Saturday, November 03, 2007

Road trippin'

The Road Trip-- is it really all it's cracked up to be?

Along time ago, my friend Michelle had a road tripping dream... to rent a minibus and drive around the country, dropping off all of her friends at college one by one. She had the right idea, but it never worked-- classes start on different days, parents are barely able to tear themselves away from the first dorm room, etc. But the most important factor - a bus of some sort - we didn't have.

I don't think I realized how important the bus/rv/camper mobile really is until driving from McLean, Virginia to Denver, Colorado a couple months ago. For one thing, my boyfriend and I had plenty of time since we didn't have jobs tightening our schedules. Unfortunately, since we had an suv instead of a mini camper, we couldn't just shack up in our car. We were fortunate enough to be able to stay with family in Indianapolis, which was a great time! But, when Missouri and Kansas rolled around, what could we do?

If we stopped to check out any sights along the way, we'd lose time, forcing us to pay for another hotel room. And since we're on the cheap side at the moment, this wasn't an option. So if you don't have somewhere to stay and don't want to pay for a hotel, you end up driving .... driving..... driving through hundreds of miles of yellow fields. Hopefully you have an iPod blue tooth or still use CD's, because there certainly isn't any radio for a long while. Perhaps we can try it again with our new tent. Then I'm sure there will be some interesting historical or cultural sights to see along the way, right?


Monday, October 22, 2007

Some final skin-bearing days

Ok, so it snowed in Denver yesterday. Not exactly bathing suit weather, but for you East Coasters with your 80 degree weather, let's take a look at some river activities.

I love rivers. Probably because you don't get sticky from salt and there are no sharks. I suppose in some areas you'd come across alligators or piranhas or crocodiles, but in that case, you're on your own for activities. But, if you live somewhere where the water is wild and you probably won't get eaten alive, then try some river activities!

Here are a few of the activities I've either enjoyed myself or at least researched in the past few years...

River tubing - The most relaxing of the bunch, this is a fine way to spend a lazy Saturday with friends. Along the Virginia/North Carolina border, Dan River tubing is a trip that can take up to three hours, depending on the height of the river. Make sure to pack a cooler, rent an extra smaller tube, plop the cooler in it and tie it all up to your own floatation device. Just beware, whoever in your group is physically attached to the cooler should have a pretty high tolerance.

White Water Rafting - Another exciting group activity, this can be done by novices on an office retreat, or regulars who just love a water rodeo. No matter how many times you've gone, it's always exciting to see who will fall into the raft, and who might fall out. Just make sure to wear helmets and life jackets and go feet-first downriver if you're thrown. The James River in Richmond, VA is one of the few cities in the world which offers natural white water rapids in the city. Unfortunately, it looks like the City of Richmond Department of Parks, Recreation, & Community Facilities has ceased private rafting companies' operations in the area. Check into this more if you're local.

Kayaking - This is a more independent sport, one in which you can battle your previous ability to get through pounding rapids time and time again. I recommend taking at least one or two roll clinics in a pool or other still water recreation area, so you know what to do if you overturn-- holding your breath underwater hoping to avoid craggy rocks isn't exactly the relaxing atmosphere that might allow you to think of an escape plan without at least some practice. And make sure to go with a buddy if you're a beginner.

And my favorite of all...

River Boarding or Surfing - Ok, I've never actually surfed a river since I can't surf for the life of me. But I have gone down on a boogie board! Make sure you have a helmet, life jacket, and flippers for boarding, and I assume the same minus the flippers if you take an actual surf board. Basically, some river rapids are also surfable standing waves. I went in New Zealand on the mighty Kawarau River with Serious Fun River Surfing company. Literally one of the best days of my life.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Vacation time... over

Ok, so it's been a sore while since I've updated this page. I'm just going to call it my "summer break" and settle it at that. But, since I just went camping last weekend and woke up to inches of snow around the tent, summer is definitely over.

Important updates:
- I've moved from New York! The city had so many things to offer and was such an exciting adventure, but I just got to the point where I couldn't take it anymore. No more big city stress, no more crossing streets in the path of screeching fire engines, no more climing 6 flights of stairs to enter my crappy apartment, and no more subway stench... I've traded it all in for driving, a beautiful duplex rental, friendly neighbors and shop clerks, and mountains! I've relocated to Denver :-)

So, I have plenty of things to update about. Let's start back in July, on a little diddy down in Richmond, Virginia. I actually traveled to the state capital for the wedding of my former roommate(s). But it was also a great chance to check out my home state's capital, one that'd I'd only visited a handful of times before. As a budget traveler, one of my favorite parts was scoring a room in the Sheraton Richmond West Hotel for only $43 on Priceline! This is also perfectly located by Highway 64.

Other than the adorable slow-town backyard wedding, of course, my favorite part of Richmond was meticulous Monument Avenue, which runs straight through downtown Richmond. This beautifully planned street presents a statue in each traffic circle-- mainly Confederate memorials, mind you, but hey, all history should be remembered. Interestingly enough, a sculpture of Arthur Ashe also decorates the avenue. Magnificent trees shade the street's mansions, while the bronze statues glisten in the southern sun. This beautiful street is definitely worth a drive, wherever you may hail from.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007


One of the best parts of New York City is the plethora of family-run or similar delis, restaurants, and boutiques. Each neighborhood is defined by its own set of ventures—and pretty much all of them have their benefits (except for maybe Times Square area. No mom and pop shops there.)

In my own neighborhood of the Upper West Side, one of my favorite spots is Celeste, where the constantly evolving cheese plate is to-die-for. The charismatic Roman owner explains his own fresh Italian dairy at the speed of lightning in his thick accent—on average I catch about an 1/8th of what he says and probably 1/10th of his jokes. But it doesn’t matter while I’m tasting anything that delicious.

Land, my favorite Thai place in the UWS, is trendy but welcoming. It’s a tiny spot that feels bigger once you’ve slid into your table because of all the mirrors and lighting. Wok basil with beef and their chicken curry puff appetizer are constant staples—but I’ve never had anything bad from here. Be careful – 3 Stars means you’re going to be crying from the spice!

This all comes to the forefront because of a recent visit to Cookeville, TN – land of commercial outposts and chain restaurants. My time in Tennessee was a fun Southern escape, but sometimes that’s just what you need to see how much you have right at your doorstep.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Just proving my point...

Just on a whim, I found this website. I didn't want to complain specifically about New York's horrible air traffic problems per se, but seriously people.

Taken directly from

AIRPORT STATUS INFORMATIONprovided by the FAA's Air Traffic Control System Command Center
George Bush Intercontinental/Houston Airport (IAH) Real-time Status
The status information provided on this site indicates general airport conditions; it is not flight-specific. Check with your airline to determine if your flight is affected.
Delays by Destination:
Due to WEATHER/TSTMS ENRTE, departure traffic destined to Newark International Airport, Newark, NJ (EWR) is currently experiencing delays averaging 3 hours and 10 minutes.

Due to WEATHER/TSTMS, departure traffic destined to John F Kennedy International Airport, New York, NY (JFK) is currently experiencing delays averaging 2 hours and 53 minutes.

Due to WEATHER/TSTMS, departure traffic destined to La Guardia Airport, New York, NY (LGA) is currently experiencing delays averaging 2 hours and 43 minutes.

Due to WEATHER/ENROUTE TSTMS, departure traffic destined to Chicago OHare International Airport, Chicago, IL (ORD) is currently experiencing delays averaging 1 hour and 35 minutes.

General Departure Delays: Traffic is experiencing gate hold and taxi delays lasting 15 minutes or less.
General Arrival Delays: Arrival traffic is experiencing airborne delays of 15 minutes or less.
This information was last updated: Jul 11, 2007 at 1:45 AM GMT+00:00

My reaction? New York needs to get it's act in gear!

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Flight Problems

Who here has slept in an airport? Me! me! I'll admit, my "first time" was a result of poor planning... flying into Christ Church, New Zealand with no prior lodging bookings on the final afternoon of the Speights Coast to Coast triathalon.

However, my last opportunity to cuddle-up against an aging rough carpet and strips of chairs with stationary armrests was certainly not my own doing. As a keen airplane passenger, I always make sure to have at least 45 min. in between connecting flights at an absolute minimum. An hour and a half is perfect. When booking my most recent Las Vegas excursion (I keep talking about it, but I've really only been there twice in the past few months), I flew through Houston. Little did I know that my 1.5 hr layover would turn into a 7 hr overnight one, with no reimbursement or gifts from my airline!

Picture this: I board my flight 30 min. after the expected departure time, along with a schoolgroup of about 40 8th graders. Lucky me got to sit in front, behind, and next to them. Then we proceed to sit on the runway for 3.5 hours... without AC so that we can conserve fuel, avoiding a return to the gate. 3.5 hours in a plane with 40 eighth graders, people!

Eventually we do actually leave La Guardia, arriving in Houston at 12:15am, 3 hours after anticipated arrival, and well after any remaining departures from IAH. What's a girl gonna do when Continental Airlines informs me and about 15 others that because the problem was "Air Traffic Control" and not the airline, there will be no vouchers of any kind! Of course, she's going to find her next gate, rest her head on her purse, and try to drift in and out in a vacant airport terminal. I would have much rather been hitting the clubs in Sin City.

Check out what Wikipedia has to say about Air Traffic "Ground Control." It sucks, but what are you gonna do?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Key Vegas Moments

My one and only gambling moment-- scored me a free drink!

Beautiful Caesar's Palace at night.

Obligatory Vegas Elvis... or is that two of them?!?

The Mirage Volcano Explosion!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Vegas vs. Vegas

This year I had the pleasure of not only taking my first jaunt to Sin City, but actually visiting the gambling capital twice in 3 months. No, I do not have a bad habit-- I just have wild friends! My first visit was a big 3-0 birthday celebration for one of the girls I lived with in Sydney. My most recent escapade was a college friend's last hurrah! -- her bachelorette party weekend.

It's definitely interest to compare the different experiences you can have for the price you want to pay. Here is a little chart:

Those are the big trip differences— luckily my friend and I were savvy enough to sneak into The Mirage luscious waterfall pool when we stayed at the Imperial in March. All three hotels are on the same portion of the strip, along with Harrah’s, The Flamingo, and the Bellagio.

So, really, for all other activities (gambling, shopping, going to nightclubs…) the most important difference is if you can be bothered to walk across the street in sky-high patent platforms.

Although, if you stay on the Harrah’s/Imperial side, be prepared to hear & feel the vibrations from going-nowhere rock bands and party-scene DJ’s well through 3am.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Salt Water Taffy

Here's another fun thing about East Coast beaches: the endless bright lights and flashy boardwalk amusements! Sure, everyone loves going to a calm beach town where there's nobody around but you, some sand crabs, and the waves. But developed beach fronts can be fun too. Otherwise, how would you ever be able to fulfill those salt water taffy cravings, or buy inappropriate t-shirts for $5?

Ocean City's strip is fun since you can either take or leave the commercialized area. The beach town is host to tiny crab shacks where you can relax with your mallet and hammer, or mind-boggling money traps like "Candy Kitchen." Personally, I like a little of both.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Beach Party Madness

This place is crazy. In fact, it's basically another world, one that holds up to 4,000 people. It reminds me of the sickeningly sweet dessert concoctions I make some nights to make up for the fact that I was deprived of sugar as a child. (Think: cookie dough & peanut butter melted together, plus ice cream, whipped cream, and chocolate syrup. Love.) However, this place isn't a "dessert bowl," it's a "spring break lifestyle bowl."

Ocean City, Maryland's Seacrets is a fantastic trip back in time to the world of spring break. You can pull up a stool to a cocktail table that is set a foot into the bay, rock out to reggae bands jamming on the beach stage, lay out with your drink on an inner tube in the water, get down on one of the nightclub dance floors, or eat dinner under tiki torches-- be careful, though, you're probably being broadcast live on a movie screen somewhere else within the grounds!

The best part is that when you finally go home after a night of debauchery, you're not on spring break. That means you can go home, brush your teeth, go to sleep in an actual bed, and wake up for the 9am sun.


- Even though you're at the beach, this place has a strict dress code!

- Don't wear heels (flip flops are allowed), since you'll be trudging across sand throughout the club.

- Don't go on the private dock if you've been drinking exorbitant amounts.

- Do dance! Reggae is meant for beach parties!

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