Some people watch Wheel of Fortune every single night and dream about one day spinning the wheel and winning some serious cash alongside Vanna White and Pat Sajak. Other people who have never watched Wheel of Fortune (*cough* *cough*) randomly run into an audition in Las Vegas, end up getting picked to be on the show and have the worst luck, ever. I’ll let you decide which type of people we were. If you need help, check out the video of our show below or over here on YouTube.
Even though we only walked away with a consolation prize of $2,000 (see a quick recap of the game here) Stephanie and I both feel like the experience was totally worth it. We got to hang in Vegas a few times, be on one of the most popular game shows in the world, meet some amazing people, hang with Vanna and Pat and still walk away with enough cash to pay for our flights. Not a bad deal if you ask me (although we would have looked A-MA-ZING in that red Mercedes SUV).
To close out this post, here are a few awesome shots that our friend Alfred took off of his DVR recording. A few things I’d like explain — 1. I was pointing at EVERYTHING for some reason, not real sure why 2. Stephanie makes that million dollar wedge look GOOD, doesn’t she? and 3. Pat Sajak is my homeboy!
This is the wedding photo that we decided to put on the show — check out the full version below
What’s a Hupfer wedding without the Chicken Limo? (we took this on our first date)
I’m not really sure why I was pointing so much, but it seemed like a good idea at the time
Yep, Pat Sajak is my homeboy. It’s true.
yet another unexpected experience in the Congo
Well, it’s been about three weeks since I’ve posted any updates (whoops). I promise that it’s not because I haven’t wanted to. I would have loved to hop online and post about something about some of the incredible people I’ve met and experiences I’ve had. But, unfortunately I wasn’t able to due to the fact that there wasn’t a decent internet connection within 15-20 kilometers of where I was staying. My expectations before I left was that I’d be able to keep you updated, but one of the first things I learned after arriving to the Congo was that nothing is as you expect it to be and everything can change in a matter of minutes.
For instance, we thought that we were going to be dropped off at the airport in Gemena and head to Kinshasa around 10am last Saturday. It seemed like it would be a fairly straight forward day to me. We would get up, eat breakfast and then be notified after our jet arrived by someone at the airport so we could drive over and take off shortly after. But, like I said, things change quickly in the Congo and the night before we were planning on leaving the plans changed completely.
Mossai Sanguma, the president of the CEUM and our awesome host while being in the Congo told us that we were changing up the schedule a bit due to the fact that some head honchos from the World Bank were coming in on a private jet into Gemena and that his presence (along with many other local Congolese leaders) was needed to welcome them in. As I asked some questions about why the representives from the World Bank were making the trip to Gemena he told me that they had been working together on a $120 million dollar agriculture project that was recently approved and is set to begin soon in Gemena. It was a big investment and a big deal for the city of Gemena and the local officials wanted to make sure that the people flying in were received with a proper Congolese welcome that showed them how happy they were to see them.
Just like that our seemingly normal trip to the local airport was turned into an experience that I’ll never forget and once again what we initially expected was flipped upside down and turned 180 degrees into something completely different.
Instead of being dropped off by one of Sanguma’s drivers he ended up driving us, along with some of his most trusted church officials to the airport around 9:00am. When the guard in front of the airport saw who was driving us he quickly said hello to the president and raised the red and white striped gate so that we could park. Instead of driving into the regular parking lot we made our way to what was a type of VIP-only building that was reserved only for the who’s who of Gemena and apparently that included Sanguma. Just like the rest of trip none of us asked questions and just followed him in.
The VIP building included several nice-looking couches and a front row view of the airport runway. When we first arrived we were the first people there, but quickly more and more city officials, miltary leaders and religious represenatives made there way into the building as well. There was also a good-sized crowd forming outside of the building which was made up of the local people of Gemena. Some were playing musical instruments while others were holding huge banners and branches filled with green leaves. All of them were preparing to to sing and dance like crazy once the World Bank officials showed up. Once the band started playing I even saw one woman who was waving around a chicken while she danced and sang to the music.
Sanguma chatting with some of the local officials in the VIP
Stephanie, me and Joan in the airport VIP
the crowd was ready to celebrate
this woman was so excited that she was waving around a live chicken!
the band was getting the crowd fired up
As our jet arrived and was ready for us to board, the crowd only continued to get bigger and only sang louder and louder. The amount of joy and excitement was contagious and I couldn’t help but feel the joy and anticipation that they had for the arrival of their guests. Unfortunately we had to take off before they arrived, but I can only imagine the amount of celebrating that went on at that airport once they did. One thing that the Congolese people can do is celebrate and that day they were pulling out all the stops. We all felt blessed to be a part of it and like I said, it’s an experience I’ll never forget.
Now that’s a headline, huh? We’re heading to the Congo!
(Well, The Democratic Republic of the Congo if you want to get specific.)
It’s still hard for me to even believe that Stephanie and I will be heading there in less than a month, but I can now officially say with full confidence that we will both, in fact, be heading over to the Congo for a mission trip on January 10th of 2011 (assuming, of course, that our temporary tourist visas will be approved). To all of you who were hoping we were having a baby, we’re sorry to disappoint.
I know that this news is probably a bit of a shock to a lot of you (well, some of more than others I’m sure), but to be completely honest we’re still a little shocked at this point, too. But, more than anything we’re over-the-top excited to have such an awesome opportunity to travel to the Congo to serve and love on some people who haven’t ever had much of either in their lives.
We haven’t really talked much about how we’ve both been on fire for missions lately, but it’s been something that we’ve prayed about, talked to our church leaders about and have kept an open heart for ever since we got the initial itch about two years ago. So, when God threw a new opportunity in our faces a couple of months ago and yanked us towards going we quickly made a decision and now it’s happening. Just like (*snap*) that (*snap*) Stephanie and I went from thinking about how awesome it would be to go on a mission trip to going all in for traveling to the Congo. A little crazy, but hey - I guess that’s how we roll.
I don’t want to make this first post too long and we’ll be sure to add more details about what all we’re doing to prepare for the trip, but I thought that I would first answer a few of the more common questions that some of our friends and family have asked us about our decision to travel to a place like the Congo. Also, from here on out you can check out all things Congo over on this page that we’ve set up: hupandsteph.com/congo.
1. Where is the Congo?
The Congo is the third largest country in Africa and used to be called Zaire. In terms of annual per capita GDP it’s the second poorest country in the world (behind another African country Zimbabwe).
2. Is it safe over there?
This is a tough question to answer. Compared to most countries the Congo is definitely considered dangerous. We’ll be in the northwest section of the country most of the time, which is much safer than the eastern border near Sudan, where there is constant war and violence.
3. Why are you guys specifically going to the Congo for a mission trip?
The main reason we’re going is to show God’s love to a group of people who need it and to receive a lot of love right back. If you Google the Congo you’re going to read a lot about a group of people who have been taken advantage of for decades and a country that has been through a lot of changes over the past couple of years. For some reason God has decided that we should be a part building them up, so who are we to say no?
Also, our church has a great relationship with some specific villages in the Congo. We’re very involved with helping them create some financial, medical and educational sustainability and trips like these help lay down the plans and groundwork for how we continue to help them in the future.
More specifically, I’ll be focusing on improving their technology and Stephanie will be teaching English and helping out with an orphanage.
4. Aren’t you going to need some vaccinations before you head over there?
For our safety’s sake we definitely needed to get shot up with our fair share of vaccinations before traveling to the Congo. Last week we went to the medical clinic in the San Francisco airport and were given four different vaccinations all at once. The four vaccinations were Yellow Fever, Cholera, Hepatitis A and Polio. They put two in each of our arms and even though they didn’t hurt right of the bat, our arms were super sore later that night. The one that hurt the most was Yellow Fever, which is a required vaccination if you’re traveling to the Congo.
5. Is there any way that we can we help you out with this?
Of course there is. There are two main things that we need from our family and friends and those are:
1. Lots of prayer for us before and during our trip. This is the most important thing by far and something that will ensure that our mission trip is an overwhelming success.
2. Some money to cover our costs of the trip (for both us and our church). It’s not cheap to fly into a jungle all the way on the other side of the world, but it’s a cost that’s well worth spending. If you feel like you want to get involved with our mission trip by giving, we would be very grateful for whatever you could give. I don’t want to pitch you now, but I’ll have a way for you to give to our mission in a later post so keep an eye out.
6. If something unfortunately happens to you both while you’re in the Congo, can I have Frank?
Come on now, this isn’t even funny. Ok, it actually is pretty funny, but only because it’s true.
We have yet to decide on a benefactor for Frank, but once we figure it out I’ll be sure to let you know. Until then, thanks for being so concerned.
That’s enough for now, but there’s a lot more where this came from.
Before living in San Francisco a thunderstorm was pretty much second nature for us. But, since moving out to the Bay Area nearly 3 years ago we have yet to see one until today and man are people freaking out about it. I decided to go check out Twitter to see what some of the other people here in SF had to say about the rare appearance of thunderstorm and here’s what I found:
To show you just how rare it really it to have a thunderstorm like this show up in San Francisco, check out the last tweet at the bottom of the image above:
Wow, according to this guy it’s only thunder stormed 3 times in the last 7 years.
One thing to also note is that even though this is in fact a real thunderstorm that’s happening right now in San Francisco, it’s still nothing compared to what you would see in the Midwest. To get a good since of what a real thunderstorm looks like in Indiana (including hail), check out this video that I put together way back in the day.
For some reason I thought that it was a good idea to go chase a storm and I luckily ended up getting the last spot under an awning at a gas station near my old condo in Indianapolis. It wouldn’t have been good to get stuck out in this — watch the video below and you’ll see what I mean.
Check out this video of our bike riding adventure in Monterey, CA this past weekend. We headed down there to celebrate our 1 year anniversary and it was so awesome that I’m now too tired at work on Monday to even tell you all about it. That will have to happen some other time.
As I’m typing this Stephanie is trying to pick out an outfit to wear for our Wheel of Fortune audition, which is this Tuesday in Las Vegas. Yep, you heard me correctly, in about a day we’re heading back out to Las Vegas so that we can audition for Wheel of Fortune. Now as you can probably guess, Wheel of Fortune isn’t always shot out in Las Vegas — it’s shot in Los Angeles just like every other TV show. They’re shooting a couple weeks of episodes at the Venetian in July, which is why they’re auditioning in the Sin City.
Of course, we knew nothing about these auditions. A few hours before catching our flight back to San Francisco, we planned on just walking the strip a bit so that we could check out some of the new casinos, but as we were walking through the Venetian we saw a couple of signs that pointed to Wheel of Fortune auditions. We knew nothing about these auditions and had no idea when they were going on, but for some reason we decided to go check it out to see what the deal was.
Once we made it to the theater where they were signing the people in who were wanting to audition, Stephanie and I noticed that the next auditions were in about 30 minutes. I wanted to give it a shot, but since it would last about an hour or so, it would be the last thing that we could squeeze in before we had to grab our bags and head to the airport. As you probably know, we’re never really a couple who likes to pass up opportunities, so we eventually decided that we should give the audition a shot.
Along with a few hundred other people who were wanting to get the chance to get on stage we filled out these little, blue cards with some basic information about ourselves and then once they were ready for us, we all headed into the theater. Once we walked in we first heard the famous Wheel of Fortune theme song and quickly noticed that there was a small Wheel of Fortune setup on the stage complete with life-size cardboard cut-outs of Pat Sajak and Vanna White. Once the theme music stopped and the hosts (they had their own versions of Pat and Vanna) started up the game we quickly realized how they were going to format this audition.
- They had all of the blue cards in a big drum and they would pick out names in groups of five.
- The five people picked will get their picture taken, will go up on stage, will have about 30 seconds to talk to the host (personality test) and then will play one puzzle against each other (game test).
- After the five people finish with the puzzle the next five will get picked and the games will continue for an hour.
- If any of the people who get picked catch the eye of the people managing the auditions, then they will get emailed a day/time for a second, more serious audition. This is what we’re about to do on Tuesday.
After about the third or fourth group of five people, wouldn’t you know it that Stephanie got picked to go on stage and as she was leaving the stage she was told that they would be emailing us about sweethearts week, which they’ll be shooting in the Venetian as well. So, this is what we’re going to be auditioning for, which I think is pretty sweet. the only thing better than going on Wheel of Fortune is going on Wheel of Fortune with Stephanie.
Since we’ve been invited back for another audition we decided to get serious about learning all about Wheel of Fortune, so we have been watching it on TV and we also downloaded the Wheel of Fortune app for our iPad (which has helped a lot). The game isn’t too complicated, but there are definitely some things that we didn’t know, but I think that we’re pretty much up to speed on everything. We’re going to keep on practicing until Tuesday, just to make sure we’re ready to get after it.
We’ll keep you all updated and be sure to watch the video of Stephanie’s chat with the Wheel of Fortune host during her audition, which got us into the next round.
UPDATE: Here’s how our audition went!
From what I’ve heard around the Internets lately it’s now officially Spring and in celebration Stephanie and I decided to make a trek out to Muir Woods, which, unbelievably is less than 20 miles away from our crib in San Francisco. Actually, the reason that we went to Muir Woods wasn’t really because it was Spring (that just sounded like a great intro), we actually ended up going because the only thing that Stephanie loves more than walking is walking in a park.
Although we don’t get out to explore some of the amazing parks that the Bay Area has to offer as much as we probably should, this wasn’t the first time that we’ve headed out to hike among Northern California’ s amazing Redwoods. We had a lot of fun hanging out with them at Big Basin a little more than a year ago, which you can probably tell if you watch the video we created from our little excursion.
It was an amazing day to go for a hike — check out that sun!
Whenever Stephanie and I end up going hiking there are a few things that are pretty much guaranteed to happen:
1. We’re going to have a ridiculous amount of fun running around the woods together. There’s just something about us being out in nature that makes us even goofier than normal. I’m not really sure why it happens, but it always does.
2. We’re going to get an awesome workout. I think that most people tend to take their time when hiking through a place like Muir Woods, but for some reason we really like to get after it — even to the point to where we’re breaking a pretty solid sweat. It’s not like we don’t like to take in all of the sites, but I think that we both like to keep up a pace that’s faster than most. We passed at least 10-15 people while walking the trail, which I think shows just how fast we were moving along.
3. We always get lost when we go hiking, but it always seems to work out for the better every, single time. It’s sad, but true — we always get lost. I’m sure that part of this is due to #2 since we’re moving through the trails so quickly, but I think that the fact that we get lost has only helped us do even cooler stuff that first expected. For example, we somehow made our way off of the trail that we were supposed to be following, which then led us to meeting a guy who told us all about an awesome lodge called The Mountain Home Inn. We ended up walking over there to check it out and really loved the place. I even had enough cash in my pocket for a quick beer to hold me over until we made it back down the trail.
The Golden Gate Bridge on the ride home from Muir Woods
All in all our trip to Muir Woods was a lot of fun and a great way to spend some time on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. We got a great walk in, we were able to see one of the nations most beautiful National Forests and we even found a great, new place to hang — sounds like a great day to me.
Last weekend Stephanie and I headed out the Mavericks Surf Contest in Half Moon Bay with some of our friends and had an awesome time. Little did we know, however, that we were going to be paying one heck of a price for that awesome time. We were going to get a rash.
At some point during the day we (or Frank) walked through something that we weren’t supposed to and by Saturday night I was already seeing a rash starting to move it’s way up my arm. The rash on Stephanie’s neck wasn’t too far behind mine and once our rashes started, they just seemed to take over more and more of our bodies. It wasn’t pretty and it’s taken us two trips to the doctor, three types of cream and oral steroids to get our itchy situation taken care of.
Although we have both been pretty miserable this past week due to our crazy rash attacks, we also somehow found some a lot of humor in the situation. As we were moving into some more serious treatment, we both decided that we should document this hopefully rare moment in our relationship, so we did what we always do– we made a video about it.
I call the video the world’s first ‘rashup’, which is a play on words for a mashup, which have become very popular in the online video space these days. Take a look at the video and some pics that I took of our out-of-control rashes below and be sure to be careful the next time that you’re walking through a bunch of weeds. Believe me when I say that you definitely don’t want to get what we got, even if it was pretty funny.
This whole rash thing really freaked me out. And it itched…BAD.
It was looking bad and it was only spreading more and more. Not good.
A close-up of the nastiness.
I had to add like 15 minutes to my prep time just to put on Cortizone cream.
Another spot that magically appeared on my hip. Awesome.
Stephanie’s crazy neck-rash-thing. She wanted to scratch her neck off.
There are some really amazing things that can only be found out here in Northern California and one of them has to be the Mavericks Surf Contest. It’s one of the world’s most respected big wave competitions and is held every year that weather permits about 20 miles south of San Fransisco in Half Moon Bay. More specifically, the contest is held in an area that’s known as Mavericks that’s practically built to create massive size waves due to it’s unique ocean floor. Jeff Clark, a local born and raised in Half Moon Bay, was the first surfer to ever take on the once thought to-be-too-dangerous-to-surf waves that can sometimes top out at over 50 feet high.
Jeff Clark, having grown up near Half Moon Bay, learned about Maverick’s at an early age. At that time the location was deemed too dangerous to surf. He spent time watching the break, and conceived the possibility of riding Hawaii-sized waves in Northern California. One day in 1975, with the waves topping out at 10 to 12 feet (3.7 m), Clark paddled out alone to face Maverick’s. He was successful, catching a number of left-breaking waves, thereby becoming the first person to tackle Maverick’s head-on.
Well, today was the day that Mavericks came back to Half Moon Bay (due to lack of optimal weather conditions it was canceled last year) and Stephanie, our roomie Nic, Frank and myself (along with some other friends) all went to see what it was really all about. Although we weren’t able to get super-close views of the actual surfing the day was unbelievably beautiful and just being there to experience it was more than enough to guarantee that we’ll all be back there again the next time it comes around.
Here are a few pics and a video that I snapped at the event. They should give you a good idea of the popularity of Mavericks and just how beautiful Half Moon Bay is during this time of year.
A video and a pic of people who got caught in the aftermath of the 30+ foot waves that were swelling up at Mavericks this morning. Some of the people were actually swept out into the water and had to be rescued by medical staff. Some suffered broken bones and minor cuts, but most only had to suffer through being soaked for the rest of the day. We were literally just about to head into this area when the waves hit.
Can’t say that the people weren’t warned. These signs were posted everywhere on the beach.
What was left on the beach after the waves hit and cleared out a stage and several tents.
A view from a top the cliffs at the Mavericks in Half Moon Bay.
This was view from the opposite side of the beach where we were when the waves got the people wet. There were a ton of people watching the competition from over here. It was amazing to see how many people came out for the event considering that it was only announced a couple days before it happened. Also, most people weren’t at all scared of climbing all over the cliffs as long as it gave them a better view. I guess that they’re all used to hiking and aren’t too worried about falling hundreds of feet to their death, but for some reason it still worries me and Stephanie. Maybe we need to suck it up.
The sun was out in full force, which made for a beautiful day in Half Moon Bay. That weird looking tower with a ball on it in the upper right corner of this pic is part of the Pillar Point Air Force Base (which no one except press was allowed to enter today).
Frank loved hanging out at the beach, but we probably walked over 5 miles altogether, which is like running a marathon for a Pug. Here you can see him getting some much needed rest while we were checking out the surfers. He had no trouble getting up and down the cliffs and got to meet several other dogs that were also hanging out at Mavericks (including a few Pugs). People really love their dogs in the bay area, which makes is completely normal to bring them with you to outdoor events like this.
Here’s another view from the other side of the cliffs. The surfers were grabbing their waves right around the area to the right of cliff in this pic. Unless you had some binoculars or a serious camera lens (which several people had), you pretty much had to rely on people’s reactions to know whether or not someone had actually caught a wave.
This is a shot of the rest of the coastline, which I thought almost looked too beautiful to be real. If you look in the bottom right corner of this pic I snuck in a guy who was chilling on the side of the cliff. He was pretty high up there, but didn’t seem to be too worried about it. Like I said, it’s something that they’re used to.
After walking a couple of miles back to the car (part of which I carried Frank after he started panting like he was going to die) it didn’t take Frank too long to crash. He was so tired that he fell asleep on Stephanie’s 7-up bottle which was in our cup holder. I thought that this was way too funny (and cute) to pass up taking a picture of it. Frank’s just like us — he’ll go and go until he practically passes out, which he obviously did today.
It’s been about 10 years since I had been ice skating, so we felt like it was about time to give it shot. The video was taken at Pan Am Plaza in Indianapolis, IN and man, did it end being a lot of fun. Some of our friends and family came along with us, too which made it even more entertaining (as you’ll see).
Check out the video below or over here on YouTube when you get a chance and here’s to the beginning of an amazing 2010! Stephanie and I (and Frank as long as he can still fit on the plane) head back to San Francisco tomorrow, but it’s been so great to see all of our friends and family the past month while we’ve been home. We’re extremely blessed to have all of the amazing people that we have in our lives and we can’t wait to see you all again!