|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 2008||File under: travel|
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|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 2008||File under: travel|
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|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 2008||File under: travel|
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|Monday October 20 2008||File under: travel, pics|
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|I'm currently camped out in the back of a FedEx/Kinko's in Washington, D.C. for the second morning in a row, using their [reasonable priced, but not free] internet. I don't suppose that I can rightly say that I am on vacation when I've been checking in with work and logging in to fix bugs every day since I've left, but that's okay. In fact, while there is definitely a downside to it, being the optimistic guy that I am, I see a side to the working vacation that I kind of like. Let me highlight a few.
1. When I am able to work from the road, I don't need to let what's going on with work affect my travel schedule. As long as wherever I am going has an internet connection, I can always carve out a couple of hours from sightseeing or napping to do a little work.
2. It lends some structure to my day, which I generally am in need of. If I didn't have to at least check in with work, I might lounge in bed until 11:00 or keep coming up with excuses on why not to change out of my jammies and leave the house.
3. Doing even just a little bit of work in a day lets me feel like I've accomplished something and that I've earned the 2 ice cream cones that I'm bound to eat in my daily roamings.
4. Being a contractor, logging a couple of hours also means that I've earned enough money to pay for those 2 ice cream cones, so I don't need to carve away at my savings too much while traveling.
5. Daily (or almost daily) exposure to work reminds me why vacation is so important, so when I logoff, I can more fully appreciate where I am and what I am choosing to do.
6. When my co-workers/bosses/project managers know that I am taking time out of my vacation to get done what needs to get done, they really appreciate it, and feeling appreciated is a good feeling.
I imagine the novelty will wear off soon and I will start griping about having to check in with work. But luckily, the busy time at work will also start to taper off, so it'll all balance out. Then I will have to come up with another excuse to get my daily computer fix. *cough*nerd*cough*
|Friday October 17 2008||File under: work, travel|
As I mentioned in last week's Lopez Jugglefest post, I was planning on attending the Portland Juggling Festival. This past weekend, I did just that. It was, however, less juggling oriented than I thought it would be. While I did get my a fair amount of juggling in (including a great walk around pattern with drop backs that we came oh so close to running) and watched some great juggling take place, the weekend was so packed with other stuff, it would be unfair to restrict my post to just juggling.
There was also
Besides juggling and
Biking, juggling, wagering, frolfing, and hanging out with friends: not a bad way to spend a weekend. It serves as a great opening to my travel season.
|Monday September 29 2008||File under: juggling, travel|
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|Warning: Rambling anecdote follows. Proceed at your own risk.
I love riding the bus in new places. It reinforces the power of public transportation when a person unfamiliar with an area can get where they are going without resorting to taxis or calling a friend to pick them up. With the proliferation of online trip planners, finding your way around a non-familiar area is easier than ever. That said, it doesn't always go so smoothly.
Yesterday, I took the train down here to Portland. (My love affair with trains continues, despite them not showing a movie...) Andrew, being the good friend he is, offered to pick me up at the train station. "No," I said. "I'll just hop on a bus." I had done my research before hand (on trimet.org) so I had schedules and routes all documented.
I exit the train station and find my bus stop. There was someone else there, so I quickly confirmed that this is the bus I wanted. We had 20 minutes or so to kill, so we struck up a great conversation*. The bus comes and we go on our way. Trimet buses have reader boards displaying each stop as you pass it, so if you are paying attention, you won't ever miss your stop. I was paying attention.
While I don't know Portland overly well, I've spent enough time to get a general feel for it. From that general feel, I sensed the bus wasn't going in the direction I was hoping to. "Have faith," I told myself. Often buses take meandering routes to get to their destination. When everyone else had gotten off, my faith started running dry. I asked the driver and sure enough, I got on the right bus, but going the wrong way. Alas.
Armed with new directions from the driver, I get off and start trudging to the nearest bus stop. (By this point it is after 10:00). As I am walking away, the driver opens her window and yells, "I got a better idea. Get back on." It turns out that she was officially off duty and returning the bus to the garage, which was in the direction I wanted to go. So she turned on the off-duty sign, made me promise not to tell how fast she drove, and then floored it. In the course of my personal bus ride, she told me her life story, another meaningful conversation with a stranger courtesy of the bus.
I finally made it to my destination, perhaps a little later than I might have, but filled with inspiration from meeting a few good people and an ever renewed sense of appreciation for public transportation.
|Friday September 26 2008||File under: transportation, travel|
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|In celebration of 6 fabulous decades of life for our dear old ma, us chilluns organized a trip up to Salt Spring Island Canada for this past weekend. It was a bit cramped with 7 of us staying in a cabin that was built for 4 and all piling into the Subaru* to get around, but hey, if family can't invade each other's personal space then who can?
Anyway, aside from the coziness, it was a great weekend. I've been hearing about Salt Spring Island for quite some time; about its artist communities, its natural beauty, etc. etc. It didn't disappoint. We were deterred by the rain a bit, but we got a hike in, to see the farmer's market, check out the local one screen theatre*, and see the island landscape in general, where views, forrest, and farms abound.
Speaking of farms, our little cottage was on a goat farm, which proved to be good times. They gave us something to watch from the porch and someone to feed our food scraps to. Punksto esp. liked feeding them and, after initially being a bit shy, grew more and more brazen. Then the goat headbutted her. Goats are jerks. (She was scared by it but okay.)
Yeah, Salt Spring Island is pretty neat. You should check it out sometime.
|Thursday August 28 2008||File under: travel|
|I've mentioned before the qualms I have with Greyhound. While I appreciate the coverage they offer–bringing transportation to places that may have no other options–I've had enough bad experiences* to actively seek out alternatives. Until I started looking, I didn't even know they existed. "Bus travel" and "Greyound" were always synonymous in my mind. I was pleased to see that this isn't the case. On the off chance that you have some of the problems with Greyhound that I do, I thought I would share some alternatives I've come across.
These are a few alternatives I've come across in my travels. While I haven't ridden all of them, the ones that I have proved a better experience for me than GH. I don't always discount Greyhound because they occasionally have better rates or better schedules. I've found, though, that it is always nice to have options.
|Monday May 19 2008||File under: travel, transportation|
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|I took a bunch of photos on my latest little adventure. Some of the good ones made it into pertinent blog posts. Others, due to theme, quality, or time restraint, never made the cut. Well, here's their big chance! I've compiled all the good-|
There are 72 photos in the slideshow, so it might take a second or two to load up. I figure if my old laptop can handle it, your's should have no problem.
Oh, and it should be noted that not all the photos are mine. I stole–er, I mean reused a few photos from I Heart Jonahbees and Sir Maxalot, so there might be repeats for those of you that read those blogs*. I also snatched a picture or two from Sara's camera while she wasn't looking. You really gotta love the age of digital photography.
And second Oh: no fair making snide comments about how many self portraits there are. Being creative with picture taking while traveling is hard.
|Tuesday May 6 2008||File under: travel, pics|
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