Thursday, April 28, 2016

Angry Tunes: A Playlist by Erin and Jana

I, Erin, shared Kristen's post about angry music in my most recent share of Blogger LoveJana and Erin consulted and agreed to steal be inspired by Kristen's post.  We will give you our own version of a collection of "Angry Tunes". 
Warning:  if you don't like explicit lyrics, this isn't the playlist or blog post for you.

1.  Break Stuff by Limp Bizkit - Judge all you want because of the band; this is a song that is a go-to for both of us when we want to listen to angry tunes.

2.  Face to Face by Sevendust - A song that calls someone a "fuck stick", a "motherfucker", and a "prick" is an angry song for us.

3.  Sick by Adelitas Way - This song is all about being "sick" in the head and "sick" of a lot of other shit too.

4.  Scum of the Earth by Rob Zombie - The title tells you enough, doesn't it?

5.  Killing in the Name by Rage Against the Machine - The song ends with "Fuck you! I won't do what you tell me!" about 20 times.  No exaggeration.  That alone is enough to make our list.

6.  Walk by Pantera - "Fun" fact from Erin: Pantera in Texas is the one and only concert that I got out of the pit because I thought there was a reasonably high possibility I could die.  A lot of anger was expressed at a Pantera show, folks.

7.  Mother Mother by Tracy Bonham - No real reason for this one except the screaming is cathartic.

8.  Down with the Sickness by Disturbed - A superb song that talks about demons, sickness, and madness inside of us.

9.  You Call Me a Bitch Like It's a Bad Thing by Halestorm - Enough said.

10.  One Step Closer by Linkin Park - Shout it with me: "Shut up when I'm talking to you!"

11.  Headstrong by Trapt - The chorus includes a "fun" to sing lyric "Back off I’ll take you on; Headstrong to take on anyone".

12.  Here to Die by Five Finger Death Punch - Opening lyrics: "This wasn't meant to be a love song, Matter fact this one's about hate"; he growls a little more than preferred but breaks into beautiful melodic sounds soon enough. 

Tell us your favorite go-to angry tune.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Confessions of a book challenge junkie

I've confessed several times before that I'm a little bit of a book challenge junkie.  I don't think I commit myself to too many.  I think I give myself room to read books that have nothing to do with a challenge.  I like the challenges, and I feel that I tailor them to suit me and my reading habits.

I confess to the following reasons that book challenges work for me:
  1. Goodreads.  I love goodreads.  I love looking at books I plan to read and scavenging for even more books.  I look at goodreads lists, recommendations, books that my goodreads "friends" are reading, and more.
  2. The lists.  Oh, how I love the lists.  I love matching books to categories presented from book challenges.  I love to match them with books already on my tbr, and sometimes, I enjoy it even more when I have to search for a book to match a particular category.
  3. The planning.  To be honest, the planning is part of the list-making, but I enjoy that activity so much, it's getting another mention.  I'm a freak when it comes to the planning.  For instance, I have a challenge coming up in June to read from my book shelf at home.  I've already sub-categorized books into historical fiction, YA, non-fiction, memoirs, contemporary fiction, and thriller and am planning to spread my choices over the sub-categories.  I confessed that I'm a freak.
  4. If my preliminary lists/plan changes, so be it.  I don't fret.  I try to stick to my original list, but it doesn't always happen, and I'm flexible.
  5. Stretching my horizons.  Stepping out of my comfort zone.  Reading a book (and thoroughly enjoying it) that would most likely have never been on my radar if it wasn't for a book challenge.
  6. Interacting with other book lovers and challenge participants.  I have participated in previous challenges that gave little to no interaction.  I didn't last long with most of those.  I find that I enjoy the "book talk" with other challenge participants so much that gives me fuel to keep reading. 
  7. If I don't finish the challenge, I don't feel like a failure.  It's really no big deal to me.
  8. That being said, I do try to finish most challenges I participate in, and I do feel a sense of accomplishment when I do it.
  9. I pick challenges that work for me.  In #3, I said that I enjoyed stepping out of my comfort zone.  Well, if I'm gonna confess the whole truth, this isn't always the case.  I'm not going to sign up for a "classics" book challenge.  I'm not much of a reader or fan of "classics".  I may read one or two a year, so I'm not going to join that challenge because it just doesn't interest me enough.
  10. Book challenges are just another way to encourage my reading habits.  They are an encouragement to me...that is something positive...if they felt like "work" or a "chore", then challenges wouldn't suit me.

I confess that I actively participate in the following book challenges:
  • Book Challenge by Erin - Duh.  I host it.  It is winding up its fourth installment, and it has grown every challenge.  A new one begins the 1st of July (categories to be announced the 1st of June).
  • Aussie Authors Challenge (latest post linked) - This has been a superb way for me to introduce myself to some of Australia's homegrown literary talent.
  • Around the World in 80 Books - Through bloggers and link-ups and goodreads, I found out about this challenge.  I'd already enjoyed reading books set in different countries and learning about cultures through those stories.  It was like this challenge was made for me.
  • Read My Books Challenge - hosted by Dani & ME (again!) - Coming soon this June!  Join us in a challenge to read from the pile of books (ebooks, audiobooks) that you already own and are waiting to be read.
  • Semi-Charmed Kind of Life's book challenges - I've been a regular participant in Megan's challenges.  Her summer list will be posted May 15th.
Do you participate in book challenges?  What do you like/dislike about them?

Wednesday link-up with Nadine & Kathy 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Aussie Author Challenge: Book Seven

Have you ever wondered who else held your library book? What if it was a historical, ancient textbook? Who tore that one page?  Or stained the other?  Or left a bookmark in it?  Fascinating theme for a story, but if I'm honest, this book took a lot of work to get through it all.

An Australian woman who is a book conservationist has the task of examining and attempting to trace the history of an ancient Jewish text that has survived through the Crusades, the Inquisition, WWII, and more...historical times that such books were victims of censorship, burned and destroyed.  Different chapters examine the book's survival through such times and important players surrounding the life of the book. 

Again, fascinating concept.  Sadly, it didn't work for me.  As I ask myself "why?", I think I never connected to really any of the characters of the story.  One character's story engaged me more than others, but there were so many that didn't, I was left disappointed. 

A lot of readers on goodreads thought highly of this book. Another blogger and book lover enjoyed this book immensely as well.  Maybe I'm just not as smart as them. If a book feels like I'm laboring while I'm reading it, then that book isn't going to be my favorite.

I read Year of Wonders by this same author.  That book, I expected it to be work to get through, and it wasn't.  I enjoyed it much more.  She has other works that interest me as well, so I'm not giving up on Geraldine Brooks.

It's the 7th year for the Aussie Author Challenge, and my 2nd year participating (click on the picture/link to take you directly to the site for more information).  My working book list is as follows:

Female Authors:

Male Authors:

Authors New to Me:

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday's Seven Snapshots vol.70

This is called a "Cookie Monster" donut.  After I took the first bite, I thought another appropriate name was "Gone in 60 Seconds".

This is a reading room connected to Sydney's Customs House library.  I spent some time here Friday afternoon while dodging a quick rainstorm. the above reading room

No filter needed for the colors of this Sydney sky

Last year, I told you about a group of graduates from my university that get together to celebrate Aggie Muster...well, here we are again.  I love being a part of a university that gets together in faraway places around the world, but we still feel like friends and family.

My guy and I visited a local farmer's market this weekend, and I got myself some spicy BBQ sauce. 

I live in the 'burbs.  There's this cute little quaint town near us that has a main street filled with an eclectic mix of shops, cafés, pubs, an old post office (still in service), with a close library and churches.  I've previously noticed a sign for a place called "Upstairs at Eric's Fred's".  (I originally said "Eric's" but that was a Yaz album - ha!)  We saw it advertising all day breakfast, and my guy was game for that.  We stumbled into this AMAZING funky, eccentric, wonderful place!  We enjoyed our meal on their outside terrace, but we will be back for tapas and drinks one night very, very soon.

Friday, April 22, 2016

10 Things That Made Me Happy

Friday Link Up Hosts: Krysten @ Why Girls Are Weird, Lindsay @ The Flynnigans and Charlotte @ My Pixie Blog

I am WAY overdue for this link-up.  I love the concept.  I used to participate somewhat regularly.  Then, I dropped the ball and never picked it back up.  Well, here I am again to share 10 Things That Made Me Happy This Week.
  1. Blogger love, support, and encouragement after some personal posts about some uncomfortable topics
  2. Even more support, encouragement, and assistance from a former high school teacher of mine and another close friend: I submitted a "letter to the editor"; first time for that; and without their help or support, I wouldn't have been brave enough to do it.  Now...let's see if it gets published.
  3. Blogger buddy surprise gift: This is not my regular choice of book, but after so many raving reviews, I was ready to put myself on the waitlist at the library for this one...only to discover Sydney didn't have it! I vented to Kristen at See You in a Porridge (a former Sydneysider and The Royal We lover). Lo and behold, look what arrived the very next week!
  4. Calling the husband in tears over something rather insignificant, and him taking the time to talk to me until I calmed down and was feeling better (and not making me feel silly about it.)
  5. My mother and I conversing with Viber "stickers"
  6. My aunt sending me a random "thinking of you ~ I love you" message while she was cutting green (spring) onions; random/weird fact about me: I could eat a whole bunch of green onions dipped in green goddess salad dressing in one sitting.  My breath may stank, but I'd luurrve it.
  7. I host a book challenge through a facebook group (Book Challenge by Erin); as my fourth installment of this challenge is drawing to a close, I have the most people to ever complete the challenge!  Hooray for books!
  8. Speaking of books, I'm co-hosting another bookish challenge in June, and we are getting some enthusiastic responses already!  If you're a booklover, take a look at our: Read My Books challenge.
  9. A cookie monster donut from Doughnut Time
  10. No, his loss didn't make me happy...but I have many happy memories of Mr. Prince Rogers Nelson; I made my university dance team performing to a medley of Prince songs including "Baby I'm a Star", slow dancing in junior high to "Purple Rain" with a boy that I had a major crush on, dancing at my mom's 60th birthday party with my female family members to "Kiss", learning more about sex from "Gett Off", "Pussy Control", and "Darling Nikki" than any sex ed class taught me, dancing in the aisles at a concert in Houston where black, white, brown, yellow, it just didn't matter, watching the greatest Super Bowl halftime performance that has ever been seen...and more. 
    Rest in Peace Your Purple Highness

Tell me, what are some things that made you happy this week?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Real Confession

Yesterday, I had some serious talk for you.  Today, I've got a real confession.  Both topics are important discussions with me spilling some extremely personal details.  I promise that I will return to gifs, books, hashtags, and randomness soon enough.

A few years ago, I explored the possibility that I was an alcoholic.

Why did I do that?  Because I recognized the following:
  • I drank to avoid and hide from reality and feelings
  • I drank excessively
  • I binge drank
  • I drank to the point of vomiting regularly
  • Black outs were becoming more and more frequent
  • I acted and behaved in shameful ways when I drank
  • Because of black outs, I wouldn't remember some of those actions
  • A few times, drinking interfered with work responsibilities
  • I was no longer fun and entertaining when I drank; I was mean and obnoxious
  • I put myself in dangerous situations
  • I put others in dangerous situations (ex: I drove more often than I care to admit when I had no business driving; this is not something I take lightly; I'm just trying to be honest.)
  • I drank excessively alone, not just in social settings
  • I was depressed, and I was adding a depressant
The above mentioned behaviour patterns occurred over a 15 year timespan, from the ages of 21 to 36.  Some were a regular part of my drinking habits the entire 15 years; others were just at certain times of my life.  All occurred multiple times, some of them regularly and frequently enough for me to admit that I needed something to change.  I wasn't just having "fun" anymore.  It was a problem.

I went dry for 6(ish) months.  During that time, I was seeing a therapist, I read books, and I went to AA meetings for about 3 months.  Through this personal journey, I learned that I was abusing alcohol like a drug.  Just because it is legal, does not mean the way I was using it was appropriate or acceptable.  I made changes in my life with the way that I viewed the use of alcohol, plus the amount and the frequency I drank.

I drink now from time to time in social settings.  I go dancing with girlfriends, have drinks, and let loose.  Or, I enjoy a few ciders with a BBQ.  Every now and then, I enjoy a drink or two at home to wind down.  But, I skip it a lot more often than I partake.  A couple of Fridays ago, I'd had one of those weeks that I wanted to go home and enjoy some wine.  I bought the wine before heading home.  That bottle is still in its paper bag.  I never even got it out.  Once I got home, I didn't want it.  So, I haven't opened it.  I will at some point, but I won't do it "just because" ... or even worse, because I want to hide and avoid life. 

I like alcohol.  Beer.  Wine.  Tequila.  Whiskey & Bourbon.  We can still be friends, but the kind of friends who catch up once every few months. 

I am not in anyway shape or form judging anyone else's drinking patterns or habits.  I am a strong believer in personal journeys.  And, this is a part of my mine.

Wednesday link-up with Nadine & Kathy 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Serious talk

The high school I attended is in a suburb of Houston, Texas about 35 miles north of downtown.  At the time, there were three high schools in our school district.  Since then, the area has grown and a rather disturbing news story has come from my hometown area.  A high school softball coach and social studies teacher has committed suicide after accusations of sexual misconduct with a student.  You can read an article about it here. 

I've been struggling since reading and hearing this.  No, this is not the first story of sexual misconduct I've read about in the last 20+ years.  But, every single time, I read a story like this, I can't help but think of the victim. 

I have my own story, and you can read about it My Own "Dark Places".

The current story is going to be filled with controversy.  The coach and teacher was married with children.  He was only accused, so in light of America being a country where one is innocent until proven guilty, I don't want to make judgement of guilt or innocence.  Some may say he killed himself because of the guilt he felt, or the fear he felt for getting caught, or the stress he felt for being accused of something maybe he didn't do.  We don't know his story. 

I admit that I am angry.  IF the behaviour and actions are indeed true, can you imagine what that 16 year old girl is feeling now?  Accompanied with the trauma, shame, embarrassment, and confusion she was most likely already experiencing, now she is unjustly carrying feelings of guilt as well.  That angers me.  IF the accusations are true, he took the coward's way out.  He added another heap of negativity to that 16 year old added with the trauma he has caused his wife and children.

You know this social media culture that we live in with a whole lot of keyboard judges and juries?  You know the ones.  The ones that sit behind a monitor and pass judgement without facts.  I've already read comments from these people that make my stomach turn.  (Some of those comments are on the news article link I posted.)  Comments that blame the accuser for the man's death.  Comments that question and claim that these are false allegations.  Comments, on the contrary, that claim knowledge of other victims.  None of these comments are needed on social media platforms during a tragic time like this.  I shake my head and my skin crawls. Yes, one comment even made me cry because I can't help my own feelings to creep back in. 

I am going to share some hopes...  I hope the 16 year old girl AND the family of the deceased open themselves up to therapy.  I hope they find a counselor that they develop the type of  therapeutic relationship that will help them sort, discover, face, cope, and heal from the feelings and emotions that will result from the role they play in this tragic story.  I hope they find themselves surrounded with compassion, support, and encouragement.  I hope they are free from judgement, ridicule, and speculation.  I hope this experience doesn't negatively define the future that a 16 year old is facing.

Sadly, I believe that my hopes listed above are stretched and unrealistic.  But, I don't want a life without hope.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Blogger Love vol.5

Let's kick this week off with a little "blogger love", shall we?  We shall.

From Jo - Ten books every feisty female should read - I love the word "feisty"; I love the title of the blog post; and I love that the post lists books I've never read.

Isabel posted: The hardest thing about living abroad: being present.  I know the feelings that she is sharing all too well.

Lindsay talks about Introspection, and I could really relate.  That very same day, I'd seen a meme that fit perfectly with her post, so I shared it.

Mattie shared The post I never wanted to write about the sudden loss of her (step)dad.  It was so heartfelt, a beautiful tribute, and a reminder to appreciate our loved ones even just a little bit more.

If you've been around these parts, you know that I love me some Jana and when she opened up (even more) On depression and infertility, I applauded her voice, her honesty, and her vulnerability.

This post by Ramblin' Rose had me giggling: If I was a real blogger.  It reminded me of sentiments shared in my own post: Confessions of a lame blogger.

Kristen posted (her) favorite angry songs: music for every pissed off occasion.  I don't even know all the songs, but you bet your angry self I'm going to listen to them.  I'm a big supporter of angry music when the times call for it.

Have you read any blogs lately that resonated with you that you want to share with me?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sunday's Seven + Seven Snapshots vol.69

This week was all about the stepkid. He was off from school, so we got to hang more than usual. 

A library visit kicked off the week 

He was my sous chef for dinner one night. 

We were plenty pleased with the results of homemade meatballs, mashed potatoes, and mixed veggies. 

Hangin' with our furry family members 

Family selfie

When one commutes on the train, one should always bring a book. 

The face cracks me up ~ I told him to let the wood-fired pizza cool before diving in. He was ready. 

King of the ropes

Ice cream at Darling Harbour 

Lego exhibition called The Sydney Brick Show 

Closely inspecting the genius creations 

He impressed the exhibitor (and us) by naming every single super hero and villain in this chess set. 

Love these guys 

My favorite - respresentative of all seasons - creative and artistic. 

That was my week. How was yours?

Friday, April 15, 2016

50 before 50

You read that correctly, folks.  50.  What the F?  I'm not ready to be 50 yet.  2023 sounds really far away, am I right?  Right?!?

I've got things to do before that happens.  So, I thought I'd finally create some form of goal or bucket list to put some of those things on paper (so to speak).  Honestly, I didn't "dream big".  I selected things that I truly want to do that are totally achievable.  I want this list checked off completely by June 17th, 2023.  I don't want to have any reason to look back at it with disappointment.  It's all about accomplishing, seeing, doing, experiencing things I want to do.

  1. Take the stepson to Texas
  2. Rent a houseboat on the Hawkesbury River
  3. Taronga Zoo wild ropes
  4. View Sydney's Sculptures by the Sea
  5. Gain my "permanent residency" status
  6. Get my NSW driver's license
  7. Participate in City 2 Surf (even if it's just walking because let's be honest, it's going to be just walking)
  8. Take stepkids to a water park
  9. Spit Bridge to Manly walk
  10. Adopt an animal at Taronga Zoo
  11. Attend a show at Town Hall Theatre (small community theatre where I live)
  12. Go to see snow in Australia
  13. Wine tour in Australia
  14. Visit Canberra (Australia's capitol)
  15. Camp at Royal National Park
  16. Go to a Sydney Blue Sox baseball game; that's right, Australia has a small professional baseball league, and I want to go to a game.
  17. Host a Tex Mex dinner party for Aussie friends
  18. Attend Sydney's Mardi Gras parade; this is not exactly like the one you'd find in NOLA.
  19. Travel to see live music in Australia; I used to travel often in the US for shows, but I haven't done it here.
  20.  Have a cocktail at BluBar (Shangri La in Sydney) with this view:
  21. Watch a sunrise over an ocean (I've done this before, it's just been awhile)
  22. Watch Niece 2 graduate High School in 2017
  23. Watch Nephew graduate High School in 2019
  24. See Shawna - my Texas girlfriend that lives in Italy who I haven't seen since 2008, and she's had four bambinos since then!
  25. Have a girls' weekend with USA friends
  26. Visit Austin (again); it's been too long since I've seen my favorite Texas city.
  27. Relax during a weekend getaway, just for my guy and me
  28. Go to a cat café
  29. See another Broadway show
  30. Since the magic # is 50, have 50 people complete my book challenge, Book Challenge by Erin
  31. Read all books I currently own
  32. Finish "Around the World in 80 Books" book challenge
  33. Get that new tattoo I've been wanting for years
  34. Organize concert t-shirts and have them made into a quilt (like the one pictured) because I have a lot of concert tees that I can't part with, but I don't wear, and I'd like to keep the memories...
  35. Finally, maintain an exercise routine where I'm doing something at a minimum 3 days a week
  36. Meditate every day for 30 days in a row
  37. "Pay It Forward" care package at least once a year
  38. 21 day detox at least once a year
  39. Bring my lunch from home (don't buy take-out) for a minimum of 30 days in a row
  40. Have a weekend of solitude
  41. Pin-up photo shoot
  42. Rent a party bus
  43. Send 50 snail mail cards or letters (besides Christmas cards)
  44. Increase annual charity donations
  45. Plant flowers; I've never owned a pot plant or had flowers that I maintained outside; I need this to change.
  46. Meet a blogger in real life
  47. Pick a highly talked about television series and watch it; contenders are Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, True Detective (first season)
  48. Complete Jenn's "fall film challenge"; I've participated twice but haven't finished it.
  49. Watch 50 movies that I've never seen, and I've wanted to see (or feel like I should see)...this list has its own blog post to help me keep track.
  50. Share the adventures!: blog about every one of these goals as they've been met.
What do you think of these?  Anyone want to come to Australia and help me check some of these off the list??

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Aussie Author Challenge: Book Six

Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic - Sometimes, I like to stroll through bookstores and read those little cards with staff recommendations for books.  It's just another way (besides goodreads, bloggers, libraries, and my own research) to find out about a good book.  This one was sitting in the Australian fiction section featured with a grouping of other crime/mystery/thriller recommendations.  Because I'd never heard about the book before or the author, and all the information that I had was on a small note card, I started reading it with few expectations.  So, to say it exceeded all expectations, is a given.  But, I feel like I should send a "thank you" note to the staff member at the bookstore for introducing me to it.

You know how some thrillers like to slowly build with a foundation and character development before the action takes off?  Not this one.  On page one, the lead character is holding his murdered best friend in his arms.  Action from the start! 

I enjoyed the story set in Melbourne and Resurrection Bay (not sure if this is an actual place or not), Victoria, Australia.  It had me guessing and re-thinking my opinions about where it was going and who were the villains.  The pace was quick, and some twists were unexpected. 

I enjoyed the characters.  Admittedly, I'm unaware of any book that I've read with a deaf protagonist.  That element to the story was an interesting addition to a crime-based thriller.

If you can get your hand on this one, I recommend it.

It's the 7th year for the Aussie Author Challenge, and my 2nd year participating (click on the picture/link to take you directly to the site for more information).  My working book list is as follows:

Female Authors:

Male Authors:

Authors New to Me:

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Girls' Trip to France~Switzerland~Spain: Wanderlust Wednesdays

Wanderlust Wednesdays

I have intended to join my sweet Kerri and friends for this link-up for months and months.  Finally, I've remembered to do it! 

Part of my problem with not being prepared for this link-up is this: many of my travel stories that I want to share happened a while, I mean, pre-camera phones a while ago.  And, I'm not organized enough to have all my travel photos easily accessible.  Need to fix these.

Anywho....let me tell you about one of my European excursions.....

Short story:  2006 - a girl that I was joined at the hip for 10 years in the latter part of college and my early professional life (Shawna) now lived in Paris.  My cousin (Elizabeth) was 20 and got the travel bug.  I'd been to Europe and loved it.  We had a girls' trip, and it was sensational.  It was 10 years ago, so I'm really not even sure I'm going to remember all the details.  But, I'll give it a go.
Fly direct Houston to Paris - take taxi - French driver doesn't understand us - we show him address - he gets us to my friend's apartment - the street has a distant view of the Eiffel Tower.  Very nice!

I was supposed to pick up a key from the concierge of Shawna's apartment while she was at work - concierge not there - can't get key - we sit outside, backpacks in tow - residents who pass tell us "all French concierge take lunch break from at least 12-2" - okay then.
I could stare at stained glass windows for hours

We did all the tourist-y things - Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, Hotel Invalides - one of the days in Paris was my birthday - drinks with lovelies in Paris is not too shabby a way to spend one's birthday - we went dancing one night at a discoteque.

Elizabeth & I train to Switzerland - we spent a day in Bern - played tourists again - walked the town, went to Albert Einstein museum - admired the beauty of the river running through the city - checked out the bear exhibit. 

Train to Interlaken (my favorite place in the world!) - Guess what - when we arrived at the Funny Farm hostel (a place I've stayed more than once), it was happy hour! - 2 for 1 drinks in the beer garden - we drank with the locals and met some people staying at the same hostel - had fantastic Thai food (who knew there was good Thai in this little Swiss town) - went to a underground dance club at one of the hostels.

Next day canyon jump/swing - I'd done this before and was super excited to do it again - (as I pull the link for this activity, I learn they aren't doing this currently due to "rockfall in the gorge") - Elizabeth chickened out - she's scared of heights - I used to have a video of my jump but have no idea what happened to it.
That's me jumping! And that's Elizabeth looking down the canyon to make sure I survived to tell you about it.

Early wake-up to go canyoning - outdoor adventure guides take you through mountain gorges, natural water holes, part rappelling/part hiking/part jumping/part swimming - we were with an overly athletic group (and the only girls) - I'd done this before but Elizabeth hadn't - she faced two big fears of hers: heights & snakes - yep, there was a tiny snake, the size of a straw, in the water with us - she jumped on top of me, and I almost drowned (not really) until our lovely guide jumped in and scared it away - we treated ourselves to celebratory drinks that night.

That night, we agreed to go with a special group and bungy jump over Lake Stockhorn in the dark for Summer Solstice (only during special events do they go at night) - bbq & beer at the bottom of the lake where Elizabeth hung out - I bungy jumped from a mountain gondola over the lake - adrenaline was pumping because it looked like I was just leaping into darkness - it was amazing!
That is me on the right - you just gotta trust me - I look so close to the moon!
These are smiles & cheers of accomplishment - this was my German bungy jumping buddy - we tried to keep each other calm (in broken English) while waiting in the gondola

Geneva to Barcelona night train - electricity black out caused us to miss our train - no hotels available anywhere in Geneva - I had a smart idea - we trained one town over - found a hotel with a huge bath tub - Elizabeth soaked for an hour - left Shawna a message at hotel that we would be a day late because we didn't travel with mobile phones back then.

Arrive next day to Barcelona - They were celebrating the summer solstice too, but it's called some Saint's Day (don't remember what saint. my bad.) - people were partying on the beach, kids running around throwing firecrackers, live music.

We resumed doing all the tourist-y things - beach, markets, watched street performers, went to a Pablo Picasso museum, checked out the unique architecture of Gaudi.

Treated ourselves to a delicious feast of tapas and Sangria - went dancing at a discoteca.
Rented bikes to explore some more - a fun way to get around the city - we had the best weather this entire trip!
Spent the last day visiting the zoo & the funky & delightful Parc Guell
Took a night train back to Paris - Elizabeth & I were delirious at this point.

I planned everywhere we stayed, everywhere we went, and every site we saw by using Trip Advisor - it is my personal favorite travel site for reviews and suggestions - plus, I'm old school - I like travel books, and I used those too.

I've participated in outdoor adventure activities seven different times in Interlaken, Switzerland - always used Alpinraft for these activities - the experiences are worth every penny, and the guides are fun, knowledgeable, and fantastic!  Plus, one of those guides took this picture using my camera.  It's my all-time favorite travel photo.

I have been fortunate enough to share many travel experiences with many special people.  This one is one for the record books...a time that I shared with two of my favorite people in this entire world.

Have you ever been to any of these places?  Have you ever taken a girls'-only holiday like this?