aboutWe are Akila and Patrick. Ourminds (and waistlines) expand as we travel, cook, and eat our way around the world with our two dogs.
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TheRoadUnleashed.com
easycanvasprints giveaway + we're off (again)

The Road Forks route through Europe

The first four months of our European trip

I have been waiting over a year to write these words:

We are leaving for Europe today. 

Today!  We are, as you read this, sitting on the Queen Mary 2 cruise ship with Chewy and Abby in the kennels on the 12th deck.  In one week, we will arrive in Southampton, England.  Our plans tend to be as volatile as Lady Gaga's fashion choices but right now our 13-month European leg looks like this:

  • August: Cotswolds and Cornwall, England
  • September: Madrid and Barcelona, Spain
  • October: Cannes, France; Alba, Italy (for the truffle festival); and Tuscany, Italy
  • November: Sorrento and Rome, Italy; somewhere in Wales
  • December: London, England
  • January: Mexico (for a wedding); then to Croatia
  • February: Croatia
  • March: Bosnia; Austria
  • April: Germany; Holland
  • May: Belgium; France
  • June: France; Ireland
  • July: Ireland; Scotland
  • August: Scotland
  • September 2012: Back to the United States

If you're wondering why we're mostly sticking to western Europe, it's because we have limitations regarding where we can bring the dogs, as well as our own Schengen zone limitations that complicate the picture (you can read all about these complications over here at The Road Unleashed).  And, yes, there are so many places that we wish we could include in this trip - we are especially sad that we will be missing out on Portugal and Switzerland (though we might try to squeeze Switzerland in somewhere).

Easy Canvas Prints

Our EasyCanvasPrints.com canvas

To celebrate the kick-off of our European leg, we have partnered with EasyCanvasPrints.com to give away an 8 x 10 canvas print of any photograph that you desire.  I am absolutely in love with the print that we ordered from them and I think you'll be very happy with any canvas print that you order, as well.

Pre-touch up

Touched up for the web

The process is super simple.  First, pick a picture you love.  I chose this one that we took on our Africa-in-Focus overland trip because I love the sharpness of the zebras and the way the background melts away.  The version above is the touched-up Lightroom version for the web. 

Fixed up photo for EasyCanvasPrints

Version touched up for EasyCanvasPrints

Then, I went into Lightroom and I edited the picture so that I could have it printed out.  As you can see, I upped the brightness and the sharpness because I've found that, in general, any printed photo looks much darker than the version you see on the web. 

EasyCanvasPrints border

EasyCanvasPrints ordering form

I chose my canvas size (8 x 10), uploaded my image, and selected my border option. 

Edge on image wrap

Edge of canvas

I personally prefer the Image Wrap because I think it looks a bit more professional, but that's just me.  It took me a couple of tries to get the image wrapped exactly as I wanted but the EasyCanvasPrints website lets you adjust the size of your picture and maneuver where the cropping will occur.

EasyCanvasPrints.com

Finished canvas prints

A week later, I had it in my hands.  The colors are sharp, the canvas is nubbly to the feel, and it looks as professional as anything you might find in a gallery.  I am in love.  But, sadly, my beautiful canvas is sitting at my parents' house while we head off to Europe. 

Okay, fine, I'm not really all that sad.  Have I told you how ecstatic I am that we are taking our dogs with us to Europe?  This is going to be an adventure, completely different than anything we've ever done before, and I can't think of a better way to celebrate than to give away a beautiful canvas print.

So, here's the deal.  You will be entered into the drawing for a canvas print from EasyCanvasPrints.com if you do any (or all) of the following:

  • you leave a comment below telling me about your next adventure.  It could be something as simple as "going to check out the new Chinese restaurant" or something huge like "getting married."  I can't wait to read about the excitement happening in your lives.
  • you tweet one of the following two tweets: "Hey @theroadforks & @easycanvas: my next adventure is ____. [*fill this in here*] Pick me to win! http://bit.ly/nXPIbD"  OR  "I entered to win a canvas print from @theroadforks & @easycanvas http://bit.ly/nXPIbD"
  • you like EasyCanvasPrint's Facebook Fan Page AND leave a comment letting me know below
  • you like The Road Fork's Facebook Fan Page AND leave a comment letting me know below

You can enter by commenting or tweeting once a day until 11:59 p.m. EST, August 5, 2011.  That's a lot of ways to win!  Unfortunately, this drawing is limited to U.S. and Canadian readers (sorry international folks - I need to run a special giveaway just for y'all.)

* This giveaway is sponsored by EasyCanvasPrints.com but all thoughts and descriptions of their website are, as always, my own.  I rarely pick giveaway partners because I'm usually not all that impressed by their products but I think you will be as impressed with this one as I am.

*** UPDATE *** A big congratulations to Cam at Traveling Canucks who has won the Easy Canvas Print.  Yay!

07/27/2011 09:25
Yay! You're off again! The 4 of you will have a ball :) Can't wait to hear all about it and maybe even meet up somewhere next summer (we'll be in London for the olympics)! Our next adventure will be parenthood in October :) Bon Voyage!!
Manali & Terry's recent blog post: Holiday Letter 2010
07/27/2011 10:37
I'm so excited for you guys! Your planning post gives me heartburn just thinking about all of the logistics, but it will all be worth it in the end to travel together as a foursome. These Easy Canvas prints look awesome...perhaps just the thing to decorate our new apartment? Except it would require me actually doing something about the thousands of photos from our trip. Still procrastinating on that front! Anyway, my next adventure is not so adventurous (at least not when I'm in the doldrums of resumes and cover letters and job boards) - finding a job and hopefully new career. I'll be living vicariously through you guys, at least for now. Bon Voyage and have fun!
07/27/2011 11:08
oh your itinerary sounds DELICIOUS!! We just did a day in Dubrovnik and fell in love ... (nope - wasn't wondering why you were sticking to Western Europe -- was only salivating at where you ARE going!)

(i'm international - so am not commenting to enter the giveaway ... just commenting just because)
naomi's recent blog post: I AM PHENOMENAL.
07/27/2011 16:59
Off you go! We'll be right behind you, though sadly not visiting Europe on our abbreviated RTW. Though maybe I'll get an assignment or two over there when back in early 2012 and can track you down...that or see you back in the South next year when we're all dirty Southerners again! =)
Camels & Chocolate's recent blog post: Coming Home
07/27/2011 18:23
I am headed to China (Shanghai and Beijing) on business in three weeks. I am so lucky to get to travel for my job. I stil travel with my camera and take lost sof pictures, as is evidenced by my pictures from my trip to Brazil in my latest post.
07/27/2011 20:59
clara
i got a job offer from the hospital and i thought i failed the panel interview because i was so nervous. i'm so excited since if hired, i'll be able to work again after 3 years of unemployment :)
07/28/2011 02:44
ashley
1. i tweeted! -
http://twitter.com/#!/aca24/status/96485673422438400
2. I liked the road forks on facebook!
3. I liked easycanvas on facebook!
4. My birthday is in 10 days and I am going to Oklahoma and crossing it off from my states to visit bucket list and visiting as many Native American museums as I can fit in the two days! And we are camping at night. Can't wait!
07/28/2011 09:29
I'm happy to hear that you're off again, since I only discovered your blog towards the end of your last travels! And I will be especially interested to hear how the dogs get on. My dog is one of the excuses I use for not getting off my butt and out there of late.....there are other, less get-roundable ones, like lack of money, but hey!
islandmomma's recent blog post: Walking the Badlands of the Coast
07/28/2011 09:30
1. My next adventure is visiting my brother in Hong Kong!
2. Done
3. Done
4. Done

PS I'm sooo excited for your journey on the water and I LOVE your print!!!
Andi of My Beautiful Adventures's recent blog post: Dominican Republic: Day 4
07/28/2011 09:58
Sarah
1.) My next adventure takes me to Oshkosh, WI to see the Oshkosh Air Show!
2.) I tweeted: http://twitter.com/#!/smhuts
3.) I liked road forks on facebook.
4.) I liked easy canvas on facebook!

Have a great time in Europe!
07/28/2011 12:30
Looking forward to reading about your travels! My next adventure is moving to Incheon, South Korea to teach English for a year.
Rachel's recent blog post: Food at the Archives
07/28/2011 19:23
How exciting! Definitely looking forward to reading about your adventures in Europe!

I'm currently planning a weekend getaway in late September to see some fall foliage!
Wendy's recent blog post: Green Marble Tomb
07/28/2011 19:26
I also tweeted as well as liked you on Facebook!
Wendy's recent blog post: Green Marble Tomb
07/29/2011 14:44
I'm so excited for you both, and for Chewy and Abby. I'm preparing for my own overseas adventure with my "big" dog Tanner. I will love following your trip.
07/31/2011 12:55
Can't wait to hear how the dogs do on the ship! We loved taking Cosmo to Italy, I'm sure your whole trip will be amazing. Our next adventure is a short trip to Chicago... I'm planning to take Cosmo on the Chicago Canine Cruise... fun!!
Diane and Cosmo
07/31/2011 14:15
I'm so excited for your trip and can't wait to see everything you discover!

Our next adventure actually just started today; we're housesitting for the first time for a couple (well, the couple's cat) in east London. The cat (Chairman Miaow) doesn't know what he thinks of us yet, but we'll win him over... especially since our opposable thumbs open his daily tuna. ;)
Christy @ Technosyncratic's recent blog post: San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge
07/31/2011 14:17
Aaaaand we already like you on facebook! Well, Technosyncratic likes you, but I still don't know if that shows up or not. I find myself easily confused over there.
Christy @ Technosyncratic's recent blog post: San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge
07/31/2011 20:06
I'm so excited for you!! This itinerary is close to my heart and I look forward to following your adventures :)

My next adventure is sadly caught in a time warp. Once we break free, it will see us eating our way through parts of Spain.
08/01/2011 23:24
Angela
My next adventure will be work tomorrow. :(
08/01/2011 23:28
Angela
I tweeted your post :)
08/01/2011 23:30
Angela
I like EasyCanvasPrint's Facebook Fan Page
08/01/2011 23:31
Angela
I like your facebook page :)
08/03/2011 08:11
Okay I'm so jealous of your trip! I'm hoping to get back to Europe sometime in the next couple years, but until then it's Latin America for me!
08/03/2011 12:42
WOW - looks like a fantastic adventure! We'll look forward to following your new journey ;-)
08/03/2011 12:54
WOW - looks like a fantastic adventure! We'll look forward to following your new journey ;-)
Cam @ Traveling Canucks's recent blog post: Why We Love Living in British Columbia
08/05/2011 02:03
Antonio
Wow, great selection! Let me suggest you not to forget visting the Swiss Alps. You should DEFINITELY go!
At present I live in Madrid, please do not hesitate to contact me in case you're looking for some advice or just want to share some small talk over a typical food! See you!
08/07/2011 07:18
Thanks Antonio! We will be in Madrid sometime in September so I will certainly send you an email with questions.
Akila's recent blog post: in the trees at tsitsikamma
08/13/2011 12:37
Awesome! Thanks guys! ;-)
08/29/2011 14:35
I love your itinerary! Even though I didn't get to see all of Europe, I will say that my heart is in Germany!!!

Have an amazing time :)
08/30/2011 10:10
Thanks Ritu! We are really looking forward to spending time in Germany - especially in some of the more rural areas.
Akila's recent blog post: elizabeth on 37th
09/03/2011 03:43
Hi, I see you're on the road again. How exciting!
We are now settling in Sicily and preparing the arrival of our baby that was conceived while we traveled around the world :)
I see you are only going as far as Salerno in Italy, but if you get a chance come and visit us in Sicily :) I believe there are ferries from Salerno to Sicily... we are living in Syracuse and we would be very happy to welcome you here and show you around.

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aqua hotels hawaiian vacation giveaway

Maile Sky Court

Maile Sky Court lobby

If you're like me and need a respite from the snow-packed, gloomy winter we've been having, this is the post for you.  In our biggest giveaway yet, one lucky person will win a 5-night stay at the Aqua Maile Sky Court Hotel in Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii.  In case you konked yourself out when you hit your head in amazement at this giveaway like I did when I got the email from the Aqua folks, let me repeat that for you:

I haven't been to Oahu in over 15 years but I remember a sapphire ocean and sky that rushed into the emerald green island.  We are currently watching all of the LOST Seasons in a row which causes us to: (1) reminisce about our favorite show ever and (2) want to get on a plane and fly to Oahu immediately.

Maile Sky Court Hotel
Aqua Palms pool Aqua Palms restaurant
Maile Sky Court Hotel

We have (unfortunately) not stayed at any of the Aqua Hotel properties but this particular one has received good reviews at TripAdvisor.  Though it is certainly a budget option --- rooms start at $90 --- former guests pronounce it "clean," with "friendly staff," nice "views of the ocean," and, most importantly, "good location."  The property is located just a few blocks from the beach and the main shopping area and restaurants.

If you’d like five nights of free accommodations at the Maile Sky Court [and who wouldn't?], just a few minutes’ walk from Waikiki Beach, enter this giveaway in any of the following ways:

1. Leave us a comment telling us why you want or need a vacation in Waikiki or on Oahu. Please enter this way only once a day (you can use the same answer every day or you can use different ones, too).

2. Tweet the following on Twitter once a day: I entered to win a 5-night @aquahotels stay in Hawaii from @theroadforks http://bit.ly/hrF1iP

3. Like The Road Forks Facebook fan page.  Please leave a comment below letting us know that you liked our page.

This giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on March 11, 2011, which gives you two full weeks to comment, Tweet, and like this giveaway.  If my calculations are correct, if you comment and tweet every day, you have a total of 29 possible chances to win this free hotel stay at Aqua Maile Sky Court!  Some blackout dates apply and the 5-nights-stay must be used by March 11, 2012.  I will randomly choose a winner using random.org.

* This giveaway was sponsored by Aqua Hotels & Resorts, who operate resorts on five Hawaiian islands.

02/25/2011 01:40
Why do I need a vacation in Hawaii? Well, like you, I'm getting tired of the snow. Only problem is, I live in Sweden, where we have snow from October to April and sometimes even in May. This winter has been particularly hard, with temperature dropping below -35C in some places, and where I live, held steady at about -22C all through the holidays - 'warming up' to a staggering -17C with icy winds two weeks ago.
They don't really like to plow snow over here, and salting the streets isn't environmentally healthy, so my way to work is a slip-n-slide not even the inner child in me can enjoy.
And to add to it all, recently I fell over (cracked the ice, too) and came away with a hairline fracture on my pelvic bone.
Weather forecast? Outlook no good...

Hawaii, please! :)
Dizzie's recent blog post: To vaccinate or not to vaccinate
02/25/2011 02:40
Les perry
Even if u live in Hawaii u need a vacation...plus no TSA trauma
02/25/2011 11:25
Jason
My wife will be coming to america shortly from the Philippines, and I would love to have a romantic vacation with her. I ask because after bringing her here, and the stress of leaving everything behind, i would like to try to distract her with Hawaii's beauty.
02/25/2011 11:43
Neil laubenthal
I need a vacation on Oahu to preparenfor my upcoming RTW trip . . .nothing like warm weather and beaches to get me ready.
02/25/2011 14:14
I'd like to win this so I can give it to my sister and her husband. She lives in San Diego and just got married. Not only did I not give her a proper wedding gift, but I was also not able to attend the ceremony (which was in Las Vegas!). She's always complaining she wants more holidays so this would be the perfect oportunity.
P.S. I've also liked your fb page
Denise's recent blog post: Australia has a sense of humour
02/25/2011 16:39
Natalie
I want to win, b/c I would love to go to Hawaii. I never made it when I lived in CA, and now being married with two kids, my husband and I would love to get away just ourselves. It's been a long winter and I would love to have a vacation planned and paid for! Thanks for the giveaway!
02/25/2011 20:30
I work two jobs (so I'm exhausted), I work in the arts (so I'm not so rich), and I live in Toronto (where it's been colder and snowier than in years). To top if off, next year is my 10 year anniversary with my partner, and it would be amazing to go on, yes, a first honeymoon to my dream place of honeymoons since childhood... Hawaii!!! I should add that as a semi-pro musician, he is even more overworked and more poor than me - if that helps my case. Trust me when I tell you: we can use this prize!
Also, can I say that I love your blog (your transnational fast food theorem - I can't agree more! Dunkin' Donuts in S. Korea IS amazing!)?!
And also, now I'm your Facebook fan. A real fan - great photos!
Jenna's recent blog post: Tasting tea: the basics
02/26/2011 00:01
mina
What an amazing giveaway! I've been bedridden with the worst bronchitis for a week+ and this would be the best pick me up. I've always wanted to go to Hawaii.
02/26/2011 02:28
This winter has been hard. I would probably take my mom if she would join me, she has been struggling with lymphoma and chemotherapy. She hasn't been having a good time and maybe a vacation would give her a break.
02/26/2011 02:31
Krista C.
And I have already "liked" you on Facebook. You were the first rtw blog I have ever followed.
02/26/2011 09:07
I lived on Oahu from 1996-1999 and I would LOVE to return and visit friends. It is such a beautiful island. I would visit Byodo Temple in Kaneohe, it is one of my favorite spots. I liked your Facebook fan page prior to the contest starting. Thanks for the opportunity!
Lisa's recent blog post: The joy of traveling
02/26/2011 09:10
I'd love to win because, well, who wouldn't? I've never been to Oahu before so I'd love the chance to explore that island.
Already "liked" your FB page a long time ago. ;-)
02/27/2011 02:29
I don't know how I wasn't already "liking" you guys!

I would love to go to Hawaii because my mother and father honeymooned there 30 years ago and I would love to experience the same thing. <3
Erica's recent blog post: Travel Photography San Francisco
02/27/2011 22:21
I'd like to go to Hawaii because we've had a super cold and snowy winter here in Boston and a trip to Hawaii would be a great break. Although airfare would be nice too :-)
Asa's recent blog post: 40 years ago...
02/28/2011 12:58
Kristin
I would love to win because I haven't been on vacat in three years! My boyfriend and I I've never been on a real vacation together. We have never been to Hawaii and hear it's one of the prettiest islands in Hawaii.
02/28/2011 13:24
I'd love to go to Hawaii! I've never been and I love a good vacation by the beach.
02/28/2011 13:25
I also liked your Facebook page!
02/28/2011 19:04
I need a fabulous tan before my wedding and I need to destress from the planning!
Andi of My Beautiful Adventures's recent blog post: FAQ’s About My Upcoming Wedding (Part 1)
03/01/2011 09:11
I need a Hawaii vacation b/c the 1st time I went to Hawaii almost 10 years ago I camped around the entire big island on the beach with a bunch of kids from around the world. It was one of the most inspiring experiences of my life.
I want to go back and relive that at another period in my life :)
Lauren @ The Mad To Live's recent blog post: How To Ignite Imagination In Pleasantville
03/01/2011 09:19
My blogger friends and I have a dream of sailing a pirate ship (with wifi on deck) to Hawaii. Accommodations would be nice too. :)
03/01/2011 16:03
Tracy
Almost 13 years ago I said "I DO" 13 years later I wouldn't change a thing. My husband and I have two kids, ages 6 & 4 and live a bit of a hurried but happy life. This trip would be a bit of a blessing, a time to relax & RECONNECT with one another while sharing something we both love: TRAVEL! Have been itching to get to Hawaii too..want to hike Diamond Head! "Liked" the FB page. Looking forward to following you both there & twitter!
03/01/2011 16:43
I've always wanted to tour Oahu and I need a vacation because I'm writing three books a year, parenting three kids, and travel blogging to boot!
Lisa Bergren's recent blog post: A Perfect Day in Dana Point
03/01/2011 18:40
Kara Sanders
I would like a Hawaiian vacation because I need sun and warmth so badly. I would love to take my mom because I never get to see her and she works all the time. I won't be able to see her this year because my measly travel budget is blown on a cousin's wedding where I have to take a redeye, watch them get hitched, then fly back THAT NIGHT.
I haven't had a vacation since I was a little kid.
03/01/2011 18:42
Kara Sanders
I tweeted about this here:
http://twitter.com/#!/wanderingstrs/status/42746442401587200
03/01/2011 18:44
Kara Sanders
I like the Road Forks Facebook Fan page
03/01/2011 18:44
Kara Sanders
and my email addy is karaksanders at gmail dot com
03/01/2011 18:41
Never been to Hawaii, but as a fellow blogger in need of my next adventure would love to head to Hawaii.
Keith 's recent blog post: Training It
03/01/2011 21:24
i need a vacation cause my ass is colder than than a well-digger's ass
Dollar Van Demos's recent blog post: Haitian Jonas & Damilliman Wap Kon Jorge
03/01/2011 21:30
Natalie
We would love to go to Hawaii! I've never been and would love to have a vacation for next winter already planned! Thanks so much!!
03/01/2011 22:06
I like you on facebook :)

I need a vacation in Hawaii because I've just made it through my first Canadian winter.
03/01/2011 22:13
Oh...how I want to go to Hawaii...it's even in our next year travel plans! FREE would only make it better! I already LIKE you...and it's tweeted now too!
Gillian @OneGiantStep's recent blog post: Twitter Travel Tips: Building Community
03/01/2011 23:17
I need a Hawaii vacation, the Pacific Northwest never-ending winter is KILLING ME. Sunshine is the only cure!
Kim's recent blog post: RTW Countdown: 10 Months
03/02/2011 07:50
Jason
I liked your facebook page!!
03/02/2011 08:43
Aloha Hawaii...as the wind storm pummels us here. Take me away!
Gillian @OneGiantStep's recent blog post: Should We Have Greased A Palm Or Two?
03/02/2011 10:37
Aloha! I need this so I can spend some well needed rest from my very stressful job and to have some private R&R time with my honey. So pick me!!!! =)
Kat's recent blog post: California Coastal Cruising
03/02/2011 15:01
Tracy
Day 2 of posting for the contest. Truth is..I really want some good reconnect time with the husband and Hawaii seems perfect. Ready to make some new memories together...and kid free ones at that. Mama needs a break here. Haha.
03/02/2011 16:42
Tweeted! And we like your fan page. :)

The only time we've visited to Hawaii was with Kali's family during spring break a few years ago. It was right after a HUGE storm washed over Kauai, so a lot of the beaches were awful and the weather was still stormy. To this day, whenever we experience tropical-feeling humidity with cloudy rain, we always comment "this feels like Hawaii!"

We'd love to go back and give it another shot! :)
Christy @ Technosyncratic's recent blog post: Wizarding World of Harry Potter
03/02/2011 21:52
Kara Sanders
Day 2 of posting for the contest!
I would love some time in the sun with my lovely mother.
Thanks again!
03/03/2011 10:30
I would love to escape the dreadful New York winter to surf in Hawaii!
Celine | 30 Before 30's recent blog post: Down by the Bayou
03/03/2011 18:14
Neil Laubenthal
Vacation in Oahu? My wife and I are retiring in August and would look forward to this as the first adventure in our life of full time travel/adventure.
03/04/2011 16:43
My husband and I need a break away from the kids! We haven't had a moment alone in years!
Sonja's recent blog post: Photo Friday: Serenade in Budapest
03/04/2011 16:46
I Liked The Road Forks Facebook fan page.
Sonja's recent blog post: Photo Friday: Serenade in Budapest
03/04/2011 18:22
Kara Sanders
Entry number three!

I could really use some sun and some time with my poor overworked Mom!

karaksanders at gmail dot com
03/05/2011 03:26
Kara Sanders
Entry number four!

I could really use some sun and some time with my poor overworked Mom!

karaksanders at gmail dot com
03/05/2011 23:42
My husband and I need a break away from the kids! We haven't had a moment alone in years!
Sonja's recent blog post: 100th Follower!
03/06/2011 00:26
Kara Sanders
Entry number four!

I could really use some sun and some time with my poor overworked Mom!

karaksanders at gmail dot com
03/06/2011 00:50
Hi, I'm Anya and I'm currently unemployed (as well as my boy). I'm afraid it's the only time we can do something crazy like that without inconveniencing others and ourselves. Plus I've never been to Hawaii, and visiting this beautiful place will allow me to share my impressions on my traveling blog: thecompulsivetraveler.wordpress.com. Thanks for the opportunity!:)
The Compulsive Traveler's recent blog post: Spice It Up in Thailand
03/06/2011 02:29
Kara Sanders
Entry number five!

I could really use some sun and some time with my poor overworked Mom!

karaksanders at gmail dot com
03/06/2011 09:10
I need a vacation in Hawaii with my kids. The husband and I went there for our ten year anniversary and our small children are holding much resentment that we didn't take them! They are constantly pointing out things that look Hawaiian and saying things like "look mom...we will see that when you take US to Hawaii"!!!!!
Jen's recent blog post: Fireworks at Disney World
03/07/2011 01:25
My boss keeps having me cancel my vacations & I'll be receiving a 25% pay cut this year too. :-(
03/07/2011 12:35
My husband and I need a break away from the kids! We haven't had a moment alone in years!
03/07/2011 22:02
Kara Sanders
3/7/11
I would love some time in the sun with my lovely mother. It's so depressing in the NW this time of year.
Thanks again!
03/08/2011 11:37
jen gersch
I want to win a trip to Waikiki to relax among the palm tree
03/08/2011 11:50
I would love to getaway with my husband for a few days!
Sonja's recent blog post: London Eats
03/08/2011 15:35
Two kids under two - enough said, right? ;)
03/09/2011 01:08
Kara Sanders
3/8/11
I would love some time in the sun with my lovely mother. It's so depressing in the NW this time of year.
Thanks again!
03/09/2011 11:55
I would love to getaway with my husband for a few days!
Sonja's recent blog post: London Eats
03/10/2011 14:12
I would love to getaway with my husband for a few days!
Sonja's recent blog post: A Success Story
03/10/2011 14:14
I twittered this today: I entered to win a 5-night @aquahotels stay in Hawaii from @theroadforks http://bit.ly/hrF1iP
Sonja's recent blog post: A Success Story
03/10/2011 15:42
FB page liked!

And in all honesty, who doesn't need a Hawaiian vacation? Living on the other side of the world has made me a very homesick girl. I've missed Christmases, Thanksgivings, birthdays and I want to make up my absences some other way. I'd love to take my mom on a first-ever girl's vacation to her favorite place in the world. Toes buried in the sand, cocktails in hand, I think my absences would be forgiven! :)
Christine's recent blog post: Travel Photography Obsession: Doors
03/10/2011 17:30
Jane
2011 has been kind of a tough year so far. My husband found out he has a serious illness, and we've spent a lot of the year so far dealing with this. Hawaii would be a sweeeeet break! Thanks.
03/10/2011 18:03
jason
My wife will be coming to america shortly from the Philippines, and I would love to have a romantic vacation with her. I ask because after bringing her here, and the stress of leaving everything behind, i would like to try to distract her with Hawaii's beauty.
03/10/2011 18:20
Hawaii...after the -20 weather in Calgary this week...I'll take it!! Put my name in the hat...again! Cheers!
Gillian @OneGiantStep's recent blog post: Twitter Travel Tips: Twitter Events
03/10/2011 18:28
Natalie
Please let it be us! Thanks again for the give away!
03/10/2011 18:33
I liked and I tweeted. That was hard work. Now fork it over...:>)
Raymond's recent blog post: And the Oscar Goes to
03/10/2011 20:00
Elizabeth Getz
Why do I need a vacation? Because other than a quick weekend trip I have not had a real bona fide vacation since I was a kid. Even then it was usually somehow tied to visiting family. I have never taken a true destination vacation just to go some place for the sake of seeing a beautiful place or going on a new adventure that did not have another purpose. I have been working 2 jobs for almost 4 years struggling to make ends meet. Without some kind of divine intervention like this a vacation will not be possible in the foreseeable future.
03/11/2011 09:19
Colleen
I want to win the vacation to Hawaii as we have our first baby on the way. We've never taken a real vacation as a couple and we need a baby moon before our life is turned upside down!
03/11/2011 09:34
Hubby and I need a getaway!
Sonja's recent blog post: Photo Friday: Bridge in Brugge
03/11/2011 13:18
Oh man, do I need a Hawaii vacation. My Vitamin D levels are in the red, and my hula hips have lost their sway. Get me to Oahu!
03/11/2011 18:22
Oahu.. take me away...
03/11/2011 18:29
Daryle
I SO need a Hawaiian vacation because I live in the Pacific NW...I need a sun break!
03/11/2011 22:32
I need to win this giveaway because I just got home from work on a Friday night, I'm exhausted from being on my feet all day, and would love to relax, soak up the sun and snorkel in Hawaii :)
03/11/2011 22:37
foodie
I would love to win since I have never traveled outside the state of CA nor out of country. I would love to go to Hawaii to try some malasadas :)
$60 CSN Stores Giveaway!

Every time we get ready to leave the United States again, we wind up buying or replacing gear.  In the last week, we've bought sleeping bags for our Africa overland expedition and replaced both of our sandals because the soles were worn through.  This is where CSN Stores comes into play because they sell everything, from luggage to furniture to pet toys to fitness equipment to cookware to baby supplies.  And, the best part, CSN Stores is giving one lucky reader a $60 gift certificate to use in any of their stores.  Woohoo!

Here are a couple of things that caught my eye while I was leisurely wasting my time by looking at all sorts of things I don't need scrolling through their site.

Luggage tag

World travel clock
Lewis N Clark pill case Individual French press
Dog bowl Miniature food processor
Isn't that luggage tag just gorgeous?  The idea behind that travel clock ---- you can adjust it to the time of 24 international cities by turning the dial --- is brilliant and the Lewis N Clark pill case is one of my favorite travel items.  I'm not a coffee drinker but, if I was, I would definitely want one of these individual french presses to make that perfect cup of joe anywhere I go.  If I still had a house, I would totally replace Chewy's and Abby's unattractive plastic food mats with this sleek food bowl and I think I'm going to succumb to buying one of these miniature food processors before we leave for Europe.

How to enter:  Just pop over to CSN Stores and pick any item that you would like to buy (and, it doesn't have to be travel or food related or whatever . . .  pick anything you want).  Come back over here and leave a comment below letting me know what you would purchase with the gift certificate.

* Unfortunately, this giveaway is limited to residents of the United States and Canada.  International folks, sorry.  :(

How to get more entries:

  • Follow us on Twitter (@theroadforks) and tweet the giveaway link with a copy to my Twitter address.  You can tweet this giveaway once per day and each tweet will count as a separate entry.
  • Become a follower of The Road Forks Facebook page and hit the Like button on this post.  [Please do not comment on the CSN Stores Facebook page because that violates Facebook policies.]

This giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on August 13, 2010 (yep, that's Friday the 13th.)  The winner will be randomly chosen.  If you win, you can purchase an item for $60 or use that money toward a more expensive item.  Believe me, the tough part here is going to be picking just one thing.

Easy peasy, right?  It's almost like I'm giving this money away . . . . 

08/09/2010 10:01
Sarah C
I love your picks! That food bowl is so sleek and fancy too.
I would love a new kitchen light. There are a few schoolhouse styles on their site that would look really nice!
08/09/2010 10:03
Sarah C
Here is my tweet -
http://twitter.com/DuckyBunny/status/20714259838
08/09/2010 10:04
Sarah C
And I am a follower on FB as sarah linette, and liked this!
08/09/2010 12:10
Rebecca Graham
I would put this toward a Le Creuset skinny grill.
08/09/2010 12:12
Rebecca Graham
Follow you on Twitter; rhoneygee
Tweeted: http://twitter.com/rhoneygee/status/20723353975

.
08/09/2010 14:42
DNP
I'd like the French Press!
08/09/2010 14:46
I would get the Antenna Ezpro Laptop Sleeve in Spring Floral Print. So cute and very useful for dragging my laptop around the world!
Kristina Wegscheider's recent blog post: DIWYY Podcast 1 1/26/10
08/09/2010 14:54
Not sure what I'd buy, but I'm sure I'd find something!
08/09/2010 15:30
OMG, I was just thinking this morning that I need a new travel clock--it's synchronistic! I'm definitely going to be tweeting this contest. :)
08/09/2010 17:53
I'd get the Rachael Ray Porcelain Enamel Skillet Triple Pack in Blue!
mina's recent blog post: the buildings in brussels
08/09/2010 19:31
Lakiesha
That's a tough one! Most stuff I want is way over the $60, so I'd probably get some boring, but needed stuff like an epicurean cutting board and some cookie sheets.
08/09/2010 22:44
Love the pet dishes. I don't have pets - but I swear they look like the interior of a sleek sports car.
Denise Michaels, "Your Excellent Adventure"'s recent blog post: Comment on Excellent Adventure Get-together was Incredible by Denise
08/10/2010 00:06
Dee
I would get the emile henry pink pie dish. Thank you so much :)
08/10/2010 00:06
Dee
tweeted and follower @deegee13

http://twitter.com/DeeGee13/status/20769221354
08/10/2010 00:07
Dee
I like you on facebook as Dee G. and liked this post
08/10/2010 13:22
Tara
I love their hydration packs so I would buy one of those for hiking!
08/10/2010 13:24
Tara
I added you on Facebook :)
08/10/2010 13:51
domestic diva
I'd use it toward a guidecraft kitchen helper. Thanks for the chance!
08/10/2010 14:17
I would love to get my daughter a step 2 waterwheel table for her birthday!
Katrina's recent blog post: I am a LIBRARIAN!!!!!!!
08/10/2010 16:43
meeyeehere
I need a crock pot or maybe some new sheets for my bed!!!
08/10/2010 20:47
Motley made
Would love to win this! We're in the market for some new lighting and fans - like the hampton bay bronze fan collection. Thank you!!
08/10/2010 23:00
Dee
tweeted for 8/10 http://twitter.com/DeeGee13/status/20854472529
08/10/2010 23:42
Cheryl W.
I would love to win the $60 CSN gift card to put toward some new bedding. The Wildon Home Sateen Sheets look fabulous.
08/10/2010 23:47
Cheryl W.
Tweet

http://twitter.com/HeartnSoulmom/status/20857516001
08/10/2010 23:50
Cheryl W.
I like you on Facebook and I like this post on your facebook page.
08/11/2010 00:25
Hana
I would get a stand mixer
http://www.csnstores.com/Sunbeam-2379-SNB1005.html
08/11/2010 08:53
Shannon F.
I'd love a timbuk2 bag!
08/11/2010 22:21
CJ
I would love to buy some of the guidecraft blocks (tabletop blocks and castle blocks) available from their toy section. Thank you for the giveaway.
08/11/2010 23:00
Dee
daily tweet thanks! :) http://twitter.com/DeeGee13/status/20944675078
08/12/2010 03:06
Henria O.
I'd love to purchase the Guidecraft Classic White Bookcase for my daughter!
sazzyfrazz at gmail dot com
08/12/2010 03:07
Henria O.
Like your FB page and liked this post!
sazzyfrazz at gmail dot com
08/12/2010 12:30
Mindee
Our food processor just died, so I'd get one of those. Although the le creuset batter bowls are useful AND pretty :)
08/12/2010 23:02
Dee
daily tweet thanks so much! http://twitter.com/DeeGee13/status/21033752271
08/13/2010 07:16
Colleen Cole
I was just shopping on CSN stores and purchased a pair of shoes for my upcoming wedding - I'd love a new purse to go with it!
08/13/2010 07:18
Colleen Cole
http://twitter.com/TalkingColleen/status/21059093847
08/13/2010 07:20
Colleen Cole
liked and liked on Facebook! Fingers crossed!
08/13/2010 09:20
Peter D
The Timbuk2 Organizer Tool Shed would be a great help on an upcoming cross-country trip! Thanks for the giveaway.
08/13/2010 14:07
Stephanie
I just spent forever looking through the knives section....we desperately need a new set of knives! Any recommendations would be appreciated!
08/13/2010 16:52
Katrina Brady
I would love to get some new sheets

sweetpeg at gmail.com
08/13/2010 18:49
Kimberley Bailey
I would love to purchase new dishes for my kitchen!
Thanks for the opportunity!
08/13/2010 21:58
Sarah C
Daily tweet!
http://twitter.com/DuckyBunny/status/21117650007
08/13/2010 22:19
Lewis F
I like the Wildon Sheet Sets or a Ceramic Knife
08/13/2010 22:22
Lewis F
Daily Tweet at:
http://twitter.com/LuigiFranco/status/21119283408
08/13/2010 22:28
Jeanette B
I would use it to but more printer ink.
09/28/2010 08:51
KarenB
I need to replace my bakeware. Le Creuset has several I have my eye on, the 9" square and the 7" x 10-1/2" rectangle would be useful in my kitchen.
07/30/2011 13:09
Shannon
I'd like another timbuk2 bag!

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the lost girls book review + giveaway

Four years ago, when our round-the-world trip was a passing thought in our stream of consciousness, Jennifer Baggett, Holly Corbett, and Amanda Pressner, three 20-something friends, left their careers in journalism to travel around the world for a year, dubbing themselves The Lost Girls.  I was hooked on their blog as soon as I read their 20 Reasons We Took Off (my favorite being #4, "We want to ban the phrases 'in the loop,' 'per our conversation,' and 'out of the box' from our daily vocabulary.")  At that time, I was still working long hours at my law firm, spending my weekends at Home Depot for renovation projects, and cramming quality time with Patrick and our dogs in the remaining few waking hours.  I was completely and totally blown away by the gumption of these women to leave behind their lives, careers, and relationships for the thrill of the open road.  I wanted that to be my lifestyle.

A week ago, I received a review copy of their new book: The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World. The book is written from the first-person viewpoint of all three women; each woman writes a chapter and the story progresses sequentially, a la The Sound and the Fury.  This was a clever way to structure this book because each woman has specific challenges that she wants to resolve: one is obsessed with her career, another is searching for faith, and the third is looking for romance. 

These women left New York City because they were bored and bogged down and wanted to do something daring and inspiring to revitalize their lives.  They had serious wanderlust and needed to satisfy their desire to see the world.  And, they didn't clamp down on their dreams, shutting it out with short two-week trips, but instead, took the leap out the door and into the world. 

The book beautifully details the intensity of their lives when they stepped out of their comfort zones.  They talk in no uncertain terms about the horrors of long-term travel, from sleeping in stinky hostels with even worse toilets to dealing with unscrupulous strangers and wearing the same clothes over and over again.  They laugh about the silly and crazy adventures that happen to them like setting up a dance class in Kenya or their difficult hike up the Inca Trail.  They cry over their fears, sorrows, and romantic struggles (and there are quite a few of those). 

Most importantly, these women describe a truth about humanity, a truth that I believe with all my heart:  there are good people in this world.  They talk about people who welcome them, care for them, help them, and touch them, like party-goers in Buenos Aires, an old woman in a Vietnamese market, and an orphan child in Kenya.  (This also leads to the only negative to this book: the cast of characters is huge and, at times, I lost track of who was who.)  The more I travel, the more I see what they see: in every country, every place, people love, laugh, hurt, anger, and live.

Travel is a gift --- a gift of realization, discovery, beauty, and joy.  These girls gave themselves that gift and, in return, they formed a sisterhood, built out of the closeness from living with someone 24 hours a day for nearly 365 days.  Four years ago, the Lost Girls helped inspire us to walk out our door and head into that Great White Somewhere.  I hope that you will read this book and feel the same way, even for just a short while.

To get you started on that path, I am giving away a copy of The Lost Girls book.  Woohoo!  All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below telling me one travel destination that is on the top of your bucket list and why.  You'll get extra entries if you tweet about this giveaway, or post on Facebook, or on your own blog.  Just let me know below that you tweeted, Facebooked, or posted on your blog about this giveaway or copy our Twitter ID (@theroadforks) so I give you credit for posting at the various places.  All entries must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. EST on Friday, May 14, 2010.   And, sorry international readers, but you must be a resident of the United States or Canada to participate.

I'll go first:  Antarctica, because there is something magical about an uninhabited land built of ice.  And, I would like to pretend that I am Superman in his Fortress of Solitude.

05/11/2010 11:49
On the top of my bucket list is Santorini. Ever since I was in sixth grade and working on a school project, it's been one of my dream destinations to be at a place where it looks like the sun is setting into the ocean.
Liz's recent blog post: Clipart.
05/11/2010 13:01
Well, first let me say that your blog has really inspired my own "wanderlust". For some reason, maybe it is the struggles with my infertility, maybe it is facing turning 30, I have a very strong underlying desire to not only travel, but to MOVE to another country. I would have to say that Thailand is on my bucket list, but I will be checking that off of my list this Summer (assuming things don't get too crazy over there). So, after checking that off, I would really like to visit ANYWHERE in South America or Africa! Thanks for your blog, I really enjoy reading about your journeys, and admire you and your husband!
05/11/2010 14:21
Virginia
Australia has a bit of everything I could want. Unique animals, big cities, beautiful landscapes, and a laid back culture.
05/11/2010 16:00
I love these girls--knew them in NYC--and am jealous you got a review copy! Can't wait to read the final draft (I read the rough copy) somewhere down the line =)

Bhutan...not sure why except that it's so inaccessible and not a lot of people talk about it...also, Nepal.
Camels & Chocolate's recent blog post: When in DubaiDont Fly Emirates Airlines
05/11/2010 16:05
The Australian Outback. I want to go horseback riding through the amazing Australian outback and discover this continent and ride off into the sunset as a lost cowgirl.
Katya's recent blog post: A Day of Reflection
05/11/2010 16:09
Only one location on my bucket list? I think I'm going with a classic one here: Paris. I have these romantic ideas of this city and I am just in love with it. It also really seems like a photography heaven; I would love to photograph the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, etc.
Wendy's recent blog post: Tall/Short
05/11/2010 18:26
Bucket list destination - South Pacific, by sailboat :)
Can't wait to read the Lost Girls book, I've been a loyal blog follower!
05/12/2010 08:00
Greek Islands! I need sunshine and warmth. And cute Greek men.
Candice's recent blog post: Video Post: Candice Does Vegemite
05/12/2010 08:32
nelli
Lovely! Your question created a wonderful few minutes of daydreaming! Spain would be my country of choice. I have been to most of Europe but never made it to Spain.
Are you really planning to go to Zambia at some point?? I was born there, maybe I'll get a chance to visit one day.....
Love your blog!
05/12/2010 17:53
Cambodia. A country with such a sad horrific past and yet home to one of the wonders of the world - Angkor Wat. I can't wait to see it. Plus the people seem so kind and friendly - I sponsor a little boy in an Orphanage there - maybe I'll get to meet him in person one day.
05/12/2010 18:50
@Danni
South Pacific by sailboat is my bucket list destination too!
Lost Girl--Amanda P's recent blog post: The Lost Girls book is now on shelves!
05/12/2010 19:54
I'm not from the US or Canada so I can't participate. But you've now made me prioritise the top destinations and put Santorini on top!
05/12/2010 22:51
I have tons of destinations on my bucket list but right now I think all of South Africa and Rio are competing for #1. Rio because it's Rio of course! And I'm a sucker for beautiful people and beaches and South Africa because of the culture, the scenery, the history. I had a friend study abroad there and have been wanting to go ever since!
05/12/2010 23:30
I have wanted to travel to Bhutan ever since I read "Beyond the Sky & Earth: A Journey into Bhutan" several years ago (and I have re-read every year since). I'm fascinated the only remaining Buddhist Himalayan kingdom -- the natural beauty of Bhutan, the people & their culture, as well as the nation's guiding philosophy of Gross National Happiness.
05/13/2010 00:03
Antarctica..before it melts away. To view magical wildlife, take in the sheer beauty of a world of ice and snow, and savor time to reflect in the silence of nature would be a travel dream come true.
Ann Lombardi's recent blog post: Who are The Trip Chicks® ?

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