confessions · travel

Travel Rage Confessions

I have some things I need to get off my chest this week, before Confessions day even hits.

I’m in the middle of traveling, and am FINALLY on my way back home starting tomorrow. I have had about. enough. of. this. shiz.

I like to plan things way ahead of time. Way, way ahead. So, when my traveling companions did not send me any message regarding dinner by 5 PM, I cut out and enjoyed some Moe’s on my own. I was cozily back in my room by 6:30 PM. Do not mess with the food schedule.

I have been on this trip all together for about a month and half, so I’m now past the stage of ‘having fun meeting strangers that I will be in class with for the next month’ and on to the ‘please let me never see you again’ stage.

This weekend was the last straw in a basketful of straws. Traveling with people you barely know can be hit and miss, and this was totally miss.

We went to New Orleans, and I was super excited. I also seemed to be the only one out of a group of me and three gentlemen to show any excitement.

No one else volunteered to navigate us there and back, so I did that. No one had any idea where to go when they got there, so I suggested places and guided them there like a group of lost puppies.

We looked for a place to get lunch. No excitement shown about any restaurants, so I picked one I liked.

Saw awesome shops and things to look at. Barely registered.

Two of the guys were on their phones ALL the time.

I was already agitated at lunch, and THEN they tell me that they want to watch a football game for THREE FREAKING HOURS in the middle of the day in New Orleans.

I’m sorry, did we just travel to an unknown city so we could watch football???

I was hot, because I had already stated that I don’t want to be there at night and NO ONE mentioned a football game until we got there. I would have kept my ass in my hotel room.

So, I decided to take myself out of the game and let them handle themselves. I literally said, “This is all you guys. I’m not navigating or picking a place.”

Of course, then we wandered around looking in different places to see which ones have sports on their TV’s. Most don’t, because that’s not really the main goal on Bourbon Street. Finally, when they were about to enter a place called Bourbon Cowboy, I had to take over  and was able to find a sports bar right away just by looking one up.

Then, they sit inside the sports bar, where you can’t see anything going on on Bourbon Street, and stare at the TV. I do my best to look as pissed as possible.

Finally, one guy says, looking at me and one of the other guys, who also looked bored, “You guys don’t have to stay. You can go walk around if you want.”

So I said, “Yeh, I think I’m going to take a walk.”

I get up, and they all watch me go without a word. This is a group of three guys and they are letting one female wander around Bourbon Street on her own. I can take care of myself, but damn, heartless.

So, I stormed off and went towards the most populated areas, since the sun was due to set in about an hour. I went back and watched a street performance near Cafe du Monde, and enjoyed myself.

I got a text from one of them an hour or so later asking if I was okay. Great, no thanks to them.

I finally came back when the game was almost over and it was almost dark, and then I had to look up somewhere for us to eat, because they are completely helpless. I feel bad for the wives, out of the two of them that are married.

I have never met such a clueless group of people in my life.

I had to drag them away from the street shows, because it was getting late and I wanted to get to the restaurant before it got packed. They had their chance to see the weird and fun sights in New Orleans and totally missed it.

We went and got dinner, thanks to my navigational skills, and when we got there, there was a short line and the restaurant was packed inside. We quickly got a table, though.

When we left, there was a line out the door. I would have totally lost it if they made us miss a good dinner, too, by arriving an hour later.

So, I’ve taken away from this that I never want to travel with a group of relatively unknown males again, because at least ladies often look out for each other. And traveling with people with a sense of adventure is much better.

On the bright side, I enjoyed the street show I saw, and had a delicious dinner of a virgin strawberry daiquiri and vegetable gumbo, and if I go back again, I will make sure the group I go with actually wants to have fun and not sit there like a bunch of bumps on a log.

iceland · travel

Iceland Trip Recap

I wanted to start off this year with some travel pics from our trip to Iceland, last year. We had an absolutely fantastic time, and I have held onto the pictures for long enough that it is time I shared them.

Warning: Extremely picture heavy!
People often ask me when I tell them I went on vacation to Iceland, what made me choose there? The quickest answer is I saw pictures from someone else who had done a trip around Iceland, and I had been looking for our next adventurous vacation for a while, and I thought, “Why not?” I asked Greg about it, and he’s easygoing about vacations, so he was up for it.
Our itinerary included renting a camper van and driving around the entire island of Iceland, stopping to camp and sightsee along the way. Note: I highly recommend a camper van if you decide to camp, because it would have been COLD in a tent!
There is a famous road called the Ring Road that loops around the whole island, and is mostly easily traversable in any car, although we found out that parts of it may suddenly turn into gravel and dirt roads!
The entire Ring Road length is about 828 miles, so it’s best to take at the minimum 7-10 days to drive it, since there is so much to see along the way. We took 9 days total, including our travel to and from Iceland. Honestly, you could spend a lot more time there. Although after camping for 9 days, I was ready to get home to my bed and shower.
Our flight was just a hop from JFK to Reykjavik, Iceland. Philly is a closer airport to us, but we went with JFK to save some money.

Reykjavik:

Reykjavik is the capital and the busiest part of the country. It’s a nice city with a couple of vegan restaurants we tried and lots of museums, but we didn’t want to spend too much time there, since most of the things we wanted to do were along the Ring Road.

This was our first campsite. We were luckily not in a tent and had our camper van, and the amenities were decent, with showers and a nice cooking and cleaning area.

We walked around the city the first day and explored. This is a Lutheran church called Hallgrimskirkja. Good luck pronouncing that.

Iceland is rated at the top on the LGBT happiness index, and they have a street symbolizing pride, which I thought was cool.

 Exploring the Ring Road:

Our journey in our cozy camper van began as we set off from the city onto the Ring Road.

 Thingvellir National Park:

This is a beautiful park, which is also where Iceland’s first parliament was founded. It was one of our first stops, and luckily we got there early enough that the tourist groups hadn’t arrived, yet. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, even though we had to battle our way through gnats.

 Geysir:

This is actually the first geyser ever described in a printed source and the first known to modern Europeans. The word geyser comes from this geyser named Geysir!

I was amazed, because it erupts every several minutes. You can wait around for it to erupt as many times as you like. There is a crowd of people waiting, and you can sense the anticipation the more it starts bubbling.

 This is the top of the hill above the geyser.

Haafel Goat Farm:

There is a goat farm in Iceland that saved Icelandic goats from extinction. The country was nearing the last goats when the farm was started and the owners began breeding the goats again.

I met the goat from Game of Thrones!! The same goat that got picked up by Khaleesi’s dragon!

Game of Thrones does a lot of filming in Iceland, and this was one of the places they used.

I don’t know if I can describe how ecstatic I am to meet goats!!

They were very sweet, and would headbutt you if you stopped petting them; I want to adopt some goats.

 Continuing the Ring Road:

The view is wonderful wherever you turn.

 Our little camper van! We slept in the back of that! There’s just room enough for two people to stretch out.

 Camping:

I explained a little bit about how I survived eating vegan while camping here, but it was definitely a challenge. I learned how to use a camping stove. We also learned that Iceland doesn’t stock black beans in their grocery stores – where are my black beans at??

Myvatn Nature Baths:

The water in Iceland smells a little like eggs, because it is geothermal, but it doesn’t smell bad and is fine once you get used to it.

There are several hot springs you can swim in, and we stopped along our way at Myvatn to take a soak.

It was extremely relaxing, like the water was giving you a warm hug and massage at the same time.

 Husavik:

Husavik is a harbor town known for fishing and whale watching. We went on our first whale watching tour on a speed boat, and it was definitely a good choice. We saw so many whales, and we got incredibly close. Our tour guide called the big tour boat the “dinosaur.”
They gave us fun red suits and goggles to wear, and we even visited puffin island. We couldn’t get too close, but puffins are fast and cool to watch.

Sheep:

Sheep are everywhere! We had to drive carefully, because of the sheep that were sometimes in the road. There are actually over twice as many sheep as people in Iceland.

Dettifoss:

This was my favorite waterfall in Iceland. It was unlike any waterfall I’d ever scene! It is reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe.

It was also used during the opening scene of Prometheus, which is one reason it was one of the top waterfalls on our list to see.

Camping and exploring:

After our Dettifoss trip, we made it to a campsite and I was STARVING. I ate chickpeas straight out of the can, plus some PB and apple.

We did some more hiking around after that. These mounds were built as some sort of art exhibit in the outskirts of a small town we stopped in.

We stopped at a museum where a man sold things he found and collected, like shells and skulls, and there was a dog that played fetch with an old deflated soccer ball with the visitors.

The beaches were filled with black rocks. There is a large portion of Iceland that is volcanic, so the terrain ranges from green and verdant to vast, volcanic fields.

Glacial lagoon:

You can walk right up to the glacier at Vatnajokull Glacier. It is slowly melting each year; we saw a huge chunk break off and float away right in front of us.

There are also large chunks of ice that float onto the beach.

More sheep:

I have an obsession with the sheep. They looked so adorable.

Greg asked the lady who worked at the goat farm what the deal with all the sheep wandering around was, and she told us that in the summer, all the farmers let their sheep wander, and in the winter they collect them.

I wanted a picture with the sheep, but I kept telling Greg not to get too close, because the sheep were between us and a cliff, and the last thing I wanted was to scare a bunch of sheep off a cliff.

Waterfalls:

There are countless waterfalls in Iceland. Almost anywhere you turn, you can see a waterfall tumbling down the mountains. We stopped at several of the biggest ones, like Dettifoss above, but there were so many. This one is called Skogafoss:

We definitely enjoyed our trip to Iceland, and am so happy we got to go!
Next time, our plans will hopefully involve a little bit of hotel time, because I like my amenities and would never make it on Survivor or Bear Grylls’s Man vs Wild or any of those survival shows. It was totally worth it, though, and camper vanning our way through Iceland was a fantastic time.
Next trip, who knows? I am excited to plan our next adventure, wherever we decide it is.
food · travel

How to Eat Vegan While on a Camping Trip

Last month, my husband and I went on a 9-day camper van road trip around Iceland, and one of the biggest hurdles to deal with was finding food for ourselves that was vegan. We didn’t want to eat out every night, and most places didn’t have vegan options, anyway. Iceland is a pretty cool place, but fermented shark meat is not on my list of food to try.

If you ever thought about going vegan, you may be worried about what you would eat in unusual circumstances, like camping. Not to worry, though, you do not have to go hungry while all your friends are eating hot dogs.

#1 Research
If you are going to be camping for a while, check out what stores are nearby to find out if you will have access to fresh food along your way.

Before we went on our camping trip, I was a little worried and did some research about the shopping there. I found out that they would have plenty of grocery stores on our route.

#2 Be Inventive
Eating veggie burgers every day can get repetitive, so mix it up and combine ingredients you already have.

For example, for lunch on our camping trip, we sometimes sliced avocado with a sprinkle of salt along with some Paprika flavored chips on top of a bagel. Combined with fresh fruit and a can of foreign Coke, it does not make for a bad lunch.

#3 Prepare

Bring along the appropriate equipment, like a camping stove, pots, pans, and kitchen utensils. Also bring whatever food along that you know you won’t have access to once you get there.

I recommend bringing along your favorite energy bars for those emergency moments when you need to eat something right away.

#4 Beans!!
Beans are your best friend. Beans are full of protein and fiber and go with a lot of foods. I admit to eating chickpeas directly out of a can in a particularly hungry moment on our trip.

#5 Plan some recipes ahead of time
Here are some ideas:
Breakfast foods – Oatmeal, fresh fruits, and bagels + peanut butter + sliced bananas
Tacos – Tacos are super easy and you can add whatever filling you want. Usually, rice, beans, salsa and taco seasoning are easy to find.
Wraps – Chickpeas, rice, salsa, and avocado, or other ingredients you may like are easy to put in a wrap.
Pasta – Noodles & pasta sauce (to keep yourself healthy, sprinkle some nutritional yeast on top, vegans!)
Burgers – If you have a cooler, veggie burgers/sausages are awesome so you don’t have to feel like you are missing out on traditional campfire food.

#6 Have fun, eat cookies
Did you know Oreos are vegan? You can still enjoy lots of things that happen to be vegan, like everything on PETA’s accidentally vegan food list.

I’m crossing my fingers they bring back S’mores Oreos.

Do you have any favorite camping foods?
What’s the longest camping trip you’ve been on?

fashion · travel

Packing for Iceland: What to Wear on a 9-Day Trip

I’m in the midst of working on moving posts over, so you may notice weird things, please ignore them, thanks!

The months are sneaking by, and suddenly we are one month away from vacation! Greg and I have planned a trip to Iceland this year. I use the word planned very roughly, because I have about a thousand things to do before I can say everything is planned. Itineraries, people. It is my first time making one for real.

Naturally, what I was worried about is what I would wear in Iceland. Thankfully, I think I have a basic idea now. There may be some more things coming along, and maybe I will do an update before I leave if there are. Here is my plan for now.
This is a summer wardrobe plan; if you were going in winter, you would probably need lots more layers and sweaters.

Tops & Dresses


Swimsuit & Bottoms
Jackets
Columbia black coat with hood (similar) // Vegan leather jacket (similar)

Shoes & Accessories
Merrell hiking shoes // Steve Madden Troopa boots // Red scarf (similar) // Flannel scarf (similar)

I considered buying some new boots, because mine are several years old and the soles are cracking, but since good quality vegan boots are super expensive, I decided to get mine repaired instead and throw in some Dr. Scholl’s insoles for comfort.

The repair cost is not cheap, but cheaper than a new pair of shoes, and I get to keep my favorite boots. I would hate to get rid of them after taking them everywhere with me for so long. Note: my current boots are NOT vegan, but I bought them before I went vegan and decided that I will use everything I already have.

Most of our hiking will be done wearing the hiking shoes, since they are supposed to be able to dry very quickly if they get wet.

Have you ever been to Iceland? What are your clothes packing essentials?
travel

Watkins Glen in NY

When we heard about there being a park that looks like something out of Lord of the Rings, naturally, we had to go there. So, we took a trip to NY.

Every other house we passed on the way there had at least one cow and/or horse in the yard. It was magical. Not like the majestic cyborg (beautiful, but HUGE) horses that clop through Philadelphia, with a carriage of people in tow. Although, I was wondering if they were cold, because it had snowed the day before, and I was freezing!

Greg made fun of me, because I only brought one coat. Luckily, he thought to bring an extra coat, a hat, and a pair of gloves. It makes me seriously reconsider the ratio of practical thinking in this relationship.

We stopped at the Glen Mountain Market Bakery and Deli before our hike, because we were voracious by that point, and they actually had a ton of vegan options. I got Jackson’s Revenge, a tofu concoction with sprouts & spicy mustard. Pretty delicious, although I always prefer fries over chips.

Then we went straight to Watkins Glen State Park. So, when they said that it looks like the setting in Lord of the Rings, they were not lying. I felt like I stepped right into Rivendell, and freaking Legolas was going to pop out and declaim, “Something draws near, I can feel it.”

Clearly, Gollum lives in a cavern here somewhere.

Then, we had to walk up a massive hill, and I just wanted to crawl up like a baby bear.

It was impressive. The gorge has been eroded away to where it is now over a period of 12,000 years.

You get to walk all over and up close. There’s even a spot where you can walk behind a waterfall. The elevation goes up to 1010 feet, so from the bottom to the top of the gorge is quite tall.

We found a spooky building, so, of course Greg asked me to stand in it and create a photo of unimaginable horror. Frightening, no?

The trails were well-made compared to other trails we’ve seen. They have workers whose job it is to hang from the rock walls and break off frozen rocks that are hanging over trails, after the cold seasons.

We had fun..lots and lots of fun.

Then we finally drug our tired selves back, first to Philly, where we tore through our food so fast that I didn’t take any pictures. I got a vegan fried chicken po boy and it tasted like and was the best thing ever. Then we came back home, where we will hopefully sleep sound after a busy day.

Are there any other magical places I should check out?

food · travel · weekend

The Magic Apparating Car

I know, bad bad blogger! I took a week off, which turned into a month.. But hi :).

Please let me tell you a story about me being dumb so that you will hopefully forget all about this.

I went to the car dealership today to get my oil changed etc, and the guy looked at my car while we are in the garage, taking down the mileage on his paper. Then, he asked me to come over to his desk (still inside the garage). So, my back was turned to where we left my car.

About 30 seconds later, I see a car just like mine pull up in the lane in front of me, and I say, “OOH, another one!!” I have a unique-looking car, so I get excited when I see another (it looks like this).

The guy looked at me and said nothing, but I could tell what he was thinking.

I realized my terrible mistake about five seconds later.. that is my car. My car is able to move from behind me to in front of me without the use of magic or cloning itself. I was laughing so hard, I can be so dumb sometimes.

Last month, for my birthday, Greg took me to see Wicked, which has been my dream for a long time. Basically, it was one of the most amazing things we’ve ever seen and there were tears. Mine, not Greg’s. He didn’t even shed any over my restaurant choices.

We got asked by a ton of people in costumes to take pictures with them. Just don’t go near those guys dressed as Woody, ’cause that is effing creepy.

The vegan restaurants we tried were delicious!! My favorites are still closer to home, in Philly. Not that I’m going to argue with any burger with two onion rings on it. This is the Skyscraper from Blossom du Jour.

Have you been to see any musicals or shows?
Which ones do you want to see?

hiking · park · travel · waterfalls · weekend

Weekend Adventures

I am SO pooped!! Just spent all morning at the DMV and spent an ungodly amount of money to renew my title and transfer it to Delaware. No sales tax is awesome, but 400 bucks to drive around here?? They are out of their mind!

On the bright side, our 3-day weekend was fantastic. Greg and I took a trip to Ricketts Glen State Park to see PA’s waterfalls, one of which Greg almost immediately fell into. He refused to wear the proper footwear and the first waterfall we get to, he almost tumbles right into. I’m sure he will disagree with the details of this story, but whatever, it’s my blog. Wear proper WATERFALL SHOES!

His beard also came along. We will miss you, beard. He had to shave it off yesterday, because he can’t have it at work, and he is starting back today.

When I get into a woodland-type scenario, I automatically begin to prance everywhere.

The prancing makes me happy.

Greg has a fascination with throwing things into waterfalls. When we were in Niagara Falls, he threw a piece of hard candy tumbling down. Here he is staring wistfully at a stick he just threw in.

These were some crazy big waterfalls! The trail was not easy; we hiked up and down steep stone steps covered with mud and water. We saw a total of 18 waterfalls, the highest of which is 94 feet tall.

I can’t help myself around large, climb-y things.

Did you go anywhere this weekend?
Are you a fan of hiking?