Sunday, January 26, 2014

Down the Rabbit Hole!

This week my friends and I have been discussing the Peace Corps. Some of you may know that I am leaving, in July, to spend 27 month in South Africa with the Peace Corps. I have been asked multiple times to blog about my experience with the process. Here, it goes…

Growing up I knew that I possessed a gypsy soul. My passions have always included helping people, traveling, and exploring. Graduation was fast approaching and I still was undecided about the path I would take in life. My mind was unsettled, and I was reluctant to commit to a nine to five job. There was one thing I was absolutely certain of...I would stagnate in a typical office position! My future happiness was the most important factor in my career choice.

After what felt like an endless search I was informed that Peace Corps was holding an information session at my University. Peace Corps seemed like an answer to prayers. Not only was I able to live and work in another country, I could also explore another culture, and help people. Peace Corps was the perfect solution.

The application for the Peace Corps took hours. Well about 4 or 5 hours once I buckled down. The application was intense with multiple sections requiring detailed information.  About halfway through the application I felt like Alice in Wonderland, falling down the rabbit hole, I though the process would never end. Melodramatic… yes, but that was my exact feeling at the time.


The Application Included:

Personal Information
Application Information
Legal Information
Financial Obligations
Intelligence Activities and Organizations
Military Status
Family Information
Dependents
Job Preferences
Post-Secondary Education
Language Skills
Licenses and Certificates
Employment History
Community and Volunteer Activities
Geographic Preference
Practical Experience
Essays

I must admit that it took my two tries before I stopped procrastinating and buckled down.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Chippendales, Chinatown and the Hoover Dam: Goodbye Las Vegas

Thursday morning we woke up to after Christmas bliss. Jumping in the car, we headed to the Sak’s Fifth Avenue outlet. The sales were impressive, but alas there was nothing I was dying to take home. After Saks, we headed out for some heavy duty shopping as it was our last full day in Las Vegas. The outlet malls throughout Las Vegas were calling our names. After the our shopping expedition we headed back to our Las Vegas home for a little frivolity and fun.


After lunch,  we further explored Caesars Palace. The best find was perhaps the swimming pools. I truly wish that it had been summer so we could have dipped our toes in the pristine water.




After we finished exploring our next stop the Rio Hotel and Casino, where picked up tickets for the Chippendales.

The Chippendales was an interesting experience and very entertaining. I recommend that one should consume copious amounts of alcohol before the show and perhaps during, it just makes the show so much more pleasurable.


To cap off the night, we headed up to the VooDoo nightclub located at the top of Rio. The views were spectacular, the staff friendly and the air was frigid. Over all, the night was loads of fun!


Friday Morning

After the Chippendales adventure, we woke up to face our last morning in Las Vegas. After sleeping-in for far to long, we began our adventure to Chinatown.
Stopping in Chinatown we had lunch at a fabulous restaurant where I was able to utilize my Chinese.  After lunch, we headed to the plaza next door which contained a Chinese bakery and a milk tea shop.


After our stop in Chinatown,  we headed to the Hoover Dam. The Hoover Dam was our last stop before we took the short car ride back to the airport to head home. The Hoover Dam is something to witness. Tourists bustle back and forth across the dam while security hovers in the background.



On our way back up the twisty road heading away from the Dam,  we stopped at the overlook. The clear water, beautiful scenery, and good company had brightened the day taking the sting out of heading back to our wintery home.



Making our way back to the airport we said goodbye to Las Vegas and our time in the sun.



Sunday, January 5, 2014

Vegas Part 2

Las Vegas, what an experience; I recommend a visit at least once in your life time.

Tuesday

This afternoon was all about exploring the Las "Vegas Strip". Peggy was the primary photographer throughout week, so the majority of photos are courtesy of Peggy.


Due to an error, my home base was an opulent suite at Caesars Palace.  Next time I visit Las Vegas, my standard budget accommodation and service will feel sparse in comparison.


Caesar's luxurious lobby greeted us upon check-in and it is nearly empty before 11a.m.; at the stroke of 11 the lobby magically becomes a cultural center.


Holiday decorations were draped throughout the casino. In fact, of all the casinos and hotels I best enjoyed the decorations at the Bellagio.


Gambling at Caesars Place.

My only complaint about Las Vegas is the extreme amount of smoke in the Casinos. Walking the floors of the many "strip"casinos, one is surrounded by a cloud of cheap cigarettes and booze.


Tuesday evening we dined at Nobu.


A Japanese fine dinning experience! Spoiler alert, the final bill will require a week's wages.


Christmas in Las Vegas!

Wide awake at 7 a.m., with the goal of a motorized exploration of the real Las Vegas while city residents and tourists were still tucked in bed, or opening Santa's presents. Driving around the city, with no traffic or pedestrians was a great decision. Christmas morning breakfast was held at one of the few open restaurants, IHOP, and then a ride out to the mountains.

Around the noon hour, as automobile and pedestrian traffic increased, we decided to return the car and rely on foot power to do some shopping on the strip. The Forum Shops at Caesars Place is a magical shopping venue. Ceilings resemble the sky, with shop facades resembling an outdoor village.


The Forum Shops are amazing, however we could not resist heading to "the strip" to grab coffee at Starbucks and stroll around. 


Later, we met up with mom and dad for dinner.
At the end of the evening, we headed back outside to see the lights in the Casinos and on the strip. 


Our first stop was of course Paris (the Las Vegas Version). Unfortunately, this was the only shot we remembered to take of the mini Eiffel tower.


Our next stop was the Bellagio. Peg happened upon Santa's workshop in the Bellagio's version of a Christmas wonderland. 


Tinsel, Christmas ornaments, and a slight frost in the air contributed to a magical night.  


A favorite area in the Bellagio Christmas Wonderland was where the trains were steaming through the a mass of Poinsettias, that encircled the giant Christmas tree. 


Neither  Peg, or me brought a camera. Peg used her phone(Samsung Galaxy s4) to take this cool photo, with the little heart. 








Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Arrival in Las Vegas

Last week was absolutely magical! For Christmas, we spent the week in Las Vegas exploring the sites and sounds. It is surprisingly hard to find free internet in Vegas; so I wrote down my thoughts in a journal until I could share them with you this week.

Monday was a bit harsh. Our plane was delayed, instead of taking off at 8pm we ended up taking off around 2am. Forgive me for the lack of pictures, by this point in the night they would have been horrifying as we looked a bit zombie-like from our state of sleep deprivation.

We arrived in Las Vegas and went to pick up our rental car around 5am. After which we finally headed out of the rental car terminal ready for our first glimpse of Las Vegas.

The streets were desolate, and the air was dry. Such a pleasant change from our wintry Arkansas weather.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Snow-days

Yesterday, I woke up to a chill in the air and a prayer for snow. Looking out my window at 7am I was greeted with a light dusting of snow. I must say that I miss my sisters! This is the first time since starting college that I have not been huddled with them playing board games or watching TV while it snowed outside. It had truly signaled an end to my beloved undergraduate years.

Running outside into the snow I convinced my host brother to snap a few shots of me playing while his feet froze on the porch.

My mom sent me a few pics of their back yard in Fayetteville which I have posted at the bottom ê



I have always loved the first snow fall of the year it. To me it signals a clean slate to start anew.



 I'm a bit tired after my romp in the snow!



Under the snow is a a 2 or 3 inch layer of ice! It doesn't seem very steep until you start going down the hill.


 My lovely host families house.


 I have not been able to move my poor little car since Friday!


The roads are a mass of ice still!

Fayetteville Pictures Below ê


I wish we had that much snow in Little Rock!


The little prints you see in the snow are from my two dogs.