A 3-Hour Tour...

My usual travel style may well be described as directed wandering. I usually know more or less were I'm headed and more or less how. Yesterday, however, there was no "more or less" about it.

The guided personal tour is an experience I've tended to shy away from. I didn't know what I was missing. Yesterday, a local by the name of Keith took us on a half-day tour of the interior of the island. It was 3 hours of non-stop information; plant names and uses, local critters, historical tidbits (the 1983 US shenanagins, 2004 hurricaine desctruction, etc.), demographics info, import/exports, and the answer to any question we could ask. Besides all the info, we got to see spots a public bus couldn't take us*. Yes, a guided personal tour has its place every now and again. And if you ever take one in Grenada, ask for Keith!
Sunday December 21 2008File under: travel, grenada

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Boat Life

Boat life, from the brief experiences I've had with it in the South Pacific, on Lake Union, and now here in the Caribbean, suits me. And it seems the more I learn, the more I like it.

My accomodations here in Grenada are aboard SV Starshine, a 37-foot cutter anchored in Prickley Bay. Notice I said anchored, not docked. That means:
a) No shore power. All power aboard is from the solar panels, wind generator, or, when the need arises, a small generator*.
b) No shore water. Water comes from rain water catchment, or a water maker when needed*. A daily swim off the bow does away with the need for showers, at least for me.
c) Dingy in dingy out. No popping down to the corner store for an after dinner ice cream.

Aside from the ins and outs of being anchored, other new boat stuff presents itself everyday. From the morning dispatch via VHF radio ("the Net") to the close knit community among the cruisers, I dig it all.

(The warm weather and wonderful company doesn't hurt either.)
Thursday December 18 2008File under: travel, Grenada

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Carribbean Todo Checklist



First 24 Hours of a Caribbean Vacataion Checklist:
1. Swim in warm warm water.
2. Take a bunch of pictures.
3. Get a little sunburned.
4. Buy tacky touristy crap.
5. Complain about the heat.
6. Realize that you don't have any right to complain about anything really, because you are in the freaking Carribean for gosh sakes.
7. Drink parisol-ed drink.
8. Make blog post about first 24 hours in Caribbean in an attempt to make friends at home jealous.

Six out of eight, not too shabby.
Monday December 15 2008File under: travel, Grenada

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D.C. Jump


[on a brief layover in DC, I stopped in to check out the new Capitol Visitor Center]

Friday December 12 2008File under: travel, misc

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My New Favorite Memorial

My main activity while traveling, at least when I'm traveling alone, is walking, in most cases with no particular destination in mind. This was the case the other day when I had some time to kill in New York City. The weather was blustery but I wasn't to be deterred. I took the subway into Manhattan and headed south. (I've pretty much explored midtown and the Central Park area in previous visits.)

I walked and walked, seeing things that I had heard so much about: NYU, "SoHo", "Artists' Lofts", etc. I was shooting* to get to the shore of the island to see what I could see. My feet took me to Hudson River Park(?) where I got a view of the Statue of Liberty* and New Jersey*. When it was time to start heading back, I stumbled upon what is now my favorite memorial ever: the Irish Hunger Memorial. It is like a little bit of the country right in downtown New York, with some of the greatest stone walls ever. The serendipitous find reaffirmed in my believe in semi-unguided travel.
Saturday November 1 2008File under: travel

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Broadway Baby Broadway

Last time I was through NYC, everything fell into place–weather, meeting with friends (, meeting with strangers), etc.–everything that is except one thing: seeing a Broadway show. This time, while the weather has been against me and tracking people down for getting together has panned out less smoothly* (not to mention no fun strangers -> friends), I did make it to a Broadway show.

Avenue Q is hilarious romp, once described as Sesame Street meets South Park. A combination human/puppet cast lends the musical a playful feel. And although the set, costumes, production wasn't as spectacular as I had imagined*, the experience was extremely fun. While I wouldn't consider myself a great fan of musicals, the songs in this one were funny enough, tongue-in-cheek enough to make it really fun. (In fact, do yourself a favor: go search google for "Avenue Q The Internet is Really Really Great" and watch a video that ensues.)

Yep, a Broadway show: another thing checked off my life list.
Wednesday October 29 2008File under: travel, misc

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Boardwalking

Boardwalks are awesome. This is my conclusion after visiting two of them this weekend. The first was in Ocean City, MD which was all but deserted when we tromped its 1.7 miles past block after block of shuttered up t-shirt shops and ice cream parlors*. We had to use our imaginations to picture it in all its glory filled to the brim with sun-burnt tourists, but I could imagine it is quite a scene during the summer. The second boardwalk is possibly the most famous boardwalk of all times: Atlantic City (as seen in the pictures*.) Similar to Ocean City in it being a pedestrian only thoroughfare with the beach on one side and shops, etc. on the other, but different. People were everywhere on this boardwalk, even so late in the season. Lots of old folks out walking and sitting on the benches. Casino architecture to entertain the eye. Beautiful dunes between the walk and the beach. Both are great places to people watch, walk off an ice cream or two, and be part of the goings-on of a town.

The concept of designating a place for people to walk around semi-aimlessly, interact, shop, eat, and pass time is the reason I am so enthralled with boardwalks. The pedestrian advocate in me (both as a means of exercise and of transportation) loves to see people out walking. The lazy bum in me loves to see benches for just lazing about in the sun and watching the world pass by. If it weren't for all the shops selling totally useless crap*, I would be *all* about boardwalks. As it is, I still think they are neat.
Tuesday October 28 2008File under: travel

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Embassy Row

If you ever have some time to kill in D.C. after having done all the much touted stuff* (or even before that), I would highly recommend looking into taking a nice walk [up/down] Embassy Row, essentially Massachusetts Avenue between Dupont Circle and Sheriden Circle. In the few days that I've been in D.C., I've gone out of my way multiple times to pass that way and am so glad that I've done so each time.

Seeing the beautiful buildings and their accompanying plaques announcing which country's embassy it is sets my mind going. I find it so interesting to compare the personality of the place (size, ornamentation, security, vehicles*, etc.) with what I know about the country. I wonder about what kind of business goes on in the building*. I wonder about the finances. Those buildings can't be cheap and a lot of those countries aren't known for their overflowing national coffers. I wonder if the people insider are from that country and what they think of the US. I wonder what would happen if I went trick-or-treating there on Halloween. I wonder if I will ever visit the particular country represented by this embassy. I wonder about all the unoccupied (sometimes obviously recently or hastily) buildings and what the story behind that is. I wonder a lot.

Even if you don't wonder or care about any of these things, it is still worth the walk. The rich architecture combined with the international flair is something that is miles away from most people's everyday experience. And that's what travel is all about, right?

Saturday October 25 2008File under: travel

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One Long Escalator

Generally, I'm not a fan of escalators. IMO, most times, they are merely an excuse for lazy people not to have to walk stairs. (The exceptions, of course, are accessibility, carrying stuff, incredible traffic volume, extreme distances, etc.) While seeing people indulge their laziness doesn't usually upset me*, seeing them do so at the expense of the environment does. (For a semi-rant, semi-informational article on the topic of energy consumption of escalators, click here).

But that's not what this post is about. It is about the freaking huge long escalators they have here in D.C. to get down into the metro and how awesome they are. When I visited D.C. in 8th grade, that is one of the few things that stuck with me: how long the escalators were. 15 years hasn't done anything to diminish the impressiveness. (As a side note, it is kind of fun to make the comparison between my impressions of this place then and now: the monuments, the museums, etc. I can for sure tell you that I feel like I am in a much better place to appreciate it all now*. The comparison continues tonite with a night tour of the monuments!)

Anyhoo, I took this shot coming out of the Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan Metro station coming back from having dinner out in Bethesda. It may not be the longest ever, but it sure seemed like it. (Wikipedia's Escalator Superlatives is kind of a fun read.)
Wednesday October 22 2008File under: travel

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Leaf Peeping in Shenandoah National Park

I got the chance to escape the city for the weekend for a visit to Shenandoah National Park, just hours outside of D.C. The park was packed with fellow leaf peepers*. We camped, roasted hot dogs, corn, and sneakers over an open fire, hiked, peeped, and just enjoyed the beauty of the famous Shenandoah National Park. They don't make autumn scenes like this back in the Pacific Northwest.

Monday October 20 2008File under: travel, pics

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