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15 Reasons to visit the Georgia Aquarium

Posted on Sep 21, 2016 | 0 comments

15 reasons to visit the Georgia Aquarium

1. It is  the largest aquarium in the western hemisphere and the second largest in the world. So there is a LOT to see!

2. The Dolphin Celebration show. It is incredible. The dolphins are their trainers are great to watch as they interact and do many amazing routines.

3. Watching the people get wet at the Dolphin Celebration Show – the first few rows get soaked!

4. Seeing the enjoyment of the kids watching the Dolphin Celebration Show – the kids really get into it and the joy on their faces is great to see.

5. Crawling through the tunnel under the penguin exhibit and then standing up and in the middle of them.

Penguins at Georgia Aquarium

By Mark Doliner , CC BY 2.0

6. Being able to touch the rays (plenty of staff around to make sure the rays don’t get harmed)


By Diliff (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

7. Sea lion show – they are so adorable!

8. The moving belt that allows you to just stand and enjoy the view as it moves you through an enormous tank where you can look up and see sharks and many other species of fish.


By DiliffOwn work, CC BY 2.5,

9. The sea otters. You can stand and watch them for hours as they swim and play.

10. The knowledgeable and friendly staff who are on hand to answer any questions you may have

11. The discounts you can get on the tickets if you buy online and the special discounts they offer: Just for buying online you get 10% discount. If you can arrive before 11am you can get 20% discount and if you arrive after 4pm (as we did), then you get over 30% discount. There are also extra discounts for military, moms with kids, Georgia residents and more – so take a look!

12. It’s in walking distance from public transport. We used the MARTA and it was just a few blocks walk from there.

13. The Aquanaut Adventure Interactive Discovery Zone – young and adult can spend hours learning as they “play” with the displays.

14.  The gift shop – the stuffed animals are adorable and very well priced

Georgia Aquarium Gift Shop

Photo by Amy van der Merwe. All rights reserved.

15.Pokémon GO players are welcome! There are 4 Pokéstops in the Aquarium and 2 outside. The wifi is free and you can find charging stations in the Southwest Air lounge. They even have special hashtags you can use while you play.

So, what are you waiting for? Start planning a trip to Atlanta and the Georgia Aquarium now!

How to Stay Productive While Traveling

Posted on Aug 24, 2016 | 0 comments


I got the travel bug several years ago, and it hasn’t left me since. I just returned from a trip to Austin, TX, and I’m a little bit depressed because I don’t have another trip planned at the moment. My love for travel meets my love for productivity when I’m taking a trip. It’s like a special blend of adventure and productivity all at once.

That being said, it’s not easy to be productive while you’re traveling. Your routine is a little off. You’re probably spending time with people. You might be in a different time zone. You might have less energy than usual, or are more easily distracted.

With some intentionality you can enjoy your trip while also getting work done. Here are a few tips for staying productive while you are traveling. I have experience in this myself and also asked my friend and world traveler/productivity superstar, Brooke Peterson, for some tips. Here’s what we came up with.

1. Create your to-do list before you leave.

Before I leave on a trip, I always make a to-do list. People might laugh at the idea of a “vacation to do list”, but it’s key to determine what you want to accomplish before you even get on the plane. It will probably take some time so figure out just how much to add to the list. Don’t be afraid to experiment a little – it’s okay if it’s not perfect. Just make some sort of general plan for what you’d like to accomplish.

Be realistic. Don’t plan out 5 hours of work every day if you know you’re only going to be able to hop on your computer for about an hour each day. Don’t plan any Google hangout meeting if you know you won’t have great wifi.

Include some tasks you know you’ll enjoy. Even if it’s work, I like for vacation to be “fun” work. I always try to add some sort of refreshing/inspirational/personal development piece of “work” to my to-do list. Travel inspires me to be the best version of me that I can be, and it motivates me to work hard and grow. Tasks like reading, listening to podcasts, or brainstorming ideas for projects is productive and inspiring.

2. Block off time to work.

Brooke and I have both found this to be really helpful. It’s not just enough to have a plan of what you want to do when you travel. You need to have a plan for when you’ll actually do it. If you want to work for an hour a day, will you need to wake up before everyone? Visit a coffee shop in the afternoons? You need to plan your time so that you know when you’ll accomplish this, and so anyone you are traveling with knows what to expect. This is also really helpful for anyone that you work with as they’ll know when they can expect to hear from you or connect with you while you’re out of the office.

3. Batch your tasks.

This is a common approach to everyday productivity, but it’s especially helpful when you’re traveling. Rather than spending a few minutes checking email, then a few minutes writing, then a few minutes coding or whatever you’re working on, try this approach: group your tasks together and attack one group at a time. If you can’t think of good categories for your work, you can create batches like “less than five minutes” or “high focus” or “low focus”.

When you have everything on your to-do list batched into those categories, focus each work session around those tasks. Don’t try to jump around, because it will end up taking you longer and you’ll feel less accomplished. Use the pomodoro technique to stay focused on certain tasks for a set amount of time.

4. ABC – Always Bring Chargers.

I made this one up, but chargers are essential. I usually set multiple reminders on my phone and place several sticky notes EVERYWHERE when I need to pack a charger. Make sure you have one for all of your devices, and it doesn’t even hurt to pack extra chargers. Make sure you’ve got car chargers if you’ll be traveling in the car.

If possible, try to pack extra batteries as well. Buy extra batteries or on-the-go chargers. These are great to have because if you’re anything like me, you’ll lose focus if you’re worried about your phone or computer running out of juice.

5. Stick to your morning routine, no matter what.

I have a great morning routine that I’ve come to love. But when I travel, it’s often hard to keep it going. Sometimes I’m in a different time zone, or sleeping in, or I can’t access a gym, or I just don’t want to sit in front of all my friends and meditate.

Even though I don’t keep my specific morning routine when I travel, I make time for a mini version, and you should too. By keeping this sense of routine even when you are out of your usual habitat, you’ll maintain that same momentum you have when you’re at home working. Your day will feel more on track, and you won’t have to worry about feeling behind. In fact, you might find that waking up a little earlier is the best way to get everything done while you travel. If you have a great morning routine, it will help waking up earlier much easier.

6. Make your car an office.

If you’re traveling in the car, let someone else drive and turn your car into your own personal office. Buy a power inverter so that you can keep your computer going all day. Use your phone to create an internet hotspot in your car. Some cars even have wi-fi in them these days.

If you get carsick while you travel, there are still many ways you can be productive. You can listen to podcasts or audio books. If you’re traveling with a colleague or a friend, you can talk out your thoughts about projects you are working on and turn them into action points.

7. Be productive, even in your down time.

Even if your trips are usually jam packed with adventure, you’d be surprised how many five and ten minutes gaps you have. Maybe there’s time when you’re waiting on your spouse to finish getting ready. Or maybe you arrive to dinner a few minutes early. Maybe you’re waiting in line. Make the most of those few minutes.

If you want to be productive while you’re relaxing, you can be productive without having to actually “work”. Listen to podcasts, read a book, write down some ideas you have, think about your progress toward your goals, reflect on your life, plan your next adventure… I find there are lots of “fun” productive things that I can do that are not necessarily work, but still help me grow and take my life to the next level.

How do you stay productive while you travel?

So, those are my ideas on you can keep momentum and stay productive while you’re traveling. If you have any other ideas or thoughts, share them below!

Photo Opportunities in Smokies # 3

Posted on Aug 13, 2016 |

Smoky Mountains

This is the last post in the Tremont series. At the end of the Tremont road that goes past the Great Smoky Mountains Institute there is a trail that leads up to Lynn Camp. It is an old logging road and is an easy walk. From the parking lot, you cross a bridge and come to a fork. Take the trail to the left marked by a sign “Middle Prong Trail”. About 3/4 mile up this trail you will come across the “Lynn Camp Prong Falls” as pictured here.

Lynn Camp Prong Falls

There are many angles you can shoot these fall from. They are really interesting.

Lynn Camp Prong Falls

Photo Opportunities in the Smokies #2

Posted on Aug 4, 2016 |


Last week I posted the first of a series of blogposts (I hope) on the various parts of the Smokies. This week I continued exploring the same stretch of the Little River in the Tremont area. The road to this stretch is found about of a quarter of a mile along the road to Cades Cove. As soon as you turn off along the Tremont Road, reset your odometer. About 4.5 along this road you will come to this scene (called Big Bend by some people}.  It is about 300 to 400 yards after you cross a one lane bridge and the Little River moves from your left hand side to being on your right. The spot that was showcased in last week’s post was straight after the bridge and a few hundred yards downstream from here.

Big Bend

Note, most of the photographs in this post are not good examples of what is available along this stretch. The conditions this morning were not conducive to photography in this area. The river level was low and the sun too strong, even at 7 am in the morning.

Just a few yards downstream from this spot (back from which you came) is a section known as the 3 channels. It looks like this:

3 Channels

Please don’t judge these photos! They really are just quick snapshots to give you an idea what to look for. It’s up to you to go and take good photos of these areas in better conditions.

Also let me warn you to be very careful.  The bank along here is very steep and can be dangerous. The rocks are extremely slippery and you really need excellent shoes.  This morning I was wearing a well known brand of hiking boots and I fell several times, hurting myself badly on one occasion. Those boots will never make it out to the Smoky’s again! If you want to get down the bank at this location, you may even consider using a rope to pull yourself up again, but don’t let that put you off. There are great shots available from the side of the road. Also be careful where you park your car because it will end up in your picture if you are not careful.

While there are many photo spots along this section of the river, so many that you could be kept busy for a long time, the following is another notable spot at about 4.8 miles. It is called “the pool” by some people but the photo included here is of the rapids/falls immediately upstream. Again this area’s suitability as a subject varies with the season, the time of day and the amount of water flowing down the river.

The Pool

The next point along this road is at the 4.9 mile mark (which exists only on your odometer!). It is called the Horseshoe Falls. There is no place to park right next to the Falls, but there is a cut out about 100 yards or less further along. In fact, you are so close to the end of the road, that you could go the full 5.1 miles and park at the parking area which marks the beginning of the trail to the Lynn Camp Prong Falls. The Horseshoe Falls look a little like the following image, except that there is normally water flowing over the rock on the left forming a horseshoe. I will come back and add to this post at a later date when the water levels do justice to the falls!

Horseshoe Falls

Pike’s Place Seattle

Posted on Jul 31, 2016 |

Pike's Place Seattle

The following is a photo essay of Pike’s Place in Seattle. This is one of the top tourist destinations in Seattle, for good reason. It is a cornucopia of sights, sounds and smells.

At the heart of this market are the fishmongers. The most famous are the ones that throw the fish. It’s a spectacle without a purpose other than to delight the crowd, which they do in abundance. This man just caught a fish thrown from 50 feet away. His colleague thought it was a close call, but maybe that’s part of the showmanship.

Fish Catcher

At the end of the day, the fish are really the stars of the show! But they have their eyes on you!

fish eyes

But the market is more than just fish. There is an abundance of natural produce, sold by colorful characters.

Fresh Produce at Pike's Place

Fresh Produce


And then there are the incredibly colorful and beautiful flower sellers. You can see why its almost an complete overload of the senses.

Flower Seller!


Flower Seller 2

Another major attraction of this place is the “first” Starbucks store. There was a long line of people, mainly Asians, who were dying to get in and sample the store. This young man singing for a few dollars added more interest to the location (actually may have been the star of the show!).

Guitar Man

Traveling the Historic Columbian River Scenic Highway

Posted on Jul 29, 2016 |

Traveling the Historic Columbian River Highway

Photograph credits: Piers van der Merwe

If you are looking for a scenic day trip from Portland, I highly recommend taking the old US 30 as it meanders along the river.

Start at Troutsdale and be sure to get on the historic US 30 – the Columbian River Highway – and not the new motorway which bypasses most of the places you will want to see. We used the TravelOregon website to plan our route.

Our first stop was the Portland Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint where you can stand and get a fantastic view of the Columbia River Gorge.

Portland Women's Forum State Scenic Viewpoint

Not much further along is Vista House at Crown Point. We just drove slowly through the parking lot but you could, of course, get out and enjoy the view and look at the historic house.

We stopped next at the Multnomah Falls. The large parking lot was full so we were lucky to find a spot. And there were lots and lots of tourists who also wanted to see the tallest waterfall in Oregon. It’s just a few minutes walk to the base of the waterfall and a few more minutes gets you a better view from a bit higher up. We didn’t continue all the way to the top, but you can. It is very beautiful – but it would have been nicer to have had fewer tourists to share it with :) There are restrooms, a restaurant and a gift shop on-site should you need any of them.

Multnomah Falls

The drive takes you right past the Horsetail Falls. You get a great view from the road so no need to get out of the car if you don’t want to.

We nearly drove straight past the sign to the Bonneville Dam and Locks – but on a whim decided to take a look. And it was SO worth it. I think it is a place kids will love! It takes a while to get to there once you start following the signs,  so don’t give up and turn round. Just keep on driving. You will pass  the power plant and the locks, then go through security and finally arrive at the parking at the visitor center. In the visitor center there are displays explaining the hydroelectric power plant and how the FDR administration had it built as part of the New Deal.

Eels at the viewing window

Then take the elevators to the viewing window and watch the fish swimming by. The eels like to attach themselves to the window! Go outside next and see the fish ladder. Don’t know what a fish ladder is? Neither did we – till we went there!

And, of course, you get to enjoy views of the dam! And all of this is FREE!!

After spending a lot more time there than we expected to, we drove to the town of Hood River for lunch. We stopped at the Full Sail Brewery. They have a small but interesting menu and the food was great! After lunch, we took a short walk around the town.

Instead of continuing along the river, we took the US 35 and then the US 26 back to Portland. We took this route for the views of Mount Hood along the drive, and because we wanted to hike up to Mirror Lake. The trail starts right from the 26 and is definitely more than gentle walk! I am not fit so going up was, let’s say, challenging! But the others with me didn’t have the same trouble. Eventually, we got to the top – and the fog had just rolled in. No Mount Hood was visible at all (there are supposedly great views from the lake). And then it started to rain. Fortunately, the hike is largely under trees, so they kept us from being drenched, and it was a whole lot faster going down than coming up!

Mirror Lake

It was a disappointing end to our day – but these things happen. I hope if you visit the weather is better and you are rewarded for the hike by amazing views!