Since returning from my Asian Extravaganza, my budget has required me to stay local.  Thankfully, this is the best time of year to really appreciate the Midwest.  The weather is a perfect 55-65, leaves are turning colors and starting to fall, and pumpkin-spiced everything is back in action.  Last year, I organized an adventure day with a few friends to an apple orchard & brewery in Indiana.  This year, we decided to travel north.  Mission: New Glarus Brewery and Edwards Apple Orchard West.

Found an eponymous key store en route

Found an eponymous key store en route

Barrels of Beer

Barrels of Beer

Brewery Systems

Brewery Systems

Science of Beer

Science of Beer

Enjoying their brews

Enjoying their brews

Beer tasting like a boss

Beer tasting like a boss

Apples Galore

Apples Galore

Fall Delights

Fall Delights

The start of the orchard

U-Pick

This trip was the perfect fall kick-off, and there are so many fun filled fall activities to look forward to!!  Next stop:  The Morton Arboretum.  I hope you’re all enjoying your ciders, Oktoberfests, and pumpkin-spiced deliciousness!


Bali

15Sep14

Ok, picture this – you’re having a less than stellar day, and need to send yourself to a “happy place” mentally.  What do you think of?  Are there lush landscapes and mountains in the clouds?  Is there a sandy beach with bright blue water and pink sunsets?  Perhaps you’re a little more creative and are picturing emerald green rice terraces and palm trees.  Whatever the case may be, Bali has it.  It is a real live happy place.

I personally was most excited for the Bali portion of our Asian extravaganza.  I thought it might be the most relaxing part of the trip, but I was wrong.  Very very wrong.  We did it all in Bali, and I left feeling like I still needed more.  There was the sunrise volcano hike at 3:30am, white-water rafting, a shipwreck scuba dive, coffee plantation visit…  it was an adventurers paradise.  Silly me for thinking that I’d go to Bali and sit on a beach, although I did insist on finding time to park in some sand and catch the sunset.  As easy as it is to get caught up in the many activities that Bali has to offer, you still leave feeling strangely relaxed.  It’s like you’ve just been to your own personal paradise, and life is just so good.

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Here’s the thing…  I didn’t really know what to expect with Kuala Lumpur.  For one, we were flying Malaysia Airlines to get there and they’ve had some pretty unfortunate press lately.  Secondly, it’s a very different cultural experience and I was a little concerned about the local customs and lifestyle.  The whole thing seemed a little dicey.

Thankfully, I had nothing to worry about.  Flying Malaysia Airlines was a very pleasant experience, and the cultural differences made the visit that much more interesting!  That’s one of the most awesome things about travel, right?  You step outside of your comfort zone and put yourself in completely unfamiliar territory.  If that doesn’t toot your horn, than I don’t know what will.

When we were in KL, we checked out Central Market and the Petronas Towers (currently the tallest twin buildings in the world).  Then we took a tour to the outskirts of KL and the Batu Caves which is a Hindu temple built into limestone.  Although we were only there for 2 nights, I felt like we saw everything we needed to see.  Some of my travel buddies thought KL was the highlight of the trip, but for me, that’s Bali.  Ah, Bali…  those glorious pictures are on deck, so stay tuned.

 

Entrance to Batu Caves - Lord Murugan

Entrance to Batu Caves – Lord Murugan

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272 steps leading up

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Inside the cave

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Hindu statue/painting

Top of Petronas

Top of Petronas

Petronas Towers

Petronas Towers


A few weeks ago I was looking forward to a vacation in SE Asia, and then I blinked…  and now I’m back in Chicago feeling jet-lagged, with some vivid memories of a Balinese Bruno Mars look-a-like singing a cover of AC/DC, ridiculous sunsets, an infinity pool looking over Singapore, and a craving for chili crab.

When we initially started planning, we came to the realization that this trip was going to be epic…  and epically expensive.  Hence, we adopted the term “FuckingYOLO”.  Shelling out the extra money to stay at the hotel in Singapore with the infinity pool on the 57th floor?  #FuckingYOLO.  A second helping at the breakfast buffet?  #FuckingYOLO.  An off-the-beaten path hike up a volcano at 4am to see the sunrise in Bali?  #FuckingYOLO.  One more drink?  #FuckingYOLO.  You get the point.  We wanted to experience it all, no matter the cost (within reason, obviously) in sleep, money, or calories.  So, here I am…  back at home with a few extra pounds, a recovering bank account, hundreds of pictures to sort through, and the satisfaction of knowing that I vacation like a fucking pro.

Our first stop on this adventure was Singapore.  I felt like we (maybe inadvertently) planned this trip perfectly and spent just the right amount of time in each place.  We had 3 nights in Singapore, with the last night at Marina Bay Sands hotel.  The place lives up to the hype and it has it’s own surrounding master plan complex with a mall, the Art & Science Museum, beautiful gardens, and a plethora of other developments.  As an added bonus, the Art & Science Museum just happened to have an exhibit covering the life and work of Annie Leibovitz.  As to be expected, it was spectacular.  A little photographic inspiration was a perfect way to get myself even more hyped to document this trip, and I think I got the best shots of Singapore that night.  Here are my favorites.

Singapore Flyer & Cloud Forest in the Marina Bay Gardens

Singapore Flyer & Cloud Forest in the Marina Bay Gardens

Art & Science Museum

Art & Science Museum

The hotel to out-hotel all other hotels

The hotel to out-hotel all other hotels

The ridiculous pool

Ridiculous pool

Singapore Skyline

Singapore Skyline

Reflections

Reflections

On deck:  Kuala Lumpur.

 

 

 


The Rem Dogg

04Aug14

I truly believe that you don’t necessarily choose the dog that you adopt.  Sometimes, they choose you.

Remy wasn’t supposed to be mine.  I had my eye on a low-rider Corgi named Penny, and had started the process to adopt her.  My mom had just adopted a dog as well – a bouncy 4-month old puppy named Remy, and I picked him up from the rescue and drove him home to S. Florida for her.  He was the cutest, most irresistibly fluffy little munchkin that I had ever seen.  Somewhere in that 3 hour ride to South Florida, we had completely bonded.  During that weekend, he would cry by the door whenever I left the house, and would wait there until I returned.   When I left to go back to Orlando, I missed him and his adorable fuzzy face.  I decided to ask my mom if she would let me have him.  The answer, of course, was yes**.

What can I say…  sometimes, Mom knows best.  Remy is an awesome companion and snuggle buddy, and could quite possibly take the title for the most well-behaved, low-maintenance dog ever.  I may be a little biased, but I’ve heard from multiple sources that he’s impressively docile and well-mannered.  So it’s not just my opinion, I swear.  :)  That little pup who stole my heart on I-95 will be turning 8 this year, and I honestly can’t imagine life without him.  I mean, you KNOW it’s love when you’re willing to spend way more time outside during a polar vortex than absolutely necessary.  No matter what, he offers me so much more than I could ever give to him.  There’s truly something magical about dogs and their ability to make you smile and give you love when you need it most.

As evidenced throughout this blog, Remy is one of my favorite subjects to photograph.  He’s also one of the more resistant (and ADD) subjects,  so when I’m able to actually capture a good photograph, it’s a pretty big deal.  The park district just built a beautiful new dog park in my neighborhood and I had just picked up a new lens, so obviously I wanted to take advantage of both.   Although Remy doesn’t always cooperate, I was pretty happy with these 2 shots.  They’re a reminder of the puppy who captured my heart with his floppy ears and sweet brown eyes, and I’m forever grateful that he chose me.

PSA:  If you are considering a pet, please do not overlook adoption!  There are 6-8 million dogs and cats in US shelters, and approximately 3-4 million are euthanized every year.  You could save a life, and I guarantee you that an adopted companion animal would repay you tenfold with happiness and love.  Please adopt, don’t shop!!!

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All smiles at the new park!

**This plan is exactly what my mom had intended.  She is partial to Border Collies and thought that I should have one too.  I still love Corgi’s, but fate and a little trickery got in the way this time.

 




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