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Archive for the ‘Destination’ Category

The first scheduled stop on my day’s tour, Punta Laguna, did not excite me. I’ll admit it. My initial thought – skip it. I looked ahead. I thought, let’s head straight to the ancient ruins of Coba and spend more time understanding the mystique and magic of the Mayans. Or perhaps add a second cenote to the itinerary. Ever since my discovery of these sacred, swimmable sinkholes I can’t seem to see enough. But Punta Laguna was on the way, so we stopped. And actually, I am glad we did.

A monkey spotted in the sun, I took a picture.

When we arrived, I grabbed my camera and we hired a guide to help us search for the local Spider Monkeys. Not five minutes and one hundred meters into the jungle our guide already heard them in the distance. We changed course and started tracking the troop.  We listened and watched in silence as they moved swiftly from tree to tree searching for food. The monkeys never seemed to mind our presence.

I certainly tried to capture a few photos, but just like when on African safari searching for the Big 5, I didn’t have a telephoto lens and actually, the monkeys blended with the shade. But also, just like on safari, sometimes I didn’t raise my camera and click. Nope. I just appreciated being so close. I enjoyed a glimpse of life in their world, a chance to just feel the jungle from under its canopy.

Then as the monkeys wandered further into the jungle, our guide turned us around and we headed down the main trail to the lagoon. Originally, I thought we might paddle out on the water, but when I arrived to see the lagoon it was not the heat that kept me ashore. The crystal clear water and its stunning reflection almost seemed ask to not be disturbed. So calming. I just decided to savor a moment. This moment.

sometimes its just about the view....

Yes, the rest of the day lived up to its expectations. The Mayan Ruins at Coba and the breathtaking beauty of Cenote Multun-ha were definitely highlights of my entire two weeks in the Riviera Maya. But the silence and stillness of the lagoon made the highlights too. The beauty of the moment taught me a valuable lesson. A lesson to not overlook any stop on a journey as beauty exists in all destinations. And my few minutes on the water’s edge of Punta Laguna reminded me of that very fact. Thank you.

Stay adventurous, Craig

Also, a special thanks to Riviera Maya for being an excellent guide and host.

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Often times, when in Mexico (I am currently in Puerto Vallarta) conversation commences about other Mexican destinations. Comparisons – yes, but also (and mostly) about how we all appreciate the country, the culture and the cuisine.

I found myself talking about the Riviera Maya yesterday, and as much as I enjoy the adventure of exploring the cenotes, discovering my senses, eating the tacos in Playa del Carmen, or watching a sunset in Tulum, sometimes, everyone needs a day off. A day to relax; a day to recharge. A day designed to do nothing. And when staying at the eco-friendly and sustainable Hacienda Tres Rios Resort, I spent one day doing just that.

take a moment to yourself today...

So this weekend, before the big holiday events (it’s Thanksgiving in the US next week) how about taking a moment to yourself. Hopefully you can find a place like this to go. And if you can’t get here physically, well then at least take a moment and go here mentally. You deserve it. Happy Friday.

stay adventurous, Craig

Again, a thank you to Hacienda Tres Rios and Riviera Maya for showing me this wonderful part of Mexico.

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The van pulled over and we climbed out of the vehicle into a sea of friendly merchants. With tourists stopping by all day, the vendors set up and greet you with ‘buen precio and muy barato” (good prices and very cheap).

the diver poses for a photo...

And only after you navigate through the wood carvings, silver souvenirs, and the other assorted common Mexican trinkets (many of which I own), can you make your way to meet the “manager.” Well, I gave him that title, I am not sure what he calls himself, but he produces the show. Most tourists in Mazatlán stop by to pay him a visit to see a cliff dive.

Just on the other side of the Malecón from Zona Dorada, on the way to Old Town, a platform among the cliffs exists where a few brave souls plunge into a shallow sea. This is not Acapulco; there is no show time (during the day, not sure about the evening). The event occurs when people arrive and offer tips. How much might it take for a diver to risk his life?

Eventually, a deal was made, and we were all prepared to give 20-50 pesos (~11.5 pesos to the USD). The diver essentially risks it all for the equivalent of $15-$20 USD. Sometimes he’ll make more, other times, he might jump for less. For them, this is their livelihood, their day job.(I gave 50 pesos)

As he climbed up to the top, we all prepared. We walked down to obtain the best view, and pointed our cameras in anticipation. At the summit, he paused, prayed and then slowly walked to the edge. An eternity passed (the minute seemed long) as we all waited. At low tide he needed to be even more careful.

he leaped off the cliff...

Suddenly, he dove. A beautiful arch and full extension delighted the crowd. A perfect 10.

Stay adventurous, Craig

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This year I will miss an annual tradition. This weekend I will not be there to support the thousands who lace up and run the NYC marathon from the sidelines. But even from a distance (I am in Mexico) I will take a moment on Sunday to cheer.

And to mark the occasion, I decided to republish a post I wrote last year for the Gainville blog. I hope you enjoy it. And I trust you will now understand why I do love the New York City Marathon.

Good Luck to all the runners as 26.2 miles is quite adventurous in my book.

my mom cheers on my dad at mile 8

Weekends in New York always make a great story. This past weekend was no different.

The village’s flamboyant Halloween parade, countless city establishments packed with Yankee fans rooting for their team in the World Series (remember this is last year) , not to mention standard Friday night fine dining, Sunday brunches, Broadway Shows, and much more. Eventful indeed.

Yet, to many who love the city, this weekend was not about any of that – it was simply marathon weekend.

The race begins on Sunday morning in Staten Island where 40,000 runners from all ove the world start their 26.2-mile journey. Through five boroughs they run bringing together a community, and a city. Considered one of New York’s most cherished traditions and one of the world’s most popular marathons, I discovered that the race brings out the best in us. (even as spectators)

I never truly appreciated the event until my Dad entered. He always wanted to run the race, and three years (now 4) ago in his 60s, he competed and completed the milestone. But what I discovered on that autumn day remains with me today. I didn’t just cheer for my father, but I cheered for all the runners.

As a spectator you can’t help yourself, you cheer. You cheer for your friends and complete strangers. You cheer for countries, causes, and even costumes. Whatever a runner wears on their T-shirt, duck-tapes on their shorts, or writes on their legs – you cheer for it. You let them know you are pulling for them to finish.

my dad in manhattan at mile 17Plus, they hear you and acknowledge your support. They say thank you with a smile or a thumbs up and some even pick up their pace. You give them the fuel they need to continue. It’s not New York’s famous water credited for its pizza and bagel making magic that replenishes the runners, but the course’s cheerleaders.

So this year again I returned to Central Park in the late afternoon, six hours after the race began. There on the course’s final mile, I cheered loudly for people I never met. I encouraged runners to finish the race, to complete their NYC marathon. I let them all know, by any means possible that I appreciate and applaud their tremendous effort.

the leaves were starting to fall....

 

After nearly an hour of support, with the sun starting to set I walked home. Through the park I admired the fall foliage and the leaves as they gracefully let go allowing the wind to carry them off. Then I realized during the race we all let go too. We let go of any prejudices and root for everyone. The fans of New York pull for all the runners, all shapes and sizes, all colors and creeds. The city roots for human accomplishment. To me, that represents the very core of the Big Apple and one of the reasons I continue to call it home.

So congratulations to all who ran the race this year. And for those running next year, I’ll be back in the park cheering for you too. And hopefully I’ll see a few more of my readers by my side.

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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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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