Posts Tagged With: vacation

Summer Is Almost Here…

The month of May means different things to different people. For Cambodians, it marks the Royal Ploughing Ceremony and King Sihamoni‘s birthday.  In America, we think of flowers blooming and some mysterious dance around a Maypole, which I don’t think anyone really understands.

For teachers, and students, it only means on thing.

Summer vacation is around the corner.

To herald the summer of 2015, I bring you a video that Sean made of one of our favorite Wisconsin activities: playing in the water.

Last summer we spent a few days at our friend’s cabin in Eagle, Wisconsin.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 5.48.15 PM

Eagle Spring Lake is a funky area. Kettle Moraine State Forest is next door, there’s an island with a house on it in the center of the lake, and there’s a gorgeous little channel of water that connects you to Lulu Lake, which is just beautiful. I’ve never seen so many lily pads.

If there’s one thing you’ve got to do in Wisconsin, it’s spend some time on our lakes in the summer. (Even if you’re from Minnesota. I won’t judge you.)

Watch Sean’s video below (in 1080p if you can), and just try not to get out your sunscreen and sunglasses.

Categories: America | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A True American Summer

Hello, August. The month of humidity. Of lazy summer days. Of making summer memories and planning fall plans. Ever since I was young, August has signaled a few landmark events for myself and all Wisconsinites:

 

  1. The Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee
  2. The Legendary August 15th Relocation: Madison’s whole-city moving day
  3. School supply commercials
  4. The Sturgis migration
  5. Finally turning the air-conditioning on!
  6. Numerous festivals involving brats and/or beer
  7. Fruit-pickin’ season
  8. The sausage races at Miller park
  9. Getting to the American Players Theater before it’s too late
  10. Losing frisbees in cornfields (Or is that just my family?)
  11. Fireflies, fireflies, fireflies!

 

This summer, Sean and I spent ample time in Wisconsin. We visited friends and family, and played tourists as often as we could. We seized every opportunity to create a true “American Summer”.

 

As I sit on the airplane, traveling back to Cambodia, I reflect on how rockin’ of a summer it was. Let me share it with you.

1-disc

Disc golf. Invented by a Californian in the late 70’s, it doesn’t get any better than this. You spend the afternoon walking through a manicured park, throwing frisbees into metal baskets.

 

1.2-disc

More disc golf. You can really get lost in the woods.

 

1.5-discs

Our collection of discs. My motto is, “Buy two, lose one.” Most courses have a gnarly rough, where we have lost multiple discs. This summer I made a personal record and lost two: one at the bottom of a pond and another down a ravine.

2-lakeducks

Freshwater lakes! Lots and lots of them. They say that Michigan is the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”, but Wisconsin surely has them beat. (Sorry, Viking folk.)

3-lakeboat

Lake Geneva. A Wisconsin postcard town. Sean snapped this photo as the mail boat drove by—this is how the residents of Lake Geneva receive their mail. Founded in the 1800’s as a retreat from the hustle and bustle of Chicago, affluent residents took the train up from Chicago and built decadent homes. The only way to receive mail was by boat. To this day, you can hop aboard and take part of an old tradition of delivering the mail, rain or shine.

 

4-turtle

Wisconsin’s storybook turtles. I am lucky enough to average one sighting every summer.

5-dc

The White House! A tour of America is not complete without a trip to the country’s capital. We visited Sean’s brother, Kevin, who was awesome take the day off and show us all the sites. He was a fount of knowledge and energy! (Kevin, if you’re reading this, you’re the best!)

 

6-dcsmith

Just as a trip to America is not complete without a stop in DC, one does not simply venture to DC without visiting the Smithsonian.

7-dczoo

As much as I loved the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History, we absolutely adored the Smithsonian Zoo. And, if you’re debating a trip to DC yourself, keep in mind that all Smithsonians are completely free to the public!

8-dccap

 If you’re sick of cliches, then I recommend you stop reading now, because we actually went to DC over the Fourth of July weekend. Watching the fireworks over the National Mall was unrivaled, challenged only by the mouthwatering Ethiopian food cart I found minutes before the big booms.

9-dcshake

 Nothing beats the heat like a milkshake. And milkshakes we had. If you find yourself in DC, slake your thirst from museum touring with a visit to Bullfeathers for the best shakes this side of Appalachia.

10-emilyhorse

Horseback riding! My sister shows horses, so Sean and I went to one of her competitions this summer. She completely cleaned up, and wrangled first place in all of her events.

11-mullens

Mullens ice cream. Founded in 1932, Mullens is a Watertown, Wisconsin staple. They handmade their ice cream, and you dine over formica tables and checkered wallpaper.

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 6.09.21 AM Photo compliments of http://mullensdairy.com/history_photos.html 

12-tubing

Boating. If you’ve been keeping up with Angkor’s Away, then you know Sean is the proud owner of a GoPro Hero 3+. To my chagrin, he took it on the tube this summer and snapped this awesome photo as he flew off the side into the abyss of Eagle Springs lake.

13-lake

Swimming. Our friends have a cabin on Eagle Springs lake, and initiate new visitors to the “hot springs”. Telling her it was a hot springs, we smirked from the comfort of our dry swimsuits as my sister dove the bottom of a frigid cold spring spouting out of the mud.

14-chicagoOnly a two-hour drive from my parent’s house, Chicago is a must-visit. We met up with our friend Eric Walker, whom we taught with in Kuwait.
15-chicagWe had great weather for a long walk throughout the city!

 

10513413_10203511480379816_5423679962905393463_nAn afternoon on the Memorial Union terrace. Sean wanted to catch a few of the World Cup games, so we settled in for an afternoon of sunshine and beautiful views.

 

16-merrika Amusement parks. I relived my childhood memories at Little Amerricka, a traditional amusement park. Many of their rides are from the 1950’s—including this coaster!

 

17-merrikaMini golf. Need I say more?

 

18-merrikaAnd of course, a ride on the carousel. You are never too old for a whirl on the merry-go-round!

There you have it. Our very American summer. But it wouldn’t be complete without…

10350640_10203466261449371_5228002970130524419_n…a game of cribbage, Miller High Life, a bloody mary topped with a burger and bacon, and a Sprecher root beer. I think I gained a few pounds just looking at this photo.

Categories: America | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sri Lanka: Ella, Part 1

To resume my photo exhibition of all that is beautiful in Sri Lanka, I bring you to my favorite place on the entire island, Ella. Ella is a small town in the hill country, known for it’s idyllic waterfalls, cascading cliffs, peaceful lifestyle, wildlife, and flowers. I had died and gone to heaven.

First, Sean put together an amazing video that he took on his pocket camera. He’s got a small camera that is about the size of a credit card. The quality isn’t the most amazing, but he is able to take video everywhere we go. I hope you enjoy the video as much as I do : )

To continue, let us begin the documentary on my dream village, Ella…

As the train rolls into Ella the tea plantations become more sparse as the jungle becomes wilder and the hills grow hillier.

The Buddha temple in front of the train station. I love how colorful this religion is!

After riding the rails all afternoon, Sean and I went on a hike to stretch our legs. Unfortunately, everywhere in the hill country clouds up around 3pm. Even though our views were cut short, we had fun playing in the fog!

Take note of this photograph for the moment. In the pictures below, we returned to this waterfall the next day. Instead of a wall of swirling mist, you will be pleasantly surprised!

The bed and breakfast we stayed at in Ella was called “Waterfalls Homestay”. It was run by an Australian couple that got tired of their 9-5’s back in Australia, so they moved to Sri Lanka and opened up the most dreamy B&B on the face of the earth.

We spent quite a bit of time with the other people at the B&B, along with the owners Marty and Karen. They had the most beautiful property and open-air patio imaginable. They cooked dinner and breakfast for you, run by their personal Sri Lankan chef Kalam.

Their place only has three rooms, as it is more of a homestay than a B&B. Sean is standing at the door of our room. I wish I had gotten a photo of the inside; it was just as beautiful as the exterior!

In the morning, we awoke to breakfast on the patio across from the waterfall. Monkeys were doing backflips through the trees as I sipped coffee out of a french press. (Did I mention it was $50 a night?)

The first morning of our stay, we had “hoppers” for breakfast. Hoppers are a Sri Lankan favorite, which I had for breakfast and lunch a few times, but not enough! I really loved them; you have a special skillet for them, which is a metal bowl that is held over the stove by a handle. Inside the bowl you pour a coconut-crepe-thing, swirling it around to create your outside. then you lightly fry an egg in the center. Heavenly!

We set back on the hiking trail in the morning, following the railroad tracks we took into Ella the day before.

Due to the hills and heavy rains, there is a lot of terrace farming in Sri Lanka.

Our first hike was to the top of Ella Rock, which you can see as the highest peak in this picture. It was the same hike we naively set out on in the fog the day before. We are so glad we attempted a round two!

At the top of Ella Rock. (Dad, aren’t you proud of my sun protection? 😉 )

At the top of Ella Rock, where we ran into two Canadian female teachers from the American International School in Guangzhou, China. We met up with them later in the village for a few drinks and quality educator conversation!

Can you spy where I am?

Here is the same photo as the above picture that was clouded out by mist. What a difference a clear day makes!

Swimming in the waterfall was a real treat after we hiked all the way up to the top of Ella Rock.

Monkeys were spying on us!

We found two snakes mating on our hike! It was the wildest thing; they would rapidly intertwine with one another in a frantic dance.

They were incredibly large snakes – we made sure to keep our distance!

After making it to the top of Ella Rock, we treated ourselves to a piña colada and cribbage over lunch. (Don’t worry, I’m pretty sure I won the game…)

I would like to close this post with one of my favorite things about Sri Lanka: the curry! If you order “curry”, what you get is a large plate of rice with all of the above side bowls. Starting at the very top we have a coconut sambol (the orange mix). In the lower right-hand corner is a dal (lentil) stew. The rest, I honestly have no idea. All I know is that they are the most delectable curried vegetables I have ever tasted.

Next time I will finish our trip in Ella, our tuk tuk adventure, and our mysterious journey to the ends of the earth! (Or should I say… “World’s End”…)

I hope the sun shines in your corner of the world this afternoon. Love and miss you all!

Categories: Sri Lanka | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.