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.

balance

Mayhem

The month of May this year is summed up to me in one word: chaos or mayhem as the post is titled.

End of year banquets for school-related programs. Warmer weather. Busy business month. Graduations. Lots of graduations both in state and out of state. Summer-itis which is defined as almost summer but not quite. Vacations on the horizon but only anticipated at the moment.

Many extra duties to plan ahead for the chaos. Lots of extra budget dollars spent on gifts, travel and necessities like bathing suits. Wink wink. Not to mention gas prices are through the roof and groceries are equally painful on the price scale.

Mayhem. Chaos. Both words seem to sum up my month of May. I didn’t even mention the crazy news headlines of violence near and far. Insanity on the home front with guns in school and parents going crazy over this that and the other.

What was more celebratory in May? I circled back to reading my few pages a day of my current book that was put to the side temporarily. I caught up on some much needed rest. My sick dog made a miraculous recovery when odds were against her. I spent time with some of my favorite crazies. I took a dance lesson. I made time for fancy show downtown with friends. Many other fun and spontaneous events took place that created memories and happiness for me.

Despite the mayhem of May, I found my joy. I rededicated time to myself. I made the most of May. It was very important to settle amidst the mayhem of May as June and July are full-blown travel months for me. Gone more days than most. Living life to the fullest but knowing the homefront is handled while absent is equally important. The gentle balancing act.

What is hot and happening for you this summer? A new vacation spot? A new mode of travel? A staycation? A budgetcation? A new adventure? A big purchase?

Will you try anything new this summer? A hot new dance class? A theatre show? A comedy act? A farm experience? Skydiving? Learning a new hobby like knitting?

If you survived the mayhem in May, what can you challenge yourself with for June and July to make your summer memorable? Get your thinking cap on. I gave you plenty of ideas above. Share your stories of you do soemthing spectacular. I know I plan to dip my toes in the sand and ocean at least once this summer.

Happy summer to all our readers in blog land.

fitness and nutrition, giving

Poke Me Poke Forward

I’ve made it a point to try new things this year. New things include new foods. Today I experienced my first poke bowl.

I was a bit conservative with my choices but I enjoyed it and thought it was filling. I had double shrimp for my protein. They were small shrimp but they tasted good. I had some roughage in the bowl as well as crunchy onion bits, carrot strings and onion slices. I stayed away from the sauce and raw stuff.

I neglected to save a photo because I was too excited to give it a try. This meal was especially sweet because a loved one sent it to me via Uber eats. It came delivered nicely in a brown bag dropped on my porch. This was also my first time using Uber eats even though I didn’t actually place the order. 

What I learned in the process was how convenient Uber eats can be for somebody you care about that is a distance away. You can easily order online, follow the delivery status and communicate to the recipient for them to follow along as well. I even got a text showing it arrived. So convenient.

In my case this was sent from miles away in another state. I enjoyed the thought of a virtual meal with my buddy who was unable to be with me in person. Such a cool experience. I will be sure to pay this idea forward in the weeks ahead. 

My hope is that I send a meal forward and the recipient is as elated as me and pays it forward to another. Not to make Uber eats benefit but rather to share joy with others through a meal even if you can’t sit across from each other at a table.

Poke forward. That’s my motto for the weeks ahead. Maybe for a meal train for somebody in need. Maybe for an elderly person living alone. So many options.

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.