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Category Archives: Journals

For the past few years whenever I visited Asbury Park, NJ a bike shop on the corner of Main Street and Springwood Ave always caught my eye. There was always something placed at the front door or a cleaver message on the blackboard leaning against the entrance. This year there was a skeleton wearing a Santa outfit that finally drew me in.

Inside I found Pete Leather working on an old Dutch bike. He explained the program and the history of Second Life Bikes and its founder Kerri Martin.

It is an enormous space defined by high exposed brick walls with hundreds of bikes of every size and share, including one unicycle. I had my camera with me and asked Pete if I could take some photos of the place as the visual repetition of the bikes, parts and accessories are one of my favorite themes.

When I reviewed the photos that evening I liked what I saw and decided to return to take additional photos and I wanted to meet Kerri. Jenni’s interest was piqued when she saw the photos and heard the story. So we returned together. Jenni discussion with Kerri follows and my photos are found in the Slideshow section.

Kerri Martin hails from Freehold, NJ, born into what she describes as a very normal middle class family, an only daughter surrounded by three brothers.

Appearing to be a delicate and sensitive beauty, she backpacked and biked extensively across Europe while in school. She’s actually backed by a core of steel with a heart as soft as a rose petal. She thought briefly about becoming a social worker  but ended up working for a German investment company on Wall Street, a job that ended on 9/11 as she watched the plane crash into the World Trade Center as she biked down the  West Side Highway. She immediately rethought her life and purpose.

Kerri worked in Manhattan and Fair Haven and Brielle in New Jersey restoring and repairing bicycles until she made the brave decision to peddle off on her own and begin her own business in Asbury Park, NJ, an old resort town poised to return to her former glory by an adventurous alternative lifestyle population  She utilized space in a garage located at Holy Spirit Church generously provided by Father William McLaughlin, then moved to the Jersey Shore Rescue Mission prior to finding space in Asbury Park in a location that most business owners would overlook.

It turned out to be ideal for her blossoming bike philosophy: build it and they will come.  Second Life Bikes was born. Accepting donations of used bikes in any condition, teaching kids how to repair bikes and having them earn by work effort to obtain bikes that they could otherwise never afford, business (if you can call it a business) is booming.  Pete Leather, her right hand mechanic and equally brilliant conversationalist, have their hands full working long hours managing a myriad of curious visitors, teaching kids, fielding phone calls and walk in requests as well as customizing and restoring bikes.

As Kerri reiterates, they aren’t really about customer service and business in the strict sense of the word. It’s about a passion for supporting and teaching an elemental way of life that has almost been lost in the suburbs of America. It’s a way of respecting the bicycle, no matter the condition, as a piece of functional sculpture and chronicle of history, and as a way of giving back to a community that provides a very satisfying life for a young woman whose feet are securely on the ground (unless she’s biking) with a creative genius and positive vision of growth in clear direction without surrendering her values.

She lives locally, has never owned a car, and supports other local business entrepreneurs with the same philosophy: offer something wonderful from your heart and mind and it comes back to you. As the brochure states: “We rescue bikes.  We fix bikes. We sell bikes. We earn bikes. We ride bikes.  We love bikes.”

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Hello from Jenni! It’s been awhile since the website has been updated with Michael’s gorgeous photos and my postings but with good reason! We’ve continued our journey of the last ten months with some shorter versions of this long beautiful exploration of the world, spent lovely time with family, raised some polywogs in the hot tub, and are working vigilantly to edit thorough thousands of photos taken during the last trip which inlcuded Singapore, South Africa, Rwanda, Masai Mara and Serengetti, Mali, Senegal, Marac, Barcelona, Southern Bavaria and the Romantic Road, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Prague.

We added a wonderful Morrissey Family Reunion in the Poconos, a fabulous trip with dear friends to New England and the Maine Coast which inlcuded sailing a Friendship Sloop and taking an exciting glider ride one mile high over Acadia National Park. Still to come are additional photos from Lao, Vietnam, Cambodia and Nepal. It’s been quite an exciting and fulfilling year which we are blessed to be able to share with everyone in the comfort of your own home. Read More »

March 2008, Lijiang, China
Lijiang is located on the north side of the Himalayan Mountains 1,500 km east of Mount Everest and approximately 150 km from the Tibetan boarder in Yunnan Provence.

In 1933 the nearby mountains inspired James Hilton to write Lost Horizons the book that popularized the term Shangri-La. Citing extracts from Hilton’s book, some areas of China, such as the scenic town of Lijiang now claim they were the inspiration for Shangri-La. The neighboring county of Zhongdian in Yunnan has gone so far as to officially rename itself as Xianggelila (Shangri-La).When no one was looking I kicked the dirt in a couple of places but found no signs of a hidden diamond.

The day after visiting the lamasery in Shangri-La I headed two and a half hours southwest of Lijiang to Shibao Shan (Mountain).

Polata – Shangri-La

Near the top of Shibao Shan there are rare remnants of Tang Dynasty rock carvings that have been worshiped and protected by the Bai ethnic group. Li, my guide explained the people were recently relocated off the mountain, away from the historic rock carvings, to protect the IXth Century carvings.

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It’s surprising I don’t have more misadventures as a result of the minimal preplanned I do for most of my travels. This finally caught up with me on a recent trip retuning from Scotland. It was the last day of a driving tour I took around Scotland.

This trip was completely unplanned, no route, no reservations. I had a general direction but no schedule. I began the trip in Edinburgh drove north along the eastern coast then took the ferry across to the Orkney Islands. I returned through the highland on the west coast returning though Glen Coe eventually ending up at in Edinburgh. The weather was perfect during the entire trip making for a very pleasant drive with plenty of fantastic photo opportunities.

This part of the trip worked out perfectly. There were usually plenty of places to stay except in some of the smaller villages I stopped. Usually a B&B owner always had a connection with an accommodating neighbor. Where I went wrong was not following the events in Glasgow after the terrorist attack on the airport and thinking through the consequence this would have on flights. Getting to the airport was not enough, delaying my flight a day would have been a lot better.

On the last day, I was passing through Glasgow when three terrorists drove a flaming vehicle into the Glasgow airport terminal. I was listening to reports on the radio as I drove thought the city. It was the first day of this portion of my trip and the first day it rained. The rain made Glasgow less inviting so I slowly passed through the city and headed to Edinburgh where I was to fly back to London in preparation for my trip to Russia.

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Cruise ships are a family vacation planner’s best friends. Picture a floating, mega-resort with tons to do for everyone in a confined space where you know your kids are supervised and safe.

Many cruise lines offer voyages designed specifically for families, with expanded activity programs and shore excursions for all age groups and waterslides, ice rinks and climbing walls that keep kids and parents happy for days.

Some cruises have even developed on board programs that not only feature family together time, but also arrange crucial alone time for parents. Together, parents and kids can participate in mock game shows, story hours, treasure hunts and other activities. Later, adults can schedule a massage or spend time on the sun deck knowing their kids are enjoying a host of supervised games and activities.

Cruises are much like an all-inclusive vacation with the added benefit of being able to explore new and various places. They are especially good bets if the grandparents are coming.

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I was researching for information regarding an up coming up trip and came across a New York Times article  dealing with how to determine if a travel destination is safe to visit.

This article was written by Joshua Kurlantzick who had deliver a wealth of information from different sources.

You can read the full Article Here

October 1971
I’ve often been asked if there was anything in particular that influenced me to spend so much time traveling. I immediately thought of Adam.

In my second year at Berkeley, I rented a unique Japanese-style house in the Berkeley Hills. It was unique in a number of ways; first, it was on a path not a road. The paths in the Berkeley Hills are remnants of a network from the days when a tram transported residents from the hills. Second, all the walls in the house, except for the bathroom, were moveable. It was possible to reposition the bookshelves on wheels to divide the kitchen from the living and dining area and another unit that could create a third bedroom. There were shoji-type sliding doors when closed defined two bedrooms or left open created one large bedroom. Although, this was a very flexible design, we rarely changed it.

The house was a Japanese design but I didn’t fully appreciate how close an replica it was until I lived in Japan twenty years later. The house aside, the major appeal was the garden. The house was a flat roof rectangular building with large windows on all sides. At either ends of the house were two huge glass sliding doors extending the living room into the garden. Read More »