101 things about me

Friday, 30 July 2010

Come fly with me, come fly, come fly away...

Feel free to join me on my journey.

Just as a warning though, I think any spare space in my suitcase is already taken!

As an alternative, you can come fly with me on my journey just by sitting down at your computer! I have just bought a little 10 inch netbook, and whilst I am struggling with working a pc and not a mac, it is a little beauty! And I know I bitch and moan about technology when it all goes wrong (when my eyes glaze and I whine until someone comes to my technological rescue), but this is very very cool.

It means I will be in touch throughout the trip (as long as I have internet access of course). It uploads photos direct from my camera memory card, I can log onto the internet wherever there is WiFi and I can make video calls via Skype! I even have a twitter account!*

And of course I WILL be blogging.

So drop by when you can and I'll try to keep you well traveled, all from the comfort of your own home.

* My username is onelittleacorn, though I have yet to use it and I have absolutely no idea how, so I make no promises on this one at all!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

1 week today...

This time next week, I will be at the airport about to jump on a plane to the States.

Am I organised?
Well, I think so. Sort of.
Mostly. Given that there is still a week to go...
I do have my tickets and my passport and visa sorted.

Am I packed? 
I don't even have a bag yet!
... maybe I'm not so organised afterall.

Am I getting nervous?
Ahhh, yeh, a bit.
Not really a fan of flying.
Just want to get there as smoothly as possible.
And want it to all go well.
And not too fast!

What are my plans?
People keep asking me, and this is my standard answer...
First stop Maine.
Then, maybe...
up to Canada, Nova Scotia, Toronto?
Niagara Falls? Boston? Nantucket? Cape Cod?
Definitely Maine, DC and NYC for sure.
Apart from that... Hmmmm, not totally sure right now, but that's ok, right?

What's the first thing I am going to do?
Sit in the sun and go for a swim in the hotel pool.
I have been told that exposure to sunshine helps the body adjust to the shift in time-zones and helps you recover from the effects of jetlag, so that's high on my priority list. And believe me, I can't wait to soak up some summer sunshine.
Of course, I will have to be careful not to scare the other guests with my untanned skin!

What are you interested in seeing (apart from friends)?
Again, open to pretty much anything, but here are a few things high on the list...
A baseball game (hopefully in NYC)
Central Park, NYC.
Tanglewood 4H Camp, Maine.
The Statue of Liberty from a ferry.
Niagara Falls.
New England coast.
The Northern Lights.
A show on Broadway.
Times Square.
The White House.
Wildlife (of the animal kind)
A chipmunk.
A moose.
A woodpecker... do you know I didn't actually realise they existed until I saw them last time - I actually thought it was just a cartoon character. Seriously. Next I'll be hearing that roadrunners exist too right? They don't exist, do they?

What are you hoping for?
Good weather.
Friends - new and old.
Time out.
A good book.
Easy decisions.
A nice beach.
Good company.
The Northern Lights.
Lobster... mmm.
Good food.

A sunny place to sit and be still.

Am I excited?
You bet I am.
(like you couldn't tell!)

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Great traveling companions...

Did I tell you I am traveling to the States with my Mum?

For ages I had been talking of escape and adventure and taking a break from the world. Thing is, I wanted to escape everything and everyone, and this was the reason (in part at least) that I took so long to decide what to do and where to go... Because (and here comes the confusing bit) although I wanted to escape, I didn't really want to spend the entire 6 weeks on my own - I also wanted to have company at times too. I really didn't know what I wanted. Apart from everything of course!!!

And so, when I told my Mum I was going to the States, I asked if she wanted to come along too. And of course the answer was yes! There are many great things about this. Amongst them... I get along well with my Mum and we travel well together. We are interested in many of the same things... art, beauty, nature, people watching, relaxing, good food and fun. On top of that, she is like traveling with my own history book as she was bought up in the days when history was a strong part of a child's education and she remembers so much of it!

Also, she understands that I like my own space and we are not so precious that either of us will take it personally if one of us wants to do something different for a day or two.

Originally we agreed that out of 6 weeks away, we would spend 4 weeks together and 2 weeks apart (this I admit, was at my suggestion). I saw it as a good balance without either of us feeling too crowded and not being isolated either. I had plans to head to the Virgin Islands for a beach break and Mum was heading to Nova Scotia to soak up some Canadian goodness.

I was both excited (for me) and a little jealous (of her) at the same time. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought that Mum had the right idea... I reaslised that traveling to the Northern parts of the States, just to escape it for two weeks by traveling South for 7+ hours, was just a little bit crazy. I had come all that way, why not make the most of the area while there?

And so, I changed my plans. We have now decided that we will probably hang out together for most of the time... mostly because we want to do most of the same things anyway and it will be more fun with company. And if we decide to go our own way for a day or two at any stage, that's cool too.

Seems finding a rich Texan millionaire (and potential husband) is probably not likely to happen while hanging out with my Mum, and I won't be skinny dipping in the Carribean any time soon, and I'm pretty sure I can say we will not be bungy jumping, paragliding or climbing any glaciers, but that's ok. Because even if I miss out on these few things, we are going to have a great time together regardless.

Just ten sleeps to go!

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Back in 'my day' it wasn't this complicated... was it?

I traveled extensively in my 20s. India (briefly) and Africa at the innocent age of 21, followed by countries across 3 continents. I look back and wonder at my bravery. I had a few close calls... and a lot of luck along the way. I certainly never considered myself brave, and truth be told, it was probably more naivete that got me through (and may well have been my salvation)!

And whilst things were not always easier, all in all, they were more simple times.

In those days there were none of the complications of todays techno travel...
I said my farewells at the departures gate, not knowing when I would next speak to my family. 
I had a passport pre-stamped to allow my entry into foreign countries. 
I used a backpack and carried it like a turtle carries it's home - on my back. 
I carried a money belt packed with my airline tickets, travelers cheques, some local currency...
and a swiss army knife!!!
I had a list of post offices where I would collect post... a service referred to as poste restante.
I had a camera and a spare battery.
16 rolls of film in a lead lined bag to protect it from the xray machines.
A dog-eared Lonely Planet filled with circled cheap deals and places to stay.
Adventure waited around every corner.

There was no internet.
No email.
No mobile phones.
No quick way to call for help if the going got tough, or book a hotel from the train before arriving in unfamiliar territory.
Luggage did not come with built in wheels.

As I said, they were simpler times.

This time around, it feels like an exercise in technological warfare.
Passport with electronic chip inserted.
Electronic visa.
Home printed tickets with barcode for electronic check-in.
Mobile phone.
Memory cards.
Credit cards.
Pin numbers.
Cash passport with US currency.
Pin numbers.
ATM card/s.
More pin numbers.

Surely our simple, more advanced life, is actually more complicated than ever? My luggage is going to be chock a block full of cables and electronic goods. And I haven't even started packing yet. And I am definitely suffering from a major case of pin number fatigue.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Top class used to be a private room with a shared bathroom...

Now, I know in my last post I said that I wasn't going to plan any more of my trip, and I am not... however, I did want to mention Lonely Planet travel guides (of course I refer to the USA guide because it's the only one I am reading right now)...

My original travel bible, Lonely Planet used to exemplify the adventurer's spirit... I used them to simplify my travel and allow me to get a feel for what to expect of my destination, without taking away the excitement. It gave me a backpackers view, having been written by backpackers for backpackers. It was perfect for the budget traveler.

Twenty years later, I am still a budget traveler (hey, 5 star would be grand if I could afford it!) and so this time LP was my first port of call. And as I have grown older, it seems LP has too.

Like me, Lonely Planet seems to have changed over the years, but (unlike me!) LP has not necessarily changed for the better. It seems to me the Lonely Planet guides have drifted from the backpacker market and are now concentrating on travelers whose wallets are thicker than ever.

I know it's been 20 years since I traveled, but hotels were never the mainstay of Lonely Planet readers 'back in my day'. Since when has the budget travel cheap range been US$80-$120? Surely there are cheaper options, or at least other options to consider...

Top class used to be a private room with a shared bathroom in a cheap pensione in Austria. Dorm rooms shared with snoring room-mates were a median priced option (and great way of meeting fellow trippers). Cheap was sleeping on the roof of a hostel in Israel, or pitching a tent in a Welsh farm where sheep had been wandering the day before. Is nothing sacred?

None of these options are even considered in the latest volume that I have seen. And whilst I know (and expect) NYC to be reasonably expensive, and I don't expect to pitch my tent in Central Park NYC, it would be nice to have options other than hotels listed in other places...

So, what's the deal LP?

*oh yeh - 13 sleeps to go

Monday, 19 July 2010

Winging it in the USA and holding onto adventure...

I have been meaning to add an update post to my blog for ages, but because my plans have been changing (and more countdown posts were getting a little bit boring), it was hard to know where to start. And on top of all that, I have been super busy.

All the planning (tickets/itinerary/accommodation/contacting friends)
The paper work (passport/money/visa)
Organising my life and home in my absence (house sitter/bills to be paid/work replacement)
Making decisions (where to go/what to do/where to stay)

Google has become my best computer buddy, taking over temporarily from my bff - blogging. Any free time I have had, has been spent researching, planning, changing plans and thinking about other plans.

As if procrastination isn't bad enough, add in indecision (a slightly different affliction) and a touch of nervousness and the plans have been rotating and changing on a daily basis.

The internet, in some ways makes it all a little too accessible, too easy to plan everything before even boarding the plane. Down to an itinerary for each and every day, each moment accounted for, each meal, tour and destination planned. But where is the adventure in that?

So, instead of over planning, I have decided to wing it a little.

I had plans. Lots of them.
Maybe too many.
Some have changed.
Some remain the same.
Many more will no doubt change along the way...

And so, as far as telling you my plans, I can't tell you that much at all.
What I do know of my six weeks in the USA is this...
I be staying in Maine for the first week and renewing my love for beautiful New England.
I am staying with old friends and we will be having a small reunion with a few others too.
I am spending ten nights in NYC, and at least three in Washington DC.

I am meeting up with some blogging friends.

And the rest?
There are many options of course, but right now, I am trying to hold on a little to the adventure of not knowing what might happen... being open to all the possibilities, embracing the freedom, relaxing... and remembering to breathe. At least three of the six weeks are a mystery at this stage, and that is how it's going to stay for now.

Maybe it's a little bit crazy, but it's pretty exciting too!

And so you know, it's just over two weeks to go...