Five Fave Photos: Lord of the Rings Edition

Five Fave Photos: Lord of the Rings Edition

While traveling in New Zealand, I searched for Lord of the Rings filming locations and found some of my favorites. Today, I present a special edition of “Five Fave Photos.” These are five photos from Lord of the Rings scenes.

Can you figure out what Middle Earth action happened in these locations?

1. LOTR 1 Continue reading “Five Fave Photos: Lord of the Rings Edition”

Crowded in Corridors of Cornfields: Reverse Culture Shock

Crowded in Corridors of Cornfields: Reverse Culture Shock

Cornfields buried under snow on a record-breaking cold day: the low was -14, and at the time I took this picture, it was hovering around 0.

The first Facebook post I wrote when I returned home was this:

Thursday, I was up for 24 hours straight, only able to sleep for half an hour on the trans-Atlantic flight from Dublin to Dulles. Landing in Indy didn’t seem real. Yesterday, I opened (or tossed) 51 pieces of mail, used a hair dryer for the first time in nearly 16 months, and went to the final High School home football game. I’ve got a list going of things I haven’t seen in over a year, and there are American words that I’ve forgotten. I don’t think I have an accent, but I did say “Sweet as!” this morning in reply to something about breakfast. I went to the grocery store with Dad and found candy corn, marshmallows, Twizzlers and peach rings. We also found a sign that said “Kiwi’s,” but sadly there were none around. There was only kiwifruit. Now I’m eating a Bridge Fest buried beef sandwich. The leaves are changing, the colt is bigger than I remember him to be, and man is it good to be home.

I didn’t know it then, but those experiences when I first arrived home were some of my first incidents of reverse culture shock. Continue reading “Crowded in Corridors of Cornfields: Reverse Culture Shock”

What Being Home Means

What Being Home Means

The week before I arrived back home, I wrote in my journal, “I woke up used to the ocean, ate an apple and two cookies for breakfast and was listening to rap.

“It’s time to go home.”

I’ve had several people ask me, “What happens if you get home and the travel bug hits again?” or “Will you be bored?”

Right now, I am enjoying being in one place. Coming home doesn’t mean I can’t travel anymore. I’m actually heading to a Pennsylvania wedding soon. There are still plenty of places to go within my country, state and county.

Autumn in May. Omarama, New Zealand. 

And I’m not bored. I’ve got all kinds of projects going and people to meet. If I’m bored, it’s my fault. That was an early lesson from my dad as we rode together in the farm truck. I should always be able to think about something or do something interesting no matter where I am. Anytime I want a new challenge, I can come up with something. There are plenty of stories of people doing that.

Continue reading “What Being Home Means”

A Trip to Skye, Forgetting Where I Was Going, the North 500, and a Buttery

A Trip to Skye, Forgetting Where I Was Going, the North 500, and a Buttery

A Report on My Recent Two-Week Trek Around the North of Scotland

Skye has some of the most dramatic scenery I’ve ever seen. The ancient, volcanic Cuillin Hills rise 3,000 feet out of the ocean and The Old Man of Storr towers above the northern Skye roads.

I spent three days on the island (known best through “The Skye Boat Song”) driving the single track roads and stopping to watch wildlife. The most beautiful sight from those three days was an albatross gliding in the arc of a rainbow over the Atlantic Ocean. The powerful bird glided for a few minutes, only flapping its wings once, facing the wind head on.

My two favorite photos from Skye feature sheep in front of the Cuillin Hills. The sheep grazed with the cattle near Glenbrittle Beach, and there was no fence to prevent them from wandering over to the car park. The first picture gives a sense of place for where that sheep lives: at the foot of the Cuillin Hills. The second picture shows the ewe square and balanced, head up beautifully, as if she were performing for a judge.

****************************** Continue reading “A Trip to Skye, Forgetting Where I Was Going, the North 500, and a Buttery”

Scotland at Last and an Accidental Trip to Inverness

Scotland at Last and an Accidental Trip to Inverness

Sunrise at West Sands, St Andrews.

I drove north across the border of England and Scotland a couple of weeks ago, and it was a milestone moment.

My family is from Scotland and I’ve grown up with movies, music and food from here. I’ve wanted to visit for a long time and through several twists and turns didn’t until now. Being here means a lot.

So I’ve enjoyed Scotland, and have so far visited Dumfries, St Andrews (where my grandparents met), and Edinburgh, and — accidentally — Inverness.  Continue reading “Scotland at Last and an Accidental Trip to Inverness”

A Brief Travel Update

I’m in Wales now, after flying from Dublin to London and spending six days there in a city filled with treasures. I saw:

–Westminster Abbey
–The world’s longest-running play, The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie
–Tower Bridge
–Portobello Market
–An exhibition of Star Wars costumes in which I could create my own Star Wars avatar
–The Globe Theatre
–Double-decker buses (and rode in the top deck at the front once!)
–Telephone boxes (which I have continued to see in driving around Wales)
–Hyde Park
–St. Paul’s Cathedral
–Millenium Bridge (the one that was destroyed in Harry Potter)
–The outside of Buckingham Palace

The list could grow beyond that. I was amazed in the British Library by works in the hand of Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy. In walking around the city, I found several authors’ residences.  Continue reading “A Brief Travel Update”

A Few Thoughts from the Philippines

A Few Thoughts from the Philippines

First, here is a picture of a bird standing on my head:

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I was visiting Davao Crocodile Park, and a man held the two birds and asked, “Picture, mahm?” I thought he meant that I would be in a picture with the birds while he held them, but then he explained that they would perch on my arms. Readers may remember my previous adventures with birds in New Zealand, and I became ridiculously excited at this chance for another up-close wildlife encounter.

One even gave me a peck on the cheek while it sat on my shoulder.  Continue reading “A Few Thoughts from the Philippines”

Crossing Australia on the Indian Pacific Train: A Photo Essay

Crossing Australia on the Indian Pacific Train: A Photo Essay

When learning about the seven continents during social studies class, the fact that Australia was the only continent that was also an entire country was drilled into us.

But I forgot about that until I boarded the Indian Pacific and learned that the train was considered transcontinental.

I crossed an entire continent by rail. That was pretty cool.

The journey began on a Wednesday at Sydney’s Central Railway Station.

DSCF7798 Continue reading “Crossing Australia on the Indian Pacific Train: A Photo Essay”

Shorts from New Zealand

I’m back in Christchurch, which means I will have spent a third of my year in New Zealand in this city and the vicinity. My working holiday visa expires in a little over two weeks, so I’m working to sell my car and wrap everything up here. But it’s not quite time to return home–I’m taking the scenic route. I’ll first fly to Sydney and visit Australia, then I’ll visit Southeast Asia, Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland. I’ll return home in October and revel in my second autumn of the year.

So for this blog post, here is some

Miscellany from Down Under

For this story, keep in mind I’d been working and living almost exclusively with Kiwis for the four and a half months prior.

All year, I’ve been told Americans are loud, and I’d felt that, too, often speaking more quietly by a few notches when talking with a Kiwi. I thought it was just the volume at which we speak (and how slow we speak) that people noticed.

But when I visited a sheep station in Queenstown during a week of touristy activities, there was a group of Americans who sat in front of me during the sheep shearing demonstration. Continue reading “Shorts from New Zealand”