Tag Archives: travel

You Can’t Drive to Hawai’i!

How did this revelation take place?

We were talking about vacations: ones we’ve taken and ones we’d like to take. Hawai’i was in the middle of the mix because family friends go nearly every year. The car reference was based on renting a car once on the island–My little one heard only part of the conversation. She thought I wanted to drive there. (D’oh!) LOL.

OK, Smartypants, if you can’t drive to Hawai’i, then how can you get there? By plane or boat, of course.

By Cole Vassiliou via WANA Commons

By Cole Vassiliou via WANA Commons

I don’t know about you and your family, but we have a how-to-travel debate often. One doesn’t want to fly. One does want to fly. Another goes cross-eyed looking at airfares for a family of four. The last cringes at the driving route across several states.

So, the thought of taking a boat to Hawai’i…. I can’t even fathom it. An expensive, long cruise on a ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean doesn’t sound like fun to me.

My BFF has taken a few driving trips halfway across the states, crisscrossing and site seeing for weeks at a time. A different hotel every night. A different adventure everyday. If driving to Hawai’i was an option, I bet her family would do it.

Whew! I’m already tired.

So my daughter asked if we ever went to Hawai’i would we take a boat or a plane, as if there was a choice. I wiped tears of laughter off my face. Did she really ask me that?

Where do you want to travel and how would you get there? Have you already been on an adventure that included different modes of transportation? Would you ever travel that way again?

A Witch, a Vampire, and a Skullhead

That’s what to you get when you combine good friends, a photo, and PicMonkey.  I was going to save this for Halloween, but I have to share the creepy now!

Deadly Sisters

Halfway through a scrapbooking* weekend with two of my close girlfriends, we took this picture.  I’d been dying to try out the Halloween effects on PicMonkey, which is an online picture editing tool.  (It’s free, but they have special royal effects that are free for a limited period of time.)

The site is super easy to use.  (Thanks to Kristen Lamb for telling me about it!)  Just upload your pictures and start playing.

Deadly Witch: Werewolf Fighter

The witch (Rachel) needed a gray complexion, pock marks, and witchy eyes.  (I love the eye effects!)  Black hair and a gray streak finished the look. Uh, no.  Something was missing.  In the standard editing area, we found the perfect lip color (make the color as subtle, or not as you want).  Something was still missing.  I tried a Frankenstein-type scar across her forehead, but then she suggested that this witch had a fight with a werewolf (and won, by the way).  The clawed scar over her eye was the perfect touch.

Deadly Vampire: Neck Biter

With a smile like that, Shannon had to be a vampire.  Have some fangs, sister, to go with that well-fed complexion and the brilliant eyes.  The fangs were the hardest to get right.  Nothing cutesy here. Don’t you think the veins add just the right touch?

Deadly Skullhead: Death Bringer

The Day of the Dead settings looked too fun not to use them on my own face.  I tried to make myself purple (seriously, you can pick any color!), but I didn’t look deadly at all.  Shannon nixed the purple right away because I looked cute–if a purple skullhead person can look not scary.  A pale gray complexion replaced the red one that replaced the original purple one.  I learned about layers and how the undo option works. You can’t undo an area after you move on to another area without undo-ing each step in between.  I promise that my hair isn’t really that gray.  A few pale veins on the bone complexion made the effect deeper.  Don’t you just want to smile back at me?

Happy Halloween

That’s my Halloween costume this year–right there in that picture.  It was a fun weekend with two of my close friends (I have more traveling stories about these two) and our friend Deb, who joined us briefly but left before I thought about this picture.

As I saved the photo, Rachel asked, “Is this going on your blog?”

Mwhahahahahaha!  Of course it is.  No way was I going to spend that much time on a photo and then not share it.  It was my evil plan the second we took the picture.  <evil grin>

*Scrapbooking at a fabulous crafters bed and breakfast doesn’t mean I have to scrapbook.  🙂 It’s just easier to tell people that’s where I’m going.

And now for my #ROW80 Update:

  • Need to work on the back garden beds to get ready for more planting.  It was too cold this weekend.
  • Work out and eat better.  Food does not define me, especially after two weekends away.
  • After a glorious weekend of research, I have rearranged my middle grade WIP outline and written 5k words.  Now, time to finish the draft (perhaps a mini NaNoWriMo?).
  • Blogging class and logline class are in full swing (WANA International).  Homework is progressing. 🙂

Flash Mob Failure

At dark-thirty this morning, my husband started texting me.  Here’s our conversation:

The Husband: Got here early just to find AA doesn’t open until 5

The Husband: The Fun

Me: Ick
(What do you expect?  It was dark-thirty.)

The Husband: Sing I am bored, standing here with 25 of my closest friends

Me: Start a round of “Row, Row Your Boat”

The Husband: Great idea. It will be on YouTube in a few

I asked my husband when he landed safely and returned home about that promised YouTube video of his closest friends waiting for the AA counter to open and singing rounds of “Row, Row Your Boat.”  Do you know what he said?

“Yeah, right.”

I admit that I didn’t expect him to create a video and post it, but that would have been cool to see an impromptu flash mob sing rounds in front of the AA counter while they waited for their flights to be delayed the counter to open.  I am glad my husband’s flight was not on the list of 300 canceled flights and was on time.

Anyway, flash mobs are fascinating.  A request goes out into cyberspace, the routine is posted, people practice it, and then they all show up and perform at the appointed time.  There are websites devoted to events.  There was one called Coloring Book Flash Mob this summer.  I so would have done that if it had been local (and I knew about it).  Any excuse to stop what I’m doing and use crayons for five uninterrupted minutes!

Here’s one at an airport in March this year:

What do you think about flash mobs?  Have you ever participated in one?  Would you dance, sing, or color with a group of strangers and then walk away as if nothing happened?  Use the handy comments box below and let me know. 

Celebrate World Chocolate Day

Today is World Chocolate Day.  Yum!  Chocolate is so popular that it has at least four other national days and a national week.  (Can you say marketing? Who makes these things up?)

The “Love you” squares were perfect to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.

Dark chocolate is my favorite.  I’m talking about 70-85% dark chocolate.  More than that is too bitter for me.  Less than that is too sweet.

The darker the chocolate is, the more bitter it tastes.  A former co-worker used to break off a tiny piece of 90-95% dark chocolate, put it on her tongue, and then sip her black coffee.  I tried it, but it was all too dark–I’m not a black coffee drinker to begin with.  She had definitely acquired a taste for the combination.

Rather than going on a semi-sweet rant about Dark Chocolate vs. Milk Chocolate, I’d like to share with you some handmade chocolates from around the world.  It is World Chocolate Day, after all.

It all started when The Husband went to Europe on business.  He took a side trip to Brussels, Belgium, and found the famous Manneken Pis fountain (yep, little boy peeing) on Rue de l’Etuve.  At that intersection are two Belgium chocolate shops across the street from each other: Neuhaus and Leonidas. Both shops have large chocolate imitations of the fountain’s little boy taking care of business (or having a contest with each other? *eyes roll*  I only mention it because you can see them in Google Street View.  LOL).

The Husband brought home a box of Neuhaus chocolates that we shared.  We split each piece and then savored the flavors–one piece per day.  After deciding that we liked the dark chocolates best, we ordered a box of them.  The Husband admitted that he tried the Leonidas chocolates, too.  They were delicious, but he neglected to bring some home.  Grr.

The Koko Black pocket poster..so you know what you’re eating.

Then he went to Melbourne, Australia, and brought home a box of Koko Black chocolates. While the Neuhas chocolates were flavors were the expected traditional pralines, nuts, and ganaches, Koko Black added spices (cinnamon, saffron, and chillies) and created unusual liquor pairings, including a caramel made with a Western Australian microbrewery stout. We savored the selection piece by piece, too.

When I went to Boston (hey, it’s still in the world) with a few of my friends, I saw a Max Brenner shop and restuarant.  There, I picked a box of dark chocolates to bring home to  continue our tradition.

Of the three, the Neuhaus chocolates are my favorites. Since then, I’ve discovered that they have a store and a cafe in not that far away from home.  Can’t wait to go!  Maybe I’ll go today for World Chocolate Day.  Yum.

Do you love chocolate as much as I do?  Would you travel the world or the Web for chocolate or another delicacy?  How will you celebrate World Chocolate Day?

Don’t Feed (or Chase) the Bears

The activity packet warned us about bears in the area–black bears, specifically.  A full page of things to do and not to do around the cabins.

To prove that men do not often read information, one of the men (name withheld to protect the not-so-innocent) in the family put trash out in the afternoon.


That evening, my brother-in-law spotted a smallish bear outside our cabin.  He called on his cell phone to tell everyone while he followed the bear around the back of the cabin in a wide circle.  A few of us ran outside (I know, crazy) to watch him follow the bear.

Black bears would rather avoid conflict

Here’s a picture he took from his cell phone. The bear is in the red box.Those of us outside watched from a greater distance while the cell phone photographer got a couple more pictures of the fleeing bear.We spent the rest of the week teasing him about chasing bears.  I don’t think he’ll ever live this down.

Later that night (1:30 am), my husband and I heard a terrble noise outside our room.  We had a first-floor, corner bedroom, and the cabin trash container was in front of one of our windows.  Something was trying to open the trash container.

What do you think we did? We got up and looked out the window, of course!

My husband shined a flashlight into the growling bear’s face.  It was much bigger than the bear that my brother-in-law chased followed the day before.

There we were standing three feet away from a very large black bear with nothing but a window and a wooden trash container between us.  With more noise from us and the flashlight blinding it, the bear disappeared into the darkness.  I’m so glad we weren’t in grizzly bear country (which is only in the far northwestern part of the country, according to my very knowledgeable 14-year-old).

My husband managed to take a few pictures of the bear, but I won’t post them.  They are about as interesting as a black bear on a dark night or a polar bear in a snowstorm.  Nothing to see.

The bear’s mess

Needless to say, I didn’t get back to sleep for a long time.

In the morning, we found that the bear had pulled the trash container door hard enough to break the latch.  A simple push on the door gave the bear access to the trash bag inside. It was quite a mess.You would think after TWO bear encounters in less than 12 hours, the family would get the message about putting trash out.




Bear tracks outside our cabin

The next night, the same big bear paid us another visit and took out the trash again.  I scared it off when I opened our bedroom door.  The hallway light was on, and it streamed into our room.  The bear ran away before my husband could take any pictures (sorry, Honey). I did get a picture of bear paws in the morning.

With another trash mess to clean up, we got our act together about the proper time to put out the garbage (before noon, so the facility could collect it before 5 pm).

The third night, my 14-year-old waited up to see the bear.  It showed up around midnight–a black ghostly form in the dark.  Without trash to keep its interest and with the noise we made looking for the camera, the bear left.

The bears knew which cabins had the older, not-bear-proof trash bins.  They were known to follow the same path every night.  Lovely.

I heard the big bear one other night, but it left us alone for the rest of the week.  Now that we’d gotten the trash pickup schedule down.  Sheesh.

Do you know what are you supposed to do if you encounter a bear? This website has great information. It also differentiates between black bears and grizzly bears.

If you want to check out were we stayed, go see the YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch blog. The Rocky Mountains are beautiful (that’s saying something since I grew up near the coast and love the beach).

What wild animal encounter stories do you have to tell?   Share in the comments below.  I’d love to hear from you.

Good and Bad Ideas in Colorado

In honor of a family trip to Colorado, I have a few good and bad ideas to share.

This is my first attempt at blogging from the WordPress app on my phone. If it looks odd I’ll edit from my computer later. 🙂

Good idea:
Picking out a rock at a shop to take home.


The legal way to bring home cool rocks

We had a great time shopping!

Bad idea:
Picking out a rock from a national park to take home.

Good idea:
Fishing with your kids on the
Arkansas River.
Bad idea:
Fishing with your kids on the Arkasas River from the Royal Gorge Bridge.

Seriously, the highest suspension bridge is not a good fishing location. I guess the sign is for extreme fishing enthusiasts crazy people.

Good idea:
Riding a ski lift to the top of a mountain.
Bad idea:
Riding a ski lift to the top of a mountain during a thunder storm.


My view as a thunderstorm let loose on us

Oh, yes, we did this. We rode the lift back down the mountain as the rain started and the thunder rolled. The lift closed before we got to the bottom. I don’t recommend it.

There are plenty more where these came from. After listening to my kids recite quotes from the Animaniacs for a couple of hours, these moments are jumping out at me. Here’s a list of all of the segments:
The Animaniacs “Good Idea, Bad Idea”