Pulpology: Mark & Sonia's Intercontinental Absurdities!

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Re: Wanderfood Wednesday: Epicurean despot (by mark at 5/09 2:16 PM)
Re: Photo Friday: the kids are all right (by sonia at 1/03 11:20 AM)
Re: Photo Friday: the kids are all right (by krakestraw at 12/21 2:30 PM)
Re: Africa Always Wins (by lacyemartini at 11/05 3:01 PM)
Re: Africa Always Wins (by mark at 11/05 12:01 PM)
Re: WanderFood Wednesday: foxy overindulgence in Middleburg (by sonia at 7/18 11:27 AM)
Re: WanderFood Wednesday: foxy overindulgence in Middleburg (by cbheller at 7/18 11:23 AM)
Re: Top of the Loaf, Ma! (by sonia at 5/11 8:30 AM)
Re: Top of the Loaf, Ma! (by mark at 5/10 11:40 AM)
Re: Sugarloaf smooches (by wanderinglaura at 4/25 11:24 AM)
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29 July 2011
Photo Friday: aye-aye, cap'n!

Oktapodi seems to be in a cruising state of mind lately, so here are a few boat-related images to take us into the weekend...

Lago de Atitlán, Guatemala
Lago de Atitlán, Guatemala

Grand Canal, Venice
Grand Canal, Venice

Loy Krathong, Thailand
Loy Krathong, Thailand

Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Río Dulce, Guatemala

Oranjestand, Aruba
Oranjestad, Aruba

For more fabulous travel snaps, check out Delicious Baby's Photo Friday blog carnival.

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Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 1 comment

20 July 2011
Three unexpected Finger Lakes finds
recommendations for a spare afternoon in NY

I was prepared for the worst.

Upstate New York hadn't been on our short list of weekend getaways, but we sucked it up, Did The Needful, and drove up to Wayland, NY, for a family wedding in June. Honestly, we went under protest. So it was an extra-pleasant surprise to spend a few delightful hours on Sunday afternoon, soaking in the fresh lake air and listening to the grapes grow. I might actually consider going back sometime soon!

overlooking Keuka Lake
overlooking Keuka Lake

If you happen to find yourself with a spare afternoon in the Finger Lakes region, here are a few recommendations:

1) Stay
Cohocton Valley InnBecause of its proximity to the wedding festivities, we wound up staying at the kooky Cohocton Valley Inn. Somewhat reminiscent of the Bates Motel, this family-run B&B is in a great location right off I-390/Route 15 . Kim, its friendly if somewhat xenophobic proprietor knows all the goings-on in the region and can recommend four regional festivals at the drop of a hat. (Just don't get her started on all the "foreigners" overtaking nearby Niagara Falls!) Our room was clean and comfy, albeit somewhat antiquated. The old-school plumbing fixtures and fussy bedspreads reminded me of a visit with a favorite maiden aunt. For around $60 a night per double, including free wifi and excellent coffee, we would definitely stay there again on a Finger Lakes redux.

2) Eat
San Carlos Mexican RestaurantWe decided to spend our free afternoon doing some winery-hopping. En route to the wine trail, we made a random stop at a Mexican restaurant along Highway 54 in Bath. San Carlos prides itself on locally-sourced ingredients, and the slogan on the servers' tshirts proclaims "Cocinamos con pasion!" They have excellent housemade salsa and even better guac, the kind where you just can't stop munching even though you know you should save your appetite for the main dish. It turned out to be a great place to chase away the wedding hangover and prepare for an afternoon of more drinking!

Bully Hill Vineyards

3) Drink (and chillllllllax...)
We had one false start at Pleasant Valley Wine Company, which just happened to be the closest winery to where we started. The wines were sickly sweet enough to cause cavities and the weird little museum next to the tasting was fusty-dusty. After this less-than-auspicious beginning we headed to the next winery, which had been recommended by our server at San Carlos. A subsequent road closure and scenic detour later, we finally ended up at our destination, which was worth the work: Bully Hill Vineyards, where the staff are cheeky and the wines are actually worth drinking. Even the corks are sassy, emblazoned with slogans like "Wine with laughter" and "Wine with honesty." A festive gent named Woody poured our wines, cracking goofy jokes the whole time, clearly having a blast and loving his job. We splurged on the a la carte tasting menu, where you can have your choice of wines at a buck a taste, rather than go with the standard $5 tasting lineup. I highly recommend this, as you get to taste some of their premium wines like the St Croix red. (Yum!) Afterwards, we ended up at the winery restaurant, with a fantastic view overlooking Keuka Lake. Baked brie + a glass of tart green apple Verdelet = a sublime way to end a surprisingly excellent day.

After this lovely afternoon, I realized I hadn't given the Finger Lakes region its due. According to our Finger Lakes Wineries map, there's not only a wine trail but a cheese trail as well! And supposedly a new Finger Lakes Wine Map app is coming soon. We'll definitely need to go back for a full weekend of fun.

By the way, I'm trying something new, and sharing this photo album via Google+. Haven't joined the plus-party yet? Drop me a line and I'll send you an invite.

Cohocton Valley Inn
33 Maple Ave
Cohocton, NY 14826

San Carlos Mexican Restaurant
7500 New York 54
Bath, NY 14810-9526

Bully Hill Vineyards
8843 Greyton H. Taylor Mem Dr
Hammondsport, NY 14840

* view
all photos from this excursion
Finger Lakes Wine Trail
San Carlos Mexican Restaurant Facebook page
* Bully Hill Vineyards site and Facebook page
* WanderFood Wednesday: Finger Lakes Finger Food

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Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments

15 July 2011
Photo Friday: welcome (back) to the jungle!

Sungai Kinabatangan at sunrise
Sungai Kinabatangan at sunrise

Today's secret word, boys and girls, is "Kinabatangan!" Use it three times in a sentence. Roll it around on your tongue a bit. Trust me, it's fun.

If I seem even punchier than usual, it's because this beastly heat & humidity may have fried my brain just a tad. It's been pretty junglicious around Our Nation's Capital this week. Accordingly, today's Photo Friday is an homage to Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, where we stayed at a small lodge alongside the mighty Kinabatangan River in November 2008.

bewildered tarsier
bewildered tarsier

proboscis monkey
proboscis monkey

We spent a few days at Kinabatangan Nature Lodge viewing the jungle's moist bounty via night hikes, early morning boat rides, and midday treks through the muck and slurm with our guide Jungle Jay. (Yes, really.) In addition to monkeys-aplenty, we got to check out bizarre jungle creatures like tarsiers, monitor lizards, toucans, tiny chirping frogs, and all manner of giant bugs. Oh, and the leeches! Plenty of leeches too.

leech alert!
leech alert!

I'll let you write your own leeches-in-Washington joke (too easy), and leave you with a few lovely parting shots of the scenic Kinabatangan.

scenic Kinabatangan

Kinabantangan at sunset

For more fabulous travel snaps, check out Delicious Baby's Photo Friday blog carnival.

* view all Kinabatangan pics
* browse original blog posts from our Kinabatangan stay
* Nature Lodge Kinabatangan

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Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 2 comments

04 July 2011
Declaring my independence, and a blogaversary

I was reminded the other day that this July 4th marks my fourth anniversary of travel blogging! Wow. Tempus fugit.

celebratory but shaky
celebratory but shaky... that about sums it up

Four years ago, I was watching the fireworks on the Mall on the eve of my first career break. Unfortunately, technical issues prevented me from actually posting anything until I was a week or so into the trip. By then I was already playing catchup (some things never change!) so my first few blog entries aren't particularly brilliant or introspective. Rest assured, I was freaking out. I'd just quit my job, was planning to travel solo for 10 weeks through Central America, and then come back and sell the house so Mark and I could take "the big trip." In my head I knew I could do it, and I like to think I was putting on a pretty good game face, but somewhere deep down, doubt and fear were gnawing into my spleen. What if I was making a huge mistake?

Tabacon Hot Springs, Costa Rica
Tabacon Hot Springs, Costa Rica

I managed to get through that shaky July 4th, hopped on a plane the next morning, and had an amazing trip. As most of you know, the rest didn't quite work out as I'd planned. For more details on that, check out a piece I wrote for Briefcase to Backpack called "Making Other Plans." Bottom line: I don't regret a second of it! And I continue to encourage other folks to take the plunge, by helping organize events like Meet,Plan,Go! and also by telling my story whenever someone seems open to hearing about it.

This July 4th, I'm working on another big project and hope to share more details in the coming weeks. It has the same familiar "holy crap" fear factor that's been waking me up in the middle of the night. What if I'm making a huge mistake? Fortunately the four-years-older-and-wiser me knows I can take whatever life throws at me. And the scarier something is, the bigger the opportunity. Bring on the fireworks!

How are you declaring your independence this year?

* Making Other Plans
* browse all "fond farewells" pics from 2007
* browse all July 2007 blog entries
* Meet,Plan,Go! ...it's baaaaaaack!

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Posted by sonia at 3:03 PM | Link | 2 comments
01 July 2011
Photo Friday: go to your happy place
and Happy Canada Day!

Hope everyone plans to take a deep breath and go to their happy place this weekend!

Here's one of mine:
our friends' beautiful backyard in Kamloops, BC
our friends' beautiful backyard in Kamloops, BC

Happy Canada Day!* Not a bad tribute, eh?

Check out other fab travel snaps at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.

* What's Canada Day? (don't worry, I didn't know either)
* browse all Kamloops pics
* Quiet moments
* Loopy in Kamloops

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Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments