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Author Archives: jdtoinfinityandbeyond

About jdtoinfinityandbeyond

I'm on an adventure

99 bottles of…

Today is exactly 99 days until our wedding (according to Bed, Bath, and Beyond anyways)!! A lot of people have been asking how wedding planning is going, so I thought I’d blog about it as a break from planning!

But first, let me share some really fun pictures, all courtesy of Sara Smile Photography (click the link to see her blog entry about us!).

We love bikes!

 

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We adventured around downtown Boston a bit with our awesome photographer before making her pizza at our house.

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You can see all of the engagement photos here (look for the bonus “Pizza” section!)

So, wedding planning…this is what we have so far: date, location, caterer, dessert, booze, bartending, supply rental, wedding dress & shoes, best man/woman, flower girl/boy, wedding stage manager, photographer, wedding website, save the dates, registry, mini-moon, and honeymoon flights.

Wow, writing that list made me feel good!

Yesterday we went to do a site visit of the camp and it got me really excited (except for the part where I slipped and fell down the stairs – but good to get all that out now!). I forgot how beautiful it was there, as well as how big! We brought our moms with us, which was a relief to have other people see it and start thinking about all the things we need to think about and do! After we got home, I wrote a detailed list of all the things we need to do – it has now crested 60!! I’ve been grappling with the amount of tangible stuff we need to think about/get/bring – iron/ironing board, board games, center pieces, decorations, lights, bathroom kits, and who knows what else (hopefully my spreadsheets know?!).

Some of the “what we still need to do”: invitations, get officiant, get David’s clothes, Jenny’s jewelry/hair/make up, center pieces and decorations (a lot!), flowers, playlist, wedding rings, marriage license, design ceremony, write vows, cabin assignments, seating charts…ok, I take back the part about feeling good about what’s already done!

We’re definitely going to need to ask friends and family to help us…We just need to get organized to figured out what to ask for help with!

Lastly, the camp is going to be totally awesome. It’s not hotel accommodations, it’s better! It’s not really roughing it – the walls are sealed, there is heat, electricity, plumbing, etc. It’s going to be like a big sleepover with adults, or like being at college, but our family is there too!

Now, back to spreadsheets!

 

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

What’s in a Name?

Exactly 6 months from today (basically, exactly to the hour that I’m writing this), my wedding will be coming to a close. It will have been a beautiful day full of emotions, fun, laughing, and special moments. But I’m not writing about my wedding right now. Instead, I’m writing about my name.

For some women, there isn’t a question of if they will change their name or not once they are married – it’s not a decision to be made but more of an obvious of course. For others, some of my friends included, it’s been a decision they’ve wrestled with, basically deciding to just not decide (aka do nothing, as changing your name can be quite a hassle). So, what about me? Will I change my name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet.” – Juliet

Well Juliet, I think there is a lot in a name. For the last 31 years of my life, I have been Jenny Duquette. I am Jenny Duquette. That is who I am, that is my identity, that is who my friends and family and colleagues know me as. My many nicknames come from my name – Dukey, Dukes, jDukes, Sweaty Duquettey, etc. Who is Jenny Marie Norcott? Who is Jenny Marie Duquette-Norcott? Who is Jenny Marie Duquette Norcott? Who is Jenny Duquette Norcott?

I don’t think I can completely drop the Duquette name. It is too much of who I am. Too much of my identity, my pride, my family, my history. I know my identity will change as a married person (a wife!), but I feel like losing my name would make me feel like there was someone that I was and I am no longer. On the flip side, David and I are going to become a family, a unit together. I like the idea of being “The Norcotts” – a family together. For many women, they are their married name identities longer than their maiden names, which seems crazy to me.

So, perhaps we could just become Jenny & David Norquette? I like the ring to that…..

 

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

A Great New Adventure

This blog was originally started to chronicle Jenny’s journey of quitting her job, lifestyle design, and seizing new opportunities. It morphed into a travel blog when Jenny & David traveled to Asia & Europe for months at a time. We’ve talked about a lot of great adventures on here and now we’re at the start of a new adventure: we’re engaged!!!!

That’s right, David asked Jenny to marry her yesterday, and she said yes! Here’s what happened:

engagement

From Jenny’s point of view:

We were on a long bike ride on the South Shore, from Wompatuck State Park through Hingham, Scituate, Norwell, Cohasset, and Hull. We stopped at the light house in Scituate to take a break and eat some granola bars. I decided we should get going when David said something like this “I’ve been thinking, I have enjoyed going on all these adventures with you to Spain and Thailand and everywhere else, and I want to go on a lot more adventures with you.”

At this point, he started pulling out a box and I gasped.

He got down on one knee and asked me to marry him (and I gasped again) and said “is this really happening?!” Then I said yes! I put the ring on and stared at him, and about 10 seconds later some ladies walked by and I yelled over “He just asked me to marry him!!!!!”. They came over excited to see the ring and take our picture.

engagement ring & lighthouse

Picture I texted to my sister with no message – boy did she call fast!

Was I expecting it? No, definitely not! We talked last week about getting married and David asked if I had any idea of what kind of ring I might like. I hadn’t the foggiest idea and figured we’d spend a few months browsing. This is a man who is late to everything and a woman who has serious analysis paralysis decision-making problems. He had already gotten the ring when he asked!

David’s point of view:

A few people have asked me if proposing was a difficult thing to do. But the way I see it, I only had to follow a few simple steps:

  1. Get a ring
  2. Ask Jenny’s parents
  3. Get on one knee
  4. Don’t pee my pants

Getting the ring actually was the most difficult part. I spent many weeks going to different jewelers and reading about different stones. Not being much of a traditionalist, I decided to go with a sapphire because it was unique and beautiful. Just like Jenny!

Asking Jenny’s parents wasn’t too hard because they are so great and have always been very welcoming to me. And asking Jenny was even easier because I knew that I loved her and wanted to be with her for the rest of my life. Well maybe it wasn’t that easy, but I knew it would all work out.

Solitaire diamond-cut sapphire – a rare tint of blue mounted onto a platinum ring. For the record, Princess Diana & Kate got sapphires!

After the proposal, we had about another 20 miles of bike riding to talk. We’ve already selected the date, location, dj, photographer, dresses and tuxes, and cake. Just kidding!! We’ll take it as it comes and just enjoy the excitement. We’re not very traditional (hell, we quit our jobs and moved to Thailand for 2 months) so don’t expect us to follow too many traditions.

Random musings:

  • We’re going to have two Moms, both named Dolores/Delores!!!
  • David will get to be an uncle.
  • Jenny will go from grandparentless to having two grandparents (though I wish Memere, Pepere, Vovo,and Vuvu were here for this!)
  • David will have sisters and brother-in-laws for the first time.
  • Jenny will be a big sister for the first time (meaning I can beat up Dan and give him noogies!)
  • We’re excited to begin this new adventure together and look forward to a lifetime of crazy adventures.
 
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Posted by on July 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

What if Money was No Object?

Some food for thought. What would YOU do if money was no object?

While everyone in our society doesn’t have the opportunity to just do what they’d like without regard to money, it’s still something to ponder and reflect on…If you were to die tomorrow, what regrets would you have?

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2013 in Lifestyle Design

 

30

My 30th birthday [sigh] was earlier this month. Of course, we had to celebrate it in style, over the course of over a week.

First, we ate cake.

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Triple layered, filled with hazelnut and fresh strawberry whipped cream.

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Then we went with a small group of friends to Giacomo’s in the North End, a highly recommended, always has a line out the door place. Hello butternut squash ravioli. Yum!

David gave me a hand painted picture of a whale, along with a gift cert to go on a whale watch.

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Since traveling is just sort of our thing, we headed to Puerto Rico for a long weekend. Packing up our backpacks and heading to the airport made us feel at home – like we were going back to our old lives. It felt comforting to go back to the simplicity of living out of a backpack and not worrying about much except being on the road.

Complete with bananas growing on our patio!

Complete with bananas growing on our patio!

We stayed in a small studio apartment is a residential area of San Juan, Ocean Park (found through AirBnB). The beach was a block away, and it came with bikes. We were both overwhelmingly happy getting up on a Saturday morning, putting on shorts and a tshirt, hopping on bikes, and cruising around looking at the ocean, so much greenness, and exploring our little neighborhood. There really is no better way to experience a place than on the saddle of a bike.

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If I were to summarize our short three day trip in three words they would be: beach, food, rainforest, and read. That’s pretty much all we did.

While we loved getting around on bikes, we also cruised around in our “little purple car”. We drove the hour southeast from San Juan to “El Yunque”, the only rainforest on “U.S. soil”. We were slightly underwhelmed (paved hike, no animals) but it was still nice to be in the forest. It was very green – and we saw bromeliads growing out the side of the trees – we have a potted one in our apartment.

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We went to a beachside bar to get a pre-dinner drink and appetizer, but due to a miscommunication, ridiculously slow service, and huge appetizers, it turned into dinner. We ended up next to a super friendly (i.e. drunk) guy from Nicaragua (Jorge), and he and David talked for a long time. He was pretty funny, and I think the Nicaraguan tourism council should hire him as an ambassador, as much of the conversation was centered around him telling us how wonderful Nicaragua is.

We ate mofongo relleno (stuffed shrimp mofongo), which is kind of like a cave built out of mashed up plantains filled with shrimp. They were delicious, but we accidentally ordered two, and they cost $19 each!

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Things to know about Puerto Rico: It’s a U.S. territory, so you don’t need a passport and you’re still in the U.S. when you go there (but, it has it’s own unique history). They use dollars and are really well developed, though the driving is a little insane. While Spanish is the first language, nearly everyone speaks English. When I spoke to people in Spanish, they just spoke back to me in English. Lastly, the prices of accomodations, food, and drink are pretty much the same as here in MA.

Thanks to my parents for giving birth to me so I could do all these fun things for my birthday!

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2013 in Travel

 

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Happy New Year – Blog Review

Thank you for visiting the blog and interacting with us in 2012. We’re looking forward to keeping up the blog – continuing themes of sabbatical taking/lifestyle design, goal setting, cooking, and travel.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 7 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2012 in Opportunity

 

Feel Like Makin’ Cakes!

This is a post by Jenny.

I’m a huge slacker in that I have about 4 blog entries bouncing around in my head – about my sabbatical, my new job, our Europe trip, pics, yearly goals, etc -  but have yet to leak them onto a keyboard. I’ve gotten swept up in the return to “normal” life. So, those will come someday…

I’ve been indulging my cake making hobby of late! If you’ve been following for a while, you’ll remember the cake I made myself for my 29th birthday.

I made my brother some delicious, though disastrous looking, cupcakes (chocolate with oreo whipped cream filling and butter cream frosting).

For a visual of me making these, picture midnight the day before Thanksgiving and the frosting bag exploding, sending watery frosting all over my mom's kitchen...

For a visual of me making these, picture midnight the day before Thanksgiving and the frosting bag exploding, sending watery frosting all over my mom’s kitchen…

Also made my sister a birthday cake (chocolate with hazelnut whipped cream filling and butter cream frosting), with a lot of help from David’s mom:

cake

At one point while putting the filling into the cake, the “dam” of frosting that holds the filling in broke open and filling started spilling out, with me and David’s mom trying to frantically stop it, with David nearby asking if he should get a straw and suck up the deluge.

Amazingly, it didn't explode when we cut it open!

Amazingly, it didn’t explode when we cut it open!

For Christmas I got a beginner cake making set, colors, pans, and a book. I want to make a lot of cakes to practice but don’t want to eat them, so I hope family and friends are ready to eat a lot of cake. I will take requests!

Lastly, we just booked a four day trip to Puerto Rico for my 30th birthday next month!!! Wahoo, beach here I come!

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2012 in Opportunity

 

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Observing Differences

This is a post by Jenny

While traveling in Portugal, Italy, and Spain, we noticed some big difference between Europe and the U.S. I would say some are for the better and some for the worse, but I’ll let you decide (with some of my own thoughts interjected in!).

“Chiuso per ferie”
In Italian, that means “closed for holiday”. For David and I, that became our mantra when we went somewhere that turned out to be closed. It is fairly common for businesses (esp restaurants) to close down for a few weeks or a month (usually August) to take a vacation. When we arrived in a small Tuscan hillside town, the first 10 businesses we walked by had “Chiuso per Ferie” signs up (which we quickly looked up in our translator). We were worried we wouldn’t be able to get anything to eat (luckily, the gelataria was open!).

On the one hand, it totally sucked for us and was annoying that things were closed. On the other hand, how awesome is it that closing up and chilling for a month is a cultural norm?! Along with being closed for vacation, businesses were usually closed for a couple of hours in the afternoon and on Sundays.  Americans seem to think it’s ridiculous/not economically sound, but how amazing would it be to think of yourself having a whole month off to recharge your batteries? Sundays devoted only to family and rest? Economic-ecoschnompic – I’ll take less money and productivity for more time for the things that matter in life (i.e. enjoying it!).

Supermercado
To save money, we did a fair amount of grocery shopping. You can’t touch the fruit with your hands – you’re supposed to wear a provided plastic glove. A lot of the local people arrived and departed with wheely cart things to transport their groceries, which are only used by old ladies and poor people in the U.S. And, it’s assumed that you will bring your own bags. They don’t put your stuff into bags unless you ask them to, and you pay for each plastic bag you take. How awesome is that? The bags are actually of high quality so you don’t need three of them for every item you buy, it encourages people to bring their own, and overall cuts down on waste!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fountains
We saw a plethora of public drinking fountains in all 3 countries we went to. They were used by tourists and locals alike – with people drinking out of them like a bubbler, and other people filling water bottles or large jugs (with some water being more coveted than others). Sure is refreshing, convenient, and cheap when you need something to drink!

Don’t mess with me when I’m hot and cranky! (and sunburnt?)

Air Conditioning

In this case, I would say I am a totally spoiled, intolerant American who can’t handle a little heat (and now I understand how the U.S. uses so much more energy than the rest of the world). Barely any places we visited in each country were air conditioned – except our hostels (which we intentionally got). In the US, almost all public places – museums, restaurants, stores, trains, buses, transport stations are air conditioned. You can easily just step in somewhere to cool off. That was not the case in Portugal, Italy, or Spain. And it was so hot, I almost died – and that’s after tolerating 100 degree humid weather in Cambodia. I want to be ok with not having much AC – saving so much energy and pollution – but sometimes, it’s just too hot and I want to eat indoors in a cold place instead of on a sweltering patio.

Showers & Toilets
If you’ve been following the blog, you might think I have an obsession with foreign bathrooms. I swear I don’t. It seems to be normal for the bathroom to have a toilet and a separate bidet. The shower head also is not a mounted to the wall, but rather a hose you can move around or mount in a hook – convenient for cleaning yourself and the shower!

Hello cycletrack for me and my bike!

Hello cycletrack for me and my bike!

 

Lots of bikes in Florence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transportation

The cars are all really small. Smart cars aren’t a weird spectacle like at home, and people with kids don’t feel the immediate need to have a huge van or SUV. The roads can be narrow and spaces tight, so small cars make sense (not to mention the astronomical price of gas, which I think is currently over $8/gallon). The train and bus systems are (mostly) reliable, efficient, and inexpensive. We were able to travel up and down all of Portugal – the whole country – by bus. I am ridiculously envious of Europes bus and train system – and how completely feasible it is to travel around the continent without a car.

We all know I LOVE BIKES. I love them. And so do Europeans apparently. In Florence, bikes were everywhere. In almost every city we visited in Spain, they had a bike share – San Sebastian, Barcelona, Valencia, and Bilboa. Santander had a bike path leading to the airport! Many cities we visited had bike infrastructure – separated paths exclusively for bikes, bike lanes, etc. People of all different types were on bikes. When we road to the market in Tuscany, the bike rack was full, and the old woman getting off her bike next to us had brought her cane with her! I can’t begin to talk about the envy I feel for the social integration and acceptance that bikes have in European society – anyone can ride, wearing whatever they want, on a bike of any working order – without a helmet. After being hit by a car three years ago and feeling like my helmet saved my life as I know it, I am a bit of a helmet fanatic. But I didn’t wear a helmet in Europe, and it felt ok – they don’t use them and their speeds and road/bike network design bikes minimize the danger of crashes. I’m in love with the idea of instead of wearing a helmet to protect your head for when you get into an accident, instead prevent that accident from happening in the first place…and I digress..

Midnight? Why not have a jazz band in the street?

Date/Time

The date is written with the day first, then the month, then the year. So today, November 14, 2012 is written as 14/11/12. I believe this is actually the norm all over the world except the US. I found myself easily transition into reading and writing the date this way (and found it foreign to write it 11/14/12 when I got home – how fast we adjust to something!).

The same was the case for the time. When spoken, the time is said the same way as in the U.S. – i.e. eight fifteen at night is said that way. However, in writing, they use a 24 hour clock – so instead of 8:15pm, the time is written as 20:15 – eliminating the need for am or pm. I adjusted to this pretty quickly, though I did find myself doing the math or getting confused in the afternoon and evening hours.

Beautiful outdoor cafes

Other

For women, at many of the beaches we visited, wearing a top at the beach is completely optional. There’s nothing weird or gawking about it. For men, bathing suit briefs or square cut shorts were normal as well.

Futbol (soccer) is super, ridiculously huge. And it was fun to watch and cheer on the home towns for the Super Copa when we were in Barcelona and Valencia (but it’s really all about Barca & Real Madrid).

 

Don’t get me wrong Boston, I love you, but oh Europe, how I miss you!

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2012 in Europe, Travel

 

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Europe by the Numbers

This is a post by Jenny.

Here is a rundown of our 2 month trip to Portugal, Italy, and Spain.

Green & Blue Lakes in Sao Miguel

Complete Itinerary:
Portugal: Sao Miguel (Azores), Lisboa, Salema, Lagos, Coimbra, Porto
Italy: Pisa, Cinque Terre, Florence, Siena, Tuscan Town (Certaldo)
Spain: Santander, San Sebastian, Barcelona, Valencia, Bilbao

Duration
Nights spent in Portugal: 24
Nights spent in Italy: 15
Nights spent in Spain: 19
Total trip length: 60 days

Flying
Number of airports: 9
Number of hours spent in airports: 16
Number of flights taken: 7
Number of hours spent on planes: 21
Longest flight:  8 hrs (Frankfurt, Germany to Boston)
Shortest flight: 57 minutes (Valencia to Santander)
Total amount of time dedicated to airplane travel: 37 hours (1.5 days)

Other transit:
Long distance buses: 9
Long distance trains: 4
(Great bus system in Portugal and Spain and train system in Italy!)

Times Clothes Washed in the Sink: Too many to count!

Accommodations:
Number of different places we slept: 18
Number of Shared Dorm rooms: 4
Longest Stay: 9 days at a B&B in Valencia (that didn’t offer bfast)
Shortest Stay: 1 day (Lagos, Pisa, Santander, Bilbao)

Money: Rough cost breakdowns (total for 2 people):

Flights total: $2164
– Flights to/from Europe: $1048 (one flight paid in frequent flyer miles)
– Flights around Europe: $1116

Travel insurance: $308

ATM fees: $0! (thanks to Rockland Trust!)

Cash/credit cards (covers food, gifts, activities, hotels etc): $9306
Total cost for 2 people:$11,778

Total cost per person: $5,889
Total daily cost per person per day: $98

“When it is good, we call it gelato. When it is bad, we call it icecream.” – Cooking Instructor

Random:
Estimated Number of gelato cones eaten: 27
Number of blog entries written: 10
Cooking classes taken: 3
Bikes ridden: 4 + about 50 bikeshare bikes in Valencia

Pizza making in Florence!

Liters of wine drank…

 

The number of pastries eaten: You don’t want to know, but I will tell you that Portuguese bakeries are KILLER!

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2012 in Europe, Travel

 

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We’re Back! – Reverse Culture Shock

This is a post by Jenny.

It’s great to be back in the US, especially after going to a walk-in clinic and getting antibiotics and eye drops to treat the sinus infection and conjunctivitis that have been nagging me for nearly three weeks. It’s fantastic to see and talk to my family and friends. My bed, filled with my favorite stuffed animals, was a welcome sight. At the same time as all of this joy, I feel a bit disoriented and a sense of loss – mourning the end of the life I’ve been living for the last 8 months.

Ruminating on that…

David and I spent 60 days straight together, with only a handful of hours apart while he went for a walk on his own or I went shopping. It feels weird to be alone so much and not even see each other some days (our apartment isn’t ready yet so we’re each living at our parents at the moment). Aren’t you sick of each other? Surprisingly not!

In the countries we were in, the sun didn’t rise until about 7:30a, and didn’t fully set until about 9p. It’s depressing and disorienting that it’s fully dark here by 7:30p. The time zone change also had both of us waking up at 6am for several days.

In Spain, every evening we went for a paseo (walk) around 9ish and ate dinner sometime between 9:30-11p. Yesterday I was completely done with dinner by 6:15p – four hours earlier than what’s become normal. I’ve had a strolling walk most of the days, but it’s just not quite the same in my parents’ suburban neighborhood versus bustling, beautiful Valencia.

My first day back at work was yesterday. Taking the train up from Attleboro, it felt odd popping out in South Station and seeing all the modern skyscrapers – I sort of stared up at them in awe. While waiting for the train and on it, I sheepishly grinned to myself about my excitement of being able to casually talk to strangers and understanding strangers talking to each other after months of working myself up to talk to people in foreign languages.

The endless options are both overwhelming and exciting. 10 pairs of shoes to choose from when I’m used to 2? 20 pairs of earrings when I’ve had access to 4? And a closetful of clothing when all I’ve had is a small backpack with a handful of shirts?! The options are nice, but I also miss the simplicity of having so few choices. The same goes for food – great, yet dangerous, to have a [free] fridge and pantry at my disposal!

Along that same vein in the issue of having a lot of stuff. Luckily, my current frame of mind is to reduce my material possessions after surviving with so little for so long. This is greatly helping me as I go through all of my stuff to try to clean and organize my parents’ basement in anticipation of moving!

I’m generally a bike helmet fanatic (after getting hit by a car a few years ago). Through all our bike riding in Europe, there were no helmets even available. I slowly got used to riding without one. Getting on a bike for the first time yesterday, I felt like my helmet was an unwelcomed, foreign accessory – as opposed to being part of me like it used to be. However, this won’t change – I will always ride with my helmet while stateside. It did give me pause – helmets are to protect you for when your head hits something hard – but they aren’t the answer to bike safety – it should be about preventing what causes your head to hit something in the first place….

Well, being home and back to work, it’s already starting to feel like I never left. The “how was your trip?” questions will start to end and life will be ‘normal’. Have any tips on how to avoid feeling like our great adventures never happened?

P.S. we have several more great entries in the works- including a smattering of photos, details of the tomatina, cooking classes, some differences we observed, and a run down of the trip by the numbers – stay tuned!

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2012 in Europe, Travel

 

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