August 31, 2012

I Get So Emotional, Baby (RIP Whitney)

Let me just tell you about the past 10 (or so) years of my life. I'm 29 now, so what I'm saying is - let me tell you about my adulthood. (It's a good thing I get to share this with you from behind my computer screen and not in a live monologue or something, because I'm already crying. You're welcome.)

Here I am, barely 18,
fresh-faced and wrinkle-free
I graduated from high school in 2001 and, just a few weeks after I moved into my college dorm room, 9/11 happened...rough entry to adulthood, huh? I tend to think about people my age as different from those even a few years older than me. We're the first group to only have a post-9/11 adulthood. I wonder what that means about us.

August 29, 2012

This Is Really Happening...

We've had our going away party. I've had freak outs. I've cancelled the Internet and handled our finances. Friends are rifling through our refrigerated/frozen/dry goods (which I call the Swain Market). I only have a few more boxes to pack. The storage pod gets delivered tomorrow. We hand over the keys to our subletter on Friday. We leave on Sunday morning. The U.S. portion of The Trip is about to begin. This is really happening.

And this is what my living room looks like.

Sorry posts have been light the past week or so. I'm dealing with all the final details and I think my head might explode. Tom had his first "holy crap" moment today, which felt oddly comforting since I've been having one long "holy crap" moment for the past 2 weeks. It's about time he joined me.

I'll try to get another post up before we leave. And, if not, I'll talk to you from the road. Wow.

I'm so, so, SO excited. I can't even explain it. Wow.

August 23, 2012


As our days in San Francisco wind down, I have to admit that I'm freaking out a little bit. I can hardly fathom the thought that we're heading out in just 10 days to begin our adventure. I'm completely preoccupied with thoughts of what the next year of my life will be like because it's right around the corner and I have no idea what to expect.

ooh la la!
I'm in the process of packing our apartment up and it's really hitting me - I'm giving up the concept of "home" for more than a year. And that's scary.

The other day, I was making coffee. Almost every morning, I have coffee from the same coffee mug. I love these mugs. They're Ittala's Taika mug in white. Every day, using this coffee mug makes me happy. When I use that mug, it gives me the smallest feeling of comfort and joy. I don't get that feeling with my dinner plates or my couch cushions or many other "things" in our apartment. But I love these coffee mugs. Every time I get one down, I think, "I'm so glad I bought these mugs." And that moment gives me the smallest bit of joy and comfort every day. Recently, it occurred to me that I would be losing that small comfort (and tons of others) for a year. I told Tom about this and he said, "You're going to miss A COFFEE CUP while we're on the trip of a lifetime?" And I said, "Of course not! If you ever hear me actually talking about how much I miss the coffee cup, smack me in the face. What I WILL miss, though, are those small moments of comfort." What if I don't feel like me for an entire year?

I just can't believe that we're leaving in 10 days. You hear people say, all the time, that something is "surreal," and I've said that a number of times in my life also, but I don't think I've ever meant it as much as I do now. I can honestly say that this is a truly bizarre feeling. I'm so excited/nervous/sad/happy and, honestly, it's giving me indigestion. Pile that onto the HUGE list of things I have to do and, well, I've had my share of freak out moments this past week.

Don't get me wrong - I'm still super excited. And I'm, in no way, regretting this decision. But it's almost Go Time and the reality is intense. And the unknown is scary. 

August 21, 2012

A Fight to End PKD

We are a short 12 (TWELVE!!!) days away from beginning our cross-country roadtrip (Part I, Part II,Part III) that precedes our one-way flight to India! Our roadtrip includes a stop in Cleveland to see our friends Emily and Terry. Terry is one of Tom's best friends from college and was even the best man at our wedding. Terry has always been one of my favorite people, so it sweetened our friendship even more when, several years ago, he introduced us to his new girlfriend, Emily. To say that we loved her instantly is no exaggeration. And, just like that, one of our favorite people became one half of one of our favorite couples, and we were thrilled when they got engaged and planned their wedding for October 1, 2011.
Terry and Emily at our wedding

August 17, 2012

100 Wonders of the World

Get ready for an overload of gorgeous. This is a picture-heavy post, but it's getting me SO amped up for our trip!

Several years ago, our awesome and travel-loving friends, Kristy and Dave, gave us one of the most awesome gifts ever when we moved into a new apartment. They gave us this book of 100 Wonders of the World and a personalized stamp that says "Tom & Stephanie Were Here" and a change-able date. So now, when we visit any of the places in the book, we can stamp it with the date that we visited. Awesome, right? It's one of my most favorite gifts ever.

When they first gave it to us, we flipped through to see what places we'd already been to. Tom had been to several of them but, sadly for me, I'd only been to 1 or 2 places. This past week, we flipped through the book an HOLY MOLY - We have the opportunity to visit a ton of these wonders on the trip. We won't be able to take the book and stamp with us, but we're going to keep track of the dates so we can update the book when we get home.

August 15, 2012

The Tom Haul

Last week, I shared the contents of my pack, and I expressed how incredibly over packing our bags I am. This is doubly true because I made most of the decisions regarding Tom's pack, too. This is good for both of us because, if Tom did the packing/planning, the inside of his bag would resemble a junk yard. Soon after we met and started living together, I had to relinquish the top drawer of our dresser and designate it as "Tom's Drawer." It's not for clothes or accessories. It's for crap. Reaching into that drawer could introduce you to a chewed piece of gum, a lost $50 bill, or a sharp poke in the finger from a safety pin. It's not safe. It's not sanitary. It's....Tom's Drawer. (The last few sentences, by the way, were verbalized in my head in Robin Leach's voice and would serve as the introduction to a segment on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous about Tom's eccentric habits of collecting used dental floss.) I'm not a super tidy person, but I desperately need everything to have a place it belongs, so Tom's Drawer gives me anxiety and I try to pretend it doesn't exist (except when I want money, in which case, it's a jackpot).

Just as I spent a lot of time researching for the contents of my bag, I spent a lot of time planning for Tom's bag as well. Each of us is carrying any belongings that are solely our own, as well as quite a bit of "communal" stuff. And here's Tom's bag, dumped out on our living room floor in horrible lighting.

August 13, 2012

Unnecessary Crap and My Life Plan

There have been a zillion things we've been doing to prepare for this trip - boring things that don't deserve their own post. But I thought maybe you'd like to know a few of them anyway. Actually, that's probably not true. You probably don't want to know. But I need to tell you anyway. Some of this stuff is from the To Do List, and some of it's just extra crap that I thought up to make life more complicated.

Somewhere on the Web, I read that it's a good idea to make contact cards for the road. (Once again, the Internet introduces me to brilliance.) I am highly susceptible to influences regarding cuteness and unnecessary crap, so I ordered some, obviously. I have secretly wanted a reason to purchase Moo Cards for a few years now, and this was the perfect excuse.  I had also read that it's a good idea to put your pic on the cards instead of just your info because, after you give your info to some random person you meet on the road, they're going to forget who that email address belongs to. But, with our new snazzy cards, they'll say, "Oh right, this was that awesome American couple we met at the karaoke bar in Bangkok!" I even put the cards in these little self-laminating luggage tags on each of our bags.
Wanna see the cutesy, unnecessary addition to our packs?

Seriously cute and unnecessary, right?

August 10, 2012

For Better or For Worse - Stick a Fork In Me

I can't even tell you how much research I've done on what to pack for this trip. I've scoured the internet, Thorn Tree, and the packing lists of dozens of other backpackers. I've read reviews on Amazon, and Tom and I each tried on 20+ pairs of travel/outdoor pants to compare. We each ordered 4 different pairs of shoes to try out before settling on our final choices. Never in a million years did I think I would hear myself comparing the virtues of various (gasp!) convertible and roll-up waterproof cargos. Only a fanny pack and a set of matching t-shirts separates Tom and I from this:
God Bless America

August 7, 2012

Why Do I Travel? - From The Impatient Traveller

I've mentioned my friend, Stephanie Stokes from The Impatient Traveller (henceforth referred to as Stokes), several times on the blog so far. The reason she gets a lot of airtime here at Loose of Limits is because she's amazing. I'm not just saying that because we went to college together, lived across the hall from each other, think each other is hilarious and share a common moniker. I'm saying it because she is truly a one-of-a-kind gal. Stokes is, like myself, a Missouri gal. She's a school teacher and LOVES it. She's the kind of teacher that cause parents to lobby for getting their kids in her class. She has an infectious interest in everything and, in teaching, has found her passion - something most of us never find in a career. Stokes also has wanderlust. And, until fairly recently, that wanderlust was unexplored. Then, without ever having left the United States before, she took a job teaching at an American school in England. Just like that, her world expanded. These days, she is an exploring fool, hopping around Europe like it's her job (which, sometimes, it is.) This summer, she's taking a break from England and spending time in Barcelona as part of a program with her school. (Read about her background and her new-found passion here: Part I, and Part II.) 

One of our goals in creating this blog was that we wanted our friends and family to see that exploring the world isn't impossible and that there are countless ways of achieving it. I asked Stokes to share some of her experiences and her thoughts on travel, and she has written this amazing (there's that word again) post. I hope you'll find inspiration in her story and begin to think about the best way for YOU to explore. ~ Stephanie

From Stokes:

Why do I travel? 

To gain knowledge. To gain my own independence. To gain perspective. 

Fish Sculpture - Port Olimpic, Barcelona

August 4, 2012

Plugged In, but Checked Out

Remember back in this post when we listed all the electronics and gadgets we were taking on The Trip? We posted this great picture of Inspector Gadget and called him the ancestor of the modern-day San Franciscan?

Go ahead...go back and read it. I'll wait. Need the link again? It's here.

Done yet?

I'll spare you from reading the explanations or rationalization for each product. Instead, I'll just show you some pics of the electronics and tell you what's in the pic. (Sorry for the poor picture quality - taking a picture of your camera means you have to use your phone to take the pic.)

August 2, 2012

A Little Blog-Keeping

A little blog/travel housekeeping (blogkeeping?) for you today.

First - Most of you know I'm not really working right now, so Tom is our one and only breadwinner. He is busting his buns to bring in as much $$$ as possible in this last MONTH (yes, just one month left, as of today) in San Francisco. So, for that reason, the blog is going to be heavy-Stephanie and light-Tom until we take off in early September. It's not that he doesn't have things to's just that he doesn't have time to say them. (More on Tom's job later.)

Also - a few insider tips about the blog (by popular demand).