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Monday, May 5, 2014

a tale of bachelorettes and babies

today, being cinco de mayo, seemed fitting to share the recent milestones of two of my favorite ladies, both of whom will always have fond memories of the gorgeous country south of our border.

about a month and a half ago, i headed to playa del carmen for a bachelorette extravaganza.  theresa, the bride to be and my bestie from high school, myself and some of her dearest college friends rented a house walking distance from the center of playa del carmen and enjoyed each moment to the fullest!

instead of relying on tours for transportation, we rented a mini van and made a day trip to tulum, about 45 minutes south of pdc to check out the gorgeous beachside mayan ruins.  after a refreshing swim in the vibrant turquoise sea, we enjoyed fish tacos, toes in the sand, a pleasant ocean breeze and relished the laid back vibe.  playa del carmen is definitely a happening place (and by that i mean busy) with lots to offer.  if you're looking for something mellower, then tulum is the place to be.

we took a private, pool side yoga class one morning that was incredible.  ellen at yoga by the way came to us, guided us through a detoxifying vinyasa and gave us great food recommendations.

trying to keep a little "cheese" in the weekend, we stopped for a beer at senor frogs and made sure to stay classy = )

we made sure to try as many tacos and margaritas as possible...el fogon is most definitely worth finding!

lovely ladies, the long weekend flew by and i look forward to seeing you in june!

just yesterday, we brought mexico to nantucket for my friend jen who is expecting her first baby in july.  the cinco de mayo themed shower was a successful surprise and a beautiful collaboration.  

most of the decorations (except the few things i picked up while in mexico) were homemade and we ordered the invitations through tiny prints

petticoat row bakery made the most festive mexican chocolate cupcakes 

the mama to be and i getting into character in the photobooth.

hope everyone was able to have a little ¡fiesta! today!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

as i've said before...better late than never

this could be my life's motto, however, i have been working rather hard on being more timely.  having improved in many areas, i seem to have neglected getting my act together when it comes to this blog. over the course of the next few weeks (at first i thought days, but let's be realistic here), i plan to share our most recent adventure, get caught up on all our travels since the road trip, and keep this platform updated more regularly.  here we go...

from bali to lombok:  winter adventure in indo (an abbreviated version of the journal i kept)

less than a week after arriving in bali, pete and i arrived yesterday to our third destination in bali, ubud, a cultural hub nestled among rice paddies and nearby volcano.  our copy of the lonely planet is bunny eared and bookmarked as we have been seeing where the wind will blow us on a day-by-day basis.  i'll start at the very's a very good place to start ; )

scrambling to leave nantucket before all boats and planes were canceled, pete and i made it off island, enjoyed a lovely morning on the cape, and made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare.  the flight to los angeles was smooth and warmed us up for the 14 hour one the next day. with a twelve hour layover in taipei, taiwan, we spent the night in a cool boutique hotel, minutes from the airport.  there is nothing like a good shower after a long flight and it was such a blessing having full 26 hours broken up. early the next morning, destination:  bali.

arriving in depensar in the early afternoon, we waited an hour to get through immigration. from the airport we took a taxi to a seaside town of sanur about 25 minutes away.  we made the decision to head there first on the flight to taiwan based on it's proximity to the airport, beach access, and it's offering of transportation to the gili islands off the coast of lombok.

sanur is a bustling and hustling (maybe haggling is the right word) fishing village on the southwest coast of bali.  over the years it's benefitted from tourism and the resorts, souvenir shops and mediocre restaurants are there to prove it.  making the best of our time, pete rented a surfboard and got a boat ride out to a reef break and caught some killer waves, i ran the 8k beach walk, did yoga, and stumbled upon a great cafe with yummy fresh squeezed juices, smoothies, and traditional indonesian fair made with whole, organic ingredients.  lastly, we enjoyed an hour long massage for $4!!  amidst the resorts and the hagglers, we were introduced to the genuine smiles and friendly greetings of the local people, the daily offerings of palm bowls full of colorful flower petals, crackers, and insence. 

described as "the bali that everyone strives for, but rarely finds", nusa lembognan was only an half hour boat ride from sanur.  with surfing and diving, it seemed like a logical next destination.  crystal blue water, white sand beaches, and a laid back attitude greeted us. the island is such a brilliant mix of dive shops, surfer dudes, beachside bungalows, a few high-end resorts, and seaside caf├ęs and bars.  there are no cars, just thousands of motor bikes that wiz past you on the streets.

feeling ambitious, we rented a scooter and made our way around most of the island and took a closer look at the seaweed harvesting. whole families participate in the collecting, drying, and transporting to the boat where it will be turned into gel for beauty products and thickeners...the monthly income from this is more than 5 times more than average. our last day we went for a dive that was incredible and full of beautiful fish and turtles. we soon came to find that the boat wasn't running to the gilis and wouldn't be for a few days. after weighing our options, we decided to do our trip backwards and head to, ubud (bali's cultural hub) via sanur, and then make our way lombok.    

in ubud we had a perfect balance of activity and relaxing mixed in with delicious food. after a bit of schlepping, we ended up with quite the bungalow with a gorgeous pool perfect for cooling off after the morning's adventures, and the property was just stunning and removed from the traffic.  

we attended a traditional balinese dance at the palace.  the costumes were vibrant and the dancers theatrical.  

pete tried his first yoga class with rave reviews!  the monkey forest sanctuary was quite entertaining as the monkeys climb on you to steal things if you're wearing a bag.  they pulled our sunstick out of our backpack pocket!  pete was much more at ease with them climbing on him where i preferred them climbing on the trees. one morning we went on a white water rafting adventure down the ayung river. the rapids were fairly tame and halfway through we stopped at a gorgeous 25-30ft waterfall before ending with a stunning and steep hike through levels of rice terraces.  our last day we stumbled on an organic farmers market and lunched on garlic and sea salted cashews, melt in your mouth strawberries and chili seasoned homemade potato chips.  then we went to the ARMA museum which boasts the largest collection of balinese art.  

with the ferries still not running, we made our way to highly recommended amed, on bali's northeast coast, for great snorkeling, diving, and peace and quiet.

once to amed and checked into our beach front hotel room, we enjoyed a tasty lunch over looking the unusual wave swells.  and then the rain began...and then it stopped...and so it went for the short time we decided to stay there. whenever we would venture out via foot or motorbike, we would get blasted with rain!  the good snorkeling spots were murky because of the wind and waves.  we decided to head out of there a day early and inquired about getting to the gilis.  being the closest boat access to the gilis, we thought we would have no problem getting a it turns out, the boats were shut down by the government and would possibly be running in three days time.
needing to make a decision, we sat down with a couple bintangs (the local beer) and narrowed our options down to:
1.  stay in amed, but move to a new bungalow, one that with decent snorkeling right out front and that offered yoga.
2.  hire a transfer to the harbor with the slow passenger ferry which is 5 hours long and waits until the boat is full to leave. this boat would take us to a port in southwest lombok which would put us closer to kuta, lombok, a surfer's paradise.
3.  hire a driver to the airport in denpasar (a 3hr drive) and take a 40 minute flight to the capital of lombok, mataram which is still closer to kuta so we would go there first.
although amed was nice, we were tired of the weather inconsistency and just ready to leave bali.  we ended up choosing the third option and made arrangements to leave the next day.  
on our plane, we sat next to a woman born in java, living in lombok and working in australia. she spoke english well and was full of information for us.  we got on the flight with intentions of heading to kuta and got off the plane with plans to go to senggigi, lombok where we could catch a boat to the gilis.  not only did our new friend drive us to senggigi she also arranged our transfer and boat the next day and got us a good deal!

the boats were not running out of senggigi so we drove in a shuttle bus stuffed with other back packers trying to get to the gilis.  we made our way to bangsal, a smaller port that was under construction. where the shuttle bus dropped us was a reminder that third world countries operate successfully with non-western standards. here we waited, watched as our tickets were handed from one guy to the next, and made sure we stayed close to them as we made our way to the water and onto the boat. from here we headed to the destination we based this trip off of, gili trawangon, the largest of three sister islands, off the northwest coast of lombok.

the water in the gili's is the color of sleeping beauty turquoise and so refreshing.  there are no cars or motorbikes on the gilis which is quite relaxing as traffic in bali is painful and the driving a bit terrifying at times! moving from gili "t" to gili air, a more chill and less inhabited with western touches, we spent a total of 8 days enjoying their beautiful  
and chill paradise.  both places we stayed in clean and comfortable bungalows across the street from the beach and snorkeled, when diving, bike riding, exploring, did some yoga, and managed to surf a little.

after the gilis, we headed back to the big island of lombok and drove 2 1/2 hours south to kuta, a not knowing what to expect, we changed accommodations a couple times and ended up getting quite comfortable with our motorbike during our stay. overall, we LOVED kuta, lombok and felt it was our favorite place we visited.  the actual town was a dump but the beaches to the east and west were what we had been looking for the whole trip...and the backdrop is just stunning.

the views from the back of the motorbike were breathtaking. pete surfed the entire time and caught the best waves of his life. i took a great lesson and gained more confidence. we went on phenomenal bike rides along the coast, down bumpy dirt roads, dipping into lush jungle villages and overlooking wondrous crashing waves. one day we took a break from the beach and trekked a waterfall.

it really says something about a place when crazy, stressful things happen and there is still a fondness in your heart for the place. here's a look at some of the things that happened to us our last week...lost ATM cards: one was recovered and made for an excellent adventure, lost cell phone, and injuries:  shoulder pop out and back in again, sprained wrist, major jellyfish stings resulting in a clinic visit and a black eye.
for our last night, we headed back to bali and stayed in the kuta beach area there. what a drastic difference! it was so outrageous and crowded...we did quite a bit of people watching! while enjoying our last moments of tropical paradise, we took the time to reflect on the adventure and created a list of the lessons we learned:
  • roll with it.
  • calculate the options and go with what your gut is feeling.
  • make mistakes and enjoy where they take you.
  • even though it's the most recent addition, it's important to check how long ago the last revision was on a travel book.
  • respect a budget, but don't stay some place just because it's cheap.
  • when in uncomfortable situations, pay attention to what is happening.
  • notify the bank when leaving the country...whoops, rookie mistake!
having been home now for almost two months, it's nice to finally share our adventure.  this journey brought us far from our comfort zone, blew our mind culturally, and warranted an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the life we have.


Monday, May 21, 2012

better late than never ; )

it's been 2 months since we've been back on nantucket.  pete started work right away, while emily and escher eased into a routine and readied the house for all the new renters this summer.  responsibilty, social engagements, and everyday distractions got the better of us and the blog went neglected.

some closure is needed on our winter adventures in order to move forward with what's to hopes of doing this efficiently, we have decided to recap our last three weeks on the road with a visual representation and less writing!

from california, we headed to colorado for two weeks.  pete's sister tracy, her husband gordon, their three golden girls, josie, lucy, and katie, and chocolate lab, steve live in carbondale, which is about 20 minutes away from snowmass mountain.  pete's brother phil-z and his sister jackie and her family came out for a visit while we were there.  it marked the first time since our wedding that everyone was together!

the view of mt. sopris from tracy's street

emily learned how to snowboard...

while pete, gordon, and phil-z enjoyed many mornings of fresh powder.
we spent an active afternoon at the aspen rec center...

and took a family trip to glenwood's hot springs.

fun with the underwater camera

owning the diving board

escher loved playing with his cousin steve

after a tearful goodbye, we headed east to indianapolis for an overnight visit with emily's step-dad, dan.  we ate at a pub conviently located to his downtown, industrial loft apartment and owned by a man who worked at the chicken box in the nineties.  with the super bowl still fresh, it was amazing to hear and imagine what the streets were like outside of dan's apartment...shenanigans!

always up to no good ; )

next up, cincinnatti, ohio for the black keys show and a weekend with emily's friend, theresa.  she and her boyfriend josh, an amazing chef who kept us well-fed all weekend, had just moved into an amazing downtown loft and made us all feel very welcomed and comfortable.

theresa and escher getting cozy

the black keys show made for a perfect welcome to ohio

just north of cininnatti in columbus, ohio, emily's oldest friend in life, maggie, lives with her husband jesse and sweet lab, lottie.  we felt priveledge to be their first overnight guests in their new home.  the juetts took good care of us and treated us to a great meal at 3rd & Hollywood, a classy bistro serving refreshing drinks and tasty food, while striving to source things locally and purchase from vendors with sustainable and humane missions.

escher getting comfortable

on our way for a dog walk with lottie...

where we met up with alex, an old housemate and former sunken ship employee

from columbus we headed northeast to akron, emily's hometown, where we spent a week visiting with family and friends.  each night we had delicious family dinners both at home and out, making sure to hit up the good spots and try new ones.


family walk with emily's dad, tim.

lady love (l-r) liz, katie, amy, alexis, mina and emily

catching up with old friends is always entertaining and pete was such a good sport to endure the hours of "skwaking bird" chatter that followed us during our week in ohio.  at least the stories are pretty entertaining!

from ohio, we charged it back to the cape, loaded up on trader joe's and hopped on the boat...bACK to nantucket!

Friday, March 16, 2012

after three gorgeous days in cayucos, it was time to head north and check out the drive along route 1.  of course the day was overcast and misty, however, we set out armed with a playlist, well-thought out and ready.  the first stop was to see the elephant seals, less than a half an hour away.  what a treat!  it was mating season and the shore was packed with males, females, and pups...national geographic style!

a tired mum and her pup rest peacefully, for now...

two males showing up one another before attacking.

wide-eyed, open-mouthed, and back on the road, we drove winding our way into the heart of big sur, stopping often to take it all in!

a dignified eshcer decides to pose for a picture at the first stop.

a stop at julia pfeiffer burns state park, named after a big sur pioneer woman, provided a beautiful trail on the edge of the cliffs.  at the end of the coastal trail, the terrace from a 1940s home remains...

with a most pleasant view.

with grumbling tummies, we stopped at a restaurant not far from the park.  lunch was nothing to write home about, however the view was peaceful and the food was fresh and came out fast.  after lunch, we continued the drive, stopping at pfeiffer big sur state park for our first redwoods sighting!

while driving away from the park, we toyed with stopping at one of the small villages along the way to stay the night and decided to continue on to monterey, plotting another adventure through big sur in the future!

with the sun beginning to set, we made our way over the bixby creek bridge and descended into carmel.  too dark to really walk around, we headed just past downtown monterey, off the highway, and began the motel search.  hoping to scope out the room status at a motel 6, the desk clerk asked for id.  needing to grab it out of the car, emily realized that her purse was missing!  the only logical place it could be was at the lunch restaurant which was about 2 1/2 hours back.  whoopsie!  the restaurant opened next day at 11:00...guess that means we're taking another trip through big sur!

tuckered out from the day's events, we looked into getting something delivered.  pizza my heart, a california chain, was most delicious and reasonably priced.  fittingly, we ordered the big sur pizza, with roasted garlic, pepperoni, sausage, green pepper, and portebella mushrooms...yum! 

after a good night's sleep, we awoke to a gorgeous day and excitedly headed back up to big sur.  a call from a restaurant employee confirmed that the purse was still there and would be waiting. 

due to the drastic weather difference, we were able to capture more 
of the beauty that had been hidden by the gray the day before. 

we returned to julia pfieffer burns state park to walk a wooded trail.  
escher loved walking across the logs over the stream,
 making our way up to a smooth, trickle falls.

happy cows live in california

the rest of the afternoon we went to the monterey bay aquarium and spent hours in awe of the various marine species, trying to identify everything in the tanks.  from mahi mahi and hammerhead sharks to dragon seahorses and rock shrimp, there is something to capture your attention around every corner!  being a leader in the sustainable seafood movement, many of the staff are on the floor trying to educate aquarium goers.

while attempting to find a restaurant, that ended up no longer existing, we stumbled upon some disc golf baskets.  not sure where the course started, we hopped out to survey the scene and enjoy a walk in the gorgeous sunshine. 

this hole was especially noteworthy with the start being so high above the basket and the gorgeous view.  poor pete lost this orange disc (his favorite) in an attempt to capture a perfect action shot.  out of the three discs thrown, this was the best shot!
the next morning, steamer lane and a health food store stop called us to santa cruz.  just less than an hour north of monterey, this crowded lazy surf town satisfied both our cravings.  staff of life natural food market proved to be a most "fruitful" stop with fresh juice and smoothie bar, great local kombucha supply, and inexpensive staples.  emily even got carded for the kombucha at the checkout!

pete was able to rent a board and get out in the water.  steamer lane wave goes forever, offering the perfect wave for all surfing abilities from hot doggers to long boarders.  pete hung out towards the middle, trying to catch as many waves as possible.

lucky to get this shot, considering that there were about 80 (give or take) other people in the water!

the santa cruz pit stop left us refreshed and ready to head to the city.  needing a room for one night, pete found a great, inexpensive room at the marina motel.  located in the marina district, with on site, individual garages for guests, clean, cozy rooms, and a fridge, this place is a gem!  we met up with nantucket friends, willem and dee,  at fog city diner, for some crispy brussels sprouts, truffle fries, and other tasty treats!  dee was off to new orleans the next day, to meet up with some other nantucket ladies for a big birthday bash. 

for the next two nights, we stayed at the comfortably chic, "chez mcrobie", and dee was thoroughly missed as her other half hosted and guided us around this new place they call home! 

spent an afternoon at SFMOMA,
had some snacks on filmore st and people watched,
and ate yummy mexican for dinner

had la boulange bakery for breakfast,
checked out chrissy field,
went for a great walk cliffside with spectacular views...
pete looks like he's about to sneeze!
we lunched at the farmer's market and wondered around wanting EVERYTHING!

best sushi.  ever.
enjoying tuna toro, 
the belly of tuna

after a farmers market breakfast, we said our goodbyes, drove over the bridge,

and headed to point reyes, only to stumble upon cowgirl creamery!!! 
we loaded up on picnic provisions at the organic, artisan cheese makers headquarters
and had their homemade ice cream for breakfast!

having trouble getting to the beach access (closed for the season), 
we stumbled upon this fairy forest running along the bay side of point reyes.

 delighting in the nature, the fairies showed their 
appreciation with these beautiful black truffles!

oysters in point reyes are highly recommended with several roadside places to stop.

we chose hog island oysters...

and enjoyed a half dozen raw and barbequed oysters,

before our drive up to jenner, over through guerneville, and down route 12 to sonoma.

 escher enjoying the very sensory drive!

having success at finding fantastic, inexpensive, pet-friendly hotels, pete booked a room at the sonoma creek inn.  wanting to rest up for a full day of wine tasting, we ordered some homemade italian delivery for dinner.

the next morning, we grabbed a healthy breakfast and headed to kaz winery, a small, funky, newer winery.  where the tastings depend on what is in the barrel.  having been most attracted to this one based on internet research, it was just okay, however, we did get to meet kaz, as he's very active in the day-to-day happenings.

our second stop was at benzinger family vineyard, a biodynamic, organic, and sustainable farm.  the wines were tasty and the staff friendly.  we especially enjoyed watching the weeders do their work...

 these little guys take a break from their job as weeders.

the last winery we stopped at was imagery estate winery.  with visually appealing labels, featured reds,  and comfortable patio, it was a great place for a picnic. 

picnic of cowgirl creamery cheese, mary's gone crackers, 
organic persimmon jam, olives, artichoke tapenade, and 
imagery wine on a pleasant sun filled afternoon.

after several recommendations, we went to the girl and the fig for a most incredible feast!
here are a couple of the delicious treats we split over the evening...


local sardines with red onion and capers,

profiteroles, perfect for sharing!

a brisk walk around the town square with the dog rounded out a most perfect day in wine country and our last in california...colorado bound!!!