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Half a world away

Half a world away

I’m not really sure what this post will be about or why I feel like I need to write it. I wrote down a goal earlier this month “write a blog post about Korea this month”. So here I am, on the 31st, buckling down and hoping it will make sense.

Growing up, people would ask where I was from and I’d reply, “I was made in Korea, born in the USA”. I would say it with just enough pause in the middle that I would usually get a few laughs. But it was no joke that my mom flew to the US eight months pregnant, leaving behind her entire family, to be with my father who was from a small town in Central Pennsylvania. They met while he was in the Army and stationed in Korea. That first flight (in the womb) marked the first of many.

Over the course of my childhood, my mother and I traveled to Korea every couple years. My family would be waiting at the airport for us to come out of the doors – Many hugs and smiles were exchanged. It always felt as if no time had passed. This last time was no different.

I love being with my Korean family even though I can’t really understand what they’re saying. Aside from my mom, only my youngest uncle can speak English.

I always wished I learned Hangul (Korean) as a child. My mom and dad didn’t speak Korean at home – simply because my dad wasn’t Korean and my mom was in the process of learning English so she could go to college and get a good job.

Despite the language barrier, I find joy in being around my family and trying to converse with them using the little Korean I know and lots of hand signals (luckily, Google Translate + apps like Drops/Duo Lingo have helped quite a bit in recent years).

When I was little, my older cousins would entertain me by taking me to the movies and teaching me how to fold origami. It’s funny, being 30 now, they still found ways to entertain me. Coffee, shopping, and, most importantly, feeding! No one ever leaves a Korean household hungry.

This is my eldest uncle who I spent a lot of time with as a kid. He would bring me on hikes with him on the mountain behind his home. In fact, I got to see my first long-eared Korean squirrel on one of those hikes.

There are so many things I wish I could say or ask my family members. I won’t always be able to depend on my mom to be around to translate for me and one can only go so far with a translation app. This notion hit me during this particular trip. It made me incredibly sad to think that someday my kids might be further removed from this experience. I vowed to try my best to finally learn Korean, so that this fear doesn’t become a reality. That or Google needs to hurry up and create those cool voice translator doo-dads (as seen in Black Mirror, Men Against Fire, Season 3 Episode 5 ).

I look forward to the day we can bring our children to Korea. To see them experience an entirely different culture. To see them play with my cousin’s kids, learn how to fold origami and use chopsticks for the first time. To hike the steep mountains and walk through the colorful fish markets. I want them to know about this part of me and see that it’s also a part of them too.

There’s a first time for everything – traveling to Ecuador

There’s a first time for everything – traveling to Ecuador

When presented with the opportunity to travel to Ecuador, I didn’t think twice. In my mind, I was already there.

Jay can attest to the fact that I’m a tad more impulsive when it comes to decision-making. However, this felt more like destiny than a decision.  Which fine, I’ll admit it, many of my travel decisions fall under this category.

This particular opportunity was made possible by a woman, whom I admire dearly.


Meet Keeley. She is a researcher and Ph.D. candidate at Cornell University in the Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She travels to Ecuador each field season to study stream invertebrates and that’s the main reason I’m here. I will be Keeley’s field assistant over the course of the next 2 weeks. How and why this opportunity came about was really just an evolution of conversations that we had throughout this past year.

Needless to say, I have ZERO field research experience (or scientific background for that matter) but I’m here to learn, document and help in any way that I can. Plus, Keeley seems to think I’d be good at it so that’s reassuring.

Plus, I get a sweet name badge with a sweet title. That’s right folks, I’m an Excretion Expert!

I’m excited to see what the next few weeks bring and look forward to experiencing Ecuadorian culture and food of course 🙂

Day 21 – The Missoula Insectarium and Heading to Bozeman

Day 21 – The Missoula Insectarium and Heading to Bozeman

Missoula, in many ways, reminded me of Ithaca… if Missoula were Ithaca’s younger wilder sibling.
I couldn’t really pinpoint exactly what it was. But we really enjoyed our time there.  Jay had a few meetings in the morning. One of which was with Glen at the Missoula Insectarium. I’d never been to an insectarium before and really didn’t know what to expect… but Glen happily gave us a tour and introduced us to many arthropods.
Funny stick bugs, cool beetles I’d never seen…but I certainly didn’t expect to see THIS.
EEEEEeeeeeeeee! Don’t worry. It’s just a molt. But if you were to ask me, I still wouldn’t have touched it. This is a molt of Polly, the insectarium’s Goliath Birdeater. She’s a type of tarantula. I never knew tarantulas molted as they continue to grow. Let’s just say Polly is WAY bigger now.
I’m gonna go ahead and follow that up with a nice photo of a butterfly eating an orange…
I’m sure that helps even things out (unless you’re like my friend Amy who hates butterflies…then this may be a double whammy).
After Jay’s meetings, we drove to Bretz RV + Marine. Remember when I mentioned we broke one of the lids off the Airstream? So we purchase a new lid then went to Lowes to buy a ladder so we could install the lid ourselves.
We said goodbye to Missoula and headed for our next stop; the Bozeman Hot Springs Campground. Luckily we got there with enough time to hit up the warm pools before they closed up at 11pm.
Day 20 – Downtown Missoula – Montana

Day 20 – Downtown Missoula – Montana

Black Coffee Roasting Co. is a hip coffee spot located in asemicircular Quonset hut. I know it’s a “Quonset hut” because I looked it up. I initially assumed this was an old airplane hanger, but previous to it being a coffee shop it was a garden center.
Getting work done here was a little challenging due to the fact there was no wifi network but we sipped some coffee and hung here for a little bit.
I was killing a little bit of time before my hair appointment next door at Canvas Studios. I have to back up a bit and admit that about a week prior, I cut a good portion of my own hair off. That’s right. You read correctly. I. CUT. MY. OWN. HAIR.
I don’t advise doing this… But let me tell you my own reasoning so that you don’t think I’m a complete crack pot.
1. I noticed that my hair was taking forever to rinse in our Airstream shower.  For boondocking, having long hair that takes a lot of water to rinse, isn’t ideal. More water usage = more gray water tank being filled = having to dump more frequently. When you don’t have full hook ups this can be a problem. Like the gray water starts backing up into the shower. (Yup, this totally happened our first week).
2. I had already planned on getting my hair cut at some point on the trip ANYWAY.
The folks at Canvas Studios were super nice and I’m not just saying that because they offered me a mimosa immediately. The stylist I had an appointment with, KaryAnn, was a complete sweetheart. I wish I could transport myself to Missoula everytime I needed a haircut because she was great to talk to and an awesome stylist. You can’t really tell in this photo, but KaryAnn had literally cut an entire cat-size amount of hair off my head.
She was able to cut my hair in such a way that it really worked well with my natural curl.

 If you reside in or are visiting Missoula and need a new do, check out Canvas Studios!
And if you’re thinking about cutting your own hair…definitely bring in the pros. 😉
Day 19 – Wandering along to Missoula – Montana

Day 19 – Wandering along to Missoula – Montana

Before we checked out and headed down to Missoula, we talked for a little while with Sean and Shannon who were in the Airstream next to us. They’re originally from Colorado, and have been full-timing for the past 5 months with their 3 kids, 1 dog and 1 cat. Their kids were super polite and really enjoyed playing with Cooper. It was neat to meet people who were full-timing, as it’s something Jay and I have talked about quite a bit over the years. In fact, it was the original plan and why we purchased Jowanda the Airstream.
Shannon explained that they just sold their house and most of their things and hit the road. She made it sound really easy… and maybe it is. But for now, Jay and I are content with this first trip and where it might lead.
En route to Missoula, we stopped briefly to check out Flathead Lake.
One of the downsides of driving a giant trailer is that it’s difficult to pull over quickly. But luckily, we were able to find a pull-off large enough to fit us and we made our way down a technical descent to the lake. Beautiful clear water – Cooper dove right in, we followed.
The Flathead Lake area is known for its cherries.  Knowing that I’m mildly allergic to them, I still ate one, and immediately my mouth/throat was itchy for 20 minutes. But dang that 1 cherry was quite worth it.
After getting into town and setting up camp at the Missoula KOA we headed downtown, grabbed a beer at Tamarack Brewing and then watched locals enjoy the river.
We headed back to KOA to make dinner and relax a bit. As you can see, Cooper was quite relaxed in the firepit for some reason.