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.

GA, FL, SC & NC Trip

Back it up to early March 2015. I took a pretty awesome 8 day trip. It was super fun.

Here's how it went down.

1) We left on a Sunday (Andrew and I) to drive down to Jasper, GA. The drive took most of the day Sunday and  we arrived that evening at our budget hotel with Aramis. The following day we just relaxed and enjoying spending some quality time together. Tuesday morning, I dropped them off to start their Appalachian Trail thru hike. Andrew's been planing for this hike for about 3 years. I dropped them at Amicalola State Park on a cold and rainy morning to start the AT Approach Trail. The Approach Trail is about 11 miles and isn't officially part of the AT but many thru hikers hike it at the beginning as a matter of tradition. The Approach Trail climbs alongside a beautiful waterfall and has about 600 some manmade stairs. That morning they were pretty slick from the rain. I hiked through the parking lot at the top with him (maybe 1/2 mile in and the same distance back out) where we said our goodbyes. As he hiked off he was playing "Honey I'm Good" by Andy Grammar on his phone, which is one of our new favorite songs.

Andrew and Aramis starting the approach trail to the Appalachain Trail
2) That morning (Tuesday) I drove down to Florida. When we had left MD there had been about 4 inches of snow and 40 degree temperatures. GA was about the same temperatures but no snow. This was my first time in FL and I was so happy to enjoy the warm temperatures and nice weather and everything in bloom and green! I saw Spanish Moss for the first time (my thoughts were...those look like Dr. Seuss trees!). Florida was beautiful. When I arrived at the hostel in Tampa, that was officially my longest solo drive. I fueled myself on Chai Tea Lattes. I don't normally consume caffeine so that really helps me stay awake on drives which really tire me out. The hostel was cool. It was my first hostel experience and I had booked a 4 bed female dorm. I arrived before dark so I hung out in the patio area and alternately read and checked email/facebook messages.

3) Wednesday morning I woke up early and walked across the street to start my morning with a barefoot outdoor HIIT workout. It was glorious. I didn't really have any plans in FL, so I decided to walk around the area where I was staying for an hour or two. I checked out the neighborhood and got lots of pictures of the plant life which was awesome. Around the time I was getting back from my walk I heard from my friend Christi who lives about an hour or two from where I was staying. We decided to meet up for lunch. We ended up at a Mexican restaurant, Abuelo's, where we both got salads with meat and we made our own dressings from a tomatillo sauce combined with guacamole. Yum! We walked around the outdoor mall a bit before she had to head out for an appointment.

Christi and I after our lunch and walk
I had my first Cold Stone creamery ice cream after she left (mint with gummy bears and chocolate shavings) then drove out to the campground where I was staying. I drove by a roadside stand and got some fresh (picked within 24 hours) local strawberries which were awesome! I arrived at Little Manatee River State Park and got my tent set up. I decided to walk around the hiking trails at the park, so I did that for several hours. It was very flat, sandy, and there were lots of palm trees. I loved it. I got back to my campsite after hiking all the trails just in time as a storm was approaching. So I set up the rain fly on the tent, set up my camp chair inside the tent, and got to reading with my headlamp. Danny texted me that night and we planned to meet up for a fun day out in the St. Peterburg/Tampa area the next day!

4) Thursday I got up early and met up with Danny. We headed into Tampa for breakfast at the Oxford Exchage, which was a super fancy looking restaurant. It was huge and nicely decorated and very popular. It was also a book store, and pretty much everything they serve was organic and local which was cool. We shared some fresh squeezed local oj and breakfast-ed. Our bill arrived inside of a book like a bookmark! Then we headed to Clearwater Beach to meet up with a new friend Mary. We spent about 2 hours walking the boardwalk, laying out in the sand and talking, and wading in the water. Then we headed to a paleo restaurant (how cool!) for lunch and their paleo muffins which were tasty! Afterwards we checked out one of Danny's favorite parks and one of Mary's favorite coffee shops for boba/bubble tea which was tasty. Then we headed over to the Dali Musuem. At 5 pm the have a special discounted rate. We walked around the musuem for a bit which was cool, then we goofed around outside in their labrynth and scupltures and garden area taking pictures. We walked around the area and checked out some Banyon trees and climbed a giant tree. It was getting late and we decided to get something light to eat so we saw a tapas (Spanish appetizers) restaurant. We happened to get the best seat there and got a few tapas to share which was tasty. There was a local band playing so we stayed for a bit, and shortly thereafter the flamenco dancers came out. They were very good- equally good as the dancers I saw when I was in Spain! It was a super epic way to end the night, especially since it was totally random and unplanned! Danny and I drove back together listening to the CD of an Indie band he likes- super cool.

Mary & Danny at the paleo restaurant for lunch!
Mary & Danny at the Dali Musuem garden, tying admission bracelets into a chain of good wishes
5) Friday morning I checked out of camp and met up with Eric for breakfast. He picked me up near the campground and we drove to First Watch and had a nice breakfast. It was a nice send off from Florida and started my driving day off well. After breakfast, I headed to SC. I had booked a bed at Charleston NotSo Hostel. That evening I didn't do much other than check my emails/messages.

Eric & I after breakfast
6) Saturday morning I got up early and exercised in the parking lot under a tree behind the hostel. Then I set out in search of a place to eat breakfast. I found a cute little cafe down the street and got a Mediterranean Omelet and some orange juice. Randomly, my mom had sent me information on the Charleston Tea Plantation. I love tea, and I was anxious to get out of the city since I hate city driving and parking and traffic, so I headed to the tea plantation which was outside of the city. It was really interesting to take the plantation tour and also the factory tour. It's the only tea farm in all of North America which was really cool. During the tour they talked about a nearby several hundred year old tree, so of course I had to stop there on the drive home. The Angel Oak Tree is believed to be at least 400 years old. It was breathtaking and I could feel the energy as soon as I approached it. I spent a little short reflective time with my hands on the tree. I stopped at a restaurant that bakes their own pies nearby and picked up two mini pies for Ginny and I since it was Pi Day of the century after all (3/14/15). I drove the rest of the way from SC to Washington, NC where my friend Ginny lives. She generously offered to host me that night. I hit a ton of traffic that night and unfortunately arrived much later than I anticipated. But we had a late dinner together and stayed up talking for several hours, which was great.
Angel Oak Tree

7) Sunday morning I slept in a bit, then we decided to head into the nearby historic town of Bath. We walked around the town (where Blackbeard is from) and talked for about an hour or so. We stopped for lunch at the grill and I tried "corn nuggets" for the first time. After that, I headed home and arrived Sunday evening.
Ginny & I

It was an awesome trip. I had so much fun visiting 3 new states and the best part was meeting up with my friends. The fun and spontaneous activities helped keep my mind off of missing Andrew. I had booked the places to stay and planned approximately when I would be in each area, but I didn't have much planned in the way of activities. It all worked out really nicely.

What Does an EMT Do? Interview with Travis

Photo taken by Camp Photographer Will Byington: Can you tell we had fun?
In my Health/Fitness/Diet Update, I mentioned that having an
accountability partner makes it a lot easier to stick to a healthy
eating plan, when you know you have to tell your partner everything
you ate and drank and you don't want to admit to them that you failed!
My friend Travis and I have been accountability partners for about a
month or two now and we have both had a much easier time staying on
track by keeping each other accountable.

Travis and I met at Camp Nerd Fitness about 7 months ago. It's funny
how all my nerd friends from camp are so integrated into my life now.
I've experienced tremendous personal growth as a result of camp and
the resulting friendships. The story of how Travis and I actually met
at camp is pretty funny. Here's how I remember meeting him (not as
funny): It was the second night of camp which was Super Hero Night.
There was a bonfire and kareoke and an outdoor DJ and lots of people
were socializing and dancing outside. I love to dance so I wandered
over to a group and started dancing and talking with them after
recognizing Chris from my high ropes course team earlier that day.
There was lots of drinking going on that night, so Travis doesn't
remember us meeting (it could also have been the fact that I was in a
Claire Bennet cheerleader costume and long blonde wig). But we
definitely met because we're standing next to each other in a picture
from the end of the night!

Here's when he remembers meeting me: The next night, there was another
DJ and bonfire and more dancing and socializing. But this time was
Rubix Cube night! So everyone that wanted to participate wore an item
of clothing of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and white and then we
went around swapping clothes with people all night to try to get all
one color. Once you get all one color you can do it again! It was a
great way to meet people. Anyway, when the group photo was taken at
Rubix Cube night, I was in green and Travis was in red. These are the
only two pictures I could find that we are both in from camp! At some
point during the night I remember trying to get all blue clothes and I
finally got some blue suspenders that I wanted to go with my blue
sweater and blue skirt. I had had several beers and could not figure
out how to clip the dang suspenders! I kept trying and failing and
meanwhile I was hanging around Travis's group again (there weren't
many groups that were dancing) and he took pity on me and helped me
with the suspenders! So that's how we met!
Photo taken by Camp Photographer Will Byington:

Being accountability partners we've been talking a lot and I was
really curious about what it's like as an EMT. I really respect him
and everyone in that field a lot, as they are literally saving lives
on a regular basis. I knew it was a demanding job, but I really had no
idea exactly what they do! When I asked him about it, he said he would
be willing to answer any questions and he was happy to talk about it,
so I thought this would be a great opportunity to publicly share what
an EMT does!
Travis at work!

At what age did you decide you wanted to be an EMT? What attracted
you to this field?

I was 16 when I decided to be a paramedic, which is a step over EMT but more on that later. My high school offered several medical courses and in intro to medical professions we took a field trip to the local college to talk to the heads of all of the medical professions programs. They had fire science, paramedic, respiratory therapy, physical therapy, and nursing. And when we met with the head of the medic program I became very interested in emergency medicine. Over the years, my interest grew due to emergencies in my family. A grandfather with a sudden onset heart condition, grandmother had a stroke, then a heart attack, etc.

What exactly attracted me to it is how different it is. No two days are exactly alike, get to meet interesting (potentially crazy) people, the rush of it (at times). There's no other job quite like it.

Once you became an EMT, what was different about the job than you imagined?

There was so much I didn't know! Your school training only prepares you for so much.

Had no clue about some of the trivial stuff people call 911 for. I've responded to things as serious as strokes and heart attacks down to a woman who wanted nothing more than her blood pressure checked.

What kind of training did you have to go through to become an EMT?

With the program set up at our community college it takes a year of school to become an EMT. 1 semester to get your first responder cert (EMR) then a semester of Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).

The EMT course is incredibly intense. It's a lot of information to process in 4 1/2 months.

What's a typical shift like for you?

That's the best part of this job, there really isn't a "typical shift". I've had shifts where I didn't even leave the station for 24 hours and then I've had ones where I worked 30 hours straight, never being in the station long enough to lay down. It varies pretty widely.

What do you like most about being an EMT? Dislike most?

I love being able to help people, don't get me wrong but my favorite thing is how every call is like a puzzle. We see a wide variety of people and many of them need help in a lot of different ways. You've got severely ill ones who need the hospital; suicidal, bipolar, schizophrenic, etc who you have to approach in a totally different way; then ones who are fine but want something from you. Drunks who don't want to go to jail, elderly who are just lonely and want someone to talk to, children who want attention, etc. Every call has the opportunity to learn something.

Dislike most? The pay?  Haha.

No, that's actually hard to pick. Probably the high-schoolesque nature of the company. Everyone is in everyone else's business and spreading rumors. We form cliques and everything. It's annoying, but seems to be a problem in most jobs. I just try to stay out of it.

Most memorable call thus far?

That's a toss up. First real call, first code I worked, first patient I couldn't save, first vehicle accident death, or first truly bad call from start to finish, nothing went right.

What's the hardest part about being an EMT? I imagine being an EMT
is really emotionally difficult. Is that true?

Hardest thing is coming to terms with the fact that you really can't save everyone. Sometimes, no matter what you do, they're gonna die. And there's nothing you can do about it. It's a hard truth to swallow.

It can be pretty emotional, just depends on the person. I've lost my temper after one call and actually lost my cool during one. Then there's the fact that hindsight is a curse. Looking back at calls and seeing everything you did wrong or should've done differently. Its a great way to learn but on some of the more serious calls it can cause a lot of internal strife.

Are there any common misconceptions about being an EMT that you
would like to clear up?

Paramedic and EMT are not the same, and neither of us are just "ambulance drivers"!

It drives me crazy when people refer to us that way. We do just as much as ER staff with fewer people, difficult conditions, at times, while flying down the highway. Yet still we get called just drivers or something like that. I think there is a lot of misinformation about exactly what we do. As far as medic/EMT differences, all the typical stuff you might think of: IV, intubation, chest decompressions, etc are the job of the medic. The EMT acts as the assistant. Think of the partnership between a dr and nurse, that's about how medic and EMT works.

Is it true that as an EMT all female patients are assumed pregnant until
proven otherwise?

All female patients within a reasonable age range are considered to be pregnant unless we have reason to think otherwise, yea. It's safer to treat them under the assumption they are then it would be to assume they're not and potentially injure the child.

Anything else you want to share? Info, stories, memories, etc.

I'm more than willing to share anything people are interested in knowing. Ask and you shall receive (to the best of my ability lol).

Health/Diet/Fitness Update

When I originally started this blog back in 2011 (wow, has it been that long?!) it was called "The Adventures of a Girl and Her Beagle" and it was about dog related and raw diet related info.

Then, I started writing about trips and adventures I was taking.

In summer 2013 I got interested in paleo and began posting recipes here. Shortly thereafter I changed the name to "Hannah's Paleo Page for Friends." I began travelling even more in the spring of 2015 and at the same time started simplifying my cooking style. So now my recipes have become more of meal ideas or cooking thoughts or meal prep plans. Just a little story on the evolution of my blog.

Anyway, here's an update on my fitness journey.

Back in December I started Amy Clover's Strong Inside Out Bootcamp. It has a workout routine and several different workouts for each month. I've been going strong on those (and getting strong, too!) over the last few months. This program ends in June. I can either renew, join Crossfit, join the Nerd Fitness Academy, or do something else. I've scheduled an intro Crossfit session at both of our local CF gyms in late May. I should know after trying them if either is a good fit for me.

Within the last few weeks, I've begun tracking my macro nutrients, which involves using an app (I use My Fitness Pal) to track my consumption. It lets you know how much of all the major nutrients you have consumed, how many calories, and how much protein vs fat vs carbs you have eaten. I never wanted to track because I am not trying  to lose weight, but I found that what I was eating just wasn't enough/properly to sustain my activity levels now that my workouts are more intense and more often. Tracking has been very eye opening (and not nearly the hassle I thought it would be) in terms of my percentages- I was getting lots of healthy fats but not nearly enough protein! So I've been working to correct that. Time will tell if I feel sufficiently nourished when I'm hitting my "goal" percentages.

Also, I've gotten an accountability partner. I ate pretty clean already, about 80-90% paleo. But I didn't keep close track of the 10-20% not healthy items and sometimes it was more than I planned on. I don't have trouble keeping my meals healthy, but sweets are my problem! And portion control of sweets. Since Travis and I became accountability buddies (more on Travis in a future post), this has been going a lot smoother. Of course we sometimes don't meet our diet/exercise goals, and that's ok, but just having someone to check in with helps me to resist extra treats. I've noticed myself leaning out too, which is cool!

I have been trying to keep my percentages to 30% protein/40% whole food carbs/30% fat. I've been limiting my "treats" to one serving per meal (max two per day, and trying to keep them gluten free) which keeps my sweet tooth satisfied but doesn't mess with my macros too much.

Meanwhile, I've been getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night on average, with even more on the weekends or when possible. Sleep and keeping my stress down are a huge help! I've been sleeping so well with the cooler temperatures at night. Record low number of times woken up during the night which is amazing!

I'm still doing meal prep about once a week or once every two weeks, which really helps. Since I've been travelling pretty much every weekend, I'll do my meal prep during the week. I've been doing simple things like baking several pounds of chicken breats, or a whole chicken, or baking several pounds of fish fillets, having salads with homemade dressings, baked veggies, frozen steamed veggies and fresh fruit. For my treats I've been doing gluten free boxed mixes, dark chocolate, or other candies.

I've added in a serving of protein powder in 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk daily for extra protein. I am eating so much protein already it's hard for me to get enough from food alone, so this is a little boost. I get about 130-150 grams of protein each day (and I weigh about 160-165 pounds). When I get some more protein powder, I'll probably icnrease that to two scoops per day which is about 50 grams protein, to get my protein intake more in the 155-175 grams range.

So that's what's up with my health and fitness!

Progress Pics. Shorts rolled up to show off my super strong thighs! They are now the widest part of my body.