This is my third day in Bali, and I'm not sure I want to ever leave. It's 85 degrees, there's a pool in our private villa, and they bring us breakfast with fresh watermelon juice every morning. I could get used to this!
This is my first trip to Asia, and my first trip that's taken me below the equator. Not gonna lie, I'm more than a little excited that the water goes the opposite way down the drain. Does not take much to amuse me. I've taken some great pics and videos that I will post once I get back to the states. Internet connection here is not quite conducive to uploading large files. Early next week, however, I'll post some new stuff.
Here I am in Napa. It's my first trip out here, and I'm already enthralled. I can see why so many people love this area. The mountains surround the valley, the tips covered in fog and vineyards are scattered across the valley floor. Even now, in the off-season, it's beautiful.
We're staying at the Silverado Resort, a collection of privately owned properties each with a unique feel. The main resort is called the Mansion, and is rather striking.
Today we did a couple of wine tours. Peju- a lovely little winery with an excellent selection. I have to say I did not try a single wine here I didn't like. Then on to Merryvale, with beautiful cask-lined rooms and event space. The brandy-infused dessert wine here was delish.
I have to say the GPS would be great for marking your wine trail, since you tend to forget after a few glasses ;). You can take a look at just a few of the pics below and see where they were taken here: Napa Album
Unfortunately it was a bit of a crazy week, and I didn't get a chance to take a single picture. This marks the beginning of my travel season, and I'm looking forward to running around for a while. Next week I'm in Napa for a Sales Kickoff, then off to Indonesia for vacation (woohoo!). Back to New York for a week, and then to London to host a conference. I figure by the time I get back in February I won't know what time zone, country, or part of the world I'm in, but it should be fun!
Indonesia will be the first time I've traveled below the equator. I've been to Panama before, but that's the closest I've gotten. Everything I read about Bali is amazing- the surfing, hiking, people, flora and fauna... can't wait. So far the itinerary is wide open, so if anyone has ever been to Bali please suggest your favorites.
I do know I want to go to Tanah Lot- take a look at how amazing this place is:
The only good part about having a birthday during the middle of the week is it gives you a good excuse to celebrate for a solid 7 days. I was so fortunate this year, and my friends have been aiding me in celebrating for days. Thanks guys!
My favorite bars are the total NY dives. For example, Welcome to the Johnson's boasts the plastic- covered couches, old green fridge, family portraits and wood paneling on the walls, and $2 PBR. The clear winner in NY Dive Bars is Rudy's, however. With a duct tape covered seating, free hot dogs and popcorn, and a juke box that will never play the songs you paid for, it offers up $7 pitchers to the most eclectic gatherings I have seen here. Danny and JB and I went out on Friday and were thoroughly entertained by the making out couples, the regulars, and the otherwise sketchy patrons of this lovely establishment.
Saturday I met up with Janine and Tara and we went to our favorite cheap Indian restaurant, Panna II. Seriously, every time we go here we are amazed at how a) good and b) inexpensive it is. We then spent forever trying to find a decent bar. They were too crowded, smelled of something nasty, scarily empty... we just wanted a decent bar!
Sunday I had brunch with Vanessa at my favorite spot by the house- Nonna. We agree that when you come back from being in Arkansas, sometimes you have to be as New York as possible, so we had bagels with lox and cream cheese. Yummm. That night was the premier of the greatest show ever... American Gladiators! I used to dork out over this in high school, and am thrilled that it's back on the air. Mar and I watched the end of the Titans game and the two hour premier and had her delish spaghetti bolognese.
Happy New Year! We took a trip up to Vermont and stayed in a cabin with about 20 other people just 10 minutes away from Stratton Mountain for a little New Year's vacation and party. It was my first time skiing, and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Did about 3 runs on the bunny slope, then took the gondola all the way to the top of the mountain and slowly worked our way back down. It was icy at the top and a little scary, not gonna lie, but I loved it! I turned on the GPS at the bottom and clipped it to the bag on the way down. You can see our path below, click on the link to see the pics or zoom in as my computer won't let me upload the interactive features: http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=9129
The next day we got 8 inches of snow, and today as we were leaving it was snowing about 1.5 inches an hour. It was so pretty, but not so good for the drive home. We shoveled snow for five hours on the 30th, you can see it was about 3 feet deep on the porch. You can see the part to the left that's remaining in this pic. Needless to say, I'm a bit sore today.
As much as I love New York, I find it necessary to have a balance between the city and the country. When I've been away from Arkansas for a few months, I find myself wanting the trees, water, quiet, and outdoors time that I grew up with. My parent's house is a pretty amazing place. Located in the middle of the National Forest, our 40 acres are home to a wide array of wildlife and a few non-compliant cats and dogs. It was a pretty non-traditional childhood; we made our own electricity, had a wood-burning hot water heater, and didn't get a land-line phone until three years ago. It's one of the few places you can really get away from it all, as your cell will probably not work out here. The GPS, however, works perfectly (so much better than in the city), so I took a few pictures.
Here's where we are. Good 'ol Northwest Arkansas.
We have deer and turkey in the yard pretty regularly. Mom feeds them during the winter.
Lazy kitty taking a nap. She likes to sleep with her head on the side of the chair.
My parents on a walk down the road.
Jack Rabbit Frost. This is the most amazing thing to see in person. The stem of these plants are hollow, so when it freezes, the moisture is wicked up the stem and as it escapes, freezes into these amazingly delicate swirls and circles of ice.
I've been wanting to go to the Mythical Creatures exhibit at the Natural History Museum for months now. Janine, my former roomie, and her bf Matt drug me away from a day of errands to finally go see it (thanks, guys!). Unfortunately, picture taking is not allowed, but I highly reccomend seeing the exhibit in person. I turned the GPS on outside the museum, and it mapped my pictures as soon as I uploaded them anyway. Love how that works.
Janine and Matt
This Sunday we went to the Jets/Browns game over in the Meadowlands. Now the first Jets game I went to, my friend Tara won a contest which entitled her to a limo full of beer and tickets for about 8 of us. This time around we were not nearly as VIP, but it was still fun. Best part was the little kids playing football at halftime, so freaking cute. GPS was great- you can even see which side of the stadium we were seated in.
Sunday brought the first snowfall to NYC. Only around an inch, but very pretty. It's always a mixed bag of emotions when this happens, because although it gets me in the spirit of the season, it also reminds me just how far behind I am on my holiday shopping. Took the GPS on a little walk around the city this week to see the store windows. I found that it had a hard time in Midtown where the buildings were close together. I ended up almost in the street with my arm up in the air trying to get it to receive satellite coverage. Fortunately it's NY and there were so many people around that I got just a few sideways glances. Here are the highlights from Lincoln Center, Columbus Circle, Bergdorf and Bloomingdales. You can't pay me money to get near Rockefeller Center in December, and I avoid Macy's if at all possible. Uptown is nice during the week and in the evening though.
You can view my pics on the map here as the computer is having issues and dosen't want to upload the interactive version.
Being from Arkansas means you're born and raised a Razorbacks fan. As a state of 2.8 million with only one BCS team, you're calling the hogs from a young age. For those of you who don't know how to call the Hogs, it involves raising your hands above your head, wiggling your fingers, and yelling "woooooooooo PIG SOOIE" at the top of your lungs. It's great.
Now as a UA alum and a born-and-raised Arkansas, I take great pride in the spirit of SEC football and the traditions of the school. My contention that the SEC has the best tailgating and in-game atmosphere of all conferences was recently called into question by a Big 10 alum, and a bet was placed. We would visit each school, attend a game, and the looser would be properly ridiculed.
Ohio State vs. Northwestern was the first stop. Beautiful campus, great tailgating at Hiney Gate. Not to mention the fact that OSU clearly had an amazing season this year. Best of all, my dear Melissa was singing in Columbus and I got to see her!
OSU Horseshoe on Gameday
Me and Miss Laney in OH-IO
Brutus the Buckeye
So then the Arkansas trip came around. My team has had an interesting year, to say the least. This was about the time when fans started hiring planes to fly anti-Nutt slogans above the stadium during the game. Needless to say, in-game atmosphere was a bit lackluster compared to what I expect. In addition, travel plans were screwed up, thus tailgating was not an option (we barely made kickoff). To make a long story short, I lost. Now to be fair, one has to admit that this was not the best year for a full SEC-style game experience at Arkansas. I concede defeat on this one, but not on all SEC games, darnit. We're still better than the Big 10!
This was my first Thanksgiving to stay in the city, and my first time to watch the parade in person. I went out on Wednesday night to try and see the balloons get blown up, but the crowds were crazy and I quickly lost interest. Thursday I was lucky enough to have an amazing vantage point at 69th and CPW (thank you SO much, Liz!) to see the parade. Since we sat still the entire time, GPS worked but isn't very exciting. I did get a little camera-happy, so here is the parade pretty much play-by-play. The first few pics are of Central Park as we walked over. The colors were amazing.
I've found that when you move somewhere you have the best of intentions for fully taking advantage of all the activities to do, sights to see, landmarks to visit. You tell all your friends and family about all the amazing trips you'll be taking to said locations/landmarks/activities. And then you move and don't see a darn thing. It's funny, because when you go on vacation you see/do a lot in a limited amount of time. But in your own backyard? Not so much.
With that being said, I have put together a list in and around NYC so that I will a) remember all the stuff I want to do while I'm here and b) be motivated to go and do it on the weekends that I'm not traveling. Some of its touristy NY stuff that I just haven't had the patience to stand in line for, others are very random things I've just gotten in my head to go do. Just to give you an idea of what the list entails:
Adventure races upstate
Roosevelt Island Tram
Hiking on Staten Island
Mohonk- camping, biking
Bronx Botanical Garden
Jumping on the beds/riding elevators in Marriott Times Square
That big sailboat cruise thingie
Bike ride around Manhattan
Doing 2 triathlons this summer (NYC and Montauk?)
X The Cloisters
So to get started on this list, we took an expedition to the Cloisters. It was perfect fall weather and the trees are finally changing so we got a nice hike in as well in Ft. Tyron park. The cloisters themselves are amazing, both in terms of the artifacts they preserve and the buildings they're housed in. Plus you get a great view of the GW bridge.
About the pics below: first, let me say that the ISO function on the camera that's made for taking pics without flash in low light is amazing. Playing with this function let me take so many great pics that I had a hard time choosing. The GPS was fine outside, but took a bit to find a signal. Not sure if this was due to the tree cover or the day or what, but it was finicky. When I got the unit, I was disappointed to learn that it didn't work inside. However, when I got home and uploaded my pics it mapped the last GPS point the unit recorded before going inside with all the pics I took while I was in the building. I was actually able to map all the pics, including those inside.
Sometimes I reeeeally like my job. Like when I get to go to Orlando when its nasty in NY and play. I "have" to do stuff like behind the scenes tours in Universal Orlando, trips to Discovery Cove at Sea World, and site visits to resorts like the Omni ChampionsGate. I know, I know, poor me. The behind the scenes was really cool... got to ride the Mummy and the new Spiderman ride (pretty awesome 3D effects), and then learn how the rides were created, how they run, and how much they cost. Very cool. GPS came in handy as I could turn it on during the sites and then map where I took the pics. I'm planning to use the locations to do directions/logistics for my conference in April. Kind of a fun twist on giving attendees directions.
Behind the Scenes tour at Universal's Islands of Adventure:
This weekend was the NYC Marathon as well as the Olympic Trials in Central Park. Luckily I've just moved uptown, so it was literally in my backyard. I took the GPS unit and camera out to see how things worked. The GPS was simple to turn on- it blinks once slowly if its picking up enough satellites to map your location, and twice in rapid succession if not. It seemed to take a few minutes to get everything together, but honestly once I clipped it on my bag I forgot it was there.
The camera I'm using is a Sony DSC-W80, so I wanted to get used to the settings. It seemed to have every mode in the world except action shots, as you can see from some of the pics. Still working on that one. I was really surprised by how well the colors turned out once I uploaded the pics. Makes me look like a pretty good photographer, which is exactly what I want from a point and shoot!
The Olympic trials were amazing- guys running amazing times on this hilly Central Park course in some pretty cold and windy temperatures. Take a look at the screenshot below and you can get an idea of how the images display on the map as you upload.
So I got this nifty box of all this fun Sony stuff in the mail last week, and have spend the past few days running around the city and getting used to the technology. Not gonna lie, I'm dorking out just a little about the GPS data being embedded in my pics. I'm a big fan of Google maps, and can think of a bunch of fun stuff to do with this functionality. Like how I always forget where my fav NYC restaurants/bars/brunch spots are, but if I take a pic and then map it... you get the idea.