Sunday, August 21, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Some of you may have noticed that the blog has been a bit stagnant over the past couple of months. My apologies for the irregularity of the posts - Bryan and I both traveled to the US separately, first Bryan for two weeks in June, then me for three weeks in July and August. The traveling has meant that we haven't had much time for adventuring together, and Bryan wasn't around to take photos, then I wasn't around to write. Anyway, we're both back now and we have something big planned for next month, so I'll try to start posting regularly again.

Since we haven't been doing much in Southeast Asia, I thought it might be interesting to share a bit of what it's like for Bryan and me when we go back to the US. Bryan's family lives in Montana, land of big sky, massive mountains, and abundant wildlife. I love visiting there with him, but I haven't been back since we moved to Singapore two years ago. When he was back in June he had a chance to go camping with some buddies, and he took some pretty amazing photos.
Outrageously gorgeous rainbow near Ronan, Montana
Twin Lakes, Montana
A pretty western tanager, in Montana
An American-sized portion of one of the things we miss most- Mexican food!

As you can probably tell, Montana is truly a beautiful, wild place. I love it there and I'm excited to move back to the US so that it will be easier for me to visit there with Bryan from time to time. It's pretty great that we get to go there to see his family, with the added bonus of all the amazing nature.

Usually when I go back to the US, I just head straight for Ohio, where my family lives, but this time was a little different. I had to attend a conference in Washington DC for a week before heading home. It was interesting to be plopped down in the patriotic capital of America after so long overseas. I always feel a surge of love for the US when I go back - sure, it has its problems (loads, actually), but it will always be my home. I suppose that's why, when the TSA agent stamped my passport and said "Welcome home," I got a little teary-eyed.

My mom was super awesome and took the Amtrak down from Ohio to hang out with me in DC for the week. She also brought a family friend of ours, and we spent the evenings sightseeing, enjoying DC's food, and taking in Shear Madness at the Kennedy Center. It was pretty great.
The White House, complete with snipers on the roof!
Capitol Building...pardon the photography, I took this from a moving vehicle
Honest Abe
Washington Monument at night

When our time in DC was up, I took the Amtrak with my mom and her friend back to Ohio to see the rest of my family. The taxi ride to the train station was the first time my mom and her friend had ever been in a taxi!
Union Station, where our train departed
The ride was scenic and included lots of abandoned buildings  like this one.

We got to Ohio in the middle of the night. It was nice to be back without suffering from extreme jet lag like I usually am. I spent the next two weeks hanging out with family and friends, eating at my favorite restaurants (El Rincon, Pizza Oven, Bombay Sitar, on and on), enjoying my mom's home-cooking, splashing around with my niece and nephew at Wildwater Kingdom, and just generally basking in the joy of a hot American summer (hot by American standards, anyway...nothing compared to S'pore).

I also happened to be home for the biggest week of the year in my hometown of Canton: the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival. This meant that I got to join in some of the festivities, including watching the Timken Grand Parade with my niece and my brother, who thoroughly enjoyed making fun of me as I failed to recognize any of the famous football players parading by us (he almost fell out of his chair when I mistook Emmitt Smith for a lucky employee who was chosen to ride on a float).
A float modeled after a bridge in Canton
As my niece informed me with ear-piercing shrieks,

That's Emmitt Smith in the bowl of candy. I didn't get a good photo b/c
I thought he was just a guy who worked for Hershey's!
Pigskin, super-cute mascot
of the Stark County Visitors' Bureau

I also took advantage of my time in Ohio to stock up on some of the things that we really miss in Singapore. Some of the things we bring back because they aren't available at all in S'pore, and others we bring because they're available in the US at a fraction of the cost. A sampling of what was in my suitcase on my flight back:
  • Smart Start cereal (Singapore ~ $8 USD a box, US about $4 USD a box)
  • Kraft mac and cheese spirals
  • An assortment of nuts from Ben Heggy's, because they're insanely delicious
  • Old-fashioned black licorice for Bryan
  • Big containers of Italian spices
  • A huge bottle of Tabasco sauce (cheaper in the US)
  • Salsa, anything but Tostito's
  • Grape jelly. Seriously, S'pore has EVERY KIND of jelly (black currant, coconut, strawberry, blackberry, etc.) EXCEPT grape.
  • Ziploc steamer bags
  • Almond butter (also from Heggy's)
  • Cans of refried beans
  • Used books- Bryan and I like to have a stock of non-library books for traveling, and used bookstores in the US are much more abundant and much cheaper than in S'pore
Bryan and I are moving back to the US next summer, and we can't WAIT to have all of these things and more available to us all the time. But for now, we'll enjoy all the food I squirreled away in my suitcase, and look forward to stocking up again at Christmas!

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