T&K’s Spring Break Pacific Northwest Road Trip Adventure 2015: Bucket List

This is my second post about this trip and we haven’t even left yet. Can you tell I absolutely can’t wait? I need a vacation bad. But also, I’m so excited about all of the different cities and national parks that we’re going to visit. Here’s my list of absolute musts for this trip, some of which we already have booked. Huzzah!

1. See a show at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland.

I’ve been dying to get to Ashland for ten years, ever since it was offered as a senior class trip in high school and I couldn’t go because of marching band. Sigh. That was the beginning of rehearsals interfering with my life. Anyway, T and I have talked about going a couple of different times since then, but now we’re actually making it happen! We have tickets to see Shakespeare’s Pericles, which wouldn’t have been my first choice, but it’s what’s playing and I’m too excited to care.

2. Visit the original Starbucks at Pike’s Place in Seattle and buy a tumbler.

In college, while on a choir trip through the Pacific Northwest, I bought a travel mug at the original Starbucks. I absolutely loved it and used it all the time, until somewhere in the process of moving home after graduation, I lost it. So many sads. But now I have the opportunity to replace it, and so I shall.

3. Cheer for no one at a Canucks game in Vancouver.

One night in January, T and I were at a Sharks game, watching them lose depressingly, when one of us said casually, “We should go to a hockey game in Vancouver.” That was enough to distract us from whatever travesty was happening on the ice in front of us, and we promptly hopped on our phones, found a game on one of the nights that we’ll be there, and bought tickets. It’ll be the Canucks vs. the Phoenix Coyotes in the second-to-last game of the regular season, but we’ll be proudly displaying our teal inside Rogers Arena. No one will care since the Sharks won’t be in the playoffs anyway.

4. Go for a walk through the rain forest in Olympic National Park.

DSCN5563

Poor drought-riddled California hasn’t seen that much green in a long, long time. I would love to take the time to enjoy some greenery and some damp weather… and maybe we can convince some of it to come home with us.

5. Take T to Powell’s Books in Portland.

DSCN5654

Powell’s is basically heaven on earth. This was another stop on the aforementioned college choir tour, and I could have lived in there. Obviously our time was limited because of traveling with a giant group, but I’m very much looking forward to getting lost in there for a few hours. T wasn’t with me last time (though I did bring him back a book of German fairy tales  auf Deutsch), so I can’t wait to see his face upon first walking in.

Have you ever been to any of the cities or places that I mentioned, or do you live in any of them? Any recommendations are more than welcome!

Happy Blog-iversary!

As of today, I have been blogging for an entire year! I’ve had a couple of blogs in the past, but none that have lasted this long or had any sort of following whatsoever, so this is quite exciting. I’ve been able to unpack thoughts on this blog, as well as share fun facts about my life and travels.

What does the future hold for Perfect Harmonies? Since this is purely a hobby for me, I don’t plan on trying to make any significant income from it. However, it is a very fun hobby and I’d love to grow my content and readership, so I do plan on making some improvements and implementing some new ideas around here. Look for fun changes over the next few months!

To celebrate Perfect Harmonies’ first birthday, here are some of my favorite and most significant posts from the past year.

The realization that my life struggles happen for a reason.

A solo trip to the Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studios in London.

How I view my role as a wife, and what’s awesome about being married to T.

Top five things I’ve learned from working at a dental office.

One of the most life-changing decisions I’ve ever made.

Why every kid needs cousins, and why we will eventually give our nephew some of his own.

The story behind my right-hand ring.

Traveling to Brazil? Here are some of my observations about the Portuguese language.

How I overcame one of my biggest fears.

25 days of Christmas music.

The greatest trip of my life.

How to be awesome at public transportation.

I hope you enjoy reading Perfect Harmonies as much as I enjoy writing it! What are some of your favorite posts?

2014: Looking Back

What a year it’s been for us. 2014 took off running and never slowed down. I feel like every time we got through one major thing, something else major came up. Here are the highlights (and some lowlights as well).

Travel: T and I went to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in February, to visit friends. It was my first time in South America and T’s first international trip ever, and the language barrier was quite a challenge. I also went to England and France with my grad school chamber choir, where I explored Oxford, nerded out at Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studios, attended an Evensong service at Westminster Abbey, took in tons of champagne and World War-era history in Reims, and admired the Paris Opera House, drank incredibly thick hot chocolate, and stood in awe of the Eiffel Tower for the first time. Finally, I spent a month in Weimar, Germany for a summer opera program.

T and me with Christ the Redeemer in Rio.

T and me with Christ the Redeemer in Rio.

Work: I started two new jobs, one at the dental office and the other as the director of our church choir. T made great strides in his job as well, getting promoted and working towards some certification tests.

Family: Three new babies were born into our family, which has been a huge blessing. My dad got married, and my mom sold her house, bought a new one, and moved just yesterday. Multiple family relationships have been stretched thin and subsequently healed this year, and I hope for further strengthening over the next year.

Baby T and me at Christmas.

Baby T and me at Christmas.

Friends: Two of our best friends got married in July in a wonderful celebration. Three weeks later, one of them was diagnosed with cancer. It was a big shock to everyone, and it definitely caused T and me to think about our own health and lives. After surgery and chemo, our friend is now cancer-free. In the midst of all this, we’ve continued to strengthen the bond we have with our friends and learn to trust in God for His mercy and healing.

Singing: I made the difficult but absolutely right decision to quit my pursuit of singing as a career and instead focus on the things that truly matter to me. It was a long, hard, painful process, but I know it’s where God has been leading me for a long time. I will continue singing as a hobby and a passion, but from now on my career choices will be ones that contribute to our current and future family. On a positive note, I did get to sing one of my favorite roles for the second time, as well as add a couple of new roles to my resumé, and I will be starting rehearsals for a new show next week.

Church: Our church had been going through a process over the past couple years of determining whether or not to leave our denomination, Presbyterian Church (USA), because of some faith-based issues arising in the upper levels of PC(USA). After months of discussion and debate, a straw poll in June, and more months of discussion and debate (and lots of fragmentation and division within the church), our church body voted earlier this month to leave PC(USA) and move our church to a different Presbyterian denomination, ECO. None of it was easy or pleasant, but seeking the will of God and following His direction is ultimately more important than anything else.

Personal: I achieved many of my monthly and yearly goals, including saving money consistently and adding at least one new role to my resumé (see above). I also overcame one of my biggest fears, and I made the extremely important decision to quit the business of singing and focus on creating a future for my family.

And now, my goals for 2015!

  • Look to God’s will for my life and use it above all else to determine my choices.
  • Create a solid savings account that will go towards a down payment on a house.
  • Develop a healthier lifestyle, whether that means cooking at home more often or being more physically active.
  • Figure out what sort of career path I might want and take steps to get there.

Happy New Year, everyone! May God bless you in the coming year.

Weimar, Germany: Excursion to Erfurt

On our one free day during my month in Weimar, a group of us girls took the train about fifteen minutes away to the town of Erfurt. It was a Sunday, so there weren’t many shops open, but we had a great time wandering around the town.

The Erfurt Hauptbahnhof.

The Erfurt Hauptbahnhof.

Me in front of one of the many adorable streets.

Me in front of one of the many adorable streets.

DSC00043

DSC00057

DSC00047

DSC00045

DSC00052

The lovely group of ladies!

The lovely group of ladies!

DSC00055

DSC00048

DSC00049

DSC00050

DSC00051

As we walked further into the city center, we discovered this gorgeous Gothic church, the Katholischer Dom St. Marien. It was actually open, so we wandered in to admire it.

DSC00060

IMG_5602

IMG_5603

IMG_5605

When we came out of the church, we found ourselves looking straight down at a wine festival. Oh darn! It was a wonderful way to end the day.

DSC00063

I would have loved to go back to Erfurt had we had any more free time. Maybe next time!

Travel Bucket List

Me in front of the Eiffel Tower (obviously) earlier this summer. One more country checked off the bucket list!

Me in front of the Eiffel Tower (obviously) earlier this summer. One more country checked off the bucket list!

I write this post from my office job, which, while far from the worst job ever, or even a bad job, is certainly not an exciting way to spend my summer. I’m finding myself daydreaming about T’s and my next big vacation. The world is our oyster, really. So I thought I’d share with you my travel bucket list.

• Obviously I would love to go back to Italy, as I shared in this post.

• The Holy Land. We had an opportunity to sign up for a trip next January through our church, but it’s just too expensive for us right now. Sigh. Maybe another time.

• Australia. Specifically Sydney, because duh, the opera house and climbing the harbor bridge. Bonus points if we can find Nemo. We may even expand to New Zealand by T’s request.

• Russia, mostly for my family’s history.

• The east coast of our own United States. T, who has his degree in American history, has shamefully never been back east, and I feel it’s my duty as his wife to take him there. My top three stops would be Washington DC, New York City, and Boston.

• Hawaii. One can never get enough Hawaii.

That’s my short list. Once we begin to cross those off, I would like to expand to Asia and maybe some of the smaller countries in Europe. One of the perks of being a singer is that I’m getting to know people in all corners of the world, which opens up lots of travel possibilities!

What are some places on your travel bucket list?

The Greatest Trip of My Life

Today I’m participating in my first blog hop, hosted by Casey at We Took the Road Less Traveled! It’s Fresh Face Friday and the topic is “the greatest trip of your life.”

Eight years ago, the summer after my freshman year of college, I had the opportunity to spend three weeks in central Europe on a college choir tour. We sang our way through Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, the small Austrian mountain towns of Durnstein and Schladming, Munich, Oberammergau, Karlovy Vary, and Prague. It was an incredible experience for 18-year-old me… but that was not the greatest trip of my life.

The greatest trip of my life was the one I took right after that.

Two days after I returned home to my family and T, who I had been dating for two years at that point, we left for a week-long houseboat trip with some close family friends. Our lake of choice was Trinity Lake, where my brother and I had grown up camping every summer, and one of my favorite spots in the world to this day.

You can see why I love it so much.

You can see why I love it so much.

After three weeks of intense international travel with 100 other college students, getting in the car and driving to the lake with my family and T was absolute heaven. I will always remember that trip for a few reasons.

1) On our way there, something broke on our boat trailer, and we sat on the side of the road while my dad tried to fix it. Meanwhile, the car thermometer heated up beyond what any of us had ever seen, and though it wasn’t actually quite THAT hot, my brother, T, our friends, and I were thoroughly entertained.

131 degrees. Yep.

131 degrees. Yep.

18-year-old me and my brother's best friend.

18-year-old me and my brother’s best friend.

2) During the last couple days of our trip, the lake, which is up in the northern California mountains, became surrounded by wildfires. It didn’t endanger our trip at all, but the sky turned gray and orange and you could smell the smoke. This didn’t bode super well for T or for one of the other guys on the trip, who both had asthma, but T sucked it up enough for us to go wakeboarding together while the forest burned down around us. (Okay, not really, but we got some cool pictures.)

n6413412_30960441_4084

Creepy, no?

n6413412_30960452_8692

Sorry for the blurriness. This was taken by a 2006-vintage camera phone (lol what) on a very choppy lake.

3) After a stressful and long international trip, I got to spend the entire week sitting around a houseboat reading, napping, and playing card games with T, my brother, and our friends. Everyone was so relaxed and so happy, and it was the perfect way to recover.

T, our friends, and my brother playing a heated game of Family Business.

T, our friends, and my brother playing a heated game of Family Business.

My dad in his element, driving his boat.

My dad in his element, driving his boat.

T and me, all the way back in 2006, happily at the end of our long-distance relationship.

T and me, all the way back in 2006, happily at the end of our long-distance relationship.

What has been the greatest trip of your life to this day?

Weimar, Germany: Things to Do

After a crazy last several days in Germany, I’m finally home in California and spending the rest of this week recovering from the past month. I loved living in the town of Weimar, so I’d like to share with you some ideas of things to do should you ever make it there.

Weimar is about a three-hour train ride from either Frankfurt or Berlin. I chose to fly in and out of Frankfurt because the train goes right to the airport. It was very easy to get there, which was really important to me since I was traveling alone and speak very little German.

The main thing Weimar is known for is being the hometown of Goethe, the 18th- and 19th-century poet and writer. It was also home to Friedrich Schiller, a slightly lesser-known but still famous poet/philosopher. Goethe and Schiller memorabilia is everywhere… you can tour both of their houses as well as find numerous places throughout the city that are named after one or the other of them. For example, there’s a department store called “Schiller Kaufhaus,” and the plaza that housed our theatre is called “Goetheplatz.”

The statue of Goethe and Schiller outside the Deutsche National Theatre.

The statue of Goethe and Schiller outside the Deutsche National Theatre. Photo credit: Peter Hamon.

Speaking of the Deutsche National Theatre, this is one of the major attractions in the city. The theatre houses both opera and straight theatre, and though my program ended right before the start of the DNT’s season, their full calendar seems to indicate that the theatre is thriving and that it is a huge part of Weimar’s cultural scene.

The DNT in the daylight. It was on our route to our (smaller) theatre every day.

The DNT in the daylight. It was on our route to our (smaller) theatre every day.

The theatre lit up at night as part of a multimedia presentation that was projected across the Platz onto the facade.

The theatre lit up at night as part of a multimedia presentation that was projected across the Platz onto the facade.

Another major attraction in Weimar is the castle, which I didn’t actually try to tour because I didn’t have enough free time. However, it’s really pretty on the outside, and I’m sure the inside is fascinating as well.

DSC00013

IMG_5619

Right next to the castle is Goethe-park, deep within which is Goethe’s Gartenhaus. The park is absolutely beautiful and has lots of paths for jogging, walking, or just general exploring, the latter two of which I actually participated in.

The river running through the park is really lovely too.

The river running through the park is really lovely too.

Lots of open space!

Lots of open space!

Exploring with friends.

Exploring with friends.

Goethe's Gartenhaus.

Goethe’s Gartenhaus.

There are lots of good places to eat… I’ll do another post on food sometime. Weimar is also full of shops, though not a lot of them are clothing stores for our generation, as my friends and I discovered. There’s at least something for everyone though, and of course, there is Müller, a giant department store that puts Target to shame.

Four stories of German department store goodness? Yes please!

Four stories of German department store goodness? Yes please!

I wish I had more to share, but we didn’t have very much free time during the program to explore the city or be tourists. I would love to return one day and make sure to complete my experience!