aka: Shannon's Shananigan's (Since there seems to be less & less knitting and more Shananigan-ing going on as of late and well, let's face it, she's just going to always be a techygeekgirl!!)

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Summer of Shannon

The other night while I was running, I decided that Summer 2008 would be the "Summer of Shannon"

Now, let me clarify a bit. (because it sounds a little conceited...)

The last couple of months away have lent myself to really look at what I've been doing with my life, how I've been acting/reacting and where I am going. I realized that I have been doing a lot of standing on the sidelines and watching life go by. Or standing there being a "Debbie Downer" or complaining about things, rather than doing something about it.

No more. That era is done. Things are going to change.

If Ican navigate myself through 4 airports in 3 different countries in a period of 24 hours, this should be easy. I've been self-sufficient in a country where English is NOT a primary language and have 1500 pictures to prove it. And I drove on the German Autobahn with no speed limit...

So the plan is to get back to the point where I am happy with myself again. It's been a while and I've come a long way...just a few more things to get through and we're there.

I want to get in touch with friends and spend more time with them. I keep saying that and have every intention of it, but "time" gets in the way. This week I went out with several groups of friends and had a blast. I need to just do it more often! The same thing with my family. I have 3 sibs and 3 in-laws that live in town - get to know them better!

And I would love to explore the US more. I saw 4 countries in 4 weeks...there is nothing that says I have to stay in MO for the summer. There are so many cute towns and cool places to visit just in the Midwest! And relatives in many of them, so even more opportunities for visits!

My house needs some work. I have a guy mowing the lawn, so I should have more time to plant flowers, work on the deck and finish some of the rooms inside. There are some more touches that can be made - let's get it going!

Me. I started on my quest to lose weight a year ago and successfully lost 15 lbs. It's not enough. I still am not in the shape I want to be in. So I think I'm going to make some goals. There is a mini-Triathalon in Kirkwood on July 27. It will be tough, but I think I'm up for it. I just need to make the commitments and train for it. It's doable. I have a lot of support. (though no one has stepped up to do it with me...) And I just bought a new pair of shoes and running gear. I think I am up for the challenge and my health (and hopefully the sexy -skinny me) will be better for it!

And if it ends up that someone wants to be part of my life, then all the better. They say that you have to be happy with you before you can be happy with someone else. I finally see what they are talking about, I think. It's tough (6 people in my office are engaged right now!) and I have met some great people as of late (one of which I would love to get to know better!). But it's not in my control. I have to trust that all will work out the way God intended it. All I have control over is my actions and reactions and I'm trying to do better there too.

So there it is. The plan. A list if you will. (are you surprised Kerin?)

The Summer of Shannon has begun...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Feels Like Coming Home

I'm all packed. Finally. Wasn't sure there for a while, but I emptied everything out and repacked it. Still not sure how I'm going to make it to the Zurich airport with 2 checked and 2 carry on bags, but we'll see! And I'm sure I'll be paying extra for weight too... Oh well!

I'm sitting here thinking about going to bed and getting antsy to talk to someone, anyone! I've been an emotional trainwreck this week and it's finally catching up with me. I'm going to miss being here, but I am truly ready to go home. (I actually started a list of things I liked/disliked about being here...for a later date!)

The travel is the toughest part about going home. I am so excited to go, but so dread the long flight, bad food, layover, weather, flying, etc. If they ever perfect "beaming" a la StarTrek, I'm so there! I'm anxious to get there, but have to go through this to get there...

Anyway, I'm looking forward to the Summer in STL. (I know I keep saying that, but it's so true!) I have no clue what I am doing or whatever, but it's home!!!

So I better get to bed, in case I have the screaming kids or perpetual hitter with the cold by me tomorrow. See you on the flip side...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

There Are No Kanagroos In Austria

Just got back from Salzburg, Austria a little bit ago. It was absolutely fantastic! We drove up Friday afternoon and left about 10am this morning. The drive was about 6 hours, but the view was spectacular, as always. And we packed a TON of stuff in the 2 days were were there.
We stayed in a Bed & Breakfast in Salzburg:

It was a little off the beaten path, but it was just right for us. All 5 of us were able to sleep comfortably and the room was rather reasonable for the area. In order to get to the main part of the city, we had to walk down the street, up/down a hill, then through this tunnel:
which had a section for car traffic, then a separate pathway for foot and bike traffic. And there was a parking garage built right into it!

The first night we had dinner outside at a cafe that sat in front of Mozart's birthplace:
The food and bier was great and we totally lucked out on the weather. We even had apple struedel for dessert!
Saturday morning, we woke up and walked back into the city and found the information center which was across from the Residence Fountain that sits in Residenzplatz:
We also walked back to see Mozartplatz and the Mozart statue:
We then walked through the plaza of the Cathedral:
in order to get to the funicular to reach the Hohensalzburg Fortress (shown above Neptune's Fountain):
It was fun walking through the Fortress and seeing the view of the city. The sky was a little overcast, but not too bad for taking pictures.

After that, we walked over to Mirabell Garden. (Part of "The Sound of Music" was filmed there too):
And we visited the Bastion or Dwarves Garden:

Then had lunch in a little cafe along the Salzach River:
For the afternoon, we took a bus up to Untersberg to take the cable tram up to the top of the mountain:

It started raining right as we were getting up to the top, so the visibility was almost nothing. So we just took a couple of pictures and took the same tram down the mountain.
On the bus back to Salzburg, we stopped at the Hellbrun Gardens with the Trick Fountains. It was a guided tour through the garden. All of the features were built in the 17th century and are completely powered by water!
The Arch Bishop's Table:
The Mechanical Theater:
(I downloaded some of the motion fountains to my YOUTUBE account.)

We saw the Pavillion from "The Sound of Music":
and a beautiful flower garden:
After going back to the room for showers and some rest, we headed out to the Augustiner Braustubl. (St. Augustine Abbey Brewhouse):

It was great. Upstairs were there stands of all sorts of different foods for sale. We found cheeseburgers and fries!
Then downstairs was the brewhouse and you paid for what size you wanted. Grabbed a mug off the shelf:

Washed it out in ice cold water:
Then had the server pour it directly from the barrel that had been tapped. (Not actual size!)

After dinner we went outside to sit in the biergarten. It was a beautiful evening and the bier was cold and easy going down!

We rode the bus back home and crashed after that - it had been a long day!
We left at about 10am on Sunday and got to Basel at about 4pm. It was a long weekend, but absolutely fabulous! (Thanks Jill for planning & driving!)

I leave Basel for good on Thursday this week. I'm ready to get home and enjoy the summer in STL. I will start packing tonight and I'm a little nervous I'm going to forget something. Luckily there is still a group staying here, so if I need more chocolate or cookies, they can bring them home for me!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Whirlwind Switzerland Tour - Part II

Today was the second half of the "Europe" tour, since we had the car for the entire weekend. I did not drive today, which was a good thing. It got a little dicey in the mountains and I was OK being navigator. (though not a really good one...)

Captain Komo:

Our first stop was in Zermatt. This is one of the southernmost points in Switzerland, right next to the Italian border. A group of us actually went down there earlier this year, but we traveled by train. (Pictures from that trip are here)

In order to get to the valley where Zermatt is, we had to take the train. But it's a train where you drive onto the railcars:

And then ride in your car, on the train through the tunnel. It looks like this when we were riding: Completely pitch black!!

It was pretty exciting going by car, as we could drive all the way into the town of Tasch, then catch the 10 minute train shuttle into the town. Once we got through the pass, we had to drive down the rest of the way into the valley. The view down the mountain was spectactular!

Unfortunately, a storm was rolling in, so the mountain was mostly blocked by clouds. Here is what is looked like today:

You can just make out the peak of it through the clouds. And as we were finishing up pictures, it started to just pour rain, so it was a good thing that we did not try to go up to the top again.
After leaving Zermatt, we headed north to Luzern. I had not seen it at all and wanted to see a couple of the sites there. Chris had printed out maps and after some guessing and back-tracking, we ended up on what appeared to be the right road to get out of the valley and on our way. That is until we came to the road closed sign on the pass. It ended up we had to go "through" the mountain on the other side to get back out again, so we loaded onto the train and rode it again. It was a bit longer trip this time, but interesting nonetheless.

This pass dumped us out a little higher in the mountains and it was noticeable change from the other mountainous areas we had been in. The houses were made of stone, not wood, there was much more snow and hardly any trees. And we had to go down the mountain further to get to the highway. The scene again was breathtaking:

We made it into Luzern at about 6pm, which gave us just enough time to see the sites that we wanted to see. Luckily it has been staying light here until after 9, so we had plenty of time.

We saw the Lion of Luzern monument. (Called: Lõwendenkmal in German)

And as my friend Lindsey said (quoted loosely...) "I do not believe that I have ever seen stone cry". It was amazing and very moving. And the longer you stand and look at it, the more details are picked up in it. Truly a site to see if you get the chance.

I also wanted to see the bridge over the lake/river in the old section of the town. It was built back in the 1400's and still had paintings from the 1700's in it. It was very pretty and the flowers were out along it too.

Last, but not least is Mount Pilatus, which is a backdrop to the town. It was impressive as well:

We got home at about 9pm and returned the car with over 1200 km additional on it! It was an exhausting, but fabulous weekend. (and I have over 270 pictures from the weekend to prove it!)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Whirlwind Europe Tour 08 - Part I

Just got in from "Castling" outside of Fussen, Germany. We visited the Neuschwanstein Castle which is the basis for the Disney Cinderella Castle. The walk up was about 30 minutes up hill, but the day was gorgeous, as was the scenery. The inside was magnificent as well and totally worth it. I was very pleased with the pictures with my new camera. I took a bunch and played with all the settings!

Pictures are below. I am incredibly tired and Part II starts tomorrow at 8am and I still want to shower before bed. I'll try to post pix from tomorrow when we get home...

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Is it the "Cubs Curse"?

Greetings from Basel. It's Wednesday night. I was supposed to be here Tuesday morning, but was delayed about 8 hours. I think it was the Cubs be the judge!

So this all started late last week, when I was joking with my friend JR who is a die-hard Cubs fan over the Cards/Cubs games this past weekend. A wager was set over the outcome of the series. (ok, it got a little racy towards the end, but it was a good bet!)

After splitting the series and a nail-biter mid-way through the 5th, the Cards handily won the series, thus I won the bet. (thank goodness - see the note above!) My parents were at the game and I stayed at their house and watched it on TV, Life was good.

Come Monday morning, I was scheduled to leave for my last trip to Basel on this project. The sun was shining, not a cloud in the sky. I got up, went running, ate a good breakfast, MA took me to the airport, Life Is Good, right...yeah, not so fast...

My flight to NYC was great. No major turbulence, sunny skies, got in on time, etc. I was able to enjoy a nice lunch, catch up with some friends online, etc. All was well.

I got my flight to Zurich. I was in a row to myself, though surrounded by about 20 kids under the age of 12. (turns out a lot of families were headed to Tel Aviv via Zurich for the 60th anniversary of Israel this week...) I figured they would settle down after the meal and it got dark, so that was fine.

Until we sat there for an HOUR after the time we were supposed to take off.
Then they had us get off the plane due to maintenance.
Then 15 minutes later, they cancelled the flight.

At this time, I was on the phone with JR, who reminded me that because I had won the bet, that the Cubs Curse was out to get me. Apparently I had upset the universe and it was "righting" itself at that time. This was NOT a good sign of things to come!

Since I have Platinum status on AA, I was able to get in that ticket line and get rerouted through London to Zurich that night, instead of having to wait 24 hours for the same flight, the next day. The trick was that I had to get my luggage, which was stuck in customs to British Airways 1 hour before departure, or they would not let me or my luggage fly! I made that by about 10 minutes and got on the flight. It was completely full, but I liked it better than AA - individual screens on the seats, they give you masks and socks,etc and the alcohol was complimentry! The flight was a tad bit shorter too, and I got to hang out in the infamous new Terminal 5, which was cool, even though I was a mess and everything was uber expensive! (I got some magnets and Westie stuff though...)

I finally got to Zurich at about 2:30 in the afternoon and to my apartment in Basel at about 6. It was a long 2 days and I was ready to shower, eat & crash. I did arrive with all my luggage, so I was ahead of the game in some respects...

So, yeah, I think it was the universe getting back at me for betting against the Cubs. Still don't regret the bet and have every intention of collecting on that bet. (Hey JR - not kidding about dessert too for this one!)

And there is a good chance that I'll make it again 3 more times this year, when the Cards/Cubs play again. I think I'll take that chance....Feeling good about my boys this year!!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Lighten Up Already, Will Ya??

It came to my attention this week that I was being such a "Debbie Downer" on my last trip to Switzerland. (Really, this came to me all by myself...though a couple of trusted friends did not argue with me when I said it!).

To those of you who that effected - I apologize profusely. That was not my intent, nor do I have a clue what caused that, though I could probably come up with some good guesses. Needless to say, about 24 hours back at home kicked that, and I think for good.

This week has been fun. I have been able to catch up with some friends I haven't seen in a while, ate Mexican a couple times, saw a great Cardinal's game, made a great bet on the Cards/Cubs games and WON!, ran a 5k in 38 minutes and found someone to mow my lawn. I was a little bummed that I would not be going back over during the Summer, but after getting a little taste of Summer in da 'Lou, I AM happy to be coming home. There will be a lot going on here and I'm excited to be able to be part of it. LIFE IS GOOD!

I've come to some revelations about myself lately too. Like, I need to make sure that I'm happy with me and what I'm doing. AND focus on making sure that I don't take myself too seriously. I think it's been coming out in all the wrong places and is not working for me. There are so many parts of my life I can control - I need to focus on that. Worrying about the stuff I cannot control will not get me anywhere and is not worth the effort, really!! (um, Duh! - Yeah, I know...)

I want to travel more and see family/friends I have not seen in a while (This is your warning - I may be heading your way!!). I have work that needs to be done to the house that I would love to get to and keep running and hopefully swimming more. (Sounds like I'll be busy this summer!!)

Tomorrow I go back to Basel for my last trip this round. (Not sure if I'll go back later - I'm on the "maybe" list and will find out over the next months.) This will be a relatively short trip - only about 17 days vs. the 30 days I was last time. It will go fast and be fun. We have a couple of weekend trips planned to Austria and Germany, so it will be good.

To all of you I did not get to see this week, I will be back at the end of May and I look forward to seeing you soon!!