Pirates, Pubs, and Personality in Savannah

I’ve made it to Florida and luckily will not have to do much driving for another 9 days. A little rainy now, but at least it is warm.

In Savannah Thursday night I started at the Pirate’s House, which is in a building that has been a bar since the 1700’s. In fact, the Pirate’s House was mentioned in Treasure Island as the pub that the pirate Captain Billy “Bones” Flint, who originally buried the treasure, died.

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Apparently there is a tunnel downstairs that leads to the river, and the drunkest bar-goers would sometimes find themselves on a ship the next morning bound for far off destinations. It took one man two years to find his way back.

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Coincidentally my bartender had a few waking up in strange places stories of his own. Though he has never seen a ghost in Pirate’s House, he did black out after a night of drinking, and wake up 4 hours away at a summer camp in the mountains. Turns out it was his idea to head up there with a lass the night before, but he passed out on the ride up. He awoke by himself (the ladies having gone to buy groceries) and wandered around the empty camp for an hour before finding out what had happened.

But that wasn’t the worst of it. He just remembers being aware enough to grab his passport before joining his boss and his boss’s pilot friend on a private flight to Mexico, where the pilot worked for a couple. But the pilot made it pretty clear, “I’m coming back in a week. You can’t call me for a flight, so enjoy!”

However the bartender’s poor mother couldn’t get in touch with him, and his roommates were no help to her: “I haven’t seen him since Monday. He stumbled in drunk and grabbed his passport”. After that, his mom routinely bought him prepaid phones that worked from anywhere he might wake up.

And how did he end up in Savannah, I asked? Well he woke up there after a drunken night of course! “I figured I would just stay the weekend, but I accidentally got a job and have been here ever since”. Ah yes, the accidental job acquisition. First world problems.

I continued on my way to check out what was happening along River Street. I was compelled to get a beer at The Warehouse advertising the cheapest and coldest beer in town. But alas, I will never know if their beer is cold or cheap. I always have my ID ready, but I was surprised to be asked for a second form. I gave the women behind the bar my gun licence, also a photo ID, obviously with the same name, address, birthday etc. But 30 puzzling seconds later I was still staring at her, staring at my ID.

I laughed, “I have a credit card too”, and handed that to her. Another 30 seconds of pouring over my three forms of identification, and she said, “sorry honey, I’ve seen plenty of Massachusetts ID’s. Just something not right, I can’t serve you”.

I know I look young, but I was shocked since this had never happened before. Did she really think I had a fake gun permit made to match my fake ID which had the same name as on my credit card? That would be some dedication.

I asked if there was someone else I could talk to but she was the manager. So I got up and did that thing where you look around for support from strangers. A nice older gentleman with his wife chimed in with an understanding chuckle, “My son in law is 50 and he still gets carded”. The ladies to my right looked at me and then quickly away, probably assuming I was actually underage.

I try not to complain, but seriously I am 25 years old and don’t think I should have to deal with that. So in solidarity with me, perhaps skip The Warehouse if you are ever in Savannah.

But there is always a silver lining. I ended up at a little bar down the street called Rusty Rudders, where I met some cool people, two from Savannah, two visiting. Both bartenders were very friendly and fun, and go figure, accepted my ID without hassling me.

Next post I’ll tell you about the auction in Florida I attended. (Spoiler alert: it included items such as a case of 60 bags of twizzlers that went for my $8 and two unwrapped pillows, one white, one off white that went for $15). And hopefully by then I will have even more checked off!

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Joe Jarvis’ Bogus Journey

On Wednesday I will be departing the north once more to drive down to Florida for a visit with my aunt and cousin, and to spend Thanksgiving with them. Vacations, especially this year, have been what invigorates me and keeps me flowing with energetic and hopeful blood! And hopefully, this time I won’t have to drive through a snowstorm until North Carolina.

So fully expect my posts when I come back to be better. Better in the almost delusional tone that was presented when I started this blog, fresh off an amazing week in the New Hampshire Mountains at a campground with so many other likeminded and friendly individuals.

In February, I went on my first cruise, which besides Canada was also my first time out of the country. It flicked a switch in my mind. I knew I liked to travel, but I didn’t really know to what degree. Maybe it was the vitamin D, or the magic of the Caribbean, or perhaps those Mexican beers had a special ingredient, but when I returned, I was happier, more talkative, extremely positive, and invigorated!

But that was without being inspired at my core. Yes I love everything about vacationing, cruising, and tropical islands, but the event in June appealed to my base values and worldview. PorcFest (which has nothing to do with meat, it is short for Porcupine Freedom Festival) is like a cross between the annual summit for my political interests, and burning man. It is Woodstock for my ilk, hippies for freedom, survivalists for peace. And strangely enough this political type event inspired me to create a blog devoted to everything but politics.

I already had my politics shtuff going, and what ran through my veins after PorcFest was a life force. There was so much I wanted to do with the information and feelings that came to me over that week! But political avenues are notoriously frustrating and often futile. So I decided to spread my positive energy via another platform: this everything-but-politics blog.

Now I am generally a positive person, and I like to be outgoing. Some might find this shocking, but I am not actually the most naturally outgoing person. So sometimes I need to almost trick myself, or at least set myself up so that my future self will do what my current self wants him to do.

You see, it would be easy for me to think of all these cool quirky things I want to do on my way down, back, and in Florida. But if the only thing holding me to that is… well, me, than the only person I could let down is… me.

Thus, I am creating a list, almost scavenger hunt-y, and sharing it here for my little goals during my trip. And once I tell the internet about my plans, I feel to ignore them would not only let myself down, but others as well.

On the way down I may be like, “Uhg, I don’t feel like talking to strangers!” But if it is on my list, I might force myself out of my comfort zone. And in the end, that type of situation almost always ends with me glad I did socialize, or whatever the circumstances.

This is even more important since I am going it alone this time! Which is also a big step out of my comfort zone; I’ve never taken a road trip this far by myself. But that’s part of growing as a person, busting apart our comfort zones, and experiencing things without our embedded reservations. It’s worked out for me so far.

So here are some ideas for me. Nothing crazy, just got to get my Excellent Adventure juices flowing.

  • Start at least 2 conversations with strangers, preferably during the drive down. (A stranger starting a conversation with me does not count towards this)
  • Find out someone’s unique philosophy on life and compare it to my own.
  • Get to the coast, and take in the beach and ocean. Try to scoop in enough to last me until February.
  • Find a wild edible/ medicinal plant to forage and use.
  • Get a picture of a sign that tickles my fancy.
  • Get a picture of “something Florida”. Need I explain more?
  • Do something redneck. (This should be easy, I’m a hick at heart)
  • Enlist my cousin’s help to check out something close by that she has not seen/ done. (You know, the old, “I’ve lived here for ___ years and I’ve never ___”.)
  • Eat something unique to the area (I’m thinking boiled peanuts, but I could find something else?)
  • Do at least one suggestion FROM THE COMMENTS! (I NEED YOU GUYS TO SUGGEST STUFF IN ORDER FOR THIS ONE TO WORK. DON’T LET ME DOWN).

That should be a good starting point, just to get me out of my shell. If it goes well, then perhaps I will make a new list for week 2 of the vacation.

In addition to checking some of these things off my list in order to cast me into the fray, you can expect some other things over the next couple weeks. Expect pictures of me with lots of animals. These thin pictures of me on the sides and top of this blog; the Alaskan Malamute and the horse are my cousin’s. She also has another horse, and now another dog. And then there are my aunt’s three Akitas, a pig, some cows… well you get the point. I like animals.

And if all goes according to plan I will be stopping by Savannah, at least for lunch. I want to check it out for a second time, since there is a possibility that I will move to the area within a year. Also, my second fiction book (the first is in editing stages), which I am currently working on, takes place in the Savannah area. So I need to do some scoping out for that as well.

I am well aware the tone I present here fluctuates. I feel I can no longer as naturally cast forth good will and life giving energy with such ease as I could on July 1st. But like the cruise, the road trip to Indianapolis, PorcFest, New York City, the road trip to Vermont, and camping in Vermont, I fully expect to return invigorated with the same natural energy emanating that gave this blog birth. And if that fades, well I only have to wait until February for another cruise, to restart my cycle.

I started this blog with Joe Jarvis’ Excellent Adventure. If all goes well, this will be Joe Jarvis’ Bogus Journey!

Fears, Nightmares, and Dreams Collide

My friend Ben Mancino is working on a photography project he calls Fears, Nightmares, and Dreams Collide. I was lucky enough to model for one of his shoots. Check out his Facebook page, Ben Mancino Photography.

“Through the Tree Tunnel”

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“Hide and Seek”

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“I can Feel Your Heart Beat”

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This last one is not yet titled. Comment below with your ideas for a title, and we can see if Ben takes your advice 🙂

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Nashoba Valley Brewery and Orchards

Right off 495 in central Massachusetts is a great place to go pick apples, or take a tour of the brewing and winemaking facilities. This brewery is located right on an orchard and farm that produces much of the ingredients that go into the wine. They have a variety of wine that I tried at their tasting bar (just $6 for a tasting, $10 for a tour), and got my included wine glass to take home. But let’s be honest… I’ve done all this before, about a half dozen times. It is a great place to return to year after year.

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They mostly had golden delicious available for picking, which made me branch out, since I would usually go for the macintosh and cortland varieties. But The golden are indeed delicious, and I have already started making some super apple products. My favorite is an apple salsa I threw together with chopped up apples, ginger, red pepper, garlic, turmeric, and a little olive oil. I also probably threw some salt and a couple other spices in there… it’s fun to experiment, but it means never really making the same thing twice.

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It was the epitome of a new england day, mid sixties, dry, sunny; crisp as the apples we were picking. It was actually pretty busy around the brewery for the early afternoon on a Friday, but out in the orchard we didn’t run into too many people.

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Don’t worry about those apples on the ground, they are what will be used for cider! It is always good to take a step back, slow down, and enjoy the scenery. This is the part of New England I would miss. The quickly approaching frigid temperatures though… not so much.

Harpoon and Boston Sea Port District in Photos

Last Friday I went to Boston to check out Harpoon Brewery and Castle Island. Well the brewery tours were all booked up, but I still got to have some drinks in their beer hall. And Castle Island wasn’t an island, but that made it easier to walk to. Luckily I was with my friend Dylan who took some great pictures. And since a picture is worth a thousand words, consider this post a novel.

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They’re quite efficient pourers.

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I try to be an efficient drinker.

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It was so good I couldn’t help myself.

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This one looked like a confusing photoshop job to me…

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And how about that sunset, with the Prudential and John Hancock silhouettes.

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You’re welcome Harpoon Brewery, for the free advertisement.

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Water and Fire! Camping in Vermont one Last Time before Winter

Here Comes the Rain

Last weekend I took a camping trip with the whole family. We rented two sites at Molly Stark State Park in Vermont, and myself, my parents, my sister and her boyfriend, and my other sister and her husband and 4 kids all 5 and under descended upon this—until then—quiet wooded camp ground. Now, perhaps I have not made myself clear in other posts, or perhaps it seemed an exaggeration. There are 2 times I can remember camping when it did not rain. One was when I was 9, and we hiked the Grand Canyon as a family. The other was when I was 7 or 8 and we hiked Black Mountain Pond in the White Mountains; it didn’t rain, it snowed.

So yes, on this two night trip there was a significant downpour. But, per usual, we prepared for it, and the tarp kept us dry. Well, most of us. My one year old nephew started the trend by looking mesmerized at the water running off the tarp, before he crept over to the puddle and began playing. It actually kept him entertained for quite some time, and I can understand that. I have always been weirdly obsessed with water; rain, rivers, lakes, the ocean, pools. So as a one year old, this probably was like playing in a waterfall.

By the time he was done and ready for dry clothing, my four year old niece and two year old nephew decided it would likewise be fun to put their heads under the stream of rain runoff, catch the water in their hands, and jump in puddles. What are camping trips for anyway? While I was perfectly content drinking one of my pumpkin beers under the tarp next to the fire, there was a certain element of jealousy. It’s not that I couldn’t have joined in drenching myself in freezing rain, it’s that I didn’t want to. There was a time when I wouldn’t have dreamed of passing up the opportunity to get soaking wet playing in torrential rain. C’est la vie!

Fire Tower on Mount Olga

But before the rain, we managed to get in a couple miles of hiking to the top of Mount Olga. It’s a small mountain by our standards, something like 2,600 feet. It was impressive to see my two nieces, five and four, hike almost the entire way up and down the mountain, bounding and laughing the whole way. I carried the younger one for the final half mile stretch back.

The coolest part of this hike was the fire tower at the top of the mountain. It was once used to survey the surrounding area for fires in order to alert the fire departments and keep it from getting out of hand. In fact we could see smoke quite some distance off, despite the cloud cover. Hmm… now I’m wondering if we were derelict on our duty.

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That thing was rickety! I actually surprised myself that I was getting nervous after climbing only the first set of stairs. See, the only railings stopped at each platform as you climbed, where only the outside pieces of metal holding up the structure offered any safety. Luckily these metal bars became more frequently placed as you ascended the tower, but there were still gaps here and there that it seemed one false move would lead to plummeting five stories down. Needless to say, the kids stayed at the bottom of the tower.

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At the top, you could feel the structure bounce as another person climbed the metal and wood tower. But at least in the “crow’s nest” you were fully surrounded by 4 feet high walls of metal, and window frames above that. The view was amazing. Coming down from the structure, I kept one hand on whatever piece of metal was within reach at all times. It is an awesome place to go! But I wouldn’t bring any careless kids, or ever young teenagers for that matter. Uhg I keep sounding old.

On the hike back to camp I located some Indian Cucumbers, and we dug the small carrot shaped white tubers from an inch or two underground each plant. The Indian Cucumber has a whorl of leaves about halfway up the stock, and then another three leaves at the top of the plant, generally less than a foot high. If it is far enough along in the season, there may be 3 shiny inedible berries at the top, that should not be eaten. If you dig around the base of the plant, which is found in moist woodlands in soil easily dug through with the index finger, you will come across the tiny tuber, always facing sideways, but in no particular direction. Dig this out, clean off the dirt, and you can munch on this crispy little root with a mild sweet and nutty flavor. The girls had fun digging with us to collect about 10 tubers, that we at by the campfire later that night.

It is always good to add a dash of self sufficiency to a camping trip!

 

“Hippie Hole” in Vermont

One highlight from this weekend was swimming in the “Hippie Hole” in Montgomery Vermont. It was later in the afternoon, and the water was ice cold, but I could not resist jumping in, a couple minutes after these pictures were taken. I got used to it pretty quickly and managed to swim around for a couple minutes, and jump in a couple more times. Swimming up the little carved out rock section felt magical, and putting my head under the waterfall was refreshing/ gave me an ice-cream headache.

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You may have noticed I have travelled to a lot of surrounding areas this summer for mini-vacations. That sort of goes back to the purpose of this blog in making sure I enjoy every moment, and have fun with life. Not everyone likes to travel, but I realized after the cruise I went on this February to the Caribbean that going places and seeing new things is one of the things I enjoy the most. I am thrilled to have gotten the opportunity to travel, since February to Indianapolis, New York City, Vermont, and multiple places in New Hampshire, and still have time to explore new places in Massachusetts great for hiking, like the Douglas State Forest, and the Blackstone River. I even managed to visit the old spots too like my favorite local lake.

But hiking, nature, traveling, exercise, cooking, writing, and foraging are what works to keep me energized and happy, not necessarily everyone else. I think its good for people to explore some hobbies or interests and really find their niche in terms of what makes them tick. Having goals, big and small, is a great way to remain positive and steer clear of any ruts. Gaining skills and knowledge, whether for a practical purpose, or just for fun, is also key to loving every moment of life, instead of waiting for the weekend, or a vacation.

Heading into the winter can be daunting, especially in New England. I have another vacation to Florida planned for November to remedy this in part. But it doesn’t have to be that drastic to keep you going strong. Maybe set a goal for something to accomplish this winter, or pick up a new hobby that can keep you busy inside when the weather gets rough. Or perhaps just step back and enjoy the moment, which is also super important to remaining excited about life, in my opinion. I’m looking forward to picking apples, and just got the urge to chop some wood, but for now, I’m going to go outside and enjoy this weather!

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!

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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.

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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.

Solid Day of Canoeing on My Favorite Lake

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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.

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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.

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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…

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

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

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A good shot from the bow…

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

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

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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…

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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.

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

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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.