31-Day Blog Challenge: Where I’ve Traveled

Day 29/31

Have bags, will travel.

Have bags, will travel.  I sometimes think I’m more excited about the idea of travel and foreign locales than I am with the actual act.  The anticipation is a joy in and of itself.

Before I get started – Happy Birthday, Kansas!

OK, now that that is out of the way…

I am fortunate to have been able to travel as much as I have, and hope I can continue to do so going forward.  I owe this in part to parents who placed high value on travel, as well as my own desire to see the world.  I’m lucky because I’ve had opportunities to travel with groups from my community that others may not have, as well as the resources to travel – thanks to my job and (can I really apply this label to myself??) frugality.

As I move out (hopefully, later this year) and life gets in the way, I know that traveling will become more difficult and more sacrifices will be required to, in the words of Tim Gunn, “make it work.”  Everyone says, “Travel while you’re young!” and that’s true.  At this stage of our lives (I’m 21), we should be doing all of “those things” that we want to do and desire to do.  People are shocked that I want to do a trip abroad at least every other year, but what they don’t understand is that is why I have a job.  I really don’t see the point of a life that isn’t filled with travel, seeing and doing new things – this is different for each person, but that’s how I see my life.  That’s why I work!  Yes, I could have a fancy house and a fancy car (and, as you know, I would like both), but those are just so insignificant when compared to the joy of travel that I experience each time I get in the car or hop on a plane.

  • United States (traveling from left to right!)
    • Utah – My parents and I have been to Utah a couple of times while visiting friends we know who live in western Colorado.  We didn’t travel extensively, visiting mostly just Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park.  I was shocked that you can’t get that postcard-picture-perfect view of Delicate Arch without doing a bit of a hike; as it was hot out and we didn’t have water or the other necessary supplies/apparel for a hike, we just saw it from a distance.  I was disappointed, but that’s just another reason to go back!  It’s a great place to visit.  I absolutely loved Canyonlands (even better than the Grand Canyon, dare I say) – it was such an amazing, incredible place that had a lot of variety and wonderful lookout points.  We were there when there was a storm brewing in the distance, so we saw a thunderstorm with lightning above part of the canyon – awesome!
    • Arizona – I flew down to Arizona for a long weekend in December a couple years ago while my brother was on a business trip for a training.  While there, we did a little nighttime driving around Phoenix, as well as drove through Sedona on the way to Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon.  We got into town just early enough to see the Canyon before the sun set for the day, which sounded like a great idea.  Mind you, it was freezing cold with winds coming up from the canyon after the recent snow.  I was so cold and bundled up that I just couldn’t appreciate it.  We went back the next morning after a delicious breakfast at The Galaxy Diner in Flagstaff, and although it was more enjoyable, I think the Grand Canyon is just a bit overrated; if not overrated, then at the very least, overhyped.  Is it pretty and amazing?  Yes, but I preferred the variety of Canyonlands, and seeing it first probably didn’t help matters.  Oh, and my brother going on and on about I had to see it and setting the bar very high.  🙂
    • Colorado – With my family, I’ve traveled extensively in Colorado – the destination of many family vacations throughout the years.  In particular, we love Leadville, Salida, Ridgway and Montrose.  Our friends live near Grand Junction in Fruita, and that is a beautiful place, surrounded by the Book Cliffs, fruit vineyards and Colorado National Monument.  I’ve also been to Aspen, Vail, Glenwood Springs, Ouray, Silverton, Telluride, Cañon City, Pueblo, Denver, Creede, and many other, smaller towns on the way to these places.  Colorado is such a gorgeous state, and it is always a joy to visit and explore the state – there’s so much to see and do, mostly dealing with nature – and it’s a relaxing retreat.  We’re lucky to be so close!
    • New Mexico – When we were younger, we used to visit friends in Santa Fe fairly often, usually by car but a couple of times by train (always fun!).  We also visited Taos and other places I can’t remember very well as it’s been a number of years since we’ve been.
    • Nebraska – My mom’s best friend from college’s family used to live in Callaway, so we used to go up for the Kite Flight.  I don’t recall very much from these visits.
    • Kansas – I do live here, you know!  I’ve traveled quite a bit throughout the state, but mostly South Central and Western Kansas.  I’ve actually been to Paris the same number of times as I’ve been to Kansas City, so that tells you how often I get out to that side.
    • Oklahoma – My mom’s hometown is Okeene, so we’d visit my grandparents there and occasionally (unfortunately) for funerals and other events.  One of my mom’s brothers and her sister live in or near Tulsa, and I always enjoy those visits.  My dad’s brother’s family lives near Bartlesville in a little town called Nowata – we always enjoy visiting them, and the pace is a lot slower in small-town America!  I’ve never been to Oklahoma City, but that’s on the list for this year!
    • Texas – One of my uncles used to live in San Antonio, but it’s been too long ago to remember much.  However, in full memory, I recently traveled to Austin for a training at Apple’s offices there – it’s a great city!  I’ve been to the airport in Dallas more times than I can count, although I’ve never stepped foot in the city otherwise.
    • Minnesota, Tennessee, Georgia – Do airports count????
    • Missouri – I’ve mostly just passed through Missouri on the way to Indiana, for example, but about a year ago, my team and I went to the National Quiz Bowl Competition in St. Louis.  STL’s downtown is one of the most boring, ever.  There is literally nothing to do after dark, and really even before.  I’m sure the rest of the city is more vibrant with the colleges, but I wasn’t super-impressed with St. Louis.
    • Arkansas – We have friends and family in Arkansas, so we have visited the area in and around Walmartville (Bentonville), as well as the Heber Springs area.  It’s a gorgeous state with lots of lakes and wooded forests.
    • Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky – We passed through southern Illinois and made a dip into Kentucky while visiting my uncle for his graduation from St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in Indiana.  What a gorgeous and amazing, peaceful place!
    • Pennsylvania – On one of our trips to the D.C. Area, we visited Gettsyburg.  One thing I vividly (weirdly??) remember is eating at the Lincoln Diner in Gettysburg – what a dive, and the bathrooms were disgusting.  I want to visit the battlegrounds again as an adult so I can appreciate the site more, as well as visit Philadelphia.
    • Maryland – Baltimore and Annapolis.  Baltimore is great because of the harbor, and Annapolis is a beautiful, historic town that was great to visit for part of a day.  It is a wonderfully walkable city.
    • Delaware – I visited Delaware with my uncle on one of my trips to D.C. and we visited Smyrna and Dover, where we visited the state capitol building.  Earlier in the day, we came across a field of snow geese – my uncle honked his horn and I got some greatly-composed shots, but alas, they were taken with a crappy camera.
    • District of Columbia – I’ve visited D.C. I think six times over the years – two times with the whole family, once for a leadership conference in junior high, once for a journalism conference in high school, once by myself for Christmas Break, and then again with my parents for my birthday last year.  I always enjoy visiting the area as it is the seat of politics and history in our country, the museums, theaters and restaurants are great, and it’s a very nice place to visit.  My aunt, uncle and cousins live in a suburb in NoVa, so it’s great to visit them and be able to see these places as well.
    • Virginia & West Virginia – Since my aunt and uncle live in Virginia, I’ve visited it fairly frequently and have been fortunate to visit Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, as well as many battlegrounds and other historic spots (Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown come to mind), as well as Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Occoquan (where I had my first wine tasting and bought my first bottle of wine!) and Shenandoah National Park.  I heart Virginia.  I visited Harpers Ferry in West Virginia as part of the leadership conference in junior high.
    • Florida – I’ve visited Florida twice now to visit my friends, Laura and Charlie, who live in the Fort Lauderdale area.  I’ve been to Kissimmee/Lake Buena Vista to visit Disney World, as well as several beaches and the Coral Springs/Boca Raton area.  I’ve already written recent posts on these, so I won’t go into too much detail here!
  • Europe
    • United Kingdom – I visited London in 2011.  It was the first place I visited in Europe, and of course, the first after a long international flight.  I was just a bit crabby, and look forward to giving it a better chance in the future.
    • France – Paris. Paris!!  Awwww, Paris…  As Audrey Hepburn said, “Paris is always a good idea.”  Paris is where I fell in love with Europe, and, really, with travel.  There is so much to eat and do, it is gorgeous and stinky, and I love it.
    • Spain Barcelona.  Barcelona isn’t the first place I think of when daydreaming about exotic lands, but it is a fairly relaxed and cosmopolitan city – great to finish a trip with!
    • Germany – Berlin, Dresden, Nuremberg, Dachau, Füssen, Munich.  I am part German, so it’s natural that I would love that country.  Berlin is a place still trying to find its identity, and the afternoon Third Reich Walking Tour we took made the city meaningful and helped bridge a lot of connections in my mind.  In Dresden, a teacher friend and I met up for lunch with a foreign exchange student I’d had some classes with at the high school in Kansas and who lived a few hours away.  Nuremberg – the history and the flowers and the pretzels…pretty amazing.  Füssen – this is where we made the wet, long trek up the hill to Neuschwanstein Castle – amazing inside but I was disappointed that I didn’t get to see the traditional view of it and it was covered in scaffolding.  Munich – super clean and the food/beer scene is unbeatable – wonderful place to visit and I definitely want to go back.
    • Czech Republic – Prague.  Oh em gee.  The rooftops, the spires, the history, the architecture, the FOOD – we were fortunate to have been shown the city from a Southwest Kansas native.  Prague is one of my favorite cities and I have a number of great memories from there, all as vivid as if they’d happened yesterday.  One standout – eating dinner at a great restaurant in the Old Town Square while the Fan Park for the World Cup was a festive meeting of people and music just steps away.
    • Lichtenstein – Vaduz.  I almost wouldn’t count it, but we did stop for a bathroom break and hot chocolate (it was misty, cold and foggy as hell!), so count it I will.  Particularly since I likely won’t be back.  🙂
    • Austria – Innsbruck.  We made a quick visit to the Swarovski store in Innsbruck and saw remnants of the Winter Olympics on our way in and out of the city.  Unfortunately, the Golden Roof was covered and we couldn’t see it, but that’s travel for you!
    • Switzerland – Lucerne.  This region is the most naturally beautiful place I have ever visited – the greens, the blues, the forests, the lakes, the mountains…  The city of Lucerne is so incredibly clean and the trip up and down Mt. Pilatus and across Lake Lucerne are standout memories and made for stunning photo ops.

I sort of rushed towards the end and have a sinking feeling I used a lot of words repetitively and lost the great opportunity to post travel pics, but it is what I’ve made it…  Where have you traveled?  Share below!

31-Day Blog Challenge: An Average Day

Day 15/31

Is there ever really an “average day”?  My guess is no, but things have really calmed down lately outside my work life and I have, sadly, settled into a routine – the ultimate sign that you are a single adult with a full-time job.  (That just sounds sad…  Alas, it is where I’m at right now.)

A Day in the Life of Luke A. Bunker…  Prepare yourselves.  It is so. exciting…

The alarm on my phone goes off anywhere between 7:13 and 7:22 (I’m very weird with my wake-up times when I set them the night before!), followed by a usually-brief check of my corporate and personal email accounts and various social media and news apps.  I am up-to-date before I even step out of bed in the morning!  I then brush my teeth, take a shower (the thought of not taking a shower before stepping out before the public… just, no), and draw a blessing card (when I remember) as I hurriedly run out the door and make the drive across the tracks to work – hoping I don’t run into the train that conveniently comes through town right as people try to get to work.  🙂

When I get to work, any semblance of a routine is thrown out the window.  Depending on various maintenance actions or outages the previous evening, if applicable, the morning can be a stressful time in the IT Department.  Most days, things go fine, but we’ll know very quickly if someone pressed the wrong button.  🙂  Otherwise, every Tuesday morning right at 8:00, I attend a team meeting with reps from billing, customer service, sales and policy.  Various marketing and IT meetings happen throughout the month as well.

Throughout the morning, I will usually answer lots of phone calls and emails, whether it’s related to IT, computer questions or problems, iPhones or inventory.  I am usually one of the first points of contact for most wireless inventory questions, as well as weird iOS and iPhone things that pop up (why, oh why, did I have to become an iOS expert?!  I at least pretend pretty well.  LOL).  I will also answer calls from customers regarding their Internet and email services, and assist the rest of the Helpdesk team as they have questions or if issues pop up that they need help with.  I’ll also delegate tasks and projects as necessary to make sure things run smoothly.

Then, usually around 11:30-12:00, I’ll go with my coworker and friend to her house to cook or otherwise prepare lunch.  I used to eat out.  A LOT.  However, we’ve recently started to buy groceries and cook/eat at her house to eat a bit healthier (which is difficult as we want to add bacon to EVERYTHING) and save money.  Eating out is so expensive, and when most of the restaurants aren’t consistently good, it’s a better value when you’re a decent cook.  😉  Plus, I’m saving for a new camera – every dollar helps!

When I return to work after lunch, the afternoon usually proceeds pretty similarly to the morning, but by this point I will usually fill inventory orders that have come in throughout the day and make sure they get shipped out with UPS by their last pick-up of the day.  As 5:00 rolls around, if I’m at my desk, we will all anxiously await the 4:55 and 4:59 phone calls and wonder why people can’t respect office hours…  Seriously, I don’t know how this didn’t make it on my list of pet peeves.

If I get out of work on time, I’ll usually watch a few minutes of the evening news (holla for Brian Williams and NBC Nightly News!) and Wheel of Fortune with my dad. Otherwise, when I get home, I’ll start working on some project, whether it be reading, catching up on a favorite TV show (it sounds a lot better if you call it a project, right??!), cleaning/organizing, working on photos (ha!!!!!!!!) or reading up on personal email and social media.

As the evening rolls on, I will usually watch around an hour of current TV (this pretty much consists of The Bachelor – cue the pity) and then go back to whatever I was doing before.  Around 10:00-10:30, I’ll head down to my office to start writing on my blog and, of course, catch up on social media while listening to Spotify or Pandora as I don’t have any of my iTunes library downloaded on that particular computer.  I’ll usually get ready for bed around 11:20 or so and read for a little bit before turning the lights out and repeating it again the next day.

Now, what I’d like to say I did in my day was cook and eat an awesome breakfast (but, who the hell has the time for that?) and incorporate an hour at the gym every morning or evening…  I suppose it’s never to late to change!

What’s an average day look like for you?  Share in the comments!