The End is Here

It is not the end of the world. It is just the end of the 5,125 year cycle of the Mayan Long Count Calendar. However, not everyone is convinced that the world is still not going to end. Efforts to synchronize the Mayan calendar with our calendar could be off by a couple of days. Therefore, some people think we might not be in the clear until Sunday.

Whether you believe we are headed for Dooms Day or not, I thought today would be an appropriate time to post about my trips to two different Mayan ruin sites.

In December 2011, Rob and I were enjoying an Exotic Western Caribbean cruise. While in port in Cozumel we booked an excursion to visit Coba (which required a sickening ferry ride to the mainland). Coba dates back to about 600 AD. It was believed to have supported about 50,000 inhabitants, but was abandoned for unknown reasons. Coba was never discovered by the Spanish and remained hidden in the jungle until it was rediscovered in the 1890s. Most of the structures are considered to be in pristine condition.


The largest structure in Coba is Nohoch Mul, which means “big mound.” This Mayan pyramid is 138 feet high and may be climbed by visitors. The climb up wasn’t too difficult, but it was strenuous enough. The view of the Yucatan jungle from above made it all worth it.



In February 2012, Heather and I were enjoying a relaxing beach vacation in Mexico. We decided to take a quick day tour to visit the Mayan ruins of Tulum. Tulum is nowhere near as old as Coba, as it wasn’t built until the late 13th century. Tulum was a seaport and it was the only Mayan city built on a coast. It is home to its own beautiful beach where visitors are welcome to take a refreshing dip in the sea.


Tulum was one of the few Mayan cities protected by a wall. There are different theories about why Tulum was fortified, but there is little doubt about their desire to protect the seaport. Unlike Coba, Tulum had only 600 inhabitants inside its walls. So some people believe the walls were there to keep invaders from overtaking such a small population. Others believed that only priests and nobility lived within Tulum, therefore the walls could have been there to keep out the peasants.


Enjoy these pictures until Sunday when we will find out if the world truly will come to an end!

Thankful with Coffee

A couple of months ago, I was inspired to adopt two soldiers through two different programs. You can read the original post here. Although I served my country for almost 9 years, fellow blogger Gina reminded me that there was still more that I could do. Renewed with gratitude and remembering the hardships of deployment, I took action. The soldier adoption programs are a huge commitment that many people are not ready for. However, there are simpler ways to make a difference without the long-term commitment of adopting a soldier.

Cup of Joe for a Joe

Green Beans Coffee has a Cup of Joe program that allows you to buy a cup of coffee for a deployed soldier. Green Beans Coffee has several locations on deployment bases and it is an easy way for you to give the troops a “taste of home.” Each cup of coffee will cost you only $2 and you can buy as many (or as few) cups as you would like. You can include a personal note that will be given to each soldier when they receive their cups of coffee. You also have the option to include your email address if you would like to hear from the soldier that receives your cup of joe; or you could choose not to receive a response. Just this morning I purchased 3 cups and included this note:

Dear Soldier,

I realize a cup of coffee isn’t much to make up for the fact that you are away from your home and family during the holidays, but I hope it will at least let you know that you are not forgotten. Thank you for your service and your sacrifice.

Happy Holidays!

As we go about our daily routines, most of us are thankful for coffee. Instead, I propose we should be thankful with coffee.


Just The Office Christmas Tree

I think it is safe to say that my office has the most amazing Christmas Tree in all the land!


Every year, the employees gather for the annual Tree Trimming Party. There are tasty refreshments and everyone helps to decorate the tree.


Since a ladder just wouldn’t cut it, employees can climb aboard the cherry picker to hang ornaments at the tippity top! My friend Chris was up for the challenge. Next year I need to remember to wear pants on the day of the Tree Trimming Party. I was not about to go up there wearing a dress. It’s not that kind of party people! ; )


And because this is the season for giving, generous employees place gifts under the tree that will be donated to Toys for Tots.


Christmas in Washington

This past Sunday, we had tickets for the dress rehearsal of the 31st annual “Christmas in Washington” at the National Building Museum. This annual Christmas concert benefits the Children’s National Medical Center and is attended each year by the President, as well as many other Washington VIPs. We aren’t important enough to attend the actual concert alongside the President, but the dress rehearsal is usually just like seeing the real deal (more on this later). The National Building Museum is absolutely beautiful and seems to be the perfect location for this show. Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures, but here is a picture from a previous year so you can get the idea.

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Conan O’Brien hosted the show for the second year in a row. This year, the performers included Megan Hilty (Smash), Demi Lovato (The X Factor), Chirs Mann (The Voice), Scotty McCreery (American Idol), PSY (“Gangnam Style” internet sensation), and Diana Ross (you know who she is).

I was most excited to see Diana Ross perform. Although her music is before my time, she is a legend, and I thought it would be an amazing experience to see her live. However, she did not grace us with her presence during the dress rehearsal. Instead, a cheerful, elderly man filled in as her stand-in and quietly mouthed the lyrics to the songs Diana would sing later that night. You could see that he was feeling uncomfortable knowing the crowd was disappointed to see him instead of Diana Ross. But he made the most of it and even gave us a few laughs. As endearing as this old man was, I was still thoroughly annoyed that Diana Ross didn’t come on stage. Talk about a DIVA! Ok, so what if you’re a legend. Does that mean you are too good to rehearse? Are you too important to perform for the minions that could only get tickets for the dress rehearsal?

After the rehearsal was over, we heard that Diana Ross didn’t participate in the rehearsal due to a broken ankle because it was too difficult to get on and off the stage. According to this article, the claim is true. However, I have decided to reserve my judgment until I watch the show when it airs. You better have a gimp Diana!

With Diana MIA, the highlight of the show for me was PSY. He came out on the stage and started singing “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” It was not going well and I didn’t think he was going to be able to pull off this classic Christmas carol. But a few notes in, he stopped singing and revealed that was not the reason he was there. Then he broke out into his Christmas remix of “Gangnam Style” and it was AWESOME! “Hey Santa Baby…Oppan Christmas Style!”

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Photo from

“Christmas in Washington” will air on Friday, December 21st on TNT. In the meantime, check out this sneak peak video:

If the video doesn’t load, you can also view it here.

Jingle All The Way

I am pretty sure that I may have mentioned that I do NOT enjoy running. Yet, once again, here I am writing about a race I just completed. Why do I keep participating in these events, you ask? Well, I guess watching people run dressed up like Santa, elves, and reindeer makes running just a tad less miserable.

Yesterday, I participated in the 8th annual Jingle All The Way 8K with a couple of friends in Washington, DC. The race began and ended at Freedom Plaza and benefited the Habitat for Humanity of Washington, DC. The course was almost entirely flat (for which I am grateful) and wound past a variety of DC landmarks. But this race isn’t about the landmarks…it’s about the costumes! While costumes are not a requirement, most people do dress up with some kind of holiday flare. I wish I had pictures of my favorite costumes to share with you, but unfortunately I don’t. However, some of my favorites were (please use your imagination to conjure up your own image):

1. The 12 Days of Christmas (most creative!)
2. Santa in his sleigh tethered to 8 reindeer (bonus points for running the whole race tied together like that!)
3. Toy Soldiers (complete with wind-up keys on their backs)
4. Full Nativity Scene (complete with Baby Jesus in a not-so-Biblical stroller)
5. The guy with the tuba (not a holiday theme, but props for running 5 miles carrying a tuba!)

Below is a picture of our crew, which has been affectionately dubbed Team Slutty Reindeer. Don’t ask…

Andrea (Christmas tree), Mark (Christmas present), Heather (reindeer), & me (less committed reindeer)

Oh, in case you were wondering…that IS Justin Bieber wrapping paper! Mark’s costume definitely drew the most attention (rightfully so) and he even scored a radio interview before the race. Andrea is still trying to forgive him for missing what could possibly have been his one and only chance to use the phrase Bieber Fever on the radio!

Editor’s note – one of the reindeer pictured above is a cheater! #reindeershaming

National Geographic Traveler

If you are a fellow travel junkie, you should definitely check out this deal!  TravelZoo is offering a one year subscription to National Geographic Traveler magazine for only $8!  (A $40 value if purchased at a newsstand.)  These publications are filled with travel ideas, tips and expert advice on the world’s most exciting destinations, sure to please the inner wanderer in anyone.

This deal would also make an excellent gift for your travel junkie loved ones!  Click here to take advantage of this deal.

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Photo from

Updated Wish List

It always feels good to cross items off a checklist. But, as soon as you cross out one item, another item typically makes its way onto the list. When it comes to a never-ending list of chores, this can be quite bothersome. But…when it comes to updating my travel wish list…it’s no bother at all!

Since we just returned from Iceland, I was happy to amend my Top 10 Travel Wish List (in no particular order).

1. New Zealand
2. Greece
3. Sicily
4. Thailand
5. African Safari
6. Russia
7. China
8. Australia
9. Iceland Turkey
10. India