Monday, August 25, 2008

Heading home

After two months of travel and living out of a suitcase, I'm ready to head back home! Following my stop on the ranch, I headed up to the twin cities to visit Lana. It was great to see a China friend state-side, and to see a little bit of her life here.

I flew from the twin cities out to LA to visit one of my best friends from college and her husband. This yearly trip always proves to be incredibly refreshing for me. This year I got to go to a local corn festival. Yes, I came all the way from the midwest to eat corn. Only slightly more exciting was spending a day at Disneyland with Kasey. We were all business, and thanks to our expert (could you say genius?) planning, fast feet, and wise use of fast passes we managed to hit almost all of the big rides by 10:30 am. Not too shabby for a busy summer day! Our most oft visited ride was Buzz Lightyear, where Kasey put me to shame with her intergalactic shooting skills. She has had more training. One final plus of LA was getting my hair drastically cut...which felt great!

From LA I came back to my parents' for a quick stop, then headed over to Columbus to visit one of my college roommates and her husband. Columbus just so happens to be my home of sixteen years, and the location of my happiest place on earth. You guessed it, right? The Shoe. Field of the Ohio State University Buckeyes. My friends were nice enough to stop by the stadium to let me drink in the view. The season begins in less than a week! The trip to Columbus also featured the best cream puffs in the world at Schmidt's and the best ice cream in the world at Graeter's. An added bonus was the display of Brutuses arrayed in all kinds of costumes and occupations...only in Buckeye town. And if you don't know who Brutus is, look it up. As my friend, you really should know this.

I got to take in the opening ceremonies while in Columbus, and earlier tonight watched the flame extinguished over Beijing. I've probably watched way too many hours of Olympics these past two weeks, but I found myself more drawn to them than usual. As the games closed out tonight and the newscasters praised the Chinese for their hospitality, I couldn't help getting a little teary-eyed. China did such a splendid, beautiful job with these Olympics and I'm just so proud that I get to call this nation home for the time being. I can't wait to get on the plane tomorrow and head back!

Friday, August 8, 2008

On the road

I'm working on setting a record for the number of different beds I can sleep in during one summer and the number of hours I can spend in airports. Lately it feels like I've been here there and everywhere. I'm about ready to get back to China to rest up. Ahhhh, and it was only a few weeks ago that I said the same thing about coming back to the States.

One of the most enjoyable stops this summer has been a quick two day trip up to Westbrook. This tiny town in the southwest of Minnesota is the site of some of my fondest childhood memories. For a "city girl" (or more accurately, a suburban girl), life on my great Aunt and Uncle's cattle ranch provided endless amusements. Consequently, the smell of cow manure, mixed with hay, that wonderful black Minnesotan dirt, and sweat is actually a pleasing aroma to me. I love the old barn where I got bottle feed a newborn calf and name numerous kittens. There's the office with coffee, orange drink, and sweet breads. There's the sweetest cowboy you'll ever meet, with boots, hat, and sparkling blue eyes. This year we stayed on my other Great Uncle's farm, just a couple miles from the ranch. There we were treated to fresh picked rasberries, homemade syrup (from trees they tapped in their backyard), and homemade gooseberry jam. I absolutley love the pace of this small town life, and the intense interest in people that is shared all around. It was immensely refreshing to go back and photograph some of the places of my childhood. As always, you can track the journey on my flickr site. Below are a few of my favorite shots from the trip.

My favorite cowboy, Uncle Maurice

Beef, it's what's for dinner.

Scene from the old general store