Started my day off in rush hour traffic to get down to the health department for all the vaccines I need before I leave. All THREE of them. That’s THREE needles. As some of you may know, I am not too fond of anything involving needles. Oh what’s that? You’d like to present me with the award for World’s Biggest Understatement 2014? Why, thanks.

Yeah, so, any day that starts with needles is going to suck (especially since my arms were already so sore from cleaning and painting all weekend) so I decided to get all the other unpleasant tasks crossed off my to-do list and just write the whole day off. Next stop, Longview- 1 hour wait to enroll for classes (that coincidently started today, can I get the award for Top Procrastinator as well?). Then another hour waiting for financial aid advisor who was a witch. But I couldn’t get all the classes I needed so after all that I changed my mind and decided to reenroll at the Art Institute online, which doesn’t start until 8/28 so I have more time to get stuff together. Plus, their sessions run five weeks so I can take one or two and then skip the Nov-Dec session. Since I got some details about the Wildtracks place I will be volunteering at during that time and found that there is no wifi, internet is only turned on 8am-5pm, and they run solely on solar power. Not exactly conducive to online classes.

After I got out of there, I grabbed lunch and finalized my Belize trip and put down a deposit, ordered my backpack, posted an ad to sell my car, and then ran over to the optometrist to pick up the contacts I ordered. And then did I get to go home? Nope. Spent another hour at my doctor’s so I could get a prescription for malaria pills, and then had to go to the pharmacy to have it filled. Came home and finished cleaning out all my stuff. My bedroom is now spotless except for my newly established “packing corner”. Yeah, every time I find or buy anything that needs to go with me it just gets tossed on the heap:

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Not sure how I’m going to get it all in one bag, but at least everything’s in the same place…

Making Progress…

Sooo tired right now but I’m making myself post something before I fall asleep .  Last few days have been crazy busy, starting with my all-day over-the-top goodbye party Friday.  My friends really know how to throw a party.  Work was followed by drinks and dinner at Cheddar’s.  I’m going to miss our little gang.  

Saturday was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with some friends and their kids and I have to say it was surprisingly good.  Okay, it was awesome!  Liked the plot and the story was pretty true to originals, at least what I remember 20 years later.  Funny too.

Sunday was the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure; a little more subdued than usual what with the thunderstorms early morning.  I will say at least it didn’t rain while we were walking.  And we still managed to have fun together, as usual.  Enjoyed a brunch at Panera afterward, then all my typical weekend errands.

The last two days I’ve been making some headway with trip plans:  requested a withdrawal from my 401K (which is pretty much what this whole crazy plan hinges on), paid extra to have 2 day UPS delivery with tracking (because who in their right mind would trust the United States Postal Service with $11,000?), made some inquiries on places to stay in Costa Rica, submitted volunteer application to Wildtracks Belize (really, really hoping I can get in there because working with manatees would be awesome!), placed a record-breaking Amazon order (at least I broke my own record: 26 items, $500, in less than an hour-all trip related stuff), cooked dinner, and have spent the better part of the last 8 hours cleaning out as much of my material possessions as I can stand to part with, packing the remainder into storage tubs, while watching the first 3 Harry Potter movies on DVD.  And now to bed…

Seeing Chengdu’s Giant Pandas

I’ll have to add this to my list of places to go…

Seat 6A

I was a bit nervous to see our 28-day China tour included a visit to . I dislike the idea of zoos, and I have heard many a horror story about Asian zoos in particular. The day we visit the pandas I’m skeptical but cautiously excited to see animals in their natural habitat.

The Panda Research Base is in a misty forest just outside of Chengdu, Sichuan province. The center is dedicated to environmental protection, and the site completely awes me with its animal-focused design. Signs caution visitors not to speak above a whisper, not to use flash photography, and not to smoke anywhere on the premise. I think of the absolute din found at DC’s National Zoo and am impressed that such care has been taken to ensure the pandas have peace.

Picture of mother panda and her cub at Chengdu's Panda Research CenterMother and cub – this looks zoo-y, but there’s actually a small forest to the left

I…

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A daring adventure begins…

I’ve been reading travel blogs for years and I am so excited to be able to start my own!  I’ll be posting all kinds of things but primarily this blog is to keep a record of my life as I set off to see the world.  I’ve been wanting to do this for a while and back in January I finally started making some concrete plans.  I  completed a TEFL certification course this spring (that’s Teach English as a Foreign Language for those not in the know) and decided to go teach in China.  My plans have evolved somewhat since:  I will be leaving at the end of August for Central America and will travel a few months before coming home for the holidays.  Then I plan to line up a job and head to China to teach after the new year starts.

This summer has just been busy, busy, busy so far trying to make plans and spend as much time as possible with friends and family before I go.  And August is sure to be even more hectic.  My mom and I ended July with an awesome trip to Vegas, hope to get some pictures up from that soon.  When I got back I started the countdown to my last day at work, which happens to be tomorrow.  Despite the little annoyances that accompany pretty much every job in the world I have enjoyed my job, like the company I work for, and love the people I work with.  So I’m super excited and really sad at the same time.

I’ve got a crazy weekend ahead too: dinner with some friends tomorrow, movies on Saturday, and the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure 5K bright and early Sunday morning.   But I don’t mind because I get to sleep in next week!  Well maybe one day.  Then I’ve got to start tackling the world’s longest to-do list.  Turns out, not working is a lot of work.  Especially when you’re planning an international trip.  I need to get new glasses, contacts, and travel vaccines before my health insurance runs out.  I need to get new travel/medical insurance.  I need an international driver’s license, visas, to file a will and an advance directive (creepy but you never know), withdraw money from my 401K and book a flight and all kinds of other arrangements.  Can’t wait to get started!