Where I Have Been

Oh hey there.  Looks like it’s been a hot minute since I’ve dropped in and I swore I would never be that person to just “check in” buuuuuut here I am.  Where have I been?  Location wise it’s stayed the same – New York/East Coast.  There was an itty bitty trip to California last weekend – my first in 6 months – but more on that later.  The point is that I haven’t been very present on the blog and I’m trying to work out what that means for me.  My job is one of the many million in the world that requires me at a desk underneath fluorescent lights.  While it’s a good environment, it means that I don’t always have the drive to come home and plop down to sit in front of another screen.  I know that I don’t have to apologize for not posting but it was really making me feel guilty.  So, this is me posting to tell myself it’s ok not to post all the time.  🙂

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When Mom and Grandma Come to Town

I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend from Mother Nature to show my mom and grandma about town.  While my mom has actually been out to New York three or four times since I moved here, it was Grandma Nancy’s first trip since the late 80’s (or that’s about what we figured).  I wanted her to see the place that I have called home, the routes that I run, and simply see how the city has changed over the years.

We started out on Thursday night with a late dinner at the Flatiron Eataly.  She had encountered some trouble in Denver with the weather but still made it to Manhattan ready to take on the town.  I had taken Friday off so after a quick (terribly lethargic) run along the East River, it was time to meet them for breakfast and and begin our own walking tour.

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Alaska Travels: Cruising to Sitka

All good fun must come to an end and today I share the last of my pictures from Alaska.  Although, I do have to say while Monday and Wednesday’s posts provided a wonderful (biased of course) look at the state, nothing beats getting out to explore on your own!

IMG_8718After wrapping up the land portion of Un-Cruise on Friday, we took a tour of Anchorage and had dinner with a couple my mom knew when we lived in England for a short time.  They have moved around a lot in the last twenty years and are now locals of Alaska and loving it.  They selected the Moose’s Tooth as the destination of choice and boy was it crowded – must mean they are doing something well.  With unique beer brews and delectable [pizza] pies, I’d give it double thumbs up.

On Saturday we woke up bright and early (hello 5:30) and headed off to Juneau via flight.  The actual Un-Cruise cruise wasn’t set to depart until after 5pm so we checked our bags in and went off to explore the state’s capital in the rain.  After two weeks in the mist I can safely say I would not last long in the northwest.  I love my sunshine, even if it’s humid sunshine.

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We also took a bus out to the Mendenhall Glacier and then walked around the park a little bit.  The rain pants and rain boots allowed Meghan and I to wade through the water and get closer to the falls but were not exactly the most comfortable to power walk in.  Duly noted.

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^^ On the bus back to the hotel where our bags were staying we saw a bear! Correction: I saw a bear and my dad missed it by a smidge.  Hello bear and sorry dad.

By 4:30 we were were at our orientation and by 5:30 onboard, taking off from Juneau, and en-route to Stika.  We met the rest of the 70 or so passengers, enjoyed some nice bubbly and cheese and settled in for the week ahead.

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Every morning Meghan and I woke up around 6 to “workout” on the elliptical and stationary bike.  I honestly don’t know how I managed to use the elliptical so much in college because it can get quite monotonous…

We also participated in the morning “stretch” class led by one of the guides.  I use quotes here because 15 minutes of very light stretching doesn’t really cut it for most people.  There was some disappointment since they used to have a yoga teacher/masseuse but in the end, Un-Cruise needed someone who could actually help in other ways onboard.

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^^ Here’s the family mid-hypothermia dance

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Our activities ranged from skiff (boat) tours around the bays or coves, searching for wildlife, kayaking, standup paddle, bushwacking (hiking without a trail), or shore pokes (mild walks).  Overall Un-Cruise did a pretty solid job of avoiding disastrous weather, rearranging certain activities and cruise routes so that we wouldn’t have to deal with too much rain the entire trip.  Of course weather is never in our control and we just had/have to make due with what Mother Nature provides. << Something that’s always good to remember rather than get frustrated by.

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^^ Day 1 was spent in Glacier Bay National Park with some more excellent views of the local ice packs.  Sadly enough global warming’s impact is quite evident and I only fear what the next 10-20-50+ years will bring.

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^^ Personal floatation device (aka PFD) was a must on most outings and obviously made for a very attractive look.  You know for the amount of time I spent in rain pants, I’m surprised it hasn’t caught on as the next fashion trend.  Maybe I’ll catch a glimpse during the fall Fashion Week.

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^^ Oh yes.  The meals.  There were three square meals a day with buffet-style breakfast and lunch, a gourmet sit-down dinner and yes, dessert + coffee came with all three.  They actually had a beverage station so the coffee was optional but I decided to have tea and coffee at all three meals.  Despite the fact that I switched to decaf starting at lunch, that weeklong decision made for a TERRIBLE caffeine withdrawal upon my return.

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^^ From a shore walk to a bushwack adventure. Plenty of vegetation to see and walk through.  Much different in comparison to my usual NYC posts, right?  No concrete in this neck of the woods.

IMG_9176 IMG_9179 ^^ By far the best cookie of the week.  Certainly about the 10th cookie too many for the trip (they make a different batch every day for lunch…) but that doesn’t mean it still wasn’t delicious.

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IMG_8841By Saturday it had been one full week on the water and it was time to disembark in Stika.  We left with a few more friends and definitely some good stories and plenty of pictures to look back upon.

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Alaska.  It’s been real.  Until our next adventure.

“To travel is to live” – Hans Christen Anderson

Alaska Travels Part 2

Now you know that I wouldn’t come back from a two week vacation without hundreds of pictures, right?  In fact I wasn’t even the worst at being trigger happy because my dad had over 900 on his camera card!  Of course there were a few hundred that were just moving shots or blurry images thanks to the movement of the train and bus, but hey got to catch ’em all.

As noted on Monday, the first week was spent with Un-Cruise galivanting about Fairbanks, Denali, and then to the Knik River Lodge by the Knik Glacier.  This last spot may have been a favorite because of the glorious mattresses and the SLED DOGS!!!  If you ever have the opportunity to meet sled dogs and ride with them, throw caution to the wind and go.

Wednesday was one helluva travel day since we got up at the crack of dawn (5:30) to enjoy a 6 hour bus tour out of the park, 4+ hour train tour to Talkeetna for dinner, and then 2 hour bus trip to our final destination.  In the end it was all worth it because we witnessed several more bouts of wildlife, enjoyed a walk and tasty meal Talkeetna and made it to Knik River Lodge by bedtime.

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^^ Yep, this is downtown.  With a population of about 876 (back in 2010), no need to spend more than a meal in Talkeetna.  However, if you are interested in camping, that’s a different story.

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This was the view from our adorable little hut along the Knik River and Glacier.  Each hut could house up to one or two beds and I do declare they were the most comfortable beds I have experienced.  Meghan and I took to running two of the mornings that we stayed because well, it was week 1 of marathon training and I was already behind.

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Along with marathon training came some hiking or rather “bush-wacking”.  This entails one pushing through bushes without a very well defined path in order to reach your destination.  Rain pants are a must in this situation because otherwise you will have countless scratches, bruises, and even bug bites from the contact and exposure.

IMG_9079IMG_1810^^ 3 miles round-trip (1.5 up and 1.5 back with 1hr 20 up and 1hr back) for this beauty.  It would have been 10x better had there not been mosquitoes waiting around for us but who am I kidding?

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^^ Don’t you like my outfit?  Keeping things real attractive in the Alaskan countryside.

After our jaunt up the mountain, it was time to grab a quick lunch and then off to see the doggies!  There were about 4 groups visiting the group of dogs on the glacier throughout the day and we happened to be #3.  Fingers and toes were crossed that the weather would clear up because group #1 wasn’t able to land the helicopter due to the grumpy clouds chilling in the sky.  I know it’s for precautionary reasons but it would still suck to go all the way up and not be able to see them.  Not to mention hearts and souls crushed.  (minor exaggeration…maybe)

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Just take a look at that blue in the glacier!!  Fun fact – the blue color is actually what’s reflected within our eyes and not the actual color of the glacier.  Neat, right?

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Just two sisters getting along for 13 days of very very close proximity together.  😉  My dad actually asked me if I brought any clothing that didn’t have a November Project tag on it.  Um, yeah sorry no.  Guess it has to go in the Christmas card (again).

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Final dose of Alaskan adventure coming your way Friday!

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.  I travel for travel’s sake.  The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

A Day Well Spent

What does a day “well spent” look like to you?  A little bit of work or working out?  Spending time with friends and/or family or exploring somewhere new?  Whatever it may be, I’m sure it probably cost a few dollars here and there.  We live in a world of material and convenience and even if you don’t plan to spend a dime, somehow you stumble upon a tasty acai bowl or trinket that your friend would love.  Ok, maybe that’s just me.

I love knowing that I earned that money and can invest it however I would like – yes some for the actual long term investments, but nothing makes me happier than treating myself to something once in awhile or finding a gift for friends or family. But anyways, back to the point of this post.

In order to have some fun, you also have to do a bit of planning.  I’d like to be that girl who can fly by the seat of her pants and whip up a trip in no time (also called spontaneous) but it doesn’t always work.  Financial planning is tough.  There are too many banks, websites, logins, and I never remember what combination of numbers or letters I’m supposed to enter on a month to month basis.  Thank goodness I’m not an accountant, right?  Well, seeing as though my money won’t manage itself and I can’t rely on my financial planner (aka my dad) for everything (because I need to be a big girl one day), I turn to things like Personal Capital.  Here we’ve got a nifty website that provides free financial tools and calculators to help manage your financial life all in one place (like sticking to a budget). Clutch, right?  I’ve started a few different goals – mostly saving up for fun trips and explorations, but also for those “rainy days” or preferably sunny days too.  Here’s a little glimpse at one of my perfect days with the help of some re-purposed pictures.

IMG_9677 (1)^^ Running or working out with some of my friends.  Sometimes running solo is quite necessary but run chats and catching up are also the best, don’t you agree?

IMG_4455 ^^ Picking up a free Juice Press juice thanks to the #jprunclub

IMG_1022^^ Followed up at some point with a divine acai bowl (fruit to the face please and thank you)

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^^ Hiking with the family (but not getting lost)

IMG_2089 ^^ Snack time before hitting up the ocean (hopefully not killing all of the $20 on my froyo)

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^^ Ending with a excellent homemade dinner with friends or family (probably salad or whatever I could buy with the remaining funds after my froyo escapade) and walk with a sunset.

While it’s sad to think that I would even need $20 on my perfect day, I #runtoeat and #worktospend, so that’s my life in a nutshell.

What would consist of your perfect day?

A Very Cali-Christmas

When you expect the weather to be warmer than the northeast…but it’s not…you still have a good time because come on, it’s CALIFORNIA!  This last week has been filled with running outside along the palm trees, some working from home (because traffic sucks and isn’t worth wasting valuable work time), and lots and lots of family time.  I’ve missed my buddies at NP_NYC but have since made a few out here in Los Angeles, which makes things a little more enjoyable.

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^^ With a few hours of sleep after my flight home, I made it out to Baldwin Hills for one of the traveling Friday workouts.  Though it sounds crazy to drive 40 minutes (sans traffic) for a workout, I somehow feel more accomplished having made one or two more friends.

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^^ It’s also pretty funny that they call me “New York” and some of my friends back east like to call me “Cali”.  Oh, and no, we aren’t choking one another, it’s the Star Wars grip…ok it still looks strange.

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^^ Thanks NP_LAX for a sweet Christmas Eve Eve workout (candy cane consumption optional but highly encouraged) 😉

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^^ Working out at a coffee shop in Santa Monica meant dealing with 60 minutes of traffic and ultimately treating myself to a good acai bowl and iced coffee.  So hipster, I know 😉

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As mentioned, family time has been plentiful with a trip down to Laguna to see Dad’s side of the family (hooligans below) and a trip up north to see Mom’s side.

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^^ Giving TFred (aka Dad aka the photographer) a hard time and making funny faces. This may have been best of the bunch.  Christmas Eve was filled with songs (most of which were sung off pitch), chit-chat and and so much good food.

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^^ Found these gems around the house.  Aren’t we adorable?  What happened? 😉

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^^ Doesn’t that just scream old-school beach? The VW van, palm trees (and other trees) a plenty and sand and surf just around the corner.

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IMG_4228 ^^ Couldn’t help myself.  If there wasn’t a picture, it didn’t happen, right?  Of course my timing with the full moon wasn’t exactly planned right and I managed to make it around town and to the water just in time for high tide.

For once in my life I haven’t made any concrete plans for the week ahead.  But, between workouts and family lunches, golf and a couple movies, I’m sure I won’t be too bored.  Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and holiday season!