All posts by Nina

Super Bowl XLVIII

43-8.

Seattle Seahawks really kicked Denver Broncos in Super Bowl today. While I am a huge Seahawks fan and couldn’t be happier about the Big Win, the game itself was uneventful…. touchdown after touchdown for the team that really  wanted  to win, while Broncos looked like they were not even supposed to be playing tonight.
For some reason the whole game was less “everything” compared to the earlier years. Halftime show was boring, commercials were nothing fancy – except Budweiser’s but they always know how make perfect commercials for big events. In fact Star-Spangled Banner was the best part of this year’s game. Hands down.

Opera singer Renée Fleming had been invited to sing our National Anthem, and she did an awesome, amazing job. I don’t think I have ever heard any better version of it than her flawless, beautiful performance.

IMG_6595

Travel Stats

IMG_6595 Traveling is one my biggest passions ever. No week goes by without me planning a trip somewhere: near or far. And I consider myself extremely lucky since my husband shares this sense of adventure with me. Right now I have a giant pile of travel books on and under my desk – the planning for 2014 travels sure is on the high gear!  There just are so many awesome destinations in the world, and at the same time I need to work around the schedules and about a million other commitments – aka graduate studies that I have been making some slight changes with. Little patience, dear readers, I will share those changes with you as well in a few days. But shortly, my nights are filled with cells, chemistry and Darwin.

However, back to traveling….

Some of my favorite bloggers have recently been posting about their travels. So thanks to Jenni at Suurherttuan Vieraana,   Veera at Running With Wild Horses,  and Logic Tree for a great idea…. here we go, trivia about my travels. Feel free to copy the questions and share your travel stats! 

Number of countries I have visited?   I am going to let a picture to speak on my behalf. So I have seen only 37 countries ….. oh boy, I have so many to see still! 


Visited 37 countries (16.4%)
And here in the US we always love to talk about visited states too: so 95% of our states are now covered, 5 more to go!

Visited 45 states (90%)
 

What do I always travel with:   Credit card and photo gear. Usually my pro gear but at least the iPhone. No matter what. Obviously I’ll need the passport for going to foreign countries.

Why did you start travelling?   I don’t think I ever had a special reason for traveling: I always loved to see new places, visit different corners of the world. So I have been doing it for fun and for work – for a long time. I guess simply the reason is zest for adventures. When I was a little girl growing up, I dreamed of visiting World Famous San Diego Zoo and Kennedy Space Center…. yes, have been to both. Too many times.

Why do you travel alone? What are the positives and negatives to travelling alone?   I love to travel alone, or with my husband who is the best travel buddy ever. Obviously work trips are almost always solo travels but others – my husband is always welcome.

Other people, well, not so much. Sorry. I am really picky about my travel buddies.

I tend to be pretty adventurous and there is a good chance that I will ditch a travel buddy who doesn’t have the similar attitude. Traveling alone or with my husband, the positives are that we have company from each other, it is fun, we like similar kind of things so we always do and see what we want to. My husband is my best friend, no doubt. And when on the road alone, I can decide what to do and when. What mountain to climb and where to eat.

Negatives when traveling alone …. hmm, I don’t think there are any. Really. I am fluent in several languages so I always find my way through places and situations one way or another. I am social, so I have no hesitation to start chitchatting with strangers. And lastly, I am pretty good at taking care of myself: some self defense training and competing in it as well as excellent situational awareness can take a girl pretty far!

How traveling has changed your life?  Traveling has made me even more adventurous. It has probably made me more open-minded too. Most importantly, I have seen and done things that many people can only dream about, I have pushed my comfort zone about a million times.

What has been the strangest food you have tried on the road?   Snake maybe? Yeah, tastes like chicken. Really. And I  think I have eaten insects and such in China. My Mandarin skills were not quite enough to understand what I was always eating in the countryside, and probably better that way.

Have you ever been scared while traveling?  Not really although I have been at gunpoint, some dudes tried to rob me in Asia, others tried their luck in New York city years ago. Life is a daring adventure, or nothing.

Is there a country  you always go back to? Good ol’ US of A! Home is where the heart is.

Do you have specific packing rituals?  Packing list. I have packing lists for everything.

What is the most beautiful beach you have ever seen?  Bondi in Sydney Australia. It’s hard to beat that one. Although some beaches on Hawaiian islands are gorgeous too.

What was your first trip abroad?  With my family to Sweden.

5 travel things on your bucket list? Geesh, my bucket list for traveling is L-O-N-G but top-5 would be something along these lines: Antarctica, Galapagos, New Zealand, Argentina, Indonesia.

Is there any place in the world you are not interested in traveling to?   I am not too fond of Middle East, nor countries where women are not supposed to drive a car or are expected to cover their head.

What do you miss at home when on the road? My piano, our dog. And my husband if I am traveling alone.

Do you think you will ever settle down and if so, where would you see yourself doing so?   I have a great base camp in the midwest. One day when we retire, we might end up to Colorado. Or maybe stay in Tennessee. There are tons of options, so it is hard to say now. Except that it will be in the US.

What is your favorite airport and airline? United – hands down! If I lived in Asia, I would say Singapore Airlines…. but over here, United has always been amazing to me. My favorite is probably Chicago O’Hare. Although Pittsburgh is great for shopping. And Newark is not too bad either.

How many time zones have you been through in one week?  There has been some very busy weeks when I have traveled around the world in a week, so that makes, hmmm…. 24 time zones.

What is your favourite place you’ve been to and why?  This is the hardest question. There are so many great places that I absolutely adore – for different reasons. I do love Paris. It is magical to walk along the Seine in the fall when the weather cools down and tourists are gone. There is something special in New York – the fast pace and energy is addicting. And I have had absolutely amazing time in Australia…

Maybe one of my true favorite places is Val de Loire  (Loire river valley) in France: I love the old towns along the river, countryside feeling and amazingly friendly people. Oh, and wine is -ooohhhh- so good.

Piano getting packed.

What Is Military Life Like?

Someone asked me a while ago to write about the military life:  what is it like here in the US . There is so much to tell, so much to write. Hence, I am gonna make it a bit easier for myself, and throw a question back to you all – what do you want to know about the military life?

Shortly, military is a lifestyle and calling, way more than just a job. It is not something that people should choose “just because”  - the career gets pretty taxing very quickly if the heart is not in it. Furthermore, dealing with the organized  structure  of the military takes a certain kind of person to make it successful and rewarding. Lots of decisions are made for us, and there can be very slim chances to change them. Staying flexible and having an open mind helps  tremendously  to deal with the  uncertainty  that this life  brings  along. 

There is uncertainty related to everything in our life: duty stations, deployments, training schedules. Everything. Military families move frequently – every few years depending on the specialty, career phase, and most importantly the needs of the military dictate it all. Since 2001 the deployments have been frequent business for our service members. These “extended business trips” to foreign countries and combat zones can last anywhere from a few months to over a year. Separations are no fun at all but then on the other hand, in my opinion, they are part of the deal so it is better just to suck it up and carry on. My personal philosophy for life has always been to pick my battles wisely. There is no sense to spend time and energy by stressing and worrying over things that I can’t change. Maybe that’s why I don’t see the military life that much of a burden but instead, it is quite an adventure. The best way of living.

“I look forward to a great future for America – a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose.” ~John F. Kennedy

 

And after all, the amazing moments of homecomings and reuniting families make it all awesome. Just like these Super Bowl commercials so well show it. (Don’t miss The Game on Sunday – GO HAWKS!!)

But now the ball is on your court: what do you want to know about the military life?

 

Wow – Speechless

Quite a surprise this morning. Someone (thank you whoever-you-are) had added Adventures of the K Family to Travel Blog Awards competition in Finland, in the category “Paras USA blogi” – “The Best USA Blog”.

So feel free to vote by clicking the link below, select the “Paras USA blogi”, type in my blog’s name (Adventures of the K Family), URL (http://www.kfamilyadventures.com), your email address, and click “aanesta”. Also, don’t forget to glance through other blogs in the list. There are quite a few interesting stories from the US as well as around the world. Too bad that many of them are in Finnish though: my own Finnish skills have gotten pretty rusty, and I have to rely on Google Translate more often I would like to.

But regardless, check the link and vote!

 

Happiness Is Here and Now

“Life is made up of small pleasures. Happiness is made up of those tiny successes. The big ones come too infrequently. And if you don’t collect all these tiny successes, the big ones don’t really mean anything.” ~Norman Lear

How often do we try to look for the happiness? Look for something big – without realizing that the happiness is here and now. It is in our hands, right in front of us. So often we are chasing something bigger and better but there is something special in this moment.

Last weekend Jason and I headed out to a local park in Clarksville. Sun was shining, we had a lovely time, and the dog greatly enjoyed the exercise with us. Another perfect day in the paradise with the best company ever. I couldn’t be happier.

Life is here and now – embrace the moment.

IMG_1570

IMG_1577

IMG_1573

IMG_1580

 

“Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits.” ~Thomas Jefferson