Posted by Peter Owen | Filed under Uncategorized
Elek and I took a trip to see my dad in South Carolina over part of spring break. We got to go to the beach and climb to the top of an awesome and old lighthouse. I thought I would share some pictures.
So a friend of mine, Doug, was mentioning how he wanted to maintain his medallion status on Delta Airlines and one of the closest places he could travel to do so was Jamaica. I mentioned that I would definitely go with him if he was serious. Well turns out he completely missed the deadline, but we did decide to go anyway with another friend of ours, Ben.
Through random internet research we decided to book a new hostel called the Reggae Hostelin Ocho Rios (the original is in Kingston). It was very nice and we booked 2 private rooms, but they also have shared rooms. It’s literally on a parking lot that leads directly to the beach that has two cruise ship docks off in the distance. If you’d like to see Doug’s walk through on YouTube then head over here.
After we booked the hostel, we bought plane tickets for $508 a piece from Memphis March 19 – 25, 2014. Ben lives in Texas so we all arranged to arrive Wed. March 19th in Montego Bay within about 45 minutes of each other. We hired a van to take us the 1.5 hour trek to Ocho Rios. The driver was great and pretty much gave us a brief history lesson. Remember they drive on the left there. I’m so glad we didn’t rent a car.
The first night we got there, we settled in and then went wandering for some food. We asked a girl in the market where her favorite place to eat was and it was a Chinese place. While we didn’t find the same place she mentioned we did find A Chinese place and ate there. It was alright. Afterward we bought some Appleton’s (Jamaican rum that the van driver told us about), coke, and beer and celebrated.
The next day we met a nice British girl (who looks German, but ISN’T!) named Stephanie. She was traveling around by herself for months and she said it was nice to team up with us so she wasn’t harassed as much as she had been. She was a great companion for the next few days! We went to the beach and met a man named Charlie who basically can arrange any type of tourist type activity so we signed up to ride in a boat to the Dunn’s River Falls. The ocean water was so blue and clear you could see 20-30 feet to the bottom. The falls were wonderful and it was nice to be on the water in a boat again.
There’s another beach on the other side of the city from where we stayed called Mahogany Beach. Despite the signs, it’s actually a public beach. It appears they just want to keep out the locals. A fresh water spring creates a moat around the beach until it finally flows into the ocean. It’s a very pretty place with some condos very near that you can rent out. There was Andy’s Bar & Grill that overlooks Mahogany Beach and the ocean. It was beautiful and the food was great too! Doug grabbed a video of Jahwayne.
One thing you must understand about native Jamaicans is that they will try to sell, refer, guide, anything to earn a dollar. Once they know you’re not interested or don’t have the money then they will mostly leave you alone, though I had one guy follow me into a restaurant trying to get me to go somewhere else. All in all the culture is very unique and it was a laid back experience where we got to meet so many travelers from all parts of the world. That’s one of the benefits of staying in a hostel.
The FOOD! The food was wonderful! One night we ate at Whalers Seafood Restaurant & Sports Bar which was phenomenal, but very difficult to find. It was located in a fisherman’s co-op that wasn’t well lit. I had the fish escovitch, which was just spicy enough and very flavorful. One thing I’ve noticed is the restaurants for the locals have cheaper food than the tourist places (obviously). I also had oxtail (wonderful!) and curry goat which was surprisingly better than I thought it would be. Meat patties are very popular. They’re basically like a better hot pocket with various fillings and were very inexpensive.
Lastly Ben had a much earlier flight than Doug or me so we all checked out really early and went back to Montego Bay. Doug and I were trying to get an earlier flight (impossible… thanks Delta!) when a “cab” driver and I use this term VERY loosely came up to us and offered to take us to Doctor’s Cave Beach. We accepted and went swimming in the crystal clear water for the last time before our flight.
Every time I travel I’m very glad I did and am extremely grateful for the opportunity. Until next time!
So I’ve had the travel bug lately which is why I went to Austin, TX. I decided to go to New Orleans Nov. 9 – 11, however, that didn’t work out because of a Saints game. There was NOWHERE to stay. So instead, we (Elek, my mom, and I) went to St. Louis, which turned out to be great! First of all, I managed to book a 4.5 star hotel using Priceline for $65 a night. We left Sat. morning Nov. 9th and since check-in was at 4 PM, we went straight to the St. Louis zoo.
Apparently the St. Louis zoo is one of a few free zoos in the US. Parking was $10, but worth it since it was packed due to the extraordinarily nice weather that weekend. The zoo was pretty cool. It had two trains running around the whole thing while we were there, though we didn’t ride one. We saw the camels, lions, giraffes, reptiles, zebras, and wild pigs among other things. After we were done with the zoo, we checked into the hotel and took a load off for a bit. After getting a few recommendations, we settled on eating at Pi, an awesome pizza place, that night. They had π in their windows, which I got a kick out of. Their deep dish was pretty good, but I don’t think it was what I thought deep dish would be like. I think I’m more of a fan of regular pizza.
The next morning we woke up and drove to the St. Louis Arch. It had a unique free museum under the arch which laid everything out in sort of a timeline fashion. They had an actual tipi as well as animatronic characters who were unfortunately out of service at the time. Elek and I braved the 5 seat pod to the top of the arch and the view was amazing and crystal clear! One of my favorite pictures is of the ground with the shadow of the arch. We could even feel the arch sway a bit at the top. Creepy..
After that we were off to the St. Louis City Museum. It was a little expensive, but a really creative place with lots of places to climb and slide. We also went to the roof where there was a school bus HANGING OFF THE EDGE! It was a lot of fun and one of my pictures is a panoramic of the city from the top of the museum. Around 1 PM we grabbed a bite to eat from a pub and then headed to check out the Soulard Neighborhood. It is a cool, smaller version of Cooper Young kind of with a weekly if not almost daily farmer’s market. Nothing was really going on at the time, but I believe it would be a really cool place to live.
Later that evening we headed to the restaurant Tortillaria and had their fish tacos. They were so very tasty that I would go back if I went back to St. Louis! The owner (I’m assuming) and his wife who is from Memphis seemed very interesting. We left the next morning to get back to Memphis in time to rest up for work and school Tuesday.
As a side note, my friend Zach was in St. Louis at a board game conference.
Enjoy the pics below!
My son, Elek, and I flew to Austin last week to see my Aunt, Uncle, cousins and a couple of friends. Below is what happened so I can remember details! Hopefully I’ll post pictures soon.
We arrived in Austin the afternoon of Wed. Oct. 9th. We drove to Barton Springs and rode the train that goes around that area. Elek played on the playground. Afterward we met Chris Jolley at the original Maudie’s tex mex. Chris came over to Elizabeth’s house for a bit afterward and we talked.
Thursday we went to the Austin Zoo and animal sanctuary in the
morning. We rode the train there as well. It was an interesting zoo
where most of the animals were recovering from something or rescues.
That night we saw the bats swarm under the bridge. For dinner we ate
Texas barbecue. It was very good, but obviously different than Memphis
barbecue. Chris and I went out and drove through “dirty 6th” street
(kind of like Beale street) where all the college aged kids go to get
drunk. We stopped on a very cool block called Rainey Street which was
full of bars made from converted houses. There was also a trailer park
of food trucks. Stephen and Ethyl got in late.
Friday morning Elek was going to help walk the dogs when Jamie bit him
on the face so we spent the morning at the doctor’s. Elizabeth bought
Elek a birthday present from a bookstore called Book People. We saw
the huge Whole Foods store in all its glory. That night we had a
family dinner with steak, potatoes, and salad. It was awesome! We hung
out in the hot tub a little after dinner.
Saturday Elek and I played 10 holes of disc golf at Mary Moore disc
golf. Afterward we went to South Congress street and ate pizza at Home
Slice. It was pretty cool because they let Elek have some dough to
play with while we waited at the bar. That area was very CROWDED. It
was similar to Cooper Young, but more crowded as there were lines
everywhere pretty much. We also got to see where Annabeth works. We
went with her to the Bullock Texas State History Museum and looked
around. We watched a 3D shark movie while we were there as well.
Posted by Peter Owen | Filed under Uncategorized
So I couldn’t find this information ANYWHERE else on the internet so I thought I would share my experience.
First of all, I hear that WalMart / StraightTalk has stopped selling AT&T SIM cards. I purchased my HTC One GE online on the Google Play store.
When purchasing a SIM from Straight Talk, I chose the Bring Your Own Phone plan and chose option GSM. Next, I chose the “T-Mobile Compatible Phone” option at the “Please choose the type of phone you have:” dialog. Keep in mind, this is a full sized SIM card and the HTC One Google Edition takes a MicroSIM card. I used these directions/template to cut my SIM card into a Micro SIM card. I didn’t get it right first, so the phone said something like “No SIM Card Detected” when I turned it on. The gold contacts should be closest to the TOP of the tray/TOP of the phone. Once I sanded it down and got contact, I had to factory reset my phone in order for it to recognize the voice portion. Now I can make calls!
Next, on to the data portion. You have to set up (or edit) a new Access Point Name (APN). Below are my settings and I chose to edit the APN called TracFone (Settings->More->Mobile Networks->Access Point Names).
APN Name. straight talk
mms proxy. blank
mms port. 8080
I tested the phone, internet (web browser), SMS, and MMS successfully.
So NOW StraightTalk offers micro SIMs. Ugh. Also apparently they have to install equipment on the Tmobile or AT&T towers in order to get their phones to work with them. The speed is not that good and my phone kept switching from Edge to 3G to HSPA and back to 3G over and over. I read an article that says that unlocked phones do that and switch because they don’t always need the fastest speeds when they are updating. It also said that branded phones from AT&T, Tmobile do the same thing, but it just hides it from the user. Anyway I switched to TMobile and I am much happier. Faster speeds and better coverage!
Posted by Peter Owen | Filed under video
Just maybe I’ve found mine and yours is standing next to you… just waiting…