Nikki Long

Constantly on the move. Always looking.

Blue Lagoon, Iceland

The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa located in southwest Iceland and is popular with locals and tourists alike.

One of the best ways to start your trip is to take the bus from Keflavík International Airport to the Blue Lagoon. You can purchase a one way pass that drops you off at the lagoon (about a 20 min. ride) and then, after your spa experience, catch the shuttle into Reykjavik. The shuttles run on the hour and the destinations are marked on the front lower left window. For a fee, you can check your luggage in a locker and enjoy the spa. For quicker entrance into the spa, purchase your tickets online here: http://www.bluelagoon.com. Can you think of a better way to recover from a long plane ride?

Inside the Blue Lagoon

Beautiful lava rock outlines the geothermal pool.

Silica mud is provided at the edge of the lagoon. Leave it on for about 5 to 10 mins and your skin feels smooth and refreshed.

The swim-up bar features beer, Gullfoss is the most popular, wine, smoothies and fruit juices.

 

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Soak, relax, drink, and take it all in.

The Blue Lagoon also features multiple dining options from take-away, cafe style fare to fine dinning. This is the dinning room of Lava that overlooks the lagoon. You can enter the restaurant through the spa or there is a separate, exclusive entrance on the other side of the complex. The menu features high-end, New Nordic cusine: http://www.bluelagoon.com/food-and-drink/lava-restaurant

Blue Lagoon in the morning.

Surrounding the Blue Lagoon are miles of lava fields covered in seas of velvety moss. The juxtaposition of hard, volcanic landscape covered in a thin line of delicate green is simply stunning.

36 Hours in New York, NY

New York City

36 Hours in New York and what to do? Here’s a few ideas….

Cabs

Take a cab or the subway down to the High Line.

The High Line is a greenway constructed on top of an old NYC rail line that used to connect parts of the Lower West Side. The trains were primarily used for industrial and manufacturing purposes. The High Line opened in 2009 and offers a unique perspective of Manhattan.

The roughly 1 mile of elevated green space runs from Gravsevoot Street to West 30th. Sections of the old tacks are visible in the park’s design.

Grab a coffee, a good book or simply people watch from the multiple seating areas built along the way.

Old Industrial elements are seamlessly woven into the walkways.

After you’ve finished strolling, head to Sullivan Street to Once Upon a Tart. One of my favorite cafes and a Soho institution.

The cafe features a range of espresso drinks, teas, baked goods and sandwiches. Of course, they are also known for their tarts – both savory and sweet.

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Shopping in Soho is a must. In the distance, the Freedom Tower.

Some may go to church to worship. Personally, I pay homage at Leica.

Hop a cab or take the subway back up to Grand Central Station. It shouldn’t be missed. Try the Oyster Bar located underneath. Incredible.

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Bryant Park is another great spot and in the summer features outdoor movies in the evenings. Hungry? Thirsty? Don’t worry food and beverage stands line the perimeter.

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36 Hours? I’ve just given you a few ideas but anything can happen in New York.


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Old Sacramento

Old Sacramento is located in downtown Sacramento, CA and is a designated National Landmark. The historic district has been preserved and is an excellent example of mid-19th century Spanish architecture.

The area features specialty shops, ice cream parlors, coffee houses, and several dinning establishments.

Brooks Novelty Antiques and Records is a great example of the off-beat, fabulous, and quirky coolness to be found in Old Sacramento.

Apart from an incredible collection of vinyl for sale, Brooks also specializes in vintage posters, pinball and slot machines.

The staff at Brooks is incredibly friendly and extremely knowledgable. If you’re into music, vintage, and discovering something rare, this place is for you.

Old cobblestone streets outline the historic district.

Even if you only have time for a quick bite, Old Sac is a unique destination and shouldn’t be missed.

The Central Pacific Railroad Depot offers the chance to step further back in time with a fully functional rail station. The depot has been reconstructed and appears as if would have in the 1870’s.

Take a ride in a classic passenger rail car. All aboard!

The California State Railroad Museum is located nearby the depot and is another great attraction within Old Sacramento. The museum features fully restored rail cars, Pullman sleepers, and glimpse into how the West became linked to the rest of the country through the Transcontinental Railroad.

Tower Bridge is within walking distance behind Old Sacramento and is an impressive feat of engineering and architecture.

The bridge is still in use for both vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Take a stroll along the side and get a wonderful view below of the Sacramento River.

Construction on Tower Bridge began in 1933 and was completed in 1935. The bridge mildly resembles its namesake in London, and, like its cousin, is also a vertical lift bridge desgined to accommodate river traffic.

The view from Tower Bridge up to the California State House.

Back in Old Sacramento, Evangeline’s Costume Mansion is another shop not to be missed. If you’ve ever thought of being it, they’ve got everything you need to become it.

Slow down and step back in time.

 

For more information on Old Sacramento, here is their website: http://oldsacramento.com/

Montauk Point Light, LI

See Montauk Lighthouse

A popular summer destination on the eastern most point on Long Island, Montauk Point Light is a must-see in any season.

Montauk Lighthouse

The lighthouse was constructed in 1796 and was the first public works project in United States. It was under civilian operation until WWII.

Winter Skies

A view from the trail down to the beach below.

Winter Beach Abstract

Captain Kidd, a Scottish privateer who was later executed for piracy by the English Crown, is said to have buried treasure in the beaches below the bluff. Though none of this treasure has ever been recovered, you can still see Kidd’s significant contribution to the State of New York today. He was a primary benefactor and patron in the construction of Trinity Episcopal Church in lower Manhattan.

Beach Walk (Abstract)

The beach is empty except for a lone couple and their dog.

Winter Storm

In order to curb erosion, a beach wall was constructed in 2012.

Montauk Lighthouse B&W Abstract

Storm clouds gather.Winter Wind

New Orleans, LA

Street Jazz

New Orleans has changed nationalities three times but has never lost it’s identity. It’s passionate, sexy, strong and a bit seedy. Southern charm mixed with unconventional resilience defines it’s people, music, and streets.

Jackson Square

Jackson Square named for the hero of the Battle of New Orleans, General and later President Andrew Jackson, is in the center of the French Market. The statue honors him for saving the city in the War of 1812. The Cathedral of St. Louis anchors the square and is one of the oldest cathedrals in North America.

St. Louis Cathedral

The Cathedral of St. Louis was built by the French in honor of King Louis XVI in 1789 and was completed in 1794. In order to meet the needs of the growing population, the cathedral was expanded and rebuilt in 1850. It currently is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans and boasts 6,000 members. The last papal visit was in 1987 by Pope John Paul II.

Cafe Du Monde

For those who are religious about their caffeine consumption, Cafe Du Monde is a must stop. The original stand is located across the street from Jackson Square.

The Order

When entering Cafe Du Monde, seat yourself. No one will seat you. It’s a bit of a game for the waitstaff to see how long people will stand before they seat themselves. The coffee is severed with chicory or you can order cáfe au latte (for which they are best known). The beignets are some of the best in the city.

Latte and Beignets

The perfect New Orleans breakfast.

Morning Run

The mighty Mississippi River is on the other side of Cafe Du Monde. A pair of runners navigate the trail in the morning fog.

Jazz Poster

Jazz was born in New Orleans and is represented in various artistic mediums throughout the city. This image was taken from a vintage 1960’s performance poster that caught my eye.

Hurricane Piano

Fats Domino’s piano did not survive Katrina. The legendary jazz and blues singer-songwriter’s Steinway was carried away in the flooding and found 2 miles from his home. It is currently on display in the Louisiana State Museum.

Fats Dominos Hand

Fats Domino had 35 Top 40 hits between 1949 and 1980 and pioneered the jazz and blues rhythms we take for granted in rock and pop today. This image is taken from a poster featuring Fats in the 1950s.

Napoleon House

A visit to Napoleon House is not to be missed. Rumor is the structure was originally built to be the residence of Napoleon Bonaparte after his exile. Order the Muffaletta and the Pimms Cup. Don’t argue. Just do it.

Napoleon House Graffiti

Dinners can literally leave their mark on the walls at Napoleon House. Ask the waiter and he/she will hand you a sharpie.

Orange Cone Green Bike

The French Quarter offers tradition with a twist.

Mardi Gras Bike

Bikes are everywhere. This one captures the spirit of Mardi Gras.

Bourbon Street (Abstract)

Bourbon Street

Bourbon Vodoo

Bourbon Street offers the best clubs, generous amounts of alcohol, and excellent people watching.

Beer Alley

A creative use for an alley. No space is wasted on Bourbon Street.

Jazz Club

One of the best Jazz clubs in the Quarter.

Jazz (Abstract)

Live music on stage pours out into the street.

Felix's

A trip to New Orleans wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Felix’s.

Inside Felix's

Known for their fresh oysters on the half shell, Felix’s is a New Orleans institution and has been serving amazing local seafood for over 70 years.

Armstrong Park

Just off the French Quarter is Louis Armstrong Park. The gates are amazing and the park honors the various cultures and musical traditions that make New Orleans great.

Southern Mist

Las Vegas, NV

Las Vegas has always been about dreams, lights and illusions. It’s an extreme fiction based on distraction. So what, if anything, is real?

Terrace

Mon Ami Gabi in Paris has been voted one of the best places to have breakfast. They are known for their crépes – both savory and sweet. Try the lemon or the pear. Both are excellent. While you’re at it, order the “bowl of latte” for a buck more. Worth every hand-held sip.

The Waiter

Dinning room at Mon Ami Gabi.

Steel Paris

Underneath the Eiffel Tower at Paris in Las Vegas

Window Into Nobu

Nobu is another great restaurant located inside Cesar’s Palace. Passers-by are treated to a view inside the kitchen.

A copy of Michelangelo’s David is located on the way to the Forum Shops inside Cesar’s Palace. It’s breathtaking and worth seeing.

Vegas Taxi

I’ve always loved the views from taxicabs. This is the view of the Las Vegas Strip.

Fremont East

Downtown Las Vegas is about 15 minutes via car/cab from the Vegas Strip. The first hotels were built on Fremont Street in 1906. This area is littered with classic neon signage and is known as “Glitter Gulch.”

Old Vegas

Old Vegas – Fremont Street

Martini

Vintage martini

El Cortez

El Cortez was the first resort built in 1941 and started it all. In 1945, the resort was bought by Benjamin (Bugsy) Siegel and his associates. They only held it for a year and turned a $166,000 profit. In today’s money, that’s a cool $2 Million.

Looking Back

An abstract view back up Fremont Street

Vegas

Experience The Fremont Street Experience (FSE) is the world’s largest flat screen and the barrel-vaulted canopy encompasses five city blocks. On the hour, a light and music show treats visitors underneath to a visual/audio spectacle.

Flower Power

FSE Show featuring music and images from the late 60’s.

Stage

There are two featured stages for live performances at both ends of the FSE. A crowd gathers as two cellists begin to perform.

The Cellists

Mert and Jerry – collectively known as Bridge – rock the stage. They are electric cellists that perform a wide variety of music from The Beatles, Goyte, and even Metallica. You can hear some of their music here http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoVFoGj72BxfDTkfFzA8YRg

You Are My Father

Darth Vader hugs a tourist after they snap a few pictures.

A trip to Vegas wouldn’t be complete without an Elvis sighting. The King was performing on the stage at the other end of FSE.

Vegas, Baby. Vegas.

Vegas, Baby. Vegas.

Beef, Booze, and Broads

The sign says it all.

Place Your Bet

A trip to Vegas wouldn’t be complete without a little Roulette.

The Strip

The Strip – Las Vegas, NV

Come Back Soon

So what is reality in Las Vegas? I tried to find bits and pieces. Why do we keep coming back? For me, it’s about seeing the new and pushing limits.

Carefully

Minot, ND and Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Midnight at a local diner in Minot, ND

Arny’s Lounge is a great dive bar in the historic business district of Minot. The town features excellent examples of vintage neon signage.

Another local bar. The parking lot was jammed full of trucks and 4-wheel drive vehicles. Minot became a modern day boomtown when oil was struck in the region in 2006.

Charlie’s is a local favorite also located in the historic business district. It’s open for breakfast/lunch and feels like you’re stepped back into the late 1960’s.

Minot to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, located in the North Dakota Badlands, is about a 3 1/2 hour road trip.

abandon-parire-house

A small abandon prairie house on the frozen range.

Theodore Roosevelt was formally designated a National Park in 1978 and is the only National Park named for a person. The park encompasses much of T.R.’s land holdings when we was a rancher and cowboy in the Dakota Badlands in the late 1880’s. Roosevelt semi-permanently went West after his wife and mother died on the same day in their family home in New York City. He often credited his time in North Dakota with his recovery, gaining a broader national perspective, and shaping his conservation policy. He was the first president to have spent significant time West of the Mississippi.

T.R.’s Maltese Cross cabin, was his first home near Medora, ND. It currently stands 7 miles down river where it was originally constructed and resides behind the Visitor Center at Theodore Roosevelt’s Main Gate.

Theodore’s Door.

Skyline Vista in Theodore Roosevelt National Park (T.R.N.P)

Winter in the Badlands at T.R.N.P.

Throughout the park, rills (seen above) make up much of the elevation. According to one of the Rangers, these formations are technically rocks but are made of loose dirt and various organic materials that are constantly shifting. I thought they were beautiful.

 

An abstract view

Peaceful Valley Ranch sits within T.R.N.P. and was a working dude ranch until the 1930’s. It is the only original ranch still standing in the South Unit of the park.

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Original log fencing. Peaceful Valley Ranch.

A view of the Little Missouri River Valley.

A buffalo stood close to the fence at one of the closed sections of Theodore Roosevelt. I walked slowly and stopped several times as I approached. I was in awe how close this amazing, wonderful animal allowed me to be.

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Route 1806 back to Minot.

Every good adventure should begin and end in a diner.