It seems as though it's "that time of the year" again...when the holidays are upon us, as is all the pomp and circumstance that surrounds them. Ick. I really don't like this time of the year, for exactly that reason. However, I guess the one good thing about it all is the time off from work or school (I miss school?!) and the frequent excuse to travel.
Speaking of traveling, I've been doing a lot of that lately. While a long distance relationship is a year-round excuse for traveling, I've realized that my recent additional travels have made me a whole lot happier of a person. (Duhhh, Lauren! What rock has your brain been under?!) So travels, eH? Where have I been and what have I been up to? Keep reading to find out.
Family Weekend in Shreveport, LA (Oct. 23-24): My cousin, Ross, just started his freshman year of college and is playing baseball for LSU-Shreveport. His family planned to spend the weekend in Shreveport and wanted to host a gumbo for the team after practice on Saturday. I was thrilled when they invited me to join them for the weekend. As it turned out, my mom drove my grandparents up for the weekend, as well, and so I was able to see most of my family for the first time since July. I had a great time seeing everyone...sure makes me wish I were closer to home, though.
Carolina Roadtrip (Oct. 27-30): I flew to Charlotte, NC, spent the night in Boiling Springs, SC, and then drove back to NC for a weekend with Alex's parents. The whole trip involved 3 nights at three separate homes, great food, and fun times. Conveniently, the trip was planned before Alex's dad had emergency surgery and was in the hospital the week before, so we were able to go out and visit as he returned home to begin the recovery process. His mom seemed to really enjoy having us over for game night and then she showed us off (:-p) at church on Sunday morning. Then we rushed back to Charlotte for a Sunday afternoon flight, at an airport I wish I could avoid for all eternity. Overall, however, it was a good weekend.
ACA HOS Conference in Cadiz, KY (Nov. 1-3): I was sent to Lake Barkley State Park to represent Camp at the annual ACA regional conference. Thanks to the required attendance at their standards course, I had to leave Little Rock at 5 a.m. in order to make it in time. Some parts of the travel experience were a little hairy, but I conquered my fears and made it back in one piece. At times, the conference was a bit lonely knowing no one, but I did enjoy several of the sessions and I suppose I'll look forward to next year's conference in Nashville.
Celebration Weekend in Fayetteville, AR (Nov. 11-13): USC Upstate Men's Baksetball team played their season opener against the Arkansas Razorbacks. With Alex in Arkansas for a long weekend, I sped outta work after the volunteer meeting for Respite camp on Friday, hoping to make it in time for part of the game. Somehow, I managed to make it into my floor-level seat at the start of the second half, cheering for the Spartans as they worked to keep up with the Hogs. As expected, they lost by 20 points but it was a good effort. Saturday, Alex and I went Christmas shopping for our families, and that night, we celebrated his early birthday with dinner at Logan's Roadhouse. Sunday morning we had brunch at IHOP before I dropped him off at the airport (XNA is in the middle of nowhere!!) and drove the 3.5 hours back to Little Rock. A bit belated but, Happy 27th, Alex!!
This little travel bug has hit me in a great way. I'm so excited about going home for Thanksgiving next week, as it's the first time I get to be home for this holiday since 2007! Yay!! Traveling helps the days and weeks to go by much faster than whenever I'm sitting in the apartment watching DVR for weeks on end. The learning curve at work is still a little windy, but I feel much better about things as I near the 6-month mark. I can't believe I've already been working here for a half year! Crazy. Before I know it, I'll be hitting 1 year and summer will be upon us again.
I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised by the positive effect traveling has had on my lookout on life. Travel has always been in my blood, and it makes sense that I'm sad whenever I stay in one place for so long. Now, let's just hope I can keep this going somehow, because I know it's literally essential to my sanity. ...I only wish I had greater flexibility and more funds to support my habit. ;)
To all of you who are traveling near and far during this holiday season, I wish you the best. Please feel free to share any fun stories or weird experiences from your adventures! And with that request, I bid you...