Category Archives: TRAVEL

Galapagos Part 1-36

I spent 10 days in Ecuador this past June and got to take some amazing photos of wildlife in the Galapagos.  For nature lovers, the Galapagos is truly a must see.  It is the only place I  know of in the world where  wildlife has so little regard or concern for humans being in their presence.  If there are other places like this – PLEASE let me know!

I will post my full itinerary of my 8 day trip on the boat Archipell I soon but here are a few photos of diurnal (aka not nocturnal) owls feeding.

 

Galapagos Part 1-37Galapagos Part 1-35Galapagos Part 1-33

 

 

 

 

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I went to the Sea Otter Classic yesterday, using our military discount (two for one tickets) and hung out there for the afternoon. It’s a 4 day festival and expo for bike enthusiasts. The annual event brings in cyclists from all over the world and is held at the Laguna Seca Recreation Area. If you are even slightly interested in cycling, it’s a nice chance to watch some interesting events. We caught two mountain biking events – the “dual slalom” and “speed and style”. Both were fun to watch and easy to view as they allow spectators to watch up close. We  didn’t find it too crowded either!

It’s a family friendly event, I saw plenty of people bring their kids.  However, it is quite dusty so I recommend wearing sneakers.  The weather was perfect – sunny and not humid (typical for Monterey).  Don’t forget sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat if you want to avoid getting burned.

Here’s what the expo looks like.

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Some action shots from the “Speed & Style” mountain biking event.20130421-155259.jpg

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The “Dual Slalom” course.20130421-155314.jpg

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20130421-155326.jpgAll in all, I thought it was a great way to spend an afternoon.  I’ll probably go again next year and perhaps even bring my bike to check out the open mountain biking courses.


20130408-151603.jpgI describe myself as a “traveler” so I think it’s time for me to start delving into that.

After getting delayed on a flight, missing my connecting flight and then being forced to wait 7 hours at SFO airport for the next one, I found my way to the USO Lounge.  It’s not luxurious like many of the ‘elitist’ airline lounges but it is a nice respite from sitting at a gate. To sum it up, I spent close to 5 hours chilling out on one of their leather recliners, using their reliable WIFI and snacking on the food. I even grabbed a few magazines to bring with me on the flight – one of which is the April 2013 copy of the Conde Nast Traveler.

Conde Naste is not a magazine I normally pick up (though I’m not sure why). This edition features a Grand Tour of Asia in 45 day through 12 countries. 12 countries that I would love to either visit or revisit. However, I can’t see myself going on a whirlwind adventure like that. These days, I find myself tapped out after spending 2 weeks away from home – must be part of the aging process!

I’ve seen the bulk of Europe thanks to my college study abroad experience in London. Living there enabled me to opportunistically take weekend trips that allowed me to see the continent the way I wanted to. Many college students backpack through Europe and I did a shortened version of that during my month long spring break but I realize it’s just too much to take in. I call it sensory overload. How can one truly appreciate the significance of another world-class museum, medieval church, or historic site after having just seen one a day or two ago in another city? Perhaps it’s different for everyone – different people experience culture and travel in different ways. That leads me to wonder what your style of travel is like?  Have you ever gone backpacking and was it enjoyable to city hop?


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I am back in NY for a few days to see the family and take care of a few things and ended up stopping by Doughnut Plant. Plant….not Planet. I’ve been referencing it wrong for at least a year when I finally got ‘learned’!

I don’t have a sweet tooth, not a bad one anyway, but if there is one form of sweetie goodness that I am a sucker for, it’s Doughnut Plant’s coconut cream donut. I got there too late the other day and they were sold out on my favorite so I settled on trying their other yeast donuts – creme brûlée, orange blossom cream, Meyer Lemon, PB and butter cream. The creme brûlée and orange blossom were both winners, though not as awesome as my coconut cream.

I tried a popular donut spot in San Jose and it didn’t even come close. It’s probably a good thing there isn’t a Doughnut Plant location near me. It’d do some serious damage to my currently out of shape self.

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1. love your wedding coordinator – make sure he or she is on the same wavelength as you. if you’re laid back and casual, that’s great and you’re unlikely to have issues with whomever you choose. BUT if you’re someone who checks email 20x a day and need to be efficient, then you want to make sure your wedding coordinator is going to be the type that doesn’t wait a week to get back to your emails.

2. choose a destination that’s manageable to travel to – making your friends & family fly out to your wedding is difficult enough so try to be considerate about the destination you choose. if at all possible, limit the number of transfers that is necessary (direct flights are always appreciated).

3. buffer in extra timing into you wedding schedule – all my wedding guests showed up half an hour late to my wedding. why? because the shuttle bus driver got lost and couldn’t find the venue. luckily, i had enough time buffered into the schedule and things didn’t get pushed back. i think this is applicable to all weddings as i’ve seen so many couples having to cut their photography session short because something ran behind schedule. it’s almost inevitable with so much going on that day.

4. love your photographer. what’s the point of picking a picture beautiful destination without having great pictures to capture the moment? it’s really true what they say – the only thing you’ll be left with after it’s all said and done are the pictures. look thru as many photos as possible when choosing a photographer and don’t be afraid to ask for examples of a full wedding shot from beginning to end. if you’re not totally blown away by their work on the website, that’s a red flag. what they post up ought to be their best work.

5. accommodation options – make sure you have at least two, preferably three, hotel options for your guests. for the higher end accommodations, make arrangements for room blocks for your guests.

 


Hiking Fox Glacier was one of the highlights of my trip. I am a fan of hiking in general but being able to do so on a glacier wearing crampons (the metal spikes that you strap onto your boots for traction on the ice) just made it that much more awesome! I want to giggle every time I say the word crampon because it rhymes with that other word – TAMPON. Ok, I know that’s immature and very juvenile of me. Anyways, back to glacial hiking. I learned a great deal of geology and the movement of glaciers and personally found it fascinating. You really get a whole new sense of appreciation for the power of nature.


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Inside Fox Glacier.
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Fox Glacier terminal face.

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Lagging behind the group here.

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Artwork by a local artist in Hokitika using rocks taken from the beach. We picked up a larger piece of rock art that’s now hanging out in my living room.

AAA-23The road thru Arther’s Pass, you can opt to take the TranzAlpine train also.


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Just one of the many photo ops throughout our scenic drive.

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Canyoning in Wanaka is part hiking, part rapeling, part zip lining, part scrambling, part cliff diving and part sliding.  It’s very wet and can get cold, especially during the early part of the season when there is higher water flow.  We lucked out with great weather.

canyon-1Sharing a honeymoon moment in the canyon.

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Take the Skyline gondola up for this spectacular view of Queenstown and don’t forget to do the luge.

luge-1It’s a lot more fun than it looks and trust me, you’ll want to do it more than once, especially since there are two tracks, an easier one and harder one. Yipeeeee…..

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Another shot of Queenstown from above the luge tracks.

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Glacial waters underfoot.  The aqua color of the streams and lakes created by glacial water melt are unlike anything anything I’ve ever seen.


AAA-15I don’t think I can ever get tired of looking at snowcapped mountains.

AAA-13or these adorable lambs.



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