As of 8/13 I have visited 35 states. I had an amazing vacation in Alaska with my family last week. We visited Denali National Park and it was really beautiful. (Doesn’t that map look great with the giant state of Alaska colored in? I’m so proud.) We saw as much of the park as we could in five days, but I have already decided that I want to go back. Maybe next September. What better place to go during the dog days of summer (especially when you don’t have an air conditioner at home) but a place where the temperature peaks in the low 60’s, if you’re lucky. It was spectacular! My jackets haven’t gotten that much use in six months! As with so many other experiences I’ve had lately, I intend to write a much longer post about my Alaska vacation. I have a feeling that won’t happen anytime soon, though, based on the fact that I still haven’t finished writing about my trip to Hawaii in June. I am a terrible blogger! But I got sick on Wednesday when I flew back from Fairbanks so I’ll be spending a relaxing weekend at home (probably going through a whole box of Kleenex thanks to this miserable head cold) letting my body heal. Maybe I’ll actually get some writing done. Or not. But I digress. Barring a miracle, I probably won’t have a chance to visit any more new states in 2015. Adding two to my list this year isn’t bad, though! I’m happy with that. In the event that I get to go to DC for work sometime next year I have some preliminary plans for side trips. And I’ve also started dreaming up locations for next summer’s family vacation. It’s still going to take me a while for me to get to all 50 states, but now I only have 15 to go!
I’m back in Los Angeles today after my business trip, but I spent yesterday working on one of my New Year’s resolutions. I visited state #34 – New Jersey! (Based on NJ’s relative size, the above map is almost identical to the one I shared last year with only 33 states colored in, but there’s a subtle difference. And that’s what matters.) While there’s no way I’ll be able to visit as many new states as I did last year, I’m very happy to start making progress on new travel destinations in 2015. Even if they aren’t any more exciting than New Jersey. Ideally I would have checked this state off my list last year when I took a day trip to Delaware on the tail end of a business trip, but for some reason I didn’t drive the few extra miles to do so. Due to my laziness a special trip was required visit the Garden State. So I tacked an extra day on to the end of my latest pilgrimage to the DC office and took a road trip to New Jersey. It wasn’t really that far to drive, really. Just a couple of hours, right? Unfortunately traffic wasn’t on my side yesterday morning. It took me over three hours to drive through three states and finally get to Fort Mott State Park in the southern part of the state. This wouldn’t have been a big deal except I missed the last ferry of the day to Fort Delaware on Pea Patch Island that I really wanted to visit. So instead I just walked around the remains for Fort Mott for about an hour or so and headed back to the DC area. (Lucky for me the traffic going that direction was much better.) It was a short visit in state #34, but it counts! Even better, I’m going to be setting foot in state #35 in less than two weeks. I’m going to Alaska on vacation! More on that soon!
I’m on a plane headed to DC for the week and this travel day has been quite an experience already. Between checking my bag and getting through security my flight was delayed by an hour and the gate changed. No big deal. I sat down for a leisurely breakfast and then wandered around the terminals to pass the time. (Today is the last day of Boeing on the Move 2015 and I wanted to rack up as many steps on my pedometer as possible before getting on the plane.) By the time I made it back to the second gate assignment it was in the process of changing again. And then as soon as people started lining up at that gate to board the plane, it changed again. I guess United decided to switch our flight to another plane since the original one was running late. I seriously contemplated sneaking on one of the three flights to Hawaii that were leaving from our terminal. In the end the flight to DC took off about two hours late. This kind of ruins my evening plans once we arrive, but I can be flexible. It should be an interesting week.
The purpose of this inflight blogging session wasn’t to share boring travel stories, though. Last night I was looking through all of my draft posts that I have been neglecting lately, and I realized a terrible trend. It’s one thing to have a backlog of fairly inconsequential posts waiting to be polished and published, but I’ve started a few on big and exciting events that I can’t believe I haven’t finished yet. Earlier this year I made a resolution to blog about events in a timely manner, but it’s a struggle for me. Finding the time and the motivation to write at the same time isn’t easy. I will continue to work on that going forward. The funny thing is, this post isn’t going to be about one of those big and exciting topics. Well, I guess it is a little bit, but only barely. I just want to make sure to tell this story before I completely forget about it.
On my way back from Hawaii I wrote about my bikini experience. Well, that was just half of the story. While getting ready for that trip I learned that by mid-June the bathing suit selection at most stores has dwindled down to almost nothing. Not only did this hinder my search for a bikini top that fit properly (as I documented in that post last month), but also for some bikini bottoms that would work with (or at least not clash with) whatever top I ultimately wound up with. Fortunately some of my old bikini bottoms still fit so I wasn’t quite as panicked about having something to wear with the black Rip Curl top that I was lucky enough to find. But on my last desperate trip to Aerie to complete my swimsuit collection for Maui I saw a purple bikini with white polka dots and little lobsters all over it. (See the photo above. Cute, right?) After discovering that Aerie bathing suit tops don’t fit my very well I didn’t even bother trying on the bandeau top, but the bottoms were just too adorable to pass up. And while they didn’t exactly match the black bikini top, it was still an acceptable combination and I loved wearing something whimsical on the beach in Hawaii. I was never one to follow fashion trends so why start now? I know this wasn’t the wrap up post that my amazing trip to Maui deserves, but I will work on that this week while I’m in DC. I promise!
Thanks to inflight wifi, this post was written while on my flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles!
First of all, I’d like to say that while in Hawaii this past week I successfully completed my New Year’s resolution #3 to wear a bikini! Woohoo! It was a rocky road to get there, though. It’s hard for me to admit, but after I hurt my knee in January I put on a bit of weight while I wasn’t exercising. While I was pretty happy with how I looked at the beginning of the year, being inactive for about a month really damaged my body image. I knew I needed warm weather clothes for my vacation, but I didn’t really want to think about it while I was heavier. I kept hoping that once I started running again in March/April the weight would come off easily. Unfortunately it didn’t. For that reason I kept postponing trying on my old bathing suits to see which ones I wanted to take with me to Maui. Three weeks before my trip I finally felt courageous enough to pull them out of storage and actually put them on, but the results dashed any self esteem I had a tenuous grasp on. None of the bikinis I bought last year fit properly. The tops and the bottoms were all too small for me to even consider wearing out in public. It was so discouraging. But I absolutely needed bathing suits in Hawaii so I began an urgent search to figure out my options. I won’t bore you with all of the steps I took to find swimwear in a hurry, but the results ended up being a mixed bag. Today let’s just focus on the positive outcome of that emergency shopping situation.
The last time I was in Hawaii in 2011 I saw a surfer wearing a bikini top with straps that crossed in the back. I loved it and I decided that I had to have that swim suit! Historically I tend to favor halter bikini tops since they fit me well and seem to be flattering, but I find the ties at the back and neck to be fussy and very uncomfortable. Inevitably the tie in the back is too tight or too loose, and the tie at the top causes me neck pain after a while. So when I saw the cross back bikini top I went on a mission to get one for myself. It took some work (i.e., a lot of weird Google searches), but I discovered that particular style is made by Rip Curl (see the photos above). So last year I went to Endless Summer, a little clothing store in Seal Beach that always has tons of bikinis, and bought the coveted top and a pair of matching bottoms. I loved them! Unfortunately I never found or manufactured a reason to wear a bathing suit in the last year. Fast forward to now and that top is currently too small for me. Yikes. Less than a week before leaving for Maui, and after a largely unsuccessful search for other bikini options, I desperately went to the Rip Curl website and ordered the cross back top in a larger size with two-day rush shipping. And it was perfect! I only ended up swimming two days on my trip, but I wore the Rip Curl top both times. I have another story about the bikini bottoms I wore with them, but I’ll save that for another post. The moral of this story is that bathing suits inevitably cause major frustration, but there can be a happy ending! Thanks to online shopping and rush shipping I was able to be comfortable in a properly fitting bikini in Maui this past week. And I completed a New Year’s resolution too! Incredible.
New Year’s Resolution #5: Visit more states
My 2015 New Year’s resolutions haven’t been going too well. I’ve had varying degrees of success with the four resolutions I’ve posted so far, but there are several others that I’ve written down but done nothing else with. Kinda defeats the purpose of resolutions, huh? There’s still time to accomplish some of my goals this year, though! Let’s get started.
Last year I made a resolution to visit as many new states as possible. And after setting foot in a grand total of six new states (West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho) in 2014, I think I did pretty well! When I sat down to write my 2015 resolutions I knew I wanted to keep this trend going, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to do so during the first half of the year. Not that I haven’t tried! Last month I was supposed to go to Oregon to meet my parents and brother, and also to visit my brother’s girlfriend who lives there. It turned out that May was an inopportune time for me work-wise, though. Way too much going on. I’ve wanted to visit Oregon for a long time and I was so disappointed that I couldn’t go when my family was there. Maybe I’ll find an excuse to make it up there before the end of the year. Another setback so far is a lack of business trips to the East Coast. The last time I was out there was in September, and that was only for two days. Originally I was supposed to go to DC this week, but it ended up not happening. My plan was to take a little road trip to New Jersey to mark it off my list while I was out there. Luckily there’s still a lot of time left in the year and I’ll probably get sent to DC either next month or in the fall. Happily, an extremely exciting travel opportunity is happening in August. Last year when we had such a great time in Yellowstone my family decided to go someplace else amazing in 2015. Our consensus on the ideal destination was Alaska, so we’re planning a trip in August. Nothing concrete yet, but I’m really looking forward to it. I might not make it to as many new states in 2015 as I did last year, but I’m going to enjoy the ones I do visit!
When I first made my New Year’s resolution #2 back in January the first big step I intended to take was turning off the television when I start getting ready for bed at night. As far as that goes, I’ve been really successful! Since New Year’s Day I’ve been listening to podcasts or the radio during my nightly routine, except for just a handful of days. (On those exceptions I’m usually under the influence of “The Simpsons.” Curse you, FXX for showing marathons five nights a week!) I’ve been trying to pare down the rest of my television watching as well. The good news is that none of the new series that have started since the fall have really grabbed my attention. I had high hopes for “Gotham,” but I found it boring. It also helps that a few of my regular shows have either ended or will be ending after a final season. For example, it looks like due to the latest Jeremy Clarkson scandal that “Top Gear,” at least in its current form, is gone forever. Understandable, but sad. Also, “Downton Abbey” will be over after next season. Now that’s depressing! The upside to these developments is that I have fewer and fewer excuses to sit on the couch and veg out. I’m not sure if this helps or hinders my progress in that area, but I’ve decided to conduct a little experiment. During the month of April I’m going to try watching Netflix rather than cable. I definitely have more than enough programming on my Netflix list, including “Arrow” and “Daredevil” that I mentioned on Tuesday, to keep myself entertained for a month. I have friends who have completely ditched cable and been really happy with the decision. I don’t think I’ll go so far as to cancel cable (if only to be able to watch “Doctor Who” episodes when they’re new), but I’m going to give it a try and see how it goes this month. Now excuse me because I’ve got some binge watching to do this weekend!
New Year’s Resolution #1: Decide whether to train for a full marathon
I hate to say it, but I’m close to admitting defeat on this one. When I first wrote about this resolution I said I’d have until sometime in April to decide whether I want to train for a full marathon this year, and that deadline is still valid, but the decision has pretty much already been made for me. There’s a reason I haven’t written about running lately. Mostly because I haven’t done any. My knee is still not fully healed. I’ve gone to the chiropractor a number of times, but it hasn’t been the miracle cure that I was wishing for. Despite more than two weeks of rest (since the Surf City half marathon), my knee still hurts in certain situations. Like when it’s bent for too long. Sadly a desk job isn’t doing me any favors in this arena. And when I fall asleep in the wrong position I wake up in pain a few hours later. It’s not fun. The chiropractor appointments definitely haven’t hurt, but the lack of improvement means that it’s not entirely a muscular problem. After I described my current woes at today’s appointment the chiropractor referred me to an orthopedist to get an MRI of my knee. I’m was actually relieved when he gave me the number. I’m still hopeful that this isn’t a serious injury, but I’ll be glad to find out one way or another.
Getting back to the resolution, I have a strong suspicion that marathon training isn’t going to happen in 2015. I was hoping to get an idea of my capabilities while training for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon this spring, but I haven’t been able to even start that yet. In January I wrote all of my planned Tinkerbell training runs on a calendar and hung it up in my cubicle at work. I was so excited to tackle a new challenge, but unfortunately that program was derailed almost right from the start. Now I have to set my sights on something else. My only goal right now is to be healthy in time for the two half marathons (and one 10K) I’m registered for in May. I don’t need to be completely prepared for them, but I want to be able to run without pain. Hopefully this isn’t too ambitious. The good news is that there are benefits to putting off marathon training for a year. Assuming my knee makes a full recovery, I’ll be able to participate in the Star Wars Rebel Challenge at Disneyland next January. Also, I’ll be able to take a few more days off in February 2016 to go to Disney World for the Princess Half Marathon weekend. (Including a Caribbean cruise afterwards! I can’t wait!) So I’ll still be challenging myself, just not in the same way. And if all goes well, I’ll sign up for the Disney World Marathon in January 2017. Fingers crossed!
New Year’s Resolution #4: Blog about events in a timely manner
As hard as it’s going to be for me to comfortable wear a bikini this summer (gulp!), this resolution might be even more difficult. I’ve gotten into a terrible habit of waiting so long to write things that happen in my life that I never get around to it at all. Like my trip to Orlando last month. In spite of my knee injury during the Disney World Half Marathon it was a great vacation, but I’ve barely blogged about any of it here. I hate that. Granted, I don’t have the most exciting life, but the purpose of this webpage is to share my experiences. Even if no one wants to read about them but me! So to try and stem the tide of blog amnesia (did I just coin a phrase there?), here’s how I spent my week.
As I mentioned in Wednesday’s post, in anticipation of working all weekend I took last Friday off. It was supposed to be a nice relaxing day for me to unwind before spending Saturday and Sunday working. And it mostly succeeded. I know you won’t be surprised when I say that I started Friday off with a with a morning visit to Disneyland. I hadn’t been there in a few weeks and I love the smaller winter crowds. Unfortunately there were a few more people there last Friday than I expected. I ended up walking around for a while, seeing the “Cinderella” sneak peak in California Adventure, buying a pin for a ride that’s closing forever soon (Luigi’s Flying Tires), and going home after a few hours. The rest of the day was extremely relaxing considering I didn’t do much but watch TV (I’m trying to catch up on Oscar Best Picture nominees from the last few years) and do a few chores. When the weekend officially arrived I ended up working 10 hours on both Saturday and Sunday. Although I got a lot of work done when there wasn’t anyone else around to bother me, it was just a drop in the bucket of everything I had to complete. On Monday I was still working like mad on my own projects, but I had to split my time between that and another activity that was going on. I worked 10 hours on Monday, 14 hours on Tuesday (that was rough), and 10 hours on Wednesday. That’s a grand total of 54 hours in 5 days. It wasn’t fun, and I was completely exhausted on Wednesday night, but I got everything done that I needed to in the short term. And I had earned a day off! So yesterday morning I met a friend and her daughter at Disneyland. It was an extremely hot day for February (I really hope winter isn’t over already), but we had a lot of fun. We went on every ride and attraction that the two year old wanted to, including Ariel’s Undersea Adventure twice. It was a lovely day despite the heat. I need more days like that. And per this New Year’s resolution, when they roll around I’ll make sure to blog about them in a timely manner!