December 1, 2010 - Sarasota, Florida, United States

So I made it to the States! I arrived in Miami on Tuesday the 23rd, and after being to 23 countries in the last 10 months, the customs office asked me just one question—“Did that lip piercing hurt?” No joke. When I said “It felt like a pinch,” he just said “Ok” and stamped my passport. That easy! Then I get on the bus and everyone is speaking Spanish. It didn’t even feel like I was in the States (I could count on one hand the number of times I have taken a public bus in America!!). On the way to the hostel the bus passed by Mount Sinai Medical Center, and I smiled to myself, thinking “I did a sunrise hike up that thing.” For dinner I had the $3 hostel dinner, which was pretty good, then started drinking a Four Loko with some of the other backpackers. There was a group of us hanging out that included an Aussie, German, Chilean, English, and me. The airport had temporarily lost the German’s bag, and we were going to a club with a dress code, so I lent him my jeans and the Chilean girl lent him her boots. Haha! He pulled it off beautifully. We head out and have a fun night (even though it was a Tuesday) in South Beach Miami.

The next day, after very little sleep and 3 public buses, I make it to the Greyhound station and actually have a surprisingly fun Greyhound experience. I don’t know if it was because it was around the holidays (the day before Thanksgiving) or what, but everyone was so friendly and sane! This guy comes up to the girl next to me and says “I need to get on this next bus, but I am short $7. Can you spot me any?” and before I know it everyone around had given him a dollar or two, and he could buy his ticket! Then I really wanted some Cheez-Its from the vending machine, but it wouldn’t accept my $5. I asked if anyone had change for a $5, and one guy says, “I don’t have change, but let me just see if I have $1 that I can give you”!!!! It was crazy how generous and kind everyone was being. The woman next to me asked if I could watch her purse while she went to the bathroom. Then on the bus ride everyone was chatting and joking. And there was this old woman who was skin and bones and looked like she may have had a stroke, and while it was starling to see her and most people would be embarrassed or scared to talk to her, a lot of the people were just starting conversations and one of the guys helped her walk to the bus bathroom and called her “baby doll.” It was so cute and gave me some more faith in humanity. Anyway, after 6 and a half hours, I made it to the Bradenton Greyhound station. Dad picked me up and brought me home. My sister and brother have gotten sooooo big since the last time I saw them! They are absolutely adorable. Very fun, sweet, fun, loving—everything I could ask for in a sibling : )

Thursday is Thanksgiving! In the morning Vada, Frankie, and I play baseball out in the street. In the afternoon we had over to the neighbor/friend’s house for the T-Day meal. There weren’t many kids my age, so I just decide to spend time with the sibs and their friends. We play house : ) Then at home I play “dunk tank” with Frankie, then Rock Band with both Vada and Frankie, then head to bed.

Friday is more sibling time!! We play Hi Ho Cherry-o, kickball, The Price is Right video game, and jump around on the trampoline. After the kids go to bed, I start reading “The Help” (fictional book told from the point of view of three different interconnected women in Mississippi in the 60’s), then hang out with Dad after he gets home from work, and finally go to bed after a fun and exhausting day.

The next day Dad, Frankie, and I go to Strike Zone, were we all do the batting cages, air hockey, and foosball. I love games. Then we watch Phineas & Ferb, which is a kid show, but is hilarious and has a lot of adult humor in it. That night I to go with dad to work at Tommy Bahama’s. I go to the beach for sunset, watch dad play, and read my book for a bit at Starbuck’s.

Sunday Dad plays at O’leary’s, so I go with him. I know a few of the regular customers and workers, so I talk to them, listen to Dad, and read a little more of my book. Dad and I get jalapeno poppers for dinner : ) Then when we get home Dad and I go for a night walk around the neighborhood.

Monday was Dad’s day off, so we do a lot of stuff! We get a yummy brunch at First Watch (cheese mushroom caps, potatoes, eggs, and toast), then head to the beach. After traveling around the world, I have to say that Sarasota has some great beaches!!! The sand at Lido Beach is powder white, and the water is a beautiful blue. Very nice. We walk up and down the beach for a while, which I liked. We saw some dolphins, a blue heron, and a fisherman catch a baby hammerhead shark. Then we went to a resort that Dad used to play at and we played a game of ping pong before going back to the house. After getting some coffee, changing, and saying good night to the kids, we head back out and go to Outback Steakhouse for dinner (my first time!). Then we go to the Gator Club where we have a couple drinks and play a few games of pool. We head home and talk on the patio for a while, where I learn a lot. Every time I talk with Dad, he teaches me more things. Just a few of new tidbits from this night: 1.) the definition of irreverent (which I love! “Showing a lack of respect for people or things that are generally taken seriously”); 2.) the true meaning of decadence (I always thought of it as something positive, which it normally isn’t); 3.) what was named after Marquis de Sade; and 4.) that the Philippines used to be a territory of the USA. I had a great day with my pop : )

Yesterday afternoon Dad and I went for a walk around the neighbor and nature reserve. We even found some ripe oranges to pick! After a lunch of nachos, Dad heads to work and I start organizing and packing my bag for the last time of the trip :O Vada has Girl Scouts, but Frankie comes home and I make mac & cheese and green bean casserole and we watch some episodes of Author. Then Vada comes home and I help her with her math homework.

Today Dad and I had Chinese food, picked up the kids from school, then headed to the airport. It was so good to everyone. I am glad I get to see them again in 3 weeks for Christmas! My first week in the States has been great, and I don’t think I felt any culture shock. Pretty easy to get back in the swing of things. Now I am waiting in Atlanta, Georgia for my connecting flight to ST. LOUIS!!!!!!! I left January 19th, so it has been 10 months and 12 days. Longest I have ever been away from home. I enjoyed my trip immensely, but now I am really looking forward to getting back!


me and pop for sunset at Lido Beach
Frankie, Vada, and me


December 2, 2010
it was soooo good to have you here, miss you already. love, dad
Aunt Chrissie:
December 2, 2010
Gotta tell you Sweetie, I thought that last entry of yours "Dominican Republic" - well, I thought it was going to be your last and I was SOOOOO bummed.
Imagine how tickled I was to find this entry waiting for me this morning.
I hope you never stop traveling and blogging and sharing your adventures with those of us who have enjoyed going along for the ride.
Welcome home Niki.
Fuzzy Travel · Next »
Create blog · Login