Sunday, August 17, 2014

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge for Carson, Maddi, and Shaun

This weekend, Madison, Carson, and myself took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge along with Millions of other Americans, all for a good cause.  Below are our videos:

Carson:
 
 Madison:
 Shaun:

To learn more about the Ice Bucket Challenge, including donations, visit: http://www.alsa.org/fight-als/ice-bucket-challenge.html 

Thank you for letting us share our Ice Bucket Pictures with you.  If you have any questions, please email Shaun Priest at shaun@closerq.com

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Whirlwind Tour of San Francisco Bay Area - June 2014

In late spring 2014, Christine, Madison, Carson, and myself boarded a delta flight for a four day express trip of San Francisco and the bay area.  Below are pictures and notes from our trip.

We arrived at 1pm local time on Saturday, May 31st.  


 When Christine and I travel to new cities, one of the first things that we like to do is take a bus tour of the area, to figure out what we want to do and not want to do.

See Carson on our double decker tour bus with Transamerica building in the behind him.

See Christine and Madison as the bus crosses over the Golden Gate Bridge.  San Fran was cold and three of us were way under-dressed for the bus tour, but we still cross the golden gate bride on the top of the bus.





Madison and Carson on the other side of the bay. 














After the tour bus dropped us off at Union Square, we walked to China Town.  








Sunday June 1st, we got in the rental car to head back across the Golden Gate bridge to visit Point Bonita Lighthouse, Sausalito, and Muir Woods.

Our friends the Smiths, vacationed in San Francisco last year, and they highly recommended Point Bonita Lighthouse.  The lighthouse is only open Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays between 12:30pm and 3:30pm.  We were lucky we went on a Sunday, however, we arrived at 10am, so we decided to get lunch in Sausalito, then comeback to visit the Lighthouse.

Sausilito is ranked as one of the top 20 destinations in the country, with scenic waterfront, panoramic views, small town charm and Mediterranean character.


 

 Madison, Carson, and I with the bay in the background.



One thing that was really nice about Sausalito is that you can walk on the docks.  At the end of one dock was a Tug boat, that you could walk right up to.  




Sausilito is also know for their floating houses.  It hard to see but the homes behind Shaun are floating. 



 After lunch in Sausalito we got back in the car headed back to Point Bonita Lighthouse.




Just to get to the light house you have to walk down a step path, then through a tunnel.

The lighthouse is unexplainably beautiful, after the tunnel you walk across a suspension bridge to the lighthouse. 

Christine walking across the bridge.


The four us after safely making it back across the bridge.  


Carson scaling up the rocks near the lighthouse.










After the lighthouse, we piled back in the car to drive to the famous Muir Woods to check out the 'Star Wars' Redwoods.

The star attraction of the Muir Woods is the Coast Redwood. The tallest tree in the Muir Woods is close to 300 feet, aka a football field. The oldest is over 1,200 years old, aka  a seedling six hundred years before Columbus discovered America.





Carson in the trees

Hopefully you can see the size and scale of the tress.

Monday June 2nd, Alcatraz, Pier 39, San Francisco Aquarium, Ghiradelli Square, and a surprise Mirror Maze:

Our first stop on Monday, was the boat ride to Alcatraz.  One note, we wanted to do the night tour of Alcatraz but even when I tried to get tickets a month in advance they were sold out, so get your tickets in advance.  Maddie and I on the boat to Alcatraz.  

 This is the last picture you will see of Carson on our Alcatraz trip.  Carson was so excited about visiting Alcatraz, that he want to explore on his own and separated from us as soon as we got off the boat. 


Christine as we approach Alcatraz.









Madison in one of the jail cells.



Christine visiting Shaun in Prison


Shaun in the prison yard with the Golden Gate Bridge behind him. 

After returning from Alcatraz to Pier 33, we made the short walk to Pier 39 for lunch.




It is hard to see but behind Maddi and are the world famous Pier 39 Sea Lions and Walruses.










My favorite, plus low cost, surprise of Pier 39 was the Mirror Maze.  For $5 a person you go through a hall of mirrors maze.  We found the infinity maze on our walk from lunch to the Aquarium.  See pictures of Maddie in the Maze


































Madison outside the entrance to the aquarium.

Shaun by the Octopus


Christine, Madison, and Carson in the underwater tunnel through the aquarium. 

Shaun inside one of the tanks.












Tuesday, June 3rd, our last full day in San Fran.  Carson and I did a tour of the San Francisco Giants AT&T Park, then the four of us walked around San Francisco.



Carson in front of the Juan Marichal statue infront of AT&T Park.


Carson and I in the visitors locker room.


In the visitor dugout. 




Shaun making a call to the bullpen. 




Carson and Shaun on the field. 










After walking around the city and dinner on Union Square, we flew home the next morning. 

Thank you for letting us share our pictures with you.  If you have any questions, please email Shaun Priest at shaun@closerq.com.  













Sunday, May 25, 2014

Grand Trip Through Amalfi Coast Region - April 2014

In Spring 2014, my wife, Christine, and I experienced the beauty and history of Naples, Pompeii, Mt. Vesuvius, and the Amalfi Coast Region.  I wanted to share the indescribable pictures of our trip.

Wednesday, April 9th, arrive in Naples via high speed train from Rome.  We stayed at the Hotel Excelsior, a Sheraton Hotel on the Bay of Naples.  I loved Naples.  Our Hotel was right on the water, in a very safe area, there was so much to see and do within a fifteen minute walk inlcuding: the port / ferry, lots of restaurants, high-end shopping, a historic castle, and a city park.




Christine out front of our hotel on the Bay of Naples.



Shaun in the shopping area near Piazza Vitoria.





Christine in the shopping area near Piazza Vitoria.





Shaun in front of the Giardini del Molosiglio.


Thursday, April 10th, Isle of Capri.  In the morning, we walked from the Hotel Excelsior to the Naples Harbor to take the 20 minutes ferry to the Isle of Capri.  Of all of the amazing adventures of our trip, we both agreed that Capri was our favorite.




Arriving in the breathtaking Port of Capri.
The only negative part of our trip, was the seas were too rough for us to visit the famous 'Blue Grotto'.  With the 'Blue Grotto' closed, we paid $110 Euro for Fernando (seen here with Christine) to take just the two of us on a boat ride around the island.  We were disappointed that the 'Blue Grotto' was closed, however, the boat ride around the island was AMAZING!  If you have time, I would recommend the boat ride.    




Fernando skillfully navigates his board right up to the cliffs of Capri.


Fernando took us right through the famous Faraglioni, the three large rock formations just off the coast of Capri.











  After Fernando brought us back to the harbor, we hiked up to the town of Capri.  This was not an easy hike, so if you are not in shape, I recommend taking the tram from the harbor.










A selfie from the town of Capri.  The town is so high that those are building's down below in the background and not rocks.








After hiking up to the of town center of Capri, we decided to take a taxi from Capri to Anaapri.







This picture was taken from the Taxi.  See how close the taxi is to the cliff.  It is very scary being that close to a cliff in a car.  Although hard to see, in the upper right, is a full size soccer field.



 
Christine in the taxi, on the cliff road from Capri to Anacapri, one more time we are on the side of a cliff!






Prior to coming to Italy, we watched PBS's Rick Steves' Europe on the Amalfi Coast.  Rick recommended taking the ski chair from Anacapri to the highest point on the Isle.  Rick Steves said "If you are really adventurous you can walk all the way down the harbor." See Christine getting on the single ski chair on the way up to the top.



Another selfie, this time from the ski char.  Again, to get a sense of high up i am, those white dots in the background is a town.
We took the Rick Steves' challenge, and we walked down from the top.  Which was literally two thousand feet down the side of a cliff.  Even going down was exhausting.  This picture is of Christine from the stairs on the side of the cliff.  I am not afraid of heights, but my stomach was queasy just walking down. In some especially steep areas, I put two hands on the railing.  I can't imagine how they built the stairs.






Christine finishing up the last set of stair on our hike down.



After our challenging hike down, we both needed a well-deserved drink.  So prior to taking our ferry back to Naples, we stopped at Caffe Augusto for a large beer and prosecco.


See Christine holding a Citron.  It looks like an over-sized lemon, and as you can see, the citron is bigger than Christine's head.

Our waiter was fantastic.  He was funny talking to everyone, in English, French, and Italian.  Finally, I had to ask him, "How many language to you speak?"  He responded with a wide grin and then counting on his fingers, "Five: Italian, English, French, Spanish, and my favorite, Body Language."

After an amazing day, we boarded the last ferry back to Naples.


Friday April 11th, Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius.   Through the hotel, we booked a  bus tour to the ruins of Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius.  The hotel has lots of excursions to choose from.


The city of Pompeii was an ancient Roman city near modern Naples.  Pompeii was buried under 20 feet of ash with the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.  The city remained buried for about 1,500 years until its initial rediscovery in 1599 and broader rediscovery 1748.  Pompeii has been a tourist attraction for over 250 years.

Christine in the Amphitheater. 






 Christine in the streets of Pompeii.


Christine with a shop in the background.





Shaun in a bedroom and yes, that is a rock bed behind me, and it doesn't look like the person could of been taller than 5 feet.



Shaun in the main square.

One of the frozen in time citizens of Pompeii.  Most of the artifacts were moved to Naples and are in the National Museum of Naples.  





After visiting Pompeii, we got back on the tour bus to take us to Mt. Vesuvius.



Mt. Vesuvius is the only active volcano on continental Europe.  See Christine at the top of the active Volcano.








Shaun above the clouds on the top of Vesuvius.  As you can see, you are so high that you are literally in the clouds. Lucky for us, the clouds we were not covering Vesuvius the day we visited. 











Looking down into the Volcano.









The two of us at the top.
  



After the long day, we took the ferry from Naples to Sorrento.  Taking the ferry was a great decision, and we 110% recommend the ferry from Naples to Sorrento vs. a taxi or the train.  See Christine arriving in Sorrento harbor at dusk.





Saturday, April 12 our day in Sorrento.  


I travel for work and try to stay in Hilton properties, so I used my points to stay the Hilton Sorrento.   With the free room, I paid an additional $80 Euros a night to upgrade to an executive and it was well worth it.  This picture is from our hotel room.




After a couple of busy days, we decided to take it easy and explore Sorrento.  We simply walked from our hotel to downtown.

When Christine and I travel, we love to take the cheesy local tour.  In Sorrento we took the tourist trap train, see me in front of the Dotto (Little) Train.    




Another selfie, this time from inside the Sorrento train.  


Sorrento is known for the lemons and citrons, which local factories turn into limoncello liquor.   After a five minute walk outside of the center of Sorrento, we ran into this beautiful lemon grove call Agruminato. As you walk through the grove, then there is a store in the back.  




Sorrento harbor with Mt. Vesuvius in the background.



From the harbor looking up at the city of Sorrento.





Sunday, April 13th, we took the ferry from Sorrento to spend the day in Positano




From the ferry leaving Sorrento. 




The selfies continue.
The ferry arriving in Positano.  Positano was a port of the Amalfi Republic in medieval times, and prospered during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. By the mid-nineteenth century, the town had fallen on hard times. More than half the population emigrated to America.  Positano was a relatively poor fishing village during the first half of the twentieth century. It began to attract large numbers of tourists in the 1950s, especially after John Steinbeck published his essay about Positano in Harper's Bazaar in May, 1953: "Positano bites deep", Steinbeck wrote, "It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone."






Christine arriving in the Positano Harbor.








Shaun from the Positano beach.






The town on the hill in the background.




We hiked up to the top of the town, passing a church on the way.



A shop and fruit stand.



Looking down on the Duomo Positano. 



We made it to the top os Positano.  This time we got another tourist to take the picture vs. another selfie



The town is so beautiful, Christine between the boats on the shore.  




A big anchor in the Positano harbor. 






Monday, April 14th, a private taxi ride from along the Amalfi Coast from Sorrento to Positano to the Town of Amalfi to Ravello.



When we told our friends Marci and Steve Sills, that we were going to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, they strongly recommended that we hire a taxi for a private tour along the coast.  We got lucky finding Antonio, here with Christine.  Antonio spent a couple of years in the states, and spoke excellent English.  


We recommend Antonio and he can be reached at antonio.palomba@hotmail.it or 0039-333-475-9101





With Antonio as our tour guide, no more selifies. 




Positano in the background.




The road is on the side of the cliff and in certain areas you drive through tunnels in the cliff.






Amazing!






Simply Amazing!





Breathtaking






Our taxi took us along the coast up to the twon of Ravello.   Ravello sits on the top of cliff.  Shaun admiring local artwork.



Looking down from the town of Ravello.



As you can see, we had perfect weather.





Leaving Ravello.  


After visiting the town of Ravello, Antonio drove us to the town of Amalfi,   Where Ravello sits on the top of cliff, Amalfi sits right on the ocean.  





A wedding behind Christine on the church steps.





Inside the Amalfi Cathedral.  



Christine inside the Cathedral built in 1208.







The narrow streets of Amalfi


From Amalfi beach





Amalfi Harbor

After Amalfi, Antonio took us back to the Sorrento train station, so we could take the train to Naples, and then the high speed train from Naples to Rome, and then another train to the Rome airport.

Thank you for letting us share our pictures with you.  If you have any questions, please email Shaun Priest at shaun@closerq.com.