Autumn in New York, Part IV

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The first weekend in October is a long weekend, Columbus Day weekend. It’s a perfect time to celebrate with craft beers, brats, and live music! Oktoberfests and Harvest Festivals are in the air!

We drove up to Gore Mountain for their Harvest Festival on Sunday afternoon. Grey autumn skies accompanied us on our journey but the afternoon brightened up and the sun shook away the chill of the impending winter.

The fall colors throughout the Adirodacks were best viewed from the skies. My mother and I ascended in a tiny little helicopter above the ski runs of Gore Mountain.

Although I’ve driven back and forth to Potsdam, where several of my friends went to college, many times over the years, I don’t believe I ever stopped in the town of North Creek, just off the main road. The railway still provides service between North Creek and Saratoga, Friday through Monday. Once upon a time, taking the trains to upstate NY and Vermont were a sign of affluence! The rustic ski towns still portray the antiquity of the era.

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PoleCon 2012

The first major stop on World Tour 2012 is the International Pole Convention in Los Angeles, California!

While I don’t have any photos of my own to post, I invite you to see some of the performances on YouTube (though online streaming never does a true performance justice) to see some incredible talent! I would like to congratulate both Ravan and Charlee, both of whom I trained with in Salt Lake City, for winning first place in the mens and womens divisions of the Masters Cup held at Circus Disco in Hollywood, California on Thursday June 21st.

During winter 2011-2012 I was privileged to perform at Studio Soiree’s winter recital and train for four months at Onyx (the studio formerly known as Pearl). The convention was a fantastic opportunity to see my friends and instructors from Utah, as well as meet new people from all around the world.

My main focus at the convention is to meet people at different studios and see what they are up to. The creativity of the performances far exceeded my expectations, especially the costumes, props and choreography of the group performances. During Roz’s performance I decided I definitely need to make a trip to her studio in Brooklyn, New York!

Many of the convention attendees came all the way from Australia, or have Australian roots. I was greatly amused by the costumes and showmanship of the Japanese performers and was happy to see a good showing from one of my favorite countries. A small percentage represented South America, and I believe someone in the audience said they were from South Africa. There were probably a decent number of Canadians, but it was difficult to tell since they tend to blend in with Americans until they finish their sentences, or ask what all the fuss is aboot. ❤

I managed to collect a few business cards from pole studios in Boston, Connecticut, Boise, Tokyo, Calgary, and a few other scattered locations. I want to put them on a huge map and connect the dots during my travels!

Although I wasn’t in the market to make any big purchases, I perused the clothing selection. I was impressed by the craftsmanship of Pole Skivvies and fell in love with Zoraya Judd’s style of clothing and accessories (think Renn fair meets pole dancing). I did purchase 2oz of Dry Hands, and copies of two magazines, Pole Dance International, and Vertical Art and Fitness, in the hopes of one day submitting my writing to the pole community. Being paid to report on competitions or pole communities in other countries doesn’t sound like a bad career objective at all!

Pole Con 2012 was a huge success and a great kick off to my travels!

But wait! There’s more!

There’s more of my life I need to share with you. I am still not settled back into Park City – I’m couchsurfing in my own home town (not unlike last year – thank you, Lacey). Therefore, I can still consider this part of my trip in my travel blog. Besides, my adventures never end.

I told Emily just now that ‘this is was an Anna day.’ I slept well, woke up to a cup of chai tea, did my stretches, and then both of us went to the middle school to swim laps. It felt amazing. I didn’t feel like my muscles were getting worn out, but I was certainly breathing harder, a sensation I didn’t feel at all in San Diego or New Zealand. I miss exercising at high elevations, and I’m happy to be back to swimming! I am excited about the Masters Swim coaching on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings from 6:30am-7:30am and look forward to getting my first swim lesson in 20 years!

After our swim session the weather cleared up. The light snow ceased to fall and the sun shone transparently through the thin cloud layer. I prepared for the Studio Soiree Christmas Recital at Trails by choosing my music and outfit, then headed to Salt Lake City during twilight.

The recital went extremely well – I am so excited to see the ladies from the studio and meet some instructors from Pearl, another pole studio in Salt Lake City. To be honest, I planned my return to Utah around the December recital since I enjoyed the Rookie Night in August so much. I am going to continue my training, but will be careful not to injure myself again. I will focus on core strengthening and conditioning, and my goal is to prepare some choreographed pieces.

Oh, and my day finished up with one of my absolutely deeeeeelicious spinach salads!

28 November: Flying in Style

There is never a good time to leave New Zealand. It just becomes an inevitability. The ski season is lively and fun, the rugby in the Spring time brought the world together, and the summer provides warmth and daylight for tramping, camping and exploring the world-famous landscape of the islands. I was just getting used to extended daylight hours, the conveniences of the city, and most importantly, the company of good friends in Auckland.

I couldn’t have asked for a better last day, a relaxing Sunday afternoon watching hockey with Brian and laying in the sunshine reading my book and watching my clothes dry. Even knowing that I had a posh comfy seat and complimentary champagne could not entice me to leave.

When the time did come to head to the airport Monday afternoon I was surprised by the extra room I had in my suitcase. Warm weather travel certainly beats hauling around ski gear! In the Duty Free shop I purchased a 1L bottle of 42 Below Feijoa vodka to add to my New Zealand vodka collection back home and continued to the Koru Club Lounge upstairs.

Air New Zealand’s business class lounge has a complimentary buffet as well as wine, beer, spirits and non alcoholic beverages for self-serve. The friendly staff was also available to make espresso drinks and provide assistance. They clearly knew I was coming because they had hockey on TV and a spinach, corn and tomato salad on their dinner buffet.

I was struggling to stay clear of eating too much dessert, but the mini pavlovas were my weakness! I followed up with a mochaccino before heading to my gate.

I got settled into my seat in what I call anti-social class and the flight attendant showed me how the seat rest and table worked. The man in the seat across from me offered to take a photo so I suppose it’s not entirely anti social though you don’t have someone right next to you.

I read up on some Kiwi news, drank some champagne and sparkling wine (to tell the truth I enjoyed the NZ sparkling wine more than the champagne) and committed myself quite enthusiastically to watching four and a half hours of parts one and two of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. My stipulation for watching the films was that I intended to watch them both sequentially, and this was the perfect opportunity!

I enjoyed my second round of dinner, though I was a bit confused by the diabetic meal I had requested. The entree was a smoked salmon, and in my meal they served prawns; I’m not certain how much more sugar salmon contains, but the prawns were certainly tasty. I selected the lamb as my main dish, and was disappointed when the flight attendant brought my special meal out. As tempting as the spinach looked, I asked if the meat was chicken or pork, and as I don’t eat white meat, requested the lamb dish instead. I think she may have been a bit irritated by that, but it was my last chance to have a nicely prepared medium rare lamb steak and I wasn’t about to give that up!

Quite overfull from the variety of food and drink in my stomach I experimented with laying my bed down, and at first found it a bit confusing the way the seat folds forward, like I was sitting in the back of an SUV. They provide quite nice bedding, and the seat does lie fully flat, parallel to the floor, something I do prefer to the beds on the Qantas flights which sit at a bit of an angle.

I enjoyed the movies, taking an intermission to change my clothes and brush my teeth, and fell asleep over the Pacific Islands.

Bronze Final @ Eden Park

On Friday 21st October I ceremoniously made my way with Donna and Ken to my first live rugby match at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. Although Australia and Wales were competing for 3rd place in the World Cup and not for advancement in the tournament it was still an exciting match, and exciting for me to see a live match against two top teams!

Bus to Eden Park

I would have liked to walk to Eden Park from Quay St along the Fan Trail but given my medical condition it wouldn’t have been advisable!I met up with Donna and Ken and we took one of the free buses up to the stadium. Bus after bus heading up to the stadium was filled with excited fans. ________ ___________ ______________________ ____________________ ________________

The crowd enjoying the night outside of Eden Park Stadium!

________ _________ ___________ _________ ___________
Sports fans made their way towards the stadium, stopping to listen to live music and performances along the way. Most people were dressed up with face paint, team jerseys and national flags.

Ken, Donna, Anna

Making my way up the make-shift staircase to my D section seats!

_____________ _______________ ______________ ____________ My friends and I sat on almost complete opposite sides of the stadium and I made my way around the perimeter to the N entrance, up the steps and to my nosebleed seats at the top of the stadium!

I'm at a Rugby World Cup 2011 game!!!

The great thing about the D section seats is they are at the far end of the field and have a spectacular view with no obstructions. My ticket cost me $97 plus a booking fee, but well worth it to be part of the action!

The players take the field!

_____________ ___________________________ In the Bronze Final the two teams that lose the semi final games compete for third place in the World Cup. Most rugby fans, especially kiwis, felt that the All Blacks’ win over Australia had decided the fate of the tournament, but it’s not over yet!

National Anthems of Australia and Wales

_____________ _______________ ___________________________ The match commenced after the singing of the National Anthems of Australia and Wales. Since I have many Australian friends and only two Welsh friends I had intended to cheer for Australia but when I arrived at the stadium I ended up going for Wales!

Where the magic happens: Eden Park in Auckland!

_____________ _______________ _____________ _______________ ___________________________ The fans were cheering and animated, but the it felt so silent without the constant commentary on the television! Without breaks in play the stadium is unable to play music to amp up the crowd unless a player gets injured and they need to stop the clock. If it’s a minor injury play will continue while medics treat the player.

An exciting Game!

_____________ _______________ ___________________________ Despite the lack of cheerleaders, half time shows, or any frills that American sports normally have, the fans did a pretty good wave, which made it around Eden Park at least twice! Most people around my seat were cheering for Wales. Kiwis tend to be supporters of the underdog, or any team going up against Australia!

The Wallabies Accept their Bronze Medals

_____________ _______________ _______________ ___________________________ The action was a bit quiet during the second half but became more thrilling at the final minutes when Wales scored a try at the last moment. Regardless, Australia had won the game!

Returning to Britomart Train Station

We took the train back to Britomart Station. Both tracks were used for traffic going to the CBD, and still there were enormous lines!

Weekend of the Semi Finals

Last night in Auckland the French team beat Wales 9-8 and tonight the All Blacks face Australia, a long-time rival. Both kiwis and aussies are fired up for the match, which starts at 9pm tonight. Right now I am enjoying a green tea in the lobby of the hotel where the All Blacks are having dinner and are about to head to Eden Park.

The sun is shining and the city is a surge of excitement. Along Queen St and the Wharf it seems to be a competition of who can make the most noise today! The energy this weekend has been building since Friday. Yesterday just after noon I joined the team from Dance Pro Studios for their flash mob by the viaduct.

On Friday Brian and I took a trip to Waiheke Island for some wine tasting and some of the Wallabies were on our morning ferry. As we exited the dock a group of them asked me to take some photos with their friends. If I had been a bit faster on the ball I should have asked them if they needed a photographer for the day! Life is never boring here!

Catching Up in Queenstown

I spent a few days in Queenstown catching up with friends and doing what I love best – dancing!

Reavers Lodge, Hamilton Rd, Queenstown

A huge thank-you to Paula and Graham who welcomed me back to Queenstown. I enjoyed the company of their lovely family and a yummy pumpkin lasagna! They also referred me to the Reavers Lodge, where I stayed for three nights.

A lovely Dorm Room with Ensuite

Reavers Lodge is a newly renovated hostel on the North end of Queenstown just up Hamilton Rd. Todd, the owner, set me up with a beautiful 4-bed dorm with ensuite and fridge.

The hostel has a hot tub in the courtyard, a clean kitchen and common area, and views of the town. It’s also a quick 10 minute walk (or 5 minute jog if I’m running late!) to the Pole Studio, Fresh Choice (the supermarket open til midnight) and Mediterranean Market, a gourmet supermarket. The lodge is also only 10 minutes from Shotover St in the other direction.

View of Queenstown Hill

Back of The Remarkables Ski Field in the Distance

I was delighted to get in a refreshing lap swim on Wednesday morning, and dance classes on Wednesday night, Thursday morning, and Friday night. Queenstown is a place where I can’t walk around for very long without seeing a friend! I serendipitously found Gretchen and Nate at Dux de Lux on Wednesday night, and Sam and Ruth at the ANZ bank of all places!

Wish I Were Up in the Sky...

I met up with Sandy and her new Queenstown friends for drinks and dancing all night at Tardis and Debajo and enjoyed an afternoon of sun bathing by the lake! Queenstown welcomed me back with 20C afternoons and bright sunny skies!

I looked into mountain bike trails, and am keen to buy a used bike when I return at the end of October!

Ann, Claudia and Sarah (and Al of course) were the only co-workers left up at Good Group when I went to the office to visit! When I walked past the bars I didn’t even recognize anyone! Yikes! Time to make new friends when I spend the month of November!

Well-deserved Ferg Burger after Dancing at Debajo until 4am!

Two new additions to town are Gasoline Alley, a bar by the wharf which features pole dance performances by students from the studio on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights, and the Ferg Bakery, for your late night pie fix! The venison and portabello is quite tasty – yum yum yum!

Tofu burger with Avocado, Chipotle Chili sauce and Lemon Yogurt - Yum!

I decided to try the Holier Than Thou (Tofu) burger with the toppings from the Bun Laden (Falafel) Fergburger, after a night of dancing to drum and bass and house music! I haven’t had the chance to dance to music like this since… last time I was in Queenstown. I love it here!

I also managed to catch the Australia vs USA game at the Cowboy Bar, a bar which had opened just weeks before I left Queenstown last year. Can’t beat $3 draft beer, a saddle for a bar stool, and a bunch of rowdy Americans and Aussies!

I’m excited to return for the month of November! See you then, Queenstown!

Bet you didn’t know that I’m a Pole Dancer

Great abs, self-confidence, new friends, and toned arms are only a few of the reasons why I began pole dancing in Queenstown last year. I discovered the Queenstown Pole Studio last August when a group of my friends who work at Coronet Peak got together to have a ladies’ night at the studio.

Anna Ashton does a phenomenal job of making beginners feel welcome at her studio and offers a progressive six-week beginner course every few months. She varies her classes so everyone can work on something at their own level, and gives positive feedback and treats every one of her students like the star that they are! Anna teaches yoga, dance choreography, more advanced dance and aerial classes, and provides open practice time on Saturday mornings.

Pole dance studios foster a great sense of community amongst their students, and the best part of training is that every time you come to class you find you can do something you couldn’t the day or week before. It’s addictive!

Studio Soiree, in the Sugarhouse suburb of Salt Lake City, is where I train back in Utah. The studio is larger than the one in Queenstown in that it has two pole rooms, and a wider range of courses and instructors. On Monday nights I love to shake it in Rebecca’s Belly Dance class, and get new bruises holding crazy aerial poses in Alexa’s Tuesday night Intermediate Fundamentals class.

When I first introduced myself at Studio Soiree they asked me how my training in New Zealand was different from the American style. The names for the spins and holds vary between countries and studios, as well as the thickness of the poles, and the studios’ focus in their classes. Anna’s studio in Queenstown features poles that switch between stationary and spinning with the simple turn of an allen key, and her choreography is about half and half for each technique. Studio Soiree offers a variety of classes centered on cardio fitness and conditioning, and invites men to join the Pole Core classes. The pole is used for exercises that strengthen the core muscles, like a vertical pilates class!

Women of varies sizes, shapes, backgrounds and points in their lives come to try out pole dancing, and most women love it! What’s almost as enjoyable as my own training is seeing the other girls who work so hard on their dance routines and moves, and welcoming new women into the studio. I see women who are nervous and confused transformed into dancers with self-confidence and grace in their movements.

Since joining the Dance Club in University at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute I have made dance an important part of my life. At RPI I would attend an hour and a half jazz class, an hour hip hop class, and then run back to the lab to complete my experiments for the night!

Teaching is one of the most rewarding professions in the world – both of my parents have been pressuring me to become a science teacher for years! – and I am considering completing a level 1 Instructor Certification course and sharing this fun and flirty form of fitness with the gorgeous women of the world!

RWC

Status

Australian and Irish flags and uniforms fill the streets as tourists and Rugby enthusiasts make their way around Auckland’s CBD. The game starts at 8:30pm in Eden Park. It will be a fun and lively night – exciting times in Auckland, especially after New Zealand’s 83-7 win over Japan last night!

Partying: the sure cure for jetlag

Went to the weekly Auckland couch surfing happy hour at Bungalow 8 near the harbor downtown with my host, Chris, and fellow surfers, Elly and Muriz. All couch surfers get a free tap beer, house wine or vodka drink before 9pm, and 2-for-1 appetizers! Continue reading