I went to Dollywood! I haven’t until now, however, posted the pictures or stories from this adventure. The good news: I just came across all of the images and videos from that trip. The bad news: I can’t remember most of the stories of what was going on at that time.
What I do remember, however, is that my friend Colee came to visit me while I still lived in Kentucky, and we went on a road trip down to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. On the way down, we listened to a lot of Dolly Parton’s music, and we stopped for a night at my friend Heather’s house.
Dollywood was a blast, and I would love to go back again! On the way home, we went Zorbing, and then we stopped by Mammoth Cave to explore. It was a really fun trip and an amazing visit with my dear friend, Colee!
I have finally put all these videos together, if you’d like to take a look. The first one is our trip down to Dollywood, and the second one is our trip back up to my home in Kentucky. I hope you enjoy!
It is so good to be back in Edinburgh! What a wonderful city this is! Even though this will be my last stop of Scotland 7, this is far from over. There are tons that I want to do here, and I’m hoping to even get some day trips out of the city- but you’ll have to check back to see what happens.
I first need to give a shout-out to my friend Robyn. I said something in the last video that seemed to have shaken her to her very core. I believe it was, “…and I don’t even like Harry Potter.” I guess I should explain myself if I am going to make such bold statements.
When I watch any kind of fantasy film, I need structure. I need rules and some sort of discipline. Every time the characters in the Harry Potter series are in a bind, they come up with a new power or a new spell. Here’s my point: If you had a quidditch broomstick, why on earth would you not carry that with you everywhere you went? There are so many problems that you could avoid if you kept that handy.
If you had an invisibility cloak, why on earth wouldn’t you carry the thing everywhere with you? How often would that have come in handy throughout the series? A flying car? It might be a good idea to keep that ready, especially because for some odd reason, YOU DECIDED TO NOT BRING YOUR FLYING BROOMSTICK WITH YOU.
And then Hermione gets that locket that allows her to go back in time? Are you freakin’ kidding me? That was probably the last straw for me. Yes, I saw the rest of the movies, and recently I even added them to my movie collection, but still!
I know I should just accept it for what it is- entertainment. I mean, how cool would it be to have magical powers? I should stop being so picky, but every single time I watch it, I’m always saying things like, “Oh- too bad you didn’t bring your $#@& flying broomstick with you!” Then I get mad and look for a pillow to throw at the screen.
Ok, now that my rant is over, we can return to your regularly scheduled blog entry. And in this portion, I just want to give a shoutout to Colee, Zuka, Dave, Dominoe, Julie, and Makaylee. I was with you guys the first time I ever came to the United Kingdom! See what you did? Here’s another video:
Here’s a little #ThrowbackMonday for you. Yes, I know the official hashtag should be #ThrowbackThursday, but today is Monday, and since this happened exactly seven years ago today, I wanted to post it now. Here’s the story: My buddy Dan asked me if I wanted to go skydiving with him for his birthday. It just so happens that this was the very first thing I’d written down when I was brainstorming on setting up my own bucket list. I had wanted to do this for as long as I can remember.
Dan, myself, and some of his BYU classmates met at the skydiving facility in Ogden, Utah. Before you can jump, you have to go through a little training/lesson. As I was learning how to properly jump out of a plane, I wondered how many times someone had chickened out while learning this. I probably would have also wussed out, if Dan hadn’t been there to peer pressure me.
Years ago I posted the video of this skydive on my blog, but when I was going through some stuff this morning, I realized that I hadn’t yet re-posted to this new blog. I was going through my videos and also realized that I never actually posted the footage that leads up to the jump. So, for the first time ever, here is the whole experience.
Jamaica: The bed here is so comfortable! I was mentally checked out last night by about 20:00. I slept all through the night until about 06:00 and then got up, showered, and ventured out to find something for breakfast. I met Roseann, my host, on my way out the door and asked if she could point me in the right direction for breakfast. Something local that isn’t part of a chain.
The restaurant she suggested wasn’t open yet, so I walked down the street until I came to one called Tru Jerk & Soul. I asked the lady behind the counter if they had anything for breakfast. She turned around and started lifting the lids on a bunch of pans. This was not a traditional breakfast food in the western sense- no eggs, bacon, pancakes, or anything like that. She told me that the food was authentic Jamaican. She gave me a plate with white fish, potatoes, some greens, and okra. It would call it southern style, but nothing was fried. It was very delicious! She made me a to-go plate, but I ate it all there.
After breakfast, I walked around for a while, wondering what there was to see and do. I consulted the internet, and it didn’t offer much help. I saw a park, a few churches, some more restaurants, but that’s all there was. I did come across a grade school, just as all the kids were making their way inside. The students wore uniforms, and as much as I wanted to take some pictures, I didn’t want to be the creepy guy who is by himself, taking pictures of the little kids. They were cute as hell, though. Instead, I headed back to the house to prepare for whatever was next.
The house was shaking because they’re doing construction nearby. I noticed on the map that it’s about a 3-mile trek to the nearest train station. I plan on walking there, to avoid having to stand around waiting for any busses. I need to get an early start toward Manhattan. Wicked tonight!
My walk to the rail station was just over 3 miles! I could have called for a Lyft, but the more I walk, the more money I can save since this entire trip will be on a credit card (thanks to a $1400 mistake by my bank)- the less I swipe my card, the better.
When I stepped off of the subway in Manhattan, it was only a few blocks walk before I came upon a street that had been blocked off by the police. This was the yearly San Gerrano Festival. I had no idea that I would find this, but there was every kind of street vendor imaginable. All the fried food a guy could ask for in life, games with prizes, and all the restaurants had set up select dining areas out on the street itself. It was awesome!
The Feast of San Gennaro (Festa di San Gennaro) is an Italian-American festival. Originally a one-day religious commemoration, the festival was first celebrated in the United States in September 1926, when immigrants from Naples congregated along Mulberry Street in the Little Italy section of Manhattan in New York City to continue the tradition they had followed in Italy to celebrate Saint Januarius, the Patron Saint of Naples. His feast day is September 19 in the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church.
I grabbed lunch at a restaurant called Paesano. I wasn’t craving Italian food, but I had to pee like a racehorse, and I saw a sign that read: RESTROOM IS FOR CUSTOMER USE ONLY. At that point, it didn’t matter what kind of food they were serving. I was going to eat something so that I could use the facilities. The food was good!
I made my way to the SoHo Apple Store for a few minutes. I was hoping they’d have the iPhone X on display, but the guy in front told me that they wouldn’t get any until we can preorder them. I’m going to have to wait, in other words. I’m not sure if I’m going to order one or not. Yes, I’d love one, but there’s nothing wrong with my iPhone 7. If I do get one, I’ll pay for it by working extra trips, so I don’t have to spend any of my savings or go into any debt for it. I’m a responsible adult, after all (yeah, right).
I walked further south and then ended up coming north to Washington Square Park. That was a great place to sit and rest for a while. There were thousands of people in the square. It was mad! Many people love to be in the city, but I think they need these parks to keep their sanity.
I walked north until I got to Time’s Square. This is the place to go if you ever want to people-watch. Every kind of person is here, including this man whose name is Jason Hunter. This is his song/art piece called Ignore. It’s was catchy, albeit annoying. You can Google the words ‘Jason Hunter Ignore,’ and this same song comes up on YouTube. It seems as if he’s been pushing this same art piece for a while now.
Finally, it was time to make my way to The Gershwin Theatre and see Wicked. My seat was next to a girl who was visiting from Pahrump, Nevada. She told me she is in town for a continuing education seminar, something to do with nursing. She’s traveling by herself and says this is her first time in New York City.
This cast of Wicked is probably the best cast I’ve ever seen! The girl playing Elphaba had an incredible range, and she did some things with the high notes that I’d never heard before. This is my fourth time seeing this musical, and every time it just gets better! The first time was with Colee when she came to visit, the second time with LaDawn, the third time was when the traveling company came to Louisville, and I went with friends Ashly and Tammy.
Every time I see this play, it just gets better! There were even moments when I got goosebumps or a little bit teary-eyed. I know the storyline, and I know what’s coming, but this cast did so well, I was in constant chills!
I grabbed a Lyft outside when the play was over and rode back to Jamaica. This was a long ride and one that cost me about $60! So much for saving money- I only did this because I wanted to get back faster. I’m not sure how late the subway runs, but I knew that even if I rode back that way to Jamaica Station, I’d still be getting a ride for that last 3 miles.
I love my life so much and so I often I feel guilty that I need a vacation. I guess need is a harsh word. I want a vacation, that is. I would like a brief escape from my everyday, where I won’t have to set an alarm in the morning. I thought that it was time to check off another item on my bucket list. I’ve always wanted to spend a week in New York City, as I first mentioned here on December 10th. (Link: https://davsaddiction.wordpress.com/2015/12/10/2189/) As of today, this dream is becoming a reality.
Years ago, I went to New York City for 4 or 5 delays with my friend Colee and her friend Amy. Even though that’s close to a week, I haven’t checked off bucket list item #72. This is because it wasn’t a full week in the city and because we actually stayed on the New Jersey side, taking the Weehawken ferry over each morning.
I arrived at the airport way too early! That’s the thing- if I’m going somewhere that is fun or exciting, I don’t sleep very well. I woke up at 04:00 and after 45 minutes of laying there, I decided it was time to get up and get ready. My flight doesn’t even leave until 10:20. I remember the same thing happened last year when I was going to Scotland. My body woke up so early, long before the sun even came out. My flight wasn’t leaving until about way late in the afternoon but I want to get to the airport. I remember Dawn having to tell me to relax and go back to sleep. There is no way I’d be able to fall back to sleep! Why even try?
I’m having trouble staying awake in the airport. After I get my boarding pass, in another 38 minutes, my mission is clear: Find a Pepsi.
DEN > LGA | 10:54
My seat is 27 C. The girl in 27 A told me that she is an art student on a class trip. There are about 20 students in their group, and they’re going to spend a week in New York City where they will go to different galleries. She told me that she is excited, but a bit nervous about getting around in the city. I told her not to worry and that it’s very easy.
The guy in seat 27 B is a Yogi and he’s making his way to London where he is going to attend University for the next 18 months, this will be his first time flying internationally and he’s also excited. London is wonderful, and he’s going to love it! I’d like to get back there someday. I’m somewhat jealous. At the moment, he’s sitting cross-legged doing some kind of meditation. At least he doesn’t smell like he hasn’t showered. I sometimes worry when the person next to me has dreadlocks. It’s my understanding that you can’t really wash your hair with dreads. Yes or No? Who knows?
I’m watching Lara Croft: Tomb Raider on my iPad. I don’t think Angelina Jolie does a very good job with the Lara Croft character. I’m scratching my head wondering what caused me to purchase this movie in the first place. It must have been on sale for like $4.99 or something on the iTunes store. Perhaps I bought it because Daniel Craig is in it. That’s very likely- he’s a great actor!
Jamaica, New York | 18:42
I finally made it to New York City! After a 50 minutes Lyft ride (that only cost about $32), I’m happy to have found the first Airbnb. The neighborhood is very cozy and homely. It seems rather safe. My studio apartment sits above the family home. It’s small, but more than I need. I will post more tomorrow. It’s early still but I’m extremely exhausted!
Another steeple, as I am walking to the train station in Aberdeen,
I checked out of the hostel in Aberdeen just after 06:30 to get to an early train. I found breakfast at the train station: The Pumpkin Cafe. A breakfast sandwich that had been sitting in a cooler. I could taste that it hadn’t been made in the last 2 or 3 days. A danish with chocolate chunks and a bottle of Ribena washed it all down. If I recall, Ribena was one of my friend Colee’s favorite parts of the United Kingdom when we visited years ago (this trip was my very first visit, back in 2002).
I just passed through the town of Keith. I have dear friends who told me they are coming to Keith sometime soon. My advice to them is to bring your own entertainment- Keith looks like a very small village, at least that’s my perspective from a train passing through.
Fort Augustus Hostel | 18:19
Once I arrived in Inverness, I walked down the street a few blocks to the bus station where I purchased the fare to Fort Augustus, yet another destination I’ve never been to. I have to admit that I was a bit nervous at what it’d be like, the bus driver kept referring to it as “Fort Disgust-us”.
The road from Inverness to Fort Augustus follows Loch Ness.
Thankfully, Fort Augustus is anything but disgusting. I actually love this small town on the beautiful Loch Ness. Before you ask, yes I have seen Nessie earlier today. We hung out.
Fun fact: The guy who served me my fish n’ chips at lunch looks just like Jared from Subway. That is to say, child-molester Jared from maximum security. It was a bit freaky. Picture Jared but with a Scottish accent.
The hostel is a pretty big house, and there seems to be a large group of students staying here who are very loud. I may be forced to hurt somebody. I have three other guys in my room, all of them are staying here long term and working in the town. In my mind, they would have much better options if they moved to one of the cities instead. But what do I know?
I wish I had a picture of you to include in this letter. You’re in a drawer or a box somewhere, but when I come across you, I will be sure to scan you and update this entry. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for having been a wonderful part of my life. You first came to me back in 2007, when one of my best friends, Marcus, and I auditioned, and were ultimately selected to spend an autumn and winter in Taiwan, singing and entertaining tourists at an American-themed amusement park.
I remember the park directors coming to Eastern Arizona College to hold the auditions and asking us if we knew how to rollerblade (for you see, roller-blading Santa Clauses were all the rage in Taiwan back then, and that was part of the gig). I answered, ‘Yes’, but at the time I had never even put on a pair of rollerblades. It’s true I lied, but it got me the job (well, that and all my other awesome talents). How hard can roller-blading be? I remember being sad when I learned that the amusement park had gone bankrupt and this particular adventure was canceled. I now had you, my first passport. At that time, however, I had no place to go.
The first time I actually got to use you was after I’d moved up to Logan, Utah and was attending classes at Utah State University. This was the trip when my roommates James (a family member and another bestie), Paul, and Matt got together with our neighbors, Christy (Paul’s sister) and Marie and drove up to go camping at Banff National Park in Canada. I was disappointed that the Canadian border patrol didn’t stamp you. This trip, however, gave me a taste for the beautiful north and left me hungry, wanting more.
James had told me how awesome his trip Germany had been and then I got to meet Stefan, a boy from Germany who had once lived with James’ family as part of a foreign exchange student program. Stefan was so kind and told us we should plan a visit to visit his home. One night I was surfing the net, and what started out as simply checking how much it would cost to fly to western Europe, suddenly turned into purchasing two non-refundable, roundtrip tickets from Los Angeles to Paris.
That was an amazing adventure (and another excuse to use you, my first passport). As you no doubt remember, our roommate Jason joined us for that incredible trip! By this point, the love of travel was fast becoming part of my D.N.A. That seed had been planted and I desperately hoped to nourish it.
I used you when another James (a.k.a Zuka), Dave, Dave’s friend Jessica and another roommate, Jeremy, went on a road trip to see Dave’s parents’ who were serving as LDS mission presidents in Monterrey, Mexico. This was yet another trip where you weren’t stamped. If border patrol agents would only stamp you, this world would be a happier place!
I used you, yet again when I went with some dear friends to the United Kingdom in 2002. This was the trip with my dear friends’ James (Zuka), Julie, Colee, Dave, Dominoe and Makaylee. We spend just over a week visiting this land of some of my [and some of their] forefathers. Finally, another stamp! A few years later, you would be well used when I’d become a flight attendant. Even though at the time, the airline was only domestic flights, you came in quite handy for all of those T.S.A. lines and security checks.
I miss you and hope you show up one of these days! I am blessed that you helped me to discover this love I now possess.
Dear Second Passport,
I apologize that you got so worn out! A few of your security features had even started to fade, resulting in additional questioning- but wow! We’ve had a blast! You have taken me back to the United Kingdom on a few different vacation trips, in and out of Iceland, you’ve allowed me to spend two amazing weeks in Ireland, in and out of Mexico and Canada a few times, all over the United States and even let me spend five weeks exploring some of western and southern Australia, in part to visit my dear friends, Arron and Brendan! I already had this growing love of travel, but with you, I really learned how to travel. I’m grateful to have known you!
Dear Third Passport,
Since you just arrived in my mailbox this past week, I really haven’t gotten to know you yet, but am looking forward to the opportunity. Now, If you’ll go over and take a look at my bucket list, you’ll agree that this is going to be a blast! I look forward to using you at the end of this month on our first adventure together! I even had them add extra pages to you!
Last night I had a great time getting together with some of my dear friends from my Utah State University days. This was the group who I went with to the United Kingdom for the very first time, back in 2002. These are the people who I blame for this stupid obsession that I have with Scotland. We needed to get together, have some ice cream, and reminisce about the old days. We called this our London Reunion.
We met at the Leatherby’s on 5400 South. When I arrived, Colee was there with her husband Jonathan, and James had brought his son Luke (James’ wife Heather was feeling under-the-weather so she was at home with their youngest). We chatted for about 10 minutes until Dave and Dominoe arrived as well. Missing from the original London group was Makaylee and Julie. It’s sad when real life happens. We wished that everyone could have attended.
We didn’t really talk a whole lot about London. We did share a few memories, including James’ attempt to navigate causing us to end up on the wrong coast of Scotland. At first, he denied that it was his fault, but we pretty much ganged up on him. My memory of this experience is falling asleep in the van and waking up to David telling us that we had been headed in the wrong direction.
We talked for about 45 minutes to an hour and it dawned on me that I hadn’t actually seen Dave and Dominoe for over 7 years (apart from Facebook)! This is horrible! I need to be a better friend! To remedy this, it was suggested by myself that we try to get together once a month, but they all argued that once ever three months would work better- since many of them have kids and lives and schedules and stuff to do. So hopefully we can get something set up in December, and if we’re lucky, maybe we can get Makaylee and Julie in attendance!
It’s time for some family history! I don’t remember if I told you in the past, but one of the reasons that I’m obsessed with Scotland is that this is one of the places where my ancestors are from. I grew up in a family that is very much into genealogy and knowing where we came from. My dream of seeing Scotland with my own eyes finally came true in December of 2002 when my friends David Hammond, Dominoe Reed, James Jenkins, Nicole Hayes, Makaylee Jensen, Julie Linton and myself went on a little vacation to the United Kingdom.
Years later, these are the memories that I still hold from this trip:
Staying at the Amsterdam Hotel in London, not too far from Hyde Park
Eating my first “proper” fish & chips
Visiting the mission home (Dave had recently returned home from serving in London as a full-time missionary.
Eating a battered Mars Bar at the Maid Miriam Cafe’ in Nottingham (close to the statue of Robin Hood)
Seeing Westminster Abbey and Big Ben for the first time
Learning that Tower Bridge is not London Bridge and that the original London Bridge had been sold so some guy in Arizona
Strutting down the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Walk
Seeing the Tower of London and the Queen Jewels
Since there were seven of us, and we were in the U.K. for seven days, each of us chose what we wanted to do for the day. I remember Julie’s day was going to see Wimbledon since she is very much into playing tennis. On James’ day, we took the rental car down to Wales, since that’s one of the places where his ancestors came from. I remember going to Stonehenge on somebody’s day and trying to figure out how those people lifted those heavy stones, so many years ago.
On my day, we drove the rental car up to Scotland and stood on the bank of Loch Lomond, and this was where Dave and I even sang the song, Loch Lomond.
On my dad’s side of the family, I have a lot of the surname Wallace. I thought it would be cool if I could find some link to William Wallace (of Braveheart fame). Sadly, there’s no record of William Wallace ever having children. Odds are he had illegitimate offspring, though. Back then, a favorite past time for the young men was to shag any girl who would let you (or didn’t necessarily let you).
On my mother’s side of the family, I have always been told that the surname Lee comes from Ireland. Sure enough, I followed their chart into Ireland as far as I could. I soon discovered that before Ireland, many of them also came over from Scotland (just like my dad’s side of the family). If the records I’ve seen are correct, I have links to royalty (James II of Scotland and Robert the Bruce), it is quite possible that my dad’s ancestors actually paid taxes to my mom’s ancestors!
I have found a line that links me to kings’ of England, Scotland, France, Prussia, and Wessex!