Happy National Selfie Day!

June 21st is National Selfie Day! It’s a cinch to participate in this holiday. Just pose, snap, and post.

But most importantly, take that selfie safely.  Here’s how:

If you take a trip to the beach, getting the waves crashing behind you is a great way to show how you are spending your summer day.   Be sure to scan the area for any riptides and heed any lifeguard warnings.  Hold on tight to your phone too.  That wave crashing behind you can be far stronger than you think!

If you are going for a bike ride, the possibilities are endless of what you can share – action shots, landscapes, and your very cool bike gear.  While all these shots can be epic, it’s smarter to pull over and snap that picture than to take the picture while biking.

Spending the day walking with co-workers for lunch or dinner alfresco with friends? There is plenty to capture and share too.  Just remember to not snap and post that perfect selfie while walking.

Most importantly be aware of your surroundings.  That big smile you’ll post on social media for all to see should be fun and worry-free.   So snap that pic, and Get your Selfie on!

Summer Pet Safety

It’s a beautiful, sunny day and you just spent part of your day tossing tennis balls to your furry friend at the park. Heading home, you realize you need to pick up a few things from the supermarket; it should only take about five minutes. Sure, the sun is shining and it is about 80 degrees, but it will only be a few minutes, so there is no harm in leaving your friend in the car, right?

WRONG. You never leave your pet in a car on a warm day.

Every year, hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion as a result of being left in parked cars on warm days.  On a 75-degree day, the inside of a parked car can climb to 110 degrees in only minutes. In 20 minutes on a 90-degree day, the same car can get up to 130 degrees inside which is unsafe for humans and animals. You may think cracking the windows will help your pet, but the truth is that opened windows make very little difference to the inside temperature of your car.

Heatstroke is the main danger for pets in hot cars. Animals can sustain brain damage or even die from heatstroke in just 15 minutes. Beating the heat is extra tough for dogs because they can only cool themselves by panting. If they are stuck in a hot car, the cool air they receive is little to none and makes cooling down much harder.

Like most busy pet parents, you may be pressed for time and think that surely it’s okay to leave your pet for just a few minutes. The excuses: “Oh, it will just be a few minutes while I go into the store,” or “But I cracked the windows…” do not amount to much if your pet becomes seriously ill or dies from being left in a car.

If you love your furry friend as much as they love you, rethink leaving them in the car the next time you are out on a warm, sunny day.

The Best Commute in New Jersey

kmm guest post blogI boast to myself often, and sometimes to co-workers, that I have the best commute in New Jersey!   My name is Sam Gilbert, and I bicycle several days a week from Middlesex Borough to the Johnson and Johnson campus in New Brunswick.  Approximately 6 miles of my 9 mile commute is along the Delaware and Raritan Canal towpath. I enter the towpath at the Queen’s Bridge in South Bound Brook, and exit it at the Landing Lane Bridge.  And, it is a truly a pleasurable ride.

I average 70 or 80 bike commutes a year, excluding the winter.   Though I carry rain gear in my back pack when the weather is “iffy,” I tend to ride on days when the weather reports are favorable.  And, in case you’re wondering, I do have access to a shower at work!!

An added treat is the wildlife I enjoy along the canal.  A casual birder, I have seen herons, osprey, a great Horned Owl, a Bald Eagle and more!  Deer are a given.  But, raccoons, foxes, squirrels, muskrats are also to be seen.  And then, there are the beavers.

KMM guest post blogIn the past few years, there has been a population explosion of Beavers in NJ. I’ve seen few of them along the canal in the past.   But this year, beavers are swimming in the canal almost every day! There is beaver hut on the bank of the canal approximately 100 yards south of the footbridge near where Demott Lane meets the canal.  A beaver is often seen in this area, and I see another near the Landing Lane Bridge.  I suspect there is a beaver hut in this area.

“The best bicycle commute in NJ?  OK, maybe I exaggerate, but only slightly.   I REALLY do enjoy my ride.  Perhaps some other NJ Bike commuters will share their experiences of cycling to work.  If there is a better bicycle commute than mine, I’d sure like to read about it.

Post written by guest blogger, S. Gilbert.  Photos by guest blogger, S. Gilbert

New Brunswick Ciclovia is Coming!

Ciclovia7.12 eventKMM is getting ready for the next New Brunswick Ciclovia, coming on Saturday July 12th!

Ciclovia is an open streets event that encourages New Brunswick residents and visitors of all ages to get physically active through biking, walking, skating, and programmed activities on closed city streets. KMM is partnering with Safe Kids Middlesex County to bring mini bike skills course to Remsen Avenue.

The July 12th event features an all-new route that connects New Brunswick’s downtown and residential neighborhoods with the Cook/Douglas campus of Rutgers University.  Plan ahead and check out the Cicolovia map!

To learn more about the program, be sure to visit the New Brunswick Ciclovia’s website.

The Shore Attitude – Beyond Summer

Beach%20Pic%201The bright sun streaming through your window wakes you up – it’s going to be another hot day on the Jersey Shore. You and your family put on bathing suits, t-shirts and sandals, and walk a couple blocks to that breakfast place for pancakes. Later, you load up the cart for the three block walk to the beach while your eldest rides off on a cruiser bike to meet her friends on the boardwalk. On the walk, you wave hello to your neighbors for the week and stop to chat, while your youngest tugs at your shirt to keep going – the waves are waiting.

Summer vacation is great time to experience the joys of living “car-lite” by walking and biking where you need to go, but why can’t we bring some of that lifestyle and attitude with us when it’s time to return to work and school? Here are some ideas.
Group your walkable errands.

Got places to go near your home or office? Instead of stopping there in your car on your way to/from someplace else, plan ahead and save those errands for an evening or weekend walk. You’ll get things done, and some exercise, too!

Meet the neighbors

While you’re out, take a moment to say hello. Pet the dogs, sniff the flowers, and take a moment to enjoy your neighborhood.

Encourage your children

Show your children how to get around their neighborhood on foot and by bike, then encourage them to make that choice. Don’t just drive them because you can, or because “it’s hottttt,” “it’s colllld,” “it’s raining,” or “I have a backpack.” Make sure they’ve learned and practiced crossing the street and bicycling safely.

Ride slow.

Just because you’re home, doesn’t mean you have to be racing your bike. Where would you ride at a leisurely pace? To the coffee shop? The pool? A friend’s barbecue?

Any clothing is bike clothing.

If you can ride to the beach in a bathing suit and flip-flops, you can ride at home in, well, anything that works for the weather. Wear a helmet, and use lights at night (a front white light and a red rear light).

 

Ferry-ly We Go Along – Changes in Latitudes

When I was a kid, my Dad would take us for a ride on the Staten Island Ferry.  At 5 cents per passenger, it was a true bargain for a family of six.  We’d ride to Manhattan and turn around and come back.  Sometimes, he’d take the car on the ferry and we’d drive in the City.  Great times!

That was the start of my affection for ferries.  Here are a few others I’ve ridden.

Cape May, NJ – Lewes, DE

The Cape May to Lewes Ferry held 2 attractions for a friend and me – water and crab cakes.  The combo fare for ferry and shuttle service got us close to Lewes’ downtown area.  After dinner, we’d stroll to King’s for homemade ice cream before hopping the shuttle for the “cruise” back to NJ.

Oxford, MD – Bellevue, MD

Started in 1683, the Oxford – Bellevue Ferry is more modest than most carrying just 9 cars.  The pleasant 7 minute ride covers about ¾ of a mile as it crosses the TredAvonRiver on the way to St. Michaels, MD, the “town that fooled the British.”   During the War of 1812, knowing the British were poised to attack, the residents hung lanterns high in the trees.  At night, aiming for the lights, the British gunboats overshot and the town was saved.

Port Kent, NY- Burlington, VT

One of the best ways to start Vermont leaf-peeping is aboard the Port Kent-Burlington Ferry, operating since 1826.  With the Adirondacks to the west and the Green Mountains to the east, this is truly the “scenic route” of the Lake Champlain service.

Hyannis, MA – Nantucket, MA Lawrence

In the 1830s, Nantucket was one of the busiest whaling ports in the world.  Today, she still welcomes travelers arriving by sea, including by ferry.  The Steamship Authority runs service to the island regularly from Hyannis.  Passengers who “walk on” can chose the high speed which takes about 60 minutes.  Those with vehicles or a little more time, might prefer a more leisurely 2 ¼ hour cruise.

Levis, Quebec, Canada to Quebec   City, Quebec, Canada

As the Empress dominates Vancouver, so does her sister hotel the Chateau Frontenac loom high above Quebec City. Travelers crossing the St. Lawrence via ferry at Levis enjoy a 10 minute trip and some spectacular views of this 400 year old city.

Seattle, WA – Victoria, BC, Canada

Reigning over Vancouver Island’s Inner Harbor with grace and majesty, the Empress, a magnificent hotel from another age, awes visitors arriving by ferry from Seattle.  Built in 1809, she has welcomed royalty, rogues, and regular people like my Mother, sister, and me.  After visiting the Royal BC Museum, Parliament, and Butchart Gardens, we indulged in that time honored ritual known as Afternoon Tea.

Tea at the Empress
Tea at the Empress

 

Planes, Ships and Automobiles – Changes in Latitude

My family has taken many vacations over the years, most of which involved long car rides to our destination.  Most of our time was spent reading road maps, sitting in traffic, searching for parking and waiting in rental car lines.  However, one year we decided to try something new.  We sailed on a Disney Cruise and left the ship responsible to take us to our destinations.  We would relax aboard the great big ship and be pedestrians for the week (and shed the pounds we would gain from having access to food 24 hours a day).  We were ready for our relaxing non-transportation vacation, or so I thought.

Photo Credit: disneyparks.disney.go.com
Photo Credit: disneyparks.disney.go.com

On the day of the departure, we loaded into our mini van and drove 90 minutes to the airport in Allentown, Pa.  Soon we were airborne as our plane took off for Orlando, Florida.  And no sooner than when we landed, we were driving along in our rented car to Cape Canaveral to board the ship.

For those keeping track – car, plane, car and ship.

Our first stop on our cruise docked us at Key West,  where we walked, walked and walked.  Day two was spent at sea, so our mode of transportation was a comfortable lounge chair aboard the outdoor deck.  On Day three, we arrived at Grand Cayman where we boarded a smaller boat which delivered us to the pier and waiting taxi that was beach bound.

Who is checking?  Car, plane, car, ship, walk, smaller boat, and taxi.

Our next stop in Cozumel involved taking a shuttle bus to a location where we would swim with dolphins.  What a memory!  As our cruise neared its end, we played on the beaches of Castaway Cay and we kayaked.

In one week we – Car, plane, car, ship, walk, smaller boat,  taxi, shuttle bus, swam and kayaked.

Who ever said cruising was relaxing?

But rest assured, we are planning our next transportation mode rich cruise.

Bon Voyage!

 

The Emerald Isle – Changes In Latitude

Polite and friendly people. Warm and delicious brown bread.  Green for more than the eye can see.  Guinness on tap everywhere and anywhere you go.

Where are we?

Ireland, of course – the Emerald Isle.

As the plane descended from the clouds, the morning was bright and beautiful.  And at the expense of sounding cliché, outside our window the greenest fields and lush rolling hills greeted us.

ireland2This was my first trip oversees in many years and the first in which I was leaving my children behind in the care of my parents.  Trying to suppress my anxiety of leaving them, I vowed to make the most of my time in the beautiful city of Dublin.

And what a city it is!

During our week stay, we visited the “must see” sites Dublin primarily by foot and bus……

…St. Patrick’s Cathedral (which unlike the cathedral in New York City is Anglican).

ireland…Trinity College and the splendor of its breath-taking library.

..the Guinness Factory and the tour up to the Sky Bar for a free pint of Guinness – there is a full meal in every pour!ireland3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But of all the tourist sites we visited, by far my favorite was taking the Literary Pub Crawl.  What is better than being immersed in Irish literary history while enjoying a pint at each stop along the tour.  On the night of our walking tour, a light rain fell and we met Yeats, O’Casey, Joyce and Swift along the way on this tour.

And like all good trips, the night before we left, our tour bus made its way up the winding hills and delivered us at the door step of The Merry Ploughboys Pub where we dined, danced and sang as if we were just another fellow family member.

 

 

Cruising Up the Nile in 1987 – Changes in Latitude

Photo Credit: VikingRiverCruises.com
Photo Credit: VikingRiverCruises.com

Most of Cairo was asleep as my cab pulled away from the hotel.  Soon the streets and sidewalks would bustle with people, cars, buses, bikes, and mopeds.  For now, in the dusty morning light, it was my cab and a donkey cart.  The cart had no driver.  Yet, the donkey trotted with confidence and purpose, crossing the street carefully as two men slept in the back.  I don’t know where the donkey was going but I was on my way home following a whirlwind tour of Egypt.

That I was in Egypt at all mystified me. I had read Death on the Nile and Elizabeth Peters’ excellent mysteries. I knew about the Pyramids, King Tut, Ramses, Nefertiti, and Cleopatra.  That was about it.

When my sister Clara, a travel agent, invited me to cruise up the Nile between Luxor and Aswan, I couldn’t refuse.  We met in Cairo and flew together to Luxor, where the Osiris, our floating hotel, awaited.

Shopping in downtown Luxor, a tour of the Temple, and a spectacular light and sound show at the Temple of Karnak, left us exhausted.  As we slept, Osiris crossed the river to the West Bank of the Nile. To avoid the daytime heat, buses left at 6AM for the necropolis at the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens. We wore sturdy shoes and carried flashlights, bottled water, and sun tan lotion.

Photo Credit: ancientegyptonline.co.uk
Photo Credit: ancientegyptonline.co.uk

The tombs had been cut deep into rocky hills. The walking was strenuous.  Inside the tombs, colorful, well preserved murals and hieroglyphics depicting the life and death of the entombed covered the walls and ceilings of uneven passageways.

With terraces and colonnades, Queen Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple at Deir al-Bahri rests below towering cliffs.  Here, a member of our group revealed she had been Hatshepsut in a previous life.  Sadly, the tomb drawings were destroyed by the Queen’s successor.  He wished to eradicate any trace of this woman who ruled as a man.

Though hot and humid on land, on the river, it was cool and relaxing when afternoon tea was served.  Occasionally, we heard the call to prayer from towering minarets.  We sailed north to Dendera and the tomb of Hathor, goddess of heaven, joy, and love.  From there, we bused to Abydos, the final resting place of the god Osiris.

Heading south, we stopped in Esna, Edfu, and Kom Ombo which is protected by two gods.  Harwar, a hawk headed god and Sobek, a crocodile share a twin temple with one side dedicated to each.  In Aswan, we traded Osiris for a graceful felucca to sail to the botanical gardens on Kitchener’s Island and to the Aga Khan’s mausoleum.

Returning to Cairo, Clara and I visited the Pyramids and the Sphinx. Visitors don’t walk into the pyramids. Rather, they crawl along an ascending or descending passage though galleries and chambers. It is not for those who are claustrophobic. At the bottom of the Pyramids, sits the Sphinx.  Part lion, part man, the Sphinx faces east to watch the rising of the sun, the return of life each day.

 

SummerBlogPhoto

 

Each Wednesday, KMM’s staff members share stories and anecdotes about their 
memorable vacations, recent and past.  These will be personal 
recollections about trips to our beloved Jersey shore, across America, 
and around the world.  Changes in Latitude………..

Mind the Gap – Changes in Latitude

As a mother of two active school-age children living in the New Jersey suburbs, our family vehicle is very much a part of our family.  We drive almost everywhere with children and gear and friends in tow.  Add office life and social commitments – it’s safe to say our lives as professionals and parents and chauffeurs are full.  So you can imagine my absolute delight and glee when my husband and I left the car and our children in the hands of their loving grandparents and flew off to England for a “holiday”/ work combo trip!

Cheers from London!
Cheers from London!

For 10 ten days we navigated the city of London by foot, train, Underground and river boat and were able to capture the true essence of London.  Staying 25-minutes outside of the city for the beginning portion of our trip, each morning with our Oyster Card in hand, we boarded the train and headed into London.  With a quick exchange in the Underground, we made our way to my husband’s office.  Work first and recreation in the afternoon was our motto and it served us well.

The sun shining and the temperatures in the 70’s was quite unusual for London, but we took advantage of all the city had to offer.  A river boat trip down the Thames gave us a glimpse of the hustle and bustle from both sides of the river.  A walk past Parliament, Westminster Abbey and to Buckingham Palace allowed us to take in the sights by foot.  A stop at the local pub allowed us to converse with the locals and rest my poor feet, who had become slaves to my poor shoe choice.

Each day brought us new discoveries – a ripe enormous fig tree nestled in the middle of St. James Park – and visits to sites we enjoyed on our last trip together to London – a walk across Tower Bridge.   By the end of our first week, we had traversed most of London and I didn’t need to think twice about minding the gap and found myself looking left at each corner!

The weekend brought us to England’s countryside as we carpooled with our local friends to the cities of Ilminster, Glastonbury, Wells and quick stop at Stonehenge.  Thatch roofs cottages lined the country roads and just the most quaint villages welcomed us with endearing conversations and delicious foods.  But like all good things, our weekend came to a close and we returned to the city of London.

With my stint of the trip coming to an end, I did my best to consume every last pound on my Oyster Card.  A trip to Kensington and some last-minute gift shopping in Harrods brought my card to just enough to get me to Heathrow Airport.

The morning of my departure was most fitting.  The rain that is very much England-norm fell lightly as I made my way to the Underground to the Station to the Airport.  This leg of the trip was mine to take alone, since my husband still had work to finish and reality was waiting for me on the other side of the pond.

As my flight took off and we reached higher and higher altitudes, I was thankful for this opportunity for a Change in Latitude.