…and away we go | Reflections on 2017

Newly engaged!

I wanted to go to Sydney, Australia, since before I ever left my home state as a kid. Travel books detailing the wonderment of Oceania line a bookshelf in my home. I started watching Australian news programs after college. Something about Australia was nested deeply in my soul calling me to visit.

Thirty-two years into my life I finally adventured to Australia and New Zealand. The trip capped off what has been an amazing — the Merriam-Webster ‘amazing’ — year.  The largest event being Leann and I returned as fiancés (to each other)! That’s right. She said ‘yes’ to a lifetime of me. I am working on switching referring to Leann as my fiancé, but I am beyond ebullient to continue our adventures together as spouses. For those who have met Leann, you know how lucky I am to be with someone as smart, giving, kind, beautiful and far better than I deserve. Many friends claimed they knew it was going to happen on this trip. I’m pretty sure there was a Superbowl Squares board with proposal countries or dates that family and friends were wagering. If not, I should’ve set that up to raise wedding money. Hindsight! I’m still figuring out how to best share the proposal story with you. We’re currently on a multi-city, Chicago suburb speaking tour. Comment for details on when we’ll be in a town near you.

I lament after each trip that I may never have enough time to share the experiences, photos and stories here. And this year was full of trips so I am full of laments. Pending any last-minute changes, I was on 21 flights this year! Not long ago I considered myself lucky to be on two flights a year.

Traveling is one of my biggest catalysts. Next to meeting and conversing with new people, traveling is my fuel. Through new places and new people, I learn about cultures, traditions, food and largely about myself.

Reflections on this stupendous year will be a departure from previous ruminations (2016, 2014). Instead, I’ll start with areas for improvement and then share some of my favorite experiences and photos in another post. Continue reading …and away we go | Reflections on 2017

A Town of Artists


“My Sweet Lord” played as the sun and plane descended in New York tonight. There are blissful moments when the right song comes on at just the right moment. Opting for the aisle this flight, I peered out the window to see the technicolor sun setting into the horizon.

Sun rises and sun sets continue to fill me with awe. Occasionally there’s a burst of color to signify the bookends of the day and I pause. Often I lose gratitude for each singular day focusing on what’s to happen tomorrow. Continue reading A Town of Artists

Getting to a ‘No Worries’ Mentality


Years ago I started replying “no worries” when someone thanked me. During our trip around Australia and New Zealand I heard locals use the phrase in response to my thanking them.

The days of our trip are dwindling. My phone has creepily started shuffling in songs about coming home. I ran out of clean clothes. I’m simultaneously full of anticipation to be home and a tinge of sadness that exploring is coming to a pause. For the past week and a half our daily concerns were solely about what we wanted to do and seldom about what we needed to do. That shift in focus takes adjustment. Continue reading Getting to a ‘No Worries’ Mentality

No worries from the future


Time flies, even in the future! We are now in Queenstown, New Zealand, after a week in Sydney and Melbourne. As with most trips my devoted time to chronicle our adventures shrinks with each new destination. Our week in Australia was incredible and included an unforgettable day for Leann and me (more on that in another post). We saw botanic gardens, churches, museums, and a cricket match! We’ve sampled the fish and chips while discovering Australia makes some mighty fine muesli/granola bars.

Taking the advice of a friend, I have been attempting to breathe in all the beauty that surrounds us. I was concerned before traveling here that my expectations for Australia and New Zealand’s beauty were unrealistic. Certainly someplace couldn’t be that beautiful.

Then you discover you are living in a Bob Ross painting every day of your life.

Quick notes before getting ready for our day trip to Milford Sound:

  • I’ve never encountered as friendly people at home or during travels.
  • These towns leave you in awe and disbelief.
  • I think we have new retirement goals.
  • “No worries” is both my new way to end conversations and my goal mindset for living.

Advance Australia Fair


In-flight time was the largest chip against our taking a trip to Australia and New Zealand. It’s very difficult to conceive of spending that much time in one place. At home, I don’t think I ever spend as much time in one location as I did on flight 77 from Los Angeles to Sydney.

My brain is starting to show the impact of jet lag so I’ll aim to share a few thoughts from day one down under.

  • Australians are incredibly friendly. Leann and I were attempting to get our bearings after exiting the train from the airport. A guy saw us and asked if he could help us find our destination. We shared where we were heading and he directed us toward the street we needed. He came back to us a minute later and Googled our hotel to ensure the directions he gave were correct.
  • One of these is not like the other: Palm trees, Christmas, 82 degrees.
  • Sydney is fairly walkable. I walked about 8 miles today and didn’t get lost once.
  • In-air movie count: 4
  • I am now a time traveler. Greetings from the future!

Continue reading Advance Australia Fair

Australia Awaits

Since I was barely the size of an emu I have wanted to visit Australia. No one in my family had been there and aside from The Rescuers Down Under I wasn’t exposed to much about the country. In college, I flirted with the idea of studying abroad in Sydney. Post-college, I researched community media in Australia for my application to be a Fulbright scholar. Spoiler alert: neither attempt to study in Australia proved successful.

All that changes tonight! Leann and I embark on our longest trip yet. We will explore Sydney and Melbourne before flying to Queenstown and finally Auckland. These four cities are new to both of us and should add a new flavor to our Christmas around the world tour we’ve been on the past three years.

The next two weeks include day trips to serene coasts, caves, mountains, museums, volcanoes, wineries, rainforests, and beaches. Pretty wild surrounds compared to the tundra that is Chicago in December.

I have yet to accept that we are going to Australia and New Zealand. The good thing is I’ll have 20 hours in the air to let it sink in!

As always, I will do my best to share our adventures here and on social media. It will be a trip of a lifetime!

Foods of New York City

Beef bone noodle soup

New York has an abundance of everything: museums, tourists, pigeons, Broadway shows, and restaurants. Leann and I added a few days to a business trip to New York to explore the tastes and experiences of the big city. Thanks to recommendations from friends who live or lived in NYC we had a long list of places to try sorted by area.

There were two standouts for me: Her Name is Han (Korean BBQ) and Besfren (dessert spot on 32nd and 5th).

Beauty & Essex was a really cool spot for people watching. The man at the table next to us was regaling his guests with stories of Russian escorts and tech executives. Not something you hear during dinner at home.

Great food with great friends can’t be beat, no matter the city.

Where should I dine during my next NYC trip?