Posts Tagged weather

Why is Travel so Stressful?

Invariably, Mr. HalfFull and I will end up in a fight before trip. This is our pattern, and we know it.

napping in the park

Mr. HalfFull is an expert chillaxilizer wherever he goes.

HalfFull vs. HalfEmpty Prep

I think this unfortunate routine stems from our HalfFull and HalfEmpty tendencies. I am a planner, who likes to optimize for all contingencies. On the other hand, Mr. HalfFull likes to relax and figure it out as he goes (or not…no biggie).

For me, it’s stressful to think of and strategize for all possibilities. It’s even more taxing when I feel like I am the only responsible party with the entire burden.

I think Mr. HalfFull’s lack of stress makes me doubly stressed. Even though I know it’s not his modus operandi, I try to spur him into action. This exercise in futility further irritates me. Rinse, repeat.

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Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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Baby, I’m Back!

Did you miss me? I missed you too. Yes, both of you!

Fantasy Football Draft

My brother and Mr. HalfFull drafted a San Diego Chargers player, so of course the jerseys came out for additional shenanigans. Too bad you can’t see Mr. HalfFull’s ridiculous championship ring in this photo. The commissioner wears three massive rings, so don’t start a fight with him during the draft!

Realistically, I knew I hadn’t blogged here in quite a while. But it really hit home last weekend before Mr. HalfFull’s Fantasy Football Draft.

He and his crazy friends do a live draft every year. One year, three of the guys (and some wives, including me) flew to Indiana for the draft!

But this year, the draft was at our house. Before the appointed draft time, I went out to dinner with the guys (and then disappeared until the following morning to spare my sensibilities). As we were chatting and catching up over dinner, my husband’s friend said that he reads my blog…or rather, he used to read it when I posted. Woah!

Two things struck me during this conversation. First, on the half full side, it’s awesome to have a third reader! Now I can address my readers as “all of you” instead of “both of you.” The second overwhelming feeling was embarrassment at my dearth of blog posts.

Posting Apathy

Why haven’t I posted more regularly? Well, there are lots of reasons.

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Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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Filling Ms. HalfEmpty’s Duffel

Packing can be quite stressful (particularly for the HalfEmpty mind), especially when you (1) are not sure exactly what to expect – which I suppose is part of the charm of our 30/40 World Tour, (2) will encounter multiple climates, and (3) are packing for 10 weeks. Here’s what made it into my luggage:

    • electronics (guess this makes us flashpackers)
      Cables & Chargers

      Jumble of cables and chargers for our electronics

      • netbook with charger and protective sleeve
      • digital camera with charger and computer cable
      • external hard drive with charger, computer cable, and protective sleeve (mainly for photo backup)*
      • universal travel adapter
      • iPod and computer charging cable
      • 2 sets of ear buds
      • audio splitter (so we can both listen to the iPod or computer at the same time)
      • thumb drive (to store copies of travel documents in case netbook disappears)
    • paper
      • passport (duh!)
      • paper copy of passport (stored in a different place than the original passport, in case it disappears)
      • leather binder planner (Yes, I still use an analog planner, which comes in handy when I don’t have internet access or electricity! My planner NEVER runs out of batteries.)
      • printed spreadsheet of all flight reservations (This has been invaluable each time we check in and they want to ensure we will not be squatters in the next country.)
      • paper flight ticket (Air Mauritius has not converted to electronic tickets yet)
      • Fijian hotel hut voucher (yep, the outer islands still require paper too)
      • Fijian sailboat cruise voucher
      • Australian bus safari vouchers
      • checkbook registers (stop laughing, yes I’m still analog [Mr. HalfFull shakes his head] and keep track of these things)
      • 3 empty envelopes (for receipts since some countries refund your sales tax at the airport, and since I scrutinize credit card statements)
    • wallet
      • International Student Identification Card (ISIC)
      • driver’s license (for New Zealand car rental)
      • credit cards (called each credit card company to alert them of our travel and learned that my foreign conversion fees range from 0% to 3%)
      • American cash (we’ll get foreign currency from ATMs in each country, but it’s nice to have small bills for tips)
    • clothing for Ms. HalfEmpty
        • shoes

          Two pairs of shoes for 10 weeks, and no heels!

          • hiking shoes with high-arch support insoles
          • convertible sandals with removable heel strap
        • bottoms
          • jeans
          • convertible pants that zip into shorts
          • khaki shorts
        • tops
            • 2 dry-fit t-shirts

          Clothes for hot and cold climates to last 10 weeks!

          • graphic t-shirt
          • dressier short-sleeve shirt with top buttons
          • sexy/fun/flowy shirt with undershirt (to allow me to dress up a bit and minimize my mom’s embarrassment!)
          • 2 long-sleeve dry-fit t-shirts (already came in handy in Fijian tribal village where I was required to cover my elbows and knees)
        • dress (dry-fit material that packs well and somehow looks amazingly dressy)
        • black merino wool scarf/shawl
        • pajamas
        • undergarments
          • 3 pairs of black underwear
          • 3 bras (white racer back, black regular, nude push-up)
          • sports bra
          • technical long-johns
        • socks
          • wool ski socks
          • 3 pairs of athletic ankle socks
          • 1 pair of crew technical socks



        • beachwear
          • athletic bikini (Speedo found for $15 at local Virginia swim shop…score!)
          • halter bikini
          • top half of bikini (packed this by mistake because it was tucked into halter bikini, but the back clasp came in handy for my massage on the beach)
          • quick dry shorts
          • tank top
          • visor
        • outerwear (can roll and secure these to outside of duffel when more space is needed)
          • rain jacket
          • fleece (funny to see this in bottom of bag while sweating in Fiji!)
          • gloves

      Duffel Bag

      Ms. HalfEmpty's packed duffel bag with outwear strapped to the outside

    • luggage
        • duffel bag with backpack straps (exact specs for American overhead compartments; Air Pacific disagreed, forcing me to check it…must admit it was nice not to lug bags around for hours at LAX)
        • day pack (about the size of my 11” netbook; easily fits under airplane seat with netbook, camera, chargers, planner, sunglasses, convertible pant legs, water bottle, hand sanitizer, iPod, ear buds, splitter, flight list, passorts, and snacks)*

          Day Pack

          Mini day pack with orange netbook sleeve tucked inside

        • dry pouch (small waterproof bag comes in handy anytime near water – sailing, pool, dock, rain, etc.)*
        • beach tote (rolls up to about 1×2 inches)*
        • small mesh zippered laundry bag (for storing dirty laundry and holding delicates in washer)
        • small toiletry bag*
        • 1-quart resealable plastic bag (to carry all my 3 oz. or smaller liquids/gels and make TSA happy; interestingly, we did get thanked in the screening line at Dulles airport)



    • toiletries
      • towel in pouch (these super absorbent towels pack tightly and come in a pouch that allows you to separate them from the rest of our gear when wet; can be hooked to the outside of our duffels)
      • sport sunscreen (our 3 oz. aerosol worked extremely well, but feels a bit sticky)
      • insect repellant (applied primarily around ankles, but at the end of the day we had to make peace with our sacrifice to the Fijian insect population…not too bad)
      • toothbrush with cover (Mr. HalfFull doesn’t believe in covers)
      • toothpaste
      • floss
      • disposable razors
      • shaving cream
      • deodorant (I wanted to pack my current deodorant, but Mr. HalfFull insisted that we have a new completely full one if it was going to take up all that space; so we went to the drug store at 9 PM the night before our flight)
      • solid shampoo bar (doesn’t count as a liquid…score!)*
      • hair moisturizer in flat packets (packets are super slim and helped with TSA liquid/gel requirements)*
      • leave-in conditioner in flat packets*
      • hair gel (transferred my normal gel into a 3 oz. travel bottle)
      • SPF 15 face lotion (transferred into 3 oz. travel bottle)
      • body lotion in flat packet
      • body butter
      • hand lotion in flat packets*
      • shower mousse (not critical, but was a new small container and will produce a nice lather without a washcloth or loofah)
      • face cleanser (super tiny containers)*
      • face exfoliant (another tiny container)*
      • blemish cream (why do we still get zits at 30 and 40-years-old???)
      • cotton swabs
      • feminine products
      • nail clippers
      • tweezers
      • 3 small binder clips (to seal open flat packets)
    • makeup
      • flat makeup samples: eyeshadow, lipstick, blush
      • mascara
      • eyelash curler
      • under eye concealer
      • perfume (in tiny sample tube)
    • hair accessories
      • 4 hair ties, 5 bobby pins, 2 hair clips (I opted to grow my hair for this trip since I’m sure I’ll need to throw it up often)
      • headband
    • medical
      • aspirin
      • anti-diarrhea pills*
      • small adhesive bandages
      • triple antibiotic ointment
    • other
      • sunglasses
      • snacks*
      • water bottle
      • laundry detergent (I wanted to use liquid detergent, but we ran out of space in the 1-quart bags, so we filled travel bottles with powder detergent and labeled them to avoid questions)
      • hand sanitizer
      • moist towelettes
      • headlamp (electricity shuts off at 10 PM on Likuri Island)*
      • S-biners (to clip items to the outside of our bags, like towels and dirty laundry)
      • metal cage and lock (cage expands to enclose entire duffel bag and can be secured to a permanent fixture)*


* Thanks to Rita & James, Mona, Patrick & Lisa, Susan, Maha, Miranda, and my mom for graciously providing items to outfit our trip!

You may be wondering why there are no books on the packing list.  I tried to pack the book I was currently reading, but Mr. HalfFull removed it, concluding that it was not worth the weight.  I still wish I had my physical book, but we do have audiobooks on the iPod.

Ms. HalfEmpty & Mr. HalfFull with luggage

Ms. HalfEmpty & Mr. HalfFull loaded up and ready to go!

It seemed like we packed minimally until I saw it enumerated in list form! But it did all fit in my carry-on duffel and mini day pack. I am a bit relieved that there will be no major clothing decisions this summer (South Pacific winter); I only have a limited number of combinations to cycle through. However, my mother is mortified by my lack of clothing. She doesn’t want us to look like hobos wearing the same outfit, especially in Spain where she says people love to dress up and be seen. But one of our packing lists advises, “Take half of what you think you need and twice as much money.” That’s sage advice! We won’t be stranded in the jungle all the time (even though it felt like it for the first few days), and can probably find whatever we may need on the road.

My mom drove us to the airport and sent us off with a bag of goodies. She found some delicious travel-size snacks (raisins, Larabars, and chocolate squares…lesson learned: don’t leave chocolate in mini day pack while napping in the warm California sun) and enclosed a note:

Dear Ms. HalfEmpty & Mr. HalfFull,

We wish you a great journey around the world, discovering the beauty in nature, cultures, and human behavior; cities and beaches, mountains and valleys, rivers and lakes, forests and deserts, and most of all yourselves and your inner souls. We will be following your blog and learning with you. This is an exciting time. We hope that you can cherish the little and big things. The journey is as important as each unique destination.

We will be thinking of you, praying that you are safe, connecting with the known and unknown, as you describe in your heroine journey.

Leave behind “the half” of everything. Lean on each other and enjoy the goodness of your togetherness. This adventure is a great opportunity. Have fun!

Mom & Dad

What an awesome farewell message! I’m not sure about leaving behind behind my half empty tendencies though. After all, who would write this blog???

  • Do you find packing stressful?
  • Did I pack too much? Too little? Just right?
  • Is fashion an important part of travel?
  • What travel item(s) do you have a hard time justifying? (for example: a stuffed animal)
  • Do you use toothbrush covers?
  • Are physical books worth their weight?
  • How do you feel about the TSA liquid/gel limits?
  • What advice would you give to someone embarking on a long quest?






Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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Fiji Time

Air Pacific

Our Air Pacific flight landed early in the morning in Nadi, Fiji

Bula everybody!” I probably should apologize for not posting since leaving the United States, but actually I’m on time. Let me explain. Within an hour after setting foot on the main island of Viti Levu, we were quickly indoctrinated to Fiji time. As we learned repeatedly, there is “your time” and “Fiji time.” When the 9:30 AM boat to Likuri Island motors up to the rickety wooden jetty at 10:45 AM, it’s on time in Fiji time. When we were told to be ready for snorkeling in 2 minutes, about an hour later we’d board the dingy headed to the reef.  Thus, we would often clarify if a stated time was our time or Fiji time. This blog post is right on schedule, considering I’m on Fiji time!

Island Lodge 4

Our lodge -- perhaps the most opulent hut on Likuri Island

We roughed it a bit more than I expected at the beginning of our 30/40 World Tour. Mr. HalfFull offered to book our Fiji accommodations, which seemed awesome until I realized that he considers me to be Ms. HalfRugged. This week taught me that I’m a little more resilient than anticipated, but perhaps only a quarter rugged.  In fact, my new found rugged side felt like we were totally wimping out by checking into a posh hotel for our last night in Fiji.


Our chic bathroom at Sofitel

This guilt quickly subsided as I enjoyed my first hot shower since leaving the safe confines of Northern Virginia. It felt so luxurious! Mr. HalfFull was even able to do our laundry (not in the shower). Plus, we experienced feeling cold again in air conditioning, which will hopefully help us transition to the winter temperatures in New Zealand.  (We’ll have to remind ourselves of the heat and mosquitoes while shivering next week!)  And of course, my favorite treat was freshly brewed coffee! I’ve been making do with instant coffee since arriving in Fiji, so I really savored the perfectly prepared cappuccino after dinner. It was glorious!

Bush Walk

Local Fijian took us on a bush walk to search for coconuts

Our travel misadventures began shortly after leaving the airport in Nadi, Fiji, but I’ll have to fill you in after we get settled into Auckland, New Zealand.  Suffice it to say, the overarching theme of our week has been the friendliness and generosity of the locals – pedestrians in Nadi, Hindi taxi drivers, fisher-women at the dock, tribal villagers, pretty much everyone. The landscape is certainly breathtaking, but the Bula spirit truly sets Fiji apart. We have been welcomed into the family with huge smiles (some with more teeth than others). The Fijians have certainly set the hospitality bar high for the rest of our quest. For now, here’s a small batch of my favorite photos, each of which has a story from our first week in Fiji.

View from Likuri Island

View from Likuri Island; these awesome sitting hammocks are made in Fiji

Bonfire on Likuri Island

Bonfire lit singers to welcome boat of dinner guests

Warrior Paint

Mr. HalfFull was invited to go native with warrior paint

Dance show

Evening show included dancing, machete twirling, and even fire dancing (in an amphitheater made of highly flammable dried coconut leaves)

Ms. HalfEmpty eats breakfast

Ms. HalfEmpty eats cereal by headlamp because electricity is off until 7 AM, but we had to catch the 6:30 AM staff boat (with the island's trash bags)

Sunset on Drawaqa Island

View from Sunset Beach on Drawaqa Island (it's not just a clever name)

Mr. HalfFull atop Drawaqa Island

Mr. HalfFull (sans warrior paint) practices machete dancing atop Drawaqa Island

View of sailboat from village

View of our 108 ft. sailboat from the tribal village island we visited for a kava ceremony and dancing

Native Fijian village

Native Fijian village in Yasawa Islands

Vinaka vakalevu!
(Thank you very much!)

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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Who goes skiing for Spring Break???

Only a half full thinker would consider going skiing in the mid-Atlantic for Spring Break.  To top it off, the DC area even had an 80°F day in March.  But Mr. HalfFull convinced me that even if it was too warm to ski, we would still have fun.  So we set our expectations low, but still hoped for a ski opportunity.

As we were driving to West Virginia, the temperature gauge in the car read 75°F.  Had we made a horrible mistake?  We didn’t spot even a patch of snow on the entire drive up the lush green mountain.  At the top of the mountain, it was 55°F.  But in true half full fashion, we went to get our ski rentals (which were free that day since it was so late in the afternoon) and hit the slopes!  We got our ski legs back with about an hour of skiing before the lifts closed.  We also didn’t have to bundle up; I don’t think I’ve ever skied in such light layers!

Morning view of the slopes from our condo

Morning view of the slopes from our condo

The day we arrived was warm, but the temperatures dropped significantly during the rest of the week, and you could barely tell it was spring.  It certainly felt cold and windy out there!  We even got two days of new snow including one the day after we arrived, where we woke up to a beautiful view from our condo.

When we booked the trip, we also booked discount lift tickets with our package, but later found out that we each got 5 days of free lift tickets since it was the end of the season and we had booked lodging on the mountain.  Sweet!  When I went to rent my demo skis, I was expecting them to cost $35/day for value season pricing, but they only cost me $16/day.  Another awesome deal!

Ms. HalfFull drinks coffee by the fire

Ms. HalfFull enjoys her tall skim latte by the fire

I got to start my days out with Starbuck’s coffee by the fire before hitting the slopes.  I did not bring my half full/half empty mug on the trip, so I didn’t have to decide which side to use.  But coffee was great fuel for my ski days (and all days).

Mr. HalfFull skiing

Mr. HalfFull on the slopes

The vacation was only Mr. HalfFull’s second ski trip ever, but he was impressive!  Look at him skiing parallel down the slope like a pro.  He must have had a wonderful, yet humble teacher (Ms. HalfEmpty). I had fun on the slopes too, and even caught a little air that Mr. HalfFull was able to capture.

Ms. HalfEmpty airborne after a ski jump

Ms. HalfEmpty catches some air

We got to see some interesting ski apparel on the slopes.  The kids were all dressed quite well, but we saw several adults with jeans or sweat pants that were visibly soaked.  I’ve never seen that in Colorado, perhaps it’s a West Virginia thing.  But it makes me wonder if we will be able to rent ski clothing in New Zealand since we will be unable to carry our own.  Of course you can rent uncomfortable boots and decent skis anywhere, but what about the clothing?  We’ll have to see.  But if skiing isn’t in the cards for us in New Zealand, at least we got to ski once this season!

Western Territory view

Spring Break, Western Territory style!

Since Mr. HalfFull and I are at different ski levels, we did not spend all of our time together on the slopes.  Sometimes I would venture off to the Western Territory (accessible by taking your skis off and carrying them across the main mountain road), which only has black and double black terrain.  The slopes were not crowded, so in general, if you were skiing alone, you rode the lift alone.  However, at one point in the Western Territory, which is even less crowded than the regular ski area, a guy asked if he could ride with me.  There was no line and it was a long ride up, so it seemed a bit strange, but we ended up riding together.  I found out that this guy was from my area (just a few towns away) and was quite a character.  I had watched him ski down the double black terrain with ease despite the ice, so I knew he was a good skier.  I also learned that he had gone bull riding the previous week in Dallas!  Apparently it was his first time, but he won the invitational competition, to the dismay of the professional cowboys.  He explained that it was a real bull, he got thrown seven times, and he had lots of bruises despite protective clothing.  I also learned that he was flying to Jackson Hole to ski the following day, so he was just in WV getting warmed up.

snow on trees in Western Territory

Snow covered trees in Wild & Wonderful West Virginia made it feel like winter

In between bragging about his skiing and bull riding exploits, he complained about the snow in WV.  He was hoping for 11 inches of snow, but they only got about 2, so he felt like he wasted money by paying for lodging on the mountain and getting a free ski day.  Some people just can’t be happy.  Mr. HalfFull and I were thrilled that we had gotten to make first tracks in the powder that morning.  It was a nice dusting of winter on top of the groomed snow and we waited with excitement for ski patrol to pull off the ropes at 9 AM!  However, the snow did not do much for the Western Territory, it got even icier with the cold temperatures and was just a light dusting of powder that blew around on top of the steep ice.  So I see Mr. BullRider’s point, but I was happy for any snow and thoroughly enjoyed first tracks!

On Saturday the lift lines got a bit crowded, but people didn’t seem to understand the concept of joining groups and the lift operators did not see that as part of their job description.  Out West, they have specific lines for singles, doubles, triples, quadruples and the lift operators beautifully orchestrate the traffic patterns to keep the lines moving fairly.  But in WV, it was a free for all.  To make matters worse, they put the singles line farthest from the lift, which made no sense at all.  The point of the singles line is to jump in easily when a chair has an extra spot or two, so you need to be close to the front to do that.

I tried to jump in where I could.  On one lift that serviced mostly black terrain, but did have a green route, I asked a couple (male and female boarders) if I could join them.  For the first time in my life, they said no!  I was really surprised and I guess I looked it, so the guy followed up with, “We’re more comfortable just the two of us…we might fall.”  So it was hard to tell if they just wanted to be alone on the lift as a romantic couple of if they were new snowboarders who didn’t have much control exiting the lift.  But it was a four person lift and they were only two people.

After my lift line rejection, the two skiers behind that couple graciously let me ride with them.  I learned that one had driven from Indiana to pick up his buddy in Louisville, Kentucky.  He arrived in Louisville at 4:30 AM and got to the slopes that afternoon.  Woah, that’s quite a drive.  I’m pretty sure I would be asleep after that, not skiing.

pond skimming snowboarder makes it across the pond

Snowboarder skims across the pond as crowds cheer

Since it was the last weekend of the ski season, the resort had a pond skimming competition.  The staff created a small pond and groomed snow into a large hill near the pond for speed.  Many of the competitors wore costumes as they attempted to skim across the pond and jump out on the other side. Whenever a contestant had enough speed and balance to make it all the way across the pond, the crowd erupted in cheers.  It was especially exciting when some of the contestants were able to do 180° jumps off the final ledge of the pond.

Pond skiiming contestants

Costumed pond skimming contestants

Some of our favorite costumes were a sumo wrestler, half-naked cowboy, sword wielding Caesar, gorilla, 2 hot dogs (a kid and an adult armed with what Mr. HalfFull tells me was a “beer bong”), Teletubbie, and old man with cane.  The sumo wrestler turned around backwards before entering the water, which didn’t give him enough speed to skim the pond and his costume deflated underwater.

hot dog contestant

HalfEmpty Hot Dog descends the slope on his way to the pond (note oversized costume)

A little kid in a hot dog costume was super cute, but did not have enough speed to skim the pond either.  He ended up sinking and was short enough that he was completely submerged with the weight of a snowboard pulling him down.  To top it off, his hot dog costume had a lot of space at the top between his head and the top of the hot dog.  When he went under water, his head got lost in the costume.  When he didn’t resurface, a ski patrol woman jumped in to pull his head out of the water and then rifle through the costume to find his head and drag him to the side of the water where others lifted him out.  Scary!  Lesson learned:  if you find yourself dressed as an extra long hot dog, steer clear of the water or resize to fit the bun.

cowboy with guns prepares to skim the pond on skis

HalfNaked Cowboy with cap guns blazin' prepares to skim the pond

Mr. HalfFull especially enjoyed the scantily clad cowboy as he did his run with orange cap guns blazing into the air!

It turned out to be a fun half full trip with some interesting characters and a few surprises.








  • How do you manage expectations when the weather may not cooperate with your trip plans?
  • Would you ski without appropriate pants or in a hot dog bun?
  • Have you ever rented ski clothing?
  • Do you enjoy riding with strangers on the chair lift?
  • What would you wear if you were in a pond skimming contest?

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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