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Posted by on Dec 30, 2013

Ramblings by Dave – Things I’ve Missed After a Year Away


Jill already detailed the culture shock she experienced gazing at the multitude of cereals in the first grocery store she visited after we came back to the U.S. Here are a few more things we’ve missed.

Wheat Thins. Don’t think I saw Wheat Thins overseas, but damn are they good.

Toilet paper that you can’t see through. Some of the shirts I’ve been wearing for the past year are thinner than the 10-ply TP that’s at my parent’s house.

Wi-Fi that works!!!!

Smart Balance “buttery spread.” Now with olive oil apparently.

My mother’s cooking!!! Since we missed Thanksgiving and Hanukkah she bought a turkey and we were able to celebrate both holidays in style upon our return. She also has made me pancakes and cookies, and her homemade challah is still the best.

Competing mothers!!! They probably didn’t realize they were competing, but my mother-in-law also went all out for the holidays — cookies, lasagna, pigs in a blanket, ribs, meatballs, breakfast casserole, etc. The belt I bought back in Cambodia after losing a bunch of weight there is no longer necessary.

Having an actual home! We’re staying at my parents’ condo in downtown Chicago while they’re in Florida and I can’t tell you what a relief it is to have a place of our own. Sleeping in the same bed every night, being able to unpack our clothes and just having some place to relax is a real treat.

Our stuff back in the trunk of my parent's car in Florida. How quickly a year passes.

Our stuff back in the trunk of my parents’  car in Florida. How quickly a year passes.

Beer, beer and more beer!!! Chicago was somewhat late to the craft beer party, but has made up for it in a big way. The variety of craft beers in the store is incredible and being situated in between the East and West coasts, Chicago seems to get the best of both. While we were able to find brewpubs and surprisingly good craft beer stores in many of the larger countries we visited, the prices were often out of the range we were willing to pay, especially when wine was typically so cheap. Granted, paying around $10 (and sometimes more) for a six-pack isn’t cheap, but it’s a bargain compared to what we saw elsewhere. I also try justify the costs based on what bars typically charge for a good beer, $5 or $6 a pint at most places. So two beers in a bar equals a six-pack at home. I’ll take it.

Jill said she thought I would be excited to go into a U.S. wine shop for the first time in a long time, which I thought was a little silly. But it was exciting!!! In addition to U.S. wines that I hadn’t seen in a while, I also was able to peruse the wines from New Zealand, Australia, France, Portugal and Italy from our visits.

Found a bottle of Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc at our local wine shop!

Found a bottle of one of our favorite New Zealand wines, Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc, at our local wine shop!

Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods: Grocery stores I am very familiar with. But when I walked in to Trader Joes it seemed as though they were selling all of the same crap stuff they were selling a year ago, though Jill claims she saw some new and interesting items. Whole Foods seemed stocked with more foods I hadn’t seen before.

I have mixed feelings about the price of gas in the U.S. At less than $3.50 a gallon, gas is far cheaper here than most foreign countries outside of the Middle East. But because gas is so expensive, people in those countries drive smaller, more fuel-efficient cars and many have decent public transportation. I wouldn’t be opposed to higher gas taxes if it meant we could develop more alternative energy options.

BBQ. There’s very little good BBQ around the world. We stumbled on a great BBQ and craft beer restaurant in London of all places, but I missed BBQ more than any other food during our trip.

Meanwhile, here are some recent developments in places we visited during our trip: In Thailand, protestors have been calling for the ouster of the country’s prime minister for a couple of months. The protests have led to a number of deaths and many injuries; In Cambodia, citizens continue to call for their Prime Minister to step down and hold fresh elections. Those protests have been going off-and-on since results of the election held in July were disputed; In Turkey, a corruption crisis led to the resignation of three cabinet members; Japan and China continue to squabble over some islands in the East China Sea; in Australia, the courts ruled that same-sex marriages were not legal.

The rest of the world sure is a crazy place. We already miss it.


  1. Dave and Jill were the two things I missed most this past year. So glad to have you home! Enjoyed our Wonderful holidays and look forward to making many memories in the next month.

  2. So happy to have you back in the states. Looking forward to seeing you in Cali some time this year. I am curious to see what state you end up in. Just make sure you visit us once in a while. Welcome Home you two and Happy New Year. 🙂

  3. …and the rest of the world misses you.

    Especially a little corner of Australia populated by a family of 4 🙂

    ps I miss Whole Foods and Trader Joes too!