Archive for October, 2010

For Halloween I started to ponder destinations I considered haunted. Destinations when darkness descends on the streets, stories of spirits fill our imagination. Places you visit and leave with the belief ghosts are not just fantasy, but perhaps reality.

In a city of much literary fame, from Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde to the present day world of Harry Potter, even the writers seem to create a haunted and suspenseful fiction in Edinburgh. And walking the streets coupled with learning its past, you can truly understand why. The architecture and history, it seems a perfect setting for such stories.

On my visit a few years back,  one that coincided the city’s famous Fringe Festival, I left impressed. Not just by the acts and shows I watched in the theatre, but the city itself. A magical place. A place I look forward to returning one day. And a place with a certain haunted vibe.

One night walking along a ridge over looking the main Edinburgh castle, I took this picture. With the sun already set, but the twilight still illuminating the sky, this picture itself seemed a perfect fit for today. Happy Halloween.

darkness descends on Edinburgh castle and the city.

And of course, Happy Sunset Sunday, too.

stay adventurous, Craig


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We drove from Memphis through Oxford and continued our search for the Hayward farm. Six guys excited for the weekend all using googlemaps off their iPhone. Each shouting directions and advice. Chaos in a car. But once we turned down the dirt road, I sensed an excitement. A calm. We found our home base and the weekend was about to begin. A weekend that started with smoked ribs (on the grill since  before my flight left from New York) and an ice chest full of beer. Twenty-one in total showed up last year and we crashed Ole Miss.

10 years strong - it's hardly a bad time.

My friend attempted to recruit me years ago. I never listened, well, until last year. I attended the trip to the Grove and essentially crashed the campus. The planning, the mayhem, the experience – true college football. Even Eli Manning attended the game. (the Giants had an off week)

And at the time, I knew I just found a new annual tradition. In 2010, I signed up for my sophomore season.

The voting occurs in June and all college games are possible. The voting process gives one vote to every person wanting to attend and an extra vote for each year you attended the event. So this season I had two votes. Next year I’ll have three.

When the election results were tallied, Columbia topped the list. We were to crash the University of South Carolina. And we did just that on October 9th. They played Alabama.

Yes, we watched the Game Cocks roll the Tide and defeat the unbeaten number #1 Alabama (at the time). Arguably, the best win in the school history. An incredible atmosphere. But the weekend is more than a game. Well it’s more than college football.

the flip cup challenge...

It all starts Friday night in town. This year, thirty-five guys (record attendance) either reacquainted with old friends or made new ones. In the process everyone made many memories. And for some, what happens on college campuses – well it stays on college campuses.

To me, the party really started when we hijacked a musician’s stage, his instruments, and sang the songs we wanted to hear (the ones we knew). With 35 guys, we are bound to have musicians. Afterwards, some of us left the “alumni filled” Vista area of Columbia and headed to Five Points, the University bar scene. I joined them.

There, us crashers blended in the best we could. We wanted to truly see, feel, and enjoy the college scene. And they do it well in Columbia from what I remember. Real well. Plus, with college prices on pictures of beer, that’s just part of the formula for trouble. Fuel to the fire.

All hungover the next morning, sharing stories, and very thankful for the 330pm start, we waited for transportation. With the city quiet, we sat in the downtown Marriott concerned. Taxi drivers were either not up or not coming? Forty-minutes passed. Long minutes. Then one taxi arrived and I squeezed in. Although a loving group, sometimes it’s every man for himself.

she rolls for campus crasher merchandise

That ride, led us down dirt paths as a shortcut to avoid traffic. We crossed train tracks and wondered if we were suddenly on the wrong side? Columbia was a capital city and where were we going was only two miles away?  I still wonder about the route we took that morning. But a smile from the driver made us trust the moment. It was an adventure, part of the reason why we all come.

We arrived and that, “we are so late” feeling disappeared with the first beer.  Almost five hours existed prior to kickoff.

The tailgate consisted of playing a thirty on thirty games of flip cup, showcasing talent on a portable dance floor, and some serious dice rolling where lady gamecock fans could win campus crasher memorbilia.The time flew. Four plus hours of SEC tailgating heaven. Next up, the game.

this years 'staged' arrest is nothing like Tennessee

All South Carolina. Domination. The Gamecocks defeated than number 1 Alabama. A great college atmosphere.

We all returned, energized for the night with the home team victory. The crashers have few rules I noticed, but one is to all route for  home team because it sets up for a better evening.

We continued to tailgate till the end when we were essentially kicked out of the lot by it’s owners. Our next stop didn’t last long either. We stopped by a local house party and were asked to leave a when one crasher reached in the fridge for a beer. Not proper etiquette. At college, he might as well attempted to steal gold.

the celebration continues with the W.

From there we seemed to split up in a frenzy, but wherever you went the people, fans, friends and even foes (Alabama fans) seemed to all appreciate the mission of the campus crasher.  Our T-Shirts connected us and actually became desirable artifacts. Lady fans of the Carolina Gamecock would ask, “I want your T-shirt,” and well many gave them up. For what, well that remains as secret as the freemason ceremony.

In summary, a fantastic second installment. And although we left someone behind at the hotel who needed a ride to Charlotte, North Carolina no one was “technically” arrested. So in all a good year.

What four guys from Boston College started ten years ago, has created true legends of the fall. Thank you to the founding fathers and the first followers.

After this past year, with sponsorships and ESPN coverage very likely in the near future, I know all crashers plan to keep to the core mission – have a blast and crash a campus. It’s genius.

We always pose for our fans....

stay advenutorus, Craig

To meet the campus crashers, check out the campus crasher who we are page, and if interested in attending, definitely sign in on the Campus Crasher guest book.

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Sometimes you have a moment. A connection not easily described by logic or reason. You really just feel alive, in tune with everything. One. Whole.

I tend to find these majestic moments watching the sunset. In those moments, I take the time to appreciate the day.  I listen.

But such moments occur to all of us at different times. Mostly, I find, at times when we pause. When we take a needed breathe and appreciate our surroundings.

One such moment happened as I watched the fall foliage in northeastern Pennsylvania. On a walk to the lake I planned to take in the view, but received much more.

The view of the Beaver Lake

As I approached the dock, I started to notice a silence. The day changed. Snow flurries began to fall. The cool moisture in the air almost warmed the scene.

snow flurries began to fall....

I decided to continue to the edge of the dock where I eventually would sit on the bench. I sat in complete bliss. The pureness of the day, the snow, the scene overtook me. An hour passed.

the bench

Then, I left. I returned reenergized with a deeper sense of meaning. Priorities shifted. A new day began. A better day.

stay adventurous, Craig

This post is part of a three-part series on fall colors that will include Vermont, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Hope you enjoyed it, now go and enjoy the changing leaves.

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A family reunion took me to upstate New York this summer. To be honest, I held little appreciation for my state outside of what I knew. Growing up, New York consisted of Long Island and the city. And when people mentioned New York – well that was New York City.  Ignorance might be bliss at times, but you can certainly miss out on so much of the beauty in the world with such an approach. Thankfully, I learned this early in life.

To witness this beauty, I keep an open mind, travel and (yes) stay adventurous. And this approach teaches. It educates.  In fact last week,  Melissa mentioned this in her SunsetSunday (guest) post on New Jersey. She wrote,

catching the travel bug a few years ago, and learning to see the world through the eyes of a traveler, I’ve realized how much the state of NJ really has to offer.”

Exactly. When you travel you gain a deeper appreciation about where you are from and I am from New York. Yes, I love NY (the entire state).

So at a joyful and emotional family reunion, meeting cousins for the first time in 19 years, we conversed, tasted some of the best local corn, grilled steaks, and downed a few beers.  America at its best. And all day I took pictures of the park grounds, my family, and the food.  Yet, I knew I needed one more shot. The perfect ending to the day.

When we parted ways with a promise to not wait so long next time, day descended into night. Driving the back roads in rural New york, the sunset’s colors brightened the sky. Eventually, I found a clearing and pulled over. I reached for my camera, exited the car and took this image. The farm, the cows, and the sunset. A different New York for me, but a New York I truly appreciate.

the sun sets behind an upstate farm..

Happy Sunset Sunday.  Welcome to Season 3.

stay adventurous, Craig

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Last year I accepted an invitation to Hocking Hills, Ohio. Where? Exactly. But this relatively unknown Buckeye State destination left quite an impression on me not to mention a greater appreciation for the political swing state.

In the region, originally formed by Glacier run-off, visitors can explore and discover a unique micro-climate, truly taste a slice of America Appalachia and experience some of the best stargazing east of the Mississippi River. But what left the biggest impression with me – its fall colors.

In a destination spotlight I wrote on Hocking Hills, I mentioned the many ways to enjoy the seasonal spectacle. Whether you select ATVs, reasonably priced airplane rides over the park, kayaks, or even hike in the woods you will not be disappointed.

This year, since I didn’t get a chance to return in person I decided to return on my blog and give you, my readership, a chance to peak inside this true American Gem.

the visitor center.

On a walk through the state park, home to Old Man’s cave (the iconic landmark that nearly every attraction in the region is measured in distance from) you can take short or long hikes and enjoy the outdoors.

one of the many views hiking the state park

And probably my favorite way to witness the wonderland, on the water in a kayak. The early morning sunrise paddle was a (if not thee)  highlight of the trip.

the colors of the leaves outshine the kayaks...

For a complete overview of my entire long weekend in Hocking Hills, you can read my (guest) post from last year’s trip here or to learn more on the region check out 1800Hocking.

Stay adventurous, Craig

This post is part of a three-part series on fall colors that will include Vermont, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Also, all photos in this post were taken by Kirsten Alana, the official photographer from the trip.

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When Vermont received its name, I don’t believe it was in October. The green (vert) mountain (mont) state shows its true colors as the air cools. Beautiful and brilliant colors. And each fall many travelers take a pilgrimage to visit this part of New England. One year, I was one of them.

On a trip to Manchester City, I found myself enjoying a fall day at the Equinox Resort.  The historic property found in the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, provides more than comfort from the chill autumn brings to the state. It provides the perfect place for an afternoon hike to view one of Mother Nature’s masterpieces, her fall colors.

Here are a few pictures from my hike. The first is along the trail. The sun beams through the cover and illuminates the forest.

walking the trail

After a small climb, you get the chance to see the view from above and witness the green mountains of Vermont turn to brilliant yellows, oranges, and red.

the view from above...

Then on the hike back, you can walk by a small Lake and enjoy the reflection of the majesty on the clear water.

through a clearing you can enjoy a water view.

Vermont is certainly not the only place to find the beauty of Autumn, but its fame is well deserved.

Stay adventurous, Craig

This post is part of a three-part series on fall colors that will include Vermont, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Also, when in Manchester City, make sure you visit the Hildene, the Lincoln family home.

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New Jersey. As a New Yorker, I always said the best thing about New Jersey is the view of New York City. Hey, it is the light at the end of the tunnel, right? But after years visiting my college friends who call it home and spending summers at the Jersey Shore (not quite MTV style) I did start to change my mind.  Then I met Melissa through twitter.

Her writings and picture perfect Sunday’s started to further enlighten me about the other side of the Hudson River. She eloquently describes and displays the beauty of her home state on her blogs. And hey, it is the Garden State after all.

So I recently asked Melissa to share a view of New Jersey on my weekly Sunset Sunday: Thankfully, she agreed. Enjoy.

Since I’m from New Jersey (and proud of it), you know that I’ve pretty much heard all of the NJ jokes there are. I’ve also learned to smile and laugh politely when non-NJ folks ask me if I’ve ever pumped my own gas (of course I have) or what my exit is (Turnpike 9, Parkway 130).  It’s actually even kind of comical when people try to get me to say “water” or “coffee” to see I’ll speak with the so-called “Jersey” accent.

Yes, our jug handles make the roads a little confusing to navigate.  Yes, the 80s “mall hair” and scrunched socks trends lasted well beyond the 80s for many people living in NJ.   And yes, NJ has a ubiquitous presence on TV and the Internet these days, with the stars of MTV’s Jersey Shore (somehow) having become our primary representatives. So yes, I fully expect that the jokes will keep on coming.

the Parkway exit for Sandy Hook is 117


However, after catching the travel bug a few years ago, and learning to see the world through the eyes of a traveler, I’ve realized how much the state of NJ really has to offer.  NJ has a rich Native American history, and many significant Revolutionary War battles took place here – helping to secure the freedom and independence we know in this country today.  We have a diverse landscape including mountains, beaches, farms, and cities, and we have tremendous amounts of cultural opportunities.  NJ really is a true traveler’s destination and the perfect place to bring your wanderlust.

I took this sunset photo during my NJ travels, visiting the oldest operating lighthouse in our country, in Sandy Hook, NJ.  The grounds around the lighthouse, the Gateway National Recreation Area, is home to numerous endangered bird species and is a favorite location for beach goers, bird watchers, and photographers alike.  If you look closely, you can even see a bird, who calls Sandy Hook their home, in this photo.


Melissa Morris is the writer and editor behind the Jersey Girl and her own Melissa Morris blog. She can also be found on twitter t: @morriswrite. Her writings can make anyone (including me) start to appreciate one of the original 13 states – New Jersey.

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