Friday, March 28, 2014

Spring Break 2014

I know...I know...after last year's Spring Break trip, you were expecting me to head to Alaska this year to catch more snow (read up on last year's trip here, or here, or maybe here, or even here...or become very well read and check it out here, and here  and there and finish here. For the shortened version, only read this one.)

But, I decided to keep to the more traditional Spring Break this year and headed south.

As in Dominican Republic kind of south.

And, if you know me at all, you will know that by "traditional" I mean my kind of traditional.


This year for Spring Break, I had the amazing opportunity to travel with a group from Clemson of 12 other nurse practitioner students, 6 senior nursing students, 2 spouses of said NP students, 2 nursing faculty, 1 former Clemson grad student, 1 somewhat random nurse from Maryland (who became a very dear friend!), and 1 family/OB/GYN/ER doctor. We spent a week in the DR and crammed so much into that week, I'm still reeling from the trip a week after we got back!

Destination: San Juan de la Maguana
Total Miles: absolutely no clue
Total Cost: around $2,000

So, I know you are wanting lots of details,'ll have to wait for another post for that.

Just a quick run down of what we were doing:
We spent two days traveling, one day at the beach, and four days holding clinics in various locations.

The clinic days were by far my favorite part of the trip!

I'll go into more detail in the next post, but we saw a total of 552 patients, handed out tons of vitamins, prescriptions and reading glasses, got to do joint injections, saw some crazy diagnoses, met some wonderful and giving people, and made some amazing friends.

We had several translators working with us, but (with the help of a couple translators and lots of practice!) I was able to pick up a decent amount of my Spanish (learned that in two years of high school Spanish and a random semester of Spanish in college). I was also able to use my Creole from my Haiti trips with a couple Haitian patients we saw and with Pastor Anol. Pastor Anol traveled with us to the clinics and handed out tracts and spoke with people about Christ. He doesn't speak English, but I discovered on our first day of clinic that he speaks fluent Creole! Loved him and am so thankful I was able to communicate with him and see his heart for the people on this trip.

The scenery was gorgeous and reminded me of Haiti. The overall poverty level was a little better than Haiti, and the majority of the people were a little lighter skinned than the Haitians. It was really odd to see so much of the scenery and familiar buildings and feel as though I were in Haiti, but then to do a double take because everything was in Spanish and not Creole.

Overall, it was a wonderful experience, and I promise to share more in the next few days! For now, I'm sorting through the unpacking, the reverse culture shock, and the three languages I now have mixed up in my head.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Bucket List

Destination: Florida
Total Miles: 1,410
Total Cost: $390

Definitely one of my more expensive weekend road trips, but worth every penny spent!'re wondering what in the world did I do on Saturday that would classify this trip as meeting a Bucket List item? Three words for you:

Harry Potter World.

As nerdy as it may be, I am a Potter fan. There are definitely some qualifying statements that accompany this fact, including but not limited to: these are not books that children should be allowed to read-some high levels of discernment should be learned prior to reading these, and while I have read the books and seen the movies, I believe it something that should followed with some caution.

That being said:

After an awesome concert Friday, Heidi and I headed to Tampa to meet up with my friend, Joel (you can read about that in my previous post). We had supper and slept hard in preparation for Saturday's adventures.

Joel picked us up from the motel around 9 a.m., and we headed to Orlando to meet another fellow Alto II from choir. Her husband works for Universal Studios, and we were meeting up with them so they could give us some tips for the day.

After waiting in line to get tickets, we headed into the park...I was so excited!

We headed straight for Harry Potter World, and, let me tell you, when we stepped foot into Hogsmeade and the music started playing an opening sequence from a Potter soundtrack, it was like stepping into the village itself. We took in the sights and sounds as we headed to Hogwarts for the first ride of the day.

Once inside the castle, we by-passed lines using the Single Rider. The ride
was awesome! We saw the Sorting Hat and followed Harry, Ron and Hermoine on an adventure.

After that, we meandered the parks, riding rides and eating at eateries.

The butterbeer was excellent! Kind of like a cream soda with delicious foam on top.

We did lots of waiting in lines for rides, but we had a blast catching up and people-watching.

Joel and Heidi were good sports and put up with my excitement over, well, everything.

I honestly don't think I can explain everything, so I'm posting pictures at the bottom of this post with captions. Hopefully, you will forgive my lack of words and enjoy seeing some of the fun we had.

Before heading back, we stopped at Honeydukes, a candy shop in Hogsmeade. I bought a chocolate frog while Joel purchased some Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans for us to try. We all took turns guessing the flavours...and when they say every flavour, they're not kidding. Joel got one that filled up the entire vehicle with the smell of dirt on the way back to Tampa.

Sunday, we lost an hour of sleep because of Daylight Savings, but Heidi and I hit the road in fashion with a breakfast stop at Starbucks.

We also took a side trip to my Guidinger grandparents' house in Greenville, Florida and partook of a delicious Sunday lunch. It was so good to see them and spend a little bit of time with them before heading back to Greenville, SC.

All in all, a wonderful trip. And worth every dollar!

Stay tuned for the Spring Break trip starting this Saturday.

Riding Buckbeak's Flight

Fish and Chips

Post Hulk Giggles
The Hulk

Fun Day

The moon over Hogwarts

Frozen Butterbeer

Chocolate Frogs!
The moon biding us goodnight as we leave

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Welcome to Choir Con

Destination: Florida
Total Miles: TBA (it is adding up!!)
Total Cost: TBA (also adding up...)

The American Choral Directors Association Southern Division conference is difficult to explain to people who do not care about choir. One of our Rivertree Singers explained it to the hairdresser that it the conference is like Comic Con for choirs. Thus the name "Choir Con" was born.

Singing in front of such an intelligent audience who have probably heard half the songs we performed is a little daunting to say the least.

But sing we did.

And it was amazing.

As the last applause died and we exited the stage, our nerves and adrenaline gave way to laughter and excited chatter.

Please visit our website,, listen to some of our Jubilate Deo-written by one of our members, and Kyrie).

music, and purchase a cd of our works. You can also watch us perform two of our songs from this Spring Season on YouTube (

After gathering our things, giving some more hugs, Heidi and I headed to warmer weather in Tampa.

With a perfunctory stop at Starbucks...of course!

Before finding a hotel just outside of Tampa, we met up with my nursing school friend, Joel Porch, for a delicious late dinner at Crazy Cafe. Sushi was the name of the game, and we enjoyed some delicious sushi (I got a Butterfly roll, but my favorite was Joel's sweet potato sushi). Like all good friends, we spent a couple hours catching up on life.

Heidi and I spent another hour or so talking once we got settled into a hotel room, and then we slept like rocks in preparation for today.

Universal we come!