Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Weekend in Newport

Just like our weekend in Newport, I am stuffing as much as I can into this blog post. There's just so much to do and too little time.

We always make a point to visit our favorite diner while we are in town. It's a small place right outside the naval base gate and since we stay on base it is super convenient. They have a great menu, great prices, and great service. 

We met up with my father-in-law and brother-in-law at the marina after breakfast on Saturday for some sailing. It was a picture perfect day for sailing and being on the water is so relaxing.

The Deck at the O'Club is one of our favorite places to eat when we don't want to go to downtown Newport because it has an amazing view and a great menu. In the summer it's even better with live music. Since our last visit, they have expanded the deck to make it even bigger. More room for people to eat and watch sunsets!

We walked to the fitness center on base to do our full body workout on Sunday morning. This center opened about three years ago, but this was our first time going inside. It is AMAZING! The machines are all high-tech. I even emailed my warmup summary to myself from the treadmill. At the end we used the blood pressure unit. 

After a little shopping at the Navy Exchange, we drove to the Cliff Walk. It had been awhile since we had been there, so we had some fun while we explored the trail.  

The Forty Steps is a popular place to get a closer view of the cliff side and ocean. Brave souls even climb on the rocks to enjoy swimming or just relax and enjoy the view.

There are many places along the Cliff Walk where you can walk and/or climb a little to get a better view and even dip your toes in the water. We weren't shy about venturing out and enjoying some of those places. 

Back in town, mrC scored a prime parking spot downtown, so we headed to The Red Parrot for lunch. We always have a good meal here and this time we even got a coveted seat at the window looking right out onto lower Thames Street, home to Newport's thriving atmosphere.

One thing I really enjoy about downtown Newport is that you never know what you're are going to see, but it is usually amusing. We loved the look of this cool dog!

That's a wrap on our weekend in Newport. We are hoping to make it back once more before our return to China, but it will just depend on the timing of things.

Ever spent time in Newport, RI?
Favorite summertime place?
Funniest thing you've seen recently?

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Friday Favorites: USA Edition

After a long day of travel, we arrived in the USA late Tuesday night. The first couple days of our return always seem a little crazy with that running on fumes feeling. It's totally worth it though. We are visiting mrC's family (crashing at my sister-in-law's house) until we go to the Cape for a family vacation and this weekend we headed to Newport.

Today I'm sharing some of my favorite things about being back in the USA.

Hanging out with LittleC. She drove in from Boston to hang out with us on her day off. It was short and sweet, but we will have her for two weeks on the Cape soon. (what I'm wearing: tank and shorts)

Roaming around the grocery to see what new things are on the shelves is super fun. We discovered some dairy free cheese that I've been wanting to try. It smelled terrible to me when I opened the package, but it tasted just like regular cheese sprinkled on my salad.

Easy to make smoothies. I make smoothies all the time in China, but nothing compares to a Ninja blender. I was also excited to use more of the new line of Bob's Red Mill protein powders. It was really good.

My sister-in-law has a pool and even though I didn't swim (just got my hair cut and colored), I love just hanging out with my feet in the water while everyone else takes a dip.

Morning workouts outside. I've been missing this a lot lately. It's just too hot in China to do outdoor workouts. This morning I fired up the iPad and did a Fitness Blender video right there on my SIL's patio. It was awesome!

Newport. One of my favorite places. It's where we got married. I love coming back here. Today we went back to City Hall to get a certified copy of our marriage certificate for our Hong Kong resident permit applications.

We ended the day on sunset watch at Castle Hill. Some much to love here: cocktails, Adirondacks, and gorgeous views. I appropraitely wore my pineapple tank since I'm in the city of hospitality. Shop my look here, here, and here.

Our weekend plans include sailing and bike riding. We shall see!

Dairy free products: yay or nay?
Can you do outdoor workouts where you live?
Does your city have an official symbol?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Carb Cycling Update

It's been awhile since I checked in on my carb cycling program this round. I had big plans to do weekly updates, but then I was distracted by Australia. If you check out my posts (here, here, here, here, here, and here), you'll understand why.

I'm going home tomorrow to spend the rest of the summer in the US. Since I'll be traveling all day (literally), I started week five on US time, which means I skipped a regular calorie day, but gained a low carb day.

Low carb days are my favorite because it means I'm sprinting.  Since this is my second time through the sprint workouts, I've been upping my game by increasing to level 2 on the elliptical and trying to sprint without holding on. I can REALLY feel a difference during the sprints, but I was also sore after my last workout.

I used to dread the cool down. Walking for 30 minutes on the treadmill is boring after years of running. I can distract myself with the view of the bay or watch tv or listen to music, but it still challenges my patience. I decided last time to increase the incline to make my legs work a little more.  My brain can handle that motivation.

Post workout planks. I'm still trying to make these a habit after sprints. So far it's working. Today I was really feeling my obliques from a yoga session I did yesterday.

It was such a nice day, if you ignore the heat index, that I suggested we take the long way back to the apartment. We rode down to the waterfront and along the bikeway. It's not really that much longer, but it was definitely more scenic than just heading back along the rode. 

I spent the rest of the day packing and preparing the apartment for our departure in the morning. And washing sportswear, like the tank I'm wearing above. Super comfy and goes from sweat to street easily. 

We will be traveling a lot while we are home between vacation plans and mrC's work, but as always I will find a way to fit my fitness in!

Do you go hands on or off on the elliptical?
Plank before or after your workout?

Sydney: Blue Mountains

Many, many people told us to go see the Blue Mountains if we got a chance while in Sydney. For our last day, that is exactly what we did. After a snafu regarding the pickup location, caused by booking agent not the company, our tour guide from Oz Tours made his way through Central Business District to pick us up.

We did a quick drive-thru of Olympic Park. I don't have any pictures because we never got out of the bus, but the story of how Sydney turned a wasteland into an Olympic venue that continues to thrive as a suburb is pretty amazing. I found this video that tells the story in case you want to see for yourself.

After a brief rest stop on the Nepean River, we arrived at the edge of the Blue Mountains at the East Station. Part of our visit included the Scenic World experience. Our first experience was floating between cliff tops 270 meters above the valley on the Scenic Skyway. The car was crowded, so at times it was hard to see out the windows, but the glass floor let you see everything below you!

We got our first glimpse of the Three Sisters rock formation as we were crossing.

From the Scenic World top station we took the Scenic Cableway 545 meters down into the Jamison Valley. We managed the front row on this one and had amazing views going down.

Our Oz Trails tour guide led us on a short walk along the Scenic Walkway, the longest elevated boardwalk in Australia, through part of the Jamison Valley rainforest. It was nice to have a narrated tour, but if we were not on a day tour there was a lot more to see on the 2.4km of walkway.

Our return to the top was at a 52 degree incline on the Scenic Railway, the steepest passenger train in the world. This was a little scary! 

As much as I enjoyed the Scenic World "rides", one of the best parts of the Blue Mountains was the bushwalk to see the waterfall. 

The viewing area was pretty small, but the Wentworth Falls were breathtaking. There are many hiking/walking trails around this area. I would have loved to spend more time exploring and getting closer views of the falls.

We also stopped at Lincoln's Rock, previously called Flat Rock or Wedding Rock, it was officially renamed in 2013 after Lincoln Hall. Hall lived in the mountains for twenty years, but was known for having survived a night near the summit on Everest after being left for dead.

We definitely had amazing panoramic views of the mountains from here. 

We ended our day in the Blue Mountains with a sunset harbour cruise back to Sydney. The sky was already turning pink when we arrived at the boat. 

It was a treat to see the iconic landmarks at night.

We disembarked at Darling Harbour and after a quick bite to eat, we said good night to Sydney for the last time.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Sydney: Bike the Bridge, Hyde Park Loop and Fortune of War

This was by far my favorite day in Australia. Hanging out with mrC, riding bikes and just moving at our own pace felt really, really good.

We walked back down to The Rocks to a cute little outdoor eatery that we saw the day before for brunch. DARE, Delicious And Responsible Eating, serves everything gluten free. We took full advantage and ordered gluten free toast and banana pancakes with our eggs. Everything was delicious.

We earned that BIG meal after the full body workout we did at the hotel. A little warmup on the treadmill followed by arm and leg circuits then a cool down. My new Lorna Jane tank spoke for me.

After eating we walked around the corner to rent our bikes for the day from Sydney Bike Tours. In the past we have gone on guided bike tours, but this time we went on our own. The bike rental comes with helmets and maps, but we used the bike store app to download the maps onto our smartphone. They gave us a phone holder to attach to the bike and let us use a locker to store our extra belongings while we were biking.

Our first route took us over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. To me, this was kind of like walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. The dedicated bike lane is on the west side of the bridge, so we could not see the Opera House, but we could see Goat Island. 

On the north side of the harbour, the bike route went by Luna Park, Australia's oldest theme park. It was closed for "filming" but open to walk around.

We rode the path around Lavender Bay past the marina to the secret gardens. We did not spot the home of the Prime Minister, but part of the bike trail was closed for construction. We had to carry our bikes up the stairs to bypass the construction. By the way, my Athleta pants were amazingly comfortable. I love that I felt sporty without having to wear tights.

Back across the bridge we stopped for a gluten free brownie that we got to-go from DARE on Observatory Hill. It was a well-earned treat after riding about 9km.

After our snack stop we continued our biking adventure picking up part of another route. We made our way down Macquarie Street to Hyde Park. Archibald Fountain was a popular photo spot.

We paused at the reflection pool at the Anzac War Memorial at the south end of the park. 

Then we made our way up College Street stopping to visit St. Mary's Cathedral. It was so big and so beautiful. 

We returned our bikes and walked to Fortune of War, the oldest pub in Sydney.

We hung out at the bar learning more about The Rocks neighborhood and tasting some of the local delicacies like crocodile skewers. They tasted like a fatty piece of chicken.

Afterwards we walked back to the hotel.

Coming up next our last day in Australia took us to the mountains.