Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts

Friday, September 2, 2016

The 4 Fairy Corners of Massachusetts

Sometimes, we do things that even surprise ourselves.  We take what we think is a good idea and execute it, only to find out that it is indeed, a fabulous idea and realize, it is definitely worth sharing.  That, my friends, is what this blog post is all about.

So my partner and I have two anniversaries around our marriage.  When we signed the formal papers and when we had a ceremony.  We know other couples who have done this for various reasons and it's just how it worked out with us.  Somehow, we have decided that I plan something special around one anniversary and she plans the other.  This past May, I executed my surprise weekend and it went pretty well even with several last minute adjustments.  Actually, we had an amazing time.  So, if you're looking for something to do for a weekend in Massachusetts, pay close attention.

It all started in late February or March when I came across an article:  Fascinating Places In Massachusetts That Are Straight Out Of A Fairytale.  I flipped through the article and found that there were some very cool places in Massachusetts.  I had been to a few of them but all of them seemed pretty cool.  Out of curiosity, I plotted them on good ole Google Maps to figure out exactly how it most effectively hit them all.  Once I did that, I saw that it literally took you to every corner of Massachusetts and well into the ocean for that matter.  Instantly, I knew that I was onto something.
Fairy Tale Massachusetts Itinerary Day 1
Itinerary Day 1

Once I figured out this would make for a great road trip, I just had to figure out the logistics such as how many to hit in one day, where to plan for a place to stay over, and how to make sure it was a good mixture of riding and exploring.  I got everything worked out and even developed an itinerary.  Feel free to peruse, borrow, and adapt for your own adventures.  If you do try this, come back and let me know.  I'd be curious what you did or augmented.
Fairy Tale Massachusetts Itinerary Day 2
Itinerary Day 2

We ran into a few snags that I didn't quite prepare for, but we were ok with.  For instance, the Santarella Gingerbread House and the Ashintully Gardens are not generally open to the public and one needs to make an appointment or visit during their limited hours.  We got to look from afar but not explore these.  Also, on the final day, it was raining so we skipped the Garden in the Woods.  We also adapted on the fly, deciding to visit my partner's grandmother and take her out to ice cream as we made our way from BishBash Falls to Sandwich.  And since it was raining on the final morning, we decided to go to breakfast with my partner's family since it was on the way home.
Fairy Tale Massachusetts Itinerary Day 3
Itinerary Day 3

Those adaptations aside, this trip was a lot of fun and though it was something I did as an anniversary with my partner, it really is a great trip for anyone to take.  Most of the places are free or cheap and are just fascinating places to explore.  I've included some of the photos from our trip in the slide-show below.  


Visiting Fairy Places in Massachusetts




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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tales of Running: The 1st Half--Marathon of the Season: Or, OUCH!

Optimistic at the start.
On Sunday, I plunkered down for my first half-marathon of the season, the Shipyard Old Port Harbor Half-Marathon in Portland, Maine.  It was a brutal run overall but one that I needed to get done.  It's been about 2 months since I last wrote about my running.  And while I've been logging in mileage as best I can, I still haven't upped the running to the point where I feel like I'm at a good training level for tackling the upcoming marathon (now clocking in at 3 months away--gulp!).  Thus, I needed a good kick in the ass like this run in order to get me back on a more serious focus on running.  Granted there have been distractions such as going away in May and having a very busy month in June, but the summer's here in full force and I need to charge ahead!

Onto the Race

What were some of the challenges of the race?  The first was the heat.  It was harsh.  Though the race started around 7:30AM, it was already in the 80s (F) and continued to increase throughout the trek.  The humidity was also palpable and definitely took its toll on everyone.  Particularly in the second half of the race, shade was at a premium and that too took its toll.  I can do heat and humidity but throw in long swats of sun and I'm practically done for.

Hurting, but done
with medal in tow!
There were also two spots of extremely nasty smells.  Early on in the race, we had to pass a large fish market and the smell was stomach churning.  At another place along the path, towards the later half, we had to pass a waste management facility right where they were aerating the water.  Not the most pleasant of smells either.  The worst part about both of these--we had to pass them both because they were parts of loops we were completing.

The final challenge and problem with the race was the herding that took place in two sections of the race.  As the race started, people were herded into a roped off section of road that was maybe 12-15 feet apart and continued for at least a mile.  This was just as the race was beginning so in the first mile or so, we were limited in what we could do.  I didn't mind that this helped slow me down, but I also found myself exerting a lot of energy and attention trying not to bump into the people near me as it was quite crowded.  Additionally, the last 5 miles of the trek took place on a running path around a bay.  This path was narrow at times (especially for the 1+ mile section where runners were going in both directions (it looped back on itself).  At other times, there was just poor running etiquette at work.  People would stop and walk in the middle of the path or if they were with a friend, they would walk side by side, taking up much of the path, if not all of it.  I would think that a general rule of courtesy would be to move to the right if one were walking to give more room for the runners, but many walked in the middle of the path, causing others to have to navigate around (and try not to stumble off the path or bump into others while doing so).

Being both unprepared for the run in general and the harsh weather conditions, I did find myself walking bits of it.  I think in total, I probably walked two miles of the entire race.  In the end, I came in at 2:41:03 with a 12:17 minutes per mile average.  I definitely have a long way to go, but it's a good starting point to work with.

Within feet of the finish line!
Despite any of that, the route itself was beautiful with lots of great views (and two killer hills!) and I did enjoy the different areas of Portland I hadn't seen before.  I also liked the excuse to go up to Maine for the weekend and enjoy some time in one of my favorite cities.

Well, the running season is now in full force.  I have runs every other week or every week over the next few months leading up to the marathon in October.  Here is my updated running line up.  If you see any that sound interesting, feel free to sign up and join me!

Sunday, April 21, 2013 - DONE
Energize The Earth 5K/10K
10:00AM: Beverly, MA
http://www.bnseventmanagement.com/events/EnergizeEarth.html

Sunday, May 5, 2013 - DONE
5 Mile Run for HAWC
12:00 PM: Salem Common
http://www.active.com/running/salem-ma/5-mile-run-for-hawc-2013

Sunday, July 14, 2013 - DONE
Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon and 5k
7:30AM: Thames Street, Portland, Maine 04101
http://www.oldporthalfmarathon.com/

Sunday, July 21, 2013
Narragansett Half-Marathon
8:30AM:  320 Washington Street, Easton, MA 02357
http://www.gansettrun.com/#!event-info/ch6q

Saturday, August 3, 2013
Triple Threat
9:00AM:  24 Jerdens Lane, Rockport, Massachusetts 01966
http://www.yukanrun.com/TripleThreat.html

August 24, 2013
Color Mob Run - 5K
12:00PM:  Amesbury Sports Park, 12 Hunt Rd, Amesbury, MA 01913
http://cmboston-2013-eorg.eventbrite.com/

Monday, September 2, 2013
Around Cape Ann 25K
9:00AM OMaley Middle School, 71 Middle Street, Gloucester, MA
https://www.runreg.com/Net/3381

September 8, 2013
AppleCrest Half-Marathon
8:30AM:  133 Exeter Rd. | Hampton Falls , NH
http://www.applecresthalf.com/race-info.php

Saturday, September 21, 2013
Wicked Half Marathon
7:00AM:  Bentley School, 25 Memorial Drive, Salem, Massachusetts 01970
http://www.bnseventmanagement.com/events/TacheHalfMarathon.html

Saturday, October 5, 2013
31st Annual Applefest Half Marathon
10:00AM:  Hollis, NH
http://www.applefesthalfmarathon.com/

Sunday October 20, 2013
BayState Marathon
8:00AM:  Lowell, MA 01852
http://www.baystatemarathon.com/


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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What's in Your Travel Pack?

So as many know, I recently went on a trip.  Well, over a month ago now, so this post is wildly overdue, but June got crazy, so here it is now.  This is what I've come to find my essential travel pack.  What I mean is the stuff besides thing like toiletries.   I have listed things that would be useful in your day to day adventures or just a good resource to have on hand.

Plastic Baggies of various sizes:  These will come in handy for carrying small amounts of food or trying to keep something protected from rainy weather.  They can fit easily in your day-bag (see below) and you can toss your phone into one if it starts raining hard (and you for got your umbrella).

Lock:  Particularly if you plan to stay at a hostel, many of which will have storage you can lock stuff up.  I'd go with a combination lock, doing your best to remember it and to store it on a digital device or something along those lines.

Umbrella:  A small 6-8 inch umbrella is a must.  It takes up a little more space in your day-bag, but it inevitably proves its worth the first time you're caught in rain and quickly pull it out.  It's also useful with it's hanging hoop that you can latch onto your belt or outside of your bag.

Pen:  Call me crazy but going somewhere without a pen feels wrong.  It's probably the writer in me, but I just feel if I need to write something down (e.g. directions, an address, a note), I have it onhand.

Paper pad:  See pen above.

Bandanna:  Depending on weather, air quality, etc, a bandanna is a great carry item in the day-bag as it can be versatile in its uses from wiping up to covering up.  If you're low on sunblock or just don't want direct sun, it can be wrapped around the head.  It can be soaked in water and put upon the head to help cool you down.

Rain poncho:  Not necessarily an essential depending on the climate (ahem, I'm looking at you desert!), but again, a cheap one (read: plastic back with hood and arm holes), can fit easily into a day-bag and quickly accessible if the rain is a coming.  While the umbrella is useful, I like the poncho because you can put it on over your day-bag, thus guaranteeing the dryness of your day-bag.

Canteen:  A must for certain if you don't want to spend a fortune on water (though in some places, you will need to buy the water for health reasons).  This takes up more space and weight (especially when full) in the day-bag, but I find it extremely useful to draw upon, especially if there are no stores around or I don't want to spend $3 for a bottle of water of equivalent size).  I try to get one with a carabiner so I can hang it off my backpack for quick access.

Mini-backpack or day-bag:  I've become a big fan of these items.  Maybe some would it a murse or man-bag or what have you.  However, I like the string-based backpack sacks that are usually nylon.  I will toss stuff in there and carry that about throughout the day.  It's great in that I can put snacks and the aforementioned items as well as if I buy stuff, toss it in the bag and continue on my way.

Mini-flashlight:  Maybe not to have in the day-bag but definitely useful to have on-hand if you're traveling at night or next to where you are sleeping.

Strip of paper with contact info and play you're currently staying:  I would carry this on me somewhere such as my wallet.  If something were to unexpectedly happen to me, knowing where I am staying, who to contact, etc, would be extremely useful information for medics or other involved players to have (especially if you have allergies, medical conditions, etc).

Copy of Passport (physical and digital): Again, I would carry this one me as a backup (if traveling abroad) as well as have a copy of it in digital form.  It may not do much if I lose the real thing, but it might get things done quicker if you know the information that's on your passport.

Small towel:  Ok, I stole this one from Douglas Adams, but it's pretty true.  Much like the bandanna, but I'm apt to leave this in the living space I'm staying at as a back up (again, if using a hostel, your own towel will save you money).

Utility Knife:  I tend to carry this on me in the day-bag if going out and about so long as I know I'm not going through any security checks that will cause me to lose it.  A utility knife with its various appendages can come in extremely useful in many different situations.  Though make sure you don't do what I did and leave it in the backpack you use to get on the plane (keep it in your luggage when flying--ooops!).

Universal Adapter:  Pretty straight forward but many forget and thus cannot get their electricity on for their various items.

Electronic device with maps, public transportation info, and other useful information;  even if you don't have an international plan or cannot access the interwebs online when abroad, you can download a good amount of that information onto your digital device.  For instance, you can take really good map images from Google of the area/city you are staying in with areas marked and such to help you move about.  You can also download public transportation data so you can go to your device to find out where you need to go and how to get there.

So what's in your travel pack?  What are your essentials for traveling?


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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Travel Updated #13: Coming Home & Reflections

So I came back to the US on May 31, 2013 in the evening but have been quite busy since I came home.  I finally had a few minutes to reflect on my travels and bring this video journal to a close.  I appreciate everyone that's been reading it and enjoying the videos.  They were fun to make and experiment with and I hope they weren't too painful to watch!





Today's random images from the photo archive:

A scrumptious English breakfast!
The Eye of London
Camden Town Marketplace


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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Travel Updated #12: Getting Lost in Paris with Kate Bornstein

So I decided to get lost in Paris while listening to Kate Bornstein's A Queer and Pleasant Danger.  It was a great time had by all!





Today's random images from the photo archive:

Just what the doctor ordered!

In the Garden of Luxembourg...who knew?

Hey!  She shrank...and moved to Luxembourg?



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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Travel Updated #11: Enjoying Paris to its Fullest!

Paris has been fantastic!  Here is my update of my excellent day yesterday, but for more details about my wanderings, check out my journal as you'll find out about my crepe adventure and soaking in all the sights--as well as my FAVORITE part of the Louvre!


Today's random images from the photo archive:

Now entering the Louvre.
A sculpture that grabbed my attention


Lance make's crepes....not really!


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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Travel Updated #10: Arrival in Paris

So I have left the Netherlands and even Berlin and am now in Pars!  Fun times await!



Today's random images from the photo archive:

Inside the Berliner Dom
Notre Dame

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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Travel Update #9: Departing the Netherlands

An update about my second to last day in the Netherlands--lots of fun and sad to depart!



Today's random images from the photo archive:

The Start of the presentation

I made a friend.

Dinner:  Vegetable Lasagna

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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Travel Update #8: Some of my Favorite Pics

A light update this time around.  Instead of a video, I've done a slide-show of some of my favorite pictures taken thus far.  I've also updated my journal, which as of now is in the vicinity of some 8500+ words.  To see a full screen version, you can also click through here.





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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Travel Update #7: Of Palaces & Police

Not a bit update per se nor a cool video like the last few times, but just me talking about a palace I visited, getting pulled over by the police (I assure, I'm not blogging from prison...yet), and facial hair.  Enjoy!




Today's random images from the photo archive:



The hedge maze at Het Loo


The old castle on the grounds

Pretty purple flowers in Anna's parents' backyard


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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Travel Updated #6: Art Exhibit Video

Below is the video I made of the art project that my host and her friends worked on at the Galerie Zuid.  They came out really well and I wanted to make this video to capture the progress and atmosphere.  I've also updated my journal as well as added more photos so be sure to check them out!  I'm still having a great time and even though the weather isn't entirely agreeable, the people are.




Today's random images from the photo archive:

Now, there's a throne to sit upon!

A new building with a golden dove and big egg...
or eye...or disco ball--we weren't sure.


Art on street tiles.




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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Travel Update #5: Art, Gnomes, & Walking About

Another great day of adventuring in the Netherlands!  Here's my latest video update, giving some of the numbers of my first week in the Netherlands.  Enjoy the video, the pics, and the updates and let me know what you think.




Today's random images from the photo archive:



Clearly, these gnomes have gotten into the wrong
batch of mushrooms!


Medusa--a woman you never look twice at!


More cool street art.




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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Travel Update #4: A Video Tour of Zwolle & More Adventures

I continue to have a great time with lots of travelling and meeting of new people.  During my adventures in Zwolle, I decided to make this video capturing some of the sights I've encountered there.  It's not great, but it might give you a better sense of where I am and what I'm doing.  Enjoy!




Today's random images from the photo archive:



A sculpture of the Archangel Michael


The spikes for our candle-holders.




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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Travel Update #3: More videos, more pics, more fun!

The trip continues to be an excellent success with lots of learning, laughs, and excitement.  Below is my vlog update.  Also, I wanted people to know, after 2-3 requests from readers that I have opened up the travel journal so that if people want to use the Comment feature, they can in the Google Doc to ask questions and comment about what you read there.  I promise to answer them as best as possible.

Two Video updates!



Update 2:



Today's random images from the photo archive:


Seriously, bikes are everywhere!


Anna's College


Yum!  




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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.