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Posted by on Dec 2, 2012 in Culture, Most Popular, Road Trip USA, Travel, Travel Planning | 0 comments

Staying with Strangers: Hostels, CouchSurfing, AirBnB, StartUpStay, and More

Staying with Strangers: Hostels, CouchSurfing, AirBnB, StartUpStay, and More

Would you stay with a stranger instead of at a hotel? Would you host a stranger from another part of the country or world? I have many times with varying results. I’ve hosted German au pairs in Northern Ireland and camped out in Venice, Italy with two travelers from California. A friend and I stayed with an Austrian woman and shared stories about life while passing around a ram’s horn filled with Drachenblut (a specialty wine called Dragon’s Blood…and yes, there is more to that story). By coincidence, I recently stayed with ordained ministers in Pennsylvania and Nebraska discussing politics, religion, education, human rights, and volunteer work. Comfort vs. Connection I stay with strangers because sometimes I need a place to stay. I also enjoy interesting encounters and am open to nontraditional housing as a part of my travel experience. Here are just three examples of what I would have missed if I stayed in a hotel: dancing a tango in the gardens of the Art Institute of Chicago,...

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Posted by on Nov 28, 2012 in Culture, Road Trip USA, Uncategorized | 0 comments

American Craft Beer Culture and Tips for Homebrewers

American Craft Beer Culture and Tips for Homebrewers

After driving more than 4,000 miles across the United States visiting craft breweries along the way, I’ve added words like sparged, wort, and flocculation to my vocabulary and picked up a few insights into American craft brew culture, trends, and tips for homebrewers (scroll down to see Tips for Homebrewers video below!). Quality  & Freshness Fermentation is often described as an art and a science, and rightly so. Brewers pay careful attention to every step of the process to achieve the desired style, flavors, color, and alcohol content. In order to maintain the integrity of a particular style of beer, Epic Brewing Company in Salt Lake City, Utah mimics the water chemistry in Germany, for example, by using a carbin filtration process. “The malt doesn’t know its not in Belgium!” says Steve Koonce of Epic and goes on to say how the brewery avoids ‘house flavor’* by removing mineral content from the water prior to fermentation. Maintaining consistency from “keg to keg, year to year” is important in the...

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Posted by on Nov 3, 2012 in Blog, Road Trip USA, Travel | 0 comments

Whistleblowers for Peace: Falling Whistles

Whistleblowers for Peace: Falling Whistles

It has been three years since I stepped foot into the Falling Whistles headquarters in Los Angeles. Natural light illuminates the exposed brick, installations, and five staff members clicking away silently at their computers. Gone are the days (and nights) of intern-filled garage spaces in Venice Beach. In its place is a more focused and experienced organization working to bring peace in Congo. The approach is an interesting one — selling whistles and using the proceeds to support work in Congo, delivering educational media content, and mobilizing their base to push for policy changes. To date, the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo has claimed over 6 million lives– as many people who died in the Holocaust. This fact feels very far away to me until I remember that my cell phone and computer have minerals such as coltan from Congo that were likely extracted by slave labor and that the money from the illegal sale of such minerals fund the war. Organizations like Falling Whistles are working...

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Posted by on Nov 1, 2012 in Blog, Road Trip USA, Travel | 0 comments

Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead)

Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead)

Heather, Marisol and I joined a Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) parade snaking its way through the streets of Petaluma, California. Up until that point, I had only a vague notion of what this holiday entailed. I learned that it is a special time for families and friends to gather on November 1 and 2 to remember loved ones who have died. The roots of the celebration go back to indigenous peoples living in the country now known as Mexico. Its modern day variations are a mix of Mexican, Catholic, and regional beliefs and practices. Today people from all over the world celebrate Day of the Dead. Often, families visit the grave sites of their loved ones and may even stay overnight. It is common to build an alter and decorate it with flowers, butterflies, favorite foods of the deceased, toys for children, sugar skulls, and religious paraphernalia such as crosses and candles. For most, the Day of the Dead is not viewed as a sad...

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Posted by on Oct 31, 2012 in Blog, Photos, Road Trip USA, Travel | 0 comments

San Francisco in Pictures

San Francisco in Pictures

San Francisco has it all. Enjoy the view! Comstock Saloon Cocktail Comstock Saloon Lombard St. home Park Art Farmer’s market tomatoes View over Lombard St. Harvey Milk Plaza Castro Theater Castro Streets The F Street Car Ghirardelli Chocolate Story Sailboat on the Bay Ship at Bay Alcatraz The Golden Gate Bridge in a fog. Clam chowder at Fisherman’s Wharf Spider crab in Fort Mason Marina. Civic Center Farmer’s Market Antique bike...

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