plumtreeblossom: (Puppy Luuurve)
Wow, what a wonderful, wonderful weekend I had with darling [livejournal.com profile] beowabbit in New York. It flew right by and I can't believe we're home already.

In not-necessarily-chronological order, we: had a snuggly ride down on the Fung Wah, noshed in Chinatown, relaxed in an Irish pub, hit the Strand Bookstore's location in the Financial District right around the corner from our hotel, loaded up on books and messenger bags, met up with Jay's very nice friend at the Museum of Natural History, attempted to visit the Rose Center (too late for the last show) paid a subdued evening visit to Ground Zero (1st time for both of us), enjoyed our hotel room ;-), ate street food, bought $65 worth of Japanese gourmet toothpaste (that was him. But he bought a tube for me, too, in "honey" flavor for his honey!), met up with several friends for brunch at dog-themed restaurant Fred's, had a yummy diner dinner with two other friends, and generally kicked around enjoying the awesomeness and pure Win that is New York.

I have one word for hotelling in New York: Priceline. We stayed in one of the nicest boutique hotels I've ever stayed at, actually probably the nicest, for a scant $125 a night (rack rate $400+, but even at usual discount it's over $200 for our size room). At one point I described the decor as "hipster hunting lodge." Beautiful, posh and very unique, and the staff was absolutely the politest I've ever met (I'm used to staying in tourist dives where the staff is surly). Neither of us had ever explored the Financial District before, so this gave us a chance. One of our brunch mates had met someone who actually lives on Wall Street, who described residing in the Financial District as being "just like living out in the country. Nobody lives there." We thoroughly enjoyed it. The next time you're visiting New York or one of the other cities it serves, try Priceline's "Name Your Own Price" option, and bid insanely low. You might just get it!

We had a cozy ride home reading, talking and snuggling, and actually got back to Boston at a decent hour. We looked like this userpic. Next on the nebulous slate: Montreal. :-) Love my traveling companion sweetie.



plumtreeblossom: (carfree)
The Amtrak carrying a sleepy [livejournal.com profile] beowabbit and me pulled into Boston at about 8:30 PM last night, closing our visit to DC. We had a wonderful time and are extremely glad we went.

This was the free anywhere-in-the-continental-US trip I won earlier this year. One of the main reasons we picked DC was because it was an easy location to meet up with the made-of-awesome [livejournal.com profile] bcat1 and [livejournal.com profile] spacechicken! (Where's the whizzle, yo?) They are [livejournal.com profile] beowabbit's sister and her husband. It was my first time meeting them and they couldn't have been cooler. On Saturday the four of us went to brunch at Union Station, spent the afternoon at the zoo in gorgeous weather, had a luscious Ethiopian dinner on the funky main drag of Adams Morgan, and hung out drinkin' back at "the crib." (You'll find out why it got dubbed that in a moment.) I hope we get to see them again soon, as they thoroughly rock.

One mistake in trip planning was made. The motel we booked, though perfectly serviceable in itself, was in a dangerous pisshole of an area, and rooms were occupied (probably long-term occupied on the public's dime) in part by people you wouldn't want to drop your wallet near. I was stupid to neglect reading the user reviews at TripAdvisor.com like I usually do. I read them post-trip this morning and saw that they all basically had the same experience, and as one user put it: "If you get bored you can watch the drug dealers and hookers making transactions." That about sums it up. The same woman who garbled "canihassumchayyyyyynge" at me when I stepped out for a night-time smoke drove away in the morning in a Mercedes with custom plates reading BIG DDY. 'Nuf said. Next time we'll ante up to stay in a better area.

But we didn't let it ruin the trip. After brunch and seeing [livejournal.com profile] bcat1 and [livejournal.com profile] spacechicken off for their drive to Raleigh-Durham, my sweet Wabbit and I went walking near the Capital Building and the National Mall. This was a sobering experience on a number of levels, but it's too much to go into now. Next to the drained and foul-smelling reflecting pool, I said "I have an idea. Lets go do the Smithsonian, and then lets move to Europe."

We did go to the Smithsonian; the Air and Space Museum specifically. It was fantastic, and I wish we'd had another day to see more museums. [livejournal.com profile] beowabbit, my extremely sweet sweetie, bought me a bracelet made entirely of polished magnets. No string holding them together; the magnets stay together by themselves. By then we were getting hungry and it was nearly closing time.

On the Metro en route to Dupont Circle, we impulsively decided to hop off and check out DC's Chinatown. This was a deliciously serendipitous detour, because while strolling near the spectacular Chinatown gate, we happened upon the first Burmese restaurant either of us had ever seen. Not missing the irony of discovering this cuisine at this particular time in global political history, we decided we couldn't pass up the opportunity to try it. So glad we did -- it was utterly delicious. I had noodles and chicken in a complex spicing, like nothing I've ever had before. He had pork in a savory bean sauce over rice, also fantastic. I'm going to be seriously craving those yummy noodles, but I don't know how I'll get them. Are there any Burmese restaurants in New England? Yes, there's one in Allston!

We eventually made it to beautiful Dupont Circle. We hit up a Lambda store and bought some trinkets, then had dessert in a bookstore/cafe. You know neither of us can go into a bookstore and not buy books. The cheesecake and pumpkin pie were generous and worth every penny.

Train travel is so much more pleasant and civilized that air travel these days. We enjoyed our ride home, reading, cuddling and watching a movie on Wabbit's Portable Movie Watching Gadget.

Where to next? :-)




plumtreeblossom: (pro-pluto)
After I got my first "well" paying job ("well" as compared to all my previous McJobs and theatre gigs), I was able to start living my lifelong dream of overseas travel. My goal was to visit a different new country every year until I died. I did that for a number of years and saw amazing places and cultures, just as I'd always longed to. But after 2004, a layoff and the ravages of Bush's war economy put overseas travel out of my reach for the time being. Knowing that as an American, I'm hated the world over anyway until such a time as my country redeems itself, I let my goal slide and focused on other things.

During that time I've done a good amount of domestic travel, and that's been wonderful. But I'm yearning for Big Travel again. I want to hear the unfamiliar jangle of foreign coins in my pocket. I want to need a phrasebook. I want weird flavors of potato chips that I've never seen before.

Times are a bit better for me financially now. I've just been lurking at my old friend TravelZoo.com. *sigh* There it is: the Outside World, and I've been missing it. And yes, I can afford it; I just have to get my ducks in a row and start socking away part of each paycheck. There are some places I simply can't afford, but there are lots and lots of places I can, and I'm interested in them and want to see them. They might not be so interested in seeing me, but I'm capable of demonstrating that an American traveler can be polite, respectful, conscious of her surroundings and grateful for the opportunity to learn new things.

I like traveling to one destination and really absorbing it. I'm glad I prefer this, because I can't take more than a week or so off from work at a time anyway. I find bargain accommodations, though I won't stay in hostels. I always get an actual room at a small mom & pop hotel, and even with the in-suite bathroom that I pay a little extra for, they're economical and charming. I eat where locals eat when I can. I walk and walk and walk.

I don't know where, but I'm going somewhere next year. In 2008, I will absolutely take an overseas trip, and nothing short of an asteroid hit will stop me!

plumtreeblossom: (sexytime)
Yes we are, October 12 through 15! I'm really excited, as I haven't been there since I was a kid. We'll be meeting up with [livejournal.com profile] beowabbit's sister and her husband while there, too! I won free Amtrak tickets earlier this year, which was the catalyst of the trip to begin with, and we both really enjoy train travel so it was a big win for all. We're museum lovers, so we'll be haunting the Smithsonian to our heart's content. Yay!

What I don't know are the neighborhoods of DC, and which ones would be good to stay in. Being within walking distance of the local subway system is crucial. We like to be in the thick of things, so not looking for suburbs or outskirts. We'd love a neighborhood with some Cool Stuff where we could just kick around a bit. Since out train travel is free, we don't have to pinch pennies so much on the hotel. Who's familiar with DC?




plumtreeblossom: (booze)
Our luggage was safely returned to [livejournal.com profile] beowabbit's doorstep, so now the tale can be told of...
Our Whirlwind Sin City Trip... )
plumtreeblossom: (summer)
As of today I have done exactly no prep for the Las Vegas trip. I did buy a travel guide, but I haven't read it yet. I expect we'll do that on the plane.

Thing is, I don't know what to bring. Two things I don't own are shorts or a bathing suit. Will I need these? What else will I need? I don't expect we'll go anywhere super-dressy, but are jeans or business-casual okay in most places?

If I have to buy a bathing suit, I want a womens' black Speedo tank suit, just like the swim team wears. I'm too fat for a bikini and too cool for an old lady bathing suit. But I don't mind looking like a lifeguard.

Help me out, peeps. What to wear in Vegas?

plumtreeblossom: (Puppy Luuurve)
The weekend in Maine with [livejournal.com profile] beowabbit was over too fast! We got home yesterday afternoon rested and snuggly from our adventure. Our first out-of-town weekend was a delight.

We stayed in a remote B&B in a wee Maine hamlet that featured Finnish saunas and a huge hot tub. Can you believe this was the first time I was ever in a real hot tub? We arrived too late on Friday for sauna and tubbing, but on Saturday evening we joined the lively group of regulars who frequent the sauna as much for socializing as for the general deliciousness of all that heat in the midst of still-snowy Maine springtime.

We only had a few minutes in the sauna because it was so busy, but we spent a long, luxurious time in the bubbly hot tub. It was outdoors, under the night sky, full of interesting folks to talk to. It was a good four feet deep in the middle. It felt soooo good to sink up to our necks in the fizzy heat of the tub, then pop out and sit on the edge to be cooled by the night air, which I would estimate was in the 30s. At one point we scampered out to take a dip in the enclosed swimming pool (icy by comparison!) and Wabbit did better at that than I did. Then back in the tub.

Our room had a canopy bed draped in mosquito netting. We had a number of very good meals in town, with the only culinary downside being that we did not get to have Arby's! Right before we left Boston, I got it in my head that we needed to find an Arby's if we could, because I love it and there aren't any Arby's in the Boston area anymore. We did locate one, and my beloved [livejournal.com profile] beowabbit gallantly got us there (twice!) but it was closed both times. Outside of greater Boston, New England is CLOSED on Easter Sunday, just so you know.

Just like in A Christmas Story, we were saved by a Chinese restaurant in Portland when our bellies were woefully empty of Arby's. Then we wandered into an antique shop run by a classic, friendly old Mainer who chatted with us before our final leg home.

Thank you, sweetie, for coming up with the perfect getaway weekend!
plumtreeblossom: (summer)
Off to Maine this evening with Wabbit. We're going to a secluded B&B that has saunas and a hot tub. Mmmm, delicious warmth. Since this month is still so wintery cold, I think we picked the best destination this side of the Caribbean.

I won't have cell-phone access due to the location, but apparently there's free wireless there or somewhere nearby, so if Jay lets me borrow his gadget I'll probably be able to check e-mail a few times before we're back on Sunday. If you need anything from me sooner, contact me before 4:00 PM today.

Have a great weekend!
plumtreeblossom: (webcam)
So, it turns out I've won a pair of round-trip tickets on Amtrak to anywhere in the continental US, usable anytime between now and December 16, 2007. I was entered automatically in the sweepstakes when I bought an Amtrak ticket to Rochester in December, and I didn't even know it. When the first notification came I assumed it wasn't legit, but upon calling Amtrak, it's a genuine win. I've never been the type to win sweepstakes or drawings, so this is a lovely surprise. I've discovered over these past few Christmases how much I enjoy train travel.

[livejournal.com profile] beowabbit naturally has dibs on the companion ticket. But where to go? Wabbit pointed out that it would be a waste to use it for New York, when for almost nothing you can get there on Fung Wah (with a nice crackling fire in the back for keeping warm). A co-worker said "Take it as far as you can go! Go to Seattle or California!" Well, sure I like train travel, but I wouldn't want to be on one for four days each way. I'd probably put the one-way travel lid at 12 hours or so.

But within that range, I wonder where might be fun to go? DC might make a nice Autumn trip, and we could go nuts in The Smithsonian. Or Niagara Falls, NY (we could cross over to the Canadian side on our own).

Some not-too-far places that I've yet to visit as an adult:

Baltimore
Philadelphia (was there at age 3, which doesn't count)
Atlantic City, NJ (Boardwalk! Frozen Custard!)
Long Island
Saratoga Springs, NY (heard it's gorgeous, good hiking)
Williamsburg, VA (was there at age 8 but remember little)

Wabbit is having a crummy day due to phone-gone-missing, so I'm sure he's in no mood to think about travel today. But no decision needs to be made any time soon anyway. Just fun to start thinking about.

Here's where Amtrak goes in the general Northeast area. Any suggestions or inspired ideas?
plumtreeblossom: (gingerbread)
In case you were wondering where I'll be spending Christmas, and/or are curious as to the foundation of my teenage misfit angst that sent me sprinting barefoot down the Yellow Brick Road to the city, nevermore to live in suburbia, I give you:

Pittsford, NY

I just wasn't white enough.



plumtreeblossom: (writing)
Real sentences found by me on the Transportation Security Administration (tsa.gov) website:


***
If a Security Officer can't determine that a [bandage] dressing is free of prohibited items, you will be denied access to the sterile area.

It is recommended that persons using an animal for assistance carry appropriate identification. Identification may include: cards or documentation, presence of a harness or markings on the harness, or other credible assurance of the passenger using the animal for their disability.

Family members or traveling companions can stay with the [disabled] person during a public or private screening. They may, however, need to be rescreened if they provide assistance to the person.

The inspection process may require that the handler take off the monkey's diaper as part of the visual inspection.

Notify the Security Officer if you need to sit down before or during the screening process.

Security Officers will inspect your wheelchair or scooter and sample it for traces of explosives.

If you are concerned or uncomfortable with going through the walk-through metal detector, or are uneasy with having your external component of your cochlear implant x-rayed, you can ask for a full body pat-down and a visual and physical inspection of the exterior component while you wear it.

Security Officers will need to see and touch your prosthetic device, cast or support brace as part of the screening process.

Federal regulations prohibit airlines from allowing passengers to bring their own oxygen canisters aboard to use during the flight.

The security officer should offer you a private screening if you will need to lift or raise your clothing for the ETD sample.

At any time during the screening process you can request a disposable paper drape for privacy.

***
I don't mean to be harping on this, but the above reads like science fiction. Scary, surreal, future-totalitarian science fiction. But this isn't a book you can close and say "Whew, what an imagination that author has!" The author is our government.

I wouldn't be thinking about this so much if travel weren't so dear to my heart. If I had to list the 10 most important things I've done in my adult life, several of them would be overseas trips I've taken. As a single female who usually travels alone, I have almost always been singled out for luggage content searches and extra pat-downs (solo female travelers are high on the suspect list as drug mules. Maybe we're potential terroristas now, too.). But now that everyone is being searched to that extent, what more can I expect to be subjected to if I took a trip? All travelers are presumed guilty until proven innocent, even if that involves a strip search. (Lets see if they come up with government-speak "friendly" jargon for strip search, like "Sub-apparel Safety Screening.")

We were joking yesterday about being scared. But frankly, I am scared. And sad. Sad for the little old men being hoisted from their wheelchairs so their trusses can be checked. Sad for young children who don't know why grownups are making them stand still while a big German Shepard smells their crotch. Sad for me, and you, and anyone who wants to travel but is frightened by the nightmarish frenzy designed to do exactly that: frighten them.

The saddest part? The fact that I felt it in my best interest to make this post non-public. I changed my mind about that.

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