Category Archives: Travel

The LONG short trip home – flying during thunderstorms

I had to fly from Binghamton to Burlington yesterday. The flight was scheduled to leave Binghamton at 1:55 p, arrive in Philly at 2:30 and then another flight at 3:30 arriving in Burlington at 5:00pm. Philadelphia had more wicked storms yesterday which forced many airplanes to sit on the runway before allowing the passengers to depart. The reason was that they are not allowed to use the ramps when there is lightning (which is totally reasonable). Needless to say, the airport was a mess, many flights were delayed and people were even stranded. I did manage though to get home last night, arriving in Burlington at 11:30pm. The irony was that normally I drive, as it is only a 5.5 hour drive from Binghamton to my house. This trip ended up being over 12 hours door to door. 

In Newfoundland, Canada

Continuing our INETA Atlantic Provinces tour, Rich & I have been in Newfoundland since Friday. We are staying with Amanda Murphy and Shane Perran who have been fantastic hosts and tour guides. Amanda runs St. John’s .NET User Group, the local user group where I am speaking tonight. She is also a board member of INETA. But most importantly, since we met in the blogosphere a few years ago, I think more of Amanda as a little sister. We have been having a blast here!

For those of you new to geography ;-), Newfoundland is the eastern most province of Canada and out here in St. John’s (one of the oldest cities in North America), we are on the eastern most point of North America. We even went to the tippy tip of it yesterday, to Cape Spear. We are surrounded by rugged, beyond gorgeous coastline and 500 years of military history.

St. John’s itself is accessible by water through a narrow strip of water between big cliffs which has been protected during wars and attempts (some successful) to colonize Newfoundland over the centuries. Here is a picture of St. Johns looking out through the narrows, from inside The Rooms, a wonderful conglomeration of natural history museum, modern art museum and provincial archives up on the hillside of St. John’s. The Rooms is not quite as loved by locals though. It’s a massive structure that imposes greatly on the St. John’s cityscape and cost a great deal of money to build. It has been open for a year and apparently the jury is still out as to it’s impact. As an outsider though, I truly enjoyed the experience of being in the complex.

There are forts on both sides of the narrows. On the left side is National Historic site, Signal Hill. Here is a picture taken from Signal Hill looking at the other side of the narrows. You can see a lighthouse there as well and the ruins of another old fort.

We have been visiting many spots along the coast in this general area. In Middle Cove, I had to give up on trying to save all of the starfish that were meeting there doom out of the water.


We went to the amazing Cape Spear yesterday, the eastern most point of Newfoundland (and north america) and with NL’s oldest light house. We saw lots of whales (distant) while there also.


We also went on a whale/bird watch with a wonderful tour operator, O’Brien’s. We followed a whale for a while and it made a number of deep dives, which means the tail comes up and out of the water for a big splash. I did not get the timing right on clicking my digital camera (darned lag time) so I don’t have a good pic to share, but O’Brien’s has great pictures and videos on their site.

We went to an island with millions (literally) of birds – gulls, puffins, awks and more. The puffins were fun to watch. They have small wings and flap them furiously to fly. On the water they go across the top doing this flying/swimming/bouncing thing.

We also went to small fishing villages in many little coves. Here are some pics (those are crab pots) from Petty Harbor.


Today I will go for a hike up Signal Hill with my silly husband, who has been patiently waiting for me while I created this insanely long blog post. Rich is quite prepared for whatever foul weather we may encounter!

Nova Scotia.NET and some tourism, too

Yesterday Rich and I drove from New Brunswick, where I had spoken at the local .NET User Group, to Halifax Nova Scotia, about a 2 1/2 hour drive. Before heading into the city, we drove out the coast a bit to an absolutely-not-to-be-missed treasure of Nova Scotia called Peggy’s Cove. Peggy’s Cove is a very historic fishing village that provided respite from the wind but easy access to great fishing. It is a beautiful rocky place with a famous lighthouse that also houses the local post office.


You can see why this is the most photographed location in Nova Scotia. Even I can take a calendar worthy photo in this town!

The  (INETA sponsored!) user group talk was in Halifax that night at .NET Nova Scotia. Derek Hatchard, who runs both the Moncton group and this group, drives the 2.5 hours to Halifax (and back home) for the meetings. He picked me up at the hotel after Rich and I had a quick dinner (it was Rich’s birthday, so I couldn’t totally abandon him for pizza with the geeks). The meeting was at a local college and not only were there students attending, but a professor, with a long history that included working at Bell Labs (who the students are really lucky to have) from the college. I had a blast, as always, talking about ADO.NET and as always, most of the questions were around the query notification. It is such a cool feature and I have to be careful not to use up the entire session time talking about it.

Today Rich and I had a pure vacation day and have driven out to the Eastern Shore. I am now at a magnificent inn in a very remote location on the ocean. Too bad we can’t stay here for a month or two.There is so much history here and no time to absorb a good portion of it. We stopped at a living history museum  (Fisherman’s Life Museum) which is the homestead of a fishing family through the 18th and 19th century. That was really fascinating and I was amazed at the rugs and quilts in the house as well.. Oh and if anyone is in the market for kittens, it was all I could do not to take them with me, but they are looking for some homes!

The other big thing we did today was a glorious hike along the wild and windy Nova Scotia coast at Taylor’s Head.

Fundy Bay

Last night I did an INETA event in Moncton New Brunswick (northeastern Canada). We came early and spent the weekend in the Bay of Fundy area. The Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world thanks not only to the shape of the bay, but the fact that the amount of time that it takes for the tide to move into the bay happens to be the same amount of time between low & high tide (6 hrs 13 min) . The tides can be up to 46 feet high! We stayed in Fundy National Park the first night at the HIghlands Inn and Chalet which has a collection of totally adorable little chalets that were built in the 50’s but are very well maintained. They are also dog friendly. I hope we can get back there someday.

The Park and the whole area is beautiful and very special. Not only is the Bay of Fundy amazing in it’s beauty and natural phenomenon of emptying out so much that you can walk on the ocean floor and then quickly filling back up, but the park is an Acadian forest, lush wet filled with spruce and just ends as cliffs right up at the edge of the bay. Rich and I went for a great hike in the park and then paddling at the end of the day with the local outfitters. It was a windy day so we had a blast kayaking in the big waves.


When the boats come in, they throw cage-like platforms over the edge which go under the boat. As the tide recedes the boats  are held up on these cages, rather than sinking into the mud. It’s hard t see the platforms, but you can easily see the boats are hovering above the mudflats.

That night we stayed at a wonderful B&B called Innisfree. In the morning we went over to see the famous “flower pots” aka The Hopewell Rocks, amazing formations in the bay that are mostly covered at high tide and that you can walk around in at low tide. I’m surprised they don’t bill these as the 8th wonder of the world! Here’s Rich doing the classic pose we saw in many tourist guides!


The World Famous Sticky Buns of Alma, New Brunswick

On our second day in Fundy National Park, we went to Alma for breakfast. We had a yummy classic diner breakfast of eggs, bacon & toast, then I headed over to the local baker, Kelly’s Bakery, to get a sandwich for our hike. I ordered the sandwich while enjoying the smell of the sticky buns that had just come out of the oven. Everyone coming in was ordering sticky buns. Then asking me (an obvious out of towner) didn’t you get any sticky buns? No, but they smell great. But you must have some sticky buns. Oh, no … really we just ate breakfast, I couldn’t eat any more. This went on with everyone who came into the bakery that was slowly filling up.What I finally learned was that these sticky buns are famous in the province  of New Brunswick and beyond. It’s practially the town currency. So we got a sticky bun for our hike and yes, it was amazingly yummy, soft and sweet. Google “Alma ‘sticky buns'” and you’ll see what I mean!

I did go grab my camera to get a picture of the world famous sticky buns of Alma, New Brunswick. The sun was shining on the pastry case, so this was the best I could do. I also got a picture of four guys who had just come down from Moncton (a one hour 15 minute drive) on their motorcycles just for some sticky buns.

Virginia Beach: St. George’s Brewery and Mongolian fare

In addition to having a great time presenting at WeProgram.NET last week, there were two other things I wanted to share.

When it’s possible, I try to bring back a local beer for Rich. Unfortunately, there was no bringing a 6pack of Castle back from South Africa, but in Virginia Beach, the local brewery is St. George. I had to find them via google, but was able to grab a 6-pack at the local market. Since my laptop is not too heavy, it wasn’t so bad carrying it back home in my backpack.

While there, my brother brought me to one of his favorite lunch spots, the Warriors Grill, which does a buffet in the style of the Mongolian warriors of centuries past. I love the history of this, described in ther menu and got a good laugh out of “at the Warrior’s Grill, we do the gathering and preparing for you. No need to place the meat under your saddle to tenderize it as the Mongol Warriors would sometimes do.”

At the restaurant, you pile prepared vegetables and meats along with a great variety of oils into a bowl and then they are cooked on a hot surface.

Unfortunately, the whole history is not on their website, so here’s a quick scan for you.

Don’t Forget:

Airline pilots

gotta love them. I am always SO happy it’s them flying the plane and not me. I am terrified of flying and every bump and jiggle the plane makes turns me a little paler. I have learned to remind myself that these guys and gals know what they are doing and I don’t need to be so afraid. .Yesterday was a windy day. We didn’t get the tornadoes that were further south but it was still wicked up here. Landing in D.C. was a little unnerving, but the flight in a smaller plane between D.C. to Burlington was worse. As we descended through the two cloud layers towards the Burlington Airport we found ourselves in very gusty winds. I know up at our house it was anywhere from 30 – 50mph. The plane was bouncing around a lot. I could barely contain myself when the pilot had to bank the plane a few times to circle around and line up with the runway. Even as we were merely hovering over the runway, about to touch down, the plane was still bouncing a little – side to side. That was really scary. Poor Rich sitting next to me. I was clinging to his pant leg pretty tightly (…he said I didn’t hurt him). But even with all of that, they landed the plane with no problems (and I made note of the fact that there were no fire trucks and ambulances waiting on the runway  so it was really just business as usual.. 🙂 )

This is what they are trained to do! It is just *me* that doesn’t know how to fly a plane in turbulence. You should have seen me on the overnight flight from Frankfurt to Johannesburg. It was a really bumpy ride. I was in a cushy business class seat with Kate Gregory sleeping peacefully in the seat next to me, but I coulnd’t sleep. Eventually I dozed off but was startled awake by a big bounce and then spent a good hour or so wondering how I was going to get back on the plane again to come home. Such a worrier. But I’m still here to talk about it! Yay for pilots.

Don’t Forget:

Hiking up to Angel’s Landing at Zion

Angel’s Landing at Zion National Park is at the tip of this mountain:

and begins with this warning:

I am terrified of heights and have Vertigo, but up we went.

After a while of normal switchbacks and through a canyon, we hit the famous Walter’s Wiggles – a series of very tight switchbacks that are built up for support.

Sometimes, there is no edge on Walter’s Wiggles:

Eventually, we reached Scout Lookout to be greeted by these happy little one-holers…


and another warning…

but on we went… to this


I went up a ways, but eventually was pretty scared and knew that going down would be harder. So I turned around and Rich went on. Here are a few pictures to his journey over this hump, up the next…


then across this narrow precipice (with a 1500′ drop!!!)

and on to the glory of Angel’s Landing and this view.

Then he had to come all the way back to where he left me still recovering from my few feet on the rocks. Yay Rich!

Rubbing elbows with Robert Redford??

Last night at about 5:30 we were headed out of Zion and there was a spectacular sunset. Because of the clouds in the sky, the red rocks were glowing red from the reflection of the sun off of the clouds. We pulled over in a spot near the entrance where there were a lot of people taking photos. I went to the bridge to try to take a picture but my camera battery was dead. Uggh. Anyway, I was standing next to some people who were all set up with the tripod etc taking pictures. I took a double take at one of the men – could that be Robert Redford? But of course – how could it be – just some man who was beautiful in the same way that Redford is (and just keeps getting better and better 😉 ). Today we realized that there is a film festival in Zion (, so just maybe….

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Another Conference, another adventure

Last year, prior to the fall DevConnections conference in Las Vegas, I spent a few days in Zion National Park with Kathleen Dollard. I loved it so much that I promised myself that if I was invited back to Las Vegas, I would return to Zion and bring my husband with me. So, here I am in Zion where we have had a few great days already. One thing that I really wanted to do this time was hike up the Zion Narrows – the canyon river. So this morning we rented the proper gear and did it. What a great experience!

Here are two photos from the Narrows.