The Brit and the Yank do Murrica

I’m ba-ack! As per usual, this post is loooong overdue –  maybe the longest overdue ever. I’m back in Korea and loving my new town and school, but that is a post for another day. In the near future. I swear. Pinky swear, even. For now, I’m going to fill you in on all of the fun I had while home in the states. As you can imagine, the first thing I did when I got home was give my kitties some love, whether they liked it or not, followed shortly thereafter by the greatest pizza known to man: Papa Murphy’s Cowboy. Oh, and did I forget to mention that my crazy awesome parents picked me up at the airport wearing I ❤ MJ shirts? (On the off chance that someone who doesn’t know me personally is reading this, those are my initials.) I got back shortly before Thanksgiving, and have never been so excited to eat myself into a food coma. The turkey was majestic. The stuffing tasted like sunshine and rainbows. It was a glorious feast of food I can’t get in Korea. My taste buds were delighted, and they remained as such for the duration of my trip. December was filled with parties and sugar cookies. One might call it an obscene amount of sugar cookies. One has clearly never been to my house at Christmas. My sister also came home for the holidays, and for the first time in two years the whole fam bam was together. It was fun (read insane) having everyone under the same roof again.

My partner-in-crime, Joe, came to visit a few days after Christmas. For anyone not in the know, Joe is from England, he was my BFF last year in Jeonju, and is now my boyfriend. And obviously the luckiest guy ever.  We were supposed to leave Korea together and spend a few weeks in California and then he was going to head back to England before Christmas. But someone lost his passport. We won’t get into that. The pertinent information is that he had to go home first, and then come to the states and in doing so, he missed Thanksgiving. He was really disappointed, so my mom cooked a second Thanksgiving on New Year’s Day and invited the whole family over so they could meet this strange person from a foreign land. A good time was had by all, due largely in part to Cards Against Humanity. The greatest game you will ever play, as long as you’re as inappropriate as my family. Joe and I spent the next month tooling all over Northern California. Our base was Sacramento, my home town, where I took him to his first professional basketball game. Tragically, our team is the Kings, so we had to watch them blow it all in the last quarter. C’est la vie. I took him to his first drive-in movie. We also visited Old Town Sacramento and the always cool train museum. I introduced him to good Mexican food. They have Mexican food in England, but I felt it pretty safe to say that English Mexican food was nowhere near as good as Californian Mexican food. Joe confirmed those suspicions. We visited the zoo and Fairy Tale Town with my little cousin. We spent a couple of days in the snow in Soda Springs, with an afternoon in Truckee and Donner Pass. While there, I thought it was only fitting that I teach him how to play Oregon Trail. I’m happy to report, we made it all the way with only a few broken bones and some dysentery. We camped for a couple of nights at one of my favorite places on earth, Sunset Beach in Santa Cruz. It was a little chilly, but I got to teach him how to make a s’more. I know, right? What kind of person has never had a s’more? A deprived one. That’s who. I’m pretty sure I changed his life. On our way out of town, we stopped by Monterey for the afternoon. We wandered around Cannery Row and popped into another one of my favorite places – the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We caught the sunset at the pier next to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, since the boardwalk itself was unfortunately closed. We spent a couple of days in San Francisco. Joe got to walk on the Golden Gate Bridge, and it was actually my first time doing that as well. And we went to Fisherman’s Wharf where he tried his very first bowl of clam chowder. I know, I know, I don’t know how they get by in England, either.

But he and I will both agree that the hands down, absolute best part of our trip was the time we spent in Humboldt County. And man, we were all over Humboldt County. Humboldt State is my alma mater and I lived there for six years, so I had a long list of places to visit. On the drive up, we hit up all of the little tourist traps along the way. I’d driven those roads a million times before, but never bothered to check out things like Confusion Hill or the One Log Cabin. I didn’t know when I was going to be able to come back again, so we spent approximately a million hours in the car and hit every little place we saw. Once we finally got there, we went to all of my favorite restaurants and I introduced him to another of my favorite foods – biscuits and gravy. As a Brit, biscuits for him means cookie. You can imagine the look on his face when I told him we would be eating them with gravy. But he was a quick convert. We visited Ferndale, the home of the theater from the movie The Majestic. We stopped by Lolita, home of the cheese factory that makes the most amazing garlic pepperjack. We took a stroll through the Redwood Forest. We attempted to eat dinner on Clam Beach, but it was way too freaking cold. We made the epic trek into Fern Canyon which, aside from being a gorgeous cavern drenched in greenery, was a filming location for both Jurrasic Park and Return of the Jedi. Joe was over the moon, as it combined two of his loves – movies and dinosaurs. We hung out at the bars of my youth,  where he fit in perfectly (he’s 25) and I felt very, very old (I’m…not 25). It was amazing being reminded of so many great memories, but a little bittersweet to know that my time there is long gone and a whole new group of students are memory making. We extended our trip an extra day, and still couldn’t manage to get in everything on my list. Next time, Humboldt, next time… It was so great visiting my old stomping grounds and seeing friends I hadn’t seen in way too long. It was hard to leave, but we had places to go and people to see.

As hard as it was to say goodbye to Humboldt, it was even harder saying goodbye to Joe. We parted knowing we wouldn’t be living in the same county for over a year, as he is teaching in Vietnam this year. I’m looking forward to being able to visit him in Vietnam, but we both know we’re in for a long year. After Joe left, my last two weeks in the states where a whirlwind of saying goodbye to friends, eating my favorite foods and packing. Although, once again, that was mostly left until the last day. So that is my trip home in a nutshell. It was a lot of fun and went by way too fast. I promise I’ll update you on my new situation soon.