Our Adventures in Sri Lanka

Safaris to spot leopards and elephants, swimming in the Indian Ocean, sipping tea in the mountains, and several more!

Our Nile Cruise

Starting in Cairo, we sailed to Luxor, Edfu, Kom Ombo, and Aswan.

Trouble at Sea: Our Red Sea Dive Trip in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia

The Red Sea is one of the top diving destinations in the world, but Saudi Arabia is a very restrictive country to get into. That alone would have made the trip memorable...but then things went south and the Saudi Coast Guard and a hospital got involved.

Our Expedition to Jordan

Highlights included tracing the steps of Indiana Jones into Petra, following Lawrence of Arabia into Wadi Rum, and floating in the Dead Sea.

Discovering Turkey

We emersed ourselves in Istanbul, explored the white travertines of Pamukkale, and traced history through Laodikeia, Hierolopolis, and Cleopatra's Baths.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Work-Life Balance with International Travel

One of the more challenging aspects of most jobs is striking the right work-life balance. The Foreign Service is good at throwing a few curves in there for good measure. For instance, at the end of the workday last Wednesday, I had planned on meeting up with my dad on Friday evening and do various things around D.C. with the family throughout the weekend. Which we did, so that piece of the puzzle is still in place.

The tricky part was that just Thursday morning, I was told that I needed to be in Vienna at the beginning of next week, for most of the week. So I spent the rest of the next two days working through my travel arrangements, authorizations, clearances, and preparations to get everything approved before the authorities left for the weekend. The timing of the trip also forced me to reschedule a class at the Foreign Service Institute I'd been looking forward to about the various facets of protocol. The bright side is that May 1 is a national holiday in Austria, and falls right in the middle of my work week. I'm not sure how productive that day will ultimately be, but I'm sure I will work more than I should.

This trip, like most of the others, also means that Kacey has to switch into single-mom mode. Part of this requires her to miss out on one of her evening soccer games that I would normally have been baby-sitting the kids during. If you didn't know, it's kind of difficult to find a sitter to stay until after 11pm (the end of the second set of evening games) on a school night.

So, why do I have to go now? I've got a project that is inside of a leased property where the landlord is having his contractor doing some structural work before we move in to do our own work. Having two contractors on the same site at the same time is never a good idea, as both will blame the other for causing delays...which costs money. So while construction management usually doesn't get involved in lease negotiations, I'm involved now to coordinate the landlord's schedule with my project's schedule. It's basically going to turn into an un-fun game of "I go, you go, I go, you totally should have been finished by now, I can't work until you get your stuff done..."

Oh, and if you're interested, the State Department does occasionally sell its old properties in case you were in the market for an embassy.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Eighth Guardian

Ok, so this post is a shameless plug for my high school friend Meredith McCardle's first published book, The Eighth Guardian. It involves travel through time, so that kinda fits with a travel blog, right?
Anyways, I've had at least two other friends publish books, but this was the first time that I made it into the acknowledgements section. That means I'm published, doesn't it? I also received an advanced copy, signed by the author:
What does that inscription mean? Buy The Eighth Guardian (Annum Guard) to find out! Building 20, in case you don't know much about M.I.T., was a pretty awesome place.

In case you were wondering about the other two books by my friends (Lesley Kinzel and Michelle Au):

Ok, that last one isn't a book. It's the debut album of Demon Eye, the band that another high-school friend of mine plays guitar in. Be warned, it's full on metal, so get ready to Leave the Light.

Looking over this post, I feel both inspired by my friends' creative accomplishments and somehow a little more content with my own technical work, providing safe, secure and functional facilities that represent the U.S. government to the host nation and support our staff in the achievement of U.S. foreign policy objectives. Because we all have our strengths, don't we?

Cherry Blossoms in DC

It's that time of year again, when hordes of locals and tourists descend upon the tidal basin and Jefferson Memorial to look at white and pink blossoms on the cherry trees. As opposed to spring break, or summer, or protests, or...

Fun fact: when it's windy, all bets are off as to whether you will see more blossoms on the trees, in the air, on the ground, or in the tidal basin. Also, if you're lucky enough to be able to go during the week, take advantage of it. The weekends are super-crowded.

The rest of the family went into DC from home during the middle of the day, but I met up with them after work by taking the metro to the Smithsonian station. Trust me, the traffic/parking situation around that area is reason enough to use the metro. Here are some of the better pics I took of our girls enjoying the day.

There are lots of uncrowded areas too.
Next to the paddle-boat rental dock
This area is kinda dusty, that's why they are in khaki.
No, the monument is not leaning.
For more information about the peak bloom time, parade schedules, etc, go to: www.NationalCherryBlossomFestival.org

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Saudi Arabia: So Far, So Good?

We're over two years in to our second tour in the Foreign Service with the US Department of State in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It's hard...

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