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Posted by on Dec 24, 2012 in Blog |

Lessons Learned in 2012

Lessons Learned in 2012

2012 was a big year for me on every front. Here is a brief recap. I quit my steady job as a Study Abroad Advisor, Supporting students to study abroad gave me a great deal of satisfaction but it was time for a change.  I could not accomplish my larger goals in the margins of my free time. I have learned how to honor my intuition when it tells me to leave my comfort zone–even when it means stepping into the unknown. I have not spent a single second of 2012 regretting my decision to trade in stability for the vision taking shape on the foundations of all of my travels, studies, research, and work. …lived in South America for three months, I spent three months in Medellín, Colombia learning Spanish at a university and being a student of the road again. Even though I have trained hundreds of students on how to adjust to a new culture, I was reminded of the fact that this did not mean...

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Posted by on Dec 2, 2012 in Culture, Most Popular, Road Trip USA, Travel, Travel Planning |

Staying with Strangers: Hostels, CouchSurfing, AirBnB, StartUpStay, and More

Staying with Strangers: Hostels, CouchSurfing, AirBnB, StartUpStay, and More

Would you stay with a stranger instead of at a hotel? Would you host a stranger from another part of the country or world? I have many times with varying results. I’ve hosted German au pairs in Northern Ireland and camped out in Venice, Italy with two travelers from California. A friend and I stayed with an Austrian woman and shared stories about life while passing around a ram’s horn filled with Drachenblut (a specialty wine called Dragon’s Blood…and yes, there is more to that story). By coincidence, I recently stayed with ordained ministers in Pennsylvania and Nebraska discussing politics, religion, education, human rights, and volunteer work. Comfort vs. Connection I stay with strangers because sometimes I need a place to stay. I also enjoy interesting encounters and am open to nontraditional housing as a part of my travel experience. Here are just three examples of what I would have missed if I stayed in a hotel: dancing a tango in the gardens of the Art Institute of Chicago,...

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Posted by on Nov 28, 2012 in Culture, Road Trip USA, Uncategorized |

American Craft Beer Culture and Tips for Homebrewers

American Craft Beer Culture and Tips for Homebrewers

After driving more than 4,000 miles across the United States visiting craft breweries along the way, I’ve added words like sparged, wort, and flocculation to my vocabulary and picked up a few insights into American craft brew culture, trends, and tips for homebrewers (scroll down to see Tips for Homebrewers video below!). Quality  & Freshness Fermentation is often described as an art and a science, and rightly so. Brewers pay careful attention to every step of the process to achieve the desired style, flavors, color, and alcohol content. In order to maintain the integrity of a particular style of beer, Epic Brewing Company in Salt Lake City, Utah mimics the water chemistry in Germany, for example, by using a carbin filtration process. “The malt doesn’t know its not in Belgium!” says Steve Koonce of Epic and goes on to say how the brewery avoids ‘house flavor’* by removing mineral content from the water prior to fermentation. Maintaining consistency from “keg to keg, year to year” is important in the...

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Posted by on Nov 1, 2012 in Blog, Road Trip USA, Travel |

Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead)

Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead)

Heather, Marisol and I joined a Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) parade snaking its way through the streets of Petaluma, California. Up until that point, I had only a vague notion of what this holiday entailed. I learned that it is a special time for families and friends to gather on November 1 and 2 to remember loved ones who have died. The roots of the celebration go back to indigenous peoples living in the country now known as Mexico. Its modern day variations are a mix of Mexican, Catholic, and regional beliefs and practices. Today people from all over the world celebrate Day of the Dead. Often, families visit the grave sites of their loved ones and may even stay overnight. It is common to build an alter and decorate it with flowers, butterflies, favorite foods of the deceased, toys for children, sugar skulls, and religious paraphernalia such as crosses and candles. For most, the Day of the Dead is not viewed as a sad...

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