Happy International Peace Day

Love. You’ll find references to it everywhere you look: on walls, with family, inside a fortune cookie, and in latte art.

Love is the antidote to fear. I’m sending a generous dose of feel-good your way to amp up the peace quotient across the world. I hope you’ll pass it on…

Street art, El Paso, Texas, October 2012

Street art, El Paso, Texas, October 2012

Shadows: me and my little sis, San Francisco, February 2013

Shadows: me and my little sis, San Francisco, February 2013

Street art in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, April 2012

Street art in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, April 2012

Close up of the above street art

Close up of the above street art

Strawberry Fields in Central Park, Manhattan, NY, July 2012

Strawberry Fields in Central Park, Manhattan, NY, July 2012

Coffee at Brooklyn Roasting Company, DUMBO, Brooklyn, October 2012

Coffee at Brooklyn Roasting Company, DUMBO, Brooklyn, October 2012

Pasted poster, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 2012

Pasted poster, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 2012

Downtown Los Angeles, July 2014

Downtown Los Angeles, July 2014

Staten Island September 11 Memorial with view of Lower Manhattan, Staten Island, NY, August 2012

Staten Island September 11 Memorial with view of Lower Manhattan, Staten Island, NY, August 2012

Chocolate = love, Red Hook, Brooklyn, May 2012

Chocolate = love, Red Hook, Brooklyn, May 2012

Love locks on Brooklyn Bridge, January 2012

Love locks on Brooklyn Bridge, January 2012

Near the Red Square, Moscow, July 2014

Near the Red Square, Moscow, July 2014

Fortune cookies at Jade Island, Staten Island, NY, August 2012

Fortune cookies at Jade Island, Staten Island, NY, August 2012

Street art, Bushwick, Brooklyn, July 2012

Street art, Bushwick, Brooklyn, July 2012

A kiss from my husband, Sedona, Arizona, November 2012

A kiss from my husband, Sedona, Arizona, November 2012

Roses, From NY to CA, USA

“Stop and smell the roses,” they say. Well, you know what? I did, I do, and will continue to bow down and inhale their sweet, delicate fragrance because it is one of the simplest, most beautiful pleasures in life.

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

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April 2012, Soho, New York

June 2013, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles

June 2013, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles

August 2012, Union Square, New York

August 2012, Union Square, New York

October 2012, DUMBO, Brooklyn

October 2012, DUMBO, Brooklyn

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012, Red Hook, Brooklyn

May 2012, Red Hook, Brooklyn

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July 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (Birthday Flowers)

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

April 2013, Santa Monica, Los Angeles

April 2013, Santa Monica, Los Angeles

July 2014, Brentwood, Los Angeles (Birthday flowers from Steph, Andrew, and Ben!)

July 2014, Brentwood, Los Angeles (Birthday flowers from Steph, Andrew, and Ben!)

March 2012, Laguna Beach, Laguna

March 2012, Laguna Beach, Laguna

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

March 2012, Carlsbad, S. California

March 2012, Carlsbad, S. California

May 2014, Huntington gardens, Pasadena, S. California

May 2014, Huntington Gardens, Pasadena, S. California

May 2012, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn

May 2012, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn

September 2014 in Brentwood, Los Angeles

September 2014, Brentwood, Los Angeles

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

May 2012, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Happy Birthday to a Legend ~ Ms Hepburn

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Happy Birthday to a Legend ~ Ms Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn, who was born on this date in 1929, won her best actress Oscar for the enchanting 1953’s “Roman Holiday,” starring opposite Gregory Peck. And here’s a photo from the film courtesy of AMC. (via Los Angeles Times)

My San Antonio Top 5, Texas ~ Road Trip Series, Part 5

A few months ago, I passed through San Antonio in Texas. The bad news is that because we were on a cross country road trip, we’d only managed to stay overnight, and half of the next day. The good news is that this made it easy for me to scribe my top 5. This list is adapted from the etchings of my memory. Enjoy!

# 5  The San Antonio Museum of Art: I love to visit museums, and especially appreciate those with manageable, and varied, collections of antiquities, paintings, and sculpture.

Wreath of laurel leaves and berries - Greek, 4th -1st Century BC

Wreath of laurel leaves and berries – Greek, 4th -1st Century BC

Torso of a Woman, and Marcus Aurelius - Roman AD 140-150

Torso of a Woman, and Marcus Aurelius – Roman AD 140-150

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"Double Scramble" (1968 by American, Frank Stella

“Double Scramble” (1968 by American, Frank Stella

# 4 Stopping by The Alamo: it’s the site of heroism and freedom encapsulated.

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DSC_0979PS# 3 Lunching is always a highlight. Luckily in Texas they eat big… This spot is located along the city’s famed Riverwalk.

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Guacamole

Guacamole

DSC_0962PSDSC_0970PSDSC_0963PSDSC_0955PS# 2 Sleeping like a baby in the haunted Emily Morgan hotel.

*Legend has it that Emily Morgan is the Yellow Rose of Texas. She was a Texan spy that helped distract the Mexican president as Texians staged an attack and paved the way towards independence.

DSC_0932PSDSC_0931PSDSC_0933PSDSC_0925PS# 1 Being greeted to the warmest day since we left New York City in October, 2012. Wide quiet streets, palms, flowers, and the warm sun couldn’t have been more of a contrast to the weather we had left behind in the Big Apple. It felt good.

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Prelude to the US Road Trip ~ The Move

Sometimes being prepared is not preparation enough.

Exhausted.

It just so happens that our long distance move took place today, the day before we’re to set off on a grand cross country road trip. We did actually schedule it this way, but a little bit of extra pre planning wouldn’t have gone astray. Read: packing a couple of days earlier so we could have anticipated that another pod was required in addition to the 2 we had ordered weeks ago.

Thinking we have less stuff than we actually do is calling for a reality check. Perhaps I just live under the illusion that I abide by the motto – less is more.

My husband, who celebrated his birthday taping boxes, hardly slept a wink last night, and proclaimed today, at 6am, that we’d need an extra pod to fit all of our possessions. He had calculated this by measuring various bits of furniture and visualizing how the boxes would need to be stacked, in a Tetris like order. He’d concluded that another 5 x 7 x 8 ft container was essential so as to leave no piece of furniture behind.

Oh, the early morning stress.

Choosing portable storage – versus a moving company, or self-driving a truck – was my idea. We’d experienced the delayed arrival, damaged furniture, and overcharges of a van line company years ago. We’d driven a truck across the country, filled to the brim with our possessions, and understand how tackling such a lengthy trip in a span of 3 days can leave you unbelievably tired… especially the driver, who has to maneuver his body in exaggerated ways at the wheel of a heavy truck, navigating it down steep hills hills, and around sharp corners.

I will never forget the vibration of what sounded like faulty breaks as we drove downhill from Mt Rushmore. My face was as stony as those of the Presidents carved into the rock face; my knuckles were white from their fearful clench.

Moving with pods was something I’d never considered until this time around. I wanted to experience the beauty of the southernmost cities in the US on this trip sans the extra baggage, and I wanted to test out a 3rd method of moving/relocation in hopes of smooth sailing.

Luckily, ordering a 3rd pod this morning wasn’t a problem but it did highlight the importance of planning ahead of time, keeping a well calculated track of inventory, and budgeting accordingly. Math and volume equations do come in handy, after all!

The best thing about this experience was noticing my husband destress immediately as we heard the truck pull away from out apartment building, 3 ‘full’ pods in tow.

Crisis averted – not a bad start to the moving process. But let this be a lesson to all: have your husband do the bulk of the packing early! Just not on his birthday.

A New York Love Story

Written in the Spring of 2012

Cherry Blossoms in Central Park

Looking down upon 79th Street Transverse from Central Park, the ubiquitous yellow cabs passing underway feel as natural as the cherry blossoms that surround me. Juxtaposed against an oasis of calm, Fifth Avenue bustles at the Park’s perimeter with a constant stream of boot-to-pavement. To my left, a scene just as frenetic is playing out in the Met Museum; stoic, its interior is overrun by tourists trying to navigate its expanse.

This is New York – a city of dichotomies. Home to millions of people, and a holiday destination for millions more, it is the most bustling metropolis in the United States. New York City is where I, an expat based in a city charged with an unstoppable energy, found my peace.

Park Avenue, New York

I had been caught in New York’s embrace from the onset. Whisked into its whirlwind, the city subsequently unraveled a series of monumental moments along the way. Meeting him was the most definitive – it sparked a new beginning.

I’d fallen in love with him with the same ease I’d fallen for New York. Just as I’d experienced the spark of the city whilst standing in Times Square as a twenty-something year old thinking, this feels so right; years later I felt a similar sentiment as we dined together at my favourite restaurant on Park Avenue.

Ever since that first date, we’ve been walking the same path.

Now, standing in Central Park, newly married, I realise that my love for New York has taken on a deeper meaning. This is a city that can so easily seduce, enthrall, and enchant. But it’s when you stay a while that you really feel the beat of its strong, passionate, and loving heart.

The Proposal ~ From New York to Los Angeles

Half the fun of the travel is the esthetic of lostness.  ~Ray Bradbury

Foothills of El Paso’s (TX) Franklin Mountains via spysgrandson (all rights reserved)

Thank you so much readers, for the suggestions of where to visit as part of a cross country road trip from NYC to LA. In my last post, many seasoned travelers highly recommended Utah as a place to see. As much as I’d love to stop here, I know spending 1-2 days wouldn’t do the state justice; it’s worthy of a lengthy trip in the near future.

So…

Moonrise over Washington DC via pentaxforums.com

I am in unison with Bradbury in the sentiment that there’s beauty in venturing, uninhibited, into the unknown. But just as his words read, that’s half the fun. The other half, in my opinion, is influenced by the trip’s framework; there’s comfort in setting (loose) parameters. Wandering about aimlessly under time restrictions – a little over a week across 3,500 miles – promises a whole other set of challenges.

THE (loose) PARAMETERS

Keeping in mind that visiting New Orleans is a must, I’ve drafted an itinerary that traces a southerly route of the US. The list includes cities that I have never been to before (the Washington DC and Sedona drive-thrus don’t count). If you can advise, I’d love your thoughts on what to see/do, and where to eat/play.

Cafe du Monde, New Orleans ~ via myneworleans.com

I’ve done some preliminary research but am also looking for the not-so-seen, and hungry for local knowledge. I want to know what lies under the skin of place; I want to take in the smells of fresh produce markets, bite into a deep fried beignet, feast my eyes on centuries old architecture and innovative design, be immersed in nature’s stillness. Most importantly, I want to see how people live.

While I’ll certainly be documenting the details, a head start never hurts.

PROPOSED ITINERARY: NEW YORK TO LOS ANGELES

Brooklyn, New York > Washington, DC > Charleston, South Carolina > Savannah, Georgia (brief stop) > Tallahassee, Florida > New Orleans, Louisiana > San Antonio, Texas > El Paso, Texas > Sedona, Arizona (2 days) > Los Angeles, California

*Thinking of adding in Raleigh, NC between DC and Charleston as a stop. Not only will it give us more time, but I am reading wonderful things about this city.

Sedona, Arizona via prx.org

ADVICE NEEDED ON MUST SEES

Readers:

What are your favourite DC monuments? Can you recommend a noteworthy restaurant or bar in this great city?

Any recommendations re: where to feast on good Creole cuisine while in New Orleans? What about jazz clubs?

What are the Charleston essentials – sights, shops, cafes, neighbourhoods?

Know of a part of Savannah where one can linger for a couple of hours?

What do you love about Sedona?

What’s hot in Raleigh? The City of Oaks has me intrigued.

What about El Paso and Tallahassee; have you been to these cities? I’ve read that Tallahassee has an abundance of seafood – know of an oyster shack?

Look forward to tips, thoughts, and suggestions on anything, or all, of the above.

~Thank you!

Avenue of Oaks in Charleston, South Carolina via davidallenphotography.com