Rachel Down Under!

Off to LA!

Posted in Virginia by rssmith218 on July 29, 2010

It’s been a long day, but my bags are officially packed (!) and I am heading to LA in the morning! I’m excited to get started on this adventure! I’ll be in touch soon!

It was hard to get started….

But I’m finally ready to be on my way!


Timing is everything…let’s keep in touch!

Posted in Virginia by rssmith218 on July 28, 2010

Tomorrow is my last full day in Virginia, and as I look towards Australia, I have constructed a spreadsheet to help us keep in touch! Admittedly, this chart is more confusing that I had initially hoped, but I am trying to give an idea of how the timing is going to match up in Sydney versus all of the US time zones (sorry for those of you in the Mountain time zone, but hopefully you still will have a good idea of timing!).

Assuming that we are all awake from the hours of 7:00 AM to 1:00 AM (long day, huh?), the times I have highlighted in blue are when it would be most “cool” to try and get in touch, either via skype/gchat/vchat/phone. I will have a cell phone in Australia, but I don’t have a number yet and while I can receive all incoming calls for free, I have a feeling it will not be cheap for you to call in. So any of the above alternatives are probably a better bet for staying in touch. Hope this helps!

So Long, Richmond!

Posted in Virginia by rssmith218 on July 27, 2010

It is hard to give Richmond a proper farewell when the temperature is wavering between 102° and 106°F. Nonetheless, I have given it a good effort these past couple days and I have worked hard to stay hydrated in the heat while seeing high school friends, old friends, and even a weekend best friend (all the way from North Carolina!).

Saying goodbye to Richmond:

1. An afternoon of swimming at Texas Beach, a “beach” with its own facebook group and 118 current fans. As you can see from this google satellite image- maybe less beach and more hot river with hot rocks?

2. A failed attempt to see unknown R& B artist Joe Tan at Richmond’s Dogwood Dell; the show was cancelled before we got there, making our man Joe Tan as mysterious as his website. Tiff and I rebounded from this disappointment with margaritas in Shockoe Bottom!

3. Lani is in town! We spent the day in the city, beginning with a picnic lunch at Belle Isle and plenty of time spent swimming in the river and exploring the island.

Our original plan to explore other sections of the James was cut short by the heat and we retreated (where else?) to the air-conditioned Museum of the Confederacy and the adjacent White House of the Confederacy, the war-time home of Confederate president Jefferson Davis. The museum’s timeline of Civil War events brought me back to my Civil War-heavy AP US history class, and while I struggled to remember Antietam (Sharpsburg?), Sherman’s march to the sea, and Appomattox, Lani impressed even the most well-read Southern visitors with her knowledge of North Carolina’s ownBennett Place.

Despite its location on the VCU medical campus in busy downtown Richmond, the White House of the Confederacy quickly had me imagining Civil War-era Richmond. From the big table in the formal dining room where the South’s battle plans were first conceived to Davis’s upstairs office with an elaborate reception room for hopeful callers, the White House delivered a romantic picture of the Confederate headquarters.

Our return to a BROKEN air-conditioner in Chester merited a run for cold beers, and we attempted to raise our spirits and cool off at the same time.

4. Gelati Celesti! Coffee and Cream + Butter Pecan!

Only 2 more days in Virginia! Got to live it up while I’m still here!


Posted in Virginia by rssmith218 on July 23, 2010

I just returned from a daytrip to Stratford Hall, the plantation home of Thomas Lee (father to two VA signers of the Declaration of the Independence). The estate was more strongly publicized as the birthplace and childhood home of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, the man who showed his loyalty to Virginia by turning down Lincoln’s request that Lee lead the Union army against the Confederacy in the Civil War. A true Southern gentlemen, one could say.

Anyway, as you can see, Stratford Hall was very pretty (lots of brick!), and we braved sun, poison ivy, and “earth slides” in our exploration of the plantation.

By far, my favorite part of Stratford Hall was the fact that, as this sign alludes, the Stratford Cliffs are a geological phenomenon that is found in only 3 other places (Belgium, Austria, and LA?), and that the fossilized remnants of salt water crocodiles, rays, and sharks, among others, can all be found here- these are all creatures that I will be seeing in Australia! Who knew that I could also find them so close to home?

According to the Stratford Hall webpage on fossil discoveries, “Thousands of shark teeth found along this area of the Potomac attest to the frequency of the sharks, largest among them being Carcharodon megalodon, or Giant White Shark, with teeth measuring 7 inches or more”. Wow!

After about 10 minutes of searching….

We found two!

Can’t wait to see what type of shark teeth I’m going to find in Australia!

Two Things

Posted in Virginia by rssmith218 on July 21, 2010

1. It is hot in Virginia.

But it is NOT hot in AUSTRALIA!

2. I have an apartment in Australia!

Can you picture me here?

How about now?

And the livin’ is easy…

Posted in Virginia by rssmith218 on July 19, 2010

I am currently at home in good ole’ Chester, VA, but soon I will be Australia-bound! I have had a great couple of weeks at home; it has been a time full of much-needed relaxation, Primrose Paths (ask my mom to make you one!), homemade ice cream (4 flavors so far!) and hot, humid, Virginia summertime weather.

Yes, I am joining the masses and am starting a blog to document my adventures in Australia over the next year. However, I mostly hope that this blog will help me to keep in touch with friends and family- you! I will try to keep it updated, but will also aim to keep my entries short, sweet, and full of pictures! That being said, I will sum up my post-college life so far with the following:

Graduation…looking forward to a future far from Northwestern

Wagner Graduation Fest in Galena

Bears, how neat! Alex and I encountered 9 bears in one day- we were admittedly a bit scared….

Otherwise, just another day in the garden!

I am so happy that I have this time at home, but I can’t stop thinking about Australia! Soon!