Archive for August, 2009
How in the world am I going to visit 11 cities in 23 days on a budget of just $400? I’ll be depending on the kindness of friends!
A place to rest my head: I’ll be sleeping in the homes of friends in each of the 11 cities. I am hugely opposed to imposing on people, so how did I pull this off without terribly offending my sensibilities regard etiquette? First of all, a bunch of my online friends volunteered to host me without being asked, so that was super nice. A few of them have even offered to let me do a little laundry too. Isn’t that awesome? Anyway, we’ve been chatting about visiting each other for YEARS – saying whoever won the lottery would try to go see everyone. So this JetBlue pass is my winning lottery ticket. Besides, they all know I would/will return the favor in an instant. As for the four in-real-life friends I’ll be staying with, I asked in such a way that they could say no without feeling the slightest bit guilty. Besides, I swap visits with three of those friends on a regular basis, so these visits aren’t particularly unusual.
Transportation: My biggest break is that I only have to worry about transportation to/from the airports in a few cases since my friends have kindly offered to schlep me around in most places. Do I have awesome friends or what?
Food, glorious food: I can definitely eat cheaply when I’m out and about – good thing I love McDonalds! And pizza. lol I’ll also be carrying cereal and granola bars around for whem I’m out of funds for the day or I know I need to save that day’s funds for the evening or transportation. That said, I totally wouldn’t turn down offers of free meals from restaurants who’d like a review… *HINT HINT*
To my hosting friends, THANK YOU IN ADVANCE FOR MAKING THIS SO MUCH AWESOME!!! I can’t wait to see you.
It’s time for the unveiling of my itinerary for my JetBlue All You Can Jet tour! Since my budget is $400 and I’ve been doing a fair amount of traveling lately, I figured 11 cities in 23 days would be plenty.
Here’s where I’ll be and when, including my flight info in case any of the other AYCJ folks are going to be on my flights – I’d love to swap stories at the airports! This should also be a good reference for my amazing hosts.
9-16 – RDU->JFK->DC(IAD) (1100 6a-7:30a / 1305 9:15a-10:33a)
9-17 – DC
9-18 – DC(IAD)->BOS->DEN (1250 7a-8:32a / 493 9:05a-11:36a)\
9-19 – Denver
9-20 – Denver
9-21 – DEN->JFK (98 12:59a-6:31a)
9-22 – Hartford, CT
9-23 – JFK->HOU (625 11a-1:53p)
9-24 – Houston
9-25 – HOU->JFK->ORD (620 7:35a-12:04p / 915 1:45p-3:25p)
9-26 – Chicago
9-27 – ORD->BOS (922 10:10a-1:23p)
9-28 – BOS->JFK->SEA (1007 9:50a-11:01a / 175 11:59a-2:59p)
9-29 – Seattle
9-30 – SEA->LGB (295 3:55p-6:27p)
10-1 – Los Angeles
10-2 – BUR->LAS (270 5:25p-6:33p)
10-3 – Las Vegas
10-4 – LAS->LGB->SLC (711 6:10p-7:19p / 234 7:50p-10:32p)
10-5 – Salt Lake City
10-6 – SLC->JFK->PWM (92 12a-6:16a / 600 9:40a-10:55a)
10-7 – Bangor, ME
10-8 – PWM->JFK->RDU (915 11:40a-12:52p / 1107 4:15p-6:22p)
Virgin Galactic plans to provide sub-orbital spaceflights to the paying public, and it looks like this may become a reality in the very near future. The plan is that the first commercial spaceport will open in New Mexico just next year! “[F]or $200,000, … people [will fly] 60 to 100 miles over the Earth’s surface to experience around 20 minutes of weightlessness. Most planes fly about seven miles above the Earth. Sixty miles is high enough to see the curvature of the Earth. Flights are expected to start leaving the atmosphere next year.” (-Broomfield)
Further in the future Virgin Galactic plans to offer orbital spaceflights as well. Maybe someday there really will be flights to the moon.
One thing I’ve discovered about traveling by looking back at my old photos is that I much prefer my pictures when I’ve taken the time to pack cute outfits. It’s completely possible to look good and still be comfortable. Here are some pics from our last Europe trip to show cute but comfortable outfits.
I actually wore this dress on the flight over – and then most of the day once we got there. Obviously it was super comfortable. I could kick off those flip flops, tuck my toes under my legs, and be as warm as if I had a light blanket. Sunglasses are a must, and I like having a simple headband to keep my hair from blowing into my face for pictures.
Layered solids are always a good bet. Bright colors show up really well against all kinds of backdrops, and softer colors look romantic. For packing light, it’s also really handy to be able to re-use the top layer on multiple days of your trip.
If you’re going somewhere that will provide a particularly spectacular backdrop for some nice pics (and, of course, assuming you WANT nice pics), take a special outfit. I love this red dress because it’s soft cotton, so it’s really comfortable. And it has pockets! The belt makes it look a little more pulled together. And those black flats? Sketchers – perfect for walking.
TTT: Travel Tip Tuesday
Sunday, March 22, 2009
I Bambini Italian Restaurant
2785 Charlotte Hwy # 2785
Mooresville, North Carolina
On our way home on Sunday after the scrapbooking event, we passed through Mooresville to visit with a friend who lives there. Funnily enough, another friend of ours from the Triangle was also visiting our Mooresville friend that day.
Our Mooresville friend had intended to try I Bambini for a while, so that’s what we did. One friend got the Sunday champagne brunch buffet for $11.95 after being tempted by the lobster tails. He was disappointed to figure out that the lobster tails contained only a smidge of lobster meat and mostly other stuff. He said the rest of the buffet was fine, though he probably wouldn’t choose it again because of the price. I had the gnocchi with alfredo sauce. The sauce was decent, but the gnocchi was bad – very gummy. I prefer it to be fluffy/al dente. The local and my girl friend liked their dishes though, so it just depends on what you order whether or not you’ll enjoy your food.
Mooresville is an interesting town – it’s known as Race City, USA. Race City, USA. It is home to more than 60 NASCAR teams and racing related businesses. It also has two important racing museums – Memory Lane Motorsports and Historical Automotive Museum and the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame. Additionally, there’s the NASCAR Technical Institute and a NASCAR pit crew training school.
I’m torn about how to pack for this JetBlue Tour I’m going to be taking soon. Obviously I want to travel light – who wants to schlep a big suitcase around for 23 days? Certainly not me! Here’s what I’m pakcing:
- Camera – This is a DSLR and pricey (to me anyway), so I want to make sure it’s protected. I presently have three carrying options for it – (1) a backpack with a special compartment for the camera, extra lens, and accessories; (2) a shoulder tote (looks like a regular ladies’ tote); and (3) a standard camera case with a shoulder strap.
- Laptop – Yes, I could probably skip this since I have an iPhone to entertain me in airports and could upload photos from my friends’ computers, but… I can foresee wanting access to Photoshop just about every day. And I imagine I might like to spend some time hanging out at cafes to blog instead of using my friends’ computers and possibly ending up stuck at their homes all day instead of being out and about. For packing it, I have (1) a protective sleeve (so I could put it in there and then stick it in a carry-on sized rolling bag), (2) a laptop backpack, and (3) a rolling briefcase.
- Clothes – I’m thinking I’m going to have to just pack a few things and re-wear/do laundry. I should be able to get by with one pair of jeans, a pair of black pants, 4 tops, a travel tolerant blazer than can go with jeans or black pants, a dress, a bikini, and a dress that can be a swimsuit coverup or worn out to dinner/around town. I’m thinking I’ll want the dressy option of black pants + blazer just in case Amazon decides they want to interview me while I’m in Seattle or something like that.
- Toiletries – I think I can get away with packing pretty light on this since I’ll be staying with folks who hopefully won’t mind if I bum some body wash from them.
Here are my best packing options:
- Camera bookbag + rolling bag (with laptop and clothes).
- Camera bookbag + rolling briefcase (with laptop and clothes). This briefcase is higher quality than our rolling bags and looks great, but it’s a little wide and can be annoying to roll down airplane aisles.
- Camera case + laptop bookbag. This would be great for mobility – I could strap the case to the bag and be completely hands free. But getting in even the clothing listed above may be tough.
- Camera tote + laptop bookbag. The tote looks sooo much better than the case and can double as a purse. It would also look nice in the event that I ended up interviewing while on the road. That said, I’m not sure I want to commit to carrying that tote on my shoulder every day. I have back issues, and this might be what pushes me over the edge.
What do you think?
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Cabarrus Arena and Convention Center
4751 US Highway 49 North
Concord, NC 28025
As I mentioned in the Davidson County post, I attended a scrapbooking event at the Cabarrus Arena and Convention Center with some friends, including Creative Memories Consultant Elizabeth Goodson. It was *W*I*L*D*!!! There were about 100 consultants and about 800 clients/scrappers. Yeah, that’s right – that’s almost 1,000 all in one space working on scrapbooks!
Friday, March 20, 2009
Mi Casa Restaurante Mexicano
278 N. Talbert Blvd
Lexington, North Carolina
My friend, Matti, and I passed through Davidson County in March on our way to a scrapbooking event in Concord. We felt like Mexican food with some good Mexican beer would be just the ticket on a Friday night to get us ready for the weekend, and we stumbled upon Mi Casa.
We were delighted with Dos Equis on draft – yum. Matti’s taco salad was good, and I loved my pollo fundido. It wasn’t quite as good as the pollo fundido from Monterrey’s in Chapel Hill (and elsewhere), but I would definitely stop in for it again since not everywhere even does pollo fundido. The service was good, and we even met one of the owners when checking out, a really nice fellow. The customers all seemed like good family people – you know, the kind you’d trust with your own kid.
I wouldn’t be surprised if I found time to visit Davidson County again – parts of it are in the Yadkin Valley wine region, and I’d love to check out Childress Vineyards, Weathervane Winery, and Junius Lindsay Vineyard. I’m sure my husband would like to attend the Lexington Barbecue Festival, “held in the city of Lexington during the month of October, bringing in over 100,000 visitors from all over the southeastern U.S.” (-Wiki)
Have you been to Davidson County? What are your favorite things to do there?
If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably fairly well “plugged in.” You probably use the Internet to keep in touch with people everyday – from blogging and tweeting to posting pics on Facebook. There’s a bit of a risk in allowing the general public to know what you’re up to, especially if you affiliate your real name with your blog/Twitter/public Facebook page - some crazy person might become obsessed with you and start hanging out at your local Starbucks to catch a glimpse of you or figure out where you live and drive by. An even bigger risk is letting people know when you’ll be away from home for more than 8 hours. If there are thieves in your area who’ve been able to put together your online persona with your real life, they might figure out you’re gone and decide that your vacation is the perfect time to break into your home and steal all your valuables (and possibly let your cats out!).
What to do? Well, I’m afraid that a long break in blogging/tweeting would be almost as obvious as flat out posting that I’m gone. For my blog, I schedule several posts in advance of my trips, so no one is the wiser as to whether I’m posting about North Carolina restaurants while in Germany or sitting in front of my tv. Heck, I could be in Russia as you are reading this! (Don’t try to come break in my house – I’m still here whether you think I am or not. I also plan to tweet a few times while I’m gone – things that seem as though I’m still home. For example, when we went to Europe in May, I took a picture of my roses right before we left, and I tweeted that while enjoying a beer in Prague. While in Germany, I posted a picture of a guy in a very odd pair of jeans, but you couldn’t tell where we were. I do keep my Facebook page private, so I will post status updates and pictures there while we’re gone, because people I actually know won’t be breaking into my house. They know better than to think we have anything they want. lol
I hope these tips have been useful and that those of you who are active bloggers/tweeters will take my recommendations to heart. I want your pets and valuables to be safe and you to actually enjoy coming home.
TTT: Travel Trip Tuesday
Last week, Jet Blue announced an All You Can Jet Pass for $599. The deal is that the pass allows you to, with certain restrictions, fly all you can stand on their planes between September 8 and October 8. Sounds pretty cool, eh? Well, there are some catches to it.
- All flights must be booked at least 3 days in advance.
- The passholder must show up for each booked flight, or all other booked flights will be cancelled and no new flights may be scheduled until a $100 no-show fee is paid.
- Only one flight per city per day may be booked.
- Flights can be cancelled/changed for free, but this has to happen at least 3 days in advance of the flight or you’ll pay the regular change fees.
- You can fly to JetBlue’s international destinations and Puerto Rico, but you’ll have to pay the taxes and fees.
So… it’s really only a good deal if you’re able to fly a fair amount within the time period, definitely won’t miss your flights, and plan to stay in the US. As it turns out, it seems as though I have the time to really utilize this deal, so I booked it on Saturday.
My current plan involves visiting 11 cities in 23 days. Since I’m unemployed, I have a strict budget of $400 and will be relying on my friends in these cities to schlep me around and feed me (to a certain extent) as well as to allow me to crash at their places. Fortunately they all have internet access, so I can keep in touch with my friends and family, continue the job search, and blog about my adventures. I am really glad for the option to change your flights with 3 days notice – that will allow me to scoot back to North Carolina if some lucky employer wants to interview me.
My current itinerary includes: Washington, DC; Denver, CO; New York, NY; Houston, TX; Chicago, IL; Boston, MA; Seattle, WA; Long Beach, CA; Las Vegas, NV; Salt Lake City, UT; and Portland, ME. This will start in mid-September, so be sure to check back then for updates.
Image from Baltimore Sun.