Thursday, December 26, 2013

Choosing between alligators and rodents? Why not both, in Orlando

They were herding all the snowbirds on a plane to Florida. Instead of swimming upstream, we decided to join them. I mean, it's a leg of our journey that practically plans itself, right?

We're "few frills" in our travels, but we made room for a big expense this time - yes, we did the theme park thing. And yes, we enjoyed it.

Even with all that, our biggest win was seeing alligators on the side of the street. I think my wife is thoroughly convinced she can befriend them all and commune with them. (I think my husband secretly loves alligators just as much as I do. He's trying to play it cool.)

We're not feeling too chatty, but it's fun to share. Just look at some pics!

 Catch you in the new year. We hope it's amazing for us and you!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Speaking French and bundling up in Montréal

This month we exchanged our US dollars for Canadian, our hellos for bonjours, and battled the cold (both the weather and the illness). So pardon us while we thaw out and write accents on things.

Strolling and jogging around the city in our coats and gloves, we ran into so many construction signs warning us: "trottoir barré", "rue barrée", everything "barré". In an almost comical way, these didn't rigidly restrict people from coming and going. Instead, they popped up here and there around town, seemingly overnight, with locals feeling free to walk slightly around or waltz straight through.


We've concluded that the locals could be so nonchalant about such things because they save their seriousness for their food. And the food... oh, the food! The hundreds of cheeses at the Fromagerie Atwater. Those discretely labeled frozen chocolate croissants that you just throw in the oven to cook. Long fresh bread that we dubbed "pain tordu" (twisty bread), even after being corrected by the boulanger, who calls it "pain parisien". (Yes, it's the kind of bread that makes you scowl and huff "what have I been eating!?" at every kind of bread you've consumed outside of French-speaking lands. Then you get upset at the bread for making you a bread snob.) Cans of maple syrup... abricotine (our favorite sweet there)... we miss it all so much already!

We made plenty of time to exercise off those treats. In fact, we got to continue our months-long tradition of daily trail runs at the nearby Parc du Mont Royal. Since we spent so much time running through the park, you can too. Here's one of Mont Royal's ubiquitous staircases. Followed by a mischievous squirrel.


Here's the chalet along one of the park's main trails, and the view overlooking downtown from the back of the chalet.

Just beyond those buildings to the left, there's charming Vieux-Montréal (Old Montreal), which is a living visualization of the French take on New World colonization. (No, it doesn't look like New Orleans' French Quarter, which is actually Spanish in its style.) Of course, if that bit of history is your thing, you can one-up us with a train ride to the Ville de Québec.


But French Canada isn't just about things French, it's also about experiencing Canada. Like that maple syrup. Or braving a good bit of November snow flurries and icy rain. If we came a month later, I hear we could've been skating on the "Lac aux castors" in the park. But I don't think our gloves, hats and light jackets are ready for a Quebec winter. So we head for warmer climes.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Falling for Autumn in Vermont

...Vermont, where we ushered in the fall. (After getting used to trails and apples in our last spot, you wouldn't expect us to ditch the area right before prime season, would you?!)

Late September gave us a sprinkle of color among the maples and evergreens.

Early October came with homemade pancakes and syrup. (And apple cider. Ooh, and co-op bulk bin goodness - they have three grades of maple syrup on tap!)

We found so many sights worth remembering, and took more pictures here than any previous month. After spending hours sorting through them, these share some of the pleasant subtleties of our visit.

 Nothing was too grandiose, but truly enjoyable. Maybe it's fitting to end the month with a snapshot of fall's changes: a leaf collection gathered on a walk through the woods.

Speaking of leaves, we're finally leaving the Northeastern US. But if you'll allow us one more stop in this general region, we promise to take you further afield after that.

Keep reading to see some "timelapse" changes captured during daily runs along a local hiking trail.

Vermont - change over time (Fall 2013)

Town from local trail

Panoramic view towards New Hampshire

Old stone tower

Friday, September 27, 2013

Traveling Upstate for Trees, Trails and Apple Cider

Let's put the debates about what counts as Upstate New York aside. Or, hey, why not include them for a taste of the local culture?!

Lured by promises of rivers, forests, rolling mountains and hiking trails, we left "the City" at the end of August and caught a bus to a rural hamlet. Here's a picture of the trestle, the town from the town and the trestle from the town, in that order.

The place delivered on all counts. Right next to a scenic trail that stretches for many miles in each direction, a short walk into town (a real Main Street with a few dozen buildings) and worlds away from last month's urban bustle.

Early fall brought baskets of apples to the local farmer's market and regaled us with sweet apple cider.

The contrast between this month and last is the most striking between any of our two stops so far. Just compare these pictures to the previous post.

Now we've tested our new shoes in the concrete jungle and the woods. This would've been a nice place to spend early fall, to watch the leaves change and enjoy the harvest. But we've got plans. Plans that will have us traveling all night just to get to...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Elbowing our way through the crowd in New York

It's been too long, I know. But we have our reasons... we got sucked in by New York!

Day or night, north or south of Times Square, it really does look like everyone's here. The heart of it all, as it were. So much humanity. So much hustle round every corner.

Food, culture, that urban America that dwarfs our previous travel destinations. It lives up to the hype. And the memories.

Memories? Yep. We were last here about a decade ago, and left with a lot of love for the place. This time around, "the City" ate up half of our leisure time retracing old steps to beloved favorites, the other half exploring new sites.

We put many more miles on our shoes. Feeling the burn, we finally invested in some real long distance kicks. The new beauties (his and hers) helped us walk as far north as Columbia, as far south as Battery Park and the financial district, and most everywhere in between.

When did we sleep? Good question. I don't recall. Haha, but in all seriousness, we got into the most relaxed groove we've had since Mexico. Still loads of work (just a tiny bit less than last month).

If you've been with us since Cozumel, you're aware of our international wifi concerns. We've been on the hunt for an affordable wifi solution that could keep us data-hogs super connected, Skyped and VPNed while abroad. Our next goal was to take this party to Europe. (Keep in mind that we work M-F 8-7 Pacific time, wherever we are in the world!!)

After purchasing and playing with a few fancy antennas (including a big old Turbotenna raygun), browsing for Boingo hotspots, and reading T&Cs of global mifi devices, Europe got nixed. That all happened in the last couple weeks. Shed some tears for us as we delete our travel spreadsheets. Then get excited as we decide what's next!