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This website chronicles our trip around the world in 2006. It has lots of photos, videos and stories. We invite you to come in, relax and enjoy the scenery.

~Lee and Sachi LeFever

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A Dispatch is a report from our trip. Browse via keywords or global map.

Koi Men and Old Friends

By: leelefever on December 24, 2005 - 9:28am
It's good to see old friends and family, ya know? That is one of the big reasons we made the trek back to the Southeast US, which is actually the opposite direction of all our future travels in the next year. I grew up in the SE and a lot of best friends from college and grad school are scattered across the region.
From Cary, Ocean Isle and Chapel Hill, NC and Charleston, SC the overwhelming feeling I got was that everyone is all growns up. (The phrase "all gowns up" is from the movie Swingers, if you're wondering).  Kids, dogs, houses, wives - I'm proud see the my homeys get their life on.  We owe everyone a big thanks for the hospitality. Luckily, a couple of folks, JJ and Casey, have done a ton of travel in SE Asia and plenty of stories to share.
The "Koi Man" truck- my Dad's Ford F-150 did a great job getting us around.  He really is a Koi Man.  My parents founded Blue Ridge Fish Hatchery in 1958 and since has been one the largest suppliers of goldfish and Koi to the US.  Along the way, my Dad, brother and uncle created a new variety of Koi with long flowing fins called the "Butterfly Koi". My brother got credit for coining the new name.  For more information, read the Origin of the Butterfly Koi.
I'll write about the fish hatchery again before we leave on the 30th bound for Hawaii.


By: leelefever on December 21, 2005 - 5:20am

I almost killed us yesterday.  We were on the way to the Magnolia Plantation just outside of Charleston and I was driving.  In the middle of telling a story, I looked up and the cars had stopped in front of us a bit unexpectedly, at least for me. I slammed on the breaks and ended up turning off the road (crossing the other lane) into a parking lot.  All was well, but Sachi now insists "No more telling stories- you just drive". I agree.

The Plantation has something I had never encountered before- a "Swamp Garden".  It sounds appealling eh?  It was pretty cool, I'd have to say. In the summer crocodiles live in the swamp and the scenery is somehow beautifully decayed.  Things seem to rot and be teeming with life at the same time.  What's a visit to SC without a Swamp Garden tour anyway?




Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, Charleston, South Carolina

By: leelefever on December 19, 2005 - 2:23pm
When I lived in Charleston 1996-1998, there were two bridges over the Cooper River and just before I left, studies were done and both bridges were given a grade of "F" in terms of overall structural integrity.  Something had to be done.
This summer (2005) the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge was opened and replaced the two previous bridges across the Cooper River. I wrote about it on my personal blog a while back.
Today Sachi and I walked across the bridge to check it out - an activity I recommend.  We started from the Mt. Pleasant (north end) side of the bridge. 
We both have a certain fascination with such huge structures and walking across the bridge was something we both agreed we wouldn't forget.  Below are some of the pictures we took on the walk.
This is the first of two spans, facing south. 
Facing North in the middle of the spans, with Sachi
 Here are what is left of the old rickety bridges that are now being broken.
This is what it looks like at night (Not our photo)
 Charleston Bridge.gif

Charleston and the South Carolina Lowcountry

By: leelefever on December 19, 2005 - 2:10pm
There is something special about Charleston, South Carolina and I think it has something that has to do with good ole' southern charm.  I always wish I could take Seattleites on a tour of Charleston to experience the South that I love instead of the South they see in Nascar races. Charleston is a bastion of the Old South and retains a load of southern charm and beauty that is unrivaled.  It's also where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.
JJ and Shannon, a couple of our best friends, moved from Seattle to Charleston recently and we're staying with them (and their dogs Pooch and Murphy) for a couple of days. This is JJ and Murphy on the right)
The aside from the charm of the people, it's the historical architecture that sets Charleston apart. It's a city that is situated on a peninsula with the majority of the historical homes toward the tip of the peninsula.  Back in the mid-to-late 1700's and early 1800's Charleston became one of the biggest cities in what was becoming America.  The land owners from all over the south built huge houses in Charleston as their "places in the city"; places to go and socialize with other rich land owners.
It should be mentioned that this was a time of slavery in the South and the spoils of land ownership, including the homes in Charleston, were built upon the labor of slaves.  Though not a proud history, slavery is very much a part of the history of Charleston.
Today, the homes of land owners still exist in Charleston and the vast majority are private residences.  Walking around the "Battery" or the tip of the peninsula, is perhaps the biggest draw among tourists and for good reason-- the area has block after block of impeccably maintained homes and gardens build in the late 1700's.  The place just bleeds with southern charm and historical societies play a big part in maintaining the history of the city.
The downtown area of Charleston is also home of the College of Charleston which is famous among many males in the South for having a very favorable female to male ratio.  I've heard 1:4 4:1 and 1:6 6:1 female to male estimates.  Having lived in Charleston for a couple of years, I can vouch for both the number and beauty of the residents- unlike any other place I've seen, honestly.   
I'll come back to Charleston one day when I'm ready for my life to be slower and more laid back. It will be a while. :)

Under a Pier at Ocean Isle Beach, NC

By: leelefever on December 18, 2005 - 11:12am

If this keeps up, we expect New Zealand to be cold and windy. We' re heading south to Charleston, SC, where I lived before moving to Seattle in 1998. Here's to hoping for a little southern warmth... I'm sure we'll feel it from the people.

Ice, Ice Baby

By: leelefever on December 16, 2005 - 9:00pm

We got into North Carolina on Independence Air after having to be de-iced on the tarmac in Washington Dulles.  Unfortunately, the de-icer got into the plane's exhaust and we had to go back to the gates for a while.  We finally made it in about 7pm last night (2 hours late), during an ice storm that blanketed everything but the roads in about an 1/8th inch of ice.  We've had enough ice for a while.  But we did get these pics...



After writing about trying to leave work behind, something funny happened tonight. We're staying with my cousin Bruce on our way to the coast and after pizza and a movie we went to bed.  What did we find in our guest room?  A wireless router.  So, here I am typing and Flickring away. Oh well.

Learning to Stop Working

By: leelefever on December 16, 2005 - 10:48am

We're temporarily at the house where I grew up in Kernersville, NC with my parents.  We're just about to leave for a road trip around the southeast to see friends.

I'm struck today, when I'm supposed to be relaxing at home, by my compulsion to check email, blog, upload pictures to Flickr and basically keep up with my online life.  I need to slow this trend down.

I think that I haven't really stopped working at all.  All the deliverables from my normal work world have been transitioned to to-dos on the trip.  I am drawn to fill gaps of relaxing by thinking about what I could do on the computer, even as I sacrifice more trip oriented activities.  I couldn't wait to have the feeling of not working, but it seems inescapable. 

As we said from the very beginning, we want to have a good trip more than a good web site and I have to keep that in mind.  Of course, I realize that I'm practicing that which I criticize about myself at this moment- it just feels good I suppose.

LaGuardia Love

By: leelefever on December 15, 2005 - 9:22am
The last few moments of New York - not so great. We arrived early and went to the gate printed on our boarding passes. About 10 minutes before take off time we ask what is up and the flight had been changed to a different gate. Had we not asked, I might be writing a much nastier message. Also, there was only one bathroom on the whole concourse and it was closed for repairs for all but the final seconds before we boarded. Ugg. Off to North Carolina now for the holidays and working bathrooms.
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Yay! Corner Bistro and New Friends

By: leelefever on December 14, 2005 - 9:03pm

Susie told us about the Corner Bistro in a comment and we wanted to check it out today, but missed it and thought all is lost.  As luck would have it, we had dinner tonight with two awesome folks that live here in Manhattan (Ken and Stephanie) and you guessed it- we went to the Corner Bistro, which lived up to all the hype. It's crowded, noisy, the service is spotty, the urinals in the bathroom areBurger at Corner BISTRO way too close together and the food is served on paper plates, but damn those burgers are oh-so-thick-n-tasty.

 The great company rounded out the night too.  Like AJ and Andrew, Ken and Stephanie were a wealth of sage travel advice.  I feel like we have learned so much from hanging out with people here and we are very thankful.  I'm hoping Sachi will follow up this post (likely our last in NY) with the notes she took tonight.

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News and Lessons from New York

By: leelefever on December 14, 2005 - 3:12pm
I don't think it's been above freezing since we arrived - according to the local news, this is officially a "Winter Blast".  I agree.  The other big news here is the transit strike.  Tomorrow night at midnight, the transit workers may go on strike, which would grind the city to a halt.  We're leaving midday tomorrow, so we don't have to worry about it, but people here are preparing for the worst.
We've learned a couple of things in our limited time on the road so far...
  • Always leave the room with what you'll need for the whole day- you never know how long you may be gone.
  • Come back to the room with a bottle of water and some snacks, you never know how long you will be there.
  • Don't try too hard to see/do everything you can.  An afternoon nap can do wonders. 
  • Find a map of the city and transit system early and learn how the system works as soon as you can.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help.
I thought this was a neat picture of a Hawaii girl who had never walked on ice before...