Future Adventures – Bucketlist

June 14, 2009

http://www.salvadordalimuseum.org

I never thought I’d have a reason to visit Ohio. It just seems like one of those empty states that doesn’t have anything particularly unique going for it. So I thought, until I stumbled on the Waterparks show on the Travel Channel. There is an entire waterpark resort there! Including a surf simulator, a giant corckscrew, an upward slingshot

Cat Cafe – Japan has an answer for those of us too busy/poor for the joy of taking care of an animal. Sip tea and hang out with some kitties to relieve your stress.

I want to go clubbing in Europe. Apparently the music is much more my style and they play Rogue Traders – The Sound of Drums

Who doesn’t have a goal of swimming in the Dead Sea?

Sand tobboganing! Honestly, that’s what sold me on the Best Job campaign

I’ve swum with trained dolphins but I think it would be even more awesome to swim with wild dolphins

A step up from that would be swimming with whale sharks =O

I want to take some crazy romantic holiday in Belize where you can overnight in a luxurious(!) cave

If I win the lottery, I want to go to Bora Bora after hearing from cruise ship crew that it is THE most beautiful place in the world. You only live once, why pass that up?

The one thing I loved about history class was exploring ancient cultures–Greece and Egypt (pyramids!) are top on my list

I’m envious every time I see kite boarders but I don’t know that my arms are strong enough to handle that…

On that note, I want to learn to surf since I do love me some boogieboarding.

The bioluminescent bay looks like something out of a fantasy world. I’m SO in.

After scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef, I’d like to scuba dive Arkansas. At least, I think it’s Arkansas. I read an article that there is a landlocked dive site where you can see some Native American ruins.

I don’t have the coordination to walk straight so I doubt I’d ever look like this but I’m signing up for belly dance lessons. This also means I must visit Morocco.

I’ve always been fascinated with Pompeii

I want to take an EPIC ROADTRIP with the best gal friend I don’t have playing 80s music on 11. Maybe a waterslide tour, a book tour, or just an awesomeness tour–there’s more to the US than I thought at first glance

See the aurora preferably in the Arctic/Antarctic

Get published of course, though the journey is as much of an adventure as anything 😉

I want to learn Japanese. I’ve got a good start with Rosetta stone, Pimsluer, and a local meet-up group I run

I want to be a lead singer in a band. Even if we’re a crappy band XD

I want to go to a crazy bachelorette party which involves a strip club. Not because I want to see strangers strip. But just because it is bizarre and hilarious.

Death Valley National Park, Calif.

The Mystery: People have long scratched their heads over the “Sailing Stones,” which mysteriously move across the sandy playa’s surface on their own, leaving visible tracks in their wake.

Fact: Given that these rocks chart a new course once every three years, it’s no wonder no one has ever seen them in motion. Some theorize that, in winter, wet clay and strong winds—which can reach speeds of up to 90 mph—are to blame, but no one is 100 percent certain what causes this curious natural (or unnatural?) phenomena.

Oregon Vortex

Gold Hill, Ore.

The Mystery: Measuring 165 feet in diameter and known for producing intense feelings of vertigo, this curious site in southern Oregon has attracted visitors since the 1930s. Here, balls roll uphill, brooms stand on end, and people appear to grow and shrink inside its centerpiece, a former gold mining outpost called the House of Mystery.

Fact: Whether caused by gravity anomalies, a concentration in the Earth’s magnetic fields, or paranormal presence, the Vortex’s strange phenomena is well documented, and animals still refuse to enter its sphere. Native Americans referred to it as Forbidden Ground.

The Paulding Light

Paulding, Mich.

The Mystery: For more than a century, on clear nights, unidentified spheres of light appear like clockwork on the horizon of this four corners town. To date, there’s no logical explanation for the luminescent red, white, and green balls that dance on the edge of the forest, but they are rumored to be the ghost of a railroad brakeman who met his fate on the tracks.

Fact: Locals and the curious regularly line up by the dozens for the bizarre light show; the Michigan Forest Service has even posted signs guiding sky-gazers to the best viewing spots.

Coral Castle

Homestead, Fla.

The Mystery: Made from 1,100 tons of megalithic-style limestone boulders — some heavier than the Pyramids’ and bigger than those at Stonehenge — this unusual structure, located 25 miles south of Miami, was built from 1923 to 1951 by a single man, a diminutive Latvian immigrant named Edward Leedskalnin, as an homage to the love of his life who left him on the eve of their wedding. But how did he do it?

Fact: Leedskalnin claimed he knew the secret to the Great Pyramids’ construction, and was once witnessed levitating stones. Other construction details—no mortar, precision seams, impossible balancing acts—have also stumped scientists for decades.

Ringing Rocks Park

Bucks County, Penn.

The Mystery: Deep in the woods in this 128-acre park is a large field of mysterious boulders that, when struck, sound like bells, as if they are hollow and made of metal. Each summer, hundreds of visitors flock here, hammers in hand, to perform their own “rock concerts.”

Fact: While scientists have determined the stones are made from a volcanic substance called diabase, there’s no explanation for their unusual ringing properties, nor for the eight-acre field itself, which is situated high on a hillside, not at the bottom, ruling out that it may have been formed by a glacier or avalanche.


Toilets – Mexico

January 26, 2009

It amazes me how creative architects get with something as utilitarian as a bathroom.  It’s like, you’ve got to pretty up the process somehow.  And of course there are the euphemisms… water closet, WC, powder room, bathroom, etc

picture-096

Castle bathroom!

And on the opposite end, there were toilets that didn’t flush in hole-y shacks with no running water let alone soap or paper towels.

There was the Mayan village with a wooden log bathroom with a thatched roof.  There was toilet paper but to ‘flush’ you were to throw bark down the hole.

And all the bathrooms had people waiting to give you paper towels for a tip.  Seriously, seriously?!  There isn’t anything more useful they could be doing?  It takes me .1 second to grab a paper towel!

At the hotel there was a bidet.  At least, I think it was a bidet.  I’m not really sure what you’re supposed to do with it D:  I was tempted to Google it haha.

picture-006


Mexico – Tips

January 25, 2009

Write down the names of your guides ):  I feel like a jerk that I can’t remember any of them

Don’t go horseback riding unless you are really confident with horses.  I swear I will never ride a horse again.

Don’t bother brushing up on your Spanish, you’ll hear much more English. (At least in the fancy hotel area…I wanted to test my Spanish but had a hard time getting people to talk to me in anything other than English)

Everyone will tell you to bring sun block and bug repellent.  Then when you get places they’ll say NO bug spray, ONLY specialized sun block because otherwise you damage the environment.  By the way, the specialized sun block never sinks in so you spend the day looking like a kabuki theatre star ^_~

Don’t go in summer.  While we went in winter and had more rainy days than I would have liked, even the first day was scalding and worse weather than that would be torture not vacation

Always bring your swim suit, you never know when you’ll end up in a cenote

Bring lots of pesos.  LOTS.  Everyone and their brother is hoping for a tip and you can afford it–they can’t afford to live without it.

Take a full day in both Xel-ha and Xcaret.  If you are doing something specialized in one (say, the dolphins) do it on a seperate day or you won’t have time to enjoy the rest of the parks.

Bargain!  Just about everyone has the exact same wares so it’s to their benefit that you buy from them rather than go one stop over to buy from someone else.

Get some jewelry, heh. I don’t usually care about jewelry but their purple stuff was sooo sparkly and I can’t find anything remotely similar in the US even at super expensive places

Hope you like to drink because everyone wants you to sample their tequila


Mexico – To Do Next Time

January 25, 2009

I swear I found something about zip-lines at night that wasn’t an evening of romance–I would do that again

I’d zip-line again and volunteer to go upsidedown 😉

Maybe go to Cozumel.  Maybe I got spoiled by Hawaii but I was disapointed with the snorkling we did and I hear it’s great at Cozumel.

PARASAIL D:  I wanted tooooo but it just didn’t happen.

Swim at the beach.  Whenever we had a beach day it was cold and rainy so we went shopping instead D:  but the water was so clear and beautiful.  I went one time but didn’t last long :/  The water is so clear you can see fish though.

Jet ski – When I jet skiied before I was little and terrified, didn’t even know how to drive yet.  Now I think I’d be more confident and what a beautiful place to do it plus there’s such a big expanse.  The worst part of driving for me is just that there are other drivers on the road heh


Expectations – New Zealand

March 29, 2007

1. Vegemite – I was told that natives would be tricking me into trying vegemite at every hostel I stepped into.  I was highly disappointed.  I couldn’t even FIND vegemite in the hostels!  We found it in the store but the can was huge.

2.  Customs – They’re very tight about biosecurity so I wore new shoes for fear of tracking dirt into the delicate ecosystem and they really did have a checkpoint to see the bottom of your shoes =O

3. Environmentalism – I’ve never seen toilets that have a ‘low’ setting to conserve water and a ‘high’ setting for a little extra push.  Kickass.

4.  Sheep – I was disappointed that we were never roadblocked by a flock despite how well it boded that the sheep tried to make friends with Beth the day we arrived…

sheep

5 – Killer Sheep –  Black Sheep was supposed to be showing while we were there but everywhere we went…the release date was different!  I swear it was a week already released back in Auckland when we were down in Queenstown and the signs said next week it’d be released.  -_-  Very sad, I had to netflix it two years later.

6. Tea Some like it hot. We like it always.  I was born British, what can I say?  The most exciting part about applying at a Bed and Breakfast was the concept of daily Afternoon Tea.  And oh, how there was tea.  There was even tea on the plane!

hawttea2

"Tea this way -->"

"Tea this way -->"

I think that actually was a sign to indicate cafes but they were all over the place and where there is a cafe, there is TEA.

7. Sex – The US is notoriously uptight about sex.  The fact that you can torture people in a movie but not have a natural, positive making love scene just boggles the mind.  Interestingly, New Zealand has legalized prostitution.  I think sex for sale isn’t for me but if you like it, why should I stand in your way?  The important thing is that it’s safely regulated.  So I was curious about coming across this more positive attitude toward sex.  I found it in D.VICE.

I love to scope out the sex stores in every city I go to.  Not because I have a whole lot of secret kinks, but more because I don’t (maybe I wish I did? =o ) so the objects  look like bizarre torture devices to me, fascinating.

But a lot of times, sex stores in the US can have a really creepy vibe, skeazy clerks, and be in a seedy are.  Not so for D.VICE, it proudly proclaims its location:

So very welcoming!

So very welcoming!

I’ve also never seen a place where there is a display of each toy so you can “test” it (not where it’s meant to be used, but, yaknow, a finger to get the idea) so that was entertaining.  Plus their employee was great–more on par with a legal receptionist than a sex store clerk.  Very informative, sociable, and most importantly–not skeazy.

8. Tourist friendly – One of the reasons this was my first vacation as an independent adult was that it was overseas and they speak English.  Lots of English.  Their main industry is tourism so this is probably the most user-friendly place I’ve ever been or will ever be!  Everything is easily marked with giant signs, everything is one-two lane road with nice stopping points if you want the rare person to pass you (and I did, I drive SUPERSLOW).  Didn’t hurt that, at the time, the USD was twice the worth of NZD 😉  Oh and everything has a webpage.  EVERYTHING.

9.  The People – were just as ridiculously nice as I’d been led to believe.  At the Pet Salon, we use software from New Zealand and I emailed Lawrence a bunch for support.  If not for phone problems, we would have met up for a meal and chat but it was not to be.  Anyway, he told me the people are on a permanent vacation and it’s so true.  Everyone was very relaxed, welcoming, kind.  Our hang-gliding teachers said we would have loved to live with them because they built pillowforts (don’t make me move there!).  Actually a lot of people told us we should come live there 😉 We would go out at night, even in Wellington and feel completely safe.  Partly because we knew statistically that crime was lower but also because people had very relaxed body language.

I actually had culture shock coming back to the US.  It was painful to get off the plane and hear the strain and anger in people’s voices, see the belligerance in their posture.

10. Economy – At the time, it was $1USD to $2NZD and while I knew there was less crime there, I didn’t expect the complete lack of poverty.  We specifically started looking for the Ghetto of New Zealand.  The closest we found was Whangerei because it had some graffiti.

whangareighetto

New Zealand's Ghetto

 


New Zealand – To Do Next Time

March 28, 2007

I loved this country, heart and soul.  I would do everything again but most specificly, I’d do the Dragons Blackwater Cave Rafting, hanggliding (we did it in Queenstown but I’d like to go somewhere greener), and because I’m a geek for simple science and water, Waiau Waterworks.

We were going to swim with dolphins in Paiha but it was canceled because of the rain.  Since then, I got to do it in Mexico.  I enjoyed it a lot but it was very scripted.  In Paiha, it would have been wild dolphins and that I think would be a very different and equally amazing experience.

I would spend a LOT more time in Rotorua because geothermal stuff fascinates me.

I would take the helicopter onto one of the glaciers rather than hike just to get more time on the glacier and get further onto it, be more encompassed by ice.

I’d take the plane to Milford Sound and go to the underwater observatory where you can see black coral.

I would paraglide in Queenstown.

I would go to a spa and find a thermal pool.  Most of the hostels I looked at online said they had thermal pools….NONE of the ones we ended up at did!

I’d spend more time in hostels.  My friend wasn’t a big fan of them and our money went much further there than here so we ended up in some swanky hotels so it was nice to try that, but I want to go back for the hostel experience and spend more time in a single hostel.

I want to go see the giant Octopus =O

Ride the dunbuggys in Bay of Plenty and those wind riders…  you’re real low to the ground on wheels and have a sail, you go across the beach.

Abseil and explore Waitomo.

I’d spent more time on Mauri culture.  We had the Bushwhacka activity scheduled but found nothing there but chihauhaus…  this was going to involve a recreation of Mauri ceremonies and FOOD!

Canyoning? I don’t even know what this is but it sounds cool!

Looking back, there are a TON of caving activities around Auckland which makes me want to go back to the North Island next time and save the South for the time after that 😉  But but but Queenstown… Maybe there’s paragliding up north somewhere!

The flying fox!

Windsurfing and kitesurfing, sure there are other places to do it but New Zealand is not just gorgeous but REMOTE so you’re not crowded

Whale-watching.  I’ve done it in California but again, New Zealand is just so gorgeous and remote you really would get a different vibe

ropes

Sledging

Swamp Crossing

River surfing

Spookers! We ended up running out of time (and not wanting to drive around Auckland to get MORE lost) but they still send me emails 😉

Ride a tank?!

Because I’m a geek for Labyrinth

Sandboarding

(ARRGH I WANT TO GO BACK NOW!!)

Make a music video??

Speaking of theatrics, I’d like to go on the WETA tour in Wellington maybe some of the other movie tours


Tips – New Zealand

March 27, 2007

1. Spend a month there.  Seriously.  If you’re going to go to the other side of the world, you ought to make it worth it.  If not, spend two weeks on the North Island or two on the South Island.  North was more developed, things were closer together.  South had lovely scenery.  We tried to do both in two weeks and spend more time driving than we really wanted to.

2.  If you want action, go to Queenstown

3.  My favorite adventure was Dragons Blackwater Cave Rafting though it’s more crawling through a river in a cave.  The raft was just a tube that you float on for a few minutes in certain parts of the cave.  The post-trip hot tub was HEAVEN.

4. We were fine to book hostels about a day in advance though we did go in low season

5. Learn to drive stick.  Or ahead of time, make sure the car is automatic!  After a stressful hour or so of Alex giving us a crash course, we ran back to the rental place begging for automatic….and got the last one.

6.  When reserving the ferry from North to South islands, make sure you also reserve the TIME you want to go 😛

7. Use http://www.newzealand.com to get an idea for where things are and what you want to do

8.  Just because it has a webpage, doesn’t mean it’s anything more than a side of the road bungalow

9.  There are phone booths all over the place in the major towns but it was nice to have a cellphone.  Adjusting Beth’s for use in-country was more trouble than it was worth though, we ended up backtracking to Auckland in horrible traffic to rent an NZ cell.  Mostly we used it to call ahead about the activities we booked, as recommended.

10.  Once they get the plane set up to go to Milford Sound, use it, because there’s a whole lotta nothin in between and you don’t want to waste that kind of time just driving

11.  Fill up.  Gas stations can be few and far between, especially on the South Island

12.  Beware of crazy New Zealand drivers!  They are speed demons =o Polite, always polite, but ZOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM

13. I dunno that I would bring a laptop.  Some places had guest computers, others had pay-to-use computers but I can’t remember seeing a lot of wi-fi hot spots

14. Bring a raincoat 😉

15. Keep snacky food in the car as restaurants can be few and far between and keep odd hours.  Unless you’re in one of the bigger cities, a LOT will close around 5pm

16. Worship the I-SITE! There’s one in every city, even small towns, and it has all the information you need.

17.  Many bridges can only fit one car at a time.  The fatter arrow means that direction has the right of way.  I think.

bridge1

18.  DRIVE ON THE LEFT!  You get reminded of this constantly though plus reminders not to fall asleep.