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So, we’re down to our last month in the States.  We’ve got 2 more weeks in Wisconsin & then we’re off to North Carolina for another 2 weeks.  Our employers have been notified and the trip actually feels like it’s within reach! Here are some of the things we’ve been up to lately:

Moving:

We’ve been out of the apartment for about 2 weeks now & living with the senior Waller’s, aka Corey’s parents.  John, my father-in-law, and Jared, my brother-in-law, have made many improvements our old apartment & Corey even did a back-splash in the kitchen.

John & Jared are in the process of putting in a new floor

Corey’s back-splash in our old kitchen

Selling:

We’ve placed lots of items on Craig’s List – if you’re in the market for some furniture drop us a line.  Between that & the 3 rummage/moving sales, we’ve already made about $800.  Who knew & we’ve got 3 more days left to sell: today & next weekend.  Wish us luck!

moving sale

We’ve also made several (at least 15) trips to Good Will in the past month or so, which is where we’ll send most of the stuff we can’t sell before we leave.

Some photos from our 2nd rummage/moving sale

Need a bed or a desk set?

Buying:

I think we’re finally done with all of our trip purchases . . . Tickets to Bolivia? Check! Travel clothes & gear? Yup! Electronics? Squared away! Kindles books? Downloaded!  There are some items that need to be exchanged, but that can be taken care of in one quick trip to REI.

Skyping:

This is something that I’ve been anxious to do for a while now.  I spoke with a friend on Skype once, he was in South Korea & called me on my cell phone.  I wanted to make sure that we’d be tech-savy enough to make the call on our end.  Turns out that its super easy.  Got to talk to my parents yesterday & they could see & hear me!  Pretty cool considering that the last time we saw each other in person was almost 2 years ago!

Other Miscellaneous Trip Stuff:

We had a super fun photo shoot with our best gal pal Lisa!  She’s responsible for 3 of the 4 photos in our new blog banner and her photos are on our leave behind cards!

This is one of our favorites from the shoot!

Leave Behind Cards

The bank account we’ve been using for 5 years has been closed & we opened up an account with Charles Schwab.  After doing tons of research on banks, it became clear early on that we’d be going with Schwab.  All ATM fees will be reimbursed?  Heck Yeah!

We’ve purchased Inter-American driver’s licenses.  For just $15/license we can drive anywhere in South America.  We want to keep major cities as hubs & take day trips while we’re on the road.  Plus, it can’t hurt to have another form of ID.

Time’s flying and, for the most part, everything’s been running smoothly.  Right now we’re focusing on enjoying the time we have left with our loved ones & trying our best to get everything taken care of before we leave.  We can’t wait to hit the road & share our many mis-adventures with you . . . Happy Sunday!

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It was balanced when we put it up, but the kitties feel that the tree is their playground! See the little kitty in the corner?

I know we have been bad about blogging, but it wasn’t until my buddy Gillian sent me an email wondering how things have been that I knew it was time to drop a line.  Honestly, we’ve just been really, really busy!  I realize that’s no excuse for not staying on top of the blog, but that’s the problem with having a travel-oriented blog when we’re just saving right now. 😛 

Between work, Christmas shopping, planning for a trip to Raleigh and not to mention all the other normal parts of our daily routine – laundry, cooking, eating, sleeping, reading, crocheting – we’ve been busy & pretty exhausted as a result. 

Work, work, work: I have a huge project at work that needs to be done before we go out-of-town, so I’ve been working my butt off to make sure it gets done.  It’s not a very hard project, but it has me working in the vault, where there’s no insulation or heat, getting together contact information to send out invitations for a big event in February.  (If you’re new to this blog, then you should know that we live in Wisconsin & that we’ve been between 0 & 20 degrees F this past week – in other words it’s flippin’ cold back there!)  Then, there’s Corey with his 4, 10 hour days and his additional 8+ hour weekends tiling.  Friday was his 20th straight day of work!  I have no clue how he does it.  Luckily, that was his last tile job of the year & this week he only has to work Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday.

It hasn’t all been boring work stuff.  Here are some fun decoration photos.  Please note our ridiculous cats in the tree! 

Norma Jean

 

Silverstein

I made these cute little crochet ornaments, but the cats have decided that those are there only for their amusement!

Crochet Ornaments

On to the shopping portion: Shopping for my parents was easy.  We’re all so happy to see each other that the gift aspect really isn’t that important.  Can’t tell you what they’re getting, cause the read the blog!  Corey’s parents are another story.  We ask them what they want & they either say nothing or I’ll get back to you & never do.  So we end up hounding them for weeks until they finally make a decision.  And, that still leaves his brother, Jared & his aunt and you can’t forget that we also need to get at least 1 thing for each other.  This year we decided to get each other more Christmas presents than last year.  Last year we still hadn’t saved a dime, so in an attempt to get the ball rolling we decided to get our passports in order as a gift to each other.  This time around we put a $60 (ish) cap on the amount we could purchase on each other.  It’s always fun to get a surprise from your love on Christmas!

What’s a travel blog without a bit of travel?   We’ll be leaving for Raleigh on Christmas day.  My dad inadvertently taught me one of the best holiday travel secrets.  If you want to beat the crowds and have a better chance of getting to your destination on time, then you should travel on fill-in-the-holiday day!  The first time we went to Raleigh we left mid-week right after Christmas, thinking we’d be fine.  Boy were we wrong.  Our first flight was delayed, making us miss our second flight & flying to another city in hopes of catching the last flight from Newark to Raleigh.  Our original plan was to be in North Carolina at 1 PM, but we didn’t get there until 3 AM.  We would have made it there faster if we drove!  That’s not to say that everyone who flies on Christmas day travels worry/hassle free, but it seems to be a more relaxed bit of people traveling & in general the flights seem to be on time.  Anyway, we’ll spend this Christmas Eve at the Waller’s in WI & Christmas Day with the Davis family in NC. 

We hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!!!!

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(I realize that a book case, a cat and tile really do not go together, but random events took place last weekend & I wanted to share)

First off, we want to give a huge thanks to Mr. Waller, not my husband, but his pop, who refurbished this beautiful book-case for us! Isn’t it lovely! 

Also, here is an exact depiction of our fat cat, Silverstein, when he smells something stinky. (FYI: it’s usually something that smells good to humans, but the cats seem to be disgusted by such smells.) 

1. BIG inhale 

2. Somewhat stinky face 

3. Another BIG inhale (didn’t snap the photo in time) 

4. Affirmative (the carpet “stinks) 

Lastly, Corey tiled our bathroom & kitchen floor this weekend!  For those of you not in the know, his father is our landlord & this plan has been in the workings for a bit.  Anyway, the tile has been laid & it looks great!  See for yourself: 

Bathroom (before & after)

 

Kitchen (before & after)

 

That’s all for now. . . P.S. – Norma Jean, our other cat, says “hi!”

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Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations

Image via Wikipedia

 

For the first time in the extensive history of Wallagrams, I , Corey Waller, am contributing to our infamous pre-travel blog.  I have to say that I’m a little apprehensive in this first post because it has been a  long time since I’ve thoughtfully written anything of any real substance.  I guess the best way to introduce myself is to tell you all of my aspirations, goals, probably most importantly, my role in working towards our dream trip around the world. My travel history is very short and not very exciting.  I have never been out of the country and have only spent time in a handful of states other than Wisconsin.  I never really even thought about going abroad until after high school when my interest in global history and current events around the world took off.  It was at that point that I really felt a strong desire to see the rest of the world.  I initially wanted to go to all the usual places, Western Europe and maybe go on an African safari, but the more I learned about the rest of world and the more I watched others on TV, mainly Anthony Bourdain, the more I have wanted to see the world that most do not see. 

Once Lisa and I got married, our one and only goal was to save money to take a year-long trip to see the world.  However, as Lisa has already articulated saving money isn’t the easiest action.  What she has failed to mention is how hard it can be for people to earn enough money to make saving a sufficient amount plausible.  My wife reads a ridiculous amount of other travel blogs in her spare time.  I know it helps her focus on travel and learn more about extended world travel.  However, sometimes it does get her down that these people are out on the road and we  are still in the infant stages of saving.  She was able to discern a couple of common traits that most of these travelers had.  Most seemed to be in their early to mid thirties and had been saving for years.  The younger ones seemed to either come from money or had high paying jobs that allowed them to expedient the saving process (not all, but most).  Unfortunately for us,  we are in our mid twenties, we don’t come from money, and we don’t nessacarily have what you would call high paying jobs.  That, however, doesn’t make things impossible and hopeless. 

Once we decided to get engaged and several months later, get married, I knew it was to time for my focus to change into making enough to provide for my new wife and our future goals.  I worked in a small factory a year plus before our engagement.  After not much progress on the new job hunt, I decided to give them a try again.  They welcomed me back with open arms and put me on the fast-tract to advancement.  I’m not saying that my work at the factory is hard compared to other industries, but I’ve worked very hard at my job from day one.  If there is one attribute that my parents and grandparents instilled in me, it was being a hard worker.  Since starting up again at the factory I’ve received several raises and eventually a promotion to assistant foreman.  The great thing about this factory, aside from their support of me, has been the fact that we work 4 10-hour days.  This gave me two options, a long 3 day weekend or an opportunity to make more money on the weekend.  It was a no brainer, I would make more money. 

Some years ago, I started to help out our neighbor Al and his tile setting business.  My brother started out with Al, but became somewhat unreliable, so I started working as a helper for Al.  Over the next 6 years, Al graciously taught me pretty much everything that there is to know about setting tile.  I started off simply mixing mud and making cuts.  Now I have to ability and the confidence to set tile and work my own jobs.  I actually just finished off my first stand up shower last weekend and was quite surprised at how well it turned out.  All this thanks to Al’s tutelage. Sometimes its been tasking working 11, 13, 17 days in  row at time, but in the end it will all the worth it when we’re on the plane heading to our first destination.  I think with our work ethics and research/planning that we are definitely on the right track.   

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