At Home Out on the Road

I went to college intending to study environmental science.
I thought I wanted to study in this field because being outdoors is one of my favorite places to be. After taking a few environmental science courses I knew I was meant to be there.
Then after actually researching the field, I realized just how much science is involved. You would think that the word science in the name would tip me off, but I never claimed to be smart. After combing through the entire catalog of majors at my University, I found one that spoke to me, even more than environmental science did. It involves outdoor recreation and environmental education, things I value highly to my happiness. The best part? It involved almost no science what so ever!

After spending time staring at the New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia, all of the feels about being outdoors took over again. My current job, that I love, is mostly a desk job and doesn’t really fit with the field I have my degree in, in the sense that it is indoors. If I had the chance one day to work outdoors in the recreation field, I just may jump at it. NW Ohio isn’t a hot bed in this field though.

Last weekend I was in West Virginia on a mini vacation and visited New River Gorge National Park and visited one of the famous sights of the park: the New River Gorge Bridge. I read that two Statues of Liberty can be stacked on top of the Washington Monument and there will still be room to spare underneath the bridge. It is amazing to think of the size of this bridge that spans the gorge. 2016-10-28-08-55-15 The entire park was majestic with the changing of the leaves for the season. There were hints of color that glowed when the sun peeked through the clouds. The sweeping views throughout the park were too much to fully take in during one short trip. 2016-10-28-09-11-15My absolute favorite place in the park that we saw was Sandstone Falls. I could have sat and enjoyed the falls for hours. Hearing the water run over the rocks and breathing in the fresh air was simply intoxicating. This is one of the reasons I feel at home when I’m outdoors. The beauty of the world around us is something I don’t take for granted and that is one reason that I wanted a degree in a field that allowed me to take advantage of this. 2016-10-28-12-34-35It also helps that I had the best company while I enjoyed these fantastic sights in West Virginia. Having people you care with around you makes the places you feel at home feel even more comfortable.
Vacations have a great way of soothing the soul.

New River Gorge National Park

I visited my first National Park in August and I realized I need to get to more of them. I’ll be road tripping this weekend to Charlotte and as we pass through West Virginia, we’ll make a stop to New River Gorge National Park.
The NP is well known for the New River Gorge Bridge (seen below).
Seeing as it is so late in October, I’m hoping that the foliage is displaying beautiful color

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There are also some great hikes to waterfalls and what I’m sure are sweeping vistas. We only have a few hours to take in all we can (twss) at the park, so I, being the nerdy over planner I am, am making notes on the spots in the park that would be clutch to visit.

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Have you ever visited this park?
What National Parks have you been to that you love?

The 4 x 13 survey

Good morning! I am off for my long run in a bit, but I am slacking instead right now, waiting for the weather to warm up a little.
My friend Alicia over at In Healthy Habits We Trust tagged me in a 4×13 survey. I typically don’t participate in things like this, but this one was actually pretty interesting. You’ll find out a few fun things about me!

four names that people call me:
1. Amanda (my name)
2. Tiny Tot
3. Bo-Manda
4. Kess

four jobs i’ve had:
1. Associate Director in the Alumni Office at The University of Toledo – essentially I’m an event planner (current)
2. Development Specialist
3. Paid Intern with the Toledo City Parks Department (in college)
4. Hickory Farms seasonal employee (answered emails & phone calls)

four movies i’ve watched more than once:
1. All of the Lord of the Rings movies
2. All of the Twilight movies
3. All of the Star Wars movies
4. The Family Stone (I love this family)

four books i’d recommend:
1. Anything by Bill Bryson, he is brilliant and hilarious. My favorite book of his is A Walk in the Woods.
2. All of the Harry Potter books
3. The Legend trilogy and the Young Elites trilogy by Marie Lu.
4. The Razorland trilogy by Anne Aguirre

four places i’ve lived:
1. Bangor, Maine
2. Chico, California
3. Perrysburg, Ohio (current)
4. Bainbridge Island, Washington

four places i’ve been:
1. Munich, Germany
2. Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
3. Oahu & Maui, Hawaii
4. Paris, France

Dominican Republic

four places i’d rather be right now:
1. Back at the Four Seasons in Maui, Hawaii – preferably pool side, but I would also accept watching the sea turtles as I snorkle
2. Back on the beach in Cancun, Mexico
3. Back at the Hofbrauhaus in Munich, Germany. It was soooo good.
4. At home cuddling with Bo

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Doesn’t Bo look extremely content?

four things i don’t eat:
1. Milk or soft serve ice cream (allergy)
2. Peanut butter – it is disgusting
3. Raw tomatoes or onions
4. Pickles

four of my favorite foods:
1. Florida’s Natural Fruit Snack Nuggets
2. Not a food so much as a candy, but any and all gumballs. Double Bubble brand preferably
3. Almost any baked good
4. The brown jug at Trotter’s Tavern in Bowling Green, Ohio. It is a salad, steak, french fry, roll combo that is so epic that I would gladly eat it every week if life allowed.

four tv shows i watch(ed):
1. I was in mad love with LOST
2. I have rewatched Battlestar Galactica a few times
3. The 100 – this show keeps getting better and better
4. Downton Abbey of course

four things i’m looking forward to this year:
1. Running my second marathon-My time from marathon #1 is horrible due to my knee issues, so I want a huge PR. I seriously want a 42 minute PR…ambitious of me, right? I am 40 pounds lighter this time around so my hopes are high!
2. A few blog surprises that I hope work out
3. Finding my own version of happy-however it needs to happen
4. Visiting with my mom and my brother who both abandoned me and moved away from Ohio

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Glass City Marathon 2012

four things i’m saying:
1. It’s my jam/This isn’t my jam
2. I think that Bo, my favorite Boston Terrier on earth, loves me more than most people in my life do
3. Believe you can and you will
4. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also

four people i’m tagging to do this next:
1. Jenn at Runs With Pugs
2. Lisa at Tech Chick Adventures
3. Emily at I’m Not That Pregnant
4. Becca at Diary of a Slow Runner

And Now Back to Regular Life

We returned from vacation today.
We are all exhausted.
We are all cranky.
We are all fed up with eating in restaurants.
We miss our own beds and pillows.
We miss our Bo.2013-08-01 21.26.04

And now I think we need a vacation to recover from our vacation. Yes, everyday life is busy and taxing but hot damn, vacations are a whole different kind of busy. From the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to kayaking to shelling to beaching to sunning ourselves to swimming to everything else…we were busy. We all got a little sunburned, we all ate our asses off and we all had a fantastic visit with family in Tarpon Springs, Florida.

We picked up Bo, ordered pizza, unpacked and are currently couching until bed time. This vacation was especially tiring for some reason. Either way, we are home and we couldn’t be happier.

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Back to business – training for the Medical Mutual Glass City Marathon! Only 23 days until my seventh half marathon. I still have a few weeks of training left but I am feeling great with my prep for this race. I’ll get back to talking about my training and a few more tips about the race once I sleep for 24 hours to finally settle back into everyday life.

Do you feel like you need a vacation after your vacation?

Resolution Check and Upcoming Travel

Last year Jeff and I took a few small weekend vacations. I wouldn’t call them vacations really, I’d call them trips.

We visited Las Vegas in January 2013 and Windsor, Canada in August 2013 for our anniversary. The last vacation we took together was to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic in June of 2012. The last time we took the monsters on vacation was spring of 2012.

Bottom line = we are due.

For Christmas we surprised the monsters with a trip to Florida this spring. On this trip we’ll be taking them to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This is the highlight of our trip. And I am more excited than anyone in the family I think. The rest of the trip will be relaxing on the beach or at my moms pool. We are all very excited, especially with the extreme cold we have experienced this winter.

For Jeff’s milestone birthday this year I ‘surprised’ him with a trip to Cancun, Mexico. It doesn’t have to be Cancun, it can be anywhere really, as long as it fits in the allotted funds I set aside for the trip. I didn’t want to spring it on him that OMG WE ARE LEAVING FOR CANCUN TOMORROW MORNING SURPRISE DROP EVERYTHING YOU WERE GOING TO DO THIS WEEK HURRY UP AND PACK AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH. What if he had appointments and couldn’t cancel them? Eh, so I told him early so he could plan with me. Good choice I think. We are pretty pumped about that as well!

It isn’t a shock that I am not necessarily at swim suit weight. I can rock it now, I know that. But I would like to tone up a few areas before this happens. So I have some time to work on myself. How am I going to do it? I am going to keep myself accountable! I have such a hard time with this. I have a few ideas on today’s Fitmark blog on how to keep up with your 2014 Goals/Resolutions. Now is about the time when people forget or give up all together on their goals for the year. I need to remember, as well as everyone else, that every day is a new opportunity to get it right!

Jeff and I are both working towards looking better in our vacation gear…too bad Girl Scout cookies will arrive soon.

When was your last vacation? Where did you go?

January Snowpacolypse & Frozen Pipes

I’m sure by now that you have heard about, or are living through, the huge winter storm that has been lingering in the Midwest. We received 10″ of snow on Sunday and then the temperatures started to drop that night. And they have continued to drop ever since. Here is a look at the weather right now. Outside temp is -11*F and the wind chill (real feel) temp is -39*F. Cold, right? The coldest wind chill we have experienced is closer to -50*F, but when it gets into the negatives can you tell a difference in 10*?2014-01-07 09.17.49Jeff and I went to lunch on Saturday and decided a quick trip to the grocery store was in order if we were going to live through this storm. Naturally, we only picked up the essentials.

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Our downfall was mentioning our horde of essentials on facebook because we soon after had a sneak snow ball attack! Our neighbors pelted our front windows and outer door with snow balls, trying to take our skittles. But our barricades held strong. The skittles were safe.

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Driving was not suggested, as you can imagine. The roads were slick and the visibility was lessening with every hour.

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On Sunday our front door had taken fall to a huge snow drift. This was around 4’5″ tall, blocking the front door. It was especially fun to dig out….everyone LOVES to spend their days digging through large snow drifts. Jeff and I tried to be as prepared as we could be. We went outside and shoveled/snow-blowed (snow-blew?) three times on Sunday, so we could keep on top of the snow. And, luckily, it worked! We never had more than 3″ in the driveway and thankfully, it was a very light and powdery snow that wasn’t heavy to move out of the way. Yesterday and today we have been on a Level 3 Snow Emergency. In a nutshell this means you don’t drive unless 100% necessary. If you are hospital personnel – you drive. If you are a plow driver – you drive. If you are a Realtor or a University employee – you keep your ass at home and don’t drive. So, Jeff and I have had a few snow days! Today the Level 3 is still there, so we aren’t going anywhere anytime soon it seems.

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One of the things you learn pretty early on living somewhere that the winters reach sub-zero temps, is that you never want your pipes to freeze. Never. They can freeze and then burst, creating a massive headache of broken pipes and water, water everywhere. Some of the things you can do to prevent this are to leave your cabinet doors open under sinks-to let the warm air circulate, you also should leave your faucets on a slow, steady drip-moving water doesn’t freeze so this will prevent freezing. Now, where I ran into trouble last night is with the washing machine. The pipes are on an outside wall (call to danger for frozen pipes!) and I thought that I was keeping up on running the washer often enough that the pipes wouldn’t freeze. Then, there was the time that I forgot to run the washer. Really, I did have an alarm go off to remind me, then I accidentally forgot about it. The washing machine pipe hadn’t had water running through it in about 12 hours. And in mega negative temperatures, this was a huge fuck up.

When I tested the washer there was no water movement. I went into the crawl space and felt the pipes and couldn’t find anywhere that it felt frozen, everything was cool-but no more than it should be, given the outside temperatures. Even though I didn’t find anything frigid, I still sat in the crawl for over an hour trying to warm up the pipes with my hair-dryer. Yes, I was sitting on the uneven dirt in my spider and dead bug infested crawl space with a hair-dryer on a pipe. The water still didn’t run to the washer.

I gave up. I got angry. I got pissed. I got sad that the pipe may burst. Then I remembered that there is a huge hole in the drywall that we inherited when we bought the house and it had direct access to the pipes to the washer. I removed the insulated and I found the frigid and frozen pipes! Not that I wanted to find frozen pipes, but at least I knew where the issue was. I sat and blew the warm air on the pipes.

2014-01-06 21.35.45I did that for over 40 minutes, on a few different parts of this pipe, with no water flow. OMG. So I took another break to freak out and cry that I had let this happen. Then I gave it one more go and I sat there and listened to my ipod and tried to forget this had happened for a minute when I heard it. RUNNING WATER. Thank goodness, the water had thawed in the pipe and was flowing into the washer!

I listened as the entire cycle ran its course and I waited for the moment to hear the water flow into the drain. This was the next pipe that I had prayed had not frozen. The washing machine drain pipe froze last January and that was hellish enough. The drain pipe worked and everything was happy from there on our.

I disconnected the washing machine water line and put them on a steady drip into the machine to keep the pipe from freezing.
Now, with three faucets downstairs on a steady drip this had made the restroom stops more frequent for sure.

Holy hell. Have you had any issues with the cold?
Have you ever had pipes freeze?

First Anniversary Celebration

Last Friday started out as a normal day. Got up, went to work, worked.
I was on the hunt for a new restaurant for Jeff and I to try for our first anniversary. Our actual anniversary was on August 18, but we were both busy the next two nights, so we had to celebrate on Friday. I emailed Jeff a list of about 10 restaurants that I wanted to try.
His reply back to me: I’ve got this taken care of. Come home after work. Pack an overnight bag.

Naturally my head started spinning of the many places that he would surprise me with an overnight. I started guessing.
Ann Arbor?  No.
Cedar Point?  No.
Put-In-Bay?  No.
I sat here stumped.
He offered to give me a hint. He sent me a picture. I promptly Google searched that picture and found out where he was taking me.

Windsor, Ontario in Canada.

We only live 45ish minutes from the Canadian border so this wasn’t some far away trip, but we had never been to Canada together.  I was so excited that I ended up leaving work a few hours early, this meant that we could hang out in Canada a few extra hours as well.

We have two ways to enter Canada from Detroit. The Ambassador Bridge or the tunnel. We chose the tunnel on the way over.

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We made great time over the border and we were excited to be on foreign soil.

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We knew right where the hotel was and it was very easy to get to. In theory. Windsor was currently setting up for Baloonapalooza. Not balloons actually, but it is large inflatables. SO, a lot of the streets were already closed off for vendors to set up early for the festival. After we made a few trips around the block, we were finally in our room. We had some gorgeous views of Detroit from our room. Who would have thought that the Detroit skyline would be so pretty?
2013-08-16 19.05.05 2013-08-16 19.05.08 2013-08-16 19.07.57Our room was really nice as well. We weren’t planning on spending time hanging out in it, but it had plenty of space for it. We changed clothes and walked to the park that runs the entire length of the river. It is an extremely well-kept park and there were a lot of residents out using it for various activities. Then the skyline posed with me.
2013-08-16 19.44.39Seriously, look at how gorgeous this park is. Some of the pictures are taken from in the park, and some are taken from inside the hotel the next day.2013-08-16 19.42.35 2013-08-16 19.45.09 2013-08-17 09.49.59 2013-08-17 09.50.14 2013-08-17 09.50.58

Before dinner we walked around to take a look at the inflatables.
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I had a few delicious sangria’s with dinner.
2013-08-16 20.24.59 2013-08-16 20.31.34As it got darker this is what our view at dinner changed to.
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We took our time getting up and around on Saturday and had a decent breakfast in the hotel restaurant. We didn’t see anywhere near the hotel that served breakfast. On the way home we chose to take the Ambassador Bridge back into the US.
2013-08-17 12.03.44We had some gorgeous views of the river and both Detroit and Windsor.

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It was a short trip to Canada, but we had a great time and made the most of it! Jeff certainly surprised me with an anniversary overnight, but this just means that every year I’ll expect a huge surprise like this. Ha!

How do you celebrate your anniversary?
Ever been to Canada?