I will mention is the botanical garden we went to on our way to grandmas house. We got to walk around, see stunning flowers and plants, a great hall full of the history of the facility and the best thing was the children's section. I mean talk about a child's dream. There was an waterpark splash pad, a rope bridge crossing a river, a huge pirate ship playground, a fairy garden and honestly so much more. My grandmother said we had to check it out while we were here and boy am I glad we did. The whole experience over all was exactly what Elli and I needed for our last day. A walk in the fresh air and a space to take fun photos of one another. The day was not over though, we got to go home, pack and play overcooked!! Yet we had to wake up at 4 am and head to the airport.
Sadly our time with Dane, Bella and their furry kiddos came to and end. We are forever grateful for them hosting Elli and I. We enjoyed every second with them and cannot wait for them to be back up in the east coast. With our Florida travels coming to an end we prepare for 2 more flights onward to see Elli's family in Utah. Check in soon to hear about meeting the pilots on both flights! One for a good reason and the other for a not so good...
Feels like just yesterday I was in the wonderful city of Chicago with my sister Kember. I remember sitting in a Starbucks cafe writing posts for this blog. Though this time I am not traveling in Vandy but by plane. I cannot believe that was 4 years ago...
Elli went back home long before me so I flew alone, well I was accompanied by babe our stuffed pig. Julie got it for me one day while we were all in Maine at the inne this winter. So I decided this little pink pig should see the world and join us on our travels. We have made it a mission to take a photo of her on every plane ride and as many outdoor adventures we can remember to bring her on. I took one of her looking out the window. Oh how big this world is, she had no idea.
Once I landed in Chicago I was warmly welcomed by Elli and her two younger brothers so eagerly waiting for my 2 hour delayed plane to arrive late at night. It was my first time meeting Simon(20) and Fischer(18), I must say they are not very little... they both tower over me by over a foot. My 5'4" self cannot compare to 6'5" and 6'8". I feel bad for their necks having to look so far down just to talk to me. It was so nice to get to talk to them and hear about there time in Chicago as Fischer just returned from college at BYU for winter break and Simon had just returned from his 2 year long mission in Wyoming and Taiwan. Elli's family had weekly zoom calls while Simon was away that her and I joined so honestly it felt like I already knew her whole family before meeting them in person. The next morning I met her older and final brother Jeron(26) once again standing at 6'8". My nickname in the family is a beautiful little pixie thanks to their family friend April. I have been so grateful to the warm welcome the Dastrup family has given me. From day one they opened their arms to me and have made me feel like family.
We got up to a lot in the short 8 days we were there. For one thing we ate lots and lots of food. They all wanted to take me to try their favorite spots we often hopped from place to place. Elli took me to the lovely bean which I went to with Kember back in 2018. I learned that the real name is called cloud gate which all the people of Chicago call it... but in reality it is just a dirty bean shaped mirror. Cute for photos I guess. We also explored the Chicago cultural center which has beautiful tile all over the walls and ceiling. I went to the chiropractor for the first time ever, my bones were cracking for many days after my adjustment. The woman knew my body better than I did. She would feel a part of my back or neck and link it to an injury I had or pain in other parts of my body. I have been saying for years I should see a chiropractor but never did the research or called anyone. I think I might just go from time to time when we get back in April. On to some other fun things we went to the Museum of Science and Industry and saw baby chicks being hatched! They were so little and so fluffy! I will say it made me miss the inne and our beautiful egg producing ladies. If you go follow Thewaterfordinne on instagram you can keep up to date on all the beautiful colored eggs they lay. Plus just see what Kember has been up to and the mouth watering food she makes.
Elli got her masters at the University of Illinois so we took a weekend trip to Champaign where I got a tour of where her family lived for a few years when she was young. I then got a whole tour of the campus, I almost bought an U of I dad hat, met some of her friends and stopped by some of her old stomping grounds... aka bar hopped. She even tried to convince me just a bit to get my masters there. Overall a wonderful little getaway. To wrap up this list of activities for her moms 51st birthday we went to a Korean spa called Kings Spa. Let me tell you this was an experience and a half. It cost 37 bucks for the pass which included access to over 10 different saunas, a wet spa and 24 hours access to everything inside. Once you enter you are given a "uniform" which differs by sex. Men got a grey t-shirt and grey shorts, while Women got a pink t-shirt and pink shorts. Amy, Elli and I spent the next six hours jumping from 100+ degree rooms to the 30 degree ice room and the "napping" rooms as we called it. I have never sweat so much in my life. Though it was very relaxing. It was truly nothing like I have ever experienced before but I am glad I got to go through that with both Amy and Elli. We entered not knowing what to expect, Elli and I were honestly a little anxious about it but we had an open mind. Amy has since gone back so if you are ever in Chicago and want something to do... Hit up Kings Spa.
After our lovely time in Chicago was coming to an end we got all packed up for our 3 months of travels. We are both only taking a carry on and a small backpack, though if you ever want a sneaky travel tip you can fill a pillow case with clothes and anything else and bring it onto the plane no charge for too many personal items. So that is what we will be doing whenever we cannot fit something into our bags. We are sad to leave Chicago but we are excited to go stay with Dane and Bella in Florida! I for one am looking forward to some warm weather. I am already tired of snow and it is only January. Follow along for more posts about all our adventures.
I will be adding photos throughout these travels in the photos tab if you want to keep up to date on all the beautiful places we go. Of course the photos of the piggy will be there as well! I mean that is the reason I am sure most of you follow this trip... just to hear about babe's adventures.
Well friends... 5 years later I dust this old web page off and begin a new adventure. I have packed up my bags, graduated college a semester early might I add and got a real job! I will be working 8-5 pm 5 times a week in a small cubical in New York City. Ha just joking... I could never! Now that I have a piece of paper that says I have a degree in Psychology, Marketing and English... I won't be searching for a job any time soon! Who needs a job anyway?! I once again have decided to skip the "normal" route and create my own path. I leave today for a 3 month long travel with my best friend and partner Elli. Who has planned the whole trip and I will take 0 credit for. Though I will reap the rewards. I will give a quick list of the places we will be going. My first stop is Chicago today to meet up with Elli and her family. Then we plan to head to a few stops in the states like Florida, Utah, and Arizona. Following we travel to Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand. On the way home we will stop in Hawaii before heading back to the lovely Connecticut.
I will keep this first post short and sweet just to say hello to my few friends and family that may remember I do indeed have a blog. I am beyond excited for this next step in my life. I am so thankful for everyone who as entered my life making me the person I am today. I cannot help but be grateful for my parents who have raised me and pushed me to challenge myself in new ways each and every day. They have never once expected me to follow the crowd. They have always known I will do the right thing in life, the right thing for me that is. At the end of the day this is my life and I get to make it how ever I see fit. I do not want to look back to the days I was in my 20's and regret wasting away working myself to the bone living pay check to pay check. Instead I want to know I got to see the world, put myself in new and uncomfortable positions, challenge myself, learn how others live, all while being kind and grateful. I am not one to set expectations for myself or for any adventure. As I see that is the best way to set yourself up for disappointment. I have always believed that traveling is the antidote to ignorance and these next few months will continue to open my eyes to the world we live in. The only things I hope to get out of this trip is that I continue to learn and grow each and every day. I want to continue to gain a deeper understanding of who I am, my wants and my needs. I want to put my psychological well being first and to keep an open mind to everything I am faced with. I love the life I have been given and that I have created for myself. I will take nothing for granted and live each day with its fullest potential.
Thank you all for listening to what I have to say today. I will be sure to keep you all updated on my travels. Feel free to reach out at any time!
Greta Ann Vanderblue.