I started this blog to share some of the thoughts I have along the journey of life. I love to travel and spend time with my family and friends. A good meal, breaking bread with those I love, gives my life meaning. So does travel. I adore dreaming of sites to visit, not just to check them off on a list. Rather, I consider myself a student of life, traveling as an explorer, to open my mind to all the possibilities the world holds in store for me and for others. I love to travel to discover how different the world is in terms of climate, cultures, politics, terrain, economy, etc. but also to discover how SIMILAR the people are. Despite language barriers, much can be communicated with a smile or gestures. Language is simply a means to communicate, yet there are so very many other ways to communicate. Once when I was in French-speaking Canada, I realized that my 7th grade French class didn’t teach me the word for “straw”. However, when I thought about it, I was able to communicate to the very French-speaking waiter in a very French-speaking restaurant about my need for a “cylinder through which to drink” in my limited French vocabulary. Travel challenges the mind and soul, stretching us to problem solve and form conclusions about all that we experience. THAT is the type of travel I enjoy best. “All’s well that ends well”, as they say………….”Life is Good” as well.
Saga Cruises recently announced they will require vaccines for all guests sailing in May, and now American Queen Steamboat Co. and Victory Cruise Lines will require guests to have been vaccinated prior to sailing on July 1 or after. These cruise lines have a high number of guests over 65, so they are trying to keep this population safe while cruising. Crystal Cruises will also require full vaccination, two weeks before sailing, for all passengers once operations resume for their company.
Beyond this, Norwegian Cruise Line and Regent Seven Seas is working to require their crew to get vaccinated before they resume operations. In addition, Royal Caribbean Group, which owns Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Silversea will seek to mandate vaccines for crew and staff prior to resuming operations, if possible, as well. I hope this helps to increase traffic on future cruises after the pandemic has hit the tourism sector so hard.
Life is good; start making plans for your bucket list destination once the travel restrictions are lifted and you can safely resume travel again. Carpe diem friends…
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 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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
2. See the wild kangaroos on a white sand beach in Lucky Bay near Esperence, Australia
3. Snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef
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.
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:
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…..
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.
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.
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:
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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..”
from now on all our troubles will be out of sight…
Through the years we all will be together If the fates allow Hang a shining star upon the highest bough And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.”
-from “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by Hugh Martin
“A merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
No matter where or how you are celebrating Christmas this year, I wish you peace and joy with those you love, wherever you are, this year and always.
Spending Christmas in quarantine with only my immediate family gives me plenty of time this year to concentrate on Christmas breakfast when I am usually preparing the meal for mid-day for our guests. Christmas breakfast isn’t a replacement for our extended family gathering together, but we’ll look on the bright side this year and always. Qurantining at Christmas with my husband and daughter who have covid is different than we imagined Christmas to be this year, but we count our blessings anyway. They have only mild cases, so we have plenty of things for which to be grateful and time for home-made cinnamon rolls and a surprise breakfast casserole in the crock pot when they wake up. And then there is always making the gingerbread house together later on in the day this year as we always do; it always makes us laugh together, which is something we need during this pandemic.
Life is good; carpe diem, friends…and enjoy this magical day!
I met Diane about thirty years ago when she was middle aged and I was a young adult. She and I worked together, and she was one of the most inspirational people I had ever met at the time. My first impression of her was a well-kept, slim attractive woman who had a certain “joie de vivre” right off the bat. She wore professional clothing, and her suits were well-tailored. Her skirts were always hemmed well above the knee, as she had legs to show off and somehow knew it. She was always smiling and always looked on the bright side of things, despite her background and the events which occurred along the way. She was divorced and a single mother of an only child at the time of her divorce several years before I met her. She was married to a prominent member of the community but decided her happiness was more important than staying in a stale and loveless marriage. While I wasn’t sure of the details and circumstances of her divorce and had always believed that marriage was a forever commitment, I admired her courage and honesty to herself and others. She left the marriage and the financial stability that came along with it, living by herself at the time I met her in a house she had purchased with her salary. I got the impression that she didn’t work outside the house until her marriage ended. I admired her ability to make something out of nothing. You see, she clipped coupons and searched high and low for shopping deals each week. She told me she treated herself to a vacation each and every year out of the country since her son grew up and moved out of the house. She knew she didn’t have extra money in the budget to pay for these vacations, and that’s why she started clipping coupons. Her goal was to clip enough coupons to finance this vacation each year. I remember her lively laughter when she announced to me that the local market was actually paying for her to try a new product with the double store coupon and manufacturer’s coupon that she used in tandem to bring the price down. She actually did save enough money through sales and coupons to finance her vacation each and every year.
Diane tended to her yard and garden all by herself, as she was strong and very independent. She had a “strong faith” and knew that life was to be lived fully and completely. When she returned from her most recent vacation at the time, I asked her if she had any pictures to share. She handed me a roll of “prints”, which were from the old days of film, to sift through. I admired her photographic technique and how she captured the joyful faces of her traveling companions, too. Almost every single picture she showed me made me smile. One time I bumped into a picture of Diane that had inadvertently ended up in the pile of photos she was showing me. It was a picture of Diane with a sly, coy smile wearing nothing at all while standing behind an over-sized sombrero hat. I looked surprised by the photo, and she laughed saying she forgot to take that picture out of the set of prints that she handed me. She didn’t apologize, however, knowing there was nothing wrong with her photo that captured the moment beautifully.
I lost track of Diane through the years but think of her often. I recently looked her up on social media, and she looks great with the same effortless curly-locked hairdo she always sported. Evidently she is over eighty and now has a seasonal home in Florida with her male companion, who owns a Tesla. They drive to Florida each year in the Autumn, and she still takes care of her own yard there as well. I smile when I think of one of her social media posts that says:
“I have a watch that I bought about 20+ years ago for $1.75..yes…on sale at CVS 90% off!!!…and it tells the same time as a friend’s Rolex that cost many $$$ more…once again……….TRUE HAPPINESS IS NOT FOUND IN MATERIAL THINGS!”
She enjoys the finer things in life but doesn’t need them. She knows how to find true joy and happiness in feeding the ducks, having a good meal with a companion, and spending time with those she loves. She is at peace with herself and her world.
At last account, Diane wasn’t able to take a cruise with her companion in May during the pandemic when the rest of the United States waited indoors with caution. Instead she posted pictures in May of her previous cruise, finding pleasure in re-living the moment, as she knows how to savor her memories. Diane’s introduction on her social media pages says that she “works at living each day to the fullest” under her occupation, as she has since retired. There is a picture of herself and her companion dining with a wine glass toast that I love that captures her essence so well. Along with the photo there is a caption that says they are “brave souls”, as they were the only diners present at the restaurant that evening in Florida in May during the pandemic.
Diane routinely posts pictures of the ducks and lizards that visit her yard, as she notices and finds enjoyment in so many little things. One post on her social media says that “Every day is a new beginning. Take a deep breath, smile, and begin again.”
One thing that struck my interest in Diane’s social media page is her feelings about the pandemic:
“I read most of this, and it is quite scary to think of all those DROPLETS Etc. Etc……..at this point in order to not be exposed to anything and go on trying to live a somewhat normal life….I THINK EACH OF US HAS BECOME a HERMIT of sorts…JUST GO OFF SOMEWHERE AND LIVE ALONE IN THE WOODS???? I REALLY DON’T TAKE TOO MANY PRECAUTIONS EXCEPT WEARING THE MASK WHEN I GO TO THE MARKET…AND WASH AND SANTIZE MY HANDS AFTERWARDS but …I SAY ….LIVE AND LET LIVE…IF IT HAPPENS IT HAPPENS….WE ALL HAVE TO DIE OF SOMETHING…AND YES, I KNOW IT DOESN’T SOUND NICE…BUT I THINK WE SHOULD TRY TO BE LIVE A BIT BETTER THAN WE ARE NOW…”
Diane is a class act. A person that takes precautions but keeps on living a full life with intention, despite the world around her. She has learned to live like she is LIVING, not DYING.
Life is good; find your own “joie de vivre”. Carpe diem friends…….
Note: the name in this blog was changed to protect the identity of the subject, and the picture simply reminds me of Diane with her dark curly hair. The picture here is NOT Diane.
When the “Enterprise” Starship had orders to return to Space Dock to be decommissioned in “Star Trek: The Undiscovered County”, Captain James T. Kirk said, “Second star to the right and straight ’til the morning,” before he and the crew went on one last trip. This quote is originally from Peter Pan when he told Wendy how to find a star.
I can’t help but think of this quote during this historic voyage planned by our American astronauts here in Florida tomorrow on it’s first operational, not last, trip to take the crew to the International Space Station. Tomorrow’s flight, called “Crew-1”, is scheduled at 7:49 PM on November 14, 2020 from the Kennedy Space Station. Although astronauts were launched into space already aboard the space taxi, this flight represents the beginning of what is expected to be regular flights back and forth to space. It is also represents the first NASA officially certified commercial spacecraft system capable of transporting humans to and from the International Space Station. This is such an exciting time for space travel, first with the Space Force agency creation, and now this. So much for which to look forward!
The planned flight was originally slated for October but has experienced several technical issues, so it was pushed back to tomorrow from Kennedy Space Center. SpaceX forged ahead, despite these obstacles, to meet their goal with the visionary leadership of its founder, Elon Musk. Goal met.
American astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, and Mike Hopkins will join Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi on this historic mission tomorrow. The international cooperation in space and aboard the International Space Station is inspiring.
“Second star to the right and straight ahead ’til morning,” astronauts, and Godspeed. “Ad astra per aspera” (which means “from hardships to the stars”, the official motto of the State of Kansas with origins from writings of the philosophers Virgil and Seneca).
Life is good; find something to celebrate today. Carpe diem, friends……….
*The rocket launch was postponed until Sunday, November 15 at 7:27 PM and launched successfully.