Category Archives: United States


as some of you may know, i am moving to belgium next year for work. for those of you that don’t know, don’t feel bad. i mean, how could you have know? i haven’t updated this thing for nearly a year. but yes! it’s happening. living and loving abroad for at least two years starting january 2014.

the move is a little bittersweet for me. don’t get me wrong, i’m beyond excited for a new adventure. and as far as countries go, you really don’t get much better than belgium. for instance, most of the belgians i know can understand and flip sarcasm just as well as an american. and they do it in a secondary language (i’m sure they can do it in dutch too, but i wouldn’t understand). but that’s a huge thing. they speak english. they are known for chocolates, waffles, beers, bicycles… you know. the finer things in life.

and i’m attempting to learn dutch. i already drink a(n un)healthy amount of beer. i’m not too terribly worried about making friends. having said that and expressed my excitement, i must admit there is a bit of sadness as well.

you see, there is a part of me that will always love and have a loyalty to iowa. sure, our four seasons are brutal. we get mocked for having so much corn growing across this fine and flat state. outsiders don’t know the difference between iowa or idaho or ohio… but the people in iowa are wonderful. we have that “midwestern work ethic” which means we don’t stop until we get the job done and we get it done right. but we not only WORK hard, we play hard too. we are loyal. we’re nice. we’re a little backwards, not on the peak of fashion or the finest, but we are good people. and i will miss that.

so to bring a little bit of home with me overseas, i’m commissioning art off of some of the greatest artists/designers/inspirations i know… my friends. that way i have a constant reminder of people back home and i also get to display some damn good art while i’m at it.

the first piece of art i collected is a piece by my good friend Jon- the title of the piece is called ‘birth.’

i absolutely love it. i originally requested a painting from him about two years ago and jon gladly accepted the challenge. i told him i didn’t care what he painted, i just wanted something unique. i also told him there was no hurry or deadline on the piece, which i think he took to heart. the painting traveled with him for 2 years between three different apartments, and a multitude of people had the opportunity to see it in its different phases. it started out much like a skeleton head, then slowly turned into outlines of fish. then we watched in amazement as the fish became more detailed, and beautifully so. also, the piece is huge, like 27×39″, so i plan to have it be the center piece of my “iowa-inspired” wall in belgium.

birth by jon pearson

birth by jon pearson

fishy fishy2

i’ve known jon for about as long as i have been in des moines. one of my favorite things about this silly guy is that he just does not understand sarcasm. with me being one of the most sarcastic and flippant people i know, i’m not sure how our friendship budded the way it did, but i am so glad for it. he’s one of the most genuine people i know- he is always thinking, questioning, and pushing himself to be better. and throughout the years i think his art has really reflected this.


if you want to check out any of Jon’s other work, you can go to any of the following. he also does commission work (although if it’s anything like mine, it may take awhile). 😉

thanks again, jon! it will be the highlight of my des moines wall.

callin’ baton rouge… i mean… nashville.

did i ever tell you about that time i went to nashville?

yeehaw. 🙂

back in the winter of 2010 a friend of mine mailed me two tickets to a garth brooks concert  because he was unable to attend.

now, that may not mean anything to you (because you’re crazy), but here’s the thing. garth brooks is a country legend. he doesn’t go on tour anymore, and when he did his tickets sold for hundreds upon hundreds of dollars for hundreds and hundreds of sold out shows. nowdays he sometimes performs out in las vegas, but it is always an acoustic show, not the flaired and full-banded awesomeness.

so… i had to go. and krista, my most spontaneous, country-loving, ass-kickin’ friend had to come with. the show was in nashville, tennessee. we were located in des moines, iowa. google maps told us it’d be 11.5 hours… fine. it’ll probably be closer to 10. we could make it there in a day.

we left des moines on saturday morning around 5am. the plan was we would alternate driving and sleeping (if needed), and then get ready to get our shitkickers and cowboy hats out for when we arrived in nashville.

(the happiest i’ll ever look at 5am)
(for the record- in honor of the trip to nashville,  i ran these photos through the instagram “nashville” filter. you’re welcome.) 

we finally got to nashville in the late afternoon. we got checked into our hotel, played around with our sleep number mattresses (i don’t think they worked, what a load), and then listened to some garth brooks while we got ready to check out the scene.

cheap barbecue dinners and live music pouring out of every bar… nashville is booming at night. krista and i weaved in and out bars full of country singers trying to make it until we finally landed at the honeyhole of downtown nashville. a karaoke bar.

karaoke? one of my favorite things ever. karaoke + cowboys + $2 tallboys of busch light? heaven.

the night was great. we posed with a bunch of elvis statues (a lot of them around the city), got hit on by a gay cowboy who claims he is straight (denial), and got a cd from “rising star” that we never listened to. we never got up and sang, but we sat back, drank our beers, and soaked in the atmosphere.

(this man is not famous. but he gave us his cd and asked to take a photo with us.  i wish i was lying.)

the next day we went out to do some more sight seeing and went to the country music hall of fame. we dressed the part (cowboy boots, western tops, cowboy hats) and strolled around the different floors. it was an incredible place, i don’t think you even need to like country music to appreciate all that was there. tributes to the late and great, interactive kiosks, artifacts, and photos everywhere you turned. and a bear.


that night, before the concert, we went to the wildhorse saloon, which was supposed to be pretty famous and well-known. there was a musician playing (go figure) and we sat and drank and ate at the bar because there wasn’t any open seating.

i really liked the restaurant, it was cheesy in all the right ways. fake horses doing human things, stereotypical country interior… big ass margaritas. yeah, i think those were my favorite thing. krista and i ate, we drank (a lot… but we walked, so it’s okay), we played some shuffleboard. and i won. and i only say that because when you play shuffleboard against krista, you rarely ever win.

and then we went to see garth brooks.

and he didn’t disappoint. fog machines, flashing lights… he came up from under the stage, cowboy hat tipped over his eyes, singing “rodeo.”  he sang all of his hits, he took crowd requests, he told stories. trisha yearwood (his wife) also performed and sang the song that was my favorite country song growing up “she’s in love with the boy.” there was this annoyingly hilarious couple in front of us that made out and danced the whole time. it was wonderful (to laugh at) and repulsive at the same time.

(ugh, that couple. for real.)

i’ve been to a lot of concerts in my day. and this one was easily in the top 10, probably top 5.

if you haven’t heard garth brooks, i highly suggest you check him out. country music isn’t for everyone, but even many non-country loving friends agree that he’s pretty good musically. these are my top 10 favorite songs by him– although if you ask someone else they might have a different list entirely.

1) standing outside the fire
2) she’s every woman
3) every now and then
4) callin’ baton rouge
5) the dance
6) i’ve got friends in low places
7)  much too young (to feel this damn old)
8)  rodeo
9) to make you feel my love
10) wrapped up in you

what’s so south about south dakota?

i recently took a quiz online to see how many of the “100 places in the world you have to see” i had visited. i knew it would be rather low, but it was still rather shocking to get the results.

23. 23/100. it’s disappointing, really. so low for someone who claims she likes to travel, to go on adventures. for someone who has no children/responsibility to really tie her to a place… someone with a fancy car with low mileage, and friends with the same urge to get moving.

since obviously it costs money to travel (and also costs vacation days at work), i have decided that it would be best to knock off some more of the united states sites before trying to go abroad.


here we come south dakota!

#59 on the list: Mount Rushmore in Keystone, South Dakota, USA.

my parents used to go to south dakota all the time because they used to ride motorcycles. if you are a motorcycle enthusiast, you obviously know why and there’s really no need for an explanation. for the rest of us, let me explain: every year in south dakota there is the sturgis rally in the black hills. motorcyclists drive in from all over the usa to be a part of the shenanigans; everywhere you look you see leather jackets, chaps, and harley davidson’s.

to give a bit of perspective, the city of sturgis has around 6,500 people living there, but during the time of the rally the traffic gets up to at least 400,000. (and i will guess at least 100,000 of them have hulk hogan mustaches.)

i usually stayed with my grandparents when my mom and dad left, until i got old enough to persuade them to leave me home alone. now i will embark on my own journey to the more southern dakota.

according to google maps, it’s about 9.5 hours to get to keystone from mason city. so, realistically, that means it will be closer to 8-8.5 hours.

now, let’s put this plan into actual practice. is anyone interested in going/meeting up? (i’m looking at you, krista.) i’m game for stopping at other places along the way and making it a 4-5 day weekend (leave thurs night, come back monday morning). the name of the game is “cheap,” but the more people that go i’m sure the better deals i can find.

and if anyone from the area that has any suggestions of things to check out along our way to mount rushmore, please don’t hesitate to let me know. any small dives (i love me some dive bars), some quirky small towns? any places to avoid? good hotels? nice couches?

“inertia is a property of matter”

did i ever tell you about the time i met bill nye?

no, your eyes did not deceive you. bill nye the science guy. not to be confused with bill nighy (which would be even more awesome, but i digress), THEE bill nye, you know, the guy who made science cool for you as a kid. the bill nye who wore a bow tie with his lab coat, showing that he’s not only a scientist, he’s a gentleman. bill, bill, bill, bill!

back in the summer of 2008 my friends jimmy and ben and myself made a journey to california. never having been there before, i wanted to see as much of the state as possible. and forgetting that california is roughly the size of, well… the midwest, i made the itinerary, thinking it would be a simple, relaxing trip. we would fly into san francisco, take a (6.5 hour) night bus to los angeles, and then take another bus up to napa valley, then fly back out of san francisco. the obvious choices, right?

the moral is: people shouldn’t let me make the itinerary.

but besides the silly travel schedule that i created, we had a great time. we explored san fran (our hotel was conveniently located right outside of chinatown), stayed with a college friend who happened to live right outside of LA, and got plowed as we toured the beautiful countryside and chugged sipped wine from different beautiful wineries.

while we were in LA we were doing the normal touristy stuff: going to disneyland, seeing the hollywood sign, putting our hands in the handprints at the chinese theater… getting interviewed by bill nye for his upcoming television show…


so, yes, we all remember bill nye from his days as the science guy on pbs. what some of you may not know is that he continued his career to make other educational television shows, such as the eyes of nye and the television show that i was on, stuff happens. stuff happens was a six part series on the green channel that talked about…um… stuff. environmental stuff. how stuff in your every day life is affecting the world. i don’t know, i can’t give too much detail on this because i never actually saw the show.


i was on it.

bill nye was doing one of those “man on the street” moments where he interviewed random people and asked them questions about the environment. i don’t even remember what question i had or how i answered (i’m assuming i got it wrong if i made it onto the show), but one of my friend’s moms recently told me that she saw me on the re-run of the show.

and now it must be mine.

since i can’t find the youtube videos anywhere online, i am thinking of purchasing Stuff Happens on i mean, it’s probably well worth the $13.99, no? or if anyone has it and can get me a video clip of the befuddled asian girl stumbling through an answer, please let me know! i will repay you with kindness and smiles. or maybe a photo print or something? i don’t know, i’m not much of a bargainer.

i will keep you posted on my findings. but for now… T-minus seven seconds! Science is cool!

ben, jimmy, other ben, bill nye, and myself. california 2008.

its a no brainerd.

since I have just started this blog about my travels, it’s a bit unfair to talk about previous trips. but everyone has got to start somewhere (and i didn’t want this blog to be blank until 2012) so i’ve decided to do a bit of retroactive writing.

Brainerd, Minnesota. Couple’s Vacation #1.

a couple’s vacation had been in plan for quite awhile- evan and myself, krista and her husband jordan, and ted and his girlfriend heather had all been itching to get away from work for a bit, to go somewhere fun and relaxing. the original plan was to go somewhere on the west coast, maybe oregon, and get a beach house. as the time got closer (and the funding got smaller), we opted to save a bit of money and travel up to see our friendly neighbor-to-the-north state, minnesota.

i have been to minnesota many a time. in fact, i used to live in burnsville for a bit, but admittedly never really got out much to explore the town. and everyone knows that the twin cities are a guaranteed good time with many things to do… but this trip had a specific purpose: boats, board games (i’m rather unstoppable at board games), and brainerd.

we ended up staying out at a cute little resort about 50 minutes away from brainerd itself. the resort was called auger’s pine view, located on lake shamineau. the town was called motley and it had a pretty sparse population, but it had the quaint feel of small town living, which i love. because we went over labor day weekend to the week after, most people had already left their cabins and boats behind in search of more… fall-y, winter-y… things to do. but the weather was still perfect and the prices were cheaper so we not going to complain.

the trip was a blast. besides the obvious little hiccups that happen when you travel with groups of people who all have different interests and agendas, there was really nothing to complain about. we went biking. we went mini golfing (and regular golfing!). we they went water-skiing, i tried... it was a weeks worth of fun, relaxation, and hell… it was a time away from work. the only problem was it made me want more.