Friday, September 18, 2015

Erica's #88 - Create a Photobook with LOAA Photos

In the event that you don't have the background on our cross-country bike ride a couple of years ago, which was coined "Looking Out Across America" or "LOAA", check out our blog HERE.

Over the course of our three month journey, we took TONS of photos, naturally.  Some were uploaded to our blog, some we added to albums on Facebook, but many of them were just hanging around in a folder on our laptops, as digital photos nowadays tend to do.  Sometimes, I just miss having an album to physically pick up, hold, and flip through the pages of.  So we decided to print (almost) all of the photos from our trip, which meant lots of photo albums and time spent organizing into chronological order!

It took months of taking advantage of the best coupons those digital prints websites have to offer in order to get everything printed for a fairly reasonable price.  Then we found some albums we liked, and bought one here and there as we found coupons for them.  Then we spent painstaking hours organizing the photos first by state, then more chronologically, and then sliding them into the pockets.  It's amazing how much shoulder, neck and back pain that can cause.

Mel made some fun dividers to designate the switch to a new state along the route.

All told, we now have six binders, each holding 300 photos each, taking up shelf space in our living room, and we couldn't be more thrilled!  Let us know if you ever want to stop by and spend a couple of hours flipping through them :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Erica's #32 - Take a Train Ride

I'm not so sure I accomplished this goal in the way that I anticipated to when I chose this particular item, but sometimes you just take what you can get, right?  It's not like I haven't been on a train before - we did take Amtrak from Portland to Seattle a couple of years ago, and I've been on some random short train rides here and there, but I was hoping for something a little more exciting than how this goal was actually accomplished.

As someone who hasn't lived in a major metropolis where public transport is king (i.e. Chicago with the El, New York with the Subway, D.C. with the Metro), my idea of a train ride is a little more romantic than most - I always envision a cozy seat (or maybe a fancy sleeper car) on a train headed West (always West), where you have nothing to do but soak in the scenery, take in a good book, and enjoy travel instead of having to rush through an airport or spend time stuck in traffic.

Instead, I checked off this goal on good 'ol Amtrak again - I had to travel to Chicago for a seminar, and rather than fighting 4 hours of driving traffic each way, I elected to take a 5 hour train ride each way.  It didn't hurt that it only cost $48 round-trip from Indy to Chicago either...

So, I think in some parts of the country, Amtrak is a perfectly well-used way to travel between two cities, and people from all walks of life use it.  This was absolutely not my experience, especially on the ride from Indianapolis to Chicago.  I had to be at the train station before 6am, which isn't pleasant in the first place, only made less pleasant by the state of Indy's current train/bus hub.  It is a hovel.  I honestly cannot believe they've let it be what it is for so long.  Granted, the city is building a new transportation hub, but this is LONG, LONG overdue.  This place is tiny, dirty, and has many permanent citizens.  It isn't a place you'd ever go willingly.

To add to my lovely experience, I was seated directly in front of a family (Mom, daughter who was 19, daughter's 19 year old boyfriend, and son who was around 15) that had to be the most ignorant, offensive, and annoying family on the planet.  Their conversations were painfully unintelligent (Mom lost the argument that Chicago was only a city, not a state), they rapped along to their loud music (N-word not excluded), joined everyone else's conversations, told everyone they saw where they were headed and why, discussed who owed them money for the prescription pills they had sold their friends back home, used the restroom every 10 minutes, smoked in the restroom, made cell phone calls every 5 minutes (usually to the same people, updating them on their travel progress), and were just a general disturbance for the entire 5 hour trip.  On the one hand, I was mostly amused the entire way...on the other, I could not get a minute of shut-eye because they could not shut-mouth.  To add to the amusement in my head, the daughter's name was Tina, and scenes from Napoleon Dynamite kept running through my head.

Other than the people, the train trip went fine.  The one thing that trains have that planes don't - they leave on time, there's no messing around.  When they say 6:22 is the departure time, they don't mean 6:23.  Other than a few delays on the tracks due to freight trains in Chicago, everything was remarkably punctual.  And the rural scenery was pleasant in the early morning through Indiana.  And, you know, you can't beat that price.  If only it were more affordable to ride Amtrak to the West Coast, I could finally realize my romantic train ride dreams!