The “Monthly” Bucket- August/September 2017

Uhh…what happened? I landed back in the US, got hit with some killer jet lag, blinked, and then suddenly it was the end of September. Oops. Sorry about that. I’ve gotten up to some really neat stuff, though!

www.myadventurebucket.com August September

Where in the world am I? Settling into my new home in North Carolina after being a nomad for almost 6 months. From two weeks in India to three months in Sri Lanka to six weeks of road-tripping the US with my faithful adventure dog, it feels really good to sit still for a few minutes.  

Items checked off the bucket list this month:

#367- Pizza at Lombardi’s in NYC

#169- Drive the entire length of Interstate 80 from New York’s George Washington Bridge to the Bay Bridge in San Francisco

#382- Attend the Iowa State Fair

#221- Browse through Moe’s Bookstore in Berkeley, California (the 100th thing I’ve checked off my list!)

#337- Visit Half Moon Bay on the California Coast

#588- Visit Sedona, Arizona

See? I told you I’ve been busy!

Highlight of the month: Picking up my best girl from summer camp! If you’re a dog person, you’ll understand- being separated from your best friend for four months is the absolute worst! She had a great time at summer camp, though, and I know she was well taken care of while I was off poking around ancient temples in Sri Lanka. I sure do sleep a lot better with her sprawled out across most of the bed, though. We immediately made up for lost time by setting off on a 6 week road trip around the US!

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Touring the desert in Sedona, Arizona by Hummer

 

Lowlight of the month: Having to cancel my month-long trip to Brazil due to Hurricane Irma. I should have been celebrating my birthday on September 24th by heading to the airport in Fort Lauderdale, but apparently Mother Nature had other plans. 

Best meal: Duck fat cheese fries at Village Whiskey in Philadelphia.

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That’s my friend Matt getting the perfect instagram shot of his duck fat cheese fries. Say hi, Matt!

Super close second: Carne Asada Waffle Fries at Loco Patron in Scottsdale, Arizona- one of my favorite cities on the whole entire planet.

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I know you just licked your screen.

 

New blog posts published:

July Monthly Bucket

I look like a great big slacker, don’t I? Oops. Sorry about that! In my defense, I’ve been working on some other projects, too. Like this article for the Gay & Lesbian Review:  Pride in Sri Lanka: Still an Act of Rebellion

What I learned:

  • Always get the travel insurance! I would be out a huge chunk of money from my canceled Brazil plans if it wasn’t for my World Nomads travel insurance policy. I used to travel without insurance all the time, and I’m really lucky that something like this never happened to me before. World Nomads policies are really inexpensive, and you need to have one when you travel, period. (If you use my affiliate link to sign up for your policy, it won’t cost you anything, but I’ll receive a small commission to help with the running of this site and my weekly pedicure habit.)
  • It is pretty much impossible to lick the butter cow at the Iowa State Fair because they keep it behind glass.
  • The Residence Inn by Marriott Austin South takes a Polaroid of every dog who stays there. How cute is this??

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  • Restaurants all over Scottsdale have started offering doggie menus. Murphy Ann really likes Dog Biscuits and Gravy for breakfast.
  • The Grand Canyon is a really nice hole in the ground, but it gets unbelievably hot during the summer. (And September is still summer in Arizona!) Bring tons of water, especially if you’re visiting with a four-legged friend.

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  • Prickly pear margaritas are amazing.
  • When in Sedona, get up before sunrise at least once and do a hike through the desert while watching hot air balloons glide overhead.

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  • Everything you’ve ever heard about California traffic is true, and then some.
  • Watermelon beer is amazing (I’m looking at you, 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon)
  • Utah is gorgeous.
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Like, seriously gorgeous.
  • Lincoln, Nebraska is super dog friendly and adorable. Who knew?
  • The Iowa State Fair sells hot beef sundaes and they’re exactly as amazing as you’re imagining.

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  • Cleveland is also super dog friendly and adorable. Who knew??

 

What I read:

What’s next? I had to rewrite this section because I was supposed to be on a plane to Rio de Janeiro on September 25th for a month of picking coffee beans, lounging on gorgeous South American beaches, and trying to look cool in Brazilian cocktail bars. Then Hurricane Irma happened, the Brazilian consulate in Miami had to close unexpectedly, and I wasn’t able to get my visa in time. I’m really, really bummed, but I also know how lucky I am that this devastating storm only caused me a relatively minor travel interruption. Considering how many people lost their lives and homes and businesses, I’m only going to thank my lucky stars that some travel issues were my only problem. Instead of Brazil, I’ll be writing about my new home in North Carolina and throwing myself into the planning of my next big bucket list adventure, driving Australia’s Great Ocean Road.

Did you get up to any cool adventures in August and September? Got any good travel tips for Australia? Leave a comment and let me know!

The Monthly Bucket- July 2017

Hey adventurers! I hope everyone had a fantastic July. Mine was certainly eventful- here’s what I got up to this month.

Where in the world am I? I just landed back in the USA at the end of July after nearly four months in India and Sri Lanka. I am currently gorging myself on all the American fast food I’ve missed (I love you, Steak N Shake) and gearing up for two months of road tripping around the country.  

Items checked off the bucket list this month: #542- explore ancient temples in Sri Lanka. This was a three month project! Check out some of the amazing temples I’ve been exploring:

Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic Kandy Sri Lanka MyAdventureBucket.com
Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Kandy
Dambulla Cave Temples Sri Lanka MyAdventureBucket.com
Dambulla Cave Temples
Nallur Kandaswamy Hindu Temple Jaffna Sri Lanka MyAdventureBucket.com
Nallur Kandaswamy Temple, Jaffna

#365- Deep fried hot dogs at Rutt’s Hut in Clifton, New Jersey

Deep fried hot dogs Rutts Hut Clifton New Jersey MyAdventureBucket.com
Yes, deep fried hot dogs. Dog bless America.

 

Highlight of the month: Climbing the ancient rock monastery of Sigiriya! I was really nervous about this, guys. I’m not in the best shape and my health has been kind of sketchy on this trip as you know. But I made it to the top! And not without considerable effort. Apart from the sheer physical exhaustion, I was also contending with potential swarms of wasps and huge wind gusts that could easily blow a person (or at least their camera) off the rock. At one point I was down on my hands and knees crawling up some steps because the wind was blowing so hard I couldn’t stand up. But the important thing is, I made it! Even if coming down did take twice as long because my knees were absolute Jell-O.

Sigiriya Sri Lanka MyAdventureBucket.com

Did you accomplish something awesome in July? Comment below and let me know so I can celebrate with you!

Lowlight of the month: Getting stuck with the absolute worst driver on the planet while moving from Kandy to Habarana, Sri Lanka. Proof that, even when you do your research and use a reputable tour company, you can still be stuck with a complete nincompoop. Read all about it here.

Best meal: Pan fried dumplings at Momo’s by Ruvi in Colombo. These things were amazing. If you’ve never had a momo, you should go get some immediately. Actually just get on a plane and come to Sri Lanka because I have to assume these are the best on the planet.

Momos by Ruvi MyAdventureBucket.com

New blog posts published:

Hotel Review: Bar Reef Resort

Hotel Review: Dolphin Beach Resort

June Monthly Bucket

Solo Female Traveler Interview: Cali

Dambulla Cave Temples & the Worst Driver EVER

Hotel Review: Ceylon Tea Bungalows

Hotel Review: Villa Rosa, Kandy

Highlights of Kandy, Sri Lanka

Hotel Review: The Other Corner

Solo Female Traveler Interview: Charlotte

Spa Review: Amber Spa, Colombo Courtyard

So Long, Sri Lanka! What’s Next?

What I learned:

  • Fish pedicures: actually the best thing ever.
  • Sri Lankan road construction crews have no problem whatsoever using a jackhammer at 3 a.m. Never travel without earplugs.
  • The train is never on time. Like, ever.
  • Jaffna, Sri Lanka is home to some of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen…and they’re rapidly crumbling into ruin. Can someone please do something about this?
  • Arrack (the local coconut flower liquor) and ginger beer is amazing.
  • Sri Lankan desserts are so sweet they’ll make your teeth hurt. Proceed with caution.
  • There are spas in Europe where you soak in a tub full of beer. This right here is why Europe is always going to lead the rest of the world into the future.
  • There’s a donut shop in Los Angeles selling donuts filled with ice cream. Maybe Europe has a little competition.
  • Upgrading to Emirates business class is worth every penny.
  • The sprayer hose next to all of the toilets here makes for a handy weapon if you encounter a large insect while getting into the shower. Welcome to the tropics.

 

What I read:

A Man Called Ove  by Fredrick Backman- this book tore my heart out, flattened it, folded it into an origami swan, and then set it on fire. But it also made me laugh, hard. I only read it because someone recommended it to me, and I’m so glad they did. Put this one way, way at the top of your reading list.

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai- yes, I’m way behind in reading this book, but I’m so glad I finally did. I love to surround myself with positive people and inspirational stories (because who needs more negative crap, seriously?) and this book gave me wings.

What’s next? I’m spending the month of August driving the entire length of I-80 from New York City to San Francisco, and seeing lots of cool stuff along the way. Including a giant butter cow at the Iowa State Fair. Tune in next month to find out if I was able to get close enough to lick it.

Posts on My Adventure Bucket may contain affiliate links. Using these links costs you nothing but helps support the upkeep of this site and my daily cheeseburger habit. 

So Long, Sri Lanka! What’s Next?

Wait, didn’t I just get here? How can it possibly be time to leave Sri Lanka already?

I’m killing an afternoon in a Colombo coffee shop until my taxi arrives to take me to the airport. I’d love to take another stroll around the neighborhood, but as I’m going to be stuck in these clothes for about 45 hours, I’m trying to stay as sweat-free as possible. You’re welcome, fellow passengers.

The last three months have been a fantastic adventure, and I’ve made some memories that will last forever. Like being the only visitor to sit and watch a family of elephants just after sunrise in Udawalawe National Park. Or being run out of a guesthouse on suspicion of being a witch.

I have left pieces of my heart all over this gorgeous little island- mostly with the hundreds of sad-eyed street dogs who trusted me enough to approach me for a bit of food, and love.

So Long Sri Lanka MyAdventureBucket.com

When I first told friends and coworkers that I was quitting my job to travel full time, starting with a brief stint in India and three months in Sri Lanka, many of them said I was crazy. Well, obviously. But who wants to be normal? Normal is boring, and no one is handing out prizes for being a martyr and giving up on your dreams.

If what I’m doing is crazy, the way I’m doing it is downright insane. Who lets a random computer algorithm determine where they go and how they spend their life? Well, I do, and it’s a terrific amount of fun, actually.

I’m only in Sri Lanka today because my Random Bucket List Picker chose it from my massive list after I completed a train ride across Canada. I was only on that train because the RBLP decided that’s where I should go after visiting the Scottish highlands, after exploring ancient Buddhist temples in Indonesia, etc., etc.

I wonder how normal people do things.

The last three months have flown by in an absolute blur of ancient temples, gorgeous beaches, breathtaking train rides, amazing food, and approximately 175 gallons of Lion beer. You have to admit, there are worse ways to spend a summer. I will miss this quirky little island paradise (and street cart samosas) but the next adventure awaits.

So Long Sri Lanka MyAdventureBucket.com

As always, the next adventure has been randomly chosen for me by the Random Bucket List Picker: driving the entire length of Interstate 80 from New York to California. With my favorite canine copilot by my side, naturally.

So Long Sri Lanka MyAdventureBucket.com
She’s cute, but she’s absolutely useless with directions.

As a bonus, there are quite a few other bucket list entries I’ll be able to cross off along the way. No, I’m not going to tell you ahead of time what they are- what fun would that be? I have to make sure you keep checking back for more stories.

I have set aside six weeks for this adventure, which should be plenty of time to get myself into all kinds of predicaments. I hope you will follow along with me!

Don’t miss any of the adventure- follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, too.

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Highlights of Kandy, Sri Lanka

I don’t think anyone comes to Sri Lanka without a stop in Kandy, and for good reason. This busy hill country town is known as the country’s cultural capital, and has plenty to keep you occupied for several days- longer if you make it your base for exploring the area. And explore it you should; the hill country was one of my absolute favorite parts of my 3 months here in the Pearl of the Indian Ocean.

If you don’t think Sri Lanka is the vacation destination for you because you’re not a fan of beaches and tropical climates, this is why you should come. Misty mountains, cool air, fantastic hiking, and Buddhist history like you’ve never seen anywhere else.

Here are some of my Kandy highlights:

 

Attractions

The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic

You can’t skip this; this temple is the main reason people visit Kandy. It’s also one of the most beautiful Buddhist temples I’ve ever visited, and that’s saying rather a lot. The holiest site in Sri Lankan Buddhism, this temple houses a tooth reportedly taken from the Buddha’s funeral pyre. It’s kind of the Sri Lankan Buddhist Mecca; everyone is supposed to make at least one pilgrimage here in their lifetime. It’s so revered, you even see rowdy groups of teenage boys stopping on the sidewalk across the street to bow in prayer before walking on. Worshipers inside are frequently overcome with emotion, so if you’re visiting as a tourist, please be respectful and unobtrusive. As with all temples, you’ll have to cover up- no exposed knees or shoulders.

One of the most popular attractions on the temple grounds is Rajah the Tusker, a moldering old taxidermy elephant with crumbling ears. This small building is always packed with loud children and selfie-stick-wielding tourists, inexplicably needing a photo of themselves with the remains of this poor creature behind a wall of smudged glass. Suffice to say I think you can skip this spectacle.

Other tips for visiting:

  • Wear slip-on shoes as you’ll have to leave them at the shoe minder’s counter next to where you pay the admission fee. There’s no charge for leaving your shoes, but they’ll ask for a tip when you pick them up.
  • The entry fee for foreigners is 1500 rupees ($10 USD). Do try to have exact change as they’re loathe to break 5000 rupee notes and may tell you that they can’t give you all of your change back. Don’t fall for this; someone is just trying to get a 500 rupee tip.
  • Never pose with a Buddha statue for a photo or selfie. This is basically the most offensive thing you could possibly do.
  • Go as early as you can. The place is overrun with schoolkids by midday.

Kandy Sri Lanka myadventurebucket.com

 

World Buddhist Museum

This was my favorite museum in all of Sri Lanka, and it’s conveniently located on the same property as the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. They charge 500 rupees ($3.25 USD) for foreigners, which is a steal. The museum walks you through the spread of Buddhism throughout the world, and it’s fascinating to see how the story of the Buddha is interpreted country by country. I had a great time reminiscing over some of the other famous Buddhist sites I’ve visited, like Shwedagon Paya in Burma and Borobudur in Indonesia. The lighting and signage in this museum is good…by Sri Lankan standards. It’s not the Smithsonian, but nothing here is. I was really bummed that you can’t take photos inside, because there are some really lovely exhibits. There’s a small gift shop to the left of the staircase down which you exit.

 

Kandy Garrison Cemetery

When you’re done with the World Buddhist Museum, exit left and head up the little hill past the National Museum (toward the public restrooms, incidentally, if you need to stop.) There are signs at the bottom of the hill pointing the way to the cemetery. Once you get to the top of the hill behind the public facilities you might think you’re actually on someone’s driveway, but keep going. There will be a small maintenance shed on the left and then you’ll round the corner to the cemetery. It’s small, and many of the inscriptions are worn, but it’s a really neat piece of Kandy history. The young caretaker is an absolute fountain of knowledge; he knows every name, inscription, and cause of death by heart. Let him tell you all about the extremely large man who died of sunstroke while running from an elephant or the baby who died of a snakebite despite the best efforts of the village medicine man.

Kandy Sri Lanka myadventurebucket.com

St. Paul’s Church

This red brick church dates to the 1840s and is currently undergoing renovations, but is well worth poking around for a few minutes. There are some neat funerary markers for deceased parishioners lining the walls and a gorgeous stained glass window behind the altar. Watch for frolicking monkeys outside. 

Kandy Sri Lanka myadventurebucket.com

Royal Botanic Gardens

This 147 acre park on the outskirts of Kandy is a really great place to escape the noise and pollution of the city for a few hours. There’s a gorgeous orchid house and some really nice walking trails through the wooded areas. If you’re a botany nerd, welcome to paradise. There are more than 4000 plant species here, and they’ve done a really nice job with signage.

Other tips for visiting:

  • Go on a weekday! 2.2 million people visit the gardens annually and every single one of them showed up on the same Saturday morning I visited. Weekdays are much quieter.
  • Look up! Thousands of huge flying foxes roost in the trees and fly around during the day. If you take the path to the right of Royal Palm Avenue you’ll most likely have it to yourself to appreciate these beauties. (And, if you’re me, imagine that you’re in Jurassic Park and they’re actually huge screeching pterodactyls. Don’t judge.)

Kandy Sri Lanka myadventurebucket.com

Accommodation

Villa Rosa

I partnered with this gorgeous hilltop hotel for a review, and absolutely loved it. My only minor quibble was the somewhat unreliable Wi-Fi, but the views and the amazing chicken curry more than made up for my inability to upload all of my photos. Wi-Fi was a bit of an issue throughout the hill country for me, so plan your Internet needs accordingly. If you just want to check email and Facebook a few times a day you’ll be fine, but business travelers might have difficulties.

Kandy Sri Lanka myadventurebucket.com

Transportation

Far and away the best mode of transportation anywhere in the hill country is the train. These creaky, lumbering old locomotives trundle through some of the most beautiful scenery on the island, and nothing beats leaning out the open doors for a blast of cool mountain air in your face. And train travel in Sri Lanka is CHEAP. Check the timetables here and try to coordinate your schedule for a ride in one of the first class observation cars. It won’t cost more than $8 US even for the longest, all-day journeys. There are tour companies who will reserve your tickets for you (for two to three times the going rate) but as I traveled in the off season I never bothered. Turning up at the station an hour before the train was scheduled to depart was always plenty of time to get a first class ticket. Pack some snacks or wait for a man with a big plastic tub of fresh samosas to make his way through the train.

Kandy Sri Lanka myadventurebucket.com
Scenes from the train on my way from Bandarawela to Kandy, in a $6 first class seat.

So there you have it! Some of my favorite parts of my visit to Kandy. Have you been? Drop me a note in the comments and let me know if I missed any of your favorites.

Kandy Sri Lanka www.myadventurebucket.com
Sunset over Kandy’s hills like a ball of fire in the sky.

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Kandy Sri Lanka MyAdventureBucket.com

The Monthly Bucket- June 2017

Happy June, adventurers! OK, I know it’s July 3rd and I’m late again, but I’ve been stuck in some pretty remote places this month. Don’t feel sorry for me; they were all amazing!

Where in the world am I? Two thirds of the way through my great Sri Lankan expedition! This month I’ve visited Galle, Udawalawe, Colombo, Kalpitiya, Kandy, Ella, and Bandarawela.

www.myadventurebucket.com
Hiking around the hill country town of Ella. Quite a change of scenery from the coast!

Items checked off the bucket list this month: #542- explore ancient temples in Sri Lanka. This is a three month project! Check out some of the amazing temples I’ve been exploring:

www.myadventurebucket.com
Shri Sudharmalaya, Galle
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The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Kandy

Highlight of the month: Hanging out with elephants (and elephant babies!) at Udawalawe National Park. I went early (and I do mean EARLY!) in the morning and had the whole place to myself. Not another tourist in sight, and the weather was perfect. June is supposed to be the start of monsoon season in this part of the island, but I had a cool, breezy, sunny day.

www.myadventurebucket.com

Lowlight of the month: Arriving in the secluded paradise of Kalpitiya Peninsula only to be struck down by a random virus as soon as I got to my hotel. Fever, chills, nausea, extreme joint pain; I would have called my travel insurance company for a medical evacuation if I’d had the strength to make the call. Thankfully I made a full recovery without medical intervention, but I later read in the local paper that doctors were perplexed by a mysterious Dengue Fever-like virus exploding in the Kalpitiya peninsula throughout the month of June. Um, yikes?

Best meal: It’s a tie! I really can’t choose between these two:

1. A simple Greek salad and freshly made hummus with grilled flatbread at Chambers inside Galle Fort. I will never, ever go back to eating store-bought hummus again. Chambers, you have ruined me.

June best meal
I may or may not be planning a 10 hour train journey across the country just to have this one more time before I leave.

2. The spaghetti carbonara at Dolphin Beach Resort in Kalpitiya. I know you’d traditionally think of something seafood-based at a Sri Lankan beach resort, but trust me when I say this was the best pasta I’ve ever had in my life.

www.myadventurebucket.com June
It’s OK if you just licked your screen. I did, too.

New blog posts published:
May Monthly Bucket
Become a More Patient Human: Travel in India
Solo Female Traveler Interview: Sky Fisher
Hotel Review: Kalahe House
Sick in Sri Lanka: Yet Another Time I Almost Died
Extending Your Sri Lankan Tourist Visa
Technological Witchcraft: Outsmarting a Common Hotel Scam
Solo Female Traveler Interview: Carrie Mann
No Bus to Kalpitiya: Public Transport in Sri Lanka

What I learned:

  • I’m going to Australia! I fired up my random bucket list picker and let it choose another adventure, so I’ll be heading to the Land Down Under soon to drive the Great Ocean Road. But first, I’m going home to the US for a two month road trip, and then popping down to Brazil to pick some coffee beans. I hope you’ll be following along on all of my adventures.
  • Galle is the most magnificent little city in Sri Lanka and I should definitely live here. It’s so darling, the garbage trucks play classical music so you know when to bring out your trash.
  • You know a man really loves you when he finds a way to have a random cake delivered to you even though he’s 10,000 miles away.
  • Transportation around the island is always more complicated than the Internet suggests.
  • Every time I sit down, a stray animal appears. I have embraced this as my spiritual gift.
  • Sri Lanka’s hill country has the most magnificent climate, and you should definitely visit. While June on the southern coast is miserably hot and sticky, the hills are crisp and cool and perfect. 
  • Getting your roots touched up in a Sri Lankan hair salon is a nerve wracking experience. I almost said “hair raising experience” but even I would have hated me for that.
  • Kalpitiya is full of chipmunks who will sneak into your cabana and abscond with all of your tea, sugar, and creamer. I choose to believe that they are having little chipmunk tea parties somewhere in the woods.
  • You can make an outdoor shower out of a sperm whale skull.
  • Sri Lankan gay rights activists are some of the bravest, kindest, most inspirational people I’ve ever met. June is Pride Month all over the world, but it’s extra special in a country where homosexuality is illegal and people are fighting for their basic human rights. 

What I read:
Stephen King’s On Writing for the billionth time
Jon Vrom’s The Front Row Factor. I loved this book about transforming your life into a series of “front row” moments.
Eleventy billion brain-numbing articles on the technical aspects of blogging that would make your eyes glaze over if I even started to list them all.

What’s next? One more month of exploring ancient temples and exotic beaches before I head back to the US for a while. I can’t wait to see my dog after four months apart!

Don’t forget to follow My Adventure Bucket on Facebook if you haven’t already! Have a fantastic July (and for my American readers, please be careful with your fireworks! Happy Independence Day!)

This post may contain affiliate links. These links cost you nothing but help to support the upkeep of the blog, and my room service habit. 

The Monthly Bucket- May 2017

 

 

This post may contain affiliate links. As always, using these links costs you nothing, but helps support this blog and my weekly pedicure habit. Also we’ll be best friends forever. 

My Adventure Bucket Monthly Collage May 2017

Where in the world am I? Ayubowan from gorgeous Sri Lanka! It’s monsoon season here on the west coast but I’m still having a blast. I’m a little late with the monthly recap- sorry about that! Internet access has been a little bit spotty lately. There are a lot of great things about life in the tropics, but reliable WiFi is unfortunately not one of them.

Items checked off the bucket list this month: #542- explore ancient temples in Sri Lanka- this will be ongoing for the next two months. There are so many gorgeous temples to see! Photos and blog posts coming soon.

Highlight of the month: Not a typical monthly highlight, but visiting the Tsunami Photo Museum in Hikkaduwa. Although it’s very basic and not at all professionally put together, this is one of the most poignant and gut-wrenching museums I’ve ever seen. It’s on par with the World Trade Center in NYC in terms of sheer emotional savagery. I had a hard time maintaining my composure when the owner of the museum showed me the tent in which her family lived for six months, surrounded by tens of thousands of bodies waiting in the tropical heat to be identified and buried. No photos were allowed in the museum, but imagine two small, damp shacks filled with grainy photos and handwritten accounts of the day, all variations on a theme of “a huge wave came and ripped my children out of my arms, took my family and my house and I never saw them again.”

Although the tsunami struck 13 years ago, there are still many homes and businesses that were never rebuilt.
Although the tsunami struck 13 years ago, there are still many homes and businesses that were never rebuilt.

Lowlight of the month: Having to move out of a guesthouse two weeks early because the owners thought I was a witch and refused to come near my room to clean it. My life is odd.

Best meal: Vegetable Kotthu at a street stand in Colombo. Think Stovetop Stuffing on spicy south Asian steroids. Watching the chef throw it together on a hot griddle with a giant cleaver was almost as great as eating it.

Honorable mention to the last dinner I had at the Max Wadiya in Ambalangoda, during which I swear a tiny crab overheard me discussing with the waiter that I don’t eat shellfish, apparently appointed himself my tiny crustacean guardian, and spent the whole meal circling my table and watching me. I swear I’m not drunk, this really happened.

New blog posts published:

Good Morning, India!

Hotel Review: Max Wadiya, Ambalangoda, Sri Lanka.

Barefoot Dentistry: Not as Horrifying as it Sounds.

What I learned:

  • A universal remote app on your phone is crucial when traveling in countries where they are liable to hold the A/C remote hostage in hopes of getting more money out of you. (But be aware that this might cause the owners of the guesthouse to think you’re a witch and refuse to come near your room to clean it. FYI. Yes, I’m still a little bitter.)
  • When a hotel review mentions karaoke that lasts into the wee hours of the night, PAY ATTENTION. For the love of dog, do not disregard this information and book a two week (nonrefundable) stay at this place which will make you think about flinging yourself off the balcony while drunk German tourists belt out “Eye of the Tiger” for the third night in a row. Or something. However, if you do find yourself in this situation, an email to the hotel’s parent company mentioning that you were hoping to review them for your 50,000+ social media followers will instantly get you an upgrade to a top floor suite. Or so I’ve heard. Wink wink. 
  • Sri Lanka has a marvelous invention known as a pastry truck, which is like an American ice cream truck but it drives around selling fresh bread and baked goods out of the back. It even plays music like an ice cream truck. Why does this not exist everywhere??
  • Coconut rotti with pineapple jelly is incredible.
  • There’s no such thing as NyQuil or other common western cough medicine here. It’s worth the luggage space to bring some with you.

What I read:

Prosperity for Writers by Honoree Corder. I love books about intention and positive thinking, and this was a great quick read. If you’re a writer or other creative type, check it out!

Rickety Buses Bumpy Roads: Travels in India Nepal Peru Bolivia by Michelle J. Coote. I love reading about other solo women adventurers, so I had high hopes for this travelogue. The author definitely had some interesting adventures, but there were unacceptable typos and parts of the book were clunky and in desperate need of a good editor. I’m not knocking self publishing, but if you’re the only person who looks at your book before it’s for sale, it’s going to be obvious.

What’s next? More Sri Lankan goodness! I’m here through the end of July and during the month of June I’ll be working my way up through the center of the island to the hill country and the Ancient Cities. This means more gorgeous old temples to explore! First, though, I’m spending another ten days in my new favorite city of Galle on the southwest coast. I passed through this gorgeous old Dutch fort town after leaving Hikkaduwa and thought I’d be able to see everything in two days before moving on. Technically you can; it’s a pretty small city and very compact, but I fell in love and hated to leave. As soon as I reached Tangalle I knew it was a mistake and came right back the next day. This means I cut several things from my planned itinerary and I might never reach Arugam Bay, but as I sit here on my balcony, watching the ocean over the fort ramparts and listening to the call to prayer from the mosque up the street, I don’t mind one bit. Some places just automatically feel like home, you know?

Galle, you are gorgeous and I love you.
Galle, you are gorgeous and I love you.

 

PS- are you following My Adventure Bucket on Facebook? I publish lots of new content there that never makes it to the blog, so check it out!

Athens is Magic (Delphi is Pretty Great, Too)

February 13, 2013– The first thing I do when my plane lands in Athens is to check into my hotel and take a taxi to the famous hammam baths I’d heard so much about. What could be better after a 16 hour flight than relaxing in a steam room and getting a revivifying massage?

Lots of things, as it turns out.

I’m not sure when I realized that the hammam experience wasn’t for me- possibly the very moment I saw the awkward wooden clogs and the tiny dinner napkin in which I was expected to clothe myself before maneuvering my way down the slippery stone steps into the steam room. I summoned up enough grace not to fall and break any bones, which is probably as good as it gets when you’re me. The steam room itself is a large communal space into which the host welcomes you by tossing a bucket of hot water over your head. (Why am I always traveling places where people throw buckets of water at me?) I expect this is meant to be relaxing, but actually just washes one of my contact lenses out of my eye and I spend the next ten minutes frantically trying to shove the godforsaken thing back into place. I’m pretty sure this activity has torn the lens because my eye immediately begins to burn and water profusely.

So this is nice.

From my spot on the stone bench, I can just barely see into the massage room where other guests are called in to be pummeled by large Greek men while lying on another stone slab. I watch as a muscular young man goes in ahead of me (he’s a lot more graceful in his wooden sandals. Probably he’s done this before.) He cries out in pain within seconds of starting his “relaxing” massage.

You know what? It turns out I’m actually not that interested in the whole hammam experience after all.  When nobody is looking I scamper back up the stairs to get dressed and make my escape.

I’m convinced I memorized the cab route to the hammam so I can make my way back on foot, but I’m wrong about this, too. I wander around Athens lost for about two hours before I give up and hail a cab to take me back. There’s probably an ocean of delicious Greek food within walking distance of my hotel, but because I’m tired and cranky I just order room service and immediately go into a coma.

…until 1:30 a.m., when I wake up with a splitting headache, wash down some Advil with a $12 minibar Coke, and wait for breakfast.

 

February 14, 2013– I already know today is going to be a magnificent day. I’m staying at the Royal Olympic Hotel and I’ve booked myself the Athenian Panorama Room, which has giant windows looking out over the Temple of Zeus. The view is positively breathtaking as day breaks over Athens and the massive columns come into view. The day is drizzly and overcast, but that does nothing to diminish the impressive view.

Breakfast is served in the rooftop restaurant, and although I would normally skip a hotel breakfast and go in search of something better, I’m starving to death and this turns out to be a wonderful circumstance. I’ve never had a better breakfast anywhere, hotel or otherwise. Fresh Greek yogurt with honey and “strawberry marmalade,” coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice, three kinds of cheese, ham, air-dried salami, turkey, hard-boiled eggs… I *may* have made three trips through the buffet line. Don’t judge me.

The first thing I notice once I bundle myself up and set out in the cold drizzle are all the homeless dogs looking for food, shelter, and companionship. I stop and pet all of them and try not to cry.

The first item on my agenda is the Acropolis Museum. I’ve gotten there too early, so I wander around while I’m waiting. I hear chanting coming from a Greek Orthodox church and it’s mesmerizing, so I stand outside and listen even when the rain starts coming down harder. Athens is already amazing.

I’m the first person inside the museum when it opens, and I immediately head to the top floor to work my way back down to the beginning. I have the entire second floor of marble busts and faces to myself to examine completely alone for at least 30 minutes as the guards are all huddled in a corner, chatting, and never realize anyone was there until I’m right on top of them. The experience is pure magic- as the title of one volume in their book shop attests, you can actually hear the marble breathing.

My plan to see the museum first in hopes that the rain will let up before I visit the Acropolis completely backfires, as it is raining even harder by the time I get back outside. The Acropolis is still amazing even when you see it in a monsoon. It’s pretty treacherous going up and down marble steps in the pouring rain, but as I did not break any vital body parts, I still consider it 100% worthwhile.

After an hour-long visit I’m frozen to the bone and soaked like a rat, so I shuffle my way back to the hotel and take a scalding hot bath and a nap with the curtains open so I can be sure to wake up to the incredible view again.

I wake up ravenous again (this is going to be a constant theme on this trip, FYI), wander down to the Plaka and have a marvelous plate of souvlaki at a small cafe. I get lost, again, walking back to the hotel but I find a great hot chocolate shop and some of the best baklava I’ve ever had, so this makes it OK.

February 15, 2013– I have booked myself a bus tour to Delphi today with Key Tours so I can check one more thing off my bucket list– seeing the bronze charioteer statue at the Delphi Archaeological Museum. Normally I’m not a fan of bus tours- I like to explore things at my own pace and there’s really nothing worse than being crammed on a bus with a bunch of people who may or may not share your views on personal space or hygiene. I’m pleasantly surprised today, though- there are only 8 people in the entire group and the tour guide is magnificent.

So, the bronze charioteer? Absolutely worth the trip. The museum isn’t terribly crowded (yay, off-season travel!) and I get to sit and stare at him in amazement for quite a long time with only the museum security guard for company.

Bronze Charioteer Delphi Greece

I’m even more amazed by Delphi itself. The stadium, the amphitheater, the temple of Apollo. It’s all breathtaking, and the cool mountain air smells like pine needles and sunshine.

Delphi Greece

Delphi Greece

We stop for lunch at a small taverna.  Lunch is nothing special, but the wine is good, and sitting next to the fire is lovely. The whole bus group shares a communal table and I’m happy to report everyone has perfectly acceptable standards of hygiene. There’s a young couple from China, a family with two teenage daughters from Saskatchewan, and a middle-aged Indian man from Leicester. We all swap travel stories until it’s time to get back on the bus.

On the way back to Athens we stop for 20 minutes in the town of Arachova, which looks like an Alpine village dropped in Greece. Really lovely. I immediately add a Christmastime visit to my bucket list.

I’ve done so much uphill walking, my calves feel like they’re carved out of marble. I go to sleep as soon as the bus drops me back off at my hotel and I’m out cold for seven hours. I miss dinner, wake up at 3am, starving, and drink another real-sugar Coke out of the minibar. My internal clock is never going to recover.

February 16, 2013– It’s the first really lovely day since I arrived in Athens- the sun even comes out for a bit. I take advantage of this by seeing some of the gorgeous outdoor areas. First up is Athens’ First Cemetery, a sprawling marble metropolis of the city’s well-heeled dead. Incredible statuary and mausoleums, including one three-story domed masterpiece. Breathtaking, even if it is a bit crumbling and surrounded by scaffolding. I see something neat, too- what look at first like picture frames sitting on the end of a tomb turn out to be made of marble, so you can make Grandma’s crypt look just like her old fireplace mantel.

The care Greeks lavish on their family graves is extremely touching. Everywhere you look, even in the oldest sections, you see fresh flowers, lit candles, burning incense, and family members busily tending to their plots.

For a taphophile like me, it’s great morning outing. I’d put this cemetery up against any of the nicest I’ve seen anywhere. I think for the millionth time that I really need to write a travel guide for people who love cemeteries.

Athens First Cemetery

Athens First Cemetery

Athens First Cemetery

Athens First Cemetery

Athens First Cemetery

Athens First Cemetery

Next I head to the National Gardens. They may have been designed by Queen Amalia,  but the cemetery was a much better sight. The gardens do have a goat and rabbit sanctuary, which is nice, but the whole place still smells vaguely like piss. Sorry. Maybe it’s the goats.

After a quick stop at a pet shop to buy some Greek dog toys for Murphy Ann, I’m off to see the Street of Tombs at Kerameikos. Extremely impressive- a cemetery pre-dating Jesus Christ by 400+ years where Pericles gave a funeral oration for the first casualties of the Peloponnesian War.

After a quick (by Greek standards) lunch of meatballs in tomato sauce, bread, and wine in the Plaka, I get a free 15 minute walk through the Ancient Agora as they are about to close for the day.

February 17, 2013– It’s cold out, it’s still raining, and I’ve found a lovely warm cafe with cozy nook seat couches, great cappuccino, and Meatloaf on the stereo. Never leaving.  It’s almost 11am on my last day in my new favorite city and the weather exactly matches my feelings about leaving. Sofia the barista (and in my opinion, the maker of the world’s best cappuccinos) has invited me back at 8:00 tonight for a going-away-party. Typical Greek hospitality at its finest.

I spend the rest of the afternoon wandering around Monastiraki & buy a replica of the head of the Delphic charioteer to take home. I get lost, but find the most darling little dive of a restaurant without a single tourist in sight. I take this as a good sign and order the exohikio- roast pork stuffed with creamy feta, tomatoes, and green peppers. It’s incredible, and washed down with quite a lot of Greek wine. I might be in love.

I’m super bummed about heading back home tomorrow and wish I had planned a much longer trip. I came to Athens thinking I would check a couple of things off my bucket list and move on. Turns out I fell in love instead. (Spoiler alert: The Random Bucket List Picker agrees with me, and ends up sending me back to Athens just a few months later.)

Like this? Check out more of my travel adventures here.

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Things I Love

A completely random collection of things I love, in no particular order.

 

Tiny details

Flowers left as an offering to a Ganesh statue in Bali
Flowers left as an offering to a Ganesh statue in Bali

Slow travel

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Luxuriating in an exquisite meal

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Smelling flowers

Exotic flora in Uganda
Exotic flora in Uganda

Listening to a stranger’s stories

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Watching a new city wake up

A chilly November morning in Edinburgh
A chilly November morning in Edinburgh

Bonding with animals

Edgar the affectionate manatee
Edgar the affectionate manatee

Old cemeteries

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Leaving my fingerprints on every corner of the world

Chinatown, Singapore
Chinatown, Singapore

 

What do you love? Tell me in the comments!

Why have a travel blog? Plus a holiday giveaway!

This post may contain affiliate links, which cost you nothing but help to support the upkeep of this blog. 

Know what I love to do, almost as much as I love to have random bucket list adventures all over the globe? Encourage other people to have their own. When I’m getting to know someone, I like to skip right past the usual, “What’s your favorite color?” and “Tell me about your family!” stuff. For me it’s all about the, “What’s on your bucket list??” And as soon as I find out, I’m all about encouraging you to fulfill your dreams.

Bucket list-ing in Indonesia
Bucket list-ing in Indonesia

So that brings me to why I even have a travel blog in the first place. I’ve been traveling and checking things off my own list for years without one, and maintaining a blog is actually a lot of work and expense. But I LOVE to encourage people to follow their dreams. Love it. It breaks my heart when someone tells me they have a dream they’ve given up on. If you’ve always wanted to go to Ireland/ learn Swahili/ sail to Fiji but you’ve given up on it ever happening because of time or money or kids or whatever, please don’t tell me- I’ll cry.

I think everyone has a bucket list, even if you haven’t set it down on paper or told anyone about it yet.

Swimming with dolphins... check!
Swimming with dolphins… check!

I hope reading about my adventures (and misadventures) encourages other people to remember their dreams and goals that they may have set aside and make some of them come true. If you need to save money, save money. If you need to arrange for childcare, do it. There are things you’ve been putting off that won’t wait forever, and eventually you will run out of time. I’ve been a funeral director for a long time- not to be morbid, but I promise you there will come a day when someone you love will be sitting in an office just like mine, telling someone like me about how much you loved wine, and wished you had taken that girls’ trip through Napa. Or how much you loved Greek food, and wished you had made it to Santorini. Or maybe you’ll make some of those dreams come true, and we can talk about that instead.

So…! That brings us to the fun part.

Let’s win some free stuff.

As my holiday gift to you, my awesome followers, one of you is going to win a $50 Amazon gift certificate that you can use to get you one step closer to checking off your own bucket list. Maybe you need a Bucket List Journal to start making your list. Maybe you need some new luggage, or an airplane pillow, or some extra memory cards for your camera. Whatever it is that will inspire you to make your dreams come true, make it happen!

amazon
Gift card shown is for illustration purposes only- actual prize will be in the form of an emailed Amazon code, so you don’t have to wait by the mailbox!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

THE LIST

The most common response I’ve received to my travel photos and stories over the years has always been, “You should be a travel writer!” The second most common, however, has always been a request to see what exactly is on a 600+ item bucket list. I’ve never published it before, and I don’t plan to publish it in its entirety now (there are a few things on it that aren’t travel related and I would prefer to keep them private for the time being) but I will list the ones that I have checked off, along with the relevant blog posts where applicable, and I’ll update it as we go along. Fair enough?

  1.  ???
  2.  ???
  3.  ???
  4.  ???
  5.  ???
  6.  ???
  7.  Take a Train Ride across Canada (completed June/July 2016)
  8.  ???
  9.  Visit the Scottish Highlands (completed November 2015)
  10.  ???
  11.  ???
  12.  ???
  13.  ???
  14.  Take an African photo safari (completed May 2010, Uganda)
  15.  Swim with dolphins (completed January 26, 2016 in Cozumel, Mexico)
  16.  ???
  17.  ???
  18.  ???
  19.  ???
  20.  ???
  21.  ???
  22.  Ride in a hot air balloon (completed March 2009, Bagan, Burma)
  23.  Take a cruise (completed several times over!)
  24.  ???
  25.  ???
  26.  Spend the summer living in a beach house (the summer turned into almost five years, and I still miss that house!)
  27.  ???
  28.  ???
  29.  ???
  30.  ???
  31.  ???
  32.  ???
  33.  ???
  34.  ???
  35.  ???
  36.  ???
  37.  ???
  38.  ???
  39.  Watch the launch of the Space Shuttle (I had VIP access to the launch of  Discovery on April 5, 2010, the last night launch. I may have cried. A lot.)
  40. Be an extra in a film.
  41.  ???
  42.  ???
  43.  ???
  44.  ???
  45.  ???
  46.  ???
  47.  Send a message in a bottle (and I got caught in a riptide and nearly died doing it. Someone in Fiji better find that damn bottle is all I’m saying.)
  48.  ???
  49.  ???
  50.  ???
  51.  ???
  52.  ???
  53.  Shower in a waterfall (May 30, 2011 in Cloudland Canyon, Georgia. So. Freaking. Cold. But my committment to the bucket list is unwavering!)
  54.  ???
  55.  ???
  56.  ???
  57.  ???
  58.  ???
  59.  ???
  60.  Visit the World Trade Center memorial. (October 4, 2015- Don’t look for a blog post about this any time soon. I was so overwhelmed I had to leave almost immediately.)
  61.  ???
  62.  ???
  63.  ???
  64.  ???
  65.  ???
  66.  ???
  67.  ???
  68.  Get a tattoo (Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check…)
  69.  ???
  70.  ???
  71.  ???
  72.  ???
  73.  ???
  74.  See a musical on Broadway.
  75.  ???
  76.  ???
  77.  ???
  78.  ???
  79.  Climb Mayan ruins.
  80.  ???
  81.  ???
  82.  ???
  83.  ???
  84.  Learn to ride a horse.
  85.  Live in a beach house (Damn, even early on there were duplicates on the list!)
  86.  ???
  87.  ???
  88.  ???
  89.  ???
  90.  ???
  91.  Sail down the Nile (May 2010, and I nearly died. Good times.)
  92.  ???
  93.  ???
  94.  ???
  95.  ???
  96.  ???
  97.  Visit Stonehenge
  98.  ???
  99.  ???
  100.  ???
  101.  Get a college degree
  102.  ???
  103.  Go to Disney World (see what a sheltered child I was? I was in my 20s before I could check this one off!)
  104.  ???
  105.  ???
  106.  ???
  107.  ???
  108.  ???
  109.  ???
  110.  ???
  111.  ???
  112.  ???
  113.  ???
  114.  Ride a cable car in San Francisco (October 18, 2009)
  115.  Visit Alcatraz (October 18, 2009- take the night tour!)
  116.  ???
  117.  ???
  118.  ???
  119.  ???
  120.  ???
  121.  ???
  122.  ???
  123.  ???
  124.  ???
  125.  Eat alligator (spoiler alert: it’s gross)
  126.  ???
  127.  ???
  128.  Explore a tropical rain forest (May 2010 Kibale Forest and Bwindi, Uganda)
  129.  ???
  130.  ???
  131.  Spend the night at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast
  132.  ???
  133.  ???
  134.  ???
  135.  ???
  136.  ???
  137.  ???
  138.  ???
  139.  ???
  140.  ???
  141.  ???
  142.  ???
  143.  ???
  144.  ???
  145.  ???
  146.  ???
  147.  ???
  148.  ???
  149.  ???
  150.  ???
  151.  ???
  152.  Watch silverback gorillas in the wild (May 2010 Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda- my #1, all time, most amazing travel experience ever)
  153.  ???
  154.  ???
  155.  ???
  156.  Visit Mt. Rushmore (September 2016)
  157.  Visit the Crazy Horse Monument (September 2016)
  158.  ???
  159.  Visit ancient Greek & Roman ruins ( March 2012, London; February & September 2013, Athens)
  160.  ???
  161.  ???
  162.  ???
  163.  ???
  164.  ???
  165.  ???
  166.  ???
  167.  Watch bald eagles in the wild
  168.  Eat cheesecake at Junior’s in Brooklyn (October 5, 2015)
  169.  ???
  170.  ???
  171.  ???
  172.  ???
  173.  ???
  174.  ???
  175.  ???
  176.  ???
  177.  Touch a whale (April 18, 2009)
  178.  ???
  179.  ???
  180.  ???
  181.  ???
  182.  ???
  183.  ???
  184.  ???
  185.  ???
  186.  ???
  187.  ???
  188.  ???
  189.  ???
  190.  ???
  191.  ???
  192.  ???
  193.  ???
  194.  ???
  195.  ???
  196.  ???
  197.  ???
  198.  ???
  199.  ???
  200.  ???
  201.  ???
  202.  ???
  203.  ???
  204.  See a herd of bison on the American plains (September 24, 2016 Custer State Park, South Dakota. Happy birthday to me!)
  205.  See the Rosetta Stone in the British Museum
  206.  ???
  207.  Eat beignets at the Cafe du Monde in New Orleans (too many times to count, but I never get tired of them!)
  208.  Hear wolves howl in the wild.
  209.  ???
  210.  ???
  211.  ???
  212.  ???
  213.  ???
  214.  ???
  215.  ???
  216.  ???
  217.  ???
  218.  ???
  219.  Visit The Hermitage, Home of Andrew Jackson (March 2017)
  220.  Walk the Enchanted Trail near Chattanooga, Tennessee
  221.  ???
  222.  ???
  223.  ???
  224.  Listen to jazz and blues in Memphis
  225.  ???
  226.  ???
  227.  ???
  228.  Buy a painting from a starving artist
  229.  ???
  230.  ???
  231.  ???
  232.  ???
  233.  ???
  234.  ???
  235.  Tour Magnolia Plantation in South Carolina
  236.  ???
  237.  ???
  238.  ???
  239.  ???
  240.  Take a carriage ride through St. Augustine
  241.  ???
  242.  ???
  243.  ???
  244.  Visit the Acropolis (February 14, 2013)
  245.  Hunt for antiques at the West London Fair
  246.  ???
  247.  ???
  248.  ???
  249.  Visit Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello (October 22, 2010)
  250.  ???
  251.  See the ancient bronze statue of the Delphic Charioteer in Greece (February and September 2013- once wasn’t enough! This thing is breathtaking)
  252.  ???
  253.  Eat cheesesteak in Philadelphia (July 3, 2015- Jim’s Steaks on South Street. Legendary.)
  254.  ???
  255.  ???
  256.  ???
  257.  ???
  258.  Have afternoon tea at the London Ritz.
  259.  ???
  260.  ???
  261.  ???
  262.  ???
  263.  ???
  264.  ???
  265.  Tour the Okefenokee swamp by boat (January 21, 2016)
  266.  ???
  267.  Walk the entire Freedom Trail to visit the landmarks of the American Revolution (September 17, 2010)
  268.  Explore a bat cave (May 23, 2011- Carlsbad Caverns)
  269.  Buy a book in San Francisco’s City Lights Bookstore (October 17, 2009- “American Chinatown” by Bonnie Tsui)
  270.  Visit all 54 African countries (OK I’m still working on this one- Uganda and Rwanda down, 52 to go!)
  271.  ???
  272.  ???
  273.  ???
  274.  ???
  275.  ???
  276.  ???
  277.  ???
  278.  See the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery
  279.  Travel the Road to Mandalay (March 2009)
  280.  ???
  281.  ???
  282.  ???
  283.  ???
  284.  ???
  285.  ???
  286.  ???
  287.  ???
  288.  ???
  289.  ???
  290.  ???
  291.  ???
  292.  ???
  293.  ???
  294.  ???
  295.  ???
  296.  ???
  297.  ???
  298.  ???
  299.  ???
  300.  ???
  301.  ???
  302.  ???
  303.  ???
  304.  Drive a tank! (June 25, 2010 in Kasota, Minnesota. This got me a mention on CNN Money, and was dope as hell.)
  305.  ???
  306.  ???
  307.  ???
  308.  ???
  309.  ???
  310.  ???
  311.  ???
  312.  ???
  313.  ???
  314.  ???
  315.  ???
  316.  ???
  317.  ???
  318.  ???
  319.  ???
  320.  ???
  321.  ???
  322.  ???
  323.  ???
  324.  ???
  325.  ???
  326.  ???
  327.  ???
  328.  ???
  329.  ???
  330.  ???
  331.  See a blue iguana in the wild (Mexico, Burma, and Uganda. Who knew there were so many of them?)
  332.  ???
  333.  ???
  334.  ???
  335.  ???
  336.  ???
  337.  ???
  338.  ???
  339.  ???
  340.  ???
  341.  ???
  342.  ???
  343.  ???
  344.  ???
  345.  ???
  346.  ???
  347.  ???
  348.  ???
  349.  ???
  350.  ???
  351.  ???
  352.  Hear Big Ben chime.
  353.  ???
  354.  ???
  355.  ???
  356.  ???
  357.  ???
  358.  ???
  359.  ???
  360.  Visit Gillette Castle in East Haddam, Connecticut (September 19, 2010)
  361.  ???
  362.  ???
  363.  ???
  364.  ???
  365.  ???
  366.  ???
  367.  ???
  368.  ???
  369.  Visit the grave of Benjamin Franklin in Christ Church Burial Ground, Philadelphia
  370.  Eat a 6″ sandwich at Primanti Brothers in Pittsburgh
  371.  ???
  372.  ???
  373.  Visit the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.
  374.  ???
  375.  ???
  376.  Search for gems at Crater of Diamonds, Murfreesboro, Arkansas (March 2017)
  377.  ???
  378.  Visit Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage in Nashville, Tennessee (March 2017)
  379.  Pizzeria Uno, Chicago (and why I get free pizza for life)
  380.  ???
  381.  ???
  382.  ???
  383.  ???
  384.  Little Bighorn Battlefield, Montana (September 23, 2016)
  385.  ???
  386.  ???
  387.  Explore Badlands National Park, South Dakota (September 25, 2016)
  388.  Mt. Rushmore & the Crazy Horse Monument (oops, another duplicate. It happens!)
  389.  ???
  390.  Buy a souvenir magnet at Wall Drug in Wall, SD (September 25, 2016)
  391.  ???
  392.  Hear a concert at Denver’s Red Rocks Amphitheater (September 26, 2016)
  393.  Explore Carlsbad Caverns in Carlsbad, New Mexico (May 23, 2011)
  394.  ???
  395.  ???
  396.  Find the best Chinese food in San Francisco’s Chinatown (October 17, 2009- City View Dim Sum was my final choice!)
  397.  ???
  398.  ???
  399.  ???
  400.  ???
  401.  Watch orcas off the coast of British Columbia (July 4, 2016- second only to seeing wild mountain gorillas in Uganda on the Highlights of My Life list!)
  402.  ???
  403.  ???
  404.  ???
  405.  ???
  406.  ???
  407.  ???
  408.  ???
  409.  ???
  410.  ???
  411.  Stand on the Equator (May 2010, Uganda)
  412.  ???
  413.  ???
  414.  Ride in a helicopter (September 18, 2010- Boston)
  415.  Visit Gettysburg (October 23, 2010)
  416.  ???
  417.  ???
  418.  ???
  419.  ???
  420.  ???
  421.  ???
  422.  ???
  423.  ???
  424.  ???
  425.  ???
  426.  ???
  427.  ???
  428.  ???
  429.  ???
  430.  ???
  431.  ???
  432.  ???
  433.  ???
  434.  ???
  435.  ???
  436.  ???
  437.  ???
  438.  ???
  439.  ???
  440.  ???
  441.  ???
  442.  ???
  443.  ???
  444.  ???
  445.  ???
  446.  ???
  447.  ???
  448.  ???
  449.  ???
  450.  ???
  451.  ???
  452.  ???
  453.  ???
  454.  ???
  455.  ???
  456.  ???
  457.  ???
  458.  ???
  459.  ???
  460.  ???
  461.  ???
  462.  ???
  463.  ???
  464.  ???
  465.  ???
  466.  ???
  467.  ???
  468.  ???
  469.  ???
  470.  ???
  471.  ???
  472.  ???
  473.  ???
  474.  ???
  475.  Explore ancient temples in Indonesia
  476.  ???
  477.  ???
  478.  ???
  479.  ???
  480.  ???
  481.  ???
  482.  ???
  483.  ???
  484.  ???
  485.  ???
  486.  ???
  487.  ???
  488.  ???
  489.  ???
  490.  ???
  491.  ???
  492.  ???
  493.  ???
  494.  ???
  495.  ???
  496.  ???
  497.  ???
  498.  ???
  499.  ???
  500.  ???
  501.  ???
  502.  ???
  503.  ???
  504.  ???
  505.  ???
  506.  ???
  507.  ???
  508.  ???
  509.  ???
  510.  ???
  511.  ???
  512.  ???
  513.  ???
  514.  ???
  515.  ???
  516.  ???
  517.  ???
  518.  ???
  519.  ???
  520.  ???
  521.  ???
  522.  ???
  523.  ???
  524.  ???
  525.  ???
  526.  ???
  527.  ???
  528.  ???
  529.  Ride the St. Kitts Scenic Railway
  530.  ???
  531.  ???
  532.  ???
  533.  ???
  534.  ???
  535.  ???
  536.  ???
  537.  ???
  538.  ???
  539.  ???
  540.  ???
  541.  ???
  542.  ???
  543.  ???
  544.  ???
  545.  ???
  546.  ???
  547.  ???
  548.  ???
  549.  ???
  550.  ???
  551.  ???
  552.  ???
  553.  ???
  554.  ???
  555.  ???
  556.  ???
  557.  ???
  558.  ???
  559.  ???
  560.  ???
  561.  ???
  562.  ???
  563.  ???
  564.  ???
  565.  ???
  566.  ???
  567.  ???
  568.  Go back to Greece (sometimes I love a country so much I put it back on the list even after I’ve been there. Sue me.)
  569.  ???
  570.  Visit the tomb of St. Luke in Thiva, Greece
  571.  ???
  572.  ???
  573.  Visit Thessaloniki
  574.  ???
  575.  ???
  576.  ???
  577.  ???
  578.  ???
  579.  ???
  580.  ???
  581.  ???
  582.  ???
  583.  Borobudur Temple Compound, Indonesia
  584.  ???
  585.  ???
  586.  ???
  587.  ???
  588.  ???
  589.  ???
  590.  ???
  591.  ???
  592.  ???
  593.  ???
  594.  ???
  595.  Explore Gilmerton Cove, a series of underground passageways beneath Edinburgh (November 13, 2015)
  596.  Take Murphy Ann to visit her ancestral homeland at Mount Vernon (March 2017)
  597.  ???
  598.  ???
  599.  Marry Eric (December 31, 2015) Oops. Live and learn!
  600.  ???
  601.  ???
  602.  ???
  603.  ???
  604.  ???
  605.  ???
  606.  ???
  607.  ???
  608.  ???
  609.  ???
  610.  ???

 

So there you have it- everything I’ve checked off my bucket list so far. Next up on the list? #542- explore ancient temples in Sri Lanka. Stay tuned!