Author: Heather

I love travel, ballet, cats and my hometown of NYC.

Off to New Orleans!

New Orleans
I’m super-excited. I have one vacation day left, and I’m using it to take my last trip of the year: a long weekend in New Orleans.

I’ve never been before! So I’m really looking forward to exploring the city, hearing great, live music and—of course—eating a ton. (We already have dinner reservations here, and a long list of other places to check out.)

Do you have any recommendations about what I should see, do or eat? Please share—I’d love any tips!

Have a wonderful weekend!

(Photo via Pinterest—I couldn’t track down the photographer or original location, but if you know, please share!)

A Great Quote to Describe Traveling (and Life, in General)

Back in April, I posted about Obvious State, an Etsy shop, run by writer/illustrator Evan Robertson,В that sells gorgeous illustrations of classic literature quotations. It’s been a while since I’d visited the site, but the other day, My Modern Met ran a post showcasing several prints. This one stuck in my mind:

Original Illustration, Charles Dickens quotation

I thought that was such a great way to describe travel. I’ve definitely found that no matter how bad a situation I’ve been in, I’ve never looked back on a trip—or a place—and decided that it was just worthless. In fact, overall, I have nothing but positive memories about pretty much everywhere I’ve been. And so many of my trips were far from perfect: I’ve gotten seasick (or just sick, in general) in more places than I can count, feared for my safety on several occasions (like the time I thought we were being kidnapped in Costa Rica…or when we visited Nicaragua’s Corn Islands during a spate of violent attacks on tourists), nearly froze to death on a few occasions (in the Bolivian desert…and in freakishly cold weather in Hawaii!). And so on.

But it’s those stressful/annoying/uncomfortable situations that make the best stories once you’re back home. They’re often the ones that define a place for you. They’re also usually the ones where you can look back and laugh at how ridiculous you were—and how you’re so much smarter now. 😉 (And yes, I know, I’m lucky that nothing really bad has ever happened to me while traveling.)

Robertson, himself, was thinking of his own travels when he designed the print. Here’s how he describes it:

A traveler fades to black, leaving behind winding paths of cobblestones in the street. Inspired by one of my favorite places to visit and to leave and to revisit in Paris.

And, on a deeper level (cue the dramatic music), that Dickens quote applies to life, in general, as well. I’ve found that once you truly let something go and leave it behind, then you can start to forgive and move on. And that’s definitely something to remember!

(The quotation, by the way, is from the Dickens novel Little Dorrit. I hadn’t heard of it before!)

(Image via Obvious State)

Shadow Monsters

shadow monsters

I hadn’t been to MOMAВ in years, but on Saturday, I spent an afternoon making up for lost time. While exploring the museum from top to bottom, I came across lots of cool or iconic works—including an original version of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”. But one that I found especially awesome was an interactive installation in the second floor atrium.

The concept behind Philip Worthington’s “Shadow Monsters” is delightfully simple: Bring shadow puppets to life. Museum-goers stand in front of a light box that projects their shadows onto two walls. While they move around, crazy hair-dos appear on their heads, hands become roaring dinosaurs and birds chirp and land on outstretched arms. You can’t help but grin when you see your shadow take on a life of its own!

shadow monsters

shadow monsters

The photos definitely don’t do it justice, but if you happen to be at the museum in the next few weeks, check it out. The installation runs through December 31.

(Top image via MOMA)

The Pacific Crest Trail

One of the best books I read this year was Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.

wild

In this memoir/travelogue, Cheryl Strayed recounts the hardest years of her life: When she’s just 22, her mother suddenly dies from cancer. Shattered by her death, Strayed loses touch with her siblings, cheats on her husband, destroys her marriage and dabbles in drugs. Four years into her grief, Strayed decides to embark on 1,100-mile a solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, from California to Washington—never mind that she’d never backpacked before. Her journey is full of mishaps and brushes with danger, as well as encounters with many kind strangers. Along the way, she finds the strength that eventually helps her put her life back together.

Perhaps it’s because I’m an east coaster, but I’d never heard of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) before I read the book.В I’d known about the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Georgia to Maine, and even encountered it on my own hikes. But I didn’t know it had a west coast cousin that runs 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada.

And now I—and surely millions of others who’ve read Wild—really want to hike the PCT, too.

But just part of it.

I’m not going to pretend that I’m bad-ass enough to quit my job and spend months hiking by myself. Strayed makes it clear that while the PCT was a rewarding adventure of a lifetime, it definitely wasn’t easy. She lost toenails, encountered wild animals and battled the fatigue, hunger and tedium that comes with walking 20+ miles a day.

But her descriptions of the trail are gorgeous. The PCT runes through six of North America’s seven ecozones. Strayed writes about sweating through the desert, sliding over icy patches in the mountains and walking among wildflowers in the woods. Almost all the hiking I’ve done has been on the east coast—amid gray mountains and pine trees—or up and down Central American volcanoes. The PCT sounded completely different and intriguing.

Photos, taken by hikers, on the Pacific Crest Trail Association’s websiteВ attest to how beautiful and varied the scenery is:

Southern Terminus: Pacific Crest trail head at US/Mexican Border Photo by Alan Beneventi

Southern Terminus: Pacific Crest trail head at US/Mexican Border. Photo by Alan Beneventi

Mojave Desert; Photo by Aaron Doss, www.pbase.com/aarondoss

Mojave Desert. Photo by Aaron Doss, pbase.com/aarondoss

Muir Pass; Photo by Aaron Doss, www.pbase.com/aarondoss

Muir Pass. Photo by Aaron Doss, pbase.com/aarondoss

Velma Lakes - Desolation Wilderness; Photo by Paul Zaretsky - www.paulzaretsky.com

Velma Lakes. Photo by Paul Zaretsky, paulzaretsky.com

View E, Mt. Shasta, Section Q, mile1609.5 - photo by Jim Payne.

Mt. Shasta. Photo by Jim Payne.

Diamond Lake Photo by Tyson Fisher - www.tysonfisher.com

Diamond Lake. Photo by Tyson Fisher, tysonfisher.com

along the PCT in central Oregon; photo by Ana Gipe

Central Oregon. Photo by Ana Gipe

Crater Lake, Photo by Eric Valentine

Crater Lake. Photo by Eric Valentine

Mt. Rainier from Goat Rocks Wilderness. Photo by David Geisinger

Mt. Rainier from Goat Rocks Wilderness. Photo by David Geisinger

Even more gorgeous photos here. Plus, see the winners of the 2012 Pacific Crest Trail Association’s photo contest.

Have you read Wild and become inspired to hike the PCT? Or have you already done it?

(All images via the PCTA)

Meeting Jay-Z on the Subway

Are you famous?

A few weeks ago, Jay-Z rode the R train from Canal Street to his final show at the Barclays Center. I, of course, wasn’t lucky enough to be in the car, then. (In nearly 30 years of living in NYC, my celeb run-ins have been very few and far between.) But Ellen Grossman, a 67-year-old artist, was—and Jay-Z happened to sit right next to her. Their brief conversation was captured in Jay-Z’s 24-minute online doc, “Where I’m From.” I couldn’t help but smile when I watched the clip! (Skip to 19:20.)

(Top image via NY Mag)

Off to Boston!

trnsprtnation boston

Tomorrow morning, I’m off to to Boston for a super-quick trip. I’ll be in the city for less than 24 hours, but that leaves me enough time to catch up with some of my old newspaper pals and see my favorite dance buddy’s winter performance. (Yay, Jackie!) Then, on Sunday, I’m headed down to Connecticut for a second Thanksgiving with my dad.

When I was living in Boston, the T was the bane of my existence. I was on the green line and hated how there was a station nearly every block—and the trolley had to stop at traffic lights, too. I used to joke that the C line was what drove me back to NYC. But I love TRNSPRTNATION’S typographic illustration of the T system. Each line is comprised of the names of every stop along it, in their respective places.

trnsprtnation boston

Of course, the New Yorker in me was happy to see they have a NYC version, too—as well as London, Chicago and a few other cities.

(Images via TRNSPRTNATION)

Goodbye Troubles

Yi Peng Festival floating lanterns

Here’s a great image for your Friday. I stumbled across it earlier in the week, on NPR’s Tumblr, and every time it flitted into my thoughts, it brought a smile to my face.

Here’s the story behind it:

During the Yi Peng Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand, lanterns are launched into the night sky in the belief that grief and misfortune will fly away with them.

“Yee” refers to the second month in the lunar calendar and “Peng” means full moon—so the Thai hold this festival on the night of the full moon during the second lunar month. I love how the simple, positive ritual associated with it—of literally releasing your troubles—creates such a gorgeous sight. Yet another reason to visit Chiang Mai. рџ™‚

Happy Friday!

(photo by Hong Wu/Getty images, from News Hour via NPR)