Archive for ‘Travel’

May 25, 2012

On the Move and Daring to Compete

I’ve been quiet around here this past month and my twitter feed has been napping, but my offline life has been far from silent.  It’s screaming with changes, plans, uncertainty, and excitement. It can’t sleep because it’s whirring over lists and dreams.



You see, after ten years away, I’m moving back home to Oregon.  Oregon!  There are so many amazing things about Oregon that I can’t wait to take advantage of.  The Coast. Multnomah Falls.  The Cascades.  Fog and rainbows.  Silver Creek Falls.  Cape Blanco. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  The High Desert.  The Salem Art Festival. Family.  Friends.

When I graduated high school, I couldn’t wait to leave Oregon.  My college choices came down to one in Portland and one in Massachusetts.  I chose Massachusetts, and I’ve lived here for eight of the ten years since (the other two being in Germany on study abroad and then my Fulbright). I’ve been trying to get back to Oregon the moment I left it, but the timing has never been right until now.

It’s strange to think I’ve lived in Massachusetts so long. I still feel like a visitor of sorts.  I’m starting to know the local politics and the local worldviews (listening to WBUR really helps with that). But I still don’t know the cardinal direction of Hingham in relation to Boston, I’ve not spent more than a couple days on the very base of the Cape, and I’ll never understand why nobody smiles at each other in the streets or on the T.



On the other hand, Massachusetts has been my home for almost all of my adult life.  The other night, coming home from a late work function, I stopped over the BU Bridge and snapped some sunset photos of my favorite angle of the Boston skyline.  I am in love with this skyline.  I will truly miss it when I’m away.

I will miss the crew boats on the Charles.
The runners on the Esplanade.
My walks through Cambridgeport.
Sacco’s Pizza and Bowling.
Comm Ave —

Wait.  I don’t want to get carried away.  I don’t think I’ll miss Comm Ave.  Enough of this nostalgia. (Quick side-note: why do all the images of Comm Ave on Google show the pretty part of Comm Ave that nobody ever walks down? There is hardly a photo of actual Comm Ave, the concrete mess of cars, bikes, trains, and people)

Okay, let’s get back on track:

I’m going home to Oregon to pursue my dreams. Kind of like a modern Oregon Trail (via a direct JetBlue flight).  I have some plans, and I will say they will partly involve this blog, but for now I’m in the writing lists stage, the scheming stage to set things as straight as this elusive plan will let it be.



Who knows what will happen once I get there, but I know this: I need to be diligent and organize my time wisely (I’m much better with deadlines, and this plan has no outside deadlines like the ones I’m used to, other than trying to find a paycheck).  Quitting a full-time job with benefits to move across the country to a known unknown is not easy.  I’m quite frankly afraid.  But a couple phrases have stuck with me over the past few months that I keep going back to:

Dare to compete. Hillary Clinton told a story that in prepping for her Senate race she was at an event for girls in sports called “Dare to Compete.” A tall basketball player leaned over to Hillary and repeated the mantra, “Dare to compete, Mrs. Clinton. Dare to compete.”  Or, as my sister kept telling me in high school, don’t say “no” before you’ve even tried.

Fail Forward. I have this fierce desire to plan it all out – to be in control of my future, while at the same time I know that this is impossible.  When I can’t imagine what will happen to me in a month from now, or several months from now, I tend to worry.  I fear the unknown.  Mostly because I fear it will bring failure.  I read an entrepreneur’s summary of her experience with this, and she said the best thing she has learned is that failure is part of the process. Learning from failure is one of the better (if harder) ways to learn.  Yesterday, word was officially spread at work that I am leaving, and a coworker, excited about my pursuits, told me that if I fail at my current goals, nobody can take that away from me. Nobody can judge me for failing because I did it, and I will take that experience on to my next adventure.



And with that, I continue this screaming life of lists, packing, sorting, and moving. I dare to compete, and I will fail forward.



*Photo Credits: The first two photos were taken by me, the third (of Berley Lake in the Oregon Cascades) by my sister, and the last in Salem by David.

January 18, 2012

Deutschland: Ein Wintermärchen

I’ve finally recovered from jet lag and travel fatigue and caught up with my chores.  Which means that I finally had time to sort through my hundreds of photos from vacation.  And what I found on my memory card only captures one small portion of the time I had in Germany.  What I’m finding is that no travel story or photograph collection can ever tell the full story of a journey.  And I’ve learned that many people don’t want to know about my journey (or at least don’t know what questions to ask to get me talking).  So I’m telling it here, because I have to process it in some way, to understand it and come to terms with it.  It’s not a typical vacation story.  It has all the usual symptoms on the surface, but it was something else.  Something else entirely.

The first thing I did upon landing (after an unnecessarily long trip) was grab a (local German!) beer with my sister and bake a few Christmas cookies.  Afterward, I hopped on a train and headed to Saxony (Sachsen), where I lived for a year teaching English at a Gymnasium (Germany’s version of high school).  A good friend of mine still lives there with her husband, and over the next three days, the three of us went to as many Weihnachtsmärkte.  I am not normally a person who enjoys crowds and festivals, but we always managed to go when there were fewer crowds (i.e. before everyone else got off work), and had drunk enough Glühwein by the time the crowds arrived, that it didn’t matter anymore.  We just soaked in the beauty and spirit along with the cold and crowds.

Walking through my old stomping grounds and catching up with my friend was a wonderful way to start the trip.  Seeing it decorated and lit up for Christmas only made me more nostalgic:  the wooden figurines and glowing stars made in the mountains outside of Dresden; the little huts decorated with pine sprigs and filled to the brim with gifts, foods, and toys; the Sächsisch dialect spoken over steaming cups of Glühwein; the Frauenkirche peeking out from behind the Kulturpalast, a socialist remnant that houses the Dresdener Philharmonie today; and the beautiful museums and School of Visual Art that line the Elbe River, loaded with pleasure boats waiting to take the next group of merry-makers for a ride.

Traveling is a funny thing, and many people have written about it much more eloquently than I can here.  Nevertheless, my thoughts as I wandered the streets of Germany, were that it is at the same time an experience of extreme solitude and extreme connectivity.  My travel was solitary because it seems inconceivable to explain the effects these experiences had upon me, much less have the same experiences as others on the same trip.  Yet it had a sense of connection because it was impossible not to engage with the people, culture, and history of the places visited.  There is so much history that came back to me walking the streets of Dresden, Leipzig, and Hamburg.  History I had learned in what feels like another life, when I poured over German Studies books day in and day out; history I forged with my friends; and the palpable sense of history being made in the moment.

I mentioned to David that I was writing this post (I admit I’ve been writing it for over a week now), and I found it hard to connect my specific thoughts on travel with food, and he looked at me dumbfounded and said, “But you experience travel and memories through food.”

It is true: I rediscovered these histories not by sightseeing, though I did do a bit of that by visiting an amazing museum in Hamburg and attending concerts and even the Stuttgart Opera.  Instead of sightseeing, I engaged with these memories and experiences through Germany’s bakeries, restaurants, food stands, and the dishes I cooked and consumed with friends and family in their homes.  And I came home with my suitcases full of bread, candies, and chocolate (so much so that my family had to bring back things for me in their bags).

I spent my weeks in Germany eating Brezeln every morning, and especially caring for those from my grandparent’s neighborhood bakery (the master baker of which my parents are now good friends with); sharing pho with my mom in the restaurant she enjoyed eating in when she visited her mother in her last years; purchasing a Stollen from the best Stollen bakery in Dresden; cooking the same meal with my friend that we cooked years ago, a traditional Saxon meal of goulash, red cabbage, and Kartoffelknödel; wandering the Isemarkt stalls and having lunch at my favorite vegetarian stand; tasting the samples at the Fruchtgummiladen in Hamburg; taking a family outing to the Swiss grocery chain Migros and stocking up on cheese, pasta and chocolate (all of which the Swiss make the best); sharing homemade meals such as my sister’s Japanese lunch feast, Dad’s Linsen und Spätzle, Mom’s Krautkrapfen, and finally ending the trip by making a five-course New Year’s Eve meal for my family.  Each time I put something in my mouth a flood of memories came back.   In my time in Germany, I was traveling not only to another country, but to other times, places, people, and experiences.  And I had the time of my life.

In between though, I had a constantly nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I still can’t put it into words, and interestingly I think that was the nagging feeling.  The feeling that this trip was beyond words, at once so simple: a vacation in Germany; and at the same time so complex: a returning home, to the past, and to a future that has yet to write itself.


December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) in Leipzig

May your celebration be full of love, laughter, delicious drinks, and warmth.


Weihnachtsmarkt in Dresden

May you have time to play and enjoy all the little things.

Spitzbuben Christmas Cookies

And may you eat all the cookies you can muster!

I’ll be back in the New Year with more new posts and projects. For now I’m going to go back to hunkering down with my family in our little piece of awesomeness here in Germany.  So many things to be thankful for!

August 6, 2011

Menu Planning for a Backpacking Trip

Menu planning is hard.  Add to that the stress of planning a menu for a trip out in the wilderness (with limited water, fuel, and ability to carry all the ingredients) and you’ve suddenly multiplied that stress.

This is what we’ve had to do for our backpacking trip that my sister, David, and I are taking.  We are really looking forward to the trip, but we are backpacking novices, and I want to make sure this trip runs as smoothly as it can!

My own inefficient use of a backpacking stove.

July 1, 2008


Update 7/3/08: I have a recipe in this post now!  I figured it’s plenty time to post a recipe.  Click on “Read More” and scroll to the bottom.  Happy jam making! ~K

Sunday morning I woke up full of energy. Some of it was nervous energy, some of it was excitement. The first thing I did was sneak out of bed and peak out the window. I wasn’t an eager child looking for snow on Christmas Day, I was impatient to find out if the predicted thunder storms had already begun. Rain would ruin everything, and if my plans failed, I would have nothing to do all day long. For a week I had been looking forward to spending the day up in Ipswich picking strawberries and going to the beach with David and our friend, Andrew.