May 23, 2013 § Leave a Comment
For me, camping is fraught with major pluses and minuses. On one hand, I love being far from the city, surrounded by nature. It’s amazing to look up and see a sky full of stars and hear nothing but the wind. And the change in air quality is unmistakable—is just feels crisper and cleaner.
But on the downside, there are usually bugs. And scary animal noises. (Sorry, I didn’t grow up around coyote calls!) And questionable bathroom situations. And, being a city girl, I’ll admit that rural areas, in general, make me uneasy. At least in a city, people can hear if you scream, and come to your rescue if you need help. (Even if it’s something as minor as getting locked in your bathroom…not that I have firsthand experience…) For years, my go-to, irrational camping fear was that some crazy person who escaped a mental hospital would somehow stumble upon the very place where I happened to be—and wreck havoc with no one around.
Despite all this, the pros outweigh the cons, and I’m always game for an adventure. And I’ve become fixated on what I hope will be my next pseudo-camping trip: sleeping in a tipi.
I stumbled upon this while reading NY Mag‘s round-up of uncommon vacation rentals. This tipi is set on 31 acres of land, near Littleton, NH. It’s big—approximately 22 feet wide and 24 feet tall—and sleeps six. And there’s a fire pit in the middle!
Best of all, as the owners puts it:
This is not a tipi campground where you have other parties all around you either intruding on your peace and quiet or forcing you to stay quiet yourselves. This is a single tipi in a private wooded setting of 31 acres allowing you to get connected to nature, enjoy the serene setting, and have fun.
Sounds pretty prefect to me.
(Photo via NY Mag)
May 22, 2013 § Leave a Comment
This is genius.
When Tiffany Burnette was researching women who travel solo, for her master’s project, she stumbled upon one voyager’s gripe: Having to pull out a map to navigate the NYC subway—thus clearly branding herself a tourist. Inspired, Tiffany came up with a simple and stylish solution: subway maps embossed on cuff bracelets. While wearing them, female travelers can navigate a transit system with a discreet glance at the wrist.
As a woman who’s often traveled solo, I can attest to how many times I could have used these! One safety measure I always take when traveling alone is to look like I know where I’m going. And nothing blows your cover more than when you have to study a subway map, whip out a guidebook or consult your smartphone—if you’re in a place where you even get service. These cuffs could have helped me out in several cities.
Plus, I love how the bracelets are very understated, so you wouldn’t be flashing around expensive-looking jewelry. I actually just want the NYC one to wear every day!
Here’s to hoping city map cuffs will be designhype’s next project!
P.S. — I had an amazing time on Eleuthera and I’m looking forward to posting about it, in a few days!
May 14, 2013 § 2 Comments
I’m not gonna lie—I’ve been counting down for a couple weeks!
This whole year, thus far, has been pretty insane. As you might have guessed from my earlier entries, I’ve desperately been trying to survive the Long Slog. To do so, my master plan mostly consisted of performing in the spring dance showcase and running the half marathon relay. Those two events (and the weeks rehearsing/training for them!) were fun and exciting. But when I signed up for them, I’d conveniently forgotten that I was still getting adjusted to my new gig (which I’m loving, by the way)—and working on a huge project that launched right after the ballet show and before the race.
Needless to say, I’m looking forward to a few days of relaxing and recharging—especially with summer plans on deck and more work projects revving up. A few days of lounging in the sun, in a gorgeous place, is what I need, right now. (Seriously, how stunning is the photo above? That’s Eleuthera’s Glass Window Bridge, with the deep, blue Atlantic to the right and the soothing Caribbean to the left. Can’t wait to get there!)
(Photo via Pinterest)
May 13, 2013 § 4 Comments
Two weekends ago, when Mal, Peter and I ran the Long Branch Half Marathon and Relay, we stayed one night in the beach town. Between picking up our race packets, going to bed and waking up super-early (at 9:30 p.m. and 4 a.m., respectively!), we didn’t have a ton of time to explore. But what I did see convinced me that Long Branch is a great, quick weekend destination from NYC. It’s less than an hour and a half away, by car, and New Jersey Transit runs there, as well. While it was too cold to go to the beach, the sand and surf looked very clean and pretty. And though part of the boardwalk remains under construction, post-Sandy, a good stretch of it is still standing. (Which is all the most reason to visit the town and help in its recovery!)
Some highlights from our quick trip:
My parents, who came to cheer us on, booked our hotel for the weekend—and I’m glad they did. They
spoiled us and selected the stylish, boutique Bungalow Hotel, located a block from the beach.
We couldn’t have asked for a better place to relax before the race. Mal, Peter and I shared a Hang Loose/Junior Suite which, at 575 square feet, was nearly bigger than my apartment. I slept on the (surprisingly comfy) sofa bed and especially loved the gas fireplace. We cranked it up, and it gave our room a nice, cozy vibe.
The suite also had a kitchen nook that proved to be a superb extra. At 4:30 a.m. on race morning, we gathered there to fuel up on cereal, bananas and Greek yogurt.
My parents were in a Lil’ Pipeline/1 Bedroom Suite across the hall. Their accommodation was even larger, with two bathrooms and a more spacious sitting area. After we finished the race, we all went back to there to inhale doughnuts and celebrate our finish times.
Pier Village is a newish (opened in 2005) shopping/dining/living complex on the Long Branch boardwalk. It definitely has a commercial feel and is a sign of how the area has made itself more attractive to tourism. But I won’t deny how nice it is to have so many eating options right by the beach. (As opposed to boardwalk stretches in other shore towns where you’d be hard pressed to find anything other than fast food.)
The Turning Point is a New Jersey chainlet that specializes in breakfast and has an outpost in Pier Village. It clearly has a Long Branch following! After checking in to the Bungalow, we headed there for a bite and were told there was an hour wait inside the restaurant. Luckily, we were able to be seated right away, outside. Even though I would have liked to have been a tad warmer, I was glad to be out of the city, breathing beach air.
The service was excellent, as was my Popeye Skillet. The hearty dish contained spinach, eggs and cheese—and some of the best breakfast potatoes I’ve ever had.
You can’t tackle a race without having pasta the night before, right? We ate our pre-run dinner at Ciao Ristorante, a small, family-run Italian place with a strict reservation policy. (We saw them turn away several parties who hadn’t called in advance.) The atmosphere was homey—it seemed like all the regulars knew the servers and the chef.
Everything we ordered was delicious. The buffalo mozzarella and tomato appetizer was very fresh, and my scampi came with huge, perfectly cooked shrimp. I did have a bit of food envy when I tasted my mom’s pollo bruschetta, though. The chicken had nice, crispy breading and the tomato salad was bright and tasty. I also couldn’t resist getting the banana bread pudding for dessert. (Also fantastic, by the way.) I figured I’d run off the calories!
After showering and celebrating, post-race, Mal, Peter and I headed back to the boardwalk to cheer on the marathoners as they approached the finish line. (We can do that for hours—it’s so much fun to encourage people as they’re completing such a physical feat!) It was nice and warm in the sun, and after a while, I only wanted one more thing: a beer in my hand. So we strolled to the outdoor section of McLoone’s Pier House, which was perfectly situated with the beach on one side and the runners on the other.
If only it was 20 degrees warmer—then it would have been perfect. The ocean breeze was chilly, but I was still psyched to have a beer and quesadilla by the beach. It was the perfect way to top off this year’s running weekend—and it left me excited for all the fun that lies ahead, this summer!
May 12, 2013 § Leave a Comment
My mom is awesome, as I’ve mentioned multiple times! And though the list of reasons why could fill many blog posts, this Mother’s Day, I’m thanking my mom for one thing in particular: instilling in me my love of ballet. Besides Mallory, of course, I think that’s one of the best gifts she’s ever given me.
My mom always had an affinity for dance, especially ballet. She signed me up for classes practically as soon as I could walk, and took me to see ballet performances, both nearby in Queens and “in the city” (as I called Manhattan, when I was a kid). Over the years, she always encouraged me to continue (or, at times, restart!) my own dancing, and has never missed a single one of my performances. Even today, she’s my dance buddy who I can always count on to watch any show with me.
From those first classes and performances, my mom has given me something invaluable that’s lasted my entire life: the passion for a hobby I truly love—one that brings so much joy to my life. So thank you, mom, for that!
Happy Mother’s Day! <3
(Photo: my mom and E last Mother’s Day, at Lincoln Center, pre-NYCB performance)
May 9, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I may have been taking public transportation for my entire life, but people-watching on the subway never gets old. Even when I’m trying to block out my fellow commuters—with my headphones turned up and/or a magazine in front of my face—I can’t help but wonder what their backstories are: Why are they also headed home so late? Where are they coming from? Who’s waiting up for them? And so on.
The project is exactly what it sounds like. As Micropolis NYC quotes Johnson:
If I happen to be standing on a crowded train and can’t comfortably draw or only have a stop before I have to get off, I’ll try to discreetly snap a photo (no flash!) with my phone and base my illo on that. (I know I sound like a total creep, but what can you do? Sometimes the best ones are gone in a flash.)
A few of my favorites illustrations:
…funny enough, I see the guy in the last illo all the time on the A train!
May 7, 2013 § 2 Comments
Back from our spring running weekend of 2013—and I’d definitely say it was a success! Mal, Peter and I had an awesome time racing down the Jersey Shore, early Sunday morning.
Peter ran the Long Branch Half Marathon and Mal and I teamed up for the Half Marathon Relay; both events went simultaneously along one course, which wound through Oceanport, Monmouth Beach and Long Branch. (The headlining event, the New Jersey Marathon, started about an hour later and went along the same route—just with 13.1 extra miles tacked on midway!)
This was my first relay, which made for an exciting but slightly nerve-racking experience, due to all the logistics. Here’s how it worked: Mal and I decided that she’d run the first leg (6.9 miles) and I’d run the second (6.2 miles). Early on Sunday morning (5:15 a.m.!), Mal, Peter and I went to the stating point at Monmouth Park. When it got close to race time, Mal and Peter headed to their corrals at starting line. Meanwhile, other second leg runners and I took a shuttle bus to the transition point, several miles away.
Once there, a volunteer explained the runner hand-off. A row of metal barriers divided the street down the middle. The half marathoners would be on the far side of the barriers. The first leg relayers would come down the section next to the sidewalk where we were gathered. A volunteer farther down the course would radio in the last three digits of the approaching relay runner’s bib number. Then, the volunteer near us would call out that number and that runner would get on deck in preparation for his/her partner’s arrival. Once the two met, runner #1 would hand over the time chip belt, and runner #2 would be off!
While I waited for Mal, I tried to stay warm (it was freezing!), stretch and talk to my parents, who’d met me there. And not be too nervous. But it was also very exciting. All of us second leggers cheered as the super-fast half marathoners and relay runners came through the course. Soon after the stream of runners grew from a trickle to a pack, we caught Peter going by, looking as fresh-faced and smiley as this guy.
I knew Mal would be there shortly, so I took off my sweats—and all of a sudden, my mom shouted that she saw Mal! A few other relayers were arriving at the same time, so our number didn’t get called. Feeling frazzled, I ran over to Mal and fumbled to grab the belt from her and shove my headphones in my ears. The belt cinch snapped off as I tried to put it on, but I took off running while knotting it around my waist.
I felt pretty horrible for the entire run. I was freezing from standing outside for a good part of the morning, and it was a shock to run while so cold. Also, I’m not used to working out in the morning. And I’d been up since 4 a.m. Not my normal wake-up time.
But I tried to maintain a consistent clip because I didn’t want to drag us down. Mal and I had set a goal to finish in 1:55—and she’d completed her leg at that pace. I wasn’t going to be the reason we didn’t achieve our time! Luckily, I was among runners who were sticking to what felt like my goal pace, so I held steady with them.
I ran on, as the course meandered through various residential streets. Each time I completed a mile and saw a time clock, I vowed to try to reach the next one in 8-9 minutes. Finally, I was on the last mile, along the beach. Just seeing the ocean energized me, though it was sad to note where Sandy had destroyed part of the boardwalk.
As I approached the finish line, I did not feel great, like I did last year. I felt like I was going to die. (This year, my mom later told me, I definitely did not look like I was taking a walk in the park!) But after crossing the finish line, getting our medals, and finding Mal, I almost teared up with joy—I came in at 1:56:58, and knew that our chip time would put us around our goal.
Our official time was 1:54:08—and we placed 9th out of 95 all-female relay teams! We were thrilled with our results! And Peter finished in a crazy-fast time—1:45:48.
We celebrated with doughnuts back at our hotel, then went out to cheer on the marathoners who were finishing their (much longer) race on the boardwalk. I was completely zonked for the rest of the day but it was so worth it! It’s funny; I’ve run a half marathon and a faster 10K before, but this was probably the most gratifying race I’ve completed. I think it was the team aspect of it—not just working toward my own goal, but Mal’s as well.
We’re already looking for another relay to do this year. Anyone up for Ragnar?!
(The photo above is the only one I took at the race! I even ran with my phone because I was planning to take pics while waiting for my turn to run, but I didn’t snap a single one. I suppose sometimes you just have to live in the moment!)