Posts tagged ‘travel’

I am the richest person in the world!


As I sit here looking out the window at the wood duck taking her early morning dip in the pond, the finches grabbing their breakfast from the bird feeder and singing their cheery songs, the antics of the chipmunks and squirrels, all the while the pups snuggled on their blankets taking a snooze I realize what a wonderfully rich life I have.


I start reflecting on the choices I’ve made in my life.  When I was 15 years old I worked at a little café named the Jolly Boy.  The owner was my mentor and he taught me so much during the time I worked for him.  He always talked about when he retired him and his wife were going to buy a motor home and travel all over the United States.  Just months after he retired his wife had a stroke and they never got to follow his dream of seeing the country.  That always stuck with me.  I just couldn’t imagine waiting my entire life to do what I really wanted to do and then not being able to do it.

Our latest family gathering at my sisters house on Easter

Our latest family gathering at my sister’s house on Easter

I decided that making a huge amount of money was not going to be my motivation in life.  Don’t get me wrong, I have always been a hard worker.  I believe that you do the absolute best job that you can to earn a living, pay your bills, and feed your family.  But spending time with my children and family, traveling, and enjoying life were always my priority and I did just that.  Throughout my life my family went camping, went on vacations, and had many, many family gatherings as we still do.

Working and making new friends in Alaska

Working and making new friends in Alaska

Ten years ago my children were raised and gone from home.  I had a wonderful job but felt that time was ticking away and I needed more time to do the things I enjoyed doing.  So I quit my job, rented out my house and went to Alaska and started my new life of travel and adventure.  I met new friends and had great adventures while I worked there.

Karen and Taty, a couple of girls I met in Alaska who became friends for life

Karen and Taty, a couple of girls I met in Alaska who became friends for life

After working in Alaska for several seasons my path eventually led me to pet sitting.  This was the perfect fit for me.  I absolutely love animals and I get to spend every day loving and caring for them while having the freedom to travel when I want to.

Watching Maddie & Zoey in Maryland

Watching Maddie & Zoey in Maryland

Wally, a cat with a huge presonality

Wally, a cat with a huge personality

I also figured out how to travel inexpensively.  This meant traveling all over Alaska sleeping in a VW van, spending New Year’s Eve in Times Square while staying in a hostel in Harlem, backpacking throughout Panama and Mexico, taking a three-month road trip around the entire United States and parts of Canada in my little 8-year-old Toyota Corolla as well as many, many other trips I have taken on a shoestring throughout the years.  Here are some of the many places I’ve visited over the years.

I swam with dolfins in Jamaica

I swam with dolphins in Jamaica

I swam with Manatees in Florida

I swam with Manatees in Florida

I took an eco tour in Laguna San Icnacio and had a close encounter with a huge but beaurtiful mama and baby grey whale

I took an eco tour in Laguna San Ignacio and had a close encounter with a huge but beautiful mama and baby grey whale

I saw Mt. Rushmore

I saw Mt. Rushmore

And Mt. McKinley

And Mt. McKinley

I've seen moose in Alaska

I’ve seen moose in Alaska

And buffalo in South Dakota

And buffalo in South Dakota

I've share lobster with my sister Kathy in Maine

I’ve shared lobster with my sister Kathy in Maine

And fried sardines in the Algarve, Portugal

And fried sardines with my friend Donna in the Algarve, Portugal

I've seen the Eifel Tower

I’ve seen the Eifel Tower

And the Teotihuacan pyramids in Mexico

And the Teotihuacan pyramids in Mexico with my cousin Bruce

I've had martinis in frozen glasses at Chena Hot Springs with Kathy and Susie

I’ve had martinis in frozen glasses at Chena Hot Springs with Kathy and Susie

Mimosas at Café Lalo in New York to celebrate my daughter and her fiences engagement

Mimosas at Café Lalo in New York City to celebrate my daughter and her fiancés engagement

Sangrias in Lisbon, Portugal with Donna

Sangrias in Lisbon, Portugal with Donna

And green beer in Florida with my friends Karen and Eunice

And green beer in Florida with Karen and Eunice

I've seen black bear in Alaska

I’ve seen black bear in Alaska

And Alligators in Florida

And Alligators in Florida

I've seen world famous productions

I’ve seen world-famous performances

And not so world famous but just as thrilling performances by my grandson LJ

And not so world-famous but just as thrilling performances by my grandson LJ

I have toured DC

I have toured DC

And went kayaking and hiking in Hawaii

And went kayaking and hiking in Hawaii with my friend Susie

I visited the Kuna Indians with their "moon children" on the San Blas Islands of Panama

And I visited the Kuna Indians with their “moon children” on the San Blas Islands of Panama

I've seen the Northern Lights in Alaska

I’ve seen the Northern Lights in Alaska

And Illuminations fireworks at Disney World

And IllumiNations fireworks at Disney World

I've backpacked through Mexico and Panama

I’ve backpacked through Mexico and Panama

And walked along the beaches of Zihuatenejo

And walked along the beaches of Zihuatenejo

Just recently I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a year taking care of my two youngest grandsons.  Being a part of their lives in such an intimate way was such a gift and since I don’t live as a traditional Grandma does, I was able to form a bond with them that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.  I will cherish that time with them for the rest of my life.

Happy grandma with LJ and Declan

Happy grandma with LJ and Declan

Kids just wanna have fun

Kids just wanna have fun



My bested boy!

My bestest boy!

Such sweet brothers

Such sweet brothers

I have now returned to pet sitting.  I am so blessed that I get to stay in so many different locations like the home where I’m staying right now, meeting wonderful people who have become an extension of my family and caring for all the different dogs and cats that I have fallen head over heels in love with.  Here are just a few that I get to spend my time with.

Brody and Calla

Brody and Calla

Reilly and Luna

Reilly and Luna

Poppy and Spanky

Poppy and Spanky

Maggie and Gus

Maggie and Gus

Whether venturing out on my own

Whether venturing out on my own

Or traveling with a group of friends...

Or traveling with a group of friends…

Whether having a personal adventure with one of my grandchildren

Whether having a personal adventure with one of my grandchildren

Or a huge party with my wild and crazy friends and family...

Or a huge party with my wild and crazy friends and family…

Or just cuddling up with a sweet pup that I'm pet sitting

Or just cuddling up with a sweet pup that I’m pet sitting

I know I'm the richest woman in the world!

I have enjoyed every step of my life so far!

And I look forward to where the next 10 years are going to take me.


So as I look out at the pond again and down at the sweet sleeping pups I think about how I, someone who in this society is considered poor, am the richest person in the world!

May 4, 2015 at 7:00 pm 1 comment

Mount Rainier

I’m going to take a short break from my travels and share with you the time I spent at the Paradise Inn at Mt. Rainier.  When I decided that I was getting too comfortable going back to the same lodge year after year (I had never intended to work at the same place for more than one season) I decided to leave Alaska and work at Rainier National Park in Washington State. 

As in Alaska, I met so many wonderful people from all over the world and had a great time supervising the lunch counters and delis at the lodge.  I had a whole crew from Jamaica.  What a great group of boys they were!  And what an absolutely beautiful area this was to work.  When I first arrived there were still several feet of snow at the lodge. 

Visiter Center buried in snow

Paradise Inn was built in 1916 and is absolutely magnificent with its huge cedar beams, tables, benches and Native American décor.


View from my room


As the season went along and the snow melted, the grasses and wildflowers started growing bringing the mountain to life.

On my days off I took drives to all the beautiful waterfalls and trails in this wonderful rainforest filled with moss covered trees. 

Almost every day I saw deer and fox as I was walking around the area. 

Magnificent Buck!

Mt. Rainier lodge was totally different than the Princess Lodge in Alaska.  In Alaska, most of the guests were coming from the cruise ships, older and not in great physical shape.  At Mt. Rainier, the majority of the guests came up for the climbing, hiking, picnicking and enjoying the mountain.  Many people came for the week-ends with their packed lunches and backpacks to enjoy the great outdoors.

It felt like you could reach up and touch the mountain!

Before I knew it, summer turned to fall and the vibrant orange and red colors started to appear.

A black bear started hanging around the lodge looking for a hand out.  Another sure sign that winter was on its way.

The last evening of the season the staff all got together in the lobby and watched “The Shining” a very creepy and fun old movie.  It totally reminded us of the lodge where we were, especially since this lodge is buried under tons of snow during the winter.  The next day as I was getting ready to leave, the bear that had been hanging around the lodge broke through the window into the dining room.  It was also starting to snow.  It was definitely time for me to go home after a great season!

January 14, 2011 at 11:33 pm Leave a comment

San Icnacio and The End of Baja

I’m saving the very best part of this trip for last.  Coming back up the Baja we stopped at San Icnacio again so I could make the hour long ride on a washboard, dusty road out to Laguna San Icnacio to see the whales.  I took an eco tour where the camp was right on the beach and had composting toilets and solar showers. This is where the grey whales swim down from Alaska to give birth to their calves.  This Laguna is known for its “friendly whales”.  For some reason the whales seem to like to interact with the tourist boats here, they would swim right up to the boat. 

Mind you, these beautiful creatures were four times the size of the boat I was in, yet they were so gentle there was no fear of them hurting us.  They would swim all around the boat and underneath it, sometimes gently nudging it with their backs.  One mother swam up to us with her baby cradled on her tail.  She looked at us with her huge black eyes for some time.  Then I guess she decided it was OK for her baby to come up and say hello.  The baby swam towards the boat, right up to ME!  I reached down and touched him and I will never be the same again!  Tears still fill my eyes when I think of it. 

It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever done in my life!  It was the perfect ending to a perfect trip!


Beautiful Whale




So close!

Baby Shale

The baby swimming up to me.

Mama Whale

Mama Whale

Mama and her Baby

Mama and her Baby


Up Close and Personal


The perfect ending to a perfect trip!

November 30, 2010 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Playa Santispac and Santa Rosalia

One of the most special times I had during the Baja trip was at Playa Santispac.  Not only did we get to camp right on the water, not only was the water crystal clear, perfect for swimming and kayaking all around the little islands, but one evening we had the pleasure of encountering BOTH a lunar eclipse as well as bioluminescence sparkling at the water’s edge.  Wow, what a spiritual experience to get to see two of natures wonders at the same time! 

Lunar eclipse

Lunar eclipse at Playa Santispac


Linda and Merle kayaking.

Sea Treasure

Crystal clear waters, as well as a sea treasure.

I have to say that the town of Santa Rosalia is probably the most unusual looking town in the Baja.  It was founded in 1884 by a French company to mine copper.  The houses look like they are straight out of a western movie.  Wooden houses (some whitewashed) with balconies and boardwalks lining the roads, nothing like the typical adobe or block style houses usually found in Mexico.  Another interesting thing about Santa Rosalia is their metallic church.  Story goes that this church was designed by Gustave Eiffel himself and built in 1897 for the World’s Fair in Paris in 1898.  Later it was dismantled and shipped to Santa Rosalia for the Frenchmen to worship in.  Quite a story and quite a town!


Metallic church in Santa Rosalia

 Next, my final post on the Baja (I promise!).

November 15, 2010 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Making Our Way Back Up the Baja

Los Barriles

I suppose you’re starting to think that I ate my way all the way down the Baja and back because I talk so much about the food.  But that’s one of the special things about traveling to different places for me.  Not only to experience the people, geography and culture but also to enjoy the food!  When we got to Los Barriles we asked the locals where we could find the best café in town.  They told us of this little family owned ‘hole in the wall’ place.  “Just go down the street and turn right at the alley, walk about half way and you’ll find it” they said.  Well we did find it!  It had outside seating encased in ivy and other greenery.  The owner was so friendly and gracious and the meal was fantastic.  A great authentic Mexican meal.

And this was only the appetizer!

When we stopped at La Paz on the way back up the Baja, Mardi Gras was in full swing.  Wow, what fun!  There were tons of people, venders and a parade.

Where did all the people come from???

Come back to read about Playa Santispac!

October 30, 2010 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Baja Part 3

Read Part 1 and Part 2 to catch up!

La Paz is one of the bigger and more modern towns in the Baja.  There are long sandy beaches all along the main street with sand sculptures, people sun bathing on the sand and fishing off the piers.  Cruise ships come here to let people shop.  There’s even an Applebees here.  I preferred driving out to the practically deserted beaches myself.  Sitting under the palapas and wading way out to explore the shallow waters.

Sand sculptures

Sand sculptures along the beach.


One of the many beaches we enjoyed practically to ourselves just outside of La Paz.


Sunset in La Paz

Todos Santos supposedly has the original Hotel California that the song was named after.  Don’t know if it’s true but it was a really nice place and was packed, so apparently lots of people believe it.  But we were more interested in spending our time on the water.  We camped on a beach close to Todos Santos for about a week where the fishermen came by every evening with their fresh catch to sell.  We sat on one beach for hours and hours watching the whales swim practically to the shore line.  We couldn’t pull ourselves away.  By the time we left we were burnt to a crisp but it was well worth it.  Wow, what a great life to get to experience these wonderful things!


Whales swimming close to the beach.

More Whales

More whales. Can't have too many pictures of whales. 🙂


The beautiful beach all to ourselves.


My favorite picture from the trip.


Sunset in Todos Santos

We finally made it to Cabo San Lucas!  We celebrated by buying lots of lobster and fixing it for dinner!  Muy Bien!!!


Lobster for dinner.


Buganvilla in Cabo

Are you guys tired of this yet? I hope not, because next I want to share the adventures we had on the way back home!

October 15, 2010 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Baja Part 2

Read Part 1 if you haven’t already!

After running off the road, we had the motorhome checked over in Guerro Negro, and then continued on our way down the Baja.

San Icnacio is one of the smaller towns we visited.  I really fell in love with the feel of it.  The little shops, sidewalk cafes and of course the church.  I think this is a place I could go back to and spend a lot of time.  Maybe open a café…hmm, I love to dream.  My whales are there too, which I got to see on our way back.  More about them later…

Baja - Town Center

Beautiful old mission in town center.

Baja - Friends

Linda, Merle, Mike, me, and Mary enjoying coffee in San Icnacio.

All along the way, we stopped at many interesting old cemetaries.  Mary loved walking through them and seeing the old stones, stories, etc.  At first I thought it was a rather strange thing to do, but eventually decided it was really fascinating.  There are so many different classes of gravesites, and all so personalized you could just tell the love the families had for their lost ones.  I learned to appreciate them as well.  Notice the wide difference in these grave sites.  From the wealthy to the poor.

Baja - Mulege

A cemetery in Mulege.


Loreto is an awesome town.  We camped right next to the water just outside of town so were able to walk along the water, or just sit and enjoy it.  When we went to town there were beautiful modern hotels and shops as well as the little vendors and cafes.  What a great mix!  I especially loved the tree lined walkway leading from the town center to the malacon where we sat and watched pelicans diving for fish.


A weaver in Loredo.


Us girls with our Baja jackets.


One of the great meals we had on our journey.

Stay tuned for Part 3 – where we head to La Paz!

October 1, 2010 at 8:00 am 1 comment

Me Encanta Mexico

After leaving Panama we arrived in Mexico City and made our way to our hostel, a really nice place for $12 a night (including breakfast) and on to more new adventures!  We hired a cab driver who took us to lots of historical places around the city, old churches and then to the Teotihuacan pyramids.  Wow, was this an experience for me!  To think of how long ago these were constructed and how they are still around for us to experience, how amazing!

The pyramids

Now that’s a bag of cheetos!!!

Next we headed for San Miguel de Allende, a beautiful little town in the mountains with cobblestone streets, a huge church rising from the center of town, and music playing in the town plaza every evening.  There were lots of Americans and Europeans here.  We enjoyed a wonderful concert at Café La Bueno Vita (the good life) one evening and went to a Cina/Bar another evening.  This was a first for me.  A cocktail, popcorn and a movie – all for only $7.50!

One of the many markets we went to.

The Plaza in San Miguel De Allende

Next stop Morelia, another beautiful old city where the Monarch butterflies migrate to.  I had planned to go out to see them but unfortunately it was too cold and the tour guide said the butterflies wouldn’t be out so they cancelled the tour.  Bummer!  Hopefully I will return some day to enjoy this wondrous sight.  From Morelia we headed to Zuhuatenajo where we met up with my sister Bonnie and her husband Gary.  What a fun little beach town this is!  Lots of great spots to go out in the evenings, beaches to hang out at during the day, and we even took an old rickety bus, which took us to an old truck, which took us to a more secluded beach called Barra de Potosi, a lovely spot with palapas and hammocks right on a secluded beach.  We spent a great afternoon frolicking in the waves and drinking Coronas!

Celebrating with my sister and her husband.

The truck we took to Barra de Potosi

Continuing up the coast we caught several bus connections and made our way to a little surfers beach called Barra de Nexpa where we stayed in a VERY rustic wooden cabin right on the beach.  Everywhere we went we had the best seafood and met the most interesting people.  We enjoyed one of many beautiful sunsets here as well. 

Our rustic cabin at Barra de Nexpa

One of the beautiful sunsets.

We got up early, Bruce boiled coffee in a frying pan (I told you it was rustic!) and back on the highway we went once again to wait for a bus to take to Cuyutlan, another beautiful little town with black sand beaches covered with hundreds of umbrellas.

Black sand beach at Cuyutlan

 Then on to Barra De Navidad and Puerto Villarta.  More lovely little and not so little towns with beautiful beaches and tons of fun on our way up the coast.  Our final destination was Solulita where we had rented a gorgeous condo and met up with 24 of our friends and family to spent our last week in Mexico.  What a perfect ending to an absolutely perfect trip!

Our beautiful condo in Solulita

My niece, grandson and brother-in-law.

My handsome son Ben and beautiful daughter Heather

The whole gang!

August 4, 2010 at 10:27 pm Leave a comment

Backpacking through Panama

I continued my adventure, living and working in Alaska in the summers and traveling all over the world in the winters. It was incredible.

On one of my trips, I went on a cruise to the Caribbean where I swam with dolphins.  This is where I discovered my love of the water and the animals that live in it.  I had always loved the ocean, but I had never been one to play much in the water. I was used to going to places like Ocean Shores where you wear a sweatshirt while walking along the beach.  But after this trip I really became drawn to getting IN it!

Swimming with the dolphins

My very favorite trip, however, was when I went backpacking through Panama and Mexico with my cousin Bruce.  Wow, what a trip that was!

We flew into Panama City and found our hostel.  From there we took trips in funky, brightly painted buses.

We saw the Panama Canal and traveled to villages along the ocean as well as in the mountains, staying in hostels along the way.  We went snorkeling in the Coiba National Park and hiking in a little mountain village named Santa Fe.  We even visited a small coffee plant.

We ate at quaint little cafes and saw people living in grass huts talking on their cell phones.

The greatest adventure in Panama was getting on an old rattley puddle jumper of a plane that took us to a rickety old dock where we were picked up by a man in a canoe.  He took us to one of the San Blas Islands for three days.  I have to tell you I have NEVER experienced anything like that before!  We were the only people on this tiny island besides the family who cooked for us.  We stayed in a little hut where we could feel the breeze of the ocean while we slept.  All I can say is that is was a very rustic experience, but one I will cherish forever.

My cousin Bruce hanging out by our hut

Restroom at San Blas

Men from another island came every day to see if we wanted them to dive and bring us crab or lobster for dinner.  Of course we said yes.  I had the best lobster I have ever had in my entire life on that island.  And I have to say it was a nice change from the meals we were served every day.

One day we had a man take us to one of the inhabited islands where it was so crowded there was hardly room to walk.  The Kuna Indians lived there who, for some reason many, many years ago, moved from the lush mainland to these tiny islands.  There were several albino children.  These children are worshiped by the Kuna Indians and are called “Moon Children”.

Amazing, right?

After reluctantly returning to Panama City, we got back in a plane and flew to Mexico City.

June 26, 2010 at 2:58 pm Leave a comment

Alaskan Adventures

Wow, what an experience Alaska turned out to be! This was totally uncharacteristic for me. I was always a very quiet, non-risk kind of person. My family and friends were the most important thing to me but venturing out to the unknown was not in my make-up. I got on a plane and headed out to Fairbanks. When I got off the plane I was bussed to Denali Park to a huge lodge. The company hired about 300 people for the summer season. The employees lived in a hotel about 10 miles from the lodge. I knew I was in Alaska from my very first day, when I saw a grizzly bear walking right by the hotel.

Grizzly by our hotel

I hired on as a housekeeping supervisor. This was a position I had never experienced before, but I did know what a clean hotel room should look like, so I just faked it. I guess it turned out okay because I received “employee of the month” and had a great time.

Besides working at something totally different than what I had done in the past, I met some really wonderful new friends and traveled all over the area. I found out that I was not the only middle aged woman looking for something ‘else’ in her life. We gathered every night at the “round table” in the cafeteria and learned about each other, took off on road trips on our days off, took tours of the park and saw bear, moose, dall sheep, and caribou, and made great new friendships. I still keep in touch with several of the ladies I met that first summer.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from that special time:

A B&B we passed by on one of our outings.

Mt McKinley in Denali Park

Me with one of Jeff King's (an Iditorod racer) puppies

Mama & baby moose that wandered into the lodge one morning

Group of us ladies on tour bus in Denali Park.

I ended up working at the same lodge for three years, moving from housekeeping to Food & Beverage. Each year I met lots of young people from all over the world, mostly from Eastern Europe coming up to this last frontier to work and earn money for their education. What great work ethics these young people had. It was quite an inspiration! At the end of the seasons the Northern Lights came out and gave us a beautiful show.

Northern Lights over the lodge

It was definitely an experience of a lifetime and started me on this new path in life.

June 14, 2010 at 7:21 pm Leave a comment