Chris Hardie

Blog, Tech, Business and Community Building


June 15, 2012

5 Things I Learned In Antigua

Half Moon Bay

Five things I learned on a trip to the island of Antigua:

  1. When the whole island is a cozy 12 miles across, accurate maps and road signs are not much of a priority. Great for locals, not so great for visitors.
  2. I still get seasick.   At least the expert diver captaining our transport boat, who has taken Mic Jagger and Dolly Parton for tours, was kind about it.
  3. It's worth paying extra for a place with a negative edge swimming pool
  4. Playing Nintendo games prepared me pretty well for driving on the left side of rough, unpaved roads where a goat or donkey might cross at any second.
  5. If you go in the off season and don't stay at Sandals, you get entire stretches of beach all to yourself.

Antigua was beautiful.  Some photos from the trip on Flickr:

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December 30, 2011

My 2011 Year in Review

Family PortraitIt's "year in review" week!

There's just enough time between the Christmas holiday and New Year's Eve for people to get bored, but it's not a good time to launch new TV shows or announce new political initiatives, so we have to have something to keep us entertained.

(As a kid this meant me listening to countdowns of the top one billion songs on the charts for that year, and somehow a Celine Dion or Aaron Neville song always made it into the top five...this was painful, but perhaps reflects more poorly on me and the particular genre of music station I was listening to than it does on all of the music produced in those years.)

But it's been an unusually full year for me, so I thought I'd take a moment to reflect back on what that has included:
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July 6, 2011

Hail in the Badlands

BadlandsAs a part of the trip to Oregon, we took the opportunity to see some sights along the way, including Yellowstone National Park, Mt. Rushmore, Grand Teton National Park, and neat little towns like Deadwood, South Dakota.

The most memorable and terrifying part of the trip was our stop at Badlands National Park.  We should have known something was brewing when the gas station a few miles outside the entrance to the park was all atwitter with talk of the weather and the ominous storm clouds in the distance, but we pressed on anyway.

When we got to a particularly beautiful canyon area and went out for a walk, the winds were blowing hard and bringing some serious temperature changes.  The sky continued to darken, and we knew we were in for a storm.  The rattlesnake that lay in our path a few yards up ahead seemed to suggest Turn Back While You Still Can, so we did.

Kelly: "I think we should get in the car quickly."

Chris: "Oh, a little rain never hurt anyone.  It'll feel good!"

Kelly: "I think we should get in the car quickly."

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July 2, 2011

Northwest Living

Travel has a way of stretching the mind. The stretch comes not from travel's immediate rewards, the inevitable myriad new sights, smells and sounds, but with experiencing firsthand how others do differently what we believed to be the right and only way.

I can't agree enough with this quote by Ralph Crawshaw.  I am always fed by seeing the world from the different perspectives that come with traveling around it, being temporarily away from the routines, habits and comforts of my home.  Indeed, many of my best life choices and decisions have sprung from the thinking and reflecting that I've done while experiencing some other part of the country or the world, engaging in new conversations and reacting to new landscapes. I've often had my notion of "the right and only way" challenged and redefined by seeing how others live, work and play.  I'm appreciative of the privilege to have had these experiences.

I'm currently having another one.  For several weeks this summer, I'll be spending time in Portland, Oregon and in other areas of the northwestern U.S.

The trip is a combination of professional development, research in community building and city governance, and personal adventure and reflection.  Because a number of friends and colleagues have asked me about the trip, I thought I'd say a little more about these three areas of focus.

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July 8, 2010

A trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

Cute pairIn May, Kelly and I took an amazing two and a half week trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands in South America.  We spent a little time in the capital city of Quito, but otherwise we were off enjoying the jungle lodge in the cloud forest of Mindo, exploring the Galapagos on a small boat that was our home for seven nights, enjoying whitewater rafting, volcano-heated hot baths and great food in the mountain town of Banos, and checking out the sprawling and lively markets of Otavalo.

The photos and videos I've posted on Flickr capture some of the experience, and while the trip held too much adventure to describe here in great detail, I'll hit some of the highlights below.  (You can also go back and read individual posts written during the trip.)

Our trip was a nice combination of planned itinerary (primarily, the week-long stay on the boat M/Y Eric to tour around the Galapagos) and "wander around once we get there" mode.  The Lonely Planet Guide to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands provide indispensable for the whole experience, from helping with food to lodging to cultural experiences and everything in between.  We were also visiting in advance of the heavier tourist season, so we were able to get into most any experience without advance reservation.

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May 30, 2010

Back home in Richmond

This entry is part 15 of 15 in the series Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

This entry is part 15 of 15 in the series Ecuador and the Galapagos IslandsAfter a long day and a half of travel that took us through the markets of Otavalo, back through the beautiful mountains to Quito, through long lines and paperwork at the airport, and then to Atlanta and Dayton, Kelly and I […]

May 28, 2010

The Throat of Fire speaks!

This entry is part 14 of 15 in the series Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

This entry is part 14 of 15 in the series Ecuador and the Galapagos IslandsWe might have mentioned that Banos is located at the base of a volcano, Tungurahua (which means "throat of fire" in the local tongue). Well, literally at the moment we were pulling out of town this morning, that volcano erupted. As […]

May 27, 2010

Happy in Banos, Part 2

This entry is part 13 of 15 in the series Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

The spoiling of ourselves continues.  After our "perfect day" we decided it was time to challenge ourselves a bit, so we'd signed up for a whitewater rafting tour on the nearby river Pastaza.  We were a little nervous about it (okay, mostly Kelly) - was it going to be safe, would the guides speak enough English, were they REALLY going to be class III-V rapids as advertised? - but we took a leap of faith.

It paid off - we had some of the best rafting that either of us have ever experienced.  It turned out that they were Class IV+ rapids - not exaggerated at all.  Not only that, they were one after another - no leisurely floating down the river in between to recover your senses.  Huge waves, broken paddles, screams of disbelief, kayaker trapped upside down, dangerous water dynamics, the guide always yelling "FORWARD, FORWARD," and so on.  Chris has never heard as many, um, un-pastorly like words out of Kelly's mouth in one sitting before.  Sitting at the front of the raft, Chris never swallowed so much river water in his life.  But we both stayed in the boat (a real achievement, we'll show you the video!), pulled more than our weight in terms of paddling, and greatly enjoyed the camradarie with our fellow boatmates.  No sea-sickness this time around.

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May 27, 2010

Happy in Banos, Part 1

This entry is part 12 of 15 in the series Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

In our last post, we were obviously a little travel weary, thus the declarations of permanent residence in Banos, Ecuador.  The travel weariness has worn off, but we're still ready to declare Banos a prime destination for other reasons: it's truly a bit of paradise.  We came here with the intention of staying two nights and then working our way north, but we ended up staying four nights, and we're still sad to go.

As I mentioned before, Banos seems to be the Ecuadorian equivalent of Boulder, Colorado - an outdoorsy person's Mecca buried in the mountains, with myriad activities you can take on to pass the time.  Every block offers touring companies that will take you rafting, kayaking, canyoning, jungle tripping, go-carting, mountain biking and more.  There are trails extending up to the volcano and surrounding volcanic formations that range from steep to "are you kidding me?"   The best part is that once you're done with your outdoor adventure, this place knows how to help you relax.  There are natural baths with water heated by the volcano, massage and spa companies on every block (most professional, some not), and so many different restaurants representing cuisine from around the world, it can take an hour to decide what to eat.

After the puking on the boat and the  intense bus ride into Banos, I hope it's no surprise that we spoiled ourselves a bit on Tuesday, the day after we got here:

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May 24, 2010

Banos: we're never leaving

This entry is part 11 of 15 in the series Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

This entry is part 11 of 15 in the series Ecuador and the Galapagos IslandsWe are currently at the foot of an active volcano in Banos, a small town deep in the Andes that is part Santa Fe, part Boulder, and part San Luis Obispo, with an Ecuadorian twist. We're so glad to be here […]

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