Saturday, September 21, 2013

Yahoo! The sun returned.

There was fog when I woke up this morning, but the power of the sun with no clouds in the sky soon burned it off.  Hot dog!  I hung out a load of laundry, and then got ready to greet my morning visitors.


Bridget and John of Travels of John and Bridget….and Fred, finished their camp host volunteer assignment in North Dakota and stopped by for a visit while spending some time in Detroit Lakes.  What a beautiful morning we had for a tour of the refuge.


My friend, the young bald eagle, was perched as if on cue by the Chippewa Picnic Area.  I parked the refuge truck, and we were able to walk right under its favorite perch without it spooking off.  It only screamed at us a few times.  We even witnessed a small kettle of northern harriers catching a thermal to spiral up over the Otter Tail River so they could attain altitude to continue their migration south. 

IMG_9458It was a stellar morning to be out and about.  We could hear the far off guns of the waterfowl hunters, but we stayed in areas that were closed to hunting.  The trees are just beginning to turn their fall colors, the Chippewa rice harvest is over, and it just felt good to enjoy the scenes without overcast skies and sprinkles.


I was hoping to see the brilliant reds and oranges of fall leaves before I headed south, but I’m not sure that will happen in the next several days.  I’m scheduled to pull out on Thursday, but tonight I’m a little nervous about my refrigerator.  Even though the freezer says it’s –2*, it doesn’t seem that cold to me, and I’ve suddenly been having trouble with the ice maker.  It’s reminding me of the troubles I had in 2011. 


During out tour, I spotted this caterpillar.  Isn’t this the one that predicts how long the winter is going to be?   I think the size and place of the brown is supposed to tell the length and severity of the winter, but I just can’t remember.  Can anybody help me with this?

I did want to announce that there was a winner to last night’s little bird identification contest.  While three people came close to identifying the ten species, one person got them all correct.  That person is Brigitta!  She got all ten species correct by guessing white-throated sparrow, ruffed grouse, black-billed cuckoo, brown thrasher, indigo bunting, rose-breasted grosbeak, golden-winged warbler, woodcock, veery, and mourning warbler.  I think Brigitta writes a wonderful blog, but viewing it is by invitation only.  I’ll be getting in contact with her about the little prize.

Tomorrow, I’ll be checking to see how my freezer is doing, and continuing to get ready for departure.  I sure did have a nice visit with John and Bridget, and they are thinking about volunteering here at Tamarac next summer.  Perhaps we’ll meet again?


                                                                               THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Puerto Galera Paradise-Deecoded

Right now we're saying goodbye to Tokyo and Jeremy's family and getting ready to head back to Korea. It's been such a great trip with his family seeing as how Jeremy and I dated long distance until our wedding and then moved across the world four months after that. So it's safe to say it's been nice to spend some time and actually get to know my extended family a little bit better. 

Today I have the ever so lovely Dee from Deecoded filling in for me today. She's talking about her trip to a beautiful spot in the Philippines. We've only visited this country once but it's one that once you see it's simplistic beauty, you can't help but want to hop on the next plane out! Don't believe me? Keep reading.


Hi there, Lost in Travels readers! I am Dee and I blog over at Deecoded. Like Chelsea, I like to travel too, and I thought I'd share one about one of my travel experiences in my own country, the Philippines. Now most people who hear of the Philippines immediately think of one place: Boracay. Who doesn't love the beach, right? I would have loved to go to Boracay every chance I got, but it wasn't exactly cheap to go there. Luckily, I could make do with a place called Puerto Galera, AKA as "poor man's Boracay."

Puerto Galera is dubbed thus because of its white beaches' resemblance to Boracay. But the getting there is cheaper, instead of riding a plane from Manila, you just need to ride a bus to Batangas and ride a ferry from there, and the food, accommodation, etc, is a lot cheaper there too.

Compared to Boracay, Puerto Galera is a lot smaller, but the island is still big enough to have several different "beaches." The one we went to on the first day was called Tamaraw beach and it was so pretty because of all the green foliage and an inland pond.

We bought halo-halo, a delicious and famous Philippine treat made of shaved ice topped with beans, fruits, milk, sugar, custard and ice cream. I know it may sound weird to people who are not accustomed to it, but it's the biggest hit of Philippine summers.

We enjoyed our goodies while lazing on lounge chairs, and when we got a bit bored by inactivity, we decided to do some water sports, of which there are a lot in Puerto Galera too. We decided to rent a kayak as we had never tried that before. It was surprisingly not as easy as it looks!

Behind us you can see a banana boat, I had tried that before, and it's also really fun! The best part is when your banana flips, and you get thrown into the water. You have life savers on so it's totally safe even for people who don't know how to swim.

Later on, we got massages right on the beach at sunset. BLISS.

Later that night we watched a free concert of a famous Philippine singer who happened to be there. See how happening the place is? But before that we stopped at one of the many bars that littered the island and tried a jug of the island's famous Mindoro Sling. The stuff is a sweet cocktail that tastes so good that you don't realize it has alcohol in it, and the effect doesn't hit you immediately, so you drink a lot and suddenly an hour later, it hits you full force and BAM! you're drunk. So drink with caution.

The next day, we continued to enjoy the island and discovered that the best swimming spot was a lagoon that you can reach through a tunnel that's big enough for just one person to crawl through. It was so fun!

And that, dear readers, is the tip of my iceberg. Head on over to Deecoded for more! :)

Let's connect!
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Friday, September 20, 2013

Are you ready for a little contest?

I had my scissors ready for cutting this morning as I headed for work.  Last Monday, during the rain, I spent the morning finding good pictures on the internet of 10 different bird species.  The Tamarac Fall Festival will be happening about a week after I leave here, but one of the activities for visitors will be to learn to identify these ten species.  After Janice, the volunteer coordinator, printed my found pictures off, it was my job today to cut all their silhouettes out and then laminate them.  They’ll be posted in trees and grasses at the festival site.  Visitors will be given a pair of binoculars and asked to find these breeding birds of Tamarac at one of the activity stations.


After I got them all cut out, Janice gave me a run through on how to operate this large laminator.  Most of the laminators I’ve used at other refuges have been little desk top models that are quite easy to use.


One of the challenges of using this bigger model is its location.  Since the normal office and visitors center has been closed for a year, all of the equipment is crammed into the maintenance buildings.  I won’t go into all the details of operating this thing, but just let me say it was interesting for a vertically challenged individual.


Janice got the first batch going, and it really took two of us to manage it in a timely manner since it was too high off of the ground, and you couldn’t get behind it to keep the laminate taut as the pictures rolled out.

After lunch, I spent some time trimming all of those birds so they could be used individually.  Not very exciting, but it was something to do on another dismal rainy day.


                                                      Here’s half of what I ended up with. 


              And here’s the other half.  (You can ignore that dark chocolate Milky Way on the right Surprised smile)

There are some duplicates, but all in all there are ten species of birds displayed.  So, here’s the little contest.  Can you identify what ten species are represented?  They are all birds that breed on the refuge in the summer, and there aren’t any exotic birds in their midst.  I even have a small prize in mind for the person that can name the most amount of species correctly. 

I know most of you aren’t bird nerds, but if you have a bird guide it shouldn’t be too difficult.  You also have to understand that after seven days of rain, fog, and dreariness, I’m getting a little desperate for blog topics.  Here’s a hint to get you started: the bird in the top center of the first pic is a black-billed cuckoo.

Tomorrow, some fellow bloggers will stop by for a visit, and if the drizzles ever stop I’m hoping to dry my outside rug and pack it away.  Slowly but surely I’m getting things packed up for my departure.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Thursday, September 19, 2013

This and that

I was off early this morning to get the new tires on the toad.  I only had to wait about an hour or so, and I was back in business.


One of the forecasts I read said it would be bright and sunny today.  So much for the weather guessers.  This is Balsam Lake that is a pretty good size, and you can normally see the treed far shore.  I took care of several other chores in town, and then headed back home.


By the time I got back, it was noon and those sunny skies surely hadn’t shown up yet.  Believe it or not, there are five trumpeter swans and a couple of ducks on this pond.  They’re hard to see, but they’re there just right of center.


Can you see the visitors center and headquarters through the fog where I was watering the sod last weekend?  I kind of enjoyed this softer view of the refuge.

About a week ago, while I was out checking signs for painting, I came upon some trash at one of the boat launches.  It seems some boaters left a six pack of glass bottles of Miller Lite Beer behind.  Three were empty, one was half full, and two were unopened.  It made me think of Sam Weibel when I saw it.  Winking smile  I don’t drink beer, but I do use it occasionally for beer battered shrimp.  I don’t know of any place where you can just buy one can/bottle of beer, so I put those unopened bottles in my fridge.


Yesterday, I decided to fix some shrimp, but wasn’t interested in having them in batter.  I just wanted cold cooked shrimp to be dipped in my homemade cocktail sauce that leans heavily on Hellman’s Mayo, a squirt of ketchup, and a scoop of horseradish.  A cookbook I have from the Mississippi Gulf Coast suggests boiling the shrimp briefly in beer for added zest, so I used up one of those bottles of beer.  The shrimp were delicious, but I sure didn’t taste any difference over using boiling water.


I got an email today from my son, Dan, telling me I hadn’t made my picks yet for this week’s football games.  He’s the one that talked me into joining a fantasy football pool.  I’m not doing very well, but that’s to be expected since I don’t follow football.  It does give us something to chat about weekly though, so it’s worth it to me.  Anyway, that email surprised me since I made my picks yesterday while chatting on the phone with him.  I needed some clarification of the statistics that were showing up on my pick list.  He didn’t know where I was getting these statistics from, since they didn’t show up on his pick list. 

After his email warning, I decided to check it out.  It seems I was making picks on the CBS network as opposed to our football pool, and was competing against four of the top football announcers and analysts.  Ha!  What a hoot!  I hadn’t made any picks in that pool the first two weeks, so I am in 71,400th place.  I don’t know how I ended up in that guessing game.  I finally got back to the right fantasy pool, after writing down my picks from all the ‘analyzing’ I had done.  Open-mouthed smile  I’ll see how that goes.  I’d just like to beat him one week, but I doubt that will happen.

Tomorrow, I’m slated to be the ‘Laminating Queen’ on the refuge after cutting out pictures of birds with a scissors.  Now there’s something to look forward to!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy


Dear Seoul, I'm such a sap but every time we leave you, I well up a little bit. Seriously. I'm not sure what it is but I've grown attached to the city and I can't wait to call you home this spring (more on that announcement later, I promise). Dear Spring, hurry up. Dear Shoe Shopping, I don't think I've ever hated you so much as when I have to go with my husband. But I think that's only because the prices here are sometimes twice as much in the states, there's no discount shoe stores, and we are only guaranteed to find 'large sizes' (aka anything over a US size 10) in one area of Seoul and most of the time they are sold out. Dear Rant, I'm now finished. I realize this is only a small annoyance in comparison to all of the positives to living in this country. Dear Readers, I know I've been quieter than usual in social media this week. I'm spending some time away from the computer as much as I can to enjoy time with family and traveling around. I'll be back in full swing next week with stories of our trip to Japan and our family's visit to Korea! (trust me, there's some good ones just waiting for you)! Dear Jeremy, we celebrated your birthday yesterday in style and I must say, 30 looks good on you. Bring on the grey hair. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

It’s been a dreary five days

Some rain, some brisk winds, and overcast skies have prevailed for the last five days.  Makes for pretty boring days here.  I worked on the computer for the refuge on Monday, and then spent the last two days doing not much of anything.  It’s a string of days like this that makes me wonder why I write this blog.  There’s really nothing interesting or exciting to report.


In desperation early this evening, I decided to gather the trash and take it to the dumpster.  Exciting, right?  Well, when I pulled the garbage can out from underneath the sink, I noticed a puddle of water.  Nuts!  So I bent over to check the trap fittings under the kitchen sink.  One was wet, so I tried to tighten it.  I have always had trouble with that ‘Lefty-Loosey, Righty-Tighty’ thing.  Seeing as I was essentially standing up side down, of course I loosened it instead of tightening it. Disappointed smile  You can guess what happened to that little leak.


                                                                  “She’s spying on us again!”

After taking care of the trash and recyclables, I headed back to the rig to upload a few pictures that I took in back along Flat Lake.  In this pic, I wanted to put the subtitle in a speech bubble emitting out of the mouth of one of the swans.  As some of you know, you can’t do that anymore with Picasa 3.9, so I tried to go to Google+ to edit the picture.  OMG!  That sure didn’t work.  I couldn’t figure out how to even find this picture since it wasn’t in any of the folders that Google+ had decided I had.  It was another one of those tear your hair out situations for me.  Those improved editing options must be there somewhere, but I sure couldn’t find them.  I’m hoping that maybe Rick will do a tutorial on how to get all your pictures into Google+, and tell me how the heck I get pictures there that I want.


You can see in these photos just how dull and dreary it has been around here.  Tomorrow I’m off to get some new shoes for the toad, and take care of other errands in Detroit Lakes.  The weather guessers have been forecasting sunny skies for several days, but it hasn’t happened yet.  I sure hope they get it right soon.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Transitioning to a New Home-Our Lives Are An Open Blog

Hello! Right about now we're probably eating some fresh sushi, indulging in some Okonomiyaki drinking some Asahi and enjoying Japan with Jeremy's family...I can't complain. This is Jeremy and I's second time to Japan and we've loved this opportunity to explore the country a little more!

So filling in for me today is the sweet Alex from Our Lives Are An Open Blog. I love hearing from other expats and their transition to their new home. We all have such unique stories and perceptions and I feel that so much can be learned from each other about this experience. So whether you're moving to a new country, or just visiting a new place, I know that these lessons will come in handy!

Go check out Alex's blog where she talks about life, love and the ever changing life of an expat. 


Aloha to all the lovely readers of Lost in Travels! I am so excited to be taking over Chelsea's piece of the web while she is off exploring for the week. My husband and I write the blog Our Lives Are An Open Blog {emphasis I write and he inputs}. 

Since this is an expat blog and we are recent expats, I wanted to talk about our transition from  Georgia to Hawaii and now South Korea. Throughout our journey, Matt and I have learned a few things that I thought would be good to share for those looking to start traveling, or maybe just curious to see the process we went through.

{Matt and I on our honeymoon in Vancouver} 

Make Travel A Priority: If travel is what you want to do then try to find a way to do it. When Matt and I were dating we constantly talked about our future, and traveling was part of that future. After we got married, we decided to move back to Hawaii to finish our undergrad degrees. This was a huge step for us because we were newlyweds, and we were moving so far away from our families. Plus, Hawaii is really expensive and we were really poor. But it was this sense of adventure that kept our priorities straight. I feel like if we had stayed in Georgia, close to our comfort zone, our desire to travel would have been put on the back-burner. Matt and I are constantly trying to take advantage of every opportunity we have to travel. It's easy for life to take over, and we get to busy to remember to travel. But if you love to travel- go do it! Even if it's a quick day trip down the road- travel is travel.

{At our college graduations

Forget The Timeline: One thing I have learned over the last few years is that everyone is on a timeline. Every timeline is different, and that is okay. I used to stress myself out because I would compare myself to my friends and what they were currently doing in their lives. I have a close friend that just finished her master's degree from Columbia, another just had her first baby, and don't get me started on my old lacrosse coach that spent a year traveling around the world with her husband! 

What is important is that you are comfortable with your timeline. Try not to compare yourself with others. If you want to take a year to travel- do it. If you want to do a study abroad, but you're afraid of pushing back graduation- do it! In 2009, I pushed back my graduation to go to London to study abroad.  In 2010, I did it again when my grandma was diagnosed with breast cancer and I wanted to stay and help with her chemo. I graduated about a year and a half off schedule, but in that time period I started dating Matt and we were married at the end of 2010. If I had been worried about sticking to the so called 'standard timeline' who knows where I would be now. Timelines are important, but they need to be your timeline- not your parent's or friend's or society's.

{Laie Point - Our backyard in Hawaii} 

Be Careful Of Advice: Parents and friends really have our best interests in mind. (Or so I hope.) When Matt and I were planning to move to South Korea we got tons of differing pieces of 'advice'. We had people that supported us completely {thanks parents}, and others that thought we were completely crazy. I had a doctor straight up tell me I was probably going to get bombed while in Korea. {Thanks Doctor... exactly what I want to hear right before I move to a foreign country.} 

This is what I have to say about advice- take it lightly. Matt and I always try to listen to what everyone has to say and then we make our final decision based on all the evidence that we have researched, what we feel is right, and then maybe what others say. I can honestly say never in my adult life have I just blindly listened to what my parents told me to do just because they said so. That is part of being an adult! So when you are thinking about travel and you're throwing ideas around- listen to what others are saying, but make sure it's just added information. Don't let others decide for you.

{Suwon Fortress} 

Go With A Contact: This was the number one factor with us ending up in Korea. When Matt and I started researching teaching overseas, we read horror story upon horror story about people getting pretty much screwed over by employers/ landlords/ ticket agents/ you name it we read it. When we were in our last semester of school, some good friends of ours were going through the process to teach here in Korea. They had put a $1000 deposit on a place when they got news that school was shutting down and taking their money. This really freaked us out because we wanted to teach overseas, but we didn't want to get taken advantage of. {I mean who does?} 

So we started reaching out to friends of ours that could help us. We were pretty lucky because we went to an international school. We had neighbors from Samoa, Tonga, Hong Kong, Thailand, Korea, and Tahiti just to name a few. A good friend of ours from South Korea talked to one of his friends and within the next month we both had signed contracts. It is because of our friend that we have the jobs we have now. We picked Korea because we trusted our friend and the person he set us up with. If this is possible for you I would totally encourage it. Many universities have programs set up for you to look into. I know our school of education was always looking for teachers to go overseas. Our advice is to try to find a program like that before you try anything else. 
* Note: Don't do anything without a signed contract! 

Don't Be Afraid Of Change: This is a big one for me. It was hard for me to leave my teaching job in Hawaii. I had a pretty a good set up and if I stayed another year I would have had tenure! But every time I've had a major change in my life it's been worth it. Getting married was a huge change, but that worked out great :) Moving to Hawaii was just as good. Change is scary, but it doesn't mean it has to be bad.

{At Seoul Grand Park visiting the zoo} 

Last little tidbit- Do Your Research: This has been key with any trip Matt and I have taken. Become mini-experts in the place you are planning on going to. This will help with the big and the small things. It will help keep you safe, and it will things run a bit more smoothly. I find that Matt and I fight bicker less when we have researched more. Plus, the research will help you sort through all the 'good' advice that is being thrown your way.

I really hope these pieces of information give you a little more insight into our journey, and maybe even helped a few of you out. Travel is an exciting experience, but it is not one that everyone always understands. But I firmly believe, if you are true to yourself everything will be okay.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you over at our little home. I would love to hear from y'all.

Thanks again Chelsea.

Much Love- Alex