I’ve always been up for adventures. Spine chilling. Gut wrenching. Knot-in-throat. Jello legs. …All in thirst for that last feeling of relief, thrill, and absolute adrenaline.
Even in fear, I’ve mastered the “fake it ‘til you make it” mantra, while secretly unsure if I was making the best decision. But no life mantra could’ve prepared me for my first visit to Denver.
I landed in the Denver National Airport, after what seemed like a smooth ride with clear skies. Distracted by the beauty of this relatively newly built facility, its questionable murals, and the rumored conspiracies behind the airport’s construction and purpose, I roamed around for a bit and absorbed my surroundings. Along the way I noticed a number of tornado shelter signs, and I made a note to do some more research on Denver tornadoes when I got to my hotel. However, my distraction was soon interrupted by my iPhone’s emergency weather alert. As my phone’s piercing ring grew louder and louder, those around me began receiving alerts on their phones as well. The halls echoed with alerts and the relaxed air filled with anxiety. I spotted both the tornado shelter and ground transportation signs. The alerts cautioned us of developing tornadoes. Yet, instead of staying put, I was more concerned with getting to the convention center for a tradeshow booth I needed to set up. There goes work again: interfering with my life and safety!
So, like the workaholic that I was, instead of taking heed to the second alert that rang in, and the siren that began going off, this time advising to seek shelter and stay put for the next hour, I jumped into a taxi and yelled “Go! Go! Go!”
That man was just as crazy as I was. While other taxis were seeking cover and rejecting customers, mine flew past the taxi line and got on the freeway. The sky began to drastically change in front of our eyes, strong winds kicking up, and dirt hitting the car at high speeds; it was only a few minutes before I began to see the dark sky begin to form a funnel cloud.
Crap. I’m in the movie, Twister. This is Twister. I’m a storm chaser, and this is Twister. They’ll never believe me. I’ve got to take a photo.
I grabbed my camera and tried to get a good shot, but the car was driving too fast down the swerving roads and the windows were covered in dust. There was only one way to get a decent shot.
I opened the window and held on tightly to my camera. The cabbie glanced at me through his rear view mirror and called me crazy. I reached my hand out the window hoping it would be enough. It wasn’t. The wind made my hands unsteady and the dirt interfered with my vision. I was blindly trying to record this moment while being chased by what looked like a developing funnel cloud. I needed to commit. I needed to put myself out there, literally. So I propped myself up on the seat, onto my knees, and leaned the upper half of my body out of the window. If anything happened to me at that point, I was clearly asking for it. The cabbie held the car steady as much as possible and I started flicking away. We passed a few abandoned cars and continued down the deserted highway.
I got my shot and we survived the twister by a hair.
The sky cleared beautifully the moment we got out of the its vicinity.
I’d been in Denver for less than 90 minutes and loved it already.
Happy Monday, friends!
There are so many great trips I haven’t taken that I am sure you are itching to learn more about. So, I’ll be sharing tips from fellow travel writers and magazines whenever I find any gems!
Roadtrippers just posted the most awesome itinerary for driving down route 1 in California’s Big Sur, so I thought I’d share the wealth. Read more here. You won’t be disappointed!
My wonderful friends, Teddy and Faith, have a business called Plowshare Farms based in Pennsylvania. It is a farm/business collective offering a range of locally grown, foraged, and produced foods - from fresh vegetables and fruits to herbal teas and preserves.
What’s even more beautiful is that Teddy, a former Philadelphia teacher, decided to create Plowshare simply stemming from his love for organic living and farming, and wanted to incorporate it more into his daily life and work, while sharing it with the community. For those of you who know me, you know I am a sucker for “I quit my job and followed my heart” stories.
Thus, I went to visit Faith and Teddy on their latest venture: building a greenhouse for a client whose land Teddy was to farm on. They needed an extra hand and I was all too anxious to volunteer in any way! So I took the $20 in my pocket, grabbed my backpack, and hopped on a Bolt Bus to Philadelphia.
Philadelphia holds very dear to my heart, having gone to a boarding high school right outside of the city in the rural-burbs (that’s where I met Faith). Always a fan of the NJ Transit or the Chinatown bus, I must say I haven’t taken Bolt Bus as often as your average 20-something year old. Because of its modern design, raving wi-fi and electrical outlets, the seats were always full and I found myself often having to -gasp!- buy a ticket ahead of time. Blasphemy! Luckily the bus I took was empty, allowing me to stretch my legs across the double seat. A dream!
I arrived at the farm, gave a warm hello, and got straight to work. After briefly explaining the project, Teddy returned to bending piping with two of his friends as Faith and I headed off to start measuring placeholders for the piped structure. The greenhouse needed ten on each side, equal distance, but both sides also needed to have matching lengths and diameters - which proved more difficult to execute than expected.
The wind kicked up and our boots sank further into the mud while our dried, cracked hands fought the end-of-winter chill as we swung the sledge hammer onto rods, placing them into the ground for piping. We then, one pair at a time, secured the piping onto the firmly set rods, until all ten rows were done. The guys drilled a top beam to each set to even out the height of the rows while Faith and I added wooden beams along the sides to further secure the structure. It was only the beginning but we could see it all coming together. Teddy would later have to secure the beams a bit more and add a plastic covering.
Five hours later, and a day’s work was finally complete. We were all cold, hungry, and fatigued. I admired their daily grind but I needed a nap. We had a delicious dinner that night and went out for drinks. I headed back to NYC the next day but was glad to have helped in any way and felt truly rewarded to see the outcome. I can’t wait to go back!
Note: Though based in Pennsylvania, Plowshare Farms deliver produce throughout the region. If you are interested in purchasing farm-direct or joining their CSA visit www.plowsharefarms.com and tell Teddy I sent you! View some of their delicious goodies on the Plowshare Farms Instagram.
Last weekend I spent two days camping and canoeing down the Delaware River with great company. The only female in the crew, I completed this 20-mile adventure with nine friends - both old and new.
First, we drove to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, where we were to sign away our lives, rent five canoes and ten life jackets, and park our vehicles. A shuttle picked us up shortly after and we loaded the canoes with our coolers, tents, and camping items.
As the shuttle carried us to Eshback, PA to begin our journey, the driver entertained (and frightened) us with stories of the abundant local Black Bears. My favorite was his recount of a newly engaged couple who, shortly after arriving at their campsite, quickly called the recreation office - urgently requesting to be picked up. When our driver arrived at the scene, he found the bride-to-be hitting her fiance with a bottle. Once she finally calmed down, she told him the reason for her anger. Apparently, once she and her fiance arrived at the campsite, they quickly got to business … good ol’ fashioned sex in the woods. As they were enjoying their nature sex, she spotted a Black Bear near them and screamed. To her surprise and dismay, her fiance tossed her aside in fear and ran to the canoe. To add insult to injury, he proceeded to paddle away in the canoe, WITHOUT HER. My friends roared with laughter while listening to this story, confident that the wedding was called off, while I side-eyed my boyfriend, letting him know he’d better not pull that kind of stunt. Inside of me, a seed of fear was planted.
We were dropped off and given tips on good campsites, best practices, and avoiding bears. Loaded and ready, we jumped in our canoes and set off to begin the first half of our 20-mile trek. While other canoes were serious about getting to their campsites, we didn’t mind turning a two hour trek into a three hour lounge session. We paddled in the muddy Delaware river for a bit, passed around some beers, took photos, and turned on our portable speakers. The life.
This continued the whole afternoon, with less than half of the course completed. We searched for campsite 95, as recommended by our driver for its private area and outhouse. Along the river there were tiny signs on trees indicating the sites’ numbers. Squinting under the hot sun, we finally found our destination and worked on figuring out how to park the canoes with no “shore”. Pat, one of our friends in the group, was clearly outdoorsy and really good about figuring out how to keep our canoes safe.
Once the canoes were settled and our items carried up fallen trees and a small wall of mud and hardened soil, the boys worked on setting up tents while I organized our “kitchen”. We spent the day playing Kan Jam, laughing, and cooking hot dogs… LOTS of hot dogs. Some of us gave in and jumped in the murky river; I was glad I brought my water shoes! The river was cold and quite refreshing once in, and I soon forgot about the mosquitoes and jumping water insects (I don’t even know what those things were) and hung out discussing life, money, corporate responsibility, and the environment. Sometimes I get deep like that.
Up on the camp ground, the boys set out to relieve themselves and explore the outhouse. I’m not sure if any of them actually made it in. The smell alone made you want to dig a hole in the dirt and become one with nature. However, being the only girl in the crew I couldn’t pee in broad daylight as easily as the boys so I set out to face the outhouse. Man, did it smell awful! But I went in anyway. On my way I spotted another campsite directly across from the outhouse. I chose to leave the door open so I could breathe, so I am sure they saw me. Awkward moment? Oh well, we are best friends now, I guess. When I returned, I teased the boys for not being able to withstand the smell, secretly knowing how much I suffered.
Dusk approached us and nightfall quickly followed. I went to my tent to change and decided to leave the boys for a bit to bond with each other. They were all old friends from high school, and though we went to the same school, I know I’m now closer with them because I am Alex’s girlfriend. I didn’t want them to feel like I’ve taken away their friend. Oddly enough, they prepared to go to bed shortly after. So much for bonding time! Alex forgot the s’mores. I’m sure that’s why.
As they prepared for bed, I heard them putting away the food. Some friends argued that it wasn’t a big deal to move the food and other friends suggested we put everything far away. The problem was, there were no decent sized tree branches to store our food on. Literally, none. Everything was too tall and out of our reach. So they moved the food near the canoes (and closest to my tent!), which I thought was an awful idea but already accepted my fate of death by bear attack.
As Alex and the boys slept, I stayed awake, alert to every sound of the woods. I remembered our driver’s unconvincing reassurance that although they are everywhere, the bears “most likely” won’t bother us, as long as we keep our food high up… which we didn’t. The boys continued to sleep. And I listened.
Then I heard it. Low rustling. A frog? A person? A bear?
A low grunt followed.
A shallow growl.
And then a loud huff.
I jumped and shook Alex, in fear. “The bear, it’s here! Shhh. Don’t you hear it?”
Alex listened and heard. He looked over to me and kissed my forehead. “It’s Koslo.” (Our friend) “He snores really loudly, haha.”
I continued to stare into the darkness through our net in disbelief, searching for more sounds.
Brrrppp. A fart. It was Koslo.
We survived the night, bear-less.
Hi! It was AMAZING you should definitely go. I stayed in a surf town, San Juan del sur, and everyone was extremely friendly. Many people there didn’t even speak Spanish so even knowing a little bit can be extremely advantageous. For more info email me at email@example.com or check out my travel blog at www.ochristine.com/blog
I just use leave in conditioner and let them air dry for 5 hours!
Living in such a big city and top tourist destination, I find I often forget about the joys of being in NYC. So, this July 4th I decided to stay put and enjoy home. With my recent canoeing / camping trip and some other upcoming summer adventures filling my schedule, I wanted to slow down and bask in my amazing situation. I’ve quit my job and am living day to day by my own rules and schedule. I should be enjoying every moment of it.
I rounded up my friends and family for a quickie trip to Coney Island. The best thing about going to the beach is that majority of them are FREE. The only money you need is $5.00 for a round trip subway fare, if that. Pack sandwiches and any other goodies from your refrigerator, store water in a cooler, and bring a bed sheet to lay on. Et bon. Fini!
Coney Island holds a nostalgic place in my heart; Nathan’s Hot Dogs (we missed the hot dog eating contest), the now overpriced amusement park rides at Luna Park (formerly known as Astroland), and the kinda-sorta-creaky/are you sure this thing is safe? Cyclone roller coaster - a New York City landmark! There’s nothing like watching the change of scenery as you observe the Brighton Beach Russians, native Brooklynite beach go-ers, Latinos, Blacks, Indians, and other ethnicities all blur into a crowd of leather skinned elders dressed in Puerto Rican flagged t-shirts and tank tops dancing to salsa under the pavilion. Somehow the chaos all makes sense… Barefoot on the boardwalk, dodging splinters. Crowds around the mango and churro ladies with their shopping carts of goodies. Calls from the shirtless afro-latino on the beach carrying his cooler on his head yelling, “Corona, soda, water!” with an accent.
This is home. This is New York City. Sometimes experiences are just a subway ride away.