Category Archives: Travel

Intercourse

We always enjoy visiting Amish country around Lancaster, Pa. While retail outlets, hotels, entertainment venues and restaurants of every kind have taken away some of the simplicity and quaintness during the past thirty years, it still remains a peaceful, pretty place, as long as you where to go.

Pennsylvania Dutch Country has towns with unique names, (including the one below), which the retailers seem to have fun with.

During our last visit, I took some photos of the t-shirts for sale in some of the stores. I wonder what the Amish must think.

And yes, the town of Intercourse is actually between the towns of Blue Ball and Paradise. And yes, I own that baseball hat.

How could I not?

Driving The Blue Ridge

We had an opportunity last month to take a road trip to North Carolina/Virginia. We spent a few days in Asheville, which has an abundance of crazy good restaurants then headed north along the Blue Ridge Parkway to a pretty little town called Blowing Rock. It’s one of those drives  you can probably make in two hours. It took us seven. There were just too many beautiful places to stop along the way. A short hike or two and before you know it the sun was getting lower in the sky. A few weeks later in October and the colors along the parkway must have been gorgeous. Anyway, here are a few of the places we stopped to take a look, understanding that photos never do these scenes justice.
Please keep in mind I’m not a photographer and I was only using my iPhone.

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During one of our hikes we heard music playing on a phone laying on a tree stump. We looked up and saw two people up in a tree. When I told them I had to take their picture they laughed and asked me to take one with their phone as well. I don’t know who they are but they made the blog.

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If you ever have an opportunity to visit the mountains of North Carolina, and I highly recommend it, take a long day and a slow drive between Asheville and Blowing Rock. You won’t be disappointed.

Judging Perceptions

Quite a few years ago I happened to be in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for a meeting. Clean city, nice people. As I was waiting for the hotel elevator with a middle-aged couple, we had a brief but very nice conversation. In the few minutes it took for the elevator to arrive and take us to our floor, we talked briefly about the city of Milwaukee. They were from Wisconsin but visiting for a couple of days. As we stepped off on the same floor, we continued speaking about the new ballpark and the city’s proximity to Chicago, which was only a 45 minute drive. It was a very nice conversation and we even laughed once or twice. As we were saying goodbye, the woman asked me what brought me to Milwaukee and where I was from. I told her I was in the city on business and that I was from New Jersey. In an instant, her facial expression changed as she said, “I’m surprised you’re even speaking to us.”  With that, they both turned and walked away quickly, as if I had some sort of infectious disease they were afraid of catching.

New Jersey.

Those two words conjure up all kinds of jokes, hostilities and images. Hollywood and late night talk shows have had a field day with it. Comedians regularly include it in their acts. Speak with people from other states and many times their feelings are similar to that Wisconsin couple. Traveling by car to another state with New Jersey plates and you will be lucky if they don’t flip the closed sign on you as you pull up. A recent poll I read claims New Jersey is the least liked state in the union and the only state in the U.S. in which more people have an unfavorable opinion of than a favorable one.

I’ve often wondered why people feel this way and what all these negative opinions are based on. I suppose the impression many people have of New Jersey is what they see when they fly into Newark Airport. The see the ports and the smoke stacks of the refineries on their way into New York and they think the entire state looks like that. They run into someone who may be rude to them at the airport and think everyone in the state will have the same personality. They watch the Sopranos and think everyone in the state is mobbed up. The watch Jersey Shore and believe everyone at the beach is a lewd drunk with little common sense or morals, even though the people in that show were from New York.

How sad that we allow others to define our views and opinions based on what their limited experiences may have been. Is the area around Newark Airport unattractive? You bet. But if that’s all you care to see, then you’re missing this……..

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And if you think the beaches are only what you’ve seen on the embarrassment of the Jersey Shore show, then you’re missing this…..

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At this point, I’m guessing you think this is an advertisement about New Jersey. It isn’t. It’s about allowing others to decide for us. It’s about making up our own minds about a place or, more importantly, a person. It’s about giving everyone an opportunity.

Every state has their armpit areas as well as their fair share of rudeness. Maybe we’re a little more direct here about what we say and how we say it but quite honestly, I prefer that approach. I’ve been places where people smile at you and say, “bless your heart,” as the knife is going in your back. How sweet.

I wonder how many people we never got to know because someone else told us to avoid them. I wonder how many places we’ve never visited because someone else had a bad experience, which may have been their own doing. How much music, how many restaurants, how many trips have we lost because of what someone else said.

Why?

After all, when was the last time you believed anything that came out of Hollywood? Talk show hosts and comedians? Really? These are the people whose opinion you really want to take into consideration?

We’re all smarter than that.

Aren’t we?

 

Springtime In New York City

 

The weather finally broke on Sunday after almost a week of dreary and raw weather. Sunshine was finally with us so we took a ride into the city to walk around and see a show at Radio City. Apparently, quite a few people had the same idea. Here are a few images.

Bryant Park was busy…

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A Pipe Band was entertaining….IMG_1039

 

Chess boards and backgammon waiting for players……IMG_1041

 

A library for the youngsters……IMG_1042

 

The carousel was operating….IMG_1045

 

Lots of green, finally…..IMG_1048

 

They’re still ice skating
in Rockefeller Center…
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Some fun………..….IMG_1055

 

And flowers…………

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Radio City from 51st Street….IMG_1060

 

The stage before the curtain lifted….IMG_1061

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The world famous Rockettes…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsAveI0uAwY

 

 

A pastrami sandwich from the Carnegie Deli….Unknown

Central Park was a little busy and great for people watching while we ate…..IMG_1065   IMG_1066  IMG_1067

Hope you enjoyed the tour. Looking forward to more of the same weather.

The Clueless Tourist

Americans are not the only tourists that are guilty of not respecting the history and culture of other countries. Far from it. Heck, they apparently have a sign in front of the Louvre in Paris, written in Mandarin, asking people not to urinate or defecate on the grounds. I’m not sure what prompted that sign and I really don’t want to know. Disrespect happens all over the world by people from all over the world, just as there are tourists who visit the United States and make poor or questionable choices.

As an American, I’ve often cringed at the way other Americans sometimes behave when visiting another country; a place where we are essentially guests. Based on what I’ve witnessed, most American are respectful, but there are those who just don’t get it. Like these two clueless California Women who were visiting Rome.

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Apparently they decided to break away from their tour group while visiting Rome’s Colosseum and carve their initials into the ancient amphitheater. Then, to further show off their intelligence, they took selfless of their handiwork.

Now these aren’t kids we’re taking about here. They are 21 and 25-year-old female children who have never been taught the basic principles of respecting history and the property of others. Their parents must be so proud.

While this doesn’t happen often, considering there are six million people who visit the Colosseum and Roman Forum annually, five other people from Russia, Australia, Brazil and Canada were also stopped for doing the same thing.

I don’t know what type of punishment the Italian government decided to inflict on these two women. I know that the 42-year-old Russian tourist was given a four month suspended sentence and fined 20,000 Euros, which, because of a lack of funds, he has yet to pay. Personally, I would cut into their holiday time. I would require them to listen to a detailed history of the Colosseum and other historical sites in Rome, in addition to some sort of community service in and around the area. They’d have to catch up with their tour group a few days later.  Then I’d ask them to leave. Permanently. Because if you haven’t learned respect at the age of 42 or 25 do you really want these people back in your country?

And for whomever did whatever prompted that sign in front of the Louvre…..well, I’d love for you to do that on my watch; because I have a whole special kind of community service ready just for you.

Happy Travels!

 

Tripping To Mars

Natalie Lawler is hoping for a one way ticket to Mars. And she’s not alone. Some 200,000 people worldwide applied for the program to live on Mars. That number has been narrowed down to 705 individuals. During the next two years contenders will be brought down to a final of 24, (six teams of four), featuring two of each gender. Four people will then be sent to Mars to live. The cost of the program is the equivalent of six billion U.S. dollars leading up to the first mission and four billion for every additional human mission. The first trip is scheduled for 2024 and the plan is to send four additional people every two years. So in twenty years there will be a whopping 44 people living in caves on the red planet, assuming people survive that long and the missions continue.

Oh, I forgot to mention….there is no return trip ticket included with this program. When you leave, you’re gone. I should also mention…..the trip to Mars takes seven months.

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Natalie is a teacher who lives in Australia. She has a partner, Michael, and two daughters, her oldest being fourteen. She claims her daughters are excited about their mother living on another planet. My guess is they’re not the only teenage girls who have hoped for the same thing.
Apparently, she’s not concerned about never having physical contact with her children again, or being a physical part of their lives, attending their weddings, or holding grandchildren. Because of the time delay and distance between Mars and Earth she won’t be able to have phone conversations with them so they’ll have to settle for videos and emails. According to Natalie, “I’ll just learn to parent from afar.”

Really? So she’s going to do at 35 million miles what most parents have difficulty doing just a few feet away. In eight years her daughters will be late teens/early twenties. Not an easy time for young women as they head out on their own.

As for the ride itself, she thinks the seven months it will take to get there will be “quite horrific,” unlike living the rest of your life in a cave with a few dozen people, on a red dusty landscape of canyons and valleys, with an atmosphere so thin that water cannot exist in liquid form, with no ozone layer so that Mars is bathed in a lethal dose of radiation each time the sun rises, with dust storms topping 125 mph that can last for weeks and with a temperature range of 72 degrees in the summer to -205 degrees F in the winter.  Yeah, the ride is what you should be concerned about.

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So I’m not really sure, in this picture, if Natalie is telling us she’s thinking about going to Mars or saying that she’s crazy for considering it. The teams who are chosen will be dedicated to an eight year program so I suppose they’ll have time to decide between adventure and lunacy.  

Look, I’m all for exploration and finding out what’s out there. I admire those individuals who have flown in space, visited the moon and continue to push the envelope. But pushing the envelope is living in a space station for seven months, not leaving your family forever to live with three other humans 35 million miles away.  That’s more than being adventurous or curious. I’ll leave it to you to fill in the descriptive blanks.

Natalie claims to be an avid hiker who feels that a trip to Mars will give her access to one of her true loves, (aside from her children whom she’s leaving behind). She claims to find “total peace in just looking out across barren landscape or forest and not seeing any signs of modern life and not knowing what era you’re in. I go all over the world to try and find that.” Well, if you can’t find total peace on Mars without any signs of modern life, where can you find it, right?

Then again, four people in a small dusty cave might get kind of dicey after a decade or so. But hey…..one can always go for a long walk.

My guess is there’s going to be some kick ass parties at the Lawler house once Mom blasts off. Is there such a thing as video grounding your child?

Good luck with that, Mom.

Why I Love Maine

My wife and I have been to Maine quite a few times. Well, maybe even a few times more than that. I don’t remember when we started going, I only know we keep getting pulled back. A number of people who have never been there, or only visited for a short time, have asked us what the draw is; why we choose to spend a summer vacation, or heaven forbid, a long November weekend in such a place. Quite honestly, I’m ever able to provide an answer that satisfies their curiosity.  Because Maine is the kind of place you can’t just pass through or spend a couple of days at the beach and come to understand why it’s special. You have to get to know it. You have to experience the quiet beauty of its coastline, the friendliness of its people, the tucked away shops and shacks and the simplicity of its food. Oh yes, we can’t forget the amazing food.
Maine doesn’t grab you like some places do. It’s not a Caribbean Island resort with temperate breezes, turquoise water and all night parties. Nor is it Europe, with history that dates back centuries and cultures that intertwine. And its certainly not The Magic Kingdom, a place we always enjoy visiting for different reasons. No, Maine draws you in slowly. It flashes it’s beauty in glimpses and then challenges you to go further. It teases your taste buds until you can’t stop smiling. Until you want more. Until you’re hooked.

One of the things I love most about Maine? It’s always the same.  The places where we stayed or ate are still there. The old soda fountain where we had an ice cream float, the tiny lobster shack, the people, the old bowling alley where pins are reset by hand, the ancient movie theatre that has to be experienced, and the smiling faces and helpfulness of the people. Nothing changes in Maine. Every time we visit, we know exactly what we’re going to get. Expectations and reality are always the same.

There are places that have more beauty and others that provide more action. I understand the draw. But sometimes I prefer somewhere that’s not easily defined, like someone you have to get to know.

So let me share some of  what I love about Maine

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The Beauty of Acadia

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Jordan’s Pond

 

 

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Boothbay Harbor at Dusk

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Bar Harbor

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Our Dream Home on Ocean Point

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Ocean Point

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View of Camden From Mount Battie

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Fishing Village

The Food

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Fresh Lobster and Seafood Roll…Amazing

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Seafood Bake……Amazing

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Fried Clams……Amazing

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie From The Maine Diner in Wells…..Ridiculous.

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Fresh Seafood Chowder…..You Can Taste It, Can’t You

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Fresh Blueberry Pie a la mode…..Are You Smiling?

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Fresh Blueberry Cobbler….Did I Say Fresh?

 

 

 

 

Seafood Shacks That Are As Good Or Better Than Any Four Star Restaurant

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In Boothbay Harbor

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In Kennebunkport

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They…..

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Are…….

 

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Everywhere

I’m not suggesting you visit, of course. After all, space is at a premium and too many people already know how special Maine is. I don’t want them to run out of lobster and I try my best to support the lobster boats whenever we visit……and the shacks…..and the blueberry pickers…..and the….. well, you understand.

I wonder which shacks might be open this weekend.

I should be able to get there in under five hours.

Hmmmmmm……..