Sunday, January 25, 2009

Day Trips- Mud, Rivers & Mountain Lions, OH MY!

So, my friends and I decided that we wanted to go for a hike this weekend. There are a ton of hiking trails near my house. Unfortunately, it rained the night before and was still raining yesterday when we were planning to go. After calling the park rangers, we found that the hiking trails were closed. :*( After texting back and forth for about an hour, we decided to just pick up a trail from one of the entrances near my house. I did not know which trail this was or where it went but I knew there was an entrance from the side of the road near my house.

When we first walked onto the trail, we could still see houses and hear traffic but we decided to keep going. Then we came accross this sign.

Mountain Lions??!!! WTF!!! I read online (and I've heard stories) that there are mountain lions in our area but seriously.....for us to go into their territory? OMG I think we were crazy. But we decided to go on anyway.

The first part of the trail was a muddy mess (thanks rain!). Basically we slid down most of the way. It was like mud skiing or something. We laughed so hard going down this hill. Our shoes had inches of mud stuck to the bottoms of them which made us laugh, then we kept sliding which made us laugh more. It was just out of control for about 10 minutes.

Then we got to this:

Do not enter?? So what do we do? We enter. And this is what was behind.

A cliff with a small little trail on it.

We walked a bit and then came to this:

A creek. Hey who put that there?? Rude.
Hmmm how deep is it?? (don't mind the socks....we brought extras just in case. She wasn't wearing long pants and she wanted her legs covered just in case there was poison oak so I gave her my London socks. ha ha)

Pause for a picture:

We contemplated how we would get across. We threw big stones to create a path. Then I figured nothing would help so I ran across. Getting my feet soaked.

They threw more rocks. Then decided to take off their shoes instead. Such resourceful girls. :-)

Freezing and rocky.
Oh look.....another river to cross. Yay us! :-\
This time I took off my shoes too. The rocks in this particular river were smaller and painful on the feet. (notice our shoes on the other side of the river in the picture below. We threw them over so we wouldn't have to carry them.)
Nature Girls! (?)
All in all I think we crossed 4 rivers. Went on a few REALLY muddy tracks. Almost walked into what we presume could have been a "lion's den". It was a really creepy cave like place filled with water. We chose not to go investigate too much. It was a little scary!! It was a fun little outing and I had no idea that was all in my own "backyard"!
We walked back to the car absolutely filthy. We took off our muddy shoes socks and went home and took hot showers to wash the nature off of us. ha ha. Then we ate Taco Bell and watched movies all night. We deserved the lazy afternoon after our day of nature. :-)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Did I ever tell you......

I just remembered this and it cracked me up.

On one of my trips to London, my friend and I were on one of those big red bus tours where you can hop on and hop off at any stop. It was raining and yet we still decided to sit on the top of the bus which is open air. Well, it wasn't raining when we first got there, but it started sprinkling. We were just trying to enjoy the sites. Anyways, when we were leaving the bus and walking down the steps I full on slipped and fell on my a**!! While falling I kicked my friend who was in front of me. Luckily she did not fall too. I was so embarassed and she was asking me if I was ok, which I was (well except for my pride!). I practically pushed her off the bus telling her, "I'm fine, I'm fine", while everyone was staring at us. We were dying of laughter once we got off the bus. Probably for like 10 minutes.

Just thought I'd share..... :-)

While I was at lunch today, I was talking to one of my co-workers about traveling. We were talking about things happening when you travel that don't seem funny at the time but those are the things that stand out and those are the stories that you re tell about a million times. Like my friend losing her ATM card in the machine and taxi driver threatening us that he was going to call the police on us or almost missing our train to Paris and running down the corridor with our bags trying to get on the train before it left or my friend getting on the tube (subway) right as the doors were closing leaving me and her other friend behind and then turning around with a panicked expression on her face as the train left. (for those stories and much more....check out my previous blogs. he he) Some of these stories were definitely not funny at the time, but now are so hilarious.

Okay....back to work!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What a Historic Day!

I know this is a travel blog.......but I just had to post a blog about yesterday.

History has been made. And folks, we just lived through it. Yesterday, January 20, 2009 Barack Obama became the 44th President and the first African American President EVER! Yeah, it was kind of an amazing day.

I'm not gonna lie, I kind of wanted to take the day off and just watch all of the news coverage on tv. I didn't want to miss a thing. But duty calls and so do my bills. So I went to work anyways. On my hour drive to work, I was listening to the radio and everyone was just so emotional which was making me emotional. With that start to the day, I totally thought I was going to ball my eyes out in front of my colleagues/friends. ha ha... Luckily, my emotions stayed in tact during work. ;-) They did have a tv in our cafeteria and another upstairs in one of the meeting rooms. So, I got to watch the main inauguration and speeches. It was pretty awesome.

I got to watch some of the Neighborhood Ball. Beyonce sang At Last for the first dance of our new President and First Lady. It was a really sweet moment. I'll admit that sometimes Beyonce is not my favorite, but she looked great and sang great. I was thinking how crazy it must have felt to her to be singing at this historical event for our history making new President!

Our new Vice President, Joe Biden also made an appearance (and a few jokes!) and had a dance with his wife, Jill Biden.

I googled and found a few pictures to share to mark this event. Enjoy!

Wow, look at the crowd. Crazy! Sure wish I could have been there.

This picture cracks me up. And how cute is Malia filming everything.

Our 44th President and First Lady

So cute.

You think they need a nanny? I'm available!

The Obama Family- Barack, Michelle, Sasha & Malia

Monday, January 12, 2009

Day Tripping- La La Land

Hooray for Hollywood!

I know, I know. The economy sucks! But that doesn't mean you can't try new things and visit new places. Since I (like the rest of you, I'm sure) am currently on a budget, the big trips are on hold. Most recently, I've decided to give Hollywood another try. They've actually cleaned it up a bunch in the last few years. I've taken 2 separate day trips to Hollywood recently and here's what I've found:

Griffith Park Observatory:
Admission is free! Woo hoo! Located in Griffith Park above the neighborhood of Los Feliz, the Griffith Park Observatory over looks the city of Los Angeles (including the Hollywood sign). It has great views of the city and the stars if it's a clear night! They have a ton of exibits on astronomy including the planets, stars, the moon, etc. All for free. For approximately $7, you can check out a show at the Planetarium located within the Observatory. A very interesting show and I definitely recommend seeing it while you are there. You can also check out the ginormous telescope (only open on clear nights) and check out the stars and planets live and in action.

The view of LA from the Observatory

Pink's Hotdogs:
Hollywood's famous hot dog stand. Opened in 1939. Tons of celebrities grab a Pink's hot dog while they are in town. There are autographed pictures all over. The line is crazy long and it's literally a big "stand". No inside dining. They do have an outdoor patio with lots of seats. Any kind of hot dog you can imagine, they have. The dogs are all named after celebrities. Vegetarians, don't worry, they even have a vegi dog! Woo hoo! And yes, we did stand in line for 45 minutes to get a freaking hot dog. Don't judge. We wanted to say we'd been there, done that. :)

The Grove:
The Grove is such a cute outdoor shopping center. I love it there. They have a ton of shopping places, a few pricy restaurants, a water show (think a tiny Bellagio watershow), live music, a trolly, coffee and icecream stands, etc. The Grove is a good "people watching" place. The Farmer's Market is also next door.

The Grove @ Christmas time

Universal Studios:
Soooo expensive! However, I got in for free since there was a travel industry day. Yayyyy me! It was fun, but there is not a ton of things to do. The rides are more about the special effects rather than speedy rollercoasters. Be careful of all the rides because pretty much all of them squirt water in your face. Seriously. The Backlot Tour is fun, but I've been on it so many times, that it's not as exciting as it used to be. I would say go if you've never been. But if you are looking for speedy roller coasters, try Disney or Knott's in Orange County instead. Universal is more about special effects and movie making.

We did get to meet the Grinch and take pictures with the "Who's" since they had "Grinchmas" going on. ;-)

Pantages Theater:
So this one's gonna cost you. However, you should definitely see a show here if you can. The theater is amazing. I saw Lion King there and also Wicked....TWICE! Both shows were amazing and the theater was beautiful.

Disney Soda Fountain & Studio Store:
Located on Hollywood Blvd near Hollywood & Highland. Fun old fashioned icecream parlor with a Disney flare.

***Just in case you are wanting a picture of the Hollywood is NOT lit up at night. Take your pictures during the day! I'm just saying....

If you would like to get close to the Hollywood sign, check out this website for the best places to view it: They show you directions to see the sign. I personally took the Beachwood Canyon one which leads into some really cool houses. I would definitely like to check out the Lake Hollywood one. And of course I've been to Hollywood & Highland but that is pretty far from the sign.

**The Capital Records building was built in 1956. It was the worlds first circular office building. It resembles a stack of records (vinyl 45's) on a turntable. The needle at the top has a red blinking light that blinks in Morse Code to spell out the word Hollywood. It has done so since the building opened in 1956.

There are a ton of other things to do while in LA/Hollywood. Melrose Ave has funky hip shops and cafes, Robertson Ave is famous and most likely filled with Papparazzi because of the famous expensive shops such as Kitson. There's Rodeo Drive, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hollywood & Highland, Grauman's Chinese Theater and the Fashion District are just a few more highlights.

Another thing to do is to just drive around. Drive up into the Hollywood Hills or Beverly Hills and gawk at the mansions!

Have fun discovering Old Hollywood!

Movies to see:
All of them! It's Hollywood biatches!
(However, The Holiday is a good one!)


Maine to Massachusetts...

The drive from Maine to Massachusetts was approximately 4 hours. Our longest drive so far. By the time we got to our hotel (which was right outside of Boston), it was too late to do anything. We grabbed some maps and brochures from the lobby and planned the next day.
The next morning, we decided to go to Plymouth. We went to Plimoth Plantation (yes, it's spelled correctly). Plimoth Plantation takes you back to the 1620's. You can also get tickets to go onto the Mayflower II which is near by. We did go on the Mayflower II which is a lifesize replica of the orginal. They even have actors staged around the Mayflower II in period clothing who don't go out of character. Any questions you have, they answer as if they were back on the actual Mayflower taking the journey from England to The New World. Crazy to think that there were 102 people on this tiny ship for so long!
We also went to see Plymouth Rock which is a short walk from the Mayflower II.
Mayflower II
Nutrition of the passengers....ek.
Cape Cod-
The same afternoon, we decided to drive out to Cape Cod. Apparently they practically have closed down for the season. It was tough to find anything open. Like at all! I took a really long time to find a place to have dinner. All of the restaurants were closed for the season. We finally found a restaurant where the bar section was open. The bartender explained that they close down for the whole season. It works out well for them because they are so busy during the summer with tourists.
Cape Cod is divided into a bunch of sections. We stopped in Hayannis and Chatham. Even though almost everything was closed, it was a nice drive and fun to see all of the little neighborhoods and main streets. We also found another lighthouse! Chatham Lighthouse. It was a great one with a nice view. Very windy though! Actually, all of the Lighthouses we saw were really windy. Duh, they are all on the water. ha ha.
Chatham Lighthouse
Near Chatham lighthouse
Chatham Lighthouse
Our last day!!!!! :*( We decided to go to Boston finally! Pronounced Bahston to the locals. Oh how I loved Bahston. Well, actually the only thing we did was go to Faneuil Hall Market Place.....but I got a real taste for the city. I absolutely loved the people and their accents. Everyone was cracking me up. The Market is filled with shops, restaurants, tourists, locals and street performers. There was also a farmer's market going on. That's where all the locals were! There was also a dog Halloween costume contest going on. They had some hilarious costumes out there.
Cheers! Where everybody knows your name....
Faneuil Hall Market Place
Pretty much the most awesome sign EVER!
I learned a few Bahston words for you:
Bahston- Boston
Chowda- Chowder
Lobsta- Lobster
Awesome. Can't wait to go back and visit!!!
So, that was the trip. After going to Faneuil Hall, it was time to go to the airport and drop off our car. We flew out of Boston on Jet Blue again to Long Beach. We arrived at about 9:30pm. By the time we got home, it was after 10. My little niece (2 years) waited up for us so she could see her mom and big sister. It was the longest they had ever been apart. My nieces were so excited to see each other. Don't worry, we brought the little one tons of presents so she wouldn't feel left out. Sure, when she's older, she will most likely be bitter that we didn't take her. But there is no way we could have done it with both of them at these ages. When she gets older, we will definitely take her on a nice trip too. We should actually take her to NY or Boston because she totally has an east coast accent. She calls her pink bear, "Pink Bayer". ha ha.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Happy New Year!

I know, I'm a little late but..... Happy New Year!!!!!

I hope you all get to go somewhere fun this year. Whether it's a European adventure, a trip to New York City or just a weekend getaway, I hope you have wonderful travels!

Don't let the economy get you down. Save your pennies and take a day or weekend trip. Learn something about a near-by city or your own city. (google can be helpful!) Learn about others. Just get out there and do something!

Take care and be safe in 2009!

Coming soon...... DAY TRIPS! (mainly because I'm poor and bored with no big trips planned!) haha. I've already taken some fun day trips and plan on taking more. I will let you know what I've been up to soon. ;-)

Ciao fellow world travelers!


Rocky coastlines, fresh seafood, loads of lighthouses and some amazing scenery.

Being as though we were here in October, it was the perfect time for the changing of the fall leaves. Bright orange, red and brown leaves were everywhere. I have to say, I knew the least about Maine before going on this trip. But the scenery was probably the most beautiful. I mean just from the freeway, all we could see were trees and bright leaves and blue lakes and rivers. It was amazing.

Portland Maine:

We decided to stop in Portland Maine. Again, we stopped at the Tourist Station and got our fill of maps and brochures.

Off of Highway 95, we took exit 44 towards route 1. We made a left at route 1 (Main Street). Right on Broadway and that took us all the way to two lighthouses. Bug Light and Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse. By this time, it was freezing out. (I'm trying to remember, but I believe it was in the low 40's) We had seen so many lighthouses at this point that basically I was kicked out of the car to take some pictures and that was that. Back into the car and back on our way.

I was actually able to walk out all the way to Bug Light. It was freaking freezing and windy, but for some reason I really wanted to go on it just for the reason that I could. On my way back, I could see my sister in law yelling at me to go back on so she could get a picture. It was absolutely freezing and water was splashing up under my feet. But hey, she got the picture!

Bug Light

Off to the next lighthouse which I do believe might be my favorite (definitely top 2). Portland Head Light near Fort Williams. This one is a must see. We all got out for this one.

Portland Head Light

While driving along the highway, we saw a lobster shack. It was so cute and very much what I had pictured to be in Maine. However, it was not open. Not sure if it was closed for the season or just because it was so early in the day.


We decided to head to Rockland, Maine. There was a downtown main street with shops, restaurants, museums, etc. We actually found a Puffin Visitor Center. It is a small gift shop/museum geared towards young children. They have a live video feed of Puffins and other sea birds being filmed 20 miles south of Rockland on Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge. They also have a movie about saving the Puffins, a crawl in Puffin burrow for kids, paper work and information regarding Puffins and adopting a Puffin and also small projects for kids to take home. My niece is a huge fan of animals and was thrilled to hang out here for a while. She even got a "Project Puffin" pin for her backpack. The proceeds go to saving the Puffins!

We also stopped by Rockland Cafe. Famous for their fish cakes. My mom and sister in law were dying for some "New England" clam chowder, so this seemed like the perfect spot. We were not looking for anything fancy. Just a typical small diner type place. Being as though, I do not particularly like seafood (but I really wanted to say I ate seafood in Maine), I decided to try some little shrimpys. (yes, I said "shrimpys") My mom and sister in law finally got their clam chowder.

My shrimpys......

Another near by lighthouse we stopped to visit was Owl's Head Lighthouse in Owl's Head Maine.

Owl's Head

Somewhere in Maine.....

Again, being that I work for Marriott, we stayed at a Marriott brand property. The Marriott Fairfield Inns & Suites in Brunswick. Free internet & parking! Woo hoo!

Only one night in Maine and then it was back down the coast to...... Massachusetts!