Sunday, January 20, 2013

A small glimpse of my SE Asian adventure:  (until I finally write about it!)

My crew

Buying tangerines in a Cambodian market

Participating in the Loi Krathong festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Learning to ride an elephant in Thailand!

Can all four of us fit?

Why Yes!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Next Trip: SE Asia!

And I'm Off!

Here in a week and a half I will be going to Malaysia, Cambodia and Thailand!  It is a pretty spontaneous trip but the opportunity arose and I jumped on it.  I was really looking forward to visiting Myanmar as well, but unfortunately, I had to renew my passport and this didn't leave me with enough time to get the required visa as well.

I have a full summer of weddings and travels that I have not shared but those posts will come in time.  For now I'm preparing for another adventure!

Being silly with my nephew.  What do you do in your free time?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A little Hawaii in Gig Harbor, Washington

My friend recently invited me to visit her aunt’s home in Gig Harbor, Washington for a Luau.  The event was being held as a fundraiser for Relay for Life and I was excited to attend and help support such a great cause.  Not to mention my friend had told me a lot about her aunt’s estate and regularly tried to get me to go up there and visit with her.  She wasn’t exaggerating; it was a beautiful home along the east shore of the harbor right on the water. 

I was originally planning to go up on Friday night and take advantage of the area a little more with a couple friends, but unfortunately had to prioritize catching up on some work and instead opted to drive up myself and meet them up there on Saturday.  When I arrived, a short while before the Luau, they gave me a quick tour and I understood the hype.

Enjoying a Luau fundraiser in Gig Harbor, Washington
After getting jazzed up a bit, we went downstairs to find a full-service bar, live music, an amazing spread of various Hawaiian dishes, a few vendors set-up and an array of items displayed for the silent auction.  I was impressed, as I had never participated in this type of event in someone’s home (I guess my background comes out a little here.)   Even though the event had just begun and people were still coming in, there was already a lot of energy.

It was family friendly and there were some great activities such as live music throughout the entire event and a performance of traditional Hawaiian dances put on by a local dance company.  That was a real treat, and they also had multiple costume changes representative of the songs/dances they were performing.  Towards the end they had a dance lesson where people got involved, including a good number of the kids, which was very entertaining for everyone involved.

Hawaiian dance lesson at the Luau Fundraiser
And Washington couldn’t have treated us better by holding back its notorious grey skies.  After a full afternoon of festivities, food and drink, we were able to enjoy the end of the evening with a beautiful sunset and a fire pit.  There, the few of us who remained drank wine and listened to my friend’s cousins play the guitar and sing until the early hours of the morning.

And to think this was only a few hours away from home and just an overnight trip.   It reminded me that you shouldn’t underestimate the small journeys. 


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Las Vegas: Sure it's family friendly...

Las Vegas, the infamous city of sin where, “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”.  Since I visited on a Tuesday through Thursday for work though, I can’t fully relate.  It was fun, don’t get me wrong, but I am going to have to go back for the traditional madness that ensues.  (I was there for work after-all.)

Mural in the Venetian
This all being said, I did drink - quite a bit - in the streets - as everyone meeting the legal age of 21 should.  Even if you aren’t going out for a wild night or decide to believe that the moniker of being family friendly is true, there is enough extravagance to take in that it won’t be difficult to enjoy a simple walk down the strip.  And, in our case, make a quick stop at a casino whenever you need a refill.  As a side note, the casinos seem close together until you start walking.  To say the least, we didn’t have to skip a single casino due to an unfinished drink.

In all reality, I just wanted to walk the strip, see the city a bit, and find a big slot machine to pull the handle on.  If it was not big, and did not have a handle to pull, I was not interested.  We stayed at the Mirage in between Treasure Island (TI) and Caesar’s Palace right in the middle of it all.  I was fortunate to have been traveling with some seasoned Las Vegas pros who could show us youngins the ropes, or in this case, inform us of what Casino we were even in. 

I found my big slot machine - and won too!
During our two nights of roaming we managed to visit TI, Caesars Palace, the Bellagio, The Venetian, Margarita Ville, and more, including a street corner bar or two for refills.   The architecture, as expected, was extravagant and the street scene exactly as you would image it.  And don’t be surprised to run into kids, grandparents, young 20 somethings and anyone in between, dressed from casual attire to high-rolling suits.

I found eating in general was over-priced, not a surprise, but ultimately provided a pretty enjoyable experience.   (I had never cooked thin slices of steak on a very hot rock before.)   However, I unfortunately wasn’t able to experience one of Las Vegas’ infamous buffets.  That will definitely happen the next time I visit!

Las Vegas, NV

Lesson Learned: if you do not smoke cigars (or in general) and do not particularly enjoy dairy, deciding to smoke your own cigar and drink white Russians all night may or may not leave you with a good experience in a random casino bathroom.  Memorable - yes, good – no

Mixing It Up!

I am so far behind, that I have decided to share my experiences as I am able rather than try to keep them in consecutive order.  I may go back and re-date them in the future (I think I can do that), but until then just note that one post may have happened a year ago and the very next post may have happened yesterday.  Fun right?!

Enjoy - and I hope that these posts ignite your feeling of wanderlust, and even more-so, provide the needed boost to get you out there exploring too!

A beautiful day in Chicago, IL USA