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So I know I mentioned (I think in the protected post, but this part was not the reason it was protected) that my friend is getting married in California and we were trying to figure out how to go there, go on vacation, etc…yes.  In the absence of airline points or miles, cause we…spent ours.

So we worked hard at figuring out where to go.  (It also turned out that our wedding anniversary is March 19th, the wedding is March 28th, and my spring break – gotta love the vestiges of undergraduate education – is that intervening week.)  We had many ideas, which I will not dredge up here, because it is honestl not so interesting.

Our ideal location had to have:  a) a range of food options, because I am the pickiest person on the face of the planet these days, and I will be 16 weeks, so not necessarily in the “I’m so happy to be preggers” zone, although I have been told by many people that I will be giddy by that stage, b)  mountains, and c) other entertainment, in case I am hurling and I cannot do much except walk around and eat.

So we chose…drumroll…Las Vegas!  I know, you are all laughing right now.  Stop!  I have never gambled a dime in my life (I’ve never been to Vegas) and the only time DB was there, he bought $3 of tokens or whatever, spent $2, and kept one as a souvenir.  We are not exactly the prototypes to help the City of Sin deal with the time’s economic woes.

BUT!  It has mountains, and hiking, and we can even drive to the Grand Canyon if we are up for the (rather long) drive.  And it has comedy shows.  And FOOD!  There is food EVERYwhere, apparently, including In-N-Out, which bodes well for my gut.

So…that’s our little vacation.  Then we’ll be driving back to So. Cal to see friends and see Christine get married!!!  I am so happy for her and I was really not sure if we could make the trip, but we are thrilled to be able to share in this occasion with her.  I met Christine at a World Relief meeting last year, and she has inspired me in so many ways over the last year.  We’ve worked together on a project and talked about so much more than public health.  It is such an honor to be able to share their wedding day with them.

Suffice it to say, it has been a great weekend.

In other news, I am also supposed to go to China with our church – actually, it is a small group going, and I am one of not-very-many – in, um, April.  Without DB.  I will be 21 weeks at that point, and I have been grappling with whether it is a good idea.  I am torn between really, really, really wanting to go and thinking that it, honestly, is a terrible idea.  It is a one-week trip that I have known about for about a year.  We need to tell the Chinese government our names (to procure the visas – the trip is with the official Chinese church but it is under very strict observation) by the end of the week.  I am torn.  Torn.

OK, back to physics.  Today was not the greatest day for the stomach.  I decided that a burger and fries sounded like a phenomenal meal, and my stomach did not agree. Lots of physics to do to compensate for the hours spent in the fetal position this afternoon.  Oops.

So…my question for you is…Vegas? The non-gambling side (which appears to be substantial)?  Anyone have any suggestions, ideas, must-see?  We plan to go to Red Rocks, and Zion, and find some sort of comedy show, and eat.  So any suggestions, we would be PSYCHED.  We’ll even take pictures and post them!  🙂

And if you are in the So Cal area, let us know!

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Among other news.

If you didn’t read my comment to my commenters, he DID try to sneak another visit to the litter box yesterday afternoon while I was cleaning, BUT I redirected that effort…very quickly. We haven’t revisited the behavior since.

In other news from my couch, I am rapidly finishing my CEUs for my profession. They are insanely easy and I am beginning to wonder if ALL CEUs for my profession are this easy, or I just picked the jackpot. I have been dreading this for the last few weeks (when I’ve known I need to do them) and I must say, I’m pleasantly surprised. I don’t feel like my education is being continued, but…it sure beats sitting in a classroom for 8 hours (and paying $500 to do it). Go ahead, ask me anything about various mental health diagnoses. (I especially liked the one about autism spectrum disorders. I started with that one as a warm-up. It made me feel really smart.)

(The only reason I say this, for anyone who randomly surfed here, is that that is my JOB. If I couldn’t pass that, I’d be in deep trouble.)

I have lots of deep thoughts rumbling around in my brain, but I can’t really articulate them.

This past weekend, we went to California. We had a CRAZY trip: we flew into SFO, rented a (tiny, golf-cart-sized) convertible:

Then we ate at the In-N-Out.


Then we drove to Yosemite (est. time: 4 hours. Actual time: 7 hours):

Camped in a tent-cabin:

Then mailed BACK our sleeping bags and dirty laundry (best $40 ever. spent. EVER. That car was SO DAMN SMALL!!!!) Although it was a little insane, it worked out well. 🙂

Then we went hiking:

And saw some nature:

(None of these people are us.  We are in other pictures that will be revealed in due time under a password.)

And we visited the site of DB’s 2001 brush with death, when he defied this sign:

(My feet, when DB was doing a re-enactment…photographing the re-enactment required the removal of footwear.)

After hiking and seeing big trees, we headed back to San Fran:

In San Fran, we saw some seals (DB imitated them with scary accuracy):

And some obligatory landmarks:

And then flew home.

It was a great two days. 🙂

And now we are home, and doing CEUs!

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I’m still composing the political post in my head. So much to say, but I will say – the press is doing a great job jumping all over it. I have more to say, from my own (worthless) personal perspective, but I think the camping post is more helpful.

So before we went camping, we did all sorts of internet research. There is a DEARTH of good tent camping information for clueless people! We did not want information on how to set up a tent or whittle wood, but we did want good information how to not die. Since we succeeded at not dying once (for two WHOLE NIGHTS), I am going to impart my new knowledge to you. You’re welcome. 🙂 (And if you have any additional helpful hints, please do stick them here. Thanks!)

1) This is actually posted lots of places, but it is very good advice. LEARN HOW TO SET UP THE TENT BEFORE LEAVING. We didn’t get in to the campsite until way, way, way after dark, and MAN was it dark, and we were so thankful that we had actually taken the time to practice tent set-up that morning. (Plus, we have this insanely complicated tent.) You will preserve marital harmony if you know what you are doing, AND you will not start off your trip looking stupid. (We waited until the next morning to showcase our ineptitude.)

(That’s me in the tent. See how massive it is?!?)

1b) A ground cover is a Really Good Thing. (See the brown thing underneath the tent?) We purchased ours at a big-box hardware store.

2) Bring lots of food that does not require cooking! We did that, but we also totally destroyed the bulk of our food, so it was very depressing. Being able to make a meal out of non-cooked food will make you very happy if you happen to oh, say, botch your meal(s). (More later.)

3) Bring more than one light. You know those lanterns at Target for camping? We sat in Target, on the way to the campground, debating between one (DB, who tends to be cheap and minimalistic) and two (me, who tends to be cheap but practical! Ha! DB says this is my blog and I’m not supposed to talk about him, so I am going to be a little generous evaluating my spending practices. Ha!) I yielded to DB, and we sat in the dark. In all fairness to him, he said we should have bought two (he said this when we were sitting in the dark, though).

Take it to heart: you will be very happy with at least two lanterns. It is REALLY DARK out there in “nature”.

4) Those headlights are awesome. See #3.

5) A flashlight that does not stay on for a long time is pretty much useless (aka the tactical flashlight DB got as part of his survival gear for war-zone country. Yeah, it’s great at lighting up stuff, but it’s supposed to be a “flash-and-turn-off” kind of thing. Worthless.)

6) Bring lots of bug repellent. Those hankerchiefs that are treated with permethrin did an awesome job of keeping bugs away – DB refused to use one, but I had one around my neck all the time. When I took it off, the bugs swarmed. I don’t get paid for this, but I’m telling you – they’re awesome. You can also just buy permethrin and treat your own clothes, but I was lazy.

7) It gets hotter than hell in that tent. I don’t know how great tent fans are, but man, if they worked…it sure would be nice! Although then I talked to a guy this morning (at the dog park) who said that they went camping in the desert and it was freezing cold, so I think the take-home message is bring lots of options: warm clothes and layers for cold, tank tops and shorts to sleep in if it’s hot, and lots, and lots, and lots, and LOTS of bug repellent with a good amount of DEET in it (because all of that exposed skin and bugs? Bad, bad, bad, bad idea.) (And if you’re uncomfortable with the notion of inhaling DEET while you sleep, contemplate Lyme disease or West Nile virus, and I guarantee the idea of a little DEET inhalation will become much more attractive.)

8) OK, cooking. We ended up going to MacDonald’s (horror of horrors) because we were so hungry and we had so badly sabotaged our meal! We did not think we needed a camp stove. We found this website and figured we could not go wrong.

You can definitely go wrong.

We stuck the foil in the campfire, as billed, and waited for culinary delights to emerge. And, oh, emerge, they did:

Apparently the melting point of aluminum is far below the temperature of a campfire. DB said that as soon as he plopped the foil packet in the fire, it melted away the foil. I can’t show the picture of DB tasting the foil-seasoned food, but I’m sure you can imagine…yeah.

Intimacy and nature and food:

Eating bad food did not do great things for our sex life. Behold! (Prudish people, avert your eyes…)

(If you aren’t giggling now, I’m sorry to have offended you. Honestly, I am normally more mature than that, but I just couldn’t…pass…up…the opportunity.)

(To clarify, I have absolutely no idea how DB or my brother could have done this to a poor little hot dog.)

The one thing we did make that was reasonably successful was this:

(Yes, it’s Jiffy Pop!)

And this:

(This is a donut-come-pineapple-upside-down-cake. It was GOOD.)

And that’s because the fire had died down and we placed it on a flat piece of metal OVER the fire (aka the grill. That we had previously categorized as extraneous and unnecessary for our cooking.)

Thwarted by our own cooking skills, we ended up at McDonalds. So sad!

Moral of the story: Those camp stoves are a Really Good Idea. The little partridge family next to us (hard-core campers who clearly had a clue) had a little camp stove, and they were enjoying all sorts of yummy-looking (and -smelling) food.

9) We also brought Little, our massive Giant Schnauzer who apparently has opinions about everything. Although he had a blast in the beginning, eating s’mores (just the marshmallows):

Swimming in the water:

And sleeping in the tent:

He decided that he was probably done with camping around the time that we were packing. He jumped in the car:

And…refused to get out.

I threw a stick for him (it’s a fake stick) – he ran out, retrieved it, and returned to his spot on the van floor!

So the upshot…

Camping again? Yes, once more. We are going to try to go in October when there are fewer bugs and it’s cold outside. Being cold isn’t too much of a concern since we sleep all attached together and Little has recently decided that the ONLY way to sleep is to spoon with…us. So October leaves, here we come.

If it sucks, it’s back to hotels forever.

There are a lot of exciting things going on in the world of Rachel and DB.

First, we are not in our home city. That in itself is a huge thrill, since I hadn’t really left it since March (and I am not the kind of person who likes being in one place for a long time). (And I think of March – August as a REALLY long time.) Little, DB, and I are hanging out in our nation’s capital for the week (well, DB is working). I am finding ways to procrastinate even without course work – I’m a rock. star. of procrastination.

Little is getting groomed today. Hallelujah! He doesn’t shed, so he gets pretty shaggy. He usually wait until the last possible second, but this time we’re doing it a little ahead of schedule because….

We’re going camping!!!

And he (Little) is black, and gets lots of ticks here, and I want to be able to find them through his thick coat. So off with it, today.

Camping!! is a big excitement. I have this insanely romantic expectation for camping (!!). It includes sleeping bundled in a sleeping bag, looking up through the tent at stars, making very yummy s’mores (this is especially exciting, since I was a vegetarian for so long and just recently started eating meat. Marshmallows are not vegetarian, so it was always a little sad when I ate marshmallow fluff and everyone else got yummy, gooey, marshmallows…yum), and looking up and seeing stars. Lots and lots of stars.

Notice that I did not talk about bugs, how we will set UP the tent, just how wet we might be if it RAINS through our lovely screen roof, or anything remotely negative. You see, I have an entirely idealistic and naive view of camping. The last time I went camping was…drumroll…

Well, I went winter camping in the UP of Michigan a few years ago with juvenile offenders. That doesn’t count because it was friggin’ FREEZING and one of us had to stay up all night to watch the kids. (Note: no bugs. Nothing can live a happy life in that kind of cold.)

Before that, I went to girl scout camp, ate PB&J, and drank bug juice. That doesn’t count because…well, it doesn’t. I don’t really remember the bugs but I do remember the massive spider in the corner that I spent a full night watching in mortal fear that it might jump and eat me, or worse, jump into my mouth and I would SWALLOW IT. (I actually did not know that was a myth until I googled it now.)

And, before that, when I was 6 or 7, my family went to Jellystone Park and I got pinkeye. And really, all I remember from that trip was screaming and hollering while my poor parents tried to get the goopy antibiotics into my eyes.

Oh, wait, and there was the time that I went to Girl Scout camp in England (I lived in in England – no, I wasn’t some sort of Girl Scout freak that traveled the world and sought out new Girl Scouts to befriend. And in England, they are called Girl Guides, but I was an American so we had Girl Scouts with other little American girls) and we stayed in cabins (thus making this not count, either) and we went swimming and it was, like, 40*F and we wanted to dry out our bathing suits so we put them on the ELECTRIC HEATER IN THE ROOM. And the result was exactly what you’d expect. I don’t remember any huge fall-out from it, so I guess the fire was small, but that was not my best, shiningest moment.

And THAT is all of my camping experience.

Undeterred, of course, I think I’ve found the best thing ever. When DB and I were trying to figure out how to go on vacation while spending as little money as possible, we realized that camping would be cheap, especially since we have this gargantuan mansion-tent (it is a really long story as to how we obtained this tent, and it’s not all that interesting. Just suffice it to say that we suck at returning things and it was the tent that my brother and SIL registered for, and we underestimated my ability to fly to Texas with it). But then we started wondering – what on Earth to people DO when they camp? Everything we’d ever heard of people doing (eating, singing kumbayah, sleeping) takes place at night. So what do you do during the day?

We were so excited to find this, until we actually read it (it must be directed to a different crowd…right?).

So what do YOU do during camping, aside from hatchet throwing or wood carvings? (C’mon, admit it, you know you do. And we are already purchasing our rope for knot-tying practice.) And while you’re at it, what do you eat? I do not eat any meat other than the ground-up beef kind, and we have no cooking supplies so ideally, every meal will require a fire and foil. Not kidding. Any recommendations? Otherwise we might be eating a whole lot of s’mores, and we’re bringing my youngest, largest, hungriest brother with us. 🙂 To kill the spiders, of course.


P.S. We’re going to a place with hiking and a beach, so we figure if we get bored with the lean-to building, we can always check those out, right?

P.P.S. Tomorrow is my self-imposed decision deadline. Check back then for updates! We are going out for a nice dinner to celebrate the decision…because just making the decision is a Big Huge Deal.


Originally uploaded by res4j

And….check out these monkeys in Cambodia! You have to wait until the very very end to see them jump off (and when we turned the camera off, they ALL started diving in, one after another).

These monkeys made my day then, and they’re making my day now. The voices you hear in the background are me (trying to convince my friend to keep videotaping in the hopes that they’ll start diving) and my friend, Jen (R…of like 12 Jens I am very happy to call my friends. If your name is Jen, chances are, we’ll be friends) about whether to keep taping.

DB and I went to Cambodia with our church on a missions trip last summer. We worked with World Relief. If you’re interested in the phenomenal work that World Relief does, please ask!!

Flickr is now pretty much sanitized, I think. Feel free to check it out. I’ll also un-protect the previous post; just keep in mind that we aren’t evil, Little had just come in from outside, and although he might look annoyed, he actually was having fun.

P.S. I feel very stupid. You have to click the little thing that says “100_1826” to see the link. If anyone can educate me on how to insert a real video, I’d be forever grateful. All of my videos are too big for youtube and I am apparently not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

I also have an assignment due in 3.5 hours, which means messing-around-with-flickr time is over.

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So my plans for an awesome trip report are on hold for a bit while I fight this absolutely disgusting cough I developed somewhere between St. Kitts and here. We had a crazy trip back from St. Kitts, thanks to American Airlines, the airport staff, and some truly obnoxious New Jersey folks. It was an absolutely wonderful vacation but the ending was unfortunate. HOWEVER, I am happy to report that despite leaving late (because the ground crew randomly assigned people to rows, including putting a 10-year old in the EXIT ROW, causing mass hysteria and mayhem on board – seriously, how OLD are we people?!? It was a lot like watching little kids say “moooooom, she’s touching meeeeee!” to the flight attendants – “But ma’aaaaaaam, she’s in my seat!!”), having to stop for gas in San Juan, Puerto Rico for (ahem) TWO hours (seriously?!?), and sprinting through JFK airport to get our connecting flight home, we MADE it. I was NOT going to let AA take my flight home. Ha!! But I think the long day and the crazy sprint potentially aggravated my hack.

While you’re here and bemoaning the lack of my updates, please check out my friend Katie’s blog. We went to middle school and high school (Katie, was it high school?) together in London, and although she’s super outdoorsy and lives in Colorado, she’s never road biked before. So, she’s trying her hand at biking in a 545-mile bike ride for HIV/AIDS (AIDS/Lifecycle). Just in case the link doesn’t work, here it is again: Check it out! She enjoys blogging almost as much as I do!

Here are some pictures of our time on the island. As I mentioned before, the next ones will be password-protected. I just don’t have the energy now to offer much in the way of commentary!

We called St Kitts the drumstick; here’s DB pointing to what we called the neck (don’t ask. It is an incredibly poor analogy, and yes, we know that drumsticks don’t have necks):


This is our view from the beach. Notice: NO PEOPLE!!! It was heaven. (Not that I’m a recluse, but it was perfect for what we wanted: a place to spend a few days together before DB leaves for 3 months):


Well…we did share the beach a little bit:


And one day we took a drive around the entire island. Here are some shots:


And we were particularly obsessed with this sign. Don’t you think Bush (or Cheney – or maybe McCain) would LOVE to put this everywhere in the U.S.?!?!?


OK, check Katie’s blog, and I’ll write more later after my hack goes away (this took a few hours to write)!

So I guess Friday, March 7, was a big day in blogland for my blog. I get a little graph that tells me who has been looking at my blog, and I got a LOT of hits that day. Hi whoever you are!

For some reason, DB was very concerned that I would be sharing exciting and personal things about us on this blog, and he was particularly concerned that you’d find out secret things about the FBI. I have *no* idea where I’d get this information. For instance, check out our most recent (last night) conversation:

Him: Hi hon, how was your day?

Me: Oh, not bad. I went to class and it was really boring so I surfed the web [yes, this is true and it’s the first time all semester that I’ve done it but I still feel guilty] and then I went to work and that was okay but it was a lot of information and then I got stuck on the [public transit system] because the d*mn line was down and then I went to class and PHEW, I still made it, even though I had to go all over town just to make it to [the other campus]! And then I went to the computer lab to reprogram my SAS code [because I deleted it yesterday accidentally – I cried] and I have to say, this one looks way prettier than the first one, so I guess it’s good that I had to do it again.

How was your day?

Him: Good.

Me: What did you do?

Him: Not much. Did some paperwork, drove around, talked to people.

Me: Where did you talk to people?

Him: Around.

I could continue here, but I’d lose the two of you that are actually reading.

And it’s not just because he’s a guy, either, for those of you who might be thinking that. Oh, no. If he’s cleaned the closets or put up shelves or installed a light somewhere, I get a painstaking blow-by-blow of his day. But with his job, there are Rules, and DB is a Rule Follower. The Rule appears to be: You Must Not Tell Your Spouse Anything About What You Do. Because I actually KNOW where he went to “talk to people”: he purchased a $0.99 pack of gum at the local drugstore and CHARGED it. Stealth? No. But Rule Follower? Oh, yes…

…With the sole exception of the picture below. (Others who might be Rule Followers, watch out. This one really pushes the limits):


Oh, yeah, that’s him, entering the NON-TOURIST SECTION on the Great Wall of China. So we know that at least in one situation, he breaks the rules. But I’m telling you, this is the only one I’ve seen him break (and lest you think he’s gone nuts, people break this one all.the.time. It’s like a feat for people to climb the Wall from one end to the other, and only small parts of it have been refurbished or whatever so people can hike it more safely).