PLANNING & ITINERARIES: Route Style ‘C the Circle’

Route style ‘C the Circle’ Template

We’ve talked about destinations and starting there to determine a route style.  The ‘Circle’ route style, however, has no specific destination but instead covers an area – sometimes with a theme in mind.  This Route style can be the most work to design, but can also be the most rewarding!

It might be a good idea to start HERE
Some examples of using the ‘C the Circle’ Route Style Template that we’ve used in the past are:

*Exploring the Deep South and studying the Civil War

*Seeing all the Great Lakes

*Exploring New England and learning more about Colonial History and our Founding Fathers

*Hiking the Rain Forests and exploring NW Native American history

Let’s Get Started!

 First: Determine your travel dates and therefore you’ll know how many days you have to work with.

Second: Choose an area you would like to explore.

Third: Determine the main reason that you want to explore this area and what you intend to get out of it.

Fourth: Take out your Rand McNally Road Atlas (available at most bookstores for a small investment or on their website HERE), and take a look at your main area of interest. Decide on a perimeter that you won’t look beyond for this itinerary.

Fifth: Decide how you will get into the area you’ll be exploring.  Will you make a straight-through run into your area, or make some stops along the way? What about the return trip?

Bear in mind that you might be traveling across time zones.  Make sure to plan your time with time changes in mind.  Also, make a note of any daylight savings time changes that might happen while you are on the road! 

Sixth: Decide and record which cities are of the most interest to you and how many days that you’ll spend at each.

Seventh: Choose and record your minor cities / sites and how long you will need to see them.

Eighth: Print a copy of a Google map and highlight the places you have chosen.  See if you can see a path emerging, then choose your route and how long you will be at each stop.  This is your skeleton itinerary!  Know that your route will probably be subject to some change or ’tweaking’.

Ninth: For each place that you will be visiting, get online, order a free visitor’s guide, or talk with someone who has traveled there. Jot down some of the things that sound really interesting to you.  I like to Google ‘top 10 things to see in _____’.  As you explore different sites (I like TripAdvisor), make note of the things that tend to float to the top of everyone’s favorites list – those are usually the best picks.

Tenth: Print a copy of a map of each city and start highlighting your favorite picks.  This will help you determine an itinerary order (I like to make a circle from and back to my campground).

Eleventh: Narrow down your list of things to see/do and fit them into the days allotted for your stay.  Make notes of opening/closing times for each site as well as the cost and address / phone#.

Twelfth: Decide how you are going to handle meals.  I usually do breakfast and supper at camp and pack a picnic lunch.  If you are planning to eat out, then make sure you work that into the budget.

 Thirteenth: Select your RV Park. Choose according to location, reviews, amenities and price.

I know, this is a lot of work!  For me though, it’s worth it to make sure that if you never get back to a particular place, there are no regrets.  It’s easy to say that there’s ‘always next time’, but next time isn’t guaranteed and there is SO MUCH to explore!
One last note:  I like to have everything in writing.  It helps keep us on track to not miss anything we’d wanted to do, helps us make daily adjustments and keep us on budget.  Here is a sample of a Day-on-a-Circle Route Style: DAY 16 Jamestown

Image result for funny travel quotes

 To see our full Website, click HERE

HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS WEBSITE CLICK HERE

CRUISE PORTS: Ft Lauderdale

Ahhhhh…the best laid plans.

As I’ve mentioned before, we like to take advantage of seeing new things at any cruise port city that we find ourselves in, and always plan a day or two on either the front or back end of a cruise (or both!).

This time it was the lovely city of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and we chose to be there in January – which I understand is in the best time of year to be in Florida.  It was beautiful, sunny, dry, and 75°.  We decided that we’ll probably always travel to Florida in winter!

After carefully researching, Things To Do In Ft Lauderdale and assessing the time we had to spend there, we decided that we’d spend one day in Ft Lauderdale itself and one day on a Day Safari into the Everglades & Cypress Swamp (which was the thing I really wanted to do and it was my birthday after all..).

Here’s how DAY 1 went:

1). RENTAL CAR: The first thing that we needed to do was to get a rental car, so we disembarked our cruise ship and headed for the airport by cruise shuttle.  We had reserved a lovely little compact that we were sure we would enjoy running around in and looking cool. What we got was a Nerdy Lime Green KIA Soul…

P1060691 (2)

Oh well, it did run well and we could always find it in a parking lot!

2). ANTIQUE CAR MUSEUM: Our 1st stop was to see the Ft Lauderdale Antique Car Museum which boasts a 30,000 sq. ft. one-of-a-kind museum with the largest collection of Packards and historical car memorabilia in the country.  Eddie was excited.  We ‘google mapped’ our way there just to find out that it was closed that day.  Why any museum would be closed on a Saturday still baffles me, but oh well.  Strike two.

3). THE BONNET HOUSE: Our 2nd planned stop was at the Bonnet House Museum, and yes, we actually got to see this one!  It is a beautiful and interesting home and well worth the visit.  We enjoyed the house and the grounds and found ourselves with a little time to spare!

             *The Bonnet House is Florida’s best remaining example of early 19th Century American Caribbean plantation-style architecture.  Sitting on 35 acres, this was the winter home of Artists Frederick Clay Bartlett and Evelyn Fortune Bartlett.  Frederick died in 1953 and Evelyn wintered here until 1983 when she deeded the estate to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation.  The home maintains its original furnishings and artwork and is now open to the public.  It also hosts many local events including the annual Orchid Festival.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

4). THE RIVERWALK: Because we had missed the Car Museum and because we were ahead of schedule, we decided to take a walk down the Ft Lauderdale Riverwalk.  Along the way we made reservations for a River Cruise, enjoyed the sights along the Riverwalk and had some lunch.  The day could not have been nicer and the River Cruise was not only enjoyable, but also fun and informative!  On the cruise we got to see gorgeous yachts, huge houses, lovely scenery, as well as having gotten a  chance to have rum-with-new-friends, visit with other travelers and pretend that we were spotting celebrities as we viewed their elaborate homes.  This unplanned excursion was the highlight of our day!

            *During the time that Ft Lauderdale was inhabited by Seminole Indians, an earthquake collapsed the ceiling of a local waterway, and the ‘New River’ began rising into what would become 40 miles of rivers connecting the Everglades to the Atlantic Ocean.  Frank Stranahan began trading with the Seminoles using the new waterways to move goods.  That system was eventually taken over by pirates and then later used to import illegal alcohol during prohibition.  Now the ‘New River’ is home to tourism and local transportation.

5). BEACH SUNSETS AND PIZZA:  Next we had planned to pick up some fast food and head to the beach for a sunset supper.  It seems like every time I plan a picnic on the beach, something foils my plan, and this time was no exception.  Maybe it’s Eddie.  He doesn’t love sand in his food.  On this occasion it was a little early for supper but we didn’t want to miss some time on the beach.  We found ourselves at the Ft Lauderdale Beach Park sitting in beach chairs just watching people, enjoying the comfortable sea breeze and waving goodbye to our cruise ship, the Harmony, as she headed out on her next voyage.  We played in the sand and dipped our toes in the surprisingly warm ocean water as we watched the sun go down displaying a most beautiful orange sky.  What a relaxing treat!  And what perfect way to end the day in this lovely port city.

By dusk we were getting hungry and (of course) had opted not to eat in the sand after dark.  We headed downtown with pizza on our minds.  We enjoyed the drive up the coastline and I’m not sure why the car seemed to turn itself into the parking lot of Franco & Vinny’s Homemade Pizzeria, but it seemed like fate.  There was a bit of a wait, but the locals know best, so we never frequent places that seem deserted.  I have to say that the next time we’re in Ft Lauderdale, we’ll be happy to wait again!  Franco & Vinny’s is probably some of the best pizza we’ve ever had!  Always trust a long line…

6). TURNING IN: After a very satisfying meal, we returned our nerdy lime-green car to the airport rental agency and caught a hotel shuttle to the Red Carpet Inn & Suites.  The inn was fine as we were on a pretty tight budget, but I was confused by the tile floors!  Not a stitch of carpet – red or otherwise – in sight!

DAY 2:

On our 2nd day in Ft Lauderdale we were picked up early by Mark in his can’t-miss-it Everglades Safari bus.  We spent the next 9 hours on this safari and I can’t say enough about this tour!  Mark gave us wayyy more information than we could possibly retain, but everything was very interesting!  We were dropped off back at our hotel around 5:30pm.

Here’s what we saw:

*Sawgrass Wilderness: where we learned about sawgrass,  Melaleuca Plants and how the government nearly destroyed the area by trying to drain the swamps.

*Everglades: where we enjoyed an air boat ride with Capt. Mike and saw many local  species of birds, animals, plants, and lots of gators.

*The Great Cypress Swamp: where we learned more about the swamp ecosystem and it’s importance to the planet. We also saw swamp knees, many interesting kinds of plants and birds, and (of course) gators!

*Mangroves at Chokoloskee (10,000 Islands Wildlife Refuge): where we got to take a boat ride with Capt. Corey Mac through the beautiful Mangroves.  We learned about the importance of the Mangroves as they are the nurseries and refuges for many species of birds, reptiles, fish and animals.  Sadly, tho’, we saw no gators…

What an incredible day! So much beauty and so much information!  We finished our day with dinner, dessert & margaritas at the hotel restaurant (which was great!) discussing everything we’d seen and done, and just taking it all in.

We left out early the next morning looking forward to being back in Ft Lauderdale!

For the Homepage of this Website, Click HERE, & remember to subscribe and leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you!

HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS WEBSITE CLICK HERE

 

HEALTH ON THE ROAD BEGINS AT HOME

Staying healthy on the road really is dependent on the general care you take of yourself all year long, and health really does begin at home

Gourmet-Cooking-Camping-beach

I have this theory that your health can handle anything (well almost anything) for a short time if you are in good general health. Consequently your body can handle the stress that happens on road trips if it’s been nurtured during the rest of the year.

Let’s face it. Travel is taxing to the body’s system. Overcoming fatigue, different water, strange food and all kinds of other stresses you are potentially presented with, can be a real challenge and we’ll be tackling some of those issues in future blogs.

For now, let’s focus on preventative planning!
As a disclaimer, this advice is, of course, not meant to take the place of your doctor’s recommendations.

Let’s compare general health to a table. Health is the table top and it is supported by 4 legs:
1st Leg: Food choices
2nd Leg: Exercise
3rd Leg: Supplements
4th Leg: Attitude and Mindset

1). Food Choices:
I know. There’s just not enough being said today about what to eat/not eat! Just kidding…. I am aware of the overabundance of advice out there and I share your frustration with finding the information worth following.

Here’s where Eddie and I have landed with our opinions about nutrition:
Isaiah 1:18 in Scripture says, ‘Come, let us reason together….”. I realize that there are many interpretations of this passage, but for us it means that God has blessed us with common sense and we are expected to use it.

Common sense says that foods that come from the earth naturally are created for our good, have value and should not be used disproportionately. I once read online that eating 13 bananas a day would solve more than 15 different health problems – including allergic reactions to mosquito bites! Seriously? Is that common sense?

Coming up with an individual food pyramid for yourself takes a little doing. It takes being in touch with your sensitivities, likes, dislikes and knowing a little about how different foods can affect your health issues.

We believe in balance and moderation with all food groups.  Here’s our plan:
*Vegetables: These take up the largest space on the plate 2 of our 3 meals each day. We aim for 3-4 veggie servings per day. We work at ‘eating the rainbow’ and have each day of the week assigned a different vegetable color. Having purple vegetables on Thursdays, for example, has forced us to explore options that we’re not used to eating and to try new cooking techniques. Yes, flops have happened, but we’re discovering a whole new approach to the world of vegetables! Remember to pick organic and non-GMO options.healthy camping snack food

*Fruits: Also on the ‘daily color wheel’, we aim for 2 small servings each day. Again, pick organics and non-GMO fruits and eat the whole fruit – don’t just drink the juice.

*Proteins: These are SO important for the repairing and building of body tissues as well as the production of hormones and enzymes. We aim for 2 servings per day – 1 animal source and 1 plant source. (No more than 1 serving of beef and 1 serving of pork per week, however). Vegetarians and Vegans obviously don’t use the animal source option.

*Whole Grains: Boy is the Carb Controversy a big one – and it should be! What manufacturers have done with grains and gluten is not only devastating for our health but violates our common sense! We try and stick to 1 serving of carbs each day and are careful to use only whole grain, intact varieties of carbs. For those who are ‘gluten-free’, remember that carbs are our primary source of energy and digestion and they regulate fats and proteins, so your personal nutrition plans need to compensate.

*Dairy: These are good sources of calcium, protein and B vitamins, but we limit ourselves to 1 small dairy serving per day. We have cut out cow’s milk in favor of almond milk, and usually pick quality (never processed) cheese or Icelandic / Greek yogurt.

*Fats: With too many benefits to list, fat is essential for good health. Women need about 50 grams per day and men need around 80 grams per day. Pick good sources of fat including olive oil, avocados, nuts, real butter (be careful with butter), dark chocolate etc. Go easy, though….

*Misc info: We also try and stick to these limits:
-Sodium: around 1,500 mg or less per day
-Sugar: 25 grams or less per day
-One (within reason) ‘don’t worry about it today’ day off per week
-Water (min of 40-60 oz per day)

WOW!!! Lots to think through here! Just remember to consult your doctor, use your common sense and HAVE A PLAN.

Campers doing yoga

 

2). Exercise:
We all know that we need more exercise, and we all need to not abandon our New Year’s Resolutions by Feb 1! I try and get about 20 min each day with a goal of 1 ‘bigger’ effort each week (for example: a 2+ mile hike, a game of golf, longer bike rides, yoga class, etc.).
On a daily basis I’m learning to be honest with myself about what holds me back.
Here’s my list of exercise work out saboteurs:
-If I’m not finished by 8:00 am it not happening because I’m busy.
-Because it’s boring I’ll last 2 days.
-The weather has to be good or I can’t.
-If I’m planning on a visit to the gym that night, I’ll just wait till then.
There are probably a few others, but instead of trying to ‘push through’ what doesn’t work for me, I’m learning that it’s best to work with what does work for me.

My daily 15-20 min choices include a quick bike ride, yoga or bone strengthening videos (for bad weather mornings), and a self-designed workout. In addition, my other times of exercise involve things I really enjoy doing.

Whatever you decide….keep moving!!!

3). Supplements:
It’s not news that there are herbs and oils for all that ails you, and I strongly suggest looking into natural alternatives to aid with the milder conditions that plague you, as well as to supplement western medicine with for any serious illnesses. Those things you’ll have to research yourself for your particular situation. That said, there are a couple of supplements that everyone should have on a daily basis. It would be awesome if we could get all that we need from our diets, but (at least for me) that’s a little impractical.Capsules

Here’s the minimum you should have in your daily routine:
-Cell Essentials (or a great quality multi vitamin). Not all vitamins are created equal, and most just pass right on through you, so therefore be careful!
-Omega 3 Fatty Acids / Fish oil
Beyond that, a supplement regime is highly personalized.

After a considerable amount research, Eddie & I have selected the USANA brand for all our supplements. You can learn about this company, ask any questions from our rep, Tara or place an order here: USANA .

Get some professional advice and really do your homework!

4). Attitude & Mindset:
If you haven’t heard how important your attitude is for maintaining good health, you’re living under a rock! A positive attitude and the determination that the ailments you have ‘don’t have you’ are absolutely vital. If you suffer from chronic negativity, then seek some professional help. Your mind and your body are inseparable!

Health on the road really does begin at home, and keeping healthy is the key to a great Life and of course, great Road Trips!!
Read HERE for some great tips for eating healthy on the road.
For the Homepage of this Website, Click HERE, & remember to subscribe and leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you!

HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS WEBSITE CLICK HERE

MOUNTAIN HIGHS & ALTITUDE SICKNESS

Silhouette of mountain climber and signs of altitude sickness

 

While traveling around the United States, it is inevitable that you will find yourself changing elevations…sometimes quickly! About 15% of people get sick over 10,000’ and most of us experience some sort of mountain high altitude sickness.

The lower the altitude is that you live at, the more at risk you are for High Altitude sickness or AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness), and therefore more important it is to be aware of what elevation changes can mean for your health and well-being.

To find out more about how to be healthy enough to handle elevation changes, check out these TIPS!

 

What happens when you ascend to a higher elevation?

            *The higher in elevation you go, the lower the amount of oxygen there is per lungful.  Oxygen to the brain, as well as all other organs and muscles, is diminished, which usually results in a headache.

            * With lower air pressure, water evaporates faster causing dehydration.

            * The air is thinner at higher altitudes which can make you cold.

            * At higher elevations you will naturally breathe faster to compensate for the new lack of oxygen, which can cause hyperventilation.

            * You will naturally urinate more at higher elevations, so if you don’t, then you are probably dehydrated.

            * Because of the disruption to oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in your blood, you might experience uneven or interrupted breathing – especially at night.

            * Your body will compensate by making more red blood cells to carry oxygen more efficiently, but that will take a few days, and in the meantime you may feel sick.  Here are some of the common signs of AMS:

  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea or vomiting
  • confusion
  • difficulty walking (called gait ataxia)
  • rattling breath
  • feeling generally extremely ill
  • increased heart rate
How to avoid AMS:

            *Don’t assume that if you are in good shape that you are less susceptible to AMS

            *Stay HYDRATED. Plan 1 liter of water more than you normally take in each day.

         * Plan time to ascend slowly.  Stay below 7000’ for the first night and add about 1000’ each day as you ascend to higher elevations.

            * Stay away from alcohol.

            * Avoid strenuous exercise for the first 48 hours.

        * Keep high carbohydrate snacks handy, because carbohydrates and glucose are what your body needs most at high altitudes. So snack away!

 If you do get sick:

            * Head for a lower elevation

            * Drink lots of extra water

            * Eat Carbs

           * Check out medications for altitude sickness.  There are preventative meds as well as symptomatic meds.  You can also find some natural meds like ginko biloba and coca leaves.  Ask your doctor for suggestions if you know or think you might have a problem.

           * Be Very cautious with extreme reactions.  There are rare cases where AMS can be dangerous or even fatal.

           * Rest and take it easy.  It should pass in a few days.

Coming Down:

           Remember that descending is also hard on the body!

If you are heading to lower elevations from higher ones you must also be careful.  As your blood pressure normalizes and oxygen levels in the blood stabilize, changing to lower altitudes can cause Reverse Altitude Sickness giving you the same symptoms.  Follow the same preventative measures by going slow, taking it easy and drinking lots of water.

HAPPY CLIMBING!!!

Mountain poster with caption, "no matter how slow you go, you're still lapping everyone on the couch"

For the Homepage of this Website, Click HERE, & remember to subscribe and leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you!

HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS WEBSITE CLICK HERE

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR: Charleston, SC

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One of the things that was on the very top of my ‘must see’ list for our first trek into the Deep South was to see an alligator up close in the wild.

Being from Colorado I’ve been privileged to get up close to deer, elk, moose, eagles and bears, but I’ve never gotten to see an alligator other than in a zoo – which doesn’t count.

I shared my intentions with my son-in-law Dave, who cocked his head to one side, gave me the ‘seriously – why?’ face, patted me on the head and simply looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. Assuming that this was naturally on everyone’s ‘must see’ list, I felt baffled at his response.  Dave grew up in New Orleans, though, and feels that if he never sees one of those ‘evil monsters’ again that would be just fine.  I also think he felt that once I’d had the experience, I would come to know how silly and naïve I had been.

Not giving Dave’s reaction a second thought I pressed on toward the goal.

We planned a visit into the beautiful city of Charleston, SC, stopping on the outskirts to visit the Francis Beidler Forest and Nature Conservatory.  The forest was established by the National Audubon Society in 1974 and has become vital to helping educate the public about the importance of the swamps to both the local ecosystem and to the health of our planet.

It was also my first Gator Spotting Opportunity!

We spent a lovely morning at the Beidler Forest where we learned that swamps are where the fossil fuel, coal is formed, what swamp knees are, and that swamps are vital for controlling floods and purifying local water sources.  It is a beautiful place full of unusual plants, trees and creatures, and I look forward to another visit.

What I didn’t see, however, was a Gator.

From the Beidler Forest we headed into Charleston proper, which is one of my favorite cities in the South.  The port of Charleston was founded in 1620 and sits on a bay of the Atlantic Ocean.  Here you will find horse-drawn carriages, giant Spanish Oak trees, grand pastel antebellum houses, and cobblestoned streets that lead you to many historic homes- some of which you may tour.

We made our way to White Point Garden (or Battery Park) that sits at the city’s tip from where you can see Ft Sumter (where the first shots of the Civil War were fired), enjoy an incredible view of the Atlantic Ocean, and start a walking tour of some of the most magnificent homes in the United States.

I didn’t actually expect to see a Gator at the park downtown, which of course, I did not.

It was then on to the lovely Magnolia Plantation.  There are a number of plantations to choose from in Charleston, but this one had me with the gorgeous pictures of magnolias in bloom on their website (and a lake that just might be home to a gator), so off we went.  We’ll have to give this one another try in spring when the magnolias are actually in bloom!  The gardens were still a treat to see in September, though, and we learned a great deal about the plantation’s history and the crops that established the South.  We toured the house, the gardens and enjoyed the view of the lake from the bridge.

But still no gators.

Having decided to fully enjoy our day in Charleston and not be bummed about my lack of gator sightings, we made our way to the Audubon Swamp Garden.  We walked and walked, being a little proud of how much we now knew about swamps. We could now identify many of the plants, trees, and wildlife that existed there, and I pretended to not be holding out for a glimpse of my elusive prey.  We enjoyed our walk along the path around the lake.

And then…there he was!  My first gator-in-the-wild!

I was SO excited!  I first spotted the humps of his back as he swam up to a small ramp located in the middle of the lake.  At first I thought that is was possibly a floating stick (I had obviously been deceived already so I was skeptical), but as he climbed up onto the ramp there was no mistaking!  This monster had to have been at least 2 feet long, and although I had to view him through the telephoto lens of my camera, I was thrilled to finally get to see this demon reptile with my own two eyes.  I watched, frozen with anticipation as he approached a small turtle on the edge of his ramp.  Knowing I was about to see an encounter that would probably not fare well for the turtle, I waited with camera ready.  Then I waited some more.  And a few minutes more after that.  It took me a bit to realize that this baby gator was probably not up for attacking a full grown turtle and had decided instead to nap in the sun.

Oh well, at least I’d seen a gator – even though it was a little one from a great (and safe) distance!  Satisfied, I began putting my camera away when I spotted Eddie backing away from me and trying to convey some sort of message to me in whispers and hand motions.

“What?” I hollered as an enormous tail brushed against my shin, and I found myself staring into the face of a massive alligator in the process of showing me his dental work.

I’d like to think that my new friend was as frightened of me as I was of him, but I would be wrong.

I snapped a quick picture as I made my escape back up the trail, praying that everything I’d heard about how fast gators could run on dry land was a myth.  I watched as he slithered into the water and never looked back to make sure he stayed there.

Eddie chuckled at my screams as we both learned how fast we could actually run facing backwards and tripping over each other.  Despite the intensity and fear of my first encounter, however, I still have a little romance going on with gators.

P1020829

I guess I’d gotten what I’d wished for…

For the Homepage of this Website, Click HERE, & remember to subscribe and leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you!

HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS WEBSITE CLICK HERE

ONE THING (St Louis, MO)

one thing pic

I can’t say that I do one thing every day that scares me, but if my day includes something that requires me to be higher than 5’ off the ground, then that would definitely be my one thing for that day!

I don’t just dislike heights, I am ‘throw-up, make-me-dizzy, I’m-going-to-die-today’ afraid of heights.

We found ourselves at the Casino Queen RV Park in St. Louis late on a lovely, September evening after a 14-hour day on the road.  St Louis was our first stop on our trek into the Deep South, and the Casino Queen was the only place in St. Louis proper to park our trailer.  This RV Park is an asphalt parking lot named for the casino that shares the parking area.

St Louis is a lovely place (even though it’s a little sketchy getting down to the Casino Queen) and is worth a day of seeing some of the city’s lovely gardens, cathedrals, historic homes and museums.

We stopped in for one reason, though.  We stopped there to see the Gateway Arch. The Arch is a solid stainless steel monument honoring the Westward Expansion of the United States.  It is the tallest arch in the world, as well as the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere.  It sounded like something we definitely needed to see and I had put it on our itinerary.

I suppose, however, that I never really faced the probability that we would actually need to ascend up into this thing…

So there we were at the Casino Queen setting up camp the best we could on asphalt, with this 630’ high colossal arch looming over us.  Eddie doesn’t like heights any more than I do, so to avoid the conversation about whether or not we were actually going to go up 630’, I was assessing the best spot to take pictures (from the ground of course), and going over information about the Gateway Arch.  The Arch is the center piece of the Jefferson Expansion Memorial and was designed in 1947 by Eero Saarinen. Construction began in 1963, finished in 1965, and the Arch was opened to the public in 1967.

We eventually decided that we’d come a long way to just take a picture from our campsite, so up we decided to go!  The following morning gave us gorgeous, blue skies and we were able to see for miles from the top.  Getting to the top was a little bit like riding an enclosed Ferris wheel, and being inside made us both feel a little less intimidated. It was awesome and we were so glad that we had made the effort!

St Louis (2)

I have since learned something about myself concerning my issue with heights.

After falling madly in love with a helicopter ride that Eddie made me do in Ketchikan, Alaska (although Eddie hates heights, he makes exceptions for helicopter rides), I realized that it’s not being up high that causes my distress, or even the fear of being dead (which I’m not the least bit afraid of). It’s the fear of falling that leaves me debilitated!  I am now learning (or at least, trying to learn) how to focus on the enjoyment of seeing things from a different perspective rather than feeling and picturing myself fainting and falling.

I can now share that I have:

Climbed the Eiffel Tower in Paris; Stepped into the Sky Box at Willis Tower in Chicago:  Enjoyed the sunset from the Empire State Building in NYC;  Seen Abe’s Face from a helicopter at Mt Rushmore;  Scaled 463 steps to the top of the Duomo in Florence Italy;  Peeked over the edge of the Colorado Monument in Grand Junction;  Been on the Roof of the Churchill Downs Racetrack in Louisville; Crossed the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge in Vancouver; Seen Seattle from the Space Needle; and I have even zip lined across the top of a cruise ship!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Have I come to love heights? Nope.  Am I still afraid of falling? Yes. Absolutely.  Will I stop pushing myself (and allowing myself to be pushed) upwards? NO WAY!

I hope that travel will also inspire you to face your fears and conquer the obstacles that hold you back!

For the Homepage of this Website, Click HERE, & remember to subscribe and leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you!

HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS WEBSITE CLICK HERE

 

 

 

FLIGHT RISK (Olympic Peninsula WA)

I suppose that if you have a travel partner, and you set out on a fairly significant road trip, putting some miles between your destination and home, you should probably return with said partner.

Eddie and I began learning about each other’s ‘travel styles’ (and our own!) on our very first trip to Washington State to see the Rainforest.  I wish that we’d have had the list of questions to consider (see my post called ’20 Questions Before You Plan’ ) before we left, but, hey…this is how lists get made!

On this first trip into the Rainforest, we learned that Eddie hates feeling dirty, snores when he gets too warm, doesn’t like people walking across our campsite in the middle of the night and gets cranky without his Dr. Pepper.

We learned that I can’t stand having dirty feet, a disorganized campsite or mold growing on the bath mats in the showers.

We also learned that I am evidently a bit of a ‘flight risk’.

My father told Eddie when he had asked for my parent’s blessing to marry me, that I was ‘fiercely independent’.  My dad told me later that he was careful with choosing his words because he didn’t want to chase Eddie away (I guess he was weary of working on my car), but what he actually meant was that I would probably never learn to do what I was told, be where I was supposed to be or be able to resist the urge to wander off.  Huh!  Although this has all been news to me, Eddie will tell you that he’s known all along.  My best friend, Laurie from high school sure knew, and I quote another friend who said, “Honey, anyone who has known you for 20 minutes knows that.”

So there we were on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State.

The whole state of Washington is so beautiful and there’s so much to see and do!  For our first excursion, however, we decided to concentrate on the Peninsula to see the rainforests and the beaches.  We also made a trek into the sleepy, rainy, town of Forks to see the sights from the ‘Twilight’ movie series that was filmed there.  Eddie will tell you that it ranked at the top of the most ridiculously stupid things to do on vacation.

We ventured into the Hoh Rainforest for few unusually dry days of hiking and photo taking, and felt like we’d just stepped into another world.  We also hiked through the Temperate Forest to the Sol Duc waterfall learning the difference between the rainforest and a temperate forest along the way.  I was disappointed at not seeing the fairies, nymphs and elves that I was sure I’d encounter, but those days spent in these fairytale forests were truly enchanting and I decided that it might just be time to relocate.

Because we live in Colorado, it’s always a treat to spend some time at any beach, and Washington’s beaches are especially endearing as they are so different from most other beaches.  The forests empty right on to the shores giving these special places a particularly lovely, secluded feeling.  We loved Rialto Beach with its black basalt rock coastline (imagine a beach with no sand!) and boulders that resembled molded clay.  We carefully timed a trip out to Hole-In-The-Wall, a lovely seascape covered with sea urchins, starfish and anemones.  Any longer of a stay, however, would have left us out to sea as the tide came in and covered the entire rock!

After Rialto Beach it was then on to First Beach and Second Beach.  First Beach is located at La Push on the Quileute Native American Reservation. It’s trashy there, so we lingered only a few minutes and then moved on.  Just down the road we found Second Beach which is clean and beautiful with lovely teal colored water.  We enjoyed our time there with a picnic lunch on the beach.

To finish up our time on the Olympic Peninsula, we spent a little time in Seattle seeing the Space Needle – which is definitely worth the cost – and Bainbridge Island.  The Puget Sound is lovely at any time of the year but is especially beautiful in the fall!

But first……….

Before we left the Peninsula we enjoyed a day trip to Victoria Island where Eddie and I had the privilege of learning even more about each other.

By this point in the trip I was ready for some art, architecture and people!  As beautiful as the Olympic Peninsula was, there’s a very sparse population there, and Eddie was starting to visit with tree stumps.  We boarded our ship, the Coho, bound for the lovely British….wait….no….Canadian Island of Victoria. It was a grey, rainy trip across the Strait of Juan de Fuca but we were rewarded on the other side by some much-needed sunshine and the smell of street food on the pier.

Our first stop was the very beautiful Parliament building, which was closed, but I didn’t understand why we couldn’t climb the stairs, peek through the windows for a few snapshots, or poke around for a door mistakenly left open to a basement.  Eddie was having none of that.  I made a note that he cares more than I do about knowing the laws in a foreign country.  Good to know.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Next it was on to the Craigdarough Castle.  I was enjoying feeling like I was back in Europe and had planned to take a leisurely stroll through the shopping district on the way to the Castle.  I was, after all, still (kind of) recovering from knee surgery and was in no hurry.  Eddie, at break-neck speed, dragged me right through any possibility of obtaining the refrigerator magnet that had become my go-to souvenir, and we made it to the castle in record time.  You’d have thought that we were auditioning to be on The Amazing Race.  After much whining about my knee, Eddie informed me that if I want to shop, then I must provide prior warning and notification to stop and browse.  Evidently, Eddie likes to go from point A to point B with no meandering along the way, as he is considerably goal-oriented.  He is also uncomfortable with losing me in a crowd in a foreign country.  Although I found myself perplexed, this was also good to know.

 After we left the Castle we visited both Christ Church and St. Andrews Cathedral.  By this time I was a little frustrated and decided I didn’t need any more information about Eddie’s ‘travel style’.  I immersed myself in these beautiful places of worship, learning all I could about their histories, and set out on a mission to get the best photos possible of the beautifully ornate interiors, and I  traveled down some side streets trying to get these very tall buildings into the frame of my little point-and-shoot camera.  “Look at this!” I announced boldly upon seeing the incredible pipe organ at St. Andrews.  I had finally found my way to the inside of the cathedral and had noticed Eddie kneeling behind a pew.  This is no time to try and make a statement about having to wait for me,  I thought, so instead of opening the door to that argument, I began to recount all the information that I had collected.  I knew I was being completely ignored. “What are you doing?” I asked Eddie as he turned his head to the side giving me a one-eyed glare and quietly said, “I’m praying”.  Oh.

We left quietly having decided that it was time to start heading back to the ship.  We had reservations, so I was not worried one bit.  As we approached the pier, we came across some street vendors selling their trinkets and I got excited!  Although I am not much of a shopper, but I still had not found my customary refrigerator magnet.  We parted ways as Eddie had had enough and I was still not ready to board.  What there was left to see, he was happy to enjoy safely from the deck of the ship.  We had about 45 more minutes before departure, were in full view of the ship, and as I said, we had reservations.  I decided to shop.

The departure horn from the Coho blew just as I was depositing my magnet into my travel bag.  “No! We have another 30 minutes!” I hollered as I bolted down the pier bulldozing a path through the crowd with my elbows.

The rope had already been placed across the loading ramp when I ran up waving a ticket in my hand.  “I have a reservation!” I yelled as I confronted the seriously unimpressed face of the ship’s attendant.  “I thought I had another 30 minutes” I said apologetically.  “Uh huh” was the response I got.  She also informed me that the ship was moving so I needed to be careful if I chose to jump aboard.

Not really wanting to face my dear husband who had been pacing the deck and watching me through the telephoto lens of his camera, I joined his side, put my head on his shoulder and whispered, “I love you”.

Although I was completely prepared for the much deserved scolding I believed I was about to receive, Eddie simply said, “You father warned me”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For the Homepage of this Website, Click HERE, & remember to subscribe and leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you!

HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS WEBSITE CLICK HERE

FOREIGN SOIL

R1-04187-0009_0006

I LOVE Verona.  Not Verona California or even Verona Arkansas.  The Verona. Verona Italy.

Located in the beautiful Italian Lake District of Italy’s Veneto region, surrounded by the foothills of the Dolomite Mountains and situated nearly on the shores of Lago di Garda (where I spent 2 summers trying to learn to windsurf), Verona is a town like no other.  It is an ancient place with stone walls built during the Roman times, a wonderful 800 yr-old labyrinth garden where I love to watch the sunsets, a still in-use amphitheater, men in suits carrying briefcases while riding Vespas, and all nestled among lemon groves and vineyards.  It is the City of Love.

Every time I go to Verona I fall a little more in love, and despite all the hoopla with Romeo & Juliet, I continue vowing to try and find a way a way to retire there.  I’ve enjoyed every time I’ve been there……

But then there was the last visit.

Arriving by train and beginning the trek from the Porta Nuova train station to the Piazza Bra is search of our hotel, we followed behind a little elderly couple.  In true Italian style, grandma, donned with a bonnet and apron, arm in the air clutching a wine bottle by the neck, was really letting her ‘I’m-zoned-out-because-I’m-used-to-this’ husband have a ‘what-for’.  We laughed, we were in Italy, and all was right with the world.

We arrived at our hotel to find out that we’d rented a room above a family-run restaurant.  No problem.  I had been practicing all 32 words that I knew in Italian and was determined to use them all.

“Buon Giorno!” I exclaimed in my most confident Italian to the gentleman who met us at the door.

“Hello!” he answered back.  ‘What?’ I thought? Let’s take another stab at this……

“Ho una prenotazione” (I have a reservation) I said boldly undeterred.

“Yes. Hello, you must be Janelle,” he again shot back in English.

“Seriously? I’m trying really hard here…is my Italian that bad?” I asked sheepishly.

“No, honey, it’s not your accent – it’s your shoes!  No Italian woman would ever be caught dead in a pair of hiking boots”, he laughed as he enjoyed teasing me and watching me make a fool of myself.

The thought that came to me was, ‘no American woman would be stupid enough to traipse over cobblestone streets with a backpack and fashionably matching high heels’, but rather than saying this out loud, I simply hung my head.

My new friend, Giovanni and I got along great for the rest of our time in Verona and we both enjoyed working on our language skills.

The next day was to be a full one and we were getting an early start.  We were headed out to Lake Garda for a day on the hydrofoil seeing the lemon groves and enjoying the beach.  I decided to sneak out and hit the ATM while the kids were getting dressed.  I tiptoed downstairs in the dark past all the sleeping residents and headed for the door.  So much for trying to be stealthy!  I was locked IN!  Evidently, the hotel had the same hours as the restaurant, so no one goes in or out during hours that the restaurant was closed.  Well, that wasn’t going to cut it as we had an early train to catch!

I noticed that grandma’s door was open, so in my most apologetic voice, I woke her up and asked if she could let me out.  I understand now why waking a sleeping dragon is not a great idea.  She stomped about in her robe looking for the key and scolded me in Italian with what I was sure was racial slurs against stupid American women.  She let me out, slammed the door and went back to bed.

Upon returning from the ATM, I found the door…you guessed it…locked.  Great!  First I’m locked in and now I’m locked out.  So much for be the good representative for America to a country that is not as impressed with us as we are!  I tried to knock, but that was futile.

I then got desperate as we had a train to catch and I didn’t know if the kids were even up.  I picked up some rocks, found the window to our room and began tossing stones hoping not to break any glass or get arrested.  The kids were dressed and ready to go, but then had to be informed that it was their turn to wake grandma up so they could leave.  I made sure that they had everything that we’d need for the day and considered taking all our belongings in case we were not welcomed back that evening.

We all eventually made it out alive, but missed the intended train and had to wait for a later one.  We enjoyed the lake, and ended up renting a paddle boat because our hydrofoil boat left without us.  I was a little disappointed, but a day spent at Lake Garda is always heaven on earth.

We enjoyed the rest of our time in Verona seeing all the sights and I had a good laugh at my teenaged son who just couldn’t bring himself to rub Juliet’s left breast for good luck.

I am planning another visit to Verona soon and am sure that I’ll love it as much as always.  This time I’ll see the lemon groves.  This time I’ll share the sunset in the Gusti Gardens with my husband.  This time I’ll take the Vespa tour through the countryside. But this time, however,  I’ll be wearing different shoes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For the Homepage of this Website, Click HERE, & remember to subscribe and leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you!

HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS WEBSITE CLICK HERE

LOW EXPECTATIONS

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We’ve done a fair number of excursions and organized tours as we’ve traveled, and here’s a few things to keep in mind when booking any tour, excursion or ‘adventure’ so as to control your expectations:
* It’s extremely hard to take a group of people anywhere to do anything that’s overly exciting or adventuresome, as people can be so difficult. The larger the group, the simpler the tour will be.
* The lower the price the less impressive the tour. Make sure that your expectations fall under the price tag.
* If there are several legs to the tour, then be prepared to spend time on the bus built in 1957

Here’s an example of what I mean by keeping your expectations low or at least realistic:

My best friend, Margaret and I were planning an Alaskan cruise together trying to take the opinions and wishes of all four of us into consideration as we set out to pick our excursions. It was my friend’s turn to choose what we were going to be doing in Juneau and she was very excited. She picked a whale watching excursion that involved seeing whales as well as a trip to Mendenhall Glacier.

At dinner the night after the Whale Experience, I asked Margaret what her favorite part of the day had been and she replied, “The Glacier. Definitely.”

I was surprised at her answer as it had been the whales that she had been so excited about.

Here’s what happened:
We took an enjoyable and informative bus ride with Richard the Comedian at the helm to where we met Captain Larry in his Can’t-Miss-It-Purple boat called the ‘Orca Odyssey’.

The tour description claimed that we would see:
* Sea lions, bald eagles and glaciers…..Which we did
* Mendenhall Glacier with a hike out to the glacier and waterfall to see them up close….Which we did
and
* Whales……Which we did!
We learned all about Humpback Whales and were told that we would probably only see one as they were solitary creatures. They winter in Hawaii where they have their calves and then migrate back to Alaska in spring where there is food. Not only did we see the expected solitary humpback, but we also saw a 2nd female with a baby! This, we were told, is rare in nature so it was a real treat to get to watch the 3 of them!

We also learned that whales have a progression that goes like this:
-First they BLOW and we see the spout
-Second they SURFACE exposing their backs
-Third they show off with the great TAIL SHOT
-Lastly they DIVE for about 20 minuets
And then the whole progression starts again……………………………

But Margaret was not impressed. Here’s why:

She imagined:
* Multiple Whales……. Which didn’t happen as Humpbacks are generally solitary
* Getting to see them up close swimming alongside the boat…….which doesn’t happen as Alaskan State Law requires all boats to stay at least 1000’ from any whale
* Seeing them fairly constantly…which didn’t happen due to the 20 minuet order-of-events that they have
* Seeing more of them as they jumped out of the water all around us……which…well… is really more of a dolphin thing

What is the moral of the story?

If your expectations are high (or unrealistic) you will mostly likely be disappointed, but keep your expectations low and you will probably be pleasantly surprised!

Sometime that advice can work for the rest of your life!

For the Homepage of this Website, Click HERE, & remember to subscribe and leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you!

HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS WEBSITE CLICK HERE

Welcome Teardrop Travel Lovers, Roadtrippers and Empty-Nesters……and Thanks for checking out my blog!  I am Janelle Brian. My husband Eddie and I are travel addicts from Colorado, and this is how we went from empty-nesters to teardrop lovers.13067392 (1)

We Cruise, we backpack Europe, and we especially enjoy seeing this big, diverse and wonderful country in our tiny trailer.

Eventually we decided that it was time to start sharing our experiences, mishaps and some of the travel hints and hacks we’ve learned out on the road.

Let me start with our personal story (I’ll try and keep it short!):

Dismantleing the camper (1)Like many Teardrop Travel Lovers & Roadtrippers, we took our time trying to decide which mode of travel would be best for our budget andcamper1 circumstances.  After seeing 5 kids fly the coop , Eddie and I are now ‘empty-nesters’ and have let go of the 5th wheel RV. We also sadly dismantled my dad’s homemade pop-up trailer.  It’s time now to be on our own!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe started with our experimental adventure to the rainforests of Washington State.  We packed up all the tent camping gear we had, and headed out in a rented Ford Fusion.  I doOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA carry some guilt for getting a used car salesman all excited when we went looking for a Fusion.  I can only imagine what he feared he had on his hands when we folded down the back seats and crawled into the trunk!  We had to explain that we wanted to see how sleeping in the car would work. We were considering some sort of a ‘bed-on-wheels’ to camp in.

Our time in the rainforest was perfect (and dry!). Sleeping in our rental car convinced us that we could get by with something really minimal.  We thought about converting a van, building something ourselves or maybe just putting a bed in our truck……and then we saw it.  A teardrop 20160313_150730trailer by Little Guy.  It had a queen sized bed and ample storage. There was also the ability to stand outside at a little ‘open-up’ kitchen in the rear.  It was truly ‘Love at First Sight’!  After some time and some serious searching to find a good used one (we decided against a new one), we finally found our first ‘Little Guy’ teardrop trailer.  It came complete with the “I Go Where I’m Towed To” sticker on the back.  I knew I’d never want another trailer.

We put over 25,000 miles on that first little trailer. It saw as much of the U.S. and Canada as our time and money would allow.  We got our ‘Set Up / Tear Down’ routine down to a science and I slept like a baby in our little nest.  At least, that is, until we found ourselves in Salem, MA.

Day 8 SALEM PORTSMOUTH(105)We were staying at the Winter Island RV Park in Salem.  After a full day in town we were strollingDay 8 SALEM FT MCCLARY(60) around camp enjoying the sights, and seeing who we could meet.  Eddie loves to meet new people and he  could visit with Day 9 SALEM (40)a stump.  So while I plan the next day’s events, he strolls.  On this occasion however, we were strolling together.  As I droned on about the Salem Witch Trials, Eddie stopped dead in his tracks, flung out his arm against my chest as if to protect me from sailing through some imaginary windshield and exclaimed, “WHAT IS THAT?!!!”

We found ourselves trespassing on another camper’s spot checking out his lovely T@B trailer. Although it was only 3’ longer than ours, one could stand up in it.  For the next 2 days Eddie literally stalked this camp sight waiting for the owner – who eventually did show up.  Not only did he not get out his shotgun, but Eddie’s new friend was excited to meet another teardrop owner! He came over to our site for a visit and to check out our rig.  After the grand tour of this gentleman’s T@B trailer, Eddie decided that we must indeed have one.  I was not so sure.P1030360

After we got home, Eddie began the search for our next teardrop trailer.  After several months of dedicated searching, LOTS of conversation (ok…probably nagging) and several thousand photos from a sales rep at the T@B factory in Ohio, Donny (the most patient rep ever) shipped us our gently-used-but-deeply-discounted T@B right to our door! (Read more about different types of trailers HERE).

Unloading was indeed a neighborhood event, and Eddie and I lived in our new trailer for the next 2 days.  I cried when the new owner of our first Little Guy drove off with our Logo: Eddie & Janelle with T@Bbaby in tow, but then I stepped back into our new home-away-from-home and I once again knew I’d never want another trailer!

Although this blog is primarily geared toward those on Road Trips with a tiny trailer, there will be tidbits for all travel enthusiasts.  We’ll tackle everything from choosing a trailer, to how to pack, how to plan a trip, what to eat, where to stay, how to preserve your memories, etc…etc… and just how to make the most of your travel.

I’ll also share info as we cruise and backpack across the World.

Stay with us as we share our tips, tricks, and experiences!

For the Homepage of this Website, Click HERE, & remember to subscribe and leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you!

HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS WEBSITE CLICK HERE

HAPPY TRAVELS!!

And then there was one……..

PICS & DRIPS

Love what rain and fog can do for your photography, and you’ll not be disappointed with ‘bad’ weather again!

In my mind’s eye, a picture flashed of Eddie & me swimming back to Denver fromcamping tents floating in pouring rain Mississippi with ropes clenched in our teeth and towing our ‘Little Guy’ trailer. I was contemplating our campsite while standing in shin deep water watching our cooking utensils, plastic plates, matches and a roll of soggy paper towels floating around.

It was barely sprinkling when we had arrived the evening before at the Natchez Trace RV Park in Tupelo and I chose the lowest spot in the park because it was next to the lake and it was pretty.  If you ever find yourself in an area at the tail end of a hurricane, the low spot nearest the lake might not be such a wise choice.  Just Saying……..

24 hours later, there we were fishing our campsite out of the water, dragging our trailer to an uphill spot and checking our legs for leeches. It had rained lightly all night and the whole time that we were out for the day seeing the Trail of Tears, a local battlefield and Elvis’s Boyhood home. We had no idea how hard it had come down back at our RV Park!  It took a little time to get all the wet stuff into the truck bed and the picnic tent into the dumpster (yep, the water actually bent the poles in half!), but after a trip to the local Subway for a sandwich-for-supper, we found ourselves all nestled into our teardrop trailer watching a movie on the computer, eating Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and discussing our day’s rainy sightseeing adventures and the fun we’d had taking pictures in the rain.

Up until that point I must to admit to having been a bit of a ‘fair weather’ traveler and had always considered rain something that ruined a day.  Then I took up photography which altered my point of view!  Since then I have come to enjoy rainy days on the road and have realized that weather makes everything more interesting (all weather but wind of course…I’m still working on that).  We’ve learned to stay prepared with rain ponchos, inside options of things to do and good attitudes.  We’ve discovered things that we wouldn’t have seen in sunny weather and had experiences that we might have missed otherwise.

Mostly, though, we have learned to love what rain and fog can do with our photos and I hope that you enjoy a few that I’ve taken in the Rain, Fog & Mist.

We work hard at knowing what settings are best for fog and mist and look for unique angles, lighting and subjects that are appropriate for the conditions.  Here’s a few suggestions to try on your next not-so-sunny day:

*Check out the ‘low key’ setting on your camera.  This setting can make some eerie, gloomy and very cool photos.

*Cut a hole in a baggie and make a rain coat for your camera (you can purchase real ones for the SLR cameras).

*Experiment with Black & White photos.

*Look for rain-created features to take advantage of, such as: puddles and their reflections, close ups of raindrops, water drops on flower petals or other interesting surfaces.

*Look up and make the most of cloud formations – especially at dusk or as the sun is coming back out.

*Catch people dealing with being in the rain.

*Try using a tripod in lower light conditions.  I like my little Gorilla as it’s portable and I can set it anywhere – or even wrap it around a tree branch! I also like to use the timer when its on the tripod to try and avoid blurry shots.

*Wait to see if the sun peeks through….everything is so beautiful and colors are so vibrant when it’s wet.

And Mostly,

*Don’t ever let the weather discourage you from exploring, experiencing, learning, singing, dancing or taking pictures in the RAIN!!!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In addition to making the most of the weather, keep in mind your Basic Composition Tips!

For the Homepage of this Website, Click HERE, & remember to subscribe and leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you!

HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS WEBSITE CLICK HERE

INTRODUCTION TO: MEMORIES

Celtic crosses at Riverside Cemetery in Asheville, NC

The importance of preserving our memories became quite clear when we decided to visit the Riverside Cemetery in Asheville, NC early in the evening.

I have always enjoyed old cemeteries. And Riverside is especially beautiful with its green rolling hills, old Spanish Oak trees and lovely monuments. I remember seeing so many interesting graves. There were Confederate generals, some WW1-POW’s, governors, congressmen, authors and even a body guard to President Lincoln!  I so enjoyed my time there learning so many stories about those who remain. was a highlight of this trip to the Deep South.

Do you know what Eddie remembers?

He remembers standing on the other side of the gate.  He was trying to convince the night watchman (who was trying to lock up the large metal gate and close the grounds for the night) that I really didn’t want to spend the night in a cemetery.

Granted, when I hollered at him that I was, “right behind you” I probably should have been. But seriously, Eddie knew that I could scale almost any fence, and this little moment in time should not be all he remembers from this beautiful cemetery!

 I decided right then to upgrade my camera and make Shutterfly (the online photo album company that I use) my new best friend.

I can’t count the times that we’ve reminisced about something we did or somewhere we visited and had very different memories or conflicting details.  It has become very important to me that we preserve all of our memories the best way we can.

(as a side note, photography has become a hobby that is so much fun, I’ve started selling some of my pictures with Adobe Stock!  You can see some of my published pieces HERE )  

In this category you will find lots of hints and advice on getting the best photos using a simple camera (you professional photographers are on your own!), as well as putting together great online albums.  You’ll also find ideas to preserve your memories through other creative ways to celebrate the places and things that you’ve been blessed to see and do!

Read HERE on how to make the most of your Compact Camera.
Read HERE to see some other ways to preserve your memories!

****************************

HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS WEBSITE CLICK: HERE

For the Homepage of this Website, Click HERE, & remember to subscribe and leave a comment. 
(I’d love to hear from you and how you preserve your memories!)

**************************

 

 

WESTERN MUSEUM OF MINING AND INDUSTRY: Exit 156

 

Traveling along I-25 South of Denver, you will pass by the: Western Museum of Mining and Industry, open since 1970.

 It is located at Exit 156 and is just North of Colorado Springs.

What a great place to get out and stretch your legs!  It is free to walk around the grounds, see some mining equipment, buildings and read about the industry.

You’ll learn how the mining industry works at restoring an area after a mine closes as well as the steps that are taken to protect the environment and safeguard the water.  Here on the Mining Museum grounds, you can learn the details of those things as well as learn how mining affects us today.

In addition, for a small fee (and a little extra time), you may visit the library & museum which is full of the mining equipment that they will turn on and run for you.

Definitely worth the few minuets that it takes to see the museum and it’s also a great place for lunch as there are picnic tables set up for your use!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

To use the “20 min in Colorado” Category, read HERE

For the Homepage of this Website, Click HERE, & remember to subscribe and leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you!

HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS WEBSITE CLICK HERE

CRUISE PORTS: Vancouver

Whenever Eddie and I take a cruise, we try and make the most of our time in the cruise port city that we find ourselves in before we board our ship.

For my first (and Eddie’s second) cruise we left from Vancouver to cruise to Alaska.
Vancouver turned out to be a great place to visit and its definitely worth a trip back! It’s a beautiful city that’s full of history, natural beauty and provides many different types of things to see and do!

We spent 2 days there and followed our normal, ‘narrow down the sights’ routine.

Our criteria of places to visit includes sites:
*that we choose independently due to having a current interest in
*that exposes us to some local history
*that helps us experience some local culture
*that allows us to ‘get back to nature’ – especially if it’s scenery that we don’t have at home
*where I can find a refrigerator magnet (which are the souvenirs that I collect as they are cheap, lightweight and go onto my refrigerator instead of into a drawer somewhere!)

Here’s how our mini-vacation time in Vancouver played out:

First, we decided to upgrade our rental car from ‘cheap economy option’ to a BMW 750. Our budget instantly went over by about $300, but being Eddie is such a car fanatic, he decided that the car would be his excursion. This satisfied Eddie’s ‘Current Interest’ site and although he had a great time with his extensive test drive, the car museum would have been cheaper and saved me from the near heart attack………

We then headed to Stanley Park for a lovely drive through the forest where we saw a lighthouse and a group of totem poles. We learned that the Brockton Point Totem Poles are Vancouver’s #1 Tourist sight! I’m a little confused by that and would have to disagree, but they are worth seeing. The originals, carved in the 1880’s, are now in multiple museums and the fairly recent replicas that are there are beautiful. Local History Site…….check!

We hung out at some of the local beaches including the Spanish Banks, Jericho Beach and Kitsilano. Our friends who were with us are originally from Florida, so even though it’s hard to impress them with beaches, we landlocked landlubbers enjoyed the lovely beaches and just ‘hangin’ out’ very much! Local Culture………done!

From there it was off (really off in our BMW) to the Lynn Canyon Park and Suspension Bridge. What a beautiful place! We took a hike through the rainforest and walked over the very high, very wobbly wood slat-and-rope Suspension Bridge. All four of us have issues with heights, so I’m proud to say that I actually stopped on the bridge, let go of the rope sides and took some pictures looking down onto the stunning waterfall below! Get Back to Nature…..…accomplished!

We also spent some time on Granville Island doing some shopping (mostly the window type) where I got some wonderful local wine and my Refrigerator Magnet. Granville Island is a great place if shopping is on your itinerary, and you can drive there. There are also some awesome restaurants on the island that specialize in local seafood. Some are a little pricey, but the food and the view are well worth the added expense!

The area right near the cruise dock (which is called Canada Place), there is a place to watch the local goings-on as well as the planes flying in and out of the Vancouver Harbor Flight Center Seaplane School. While there we strolled the lovely Waterfront Walk enjoying a quiet evening and some ice cream.

We had an awesome time in Vancouver!

We stayed near the waterfront and enjoyed local Italian and Asian restaurants. We had Italian cuisine at Tavola, which was wonderful with both great food and great service. Our Asian choice was the Dynasty Dumpling House which was busy for a reason.  Always trust where the locals gather!  The food was different than anything we’ve tried before, (probably because it was authentic) and we had to have the folks at the next table interpret the menu for us.

I’ll be sharing information about other cruise port cities in future posts, and would love to hear about the things that you’ve done while waiting on a ship!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Next time you are catching a cruise ship, make sure to make the most of where you board and disembark!

To Get to the Homepage of this Website, Click HERE and don’t forget to subscribe and leave a comment!

HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS WEBSITE CLICK HERE

 

INTRODUCTION TO: 20 Min In Colorado

We love our state and would love to have you visit!

For a ‘20 min in Colorado’ stop, you’ll generally find a place for a picnic, a restroom and something to see!

I live in the beautiful state of Colorado and I am blessed.  However, I guess I’ve taken my state for granted.  I am guilty of the, ‘I can go see that anytime’ attitude about local things to experience here. Because I am a native, it’s easy to assume I’ve exhausted most of the ‘must sees’ in my beautiful state.  I have been however, mistaken.

I have been challenged with learning about the little places to see and quick things to do in Colorado. So now I am enjoying taking the little path. I’m exploring and seeking out the quirky things that you probably won’t find in a guidebook. The right-off-the-highway places where it’s possible to pull off, stretch your legs, have lunch, or just enjoy a quick photo op.  I’ll be sharing my discoveries with you as we go. I decided to create this category on my website called, ‘20 minutes in Colorado’ for just that purpose.  These places won’t take long, and you probably wouldn’t have noticed these spots in a guide book. If you did, they probably wouldn’t be worth making a special effort to see.

I want to challenge you, too, as you grow, learn and master the art of the road trip, not to neglect the wonderful things to see and do right in your own state!  Your little trailer will take you down the road as easily as across the country and every place is a blessing (some more than others of course….).

There are three main interstate highways that go through Colorado, so if you are just passing through (or traveling here as a destination), you will most likely find yourself on one of them.  Even if you didn’t plan an excursion, we’d love to have you stop along the way and enjoy the view!  Those interstates are: I-25 (N&S); I-70 (E&W); and I-285 (S).

I’ve separated these posts into sub-categories by highway name, so that if you find yourself along one of our beautiful stretches of highway you can look up a quick ‘where can we stop?’ option.  The categories are oriented from Denver.

Please enjoy a quick stop in ‘Colorful Colorado’!

Mountain road in Colorado leading into snow capped mountains

 

Read HERE for some great tips and things to consider as you begin your travel plans!

For the Homepage of this Website, Click HERE, & remember to subscribe and leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you!

To use the “20 min in Colorado” Category, read HERE

HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS WEBSITE CLICK HERE

 

WIGGLE ROOM

Out on the road, Eddie and I have learned a few lessons about the importance of really knowing and understanding each other and being respectful of our different ‘travel styles’.

Before starting to really travel together, Eddie looked at a few of the itineraries that I had done before we were married and admitted to me that he wasn’t sure he wanted us to keep that same kind of pace.

Not knowing if I’d ever be back to any given destination, I have always set out to do and see as much as possible on a trip. If the need arises to just get away, relax and take in some beautiful scenery, then I’d rather save the time and money and stay near home – because….well…… we live in Colorado!

P1090523I have had to learn, however that not everyone thinks like I do, or shares my travel style!

In an effort to be respectful to that fact, when Eddie and I headed to Grand Junction in our original Little Guy trailer, I planned our first day with only a short hike to the Mica Mine (which is SO cool) and a visit to the Colorado Monument.

P1090452
Bang’s Canyon
P1090495
Mica mine Rose quartz

By 2:30 pm we were finished for the day and I was proud of the ‘down time’ that I had worked into our day. Our ‘down time’ lasted about 22 ½ minutes before Eddie asked, “So…was there anything else you had wanted to do today?” Eddie met with the scowl on my face and then proceeded to take a walk around the campground. Before supper he had met nearly every other camper parked anywhere near us and had going a nice, roaring fire (in the 90° afternoon sun).

What did I learn? I learned that Eddie doesn’t need ‘down time’, he needs ‘wiggle room’! Wiggle room is time built into our day that allows for meeting new people, having drinks or a meal with new friends on the road and time to hear other people’s stories!

It also means time for unexpected events in our day……

Denver is kind of an ‘oasis in the desert’, so the first and last days of any road trip for us, are rather long (and sometimes dull) as we make our way along very open and endless stretches of highway. I’m always looking for something to see along the way.

Days 18-19 COMING HOME (72)On one September trip heading back from Virginia, we found ourselves in the beautiful state of Kentucky, and I was not ready to be done with our trip. I realized that we were driving (nearly) right through Louisville, and suggested that we should stop there, have lunch and take a quick peek at the Churchill Downs Racetrack. Because Eddie just loves these little jaunts through unfamiliar towns pulling a trailer and not knowing if parking (and parking fees!) are going to be more hassle than the side trip is worth, and knowing that that part of the excursion is his problem, he stared forward and turned up the music. I didn’t give up and we found ourselves in the very large parking lot of Churchill Downs – home of the Kentucky Derby!Days 18-19 COMING HOME (58)

For $3 each, we were allowed in to just take a few pictures and see the place. We roamed around a little, took a few pictures, watched a time trial, admired a few of the many beautiful horses and proceeded then to find somewhere to eat. Deciding against the $50 a plate buffet, we made our way to the snack bar for a sandwich. We got talking with Angela, who was working the counter, and expressed a desire to come back for more concentrated time. Before she finished with our order, she looked around, took off her apron and asked, “do you guys have a little time?”

20150926_130036

We did get some lunch, but not before we spent the next 90 minutes getting a history lesson and guided tour of the Churchill Downs that even included a VIP trip into the ‘Millionaires Row’ (where we would never have been allowed to go unaccompanied). We even got an ‘off limits to the public’ view from the roof to see the famous spires up close. What an incredible, wonderful and unexpected experience! When Angela finished off our little random tour with a set of engraved souvenir glasses, we knew that we’d never again schedule a day without ‘Wiggle Room’!

Days 18-19 COMING HOME (6)

For the Homepage of this Website, Click HERE, & remember to subscribe and leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you!

HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS WEBSITE CLICK HERE

KEEP CALM & ELTON JOHN (Savannah, GA)

Everything happens for a reason. Really. And I’ve learned never to be disappointed when things don’t go according to plan.

It was in fall and we were enjoying Savannah, GA – which had been on our bucket list to visit for some time. We ended up doing a whole ‘tour of the deep south’ on that trip, but Savannah was indeed the highlight. It was every bit as beautiful as I’d imagined! Natural beauty, really friendly people, great food, great history, the best cemetery in the country (yes I love visiting cemeteries) and lots of ghosts. And we had done our homework! We’d watched Gone With the Wind and I had read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. That was a crazy book! It was all about Savannah and the one-of-a-kind real characters that had lived there (and ones that still do). A definite recommendation, but don’t rent the movie…it’s terrible.

We had spent the day prior seeing Ft Pulaski and Ft Jackson (where we’d learned to load and fire a musket) and eating seafood on Tybee Island. On this day we had walked the Riverwalk and were making our way around the 24 Savannah Squares. We learned that each of the Savannah Squares, designed by Utopian James Oglethorpe while he was governor of the colony of Georgia between 1733 and 1743, was an independent little town able to be duplicated as the colony grew. It was all fascinating but Eddie seemed preoccupied.

Eddie’s problem was this. That morning as we were getting ready to leave for our ‘day among the Squares’ we noticed that there was a large hole near the entrance to the horse-farm-turned-campground where we were staying. We were not sure how it got there, but Eddie was determined not to make it our truck’s final resting place. He had done a great job maneuvering around the crater, but somehow managed to drive right over the (giant) fallen metal sign that had been warning about the hole. We had successfully driven to the Savannah visitor’s center and had parked there, but Eddie was seriously stressed about whether he’d popped a tire on our truck.

To put his mind at ease, we decided to walk back to the visitor’s center and check the tire before any tire shop that might be available would be closed.

We took a shortcut which led us past the Savannah Convention Center where there was a lot of commotion going on. We stopped to ask a young man who was guarding the caravan of buses and trucks what was going on, and he answered with a nonchalant, “Uh…somebody named Elton John.”

ELTON JOHN!

I lost my mind a little……or may be a lot…. (yes, I have been a crazed fan since the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album came out when I was 13). Eddie knew that our plans for the evening had just changed.

We went inside to inquire about any remaining tickets. Finding out that although the concert was sold out, they were adding a few more chairs on the floor (THE FLOOR!!!). I was jumping around like a little kid while Eddie was trying to explain (ok, excuse) my behavior to the two ladies in the ticket booth. These ladies were somewhat listening but mostly glancing at each other with their eyes rolled back into their heads. One of our new friends finally responded with, “Uh Huh…”. Apparently in the Deep South, it takes about 16 syllables to pronounce the word, ‘Uh huh’. I made a note of that new piece of information and we were off.

We finished our time seeing Forsythe Park and checking the truck tires and we were off to McDonald’s for a quick bite before the concert. While we were there, a couple (who were also Elton fans) joined us at our table. After some time of visiting, our new friend shared with us that she was a cousin to Joe Odom. Joe was one of the real-life, crazy characters from the book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. ‘Of course you are’, I thought. ‘You and everyone else in Savannah’. Her husband finally (at least nearly) convinced us of her story and we had a great time talking, laughing and telling tales.

The concert was fantastic! We sang really loud, and as the Convention Center is small and informal, we knew everyone who was sitting anywhere near us by the end of the night.  It was the most fun I’d had seeing Elton to date.

P1030409

We turned in that night well after midnight, tired, happy and knowing that if Eddie hadn’t run over that sign, we’d have never seen Elton or met Joe Odom’s cousin. Yep, everything happens for a reason and the truck tires were just fine………..

For the Homepage of this Website, Click HERE, & remember to subscribe and leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you!

HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS WEBSITE CLICK HERE

BUDGETING MEMORIES

travel-meme-life-me1.jpgFor me, it seems that the best memories that I take home from a trip are usually the ones that are unplanned.  Therefore, I now always include an allowance in the budget for the unplanned-but-just-can’t-miss-it-moments or experiences.

Here’s how that started:

Years ago I was traveling with two of my kiddos (Jeff and Holly) when we found ourselves in a dark alley in the maze that is Venice, Italy.

Ahhhh…Bella Venezia……………! (If you’ve never been to Venice, I would definitely recommend putting that on your ‘bucket list’ as there’s nowhere else in the world quite like Venice!)

Anyway, it was nighttime and we had just arrived.  We were on the hunt for our hotel when I found my kids with their noses pressed to the window of a then-closed costume shop that featured 16th & 17th century clothing, complete with powdered wigs and all.  They made me promise to come back the next day when the shop was open to take a look.  As any good mom would, I gave in to the pleadings of my offspring and we were again off to find our hotel.

The next day found us once again navigating the maze of Venice’s streets, looking for the little costume shop.  After many offers of rides from gondoliers, a few times asking, “haven’t we already been here?” and more gelato that we really needed, we finally found the little shop that I’ll call, Paola’s Place (mostly because Paola was the owner and I can’t remember the name of the shop).

The costumes that we admired ranged in price from about $2,000-$4,000 dollars and rented for about $350/day during the Venice Carnevale celebration that happens each year in February.  I’m not sure what the kids were thinking would happen here, but the next thing I know they had talked Paola into letting us rent costumes for just an hour and negotiated a price of $25 for each of us.

At that time I was pinching every penny and I’d not budgeted the extra $75, which seemed like a fortune, but this was just too much fun to pass up and I dug out the emergency visa.  After all, who can resist being Marie Antoinette or Casanova for a day!

We spent a fair amount of time getting into the costumes, but the kids were pros!  These two had worked at the Colorado Renaissance Festival for years and had their own get-ups already.  That would have been good information to have mentioned to poor Paola – who just knew that her English was failing her when Jeff said that he wore tights every weekend.  Her expression was truly memorable!

We spent considerably more time than had been allotted (with Paola’s permission of course) just walking around town in costume waving at tourists going by in gondolas, taking pictures with babies, signing autographs, posing with families on vacation and saying, “Bon Giorno” a lot.  We were in our element.  That afternoon turned out to be one of the highlights of that trip, and even though it was not in the budget, it was truly one of the best ‘memory investments’ I’ve ever made!

R1-04187-0003_0001

It was also the last time that I planned for a trip without leaving a ‘Memories In the Making’ line-item in the budget!

For the Homepage of this Website, Click HERE, & remember to subscribe and leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you!

HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS WEBSITE CLICK HERE

USING THE ‘FUN FACTS’ CATEGORY

Here in the ‘Fun Facts’ Category, I’ll be sharing information blogs in four areas of interest:  History; Landscapes; Art & Architecture; and Religion.  The blogs are each presented in a ‘bullet point’ style, designed to give you just a few pieces of information about things that you might see or do on a road trip in America.

These tidbits will either:

help you get the most of your visits, (if you don’t need too much to be satisfied)

or

whet your appetite for more information (about the things that you find really interesting and want to know more about).

Either way, you’ll discover more about yourself and where your interests lie.

i6

I have divided the country into 9 Regions to help you easily find information for the area you are currently interested in.  (You may read more about each region in the intro to the category on this site called The U.S. in 9 Regions). Here are the states (and other areas) in each Region:
REGION 1: NEW EUROPE
Maine * New Brunswick * Nova Scotia * Province of Québec
 REGION 2: NEW ENGLAND AND THE ORIGINAL COLONIES
Virginia * New York * Massachusetts * Maryland / Washington D.C. * Rhode Island * Connecticut * New Hampshire * Delaware * North Carolina * South Carolina * New Jersey * Pennsylvania * Georgia Vermont
REGION 3: THE DEEP SOUTH
Florida * Alabama* Mississippi Louisiana * Arkansas
REGION 4: BLUE GRASS COUNTRY
Kentucky * Tennessee * Ohio * West Virginia
REGION 5: THE BREADBASKET
Oklahoma * Missouri * Nebraska * Kansas * Iowa
REGION 6: THE GREAT LAKES
Michigan * Indiana * Wisconsin * Minnesota * Illinois
 REGION 7: THE OLD WEST
North Dakota * South Dakota * Wyoming * Montana * Colorado * Nevada
REGION 8: THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST
Washington * Oregon * Idaho * Northern California
REGION 9: THE SOUTHWEST
Central & Southern California * Texas * Arizona * Utah * New Mexico

********************

Once you’ve determined the Region that you will be traveling in, look up info for that Region in each of the 4 ‘Fun Facts’ Categories.

********************

Here’s how the Information Bullet Points Blogs are structured:

 1). History

 2). Landscapes

3). Architecture & Art

4). Religion

*********************

 1). Information Bullet Points: History

For the History section, the 9 Regions are divided into 9 Blogs: 1 History Blog for each Region.  Each region has an historical ‘heyday’- a place in time that gives this region its personality and identity. The Bullet Points of Information that you will find here will keep to that time period. The most significant pieces of information for a Region’s ‘heyday’ are called ‘Focused Events’.

For each of the 9 Regional Blogs in the History section you will find:

*A general summary of the region

*A general historical timeline of the region’s Focused Events

*A timeline of Focused Events for each state in the region

*A list of a few significant regional events called ‘What’s Happened Since”

i2

2). Information Bullet Points: Landscapes

In the Landscape section I have listed 9 different types of landscapes that are the most obvious with a Blog for each type of landscape.

Each landscape blog will give you a few pieces of information in Bullet Point style to help you enjoy the natural surroundings that you find yourself in.

i3

3): Information Bullet Points: Architecture & Art

This Architecture & Art section is structured by architectural features.  As you stand in front of a building, home or other structure, you will note features which will help you to identify the style that you are looking at.  For instance, if what you are seeing has a symmetrical design, a steep roof, a massive central chimney and small windows, you are probably looking at a Colonial Period style structure.

Having then identified those features, you then look at some Bullet Points of Information and learn a little about that period’s politics, economy, style, etc.. as well as its artists, art styles, music and literature.

i4

4): Information Bullet Points: Religion

The United States has been greatly influenced by the various religious groups that have come here seeking their idea of religious freedom.  These groups have forged our laws and molded our beliefs, standards and the identities of the areas that they settled in.

This section is organized by the 9 Regions of the U.S. and will cover the various religious groups that settled in each Region. You will be introduced to their beliefs and practices, which can help you to understand their influence and significance.

i5

These bits of information in the ‘Fun Facts category will help what you are seeing or doing really come to life.

Each Category Drop Down Box has its own INTRO for that Category. Make sure to read that first!

Enjoy and have fun learning!

FF

HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS WEBSITE CLICK HERE

 

 

 

 

COASTLINES

We spent some time at the beaches of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.  Eddie was learning his new camera and I just wanted some time to contemplate coastlines.  Yes, coastlines.  I was beginning to write about interesting and educational ‘Bullet Points’ of information about coastlines.  As I was pondering the gravitational pull of the moon on the waves of the ocean I began having this simple ‘father-daughter’ moment with God.  I had so many questions about how the oceans were formed and how they function.

As I was considering all that I had read and learned, and as I was asking so many ‘how and why’ questions, I felt God’s hand on my shoulder and that still, small voice saying, “Shhhhhhh. Just listen. Just be here. Be present. Be amazed at the beauty you see.  Know me better. Understand that things work as they do because I said, ‘Let there be…and there was’…. and that’s enough.”

Second Beach (53).JPG

For now, when you find yourself at the coast…Just listen….just be present in the moment.

For the Homepage of this Website, Click HERE, & remember to subscribe and leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you!

HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS WEBSITE CLICK HERE

BEING CLAY

 

It seems like funerals always bring us to the ‘what’s really important’ questions in our lives.  Eddie & I recently attended a Celebration of Life service for a friend that had to have been one of the most uplifting, real and inspiring ones we’ve attended to date.  As we reflected and talked over the ‘we-need-to-stop-for-ice-cream’ stop that followed the service many questions came up.

“What do I want to be remembered for?”

“What legacy do I want to leave?”

“What do I want my children to remember most about me?”

“What will allow me to get to hear, ‘Well Done My Good and Faithful Servant’ as I pass into the next life?”

“Will anyone actually show up for my service?” (I’m not kidding here…I attended a service once where no one except the husband, children, preacher, pianist and 3 friends (that included me) came.  It was the saddest thing I’d ever seen!)

Here’s what I decided that I wanted to be remembered for:

*I want to have loved my husband, children, grandchildren, family and friends well.

*I want to have traveled through this life as much in the center of God’s Will as I could have been.

*I want my life to reflect my relationship with my Lord more than my words.

*I want to have gotten to know God and experienced a deeper relationship with Him through travel.  I want to have seen His endless creative side in Nature, His timeless patience and omniscience through History, The extension of Himself that He gives us through the Art & Architecture that His children create, and His overwhelming Love that pulls it all together.

Most of all, I want to always be Clay in His hands.  Always willing to grow, to learn, to be corrected, to be challenged and be always in the process of being molded into the woman He wants me to be – molded into His image.

 

For the Homepage of this Website, Click HERE, & remember to subscribe and leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you!

HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS WEBSITE CLICK HERE

BACKSTORY OF THE BULLET POINTS

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Its all about the Bullet Points!

How it got started:

It was September and we were at the Ft. Smith National Historical Site.  Eddie was taking pictures, but not of the exhibits and the things we were learning about.  He was photographing the informational signs located at each exhibit.  Getting into Eddie’s head and trying to understand what he is thinking/doing is a lot of work for me, so I once again asked the bewildered question, “Honey…what exactly are you doing?”

What Eddie explained to me was that, as this was our last day of the ‘Deep South Tour’ (yes, I always name our trips), he was intellectually fried.  Information overload had taken its toll and we were no longer retaining much of anything.  We’d studied so much!  So much, including the Civil War, the War of 1812, the Trail of Tears, lives of alligators and the childhood of Elvis.  Yep. We were spent. And Eddie decided he would refer back to his photos to learn information as his brain cleared.

“Why is it that we can’t just get a few pieces of interesting information about the things we see as we travel instead of having to digest these novels?  They often lose my interest before I even finish!”, Eddie had explained.  “I want bullet points of information that are easy and quick to read that I’ll retain!”

And Bullet Points were born:

That conversation led me to create the ‘Bullet Points of American History’ Shutterfly Photobook that we now carry with us on trips.  Short, quick, to the point, interesting and easily retain-able tidbits of information.  It has also sparked the idea for a section in the book I’m writing, called ‘Bullet Points of Information’.

I’ll be sharing information with you about history, landscapes, religion, art and architecture in a bullet point style. They are designed to give you just a few pieces of information about things that you will potentially see and do on a road trip in America.  Either these tidbits will help you get the most of your visits – if you don’t need too much to be satisfied – or whet your appetite for more about the things that you find really interesting.  Either way, you’ll discover more about yourself and where your interests lie.  Stay tuned!

You’ll find these bullet points in the category called “FUN FACTS” on website’s homepage!

To visit our homepage click HERE, and don’t forget to subscribe and leave a comment!

If you want to go straight to the “Fun Facts” category to see what the bullet points are all about, start HERE!

YEP, YOU GOTTA EAT

Yep you gotta eat.  And travel creates the challenge of not only sticking to a healthy eating routine, but also respecting the time and expense plans that you have made.

When it comes to really blowing the budget, the 2 areas that are the biggest culprits, (at least for us), are fuel and food.

download

With the fuel there’s not much that you can do (you have to get home after all), except to make sure that you have figured fuel mileage accurately, and have correctly anticipated the number of miles that you’re actually going to travel (but that’s for another post).

With food, despite the fact that you still gotta eat and there is a lot of room to over-spend (especially if you go out often), there are still  lots of ways to compensate and cut back.

Organizing and meal planning is all about options and I’ll be sharing ideas and recipes for you (if you enjoy cooking while on the road and want to spend time with it), as well as quick and easy ideas if you just need to ‘fill a void’ on a busy day.  Bear in mind that your health still matters, and being on vacation is no excuse to stock up on junk!  Click HERE for more on health on the road. 

I will also be sharing recipes and ideas that fit into the ‘phases’ of your trip.  If you bring most of your food from home, you’ll really need to plan so that things don’t go bad, but you’ll save a lot of money!  I generally plan strategically for when we’ll hit the grocery store. Here’s the plan that I use:

A). Respect the Phase of your trip that you are in:
  • 1st Phase (Days 1-4): Serve things that you have packed that are raw and/or initially frozen or marinated (chicken, steaks, veggies etc…)
  • 2nd Phase (Days 5-7): Serve things that are precooked and initially frozen (precooked hamburger for tacos, marinated chicken etc..).
  • 3rd Phase (Days 8-12): Serve things that come in boxes, cans or that your butcher has freeze-dried or dehydrated.   Even if you don’t choose to use ‘Phase 3’ meals, it’s nice to have a few options on hand in case your trip went over-budget and you want to compensate, or, if you got stuck overnight in the middle of Oklahoma with no stores or restaurants in sight (again-that is another post!).
  • 81pNG9BkJzL._SX522_4th Phase (Days 13-end of trip): Hit the grocery store.
B). Know the next day’s plan:

I usually pre-plan all meals as I design the itinerary before the start of the trip.  That way I can plan best and make the most use of leftovers. (For instance, an evening’s grilled Ham steak can make great leftovers for cold sandwiches on the road the next day).

Obviously, each day on a road trip is unique and it’s important to have an assortment of meals ideas for the details surrounding each meal.

Here’s what I mean:

      For Breakfast you might have time to sleep in, make a full breakfast and have time for clean up.  You’ll probably choose pancakes and bacon and juice.  You might, however be tearing down camp and hitting the road early, so you don’t have time to cook and wash dishes, etc.  Then you might choose pre-made (nutritious) breakfast cookies and some beef jerky.

You get the idea…….

Recipes & Meal Ideas will come with meal detail specifics.  Here are the Blogs in this Category that you will find:

1). QUICK BREAKFASTS ON T71oTc+hz-LL._SX425_HE GO

2). FAST BREAKFASTS AT CAMP

3). LEISURELY BREAKFASTS AT CAMP

4). PICNIC LUNCHES ON THE ROAD

5). LUNCHES AT CAMP

6). LEISURELY SUPPERS AT CAMP

7). LATE ARRIVAL CAMP SUPPERS

8). SNACKS, DESSERTS & MISC

9). HACKS FOR MEALS AND MEAL PLANNING

There will be lots of recipes and meal prep ideas and hacks as we go, so stay with me!  Everything I share will be tested on the road – so you don’t need to worry if those online ideas will really work.funny-camping-quotes

Another important thing regarding meal planning is to pre-decide how you are going to handle your food budget.  Personally, I am one who plans every meal and only goes out if the food is an excursion in itself (who can go to Chicago and not have Chicago dogs on Navy Pier; go to NYC and not eat in Little Italy; or not have Chinese food from Chinatown in San Francisco?).  I also plan on fast food for the road on the last day going home, because we’re on the road all day and there’s no food left that’s good anyway.  Those meals are budgeted for, and we stick to a very strict meal plan. But, other than the exceptions mentioned, food is not why I travel.

myles-tan-103380-1170x780

You however, might be completely different!  We have friends who are serious ‘foodies’ and their reason for traveling IS the food, so they eat out strategically nearly every meal and budget accordingly.  We also have  friends that feel that keeping a strict food budget is like saying that they are not financially comfortable enough to not have to worry about the cost of eating out on vacation, and don’t keep track at all.  Most people though, fall into the middle somewhere or just sort of ‘wing it’.  It’s vital that you determine where you fall on the scale and how much you are planning to spend on food.    However you plan, just make sure that you don’t come back with regrets or feeling like you won’t be taking another trip again any time soon because it cost so much more than you had anticipated!

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!
I’d Love your input!  Please share tested recipes, ideas, hints and hacks that have worked for you (and include photos if you’d like).  These blogs are ongoing and will be updated regularly.  Click HERE to contact me! 

HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS WEBSITE CLICK HERE

Check out these sites for more tips on Healthy Travel:

How to Eat Healthy on the Road

A Guide to a Healthy Road Trip

Road Rules for Healthy Eating

 

ART, ARCHITECTURE & FLYING MONKEYS (Burlington, VT)

We crossed the New York state line with our ‘Little Guy’ trailer in tow. We were crossing the Burlington-Port Kent Bridge into Vermont right over the top of Lake Champlain. Eddie was admiring the lake (he has a little romance going on with all large bodies of water), and although I was concerned about his driving, I was still checking my itinerary and getting ready to spend the day in Burlington, VT. Day 7 BURLINGTON (55)

 

I was strangely excited about seeing the ‘Flying Monkeys of Burlington’ and had my map ready to track them all! Eddie was about as excited to see them as he’d been to see the ‘Twilight’ sights in Forks WA. (That little venture scored about a 1.5 on a 1-10 scale, but I was undeterred).  Locating all of these ‘Flying Monkeys’ (who had all landed on tops of local buildings) left us feeling a little like we’d just been on the set of The Wizard of Oz! They also gave us a thorough tour of downtown Burlington. We learned a great deal about the town’s buildings and their history, as well as some local art.

Although I’ll leave it to you to learn about Burlington’s ‘Flying Monkeys’ – which you can find easily online – I genuinely feel that to really experience a place, one needs to understand its past as well as its present. Its homes, churches, art and buildings tell the stories.

I think that it’s important to be able to identify at least some of the basic architectural features of the buildings, homes or churches that you’ll be coming across in your travels.  Identifying these styles will help you put these structures, works of art and sculptures into their place on history’s timeline.  They can also help you to understand why things look like they do and what was going on at the time of their construction or creation.

Stay with me as we detail and learn a little about specific art and architectural styles in future posts!Day 7 BURLINGTON (54)

For the Homepage of this Website, Click HERE, & remember to subscribe and leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you!

HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS WEBSITE CLICK HERE

 

GUNS, BRITS & GETTIN’ HISTORY RIGHT

For our first cruise to the Western Caribbean, I decided that I wanted to do a little research in order to get history right. I also wanted to make the most out of the places we were going to see.  Wow!  As much as I love history however, reading online novels about Jamaica, Cozumel etc. was more than my A.D.D. brain wanted to do.  I gave up the project and decided to just trust the tour guides (which is a subject for another post…).

P1060164

On the cruise however, we met an older, wonderful little couple with whom we shared a lot of laughs.  They were from a small (and clearly sheltered) town in the south of Great Britain.  When we shared that we were from Colorado, our new friends got very excited.  They were fascinated that we ‘out there in the Wild Wild West’ didn’t have cars and still rode horses!  They also seriously challenged us on the wisdom of carrying pistols. This lovely couple had so many questions about how things worked with everyone carrying around firearms.  After a good many laughs (and embellished stories) we finally became convinced that they weren’t actually joking. We decided that we needed to (albeit reluctantly) set the record straight.

After that, I did commit to actually doing research for our future trips. I needed to make sure that we were getting history right and experiencing current cultural facts with understanding and wisdom.

After some personal contemplation I’d like to share two examples of having my opinions-without-much-knowledge challenged:

A Civil War museum in Little Rock, AR takes the visitor through a series of paintings, letters, photos and writings detailing the war from both the Confederate and Union viewpoints. Upon exiting, the visitor is asked to vote on whether or not the war was justified.  I did hold on to my belief that, at the end of the day, slavery could not be tolerated, but boy did I get a new ‘big picture’ view of the War Between the States!  It helped me be so much more objective and educated. It helped me get my history right!

P1060688

Likewise, at Fort Smith in Arkansas we learned about the Indian Removal Act. This is a subject I had always been rather judgmental about.  However, after really understanding the choices that were available to the young government, I laid down my strong opinions. I also learned that it is always a mistake to view 19th (or 18th or 17th…) century decisions through 20th eyes, culture, and circumstances.

Travel has indeed been the greatest of teachers for both Eddie and I and is indeed fatal to prejudice and judgmental attitudes.

For the Homepage of this Website, Click HERE, & remember to subscribe and leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you!

HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS WEBSITE CLICK HERE