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.  

Monday, April 29, 2013

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Trying to Drink in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is known for it's Mormon and Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-Day Saints (LDS) influence, so when I went there I had to learn a bit about the church and break the social norms and have a drink.

My first stop for the was afternoon was the The Museum of Church History and Art.  I have to admit that being raised Catholic much of what I saw was similar to what I might have seen growing up, but with the subtle differences that separate the religions. 

The museum is quite large, spacious and the staff was friendly.  The museum was self guided, but you could also talk to any of the staff there to get more information. The information wasn't too heavy, a good level for a casual visitor.  You could go and spend a half hour there or two hours if you're more dedicated.  There are also several different displays to learn more about the history and the current state of the church.  It was a good museum to stop at if you're in Salt Lake City and want to learn some local history.

After the museum my group immersed ourselves in the Salt Lake City anti drinking culture at an Olive Garden.  My group was a mix of men and woman and only 4 of us ordered drinks.  Two guys ordered drinks and were no asked for ID.  The a woman ordered got "carded." They would not serve her a drink because she had an Australian Drivers License, but no Passport.  I then ordered my drink and was "carded" and served with no issue.

If we were anywhere else I would chalk it up to a female waitress giving preference to guys.  However, we were in Salt Lake City, a city known for strict and sometimes strange drinking laws.  Of course it may have been an anomaly, but it did feel a little suspicious to our whole group. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Abandoned Ship - Book Review

I recently finished the book Abandoned Ship: An intimate account of the Costa Concordia shipwreck by Benji Smith.  The book is the author's first hand account of the sinking of the Costa Concordia.

He starts out at the beginning, how he and his fiance, Emily, came to book this cruise as their honeymoon vacation.  He tells a little bit about his family and life before the cruise, it helps set the stage for the experience. His story ends with his writing of the book and includes everything in between. 

Their experience was in some ways probably pretty typical, and in other ways unique.  No, they were not on one of the first lifeboats.  They were on the rope bridge down the hull of the ship waiting to be rescued.

The book is authentic, told from the first person and expressing as much of the emotion from the time of the incident as possible.  For some, it might seem overly critical, or as though their was an agenda in writing the book, beyond telling the story. However, when you survive a ship wreck I think you're entitled to have an agenda against those who wrong you, if you so choose.  You're also entitled to fixate on whatever details help get you through that time.

I enjoy how he gives credit to everyone, not matter their role.  So whether all they did was keep someone else from panicing or if they arranged the rope bridge and saved hundreds of lives, he gives them credit for the work they did. Everyone has a role, and no judgement on what role was more important.  But, if they didn't contribute anything, he called them out. 

The story Benji tells is a good one for travelers and for Emergency Managers.  It's a cautionary tale about the difficulties you'll face during a major emergency, even when there are people who should be helping you. It will remind you to have copies of your passport and credit cards.  It will remind you to be empathetic and compassionate to those in need.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Rafting the Snake River

On Contiki's Northern Adventure after our night in Jackson Hole we had the opportunity to go white water rafting on the Snake River.  Never one to miss an adventure I jumped at the opportunity.  I did go white water rafting once before on the Delaware River years before so I had an idea of what I was getting myself into, but this was still FUN!

Our morning started with a ride to their shop and getting fitted with wet suits and shoes for the day.  I do recommend both, particularly earlier in the season when the water is colder as they will help keep you a bit warmer.

My boats guide was Alex and he was great!  He gave us all the directions on where to sit, when to row and when to relax.  He told us fun stories about his history as a guide, and a few of his friend's funny stories too.  He encouraged us to all jump in the river too, and my boat was the only one where everyone jumped in.  Oh, and no one fell in by accident either!

We did have class 3 rapids, which is what I experienced on the Delaware River.  I would suggest that for most people class 3 rapids are just fine.  If you have young kids or less mobile people then it might be a bit much.  But for the average person class 3 will be fun, but not too hard.  Spring is the best time for class 3 rapids, because of the melting snow in the mountains.  Unfortunately, melting snow makes for cold water.

And so for the bad part of white water rafting.  It's COLD!  When you're floating along the river all is well, but then you start hitting the rougher water and you get splashed.  Eventually you get soaked and it's cold.  But then the sun comes out and warms you up.  Once you're warm, you get soaked again.  It's a cruel cycle...  But it's fun and invigorating.  And just when I thought I couldn't take it anymore, Alex told us we were going to pull over and get out.  Our ride was about an hour and a half. Perfection!

I don't remember the name of the company we used.  I tried looking on the internet, but still couldn't find it.  And since we never got our pictures or our bracelets for jumping into the river, I decided I wasn't going to kill myself over it.  I'm not sure whose fault that is, Contiki or the rafting company.  It was only the second trip of the season that Contiki used this company and obviously they hadn't worked out all the kinks.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Betty In the Sky With A Suitcase

Betty In The Sky With a Suitcase is a podcast I've been listening to for about 6 years.  Betty is a Flight Attendant for a major US airline and she does a (usually) monthly podcast about flight attendant experiences and her travels.

Her podcasts consist of interviews with other flight attendants and pilots about their experiences.  They range from crazy passengers to silly things that the crew does to each other, throw in an occasional bad experience (emergency landing with a happy ending) and she's covering all the bases.

She also tells some stories of her own experiences traveling, and she covers a lot of ground. From Easter Island to well, really after Easter Island do I need to expand on more on exotic places to go?

Betty is an absolute sweetheart, I hope I meet her on my flights one day.  I know she'll take good care of me, and maybe give me a laugh too.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I Dislocated My Hip on a Horse in Jackson, WY

After finishing up in Yellowstone National Park it was time to head to Jackson, Wyoming.

We arrived at our hotel late so we had to head straight to our trail ride and cookout.  The setting was marvelous, in the valley at the foot of the Jackson Hole Resort.  We quickly lined up to mount our horses and set off in groups of about 8 people.  My horse was Pepper and he was very good.  Gentle and well behaved.  He just liked to rub up against some of the trees from time to time.  About halfway through my hips were killing me, every step of the second half of the hour long ride hurt.  But the view was fantastic as we climbed up and back down a trail through the hills of Jackson.

After our ride I did manage to get off Pepper under my own power, and managed to walk around a bit too.  I guess I didn't really dislocate my hip, but it felt like it.  We waited for all the groups to finish their trail rides and then took wagons to a secluded area for a cook out, complete with Cowboys.  They made us chicken, corn, tomato salad, corn bread, lemonade, watermelon  some beef and a fruit cobbler for dessert.  The food was good, and it was served on tin plates, and we sat at picnic tables.  It was a lot of fun.

But it only got more fun, we then had the chance to learn how to rope a steer (not a real steer, that's cruel), chop would and play horse shoes.  Wood chopping, not my thing!  But if I tried I could make a career roping steers.  I think I'll stick with my day job though.  It was a lot of fun and as a group activity, allowing us to bond in a different way then you do while riding a bus.

Later that night we decided to hit the town.  We wanted to go to the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, but it was closed for a special event.  Boo!  We did go to another random bar and some of the underage girls did get in, which was good for us.

But the gem of the city was the taxi drivers, yes, the taxi drivers.  I had different ones going to and from the bar, but they were both nice friendly guys happy to talk about Jackson.  We learned a bit about the economy, the price of houses and life there.  It would be a great place to live, but I can't afford it.  I'll have to find myself another place to live. :(

As a place to visit though, even just the small glimpse we had said a lot about the place, it was beautiful, but still had the large town/small city feel.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Getting Sick at Disney World

On my December 2012 trip to Disney World I got to have a new experience, getting sick.  Even better, I got to see this from two different angles.

First, my sister gets arthritis in her ankle.  Second, I got a virus.

My sister has had trouble with arthritis in her ankle since a few Disney World trips ago.  She was preparing for a day at the Animal Kingdom and was in too much pain to go and instead went to Urgent Care.  On this trip it was less dramatic.  Her ankle had started to bother her after 2 days, she got information on the Urgent Care and we decided to go in the afternoon.  Too bad she missed one major bit of information, you can schedule an appt. We ended up waiting for 3 hours for a 15 minute appointment.

So here's the info you need for Urgent Care at Disney World.  Centra Care is the Urgent Care centers in the area. There are 4 in the area of Disney World and they offer shuttle service to and from Disney World, just check with security or your resort front desk and they can make the arrangements for you.  If you're sick and need to see the doctor, but don't need to go NOW, you can schedule an appointment.  I got the impression that they often have waits, but 3 hours isn't the norm.

Here is what Centra Care treats: Broken bones, cuts & scratches, coughs, cold, flu, sore throats, ear infections, stomachaches, fevers, pneumonia, vomiting, diarrhea, sinus infections, asthma, allergies, rashes, headaches, back pain and much more....

While they can fill the prescriptions that they write, not all of them have a wide variety of medications on hand.  If you are visiting the world and know you need heavy duty medication then you should mention that when picking a location (if you have a choice).  The location (off property near Animal Kingdom) we went to had the medication my sister needed, but there was also a Wal Mart across the street.  There is another location near Crossroads (main entrance to The World) and I know there are pharmacies there too, so there is a work around, but depending on what is wrong, it's far from ideal.

As for me my virus was less dramatic.  Too bad it started to set in later in the day AFTER my sister and I had already been to Centra Care.  It started with some mild nausea (fried chicken might not have been my best idea) and exhaustion, pretty typical cold like symptoms.  Of course that night we went to a special viewing of the Osborne Lights.  I really wanted to have fun there, and I tried for my sister. But I was miserable.

The rest of the 2 days after that was kinda similar.  Take medication and feel ok, then get knocked on my ass at night while at an Illuminations Dessert Party and the airport.  I considered telling my sister to go off on her own one day, but felt bad, and I was afraid she wouldn't want to go on her own.  So I kept going, it is Disney after all.  It probably wasn't my best move.  I'm not sure if I had a virus to start with, or if I over did it in those 2 and a half days, but by the time I got home I was at the wanting to die stage... 

I'm not sure what the answer to that dilemma is.  Although I felt crappy for a night and a day, buy the time I realized it was possibly more then a cold I was already on the way home.  But I did make use of the store at Pop Century and bought whatever cold medicine they had.  I would suggest that if you're picky about medicine or feel you might be getting a cold before you leave, then it's worth it to bring medicine from home.  The on-property stores don't have a large selection. 

Do you have any stories of getting sick on vacation?  What's the biggest issue?