adventure

Cruisin’

For the first time in a long time, our family went on a full-fledged vacation together. It took several reschedulings, but we made it out on the Anthem of the Seas this past summer.

I had never been on a cruise. I have friends who swear by cruising as a travel way of life. After making my way around the Caribbean and coming back to land, I will say that cruising is it’s own kind of thing. I can see why people love it, for sure.

Here are some of my ups and downs of cruising:

The biggest plus…It’s all done for you. We come from a restaurant family. When we go on vacation, we generally always pick a place to stay with a kitchen and cook for ourselves. On the cruise, I loved never having to cook or clean up. Just grab a plate, have some food, and away you go. It was an amazing break. It helped us all to actually relax. No laundry to do. Even the bed was made each day. Bonus was ordering coffee to be brought to the room at 6 am each day. Which leads me to my next cruising kudo…

The water, of course. Our cabin had a balcony. I don’t think I would go on a cruise without it. Waking up, rolling out of bed for coffee delivery then taking 10 steps to sit on the balcony and watch the water, the rainbows, the dolphins, all of it. It was soothing at all times of the day and always the perfect view.

Endless entertainment. There was always something going on..usually many things from early morning yoga to late night ballroom dancing. I loaded my app with activities I might be interested in, from trivia at all hours to Elton John tribute performers, to a pretty amazing ice show (yup, an ice rink on a ship!). We played mini-golf and rode the water slide. Even a roving piano player who fit into elevators. I don’t drink, but drinking sure is a way of life on cruises. So was gambling (which I also skipped). And shopping, which didn’t really hold much charm on the ship. But the shows and activities were interesting. You could see the ship was designed to appeal to many different people and interests. (Kids clubs, teen events, adult pools, etc.) There were lots of families on board, and people of all ages. There was also a tour group of about 500 teens from Brazil who were quite busy taking insta-photos most of the time. So, you can customize things as you see fit, doing as much or as little as you like. We went to the gym each day, walked on the deck, grabbed a water for trivia, and just took it all in.

Learning as we go… There are so many little quirks to watch. People who are clearly cruising pros had towel clips to claim their deck chairs first thing in the morning. Cute little magnets for their doors signifying events or celebrations. The carpets in the elevators change to remind you what day it is. All the little lingo things that make cruising unique. It’s interesting as a lifelong learner and observer.

I also love the towel creations. I seriously looked forward to this each day.

As for the downs, there was just one major limitation…

Ports of call. We had a lot of fun doing some excursions. Swimming with the pigs in the Bahamas, kayaking and snorkeling in Haiti, but the strange thing is that I don’t feel like I can say I’ve been to either of those places. Whether it’s for ease of movement or to keep your dollars going to the cruise line, you don’t just get to traipse around the island at your ports. In our case, there was no way to leave the Haitian port of Labadee and the Bahamas stop was the cruise company’s “private island.” Both were nice breaks, but just sort of surprising to a person who likes to go to little local spots when visiting a place. Each spot felt like its own little cruise line amusement park. Not good or bad necessarily, just interesting.

Would I go again? Probably, but I don’t think it would be a regular thing. It was quite the opportunity to relax. I might hop a cruise with a few friends just to get away and have it all taken care of. You can really focus on just chilling and not worrying about pretty much anything. After you book it, the work required is minimal which is a break from the research-intensive part of travel (which I enjoy). I’d love to see what they do on a more upscale cruise line (even Disney!)

Chalk it up in the experience books.

adventure

Car + People + Train

Last year I put the car on the boat and lived a new experience in Cape May, New Jersey on the ferry. A short trip but fun. This year I opted for yet another adventure. The car train.

We loaded up in Lorton, Virginia just outside of DC and travelled south to Sanford, Florida. An interesting way to get to the beach but so glad I had the opportunity to give this mode of travel a try.

Party of three. Change of plans party of four.

I didn’t have an expectation. This is the best way to start any trip. I was looking forward to trying something new. Coach class we went. The car was checked in for 3pm. Humans loaded at 3:30pm. Train was in motion at 4:23pm.

We traveled over bridges. We had spectacular water views. We had horns that blew when we passed through towns. It was exciting. I even got a kick out of the back ends of life. We had sunshine but we also saw raindrops. We pass many many trees. We passed corn fields and other working farm land.

The back ends of buildings we normally never see is what I referred to above as the back end of life. The junky cars. The unpainted walls. The old dock doors that are now sealed up. Trash. Woods. Swampy areas. You name it. I feel like I saw it. From the big military plane at Quantico to the boat zipping through the waterway.

Coach was nice. Reclining seats. Tray tables that extended. Outlets to charge your electronics. Foot rest to prop your feet and plenty of space. I wish flying gave you this much comfort and amenities. Security was not what I expected which I suppose could be concerning. There were all types of people riding the train this day.

Food service until 11pm. Bathrooms on the level below. Continental breakfast at 6am. I almost forgot to mention I rode on the second level. The full range of windows. One of the best features to see the states in a very different way. 

I definitely give the car train a two thumbs up for a varied travel experience.  I will now look forward to another travel adventure thanks to this good experience. If I was to offer suggestions I would stronger encourage you to bring your own food/meal. Only meal options are microwaved in the upper level. Ramen noodles, hotdogs, mac and cheese to name a few. No fresh fruit or prepped salad option. Not a show stopper just a forward thought for others.

dare to be different

Crepe Adventures

I got a last minute invite to a breakfast spot I had never been to. I thought of why I shouldn’t go but then said I’ve never been so just go and check it out. I’m glad I made that decision.

It was fabulous! The table of girls did a share order so we could sample and to my surprise I loved all of it. Not just one, but three amazing and oh so different crepes.
First one was a sweet one. Big mounds of Chantilly (whip cream), fresh strawberries, and just a little drizzle of other sweetness. Great presentation and such a delicious delight that seemed so light. Maybe it felt light as we shared. No photo as it was gone fast.

Next one was eggs, chicken, and brie cheese. I wasn’t sure if I would like the chicken but it was flavored so well. Paired with the eggs and cheese was just right. It was not long until it was all gone. Every item on the crepe was just right. The seasoning. The presentation. The flavors. A repeat order for sure.

Number three was mushrooms, mozzarella cheese and strips of fancy bacon. A little crunch. A little munch. A lot of goo from the cheese. Oh was it tasty. Another one down the hatch. There were a lot of mushrooms but they tasted good and were sliced just right. I could see the care of presentation in this dish.

This little place was a great find. We all had so much fun we invited a few friends to go back the next day. Guess we needed to try some more crepe flavor combinations. So many to choose from. I am so glad I took a chance on a new place.

I almost forgot to mention I grabbed a coffee to go. It has a twist I couldn’t resist. Ice cream, caramel, espresso and Chantilly. Yes more whip cream. It tasted so good on my drive home. Sneaking a peek under the lid was confirmation of the goodness.

Until next time. Take a detour. Try a new place for a change. You might be surprised what you find.

adventure, perspective

Big Adventures and Moves

Summer of 2021 was full of big adventures. Lots of travel. Lots of adventures. Lots of big chess moves. Lots of learning. Lots of time to think and escape the normal.

I missed my dog Teddie a bunch. I wondered if the feeling was mutual. I made sure lots of people loved on my dog while I away but I was hoping she didn’t have doggie anxiety wondering when I would return!

Now that I tell you how much I missed my pup, I also adopted a new pup. Her name is Bear. Now I will have Teddie & Bear. Corny combo I know but the name was a group consensus. Oh the new adventures those two will have. The learning for all of us. The potty training. The sibling rivalry. As we waited for the arrival so much planning was underway. The pet supplies. The staging. Giving Teddie some separation time from me was part of that. Hoping all works out. Stay tuned for the Teddie Bear stories.

Travel. So many firsts. So many destinations. Some pit stops. Some short stints. Others qualified as vacations based on days away. I adventured with family. I traveled with friends. I met many new faces. I tried a ton of new things. I stepped out of my comfort zone to lean in when I needed to. I also spent a small fortune in summer 2021. However, I feel the time and money invested in memories I will cherish thus the money was well spent and so was the time. 

Growth. I made a big purchase. A sign of tremendous growth. Starting from nothing and building to something. What a feeling! I also sold a big ticket item. An investment hit its maturity time. A diamond hidden in plain sight. One overlooked by many but the one I eyed. Funny how one’s lens can differ in life when looking at the same thing. This makes me smile. I’ve worked my whole life to fine tune my lens of life. I see the big picture better now. I still need to check the lens often but I’m staying in tune where many will be content.

Hitting the pause button on a part of my life I’ve enjoyed for many years to stimulate growth in another. Will it pay off? I don’t know. That’s part of the adventure when making big moves. I kind of thrive in this chaotic space.

Wish me luck as I cross new waters and weather new storms. Physically and literally. I am writing this as I cross the waterway on the Cape May Ferry. A first time adventure for this girl. All aboard. The ship is sailing.

dare to be different

Blu

Blu was her name.

She was born in 1965.

She has lived many life stories.

She has had many adventures.

She has a solid core.

She has traveled many miles.

She is ready for new stories.

She ready for new adventures.

She will travel many more miles with me.

Blu is new to me.

Blu is a 1965 Chevy Stepside C10! She is a little weathered but she has aged with grace. She is the oldest car I have ever owned. She is a beautiful shade of powder blue. She is ready to hit the road or the show.

Her last job had her as a photo prop for many families looking for a cute photo setting. I guess the photographer has moved on to a new backdrop. Her loss is my gain. Now Blu is on to bigger and brighter adventures with me.

My first ride with Blu: I had the windows down. Air flowing through the cab as the engine purred. The oversized steering wheel was a blast to use. It somehow just made the ride complete. No need for the radio as I was listening to all the new sounds of the vehicle. 

I rode by the waterfront. Then traveled the back roads. I hit the speed bumps. I idled at the traffic lights. With each traffic stop,  I had some conversations with those admiring her beauty and badassery. It made me giggle a bit but inside I was beaming with pride.

Oh the memories I will make with this vintage vehicle. Definitely checked an item off the bucket list with this purchase.

Beep and wave if you see Blu on the road.