1 Year of Whitmanythoughts

A few days ago, a sweet little memory popped up on Facebook: my first blog post on Whitmanythoughts. I cannot believe it has been a year since I started writing about my travels. I feel like I have written so much, yet have so much more to share.

I have expressed over and over again how amazing of a year it has been and how thankful I am for all I have gotten to experience. From traveling around Europe for two weeks with my grandfather to skiing in Park City, Utah with my dad, it has been a thrilling ride.

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I often wonder what will happen to my blog after I finish my time here in Australia. I know I won’t actually be traveling for quite some time, so I won’t have so many new and exciting things to write about. I can definitely see my content changing a bit to adapt to my (not as cool) lifestyle back at home. I do want to focus on my feelings a bit more and incorporate them into my writing so it is not so cut and dry. In the end, I realize I control my blog and as long as I like it, everything is dandy. In reality, every day is a new adventure, and I know I will have things to talk about.

Plus, this is WhitmanyTHOUGHTS for a reason: I have oodles of thoughts and I want to share them. I have so many things constantly swirling through my mind that I would love to turn into “thought” posts. I am not looking for fame with this site, and I am so happy with the 100 followers that I have. Although it would be nice to turn this blog into something larger in the future, I am so contented writing for the sake of my own memory and for my family.

I do have so much to still share. I have posts from my weekend getaways in Italy last summer as well as my extended trips in Australia this semester saved in my computer, yearning to see the light. Although I won’t be “traveling,” I have so many exciting things coming up in the second half of the year, from summer at the shore to a Fall Concert Series 2.0 to hopefully spending some time with international visitors…but I will just keep it at that.

My global travels may soon be over, but the adventures continue. Life is beautiful.  It is not always perfect, but one thing I have been reminding myself is that life does not give me obstacles that I cannot handle. Here’s to the last year of travel, here’s to my time left in Australia and here is to the next year of Whitmanythoughts.

Whitmanythought1: This has been the most epic year of my life and I am so thankful.

Whitmanythought2: How do I still have friends on Facebook with all the posts I share?

Whitmanythought3: Can I just keep travelling for another year?

Thoughts on Turning 21

I remember turning 10 years old and having my mom say, “You’ll be in double digits for the rest if your life!” I thought that was scary. I recall becoming a teenager and having some friends over for some Wii Olympics. I remember deciding whether or not I should have a sweet 16. Turning 18 was an exciting day because I was finally a “legal adult.” My friend surprised me with balloons and I had more friends over for a bonfire that night. Then, I left my teenage years behind and said hello to “the best years of my life.” Now, I am 21 and I am speechless.

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I turned 20 last year and I had just confirmed that I would be studying abroad during the summer. I did not do anything special on my birthday, but formal was right after it, so I counted that as my celebration. I was ready to take on a new year and navigate through whatever came my way. I had no idea that 20 would treat me so well. I visited Costa Rica with my father and sister, explored Europe with my Pop Pop, I lived in Italy for a month and made some memories that are not even comparable to those from Australia. I landed my first internship at a big company and I even tried the college dating scene last fall. Then, I was lucky enough to ski in Park City, Utah for the first time with my dad and head to London with one of my best friends for two weeks. Of course, it was not all happy—I lost one of my closest friends growing up and experienced heartbreak—but that is all part of life. Regardless, I am in awe when I think about the last year and I am forever grateful for it.

I usually don’t get too stoked for my birthday because it just means I am one year older. Of course it is always exciting to have people reach out to wish me a nice day and have a bit of attention, but I never got extremely into it. Although I usually don’t get too wild about my birthday, this year was different. With this birthday, I would finally be “legal” in the eyes of American nightlife. I would have finished 10% of my twenties. This year, I am surrounded by people I basically just met who told me I had no choice but to celebrate my birthday and it feels awesome. This year, I am actually eager to become another year older because it means I am growing, learning and experiencing.

I feel so much love this birthday from all around the world. I had people from America  texting me “Happy early birthday,” I had people from New Zealand and Europe wish me a great day and I had all my friends and acquaintances here showing me love. Nothing is better than feeling loved and celebrated on my special day. It is pretty cool, because I feel like I have two birthdays since it is May 2 in Australia 12 hours before it is in America. I’ll have to keep this in mind during my birthday celebrations in the future.

I am so grateful for all the things I got to experience, all the new people I got to meet and all the new places I got to see during my twentieth year of life. It will be hard to top what I think was the best year of my life, but who knows what the future holds. With that being said, I am so thrilled to see what this year has in store for me. Wow, 21.

Park City, Utah: Good Eats

No vacation is complete without some fantastic food, so I wanted to give you a small taste of the good eats I was fortunate enough to have during my stay here in Park City:

Night One:

Dad and I were recommended to a few places, so we headed down to the old Park City via the free public bus and tried a sport bar and grill called Wasatch Brewery. Dad and I shared some of the best calamari we have ever eaten. I had a BBQ pulled-pork sandwich, one of my favorites, that was rather earthy tasting than sweet. Regardless, it was tasty. Dad and I are a huge fan of the place and would definitely go back.

Night Two:

After about 40 minutes of searching for a restaurant in the freezing cold weather, dad and I ended up at a random sushi joint in Park City called Oishi Sushi. I have eaten a lot of sushi in my life, but this was unimaginably fantastic. Dad and I started off with tuna tartar followed by a platter of sashimi. The fish was so fresh and so beautiful. I ordered two rolls: a tempura-style roll filled with scallops, crab and eel deep fried with funky sauce and eel sauce, and a roll composed of avocado and eel topped with crab, shrimp tempura, tempura crunch, eel sauce and spicy mayo. I cannot stress how incredible this sushi was. I have never seen sushi piled so high or tasted sushi that made my taste buds explode every time I took a bite. Hands down the best sushi I have ever consumed in my life.

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Have you ever seen sushi piled so high?

Night Three:

Tonight we met my dad’s work friend and his wife at The Farm, which is a market-driven, rustic, but elegant restaurant that serves many types of meats. I was unsure what to order, but my dad mentioned the short ribs. I never had that before, so I figured I would give it a try and I am so glad I did. It was juicy, savory and fell right off the bone. Prior to our main course we tried some beef tartar, which is something I don’t think I even knew existed. It was fresh and light, but it did not compare to the tuna tartar from the prior night!

Night Four:

Dad and I loved our sushi so much from Thursday night that we just had to go back! We feasted: we split tuna tartar and an 18-piece sashimi platter (they gave us a few pieces extra) and a spicy scallop roll. We also tried one of the special rolls, the Tiger Lily: shrimp tempura, crap and tuna. On top of that, I ordered my favorite Silver Lake, the tempura-style roll I had before. We made a great conversation with the sushi chef, as we were at the bar. Can I eat here every day?

Night Five:

The final night we decided to stay at the resort and try a sport bar and grill at another hotel. I had a fantastic salad with candied pecans, dried cranberries and crumbled blue cheese. I also split some wings with my dad, one of his favorite things to eat. I ended our final meal with a dessert that was called Nutella Banana Foster, but was basically a Nutella, banana and marshmallow pizza.

I am going to miss taking the bus to Park City or walking five minutes to a nearby joint. The trip was definitely filled with good times, good people and even better food.

Park City, Utah Day 4: Foggy and Fun

I do not think we could have asked for a better last day of skiing. Dad and I absolutely nailed the first half of the day, revisiting some of our favorite runs and trying out some new trails. Every single trail we took was beautiful. The trails had a couple of inches of fresh powder on them, which is always ideal. I mentioned the first day how powder really makes your muscles work, because you have to keep a low center of gravity. An inch or two does not make you exert as much energy, and is really more of a nice, soft cushion. Don’t get me wrong, my thighs were on fire today as I bent up and down, working my way through the bumpy, un-groomed trails and occasional mogul field.

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I was in the middle of taking photos, so I told my dad to smile

Today was the weirdest mix of weather I have ever seen on a mountain. I have skied in snow, in fog and in clear skies. Today I saw almost all of that. For about three hours, we were under a gray sky, but the sun was still visible and it was warm. Dad and I were shocked and grateful that we even saw a hint of sun. During those hours, fog would roll in and roll out of the mountain.

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Fog on the mountain. Right from my phone.

Then, as the forecast predicted, snow started falling down on us. A lot of it. The snow was wet and heavy and it was a bit difficult for me to see, but that definitely did not slow me down. However, after lunch, the snow turned to rain. I do not think I have ever skied in rain before, but there is a first for everything! The rain made the snow heavy and I could notice the weight on my skis as I went up the lift. At this point, I was skiing without my goggles, which are horrible in overcast skies to begin with, and there was water trickling down from my helmet. I laughed to myself when a ski lift attendant told Dad and I that we are hardcore. Let’s just call it a low visibility, high fun day!

Dad and I made the last run count, as always, and we were satisfied with the day. We got a solid three days of skiing in, plus the first, and we could not be more pleased. As my dad said, “That’s all she wrote!”

Park City, Utah Day 3: Thoughts from a Chairlift

Another epic day out in Park City! Dad and I have been so fortunate with the killer conditions on the mountain.

As I said earlier, I often talk to and sing to myself while skiing. I also get into some pretty deep thought while on the chairlift, so I wanted to center my blog around a few of my thoughts. So, I guess we can call this, “Thoughts from a Chairlift.”

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Nature is Beautiful

As I look out into the horizon on a chair lift with a splendid view, I cannot but think how spectacular our world is. Just imagine looking out high above the ground to see rolling snow-covered hills. Or listening to birds chirp as you pass towering trees with snow delicately covering its green needles, with the trickle of a small stream in the background. Being in the mountains provides immaculate views any time of year.

Park City Attracts All

Park City may be one of the best ski resorts in America, and it definitely attracts all sorts of people. Besides welcoming people from all around the U.S., I have heard tons of British and/or Irish accents and other accents that are definitely from Europe. On top of that, I have heard Spanish and Asian languages around the mountain. It is so cool that so many different people end up here to ski.

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Practice May Not Always Make Perfect

I don’t know if I am just hard on myself, but my skills are not where I want them to be. I feel like I have plateaued with my skiing, and I think that is because I am too scared of falling and breaking myself that I don’t go for the quicker, sharper turns. My dad is the most eloquent skier I have ever seen, and I hope to be half as talented as he is.

I am Lucky

Well, I already knew this, but our accommodations here are insane. Instead of staying somewhere a drive from the mountain, we are staying at the Park City resort area, at the Grand Summit to be exact. Our hotel leads right out to a chairlift, so all we do in the morning is put on our gear, walk up 10 steps, walk 2o steps out the door and then take about 10 steps down, and we are on the mountain. Did I mention the outdoor heated pool, three hot tubs, sauna and steam room? Now this is “Life Elevated!”

Of course, I have many other thoughts, but I felt these were the most prominent. Three days of skiing down, one to go!

Park City, Utah Day 2: Fun in the Sun

Two is my favorite number for a reason. The second day here in Utah gave us more groomed snow and bright blue skies.

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Blue with a beautiful view

Dad and I explored new parts of the mountain. Yesterday we skied in the Canyons area of the resort, and today we stayed in the Park City area. Fun fact: These two different sections were actually separate at once, but Vail bought much of the area here and are in the multi-million dollar process of connecting several mountains together which may make Park City the number one ski resort in the world.

I really want to focus on two things here: the snow and the weather. As I mentioned, more trails were groomed, which gives a smoother surface. Un-groomed trails are basically trails with a blanket of untouched snow on it. I do enjoy un-groomed trails, as the snow is more forgiving and they really make your muscles work. Dad and I definitely got a workout today with all the fantastic trails we explored!

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Shredding

The largest difference between yesterday and today was the weather. It is amazing how much weather can affect my enjoyment on the mountain. Yesterday was overcast and snowed much of the day. The sky was completely gray, with the exception of a few times when clouds seemed to be parted by a bullet and a streak of blue was visible.  It was about ten degrees, but thankfully, there was no wind. Today was about the same temperature-wise, but the sun was shining bright and there was not a cloud in the sky. The birds were chirping and so was I! I’m serious, I talk and sing to myself as I ski down the mountain, and I am pretty sure everyone in earshot of me thinks I am insane.

Today is how a day on the mountain should be: fun and fast! I ended the second day in a way better place than I did the first day, and I am stoked that I get to head out in warmer weather tomorrow.

Park City, Utah: Day 1

Today was my first day of skiing in a whole year! Since I became a college student, my ability to hop in a car during the weekend and drive to the Poconos or Vermont to shred some trails has dwindled. I have been fortunate enough during my college breaks to go to Colorado twice with my dad, my uncle, who lives in the state, and my Pop Pop. However, this year, my uncle decided to take his family to Costa Rica, and my Pop Pop went along with my grandmother. So, my dad decided that we would try something new and fly out to Utah and ski in the infamous Park City.

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One of many view of one of many valleys from one of many gondolas

The first day of skiing started off a bit slow, as my dad was trying to find groomed trails. However, the area got dumped on over the last week, so there was not much grooming occurring. Apparently, the resort likes to groom alternating trails every third day so the snow quality is not tarnished. The snow was magnificent: powdery and plentiful.  The mountain is ginormous, so it is definitely easy to aim for one chair lift and find yourself in a completely different area. Dad and I found a few solid trails prior to lunch and our day went up from there.

After lunch, before exploring another part of a mountain, we discovered a fantastic run called “Boa” that really worked our legs and got us excited. There is nothing like carving through fresh snow and feeling the adrenaline rushing through my body, making me work hard to get the best form I can. Despite the fact that I almost froze to death, it turned into a pretty nice first day of skiing that made me eager to explore more of the mountain.

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Swimming in the outdoor heated pool with Dad

After skiing, I followed my dad into the heated outdoor pool and then into the hot tub. We then hopped in the sauna and ended our after-ski activities with the steam room. However, I did not last long in there, as the loud steamer, the low visibility and the overall feeling in the humid room made me feel it would be the last thing I see.

My first day of skiing was exciting, although I definitely was not as energetic due to the fact that I thought my toes were going to fall off. The second day of skiing here in Park City will not be much different temperature wise, so I am definitely going to put on more layers and prepare myself for the coldest weather I have probably ever skied in!

The Season of Falling

It is a picturesque autumn day here in Hempstead, New York. The leaves are vivid shades of orange and red, gently being picked off branches one by one and blowing in the light breeze. The sun is shining and the air wraps around me with a light warmth, almost making me forget that temperatures will soon be unbearably chilly.

It’s fall, and college students like myself like to compare this time of the year to falling grade point averages and diminishing motivation to get things done. It is days like today I flash back to summer and wish I were on a beach without a care in the world.

I have been pondering the incredible adventures I had this summer and how fortunate I am to have gained so many precious memories. From cruising along the Danube to driving to Boston for just a day, the trips on which I embarked during the summer were only a foreshadowing of the adventures awaiting me.

The main attraction this semester was my fall concert series, as I call it. I was fortunate enough to attend four concerts during the semester, and of course, I wrote about them.

Until I unveil my experiences, however, here is a summer throwback to my trip to Lake Wallkill with one my best friends. This is something I watch to help me get through this time in which everything is “falling.”

 

Hofstra University Hosts the Presidential Debate: First Thoughts

It’s not often someone can say her school hosted a presidential debate. It’s even less likely that someone can say she volunteered and worked behind he scenes at a presidential debate. Well, I am lucky enough to say both are true.

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In the spring of 2016 Hofstra University learned it would be an alternate to host the first 2016 presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Although the Hofstra staff and students were saddened Hofstra did not win the ticket to host the debate, we could not complain because Hofstra was lucky enough to host a debate in the previous two elections. Then, in late July, Vice President of University Relations Melissa Connolly received the call of all calls: the university set to host the first debate dropped, and now Hofstra would have the honor. I mentioned months ago that Connolly was in Italy with my study abroad program when she got the news, and had to quickly rush home to begin the planning of a debate that one usually has about a year for which to prepare. Hofstra only had two months.

Of course, the fact that Hofstra hosted a presidential debate in the last two elections gave us an advantage that helped us scramble it all together in such a short timeframe. After countless hours of phone calls, meetings, conferences, emails and organizing thousands of people and millions of dollars, the week of the first presidential debate rolled about and it was crunch time.

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David S. Mack Sports Complex

It seemed as if Hofstra went from its normal self to a full-blown movie set in a matter of days. The David S. Mack Sports Complex began its transformation to media row as the school year began, with an outside stage for reporters being built. Banners were hung about a week before the debate and extra cameras, spotlights and wires were soon placed around campus. Then, MSNBC, CNN and Fox began building their stages, and before we knew it, everything was set and the debate was here.

There are no words to describe the amount of work that University Relations and Hofstra took on to roll out the first presidential debate of 2016. From the first day we knew we were hosting it to the last, nothing but excitement (and an overload of stress for the planners) filled the air, and the energy on campus was booming. It was a once in a lifetime experience for sure, and I am thankful I got to partake in the making of history.