My Top Ten Adventures of 2014!
This year was full of new adventures for me and for my husband and not all of them included travel. I used to think traveling someplace new was all an adventure could be but, this year I learned that adventures can come in all shapes and sizes and experiences.
1. New Orleans, Louisiana: For our trip home this year we didn’t exactly go home. Instead of heading to my home state of Ohio, we headed to the Big Easy with my family to celebrate some big birthdays. We enjoyed the beautiful historic buildings and homes that lined the streets of the French Quarter and filled our bellies with the very filling grub offered everywhere we sat. Not only did Cafe du Monde delight for breakfast, the jambalayas, shrimp this, that and the other and all of the gumbos we could enjoy were devoured on our trip there. It seemed 25% of our trip was enjoying the sights while the other 75% was enjoying the food.
2. Gapado Island & Sanbang Grotto on Jeju Island: Heading to Jeju Island to teach a summer camp doesn’t sound all that awesome except that we did manage to have a couple days in which we could meander around if we wished and wished I did. Jeju offers so much spectacular natural scenery that even though this was already my second trip there, I know I should head back to enjoy even more. Highlights from the trip this year were Gapado Island and the fishy noodle soups one very nice old woman made for us even though she wasn’t technically open for business yet and Sanbang Grotto and the myths that surround it.
3. Haedong Yonggung Temple in Busan, Korea: Though I’ve gone to Busan numerous times not only for touristy reasons but also to visit my husband’s family, I still enjoy every trip. While we headed down this year for my husband to play at Busan Sunset Live Festival, I took the opportunity while being on the far eastern end of the city that lines the southern coast to visit Haedong Yonggung Temple. I’ve had this seaside temple on my list of must-sees for some time and was thrilled to get to see one of the rare temples that sits on a coast overlooking the ocean. Not only did the trip delight my eyes but, we also ate one of my favorites while down south, daegutang. Mmm mmm good.
4. The Blossoming of My Belly: Like I said, I realized that not every adventure requires a trip to a new or even old place. This year, I became pregnant and we prepared to welcome our first child. This was an adventure we’d planned for, but a collection of new experiences none the less. From my ever growing belly to my need for oranges and Greek salads and hatred of pork complimented by a sudden onset of lactose intolerance, it was sure a trip. Kicks and hiccups rocked my belly while acid reflux made sleeping unbearable. All of this, and really none of it was all that bad, to welcome the daughter that would come forth.
5. Our Little Girl: Pregnancy was quite the adventure but quickly following the end of that came the new adventure of caring for and cuddling with a little baby. This adventure started off in very Korean fashion with a week-long stay in a post-natal hotel. After arriving home, household chores were put on the back burner to stare for hours at our bundle of joy as she woke, started to coo, began to smile in response to things and of course wailed at times for food. Of course this adventure will continue for some time now.
6. Gaya Land, Gimhae, Korea: Usually I’m not one to enter abandoned areas due to fear of the unknown, arrest and danger but, Gaya Land beckoned just up the road from my in-law’s home. As we often make trips to Gimhae and Busan, I’m always on the lookout for something new to see or explore and this was just too close not to visit. Sometimes adventure can come in the form of pushing boundaries, literally and figuratively.
7. Denver, Colorado: Some adventures aren’t mine but involve me introducing them to my husband and that was Denver. Looking forward, not anytime soon, but in the future, we hope to move to the States to be near my family. This summer, I had the opportunity to really introduce my husband to where I would like to move. From showing him the natural beauty of Garden of the Gods and Vail to visiting the Asian markets and wandering downtown, it was an adventure for us together to see if it would be a possible future relocation site.
8. The World Cup Parks: Sometimes adventure can be found right in our backyard. World Cup Park is made of five parks and though I’d visited Sky Park again and again over the years, I’d never visited any of the other four. This year, and while I couldn’t do much other than waddle around, we visited the easier to enjoy for a pregnant woman as they are flatter, Pyeongwha Park and Nanji Stream Park. I love being outside and having these parks just five minutes up the road is wonderful. They offer beautiful scenery in every season and even wildlife to catch sight of.
9. Adventurous Dining: Having people visit me in Korea from back home reminds me that I am a very adventurous eater. From eel to mudfish and everything in between, it seems like many of the dishes that I have come to love over the years in Korea are not what the average visitor or foreigner living in Korea chooses or enjoys to eat. I don’t think anyone would disagree that eating out at a new restaurant with menu items you’ve never heard of can certainly be an adventure and there are plenty of places here to have those particular “trips”.
10. Seagrove, Florida: Many adventures don’t even have to involve much travel. While we were back in the States visiting my family, we stayed in a beach house with some aunts, uncles and cousins that I hadn’t had the time to see too much of over the past 8 years while I’ve lived in Korea. It was amazing to get to reconnect with them. To see how they’d grown as people, changed over the years and how we were so similar in ways I hadn’t noticed when I was younger. I think some of my favorite adventures have been in my relationships with people. Family and friends can make for some of the wildest times and some of the calmest times and everything in between is a part of the ride.