Living Abroad

It seems like every time I post on this site lately, it’s a heady introspective on life and goals.  Not sure why that is, but I think that because I have only been writing here 2 times a year, I try to make it worthwhile.

Writing has been difficult for me at times given my commitments as an agency owner, bodyguard, pool supply mogul, board member and myriad other things that fill my time.

See, two paragraphs in and I can already feel this post is turning into one of those types of posts.  I’m starting to annoy even myself.  This post wasn’t about that.

This post was about the thought of living abroad, which is actually tied to one of the goals I wrote down for myself in 2005.  I have always wanted to live abroad and learn another language, but once again I never thought it possible.

I’m still not sure how possible it is, but the notion has consumed my thoughts lately.  As my engagement approaches wedding, Amanda and I will need to make some decisions about where to live, work/life balance and more.  We both are very interested in the idea of living abroad at some point, and may take steps to make this happen.

Not that I have many readers left, but I was wondering if anyone has ever had this type of experience?  I asked my Facebook friends this question and got a resounding response that living abroad is a fantastic experience and everyone would gladly do it again.

That’s the type of experience I am looking for.  Going back to my roots in a sense.  Working remotely with clients, growing our business internationally, taking awesome vacations, writing more often, becoming a professional quality photographer and creating a photo blog.

I have no timeline for when we will do this (if at all) and no plans at this point.  It could be in 3 years, it could be in 10.  Heck, it could be in 20.

So what are your thoughts on packing up and moving abroad?   Would you choose the location and then move, or move wherever the wind takes you?  Would you keep your worldly possessions at home or sell everything and start over?

A Morning in Ketchikan Alaska

By the time we woke up on Thursday morning, the ship was already docked in Ketchikan. We only had a few hours in port, so we hastily got ready for the day and got off the ship as soon as possible. The ship was required to leave at 11:45 AM, so we wanted to make the most out of our short time in the city.

Ketchikan is a very unique city and I found it to be very beautiful as well. We were told that the city receives rain over 200 days a year, so it was surprising to see the sun while we were there. We also learned that the climate of Ketchikan is actually much warmer than Minnesota’s climate, that it rarely gets below 30 in the winter, and the summers are mild and not nearly as humid. I always thought Alaska would be much colder than Minnesota, but that’s not always the truth.

As soon as we got off the ship, we were once again greeted by several people trying to sell us day trips. Since we only had a limited amount of time in port, we decided to forgo an excursion and play things by ear for the day. My dad had heard about a lumberjack show that was taking place, and really wanted to go. I wasn’t too interested in going because it seemed like a ripoff ($36 for a one hour show… and the show went until 11:45 AM), but I caved when I realized there really weren’t many other options.

We had a few hours to kill before the show, so we walked around the town to see what it was all about. From what I heard, Ketchikan is a fishing village, and is actually the launching point for much of the deep sea fishing that takes place in Alaska. This definitely sounded accurate, as there were tons of boats in the harbor (to go along with the great views and photo ops).

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Tracy Arm Fjord and Sawyer Glacier – Alaska Day 5

This morning we woke up bright and early for the scenery highlight of the cruise; Tracy Arm Fjord. We had been hearing about the beautiful Fjord ever since we first boarded the ship, and it did not disappoint.

The Tracy Arm Fjord was a very narrow passageway that was carved out by a glacier. Since it was carved out by a glacier, the Fjord was over 1000 feet deep, which allowed our ship to navigate the passages with no concerns of being in too shallow of waters. We were immediately greeted by some bright blue ice chunks. I can’t do them justice, so make sure to look at the photos throughout this post.

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Skagway and Yukon Train Ride – Alaska Day 4

Day 4 of the trip was Tuesday, and our port of call was Skagway. We actually pulled into port some time during the early morning, so by the time we woke up, we were already docked.

After getting ready, we left the ship to go on a hike that was an “unpublished” free excursion that took us a few miles out of Skagway. My dad had received an article about this potential excursion from his neighbor, who had ready about it in AARP magazine. Sounds like quite the workout if it comes from AARP (American Association for Retired People). That was sarcasm; it didn’t really sound like it would be too strenuous at all.

So we took off walking and looked for the trail just outside of town. We found it pretty easily and crossed a very cool foot bridge that overlooked a flowing river. From there, we started on a path to Yakutania Point, our intended destination. It was about a half a mile hike to the point, and we ended up getting there pretty easily.

The point was pretty cool, and I was able to get some good landscape shots from that point of view. There were several very smooth rocks that we had to climb over in order to get an unobstructed view of the water and the harbor where our ship was docked.

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Juneau and Mendenhall Glacier – Alaska Day 3

Monday morning was our time to see whales. Dad and I woke up early and perched on our balcony the entire morning in search of some whales. We learned during the talk yesterday that this was one of our best chances to see whales during our cruise. That’s all we needed to hear, as dad and I got out our respective digital still cameras, dad’s HD Camcorder (1080i beeehotch), and some trusty binoculars.

We sat out there drinking coffee on and off for several hours, and I was the only one to see a whale (I saw two, but I mostly only saw the whale tails… and I’m not talking thong underwear). I was actually a little disappointed, because I was so focused on trying to get a photo of the whale that I didn’t even give myself a chance to appreciate the beauty in real life (thank god for photos!) We whale watched the rest of the morning (with a gluttonous stop at the breakfast buffet once again), and sat on the balcony up until the point the ship landed in Juneau for the day.

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Day at Sea – Alaska Day 2

Woke up pretty early Sunday morning, feeling very refreshed after the long travel day Saturday. Utilized the amazing on-board room service option to have some coffee and grapefruit to the room for an early morning pre-breakfast. Read on my computer for a little while and then got ready to go to the real breakfast.

Much like my other two on ship dining experiences, the breakfast buffet proved to be an excellent spread with several options. I ate a LOT. It was awesome. I tried to stick to foods that were natural (fruits, eggs, bacon, etc.) and not highly processed, and I would say I did a decent job. Still ate more than I should have.

After breakfast I went down to the casino again to see if I could still play blackjack. Turns out that I needed to wait until 10 AM. I went back to the room and chilled out a little bit and then eventually went down to the casino to test my luck. I didn’t fare nearly as well as the night before, losing $80 in about 25 minutes.

After lunch (I am not going to go into food details as much during the rest of this diary, otherwise this would turn into a food blog. If that’s what you want, you should check out my sisters Twin Cities Restaurant Blog, which kicks more ass than you could ever imagine. It is the Chuck Norris of Twin Cities area restaurant review blogs) my dad went and watched a guy speak about living on an Island in Alaska by himself. I watched the replay on TV later in the day, and it was very informative. He was like a real life version of the guy from Into the Wild (I suggest you watch this movie if you haven’t already) *spoiler alert* only he doesn’t die at the end. *end spoiler alert*

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Seattle Harbor and Shipoff – Alaska Day 1

Today is Saturday, May 31, and I am on my way to Alaska for a cruise with my dad, Jimbo. We have been talking about going on an Alaskan cruise for the past several years (since 2006 I believe) and this year we finally pulled the trigger and went through with it. Prior to this trip, my only real exposure to an Alaskan cruise was on that epic two-part episode of Baywatch where Mitch, Hobie and the gang took an Alaskan cruise. On that cruise, some murderous douchebag was on board the ship causing all sorts of ruckus, and Mitch had to come through and save the day. Of course, the Hoff did save the day, and continued his awesome performance record of delivering 10 times out of 10. Between me and my dad being on this boat, I think we have some serious Hasselhoff potential!

Leading up to this trip, I had told quite a few people about how I was going on Alaskan cruise with my dad. Their first reaction was “why isn’t your mom going?” I told them that it was because my mom, Franny, didn’t have any desire to go to Alaska and be cold all the time. This is quite true, and even though we reminded Franny that Alaska really isn’t much colder than Minnesota at this time of year, she wouldn’t budge.

The second reaction I received was for people to tell me to be prepared to see a TON of old people. They couldn’t have been more correct. More on this later, but let’s just say that on the demographics curve of this ship, I am an extreme outlier on the young axis.

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My New (old) Girlfriend

With great pride and joy, I would like to formally announce the newest notch on Jeff Sauer’s bedpost.

Last night I was out to dinner with my parents at Cody’s Roadhouse in the Tyrone mall near St. Petersburg, Florida. Wednesday night is 2 for 1 fajitas night, and we were on a mission to eat fajitas at a heavily discounted price! Apparently, so was the rest of Florida, because when we arrived at the joint (in its classy strip mall location), we were greeted by a 1 hour, 10 minute estimated wait time. Sifting through a sea of geriatrics, white trash with wispy stouches (my word for mustaches… it’s fun to say, and implies the person has a stache and is a douche, hence stouche), and all other kinds of depressing circus freaks, we had to decide whether or not it was worth waiting over an hour to get discounted fajitas. We ultimately decided yes and chose to wait it out in the bar area, and I am glad that we did.

That’s when I saw her. The prettiest darned thing I had ever seen in my life. The yin to my yang, the love of my life. I am now a believer in love at first sight. Every cliché about love and romance that I have ever read culminated in this one precious moment. Magically, the 70’s rock ballad “Dream Weaver” started playing in the background, and I glanced across the bar and saw my one and only. Amazingly, my parents were kind enough to document this moment with a photograph.

Me and my girl

That’s not really what happened. As excited as it would make me to announce to you, blog readership, that I met and fell in love with this prune, I can’t tell that to you in good faith. But there is a story behind this blog post, oh yes, there is a story.

And that story may be even better than the prospects of locking lips with the Florida Raisin above.

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Florida Update

On November 16th 2003, Google commenced an update (the Florida update) which had a catastrophic effect for a very large number of websites and, in the process, turned search engine optimization on its head. It is usual to give alphabetical names to Google’s updates in the same way that names are given to hurricanes, and this one became known as “Florida”.

Since I am a nerd who does search engine optimization for a living, when I decided on a title for this post, all I could think of was to call it my Florida Update. It just stuck in my head and even though it’s not completely on topic, I knew it had to be the title of this post. Fortunately, unlike the notorious Google Florida update from years ago, my Florida update has no negative implications or repercussions. In fact, it’s generally rosy on all fronts for Jeff Sauer.

For the past 4 years, my parents have rented a condo down in Florida. For the past 4 years, I have visited for 1-3 weeks. For the past 4 years, I have completely thrived in the situation.

Florida in February is my escape from the outside world. My escape from the harsh Minnesota winters. My escape from the ghost of “relations” past. My escape from working in an office or from home. My escape from day to day responsibilities. My escape from a poor diet and below freezing temperatures causing a lack of exercise. My escape from the little things in life that are either taken for granted, or over analyzed. It’s me time baby.

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