Monthly Archives: August 2011

Bienvenidos a Mexico

Our Great Adventure has begun! It started with our good friend Amanda taking us to the Fort Lauderdale airport at 8 this morning.  Thank you for Dunkin Donuts and all your help Amanda and Dave!! Our Jetblue flight to Cancun, Mexico went off without a hitch, and after clearing customs we only waited about 30 minutes to catch an ADO bus to Playa del Carmen. After the easy 45 minute ride, Rachel quickly bought us lunch, and we took a short cab to another ADO terminal to get on our bus ride to Chetumal. We ran like a bat-out-of-hell in order to be the last people boarding! Four hours and thirty minutes later, we were in Chetumal flagging down a taxi for another short ride to our hotel Villa Fontana. Chetumal is a medium-sized border town with a lively main street full of shops blasting music. For dinner we walked down to the Bahia Chetumal boardwalk in search of local food. The mission was a success! We found an “exquisite taco” cart and wolfed down 3 tacos each. The woman at the stand was making fresh (spicy!!!) salsa and guacamole so we knew we’d made a good choice. So here we are with our bellies full of street tacos, Modelo Especial, and peanuts. Tomorrow morning we’ll be crossing the Mexico/Belize border and then taking a water taxi to Ambergris Caye (pronounced “key”).

Both of us were nervous this morning. They weren’t nerves of doubt, sadness, regret, or even happiness. They were just nerves of the unknown. But after arriving in Playa del Carmen all of that subsided. Both of us are extremely happy to be finally living out our dream. This first day was actually fairly easy even though it seems like there was a lot to it. We keep reading from various blogs and books that the first day and night is the most difficult. Not because of traveling and leaving friends and family, but because of the huge lead up to the trip and expectation that one might create in his or her own mind. Lucky neither one of us feels like this. Now we can rest our heads next to each other tonight with a smile on our face.

Note to future travelers: ALWAYS have water or something to drink with you. Don’t ever think that you will have time at the next stop to buy some because Murphy’s Law says you won’t! If you are scheduling more than one travel arrangement in a day, always take the later schedule. This gives you more time to check out where ever you are, grab something to eat, and gives you plenty of time to make your next schedule.

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Filed under Food, Lodging, Transportation

One Year. One Pack.

We’re almost there! Last night we had our final going away party with our South Florida friends and had a blast. It was great to have everyone together, especially since we don’t get to see some of them that often.

Tomorrow we’ll be heading down to Davie to stay with our friends Amanda & Dave who will be taking us to the airport Tuesday morning. Today we organized everything for the packs, Nick fit everything in his, and I will be packing mine tomorrow. Hopefully it all fits! It doesn’t seem like a lot for a year, but it feels & looks like a lot to fit in my pack. I have already whittled it down to what I feel like are the essentials so I’m really hoping it will fit and still be comfortable to carry. I have chronic back pain so I’m trying to be conscious about how I pack and distribute the weight to avoid causing pain. I realize this sounds like an oxymoron, but these packs are expertly designed and have all the bells and whistles to distribute the weight evenly and cause as little pain as possible. In all likelihood, I will have back pain throughout the year so I’m bringing some homeopathic remedies I purchased from my chiropractor and hoping for the best. So here you have it:

Rachel’s Pack- Osprey Ariel 65L

Passport
International Certificate of Vaccination
Towel
Inflatable travel pillow
1 luggage lock
Money belt
Ball point pen
Sharpie marker
1 pack AA & 1 pack AAA batteries
pack of votive candles
1 bandana
1 pack of hair ties
1 pack hair clips
2 headbands
homemade first aid kit
1 pack of safety pins
small sewing kit
pair of motion sickness bands
2 toothbrushes
hairbrush
plastic comb
thermometer
travel size baby powder
2.5 oz face moisturizer
travel size Downy wrinkle release
travel size Febreze
3 oz  shave gel
mosquito repellent
foot file
pack of q-tips
2 packs of tissue
2 bars of soap
8 oz shampoo
5 oz conditioner
8 oz lotion
4 oz can of dry shampoo
2 sticks of deodorant
2 oz body spray
2 oz bottle of aloe vera gel
contact lens eye drops
ear drying solution for diving
chapstick
1 bottle of contact solution
1 contact lens case
2 oz hand sanitzer
floss
1 razor with 6 refills
2 pairs eyeglasses
24 caplets of Pepto bismol
20 caplets of Excedrin
head lamp
master lock
pack of hand wipes
sports watch
3 oz concentrated laundry detergent
small mirror
bag for groceries/shopping
journal
headphones
Kindle & charger
iPod
8 boxes of contact lens
flask
water bottle
sleeping bag
sleep sack
rain jacket
rain pants
sarong
2 scarves
2 packing cubes
beanie
1 pair hiking boots
1 pair walking shoes
1 pair flip flops
2 pairs socks
4 pairs underwear
2 sports bras
2 bras
2 shorts for sleeping
2 bathing suits
2 short sleeve blouses
2 cotton t-shirts
2 camisoles
1 long sleeve t shirt
1 long sleeve button down shirt
1 cotton skirt
1 pair of shorts
2 pairs of pants
1 sleeveless blouse
1 fleece jacket
1 pair of swim shorts
1 Airporter (bag for checking the backpacks)
4 textbooks
1 small pack towel
1 small flashlight
1 bottle of multi vitamins
1 bottle of Echinacea
2 USB sticks
6 ziploc bags
1 pair of sunglasses

Nick’s Pack – Osprey Aether 70L 

1 Airporter (bag for checking the backpacks)
rain jacket
collapsable safari hat
hiking shoes
beanie
belt
hat
sleeping bag
2 pairs of board shorts
2 bandanas
2 shorts
1 quick drying pants that zip off into shorts
1 polo shirt
2 t-shirts
1 basketball style jersey shirt
3 boxers
1 pair of quick drying boxers
3 pairs of socks
1 poncho
1 pair of sandals
small digital camera with charger
DLSR Canon Rebel T3 camera with charger
iPod
headphones
iPod small portable speaker
Kindle & charger
universal power converter
passport with 14 extra passport photos
vaccination card
1 sharpie
1 pen
journal
MacBook laptop
deck of cards
bottle openner
water bottle
bandaids
Q tips
1 USB stick
1 bottle of condensed shampoo
2 small bottles of shampoo
1 bottle of lotion
6 large ziplock bags
2 koozies
extra shoe laces
1 tupperware used to fit homemade first aid kit
Costa Del Mar sunglasses
flask
quick dry towel
1 compact cooking set
frisbee
1 bottle of concentrated laundry detergent
1 bottle of shaving cream
razor
2 bottles of sunscreen
1 tube of toothpaste
toothbrush
electric hair trimmer
1 bottle of mosquito repellant
2 bottles of multi vitamins
1 bottle of Dramamine
1 bottle of Advil
4 small packs of tissues
some antiseptic wipes
tweezers
nail clipper
2 small sewing kit
1 tube of anti itch cream
4 chapsticks
1 small plastic mirror
1 tube of Neosporin
1 pack of Imodium
headlamp
1 small scissor
1 swiss army knife
1 pack of 4 single use super glue tubes
2 pairs of ear plugs
3 travel guide books
unlocked iphone
wallet with 2 credit cards, debit card, ID, dive license, misc reward cards, Hostel International Card, $500 cash

In Addition To Nick’s Pack
1 surfboard

We’re either going to sell Nick’s board or leave it behind by the time we leave South America.

Next post will be from either Mexico or Belize!

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Filed under Gear, Packing

Last Minute Details During Our Last Few Days

Here are some of the practical things we have been up to:

We both have finished our vaccinations: Hep A and B, Typhoid, Meningitis, Tdap, Yellow Fever, and Nick needed a Polio booster since Rachel is current. We learned that Cholera vaccinations are not offered in the USA and are not recommended for US travelers. Our malaria pills will be picked up Monday.

Nick had his cellphone service shut off since it is not worth the money to pay for the service. Our plan is to unlock Nick’s iphone and then get SIM cards in each country. This will give us an inexpensive way to be reached in case of emergency.

A volunteer organization called ASVO Costa Rica (  http://www.asvocr.org ) has accepted us to take part in their sea turtle project in Buena Vista, located on the Caribbean coast. We will start around September 10th for about 2 weeks.

All of our gear and supplies have been purchased, and we’ll post our packing list before we leave. You’ll be shocked how little we are taking for a year long trip!

We purchased our bus tickets from Cancun to Chetumal where we will stay the night. The next day we will cross the mexican boarder into Belize!

We downloaded these books to our Kindles:

Nick’s Reading List      

1.  At Home

2.  The Rational Optimist

3.  Open: An Autobiography

4.  The Rules of Management

Rachel’s Reading List

1. Prep

2. Sarah’s Key

3.  Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

4.  Water for Elephants

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Filed under Gear, Packing, Preparation

The Hardest Part….by nick

Saying goodbye becomes much harder to do the older you get. Some say goodbye to their old life when they get married, and parents say goodbye to their children on their wedding day. Some day goodbye with smiles full of happiness to their friends when they leave on vacation. And some say goodbye with their tears to loved ones when they pass. Today, we said our final goodbye in person to our family.

It has been difficult saying goodbye to our families, pets, and friends. One might think that going away for year isn’t that long to be sad about, however, we both have wonderful friends and family that are difficult to leave. My parents are the most wonderful parents anyone can ask for. They have been supportive of everything, from going away to college, to not knowing what in the world I would do with my life, to becoming a pilot, moving to Hawaii then Thailand, and then coming home. And now they are more than excited for our travel plans.

Yesterday we had dinner with my grandmother. She is in her 90s and I’m scared it is the last time I will see her. One part of me says she is a tough cookie and will live well into her 100s. She still walks around, is active, and has no medical issues. But the other side of me doesn’t truly know and is upset. So I will admit that I did cry walking away after saying goodbye. Thank God Rachel was there to comfort me.

Tonight, we grilled out with Rachel’s father. We ate some good food, drank some wine, and had a great time. But as we left, tears fell from her eyes. She is sad to leave her family and loved ones. To her family…I promise I will keep her safe.

We also miss our animals very much. I can nnot express how much we miss them, how sad we are to not have them with us, and how much we pray that they don’t forget us. If we could each carry each ones of them around with us on our trip in a baby bjorn, we would do it no question! But we all know this is not possible. Needless to say, we have a sad moment at a random time each day where we thinking about our pets, our family and our friends where a tear may form in the corner of our eye because we miss them, because we hope we will be missed, and because we know we are smothered in love from every one of them in our lives. Then we look at one another and realize how much we love each other and know that from now on our Great Adventure, all we have is each other. Then we smile.

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Filed under Moving, Musings

Nick & Rachel’s Southern Farewell Tour

We just returned from an awesome road trip visiting with family and friends, though it was really tough dropping our animals off at their temporary homes for the next year. We covered 2200 miles starting August 9th going from Boca Raton, FL to Myrtle Beach, SC and then to Charleston, SC, then up to Blowing Rock, NC and over to Lake Toxaway, NC and finishing up in Tampa, FL. We put sum miles on dem tires!

We arrived in Myrtle Beach at about 2 am on Wednesday because we got locked out of the Boca house while loading the car Tuesday morning. What a great way to start a road trip! The purpose of  our visit to Myrtle Beach was to drop off our two cats, Kahlua and Sundance, at the Cats Meow a long term boarding facility. That was the worst day I have ever seen Rachel. For those of you who don’t know, the cats are like our kids, so saying goodbye was extremely difficult.

Stop number two was beautiful historic Charleston, SC where Rachel went to college. Boy, was she happy to be back! Her old roommate Heather and her boyfriend Mike were kind enough to let us stay at their house, where they hosted a bbq for us, took us out on the town, and to the beach. Thanks Heather and Mike! I hope we can return the favor someday. We also got to have dinner with the family Rachel babysat for in college, who run an amazing crepe company you have to check out if you’re ever in Charleston!

After Charleston we drove to Blowing Rock, NC to Rachel’s parents’ vacation home to spend time with her family. While everyone in Florida was cooking in 90 plus degree humidity drenched heat, we were playing golf, enjoying great food and drinks, and hiking the Blue Ridge mountains in 65 degrees (and maybe a little rain). It was a great relaxing weekend! But at the end of it, Rachel had to say goodbye to her mother and sister. Tears were shed. It was the second time I had to see Rachel cry. It made me a little teary eyed.

After Blowing Rock it was time to go see my family in Lake Toxaway, NC. Lake Toxaway is like summer camp for retired people in the mountains. They play golf every day, take boats out on the lake, throw social mixers and “Margaritaville” parties, etc. I was able to play golf on the private course while Rachel had a girls day with my mom. Then my dad came up from work in Florida for a long weekend to throw a party at the house with the grill fired up. By this time in our trip, we were well set in a routine of eating, eating, and eating! We also left Indy with my parents in Toxaway, and we feel really good about her being there. She has 2 other rascals to run around with, great weather, plenty of land, and lots to look at and smell so we’re certain she’ll be happy though we’re going to miss her very much.

Last but not least, it was time to make the 11 hour drive from NC to Tampa to visit with the rest of Rachel’s family, since most of my family and friends are in South Florida. We spent a few days with her family and had a nice little get-together to say goodbye to all her aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmothers, and great aunt and uncle. It is comforting to know that we have friends and family who care very much about us and will be thinking about us while we’re away. During the road trip we were shown so much love and support, and we feel so lucky. So now we’re home for a week to start packing and run last minute errands. The countdown begins!

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Our Alaskan Adventure

Between leaving our jobs and heading for Mexico on August 30th, we have a little domestic traveling to do. The first stop was an Alaskan cruise with Nick’s family. We barely survived a brutal move from our house to a storage unit the night before we left but luckily everything managed to fit into an 8×10 unit.

Nick had fly to Maui and back last minute which made our move a little tricky. We were planning to move on Wednesday but moved on Thursday instead. Next obstacle: the storage unit screwed up our rental truck reservation and we ended up ready to go at 11am with no truck until almost 4pm. This meant moving late into the night (1am) and waking up at 6 to catch our flight to Seattle. From Seattle we drove a rental car to Vancouver where we spent the night and the next morning headed for the cruise ship to set sail from Vancouver on Holland America Line.

It was an awesome week, and worth the struggle the get there! We caught up on lots of sleep, enjoyed the breathtaking mountain landscapes, and most of all, the 60 degree humidity-free weather. It was so nice to get away with Nick’s family for some quality time before taking off. Both of us have always wanted to go to Alaska, so starting off our year away on a cruise was perfect. We took a helicopter to a glacier in Juneau, went dry dog sledding in Skagway, and hiking in Ketchikan. We also spent a day cruising through the Inside Passage and Glacier Bay. My favorite excursion was the hike but unfortunately we have no photos because it was raining that day and we were scared we’d get the camera wet. It was a hike through an “old growth forest”, and we were fully covered by a canopy of Cedars, Hemlock, Evergreens, and a blanket of bright green lichen. Every now and then we’d come across a “muskeg” which is arctic peat bog. Basically, deep mud that we had to work our way around so we didn’t lose our boots in the mud. It made the hike interesting having to hop around, grabbing the trees and trying to step on roots and rocks. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen and I highly recommend it if you find yourself in Ketchikan, Alaska someday. Just trust me when I say the Alaskan rain forest is stunning and getting to see black bears and bald eagles on the hike was icing on the cake!



Tomorrow morning we’re off to Myrtle Beach to drop the cats at the Cat’s Meow for long term boarding, then to visit friends in Charleston for a few days, on to Blowing Rock, NC to spend time with my family, then to Lake Toxaway, NC to spend time with Nick’s and drop off Indy, then we’ll hit up the REI store in Asheville to finish buying our gear (Nick’s really excited about the backpacks) and finally down to Tampa for a couple days before returning to South Florida a week before we leave for Mexico. Stay tuned!

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