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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Monday, February 22, 2016


It's the first morning of the year where the sun is far enough north in the morning to pierce my office windows.  Spring is coming. It feels good. It was ridiculously mild this weekend too. I mean, I was walking around with my jacket unzipped for crying out loud.

Even though this winter has been milder than most up here I've still reached that point where a tropical vacation is looking pretty good (Let's face it, that's been happening since I got back from Nica last March). So, I've been planning one. You know I have.

This one: Guadeloupe. In the Caribbean, not Mexico...the Mexico one is not even spelled the same. Just focus. Here's where it is on Google maps in case you have no idea. Why Guadeloupe? Several reasons. I've never been to the Caribbean before and have wanted to go for as long as I can remember...though I've never been interested in the typical Caribbean vacation: cruises, resorts, touristy shit. Nope. Not for me. So, then, Guadeloupe happens to be the easiest one to get to that is off the beaten path and not covered in resorts. No, in fact, there are rain forests, volcanoes, deserted beaches (some of them all nude), rum distilleries, hiking, organic tropical fruits, world class diving, an underwater nature reserve, probably monkeys and French and Creole speaking people. Yes, Guadeloupe is a French overseas department still so I'll get to use my French a little, if not a lot. Excited? You bet I am.

It all started with landing on articles like this, this and this while searching for seclusion and adventure in the Caribbean. I had originally zeroed in on Dominica for a destination.  It had everything. Beaches, jungles, volcanoes, wildlife, history, French speaking people, and it was off the beaten path for sure. But it was too off the beaten path. Flying into the place took two to three connections on most itineraries that were popping up and, in some cases, overnight stays on another island. That had me initially considering going ahead and making this a two or three island visit. I even considered making the second leg of the trip a ferry ride instead of a flight as there is a pretty extensive network of ferries that go between many of the islands.  The method became, find a direct flight from NYC to one of these islands and then take a roughly two hour ferry ride over to Dominica.

So this is how I landed on Guadeloupe (Gwada as the locals affectionately call it). There were flights to Barbados, Montserrat and Puerto Rico that were direct and I figured I could fly from any of these over but Montserrat and Guadeloupe were close enough to ferry and Guadeloupe seemed like it had enough going on that we could justify staying a few days there. There were even several smaller islands that are all a part of Guadeloupe, reachable by the same ferry system.  In fact, people usually consider Guadeloupe an archipelago of five islands and that's if you don't consider all the smaller atolls and sand spits surrounding it but I digress. I started to really discover Guadeloupe and become intrigued by it...and I also discovered that the ferries are shit. No one anywhere on the web had anything good to say about them and where they did, it was only generic reviews. The worst ones went from detailing the all too common delays and cancellations and the difficulty in getting a refund in the case of delays, all the way to people vomiting in bags due to rough seas.  No thanks.

So back to Guadeloupe itself, I also became intrigued by Soufriére. the semi active volcano on the jungle side of Guadeloupe, the larger island called Basse Terre. Easier to hike than Concepción in Nicaragua and featuring countless fumaroles and mud pits and hot springs and waterfalls. I was sold. I might make this a thing, hiking active volcanoes.

The next phase of planning had us scanning Airbnb's on the island. I ultimately decided we should split our stay between opposite sides of the island just for the sake of not having to drive an hour to get to and from the airport but also so that we wouldn't have to drive an hour to get to the trailhead for the volcano hike.  We settled on staying in Le Gosier, just outside the town where the airport is located, for the first few days, exploring the flatter eastern island of Grand Terre. Then we will move to Basse Terre to a little town called Saint Claude on the flanks of the mountainous region where we will explore Basse Terre, its national park area, the zoological park, the rum distilleries and the mountains and waterfalls. And of course, hike the volcano.

I can't believe it's happening in ten days. I'm already doing packing dry runs and seeing what I can fit in one bag, since we're taking a direct from JFK to Point-à-Pitre and I don't want to check anything if I can help it. Among the things I will be cramming in my bag? Camera equipment. A few months ago, I was walking with a friend outside the Barclays Center and stumbled on a GoPro Hero 3 camera on a monopod laying on the ground. It had obviously fallen out of the bag of some hapless tourist. I immediately swiped it up because I figured this person probably just got right on a train and could potentially have not even realized where and when he dropped it. So naturally, someone was probably going to pick it up long before he could get back there and it might as well be me. Knowing how much that would suck to lose a pricey camera like that along with all the photos and videos on it, I tried my best to figure out if there was any way to get in touch with this person. All I could determine was that this person was most likely French and had done a mud race in Lyon months prior and had come to New York, seen the sights and then dropped his camera right in my path. I tried Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter but I ultimately gave up...and then purchased a pack of GoPro accessories to have fun with while we're on vacation.

So expect not just pictures but HD underwater video. We leave on March 2nd and return on the 11th. Hopefully by then, I'll be getting even more sun through my office window.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Back from Manchester...

So, New Hampshire was a blast. At times grueling, at times exciting, at times boring, at times snowy, and even at times fun. Manchester is an interesting town. You can drive across it in about 10 minutes. It has a rather quaint downtown and a gorgeous wide river flowing through it, its shores dotted by old mills repurposed as various cafés, condos, university buildings and so forth. But where I was staying near the airport, and near the Mall of New Hampshire, seemed like it could have been any town.

Turns out the reason they threw me a curve ball by asking me to go up sooner than they originally had was so I could help with two separate town hall events that they had planned last minute.  The first was with Sanders and Clinton and the second was with Donald Trump. All in all the trip was quite enriching and I learned a lot, getting my feet wet doing audio out in the field for the first time in ages. The veteran tech guys were superb at their job and incredibly helpful. And most importantly, everyone treated each other like professionals. As soon as I realized that, it was a lot easier to do my job.

The first morning they had scheduled me to mix audio for New Day which I talked about in my last entry.  The night before, right after I landed, and before I even checked into my hotel, I went over to a café by the water, called Waterworks, where they had started setting everything up. Camera, lighting, audio. Everything cabled through an open window out to a satellite truck outside. It was incredible what they had done with only a few hours. And they wanted me to help set up the board! I only really needed a few minutes to wrap my head around what I was doing but it was intimidating at first. This is where it gets a little technical so if you're not inclined, skip past this part.

Basically, they wanted to isolate the two hosts and the guest mix so that they could mix back in New York. So I was still mixing the guests, just sending that mix out separate from the two hosts who were on the first two channels. Then they were taking those three separate mixes and sending them out the outputs of the cameras, which themselves were on their own incoming lines in New York. But of course, someone changed their mind and wanted to embed the audio after the camera in the signal chain. Which we tried but then realized we had a problem with one of the embedders and had to quickly switch everything back.

I took a look at the board and thought for a minute and then scrambled to unplug and replug cables to get everything set up the way that was going to work...and this minutes before the show was going to start, normally a time when I hate to be unplugging anything! The moment I realized that my setup had worked warranted a fist jab and a semi silent triumphant, "yes!" The rest of the show went fairly well considering I had put the guests on an Auxillary send output and needed to mix them with knobs instead of faders.

It was a heck of a way to start off my trip but it certainly boosted my confidence for the rest of the week. For both town hall debates I was really just helping pin microphones on guests and taping cables to the floor so no one would trip but it was great experience and a necessary role.

For the Clinton Sanders debate they had us set up in the balcony of the for Anderson Cooper and Erin Burnett's shows and we had several quick swaps.  My coworkers in New York were watching the incoming lines and seeing everything going on between commercial breaks, congratulating me every time we pulled off a narrow swap. Often times Erin Burnett would be talking to one camera and I'd be just outside the frame prepping the next guest, pinning ear pieces and microphones and hiding wires. Oh and did I mention we were essentially on the front row of the mezzanine where there was really no railing and only a two and a half foot wall between us and the potential to pitch right off the balcony.  At one point, David Axelrod was using my shoulder to balance as he stepped down.

The following day was Donald Trump doing his town hall in a diner during which I hardly had any role except sitting in for the lighting guys and winding cables. We set up a three camera shoot with a fourth handheld camera and did everything live to tape, with some 40 diners and us, all in a tiny tiny space. I don't know how we did it but I saw it later on the air and it looked good.

That Friday was the snow day and I had no assignment but ended up hanging around the workspace they had set up at WMUR until I just decided I didn't want to get stuck there in case the snow got worse.  Well, it got worse and I almost wound up stuck at my hotel. But driving in the snow is something I can manage even though I never get to do it. I feel like I've read one or more articles like this recently anyway, which while not the same as practical experience, can keep all the more important points in the forefront of your mind. I also noticed this weird light on my dash in the Kia Soul I was driving flickering on and off while driving in the snow. So, I just Googled it out of curiosity and sure enough the car has built in stability control.

After the snow day, my last four days of work up there were at the station and I was again, mostly pinning mics. For the last two days I was basically both running the board and prepping guests for Early Start and New Day...which meant being there at 3am. Ugh. But somehow, I managed to get around and try out a few cool local spots.

The first place of note I went, Republic, was a cool Moroccan inspired joint with a fantastic wine list and amazing food. I came here a few times throughout the week as they were open for brunch and lunch and had great coffee (it was ok...I mean it was probably the best coffee I had all week considering I had been drinking diner coffee and preground mess out of stryofoam cups at the station mostly). I even ran into a few other journalists here and made some friends (one of them I ran into on two separate occasions). I swear the town population must double when all the news crews move in to cover the primary election.

I also tried a nice seafood restaurant, Hooked, where I ordered lobster and chatted with the bartender most of the night and narrowly avoided a political discussion with the owner of the restaurant who came over when someone mentioned the Donald Trump rally going on down the street at the Verizon Wireless Arena. I think everyone in every diner was talking about politics the whole week though.

The coolest place I tried though was the speakeasy everyone had been talking about, 8one5. It was on the second floor of what looked like a regular apartment building. I had to find out the password on Twitter and speak it into an intercom in an old timey phone booth, randomly wedged into a wall, after which said wall moved away and the hostess let me in. It was a Tuesday night and the place was virtually empty save for the bartenders and hostess, at first. But the cocktail menu was creative, as was the bartender who made me a few concoctions of his own.

So that was my final night and the following morning I awoke to snow but fortunately no airport delays.  After having breakfast at the Purple Finch Diner where I had found gluten free options earlier in the week, I trotted off to the airport, dropped off my car and headed in, where I ran into at least 6 old co workers of mine from NY1 who were all heading back on the same day. It's amazing how small the news business is sometimes.

Here are pics of the week.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


I'm typing this blog from a hotel suite near the airport in Manchester, NH.  What the hell am I doing here? Don't worry about it. I'm getting to it. I just first want to make reference to that bit about me being the time management ninja. I time managed. I ninja-ed. And all went according to plan.

The gig with Ryan and Jordana went swimmingly and was super fun to boot (there's some video on FB). And, already in awe at how the previous weekend timed out, in that I was able to use the disruption of the blizzard to our rehearsals as a way to push forward on the News Literacy Project's music, I was supremely awed at how it just happened that the night of the gig, I finally got word from NLP that I could push ahead on the project. See, I had been waiting to hear some direction from them, and frustrating though that can be sometimes, it was quite a boon in that I could meanwhile focus all my energy on rocking the F@$% out at the show and, as soon as it was done, shift my energy to writing the music for those educational videos.  The timing of everything was impeccable, in that nothing was simultaneous. It was all sequential and I could devote all my energy to one project at a time.

Fast forward: My boss had previously mentioned to me the possibility of doing some field work as I had shown some interest in getting out there and trying something new. He did, in fact, also mention that these things can get sprung upon him at a moment's notice and, bada-bing, bada-boom. But I was surprised that something came up so quickly.  They needed an audio tech out in the field for the coverage of the New Hampshire primaries and my boss offered it to me.  After all, I can audio. I can tech. So I said hell to the F@#$ yes! Then, the day before I was finally going to get time to finish the NLP music, I get a call that, rather than go out on the 5th of February, they wanted me there as soon as the 1st and still until the 10th.  !!!

The girlfriend didn't like it but I obliged because when else? (Incidentally, this is something my boss says to me and my colleagues a lot...when else?)  So, I had two full days to wrap up work on the music for NLP and pack my bags before I had to catch a plane to Manchester. And I knocked it out. Just under the wire. I didn't even have my flight booked until two days before it was supposed to happen and I had to borrow a bass guitar from a friend to get everything done.  Sidebar: I'm buying a bass guitar soon.

What a freaking whirlwind this year has been already, am I right? Sheesh! But I am loving it. You know how much I love travel and adventure.  Day 1 was pretty intense already.  I flew in yesterday and went straight to the anchor location for set up and then had dinner with one of the producers and the photojournalist. Then I had to go check into my hotel (a suite with a full freakin' kitchen!) because I had to be up at 3:30am for a 4am call time. Our first hit was at 5:30am.

They had us set up inside a cafe for New Day (CNN's morning show) and we had to basically turn that place into a news studio, complete with lighting, in the space of a few hours the night before. But CNN has an entourage of professionals that are on this shit and everything looked great. Meanwhile, I was thrown in on an audio board I'd never seen before with a set up I heard described to me in an email I read while waiting in La Guardia International Airport for three hours because airlines still can't get their shit together. So, that was quite fun. Once I got my feet wet, and twiddled some knobs, I started to feel much more comfortable...but then comes the shit storm of audio issues that you get when you have too many hands stirring the pot. Ultimately, we got everything on the air and I got the hang of what I was doing.  And I remembered that, on some level, I enjoy this work.

After we took everything down though, I started to realize that I had no idea where I was going next. And I think that is going to characterize the rest of this week. Last minute assignments. This is why they gave me a rental car. Tomorrow, I finally found out, I'll be heading to Derry, NH where there will be a town hall style Q&A session with both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders (one candidate after the other) and I'll be running the audio. Which means I will probably be pinning a lapel mic on both candidates.

It's amazing what can happen in the space of a week. More to come!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

My cup runneth over...

At the end of 2015, say around November, I hadn't had much in the way of voice over or music work. I had previously even stated that I was okay with it since I had been devoting so much time and energy to taking advantage of the opportunity that had presented itself at CNN.  Now, somehow, in the wake of a quick job for Mohammad writing a track for his reel, I now find myself positively saturated with work of the kind that I love and enjoy and, in fact, live for.

Here goes: News Literacy Project got in touch with me about writing a track for their latest series of educational videos. Then, last Friday, Edge Studio got in touch with me about doing the voice over for a handful of TV and radio spots; and it turns out to be the biggest pay day I've had from a voice over gig to date. And then, as if all that wasn't enough to be going on with, I got a call from a friend with whom I had been jamming last summer.  We had been on hiatus while he and his wife finished school but they got a gig next Thursday the 28th at the Emerson in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn and asked me to join them. So now, I gotta learn a bunch of songs in a week and a half. Solid.

I'm buzzing with excitement right now and simultaneously trying to wrap my brain around how I'll manage.  The VO gig will be a quick hour long engagement tomorrow, then I have the rest of the day off. NLP should be giving me some direction tomorrow and we have until the end of January to write, record and polish off the track. My entire weekend this weekend will likely be devoted to rehearsals for this gig. But who are you dealing with here? Yes, that's right. The time management ninja.  I will kill this. Just watch.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Obligatory end of year post...

Approximately 12 hours ago I was riding in the dark and the pouring rain to Indianapolis International Airport.  Yeah, that was about 5am.  The cheap flights are always early in the morning. But it's a mark of how well I'm doing that I'm not only traveling to see my girlfriend's family but also my own in a few weeks.  Yes, I may still be buying the cheaper plane tickets but I'm traveling twice for the holidays.  CNN has been treating me well over the last few months and money's not as tight as it was before I started working all three jobs two years ago.  Finally.  I'm really enjoying getting to work there not just for the view out my window that I can't stop posting pics of.  The people I work directly with are great, my boss is great and I'm meeting incredible people in all the other departments and learning that I can find opportunities to expand my duties there.  Sometimes they even find me.

I'm not sure I can post the last voice over I did for them but I swear I'll alert you...no wait! Here it is!
So, that was a lot of fun to do.  The job seems to get better every day and then some opportunity like that jumps in my lap.  A few weeks ago I was looking up new music for GPS with Fareed Zakaria using Turner's massive music library at my boss' request.  And I even helped translate an interview in French with one of the survivors of the attack on the Bataclan club in Paris for Anderson Cooper's show.  Apparently, I've effectively used all of my degrees at my job now.  What?!

Anyway, don't think this means I'm giving up on being a composer. Oh god, never. One of the things I can count on is one of the handful of directors I've worked with that have varying degrees of prolificness eventually calling me for a job.  I got a VO and a separate music job from the same guy last week just before leaving for my short vacation in Indy.

I will say that things were a little touch and go for a minute there as I was focusing on CNN and not really devoting time to it. Also my laptop was on the fritz.  All that is fixed now thanks to my friend with whom I had been trying to write music with.  He and his wife and I jammed together a bunch in the summer time but when their respective semesters started school just kept getting in the way for them.  Turns out though, he's a whiz with Macbooks and I happened to need a new hard drive installed and a memory upgrade.  And thanks to all those slips and disasters I had in the past, my diligence when it comes to backing up my data paid off.  I was back up and running within a few days or so once we did the install together.

And just in time too.  Mohammad came through with a quick music gig, a track for his directing reel and I busted it out in record time cuz that's how I do.  The VO for the sizzle reel (separate job) was, inevitably, a mock movie trailer voice so you can imagine I had fun with that one.  One thing that I really want to do next year is chase things like that down instead of this sitting around and waiting for them to come to me. Obviously, that's going to require a different approach and perhaps some outside encouragement.

So, what else happened during this fine year of 2015? Well besides a lot of traveling and a new job, I now have a partner in crime who just moved in with me back in November. And that's been real nice. No more roommates, I says.  And guess what else? We get to travel together, beyond going to see relatives.  Next stop is Guadeloupe this March.  A French speaking Caribbean nation...with an active volcano. Sounds right up my alley.

Another thing, I plan on doing next year is writing more in the blog...which requires having more things to write about, so look out for that.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


This is seriously becoming a blog about travel.  Lately on the music and voice over fronts I've been languishing or just straight not doing much and waiting.  I've gotten a few royalty statements in the mail, I occasionally hear about the progress of The Life and True Love, the last two projects I worked on, I'm still trying to get back together with the couple I was jamming with but life and New York City get in the way.  And I even auditioned to be one of Voice Bunny's on demand voice talent but got a reality check instead about the mediocre state of my set up at home (too much room noise...too muffled, etc.).  But I've got plans to take over the closet in the other bedroom in my apartment once my girlfriend moves in in November.

That said, I'm getting a new feel for how much I truly do love to travel.  Traveling never lets me down.  When I get out there, no matter how much I've built up a trip in my head, I still have incredible experiences even if they don't live up to what I expected.  That is to say, I'm always pleasantly surprised because I always find something new, whether or not it's what I thought I might find.  And I come back vibrating with a new energy and enthusiasm about this place I've just seen, ranting and raving about it like I'm the first person to discover that place.  And I feel so alive.

Here's Colorado.  My friend from Carbondale planned out a whirlwind trip for us, showing me the finest her state has to offer, taking me to some of the highest places in the state and sometimes even in N. America.  We did a lot of driving and winging it when we needed to, shifting plans to accommodate our whims, having adventures and close shaves, climbing mountains and taking pictures to prove it.

On the list of sites:

We first hit Downtown Denver, then caught a show at Red Rocks Ampitheater (holy crap, what a beautiful venue), Sound Tribe Sector 9. They put on a fantastic show.  The next day we drove over Independence Pass then came through Aspen on our way back to her hometown, stopping briefly at a wine, beer and spirits tasting close to where my AirBnb was on the last trip.  We found a nice local cider, picked up some food and then went back to her place where I cooked us some steaks.

The following day, we took a yoga class at True Nature, a beautiful yoga studio and meditation center, which was followed by a singing bowl and gong meditation for an hour and change.  Then she took us back to Snowmass Village to hike the Rim Trail, a hike that was offered during Wanderlust but that I didn't take.  It was cool to be back in the village and the hike was a perfect way to acclimate to the elevation.  It features a pretty steep uphill climb for the first half hour to this ying yang feature:

...followed by an easy jaunt along the ridge with sweeping views on all sides and a few more climbs bringing you to an elevation of about 10,500 feet. After the hike we wound our way down to Aspen to have dinner at Pyramid Bistro and catch a show at Belly Up.

The next day, after a yoga class at another yoga studio, Kula, we got on the road again.  Back over Independence Pass to head down to The Great Sand Dunes and eventually back up to Breckenridge to crash for the night before heading up to the trail head for Grays and Torreys Peaks, the 14ers we had chosen to hike, doing a double summit in one day because we could.  On the way over Independence Pass again, crossing the continental divide yet again, we stopped to view Mt. Elbert, the highest of the 14ers.  Note the fall foliage which had begun changing color in between this ride and the first one.

Then we got on our way past Salida and Buena Vista, down the longest stretch of straight road I've been on since driving to the Outer Banks of NC on Hwy 70.  But what awaited us was nothing short of amazing. The sand dunes can be seen from miles away, butting up against the mountain range, and boast the tallest sand dune in N. America.  When you're upon them, they dominate the landscape, and what a weird landscape:

After playing around for a while, kicking up sand and acting like kids, and just enjoying the surroundings and the quietude (it was seriously dramatic how quiet it was when the wind wasn't blowing...it felt like a sensory deprivation tank or something), we sat and debated our options for the rest of the evening. We were trying to make it as close as possible to the trail head at Grays Peak that night so we could set out and be on the trail as early as possible the next morning. Originally, the plan had been make it all the way to Leadville or even Frisco, and we had been leaning toward Leadville for most of the day as we had lost some time getting out of The Roaring Fork Valley later than expected that morning, so everything had shifted. It was already going to take us almost four hours to get back up to Leadville and it was early evening at that point.  It was so long of a ride we almost considered going all the way back to Carbondale to stay at her place that night.

We scrapped that though because we hadn't even eaten dinner yet. We had our eyes on a steak restaurant in Leadville called Quincy's that only serves steak for $9.95 (seriously, the only decision you have to make is how you want it cooked and how you want your baked potato). Luckily, the restaurant had a location in Salida that was closer so once we got back out on the highway it looked liked we just might make it there before closing and have only an hour and a half left on our journey to Leadville.

We still made it to Leadville after all the hotels had already closed their front desks for the night and had to hit a couple of them before we found one that would book rooms after hours...and of course, we got the last one at the first place that would open up for us.  Good thing too because it was midnight at this point and we had to be up at 6am the next morning!

The following morning, we packed up and got on our way, with a short stop for breakfast in Frisco, making it to the trail head by 8 and setting out around 8:30.  The weather was dreary, cold and windy. Not a good prognosis for a day hike but we were prepared.  Or at least I thought I was.  My sweater, scarf and hat would eventually prove worthless against biting temps in the 30s, steady 40 mph winds and, yes, freaking snow and sleet. The climb was a bit brutal as such and we had driven up to 11,000 feet or so, so we still had about 3,000 feet of rise before we reached the top.  At one point I had to borrow a layer of clothing from my friend. Every 10 minutes or so, I'd have to stop and catch my breath and the higher we got, the longer I had to stop before I felt I could go on.

Due to the weather, we had discussed the possibility of turning back just to prepare ourselves for the disappointment of not being able to climb to the top.  But neither of us were keen on that idea. We came to climb. If anything, we debated turning back after Grays and forfeiting the opportunity to do the double summit.  But then something amazing happened.  I mean, I knew it would happen, to be honest.  I'm ever the optimist, so I knew we'd get some clearing.  There were breaks in the clouds and the winds had them moving off extremely quickly.

As soon as we hit the final stretch, one big gap opened in the clouds and as I stepped up onto the summit, I gasped as I saw clear views for miles and miles.

This was something I didn't get with my Concepcion volcano hike at the end of February. And the rush was enough that the two of us turned to the other peak, Torreys, barely a half mile away down a path that ran along the saddle between the two peaks, and said, "Why not?" We snacked and took selfies and set out, scrambling down the side of Grays and, slowly, back up the much steeper side of Torreys.  (Watch in this video when my friend pans around...the first peak you see is Grays, which we had just come off the top of; the one you see when the camera turns 180 degrees is Torreys).

At this point I was starting to notice how numb and red my hands were. I'd had them clenched inside the pockets of my jacket for too long and needed to move them around and warm them up.  We paused so I could do so and then beat the last stretch of scree reaching the top to find even more spectacular views.

The hike down was slow and easy once we were off the main slope of the mountain and we saw loads more wildlife on the way down, including scurrying pikas and the yellow bellied marmot who crossed our path and then proceeded to stand up on his hind legs and watch us for five full minutes before going back to his business.  My phone was dead or there'd be pictures. I only saw one mountain goat the whole time, far away on a ridge on our way up to the top. He promptly lumbered down the other side before I could snap a pic though.  

At the bottom, back at the car, my head ached, probably from dehydration and not elevation sickness, but I felt great otherwise. After devouring lunch we headed back to Carbondale by way of Glenwood Canyon, looking forward to an evening of lounging and Netflix.  

The final full day of the trip we blew off a lot of the planned activities in favor of trying to have a lower key day and fit in Maroon Bells which we had missed a few days back due to cramming too much in in one day.  We were going to ride bikes down Glenwood Canyon and hike to Hanging Lake but neither of us thought we'd be in any mood for physical activity after hiking two 14ers in one day. So, instead Maroon Bells it was.  In Aspen, you buy a bus ticket and they bus you up the valley into a protected wilderness site where you can take the picture that everyone takes: 

I mean, it is pretty gorgeous. We got some interesting facts on the way up from a knowledgeable guide who knew everything from local history to local geological facts to local wildlife. When we arrived, we opted for a short loop hike through the woods to take it all in and then wandered back to the bus stop.  Unfortunately, we had just missed a bus and had to wait an additional thirty minutes for the next one which set us back quite a bit (although we heard some fantastic Wild West trivia from the same guide on the way down). 

That night we were trying to make it all the way back to Denver to see another concert at Red Rocks (we found out at the STS9 concert that Counting Crows were playing at Red Rocks later in the week so we bought tickets right away).  Making it back there required one more trip over Independence Pass, so we loaded up on coffee in Aspen when we finally got out of Maroon Bells, then headed out. The time was dwindling away and, though Counting Crows had a few opening acts, we did the math and figured there was a slight possibility we'd miss some of their set if we didn't book it. Let's just say that Independence Pass was both thrilling and terrifying this time around.  

One last stop in Breckenridge for legendary crepes my friend raved about, barely set us back in terms of travel time, because where there is usually a colossal line, there wasn't a single soul waiting. Giddy at our fortune we chowed down on crepes in the car as we made our way past Breckenridge back to I-70.  We hit very few traffic snarls from there on and I finally saw the Milky Way out the car window. Arriving at Red Rocks, we found that they were between sets still.  We found our seats chatted for maybe two minutes before Counting Crows walked out on stage, almost as though they were waiting for us to get there.  

So, a perfect end to a near perfect last day.  If not for the crummy hotel I booked outside of Denver, we'd've been totally solid (we booked a non smoking room and it turned out all they had ready when we got there was a smoking room...people can still smoke in hotel rooms??).  But at the point we were so tired we just crashed.  And the following morning I had gluten free buttermilk pancakes in Denver before heading off to the airport and parting with my friend.  

What a trip! Crazy adventures, tall mountains, beautiful vistas, and three separate concerts.  And lots of driving.  Couldn't have asked for a better time and now I have reasons to go back.  As I always do. And I think I might actually have a mountain climbing addiction at this point. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015


It sometimes takes me a while these days to unpack my experience of a trip, the impressions, the things that changed me, and articulate it into a story.  And this blog, while it's been a chronicle of my time in New York City, has also allowed me an outlet for these kinds of stories.  The kinds of stories I've discovered that I love telling.  And perhaps that's why I started to travel again.  I've always had a bit of wanderlust ever since my parents dragged me (I say that lovingly...I was not really dragged) on a trip around the country at the tender yet excitable age of 8.  I've thirsted since to see more of the world.  When asked what I wanted for a graduation present from high school, without hesitation, I said a trip to Paris.

Fast forward to this year.  The fact that there is a festival called Wanderlust seemed like a no brainer. Yet, it was a friend who suggested we go and, therefore, not my idea.  A few months ago in the course of a twenty minute phone conversation, the plan was hatched.  This July, Snowmass Village, Colorado was hosting the festival.  I hadn't been to Colorado since that fateful trip as a wide-eyed eight year old. We rode the Durango to Silverton railroad and I gazed at canyons and roaring rivers out the window of the train, noticing only at the end of the trip how much soot had accumulated on my face.  In Silverton, I gestured toward snowy mountains and begged my parents to hike up so we could see snow in June.  My siblings laughed at my inability to judge distance. Here's me with the brakeman's hat on:

When my friend told me that the Wanderlust festival was in Colorado, I bit almost immediately.  A yoga festival? In Colorado? Of course!

So we began planning, reserved a rental car, and agreed on an AirBnb in Basalt, a town about thirty minutes away, to save money.  And I began getting excited about things like Acro Yoga and Stand-up Paddleboard Yoga (the classes were all full by the time we had bought out tickets unfortunately so I didn't get to try it) and Slackline Yoga, farm to table dinners, hiking and meditation in nature, as well as the fact that there would be music every night.  Outdoor music.  And then they sent out an email after we bought our tickets saying that freakin' Moby was headlining the festival!

Here's an album of photos from the festival.  There's so much to say about the festival so I'll just talk highlights and forego the blow by blow.  Probably one of the most inspiring moments of the festival for me was the meditation hike with Häana, a violinist who came to the festival as one of the performers. Her music was really awesome. She actually almost carpooled with us from Denver International Airport but her flight kept getting delayed. I had researched her when she answered my post on the Wanderlust Facebook page offering rides from Denver to other festival goers.

On the second day of the festival I got a chance to hear her play a full electronic set at one of the indoor meditation classes. That alone was amazing and really freaking cool.  But on this hike, she brought an old vintage violin that had this amazingly beautiful resonance.  We hiked a little ways into the Aspen groves where she led a brief meditation and while we continued to sit in the tall grasses, she improvised for about twenty minutes in a Norwegian influenced style. As the music swelled, the breeze tickled us and a small thunderstorm rolled in.  Just being out there in the open air, feeling the breeze, and hearing the haunting sounds of that violin.  It was so beautiful.  There are a couple good pics from the hike in that album as well as a video I took after hanging back on the hike down (you can hear the thunder in the background!)

Another spectacular moment was trying out Acro yoga for the first time and getting up in a handstand while balancing on another person's knees while they laid on the ground.  All the pics in that album where you see the dome tents set up is where we had all of those classes.  There were some other types of specialized yoga that happened there, but that I didn't get to try, like AiREAL yoga which has you balancing in fabric hammocks, doing moves meant to decompress the spine and strengthen your core.  There was also Slackline yoga which is essentially doing yoga on a tight rope.  The guy who did carpool with us from the airport was huge into this and my friend who came with me tried a few classes (she was also into the Hula classes which were a big thing).  My only attempt at slack-lining was after having a few drinks when it was late at night and dark out.  It did not go well.

Other highlights were of course all of the concerts, including Moby and the Wanderlust Spectacular, a full show of acrobatics and dancing that had my jaw dropping the whole time.  Then there was hanging out in Aspen on my last night with a local I'd met on my first night there and then having her show us around her town of Carbondale on our final day after the festival had ended.  Our AirBnb host even joined us at a local distillery there called Marble Distillery and then we all had dinner at a place called Town.  I tried rabbit tacos and they were excellent!

I gotta tell you, on a side note, the elevation up there did not kill me but it was certainly a bit harder to walk uphill while simultaneously making conversation with the new friends I was making.  And it took far fewer flights of stairs than normal for me to be winded.  But that was all okay because I've heard what altitude sickness can be like and I would much prefer just having a little difficulty breathing to that any day.

Anyway, now that I'm back, and I've made friends out there, I plan on going back in September and hiking one of the 14ers.  Because lately, I've been obsessed with tall mountains and the like.  See my previous trip to Nicaragua in February.  And I'm not worried about the elevation gain because I know I'll probably acclimate in the first few days and the peak my friend has recommended only has like a 4,200 ft. elevation gain.  Concepción was 5,200 ft. tall and I hiked that one from the bottom in 4 1/2 hours.

And before any of this I was planning on going to Peru to hike Huayna Picchu, the peak next to the Machu Picchu ruins.  But that trip may have to wait because my girlfriend and I are talking fairly seriously about hitting up Dominica in the Caribbean, an island I zeroed in on and then was sold on the moment I realized that it boasts one of the tallest mountain peaks in the Caribbean Islands.  Morne Diablotins at 4,700 ft.  So, there will be more stories of surmounting formidable peaks.

And speaking of which, metaphoric peaks are still in the works as well.  But it's a bit slower going on those.  I'll just say for now that I'm still working at doing voice over for CNN whenever they'll throw it my way and I have plans to build up a reel with that material.  Occasionally, my voice coach will throw me an audition or two.  And as for my most recent music outlet, I'm jamming with two new friends now.  Collaborating for the first time in a very long time.

The only other bit of news I got as far as music goes is that I got a statement in the mail from Medianet, showing that The Life has been generating me royalties.  The number is so low, though, I'm not even gonna tell you how much so far.  But hey.  Gotta start somewhere.