America, Animals, Canada, Family, Funny, Travel

Bear With Me

Can we just gloss over the fact that I haven’t written in what seems like forever? Can we also skip over the part where I wrote a post about our fishing excursion to Canada that we took in September, and then I promptly did not post it when we got home? Okay, good, moving forward, here’s my synopsis.

Never have I thought of so many good names for a post. Brittney and the Bear, Hodge Podge Lodge (my personal favorite), Dish Soap Daze, or What’s That Noise on my Front Porch? (never really in the running, but it does pull you in a bit, doesn’t it?)

Did you know that you can use Dawn dish soap as shampoo? Did you also know that packing for a trip is not really my forte’?

You can, in fact, use dish soap as shampoo. I know my mother is cringing to read this, but I also know that this will come as no surprise to her.

I never really pack any sort of toiletries when I travel. There are two reasons for this: 1) everyone always packs toiletries (except for, apparently, my dad) so I feel like it’s a waste to not just share 2) generally where I end up at, there will be some toiletries provided.

At a fish camp, the provision included only dish soap. Which was sitting by the kitchen sink and totally only assumed for such a use. However, for me, it’s doubling as shampoo.

Actually, ladies, it really is not half bad.

I feel like I am most in my element at a fish camp. I pretty much started fishing as soon as I could hold a fishing pole. There’s a precious picture of me and my grandpa when I was about 4 years old, down at our farm creek, and I’d caught* a little fish. (*I’m not sure if it counts as catching if someone else baits your hook, casts for you, gets the fish on the line, and lets you reel it in, but I was proud of my trophy, nonetheless). I also feel like I may have written about this before, so if I have and it’s somewhere back in the archives, I do apologize. I try hard not to repeat my stories, so if I ever do this in person, just tell me to tell you a different story and I can move on to something new. But, since I’m writing, you can’t tell me that, so you’ll just have to bear with me.

Speaking of bears, we met a couple on our 15 hour drive up to Canada that had hit an 80 lb bear cub that was precariously trying to cross the road. So, in case you were wondering what Canada is like, yes, it’s everything you’re imagining. Bears, pines, lakes, the whole nine yards.

My dad and I have been known for seeing wildlife while we’ve been in Canada the past few summers. We’ve seen moose and bears, but mostly just along the roads on the drive up there. We’ve never seen anything up close.

Until now.

On our final night in camp, we had a visitor. I woke up to a loud noise in the main room of our cabin and yelled at my dad in the next room to wake up. I was fairly certain someone was trying to break in and wasn’t sure what to do. But, my dad yelled back that it was probably just a bear. He went out to see what the commotion was and looked out the front window, on to the deck that overlooked the lake.

As it was the middle of the night and obviously dark, he couldn’t see anything and turned on the porch light, assuming that the noise maker would scurry as soon as the light came on. Little did he know, upon turning on the light, he would be standing face to face with a wild bear, who had clawed through the window screen and had its nose on the window glass, wanting to be let in.

He did run off, after my dad banged on the front door to scare him. Subsequently also scaring me. And making me want to run off. Never a dull moment with me and thanks to the dish soap, never a dull complexion. I may adopt dish soap into my daily routine after all.

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America, Animals, Celebration, Culture, Family, Farm, Funny, Outdoors, Summer, Travel

Pura Vida 

We found a boy with a machete to cut a way through the jungle to take us to see a waterfall. I wish it were less sketchy than it sounds, but it’s not. 


We were supposed to be fishing on Lake Arenal in Costa Rica. But, the wind had other ideas. So, Plan B? A “horseback ride to a waterfall”. My mind is conjuring up images of a peaceful, smooth horseback ride down to a quaint waterfall, a splash in the water, then back on the horse and to the barn. This picture encapsulates my mental image. (Also, there’s the lake I should’ve been fishing in the background.)


What I didn’t have in mind was climbing up and down very steep hills (more commonly called mountains) on horseback and nearly sliding down the mountain on the back of said horse. 


I also didn’t realize that our guide would be a 15 year old boy with a machete and his uncle. Who didn’t speak much English.

Or that they would need the aforementioned machete to slice through the jungle to create a “path” that would could “walk” (read: slide) down.


Or that it would be such a slippery, steep, and narrow “path” that I would need to hold someone’s hand the whole time to navigate. 


These poor guys had to switch spots to constantly be in front of me to help me every step of the way. I know this because they kept talking to each other and saying “ella”, which I knew was me because I was the only girl in our group of 4. 

I only fell down twice, and laughed through most of it, as the ridiculousness of what we were doing kept setting in more and more. 


I also didn’t realize that this hike would take nearly two hours to complete and that it would be the most intense hike I’ve ever done. 

So, here’s me, not thinking about what I’m actually getting myself into. What’s new? 

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America, Animals, Culture, Family, Food, Health, Mexico, Summer

T-Shirt Trade

I traded a t-shirt for a grilled chicken salad. And, it was a great swap. We were at a teacher’s fair (which basically amounts to a bunch of crazed teachers trying to get free stuff as quickly as they can) and our shirts were the most popular item.

As we were setting up our table, (pre- crazy teachers) a girl from another table representing a local restaurant came over and asked to swap gift cards for a shirt. She held out 4 cards for free salads, which just happens to be my favorite meal, and I gladly gave her a shirt. I’ll trade veggies for t-shirts any day! 

We had our family reunion this past weekend and my grandma was telling a story about how even when I was little, I’d eat anything. For me, that pretty much sums up my family reunion experience. Inevitably, the conversation turns to what weird things I’ve eaten over the past year since everyone last saw me. I’ve told the dog and egg story quite a bit. If you didn’t catch those the first time around, check them out here and here.

After being at the family reunion, Monday and Tuesday were pretty hectic, just trying to catch up. One of the churches we work with called on Tuesday afternoon (after the teacher fair that morning) and said, oh, by the way, those 400 shirts we ordered: we need those in 3 hours. And we need them delivered to the church (which is one hour from our shop). No big deal. 

Jake’s hands after printing 400 custom dyed shirts


After delivering them, we were exhausted. And, I needed a reward for surviving the day. And the reward I chose? Tacos. 

Jake and I typically eat at the Mexican restaurants that you actually have to speak Spanish at to order. Not really your run of the mill places. We order things like huaraches, tlacoyos, and chilaquiles. This place was an in between place. Not commercialized, but not way off the map either. There were a couple things on the menu I didn’t recognize though. 

Listed under the taco fillings, it had mulitas. I took Spanish in high school and Jake took German, so occasionally, I will recognize Spanish words that he doesn’t. But when he asked me if I knew what it was, I didn’t recognize that one. So, he looked it up on his phone. 

And this is what showed up. 


Armadillo tacos, anyone? 

My first thought was: surely they aren’t really serving that here. My second thought was: should I order it? 

I realized the issue though. Mulita and mulitas are two different things. It turns out that mulita is the name for an armadillo in Uruguay and Argentina). Mulitas, however, are more like tortilla sandwiches. Almost like a quesadilla, but not quite. Either way, mulitas have nothing to do with armadillo. Unless you made them with armadillo meat. So, I guess you could have mulita mulitas in Argentina. 

I played it safe and just had chicken. 

And, I was pleased to find out the next day that the church we made a late delivery for gave us a sweet gift. Gourmet popcorn. 

Trading food for t-shirts? A yes every time. Just maybe not for armadillo tacos. 

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America, Animals, Canada, Culture, Family, Food, Funny, Outdoors, Summer, Travel

Drenched

Guess who fell into the lake? In full rain gear. They say that stuff is waterproof. Which is true. As long as you don’t accidentally fully submerge yourself in said water. 

The soon to be drenched clothing (with an added rainjacket)

I have this patented Brittney move when we come in to dock. I step out of the boat, holding the rope in my hand, onto the dock with one foot, then pull the boat (with the rope and my other foot) snug to the dock to tie it. This works okay (although now going over it in my mind, it’s really not the smartest move, but it made sense to me when I was doing it) as long as you have the rope in your hand, to anchor yourself and keep control of the boat, which your other foot is still in. If you are distracted, and forget to grab the rope, there is a slight possibility that the boat will come out from underneath you and dump you into the 60 degree lake water. Which is what happened. 

The water was not that deep, seeing as how we were right at the dock. But, somehow, I managed not to catch myself at all and went completely under, thoroughly soaking every single thing I had on. Which was three layers of clothing. A wool pullover, which has yet to dry out, a long sleeve shirt, the aforementioned rain pants and jacket, even my ballcap was dripping. 

I wasn’t wearing a lifejacket either. See, I have this theory. My dad got me a ground blind for deer hunting a few years ago for Christmas. I think it was a gift partially for me, partially for himself. It’s essentially a camo tent he can sit me in, out in the woods. There are a few benefits to it. He can go off to his tree stand, with full assurance that he hasn’t set me in a tree stand that I could potentially fall out of. Although, why he’d ever be nervous about me falling out of something is beyond me. And he knows that by putting me in a ground blind, I am less likely to distract a potential target with the flipping of my book pages, as I’m reading and patiently waiting for something to walk by. 

So, he got me the ground blind for Christmas, and we took it out for its inaugural hunt the day after Christmas. There’s a short, few days rifle hunt right after the holiday to complete the year. So, he put me in my blind and trailed off through the woods, with the promise that if I shot (which would be a rare occurrence), he’d come find me. Sure enough, right at dark, a doe walked out, and I shot. It wasn’t my best shot, as demonstrated by the hour long tracing of a tiny blood trail down a steep hill. But, I got it, and the guys found it, hauled it up and we deemed my ground blind a perfect gift. 

A few weeks ago, my brother insisted on buying me a bike helmet because he thought it might hurt if I fell off, going 20 mph down the dirt road. Again, I don’t have any idea why he’d think I’d be injury prone. So, he got me one, and I begrudgingly wear it. But, I was 100% sure that on my first ride wearing it, I’d have a wreck. I didn’t, but still. 

The bike helmet proponent himself

So, my dad nearly insisted on getting me a fancy life jacket that automatically inflates the moment you hit the water. And, I didn’t let him, because I knew if I did, I’d fall out. 

Looks like that logic worked out well for me. 

I had a conversation with him during one of our boat rides about whether or not he felt that I could drink the lake water without getting some sort of terrible disease. He said I probably could, but he didn’t want me to try it. I wanted to try it. 

Looks clean and blue and beautiful, right?

Well, when I fell in, I got the chance. Because I accidentally gulped a good amount down. And not the deep, middle of the lake water that I was wanting to try. No, the grimy, shoreline, dock variety. The possibility of illness remains to be seen. 

Luckily, I hauled myself up, laughing. I was slightly terrified because our float plane pilot had told me not to put my feet in the water, for the chance that the pike might bite my toes off, mistaking my bright orange toenail polish for bait. I’m still not sure if he was kidding or not, but I didn’t want to take any chances. 

The pike, however, weren’t interested in my toes. So, I dried off, went back out, and tried a less dangerous boat maneuver, and a more natural colored bait. Which they fell for. Hook, line, and sinker. 

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America, Animals, Asia, Food, Health, Missions, Travel

Southern Fried

In the South, we fry things. Like everything. 

I’m pretty sure if it can be dipped in a batter and thrown in hot grease, it’s been tried in the southern states in America. We can all agree on this, right? 

Well, apparently in Southern Laos, they fry things too. 

Like things we’ve never thought of.

Our friend , Jenny


Fried june bugs, anyone? 


Haven’t seen that one at a state fair yet.. 

My real story starts out with me being smart. Like all the best stories do. I thought ahead before I came, planned my packing list, brought smart things. Like a clip fan. Because I knew what the rooms were like and air flow is important, so I thought, this is a smart bring.

And it was. So I got it out once I got here, proud of myself for thinking ahead, plugged it in (using a power adapter that I was smart to bring), and went about getting ready for my day. 

I noticed before I plugged it in that the plastic had broken slightly around the part that attaches the fan to the clip. So, being the smart Arkansas girl that I was, I thought, no problem, I’ll buy some duct tape. 

No problem, quick fix


About two minutes into putting my makeup on, I thought I smelled something. Slightly sweet. Maybe hair spray. But, I hadn’t used hair spray. Maybe my straightener. But, it wasn’t plugged in. Because the fan was plugged in. 

So, I lifted up the fan, no problems detected, went back to my task. But, the smell was getting stronger. So, I unplugged the fan because I thought it was circulating the smell and I wanted to identify what was causing it. Smart idea, right? 

Until I picked up the fan again. 


Fried. Fried in a whole new way. 

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Animals, Asia, Culture, Farm, Food, Health, Missions, Travel

Ride or Die

 I’m still trying to catch up on my posts from Vietnam.We moved around a lot from place to place while we were there, which provided lots of travel time to write. However, what I lacked was the time to actually post what I was writing. If you know me very well, though, my delay should not come as a surprise.

                                                              

I ate a cricket this morning. And it was surprisingly refreshing. Not because it tasted great or anything. But, because I wasn’t going to do it, then I decided that I could handle it. So, I did. Pushing the limits you set for yourself can be a good thing.

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My carefully selected snack

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 I also rode an elephant. It wasn’t a first or anything. But, I was in the hotel room in the middle of the afternoon and I got a phone call. I answered, of course, and the voice on the other end said: “do you want to go ride an elephant?” No hello, no this is so-and-so, just elephant ride? And what’s your natural response for a phone call like that? Sure.

                                                              

So, we went on elephant excursion number three. This one was pretty typical: elephant, basket, little boy sitting on his head while we trek around. But, the seating arrangement was different. It was a wide metal basket with a narrow bench and no harness or strap of any kind. I’ve only been in bamboo baskets, which create for a little more traction. But with the metal bench and my denim shorts, I was sliding all over the place. Combine this with the fact that we were climbing down a steep embankment and the “driver” kept hitting the elephant on the head with a metal rod: I was sure I was going to topple out of the basket any minute.

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Treacherous looking basket

 But, I survived. Upon dismounting from the basket, the animal wranglers were offering other various rides. I had never seen anyone ride an ostrich, but they had them saddled up and ready to go, so I thought I’d give it a shot. It kinda made the elephant ride feel safe.
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Taking in the view

 The “saddle” has handles on the front and the back, and you are encouraged to hold onto both. Because those things take off like they’re trying to buck you off. Me and my ostrich were pretty in sync though for the most part and it was calm. We settled into a little routine. In fact, in most of the pictures, we even had the same facial expressions.

                                                              

Until the boy with the metal rod came around again and started hitting him. Then he took off and I nearly fell off again.

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Trotting along

I’m thinking some animals just weren’t meant to ride. But, then again, there’s a first time for everything.
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America, Animals, Farm, Religion

Zoo Crew

Everyone keeps asking me if I have a turtle. And by everyone, I really mean all the little kids I know. There’s a festival in a neighboring town that has a turtle race, so turtles are a hot commodity right now.

Do I look like an animal person to you? Probably. And I actually am, I do really like animals. Turtles aren’t exactly my thing but I’ve had pretty much every pet imaginable. I went through nearly a dozen rabbits growing up. I had chicks and ducks, guinea pigs and a hamster. I had a cat named Sarah and a dog named Sarah. The dog was a boy, but I didn’t care and neither did he. One of my favorite dogs was a Bassett Hound that showed up on our front porch one Spring. I had always wanted a Bassett and when Sally showed up, I said she was the one I had prayed for and God dropped her on my doorstep. Unfortunately, I didn’t specify in my prayers that she needed to be able to see or hear. Because she was deaf and almost completely blind. Loyal as ever, though, and so sweet. This is her, in a cone the vet made her wear for awhile. No, this is not a joke.

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I think I’m getting my payback on the animals though. I don’t usually pick any kids up for church, but last Wednesday night I got a call from a mom saying that she needed me to stop by. It was right in town so I swung by and got them, no big deal.

What I didn’t know was that when we got to church, a couple of their cousins showed up and needed to ride home with the kids I brought. I have a car that seats 5. Let’s do the math. Jake was with me, so we were 2 + 2 kids I picked up + 2 cousins. So 6 in 5 seats.

Again, no big deal. If I remember correctly, my record was 8 of us in 5 seats during college. I wasn’t really that concerned. I told the kids it was fine, I’d take them, and we’d make it work. But, when it came time to leave, the little girl came up and kindly informed me that she and her brother had brought their rabbits with them and they would need a ride too. When I asked where the rabbits were, they said, on the church bus, which had picked them (and their rabbits) up that night. So, I went and had a word with the church bus driver, namely my dad.

Alli and Elsa

Alli and Elsa

When I asked him why Alli and Bobby had been allowed to bring their rabbits, he said they had come out of the house with the cages and said they had to go. So go they did.

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To update, let’s do this math again. Me + Jake + 2 kids + 2 cousins + 2 rabbits. So, as we are walking to the car, rabbits in tow, Justin (one of the two original kids I picked up) said while we were on the playground after church, he’d found a toad and he was keeping it as a pet. I’m in the middle of arranging how to fit all these children and rabbits in my car, so how could I say no to a toad at that point? Cherry on the top of the proverbial cake.

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Well, Alli hates toads, but Maddie loves them, so I made Maddie sit in the middle, Alli had her rabbit, Justin had his toad, and Bobby insisted on sitting up front with Jake and his rabbit. Actually Bobby (who is 5) really wanted to drive the car, but sitting up front and turning the key to start the car got him close enough to the action.

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We were fine for the first two minutes. And when I say fine, what I really mean is Bobby cranked my stereo and managed to roll down the windows, before Jake got control of the situation and kept all our eardrums from bursting. After that, the meltdown happened. Which Jake decided was worth taking a picture of. He’s a great co-pilot, as you can tell.

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While this is going on in the backseat and Jake is busy capturing it and I’m trying to drive, Bobby has his hand on the gearshift and keeps asking me, can I move this, can I move this? I was just waiting for him to throw us into neutral, causing this whole escapade to be complete. But, he didn’t. And, Jake eventually calmed the backseat meltdown and all animals and people made it home safely.

Final count: me + Jake + 2 kids + 2 cousins + 2 rabbits + 1 toad

I think I set a new record.

{Epilogue: I have been informed that Bobby’s rabbit has since passed from this life. He made a good pet and from my own experience, was the best passenger I had in the car that night. He will be missed. RIP Michael the rabbit.}

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