Often the days that are ruled by spontaneity end up being among the best. Upon waking up one Sunday morning, I decided to head over to New Smyrna Beach, a quaint local beach town about an hour’s drive east from Orlando, for a day that was more than sun, sand and surf.

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OK, so it’s true, New York City is a gastronomical delight. People really do eat their way through the Big Apple. I’m sure part of the reason is because they can…they can have food of any ethnicity, any price and at any hour. Once we finally made it here, we were 3 hours later than our scheduled arrival time, which put us at our hotel just before 2 a.m. We were hungry…or maybe a better word is ravenous. Just our luck, there was a Korean restaurant around the corner. And it was delicious. There’s something about eating in a place like that at 2 a.m. that is just cool. Not to be had at home unless it’s a 24-hour pancake joint. Whoopie. Only 12 hours later we found ourselves lunching on  a succulent seared scallop in blood orange sauce (shown above) at the Market Table in the Village for lunch.  The next day we found the Cookshop in Chelsea, and a delicious parsnip soup (I’ll take that with deviled eggs, please!).

Preamble II at The Cook Shop: Deadly Parsnip Soup and Deviled Eggs

Food for the Soul

In between bites at the Market Table and the Cookshop, walks through the neighborhoods presented opportunities to take part in another one of my delights, photography. There’s nothing like immersing oneself into the moment of one’s surroundings. Subtle scenes that might go unnoticed by most during the hubbub of day-to-day activities always emerge during this peculiar state of consciousness. Think about it…no two people hunting for scenes to capture in the same moment of consciousness would capture the same as the other in his/her viewfinder (whoa!). Check out the Shadow and City series.

“Haiku! Haiku!” our guide yelled. The Quechua term for “let’s go/get going” became threaded into the fabric of my days and my dreams during the passage across the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. I never would have imagined the extent of the challenge of the 3.2 day, 30-mile hike based on Active Adventures – South America‘s website description alone. Maybe it was the fever that took up high residence the day before we were to begin our journey — and had yet to leave the day of — that altered the description’s import, or lack there of. Or, that I later lost the ham/cheese sandwich I gingerly ingested the next morning on the bus en route to the park, and in front of 17 other people, while waiting for our guides to finish checking us into the park. Though I calmly and artfully turned my back and removed myself ever so discreetly from the group before the offending moment of truth, one collective gasp rose up from behind me before the guides rushed those from which it had issued forth closer to the trailhead — and away from me. Never mind the poor cactus upon which I heaved my vengeance…thrice.

Wrongly, the guides thought I was having a bout of altitude sickness, evidenced by the Andean elixir they poured into the palms of my hands, instructing me to rub it heartily between them before bringing my palms close to my nose and inhaling deeply. Opening of the lungs to combat the altitude was not what I needed in that moment … or, as it turned out, for the next 72 hours. But the heady floral alcohol-based concoction used by shamans to “open” one’s energy was still hard to refuse despite the misdiagnosis. Read More

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