Road-tripping from Colorado to Washington…and back again

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As I mentioned in my previous post, our Christmas in Washington was awesome!
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On our drive up to Washington, we decided to take a different route than the one that we took when we first arrived in Colorado. We thought that it was too much of a risk to drive through Montana and northern Idaho with the snowy weather and mountain passes. So this time around we drove north in to Wyoming, then west into Utah, then into Idaho and Oregon and finally crossing north in to Washington.

It was a long 2 day drive, but the views were absolutely incredible!
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We’ve both decided that even from the small part of Utah that we got to see, that it looks like a beautiful state and we wouldn’t mind moving there! We also stopped in Boise Idaho for a short while and decided that it looked like a cool city with a beautiful backdrop of foothills.
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Below are some photos that we took during our road trip.

I hope you enjoy them 🙂
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Christmas 2015- A Family Affair

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This Christmas was truly the best Christmas that I’ve had in a long time! Living abroad is an amazing adventure but it’s always the hardest at Christmas time, not being able to spend it with your family.

This year both myself and Jason were feeling pretty down about not being able to be with our families, so we decided to risk the snowy roads and drive up to Washington to be with Jason’s family.
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Honestly, it was the BEST decision that we’ve made in a while!

Once we arrived at Jason’s sisters house it was like we had magically landed in Narnia! Snow was falling, there were beautiful evergreen trees everywhere and once inside her house it was so festive.
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She was making cookies and Christmas movies were playing while their beautiful Christmas tree lit up in the corner. It was perfect!
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We spent our first few days just playing in the snow with Jason’s niece and enjoying our time away from job searching and other frustrating things that happen when you move to a new city.
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Then on Christmas eve all of Jason’s family came to his sisters house to celebrate Christmas a day early. Jason’s mom and some of his siblings still didn’t know that we were going to be there so it was a lovely surprise for them, especially his mom, to see us and the Elliott siblings were all together for Christmas for the first time in five years!
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We had such a wonderful day, the snow was falling outside, the views from Ambers house were just magical.
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We ate so much food, I introduced the family to Christmas Crackers and we all exchanged secret santa gifts by the Christmas tree. I think I had a perma-smile on my face for the entire day because it was absolutely perfect.
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That evening we drove to Soap Lake, where Jason’s parents live, to spend Christmas day with them.

On Christmas morning we woke up and opened our presents in the guesthouse that we were staying in. Afterwards we went to Jason’s parents house to watch the kids open presents, cook an Irish breakfast, laze around, eat a great ham dinner and play board games.
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It was such a wonderful Christmas, definitely one to remember…even if it did take 2 days to get there and another 2 days to get back!
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My Top 5…Moments of 2015

IMG_7947Oops, I’m a bit late with creating this post since it’s already over a week into 2016, but I guess late is better than never!

 

2015 was an incredible year and one that I won’t forget anytime soon! Myself and Jason are, for the first time, heading in to a new year with so much uncertainty and a bit of fear. I hope that 2016 ends up being an amazing year, but for now I’m going to focus on how great 2015 was.

So here are my top 5 moments of 2015:

5. WWOOFing in Washington

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This was a great chance for both myself and Jason to firmly leave our comfort zones. We worked hard, learned a lot and most importantly had fun while working at Paradisos Del Sol Winery in Zillah Washington.

I highly recommend WWOOFing to anyone interested in getting off the beaten path and seeing the world in a unique way.wpid-img_20151003_084246.jpg

4. Weekend trip to Seattlewpid-img_20150910_074009.jpg

For Jasons birthday I got him tickets to see the Mariners play baseball. That, coupled with the gourmet food tour that our friend Ian gave us, created an awesome weekend full of fun memories that I’ll cherish for a long time to come!wpid-img_20150908_120110.jpg

3. Beomosa Temple Stay

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What an incredible experience! We got to live in a temple for the weekend, meditate, pray, eat and drink tea like monks. We also learned a lot about Buddhism and were able to clear our minds for that wonderful weekend. IMG_9292

2. Finally Spending Christmas with Family

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It had been 6 years since I’ve spent Christmas with any family. Both myself and Jason were getting down in Denver thinking about spending another Christmas alone, so we made the decision to load up the car, drive 2 days to Washington and spend the most incredible 2 weeks with his family! We even had a white Christmas…it was so perfect and gave our spirits a badly needed lift.
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1. Our honeymoon in Singapore and Bali

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Ever since myself and Jason got engaged we both knew that if we had to choose, we wanted our honeymoon to be the highlight instead of the wedding. At the end of the day, we care way more about travel and experiences than we do about dresses and place settings so we did exactly that, had a low key wedding and enjoyed the most wonderful 2 weeks in both Singapore and Bali. We splashed out and stayed in an amazing villa with a private pool in Ubud and the memories from our honeymoon are going to stay in my mind forever.wpid-img_20150224_073315.jpg

 

So there we have it, my top 5 moments of 2015. It was so nice to look back on them while writing this.

How about you? What are your favorite memories of 2015??

 

A Day Trip To Vail

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Last week, I was feeling pretty down about the job hunt so myself and Jason decided to take a day trip to Vail, CO. So I’m sure most of you have heard of Vail before but if not then it’s a big ski resort in the mountains about an hour and a half away from Denver.
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The drive to Vail is absolutely beautiful, we passed some other smaller ski resorts such as Brekenridge and the scenery was just breathtaking!
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Once we arrived we found a parking lot (which was shockingly expensive, $20 for 2 hours parking!)

We got Willy and walked around the town.
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It’s an absolutely beautiful town, it’s so clean with beautiful German inspired buildings everywhere.
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There was a beautiful skating rink and small local stores everywhere.

It was such a great way to spend a day and it has made me so excited for the thousands of other small towns in the mountains that myself and Jason have yet to explore!
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The place that I want to go the most is Telluride. They have an awesome Bluegrass festival in the summer and unfortunately the tickets went on release last Friday and are almost sold out (being unemployed makes it impossible to afford it right now) But I’m sure that this time next year I’ll be more than prepared to get some tickets!

How about you? What’s your favorite Colorado town?
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A WWOOFing Experience!

wpid-fotor_144570817906154.jpgMyself and Jason spent a week WWOOFing in Washington state recently. I guess before I go any further, I should explain what exactly WWOOF is. WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. You can work on an organic farm and learn all about farming in exchange for a place to stay and all of your meals.wpid-img_20150929_111024.jpg

It’s a great concept that allows people to work on farms all over the world. It is very popular in Australia and New Zealand but you can find it everywhere!

Myself and Jason had been wanting to do something like this for some time. We both really want to learn more about growing our own fruit and vegetables and hope to become more self sufficient over time.wpid-img_20151003_084246.jpg

So how does it work?

Well every country has their own country specific website. For the WWOOF USA website, you must pay a year subscription of $40. This allows you to see all of the farms that are looking for WWOOFers throughout America, gives a description of them all and allows you to contact them.

While searching for farms, it was exciting to see all of the opportunities that were available to us, goat farms, fruit and vegetable farms, animal farms, ranches and wineries.

We ended up choosing to WWOOF at a winery. Why? well they actually called themselves a farmery as they had animals, vegetables and grapevines on their farm so we figured that it would be a great learning opportunity.

After making contact and introducing ourselves, we agreed on a date that we would work for them. We would work a 20 day work week (about 4 hours a day) but if we wanted to work any hours over that then we would be paid a bottle of wine an hour…it sounded great to us! Also, they love dogs and Willy was more than welcome to join us.

So the winery that we worked for was called Paradisos Del Sol and it was located in Zillah in Washington State. It was owned by a great couple, Paul and Barbara. Paul taught us so much about the winemaking process, including how to properly taste wine.

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When our workdays were over we spent our days tasting wine at the other nearby wineries (there were about 15 on their road alone!).wpid-fotor_14457084315716.jpg

wpid-fotor_144570813949491.jpgWhat did our days look like?

Every morning and evening we “punched down” the red grapes that were busy fermenting.

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wpid-fotor_144570797468982.jpgOn our first day we did the final harvest of grapes, so it involved a long day of picking grapes, but it was fun to see the different types of grapes that make different types of wines and to taste them all.wpid-fotor_14457082214857.jpg

Day two, we took the grapes that we had picked and brought them to a bigger winery to use a machine that detaches the grapes from the stems and gets the juice out of them.wpid-fotor_144570826420837.jpg

Day three, we spent the day picking hops. Jason makes beer so it was fun for him to see some fresh hops, Paul even gave us a box full of them to bring home with us!wpid-img_20150930_092656.jpg

wpid-fotor_144570837645052.jpgDay four and five were spent taking bird netting off of the vines. Because they are organic, they can’t use any pesticides or chemicals on their grapes so the netting helps to keep animals out.wpid-img_20151003_183347.jpg

Before we knew it, it was time to leave. We loved our time on the farm, it taught me that I actually quite enjoy repetitive tasks. Willy loved being a farm dog for the week and we loved the tranquility of the area…will we WWOOF again??wpid-fotor_144570805648812.jpg

ABSOLUTELY!

A Baseball Game With a Difference

wpid-fotor_144399349067166.jpgWay back in March I was struggling trying to come up with an amazing 30th birthday gift for Jason…I got to celebrate mine in style in Bali so how could I ever come close to that?!wpid-img_20150224_073315.jpg

After lots of searching I decided to get him some baseball tickets to go see the Seattle Mariners in Safeco Field. While I was looking at all of the tickets and the different prices, I stumbled across the Diamond Club. Once I read about it, I knew that that was the perfect gift for him!wpid-fotor_144399368072864.jpg

So, what is The Diamond Club? Well, it’s much more than just a baseball ticket, it’s an experience! The Diamond Club is the first 20 seats right around the diamond. They are the best seats in the house…but when you buy these tickets you get a whole lot more included in the price.

So here’s a breakdown of what you get:

  • Free parking at the stadium.
  • A free gourmet all you can eat buffet before the game starts.
  • Free alcohol and soft drinks throughout the game.
  • When the game starts you get waiter service to get you free game food and snacks so that you don’t have to miss a thing.
  • A whole wall of sweets and candies to choose from as well as ice-cream and popcorn.

wpid-fotor_144399378022277.jpgSo, a few weeks ago we finally got to use the tickets and let me say, even though the Mariners lost, Jason had an amazing time! We were four rows away from all of the action and he even got a wave from a few of his favorite players.wpid-fotor_144399387035355.jpg

The food…in one word, WOW.wpid-fotor_144399354029099.jpg

The buffet had an impressive salad bar, with so many amazing options. They had ribs, pork, beef, chicken and fish and then so many incredible cakes and pies as well as a chocolate fountain with strawberries for dipping. (I’m sorry, the photos that I took were shockingly bad, so you’ll just have to use your imagination)

We were so stuffed before the game even began, but we did manage to use the waiter service during the game to order some garlic fries.wpid-fotor_144399383389727.jpg

The drinks were also impressive, I had a mojito with my food and then drank alcoholic cider throughout the game. Jason drank the different craft beers that were on offer.wpid-fotor_144399358935628.jpg

We had such a fun day and it was so cool to be right up the front and to be so close to all of the action!wpid-fotor_144399373485880.jpg

They are expensive tickets but well worth it for a special occasion!

Where to buy the tickets:

I got my tickets on http://www.stubhub.com. They were electronically delivered and seemed cheaper than any other places.

A Quick Update


Hi everyone!

I know it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted, we’ve been crazy busy with our international move, but I wanted to give you a quick update as to what is going on in our lives right now. So, we have been in America for the last two weeks, in that time we have bought a car, spent a weekend in Seattle, where we went to a Mariners game (baseball) and did a food tour. We also had a great party last Saturday with all of Jason’s family to celebrate our homecoming. We ate so much food and had TWO beautiful cakes! It was the first time that all of them were together in about five years, the sun shone and everyone had a great time.

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Our car!

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Jason’s family…I feel very lucky to call all of them my family now.

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Our flight from Korea went pretty smooth, Willy was a champ and when we went to collect him from the baggage area, his tail was wagging like crazy. We are now staying with Jason’s sister, Amber, in her beautiful home here in Spokane WA. She has a huge forest as her back garden so Willy is loving the freedom (although he doesn’t understand that he can go out by himself)wpid-img_20150910_103617.jpg wpid-img_20150912_113352.jpg

We aren’t too sure how long we’ll be staying here in Spokane. We are both busy looking for jobs in Denver and are ready to move there as soon as possible.

We’ve been back and forth on moving to Denver, it’s been our dream for the longest time but then we got a bit worried because the rent is so expensive there right now. We were considering Seattle too and the weather was so great when we visited, but overall I don’t think that either of us could handle the cloudy rainy weather.

So we are back on to our initial plan to take the risk and move to Denver…it’s going to be an exciting few months!

I’ll write about our trip to Seattle in a separate post because it was so good!

I Got My Green Card!

Myself and Jason had a very stressful week last week, we were both busy working on our summer camps when we were looking through all of our documents for my green card application. We soon realized that we were missing one of the documents needed. It was still in America! We called Jason’s family to try to get them to Fed ex it to us only to realize that they already sent it that day through regular post. We realized that there was no way that the document would get here in time and panic mode set in.

We knew that we had other documents that might have been okay to send in instead of the documents but weren’t too sure. We called the embassy to try to find some answers and unfortunately we soon found out that we knew more about the visa process than they did. After talking to them, we still didn’t know if the documents that we had would be okay.

We made our way up to Seoul anyway because we had read that if you are missing documents then you will just have to send them to the embassy with your passport when you get them on a later date.

Our embassy appointment was at 8 a.m but we decided to get there early as we knew there would be a long queue. We arrived at about 7:15 and were about sixth in line. At about 7:30 they opened the doors and allowed us in. We were both so nervous and thought that the likelihood of us getting my visa approved that day was about 50/50.

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Queueing at the embassy

After checking in and taking a number, the waiting game began. At about 8:15 our number was called and we presented all of our documents. To our relief, the documents that we had sufficed and they had no issue except he told us that we were missing a completely unrelated document to the one that we had spent the last week stressing about. It was Jason’s proof of domicile. We thought that having a letter addressed to his American address would suffice but they told us that he needed to bring his contract. We were pretty bummed out at hearing that but the man said that he would talk to our interviewer and to take a seat.

After about 20 minutes we got called again to take my fingerprints and to pay the visa fee. We then waited another 30 minutes until it was time for our interview. We both had to rase our right hands and swear to tell the truth. The man was so nice and asked us questions about our relationship and what I was planning on doing in America. After that he told us my visa was approved and that we could go!wpid-img_20150803_093203.jpg

We couldn’t believe it! My passport arrived 2 days later with the visa in it and with all of the other documents that I need when entering America.wpid-img_20150805_123002.jpg

Now that the big thing is out of the way we just have to deal with about 100 smaller things.

Oh the joys of moving countries!

5 Reasons Why I’m Excited To Move To America

download (5)Well, the countdown is on!

We officially only have 7 short weeks left before we pack up everything that we own (including the dog) and move to America. Of course we are quite apprehensive about certain aspects of living in America (healthcare, guns and no legal requirements for employers to treat their employees well, to name a few)

But, overall, we are so excited for this next adventure!

I’ve decided to write a list of things that I’m most excited about:

1. Clothes!

This may sound so superficial but that has been one of the hardest things about living in Korea. Koreans are super tiny so it makes sense that their clothes are too. I had always been an average weight and size back home in Ireland and coming here where the XL won’t even fit was tough to deal with! I have given up buying clothes in Korea and if I do I have to buy clothes that have a free size and I’m not fully comfortable in.

I miss having my own sense of style and dressing for my body type rather than having to wear the only thing that fits. And I miss having options! I can’t wait to be able to be in a store and pick any piece of clothing that I want and knowing that they will probably have my size and if it doesn’t fit…they’ll have a bigger size!

And the bras…I can’t wait to be able to have options when it comes to buying bras and shoes! (Korea doesn’t do shoes in my perfectly average Irish size 6)

2. More food options

I love Korean food…seriously, I could probably eat it every day if I could! But what I do miss is being able to find a recipe online and cook it at home. Yes I can do this but 85% of the time I have to substitute certain ingredients and omit others. I can’t wait for all of the food options in the supermarkets in America!

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I warned Jason that we are going to be eating Greek food A LOT in America!

 

3. An Easier Life With Willy

It’s no secret that I love my dog, he has become a staple on this blog and I try to include him on as many of my Korean adventures as possible. But at the end of the day it can be hard to have a dog here. There is a lot of litter on the streets which means I have to constantly check to make sure he hasn’t picked up something dangerous or disgusting. Most dog owners have very small dogs who are either completely unsocialised and aggressive or their owners are terrified that Willy will eat them so they pick them up and run away when they see him. Unfortunately Willy doesn’t get much chance to socialize with dogs so we are so excited to be able to bring him to dog parks in America and be around dogs of all different breeds. Oh and being able to let Willy off leash, I just can’t wait!IMG_7516

4. CHRISTMAS!

I HATE Christmas in Asia, I’ve had to celebrate it 6 times here and no matter what I do, it feels so depressing. There is no Christmas cheer in Korea (understandable) and people don’t understand how difficult it is to be away from your loved ones during this time. I know that I’ll still be away from my loved ones in America but it’ll be easier, I’ll be surrounded by Christmas cheer and I’ll be able to buy food for a great Christmas dinner.  I can’t wait to go on Christmas overload and do all of the things that we couldn’t do all of these years! (Jason has promised me that we can do all of the Christmas things this year, no matter how cheesy they are)IMG_20141130_205253

5. Being like everyone else.

I won’t be stared at anymore, I won’t be approached by South Asian men on the bus. I won’t be targeted by older Koreans to shout at. There are some wonderful aspects to being different, such as little kids coming up to say hello to me at least ten times everyday. People understanding when I do the wrong thing at the bank/restaurant/bus etc. and getting free things in restaurants. But after 5 years, I’m ready to blend in and not be the odd one out.

 

Apart from these reasons, I’m so excited to see the beautiful American landscapes, get myself immersed in the beautiful nature that Colorado has to offer and try my hand at lots of new sports.

 

What do you think of this list?

If you are in Korea, is there anything that you would add to this list?

 

Applying For My Green Card in Seoul (part 2)

163888_1610106424034_8033896_nThe Health Check

So about a month ago, I received my packet 3 information. This is basically an e-mail that supplies you with your case number and then a check list of all of the documents that you will need for your final visa interview. I have since been gathering those documents. Getting my police check from Korea was actually easier than I though it would be, especially since the police station near me has a foreign affairs section with English speaking staff and the police check now comes in English so there is no need to get it translated.

The next document that I needed was my health check. There are only 3 hospitals in South Korea where you can get your health check done. Two of those are in Seoul but luckily one is in Busan. The hospital in Busan is the Haeundae Paik Hospital. I called the number that was given to me in my packet and I was connect to a woman that spoke English who gave me her phone number for making my appointment. I had to take a day of unpaid leave from work as you can only get your health check during working hours from Monday to Friday. But luckily my school have been very understanding about the process.

I was a bit nervous about going to the hospital because of MERS but this hospital wasn’t one that was affected and they took great precautions before you could enter the hospital (I had to get my temperature checked, use some sanitizer and fill out a form)

Once inside and in the visa area, I had to complete another form about MERS and get my temperature checked again. It definitely made me feel more at ease and I took off the surgical mask that I was wearing.wpid-img_20150611_194332.jpg

The medical check is very straight forward, English was spoken by most people which made life much easier.

I had to fill out about 5 forms and then I was given some clothes to change in to.

I then went from room to room getting different tests.

Room 1: blood pressure, eye tests and weight and height measurements.

Room 2: they took some blood from my arm.

Room 3: A chest x-ray.

Room 4: a medical check with a doctor.

Because I didn’t have my vaccination records with me I also had to get 3 vaccinations.

 

It all took just under an hour.

Overall for both the health check and the vaccinations it cost me 295,000w. (190,000w for just the health check).

Now that that is completed, we only have to complete two more forms (an on-line application form and a form about Jason’s finances) and then we’ll be all set for our final visa interview on August 3rd.