At Cathedral Rock, Sedona, AZ

At Cathedral Rock, Sedona, AZ

Quote from Into the Wild

If we admit that human life can be ruled by reason, then all possibility of life is destroyed.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Updates from our new home in Tucson, AZ.

We have finally settled in reasonably well and are slowly working towards building our new lives, careers and future family here in Tucson.  5 months in, and we're making progress.  Jan-April weather was just incredible here, and then it just got plain hot, pretty much 105+ everyday for the last 45+ days, but learning to live with it.   Thought we'd update the blog, we have several fun projects we're working on that may be worth mentioning.

I've got a great worm bin going, Christina is deligently composting, we're trying to get a garden going (challenging), building rainwater harvesting systems, tree planting, a turtle habitat, future gutter gardens, slow sand filter project and add to that keeping up exercising: running, golfing, tennis, basketball, cycling, yoga, weights, as well as trying to eat healthy each week keeps us pretty busy, but focusing on the good things in life.  Christina is doing a good job leaning me more vegetarian each month, and I can proudly say we don't actually purchase meat that enters our home at this point (just occassionally some fish).  I fail pretty regularly if I don't plan lunch, but making progress there as well. 

We both have jobs, so the bills get paid and life is moving forward just fine.  It's been far more difficult to adjust back to Western culture than I anticipated, it was way easier to leave it than to come back to it (more on that in another blog). We're taking the initiative and trying to do some semi-local travel as well, to begin our excursion of the western states more (one reason for moving here).  We've visited good old friends Jared and Ashley Bradley in beautiful San Diego, went camping at Lake Pleasant outside Phoenix and made it to Sedona, AZ to see the painted desert so far.  Hopefully lots more to come.

We have a great small home here in Tucson, just enough, keeping with our minimalist theme, the less space we have, the less we'll buy and fill up, so we're using the backyard as project central and spending some time on apocalypse (self-sufficient) planning as well.  Gun range practice, general prepping and being a good boy scout type stuff, it's interesting and good practical stuff to learn. Makes for engaged reading, learning and all around clean fun :)

Here's a few pics from our recent time here and we'll be choosing some projects and filling in the details real soon. 

New Blog-First up....Worm Bin

Monday, December 26, 2011

Paris: Yes, its that good!

Arriving at Charles De Gaulle Airport we were delighted to find there was no visa fee required to enter France. This not only saved us some cash but covered our asses. In all the planning for our surprise trip home, we forgot to check the process/requirements for entering the country which could have lead to real problems. Nevertheless, western civilization had the last laugh at our expense when the cab ride from the airport to our hotel cost a staggering 70 euros (approximately $100 USD).
We had been up for roughly twenty hours by the time we pulled up in front of the hotel. Exhausted and hungry we threw our packs off in the room and headed to the corner cafe for dinner. The weather was warm and pleasant as we hobbled down the cobblestone streets. The feeling of being on a Hollywood movie set came to mind. Everything you think Paris would be like, it is and so much more. The cafe was charming and inviting with cozy intimate seating. We ordered a bottle of red wine, a pasta dish and a gourmet sandwich which was delicious and completely eaten within ten minutes. After finishing the bottle, we were off to bed, sleep was needed.
Refreshed we woke up early to take full advantage of the short three day visit to this magnificent city. First stop, just like the French, was to the local patisserie shop to indulge in buttery, chocolatey sweet delicacies. On a sugar high we walked to the Eiffel Tower from our hotel and down the Champ de Mars then continued along the Seine River. The city was amazingly detailed with sculptures and many other architectural beauties. The bridges were adorned with carved stone and the huge water fountains were fit for Zeus. Decadence is the best way to describe it. Decadent and beautiful!
Avenue Des Champs Elysees showcases the fabulous Paris shopping district. A three story Louis Vitton store anchors the corner lot not to be out done by the svelte Abercrombie & Fitch models who are paid to be stunningly good looking and open the door for customers. High fashion is everywhere with the seductive scent of perfume floating in the air. These people make living life in high fashion look damn good. Everyone strutted as if they were the next top fashion model.
At the end of the Avenue stands the Arc de Triomphe. The Arc de Triomphe honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. It was easy to see why it was named one of the most visited monument in Paris.
If, or better yet, when, we return to Paris more time will be spent at the Louvre Museum. It is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. We walked our legs off for 5 hours in the Louvre and maybe saw a tenth of the displays. Five days is a more appropriate amount of time to truly appreciate every masterpiece individually, but with time lacking we focused on the key attractions first. These included the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa. That's right, I stood face to face and looked Mona Lisa herself in the eye. Pretty freaking awesome!
We also spent 3 hours visiting the Musee D'orsay, the famed art, painting, and sculpture museum where you can take in the works of Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir, Cezanne, Degas, Gauguin...if you make it to Paris, do not skip this place, it's less crowded and you can get closer and feel less intruded in viewing the paintings you've always heard about. Amazing!
Last but not least on the sightseeing walk is Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris located on the Seine river. It is a cathedral of the Catholic Archdiocese of Paris: that is, it is the church that contains the cathedral (official chair) of the Archbishop of Paris, currently André Vingt-Trois. We weren't able to go inside but the outside at sunset was breathtaking.
Outside of being incredibly expensive, Paris was amazing and is a must see city, we look forward to going back with friends and experiencing even more. It was incredibly easy to walk, beautiful, amazing food, and history at your fingertips daily. It was odd to check off all these "bucket list" places to see and visit in a short 2 days of walking Paris, but it is just filled with so much history and is well a planned and picturesque city.
That night we had our farewell dinner to Paris AND to the end of our eleven month journey abroad. The next day we'd be on a plane back to the States (Paris to Dublin, Dublin to Chicago, Chicago to Louisville) It was time, we were gassed out and ready to surprise family and see friends again. Not to mention a long long hot shower and fluffy pillows and crispy clean sheets :)