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Experiencing San Francisco Bay Area

This is part of a series of travel articles composed by myself and travel expert Kendra Thornton, former Orbitz Director, about our favorite things to do in our home towns.

As I just relocated from NYC to the San Francisco Bay Area, I am sharing the top 5 things I am most excited about doing in and around the Bay!

Experiencing city life the San Franciscan way

  • Such an iconic San Fran experience are riding the trolleys (ding, ding)!  Excited to hop on a cable car and ride the 7 hill tops and watch our west coast peeps hike the city’s steep hills (NY may be a city of walkers but the San Franciscans have the calves!).
  • With the yearly moderate temps a bike ride through Golden Gate Park (20% larger than Central Park) is a must.  Can’t wait to bike through the Japanese Tea Garden (where the first fortune cookies were supposedly made) and stop at the coastal end of the park to play in the sand with the kids.
  • After living in a city with some of the greatest restaurants and chef’s in the world, my eager taste buds are ready to dine at the trendy Gary Danko’s in North Beach and RN74 in South Beach.  The food is suppose to be delicious and the atmosphere noteworthy.

Home to the 49ers and Giants!

  • Such iconic California teams in the Bay.  Where else can you catch an out-of-the-park home run ball by boat but at the AT&T Park.  In my opinion, one of the best places to watch a baseball game.  And, the red and gold spirit on the peninsula is contagious.  We may be a true Green Bay Packers family (I’m a drafted fan due to marriage, ha!) but when the Packers are not playing we will definitely be rooting for our new home team at Candlestick Park (soon Levi’s Stadium), go 49ers  –  “Who’s got it better than us? Nobody!”

Biking, Hiking, and Surfing

  • The Bay Area has such a diverse amount of outdoor activities.  A couple things I am most pumped about are hiking along the gorgeous beach lined coastal hills, and then in the winter, watching the world’s bravest surfers at Mavericks Beach shredding waves.  So California.  Then at the nearby Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay grabbing a drink on the beach during sunset.  Can’t wait!

World Class Wineries

  • If there is anything more notable in the North Bay it’s the Napa wineries!  I am eagerly awaiting a day trip of wine tasting, touring the vineyards, having lunch at the Culinary Institute of America and ending the day drinking a local wine watching the sunset at one of the amazing spas in Sonoma County.

America’s Cup

  • A spectacular event on the Bay is watching the America’s Cup!  The catamarans make the show exciting to watch and the 2013 event was voted the most ‘fan-friendly’ AC ever.  Rumor has it that the 2016 AC event could, once again, be held in the San Francisco Bay.  I hope so!

With so much culture, diversity and beauty throughout the bay, there is something for everyone.  I hope some of my favorite things to experience inspire you to take a trip to the San Francisco Bay Area.

What is something you enjoy doing in your home city?  Would love to hear about it.

Real Beauty – All about Perception

A friend sent me this video, a Dove Project, and I found it fascinating. I could not stop thinking about it.  We, as women, can be so critical and hard on ourselves.  We see the magazines full of “how to look beautiful” all over the cover, we listen to the harsh comments about someone’s beauty or lack-of on TV, we see the sides of tall buildings plastered in advertisements depicting what beauty is and how one can become beautiful, we see other women on city sidewalks with the latest Tory, Chanel, or Yurman, stiff faces from Botox, and oily residue from the latest wrinkle cream or facial procedure, and we think this is what will make us feel beautiful, which in return, should mean happiness.  Right?  Maybe, for the immediate moment or as we walk out of the store and strut around for a couple days, and then it fades… Then it happens once again, we go back to the insatiable quest for beauty.

As I watched this video I could not help but see my daughter in these women.  It saddened me to think this could be her someday, seeing her own beauty in such a physical and negative way…

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As a mom, I hope to instill in my daughter how beautiful she is and that beauty starts from within.  I want her to look in the mirror and not see her wrinkles as flaws, but as blessings of a long life.  I want her to see the lines around her eyes as many years of wonderful laughter and for being fortunate enough to have had so much to smile about.  I want her to see beauty as a person who has a loving heart, has compassion for others, who is optimistic in life, is giving of themselves, and who leaves this Earth making it just a little bit better.  Hopefully, my journey as a mother, will instill these qualities into the already rapidly absorbing mind of my sweet innocent two year old daughter.  Not an easy task, by far, with so much in society working against us.  But, it will be a forever goal of mine.  I will always be her mommy, loving, and knowing just how beautiful she is.  My hope is, she can see it too.

What is your perception of beauty?  I would love to hear about it.

Central Park Breast Cancer Walk

This weekend we participated in our yearly family breast cancer walk. A walk I feel proud to be a part of for many different reasons.  So many people are affected by cancer and most of us have been touched by it in some way, either by a family member, a friend, a neighbor, or an acquaintance.  Cancer is a disease that could eventually affect us all in some way and breast cancer is the second most common cancer for women in the US.  According to the American Cancer Society, in 2012, about 227,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and nearly 40,000 women will die from the disease.  That sounds high, yet we are also making progress.  More women are being cured and living longer than in the past.  According to ACS, ‘The chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer some time during her life is about 1 in 8. The chance of dying from breast cancer is about 1 in 36. Breast cancer death rates have been going down and this is probably the result of finding the cancer earlier and better treatments. Right now there are more than 2½ million breast cancer survivors in the United States.’  WOW!  What a feeling just hearing that.

Each year we do the walk in memory of my mother.  My mother who lived a healthy lifestyle, active, ate healthy, had regular check-ups and who was diagnosed at 53 with cancer in many of her major organs, including breast cancer cells.  A shock to us all, to say the very least.  Within a few months of being diagnosed she passed away.  I don’t blame anyone, not the doctors, not the things we could have done earlier, not the signs we didn’t take seriously, not the treatments available at the time.  I truly feel God was ready to bring my mother home, which makes me feel at peace with why she was taken so early.  I think about her daily: her love, her support, her smile, her loving advice, and our heartfelt conversations.  I also think about how 9 years have gone by so fast and the things that have changed: marriages, grandchildren, first homes, achievements and how the world has evolved.  Sometimes it makes me sad thinking about it, but I think of the higher power and put my trust in God and realize there’s a greater reason for everything.

When I walk in the American Cancer Society Breast Cancer walks with my family each year, I don’t just walk for breast cancer survivors and research, I walk for all those fighting a cancer fight, for those families who stand beside their loved ones and are a part of the emotional journey, and for those that will someday be face to face with the struggle.  I too wonder, if I will someday be in that fight, but I can look to my mother who handled herself with such grace and strength for her children and family and find peace in her courage, and how she fought, the good fight, at such an early age.

The month of October is the month my mother was born, the month she passed away and the month of breast cancer awareness.  Being a part of these walks are a wonderful way for Maddie to feel closer to her grandmother, for my husband to feel connected to his mother-in-law and for me to honor such a wonderful mother who gave her All for her family and children, and to walk with those who have been a part of what we have experienced with cancer.  The cheers while walking are not to make it to the 5 mile finish line, they are cheers for life and cheers for those still in the cancer fight.  What a wonderful walk to be a part of.

Has a form of cancer affected you or your family in some way?  May God bless those still in the flight and those that have been affected.


Biking New Jersey

Last weekend I was back on my bike with Bike New York riding through parts of New Jersey.  Oh, poor New Jersey, they always get a bad rap – from their beaches that cost to enjoy, from the hundreds of toll roads, from the full service gas stations where you wait and wait to get your gas, from the high bridge tolls into NYC and I’m sure the Housewives of New Jersey series isn’t boosting the state’s reputation either.  It has to be tough to shine when you are only a stone’s throw away from one of the most dynamic cities in the world!  Well I’m here to say, it’s not that bad and actually quite beautiful.  My weekend ride gave me a little insight, to the third wealthiest and most densely populated state, and it helped me see the hidden charm of Jorsey.  Would I go back, oh yeah.  Would I recommend it to others, you bet.  Would I do this ride again, without a doubt.

We rode along the Atlantic Ocean, across a few waterways, over a couple bridges, through the gorgeous neighborhoods of Rumson and on tree-lined rolling hills of Monmouth County.  Here’s a look at what I saw and it just might have you booking a trip to the other side of the George Washington Bridge.

beautiful waterways..

gorgeous homes along the water…

picturesque tree-lined streets with rolling hills…

a short wait for a boat to pass under a drawbridge…

many stunning homes with manicured yards though Rumson…was hard to keep my eyes on the road!

and Jersey knows how to finish a bike ride…with a chocolate fountain!  Where’s my kabob stick?!

Until next ride Jorsey!  Headed back to NYC!!  Great day, great ride and leaving with a new prospective.

What are your thoughts about New Jersey?  Have you judged something before experiencing it first hand?  Would love to hear about it.

Time To Recharge


This weekend I finally got a little me-time, with my bike, the road, and a few thousand New Yorkers.  I did the 30 mile (with hills!!) Hudson Valley Bike Tour with Bike NY.  I had been looking forward to this for weeks.  Excited to have a little me-time, and that does not mean a trip to the grocery store alone or running errands after my husband gets home to babysit or reading a book in another room.  This was something I really wanted to do.  Something I planned for and set a date.  Something I waited for with anticipation.  Something I knew would give me the 3 things I needed the most to recharge: exercise, being outside, and getting out of the city.  Woohoo!

Don’t think I just stopped there…I ‘ordered’ a few more things for my much needed me-time.  Let me show you how a bike tour recharges and helps me become a better mother, wife and woman… It might just help you find your recharger!

First, the amazing views from the different locations on the bike trail.  Here, I am cycling over a wide footbridge…you can see it at the top of this page.  An area of solitude, just what I ordered, and reminds me of the beauty outside my small world.

Here I am looking north over the Hudson River. It was so very hot and all I could think about, at that moment, was how much I wanted to leap over the rail and go for a swim, right up the Hudson!  Especially, after cycling over all those hills!!!  Wow, I ordered some exercise and boy, did I get it.

Is this God’s country or what? We rode through areas of tree covered paths and rode under small arched bridges. Third order, relaxation!

I know you don’t see very many bikers, but trust me, I really was on a bike tour!!  At times, I rode into areas where there were none or very few bikers, and I felt like I had the whole tour to myself.  Peacefulness, something else I ordered!

One of my favorite parts of the ride, through the back roads of upstate NY, was watching the sun peak through the foliage. Oh, the beauty of nature.  Which leads me to my last orders, to be surrounded by nature, only hearing the rubber from my tires move along the pavement, and to have a goal just for myself, and to complete it.  Sunday’s ride might not have been an Olympian ride, but I sure felt like I had won the gold after crossing the finish line!  And my Closing Ceremony on Sunday, you ask? Celebrating with my hubby and daughter over dinner, I inhaled :-)   That me-time is more powerful than we think.  We all need it, whether we realize it or not, and it makes us a better and happier person in our everyday lives.

What is something you do special for yourself and it helps you recharge? Please share! I would love to hear about it.

Until next ride,


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