AND WHAT IF THAT BUCKET LIST IS ALL WRONG?

83076900 © creativecommonsstockphotos | Dreamstime.com

Those who know me know I often speak about having a dream, or “bucket” list items, to live fully and with intention. A hot air balloon ride, a swim with the dolphins, traveling to see tulips bloom in Holland in the spring, seeing the pyramids in Egypt, seeing the Aurora Borealis….the list is so long for many of us. But what if thinking of our “bucket list” isn’t quite the way to do it? What if there is another way to enjoy those breathtaking and precious moments our lives?

I am reading a book right now called “Driving Miss Norma” by Ramie Liddle and Tim Bauerschmidt. This book is about a 90 something year old woman finding out she has cancer after having just lost her husband. Instead of going through palliative treatments designed to extend her life just a little bit, she and her family decided to take an RV trip throughout the United States and to “live” while she was dying, creating memories of new experiences and moments of joy. I thought the book would be about fulfilling those life-long dreams, or “bucket list” items before “Miss Norma” passes away, but I was wrong. Totally and completely wrong.

The book passages say, “Norma could not find the words to create a bucket list, although at first that is what we were hoping for. If, for no other reason, it would have helped with planning. “Oh, I don’t know,” she would say over and over again, and it became clear very early in our preparations that we were not going to get a list out of her. Sometimes I felt frustrated that she would not participate much in the planning. Was it her age? I wondered. Was her brain unable to retrieve language easily? Was she simply not used to dreaming or being asked her opinion about things? But I soon grew to appreciate the opportunities her reticence to make a list gave us. With out one, we could really go with the flow. There was so much to see and do, and more than anything Norma just wanted to enjoy life. A bucket list would be much too limiting. This trip was not about checking off predetermined items. As we had quickly learned from those first delayed plans at the Mackinac Bridge and our experiences at roadside attractions, this trip was about living in the present moment, embracing whatever came our way. There would be no regrets and no need to race against time.”

Such beautiful words. Such wisdom. After contemplating two opposite approaches to living fully (the “bucket list” vs. “going with the flow”), I have decided that either approach works, depending on our own individual personalities. Neither is wrong. Neither is right. I guess it all comes down to HOW one can live one’s life fully and how one can embrace whatever comes our way. For some it comes down to the bucket list, and for others it is living in the present moment, wherever the wind blows us with spontaneity.

Life is good; find a way to embrace whatever comes your way any way you can. No regrets. Carpe diem, friends…

WHEN WILL CRUISING RESUME?

Photo by Javier Camacho on Pexels.com

Wondering when cruising will resume? This re-posted article below outlines the latest restart dates/updates of several cruise lines as of May 18, 2021. Looking forward to the cruise industry starting up again. Best wishes for smooth sailing to all!

“Great people are not affected by each puff of wind that blows ill. Like great ships, they sail serenely on, in a calm sea or a great tempest.”
-George Washington

Hoping this last year will be only a “puff of wind that blows ill” for all in the travel industry.

https://www.travelpulse.com/gallery/cruise/the-latest-restart-dates-for-every-major-cruise-line.html?image=16

Life is good; carpe diem, friends….start making your plans for that bucket list travel now.

THE WONDERS OF WAITOMO CAVES: BUCKET LIST TRAVEL ITEM

blackwater rafting in the Waitomo Cave

Wanderlust during the pandemic? Are you compiling your travel bucket list during the travel restrictions? Starting January 26, 2021, all air passengers aged two and older must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test that’s no more than 72 hours old to enter the United States. Travel abroad is possible but needs forethought. I am looking forward to the day on the horizon when we are free to easily move about the world again soon. This makes international travel a little trickier, but we still can dream about where to go once things settle down a bit during the pandemic. But that means you have some time to consider some place magical, like the wonders of Waitomo in New Zealand.

Waitomo is a village in the north Island of New Zealand. It is here that a species of glowworms, Arachnocampa luminosa, lives within the complex cave system there. At Waitomo Glowworm Caves, you can walk through the caves to see the magical lights emitted by the glowworms, which appear almost as though they are from Neverland and are sprinkled with pixie dust everywhere. They also remind me of Christmas lights or constellations all about the cave. These caves are amazing and are breathtaking. Imagine walking through this place, or better yet, taking a boat ride through this enchanted cave. The boat tours here last about an hour, so remember to wear comfortable shoes and wear something warm, as the caves are about sixty degrees Fahrenheit year round. Prices for adults are about $40.00 USD for the weekend price, and about $18.00 USD for children. They also offer reduced weekday prices and family tickets, which are $74.00 USD for two adults and two children (ages 4-14). They charge about $11.00 for extra children, and children under 4 are free.

Taking a boat ride sounds great to me, but it is really the blackwater rafting that catches my eye. Blackwater rafting is like white water rafting but in the dark! Imagine floating around this cave on a tube with only the lights from the glowworms and your headlight leading your journey. Here you travel about 80 meters (262 feet) below ground, jump off a waterfall with a tube, and get started. Does this sound terrifying or exhilarating? Maybe both. Maybe that’s the point? What’s better than jumping off a waterfall and floating in the dark cave on a tube? A zip line, of course! One of these experiences also includes a zip line. The company offers several options for exploration, but the blackwater tours are either three hours or five hours long. What an incredible experience for a bucket list adventure. The website claims that both tours are appropriate for all levels of fitness; it seems that one only needs a certain lust for adventure.

The water temperature in the cave is around fifty degrees Fahrenheit, so the Waitomo Cave provides helmets with headlights, a thick wetsuit, and rubber boots with admission. The Black Labyrinth Tour adult prices are $109. USD and children’s (ages 12-15) prices are $93.00 USD. Week day admission prices are less. Showers are available after the trip, but bring your own shampoo, towel, and soap. Participants on this three hour tour must be at least 12 years old for this three hour tour.

The five hour Black Abyss Tour, which is more intense, requires participants to be at least 16 years old. This tour offers the zipline and costs $190 USD, although week day prices are also reduced.

Why not get out of your comfort zone to experience something really different soon? The website for the Waitomo is below for more information:

https://www.waitomo.com/glowworms-and-caves/waitomo-glowworm-caves

“Shine little glow worm, glimmer, glimmer
Shine little glow worm, glimmer, glimmer
Lead us lest too far we wander
Love’s sweet voice is calling yonder

Shine little glow worm, glimmer, glimmer
Hey, there don’t get dimmer, dimmer
Light the path below, above
And lead us on to love”

-from “The Glowworm” song by the Mills Brothers, 1953

Life is good; dream big. Take that trip in the near future. Go where you always have wanted to go SOON. Carpe diem, friends……….

*photos courtesy of the Waitomo Caves Facebook page

ROLLING THROUGH ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO

While driving through New Mexico a few years back, we just HAD to stop in Roswell, New Mexico for a laugh or two and certainly a few great photo ops. Roswell is the fifth largest city in New Mexico, and the city really got on the map in the 1940s when a military balloon crashed in a nearby area. Residents were convinced that this was a UFO, but the military maintained that it was a weather balloon. Conspiracy theories were created and gained interest, especially in the 1970s, when some conspiracy theorists suggested that an alien was onboard the alleged UFO.

I’m not sure of the validity of any of these claims, but it sure seemed like a fun place to visit. I would suggest only driving through the place, as the alien/UFO area is pretty seedy at the present time. However, many things on this stretch of road, route 285 or Main Street, leading through the city have alien-themed photo ops. Even the McDonalds is saucer-shaped.

Even the lamp posts on the streets had alien-themed lights. This is the ultimate kitschy place and a hoot to roll through.

One place that was an interesting, albeit short, stop was the International UFO Museum and Research Center, where there were many displays about the history of the alien hype.

Display at the International UFO Museum and Research Center

By far my favorite place in Roswell is the Alien Zone shop, however. For just a few dollars, you can go into this seedy (and frankly dirty) little place where you can take funny pictures with “aliens.” This place is priceless in my opinion for kitschy photo ops. Granted I wanted to go back to the hotel to take a shower after posing with some of these old props that could have used a good cleaning, it was worth the laughter thereafter.

There are several “scenes” where you can walk into and take pictures. Some of the scenes are better than others but definitely worth a few dollars (if you have some hand sanitizer).

Traveling through New Mexico, you just have to roll through Roswell for a few laughs if nothing else. It is out of this world.

Life is good; find somewhere kitschy to take photos and laugh thereafter, LONG after.

Carpe diem, friends…………………….

COPING WITH CORONA….ARMCHAIR TRAVEL TO ASSATEAGUE ISLAND

I had always dreamed of visiting Assateague Island in Maryland and Virginia since I heard all about it from some people I met many years ago. Another “bucket list” item. Assateague Island is the place where the children’s story, Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry, takes place. In the story, a family tries to raise a pony that was born to a wild pony on this island. During the summer, usually in July, wild ponies on the Southern tip of the island are rounded up and swim to Assateaugue Island. Here the ponies are auctioned off to control the size of the herd and to raise funds for the veterinary care of the ponies. This week-long event is a BIG deal, with over fifty thousand visitors from all around the United States and Canada. A short youtube clip below, by National Geographic, captures the excitements of the annual pony swim:

Of course I had to make the journey with my family to this special place, where you can camp among wild ponies, a few years back. What makes Assateague Island so wonderful, in part, is the availability of some campsites right on the beach. Imagine looking out your RV or tent only to find wild ponies walking through your campsite. It is magical and like nothing else I’ve experienced before. Part of the Island is managed by the National Park System, and part of the island is managed by the state park system. Camping is only available in the Maryland district of the island. Campsite reservations are required from March 15 until November 15, and the site below takes for reservations six months before then. Most weekends sell out quickly. From November 16 through March 14, campsites are first-come first-served . This is an experience for which you should plan ahead, as even the firewood needs to be purchased within fifty miles of the park.

National Park information can be found below:

Maryland State Park information can be found below:

https://dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/eastern/assateague.aspx

There seems to be some difference of opinion as to how these wild ponies got to the island, but most say a Spanish Galleon with these ponies aboard sunk off the coast, and the ponies swam to shore.

If you are traveling with children, a stop to Ocean City Maryland, might be a good place for the kids to burn off some energy after being in the car. Ocean City, Maryland, has a lot of beaches and a wooden boardwalk with shops, restaurants, and hotels. There is also an amusement park there, at the Southern tip, called Trimper’s Rides. This is a historic themepark, which originally was opened in the 1890’s. It is under new management now, and there were plans to add at least nine more rides in 2020. I’m not sure what the status of this new expansion is, however, with the current Covid-19 situation. Normally, the park opens from Memorial Day until October, and there are both indoor and outdoor rides.

https://www.trimperrides.com/home

For a unique camping experience, consider camping on Assateague Island. For those of you who don’t wish to camp, you can drive through to see the wild legendary ponies that live there. Keep in mind, however, that both Assateague Island parks and Trimper Rides are currently closed because of the pandemic.

Enjoy a little unique travel to Assateague Island when the travel restrictions are lifted. This would be a great road trip when that happens and something for which to look forward.

Life is good; carpe diem, friends…….

You can read all about the annual “pony swim” week here:

https://www.chincoteague.com/pony_swim_guide.html