Produce: Grocery shopping is so exciting! I have made salads nearly everyday with fresh kale, spinach, herbs, tomato, cucumber, peppers, etc. It's heaven to have all of these fresh foods again! We were very lucky to have Martha's indoor garden, yielding a small salad every month or so. But having salad as an entree feels amazing! Rehydrated veggies just aren't the same, there's no crisp or crunch, just kinda soft or mushy at worst. So I really have been appreciating veggies and fruits that are both crisp and hydrated, biting em releases this juicy freshness that I now fully savor!
Bubbles: After drinking just boring ole still water with the occasional lemonade powder, it's such a luxury to order drinks and carbonated beverages. Just finished a Dr. Pepper with an Ono fish sandwich. Last night I popped some champagne with my birthday cake, yay bubbles! Also had some delicious kiwi (been dreaming about peaches and kiwi while in the dome) with my birthday dessert, but on the topic of drinks, I have yet to have a really great juice.. might need to seek one out soon! Worst case I'll wait til Florida to have some fresh OJ!
Flying: Leaving the Big Island felt so rushed, but still it was freeing to travel again after 8 long months of dome life. I was excited to head off to vacation with my family, just wish there was more time to decompress and enjoy Earthly life with the crew. We had several days of debriefing after the mission, but it would have been great to vacation together for a little while too. We're all spread across the Hawaiian Islands now with our families and friends. Soon I'll be taking a marathon of a flight to Italy. It will be my first time flying solo and for longer than an hour, since so far I've just been island hopping with my parents and one of my brothers Eric. We're having a blast together, already explored Kauai, and just landed in Maui today.
Swimming: The day of re-entry included some pool and hot tub time. We also did a manta ray night snorkel in Kona, and I enjoyed some waves with some amateur body surfing in Kauai. So I guess the swimming boxes are mostly checked off, but I can't get enough! Hope to do some snorkeling soon and more hot tub time definitely needs to happen!
Occasions: Each day feels like playing dress up! In the dome, I basically just wore gym clothes or the occasional outreach attire of jeans and the red HI-SEAS polo which I'm sure you've all seen! So wearing summer dresses, sandals, or really any kind of shoes for more than an hour or two has been a big change from the dome life of slippers all day, except for hiking boots on EVAs and running shoes during workouts.
Alone time: I have yet to spend any significant time alone, but I did have an hour or two in the hotel room on Wednesday morning that involved packing and media phone interviews. I'm not anxious for alone time, but I do have quite a bit of work piling up.. deadlines approaching at the end of the month. Also I haven't had the chance to make full use of my newly restored phone privileges and need to call my friends soon. Even writing this blog post is a bit of a strain, using my iPhone while riding in the back of the rental car! But soon I'll have a long flight to Italy to catch up on all my bidness! Part of me wonders if I'll be afraid to be alone. I will have roommates at my new apartment this year, because I think it will just be too stark of a contrast to go from dome life to an apartment for one.
Meat: During the mission we taught Allen (aka Dad) about the meaning of "foodgasm" and I'm sure he's using the term often these days. Our first Earthly lunch post-mission involved some rotisserie chicken that had us oo-ing and awe-ing. The fats, juices, and bones were all foreign to us and made for taste explosions. Last night for my birthday dinner, my real Dad grilled some steaks to perfection. I couldn't believe how much I had missed the flavors and textures of a juicy steak. We basically never had to use a knife while on sMars because all of our ingredients were ground or diced. Cutting into the NY strip that filled my plate felt like the equivalent of slicing into a 10lb roast. Each tender slice was foodgasmic, my eyes were closing with each bite, and my Mom was sitting across from me thoroughly entertained.