A Trip of Solo Travel

If you have been reading our blogs you might know that we are heading to London this summer. We will be participating in the Global Business Program for a week long intensive where we get to explore international businesses, be immersed in a new culture, and of course partake in local cuisine. London in and of itself will not be a first but a solo international flight and exploring overseas will be. To “save” a bit of money I decided to take an earlier flight to London. Save is in quotes because what I am saving on a plane ticket I will be utilizing to fund my stay and adventures before class starts.

I am so stoked about it though. Always having wanted to do some solo traveling I have never created the opportunity before now. Luckily, my job at the University of Nevada has allowed me the freedom to take the time off for this adventure. When thinking about my upcoming trip I cannot wait to roam the streets in a new country going wherever my feet lead me. I belatedly decided to look at a Warner Bros. Studio – Harry Potter Tour but they are all booked up for when I am going to be there and I am bummed about it, BUMMED! ::cry emoji::

It has been about 5 years since the last time I was in London, the trip was only a couple days and it all went by so fast I hardly remember all that I did. My guess is once I am back and surrounded by the city much will come back as far as orienting myself. I often get asked when I travel “aren’t you scared” and honestly I am not. I am always excited to go somewhere new and explore.

To me the world is not as scary a place as most people who ask me that question and the media make it out to be. Most of the tragedies people are worried about happen here at home too but I go out by myself all the time here. I refuse to allow these ‘what if’ scenarios to keep me from going out and exploring the world. There is something to be said for attempting some research ahead of time to know what you are getting yourself into and being informed and by doing so I would hope that would empower others to take that leap and experience unknown places first hand.

Also, having lived alone in a big city where I knew no one and had never visited before living there; I feel pretty confident about being able to get lost and found in this semi-new place or any place really. The thing is it’s a new place on the other side of an ocean, but I am not in a country where I don’t speak the language so that is a huge plus as far as subsiding any potential fears. If I didn’t speak the language I do think that might change things a bit but by doing research ahead of time I would not be too worried then either and neither should you. Be vigilant but don’t be scared. Embrace the adventure. Don’t let others’ fears or your own hold you back. Everything you have ever done was once something brand new; everywhere you have ever been was once a place you had never been before. 

When traveling I don’t think you should hold yourself back from going by waiting on others to be ready whether it be friends, searching & waiting for that special someone, family, or whomever. If you can make the time and come up with the money don’t wait. Go now! We all start somewhere and only get where we want to go by taking steps to get there. The only one stopping you is you.

It won’t be a super long trip alone because Richard will be meeting me so we can head out to Stonehenge but this solo experience will check off this bucket list item and who knows what this experience will bring! I have yet to decide exactly what I am going to be up to prior to Stonehenge so if you have any suggestions I would love to hear them. Where would you like to go? What is holding you back? Let’s help each other travel the world! Til next time Pengminions!

Journey to Virginia City

Living in Reno there are many interesting places to visit within a small radius. My favorite is probably Virginia City. Of course, Lake Tahoe is iconic and everyone must check it out but anytime we have family or friends visit us we always make a point to venture off in the opposite direction. We head to the old mining town of Virginia City.

Virginia City has a lot to offer for such a small town. Its old buildings are such a treat for the eyes to behold. Not only do the sights of the old building take you back but with the wooden sidewalks underfoot you become immersed in the old world. There are many unique shops throughout the main street of town. My favorite is a hatmaker, that creates custom hats in creative ways.

During the warmer months there are many events that take place that draw in a crowd each time. This weekend they are hosting an annual off road motorcycle race that brings in about 1,000 riders in an extremely competitive event. In September we attended our first International Camel and Ostrich race. I have never had so much goofy fun baking in the hot desert sun than while watching this event take place.

The views are breathtaking as well! There is something for everyone between what I mentioned above and the museums and tours offered as well.
If you get the chance I highly recommend this swell lil old town for a day or weekend trip. Everyone we take has had a blast. What are some of your favorite places to visit around where you are from? Do you have any hidden gems we should know about if we end up in your neck of the woods? Let us know in the comments below. Til next time Pengminions!

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Don’t Go Home to Visit Friends & Family, Meet Them Somewhere!

by Richard Furleigh

Going home to visit is a wonderful thing, getting to reconnect face to face with family and friends is a special time to say the least. The only real downside with this is you’re going back to a place that typically is unchanged and unless there is just some wonderfully amazing thing that you have to have in your life, there isn’t much more other than visiting those people that makes it worthwhile.

Instead why not have a destination visit home?

One of the ideas Kristen and I have been kicking around for a little bit is getting together with my parents (who still live in Texas) and rather than going to go visit them, having all of us meet up somewhere new! This idea struck us as we were talking one night and Kristen was lamenting the thought of going back to visit. “It’s not that I don’t want to see your folks, but your hometown is so lame.” In fairness, she is 100% correct on that one. “Why don’t we just go somewhere else and we can all meet up and hang out there?” And thus a grand idea was born.

Rather than have one set of people go to the other, have everyone meet up at a destination outside of their homes! Travel isn’t super cheap, so this lets us kill two birds with one stone in the sense of traveling to a place we want to visit, and getting to spend time with the people we love. On top of that, getting to experience new and exciting things with them will make the trip that much more memorable! I could go back to La Porte, or we have fun in Hawaii and talk about our lives there. Call me crazy but one sounds a lot more fun than the other.

Of course you want to take the time to get input from as many parties as possible before deciding where exactly you want to go. For example we have decided to go on an Alaskan cruise in the summer of 2018 with my family. Both my Mom and sister were excited about the possibility of seeing whales, Kristen gets to check another state off her list, my Dad loves boats and wants to visit Alaska really bad, and I’m looking forward to the off boat excursions that we can do in the wild north. So there is something for everyone to be excited about.

Are there any friend or family visits coming up for you? Try to change it into a group vacation instead! Rally the troops and find a place everyone can find something fun to do. It promises to be a much different time than a typical visit back to the homestead. Until next time Pengminions!

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The Furleighs in San Francisco

When work inadvertently schedules you three days off in a row what do you do? Pack up the car, get a pet sitter, and take a quick trip of course! Following up on some of our travels I present to you our time in San Francisco.

Day one was venturing to the infamous Alcatraz Island. The island itself was surprisingly beautiful if you took away the giant steel and concrete looming over you. Getting inside to see the prison however was intimidating and even a little inspiring. If you’ve never visited it isn’t until once you’re inside that the true magnitude of the whole place hits you. It’s almost unsettling to think of the history such a facility has, and surprising some of the tales of reform that came from inside. One of the more dramatic stories from Alcatraz has nothing to do with it’s time as a prison, but after it was abandoned. First nation peoples took up residence for a period from November 1969 to June 1971 declaring the island belonging to all native people. We left the island and proceeded to walk, everywhere, for the rest of the day. Coit tower, Chinatown, and the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre.

Walking through Chinatown was almost surreal, hearing almost no English being spoken around us and seeing almost all signs written in another language was a very different experience. While there we stopped by Boba Guys, which without a doubt had the best boba tea Kristen or I have ever had. We wrapped up at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, which is simply spectacular. The entire space made me want to perform a Shakespeare production right then and there. By the time we were done however I was tapped out, and we had to take a Lyft back to our car since I felt like I was about to get some massive blisters otherwise.

Day two started out with us at nearby Muir Woods national Monument, one of the last places on Earth with naturally growing redwood trees. The colloquial use of “walking among sleeping giants” was exceptionally apt here with trunks the size of cars that would then shoot into the sky making you hurt yourself in an attempt to actually see the tops. The adventurous penguins we are we ventured off onto one of the side paths to get away from the crowds and get into the woods a little more. It was well worth it as the beauty of the area revealed itself more and more in the quiet. Once we left there we hung out a little in San Francisco before heading to The Exploratorium and met up with one of Kristen’s friends from back in Victoria, Sarah.

I had never heard of The Exploratorium until we researched places to see in San Francisco, but I am so glad we were able to get there since it’s pretty much a giant science/art/physics/natural world playground for adults. Needless to say we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We parted ways with Sarah and headed off to meet another friend who lived in the area. We met with Sydney after she got done with her rehearsal for her show she was working on. The local bar we met at had a great vibe to it and had a stellar home made sour mix, which led to a phenomenal amaretto sour for Kristen. Our evening ended at a karaoke bar that was hosted by a karaoke DJ who also happened to play the harmonica, sing all the background vocals, and play the saxophone.

On our last day we finally got San Francisco’s famous crummy weather which was a bummer, but we came prepared! So we tossed on our rain gear and got out to Golden Gate Park for some exploring. We meandered about for a bit before going into the Japanese Tea Garden for some afternoon refreshments. The site was beautifully kept; flowers, koi ponds, manicured trees, and more awaited us as we walked the paths. After enjoying a pot of tea we headed across the street to the Botanical Gardens which had me entertained and Kristen mesmerized. The scale of the plants that thrived in such conditions was quite astonishing, and venturing to other parts of the world’s flora in such a small space was fantastic. We wrapped up our time in the bay by meeting up with Kristen’s mother and another friend, Dylan, for dinner and a stroll along the Ghirardelli Square toward the piers. After buying two pounds of sourdough from Boudin’s (all for me!) we said our goodbyes and it was back to Reno.

All in all our first extended trip to San Francisco was exceptionally amazing, full of adventures, and made even more enjoyable by our friends we met while there (thanks guys and gals!). Do you have any trips coming up shortly? Any places you think we should check out the next time we get down to the bay area? Let us know down below!

Until next time Pengminions!

 

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Why You Should Include Travel in Your Education

Richard and I are stoked for this summer! We have plans to travel with the Global Business Program (GBP) again this summer but to London this time.
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We had so much fun in New York we just had to do another one. I am sure you have gathered by now our love to travel so why not take advantage of another course that will count toward our MBA and visit another country together (or two this time). We were sold during our MBA program orientation and have a goal of attending at least one every year that we are in the program.

I will be honest, it definitely isn’t the cheapest option when it comes to getting out and traveling the world but it allows us to double dip some of our time which is important to us so that we graduate on schedule. We also get to network in a completely different way than traditional schooling. Not to mention the classroom dynamic is a completely unique experience with the GBP than sitting in a classroom lecture. We are able to glean lessons via experience and conversation as opposed to reading a textbook, hearing a lecture, and potentially having some peer discussion. The discussion and immersion aspect I find to be more engaging because the setting is different. Ideas seem to flow freer because the “classroom” is more relaxed. The size of the class also helps in this regard.

I do understand that not all travel programs are like this. Some are hosted at a University where you do have a traditional classroom for learning but often these classrooms are filled with students from all over the world. This provides a far more diverse atmosphere than at most home Universities, so the perspectives you receive from your peers has the potential to be more varied.  Sometimes their perspectives will be surprisingly similar to your own; both scenarios will give you a broader and deeper appreciation of others.

The most spectacular thing to remember is you aren’t in class 24/7 whether in the GBP or otherwise and off school times you get to explore a whole other world! When in New York we had seen one of those fancy food videos floating around Facebook and made our way down to Black Tap for this glorious shake!
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If you are in school or know someone who is I highly encourage you to find/encourage them to find a program that works with their degree and get to traveling! The world opens up to you when you open up to it. Do you have any plans or experiences traveling in school? Leave us a comment we would love to hear about your experience! Til next time Pengminions!

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Our Anniversary Wine

by Richard Furleigh

New Zealand. It’s kinda an awesome place that we may or may not have gone to on our honeymoon three years ago. Pssst, we totally did. One thing the country is know for is it’s wine.DSC_0774

Pictured is us at Greystone, one of the many excellent vineyards on the southern island. Our time at Greystone was so exceptional that we ended up buying a bottle of their Basket Star Riesling (2011) to take with us back to the US. As the bottle sat around we ended up deciding to save it and open our special honeymoon choice on our one year anniversary. It was even better than I remembered.

After that I began to wonder, as I saw other wines at different stores I began to think back to our time abroad and got an idea. It took a year and a half of searching (mostly because our taste in wine is so different) but we finally found one that we thought was good enough for our plan. The plan: find a wine that both of us enjoy that was made in New Zealand in 2014, then buy a case and open one every five years on our anniversary.

There was just something special about finding a wine that was crafted the same year we trod the ground where they grew 7,000 miles from where we now live. These bottles get to grow in depth and complexity along side us, and for the next 50 years we will have a special reminder of one of the greatest adventures the Penguin couple ever embarked on. Happy third anniversary Kristen, PenGLAP, I love you to Sirius and back!

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Urban Exploring: Beauty in the Decay

by Richard Furleigh

Beauty can be found anywhere if you’re willing to look. For Kristen and I, beauty and fascination has been found in a couple of our more wild adventures: urban exploring. For the uninitiated, urban exploring (also urbex) is venturing inside of and exploring abandoned buildings and places. The goal is not destruction or modification, but simply to venture around see what has happened since people ceased their regular habitation. They also make for some hauntingly gorgeous places for photography.  

Our first adventure started during our undergrad when I decided to take Kristen to New Orleans, and it had nothing to do with Bourbon St. I kept our true reason under wraps until we arrived, and surprised her by parking nearby and walking her toward the former Six Flags Jazzland. The theme park had been closed since August 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck and the combination of desolation, graffiti, and decay were more than enough to keep us occupied most of the afternoon.

As we showed pictures from this outing to our family, my sister’s then boyfriend now husband found his creativity bubbling away. As a gift to us he offered to photograph our engagement pictures: in the abandoned Falstaff brewery on Galveston Island. Abandoned in 1981 the brewery occupies a huge plot of land on the island and goes up about 6 stories as well for it’s main offices. The graffiti here was spectacularly done in some places and Andrew’s eye for photography helped us get some amazing pictures that day.


Check out the full shoot by clicking here!

The Furleighs do caution you if you decide to explore on your own: urban exploring is generally considered trespassing, and any abandoned facility may be less than completely safe structurally. So please be careful. That being said, there are plenty of websites out there that can help you find places nearby and this can be a unique and inspiring way to explore your city.

Have you been able to find something inspiring in an unusual place? Are there any off the path places you’ve been to or explored? Let us know down below! Until next time Pengminions!

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He said, “We don’t want to have kids…”

By Richard Furleigh

If there are a small handful of choices we have made in our lives that truly define us as questioning everything it is our decision to not have children. While the number of children per family has declined over the last few decades the general attitude is that couples will end up having kids together. Separately both of us had even wanted them ourselves when we were younger but the times they are a changin!

Growing up I had assumed that I would have two kids, and my wife and I would split work/home duties and raise our little loving family. As I got into college and toward graduation I wanted to make sure that if I did have kids that it was under circumstances that would be conducive to a good upbringing; then Kristen and I got to talking…

It’s not that either of us changed the others mind, rather our thoughts had been shifting on their own for some time before we sat down and discussed what our potential family would look like. As we talked we realized that our life plans seemed so chaotic already, full of ambitions that take an exceptional amount of time and dedication, that we LOVE to travel and see the world. These things, while not impossible with children, definitely become much more difficult and not to mention costly (because unless that 4 & 6 year old have jobs they aren’t contributing to that trip to Disney that suddenly doubled in price). We also recognize the monumental effort it takes to actually be a good parent (shout out to Mike and Tracie Furin for being that!), to raise children in the best way possible becomes your #1 priority, everything else falls to the wayside when that bundle of joy arrives. This means your life, goals, and ambitions now play second fiddle.

Beyond these is also a harsh reality that people have ignored for a long time because the subject of unhappiness and children is too taboo: having kids is incredibly stressful. According to a recent study, the drop in happiness experienced by parents after the birth of first child was larger than the experience of unemployment, divorce or the death of a partner. So Kristen may actually be better off if I keel over dead than if she has a child with me.

At the end of it all what it boils down to is that I love my life with Kristen, we have a pretty awesome thing going. There are significant ambitions that having children would massively complicate in terms of artistry, career, and travel. Not to mention the costs in terms of monetary, mental, and physical health are enormous and understated. In many ways I feel that I just don’t want to give up the life I have with her, the things we are able to do with relative ease right now that would become giant undertakings with even one child. If it happens, then hey, I will welcome the little Furleigh. I hope I would make a good Dad, and I know Kristen would be a great mother. For now though, this is the last thing we are trying to make happen in our lives, and we are just fine with that.

What’s your take on kids? To have them, not to have them, maybe you already have a couple and could shed a little more insight on the topic? We’d love to have a conversation with you about it! Just let us know in the comments. Until next time Pengminions!

Also read Kristen’s take here!

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Doing things Different Inspired by Grit

In our MBA class we just finished reading a book called GRIT by Angela Duckworth. When thinking about grit it really struck me that it is in many ways doing things differently. Not allowing your set backs to define your future and that you can persevere over your situation. Where many would give up you don’t; that difference has a huge impact. I’d like to share with you a few quips from my life’s story where I believe I persevered and hopefully inspire you in the process.

Growing up my family was pretty poor and my parents weren’t good with money. When I was young I remember going to the grocery store and my mom only being able to purchase food that was on the WIC list. One of the cool things about it though is I never remember her placing any shame around it. It was just a fact. We didn’t stay on them forever; but they were a necessity for a young family with 5 kids in order to work themselves to a place where they no longer needed them. It was accepted that it was where they were but not where they had to stay: a tool not a crutch.
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I had another big lesson in high school when I learned that the government can take money from your bank account if you owe them. I decided that would never be (my parent’s account was where my working money had been kept.)

This happening canceled the senior trip I had planed on taking and had been saving for and though it hurt I decide not to allow that to crush me for long. It galvanized me to never make their same mistakes. I also resolved that just because this trip didn’t work out didn’t mean I would never travel.

My parents didn’t include me in the conversations about what had happened until they absolutely had to because they couldn’t come up with the money in time for me not to notice. I then decided that honesty will always be my policy. The truth can hurt but being lied to hurts worse. Those involved should always have a say.

After all this, when turning 18, I took charge and the first thing I did when I woke up that day was get the couple hundred dollars I had saved and opened my own bank account so I got to decide what happened to my money.
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Going to college was ingrained in me from very early on, but my parent’s didn’t have the means to financially support me to go there so I had to find a way to make it work. So, I worked, went to community college, attend rehearsals, made time for friends, and eventually made my way to University. Not going wasn’t an option. Although it was slow, (I didn’t always take a full course load) and was without a doubt nontraditional, I finally finished 6 years later.

During my senior year of college I decide that the study abroad program was something I couldn’t miss out on. I didn’t let my small bank account, lack of a job because of the demands of the thearte, or the failure of my last senior trip dictate the pursuit of this one. I recruited friends, found support in my home town, and put together a plate sale to help fund the trip. And I went!

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Without these happenings I would have missed out on a lot of learning:

If you allow them, harsh lessons can lead you to develop further and  hopefully inspire you to think of things different to accomplish your goals. In many ways I changed my narrative and so can you. Share with us some of your stories of perseverance or what is going on in your life and what you plan to start doing differently! Til next time Pengminions!

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Buying our Subi: Tumbleweed

By: Richard Furleigh

“Buying a car is fun!!” – no one ever

When searching for our latest vehicle here in Reno we began with not a list of vehicles, but with a list of things we wanted out of our vehicle and the whole time we were focused on making the car buying experience work for us for a change. Our criteria were primarily driven by our adventures we wanted to have in camping, skiing, road trips, etc so it was important to get pretty close to these things.

This led us to look primarily at the compact SUVs since most of the vehicles in that category meet what we were looking for. While researching specific models we made a rather robust Excel spreadsheet detailing everything from ground clearance to MPG to avg price to horsepower & torque. It was intense to say the least. Now since we weren’t looking to buy new (because unless you have more money than you can spend the general consensus is: NEVER BUY NEW!) we then had to begin looking through the local dealerships for the few we had narrowed down to.

Getting behind the wheel and reevaluating led us to narrowing our choice to one standout, the Subaru Forester XT. This was where our brains started working harder to see what we could do differently to find exactly what we wanted. For weeks we couldn’t find a car that fit, so our search range began to expand more and more. We found one in town that was close-ish to our range. Oddly enough was the same day we stumbled onto an out of state dealership that had a couple vehicles perfectly in our range for less than the dealer here had listed.

When we went down to the dealership here in town the vehicle wasn’t quite a perfect fit, but was close. After an hour of negotiating some manager came out. He chuckled some at the 21k price we wanted saying that he “could get more for the vehicle at auction” and “you’d never get that kind of vehicle anywhere in the Sierras at that price.” So we showed him the quote from the dealer we had been looking at in New York that had a 2014 for $21k. He laughed at us. “You’re going to fly to New York and buy your car there? Then what? Drive it back?”

So we bought the car there and Kristen drove it back across the country! We were headed to New York for the Nevada Global Business program anyway, and Kristen met up with her Mom who was on a separate trip for the drive back here.

Factoring gas, hotels, and Kristen’s missed flight we saved about $3,500. Kristen got to check a few more states off her list, visit a few friends, and go on a road trip that she loved to boot!

So let this inform you, if you’re looking to buy a car any time soon find out what part of the country has the lowest prices for that kind of vehicle. Make contact with a couple options there, and you can get your new car at a LOT less! The option to combine a trip with it just means it’s that much more of an adventure for you!

If you have any bigger purchases or plans coming up give some serious thought to a different way to execute that makes it better for you. It was fun getting to do something so different with our experience. If you have any deeper questions about our process or have a few ideas you’d like to bounce off someone let us know down below! Until next time Pengminions!

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