About Me

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I'm a 30 something who loves to travel.  I have a full time job and enjoy writing (or blogging) about my travels.  I've traveled through several countries in Europe as well as Russia and Egypt.  I also enjoy domestic travel in the United States, including Disney.  My long term travel goal is to do a round the world trip.  

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Day off

I'm taking today off from posting.  I got a new laptop last week and have quite a bit of work to do setting it up.  Have a good week!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cruise Ship Changes Needed?

As I'm sure you heard, last week the Carnival Triumph had a little fire in the engine and some lack of electricity problems.  Ok, a fire and lose of engines, floating adrift in the Gulf of Mexico.

Most of what I know about the conditions on the ship I learned from 20/20 this past weekend.  No power on the ship, no bathrooms, no hot food, sleeping on the deck.  Onion sandwiches I could deal with, sleeping on the deck, that's fine too.  But the bathroom, that's where I draw the line. Using red hazardous waste bags as your bathroom while there are overflowing toilets, that's a health issue.  It's compounded by the fact that the Carnival Splendor had similar issues 2 years ago when they had an engine fire.

The other thing that was interested is that the ship was about 3 days closer to Cozumel then it was to Mobile, Alabama.  But, they decided to go to Mobile, allegedly because not all passengers had passports.  While that is a legitimate concern, and was probably a factor in the decision to go to Mobile, I'm sure there was a lot more going into that decision. 

I also found it interesting that 2 ships in the area met the Triumph and gave some sort of assistance.  But I wonder if there is anyway passengers could have been offloaded to those ships.  I'm sure there are a ton of issues with space on the other ships, where they are in their itineraries, how to choose who gets offloaded.  But when your choice is 4 days at sea in squalor, then sleeping on the floor of a lounge on another ship doesn't seem like such a bad option.

I have one recommendation, which I have no idea of the feasibility of, but it certainly sounds reasonable. 

How about isolated back-up generation that can power emergency lighting and toilets.  Seriously, how many ships have to go adrift without the toilets working before we realize that this problem needs to be addressed?

I'm not going to swear off cruising because of this or the other recent events in the industry.  But, I'm starting to wonder about Carnival's ability to handle emergencies. 

How about you, are you reconsidering cruising?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Yellowstone - Yellowstone Falls and West Thumb

Moving past the less attractive sites of Mud Volcano and Mammoth Hot Springs to some of the nicest spots in Yellowstone today I'll talk about Yellowstone Falls and West Thumb.

Yellowstone Falls are beautiful, my picture of them even made it my bathroom.  Yes, that is actually a compliment, it was not easy to find the perfect picture that was serene, beautiful and the right colors to hang in my bathroom.  At the falls there is an overlook/photospot, there are a few stairs here, but you can see the falls without climbing the stairs, it's just not a great view from there.  For the more adverturesome there is also a hike here.  I am not a hiker, if you've been reading this blog for a while you'll know hiking is not my thing and I actually have a fear of hiking down hill, falling to my death is NOT on my bucket list.  The hike is about 45 minutes and not too strenuous.  There is a bit of up and down hill, but if I can do it, then the average healthy person can do it too.  But it does offer some great views and a breathe of fresh air.  I did skip the extra bit where you go down close to the falls, mostly because I wasn't sure I would make it back to the bus on time, the people who went said the hill was pretty steep and the view wasn't that much better.  Of course this hike makes more sense if you have someone to pick you up at the end.  I believe there is a bus system at Yellowstone, but I don't have a clue how it works, but it may be an option.

The West Thumb Geyser Basin is another beautiful spot at Yellowstone.  Although this is a "geyser basin" the area isn't known for its geyser activity, instead it has colorful, deep and really hot pools of water.  We stopped at the Abyss and Black Pools.  The pools are beautiful and unique, and just a treat to see.  This area also provides a great view of Yellowstone Lake.

Yellowstone Falls and the West Thumb Geyser Basin should be on everyones list of places to stop at while in Yellowstone.  They are beautiful and offer totally different landscapes and pretty ones at that. They are also very different landscapes then Mud Volcano and Mammoth Hot Springs.

Have you been to either?  Which is your favorite?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Podcast Recommendation: Disney Dish

The Unofficial Guide's Disney Dish with Jim Hill is a podcast that's been around for about a year and a half.  It obviously features Jim Hill, but also Len Testa of the Unofficial Guide and TouringPlans.com. 

In this series of podcasts they explore the history of the parks. All the history.  From the original idea of Walt to the current attempts to upgrade areas of the parks to the ideas that imaginears are exploring for the future of the parks.  Muppets, Cars Land, Marvel, Star Wars and films being created?  Yes, they're all mentioned at some point. 

Although the podcast starts out in Disney World, they do have a whole series on Disneyland too.  Maybe one day they'll make it to one of the parks outside the US too.

If you're into the history of the parks, even as a casual fan, you'll love this podcast.   

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Horrific Dinoland

I've been to Animal Kingdom a couple times, though I do skip it on many trips. I somehow always missed Dinoland though.  Now that I've been there, I'll be leaving it off my list in the future.

I entered Dinoland from Asia, near Dinorama, an area that can be best described as a carnival on a bad trip. It's loud and flashy. It seemed cool at first, but by the time I walked out of there I was already getting a headache. When I looked in from the opposite side I saw that a lot of care was taken in the themeing, but they really went overboard by making it an unbearable place to be by the parents of the children who might enjoy it.

Then of course there was the ride Dinosaur, even after looking at the map to find where the ride was I had to look again because the area was so poorly marked. And the ride was even worse. I'm pretty adventursome about rides, I'm only limited now by my getting old and my body not keeping up like it used to. I road the Indiana Jones ride last year in Disneyland which has the same ride vehicle, I loved it. This ride though was terrible. It was dark, jerky and then dinosaurs jumped out at you, it wasn't scary, it was annoying. The best is the picture of me on the ride, I actually look irritated, as did the other people in their pictures.

Disney, perhaps this is a better area for Avatar land?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Travel Tip: Labels

Last year I went on a couple trips, one was long, the rest were short.  But no matter the length of your trip managing email is difficult.  Lets face it, most email you get is probably not a priority.  So weeding through your email can be a chore on vacation if you don’t have an effective way to do it.  

One of the ways I manage email is by using Gmail Labels.  Yes, it does require you to use Gmail, but as it’s such a robust program you should at least consider switching to it.  And it’s not as hard as you might think to switch.  You can keep your old email account and have Gmail import your email.  You’ll never have to notify anyone.

Why Gmail?  The label system that if offers.  Remember that moment when you realized you could make folders in your email?  Labels are like folders on steroids.  

I guess I should first mention that instead of deleting, Gmail leans towards archiving emails.  It hides them away from your view, but keeps them incase you need to reference them.  Yes, you can still delete emails, but since the memory that Gmail allows you to use is so large it will be years and years before you’ll NEED to delete.  

So back to labels: similar to folders, but cooler. You get an email, you read it, don’t need it now, but don’t want to delete it.  But you’re not sure which of your “folders” you want to put it into, well with Gmail you don’t have to choose, you can put as many labels on it as you need.  Then when you’re looking for it you can click on any of those labels you used to easily find the email.  

How does this apply to your travels?  Well when you get those emails that you don’t need on vacation, but might need when you get home – now you can label them for easy reference when you’re home.  Or maybe it’s emails from the stores you frequent.  You see the email, label it, archive it and move on.  If an occasion comes that you need that coupon code, it’s easy to find.   Now you can focus on the emails from friends and family asking if it’s true that you got robbed in London and need them to wire you cash.  

You can set up filters that will automatically label emails (you can also have them auto archived if you have a crazy ex-boyfriend who wont stop email you).  Or you can add the label on when the emails arrive.   I have a lot of automatic labeling done, and it make it easy to archive emails when I’m on vacation, knowing they are not lost, but also not distracting me from the important emails.

If you want more information on how to set up labels, Google has a simple set of directions here.