Saturday, April 26, 2008


With an easy hour-long push ahead from Colorado Springs, we reached the Denver residence of some old friends from West Liberty, Laban, Katie, and Chris. Of course one of the first things we absolutely had to do was to teach them Go Stop, introduce them to face masks, and flood them with the neti pot!

With the Korean karaoke culture deeply embedded within us, we participated in a public singing in Boulder and a private singing with Chris...

We spent a day in Boulder, Colorado, which became an official second option to add to our list of potential places to live (Arizona being the first). It was a comfortable, athletic, eco-friendly environment, but it certainly wasn't the cheapest place.

Returning to the Denver house for another night, we met Laban and Katie's two girls, Penelope (Poppy) and Ivy. While we were playing with them, the electricity went out and JooYeon kept Poppy occupied by taking pictures of her colorful toenails (see "the Showalter Clan"). Chris, on the other hand, did some kind of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde routine...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Colorado and Rocky

With 155,000 miles on it already, we inherited a 2001 Toyota Camry from my sister in Arizona after she went through the laborious bargaining process with an ever-so-trustworthy car dealer. Zooming through the desert turns of native American reservation land was no problem, but the vast icelands of the Rockies caused our car to begin panting a bit when entered Colorado. Therefore, we christened our car with the name Rocky, because of our intense pride in his ability to survive the mountains.

Our first stop in colorful Colorado (not counting the breaks we took on the downhills of the Rockies to rest Rocky's brakes) was Colorado Springs. No, wait. It was Durango, but there's nothing worth mentioning there, so let's say it was Colorado Springs. We stayed with a former pastor and his family, the Eberlys. Their son Kevin took us to the Garden of the Gods the next morning.

Have I mentioned our morning jogs? JooYeon and I have wanted to begin an exercise routine for over a year now, but the polluted air of Seoul simply wasn't motivating. Finally, when staying with my sister in Arizona, we tried to go out for a jog and made it only a couple minutes before Joo had to walk. All in all, that day we jogged 7 minutes with 4 walks spaced out throughout that time. We slowly increased it a minute per day, and by the time we reached Colorado were up over 20 minutes a day!

Desert Campout

One frequent life experience I had not yet shared with Joo was the campout. And so, when we arrived into New Mexico as the sun was setting, we thought, "What better place could there be for a first campout?!" Heather had given me supplies and I talked with a Native American who let us pitch a tent near the river on his expansive property near the Four Corners. We worked feverishly to get it up while there was still light- since it was a desert campout, we had to clear the place of cacti (we both have remnants of that in our hands), close off the nearby mysterious holes (in case they were rattlesnake holes), and gather dry wood for a fire. When it was complete, JooYeon was delighted, and I was relieved...

After we got the fire started, JooYeon took the initiative of throwing a dry sagebrush in the fire every time I would retrieve something from the car and return... as a sort of welcome which looked scary but cute. She also prepared a romantic candlelight dinner inside the tent for us.

As we were standing around the fire, I noticed something move behind JooYeon's feet. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a scorpion- I carted it far away, but when we were packing up the tent in the morning, we found two more!

The night got a bit cold- fifteen below- but luckily we had more than adequate bedding sent along with us by my dear sister, and so overall it was a huge success!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Arizona Addiction

One month ago, Arizona was one of the only 50 states I had never gotten around to visiting. Now, after some beautiful times with family, and especially with Heather, JooYeon and I have placed it very high on our list of possible places to live (which incidentally is a significant purpose of our current road trip.) Today is our last day here, but I'll show a couple of the highlights we had with Heather in the past couple weeks (for family highlights, see "Showalter Clan"!) First, there was the green grass which both JooYeon and I were elated to walk upon...

In order to outlet this exuberation, we chose the nearest huggable thing around. I chose a crazy person while Joo opted for a more tingly object.

JooYeon also enjoyed shopping with Heather, although our travel budget just has enough room for the driving gas, not for any actual purchases. But most of all, we just enjoyed sitting around the fireplace (shown below with Diane) to warm up from the bitter cold weather Arizona is so famous for :) And opening coconuts.

Kimchi Hunt

One of our concerns about possibly living in America was whether or not we could find enough of the Korean staples to give JooYeon a strong connection with home. We were delighted to find both kim-chi and the powerful gochu (red pepper) in our first shopping excursion!

Deeper searching revealed a cactus plant used in making Korean chocolates and even... lo and behold... a Korean humanoid! Eun Ha is a 29 year-old Korean doing voluntary service through MCC and so both JooYeon and her were glad to unleash some rapid dialogue.

The Showalter Clan

After braving the ghettos of LA, perhaps JooYeon thought she had an easy road ahead of her... little did she know of her upcoming initiation into the Showalter clan. The grand master (pictured below) is known for his unpredictable personality.

The grand madame, on the other hand, possesses a more subtle influence beginning from the feet up, as was illustrated after a pedicurous brainwashing (shown below). Ah, my poor innocent Love... she even came to realize that my mild appetite for kim-chi was transfigured into an insatiable craving for pizza upon entering the US. And so, it was only a matter of time, before she became...

a true American. (sob, sob)

Luckily, the Showalter clan has over time been influenced by the pacifist Mennonite vaccine and so as soon as that kicked in, and JooYeon had fully released herself to the cult, we had a great time enjoying sights such as the Grand Canyon.

Go Stop!

When my mother-in-law first taught me the game "Go Stop" by making a detailed chart (shown below), even she couldn't have fathomed the craze it would start for our travels. The deck is a beautiful arrangement of the 12 months of the year, each based on a traditional Asian flower. It includes both modern and ancient Korean language, wildlife, and even some images symbolic of Confucianism. The game itself is a momentum-filled frenzy filled with clearing, shaking, bombs, and of course, the Great Poop (see the final picture of me playing the computer).

Although the airplane was a bit slippery, once we were on firm carpets (and park tables), the game took off. Shown here are my sister (above left), her friend Diane (above right), Jeremy and Eun Ha (below left), Nathan (below right), and the wonderfully hospitable Marion and Judy (far below). On a slight tangent, Marion's claim to fame happened when his car broke down alongside a highway and he couldn't get any help. As it was getting dark, he finally came up with the idea of pretending to be dead, upon which several drivers called the police and he had help within 10 minutes!