Urban Jungle

New York City is often referred to as an Urban Jungle; however, this weekend we had the opportunity to visit the real Urban Jungle, the Bronx Zoo!

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For Christmas this past year, Matt and I gave his younger sister a trip to NYC. At the time it was probably a let down. I mean, I would definitely rather get some new clothes than I lame book filled with IOUs. But hopefully, after a weekend jammed packed with fun (Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark, Burgers at Shake Shack, the zoo, etc) the wait seemed worth it.

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The Bronx Zoo was definitely the highlight of the weekend for me. Seeing all of the animals up close was truly magical. Of course seeing the giraffes was my favorite, but I think that seeing the gorillas was a very close second.

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I am sure there are people out there who will argue that zoos are inhuman and what not. I’m not knowledgable enough to fight that fight. So I will leave that to PETA.

Via Ferrara

There is nothing better than going on vacation to some place that is super cool where you know a local. On our final day in Telluride, we were fortunate enough to do a little “hiking” with my friend Andy/Tyler.

Maybe I should give a little more background to Andy before I go any further.

Andy was the type of kid who had more energy than seemed humanly possible. He exhibited that awesome, yet dangerous, combination of athletic talents and a fearless attitude. He was the best player when it came to tennis baseball, was the only kid who could hold his breath longer than Abby or me and would attempt ridiculous tricks off the diving board. There was a rumor, that probably lives on today, that one time he actually swung over the top of the swing set. And even though I hadn’t seen Andy in more 15 years, I can say confidently, that attitude/persona hasn’t changed. Even though his life has taken him all over the country and even to different parts of the world, he is still that totally crazy kid I once knew.

So when Matt thought we should take Andy up on his offer to take us hiking, I immediately knew it was a bad idea.

Andy took us to a place in Telluride that few people know about, the Via Ferrara. Up until a year ago, this was a hidden gem that only locals were aware of, that is until a reporter published information about it in Telluride magazine last year.  Thankfully, because of liability/insurance reasons, tour groups have yet to set up trips there, so the only real way to do the hike is to have a local show you the ropes. Thankfully, we knew a local.

The hike up was beautiful and Andy acted as our tour guide, giving us historical information about Telluride highlight all of the mining activities, interesting facts about the Cedar trees that line the canyon walls and stories of festivals and celebrations that capture the true essence of the town. Unfortunately, the history lesson soon ended and we were instructed to put on harasses and helmets. Suddenly the “hike” got serious.

Andy assured up it was pretty basic. Clip in,  shimmy along the rock, unclip, repeat. What he failed to mention are that there are some sections without cables or handholds. It is hard to describe exactly what it felt like to cling to a rock face 300-400 feet in the air, so I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favorite part of the climb was when I looked at Matt. He is usually the one pushing me to do crazy stuff. Not this time. His face was white as a ghost, his entire body was shaking and his comment was “I don’t know what the hell I was thinking getting us into this.” It was funny, for some reason that fueled me to press on. I know, we have a really healthy marriage.

 

 

 

 

The scariest part for me was definitely at what they call “the main event.” On this section there is a great deal of “exposure” which I learned means “really scary stuff.” Basically, the rock face curves inward slightly which results in a sheer drop below you. For about 15-20 minutes, you are clinging for dear life to iron rungs that were drilled into the wall god knows how long ago. Somehow I managed through it.

 

 

 

 

 

Honestly, I wish I had been able to take in the sights a little more, but let’s face it, I was scared to death.

 

 

 

Oh, and did I mention that Andy did the entire thing without a harness or being clipped in?

 

It is nice to see he is still the same kid who once swung over the top of the swing set.

Extreme Cruise Ship

Right now I am watching a show on Destination America (did anyone else know this channel existed?) titled “Extreme Cruise Ship.” The show follows the crew and passengers as they board Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas. I think the show is supposed to show the glamour and appeal of a cruise. For me, this is confirming that a cruise would be my worst nightmare.

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The ship first set sail in December of 2010 and has the ability to carry over 6,000 passengers each trip. At that point in time, the ship set the record for the largest cruise ship in the world. Unfortunately, the sister ship Allure of the Seas is a mere 2 inches longer, setting a new record.

Oasis of the Seas is definitely an impressive ship. It features two-story loft suites and luxury suites measuring 1,600 sq ft (double the size of my apartment!) with balconies overlooking the sea or promenades. The ship features a zip-line, a casino, a mini-golf course, multiple night clubs, several bars and lounges, a karaoke club, comedy club, five swimming pools, volleyball and basketball courts, theme parks and nurseries for children.

This is where things get weird… Onboard recreational, athletic, and entertainment activities are organized into seven themed areas called “neighborhoods”, sort of like theme parks. Below are descriptions of these seven neighborhoods.

  1. Central Park features boutiques, restaurants and bars, including access to the Rising Tide bar, which can be raised or lowered between three decks. It has the first living park at sea with over 12,000 plants and 56 trees. So in other words, nothing like the Central Park of NYC.
  2. The Pool and Sports Zone features a sloped-entry beach pool and two surf simulators.
  3. Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center features a spa for teens (really? a spa for teens?)
  4. Boardwalk features a handcrafted carousel, restaurants, bars, shops, two rock-climbing walls, and a temporary tattoo parlor. Its outdoor 750-seat Aqua Theatre amphitheater hosts the ship’s largest freshwater pool. As a kid, this sounds awesome. Now imagine spending an entire week here as an adult. Not so awesome anymore…
  5. Royal Promenade features restaurants and shops.
  6. Youth Zone features a science lab and computer gaming. Awesome, you brought your kids on a cruise and all they do is play video games. Talk about an ideal family vacation!
  7. Entertainment Place. I can’t find information on what this area includes. I bet it doesn’t even exist but no one notices cause the boat is so big.

While the idea of a cruise, to travel at night and wake up at a different location in the morning, sounds pretty good, I don’t think I can fully get over all of the other stuff that comes with cruises: being trapped on a boat, in the middle of the ocean, with families wearing matching “we’re on vacation” t-shirts sounds horrible!

I don’t think I am going to be able to sleep tonight.