joanna and michael droege

Gridskippers Meeting in NYC!!


It started as simple as a blip on my phone last Wednesday morning...Our Rickshaw Race partner Danny, who lives in Texas, was trying to schedule an October Gridskippers meeting to help plan and organize... Within minutes, we had successfully pulled in the meeting from October to this Saturday and in New York City. The gathering of miles and additional funds ($$) quickly were arranged and our weekend was set! Normally, this would be absolutely fine, and we would embrace this type of spontaneity... Although since we are moving to our new apartment on Friday, we knew this was going to put a bit of a wrinkle in our packing plans... but in the nature of Gridskippers, we could figure it out!

As soon as they arrived Saturday, we were off to one of our newest special favorites in the city and that is the North River Lobster Company.


This special little find has offered many adventures for us this summer! It is located at Pier 83 and their business plan is spot on. The restaurant is a nice size 3-level boat that sails up and down the hudson for no cost to the patrons. They only ask that you enjoy the food, drinks and sometimes live music along the way! It is a great idea and, since they do not push any of the tables to leave between cruises, we always find ourselves taking a few trips out as we enjoy their tasty drinks and yummy lobster and shrimp! 

Here, we toasted the group with a drink of our choice and began the first of many Gridskipper meetings that took place this weekend. Our initial topic started with video and photography requirements... The wish list began to emerge as we discussed camera stabilizers, video storage, ability to edit on site, GOPRO requirements, monopod, lighting, microphones, computers and software etc...

With a list such as this, the conversation then turned to backpack sizes, security, followed by clothing requirements and if we really needed a tent... With that, we took our adventurers to Paragon's Sporting goods.  Since we are then just a few blocks from Mario Batali's crazy huge shop of Italian specialities, Eately... We had to spend some time there!  What kind of friends would we be if we did not show them that place!!

As I am sure most soon-to-be rickshaw runners have done from time to time, we retired at our local favorite Indian restaurant, Saffron. We discussed our future plans with the server, who then graciously took us on a culinary tour of his own personal recommendations! It was fantastic! 


Sunday morning, we got up and began to get ready for the next meeting. This meeting, as most New York meetings should, took place at the Yankee Stadium... :) I am sure this was part of some bucket list for our Texas friends and it didn't fail to impress!


The planning quickly went to pimping the rickshaw and what we need to ensure this little 7-HP vehicle will be able to endure the race and provide enough protection and some comfort to us, so we too can endure the trek.

With all the power that our equipment will need, the Rickshaw will absolutely need a larger battery. With a bit of research, we found how we can add an additional power source with the option of recharging with solar power. Although traveling at night is frowned upon, for us to finish the race in the allotted time, it may be required. For this, we need to make sure have the correct lighting and I believe we may have found it with these new LED options. The only issue now is, we are pretty sure it is too bright and may be blinding for those that may be driving towards it... so possibly a plan B?

We ended this Gridskippers weekend with the New York standards...  A quick trip to Coney Island and then a nice dinner at home with NYC pizza and red wine.


It is crazy we have been here almost 4 years and we have yet to find our "favorite" pizza place. They really all are very good and better then we have had any where else in the world. I am sure the NYC water really has something to do with this!  Although this evening, we chose to deliver from Justino's pictured above and it absolutely did it's job!


With that said it was a great weekend and many things were organized and discussed to move the project forward! Please help us by helping us raise money for our charity ArtsConnection.  ArtsConnection's mission is to save and preserve the Arts Programs in Public Schools. These programs are essential to children's growth and need all of our help to keep them preserved and moving forward. This entire race through India is for ArtsConnection and the work they do! Please help and support us! Please give a tax-deductible donation as soon as possible. We have a long way to go to meet our goal!!!!

Gridskipping in Singapore - Joanna


The plant in Tuas

The plant in Tuas

So last week I took my first trip to Singapore.  It has to be, by far, the cleanest place I have ever visited.  Cleanliness of their country is so important to them that it is illegal to buy gum!  Thankfully, they did not check my bag upon entry!!


We landed at Changi airport early Monday morning and checked into the Regent Hotel for a quick shower before heading into the plant in Tuas, the industrial area of Singapore - with manufacturing plants from every company you can think of.  We worked all 4 days prepping the plant for an FDA audit.  




But the most memorable part of the trip was the food.

Things I learned....
a) They do not know how to make coffee.  It looks and tastes like tar.  Even with cream and sugar.  But, I guess if you don't drink it, you don't know how to make it....BTW, the tea was great.


b) They like to eat.  We had a "tea break" at 10am, lunch at 12:30pm, another "tea break" at 3pm and then we headed to dinner at 6pm.  I say "tea break" since all of these servings were fully catered meals.  There was always a vegetable, a meat dish, a fish dish, a rice or noodle dish and a dessert.  Way too much food.....


c) Very few people there own cars - most take public transportation or taxis.  This would be due to the $70,000 certificate fee that each car must have every 10 years.  Imagine!  Having a 10-year old car and having to pay $70,000 to keep it!  Or worse, buying a new car and having to pay for the car, taxes, duties plus $70,000! I figure you would have to take 10 taxi rides per day for 10 years for you to break even. Wow!

d) And then, after you have a car, you have to buy gas.  Gas that is so much more expensive than the neighboring country, that people try to drive over into Malaysia to buy gas.  So many, that Singapore will now not let you leave the country unless you have 3/4 of a tank of gas!!  Amazing!


e) Apparently, although I am not a fan of either beer or lemonade, I like them mixed.... I was able to sample a drink called Tiger Radler.  It is a mix of beer and lemonade.  Very refreshing... like a Blue Moon without the hops.  

f) I absolutely love the Singaporean dish of black peppered crab.  I mean how can you go wrong with a huge crab fried in black peppered oil! Yum!!!

Probably, the most memorable dining experience was at a place called Long Beach at Dempsey Hill.  First of all, Dempsey Hill is a food-lovers dream.  It is an old army barracks turned into (at least) 13 rows of restaurants and bars. 

At Long Beach, we had fried prawns, squid with thai chili sauce, thai steamed fish, chile crab and (the house special) the black peppered crab.  

So good, but so much food! 

So good, but so much food! 

That was followed with the dessert of aloe vera lemongrass jelly served over dry ice.  It was such an experience!

They called it was jello! 

They called it was jello! 

On our last night, before we departed, we went to Clarke Quay, a neat outdoor dining area on the Singapore River.


Clarke Quay

Clarke Quay


The fountains at Clarke Quay reminded me of the playgrounds at home

The fountains at Clarke Quay reminded me of the playgrounds at home

Although I spent most of my time in Singapore at work, I found the experience completely enjoyable.  It was a beautiful country with wonderful food - everything one could ask for in a gridskipping experience.


6 Month countdown begins.


July has finally arrived!!(Happy 4th of July by the way!) That being said…. the 6 month countdown for our race across India begins…. 

Our New York City is in full swing with her annual steaming process; the building, sidewalks, and streets all warming with the summer sun and humidity.

Many of our friends have deserted this island we call Manhattan for the next few months, escaping to possibly a slower pace and or cooler temps.

Many of us are still here though, getting through the difficult parts of the week with visions of cocktails on rooftops pulling us through.


Going through our RickShaw checklist, I think we are doing pretty well for only starting this race and branding efforts 25 days ago…. Since we have started this adventure almost one month ago, we have already:

1. Secured and signed-up our third adventurer for the rave Danny Bowen, Austin Texas…. (His job is to keep us alive!)

2. Had great communication and partnership with our charity ArtsConnection. They are excited as we are with the possible Charity opportunities the Gridskippers are coming up with this year! 

3. Raised 4% of our goal of $50,000 for the Art and Music Programs in Public Schools via ArtsConnection…

4. Have caused our extended family/parents/friends to write us off as Absolutely Crazy and now they have begun to ask for ownership of our furniture and cat in case of our demise.

5. I was able to purchase a new weatherproof, DSLR Canon D70, to be able to accurately film our escapades! Happy Father’s day to me!

6. Numerous trips to REI and B&H Photo to wander, wish and make checklists of everything we will need to survive.

7. Numerous bottles of wine (and vodka) consumed. All in the efforts to plan and to reduce anxiety that watching other youtube adventurists may have possibly created….

8. Secured major sponsors that not only support us as Gridskippers but also our chosen charity for children!

9. Designed and built the Gridskippers's Website/Blog and Store at Check it out!!

10. Well Wishes from many friends and loved ones as they support our efforts!!!


Please check out our website and follow our blog!!

We can’t do this without you!! Please help us with a donation to our Charity Artsconnection.

Any amount will help and also get your name on our Sponsor page :)

Thank you again for everything!!

Go Gridskippers!!!