Blogs > Millennial Traveler

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

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tropical Islands of Maldives Could be Underwater in less than 100 years

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the sea level in the picturesque Maldives could rise as much as 97 cm (that's 38 inches for my fellow Americans) by the year 2100.

As this writer for The Guardian puts it: "... this poses the most obvious threat to an archipelago where most land is no taller than an 11-year-old child."

Maldives, located in the Indian Ocean, is especially known for being a honeymoon and holiday destination.

You've probably seen photos of Maldives islands on TV, online, and in brochures - especially of the lodging options they have which are located on stilts in the turquoise water.

I've had a couple friends visit there and I've heard nothing but good things from their experiences. Although, there does seem to be a bit of a political underbelly which happens a lot, sadly, with popular tourist destinations and with not-so-popular locations too.

Let's hope politics do not get in the way of saving this beautiful destination. But...I wouldn't hold my breath on that so you might want to book a flight there ASAP.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Brown's Brewing Co. Malt Room in Troy

I don't always get out of work at 10:30 p.m. but when I do, I tend to have the urge to try new bars in the area. Which may sound slightly odd but....hey, it makes for good blog fodder. ;)

In this particular case, I had heard that Brown's Malt Room had just opened Wednesday, Sept. 18 in Troy, in the basement of Revolution Hall.

So I ventured over to the new establishment alone - which, again, may sound sad and slightly alcoholic but actually I had a really nice time. I parked in the rear parking area near the Brown's deck along the Hudson River and saw the lit doorway of the Brown's Brewing Co. Malt Room right away, located to the left of the deck on ground level.

I had talked with the Brown's folks about the Malt Room on and off for over a year, but it had been put on the back burner while they focused on their new brewing facility. The Malt Room is a project they'd been working on for a long time - and it showed. The place is beautiful.

You walk past the wood and glass door into a place of leather couches, a large leather booth, a long copper bar, and a decor that was well thought out. It's a place for a mature demographic, Gregg Stacy with Brown's had explained to me.

In lieu of loud dancing music, there was quiet jazz playing in the background when I pulled up a stool at the copper-topped bar and found out a friend of mine who I had interviewed more than a year ago was now the bartender there.

Michael, the bartender, was very knowledgeable and made a delicious Mint Julep. He then helped me navigate through their selection of nearly 40 scotches and recommended a Glenmorangie - for next time. They have scotches categorized as Speyside, Highlands, Islay, Lowlands, and Blended. There are also 18 bourbons (I was told their Pappy Van Winkle's 20 year is particularly delicious and well-priced).

They also offer various types of rum, tequila, gin, rye, brandy, cognac, cordials, and about 17 wines, with whites, reds, sparkling, and dessert. There are about ten listed "proper cocktails" including: an Adirondack Highball - rye and homemade switchel; Copper Monkey - bourbon, fresh squeezed OJ, and Galliano; Corpse Reviver- brandy, Cornelius Applejack, and Carpan; Dirty Martinez - gin, dry vermouth, house pickle brine and Fee's lemon bitters; and The Julep - fresh mint, bourbon, cube sugar and mint bitters.

And, being right next door to their pub, they also have cask conditioned ales - which are unfiltered and unpasteurized from 1 to 2 weeks in 10.5 gallon vessels called firkins. The copper-topped bar was designed by owner Garry Brown and the base of the bar was built by neighborhood carpenter Peter Albrecht from spent oak bourbon barrels used to age Brown's Barrel Aged Whiskey Porter. A light food menu is also offered.

The seating capacity, I was told by the bartender, is about 80 with room for another 20 people standing. They had talked about limiting the number of people inside to prevent overcrowding and ensure a nice experience.

The one drawback - because you know this place sounded too good to be true - is that similarly to the Speakeasy in Albany, their prices are closer to drink prices you'd usually find in Manhattan than in the Albany area. I expected the higher prices going in so I wasn't surprised when I got my check for a $15 - extremely delicious - cocktail. The other prices are not listed on the drink menu but I'm assuming they're mostly around $15, or more for top shelf items like Johnnie Walker Blue.

All in all, it's worth the prices and it's a very relaxing and fun atmosphere with comfortable sitting areas, a corner with board games, and friendly staff. As their menu states: "But enough of this pre-ramble. Have another drink and enjoy the nice." Which reminds me, it is getting a bit late again as I'm writing here at work...

If you go - 
Business: Brown's Brewing Co. Malt Room
Where: 425 River St., Troy, NY (in the rear, on the ground floor)
Hours: Wed.-Sun. 5 p.m. to close
Offered: Beers, Cask Ale, Cocktails, Scotches, Bourbons, high end drinks, and light fare

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

An Unknown Fee After a Camping Trip

If you have used Reserve America to pay for a camping site or registered for a 5K or 10K with, you may want to take a careful look at your bank account for unwanted charges from a company called Active Networks.

My bf and I stayed in the Sampson State Park along Seneca Lake in August. And the trip was great: there were wineries, breweries, and our campsite was a short walk to the lake.

But, about a month later, I am just noticing a $64.95 charge that I did not recognize. It turns out that when you use sites like ReserveAmerica to make camping reservations, you are automatically signed up for a membership with a company called Active Networks in San Diego - unless you opt out of it in your email account that you used to make your ReserveAmerica profile.

In my case - and it seems in the case for a lot of people - I missed that email and Active Networks, a company that handles online event management, charged my account. This also appears to happen with registration with for 5Ks and 10Ks (since apparently ReserveAmerica is part of

The woman I spoke with on the phone was very nice and she seemed used to dealing with people like me - who had no clue how they were charged.

While I'm sure the business itself is quite legitimate - I'm guessing the fact that each of the sites are tied to "Active".com is not a coincidence -  their tactics of charging people pretty much without their knowledge is ridicules. I'm  surprised - after what seems to be months of complaints - that they're still allowed to do this. I'm also very lucky that the company's phone number was right on my bank statement or I probably would not have been able to contact them to reverse the charge - which should happen in 3 to 5 business days.

In case there were other folks out there who used similar sites, I wanted to make sure you all had this information too. And their number - if it's not also on your bank statement - is: 1-877-228-4881.

Adirondack Balloon Festival

The only things I wake up early for: hiking, traveling, and, apparently, hot air balloons.

Though, we may have been a bit overzealous with waking up at around 4:30am to make it in time for the sunrise hot air balloon launching at the Adirondack Balloon Festival, but getting there early (which may be an understatement) at around 5:30 a.m. did result in the best parking spots we've probably ever had at the event and time enough for a quick benefit buffet breakfast.
The real fun, however, started when the sun finally started to creep out of bed.

The hot air balloon operators brought out their equipment and you could see multiple people in their baskets lighting the fires that would eventually inflate the larger-than-life balloons.
Due to weather conditions and a passing storm, the winds were not quite cooperative for a massive launch but a few did go up while some were still inflated on the ground to give the crowd a good show.
I learned: an average hot air balloon can have about 2.5 tons of air in it and that a hot air balloon Spider Pig is probably the most awesome thing ever.

The Adirondack Balloon Festival, I was told, is one of the last fests in the country that still do not charge an entry fee. There are a ton of vendors, but you might want to get there early (like pre-dawn) to get a good parking spot or you'll be stuck in a pretty-darn-long line of cars.

Despite not being a morning person myself, it really is kinda worth it to check out at least once. And you can see more photos of the fest here and of Spider Pig here.

Adirondack Cabins in Lake Luzerne

A friend's 40th birthday is no small event. So, we celebrated my friend John being "Over the Hill" by going into the mountains.
The location in NY's Adirondack Mountains my friends chose was perfect for what we were looking for. The place was called Hide-A-Way Lakefront Cottages on Lake Vanare, which is in the town of Lake Luzerne outside of the village of Lake George. (long story short - there's a lot of lakes)

My bf and I arrived Friday evening with just enough time to catch the sunset over Lake Vanare, a small body of water with a couple islands in the middle. There are camps and similar cottages along most of the lakeshore.
Our group of about 14 people had reserved two cottages - each was equipped with a kitchen, living room with futon, gas stove/fireplace, and multiple bedrooms with queen, twin, and/or bunk beds. They were quaint cabins with only one bathroom to share, which was interesting with about 7 people in each cabin. And while the cottage I stayed in had a nice big kitchen, the other had a nice big living room and then a small kitchen.
Each cabin also came with a fire pit area, charcoal bbq, and some provided ADK chairs.

The shared facilities included a pavilion with picnic tables and grills, ping pong tables, a modern playground, a dock with boats (like a paddle boat and canoes) and a beach with a small roped off area for kiddies and a larger roped off area for adults - a friend and I swam across the lake on Saturday which was a bit cold but not as bad as the Lake George Polar Plunge.

The owners were very nice and accommodating. When I spoke with one, he said they'd had the property for a long time and started renting out the cottages about a dozen years ago. The office, which is also the family's home, has firewood for $5 a pile and there is a (very slow) wifi connection.

Dogs are allowed but for a $20 fee.
Cottage rates range from $135 to $235 per night during off-season, with some right on the lake, some just a short walk, and others even have jacuzzis. During the summer, rates are $170-$250 daily. Weekly rentals are also available.
We had a great time and I would definitely go back.

Business: Hide-A-Way Lakefront Cottages
Where: Lake Luzerne, NY
Cost: $135-$250, depending on the season
Amenities: Nice quaint cottages with gas stoves/fireplaces, fire pit, jacuzzis and lakefront views and access

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My Perspective on Jauntaroo's Chief World Explorer

Chances are that if you are one of my 3,080 Facebook friends, or 1,734 Twitter followers, you have probably gotten a message from me in the past week requesting that you vote/"like" my video for the Jauntaroo Chief World Explorer position.

(It's not spam. I swear.)

You can still vote here.

With 854 "likes" tallied in the past seven days, I appreciate that many of you have supported my effort and - I hope -will continue to vote until Oct. 1.

This application for the "Best Job Around the World" has already given me a new perspective on my life, my current career, and my determination.

Honestly, with my travel experiences - like a solo Eurorail trip following my study abroad in London, getting a travel grant to see the ancient city of Troy in Turkey, my 19-day U.S. cross country trip with my brother and a good friend, doing a high school student exchange in Germany and hosting a student here, and my extensive travel purely for weddings alone - I really thought I was a fairly well-traveled person. But everything is relative.

There are some excellent candidates applying for this. Some that popped out for me include: Adelle Drahos, a filmmaker who recently documented a trip across the US; Abi Lieve (I Can Fly C.), who made it to the top 25 choices for another Best Job in the World; Graham H., who has documented his travels to more than 200 countries over four years without flying to any of them; and, of course, Suzie H., who has "re-branded" her digital self as @Jauntarista. I also really enjoy Chris T.'s entertaining video, and you can't help but be impressed that Tomislav P. has 45,900 votes and counting.

Perspective is everything in life. And it was very cool seeing the world and experiences through these videos.

I travel because I like to learn about how very different and yet how very similar someone living halfway around the world can be compared to myself. I like getting outside my comfort zone and looking through the lens of a new perspective - which, with more than 2,700 Chief World Explorer applicants, I was able to do without even leaving my desk.

I'd like to thank Jauntaroo for giving everyone this opportunity to share who we all are. Good luck to all the applicants.I know whoever ends up being hired will have an amazing experience that I hope to also experience - either first-hand or through another perspective.

And, to my 1,150 LinkedIn connections and the tens of thousands friends of friends on Facebook, may be getting a couple - Non-Spam, I swear - messages in your inbox in the coming days.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

New Offerings at Howe Caverns: an Adventure Course, Zorbing-like Experience

There's more to Howe Caverns now than beautiful rock formations and a naturally carved out cave 156 feet below the earth's surface.

New this year, the popular Schoharie County attraction is offering their H2OGO Ball. The 12-foot plastic orb has a smaller ball inside of it where you sit surrounded by a 5-gallons of water. Wearing a T-shirt and preferably a bathing suit, you are pushed off of a wooden platform at the top of the Howe Cavern facility's hill and the ball rolls down 1,100 feet while you - supposedly - feel like you're on a really long, really unique water slide.

Pretty much sounds like Zorbing, which I've always wanted to do.

I say "supposedly" because sadly the attraction is now only open on weekends through Columbus Day weekend so I wasn't able to ride it today during my visit to Howe Caverns - my first visit in probably about two decades (and I'm pretty sure I wore the same L.L. Bean jacket then that I did today).

I remembered very little about the Caverns from my first experience. I somehow even forgot about the frozen mouse that my brother reminded me of before my visit. But don't let me memory fool you, the place really is quite unforgettable.

The limestone caverns meander over about 1.5 miles. Some of the caves are quite open while others might leave you feeling a bit claustrophobic. There were rock formations that looked like witches, organs, and TMNT, but most of the formations pretty much looked....very phallic. And most of these are still growing since many are "active" formations since water is still dripping on them and transforming them. The calcite formations, we learned, grow 1/10 of an inch per year.

But on top of the caverns the Howe campus also includes a cafe, a mining center, ropes course, air jumper, zipline, rock wall and the H2OGO Ball. And, along with the regular 90-minute tour (priced at $25), they also offer an adventure two-hour tour with spelunking (priced at $108 per person) and a family flashlight tour.

A lot really has changed at Howe Caverns over the years.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

New Jersey Shore Strife with Dune Proposal

What would you do?

You own beachfront property with a great view of the ocean, a property maybe your family has had for years and you enjoy your time there and the community around it.

But then you're asked to sign an easement to allow your property to be used for a giant sand dune project proposed to help with upcoming hurricane seasons to prevent future damage, as seen in the aftermath of recent superstorms. Without this dune, new issues seem certain for all the homeowners, including yourself.

Now, you are all but being forced to sign the easement but you remain vigilant and hold the belief that it is your decision and your property. Now your neighbors get involved by not talking to you anymore and even putting dog poop in your mailbox, your state governor gets involved and says he has no sympathy for what you're going through, and even your grocer gets involved and has a sign saying you can't shop there anymore.

And the local government is starting the process of eminent domain.

So, what would you do?

Here's the NYT story on what 1,000 homeowners are currently going through along 35-miles of the New Jersey shore.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Six Flags New Jersey's New Roller Coaster

Starting next year, we will have one of the scariest roller coasters in the world just 3.5 hours away at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey which is premiering their Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom in 2014.

The ride plummets 415 feet and reaches speeds up to 90 mph. It's a record breaking ride, topping the current tallest coaster on the west coast. And the coaster itself will go nearly 130mph.

Yeah, that sounds fun....

The Sip event in Troy

How would you like to stroll down the streets of downtown Troy while exploring businesses in historic buildings, drinking wine/eating food, and running into friends and colleagues you haven't seen in a long time?

That's the premise of The Sip which will be in Troy on Sept. 11 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Organizer Anthony DiNova, a Troy High grad, explained it's about helping local businesses by bringing out people who might not usually frequent their establishments, and also about helping the community since proceeds from the event will go to the 9-11 Troy Memorial.

(photo from a prior function with The Sip, which is a nationwide event)

And, on top of this, it's about bringing people together to talk, mingle, network, and Enjoy Troy.

The Sip works like this: You pay the $20 online, you get a list/map of participating businesses that day at starting location Spill'n The Beans (13 3rd St., Troy) and you stroll around to the places you find interesting, which will have samples of wine and/or food. (Rinse and Repeat)

Despite inclement weather for theSaratoga Springs' events in May, downtown 'toga was still abuzz with people. And DiNova is expecting an even better turn out this time around in his hometown.

The basics:

Over 22 Downtown Troy Businesses
Wednesday, Sept. 11
6 - 9 p.m.
$20 in advance, $25 day of
Benefiting: 9-11 Troy Memorial

Here are the participating businesses:

Spill'n The Beans***Food Samples
Wine Bar Confectionary
LoPorto's Restaurant
The Flying Chicken Restaurant***Food Samples
River Street Pub
Bootlegger's on Broadway
Dublins Restaurant
Broadway Cafe
Daisy Bakers
Bacchus Woodfired Pizza
Brown's Brewing Co.
Bombers Burrito Bar
The White Sands Massage
The Irish Ale Pub
Kokopellis Club
Aurora's Boutique
The Greek House
Ryan's Wake
Finnbars Pub
Remarkable Liquids

Purchase tickets here.