Would sir desire a kibble?

This is my blatant attempt at being more dooce-like. And to direct your attention to more new pictures. Now appearing in my Picasa account is an album documenting the family's visit to Arizona. Below are a few more highlights.

Bandit wanted some of Mom's Orange Sourdough Pancakes. I don't blame him as they are the Food of the Gods.

Those ruby slippers are attached to Viviane's feet.

Emily, my dad's youngest sister and my Aunt Mimi.

This is what 50+ years of marriage looks like.

Family Visit


We have spirit yes we do!
We have spirit how 'bout you?!?!

Meant to post this on Sunday. It's a screen shot of my Facebook friends' status feeds. Way to keep it real, Sarah.


Inspired: A faith journey

I'm trying to be more open to experiencing God in new and maybe uncomfortable ways without losing the faith that's important to me.

While I was traveling, it was easy to seek out new religious experiences. I loved learning the histories of synagogues, mosques and temples and how the structures aide and inform worship. It was inspiring to see how similar the faith experience is across the continents, and it gave me confidence that though I will never know all the answers, I can be assured that the desire to connect to something greater than myself is universal and therefore True.

One of the big lessons for me was to see how important culture was to religious experiences. How can I chastise or challenge someone on their belief structure if that's the cultural structure they know and trust? This also means that I have to be aware of the cultural influences on my own religious experiences. And if that's true for the foreign lands I visited, it means I have to afford the same respect for the different belief and cultural structures I come across in my own country and my own faith. It's harder for me to willingly expose myself to more literal interpretations of Christianity. It was a stretch for me, then, to attend the more conservative Women of Faith conference with Beth Moore as a speaker with my visiting aunts a week ago. I was reminded, though, that while I may disagree on some of the particulars, the connection with my aunts and grandmother was wholly ecumenical.


Inspired: a new short series

I'm going to try to do a brief series on things that struck me and stuck with me during my travels. This will give me some specific memories to bring up from my travels and will be a chance to share how I hope to bring the little things I experienced into my life here and now.

I'm trying to walk more

While in Europe I walked everywhere. There was one day in Munich where I went on three walking tours. It was nothing to me to spend a whole day just exploring a city step by step. It made me pay more attention to the buildings around me and the faces I passed on the sidewalks. And it was an awesome way to stay in shape during my absence from the gym. I found that when I was in Asia I did a lot less walking. The weather made it uncomfortable to expend too much energy, and the locals were too ready to take you (and your luggage) to your destination on the back of their motorbikes for 50¢. Call me weird, but I started missing the chore of lugging my backpack through subways and side streets. It made the arrival at the hotel seem a little less like a major success when I didn't have to exert much effort.

From my house, I can walk to three different grocery stores. I used to be able to walk to four, but the Albertsons shut down a couple months ago. Why, then, do I jump in the car and waste gas to go pick up a box of cereal? I am starting to try harder to rely on foot power rather than gas power. It will take a bit more time, sure. But it will also take a few more calories, and there's nothing wrong with that.


Memories in Pieces

One of my biggest regrets from my travels was that I didn’t write enough about my adventures, not on here, not in my journal, not in letters home. I meant to write more; I really wanted to preserve the events in a way that I could turn to those words years later and spark memories of adventures with names and places that had faded from recall. But when it came to having to choose between capturing those adventures on paper or experiencing more adventures, I usually chose to experience more than I could record.

Or else I chose to sleep.

But this choice means that I haven’t told you about how amazing it was to feel the power of an elephant’s ears pressing my legs against her head as I rode around the jungle. Or the fun of splashing around in a Vietnam mud bath with new friends and fellow travelers. Or how I relaxed in (gifted) luxury at the Sheraton in Singapore on my last night in Asia. Or the sense of accomplishment I felt after cycling the very steep, windy hill up to the castle in Budapest. Now it’s been more than a month that I’ve been on American soil and those little memories are starting to drift away.

I know it sounds strange, but part of me doesn’t want to tell these stories because by telling them in past tense I have to admit that my stint of adventuring is over for now.


A Photo Guide

One of the best things I did before the start of my trip was to buy a new camera. A big camera. A REAL camera. I never anticipated how much it would change my ability to take pictures. I felt like I captured photographs rather than snapshots. I wondered if I would want to lug such a behemoth around, but once I started seeing the pictures it took, I was convinced my Canon point-and-shoot would no longer satisfy me. In fact, of the 5,000+ pictures I took while traveling, probably only 100 or so were from the point-and-shoot.

Along the way I picked out nearly 800 pics to put in my Picasa albums, but if that still seems like a lot to look through, I've tagged a series of my favorites, which you can see here. (You might need to click on the "Erica's Gallery" link in the upper right.) I've also tagged all the self-portraits I took along the way, mostly for the sake of my mother, who I think was more interested in seeing that I was alive and healthy rather than the places I was going or the random people I was meeting. And for all the people who contributed to my "travel photo scavenger hunt" those pictures can be found here.

The last of the photos

I found a set of pictures I hadn't uploaded to Picasa yet. They're from my last night out in London and they probably explain why I felt so crappy in Paris the next day.

Ally & I enjoy a cable car ride in San Francisco

Granddaddy and Bonnie (Bandit's "cousin")

My dad was recognized as a Fellow within the American Society of Landscape Architects. To be invested as a Fellow is the highest honor a landscape architect can receive in the professional organization. This shot was taken at the black tie dinner held in honor of the new Fellows.

Last Night in London

San Francisco

Dad's ASLA Fellows Celebration


Pictures for now. Words (and more pics) to come later

It's hard to update now that I'm back. My daily adventures in Arizona don't seem as entertaining as my daily adventures backpacking around the world. As the pics below should show, though, I am having fun exploring the Phoenix area all over again.

Jess & Eric on the top of Camelback Mountain

My reaction to the thought of returning to the "real" world

Viviane on a sunny day

More Viviane. Check out those eyelashes!

If that's too many Viviane pics for you, then don't check out the album because there are a dozen more like them

Kendra after breaking a plate at a local Greek restaurant. Opa!

A hot Bandito

Eric & I infiltrated the bounce house at the Big XII picnic. I think we had more fun than the kids.

For more pics, check out the albums:

Hiking Camelback

Fun with Viviane, #73

More Fun in Arizona

Big XII Alumni Picnic 2007