WELCOME to our blog!


We're E & C, a fun-loving couple caught up in the adventures of owning our first house and exploring all life has to offer. We like to whip out our tools and tackle house projects, travel to places close to our heart and far far away, document life's stories through pictures and writing, and dabble in the kitchen along the way. We're always on the quest for the next big adventure, for as Calvin says, it's "a day full of possibilities! It's a magical world, Hobbes, ol' buddy ... Let's go exploring!"

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fearless

Fearless. I'm sure this word means something different to just about every living person on the planet. When I chose that as my "word of the year" at the beginning of 2014, I didn't fully know my own definition of the word, I just sensed that I could use a little extra fearlessness this year. Do any of you do that? Instead of choosing a long and intimidating list of New Year's resolutions, just pick one word and try incorporate it into your life throughout the entire year. I've been doing it the last few years or so and am always surprised at how the word ends up fitting me well, before the year is through.

For me, it all started in February when we found out I was pregnant. I know, a joyous occasion for most people - and for us as well - but deep down, if I'm being perfectly honest, part of me was feeling a large portion of fear mixed in. For someone who likes control of her body, eating habits, exercise rhythms, and sleep patterns, finding out you won't have control over any of that for the next 9 months (and beyond!) is a pretty scary proposition. I've never been one to worry too much about change, but lack of control, that is terrifying.

Before becoming pregnant, I never understood why those who were, had to comment on it tirelessly. Every blog post from my favorite food blogger turned into pregnancy or baby commentary, coworkers who were expecting brought it up on a daily basis, and of course friends and family journeying down that road had a knack for keeping the entire Facebook world informed. But now I get it. When you're pregnant (or at least for me) it is all-consuming; there isn't a single part of me that doesn't feel fundamentally different. Maybe it's because I'm so sensitive or in-tune to my body, but it definitely causes me to pause and fully take in this life-changing experience.
Evan's pretty in-tune to his body too.
And it's a good thing I'm sensitive to my body because sometimes your own intuition is just as important (or more so) than your doctor's knowledge. Here's an example: it starts with a tightness in your side that feels like the standard pregnancy Round Ligament Pain, but as the week progresses it moves to your groin and upper thigh, and eventually you're limping around wondering how this can be normal.
The swelling begins ...
By Thursday your leg has swollen and turned a lovely shade of purple so you visit your OB office and the doctor orders an ultrasound of your leg to rule out blood clots. Ultrasound is complete and shows no sign of clots (whew!), so your doctor says to rest, ice and elevate over the weekend. "It will probably be better by the morning." Famous last words.
Baby Shower
After your wonderful baby shower Friday night that keeps you planted in a chair the entire evening, wincing in pain, you wake Saturday morning to find you can no longer walk. Extending your leg past a 45 degree angle is nearly impossible, and the pain in your groin is now reaching record highs. Of course the on-call doctor you speak with over the phone knows you've already been checked for blood clots, so he isn't concerned. Thankfully you have an excellent and intuitive midwife, who, upon seeing you at the clinic Monday, knows something serious is afoot and sends you off to have another ultrasound. This time the verdict is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) - blood clots in three veins originating in the groin with clotting extending down the entire leg. (You can look it up for more info, but in a nutshell: pregnancy is a risk factor for DVT since you have three times the amount of blood and your body simply clots easier in preparation for childbirth. The main concern is that a piece of the clot will break off and head to your heart or lungs - this can be fatal. Once you start taking blood thinner your risk goes down significantly, but it still takes a few weeks until the clot has dissolved and symptoms/pain subsides). 

Pain level 8-10 at this point!
I know I should have felt some sense of fear upon entering the ER and spending the night in the hospital hooked up to an IV, but in reality, I just felt a huge sense of relief. I had been right all along - this wasn't normal pregnancy pain, and it wasn't even a normal blood clot scenario (groin clots are much less common than ones in your calf - and three of them?!).

Pre-treatment
But it doesn't mean the recovery has been easy. In fact, this whole ordeal has been one of the hardest things I've ever done. It is not like recovering from a sports injury where I'm simply at home resting, icing and watching movies; it is draining both physically and emotionally and this blog post is the only productive thing I've managed to do all week (and that's saying a lot for an over-achiever like me). Since I'm pregnant on top of it all, it adds an extra layer of discomfort and complexity - I can't help Evan prepare the nursery, stockpile food for when baby comes, or keep up on my prenatal yoga or exercise. But I try not to wallow in my misery because in the big picture it could be a lot worse. And after all, this is just temporary and will soon pass.
Although I did manage to get out of helping with this sticky nursery-prep situation. Maybe not a bad thing!
(note: the walls are not nearly this harsh a yellow and the leaning tower is now appropriately assembled inside the closet)
Now, here's where my word "fearless" comes in again. I have to give myself shots. As in half-inch-long needle injections IN MY PREGNANT BELLY twice a day for the next ten weeks (until delivery). If I were to rewind to the beginning of 2014 when I chose the word Fearless and pose the question to myself, Jeopardy (or Apples-to-Apples?) style, I'd probably says "FEARLESS: what is, learning to administer my own injections." Seriously. Well, that would be right up there with spending a night in a haunted hotel. (Which one would you choose? It's a hard question.) If you're on team needle-phobia, maybe you are like me and have to lay down whenever your blood is drawn or you receive a shot because you fainted once in high school. (I can't be the only one who did that!) Fell to the ground and heard the nurse yell "She's gone down!" And they hadn't even pricked me yet. I can't say that shot-giving was ever something I put on my bucket list - whether administering to myself, someone else, or even a cow. But yet …


In order to stay in the half-glass-full club I'm trying to see the positives here. And really, overcoming my fear of needles has got to be one of the biggest challenges - and dare I say opportunities - I've ever been given. To know that within the next ten weeks I will become so accustomed to the routine of shot giving that it will become second nature, helps me want to do it again every day. Every time, I'm one step closer to overcoming that fear. So far it has gone pretty well and the nurse even complimented me on my steady hand. Who knows, maybe I'll switch professions yet! ; )


Of course there are other benefits to this entire ordeal, and for the sake of remaining upbeat, I will list them here:

  • We were actually scheduled to tour the Birth Center of the hospital the night we were there - I guess we opted for the behind-the-scenes tour instead! Our hospital "trial run" will help me pack my hospital bag: I now know to bring a sweatshirt to supplement the poor hospital pillows, ear plugs and an eye mask.
  • People make you food. Evan's mom is driving up tomorrow with some quiche, calico beans, bran muffins and peanut butter cookies. Needless to say I am quite excited. Evan has filled the fridge with fruit, yogurt, and a hot dish I've been enjoying every day. Lesson learned: when someone hurts, bring them food. Treats, baked goods, leftovers - whatever! No need to ask, just do it : )

Evan knows how to make me feel better: he brought me kale broccoli salad!
  • I gained perspective: Last time I was in the hospital I was experiencing very unnatural pain - next time I will also be in pain but it will be natural and serve a very clear purpose.
  • Now that part of my blood clot area is starting to clear I'm surprised at how much of my stomach pains I've had the past few months and assumed were just pregnancy symptoms are also clearing. After this, pregnancy will be easy! I don't know that much about blood clots but I suspect this one was a long time in the making.

 And apparently Germans get pregnant too, although we didn't see a single one during our visit in June!
  • We discovered that a hospital stay is not completely unlike riding first class (what?!). Of course there are no IVs on an airplane along with a zillion other differences, but we couldn't help but chuckle when we noticed that in both situations you have a bedside service/call button, you often slide down on the slippery inclined bed, and you're constantly woken up or stuck waiting for someone to tend to the next task, whether that be delivering a warm washcloth (happens in both situations), checking your vitals, or spreading a fancy napkin and silverware before you for your five course meal (I'll let you guess on those last two).


  • I realized, yet again, that I chose well. I have the best in-home nurse in the world: Evan! He's definitely gone above and beyond in taking care of my physical and emotional needs and has proved already that he's going to make a great dad.



***

Ten more weeks and counting!




Thursday, June 12, 2014

Back in the Game


Despite the radio silence on the ol' blog the last few months, I really do have a lot to say.

For starters ...

  • We're expecting a baby this November! How's that to start off with the big one? 
  • Flight benefits continue as Evan passes the one-year mark - we have recently added Phoenix, the Black Hills and California to our non-rev travel destination list. Oh yea, and he's still a chemistry teacher as well for the majority of the year.
  • House projects demand attention, especially the office-to-nursery switch and a big basement renovation (need an official guest room and bathroom before Baby P arrives!)
  • Pearson parents are leaving New Jersey after 25+ years and venturing four hours north to central Massachusetts. This weekend will be my last trip "home" for a final beach day and helping pack up boxes. Yea, it's kind of bittersweet as one would expect, but it's an awfully exciting adventure as well! {And I've never been one to label one singular place as "home" anyway}
  • Speaking of bittersweet, the Pierson parents just had a big change in their life, that also falls in that category of "moving." Only their home remains in place, firmly planted on the farm just outside of Lake City. When you live on a farm, the definition of home is a complex thing, spread in part between the bodies of 200 dairy cows. Earlier this spring Sapa Ska Farms held an auction and sent their herd out into the world. This event deserves a write-up all its own and I have pictures and video to help tell the story. Don't worry, it has a happy ending, in which the farmer now has time and flexibility to spontaneously visit the cabin, attend a full wedding reception or help his son finish off the basement ... what?
I've been missing this part of my life where I sit down by myself in a quiet room and send my thoughts out into the void. For a good two months, being in front of any screen made me motion sick so I let go of any extra activities that involved screens for a while, and then one gets accustomed to other evening activities (like sleeping, for the most part). Sometimes you realize that you have to slow down a little bit, let life catch up and tend to other things for a while, even if that means pushing pause on your favorite hobby. Now that I am through that early stage of pregnancy, I'm looking forward to bringing the Tales of E and C back to life (although perhaps it is due for a name change?). We have some big adventures ahead and what better fuel to light my creative fire than a year of change and new beginnings? 

As Frank Costanza once said ...

I'm BACK babyyy!


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Choices



You know you're over-commited in life when "quality time" spent with your husband consists of rescuing your car from a snowy street at 11pm. Oh, it was quite a date, as we hopped in his old Honda Civic and started our trek down the city streets to where my car decided it couldn't quite make it up a hill earlier in the evening. Really, it should be the other way around, with old Civic throwing in the towel when times get rough and Prius, our young chariot, coming to the rescue. But "old faithful" maneuvered that mashed potato terrain despite the hanging tail pipe that needs welding once again. He takes a little maintenance, but like any good relationship - or marriage - the engine will certainly outlive its frame.

Monday, January 6, 2014

2013: Let's do the Numbers

It's 20 below zero in Minneapolis today and E and I are hunkering in and reminiscing on the past year, especially this sunny vista:

When I think back on 2013, the main word that comes to mind is travel. I laugh when I look at my planner, especially last summer, when we were home in Minnesota a total of two weekends. (Suffice it to say this took a toll on our house, and our sleep!) Before you ask I will tell you: no, we are not rich. As it turns out, you don't have to be wealthy to travel like you are. You just need a crazy husband (or be so yourself) who happens to love spending his free time throwing around 50-pound bags and hanging out in the belly of a plane.

Let me explain. Evan started working for the airport as a luggage handler this summer during his off-season from teaching. We spent the summer visiting family and friends and faraway lands thanks to the amazing Delta benefits, and when school came around again we couldn't bear to part with the perks, so on he continued into the fall while juggling his teaching schedule. "Let's just make it to fall break so we can take another trip," he said. But after that there was a short weekend jaunt to St. Louis for my 30th birthday and then of course our annual Christmas trip to New Jersey, so he kept holding out. Now that it's the new year he claims he can see the light at the end of the tunnel - summer. So onward we go! He's already working in sub-zero temps and it can't get any worse than that! It's been a heckuvayear and we're grateful we've been given this opportunity ... and I'm grateful I have a husband who's willing to work 60 hours a week to make it happen.

In typical Carolyn fashion, I've accumulated pages of notes and thoughts from our travels and some pretty crazy tales to share (caught in the worst storm of our lives, lost in Tuscany! on bikes!). And they'll make it to the page ... err blog ... eventually. But until then, I had a little fun going through old photos and finally putting these crazy stats together we've been tracking since the first flight last May.

Let's do the numbers!

Friday, November 29, 2013

The After-Thanksgiving [E+C Blog] Special


When you grow up in a different time zone than your cousins and grandparents, attend a college that's a 21-hour drive from your home town, watch your sisters settle down in three separate states, marry someone from a state that makes hot dishes instead of casseroles requires a plane ticket home, and spend more time interacting via technology than you do face-to-face, you learn that distance does not always dampen a relationship.




In fact, living with family spread across the country has its advantages. Most recently, I've discovered that it provides us unique opportunities to gather together in unusual combinations of "mico-families." Just this last weekend I had lunch at the airport with my grandma from South Dakota, my Minnesota-based aunt, and my uncle from South Dakota and his daughter - but not her siblings. We were all missing people from our immediate family unit, and I'm sure the thought crossed all of our minds that we'll likely never be together with that specific group of people again. But it was fun, and I'm grateful for long layovers and that my family takes advantage of these little opportunities to stay connected.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Notes from C: November 2013


It's been a while since I've made a post inspired by the little notebook I carry around with me. I think I'm rather seasonal in my creativity and thinking and am drawn to these types of ponderings in the colder months. And colder it is, at least here in Minnesota. Saturday morning at 8am Evan and I, along with his sister and brother-in-law, were at the starting line to our Turkey Trot ... with temperatures just reaching 4 degrees. Lesson learned: if you only wear one layer of winter running tights you will be nursing your numb legs back to health for a good half day. Also, chicken noodle soup is a necessary post-race treat.


As I was saying, the change of seasons feeds my creativity, and fall is the start of my new creative year. To be more precise, it's actually the weeks that follow those colorful peak days that are my favorite of all. Yup, call me weird, but I like to watch the colors gradually fade, when the textures and patterns of tree branches become the main attraction, and the entire landscape settles into one of muddied, muted tones, contrast and mystery. Give me a quiet, chilly scene and top it off with a vibrant sunset that only November can produce and my mind is more alive than on a sunny day in July. Only when it gets cooler and the world begins to turn inward do I have access to those scenes and thoughts.

This time of fall makes me want to be a painter, so I can capture every blurry smudge of color, the long brush strokes of branches, the texture. It's past the peak, the "show" is over, but life continues on. Trees don't wear life solely in their branches; their life is within, calm, steadfast, determined ... resilient. I think this is why I love the coming of winter. It strips away your "accessories" and shows who you truly are. There is less of life around, but the life that remains is persistent and true.

Wouldn't it be nice if we saw aging like this too? Where "past-your-peak beauty" was more striking than prime-time youthful beauty? Wrinkles are just life's way of adding more contrast, texture, shadows ... I'll try and remember that.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Jet-lagged in Pisa

Everyone will tell you not to go to Pisa. There's nothing but an underwhelming tilted bell tower packed in with tourists and trinket carts bent on selling yet another leaning-tower key chain (which, as it turns out, you can purchase at any other city or tourist trap throughout all of Italy). While there is some truth to this, and there are far more impressive sights in nearby Florence and the Cinque Terre, do not cross Pisa off your list just yet. No, do not overlook this under-appreciated city nestled between its far more glamorous neighbors. In fact, a brief visit to Pisa might be just what you need.


Pisa is like the training wheels of Italy; it's the perfect city to get oriented to the culture, comfortable with the maps, and most importantly - to recover from jet lag.

If you're anything like us, you'll fly across the pond from the U.S. with too much excitement for your upcoming adventure to get a wink of sleep. (It doesn't help when you're flying first class for the first time!)






You'll touch down at 7 a.m. Pisa time, which will feel like the middle of the night to your eyes. After a quick outfit change and brush up in the bathroom, you'll strap on your money belt, pull out your trusty Rick Steve's travel book, and head outside into the morning light. Since Pisa is a relatively small city, it is quite navigable on foot. If you were arriving during the night you'd probably hail a cab for safety reasons, but walking through the streets in the morning might just be the best way to shake off that it's-the-middle-of-the-night-why-am-I-not-asleep" feeling.


Have you ever arrived in a city at daybreak? If you land in Pisa at 7 a.m. and decide to walk through the streets, you will notice that your rolling suitcase is the loudest sound around. Women will open their green shutters (which you'll soon learn is the color of 99 percent of all shutters in Italy), sweep off their patios, and go back inside to drink their espresso (or so you assume). Cats catch the morning sun on old stone walls and recycling bins sit next to garbage cans on every street corner, because Europeans are organized like that.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Travel Day Preparations

Happy Friday! It was an early start to the day here at the Pierson house. Evan is always an early bird, and has that unusual quality of being the most cheerful version of himself before the sun rises. Seriously, the man tries to rouse me from my slumbers with made-up jingles and random songs, most of which I hear for just a second before diving back under the covers. But today I had the task opportunity to rise and shine with my better half (seriously my much better half at that hour). 

Because there's lots on the agenda today!

1 - Watch this How I Met Your Mother video to get some packing tips:


2 - Remind self to find trusty hand's-free belt satchel

3 - Check the weather for my weekend locale: 



4 - Wake up Mr. Purple



5 - Sketch out a meticulously detailed route to the donut shop. Return route must include stop for first and second and third donut breaks. Don't forget to leave room in carry-on for my stash of buttermilk donuts. And another stash for Mr. P. 

6 - Select airplane reading material 
(I've had this book on my shelf for years and I think it has finally "ripened")

7 - Be a grown-up and get some work done ... trying to do a few hours from home for one job, followed by another few hours on site at my other job 
(okay, so this may actually be the majority of my day. Not as fun to write about though, is it?)

8 - Look at photos of hot air balloons for half an hour to prepare for the big St. Louis hot air balloon festival this weekend. Get sidetracked and start searching for your copy of James and the Giant Peach to see if a peach could ever really fly. 
(but seriously, there's a hot air balloon light show tonight I'm super excited for, if it doesn't get rained out)

9 - Consider aborting plans and flying to NC instead when your sister sends you a photo collage of her new puppy: Alfred Pennyworth. (don't worry Kirst, I'd choose donuts you over a puppy any day)



10 - Check flight loads to see if I will even get on the airplane. 23 seats open on the 3pm, I'm number 9 on the list. Not too shabby. I'll try my chances. 
(But all it takes is one cancelled flight and I'm out of the game! #livingontheedge)

11 - Cross fingers (and toes!)


Wondering how we're flying standby this summer? Read about Evan's job at the airport here.


Summer 2013 Destinations:

Fairbanks, Alaska (I have more to say about this amazing trip!)
New Jersey (and some NYC)St. Louis, Part 1
TO COME: New Jersey, Part 2; North Carolina; Colorado




Saturday, August 31, 2013

Regroup

The best laid plans of mice and men go aft astray ...

I'm sure you've all been there. At the beginning, it seems easy. You're in that morning coffee-high phase where everything is possible. You can get a workout in before work every day, keep up around the house, take on extra freelance work, and travel 90 percent of your summer weekends, all while documenting each adventure on the ol' blog. Well, the run before work was never a part of my game plan and I tried to scale back on the freelance work. But the last one I was really envisioning as a fun summer project where I'd fill ya in on all sorts of travel adventures with witty writing, travel tips and of course some awesome photos.

Since it's Evan's first week back at school as Mr. P-who-teaches-chemis-try, I thought it only fitting that he give me a grade on my attempt: C-

Yup, I only managed to post a handful of times and have way more photos and stories waiting in the wing than I do on the page ... err screen. But maybe that's a good thing? It means I'll have material to fill the space in the coming months and instead of quickly posting about the "whats" of our trip, I can take my time reflecting and weaving together some of my favorite stories: when we happened upon rats in the Mediterranean, (almost) bonded with an Italian girl on the train who knew "cups," experienced a little Italian heat for not finishing our meal, got caught in a (terrifying!) storm while biking (alone!) in Tuscany, walked through olive groves by moonlight, and found an oasis atop the busy streets of Rome.


But for now, I am letting those thoughts and stories germinate while I enjoy a new destination this weekend: home. Yes, it is quite exotic and a place I haven't been in a while. I looked back through my calendar the other day and realized that this will be my third weekend at home since Memorial Day where we don't have company or some other major social event - and those other two days were way back in June. So as you can imagine, I'm spending the weekend getting the house back in shape*, going on a run, and maybe, if I get to it, sorting through some travel photos.


It's interesting how a bit of travel really changes your perspective on things. Yes, flying can be glamorous but most often it is not. Besides the fact that tickets cost a fortune, the act of traveling via airplane is pretty much the same as traveling by an other means: it's just transportation. Point A to point B. Whether you're in a car, plane, bus or train, luggage needs to be loaded, you have to wait to board, sometimes the air doesn't work, you get hungry, have to wait to use the bathroom, and there are inevitable delays.


When you fly standby you are privy to a peak behind the scenes that unmask the illusion of luxury; traveling is just a numbers game. Pilots traveling as passengers hop into jump seats so that you can get on the plane (like when your friend in college rides on the floor so you can all make it to Mall of America in the same car). You follow the stats online religiously for weeks prior to departure, tracking as the open seats fluctuate. And sometimes, when those numbers don't work quite in your favor, you get left behind.

If this guy hadn't come running to the gate I would've made it on!

Of course this doesn't mean we don't appreciate this lovely little travel situation we find ourselves in these days. It's just fun, especially for someone who already ponders things while flying, to have new thoughts to think on.


And now, I'm off to unwind the way most normal people do - with a movie and a fried egg. What? You don't eat fried eggs every night? It's kind of my MVP of night-time snacks.

* In typical E+C fashion, "getting the house back in shape" involves a little more than laundry and groceries (although those are begging for attention too!). 
Here is what the office looks like right now:


And the walls of our upstairs:



Oh, house projects, how I've missed thee. It sure feels good to be grounded for a bit!




Wondering how we're flying standby this summer? Read about Evan's job at the airport here.


Summer 2013 Destinations:
Fairbanks, Alaska (I have more to say about this amazing trip!)
New Jersey (and some NYC)
St. Louis
TO COME: New Jersey, Part 2; North Carolina; Colorado


Monday, July 29, 2013

E+C Tour Italy

Last night I dreamt I was in a castle, and when I awoke in search of the bathroom I could have sworn the hallway was made of stone. The night before, when Evan came home after I'd gone to bed I thought he was a Roman, come to steal me away. Apparently this is what it means to be suffering from jet lag, or else withdrawal from a wonderful vacation in Italy.


You see, for the last two weeks, Evan and I have been off on adventures abroad. In Italy, to be precise. The land where gelato is your daily vitamin, Duomos (cathedrals) sit majestically in every city, and where ruins of times long ago have become part of the landscape. Where cats congregate in Roman parks (we counted 15+ once!) and sleep in the corner of outdoor restaurants, but unlike strays in other countries, these Italian felines look well-fed and cared for, a true testament of Italian culinary habits. We soon learned that in Italy it is not acceptable to leave a meal unfinished, that a quiet night is a rarity, and that trains are the most efficient and economical means of transportation - and quite fun if you enjoy the sensation of being hurled towards the center of the earth. In Italy, old-fashioned leather shoemakers still exist, hog's heads can be found in street markets, you can rent a bike in almost any city, and brioche (pastry) is the new breakfast.

Of course it's easy to romanticize a trip, especially through photos that neglect to show the burdens of travel. The blistered feet when someone forgets to bring close-toed shoes, the soggy shoes when the other person neglects to bring waterproof shoes, the bruises and scrapes from a fallen bike and wheeling your carry-on down cobblestone streets only two-feet wide, the unpleasant smells of a country unaccustomed to the practice of deodorant (and the reality of living out of a carry-on for ten days), the blurry-eyed first day of jet-lag in a (hot!) foreign city, squabbles over who controls the map, and the added stress of not knowing if you will make it home.


See that last part is the reality of non-rev travel, which we've had the privilege of using all summer long. Sure, it's thrilling knowing you can jet-off almost anywhere on a moment's notice, but it is far less than thrilling when your return flight is over-booked by five, you are number 15 on the waiting list and you need to come up with an alternate plan that may involve an overnight train and giving up your comfy hotel room - true story. (With the right mindset this is also part of the "fun" part, but the right mindset is key!) Of course I can't forget to mention that Evan worked his butt off to make this trip happen. Although throwing bags at the airport ranks high on E's list of fun activities, it is no walk in the park. He's had to deal with predawn wakeups, back-to-back shifts, and cranky pilots (cool ones too!). His summer schedule has him working every Thursday through Saturday, so in order to take this vacation he had to trade away a bunch of shifts, and since no one wants to pick up a weekend shift, he often ended up working two in place of his one (or on the 4th of July) to get those days off. So as a preface to my forthcoming posts on our Italian adventures, I want to emphasize that photos don't tell the whole story, and that my photos and tales are not meant to trigger jealousy or any other feelings social media tends to feed. I simply love sharing our experience and find joy in the act of storytelling.

So, let's begin!

At the top of this post is a map showing our path through Italy. When Evan signed on to the airlines earlier this spring, we knew we wanted to go somewhere abroad to fully take advantage of his benefits. Let's be honest, there would have been no Italy trip whatsoever had we not had these perks, so that's precisely the type of trip we wanted to take. Italy was on the top of our list because there are so many different areas one can visit in such close proximity - and the flight loads looked pretty good with multiple airport options (which is essential when flying standby). And who doesn't want to go to Italy? We really only began planning in earnest a couple of weeks before departure, and we booked all of our B&B and hotels just one week before we left. For such last-minute planning, we really are quite proud of how prepared we were - we even purchased our train tickets ahead of time (the main ones anyway), so as to save time and hassle in the stations later, and exchanged some $ at our trusty bank. Most of our planning is thanks to Rick Steves and his wonderful guidance in Italy 2013, which we borrowed from the library of course.

OUR FINAL ITINERARY:
1 - Pisa, because the plane was practically empty, and the city is quite manageable in size and thus easy to navigate when struggling with some jet lag. Lucca was a short train ride away and perfect for an evening bike ride and dinner. It's a small old town with a wall around it, so the bikers and pedestrians far out-number the automobiles.
2 - Cinque Terre (Riomaggiore is where we stayed) because it's awesome. Nothing else like it. Google it and you'll understand why.
3 - Florence, for the art, history and food (our favorite food was in Florence). Fiesole because it was a quieter place to stay, overlooking "Firenze" (Florence).
4 - Orvieto, because it was right off the rail line and is older than Rome! A quiet break before the noisy streets of Roma.
5 - Rome, because going to Italy without roaming around Rome just seemed silly. And there were lots of flights heading back to the states so it seemed like a natural place to end the trip.

We stayed at a few Airbnb.com places, one bedandbreakfast.com, and one straight up hotel purchased through LivingSocial. I'll go more in depth on these in a future post. For now I'll just say that we loved our variety of "hotel" experiences as they let us talk to locals and save a little money (except for in Rome). We're kind of frugal travelers, and get a thrill out of staying on a budget.


I'll leave you for now with a quick list of the top things we'll miss about Italy. And to be fair, I'll also include what we missed most about the U.S. Turns out a 10 day trip is pretty much our sweet spot, so we're glad we didn't get stuck in Rome for another day or two (although we almost did!).

Now if you'll excuse me. I'm off to rest up and begin the daunting tasks of editing 1300+ photos! I'll be back shortly with a quick post that will likely be titled "Piersons in Pisa."

Things We’ll Miss About Italy
-Brioche (chocolate croissants!)
-Good public transportation
-Our daily gelato
-Duomos in every town
-The history, around every turn. Always something to learn/explore
-The amaaaaazing pucker lemoni granita in Corniglia (Cinque Terre)
-Bonding with strangers just because we speak the same language
-Talking with local Italians who don’t understand a lick of English, and those who do.
-Reading maps - a new one in every town/museum/station!
-Swimming at the Radisson Blu, overlooking the busy streets of Rome. Most refreshing pool ever. Like a sauna and Lake Superior all rolled into one.



Things We Missed about the U.S.
-Free water at restaurants (or anywhere!)
-Free bathrooms (although we were stubborn and never once used a pay toilette)
-Cheaper food ($ not quality)
-Balanced/Complete breakfasts (brioche was tasty but doesn’t fill you up for long!)
-Earlier dinners (their time frame messed with my desire to be out walking during sunset after dinner)
-Variety of food (kind of sick of carbs, not gonna lie)
-Quiet nights/uninterrupted sleep
-Smoke-free air
-Knowing how to order a meal without feeling foolish



Wondering how we're flying standby this summer? Read about Evan's job at the airport here.


Summer 2013 Destinations:
Fairbanks, Alaska (I have another post about Alaska coming soon!)
New Jersey (and some NYC)
St. Louis
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