Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Columbus, Ohio, Day 2

Short post today, since I don't have a good wireless connection. No photos, but I promise more tomorrow.

First impressions... people tell you a lot of things, but don't listen to them! The taxes in Ohio are not 25% of what you find in NJ, contrary to popular opinion. Property taxes are as high as any place in Jersey, at least in the areas I visited. I spent most of the day north and west of the city, and the entire place seems to be under development, which is why the taxes are so high. From this point of view, the place reminded me of New Jersey, where the greed of the developers eliminates the natural beauty and history of the State.

Again, I was close to the city, and also, I suppose a booming locale is better than a dying one. There were many beautiful areas to live, and to shop, and some cute downtowns. Like the rest of the world, there are quite a few Irish pubs that look promising, and Columbus has a terrific zoo and aquarium to offer. I was surprised to see Amish shops, and to hear that there were Amish communities not far away. There is also an ancient Native American cavern that I look forward to exploring, and some nice farmland that hasn't turned condo yet. There are two large lakes that are state parkland, and free for everyone to enjoy, and one huge momma of a shopping area that could be a small town in itself.

All in all, an exhausting day, and so of course take everything I say with a grain of salt. You can't judge a place on one day's visit... it isn't fair.

I was surprised to see how close it resembled jersey, although truth to tell New Jersey has a lot of trees and wooded areas, and justly wears it's title of Garden State. From Ohio, I expected a lot of farmland and a slower paced life and hopefully a better cost of living. The people did seem very friendly, and the cost of living will probably be founf to be more reasonable if I get away from the tourist areas.

More later, after I get some sleep. If you're reading this without photos, please come back in a day to see those. (update: photos added.)

Cheers, JOHN :0)


1) Downtown Dublin, a cute little town that apparently had one heck of a St. Patrick's day parade.
2) One of two beautiful and large lakes that residents can enjoy.
3) The Public Library in upscale New Albany.
4) A farm with a horse.

Notice that the land is fairly flat out there, a least where I've seen. New Jersey is very hilly, and has it's share of mountains, and lots of wooded areas. Again, though, I never strayed far from the city, so I'll have to report again later when I've seen more.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Columbus, Ohio, Day 1

So I'm in Columbus, Ohio, doing some research for a future project, amongst other things. Only a brief visit, but I will share what I can.

Tonight I am in a swanky part of town called Easton Town Center, a collection of shops and restaurants not far from the airport. The taxi ride cost $20 bucks for a 3 mile trip, and at least as far as Easton Town Center goes, prices are not any cheaper here than in New Jersey. From the crowd, though, and the number of hotels here, I am guessing this is a touristy area.

Many of the restaurants are familiar to me, which just goes to show how the world is getting smaller in some ways. The above photo is of a miniature railway displayed outdoors here, and the horse statue can be found outside of a Chinese bistro.

So far, Columbus reminds me of Philadelphia, or Boston, perhaps, in the sense that things are spread out as opposed to crowded into a massive downtown area. I did little research before coming here, though, and I'm more familiar with other areas of Ohio, so this will be a learning experience. Sometimes it's good to get away to somewhere you haven't been before and just experience.

Tomorrow I will see the rest of Columbus. I've already done some research on the area in a local bookstore, but have a lot to learn yet.

Hopefully this last picture is NOT an indication of things to come. :0)

I'll try to post tomorrow!
Cheers, JOHN :0)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Where I've Been

FaceBook has an endless number of applications to 'enhance' the user experience. Some are silly, some are plain dumb, and some are quite useful, and some are fun. One of the applications I like is called Where I've Been, and it acts as a virtual map with virtual pins that mark 'where I've been'.

To be honest, the app is not always perfect, and for me at least, it isn't always easy to get into, but at least it saves your progress automatically, and it does seem to improving over time. One of the excitements of travel, of course, is seeing where you've been, and just as important, where you haven't been. An application like this is fairly easy to use, although it is limited to facebook. There are similar apps with facebook, if you want to experiment, but I like this one best.

I have yet to research a similar program for desktop use, that you can share with everyone. I'm sure one is out there, and I will let you know. Meanwhile, if you can recommend something, let ME know.

It would be great to have a world map on your wall, and place pins in it to mark your places of visitation, but honestly, that would take a big chunk of wall space, and what if the pins fell out? Of course, if I leave facebook, or the power goes out, I can't access Where I've Been, but since it is a program, there are some neat aspects like giving you a percentage of the planet that you have visited.

For me, WIB says I've visited 10% of the planet. Now, I don't know if this is 10% of land mass, or the whole thing. If the whole planet, then 10% isn't bad, considering how much is water. My problem with the app is that it has been saying 10% for some time now. In fact, I've gone to considerable effort to add places, just to try to get it to 11%, but no... it hasn't changed. What irks me is that I've seen similar maps from other people, and one guy has 15%, but has visited less of the world thatn I have!

I think the problem is that it gives you credit for an entire country, so the guy who hops over the border into Mexico for a quick margarita gets credit for the whole country. That's quite an edge, so I hope the application works these kinks out.

The above photo is an actual screenshot of my travels. It shows I have quite a few places to visit yet! When in the program, you can actually zoom in and out like on google maps, and see individual towns and other places you can truly add most places you've been. One thing lacking though is places of interest, like Mount Rushmore or the Taj Majal. Hopefully they will add that to the cities feature some time.

Meanwhile, it is a fun tool for a traveller, but only if you are on facebook. Maybe they'll expand beyond social networks one day?

So how do YOU keep track of Where You've Been?

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Snow on the Beach

Went to the beach yesterday. The nice thing about living in New Jersey is, when you can forget for a moment the high cost of living, the high taxes, the over-development, the crowds, and especially the noise, well, at least you're close to the beach. Not that all beaches are the same, but at least in winter time there are fewer people and hopefully less garbage to tread on.

Do I sound annoyed? Yes, because it is unbelievable that people can go to the beach and leave their garbage behind them. Broken bottles, rusty cans, miscellaneous items of clothing.... you name it.

However, I want to encourage travel, so let's speak of the beauty. I always enjoy a trip to the shore, and the ocean will always manage to impress the heck out of me. I love the beach in winter time, but yesterday was the first time I actually saw snow at the beach. Not a lot, but enough to be admired.

I wanted to visit the twin light houses at Navesink, but unfortunately they closed early. I did get a few long distance shots, though. Supposedly there was a whale stranded at nearby Sandy Hook, but that was a week or so ago, so I'm hoping that situation was resolved, and the whale is on his merry way.

And no, didn't see any sharks this time. :0)

Cheers, JOHN :0)