Category Archives: Adventures

Return to the Finger Lakes Wine Country, NY

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One of the places that I have continuously returned to over the years and still manage to find something new is at the Finger Lakes, NY.

It’s about a 5-hour drive from my New Jersey home, but a wonderful escape that feels a world away from my everyday life. My family has gone with me over the years, but I think on this last trip the area really managed to carve a special place in my kids’ heart, so much so that they didn’t want to leave.

What I have come to love about the destination is not just the beautiful outdoor experiences one can have there, but also the community. Whether I am spending time with a farmer working at a local orchard or winery, or with an artist in residence at the Corning Museum of Glass, that sense of pride and community that I feel every time I am there is the thing that makes us feel so welcomed, so at home, and so in love with this place.

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We cannot escape this

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Travel has always served as a form of escapism. From the stresses of work, from our daily routines, from a life we want to leave behind. It has always been promoted as the thing that one must do to regain their sense of self, their well-being, and mental balance.

Travel has been many of those things for me and remains a great source of reprieve when I need it most.

But as we see our country implode, its ugliest, angriest, and most violence facets come to surface, there is one thing I have learned for sure: we cannot escape this.

There is no room for silence. There’s not time for sideline standing. It doesn’t matter that you don’t want to get involved. This is happening. 

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Fun-filled summer vacation at Massey’s Landing in Delaware

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There is no denying that I am a huge fan of road trips. I wasn’t always and it took our wanting to travel on a limited budget and 3 kids in tow to really get us to consider it as a preferred method of travel for our family. Since our first major trip in 2009 from NYC to Montana, we have been going on road trips every chance we get, whether here in the states or overseas. (Our next big road trip adventure will be through Ireland this fall).

As our family gets older, we have also been seriously considering more road trips in RVs. Now, I’ve RV’d a few times and it takes some getting used to, but I’m learning that if you have the two most important factors in place, which is an RV that works best for your family and travel style, as well as good company (because, let’s face it, sharing small enclosed quarters with anyone other than those whom you truly enjoy spending time with can be torture), it can be an absolutely wonderful experience.

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Coney Island, a beloved part of New York history

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There are certain things about Brooklyn that still make me smile: a pizza slice from Johnny’s on 5th avenue in Sunset Park, the Manhattan skyline from Sunset Park, riding the F train to the highest subway point in the city (Smith and 9th Sts.), the mist from an open fire hydrant on a hot summer day (fire hydrants can be opened legally by requesting the local Fire Department to provide a spray cap, which they install, on the hydrant you want).

And although much of what I love about Brooklyn has vanished to give way to the trendy, hip, and new, there are still pockets that embrace the history and the endless memories of those of us who were born here and spent so much of our childhood here.

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Family vacation, unplugged in Woodstock, VT

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My friends, it’s time to unplug and go on a vacation.

These feel like insane times. Turn on the news, read the paper, go online, and it feels like you just can’t escape it. At home, kids seem addicted to video games, YouTube videos, and if they are on social media, even worse (I have managed to keep my younger ones off it so far – though YouTube is a problem). Information overload, or Cognitive Overload as referred to by health experts, can lead to depression, indecisiveness, and stress, and Smartphone addiction is a real thing which can lead to sleep deprivation, mood swings, and even a lack of focus.

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Travel choices: When ethics, community solidarity, and ambition for personal growth collide

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But first, let me tell you how spreading ignorance, fear, and misinformation of a place has influenced me personally.

When my husband and I decided to get married, we decided to do so in the Dominican Republic. It is not only a beachy, sunny, beautiful destination, it is also where half my family is from. Because my father owns vacation rentals there, we were able to secure a few beach apartments free of charge for my husband’s family all of which were traveling from Wisconsin and had never been to the island. We were all going to be close to each other and they would never have to navigate the area alone as I would always be around to translate.

We gave everyone a year’s notice to plan their trip and settle their budgets. Almost all of them were excited to come.

Except for one of my husband’s closest relatives. They were unsure about the safety of traveling to a “Third World Country”, a descriptor that no longer applies to the small island, whose technology is the same as that of the U.S. and which leads in comparison to most Latin American countries.

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Romantic weekend getaway to the Hamptons, off-season

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While sitting here planning and booking our summer escapes, the kids summer camps and activities, and seeking out all the potential available during the summer months, it’s easy to ignore that 1) I am in desperate need of a vacation and 2) there are some really great options now.

For example, the Hamptons is a fabulous escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The warm beaches, the bars and eateries, the activities hosted all throughout this seaside community and its neighboring towns. Things tend to pick up mid-June and continue on well into September.

However, if what you are needing is something more of a quieter escape without the traffic or the crowds, the area delivers that and more during the off-season as well. It’s true that most businesses are seasonal and not open during these months, but that isn’t to say you will have nothing to do.

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Finding the best of Jerusalem

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I arrived to Jerusalem with eyes wide open with excitement for my first visit to a country I had only heard so much about.

The city itself is very segregated, divided up into 4 quarters (Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and Armenian) and I was curious about how this influenced the feel of the city. Would it be unpleasant at times? Would it feel dangerous navigating any one area as a foreigner?

I only had 4 days to spend in Jerusalem, so I made sure leave sleep for when I got home and focus on seeing and learning as much as I could in my short time there. Here are some of the best ways I was able to do that:

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The awakening that is Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel, Bethlehem, Palestine

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I woke up looking forward to my venture into Bethlehem. I had been in Jerusalem for 3 days now and after several walking tours and meetings with state officials, I was looking forward to experiencing something more.

Before visiting Jerusalem, I was very much like the average American traveler and their first time in Israel. I knew about its significance religiously and I knew a lot of the struggles politically. I also knew whatever was already shared online; that it was beautiful and exciting and a wonderful place to visit.

What I didn’t know much about was what laid on the other side, in the West Bank. In fact, what I did know was shaped by American discourse and that narrative told me that this was a place of danger. Terrorism stemmed heavily from these parts, as did the terrorists themselves. In talking to anyone at home about my visit to the West Bank their first question was, “Is it safe?”

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Road Tripping in Los Angeles

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Driving through Los Angeles means getting stuck in traffic. Unless you plan on staying put in one neighborhood (and why would you?) you might as well prepare yourself for the inevitable.

With every trip I have gotten better at being more patient with what is a true LA experience and reaching out to locals who are great at letting me know about travel times to avoid and expressway to skip all together. But if you do get stuck in traffic, the best thing to do is take a deep breath, find a fun tune, and enjoy the ride.

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