Happy Holidays!

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Xmas cheer at DFW

‘Tis the season, hope your holiday travels are going off without a hitch (although by the looks of the weather patterns across the US, eesh probably not).  By now, the holiday travel season is in full swing — I’ve already survived two trips to airports in the past few days, mainly by helping myself to many Diet Cokes from the airport lounges.

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the least wonderful travel time of the year at LAX

It’s always a test of patience this time of year, but lines and delays keep you humble and it’s not the airline worker’s fault.  Remember to Airborne, always use sanitizer and that the headrests and tray tables are not typically cleaned well during the turnaround.

This year was the year of the Cs, commencing with Cuba and the Caribbean:

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havana ooh na na

coupled with a Canadian autumn…

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and culminating in another trip to the Caribbean.

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virgin islands national park might be the low-key frontrunner for beautiful parks

Somehow I also fit in quick trips to Las Vegas, KC, Nashville and Indianapolis.

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I added Maine to my states visited list (3 left!)…

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he’s my lobster

and finally broke my Disney moratorium, traveling to a galaxy, far, far away.

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And the best was that I got to see so many friends when they came through my town! I wish I had traveled more this year (I traveled plenty, but I’m greedy), but I do have “a job,” and someone has to “pay the bills.”  Good thing I’ve already planned out a couple of trips already so it should be a full 2020 (will be full of P’s, both literally and hopefully figuratively).

Wishing you a healthy and happy holiday season, and a happy New Year!

 

 

 

know before you go: STT USVI

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No, that’s not a bunch of f Roman numerals.  STT is the airport code for Cyril King Airport of St. Thomas, one of the main destinations in the US Virgin Islands.  The busiest airport of the islands, many traveling will use it to hop to nearby St. John and the BVI. If you’re like me, and you have always romanticized jetting down to the islands like some New York socialite wearing a caftan and drinking gimlets whilst perched on a Mortician Adams wicker peacock chair, then wintering in the Caribbean is for you!

I mean, what’s not to love about exchanging frigid temperatures and the stress of the holidays for sandy beaches and margaritas?  Beach hair, don’t care.

STT is a tiny airport with one terminal.  There are flights to and from the US quite frequently during this season on American, Delta, Frontier, United and JetBlue.

Remember: ✈️ = Extra virgin to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ =  If you like pina coladas

Convenience to the city:✈️✈️✈️ (3 miles from Charlotte Amalie, downtown)

Ease of navigating through terminals:  ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (it’s not a big airport)

Convenience of check in/security lines:  ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (Customs check so they recommend getting there at least 3 hours ahead)

Dining:✈️✈️ (free shots when you arrive, but not much else)

Restrooms: ✈️✈️✈️ (Small airport, but a lot of stalls)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️ (free wifi available)

Amenities: ✈️✈️ (Did I mention free shots? Also free tote bags from the downtown jewelry stores.  Verrrrry slow baggage claim, so plan accordingly)

Plymouth rocking

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Happy Thanksgiving week everyone!  One of the busiest travel weeks of the year, often coinciding with horrible weather.  What could go wrong? 😉

The juice is often worth the squeeze though, and you get to enjoy a lovely meal and reflect on the things for which you’re grateful.  And I guess you get to spend time with your family (whatever definition you choose), too.  Gather around the hearth y’all, for this short week, here is the story of one of America’s folklore icons, the Plymouth rock.

Everyone’s basically heard of the Pilgrims, right?  They were a group of mostly Puritan separatists who sailed from England in 1620.  They were seeking religious freedom by heading to the New World, and they were trying to get to Virginia, where the first successful settlement of Jamestown was founded in 1607.

Obviously, if you’re ever looked at a map of the U.S., you’ll know that Massachusetts and Virginia are nowhere near each other, so they clearly didn’t reach their intended destination.  Storms forced them to anchor near what is now Provincetown, at the hook of Cape Cod.  This is where there was infighting and almost mutiny, so the Mayflower Compact was devised and signed, creating a new government that still gave sovereignty to the king, while enacting a social agreement wherein everyone would play by the community rules.  This happened around mid-November to December 1620, and thus ’tis the reason for the season.

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nothing says america quite like “gift shops”

After exploring the area and having some ill-advised encounters with the native peoples (likely stealing the indigenous peoples’ food and stores), they settled in Plymouth.  This area had been inhabited by the Wampanoag people, however this particular area had been devastated by smallpox (brought over by…you guessed it, previous European explorers/colonizers), and thus made a convenient place to stop.

The Pilgrims success was aided by the Wamponoags, whose prominent leaders, Chief Massasoit and ambassador Squanto, saved their weary butts.  Squanto helped teach the settlers how to eel/fish and cultivate corn before he too succumbed to the plague.  Interestingly enough, Squanto had avoided the previous death wave that killed many of his people as he had been captured as a slave and was in Europe being converted to Christianity at the time.  The more you know, folks.

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Anyway, this was the site of their Plymouth Colony, which by the next year had a successful harvest season.  And what comes before Pilgrim Part B?  Pilgrim Part-A.  And that’s how we got the first Pilgrim Thanksgiving.  Attended by the 50 or so remaining settlers and 90 Native Americans, they ate corn and wild turkey and now so do we.

 

Nowadays, the small town of Plymouth, Massachusetts (40 miles from Boston) is still very keen on their history pertaining to these early settlers.  “America’s Hometown” has the Pilgrim Historical State Park, which has reproduction ship called the Mayflower II that sits in the bay, Plimoth Plantation (living history museum), and of course, the famed Plymouth rock.

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You’ll note that I haven’t mentioned this famed monolith yet.  That’s because the pilgrims didn’t mention it either.  This boulder merely represents the site where the Pilgrims first disembarked, a stepping stone if you will.

Anyway, it is the cornerstone of the Pilgrim State Park, and sits under a very fancy neoclassical portico.  A true American icon, representing strength and resiliency, we’re all truly like a rock.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

i heart hartford

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Hartford, Connecticut is an elder statesmen of cities in America.  The well-preserved grandeur of many of its old buildings alludes to its history as one of the former richest cities in the country.  Home to the oldest art museum in the U.S. and a very beautiful, sprawling central park, Hartford has firmly written itself into the fabric of American history by being home to many of our nation’s greatest literary minds.

Mark Twain once said of Hartford, “Of all the beautiful towns it has been my fortune to see, this is the chief. ”

He hearted Hartford, and so will you…

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the road not taken: vermont version

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Vermont, known for Ben & Jerry’s, the Green Mountains, Bernie Sanders, and so much more, is arguably the most beautiful state in the US to enjoy fall foliage (I will probably say this about each state I visited).

You may have noticed that I was gone for a few weeks (or maybe you didn’t and in that case, my feelings are hurt); I was on an epic cultural roadtrip through New England, and I definitely forgot to schedule posts (smort). But I’m back, baby, and ready to share some pictures of autumn with y’all.

Trust me, when you get older, you will be thrilled by simple notions such as leaves turning different colors.

nothing gold can stay

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know before you go: IND

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As alluded to in my post from last month, Indianapolis International Airport is one of the nicer domestic airports through which I’ve ever been.   I’m not the only one who is impressed; this airport tops ‘best of’ lists of airports year after year.

Modern, spacious, it’s your standard two story, two concourse (A&B) airport but the open, airy design and ease of moving through said space makes it anything but average. From the time you step foot inside, you can tell the personality of the city and just how proud of it they are.  It’s an enjoyable feeling, even if just for a layover.

As it is the gateway to one of the most visible international sporting events in the world, the airport has to make a great first impression, and it does.  The most eye catching feature is the large civic plaza which is a rotunda just outside security that gives you a 270 degree glass-windowed view of the Indiana plains.  There is great signage, and technology both at the airport and on their website informing you of line wait times.  There are about 44 gates serving most domestic carriers (American, Alaska, Allegiant, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United) and one international carrier (Air Canada).

Remember ✈️ pace(r) yourself  to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ Gentlemen, start your plane engines!

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️ (if there’s one gripe, it’s that it’s about 25 minutes west of downtown, but that’s where there’s a lot of open space)

Security/immigration:  ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (clear signage and wait times posted, TSA was very efficient)

Ease of navigating through terminals:  ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (not a massive airport, but it feels very large yet easy to get from concourse to concourse, rental car facility on the lower level)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (your normal fare: Au Bon Pain, Chick Fil-a, McDonalds, Starbucks, local deli Shapiro’s)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (well dispersed, there are a lot in the ticketing area, pre-security)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ (free wifi, the civic center area has charging at almost all their lounge chairs.  This cannot be overstated.)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️ (Delta Sky lounge, barbershop and multiple Indy themed giftshops to pick up your last checkered flags and racing memorabilia)

hoosier daddy: indy day trippin’

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Indianapolis is a place you hear about constantly if you’re a sports fan.  From the Indy 500 to Larry Bird (Reggie Miller, if you’re in my age group) and Peyton Manning SB team of 2007, the “Hoosier State” capital is hallowed sports ground.  It has been the bullseye of the news cycle lately, notably for the retirement of Colts QB Andrew Luck.

I can honestly say beyond sports, I didn’t know much about this city, other than the fact that it seems like I know a million people from there.  Impossible, since it is the 17th most populous metro area in the country with about 2 million in population, but their residents certainly infiltrate everywhere else in the Midwest.  Indy is about the size of Kansas City, and similar in many ways.  There are great neighborhoods, a friendly sense of community and an unmistakable pride in their hometown.

Gentlemen (and gentle ladies), start your engines…

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day tripping coral gables

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Coral Gables is the leafy suburb of Miami that will remind you of one thing: Golden Girls. Yes, this was the likely backdrop of Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sophia’s adventures in the beloved sitcom, although their exact location is never expressly stated.

All of the houses look like the house the four women shared, ranch style and marvelous with palms and monstera and banana leaves everywhere. But, Coral Gables is more than a very affluent suburb. It is where the University of Miami Hurricanes (the U) are located and surprisingly, a lot of cultural gems. It’s also the home of del Monte and Bacardi.

traveled down the road and back again…

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traveling to a galaxy far, far away

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If you’re familiar with this blog, you may remember that I have not been to a Disney Park for 16 years.

Well I’m proud (?) to say that streak has been broken.

I was cajoled by my nephews (14 & 11) into going to D-land for the new Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge land that recently opened at the end of May.  This was a momentous occasion, and the really only thing that warranted a special visit.  I will say that not much else has changed at the happiest place on earth since I last stepped foot inside, and maybe that’s a part of its charm (especially for millennials).

may the force be with me…

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know before you go: MIA

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One of the few times the blog post title actually makes sense because chances are, during a weekend in Miami, there’s a high probability of actually going MIA.

Miami International (formerly Wilcox Airport) is one of the busiest airports in volume and is a main gateway to Latin America.  This place is always bustling.  Located about 8 miles from Downtown, it serves the entire metropolitan area of Miami/Dade County.

Like everything else in this city, the set up is a little confusing, with three terminals: North, Central and South. North houses the largest Concourse, D, which is the main home of American and takes the bulk of passengers both domestic and international.  Central Terminal has Concourses E, F, and G serving OneWorld, international carriers and domestics, respectively.  South Terminal has Concourses H and J, which serves Delta/SkyTeam and Star Alliance with a few One World carriers as well.  In total, there are 131 gates.

Remember: ✈️ = miami vice to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ =  welcome to miami

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️ (8 miles from downtown, there is a MetroRail, Amtrak, buses and buses)

Ease of navigating through terminals:  ✈️✈️✈️ (it’s a large airport, so at least there’s the MIAmover to take you between terminals and to the rental car facility.  It’s a little bit of a hike to get there though)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (Where MIA achieves success is having a lot of dining options that explore local flavors.  There’s a lot of Cuban food in this airport, like a lot, a lot.  From the famed Cafe Versailles to the modern Ku Va, if you have a hankering for some Cubano treats, you’ve got it.  There’s also the normal Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Dunkin, McD’s, KFC, Sbarro, TGIFriday’s, Taco Bell, Burger King, Nathan’s fare.)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️ (Terminal D is very well lit, clean, could have more locations)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️ (free wifi, decent amount of charging)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (hotel on the premises, yoga room, Military Hospitality, multiple American Admiral’s clubs, VIP lounge by LATAM, Delta Sky Club, Avianca/Star Alliance, and even a Consular lounge for foreign dignitaries, which is kind of cool.  MIA also fancies itself as a mall, and there are the typical brands like Michael Kors, Coach, MAC, Bijoux Terner, Sunglass Hut and Hudson.  There’s also some specialty shops that are hella random shops like RonJon, Penguin and Johnnie Walker to keep it interesting.  Great place to people watch, saw the Chainsmokers at the gate last time I was here.)