Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Pope Francis-Selfie Roadtrip

I received the most fortunate Christmas gift from Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan of two weeks off work. I knew long ago that I wouldn't want to spend two solid weeks sticking around at home so I wanted to take the opportunity to do a little travel. 

I originally had plans to drive to Iowa with a friend, for a little adventure in a new land. That plan ended up falling through so over a couple of weeks I began piecing together new ideas.  I had the idea to head down to Cincinatti, Ohio to visit my good friends from Peace Corps,  Christopher and Jolie Wieland, and to meet my Peace Corps niece Zahara. 

Lexington, Kentucky is also a place I was hoping to visit so I thought I'd tack on a journey there, seeing as it's only 90 minutes from Cincinatti. I was going to see an old ballet friend of mine, Lyndsey Deaver.

To add as much punch into this spontaneous trip as I could I thought to pass through Fort Wayne, Indiana to see yet another set of Peace Corps buddies, Matt and Tanie Emmons. Also to meet my Peace Corps nephew, Dylan.  

What ensued at the last minute as I was taking off was a theme for this road trip. Pope Francis is Time Magazine's Person of the Year 2013 and the word "selfie" officially entered the dictionary so I saw no better way to celebrate the last bit of 2013 than taking a series of selfie's with Pope Francis, my travel buddy. 

Over the next few days please enjoy my anecdotal rendition of my 3-state, 7- day journey. 

To start you off:
 The Pope and I  at 8 a.m. on day one of the trip

My first stop was Cincinnati to see the two friends that lived closest to me in Morocco. Here are Christopher, Jolie, and I in 2009. 

The Wieland's had gotten a Cincinnati Zoo pass for Christmas and offered to take me to the Festival of Lights on the first evening I was there. I had never been to a zoo at night. The entire place was decked from end to end with thousands upon thousands of Christmas lights. It was truly a sight to behold. We were lucky with around 40 degree weather so we enjoyed each other as we walked, talked, and sipped hot chocolate. 

The Pope and I at the Festival of Lights
I got to have a nice relaxing time with my friends and of course meet their little baby. I got to awaken some of my Moroccan Arabic and enjoyed using words such as "yella" and having people know what I meant. I got caught up with the ever present Peace Corps gossip and got to talk about a lot of old times. Sparty even drove down to meet us. 
  Jolie, Zahara, and I also had a girls afternoon and went into downtown Cincinnati for some lunch.
The Pope and I in downtown Cincinnati
 I also got the pleasure of enjoying a Cincinnati favorite known as Skyline Chili, and as I'm told it's WAY better than Gold Star Chili, a known rival. Cincinnati style chili consists of spaghetti with this fantastic secret recipe chili sauce on top, very finely ground beef with a  bit of sweet to it, topped with mounts of shredded cheese. Had to forgo the cheese personally, but it sure looked like such a wonderful creation. 
 Me and the Pope at Skyline Chili
My time there also consisted of getting to finally meet Jolie's parents who were always sweet to me when I spoke to them from Morocco and learning how to change a tire (in theory) from my big brother Christopher. We laughed, we said words that are only funny to us,  we watched movies like we always did, and we picked up right where we left off.
Myself, Christopher, Jolie, and Zahara in 2014. A lot less hair.