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[Ann Arbor, MI, Apr 14, 2019] My first opportunity to explore Ann Arbor came on Sunday night, after a full day of pre-conference training. The conference is hosted by a different university every year, and this year’s host was the University of Michigan. The conference itself was taking place off campus at a Sheraton hotel. However, the Sunday night welcome reception, which kicked off the conference, was located at the famous University… Read More

[Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Apr 13, 2019] I woke up just before sunrise and just before my alarm. The faint light of the rising sun was making its way through my window. I was ready to explore Cuyahoga National Park, which preserves the rural landscape along the Cuyahoga river between Cleveland and Akron. Being adjacent to two large urban areas makes Cuyahoga somewhat unique, which explained why I was seeing homes right… Read More

[Northfield, OH, Apr 12, 2019] I’ve been going to the Higher Education Data Warehousing conference since 2011. It’s an annual conference that typically takes place in April and different universities take turns hosting it. Other than my very first trip, I have always added a few days on the front and/or backend of this conference to sight-see. Thanks to this, I’ve seen Chicago, Niagara Falls, Toronto and Saguaro National Park in Tucson,… Read More

[Death Valley National Park, Mar 31, 2019] This time, we intentionally set our alarm for 6 am. We both enjoyed the cooler temps and fewer crowds the early hours afforded us, so it was not a hard sell. We first headed out to the Mesquite Sand Dunes on the west side of the park. They are the most popular sight in the park, which surprised me as I would have thought Badwater… Read More

[Death Valley National Park, CA, Mar 30, 2019] We tried to sleep in on our first morning in Death Valley, but the alarm clock in our hotel room had somehow gotten set to 6 am. When it went off that morning, surprising both of us, we were mad at first but in the end enjoyed getting a fairly early start to our day. After breakfast at the hotel, we gassed up at… Read More

[Lone Pine, CA / Furnace Creek, CA, Mar 29, 2019] Death valley is one of those parks I’d heard about even as a kid in Bulgaria. The mere mention of its name conjured up images of skeletons and skulls. The  weather was incredibly hot much of the year, I’d read as a child, and many a men had paid the highest price for venturing into this place unprepared.  Death valley was named… Read More

[Oahu, HI, Dec 30, 2018] On our last full day in Hawaii, we ended up all over the island – from the southeastern shore to the westernmost tip. Our first stop was Hanauma Bay, one of the most popular snorkeling spots on the island. Hanauma Bay was created by a crater explosion along the eastern shore of Oahu. Wave erosion along one of the walls of the crater gradually created the bay…. Read More

[Waikiki, HI, Dec 28/29, 2018] For the next few days, we went into major relaxation mode. On our first day in Waikiki, (Fri, Dec 28), the forecast called for rain most of the day. The morning was cloudy but it hadn’t started raining yet, so B and I decided to do a hike Vanya recommended. Makapu’u Lighthouse trail is one of the most popular on the island. We were a little leery… Read More

[Kaneohe, HI, Dec 27, 2018] On our agenda for today was a visit to the Byodo-In temple in the town of Kaneohe, on the eastern side of Oahu. After encountering lots of traffic on the North Shore yesterday, we figured we’d get an early start so that we can get to the temple shortly after it opens at 8:30 am. The drive from Wahiawa was beautiful! We got to cross the Ko’olau… Read More

[Haleiwa, HI, Dec 26, 2018] My friend’s home in Wahiawa made it easy to explore Hawaii’s North Shore. World famous for its surf breaks and awesome beaches, the North Shore is a must when visiting Oahu. But first, we couldn’t help but fall for the tourist trap that is Dole Plantation. It was less than 10 minutes from Vanya’s house and it welcomes more than 1 million visitors a year, so we… Read More