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Gimmewald, Switzerland

The most beautiful and majestic place we've ever been.

Paris, France

By far Adri's most favorite city and monument.

Istanbul, Turkey

The most culture shock worthy and wonderfully diverse city we know.

Cairo, Egypt

Our craziest, most intense story to date.

31 December 2008

"Fitness Orb"

I was in Wal-Mart the other day and as I was walking around looking at not much I came across a "fitness orb"/exercise ball. It was $10 and I always liked playing with them, but thought maybe I should give the exercise side of it a try as well, so I bought it.

After pumping it up and trying a few things I came to see how well it really does work your muscles. Anyway, suddenly, as I was sitting on it I thought of my favorite clip from The Office. So, for your viewing pleasure and sake of the fact that I just bought one, here is the clip:

30 December 2008

What a holiday!

With presents under the tree and snow on the ground, I just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I got to spend some wonderful time with my parents and my dog this holiday season.  Last time I was home for both holidays was my last year of high school... wow, it's been a while.  Anyway, being home and being able to not have to actually do anything was fantastic.  But, I did end up doing a good bit.  I shoveled the driveway 2 times and put up some cabinets with my dad in the room where we finished laying the floor over Thanksgiving.  I'm becoming quite the handyman I might add.  I had some wonderful conversation with my parents and quite enjoyed my mother's cooking yet again.  With all the good, there was one not so bright spot to my holidays.  The drive home was again long (about 8 hours this time with the weather), and a trip to the median.  If you've never visited the median of a highway, I wouldn't recommend it in 4 feet of snow.  I was driving along doing great, and as I went to pass a semi he drifted into my lane and ran me off the road.  I would have taken pictures of my car out in the median, but considering I would have had to climb out my window and then trudged through the 4 feet of snow somehow to take 1 picture, I didn't think it was worth it.  But, no damage to me or my car.  An hour and a half and $130 later, my car was pulled out and on the road again.  But, all in all, I loved my break and I hope you did too!

18 December 2008

One good-bye means another hello...

Well, today was the final step of my move to Illinois.  Granted I have only been here now for almost 4 months.  Yesterday I went and got my license making me a resident.  Today I registered and titled my car here.  So, it is official... I live in and am a resident of the most corrupt state in the nation.  I feel so privileged.  I just hope it doesn't rub off on me.
As you can see I was quite excited to get rid of my Utah plates and no longer be classified as a Utah driver.  Oh it feels so good!!  Good-bye plates!

15 December 2008

These are the four pictures that will soon adorn the walls of my little apartment. I like the black and white theme as you can see, and I really think that these are good expressions of my style of life and photography.

Apartment update

Well, I've been in Chicago now for 3 and a half months and things are starting to come along in my apartment.  It is starting to turn into a place I live now, at least looks wise.  So, I thought I would give you an update of what it looks like (well, just the living room).  I am still in the process of getting things on the walls and such.  I actually decided to print out 4 of my pictures that I took and like for the wall.  That will be the next post.  For now, here is what it looks like as of today.
Since there weren't any doors on this closet I made it the spot for my TV.  The big wall next to my TV is where the 4 pictures will go.

13 December 2008

My world travels

Well, I have added another stamp to my passport this past week.  Granted it was for business purposes, and it wasn't too far... but international travel is international travel.

I was in Canada, a city called Kitchener.  It is about an hour or so outside Toronto, Ontario.  It was a great trip, although really only work related.  The people were great, I learned some new pronunciations of words that make me laugh, and ate at one of the best restaurants I've ever eaten at (4 times in 5 days isn't bad).

On the way home I sat next to a girl who was flying to Chicago to see her boyfriend.  I asked about how they met and such, and she said it was online.  In fact, she said she knows a number of people who are meeting people online and dating them seriously.  I must be missing out on something then.  She recommended a few sites to me that she hears are popular in Chicago, but I don't think I will actually look into it.  Anyway, as we got onto better topics I found out that she is starting her own jewelry line that should be launching soon.  In listening to her describe it it sounds pretty cool.  It is crazy the people you meet and the things you learn on a plane.  And to think, usually I just listen to my iPod.  Maybe I should be talking more and making more connections.

Back to the note of world travel, I have a new trip that I am starting to plan.  A very good friend of mine from my college years called to tell me that her parents are doing some missionary service in Israel and told her that I need to go visit.  So, she called to tell me all about it and let me know that they really want me to go out and visit them.  Yes, I do know them quite well and was basically a son they never had.  Anyway, so I am starting to plan for this spring/summer.  Does anyone have any suggestions as to good times to go, or good things to see?

30 November 2008

First Thanksgiving at home in 8 years!

I wanted to share a brief part of my Thanksgiving weekend with you.  I haven't been home for Thanksgiving in 8 years.  It just never worked out, and the last 2 years I haven't been home for that or for Christmas.  So, this year is quite the joyous occasion as I get to go home for both!  As a result I wanted to share some of my mini vacation with you.  First, because of commitments to work I wasn't able to leave for home until the day before--which is usually the way it is in the working world, so no big deal.  But, what I wasn't ready for was the traffic.  Normally my drive home is about 5 hours because of traffic in Chicago.  Not this time.  I drove 7 hours because of traffic in Chicago.  So, to give you an idea, see the picture below.
In the red circle on the bottom, that is total time in hours. Notice: 1 hr and 4 min.  In the red circle at top, that is total distance to destination, and then right below total travelled distance.  Notice: 10.32 miles.  Translation, it took me just over an hour to travel 10 miles from my house... ouch!  (side note: that max speed was not my driving, that was with someone else.)
On a brighter note, this is a photo of my neice, Megan.  It took her almost the whole time I was there to lighten up to me, and finally when she did she would whimper some when I wasn't around.  We'll see if she remembers me the next time I see her.  But isn't she cute?!

All in all the holiday time with my family was fantastic (outside of the drive out there).  It was great to see my parents, my sister and her daughter (her husband was away at training for his new job), and my dog.  There is so much to be grateful for in my life, and, even though I complain at times and wonder why things aren't going the way I would like them too--I wouldn't have it any other way.  I have grown in ways I never imagined, learned things that have changed my life, and been a part of things I never thought possible.  What a wonderful life it has been thus far, and I look forward to everything coming in the near and distant future!

14 November 2008

This is by no means all of the pictures that I took while on my trip to Costa Rica, but these are pictures that I think will give you an accurate idea of what I did and saw while on my trip. All in all, it was amazing and I hope to go back. The sights, sounds, tastes and smells were incredible. Definitely an experience I will never forget.

Also, the pictures are in no particular order, so I hope you enjoy them as they show up.

Some of the coolest sunsets I've seen

Jungle river hiking

You gotta love the monkies!

You can't go to Costa Rica without doing some surfing!

P.S. I touched this thing... 17 feet long, and what you see is only the head. According to National Geographic, he is the largest crocodile in Central America.

This was from some exploring on the beach among the rock formations.

You want an adrenaline rush? Trying riding zip lines at 30 mph hanging upside down 200 feet from the ground... call me crazy if you want!

Drinking from the local fruits.

12 November 2008

Tico-land photos and stories are coming...

I just got home from Costa Rica... and what a trip. I need to get my photos up. It wont be all of them because I took 200+, but I will get my favorites up for sure. So look for those in the next few days. Due to needing to catch up with work I can't do it right now. I will get it up though, promise. I just wanted to make the note that they are coming.

30 October 2008

I just thought I would would post a few pics just before I leave from a recent photo adventure I had with a good friend of mine...

This is a warning!

I just wanted to forewarn everyone that reads this blog.  It may not be many of you, but still, consider yourself warned.

Starting this coming Tuesday, November 4th, something will be different for a while.  Blah, blah, blah, the election this and the election that... I know.  But the while is only a week.  What will be different for a week?  The fact that you wont be able to get a hold of me because I am going to be in Costa Rica my friend!!

So, from the 4th until the 11th my phone will be off, I won't be on the internet, and I won't have an address to send letters or anything else to.  And, I could never be more excited to be cut off from the world.  It is going to be great.  I have been looking forward to this for a while now, and I only think in terms of the relation that things have to my trip.  Either they are in connection with it or not, and they are happening either before or after it.  The rest of the details, don't know, and right now I don't really care.  I'll deal with it all when I get back.

So, unless something else comes up and I feel so inclined to post before Tuesday, I'll talk to you when I get back.  There will be pictures to show and stories to tell I am sure!  So be like the Boy Scouts!

19 October 2008

Playing with light

I've been playing with the setting on my camera a lot lately and really trying different things. I have come to find in my photography that I always in corporate different lighting into what I do. Obviously is takes light to take pictures, but I think that most people use light to compliment the scene. They set up the light to get the picture they want. I think that I have been using the scene to compliment the light and set up my scene based on the lighting. So, last night as I was out and about wandering around Evanston, I found this little park with the lighting that I just loved and came out with these pictures.

One of the things I love here is the ghost-like quality of putting myself in the picture, but not for the entire time of the actual shot. I decided to entitle these, "Leaving my mark on the world."

18 October 2008

Blogger composition page

I've decided that I hate the composition page here in Blogger.  And quite honestly, I don't care if they read this and delete the post or get rid of my blog all together.  Here are my complaints, and if anyone knows how to fix this, PLEASE ENLIGHTEN ME...

1. The area that I can use to create and edit a post is way to small.  It is hard to see what you are actually doing without hitting preview 5 bazillion times.

2. You can't pick the spot to upload your pictures.  You put your cursor where you want the picture and hit upload and the picture shows up at the top of the page.

3. When you move pictures around it messes up the format you have already set up for your text.  Then once you get the pictures where you want them and try to fix the text, it messes up the pictures.  If you try to do pictures first, it is a beast to get the text to go where you want it.  It is a never ending circle of frustration.

In all honesty, I am amazed that I have been able to post what I have up to this point.  But for now, I'm going to live with it in hopes that it will change one day, and I will keep on blogging.  In fact, I have 2 posts that I am working on and can't seem to get to be set up the way I want them to be.  I'll keep trying, but for now... I'm out!

12 October 2008

The power of a smart car...

Have you ever googled your own name to see what comes up?  Well, I just did mine and there were 427,000 pages.  Now, of those I am sure I only actually have maybe 2 that are anywhere related to me.  In fact I know of 1 for sure.  The second hit that came up was my facebook profile.  Hmmm... very interesting.

Also, the other day I got hit by one of these...
Yeah, a stupid little Smart Car.  Now, it wasn't like I physically got hit myself, but as I was driving my car I got hit.  **side note: I am sure if it had been my physical being that I would have done more damage to it than it to me**  Anyway, I was stopped behind an SUV and I looked up into my rearview mirror and watched as this little thing came towards me, and not showing any signs of slowing down.  Now, in any normal situation someone's life generally will flash before their eyes thinking they are about to die.  Nope, not this time.  I watched it, said to myself that I was about to get hit, heard screech and bang and almost started laughing.  We pulled off to the side of the road and I got out, looked at my car and there was no damage.  I swear she was going at the car's top speed too--you know, like 10 mph.  I turned to look at this girls car and see if everything was ok and she was stressed out of her mind.  The hood of her car popped completely off.  As she was trying to snap, yes I said snap, the thing back into place I had to ask myself 2 questions.  Did snap tight models invent this car?  And did she buy the thing from Wal-Mart?  After helping her put her hood back on, which I almost grabbed some super glue out of my car to do, and her friend cussing up a storm because she was so surprised that no damage was done, we were on our way.  Disaster averted?  I think not because I don't think those cars could cause a disaster.  But, I got to thinking... maybe we should all be driving smart cars.  Why?  Because you can't go fast enough to do any damage when you hit something, and when you do hit something all you have to do is snap the pieces back on and be on your way.

02 October 2008

1 month in Chicago... what have I learned?

Well, I have been in Chicago now for a month. And as I was reflecting on that I started thinking about what I have done since I have been here and what I have learned. So, I have decided to make a list of those things.

1. It was finally brought into perspective how much I travel and am NOT home. How did this happen? Well, I just finished my first roll of toilet paper since I have been here. The same roll that I put on the thing the first day I moved in.

2. It isn't that you shouldn't talk to strangers, you really just can't. I was on the train one day and talking to my friends. Some lady accidentally bumped into me with her bottle of wine. She politely said she was sorry and then I proceeded to start a conversation. Nothing huge, just asking about her plans for the night since she had the wine. That's when she and everyone else on the train looked at me like I was crazy. I then told her I was new to the area and it was my first time on the train. That's when I got the stink eye and everyone ignored me.

3. People are way too attached to their iPods/MP3 players. I swear, everywhere I look half the people have theirs on. That I understand. But what I don't understand is that I see half the people driving their cars with them on too. Now, call me retarded but doesn't your car have a stereo system in it. And most newer cars (which they are all usually driving) have an auxilary port that you can plug your iPod into. That way you don't look retarded, your music sounds better, and most importantly you can actually hear when there is a cop or ambulance coming down the road behind you. In fact, I think it is even illegal to have your iPod on when you are driving.

4. Unless I am driving for work when my miles are paid for, it is cheaper for me to ride the train everywhere I go instead of driving my car. I can get a metra pass for the weekend for $5 and ride it as much as I want to that weekend. My ticket is paid for in just one trip to downtown and back, plus then I don't have to pay $20-$30 for parking. That's a no-brainer.

5. Buying furniture is a beast. Not only is it stinking expensive, but it is hard to find something you like. I don't know how many counches I have looked at that either didn't come in a color I liked or weren't comfortable. I'm not 50 and looking for flower print or green leather.

6. Chicago has laws about when you can have your heat on... so GAY! I went to my landlord's just yesterday to pay rent and ask how to turn on my heat. They said, "If your heat isn't already on, it's not on. Chicago has laws against when you can have it on anyway." Ok, so it is getting down into the low 50s at night already here, so what law needs to be changed so I can not freeze at night?

All in all, this place is weird... but I love it! As I continue to learn here I will continue to let you know what it is I am learning.

30 September 2008

Weekend with the rents...

So, a few weekends ago my parents were in town. They came to see my new place and spend some time downtown. The last time they were in Chicago was last Christmas and it was too cold to be outside really, so they were excited to be downtown when it was nice out. We took the Metra down and walked around to see a few different things. We saw the Bean and Crown Fountain at Millennium Park, Navy Pier and a few other things along the way. As we were walking we crossed paths with this...
...a "Segway Tour."

Now, I have always made fun of these things, and those that ride them. But, I will admit, that it is a nice way to see a city. It requires less walking obviously, so therefore less energy. And on a hot summer day, that could be pretty nice. But what I don't understand is the helmets. I mean honestly, you go maybe 5 mph tops, so why the helmets? I see people riding through, and against, the crazy downtown traffic at 20 mph on bikes without helmets on. Granted, I don't think that is the smartest thing, but a helmet on a Segway...?! How often do you even hear of someone getting in an accident on one of those things, let alone injuring themselves. I guess you do have those people out there that are so uncoordinated and lacking in the common sense part of life, that when they are on it and it starts to fall over they don't think that if they just step off they will be ok. Hmmm... maybe the helmet is needed then because it seems the only people that do ride those things are those that don't have that kind of common sense and coordination.

26 September 2008

Latest and greatest!

I thought I would put up some of my favorite pictures that I have taken recently.  That's really all this post will be.

I hate vintage door locks

So, I just got back from Greenville, SC last night and got back to my apartment around about 2:00am.  Yeah, late I know.  Anyway, I walked from my car with all my travel stuff, into the building and up 3 flights of stairs to find out that my door did not work properly.  I was able to unlock it, but I was unable to open it.  I tried for a bit but the nob would not turn.  After a couple minutes of trying I thought I would go try the back door.  So I go down the stairs, outside and around the building and then up the back way.  I open the screen door, and start to open the next door but of course I have chain locked this one.  I thought maybe I could undo that if I used a piece of cardboard and bent it around the door so that I could push it as I pulled the door closed to get more slack on the chain, but I was unsuccessful.  Then I thought maybe I could just ram the door down and hit it a few times (but not too hard, more just testing it to see).  Then I decided that if I did hit it harder a few things would happen.  I would wake the neighbors who would call the police and report me as breaking and entering.  I would break the door and then not have any working door at all.  Or I would break my shoulder and not have a working shoulder.  I decided to leave that door, but thought about climbing to one of the windows and trying to jimmy rig that.  Then I remembered that I live on the 3rd floor and decided that I did not want to die, or at least be injured really badly.  So I called the maintenance man who did not answer and I decided to sleep in the car.

In the end the maintenance guy and a locksmith showed up in the morning and cut the chain lock and let me in.  The locksmith then looked at my front door and had no idea what had happened to it, but he fixed it.  So now I have a working vintage door, but I still hate those dang locks.

On a side note, they told me they are going to replace all my windows with new ones, and my new bed is being delivered today!

20 September 2008

Huntington Beach, CA to Chicago, IL... what a ride!

Alright, here is the long awaited story of what happened as I drove from my home in Huntington Beach to my new one in Chicago. Hopefully I remember all the details.

I woke up early Tuesday morning, 26 August 2008, to hit the road. I hadn't planned on moving until the 1st of Sept because I couldn't be in my new place until then. But, due to needs of the company they asked me to move a week early. So, I went all the way to Michigan instead to see my parents and my youngest brother before he went on his mission. As a result of driving the whole time alone I wasn't able to really take my time with pictures, I just had to point and shoot hoping that I would get what I was seeing.Anyway, when you wake up before dawn, forget the butt-crack of it, you don't really see much except the few cars on the road and whatever your headlights will illuminate. Once the sun started coming up I had already been on the road for about an hour or more and this is what I started seeing.

Beautiful sunrises, and yes my GPS ended up in t
he picture.
Mountains and lots of trucks.
After passing through the desert of California and into Nevada, then through Vegas and up into southern Utah (where I saw an In-N-Out in St. George, I was surprised) I thought I was about to die of boredom. There really was just nothing to look at. At that moment I started driving through the eastern side of southern Utah. The landscape was absolutely incredible. The jagged cliffs, red rocks, and random rocks in the middle of nowhere. I see why people visit Moab, Canyons, Zion, Arches, and everything in between. It may be without vegetation, but that doesn't mean it isn't beautiful.

This is at a rest stop that I made at the top of climbing a lot of hills in my car. I don't remember the name of the valley, but I will never forget it. As I stopped and got out I walked around a bit and took about 5-10 minutes to stretch and breathe in the fresh air. As I went back to my car I saw a green liquid that had spilled out onto the ground, not a good sign. I bent down to see if it was still coming, and oh was it ever. I popped the hood to see what was the matter thinking maybe there was a hole or something in the tank for my coolant/anti-freeze. The fluid stopped gushing and as I looked at the tank it was boiling. I let it sit for a bit until it cooled to see how much was in there and it was still about half full, so I called my dad and asked his opinion. I figured that if I drove with the a/c off and was going mainly downhill I would be ok. My dad thought the thermostat was maybe not working properly and with the load that was in my car, the a/c on, and all the climbing I had worked the little guy a bit too hard. I made it to a gas station, double-checked the fluid level and bought some more to put in the tank. From then on I was good to go... or so I thought.

After passing through Utah I entered southwest Colorado and the landscape got even better.

I've always wanted to see a train as it chugs along the mountain side weaving in and out of tunnels cut right out of the store. I wanted to find a place to stop and take a real picture of this so you could see everything, but there was not a place on such a narrow stretch of highway.

I was able to drive through Vail as well and see the ski resorts without snow. They look so funny all barren and people-less. But in my minds eye I saw snow falling and just a wonderful looking place to be. I asked myself in that moment why it was that I was continuing on to Chicago, can't I just stop and be a ski bum? You know, find some job as a liftie and stay there all winter long and work on the river as a rafting guide in the summer.

I stopped just outside of Denver, well about an hour east of it, because there was nothing in the city as the Democratic National Convention was going on that week. But in the morning I woke up and headed back out. The sad part of it all is that I was now in the boring part of the United States. All I saw was flat land with some treest, fields of corn and little red barns dotting the landscape.

That night I stopped in Chicago because I had to pick up my key the next day since the rental office was going to be closed on the 1st, the day I wanted to move in. There were a few of my co-workers there on an install and so I met up with them and went to dinner and chatted about how things were going as I was to be the rep for the dealership they were taking care of. The next morning I woke up and drove on to Michigan to see part of my family. I explored the area and played with my dog Arthur... I love that little guy!

As a family--well, just dad, mom, James and I--went to the Detroit Temple. It was a great experience as James was soon to be leaving on his mission to Pocatello, ID spanish speaking. It was a wonderful place, with a great spirit and calm and a beautiful site to see.

We spent the rest of the weekend together and I went to church with them. It had been quite a while since I had been to church, not out of not wanting to be there, but out of the sheer fact that with my job I was traveling most Sundays (soon to change).

On Monday, 1 September 2008, I began my trip back to Chicago to officially move into my apartment and get started on my new life. Little did I know the adventure in store.

I was about two and a half hours from home, out in some random town in Michigan when I stopped to get some lunch and gas. As I got back onto the freeway I heard this rattling noise that didn't sound good. I turned down the music, rolled down my window and payed a little closer attention. It seemed to be worse as I pushed on the gas and not there when I took my foot off. I pulled off at the next exit as the rattling seemed to get worse and worse. As I was coming to a stop my car shut down, just turned off and coasted to a stop. I tried turning it back on but the noise gave me an instant sign not to. Upon popping the hood again I saw the coolant boiling over and knew it was not a good thing. I called home and asked my dad what he thought. Over the phone I turned the key again to let him hear the sound my car was making. He advised me to call someone and get it towed. I called up the towing company and they came and picked me and my car up and took me to the nearest mechanic. Being a holiday the mechanic was not open. The tow man said that I could have one come in and look at it but I would have to pay him his hourly rate plus over time, which would be over $100 an hour. I declined that and called home to give them an update. I then called my boss and told him the situation and he said I needed to do what I could to get to Chicago as I had an install to fly to the next day. Whether it be a cab, rental car or whatever, I just needed to get there. The local rental car place doesn't allow you to take the car out of state, so that was a no. A cab would cost an arm and a leg and I wouldn't have anything that I could drive around Chicago. I called my parents back up and they offered to come down to where I was a let me use my dad's truck for as long as needed. I love my parents for that! As a result of their kindness I was able to make it back to Chicago that day and get to my install the next day. Once on the install I called up the mechanic and found out that my car had blown a rod and the engine needed to be replaced... not fun, and not cheap.

In the end it was quite a move, one like I've never experienced before. 3 weeks after my car broke down I was able to get it back from the mechanic and now am enjoying having that again. All in all, I love Chicago and am so happy to be here! I really am looking forward to what the future holds.