Posts from the ‘Travel’ Category

Some other beginning’s end

After a two-and-a-half hour march across Paris from the Latin Quarter to Pont de Grenelle, just south of the Eiffel Tower, I was absolutely exhausted. It was our last night in Paris, and DH wanted to see the replica of the Statue of Liberty that stands on the tip of a small island in the Seine. But after six days of walking around the City of Lights, my back and feet were relieved to plop down on a rail by the quay as he took some nice dusky pictures of the stature.

I idly pulled my smartphone out of my purse; we weren’t paying for cell or data coverage here, so I was relying on wireless internet during our trip to connect with the world back home. Our apartment rental came with free access to a city-wide wifi network, but it was a long shot that there would be a wifi hotspot here. However, I was in luck. I connected and proceeded to download something like twenty emails, mostly junk mail and advertisements. However, one message caught my eye.

It was an email automatically generated from the same automated online system I had used nearly two months before to apply to one of the jobs for which I had interviewed in August. Evidently it was news of some kind about my application. I opened it and quickly scrolled through; after many uninformative and irrelevant words I saw the ones that mattered: “You were not selected for this position.”

Halfway through our European trip was not the time to fret about life-altering decisions and revelations. After a few minutes of absorbing the news, I stood up, dusted myself off, and walked to the nearest metro stop. I thought about jobs I might apply for when we got home; we pondered the possibility of living on one income for the foreseeable future. We settled the matter in our minds and proceeded to enjoy the second half of our European trip.

One week later, after 11 hours on a trans-Atlantic flight from Rome to Charlotte, NC, I eagerly turned my phone on to access domestic cellular and data for the first time since we left. I knew my parents would want to know we were back in the states, especially since they were picking us up at the airport when we made it back to Denver. However, what download to my phone was not a voice mail from a friend or family member, but one from the very same job that, one week earlier, I was told I did not get.

All I can figure is that there was some strange goof in the automated system. The voice mail, from that very same morning while I was in the air over the Atlantic, was from a real, honest-to-goodness human being offering me the job. So, with American soil under our feet for a mere two minutes, all of our resolutions and Plan B’s were completely erased and all of a sudden I was faced with a monumental life decision.

It was too late to respond that day, which was just fine. I still had customs and immigration, another flight, and the drive home to process what was even going on. When I called back the next morning–exhausted, jet-lagged, fighting a cold–she reiterated what she stated in the voice mail and gave me until the end of the following day to make my decision.

It may seem like a short turn-around, but in reality there wasn’t that much more to think about. All the time I was applying for the job, talking to them over the phone, going there in person to interview, I was formulating the answer to the question “what if.” All the time I was waiting for their decision I was determining what I would say if they offered. I knew what my answer was going to be. I didn’t need the time to decide, only to find the courage to accept the truth of my decision in my heart.

I know it sounds ridiculous that I could know I made the right choice, know that I had peace about the choice, yet still sob into DH’s shoulder for a long time after I returned her call to let her know my decision. I knew it was the right choice, but the repercussions of it were so significant. I knew I was grieving for what I’d be leaving behind; I was terrified for the new that was to come; I was unsure of all we’d now have to do to get there.

But I knew that I was taking the job and that we were moving to Washington, DC.

After the end of the fiber, a journey I started eight years ago was now complete and another beginning.

************

Closing time…every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

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There and back again

Long time no blog. Sorry for the lack of posting in the last few weeks, but I do have a good excuse. I’m sure you won’t fault me for it.

In order to celebrate my completion of graduate school and achievement of my PhD, DH volunteered to take me on a very nice trip. We spent a lot of time figuring out where we wanted to go and when we would be able to go there. There has been a lot going on with finishing up my work and interviewing for jobs and this and that; however, we decided that if we waited for “just the right time” to go somewhere, we’d never end up going, because there just is never the perfect time. So we decided to go ahead and just book a trip and let the rest of everything going on happen around it.

There are many attractive and interesting destinations around the world, and we considered many different possibilities. However, in the end I decided that if I got to go anywhere, I wanted to go to Paris. I took so many years of French in high school and college and even excelled at it, and, though I’m quite rusty now, I’ve always had a desire to go to France and experience the culture about which I had learned for so long. Plus, traveling to an international destination was one of the biggest items on our 101-in-1001 lists, and we got to check that off!

Since we were planning to get the most out of this opportunity to cross the pond, we decided to take two entire weeks to travel over there. While I could happily spend two weeks in Paris, we decided to actually see some other sights while we were over there. We ultimately decided on a multi-city itinerary, connecting the cities by train.

We started off with six nights in Paris, where we rented an apartment just south of Gare du Nord and Montmartre. We purchased a Paris Museum Pass for six days. I very highly recommend this pass, which gives you entry into most of Paris’ main attractions (Eiffel Tower being the main exception) for two, four, or six consecutive days. You skip the ticket line just about everywhere and go directly in, saving significant time (though you will often have to stand in a security line regardless; can’t bypass that!). It also gave us entrance to a few sights we wouldn’t have thought to do before, plus, to be perfectly honest, we used it a couple of times for entrance to museums so we could use the facilities. However, these were at least educational and edifying potty breaks. 😉 I also highly recommend a good travel guide; I used the one by Rick Steves for both Paris and Rome and found it to be invaluable for suggestions on beating crowds, saving Euros, and walking about town.

With six days, we did pretty much everything we wanted to do in the city with a little time to be relaxed about it. However, that doesn’t mean we didn’t walk probably ten or fifteen miles every single day! My feet and back were complaining a bit, but we saw a lot of the town on foot. We did make strategic use of the Metro and suburban train system, too. Paris is really great about that. We covered all the big sites: the Louvre, Versailles, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame (including climbing the towers), Arc de Triomphe, a walking tour of Montmartre, the Orsay Museum, and more. We also discovered a number of smaller gems thanks to the Museum Pass and the travel guide.

Paris was probably my favorite destination, though I certainly enjoyed our other stops, too. I certainly hope to go back again one day! I’d also love to explore more of France outside the city.

My favorite view of Notre Dame….I like big buttresses and I cannot lie.

Eiffel Tower by night…and I did go all the way to the top!

One of the many ornate bridges across the Seine.

After our stint in Paris, we caught a train to Zurich. We overnighted there before a train through the Alps over Gotthard Pass into northern Italy, but we enjoyed our time walking around the old town and feeding swans and ducks by the lake. We also purchased lots of chocolate, though we were a bit disappointed to not find any actual chocolatiers in town. We had really wanted to do fondue while we were there, but despite lots of research and investigation, we just couldn’t come up with a plan to work for our one evening there. Plus, it’s not really fondue season just yet.

Old town Zurich on the Limmat River.

Duck….duck…..swan!

Our scenic train trip through the Alps was an intentional destination in our itinerary, and it was really awesome to see, even if just through a train window. That unfortunately didn’t make for very nice pictures to show you.

After a train switch in Milan, we headed to Venice for two days. Venice is such an interesting city; while there are some interesting sights there, like the Doge’s Palace and San Marco’s Basilica, Venice itself is the most interesting sight. Our experience there was particularly “interesting” because of our lodging. The landlady at the bed and breakfast didn’t speak any English (her husband did, but he was evidently out of town), and for some reason this destination was fraught with a handful of small hiccups. However, after much gesturing and nodding, everything turned out just fine; we had a nice place to stay, and made it to our final destination without further incident.

A typical canal in Venice.

After that, we topped off our trip with four days in Rome. We rented a nice apartment literally steps from the Vatican Wall and museum entrance. In the Eternal City, we invested in a Roma Pass, which gave us two free entrances to sights, but we found it to be worth it particularly for the metro and bus pass. By this point we were exhausted from walking across three countries (four if you count the Vatican), and we used every opportunity to ride the metro there. I can’t count how many times we transferred at Termini station. But otherwise, Rome was very walkable, maybe even moreso than Paris.

The Colosseum

Rome is such an old and interesting city. We saw ancient sights and “modern” Baroque buildings literally side-by-side. We also were very excited to have the unique opportunity to see the Vatican Museum on Friday evening. They open late on Fridays a few months out of the year, so we reserved our spot ahead of time and completely beat the enormous lines that we saw every single day there. We also went to St. Peter’s Basilica and climbed to the top of the dome, which was a bit claustrophobic and nerve-wracking but worth the effort. And the church itself is just enormous beyond description.

View from the very top of the cupola of St. Peter’s.

Admiring the dome of the Pantheon

We flew home from Rome after 14 days of traveling. All in all, it seemed like a pretty good division of time between cities, though we’d like to actually see more of Switzerland another time. We also enjoyed the experience of train travel, though arranging four separate tickets did get a bit tricky on the front end. But the time I invested in carefully planning our itinerary, travel, and lodging seemed to pay off with few, minor hiccups along the way.

We got back on Tuesday night, and we were absolutely exhausted! We pretty much walked everywhere, with modest support from metro and buses. DH came home a little sick, and I’m still a little tired and having a hard time not waking up too early. But it was still a lot of fun. My parents came to house sit and watch the dog for us, which was great. They enjoyed a mini-vacation away from home, and we didn’t have to worry about our pup getting lonely or in trouble. I think it worked out well for everyone.

So now we’d just trying to get back to normal, though “normal” is not a word that is really describing our life at the moment. If our two-week trip to Europe was big, then what happened when we got back was totally epic. I’ll have to tell you all about that next time.

P.S. A special thanks to my followers who are travel bloggers and francophiles whose adventures inspired me on my trip! Bon voyage!

Head for the hills!

DH and I took advantage of a free weekend to do something we’ve been meaning to do for a while–take a trip up to the Black Hills area of South Dakota. This isn’t one of our 101-in-1001 travel items, but it should have been (we might have to substitute it for another one, though). Since I haven’t been anywhere since Christmas (and then we just went home to visit) and it might be a little while yet till our proper celebratory vacation, it was much needed and surprisingly effective, even if it was just a two day trip.

The trip to the scenic location unfortunately required a six hour drive across the absolute bleakness of eastern Wyoming. However, DH and I kept ourselves entertained by listening to the Grand Ole Opry live and some old Hank Williams, Sr. recordings–huzzah for satellite radio. Finally we made it to our hotel and began exploring the area the next morning.

The Black Hills region, located in the southwestern corner of South Dakota, is characterized by dramatic granite hills and spires, rugged and inhospitable buttes, and rolling plains.

These granite hills are home to one of the most iconic monuments in America, Mount Rushmore.

DH and I visited Mt. Rushmore in the evening. We were tired and hungry after a long day and really debated whether to stay for the nightly lighting ceremony. While standing right there, we decided to look up and watch a video of the lighting ceremony on YouTube. So we got to see it while not actually having to stay to see the real thing.

Okay, okay. I’m kidding. Well, about the leaving part that is; I’m quite serious about watching the video. 😉 We poked around the gift shop long until it time for the show, so we stayed. It was quite patriotic and dramatic, and while it was late when it ended, we were glad we stayed. And at the end of the ceremony all the veterans were invited to the front to state their name and service, and a few helped take down the flag for the evening. It was quite a meaningful experience.

Earlier that day, we did some scenic driving in the hills. We walked through historic Deadwood, the iconic wild west town, and drove through Sturgis, motorcycle mecca. I personally didn’t find it very exciting, but that’s just me. We also drove east towards the Badlands, first stopping at Wall Drug in the city of Wall. This is quite possibly the most awesome tourist trap ever. Featuring five cent cups of coffee, free ice water, a tyrannosaurus rex, and home-made donuts, it’s just about as close to Disneyland as you can come in the middle of nowhere. And of course, any day you get to sit on a large jackelope is a good day.

Moving on from the drug store took us to the Badlands themselves. This is an interesting geologic feature, a cross between the Grand Canyon and desert buttes. It really is quite desolate.

The next morning we spent driving around Custer State Park, which features both the granite hills and the rolling plains. The plains are home to lots of interesting animals like deer and pronghorns. We even saw a turkey and a roadrunner while there, two birds you don’t just come across every day. However, there are two more notable creatures in the park. First is a very large herd of bison, which we were excited to see during our drive.

The other interesting herd is a pack of burros, the descents of a herd used by pioneers. Evidently, they are also called the “begging burros,” for very obvious reasons. Say cheese, guys.

Our last stop on our way out of town was Wind Cave, a national park just south of Custer State Park. This is one of the longest caves in the world, with 138 miles currently explored but over 2,000 miles suspected to be lurking under just a few square miles above. DH and I took a cave tour (a mere two miles) before heading back home.

All in all, it was a great trip, short but full of interesting sights. We might have enjoyed another day to spread out our excursions, but we did everything we wanted to do and didn’t feel horribly pressed for time. We also picked a great weekend to go; it had been very hot, but it was cloudy and cool all weekend. I think it rained at home the entire time we were gone, too, so I’m glad we got rain but didn’t have to wade out in in.

It might be a little out of the way, but if you’re ever in the area or can make the trip, I highly recommend it!

14,278 ft.

There are 54 (more or less) mountain peaks in Colorado with the distinction of having summits over 14,000 ft. above sea level. These mountains are lovingly called “fourteeners.” A favorite pastime in Colorado is “peak bagging,” in which someone seeks to climb as many 14,000+ peaks as possible. It’s pretty common to hear of folks bagging all 54 (more or less). This is not, however, very common to hear in our household.

The only fourteener we’d ever bagged was Pike’s Peak in Colorado Springs, which we did by cog railway train one Memorial Day a few years ago. No sweat. However, on our 101-in-1001 list, we did put “climb” a fourteener as one of our local to-dos. I did put the word in quotes so we could count Mt. Evans if we got the opportunity to do that one day (Evans and Pikes Peak are the only two you can drive to the top of).

I didn’t really anticipate actually climbing one; in my mind I always saw it as quite a challenging task well beyond my skill and fitness level. And indeed, there are many peaks that require technical rock climbing and very long trails to the top. Furthermore, a significant mountain climb requires a ridiculously early start, as dangerous thunderstorms are prone to pop up at any time in the afternoon out of the clear blue, leaving you utterly defenseless on the bare face. Ideally, you should be well on your way back down by noon. Plus, hiking at such altitude is not trivial even for the fit.

However, over the years I heard from various people that there were some peaks that were actually more accessible in both their location as well as their technical difficulty. In fact, a few were within an hour drive of Denver with well established hiking trails to the top, making it unnecessary to get there before dawn in order to get on the trail early enough. With some trailheads starting “just” 3,000 ft. below the summit, the overall distance to the peak is even downright reasonable.

DH and I had been pondering the idea of doing one of these so-called “easy” peaks at some point, but it was hard to know where to start, as we don’t have much experience in the area.  However, we were recently talking with multiple friends at various times who recommended one to us as a good one for “beginners.” Grays Peak is just a short drive from Denver, and its proximity and well-marked trail make it a very popular hike for locals. It’s also a two-for-one; with minimal (relatively) effort, you can summit Grays and take a short hike over a saddle over to Torreys Peak, also 14,000+ ft, and bag two in one trip.

We thought we might work our way up to it with a few lower altitude hikes throughout the summer, but when our friend said he was thinking of taking a casual “stroll” up Grays in his spare time, we decided it would behoove us to take advantage of the opportunity to go with an experienced outdoors-man who’s done a few of these before. Therefore, we packed up our gear in our truck and headed out to hit the trail with three of our good friends.

The weather could not have been more perfect for climbing a fourteener. Not a single cloud in the sky, and no threat of thunderstorms all day. It was over 100 in Denver, so the temp was really not cold at all at altitude. There were a few strong gusts of wind, but not prolonged and manageable.

Destination: Grays Peak: 14,278 ft. and ~4 miles. As seen from the trailhead.

We started off a little less than ideal, though; as this is a popular destination on a summer Saturday, it seemed like all of Denver was there. We parked 1.5 miles below the trailhead, so we had a decent hike in before we even got started. However, once we got going, we managed a pretty good slow and steady pace up through the broad meadow to the base of the mountain. A couple of people from our group decided to take it easy and decided not to go all the way, and around 12,500 ft. the rest of us started up the actual mountain face.

The key to hiking at such high altitude is to take it super slow and steady. There’s also no shame in taking many breaks, even just a few hundred feet apart, especially as you get up around 14,000 ft. Even the most fit people are doing the same thing; your body just can’t function the same with so much less oxygen, plus you’re climbing, too, after all. Slow and steady wins the race here.

At one point nearing the top, our group of three stopped to rest, and after a few minutes I told DH and our friend that I’d go ahead and start my slow plod up the mountain, figuring that they’d eventually catch up to me before the summit. The distance between us waxed and waned for a while, but before I knew it, I looked back and couldn’t see them at all! Somehow, even at such high altitude, I had hit a stride, and even with slow plodding and frequent rests, I was steadily ascending to the top. At the last switchback before summiting, I looked down to see DH and my friend on their way. I decided to hang back a few minutes so we could summit together. Sure enough, we all made it to the top.

The top of a 14-er….popular tourist destination with traffic jams!

And by “all,” I do mean half of the Denver metro area. Like I said, it’s a very popular trail, and it was quite packed with people all the way along it; that made a few of the rockier and steeper sections a bit more fun to navigate. However, our trusty guide led us to a little hidey hole away from the crowd where we could lounge out of the wind, eat some food, and take in the blue sky. It was almost like being at the beach. Almost.

Just chillin’ at 14,278 ft.

It’s quite an amazing view from the top of such a mountain. You could see so many miles in all directions. I could see ski resorts, the interstate, reservoirs, and other mountains I recognized. I could even see smoke from the High Peak fire in Ft. Collins. It’s quite a change in perspective.

From the top of Grays, it’s a nary but a quick jaunt over to Torreys across the saddle. However, it was getting pretty late and we were pretty tired (I’d spent that extra 1.5 miles hiking from the car to the trailhead), and we still had to get down the mountain. So that will have to wait for another day.

You are parked here…and you’ve gotta get back there somehow!

You would probably imagine that it’s all downhill from here, right? Well, you’d technically be correct, but people usually don’t appreciate how difficult downhill can be. The trail was very loose and quite steep in places, meaning you had to be very careful with your footing lest you slip off the trail and down the face. Hiking down a steep incline is also quite hard on your legs and knees. Therefore, we didn’t make any better time going down than we did going up until we got back to the broader, more meadow-like area. And by then, my legs were so tired that even the smallest step down over a rock was a potential hazard for tripping or twisting an ankle. My legs were sooo tired by the time we got back to the trailhead that I almost thought I couldn’t take one more step without resting. (I also had to pee pretty significantly at that point, making it even more miserable…I’ve never been so excited to see a vault toilet in my life) However, I dug down and found the strength to make it back. My quads were terribly sore for about two or three days, though, and I was completely exhausted and good for nothing on Sunday!

All in all, it was a good experience, despite the exhaustion near the end. There’s no way I could have done this without having trained for the 10K run in the past months; that gave me the cardio capacity and some more leg endurance to tackle it. A hike or two at lower elevations probably would have been good, but we still managed alright. DH did have a bit of altitude sickness, but despite not feeling great he still had a stellar performance. We may or may not tackle another “easy” one in the future, but at least we can say we’ve done it, and we’ve cross another 101-in-1001 item off our list. Very satisfying.

June Monthly Challenge: Win all the prizes!

It is, inexplicably, already June. Since I already reinstated goal-of-the-week as a way to keep me pumped up during this transitional time, I am reintroducing a monthly challenge for myself as well.

For the month of June, I am going to enter all the sweepstakes and drawings and contests I come across, and hopefully with an increase in participation I will statistically increase my odds of actually winning something! Of course, I really don’t like statistics, so I’m not going to calculate the chi-squared variance of this or anything.

Anyways, this is actually something I’ve considered doing many times before. Just about every time I go to a store or a restaurant, a survey invitation pops up at the bottom of a receipt promising either a percentage off a future visit or entry into a drawing for cash or gift card.  And with Facebook, contests with retailers are even more prevalent, where you can enter to win free stuff, gift cards, or even trips. I have to confess that the latter is possibly the most compelling prize to me at the moment, but even if I don’t win a cruise or a trip to the Olympic games (this is a popular give-away right now), I still might come up with something neat!

While my intention is to enter just about everything I come across, there are a few guidelines I will follow in regards to which contests I might choose to decline. If I have to give too much information or if the whole thing is a little sketchy, I absolutely reserve the right to opt out. Also, if the prize is something I am less interested in, then I’ll pass so that someone who might really appreciate it can have a better chance at it. However, if for example I win a free a free kitchen appliance that I already have, I could always sell one and keep the other. 😉 Regardless, I do reserve some right to not participate if I deem in appropriate.

DH and I sometimes complain that we don’t really win a lot of stuff. Some people just seem to have a knack for it; for instance, DH claims his sister is one of those people who always won stuff when they were growing up, whereas he felt like he never won squat. However, I will say that we did win a $50 cash card from the bank once. We entered their little weekly drawing and got a call a few days later that we were selected….of course, we were, like, fifth in line after four people they contacted before us didn’t answer. :p But it was a “win” just the same, right?

When telling DH about my plan, he thought it sounded like a fun challenge. He also pointed out that he’d seen part of a show once about people who do this for a living. I suppose if you knew which sweepstakes to enter and you were diligent to enter as many as possible, as many times as possible, you would inevitably win something. However, I cannot conceive of it being lucrative enough to replace my day job. However, I am looking for work, so…. Ok, maybe not.

Occasionally I get phone calls saying that “I’ve won!” something or the other that I don’t remember entering. Worse, I get spammy texts practically every week claiming the same thing. Those irritate me to no end, so I just completely ignore them. I hope that if I actually win something, I will find their contact method legitimate enough that I don’t hang up on them if it’s the real deal (like a real person instead of a recorded message). Oops…

What about you? Have you ever won a contest or sweepstakes? What did you win? I’d be excited to hear your success stories!

Reboot

Life feels stale, stagnant, circling, waiting, stalled, suspended. Despite the fact that I’ve defended my thesis, earned my PhD, graduated, and even had other personal accomplishments (like running the 10k) in the past month or so, I feel totally and completely stuck in my life right now. I’m looking for a job, but I haven’t found one. I’m still working at my old job, but I’m rehashing all the old stuff that was the bane of my existence previously. I have some free time again, yet I can’t muster the motivation or energy to do much at home. I’m waiting for something to change each passing day, but so far what I’m waiting for hasn’t come.

I don’t even think it’s just about waiting for a job opportunity, either. I think I’m just mentally and emotionally stuck, just exhausted in spirit. I desperately need a vacation, or at least I think I do, but I feel like I’m stuck waiting on I-dunno-what before I can even think about making some sort of real plan. It feels like everyone around me is taking time off and going fun places, both local and exotic, while I, despite working hard for two semesters to get done and feeling like I’ve earned some sort of special trip to celebrate my success, am still sitting on my couch petting the dog day after day. All the while, it at least seems like getting away would energize me and strengthen me as I am waiting for whatever-it-is. It’s a catch-22, evidently.

Some days I feel more optimistic than others, and even on those days I just feel generally dull. Some days are not so good, but if I feel down I try to just let it out and then move on with a slightly improved disposition. I guess I’m feeling a little more down today, just trying to trudge along, keep taking steps forward, hoping for a better day tomorrow despite feeling trapped. I wish I could find some way to reboot myself so I can finally restart afresh with a little more of the joy I expected to have after being done.

It’s really dumb to feel sorry for myself, since there’s not really anything wrong and I’ve had so much blessing recently. It shames me to confess that I find myself wallowing a bit from time to time. I really, honestly believe that God has something worked out for me, something that’s good for me, something fun and enjoyable, something to be passionate about. I just wish I felt more energized about the future and didn’t struggle with doubt sometimes.

Mark 9:24: “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!”

An eventful week

Evidently I took an unexpected hiatus from the blog! The last week has been pretty eventful–in good ways and in bad.

First of all, I actually had an interview on Monday for a potential job. This required flying out on Sunday morning and spending the day traveling there. I had a dinner meeting Sunday evening and a full day of activities Monday before flying back that evening. Everything seemed to go pretty well, so we’ll just have to see how this develops.

As evidenced by the fact that I flew there, this is not a local position. Therefore, if I am made an offer, the whole moving thing will be a significant factor in our decision. At this point, I am aware that moving is a very real, and highly likely, possibility, but deciding where to move and selling our house in this economy aren’t trivial decisions either. But it’s still early, and though time sure flies these days, I do have some time to deal with these issues. Who knows, I might even find something local yet. We’ll just have to see.

I was back at work on Tuesday; however, I got an unexpected day off yesterday. I felt fine Tuesday, a little tired from my travel, but nothing very strange. I even ran four miles that evening and felt pretty good about it, too. However, before bedtime I started feeling a little weird, and by the time I got in bed, I was feeling a bit ill. All of a sudden this fever and slight nausea came over me, and I felt bad all night long. I didn’t sleep well, and at one point I had a fever of 102. By morning, I was sort of feeling a little better, though very tired and still with a tiny fever (much less than 102). I decided to stay home from work; my rule of thumb is to wait 24 hours after a fever goes down before being around too many folks, just in case. After resting yesterday and a much better night’s sleep, I’m back today. I must have picked up something on the plane; that’s all I can figure. But I’m thankful it was very short-lived.

That’s pretty much what’s going on at the moment. Next weekend will be eventful, too, as I will be actually graduating! The final culmination of all my labor, I will have my PhD officially bestowed upon me next Friday. I’m not so excited that the school-wide graduation starts a, like, 8:00 a.m., but since my parents will be here for it, I guess I can get up early enough to deal with the traffic and crowds, just this once. Or I hope it’s just once…who needs another PhD?!?