Tag: travel

Monterey and Carmel

Monterey and Carmel

We were up and out early on Saturday. We took the scenic route to Monterey along the coast. Monterey is as lovely as I had imagined. We went straight to the marathon expo at the Portola Hotel. It was not difficult to find, just follow the Boston Marathon jackets and race tech tees. There was a line of people waiting to get their photo taken in front of a Big Sur International Marathon sign. I thought, what’s the big deal? Well I didn’t realize at first that the sign had the names of all the runners. Of course I jumped in line. Thankfully the names were in alphabetical order. Carlos gets his photography skills from me!

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We wandered down to the wharf in Monterey. We took some photos and saw a few sea lions.

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We had time to kill before we could check into our hotel so we decided to drive to Carmel to scope out the finish line area. We found the finish area easily and then went straight to the beach. It was beautiful out, but a bit chilly. Carlos and Orlando played soccer. Carlos made friends with JD the black lab.

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I lounged and watched people perfect their selfies and social media posts. You cannot believe how long it takes a group of four women to coordinate a simultaneous jump for joy and have it captured on camera. It actually takes less time to do that than it does for boyfriend to photograph girlfriend throwing her scarf in the air, over and over and over again. How cute??!

We discovered we were very close to one of the entrances to the 17 Mile Drive around Pebble Beach. If you are into gorgeous scenery, slow drives, and imagining what it would be like to live in stunning homes then this is well worth the $10. Orlando and I loved it. We dream of one day building our own seaside home on our land in a small beach town in Mozambique. Of course it will be nowhere near as grand as the homes we saw. We stopped at many of the landmarks on the ocean and that gave Carlos the opportunity to climb on the rocks so he was happy too.img_2532-1

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Back in Monterey we checked into the Munras Inn. The room was lovely, but we would have preferred a vacation rental that offers a little more space. Lodging is expensive in the Monterey/Carmel area. For anyone planning their trip to the area specifically for the marathon, plan early and check out VRBO, Home Away, etc. in Pacific Grove, Monterey, and Carmel. Had I started planning a little earlier we might have found a property at a more reasonable price, although these areas are pricey in general. Our hotel was a little less than a mile to the Marriot where I would catch the bus for Big Sur on marathon morning. It was an easy walk and with so many runners out I wasn’t worried about being alone. My family was very appreciative that I didn’t wake them at 3:45AM to drive me.

I thought about attending the pasta dinner, but the only seatings were at 4:30 and 5:30PM, but we were still out in Carmel. We found a local Italian place. I had a sub-par dish of spaghetti. It was a bit disappointing because running a marathon is really my only excuse to enjoy a big bowl of pasta.

There is a ritualistic process that takes place the night before a marathon. First I lay out my clothing for the race. I always put the safety pins in the bib unfastened. I set up all of my necessities. Most importantly I set as many alarms as I can especially when a race requires a 2:40AM wake up call. I was terrified I wouldn’t wake up on time for the race.

Then I was asleep in a matter of minutes once I got into bed. It was a beautiful, relaxing day, but I was excited and anxious about the marathon.

 

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Fort Ticonderoga

I won’t give a history lesson here, but if you are interested in the Revolutionary War time period or have children who are studying it and you don’t live too far I would highly recommend visiting Fort Ticonderoga. It was immensely interesting and very engaging for all ages.

Before I get to the fort let me rewind to the early morning. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to run in a new place so I set off on foot to discover a little bit more of Hague, NY. I was expecting a crisp cool fall morning, but the temperature was warming up quickly. The area is very hilly, but beautiful in every direction. I ran back past the Hague Market, along a wooded trail and then up a huge hill where I came across an old cemetery. I stopped at the cemetery and walked around a bit before heading back to the resort. The foliage was so rich and colorful. My run was slow with lots of photo breaks.

After my run I grabbed Carlos to go kayaking. We each had our own kayak and we rowed out away from the dock in silence, Carlos leading the way. Carlos went to a kayak camp this summer for a week. I watched him in awe as he maneuvered the kayak effortlessly over the calm water. He was confident and strong. We didn’t talk much and just enjoyed the peacefulness of the lake and the gorgeous scenery.

I could have stayed out there all day, but we really had to get back to the cabin and get a move on if we wanted to make it to Fort Ticonderoga. After checking out of the resort we returned to Libby’s for breakfast. Then it was time for the main attraction. From the parking lot it doesn’t look like much, but once we passed through the welcome center which houses the gift shop and restaurant you go through a door to be greeted with a spectacular views all around.

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We wandered around for about 20 minutes awaiting the next tour. There was a wall with chronological information. You could peruse the cannons on display. The fort was strategically built overlooking the outlet of the La Chute River which connects Lake George to Lake Champlain. This was an important area because it essentially linked New France to New York.

Fort Ticonderoga was built by the French beginning in 1755 and originally called Carillon. The fort changed hands a number of times. In 1759 the British defeated the French there and took control of the fort for the next 16 years. In what is considered the first American victory of the Revolutionary War, Fort Ticonderoga was captured on May 10, 1775 by Benedict Arnold, Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys.

The tour began with a lengthy history by our very intelligent and sarcastically witty tour guide.

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Once inside the fort you could roam around checking out the various rooms like the shoe workshop, the tailor’s shop and a bunk room. There was also a museum on the top floor of the building with historical artifacts, weaponry, clothing and paintings.

We were invited to return back outside of the fort to watch a demonstration of muskets being fired.

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From there we took a tour of the King’s Garden.

The corn maze adventure was next on our list. It was actually quite easy which worked out great since it was beginning to get very warm out and we were all hungry for lunch. We ate lunch on site and enjoyed the gorgeous views. On our way out we were given directions to Mount Defiance. For a small fee you also received a ticket to drive up Mount Defiance just across the river from Fort Ticonderoga. During colonial times the mountain was deemed too steep to fortify with troops and weaponry despite the major vantage point from the top until finally in July 1977, British General Burgoyne ignored past skepticism and brought his cannons up the mountain forcing the Americans to abandon the forts below.

Once at the base of the mountain I did my best to convince Carlos and Orlando to hike up the mountain. It’s only about a mile up. They reluctantly agreed and complained the entire way up! Wimps!! However, once at the top we were treated to amazing views all around.

We decided to take the nearby ferry across Lake Champlain into Vermont on our way home. The small ferry crosses in only 6 minutes on cables to a dock directly across the lake. You can even buy Vermont maple syrup and a few other goodies on board.

Whew! That’s it for our weekend getaway. I would highly recommend checking out north western Lake George and the Ticonderoga area.

In Flight

I’m on a plane right now flying home from Fort Lauderdale.

I love to travel. I actually love flying and would probably go anywhere if given the opportunity. This past year has been full of road trips mostly for races aside from our trip to Arizona in February. We had planned to return to Mozambique for the 2013 holidays, but after a rash of kidnappings in and around the Capitol of Maputo, including that of a young boy who was subsequently murdered and a former Peace Corps staff person’s wife who thankfully was returned unharmed, we decided to postpone our trip. We were also keeping watch on the increasingly unstable political situation in Mozambique.

Briefly, Mozambique is set to have its third presidential election this year. All eyes are on the current president, Armando Guebuza, from the Frelimo party who will finish his second and last term as president. Some are worried that he will try to find a way to stay in power thereby defeating the democratic process and creating the pathway to dictatorship like its neighbor Zimbabwe. The opposing political party, Renamo, has been stirring up old wounds since the fall. There have been some fatalities as a result of Renamo led uprisings in the north. It’s very sad and frightening to watch from afar, hoping and praying for some resolve, but as of yet nothing has been done to stop Renamo’s actions. So for now our plans to return to Mozambique are pushed back to possibly February 2015.

In the meantime I’m just dying to get the heck out of dodge. I miss international travel, but like I said, I’ll go just about anywhere especially if air travel is involved. This little trip to Florida was spontaneously schemed up by yours truly on a hot, humid run last Friday. Carlos hasn’t seen his grandpa in a while. I had this Tuesday and Wednesday night off. My mom was also vacationing in Fort Lauderdale with her husband and my aunt and uncle. So Carlos will fly back with them on Saturday since I have to work all weekend. Hmmm how could I possibly coordinate this trip on such short notice?!  Within two hours after my run we were booked! I left work at 6a.m. Tuesday morning, took a quick shower, got dressed, threw a carry on in the car, and Carlos and I were at the airport by 7:15 a.m. Carlos is an awesome traveler and that’s how we roll!

Ok I don’t love Florida, never have, but this trip was about family and I at least got two plane rides out of it! I enjoyed a day at the beach with my dad and Carlos. I finally met my cousin’s baby. I stumbled upon an amazing organic farmers market with so many wonderful vegan treats. I convinced my dad to try a gluten free, mostly vegan organic restaurant for lunch yesterday. The Coke guzzling, meat eater actually seemed to enjoy it. I loved it!! So for such a quick trip it was quite enjoyable, but I still daydream of travels to faraway places.

My sister is a jet setting executive for a tech company. She just started this job last year late fall and she’s been traveling nonstop. I’m less jealous now than I would have been pre-Carlos because as much as I yearn to travel I don’t wish to be away from my family for more than a day or two every now and then. My sister mentioned recently that she would be going to Australia in July for work. Cue the seething green eyed monster!!

Visiting Australia has been a dream since I was 10. I had a soft fuzzy stuffed koala pencil hugger and that song Down Under by Men at Work was popular. Suddenly Australia was on my radar. I looked at world maps, dreamed about what it would be like to visit and read everything I could about the faraway nation. There was something so exotic about a place that distant.  A couple of years later, INXS became my favorite band and the fascination with the land down under intensified. It was the distance, the accent, the beaches and the mystique of the outback that sparked my interest. Oh right and I was also hopelessly infatuated with Michael Hutchence, the lead singer of INXS (don’t judge!).

My junior year of college I walked into the study abroad office at UMass Amherst hell bent on finally getting to Australia via their study abroad program. However, somehow I ended up in a short Spanish immersion program in Cuernavaca, Mexico which led to a full semester in Taxco, Mexico a year later. No regrets though. I developed a passion for Mexican culture, history and art and because it was relatively inexpensive to study and live in Mexico I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel around almost all of central and southern Mexico. I loved my experience there and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Fast forward to today…I have yet to travel to Australia, but I still dream of it. Later this month my dream will finally become a reality. Carlos and I will accompany my sister on her trip down under. I am still in disbelief that this is happening. The whole thing transpired very quickly. If it wasn’t amazing enough to be going to Australia, we will also be spending a full day and night in Fiji!!

When my sister casually mentioned that we should come along the old Aimee would have let jealousy consume her. In the past my side of the conversation would have sounded a lot like this:

“That’s ridiculous. I have to work. Not everyone can just take off for two weeks. Lucky you.”

Instead of playing the martyr like I used to do so often I found a way to make it happen. I never take time off from work. I fill in whenever I can for my coworkers when they need time off. I always find coverage for my shifts. So I decided to just ask for the time off and despite the short notice my boss was supportive and is really excited for me. I don’t spend my money irresponsibly. I’m a great saver. I always pick up extra shifts if I can to make up for time I miss. Sure I’m working the next 12 out of 14 nights, but at the end of 2 weeks I will live out a long time dream. This quick trip to Florida helped me to set a plan of action down on paper to organize life for the next couple of weeks. I am looking forward to sharing this experience with two very special people, my son and my sister. My sister and I have her wedding plans to discuss and I am thrilled to be able to spend quality time with Carlos on a new adventure.

Wait, what about my husband? Unfortunately he won’t be joining us. Orlando is a mason and this past winter he was laid off for months. He’s back to work and fortunately he’s incredibly busy. He can’t take time off when the work is abundant because you never know what the winter will bring. We will miss him, but he understands and fully supports our travels. He is a little envious of our trip to Australia though!

“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.” Napoleon Hill