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(almost) funny, Living Abroad, Travel

I found a Vampire (and he’s totally cool!)

Beautiful Romanian Destinations | Carpathian Mountains | Romanian villages

I hardly pouted at all when our search for vampires in Romanian cities came up empty. A skeptical observer might raise an eyebrow, but I assure you: foot stomping and annoying grunts is not pouting. It’s an incredibly effective way to shed the city grime. Besides, exploring Romania’s cities wasn’t a total loss. Timisoara and Cluj are beautiful places to visit. And after way too much immersion in Bucharest’s intoxicating night life, I learned that “clubbing” has the same impact on me as it does for baby seals.

The search wasn’t over yet. Once we left the big cities, I was sure we were going to get lucky.

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(almost) funny, Living Abroad, Travel

Searching for vampires in Romanian cities

Bucharest at night Romania

I’ll admit it. I’ve been playing for the past several months. Hiking through Massachusetts and Vermont, climbing a few of the highest peaks in Colorado, plenty of city stops in between.

Now, it’s time to get back to work.

Monica is quick to remind me that the job I signed up for is “Househusband,” and while I’m absolutely THRILLED to get another crack at those dirty dishes, we both know the real reason we’re living abroad in Romania…

I’m going to find a vampire.

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Blogging

Proven Strategies for Building my Blog Community

Here are practical tested strategies I use to build a successful blog community

 

WordPress Discover featured a recent post about Life Lessons I learned while hiking the Appalachian Trail. The dizzying trill of overlapping notifications gave me a brief glimpse of what life must be like for superstars of the blogging world. A few (OK… hundreds) clicked the follow button. But what interested me most were the new comments. I’ve learned that comments are gifts, and these gifts form the foundation for building my blog community.

I scanned through comments waiting to be approved. Blogging friends congratulating me on my newfound fame triggered involuntary smiles. If you’re willing to let me call it a mild lacrimal event (or allergies), then I’m not ashamed to admit that one beautiful blogger even forced out a few tears. And new visitors expressed stunned disbelief that anyone would just give away this much awesomeness for free. It was Christmas in July!

But a surprising number of comments were simple commands: “visit my blog,” or “follow me back” and “check out my post at www.randomwords.com/plagerized-content-that-still-isnt-very-interesting”

Kinda feels like getting used socks from one hand while the other is held out waiting for me to deposit a family heirloom. I’m not an expert, but I’m pretty sure this isn’t how holidays work (unless you consider Tax Day a holiday, then it’s exactly the same).

I’m not completely ungrateful though. After all, my spam monster has a voracious appetite.

I’m also not a blogging expert. I have only been blogging in earnest for about 6 months (prior to this, blogging was a means of keeping friends and family in the loop while I hiked the Appalachian Trail). If I’ve learned anything during these 6 months, it’s this: The comment section is where the magic happens.

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Hiking

Hiking the Appalachian Trail Against All Odds

Against all Odds

For 166 days, I traded the weight of titles and labels for an increasingly smelly backpack. No longer Dr. Burkhardt, or Major Burkhardt, or a guy with crippling depression; instead, I became an Appalachian Trail hiker called “Sketch.” Most were good days. Some brought me to my knees. However, October 2, at the summit of Mount Katahdin, was a GREAT day!

 

All things being equal, more than 80% fail to complete the 2,189.2-mile journey from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. Continue Reading…

(almost) funny, Bucket-Lister Pro-tips

Living Abroad Tips: Overcoming language barriers

Bucket-Lister

I don’t know about you, but I got into the Bucket-Lister business for the perks. Trying new things, traveling the world, and immersing myself in cultures most tourists don’t have time for. The pay isn’t great, but you can’t beat these benefits.

And I was a natural. I avoided food poisoning from meals that roamed around on the table, filled a passport or three with colorful stamps, and maintained a respectable frequent-flyer status.

I even mastered the international Bucket-Lister language. Initially, communication was mostly an intricate series of hand and arm signals that would make any Air Traffic Controller proud. It wasn’t pretty, but I could get a taxi, directions to a restaurant (usually not the one I was hoping for), and a hotel room. However, fluency evaded me until I discovered the real Rosetta Stone. With this handy tool, I rarely had to resort to embarrassing peeks at Google Translate, or flail like a duckling trying to find its momma in order to get my message across.

What is the Bucket-Lister’s Rosetta Stone? Continue Reading…