HUGE NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just like the last few posts, there is just so much going on in my life right now, it's hard to even get it all written down.

When you read this, I will have put in my notice at work with the County government. My last day will be September 25. I'll be closing the Planning chapter of my life, after 3.5 years with the Department of Land Use and Growth Management.

I will also have notified all my pet sitting clients that I will be retiring from pet sitting at the end of September. I've been a pet sitter for just over 3.5 years, and been in the professional pet care industry for the last 10 years. I really enjoy working with animals, and enjoyed the duration of my business. I've decided to retire from pet sitting because it is very time consuming, due to the nature of multiple visits per day at different clients' homes. I definitely enjoy the time with the animals, but it really restricts my free time when I have several morning pet sit visits of 45 minutes-1 hour, a few lunch time visits, a few dinner time visits, and a few bed time visits on a busy weekend day. Even though I still have several hours to myself, I can't really go anywhere or do anything, or if I do choose to go it is at the expense of lost business and customers. I've decided to pursue something more location independent, which will allow me to pursue my goal of travelling often and having lots of adventures.

Currently, I have four jobs. So those two will be ending. The third job is working as an assistant for Kate Marolt who is awesome. I do a lot of behind the scenes work for Kate and her yoga/personal coaching business (which doesn't even come close to describing the work she does, you really need to visit her website or meet her to get a feel for what she does), like helping with social media, email newsletters, appointment scheduling, and such. I'll be stepping into a larger role with Kate this fall, helping with retreats and community management, which is very exciting.

My fourth and newest job is teaching conversational Spanish and English virtually. My new business is a culmination of my passion for Spanish which has developed over the years since I started learning the language at 12 years of age, combined with a vision for a different way of teaching Spanish and English- a practical, conversational language learning rather than a grammar based approach. I'm really excited about the way this business is coming together, and I'm really enjoying the work I have already done teaching languages virtually, and I'm looking forward to turning this into a business I can support myself on.

The reason for all this change is that ANDREW AND I ARE MOVING TO COLORADO IN OCTOBER!!!!! Specifically, we are moving to Fort Collins. Andrew wants to enroll as a transfer student in Colorado State University's outdoor education/leadership program and use his GI bill to get a 4 year degree.

So we have a lot of changes coming, between finding housing, getting everything coordinated for the move, getting school set up, and everything else going on! We are driving out there with only whatever we can fit in our two cars (no furniture) and our 3 dogs. We don't have much right now, but we definitely have some downsizing to do before the move. I've lived in Southern MD my whole life, so it's going to be an adventure moving across the country to a place neither of us have ever been before, but we're up for it! I'll miss my family and friends and the familiar areas, but at the same time, I'm excited to be a nobody, and to start my new life full of adventures. We're really looking forward to be able to go hiking or backpacking any time, rather than having to drive several hours and get up really early for a weekend trip.

In addition, I'll be doing some travelling this fall. Right before we move, we are both attending Camp Nerd Fitness! Then after we drive across the country with the dogs to CO, we are heading down to AZ and doing a 4 day hike below the rim of the Grand Canyon with our friend Matt. We will return to CO, and then shortly after that I will be heading to VT to help Kate put on a retreat. After VT, I'll be spending time time with friends in New England for about a week, then Noel and I are going to Dominican Republic! Because why not?! I'll be there for 11 days which will be awesome. Then I'll be back home to CO to get settled in with Andrew!

You Might Be An Athlete If....

I never really thought of myself as atheletic, but I have been working out for the past 6 months now consistently, so that probably counts for something! Here are some realizations I've had recently. You may be an athlete if...

1) You have protein powder and/or protein bars in your pantry. And especially if you have them at work.

2) You know what a foam roller is and how to use it. Hurts so good....

3) You know what carb cycling is.

4) You know what Intermittent Fasting is and you can tell someone right off the bat what your fasting window is

5) You track your macro nutrients.

6) You know how many grams of protein you should be consuming each day.

7) You budget your "treats/cheats" for special occasions and know how many you can have and when.

8) You have "before" progress photos.

9) You only let yourself weigh in every X amount of time to prevent obsession but also to track your progress.

10) You have an idea what your body fat percentage is.

11) You know what things like WOD, HIIT, and burpees are.

12) You batch cook your food or at least cook the majority of your food from scratch.

13) You take really good care of your hands, including callous removal and moisturizing.

14) You know what chalk is used for at the gym.

15) You know how important mobility is, in addition to strength.

Do You Believe In Magic?

This post has been brewing for a while. There's so much change going on in my life right now, so it's been hard for me to post because I'm not sure what direction this blog is going to take! So for right now, it's just a chance for me to get my thoughts out.

The biggest change is that Andrew is home!!! He finished all 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail and returned home in one piece. Such a huge accomplishment and I'm super proud of him! So we are trying to settle in and find a balance with our routines and habits and such, since this is really the first time we have lived together.

Other than that, I started Crossfit at the end of June. I am really loving it. I'm seeing a lot of progress so far, and I'm hooked. As they say, I "drank the Kool-aid." I worked out with my good friend Jon this weekend when I stayed with him on my way north to pick up Andrew in Maine, and he coached me on my deadlift. I worked up to one rep max of 200 pounds! That's more than my body weight and much more than I have ever lifted before. It's amazing how much mindset plays into fitness- I like to not think about the amount of weight I am lifting and simply do a rep or two, see how it feels and how the form is, and if it is good, then add some more weight and repeat. At the end when I max out then I add up the weight.

I also started a "magic journal" where I record anything that seems unusual or interesting. Since I've been recording things in my magic journal (the last week or so) I've noticed more and more things that could be considered coincidences. Unless you believe in magic, then they would be magical.

  • There have been a lot of occurrences of wildlife. I live in a rural area and I have plenty of pets and pet sitting clients, so it's not unusual to see lots of animals. But some of these instances were are bit unusual- deer in the middle of a developed neighborhood, a hundred or so crickets springing up as I walk, a black cat right in the middle of a driveway when I go to park, a squirrel running along my office window even though the forest is a good ways away, and getting a few feet away from a groundhog after leaving Crossfit yoga. It means something, but I'm not sure what. This is one of the reasons I am keeping my magic journal, because these things will make sense in the long term/big picture even if they don't now.
  • My best friend Travis and I have been connected. Like saying the same thing at exactly the same time connected. Lucky to have a great friend like him, as well as my accountability buddy for fitness and clean eating. We have similar goals, which is awesome.
  • I went to my first olympic powerlifting class and one of the coaches, Christi, was wearing the same shirt and same color shorts as I was ("Act like a lady, lift like a boss- from our Crossfit gym) and hot pink shorts. Then I went to a pet sit and went to the post office to mail something. When I got out of my car at the post office, she was getting out of her car, too. Coincidence?
  • There have been a lot of things that just worked out nicely: a pet sitting client cancelled exactly when I could use that extra hour in the sun at the beach with Laura, I locked my keys in my car when my car was at home and I didn't need to drive it until the next day, plus my car insurance covered a locksmith, I backed into a truck on my way home from Maine and there was literally no damage to either car, a Spanish convo client cancelled exactly on the day I hadn't had a chance to finish the lesson plan, etc.
  • I was driving home from work one day and thinking about Andrew's brother Chris and his wife Manu. Just then, a car drove by me with a TN license plate from the exact county where they used to live until a few months ago. And here I am driving in MD. What are the chances?
  • I was driving to my second or third pet sitting visit one afternoon after work, and as I pulled out onto a main highway I saw a red jeep with a skull and crossbones license plate cover approaching in the next lane. I rolled down my window, and sure enough, it was Andrew's old roommate Scott, whom I hadn't seen since January and I didn't even know if he was still in the area! So we said hi as we drove along side each other briefly.
  • Just when I was noticing all the animals above and pondering what it could mean, I stopped by my parents house and they had picked a book out of their collection to share with me called "Nature-Speak" about natural omens.
  • I was messaging my friend Judi who said she was going for a walk. I told her to take a picture and send it to me. Normally, she doesn't carry her phone with her on a walk, but she did to take a picture. While on her walk, she found a lost dog and was able to call the number on it's dog tag to connect it with the owner.
  • There have been several good connections with animals recently, other than my own. Two dogs I hadn't watched in about 3 years remembered me, several cats that the owners claimed never go to strangers or take a while to warm up warmed up to me right away.
So, what do you make of all these things? Magic? Coincidence? Not big deal?

I'd love to hear your insights or if you have had anything similar happen!

Memorial Day Weekend

Sometimes I blog about my weekends that aren't spent travelling. A lot of the time if I'm not travelling I'm simply catching up on chores like cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping and meal prep. But Memorial Day weekend I had fun plans!

A few weeks ago Ginny and I went to visit Sam CT. I found out he was coming to DC for Memorial Day weekend and I knew we would have to have a Nerd Fitness meetup so he could meet some of the awesome nerds that live around the DC area.

Friday night we decided to meet up for kareoke. Since we had plans to get together Saturday morning, too, I booked a bed in the same hostel as Sam so that I could drink Friday night and also not have to drive 2 hours home and 2 hours back to get together again Saturday morning. I got off work around 4 pm Saturday and took the metro up to the hostel. When I checked in, Sam was already there and we went to drop my stuff in my bed. This particular hostel had assigned beds and there was a guy sleeping in my assigned bunk! After trying to explain to him several times that he was in my bed and he was supposed to be in the bed above me, I finally realized that he did understand what I was saying, he simply didn't want to sleep in the top bunk. I decided not to worry about it and put my stuff in the top bunk. But since I had already talked to him, I decided to invite him out for kareoke with us that night. He said he might join and bring some of his friends, so I gave him the address.

Sam and I walked to The Neighborhood, the bar where we had chosen to meet. We actually walked right past it before noticing it! The bar was actually in the basement. We arrived in time to get some half price drink specials. Lee and Chris were already there. As we were all introducing ourselves (since Lee and Chris went to camp last year I already knew them, but Sam didn't as CNF15 will be his first time attending camp.) we were all hugging. Alex was introduced to us and Sam and I hugged her, thinking she was one of the nerds that was going to attend the event that we didn't know. Actually she was our waitress. But she went along with it before telling us the drink specials. We laughed about that later. Good thing she went with the flow!

Shortly after we placed our drink orders and started catching up, Cyril (random guy from hostel) and three friends joined us. We got to know them and it turns out they had just met about an hour before at the hostel. They were from all over. They were all really cool and we had a great time hanging out with them. We kareoke-d several songs, some individually, some as a group, but we all cheered each other on and for many of the songs we acted as backup dancers for a member of our group who was doing kareoke. We were definitely the minority at the bar but everyone was really cool and we felt really welcomed and included. It's hard to describe the feeling of inclusion in words.

With NF friends and new hostel friends at The Neighborhood

Kareoke-ing together!
The next morning I got up early and met Sam for breakfast at the hostel. This is the first hostel I have stayed in that had a pretty good breakfast spread. I ate three bowls of yogurt with granola, which appeared to be the healthiest whole food like option. Then we took the metro and caught the bus (yay for us for figuring out the bus system, but boo for waiting 20 minutes between buses!) to Rock Creek Park's nature center. Lee, Chris and Ashley were all there already and we decided to head off on a 3.5 mile hike. I left my overnight bag in Chris's car so I didn't have to carry it all day. Saturday morning Rock Creek Park was full of runners, walkers, bikers, and dog walkers. It was a nice peaceful escape from the chaos that is DC. On our walk we toured a historic mill and then noticed we were near the zoo, so we decided to check out the zoo which was fun to do with friends. Afterwards, we got frozen yogurt across the street from the zoo which was a delicious way to end our time together on a hot and active day!
Some art I made at the hostel

Left to right: Lee, Ashley, Sam, Chris & me
I had to head home early that afternoon as I had a lot of pet sitting scheduled for the day since it was Memorial Day weekend, but I was grateful that I could get away for the night to spend time with my friends. It started my weekend off on an epic note!

Sunday was spent napping, tanning, pet sitting and doing various chores.

Monday was spent pet sitting, doing chores, and spending time with my brother Eli who was in town for the weekend! He lives in Seattle and it was his first time back since he moved there a year ago! We went out for lunch as a family to the Solomons Pier restaurant and then walked around Solomons and had a brief visit with Grandma Liz on the way back before I headed to pet sitting. That evening I got to skype with Katie and her 2 week old daughter Amelia all the way in CA!

Me, Mom & brother Eli (Jesse Eisenberg doppleganger)

VT, MA & RI Trip

Over 5/7-5/10 I visited several other New England states for the first time! Since I didn't have as much leave as I anticipated, I ended up having to drive up Thursday 5/7 after work rather than having the day off 5/7. The trip was off to a rough start when my gps couldn't calculate a toll free route to my hotel in VT. When I drove to CT, I paid almost $45 in tolls and I wasn't going to do that again. So after some help from my Dad I routed the gps for Albany, NY (toll free route) then from there routed it to the hotel (with tolls that totalled about $3-4.) After a few breaks to rest, I arrived in VT at 6 am. The good news about driving late at night was there was almost no traffic!

I checked into the hotel and slept from 6 am to 11 am. It was totally worth the money just to have a bed to sleep in and be able to shower. I could have slept in my car at rest stops but I'm not sure how safe that is, plus the hotel was already paid for so I just went ahead and went there.

I checked out around noon and drove up to Waterbury, VT for the Ben & Jerry's factory tour. The view from Ben & Jerry's was amazing- mountains all around. I absolutely loved Vermont. It was gorgeous. I didn't even mind driving through it because the views of the green mountains were amazing. The tour was very cool and I also enjoyed two free samples of a delicious caramel ice cream. After that, I drove to a nearby cider mill to taste the fresh cider which was so good on that 85 degree day! They also had some tasty foods like maple peanut butter (natural pb) and goat's milk caramel. Then I headed to the VT/NH border to have dinner with Amanda from camp. We met up at a pizza place and she shared her "pig pile" with me- fries with bacon and real cheese and scallions. Yum! I had a bun less bacon bbq cheddar burger and also a few house made chips and a salad.  After dinner, I drove to Jackie's house in Massachussetts where she had generously agreed to host me over the weekend.

Dinner date with Amanda
Let me say that I was overjoyed when I found out she usually likes to go to bed early. I was pretty tired from Thursday night's all nighter drive and I usually go to bed early too, so it was soooo nice to get a full night's sleep!

Saturday we went to a zumba class that was probably the most action packed zumba class I've ever been to. It was very active. It was hard to keep up with the movements but I did the best I could. If you want to get more comfortable with your own body, and get comfortable being uncomfortable and not knowing, go to zumba. It takes a while to learn the routines and get used to the movements, so for a while you're going to have moments where you are doing something different than most people, and that's ok. Most zumba instructors don't tell you if you're doing a move "wrong" and most call it a good class if everyone is having fun and moving around in some way or another.

After zumba, we got cleaned up and headed out to brunch with Jon. Jon is seriously the most muscular guy I know in real life, even though he denies it. He is also very gentleman-ly. We had a great time catching up and getting to know each other over brunch. It was my first mimosa ever- I feel like I am really an adult now that I had alcohol with brunch! Since none of us had plans that afternoon we went to a nearby park called Purgatory Chasm. The chasm was a bunch of rocks that you get to make your way through by hoisting yourself up and over. It was a blast. Afterwards we all got ice creams from the smart vendor that had parked his truck at the park on that hot day.
Brunch with Jackie & Jon
In Purgatory Chasm with Jackie
That evening, Jackie and I went out to dinner with her roommate and friend at a nearby restaurant, then we chatted and played Cards Against Humanity.

Thanks for the thoughtful souvenir, Jackie!
Sunday morning, I planned to hit the road early, knowing it would be a long day. Jackie was thoughtful enough to get up early to make bacon and paleo waffles which was a delicious send off breakfast. I really enjoyed hanging out with her. Then I hit the road and headed to Rhode Island, which was exactly the way I pictured it- cute coastal state with lots of active residents and beaches. It even smelled like salt water. I couldn't find the nature preserve where I was planning to do a trail run so instead I walked to a nearby deserted beach where I enjoyed sea shell appreciating, talking to the birds, and walking along the beach. It was beautiful and very peaceful. I sprinted back after my walk and spent some time hanging out and playing on the beach before hitting a cafe on my way out of town.

At the beach in RI
At the cafe, the girl at the cash register was wearing a shirt that said "Mt. Katahdin" which is the mountain at the very end of the Appalachain Trail. I asked her if she had hiked it and she said no but that her dad was thru hiking. I told her Andrew was too. Small world! I had a lobster sandwich for lunch (can't remember the last time I had bread!). Then I hit the road again and got home late that night, after getting pulled over by a  Officer Bennett (OITNB) look alike in Waldorf for my tag light being out.
Lobster sandwich- I ate all the garnishes except the lemon peel

Andrew Thru Hike Visit #4- Blacksburg, VA Area

From 5/1-5/3 I drove down to the Blacksburg, VA area to visit Andrew. It is about a 5 hour drive so I left Friday after work and arrived Friday night. I picked him up from a thru hiker hostel where I got to meet some of his friends, which was great. Aramis was so tired from the long day that he was passed out in a recliner chair and had trouble getting up when he saw me! His friends said it was the first time he had gotten up all afternoon/evening! It was so great to see them both. I was so excited driving there!

We checked into our hotel about 30 minutes away from the trail. The Days Inn Conference Center is the nicest budget hotel we have stayed in thus far and the breakfast was great- scrambled eggs, hard boiled eggs, oatmeal, bacon/sausage, yogurt, apples, cereal, juice, milk, and pastries.

Goofing off
Saturday we did errands stuff like cutting his hair with the beard trimmers, getting Aramis' nails trimmed, picking up doggie protein powder for Aramis (powdered goat's milk puppy formula), grocery shopping with Andrew, going to the dog park, etc. We also went to see the Avengers 2 movie. I didn't like it, but most of my friends that have seen it did. It was our first time seeing a movie in IMAX which was a cool experience. That night we stayed in bed in the hotel and watched a movie on Netflix.
Snuggling my son

Sunday morning was a rush to get ready before check out at 11 am. We had hotel breakfast again, Andrew packed up all his gear, sorted out most of his winter stuff for me to bring home like his tent (swapping out for hammock with tarp), and tidied up the hotel room. Oh, and I bathed Aramis. Since the hotel only had a shower (no detachable shower head) I had to bathe him by getting in the tub with him and moving him around so he got wet everywhere. I got a shower myself! We stopped at Walmart on the way to the trail and got him new swim trunks which double as his hiking shorts. He lost a lot of weight already after only 6 weeks on the trail so he had to go down a size.

When I dropped him off we did some trail magic with gatorades. Then I headed home.

On the trail again

On Friday's drive down, I noticed I drove straight by Waynesboro, VA, where my friend Jenn lives! Since I was doing ok time wise heading home, I asked her if she wanted me to come visit and bring food! So that was a nice stop to break up my visit and it was great to see her again and hang out.

Singing in Spanish!

I love singing! I just love it. I love so many types of music, but I particularly love Spanish songs. I find Spanish to be an incredibly beautiful language, even more so when set to music. In an effort to be brave, one of the things I am working on this year, I've decided to record myself singing in Spanish to this great song!

Watch here:

If you don't speak Spanish, I've translated the lyrics below for you to follow along.

Quisiera darte el mundo entero la luna, el cielo, el sol y el mar,
I would like to give you the entire world, the moon, the sky, the sun and the sea

y regalarte las estrellas, en una caja de cristal,
and give you the stars in a crystal box

llevarte al espacio sideral y volar como lo hace superman
to take you to outer space and fly like Superman does

Quisiera ser un superheroe y protegerte contra el mal
I would like to be a super hero and protect you against the bad

y regalarte la via lactea en un plato de cereal
and give you the Milky Way in a cereal bowl

llevarte al espacio sideral y volar como lo hace superman
to take you to outer space and fly like Superman does

Me tienes tan debilitada, todas mi fuerzas se me van si estas aqui
You have me so weak, all my strength leaves me if you are here

y mis poderes no son nada, me siento tan normal, tan fragil, tan real
and my powers are nothing, I feel so normal, so fragile, so real

me elevas al espacio sideral, tal como lo hace superman
You lift me up to outer space, just like Superman does

Quisiera hacerte un gran poema, y usar el cielo de papel
I would like to make you a great poem, and use the sky as paper

tomar las nubes como crema, y hornearte un super pastel
drink the clouds like cream, and bake you a super cake

llevarte al espacio sideral y volar como lo hace superman
to take you to outer space and fly like Superman does

Me tienes tan debilitada, todas mi fuerzas se me van si estas aqui
You have me so weak, all my strength leaves me if you are here

y mis poderes no son nada, me siento tan normal, tan fragil, tan real
and my powers are nothing, I feel so normal, so fragile, so real

me elevas al espacio sideral
You lift me up to outer space

Me tienes toda enamorada, todas mi fuerzas se me van si estas aqui
You have me completely in love, all my strength leaves me if you are here

y mis poderes no son nada, me siento tan normal, tan fragil, tan real
and my powers are nothing, I feel so normal, so fragile, so real

me siento tan normal, tan fragil, tan real
I feel so normal, so fragile, so real

me elevas al espacio sideral, tal como lo hace superman
You lift me up to outer space, just like Superman does

NJ Trip to Visit Faith

Over 4/24-4/26 I went to visit Faith in NJ! We met at Camp Nerd Fitness last year. She came to visit me back in February and she invited me to come celebrate her birthday with her in NJ! How could I refuse?

I got off work around noon on 4/24 and headed up to NJ. I made pretty good time until I got stuck on one of the NJ freeways right around 5 pm in traffic. It was a horrible experience and I absolutely hated it. But, I finally made it to the party venue and got straight. Once I got there, the experience looked up significantly. The venue was a sports bar called Exit 201 and it had a great atmosphere. Her friends were all super nice and I felt included right away. It was great to see the birthday girl, too! After dinner and some drinks we headed downstairs to the kareoke room she had reserved. There were probably 20-30 of us total, and the only one I knew when I arrived was Faith. We had a great time kareoke-ing! I did my first ever Spanish kareoke to A Dios Le Pido (with a group) and also danced on the tables and sang to a One Direction song. It was awesome.
Faith & I at Exit 201 celebrating her birthday

Saturday morning Faith and I went to a local meeting for a group she's a member of, then we hit up Trader Joe's and Whole Foods! It was my second time in Trader Joe's and my first time in Whole Foods! I stocked up on food! It was great! We were tired after that so we headed back to nap.

That evening we got up from our naps and went into NYC for Tribeca Film Festival- Faith had gotten us tickets to a film screening and panel discussion with Eva Longoria, which was cool! We walked around NYC after that then went back home and hung out, after stopping by her uncle's house for some authentic Filippino food- yum!

Repping NF in front of the red carpet (it was fenced off) at Tribeca Film Festival
Sunday morning we got up and her Mom made us breakfast- eggs and potatoes and a delicious eggplant and egg and garlic dish called "Eggplant Torta." I got to meet several of her family members over the weekend, which was cool. Then we headed to pick up my car and went to church. The church service was very cool. I've never seen so many skinny jeans in one place. The live band was very good and you can tell everyone puts a lot of work and volunteer time into the church. It's a great atmosphere.

From Wikipedia: Hillsong Church is a Pentecostal megachurch affiliated with Australian Christian Churches (the Australian branch of the Assemblies of God) and located in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. The church was founded in 1983 when the Sydney Christian Life Centre at Waterloo, which was established by Frank Houston, merged with the Hills Christian Life Centre in Baulkham Hills, established by his son, Brian Houston.[1]

at church Sunday
Then we went to lunch with some friends from church at a nearby restaurant. One of the girls is going to bible school to become a pastor. It's interesting to hear her talk about her classes and her beliefs and to see how my beliefs have evolved over time (mostly in the things I disagreed with that she believed in, and I used to believe in too! I kept my opinions to myself, though.)

Then I headed home as I had a long return trip!

CT Trip with Ginny!

 Over the weekend of 4/17-4/19, Ginny and I took a trip! I stayed with Ginny in NC as I was coming home from my FL trip. We stayed up talking the night that I stayed at her house and we realized both of us had never been to most of the New England states!

I was planning to visit most of them this year already and Ginny said she'd love to join, so we planned to do a short trip to CT together. I posted on the Camp Nerd Fitness facebook page to see if anyone wanted to meet up in CT. Sam D.  sent me a message that he might have a place for us to stay and he would check to see. Turns out he did! Well, we didn't know him in real life but we had talked regularly over the weeks leading up to the trip and we knew he was a NF-er, so we hoped for the best! Honestly, the weekend couldn't have turned out better in my opinion, and no one got murdered!

So let's rewind to Friday 4/17. I got off work early around 2 pm and Ginny met me at my house. We headed out to  CT probably around 3:30 pm. After only one stop for gas, food, and a bathroom break all at once, we arrived in CT around 11:30 pm. Unfortunately, we probably spent about $45 in tolls! We learned our lesson to request a toll-free route heading home. We met Sam for the first time when we arrived at his apartment, which was very clean and well decorated. I was impressed. We stayed up talking for an hour or two to get to know each other a little.

The next morning, we got up and got ready and headed out to breakfast. We ended up eating at a place called Hotcakes. We all got the steak and cheese omelet which was soo good! It was like a steak and cheese sub inside of an omelet. It was then that Sam and Ginny learned the extent of my appetite as I ate my entire omelet, home fries, the extra home fries I ordered instead of bread, and the remains of Sam's breakfast which was about half an omelet and half as many home fries. After that we stopped at Walmart for some bananas and headed to Sleeping Giant Sate Park for a hike!

That particular weekend happened to be a lacrosse game at the school across from the park and also a huge national science competition as well, so there really wasn't any parking! We joined the masses parallel parking on the side of the road, musing to ourselves that surely they wouldn't ticket this many people!

We hiked up to the top, where there was a magnificent structure that I can only describe as a stone castle. It really was cool. We spent some time there and also on a nearby overlook before heading back. It was a very popular hike with lots of people, so we opted for a less travelled more rocky path down. On the way down, we happened to talk to a lady walking her dog, and it turns out her grandfather was the one that layed out all the trails at the park. What are the chances of that?

Ginny & I in front of the stone castle at the top of Sleeping Giant State Park
Sam & I repping Nerd Fitness
Ginny & I taking in the CT sun and views
After we got back down to the road, we saw a cop was ticketing all the cars! So we sprinted for my car and made it before we got a ticket! Phew!

After that I suggested we get some ice cream so we went to a local homemade ice cream shop that sells ice cream on their farm and we got a large amount of ice cream (we all have a sweet tooth!) and then took it to go to a nearby park on the water. After finishing our ice cream, we walked around the park and played in the woods. It was fun goofing off and getting to know each other. We got some groceries on the way back to cook for dinner and then breakfast the next morning. When we got back to Sam's house we were all really sweaty from being outside all day (surprisingly Sam and I got sunburns in April in CT!) so we all showered then napped. I woke up at 9:30 thinking we better eat something for dinner!

homemade local ice cream- yes, please!
Ginny & I playing in the woods
So we cooked chicken and had it with veggies and salad and bananas. Then we played Cards Against Humanity for several hours with Sam and his brother. It was a blast.

The next morning we got up and got ready and made breakfast (asparagus and ground beef) then Ginny and I headed home. The road trip went a lot quicker with a friend along! We remembered to take the no-toll option on the way home!

Ginny, Sam & I before Ginny & I headed home

Visiting Andrew in NC & TN- 2 Trips in 1 Post

Is it bad that I had to check my calendar to see which trip I took next after the 8 day trip? So much has happened!

Two weekends after I returned from my 8 day trip, I headed down to NC to visit with Andrew. The trip was mostly because dogs aren't allowed in the Smoky Mountains, so we planned on me picking Aramis up one weekend, which would allow Andrew to hike the 70 miles of the Smokies that week, then I would return the following weekend to drop Aramis off again.

The night before I went down to visit Andrew, my friend Alejandro was in DC for just the weekend. Since I would be gone all day Saturday and Sunday, I went up to DC Friday night to spend time with him and his friend Morgane. We all stayed in a hostel in DC and we went to a comedy show then went to a bar and had a few drinks and talked. It was a fun evening out and I  was glad I got to see him since he lives in CA!
Me, Morgane & Alejandro

The first weekend I came to visit Andrew, it seemed like almost no time had passed. Between my trip and then leaving again, I had barely had time to catch up on stuff. It was so good to see him though, and even Aramis was happy to see me! I headed down on a Saturday. Andrew had arrived early to the hotel in NC so he had taken several Zero Mile Days (Zeroes) and was waiting for me to arrive. I arrived in the afternoon so we went out to eat and then went to see Insurgent at the theater, which I had been wanting to see.

Andrew & I before Insurgent
Sunday we did some trail magic (giving away food to Thru Hikers). We hiked a portion of the trail from where he had been picked up at the highway to Fontana Dam, which ended up being only a few miles. We met some nice thru hikers which were very grateful for the McD's breakfast sandwiches, gatorages, and trail mix. We walked around the dam for a while which was very cool. That way, I could drop him off the next morning at the dam and he wouldn't have missed any portion of the trail. That afternoon we ended up sort of last minute meeting up with his entire family in TN for dinner, which was great. His brother and wife live there, and live near his other brother, wife, and daughter. It also happened his Dad was visiting. So we were all able to meet up which was great. It was about a 2 hour drive for us which was a lot but it was worth it.

All the Schubauers! Left to right: Andrew, me, Manu (Chris's wife), Chris, Don/Mr. Schubauer, Kari (Donnie's wife), Donnie & their daughter Emily
Monday morning I dropped him off at Fontana Dam so he could continue his hike, then I headed home with Aramis. The drive took all day, and I arrived home around 8 or 9 pm.

Before I dropped him off at Fontana Dam

The following weekend I headed down again. Andrew made super time through the Smokies, finisihing all 70 or so miles within 4 days! I had off Friday due to Good Friday, so I went to bed really early Thursday night and woke up really early Friday morning to workout, pack, clean my room, etc. I hate leaving behind a mess. I drove back down with Aramis and we arrived in time for dinner on Friday night. We ended up staying in a really nice hotel (probably the nicest we have stayed in) which had an in room jacuzzi. We used the jacuzzi several times that night and the next morning.

Saturday morning Andrew wasn't feel well at all. He had a fever and was really week and had cold symptoms, so we figured it was the flu. We managed to go to Walmart and I got some Easter candy and he got his groceries and stuff for the next week of hiking. Other than that, we pretty much stayed in bed all day watching movies. It was a nice break together.

By Sunday morning he was feeling a bit better but not back to 100%, plus he still had a bunch of stuff to do before he hit the trail. So he decided to take another zero and I cancelled my plans to go to KY (my overnight place to stay fell through anyway, so I figured I would rather spend another day with him then check KY off the list). I had made plans to meet up with Amy and Ben a few hours away on Easter Sunday. We had a nice lunch at Cracker Barrell then headed to a nearby park with a waterfall hiking trail. We had a great time chatting and Ben and I ventured down the slick rocks to hike to the base of the waterfall, which was cool. W also had tons of healthy snacks that the Hendersons brought! That evening I headed back to see Andrew. During the day he had packed his pack, showered, waterproofed his tent, I had cut his hair, etc. He was just getting back from seeing the Fast and the Furious 7 so we got to spend that evening together.

Ben, Amy & I

by the falls

eating healthy snacks!

Monday morning we got our stuff together and I dropped him off at the trail again to continue his hike. This was the saddest time of dropping him off, because it would be about a month until we saw each other again. This is the longest we have ever gone between seeing each other (although both of us have done long distance with other partners). I headed home and arrived home that evening.