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Laurel's Page

Welcome to Laurel's Travel Page. Here is where I will be keeping a record of my travels for all of you to read. And often just random thoughts or records of events that I need to record or put into the ether without the banality of Facebook. Please feel free to leave a comment for me. If I have time in between discovering new places and meeting new people I will reply to them!

Diary Entries

Thursday, 07 August 2014

Location: Oakland, California, USA

Today, I had to update the Emergency Contact information in our new version of a deployment tracker. One of them was Dad. I had to delete it. It has made me very sad.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Location: Kansas City, USA

Well, my planet ranging has been much more local, lately, which has been fine with me. I am going to start posting some updates on my life in Kansas City Missouri, especially since for may of my friends, the Mid-West is as unfamiliar as small Euro nations.

I've lived here for 2 years now, and just moved from a small bungalow to a nicer house in a nicer 'hood. Still unpacking, trying to get that done quickly, not to let it drag on.

I've posted a picture of the sun porch, and will post shots of the interior as rooms begin to look less chaotic and boxed, a bit more lived in.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Location: USA

For now I am calling her Blue, see the photos to know why.

When I went to pick her up this morning, she was much perkier and came up to the front of the cage to be petted. The cat in the cage facing her started to hiss at her. "I see" I thought, "I'd stay in the back of my cage if someone yelled at me every time I came to the front door, too!"

But when she came forward, I saw that she was not just white, but had lovely light calico markings- light tan and orange. She ate some food and had some water, and was very engaging.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Location: USA

If you are expecting photos of the devastation of an F5 tornado, sorry to disappoint. It seems exploitative, given my work, and there are pictures aplenty. So instead I will share with you what I am taking with me from Greensburg- an orphaned cat.

I went to the animal shelter area after another long day for some pet therapy, and didn't realize that I had "sucka!" clearly imprinted across my forehead.

So this is the newest and (lest I start becoming some strange cat-lady) only addition to my cast of kitties. By the way,it is clinically confirmed that the threshold of becoming a cat-lady is the 4th cat. It is still unknown at which point one becomes a "crazy cat-lady", though. Research is on-going.

Friday, 23 June 2006

Location: Hannover, Germany

Okay- so I was exaggerating when I said no one gets souvenirs...

I got you people your damn chocolate, and let me tell you it's friggin' HEAVY.

given with love, of course...

Thursday, 22 June 2006

Location: Nurenberg, Germany

A great time going to Nurenberg to see the US play Ghana.

We took a very early train for the 3 1/2 hour trip there, had enough time to check out the beautiful city, then headed off for the match. The atmosphere was great- lots of US fans decked out colorfully, most on good beahvior, all basically happy/friendly.

The game was hard. Ghana scored early, but right adter what should have been called as a foul on US Team Captain Claudio Reyna that sent him off the field on a stretcher, grabbing his knee. The Ref didn't call the foul at all- and I wonder if our defensemen saw Reyna go down and thought play would stop. We didn't even see the goal, because all attention was fixed on Reyna. He just came back a several weeks ago from knee surgery (ACL), so even though he came backona few minutes later, he was subbed out after about 10 minutes. That was a big loss for us.

However- we equalized the score! but then, the Ref calls a foul in the penalty box, which was boo-ed severely. We looked at the highlights, and sure enough, clean play,no real foul. but the call resulted in a penalty kick for Ghana, and they scored. For the rest of the second half, they milked fake injuries to waste time, to the point that the Ref was ignoring their dives and signaling play to continue. The Ghana player who dove would refuse to get up, the refwould have to call the trainers and stretcher bearers to comeand get the player who then - Not Exagerating Here- would get up 3 secondslater to come back in. It was extremelypoor sportsmanship, and crosses the boarder into cheating. Bad coacing, to my mind. but, their strategy workedand they held us off, winning by one point. So the US goes home. Bummer.

Thursday, 22 June 2006

Location: Nurenberg, Germany

Sing along, now:

OOOOHHHH, we hope those Cheating Bastards beat the Czechs (clap, clap)
Yes, we hope those Cheating Bastards beat the Czechs (clap, clap)
We hope those Cheating Bastards,
We hope those Cheating Bastards,
Yes we hope those Cheating Bastards beat the Czechs (clap, clap)

This was one of the songs the US fans were singing as we walked into the Stadium (it takes about 30 minutes given crowds and security). The Cheating Bastards refers to Italy, clear commentary on our experience with them in the earlier game. If they beat the Czechs, and we win or draw, then we advance to the next round...

Wednesday, 21 June 2006

Location: Hannover, Germany

Any of you who were thinking you were getting a souvenir, sorry- it sucks to be you.

I blew my souvenir budget today, and happily so! Elizabeth and I had found a rug gallery on our 1st day in Hanover, but 10 minutes before closing. So we went back today, and after they opened their museum just for us (really quite good) I decided this would be a good place to finally make an investment that I've been contemplating for about 10 years. See the last photo on Page 2 of Germany Photos to see this gorgeous silk Persion rug that I bought. Trust me, it's far more breath taking in person, plus then you can pet it... there's a reason for the saying "silky soft". It's excellent!

Sunday, 18 June 2006

Location: Hamburg, Germany


Our time in Hamburg was, well, quiet.

We didn’t have any games to attend over these few days, so we really had no schedule. So, I go my haircut and colored, and had some time to explore Hamburg’s antique bookstore network. I’d go in to a shop and in my best available German tell the shop keeper that I was looking for these two books, and hand him a piece of paper with the details. Looking rather impressed (the 2 books were published in the 1880’s-1890’s), he’s disappear to the stacks, but inevitably come back apologizing- no books. I’d then switch to English to ask if they had other ideas of where to look, that the author is related to my boyfriend back in the US and he’d be thrilled if I could find them. More points for the reason for the search, although these points go to Chris- it’s his relative, not mine. So I picked up a couple German book websites, so if not now, perhaps in the future.

On our last afternoon in Hamburg, we stopped for dinner at the Turkish place near our hotel. The two waiters were very friendly/flirtacious, especially as we were watching a game, giving a natural topic of conversation. At the half, I went across the way to check email at the internet café. When I came back, one of the waiters asked me if it was okay that he marry my sister. Of course, he asked this by pointing to his existing wedding ring. How does one say Harem in German? A little while later, he was asking how he could take a vacaction in the US, he has no one to stay with. We did not offer up any hospitality at that point- nice try. I found it all quite amusing, although I was not the object of the man’s attentions. Poor Elizabeth!

Saturday, 17 June 2006

Location: Hamburg, Germany

Okay- I am experiencing some minor technical difficulties so the entries have been delayed. I actually typed up several notes on the train from Berlin to Hamburg, planning to get on line and just cut and paste, easy-peasy. However, our hotel got in the way. The hotel is nice, right on a beautiful horse race track. But. 1) They got our reservation wrong, so we're sharing 1 bed, which is not so much of a big deal. 2) Their rates for internet use is well nigh usery. €11- for 2 hours- that's about $7 an hour! Puh-lease! It just gets worse from there. But the internet place just down the street is only €.50 (about 65 cents) per half hour, much more reasonable. So my later Berlin entries will be entered later, along with photos since I can't download mzy photos to this computer.

Hamburg is much more sedate, and cooler, weather wise. It's in the 50's and 60' here and overcast, it was getting up into the 90's and very sunny in Berlin.

We don't have much on the agenda here. I got my hair cut and colored this morning, tonight we'll watch the US-Italy match from the Fan Fest on the big jumbotron screen. We checked out some parks yesterday. I think the drastic change in weather has affected us both, we're a bit logy. Still, lots of walking, lots of walking.

Sorry for the lameness of this entry- it'll get better!

Thursday, 15 June 2006

Location: Berlin, Germany

Check Point Charlie
Yes, so we couldn’t leave Berlin without going to Checkpoint Charlie. We got our cheesy tourist photographs taken. It was kind cool.

Just before leaving Berlin for Hamburg, we traipsed around what was East Berlin for a few hours. It’s not much different anymore, but there are still a few old soviet remanants, like this statue of a laborer. We saw a huge fountain with Poseidon, and a statue of St George slaying the dragon (see photos).

Wednesday, 14 June 2006

Location: Berlin, Germany

On Wednesday, we went to the Zoologischer Garten, Berlin’s excellent zoo. It is very open, with indoor and outdoor space for almost all of the animals. See pictures! The baby elephant was playing with a branch like it was his own personal World Cup Competition.

We walked through the Tiergaten (Berlin’s version of Central Park) and went through the Fan Fest on the way back to the hotel. I heard a familiar drum beat and music, and shortly We came upon a street band in New Orleans style, playing that song that goes “aiko, aiko ai-ye” Chris, help me out with the song name? (my flag boy and your flag boy, sitting by the fire…) Anyway, they were quite good, see the photo- notice the tuba?

Wednesday, 14 June 2006

Location: Berlin, Germany

Nett. Sehr Nett.

Nice. Very Nice. That’s our opinion of the average Berliner that we’ve met or just spoken with. Three times we’ve had people stop and ask us if we needed directions, and they gave us correct directions. We have had several lovely chats with Berliners in restaurants, including a couple who had a beautiful German Shepherd who sat under their table with perfect manners. The restaurant owner came over to give him some meat, and again, perfect manners. Plus, he was just a beautiful specimen of the breed.

Wednesday, 14 June 2006

Location: Berlin, Germany

I swear, you can’t swing a dead cat in Berlin without hitting a Swede.

Okay, so why would you? Swing a dead cat, I mean. That’s one I’ve never quite figured out, I think it’s an Irish thing. But, anyway, if you did find a dead cat in Berlin and you decided to swing it, no doubt you’d hit a Swede. He’d then probably be an angry Swede, or just grossed out because you’d just smacked him with a piece of carrion.

Well, I haven’t seen any dead cats, but Berlin is thick with Swedes. Elizabeth and I were playing a game today: Swede Check. The object was to find a moment during the day, when there was a good number of people around us, but no Swedes. It never happened.

How do you know which ones are Swedes, you may be wondering. Well, there’s no racial profiling involved, it’s flat out advertised. Everywhere you go, you’ll see the bright yellow of the Swedish team shirts, once in a while a blue one, but mostly swarms of yellow. They are a very happy crowd, and fun to be around. Swedes on tour boats calling out to Swedes on the river side. Swedes in restaurants singing, well, whatever it is that Swedes are singing these days.

Tuesday, 13 June 2006

Location: Berlin, Germany

The Boat Tour

So what do you do when your feet are just to sore from the miles walked in the last two days, but you’re in BERLIN for god’s sake, cant’ waste it? Thankfully, there are boat tours. We took a 3 hour tour on an open topped boat that went along the Spree River, then circled back along the Landwehrkanal. It was a great way to see several parts of the city, whilst giving our feet a much needed rest. Check out the photos of the bridges and buildings along the trip.

Tuesday, 13 June 2006

Location: Berlin, Germany

Well, Delta found my bag and got it to the hotel, and it was a relatively minor inconvenience- except that the clothes I’d been wearing were getting a bit ripe after a day and a half. I’d already planned on buying some shirts, so it was no real biggie to find a WC t-shirt, and I got a pair of shorts from team store of one of the Berlin teams, so I was pretty comfortable yesterday. Still, glad to have my stuff, hopefully all contents are intact.

Tuesday, 13 June 2006

Location: Berlin and Gelsenkirchen, Germany

So far, sehr gut!

We got back to our Berlin hotel last night at about 3:00 am, from the US-Czech Republic match in Gelsenkirchen, after a 3.5 hour train ride. Soooo tired- very long day. It’s great! The US lost, 3-null, to the Czechs, but we all sort of expected that going in- the Czech’s are a super team, and we are still building our way into this sport at this level.

I’ve talked with a lot of interesting people already. Sat next to a freelance photo journalist on the train to Gelsenkirchen, met an AP reporter doing color stories while in the café car, and talked with an American lawyer from Holland, who is working on the war crimes tribunals. At lunch, we shared a table with a couple of German guys, so I did get to practice my rusty German a little. Talked with the people on the bus to the stadium, and while standing in line for drinks at the stadium. Got a really nice photo of little Victoria sleeping on her Daddy’s shoulder after the game, I bet she’ll be a footballer soon enough! Even talked to the VERY drunk Czech guy on the bus after the game-his girlfriend apparently is used to apologizing for him in multiple languages, but no harm done. Chatted with some other Americans on the train back, and after we picked up passengers in Hanover, talked with some Ghananian fans from London. We commiserated- we’d just lost to the Czechs, Ghana had just lost to Italy.

Of course, the thing with football is that winning isn’t everything. No, seriously, even statistically, standings also take into account goal differentials, and draws count for more than losses, and besides, the teams had to qualify to be here, so just being in the tournament is a real accomplishment. Which means that even after a loss, fans generally speaking are happy, talkative and glad to be here.

Lots of walking. Feet are sore. Good walking shoes are in lost luggage. (*%$#) Only one blister so far. Sunscreen is also in lost luggage.

Having trouble finding non-fizzy water. Ketchup tastes wierd. It’s asparagus season- and for a semi-veg like me, that’s super! Semi- veg? Yeah- stopped eating all meat a little over a year ago, but travel challenges and subsequent other dietary restrictions (no wheat? What do you mean, no wheat?) have brought me back to this semi-vegetarian state. But- you try not eating bread in Germany- it’s friggin’ torture. But, lots of other very yummy food. Hey- don’t believe the hype when it comes to German cooking!! Especially for you meat eaters, the Germans can bring a gorgeous meal to the table! Besides, there’s the beer. Oh crap- does wheat beer count as a wheat food- is there any gluten actually in beer? Please advise!! Mmmmm…. Beeeeeer….

Okay, tourism- have already seen remnants of the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate, the Fanfest area at the Brandenberg Gate, the brand new Hauptbahnhof, and some lovely countyside scenery.

Monday, 12 June 2006

Location: Berlin, Germany

Delta, Delta Delta – can I help ya, help ya, help ya?

Sure- you can find my luggage!!!

Friday, 09 June 2006

Location: New York City, USA

World Cup here we come!!

Finally- I am officially on vacation! Made it up to NYC with no issues other than a stiff neck from the little jet up from Fort Myers. Got to my sister's palce just in time for the kick off of the first match, between Germany and Costa Rica. Host Country Germany did themselves proud with a skillful goal in ( I think) the 7th minute, and Costa Rica did better than many thought they would, with Germany winning 4-2!!

Elizabeth and I get on our flight to Berlin tomorrow evening, so I'll have a nice New York fix to get me back into urban mode, and to get used to a temperate climate.

One thing I've learned in the last year- I really am a city-girl.

This vacation is going to rock!

Photos - Click Below

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Recent Messages

From Jim
Now I'm gonna have that damn song stuck in my head all weekend,,,,,Hmmmmm,,Maybe Large amounts of beer will help
Response: I find it does, actually...
From Chris Rugaber
Hi Laurel--thanks for getting in touch. I am very jealous that you are in Germany for the World Cup, I am Tivo'ing all the games. I was hoping to make it to Germany myself but then Liz got pregnant earlier this year (!) so we are saving our leave. She's due Oct. 13. Have fun!
Hi Chris-

I'm really psyched for both of you!
From Eileen and Louie
It's been such fun "hearing" about your adventures!
You Go Girls!
Response: It's great to have some funnews to share,believe me!!!
From Mom
Cannot begin to imagine how excited you guys were watching the US-Italy game. Bet you shouted yourselves hoarse! THREE red cards? Keeping my fingers crossed for the Ghana game.
Response: Yes- it's been a tournament of surprises, for sure!
From Jim
Sounds like you are having a blast,,I'm glad everything finally came together to allow you to go.


Have fun and be safe(notice I didn't say good).

See ya soon
From Dan
Looks like you and Elizabeth are having fun. Add me to your list. What other games are you going to?
From Dad
Hey, Great! Keep the news coming and have fun.
From Lori and Loren
Wie Gehts. Have a blast and enjoy the beer! Ich liebe Schwwartz Katz eine dunkle bier. Think hops forget the wheat. How often do you get to drink beer in Germany?
From andy conte
Great stuff. Like being there. Can you get in a fight with some Polish fans? Send photos from inside jail.
All best,
Response: Trust me, I'm working onit!
From jack

we didnt even get an invite for this adventure. must be in the mail still headed to our place in laurel, md. keep this page updated so we can enjoy the trip remotely. be safe + have fun!

jack + jacqueline
Response: With Hurricane season coming, it was a close thing thatI could go at all. Come along next time!