Thursday, December 29, 2016

Final 14 days of Freedom

First of all, this is the longest I have ever procrastinated a blog post, so I'm sorry and I might have just let it go except it was a pretty fun 2 weeks and this has been on my to-do list for months! So here we go.

8/4 Thursday
    Becca was amazing enough to drive hours to come and get me at the airport and then hours back home. Essentially all we did was eat dinner at Wendy's, play with her dog, Bentley, and talk and talk and talk. (I think Bentley felt so comfortable with me because he felt like he could relate.)

8/5 Friday
     I encouraged Becca to shirk her responsibilities, which I'd been doing for months, and we ran errands and hung out.  I tried to get a new phone to replace the one I'd lost in Paris, but it was more complicated than I'd assumed. So no phone for me-yet.  But Becca, in a true gesture of sisterly love, let me play Pokemon Go for the first time ever on her cell phone.  Sadly, we never got to play together since I didn't have a phone of my own, but she showed me all the good Pokemon stops around her house and let me nerd out for days. Of course, we also had to go to Walmart to get provisions for our girls' nights that were coming, mainly some boring groceries and then IBC and gelato. We watched movies and played X-Box (which was an adventure because I don't ever play X-Box.)

8/6 Saturday

Today was a free day from respon-sibilities (we didn't even have to try to avoid them.) So we went and played tennis, in honor of the tennis class we took at BYU together. Then we had to hop in the pool and get mistaken for teenagers.  Oh well, I suppose we brought it upon ourselves with our baby faces and constant random competitions like who could do a handstand in the water fastest and who could swim to the other end without using their legs, etc.  We took Bentley to the dog park, watched a movie, and went to a Mexican restaurant.  

8/7 Sunday
Today was similar to the other days I spent with Becca. There was food involved. A dog park. Pokemon. A movie. The only new element to our day was church, which was filled with married couples.

8/8 Monday
My last day with Becca came too quickly.  Becca had to go to campus for a little while, so she gave me her phone and set me free on campus to catch Pokemon. Except I may have ran her battery and mine down, gotten lost, and been gone for an hour longer than I originally meant to. But I did make it back, and we headed home to enjoy the time we had left. To really take advantage of it we went on a bike ride along a river, and it was beautiful. It reminded me of the last bike ride I'd gone on in Japan at Mikuni where Melanie and I biffed it hard core, except there wasn't any falling this time. After biking we ate dinner and then Becca enjoyed the wonders of Zelda Tri-Force Heroes, which is fun only because I always play it with my brothers.

8/9 Tuesday
The next day Becca dropped me off at the greyhound bus station, and I rode that all the way to DC. Luckily, I was pretty accustomed to public transportation by now so the only downside to the trip was that I spilled my drink on my lap almost first thing. When I arrived in D.C. I met Whitney at the main station and then she took me back to her house where I had *play angelic chorus* a new phone waiting for me!  We had a pretty relaxing evening and even got some exercise in before watching some cheesy movie together (just like old times in college.)

8/10 Wednesday
I spent most of the next morning and afternoon with Amy Murphy, who also lives in D.C. We walked the boardwalk, ate ice cream, kissed some statues (she had a bucket list to accomplish), paddle boated at the basin, saw FDR, MLK, and the Jefferson Memorial.  It was a packed afternoon, but it didn't stop there. Whitney joined us after work, but then I had to say goodbye to Amy. Whit and I saw Big Abe, the reflection pool, and walked to the White House before I was starving for dinner. We ate some tacos at a Mexican place for dinner and went home to finish the movie we'd fallen asleep on before.

8/11 Thursday
    Today I had to say goodbye to Whitney and catch the Megabus (which I almost missed. I got there at 10:58 for my 11 am bus.) But I made it and spent the next few hours traveling to Richmond to see Emily and her family.  Today I got to experience what it's like to have your entire family living in a hotel room.

8/12 Friday
Well I can't remember what happened this day. Serves me right for taking 4 months to blog. Oh well.

8/13 Saturday
    We went to this really cool abbey, called the Freemason Abbey, and ate lunch there.  It was very historic and also had great seafood.  I definitely couldn't complain. (P.S. These photos are from online because I, for some reason, can't find any of my own. So I do not know who that random man in the photo is.)

After that we went to the battleship Wisconsin and spent a few hours exploring there. Tanner and Chris were having a blast while the rest of us were trying to stay hydrated.  It was fun to see, but it was so stinking hot. Luckily we ended the day by going to the beach so the heat couldn't bother us then!
8/14 Sunday
After church on Sunday I spent literally all day catching up in my journal from my travels and bonding with Emily's kids (mainly Tucker. The little stinker waited until I was about to leave to decide we could be friends.)

8/15 Monday
Today was my last day with the Herbs in VA, and to say goodbye we went and ate sushi together. Goodbyes are never fun but at least we can make it more delicious with some raw fish.

8/16 Tuesday
I had officially one day to unpack, clean my room, re-move in, and relax before work started tomorrow. Should I have been at school putting together my classroom? Yes. Was I? No.

8/17 Wednesday
Today work started, and I could have kicked myself for not giving myself more time to rest before work began. However, I also couldn't bring myself to cut anything out of my summer because it was so fun.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Is It Too Late to Quit my Job and Become a Teacher At Hogwarts (or a Student)?

 Ok, I'm back and hopefully I'll finish all of Europe with this.

Is it any wonder that I'm in love with Wales when even just driving down the road provides views like this?  It's so green and beautiful.  I could drive around all day, even if it is on the left side of the road.

Also the first thing we see when we got off the bus was this beautiful sight. It kind of commanded our attention right from the beginning by saying "Laura, please come to grad school here. Look how majestic I am."

On Sunday night we went for a walk with Eira, the 6 year old.  Even just walking around the neighborhood is so beautiful and European. I can hardly stand it.  And, of course, I found a nice tree to take a picture in. It was so good that even Eira couldn't resist climbing on.
7/25 - Monday: Let the castles begin
Raglan Castle was the first one we went to. It was crumbling and dilapidated but still impressive considering how old it is.  There wasn't even anyone there to tell us where to go (or not to go) so we may have been a little out of controlling climbing every stair case and taking pictures at every turret.  Can you blame us though?

From there we immediately went to Chepstow castle which was also beautiful but a little more restricted. It made up for it however by being next to a river.  Somehow that makes up for it because it's beautiful. Whitney and I may or may not have stolen a piece of the castle to take home with us.  Of course, my castle piece was so small I could fit it in my journal (which was the whole point.)  Whitney and I were so desperate for pictures that we even had six year old Eira taking photos for us.  But I don't think they make a 20 foot selfie stick, so what else could we do?

After we visited these castles we stopped by this abbey called Tintern Abbey which was from 1131.  Crazy crazy crazy.  Europe is just full of history. We didn't spend long here, but there's always time for pictures (obviously.)  
The final stop for the day, before dinner anyway, was Caerleon.  According to the internet "it was the headquarters for Legio II Augusta from about 75 to 300 AD, and the site of an Iron Age hill fort." Pretty cool, huh?

You can essentially find this same picture on wiki (I know, I looked.) Sans the two of us. It said that a lot of gladiators and other people took their last steps there (where we are.)  Pretty lucky that we aren't some of them I guess.  Now it's so green and peaceful that it's hard to imagine the things that went on here hundreds of years ago.

7/26 - Tuesday: Day 2 of all day touring.

The morning started out with Llan-calach Fawr Manor where the servants were dressed to act the part. It was pretty cool but also kind of funny because I was almost not sure how to interact with them.   Can you imagine living somewhere like this though?  I don't know why, I just really like things built out of stone.  Maybe it's just the medieval feel. They had a nice garden out front with a little walkway. 

Right after the manor we headed over to Coch Castle which looks like Hogwarts. It has these little turrets and the first time I saw it it was peaking through the mist all mysterious and magical.

The final tour stop for today was Cardiff Castle which was HUGE.  So, naturally, I took about 101 pictures. Well really Whitney took them since I had no phone.  Here's one of us throwing pennies in the well by the keep.

Here's me falling in love at the library.

Here's the catapult and the castle.  Really these are terribly short explanations but come on, it's not like I have time to type up the information packet they gave us. And let me tell you, that guided tour was WAY too detailed.


This tree was a bit tricky because I had to sneakily climb up when the security guards weren't looking and then try and hide behind one of the branches.

Here's a picture of the keep. This was in the middle of the castle surrounded by a moat. Super legit castle like and all.

All too soon our time in Wales was over and it was time to head back to London.  It was ways too early, but I was excited to get back.  Goodbye Eira, Brian, and Margaret. 
early goodbye to family

But I survived the sad good bye by sleeping the entire bus ride back to London. I know, my specialty.

 The time had come for HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD. I literally spent all day watching this play. Okay well not all day, but from waiting in lines, part 1 and 2, and intermission I probably dedicated 9 hours of my day to it.  Worth it though.

(Don't mind the random guy in this photo with me, I like to take photos with just the two of us.)

7/28 - This is the day that the true touring of London started.  We got off at the Westminster stop and decided to walk everywhere so we could really get the full experience.  First off-Big Ben.  Did you know that Big Ben is actually the name of the bell inside the tower, but since no one can see the bell people just took to calling the whole tower Big Ben?

Right by Big Ben is Westminster (which always makes me want to read Red Wall Abbey.) We were too cheap to pay to go inside so we decided to wait and go to a Sunday service (those are free.)

Parliament is also right there. We were all a little bit it wasn't in session because you can go in and watch when it is.   We ran into a Japanese tour group around this area and I got so excited that I totally tried to eavesdrop.   Slash I almost photo bombed their group photo, but instead I decided to just get my own. I asked in English at first, but they were really confused so I repeated it in Japanese. It felt good to use Japanese again.  That's it. I'm going back.  Next time.

We walked through Saint James Park and Green Park to get to Buckingham Palace. We got there in time to see the changing of the guards even though that wasn't our intention.  Then we continued walking to Hyde Park and we stopped at Kensington Palace to eat scones. Although it sounds even more British when I say that it was a scone with clotted cream and jam.

  Here's some pictures from Kensington Palace and Hyde Park.  (Yes, the frisbee was necessary.)
I have to take advantage of any chance to journal.  Emily and I have that in common.


sit under the tree and write in journal in the park
I went to my very first pub tonight. I couldn't resist. It was a Sherlock Holmes pub! Although it was lacking the 'pub' atmosphere since the 4 of us ate out on the terrace by ourselves.

After dinner Whit and I went to a bookstore and I saw these AMAZING Harry Potter books.  I really wanted them, but I couldn't very well justify more weight in my suitcase.  (Or buying books that I already own.) Then we bought some street cocoa and walked across Jubilee Bridge.

Living the life in London.  A cup of cocoa in hand, a ferris wheel in the background, and friends in Europe.

We started out the next day by going to the British museum, but the highlight of the day was when we went on the HARRY POTTER STUDIO TOUR.


Now I'm off to Hogwarts.  My letter never came, but that's hardly surprising since the post hates me (none of my letters come.) Here's the Hogwarts Express to take us to school.  See you in a year everyone! 

Hello Hogwarts.  It's time for school, and I think this is one school year I won't be complaining about. 


  Here's the mirror of Erised which showed me my deepest desire of being in London with my friends.

This video failed to capture me saying "Up" but at least you can see the broom rising.  Sorry it's sideways. I have no idea how to flip it.  I'll probably learn a spell for that in year 2. 

7/30 - Saturday
We spent the morning on Portabello Road doing crazy markets and eating delicious crepes.  We had to break from Em and Michelle so they could go to a play, but Whitney and I kept up the touring!

Here's Saint Paul's cathedral which looks just as awesome while wearing green pants as when you're not.
We stopped by the Tate Museum for all the obvious reasons. Mainly to use some free wifi, refill our water bottles, rest a bit in the AC, and go to the bathroom.
Then we saw the Globe theater and went to Borough Market.  I even took some time to draw while sitting next to the Thames.  Dinner was pizza and dessert was watching North and South with Waite (while being in Paris!) 

Sunday was our last day together.  It was a nice, lazy morning since we didn't go to church until 1 pm.   We had to book it though since we had also planned to go Westminster at 3 for evensong.

After that I had to search around to find some souvenir buses for the nieces and nephews. Once I'd accomplished that I found a nice park to write in my journal in to kill time until meeting with Waite. Tonight was the night we decided to ride the London Eye.  I didn't ride it 4 years ago and I've regretted it ever since.  No more regrets!  


The London Eye was a nice way to say goodbye to the city since it gave us a view of every-thing, but the real good bye happen-ed here at the river.  Good bye London.

Okay so today was going to be the perfect day.  I had it all planned out to fit a trip to the England temple in before my train to Paris.  Even though I was the only one who did not have a flight to catch today I was the first one out of the apartment at 6 am.
10 minutes later and I was on my way to the station.
25 minutes later and I had dropped off my huge suitcase at the luggage hold. I officially cut my tourist feel in half (at least) by only lugging around my huge backpack now.
15 minutes later and I was at my train stop hopping on the first train that came to my terminal. Sadly, that wasn't exactly the right train to get on.  Luckily it wasn't the exactly wrong train to get on.  After talking to someone on the train I realized they were heading the same direction for at least 4 stops.  10 minutes later I just hopped off that train and hopped on the next train. The RIGHT train.
5 minutes later I realized that the right train had quickly become the wrong train. Due to them being behind schedule they decided to cut out every stop from where we were to the airport.  Me, being my indecisive self, didn't get off in time and I ended up riding all the way to the Gatwick airport.  I decided that fretting about it wouldn't get me anywhere so I sat down to journal the ride away.
35 minutes later I was at the airport asking the closest attendant how to get to my stop.  Turns out, it was actually a blessing in disguise.  The stop I wanted was only one away from the airport.
10 minutes later I was at Three Bridges and trying to tap out at the station.  Turns out you can NOT use your oyster cards outside of London.  While that does make sense, since I had used it to get on the train I had just assumed I could use it to get off. Luckily the attendant here was really nice as well and he helped me buy an extra ticket and told me how to fix my slightly illegal mistake.
15 minutes later I was at the bus station waiting for bus 236, which didn't seem to be coming.
5 minutes later I was stopping random passer-bys and asking to use their phones (mainly their google maps.)
10 minutes later a really nice bus driver told me he could take me at least part of the way and some random guy behind me told me that I would be able to walk the rest of the way.
15 minutes later I was getting off at some random stop with some final directions from the bus driver on where to walk.
20 minutes later I was still walking along a 2 way road in the middle of nowhere England fairly convinced I was lost until, miracle of miracles, I found a SIGN FOR THE TEMPLE!
10 minutes later I realized I kind of needed to use the restroom and my backpack was feeling heavy.
10 minutes later I was singing to myself to pass the time and still walking.
10 minutes later I was debating the pros and cons of trying to find a secluded spot.  I mean it WAS the middle of nowhere, but it wasn't quite deserted enough for comfort.
10 minutes later there was no longer any 'kind of' about it. I had to go and I was desperately searching the skies for Moroni.
5 minutes later, I found him, and, more importantly, the bathroom.
10 minutes later I triumphantly ascended the stairs to the temple-so relieved and proud of myself for finding it that I was practically playing my own theme music in my head-to find the front door locked.
5 minutes later I'd completed a circuit of the temple, tried all the doors, briefly appreciated the beauty outside the temple, and almost been ready to sink to the ground and give up for a few minutes.  But I ran into 2 grounds workers and I asked them if the temple was closed. (Ready for the climax of the story?) "The temple is always closed on Mondays." They told me.  Monday? Really? Foiled by a day of the week and the fact that I have literally never tried to go to the temple on a Monday before.  There was no time to despair though. I had to get directions for the fastest way back to civilization from them. Turns out the fastest way was another 45 minute walk.
10 minutes later I actually, miraculously, found myself in the backseat of a car with a temple worker and his wife who were going to town.  They gave me a lift to the train station. Thank goodness for kind church members willing to do a solid to a fellow churchie.
So...there I was roughly 7 hours and $30 dollars later and I failed to even go inside the temple.
Luckily my trip to Paris and Nannick's house went much more smoothly.
After dinner with Nannick and the two people living with her (who I had hoped couldn't speak French well, I was disappointed) I went to bed.  After a day like that I needed a deep sleep.

8/2 I may or may not have slept in until noon, and possibly later if Nannick hadn't come into my room saying "are you still in bed?" I ate breakfast/lunch with her and then spent a few hours walking around Vesinet. It was perfect because it was sprinkling. But also it was kind of not perfect because it made it hard to journal outside. Oh well. I bought some souvenirs and walked around town, pleased with myself for remembering my way around. (Or at least I remembered how to get to the store.) Then I had dinner with Nannick. She cracks me up every time.  I crack her up too, but I think she's mostly laughing at my French. This isn't the exact river I walked by since I couldn't take photos, but essentially this is what it looked like. 

8/3 It's my last day in France for who knows how long.  I spent the morning organizing my suitcase so I can fly home. That's no easy feat since there's always a weight limit and I have a problem with buying souvenirs and chocolate.  I also had to plan out my travel routes since I don't have wifi once I step out of the house.  BUTTTT once all the details were figured out and taken care of I ate lunch with Nannick and her equally old friend.  If I thought understanding French was difficult, it was only because I hadn't tried 80 year old lady French.

After lunch Nannick and I drove around in her version of sightseeing. She took me to see Versaille again and this beautiful park called Parc de Marly. Sadly I couldn't take pictures since my phone was AWOL but here's one from online to help you get an idea. 

After that we went to a museum.  Nancy asked me multiple times if I wanted to go to this museum and I kept saying things like "I'm fine either way." (Mostly, no I didn't want to go because I'm museumed out.) But eventually she just decided for us because I guess she really wanted to go.  The last thing of the day was dinner and giving Nannick her good bye present.  

8/4 After a final breakfast with Nannick my big summer adventure was over. (Actually there was the whole adventure of getting to the metro but aside from that the adventure was over.)...Not.  Really just the foreign portion is ending, I still have lots of people to see once I land in America. Still though, it's nice to think that I won't be lugging my suitcase up or down any more metro stops.  Even better news there wasn't a weird person sitting by me on the flight.