Top Five Travel Experiences

Summer vacation season is officially upon us, so here are some of the fabulous experiences I’ve had while traveling (in no particular order). Tell me yours in the comments!

Zip Lining Through The Rainforest Canopy In Antigua

ZIP LINE copy 3Aboard the Carnival Freedom in 2010, my family and I chose a zip lining adventure excursion. I’d already zip lined a couple times in college, so it didn’t scare me, but my mother has a thing with heights and spent the whole trek through the trees twitching and freaking out that she’d be one of those who clutched the brake too soon and got stuck suspended 300 feet in the air while waiting for one of the guides to retrieve her. She made it through fine, but her fear was half the fun of the whole thing. (Does that make me a mean person?) It was a great time, but unfortunately we weren’t allowed to bring cameras, so this one is courtesy of antiguarainforest.com. Continue reading

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Five Unusual Food Experiences

We’re preparing for our annual restaurant issue at work, so I started thinking about my foodie adventures. Everyone has a favorite and/or least favorite meal and restaurant, but what about in between those ends of the spectrum? What have we tried that has expanded our palate and made us wonder what other delectable dishes are out there? Here are a handful of times I surprised myself (and my tongue) with some unusual food experiences.

Poi

Poi

My family and I spent two weeks on the Big Island of Hawaii in the summer of 2008, specifically on the coast of Kailua-Kona. Of course, we had to spend at least one night at a traditional luau, complete with roasted pig dug straight out of the ground, served with local side dishes and Hawaiian food staples like poi. I put a little on my plate to taste and was less than thrilled to discover that it is a gray paste completely devoid of any flavor and the consistency of cement pudding (gritty and mushy). Pictured above? My “why do people eat this?” face. Continue reading

Five Things That Inspire Me

I wanted to try something new for a PSA; it was easy for me to come up with five things that make me feel inspired—inspired to write, to see and try new things, to do good for others, to live my life to the fullest. Inspiration can hit in big or small ways and it doesn’t always present itself as a bright flash of motivation. Other times, it’s just a feeling of contentment, of knowing you’re doing okay, of being ready to take on the world one baby step at a time. I feel inspired every time I interview a person or organization doing great things for the community in my Blue Mountain’s Best feature for work or when I see someone being kind to a stranger. I think it’s important to find those little flashes in the day-to-day because allowing yourself to be swept up in monotony is a drain on what we’re capable of as humans; inspiration breeds creativity, something I’m quite prone to advocate for as a writer, along with positive vibes. Who couldn’t use a little more of that in their lives? That being said, here are five things (or people or places) that never fail to give me that little jolt.

1. The Ocean

11004390_10100364350201578_1793488586_nBeing born and raised a shore kid (and fueled by my childhood obsession with “The Little Mermaid”), I developed a deep and intense love for the ocean early in life. I love the heady aroma of sea air and the feel of my salt-encrusted skin when I leave the water, how alive I feel after being tossed around by the waves for a while and how just being close enough to hear them crashing on the beach rejuvenates my soul. (Trust me, I hear the cheese in that statement, but nevertheless, it’s true.) I call it my “happy place” and I go through periods of withdrawal, particularly during the winter months. Leaving the sea behind when I moved to PA was one of the hardest parts of the process. I’m transfixed by the immensity of it and fascinated by how it works, what lives in it, what makes it so powerful. I’ve always believed that if I hadn’t discovered such a love of writing and journalism, I would’ve studied marine biology. I can’t say what it is about it that affects me so deeply, but any time spent near churning, frothy water leaves me feeling completely recharged and ready to plow forward with whatever life has next in store. When I finally caught a break and got a job as a staff writer for a newspaper group in New Jersey and was abruptly let go less than a month after being hired, I drove myself straight to Sea Bright Beach where I sat on the sand for three hours, just staring at the horizon, planning my next move. For me, the ocean will always equal therapy. Continue reading

Five Favorite Summer Things

1. Snorkeling

Snorkeling

In my junior year of college, I took a creative nonfiction course. I figured it would be fun to write about my own experiences in a way that made them sound like someone else’s. I was right and wrong. Right in that it was fun to revisit old memories, wrong in the sense that it was a headache to make each one drip with sensory imagery to the point where they started to sound corny. But there was one that I didn’t mind as much, and that was the one in which I wrote about my experience snorkeling with wild dolphins off the Big Island of Hawaii entitled “Open My Eyes.” A quick snippet reads: I became addicted to the sound of my breath blowing in and out of a snorkel. We floated lazily over stunning coral and watched multi-colored fish dart in and out. Colors always seem brighter underwater; the yellows and pinks and turquoises of the fish looked so much more vibrant than they would if they were viewed on land. […] My face hit the water and I was home. That was the way I always felt when attached to a mask and snorkel […]” The rest, if you’re interested, can be read here. But yeah, it’s safe to say snorkeling is one of the great loves of my life. In a couple weeks, I hope to try SNUBA and also possibly take a diving class while vacationing in the Caribbean. (And yes, that’s me to the right, being a waterbug in Hawaii.) Continue reading