Sunshine, Reflection & Buckets

Thoughts from my short walks through campus…

Today is a gorgeous spring day in Minnesota.  These are the days I dream about during the depths of winter.  The sun is high in the sky with no clouds to block its rays.  The temperature is moderate in the upper 40s and there is a slight breeze, perfect “sweatshirt weather”.  Days like today make me realize how lucky I really am; I have already done so much and I will soon be a college graduate with a bright future ahead.  What more can you ask for?  Great family, great friends?  Yep, I’ve got those too.

So now I look toward the future after a bit of reflection, and realize that the potential is truly unlimited.  Beyond my big move which I talk about endlessly, and my new job, there is so much out there to do and see.  This becomes more apparent to me all the time and I can’t wait to get out there and go for it.  This sparks a thought, what kind of experiences top my (bucket) list?

1. Live in a foreign country for at least a year

2. Travel to all seven continents

3. Participate in a rally race with my older brother

4. Offer a scholarship

5. Ski (cross country) in the Alps

6. See a WRC event in person

7. Learn another language (can be combined with #1)

So many more things to list.  How can I choose what makes the list and what doesn’t?  Anybody out there have similar items on their list?

 

Boston Trip: Days 5 – 10

Tuesday, Day 5: Another day in Boston.  We again jumped the T into downtown Boston and spent the day exploring.  We also did some shopping and found ourselves some goodies.  Nothing too exciting this day, but still a lot of fun.

Wednesday, Day 6: Back into Boston again this day.  For a couple of kids from small town Minnesota everything in a city like this is impressive.  I’ve spent a little time in Minneapolis, but this is so much different.  This reminds me of some of the cities in Europe, particularly British and Italian cities.  You can tell that this was an area first settled by our British forefathers, but the Italian influence is tremendous.  This is especially true in a neighborhood like Beacon Hill.  We walked through the streets and enjoyed seeing old men meeting up outside local cafes and speaking Italian with one another.  What a great place to spend some time.  We will be back.

We went out to dinner on this night with our host and one of his business associates/friends.  We had some great, budget-friendly food at Trina’s Starlite Lounge.  We also enjoyed talking with someone who has never been to Minnesota, and who has done his fair share of traveling.  I always love to hear travel stories from other people.

Thursday, Day 7: Spent the day back and forth between Boston and Cambridge.  Beautiful weather made it another awesome day.  We went for a light snack at The Biscuit and cruised around Cambridge in the morning before heading in to the city.  We then went back through the Beacon Hill area (stopped at Mike’s Pastry for a cannoli; delicious!), down by the Wharfs on the water, and eventually jumped on the T and window shopped on Newbury Street.  Overall, an excellent way to spend a Thursday.

Dinner was with our host, three of his business associates, and another friend at Catalyst (mentioned in early posts).  Great conversation and food followed, ending our awesome day.  We then had about a 20 minutes walk back to the apartment before heading to bed.

Friday, Day 8: The day was spent in Cambridge.  We wandered down to Kendall Square and Central Square for breakfast at Flour.  After an excellent and filling sticky-bun we meandered back up the road, through Central Square, doing some spontaneous thrift shopping on the way.  Cambridge has some excellent thrift shops and they are well worth exploring for those on a budget.

Our day ended back at Broomstone’s Curling Club, where I got to play a great game with some friends.  We then ended up back at the apartment, and did some packing while having a few drinks.

Saturday, Day 9: Woke up and went our to breakfast at a great little place called Buddy’s.  We then finished our packing and were dropped off at the airport.  Hopped a quick flight back to Minneapolis and were picked up by my brother and sister-in-law.  Spent the night hanging out at their house and describing our trip.  Early to bed after a tiring day of travel.

Sunday, Day 10: Hung out in the Twin Cities for the day and drove back up north in the evening.  This marks the end of the trip.  Can’t wait to go back!

Boston Trip, Days 1 and 2

Day 1, Friday: My girlfriend and I had our bags packed and ready to go.  We met up after our 9:00AM classes, jumped in the car, and hit the road.  The first leg of our travel to Boston had begun.  It is about a 4 hour drive from our small northern town to Minneapolis, from which we would be flying the next morning.  I drove through town on a mission to get onto the highway heading South.  My girlfriend dug through a binder full of burnt CDs and selected one with some of our favorite tracks.  Once we hit the highway it was 4 hours of music and conversation about our building excitement for the week ahead.  We arrived in the outskirts of Minneapolis, where my brother lives, at about 3:00PM.  We unloaded our bags from the car and were greeted by my sister-in-law before she went to work for the late shift.  We jumped back in the car and headed into town to do a bit of shopping at IKEA.  After shopping, we ate some dinner with my brother and sister-in-law on her “lunch” break.  Then it was about time for bed as our flight was due to depart from MSP at 7:00AM.

Day 2, Saturday: My alarm went off at 4:00AM, time to get up and start a long day.  My girlfriend also rolled out of bed at this point and we stumbled down to the kitchen for a bite to eat.  I woke my brother as he was to drop us off at the airport.  We ate, did some last minute luggage checks, and fired up the car for our quick jaunt to the airport.  We arrived at the airport around 5:15AM and got through security rather quickly.  After we located our gate, we found some seats and waited to board.  Boarding began in a short time and before we knew it our plane was taxiing out to the runway.  Our flight went very smoothly and we landed at BOS around 10:00AM Eastern time.  We walked outside to the pickup area, rain was coming down pretty heavily.  My friend who we’d be spending the next week with was there to greet us and assisted us with our luggage.  We climbed into his truck and began the short drive from the airport to Cambridge.  He pointed out landmarks and described the city to us as we peeked out of the rain soaked windshield between swipes of the wiper blades.  We arrived at his apartment just as the rain began to let up.  Great timing.  We hauled our luggage to his third floor apartment and got a bit settled in to our space for the week.  The three of us then decided to grab some lunch and went into town for a bite at All Star Sandwich Bar.  The service was great, and food was delicious!  Our waiter gave us a warm welcome to the Boston area, and hoped we would enjoy our stay; great first impression.  After lunch my friend, who has become somewhat of a local after about 5 years in the area, took us on a walking tour of Cambridge, Harvard, Harvard Square, and the surrounding neighborhoods.  The weather was cool and damp, so we stopped for a cappucino at Crema Cafe.  I would suggest this cafe to anyone; very busy, great coffee.  We then returned to the apartment, and spent the evening catching up and discussing our plans for the week.  Our air matress felt great at the end of the day.  Sleep came quickly…Days 3 and 4 to come soon!

Harvard Yard

Back to Reality

I have returned from my spring break trip which I had been writing about prior to last week.  What an awesome experience!  If you haven’t been to Boston/Cambridge you should definitely consider taking a quick trip out.  I will write about my trip in greater detail later this week hopefully, and try to share some photos as well.  Right now I am busy with school and trying to get back into the swing of things for my final seven weeks of college.

What an incredible feeling; I’m sure some of you reading this are sharing this feeling with me.  A feeling of excitement, mixed with some anxiety have become constants in my life.  I will soon be done with school for good (unless I choose to pursue higher degrees) and must enter the professional world.  This can be daunting for some, but I am very much looking forward to the experiences that lie ahead.

As I said above, I will write later this week on my vacation, but for now it’s back to the books.

Friends, Family, and Traveling

Although the title may lead you to believe that this post if about leaving your friends and family behind when you travel that is not the case.  In fact, I encourage everyone to travel with friends or family members if they get a chance.  This post is more about your friends and family helping you make your travel dreams come true.

As you know I have been going on and on about my upcoming trip to Boston, MA.  This trip was only made possible by one of my good friends who lives in the area.  We have been friends for years and he moved to the East Coast about 6 years ago.  Since then, we have been discussing the fact that I should come to visit at some point.  Between our hectic college schedules and limited funds we couldn’t seem to make it happen until now.  He has settled into his career, and I have finally learned how to save a bit of money – although not enough money for a hotel in Boston for a week.  He has been generous enough to allow my girlfriend and I to stay with him in his apartment for the week we are there.  This makes the entire trip affordable and will undoubtedly make it more enjoyable.  Free lodging and quality time with an old friend can make spring break enjoyable anywhere you go!

Another prime example is a potential trip I have coming up.  I have an uncle who does a fair amount of traveling for work.  Of course, his expenses are paid by the company he works for, and because he oftens spends weeks abroad at a time the company has a rental apartment for him in his usual destinations.  One of these places is Singapore.  This has provided me with an opportunity to experience an entirely new culture if I’m willing to spend some cash.  Singapore is a place with an incredible history and diversity which intrigues me deeply.  My plane ticket could be completely covered by my uncle’s seemingly endless frequent flyer miles (extremely generous offer from him) and I would have a place to stay.  I would only need to pay for my food and general living expenses while I am there.  I see no reason to pass up this opportunity so stay tuned for further developments.

Singapore is a blend of traditional and modern from many different cultural heritages.

I present these little snippets above to encourage fellow budget-minded travelers to talk to friends and family about dropping in on them for a few days.  I’m not recommending that you ring them up and say you’re coming to crash on their couch next week, but a simple e-mail mentioning that you’d like to see their city/state/area might bring an offer.  More than likely they will be glad to have you, and you will have a satisfying and budget friendly vacation.

Hopefully this can help some of you to explore new ideas as to how you travel.  And hopefully those ideas will turn into incredible new experiences!

Snow and Tests

There is currently a mild blizzard outside my window.  My part of the state has been fortunate to have not been hit too hard.  It seems to have gone south of here, and some parts of the state are reporting over a foot of fresh stuff since last night.  The storm is suppose to pass by  tomorrow, and I am hoping that the forecast is correct as it could play a role in my travel plans.  Here’s to hoping that the MSP Airport is up and running efficiently…

Between now and Friday (the day I am leaving town) I have two midterm tests.  One is today and the other tomorrow.  These tests, and about 10 more hours of work, are all that stand between me and a week long vacation.  It is much needed this time of year.  Winter break is simply too short to replenish my batteries and get me fully motivated to attack Spring semester head on.  Also, with it being my final semester and my 5th year, I am more than ready to close the books for a while and start my new life.  This post needs to be short because I need to get back to studying, but I do plan to snap a couple pictures of the fresh snow and upload them later.

European Cars

Cars represent a true passion in my life.  I was reading a blog I recently began follow, Classic Confusion, and got inspired to share a short post with some photos.

While I was in Europe for two months last spring I was able to snap a few shots of some of the beautiful cars that I saw.  That being said, I wasn’t quick enough with my camera sometimes (especially on the autobahns).  I can recall numerous cars from Porsche: 911, Cayman, Boxster, Panamera; Ford: Escort Cosworth, Fiesta ST, Focus ST & RS; Maserati: Quattroporte, Granturismo; BMW: 1 series M coupe, M3, M5, M6; Ferrari: 360, 430 (Scuderia), 458, California, 599; Audi: R8 (V10); Lamborghini: Aventador (brand new in Munich!), Gallardo; Bentley: Continental GT; Rolls Royce: Phantom; and many, many more.

Here are some I was able to get pictures of, you’ll also notice some pictures of rally cars which I explain later on:

Now for my car fix I have begun rewatching all of the Top Gear episodes that are on NetFlix!

Besides street cars, I am a huge fan of racing.  I enjoy Formula 1, British Touring Car Championship, World Tour Car Championship, Le Mans (Euro and American), and pretty much any kind of racing that involves turning both ways (not you NASCAR).  My very favorite, however, is rally racing.  No other motorsport can deliver the same kind of excitement as rally.  Thankfully there are so many sanctioning bodies in rally racing that there is a race almost every weekend of the year to keep me happy.  I try to follow the WRC, IRC, Rally America, BRC, and a few smaller circuits as much as possible.  Also, I look forward to being actively involved in rally racing in the future with the Rally Russel‘s team.

 

Spring break…again

As some of you may know from a post a while back, my girlfriend and I will be heading to the Boston area for spring break.  It’s not your typical spring break destination, but I’ve found that there is a lot to do and see.  For this reason, and the fact that I fly out on Saturday, I have decided to talk about my trip again.

I thought I’d share some things I found to do in the suburbs of Boston where we’ll be staying.  There are so many lists of things to do in Boston, but not a whole lot featuring the area we’ll be in.  Some of these things we may actually do, others we may not, it really depends on the weather for some.

Things to do in Somerville

Things to do in Cambridge

There are many more things to do, but these were two sites that I thought had some good things to do.  I also like how they feature things/places that locals do/go.

One place I am really looking forward to visiting in Boston is Beacon Hill.  It is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Boston, and in the United States for that matter.

Planning things to do  can really rely on the you’re expecting.  Weather can play a huge role in any vacation to New England, so knowing how to pack is also important.  I found a a short bit on how to dress and what kind of temperatures to expect: Boston in the Spring.  Basically, be prepared for the worst.  Wear layers because you can always remove them if it is warmer than expected.

I have to keep this post short, but I hope to write a bit more about the Boston area before I take off.

What if

With all my talk about getting a job after graduation, I have put little time into thinking about the alternative.  By this I mean, what if I don’t get hired straight away?  What if there is some down time between commencement and employment?

If this is the case, I have made a couple of plans that I intend to stick to.  My idea is to move to the Twin Cities, where I have some friends and an older brother.  I would plan to move in with my brother and his wife temporarily while seeking a full-time job within my field.  This doesn’t mean I will be free-loading though, I would definitely secure some sort of work, whether that be a full-time job or two part-time jobs.  This would allow me to be financially stable and be in a metro area where I am more likely to find a job.  Eventually, whether I have secured a career or not, I will have enough money to move into an apartment of my own or share one with some friends.

If the above plan doesn’t result in a full-time career within about 6 months, I will be applying for a program which allows young Americans to work abroad.  BUNAC‘s Work in Ireland program supplies you with a Work Holiday Visa which is good for 12 months.  This would make it possible for me to move anywhere I choose in Ireland and find any kind of employment I like for up to a year.  It would be an incredible experience and a perfect way to spend a year while young.

These are just a couple of ideas I have, but we will see what happens.

To Live Abroad

If you have looked under the Oslo and Oxford tabs at the top of the page, you will notice that I spent some time overseas.  Last year I was lucky enough to study abroad with 26 other students from my University for two months.  The experience was incredible and unforgettable.  Not only did I see and experience amazing history and culture every day, but I also made many news friends along the way.  You can check out the blog I wrote while I was abroad by clicking on the link to “Eurospring 2011” in the right sidebar.  There are a few pictures there along with 40 or so blog entries from my daily life.

A view of High Street in Oxford from St. Mary the Virgin's Church tower.

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