Category Archives: USA

Backyard Backpacker: San Francisco International Poetry Festival


Dunya Mikhail, with her translator, sharing her work

In one of my previous posts, I discussed my intention to spend more time exploring my own city and surroundings as opposed to always looking to my overseas adventures for inspiration for my travel writing.  To that end, I have decided to start a new feature on my blog–Backyard Backpacker–that will focus on the fun and exciting events and activities that I have found locally, no passport required.  My first entry in this series is about an event in my city that surpassed my expectations in many ways: the San Francisco International Poetry Festival.

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Photo of the Week: Asbury Park, NJ, USA

Volcano bowl at Langosta Lounge–doing the Jersey shore right!

Yes, this picture was taken at the Jersey shore.  Yes, that is a big bowl of flaming alcohol.  Yes, it was supposed to be shared, but I drank it all by myself.

Why is this the photo of the week?  Well, I could say that it reminds me of the fun times that I had seeing the now infamous Jersey shore for myself and exploring the Asbury Park boardwalk with some girlfriends after attending a wedding the previous day.  Let’s be real, though–while I did have fun, and the photo does bring back memories, that’s not why I chose it.

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Photo of the Week: Vieques, Puerto Rico

Balneario Sun Bay, Vieques

It’s still summer, so it’s still cold (i.e., sub-70 degrees, frequently sub-60 degrees) in San Francisco.  Thus, in the interest of continuing my trend of thinking warm thoughts, I pulled out a photo of a happier time from a winter trip that I took to Puerto Rico.  This was a beautiful day on an almost secluded beach in Vieques.  Most importantly, there was sun, and lots of it!  I can’t wait until warmth and regular sunlight is part of my regular life again….


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Photo of the Week: New York, NY, USA

NYC Gay Pride Parade

Because I was out of town that weekend, I was not able to check out San Francisco’s gay pride parade this summer–I will certainly have to put that on my list for next year.  In the meantime, I decided to dig up a photo from gay pride parades past–namely, last year’s New York gay pride parade.  The parade is always a lot of fun, attracting families, couples, singles, friends, locals, and tourists alike, of all imaginable ages, races, nationalities, sexual orientations, and creeds.  However, last year’s parade was particularly moving because it occurred just after gay marriage was legalized in New York.  The excitement was palpable, especially when Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and City Council speaker Christine Quinn (who recently married her partnermarched through the parade.  It was wonderful to be part of such a historic celebration.  The U.S. just observed Independence Day yesterday; hopefully, each future birthday of my country will see us one step closer to recognizing equal rights for all of our citizens.  Happy (belated) birthday, America!


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The Girls’ Getaway Guide to Las Vegas, Part II

Fat Tuesday’s signature Everclear jello shots–er, what’s left of them, anyway

Did last week’s rules leave you desperate to get the rest of my tips?  Have no fear, you can find them below.  Read on!

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The Girls’ Getaway Guide to Las Vegas, Part I

View of The Strip from the Mandarin Oriental Tea Lounge

I was just in Las Vegas this past weekend to celebrate one of my best friend’s Dirty 30.  It was great to see her as well as meet girl friends from all parts of her life: college, law school, and her current life in Los Angeles.  While my friend and I had visited Vegas several times in the past, some of the women in our group this time around were Vegas virgins.  We, of course, initiated them into the ways of doing Vegas in a way that maximizes fun while minimizing hassle.  Since not everyone could be on this trip, I thought it would be only fair to share the wisdom that I have gained over my many trips to Sin City.  So, without further ado, here are the rules for girls who want to do Vegas RIGHT:

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Photo of the Week: San Francisco, CA, USA

San Francisco’s historic Grace Cathedral

This past Sunday marked the first in my quest to find a church in my new city.  The first house of worship that I chose to visit was the historic Grace Cathedral.  Tourists were out front snapping pictures of the cathedral and coming inside to join the service.  After some research, I understood why.  During the Great Depression, Ansel Adams was commissioned to photograph the still-unfinished cathedral.  Later, at the height of the Civil Rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr., preached at the cathedral.  While I’m not ready to commit to a church yet, Grace Cathedral was a great introduction to the Episcopal community in San Francisco.


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