Thursday, July 31, 2014

About Last Night

Pollen #centralpark #flowerpower #nyc 2014
I have been making the trek to and from Washington DC since 2008 with a major league focus on issues related to health care and aging.  Some months there are more trips and other months there are no trips.  Sometimes I fly and other times I take the train with a very huge preference for the train.

Aside from one trip in April 2009 that happened to coincide with prime cherry blossom viewing, I don’t often take long walks in DC.  This was as much about ability it was about having the time.  By ability I mean that I had a very arthritic left toe up until about 11 months ago that limited my walking.  I’ve blogged about the toe and my post-op recovery in a run of posts from last fall (Wiggling My ToesBendingMy Toes (and Assorted Random Thoughts), First Steps and New Toys, and Rolling through My Toes).

Which brings me to last night.  Now I just know you were hoping for something salacious but I got nothing for you along those lines.  I just have a story of nice long walk and reaching a personal milestone that I’ve been hankering to reach for some time now.  In a nutshell, I walked from one end of the mall in Washington, DC to the other AND back!  Along the way, I took in some sights – including the Vietnam and World War II Memorials as well as the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.

Shades of Green #centralpark #flowerpower #nyc 2014
Shades of Green
 The walk was inspired by a couple of friends who always run to the Lincoln Memorial when in DC.  It wasn’t the longest distance I’ve walked since having toe surgery.  Yet, it was a walk that I’ve wanted to take for quite some time now but couldn’t.   The only regret I have is that I did not stop to ride the Merry Go Round.  Next time.

I've been playing with my macro lens off and on since flowers started sprouting this spring.  It's definitely a learning experience.  I was finding that it was MUCH harder to trick my mirrorless camera (the Olympus OMD EM5) than it was to trick my micro-four thirds camera (Olympus E-620) when it comes to using my zoom to take macro photos and so I figured I should learn practice more with the lens that is actually made for that purpose.  More photos at Macrolicious.

Vibrant #centralpark #flowerpower #nyc 2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Walk Across the Manhattan Bridge

It's been just over a year since I walked over the Brooklyn Bridge with my niece Julia (A Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge).  The Brooklyn Bridge is a great walk -- particularly if you get there early and start your jaunt on the Brooklyn side and walk towards Manhattan.  I've done it several times over the course of the past several months with various visitors from NYC.  

I've also discovered the walk across the Manhattan Bridge -- a much less traveled route that boasts some amazing views of the Brooklyn Bridge against lower Manhattan.  The bridge is definitely a grittier cousin to the Brooklyn, sporting graffiti and subway tracks in addition to the obligatory car/truck/bus/pedestrian/bicycle traffic.  My favorite part of this walk is the view out over Chinatown and the graffiti that decorates the rooftops and walls that surround the bridge. 

If you go, know that it can be a bit challenging when it comes to taking photos as there is a chain link fence that runs along most of the length of the bridge.  And be prepared for some shaking and noise whenever the subway rolls on through.  

For more photos from my now several walks across the Manhattan Bridge visit Manhattan Bridge Scenes.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Trip Planning

Peony Bud, Conservatory Garden #peony #peonies #conservatorygarden #centralpark #nyc 2014
Peony Bud, Conservatory Garden
It seemed like a relatively simple assignment -- find hotels for a driving trip out West with the intrepid Nancy B (aka the B).  She is in charge of the car and the mapping and I am in charge of finding us places to sleep.  I thought I had it all figured out with the park lodges but these are booked, booked, booked.  Head slapping moment -- I know those park lodges book a year in advance.  On to web searches to figure out where to stay.

Hmm, pretty much everything is booked, booked, booked.  Apparently, Zion, Bryce, and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon are very popular in late September/early October!   Who knew?  We jiggered the timing a bit and we are almost finished with the hotel reservations.  None too soon because I am exhausted!

Ethereal, Conservatory Garden #peony #peonies #conservatorygarden #centralpark #nyc 2014
Ethereal, Conservatory Garden
You're probably thinking to yourself, what is she nattering on about with sites like Travelocity, Expedia, and kayak to do the searching and price-comparing.  And there is TripAdvisor for seeing feedback from real customers.  There-in lies the rub -- there is such a plethora of information that it can be a bit overwhelming.  That from an experienced traveler!  Add to that the variability of opinions on TripAdvisor and you get "headache inducing" as I wrote to the B at one point this evening.   

Unfurling, Conservatory Garden #peony #peonies #conservatorygarden #centralpark #nyc 2014
Unfurling, Conservatory Garden
At some point, one just has to take a deep breath and book a room (or two) and put the reviews aside because there is no way you can decide between the cadre of folks that say the beds are too soft and the ones who say the beds are too hard.  Much less discern whether a stranger's opinion of what constitutes clean is in sync with your own opinion of what constitutes clean.  I had someone contact me once (while I was on vacation no less) to ask about a review I had done on TripAdvisor -- she noted that mine was the only one that seemed like it had been written by a real person!  High praise indeed.

Tomorrow I am going to tackle lodging at Bryce Canyon -- for the third time -- I am sure that that will be the charm.  We have zero'd in on a Bed & Breakfast.  It seems to have a room that meets our requirements.  And it is within striking distance of the canyon.  If all else fails, I am sure we can rent camping gear.  We'll just need to practice our fire starting skills a bit more.

Perfection, Conservatory Garden #peony #peonies #conservatorygarden #centralpark #nyc 2013
Perfection, Conservatory Garden