BUCKET LIST ITEM: LIVING IN A BUBBLE

Some travel experiences speak for themselves. Either they speak to you, or they don’t. One place that comes to mind is Base Camp in Teralingua, Texas, on the Mexican border, where you can sleep in a tipi, casita, retro camper, lotus tent, a campsite, or a BUBBLE. This place is about ten minutes to Big Bend National Park and about four and a half hours to El Paso Airport. A closer airport would be Midland/Odessa at about three and a half hours away.

Although the idea of staying in a tipi intrigues me, it is the thought of staying in a bubble that really excites me. Base Camp in Teralingua has several bubbles from which to choose. With both one and two room options, the vinyl bubbles have air conditioning and heat, WiFi, indoor shower and toilet, Keurig coffee makers, mini-fridge and an outdoor seating area with private fire pit. The ceiling of the bedrooms is clear, allowing visitors to gaze upon the dark Texas star-lit sky at night, and the living room has a clear front so that guests can look out into the vast land before them.

one room bubble with expose front

One thing to keep in mind is that the one bedroom bubbles have a clear FRONT as well, and guests will be visible from outside while they sleep, although there are concrete privacy walls between the bubbles providing privacy from neighbors. My preference would be a two room bubble, which has ONLY the clear ceiling in the bedroom but a clear front in the living room. I would feel far more secure knowing that no one, absolutely no one, could see me while I gaze at the stars from inside my bedroom.

two room bubble with private bedroom (only exposed ceiling) and clear front on living room

All bubbles have a complete well-appointed and stylish bathroom with a shower, but the deluxe bubble has an outdoor shower and hot tub as well. These bubbles are considered “luxury” accommodations and range in price from $249-$349 per night for the single bubble (which accommodates two guests in a queen sized bed) to $349-$449 per night (which accommodates four guests in a queen sized bed and a pull-out couch).

As I envision staying in one of these bubbles, I think of all the puns associated with staying here, as the experience will cost far more than “the bubble”, as it is a bit pricey but will ultimately be priceless. I have heard many times that some folks “live in a bubble” in jest due to their outlook and philosophy about life on occasion, so why not “live in a bubble” for real for one night. I also have heard it been said that these days one needs to “live in a bubble” to keep oneself safe during the pandemic, so why not stay here now.

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Life is short; we have these five minutes on the Earth in which to make our mark or create a memory or two. Why not live life fully and with intention and stay in a bubble for a totally different experience soon. Just know that these bubbles fill up well in advance, so there likely will be no spontaneity here and will require advance booking usually months in advance. They are not especially easy to get to due to their remote location from any major town (San Antonio is about seven hours away), but the experience seems well worth the drive.

Life is good; carpe diem, friends…

photo credit: all photos courtesy of the Basecamp Teralingua website:

https://basecampterlingua.com/

DREAMS COME TRUE: NEW DISCOVERIES IN SAQQARA, EGYPT

photo courtesy of Archaelogy.org

While the world is in turmoil due to the pandemic, such wonderful things continue to happen in Saqqara, Egypt, which is located about nineteen miles south of Cairo and is a UNESCO site. Saqqara is a fascinating place and is known as the place of the famous “step” pyramid called the Step Pyramid of Djoser, one of the earliest pyramids in Egypt that inspired the construction of the Great Pyramid in Giza during the next dynasty. It is also here in Saqqara that archaeologist found multitudes of mummified cats, including mummified lions, too. Later archaeological digs in 2019 revealed the tomb of a man named Wahtye and his family, who may have been the first case of death by malaria ever documented.

“Book of the Dead Scroll” photo credit: KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images

Most recently, Saqqara was in the news again in January 2021 because of a new discovery of a funerary tomb of Queen Naert, over fifty wooden coffins, and passages from “The Book Of The Dead” by Dr. Zahi Hawass and his crew.

Artifacts from these digs will end up in the New Egyptian Museum, slated to open in June 2021.

Dr. Hawass is the previous Minister of Antiquities in Egypt and is a passionate archaeologist that reminds me of Indiana Jones in some way. He appears in many documentaries, and his enthusiasm is inspiring.

Life is good; travel to exotic places like Saqqara if you can after the pandemic lifts. Carpe diem, friends……

INSPIRATIONAL TRAVEL BUCKET LIST ITEMS IN AUSTRALIA TO SEE WHEN THE PANDEMIC IS OVER

I do like a good “pipedream” where my mind takes me away to a different place or time, where I think about the myriad of things I would like to see or do within my lifetime. “Pipedreams” keep me sane during the pandemic as I compile a list of inspirational travel destinations in my mind for a brighter day ahead when the travel restrictions are lifted.

  1. Lake Hillier or any of the “pink lakes” in Australia is truly a bubble-gum color pink lake on the northern shore “Middle Island”. This island is a remote area accessible by tours only. Contact the following site to get more information about how to book an aerial or boat tour to see the island from a distance.

https://www.visitesperance.com/contact-us

photo courtesy of HillierLake.com

It is thought that the pink hue in the lake is from the organism  Dunaliella salina, which thrive in salty environments like the pink lakes. The carotenoid red pigments secreted by Halobacteria and d. salina are responsible for the pink lakes’ otherworldly colors. These same algae also flourish in the Dead Sea.

If Lake Hillier is too remote a location to get to for you, you might try one of several other “pink” lakes in Australia such as those in this article below:

https://www.australia.com/en-us/things-to-do/nature-and-national-parks/australias-pink-lakes.html

2. See the wild kangaroos on a white sand beach in Lucky Bay near Esperence, Australia

photo courtesy of https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/site/lucky-bay (Steven de Geus)

3. Snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef

Photo by John Cahil Rom on Pexels.com

Life is good; find some remote place you’ve always wanted to travel to and find a way after the pandemic is over. Life is short, and we have only “these five minutes” within our lifetime to make the best of it as I always say.

Carpe Diem, friends…………..

LAUNCHING YOURSELF INTO SOMETHING GREAT/THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

“An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great.”

-Paul Coelho

Something to keep in mind today if you encounter adversity, especially during this pandemic.

Life is good; carpe diem, friends…

EAT WHERE THE LOCALS EAT ON RAINBOW RIVER IN DUNNELLON, FLORIDA (Swampy’s Bar and Grille)

Wanderlust at it again? Why not head out for some adventure at one of Florida’s Springs where you can kayak or canoe among some crystal clear water. I headed out to Rainbow Falls in Dunnellon, Florida yesterday for some time in the great outdoors. While the springs are particularly popular in the hot summer months, I personally find them equally refreshing in the winter months here in Florida, as there are far fewer people there in winter months.

The headsprings begin close to this area within the Rainbow Springs Park. You can arrange to rent a kayak or canoe here in the park to paddle an approximately four hour ride downstream through the Rainbow River and have a shuttle take you back from the end of the river to your car at the park. Along the way, you may see some gaters, otters, birds, and fish in the crystal waters or along the banks of the river.

Before you rent your canoe or kayak, take time to see the beautiful man-made waterfalls in the park while you are there. In January and early February you may catch a glimpse of some of the azaleas. When I went yesterday, February 7, there were only some scattered azaleas in bloom, as the peak of the azalea season had already passed.

At the end of your journey down the Rainbow River, you can stop at Swampy’s Bar And Grill, where the locals eat. This unpretentious and clean eatery has an amazing location and a dock where you can actually tie up your canoe or kayak while you eat. Most of the tables are outside or under a porch roof, although they have a few tables inside. It was breathtaking to watch the birds take flight before my eyes while I sat under some Spanish Moss in the adjacent tree. This is old Florida updated. This is adventure meeting with peace. This is a stop that soothes the soul at the same time if feeds the belly.

For the more adventurous folks in the crowd, there is alligator on the menu. For the less adventurous members of the crowd, there are standard burgers, fish and chips, ceviche, and some Louisiana inspired menu items such as jambalaya and red beans with sausage.

menu courtesy of Swampy’s FB page

The hostess at the hostess stand smiled at me through her mask immediately upon my arrival before seating me, and my server, Josh, greeted me warmly as well. I could see from his eyes that his smile under his mask was warm and genuine, and he made me feel welcomed by his conversation about nearby springs and growing up in the Florida springs.

I am a vegetarian, so I ordered the large garden salad and was satisfied with the freshness, taste, portion, and flavor of the salad, and I would definitely recommend this eatery for anyone wanting to finish up a day at the Rainbow Springs with a local, authentic eatery. Although I visited during the day, Swampy’s looks like a fun spot at night with its Edison lights and fire tables on the sand. Add that to my list to try another time, as my “bucket list” grows daily!

Life is good; carpe diem folks….get out and enjoy the outside during this wretched pandemic.

“May you LIVE all the days of your life.” -Jonathan Swift

THREE THINGS TO BE TRULY HAPPY

Photo by Andreas Wohlfahrt on Pexels.com

“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.”

– Tom Bodett

Life is good; find something that makes you happy today. Carpe diem, friends……..

TRAVEL INSURANCE DURING THE PANDEMIC/WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Photo by Benjamin Suter on Pexels.com

Wanderlust knocking at your door again? Thinking of traveling soon after you have your Covid vaccines? There is a lot to think about when traveling during a pandemic, especially travel insurance and what it covers.

I am re-posting these FAQs from a site that discusses travel insurance during the pandemic:

https://www.dfs.ny.gov/consumers/coronavirus/travel_insurance_faqs

Also, this site is good for giving some information for travel insurance coverage during the pandemic, too:

https://www.insuremytrip.com/travel-insurance-plans-coverages/coronavirus-travel-insurance/

Life is good; carpe diem friends…..stay well/stay strong!

SELF-CARE SATURDAY

I started drinking herbal tea when I was in the seventh grade or somewhere thereabouts. I still remember my Mother offering to make me a cup of tea at the time. I threw my head back laughing, telling her I would ONLY drink herbal tea in a beautiful teacup. I told her a mug simply would not do. After that day, my Mother laughed when she saw me drinking herbal time each and every time in one of her beautiful china cups with a delicate floral pattern and a saucer. It’s not so much about the tea as much as it is about creating a small, good, beautiful moment for me somehow.

Tonight, making my herbal tea, I took out my Mother’s china cup and made myself a steeping cup of pumpkin spice herbal tea, and both the tea and memories of my late Mother warmed my heart in a way that I needed tonight. Missing her, I connected my thoughts about her with happy and comforting thoughts tonight, trading my sense of loss for something that made me smile instead.

I decided tonight I would do something that I have not done in a while after a particularly busy week. I try not to structure my life so that it is “too busy”, as I value having time to enjoy my life and try to live my life with intention. I decided I would read by the fire and light all the candles in the room tonight, too, which is something I don’t usually do. I usually read outside at night on the lanai by the fire table, but I decided I would shake things up a bit tonight. There was such a peaceful feeling hearing the crackle of the fire combined with simultaneous scent of the candles nearby. When I need to shake things up, I try to do something I love, see something I love, hear something I love, touch something I love, smell something I love, or taste something I love. The senses invoke such strong memories for me and yet somehow ground me in the moment right now with a small good thing.

Within minutes of reading my book, sipping my tea, watching the fire, smelling the candles, and hearing the crackling of the fire, I felt centered again and quickly found peace. In a world full of turmoil with the pandemic and other disturbing current events from time to time, it helps to draw in a deep breath, exhale, and find peace in whatever way we can dial things down a little to enjoy the moment.

Life is good; try to dial it down a little tonight to find a way to create peace in your heart. Life is good…..

A LITTLE BREAK FROM THE ROUTINE WITH A “STAYCATION” CELEBRATION

There are those that live their lives with a great deal of routine, finding that routine is helpful to them to navigate their worlds more more efficiently. There are those that live their lives without a great deal of routine, finding that routine is monotonous, dull, and tedious.

No matter which side of the coin you find yourself, it has been said that “sometimes a break from the routine is the very thing you need.” (author unknown).

So it is with me; I found myself needing a break from all this talk about politics and the pandemic these days. I invited my friend to join me for a mini-break while we stole away for a few hours to the beach. I told her to clear her schedule, and we would eat our lunch at the beach today. Little did she know I was creating the experience in my mind, watching detail after detail flash before my eyes, inside my mind, as we spoke.

I have never had a true beach “picnic”. Each and every time I have eaten lunch at the beach here in Florida, the meal has been a blend of pragmatic and quick. I tend to pack my food in that ubiquitous little red and white cooler with a handle that I have had for many years. Normally, I deliberately choose things that won’t spoil if they get too warm on a hot day at the beach here in the summer. Ice packs on those hot days last only so long after all.

Today would be different. Instead of just sitting on my beach blanket, I wanted to create a beautiful moment in time for our “staycation” at the beach. My friend and I are both longing for the days when travel to far away places with beautiful beach parties and inspiring settings is again a viable option. For now, however, since we can’t change our worlds, we need to change our thinking. What we needed was a “staycation” for the day.

I had seen numerous pictures in the past of instagram-worthy “boho” dinner parties at the beach and had admired all the effort it must have taken to create an experience as beautiful as that. When my friend asked what she could bring to the lunch, I told her nothing at all. She is one of those people who is beautiful both inside and out, always doing something for others. I decided today was a good day to “pay it forward” to her, thinking about all that she has done recently for my family and me while covid knocked at our door, and I respectfully declined her generous and kind offer to bring something to our “staycation celebration”. Within a moment or two, I made up my mind to arrive at the beach approximately an hour before she arrived to set things up. The menu would be good but simple food. I recently purchased a sign that said “Good food. Good Friends. Good Times” and used it as my inspiration. Today would be a good time, but it would be simple. It would be different, but it wouldn’t be so labor intensive or costly, as I wanted to enjoy the day, too. I didn’t want to be too tired from all the preparations as the day gradually unfolded with laughs and good conversation. It all had to start with some sort of table, however, and a comfortable place upon which to sit.

I searched CraigsList for anyone who was giving away free wooden pallets, as I had seen some boho picnics use pallets as a table. Because we are very careful in the pandemic, the table would have to allow for a minimum of six feet for social distancing outside, as neither she or I have had covid yet. Although I love the look of using wooden pallets for beach tables, I quickly dismissed the idea, as it would be difficult for me to carry two wooden pallets on the beach myself. I then considered wooden “orange crates”, which would provide a two purpose approach to simplify things.

two crates in the back of my trunk

The crates would allow me to efficiently carry things onto the beach and once inverted could serve as a table. Two orange crates would suffice, I thought. I purchased them at Michael’s for about ten dollars each. After I set up the crates on my living room floor, they looked small and unimpressive. How could I infuse them with a little life to inspire a break from our routines? Certainly color would play a part. I began to think of all the little things I already had in the house that would dress up the scene unfolding in my mind. I decided I needed a centerpiece that was yellow, my friend’s favorite color. I somehow had to weave more yellow throughout the scene unfolding in my mind, too . I found a turquoise table runner with starfish on it that I had put away in the closet. I also had star fish and plastic coral that played a role in my beach-themed living room at home and a vase of yellow silk flowers. I set those out and decided I needed to create a longer “table” instead of two mini tables for this to work. I began thinking of using 2 x 4 wooden boards to join the two creates together versus a piece of plywood. I decided that neither was the right “look” I was going for in my mind and would be too cumbersome to carry by myself. I finally went back to Michaels and then to Hobby Lobby to find some sort of rustic unfinished wooden piece (maybe a sign) that would join the two crates.

I used my 40 percent off Hobby Lobby coupon for a sign that was almost three feet long to lay across the two tables and decided we would sit upon cushions from my couch.

Next, I went to Lowes to see if they had some sort of bamboo plant stake that I could insert into the sand easily at both ends of the table in order to string some tassel decorations from one end of the table to the other above us as we sat. I found some square six foot stakes with a pointy end for ease of insertion into the sand for about two dollars and fifty cents each and decided I would need four with some twine to lash them together.

Next, I decided I would try the Dollar Tree to get some yellow paper decorations and some plastic tablecloths. I spend four dollars there (two table cloths and two packages of decorations).

The menu would be simple and wouldn’t require much to transport. I thought a sandwich made in a hollowed out bread boule cut into pie-shaped pieces would give me a different look, and I would serve it on a piece of slate that I had previously purchased at World Market. A simple, classic dessert of strawberry shortcake came to mind, but how could I break out from my tried and true strawberry shortcake recipe? I decided I would layer it in a mason jar for easy transport and ease in eating at the beach. This strawberry shortcake layered mini trifle would be attractive to look at as well, and I had been inspired by eating trifle at my mother-in-law’s house this week. The sandwich, biscuits, and strawberries had the advantage that they could be made the night before, and all that I would need to do that morning would be to assemble the dessert after making a fresh batch of sweetened whipped cream. PERFECT! Why serve only one dessert when you can have two, though? I ended up making the strawberry shortcake in a plastic mini shooter glass from the Dollar Tree, as well. I made a peanut butter and oreo shooter, too. Two small desserts would be better than one dessert today. After all, it WAS a celebration.

My friend came onto the beach at the designated time today and was so grateful that I had taken the time to make our day together a little bit more special. Our “staycation” was a hit, and we both enjoyed “whiling away the hours” together and felt refreshed and ready for anything on our separate rides home. The best part was we were able to socially distance from at least six feet away (I used my pink tape measure) by setting up the cushions and tables MORE than six feet apart and didn’t even have to think about the covid distance during the meal, as it was previously set up to those necessary parameters. Total price paid for newly purchased items today: about sixty dollars. Sixty dollars for a new experience. I chuckled to myself at the check out with my purchases. As the television commercial says, “Some things in life are priceless. For everything else, there is Master Card.” A great experience and a little slice of humor to go with it somehow caused me to enjoy the day even more.

Life it good; carpe diem, friends. Try to find something out of the ordinary to do today to have a “staycation celebration” of your own if you can.

“May you live all the days of your life.”

-Jonathan Swift

ALL FIFTY STATES CLUB AND WASHINGTON STATE PLACES TO VISIT

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

Another year full of infinite possibilities. 2021 can be the start of something amazing.

It has been far too long since I’ve been on a long trip. With the pandemic still raging on, perhaps it is time to continue with some domestic travel to cross off my bucket list. I have previously decided that I would like to visit all fifty states in my lifetime and have only thirteen states remaining on my list.

Evidently I am not the only person with wanderlust in the country who aspires to visit all fifty states during his or her lifetime. In fact, there is a club called the “All Fifty States Club” where travelers can apply to join. The website even offers tee shirts and commemorative certificates of achievement as well:

http://travelgoalgetter.com/store/allfiftymembership.html

A year ago we had a road trip planned to cross off four states from the list, but life happened in the meantime, and our trip got postponed for now. Listed below are some interesting things I have uncovered in Washington State in the meantime that interest me:

I long to stay in the treehouses in Treehouse Point, thirty minutes east of Seattle. These whimsical treehouse lodgings in Issaquah, Washington feature comfortably appointed lodgings with tai chi, yoga, and massage on-site to round out your stay. One of my favorite treehouses there, the Trillium Treehouse, ranges in price from $375-450. per night. Because Treehouse Point is a destination for relaxation, children under thirteen are not allowed to stay overnight in the Treehouses. While there are shared private bathrooms on the ground level on site that are complete with a shower, toilet, sink and shower toiletries, only one treehouse currently has a toilet (the Burl treehouse). The treehouses are not handicapped accessible and are do not allow pets. A home made breakfast is included with all overnight stays. Most of the treehouses accommodate two people, but one treehouse can accommodate up to four people (the Upper Pond Treehouse).

http://www.treehousepoint.com/index.html

Other places I would love to see in Washington are Olympic National Park, where the rain forest there looks like something out of Star War’s “Empire Strikes Back” movie where Yoda trains Luke in the Jedi arts. At Olympic National Park I would love to search for agates at Rialto Beach within the park, too.

photo of Olympic Park rainforest courtesy of nps.com

Other places to find agates in Washington are at Damon Point in Gray’s Harbor County , Maxwelton Beach on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, North Beach in Port Townsend, and Glass Beach near North Beach, where visitors can find interesting pieces of sea glass as well.

Natural agate photo, courtesy of dreamstime.com

Seattle, Washington is a great city to visit, too. Of course you can visit the famous Space Needle, Pike’s Market, or you can see Chihuly Garden and Glass if you like modern sculpture. Dale Chihuly was born in Washington and started the glass program at Rhode Island School of Design.

Chihuly glass sculpture photo courtesy of Chihuly Garden and Glass

A visit to Mount Rainier is a common destination, too. Why not see something unexpected while you are there, though. There is a troll sculpture called the “Fremont Troll” under a highway overpass in Seattle, too.

Fremont Roll courtesy of Atlas Obscura

North of Prosser, Washington on North Crosby Road (map cordinates: 46.3619, -119.7242), there is an odd site known as “Gravity Hill” where your car appears to roll UPWARD if you put your gear into neutral. It is actually an optical illusion created by our brain, as your car doesn’t really roll UPWARD.

While you are in Washington, be sure to sample Theo chocolate (the first and only organic fair trade chocolate in the United States), Rainier cherries, red raspberries, Almond Roca candy, Dick’s burgers, fries, and milkshakes, apples, cream cheese dog (hot dog topped with cream cheese), and salmon.

Life is good; carpe diem, friends………time to get back on the “road again”….

“On the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again
The life I love is making music with my friends, and I can’t wait to get on the road again
On the road again
Goin’ places that I’ve never been
Seein’ things that I may never see again
And I can’t wait to get on the road again..”

-“On The Road Again” by Willie Nelson