Category Archives: Weekender

Lobstas and Lighthouses

They say that flight attending isn’t a job, it’s a lifestyle. I’ve definitely had a small taste of that over the last few weeks. I’ve barely worked, although part of it is because there’s nothing really good to pick up and part of it is just that I needed some time off after the grueling training. I’ve actually traveling more days than I’ve worked, which is amazing for the soul but horrible for the wallet.

Nubble Light, Ogunquit, Maine

Nubble Light, Ogunquit, Maine

I’m not really sure what the mysterious allure is when I’m in uniform, but it’s as if people look at me differently. Maybe they think of glamour and jetsetting, and hey, I’m fine with that. Everything is definitely new and exciting to me right now, so maybe I just give off the new hire glow. I’m not sure what it is, but I hope I never lose the sense of wonder that I have and that other people seem to have when they see me in uniform.

As far as working, I’ve done 2 turns (where I go and come back in the same day) to Chicago and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. Those are tiring and I don’t get a layover, so so far I don’t think they’re as cool. I also had a trip to Miami, I laidover there but I slept all day because the flight got in early in the morning. Basically I haven’t done anything cool as far as work is concerned yet, but I’m still getting used to it.

I’ve been much more interested in using my travel benefits, which my boyfriend loves so far! (stay tuned for his upcoming unnamed travel blog, he takes much better photos than me) He flew out to LA to visit me after graduation and we roadtripped it up to Monterey along the famed Highway 1, or PCH as we say in California. It was a drive-until-we-drop type trip, with many random detours to places like Ostrich Land, a tourist trap where we paid to feed ostriches. A few days later to decided to fly out to Boston and roadtrip up the other Highway 1, up the New England coast to Maine, solely in search of stuffing ourselves with lobsta. We had a wonderful lobsta dinner at The Lobster Shack, a place in Port Elizabeth with a gorgeous setting next to a lighthouse with waves crashing into rocky cliffs below. I highly recommend their fresh catch!

My next work destination is Toronto, and fun destination with the boyfriend is New Orleans in about a week. Our travel list grows ever longer however, and to choose we basically just have to flip a coin because the sky is literally the limit.

Big Sur, California

Big Sur, California

The Stanley Hotel: Redrum or Humdrum?

I recently visited Colorado for the first time to visit my boyfriend.  He works at Copper Mountain in Summit County and I stayed with him there for the majority of the time.  Both being fans of things that are historic, creepy and reportedly haunted, he suggested we drive to Estes Park and stay at the famed Stanley Hotel for the night, to which I enthusiastically agreed.  If it was good enough for Stephan King, it was good enough for me.

The Stanley Hotel's spooky exterior

The Stanley Hotel’s spooky exterior

We drove to Estes Park (in November mind you, it was very cold) and after passing a large herd of elk, arrived at the large, white hotel which looms almost menacingly over the town.  After a quick look around the lobby, which was adorned with dozens of small, decorated Christmas trees, we began to haggle for a room.  The front desk guy Patrick gave us a choice of a roomy, more expensive room on the second or third floors, or a “cozy” room on the supposedly haunted fourth floor of the historic main building.  After a quick tour of the cozy room, we decided that we didn’t need much space and would room with the fourth floor ghosts.

Considering the hotel is over a hundred years old, I expected the room to be rather dated.  Much to my surprise, I was met with modern amenities such as a flat screen TV and an iPod dock.  Although the history is easily felt throughout the hotel, I was satisfied that I would be comfortable and “cozy” under my lovely down comforter.  The only complaint I had about the room was that the water from the shower barely got to lukewarm, and a hot shower is important to me in freezing Colorado.  Other than that, I thought our accommodations were more than adequate.  That was, of course, if the ghosts left us alone all night.

One simply cannot stay at the Stanley Hotel and not take the night ghost tour, so of course we immediately signed up for it.  After a lovely dinner at the Rock Inn (thanks for the recommendation, Patrick), we met our group down at the Archives room on the basement floor.  Our guide, ParaNorma, took us out to the Concert Hall, the fourth most haunted building in the United States.  Whose list that is, I don’t know, but the ranking made it sound spooky anyway.  With the lights off, ParaNorma explained the history of the building and the ghost sightings and left us for a few minutes to take photos and conduct our own investigations.  I didn’t see or hear a thing, but my boyfriend had an object move in a room where he was all alone.  Ghost activity or shoddy stacking skills?  We’ll never know.  Next we were taken downstairs to interact with Lucy, a resident spirit.  We witnessed a door close on its own, but ParaNorma was suspiciously close to the door for me to call it spirit-driven.

Come play with us, Danny!

I felt like we were touring a real-life Clue mansion as we went to the Billiard Room and the Music Room, two places F.O. Stanley and his wife are still reported to be seen.  I kept an eye out for Professor Plum and Colonel Mustard as we walked through, although again I saw no evidence of ghostly activity.  Next we moved onto the MacGregor Room, which is used for weddings, banquets and the occasional haunting.

ParaNorma also explained the most haunted guest rooms to us, which are 217 and 401.  A late housekeeper supposedly haunts 217, where Stephen King stayed.  The story goes that he experienced this haunting and was so impressed with the overall creepiness of the hotel that his writer’s block vanished like an apparition in the night and he busted out The Shining shortly thereafter.  Jim Carrey also stayed in 217 whilst filming Dumb and Dumber, and was so freaked out by whatever happened (he won’t talk about it) that he left the hotel and only agreed to step foot in it again to do his scenes.  As for 401, the ghost of a man named Lord Dunraven can be felt there.  He was the original owner of the land that the Stanley sits on and loved it so much that he never left.  He reportedly was a lady’s man and likes to try to get the attention of women who stay in his room.  Various other unnamed spirits supposedly roam freely on the fourth floor, making a good night’s sleep for me seem like it was going to be impossible.

I was definitely disappointed when I saw and heard nothing paranormal.  I am definitely open to it and would love to have a ghost experience, but it didn’t happen.  My boyfriend said maybe I was trying too hard, and maybe he was right.  A young girl did snap a compelling photo of a female figure (complete with long, flowing dress) next to the piano in the Concert Hall, when her next photo of the same spot shows nothing.  I was impressed by that photo the most, and it leads me to believe that although I personally did not experience any spirit activity, The Stanley Hotel is a perfectly creepy and natural place for ghosts to hang out.  Maybe next time…

Camping at Carpinteria

I was very excited when I learned that my family was going camping at Carpinteria State Beach. I went there a lot as a kid, with my whole huge Italian family, as the last bastion of a fun time at the end of summer just before school started, but I hadn’t actually camped there in a several years. The memories flooded back to me as we pulled in, towing our tent trailer behind us. Even though it was only my immediate family in attendance this time, I felt like a kid again.

A Carpinteria sunset

The weather was warm and the campground was full. It’s a great campground that usually sells out months in advance, but we were able to jump in when someone cancelled at the last minute. There are many options for happy campers, with one campground that allows all manners of tents and RVs, and another that provides hookups for those that like to be plugged in. All sites are a maximum of a two-minute walk from the beach, and are divided by a large freshwater lagoon that the state park system is trying to maintain as a natural marshland by protecting it and replanting native fauna.

Freshwater Lagoon

The campground and state beach are parks that have survived the recent California budget cuts that devastated the state park system. I don’t see how they could afford to close down Carpinteria anyway; it’s a huge income-earner. The campground has its own sense of community among its campers, often complemented by activities and events hosted by the park administrators. This time, there was a Johnny Cash tribute at the small amphitheater (I didn’t attend, everyone in my household likes to go to bed at 8pm. WTF?). During the daytime, there are many things to do if you decide you don’t want to indulge in a bit of sun-worship. There are natural tide pools located a short walk south down the beach, extensive bike paths throughout the campground and beach area, as well at the cute little town of Carpinteria itself. There are many places in short walking distance from the campground to get something to eat, or the town is just cute enough to walk and enjoy the late summer sunny weather.

I, however, chose to sun-worship. I took a walk down the beach with my dad, and then decided to enjoy some rays so I could add a little to my (non-existent) tan. That’s what I chose to do this time around in Carpinteria, but every trip has been different and has brought good memories to add to my archives. I strongly suggest making a visit to Carpinteria to experience its mix of charm, culture, and natural setting that inspired the California politicians to rescue it from the chopping block.

How YOU Doin’?

I’ve been wanting to go on a trip to Vegas lately, and I finally booked a trip.  Although I still want to go on a trip with a friend or friends, this trip is for a different reason; I’m going to audition to be a contestant on Who Wants to be a Millionaire.  Don’t laugh!  I’ve been watching reruns of it lately, and I figure, why not?  I know a lot of random trivia, I’m personable, and I definitely could use the money (mostly for Semester at Sea).  The auditions are in Vegas on July 29th, so I decided to take my family along as my mom and I audition.  I paid for a room for two nights at the Excalibur just for fun, and it’s pretty cheap right now.  Two nights in Vegas, to answer some trivia questions and maybe lounge by the pool (hopefully this sunburn will be healed by then).  I can’t really get wild and crazy with my parents there, but that’s okay with me; as long as I get to go on a mini-road trip, I’m fine.  Pics and a post to come!

As for a Semester at Sea update, there’s not much to tell right now.  Yesterday I sent out a passport photo and two copies of my passport to their office.  That was my first step because I figured that it was the easiest.  I’m currently trying to figure out travel vaccinations and visas for entries into Ghana, India, Vietnam, and China.  I have the choice of getting all the visas myself or paying for a package deal, and I might just pay for the package deal because I’ve never dealt with embassies or visa stuff before, and I don’t want to mess it up (we all know my luck!)  Then when I start school, I’ll tackle the task of organizing finances.  I’m a little nervous about that part, but as long as I keep on top of it I’m sure I can figure something out.  Cross your fingers for me, I have a huge logistical journey to figure out until January, and then the actual physical journey starts!

Travel Seeds and the People That Water Them

I’ve always had a pretty easy time of justifying doing things I probably shouldn’t by asking myself “when else will I be able to do it?”  Mostly this reasoning just applies to traveling and paying for experiences that I probably can’t afford at the time but do anyway, because hey, when else will I be able to do it?  Then when my pesky logical brain gets in the way, I call up someone who always tells me what I want to hear (which is always “DO IT!”) and they tell me to, in fact, DO IT, so then I DO.

This is precisely what happened the weekend when one minute I was doing homework, the next minute I was on the freeway on my way to San Francisco.  It was the very beginning of April, and the first nice weekend weather-wise of the year.  My roommate had previously rejected my idea of taking a leisurely drive into the local mountains (it’s hear fault!), so I had hunkered down and decided to study economics or geology or something equally as boring.  Then, in the mysterious way that it usually happens, an idea seed got planted in my head.  It grew and grew until I could no longer concentrate, and suddenly I was looking up weather and hotels in San Francisco.  I mean, when would I ever be within close driving distance to San Francisco in the foreseeable future?  Can you see my logic??  Tell me you can!  Then after thoughts of money woes and gas prices, I called my mom so she would tell me to DO IT, and then I DID.

Within an hour of the travel seed being planted, I had thrown some clean undies and my toothbrush in my bag and had headed west on the I-80.  I tend to base my opinion of my own company in the car dependant upon what I’m doing, and at that moment, I loved my own company.  It seems a spontaneous road trip really bonds me with me.  Cheap fast good, some good tunes, and a new destination always turns my mood right around.  I wish I could bottle that and sell it!

I made the drive and found my way to my hotel, then decided to settle in and enjoy the luxury of being totally alone in my own space for the night (having a roommate can do much damages on the nerves).

I spent the weekend relaxing in the warm sun, during the first nice days of the spring.  I visited Fisherman’s Wharf (where I ate some delicious clam chowder), toured the U.S.S. Pampanito, and indulged in a hot fudge sundae in Ghiradelli Square.  In the midst of my relaxation and full tummy, I laid in the grass in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge and soaked in the sun.  It was the most relaxed I had been in months, and it’s sad to me that I had forgotten what that feeling was like.

Technically, my side trip to San Francisco was my first solo trip to a big city.  It was a liberating experience, one I hope to repeat again and again in my life.  I’ve decided that travel feels good, and that seems to be all the justification I need.  If you have a chance, do it.  I feel that regret is worse than being in debt.  Others might feel differently, but I’d rather take the risks in life than regret not taking them when I had the chance.