A: Age you went on your first international trip: 19 years old, when I went up to Alaska during college to work for a summer. I realize Alaska isn’t international (although most Americans may think so), but it was within miles of the Canadian border, which I escaped to several times throughout the summer. I feel like I lived vicariously through the adventures of my Father and older siblings who went traveling through Russia and the likes with music groups starting around 12 years old. A Russian child pianist prodigy (and his mother) also visited us and stayed in our home briefly when touring the US for small concerts. I felt like international experiences were brought to me, even though I didn’t have the opportunity to leave!

B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where: I don’t drink alcohol.

C: Cuisine (favorite): Thai food. I haven’t been to Thailand, yet…but when I do…I am DEFINITELY taking a cooking class!  Curry could be my middle name!

D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why: Alaska and Mexico have been our favorite destinations, so far. Southeast Alaska is stunningly gorgeous and simple. And Mexico?  It’s gigantic…but I’d have to say our favorite states we’ve seen so far have been Michoacan and Chiapis. We have so much more exploring to be done in each of those. We are not a fan of big tourist locales and cities, so we’ll leave Puerto Vallerta and Cancun to the tourists.

E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”: Visiting the butterfly sanctuary in Michoacan, Mexico (where the Monarch butterflies reside in the winters) was awe-inspiring. Imagine millions of butterflies filling the trees, giving the appearance of leaves themselves. I felt that I was able to view something magical and extraordinary– something that only select people have had the opportunity to observe in this generation, and generations past.

F: Favorite mode of transportation: Our van. We like to set our own schedule and map out our own plan of attack!

G: Greatest feeling while traveling: Sharing great vistas with my husband and beautiful children.  I relish the feeling where my heart burns with love for other people and other cultures.

H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to: Mazatlan, Mexico. We’ve probably visited hotter, but it was our first shock to the system when driving south after spending 7 summers in Alaska and winters in snowy places. It will forever go down in history as insufferably hot and humid!

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where: Service throughout Mexico is awesome and affordable. Our $5 full-car vacuum/washes come to mind, as do all the great experiences we’ve had getting affordable auto repair done. I also can’t forget to mention the small business that went to work on our two dead laptops in Merida, reviving a combo of the two, so at least one survived!

J: Journey that took the longest: Our 4 week road trek through the Yukatan was a long time to be sleeping on hard Mexican hotel beds. It was awesome, and yet satisfying to have a home base to return to. I also loved the fact that when we told the kids we were done with our trip, they were not ready to be done!

K: Keepsake from your travels: We try not to make purchases, even though at times we are tempted. Who needs more stuff?  I try to keep a visual memory of things that I would preserve on my (imaginary) wall:  Mayan calendar carvings done in stone from Palenque, wood carvings from Chichen Itza, etc.

L: Let-down sight, why and where: Cancun. There’s nothing there but miles of private beaches/resorts, and malls. You can stay in the states for that! We also felt that Chichen Itza and Tulum were “ruined” by the huge amount of tourists, and the vendors and guides who attacked them accordingly.

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel: I remember the first summer I went to Alaska, I stretched my long phone cord out the door while I was chatting with my sister, living 2,000 miles away. I could see a waterfall in the distance among the dense green temperate rain forest, and I remembering thinking that Alaska was certainly not going to be a one-time experience.

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in: The Regent, in Victoria. We also had the most absolutely frightening experience EVER there (which included someone breaking down our door in the middle of the night), and we therefore “earned” a free stay, plus 2 free nights in their two bedroom, top-floor suite overlooking the bay. I’ll have to tell that story on this blog some day…heehee…

O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?: I think I am most obsessed with the photos that I never get. Like the imaginary photos I imagine myself taking of a native-dressed women standing at a doorstep. They’re all the photos I think to myself, “Dang. If only I could take a photo of that!”

P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?  I finally got our passport stamped in Mexico in 2011. Otherwise, we’ve only gone to Western Canada (many times)…but they’ve never bothered to stamp our passports there (even after 16+ treks).

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where: Nothing comes to mind for me, however, my husband says his visit to the Winchester Mystery House in California was definitely an odd experience. 160 rooms with staircases and doorways leading to nowhere…

R: Recommended sight, event or experience: Go to Angaguan in Michoacan, just to feel the authenticity of a native Mexican village (where even Spanish is a rare language).

S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling: Visiting attractions. Why drive to the Yukatan if you don’t pay the money to go in and visit the pyramids? Or why not take that kind of pricey boat ride so you can have that lifelong memory/experience? Yeah…we don’t mind spending money our tours and attractions!

T: Touristy thing you’ve done: We experienced our first all-inclusive resort on our recent trip to the Yukatan. We spent 3 nights in Playa del Carmen at the wonderful Occidental Grand Xcaret.  It was not just all beaches and sun, like other resorts. It was lush, jungle-like, and had an great kids club to keep the kids entertained while we actually rested (what?! A vacation with rest?!). Not to mention, they did all the cooking!

U: Unforgettable travel memory: Walking the ruins of Palenque in Chiapis, Mexico. Stunningly gorgeous!

V: Visas, how many and for where? Tourist VISA’s for Mexico (6 month increments). We are currently working on getting our FM3, a 5-year VISA that must be renewed yearly. It’s a pain in the rear…

W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where? I don’t drink alcohol.

X: eXcellent view and from where?: Flying above the glacier-covered mountains in Southeast Alaska is indescribable.

 Y: Years spent traveling?: We’ve been living abroad in Mexico for over a year now, and exploring this beautiful country.  Before that, we lived in Alaska for about 10 summers. (No, never a winter. We’re not that crazy!)

Z: Zealous sports fans and where?:  My husband, wherever we go. Of course, he doesn’t usually get to watch the games (typically basketball or football), but he wishes he could!

This post is part of a travel bloggers project. I thank Rachel from DiscoverShareInspire for nominating me.

Now I tag anyone who wants to reflect on their travels!

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