Blogs > Millennial Traveler

New and traditional ways of exploring the globe, and your own backyard.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Girl with a Pearl Earring Painting Coming to New York City's Frick Collection

I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned this on my blog before, but I collect postcards. Especially, postcards of my favorite artworks.

I started this beautiful, cheap, but slightly-obsessive collection (everybody's gotta have a hobby, right?) when I was studying abroad in London in the spring of 2004. I took an Art History class where we visited the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the British Museum, the Wallace Collection, and more. But at the start of the semester our instructor told us that we would be quizzed on the paintings at the end of the year and it might be wise to purchase postcards so we'd have the paintings/pieces of art, the artists, and the years they were created on hand.

Well, nearly a decade later, and I have well over 100 of these postcards. There's the Venus de Milo from the Louvre, Munch's The Scream in Oslo, the statue of David in Florence, Byzantine religious paintings on the walls of stone churches in Turkey, postcards from the local Clark and Norman Rockwell museums.

My rule, however, is that I can only buy postcards of work I've actually seen. I think I've made on exception to this rule and I'm about to be able to correct it. While in The Netherlands, I purchased a card for the Girl with a Pearl Earring painting. There was much art and other attractions to be seen in The Netherlands - Rembrandts at the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum (which is not always pronounced the way you'd think) , the Anne Frank house, to name a few. But I never made it to see Johannes Vermeer's painting in The Hague, mainly because I only had time to travel to Amsterdam (something else I hope to correct in the near future).

But the painting is now traveling - for the first time in a long time - to the Frick Collection in New York City. It'll be on display from Oct. 22 to Jan. 19. It looks like admission will be about $20.

And I'm thinking this is a great excuse for a visit to NYC, and much cheaper than flying. I'll be sure to send you a postcard.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

New York State-made Products Available at Thruway Service Station

At the New Baltimore service area, travelers will now be able to try products from Columbia, Genesee, Franklin, Madison, Ontario, Wyoming, Broome, and Alleghany counties through the state's Taste NY products.

Here's the press release:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the New Baltimore Service Area on the New York State Thruway is now the first location in the state to offer ‘Taste NY’ products year round. Additional locations will soon open at other Thruway service areas in Western and Central New York.

“With thousands of motorists traveling along I-87 every day, the New Baltimore Service Area was an easy pick for the first location to offer Taste NY products year-round,” Governor Cuomo said. “The Taste NY initiative is designed to highlight the tremendous products that are grown and produced right here in New York State, and doing so along major sources of travel is sure to grow the list of loyal consumers and support the state’s agriculture, culinary, and tourism industries.”

In his 2013 State of the State address, Governor Cuomo announced the launch of New York’s largest tourism campaign in decades. ‘Taste NY’ is a key component of the nearly $60 million plan to grow New York industries, create jobs and attract even more visitors to the Empire State while promoting New York grown or produced products.

The Thruway’s selection of ‘Taste NY’ products is available for purchase inside the plaza’s Travel Mart convenience store.

“The Thruway is proud to be among the first locations to offer ‘Taste NY’ products,” said Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas J. Madison. “Since we are one of New York’s vital transportation arteries, these products will be directly marketed to hundreds of thousands of people using the Thruway. We look forward to expanding this program to more of our service areas in the future.”

The New Baltimore Service Area is operated by HMS Host Corporation and was chosen because of its high volume and accessibility from both north and southbound lanes. HMS Host remodeled the plaza’s Travel Mart to create a "store within a store" to highlight the New York products.

The goods that are currently available for purchase at the New Baltimore Service Area include products from:
    · Ronnybrook Farms (Columbia County)
    · Yancey’s Fancy New York Artisan Cheese (Genesee County)
    · McCadam Cheese (Franklin County)
    · Nelson Farms (Madison County)
    · Red Jacket Orchards (Ontario County)
    · Merle Maple Farm (Wyoming County) 
    · Mad Foodz (Allegany County)
    · Joe’s Jerky (Oneida County)
    · Rob Salamida Company (Broome County)
    · New York State Maple Producers (statewide)
    · New York Apple Association (statewide)

The New Baltimore Service Area’s Travel Mart is open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. The travel plaza is located at milepost 127 N/S on I-87 and is accessible to both northbound and southbound motorists.

Pay It Forward Reinstated at Toll Road in Georgia

Southern hospitality apparently extends even to the highways where there has been a long-held tradition of paying the 50-cent toll of the person behind you.

The practice was ceased by Georgia's State Road & Tollway Authority due to drivers wondering if the toll booth workers sometimes kept the toll for themselves.

But, as announced last week, drivers will once again be able to brighten someone's day with a 50-cent donation at the toll booth - or at least until November when the road will be toll-free and the booths will be demolished. (boy, I'd love to see that happen in NYS, but I won't hold my breath)

According to the press release:

“With only a few months left until the tolls are removed from GA 400, Governor Deal felt it was important that we look at the toll payment policy to see if there might be a way to reinstate this long-held tradition of courtesy payments,” Tomlinson said. “Working with staff, we have devised a workaround that protects cashiers from erroneous complaints, while allowing customers to pay tolls for their fellow motorists, confident that other drivers will benefit from their generosity.”
The policy allowing drivers to “pay it forward” will remain in effect until the scheduled ending of tolls on GA 400 the week before Thanksgiving, said Tomlinson.

A little confusing though is the fact that on Aug. 16 (the date of the above press release) other news outlets reported that drivers could no longer pay it forward. I guess I'll go with the state agency's release.

Buzzfeed's List of Military-Tested Tropical Islands

I've recently gotten into the habit of reading Buzzfeed on a quasi-daily basis. They're definitely amusing - and there's just something about a good, well-illustrated list that I love (and it seems I'm not alone).

One of their lists from today made me think about a documentary the bf and I just watched on Netflix called: "Secrets of the Dead - The World's Biggest Bomb." It's about bomb testing at an island called Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, approximately 3,000 mile west of Hawaii.

(the Island of Culebra, photo from Buzzfeed)

Know where that island is today? At the bottom of the ocean. A hydrogen bomb in 1951 blew the island up.

But (most of) these islands, as listed on the Buzzfeed list "12 Beautiful Islands the US Military Has Tested Weapons On", are still around. They also include Bikini Atoll.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Camping at NY State Parks

If you're like me, you tend to do a lot of last minute planning. That is, if you plan at all.
When traveling, for the most part, I like to at least have my lodging planned out. And I just found a pretty cool section of the NYS Parks website which helps you find a campsite when you're planning for a last-minute weekend trip.
From the state camping reservation homepage, you can click on "Camping this Weekend" which then lets you narrow down your search by region (ie Finger Lakes, Catskills, Adirondacks, Palisades, Long Island,etc). It then lists all of the state campgrounds in that area and shows which ones are available.
That's how I found the Sampson State Park along Seneca Lake.

(Buttermilk Falls this past weekend - the water was *freeeeeezing*, but the falls are pretty)

Of course, when I first started looking I wanted to stay at Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca since I had heard some good things about their water hole. But I am so glad we stayed at Sampson.
My boyfriend and I were able to enjoy Buttermilk Falls during the day and then drove to Sampson that evening. Sampson has a beach, pier, concession stand, playground, tennis court, and recreation hall. There's even a military museum since the site was the second largest naval training station in the country.
The state park is along the wine trail and right across the street from an area that is known for its white deer.
Our campsite itself was a good size with trees, a fire pit/grill, and picnic table. The restrooms/showers were a short walk away, as was the beach shore from the site.

(Our site)

What I found was that just because a site is well-known or popular does not make it the best. I'm sure Buttermilk Falls is a great campground but I'll probably never know from personal experience since I'll never plan that far in advance to get a site there. ;) And I'm OK with that. I look forward to discovering other places, like Sampson State Park, that I had never heard of before and finding out - for myself - that they're pretty amazing.

(Sunset at Sampson State Park along Seneca Lake)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Chicago

The skyline in Chicago is amazing, with the shoreline of Lake Michigan and the eclectic array of architecture from modern skyscrapers to Art Deco and Gothic style buildings.

And did you know the Sears Tower (or Willis Tower now) is 283 Obamas tall?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Best Job in the World? Chief World Explorer

Well, this is MY dream job. And, I'm not going to lie, I already know what I'm going to say for the 60-second video/application I'm going to submit sometime before Sept. 15.

Here's part of the description from Jauntaroo for their job opening:
"One extraordinary candidate will visit destinations around the world, create content for Jauntaroo and share the incredible experiences through social media and webisodes. As if relaxing on beaches and uncovering fascinating cultures weren't enough, we'll pay you $100,000 to do it!"

Pretty much, you'll get a six figure salary AND get to visit between 30 and 50 countries in one year.

When I read the original headline on LinkedIn about a "dream job" it reminded me instantly of the 2009 island caretaker deal - which I forgot to apply for. (though I guess some islands are still looking) Apparently, the Jauntaroo modeled the job off of that due to the huge popularity and exponential increase in web hits. And it worked - they've probably gotten at least 100 hits just from me in the past couple hours.

Seriously though, I'll tell you this much - this time I'm not forgetting to apply.

Here's more details.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dave & Busters Opens in Albany

The new Dave & Busters in Crossgates is set to open this Saturday.

Check out the press release:


Games, Sports and New American Menu add up to REALLY BIG Fun
ALBANY, NY  – Dave & Buster’s, America’s leading venue that combines dining and entertainment, opens in Albany on August 24. The 33,000 square foot restaurant and game room is located in Crossgates Mall in Albany, NY.
The company was founded in 1982 to provide a high-quality, high-energy venue where families and adults can “Eat Drink Play®” all in one location. Currently, Dave & Buster’s is the largest national chain offering a full casual dining menu and a wide selection of non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages together with an extensive assortment of entertainment attractions, including skill- and sports-oriented games, video games, interactive simulators and other traditional games.
The Albany restaurant is the 64th store in the chain, which is currently expanding by four to six locations each year. Other locations in New York are in Buffalo, Syracuse, West Nyack, New York City and on Long Island.
“We’re thrilled to bring our unique brand of food and fun to the Capital Region,” said Dan Johnson, Dave & Buster’s Albany general manager. “The new Dave & Buster’s Albany offers something for everyone with a great variety of dining and entertainment options.”
The restaurant, game and special event areas will be open seven days a week SundayThursday: 11 a.m. to midnight and FridaySaturday: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Dave & Buster’s chef-crafted menus combine fun and flavor as well. Popular items include Black Jack Burgers, Baked Chicken and Shrimp Alfredo, Bacon Wrapped Beef Medallions & Grilled Shrimp and the very popular adult signature cocktails including Snowcones, Walk the Plank and Million Dollar Margarita. The restaurant has special menus for children and people with allergies.
Popular new games include Temple Run, Cut the Rope, Dark Escape, Dream Raiders, Harpoon Lagoon, Dizzy Chicken and Milk Jug Toss. Guests can play to win tickets in the arcade for a variety of prizes including iPods, Nintendo games, grills, sports items, stuffed animals and even an electric guitar. Traditional games like bowling, shuffleboard and billiards are combined with newer games such as Derby Owners Club-World Edition, Fruit Ninja, Guitar Hero, Dance Revolution and Big Bass Wheel.
More than two dozen large-screen, high-definition televisions provide the perfect backdrop for everyone’s favorite college sporting events and professional games. The Albany location is also available for private parties, birthdays and corporate functions. Structured team building activities, company challenges and the ultimate quest are popular programs to help build corporate camaraderie.
About Dave & Buster’s
Dave & Buster’s was founded in 1982 and is headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Dave & Buster’s operates 63 large-venue, high-volume restaurant/entertainment complexes throughout North America that offer a food- and fun-filled experience to adults and families. The exciting environment of the Dave & Buster’s complex also provides the perfect setting for corporate and group events. Each Dave & Buster’s offers an impressive selection of high-quality food and beverage items, combined with the latest games and attractions. Guests can play state-of-the-art simulators and games of skill they can’t play anywhere else. Visit

Top Random Road Trip Attractions

I was reading a list this morning which named 7 top roadside attractions in the country and on the list was something that is only about 1.5 hours away from Albany, NY - the Petrified Creatures museum in Richfield Springs.

With summer road trip season winding down, it made me think about what would be on my own top random roadside attractions.

Here's my list (so far):

5. The Corn Palace - Mitchell, South Dakota
Mitchell is a nice place to stop on a long trip and not far from Mount Rushmore/ the Badlands. The exterior of the Corn Palace has murals that change annually and the interior is used for community and regional events.
4. Pioneer Auto Show  - Murdo, South Dakota
There are a lot of random things to see along I-90 in the Midwest. But, they can also be educational. For example, before this museum - which also has interesting collections of 80s lunch boxes, an Elvis motorcycle, and lots and lots of cars - I didn't know what the General Lee was. (I know, I know...)
3. Jolly Green Giant - Blue Earth, Minnesota
Standing at over 55 feet tall, this thing certainly makes an impression. There's also a cute Dairy Queen and place for a picnic nearby.
2. Cadillac Ranch - Amarillo, Texas
Just as you start to think there's nothing more to Texas on Route 40 than open/empty space, dirt roads to nowhere, abandoned gas stations, and an eternal smell of cow manure, you reach this interesting artistic installation just outside Amarillo.

1. SPAM Museum - Austin, Minnesota
Yes, Virginia, there is a SPAM Museum. As sure as there is pork and ham, the SPAM museum lives forever just off I-90 as one of the most memorable and fantastical places on earth. And my lone regret from my road trip: that we didn't get there in time to go inside!
Honorable Mentions:
The Big Texan Ranch, Amarillo, TX, and their 72-oz steak challenge (which, OK, I also might regret not doing)
Crazy Horse Memorial, Custer Co., SD, which should really be considered more of a main road trip destination but it's just not quite there yet - despite the unfinished monument being so big it could fit Mt. Rushmore inside it's head
Wall Drug, Wall, SD, cannot be missed. No, seriously, there is no way you could miss this roadside, larger-than-life business. They spend about $400,000 annually in billboards along I-90 and you can tell. They're everywhere. You want to go to the shop just to make the signs stop.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Google Treks

So, maybe you'll never be able to actually hike the Grand Canyon or to the Delicate Arch. But you may still be able to digitally.

Check out this video from Google about their Treks feature - which seems similar to the Streetview stuff but it's completely off the street.

(from a 2010 trip to the Grand Canyon)

(And, while we're on the subject, if I had to guess - I'd say the photo on that initial Treks page is from Arches National Park)

Must-Have Foods on a Trip to Europe

As far as I'm concerned, there are certain foods you have to at least try - and more than likely enjoy - while on a Eurotrip:

1) Crepes: It doesn't matter if it's filled with Nutella and fruit, or savory items like French cheeses and fresh meats. You have to have a crepe. My favorite spot would be while enjoying the view at Notre Dame in Paris. Sure, it's touristy but...*psst* you are a tourist.

2) A fresh baguette sandwich: While we're in France, I'll emphasize this favorite too. I think what I love about French food - and in many instances European food, in general - is the simplicity and freshness. There's nothing like picking up a freshly-made baguette, hopping on a train, and enjoying the meal/snack while watching the beautiful landscape go by.

3) Italian spaghetti: Sure you can make it at home, but not like this. A thick, fresh batch of spaghetti - maybe with a bolognese sauce - Perfecto! (Disclaimer: my family is Italian so I may be biased)

4) Gelato: Again, while we're in Italy... walking down a cobblestone street in Florence on a hot, sunny June day and you're hardest decision to make is between the hazelnut and chocolate gelato or the chocolate pistachio gelato. There is nothing like eating gelato with Tuscany as your backdrop. Nothing.

5) Spaztle: This little-known noodle is wunderbar! It hails from southern Germany and is an egg noodle that tastes amazing with anything gravy and/or schnitzel. Mountains, beer, and delicious noodles - it's a beautiful thing. (the spatzle at The Biergarten in Albany ain't bad either)

6) Chips: No, not American chips. British chips. Or fries, if you will. Getting chips in England is very similar to getting a slice of pizza in New York City. It's something that you do when it's late and you're pissed (aka drunk). But there are a few more condiments available on British chips including vinegar and mayonaise - ya know, for when you're not drunk and want to enjoy the fried goodness.

7) Raw herring and onions: Now we're getting to the slightly less mainstream portion of the list - or at least odd-sounding portion. But, I kid you not, it is delicious. I had it in Amsterdam but you can also find it in parts of Germany and Sweden.

8) Haggis: For sheeps bladders and giggles, I figured I would add this to the list. It looks gross and, in my opinion, tastes even worse - but, while in Scotland you probably should try this traditional dish. For me, one memory forever engrained in my mind is of a British child on holiday with his family who innocently looked over at my haggis in Edinburgh and said, "Mum, that looks like poo."

You probably noticed that a lot of these foods, for me, have memories associated with them. Because, in the end, your favorite food or snacks really comes down to a lot of factors - sure taste and quality play a role - but a lot relies on who you were with, where you were, and your emotions and attitude at the time.

I hope you enjoy finding your own favorite Eurofoods!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Chinese Pod Hotel

It's an attack of the pod people. Er...pod hotel.
(Maybe that's where the pod people switch your body?)

This actually sounds like a pretty cool idea. For just $10 you get a bed, TV, and wifi. All conveniently located in a bed-sized pod.

The capsule hotel is not a new idea. It seems to have originated in Japan in the 1970s. And there's some interesting etiquette associated with using this form of accomodation.These popular capsules are between $30 and $50 in Japan (which seems kinda steep actually).

But it is now taking off in China at a cheaper rate.

(from a story on the Bennington Banner site)

Don't let the Pod Hotel in NYC fool you. It's not quite the same small style - but certainly looks swankily non-spacious. Same for Pod 51 Hotel. And the Yotel. They all sound like pretty cool alternatives to a regular overpriced NYC hotel room though (but still are around $200/night).

I wouldn't mind seeing the pod possibility in the US. It'd be kinda like a sci-fi hostel.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Summer Bucket List

I'm digging Crush 105.7's Top 10 Things to Do Before the Summer Ends list.

It includes going to the Track, going to Lake George, and going tubing, among other things.

My own personal list includes going to Seneca Lake for a winery tour, seeing Shrek at the Park Playhouse in Albany, being in 'toga on Travers (not necessarily at the track), going to the Jersey Shore and going to Long Island.

I'm already looking forward to fall though - I really want to hike a few more ADK high peaks, and I'd rather do that with cooler temps and less humidity.

(The Hudson River)

Airline Merger Proposal Results in Anti-Trust Case

The U.S. federal government is telling American Airlines and US Airways that they can not pass go and cannot collect (well over) $200 in a merger action which could lead to a possible monopoly.

I guess we'll see if anyone does end up in jail as the anti-trust case proceeds.

The actual deal would be worth about $11 billion. It has, however, been backed by a federal judge and was approved by the EU, according to the BBC.

The action stems from the U.S. Department of Justice believing that the merger would result in higher prices and more power over the airline industry.

Monday, August 12, 2013

New Ski Trail at Whiteface Mountain

Ski season is apparently about 3.5 months away in the Northeast. (And it kinda felt like it last night as I was waiting for the Perseid Meteor Shower. Brrr.)

Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid - about 2.5 hours from Albany in the Adirondacks - is putting in a new glade, or ski trail, at an expert level.

I'm not much of a skier - I partially learned at Whiteface but got stuck on top of the mountain due to a power outage and I haven't been back - but Whiteface (the fifth tallest mountain in the state) is very beautiful. And Lake Placid is a cool visit with all the Olympic venues, including Whiteface.

(from a hike several years ago to the top of Whiteface with my friend Amy)

You can ski on part of it in the winter - I think it's technically Little Whiteface - and the other part is great for hiking or driving up in the summer/fall.

And, in a few months, you can enjoy some new skiing at the mountain, which has the most vertical east of the Rockies.

Here's more info:

WILMINGTON, N.Y. --- It’s August, but the skiing and riding season at Whiteface Mountain, in Wilmington, N.Y., is not too far off. Weather permitting the first day of the season is scheduled to begin, Friday, Nov. 29.
This season, the Olympic mountain will debut a new (and as yet un-named) glade on Lookout Mountain. The 1,500 foot long expert glade will be cut half-way down Hoyt’s High and will also connect the Summit Chair lift.
The development of the new glade is expected to begin this week. Once completed, the glade will add an additional 4.7 acres to the mountain’s already 283 acres of skiable terrain and 3,430 of vertical, the most vertical east of the Rockies. This is the first new trail added to Whiteface Mountain in more than five years.
“We’re pretty excited about this plan. It’s the resort’s first new trail since the opening of Lookout Mountain in 2008,” said New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) president/CEO Ted Blazer. “Last winter the mountain added snowmaking to Hoyt’s High and this will make another exciting addition that will enhance our guests’ overall experience at the mountain.”
Other mountain improvements include the addition of 35 low energy snow guns that will provide efficient snow coverage on Easy Street, Broadway and Excelsior. The mountain has also purchased an energy efficient boom fan snow gun that will be used to cover the mountain’s Lower Valley trail.
“Our overall goal is to always improve upon our guests’ experience, while at the same time use less energy and be more efficient. The purchasing of the 35 additional guns and the boom snow gun keeps us moving in that direction,” added the mountain’s general manager Aaron Kellett.
A new Pisten Bully 600 Winch Cat has also been added to Whiteface’s fleet of cats and groomers.

Why Don't Americans Take More Vacation Time?

This man's article covers an interesting topic - one that is probably more complex than you'd think which makes it hard to answer.

Why don't Americans take more vacations?

Google the topic and a bunch pops up:
~ that we should take more vacation since it improves productivity at work.
~ that in the current economic times we, Americans, are scared to take vacations for fear of seeming like we're not doing our job to the fullest.
~ that we get very few vacation days - compared with other countries - and yet we still don't use them all (we gave up $67 billion worth of vacation days in 2010 and, meanswhile, workers in France got 37 vacation days last year and used 35 of them while the average worker in Great Britain received 28 vacation days and took 25, according to Expedia)

And then  there's the financial aspects with many people believing they do not have enough money to take a trip. I guess that comes down to priorities and values of differing countries. Americans don't prioritize time away from work. In fact, our capitalist ideals promote being at work. And when we do get time off it is spent with friends and family - just like any other country - but we're OK with spending that time on a staycation (I still hate that word).

On top of all this, some people in some parts of the world aren't the biggest fans of Americans which adds one more fun glitch in the formula of travel.

It's a conundrum.

Will this ever change? Maybe. I run into people all the time who say they love to travel. I even had an American friend who took a honeymoon that lasted more than a month, consecutively. But, then again, that friend does live and work in Australia.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Swimming Holidays

I guess I never really thought about revolving an entire trip around swimming (well, except that one time I thought about swimming the English Channel - which I still kinda want to do).

I mean, I enjoy places where I can swim - like the cruise in February hit the spot since I could swim in the ship's pools, at beaches and waterfalls in St. Maarten and the Dominican Republic, and I participated in - and won - a synchronized swimming competition on the cruise...possibly due to my swimming partners being two really cute little girls.

(Swimming near the Mirabella catamaran after snorkeling off the coast of St. Maarten)

In any case, swimming holidays may be more of a British thing - or at least a non-US thing. But, as a former competitive swimmer, I can appreciate the idea. Though, the "swimming holiday" of renting a beach house and going there for a week is nice too. ;)

"The Guardian" put out this list of Top Swimming Holidays. Locations include Croatia, Egypt, Greece, and even a couple in the U.S. like Lake Powell in Arizona and the Little Red Lighthouse Swim in NYC.

There are actually a bunch of swimming events in the city, which I really need to start checking out. Ya know, if I ever actually do want to swim the English Channel.

Flashback Friday: Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe made a huge impression on me, despite a very brief visit while en route to the west coast on a 2010 Cross Country Road Trip.

Surprisingly, the site in northern California - which we went by on our way from Reno to Yosemite - did not make my Good, Bad, Ugly list of "Best/Worst Of"s during the trip. But it was up against some stiff competition - The Chicago Art Institute, the Badlands, a Vagina-shaped building, and the General Lee to name a few.

I guess it was because of the short period of time that we were there that left that "we neeeeed to go back" mentality.

You can see why....

(a panorama I took at Lake Tahoe with the Sierra Nevadas in the background)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Worldwide Travel Alert Due to Possible Terrorism

The U.S. Department of State issued a Worldwide Travel Alert on Friday, which news outlets have now found to be because of possible terrorist action specifically in the Middle East.

The alert states:
"Terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests. U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure. Terrorists have targeted and attacked subway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime services. U.S. citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling...
We recommend U.S. citizens register their travel plans with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy through the State Department's travel registration website. We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens Traveling abroad enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don't have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate."

Up to date information can be found by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, from other countries, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Friday, Eastern Time (except U.S. federal holidays).

Update: Yemen embassies were evacuated (including a friend of mine who works there as a diplomat). Her group at least is safe in Germany. Now, the proverbial crap is hitting the fan in Pakistan. (hey, that rhymed)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

New Downtown Pub in Albany

I like to keep up with the happenings in our nightlife - even if I'm "old" and pretty much never go out anymore. (well, compared to how much I used to go out anyway)

And I came across this Business Review article by Pam Allen about a pub that is now open in Envy Lounge's old location. I haven't been there yet but I can appreciate a good pub/restaurant, especially on N. Pearl St. where the majority of businesses are clubs.

This week's random travel photo is....

...a fake Capt. Jack Sparrow from the Sterling Renaissance Faire:

If you've never been to the Renaissance Faire - or any Renaissance Faire - you should check it out. The one in Sterling, NY (near Oswego and Lake Ontario) is particularly fun since they hire people to really make you feel like  you're part of the "show". There's heckling and sword fights and tea with the queen and mead and big turkey legs. Oh - and fake Capt. Jack Sparrows.

The festival has themes each weekend through August. This weekend's theme is the Highland Fling.

Scientists Find Camping Re-Sets Internal Clock

If you haven't gone camping yet this year, you should. If anything - aside from the fresh air, mountains, streams, lakes, swimming, quality time, hiking, relaxation,etc,etc - camping apparently helps your circadian clocks.

A study recently published monitored people's everyday lives versus camping in Colorado, keeping track of their melatonin levels and sleeping cycle. Those in the Rocky Mountain state all synched up on their trip to rise and rest depending on the sun, according to a BBC story on the study.

(while camping outside Yellowstone National Park)

Scientists figure that all the unnatural light from electronics probably are mostly to blame.

I'm actually going camping this weekend, but I don't quite think this same thinking will apply since we're going to be at a beer festival at Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown - tent city, vendor food, peeing in weird places, and drinking waaaaay waayyy WAY too much.

I wouldn't mind seeing some kind of study done of people at Belgium Comes to Cooperstown, though. It, honestly, would probably be fascinating.