Photo Essay: Summer Road Trip Fun (New York)

Coleen Patrick road trip

My road trip smile.

Statue of Liberty setting sun

First stop: Staten Island, NY to visit dear daughter. This is the view of the Statue of Liberty from the ferry.

Frugal road trippers take note: the Staten Island ferry is FREE!

 

brooklyn bridge

We dodged lots of tourists and bicycles walked the Brooklyn Bridge with our daughter.

road trip NY

After a night as guests in our child’s teeny tiny but oh so cute studio apartment, my hub and I headed north. 

hudson valley new york

 If my phone’s camera could roll its eyes (lens?) it would’ve after the many shots I took of barns and silos.

copake falls new york

 Copake Falls, New York.

This is where the northernmost section of Taconic State Park is located.

NY MA border Bash Bish Falls park

 You have to walk to Massachusetts to get to Bash Bish Falls.

Note to frugal walkers: this is 3/4 mile from the New York (Taconic state park) lot. 

dragonfly bash bish falls

 Lots of dragonflies at the falls. Always nice to make new friends.

Bash Bish Falls above

There’s also lots of stairs. 🙂

Bash Bish Falls–the highest single-drop waterfall in Massachusetts.

Bash Bish Falls MA

 Bash Bish–try to say that three times fast.

Bash Bish Falls

Another new hiking pal.

Vermont barn

Stayed tuned: Next up, more barns Vermont!! 

Happy Friday!

 

 

 

A Road Trip: Thirty-Four Sweet Hours

inspirational virgil quote

This weekend we took a quick road trip to Washington D.C.

Somehow we packed three or fours days worth of touring into 34 hours.

DC road trip

We practically had monuments coming out of our ears.

We left home at 9 am on Sunday morning, drove about 100 miles, and then stopped for brunch at The Diner in D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood.

If you’re gluten-free, I highly recommend the pancakes. YUM.

My guys want you to try the tater tots.

brunch Adams morgan

Tater tots are good for your taste buds.

After pancakes, bread pudding french toast, and a veggie Reuben, we walked to the National Zoo.

Note: The ape house is NOT good for your nose.

gorilla yard national zoo

After mouth breathing my way through the ape house, I’d opt for a day outside too.

We walked A LOT. In 34 hours, I clocked 47,000 steps on my pedometer.

That’s about 20 miles.

tortoise D.C. zoo

I’m moving a little slower today.

Luckily there was plenty of sustenance.

Top Chef Mike Isabella Graffiato

Top Chef alum Mike Isabella’s Graffiato is a fun food adventure.

And that night we had a relaxing moonlight trolley ride around D.C.

Old Town Trolley tours washington d.c.

This was a fitting way to spend Memorial Day weekend.

Memorials in D.C.

The next morning we walked to the National Mall and toured the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

American History car dealership

My son will be waiting a long time to get a car loan at this dealership.

But waiting is not so bad.

We waited in this line at Georgetown Cupcakes (yes, we also toured Georgetown!)

Easy wait when this is at the end of the line:

Especially because the chocolate lava cupcakes were gluten-free.

Then, home again, home again, jiggety jig.

But not before we picked up a souvenir.

D.C. souvenir

How did you spend your weekend? Do you have a favorite tourist spot?

Happy Tuesday!

Photo Essay: Friendly Roads and Sunny Faces

may the road rise to meet you

May the road rise up to meet you.

hats williamsburg

May the wind be always at your back.

light in window

May the sun shine warm upon your face…

tree and clouds

the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,

light through doorway

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

 

**All photos taken at Shirley Plantation in Charles City, Virginia and Colonial Williamsburg.

 

Historical tidbit I learned at Shirley Plantation: Did you know that it wasn’t uncommon for portrait painters (and their entire family) to move in with their subjects?

Real Portrait Painters of the Thirteen Colonies. Would you watch that reality show?

I imagine the experience hastened the invention of photography. 🙂

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

My First Coffee Cupping: Buzzworthy San Juan, Puerto Rico

coffee funny quote_opt

I like coffee.

I especially like how I am a tad less crabby in the mornings after I drink it–and of course, there’s the caffeine oomph.

coffee doodle_opt

 My caffeinated doodles.

 

And I have to admit I feel pretty fancy whenever I get to sip on a five dollar soy latte (and practically spy-like when I get to do it incognito).

But I’d never heard of coffee cupping.

Turns out it’s a lot like wine tasting. Coffee cupping is a process used to evaluate and compare different coffees.

Coffee can taste briny, bready, or even oniony. Those are the not so good terms. Buttery, on the other hand, denotes full flavor and richness.

Who knew? Not me.

Until I traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico.]

cuatro sombras coffee san juan_opt

 Cafe Cuatro Sombras, San Juan, Puerto Rico

 coffee grinder_opt

This is a BIG coffee grinder. Cafe Cuatro Sombras is serious about their coffee.

 coffee cupping san juan_opt

Everything you need to start cupping.

 coffee cupping process_opt

Break the crust, and then it’s time to slurp your coffee.

Coffee should spread to the back of the tongue, NOT cause you to cough wildly (whoops).

 

 latte art san juan_opt

The prize at the end of our coffee cupping adventure: The best soy latte I’ve ever had.

Dare I say, buttery?

 san juan port night_opt

Bonus! Drinking coffee guarantees you see San Juan at night!

 

Tell me your thoughts on coffee! I’d love to hear them.

Happy Monday!

 

 

Around the World in Eighty Seconds: Where Would You Go?

henry miller inspiration

I like looking at travel/food blog posts.  I get a little boost, a little vicarious relaxation.

Maybe it’s the cold, rainy, icy weather we’ve been having lately, but I’ve been craving some go time, the kind of meandering that starts with a leisurely cup of (fancy) coffee and goes . . . wherever.

Fancy coffee always makes me feel like I’m on vacation.

Add in a great view and I’m set

 

 

 

 

Do you have any plans to travel soon?  Where would you go if you could go anywhere right now?  Would you eat seafood cake?

Have a great week!

Jump at the Sun and Reach for the (Pie in the) Sky

jump at the sun quote_opt

 

For the most part, I am a feet-on-the-ground and Thanksgiving-at-home kind of girl, but I have to admit that opportunities can arise that call for some “jumping at the sun” time.

grand canyon ledge_opt

 This is a little too close to the sun if you ask me.

That’s some of my family at the Grand Canyon.  We broke from our routines and typical Thanksgiving traditions and flew with my husband’s family to Las Vegas.

From there we took a day trip to the canyon.

grand canyon jump_opt

 Jumping at the sun.

 

We all had a fun, and very uplifting time.

 

Expanding comfort zones on the Las Vegas zip line.

 

Yeah, that’s me up there.  Totally exhilarating.

Okay, so I have to admit that as I stepped on that platform, I considered the expertise of the kids trussing me up like a turkey and hooking me to that line, but I put that fear aside.  And I’d do it again.

Comfort zone . . . what’s that?  Waistbands weren’t the only things stretched this Thanksgiving holiday.

Although there was plenty of that too.

Finding pie in the sky is a tasty bonus.

 

Okay so I missed my usual Thanksgiving festivities like the parade and my mom’s turnip mashed potatoes.  And leaping from a platform that’s almost 7o feet in the air?  Well, that was a stretch for me (if you don’t believe me, check out my post on flying).

But, new experiences offer growth, confidence and in the case of a writer, research!  Plus, new stuff can offer a deeper appreciation for your regular routine and traditions.

Of course, some new things aren’t difficult at all . . .

That’s a TV and a bath tub.  Together.  What?

I hope you get the chance to try something new and awesome this week!

 

 

What new opportunities are within your reach?  Do you struggle with stretching your comfort zone?  Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon, or on a zip line?  

Tell me, I love it when you comment!

Have a great week!

Flying the Anxious Skies

 

“It is difficult, when faced with a situation you cannot control, to admit you can do nothing.”
~ Lemony Snicket, Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid

fear of flying cocoon of denial_opt

I am not on a plane, over the ocean.  It only looks that way.

 

Anxiety sucks.
I don’t know what unleashes it first, the need for control or the lack of control.  It’s kind of a chicken/egg thing.  Either way, I know that control is a major factor in my anxiety.

Take my fear of flying (please!).  It combines my dislike for cramped spaces and playing what my overactive imagination likes to call The Life Lottery.

  • You can’t get eaten by a shark if you don’t go in the ocean.
  • You will not plunge 36,000 feet if you don’t fly.
  • You will not get stuck in a crowded elevator if you don’t get on one.

Because life can be so freaking random.  There are so many things I can’t control, that maybe when I feel like I can avoid something, like say the parachute not opening or the bungee cord snapping, then I feel like I should.

(Note: I can safely say there will not be any sky diving or bungee jumping posts from me in the future—not of me anyway.)

But what do you do when a fear or phobia is in the way of something you DO want to do?

“While we may not be able to control all that happens to us, we can control what happens inside us.”
~ Benjamin Franklin

Really??

Believe me, I try to rationalize my fear of flying, but it’s like trying to explain to my teenage daughter why I don’t want her to walk down the beach alone at night in a foreign country.

But I’m almost 18! Why not?

It makes sense to me, but not to her.

Like my husband the engineer trying to explain Bernoulli’s Principle regarding air flight to me:

As the speed of moving fluid (liquid or gas) increases, the pressure within the fluid decreases.  The airplane wing is designed to split air as it travels through it, and adjust the air speed above and below the wing so that there’s low pressure on the top of the wing’s surface, and higher pressure on the bottom.  This variance in air speed and pressure generates lift.

And generates great confusion.  I don’t get it.

At the science museum in town, they have a beach ball floating atop a stream of blowing air to help demonstrate part of this principle.

Doesn’t help.  Not when kid after kid walks up to that display to knock the ball out of the air stream.

I don’t even need to see that beach ball hit the ground to worry, my overactive imagination distorts airplane aerodynamics all on its own.  Besides, as a writer I spend a lot of time thinking about the WHAT IF?

 

“Yeah. Calm down. Two of the most useless words in the English language.”
~ Lili St. Crow, Betrayals

On our flight from Tel Aviv to Frankfurt, the pilot introduced himself and then said, “I anticipate some bumps at take off and as we cross over Serbia.

What?!

Now I know some people like to know what they are getting into.  I however, did not appreciate this knowledge because it made me then have to consider the definition of bumpy according to the tyrant pilot about to fly our plane.

After all he’s a pilot and he’s used to turbulence.  In fact, I often look at the pilot and the attendants before a flight, checking their faces for any stress or anxiety.  I figure if they’re okay, I should be okay.  (See?  That’s me trying to be rational.)  So if you’re a pilot, don’t mention bumpy unless you clarify it.  Because bumpy could mean a range of things, from a gentle hiccup to your plastic cup of coke hitting the ceiling.

So after that announcement, I immediately called up the course map on my personal TV screen.

Where the heck is Serbia??  (I’m cleaning up my unfiltered, anxiety driven language here for you.)

I never found Serbia, but apparently it’s very large.  The entire flight felt like we were making a trip up to Walton’s Mountain in an old Ford with blown shock absorbers.

Rationalizing wasn’t working, I needed a distraction.

So I tried to watch a movie, then a TV show, but the only thing I could get my screen to do (other than watch the excruciatingly slow progress that we were making even at a ground speed of 600 mph) was play a special Lufthansa meditation CD.

(I had my own iPod, but my headphones were no match for the jet engines which were apparently working very hard at doing what I have no clue.  Don’t get me started on how the weight of engines and everything else can stay 36,000 feet in the air.)

So I started the meditation CD, and then proceeded to listen to a (German? Austrian?) psychologist talk me through visualizing Edelwiess meadows, lonely goatherds, and Heidi singing Do Re Me.  Then Dr. von Trapp told me to envision jumping into the cool waters of a babbling brook while remembering to release anxiety by clenching and unclenching various muscles, including my buttocks.

Um, if you’re taking notes, this may be out of order—I should mention I also took a Xanax.

Mostly I jiggled my feet up and down for four hours, because my brother-in-law said it helps to make you feel like you are the one causing the bumpiness rather than Bernoulli pot holes (again with the control) I imagine I looked like Fred Flintstone pedaling his car.  I was exhausted.

And the second we landed?  I burst into tears of relief.

Yea, I was a hot mess.

But I had to think positive because we weren’t done. We had two more flights to go.

So I concentrated on the positive—avoiding all negativity.  Especially thoughts of movies like Bridesmaids.  As much as I love that movie, Kristen Wigg played a nervous flyer and ended up sitting next to another nervous flyer who said this:

 “I had a dream last night . . . that the plane went down. Yup. It was terrible. You were in it.”

 

Instead of that, it’s helpful to focus on your travel destination and whatever fun things you are looking forward to.  For me, my favorite positive, happy place is usually a white sandy beach next to clear blue water.  I imagine the warmth of the sun, a cool sea breeze and hopefully relax.

Sometimes though I just imagine being finished with whatever is causing me stress. On the way home, during the third and last leg of our plane itinerary, I imagined walking out of the airport, going home, seeing my house, I even went so far as to imagine the warmth of the wood floors and the smell of the shampoo in my shower.

If that doesn’t work, other distractions help. I also did crossword puzzles—easy ones that didn’t require me to stop too long to think.  For me that meant the puzzles in the People magazine. When desperate I used the airline magazine—and I wasn’t above flipping to the back for answers. After all it’s not the SATs. The point of this exercise was to keep my mind  occupied in a positive way.

I have to say I’m pretty grateful that (crying aside) I managed to at least look mostly calm. At least my freak out did not involve a hallucination or the airplane’s PA system, like the character in Bridesmaids:

“I have an announcement too, there is a COLONIAL WOMAN ON THE WING. The woman on the wing, I saw her! There’s something they’re not telling us! There’s a Colonial woman. She was churning butter. She was churning butter on that wing; she’s out there right now! There is something they’re not telling us! Look out there, she is dressed in traditional Colonial garb!”

 

Really what you need to do is keep your anxiety in check long enough not to resort to using the PA system, but send off enough distress vibes that your name gets picked for the FIRST CLASS LOTTERY.

Yup.  You heard that right.  After that bumpy Lufthansa flight, we got another kind of bump on our overseas leg–an upgrade from coach to US Airway’s Envoy class.  Not just myself and my husband, but our kids as well.

Sparkling water (or wine) with lemon, warm mixed nuts, a menu to choose your meal, a seat that reclines ALL THE WAY FLAT, noise (read: jet engine) reducing headphones, steamed wash clothes (I had no idea what I was missing there!), hot fudge sundaes and your very own kit of personal toiletries like lotion, chapstick, an eye mask, socks and toothbrush!.

Feeling especially rich and fancy, my son did his best impersonation of James William Bottomtooth III from Family Guy.

flying fancy bottomtooth style_opt

 

It was so much fun to see the excited looks on my kids faces.  Plus I learned it’s still possible to impress my teenage daughter.

flying first class happy _opt

 

Thankfully I am the only nervous flyer in our family, but this perk got all of us grinning–even me.  I was SO grateful.  Gratitude can go a long way in reducing stress and anxiety (and so can the amenities of first class).

The proof?  I actually slept for almost 5 hours.

Yay!

So maybe first class won’t always be an option (one can always hope though), but if you can, treat yourself to a good pair of noise reducing headphones. They help maintain the cocoon of denial if all else fails.

 

“The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm and amiable seas. The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising. Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude. If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow. Today I am blessed.”

~ Maya Angelou

 

Are you cool as a cucumber or do you imagine Colonial women on the wing of the plane?  How do you deal with anxiety?

 

Floating at the Lowest Place on Earth

Hi!

Well, I’m back.  Mostly.  Maybe not so much mentally (in fact I just asked my husband: What’s the word for when you are here physically but not ____?)  Yea, my head still feels a bit stuffed with the cottony bits of jet lag.

6,000 miles + 25 hours of travel time +  7 hour time difference = very little sleep.

Our trip had high points and low points.  It was both relaxing (no dinner making! the beach!) and exhausting (plane delays that added up to a 41 hour travel time to get to Israel, coupled with my insane flying jitters). But a bonus of coming back from vacation? (Other than my own, comfy bed.)  I am ready to get back to work.  I missed writing, reading blog posts and checking in on Twitter and Facebook.

And I hope to jump right back in as soon as possible.  That is once I get myself out from under the mail pile (virtual and actual).  It’s quite the shock going from thinking, Hmm, I wonder where we should go for dinner tonight? –to bill paying, grocery shopping, laundry and an upcoming wisdom tooth extraction (I’m playing the responsible adult to my son’s soon to be drugged state–here’s hoping I get a good night’s sleep–this is my child who once hallucinated after a dose of cough syrup).

Still I have some uplifting thoughts to pick from between the cottony spaces in my brain!

Because I saw some amazing, beautiful and historical sights from Masada, to the Dead Sea.

dead sea masada view_opt

 This is a view of the Dead Sea from atop Masada.

The Dead Sea is 1,388 feet below sea level and is the lowest place on Earth.  It is super salty–over 30% salinity.  While in the water, I touched my pinkie finger to my tongue–and it was so salty, it stung for a moment.  Note: You do not shave before taking a dip in the Dead Sea!!

dead sea mineral beach_opt

 Pretty, right?

 

This is a little embarrassing to admit, but I kind of thought the Dead Sea would look more like a black lake, but as you can see, the color of the water looks more like a view of the Caribbean than some imagined Bubonic plague-like body of  water.

Although we all looked scary after applying the Dead Sea mud.

 dead sea mud_opt

It was messy and smelled a bit like sulfur, but applying the mud was a fun experience.  And apparently healing, due to the mineral content.

 

But by far the coolest part of the Dead Sea experience?

The floating!!  It is effortless.  Due to the high salt content, you cannot fully submerge in this water.  It is denser than my travel bogged mind.

 

 dead sea floating_opt

 And treading water is unnecessary–the water holds you upright, even when you wade deeper.

So you just kick back and relax, because even at the lowest point on Earth, YOU CANNOT SINK.

 

“You know when you’re floating on your back in the lake, the water rises and falls against your ears? So that for half a second you can hear everything around you and then for the other half a second everything’s muted? It almost feels like your suspended between two worlds.”

― Tricia Rayburn, Siren

 

And floating there, in the very warm waters of the Dead Sea, I realized the hopeful lesson in that experience (yes, I was blogging in my head–I couldn’t help it).  I thought, how encouraging is to feel that even at the lowest depths, we simply cannot stay at the bottom?

 

“Still, what I want in my life is to be willing to be dazzled—to cast aside the weight of facts and maybe even to float a little above this difficult world. ”

― Mary Oliver

 

Days, vacations, life, they do not always go as we planned.  But even when we find ourselves sinking to the lowest points, there are moments of hope to be found.

 

“When the tides of time turn against you,

And the storms of life sink your boat,

Don’t cry and scream and holler,

Just turn on your back and float.”

~Ed Norton

 

Here’s to everyone getting some floating time this week!!

Any travel high points or low points you can share?  Or jet lag fighting tips for me to file away?

I love it when you share 🙂  I missed chatting with you while I was gone!