Pulpology: Mark & Sonia's Intercontinental Absurdities!


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Re: Wanderfood Wednesday: Epicurean despot (by mark at 5/09 2:16 PM)
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08 November 2013
Photo Friday: Instagramming across China

enjoying the train station in Hong Kong
enjoying the train station in Hong Kong (this was taken mostly for our train-loving nephews)

We're back from our China trip (Hong Kong and Guangzhou for work, Beijing for fun) and, as always, sorting through a boatload of pics and stories.

oktapodi in Behai Park, Beijing
oktapodi in Behai Park

One of the many fascinating things about China is that Facebook and Twitter are blocked once you get to the mainland, but Instagram works just fine. Normally Instagram is something I use only occasionally, but for this trip it became something of an umbilical cord to the goings-on in the world "back home" and vice versa.

kooky American garage band in Wan Chai
American garage band in Wan Chai

For those of you who already follow me on Instagram, this will be a bit repetitive. For the rest, here's a quick slice of some trip highlights. It's a typical mix of foodporn, ironic oktapodi shots, and some other random stuff thrown in. Rest assured, the full slate of photos and stories (taken with a real camera and not just my phone) will follow.

view from our hotel room in Hong Kong
view from our hotel room in Hong Kong

Chinese brekkie + Indian brekkie? oh yes, HK, we're gonna get along just fine!
Chinese brekkie + Indian brekkie? oh yes, HK, we're gonna get along just fine!

snails in a rice wine hot pot from the Rainbow Restaurant on Lamma Island
spicy snails in a rice wine hot pot from the Rainbow Restaurant on Lamma Island

bizarre item found in our Guangzhou hotel room
bizarre item found in our Guangzhou hotel room

bizarre item found in our Guangzhou hotel room
dessert assortment from a Guangzhou brunch

drinking local beer and puzzling over roasted spadger on Party Pier in Guangzhou
drinking local beer and puzzling over roasted spadger on Party Pier in Guangzhou

oktapodi at the Temple of Heaven
oktapodi at the Temple of Heaven
oktapodi at the Temple of Heaven

oktapodi defending against the Mongol hordes at the Great Wall
oktapodi defending against the Mongol hordes at the Great Wall

Beijing sunset :: cough cough ::
Beijing sunset  :: cough cough ::

Emperor Oktapodi at the Summer Palace
Emperor Oktapodi at the Summer Palace

China is a weird-ass place
China is a weird-ass place

one last oddball meal of "griddled bullfrog"
one last oddball meal of "griddled bullfrog"

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


14 June 2013
Photo Friday: the Petra experience

so many camels, so little time
so many camels, so little time

As I've hinted at in past posts, there's a very good reason Petra is a World Heritage Site. UNESCO goes into great detail on Petra's "Outstanding Universal Value." Personally, I was just glad it was as amazing in person as the photos and movie footage it's featured in.

The pleasant walk into The Rose-Red City first provides a view of ancient silica quarries, partially-carved tombs (which we jokingly referring to as "art school"), and Djinn blocks. The latter, freestanding cube-shaped monuments to spirits from Arab folklore, give the site a Flintstonian feel.

the walk in
the walk in

the Marriott crew poses at "art school"
the Marriott crew poses at "art school"

Rawan does her best Wilma Flintstone impression
Rawan does her best Wilma Flintstone impression


The next section is The Siq, a narrow passage through the mountains leading to the carved city of Petra. Exploring the colors and textures of the sandstone canyon was one of my favorite parts of the visit. You can see my full homage to this natural wonder in my last post "Pet Rock."

entering The Siq
entering The Siq

rockin' out
rockin' out


One hazard was the horse-drawn buggies designed for those unwilling or unable to make the walk. They'd come zooming by with little warning, although after a while we began listening for thundering hooves echoing off the canyon walls.

don´t get trampled by lazy tourists in buggies
don´t get trampled by lazy tourists in buggies


At the end of The Siq, the carved facade of The Treasure emerges. This is the iconic view you see most often, but is no less spectacular to behold.

iconic Petra
iconic Petra


Cue the Indiana Jones theme song!

The Treasury
The Treasury

oktapodi often gets mistaken for Indiana Jones
oktapodi often gets mistaken for Indiana Jones


Unfortunately you can't go inside The Treasury, known in Arabic as Al-Khazna, but you can wander around and admire the carved facade. Crafted by the Nabatean civilization in 60BC, the structure is actually a gigantic tomb, covered in Greek-influenced columns and carvings.

Corinthian columns
Corinthian columns

http://www.pulpology.com/?esid=pics&z=4023&KWID=154
Hellenic warriors

loving how the light moves across Al-Khazna
loving how the light moves across Al-Khazna


The scene in the Treasury plaza is a chaotic pastiche of camera-wielding tourists, camel-wielding touts, and wheelbarrow-wielding maintenance men.

Captain Jack Sparrow working the Petra crowd
Captain Jack Sparrow working the Petra crowd

in front of The Treasury
in front of The Treasury

Lindsay, Rawan, oktapodi, Mark, Aftab
Lindsay, Rawan, oktapodi, Mark, Aftab

Treasury Plaza
Treasury Plaza

cameltoe
cameltoe

obligatory cheesy tourist shot with fake guards
obligatory cheesy tourist shot with fake guards


We continued down the Street of Facades towards the Theater, which was also under renovation. Plenty of cool stuff to see along the way, though.

lightshow
lightshow

Rawan photographs Lindsay
Rawan photographs Lindsay

mellow touts
mellow touts

festively-attired donkeys
festively-attired donkeys

Street of Facades
Street of Facades


The fact that the Theater was off-limits didn't stop Aftab, who hopped the fence to take a better picture. I'm happy to note he didn't end up on an episode of "Locked Up Abroad."

renovations at The Theater
renovations at The Theater

Aftab behind bars
Aftab behind bars


There was no shortage of touts trying to sell us camel rides or trinkets, but they weren't nearly as aggressive as I'd expected. Some of them, like this young girl who approached us with an armful of necklaces, were surprisingly friendly.

vendors
vendors

touts awaiting their next customers
touts awaiting their next customers

hey, shouldn't you be in school?
hey, shouldn't you be in school?


We weren't able to stick around for the hike up to the Monastery, as a member of our troupe had to get back to Amman for a flight. (A handy excuse just as the heat was starting to crank up.) But the stroll back through the Siq rewarded us with a delicious color show.

more spectacular lighting changes on the walk back
more spectacular lighting changes on the walk back

breathtaking
breathtaking

a rose-red city half as old as time
"a rose-red city half as old as time"


Then, sadly, back to reality.

annnnnnd back to the cheese!
annnnnnd back to the cheese!

time for souvenirs
time for souvenirs


And thus concludes the lengthy curation of my many-many Petra pics. Check out the links below for other posts and allllll the photos uploaded from our Jordan travels. Next up, our side trip to Beirut!

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


RELATED LINKS:
* Photo Friday: Pet rock
* Photo Friday: unexpected Petra
* Photo Friday: waking up in Petra
* Wanderfood Wednesday: epicurean despot
* Teambuilding in Amman: the hills are alive
* In my Dead Sea bowling shoes
* Photo Friday: Middle East teaser
* browse all Jordan posts

* browse all Jordan pics
* browse all Petra pics

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


07 June 2013
Photo Friday: Pet rock

Petra is most famous for its Nabatean-carved structures like the Treasury and the Monastery ...and we'll get to those in a future post. But even before the Treasury emerges from beyond the canyon walls of the Siq, visitors are treated to a spectacular display of sandstone colors and textures.


It's a photographer's wet dream.


I started to see faces everywhere in the charismatic rock formations.

I'm gonna eatcha!


The gorgeous hues seem to shift with each passing minute. We lucked out with a sunny morning, and left the site just as the afternoon heat began to seriously bake everything.


More to Petra pics to come! I'm just getting warmed up. Here's the rest of what I've uploaded so far. Meanwhile, for more fabulous travel snaps check out Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.

 

RELATED POSTS:
* Photo Friday: unexpected Petra

* Photo Friday: waking up in Petra
* Wanderfood Wednesday: epicurean despot
* Teambuilding in Amman: the hills are alive

* In my Dead Sea bowling shoes
* Photo Friday: Middle East teaser
* browse all Jordan posts

* browse all Jordan pics (still a work in progress)
* browse all Photo Friday posts

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


24 May 2013
Photo Friday: unexpected Petra

hey, even touts need to check Facebook from time to time
hey, even touts need to check Facebook from time to time

light and dark and dark and light
light and dark and dark and light


Yes, I'm teasing out the Petra pictures, little by little... You know you love it. Keep begging for more! Meanwhile, check out Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


RELATED POSTS:
* Photo Friday: waking up in Petra
* Wanderfood Wednesday: epicurean despot
* Teambuilding in Amman: the hills are alive

* In my Dead Sea bowling shoes
* Photo Friday: Middle East teaser
* browse all Jordan posts
* browse all Photo Friday posts

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
17 May 2013
Photo Friday: waking up in Petra

room with a view

Petra is one of those mystical-magical places that, even with our modern jaded overexposure, never fails to amaze. A small group of us had the opportunity to take a quick trip here after our meetings, and I came away with a small mountain of photos. (Imagine your complete and total lack of surprise.)

Today's first batch is just from the first few moments of waking up at the Petra Marriott, which is about 10 minutes away from the archeological site. Even the views from our room were stunning. We'd arrived late the previous night and hadn't had a chance to appreciate the delicious vistas of the Petra Valley.


Normally waking up before sunrise is not my jam. I got over that. The baklava tray helped.
a civilized way to wake up


The misty-mountain-hop quality of the light...



Gradually began to warm up...



It always amazes me to see plants growing under such austere conditions.


Bit of a lonely outpost, but the view beats cubeville anyday!


Just a few minutes' difference made dramatic changes in the scenery...



Oktapodi is awake and ready to see Petra!


Er mah gerrrrrrd, soooooo many more pics of Petra to come. Meanwhile, for more fabulous travel snaps, check out Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


Also, I'm still working on restoring the site after our recent crashitude, so not all pics have been uploaded and a few bits & pieces need to be tidied up. Do peruse the other Jordan blog posts, though! And thanks for your patience.

 

 

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
12 April 2013
Photo Friday: Middle East teaser

I'm waaaaaaay behind on posting pics and stories from last month's trip to Jordan & Lebanon  -- due in small part to a technology snafu that turned into a mild panic this week --  but I'm back on task and should have some goodies for you soon. Meanwhile I didn't want anyone to abandon hope, so here are a few quick teaser photos from our delightful accommodations at the Jordan Valley Marriott Resort & Spa.

Views from our room by night...

Jordan Valley Marriott at night

Jordan Valley Marriott at night


...and by day (that's the Dead Sea in the hazy background of the second photo)

Jordan Valley Marriott by day

Jordan Valley Marriott by day


And just for kicks, one from Petra, because who couldn't use a little cameltoe on a Friday?

Petra cameltoe

More to come, including our adventures in Beirut. Stay tuned!

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
08 March 2013
Photo Friday: Happy International Women's Day!

grrrrlpower
grrrrrrlpower!

Right now we're on a long layover in Heathrow Airport, waiting on a connecting flight to Jordan for a work trip. So I thought I'd commemorate International Women's Day with a pic of just a few of my favorite, fierce, international women. This photo always makes me smile; it was taken after we finished build week on our Habitat trip to Mozambique in October. The physical strength shown here is surpassed only by the strength of the relationships we build during that trip. In fact, we're going to visit Hanine, in the middle, in Beirut next week after my work in Jordan is done. Stay tuned for more pics & stories, and meanwhile take a moment today to celebrate the fierce women in your world!

RELATED LINKS:
* A love note to Team Pedro 
* browse all Moz posts
* browse all pics from Mozambique and South Africa

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
08 February 2013
Photo Friday: beautiful shiny Carnaval

It's Carnaval time! Zoinks, it took me forever to get all the pics posted from our Feb 2012 trip, partly because there were soooooooo many of them, and partly because... well, life gets in the way...

samba ball

Now seems like a great time to look back on this epic trip, which was primarily a celebration of my 40th birthday. (Mark tried getting them to move the party back to November, but alas it didn't work.) And why not ease the pain of this big milestone by hitting the biggest party on the planet? Brazilians know how to do it right, that's for sure.

Mangueira Samba School performs at Rio Scala Ball
Mangueira Samba School performs at Rio Scala Ball


In addition to attending a traditional samba ball, we splashed out on some fabulous front-row seats to the parades in the Sambadrome. Unreal. Gigantic floats, elaborate costumes, and nonstop smiling-singing-dancing from every single person in the parades and in the stands. For like eight hours straight.

warrior tigers
warrior tigers

are we having fun or what?
are we having fun or what?

sing it, sister!
sing it, sister


My siblings contributed to the birthday celebration by booking us a scuba junket in Arraial do Cabo. While it wasn't the most fabulous diving we've ever done, it was nice to get out of the city for a bit, and the scenery was divine.

and life is good
and life is good


We also managed to fit in a few standard touristy things, like...

the Big J
taking a trip up Corcovado to see The Big J

Sugarloaf at golden hour
checking out the jaw-dropping views from Sugarloaf (Pão de Açúcar)

Ipanema
and loving life on Ipanema Beach


Choosing just a handful of "best of" pics was almost painful! There were just so many beautiful shiny things as far as the eye could see. (See below for links to the rest of the photos, as well as all the blog posts from that trip.) Someday it'd be great to go back and see Rio in its natural state -- y'know, without a troupe of singing and dancing M&Ms crammed onto the subway at all hours of the day and night -- but it sure was fun to experience it in all its partyrific glory.


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


RELATED LINKS:
* browse all Brazil pics
* browse all parade pics
* browse all Arraial do Cabo pics
* browse all Corcovado pics
* browse all Pão de Açúcar pics
* read all Brazil posts

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
21 December 2012
Photo Friday: the kids are all right

sistas are doin' it for themselves

For those of you keeping score, I'm still working on the final installment of my three-part series. (Check out the WHO and WHAT posts, if you've missed those, and WHY is coming, I promise!) But in light of last week's horrificness in Connecticut, it seemed a good time to showcase some of the beautiful children of Chipenhe Village.

troublemakers in training

These kids were our constant companions during our week on the Habitat build site, and part of our assignment was to interact with them. This was pretty much the easiest task we were given... they were friendly, adorable, entertaining, and just all-around fabulous kids.

Eclipson and friend


They helped out around the worksite...

shovelers

http://www.pulpology.com/?esid=pics&z=3686&KWID=148


Delighted in having their picture taken...

hey, that's me!

chikani!

hangin' out

Of course, loved them some oktapodi...

oktaposse

Alvaro and oktapodi

where hasn't oktpodi been?

oktapodi is always popular with the ladies

love deez guys


They greeted us every morning and said goodbye each evening, by running after the van and frantically cheering...

welcome committee

They played with whatever materials were on hand...

umbrella fun

ingenious use of soda cans

who needs a Wii when you have this?


Enjoyed some of the supplemental entertainment we brought with us...

bubblicious

Kristin practices the alphabet

Mark makes drawings

art show

And generally seemed to make the most of just being kids

Chipenhe dance party

Fat Albert gets his bath

cutie

Celeste joins the party

To say they touched our hearts is the understatement of the century.

another cutie


This is just the tip of the iceberg... of course there are tons more photos of these little guys. (Warning: somebody's been having a bit too much fun with some new Lightroom presets/filters!)


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


RELATED LINKS:
* Work is love made visible
* A love note to Team Pedro
* browse all Mozambique posts

* browse all photos from Mozambique and South Africa

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 2 comments
14 December 2012
Photo Friday: London's Friday Night Freakshow

Today we take a short break from Moz posts to bring you a few pics from the London Wonderground.

bring on the freaks!
freaks and a geek

Southbank Centre in the moonlight
Southbank Centre in the moonlight

Open May through September at Southbank Centre, this "marvellous new festival of cabaret, circus and sideshow" was set up right behind our hotel, and we happened to catch one of the last nights. By chance, as we strolled along after dinner one eve, the Friday Night Freakshow was about to begin. Oh, what luck!

freakshow next to The Eye? yes, please!
freakshow next to The Eye? yes, please!

let the show begin
let the show begin

Emceed by the salty Miss Behave, this fabulous concoction of vaudeville acts kept us well entertained into the wee hours.

Miss Behave
Miss Behave

Kalki Hula Girl
Kalki Hula Girl

Gypsy Wood
Gypsy Wood

This was one of those magical moments of travel synchronicity that we couldn't possibly have planned better.

score!
score!

Back to our regularly-scheduled Mozambique posts soon! And more London pics/posts to come.

 

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
30 November 2012
Photo Friday: thankful for...

On the heels of last week's American Thanksgiving, I thought I'd share this photo from our Moz trip that encapsulates the concept of thanks.

Felixmina and Nosta celebrate
Felixmina and Nosta celebrate their new homes

I took this during the dedication ceremony for the two houses we'd built, which included lots of singing and dancing and words of thanks from Nosta and Felixmina. When was the last time you did something at work/home/anywhere that made someone this joyfully appreciative?

This helps remind me of all I'm thankful for, especially as we barrel through the hectic holiday season.

More-more-more Moz to come, I promise! I am making some progress in wading through the mountain of pics and will be sharing more in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, check out the fabulous travel snaps at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


RELATED LINKS:
* A love note to Team Pedro
* browse all Mozambique posts
* browse all photos from Mozambique and South Africa

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
09 November 2012
PhotoFriday: Kruger Safari

take the long way home
take the long way home

As I alluded to in my last post, our Africa trip was not all hard work and grappling with serious issues. There was serious fun, too! At the start of the trip we managed to fit in a one-day safari to Kruger National Park, in South Africa.

canoodling zebras
canoodling zebras

Despite the frigid cold and pelting rain (part of the charm of traveling in an open vehicle) we managed to see a lot of cool stuff, including four of The Big Five* and lots of other fascinating flora & fauna. .

trotting warthogs 
trotting warthogs!

Our guide Sibusiso was an absolute expert at spotting random stuff from incredible distances, and seemed to really enjoy sharing his knowledge even with just the two of us huddled under blankets in the back of the enormous jeep

spotting rare leopard spots
spotting rare leopard spots
(if you squint hard you'll either see a spaceship or one of its blue eyes peeking out of the foliage)

a pachyderm family affair
a pachyderm family affair


* The Big Five:
1. elephant
2. rhino
3. water buffalo
4. lion
5. leopard

We saw everything but lions, which apparently prefer not to come out in the pelting rain. Smart cats.

 one of several entrances

For more fabulous travel snaps, check out DeliciousBaby's Photo Friday. And there are plenty more safari pics where these came from.

RELATED LINKS:
* browse
all Mozambique posts
* browse all Kruger pics

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
17 August 2012
PhotoFriday: bi-coastal beachy goodness

Recent work and family adventures have taken me to both coasts of the US. While there's not much similarity between the towns of Spring Lake, NJ, and Newport Beach, CA, one thing's for sure: you just can't get too much beachy goodness!

Laura chillaxes
Laura chillaxes (NJ)

sandtastic
sandtastic (NJ)

ready to watch the Monster Mile
ready to watch the Newport Beach Junior Lifeguard Monster Mile race (CA)

bird is the word
bird is the word (CA)

For more fabulous travel snaps, check out DeliciousBaby's Photo Friday.


And, one last shameless plug for our Mozambique trip! I hit my goal a while back, but Mark is still working on raising the funds (which go towards supplies and construction materials for the houses we'll be building). This is the last week to complete fundraising. If you can spare a few bucks, please consider contributing toward this cause! Every dollar counts, and as promised we'll be sending cool postcards to every supporter. You can be the only kid on the block with a postcard from Moz on your fridge!


RELATED LINKS:
* Jersey Shore + Dad's Retirement Party album on Google+
* Newport Beach album on Google+
* The Jersey Shore you'll never see on MTV
* Mark's Habitat fundraising page
* browse all Mozambique posts

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
06 July 2012
Photo Friday: independence personified

the funktastic Jacumba Hot Springs, April 2010
the funktastic Jacumba Hot Springs, April 2010

This is a slightly-delayed tribute to my dear, departed crazy aunt, who would have celebrated her "Yankee Doodle" birthday on July 4th if she hadn't succumbed to breast cancer last October. Above is a shot of her at Jacumba hot springs (with Mark and some random scraggly denizens), where she took us in April 2010.

three Gallo sisters
three Gallo sisters on July 4, 2003
I love how nobody's looking in the same direction... typical...

Auntie didn't just march to her own beat, she brought a whole band along for the ride. For her 60th birthday, she threw herself a fabulous party, and she actually did hire a high school mariachi band to play in her backyard. Several years ago she'd already invited the entire family to come out to San Diego to celebrate her 70th on July 4, 2013. She was a piece of work. I miss her almost as much as I miss my mom; both were role models who taught me the real meaning of fierce independence.

For those of you in the US, amidst all the fireworks this week, take a minute to raise your glass to all the Founding Mothers (and Aunties) out there who made us what we are!

For more fabulous travel snaps, check out DeliciousBaby's Photo Friday.


RELATED LINKS:
* Bein' the Tía Loca
* California's all right, somebody check my brain
* browse all San Diego pics from 2010 trip

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
01 June 2012
PhotoFriday: smiles everyone, smiles!

happy dude

You didn't seriously think I was done posting samba parade pics, did you? Oh heavens no!

Bahia smiles

I'm talkin to YOU

hello!

This week's theme is the ridiculously good mood everyone seemed to be in while marching through the Sambódromo.

are we having fun yet?

oh you betcha

stripetastic

shazam!

oh yeah!

Part of what made our front-row seats so much fun was the ability to interact with the paraders, who lit up a little bit extra when they caught someone's eye in the audience.

shout it out

double-smiley

smiley snoof

much love

Even the folks who'd been waiting all night for their parade to start were chipper and fresh and fulla spunk. Which was more than I could say, 'round about 6am. But their enthusiasm was certainly infectious!

spunk

fresh

It's uncanny how your gaze is drawn to a smiling face, even in a sea of snoof and fuzzle.

fuzzle

oh we definitely having fun

woot!

For more fabulous travel snaps, check out DeliciousBaby's Photo Friday.


RELATED POSTS/LINKS:
*
Top of the Loaf, Ma!
* From Rio with love
* Holy Floats, Batman (part two)
* Holy Floats, Batman (part one)
* Snoof and fuzzles, tringlers and trappings
* browse all Brazil pics posted so far
* browse all Brazil blog posts


If you enjoyed this post, please share it!
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Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
04 May 2012
Photo Friday: from Rio with love

night falls on Rio
night falls on Rio

There's a reason everyone who's been to Rio ranks it among their favorite cities. It's gawjeous! For Photo Friday this week, here's another snap from our trip up Pão de Açúcar/Sugarloaf. If you want a sneak peek, all Sugarloaf pics have been posted. And the full story is coming soon. Really. Soon. (What can I say? Spring is in the air, and real life has gotten in the way this week!)

For more fabulous travel snaps, check out DeliciousBaby's Photo Friday.


RELATED POSTS/LINKS:
*
Holy Floats, Batman (part two)
* Holy Floats, Batman (part one)
* Snoof and fuzzles, tringlers and trappings
* We had trouble in getting to Solla Sollew
*
Fried, fried, pink stuff, fried
* Impersonal Jesus
* The sun sets on another epic trip
* Sambódromo favorites
* Dois Gringos em Dois Irmãos
* Samba till you drop
*
In a Rio state of mind
* browse all pics from Pão de Açúcar
* browse all Brazil pics posted so far


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13 April 2012
Photo Friday: Holy Floats, Batman! (part two)

pure energy

shiny objects

Last week we explored some of the splendiforous parade floats that make their way through Rio's Sambódromo during Carnaval. Believe it or not, I only got halfway through. For this week's Photo Friday post, here's a few more.

rams

moo too

c'mon fish


Most floats were preceded by a group on the ground in matching costumes. Sometimes the theme was easier to detect, sometimes it was more about coordinated colors.

scarecrow

scarecrow

color coordinated

yogurt?

slave ship

zombielicioius


A common float element was a spectacular giant face.

trumpets

harvest

artist

spears

angels

ram

greek?

gold

monster

dragon

ya mon!

is that Wonder Woman?

dude

safari

tribesman

lion


And then there were some outlandish themes:

The Porto da Pedra school decided to celebrate calcium this year...

cheese

yogurt

strawberry yogurt

moo again

moo some more

super-moo


Of course I totally love this Mocidade colored pencil float...

pencils
pencilrific
always hold on

 

The people at top of the floats tended to sport the skimpiest costumes, but always-always had something to hold onto.

hold on!

grab the rainbow

greek grab

wobbly at the top

hold tight

And some floats just blew me away...

tiger

jungle face

white

goat

more goat


Are you experiencing parade overkill yet? Try sitting and watching these in-person for 9 hours straight! Ay samba-caramba!

I'll leave you with a few interesting characters found aboard floats:

boy or girl, whaddaya think?

I want this outfit

master of ceremonies

For more fabulous travel snaps, check out DeliciousBaby's Photo Friday.

RELATED POSTS:
* Photo Friday: Holy Floats, Batman (part one)
* Photo Friday: snoof and fuzzles, tringlers and trappings

* We had trouble in getting to Solla Sollew
* Photo Friday: Sambódromo favorites
* browse all Brazil posts

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06 April 2012
Photo Friday: Holy Floats, Batman! (part one)

shiny

Rio's samba parade costumes are brilliant, but the floats are works of mad genius.

turtlerific

love the suit

how does she not fall off?

Several stories high, often with a dozen or more people aboard, and of course covered in all manner of snoof and fuzzle, parade floats are nothing short of mind-boggling.

tropical

One or two of these floatstravaganzas would be flabbergasting to behold. But each samba school has half a dozen, and we watched seven or eight schools over the course of the night. As I've said before, after a while we just got tired of saying "wow."

swingset

indigenous

sing it, sister

there's the snoof

Ranging from the opulent to the absurd, each float has its own share of theatricality.

fountain

whaaaaa?

oy vey

sparkly

And this is just the first half. More to come!

swirly

golden

heavenly


Meanwhile, check out the other great travel snaps at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


RELATED POSTS:
* Photo Friday: snoof and fuzzles, tringlers and trappings

* We had trouble in getting to Solla Sollew
* Photo Friday: Sambódromo favorites
* browse all Brazil posts


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23 March 2012
Photo Friday: snoof and fuzzles, tringlers and trappings

floof

In keeping with this week's Seussian theme, I thought I'd feature some more samba parade photos, focusing on the floof and flounce and utter whimsy of the costumes.

nice hats

sparkly

colorful doesn't even begin to describe


All the Whos down in Whoville might've had panpoolers, pantookers, and bisslebigs, but they couldn't hold a candle to these creations. And there's the added effect of about a hundred people marching and dancing and singing together, all identically dressed with giant birds on their heads, like it was no big deal. Just when we got used to it, the next group came marching by in something even wackier.

bird headdresses

giraffes

mick jagger?


Parade costumes are full of feathers and spangles, and that's par for the course. But a surprising number of them also incorporated frilly fabrics with froufrou ornamentation.

flounce

more flounce

the flounce never ends


And strange, unexpected accents.

yogurt?

ehm... 

whoa

more yogurt


The amount of work that must go into sewing all these costumes simply boggles the mind.

spangly 

blingy

shiny


After a while, we gave up saying "wow!" and "what the..." and just stared in slack-jawed astonishment.

what the

wow

zoinks


This just scratches the surface of all the amazing things we saw in the Sambódromo. Over the coming weeks I'll continue to curate parade photos, attempting to put them into some logical themes rather than bludgeon you with a gigantic batch of Wow! Next week: Holy floats, Batman!

Meanwhile, check out the other great travel snaps at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


RELATED LINKS:
* We had trouble in getting to Solla Sollew
* Photo Friday: Sambódromo favorites
* browse all Brazil posts


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24 February 2012
Photo Friday: Sambódromo favorites

the Portela crew, workin' it
the Portela crew, workin' it

shiny objects
shiny objects


Our Sunday evening trip to the Sambodromo to watch over seven hours of samba parades was epic, to say the least. We had incredible seats, right on the ground level in the sector next to the judges.


this little dude had charazzzzzzma
this little dude had charazzzzzzma

confetti canon!
confetti cannon!

Mocidade's batteria was definitely tops
Mocidade's batteria was definitely tops


As you can imagine, there are myriad photos to curate. These are just a scant few of my first-run faves.


love the energy
love the energy

colored pencil float! ('nuff said)
colored pencil float! ('nuff said)

zombierific
zombierific

even the cleanup crews got down with their badselves
even the cleanup crews got down with their badselves

one of Beija Flor's incredible floats
one of Beija Flor's incredible floats

I gotta get me one of these hats!
I gotta get me one of these hats!


One of the best parts of being right down in the action was the opportunity to interact with the paraders. Despite marching for 90 minutes straight, in some cases in a parade that didn't even start till the wee hours of the morning, these folks had amazing energy.


still cheerful at 5am
still cheerful at 5am

front row seats to the sambaliciousness
front row seats to the sambaliciousness

partying till the sun comes up
partying till the sun comes up


Watch for more Carnaval and parade pics to come in the next days and weeks! And check out the other great travel snaps at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


RELATED POSTS:
*
Dois Gringos em Dois Irmãos
* Samba till you drop
* browse
all Brazil posts

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23 December 2011
Merry Chrismoose!

chrismoose cookies
best cookie cutter ever, courtesy of my sister in Alaska

Hope your holidays are merry & bright! Or at least covered in frosting. And here's to a stellar 2012... it is the Year of Awesomeness, after all. Cheers!


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04 November 2011
Photo Friday: lawn ornaments come to life

This time last year we were in Aruba, chilling out at the Renaissance's private beach and enjoying some fabulous diving and not doing much else. One side of the beach sported some massive iguanas, the other had a flock of flamingoes. I don't think I'd ever seen one this up close before... they're kinda surreal.

RELATED LINKS:
* browse all posts from Aruba
* check out other great travel snaps at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday 

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16 September 2011
Photo Friday: there's a fungus among us

almost looks good enough to eat
almost looks good enough to eat

Last week NPR's Science Friday did a piece on how, due to the recent torrential rains, there seem to be mushrooms EVERYWHERE. Inspired by this, I took a walk through my neighborhood. Sho 'nuff... shrooms aplenty. What was meant to be a quick walk to stretch my legs soon turned into an obsessive chronicalling expedition, with me stooping in front yards and patches of roadside grass to snap pics with my phone. Once I started, I couldn't stop!

unseen by most passersby
unseen by most passersby

curdled
curdled

brrrrrrrrrain
brrrrrrrrrain

striped umbrellas
striped umbrellas

shelf
shelf

crinkly
crinkly

Super Mario mushroom
Super Mario mushroom?

I also had a little fun with Instagram:

watching the world go by

almost floral

little seeds

The heck with stopping to smell the roses... I recommend you stoop a little lower and check out the mycological wonders awaiting you in the damp spaces of your world!

See more fabulous travel snaps at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


win a trip with Tripping!

Oh, and speaking of travel snaps, Tripping.com is running a photo contest. Wanna help me win a trip? Vote for my submission, taken during our recent Finger Lakes winery trip. Vote once a day if you want to, between now and Sept 30. Thanks for your support!


RELATED LINKS:
* Science Friday: Rainfall Brings Bumper Crop Of Fungi
* Three unexpected Finger Lakes finds
* Vote for me in Tripping's contest


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09 September 2011
Photo Friday: rain, rain, go away!

This week's rain has been a bummer, reminiscent of some of the heavy rains in tropical places we've visited. (Although it's much more fun to experience rain in an actual rain forest as opposed to rain flooding into your basement.) Here's a snap from the archives:

rain at Arenal Volcano
attempting to view lava flows in the rain at Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica

Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, is one of the country's top sites to visit. When I was there in 2007, it was recommended time and time again as a must-see. Unfortunately on the day I took the tour to see the lava flows, a torrential downpour blocked most of the view. I did get to see the volcano from afar under better weather conditions, but it wasn't quite the same. There's a much better pic in Marina Villatoro's guest post on Arenal.

view of Arenal from dowtown La Fortuna
view of Arenal from downtown La Fortuna

See more fabulous travel photos at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.

RELATED LINKS
* browse
all photos from La Fortuna
* browse all photos from Costa Rica
* read blog entries about La Fortuna
* read Marina Villatoro's guest post: Arenal Volcano


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26 August 2011
PhotoFriday: Great Balls of Fire
the Man burns in 8 days!

I just realized I never uploaded all my pics from last year's Burn. We're not attending Burning Man this year, but in honor of the 2011 event -- which has sold out for the first time ever, yikes! -- here are a handful of characters from our camp, Great Balls of Fire (GBOF).

Mama Love, Bitchezz, Forward
Mama Love, Bitchezz, Forward

Jewellee
Jewellee in the camp kitchen

Forward & Crystal
Forward & Crystal are ready for the Million Carrot March

Mitch
Mitch jams

Lunar
Lunar is one cool customer

Codrin & oktapodi
Codrin (from Michigan) & oktapodi

Liz gets a package
Liz gets a package

one of Jon's many outfits
one of Jon's many outfits

Jim, and a bit of dust
Jim, and a bit of dust

This is but a small sampling of GBOF denizens. To see the rest of the freakburgers (and there are many), check out the full album on Google+.

See more fabulous travel photos at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.

 RELATED LINKS:
* Burning Man art installations | Bliss Dance
* Photo Friday: Burning Man art cars, part two
* Photo Friday: Burning Man art cars, part one
* Photo Friday: ab-fab, sweetie-dahling
* Photo Friday: my night with oktapodi
* Photo Friday: this is your brain on Burning Man
* browse all 2008 Burning Man pics
* read all Burning Man blog posts


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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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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.


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


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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.


RELATED LINKS:
* 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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17 June 2011
Photo Friday: DC in the hizzouse

@middleseatview and @landlopers
@middleseatview and @landlopers

turns out @nerdseyeview isn't a big fan of oktapodi
turns out @nerdseyeview isn't a big fan of oktapodi (hey, nobody's perfect)

It took a trip to Vancouver to bring together some of the usual suspects from our monthly DC Travel Tweetup. During Sunday's TBEX lunch recess we gathered at The Mill on the waterfront to break bread with our East Coast comrades, plus maybe even an interloper from "the other Washington."

@wheresandrew and @nerdseyeview show off their tats
@wheresandrew and @nerdseyeview show off their tats

@laurably and Mark
@laurably and Mark

@marilyn_res needs a bigger mouth
@marilyn_res needs a bigger mouth for that massive salmonburger

up close and personal with @20stravel
up close and personal with @20stravel

Want to meet these tweeps in person? Come hang out with us at next week's joint DC Travel Tweetup and Meet,Plan,Go! social, hosted by Hosteling International. On Wednesday June 22, we'll convene, as we do each month, to talk travel and swap stories of our latest adventures. It'll also be a chance to hear a bit more about what's in store for this year's MPG DC event on October 18. C'mon out, and bring a friend!

The meetup event is free, but we're asking everyone to RSVP in advance so we know how many people to expect.
Register for Meet, Plan, Go! - Washington DC meetup 6-22-11


For more great travel snaps, check out Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.

 

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10 June 2011
Photo Friday: searching

Sonia and oktapodi enjoy the view

We took the even-more-scenic route back to Vancouver, choosing to drive through Fraser Canyon and past some amazing vistas. Smell that fresh mountain air! Not even a temporary halt for road construction could dampen this gorgeous road trip.

Mark checks out the construction delay

Check out Delicious Baby's Photo Friday for more great travel snaps, including lots of Vancouver-themed pics from folks in town for TBEX!


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13 May 2011
Photo Friday: VA Gold Cup fashion statements

lovely ladies in lovely hats
lovely ladies in lovely hats

It should come as no surprise that I'm a big fan of hats. Always have been, always will be. So I jumped at the chance to attend this year's Virginia Gold Cup, espcially when friends invited us to join the Eleventh Street Lounge bus trip. Sure, a glimpse into blueblood horse country culture is fun. Unlimited booze and a spot "on the rail" at Virginia's biggest steeplechase event of the season? Good times, especially when you've got transportation there and back. But the real reason I was so excited to go? The hats.

Danny rocks his wife's hat
Danny rocks his wife's hat... and this is just on the bus trip out!

on the rail
on the rail

grounded hat
grounded hat

ethereal hat
ethereal hat

crisp and tasty
crisp and tasty

Katie sports some bling
Katie sports some bling to match her chapeau

this chick's hat matches her dude's shirt
this chick's hat matches her dude's shirt

fabulous even in repose
fabulous even in repose

this family is so cute it hurts
this family is so cute it hurts


Don't worry, the gents have some fashion options too. I'm not saying they're good options, per se, but choices abound!

fellow in  yellow... hello!
fellow in yellow... hello!

owie zowie
owie zowie

the original Virginia Gentleman
the original Virginia Gentleman

And, finally, MY hat! Something borrowed, something blue. Mark doesn't like how he looks in this picture so unfortunately I had to crop him out. But he wasn't wearing a hat anyway...

something borrowed, something blue

 

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


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06 May 2011
Photo Friday: Peep Dreams

Peep Dreams

Inspired by the Washington Post's annual "Peep Show" diorama contest, we had a little competition of our own at the office. My entry came in second, which is pretty respectable considering I wasn't even around to bribe any votes. My brilliant artistic vision was tough to adequately capture in a mere photograph, but it's essentially me at my desk dreaming about being on safari with oktapodi.

Art therapy is a good thing.

For more fabulous travel-themed snaps, check out DeliciousBaby's Photo Friday.


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16 April 2011
Aaaaaaaa...chooooooo!

magnolia + pollen

The magnolia tree in our front yard is astonishingly beautiful each spring, replete with fluffy pink petals that exude springy cheer. But, alas, springtime in DC is a double-edged sword, as allergy sufferers know. And the other day I came face to face with what's been causing itchy eyes and runny noses for me and many others this season. Just look at that nasty pollen, just waiting to fly out and prickle up my sinuses! Mother Nature is such a bitch sometimes. :)

magnolia in full bloom

Fortunately, recent thunderstorms have blown most of the flowers off our trees, and we're back to good old green leafy goodness. It was fun while it lasted, sneezes and all.

(Yes, I'm a day late for Photo Friday, but go check out Delicious Baby's weekly carnival of photo goodness anyway!)

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01 April 2011
Photo Friday: hankering

oktapodi wants to learn to surf

Lately, oktapodi's had a strange craving to learn to surf, to sing along with Don Ho, to bask in some sweet beachy goodness. Could it be the cold late-Spring weather? Perhaps, but something else is afoot...

Scuba Junkies

oktapodi <3s Spring Lake

oktapodi has a hankerin...


For more fabulous travel snaps, check out DeliciousBaby's Photo Friday.


RELATED LINKS:
* view all oktapodi photos
* My night with oktapodi
* Showing your O face

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04 February 2011
Photo Friday: young and old at the Chichi market

Just so you don't think I've fallen off the planet, here are two quick flashback snaps from my 2007 trip through Central America. The Chichicastenango market in Guatemala is one of the typical stops on the backpacker circuit. It offers a mindboggling array of crafts & photo opps. Nearly everyone's trying to sell you something, but there are also quiet moments of reflection in the burning offerings at the Mayan shrines on either side of the marketplace.

crafty and persistent urchins
crafty and persistent urchins

burnt offerings in front of the chapel
burnt offerings in front of the chapel

For more fabulous travel snaps, check out DeliciousBaby's Photo Friday.


RELATED LINKS:
* Browse all Chichicastenango pics
* Browse all Guatemala pics
* Read posts from my Chichi experience


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14 January 2011
Photo Friday: sigh, are we there yet?

A short dispatch from deepest, darkest, coldest January...

wistful
an empty planter on the back deck dreams wistfully of warmer days
(I know how it feels)

hope from the basement
on the other hand, green things under grow lights in the basement give hope of things to come!

This post is part of DeliciousBaby's Photo Friday series.

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24 December 2010
Photo/Video Friday: Helan Går

Last year, we had the privilege of spending Christmas day with the Eldh family, who celebrate with spirited Swedish traditions. As someone whose family takes pride in their offbeat ethnic holiday traditions, I was thrilled to be among like-minded folk.

Christmas with the Eldhs

After a sampling of odd gelatinous meat products and beet-laced spreads, we sat down for dinner at a table adorned with a beautiful shot glass at each place setting, and several bottles of Akvavit. Now you're talking! Mark was asked to make a toast, and immediately afterwards the entire family burst into a drinking song! Followed by a slug of Akvavit.

This happened several more times through the course of the meal, and the family was kind enough to print out lyrics to Helan Går so the three non-Eldhs could sing along. Kinda made me want to be Swedish, at least for a day.

Happy holidays to you and yours, and here's to wacky traditions that make for treasured memories!

This post is part of DeliciousBaby's Photo Friday series. Thanks, DB, for a year of inspiring Photo Fridays!


RELATED LINKS:
* I'm dreaming of a Slovak Christmas
* Helan Går lyrics

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10 December 2010
Photo Friday: Bliss Dance

Bliss Dance, by Lloyd Taylor
Bliss Dance, by Lloyd Taylor

With the recent cold snap brutalizing the East Coast of the US, it's challenging to recollect our sweaty dusty adventures in the desert a few months back. Surely that must have happened in another lifetime?!? So, this Photo Friday, I decided to showcase a few pics from my favorite art installation of this year's Burn.

Bliss Dance, by Lloyd Taylor

According to the Burning Man site:
Bliss Dance is a unique steel sculpture utilizing cutting edge design; an unabashedly breathtaking modern sculpture in structure and balance. She celebrates humanity and shows the feminine beauty, power and strength that emerges when women are safe and free to be themselves. Standing 40 feet tall, she is dancing naked with her eyes closed; a sign that the spirit of the community is healthy and the balance between male and female is present.

Bliss Dance, by Lloyd Taylor

Which is impressive indeed. But when you randomly stumble upon a giant naked dancing woman who seems to rise out of nowhere and softly shimmers from one color to another, words escape.

Bliss Dance, by Lloyd Taylor

All you can really do is stand in awe. And, of course, try to snap some pics. Which is tricky without a tripod.

Bliss Dance, by Lloyd Taylor

Someone in the crowd referred to her as "David's Wife," as in: something so classically beautiful that Michelangelo himself might approve.

Bliss Dance Bliss Dance

She was also pretty cool to see during the day.

Bliss Dance by day

Supposedly the artist was inspired by the Joseph Campbell phase "follow your bliss." How are you following YOUR bliss this holiday season?

oktapodi admires Bliss Dance


Check out more fabulous travel photos at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


RELATED LINKS:
* Burning Man art installations | Bliss Dance
* Photo Friday: Burning Man art cars, part two
* Photo Friday: Burning Man art cars, part one
* Photo Friday: ab-fab, sweetie-dahling
* Photo Friday: my night with oktapodi
* Photo Friday: this is your brain on Burning Man
* browse all 2008 Burning Man pics
* read all Burning Man blog posts

 

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03 December 2010
PhotoFriday: Thanksgiving, om nom nom

it's no fun unless it gets all over your face
it's no fun unless it gets all over your face

There are many ways to do Thanksgiving, but IMHO my 9-month-old nephew Jack has the right idea. I like how he follows up a faceful of pie by gnawing on an apple. Life is short, eat dessert first!

gotta get in your five daily servings!
gotta get in your five daily servings!


Check out more fabulous travel photos at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.

 

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19 November 2010
Photo Friday: Loy Krathong

dancers prepare for their act
dancers prepare backstage

This year Loy Krathong, the Thai festival to honor the goddess of water, falls on November 21. So I thought I'd dedicate today's Photo Friday to a few snaps from our 2008 trip to Southeast Asia, where we were able to experience Loy Krathong in the Bangkok suburb of Thonburi. We got to make our own krathongs, and had a ball walking around the streets of Thonburi taking in the sights, smells, and sounds. 

oktapodi surveys the final product
oktapodi surveys the final krathong creations

For more fabulous travel photos, check out Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


RELATED LINKS:
* read about our
2008 Loy Krathong adventure
* browse all Thailand blog posts
* view all photos from Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia


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12 November 2010
PhotoFriday: creatures of Renaissance Island

iguana, do you wanna?
iguana, do you wanna?

We didn't really come to Aruba for the critters. Not the ones on land, anyway. So it was a pleasant surprise to discover that the Renaissance's private island, just a short 15-minute boat ride from the hotel, was home to a fascinating range of denizens.

Iguanas greeted us immediately upon disembarking....

whatchoo lookin at?
whatchoo lookin at?

Flamingos, surreal and iridescent coral, roamed one side of the beach...

flamingos

totally surreal

at the watering hole


And pelicans hunted for fish in the mangroves between the two beaches...

pelicans in the mangroves

love me some Aruban pelicans


Indeed, the island creatures were a fascinating bunch!

oktapodi loves the smell of the salty air

and the wildest denizens of all
and the wildest denizens of all


More Aruba stories & pics coming your way! In the meantime, check out more fabulous travel photos at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.

Flamingo Beach


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15 October 2010
Photo Friday: Burning Man art cars, part two

A continuing exploration of how to get around the Playa in style. Last week's part one is here.

stellar use of a golf cart
stellar use of a golfcart

Art cars come into their own at nighttime. The visual and auditory splendor will stop you in your tracks, yet they're infinitely harder to capture on camera. Especially without a tripod. In fact, any crisp shots here can probably be attributed to Mark, who has a much steadier hand than I.

Hopping a ride on the bigger art cars, as previously mentioned, is a tricky endeavor. We did manage to climb aboard a few of the smaller ones, and even hitched an illicit ride on the back of the big pirate bus, at least until a disembodied voice ordered us off. Good call, as we would likely have tumbled off on our own after breathing exhaust fumes straight from the source.

we actually got a ride on this one
we actually got a ride on this one

badass poultrymobile - the base was a funky Cadillac
badass poultrymobile - the base was a funky Cadillac

the Holy Grail of art cars
the Holy Grail of art cars - we hopped a short ride on the very back

a perennial favorite. the wings flap!
a perennial favorite. the wings flap!

flaming dragon
flaming dragon

pure tikilicious genius
pure tikilicious genius


Check out more fabulous travel photos at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


RELATED LINKS:
* Photo Friday: Burning Man art cars, part one
* Photo Friday: ab-fab, sweetie-dahling
* Photo Friday: my night with oktapodi
* Photo Friday: this is your brain on Burning Man
* browse all 2008 Burning Man pics
* read all Burning Man blog posts
* check out the Burning Man website


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08 October 2010
Photo Friday: Burning Man art cars, part one

ET's not phoning home, he's driving home
ET's not phoning home, he's driving home

Part transportation, part artistic statement, the art cars at Burning Man never fail to amaze and amuse me. On one level, they are a symbol of the immense, far-reaching, yet totally cooperative organization behind the event: one can not drive an art car on the Playa without first registering one's car at the DMV (Department of Mutant Vehicles) in order to preserve the pedestrian-centric nature of Black Rock City. On a totally different level, art cars are a status symbol just like regular cars are in the default world. Getting a ride on one of the bigger art cars takes a combination of persistence, luck, and knowing the right person. Art cars are a way to attract chicks, especially the big rolling party buses with huge sound systems. Large as a double-decker bus or small as a dune buggy, art cars are a way to make a statement *and* travel in style.

But enough of my yammering. Without further ado, I present a selection of Burning Man art cars, part one.*

permission to fondle the vehicle, granted!
permission to fondle the vehicle, granted!

who moved my cheese?
who moved my cheese?

a rolling stereotype, embraced
a rolling stereotype, embraced

oktapodi's favorite art car
oktapodi's favorite art car

makes me want to talk in a Grover voice
makes me want to talk in a Grover voice, for some reason

where's Yogi Bear?
where's Yogi Bear?

gets trippier the more you look at it
gets trippier the more you look at it

who doesn't love a mobile party?
who doesn't love a mobile party?


* There were so many fabulous pictures to choose from that I decided to split this into two parts: daytime shots and nighttime shots.

Check out more fabulous travel photos at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


RELATED LINKS:
* Photo Friday: ab-fab, sweetie-dahling
* Photo Friday: my night with oktapodi
* Photo Friday: this is your brain on Burning Man
* browse all 2008 Burning Man pics
* read all Burning Man blog posts
* check out the Burning Man website


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01 October 2010
PhotoFriday Flashback: one year ago in Piobbico
Castello Brancaleoni | Piobbico, Le Marche, Italy

To give you a little break from all the Burning Man bits (and, be assured, there's lots more coming!), here's a quick snapshot from our adventures in Italy. One year ago today, we were nearly locked into Piobbico's Castello Brancaleoni for the night. No Touch Monkey!

whew, that was a close one!
whew, that was a close one!

Castello Brancaleone
Castello Brancaleoni

thank god the keymaster came back!
thank god the keymaster came back!

Borghetto, the medieval hamlet behind the castle
Borghetto, the medieval hamlet behind the castle

Check out more fabulous travel photos at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


RELATED LINKS:
* Read the original story: LOCKED UP ABROAD: Piobbico Edition

* Browse all Piobbico pics
* Browse all Le Marche pics
* Read all blog entries from Le Marche


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24 September 2010
Photo Friday: ab-fab, sweetie-dahling

This week's Photo Friday collection is a smattering of the two of us in our finest Burner regalia. When you have two fairly non-photogenic people, getting any decent pictures becomes a numbers game. Fortunately we had plenty of help!

on Burn Night (photo by Ember)
on Burn Night (photo taken by Ember)

like disco lemonade
like disco lemonade

getting a Celestial Bodies tatoo
getting a Celestial Bodies temp tattoo is funnnnn!

hanging out at the GBOF burn barrel
hanging out at the GBOF burn barrel

just because it's Thursday
just because it's Thursday

devilish dudes in the Mothership
devilish dudes in the Mothership

with our new Serbian friend Ana
with our new Serbian friend Ana

cycling into the abyss
cycling into the abyss

at the Temple Burn
at the Temple Burn


Full cadre of photos from our 2010 Burning Man adventure, plus accompanying stories, coming soon! Thanks for being patient while I sort through everything.


Check out more absolutely fabulous travel photos at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


RELATED LINKS:
* browse all 2008 Burning Man pics
* read all Burning Man blog posts
* Burning Man website


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17 September 2010
Photo Friday: my night with oktapodi


Mama Love & Oktapodi during daylight hoursToday’s guest post is courtesy of the always-delightful Mama Love, who took a brief but eventful sojourn around Center Camp with Oktapodi during Burning Man 2010. I’d originally intended to just post the pics, but thought you might want to hear about the adventure in her own words, and get a small taste of what it’s like to meet and greet the public when accompanied by America’s favorite bath toy.



the artwork that started it allThis night at Burning Man started out like no other night, which at Burning Man is how every night starts out. I found myself in the area called Center Camp waiting for something to happen. I was looking at an art piece when my friend Forward told me “Mama, that should be your refrigerator magnet”. I needed a photo of this to make his statement so. I found my sweet Sonia and requested the use of her camera to capture the moment. As I walked back towards the art piece, I realized that I had a little hitchhiker with me: my ol’ friend Oktapodi. Oktapodi and I had shared our 2008 Burning Man experience in a very intimate way, but that’s another tale, and yes there are documented photos of our love! On this particular night, I felt Oktapodi was searching for some human burner connections.


oktapodi and the lantern
He and I decided to take a swirl around Center Camp to fulfill his need.
We started by energizing his soul with the lantern light.
 

who doesn't love some electrolytes?
This seemed to dry him out a bit and luckily we ran into this extraordinary creature who was willing to share her straw of magical electrolytes with him. 
 

oktapodi in a California Threesome
He became so excited he jumped into the middle of a California threesome. A video was also taken, and can be purchased at www.Pulpology.com for a nominal fee.
 

ooga-shaka, ooga-shaka
Oktapodi’s thirst was not quenched by this interaction and he moved in search of warm flesh over wooden clothespins. Next thing I knew he was being fondled by a pair of cavewomen. 
 

lusty and dusty!
He was insatiable and this is when I found him squeezed in between these two dusty-lusty women. 
 

Barbielicious
A little taste of burner love and he was inspired to attempt manifesting his dream girl, Barbie. 
 

snowbound
He ended up with a Snowbound Burner instead but I don’t think he was disappointed. 
  

distracted by shiny objects
It didn’t take him long to move on to the next shiny thing… He attached himself to the backside of a girl in the marching band. 
 

trombone!leader of the band
There was a competition going on and he jumped from the trumpeter to the hat of the very perplexed conductor. The chase was on! He is a very fast little cephalopod. 
  

oktapodi learns about the 10 Principles
Just as Okapodi reached the edge of the dome with The Man and the free playa in view, he was snatched by the green-painted, dreadlocked crossing guard. He read Oktapodi the Ten Principles of Burning Man and instructed him to go forth and radically express himself. 
 

oktapodi makes some art
Oktapodi immediately began putting sticks together
to create a reef to share with all of Black Rock City. 
 

everybody poops
The night was young but the siphon was full, so a quick stop to the Okta-porta-pottie was in order. 
 

cephalopod love
Mama Love and Oktapodi still have that spark!


Check out more fabulous travel photos at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


RELATED LINKS:
* browse all 2008 Burning Man pics
* read all Burning Man blog posts
* Burning Man website


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10 September 2010
Photo Friday: this is your brain on Burning Man

Technically I've been back in the "default world" for several days now, but am still shaking off the dust, literally and figuratively. As usual, this includes wading through the huge pile of photos and stories. Just to give you a little tease, in honor of Photo Friday, here are a pair of random pics from this year's Burn...


firespinner
my brain still feels like this


some of the cool kids from GBOF camp
some of the cool kids from GBOF camp:
Mama Love, Forward, Crystal, Bitchezz, Pringles, Emily, and yours truly


Check out more fabulous travel photos at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


RELATED LINKS:
* browse all 2008 Burning Man pics
* all Burning Man blog posts
* Burning Man website


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27 August 2010
Photo Friday: leave no trace
OMG, the Man burns in 8 days!

Part 4 in a series of Burning Man-themed Photo Friday posts. (Links to the previous weeks' posts are below.)

some funky-ass Burning Man trash
some funky-ass Burning Man trash

And in the end, to paraphrase The Beatles, the trash you take [out] is equal to the trash you make.

The exodus at the end of Burning Man involves cleaning up every scrap of anything you brought with you, packing it into your vehicle, and hauling it out. One of the key principles, Leave No Trace, is taken verrrrrrrry seriously. Legions of volunteers remain behind, combing the Playa for weeks to make sure even the most minute bit of MOOP (Matter Out of Place) is removed. This is yet another thing that sets The Burn apart from most festivals.

But let's not think about the end when we've not yet even begun! This concludes my four-part Photo Friday series leading up to Burning Man, which means the moment is finally here! Tomorrow we initiate the liftoff sequence. (For further details on that, check out Monday's post.) Since we'll be off the grid for the week, this is the last you'll hear from me until after Labor Day. Stay tuned for LOTS of stories and pics streaming your way in September!

For those who will be at this year's Burn, we'll be camped with Great Balls of Fire at 8:00 & Athens. C'mon by and say hi!


Check out more fabulous travel photos at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


RELATED LINKS:
* week one: Ringing the Virgin Bell
* week two: Desert eats
* week three: Beyond the mmp-tss mmp-tss mmp-tss
* browse all 2008 Burning Man pics
* all Burning Man blog posts
* my BM photos on Matador
* my photos in the BM Gallery
* Burning Man website


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20 August 2010
Photo Friday: beyond the mmp-tss mmp-tss mmp-tss
the Man burns in 15 days

Part 3 in a series of Burning Man-themed Photo Friday posts. (Here's part 1 and part 2.)

Everybody's going to the party have a real good time.
Dancing in the desert blowing up the sunshine.
- System of a Down, "B.Y.O.B."

Pringles IS Guitarzan!
Pringles IS Guitarzan!

We all know there's lots of rave music at Burning Man. Ditto for drum circles. After all, this festival is the equivalent of Holy Week for hippie-ravers the world over.

However, there are alternatives to the standard mmp-tss mmp-tss mmp-tss! Many camps offer open mic events for musicians of all genres, and one of our favorites in 2008 was The Golden Cafe. Self-described as "a casual sidewalk bar offering exotic cocktails and live music," this camp was a great place to visit during the late afternoon hours. Mark went there to jaminate more than once, and was even bestowed a Golden Cafe VIP medallion.

The Golden Cafe
the Golden Cafe

Mystical ShitThis year, we'll no doubt be hanging out at the Cafe, but in addition Mark & Keith have been working on their own musical act: Mystical Shit, a King Missile cover band! (You remember King Missile, don'tcha? They're best known for "Detachable Penis.") I've heard them practice a few times -- OK, once -- and can attest that Mystical Shit will be a spectacular addition to the Playa festivities at our camp.

For those who will be at this year's Burn, we'll be camped with Great Balls of Fire at 8:00 & Athens. C'mon by and say hello, and join in the Mystical Shit sing-a-long!

And for those who aren't Playa-bound but still want to bask in the glow of Mark's shred-a-licious guitar skeelz, stay tuned for announcements about his latest band project, AquaSpank.

Check out more fabulous travel photos at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


RELATED LINKS:
* week one: Ringing the Virgin Bell
* week two: Desert eats
* browse all 2008 Burning Man pics
* all 2008 Burning Man blog posts
* my BM photos on Matador
* my photos in the BM Gallery
* Burning Man
* AquaSpank
* The Golden Cafe


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13 August 2010
Photo Friday: desert eats
the Man burns in 22 days

Part 2 in a series of Burning Man-themed Photo Friday posts. (Last week's post is here, in case you missed it.)

them's good desert eats!
them's good desert eats!

Most who come to Burning Man camp in tents. They tend to eat things like jerky and trail mix and those godawful camping MRE packets that are loaded with sodium and some vague chicken-like flavorings. If they're lucky enough to have a camp stove or a makeshift camp kitchen, some might even consume hot food from time to time.

We are not like most. (Hardly a newsflash, I realize.) Mark and I arrived at the Burn in 2008 in a big honkin' Mothership of an RV, which was outfitted with a pretty decent kitchen. Being the ridiculous foodies we are, we'd stocked up on plenty of delicious culinary supplies, and ate pretty well throughout the week.

The last night of the festival, just prior to the Temple Burn, we held an impromptu dinner party for anyone remaining in our camp. Nothing too fancy, just a little clams marinara over some pasta, maybe some red wine thrown in for good measure. But after a week of grubby camp food, as you can see from the photo above, this meal qualified as the Best.Spaghetti.Ever.


For those who will be at this year's Burn, we'll be camped with Great Balls of Fire at 8:00 & Athens. C'mon by and say hello, and we'll likely gift you with some hospitality from our kitchen!

Check out more fabulous travel photos at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


RELATED LINKS:
* last week's post: Ringing the Virgin Bell
* browse all 2008 Burning Man pics
* all Burning Man blog posts
* my BM photos on Matador
* my photos in the BM Gallery
* Burning Man website


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06 August 2010
Photo Friday: ringing the Virgin Bell
the Man burns in 29 days

In honor of our trip to Burning Man later this month, all of August's Photo Fridays will be related to The Burn. I've posted many of my favorites before, in various places (see below), but this is an attempt to dig a bit deeper into the experience.


ringing the Virgin Bell
Sonia & Andre ring the Virgin Bell

First-time Burning Man attendees have the opportunity to ring the "Virgin Bell" at the entrance and then roll around in the dust. When we arrived around 1am, it was freezing, there was dust flying everywhere, the whole thing was completely bewildering and yet strangely festive. And thus the week began.


Those who will be at this year's Burn, we'll be camped with Great Balls of Fire at 8:00 & Athens. C'mon by and say hello!

Check out more fabulous travel photos at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


RELATED LINKS:
* browse all 2008 Burning Man pics
* all 2008 Burning Man blog posts
* Photo Friday: purple people-eater
* my BM photos on Matador
* my photos in the BM Gallery
* Burning Man website

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23 July 2010
Photo Friday: The Jersey Shore you'll never see on MTV
CousinFest 2010

CousinFest 2010, down the shore
CousinFest 2010, down the shore

Last weekend a handful of Zamborsky cousins convened for our quasi-annual gathering. We're fortunate to have access to a family house in Spring Lake, NJ, about a mile from the beach. Great Aunt Agnes isn't around anymore, but what better way to celebrate her memory than spend some fabulous family time in her former abode!


kitchen time machine!
kitchen time machine!


Part of the charm of the house is that it hasn't changed much since Great Aunt Agnes lived there.


throwback to a time when books were actually valued
throwback to a time when books were actually valued

mandatory and omnipresent beach decor
mandatory and omnipresent beach decor


Thanks to the MTV show, which I have to admit I've never watched, most people have a certain image of the Jersey Shore.


bet they don't have these at the MTV beach house
bet they don't have these at the MTV beach house


We had a vastly different experience.


ouch, what the hell was I wearing in that picture?
ouch, what the hell was I wearing in that picture?


Most of the time, we sat around eating and drinking and looking at silly old pictures from our childhood.


oktapodi <3s Spring Lake
oktapodi <3s Spring Lake


And, of course, there was plenty of beachy goodness!


The rest of the pics can be seen here. Or, rather, a subset of the rest of the pics, because what happens at CousinFest stays at CousinFest. And maybe also on Facebook.

Check out more fabulous travel photos at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


 

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09 July 2010
PhotoFriday: TBEX10 in pictures

TBEX is a full-contact sport!
TBEX is a full-contact sport!
@AOBDolce got her tongue pierced mid-weekend


I'm still trying to synthesize my whirlwind weekend at TBEX10 (this year's Travel Bloggers Exchange conference, held June 25-27 in NYC) into a coherent written post. But in the meantime, here are a few pics that summarize the experience:

SocMed + travel bloggers = ha-yuge!
SocMed + travel bloggers = ha-yuge!
@myessis & @jimbenning of WorldHum kickoff the opening session


one word: vuvuzela!
one word: vuvuzela!
it was so excellent to meet @CareekBrkHQs & @ottsworld and the entire MeetPlanGo crew


oh, maybe THAT'S the word
oh, maybe THAT'S the word
@everywheretrip tells it like it is, as always


TBEX'10 was allllll about the peeps & personalities
TBEX10 was allllll about the peeps & personalities
@savvytravelblog samples some of NY's finest fare
 

and if the all that weren't enough, 'twas also Pride Weekend!
and if the all that weren't enough, 'twas also Pride Weekend!

I swear I'll write more soon, once my brain fully recovers. In the meantime, there's a great recap roundup here.


RELATED LINKS:
* browse all TBEX10 pics
* check out more fabulous travel photos at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday


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04 June 2010
Photo Friday: another view of colonial Williamsburg

On a last-minute whim, we spent Memorial Weekend with our friends Mat & Jen in Williamsburg, VA. None of us are particularly history buffs, so we wound up visiting slightly more alternative sights. (Are you the least bit surprised? I thought not.)

brewery tour of Williamsburg Ale Werks
brewery tour of Williamsburg Ale Werks

lunch and tour at Williamsburg Winery
lunch and tour at Williamsburg Winery

grapes and sunshine... a happy place
grapes and sunshine... a happy place

this MY United States of Whatever!
this MY United States of Whatever!

one if by land, two if by beer
one if by land, two if by beer

obligatory colonial building shot
obligatory colonial building shot,
just to prove we were there


RELATED LINKS:
* browse all Williamsburg pics
* check out more fabulous travel photos at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday

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28 May 2010
Photo Friday: showing your O face
Osyrusfest 2009

This time last year, we were heading out to Osyrusfest 2009, a music festival in Pennsylvania hosted by our friends Preston & Paul Hoffman.

Relaxed cookouts in a bucolic setting by day...

creek and old schoolhouse
creek and old schoolhouse

Rocking shows in the quarry by night...

I'll see you on the dark side of the moon
I'll see you on the dark side of the moon

And oktapodi made friends with a whole slew of hippie-ravers!

oktapodi networks with the 1Well chix oktapodi makin' friends... ...and influencing people oktapodi enjoys a rare moment with Sir Paul cephalopod love

ok, one for the Christmas card! oktapodi is now an Eclipse groupie oktapodi loves to hang with the band The Minister in the hizzouse Charlie + oktapodi = splurp!

see, sometimes the photog DOES get photographed Alex, Alicia, oktapodi Shashaty can't believe what oktapodi has to say um. wow. write your own caption.

 

Check out more fabulous travel photos at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.

RELATED LINKS:
* original post: Kicking off summer with The Big O
* browse all Osyrusfest 2009 pics
* Osyrusfest 2010, June 10-12

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07 May 2010
Photo Friday: make a run for the border

US-Mexico border fence
US-Mexico border, um, fence?

With all the recent talk of immigration reform, I thought I'd post a few Photo Friday pics from our recent brush with the border. While we were out visiting the Jacumba Hot Springs, about an hour outside San Diego, my aunt took us on a short detour to see The Border. It was kinda trippy.


Auntie, Mark, and oktapodi consider making a run for it


even crappier fencing, and the Border Patrol on the hill

At one segment, there's this weird porous fencing with metal beams. (Someone speculated it may be designed that way in case of flooding. Who knows?) Then there's another segment with flimsy corrugated metal sheets. And the Border Patrol, in their shiny SUVs, are omnipresent.


warning! warning!

the Mexican side actually looks quite lovely, through the fence, anyway
the Mexican side actually looks quite lovely, through the fence, anyway

I was expecting to get stopped for taking photos, but I guess we didn't look suspicious enough.

More photos from our spectacular San Diego junket coming soon, I promise! In the meantime, please check out the fabulous travel photos at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.

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23 April 2010
Photo Friday: EarthFair in Balboa Park

In honor of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, here are a few teaser pics from EarthFair which took place in San Diego's Balboa Park last Sunday, April 18. This enormous fest, which spread throughout the entire park, provided classic California crunchy goodness, and of course some great people-watching!

bag lady
plastic baglady from the Algalita Marine Research Foundation

En route to find the world music stage, we encountered this woman dressed entirely in plastic bags. Her group's exhibit raised awareness on the perilous impact our society's addiction to overpackaging has had on our planet. (Can you tell this is an issue I am firmly behind?) I also loved her octopus accoutrement, and she was happy to strike a pose with oktpodi.

Pacific Garbage Gyre
representation of the Pacific Garbage Gyre

save the shrimp!
save the shrimp!

reducing our plastic consumption is everyone's responsibility
reducing our plastic consumption is everyone's responsibility


More fun pics coming soon from EarthFair and the rest of last weekend's San Diego trip! In the meantime, check out more fabulous travel photos at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


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09 April 2010
Photo Friday: wish I were here

It's been one of those weeks where I look at a picture like this and just sigh...

Bella Venezia: stunning little random canal
Bella Venezia: stunning little random canal

RELATED LINKS:
* browse all Venice pics from our 2009 trip
* check out more fabulous travel photos at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday

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02 April 2010
Photo Friday: signs of spring

Roll the car windows down, dust off those flip-flops, take whatever allergy medications allow you to go outdoors without dissolving into a sneezing-wheezing mess... it's springtime, kiddies! After a fairly brutal winter, we've skipped a few short weeks ahead and it's time to celebrate Mother Nature instead of cursing her.

Here are a few quick before & after signs of spring around my 'hood:

pear tree, winter
the pear tree in our backyard, circa mid-Feb during snOMG

same pear tree this week, white for a totally different reason!
same pear tree this week, white for a totally different
reason!

cherry tree in our front yard, mid-snowpocalypse
cherry tree in our front yard, mid-snowpocalypse

same tree, much happier this week!
same tree, much happier this week!

I have no idea what this tree is...
I have no idea what this tree is called...

...but it sports the most gorgeous blossoms this time of year
...but it sports the most gorgeous blossoms this time of year

joy! the hostas I thought I killed last year have actually returned
joy! the hostas I thought I killed last year have actually returned

the mint in the front planter always comes back
yeah, the mint in the front planter always comes back, but it's still nice to see it


A totally different sort of wildlife comes out this time of year, too. Witness:

woolly winter creature
wild & woolly winter creature

mild springtime urban deckdwellers
mild springtime urban deckdwellers


BTW, with the exception of that last shot, which was taken by one of my brothers during a recent family gathering in Philly, all of these photos were captured with my iPhone. It definitely doesn't replace my trusty SLR, but I'm pretty psyched with the quality of the snaps.

The other two classic signs of springtime in Washington are, of course, the Cherry Blossoms and the WaPo Peeps Show Diorama contest. How are you celebrating spring?


For more great travel photos, be sure to visit Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


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05 March 2010
Photo Friday: Batu Caves

exported Western culture at its best
exported Western culture at its best

addiction to high-fructose corn syrup, a family affair
addiction to high-fructose corn syrup, a family affair

During our 2008 trip to Southeast Asia, we spent a short time in Kuala Lumpur and visited Batu Caves. The cave complex, filled with monkeys and tourists alike, has a bit of a tacky tourist trap feel to them, but there's still plenty to explore.


god and moneychanging, a classic pairing
god and moneychanging, a classic pairing

The first thing to confront visitors is a giant gold statue of the Hindu deity Murugan. And then it's up the steep numbered stairs to the cave entrance. During festivals like Thaipusam, devoted pilgrims supposedly crawl up all 272 stairs on their hands and knees. We opted to walk.

hi-ho, hi-ho, it's up the stairs we go
hi-ho, hi-ho, it's up the stairs we go

oktapodi is proud to make it to the top
oktapodi is proud to make it to the top

Inside the cave complex are ornate Hindu shrines where worship still takes place. There were a few ceremonies going on while we were there. Mostly, though, the caves are brimming with tourists snapping pictures of and feeding snacks to the abundant monkeys, who know a good gig when they see it.

Batu Caves complex
Batu Caves complex

second set of stairs to the upper chamber
second set of stairs to the upper chamber


Our visit to KL was one of those "best of times, worst of times" experiences, as you can see if you check out the original blog post (link below). But in retrospect I'm glad we took the time to check out this extraordinary site. It was a bizarre combination of natural wonder and wonderfully cheesy.

For more great travel photos, be sure to visit Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


RELATED LINKS:
* browse all KL pics
* original KL blog entry
* Indie Travel Podcast has a great "travel talk" episode on Batu Caves and a thorough KL city guide

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19 February 2010
Photo Friday: slacker edition

I've been a bad-bad monkey this week and have not posted ANY new content to the blog! I blame the complete *lack* of snow this week, forcing me to actually go to the office and get some work done. Bleh!  ::: shakes fist at Mother Nature nobody in particular :::

However, all the recent snowmageddon/snowpocalypse/snOMG craziness has me dreaming of greener pastures and new garden adventures. So, here's a little hopeful reminder that spring really is coming...

sunflowers always make me smile


And if you want to see the rest of the pics from this recycled Photo Friday, check out the original post: Simple pleasures.

Tomorrow I'm attending Field to Fork Network's Rooting DC urban gardening event and hope to get all fired up about this year's gardening endeavors. Stay tuned for updates about my planned attack on the front lawn and other edible conquests!


For more great travel photos, be sure to visit Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


RELATED LINKS:
* Photo Friday: simple pleasures
* Grrrrrrrrreat Success! a Special Olympics Victory Garden update
* Our (Special Olympics) Victory Garden
* Celebrating Joan with the first seedlings of the season

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12 February 2010
Photo Friday: to oktapodi, with love

oktapodi prepares for another journey, National Airport, DC
oktapodi prepares for another journey, National Airport, DC

As we gear up to celebrate Valentine's Day this weekend, I though it was a good time to give some love to the unsung hero of this blog: the tireless, unflaggingly cheerful oktapodi. Our version of The Roaming Gnome, this humble bath toy has accompanied us across several continents, to festivals, and on roadtrips, never the worse for wear and always maintaining that goodnatured grin. Here, then, is a tribute to our favorite cephalopod:

oktapodi at La Paz Waterfall Gardens, outside San Jose, Costa Rica
oktapodi at La Paz Waterfall Gardens, outside San Jose, Costa Rica


oktapodi admires Volcan Santiaguito, outside Xela, Guatemala
oktapodi admires Volcan Santiaguito, outside Xela, Guatemala

also from Guatemala:
oktapodi surveys the quiet before market day, Chichicastenango  oktapodi hangs out in the waterfalls, Semuc Champey  oktapodi prefers to stay on the ground, Tikal
Chichicastenango | 
Semuc Champey | Tikal


chillin' on the dock at Alton's, like ya do, Utila, Honduras
chillin' on the dock at Alton's, like ya do, Utila, Honduras 


Sonia and oktapodi atop Caana temple, Caracol, Belize
Sonia and oktapodi atop Caana temple, Caracol, Belize 


oktapodi checks out the Man, Black Rock City, Nevada
oktapodi checks out the Man, Black Rock City, Nevada 

[more great pics of oktapodi at Burning Man]


oktapodi surveys the final krathongs, Bangkok, Thailand
oktapodi surveys the final krathongs, Bangkok, Thailand



oktapodi checks out the traditional Bornean art, Kuching, Malaysian Borneo
oktapodi checks out the traditional Bornean art, Kuching, Malaysian Borneo

also from Malaysia:
scubalicious sea creatures, Sipadan, Malaysian Borneo  lunchtime in Kuching, Malaysian Borneo
Sipadan | 
Kuching


oktapodi enjoys Osyrusfest golden hour, Pennsylvania
oktapodi enjoys Osyrusfest golden hour, Pennsylvania

[a great montage of all the new friends oktapodi made at OsyrusFest 2009]


oktapodi gets a custom sand fortress, Virginia Beach
oktapodi gets a custom sand fortress, Virginia Beach


Chicago is oktapodi's kind of town
Chicago is oktapodi's kind of town

also from Chicago:
man vs sea creature, yarrrrrr  the Pulpo Room at Meson Sebika
man vs sea creature |
the Pulpo Room at Meson Sebika


oktapodi quite enjoys a bellini in the afternoon, Venice, Italy
oktapodi quite enjoys a bellini in the afternoon, Venice, Italy

oh, the places oktapodi will go… Assisi, Italy
oh, the places oktapodi will go… Assisi, Italy

also from Italy:
oktapodi thinks the Duomo is dreamy, Florence  stupendous scenery and a lovely drive, Furlo Gorge, Le Marche  oktapodi surveys the completed masterpieces, La Tavola Marche, Piobbico  look, we have the same face! Bonci Winery, Jesi  oktapodi guards the Rocca Roveresca, Mondavio
Florence | 
Furlo Gorge | La Tavola Marche | Jesi | Mondavio

oktapodi ponders the Apennines, San Marino
oktapodi ponders the Apennines, San Marino


For more great travel photos, be sure to check out Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


PS. It also happens to be Mark's birthday today, but he graciously gave up this spot for oktapodi so be sure to give him some birthday love!

Mark & oktapodi pose with Mt Shasta, somewhere in California
Mark & oktapodi pose with Mt Shasta, somewhere in Northern California


RELATED LINKS:
* all oktapodi pics
* Burning Man stories | pics
* OsyrusFest pics

* browse all pics of our adventures


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05 February 2010
Photo Friday: friendly schoolkids in Barrio El Calvario

the girls were the first brave ones (claro!)
the girls were the first brave ones (claro!)

My original impetus for hopping a chickenbus and taking a daytrip from Xela to San Andres Xecul was to check out the technicolor church in the main square. And the church facade is pretty cool, with a riotous display of carvings in primary colors depicting scenes from the Mayan holy book the PopolVuh. But the real treat was farther up the hill, where I encountered a group of school kids in an area called Barrio El Calvario.

Barrio El Calvario schoolkids
Barrio El Calvario schoolkids

I had to huff and puff a bit to get up the steep hill, but was rewarded by stunning views of the valley and highlands. Meanwhile a group of kids seemed to be having gym class behind me. They were a little shy at first, but soon came over to check out my pen collection as I wrote in my travel journal. And then, gradually, everyone wanted to get their picture taken! First the girls, then the group, in various configurations.

gym class
gym class

I also got the chance to admire a creepy Mayan shrine dug into the hillside just beyond the gym class area. These are fairly common in Guatemala, although this one had the added bonus of wild turkeys running through it. You'll notice I got much closer to photograph the children than I did to the turkey.

creepy Mayan shrine with... turkey...??
creepy Mayan shrine with... turkey...??

These photos are from my 2007 Central American trip through Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Belize. For more fabulous travel photos, check out DeliciousBaby's Photo Friday!


RELATED LINKS:
* all San Andres Xecul pics
* all Guatemala pics
* original story: Making friends in San Andres Xecul


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22 January 2010
Photo Friday: the real Singapore, hold the caning

burning incense on Temple Street
burning incense on Temple Street


Singapore was the first stop on our 2008 monthlong jaunt through Southeast Asia. It's a fascinating place, an amalgam of cultures and customs that sprawls across the densely-packed island city-state, in the shadow of gigantic gleaming skyscrapers that house corporate headquarters of multinational outfits. We found wandering through Singapore's ethnic neighborhoods to be a great antidote to its no-gum-chewing, intimidatingly squeaky-clean reputation.

There's nowhere the melting pot is more obvious than in its houses of worship. On one street alone (the aptly-named Temple Street) there are mosques, Hindu temples, Buddhist temples, and Christian churches all within a block or two of each other. Here's a small sampling of some of our faves from throughout the city:


Ron Jeremy visits Sri Veeramakaliamman
Ron Jeremy visits Sri Veeramakaliamman

ornate gopuram of Sri Veeramakaliamman
ornate gopuram of Sri Veeramakaliamman

Buddha luck
Buddha luck

Kwan Im Tong Hood Che temple
Kwan Im Tong Hood Che temple

Masjid Sultan
Masjid Sultan


Don't forget to visit DeliciousBaby's Photo Friday for more fabulous travel pics!

RELATED LINKS:
* Singapore blog entries
* all Singapore pics
* DeliciousBaby's Photo Friday


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15 January 2010
Photo Friday: dem bones, dem bones
spelunking in ATM cave

dem bones, dem bones, deep inside the cave
dem bones, dem bones, deep inside the cave

Sometimes my best adventures have the fewest photos, because I'm so busy *doing* that I forget to play travel photog. This was definitely the case during a daylong trip to Actun Tunichil Muknal cave, outside San Ignacio, Belize. (At the tail end of my 10-week Central American junket in 2007.) The tour consisted of a hike through the jungle, a swim upriver to the mouth of the cave, and then spelunking -- I love that word! -- through the cave itself. The highlight of the cave tour is the pottery and human remains found deep inside, evidence of Mayan spiritual ceremonies from days of yore. Creepy goodness!

entrance to ATM cave
entrance to ATM cave

Mayan pottery inside the cave
Mayan pottery inside the cave

calcite-encrusted skeleton of The Crystal Maiden
calcite-encrusted skeleton of The Crystal Maiden

Don't forget to visit DeliciousBaby's Photo Friday for more fabulous travel pics!


RELATED LINKS:
* original ATM blog post: Spelunk, Part 2!
* all Belize stories
* all Belize pics
* DeliciousBaby's Photo Friday


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08 January 2010
Photo Friday: Tuscan daytrip
nestling into Anghiari

"Uno dei borghi più belli d'Italia"
"Uno dei borghi più belli d'Italia"

There's a good reason Anghiari has been labeled "one of the most beautiful villages in Italy." This picturesque hilltown, another convenient daytrip from La Tavola Marche, is absolutely stunning from all angles.

I know you're not supposed to use the term "nestled" in travel writing, but this truly is the best way to describe the town. Anghiari is nestled into the Tuscan hillside like an adorable baby animal you just want to slip in your pocket and take home with you. (Sorry, Matador!) See for yourself...

Palazzo Pretorio
Palazzo Pretorio

picturesque Italian street #3,523,986
picturesque Italian street #3,523,986

Tuscan olive goodness
Tuscan olive goodness

my kingdom for a tripod!
my kingdom for a tripod!

We also found an amazing vineria called Per Bacco, just off one of the main squares. Stunning local dishes, amazing wine list, and friendly service that was superlative even by Italian standards. (And that's saying something!) We finished off the meal with cantucci dipped in vinsanto that was simply to die for. If you're in the neighborhood, you must check this place out!

bringoli al sugo finto at Per Bacco
bringoli al sugo finto at Per Bacco

cantucci e vinsanto
cantucci e vinsanto

Don't forget to visit DeliciousBaby's Photo Friday for more fabulous travel pics!


RECOMMENDED:
Vineria PerBacco
Galleria girolamo magi
52031 - Anghiari (AR)
+39 0575 788893

RELATED LINKS:
* browse all Anghiari pics
* Matador's 5 MORE Words We Never Want to See in Travel Writing
Again
* DeliciousBaby's Photo Friday

 

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11 December 2009
Photo Friday: Chachoengsao

Wat Sothornwararamworaviharn
Wat Sothornwararamworaviharn... but you can call me Wat Hong

About an hour outside Bangkok is a beautiful gold and white temple with a mouthful of a name. (Happily, it's also known simply as Wat Hong.) We were fortunate to be taken there during our visit last November. It was a lovely break from the tourist throngs at the major sites in Bangkok, and in fact we seemed to be the only non-locals in the place. In addition to enjoying the splendid artistry inside and outside the temple, we got an extra treat: that day was graduation ceremony for the latest crop of monks. Zoe explained that almost all young men in Thailand become monks for a month or two. It's almost like Boy Scouts; monks in training learn physical and spiritual discipline, as a preparation for continuing on to adulthood.

temple worshippers
temple worshippers

monk initiation ceremony
monk initiation ceremony

graduation photos
graduation photos

For more great travel photos, check out Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.

RELATED LINKS:
* all
Chachoengsao pics
* Chachoengsao and a river cruise (Nov 2008)
* all
Thailand pics

 

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20 November 2009
Photo Friday: Murano

Murano has lots of shiny edges
Murano has lots of shiny edges

A short vaporetto ride away from the hustle and bustle of Venice is the island of Murano. It's known for its glass artistry, and you can certainly find all manner of shiny glass objects for sale. We had a great time wandering through Murano's quiet side streets, soaking in the chill vibe of Venice's more mellow neighbor.

Murano: a chiller version of Venice
Murano: a chiller version of Venice

glass workshop
glass workshop in a side alley

 

RELATED LINKS:
* browse the rest of our Murano pics
* check out more fabulous travel photos at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday

 

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06 November 2009
Photo Friday: Furlo Gorge
nature and nunneries and nipples, oh my!

Furlo Gorge

Furlo Gorge is a natural marvel just off the Via Flaminia, the original Roman Road that connects Rome with the Adriatic Coast. It's a resplendent drive through narrow canyons of towering limestone cliffs on either side, the Candigliano River softly meandering by below. Popular spot for bike rides, too. At one point you pass through a one-lane tunnel carved through the rock, which in its day was the height of Roman civil engineering. Furlo Gorge has a sense of timelessness and tranquility that merits a pause for contemplation.

things that make ya go hmmmmmm
things that make ya go hmmmmmm

oktapodi penses, too
even oktapodi is pensive

To get there from our agriturismo we drove past the Abbey of San Vincenzo. It's a fairly nondescript little white chapel from the outside, and we might not otherwise have bothered except Ashley recommended a look inside. Worth it! Creepy! It's one of the oldest Benedictine monasteries in the region, but one can almost picture more primitive goings-on in its shadowy underbelly.

Abbey of San Vincenzo, shadowy underbelly
Abbey of San Vincenzo... creepy!

There are several preternatural restored paintings on the walls, including one of the Virgin Mary breastfeeding what appears to be about a three-year-old Jesus. Nipple clearly visible. Well now, that's something you don't see everyday.

Santa Maria!
Holy Nipple, Batman!

These photos hold an even more special place in my heart, as they are part of the batch that was successfully restored after our catastrophic hard drive failure. Woot!

For more great travel photos, be sure to check out Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.

 

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23 October 2009
Photo Friday: magical San Marino

a San Marino pre-Halloween moment
a San Marino pre-Halloween moment

While I continue to organize photos and fill in blog entries, I wanted to put out a few teaser pics from our magical evening in San Marino. And what better occasion than Photo Friday? These photos don't even begin to capture the beautiful scenery and gorgeous sunset we encountered in this independent republic ensconced within Le Marche. More to come...

golden hour at the top of the world
golden hour at the top of the world

don't look down!
don't look down!

a billion steps up and down
a billion steps up and down

another gorgeous Italian sunset!
another gorgeous Italian sunset!

For more great Photo Friday pics, check out Delicious Baby!

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25 September 2009
Photo Friday: Treviso spritz

spritz, oktapodi, and penne al salmone at Piola in Treviso
spritz, oktapodi, and penne rosate at Piola in Treviso

due spritz at Due Piano in Treviso
due spritz at Due Piano in Treviso

A spritz -- made with prosecco, soda water, and aperol (which gives it that ethereal orange color) -- is a uniquely Venetian drink. We enjoyed several during our time in Treviso, a Venice suburb where we couchsurfed for a few days before heading to Le Marche. Molto delicioso!

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18 September 2009
Photo Friday: Ponte Vecchio at night

shops closed up for the night

Ponte Vecchio and River Arno

oktapodi si piace il Ponte Vecchio

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04 September 2009
Photo + Video Friday: Chicago is our kind of town

Chicago is oktapodi's kind of town
Chicago is oktapodi's kind of town!


Sonia's Ugandan dance lesson

We're in Chicago for a weekend of family stuff, and here are two highlights from our first day. Apparently there's some Ugandan cultural event happening at the Chicago Downtown Marriott, and we hadn't even gotten to our room yet before getting accosted by some exceedingly friendly folks from the Ugandan Ministry of Tourism. Not only did they regale us with facts about their country, but I got a free dance lesson. Never a dull moment!

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28 August 2009
Photo Friday: purple people-eater

purple people-eater
more like a purple people-greeter

Next week marks the start of Burning Man, the wacky hippie-raver festival in the desert that defies explanation or description. While we're a bit sad to not be attending this year, today's Photo Friday seemed a good opportunity to wax nostalgic about some of the more surreal moments of last year's Burn. The gentleman in the above photo provides one small glimpse into the surreality: we encountered him one dusty afternoon while en route to something else entirely, got distracted by his purple ensemble, and proceeded to engage in a lengthy conversation about travel through India. At the end of the chat, he reached into his gold suitcase (one of TWO gold-spangled accessories) and gifted us with a set of George Bush voodoo dolls. And then he went on his merry way, possibly back home to the mothership via the spaceship art car you see behind him in the photo.

Just another day on the Playa.

There were many, MANY more such moments during our weeklong visit to what Mark often describes as "a 7-day-weekend on the moon." One of the beautiful things about Burning Man is that it's so huge, and such a personal experience, that everyone comes back with their own set of stories. It often seemed as though even the people we camped with had attended a completely different event. Hopefully we'll return to the Burn again someday... it's been one of our most extraordinary travel adventures to date!

alien street scene
alien street scene

The American Dream 2008
The American Dream 2008

Sonia & oktapodi at Center Camp
Sonia & oktapodi at Center Camp

The Man burns!
The Man burns!

Related links:
* browse all Burning Man 2008 pics
* read all Burning Man 2008 stories
* Mark Morford: The life lessons of Burning Man

* Be sure to check out other great Photo Friday pics on Delicious Baby!


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14 August 2009
Photo Friday: poofy Guatemalan hairdos

poofy Guatemalan hairdos
poofy Guatemalan hairdos

In August of 2007, I happened to be in the town of Nebaj, Guatemala, during one of the biggest festival days of the year. The Feast of the Assumption is celebrated on August 15 through many Catholic countries, but it's an even bigger deal in Nebaj because the Virgin Mary is the town's patron saint. The traditional festival garb was pretty stellar, but by far my favorite part was the poofy hairdos sported by the women. Sometimes it takes me a while to get my hair done up for a special occasion, but daaaaaaaaamn, this was something else entirely!

I gotta learn how to do my hair like this...
I gotta learn how to do my hair like this...

Nebaj crowd watches the festivities
Nebaj crowd watches the festivities

Related links:
* browse all pics from Nebaj
* browse all pics from Guatemala
* read blog story about Nebaj festival

* Be sure to check out other great Photo Friday pics on Delicious Baby!

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31 July 2009
Photo Friday: simple pleasures

We all know we're supposed to stop and smell the roses from time to time. Well, after a hectic and overly-dramatic week, I'm taking a deep breath this Friday to appreciate the unexpected treasures, great and small, that have popped up in my yard.

sunflowerrific!

I planted a few sunflower seeds in a scrabbly patch next to the garage, not even sure if anything would grow there. Much to my surprise, a few plants cropped up, looking mostly like enormous weeds. Much to my relief, they have recently sprouted a few sunflowers! The biggest one plays host to a big bumblebee who often greets me in the morning as I hop into the car. (He didn't want to pose for any pictures today, though. Guess he's camera-shy.) I can not WAIT for this beautiful, cheery flower to start producing some tasty seeds!

dwarf zinnias

The dwarf zinnias I picked up at the farmers market earlier this season are thriving near the front walk. It's so nice to see bright flowers in the middle of the hottest and driest part of the summer.

cheers to you, mail carrier!

Inspired by Shawna Coronado's "crazy-ass mailbox garden", I decided to plant some stuff out by our mailbox. It's not nearly as fab as Shawna's, but a few giant zinnias have popped up. I can only hope they bring a shred of joy to our mail carrier.

unexpected pea pods!

The sweet pea seeds I planted with the zinnias haven't yielded much in the way of flowers. So I was shocked and delighted to discover that there are actual PEA PODS coming out! Bonus! There aren't a lot of them out there, but what fun it'll be to sprinkle a few fresh peas into a salad.

beautiful and edible too

The final simple pleasure photo is from the nasturtiums out on our back deck. I picked out these seeds at random, not knowing much about these marvelous flowers. In the subsequent weeks, I've been tickled to see bright orange flowers and leafy green vines spilling out over the side of the deck. I also noticed some seed pods poking out, and upon researching it a bit more I discovered that nasturtiums produce three kinds of edible treasures: the seed pods can be used much as you would use peppercorns, the flowers are edible, and the leaves are spicy and not unlike arugula. Triple-bonus!

What simple pleasures are you enjoying this summer?

Be sure to check out other great Photo Friday pics on Delicious Baby!


Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 1 comment
17 July 2009
Photo Friday: Tamarindo raft-up

a beautiful Tamarindo sunset
another jaw-droppingly beautiful Tamarindo sunset

In keeping with the "I wanna go to the beach!" theme I started last Photo Friday, here are some pics from Tamarindo, Costa Rica. This was the first stop on my 10-week trip through Central America in 2007. I was fortunate to stay with some very generous friends who are building a house on Costa Rica's gorgeous Pacific Coast. They invited me to come to their version of a neighborhood picnic, an event called a raft-up where everyone goes to the beach, piles onto a bunch of catamarans, and heads to a more secluded beach for a day of grilling, music, games, and general beachy goodness. That's *my* kinda block party! But that's how it's done in Costa Rica, where "Pura Vida" is not just a tourism slogan but a way of life.

raft-up dance party!
raft-up dance party!

Pura Vida at the Tamarindo raft-up
Pura Vida at the Tamarindo raft-up

Tamarindo Still Life
Tamarindo Still Life: flops Imperial

Related links:
* All pics from
Tamarindo
* All pics from Costa Rica
* All Costa Rica stories
* Check out more photos of other cool places at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday!

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10 July 2009
Photo Friday: Scubaliciousness in Semporna

this is how i feel most days at work
this is how I feel most days at work

As many people are heading off to their summer vacations, I find myself in serious need of some beach therapy. Or perhaps scuba therapy. Or both! So in honor of my inaugural participation in Delicious Baby's excellent Photo Friday, I decided to replay a few snaps from our blissful three days of wall-to-wall diving off Malaysian Borneo last November.

Semporna is an odd little town; most people come there to access Sipadan, known as Jacques Cousteau's favorite dive site and the holy grail of scuba diving. So this tiny town is crawling with sunburnt dive junkies and a dozen dive shops. But smack up against the dive culture is a conservative Muslim community. Oil and water! There's a big mosque in the center of town, and most dive shops have posted signs exhorting patrons to COVER UP when they're out and about. It's worth the awkwardness, though, as Sipadan and the other surrounding islands afford some of the best diving we've ever experienced. It's like jumping into an aquarium. Nine dives in 3 days may sound like a lot, but to us it was scuba heaven!

::: sigh :::

If you can't go to the beach, let the beach come to you!

Malaysian beachy goodness on Sipadan Island
Malaysian beachy goodness

nudibranch!
nudibranch!

the life of a divemaster does not suck
the life of a divemaster does not suck

friendly fish kid at Semporna market
friendly fish kid at Semporna market

Browse all Semporna pics

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