Ever Driven Through a Snow Storm in North Carolina?

I’m from Massachusetts, I don’t use the term “snow storm” lightly. This past February I travelled 18 hours driving through snow storms from Massachusetts to North Carolina. It was probably the most stressful 24 hours of my life, because there were moments when I was fairly sure I would die when a tractor trailers going 70mph on an inch of packed down snow passed us in the left lane, while the lanes had shrunk from snow banks by at least a foot on either side.

There were 2 or 3 times when I thought we would be stuck indefinitely, and miss our cruise out of Tampa Florida. I woke up on Wednesday at around 9am, we left Massachusetts at 8pm on that Wednesday, and did not sleep until 9pm Thursday night in Savannah. We were on the verge of tripping from lack of sleep by the time we finished our delicious seafood meal on the river… unless it was all a hallucination at that point?

These pictures are from North Carolina!

20140213_134031

20140213_131425

I’m not exaggerating when I rate this as the most stressed out 24 hours of my life. I do have a pretty laid back life in general, and perhaps you are jealous that this was the pinnacle of my worry. But I don’t know that I can convey fully the feelings I had that $1200 may go to waste if we missed the ship. Or that a vacation I’d been looking forward to for 5 months would come crashing down around me, forcing me to wait for the snow to melt in North Carolina. This was a long cold winter, and we hoped to feel some relief by the time we hit Virginia. Instead, we brought a terrible little piece of New England to the south. Yee-haw!

And I’m not sure if you have noticed, but truck drivers are insane. We stopped counting the number of tractor trailers stuck on the side of the road, flipped on their side, and down in the ditches. I tried not to think about it, but imminent death was not far from my mind. But we had a cruise to catch, let’s get our priorities in order!

At one point traffic in the hills of western North Carolina came to a halt, but a stroke of luck placed us just feet before an exit. We decided to take the exit, and wriggle our way through some backroads, since there was no indication that the traffic would begin moving again… until after the cruise ship left.

So we found a nice cut off road and thought (how naive) that perhaps the backroads would be better… perhaps the delirium was already setting in; I don’t think North Carolina has a single plow. Scratch that, I remember almost being run off the road by a team of plowers on the highway. So we hopped onto the back road that would lead to a state highway. Did I say backroad? I meant snow covered field that apparently had a road somewhere in it. Kudos to my sister’s boyfriend for properly navigating the tundra.

The Carolinians were having a ball! They smiled and waved as we passed, they sledded off their roofs, and spun out in their trucks. They stood in the road with their dogs and toddlers as we approached, and rage filled us knowing full well we would never get the car going again if we had to stop. By the way, I cannot express deeply enough my love for chrysler mini-vans after this trip. We borrowed my mom’s to take the trip, and it may have saved our lives, and saved our vacation. Seriously.

Alright, finally, the highway should be just ahead. Oh right, we are in North Carolina, and this is what they call a highway.

20140213_131419

But we counted our blessings; at least we could see where the road was now. Again, Matt expertly navigated the many turns and hills which I cannot believe we made it up, over, down and around.

When the snow finally cleared, it began melting pretty quick. We decided this was a good time to stop for some gas and snacks while the traffic and snow cleared up a bit on the highway. Wonderful woman behind the counter at the store; she was quite concerned for us. We let her know that it would be smooth sailing from here on out: we are from Massachusetts after all. Everyone else was in full crisis mode, banding together for the apocalypse. “Yea we just drove our four wheelers to the gas station cuz, damn, how else were we gonna get here?” Good point… although I suppose you could have just… you know, stayed home. Hey I’d probably be excited too under the circumstances.

But its crazy how something so stressful can be such a fun adventure in hindsight. I know I’ll look back at that trip forever with nostalgic feelings, reminiscent of the multiple near death experiences. And I vowed to make the trip home the last time I ever drive through the night on a road trip. It’s not worth it. It’s dangerous, and terribly exhausting.

But I can say with certainly that when we finally got down to Florida and saw the palm trees, and when we boarded that cruise ship to take us to the Caribbean… I don’t think I have ever been more relieved and relaxed. It’s like when you’re so hungry that good food tastes that much better. It was my first cruise, and a phenomenally good time. I savored every minute, and reminded myself daily to enjoy the moment. I think that helped me retain the feelings I got from the paradise, made so much more potent by the extreme winter weather that followed us all the way to the Carolinas.

Advertisements

Magical Elderberries

“Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries.” -French Guy in Castle, Monty Python and the Holy Grail

For a long time, that was about all the exposure I had to elderberries. But recently, my sister’s boyfriend has been searching for wild elderberries to forage in order to make some elderberry infused hard cider. I have come across many berries foraging, but until recently I only picked the obviously edible ones: blackberries, raspberries, grapes, and bunchberries. Now that I have properly identified them, I know I have seen elderberries, or the American Elder, many times before.

20140824_134607

This is sort of how the progression of foraging has worked for me. In the beginning, everything just looked green. Grass, shrub, brush, tree. But then as I reviewed my foraging books I realized that in one square foot there might be 15 different plants, where as before it just all looked like grass. Foraging is tedious in the beginning, because you must review the plants you are after, and then consult the book every time you spot something that looks familiar. And then most of the time, it is not in fact what you are looking for. The time is not wasted since now you know to pass by the plant, but it can be disappointing to spend 10 minutes trying to identify something you are hoping to eat, only to realize it is not edible.

But after this process is repeated many times, certain plants can be noticed everywhere! It is just a matter of continuously reviewing the plants in the books, and consulting the books every time you think you find an edible plant in the field. The frequency of being correct when spotting what you think is a wild edible increases as your knowledge increases, and then foraging becomes more fun.

So that is where I felt I was with berries. I had a lot of the green stuff down: everywhere I go I now see common plantain, japanese knot-wood, purslane, lady’s thumb, burdock, etc. But when I would see berries in the field all I saw was: red berries, purple berries, large berries, small berries, hard berries, etc. After Sunday’s little foraging adventure however, I feel more comfortable with certain berries, which will undoubtedly propel future identifications, since I have some references in my head to either quickly rule certain ones out, or recognize them.

I identified chokecherries and elderberries while ruling out the edibility of a shiny bunchy blue berry, and smaller, less juicy red berries. I also laid the groundwork of identification so that hopefully next time around I can make sure what I saw were in fact not-quite-ripe hawthorns. I left the chokecherries alone; while edible they contain poisonous pits with hydrocyanic acid. But I gathered almost a full ziplock sandwich bag full of elderberries, and will probably return for more. Then I froze them, and will be giving them to my sister and her boyfriend as to better use them for important homemade products: various alcohols.

The two pictures I took and posted here were actually some of the more sparsely berried plants I found. Elderberries can form significantly larger bunches that “umbrella” out at the end. Elderberries do NOT grow from one hanging stem like black cherries and the poisonous pokeweed.

20140824_134559

But it turns out wine and jam are not the only things great about elderberries. For hundreds—possibly thousands—of years, elderberries, elder flowers, and even the leaves have been reputed to have magical and or healing properties. Since sickness was sometimes blamed on black magic back in the day, I think the healing properties of elderberry are one and the same with the magical properties. Or maybe there is more than meets the eye. Elderberry bushes are said to cause visions of fairies and elves if you sit under one on a midsummer night. I hear these sightings are even more vivid if earlier in the day you ate certain foraged mushrooms. 😉

But according to The Green Pharmacy by James A. Duke, elderberries can be used to help against flu, cough, and colds, as well as improve immune system function. Also, according to this website, elderberries are one of the highest anti-oxidant containing fruits, which is why they would help to improve immune function, and ward off colds and flu.

Elderberry fruits are an excellent source of anthocyanins, vitamins A and C and a good source of calcium, iron and vitamin B6 (Table 1). They also contain sterols, tannins, and essential oils (Anon. 2005) and can readily be considered a healthy food…

In folk medicine, elder berries have been used for their diaphoretic, laxative and diuretic properties (Uncini Manganelli et al. 2005; Merica et al. 2006) and to treat various illnesses such as stomach ache, sinus conges- tion, constipation, diarrhea, sore throat, common cold, and rheumatism (Novelli 2003; Uncini Manganelli et al. 2005). The flowers are said to have diaphoretic, anti-catarrhal, expectorant, circulatory stimulant, diuretic, and topical anti-inflammatory actions (Merica et al. 2006). Some of these properties seem justified since elderberry fruits contain tannins and viburnic acid, both known to have a positive effect on diarrhea, nasal congestion, and to improve respiration (Novelli 2003). Leaves and inner bark have also been used for their purgative, emetic, diuretic, laxative, topical emollient, expectorant, and diaphoretic action (Merica et al. 2006).

I’ll be sure to update you all on how great I feel after sampling some of the hard cider and wine made from my foraged elderberries!

Solid Day of Canoeing on My Favorite Lake

20140821_130424

Yesterday’s canoe trip to a lake a couple towns over started off a bit rough. When I turned the canoe over to put it on my car, there were various species of spiders living on and inside, with about 6,000 baby spiders each. I felt a little bad hosing them off, but I wasn’t about to share my canoe trip with them. Then, before we hoisted the canoe on top of the car, a small snake appeared on the back of the canoe. Now although I am not afraid of snakes, I couldn’t help but freak out a bit because when I say appeared, I mean it was not there one second, and was there the next second. I have no idea where it came from, though my friend thinks it may have been tossed into the canoe from the opening of my car’s trunk. We just tipped the canoe to let him escape into the woods.

IMG_20140821_120653

It was like a mini-horror movie… but not really. The rest of the trip was quite a good time. Had some subs out on the lake, visited some islands, ate some wild blueberries, tossed some logs into a tree for sport… and it miraculously became art.

IMG_0920

Is it horrible that we fed some ants to the school of fish by the shore on one of the islands? I mean, fish need to eat too…

IMG_0936

Alex struck a gargoyle pose after shoving off… or he might have been stuck I’m not sure.

IMG_0940

It was slightly cloudy, but that didn’t ruin anything. In fact it might have been better with the cooler weather.

IMG_0938

A good shot from the bow…

IMG_0931

And of the stern with Steve’s finger in it (btw thanks Steve for taking all these pictures)…

IMG_0919

And yes I had to look up the terms bow and stern…

IMG_0915

 

Don’t Fear the Light: Openness vs. Blind Faith


plato
I believe it was Carlsbad Caverns that my family toured when I was going into fourth grade. We were taken deep beneath the earth’s surface, and guided into a large domed cave within the natural underground tunnels. The tour guide told us to put our hand 12 inches in front of our face, and he turned off the flashlight. “Can you see the outline of your hand?” he asked. We all could–or so we thought. There was no light at this depth in these caves detectable by the human eye, and the outline we thought we saw was simply a construction of our brain. A single match was then lit, flooding the ballroom sized cavern with enough light to see every stalactite and stalagmite in wonderful detail.

It seems likely that a humans’ aversion to new ideas is rooted in evolution. If what you have been doing has always worked for survival, changing it could be quite dangerous. Why let someone convince you to go out on a limb that could snap, instead of continuing practices that have always kept you alive? It is understandable that our survival instincts tell us to fear change, and support the status quo. If there were berries and game here last year, there will probably be next year as well.

But in evolution danger lies in too homogeneous a species. There is still much mystery surrounding why, but about 70,000 years ago the human population of earth “bottlenecked” and was reduced to somewhere between 2,000 and 10,000 individuals. Humans were extremely endangered and essentially almost went extinct. For the people living before the event or series of events or long-term change, there was not much reason to change what had worked for survival. But for some reason, a bunch of humans died off, and only a small group survived.

I don’t know why that group survived. It could have been a genetic variation, or special skills one group possessed, or perhaps, the ability to adapt. While many other humans could not break with tradition in terms of “what has always worked”, maybe a small group was able to reassess their method of survival, and change it in order to survive in the new environment. Whether the new environment was caused by climate, predators, wars, disease, famine, or aliens hardly matters. What matters is the ability to predict upheaval, and properly prepare for that change.

70,000 years ago there were probably a lot of people that knew something was happening, but did not know what to do about it. They probably continued living the only life they knew, and died because of it. There were probably also people who did not see any change coming, and failed to prepare out of ignorance. Others might have continued hunting the hypothetically disappearing game until the very last one was eaten, and then starved, refusing to believe that their way of life could possibly change.

Some humans might have seen a change coming, but prepared for the wrong change, or predicted an event that never came to fruition. But what we know is that there were a select few who were either lucky, or smart. I like to think that the survivors were the ones who were not afraid of the light. It seems that people who were the most open to learning, who could consider new ideas, and adapt to their environment would be most suited to survive, and I don’t think that has changed.

This does not mean any new idea should be seized upon and believed wholeheartedly without proper scrutiny; some of those early humans died because they saw the wrong change coming. But equally detrimental was refusing to see the light, and therefore not adjusting reactions to escalating dangers. The ultimate survival skills lie in those who can objectively and rationally consider risks and rewards. Shutting out a new idea is just as likely to end negatively as blind faith in a new idea, or being convinced that the oldest idea is novel.

Moving into the twentieth century, what humans must do to survive is be vigilant and logical. There are those who stand on their front porch and watch as a tsunami rolls in, and there are those who run to the top of mountains to be rescued by aliens who never show. We want to avoid each category. We should learn about the tsunami and assess the weather report: the risk to an area, the scope and magnitude, and the timing. But there’s no harm in hearing out the would be extraterrestrial pilgrims either; just beware of seeing something where there is nothing. Often your instincts will be correct, and there will be no facts behind the theory. However it does not hurt to listen and objectively consider data, you may be surprised by the result and learn things that seem so obvious in hindsight.

Sometimes we are more comfortable in the dark, imagining our hand is visible, than seeing our real environment illuminated. In a place so dark, it does not take much light to see your true surroundings. Don’t continue to imagine that you see your hand in the dark. Be brave, and light the match; it will illuminate things you never knew were there.

Going on the Offensive When I Start Feeling Sick

I never remember how awesome it feels to be healthy until I get sick. What is the deal with getting sick in the summer anyway? I spend sufficient time outside and doing physical things. I’m not as cooped up as in the winter, fewer people around me in general are sick. Oh well, I guess it happens. I am determined to remind myself how good I feel everyday when I am not sick, and make sure I appreciate and enjoy the feeling!

It is day 3 and I am already feeling a lot better, which is encouraging since yesterday I had that muscle soreness flu like symptom. I attribute my quick recovery when I am sick to the fact that I go on the offensive as soon as I start to feel under the weather. And If it isn’t the things I eat and drink that makes me recover quickly, it must be the placebo effect, which would actually mean we have a lot of power with our minds to affect our health.

I start with echinacea, which is just a plant; I get it ground up and stuck into some capsules. It is reported to be an immune system booster. While there is apparently not a huge amount of research on whether or not echinacea can help with colds and common sickness, some studies and anecdotal evidence suggest it has benefits. And it is pretty safe to use, even if it doesn’t have benefits; though according to Web MD it could concentrate caffeine in your system by slowing down its metabolization, and there is a slight possibility for other mild side effects. I have never experienced anything negative about echinacea though, and a couple times when I have felt some sickness coming on, it has retreated without making me sick after using echinacea. It is hard to isolate what worked though, because I also do other stuff to ward off the illness.

I will drink apple cider vinegar straight or you could mix it with some water if that is too much for you, or mix it with some olive oil and put it on a salad. Apple cider vinegar is essentially the magic elixir of life, and the actual contents of the fountain of youth. But seriously, it has some crazy benefits. It can boost energy, make your hair and skin more vibrant, sooth sunburn, and apparently, which I am going to have to try, remove stains from the teeth. It can even break up mucus in the lungs. But I think the reason it works for keeping people healthy is that apple cider vinegar balances the pH level of the body:

Apple cider vinegar helps the body maintain a healthy alkaline pH level. Research shows that higher acid levels (lower pH level) leads to a lack of energy and higher incidences of infection.

I’ve heard that things like too much sugar and alcohol can mess with our pH levels, and that apple cider vinegar brings us back to a healthy balance. Oh yea and they say to get the apple cider vinegar “with the mother” which supposedly gives you even stronger benefits, and just means it has not been filtered; its raw and unpasteurized.

Also, I kind of have this theory that if you eat a lot of garlic, ginger, and onions, you will live forever. So when I am feeling under the weather, I try to overdose on these delicious spices. According to the book The Green Pharmacy by James A. Duke, onion and garlic are closely related plants that contain antiviral compounds. Garlic also contains “allicin, one of the plant kingdom’s most potent, broad spectrum antibiotics”. As for ginger, it also contains almost a dozen antiviral compounds, specifically ones that kill the rhinovirus family, which includes common cold viruses. Cold symptom relief can also be found from ginger, because of its mild sedative effect, and the gingerols and shogaols that reduce fever, pain, and coughing.

Then of course there is the classic green tea which certainly can’t hurt, and eating as many vegetables and fruit as possible, while being sure to drink enough liquids. But most importantly, appreciate how awesome it feels to be healthy.

Four Personalities: I am Sanguine. What are You?

Every since my sister introduced me to the four personalities or temperaments the other day, I have been obsessed and got a lot of my friends to take the test as well. This is by no means a definitive test, and the more times you take it the more accurate it will be. It will represent you to varying degrees, and practically no one fits 100% into one category or another. It is just a means for understanding yourself, and helping you interact with others. But as someone interested in sociology, this struck a nerve with me and I just absolutely wanted to know everything about these personalities, how they interact, and where each of my friends and family fall. For more legit and detailed descriptions, and to take the test just follow this link.

Me: Sanguine: This is the fun loving social butterfly, possible party animal who expresses their emotions. A sanguine enjoys being the center of attention (go figure, I started a blog called Joe Jarvis Explains It All), but will do things for his own amusement as much as for others’. “They enjoy social situations, and believe that everyone else would too”. This quote was funny to me, because I do sort of have a habit of assuming everyone wants to get in on a nice rowdy night of camaraderie and shenanigans. I have been quite befuddled by the person who stays home rather than joining the party! That’s part of why I like this personality test, it reminds me that I need to realize everyone doesn’t think like me… in fact I am the minority in many ways. But that is fine with me, I want to be the minority, if you stick out like a sore thumb you get that much more attention. Yes, I like attention and I can embrace that. The downside to being sanguine is the possibility for shallowness and vanity.

 

Choleric: This was my sub personality, the second strongest (though I can see elements of all the 4 personalities in myself). A choleric is the born leader, they have a plan, and know how to execute that plan. They can be a little over the top dominant sometimes; think captain of the football team or the my-way corporate boss. Though driven, their downfall can be their desire to be right all the time or “win” an argument, even if they have to resort to lies or yelling. They speak their minds, which again, can be good or bad; there is a fine line between tough love and being rude. The alpha dog.

Phlegmatic: There was a certain desire while taking the test for it to turn out Phlegmatic (like Harry Potter begging to be put into Gryffindor by the sorting hat). But its okay, although I often find it fun to go with the flow, it feels unnatural to be a follower. A phlegmatic is definitely the chillest of the personality types, who really just want to see peace and harmony among the group. Like a sanguine they promote team cohesion, but it is through love, understanding, and conflict resolution, rather than the entertainment and encouragement of a sanguine. They aviod controversy, and will stay silent rather than saying the wrong thing. “Can’t we all just get along?” Though there is something to be said against being too easily influenced by others.

Melancholic: I can’t resist the desire to tease my sister, knowing she will read this, who said something along the lines of, “Of course I have the worst one”, thus confirming she is a melancholic. (Then again maybe I am being too sanguine in assuming she will take my jest lightly). But really the melancholic has a lot of great traits, that might be somewhat overshadowed by their general pessimism and somewhat withdrawn nature. But the reason for this is basically that they are perfectionists, and therefore almost necessarily fall below their own standards set for themselves. In reality they are probably the smartest people in society (think scientists and programmers), because they are analytic, and desire truth, not just to “be right” like the choleric. In fact melancholics might argue, but for a completely different reason than the choleric; they cannot stand the fact that a lie is being promoted, or an untruth taken as gospel. Their desire to set the universe right is what will constantly dog them, because it is a righteous goal impossible to achieve. A melancholic is emotional, but in a different way than the sanguine; the melancholic is more sensitive and may dwell on an injustice, while the sanguine’s emotions are fleeting. “People of the melancholic temperament might perceive a room of twenty strangers as frightening or uncomfortable, while a sanguine might see them as opportunities to meet new friends.”

[Off topic but, oh man I totally just realized that J.K. Rowling almost certainly made each house in Hogwarts into a personality, right? Hufflepuff is definitely phlegmatic, and Slytherin almost certainly choleric, which would make sense that Gryffindor is sanguine, and Ravenclaw melancholic. Any Harry Potter fans want to give me their thoughts on this? Alternatively I could see Gryffindor as choleric, Slytherin melancholic, Ravenclaw sanguine, and Hufflepuff still phlegmatic.]

Seriously, if there is one post I want a giant discussion on, it is this one. Come on, it will be fun, says the sanguine. All you cholerics go ahead and make your case for why you’re not an asshole. Don’t be afraid to join in, melancholics, I know you are reading and rereading your comment before posting it to make sure your grammar is correct, and your argument logically laid out; its great, seriously. And really, phlegmatics, I know you just want to read everyone else’s comments, but the discussion will be lacking without you! Maybe you can find an argument, and tell us why both sides have a valid point, and should come together.

Also, as I said, these are new terms to me, so if I messed up the descriptions of any of them, or misrepresented them, please correct me in the comments below! Tell me which personality type YOU are and how this has worked for you; your experiences negative or positive in coping! 🙂

Sleeping and Dreaming: Does it fit with my Soul Playing Video Game theory?

Sleep is weird. I ended up getting out of bed at 2:30am the other day to jot down some thoughts that were running through my head—I couldn’t really sleep which is abnormal for me.

But I was thinking about sleep… what happens while we are sleeping? I get that we are recharged and have dreams, organize our thoughts and fix our bodies. But I got to thinking about why 1/3 of each of our lives is supposed to be spent sleeping. That just seems like a long charge and a quick drain. I’ve always thought about how much I could get done if I only had to sleep say, 2 hours per night. Can you imagine 6 extra hours per day to write, read, work out, or just watch movies?

So browsing in the book store, I came across a book in which one section claimed to have a method of only sleeping 2 hours per day, and being fully rested and healthy. I am a skeptic… certain things I want to believe… but really? 2 hours?

The kicker was that all the sleep wouldn’t be at the same time. The two hours is supposed to be split into 6 parts throughout the day: a 20 minute nap at 10am, 20 minute nap at 2pm, same at 6pm, 10pm, 2am and 4am. But don’t oversleep, the book warns, or you will throw off your system, and possibly turn into a gremlin. I was left wondering how the hell anyone can just immediately go to sleep for 20 minutes, and then immediately get up. And obviously this schedule presents certain problems for anyone with a normal job, kids, or like, a life.

As I said I don’t believe everything I read, it has got to make sense to me. But then I thought about how I’ve heard that certain types of batteries want to be charged long before they are depleted, and that this actually gives the battery a longer life. What if humans are shortening their lives by depleting their batteries every day before we charge them? Could it be that taking the time to charge ourselves when we get down to 50%, or even 70% will make our batteries last longer?

All the talk about charging batteries got me thinking about my post, What if Life is Just our Souls Playing Video GamesAha now this whole weird sleeping thing makes a bit more sense. We need to save the game so that our data isn’t lost! Perhaps dreams are simply our soul’s experiences being uploaded to “heaven” each night, and we see those experiences all jumbled together because it happens so quickly, we only get glimpses of this and that. Maybe in dreams our friends end up in a setting they were never in, or we experience something we only saw on TV, or do something waking us wants to do. It’s just all jumbled together being uploaded, and our video game self is confused at the apparent glitch, while our souls totally get it.

But you only dream during REM sleep… which just so happens to be about 2 hours per night. See where I’m going with this? Is REM sleep the only kind of sleep that revives us, and therefore the only part we need? Are the other 6 hours wasted laying there? Perhaps there is something to the idea that we only need 2 hours of sleep per day, as long as it’s the right type of sleep. And furthermore, this makes us seem more like our phones with batteries, and if we are more like our phones than ourselves, then what is controlling that phone? In this idea, it would be our “souls” controlling the “phone” (our human bodies), the phone connecting us to “heaven”/”the afterlife” whatever you want to call it.

Maybe video game controller would be a better analogy than phone, but same idea. If our video-game-playing soul is connecting to (the game) earth through our bodies, that would mean we are simply the device. And if our souls don’t save the game often enough, things can go awry. People go crazy when they don’t get enough sleep; does our soul forget it is in a video game, or our bodies get too far separated from our souls, without the chance to upload and organize the experiences of “the game”? And in that way, uploading or saving 6 times a day could keep our bodies even more organized, and increase our battery life.

But then again I wouldn’t be so quick to discount those 6 hours “wasted” every night, when we are not dreaming in REM sleep. Maybe that time is a chance for our souls to disconnect from the game of life, and do what they need to do in whatever realm they live in.

Spontaneous Weekend in New York City

I almost decided not to go to New York City this weekend to visit my friends. It was Thursday night, and I still hadn’t bought the bus ticket out of Providence. Parking was going to be at least $20 a day, and I was trying to keep this trip relatively cheap. It would be a hassle, I was nervous to go all alone, and I was starting to think it might just be easier to forget about it.

But I am so glad I went! It was a blast. Luckily my wonderful parents volunteered to drive me to and from the bus station in Providence, saving me the parking cost. The bus ride was relatively short and easy, and NYC is conveniently laid out in grid format, so I knew exactly where I needed to go from 27th St to get to 67th. One trip to New York City for the last decade, and I feel like I could get around better than in Boston. But then again Boston is essentially paved cow paths…

Anyway I admittedly had a pretty negative opinion of New York City, in terms of crime and cleanliness. I was pleasantly surprised though; never did I feel unsafe on my trip, and its no dirtier than any other city. Central Park exceeded expectations, and we played some frisbee on the well manicured lawn. I got to do a little walking tour with my buddies around the city. We went out at night to some fun bumpin clubs and they don’t close early like the law requires in Massachusetts.

If I hadn’t gone I wouldn’t have got this great NYC experience, and got to see more of the world. I may have still had my own kind of fun, but this was new and exciting. I think the pre-this-blog me would have abandoned the plans last minute because of the hassle. Don’t do that if you get the chance, just go for it.

I sat in the guest chair on the set of David Letterman where my friend worked until just a few weeks ago…

photo 3-1

photo 1

I also got a picture outside of the New York Stock Exchange and with the Charging Bull on Wall Street (although in the picture it looks more like a lovingly nudging bull). By the way, fun fact that my Dad taught me: it was called Wall Street because when NYC was first being settled and created by Europeans, there was literally a wall on the edge of Wall Street that separated the Native American wilderness from the City.

photo 3

photo 2

I also checked out the Statue of Liberty and Freedom Tower from a distance.

photo 5

photo 4

And this was the lobster ravioli’s I got at Amici, which claims to have been John Gotti’s favorite restaurant. Not sure if that should be something to brag about, him being a brutal mobster… but hey that’s their claim to fame. Please excuse the mid chew face.

photo-6And I saw a guy walking around with a cat on his head… probably should have grabbed a pic of that, oh well, maybe next time. I like the fact that I can have as much fun hiking in the secluded White Mountain wilderness of New Hampshire as I have buzzing around New York City surrounded by millions of people. Variety is always enjoyable to me, and that’s what I try to do, switch it up.