snowgate, blizzard of 2010, winter storm event ---these were just a few of the terms thrown out by the news media (and then consequently, the general public) after the last few days of snow falling again in our area. This time it really was an event though. month alone it has snowed every 1 out of 3 days and March (just next week, wow!) looks to be following a similar pattern since the forecast calls for more Wednesday and Thursday.

Yes, I am still liking it and went out and shoveled and walked to Starbucks etc-- but I do find myself day dreaming more and more about laying on the boat in the warm sun...

Here are a few pictures from our own little snowgate: the neighborhood.

This is from our kitchen looking out onto our deck. That dark area at the bottom is the snow pressed up against the glass.

The neighbor kids Paul & Hannah taking a break

A house down the street. That snow accumulated in 3 hours after being plowed by a bobcat.

earthquake & tsunami

** Update** Family is all safe and back at home. As CNN reported: Hawaii dodged a bullet. Lets turn our attention to Chile.

Lots going on.
First off, the Chilean earthquake. Our heart goes out to all of Chile and everyone affected by this horrible 8.8 quake. The pictures we see on the news give us chills.

One of the unfortunate side affects of this quake is the tsunami warnings all through the Pacific including Hawaii---where I have a great deal of family that live there.

My cousin and her boyfriend on the Big Island are ok-- she lives in one of the more mountainous regions, but the downtown Kona and Hilo areas close to her house are crazy.

My aunt Janelle and family that visited us last summer had to evacuate their house in Kailua (on Oahu, near Waikiki) as it is close to the beach. At 3 30 am my uncle gassed up the car, they loaded the dog, the kids, my aunt Lynne visiting from Oregon and food in the car and headed to higher ground.
All is fine with them right now and as the first waves started to hit, they seem to be having less of an impact than feared, but it is still very soon.

Be safe and appreciate all you have and who you love-- you never know when something out of your control can so quickly and negatively alter your life.

mummies & street dogs

Who doesn't love that combination??

Check out Travel. Write. Repeat. for my newest piece looking back on my first big trip: Guanajuato, Mexico. Quickly, go and be whisked away! :)

hazy shade of winter

This winter is SO unlike last year in the Tri-state area. Last year we had hardly any snow in comparison and it seems to be snowing pretty much every week. I am still not to the point of complaining about it (my husband on the other hand had his fill after the first snowfall) but I am wondering how long this trend will continue.

Along with watching the Olympics, and going on a snow hike the other day on the Appalachian Trail we have been pretty mellow and still recovering from our exciting weekend in Lake Placid. I am attaching a few more shots from that trip! Enjoy!

I'm getting ready to hit the big (little) hill! The best part about snowboarding for me: I love love love my pants!!!

Tom and Diana at the mountain

The girls!

The guys!

One of the nights John and Li arranged for all of us to have a private dinner in the Wine Cellar of our Inn. We had our own waiter and the space all to ourselves. It was a gorgeous setting, the food was perfect and the company couldn't have been beat! That consideration by John and Li made the entire trip that much better. Thanks guys!!

But even that nice dinner didn't stop John (my pseudo brother) from annoying me as he usually does... I had to get revenge on the slopes!

well... close, but not quite yet. However--I've been told that the first step to becoming what you want to become is to call yourself whatever it is you want to become ... and also to get a website.
Soooooo, I am following that advice and am proud to introduce my new website that is still VERY MUCH in beta format... Diana Ellefson: Travel. Write. Repeat.

This new site will not replace this blog--- Tom and I are still having WAY too many adventures to not have this blog so do not worry!! However--if you are a publisher, editor or anyone that wants to read my upcoming writings/posts/articles and comment or see if I have any potential at all in becoming the travel writer I think I can become... check out my new site. :)

As always thanks for your support!!!!

Miracle On Ice

Lake Placid, NY is best known for the 1980 (and 1932) Winter Olympics. It was here that the title of this post was coined--at the conclusion of the now famous hockey finals competition. Heavily favored Russia fell to the USA at those '80 Olympics and back then, beating Russia would be similar to the US beating Al Queda today. Sortof. The win is still talked about at every Olympics and especially now since it is the 30yr anniversary of that historic match. Aside from the games, Lake Placid is a regular ski town complete with an eclectic collection of restaurants, bars and coffee shops as well as souvenir shops and galleries that only ski towns can keep in business. Its no secret that I do not miss living on the West Coast, but one of the things I do miss is Whistler. The village calls to me and after years and years of going there every "American Thanksgiving" its hard to be so far away from such a quaint, magical, welcoming place. However, and this is a big HOWEVER, I have to say that Lake Placid satisfied my longing to be in Whistler-- for this year at least. While it is not a contained village (in Whistler, you park your car underground and never get into it again--ski in, ski out, shop eat, sleep etc all in the village) Lake Placid is small and even with the snow falling we walked everywhere and enjoyed getting to know this town inside and out.

We stayed at the Interlaken Inn and Lisa (oh yeah, we went with John & Lisa, Jerry & Michelle) described it best when she said "I feel like I am in my own house but that I have servants". I think she said this as we laid by the fireplace in the large common area (that we seemed to pretty much "own") and all of us agreed realizing that wait--isn't this our own house??? With snow falling outside, our shoes off, feet on the couch and us adding wood to the roaring fire when needed while drinking hot buttered rums--we felt pretty at home.

Interlaken Inn is run by Mary and John and their family. They boast a very popular restaurant that is by reservation only and famous for their seafood dinners as well as their organic made to order breakfasts, a bar with the most friendly bartender we have ever met (Mark!) and a very family like feel. Dogs are even allowed in the cottage portion of the Inn--so next year it will become a "family affair" with the 4 dogs coming along!

All 6 of us went skiing one of the days, well, 5 of us did. I chose to snowboard. While I had a great deal of discouragement come my way from all of the guys ("its too hard", "you should ski", "you won't have any fun", yada yada yada), I held my own and aligned myself with the "cooler" of the two sports. I was set.

Cool Snowboard pants bought ON SALE over the summer? Check. Semi-cool Snowboard jacket I planned to replace as soon as we get home? Check. Helmet? Check. Cool Goggles borrowed from Jerry? Check. Attitude that I was going to do well? Check.

Lisa, a pro skier in her own right, was gracious enough to want to hang out with me (a TOTAL BEGINNER) and help me if she could. Michelle and I were both beginners, but we knew we could do this and Lisa was a great supporter! The guys headed to the top of the mountain to be manly and compete against each other while Lisa, Michelle (also a beginner) and I stayed at the very scary MIXING BOWL (actually only one step up from the nearly flat ground).
Li was able to help me some but it took me a couple runs to figure out the balance and the edging.
Long story short: 1) I liked it. 2) I fell a TON 3) I am sore. 4) I liked it.

Li has the pics of the skiing adventures so those will be posted in the next few days.

Other than hitting the slopes we enjoyed some wonderful meals, some great conversation (yay for girl time and guy time), shopping, laughing, some igloo time, toboggan rides, having a private dinner in the Inn's fabulous wine cellar (arranged by John and Li for all of us) and over all-----a fun and relaxing weekend; we didn't want to leave.

The pics I will post today show our other adventures/sights at Lake Placid.

Dog sledding on the Lake

The girls visiting the Husky shaped igloo built on the Lake

The group (Diana is taking the pic)

Waiting in line for the toboggan ride! Yikes!

Michelle and Diana lounging by the fire

The Lake Placid Olympic torch

And by night with Lisa!!

If my previous posts didn't teach you about curling in a way that kept you interested... this clip from the Colbert Report surely will. As Colbert says, "Passing a stone never felt so good."
Enjoy--its hilarious. And enjoy the Olympics--we are!

Look for upcoming posts on our trip to Lake Placid (home of the 1980 Winter games and the famous Miracle on Ice event--US beat Russia in Hockey)!!

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Skate Expectations - Curling Team Tryouts - Colbert vs. Shuster
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorSkate Expectations

Blizzard 2010

And the title of this post is not just what I have named this storm, its what all of the news channels in NY have named it and we know that news stations never exaggerate any situation...

I do have to say though that this IS A BLIZZARD. My native west coast self is showing and I caught myself looking out the window often today to see the heavy snowfall and blowing winds that have gone on all day and are due to continue most of tonight. I do love it though but its just the dogs and me surviving it together as Tom is in Seattle for some intense work meetings. He is pretty happy to have avoided the snow, but lets hope it doesn't delay his flight home tomorrow!

Earlier today, around noon before the conditions turned really nasty, I went for a jog in the snow (what a workout) and then shoveled our driveway and walk to get some exercise. It was quiet out and gorgeous. The dogs were out with me and here is a funny little video of them! Enjoy!!

Curling. The End.

It is as if the Universe KNEW I was seeking to learn more about Curling as so many different articles and bits of info seemed to just materialize without any effort on my end (and that, for a writer, does not happen much).

Before I get into more info--first let me start off this final installment of all things Curling with pictures of our nieces in a recent bonspiel (a Curling tournament) that no doubt, they won.




They are so cute!
OK--back to my discoveries on Curling. In the last post I wondered if Scotland, the homeland of Curling had a team that would be at the Olympics. I don't think so. I think maybe the Scots combine some with the Brits team, but I can't be sure...

I also wondered what the draw was to curling.
The endorsements? Yeah, not likely.
The intoxicating cold ice? Doubtful, but I found no evidence to support that.
The sweet uniforms? YES!!! That must be one draw... lately at least.

I didn't have to look far to find that Curling is not really known for its stylish outfits. But you see, Curling is getting to be more well known, in fact--- Curling is the ONLY Olympic Sport that increased its audience from 2002 to 2006 and because of that, NBC will be airing 100 hours of action in Vancouver. According to a producer for the Vancouver Games, Curling will be "without a doubt be one of the hottest tickets at the Olympics".

But again, their outfits or uniforms have been known to be a bit... frumpy...but not this year.
According to some rumors-- expect to see slim fitting, streamlined zip-front jackets and body hugging tops the Canadian team will be sporting this Olympics--complete with the maple leaf and the word Canada in big letters. Even the sale of replica jackets have been popular throughout Canada.

For Curling? I never would have thought!!

Another thing that is sure to bring some new fans is this --which actually, has been in place for a few years now I think--the Women of Curling Calendar.

Here is a sneak peak of one month:

I KNOW, right?? Curling??

And if that was not enough--

Curling has a young, popular and pretty Captain on team Canada: Eve Muirhead. At only 19, she is not only is in the present news of Curling in Canada, but also very much the future. Read about her here:

All in all, this information about Curling has made me curious to watch some of the matches and to see how rabid the fans are during these upcoming Olympics. But no longer am I baffled (as much) about the draw to Curling and I think I can see why people get behind the people that get behind the stones. I think. :)

It IS called a broom!

Welcome to the 2nd of ... well, maybe only 2 posts on the Olympic event of Curling.

In my early attempts to learn more about this sport I have to admit that I likened it to Trigonometry: I knew it existed, but that is really where my interest ended. Now though, as our nieces are involved and I am getting many inquiries from friends all over (thanks @lacaptainkey and @farwriter on twitter) on exactly what Curling is, I feel I need to look a bit deeper than Wikipedia to find out.

It seems that Curling's home is in Scotland. While it likely originated in the Netherlands, Scotland made it "their" event in the 1500's and the Scottish immigrants coming to Canada brought the sport with them.
(Hmmm, does Scotland still have a curling team? I wonder if they will be representing in Vancouver? Must check...)

Curling is played on a sheet of ice with 4 "players" and granite "stones" that weigh no more than 44 lbs. One player slides ("delivers") a stone down the ice gives and gives it a slight spin upon release. The ideal amount of spin should cause the stone to make no more than three full rotations as it travels the length of the ice. The spin allows the stone to travel in a curved path as it approaches the target "house" on the ice It's called Curling because the curved path is called the curl. How much a stone curls depends on the amount of spin, the speed of the stone and the ice conditions. 2 of the other players help the stone along down the ice with a curling "broom" by sweeping the ice at the commands of the captain ("skip").

I don't know about you, but while now I have about 85% more info than I used to have, I am still way less than excited about Curling. I need to find some interesting tidbits, or Curling gossip or some famous curlers to help my interest... what brings people to this sport? Is it the endorsements? The intoxicating freezing temps of the ice? The skimpy (see diagram) yet warm outfits the players get to wear?

I will find out for us all. Stay tuned for a much needed 3rd installment.

The countdown is on--only 5 days until the Opening Ceremonies!

Our household is very excited for the upcoming Olympics---for many reasons, including:

1) They are very exciting--much more than the summer Olympics (in our opinion).

2) They are in Canada--Tom's home country and where some family still lives.

3) They feel like they are in my home town since they are in Vancouver, BC in Canada (only 90 min from Seattle).

4) We will be in Lake Placid (home of the Winter Olympics in 1980) for Opening Ceremonies and Valentines Day Weekend with our friends John & Lisa.

If you have been anticipating the Olympics as we have been, you will know that Canada is VERY serious about getting some gold this time (as they have not yet gotten Gold when the Olympics have been in Canada). Its bound to be a battle in every event--especially Speed Skating and of course Hockey.

One event though I am expecting Canada to win with their EYES CLOSED--in fact, in this event I am about to name, I think the Canadian athletes should wear blindfolds. This event---Curling. Yes, Curling. Some spectators (read: me) have been quoted as saying "isn't that shuffle board on ice?" or "isn't that the game where they push big circular thingy's around with brooms?"
Good questions--- and I aim to find the answers.

Curling, faithful readers, the third biggest sport in Canada behind hockey and Canadian Football (really? Canadian Football is really that big??), will be the focus of my posts the next few days--partly because I am extremely interested (read: baffled?) in how this "sport" works and what exactly is involved and partly because our gorgeous nieces that live in Calgary are curling CHAMPS in their town and for that reason alone, I am a bit embarrassed that I don't know more about this event so I can properly cheer them on!!

Here are 3 of our Curling nieces (Jillian, Lindsay and Lisa with Gretchen and me in Curacao last March--only Em is missing. Don't they seem to be holding their sparklers like they'd hold a curling broom. Or is it curling stick?)

I will post more soon... but until then, please ponder this word: bonspiel
(pronounced bon-schpeel).

Who to believe???

OK-- so today is Feb 2 and also Groundhog Day. (It is also the season premier of LOST and also someone's birthday. That someone chooses to remain anonymous because as he says "I'm not a big birthday guy." This "guy" is also my husband. If you figure out his name--well, you are just way ahead of the game because I am not naming names... (happy birthday hon!!))

Anyway-- Groundhog Day. Now many areas in the country have their own Groundhogs that they pay homage to each year. Of course there is Punxsutawney Phil--the assumed "main" groundhog--- but there is also NY's own Staten Island Chuck (who bit Mayor Bloomberg last year) among many others.

Growing up, my Spring start date always depended on Phil. Here is where it gets tricky... now that I am married to a foreigner--a Canadian--I have learned many things. For instance, the word "about" has a different pronunciation '(aboot'), semi-trucks seen on the highway are known as "semmy" trucks and pasta is better known as "paa-stah". While those things I have gotten used to (more or less), its the new findings on this Groundhog Day that I am stiill trying to figure out.

My lovely sister in law Karen made mention that she was hoping Balzac Billy didn't see his shadow this year. I assumed instantly that this unknown name/term was a Canadian anomaly, sort of like Canadian Internet shopping (which dear reader is both a pipe dream and a fallacy).

It turns out that Balzac is a town near Calgary, where Karen lives and where Tom is from.

Here is the problem:
Punxsutawney Phil DID see his shadow... 6 more weeks of winter are on its way (in fact, its snowing tonight here in the NE).

Balzac Billy did NOT see his shadow... Spring is due to come early in Canada.

Who should we believe??? Who does Canada believe? We are torn and honestly after some thought... we have to go with Phil because as I said, its snowing right now and if anything says "Welcome 6 more weeks of Winter", its snow. I am sorry Canada. I have to go with my homeland on this one...

Grantie and I ended his trip with 2 more awesome days in NYC (and one day in between of Tom and Grant visiting Orange County Choppers (OCC) and seeing Paul Sr., us all watching the Jets lose to the Colts some serious Super Mario Brothers Marathons on the Wii and dinner at our favorite "mafia" Italian restaurant).

After showing Grant the new Highline Park in the MeatPacking District (an elevated Park that runs parallel to the Hudson--see past posts) we walked downtown through Grant's favorite section of the city--Little Italy and then across the Brooklyn Bridge on a perfectly sunny day. We made our way to the Williamsburg section to have some beers, some Mexican food and to shop some of the boutiques. Grant was a good sport on the shopping aspect. He is currently single (girls... he's pretty cute... hello.....) so he doesn't have anyone that makes him shop at "girl" stores or makes him post for various pictures in various picturesque places... so I took advantage. :)

Brooklyn is much different than Manhattan. There are no buildings taller than a few stories and it really feels like a small town, well, smaller than Manhattan. Brooklyn is really in tune right now with the Indie music scene and has produced nearly as many bands as Seattle did back in the grunge era. Some of those bands are excellent-- TV on the Radio, Matt & Kim and Grizzly Bear are my favorites currently. Brooklyn is the type of town where the famous blend in--even more so than they do in Manhattan. The other thing we noticed is the large amount of mustaches on young, seemingly hip men. I am talking BIG bushy mustaches. The thing with mustaches, and albeit this is just MY opinon, but mustaches really only look good on 1) my 60 year old Dad and 2) Tom Selleck in his Magnum PI days. Really-- not on anyone else--- even in the 80s' when it was "hip". I am seriously off subject here. My apologies. Back to the city.

After spending all day in Brooklyn we were excited to plan our last day in the city... heading in for a taping of the Colbert Report. I have been to Colbert once before back in 2008 when Jean visited and so going again was high on my to do list as its a lot of fun to see a taping and Colbert is very funny.

Grant had never seen a taping of a show so this was a treat for him as well. We did have to wait in line a bit to get in, but while we did we met a nice architecht woman that lived in Greenwich Village (I was very envious) as well as a couple visiting from the Channel Islands in England (side note: I had JUST read a neat book on life on the Channel Islands during WWII and the Nazi occupation-- check it out.

Colbert did not disappoint. We laughed a ton. I didn't want Grant to leave. Tom and I really enjoyed having him here and I tried to drop not so subtle hints that he needs to move out here. I miss him so much and can't wait to see him again.

Enjoy these pics:

Grant in Times Square on the walk back from Colbert and a wonderful time at a very cool Irish Bar on 10th.

Us waiting in line for Colbert

On the Brooklyn Bridge. A gorgeous day.

At Glen's Pub in Brooklyn

My handsome brother with a very teeny Statue of Liberty to his right.

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