Honeymoon Part II: Wakatobi, Indonesia

My fav little fish I became obsessed with, the Orbicular Burrfish, whose eyes look like opals.

After an amazing time in Boreno, we flew to Bali for one day, two nights, before our flight to Wakatobi to board our dive yacht. Here is a link to all of the Indonesia photos.

In Bali we stayed at the Fairmont Sanur Beach Bali. Our room was spectacular. It was literally larger than our apartment with a huge room that served as a dining room with a flat screen TV (though of course we didn’t waste precious time in Bali watching TV) and a seated bench along the whole side of the far wall overlooking the resort and beach. The bathroom was also huge with a giant bathtub, a stream shower, and even a separate room with a massage table.  We arrived to the hotel fairly late in the evening, so we didn’t have time to enjoy the amenities that day, but the following day we woke up around 5:30am with the sunrise, ordered in breakfast at our large dining room with the spectacular view, and then spent the entire day reading and swimming in the pool. That evening I got to enjoy the bathtub I admired since I got there. Kev even ordered me champagne while I read and soaked in the tub (woot woot!).

The next morning we left early to catch our flight to Wakatobi, a luxury dive resort in southeastern Sulawesi, Indonesia. As their site describes, “In a tranquil island setting far from crowds and cities, with no other divers for at least 100 miles, Wakatobi seamlessly blends five-star amenities and civilized comforts with a pristine natural environment; a pairing that has secured its reputation as one of the world’s finest resorts.” Since Kev and I are certified Advanced Open Water scuba divers, we chose to stay aboard the luxury dive yacht Pelagian. Although it was a bit exhausting I’m so glad that we chose to stay on the dive yacht where we had exclusive diving access to remote and untouched sites. Additionally, the yacht itself was really nice. The Pelagian is almost 60 years old, but was recently re-done. She is 115 feet with only luxury cabins for the guests. Up to ten guests can stay on the Pelagian accompanied by a crew of 12. On our trip, Kev and I only shared the yacht with a family of four from Australia. Lucky for us, they were super cool and we all got along great which is important especially when you’re all with each other for the majority of the day between all the dives and meals for several days straight.

The next several days were a blur of dives. Kevin normally goes through his air pretty quickly, so he wanted to become Nitrox certified which of course I got sucked into doing with him as well so he didn’t have to take the course by himself, but it ended up being the best decision. Diving with enriched air allows you to dive for a longer period of time and do more repetitive dives with shorter surface intervals due to the higher blend of oxygen (30%-33% oxygen as opposed to 21% in normal air). There was so much to see on our dives that we were both so grateful for the extra time we got to spend down there.

We did four dives a day for five full days and overall we completed 23 dives over six days. Normally our dives are about 20-30 minutes, but the Nitrox allowed us to dive for 60 minutes at a time, so all in all, we spent almost a full day underwater.  I also celebrated my 29th birthday on the yacht–not a bad way to ring in another fun year of life!

Kev and I have done quite a few dives at this point and Wakatobi was definitely up there as one of the best. My only complaint was the trash floating in the ocean on some of the dives closer to villages. The local people of some of the villages just throw their trash in the ocean and don’t understand the impact.

Some of my highlights of the dives were seeing the orbicular burrfish, pufferfish, cuttlefish, clown fish, mandarin fish that we only saw in one particular area at dusk when they came out to spawn, an octopus, large tuna,  shrimp, and a pod dolphins that swam along the tender of our boat on our way back to the ship from a late afternoon dive.


Honeymoon Part I: Borneo

After getting married at the courthouse, Kevin and I embarked on three and a half week honeymoon adventure with the first destination being a National Geographic Expedition in Borneo. But first, we had a long way to get there. Our flight left on Wednesday, April 5, at 1:45am to Hong Kong and after a short layover we continued on to Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia.

Below is a copy of our Nat Geo Expedition itinerary with some of the highlights and here is a link to all of the Borneo photos that we took and that our guide took throughout the trip:

Day 1 — Arrive Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

We arrived in Sabah’s capital city, Kota Kinabalu—known locally as KK (also very apropos for us Kayla and Kevin newlyweds)—on the northwestern coast of Malaysian Borneo. We stayed at Hyatt Regency Kota Kinabalu in the heart of the city and met our guide for the trip, a native of Borneo, Bedley. We didn’t have much of an agenda on our day of arrival but Kev and I ventured out to a local Chinese spot for some authentic rice noodles in spicy coconut broth with tofu. I also had calamansi juice for the first time. For dinner Bedley took us to another local vegetarian spot for a four course meal.

Day 2 — Arrive Gunung Mulu National Park

The next morning we caught a flight to Gunung Mulu National Park, home to an astonishing network of underground caves set amid jungle-clad mountains, deep canyons, and rivers. “Named a UNESCO World Heritage site for its biodiversity and karst features, the park is dominated by the peaks of Gunung Mulu and Gunung Api.” We walked through one of the largest-known cave passages in the world to explore the enormous Deer Cave and ventured into nearby caves adorned with unusual subterranean flora and limestone formations. At dusk we sat in a viewing area to watch the spectacle of over a million bats exiting the cave in swirling black clouds that kind of looked like giant black strands of DNA.

It was dark and rainy on the walk back but luckily we had headlamps and ponchos/rain jackets and we still spotted critters on the way back including a spiderhunter, an oriental dwarf kingfisher, and two giant walking sticks.

In Mulu we stayed at the Mulu Marriott Resort & Spa which is a super nice resort especially when you consider that you’re literally in the jungle. Our room there was super nice.

Day 3 — Gunung Mulu National Park

We returned to the park the next morning to explore Clearwater Cave and the Cave of the Winds. Instead of walking on a boardwalk in the national park though we hopped on long, thin river boats and cruised down the river to our destination. The Cave of the Winds was given its name based on the fact that there are three openings and you can feel the draft of the wind in certain places. My favorite was Clearwater Cave though because it is amazingly huge. The whole time I couldn’t stop thinking how amazing that it is a natural formation. It kind of felt like Dracula’s cave if Dracula lived in a mansion.

Later, we visited  a village of the forest-dwelling Penan people—one of the last surviving hunter-gatherer tribes in Malaysia. We learned about the Penan’s ancient way of life, which is under threat from commercial logging and deforestation.

Days 4 & 5 — Sandakan/Sepilok/Kinabatangan River

Sunday was our last morning in Mulu before continuing on our Nat Geo expedition in Boreno. Although we didn’t have a morning activity scheduled, we convinced Bedley to take us out for a morning hike. We went back to the Mulu National Park entrance and walked the Botanical trail for two hours.

After lunch we flew to the city of Sandakan on Borneo’s eastern coast for the night and the next morning we headed to the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve. First we took a behind-the-scenes tour of the nearby Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center and saw the cute little sun bears being released to forage in designated areas. We had a pretty good view, especially with our binoculars. After we visited the orangutan rehabilitation center where orangutans rescued from captivity are reintroduced to the wild. That was also amazing and we got really close to a few of them. They are quite cheeky. Kev even got some footage of a man almost getting pantsed by a large orangutan.

After the conservation center and rehabilitation center we boarded a local boat for a two-hour ride along the Kinabatangan River to our next lodge. We stayed at Sukau Rainforest Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge built by native Borneans to celebrate—and help protect—the riverine rain forest and the communities that depend upon it. At dusk we hoped on an electric-motored boat to look for orangutans, pygmy elephants, and proboscis monkeys and boy were we lucky–we saw all of them! It was literally a dream come true to see a whole herd of pygmy elephants by the edge of the river eating bamboo. We got like twenty feet away, it was so incredible.

Day 6 — Kinabatangan River

We woke up early the next morning for a wildlife sun set cruise where we spotted more proboscis monkeys (the Dutch man looking money with no pantaloones) and long-tailed and pig-tailed macaques. Then we went to Gomantong Caves, home to thousands of bats and swiftlets. It was interesting but the smell of bat/bird dung was a bit overpowering and I was kind of terrified of the millions of cockroaches and giant centipedes scurrying around. eeek!

That afternoon we had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with the lodge’s in-house orangutan expert which was really informative; I love what the eco lodge is doing in terms of education and preservation. At dusk we embarked on another river safari to search for monkeys, owls, and crocodiles. We got the see the pygmy elephants again, a baby crocodile, and a buffy fish owl (with one eye! Bedley said another animal likely spit poison in it’s other eye when the owl was trying to catch it).

Days 7 & 8 — Danum Valley Conservation Area

After Sukau Rainforest, we traveled (plane then car) to the valley of the Danum River, known for its 169 square miles of virtually undisturbed primary rain forest—which offers exceptional wildlife viewing. Bird life is equally diverse, with some 275 recorded species. We stayed at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge which was really nice.

We went on a canopy bridge walk in the late afternoon which was a lot of fun and prepped us for the next day (we also learned that Kevin is kind of afraid of heights tehe).

Day 9 — Danum Valley Conservation Area

The next morning we went on a somewhat strenuous hike but the view was rewarding. On the way our guide also shared that as a punishment, long ago felons used to have to carry wooden tombs of the dead up the mountain and stacked in holes within the limestone. It was super humid and we were sweating profusely, so we stopped on the way down by a waterfall to splash around in a rock-sculpted pool.

That afternoon we went on the canopy bridge for another walk. We were super fortunate to spot a male orangutan climbing high in the trees to a nearby female and we also come across a group of red leaf langurs which are my new fav primates. On the way back from our hike, Bedley and Borneo Rainforest Lodge had a nice surprise for us. We had a romantic snack of fruit and dessert and beer overlooking the river.

We ended the day with an evening hike where we saw a deer, snakes, and a bunch of frogs.

Day 10, April 15 — Kota Kinabalu/Depart

We woke up super early the next morning to see the sun rise over Danum Valley which was a really nice way to end our trip. After a light breakfast we caught a flight back to Kota Kinabalu for the night before catching another flight to continue on to Bali.

Borneo is a beautiful country and being able to go with National Geographic Expeditions was super special. I feel so lucky that we saw almost all of the critters I was hoping to see during the trip including the pygmy elephants, sun bears, proboscis monkeys, and red leaf langurs. The rainforest lodges we stayed at were also all really nice and I felt at peace being out in the wilderness. Lastly, I love the itinerary Nat Geo put together and I’m glad we had an amazing guide that we enjoyed spending an entire week with. I would love to go back to Borneo someday and I definitely plan on going on another trip with National Geographic.

 Also, here is a link if you’re interested in adopting an orangutan and supporting the effort to sustain the endangered species.


Wedding and Honeymoon

On Tuesday April 4, 2017 I married my best friend and boyfriend of six years. I didn’t want a wedding and I wanted to keep things as simple as possible, so we went to the courthouse. Since I am my parent’s only daughter, they really wanted to be there as well, so they flew in the weekend prior.

I was so pleased that everything turned out the way I wanted and it was a stress-free weekend. On Tuesday morning GlamSquad came over to do my hair and makeup and makeup for my mom. After that I threw on my dress and we hopped in an Uber to the courthouse. You can’t make reservations at the courthouse so I was nervous about how long it would take, but luckily with it being a Tuesday, the wait was not long and we were in and out in about two hours. It gave us time to go back to the apartment to have lunch and relax a bit before pictures.
 
I also wasn’t going to do the whole wedding dress thing either, I was going to just get a designer dress that I could wear again but then my friends made valid points that it was my one time to wear a white wedding dress and that the reality is, even if I bought a nice designer dress for the courthouse and pictures, I wouldn’t likely wear it again so I might as well do the wedding dress that we can only wear once. Kev ended up getting a tux too 🙂
We even got a cake 🙂
So anyway, I wore a White by Vera Wang wedding dress and we hired an awesome photographer, Jesse Pafundi, that I found through Instagram to take our photos. I chose the photographer because he does a good job of capturing the surroundings just as much as photographing the couple in a beautiful way. We had him for two hours and we started in SoHo/NoHo for some photos by our favorite street art and then we took a cab to the Highline. We lucked out at the Highline; usually it’s pretty crowded but since it was an overcast day there was hardly anyone there. We also lucked out that though overcast, it didn’t actually rain on us.
 
After pictures, we headed back to the apartment and ordered in pizza while Kev and I finished packing. Then before we knew it, it was time to head to the airport to catch our flight for our honeymoon advernture. The day was a whirlwind but it was perfect and exactly what I wanted.
Since I didn’t want to do the whole wedding thing, Kev and I planned an epic honeymoon. We were gone from April 5th through April 30th and went all over Southeast Asia. Below is a quick recap:
My new fav critter in Boreno, the red leaf monkey. Look at that face!
BORNEO – We started the trip with National Geographic Expeditions in Borneo and stayed in three different rainforest eco lodges and saw a ton of amazing animals in the jungle.
The largest bathtub ever at the Fairmont in Bali
BALI – After several days in Borneo, we flew to Bali where we stayed at the most amazing resort for two nights, the Fairmont Sanur Beach Bali. I have stayed at some really nice hotels before, but nothing as grand as the Fairmont in Bali. I definitely could have stayed there a few more days.
Mandarin fish that we were lucky enough to see at dusk when they come out to spawn
WAKATOBI, INDONESIA — From Bali we made our way to Wakatobi Dive Resort in Wakatobi National Park which is a marine national park in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. The name of Wakatobi is a portmanteau of the four main Tukangbesi Islands: Wangi-wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia, and Binongko. We stayed on a live aboard dive yacht and did 23 dives over six days. We became Nitrox certified on the trip and collectively spent almost a full day under water!

FIJI — After land and sea adventures, we headed to Fiji to relax for a few days before heading back home to the US. We stayed at Koro Sun resort who hooked us up with a beautiful underwater ceremony.
Our honeymoon was amazing and it was truly a trip of a lifetime. While being gone for almost a month was a long time, it went by fast and I would do it all over again and again if I could. If anything, it just fed my desire to explore and see more of the world. Kev and I are already planning our next big trip.



6-Year Anniversary

Last Thursday was me and Kevin’s 6-year anniversary. Six years of dating each other, wowzers! Time really flies when you’re in love and having fun. Kevin was actually at work in California on our actual anniversary, but he definitely made up for it. He got me an amazing pair of Chanel sunglasses that I’m obsessed with and he had beautiful flowers and chocolate covered strawberries delivered to my office. The flowers brightened my whole office.

Then on Saturday when he was back from his trip, we went to a movie and dinner. We saw The Belko Experiment which we enjoyed. We’re fans of Blumhouse Productions and we had seen the trailer a few times and were looking forward to the movie. Afterwards we had dinner at Nix, a vegetable inspired restaurant by Michelin starred chef John Fraser in Union Square. I had the cauliflower tempura with steamed buns & house pickles which was delicious and Kevin had the artichoke and broccoli rabe sauté, preserved tomatoes which was very tasty as well. It was a very nice, romantical dinner and I would definitely go back.

Happy 6-year Anniversary Kev, I love you! Only two more weeks until I become Mrs.!

Bachelorette Party

Two weekends ago I had my bachelorette party at my apartment in NYC. Even though many of my girlfriends had been asking about a bachelorette party after I got engaged, I wasn’t planning on having one because I didn’t feel like organizing it and I didn’t know where to do it. I would have loved to do something fancy and go to my fav city, London, for a long weekend but I knew that would rule many people out due to the cost. Others suggested Vegas but I’m not really a Vegas kind of gal. Therefore, when Kevin told me he was going out of town for a “boy’s weekend” the first weekend in March, my girlfriend Tiffany suggested I have my bachelorette party that same weekend, and since Kevin would be out of town we could do it in NYC and those visiting from out of town would have a free place to stay.

At first I was hesitant about it, but after I sent a note out inviting my closest friends and family, they really took charge and helped to plan an amazing weekend. I thought the party was just going to be on Saturday, but since two of my cousins and one of my best friends from Michigan already flew in on Friday night, we kicked things off a day early. After work on Friday I headed downtown to Seaport to see a movie at iPic Theaters. It was awesome. iPic is a new luxury dine-in theater. We ordered pizza to share and some cocktails while comfortably reclined to watch a movie. We saw Fifty Shades Darker which I thought was fitting for the weekend too. The movie was what I expected but the whole experience was neat and I’m looking forward to going again as a treat.

Since we knew we had a long Saturday planned full of activities, we didn’t drink too much and went to bed at a reasonable hour. Then on Saturday morning we kick-started the day with a spin class at my fav studio, Monster Cycle, with my fav instructor Michael who made sure to play some of my fav songs including Diplo and YellowClaw. We reserved all the bikes in the front row and wore matching gold kitty ears that Tiffany bought and spray painted for the party 🙂  It was cute and everyone had a good workout.

After working out we came back to my apartment to shower and then GlamSquad came to give us all blowouts. We vegged out and talked while taking turns getting our hair done.  Bottles also started popping and we all were enjoying a fair amount of prosecco so I ordered in some pizzas too to make sure everyone was properly fueled.  Once GlamSquad was done with everyone’s hair, we put on makeup then played a quick game, opened presents, and got some group pics before  changing into our going-out outfits.

From there were grabbed two Ubers and headed uptown to dinner at Robert in Columbus Circle. There was a nice view overlooking Columbus Circle and Central Park and the food was pretty good too. What was even better was that Jordan Peele was sitting at a nearby table, so we were all a little starstruck. Since it was still relatively early after dinner,  we went to The Plaza for more drinks before the club. It was kind of like an adult pre-game. The Plaza is beautiful and it wasn’t very crowded so we got a table and shared two bottles of prosecco. The ambiance was amazing and the table was a large circular table so we all got to face each other and talk. There was a lot of toasting and everyone shared some of their favorite “Kayla moments.” It was very special.

Then we hopped in Ubers again and headed to 1 Oak. I was the one who had suggested getting a table at a club for my bachelorette party because none of us go anymore and are usually sleeping by midnight so I felt like it would be my last hurrah. We didn’t want to get there too early because we heard it only gets better the later it gets, so we got there around 1:30am. We all felt a little awkward at first so I downed my first drink pretty fast and the rest of the night passed quickly and was a blur from there filled with lots of laughter, dancing, and plenty of alcohol. BTW, having a table was amazing, and if I ever go to a club again, I only want to go if we have a table. It was like we had our own little stage and it kept the creepers away.

We stayed at 1 Oak until the club closed at 4am and I cannot believe we stayed out that late. I went to bed immediately once we got back to my apartment with my dress and makeup still on and everything! Then around 9am I was woken up to get a hangover IV from my doctor that was scheduled beforehand. I had read about IVs to help re-hydrate people after a long night partying and I was anxious to see if it actually worked, so my amazing friends did me a solid and booked it. My doc included anti-nausea medicine in the IV as well. I still felt like crap afterwards, but considering most of the girls were dead to the world and two of them even threw up that day, I think the IV saved me.

I felt well enough after the IV to want to go out for breakfast, so me and a few of the remaining girls went to Laduree nearby before everyone went their separate ways. I slept pretty much the rest of the day and had the opportunity to catch up more one-on-one  with my bestie Becca that still lives in Michigan which was nice too.

My bachelorette party was an absolute blast and went better than I could have hoped for. Many of my friends had never met prior to that weekend and I was nervous mixing different groups, but everyone got along really well. I really felt the love from everyone and they truly planned the best day for me for which I will be eternally grateful. I also loved the decorations in my apartment spearheaded by Tiffany. They printed out a dozen pictures of “hot men and cats” and put them all over the apartment which also went along nicely with the semi-animal theme including the gold cat ears for everyone and gold sea animal figurines scattered along the dining room table. One of my gifts from Alison and Kelly was a pink frosted cup that said “I’m getting meowied” which was super cute and fit in with the theme too. We all liked it so much that we actually made one of the hashtags for the evening #KaylasGettingMeowied – It was perfect.

I am a lucky girl to have such amazing, smart, beautiful friends who came to celebrate with me 🙂

Presidents’ Day 2017 Weekend in Aspen

I went to Aspen for the first time over Presidents’ Day weekend this year. We weren’t able to get a direct flight so we flew to Chicago first and then on to Aspen, and on the way back our layover was in Denver. It wasn’t too bad of a flight though. Plus, Aspen is totally worth it. We got two days of skiing in on Saturday and Sunday before flying back on Monday but I would have loved to stay and ski more.

We got to Aspen late Friday evening and stayed with some friends who are renting one of the Ritz Carlton Villas. The place was really nice and much bigger than I was expecting; It was like an actual home with a huge kitchen, living room, multiple bedrooms, and a basement lounge area with a shuffleboard. After dropping off our stuff we had a nice dinner followed by seeing a comedy show. We were lucky to be in town to see Adam Sandler and David Spade who was his opener.

For the next two days we skied a lot at Snowmass, got some mogul practice in, and then the day would end with a nice dinner and lots of great wine. Saturday afternoon was extra special because we were able to get into Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro. I had no idea what to expect but it was so much fun. I think this review I found on Yelp sums it up pretty well–

Also, fun fact, Cloud 9 is Veuve Clicquot’s #1 Account in the Country.  That should give you an idea of how many bottles are popped on a daily basis there.

Although we were seated outside and didn’t partake in the champagne shower, I still got a good feel for the place and I loved the energy. We had plenty of fun too sharing a magnum of wine and raclette which I had never had before. I had so much fun and it was definitely a unique experience for me.

I had been to Colorado before and skied in Vail twice, but Aspen is on a whole other level. Not only is it clean and picturesque, it also attracts the uber-wealthy. I honestly felt a little poor being surrounded by all these people decked out in Moncler uniforms dropping thousands of dollars on booze. The town itself screams wealthy too–in town you can find all designer stores.

Overall it was one of my favorite ski trips and I cannot wait to go back!

Book Review

I have been reading a lot lately and have been enjoying spending more time with  books rather than having my eyes glued to a screen…well, I guess I still do a fair amount of TV watching, but either way, below are some of the most recent books I’ve read. I’ve listed them in order from least to most liked.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – It was fantasy novel which I wasn’t expecting and it isn’t my normal genre pick but it was still entertaining and nice to read something different.

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn – It is her short story that won an Edgar Award in 2015…I def didn’t realize it was just a short story when I downloaded in on my phone so after I read it in like two minutes I was like, wait, that’s it? Also, am I the only one that was like wtf was that?

Barbara the Slut and Other People by Lauren Holmes – Consisted of a bunch of short stories. Honestly, I can’t remember most of them but they all had a similar theme.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware – Was a book recommended to me since I’ve liked Gillian Flynn novels but it wasn’t that great.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman – I really enjoyed this novel. It wasn’t as predictable as I had been expecting and I enjoyed the unlikely friendships that formed. It was also a good “don’t judge a book by its cover” novel.

The Possessions by Sarah Flannery Murphy–I just finished this one today and I only started it last week. It reminded me of Stephanie Meyer’s The Host.

The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang – highly entertaining. I loved it and really liked all the characters in the Wang family.

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler – obsessed with this book and couldn’t put it down. I was sad that I finished it. I also really liked Danler’s style of writing. I will be looking out for more of her work.

 

Christmas 2016 in Mont Tremblant

The past six years I’ve been living in NYC, I’ve always flown back to Michigan to spend Christmas with my family. This year, since I had already gone to Michigan three times for work, to see a Michigan football game with my parents, and for my cousin Dayna’s wedding, and since I hadn’t gone skiing all year, Kevin and I decided to spend Christmas just the two of us on a ski trip. We have been to Vail, Park City, and Tahoe a few times, so we did some research and ended up choosing Mont Tremblant because it was a short flight from NYC and looked nice. We flew into Montreal which was only about an hour flight and then we took a bus up to Mt. Tremblant which took about 75 minutes.

Mt Tremblant is a quaint ski village in Canada. We stayed at the Westin which was a short walk to the gondola to the chair lifts. We had three ski days and had a quiet Christmas together. There was low visibility the first day and then the slopes were pretty icy which I hate. Also, it was really cold. The temperature was down to 9* Fahrenheit. Although, the trees were pretty because they were completely covered in pretty white snow. My favorite part of skiing were the off trail moguls. The other thing I liked about Mt. Tremblant were the Beaver Tails which are a delicious desert of fried dough covered in your choice of sauce and sugary toppings.  I tried two different kinds 🙂

The last night before flying back to NYC we stayed in Montreal. I had never been to Montreal so I wanted to explore a bit. We took a cab from our hotel by the airport into the city. First we went to the Biodome to see four different ecosystems and the animals that live in each. That was my fav. The little monkeys were SUPER cute and I also spotted a sloth climbing across a pole at the top of the dome. We also got to see the penguin feeding which was pretty cute.

Afterwards we tried to see a movie after but surprisingly all of the movies were in French with no subtitles which was a little odd because it seemed like the majority of the people were speaking English. Then we walked around the city for a bit. We tried to go in the Notre-Dame Basilica which is where Celine Dion got married but they charge to just walk in and I didn’t really care that much. There wasn’t much else to do so we walked around some more and then found a spot for dinner. Luckily the restaurant we went to was very good. We had delicious homemade spaghetti and cheesy garlic bread at a place called L’Usine de Spaghetti.

Overall it was a nice trip and it was nice to get away, but it wasn’t as much fun as I had been expecting. The ski conditions were a little disappointing that weekend and I wasn’t in love with Montreal. After four days I was ready to go back to NYC. I’m glad I got to experience Mt. Tremblant but I don’t know if I’ll go back anytime soon.


The Nest and Sons and Daughter of Ease and Plenty

It just happened that I picked two books to read that had to do with families either born into wealth or that were expecting a large inheritance. Despite being in different time periods with one of the novels, The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, taking place current day and the other novel, Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty by Ramona Ausubel, taking place in the 1970s, there were many similar themes including love, ones career, motherhood, and mortality.

One of the parallels between the two novels is that money can take over ones mind and change relationships. Another is the inevitability of getting old and how one feels invisible with age. There was an eeriness to protagonist Fern in Sons and Daughter of Ease and Plenty and her family’s belief to take one out of one’s misery when he/she gets too old to prevent tarnishing one’s image by letting others see the deterioration. Lastly, both novels explored motherhood through women with different parenting styles (some much more involved and maternal than others) and how becoming a mother ultimately alters ones career.

I loved The Nest and I like that the Plumb family’s chase of money and final acceptance that it wasn’t coming forced them to alter the course of their lives and they ultimately became happier for it. Spoiler alert, I was still hoping that Leo would come through at the end either to see the family finally take a stand against him and officially outcast him like he had done to them or to see him repair his relationships and repay his family for what he had taken, but I was still happy with the novel regardless. I suppose in a way I did like the bittersweet ending. I enjoyed Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty as well but I didn’t like the characters or style of writing as much as Cynthia’s. I am glad that I coincidentally read both similarly themed books back to back though to compare and to see how expansive with many different directions novels can go while holding similar themes.

“Nothing was more terrifying than what familiar could do to each other.” – Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty

Summer Runcation in the Poconos

A few weeks ago I went on a runcation in the Poconos with Ketanga Fitness. For those who have never heard of a “runcation” it is a vacation where you go running; a mix of relaxing and running–for funsies. I originally wanted to go away for a yoga retreat but I didn’t want to spend a ton of money and I didn’t want to take more than one day off of work. I wasn’t able to find any yoga retreats during the timeframe I was looking for and Kevin mentioned something to his trainer about it. His trainer then suggested we look at Ketanga Fitness. They put on a bunch of different retreats like boxing and running in a variety of locations.

We chose a closer runcation within driving distance from the city that was three days long. I took a Friday off work and Kevin and I drove the 1 hour 45 minutes to the Mountaintop Lodge in the Poconos by Lake Naomi. The drive there was sunny and pleasant in our rented convertible. After checking in and meeting everyone we got to relax for a bit before our first evening workout. We met in the backyard of the Inn and did strength training drills and short sprints. After our first workout we had a little champagne toast on the porch then got ready for dinner. We had dinner at a restaurant within walking distance of the Inn, Jubilee, which actually had some good food. I thought it was cool that everyone had a drink and didn’t take things too seriously. I’ve always assumed that a running retreat and drinking wouldn’t mix, but we were all able to relax and unwind with one or two drinks without wrecking ourselves for the run the next morning.

On Saturday morning we woke up fairly early for a morning run. After warming up with some exercises we did some speed and endurance work on a trail loop in the woods. It ended up being about three miles. After breakfast we were free to do what we wanted. Some of the others went to lay out at the pool but Kevin and I decided to go for a little drive and then we ended up going to a quaint nearby town to see a movie. After grabbing a bite (love me some some subs and junk food at Wawa’s) we got ready for our second workout of the evening. We found a large flat grassy area where we did more strength training drills and short sprints. That evening we all went out for a hibachi dinner which was a lot of fun.

On Sunday morning we had our final run and my favorite of the weekend. We did a longer six mile trail run. It was fun and I felt really good. It had been a while since I’ve run three consecutive days in a row. Normally I’ll mix it up a do yoga, boxing, or spinning in addition to running once a week, but it felt really good to be out in nature running.

Before we all went our separate ways we had one final meal together as a group. The other people on the runcation with me and Kev were pretty cool and we had a good time getting to know a little about each other. The trip was also a perfect way to get Kevin to ease into running, and running has now become another activity we can do together. Most people may think that running and vacation together is a paradox, but not only was there a good amount of free time to chill, the runs were also pleasant being out in the wilderness away from the city. Also, the runs on this trip weren’t especially long or difficult. We definitely challenged ourselves but the distances were short enough and the people on the trip were at various levels so that no one was left in the dust. Overall we had a great time and I would definitely sign up for another runcation.