Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Greetings from The Woodlands, Texas!

Hi everyone! We have arrived at our final destination, The Woodlands!

This is where Kristin's parents are going to live now. They are very excited. Yesterday they drove me and Kristin around the area where they are going to live. It is very nice. Kristin says The Woodlands is a "planned community." That means shopping areas can only be in certain places within the city. Who knew?

Kristin's parents don't officially move into their new house until next week. So I only got to see the outside. Here it is:

It sure looks nice, doesn't it? Kristin says if I am lucky I will get to come back later this year and see the inside. I promised Kristin I would be VERY good. I love Texas and I want to come back.

So this marks the end of my latest adventure to Texas. Kristin and I are flying back to Iowa today (yes...I got to go through the x-ray scanner again. I LOVE going through the scanner!).

Until next time....bye!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Greetings from Texas

Hi everyone! I am writing to you from the great state of Texas. I have been here several times and I know Kristin is excited to be back in Texas.

Today was a LONG day in the car. It took EIGHT hours to get from Olathe (where we stayed last night) to Gainsville (where we are staying tonight). We started at at 6:20AM and ended late this afternoon.

Whew! That's more than 450 miles! Now I am glad Kristin got me a toy and a game yesterday. It really helped to pass the time in the car. But I also spent time looking out the window. In Kansas I saw a HUGE field of yellow flowers. Kristin told me they were sunflowers. She also told me that Kansas is known as "The Sunflower State." I had no idea!

Today we also drove through Oklahoma. I was really excited when we arrived at the first stop in Oklahoma. I've never been in now I can cross it off my list of states I still need to visit. :)

Here I am with Kristin's dad at our first stop in Oklahoma.

Gainsville, where we are staying tonight, is along the Oklahoma - Texas border. Tomorrow Kristin says we will reach our final destination, The Woodlands, Texas. It rained for much of the afternoon and I know Kristin is tired. So I am going to quietly play tonight and let her sleep.

Until next time....bye!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Greetings from Kansas!

Hi everyone. I am writing to you from Olathe, Kansas. See if you can find it on the map.

I am in Kansas with my friend Kristin and her parents (Campbell and Lynda). Her parents are retiring to Texas and are moving from Madison, Wisconsin to a place called The Woodlands (just north of Houston). See if you can find The Woodlands on a map.

Kristin is driving her Mom's car to Texas and they said I could come along for the ride. Awesome! I've never been in Kansas before.

Kristin warned me the trip might be a bit boring because our goal is to get to The Woodlands by Tuesday night (July 28). So Kristin says we will not be stopping very often. I told her that's OK. I don't mind watching the cars go by along the highway.

But Kristin did get me a game and a stuffed bear to play with in the car and to remind me of my drive through Kansas. Thanks Kristin!

The bear even zips up into a football. How cool is that?

That's all for now. Kristin says we need to head to bed soon because we have to be on the road VERY early tomorrow morning.

Bye for now....

Guess Who Visited Me in Muscatine?!

Hi everyone. I have VERY exciting news.

My friend Kristin called me this week and told me that one of my friends from New York City was going to be in Muscatine to visit me. Hmm....I have met many people in New York City. So I had no idea who was coming to visit. And of course, Kristin kept it a surprise until I arrived at her house.

So you can imagine my shock when I saw who was staying with Kristin. It was my old friend Mr. B (David Brancaccio)! You might remember Mr. B. worked with Kristin and my friend Keith on some radio programs. He is now the host of a television news program called "NOW" on public television. Here I am with Mr. B and Mrs. B (Mary) at Kristin's house.

I was so excited to see Mr. B that I almost forgot to ask him why he was in Muscatine. I never imagined I would see him in Iowa. It turns out that Mr. B rode in RAGBRAI (the big bike ride across Iowa) last week. His wife Mary was attending a workshop for writer's in Iowa City. Cool!

Thanks Mr. B for stopping by Muscatine and saying hello! Maybe I will get to visit you in New York again some day soon.

Until next time....

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I'm Back!

Hi everyone! It has been awhile since I've updated you. Well that's because I haven't been out on the road. But I have some exciting news to report.

First, my alter-ego Michael spent all day helping my friend Kristin at the Muscatine Art Center's annual Ice Cream Social. Michael even wore a hat with flowers...and here is the picture to prove it.

How awesome is that photo?!

But the best news is that my friend Kristin has a new job. She isn't working in radio anymore. She says the bad economy has left many journalists looking for new work. I'm sad Kristin isn't working in radio (and I know she is sad too). We had so many fun adventures.

But, Kristin says her new job will take her to many places in Iowa. At first I wasn't sure traveling around Iowa would be all that much fun. But then I realized I have been all around the world but I don't know much about the state I live in! So, Kristin promises to take me on a few trips with her as she travels around the state. Cool!

That's all for now. I hope you are having a great summer!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Greetings from Turkey

Hi everyone! Greetings from Istanbul, Turkey. See if you can find it on the map. Kristin says it is the third largest city in Turkey.

It took a REALLY long time to get here. Two long airplane flights and a layover in London. I am SO tired and Kristin is tired too! Here is a look at her hotel room. It's is small and very "girly" (there are flowers painted on the woodwork). Kristin calls it "quaint." I'm not sure I really know what that means but at this point I am so tired, I'm not sure I care.

We arrived at the airport around 4:05pm on Monday afternoon. Everyone's luggage arrived with the plane. Whew! As soon as everyone in Kristin's group had gathered, we took a bus to our hotel. Here are some photos Kristin took from the bus window. The first one shows the flag of Turkey combined with the flag for a Turkish airline.

Here the flag of Turkey is flying along with several other important flags. Can you guess which ones? (Hint....the European Union, the United States, South Korea, China and Japan.)I learned from reading Kristin's guide book that Istanbul is a very old city that has lots of interesting buildings. Our guide called this building a "castle." I told Kristin it reminds me of the fort I saw in Prizren, Kosovo this summer. Kristin said it should. That's because rulers from Turkey used to control Prizren many, many, many years ago during something called the "Ottoman Empire." Maybe Kristin told me that in Kosovo...but if she did, I forgot.

Here's a street sign that proves I really am in Istanbul. :)

Kristin says most of the people who live in Turkey are Muslim. That's why there are so many mosques here. I had no idea. The mosque minarets (or towers as I call them) are really neat.

Halfway to our hotel I started to notice what looked like an ocean FULL of boats and HUGE ships! Kristin says Istanbul is located along something called the "Bosporus Straight."

Kristin says this is a very important body of water. That's because half of Istanbul is on the European Continent and the other half is on the Asian Continent. The Bosporus divides the two continents. Kristin says that's why Turkey is known as the country that bridges Europe and Asia. WOW! I had no idea?

I even saw a fish market from the bus....although I am not sure I would want to eat those fish.

We are staying at the Armada Hotel. After Kristin checked into her room, she took a walk around the hotel's neighborhood. Here are some photos she took during her walk.

I should tell you that Kristin found Pop-Kek's (the yummy ding-dong like cakes I had in Kosovo) and Coke Light at a little store near the hotel. She was VERY happy when she found both in the same small store!
That's all for now. I am very tired and need to head to bed. Don't forget to click on the links Kristin includes in the posts. They will give you even more information than we can about the things we are seeing. And check out the twitter feeds. Kristin's phone is working here so I should be able to keep you updated via twitter even if I don't have computer time for uploading photos.
Until next time....bye!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

BIG NEWS! I'm Headed to Turkey!

Hi everyone! I have big news. I have been so busy with school and Kristin has been so busy with work since we got back from South Africa that we haven't had time to work on the rest of the photos from that trip.

Today I just found out I am headed to Turkey! Can you believe it? First, I can't believe there is a country named after my favorite Thanksgiving food. But beyond that, I can't believe I am headed overseas on another trip. How cool is that?!

Kristin and my friend Sean, who works with Kristin at the Stanley Foundation, are going to Turkey with a group of journalists. Kristin says it is similar to the trip we took to Korea last fall. I know this place called Turkey is in Europe, but see if you can find it on the map.

Kristin says we leave today and will spend the night in Washington, DC before catching another flight to Turkey. I have already seen Kristin's schedule and I know she is going to be BUSY! So watch the twitter section for updates and we'll get photos posted when we can.

Bye for now!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Elvis, Football, and More

Hi everyone! I hope you are doing well. I am fine here in Johannesburg! But, I was WAY TOO tired from that jet-lag stuff to write a big story last night. So here are some photos of my first day in South Africa. I will fill in the blanks later.

Here are photos from the future site of the 2010 World Cup. It's the biggest soccer tournament in the world! Kristin says it is like the Super Bowl and the World Series...but MUCH bigger. And here, they call soccer "football." Very interesting.

Here I am with my new friend, Eben.

There were several of these mountains near the World Cup stadium. But Eben told us they are not mountains. They are called "mine dumps." Who knew?

I don't need to explain what this is!

Here you can choose a cup of corn or french fries with your Happy Meal. VERY strange!

There are many, many poor people here in South Africa. Some live in metal shacks.

Others live in new housing. These houses are being built for poorer people. The people with more money live in houses surrounded by tall you can't even see the house.

We visited a placed called Soweto. It used to be the poorest and most violent part of Johannesburg. Today it is much nicer. Keith was shocked when we visited Soweto. He was here in 1994 and said it was more like the shantytowns I saw in Brazil.

This is the house Bishop Desmond Tutu used to stay at in Soweto.

And this is the place where Nelson Mandela used to live. He is a very famous person that was once president of South Africa. I'll have to tell you more about him when I have time. The house in Soweto is being renovated for a museum so we couldn't see the house. But I can at least say I was there!

We ate lunch in Soweto....something Eben says would have been impossible 5 years ago. The restaurant lets people sign their menus. So Kristin helped me sign mine. I had grilled cheese. YUM!

Here is the Maponya Mall....a brand new mall in Soweto. It has a huge elephant outside of the main entrance.

Here are some more photos of Johannesburg.

And this is Elvis. He hangs just below the rear view mirror in Eben's car. :)

Bye for now.....