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FOF This Date In History – Thanksgiving in Vanuatu

Ramen and baked beans. That was our Thanksgiving 2009 dinner menu. So what are we thankful for this time around? Real food and great family. On this date last year, we dove a shipwreck, called an oceanside motel home, and Ash vomited after drinking the Vanuatuan traditional kava drink . Not your typical Thanksgiving to say the least.

Click here for our Thanksgiving 2009 post: http://followourfootsteps.com/2009/11/26/we-give-thanks-for-ramen-wreck-dives-and-kava/

Remember this short film we put together last year? Yikes.

Happy Thanksgiving, beware the triptafen!

- Greg & Ash

Baby Dietz: Coming November 4th

Looks Like a Baby in Jeff's BellyNow 14 weeks along and in the nasty throws of morning sickness, we are pleased to announce the Dietz family is expanding. Sorry to say, Ashley is not the one pregnant.

February 26th. Here we were, Ash and I enjoying a beautiful sunset on the Thailand island of Koh Samui 27 years to the day Ashley came screaming into the world. Jeff (my brother) and Kim (Jeff’s wife of 2 years) insisted we call them to celebrate the occasion. What a gift they had up their sleeves!

Parents To Be Current Dietz Family PC Shirt

It was Kimmy on the telephone, “Well Greg, you are going to be an Uncle, so you two better get back.” At that point, both couples began to cry salty tears of joy. Ashley and I shared looks of amazement as the parents to be provided some background and were cautiously optimistic about the pregnancy. It was a feeling one doesn’t get every day, a feeling of pure joy. Not alcohol induced, not adrenaline, or the Reds winning the 2010 World Series. Just pure joy in knowing two people we love dearly will be welcoming a little American devil this Autumn. I for one can keep a secret quite well. Ash on the other hand, questionable. Thus, she learned to accept the odd looks from Thais, Khmers, Vietnamese, Lao People, and Japanese as they gawked at the sock gagging her mouth. We didn’t resort to those lengths, but we did confide the exciting secret to trustworthy travelers we met. It just felt good to tell people the fantastic news, even if their English vocabulary consisted of ‘McDonald’s’ and ‘George Bush.’

Our ParentsWhile the news of Jeff and Kim’s first child elated us, the excitement is bittersweet. The world road offers tremendous experiences, yet we find ourselves lusting for personal contact with friends and family. Had we been in America, surely Jeff and Kim would have broke the news in some creative fashion. I could not share that moment with my best friend, Jeff, in the flesh nor hug Kim until it hurt her miniature frame. There is no rerun of seeing the joy in my parents’ (Sue and Herb) eyes when they learned of their elite grandparent status. Prior to departing for our RTW adventure, the Dietz’s accompanied the Miller’s to the British Virgin Islands where our families instantly became fused. Ash was not able to speed dial her parents in Kansas and pass along the joyous information. I remember when my good buddy, Rob, first learned he was to become an Uncle when his lovely sister Stephanie was expecting. The look of pride in his eyes was unforgettable. Being half a world away make these types of moments impossible.

BVI Trip Just Imagine This Picture with a Baby Involved Clearly They Got A Room

Being so far away has not cramped our creativity for potential names. Ash claims she needs to feel Kim’s belly to decipher the gender. I am BOY all the way. So we have come up with three suggestions for either sex. Feel free to comment below if you like a particular name or have a suggestion for Jeff and Kim:

Boy Names:

1) Aloysius – Joe Gordon, a fellow Hoosier, always loved this name and for some odd reason it has stuck with me. Send the boy to Indiana for a proper business education and a 6th NCAA title.

2) Markbert – A combination of Herb (Jeff’s Dad) and Mark (Kim’s Dad). Sounds odd at first, but after repeating 37 times, it develops a nice ring.

3) Dietz – This idea involves a trip to the Court House. Replace the baby’s last name with ‘Roboto’ and move the former surname to the first name. Hence, the baby will be affectionately known by the underrated Styx song, “Mr. Roboto.”

Girl Names:

1) Aroldis – this Cuban name is ahead of its time in Cincinnati. The left-hander will ultimately lead the Reds to multiple World Series. A stretch as a girls name? Not in 2016. Trust me.

2) Martha – What better name than the first First Lady’s?

3) BP – After the Gulf of Mexico disaster, British Petroleum is in dire need of positive press. Imagine the headlines: BP pays for baby girl’s naming rights. OK, scratch this one.

Ash and I could not be more excited for Jeff, Kim, and Little Dietz. And we cannot wait to join in the family celebrations upon returning home. We pray for a happy and healthy mother and child.

- Greg and Ashley

LA LA Land

Tarmac glowing in flashing red lights, the Boeing 747 was surrounded by ambulances and firetrucks at 2:15am. We weren’t supposed to be in Central America let alone an airport yet. No more than ten minutes earlier, the 200+ nervous passengers were awoken by the Captain explaining, “we will be making an emergency landing in Panama due to smoke in the cockpit.” Sleepy mechanics sorted out the problem and four hours later (customs issues prevented us from leaving the aircraft) we embarked for Miami once more. Needless to say, Ash and I missed our connection to Los Angeles. Such is life flying with American Airlines. I digress.

Though our time in Los Angeles was short, we set ambitious goals: spend lots of time with friends, inhale Chipotle burritos, consume Budweisers from the can, enjoy fluffy pancakes, indulge in sushi, and experience IN-N-OUT Burger. We ended our thirty hour stint in Hollywood batting 0.833 (no sushi). Not bad!

Tired and smelling ripe, our dear friend Bill was kind enough to fetch us from LAX. I was expecting a witty comment from William about my modern hobo look of pajama pants with a torn crotch, flip flops, and greasy hair. Instead we were met with his smiling face and like that we were off to Chipotle. When living in Chicago, we ate there at least once a week. A three month hiatus was painful, but the reconciliation was monumental. Bill then whisked us to his seaside one bedroom apartment in Seal Beach where we took the necessary steps to feel welcome again in public places like laundry and showering.

Nice Mo!Rocking the Combover Mutt!

Then we shot over to our good friend Mark’s pad in Newport Beach for a BBQ and Budweiser from the can. The only can of Budweiser spotted in South America was in Paraguay. I love the stuff, but when a man wielding a wheelbarrow icechest offers you a can of beer with half the label rubbed off, I decline. So thank you Mark for procuring this delicacy. How did you find it? My aspiring musician/reality TV personality/anti-virus pioneer/linguist buddy Joe even made the one hour drive to catch up. Hanging out in a neighbors apartment, we traded stories from the last three months and watched Joe sing on YouTube. I think the comparisons of him to Tracy Chapman are a bit off. Voice comparisons that is, not talent. Patronizing some local beach bars was last on the agenda though gaining access to a couple with Ashley’s photocopied passport proved difficult.

An American breakfast was in order the following morning. Ashley had to have her pancakes. Mark had been raving about Mutt Lynch’s: filling breakfast and unique schooners. We knew the establishment wasn’t messing around after seeing the billboard that read “to beer or not to beer, Shakesbeer.” A slogan Herb (Father), Jeff (Brother), and I discovered in Western Europe in 1999. Ash had her pancakes while the men drank coffee and oversized goblets of PBR. Bill’s presence was required at work, so we said our “see you in a year” goodbyes. Not shopping while in LA would be like not eating Skyline in Cincinnati. So Ash found a darling bikini that came in a strange Chinese carryout package while Mark explained the art of surfboards in a suitable way to fit into my small brain. It was back to Newport Beach and the seemingly endless beach. All the concrete and congestion of downtown Los Angeles can be unnerving, but the beach communities seem to know how to live the high life. IN-N-OUT Burger was our last California institution where we met Ashley’s cousin, Jonathan. After chowing down on a entire day of calories, we thanked Mark for hosting us and it was back to LAX with Jonathan behind the wheel. Enjoy your impending travels to South America, Jon!

Coffee and PBR ComboSufing USA Trash Collecting

Many thanks to Bill, Mark, and Jonathan for chauffeuring us around Los Angeles. Bill, gracias for the clothes… my rotation of three shirts was wearing thin (clothing joke). Mark, we are reminded of you daily by the Saint Christopher surfer medallions (lots of compliments on these too).

As we waited for the lengthy flight to Vanuatu, Ash and I agreed that we should have scheduled a few more days in Los Angeles. Good friends, tasty food, and great times. And we prayed for a smooth flight not requiring any emergency landings… the Pacific Ocean is massive.

- Greg

Learn From Our Footsteps:

1) When traveling without a mobile phone, don’t be afraid to approach a stranger, explain your situation, and ask to borrow their cell. It can be hard to find pay phones in airport terminals when you need to make an urgent phonecall. We met a nice gal who turned out to be from Cincinnati (my hometown) after needing to call Bill.
2) If an airline causes you to miss a connection for any reason, be sure to file a complaint. We were happy with American Airlines’ decision to land in Panama, but it did require new flight/ride arrangements. We each received 3,000 miles… better than nothing I presume.

Nada Nada Limonada

That old Beatles song… “Back in the U.S.A.” I never understood why The Fab Four didn’t call it “Back in the U.S.S.R.” Or did Chuck Berry already write a song with that title? Nada Nada Limonada.

Amy & Adam Wedding v24We jetted back to the Motherland for the joining of two souls in Sonoma County… California wine country. It was worth the 34 hours of travel, six airports, and one overnight stay on steel chairs at Dallas’ frigid airport. The occasion was splendid, Amy Sullivan making a beautiful Mrs. Adam Balentine. Our time in and around San Francisco was minted with memories of wedding festivities, wine tasting, and catching up with dear friends/family.

Cramming into the GMC sport utility vehicle, seven of us left the San Francisco airport to explore the City by the Bay. Needing to feel girlish once more, Ash dropped her bags then headed for the hairstylist. Meanwhile, Batman (Cate), Melissa, Heather, Ben, Grant, and Greg saw the sights: Fisherman’s Wharf, Lombard Street (crooked street), and the famous trolley cars. Caught up in the excitement, we were handsomely scammed at lunch. We were lured to the outdoor seating by a menu boasting cheap hamburgers and 68 beers on tap. The establishment conveniently left out the price for such a selection. We walked away with lighter wallets and shaking heads… $8.00 pints. Properly sauced, dinner was spent with Ashley’s Kappa Delta sorority sisters at a pizza joint then braved a lunatic taxi driver back to the hotel.

Morning came and across the Golden Gate we went. Ben became the resident expert on the bridge’s history, often reciting, “built ahead of schedule and under budget.” Knowing we were headed to Argentina, Benjamin (AKA “Bren”) was kind enough to teach us a useful Spanish phrase. When asked something in Spanish that is confusing, simply reply with “nada nada limonada”. So useful.

Ledson Kenwood

 

 

 

 

 

We pulled into the Flamingo Hotel and deposited our bags then headed east on Sonoma Highway in search of a couple vineyards looking to unload some vino. Seasoned tasters Ken (Ledson) and Lucy (Blackstone) were kind enough to instruct us novices on volatilization, grapes, and the fermentation process. Lucy took the love of wine a bit far calling pinot noir the “diva” grape after confidently informing us this would be the best tasting of our lives. Feeling a bit giddy, the girls drank champagne while getting manicures/pedicures. So the boys were left scratching their heads… what to do? Buy a case of beer of course. It had been only 6 weeks, but Greg enjoyed hanging with the guys again while playing cards pool side as women in alluring one-pieces performed water aerobics.

Hospital Gown?One day until the wedding. Ashley woke up well rested, but had peculiar bumps scattered across her body. So instead of vineyard tours, we visited Sonoma’s finest medical clinics. No doctor knew precisely what the bumps were, but prescribed an antibiotic for the welts, makeup for the redness, and plenty of alcohol for the selfconsciousness. But hey, it was our first chance to try out our traveler’s insurance! Grant rushed Ash to the wedding rehearsal just in time and the guys took a self guided tour of B.R. Cohn Winery. Next came the rehearsal dinner where the girls gave Amy a heartfelt speech, spearheaded by toastmaster Heather. Then, a white sedan pulled up with two smiling faces. Brad and Cathy Miller (Ash’s folks) had arrived!  It was such a pleasure seeing them. 

Being the excellent boyfriend that Greg is, the shaving cream and razor reared their ugly heads. After repeated requests from Ash, off came Greg’s patchy beard prior to bed. He wept as the hairs circled the drain.

Wedding Day was here. Ash met up with Amy and the Wedding Party while Brad, Cathy, Ben, Grant, and Greg headed for the Kenwood Winery. Over 90 minutes were spent exploring the grounds of the vineyard. The staff could not have been friendlier, even offering us a taste of syrah in the middle of the fermentation process. We tasted some choice selections with Dale, whom took a particular liking to Ben. Sadly, the feeling was not mutual.  Ben did not care for Dale’s meddling in how he manages his life nor his decision making process.  The rest of us got a real kick out of it.  Cheers, Dale. 

Pre-Reception Reception Kappa Deltas

 

 

 

 

We hit the showers then boarded the bus with a sack of Bud Lights headed for B.R. Cohn. Surrounded by rolling hills covered with grapes ripe for the picking, the ceremony was beautiful. Amy made a gorgeous and beaming bride, Adam brimming with joy and confidence. Batman, Melissa, Heather, Ash and the other three gals looked stunning in their pale yellow bridesmaid dresses. With warm lighting, an energetic band, and tasty food/drinks, the reception was off the charts. What a celebration.

Gun Show Bride and 3 Amigos

 

 

 

 

 

A tearful goodbye, and our good friends from Chicago headed to the airport the next morning. But we had the entire day to spend with Ash’s folks. The redwood trees of Muir Woods was our first stop. Then we headed into San Francisco as the Blue Angels flew overhead during an exhibition for Fleet Week. We feasted on fresh seafood at Fisherman’s Wharf overlooking sailboats and fishing vessels. Morning came and we said goodbye to Brad and Cathy. We slept awhile longer, then arrived at the airport for a 20 hour jaunt back to Brazil.

Ash had been anticipating this wedding since an early morning phone call last November from Amy informing her of the exciting news. Seeing one of Ashley’s best friends get married was an emotional experience for her, but she couldn’t be happier for the two of them. Friends, vineyards, and an unforgettable wedding was the prefect combination for a short stay on home soil.

Muir Woods San Fran v3

 

 

 

 

 

Does Russia have a wine country? Is there a grape that grows in Siberia? What? I am confused. Nada nada limonada.

- Greg & Ash

Tips

  1. If the price isn’t listed on a menu, always inquire before ordering. This ensures you will not have to wash dishes to pay your tab.

  2. When you feel you have been wronged by an airline, file a complaint. Our missed connection with American Airlines added an overnight stay in the airport and 12 hours to our trip. They deposited 12,000 miles to each of our frequent flier accounts.

 

God Bless America

As we depart for Machu Picchu, one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, it is hard to ignore the date on my watch. 9/11.

The memory of this date and what has transpired since evokes a wide range of emotions: profound sadness, patriotism, deep anger. Just thinking about still brings tears to my eyes. I was a Sophomore at Indiana University that Autumn morning. Sleeping safely in the cold dorm of Pi Kappa Phi alongside 45 smelly fraternity brothers, I gingerly awoke to the commotion. Was I hearing it right? No. No way. Swiftly moving through the hallway made of indestructible walls, I found my way to a room shared with 5 other Brothers. All four televisions were tuned to various stations: FoxNews, Weather Channel, CNN, Local ABC. All showing the terrifying replay of that fateful morning.

Trying to understand the magnitude of this horrendous event, we sat around the ‘tube with hardly a word spoken. When it became clear that the plane crashes were no coincidence, that it was an incredibly callous and cowardly act of terrorism, my thoughts were trained on revenge. This feeling of rage stayed with me for days, then turned to a distinct feeling of patriotism. That I lived in the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.

Knowing that the world is full of great people – from Argentina to Botswana, from India to Vietnam, from Russia to Jordan – I reckoned it was time discover what the civilized world has to offer. While I am jokester at heart, one thing I take quite seriously is being an United States of America Ambassador. The stereotype going of the USA is that Americans believe they are better than everyone else. And that is what two folks in Peru told me in just 10 days here. Though after spending some time with them, they see ordinary Americans are just like them. We share the same family values, demand respect, and are generally selfless.

Being away from the Stars and Stripes for over 12 months, makes me long for the simple things of life like ordering a burger and actually getting a burger. I will miss so many things I take for granted like sharing a beer with good friends or going to Lincoln Park High School to vote in a fair election.

If September 11, 2001 taught me anything, it is this: while humankind can be cruel at times, the masses share a common goal of freedom and prosperity. And you can’t let the bad apples overshadow all the good in this world.

Feel free to leave your own thoughts or comments below. Thanks for reading and may God Bless America.

 God Bless the USA!

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