Tuesday, July 1st-Monday, July 7th: Livin’ Like a Local in NYC

WARNING: This post will not contain any pictures, talk, or discussion of the typical touristy attractions that people from all over the world travel to see in New York City. The reason why is because I have already gone to these amusements and when I came to NYC this time around I was more focused on visiting with my friends and finding the cheapest places to eat and drink at (this is a struggle for anyone on a budget in NYC). I believe that one should take advantage of going to see Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty and fantastic museums if it is their first time in the city. I personally did not need to go do the whole shebang over again. Instead, I wanted to provide a great list of things one should do if they revisit New York or they’re looking for a couple neat venues to check out.

 bridge over Hudson river NY  city scape Manhattan

CHINATOWN: I stayed with my friend Jake and his compassionate mother on the Upper East Side near York Ville. On Tuesday night we went to get Dim Sum in a shoebox cut out in the congested streets of Chinatown. We went to Nice Green Bo and split orders of dim sum and entrees. The seafood dim sum had a great flavor and it was my first time trying scallion pancakes (yum!) The prices were not too bad especially for dim sum. Right across the street is the original ice cream factory in Chinatown. If you’re not too full, you should check it out.

 fortune in Chinatown NYC

NUYORICAN POETS CAFÉ: This is the bees-knees of open mic poetry, jam sessions, and local culture. On the first Wednesday of every month, the café hosts an event called All That. A groovin’ band plays background music to whatever the performer is spittin’, singin’, or speakin’. It’s $10 for students and $13 for regular admission and definitely worth every dollar because the hosts, WiseGuy & Gaston, will not let you down!

I was lucky enough to get an open slot and after performing a spoken word original. I was even invited back up for another performance in which I sang lyrics to a song I’ve been working on. It was great hearing how the band thought the rhythm and melody should go. I loved the vibes, the mix of New Yorkers and visitors, and the support the audience had for the performers. Check out there site here to view upcoming events. (http://siteline.vendini.com/nuyorican-poets-café)

 nuyorican cafe

BREWSKEE BALL: I met my friend Miranda in Manhattan but we soon migrated to Brooklyn to grab some (cheaper priced) drinks. We waited for the Full Circle Bar to open so we could play Skee-ball with our PB & J’s (PBR with a side shot of Jameson). Miranda had the high score of 320 and although I was trying hard to beat it, my luck (or depth perception) began to decline and my highest scores became a lowly 150. Drink prices here are very reasonable ($4 for a well drink of your choice!). The only disappointing thing is the fact that the Skee-ball company is suing the bar for using their name “Skee-ball” in the promotional advertisements for Brewskee Ball, a national skee-ball league that competes around the nation. Heads up! On Tuesdays & Thursdays they serve free hot dogs and pretzels (:

full circle bar  cash register

BIKIN’ THROUGH CENTRAL PARK: If you haven’t done so already, I definitely recommend it. Not only is biking through the park fun, but also biking through the bustling streets of New York is even more eventful. If you don’t mind biking beside cars, racing to try to make it through stoplights, and you’re able to keep up with Palmer, a beastly biker who hails from Hell’s Kitchen and whips through traffic faster than Flash, then it is quite an exhilarating experience.

pond in central park

LAWRENCE BEACH: On the weekends, many New Yorkers escape the skylined oven of Manhattan and bask in the cool breeze off Long Island beaches. Jake’s family are members of a beach club at Lawrence beach and his kind mom treated Jake, Palmer, Sarah, and I to a day devoted to lounging in the sun. I swam in the chilly water even though there were clouds of seaweed swimming right beside me. After being in the most overly populated city, where throngs of people clog the grimiest concrete streets it was gratifying to recharge near the environment I missed the most in Florida. Having granules of sand between the crevices of my feet made me reminisce about the beaches I considered home. I am glad that I traded a day surrounded by gray architecture for a day surrounded by the natural blue and green.

Lawrence beach NY  lawrence beach 2

Thank yous & Shout Outs:

 me jake & allie

THANK YOU SO MUCH JAKE & Your INCREDIBLY KIND family! (: I’m glad I was able to kick it with you for a week and stay in your brother’s vacant bed. Keep cookin’, your food is dynamite, and keep writing because you have a lot of revelations to reveal with your wicked words. Your mom is the coolest and you all have a place to stay wherever I land on the West Coast! Hope your fam enjoyed the wine and I hope to see you in Florida if I get a chance to visit!

 

Palmer: It was great meeting you and NYChillin’. We are both survivors of our past circumstances and it’s due the perseverance of our fiery spirits. Keep the spark alive and blaze forth new trails and adventures. I hope you and Sarah will come out to the West Coast and when you do let me know so we can meet up! You both are welcome to crash at my place anytime.

 

Sarah: Your warm smile could melt icicles and your energy is as tranquil as a trickling waterfall. It was great meeting you and reminiscing about Big Sur, hope you make it back there some day! You should eventually convince Palmer to move out there, haha. I wish you the best and hope you continue to stay the cool grounded person you are.

 

Miranda: It was great seeing you back in the United States! Hope you have a great time working on an organic farm somewhere, let me know if you’re ever on the West Coast!

Sunday, June 29th-Monday, June 30th: I Hate Big Butts in Newport, Rhode Island

Newport, Rhode Island is a small port town that used to be an area where the wealthiest families vacationed since their huge summer mansions create a fortress around the southern coastline. I have never been to Rhode Island before and I was interested in checking out a beach town. I had no idea that it was also home to yacht docks and clubs. These gigantic boats (or butts like Nemo and his sea friends would say in Finding Nemo) crowd the seaports so trying to find a good view of the sunset is nearly impossible. This is about as close as I could get:

 sunset 2  glimpse of the sunset RI

sunset1

            I stayed in a lovely hostel called the William Gyles Guesthouse. The owner and caretaker, Merrilee, is as sweet as the creamy homemade fudge they sell at the Newport Fudgery. Her eyes lit up when she explained what attractions are around and where you can get the best seafood at a cheap price. The hostel had great accommodations and even though it was a bit pricey for a shared room, it was cheaper than any of the other hotels around.

sailboats off Newport RI

            I rented a bike the next day and went on a ride around the island with another guest from Israel, Alon. Alon is taking a gap year before he goes back to study. He is taking the opposite route of me since he started out West. It was relieving to meet another young traveler who loved adventure while having apprehensive parents (completely natural though, what parent doesn’t worry?) After hearing about his trip throughout the West, I was itching to jet pack to the Pacific.

 house & lagoon RI  boat & house & lagoon RI

            The Atlantic looked marvelous and I started to see why this location was prime for building a lavish palace (these homes were double the size of the yachts no doubt). Sailboats and big butts sprinkled the tranquil sea. After passing through the multi-million dollar mansion block, we decided to walk our bikes along the dirt path that led to the beach. Lavender hues slithered over the waves adding an extra awe of magical illusion. I was curious as to why parts of the sea were tinted violet, Alon said it was from the seaweed.

 purple waves RI  purple beach waves RI

            After doing some research, Alon was right. The purple patches are distinctly caused by the red algae that is dominating the beach. According to this article, the Newport Recreation Department has borrowed $150,000 to remove the algae so more people will come to the beach.

 yacht club Newport RI  more butts RI

            Before leaving, I shopped around the touristy stores and found reasonably priced earrings at an antique shop in one of the older buildings. Although fancy opaque butts block the captivating views of the water, the historical charm is still preserved in this ritzy beach town. I began to miss the smaller schooners that adorned the harbors of the northern Atlantic seas rather than these huge ass butts. I was ready to leave the rich relaxing scene and headed straight to the beast coast!

 big butt RI  butts on butts RI

            Thank you so much for your hospitality, Merrilee! You have a wonderful house and you do a wonderful job being an outstanding caretaker!

 

It was so good meeting you, Alon! I wish you the best of luck in all your travels and your upcoming endeavors in school. I’m so glad you had the chance to visit the United States and I will definitely climb a rock in Joshua Tree, thanks to your suggestion!!

 

bridge to Newport RI

Friday, June 27th-Saturday June 28th: Reconnecting in Connecticut

This weekend I visited a little lovely friend, Meg. Her Mom and Dad were kind enough to let me stay the weekend while Meg was off from work and we had some outdoor fun in the small town.

 river in CT

            We went rafting with one of her friends in the Farmington River. The water felt as though your body was under attack by menacing ice sickles. We all complained that our butts felt like they had been shot with a numbing tranquilizer gun, yet it was the perfect temperature to keep our beers cold. We floated down the scurrying river with the bottom half of our cans submerged in the rapids while the top half stayed clutched in our hands. It took about an hour to make the loop back down to wear we parked the cars.

river in CT 2

            For the rest of the night we chilled out with Bud Lights, watched Blackfish then Titanic. Meg was surprised when we came home to find that the surfboard she wanted that was displayed at the liquor store was in her Dad’s hands, he managed to get it for her, aw! Connecticut might be a small state, but there are many facets is has to offer. The area is lush with emerald green Elms and smooth rolling hills. It was my first time being in the center of Connecticut. Although the forests have been inviting, I was missing the Atlantic. Onwards to Rhode Island!

 meg & the surfboard

            Thank you so much Meg & the Fox family for letting me chillax in your gorgeous home. It was great having meals on your open porch and I’m so glad you took me to the river, Meg! Have fun during your Senior year at Eckerd and I hope to see you some time this Fall in Florida! (:

Tuesday, June 24th: A Waltz through Walden Pond

Today I journeyed to Concord to hike and swim at Walden Pond. Yes, surprisingly anyone can swim in the pond. There is a huge beach and a decorative bathroom cabin all for human use. It’s pretty funny to see this because as I was cooling off in the water, I thought about what Thoreau would think or say knowing what Walden Pond has become now.

 walden beach1  walden beach2

            I overheard a conversation a father was having with his young daughter, “Back when I was your age this all used to look different. The sandy shores have been created due to erosion.” I had no doubt that the father was going to teach his daughter what erosion meant. Erosion occurs in various ways but it is primarily the process of rocks getting broken down and it can happen by wind, waves, tremendous storms, and an over populated species that crowd water front areas, such as homo sapiens.

help fight erosion sign

            There’s often a debate between those who care about nature and how to prevent erosion and the free-will one should have when they are visiting wooded areas. Some like to go off the beaten path and pay no attention to the trail because they want to go on an adventure or create their own hike. This is not necessarily a bad thing, I enjoy carving out my own trail and hiking through more naturally designed trails. Yet after watching so many locals and tourists swim and play on other sandy shores located on the other side of the fenced in trail, I had to wonder if the sign up above revealed some sort of truth on how we can emphasize the intrinsic beauty of a natural area if it is completely preserved from human interaction so future generations can enjoy it. Was Thoreau trying to make a radical point such as that when he wrote Walden? Would he be in favor of taking the less mapped out path because humans should crave to immerse themselves in nature?

 Thoreau quote at cabin  Thoreau cabin site

            I found the trail that took visitors to the site where his house once stood. The story behind finding the site was quite original. Apparently, Thoreau never explained where his house was situated in his account Walden, an archeologist who happened to be a “Thoreau enthusiast” dug up a pile of stones and concluded that they were the very same stones that made up the chimney. What a cool historical fact on how this specific location for Thoreau’s dwellings was even rediscovered!

 walden pond & swimmers  gorgeous walden

            I finished the looped Pond Trail that goes alongside the expansive property. The serene Walden waters resemble more of a lake instead of a pond. Breathing the pine air through the narrow pristine path was the highlight of my day. Concord is a beautiful place if you’re looking to escape the heat from the city and walk around a forested area that had so much impact on the preservationist movement, environmentalism, and what it means to be a transcendentalist.

forested walden pond

This post is dedicated to Thoreau for his efforts in taking his literary talents to protect an area in order to teach others to conserve certain spaces so humans can actively enjoy a natural haven.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

-Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Monday, June 23rd-Thursday, June 26th: Keeping Up with Bostonians

This week I headed to the city where the first things within our society started (the first market, colony, you name it, it was more than likely launched in Boston). That’s what is wonderful about the city of Boston, it is rich in history and the foundation of the most prestigious colleges. After dealing with the awful parking meters in Cambridge (beware: the meters in Boston only take quarters!) I met up with my friend Lauren at the restaurant her Dad manages called Asgard Irish Pub off Massachusetts Avenue. After our meal, we walked across the bridge over the Charles. There was rush hour traffic on the bridge and it was not just in the street lanes. Joggers swarmed the bridge giving annoyed side-glances to those who thought walking was a better option. We observed the neat fabric art that was woven in between the linked fence.

 city of Boston w: runner  New Craft Art on bridge

            On Wednesday, I headed into Cambridge with my friend Alison, only this time, we took the T. The T is the best way to get around Boston because it is the city’s subway. I finally got to see where Better Future Project was headquartered which is in the Democracy Center near Harvard Square. It was the perfect place to do work and the building is used to host several different nonprofits and provide a community space (before that it was a frat house!)

charles & Boston  traffic on the charles

            After work, I met up with one of my adventurous friend’s, Eliot, who had been working on a ship and sailing throughout the Atlantic with a cruising sailboat company called Liberty Fleets. We caught up over beers and breakfast at The Friendly Toast (http://thefriendlytoast.com/menu/). A young trendy restaurant that serves breakfast all day and they make their own toast! (The bartender recommended ordering the cayenne-cheddar bread, spicy and savory!)

Found on Tripadvisor.com

Found on Tripadvisor.comcountertops of friendtoastjpg

 

Later that night we went to Smoken Joes in Brighton, a neighborhood slightly outside the Boston area. The great thing about this place is that they feature a stellar blues open mic night free of charge! The vibes are local and organic, it was the first time I met many true Bostonians. We listened to wicked bands that ranged in a variety of emotions. One guy sang the blues about how his girl talked too much while this guy below bellowed, “Let the good times roll!” If you’re looking for a rockin’ good night, this is the place to go.

smoken joes!  band at smoken joes

 

Thursday morning I was able to go on one of the vessels Liberty Fleets sails around the Boston Harbor during the summer. It was a fun 1.5 hour tour on an old yet fully functional classic schooner. I captured many great shots of the harbor, the mast, and this dark picture of myself sippin’ a Dark and Stormy since the weather was fitting for the concoction (Dark and Stormy = Captain Morgan + ginger beer + ARG!). The harbor was tinged with gray while pale hues of light pierced through the pockets of the sky. The Atlantic lay calm as the wind carried our Tall ship around the treasured landmark. Snag a tour with this awesome company here (http://www.libertyfleet.com/boston-harbor-cruises/boston-schooner-sailing)

 tower at boston harb  boston harbor under mast.jpeg

dark&stormy selfie

            Before I left the Boston scene, I met up with Lauren to have a drink and watch the world cup. Upon following the Freedom Trail back to the T, we walked past the first public school built by the Puritans. Lauren pointed out how important establishing free public education was to the Puritans because they didn’t just want people to believe and follow the religion without being able to understand why or what the scriptures even said. I think this is very unique to the educational history and the esteemed learning culture Boston embodies.

 Freedom trail stone  first public school pic Boston

            Thank you so much Lauren and family for hosting me, providing me with wonderful meals, and showing me that everyone from Boston should not be stereotyped as rude (: Good luck with your summer class and hope to see you in Florida some time next year when I visit!

Lauren & I in Boston

            Thanks again Allison, Varshini, Alex, and Ben for letting me stay at your Somerville palace!! It was good to be around organizers and change makers, keep doing the awesome work you all do, yeah!

 

It was great to catch up with you Eliot and so glad to see you’re doing what you enjoy for a living as of now. Thanks for the ticket on the fleet and the free drink. Can’t wait to see where your next adventures take you this winter!

tower at boston harb  sail mast

Sunday, June 22nd: The Famous Maine Lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth

Shaun and I took a trip to Cape Elizabeth to check out the most photographed lighthouse in all of Maine! Check out the spectacular photos. I feel as though I’ve captured everything Maine represents: craggy rock shores, the sapphire reflecting sea, looming lighthouses, and sailboats sailing in the mists of the Atlantic. Enjoy!

lighthouse1  lighthouse2

 

lighthouse3

 

Shaun climbing the rocks!

Shaun climbing the rocks!

 

cape elizabeth  cape elizabeth2

shaun&i&lighthouse

Saturday, June 21: Portland PRIDE!

Today, I drove down to Portland to meet up with a new friend, Shaun, who participated in Climate Summer last year. He invited me to come down on Saturday because the Pride Parade and celebration was going on in the city! I thought it would be fun to check out Pride in Portland and to see what a city in Maine was like.

pride3   pride parade2

pridetents   pride float

            Portland’s Pride was not extremely outrageous but it was still very community centered and there were many people getting into it! We pranced through the marching bodies while waving at the people on the streets and saying hi to various friends of Shaun’s who were working in the parade. Later on we ventured into the city and found a community piano! Shaun, being a master pianist, serenaded a small crowd of visitors, transcending us above the bright blue sky onto a pillow of fluffy white clouds.

 pride horse   styxx pride float

            Shaun took me on a thorough tour throughout the city and we spent most of our Saturday walking alongside Baxter Blvd that overlooks the Back Cove and then we made it to the Eastern Promenade that overlooks the Atlantic. The city itself looked like a lovely port town and we ended up stopping into an opening for an art gallery with live string music and free food and wine, score!

 shaun playing piano   portland sails!

            Later that night, we went to a Pride Party at a popular LGBT friendly bar called Flask. The party was called Sub/Merged and its slogan was, “A Queer Dance Party for All!” It was a very lively celebration and I was introduced to so many others that Shaun knew who were excited that it was my first time visiting Portland. Not only do people have LGBT pride, but overall they have pride for the largest city in Maine and also they take pride in coming from a progressive and beautiful state.

submerged flyer   laughing at flask

            Thank you so much for inviting me to Portland’s Pride with you, Shaun! It was fun jamming in your living room and meeting you at Camp Wilmot. If you end up moving out on the West Coast, please let me know because we could be potential roommates! Good luck in your last year of school and keep me posted about your life and work. I feel as though you are my long lost twin, can’t wait to hang out again!

shaun&i