Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas

Merry Christmas in 2007!!! Below is the e-card.


This Christmas, I am thankful for Music, Christmas Decorations, Holiday Spirit, Family and Friends, Great Times, and Everyday.

Thank you for being a part of my life and making this all happen.

God Bless,
Brian

“A truly rich life sometimes means nothing more than a series of great relationships, and the experiences that you gain from those relationships.”

Monday, December 24, 2007

Farewell Oregon. Till Next Time


My 2nd trip to Oregon was definitely something to remember. For the avid traveler, sometimes you want to taste everything at least once. The truth is that there is a lot of world to see; but sometimes seeing things for a 2nd time makes the experience that much richer!

It's like seeing a movie for the 2nd, 3rd, or 8th time! Sometimes you learn something new, or remember something that you forgot. And that's why each time is special.

In this episode, friendships got renewed. Relationships got stronger. New memories were made. The mediocre became great! I lift my drink to the girls of Oregon. Thanks for a great time!



And I leave you with this...The girls dancing.



Coming up next is my trip to Maine with the NYC crew for Lobster Fest.

One more thing of note: From New York to Portland, Continental offers non-stop service between EWR - PDX. They have a red-eye flight that totally saved me a vacation day.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Heading to the Coast - Oregon


After a fun trifecta weekend, Andrea had to head back up to Eugene to resume real life. So the dynamic duo of Tammy and I recruited a new third - Felicia (pictured left). I remember when I took my cross road country trip 3 years ago, we drove along the west coast in Washington, and I had wondered what the coast line of Oregon was like.

Tammy, Felicia, and I took a 2 hour drive out to the beach. We also brought Felicia's dog Saddy.


The Beach

2 hours later, we made it to the beach. So when you think west coast and beach, you think surfing. right? Here's the deal with the beach in Oregon (over Labor Day Wknd):

  • Very cloudy and almost gloomy - Since there are mountains that run along the west coast, orographic lift occurs, which causes a lot of clouds and eventually rain; This is the reason why Seattle is always so rainy.
  • The beach and the water is very cold - The rotating ocean current brings the cold water from Japan to the North American West Coast, and eventually warms again when it rotates down to California.
  • The beach is very windy and good for kite flying - This is due to the difference in the air temperatures along the water and mainland.
Re-cap:
Talk about good times! Our drive consisted of going up and down a variety of forest filled mountains and lakes. Since Felicia is a environmental law student, she knew a ton of stuff about the environment. Apparently a lot of the trees in the area we were driving were Douglas-Firs (a.k.a. Christmas Trees) and that most of the logging (tree cutting) industry takes place in the Pacific Northwest. BOOM! Instant education. We talked a bunch of global warming, and petroleum issues. That will be for another entry. But good times.


In my next entry, I'm going to close off Oregon with random pictures and a special video of the brat pack from Oregon (Andrea, Felicia, and Tammy). But for now, here are some pics from the day.



Monday, December 17, 2007

Go Ducks, eat a wing.


Me sitting on the edge of a cliff (left). The view from our hiking trip (right)

Andrea (pictured below on the left) came down to Portland from Eugene (about 2 hours away). And so begins the Miami Spring Break Reunion.



The background story: One of the best parts about traveling, are all of the different people that you meet. Just look at Brazil. We met 3 amazing couples, and then some. Spring Break in Miami is certainly no different. Amongst all of the beautiful babies that were ready to party Spring Break style, I met these 2 fools (look at the corn picture below). We danced, we partied; It was a good time. Through the miracles of e-mail and affordable national telephone plans, we kept in touch. Fast forward 4 years, and we come to present day - a little older, a little wiser, a little more partied out (I seriously can't physically party like I used to).

Now with Andrea in the picture, the beginning of my trip is complete - the trifecta is back!

So it's Saturday...which means one thing, COLLEGE FOOTBALL! Tammy and Andrea went to University of Oregon (Ducks), (the team to beat until Dennis Dixon got hurt). I went to University of Wisconsin (Badgers), who was ALSO having a huge year, until...well, they just sucked. Anyway, Oregon...so similar to Wisconsin, Oregon really has nothing to get excited about about or look forward to except for major college football, a bad NBA basketball team, and the comings of what sort of looks like a metropolitan lifestyle. Don't get me wrong, a beautiful place with lots of nature stuff to do, but Portland as a major city? Definitely no London or San Francisco.

However, back to football. Oregon pummeled Houston, Wisconsin spanked Washington, and life was in perfect harmony in Duck and Badger country. But what football day would be complete without chips, dip, sausage, and chicken wings. With that said, what weekend with the girls from O would be complete without us acting like complete fools?!? Videos and pictures are below.

And my trip to Portland in a brief paragraph: It's similar to other mid-major city in the likes of Seattle, Milwaukee, Houston, etc. However, there are differences. One unique thing about Portland is that it lies on the West Coast of the US. And so the weather is never ridiculously extreme. The coastal mountains allow for a decent amount of rain fall, which means LOTS of trees and the divine makings of nature all around. We drove 35 minutes away from the city of Portland and ended up at the hiking spot with waterfalls. There is definitely a nightlife, which made for some good times. They have their lounges meant for the grown and sexy, the dive bar with rock and occasional hip hop music, and even bars for the hipster in all of us. One really nice thing about Portland nightlife is that the venues are not ridiculously crowded to the point that you feel like you're being violated by wandering hands...Oregon has a great selection of local wines and beers available at any given grocery store, bar, or restaurant. Oregon wine is some of the finest in this country.

Now for some pics from our football and bbq extravaganza:




Tomorrow's entry will wrap it up and be about the beach.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Waterfalls in Oregon


Waterfalls in Oregon, originally uploaded by spiggot123.


I went hiking with Tammy the morning after I arrived to Portland, Oregon. What a beautiful hike! This place was awesome, it had waterfalls all over the place. I had never seen anything like it. Everywhere we walked, I would hear the rumblings of water. It felt a "peaceful serenity" soundtrack or something. It was so nice.

The weather was perfect - at a nice calm breezy 75F degrees. I wish hiking in NY was this divine.

It also helps to that I was hiking with a wonderful girl from Oregon. Good Times. Below are pics of the giant waterfall I showered in.



Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Oregon or Bust - pt. 2

Day One (cont...)

4:55pm - Will I make it to the airport in time?

5:10pm - And then my "Oh Sh*t!" moment...(see left picture for example)

I still need to check-in!!!

In circumstances like these, I always have a lifeline. Because it was then that I remembered that you can check-in online. But with no computer or internet access I am seemingly SOL (sh-t out of luck).

Lifelines...I call my hero Kim.




*ring* *ring*
Kim: Hello
Brian: Hey...kim...How's it going? So yeah, glad to hear things are good. blah blah blah (foofy foofy stuff). ok, KIM! I need a big favor.
Kim: What do you want from me now?
Brian: I'm on my way to the airport to go to Oregon and I'm late, as usual, and I didn't check into my flight. Can you do it up for me online? My OnePass number and password are as follows...

Alpha Niner Fred Kappa Charlie Beta Delta Murphy (yaddy yaddah...)

5:25pm - All checked-in, I haul ass to the airplane with my hair flopping around all over the place. Between the heat and me sweating my rear off, my hair product basically melted and streamed down my face. Not my best look.

"Dear G-D,

If I am to sit next to Alessandra Ambrosio on the plane, please give her beer goggles, and bless me with mad game so that I may properly MAK it to her.

Amen"

Hair may be floppy, but at least I made the flight with about 10 minutes to spare. And in 5.5 hours, I get to hang out with these two genii.



No bust...

P.S. Newark is a really good airport to fly out of. I have never had any delays what so ever. And it is much easier to get to from the city than JFK and LaGuardia. Continental has a hub over there. I flew direct from Newark to Portland. It was awesome! So convenient.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Portland, Oregon or Bust!


Me at a waterfall in Oregon.

My 2nd trip to Portland, Oregon. Honestly, who the heck goes to Oregon of all places? It's like saying that you're going to Idaho...Oh wait, I HAVE been to Idaho.

Actually, Oregon is a really neat place. It has a great mix of nature and metropolitan life, without all of the congestion. I can actually walk through the streets without bumping into anyone. It's a great place to get away from it all. Also helps to have 2 ridiculous friends to visit too! More to come on them later. Let's get this trip started!

Honestly, what trip would be complete without another one of my ridiculous airport stories!

Day One:

Full day of work as usual. My flight is at 6pm at Newark Int'l. My office is at the World Financial Center. I was supposed to leave work at 3pm. But as usual, I'm late...AGAIN!

So I end up leaving work at around 3:30pm (I hope my boss isn't reading this). Haul ass to Penn Station to take NJ Transit to Newark.

4:00pm - Arrive at Penn Station. HUGE LINE for NJ Transit ticket

4:10pm - Still on line. 1st train to Newark leaves.

4:25pm - Still on line!!! 2nd train to Newark leaves.

4:35pm - Lady in front of me pays with CASH!!! CASH!!! She sticks it in, and the machine won't read her money. Spits it out. She tries to flatten it out. Sticks it in. *waiting...waiting...*

...

...

...Spits it back out again. AHH!!! Again, smoothening the creases. Sticks it back in. *waiting...waiting...*

"Processing Ticket!" YES!!! Lady get out of my way.

Not so fast. She didn't use exact change so now I have to wait for all of her freakin' change to fall out.

4:40pm - "Last call for the train to Trenton (Newark is on the way). All aboard!" *SH-T!!!* Select stations, credit card, pay bounce! 1.5 minutes. Running again like Home Alone, except there was bad Penn Station jazz music.

4:44pm - Get on the track. Doors closing. It literally felt like I leaped into the train. Made it! Sweaty and everything. On my way to the airport. flight is at 6pm!!!

4:55pm - OMG. It's 4:55pm! Will I make it on time?

The conclusion to this saga coming up tomorrow!

Does this suspenseful ending officially make me an ass?




By the way...please use credit cards when there is a long line. Don't you ever watch those silly visa commercials?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Monday, December 3, 2007

More Pictures

These are extra pictures that never made it to the individual posts. But definitely worthy of view. enjoy.

Next week, I write up on my trip to Maine for Lobster Fest, and then Oregon to visit some old friends.










Brazilian girls doing a Brazilian electric slide at Sauipe Fest.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Check List for Brazil - Never Leave Home Without It



As I close out this chapter on Brazil, I made a very short list of must-haves when going on your trip to Brazil. I'm always forgetting stuff that I realize I need when I'm actually on my way to the airport. Camera charger and extra SD cards are definitely on the top 10 of most forgotten things for me.

And sometimes, you just don't realize that you need it. I didn't know until about 4 weeks before my trip that Brazil requires a Tourist Visa when traveling from the US. And it wasn't till I arrived that I found that Visa is the preferred credit card of choice. American Express and Mastercard aren't accepted everywhere.

Nevertheless, have fun and stay safe. Brazil is a great place visit. God speed.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Pensive Man


Thinking Man, originally uploaded by spiggot123.

This is a great in the moment shot taken by Angel. Notice how the gentleman is sitting there in deep thought. The irony is that he sells melons for a living. Meanwhile, the gentleman on the right, is counting his money perhaps to make a purchase. Beautiful use to light contrast and several levels of depth perception. Beautiful shot!

Hot Dog Stand in Salvador, Brazil


Hot Dog Stand, originally uploaded by spiggot123.

This is even cheaper than the Recession special at Gray's Papaya!!! But from the looks of it, it doesn't seem too popular.

Graffiti in Salvador, Brazil




Graffiti in Brazil is so different from that of New York. If you take a closer look at the pictures above (just click on them), you'll see that they're actual pictures of things, characters, etc. It's really beautiful artwork. I think sometimes graffiti in NY gets a bad rap because many times people view it as just destructive without any inherent beauty. But if you look at these examples, you'll see that it's so bright, colorful, bold, and well thought out. This graffiti is everywhere, and doesn't seem like it's professionally done. But instead, just some amateur artists looking to have some creative fun.