For my summer vacation this summer, I opted to go to Alaska. I traveled with G Adventures/Nat Geo, the same venture that I went with to Iceland in 2016 and Peru in 2017. I chose Alaska for a variety of reasons – first, the trip was one that fit into my existing vacation schedule. Second, I have been trying, at least periodically, to go more places within the United States that I wouldn’t ordinarily travel to (see Wyoming in 2015). Lastly, I wanted a trip that was a bit shorter than my normal two weeks, because my brother was coming home for a spell, and I wanted to split my time off so that I would actually get to spend at least a few days with him. So…Alaska.

The trip looped from Anchorage to Homer to Seward to Denali and back to Anchorage. It started a bit rocky, with my flight nearly getting grounded at JFK and ultimately sitting on the tarmac for six hours, thanks to a veritable monsoon in NYC. A few rebookings and many hours later, I landed in Anchorage, missing all of the first day/night activities, but at least not missing the tour, unlike all of the folks who were supposed to be on cruises who missed their boats.

First stop took us to Homer, a cute coastal town, where we were supposed to go on lots of hikes, but due to the typhoon-like weather than apparently followed me from NYC, we instead visited every coffee shop in town, along with the very small, but very cute Pratt Museum, and squeezed in a hike when the weather finally cleared up a bit.

From Homer we circled around to Seward, another coastal town, where we got a private behind-the-scenes tour of the Alaska Sea Life Center (interrupted by an always fun fire alarm!), saw our first puffins, went on a boat tour of the alaskan coast and saw more puffins in the actual wild, together with a pod of orcas, and hiked up to view Exit Glacier, which is much smaller than it was even a few years ago.

From Seward, we had a loooong drive up to Denali, stopping a few times to stretch our legs and take pictures along the way. Our first full day in Denali was a 4 hour one-way bus ride deep into the park to view wildlife and the Alaska range – of course it was cloudy and rainy on the day we were scheduled to do this, so we couldn’t actually see Denali (only 30% of visitors actually ever see the mountain). The next day, when we did some more local hikes, it was (obviously) clear and beautiful.

Last, we headed back to Anchorage where at least some of us had a day to wander around before leaving for the airport, but not before I (or really, our fantastic tour leader) arranged for a local photography guide to take me on the Denali and Parks highways early in the morning so that I could do some landscape photography. As a bonus, we ran into some beavers building a beaver palace, even though they normally only come out in the evening!

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summer vacation…Peru


This spring, when I started thinking about what I wanted to do for my summer vacation, I swore up and down that I was going to go somewhere relaxing and just drink wine for two weeks. Which is clearly how I ended up on another “adventure” vacation that involved not only literal planes, trains, and automobiles…and boats, but somehow walking up every giant flight of stone steps built by the Incas in the entire Cusco valley. As someone who (internally) grimaces when I visit friends in NYC who live in walkups? This was clearly an excellent idea. But it was absolutely amazing. This is the second trip I’ve taken with the National Geographic Journeys-G Adventures partnership, and it was another solid win. I think I’ve talked at least three other people in my office into taking trips in the two weeks since I’ve been back.

The trip started in Lima (where I arrived a few days early to actually spend some time in Lima), then we flew to Tambopata in the Peruvian Amazon, and then we flew to Cusco, where I hung out with some folks from some other tours while most of my actual tour went off to hike the Inka trail or the Lares Trek. I know my limitations, both in terms of hiking and ability to be a pleasant human being without a bed, shower or bathroom, and opted to not spend three days hiking along a trail that included sites named things like “Dead Woman’s Pass”.

We all reconnected at the place where everyone in Peru eventually arrives – Machu Picchu. At a certain point, with the amount of time people spend talking about it, you start to think it’s overrated and can’t really be that amazing.

It’s that amazing. Not just the construction – the natural beauty of the site by itself is one of the most incredible things I’ve ever experienced. We all had to get on line for the bus to get there at about 4-something in the morning, and it was raining while we stood in this two-hour long line. But the rain stopped by the time we were at the site, and turned into steam coming off the mountains that made us feel like we were actually standing in the clouds. I’m not sure my pictures do it justice, but I sure took a lot of them.

Oh, and as for the wine I planned to drink? The wine in Peru was good, but I ended up not drinking very much of it thanks to the fact that once I got to Cusco the altitude made one glass pretty much my limit. I really need to plan that part better next time!

As always, click on the thumbnails to get bigger pictures and descriptions. These go in the order of the trip.

…and finally, for good measure, to get the full scope of the entire place, I stitched a panorama of the full view of Machu Picchu together (the grey is because I didn’t want to crop it down to make things “even”)…

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30th street station


I don’t think my distaste for New York’s Penn Station is any secret, but it only gets emphasized when I get to spend time in other train stations that are more beautiful. Obviously, here in NYC, Grand Central and the new Oculus are great spaces (and vastly different to each other), but other cities still have beautiful Amtrak stations.

I took a short trip to Philly this summer to visit friends, the weekend before the DNC, and so 30th street was at its shiniest, spiffiest best. This is one of my favorite stations – sure Amtrak does its best to muck things up with its standardized modern signage that makes zero effort to blend with the classic art deco building, but it’s still OK.

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for this summer’s vacation, I took myself to iceland. I went on the Nat Geo/G Adventures “Explore Iceland” tour of the southern part of the country, with a few extra days in Reykjavik at the beginning. It was a great time, our guide was great (both as a guide and a lot of fun), and my only complaint is that I managed to come home with a cold, but I’m blaming that on the guy next to me on one of my flights who coughed the entire trip and wouldn’t cover his mouth, no matter how many dirty looks I gave him. I’ve managed to whittle down the 1,500 pictures to the 125 or so below (plus one attempt at a stop motion thingamajig). Without further ado…

I flew to Reykjavik on Thursday, landing in the middle of the night, so I really had Friday/Saturday/Sunday to get over my jet lag and explore before meeting up with the tour group on Sunday afternoon/evening. I didn’t really plan this when I planned the overall trip, but Saturday was basically the biggest day of the year in Reykjavik – the Culture Night, a combination of the city marathon, a giant street fair, and massive concert/party all day and night that coincides with the anniversary of the city. it’s like July 4th and New Years’ rolled into one, in the politest city on earth. so that was fun. The entire country of iceland only has a population of 350,000, which I think is smaller than the number of people who ride my subway train in the morning, so the scale of things is just a bit different. This first batch of photos is from my wanderings around Reykjavik for the first couple of days. I did venture into a few museums, but I generally don’t take pictures inside those (and the few I did aren’t particularly…photogenic), so nothing to show for that. Other highlights include a lot of random statues, doors, and a trip to the top of the Reykjavik Cathedral. There’s an elevator.

Sunday night, I met up with the tour group, and we went for a ‘traditional’ icelandic tasting menu. I managed to take pictures of everything except for dessert. As a bonus, one of my tour-mates took a not horrible photo of me, so this is the rare trip where I will actually appear in some of the photos. If anyone is curious, the dessert was icelandic skyr.

The first day of our tour was the “golden circle”, which a lot of folks do as a day trip from Reykjavik – it took us first to a geothermal power plant, where we learned how iceland is 100% powered by the volcanoes that the entire country sits on, then to site of the original icelandic parliament, which is really just a gorgeous lake, and then to the mid-atlantic ridge. Then we went to lunch at a hydroponic tomato farm greenhouse where they serve nothing but tomato-based foods, saw some icelandic horses, then, went to Geysir, which you can probably guess is the site of a lot of geysers, and finally to Gulfoss, the first of about a zillion waterfalls that cover this gorgeous country.

Lest you think the little geyser in the photos above was the only geyser I photographed, I saved the best for last. below is (an attempt at) a compilation of all of the photos I took of the main geyser going off. Note at the very beginning the perfect bubble that forms before the geyser actually explodes. We had to wait for about six explosions before I managed to catch that split-second moment on film.

Day two of the tour (yes, we’re only on day 2) involved traveling to Vik, the southernmost point in iceland, with stops at some major waterfalls and the coastline along the way. This is a stunningly beautiful country, entirely formed by volcanoes. The beaches are black volcanic sand and the waterfalls are runoff from the volcanic glaciers, and there are these crazy basalt pillars rising up from the earth all over the place.

Day three was more (smaller) waterfalls, glacier lagoons, crystal beaches where icebergs wash up on shore, and turf-roofed churches. and sheep. The sheep simply roam the entire country during the warm months and you’ll see them everywhere. EVERYWHERE.

Day four of the trip was hiking on a glacier! unfortunately, while the actual scenery was beautiful, the volcanic-ash covered ice wasn’t particularly photogenic up close. Then we went to yet another waterfall in the afternoon (seriously. There are a lot of waterfalls).

The final day of the tour involved driving back across southern iceland, with a few stops – first to a bridge monument that is the last remnants of a bridge that was wiped out by a volcanic eruption and massive flood in 1996. Then to Fjaorargijufur, a beautiful gorge that is probably *now* most famous for being used in a (ugh) Justin Bieber video. (it’s even prettier when the sun is actually shining – we were avoiding rain all day). Lastly, to a settlement museum where we learned a bit more about the history of iceland and visited a historic village that had been relocated to the museum grounds. And that was it (at least for public consumption – pictures from the bar in Reykjavik later in the evening are under lock and key!)

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instagram roundup | may, june, july


Because I got my new camera during this period, I was taking more “real” pictures, so pure instagram posts were a little sparser. but Sadie the cat is ever present, as are some travel-related pics and some minor clues as to my political leanings.

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instagram update | march and april


Not as delayed as last time. As always, there are cats and coffee. Plus some (sort of) kosher baked goods and it was primary day here in NYC, as you may have heard. The weather started cooperating a little more, but not as much as one would like, and I’ve begun experimenting with an antique film camera that I found at a tag sale, but since that requires film, you’ll have to wait even longer for anything other than a picture of the actual camera (so far I’ve shot 2 out of the 3 rolls of film I bought, and so I’m looking for something interesting to use the last 12 shots on before I send everything in together to get them processed).

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instagram update | october through february


This is a massive photography catchup, going back to october. I didn’t post a lot of photos in general that month, so i figured I would wait another month, and then things just got away from me. And as with anything, the longer one waits to catch up, the harder it gets to actually do the work. So now that February has ended, I’m biting the bullet today and getting everything through the end of the latest month up. pre-spring cleaning, shall we say. As always, this wouldn’t be a roundup of my instagram without coffee and cats. plus subway kvetching, pretty much the entirety of winter this year (of which there wasn’t much), and some more baking experiments.

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instagram update | july and august


I never got around to posting my instagram pics from july, so I’m posting everything from july and august together, now that we’re heading into labor day weekend. Pics include my normal subway related fare, snapshots from my trip to wyoming and mini trip to the botanical garden, the cat (of course), and some culture by way of the most anticipated, awesome show on broadway right now.

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wyoming photography workshop


I know it seems like I travel a lot, but last week I actually started my first vacation of 2015 (provided you don’t count the fact that I took January 2nd off as part of the tail end of last year’s holiday break). I’m still finishing up the two weeks of PTO that I took off by doing some touristy stuff in and around New York (and running errands, always errands), but last week I attended the National Geographic Wyoming Cowboy Country Photography Workshop. It was quite fantastic. I’ve wanted to do one of the NatGeo workshops for a while, particularly after my trip to the Galapagos, and this one fit in with my already planned PTO schedule. The instructors (Jay, Jeff and Frank) were amazing, the entire class group was a blast, and everyone who worked at the CM Ranch was phenomenal. I may have threatened to kidnap the chef on more than one occasion.

And the scenery…

I haven’t spent a lot of time traveling to the “interior” of this country. Living on the coast has made it all too easy to choose to fly east when planning a trip somewhere, but a while back I made a commitment to try to see more of this vast expanse of a nation of ours. So I was really glad to have the opportunity to take this trip for that reason as well. Many years ago, one of my European friends remarked that the biggest difference they saw between Europe and America was just how big and open everything was here – Europe is not only geographically smaller, but developed at a time when, by necessity, everything needed to be close together. You simply don’t understand the vastness of America without seeing it.

Rather than trying to explain everything up front, I’ve embedded descriptions into the slideshow itself. And if you think there are a lot of pictures here, please note that these 115 or so pics have been whittled down from over 3300 that I took over the course of the week. That was the hardest part.

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It was somewhat of an impulse vacation, when I realized that if I didn’t take some time off soon, I wasn’t going to get a break until the end of the year because of the way some work projects were shaking out, so I put in for some time and decided, rather impassively based on some good deal opportunities on Expedia, to go to Venice for the week. I got back last weekend, but with the jet lag and the catching up with work and other stuff, I finally got to sit down and sort through photos this weekend.

The way the trip worked out, I really only spent four full days in Venice. I landed on Sunday mid-day, and flew out again on Friday afternoon, leaving Monday through Thursday as the days to truly wander around and soak in the atmosphere. I largely avoided the whole Clooney wedding kerfuffle (arriving after the main event, and yes, I planned my trip before that whole mess was even announced), but the tourist crowds in general were not avoidable.

By day then… (if you click on the thumbnails, you can click through all of the photos from the trip without having to exit)

Sunday and Monday: Some arrival shots, my hotel was situated right on the Grand Canal on the Dorsoduro side across from San Marco, so you could sit in the front lounge/bar and just drink cocktails and soak in the view. I did this a lot. On Monday, my original plan was to go to the architecture biennale, but apparently it’s closed on Mondays, so I recalculated and spent Monday at San Marco, visiting the museums (Museo Correr and the Doge’s Palace) and generally wandering around the area.

Tuesday: Second and more successful attempt to head over to the architecture biennale, curated by Rem Koolhas and held at the Venice Arsenale. It was mostly video installations, which doesn’t really lend itself to photography, and I didn’t spend a lot of time in the country pavilions at the end, choosing instead to grab some lunch and then head up the grand canal via vaporetto (where I got a coveted seat on the back deck of the boat) to the jewish ghetto for a late afternoon tour of the synagogues – again, no pictures allowed inside, but the tiny synagogues built secretly into the top floors of the houses here are a marked contrast from the luxury of San Marco. A definite must-see if you’re ever in Venice. The word “ghetto” actually derives from this tiny island, which was originally an italian “gheto”, or foundry, and which is where the original jews of venice were segregated because they could be walled off and locked in at night during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Wednesday: it was pouring rain on Wednesday, so I decided to make this my lazy day. I slept in and then headed over to the Peggy Guggenheim collection, which was near my hotel. Not a lot of pictures, because I generally don’t think photographs of art do any justice to the art itself.

Thursday: My last full day, which was beautiful again, I decided to just take a lengthy walk, starting in San Marco and heading back up towards and past the Rialto Bridge, wandering in and out of side streets and canals and basically getting lost (although you can never get really lost in venice, because you’re never that far from the Grand Canal). Made my way back for a late afternoon lunch near L’Accademia Bridge, the “other” bridge that crosses the Grand Canal, and then finally went back to San Marco for the ultimate in tourist trap dinners, but had a total blast listening to the band and just generally enjoying the piazza, wine, and atmosphere.

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