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, June 30, 2014

Traveling with Kids: Headphones

We were in the market for some headphones for our 5-yr-old daughter to use for school and travel. Cost was a factor, as was durability and performance. We stayed with the wired variety because, while wireless headphones seem pretty cool, they tend to be heavier (battery weight) and there's a greater potential for them to stop working on long trips. We also focused on the over-the-ear style as they minimize outside noise (like engine noise or fireworks) better than the on-ear ones.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

A Day in Oslo

As luck would have it, I got to visit Oslo for some on-the-job training and enjoy some free-time to walk around the city, too. Since my time was limited,  decided to traverse the city from west to east (for the most part).

Akershus Castle
My trip actually began in Vienna, and I landed n Oslo just before midnight on Wednesday, and the Flybussen dropped me off very near my hotel about 40 minutes later. The bus is very convenient, especially since you can get a return ticket and not have to worry about getting back to the airport (it's a very expensive cab ride, so I hear).
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Saturday, June 07, 2014

Rocking Out in Baltimore

A high-school friend of mine was playing a gig on Saturday night with his band Demon Eye at the Sidebar Tavern in Baltimore. Now, I'm not really into the metal scene, or really anything that can be categorized as "a scene," so I'm venturing outside my comfort zone so that I can support my friend. I believe you need to do something outside of your comfort zone every day, otherwise you're not expanding your comfort zone. So, I drove over to Baltimore in the afternoon, getting into the hotel just early enough to avoid the traffic for the baseball game. I caught the hotel shuttle over to the Inner Harbor for dinner and a stroll before the doors to the show opened up. After several hours of observing folks, I get the sense that Baltimore is kind of like Randy Quaid's Cousin Eddie in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation to Washington, D.C.'s Clark Griswald. But the aquarium looked great, and we'll probably come back later this summer.

I got to the venue right around 9 pm, just as my friend's band was unloading the trailer. So I helped them carry stuff in and didn't have to pay a cover and got comped two glasses of the local brew: National Bohemian. Can't say I'm a big fan, but free made it taste better. The first band, Witch Hazel, went on and did a decent job. Best part of the set for me was when the lead singer pulled out a cow bell for his solo.

More Cowbell!
Then my friend's band, Demon Eye, got up and delivered a solid performance of kick-ass metal. The previous link doesn't do justice to how heavy the live version is...my beer was actually vibrating so much that I had to keep changing hands because they were getting worn out holding it. Maybe I shouldn't have been so close to the speakers, but whatever. At one point, my friend stepped off-stage and kept playing while the audience surrounded him...rock 'n roll! Here's a pic of the band (the bassist is just off to the right of the frame, but this was the best angle I could get). 
Rock on.
Another band followed them to close out the night, but I couldn't really get into their sound so my friend and I sat in the back of the place and caught up on life since the last time we saw each other nearly two decades ago. We've been friends on Facebook, but that's not the same as being there in person. After the third band finished up, I helped pack out the gear to the trailer and headed back to my hotel. So, I guess I can cross "Be a roadie for a metal band" off my bucket list now, right? I think I got in to the hotel some time after 2 am, which is the latest that I can remember ever being out on purpose.

When they said the restroom was "pretty metal",
I was picturing something in brushed nickel.
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End Of Tour Summary: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

We spent two and a half years in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on our second tour in the Foreign Service with the US Department of State. As you migh...

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