Well, I’ve finally recuperated from our States Tour. Jet Lag, Travel Hangover… whatever you want to call it. It took my 5 days to get back to my Pura Vida routine. And that’s ok. In our 3 weeks in the States, we were in all 4 time zones, 8 different states, flew a total of 8 flights, did a 3-day drive of 2100 miles, and stayed up past our bed time every night. And I wouldn’t trade any of it. Best part? Spending quality time with our Mom’s and siblings and nieces and nephews. Oh and eating a darn good burger every now and then.
This was our first time back in a year and a half, and our hugely anticipated trip turned out great in every way (except an unexpected 2-day layover in Denver, but we made the best of it).
Our Costa Rican friends warned us of “reverse culture shock”, but we really didn’t experience this, even though I was ready for it and hyper aware of everything that could have been construed as such.
Here’s a few of my thoughts on our States trip:
AMERICAN FOOD. We LOVED the food! This was one of those things we were really looking forward to (and Greg was dreaming about on a nightly basis before we left Cost Rica). I had a cheeseburger more than once, lots of Italian food, frozen custard and when in Wisconsin – Taco John’s and LOTS OF CHEESE (including fried cheese curds, duh).
TRAFFIC. We hated the traffic. This was mainly in Dallas. It just took forever to get anywhere and everything was far, far away. But I’m not complaining (really) – we were very grateful to have a car loaned to us by family to get around. One time we even took the DART light rail and it worked out great.
OVER-SERVICE. Especially in Dallas – I noticed almost an “over service” situation in wait staff at restaurants. Sure in Costa Rica they leave you alone almost TOO much (especially when your glass has been empty for a while and you’re really ready for another beer). In Dallas, they were constantly coming to our table and interrupting us – telling us about their specials, refilling our glasses even though they weren’t half empty yet, giving us a 5 minute dissertation on why it would benefit us to fill out their survey or how they were training someone, you don’t mind if he tags along and asks you questions, do you? Don’t get me wrong, the service was great – but it became irritating when every time Greg & I would start talking about something juicy, there would appear Ms. Waitress with her Side-Kick Trainee to ask or tell us about something else.
ALLERGIES: Greg & I NEVER get sick in Costa Rica. We’ve been here almost 2 years now, and Greg has been sick once (at the very beginning), and… that’s it. Greg used to catch colds in Dallas like every 6 weeks. He also had allergies every night when we went to bed (he still claims he was NOT allergic to going to bed with me). When we were in Idaho, I came down with a sinus headache and runny nose; and when we were in Wisconsin Greg woke up one night with terrible sinus pressure and pain (both instances were cleared up with sinus meds and by the next day we were fine).
DEALS: I wanted some good smelling Bath & Body Works lotion to take back to Costa Rica with me. Only problem: we were getting pretty limited with our luggage weight already, and I knew I could only squeeze one bottle in (and that was if I was lucky or packed really smart). Well, Bath & Body Works LOVES their “Buy 3 get 1 free” specials – which they have some deal like this for EVERY single thing in the store. This guy could not stop telling me about the deal on lotion. He could not understand that I only wanted ONE bottle. He got pretty animated and adamant with me, which upset me after a while. I wasn’t required to tell him about my packing dilemma, etc. – I could buy JUST ONE BOTTLE if I wanted to, right? (In the end I got my way and only bought one bottle. But I did cave in and end up telling him my packing woes and that I lived in Costa Rica… which always seems to stun people).
Some trip highlights for me:
1. SEEING FAMILY. This was, hands down, the best part. We got to spend a lot of time with Shirley (Greg’s Mom), especially on our 3-day drive from Dallas to Portland. Shirley had sold her house in Dallas and was moving in with Greg’s sister, Misty and their family in Canby, just south of Portland. They had reconstructed the whole 2nd floor of their house into a private apartment for her – we were impressed – it’s really nice. Shirley wanted her car there with her, so we drove with her, which was perfect because we had been itching to see Misty & Brady and the 7 kiddo’s! Here’s the Seymour clan (Texas and Oregon crew):
It was wonderful to spend a week at my Mom’s in Wisconsin Rapids, WI, and all 3 of my brothers and their fam’s visited so we got to see (almost) everyone. My birthday happened while we were at my Mom’s, so she put of the classic 30-yr-old “Happy Birthday” sign for me (well actually I was the first one up that morning, so she had me put it up, but still…). She took Greg & I out that night for a good steak dinner – and it was so good to have a decent filet mignon (especially with bacon and gorgonzola on it!).
2. 30 SECONDS: My 30 seconds of fame on a little TV show supporting my girl Brittany, a woman’s body image advocate (that’s me with Flamingo Beach, Costa Rica behind me!), this aired while we were in the States:
3. BOOK PARTY: My friend Melissa, who I hadn’t seen for almost 30 years (we met in the KIDS FROM WISCONSIN – she sang and danced while I played the keyboards, we bonded over Anais Anais perfume and Ausie Scrunch Hair Spray), threw me an absolutely amazing Book Reading & Signing Party in Neenah, WI! I was completely overwhelmed. #1 – that her friends would even come (they don’t know me) and #2 – that Melissa was wanting to do this for me (what a completely selfless act)! There were about 15 girls there altogether, they were SO nice and so interested in me and my story and my book. Melissa had taken the day off of work and had a beautiful spread of food: chicken salad (which was the best I’ve ever tasted), tuna salad, croissants, fresh fruit, a broccoli salad, coffee, lemonade…. I was really humbled and blown away. What a great day in her beautiful and comfy home. You Neenah girls rock!!!
5. BEND, OREGON: When we were in Canby, OR, we drove 3 hours to visit a friend living in Bend. I’m mentioning Bend – because we immediately fell in LOVE with Bend. It very much reminded us of Boulder, CO. Cute, small-ish town with lots of Breweries (these are everywhere in Oregon), bookstores, coffee shops, gift shops, bike trails on every street, people working out everywhere we went… Gorgeous mountains and boulders. Too bad it’s really expensive to live there:
6. SEEING FRIENDS: We got together with so many friends in Dallas and Wisconsin Rapids, really great seeing and catching up with some of our favorite people. Plus we usually met out for dinner, so we got to eat more amazing “American Food”!
7. IMPROMPTU DENVER TRIP: Even though we didn’t intend to be in Denver for 2 days (had a layover there due to a Tornado Warning), we made the most of it! We hung out on the 16th Street Mall downtown, where they had these cooly painted upright pianos outside (I shamelessly played 3 of them!):Then we hooked up with our pal Wayne Harrison, who works for a news station in Denver (he and his wife will be moving to Costa Rica later this year), and he got us in to see a LIVE news broadcast. This was WAY cool (thank you, Wayne!):
However, the best, best, BEST part of this trip – for me – was seeing my MOM. Yep. Miss you, Mom!