Our Travelationship in Review: April – August, 2015

By: Heather

Arches National Park, Utah.

It’s been over 4 months since we drove away from our apartment in the Washington, DC area. We started out with a fast and jam-packed road trip across the US and Canada. Along the way, we visited family in New York and Minnesota and friends in several locations. We stayed about a month in Arizona to help Hobee (our dog) and Soma (our cat) adjust to their new home at their grandparents house and to organize ourselves before we set out for our round the world journey.

It’s now the end of August, and we have finally slowed down a bit to catch our breath. We meant to provide monthly updates and completely forgot until a few days ago. This first one will be a bit long, but we promise to get better at keeping you all updated.

The Stops

United States: New York, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona

Canada: Niagara Falls, Toronto

Iceland: Ring Road, Höfn, Vik, Reykjavik Stöðvarfjörður, Egilsstaðir, Flugumýri

Scotland: Glasgow

Ireland: Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny, Three Castles

Italy: Florence

Sicily: Catania, Mazara del Vallo, Palermo, Taormina, Termini Imerese, Agrigento

Switzerland: Geneva, Berne, Luzern, Montreux, Mürren

Austria: Hallstatt, Salzburg, Vienna

Slovakia: Bratislava

Germany: Berlin

Rwanda: Kigali, Musanze, Kinigi, Nyanza, Kibuye

The Great

Catching up with family & friends on our road trip across the US and Canada. Matt and I got to meet some of each other’s old friends and family members for the first time. To each of you – Thank You so much for your generous hospitality!

Custer State Park in South Dakota was a pleasant surprise. We were hyped on re-visiting the Badlands and Mt. Rushmore and completely overlooked CSP. The park is beautiful, and we found the animals quite easy to find.

A buffalo in Custer State Park, South Dakota.

The view in Mürren, Switzerland was ludicrous. Just look at this pic.

Murren, Switzerland.

Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda was a once in a lifetime experience. No photo, video or zoo visit could ever measure up to observing these creatures in their own wild and beautiful home.

A junior gorilla in Rwanda.

Relative searching with Matt’s parents was unforgettable. We were with Matt’s parents for the Europe portion of the trip. We found gravesites belonging to his relatives and even found & met 3 living family members on his dad’s side in Ireland. In Sicily, we weren’t as lucky, but we did find the town his relatives were from and it was beautiful.

The Duomo in Termini Imerese.

It can be difficult to WOW us, but Iceland not only wowed us it shot to one of our most favorite places. We rented a car and drove the Ring Road, so we got a small taste of the diversity and beauty of this island. We are really looking forward to returning to explore more of the off the beaten path location in Iceland.

Jökulsárlón Lagoon, Iceland

In 2009, I volunteered with a boys center in Kigali, Rwanda. Since then some of the boys have been reintegrated with their families, left the center to work or go to school elsewhere. About 30 of the boys reunited at the center in August to lend mentorship to the boys currently living at the center. To see these now young men doing so well meant so much to me. There were a lot of happy tears, hugging and dancing that day.

Heather with her boys.

We have met some really fun new people and are looking forward to keeping in touch with each of them.

The Not So Great

We miss Hobee and Soma something awful. We are both secure in knowing their grandparents are taking terrific (and by terrific we mean over the top fantastic) care of them both, but I struggle with the guilt of leaving them behind.

Niagara Falls was underwhelming and the towns surrounding it were quite cheesy. Still glad I saw it but don’t think I would return.

Matt’s expensive speeding ticket in Iceland. Crazy enough, the Iceland cops have credit card machines for payment in their vehicle. Quite convenient for those travelers heading out of the country before/after the local courthouse open hours.

We haven’t worked out a consistent work schedule which in turn has put us way behind in writing posts & updating the blog. We traveled fast and hard in Europe, which left us no time to write as we traveled. Once we got to Rwanda the internet was slow and off/on which helped breed a “let’s do it later” attitude. The stress of being behind and playing catch up caused a few bickering sessions, but we seem to be getting our sh*t together. We are both certain this subject will be a constant up and down struggle throughout our journey. Any tips? Let’s us know!

The water and electricity shortages in Rwanda suck. It is extremely frustrating to see a country pouring money into building empty skyscrapers and debating about a pedestrian street when so many of the residents are suffering from water and power outages. I am not a city planner, politician nor architect, but it seems to me that to build up, out, bigger and better than the foundation needs to be in place beforehand to sustain the growth. No?

The Oops!, WTF?, LOLs – Lessons learned, head scratchers & hilarities
Oops! Let’s not do that again lessons

Double check your disclaimers and creative commons (cc) settings! We had thought our blog disclaimer and our Flickr cc settings matched but found out the hard way they did not match. We have had a few photos now published in magazines and blogs without being notified of their use. Although, it was exciting to see some of our photos used for a few magazine articles it was frustrating to not have been compensated for our work. We have since checked and updated all our disclaimers and cc settings to match. If you would like to use one of our photos or posts, please contact us and let us know.

Going for the max in the least amount of time. 8 countries in 6 weeks is a lot for most travelers. Now add a set of parents, searching for unknown relatives and trying to keep up on the blog. We obviously failed with keeping up on the blog posts during the 6 weeks. We did better with the parents and the relative searching. In those 6 weeks, we learned a lot of lessons, all of which we will be posting about in the future. Schedule more down time to digest experiences especially when as emotionally driven as searching for relatives, schedule more time to work on the blog, limit traveling with others to 4 weeks or less, and download maps to phone/computer before you get to your destination are just a few of the lessons learned.

WTF? Did that really just happen?

We were in Ireland at the Cliffs of Moher and saw a female almost fall off the edge. She wasn’t doing anything reckless, just walking the trail closest to the edge and she slipped. Luckily, she fell on her front and was able to crawl upward, balance herself, flip over and then scoot herself to a safe place. Had she been a small child or larger adult we both don’t think she would have been able to hold herself to crawl up to prevent herself from falling. Her friend walking ahead of her missed it all. When she finally noticed her friend laying spread eagle on the far side of the trail she didn’t believe her that she almost fell to her death.

Cliffs of Moher.

LOL’s our laugh out load hilarious moments

There have been A LOT of funny moments in the last 4 months, but the one that stands out the most is this outfit!

Matt in funny pants.

And then some karaoke. We won’t post the video because it is pretty painful. Just imagining Matt singing Usher’s song Burn. Fun stuff.

The Posts
Up Next

We are still debating on Uganda. Matt just really has no interest, even if it were to white water raft on the Nile River. I really want to go and need to up my game to convince him it would be worth it.

In mid-September, we will depart Kigali, Rwanda for Nairobi, Kenya where we will tour the city for about 3 days. My cousin, Elizabeth, will meet us in Nairobi and she will be traveling with us for 2 weeks through Kenya and Tanzania.

After Nairobi, we head to Moshi, Tanzania, which will serve as our base for 2 super exciting adventures. Our first adventure will lead us to base camp on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Second, we will camp in the Serengeti for 4 days. Yes, camp in the Serengeti. Woop, Woop!

It will be pretty hard to beat the camping trip, but I am pretty sure a week or so on the beaches of Zanzibar island will give it a good run. Our time in Zanzibar will put us to the end of what we have planned thus far and to the beginning of October.

Any suggestions on where we should go after Zanzibar?

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