Madrid Part 3 (Dustin’s View)

Since I like to travel and I can work from anywhere that there is an internet connection, I was excited to join Melody on her trip. A few weeks before our trip, I found out that I have a co-worker that lives in Madrid!

We chatted a few times before we left and Javi was able to find two extra desks at his friends’ co-working space. It was basically an office about 30 minutes away (by walking) that had a solid internet connection and ergonomic desks.

Each day around 9:30am or 10am we would meet at the coworking place in Madrid. Javi and I are on different teams, so we did our own work once we got there. Around 1:30pm or 2pm we would break for lunch. They kept asking me if that was okay to eat lunch that late, since most Americans aren’t fans of eating late meals like the Europeans. When breakfast isn’t until 9am, I could certainly wait four hours for my next meal 🙂

During the mornings, I would watch the Cavs playoff games from the night before, as they started at 3am, Madrid time. I’d record the games on our DVR at home and would watch the game on my iPad, as I worked in the morning on the high speed wifi at the coworking place (yes, very geeky).

Lunches varied from Italian Calzones to Spanish Tortilla to Döner Kebab sandwiches to half of a roasted chicken. It was all delicious! We would get take out and bring all of the food back and eat at the large table in the space. The place also had a small kitchenette so a few of the guys made a fresh meal while there. We talked about the differences between Spain / Europe and the States and some of the cool things to do in Madrid, Toledo, and Valencia. Personally,I think they enjoyed working on their English, since my I only know a little of Spanish.

Depending on Melody’s conference schedule, I’d normally stay there until 5-6pm and then walk back to the hotel. It was definitely weird wrapping up my day when my coworkers were just starting theirs, since there is a six hour time difference.

On Friday, I decided to explore the city a bit and went on a Sandeman’s Walking Tour. These are free tours that are held in large city’s across the world. The guides know an incredible amount of history of their city and they deliver the 2.5-3 hour tour for free. They do work off tips, though 🙂

During my tour, I saw:

  • Royal Palace
  • Teatro Real (The Royal Opera House)
  • Plaza Mayor
  • The oldest restaurant in the world
  • and a lot of other things I don’t remember 🙂

We also learn about the Kings of Spain and how Tapas originated. If you are ever in a large European city, I highly recommend checking out to see if they have a tour available. My guide did an amazing job of telling the story of Madrid which made the statues, monuments and other buildings much more interesting. Here are a few pictures from the day:

Some evenings, Melody had activities as part of her conference, so I caught up on some of my personal project on my computer or walked around the city to explore / grab dinner. And of course, one of the evenings I had to take a tour of my favorite store, the Apple Store in Madrid. It was neat because the Apple Watch wasn’t for sale in Spain yet, so the Apple Genius’ were asking me about mine 🙂

Apple Store Madrid
Apple Store Madrid

One night when walking home from work, I decided to stop and get a bit more cash since we were running low. Our bank had a much lower fee to get money out of the ATM than using an exchange service. I saw an ATM and stopped and put my card in and after a few minutes, I realized that the machine had eaten my card! I couldn’t get any money out, nor could I get my card back.

The bank was closed already so I wasn’t able to get it back. I knew that Melody had a card that worked, so I was okay with leaving it there and going back to the hotel to cancel the card. Thru amazing technology (Google Voice on my computer), I was able to talk to a representative at our bank and she promptly cancelled the card. Whew!

Congrats Brian and Ashley!

Just wanted to post an update about another addition to our family. In October, my sister Ashley got married. Kenley acted like a perfect seven month old and stole the show, kidding of course.

Melody and I were both in the wedding party and we were fortunate to have Melody’s parents around to help with Kenley during the day. It was nice to have an extra set of hands because Kenley is much more active than she was when she was only three months old 🙂

Here are some of the pictures that were taken at the church.

Then we headed down the road to the reception which was held at The Barn at the Meadows. It’s a popular wedding reception spot in Wooster and a really neat location. It’s an old barn that’s converted into the perfect place for a fall wedding reception.

We took some fun fall photos before the festivities began, including some shots of Kenley.

Our family has grown quite a bit in the last year. In the last nine months, we’ve added a daughter, two brothers (in-law) and a niece and a nephew. Whew!

Photo credits to Marty’s Studio.

San Juan Islands & Seattle

We got up early on Friday to head north for whale watching.  We bought a groupon for a whale watching tour before leaving home. This allowed us to go for half-price.  Our goal was to be on the road by 7am.  Surprisely we actually left about 6:30.

Google maps told us it would be a little over 4 hours, but with the road going up around Mt. Rainer national park, we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to make the ferry in Anacortes. We had to be on the 11:55 ferry headed to Friday Harbor. I was a little disappointed that we didn’t have time to drive our car on the ferry, but my first ferry experience was cool nonetheless. They unload people first, then cars, and we only had 10 minutes to get to our tour from the ferry once in Friday Harbor.

The whale watching tour was really neat. We were on a 50ft boat that took us out about an hour away from the port. The main attraction was to see an Orca Whale (Killer Whale), which is the black and white whales that you see at Sea World. We saw nearly a half dozen Orka’s and we also saw a humpback whale which was really neat too. Our boat driver didn’t want to disturb them, so we weren’t able to get too close to them.

Our first whale spotting.
Our first whale spotting.
Lots of my pictures look like this one with no whales!
Lots of my pictures look like this one with no whales!
This whale's nickname is Mega (for his mega tall fin)
This whale’s nickname is Mega (for his mega tall fin)
Humpback whale exhaling
Humpback whale exhaling
Humpback whale's tail before going down for a deep dive.
Humpback whale’s tail before going down for a deep dive.

After our tour, our plan was to drive back to Seattle for dinner, but the tour finished at 5:30pm and the ferry back to the mainland didn’t leave until 6:30pm which would have put us having dinner in Seattle at 9 o’clock. Since Josh and I were starving we stopped at local place called Cask & Schooner for a small meal. The girls had salads and the guys had clam chowder.

On the ferry we found a table that someone had started an 1000 piece puzzle, so we worked on that to make the time pass quickly.

Back on the mainland, we decided to stop for dinner instead of waiting until we got to Seattle. We stopped at the Rockfish Grill and enjoyed some local fish entrees and a live band. Then we got back in the car for a 90 minute drive to Seattle. We stayed near Lake Union. Our hotel had a great location and it was a bit cheaper than staying in the downtown area itself.

On Saturday morning, our first stop in Seattle was the World Famous Pike’s Place Market. They had tons of local vendors who were selling things from art, to clothing, to produce, to fish. Plus the majority of the stands were giving away samples. We enjoyed samples of peaches, nectarines, jam, honey, blueberry vinegar and organic apple chips! Since it was the last day of our trip, we decided to not buy any produce since we didn’t want to carry it around all day nor did we have room to take it to the airport with us.

Pike's Market
Pike’s Place Market
The fish looked incredible good!
The fish looked incredibly good!

Plus, from the Market, you could see the summit of Mount Rainier. Even though it’s more than 100 miles away, you could see it’s peak in between the clouds. This was the first time we could see the peak on the trip.

Mt. Rainier in the distance behind the stadiums.
Mt. Rainier in the distance behind the stadiums.

Then Melody and I went on the Duck tour, it was a little bit corny….but a travel hacker site said it was a great way to get out on Lake Union and have a view of the city/houseboats. Our tour was redirected a bit due to the Rock and Roll Marathon that morning. We captured some pictures of the city from the water. It was an amphibious vehicle, so we were able to drive around town, then we drove right into the lake, it was definitely pretty cool!

Our land / lake vehicle.
Our land / lake vehicle.
Seattle's skyline from Lake Union.
Seattle’s skyline from Lake Union.

Josh and Sarah went on the Underground tour, which explored city blocks that are currently beneath where the street is now.

We met up at the Space Needle for lunch. We thought we were being smart and would go to the restaurant (then you didn’t have to pay admission) order the minimum required food (which is only a few dollars more than the ticket up) and then find cheaper food elsewhere if we were still hungry. It turned out to be on Saturdays/Sundays they only serve a 3-course fixed price brunch. We were already up there…so we decided to splurge and make it lunch/dinner.

View from the top of the Space Needle. Can you see Mount Rainier in the background?
View from the top of the Space Needle. Can you see Mount Rainier in the background?

Before leaving downtown we wanted to see some glass blowing. Seattle is famous for glass blowing and has the most studios and artists in the world outside of Murano, Italy. The most famous place is Chihuly Gardens, but since we splurged on the tour/space needle we decided we needed to stop spending money. So we stopped by the Seattle Glass Blowing Studio instead. They made traditional items like bowls and vases and they also made some really cool lawn ornaments.

Glass lawn ornaments.
Glass lawn ornaments.

We had asked our waitress if she had six hours left in the Seattle area before having to go to the airport, what would she do, she suggested Snoqualmie Falls. The hiking trails were closed to get a good view from the bottom but we had a great view from the upper observation decks.

Snoqualmie Falls

We still had a few hours to kill before heading to the airport. We ended up doing a little shopping and all of us found at least one deal at Half Price Books.

Our plane took off at 11:15 pm PST, luckily we both were able to get some sleep on the plane. We had a short layover in Chicago and were back to Dayton by 8:30am. After a few hours of napping we are up trying to stay awake again until bedtime. We both have to get back to work tomorrow, hopefully we adjust back to EST as quick as possible.

Thank you all for following our journey this summer, we enjoyed sharing it with you. We have a couple days of beach time planned in late July…but other than that we don’t know where the next adventure will take us, we are always up for suggestions!

Crater Lake

This morning we prepared a breakfast in our Guest House. If you’ve been following us for awhile, you know we like to find other lodging accommodations then just staying in hotels all the time. We stayed in Eugene, Oregon for two nights in a couple’s guest house. It is a small two bedroom, two bathroom house that’s attached to their house. It was built for the owner’s mother, who lives in San Francisco and refuses to move to Oregon, so they started renting it out on Since it was built for his mother, it was done up right, beautiful wood trim/floor, tile, and decor.

We left around 9am and headed out to Crater Lake. It was about a 3 hour drive south east from where are staying in Eugene. The drive had some great views of the trees and the mountains.

Crater Lake National Park is a United States National Park located in southern Oregon and was established in 1902. The park is the fifth oldest national park in the United States and the only one in the state of Oregon. The park consists of Crater Lake, a remnant of a destroyed volcano, Mount Mazama, and the surrounding hills and forests.

The lake is 1,943 feet deep at its deepest point, which makes it the deepest lake in the United States, the second deepest in North America and the ninth deepest in the world. And it has the bluest natural water we’ve ever seen in a body of water. The lake has no rivers running into it, so it’s filled with rain water and melted snow. Here are some pictures:

Look at the blue water!
Look at the blue water!




Even though it’s mid-June, they had gotten snow the day before and a majority of the road was closed. There was still snow on the ground even though it was 55 degrees. And of course, I was wearing shorts! I’m having a hard time dressing appropriately in this weather!

I'm not dressed for the weather.
I’m not dressed for the weather.

After leaving Crater Lake, we consulted our trusty “Off the Beaten Path Oregon” book and found a waterfall that was close to our path home. Toketee Falls is a waterfall that drops 120 feet. It was a short hike (less than a half mile) from the parking lot on a very well marked path.

Toketee Falls
Toketee Falls

The last stop of the day was a natural springs (Umpqua Hot Springs). Again, it was a short hike from the car up a pretty steep path. There were several pools of water with them naturally maintaining 110 degrees. We didn’t bring our swim gear, otherwise we would have gotten in!

A couple of the hot springs
A couple of the hot springs

We headed back towards Eugene and had to stop at a Bike store owner’s house who rented us a bike rack for our biking adventure tomorrow. After a quick stop at the grocery store, we headed home for to make a late dinner. We made a grain free lasagna with zucchini as the noodles. It was interesting trying to cook in our guest home because we had very limited dishes. We even had to pick up a spatula at the store so we could brown our meat.

Brookings, Oregon

Today was one of my kind of vacation days: a relax day.

We had such a gorgeous view from our condo and we didn’t have much planned, so we stayed here most of the day.


After making a vegetable stir fry and bacon for breakfast, we hiked back down to the beach to explore. There was a cave that we crawled through and I climbed a couple of the rocks.





Most of the beach is covered with water when the tide was in and it was a low tide in the morning. The sand was nice and firm to walk on. The views were incredible, but the wind was fierce and windy. It was at least 10 degrees colder on the beach than it was up at our condo.

Our condo up on the hill
Our condo up on the hill

We stayed here for lunch and enjoyed bison meat taco salads while overlooking the ocean.

After lunch we were all on our computers catching up with our email and blog posts.

For dinner, Josh and Sarah ran out to a local fish market and got Local Rock Fish. We blackened it and ate it while admiring the breathtaking view (can you tell I really like the view here?).

2013-06-12 12.05.38

We finished up the evening by watching Jurassic Park 1 & 2 since some of the scenes were shot in Fern Valley that we drove through yesterday.

Well, that’s all for today. We’ve got a lot of driving ahead of us for tomorrow.

San Francisco Part 1

Hello from San Francisco!

We got into town late on Thursday night and rode a shuttle from the airport. When we finally got settled, it was 3am back at home and we were exhausted!

Today was a busy day which we spent with three different friends.

First up, we met one of my friends from online in San Jose. Sean is listener to my podcast and we’ve done some work together before. We picked him up at his condo and went to a local tea shop called Fantasia. The tea was really good and the weather was beautiful, so we sat outside and enjoyed some fruit flavored green tea.

2013-06-07 10.47.32-2

Up next, was my favorite part of the trip. I got to meet my friend Mark, who I used to work with at Whirlpool. He now works for Apple in Cupertino. If you know me at all, you know I’m a huge Apple fan and I was so excited to see the Apple Campus.

Mark took us to lunch at CaffĂ© Mac which is the best cafeteria, we’ve ever experienced. All of the food is organic and most of it was gluten free. Exactly the way we like it!

We spent some time eating lunch and walking around campus and of course had to get our picture taken in front of Apple sign.

2013-06-07 13.25.12

After we left Apple, we decided to stop Google since it’s was on the way. They had another extremely large campus. We thought we’d be able to check out their store and get something cool with Google’s logo on it, but you had to know an employee that works there in order to get in. So after getting a picture with a Google bike, we headed out of Mountain View. (Google furnishes employees with bicycles to ride to and from work or from one office building to another).
2013-06-07 13.58.22

Once we left Google, we headed over to the coast to see Poplar Beach. It was the first beach of the trip and it was extremely windy and a little bit chilly!

It was actually much warmer once we climbed down a small cliff to the sand. This was our first experience with the craziness of San Francisco’s weather. It can be 10 degrees difference in temperatures between two areas in close proximity.


Cold but beautiful! (Near Half Moon Bay)

After the beach we headed up Hwy 1 toward San Francisco and on to Marin County where we are staying for the next 3 nights.  We headed across the Golden Gate Bridge which was almost completely fogged in at the time.

After checking out the hotel we headed to Tiburon a little bit south of where we are staying (still on the north side of the bay) for dinner with a colleague Melody is working on a paper with through the American College of Clinical Pharmacy.  We ate at Servino’s which was an Italian place right on the water!  

2013-06-07 19.01.17

We splurged a bit on a gluten free pizza, it’s been a while since we have had pizza and it was awesome!  Tina and Wilfred shared all about this area of California and Melody learned a lot about pharmacy in this area, she loves connecting with people all trying to advance the practice around the country. It’s also fun to hear life experiences from different perspectives and meet new people. Before we knew it it was 10pm and we were exhausted!

Jamaica Part 5: Maintenance Team

Hey everyone, Dustin here and I wanted to share a little bit about my experience in Jamaica as it was quite different from the medical and dental teams.

Last year towards the end of the trip, we talked about having a building project of some kind that I (and other non-medical people) could work on during the week. Turns out that Vinus (our project leader) wanted me to lead that team this year.

While I consider myself pretty handy, I felt that it would be quite difficult for me to lead a team on a project in a foreign country, especially since I would have to find a way to get all the tools there from the United States and I knew there wouldn’t be a Lowe’s right around the corner to pick up the supplies that I forgot about.

We decided before we left for Jamaica that we would bring some small tools and do whatever misc tasks we could find around the camp.

The maintenance team was composed of three people; myself, Matt who is a website developer from San Diego and Randy from Texas. The first two days we split up and we helped the teams set up the tents for the clinics as well as moved furniture around the clinics so the doctors could work efficiently. There wasn’t much for us to do, so we just helped where we could. I also was named as the unofficial photographer, so I spent my idle time taking pictures of people serving the Jamaicans.

I was the only brave soul who volunteered to drive during the trip and I drove all around the country. I got very good at dodging potholes and navigating around St. Elizabeth. It was a little bit of a challenge remembering how to drive on the left side of the road, but it came back to me quickly.

Locals moving the “lawn mowers”

My main task each day was to go and get hot lunches for the medical teams. This normally consisted of Jamaican Patties, which are essentially deep fried hot pockets. To get these juicy patties, I would have to drive into Santa Cruz (usually 45 minutes from the clinics), pick them up and scamper back to the medical teams. I would normally drop the food off at the closest location, stay for a few minutes and head to the other clinic site so our medical teams could enjoy a warm(ish) lunch.

Stack of cash to purchase lunch
Stack of cash to purchase lunch

After the lunch run was over, the maintenance team and I would head back to Ocean View Bible Camp. If it was convenient, we would try to stop at the dental clinics on the way home to see them in action and take a few pictures.

On Tuesday evening, we heard of this great opportunity to help out one of the local Jamaicans. Marteeka is a single mom that lives right down the street from the camp and she was starting her own little general store. The problem was that no one knew she had this shop.

Our Mission: Build a sign to showcase her store.

Using recycled pieces of wood and paint that we found, we were able to construct a sign for her.

Randy carrying the board to the neighbors to get it cut
Randy carrying the board to the neighbors to get it cut

The only thing we had to buy was a bag of cement to secure the sign posts in the ground.

We spent the mornings on Thursday and Friday building and painting the sign.

Matt applying the first coat of white paint
Matt applying the first coat of white paint

We were successfully able to put the sign in the ground on Friday, right before the rain came. Luckily we had used the correct paint as the letters on the sign didn’t run after painted with rain.



My other responsibility was to help Dr. Willett (one of the dentists) make popcorn for everyone. Dinner was usually on the small side, so we would make popcorn in the evenings for everyone to enjoy.

Dr. Willet making popcorn.
Dr. Willet making popcorn.

This year the trip was much different than last year, but I’m so thankful that I went. I had the opportunity to serve the team by bringing them food / running errands and I got to experience the joy that the Jamaicans have for life and the blessings they have. I can’t think of a better way to spend a week to help me focus on the most important thing in our lives, our relationship with Jesus.

Tips for Driving in Europe

Yesterday we had to turn in our rental car and here are a few things that Josh and I learned while driving in Europe.

Every car has a clutch
Yep, that’s right, every car is a manual. I learned how to drive a standard when I learned how to drive as I remember my dad saying “You never know when you might need to know how to drive a stick shift car,” well, now I need to know. Thanks Dad!

Speed Limits Don’t Necessarily Need to Be Followed
While driving on small roads to the secluded beaches in Ireland, the speed limit on the winding road was 110kph (nearly 65mph) and I couldn’t go much faster than 50kph. I have found that I have been going under the speed limit more than over it.

Motorcycle (and other two wheeled operators) are crazy
They don’t have to follow the traditional traffic laws and they weave in out of traffic on or off the street. When sitting at a red light, it’s standard procedure for the bikes to weave their way to the front of the line of traffic.

Navigating always takes two people
When navigating through a city, the passenger had to ensure that the driver was going the right way. When backing out of a tricky parking spot, the passenger had to direct the driver out to not hit anything. Most turns from parking lots or gas stations were located at blind intersection so whoever could see helped the drive.

The left lane is only for passing
This this one of the cool things that I will try to bring back to the States. Cars only use the leftmost lane when passing another car. If you want to pass someone, you use the left lane then immediately get back in the right lane. Absolutely no cruising in the left lane.

The small cities have crazy small streets
This causes two problems. The first is that you have to be good with stick shift. As I mentioned before, I learned to drive a standard transmission when I was a teenager and have only used that skill a handful of times since then, until now. While navigating in small towns, most of the streets are wide enough for one car, so one car has to pull off on to the sidewalk (if possible) on a steep hill to let the other car through, then try to start moving forward without rolling backwards and/or stalling on a 45 degree bank.

Another problem is you need to be able to collapse your mirrors since the streets are so narrow. Luckily our rental car has a button that will fold both windows against the car to make it easier to navigate. I’ve have had to do this several times or I would have definitely sideswiped something.

Rarely do you have to make a left or right turn
I don’t think that Europeans like making turns as there are round abouts or rotaries at nearly every intersection. They are actually very helpful for novice standard drivers as it nearly eliminates the need to start your car from a dead stop.

Round abouts are also good for making U turns. If you accidentally miss your turn, then just go all the way around and viola you are now heading in the correct direction. We did this more times than I want to admit!

The roads are not designed for taking pictures
There have been lots of beautiful views that we would have loved to have had captured, but taking pictures in a moving vehicle is nearly impossible. As soon as you get ready to take a picture, a tree, a bush or guard rail suddenly appears and is the main object of the photo.

Some countries use their traffic lights differently
In Austria and Germany, the traffic lights were different than all the other countries. When sitting at a red light the yellow light comes on simultaneously letting you know that the light will turn green in a few seconds, so can start moving. Also the green light begins flashing after the green steady, which means that yellow is coming and you need to start slowing down.

Pedestrians have the right away
Driving in the city is a pain due to everyone walking around. Most locals will cross the street and expect you to stop and not hit them.

Speed cameras everywhere
Our car was equipped with a navigation system that knew what the speed limit was on every road as well as where the speed cameras were. I never saw a cop sitting on the side of the road with a radar gun trying to catch speeding cars. All cars going too fast were ticketed by speed cam and we were glad we knew where all of them were.

GPS devices are a must
At first, we thought we could get by having maps on our iPads to help us navigate around. Those did turn out to be helpful, but the GPS immediately told us when we were off course. Plus by following the turn by turn directions, we avoided going the wrong way down a one way street.

Gasoline costs a small fortune
The prices look like that gas is actually a great deal when the sign says €1.59. That”s actually the price per liter and there are 3.1 liters in every gallon. So that makes the price 4.93 Euros per gallon or $6.90 per gallon. Luckily we are driving a disel machine which is the least expensive option and it is more efficient than the small SUV we drove in Ireland.

No matter how many times we try, you can”t start moving in third gear
We have stalled this car quite a few times or had choppy starts nearly every time we try to start in the wrong gear. Lucky for us, our car is extremely quick to restart with a push start button.

Stalling is a perfectly acceptable way to park
More than once we have pulled in to a parking spot and thought we should pull in the spot just a little bit more. If moving the car forward results in a stall, then we call it good enough 🙂