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Mini Maine Vacation – Part 2

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We left Portland about 2 minutes before getting a parking ticket. We literally ran past the parking attendant to get to our car before he did. Phew. From there it was a short drive to Freeport and we just had to stop for some shopping and dining. We had a ball walking through LLBean where Karlo found a new toy that suits him to a T.

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After a great seafood lunch and some shopping we hopped back in the car for our last leg of the trip to Rockland. It sure was beautiful to drive through all the quaint coastal towns at the peak of the foliage. It was simply gorgeous. Just as we got into Rockland the building clouds decided to part and let the late afternoon sun beam down. We decided to make a dash up to our land because we never saw it in the afternoon light before. There is no doubt that we are looking forward to seeing it during every minute of the day.

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It was time to check in to the campground and get settled in. Luckily we didn’t have to actually pitch a tent, but instead opted to rent a little log cabin. This pleased me greatly. Sometimes it’s a luxury just to be able to stand up when you get out of bed. Finding out there was electricity . . . well that was just icing on the cake!

The best part of our new digs was the fact that it was right on the ocean. We could hear the waves crashing at night and every morning we had our breakfast in this little private area with some pretty sweet views. I have to say, it was hard to move from this nice sunny spot every morning.

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But we had to motivate ourselves because we had some exploring to do. We wanted to get more familiar with the area that would someday be our home. We headed over to Owls Head, which is just a short 10 minute drive. We visited the lighthouse and walked around the beautiful little secluded beach.

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One important thing we wanted to accomplish while there was to check out the local hiking spots. We are so spoiled right now with tons of hiking options – not to mention the fact that one of our favorite trails is literally in our backyard. It’s going to be hard to give that up and we needed the piece of mind of knowing that we didn’t have to travel too far for good hiking. Well, this is what we discovered only a couple of miles from our land. I could see us packing lunch and hiking up to this spot every day!

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We kept ourselves very busy for 4 days. I was concerned about not having a proper hotel room to come back to and what would we do if we got bored, but that was never an issue. Every day was jam packed with things to do. And when and if there was a free moment it was easy to grab our cameras and find something pretty to point our lens at. That is super easy to do around there. I can see this lighthouse and breaker becoming another favorite spot. We walked out one evening for sunset and Karlo got a chance to practice shooting moving objects. The seagulls were good sports and, for the most part, posed for him.

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I just loved the late day light. Nothing beats it for portraits. Even I can take a nice people picture in this light.

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One of the locals happened to mention that there were seals out on the distant rocks. This is a terrible picture, but if you look close you can see a big white seal on one of the rocks.

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We liked it so much we came back the next morning for sunrise. You gotta love shooting sunrises in mid October because it allows me to actually “sleep in.” We walked the entire two miles out to the lighthouse and back before the sun was fully up.

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I’m looking forward to watching many more sunrises from that spot.

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Mini Maine Vacation – Part 1

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I was supposed to be spending an entire week in Maine this past week for another Maine Media Workshop. My heart broke when the news came in that the class was canceled. This one of my Bucket List items that I’ve been wanting to do and finally decided to go for it. All that thinking, all that planning, and then it was taken away. What a bummer. But since I had the week off from work I decided to twist Karlo’s arm into taking some vacation time along with me so we can do some playing.

Our little adventure started on Saturday and to my delight I discovered that Saturday was the official worldwide Scott Kelby Photo Walk. This is where photographers all over the globe get together in small groups to walk around designated places to take photos. What a great way to start off our (me and Karlo’s) new shared interest in photography.

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We headed out nice and early and made it to Portland, Maine where it just so happens that my old photographer buddy “Other Scott” – not to be confused with the real Scott Kelby – was hosting a walk. It was great, not only to reunite with him after not talking to him for so long, but also to watch Karlo have a little fun with his camera. I can tell already that he’s taking a liking to this and I couldn’t be happier.

Portland is a super cute little city right on the water with cobblestone streets and hip little shops and cafes. As far as cities goes it totally gets our approval and it wasn’t hard to try to find interesting things to take photos of.

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One of the most interesting things we stumbled upon was a piece of the actual Berlin Wall. I took many shots, but something about the simplicity of this one appealed to me.

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There was no shortage of nautical things everywhere you turned.

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There was also not shortage of interesting looking people.

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Since we were actually on an “art walk” I couldn’t resist snapping this photo of the newspaper.

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When I got bored with the nautical and the people watching I started looking closer at the details. That’s when I looked down at my feet and found some cool shots right on the ground.

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As it turns out Karlo seems to be gravitating more toward taking photos of people which surprised me. Right now he seems to be practicing a lot with me as his subject, but if that what’s it takes to get him to shoot I’ll pose and say “Cheese.”

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Well there’s no doubt . . . even after just one short afternoon in Maine I was ready to buy this shirt, but really . . . who would wear a shirt that says, “I love me”!?!?

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New England Rocks

It seems to take me going to photography workshops to fully appreciate the true beauty of New England. If fact, I have to credit the workshop that I attended last Fall for making me want to stay in New England rather than run off to Colorado like we were so very ready to do. I told Karlo that it was fate and I was meant to be sitting in Vermont with a bunch of strangers one night talking about how simply perfect New England was. Every word that was exchanged effected me so deeply that the first chance I got I had to have a heart-to-heart with Karlo and it went something like this . . . “I can’t leave New England. It’s where I belong!” Luckily Karlo didn’t put up too much of a fight and we stopped looking at real estate in Colorado and focused our attention on Maine. I’m so grateful for that workshop one year ago and as I was in nearly the same shoes this past weekend I just knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that we made the right decision.

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Last Thursday me and my Mini took a nearly 6 hour drive up to Northern New Hampshire. I can’t say that I was looking forward to the long lonely drive, but to my surprise it was awesome. It was a fast and easy cruise up to the Merrimack outlets where I stopped for a break to stretch my legs and use the rest room. Yah, that’s it . . . that’s why I stopped there . . . not to shop or anything. One hot awesome new winter coat (that I so did not need) later I hopped back into Coop and off we went. Before I knew it we were at the base of the White Mountains and that’s when the leaves came alive. It had to be peak foliage and from there all the way up to my destination (another 3 hours north) it was nothing short of spectacular. No more highway – just winding twisting perfect Mini Cooper roads. I loved every minute of it. Well, until I lost my GPS signal. Those were some scary and frustrating minutes, especially when that means no cell service either. In fact, there was never any cell service anywhere around there. Talk about roughing it . . . 10 high tech photographers with no cell connectivity for 4 days. Not easy.

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We stayed in a gorgeous log cabin right on one of the Connecticut Lakes. Who knew that there were 3 “Connecticut Lakes” in Northern NH? That had to be some of the nicest scenery I ever seen – anywhere – and I’ve seen some pretty amazing places. There is just nothing that can compare to the quintessential New England scenery during the Fall. It can literally take your breath away.

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I so enjoyed myself for four straight days of picture taking. Lord knows I can never get enough of playing with my cameras. The group of people that attended the workshop were all super and, as always, I instantly made a bunch of new friends (even with some Canon shooters) 😉

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The theme of the workshop was “Nature” and I sort of struggled with that. I was among some amazing wildlife photographers that had lenses bigger than my car. Believe me, it’s not easy to stand next to them with my rinky dink 300mm lens when I can barely get a slow moving duck in focus as they are capturing birds flying through the air tack sharp. Sigh.

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This is when I just resolved myself to the fact that everyone has their niche and mine will never be wildlife. I don’t excel at shooting things that move. Period.

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But I do pride myself on my creative eye and finding art where others don’t see much of anything. Some folks can stand at the side of a lake for hours and wait for their subjects to ‘fly in’ and then capture them. With my attention span that could never work for me. I would rather go on my “treasure hunt” and create the photos. Where there’s a will there’s a way, but I can’t will a creature to appear for me. If I could I would have come home with lots of moose pictures!

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Instead I came home with some nice artsy fartsy pictures. I had to laugh when I realized that after 4 days and hundreds upon hundreds of photos I had almost no “nature” photos at all. I have to throw a few in here just to prove that I did at least try.

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The very very best part of this entire trip was coming home to talk to Karlo about it. My heart broke when he emailed me to tell me that he missed me and wanted to drive his motorcycle up on Saturday and spend the night with me. I was staying in the “girl cave” and it just wasn’t going to work so I had to tell him no. It broke my heart and that’s when I starting thinking about how nice it would be if photography was also Karlo’s passion. How does he know he wouldn’t love it if he never tries it? I fantasized about going to workshops with him rather than always feeling guilty taking off without him. After expressing all this to him to my surprise he said he’s game. He wants to try it!!! I am positively over the moon at the thought of being able to share my passion with him and I’m so excited to get him started. I can already tell that my “photography cabinet” will have to be expanded.

Footnote: As I was composing this blog entry Karlo called me from Chicago. He’s on a business trip and I shipped him out with an old DSLR body and one lens for him to start to get the feel of things. He called to tell me that he “didn’t have the right lens.” Oh boy did I have to laugh at that one. Welcome to my world Karlo. Maybe now you can finally relate to the story of my life! Lenses are like shoes, you can never have enough . . .

The Land of the Big Sky

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Everybody knows that Montana is called the land of the Big Sky so it should have been no big surprise to see it . . . But it was still breathtakingly shocking to see in person. Words just can’t describe it and I know you’re thinking, “she is bound to have a ton of photos to describe it,” but sadly I found that impossible too. I just couldn’t capture the magnitude and greatness of it and do it any justice at all. It was awesome in the truest sense of that word. One thing is for sure, I should not have been driving because I was so distracted by the scenery that I can’t believe I didn’t crash the car!

Besides the incredible scenery, the other thing that really stood out about this place was the friendliness of the people. I’ve visited a lot of places in my life and never experienced anything like this sort of friendliness. Every single person I encountered seemed so truly happy and helpful. It was like a huge breathe of fresh air. I so enjoyed every single interaction . . . at the airport, the car rental, the school, the stores, the restaurant. Montana must be the happiest state in the country.

Another observation was how I changed just being there. Because everyone was so incredibly warm and friendly so was I. I went out of my way and had a ball striking up conversations with people everywhere I went. And here’s another interesting observation I stumbled upon as I made my way back across the country. On the plane from Montana to Colorado the older woman sitting next to me chatted with me the entire trip – about everything and anything. She even asked my name and as we parted hours later she said, “Good luck and have a safe trip home Paula.” She remembered my name! I don’t think that has ever happened to me on a flight.

Then on the flight from Colorado to North Carolina I chatted here and there with the lady (who happened to be close to my age) sitting next to me. We never got into personal stories about our lives like with the lady from Montana, but we chatted about iPad apps, airport stuff, flight details, etc. and certainly felt comfortable sitting next to each other. But on the last flight from North Carolina to Connecticut it was a completely different story. The younger woman sitting next to me to me never even looked at nor awknowledged me. It was the typical East coast coldness that I’m so used to. Not only was it typical of the East Coast, but also of the younger generations. It’s funny how I noticed the same thing at work. Most folks under the age of 30 will purposefully put their heads down and not make eye contact when you pass by them in the hall. It’s sad how we’ve become such a cold and unfriendly society. Everybody should travel to Montana in their lives to see how pleasant life could be if we were all friendly to each other.

Sunflower Fields Forever

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It’s been years of me wanting to visit the Buttonwood Farm in Griswold, CT for their sunflower event, but every single year I find out about it too late. It’s only one short week of sunflower festivities and I was so happy when I discovered that the event started last weekend and would be ending this weekend. I promptly made weekend plans to be there and the weather miraculously cooperated.

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I love sunflowers to death. They are, by far, my favorite flower. It might have something to do with Tuscany and the fact that they remind me of Italy. It may also have something to do with the fact that I love yellow and they just plain make me happy. It was just a pure treat to go and witness the beauty of millions of sunflowers taking over a field on an idyllic Summer afternoon.

I, of course, had my camera at my side and was in my glory snapping away.

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I could have continued to shoot all day, but we had pressing socializing to do and I can’t even believe that I forgot to take a picture of what is becoming our annual “pineapple rendezvous” with our buddies Jean and Paul. Jean was the one that introduced us to the amazing pineapple slicer way back then and we sure do get lots of use out of it. Nothing was sweeter than sharing, not only the fresh pineapple, but some good laughs as well.

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It’s a good thing we brought our own pineapple because the wait for ice cream was over an hour and the lineup was in the sun. There wasn’t a snowball’s chance in Hell that Karlo was going to endure that – not even for ice cream! I hope some day we can go back just for the ice cream and experience just what sunflower ice cream is all about. But for now my only ‘take away’ from this trip is the pretty pictures of my flowers that will never die.

The Joys of Travel

I knew Helena, Montana wouldn’t be an easy place to get to, but I was not prepared for what I had to endure. Nothing could have prepared me for it because I’m simply not a patient enough person. I was put to the test for sure and at this point I’m just happy that: 1) I didn’t lose it and get arrested, and 2) I got the job done that I set out to do. Here’s the story of my travel adventures. I need to warn you, when Karlo asked me to tell him the story my answer was, “There’s not enough charge on my phone to tell the whole story.” So it’s a long one . . .

Everything was going perfectly smoothly up until getting to Kansas City. Despite the air traffic control issues that were beginning on this day I managed to make two flights pretty much on time. But things went downhill quickly in Kansas City. My next flight to Denver was going to be delayed late enough to make me miss my connecting flight to Montana. This not only caused me grief, but lots of other people were in my same shoes which also caused chaos at the airport. I had to endure dreadfully long lines to see what my options were. After my long wait in line I get a United agent that was about as helpful as a dead cat. I took deep breathes and repeated my questions as slowly and clearly as I could with my hands in my pocket to make it easier to refrain from choking the woman.

The bottom line was that I missed the one and only flight into Helena and they couldn’t get me there until the following EVENING. I was only going for one day so that I can complete a photo shoot that I needed to do in the MORNING. I explained this, but it didn’t seem to make any difference. I got the same answer. “We can get you there tomorrow night. Or we can refund the flight.” But here’s the kicker, my first two flights were USAir and my second two flights were United so what good is half a refund when I just lost 2 days of my life and the job still didn’t get done?

I needed to make a quick decision, give up and go home or painstakingly try some alternate ideas. Like a fool I decided that I needed to do whatever it took to do my job. I requested to speak with a different agent (perhaps as helpful as a live cat this time) and I asked her to transfer me to another airline and send me to a different airport if necessary. I had to desperately search maps on my phone to figure out what other airport was within driving distance and we found an option (Bozeman) that I could get to late this same night. I would have a 2 hour drive the next morning, but that was doable. I was assured that this flight was on time and I would make it despite the fact that I had to reclaim my suitcase and boogie to the Delta terminal, God only knows where. The next thing I had to do was deal with Expedia on the phone as I tried to change my hotel and car reservations to this new city. OK, everything is on track and I thought it was a go.

I received clear instructions on where to pick up my suitcase and how to find the shuttle to the other terminal. I  had an hour to get on the next plane so it shouldn’t have been too bad. I waited and waited for my suitcase that never came. Luckily somebody saw me pacing around and came to help me. Apparently they grabbed and sent the wrong bag to the carousel. I lost 20 minutes here. Then I just missed the next shuttle and had to wait outside in the cold damp rain another 10 minutes. I made it to the checkin and had to pay my baggage fee again, which ticked me off, but not nearly as much as the next episode.

I now had to go through the security check point again. I had to throw away the $3 bottle of water that I just bought at the other gate and then I had to endure the most ridiculous thing I ever witnessed at security. Please keep in mind that me and my camera bag have been through 3 check points by this time with no issues what-so-ever, but strangely now my camera equipment was a major security threat and I needed a full body pat down. After running the bag through two times and not being satisfied, the most incompetent of all TSA agents decided to completely unpack the gear bag that took me over an hour to pack just right. She literally took out every SINGLE piece of individual equipment: camera bodies (3 of them), lenses (3 of them), microphones (3 of them), audio recorder, flash, flash modifiers, tripod attachments, every single battery (you don’t even want to know how many that was), and every little do-hicky like remote controls, cleaners, etc. that I had tucked away. Every piece had to get individually swiped and run through the machine. EVERY PIECE! I thought I would lose it right there. I asked if I would still make my flight and her answer was, “I don’t know” in the bitchiest tone I ever heard. God, I wanted to reach out and choke the life out of her. I stood there for what seemed like hours watching 3 TSA agents huddled over the screen as every piece went through the scanner. Meanwhile a fourth agent as shaking his head in disbelief and apologizing to me. He was embarrassed for their stupidity. And a fifth agent was just all too excited to see all the gear and try to help me repack my back while drilling me dozens of stupid questions like, “Do you make a lot of money?” Steam was coming out of my ears at this point. I made it to the gate with what I thought would be minutes to spare.

But no, that flight was also being delayed – severely delayed and my hopes of getting to Montana this night were dwindling. I have to say that Delta handles these situations about a million times better than United and I was impressed with everybody from Delta. In a nutshell there was no hopes of me getting out of Kansas City, Misery that night and I was able to rebook my flights back to Helena (where I wanted to go in the first place) for the next morning. At this point I had no idea if I would even be able to get into the school where my photo shoot was 5 hours late for my appointment, but I was just going for it.

Next it was the same scenario all over again with retrieving my suitcase. I had to go to the same sort of carousel and wait for them to send just my bag up. And again, I waited and and waited. I made good use of the time by booking a hotel for that night and also changed my other hotel and car reservations back to Helena. I picked a hotel that offered free shuttle service from the airport to the hotel, only they got there before I got my bag. Just perfect. I had no choice but to let him go and asked if he could come back for me. He promised to be back in 30 minutes.

Now I’m stuck. There’s no bag and nobody around to ask for assistance. After standing there looking like a dope forever, somebody finally walked by. I explained my situation and they were to check. Sure enough, they were not able to get my bag and it was being sent to Minneapolis and then on to Bozeman the next day. Sigh. I give up. They handed me a toothbrush and off I went to wait for the shuttle . . . . that never came back. Holy cow by this point it felt like midnight. I couldn’t take one more minute and I called a taxi.

The taxi arrived and I jumped in, told the driver the name of the hotel and he doesn’t know where it is. Not only that, but he can barely speak English. I tried to help him spell “Holiday Inn” to plug it into his GPS, but he literally didn’t know the difference between an “l” and and “i”. It was hopeless. I was never getting out of this godforsaken airport. I was on the phone with Karlo in tears.

Luckily another guy needed a taxi and asked if he could share mine. I agreed and this kind soul used his phone to find my hotel and guide the driver turn-by-turn to get me there. Sleep did not happen this night and before I knew it it was 4:30am. Time to get up and go back to the airport to do it all over again.

I checked in and made it a point to go back to that same exact security machine. I think part of me just wanted more things to go wrong. I think I wanted to miss my flight so I could, once and for all, just give up and go home. But sure as shit, my camera bag sailed through the machine without the slightest hiccup. This just made me want to hunt down that TSA agent and beat her silly.

My next two flights were uneventful (thank God) and I got to Helena as scheduled. I was promised my suitcase would be there waiting for me, the only problem was that there wasn’t a soul at the ticket counter to talk to. This is what the airport looked like:

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I just couldn’t spare the time so I took off. I had no make up on, unwashed hair, wearing the same clothes as the day before and with no tripods, but I was determined to get the job done. As it turns out I was 5 hours late for the shoot, but I still managed to pull it off. What a relief to walk out of that school with the ridiculous amount of stress and pressure behind me.

Flight Training Complete

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I just got back from three long days at Photoshop World. This was my 4th time attending this big conference and sadly the thrill and excitement lessens each time I go. I was especially looking forward to this event because it was going to be the first time that I was attending as “a photographer” rather than a “graphic designer.” In all the previous years I yearned to sit in on the photography sessions, but always felt guilty because “work” was sending me and, at that time, photography wasn't a big part of my job. But that has since changed and now I need to become a better photographer for work-related reasons. After all, the company is sending me out to Montana next week just to shoot pictures. I better do a good job.

So here I was, as a photographer, ready to soak in all the knowledge that I could . . . but I soon realized that I've spent so much time over the past 3 years trying to learn as much as I could from books, videos, workshops, etc, that there is simply nothing more that I can hear about the subject that I don't already know. I think I'm maxed out on photography knowledge. I got the theories and techniques down pat. I get it all. The only thing that is going to make me a better photographer at this point is practice, practice, and more practice and sadly sitting through lectures isn't going to do the trick.

But with all that said, it was still a good time. I enjoyed watching all the presentations given by some very famous photographers. I enjoyed my lunch breaks by the pool.

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And I especially liked walking around the trade show full of photography related stuff. I used my next trip as a good excuse to buy a new professional camera bag. I figured with the amount of crap that I need to haul around now, I must be a professional.

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I just hope that I stick with my determination to try to some new things and practice what I already know. Fingers crossed that my next trip goes smoothly and I do a good job. I at least have to earn the new bag I bought.

9 Greek Islands in 7 Days (Part 1)

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What a great experience it was to visit 9 different islands in one week. We sailed what is known as the Cyclades Islands in the heart of Greece on a 150 ft. wooden sailboat called the Panagiota. The name “Cyclades” refers to the islands forming a circle (the name in English means: “circular islands”) around the sacred island of Delos. According to the Greek mythology, Poseidon, God of the sea, furious at the Cyclades nymphs turned them into islands.

We started our journey from the mainland port of Pireaus outside of Athens. From there we sailed to Kythnos which is famous for its cheese and honey. Unfortunately we didn't sample any of the cheese, but fortunately we also didn't get stung by any bees. On this island we biked up to the village of Chora which was your typical Greek setting. All the houses were glistening white with pretty blue doors and shutters and connected by tight alleyways that were painted with flowers on the ground. Here we learned that the locals repaint those flowers and their houses every year before Easter keeping everything looking fresh and clean.

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Our next stop was Seriphos Island and again the village was on the top of the mountain and again the views were unreal.

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One of the highlights of this day was visiting the Byzantine monastery of the Archangel Michael. The resident monk greeted us at the door and gave everyone some kind of special candy that we had to eat before entering. Way better than the Catholic wafers!

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This was the tiny door leading into the monastery.

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After Seriphos came Siphnos and you can already see how it was hard to keep track of the island names. Rarely did we remember where we were. Siphnos was again, in a word . . . spectacular. Another big serpentine climb to the cliff side village offering the most incredible views of the ocean and an adorable little church on the water. I wonder how many Greek girls dream of getting married there.

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From Siphnos we sailed to Syros. It's main town is the capital of the Cyclades and this was the biggest port town of all the islands we visited. It was like a little clean city with lots of good shopping.

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Luckily we had an easier time finding dinner and enjoyed strolling all the alleyways. The biking was a bit easier here and our big destination attraction was a beach rather than a hilltop village. Unfortunately the water was way too cold for me, but my hearty Canadian didn't seem to mind. I amused myself taking photos of the fishing boats while he swam.

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Please stay tuned for Part 2 of our Greek adventure . . .

It's All Greek To Me

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And I thought Hungarian was a difficult language. Greek makes it look easy! Still not sure how we managed to get ourselves from the airport to the hotel via public transportation, but it was smooth sailing the entire way. We later found out that there was indeed a demonstration in Athens later that same day that stopped the buses and trains. Boy did we luck out arriving early in the day and missing all that excitement.

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The port city of Pireas was really just a big (mostly ugly) city. I guess it’s a mini Athens and we are just not too keen on big cities. Luckily we didn’t have to spend too much time there . . . just enough to get our bearings, adjust to the 8 hour time difference, and have a couple of meals. I thought it would be a great opportunity to try improve my “street photography” skills. Street photography has to be one of the biggest challenges for me. I suck at it – even with a 300mm lens. I’m just so not comfortable pointing my camera at strangers. I think this was my best shot because my subject actually looked at me.

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Here’s another (sort of bad photo) of my subjects looking at me, but we had to cheat and tip them for it so it doesn’t really count as “street photography.”Greece_-4-2

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this store and it seems everywhere I go in Europe I always find a store or restaurant with this name.

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It seems eating is always a challenge in foreign lands (for various reasons) and we had our share of difficulties eating here. It was like flashbacks to Spain where we never wanted to eat at the appropriate times. Eating on the customary Spain schedule was impossible and apparently just finding an appropriate restaurant in Greece was impossible too. We literally walked the city for an hour with the sole intent of finding dinner. How is it possible to walk through a city for that long without finding food? Mind boggling, but the good news is that we got extra exercise, didn’t go hungry, and the beer was always good.

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We found our boat in the marina with no problems and were very happy to hop aboard our new floating home – where the dining room was very easy to find. It was a pleasant surprise to find that most of the other guests were Americans. This was very rare on these trips and I was thrilled. It was like meeting 18 instant new friends.

It’s very unlike me, but I did zero research prior to booking or traveling to this destination. I was not aware that Greece was “the mountains” nor did I know that the Aegean Sea is notoriously windy. Due to the high winds and the rough seas we set sail the first night to try to beat some of the upcoming rougher seas. Nobody was prepared for that, but off we went for the start of our adventure. Might as well start off with a bang. It was a bit of a challenging dinner, this time for different reasons, and I’m just thrilled that I was among the lucky ones that didn’t get sea sick. And there began our week of sailing the Cyclades Islands.

My Quest for Clean

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I vividly remember the week that I started reading a book called “Clean.”  It was not a good week at all. It was the week following my first little bike ride, when my nerves were acting up and causing me all sorts of grief. I spent a lot of time in tears, so sure that the surgery was not a success and depressed that my dream of getting my life back was shattered. I desperately wanted some good news. I wanted a magic pill that would just make things all better.

The week before this scenario, I just happened to pick this book up from the kitchen table at work. While waiting for my water to boil I quickly flipped through some of the pages. I just wanted to get right down to it. What was the Clean diet and why would I do it? As luck would have it, the book very clearly stated why the diet would be beneficial and it immediately peaked my interest.

It’s hard to summarize without writing pages upon pages (which I can easily do because I absorbed every word and not many things in life made so much sense to me), but in a nutshell the book explains how toxins are effecting our health. And toxins are everywhere. They are impossible to escape. Not only are they in just about everything we put into our mouths, but they are also in the air we breath, in the soaps and lotions that we slather all over our body and on the fabrics that we allow to touch our bodies. There is simply no escaping them. Yes, this does sound like a very depressing and scary topic and I guess it is, but at the same time it gave me so much hope. The book explained how all of these toxins effect us. It listed multiple symptoms that may be caused by too much toxic build up and it promised that in just 3 weeks of eating properly you could reverse much of this damage. The stories told were incredible and I just had to give it a try. Not only would it possibly fix my foggy brain, fatigue, itchy ears, running nose, and an assortment of other nuisances, but what if it could help my chronic nerve issues? There was just so much to gain and nothing to lose (except maybe a couple of pounds) that I had to explore it further.

And so I embarked on my 3-week Clean diet detox. I’m now past the 2 week point and I’m very proud of making it this far. Sure, it’s a challenge. For me, the actual diet (avoiding all kinds of foods and eating the same old handful of things day and day out) was not bad at all. I could do it forever. It’s the preparation that is killing me. Every morning starts with a smoothie for breakfast and no less than 10 things go into that smoothly. Just gathering all the ingredients takes me 10 minutes, then there’s the blending and the washing. No question that a bowl of Quick Oats is a million times easier, but the truth is that smoothie really does keep me full all morning long. Rarely do I get hungry for a snack before lunch. And I can still snack, as long as it’s one of the few approved foods.

Lunches are just as much work. Those are supposed to be the biggest meal of the day, but when you only take a 30 minute break at work it’s just not realistic to be cooking the approved elaborate healthy and pure meals. I’ve been eating a salad with various items added to it every day. And again. those various items take a lot of time to prepare. I’m getting tired just thinking about all this food prep work. I swear fasting would be easier.

Dinners are supposed to be liquid only, but I haven’t been playing by those rules for fear of losing weight. Every single night for 2 weeks I’ve either eaten veggie soup or a salad. And the kicker is that not all veggies are allow. Not even all fruits. Everything I put into my mouth has to be on the very short list of “approved foods” but now that I have those foods memorized it’s not so hard.

One thing is for sure, eating this healthy is very expensive. I’m eating less than half the amount of food and paying more than double, but I’m sure it will all be worth it. I just love knowing that, at this point, my body is as close to clean and pure as possible. Of course, I still have a long way to go at removing the non-natural soaps and lotions, but I’m taking steps toward improving that as well. It will be a long slow process evolving toward Clean living, but I’m excited to be heading in that direction. I highly recommend picking up a copy of the book yourself if you’re at all interested in the subject of health and nutrition. I also blogged about this subject on my YogaDudes blog and if your curious to read more, please click here: