Tag Archive | travel

Memorial Day Biking

This weekend, people take time to reflect on what Memorial day means to them. Or they sit by a pool, or maybe plunge their hands into dirt and plants. This weekend we did a bike trip. Like any outdoor activity, it’s a bit dodgy because you never know who the weather will turn out. This year was great for the northeast. WP_20140525_001
It was a great ride, from Washington Crossing PA to a town called Upper Black Eddy on the Delaware, about 30 miles north. Our plan was to bike up to the Inn, rest up a bit and then look around a bit. The weather was beautiful. We didn’t bank on hitting what seemed like a few thousand miles of gravel and a fairly untamed towpath. That put the brakes on, literally. The trip took much longer and was more grueling than I would have preferred. I don’t really like gruel or grueling things so the gravel was a bit of a nuisance. The views were still amazing, even through sweat smeared glasses.

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We finally arrived at the Inn, a wonderful historic place on the edge of town called the Indian Rock Inn. It was going on five o’clock and we were sweaty, hungry and tired. More than tired I think. WP_20140526_004
After stumbling in, mumbling my name and receiving a real actual key which opened the door. We took showers, had a nice dinner which probably was not appreciated, and were asleep by 9.30.
The next day after a good breakfast and about 11 hours of sleep we were ready to head back. Oh, and don’t forget the Motrin. That was a key ingredient at both dinner and breakfast.
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The trip back, thanks to some good planning and riding mostly on the much better maintained NJ side, went quickly. In no time, After lots of sweating and huffing and puffing, I was back in my own house on my couch with my kitties.
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I wonder sometimes what possesses me to do these things, when I could be sitting in my swinging bench under my pear tree with a book. I guess we all have to have a bit of insanity in our decision making.

Happy Anniversary

I just got a notification on my blog that it was my one year anniversary. Well, this is cause for a celebration. I can hardly believe it’s been on year. I can’t say I’ve written as much as I would have liked, or finished my novel (it’s sooo close). But then that’s part of the fun of life, it never goes how you plan.

Rehashing the year that has passed, I can say it was hardly uneventful. It’s been fun and tiring and filled with tons of memories. Vacationing in Florida with my daughters and mother was a huge high point. Visiting the Grand Canyon last spring for the second time was also a bright memory. Sense the trend? I love to travel. But also, leaving one job and starting another was a part of that year, as well as the usual rough patches and those golden days when you can relax and let yourself be a kid again. Like playing in the snow (for the first 15 minutes, before the realization that it’s cold really kicks in), and hide and seek with the kids. Those were all highlights that are popping into my head as I type. The best part of the one year anniversary is, I have so many plans for the next year. I can’t wait to share them either.

And now to celebrate, I think I’ll go get myself a cappuccino smoothie.

Lots of trains

Growing up near Trenton, NJ; everyone knew that when you said you were going to the burg, it was the Italian neighborhood in Trenton.  Home of the best bakery in the world, and one of my best friend’s family.  So when I had the opportunity to visit another burg, or ‘Burgh, as they say, I though that would be cool.  I mean, who doesn’t want to go to Pittsburgh in December? 

We started out planning a train trip there.  We could catch the train from Philly and be there within 7 hours.  Not bad!  It turned out that the fates were against us from the start.  First was a major traffic jam, making us pretty late, and a visit to the mechanic.  Naturally, since it was the only train to Pittsburgh all day, we missed it.  We were still not quite out of luck.  There was a train leaving for Washington DC about 10 minutes after we arrived at the station, so we jumped aboard and breathed a sigh of relief.  Washington DC had the good fortune to have a train leaving later that day and would stop in Pittsburg on its way to Chicago.  We wouldn’t arrive until midnight, but that was ok because I viewed the train ride as part of the whole experience.   The train going to Chicago was a massive double-decker with cabins and a dining car.  Much grander than the other one which was just a normal but comfy train with no cloth tablecloths and only plastic utensils in the cafe.  It was a great experience to ride, and the trip was a bit surreal as we kept slipping in and out of naps.  Even after a full night sleep, I can’t stay awake on a train.

Pittsburg turned out to be a pretty little city, although I would love to visit in the summer, or spring and really enjoy the outdoors.  We visited a few museums and walked around, thankful for the 60 degree weather.  Even the rain didn’t dampen our spirits. 

The ride back was as uneventful as we could have hoped for.  We had no traffic jams since we walked to the station, no missing of trains (which is great because there would have been no second chance) and no cloth table cloths.  I did eavesdrop on a very interesting conversation between two gentlemen who apparently had both lived in the same area and both also lived in California.  I dozed and listened to the difficulties of moving, bad jobs, and bad relationships from the two men. 

All in all it was a really great trip, and I am very happy that we missed our train because now I am eager to go back and maybe on to Chicago as well.

My car is a prime example of emergency preparedness

I was chatting with my mother the other day and mentioned that I was having a hard time coming up with subjects to write about.  Having just driven my car to the service station, she immediately suggested that I make a list of everything that could be found in the back seat of my car.  This is probably a pretty lengthy list.  Keeping in mind that I spend two hours a day in the car during the week, and have two children, I really don’t think it’s unreasonably messy.  In fact, I am sure that there are many things which would help out in an emergency. 

Most people have the foresight to include a flashlight, perhaps an emergency kit, and usually jumper cables in their car.  This is very sensible and I have all of these, plus a blanket and extra sweater in the trunk just in case.  However, there are other things you might need if you broke down, or just had to endure a very long car trip with squabbling kids in the back.  Up until two weeks ago I had a few board games.  Not those handy little travel games either.  I had the full size versions of them.  Imagine you are stuck in the middle of the pine barrens, naturally you want to keep your kids and yourself entertained until the tow truck comes.  What’s better than settling down to a game of Clue while you wait.  Nothing takes kid’s minds off of their troubles like a board game.  As long as it isn’t too long or they may start using the game pieces as baseballs.  Also it is always good to have a few odd socks in the backseat.  Not only would they be handy in cases of extremely cold feet, but as gloves in a pinch.  Extra shoes are also useful, even if they are a bit tight, they come in handy.  Another thing to include in your car survival kit are books, some paper, and crayons, also markers.  Although be sure to use washable markers, unless your car is in need of some decoration.  It’s a good idea to have food, in case someone gets hungry along the journey.  Those half empty water bottles on the floor look really good after an hour with no air conditioning.  Any amount of crumbs and squashed packets of Goldfish can be found by an enterprising child.  Unfortunately for the extra hungry passenger in my car, I did throw away the stale crusts of peanut butter toast that my youngest flung on the floor one mad tempered morning.  Last but certainly not least, it’s a good idea to have a quantity of hair bands in the car for those fashion emergencies.  After all nothing says fashion faux pas like wind-blown hair.

After rereading the list of back seat treasures.  I am more convinced than ever that my car is a heaven for any seasoned traveller.

I am now considered by some to be “one of those outdoorsy types”?

This assumption that I am an outdoorsy type of person started on a recent trip to Las Vegas. (the un-outdoorsy capital of the world)  It’s actually the third time I have made that trip.  On the second trip, my boyfriend and I booked a tour to the Grand Canyon and promptly fell in love with it, despite the 5 hour bus trip (each way) and the limited time we had to stroll along the south rim of the canyon.  We made a vow to return, and we did, just less than a year and a half later.  This time in early spring, when it wouldn’t be quite so hot.  We decided to rent a car so we could do some exploring on our own.  That was quite fun, although we put about 500 miles on the rental in the four days we were there.  Not exactly environmentally responsible, I know.  But the car did have good mileage.  We drove out to Arizona from Las Vegas, foolishly believing the tour company with whom we booked our helicopter ride.  They said it was best to drive to Arizona and then to the west rim of the canyon.  Apparently the tour company failed to provide road maps to their employees.  It was twice as long.  However, it was fun to drive, the desert has that stark beauty and the mountains are just incredible.  To be able to see them all around the car while driving took my breath away.  We stayed in a hotel at the edge of the Indian reservation and promptly fell asleep as soon as we unloaded the car.  The next morning, being completely turned around by the time zone changes, we woke early and drove another 2 and a half hours to the canyon for our helicopter ride.  This was beyond description.  I was fortunate enough to sit in the front seat of the helicopter and had a panoramic view of the canyon and the Colorado River.  I took video and photos but they don’t do it justice at all of course.  After this, we got to ride a boat on the Colorado River for a bit.  That was relaxing.  The views of the canyon walls rising up on either side with their red and brown ancient rock was amazing as well.  After the helicopter ride back up, we clambered around on a few well-chosen touristy sites and took pictures of ourselves dangling off rocks and such.  The next day was spent at the Hoover Dam.  Not quite as spectacular, but  jokes about the ‘Dam tour’ are always amusing.  After that we explored some other hiking areas.  We still enjoyed several indoors activities, the ones Vegas is famous for like shows and dinners and casinos with overpriced shops.  In a casual conversation with the concierge of our hotel, the matter of our travel plans came up.  After hearing what we had done and were still planning, she nodded solemnly, smiled and said “Oh, you guys are outdoorsy people.”  Well, I wouldn’t consider myself so, but it’s all relative isn’t it?