Tag Archives: ideas

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?

no need to russian-to-it.

i think i may have mentioned it a time or two (or eight or ten if you are around me often), but i am going to russia in february for work. this “will she, won’t she” game has finally come to an end, and i will be traveling out the last week of february/first week of march.

at first i asked my boss if she was punishing me (because i imagine winters in russia are even worse than winters in iowa), but the more and more i think about it, the more and more excited i become. i will be spending a week in st. petersburg- 4-5 days of video interviews, working on product positioning with product managers and technical service people, etc and then an additional 2 days checking out the city.

plus, it gives me an excuse to wear my awesome hat:

(my mom thinks these hats are super dorky so my sister-in-law and brother got her a similar one for christmas last year. i make her wear it around the house with me sometimes.)

and to make matters even more exciting, an old college friend of mine is thinking about meeting me there for the last portion of the trip. i love seeing people i haven’t seen in a long time, and this man is no exception.

ladies, meet ari. he’s single and ready to mingle: (and finnish. and adorable.)

i met ari my senior year at wartburg college (you-rah-rah-rah!). he was a freshman at the time and under normal circumstances i wouldn’t have even noticed him. for one, he’s blonde (and we all know how i feel about that). and for two, he was a freshman. when would i ever have a class with a freshman?

lucky for both of us, one of my roommates was on orientation staff and she brought him around a time or two. we quickly became friends- i mean, sure, he was blonde and young… but he was FINNISH. He was stylish. He was worldly.

…and his hair was beautiful. 🙂

one of my favorite things about ari is that he always laughs at my last name. my last name is lundberg. it’s swedish (just like me… haha… sort of.)  in most european languages, “berg” means “mountain.” i’m not too upset about that, it’s an easy translation, and i probably could’ve figured it out for myself. another [sad eyed] friend has told me that “lund” in swedish means “grove,” so apparently my roots trace back to the people living off the land between the grove and the mountain.

but in hindi, “lund” is a slang term for male anatomy– most specifically it translates to “dick.” so ari calls me Dickmountain, or DM for short. …he’s a real classy kind of guy. 🙂

after i graduated wartburg at semester i ended up seeing ari a few times [when i visited school for homecoming and also at my fake-prom party], but he soon returned to his homeland and we haven’t really seen each other since. i am STOKED that he is making some time to come and visit- especially in the cold of winter!

neither ari nor myself have every been to russia, however. seeing as i want to soak in as much as possible, i would appreciate any tips or ideas of places to see while i’m in st. petersburg. a small group of work colleagues (the fun ones) are also staying for some extra time, so hopefully someone will have an idea of what to do. don’t get me wrong, i love to travel and explore new things, but one fault of mine is that i’m too laid-back when it comes to itineraries. if i have a rough draft i will follow it, if i don’t, i will play it by ear…

…and my ear usually leads me to a bar. so help a sister out and give me some good ideas! 🙂

things i discovered while in ireland.

now, i’m not claiming to be a travel connoisseur or even have a good handle on what to do or what not to do while you’re on vacation/holiday. but here are a few tips/observations that i took down while in ireland that may not be in every travel guide.

Alcohol (because this is a subject that is near and dear to my heart)

  • Smithwicks (pronounced “Smit-icks”) is a beer and it is only 3.8% alcohol, but cost 4.5 euro. This is a rip off, do not be tricked.
  • It is more expensive to buy in “bulk” (like a six pack) than it is in the United States. You are almost better off buying the bottles individually.
  • A Guinness & Black is a Guinness with black current added, it tastes a bit like licorice. Females will usually order this to make the drink sweeter, although I’ve been told “if you don’t like the taste of Guinness, this isn’t going to help.”

The Lay of the Land

  • Your State-side insurance does not cover you in Ireland. This may seem like a rip off, until you start driving. Then you realize why.
  • The roads are bat shit crazy. Just get used to it.

[photo borrowed from ms. jamie to prove my point]

  • …To expand: the roads are narrower, the shoulder is almost non-existent, and there will usually be shrubbery right next to the road so if you veer a bit too far you will get a passenger side-full of leaves. Tour busses are usually oversized and will naturally cross into your lane of the road. Everything is backwards. Driver’s side is on the right, shifting components on the left, you drive on the left-hand side of the road, and you take roundabouts (“rotaries” in Ireland) in the opposite direction as you would in the US.
  • Roundabouts have two lanes, but just always stay in the outside lane. It’s safer for you.
  • Invest in a GPS unit. It saved our lives.

Hotels/Public Places Toilets

  • Toilets are not made of porcelain, they are plastic. It’s the same in Italy. I’d say they just don’t know about how superior porcelain is for your bathroom needs, but they have bidets (bedays?) and those are made of porcelain, so they obviously know this material exists.
  • While you’re in the bathroom, look around. The hot & cold knobs are always separate. I’m not sure why. You either have to choose hot water, cold water, or just splash around to get a happy medium.
  • The normal European adapters do not work in Ireland; the outlets are the same as the ones used in England. I feel I knew this ahead of time but just disregarded the information.
  • Some hotels will have adapters and will let you borrow them, but don’t bank on it. If you forgot one or brought the wrong kind, they are usually fairly cheap to go out and buy. Most grocery stores, pharmacies, etc will carry adapters.
  • “Ground floor” – The ground floor is always 0, not 1. If you have a room on the first floor, go up a flight.  I guess it makes sense.
  • Can’t get your lights to work? Some hotels require a key card to be left in a slot by the door for your light switches and power to become active. Seem strange and pointless? It is. (Also note if you are charging something while you’re out you will need to leave a card in the slot for your outlets to stay active as well.)
  • In Europe it seemed we could pick up free Wi-Fi at every hotel/B&B. I don’t know if this was just luck, but it was very handy.
  • FREE breakfast is FREE. Enjoy it.

Other Observations

  • Bacon – It’s just ham. Fried ham. This alone would be a reason why I couldn’t survive the rest of my life in Ireland.
  • It’s so much colder in Ireland than you think it will be. In June I think the highest temperature it reached was 65 degrees F. I wore a sweatshirt or a jacket the entire time we were there.
  • Cliffs of Moher – The Cliffs of Moher are worth the drive and the six euro entry fee. (And I’m cheap!) It’s one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. While you are there, go through the areas you’re not supposed to– nobody stops you, everybody does it, and the views are incredible. Just don’t blow off the cliffs… I’ve heard that happens.
  • People are very nice and friendly in Ireland– probably because we speak the same language, but it made the trip even more enjoyable.
  • Everyone in a bar will know the words to American Pie. I find that funny.