Salt Lake City

New Years with Daniel

Good morning to you! And happy 2016! May the parties you unintentionally end up DJing be okay with you just playing Latin remixes of your favorite songs and in the words of Dawes, may all your favorite bands stay together.

I’m surprised I woke up this early. Sort of.

To be honest, 2015 is a tough one to leave behind. Wedding year and all that. And also, I’m hardcore anticipating 2017. Yes, I said 2017, when I’m done with grad school and free to do something new.
But it’s 2016. I woke up just now in Portland. I’m spending the day with a few good friends. Once they finally wake up, that is. Much like this year, I have no idea what’s in store for today. I’m not even sure what’s open around town. But I’ve got some good company so I’m sure it’ll be a memorable one.
Today and this year.

Philippe’s Bread is a fantastic bakery. So bummed that this place didn’t have a Philippe’s Bread t-shirt I could buy. But I did have a bite of their great pain aux lardon that made me proud to lend my name to this establishment.

So far it seems like all I’ve done this year is eat, so it should be a good one.

Oh, and I just saw Room. Wild movie.

Had a lot of fun at Dr. Zylchov’s escape room this morning… but not as much fun as Daniel, considering the theme of this room escape consisted of cats and molecular-level science.

Actually, I’m pretty proud of how we did. Almost nineteen minutes to spare. We killed it.

At this point, all of my 2016 can be summed up as eat and escape the room. Good year so far.

Something happened on the way to the new year… I got pumped for 2017 instead.

Weird, I know, but the traveling and the being around family over the holidays was super refreshing. After that stretch I realized that being close to people had grown that much more important to me. I started to think of more and more of the possibilities of what to do when I was done with grad school. Especially places where I could live and what that would mean for my relationships. And it was really exciting to think in those terms.

Except, that’s still about a year away.

So what does this year look like instead?

Of course there’s a lot to look forward to, too. Cooking and half-marathons and Hawaii and South Africa. I’m looking forward to the summer and being able to camp again. There are still a ton of places around the state I have yet to see. I’d love to summit Mount Hood, and raft through Hellsgate, and spend some legit time in Bend. And I have many more Oregon-centric adventures enumerated on mine and Deanna’s list of adventures.

“In the world I notice persons are nearly always stressed and have no time…I don’t know how persons with jobs do the jobs and all the living as well…I guess the time gets spread very thin like butter all over the world, the roads and houses and playgrounds and stores, so there’s only a little smear of time on each place, then everyone has to hurry on to the next bit.”

—Emma Donoghue, Room

This was probably my favorite line in the book and I’m glad the movie adaptation made a note of it. Sometimes I feel like I couldn’t agree more with the quote.

I admit to being a two legged contradiction as far as that goes. I love to travel and see places and I get cabin fever when it’s been too long without an adventure. I’ve spent the last three weeks spread across three corners of the country.

There’s also something I love, though, about staying still and taking it slow. There’s something about spending all of a Sunday at home, doing what you will whenever it occurs to you that seems closer to the way I’d want to live.

We only get a day or two of snow each year, if that, so this was pretty exciting to wake up to.

The first half of the day, while we stayed in, was very Calvin and Hobbes. Little kids in our complex made sleds out of garbage can lids and kept crashing into someone’s parked pickup.

The second part of the day, when we had more errands, called for trying to pull cars out of driveways by force. A lot more Snowpiercer.

2016 has yet to fully sink in. The past few weeks have been wild ones. I’ve had visitors and I’ve been a visitor, sometimes doing both those things at the same time. With a few days to slow it way down before South Africa, it’ll be nice to let the present sink in some more.

So glad Daniel I could ring in the new year together, almost like Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper. Almost.

Also glad I didn’t lose my friend forever sliding down an icy mountain.

Come back to Oregon. We’ll have more donuts ready.

Got our mail that was held at the post office while we were away the past few weeks and found this treat… Some really neat card stock square prints of wedding photos from our photographer, Becky. Thanks Becky!

At the moment, here’s a few good things I’ve been thankful for.

Getting to have Daniel in town for a few days— Having visitors has always made me excited, especially while I’ve been living further away from my closest friends. I especially like it when they’re the sort of visitor I can totally be myself around.

Blue Star Donuts— Particularly for their Egg Nog Brûlée and rum donut. A brûlée donut is such a good idea, and they’re quite generous with the rum.

Getting to do another room escape— its a hot, trendy activity now, and I hope the trend is here to stay

To South Africa and Back

Looooooonnng day. Spent most of it doing prep for South Africa.

After getting my computer ready for travel, clearing up memory on all my stuff that usually runs out of memory, making a list of things to buy before going, phone calls and other details, the pending trip is finally beginning to sink in.

And I’m really excited.

From everything I’ve heard, a TON has changed since my last visit three years ago… A lot good, some not quite as good, but probably mostly good. From the sound of things it won’t be as big of a challenge to navigate my way around as it was last time.

Also, the last microloan I gave out in October didn’t work out because the person never collected the money… So it was returned. I still want to give this thing a legit shot so I found another person looking for one.

Looking forward to seeing you again soon, Africa!

I suck at getting to sleep before an exciting happening, last night was no exception. No big. Thirty-something hours on the plane will help get me caught up.

Last night was an adrenaline rush, as it finally sunk in deeper that in a matter of hours, I’d be back where I was three years ago, surrounded by pink and brown graffitied walls.

I really can’t wait. I wonder which of the kids that remember me will be the first one I see. I’m even actually excited to deal with the long flight… Though the chance to sleep may be a factor there.

Leg two of the really long journey to Joburg… LAX to London Heathrow. Not exactly my favorite airports but let’s make it a good time.

I’m really glad it worked out for us to do this trip via Virgin Airlines… That is a fave, especially for back-to-back really long flights.

So looking forward to seeing some familiar (but now more grown up) faces when our last plane finally touches down. That still feels a ways away right now, so for the moment I’m looking forward to catching up on the movies of 2015 via in-flight entertainment.


Actually still a party at LAX. The plane had a malfunctioning part and they needed it to be brought in from the other side of LA by somebody on motorbike. That sounds more like a Ryan Gosling movie plot to me, so we opted to hop on the next plane over.

From the beginning this place has always taught me how to slow it way down. This isn’t a place where things happen instantly upon an idea being formed. Things take time, with a lot of space in between.

Honestly, I say I wish life was like that more, but when you’re accustomed to the hustle it can be a frustrating thing to get used to. Still, this is where I first learned to simply be present.

Whenever I would get a surly open block of time, I would go to the courtyard of the centre, see who was over there, and wait for the interesting happenings to unfold. Yesterday morning was like that. The kids’ Saturday program wouldn’t start for another week, so we watched everyone figure out how to use their atypical Saturday. We kicked around a soccer ball and made some new friends in the process.

My flight from Joburg was cancelled. The good news was that they could get me a new route to Portland arriving Friday night. The bad news? It’s a four legged journey that gets me there at midnight while I fly to Salt Lake the next day at 6 am.

Despite that here’s some good stuff making this whole ordeal much more bearable.

Perdidos El Norte – fun movie I found on my plane about Spanish immigrants in Germany. Surprisingly sweet story. I always try and use those airplane movies to try and find at least one good foreign film.

The Amsterdam airport – This is probably my favorite airport abroad, and my second favorite right next to PDX for totally different reasons.

Fun company along the way – I’ve befriended a Polish traveler trying to make her way back to London via my same route, and a very friendly cleaning lady from Suriname. One of the fun parts of airports.

Alright, here’s a synopsis of my past IDK how many hours.

Johannesburg to Amsterdam — originally meant to be London but that flight got cancelled.

Amsterdam to London — You’d think this would be unnecessary since there’s so many ways to get to the U.S. from Amsterdam but whatever. I got Dutch frites for lunch.

London to New York — In NY, I only had exactly one hour to clear customs, recheck my bag, print a new boarding pass, switch terminals, go through security again and then find my gate.

New York to Portland — Just kidding, this flight got delayed two hours.

And now… I’ll be spending my night in the Portland airport. Gotta get up at 4am. I arrive at 130, so I might as well. Because when I wake up

Portland to Salt Lake — and back the next day.

Salt Lake City for Eliza’s Wedding

Brought home a bridesmaid over the weekend.

That tends to happen a lot being married to Deanna.

Glad to be reunited at last.

Quite the return to the United States… finally getting out of airplanes and finding myself in the middle of Temple Square in Salt Lake.

It’s Utah. Winter. Snow on the ground. And it’s about as different from South Africa as you can get. I already miss the kids and staff.

But being (almost) back is nice in its own way. Looking forward to having some time to do a lot more nothing while processing everything.

Official- Eliza and Geoff are now married.

Not gonna lie, this was one of the most tiring weekends ever, but I am so glad we found enough gas in the tank to see these two tie the knot.

Had a really fun time at the wedding and hanging out in Salt Lake. Congrats, Geoff and Eliza!

Eliza’s wedding venue— didn’t realize until we got there that it was somewhere I’d been before. Almost three years ago when we first met.

Deanna and I went with her and some friends to Salt Lake on a day trip away from Provo. This place had set up a neat little Christmas village, two days removed from a snowstorm.

The snow this weekend made it easy to recognize, just as the sun was on its way out. Real gorgeous.

“At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you… everything’s going to go south and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem… and you solve the next one… and then the next. And If you solve enough problems, you get to come home.”

—Andy Wier

Let’s just say that hearing this quote on one of my many flights home was extremely, extremely relatable.

Of course, I have the luxury of having so many places that feel like home because of the people. That helps too

With one more full day before I could really get home, Deanna and I found ourselves with hours to spend wandering and exploring Salt Lake City.

Unfortunately this happened to be a Sunday, so most of the city had shut down, but we were able to find a handful of fun spots to have a look around.

The whole day was on the chilly side, but visually gorgeous. Snow and sun are such a great combination when you can get the two to coexist.


Ah, alright. This has been a pretty tough week to be honest. I guess that’s why I try to make it a point to try and always find at least a few things I’m thankful for.

Here’s what it is this week.

Justin Bonello – Just when you think there are no more celebrity chefs to discover, you realize other countries have their own celebrity chefs. Definitely had to pick up at least one of his books while in South Africa.

Lardo – Last time I was in Portland, I got a look at their deli menu and it looked great. I unfortunately had no appetite. I went back this time, and apparently it was a totally different location. No sandwiches, just pasta. But like, really really good pasta.

Ratatouille – I’m late to this party, but I finally saw the movie yesterday and c’est bon!

We’re sick!

Obviously not how we would’ve chosen to spend our first Valentine’s Day since getting married, but the important thing is that we’re spending it together, regardless of the circumstances.

But this has been a good reminder that Love isn’t just about the mountaintop highs all the time, but ultimately about being present and together.

And we’ll go ahead and grab our fancy dinner at some point, anyhow!

So after all of the movement and traveling over the past week, it was really nice to stay in all day.

I don’t think I’ve enjoyed being at home and doing nothing really of note this much in a long time.

Scarcity principle.

Maybe happiness is this
Not feeling like you
Should be somewhere else
Doing something else
Being something else

— Unknown origin, but I found it here on Instagram

Either way, I love this quote.

It feels almost like an incongruous day to share it though, because honestly, today did feel like one where I wanted to be elsewhere. Along with all the perks of living in Eugene, it can also be isolating, being kinda far from so many of my favorite people. Today I thought about the time we’ve been living here and the nine months I have until the end of grad school and it feels pretty long.

At the same time, I also felt pretty thankful for a lot in my life, including the time we have left for so many of the things we love about living in Western Oregon. Today we hung out with the dog and dyed Easter eggs.

Today and this whole year have been so full of both rain and sun, heaviness and light, highs and lows. One day it’ll be a good story to tell. In the meantime, we get to see where this is all going to go.

Never take “normal” for granted. You never know when an accident or illness can land someone in the hospital, when you could lose a car or a house or an appendage, when you could suddenly suffer a financial crisis. Heck, sometimes it just takes a really stuffy nose to make you truly miss the times when your nose wasn’t stuffy that you took for granted.

I’m hoping to be a better connoisseur of normal. It clashes with my more adventurous sides, but I’ve learned that these simple, seemingly boring days are also brilliant samples of a life that merits some appreciation. In any given moment that can be overlooked, there are a billion things to not be taken for granted.