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My First Month in Quarantine

13 Apr

Right now – and for more than a month – we have been sitting tight, with not much to do. The current status of this pandemic requires a forced release of control and some people are, understandably, struggling.  There is so much discomfort in not knowing what the future holds.  Although, heads-up, I do think that coming out of this is going to be much tougher than coming in; like reverse culture shock.   Looking for things to remain the same, I have a feeling that people might wind up a bit crestfallen.  We can’t anticipate all the ways that this global pandemic is going to change the way that we travel, communicate, learn, do, buy, dress, go out, teach, work, and date  Although, goodness knows, the internet is certainly giving guessing a go.

On my end, I don’t mind giving up control.  I don’t mind things changing.  My experience backpacking has been full of things not going the way I expected, flights getting canceled, entire itineraries changing, a new country being thrown into the mix, cars breaking down, hitchhiking, rain delays, and seeing the world in all of its mess and glory.  AKA, I have spent a decade developing the “go with the flow” side of my personality.  So, a sudden change in plans – especially when a month doesn’t turn out like I had expected – is already in my repertoire.

Yes, I had some travel plans get canceled (Mystery Trip 2.0, for example) but I’m doing my part to fight Covid-19, I’m staying home. Actually, on the whole I’ve been craving less travel.  And so, this past month of self-isolation and stationary lifestyle has suited me.  Recently, I wrote about how my time in the Peace Corps was eerily reminiscent of parts of my time in quarentine.  I feel very well-versed at doing nothing and being happy.

My favorite analogy between quarantine and travel that I’ve come up with so far is to draw a parallel between self-isolation and a road trip (remember those?) because the day to day decisions involved in both are so banal; Should we stop for gas now or in a little bit? Sun chips or Sweedish fish as a snack?

During quarantine, I’ve kept a calendar of events which includes gems like “Trash AND recycling day” because that’s an actual bullet point on my agenda tonight.  So, without further ado, my quarantine calendar:



Madness at Trade Joe’s


March 13th
– I had a t
ailgate with Em, pre-Costco.  With lines the size of amusement parks.  THANK GOODNESS for that extra freezer space those girls lent me.
– “The only time getting tested and finding out you have influenza A is positive.”–mom
– Hellooooooo, Collin!


March 14th
– Entertained ourselves with outdoor PAC man.
– St Patrick’s day party with “dare Jenga.”
Farewell to live comedy — for now — at the St Mary Fire hall show.


March 15th
The world is closing its borders and seemingly shutting down.
– Hotel breakfast; whipped cream and Kashi cereal; I absolutely love being a grownup.
– Party for the Health of It and the musical discovery: “Still of the Night.”

March 16th
Pittsburgh is closing all bars for 2 weeks.

Collin, literally every day: I just wanna Netflix and Chill.
The week everyone needs to stay inside: I MUST go outside, run around, and burn off all of this energy.



A fairly empty schedule, in direct contrast to how long this blog is.


March 17th
Quarantine and ch(elp)ill
West Virginia, the last state to report a case of Covid-19.
– A unique St Patrick’s day celebration with Aunt Marjean, Cousin Dwayne, and a fantastic, new, pop tab obsession.


March 18th
Happy birthday, Colleen!
– Apple bread, filming funny videos with Collin, Photosynthesis,
and a Bitcoin purchase.

After getting grapes thrown at me I retreated and, while screaming, laughing, crying yelled “there are no grapes in my pants!”

“Goodnight, baby doll.”
“Goodnight! You made me scream so many times today, it was so fun.”



That bed is heaven.


March 19th
One week since Collin arrived.
– Read an article titled “Freezers sell out as consumers stock up,” and I get it.
– From now on, when we say “sprinkler kisses”, you know what to do.
My face brushed is the best part of shower day.


March 20th – Friday
It’s hard to know what day it is.

– Finished my taxes and subscribed to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.


March 21st…


I’ve been eating well.


March 22nd
Sunday morning bliss: We watched E
x Machina and played Monopoly.

“This pasta is done perfectly. Which is crazy ’cause it was frozen and made in the microwave.” – Collin


March 23rd
“Shelter in place”, officially.
– THIS MORNING I HAD COFFEE. (and now I can’t sleep).
– Our new set up for work = looking at each other.
– (Obviously) this quarantine has been great for my blog life.
– Lunch time discovery: We need two microwaves.
– Fleabag, Season 2


March 24th
Every day’s the same:
9am Wake-up / 9:30 Out of bed / 9:45 Start work
11:45 Change / 12
Workout / 1:15 Stretch
1:30 LUNCH / Free time / 5pm Dance
9pm Make (the same) schedule for tomorrow


March 24th


“I could tell you so many Assembly of Gods.”  – Getting to know Kendyll better, and loving it 😂


March 25th
It was a no schedule day!
–  Zoom Yoga taught by mumzy.
– I like it the best when I’m lounging all-up-in Collin’s space.


BBQ frozen pizza, add broccoli and corn


March 26th
– Cardio day in the park
– Read a
Michelin Star chef article about gnocchi… and then I got gnocchi!

“This is the worst experience of my life. I’m not kidding.” – Collin making fudge, after the wax paper ripped for the second time.

Live hard, laugh hard; the Sammi Travis story.


March 27th


Comedy in my living room.


March 29th
– Egg salad for breakfast because I live with the BEST chef!


March 30th
– A concert hosted by Elton John (our first).



Family Zoom.



An evening porch hang.



March 30th
Woken-up abruptly….they were towing cars out front :/


Thanking workers at Allegheny General Hospital.


– Surprise, a quarantine present which makes me into a human toddle!
– A phone call with Rebekah, my expensive friend. I felt sparkly after.
– In my own living room, the Banff Mountain Film Festival.


Actually, I don’t have too much to complain about.



March 31st
Food shopping day!
– “This is wild, this is so fun!” – me, at our Doce Taqueria car picnic.



Ever seen McKnight Road this empty?


– A Scale bug attacked all my houseplants.  “A pandemic of a different scale,” Dad said.
– A pandepic hang with Molly 🙂  This is just, like, available to us.


April 1st
– A new April Fool’s Day tradition = Michigan roast
– Played Cards Against Humanity with Emily and Laura!  One quick note for the makers of this online game, taking all the cards (by accident) shouldn’


April 2nd
– Tennis while we still could.


April 3rd
– Those “famous nachos”.


April 4th
– A hunt for the ages!


April 5th
It’s both trash AND recycling day, a big night in our household.
– Chatted with foreign friends; Paula on the cruise ship!; Katie K.; Ira.
– Pork chops for dinner and a lemon poppy seed cake (sans poppy seeds) for dessert.


April 6th
– American Dreamer, the stressful movie thriller with Jim Gaffigan that we liked.
– Clapping in gratitude for the health care workers and a short walk to see the full, maybe pink moon.
– Beto’s reheated…but we kept the cheese cold.
– A “Hoseparty” hang and game night with my parents 🙂



If you can’t handle me at my worst than you don’t deserve me at my best


April 7th
A new low: I didn’t leave the house once today.


April 8th
Samantha Traverstein (I’m Jewish now.)
– Chag Pesach!  A sedar through Temple Sinai with homemade matzoh anointed with olive oil. The best I’ve ever eaten, even with the wax paper.
– Two Guvners, National Theater of London, a play.  [2012. James Cordon (pre talk-show).  And Christine Patterson, an underrated actor.]

Q: “What are you looking forward to tomorrow?”
A: “Waking up and being happy.”





April 9th
– A package from Sam Dorky! Pittsburgh, like I suspected, has really fast mail service.  It’s so fun to have the same exact flavored items in two different states.
– A scallop pasta dinner and then, the funnest Molly hang!  Lesson number one:  Let’s do this again.


April 10th


Spring has sprung.


In the middle of the night: Does it sound like someone’s here?
Don’t you dare kill my roommate.


April 11th
First time filling up the car with petrol since March 13th.
– Homemade, to-die-for brookies.
– Hi, Trisha and Joe!
– The Amazing chicken lunch special at the Sesame Inn by a gorgeous, flowering tree.
– A second sedar, hosted by Aaron.
– Helen’s Instagram live comedy show!
– Forbidden Island, the board game.

“Are you busy?” – Collin
“No, why, what’s up?” – me
“Could you, like, maybe google how to get gorilla glue off of your skin?’” – Collin, after fixing a wooden spoon in the kitchen


April 12th
– Tonya contacted me ❤


Googled “big bunny”, was not disappointed.



There goes the cat. – Wendy
I wanna see the cat. – Betsy
I don’t believe they have a cat – Marvin



April 13th
– Started Schitts Creek and, unrelated, we froze Little Debbie’s Swiss Rolls.


It’s only Quarantine if it’s in the Quarante province of France. Otherwise, it’s just Sparkling Isolation.



I’m not taking this Sparkling Isolation for granted.
Sparkle sparkel,

Wisdom from the Corps; How my time in quarantine is similar to the Peace Corps

5 Apr

“Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”
— John F. Kennedy.


From March 2010 – May 2012 I served in the United States Peace Corps, stationed in Jamaica for over 2 years.  Now, April 2020, 8 years later, I find myself sitting on my white couch in self-isolation, thinking back to those years and feeling totally prepared to fill each hour, which, after a decade, turns into a day, after an eternity, a week, and, after an eon, will turn into the month of April.


“Travel teaches us new ways to measure the quality of life”. – Rick Steves


I’m including links to past Peace Corps posts which I HIGHLY recommend reading because, 1. honestly, what else do you have to do, and 2. I was a way better writer back then (probably because I was reading so many books).


Here’s a time I almost. ate a bug.
Here’s one about being a single woman in Jamaica
Here’s my day to day.
A favorite called “Excess vs. Not quite enough.
This one’s a quick one: It was SO HOT where I lived that…
And finally, while there, I updated my resume


Below is an excerpt to show you just how little I actually did while in my 2012 quarantine, I mean, in the Peace Corps:

“I’ve been in Jamaica for 14 months and here’s what I have to show for it:
My community knows who I am.
I am a proud dog owner.
I can pretty much speak and understand patois.
I have re-discovered a love for reading.
I am the walrus coo-coo-ka-choo (?)”


TBH, there are some marked differences that make this 2020 quarantine much easier.

A.   I have a boyfriend living with me! (WAHOO!!! Peace Corps couples, hot dang did you guys have it good).
B.  I have running, hot water and air conditioning.
C.  This pandemic will not last 27 months. (RIGHT?!)
D.  Netflix, duh.


But, here are TEN ways my Peace Corps experience is just like my quarantine:

  1. There’s an emphasis on home cooked meals and harder to make recipes.44432_629715288489_2670673_n.jpg

    Pizza with whatever ingredients us Peace Corps volunteers could find.  (I think that’s ketchup.)


  2. The temptation to adopt an animal(s) to keep you company.

    A photo of actual dogs I adopted.


  3. Sharpening of weapon skills for either agriculture or civil unrest.39506_628166023229_5824424_n.jpg
  4.  At home workouts with whatever water bottles, cans, and bags of sand you have available.

    Dance party; party of one.


  5. Crossing boarders…in our own minds. Dreaming of where in the world we might have been or are planning to go.248509_743898249919_6754115_n.jpg
  6. Projects (like arts & crafts or home improvements).

    Andy, Angie, and is that Valina? Repurposing old tires into garden beds.


  7. Grocery shopping is an activity to get excited about!!


    Looks like she’s going to bake  “bammy” (out of cassava root) for dinner


  8. Laundry

    This laundry is “hand-washed”.  (Hand washed means something else in this climate.)


  9. Making friends as you can. In Jamaica, it was cockroaches who laughed at insecticides; you sprayed them and they got bigger.

    A parade of ants.  I mean, new friends.


  10. Taking time to intentionally go outside and notice the sunsets.24824_609341158409_5449305_n.jpg


This quarantine will end; you will look BACK on this period of time and, my instincts say, due to what memory does to your brain, you’re going to remember it fondly.


“Di ting sort out.”



On an unrelated and completely lighthearted note, I wanted to share some fun sports facts for a much needed diversion:  The New Zealand rugby team is called The All Blacks. The New Zealand basketball team is called The Tall Blacks (take a minute here). And, there’s one more — they have a badminton team — The Black Cocks.  That’s for real.  And, the very first article that comes up when you Google it is: “Black cocks hard for New Zealand to swallow”.

Doesn’t that country seem like it has a really good sense of humor??  Probably the best way to handle all of the pain in the world.  I mean, not necessarily for all of the people who are actually having a difficult time but definitely for those of us who are required to sit on the couch.


Three goals. Two years. One love.

In solidarity,

The month before

12 Mar

We’re going to pick this diary, I mean blog, up with Valentine’s Day perfection.  Rachel cooked fish and Collin and I rediscovered the BEST Blue Apron, although the highlight was a vegan mousse (made with avocado).  Dinner was followed by comedy at The Lamp, aka the coolest spot in Greensburg.


A favorite for a reason.



The girls are back in town


Later, I got lost at Arcade on my way to a special green room invite.


February 15th
Hanna’s birthday party, with left over pizza and lots of clapping.


Birthday girl and co.


February 16th
Happy birthday, dad!
Home cooked dinner in FL with, once again, the best Blue Apron.
THIS was the day that
Collin got the wifi password at my parents house. #milestone


February 17th
Happy official birthday, Hanna!
Yoga and pickle ball! We found our couples sport. A basket in the hoop! Swish.
Lunch at Wegmans with the fam 😍


Stay at home dates are the best type of dates (post-traveling, pre-quarentine)


February 18th
Happy birthday, mom!
Out to eat at Yuzu for ramen with Emily and Laura, plus, gifted a Taylor Swift t-shirt! Giggles during impressions of Smellenour.


February 20th,
And now, my working life begins (So I thought.)


February 21st
If you need me, I’ll be at work

Things I’m grateful for tonight:
This bed. Breathing through both of my nostrils.  My clean body. These clean sheets.  My favorite pajamas and my favorite sleeping socks.


February 22nd
191 days until move in Bae.
I’m sore from the gym.  Advil helped!
I finished a blog and Nate was at work 🙂



A perfectly cooked, microwaved meal.


February 23rd
Nailing the ratio: TOTALLY THE BEST


The most amazing day off, spent with Joe and Trisha


Geocaching.  One we found, one we didn’t. And I ended the night laughing until I cried.


February 24th
My most lucrative day at work in 4 years. And it was in February, go figure.


My best friends are hanging out right now ♥️ #MolAndCol #colly



February 25th
A day in court with full family support. Lunch at delicious Cafe Brugge.
A well-deserved night off. A 3 hour phone call with Bel 😍
And, the Love is Blind addiction continues.



February 26th
Final Ethiopia blog gets posted!


Things I’m grateful for:
Brian was at work!!! Thank goodness.
I’m sore from the gym.
The ability to leave work early.


February 28th


Welcome (back) to America!

With Emily, Laura, and Chris, Atria’s has the best happy hour.
I f
ollowed the amazing driver — aka, wee Emily — to Laura’s house using only right turns.  Nick Lackey started out our music playlist (I do, I do, I do) before being joined by Mariah Carey, Miley Cyrus, and Taylor Swift. I’ll never forget the Pretty Girl Rock, where sweetheart Em knew every word and every move ❤

These blueberry cookies:  “They are breakfast, lunch, and dinner.” – Laura


February 29th
Leap year!

Birthday Brittny

An outdoor h
ot tub! That cool, cellophane bathroom. And, I met their human skeleton.  (Still less than one year since Collin and I started dating.)


March 1st
I started my taxes.  (Which I love.)


March 2nd
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! (Or should I say, “Happy Cookie-versry!”)


“This is without a doubt the best cookie I have ever had” – Collin Chamberlin


March 4th
Rebekah, life coach “to do anything amazing in life you need a butt load of energy!”


March 6th
Friday. It’s been too long, I need to see Collin.
Also, what’s going to happen with this virus?!


March 7th
A ten hour drive to New York City. Almost immediately, I got to laugh
until I cried.


March 8th
Bagels for breakfast and then a Locke and Key binge. We watched all of season 1 that weekend.  Plus, house hunting in Sunnyside!  Followed by delicious tacos at a restaurant and a
lmond-milk ice cream at the Stud-flat.


March 9th
The sweetest morning snuggles.  I threw myself off of the bed for a sneeze.  We visited Roosevelt Island where I d
idn’t share any hugs with Katie instead, we took headshots by the lighthouse and went geocaching for a multi-cache…but were 38 miles off (read: unsuccessful).


Physically separating, incar-light.


March 10th
Back to the ‘burgh.
Colleen was the first to register for the furries! 🙂


March 12th
Allegheny City Brewery.  Was this to be my last hang with Emily and Laura for a while??


March 13th
Happy 39th wedding anniversary, m & d!
A HUGE grocery store shopping trip and…
The day Collin had his exodus from New York City.


Sparkle sparkle,


Birthday Boy in the City

2 Feb

It was the best homecoming.  When I left Pittsburgh, I apologized to my room for leaving.  And when I came back?  I gave her a HUGE hello.  But first…I landed at our adorable Pittsburgh airport (voted 2017 Airport of the year #neverforget).



Getting ready in the airport bathroom. Classic.


And drove STRAIGHT to the Pittsburgh Improv where my boyfriend, Collin Chamberlin, met me at our favorite spot (in a parking lot).  What a feeling it was to hug him after over a month of being apart!



BONUS: I watched him perform!


Jeremiah, Kendyll, Mike, (and a surprised Jan and Jill) were all there.  At midnight, the staff sang “Happy Birthday” because, drumroll please…
duh duh duh duh duh (this is how I imagine a “drum roll” in writing sounds).  It was officially Collin’s birthday! 

After cake, we headed to the Dreamflat — Nate left it so nice ❤

February 2nd
COLLIN’S BIRTHDAY; aka my first Collin’s birthday.
In the morning, the handsome birthday boy got to open his cryptic present filled with lots of cards from friends from around the world! And a homemade geocaching (inspired) puzzle to solve.


11/11/2017 – Answer: A signed, Bruce Springsteen vinyl (single).



The family party!


(where Colleen gave me a phone pep talk <3)

At night, Brian and Andrew hosted an EPIC Super Bowl party!!!


with all the best food and all the best company.


Highlights included:
– Watching Pearl (try to) go under the TV to get her toy…and watching her come back out.
– Brian, hoisting me up and running around the room. What strength!
– “Ask your parents if they are watching the Super Bowl.” – Andrew
 “Yeah. I hate this halftime show.” – Dad
Katie Sowers 🙂 female coach, Kansas

Lowlights included:
– My car broke down and we had to leave it at Andrew and Brian’s house. Thank goodness for them letting me (always) store mouse at their house.


36 hours after arriving home, Collin and I flew Jet Blue to New York City – thank you, Bri! –  chilled in the lounge, heard our names over the intercom (just how I like it), and had a layover in our favorite Boston.


New York City.  What follows is, essentially, my diary.

February 3rd
For the first time in 6 weeks I had an evening to myself.  I was productive af; got my inbox down to 15 and posted the final Guatebloga post (to be fair, that’s cashing in on Helen’s productivity).  Here’s a quote that I enjoyed: ”We love the cooperative game we call traveling abroad together.”  — Helen




Daliah listening to Ray’s instructions on how to cook Italian.


February 4th (and some other dates)
New York City bagels.  Again, productive.  
A cleared inbox!  Horrible therapy online. Geocaching in Astoria! During snuggles, *his* phone fell on my face.  I met the incomparable Katie Barbaro for a yummy Thai dinner.  And there was late night peanut butter off of a spoon.



Sam we am.



A bad comedy show that included a child.   Backlava with Barbaro.  There was also a morning walk that was canceled by the rain but we salvaged with bagels from Nate. The birthday boy told me that he is 0 to 60 and I’m 60 to zero.  The team upgraded to ‘premium’ Geocaching, I’m committed.  A nice hang with Steve at Gossip coffee (tea).  Luce, the movie, on Netflix. 

Katie Barbaro is on her way here! Joy storm is brewing!


February 8th
We spent the day in bed.   And the evening was filled with comedy!



A great show at The Beauty Bar.



Cousin Wendy and (not pictured) Paul  🙂


February 9th (or, maybe I’m getting the date wrong)
A long walk. 



Breakfast at The Thirsty Koala


Lunch with Wendy at Sweet Greens (thank you again!).  We did search for, but couldn’t find, a geocache.


From my notebook:
“Tonight was delicious!  New York City pizza! Followed by Insomnia cookies and a hang with THE Steve!”



Looking all famous or whatevahh


February 10th
A freezing cold walk.  A geocache retrieved!  



After going back a second time, we found it.





Double date bowling with pitchers of beer.



February 11th (I think)
Collin woke up with his arm through a hole in the blanket. “We’re homeless.”

A visit to Katie’s apartment! And a walk to look at possible condo’s I might buy.  The Brazil nut, date combo became my new favorite dessert.


February 12th (I am now certain that the order of this blog is off.)
A meeting with Phillip! 
And then cake pops, because, reminder, this blog is called “Birthday Boy”.



Katie’s first geocache!

Central park at night.



Reenacting our first, CRUCIAL hang at Whole Foods


At Whole Foods, it was the time of my life.  Here is my recap: Katie and I chose really good, healthy, inexpensive snacks and took.our.time.  (Including blood oranges, the hot food bar, sweet, sweet dates, Brazil nuts, and “geocaching” for pecans within the mixed nuts.)

I’m going to throw this out, directly.” – me
“Wait!!” – Katie
“Why?” – also Katie
“It’s a hazelnut.” – Sammi, the relentless food editor.
“That is a small almond!” – Katie, our hero.


At the cafe, a blood orange fell onto the table, not to be eaten.  Katie, put it in the trash pile but, alas, how quickly we forget.  I watched Katie find that piece of blood orange while saying “look what I found” with her eyes and simultaneously putting it into her mouth.  Before I could say anything, I watched Katie – still making eye contact – turn from pleased to disgusted, realizing what she had done.  She spit out the blood orange and the two of us laughed until we cried  ❤️
“I have ecoli,” said Katie.  “I can taste three diseases in my mouth right now”, she continued.
We both felt high. “This is how one feels if Sammi likes you”, Katie explained. 

On the walk to the train, Katie produced pocket chocolate that we both got to eat.


February 13th
Early airport run + a hang at one of our favorite lounges  😍 


Kings are born in February.
Happy birthday, Goose, I love you.



Sorry, ladies. He’s mine.

Best Friendship

1 Feb

I had a brief layover in Seattle AND I’M SO GLAD I DID! (what uncertain times we live in now). Not only was I thrilled to be onto the mainland (and off of all islands for awhile) but the best reason is (and always will be)… FRIENDSHIP!!!  HELEN AND PATRICK LIVE IN SEATTLE 🙂


The bomb dot com


Bel picked me up in a big white truck and impressed the heck out of me with her ability to park it in a compact spot.  (Later, Patrick ALSO impressed me with that same skill. Conclusion: My best friends in Seattle are really good at parking big vehicles into small spaces.)  

I slept so well (in an actual bed!) and had a real bathroom to use; (Thank you!) an incredible space, generosity, and forever best friendship!  On this trip, the only downside was that it was SUCH a bummer that I missed Victoria ❤  


Kitty kisses.


The very next day I visited Bella at her temp job which, ironically, was difficult to find.



A place of work or, my next obsession?


Helen, it must be said, got me into Geocaching.  She took me to find my first (and second and third) cache.  Good job, and I mean that literally.  🙂

We met up with Patrick and I got to enjoy Helen enjoying some drinks (that dry period is over!)  “What do you guys wanna do?”
“I think we should go Geocaching”. -Sammi
Question:  How do you go from one restaurant to another with adventure in between?
Answer:   Same way you turn 120 feet into a mile. Geocaching!





We laughed, longed for Barrel Thief burrata, listed all the provinces and territories in Canada (“Newfoundland and Labrador?  Oh, that’s the ‘and Herzegovina’ of Canada” – Helen) and ate some really incredible Thai food.

The next day I visited Bel’s private, residential gym, showered, and had some quality best friend time on the Instagram famous rooftop coupled with a fire pit and some wine 🙂



It’s even better than it looks.



For dinner, Patrick joined us and took us to a DELICIOUS Jamaican restaurant with festival, Ting, ackee, callaloo, and no salt fish.

After, Bella did my hair (THANK YOU!) while Patrick helped me brainstorm and create the puzzle that is: “Walter you doing for Collin’s birthday?” (THANK YOU!).  All the while, “Reputation” played in the background.

The next day, Helen and I both devoured and renamed a yummy kale-sadilla. And, I got to see Patrick’s great new apartment!!  We had lounge access and a fun, fast-paced, secret trip-planning session — which now we know was all for naught.  

Before, drumroll please….



One of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen.


…Cozying up to watch the new TAYLOR SWIFT NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY!

As we designed our perfect space, Patrick and I walked to get some cookies for the team, despite the rain.  Chip had 12 kinds of cookies…and we wanted one of each, please.  Plus ice cream.  


IMG_2058 2.jpg

Dessert distribution.

Despite wanting more time to sleepover at Patricks, hug VB, eat Helen’s breakfast (she was going to cook), meet Ashely, watch comedy, and a longing for that upstairs remote to work on that downstairs television, this Seattle trip was darn near perfect.  Obviously.


When P-Mart dropped us off, Bel and I stayed up as late as possible, with best friend chatter, not wanting to miss out on a moment of soaking each other up.  I was VERY grateful for the early morning (does it count as morning if it’s still dark outside?) ride to the airport.

And then, I slept for a full 3 hours on the tray table.

Zero wake-ups,

Aloha, Hawaii

28 Jan

A very clear sign indicating that we have, indeed, landed at the airport we meant to.



There are 8 main islands in Hawaii.  


We were on Oahu, the most populated Hawaiian island aka WE WERE BACK IN AMERICA!!!!!!  Rachel and I had traveled back in time, repeated January 26th (because time is just a construct) and were more bedraggled than ever.  
We flew on Jet Star (which is not as nice as Jet Blue).  Once in Hawaii, our initial car rental fell through.  So, at 7am we walked to another rental spot, waited an hour (where I talked to Molly who was JAZZED; should I become a landlord in New York?!), picked up our rental car (with an adorable Hawaiian license plate), and promptly slept in the airport parking garage for 3 full hours. We were WIPED.

Rae and I woke up feeling slightly refreshed and, using miles instead of kilometers, drove on the right side (right side, right side) of the road to see important WWII history.



Part of the Pearl Harbor war memorial.


After a fish dinner at Zipped, the Hawaiian Eat ‘n Park, and shaved ice that was just okay, we slept – in the car, in a safe neighborhood – for 10 straight hours.


January 27th



Rise and shine!


Breakfast and lunch were from the grocery store and included gummy bears rolled around in dried plums.  Later, we tried poi (food) and didn’t love it. 



Describes how we felt about most things in Hawaii.



 A beach from above.



Eye candy all DAY


The whole island is small (and we were used to driving), so Rachel and I decided to see everything.

The temperature here made us think of Goldilock’s porridge:
New Zealand, south island:    Too cold
Australia:                                    Too hot
Hawaii:                                        Just right




“Well this is nice, driving around Hawaii with sand on our feet, listening to Jack Johnson.” – Rae

Side note: Turns out, I love upbeat, Hawaiian music.  (“Is that a ukulele?!”)



Location of a world class surfing competition.


Banzai pipeline, preliminary competition.  At noon (on a Monday) we witnessed some “Epic conditions for finals day.”  It was really cool!  There were HUGE waves that were mega intimidating and talented, strong surfers, each with their own special ritual before they went into the water i.e. praying on the sand, kissing the water, ect.  There was even a  professional surfer (who I had to google) named Billy Kemper. 

“Should we add surf competitions to things we don’t understand?” – I whispered to Rachel. 




Leaving no nook, cranny, or road undiscovered.



Dole plantation.  Featuring, delicious pineapple ice cream.


As we wrapped up our tour across the entire island, Rachel and I used a McDonald’s bathroom for all it was worth before spending the night, sleeping in our car, in a new neighborhood.  We found our DREAM spot to park/sleep but, two hours later, another car pulled up behind us with a VERY loud engine that they would’t turn off.  “Go away!” Rachel frantically whispers, “You’re blowing up our spot!”  After 30 minutes, with still no signs of them leaving, we found another (almost perfect) spot.  Unrelated to that car (but very related to sleeping in one), I’m fairly certain that I will never again take for granted getting up to pee in the middle of the night AND THERE BEING A TOILET (vs. holding it all night/exploding due to being in a LITERAL neighborhood with no bush for cover).  That night, I slept with some pee in my pants.


January 28th

We drove to the airport before the sun rose and we lived that lounge life.   Rachel left. (Tears emoji!) We had been counting the days until this trip was over and yet, I still felt a huge pit in my stomach when we separated.  She and I started texting almost immediatly.  

My flight was boarding in one hour.  I was that much closer to “cashing in on one months worth of snuggles.” Collin was so patient while I was off, tramping the world.  

During the 5.5 hours to Seattle (here I come!!!) I reflected on this past excursion.  I knew that I would never again take a journey for this long, away from home. [Even though, yes, I’ve been on (way) longer trips before.]  — that chapter of my life was coming to a close.  I felt SO grateful for my experiences AND for the acute awareness of its finality.

In a lighter vein, I did the math; I had deleted over 8,000 photos on my phone…making the grand total of pictures I had less than 10,000, a number I felt proud of (and, of course, has since risen).


“Travel is glamorous only in retrospect”      – Paul Theroux



To the mainland I go…



In retrospect,

New South Wales, tales

26 Jan



January 22nd

We woke up NEEDING Vietnamese food.  We walked to this:



We over ordered.


Full, we headed to the Sydney Aquarium.



Here, we finally saw some penguins.



And, a dugong!



There are only TWO dugongs in captivity in the whole world.  This one, a male, eats lettuce all day every day (’cause sea grass grows too slowly) and he receives bean sprouts as a reward. It was extra fun to watch him eat because, earlier, we had received bean sprouts with our Vietnamese food (see above).

After the aquarium, Rachel and I kept walking.  We tried to visit an Instagram cafe, but it was closing; Rae bench bartended, we popped by the casino, and then?! Met Rusty for dinner.  It was luxuries to hangout with him!  SO wonderful to catch up! AND SO MUCH FUN 🙂



Everyone say: Juan Pablo Montoya 


January 23rd
100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Raman for lunch, Jojo the Rabbit at an adorable movie theatre; I closed my West Pac bank account, it was the end of a era era era. Matt, darling Matt, picked us up and gave us a tour of his gorgeous new home.

“Say knife” – Rachel
“Knoife” — Matt


Forever friends.


There was a warehouse brewery tour, koozies from The Grifter, talk about sports, a night train to Newcastle, bench bartending on the train platform, and the hottest train ever…with not enough water.



Pour me another one, please.


When we arrived, Kelsey and Travis had a bed set up for us ❤  Never mind that it deflated a few hours later and we had to move to couch because the next night, Travis let us sleep in his air con.  Thank you, Travis!


New Castle
{Did you know that New Castle, Australia is also referred to as “The steel city”?}

January 24th

Australian Aldi (Al-dee), a chat with Collin — Kate, in Rochester, made our day better with an upgrade, a walk for Rae and I down Darby street, a complicated cold coffee that did me good, and our first introduction to LOLA, the french Bulldog.



G’day Lola!


For lunch we ate gnocchi (emphasis on the g) at the Cranker (thanks Kelsey!), followed by Bloody Mary’s, and the Beach Burrito Company for dinner. Unrelated, you wouldn’t believe how big the bats are here — they look like crows.  At dinner, there was an offer to burn incense and we couldn’t help but notice that there was an appreciation for our accents outside of major cities; “Lets trade accents when you get back from the bathroom!” – Ellie



Cheers ❤


Above: A brewery on the water hang. 

Below: The brand new/free subway with exactly 5 stops

Not pictured: Watching Hughy warm up for karaoke and a good night’s sleep with air con.



Riding the subway to no where.


January 25th
Brekkie with charcoal activated DELICIOUSNESS.


A morning beverage that was so tasty I don’t ever want to forget it.


Goodbyes to Travis, emphasis on “THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING!!” 🙂

A (better) train ride back to Sydney with an airport hang…that included Matt and Priority Pass 🙂


IMG_1828 2.jpg

Hanging out anywhere that will have us.



TRIPLE J HOTTEST 100: Sitting on a Melbourne bench, with all of our earthly possessions, eating, listening to the top 10, loving on most of them, hating on number 5, and jamming out to number one; Bad Guy, by Billie Eilish. 



Possoms in the park; a possy.


That night, we slept in an expensive hostel where weren’t allowed to use the stairs, and had the worst nights sleep.

January 26th

Australia Day
Invasion Day
Send Scott an email Day (!)

We skipped the Australian Open, visited a lovely market, and headed to the airport…where we put on all of our clothes and were hot (in temperature) hunchbacks. ‘Nothing suspicious going on here, customs officer’, we were just wearing all of our clothes to avoid extra airport fees.

In Melbourne, we LIVED THAT LOUNGE LIFE!  One of the best airport lounges either of us had ever been to; including +216 worth of bonus bucks to spend (which we DID!)




And, yes, after that, we were on the plane back to America (thank god).

In road dogs we trust,