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having an awesome time!!!
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I'm sorry - I've even had enough time to write lately, and haven't been...I'm not sure why even! Out of habit I suppose!

So I think last time I wrote I was in Canada (ay :p), which was amazing (be warned, I'm going to be using that word a lot!). SerenityBlue is a kind soul - it was so nice staying with her! One day we went down to Toronto's Chinatown, and had a look around - had lunch. The chicken chow mein was a bit icky, but the sweet and sour pork was nice (I can't believe I got that in TORONTO!) Another day I got to meet up with Jessibud, which was awesome! She brought me TWO Michael Morpurgo books from my wishlist :D <3 Possibly the coolest thing we did was drive down to the Niagara Falls. Now that is AMAZING! Serenity and her friend that drove us had both been on all the tourist attractions, but I got to go on the Maid of the Mist boat that takes you right up to the falls. Wow. I can't imagine what they would be like if all the water going down the river went over the falls (only about 40% I think is going over it right now - the rest gets diverted for power I believe).

After Toronto, I headed to Columbus, Ohio, to visit with Buffra. Getting through the US border control was a lot easier than getting through the Canadian equivalent, somehow! The guy even remarked on how organised I was LOL! I was especially impressed at the bus driver who made sure everyone was back on the bus before leaving! The rest of the bus trip was fairly uneventful, apart from one cop who got on the bus in Cleveland I think, and asking everyone if they were from America. Obviously I said no, and so he asked to see my passport...I showed it to him, and then started to freak out, because he kept looking at my work visa (which of course had expired some time earlier) - he thought I was there illegally (which is ridiculous, even if I didn't have the other visa, I was still in my 30 days grace period to get out of the country!) Luckily another cop got on and pointed out the NEW visa I'd received that day.

Columbus was fun - Buffra had to work most days, but it was nice to get a chance to relax, and hang out on the computer! She took one day off and we went to a nice outside mall and window shopped. My favourite thing was the sparkly coloured sugar in a cooking shop. Seriously cool! We also went and got buckeye sundaes at Graeters - yummy but oh so rich! Friday evening we drove up to her Uncle and Aunt's cabin on a lake and stayed the night there. There was an amazing sunset over the lake as we drove in. We had a fire in the fire pit and then got in the hot tub :D

The next morning we left early so she could drop me at my friend's place in Kent, and then get back to work on time. It was great to see Theresa again (friend from camp) - she'd just got back from a trip to Canada with some other camp friends, so we got to gossip about that. We went to a pet store and cuddled with the kittens (not sure why, she has the most gorgeous cat called Bagheera who is SO cute!). We also hung out with another camp friend, Keira. Oh, and they showed me where the students protesting the invasion of Cambodia in the Vietnam War were killed.

One day we drove in to Cleveland to explore, which was cool. We had lunch at a really nice vegetarian place, and then went to this awesome toy store, which had a range of kids and adults (not those kind of adult toys!) toys. They had one of those photo booths, so all three of us crammed ourselves into one a couple of times to take photos. LOTS of fun! I also bought some mad libs...which I've yet to find in New Zealand :( Then we drove to Little Italy and bought pastries...which were amazingly yummy! Drove back to Kent, and then decided to go have dinner at Spaghetti Warehouse in Akron. Which was delicious :D

The next day I got on a bus to Chicago, which was completely uneventful - apart from it being the FIRST Greyhound bus I'd been on that arrived on time! Tzurriz and JFroebe had been kind enough to say I could stay at their place, and even though it was Labour Day, and they were hosting a party, Jason came to pick me up (for which I'm still grateful!). After a short wait we eventually found each other, and we drove back to their house. There I was greeted by lots of Rebecca's family, including Miriam who was still awake after having been fed orange soda by Jason! They fed me delicious food and by the time I was done, most of the family had left. Once the rest had left, we all headed to bed.

The next day we went to Target (I got much needed socks - at that point I was down to about 3 socks which I have no idea how that happened!) and then we went and got Italian beef sandwiches for lunch. OMG SO good! I made such a huge mess though! I'd definitely be up for that again! Once we got home Miriam and Asher fell asleep, and Rebecca taught me how to knit :D I got started on my very first scarf (which I've now finished!) That night we went to Rebecca's parents for dinner, which was delicious!

Wednesday we decided to head into Chicago city, so we got ourselves organised and caught the train in to the city, Miriam sometimes in the buggy and sometimes out of it, and Asher tied to Rebecca in a really nifty backpack! The train took about an hour, and when we got off we headed up North Michigan Avenue. There's some pretty cool stuff up there! The first cool thing we saw was the Chicago Water tower, which looks kind of like a castle. This was one of the only buildings that didn't burn during the Great Fire of Chicago in 1871.

Eventually we made it up to Water Tower Place, an 8 level mall, and drooled our way through American Girl...so many dolls, books, and accessories! We browsed the mall a little, then headed next door to the John Hancock Centre where we were going to have lunch at the Signature Lounge. Rebecca had called ahead - the night before her father had given her the card of someone who worked there who he knew, so we got a reservation. Went up the lift to the 95th floor (no way we were taking the stairs!) and got a table, right next to the window even :D Not that they were hugely busy, but still cool! Even though it looked like a fine day outside, there was still a fair bit of cloud below us, so we didn't have as spectacular view as we could have....still fairly amazing though! After lunch (I had a glorified mac and cheese with bacon bits which was yummy) we were offered complimentary desserts :D We decided to get one creme brulee and one cobbler, and share, and they were both delicious :D

After lunch we made our way back down North Michigan Avenue, stopping for me to take photographs (I loved the Chicago Tribune building with it's pieces of stone from lots of different places), and to pick up some maps from the AAA (I'm now pretty sorted with maps of the US!) and then caught the train home. When we got home, and once Jason had got home we went out again to get a legendary rainbow cone, with 5 different flavours stacked on top of each other (the flavours are stacked in such a way to complement the surrounding flavours. Totally delicious again! (Suddenly I'm understanding why I've gained weight this trip!)

Once we'd done with our ice cream, we drove to Panera for Rebecca's 'Stitch and Bitch' group...we ate dinner there and then Jason and the kids left. I had fun! Lots of really nice people there, and I got to work on my scarf a bit more :D Rebecca's mother drove us home.

Thursday I was woken up by Miriam wearing an interesting outfit! She has the coolest sunglasses, kind of like goggles :D We took some photos, she really liked my sunglasses too!! We decided to go to the childrens museum at Navy Pier, so we got ready and drove in to town. Unfortunately when we got there we learned that they are closed the week after Labour Day :( So we had lunch at an 'interesting' Mexican place, and then wandered around Navy Pier for a bit. It was a beautiful day and I got a little sunburned (not nearly as bad as at home though!) Once we'd had enough (read: once Miriam had had enough!) we drove home. Jason had told me earlier in the week how amazing Rebecca's gumbo was, and she had said she'd make it for me :D So I 'helped' make it by entertaining the kids (not exactly hard!) Her Mum and Dad were coming over too (Rebecca seriously has the coolest family!) Once the gumbo was ready, we sat down to eat...OMG SO GOOD! The key lime pie her parents brought was good too!

Once everyone had left, and gone to bed, I got to go upstairs and pack my stuff to head off to Sheboygan, Wisconsin the next day...which will happen another day! (the person I'm staying with just got her full drivers license so we're going out for lunch to celebrate :D WOO GO THERESA!)
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I'm getting better at selective uploading you'll be happy to hear! Only 9 pages this time ;)
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Monday, I slept till about 10.30, and then just hung around CreativeMGE's house, using her internet to catch up on stuff, and then after she finished work, we ate dinner (late), and then decided to go look at the memorials by night. Wow, so amazing. The first one we went to was the FDR memorial, which was my favourite. This memorial takes you through the five stages of his presidency, with each stage as a 'room'. It was amazingly peaceful (as you would imagine at 1am, but still beautiful), and it was nice listening to the night sounds as we wandered through the memorial. Possibly my favourite part of the memorial were the quotes lining the walls - he sounds like the kind of person I'd like to have lunch with!

After walking through the FDR memorial, we stopped and took photos of the Jefferson Memorial, and the Washington Monument, and then walked around the tidal basin, under the cherry trees (unfortunately not in flower right now), toward the Jefferson Memorial. Another beautiful memorial, it looked like it was glowing from where we were taking photos. Inside is a gigantic statue of Thomas Jefferson, and around the edges are quotes (the Americans like quotes!).

We walked back to the car, and drove round to the Washington Monument, where we walked up to it, and I got to feel the stone with my bare hands :D There was a breeze getting up now, which definitely helped with the hot night! And it made the flags all around the monument wave briskly :D

Then we drove to see the World War Two Memorial, which was interesting - there was someone who we think was fishing for change in the pool. After that we made our way round to the Korean war memorial, which for me was the most striking, especially in the dark. We walked up to it, and these eerie statues suddenly start coming in to view, and behind, faces etched in black stone.

When we'd finished looking at all the faces, we walked across to the Vietnam war memorial. Unfortunately my camera battery died while looking at the Korean memorial, so no pics of this one :( Once we'd done, we walked back to the car, and I fell asleep driving home.

Tuesday, I didn't wake up till about midday (oops), and, after lengthy discussions on how we wanted to plan out the rest of the week, we decided to go to the National Arboretum that afternoon. It closed at 5.30, so we raced off, and had just enough time to see three of the gardens. The first thing we visited were the columns originally built for the capitol, but weren't strong enough to hold it up...they looked really funny standing basically alone on the top of a small rise! I really liked the small fountain that went down the steps though...

We then headed to the youth garden, which is a project for children to come and plant vegetables/flowers in the garden - this was my favourite! Tons of flowers, my favourites were the sunflowers, and vegetables in the garden. There were some beautiful butterflies too - and I saw a hummingbird! I didn't realise how small they are - it was beautiful, and I would have thought it was a large insect if CreativeMGE didn't point it out to me.

We just had time to go and look at the Asian Garden, which was gorgeous as well - really quiet and peaceful. These gardens looked down to a lake, and the large trees, mixed with shrubs made it feel a little like home :-)

Once we got home, we decided to have Thai for dinner, so we headed to a Thai restaurant near Maria's house, called Tara Thai. Tara means water (I think), and the restaurant was decorated in a sea theme - lots of blue! I ordered my 'usual', pad thai, which only came with shrimp, which is different, but it was nice! And Maria got a curry, which was HOT!

The next day, we caught the metro in the DC and saw a 3D iMax movie about the deep sea, which was really interesting, although there weren't any dolphins in it :( The movie talked about different parts of the sea, and how they depend on each other to keep each other in check... After the movie, we met my friend Amanda (friend from camp) for lunch at the Corner Bakery. We chatted for ages, and then went to a gift shop I'd been to earlier in the month when some of us went to the White House.

After that we went to the Holocaust museum, and got tickets to see the main exhibit. This is one amazing museum. When you go in, you get a little book with the story of someone who was sent to one of the concentration camps. I got a 12 year old girl who was sent to Auschwitz and was killed shortly after arriving. As you went up in the elevator to the top floor, you watched a video of an American soldier talking about discovering one of the concentration camps. Then, when you got out of the lift, there were pictures and a video of one of the concentration camps. This part, plus the booklet were what got me the most. I think sometimes I get caught up in the statistics, which are horrifying, but when you consider that all those people had family, friends, lives, dreams, hopes of their own, they become so much worse...

I kind of rushed through it a bit, we had a limited amount of time, and I thought the museum closed at 5, not 5.30, plus, I wanted to see the childrens exhibit too, so I was done by just before 5, and had to wait for Amanda and Maria...had a look in the gift shop, which had some interesting books!

After we'd done, Maria realised she'd left her phone at the Corner Bakery, so she went to find it, and Amanda and I went to Borders, where Maria met us. We spent a couple of hours there, looking at ASL books...increasing my knowledge of ASL!

We left borders about 9, and went to a felafel place in Adams Morgan - it was GOOOOD! After dinner, we walked back to the metro, said goodbye to Amanda, and went home.

When we got home, we sat around for a bit, and then decided to go to the beach to look at the stars...so we packed up our sleeping bags, food, etc, and drove 3 hours to Ocean City. It was a beautiful night, and you could see heaps more stars there than you could from Kensington! Danged light pollution... still not as many as at home though :( I fell asleep on the beach, listening to the surf, and wrapped up in Maria's sleeping bag, and woke up about 6, when the sun was starting to rise. Gorgeous sunrise! I couldn't be bothered going to get my camera though...

Once the sun had fully risen, we left and drove home, stopping once so Maria could have a nap. Once we got back to her place we slept for a bit longer :D That afternoon, we went to the at&t shop and I got a plan for my cellphone, which is now working :-)

That evening we went to a free outdoor movie - Slumdog Millionaire - which I've seen before, but enjoyed it the second time round too!

The next day we drove out to Baltimore to the aquarium, which I'd heard was really good by some people from camp, who went on one of the sponsored trips. They have an exhibit on Australia there at the moment, so we started there, and I had some fun taking pics of a toy kangaroo I got given (called Crikey and Ocka after the two Australians at camp). No aquatic drop bears sadly, but there were some cool fish there! And apparently the 'wet season' happens every year!

After looking around Australia, we went and had a look at an exhibit on jellyfish, which had some awesome looking jellyfish in it! Photos will be uploaded to flickr at some point :-) They even had some we get at home - moon jellies, whos sting doesn't hurt people.

Then we went to see the dolphin show, which was cool! I <3 dolphins :D

After the dolphin show, we went to look at the main exhibit, which was pretty cool - the sharks/stingrays/turtles/reef fish were my favourite! And we saw some sloths which was pretty cool - a little weird for an aquarium to have sloths though!

Once we'd done looking at the aquarium, we tried to hook up with the person I'm staying with now, but we couldn't get a hold of them, so we went and had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe...uber cool, and the waiter was super funny!

Next day and we had to get up early (well 8.30), to go to the post office, and then meet Amanda for brunch at Poets & Busboys, a cafe/bookshop in DC, which was yummy :D We left Amanda about 1pm, she had to drive home for her job starting today, and we went home so I could pack to leave for Pennsylvania.

We left for PA about 7, and made it here about 8.30, when I realised I'd left my cellphone at Maria's house :( (luckily she drove up today to bring it back!), where we met Cafekat and her partner at the Glen Rock Mills Inn, where her partner was playing. Stayed until about 1am, and then followed Cafekat and her room mate home to her partners house (confused yet!) because she'd locked her keys in her car!

Yesterday I slept super late, and we had pancakes for breakfast (my first home cooked meal!), and Maria left, and we veged until leaving for a pool party at one of Cafekat's friends places. PA is so beautiful, really green, kind of like home, but the hills aren't as big...

Today I just hung out, chatting, updating, playing on facebook etc, Maria came over to deliver my cellphone, and we're off to open mic night tonight :D

Tomorrow I'm off to the dentist (I think my gum is infected), and then Thursday I'm catching the train up to New York for the night, before leaving for Toronto the day after.
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I had the best week this week - went so much faster than the previous week, most of which I can't tell you about until after camp! First week was not a lot of fun, although of course there were good bits! This week I was on Jr. Scuba, with 10-12 year olds, and they are such a great age. <3 them!

In honour of the 4th of July, a whole bunch of the international staff made mini flags and pinned them to a sheet, and then stole the American flag on Thursday night (no one really here today), and hid it under my bed :D So much fun - and yes, I did return it this morning! We then flew our internatinal one yesterday :D Oh and I got totally decked out in NZ flag tattoos and pins/badges :D FUN!!!!

I've got 'Dolphins' for the next fortnight, which is grades 1-2 (aged 6-7 I think). I'm a bit apprehensive, but I've got at least one person in my team who I think will be great, so we should be ok! Hopefully I get some pool time with them :D

Tonight most of us are going to Arlington to watch the fireworks for 4th July, which is exciting - I really want to nap and shower before then (haven't showered for a day and a half) - hopefully my bed is more comfy this fortnight (the last one was majorly saggy)....

Last Sat I got to go to Antietam with ResQgeek and his beautiful daughters - I had a lot of fun, and felt like a complete geek too :D Photos will emerge at some point :p After I got back I watched Mamma Mia in the staff house with some other staff - we did the singalong version and it was SO fun - got some awesome videos of people dancing :p

Thoroughly jealous of everyone at the Edinburgh UnCon - hope you are all having HEAPS of fun!
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Hey everyone!

Sorry for the lack of updates, I've been SO slack! So exciting to get regular access to the net back :P

We arrived in DC a couple of days ago, and we've been staying with a host family since then - they are SO nice!! Took us to the supermarket yesterday which was exciting - so many new things! And I found out that a cantaloupe is the same as a rock melon :p

Train trip was AMAZING! Saw a LOT of Texas, and it is SO beautiful - went from really dry to getting greener, then once we got to Pennsylvania it was almost like home - but our rivers are a lot cleaner! Would fully recommend to anyone heading across USA - it is SO worth the money, and the not showering for 5 days :p It was a real eye opener - how different the gap between the standards of living is between poor and rich - makes me feel really lucky. Specially going along the border between Mexico and Texas....

We got off in San Antonio - the train stopped there from 11am and left at 7am, so we went and wandered around in the middle of the night! Would never have done it if I wasn't travelling with Megan - she is so great! I think we psych each other up to do stuff sometimes - and we are so similar!! Met some Texas Rangers outside the Alamo, they were really friendly, and gave us little Ranger badges, we got sworn in as Rangers too :D

Today we're off to have another cultural experience - we were going to go sightseeing in DC but we woke up to thunder and rain so figured we'd have plenty of time to do it later, so we're going to the mall :P I'm excited!

I should head off - gotta pack all my stuff up again - I will be glad to be home and be able to put my stuff in drawers again! Not have to unpack everytime I want something!!

Hey hey!

Jun. 2nd, 2009 11:15 am
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Having the most wonderful time in Santa Monica! We arrived on Saturday, the flight was pretty insane - I watched 3 movies - Inkheart, The Reader, and Wall-E - and two flight of the concords episodes :D Looked at the moon out the window a bit too - amazing being that much closer to it :p Only slept for about 3 hours, and kept waking up cos various body parts would go numb :(

Got off the plane in LA, pretty exciting! Security wasn't as bad as I was expecting, although I was an idiot and put the wrong hand on the fingerprinty thingy :s Guy wasn't too scary though :D

Was expecting to take AGES to get out of the airport, but it was really easy, just grabbed our luggage and walked out, only took us about 2 minutes! Outside a guy showed us where to get the shuttle from, well he told us to take a taxi but we declined, and we had to wait a bit for the shuttle to Santa Monica to arrive. We got in, there was an Australian couple in there who we keep meeting - it's hilarious seeing the same people over and over! Took us about 20 minutes to get to our hostel, and we checked in and went up to our room. Nice enough room, we've only really slept in there though.

Had a bit of a nap while Megan unpacked, we have these HUGE cupboards to store all our stuff in, and Megan's lent me a lock for it. Not that I don't trust our roommates - Sam from Korea who's studying in LA, and also Josie from Italy who's also studying.

After a bit of a nap we headed down to the pier and had a look round...and ended up at Bubba Gumps Shrimp restaurant which was fairly good! Nice waiter :D Cute too!

After dinner we headed back and went to bed.

Sunday morning we went down to breakfast and sat with 3 German people, one Swiss (Swiss Boy is what we call him), and 3 Americans. We've ended up hanging out with them heaps - we went out with them last night and the night before and had a great time both times - well not so much last night when we got really cheap drinks - $6 for 2 rum and cokes = too much for me :( So I came home about 2 and went to bed feeling not so great, fine this morning though :D

Anyway, Sunday, we just hung out at the beach for a bit, I got a little burned, but we met some nice American life guards who invited us out for dinner - holy moly the pizza is huge here! We also went for a run/roller blade (Megan ran) along the waterfront - so much fun!

Yesterday we slept for most of the morning, cos we went out and sat on one of the lifeguard stations until about 3am, then went and played pool till 4 - Megan and I missed breakfast cos we slept in - got some dry cornflakes with yogurt (ick) and then went back to bed and slept a bit more!

In the afternoon we rented some bikes and cycled around to Venice Beach which was SO MUCH FUN! Then came home and went to a $3 cooking class at the hostel! After that we all went out for drinks...see above (yes, I know this is all over the place, I'm in a hurry!)

Today we're off to Hollywood, then gotta do washing and go to the supermarket - our train leaves tomorrow! We're gonna go on the ferris wheel on the end of the pier tonight too :D

Hope you are all well - thanks for all the emails!!! Love to you all :-)

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